"In here," Beckett said with a deceptively steady tone. "I'll grab some plates and stuff."

Her partner knew the drill. After discarding his shoes, he was en route to the kitchen behind her.

She withdrew the appropriate silverware. The bag of goodies gave a distinctive rustle as the burden was set aside upon the island. That sound normally produced a downright Pavlovian stir of hunger that had her ready to dine in earnest. Not so much presently.

Beckett reached for a pair of plates and stiffened in surprise when she felt Castle ease in at her back. A dark spice of scent was suddenly there. The fall of his shadow swallowed her whole. A subtle aura of body heat rolled off of him and splashed against her wealth of bare skin. Goosebumps rose across her upper arms, thighs, and at the back of her neck where his breath tickled. Her eyes slammed shut and her mouth opened slightly when his left hand found her hip. The breadth of his grasp opened wide. Light though it was, he spanned most of her rib cage. He felt bigger than was physically possible.

Beckett waited with something akin to disdain for the predictable press of his pelvis against her ass. When it didn't come, there was a second or two in which she started to ache for it. There was one half-breath of a moment where, if he had done it, fast and hard, Kate might have let him do anything else he wanted to her right then and there.

Partner, if you only knew.

Castle used the supposed anchor of counterbalance she provided to reach above and slide the plates back into place upon the shelf. "Kang's wasn't open yet." The fine, smaller curls of hair about her ear and neck swayed under a lick of his breath. It took his statement to realize that, indeed, she wasn't drowning in the smell of Chinese food.

"You entered my home under false pretenses?"

"Technically, I did bring a gift."

"Yeah, I bet you did. God's gift to all my gender, right?" Beckett returned dryly and pushed backward to free herself from the warm, aromatic gulf of his looming presence.

He went with ease and without even a nudge resulting. A smirk played at his lips. He gestured to his right at the bag upon the counter.

Beckett circled around her guest and the island to stand at its far side. It was a better barrier when it stood solidly between them. "What's this then?"

"A gift," Castle inanely announced with crisp syllables.

Bah. "Mhm. For whom, I wonder?" the host grumbled, but she relented and drew it closer. The nondescript plastic bag gave no indication of the contents, but the pair of white-topped black-bottomed boxes within certainly did. One was slim and long, the other squarish and short. Both of them bore a triplet of large, bold-font letters in black across their pale surfaces. T.L.S. She didn't need three guesses. The Love Shackle was still relatively fresh in her mind after their visit a few days ago.

Beckett's suspicious glare snapped up to him. The man was grinning, which was hardly in keeping to the role of a dom. He wasn't trying to be one. Maybe the facade would've failed even if he had been. Rick loved giving people presents to open. He got excited like a little boy. "Go on," he urged in a deceptively calm tone.

"Are we…" She stopped, wet her lips while considering how to actually pose the question.

"Live?" her companion asked amusedly. Kate nodded, grateful for once that he seemed to have a direct line into her goddamn head. "No. Sessions of play should have clear starting points and conclusions. You'll know when it happens."

"You call them sessions?"

"I name them based on their predominant themes," he explained, "like the chapters of a novel. There's no wrong way. Sessions. Exhibitions. Use whatever feels appropriate."

"Appropriate. Now there's a friggin' misnomer."

Castle smirked. "Let's hope so. Open your gift—the bigger one. It's nothing bad."

It was bad. It was...phew.

The larger, slimmer box contained a black corset. The rolling scent of top-tier leather was fresh, thick, and injected visceral appeal for the detective with a collection of leather jackets and motorcycle breeches. The piece was surprisingly absent of attempts at extravagance. It was simple, deadly, custom-tailored. The shape of the bust looked especially, embarrassingly accurate. Modest in size but with enough height to accommodate the slightly upward cant of her teardrop chest. It dipped flirtatiously between the breasts to converge at the clench of a shiny, steel-toothed zipper. Smooth, sleek lines brought it down across the midriff to a level termination along the front. The back met at a slimmer solid band that would leave her bare from her shoulder-blades up, but it was level along the bottom there too, making for a secure and comfortable fit.

"Jeez," Beckett murmured softly.

"There should be one more little item in there."

Sure enough, also within the box was a pair of under—no. The obscene scrap of a thing didn't qualify as underwear. It was a silken black ribbon bound to soft meshing cut into a pair of triangles that would do almost as much to tantalizingly showcase her nether regions as it would conceal them.

"Little?" Beckett echoed with a scowl at his barely withheld amusement.

"It's subjective."

