This is for Carolina17. Thank you for your encouragement. I know it's not the follow-up that you asked for, but I hope it will do instead.
I don't own these characters, but I very much enjoy the opportunity to play around with them.
Happy New Year everyone!!!
Detective Kate Beckett liked to be in control. She was very much aware of the fact that she was a control freak, but the term held no negative connotations for her. In fact, it gave her a sense of peace. Perhaps that's why Rick Castle got under her skin so easily – she couldn't control him. He had bulldozed his way into her life and she was completely helpless to remove him from it. Worse than that, though, was the fact that she now realized that as dangerous as he was to her control, she actually wanted him in her life.
The ringing of her phone pulled Kate from the frantic search she was conducting in her closet. "Beckett," she said by way of greeting.
"Have you found the perfect dress yet?" Lanie asked her, the smile evident in her voice.
Kate settled onto her bed with a sigh. "No. And is it wrong of me for hoping this is a call about a murder so I have a legitimate reason to back out of this thing?"
"By 'this thing' are you referring to your date with Castle?" Lanie teased.
"It's not a date," Kate reminded her. "I am accompanying him to a party that his publisher is throwing for all of her major authors."
"On New Year's Eve," Lanie added, not bothering to hide the amusement in her voice. "At one of the most exclusive clubs in New York City." After a brief pause, Lanie continued, "So have you found the perfect dress yet?"
"I could strangle Castle for roping me into this," Kate replied. "And no, I have no idea what I'm going to wear yet."
"Wear your new red dress," Lanie suggested. "It's perfect for tonight."
Kate got to her feet and made her way back into the closet. As she pulled the dress out and looked at it, she smiled. "Are you sure about this?"
"Positive," Lanie replied. "Castle will love it and you'll feel sexy in it."
"I'm not sure that feeling sexy while in Castle's company is such a good idea," Kate confided.
"Relax, Kate. You're going to have a great time."
Kate sighed again, not wanting to admit that having a great time was exactly what she was afraid of. Castle kept her off-balance. He had somehow gotten under her defenses and now resided in that place in her heart reserved solely for people she truly cared about. The problem was that his constant flirting and teasing kept her wondering if she truly mattered to him or if she was merely a distraction until something or someone else came along.
"Okay then," she finally agreed. "The red dress it is."
"What time is he picking you up again?"
"He said he would be here at eight," Kate replied.
"Then you'd best get off the phone and get yourself ready so you can dazzle your man when he gets there."
In spite of herself, Kate found herself laughing. "Thanks, Lanie."
"You're welcome, girlfriend," Lanie replied. "And keep in mind that you could do a lot worse for yourself than Rick Castle."
"It's still not a date," she reminded her.
"Right," Lanie agreed. "But I still expect details later. Especially if he mans up and kisses you."
Kate felt a blush reach her face at the mere thought of Castle kissing her. "Who says I would let him if he tried?" she argued.
"That red dress and your entire Richard Castle novel collection," Lanie teased. "Face it, Kate. You've got it just as bad for him as he has for you."
"Goodbye, Lanie," Kate said before disconnecting the call. There was no need arguing the point. Lanie had been her best friend for a long time, but there was no convincing her otherwise when she got it in her head that Kate was interested in a guy. Besides, if she was being honest with herself, she would have to admit that she'd had a bit of a crush on him even before she met him. The problem was in trying to reconcile her feelings for Richard Castle, the author, with those she had for Rick Castle, the man. The image he portrayed of himself as an author was just that…an image. She was beginning to think that the real Rick Castle was a fascinating man that she would very much enjoy getting to know better, and that thought scared her.
Pushing aside her concerns for the time being, Kate made her way to the bathroom. She still had plenty of time for a shower before she started on her hair and makeup. If she was going to do this, she was at least going to do it right.
