It was quiet, a faint breeze in the aftermath of the storm blowing across and rustling the trees before it was disrupted by the sound of footsteps down the aisle.
"Mrs. Cora?" a voice said, making the woman look up.
"Chief Davis," the woman said with a sigh. "What can I help you with? I told you before that I have an alibi for the day before yesterday."
"That's not why we're here," Brad replied. "Is this your motorcycle?"
Though she didn't want to Mrs. Cora turned her head and gave a brief glance to the photo the chief was holding. "I don't own a bike; neither does my husband," she told him and the two with him.
"Oh, you do," Brad replied. "We were able to confiscate it not too long ago. Interesting modifications you made and according to your neighbors, it used to be blue and silver not green."
"You were in my house…" Mrs. Cora began before she trailed off seeing the paper in his hand. "It belonged to a friend of his and-" she started.
"It's yours," Castle said. "We spoke to your neighbors and they've seen you riding it; back when it was black; it's gone through a lot of color changes."
"Get out," Mrs. Cora said, a snarl on her face.
"Turn around," Brad replied easily. "Turn around Mrs. Cora you're under arrest for the murder of Eileen McGale and Frank Fletcher."
Expecting the woman to put up a fight Beckett was startled when she allowed Brad to handcuff her until she looked at her face. She sighed as they walked after the chief to his squad car and said, "I wonder if she'll talk."
"I saw that too," Castle said with a nod before they went over to their own car. She drove them back to the station and they were both quiet, both thinking over what might happen when they got to interrogation. As soon as Mrs. Cora was in the room he asked Brad, "What are we doing?"
"You'll come in with me," Brad told them both. "Better we outnumber her since she obviously likes to be in control."
"You'll be walking around?" Castle asked.
"Best thing to do," Brad said, tapping his uniform he was wearing that day. He nodded to the room and together they walked into it with him last to close the door. "Mrs. Cora," he said simply.
"I might call for a lawyer," the woman replied.
"Oh, go ahead," Brad said.
"This is just a formality," Castle commented.
"We were hoping to hear of a motive for the murders but I guess we'll have to make do with all the evidence," Beckett finished before she and her husband started to stand up.
"Wait," Mrs. Cora said with a heavy sigh. "You think I killed… whoever you said they were. Why would I do that?"
"We were wondering about that ourselves," Castle began, he and Beckett sitting again.
"And really there was only one thing after talking to your neighbors," Brad said, remaining behind the two.
"Your husband," Beckett finished.
"And what do those two have to do with Robbie?" Mrs. Cora said slightly laughingly. "I know McGale was engaged to him but she broke it off long ago and I don't even know who the other person is."
Brad set down pictures of the victims in front of the woman saying, "Now you do for sure." When he got no reaction from the woman he pressed his hand to the back of Beckett's shoulder as a signal to her.
"But we're aware that you're not the actual killer," she began. "You got your husband to do the work, even with Fletcher though that was your bike."
"Maybe it was his idea," Castle said, realizing what the chief wanted as he'd seen his friend touch Beckett's shoulder. "It seems more likely that way," he told the two, looking up at Brad.
"I hadn't thought of it like that," the chief said with a nod to him. "And it comes to mind that maybe we should arrest him too; we'd get a straight answer."
"No," Mrs. Cora protested immediately, her eyes wide. "No don't he's innocent."
"Are you sure? You're not saying much and we don't have another theory to believe," Brad said.
"It was me," Mrs. Cora said, sounding irritated. "I had him kill them both. He needed to kill them both."
"For money?" Castle suggested.
"No," Mrs. Cora replied scathingly. "She humiliated him."
"Eileen," Beckett stated.
"Yes that… bitch," Mrs. Cora spat out. "She ended their engagement right before the wedding! Robbie always said he was glad it was done before the ceremony but I knew what everyone in town said. They mocked him behind his back that his fiancée left him for someone else."
With the woman's words Beckett knew then that it wasn't a hate crime and instead just perceived humiliation. That led her to say, "So you decided to get rid of her."
"She walked into the nursery six months ago as if nothing had happened and smiled at Robbie," Mrs. Cora hissed out. "I could see everyone whispering, watching them talking and waiting to see what would happen. When she came back the day after… I knew she was trying to remind everyone about what happened and knew she needed to die."
