Moon In Scorpio

Chapter 74

"Did you really fall off your bike … or was that just a smokescreen?"

Oh shit! This was not what she'd been expecting. Panic rises and she desperately turns her head towards the bedroom, but only the office bookshelves meet her eyes. Then realising that the more she delays, the more contrived her answer is bound to sound, she turns back to the girl. Options flash through her mind; should she tell the truth .. god no! But what about lying to his daughter .. is that how it was going to be?

Taking a deep breath she looks Alexis in the eyes and nods. "I was angry, not really concentrating on what I was doing and took a corner too fast, next thing I knew I was skating across the tarmac and crashing into some advertising panels … glass all over the place … it was a hell of a mess. Luckily the bike took most of the pounding".

Once again she's silently, if unfairly cursing Castle for putting her in this spot. Lying to the girl was the last thing she wanted to do, but telling her the truth not only terrified her for all sorts of reasons, it could also put them both in danger, what if she unintentionally ... the next question crashes through her thoughts and she silently berates herself for not having seen it coming.

"How come Dad was looking after you?"

This was not what she'd imagined her morning was going to be like and the image of a fish floundering out of water forcibly enters her mind. She's had enough of this, however sweet this girl is, she's firing all the poison pellets and hitting the target each time … so she's going to shift the target right now and get the hell out of here!

"I think you'll have to ask your father that question, Alexis"

"Is it that bad?"

Kate almost chokes at that and quickly shakes her head, "No!" then, suddenly realising that the writer was well capable of coming up with some concocted story which could paint her into a very tight corner, added "At least I don't think so …" and then mentally smacking herself for leaving that open, especially given the now intrigued look his daughter is giving her. "No! No … nothing like that …" shut up Kate! "uhm, it's just that I think its best he tells you .."

She's about to get up off the stool, her mind focused on simply getting out of the loft, when Alexis lays her hand over hers, stopping her in mid-rise.

Oh god! She obviously hasn't finished and in desperation Kate looks around, sees her empty cup and swallowing the lump in her throat, asks "Would you mind if I have another cup of coffee?"

"Oh gosh, sorry! I should have asked you, where are my manners! Would you like something to eat as well?"

It almost makes Kate gag, there's no way she could get anything past the lump now firmly lodged in her throat, but she manages a shake of her head and casts a forlorn look at the burgundy door leading to escape and safety.

With some blessed minutes to get her mind in order and the refilled cup now in her hand, Kate waits in trepidation for the next bombshell. She's given a little more respite, which only increases her nervousness, as Alexis heads to the fridge and pulls out the carton of juice, silently offers Kate some and on her headshake, refills her glass before returning the carton to the fridge.

What had been a lump in her throat now feels like a rope round her neck as the silence drags out. This girl would make a terrific interrogator she thinks, New York's criminals … especially if she herself is representative of them ... would be lining up to confess!

She tries concentrating on her coffee, attempts to ignore the redhead taking the stool next to her, but it's no good. Her own sense of responsibility added to the heightened guilt she's feeling makes her put her cup down and turn to face Alexis.

"Are you using him?"

The question, fired at point-blank range, hits her right between the eyes, shocking her into immobility and making her jaw drop in astonishment. Her own original thoughts about Castle, her doubts about his motives, her suspicions, come crashing to mind, rendering her incapable of speech. It seems an eternity before Kate can drag herself back to the present, lets her eyes refocus on the redhead before her, and she's still trying to formulate the words of denial in her mind when the teen gives a brief smile and turns back to finish her juice, "Looks like that's a no …" then turning her head back to look at Kate again, she adds softly, "Please don't hurt him" and then she's sliding off the stool and heading up the stairs.

Kate sits dumbfounded on the stool, watching the girl's jean-clad legs disappear up the stairs, her mind still struggling to cope with the last part of this … this interrogation. The whole episode has been one of her most terrifying ordeals; being cross-examined by a protective fifteen-year-old is decidedly on the never-to-do-again list. But there is a grudging sense of admiration burning through the resentment and the already high respect she has for Castle's daughter has gone up a few more notches.

The half-finished coffee sits forgotten by her elbow as she goes over the questions the teen had thrown at her. There must have been something that made the bike story sound inadequate, but for the life of her, Kate can't think of where they'd gone wrong.

The fact that neither of them had thought of coming up with a reasonable explanation of why she'd ended up in the loft in the first place was now a glaringly obvious oversight. Telling his daughter that she was helping with research was not enough, they should have come up with at least some reasonable story of how they'd met, what sort of help she was giving him.

As to the girl's suspicion that she might be using him, that was quite understandable, especially if she didn't have the whole story, the resentment at being accused of that when in fact it had been the writer who had almost kidnapped her and forced her into accepting his help! … not to mention having her own suspicions thrown back in her face … yeah, well that hurt … but she has to hand it to Alexis, the girl is one smart cookie and she's going to have to be extremely careful around her.

The writer on the other hand is going to get murdered, very murdered … hung-drawn-and-quartered-murdered … then she's going to kill him … slowly.

As if on cue, the office door opens and a decidedly befuddled looking writer makes his way out, the heel of one hand rubbing sleep from his eye whilst the other hand pulls the dressing gown about him.

A slow smile spreads across his face as he sees Kate striding towards him and he's about to ask if that's one of his shirts she's wearing when he suddenly finds his sleeve being grabbed and himself being inexplicably spun round and dragged back into the bedroom.

The smile gets even bigger as she shoves him backwards, his legs hit the bed and he tumbles backwards onto the mattress. "Wow! We having round two?"

Only then, as he lays there looking up at her, does her stormy expression register. His own grin begins to waver as he desperately tries to work out what he's done wrong, the Kate standing at the foot of the bed, hands on hips, green eyes flashing is not the one writhing under him earlier this morning, nor has he ever seen her like this in the weeks since he walked in on her in his office. His mind desperately scrambles through the contents of his laptop ... bookshelves … anything that might explain the fury standing before him.

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