Disclaimer: Not mine. Obviously.
A/N: I haven't written a single word in a VERY long time, so I hope you have that in mind when you start reading this.
I am incredibly excited about this story and I certainly hope that it turns out as great as it is in my head right now. I'll be writing this as it goes, although I do have it planned and sketched on paper and I think it won't be longer than maybe three or four chapters. Maybe five? No schedule, so deal with me. I suck at deadlines.
This is for Caffinate-me's twitter challenge AU in which Kate owns a bookstore. My story is WAY AU in a way. Castle is very different at first because of how his recent life has developed and Kate's backstory is a bit different too. You will see that along the way.
No beta or anything, so forgive any mistakes. I hope you like this! Enjoy!
LOVE AT FIRST FIGHT
He checks his watch for the thousandth time and starts tapping the tip of his right foot on the wooden floor of the coffee shop. The line is long and the only barista working right now is not exactly the fastest. Seems like he's going to be late for his meeting again. Not that he cares that much.
"Next!" Calls the waiter to the two women on the line caught up on an, apparently, very interesting conversation about an article on Cosmopolitan. "Ma'am! Please, there are more people waiting." The young man tries again, finally catching the women's attention and taking their orders.
Five more people to go, he thinks. Maybe he should just skip coffee all together and go straight to Black Pawn, but he doubts he'd be able to survive another conversation about Richard Castle's last book's launch party - or the lack of it - without any caffeine running through his veins. The last one was already hard enough to deal with as it was.
He hears the door open and close again and sighs. More people adding up to the line and the two 'Cosmo girls' are still waiting for their coffees.
"Hey, Kate!" Another man calls from behind the counter, a blond guy with blue eyes and a childish face, who wasn't there a second ago. "Here's your fix." He says, winking an eye and holding out a venti cup for the mystery woman that just walked through the door.
"Thanks, Kevin, you're a life saver!"
"Are you kidding me?" He catches himself all but yelling, feeling the ten pairs of eyes in the coffee shop land on him.
"Excuse me?" The woman asks, eyebrow raised, hand on her waist.
He knows what's coming. He's going to make another scene about something insignificant. He can feel the words piling up at the tip of his tongue; the anger building up, and there is nothing he can do about it. Shit. He needs to learn to control his temper.
"I said, are you kidding me?" He repeats slowly, marking the words. "I've been waiting here for almost twenty minutes and you walk through the door and get your own barista and your order in ten seconds flat, while the rest of us have to wait for 'The Flash' here to serve us."
"Hey!" The kid whines, placing the last order on the counter and glaring at Rick.
The woman – Kate - looks at him very firmly and shrugs a little bit. "I'm sorry, sir. I got in line, like everybody else." She explains softly, keeping her voice down and controlled as if trying to tame the beast in front of her. "It's just that my friend there knew I was coming and he got my order before I could even place it myself."
Kevin, the man that came out of nowhere, gives him a tight lift of his lips and a nod. "She's a regular." He offers.
"I don't care who the hell she is." He spits, ignoring Kate's gasp and some disapproving looks. "That was just plain rude to the rest of us."
"The only one being rude here is you, you jackass." The woman raps out, pocking him on the shoulder and shoving her coffee against his chest. "I'm sorry, Kev. I'll be back later."
He watches her walk out the door, his mouth half open and his hand holding a scalding cup of coffee that doesn't belong to him, and without even thinking, he follows her across the street.
Kate is fuming by the time she enters her bookstore, her mind coming up with a million different replies for the jerk at the coffee house in the twenty seconds walk. Who the hell does he think he is? That bitter, middle-aged idiot.
She pushes the door open and looks around for Lanie, her best friend and employee, who is nowhere to be seen.
"You won't believe what just happened at the coffee house." She starts, placing her bag at the counter and scanning the store in search of the petite woman. "Lanie?" She calls, her brow furrowing. "Hello!"
Kate starts walking around the shelves, picking up misplaced volumes and putting them back on their places as she goes. "Lanie! Where the hell are you?"
"Back in here!" She hears her muffled voice coming from the back-store. "We're out of paper for the cash register."
"Like we need it…" Says Kate, leaning against the doorframe and waiting for the other woman to take her head out of a large cardboard box with the word 'Supplies' written on it in bold, black letters.
"Of course we do!" Her friend replies, turning to look at her, finally. "We have to register our sales. It's the law."
Kate snorts and walks in direction of the counter, running a hand through her hair. "What sales, Lanie? We haven't had anybody walking in here in weeks, and the last one was some tourist asking for directions to the bistro down the street."
"Things will get better, Kate. It's just a little bump on the road."
She looks at her friend with tired eyes. They've had this conversation a million times in the last few weeks and she knows they won't be reaching an agreement this time either.
The business is dead. She knows it, her dad knows it, even Lanie knows it, but she refuses to admit defeat even though they are going out of business in just a few days. She's a warrior, the feisty, little woman, and she loves her for it.
"Anyway… You won't believe what just happened at the coffee house." She starts again, changing topics.
