Unless something has changed and I don't know about it, I don't own these characters. A huge thank you to my dear friend, SD, who not only managed to get me hooked on yet another show but who also provided much encouragement to try my hand at writing these characters. For those of you who think it's way too early for a Christmas fic, my apologies. But there has been Christmas music playing at my house for a couple of weeks and I've already been doing Christmas shopping, so I figured what the hey.
Sometimes I can't help but wonder how my life became so complicated. One day, I'm going about my job - following leads, tracking down evidence, and making sure the bad guys go to jail – and then the next, I'm saddled with a murder mystery writer who shadows my every move under the guise of "research" for his next book. And not just any writer, but him…Richard Castle…the man whose books literally saved my life. The man who has somehow managed to get under my defenses with his charming smile and annoying habit of weaving a tale for every step in our investigation.
I took a deep breath and let it out slowly as I reached out to ring the bell at his apartment. I never should have agreed to attend his Christmas party, but he'd looked so disappointed when I told him that I didn't think I could make it, that I'd postponed leaving to visit my dad so I could spend the evening rubbing shoulders with his rich and famous friends.
His smile when he opened the door made my stomach jump in excitement as I took in his black slacks and cream sweater. "Detective Beckett, I'm so glad you could join us."
He stepped back to allow me entrance and I glanced around as he closed the door behind me. The apartment had been transformed with Christmas decorations and I could hear laughter echoing through the room. "I love what you've done with the place, Castle," I told him as he helped me out of my coat.
"Thank you," he replied graciously. "Although Alexis is the one responsible for the ideas behind the decorations. I merely supplied the grunt work."
After hanging my coat, he turned back and offered his arm. "You look absolutely stunning this evening," he stated as he led me into the apartment.
"Thank you," I replied as I felt a blush rise to my cheeks. I would never admit to him that I'd spent an entire day at the mall trying on dresses for his party until I found one that I hoped he would like. The dark blue dress was cut just low enough in the front to show off a bit of cleavage and yet still look elegant, and while it hung to just below my knees, it had just enough of a slit in the side to tease him with glimpses of my legs. It was dangerous…this game I was playing. I was falling hard for him and trying to fight it every step of the way. It was difficult though, when the man was such a constant flirt.
Martha and Alexis joined us then, both of them smiling and offering hugs which I gladly accepted. As much as I didn't want to admit it, it felt good to be accepted by his family.
"The apartment looks lovely, Alexis," I told her.
"Thank you, Detective Beckett," she replied.
The doorbell rang then, and I expected I would be left to mingle with the other guests while Castle played the part of gracious host. I was surprised when he deferred to his mother with a simple, "Mother, would you mind manning the door for a few minutes? I'd like to introduce Detective Beckett to a few people."
"By all means, dear," she replied in her usual graceful manner before sweeping past us towards the door.
"You didn't have to do that," I told him, meeting his eyes and finding them sparkling with merriment.
"I wanted to," he replied. "There are actually a couple of people here that I want to make sure to introduce you." Leaning closer, he whispered, "Besides, it will keep mother away from the liquor for a few more minutes."
I laughed then and accepted his arm again when he held it out to me. Sometimes, the man was irrepressible, but sometimes, he was downright charming.
"Are you having a good time?" Alexis asked as she settled on the couch next to me.
"I am," I replied honestly. "It appears as if you Castles know how to throw a party."
"I'm glad you could make it, Detective Beckett," Alexis replied.
"Please, Alexis, call me Kate," I told her. "Detective Beckett sounds way too formal when I'm sitting on the couch in your living room."
She smiled at that and I couldn't help but notice how much it resembled the one her father so often gave me. "Okay then, Kate," she replied. "What are you doing for the holiday?"
"I'm actually taking a few days off work and driving up north to visit my dad," I told her. "I was planning on leaving tonight, but when your dad invited me to be here, I just couldn't tell him no."
"I'm glad," Alexis replied as her eyes searched the room until she found her dad. "It wouldn't have been the same without you here."
"What are you guys doing for the holiday?" I asked, suddenly realizing that I hadn't even bothered to ask Castle.
"We'll have our usual Christmas dinner here with me and dad and gram," she replied. "Then I fly out to California to spend a couple of days with my mom before I have to go back to school."
"California in December sounds like much better weather than New York," I told her.
"Yeah, it usually is, but I hate leaving my dad," she replied.
I glanced over at Castle and the leggy blonde who was standing at his side laughing at whatever joke he was telling. Biting down on the jealousy I felt, I offered Alexis a smile. "I'm sure your father will have plenty to keep himself occupied with while you're gone."
As if sensing where my thoughts had gone, Alexis smiled at me and leaned in closer to whisper, "She's got nothing on you, Kate. Just one of the many groupies who are always trying to win him over."
I wasn't sure what to say so I merely smiled and then turned my attention back to Castle. I watched as he smiled politely at the blonde and then stepped away from her. His eyes searched the room for a moment until they met mine and then he smiled. I returned his smile as he made his way over to join us.
"And what are my two favorite ladies conspiring about?" he asked as he joined us.
"Just talking holiday plans," Alexis replied as she held her hand out and let her father help her to her feet. "I'm going to go check on Gram." Turning to me, she smiled and added, "It was lovely talking with you Kate."
"You, too, Alexis," I replied with a smile.
I watched as she walked away and then turned my attention back to Castle who had settled himself on the arm of the couch. Seeing the smile on his face, I shook my head. "What, Castle?"
"I don't recall you giving me permission to call you Kate," he replied with a slight pout.
"I don't recall giving you permission to follow me around doing research for a character you based on me, but that didn't stop you from doing that," I replied. "I figured if you wanted to call me Kate, you wouldn't ask permission to do so, you would just do it."