"And Fletcher?" Brad asked.
Shrugging Mrs. Cora said, "He saw me over by the secret room, I couldn't let him tell you what he knew."
"So it was you," Castle said.
"No, not that," Mrs. Cora replied.
"Fletcher," Brad stated. When the woman smiled he then asked, "What do you have to do with the Thornes?"
"My grandmother was the mistress of Thorne Junior," Mrs. Cora said, still smiling. "She told me about that room and all the times she snuck in to ride him. I never forgot."
"And you were there, you left your son alone and went to kill Eileen," Beckett said.
"My son was not alone," Mrs. Cora said indignantly. "He was being watched by his usual baby-sitter. I was gone no longer than twenty minutes. My husband is innocent, let him go."
"I'm afraid," Brad started to say as Castle and Beckett looked back at him. "That your husband committed suicide just before we picked you up. He's dead."
"No," Mrs. Cora said, shaking her head after looking at them with wide eyes. "He's not… Robbie wouldn't do that."
"He did," Castle said.
"The three of us were there," Beckett continued.
"He said he felt guilty," Brad said. "He couldn't live with himself." He became a little disgusted as Mrs. Cora began to sob painfully but did his best not to let it show. He nodded to Castle and Beckett as they stood and then followed them out of the room, motioning for Rice to go inside to watch their killer. "That wrapped it up," he commented once they were inside his office.
"Rapidly too… wait, the checks," Castle said.
Groaning slightly Brad went over to the door and opening it saw that Mrs. Cora was drying her face of her tears. "Did you write the checks? The meth?" he asked her once she was looking up at him.
Breathing out heavily Mrs. Cora nodded saying, "Robbie said they couldn't know why we were killing her; if they thought it was drugs they wouldn't know it was us. And he wanted his ex's lover to help to get revenge on her for what she did to their relationship; she helped in the humiliation. And we don't do drugs. Robbie never did."
Closing the door on the woman sobbing again Brad said to the two, "Fletcher is lucky… in a way."
"Is she still here?" Castle asked.
"Ye- she is," Brad said as Beckett left them.
"She can go, right?" Castle asked. When his friend nodded he walked after his wife to the interview room where Fletcher inside jumped up at their appearance.
"We found the killers," Beckett told her.
"Killers?" Fletcher asked weakly.
"Mrs. Cora has admitted to killing your cousin," Beckett answered.
"Robbie Cora killed Ellie," Fletcher then whispered. When Beckett and Castle both nodded she bit hard on her lower lip and said as tears began to course down her cheeks, "Thank you for finding them both."
"We should tell you now," Brad said as he'd joined the two. "Mr. Cora killed himself earlier today."
Fletcher sat down and she murmured, "He didn't want to kill Ellie. They never hated each other; I told you."
"We recall," Beckett said. "We're letting you know this though because you thought you were a suspect."
"I appreciate that," Fletcher replied, forcing herself to stand. "Can I go now? I'd really like to see my fiancée."
"Go ahead," Brad said when Castle and Beckett looked at him.
"What's left?" Castle asked his wife as the chief escorted the woman out.
"Paperwork I guess," Beckett replied. "But at least this way we'll be able to get Eliza."
"That's right," Castle said, looking at his watch then. "Oh, still about forty minutes. Think we'll make it?"
"You will, I know what you need to sign," Brad told the two as he walked up to them. "I need to get a lawyer for Mrs. Cora and then get a statement from the babysitter to shore the last bit of evidence we need to prove she was over at Fletcher's."
"And Mr. Cora? Remember the footage didn't show him leaving," Beckett reminded him.
"I'm remembering that office," Castle commented. "And wasn't there a window lower to the ground?"
"He's right," Beckett said after recalling herself. "But the sex party?"
"That's what I need to talk to her about now, before the lawyer," Brad told them. "Wait in my office and I'll get you your paperwork."
Castle and Beckett went to observation instead, listening in on the chief asking Mrs. Cora about East Setauket.
"Robbie went there a few times before we met," the woman said dully, as if the severity of everything she was going to be facing had settled on her. "And he thought that was going to work too; he hated the Callands since the husband wouldn't let Robbie sleep with his wife. Wanted to get them in on it, the robbery was his idea too he thought you guys would see it as the Callands being the killers if nothing was stolen from their own home."
