The Wedding Date
One Year Later…
Kate let herself into the loft, dropping her keys into the bowl resting on the credenza by the door. She let out a breath, the exhaustion from the long day at work sinking in. But she was glad to be home. She smiled. That had not taken long, had it? She still had her apartment, yet over the last couple months she'd been spending more and more nights at the loft. It was only a matter of time until she eventually officially moved in. And, like a lot of things in her relationship with Richard Castle, that didn't scare her as much as it would have with someone else.
After depositing her coat and bag on the sofa, Kate made her way into the kitchen where, much to her delight, she found a freshly made pot of coffee just waiting for her. She grinned happily, and poured herself a cup. Holding it up to her nose, she inhaled deeply of the rich blend that he always made for her. He so spoiled her with all these expensive and exotic blends. Unintentionally he had also ruined the precinct coffee for her. He'd tried it once, when he came to pick her up for a date night, and had immediately spat it out, his face scrunching up in disgust as he glanced up at her.
"How can you drink this swill, Kate!?" he had declared. "It tastes like a monkey peed in battery acid."
While his metaphor was rather colorful, it was still the truth. The coffee in the break room at the 12th precinct was terrible. Kate much preferred the coffee Castle made for her. He knew exactly how she liked it, and always made sure she had a fresh cup when she needed one.
Kate rested her hip against the counter and took a moment to simply enjoy herself. She glanced about the loft and smiled softly, recalling the memories she'd made in the place over the last year. It hadn't always been easy, they'd shared some ups and downs, and had some really nasty, drag out fights—mostly over her 'obsession' with her mother's case, but in the end, they had only grown stronger and closer together. She had never been so happy or so much in love.
Funny enough, it had been one of those fights that had changed everything.
At one point, several months ago, Castle had accused her of using her mother's death as an excuse, holding her back from fully committing to them and their future. He asserted that if he could give up his profession and start anew in his attempts at being a writer, she could—at the very least—pull back a bit on investigating so that they could work out what they both wanted out of their relationship. It was ridiculous. Kate had thought he was being too harsh and hostile. She'd thought it was obvious what she wanted from their relationship, but then again, she had never been good at communicating that in previous relationships. And, at that time, Kate was still primarily staying most nights at her apartment instead of the loft.
Much to her embarrassment, they even had a row at the precinct right in front of all her colleagues. The argument had become so heated that Castle had accidentally knocked over the ceramic parade of elephants that Kate had on her desk. It had been her mother's. Kate had been so angry when it cracked opened on the bullpen's hardwood floor. But then they had spotted a mini-cassette lodged in a hidden compartment.
That argument had ended up breaking her mother's case wide open. On the tape, Captain Roy Montgomery—her boss and mentor—spoke with the man who had ordered her mother's death. She was shocked and devastated to learn of her superior's involvement. Her colleagues, Detectives Ryan and Esposito, felt just as betrayed as she had.
When confronted with the tape, Montgomery admitted to the truth. He offered himself up, confessing to taking part in an extortion scheme in the 1980s that was targeting the city's mobs and gangs, and how during one of their escapades he'd accidently shot an undercover FBI agent. His partners-in-crime had helped him cover it up. But their scheme was discovered by a rising star in New York's political circle, a young Assistant District Attorney, who had his eyes set on higher office. The ADA had blackmailed them for the money they'd extorted from the mob. And he had then used that money to become the man he was today—the leading candidate in the upcoming presidential election: Senator William Bracken.
Ultimately, Kate had forgiven her captain. It had been difficult, but despite his flaws, Roy Montgomery was still a good man. His testimony, along with the tape and files he'd kept as insurance, helped bring justice to the decade old murder. With Bracken behind bars, Kate was finally at peace. And she was able to fully move on and embrace her future.
It seemed so long ago, now that she thought about it. Like another life. So much had happened since then: The 12th precinct had got a new captain, Kate was able to fully reconcile with her father, Maddie and Harry had twins, and with her encouragement, Castle reunited with his estranged Broadway diva mother, Martha Rodgers. And to top it all off, Castle also wrote and published his first novel in years. Their relationship, it seemed, had rejuvenated his passion for writing and storytelling, and much to her chagrin, her boyfriend based his new character on her. Nikki Heat. Kate hated the name, thought it sounded more like a stripper name than a cop name, but she couldn't deny how flattering it was to be his muse and inspiration. And it helped that he did justice to the character and her story.
A contented sigh left her lips.
She was happy. There was no denying it. Yeah, life was good.
"Hey, you're home, I didn't hear you come in," Castle's smooth voice startled her out of her reverie.
Kate inclined her head, taking another sip of her coffee, before setting the cup down and turning around to accept his comforting and warm embrace. He wrapped his arms around her, one hand slowly running up and down her back in a soothing manner that helped to ease the fatigue of the day. Kate hummed in appreciation, closing her eyes as she melted into him, and basked in his support and love. After a long beat, she pulled back and pushed up on her toes, meeting his mouth with hers, kissing him deeply.
"What was that for?" asked a pleasantly delighted Castle.
"Nothing," she said with a sly smile. "And everything."
"Oh?" he teased with a grin, waggling his eyebrows suggestively as his hand dropped down her lower back to cup her backside.
Kate ducked her head down and giggled, playfully swatting his chest as he dipped his head down to steal another kiss from her. A little moan escaped her throat as his tongue swept across her lower lip. She let out a contented sigh as he pulled back, grinning.
"And here I thought it was because of this," he said with a pout.
Kate frowned in confusion as he retrieved a small velvet box out of his pocket and held it up for her to see.
"Rick?" she gasped in surprise, completely blindsided.
But before she could inquire further, Castle was bending down on one knee and looking up at her like she was the only woman in the world. Her heart jumped into her throat and tears started to wet her eyes as he popped the lid open on the small velvet box, displaying the simple, yet elegant diamond ring within.
"Katherine Houghton Beckett," Castle said in that smooth, charming voice of his. "Will you marry me?"