"It's subjugative," she countered with a grimace at the slinky, soft article in-hand.

"Then it's perfect."

Oh. So it was. Heh. Kate pursed her lips into a firm line. Smiling would only encourage him. "It's obscene," she assured with a level glance, "and gorgeous. Thanks, Castle."

"You should make some closet space. We're going to be regular patrons of Barry's lovely shop."

"So you assume," Beckett replied with an arching eyebrow. "I never said you had me convinced about, y'know, all this."

"No," Castle conceded without losing the subtle crinkles of mirth bordering his summer skies. "You merely implied trembling anticipation."

"You inferred it," she snarled embarrassedly, but that only made him chuckle.

"Would you like to...try a little?" His attention was right there waiting when hers shot to him like a cannonball. He smoothed the section of countertop before him and she—she tried not to imagine the palm moving down her back or along the length of her legs. "We could call it a trial run."

Beckett waited out a hitch in her breathing, said, "I'm pretty sure we already had one of those."

"Not even close." The reply came swiftly upon hers despite emerging at a quiet and pleasing reverberation. It was almost startling and silence dripped in its wake for several seconds.

"I don't think I can let myself say it," she admitted bewilderedly. "Jeez. I'm sorry. It's just too crazy. Too sudden. I know it's just one little word, but I can't—" Kate paused to see her guest stand up straighter. All mirth wiped clear of his expression. The difference was like a sudden slam of their bow into pure polar ice.

"That's not going to work," he struck almost harshly. "Not saying no isn't a yes. I don't engage at non-consensual play or even a passing shadow of it." His gaze softened a tick and the tone eased towards normal. "It's fine if you're not ready—it's more than just fine. If we do this, I want you to be excited about it too and have no reservations. If getting to that point entails waiting, so be it. But you need to be able to communicate with me plainly one way or the other."

"You know I want to," Kate scraped out and blushed slightly. Gah! Hide me.

Rick considered her for a beat longer where he stood. Then slid into moton out around the island to approach. He paused before her, closer but not invading. Yet. "There may be an avenue of compromise. There are," his focus drifted aside in thought and then back, "groupings, let's say, of common BDSM behaviors. Sometimes you'll want things more physical. Rough," he expounded mildly. It didn't take lean of severity upon the word to get her gears turning within and revving to a steady hum. "Or you might feel more conversational on a different night. Not in the sense of talking dirty to one another," he clarified. Aw. "That too though," he added as an afterthought. Awww yeah. "I mean it in the sense of… Hmm. Bear with me, please. I haven't had to explain it like this before."

"You said you've had other subs."

"Sure," Richard conceded, either unheeding or unaware of the chill in her slightly perturbed tone. "It's different now, that's all. I am. And beforehand it was always playing. I've never tried this with someone I—" He stopped jarringly and snapped his mouth shut. "Well," he injected, "it was just different before. Anyway, the point is—

"Someone you what?"

Castle closed his eyes, sucked in a slow breath and shook his head.

I know. I'm awful. Let's hear it anyway.

"Someone I don't actually want to dominate." The words left a lot of room for interpretation. They did. So why was her heart hammering against her ribs as if he'd just steered them narrowly past the crumbling edge of a sheer and very specific cliff? You just had to ask, Katie.

"So," she began tightly and stalled out right there.

"So," he provided, "instead of saying 'yes', we could try applying keywords to these groupings of behavior. It can be used to declare your consent and it carries the additional bonus of conveying a wealth of tasty detail as to what you want me to do to you at that particular moment and time."

"Whoa," the detective emitted as a groan. "C-can you not put it like that?"

"I can. I elected not to."

The swift shot of her ire didn't find him smiling at her. He stared coolly back, remorseless, daring her to contradict him. Yeesh. Kate did dare, but she didn't want to. If he could just look at her like that for a while she might be able to blow her top without even being touched. But do the touching too, just 'cuz. Lots of that.

"Um." Beckett shook her head. "Can you gimme an example?"

Castle didn't answer at first but stared her down the way she did suspects sitting across the interrogation room table. When he meant it, the man was capable of producing a worthy recreation. "Are you genuinely asking, or are you being obtuse because it thrills you to hear me talk about it?"

"Both," Kate gusted with a swift series of nods. "Definitely both."

He smiled, seeming pleasantly surprised, even a little bewildered by her candor. Following some consideration, he nodded at her indicatively. "Before I oblige, let me warn you: this is going to blur the lines of play some." She arched her eyebrows in confusion but he went on. "I'm going to remove your shorts." The tone was so ordinary. He could've just as easily used it to ask her to pass the soy sauce.

