Around the World Book Four
Escape to New England
. . . . .
Like he'd promised, the minute Kate had cleared a week's worth of vacation time, they packed up the Lexus and headed to Boston. Jim was more than happy to join them again and since Alexis had finished her first year at Princeton, there was never a question as to her attendance either. Even Martha had taken time out of a busy Broadway schedule to spend a few days with them.
For Kate, it was a testament to everything they'd been through.
She'd learned a lot in the past couple of months, about herself, and, more importantly about her family. It had been just her and her father for so long, and despite how close they were, there was a lot of Kate's life that neither of them wanted to talk about. No father wanted his daughter as a cop, not really. She knew her dad was proud of her, knew he'd never ask her to walk away, but it didn't make it any easier to deal with. So Kate didn't talk to her father about her work. But this time around, she hadn't had much of a choice. And she knew she was better for it.
Now she had more. Now she had an extended family. She had Rick and Alexis and Martha. Alexis had dropped everything to come spend time with them in Boston. Rick had done everything in his power to try and get her back to where she needed to be. He'd been more than integral in putting her back together again, enough to get back in the game and arrest their criminal. And there was something so special about Alexis, about how far they'd come in a year. From fighting at the Hamptons, to having exactly the right words to say, it spoke of the growth both women had gone through and Kate valued and treasured that more than Alexis probably knew. Because she knew the Castles were a package deal and no one, no one, was going to come between that.
But she'd been added to it and Kate knew it. If anything, she'd realized that while Rick and Alexis were inseparable, she'd become a key part of their everyday lives.
She'd changed too. Not completely, and not necessarily noticeably, but the fact that she was willing to ask for a week of vacation spoke to where she was in her life. She needed it, and she'd been the one to request it. It was like, in a way, she was more aware of what her body needed, what her mind needed and what her relationship needed. And sometimes, that meant her professional self had to take second fiddle to her personal one.
She still rose early, even on vacation, because she always had. So, the last sunny Sunday they had in Boston, she was, as usual, up and spread over the island counter. There was a steaming mug of coffee at her elbow and the paper spread in front of her.
She loved mornings like this.
Rick was a notoriously late sleeper, despite how much he griped about the bed being cold without her. Jim and Alexis had headed out for bagels while Martha took a page from her son – or vice versa – and enjoyed a late morning lie-in.
Still, the smile blossomed large over her face as she heard Rick padding into the kitchen. She stayed seated with her back to him, absently counting the steps until he ended up behind her. He brushed her hair away from her neck and kissed her shoulder gently.
"Good morning, Detective."
She grinned wider. He'd greeted her like that every morning since her badge had been returned and despite the fact that she'd been without her badge and title for less than a week, it still sent a thrill through her. "Good morning, Writer."
God, she was living a cliché.
Rick had already moved around the island for the coffee pot. Even he had to admit it was one of the big advantages in loving a woman who was an early riser. There was almost always coffee and breakfast ready if she decided to get up. After all, there was the odd morning she stayed curled against him instead.
"Anything exciting in today's paper?"
He took his characteristic position across the island from her, leaning on his elbows, his cup cradled between his hands.
Kate released a noncommittal noise. "Nothing to write home about," she admitted. She looked up. "My dad and your daughter are out getting breakfast."
"Ooh! From that bagel place down the street?"
She laughed, rather hard considering his statement wasn't all that funny. But he took it in, because a couple of weeks ago, he'd been sure he'd never see it again. Yet here she was, relaxed, normal, and confident in herself again.
And he knew that this was it.
He was around the island in a flash and out of the room while Kate watched surprised. He didn't often move that fast unless there was danger or entertainment involved and she turned on her stool as he raced past her
But he'd disappeared. She shook her head. It wasn't unusual. He often disappeared to just write when inspiration struck. She went back to the comics, chuckling to herself when she found something particularly funny. She heard his footsteps on the wooden floor as he came back towards her.
"Peanuts is hilarious this week," she told him, sliding the paper his way. When he didn't reply, she looked up at him. He was so serious. "What is it?"
"Remember three weeks ago, we were out on the porch at your dad's wrapped in a million blankets, talking about identities?"
Her identity crisis. As if she was going to forget that emotional upheaval any time soon. Wasn't that why she'd taken vacation time? "Of course."
He looked down at his hands, and for the first time, Kate realized they were fiddling with a little box. The sharp intake of breath was completely involuntary.
"I was hoping you'd add one more title to that list," he said quietly.
"Rick…" she breathed. Despite the fact that she'd known this would happen, there was still a big part of her that couldn't believe this was her reality.
He popped open the box. "I got it when we were up here last time," he told her softly. "I was thinking you could add 'wife' to that list. My wife."
Her hands covered her mouth as she kept staring at the diamond set between two emeralds. She didn't have to ask about the significance.
"What do you say, Kate? Will you marry me?"
She didn't stop to think. She didn't have to.
So, I know this is a good 2000 words shorter than the average chapter, but most of the things I wanted to cover were already covered. And this was really supposed to be a last injection of fluff anyway, both because we're all terrified for tonight's finale and because considering this story Kate and Rick kind of deserved it.
Now, potential bad news. Well, good news-bad news, I guess. There is a sequel. Or, the more appropriate phrase is probably 'will be'. I am going to tie both stories together since they take place simultaneously except not and it'll be a lot easier on my brain. Bad news is it won't be up for a while, both because I know the finale is likely to spark a HUGE influx of fic and, more importantly, because it's not planned in it's entirety. And because I'm actually taking on all four couples that have sprouted in this little universe, I want to make sure I can balance it all and deal with all of the issues that are going to pop up.
I'm aiming for a beginning of July post date, but it could be up as early as the end of June.
Lastly, I do want to thank everyone who took the time to leave a review. This one has been a little bit more of a roller coaster than most of the others, and I truly do appreciate the feedback I get from you guys. It means a lot to see what you guys think is believable and where you think I'm stretching the envelope just a bit. Most importantly though, thanks for reading this in the context of what's already occurred in this universe. You guys are surprisingly open to stretching the envelope with what's already been set up.
So thank you. And hopefully we're not all ready to kill the writers after tonight.