"Dim," Castle commented. When his wife looked at him he said, "They were in the Hamptons at the time of the fake robbery."
"He was obviously the weak one," Beckett replied. She saw Brad was leaving the room so she hurried with her husband over to the chief's office before he reached it.
"You guys listen so well," Brad said jokingly though he wasn't really smiling. "And you're a bad influence on your wife with that. Okay so now we have everything wrapped up I'll let you guys go."
"What about their son?" Beckett asked.
"I'm not sure," Brad said honestly. "If Cora has a will that states what will happen to him we'll follow that. Otherwise I'll have to call Child Services, which I'll need to do anyways."
"Family?" Castle suggested.
"That's right, he as an uncle in Queens," Brad said with a nod. "I'll call him first."
Castle and Beckett sat down together, watching and listening while the chief began to talk to the son's uncle. They glanced at each other as they heard the man's shock through the phone at the news about his brother and sister in law. They knew the other was thinking of their youngest and they turned back to Brad as he hung up, hoping he'd get the paperwork they'd need to sign quickly so they could see Eliza and take her to lunch as she'd been wanting them to do that morning.
Standing in a line with the rest of her classmates Eliza tried not to fidget too much as she was desperate to go out and see if her parents were in the entry of the building. Finally, the teachers began to lead them out and she tried to peer around everyone to see the adults ahead of them. But there were too many there for all the pre-school classes and she tried not to scream in her frustration. Ultimately, they were allowed to go to the adults and she cried out when she saw her parents were there. "Mommy, Daddy!" she exclaimed as she ran over to them.
"Hey Eliza," Castle said as Beckett picked her up. "Missed us?"
"Yeah but I didn't know you were here," Eliza said, kissing his cheek after she'd kissed her mother's. "You finished?"
"We did," Beckett replied. "And very quickly too."
"That's good," Eliza said seriously, nodding her head.
"It is," Beckett said, slightly laughingly. "So now that we can take you where would you like to go for lunch?"
"Um," Eliza began before she thought for a moment. "I wanna go have some noodles."
"The Japanese place?" Castle asked as he opened the umbrella outside while Beckett remained inside to wait for him. When he saw Eliza nodding he said, "That sounds good to me."
"And me, we can go," Beckett said, shaking her head at her husband as he glanced at her before they made their way over to the car.
"Where's Gram?" Eliza asked her parents.
"In the car," Castle told her.
"She didn't want to get her hair wet," Beckett said.
"You don't have more umbrellas?" Eliza said in confusion.
"Yes, but you know how she is," Castle replied.
"Oh, did she go to get…" Eliza started to say.
"A quick trim according to her," Beckett said as her mother in law had told them that on the way over to the school.
"Hello kiddo," Martha said as her granddaughter was set into the car next to her. "How was school?" she asked, helping the little girl into her car seat.
"Good, I'm happy Mommy and Daddy are here," Eliza said while she watched her grandmother buckle her seat. "Are you?"
"Of course," Martha replied, glancing in the front where Castle and Beckett were getting into their seats. "Did we decide on lunch?"
"Yeah," Eliza answered first, Castle starting the car at the same time. "We're gonna have Japan."
"Ese," Castle finished.
"Which one? We have a sushi place, a noodle restaurant and just a standard restaurant," Martha said.
"Noodles," Eliza said quickly. "We're gonna have those."
"I'm not surprised," Martha said as she was already aware her youngest granddaughter liked the ramen dishes there. "A shame it's raining," she said a little bit later when they were at the restaurant and her son was parking the car. "The girls won't be able to play."
Castle wanted to comment on that before he got out and went around to hold the umbrella for Beckett to get out underneath the umbrella. "I was thinking of the family fun center," he said quietly to her as his mother was getting out with Eliza.
"We could," Beckett replied, switching to Irish. "But if she has homework we'll have to think of something else."
"Then I'll hope she doesn't have any," Castle replied easily.
Walking inside the restaurant Beckett was slightly surprised it was nearly empty; since it was time for lunch; but didn't say anything as they were lead over to their table. Once they were sitting she said, "Rick and I are going to try and take the girls to the family fun center," to her mother in law.
"Are you going to golf?" Martha asked.
"Yes, we can finally try out the indoor course," Castle said, smiling at Eliza next to his mother who was looking ecstatic.
