Disclaimer: All Castle characters are the property of Andrew Marlowe and ABC.
Six thirty found him back in the bathroom, finally getting ready for dinner. She was perched on the counter next to the sink, ankles hooked around his thighs, pulling him into the vee of her legs as she buttoned up his shirt, peppering his chest with light kisses all the while.
"You're very distracting, you know," he rumbled, dragging a wet comb through his hair and trying to get it to lay flat.
"Mmm, sorry," she whispered as she pushed the last button through and pressed her lips into the hollow of his throat.
He set the comb down with a sigh of frustration and shoved his hands into the back of his pants to tuck in his shirt. She stilled him with a hand on his arm when he got to the front, reaching down to push the turquoise fabric into his jeans, fastening the button, and sliding the zipper up, giving him a soft pat as she did.
He let out the breath he'd been holding and pulled her close, nuzzling against her hair and relishing her quick intake of breath as he spoke into her ear.
"How am I supposed to get ready for dinner with your father when all I want to do is rip your clothes off again and push you into that shower?"
She shivered in his arms and he drew back to look at her, taking in the flush of her cheeks and her dilated pupils.
"You make me crazy," he whispered, leaning into her for a warm kiss.
Her arms twined around his neck, one hand sliding into his hair. She laughed when he pulled back, nudging him to look in the mirror. His hair was once again standing on end.
"Come here," she said quietly, pressing on the back of his neck.
He leaned down obediently, and she reached over to squirt a bit of mousse into her hand before bringing it back to his head. He held as still as possible under her tender touch, shutting his eyes as he savored the feeling. After a moment, one hand slid down to his shoulder, the other to his cheek, and he shifted to kiss her palm.
The just watched each other for a moment, his heart thudding harder at the look of pure affection on her face. Finally, he dropped his hands to grip her waist, pulling her forward and setting her carefully on the cool tile floor.
She leaned against him for a moment, her forehead on his chest, and he felt her take a deep breath.
"You always smell so good," she murmured before turning around to rinse the remnants of the mousse from her hands.
He couldn't resist the urge to wrap his arms around her waist and draw her back into his chest, placing a tiny kiss on her temple.
"Come on," she said softly, bringing a hand up to rasp her nails gently across his freshly shaved cheek. "Dinner time."
He removed his arms from around her waist, but she took his hand as she led him out. They paused so he could slip on a pair of casual shoes, but she remained barefoot and a few inches shorter than him. He didn't mind.
Hands still joined, they made their way to the living room, just in time to hear the door buzzer. He checked the peephole and released her hand as he opened the door, grinning as he watched her throw her arms around her father.
Jim returned the embrace, smiling all the while.
"Katie-girl! How are you, sweetheart?"
"I'm good, Dad," she responded, leaning into his touch as he brushed her hair out of her eyes. "How are you?"
"Fine, fine. Sorry I was late."
"It was no problem," she said, shooting a hidden wink to Rick, who felt himself start to blush.
Letting go of his daughter, Jim turned to the writer, reaching out for a handshake. He gave the older man a firm grip and found himself pulled into a hug as well.
"Great to see you, Rick," he said as he stepped back. "How's our girl really doing?"
Kate let out of huff of annoyance, and Castle smiled, turning to look at her even as he answered her father's question.
"She's doing well, Jim, really well. It was a long week with her going back to the precinct, but she handled it like the extraordinary woman she is."
"And how have you handled it?"
"By being overprotective and driving her insane, I'm sure."
Kate reached for his hand, bringing his knuckles up to her lips.
"He's been great, Dad," she said, her eyes focused on the writer. "Better than I could have asked."
Rick gave her a soft smile, seeing out of the corner of his eye the way that Jim was watching the two of them, a nostalgic expression on his face.
"Well," he said, bringing their hands down to his side. "Shall we go see if dinner is ready? Hope you like tacos, Jim."
Mr. Beckett nodded and wrapped an arm around his daughter as the three of them made their way to the dining room where he and Kate sat down. Rick dropped a kiss to the top of her head.
