Moon In Scorpio

Chapter 86

Saturday is a typically wintry November day, a cold grey sky which promised rain later on, a chill wind coming off the Hudson River which is blowing the few remaining leaves from the skeletal branches of trees in the J. Hood Wright Park.

They walk along the path beside a large planting bed, its mature trees and wind-blown grasses fenced with metal inset panels depicting beavers, mice, pumpkins, raccoons and other creatures. The relief work is inventive and completely appropriate to have adjacent to the children's playground which is cleverly modelled after the George Washington Bridge. They admire the artwork, Rick making up ridiculous stories about each creature and Kate helplessly laughing and pulling on his arm when a middle-aged lady glares at him as she hears the tail end of his story about the racoon. They make their way up to the terrace on the hill to the right of the park; it offers a few benches and stunning, unobstructed views of the real George Washington Bridge, the Hudson River and New Jersey.

Rick pulls a folded sheet of paper from his pocket, unfurls it and they both compare their current views with those on the paper. The Photostat copy shows a large, elderly, silver-haired man behind a large antique desk. The plate glass window behind the desk offers a vast panoramic view of the Hudson with New Jersey glinting in the sunlight on the far side. In the very bottom, right-hand corner of the window, they can just make out one of the steel suspension towers of the George Washington Bridge. Turning their backs on the view, they stare up and across at the glass clad building on the corner of the park. The tall, stark, modernistic structure clashes with the surrounding buildings, none of which are more than six stories high.

The blue-tinted glass reflects the surrounding buildings on the lower levels, then stretches up into the glaring greyness, it makes Rick shiver, and he doesn't know why, maybe he's imagining her up there, hanging from a rope … a tug on his arm pulls him out of it and he glances down at her upturned, inquiring face. He offers her a half-hearted smile, "Writer's imagination …" he says and then, tucking her hand into his side adds, "… lets go grab something to eat!"

It's raining when they exit the diner, not yet heavy, but the pale grey sky of earlier has turned dark, roiling clouds building up over the Hudson to the west and umbrellas beginning to sprout like mushrooms along the sidewalk. They hail a cab and just make it before the first bullet-like drops begin to drum on the roof. They huddle in the back, Kate running her hands through her damp hair as Rick gives the cabbie instructions.

The loft is warm when they push the door open, the lights are on and the windows at the far end of the room, frame cascading silver rivulets of rain against a dark sky. It's only early afternoon but already gives the impression of night-time. They're pulling off their jackets when Alexis comes dancing down the stairs "Oh! Great, you're back! Grams and I were about to play Clue, you two up for it?"

Rick glances at Kate, eyebrows arched in inquiry and she grins, "Sure, but I'd better warn you guys, I don't take prisoners!"

"Is that so?" says Rick, his competitive streak coming to the fore, "well you'd better know that I'm the champ … so get ready to get whopped!"

"Oh yeah? If you thi …" Kate feels her arm being grabbed and finds herself being dragged along behind a very determined redhead and has to laugh as Martha watches them approach, an arched brow aimed at her granddaughter.

Alexis shrugs, "If I didn't Grams, they'd still be arguing in the doorway" she says and Kate has to concur. Castle heads to the kitchen and calls out if anyone wants coffee. Kate asks for one and joins Alexis on the couch as the girl lifts the lid off the box and hands her the board adding, "Grams always plays as Miss Scarlet … says it reminds her of 'Gone with the wind', and Dad and I always argue over Colonel Mustard … but you get to choose first" she says holding out her hand with the different playing pieces in her palm.

"I'll take Professor Plum then" says Kate, glancing across at Rick and adding "That way I can carry out experiments on your Dad" and has to grin at the look he throws her way. Rick reaches the coffee table and places her cup next to her before taking his place on the other side of Alexis. Kate watches as father and daughter throw die to see who gets to be Colonel Mustard and catches his glance of amusement as Alexis raises her arms in celebration as her five beats his three.

"I'll be Reverend Green" he says glancing pointedly at Kate, "and I'm going to kick someone's holy ass today".

Before she can answer him, Martha gives him a pained look and says "Richard darling, must you?"

A slightly abashed Rick looks at his mother and apologises, throwing Kate an exasperated look which is almost too much for her as she tries to keep a straight face.

All but Martha have won a game by the time they take a break. Rick was a bit wary the first time someone suggested the murder had taken place with a knife, but it didn't seem to affect Kate and after that he'd relaxed, bemoaning the fact that Alexis keeps blocking the doorways of the rooms he want to enter.

Martha moves to the windows and begins to draw the curtains; Kate jumps to her feet and joins her, helping to pull the curtains across the other windows, shutting out the dark and rain. As she turns back she catches sight of Rick hiding one of Alexis' cards under the board and when he realises he's been observed, he shrugs somewhat defiantly at her. With a shake of her head she turns back to Martha and before she can say anything gets a 'hands in the air' gesture from her "It's my granddaughter who's the mature one Kate, I'm hoping you'll help me out with the child over there" chin pointing at Rick.

Kate can feel the heat rising up her neck at the implied meaning and stuffs her hands into her back pockets as if that would help, only to get even more flustered as she catches the amused look on the actress's face when she turns away.

Castle's insistence on playing another game and then another as Kate wins three in a row means dinner's pretty late and only the combined wishes of the 'Three Witches' as he calls them convince him to call it a day and pack the game away. All four sit round the kitchen island, making do with left-overs and some tinned soup while Martha regales them with some of the antics her acting students have got up to over the week.

The room's in penumbra as they lay stretched out on the couch. The rain can be heard thrashing against the windows every few minutes as gusts of wind blow down Broom and there's something soothing about being in a room lit only by the flames from the fire and the two mellow table lamps behind them.

She'd been intending to head home tonight, but the late dinner, the warmth of loft and the sounds of the torrid weather outside had made it easy for him to brush her intentions aside, and now, here she is, nestled against him and having difficulty in keeping her eyelids open against the mesmerising flicker of the fire. The sudden glare of lightning through the curtains, followed a few seconds later by the crash of thunder has her snuggling even closer against him and he's chuckling as his arms wrap tighter around her. Maybe they should move this party into the bedroom, but she's feeling too lazy, too comfortable as they are and the next glare of lightning makes her twist her body around so that her face is nestling against his chest, the next clash of thunder just a far-off rumble as she takes in his scent and feels her lids dropping closed.

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