Rick Castle was a man on a mission. Whether by divine intervention or some other miracle, Kate Beckett had agreed to accompany him to a New Year's Eve party and he was determined to make it the most memorable evening of her life. His black suit was hanging on the door of his closet and his white dress shirt was immaculately pressed, just waiting for him to slip it on. He had secured a limousine for the evening, which was scheduled to arrive at his apartment in thirty minutes, and the florist had just delivered the most exquisite bouquet of yellow daffodils for him to give to Kate when he picked her up for the evening. All that was left now was for him to select his tie.
His phone rang and he rushed to answer it. "Castle."
"Red," Lanie stated simply.
"Red? Got it, Doc. I owe you," he replied with a smile.
"If you do anything to hurt her, Castle, you'll answer to me. Are we clear on that?" Lanie asked.
"Crystal clear," he replied.
"Good. Then have a good time tonight."
"Thank you," Castle replied.
He disconnected the call and went to his closet for a red tie. Beckett would undoubtedly be suspicious of his choice, but he hoped she would appreciate it nonetheless. He couldn't recall ever trying to impress a woman as much as he wanted to impress her. There was just something about Kate Beckett that drew him to her. He couldn't imagine ever getting tired of spending time with her and he was thrilled that she had agreed to join him tonight.
When the doorbell rang at exactly eight o'clock, Kate checked her reflection one last time in the full length mirror. Satisfied that she was ready, she turned off the light and made her way to the door. She checked to confirm it was Castle and then opened the door with a smile.
"Right on time," she stated.
His eyes travelled the length of her body, attempting to absorb every detail. She had pulled her hair up and it fell in loose curls around her face. Her makeup was understated, but it drew his attention to her eyes. Her dress was a deep red that accented the tone of her skin. The front was low cut, but not revealing and it clung to her curves in all the right places before flaring out into a full skirt midway down her legs. She wore simple red heels which brought them to eye level and made her legs look amazing. The overall look was extremely classy and Castle couldn't help but smile. "You look absolutely stunning," he said as his eyes returned to hers.
"Thank you," she replied.
He held out the bouquet of flowers. "These are for you."
"You didn't have to bring flowers," she said. "But thank you. They're beautiful."
He stepped into the apartment and closed the door as she turned and headed to the kitchen. "Just let me put these in some water and I'll be ready."
He noticed that she already had her coat laid out so he picked it up while she took care of the flowers. When she returned, he held her coat for her while she slipped into it. She grabbed her purse and then took his offered arm once she had secured the door behind them. She couldn't help but think that for something she had been very careful to keep from labeling a date, it was sure beginning to feel like one.
"Good evening, Detective Beckett," Paula said as she approached the table.
"Good evening, Paula," Kate replied as she looked up at Castle's agent. "And please, it's Kate."
"Do you mind if I join you for a minute?" Paula asked, indicating the empty seat across from her.
"Not at all," Kate replied. "Castle just went to get us a refill on our drinks."
Paula settled in the seat across from her with a relaxed smile. "It's good to see you here with Rick," she said.
"I was flattered when he invited me," Kate replied, not mentioning anything about her surprise at the fact that he not only brought flowers with him, but that he also rented a limousine for the evening. She was quite certain that, unlike her, Paula expected that type of behavior from the men in her life.
Paula looked at her for a long moment before nodding her head as if finally deciding something in her mind. "You're good for him, you know."
"Excuse me?" Kate questioned.
"Don't get me wrong. Rick is a great guy. He can just be a bit overwhelming at times. You keep him balanced and grounded. I don't think I've ever seen him as content as he is now that you're a part of his life," Paula replied. "You're good for him."
Kate glanced over to where Castle was still waiting in line at the bar for their drinks before attempting to set the record straight. "I'm not sure what you've heard, but Castle and I are not together, Paula. We are merely work colleagues."
Paula laughed and shook her head. "Kate, I've known Rick for a very long time and trust me when I say that the man is completely smitten with you. It might have started out as a working relationship, but I can assure you that, for him, it moved beyond that a long time ago."