"What?" Lanie asks unimpressed. "Did they give you chai tea instead of your regular latte again?"
Kate rolls her eyes and leans on the counter, watching as her friend organizes a bunch of bills and payment orders. "No. Some guy went mad at me because Kevin gave me my coffee as soon as I walked in and he had to wait in line."
"So? This is New York City, girl. People go crazy about stupid things all the time." Lanie answered with a matter-of-fact expression on her face. "Last week I saw a guy yelling at a cop in Central Park because he stepped on dog crap and in his opinion the NYPD should be putting some more effort in catching those uncivil dog owners."
"Well, he had a point…" Kate jokes. "But this guy… He was a jerk, Lanie. He yelled at Kevin and everybody was looking at him like he was crazy. He was plain rude."
"Again, sweetie, this is New York. Largest amount of looneys per square feet in the world."
Kate sighs and nods. "I know…"
She takes a look at her watch, takes her coat off and puts it on the rack. One more day of nothing starting right about… Now.
Another sigh. "I'll have to go back later, anyway. That jackass kept my coffee."
She looks at Lanie and frowns at the surprised expression on her face. "What?" She asks amused. But her friend ignores her and looks at the door, the stunned look on her face still on.
"Good morning, sir. May I help you?"
Kate hears a throat clearing and then "I… um… I'm the jackass…"
He can't believe he's doing this. Normally after one of his – recently pretty regular – anger outbursts, he flees the scene to never come back again and prays to whatever power is up there to keep it away from the press, which normally never happens, resulting in dozens of snarky articles and tweets about the dramatic transformation of the raggedly handsome, ladies man, Richard Castle, into some kind of grouchy hermit who yells at kids for tripping on his laptop cord at Starbucks. – Yes, that actually happened.
He knows he needs to work on his anger management, and probably stay away from any kind of human contact while he does so, but for some reason, his bosses at Black Pawn keep making him get out of the safety of his loft and face the world to go to stupid unending meetings, which is, obviously, not a good idea.
Maybe he should also work on his caffeine addiction. Either that, or he could buy his own espresso machine.
He reaches the door to a small bookstore with a tiny showcase of a few different bestsellers and a poster stuck to the window announcing his latest book release in a couple of weeks.
Nine million people in New York City and he has to go and yell at a bookstore owner.
Well done, Rick! There is no way she didn't recognize you.
He takes a deep breath and pulls the door open.
"I'll have to go back later, anyway. That jackass kept my coffee." He hears as he walks inside the store. Not a chance she calmed down in the last five minutes, he thinks.
The other woman, the one who is not Kate, petite frame and dark skin, looks at him in a funny way, like someone walking into the store is actually unexpected.
"Good morning, sir. May I help you?" She asks absolutely thrilled.
It makes him uneasy – well, more uneasy – the way she's looking at him.
"I… um… I'm the jackass…" He replies, not knowing what else to say.
Kate turns around slowly, like in slow motion, eyes wide and mouth open. He doesn't give her the chance to speak. He can't afford another meltdown.
"Hi. Kate, right?" He asks, not waiting for her to answer. "I just wanted to apologize for what happened at the coffee shop. I was rude to you and your friend and I am absolutely ashamed of my behavior. I've been under a lot of pressure lately and I was hoping you could understand that I didn't intend anything of what I said to be personally against you. I don't know you; I have nothing against you. I just lost my temper for a second and I'd appreciate if you could keep this between us? I've had enough bad press to last me a lifetime lately, which is not exactly helping with the problem, so, yeah… Um… I… here's your coffee, I hope you enjoy it. Thank you. Have a nice day."
And again, not waiting for her response, he turns around and leaves, speeding his step until he is practically running down the street. He is terribly late.
Kate looks at the coffee cup the man placed on the counter and then at the door, then the cup again, then Lanie.
"What the hell was that?" Her friend asks wide-eyed and puzzled.
"I have no idea." She mumbles, staring at the door now, as if it could give her any answers. "I mean, that was the guy I was telling you about…" She cuts her speech mid sentence and turns to look at Lanie again. "Didn't he say something about bad press? What was that about? Did he look familiar to you?"
Lanie shrugs. "Maybe a little, yeah. But I can't remember where I've seen that face before."
"Hm. Now that you say it, he does look a little bit familiar."
"He's cute. Actor?" Lanie wonders out loud.
Kate shrugs and scrunches her nose. "Maybe."
"Oh, my God!" He friend suddenly shrieks. "I know who he is!"
"Who?" She asks excited. "Who is he?"
"I can't believe you of all people didn't recognize him, Kate!" Lanie exclaims, rummaging through the drawers, looking for something.
"What do you mean, me of all people? Why would I know the guy?" She defends herself. Like she has to know every crazy man in this city.
"Well," her friend starts, taking a book out of the drawer and putting it on top of the counter, the backside up. "Because he's your favorite author, perhaps?"
No. Freaking. Way.
I'd love to know what you think. Thanks so much for reading!