First and foremost, I apologize for the delay in getting this posted. No excuses. The blame is all on me.

Second, some people who need to be thanked. Educate, thank you for the motivation when I was seriously lacking it and for…well, you know. IMW, thank you for the wonderful beta job you have done on this story. Softer, thank you for the words of encouragement when I needed to hear them. Carolina17, thank you for dubbing me a slacker. ss_sunset, thank you for the "pestering" to remind me that people were still waiting for this. And to everyone who has read, reviewed, alerted and/or favorited this story, thank you for doing so.

Okay, enough rambling on my part. This chapter covers four months in the lives of our heroes so I've included the dates at the beginning of sections in an effort to help keep things straight. Hope you enjoy.

January 2011

Kate pulled the car to a stop just outside the yellow crime scene tape and turned to face Castle. The call about the dead body had come before four that morning interrupting the first good night's sleep they'd had the opportunity to catch in over two weeks.

"You can stay in the car if you want," she offered, knowing even as she suggested it that he would turn her down.

A hint of a smile ghosted across his lips as he met her concerned gaze.

"I'm fine, Kate."

She nodded her acceptance as she glanced in the rearview mirror, watching as Lance and the rest of their security team positioned themselves around the car.

"Were you able to reach Reggie?" she asked.

"I gave him the address," Castle confirmed.

Reggie James was the private investigator they had hired in December. When Castle had explained the situation with their stalker, Reggie had jumped at the opportunity to help them. Since then, Reggie had been following Castle's every move, documenting the people who were in the area at the same time and making note of anyone who showed up in more than one place – especially anyone with a camera. The plan was to catch their stalker in the act and then to turn the tables on him. Unfortunately, it required that Castle make numerous public appearances…something they had avoided for over six weeks in an effort to frustrate their stalker.

Kate had to admit that she was impressed with Reggie's work. Mostly because even though she knew for a fact that he was following them, she had yet to catch sight of him. More than that though, the pictures he had taken of spectators at crime scenes and public appearances were of exceptional quality. So far, there had been a couple of possible suspects, and Reggie's pictures had made running facial recognition software an easy task. The fact that he had access to several databases to run them against only served to further impress her.

Since Christmas, she and Castle had made numerous public appearances. From parties, to movie premieres, to impromptu book signings at bookstores, all had been done in an effort to flush their stalker. The one thing they had been very careful about were their meetings with Reggie. They didn't want to tip their hand and give their stalker a chance to cover his tracks. So far, it appeared to be working. The number of pictures and packages seemed to be increasing in direct correlation with their increased public appearances. Unfortunately, the downside was the strain it was putting on the two of them.

Between cases and public appearances, it had been over two weeks since she and Castle had had an evening alone. After a quiet dinner with Alexis, they had turned in early only to be awakened by a call out to a crime scene. Castle's first call had been to Reggie, wanting to make sure he knew their destination in plenty of time to set up surveillance. Once that had been taken care of, they had alerted Lance and then headed out, knowing it was likely to be a long day.

"Enough stalling," Castle finally said. "We agreed this was our best course of action and while I have to admit that I was hoping for results a lot sooner than they're happening, I'm committed to staying the course."

Her eyes took in the determination obvious in the set of his jaw and Kate offered him a small smile.

"Okay then."

"Okay," he echoed.

"Let's do this."

"What do we have, Lanie?" Kate asked as her and Castle made their way into the alley, the floodlights the crime scene unit had set up illuminating the pool of blood surrounding their victim and running toward the street.

"Single gunshot wound," Lanie replied, not bothering to look up from her examination. "Small caliber. Looks like it might have nicked the ascending aorta, but I won't know for sure until I get her back to the lab."

"Her name is Lesley Raven," Esposito said as he stepped up to Beckett's side and handed her a plastic evidence bag containing a purse. "According to her driver's license, she's twenty-four and lives two blocks over. There's over two hundred dollars in cash in her wallet and several credit cards."