You—you're gonna what now?

"Did you forego a pair of underwear too, or is it only the bra that's missing?"

Kate didn't mean to, but—shit happens—she smirked, slow and wide. Come find out. Using your teeth only.

A gasp shot free of her when he was suddenly at her, grabbing her hips roughly and spinning her in an about-face. Within the same initial flash of alarm two things happened: she tamped down the irrational fear that Rick would ever actually hurt her, and she firmly quelled the instinctive urge to compound the momentum he'd imposed by adding a whirl at her waist and using her right elbow to shatter his jaw. The latter option was harder to deny. It was...dangerously close. She wondered if the potential threat her deeply ingrained police training represented added to the eroticism for him. You should be worried if you aren't, damn it. Be careful!

Beckett grunted when he pushed against her shoulder blades and bent her over the counter some. She couldn't have said whether the sound was protest or invitation. Her mind was awhirl. She didn't know what was coming, didn't know if he'd stop. Please don't stop. Another wordless sound—invitation, definitely—broke loose when she felt his hands reach around to unfasten her shorts. He wasn't gentle but it wasn't belligerent ether. The man was a firestorm of deliberate force and she was flung like ascending embers scattered by his thermal gusts violence. Every time he touched her he moved her, rocked her, bumped her pelvis against the counter edge in front of her. He lowered the zipper and tugged the offending article down. She had worn underwear, of course, a cute pair of white boyshorts that clasped her curves with a flattering silhouette and barely crested above the hips. They remained behind as he pressed her shorts as far down her legs as he could reach.

"Finish it," he whispered viciously near her right ear.

Beckett sucked in a steadying breath and stepped back from the island. While obeying, she pushed her ass out more than was strictly necessary and rocked it with dramatized shifts of her weight. She stepped out of the shorts, straightened, and turned to face him with them dangling from a finger.

Boy oh boy. If looks could hump.

Hard-fought control pressed her guest's lust back and back until it was beyond her ability to perceive in him. He took the shorts along with a deep breath, folded the former neatly and laid them aside upon the kitchen counter behind them. Castle faced her squarely, crossed his arms at his sternum and said, "I want us to try and get through the rest of this conversation without your base urges disrupting us again."

Kate rocked where she stood, half dumbfounded. Motherfucker, you're one to talk? She watched blankly, still swallowing back the urge to retort as he cleared the island of the bag, the opened box, and the tissue paper that had sheathed her new corset. None of those efforts were performed the way he'd handled her. In her experience, he'd never gripped anything the way had her, with barely controlled passion seething to shake its leash and maul in the very best of ways.

"Sit up here," Castle instructed.

"On the counter?"

"Unless you'd prefer the floor," he stated icily.

Goodness goddamn gracious. Beckett knew better, of course, but he might make a believer out of her yet if he kept that up. With some awkwardness, she levered herself up onto the surface. It wasn't exactly cozy. The tile was hard under her backside, cold.

Heat found her. Blazing grasps as Castle gripped her right calf, bent her knee into a slight arch and opened her up wider. Ohhhh, hell yes, come and get it. He paused to behold the nervous clamp of her teeth around her plump lower lip and to see her leaning back expectantly on one elbow. His eyes narrowed angrily.

"Whatever reward you think you've earned, my pet, I promise that you haven't. Not by a mile."

She stifled a miserable groan. Bummer.

Castle situated her other limb into place at an opposing angle from its twin. Her toes curled and gripped the counter edges where they had been manually positioned. She'd been splayed thusly before while wearing less, but she'd never felt as naked as she did before his scrutiny. Rick's gaze dripped like splashes of hot wax down along her front and into the conjunction of her thighs. He moistened his lips unconsciously.

"Now I can see you clearly," he said breathily. "And you know I can. So if you start seeping through the fabric, we'll both have tangible proof that you can't control yourself."

It was like a slap across the face.

Worse, because the sudden strike of condemnation only made her hunger badly to see him seeing her soaked through. She needed to know what he looked like when he was sluiced with that forbidden awareness of her. Kate wanted the image seared into his cerebral cortex so that every time he 'snuck' a peek at her ass while she was filling out pieces of the murder board from then onward he'd be thinking back to that night, to the way she'd glistened for him.

"Penny for your thoughts."

Beckett twitched guiltily. "Not for all the pennies you have."