"Finally?" Martha said.
"When we've gone the weather usually has been good," Beckett replied. "So we've gone over their courses there."
"That will be fun," Martha said as she was looking at Eliza.
"Are you gonna come Gram?" the little girl asked.
"I don't know," Martha replied.
"We wouldn't mind you if you're wondering about that," Beckett told her. "And so you know we might head to the Greek place for dinner."
"We haven't been there for a while," Castle said in surprise since they hadn't talked about dinner yet.
"Which is why I'm suggesting it," Beckett told him with a smile.
"It's a good idea," Martha said, setting down the menu they'd been given. "Better to have a smaller family dinner tonight before the bigger one you're having tomorrow."
"For you," Eliza added.
"She's right," Castle said with a smile as his mother was hugging the little girl next to her. "But does that mean you're not going to come with us?"
"Oh no I am, I'm one of the family," Martha assured him. "I'm just stating a fact."
Beckett squeezed her husband's arm gently as he shook his head, ordering for them as she was aware what they wanted and she ordered a simpler ramen for her mother in law. When they were alone again she said, "We might stay a little later at the family fun center."
"I'm duly warned," Martha said with a smile. "And while I might be able to take a break you two will be able to as well."
"We'll see," Beckett said first.
"She's right, we're going since we want to spend time with them," Castle commented.
"And we have school tomorrow," Eliza told her grandmother.
"If you're worried about us being alone I think we'll have the chance," Castle said wryly.
"Oh, that was fast," Martha said when their dishes were brought out to them.
"It doesn't take long to make," Castle said. He then looked at Eliza and said to his wife, "Should we switch?"
"She knows how to eat it," Beckett said as their youngest had gotten better at eating the noodles since they'd been in Japan.
"Yeah," Eliza said, picking up her fork.
"Chopsticks?" Martha asked as she picked up the fork her son had asked for her as well.
"It's okay, they know not everyone can use chopsticks for that," Beckett replied before she gathered some noodles with her own.
Castle and Beckett paid attention to their daughter while they were eating; making sure she would be able to eat her own meal. But Eliza soon had the hang of it and they were asking her about her day.
"And then I was ready to go but we go slow," the little girl said as they were waiting for her mother's card to come back after paying.
"I know but there's a reason for that," Castle said, ruffling her hair as she was sitting on Beckett's lap.
"Yeah," Eliza said with a sigh. "But then I saw you and I was happy and we went outside and-"
"We already know what you did after that," Castle said in amusement.
"I think that's the idea love," Beckett told her husband.
"Oh," Castle said with a laugh. "You tell a good story sweetheart," he said, playfully pinching his daughter's cheek.
"Thank you, Daddy," Eliza replied. She then moved to go onto his lap and hugging him around the neck said seriously, "Can I write too?"
"We told you you could," Beckett said, tucking her card back into her pocketbook. "Is this because your sister is writing now?"
Nodding Eliza said, "But I can't write yet."
"I'll disagree a little with you there kiddo," Martha told her. When her youngest granddaughter turned to her she said, "You can write just not enough for books. At least not yet."
As they got up Beckett said, "She's right, give it time and you'll learn to write a lot more."
Though Eliza wanted to protest the word, time, she couldn't really as they were back out in the rain and she asked her mother who was carrying her, "What now?"
"We're going home," Beckett said. "To rest."
Eliza smiled at the relief in her mother's tone and kissed her cheek before she was placed into the backseat and hurried to get into her seat so she could see the dogs again and play with her parents.
"I don't know if it was a good idea to really try and write," Beckett said to her husband in amusement as she watched him yawn.
"Lunch made me sleepy," Castle commented.
"It's almost two thirty," Beckett said, pretending to chide him. "But you're right, I'm tired myself." She was looking down at the pad of paper on her lap before she glanced slightly at him saying, "We worked hard last night."
"I place the blame for my exertion on your shawl," Castle replied. When his wife looked at him with one eyebrow slightly raised he continued with, "Wear it again."
Beckett laughed softly and then said, "I think I will." She heard a knock then on the wall and turned with him, seeing it was their youngest. "Hey sweetie," she said with a smile. "Tired of playing with the dogs?"
"Yeah, Gram said I can come here," Eliza said as she hurried inside with the dogs trailing her. She went to her mother and once she was sitting on her lap she asked, "Did you write? Can we go see Jules?"