"Guess that rules out robbery," Castle offered.

"Who found her?" Beckett asked, turning her attention to Esposito.

Esposito nodded to where Ryan was talking to a young couple.

"Max and Trish Ringer. He's a bartender and she's a waitress at a place on 34th. They were just getting home from work when they noticed the blood and called it in."

"Did they know our victim?"


"After Ryan finishes getting their statements, the two of you canvass the area and see if anyone recognizes our victim. Then I want you to verify the time the Ringers left work so we can mark them off the suspect list."

"On it."

Turning her attention back to Lanie, Kate squatted down beside the body, her eyes taking in the multiple scratches on the victim's hands and arms as well as the bruises on her face.

"It looks like she put up quite a fight."

Lanie lifted her eyes to meet Kate's gaze.

"I estimate time of death between ten p.m. and midnight, but the bruises on her face and arms are at least twelve hours old."

"So someone used her as a punching bag before she was murdered?" Castle asked.

"It looks that way," Lanie agreed.

Kate's eyes travelled over the body one last time before she stood up.

"Anything else?"

"Not yet, but I'll let you know once I get her back to the morgue."

"Thanks, Lanie."

With nothing more than a nod, Lanie turned her attention back to the body.

After taking the time to do a mental inventory of the scene, Kate turned her attention back to Castle.

"Let's go have a look at her apartment, Castle."

"What are we looking for?" he asked as he followed her back to the car.

"Something to point us to the identity of who might have wanted to see Lesley dead. Or at the very least, the identity of who was abusing her."

"You don't think the two are related?" he asked as they settled into the car, a cursory glance assuring him that their security team was close behind.

"I'm not ruling it out," she replied. "But just because someone knocked her around, it doesn't necessarily mean the same person killed her."

"But the odds are in favor of it."

"Unfortunately, yes."

"I hate domestic cases," Castle stated.

"I know," she replied, sparing a glance in his direction. Domestic cases and kids…they were always the worst.

Allowing herself a brief moment, she reached for his hand and gave it a squeeze. It was definitely going to be a long day.

February 2011

Kate was leaning against her desk, her attention on the murder board in front of her. They had caught Lesley Raven's murderer - an ex-boyfriend who refused to accept that she was leaving him - and then caught another case on the heels of it. Kate's instincts were telling her that the victim's mistress was hiding something, but so far, they had been unable to find anything concrete on her. On top of that, they'd gotten called out early that morning to Central Park only to end up in a jurisdictional dispute. To be honest, Kate hadn't minded giving up the lead. She had only protested for the sake of argument.

Castle's appearance at her elbow did nothing to break her concentration, but the tone of his voice when he said her name drew her full attention.

"Kate, Reggie's here."

"At the precinct?" she asked, knowing they'd intentionally kept their meetings away from the precinct.

"He has something he wants to show us."

Kate followed Castle into the conference room, only slightly surprised to find Captain Montgomery already in there with Reggie.

Reggie met her gaze, a quick nod the only pleasantries he bothered with before beginning his explanation.

"I've been going through my photos from the crime scenes, specifically the ones where pictures have been taken of you and Rick and I think I've found something."

Kate watched as he spread several photos on the table, her mind instantly connecting the photos to victims.

"What are we looking at?" Castle asked.

Reggie pointed to a man in the first photo.

"Do you recognize him?"

"A cop?" Kate asked, her eyes quickly meeting Captain Montgomery's.

"No," Reggie continued. "He's posing as a cop, but I'm certain that he isn't one."

Kate took her time studying the pictures, Castle looking over her shoulder, before passing them on to Captain Montgomery.

"I don't see anything here that convinces me this officer is our stalker," she finally said as she looked up at Reggie.

"But you recognize the crime scenes?" he asked. "And you've gotten pictures from all of them, correct?"