"Oh?" The set of his brow was level and his lips nothing more than pensive. "Is your inner commentary slanting towards sluttiness?" She could have screamed. Kate buried her face in her hands instead. Resonance of his dark chuckle lapped against her open cove. The sensitivity from feeling overexposed was real. "Hiding like that is exactly what we'll be attempting to overcome as we go, just to be clear. It isn't easy, but I hope you'll come to trust the space we create together enough to say whatever you wish."

"Uh-huh. I'll work on that. We'll be the kinkiest hundred-year-olds ever."

Castle smiled and shook his head. "It isn't a race. It takes time. Let it."

Beckett sighed and nodded. "Okay." Then worried her lower lip and added, "That doesn't mean you can't fill in the gap some, y'know?"

An eyebrow tilted slightly aloft. "You're assuming I need permission?"

"You want it," the detective murmured quietly. She wasn't like him, wasn't...sweet. But she could find her own way of putting him at ease. Bravado trickled out of his shoulders, neck, and the stern set of countenance. "And you have it. Whatever you want, Castle."

"That's a lot of latitude. It's a lovely sentiment and it makes me feel good to hear it. As we go, however, try to imagine firmer barriers around the behavior you'll accept. Keep them categorized. It'll help you put the aforementioned labels on them." He stepped closer, brushing her knees with his sides.

Beckett swallowed. "The ones you were about to give me examples of?"

"Mhm. If you said 'Shatter me' for instance, I might automatically know that you wanted it very physical. Spanking. Frequent repositioning so you can feel yourself being gripped and moved. Maybe a little breath play—I can only do a little," he added with a slightly sheepish smile. "I have my limits too."

"Is that—


Kate started to answer but her voice cracked and squeaked. Oopsy. She cleared her throat and said, "A little is perfect. I, uh, can't have you marking me up anyway."

"Oh, there'll be plenty of that where it won't be so readily apparent," he issued with a palm rising from his side. It hovered over her left knee. Yes, land! Rick noticed her looking, blinked at his apparently wayward limb. He returned it stoically to his side and she groaned aloud. To her delight, he laid both palms against the counter instead and bent at the waist to bring his visage closer to the conjunction of her thighs. "And how're we doing down here, hrm?

"Soft as down and dry as the Sahara," she touted, outright lying. Prove me wrong. With your lovely face.

Rick was silent, his eyes half-lidded. They shut. His lips peeled apart and quivered in a perfectly soundless snarl. "I can smell your arousal."

Holy hell. Kate blushed intensely and tried to spontaneously fucking vanish. No such luck.

Castle's eyelids peeled apart even as the sensory organs behind them rolled on down from the back of his head. He laid his focus dead on hers. That was goddamn beautiful. She hardly breathed amidst their connection. Rick laid a palm neatly before her on the tile, centrally, hauntingly close to her aching heat. "Do you want to show me?"

Beckett couldn't speak for fear of screaming her answer. She managed a shaky nod.

"Perhaps soon," he said and stood up straight again, "if you continue behaving."

She could have cried. Oh god. The wetness actually started gathering, welling up undeniably. She couldn't believe her body's betrayal.

Castle noticed. And he blew her fucking mind with the smile that crept into place. Kate never would have imagined he could be cruel. Playfully cruel, she started to correct herself but no. What the fuck ever. Cruel! It was genuinely hard to accept. It was such a contrast to the way he'd always been. Not just with her but anyone. Everyone.

"This reminds me," her partner stated conversationally as she angrily wiped her eyes. "You need to decide on our appellations and a safety word. What do you want?"

She met his gaze solidly and said, "I wanna fuck." It was flat out frigging glorious to see the way her bold statement crinkled the author's brow and lowered his head a little towards his chest. Atlas must have reacted the same when the weight of the world sank onto his shoulders for the first time. Priceless.

Any confidence he'd put on shaky ground surged back into the half-prone detective with a heady rush.

Beckett shifted her right foot away from its designated perch and ran it across the waistline of the other's jeans. No erection was apparent, but that wasn't a bad thing. It didn't twinge at her insecurity. She wanted him to have control. So she could savor taking it away from him later. Nuh-uh, Ricky. That's mine. The fabric of his navy t-shirt tickled against the pad of her foot and crinkled coolly between her gripping toes.