Kate started to protest, but stopped when she saw Castle heading back in their direction. Following the direction of her gaze, Paula got to her feet. "It's been delightful chatting with you, Kate," she said as Castle reached the table.
"Hello, Paula," Castle said as he sat the drinks on the table.
"Hello, Rick," Paula replied as she leaned over and placed a kiss on his cheek. "I was just saying hello to Detective Beckett. It's nice to see you guys here together. Enjoy your evening."
Castle watched her retreat and then turned back to Kate with a puzzled expression. "Did I miss something?"
Kate shook her head slightly. "Nothing of any importance," she replied as Castle settled into the seat Paula had just vacated. Lifting her diet coke, she added, "Thank you for the drink."
"You're welcome," he replied as he picked up his own glass of soda water. When he'd offered alcohol, she'd turned him down; stating that never knowing when she was going to get called out on a case meant she rarely drank. In deference to her, he'd chosen not to drink as well. They had agreed on one glass of champagne to toast the New Year though.
"How many of these people do you actually know?" Kate asked as she surveyed the room.
Castle's eyes moved around the room once before returning to her. "I've probably been introduced to most of them at some point during my career," he replied. "I could probably name about half of them to you right now. Of that half, I could probably give you details on about a quarter of them and that comes solely from our interaction at these events. There are only a couple of people here that I really know well enough to sit down and have a serious, relevant conversation with."
Her gaze returned to his and she gave him a soft smile. "So why do you attend these parties if you don't really know anybody at them?"
He shrugged his shoulders. "Part of the job description, I guess," he replied. "However, tonight it was a chance to dress up and spend an evening on the town with a beautiful woman on my arm."
"And if I had said no?" she teased.
"I would've pestered you until you changed your mind," he replied.
She smiled at that, imagining him doing just that. "And if that hadn't worked?"
"I would've tried extortion and blackmail," he quipped. "And if that hadn't worked either, I would've called the Mayor and asked him to order you to attend with me."
She locked her eyes on his, wondering just how serious he was about that last part. There was a glimmer of mischief in his blue depths and she couldn't help but smile. "Good thing I didn't have my heart set on staying home and watching the ball drop on television then, isn't it?"
"Good thing," he agreed.
Their gazes locked for a long moment and Kate wondered what he was thinking. He surprised her by the next words out of his mouth. "Would you like to dance?"
He hadn't realized how nervous he'd been that she would decline until she smiled and nodded her head. "I think I'd like that very much," she said. He let out the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding and quickly got to his feet and offered her his hand.
She placed her hand in his and allowed him to lead her to the dance floor and pull her into his arms. The band was playing a slow number and she felt a thrill of excitement run through her when he placed his right hand on the small of her back and pulled her into his embrace. She lifted her left hand to his shoulder and followed his lead as he maneuvered them smoothly across the floor.
"Why Detective Beckett, you're rather good at this," he noted as he met her gaze.
"A misspent youth," she replied in explanation. "What's your excuse?"
"My mother insisted that a true gentleman should know his way around the dance floor," he stated. "Besides that, she often needed a dance partner for learning her parts and since I was around, I was the perfect choice."
She smiled at the mental image of a young Rick Castle leading his mother around the dance floor. "It suits you, Castle."
"Thank you," he replied. "I like to think I was at least partially responsible for my mother earning a couple of her roles on Broadway."
"How is she doing in her current role?" Kate asked. "Isn't it scheduled to open next week?"
"Opening night is January 8th," Castle confirmed. "And mother is having the time of her life. She's spending her days at rehearsals and her evenings with Chet and I can honestly say that I haven't seen her this happy in years."
"How about you?" Kate probed. "Are you happy with the situation?"
His eyes met hers again and he offered a small smile. "I had a nice talk with Chet a couple of weeks ago and I'm convinced that he's in this for the long haul, so I'm okay with it."
Her eyebrows rose at that. "You actually sat him down and asked him what his intentions toward your mother were?"
"Why do you look so surprised?" he asked.