"There are several officers assigned to our crime scenes," she replied. "Just because he was there doesn't make him guilty."

Kate glared at Reggie, daring him to prove her wrong. As much as she didn't want to admit it, it made sense. And the hair on the back of her neck had been standing on edge since she'd glanced at the first picture.

Reggie reached for another stack of photos.

"I took these this morning," he told them as he spread them out on the table. "Since I was already suspicious, I decided to focus my attention solely on him."

Kate placed her hands on the table, leaning forward to get a better look at the photo spread. It quickly became obvious that the officer in the photo was not what he appeared to be. There were several pictures of him walking around the scene with a camera in his hand, but in every frame, the camera was pointed towards the officers on scene as opposed to the actual crime scene.

Kate glanced up when she reached the final photo - a close up of his badge.

"Have you already run the badge number?"

"It's a legitimate badge number," Reggie confirmed. "Officer Jason Watson."

"I know Watson," Castle said. "I met him at one of the crime scenes last year. He told me his wife was a big fan so I autographed a copy of Heat Wave for him. This is not him."

Kate looked over at Captain Montgomery with a raised brow.


"Let me check incident reports," Montgomery replied. "See if Watson reported his badge missing. You pull crime scene log sheets and see if Watson's name shows up on any of them."

Kate nodded her agreement and then turned her attention back to Reggie when he spoke again.

"What do you want me to do with this information?"

Kate looked at Castle for a long minute before turning back to Reggie.

"Sit on it for now. Keep an eye out for him, but don't pursue him until we've had a chance to verify things on our end. We don't want to run the risk of spooking him."

Reggie nodded his agreement and had already started gathering the photos when Castle spoke again.

"What about other places?" he asked. When three sets of eyes turned to him, he gave a small shrug. "Does this guy show up at any of the other public events? The charity auction last week? The movie premiere the week before that? I agree that this guy's behavior is more than a little suspect, but the photos he's sending us aren't just from crime scenes. If this guy doesn't show up at any of the other places, then it's a pretty good bet that he's not the guy we're looking for."

"Now that I know who to look for, I'll go back through my photos of all of those other events and see if there's a connection," Reggie replied.

"If this is our guy, he will most likely blend in," Montgomery offered. "I'm fairly certain Castle and Beckett would have noticed a uniformed NYPD officer at the charity auction."

"I'll be thorough," Reggie promised as he finished gathering his things. "And I'll be in touch just as soon as I find something."

"We'll let you know what we find out about Watson's badge," Kate told him.

Reggie took a moment to shake their hands, pausing when he got to Castle.

"We're getting closer, Rick."

Castle merely nodded, moving to lean a hip against the table as Montgomery followed Reggie out of the room.

Kate moved to stand in front of him, placing a hand on his forearm and giving it a gentle squeeze.

"Are you okay?"

Castle lifted his hands and scrubbed them down his face before meeting her gaze, a wry smile on his lips.

"Not exactly what you thought you were signing up for when you agreed to marry me, is it?"

Kate chuckled softly.

"Not exactly."

"I'm sorry. You should be meeting with the caterer and florist discussing wedding details, not with a private investigator discussing whether or not we finally have a lead on who's been stalking me."

"Hey," she said, taking his hands in hers. "This is not your fault." After a brief pause, she added, "Besides, we hired Lauren to handle all the wedding details."

Castle couldn't help but laugh at that.

"I don't deserve you."

"Probably not," she agreed with a smile. "Regardless of that though, you're stuck with me."

He gave her hands a squeeze.

"I love you."

"I love you, too." Giving a slight tug on his hands, she turned towards the conference room door. "Come on, Castle. We have work to do."

"About that," Castle said as they stepped through the door and back into the bullpen. "Are you sure the wife didn't know about the affair?"

"As far as we can tell, no. Why?"

"Makes for a better story," he replied. "Faithful wife discovers her husband is having an affair and plans to leave her so she kills him and frames the mistress."

