She spits "Absolutely not" out as quickly as possible, but then she hears his "not yet." She looks at him, shocked.
She knows he's attracted to her. Hell, he might even like her, in that "more than friends" way that Lanie keeps hinting at. And yet…
There's something about Rick Castle: his reputation as a playboy, perhaps, or his inability to take anything seriously. Maybe it's just how he always rises to a challenge, but she can't quite trust his intentions. Sure, he is chasing her now. Will he lose interest as soon as gives in? Or when the models and the actresses show up at his parties and ask him to sign their chests?
She knows she's playing this like it's a game, but she also knows it's real. It's more real than sparring late nights and small talk and everything else she has ever tried to incorpo9rate into a romantic relationship, but all she knows for sure is how she feels. Because, of course, he's Rick Castle. If he's known for anything it's his ability to make things up, followed by his ability to get women to fall for him. And, damn it, she will not give in, she will not be another conquest. She can't be. She may have survived such events in the past, but if he breaks her heart, it will never be the same, and she's already burdened with one scar that will never heal entirely. She's not sure she can handle another one.
But then there's one other fact: he's still here. And she thinks that maybe, just maybe, he will be for a long time. Maybe forever.
So she tests the theory. She pushes him away and prays he'll come back. She dates other men, maybe partially trying to move on, but always glancing over whatever guy's shoulder she's leaning into to see if he's waiting for her after her date lets go. She complains and pretends he's a thorn in her side, but she's always happy when he walks back in the next morning. Even if he's been with someone else, despite her jealousy, she thinks something must be different with her because she's still the one he comes back to.
Maybe it's wishful thinking, but she hopes he always will. And she thinks maybe, just maybe, if she gives him a little more time (to play, to grow up, or just to figure out he needs her), then he'll settle down and act like he's hers (because, face it, that's the only way this can end, with him as hers).
But he hasn't caught her yet, and so far, it doesn't even look like he's really tried. So far he's been content just to chase after her, and maybe that's why he said "Not yet." Because he knows (and she knows) that he's not ready to catch her just yet. He knows (and she knows) that if he tries now, both of their hearts will just end up shattered beyond recognition.
But the way he said "Not yet" suggested that he does intend to catch her, one day. And that determined glint in his eyes seems to say that he's not going to stop running after her. And once he catches her, he's not going to let go. And, though she won't tell him yet, that suits Kate just fine.
For now though, she'll let him run because she knows, ultimately, he's running after her. Until he's ready to catch her, that will be enough.
In the meantime, she's kind of enjoying being chased.