She thought about it for a moment before she shrugged. "I guess that I'm just not used to that side of you," she admitted. "It's…refreshing."
"Really?" he asked. "You don't think I'm being a chauvinist? Trying to take care of the 'weak female' in my life?"
"I think there's a difference between being a chauvinist and being a concerned son," she replied. "I would expect the same behavior if it was a young man showing interest in Alexis."
"If it had been Alexis, you would've known about it long before it happened because I would have asked you to run a background check on him," he admitted.
She laughed at that. As much as he joked about it, she knew that he took his responsibilities as a father very seriously. It only took spending five minutes with him and Alexis together to see that. And as much as she hated to admit it, she found him even more attractive during those rare moments when he was too busy being a father to annoy her.
Catching his eye again, she let out a soft sigh. "What are we doing, Castle?"
He raised his eyebrow and smiled. "We're dancing, Beckett. And we're doing it quite well."
"That's not what I meant," she replied.
He shrugged slightly, not sure how to answer her. "Then I guess I'm at a loss."
She pulled back slightly and narrowed her eyes. "I've never known you to be at a loss for words, Castle. You're a writer, remember?"
He pulled her back into his embrace with a smile. "Okay then, if I was writing this particular story, it would go something like this. Two consenting adults agree to spend the evening together at a party to bring in the New Year. Although not willing to admit it to each other, both of them enter the evening with certain expectations and hopes."
He paused for a moment, and then continued with a wink. "The woman, who is quite breath-takingly beautiful, I might add, insists that there is nothing between the two. However, the man knows that when she's being honest with herself, she admits there is a mutual attraction between them."
He paused again, and the slight blush coloring her face was all the answer he needed from her to know that he was right. "The man wants the evening to be memorable, because he wants to build upon it for many years to come. However, the woman is leery of accepting anything that he does at face value, anticipating that his every move is motivated solely on the advancement of his career. Unsure how to change her perception of him, the man does the only thing that he knows how to do; he opens himself up to her, inviting her into his world, hoping that she'll dig as deep as she needs to in order to find the answers she seeks before being willing to risk her heart with this man."
"The man understands her weariness. He knows that she needs more than empty words from him. He knows she needs actions that back up those words, or perhaps even take the place of those words. In spite of her belief to the contrary, the man is patient. He feels that he has waited his entire life to meet her, so waiting until she's certain is not a problem for him. He has resigned himself to the fact that his fate is in her hands, but he trusts her enough to know that she will protect it as fervently as she does all of the other things that are important to her. And while she might not realize it, the man has committed himself to doing the same for her."
"So the man savors every moment of their evening together and hopes that he has succeeded in making it as memorable for her as it has been for him. He knows that he will close his eyes and remember the feel of her in his arms as they danced. He will remember the color of her eyes when she laughed with him. But most of all, he will remember how exquisitely beautiful the woman is, knowing that her beauty radiates from within her and reflects upon all that surrounds her."
Her eyes still locked on his, Kate finally found her voice. "How does the story end?"
"You tell me, Kate," he replied.
She kept her eyes locked with his, searching for something in their depths. Seeing only honesty reflected back at her, she offered him a small smile and decided to lighten the mood with a bit of levity. "It's probably going to depend on how good of a kisser the man is," she teased. "If he can't wow her with a New Year's kiss, she's probably going to assume that the attraction she feels is completely one-sided and misplaced."
Castle laughed at that and pulled her against him in a hug. "Should he wait until midnight or start practicing early?" he asked softly.
"I guess he should figure that one out," she teased. Stepping out of his embrace, she smiled at him. "While you work on that, I'm going to visit the ladies room and freshen up."
Castle reluctantly released her and watched as she made her way off the dance floor. With a bit of a spring in his step, he made his way back to their table to await her return. He couldn't help but think that perhaps he wasn't going to have to wait as long as he thought he might have to for Kate to start taking him seriously.