"I'll be right back."
He found Alexis and Martha in the kitchen, pulling pans of chicken and beef out of the oven where they'd been kept warm. He took them and his daughter followed with a tray of various accompaniments. She set the bowls of cheese, sour cream, and salsa on the table along with the bowl of peppers, onions, and tomatoes that Kate had chopped and the plate of corn tortillas.
"Hi Mr. Beckett."
The older man returned her bright smile and pulled her over for a quick hug.
"How are you, Alexis?"
"Great! Hungry, at the moment."
"Me too, sorry for making you all wait."
"No worries. We're just glad to have you here."
Jim nodded gratefully.
"I'm glad to be here, especially after what slowed me down."
Rick was about to ask what had happened when his mother breezed in with a pitcher of something dark red.
"Ahh, hello everyone!"
Jim stood to greet her with a kiss to the back of her hand.
"Lovely to see you, Martha. What's that you've got?"
She set the pitcher down on the table, and her son leaned over to sniff it.
"Smells like sangria, Mother," he said suspiciously.
"Almost, Richard," she said, waving off the beginnings of his protest. "No, it's non-alcoholic, dear. Just sparkling grape juice and a few other things. I thought it would go well with the meal."
He caught Kate's smile of appreciation and gave his mother a nod.
"Thanks, Mom. Sounds good." He turned his attention back to the senior Beckett. "So, Jim, what was it that delayed you?"
"Oh, there was an accident on my way here. Slick roads, you know. The driver in front of me was speeding, the light turned, and he hit his brakes, but it was too late. He skidded into the intersection and slammed into another car. Since I saw it happen, I stopped to check on the people in the cars and give the police my statement."
Rick noticed that Kate had gone white during the story and he reached over to squeeze her knee comfortingly.
"Everybody okay?" he asked.
"Amazingly enough, the worst injured just had some bumps and bruises," Jim answered. "All in all though, they were very lucky. And I drove much more carefully the rest of the way here."
Kate reached over to grasp her father's hand, and Castle could tell by her expression that she was expressing her silent gratitude that he was here with them. After a moment of quiet around the table, Martha broke in to relieve the somber tension.
"Well, kids, I say we dig in to this delicious looking meal!"
The conversation flowed easily as they passed the food around and began to eat. That was one of the things that Rick had noticed early on when Jim had begun spending time at the loft. Neither he nor his daughter were put off by the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the Castle-Rodgers clan. They contributed to the laughter, engaging with the other three and of course, with each other.
The Becketts just fit, it seemed to him, quite well into their unconventional little family.
He thought back to a day a couple months ago, before she'd been released from the hospital.
He'd gone to bring back some lunch and returned to find the door to her room not quite latched. About to step inside, he paused when he heard Jim Beckett's voice drifting through the crack.
"That boy's going to marry you someday, Katie."
"You think so, Dad?" she'd asked, and he thought her voice sounded a little hopeful.
He'd stood there a minute longer, his heart pounding so hard it felt like it might burst from his chest. Waiting until they'd moved to a different topic, he'd leaned into the room, knocking on the door frame. She'd given him a thousand megawatt smile when she saw him, and Jim had just watched him as only a father could.
"Hey, you okay?"
Her voice and hand on his thigh pulled him from his thoughts.
"Never better," he said quietly, threading his fingers through hers.
"Where'd you go?" she whispered, her words meant only for his ears as the conversation continued between Jim, Martha, and Alexis.
"Just thinking through a scene," he said with a shrug.
"Nikki and Rook's next adventure?" she asked with a knowing quirk of her eyebrows.
"Something like that."
Author's note: Can you believe that in thirteen chapters, I've really only covered about twenty-four hours? With this installment, "A Lucky Man" is complete. Is it odd that a story with the word 'luck' in its title would have thirteen chapters? I didn't plan that, really. Thank you all for reading and reviewing. I'll recharge my fluff stores and see if I can't come up with something new before too long.