Kate pours the last of the curdled milk down the toilet and adds the empty container to the other stuff in the bin bag. It's surprising how much needed to be cleared out of the fridge after three days away, not that she'd been expecting to be away that long, and the quick visit on Saturday to change out of the suit and into casuals had not given her time to check on things, keeping Castle's hand's off her whilst she'd changed had been enough of a challenge.
With a final look around she begins turning lights off and heads into the bedroom, a bit of peace and quiet and some deep thought more than welcome, even if the flat does feel cold and empty and the bed offers little challenge to Castle's.
The holdall's still on the bed, emptied of her clothes and she's about to push it up onto the cupboard shelf when she remembers the envelope he'd slipped into the side pocket. Lowering it once again she dives her hand into the side pocket and pulls the envelope out, dropping it onto the bed before pushing the bag up onto the shelf.
Removing her terrycloth robe, she drops it over the end of the bed and hastily climbs in under the covers, her pj's top replaced by the recently washed t-shirt to which she is staking a claim. Checking that her phone's charged and on the nightstand, she fluffs the pillows up behind her, pulls the covers up under her arms and somewhat nervously examines the envelope. She'd expected him to say something about it, but by the time she'd realised he wasn't going to, it was too late, Alexis was at the door waiting to say goodbye and one thing led to another and then she was watching him standing under the umbrella, getting smaller in the distance.
Kate holds it up against the light, not sure why she's procrastinating, she can make out what looks like a folded sheet of paper, nothing else, is it something he didn't want to say to her face to face? Then why would he want to call her …?
She slips her thumbnail in under the flap and slides it along, carefully ripping the flap till she can get at the contents. She slides it out and unfolds it, a thrice-folded sheet with his now familiar handwriting covering half the paper.
I was intending to include your first month's consultancy/royalty fees with this note, but on second thoughts and knowing how you will probably react, I have done something different.
Before you start screaming blue murder and throwing it back in my face, I want you to understand a couple of things.
Firstly, I am NOT BUYING YOU. As I told you that first day here, there are no strings attached. I am paying you not only for the information and advice you can give me, I am also paying you for your time.
But both of these are as nothing when compared to the inspiration you've imbued in me. Without you I would not be writing again, and for that I can never thank or pay you enough, that has no price!
So, how about taking three, slow, deep breaths and looking under the middle cushion of the couch.
Yours (and only yours),
Kate sits in bed staring at the note in her hand, mixed emotions chasing each other round her chest, head whirling as she re-reads it a second time. Yes, he'd told her he'd pay her … but he was going to a lot of trouble for the hundred bucks or two she'd been expecting. Knowing him that bit better now, she realises that he has probably gone way over the top here, and she's also annoyed at how well he knows her, pre-empting her rejection with words she can't refute,
She can't help the smile, though she really, really wants to, from spreading as she reads the final part again. Yes she's annoyed at whatever he's gone and done, but he's already diffused her trigger mechanism and somehow that's even more annoying, so with a huff she places the note on the night stand, slips he legs out of bed and hunts around for her slippers, pulling the robe up and round her shoulders as the chill air of the apartment bites through the thin t-shirt.
Turning on the main light to the sitting room, she pulls the middle cushion up and sees the envelope which he must have left here yesterday when they stopped for her to change. Picking it up she has to laugh as she sees Nikki Heat scrawled across the envelope and carries it back to bed with her, turning off the lights as she goes.
Back, in bed, with the covers once more pulled up around her she handles the envelope, twisting it and feeling the thickness between her fingers. She wants to open it and yet she doesn't … he'd hit the nail on the head with his cover note and she's still not sure how far she's ready for this.
Then, with a deep breath she rips it open, turning it upside down and shaking the contents onto the bed. Studiously she keeps from staring at the scattering of greenbacks on her duvet and checks the envelope's empty before placing it to one side. Lying in the middle of the small pile is a piece of cream-coloured paper, seemingly ripped from a notebook and she picks it up first, turning it to read the single sentence he's written across the lined paper; No strings attached, though I'm all for bondage if you are too!
"Yeah, I bet, well you can get your own cuffs!" she laughs and laying the paper next to the envelope gathers the banknotes together; Ten Ben Franklins and a George Washington the latter catching her by surprise and making her quirk an eyebrow; One thousand and one dollars! Way more than she'd been expecting though once she gives it a bit of thought realises why he'd gone for the number, but Jimmy Valote's payment should be covered by the prints for the moment, assuming Lanie can pass them on and if Castle is really going to help her out with the cops, Jimmy will be lucky to get the dollar bill from now on.
She knows why he's done it, but there is no way she can accept this money, she's done nothing to earn it … on the contrary, he's the one who's looked after her, taken her out to eat, paid her coffees at Bob's … no she's not going to accept this … this … well, ok, it's not charity and it's not payment for sex, without his note she's well aware how opening this envelope would have sparked her anger, made her feel like a cheap whore … well, ok, an expensive one … and she can't help the grin curving her lips momentarily as she imagines him pointing out the difference.
No, she'll give it back to him just as soon as she can, replacing the notes in the envelope, then having second thoughts, pulls out the one dollar one, maybe she'll keep this one just as a memento. Propping the envelope against the bedside lamp, she grabs her phone, pulls the bedcover up round her neck and settling back against the pillows hits the dial button. She purposefully ignores the fact that she now has him on speed dial.