Kate had returned to their table to find Castle engrossed in conversation with his publisher, who had insisted that he join her in working the room. There were several new writers that she wanted to introduce him to, hoping to use his publicity to encourage them to sign contracts with her. The next couple of hours had found the three of them working their way around the room and Kate had actually been surprised by the number of people whose names she recognized. It had been fascinating watching Castle in his element and she briefly wondered if he felt the same way when she was working a murder investigation.
As the clock approached midnight, Castle excused them from a conversation and led her towards the bar for a glass of champagne. He hated the fact that he'd been unable to spend the entire evening focused on her and was afraid that she'd been miserable as he'd talked to his fellow writers. Before he could offer an apology, she smiled at him. "That was quite possibly the most entertaining two hours of my life," she told him.
"Really?' he asked. "I figured you would've been bored out of your mind."
"It was very intriguing to watch your interaction with your colleagues," she replied. "I think I can see why you enjoy tailing us around so much."
Castle accepted two champagne flutes from the bartender and offered her one before he replied, "You're not just saying that to make me feel better, are you?"
Kate arched an eyebrow at him. "Have you ever known me to say something just to make you feel better?"
"You've got a good point," he conceded as he led them towards the dance floor where the majority of the party-goers were gathered.
Castle took her hand in his and led them to the far edge of the crowd as the emcee called everyone to attention for the countdown to midnight. "So have you made any resolutions for the upcoming year?" Castle asked.
"Not really," she replied as she turned to look at him. "Have you?"
"I resolved to stop making resolutions a few years ago," he answered with a smile. "I've found it to be one of the few that I've actually kept."
She smiled at his reply and lifted her glass as she heard the emcee reach ten on the countdown. "To a New Year, Castle."
"May it be filled with happiness," he replied.
They clinked their glasses together as the countdown reached one. "Happy New Year," they said together before lifting their glasses for a sip. As the band began playing "Auld Lang Syne", Castle took both of their glasses in hand and turned to set them on a nearby table. He then turned his full attention back to Kate.
Without another word, he lifted both hands to cup her face and then slowly lowered his lips to hers. He felt her hands slide up his chest as he kissed her slowly, not wanting to rush through the moment. He sucked her lower lip into his mouth and then traced his tongue along it until he felt her part her lips beneath his, allowing him access into the warm recess of her mouth. Her tongue met his in an erotic dance as the kiss deepened and he couldn't hold back a moan of satisfaction at the feel of her in his arms.
Not wanting to get carried away in such a public venue, Castle eased his lips away from her and rested his forehead against hers as he attempted to catch his breath. Her hands were gripped tightly to the lapels of his jacket and her eyes were still closed when she said, "That was nice, Castle."
Unable to contain himself, he gently brushed his lips against hers again as he moved his hands to cover hers, noting with some trepidation that his were trembling slightly. When she finally opened her eyes, Castle smiled at her. "So tell me, Detective, do you think that one had enough of a wow factor that the woman will consider saying yes when the man asks her out?"
Kate returned his smile and then leaned up to brush her lips against his softly. "I think it was just enough that the man definitely got her attention," she replied. "I'm quite certain that she's going to reserve judgment until the good night kiss though."
"Then I'm sure the man is going to be looking forward to walking her to her door," he replied.
Before she could respond, a couple bumped into them, forcing them to break contact in order to keep their balance. The intruding couple apologized profusely and wished them a Happy New Year before stumbling off in the opposite direction.
"I think they might have had too much to drink," Castle commented.
"A common occurrence on New Year's Eve," Kate replied.
Castle reached for her hand again and laced their fingers together. "How about another dance before we call it a night?"
"I'd like that," she replied, in no hurry for their evening to come to an end.
As he pulled her into his embrace, she couldn't help but think that starting the year in Rick Castle's arms might possibly be the perfect way to start every year.
I'm not sure whether this is going to stay a one-shot or turn into a multi-chapter fic. I guess I'll leave it up to you guys as to whether you want me to continue or not. Thanks for reading.