To her surprise, Rick did nothing to prevent her from lifting the article higher and revealing a narrow band of flesh. He wasn't vastly dissimilar from her in skin tone despite the assurance that he bore a deeper bronze...elsewhere. She wet her lips and dragged her eyes along the inwardly slanting shelf where the obliques angled over the hips and lashed themselves to the rippling plateau of the abdominal rack—that classically male 'V' which all but shone to her like a golden downward arrow. Don't mind if I do. Her eyes sifted through a dusting of fine dark hair at his treasure trail. "Can I just...see it? Just for a moment," Beckett requested. She managed not to smile evilly.

Alas, the man was not suddenly rendered a fool by her shenanigans.

Her languidly flowing thoughts and devious intentions were jarred clear by the shocking abruptness with which Rick snapped his right hand closed around her ankle. The slap of skin to skin was gratifying even if his grip hurt a little. That tightness lessened some as he lifted her wayward limb clear of himself and higher still. He stopped, looked down at her with a sudden suffusion of ravenous defeat, and leaned in closer to brush his lips along the lateral longitudinal arch. It wasn't a kiss. It was a warm satiny glide. Her hips jerked involuntarily from the contact and a bow of her back pushed her chest into proud lifts.

Kate heard herself let out a strangled, unintelligible gurgle and damned him straight to hell for eliciting such a thing.

The sonofabitch. If he'd just get to it fuck her properly the indignity would end. Not really though, jeez. Don't you dare stop.

Beckett came back to herself as he resumed bending her right leg backward as a whole to the effect of her eyes widening slightly. His shadow crawled on ahead while his comparatively massive, wholly welcome upper body lowered into place over her at a lean. Lower. Tingles of anticipated contact raced ahead of his progress and hummed beneath the surface of her skin like a single great beacon. Beep-blink. Land here, please. She lowered flat onto her back and lifted her hands from her sides to meet him halfway.

But the author's free hand slapped to the counter at her left, a mechanism of rippling support by which he kept himself poised achingly apart from her. Inches, no more. Her eyes slid from the knee that was at that point bordering her right cheek to his grip about her ankle above them both. That looked so fucking good. The new positioning was nice too for the moment. It opened her up at her molten core. She could almost feel the chubby lips of her labia peeled apart from one another, blossomed like petals of night-blooming jasmine spreading to the dark gentleman of evening even while strands of her arousal gleamed between them like syrupy tethers reluctant to allow the divide. She half expected the coolness of the ambient temperature to produce wisps of steam to trickle up from between her legs.

"Touch me," she rasped with her eyes closed. She easily conceded an added, "Please."

"No." It was as immediate as it was certain. Coldly delivered and final.

Kate opened her eyes again in surprise and, honestly, found the unblinking, unyielding fixation of his blue eyes too much to endure for once.

"It's time to choose the designations of our roles," Rick continued placidly, still hovering.

He was so close. She could have arched herself up from the counter more and found him, but there was a daunting suspicion that if she tried he would answer with swift retaliation. The worst punishment Kate could imagine at that moment was him leaving. Given the occasions in which their minds ventured to the same conclusions during cases—sometimes via the same blurted statements no less—she sure as hell wasn't risking that gut-wrenching eventuality.


Beckett jolted subtly everywhere at once to hear his mouth clasp her first name.

"Call me that," she issued fast and breathless. "Call me Kate. Jesus. I almost came."

"Well, we certainly can't have that happening yet," Castle returned with cruel humor twinkling above her. Such a bastard. Such a delicious bastard. Still, the woman beneath him huffed explosively at herself for having paid out too much data. "Names aren't the best choice," her captor rumbled, still somewhat amusedly it seemed to her. "The idea is to leave barriers between the play and the players, remember? Choose something that speaks to you, but also something you'd be unlikely to hear in the everyday world."

"I," Beckett started but stopped. She squirmed a little at her hips where she lay. "I know you said that it isn't especially original, but I kind of like the one you already use."

"My pet."

"Yeah," she mumbled quietly, embarrassed.

"You do seem responsive to it," he mused with his gaze holding the fresh turgidity of her nipples where they strained against her t-shirt. Rick bent at the neck some and exhaled a stream of cool breath across her right peak through pursed lips. The detective tried not to explode. She felt herself bending involuntarily where she lay—towards him or away she didn't know—and felt the charges of sensation in her nipple pulse like an echo between her legs.

"What about mine? We're certainly not using 'Sir'. And while 'master' is always a classic, it doesn't really feel like a winner to me. Not for us."

No. Go away with your words. Beckett needed to breathe not talk. What—what frigging planet was this again? A small burst of recollection scattered her daze. "Oh. I think I already selected yours," she murmured in realization. "That afternoon at the dungeon."

"I don't remember you saying anything."