"The wife has an alibi," Kate reminded him.

"So does the mistress," Castle pointed out.

"Then there has to be another player in the game," Kate said as they came to a stop in front of the murder board.

They stared at the board in silence for a long minute before Castle finally spoke again.

"What if they did it together?"

Kate turned to stare at him but before she could even voice her disbelief at his theory, something clicked into place in her mind.

"I can't believe I'm saying this, but in a way, that makes sense." Kate grabbed her coat and pulled it on as she headed towards the elevator. "Come on, Castle. Let's go talk to these two again."

Castle hurriedly grabbed his coat and followed her, not completely sure what she was thinking, but experienced enough to know her instincts were usually correct.

"Dennis Pettigrew," Esposito said as he dropped a file into the middle of the stack of paperwork Kate was working on.

Kate bit back a growl of frustration and turned her attention to Esposito.


Esposito nodded to the file.

"Dennis Pettigrew," he repeated.

Since they weren't currently working on a case, Kate had no idea what he was talking about. Regardless, she placed her pen on her desk and picked up the file, opening the cover to find an 8x10 color photograph staring up at her.

"You found him?" she asked, her eyes darting up to the smug smile on Esposito's face.

"Found whom?" Castle asked as he moved from his seat to look over Kate's shoulder.

"Your stalker," Esposito replied as Castle studied the picture of the man they had spent the better part of the month trying to track down.

"He used to be a high school English teacher," Esposito said. "From what we've found so far, he came into a large sum of money about ten years ago and retired from his position at PS 189. He bought a condo on the Upper East Side and has basically lived off of investments."

Castle settled back in his chair, his expression giving Kate pause.

"What is it, Castle?"

He looked at her and shook his head.

"I'm not sure. Something about that name seems familiar though."

Ryan joined them then, another file in his hand.

"Pettigrew has a sealed juvenile record," he informed them. "Captain Montgomery is already making calls to see about getting them unsealed. Other than that, his record is clean. Not so much as a parking ticket."

Kate focused on Castle, noting from the way his brow was still furrowed that he was only partially paying attention to them. Moving her chair a bit closer to him, she placed a hand on his knee.

"What are you thinking?"

He met her gaze with a shrug.

"I know that name from somewhere."

"Maybe you've met him before," she suggested. "At a book signing or a charity event."

Castle's face lit up as a smile spread across his face.

"Last New Year's Eve."

At Kate's confused look, he quickly continued.

"Do you remember when Gina was dragging us around the room introducing us to different authors?"

Kate nodded slowly. Most of what she recalled from that experience was how fascinating it had been to watch Castle interact with his colleagues.

"One of them was named Pettigrew."

"Are you sure?" Esposito asked.

"Positive," Castle replied. "I remember because the whole time he was talking, I just kept thinking that he didn't look anything at all like the famous football player."

Kate shook her head even as she smiled. Only Castle.

"Call Gina and see what she can tell you about him," she said. "I'm going to contact Reggie and tell him we've got information for him."

Castle pulled his phone from his pocket and stepped away from them to place the call. After making her own call to Reggie and agreeing to meet him, Kate turned to Ryan and Esposito with a spark in her eye that they hadn't seen in quite some time.

"Great work, guys," she said. "Now let's nail this bastard."

March 2011

Kate looked up at the four story apartment building they were currently watching as they waited for the rest of the team to arrive.

"I've got a bad feeling about this," she said as she turned her attention to Castle.

Instead of the flippant comment she was expecting about it being something she ate, he surprised her with his reply.

"So do I."

They had been tracking Dennis Pettigrew for three weeks now and had finally gathered enough evidence to get a judge to sign off on an arrest warrant. Reggie had confirmed that he was currently holed up in the northeast corner apartment on the third floor and Kate had assembled a team to bring him in.

"We still have no idea why he fixated on you," she stated.