"Whoa," Castle said jokingly, holding up his hands. "One question at a time. And so you know we didn't write and we have about a half hour to go to your sister's class."
"Although it's technically yours too," Beckett said.
"Nah uh," Eliza said, shaking her head rapidly. "I'm not dancing there yet."
"You're practicing already, I think you are," Castle commented. "Do you want us to play with you?"
"No," Eliza said.
"Play by yourself?" Castle asked. Eliza opened her mouth to speak when he continued and said, "With the dogs?"
"Rick," Beckett said laughingly. "Let her speak."
Before Eliza could she was interrupted yet again but that time it was the chime for the door next to the gate.
"That wasn't me this time," Castle said as he and Beckett stood.
"Richard, Kate," Martha called out to him as she'd gone to the intercom in the foyer.
Seeing that his mother had opened the door Castle asked, "Was that one of the Fosters?"
"It's Brad," Beckett said, looking out into the front and seeing the man walking up. "In street clothes," she said in surprise, setting Eliza down.
"Are my mommy and daddy finished?" the little girl said after she'd run to the chief.
"They are," Brad said. He laughed when she stopped him to hug him and he said, "If I'd said they had to come back with me would you have not given your uncle a hug?"
"Maybe," Eliza replied before she beamed up at him.
"Just like your dad," Brad said as he playfully tugged a lock of her hair.
"So at least we are finished," Beckett said as she and Castle had walked up to them.
"You have one more page to sign; I missed it," Brad told him, holding up the file he had.
"Do you want to come inside?" Castle asked his friend.
"No, just sign on the railing of the porch and I'll head back to the station," Brad told them
"Why the street clothes?" Beckett said as they walked over there.
"I felt like I needed to," Brad said with a shrug. He glanced at Eliza, who was soon being led into the house and he quickly said, "I never told her her husband sold her out before the evidence could."
"I would have done the same," Beckett replied. "She was hit hard enough by his death."
"She's right, you're a humane man," Castle said as he finished signing after his wife. "Much more humane than she was in the end. Did you ever ask about what Eileen was trying to do with those photos?"
"It was a wild goose chase essentially," Brad replied. "The vic found the pictures but the Coras weren't sure where they would go from there when the wife remembered the hidden room. She said Whyte, Robles or Kato; who Mr. Cora knew from both the Calland's parties and because the nursery sponsored a team they were on one year several years ago; was going to be lured into there while the game was going on to one of the lockers and that's why the vic went to the locker room. Mrs. Cora said it was pure luck the vic went into the closet or else Mr. Cora would have killed her out in the dressing room. And I know you're going to ask why there-"
"No, I think we've figured out why," Castle interrupted. "They would have left her in the hidden room."
Brad nodded and said, "That was the plan, a little too well thought out but lucky for us they made mistakes."
"I wish Eileen hadn't believed the threat to the three," Beckett said with a sigh. "Or had been able to get to one of us before the game."
Nodding in agreement Castle said to his wife, "We'll stay close with her wife and the baby."
"Of course we will," Beckett said with a slight smile.
Squeezing her hand Castle turned to his friend and asked, "You'll be here for dinner tomorrow?"
"Of course, Lily's looking forward to it," Brad said as he tucked the papers back into the file. "I'll see you guys tomorrow."
Saying goodbye to him Castle turned to his wife and was about to say something when his text alert rang. "Must be David since we just saw Brad," he said jokingly.
"Who is it?" Beckett asked, watching him look at his message and frown.
Sighing Castle told her, "Meredith, she wants to bring some wine."
"We have enough," Beckett said evenly. "If she really wants to bring anything tell her to bring some cookies for dessert since we don't have any right now."
Castle texted his ex quickly and after putting his phone away in his pocket was going to speak to his wife when she suddenly kissed him. He was startled but quickly recovered before he was wrapping his arms around her as tightly as he could. Their kiss deepened and by the time they parted he realized he'd forgotten his ex. "You did that on purpose," he told her.
"I think there are better things you should think about," Beckett replied, walking into the house.
Breathing out hard as he watched her Castle soon followed, realizing she was absolutely right. And as Eliza hurried up to him he turned his attention to his family, finding it far better to think of them than anything else.