"Ye—no," she corrected and turned her face to the side. "I didn't say it, but...I thought it."

She started to turn back to him but halted sharply when he lowered his face closer towards hers. Kate felt his chest seal against her middle because of the opportune angle and whimpered in relief. Fucking whimpered. Screw it. There was contact. Delicious pressure. She lunged her hips into the hard impediment of his abdomen and shuddered violently. It didn't hit her squarely enough where she needed it, but holy beautiful heavens on a stick it was something. Her snapped her legs around his back. She bucked and moaned deeply in gratification. "Oh god." She did it again. Again. Again. She was on a roll. A loud, wanton roll. "Oh please."

"Look at yourself," Castle breathed into her left ear, otherwise unmoving as she hurled herself at him. "Am I training my sub or a fucking animal?"

Oh my god! Kate splayed her palm across her eyes and face but she didn't stop. Couldn't stop, because he'd just made her urgency so much worse. She wanted to crawl into a deep dark hole somewhere and die of shame. After she cums though. A few times. Five.

Castle snapped his teeth against the air so close to her left ear she felt the graze. "Give me the appellation or I get up and will leave you like this."

"Mon brute," Beckett managed to salvage from her foggy mind, savoring the French inflection attached to it. Rick withdrew somewhat to see her clearly. She met his gaze before hers rolled shut with the next undulation of his body against him. She nodded. "Mon brute."

His focus drifted to one side in contemplation. She saw his lips come together in a cool smirk and knew that he favored the choice. A slim eyebrow tilted aloft over one cerulean pool. "I'll have to earn that, you realize."

Beckett rolled her hips into him again—oh my yes—and found a blissfully capable impediment that was growing worthy of mounting a renewed offense against. She pieced together something of a voice and rasped, "Isn't that what you've been doing since you got here? Also, not to be an alarmist, but is that thing gonna stop getting bigger?"

His grip around her ankle withdrew but Kate couldn't follow that and slake the keenness of her need against him at the same time. Moments later she stopped, eyes widened, to feel the warmth radiating off his palm against her right thigh. It moved onward and paused just above the seat of her erotic soul. A fingertip curled beneath the fabric of her underwear and traced along the outer seam from where it gripped her ass to its termination at the innermost span of her thigh. He brushed against the folds of her outer labia like a lovely dream skirting along the fringes of her subconscious mind. Kate locked herself into perfect stillness, watching with disbelief and with her lips slightly parted as that handsome guise lowered away. No way. But please yes way! Shoulder blades arched against his shirt while the author lowered himself down and away to find a new home to hover before. There was no warning before he brushed his lips against the fabric of her underwear, back and forth, back and forth with a gentle 'no' that both drove her up the wall and rolled her eyes back in her head to the tune of a guttural, "God, Yes."

"What's your safety word? Say it or I stop."

"Veritas," Kate blurted.

Richard stopped. Not to be cruel, but because he was likely struck by the association the Latin word bore, being one which occupied Johanna Beckett's headstone. Maybe he was assuming Kate had already been thinking about it. It'd just popped into her head. The fact that it occupied a place within her mother's epitaph didn't automatically make it sad. In fact, together they might be able to lend the word a pleasing and most welcome duality by attaching a few positive connotations.

"Are you sure?"

Beckett nodded.

"Okay," he rumbled at length. He started to rise. "Good. Let's—

"Veritas," she said again, grasping an arm and pulling him into a sharp lean over her instead.

Castle blinked a couple of times in surprise. "Uh, yes. I heard you."

"No, mon brute, I'm calling veritas. Now. On behalf of my vagina. That," Kate paused and frowned with feigned uncertainty. "That means you have to stop teasing and fuck me, right?"

She'd never seen a man struggle so hard not to laugh. Oh my gosh. I wish I had my cell. That is pure gold.

"You're the worst ever," Castle managed eventually, his face still red from the strain and his radiant smile still unable to be entirely contained.

"In bed, you mean? I double-dare you to prove that." Because there was only one way he could. Whee!

"That is blatant abuse of a safe word," her partner growled as he grabbed her hips. He jerked her closer and pressing their lower halves sublimely. "I won't forget this."

"Oh my. Abuse, was it?" Kate exhaled sharply at the feel of his palms curling with their fullness around the curves of her ass. Oh, finally. "Well, I showed you my version." She clutched shirt fabric and skin and dragged herself up enough to skim his lips with hers. They brushed together like the petals of overlapping flowers as she concluded, "Show me yours."