"We might never know the answer to that," he reminded her as he saw Ryan and Esposito pull in behind them.

"Would it do any good to ask you to stay in the car?" she asked as she opened her car door.

He surprised her again with his answer.

"If that's what you want, Kate."

Looking at him over the top of the car, she recognized the sincerity in his gaze. And while part of her wanted to ask him to do just that, another part of her was concerned about leaving him alone in the event that Pettigrew was already on the move. They had no way of knowing if he would turn violent when he realized that he was cornered. No, the best place for Castle was at her side.

"Stay behind me," she told him.

"Always," he agreed as he followed them into the building only a few short minutes away from confronting the man who had made their lives a living hell for the last five months.

Kate lifted her head at the sound of a throat being cleared, her eyes darting to the doorway of the hospital room where Esposito met her gaze, a simple tilt of his head indicating he wanted to talk. Doing her best not to wake Alexis, Kate maneuvered off the small couch, settling a pillow beneath the teenager's head where it had been resting on her lap.

"How's Castle?" Esposito asked as soon as the door closed behind them.

"No change," Kate replied, her eyes drifting to the door she had just walked through. Taking a deep breath, she forced her gaze back to Esposito. "What do you have?"

"Pettigrew never went back to his condo on the Upper East Side," he replied. "The CSU team at the scene has confirmed that he was wounded though. It looks like your shot at least winged him."

Ryan joined them then, handing a cup of coffee to Kate.

"We've got people checking every hospital and immediate care center within a fifty mile radius to see if Pettigrew stopped for medical attention."

"My money is on him trying to get out of the city as fast as possible," Kate said.

"We're making that as difficult as possible," Ryan assured her.

"How is the story spinning in the news?" Kate asked, nodding to the newspaper tucked under Ryan's arm.

He pulled the paper out and handed it to her, watching her reaction as she unfolded it to read the morning's headline.

"Famous Author Rick Castle hospitalized while police conduct manhunt for his alleged stalker, Dennis Pettigrew."

There was a press photo of Castle on one side of the article and the DMV photo they had released of Pettigrew on the other side.

Kate nodded slightly, quickly skimming the article, noting with irritation that it seemed to be focused more on speculation about whether this would disrupt their wedding plans instead of the fact that there was a statewide manhunt on for Pettigrew.

"Hopefully at least someone will recognize him," Esposito offered, having already read the article and aware that there wasn't much substance to it beyond the headline.

She refolded the paper and handed it back to Ryan before taking a deliberate drink of her coffee.

"I should get to the precinct."

"No, you shouldn't," Esposito replied, earning a raised eyebrow which prompted him to continue. "Ryan and I can run point on this one. You stay here with Castle and keep an eye on things in case Pettigrew is crazier than any of us think and decides to try to finish the job here at the hospital."

Kate took a deep breath and let it out slowly, her eyes quickly taking in the details of the hospital corridor, including not only Lance and their personal security team but also uniformed officers standing guard at either end of the hallway.

"Captain Montgomery isn't taking any chances," Ryan told her.

"Okay," she finally agreed. "But keep me posted."

"We will," they assured her.

Kate turned to go back into the room, but paused with her hand on the door.

"Thanks, guys."

They merely nodded and started down the hall. Kate watched until they reached the elevator before she drew another deep breath and stepped back into Castle's room. Her eyes immediately sought his face, hoping to find him awake with a smile on his face and a wisecrack on his lips. Instead she was met with the silence of the room, his skin pale against the white hospital sheets. As she made her way to his side, she fought back the tears that threatened to fall.

Pettigrew had managed to elude them at the apartment building the day before, using a six inch knife to leave a nasty gash on Castle's arm that had required immediate surgery. Fortunately, the surgeon had been able to repair the damage and was certain there was no nerve damage. Unfortunately, Castle had had a reaction to the anesthesia and his blood pressure had dropped so low that he nearly coded on the operating table.