"Touché'," he replied with a smile. Nodding to my near empty wineglass, he asked, "Would you like another glass of wine?"
"No thank you," I replied. "I drove myself here tonight and if I have another, I'll be in no condition to leave."
"Then by all means let me get you another," he replied as he got to his feet.
A thrill ran through me as his words brought unbidden images of the two of us tangled together in his bed to mind and I reached for his hand to stop him from going in search of more wine. "Sit, Castle. I am not going to let you get me drunk so you can take advantage of me."
He allowed me to pull him back to the couch and then leaned closer when he replied, "I wasn't looking to take advantage of you, Detective."
"You weren't?" I asked, with a pang of disappointment in my chest.
"No, I wasn't," he replied. "I was looking to get you drunk so I could let you take advantage of me."
Relief flooded me at his words, but I refused to let him know how he affected me. Instead, I turned my attention to the blonde he'd been conversing with and nodded in her direction. "I'm sure you have plenty of willing participants to take advantage of you, Castle."
"But none as stunning as the extraordinary Kate Beckett," he replied as he brought a finger to my chin and turned my face to meet his gaze.
I felt my heart hammering in my chest at the simple statement, his light touch on my face seeming to burn my skin as my body ached for more of him. I swallowed hard in an attempt to reply, but found myself lost in the sincerity of his gaze.
"The buffet is open," Martha called from the kitchen.
Hearing the words seemed to break the spell and I finally managed to tear my gaze away from his. "I believe your mother just rang the dinner bell," I commented.
"Indeed," he replied as he got to his feet.
I longed to touch my face where his finger had just been, but refrained when he offered me his hand to help me to my feet. "May I?"
I placed my hand in his as I got to my feet and tried to ignore the butterflies in my stomach when instead of releasing it, he tucked it under his arm and led us to the kitchen. Yes, my life used to be so much less complicated before I met Richard Castle.
I was leaning against the kitchen island watching as Castle escorted the mayor and his wife to the door. He was, as always, being a gracious host. "It's nice to see that at least a few of the manners I taught him haven't gone to waste," Martha said as she joined me.
I laughed as I looked over at her. "I'm sure it's a struggle for him at times, balancing the good upbringing with the image he has to maintain."
"Not as much as he'd like you to think," Martha replied.
I glanced back over as Castle turned back to get his publisher's coat from the closet and help her on with it. "Always the gentleman," I stated.
"Indeed," Martha replied. "Just beware of the mistletoe."
"What mistletoe?" I asked.
She jerked her head towards the door and I followed, easily finding the sprig hanging from the high ceiling now that she had pointed it out. "Thanks for the warning," I replied.
I glanced down at my watch and realized that it was well after midnight. "I should be going myself," I said as I turned to her. "Thank you so much for a lovely evening."
"Thank you for joining us, my dear," she replied as she leaned in for a hug. "Have a wonderful Christmas."
"You do the same," I replied as I got to my feet.
"Are you leaving?" Alexis asked as she walked over and joined us.
"It's getting late," I replied. "I have a long drive ahead of me tomorrow and want to get an early start."
"Okay," she said as she wrapped her arms around me for a hug. "Have a great Christmas, Kate."
"You too," I told her. "And enjoy a little of that California sunshine for me as well."
"I will," she replied.
I turned then and made my way towards the door where Castle was thanking more of his guests for their attendance before he opened the door to see them out. When he saw me approach, he smiled. "Did you come to join me in my duties?" he teased.
"Actually, I thought I'd just come over here and watch you work for a while," I teased back. "Turnabout is fair play after all."
"I do at least make an attempt to be helpful in your endeavors though," he retaliated.
"Then let me get my own coat," I replied. "And we can call it even for the night."
"Are you crazy?" he asked. "And have to listen to my mother and daughter for weeks to come about how I wasn't a gentleman? No thanks, Beckett."
With that, he turned and reached into the closet for my coat. He walked towards me, holding it open so I could slip my arms into it. "Thank you," I said as I buttoned it.
"You're welcome," he replied as he moved to stand directly in front of me.
"Don't think I don't know what you're up to," I said as I met his gaze. "And keep in mind that I do carry a gun."
He looked confused for a moment but then quickly covered it with a laugh. "Ah, I see you've detected my evil scheme to catch you under the mistletoe, Detective."
"You're going to have to do better than that," I replied as I glanced up at the lonely sprig.
"As I told you earlier, Kate," he said as he stepped closer to me. "I have no intentions of taking advantage of you. I'm merely giving you every opportunity to take advantage of me."
My heart rate sped up at the sound of my name on his lips and I couldn't help but drop my gaze down to them. My life was already complicated enough, wasn't it? But I could always blame it on the mistletoe. Right?
Making a decision, I inched closer to him, bypassing his lips to whisper in his ear. "You should be careful who you let take advantage of you, Richard. One of these days, it might backfire in your face."
With that, I leaned back just enough that I could reach his lips and brushed a barely there tease of a kiss against them. Knowing that I was playing with fire, I pulled back for the briefest of moments before leaning back in for another taste. I allowed myself the pleasure of the softness of his lips against mine, tracing his lower lip with my tongue before sucking it briefly into my mouth. When I felt his tongue against my own lips, I broke off the kiss and stepped away from him.
"Merry Christmas, Castle," I whispered as I looked into his dazed expression, wondering if my own mirrored it.
"Merry Christmas, Kate," he replied as he reached past me to open the door for me.
Once the door was closed behind me and I was in the relative safety of the hallway, I lifted my fingers to my lips and smiled. I could still feel the tingle from where his lips had been pressed against mine. This game was indeed dangerous. But what fun was life without a few complications?
Thanks for taking the time to read. If you would be so kind as to drop me a line and let me know what you think, it would be appreciated.