Moon In Scorpio

Chapter 46

Rick Castle slips on his jacket, picks up his phone and checks for missed calls or messages. Several there, but none of them the ones he was hoping to find. With a shrug he drops it into a pocket, slides open the desk drawer and pulls out the little felt bag with his mother's jewellery and slips it into his pocket.

He walks into the Aesa jewellers on Crosby Street, one of his regular places for purchases and one of Martha's favourite shops. He's barely stepped through the dark grey door when Melissa walks over to welcome him. There's an exchange of hugs and cheek kissing and wafting perfume which he complements her on and she leads him over to the left-hand counter, the Yolande Batteau designed backdrop framing her raven dark hair and statuesque figure to perfection.

"So Ricky, what can I do for you?"

"I've some pieces my mother's bought from you over the last couple of years and I'd just like to have them cleaned up and checked over … I'm sure they're fine, but she thought one of the stones might be a bit loose"

Melissa takes the bag from him, glances at it but avoids raising any eyebrows. Each piece had its own box when sold, but she understands a client wanting the convenience of carrying several pieces in one pouch, even at the risk of ruining the pieces as they knock or rub against each other. Though she may disapprove, she's not about to tell one of her best customers how to treat expensive jewellery. Sliding the pieces onto her hand, she lays them out on a felt cloth sitting on the glass-topped counter and gives them a quick appraisal.

"They look perfectly fine, but I'll certainly give them a clean and check for any play in the settings. Is there anything else you'd like to look at?" she asks as she slips each piece into individual cellophane sachets which she then marks with his name and the work to be carried out.

"Not today thanks Mel, but I expect my mother will be around over the next few weeks with Christmas coming up. One thing, can you make sure she doesn't know about this …" he adds, waving to the sachets sitting on the counter, "… I'd like it to be a surprise"

"Of course, no problem, they should be ready to collect tomorrow, shall I give you a call?"

"That would be fine, thanks Mel"

There's a second round of hugs and kisses and then he's out on the pavement hailing a cab and telling him to head for University and Tenth. He slips out a few doors from Amorino's and checks for the Harley. It's not there so he walks down to Bagel Bob's and pushes in through the door. Bob, recognising Kate's mysterious benefactor, waves him over to the end of the counter, leaving his assistant to deal with the queuing customers.

"What can I do for you today Mister Castle?"

Rick's surprised and pleased to be recognised "You know who I am?"

Bob shrugs "Kate showed me a book of yours when you paid the first lot of coffees, she just wanted to make sure it was you, I guess"

Rick swallows the slight disappointment at not being recognised for himself and pulls out his wallet, winking at Bob and saying, "Just wanted to pay for the next month's instalment"

Bob's surprised, he'd assumed the whole thing was some sort of joke, but the guy's obviously taking this seriously. Kate had been pretty pissed off at first but then she'd seemed to accept it so maybe it was better to get some money in the till and worry about possible fallout later.

He grabs a calculator, works out the monthly cost of her coffees, glances at the writer and adds a few dollars more to round it off … the guy probably won't notice anyway. He shows Castle the amount, watches him dig out the bills without querying and picks up a pad and pen. He writes Kate across the top of the paper and the amount paid by the writer and drops both the bills and the note into the till.

"Any messages?" he asks, glancing at the marker pen up on the shelf next to the takeaway cups.

Castle shakes his head "Not for the moment, maybe later" then looks around, spots an empty table over to one side and points to it. "I'll take a coffee and a danish whilst I'm here" and heads over to claim the table.

He's invading her space and he knows he might be pushing it a bit, but he'd expected to hear from her last night and it's now Monday and he really wants to see her. So, ok, maybe it isn't a good idea, but he's willing to take the chance.

He's half-way through his coffee and enjoying the fresh danish when the rumble of the Harley makes him look up. He watches through the large plate glass window at the front of the room as she pulls up just outside the UMS offices next door. Admires the way the form-hugging leathers fit her slim body, the red and white highlights breaking the shiny black outfit which without them would look like the kind of cat suit he imagines Nikki Heat wearing. His mind's brought back to the present as she pulls her helmet off and reveals her face. He'd noticed on Saturday that her hair seemed slightly less auburn than before, slightly longer, and now in the cold light of day he's sure he's right.

She swings her leg over and stretches by the bike, Castle's aware that he's not the only one admiring the view, which makes him feel absurdly jealous and he's glowering at the back of a number of heads turned in her direction. Then she's disappears from sight and he assumes she's walked in next door.

Checking with Corrine that there's nothing for her, she tells her she's going to Bob's for a coffee and moments later is pushing the café's door open, gratefully making her way into the warmth and thinking of the coffee she's about to get. She comes to an abrupt halt halfway to the counter when, casually looking round the place she spots Castle over by the far wall.

He's looking at her, a smile on his face and her first reaction is to return it. Then she's remembering last night and the smile drops off her face. She sees his own smile falter, being replaced by puzzlement and she hesitates, thinks about turning round and walking straight out again. Then with a sigh she heads for the counter, aware that Bob's watching them, not missing anything. He hands her a coffee, making no comment and watching her as she heads over to the table where Castle's waiting with some apprehension.

She drops down into the chair opposite him, plops the paper cup down on the table with more force than she meant to and the coffee slops over the side, landing hot on her fingers and making her hiss in a mixture of frustration and pain. She lifts her fingers to her mouth, licks the spilt coffee off them and then goes to grab a paper serviette from the holder at the side of the table. Her hand knocks into Castle's as he's anticipated her and is already pulling one out for her.

"What's up Kate?" he asks, concern in his voice and not a little puzzlement.

She's silent for several moments as she concentrates on wiping her fingers dry, avoiding looking at him as she tries to ignore the sensation of their touching hands, the worried look he's been giving her, the concern in his voice.

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