NOTE: this has been moved from what was originally "On the Whistler Slopes". If you read it there, please skip to the seriously important author's note at the end of the chapter. Thanks!


California Dreaming

Chapter 17


Young Alexis Castle wasn't the only one presented to the upper crust of New York society at last night's International Debutante's Ball. Her father, famous author Richard Castle, brought with him Detective Kate Beckett, the well-known inspiration behind his latest string of best sellers. The real-life Nikki Heat seemed perfectly at home with the Castle family and even posed with both Castles and Martha Rogers, the Castle matriarch. Though they declined to comment, Paula Haas, agent for the writer, confirmed in a phone call that the two have been dating for almost six months. It seems like the picture of the two canoodling in LAX all those months ago is true after all!

Kate sighed softly as she picked up her cup of coffee from the breakfast bar of Rick's loft. The rest of the house was silent, a lazy Saturday morning after a late night, but Kate had never been one to sleep in. Not in the true sense of the phrase. She had pulled herself out of bed at eight instead of her usual seven, but it meant that now, at ten AM, with no one around, she'd made it the whole way through the paper. Usually, she avoided the society pages, but not only had she run out of paper to read, but she was looking for a picture of Alexis at the previous night's ball. Her eyes had naturally been drawn to the article attached.

Honestly, she was still torn about the publicity. She'd known that the press would be at the ball last night, because it was such a big deal for people who spent their lives spread on Page Six. She'd gone in with open eyes, but it was still extremely disconcerting to think that people wanted to know so much about her and her life with Rick. They had their own lives, their own romances. What on earth was so incredibly special about her?

"Good morning, Sweetheart."

Kate smiled, setting down the paper as his arms slid around her waist, his shoulders pressing against hers. His hands splayed across her stomach and she dropped one to tangle with his as she leaned into him.

"Good morning," she murmured. "I figured you'd sleep for another couple of hours."

"The bed was too cold without you," he replied pressing a kiss to her hair. "Fresh coffee?"

She hummed the affirmative and he kissed her head again before wandering towards the coffee maker. She watched him pad around the kitchen, affection in her gaze. Rick came back to the breakfast bar, setting his coffee mug beside her as he leaned over the surface.

"Anyone die?"

She chuckled softly as she almost always did at his Rick Castle way of asking if she'd read anything interesting in the news. "We have our first public family portrait," she answered, turning the paper to face him.

Rick looked down at the paper, a fond smile flitting over his face. His fingers slid down the edge of a picture of Alexis, looking so much older than her seventeen years before coming to rest on the corner of the 'family portrait'. "We should frame it." Then he looked up at her, his question obvious as his eyebrow went up.

"I'm okay," she said quietly. "It's a picture at an event, not following me grocery shopping."

"But," he prompted.

Kate's lips turned up at the corners. "It's still surreal." It still makes me uncomfortable. She didn't have to say the last part.

Rick came around the bar, his hand sliding down her arm in concern. "But you're okay?"

She chuckled slightly. Things were different now than they'd been after California. Any 'dates' in the last six months had been casual, low-key. Their fancy nights had been dine-ins, sometimes takeout, sometimes home-cooked. Kate was much more secure in the relationship now that she had been before. It wasn't as new and shiny as it had been when the media vultures had gotten their hands on the LAX kiss.

She reached out for Rick's hand, tugging him closer. Her head tilted back in invitation. "We're okay," she answered, just before their lips met. "I'm terrified, I'm afraid our nice quiet life is about to be completely upended, but we're okay."

He smiled at her, eyes soft as he kissed her again, tasting the coffee lingering on her tongue. "Does this mean I can take you out to an obscenely expensive restaurant now?" he murmured against her mouth.

Kate wrinkled her nose slightly. "They always have tiny portions. I'm a cop, not a butterfly."

He laughed heartily, pressing a kiss to her temple. His Kate wasn't one for expensive things most of the time. She had her vices, just like every woman did, but expensive restaurants most certainly wasn't one of them. He was kind of thankful and relieved that she hadn't immediately agreed on it. As much as he wanted to show her off to the rest of the world, to brag that a woman as magnificent as Katherine Beckett wanted him, he enjoyed having her all to himself. For the first time, he preferred his relationship without the added pressure of the press watching. He shook his head slightly.

"What?" she asked, running her fingers through the hair at his temple.

"You've mellowed me, Detective."

"Ugh, do you two have to be this sweet so early in the morning?" Alexis grumbled as she padded sleepily into the kitchen.

"It's ten, Alexis," Kate replied as she wrapped the redhead in a good morning hug. It had become their ritual since Kate had started spending the night.

"But I just woke up," Alexis reasoned, letting go of Kate to hug her father. "It's still early morning after a late night."

Rick chuckled as he kissed the top of his daughter's head. "Good morning, Sweetie."

"Morning Dad." She pulled back. "Can we go to Sarabeth's and have brunch?"

He looked to Kate who smiled her approval. Then he looked down at Alexis. "Half an hour?"

His daughter's head cocked to the side slightly as she mentally filed through the things she needed to do. "Better make it forty-five minutes. I told Ashley I'd call her this morning, recount my night." There was a pause. "Plus, I know how long you take to get pretty, Dad."

Kate bit her cheek against her laughter as Rick sputtered. Alexis laughed as she skipped up the stairs. The detective shook her head, then downed the rest of her coffee. She reached out for Rick's hand.

Her smile was coy, secretive, as she made sure to tug him close enough to rub her body against his "Come on, Big Rick," she said, voice low and persuasive, eyes dark. "I'll even let you wash my back."

Rick followed her eagerly.

April 19/10 -- Okay, before I get slightly irritated reviews, there's going to be some changes in this universe, and for the changes to make sense, I needed to put this here instead of the beginning of the sequel (as it was before). The original sequel was going to take place in Whistler, but... it's not. It's going to involve a trip since that's kind of the theme I'm working on for this series, but it's no longer going to be a ski trip in Whistler. Maybe later. For now, we're going to Miami for a film premiere and some interesting flashback's into Kate's old friends. I'm going to try and get up the first chapter of that in the next couple of days.

My point is this... no more On the Whistler Slopes right now. The sequel will probably be called Miami Heat instead.