The doctors assured Kate that he was fine now, his body merely recovering from the ordeal, but he had yet to awaken which had Kate worried. Being mindful of the i.v. in the hand not currently wrapped in bandages, Kate laced her fingers with Castle's and leaned down to plant a kiss just above his ear.

"You're sleeping through all the action again, Castle," she whispered. "And if you don't wake up soon, I'm going to tell Alexis that it's okay if she wants to go to school in England instead of New York."

When her words got no reaction, Kate bit back a sigh and placed another kiss on his cheek before returning to her spot next to Alexis. Making sure her gun was easily accessible in case Pettigrew did decide to pay them a visit, Kate forced herself to relax as she settled in to continue her vigil.

Kate was still laughing at Castle's horrible knock-knock jokes when a knock on the door drew her attention. She looked up to see Esposito standing there and waved him inside. His slight hesitation alerted her to the fact that he had news on Pettigrew and she stood to excuse herself, intending to join him in the hallway.

Noticing their guest, Martha stood and cleared her throat.

"Alexis, honey, why don't you and I go see if we can rustle up something edible from the cafeteria?"

Alexis glanced around before nodding her agreement. They were all anxious to hear news of the stalker, but she knew Esposito would feel like he needed to censor himself if she and her grandmother were still in the room.

Once the two of them had left the room, Esposito stepped to the side of the bed.

"Glad to see you decided to rejoin us, Castle," he teased. He'd gotten the text from Beckett late the previous night stating that Castle had finally woken, but had gotten a tip on Pettigrew's location shortly afterwards and had been unable to stop by to check in on him before now.

Castle merely shrugged.

"I figured it was time to let the professionals do their job," he replied.

"You have news?" Kate asked.

"We got a hotline tip that Pettigrew was holed up in a motel a few blocks from his condo. We put together a swat team and headed out only to find him dead when we got there."

Kate closed her eyes and let out a sigh as Esposito continued.

"Lanie puts time of death about twelve hours ago and is ruling it a suicide."

"So it's over then," Castle said as he reached for Kate's hand.

"Yeah," Esposito confirmed. "It's over. CSU found enough evidence at the apartment that we're certain Pettigrew was the one stalking you."

"No idea why?" Kate asked.

"Ryan is checking into Pettigrew's medical history to see if there's any history of mental illness," he replied. "But beyond that, whatever his motives were, he took them to the grave with him."

Kate shook her head even as she gave Castle's hand a squeeze. As happy as she was that the ordeal was finally over, she hated not knowing why Pettigrew had fixated on Castle.

"Anyway," Esposito continued as he turned his attention to Castle. "I'm on my way back to the precinct to finish up the paperwork, and then Captain Montgomery has given us a couple of days off. Any word when you're getting cut loose from here?"

"If all goes as planned, early tomorrow," he replied.

"Then Ryan and I will stop by the loft tomorrow afternoon," Esposito promised. With a nod to Castle's bandaged hand, he added, "That might be enough of a handicap for us to take you in Halo."

"Bring it on," Castle replied.

Esposito merely grinned and turned to Kate.

"I'll call if Ryan finds anything."

"Thanks, Esposito," she replied as she walked him to the door.

"No problem," he replied.

Kate closed the door and then turned her attention back to Castle.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

Kate shrugged.

"Pettigrew made our lives miserable for over five months," she replied. "It would be nice to know why he did it."

"Even if they'd taken him alive, there's no guarantee we would ever know why for sure," he pointed out.

"I know," she agreed as she made her way back to his side. "It doesn't mean I have to like it."

He grinned as he took her hand in his again.

"Look at the bright side," he said. "At least now we can get our privacy back."

Kate couldn't help but smile at that. It had been a point of contention since they had hired Lance for added security.

"Not to mention we can focus all of our attention on planning our wedding," he added.

"That's what we hired Lauren for, remember?" Kate teased as she leaned down to brush her lips against his.

