"Hey, is it a good time?" she asks, pulling her feet up onto the couch and settling back against the cushions, lip caught between her teeth and the fingers of her free hand picking at the seam of her jeans.
"Any time is a good time Kate" and the warmth of his voice helps her nerves to settle somewhat. "I'm glad you called"
She's glad she's called as well, now that she hears his voice, though she's not sure where this is going to lead. "So …" and her mind goes blank.
She hears his amused chuckle over the line … well, airwaves … and feels the heat rising up her neck. Then he's interrupting her self-embarrassment with "How was your day Kate?"
"Well it started ok, then some goofus made me spill my mid-morning coffee and left me having to come up with all sorts of excuses for when I pick up tomorrow's dose" and she has to smile at how easy it is to banter with him, despite the potentially awkward situation.
"You should give the goofus a chance to make amends then, have him get you another coffee tomorrow, maybe something to eat, let him apologise …" and the deep voice and laughing tone ease her further. She's no longer picking at the seams, unconsciously she's twirling her hair between her fingers, smiling at his attempt to push the unspoken boundaries.
"I think we offered enough of a spectacle this morning, I wouldn't want to have the goofus turn it into a circus"
"Hmm, well, how about letting the guy make up for it by taking you somewhere quiet where you can both enjoy a coffee and don't need to worry about people sitting at the next table?"
"You … I mean the goofus does realise I only have a short break right?"
"Short breaks are the goofus' speciality … well and medium and long … anything involving a break, he's good for!"
She has to laugh out loud and shakes her head, "I bet!"
"So, same time as today? … just to let the goofus know I mean!"
"I don't know, depends on deliveries"
"So, how about we make it for roughly the same time, I'll … the goofus will have everything ready, you just call him when you get there"
"Ok, sounds good, but you'd better warn him, any over the top stuff and I'm outta there!"
"You're almost asking the impossible, but I'll make sure he gets the message"
For a moment they're both silent, not sure where to take the conversation. As usual it's the impatient Rick who allows his impulses to take over. "About your Mom's case, maybe you could come round to the loft in the afternoon, bring whatever you have so we can go through it … I'll understand if you don't want to … but …" he trails off, hating not having her in front of him, unable to gauge her reaction to his words, unsure if he's again pushing too much or not.
Kate looks around her flat, thinks of asking him to come here instead, but then she remembers his large touch screen, how he'd set out the contents of the Kate folder, she also admits there's a reluctance to have him see her place, not that there's anything wrong with it, it's clean, tidy, neat … small … and her last vestige of privacy where Rick Castle is concerned.
Maybe it's better to go to his place, she can leave at any time, doesn't have to accommodate him, watch his eyes judging her, her home …
"You still there Kate?" his voice brings her back to the present and she mumbles an apology, wonders if she appears as witless to him as she does to herself.
"How about I let you … I mean let goofus know tomorrow?"
"Sounds good, I …" he's not sure how far to go but again he's crossing his fingers and hoping for the best, "I really hope you say yes, I'd like to help if I can … I also have …" and then he clams up about the consultancy fee, not wanting to turn it into a commercial enterprise, "… well, as I said, I'd like to look over the case"
There's a moment's silence and he thinks maybe he's screwed up again, but she answers with a "We'll see what happens Castle, see you tomorrow"
"Goodnight Kate" and he lets out a silent thank you before adding "Have a good night"
"You too Castle" and she cuts the call, sits unmoving and staring at the phone still in her hand, brows knit as she wonders what he'd been about to say … he has what? Unable to fathom the cryptic remark she shrugs and dropping the phone onto the couch beside her, picks up the remote and turns the TV on.
Rick leaves the office slipping the phone back into his pocket and in a much more cheerful frame of mind. Alexis is already plating up and he's surprised enough to check his watch, he thought he'd only been in there for a few minutes but obviously their conversational pauses are longer than he'd thought. He helps her carry the food over to the couch, then whilst she pours herself a juice he opens the a bottle of wine, making a mental note to purchase a couple of bottles of Kate's favourite for tomorrow … in case.
Sitting back down next to Alexis he's about to turn the TV on when he feels her stare. Turning his head he looks down at her, eyebrows raised in enquiry.
"I take it that was Kate?"
Still staring down at her he simply nods his head
"You know you don't have to hide away right Dad? Not unless you're talking dirty" and there's a very amused look in those pale blue eyes which makes it extremely difficult for him to maintain a straight face.
But he manages to match her poker face with his own adding, "Just arranging for her to come over tomorrow afternoon, I have to pay her for her consultancy work and I'm also hoping she'll bring her Mom's case file so that I can have a look at it".
"Really? Case file? Since when have you become PI Rick Castle, the scourge of worthless cops and Gotham's saviour?"
"Since someone's about to go to bed with no desert for impertinence and irreverence!"
"My apologies to Batman and Co, I wouldn't want to sully their reputation by comparing them to Private Dick Castle …" no longer able to keep a serious face, Alexis has to grin at her father's horrified look.
"What have you done with my daughter, uncouth denizen of Arkham?"
"She's all growed up … this is what you get from now on"
With a sorrowful shake of his head, Rick turns back to his plate with a loudly whispered "Woe is me, for I have begotten me the very devil's spawn … who also murders the English language!"
"I wonder who I take after, maybe I should ask Grams" is her casual response as she switches the TV on and they settle back to enjoy dinner, Castle leaning forward to pick up his glass of wine and hide his grin from his daughter.
Then, leaning over to drop a kiss on her head he says "Promise me you won't get all 'growed' up too quickly Pumpkin"