The phone rings several times before he picks up, and from the noises she guesses he's been writing, the slight thump which is probably the laptop being unceremoniously dropped on the desk, the squeak of his chair as she imagines him leaning back, a further clump which are probably his feet being placed on top of the desk.
"Hey" it's a warm response to her call, the voice low and familiar.
"Hey" she returns, an unbidden smile curving her lips, "I just wanted to let you know I looked under the cushion …" and waits
There's silence at the other end, and she can almost hear the cogs turning.
"Oookeey … and um, am I dead?"
"No Rick, you're not dead … yet. But we have to discuss it, there's no way I'm taking that money off you, not after the way you've treated me …" and he cuts her off
"Kate, it has nothing to do with what I've done for you or you've done for me, it's a just a normal and very ordinary business transaction for the help you're giving me to write this book, not to mention …" and now it's her turn to interrupt.
"I'm not taking it Castle, and that's final!" an edge to her voice. There's a growl of frustration from the other end and she can't help grinning to herself; round one to me!
"Ok, we'll talk about it some other time; I don't want to argue with you right now. Did you get back safely?" well maybe she's not quite won that round yet, but the concern in his voice makes her drop the matter, maybe over the phone wasn't the best way to discuss it.
"Uh, no, Simon drove like crazy up a one-way street, jumped the limo over a burning fuel tanker and then stranded me in the middle of a gang war … what do you think?" and she's grinning at the chuckle she's hearing.
"Yeah, ok miss smarty-pants, let me rephrase that. Are you all warm and sexy and curled up in bed thinking about me?"
"Uhm, well, I'm cold and feeling far from sexy, and stretched out in bed thinking about George Clooney" she says,
"Anything to contradict me, huh? Want me to come over and change all that?"
"You think you could?"
"Do I think …?! " and she has to laugh at his assumed indignation "… honestly, it won't take me more than twenty minutes to get there" voice serious now, the deep tone sending a shiver down her spine and almost tempting her.
"It would be great Rick, but I need to be up and compos mentis in less than six hours' time … and you would be no help there!"
"Chucking the legal jargon at me are you Beckett?"
She laughs, "Sorry Castle, just practising for the visit to Hearst".
"You going to tell Marty you're cold and feeling far from sexy and stretched out in bed? Wow! That should get me a fantastic deal!" and they're both laughing at the ridiculous direction this is going.
"Seriously Castle, take care tomorrow ok?"
"Kate, as I told Alexis, I have no intention of getting myself into trouble during the investigation, I'll just see what we turn up, that's all"
"Rick, you forget I've seen you up close, 'seeing what turns up' … I know what you'll do if you think there's a mystery to solve … I don't want you getting hurt …. and not only for your daughter's sake", turning over onto her side and pulling the cover up over her shoulder, a sudden chill making her shiver.
He recognises something in her tone, senses her worry, and also thinks that her insecurities are poking their heads up above ground again, making her wonder. He decides to pre-empt the doubts.
"How about heading over here tomorrow evening, then I can tell you what I've found out?"
He knows he's taken her by surprise from the indrawn breath, and wonders if he's guessed correctly. There's a slight pause on the other end, hesitancy and then she's asking, "How about you coming over here Rick, I know it's not as comfy or geeky as your place … but I … I think I'd …"
"You'll feel more secure hearing it in your place, surrounded by your things?" he interrupts her.
There's a half gasp, half laugh from her and though he can't see her, he senses the shake of her head. "You know Castle, that's creepy!"
"Is that a yes then? Want me to pick up something to eat on the way?"
"Yes and no. I'll get something for us, just let me know when to expect you so I can start cooking"
"How very domestic Beckett, should I bring a change of clothes?"
"You expecting to get lucky Castle … or are you casting aspersions on my cooking abilities?" and though she tries for the icy tone, they can both hear the lie in her voice.
"I am lucky Kate, no doubt about it" his voice totally devoid of laughter, completely honest with her and she has no doubts about his meaning, feels the rush of heat in cheeks and has to smile down at the phone, though he can't see her.
"You still cold and feeling unsexy, and stretched out in bed thinking about George Clooney?"
"No, I'm beginning to feel warm, and someone's making me feel quite sexy and I'm curled up … and who's George Clooney?"
He lets out a laugh and then he throws in the bombshell "Love you Kate"
She lays there staring at the wall separating her bedroom from her bathroom, the shelves with her very personal items; the family of carved elephants plus the two individual ones, one of these holding a rolled up note in its trunk, the little stick man her Dad had made from the flotsam picked up at Coney Island after the funeral, the little wooden jewellery box from her Mom … she sees none of this. Instead she's picturing the writer, cobalt blue eyes staring into her, reading her like no one else, the pouty little boy mouth that she really needs to kiss only she won't let him know that …
"Kate?" his worried voice drags her back to the present and she becomes aware that she's dropped the phone onto the bed just by her hand. "Kate?" and the voice is louder, fear now overlaying his voice.
She grabs the phone, fumbles and nearly drops it onto the floor this time, catches it and brings it up to her face again "Castle, what … what did you just say?"
"I … I said … love you Kate …" hesitatingly, all the fun and laughter wiped away, insecurity, worry and consternation laid bare.
She comes up with the only thing she can "I'm still not taking that money Rick" the wonder in her voice barely masked, and then he's releasing a sigh of relief, a rueful chuckle reaching her ears and a barely heard phew which he must have muttered under his breath.
She pulls her knees up and pushes herself further into the pillows, pulls the covers tighter around her with one hand and holds the phone up to her ear with the other. "You know Rick, I'm feeling nice and warm all of a sudden, any idea why?"
"George Clooney's kissing your toes?"
She giggles, a totally girlish giggle for which, under normal circumstances she'd be slapping herself, "Goofus!"
"Ah! Our friend Goofus strikes again!"