"Then we can focus on planning our honeymoon," he countered.

Kate grinned and kissed him again. The honeymoon had been the one detail that Castle had insisted on planning himself. The reality of the situation with Pettigrew had kept her focus so divided that she hadn't really had the opportunity to question him for information.

"About that," she began.

"Oh no," Castle replied with a chuckle as he met her gaze. "My lips are sealed."

"I have ways of making you talk," Kate replied.

Castle's smiled widened as he arched an eyebrow.

"Bring it on, Detective."

Kate's laughter rang out and as the knowledge that they were finally free from their stalker began to settle in, she felt a weight fall from her shoulders and felt herself truly relax for what felt like the first time in months.

April 17, 2011

Castle awoke to find Kate propped up on an elbow, her free hand tracing idle patterns on his bare chest as her eyes raked over his body.

"Are you watching me sleep?" he asked, his voice sleep roughened.

Kate smiled as her eyes met his.


"It's a little creepy," he stated.

Kate couldn't help but laugh.

"I've been telling you that for months."

He caught her hand in his and lifted it to his lips, kissing the back of it and enjoying the way the wedding band on her finger caught the early morning light.

"Good morning, wife," he said as he intertwined their fingers before resting them back on his chest.

"Good morning, husband," she replied as she leaned down to press her lips against his shoulder.

Castle smiled at that. He was quite certain that he would never get tired of hearing those words from Kate's lips.

The ceremony had gone off without a hitch, everything falling easily into place as their friends and family had gathered to celebrate with them. While Castle had thought Alexis and Lanie both beautiful in their bridesmaid's dresses, Kate had been absolutely breath-taking in her wedding gown.

In spite of the teasing and laughter that they had shared during the rehearsal, the actual ceremony had been very solemn, Castle taking very seriously the fact that Kate had once told him she was a "one and done" girl. He knew that the vows she was taking were a lifetime commitment and he wanted her to know he was doing the same.

The reception had been anything but solemn. It had been several hours of dancing, laughing, eating and drinking. Probably the biggest surprise of the evening had come when the newlyweds had caught sight of Esposito and Lanie sharing a not-so-innocent kiss in the hallway outside the ballroom. While Castle had wanted to interrupt and return a bit of the good-natured teasing they had endured during the early stages of their courtship, Kate had refused to allow him, insisting that there would be plenty of time for teasing once they returned from their honeymoon.

Kate trailed her lips from Castle's shoulder up to his ear.

"Are you going to tell me yet where we're spending our honeymoon?"

Castle couldn't help but smile. It hadn't been easy, but he had managed to keep their destination a secret. Even when they'd made their way to the suite after the reception the night before, he'd managed to withhold the information from her, finally distracting her from her interrogation by convincing her that he wanted to make love to his new wife.

"I should probably hold out," he teased as her lips moved along his jawline. "But I think it's safe to tell you now."

Kate stopped her ministrations and lifted her gaze to his, arching an eyebrow in silent question.

"I have a friend who has a place on St. Thomas Island in the Virgin Islands," he told her. "He's loaning it to us for the week."

Kate was surprised. While she had always wanted to visit St. Thomas, knowing it was where her parents had spent their tenth wedding anniversary, she had figured Castle for something a little more extravagant.

Castle watched the play of emotions on her face, trying to decide if he'd made a miscalculation.

"Should I call and make other arrangements?" he finally asked.

Kate shook her head as a smile slowly spread across her face.

"It's perfect," she assured him.

"Are you sure?"


With that, she shifted until she was lying atop him, her lips easily finding his.

"I love you," she said when they finally broke apart.

"I love you, too."

No further words were needed as they lost themselves in each other, celebrating their new life together and looking forward to both the blessings and challenges they were sure to face in the upcoming years.

Again, thank you to everyone who has read this story. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. Now if you would be so kind as to leave a review, it would make my day.