A/N: Oh, dearie me. Epic chapter is epic. This ended up being longer than the last, and I thought about splitting it up, but ultimately decided against it. Please assume, for the purposes of this chapter, that Eduardo the Doorman occasionally earns his keep: After all, Castle is a moderately famous individual living in a very posh loft. What, if not Eduardo, is to keep random lunatics like myself from wandering in off the streets of New York and interrupting sexy times?

Thanks to all you lovely people who have read and reviewed. This whole thing got so unexpectedly epic that I have often despaired, but the feedback keeps me going.

Esposito checked his cell for the fifteenth time in as many minutes. The edge of the phone was almost hot enough to burn his fingers, but it stubbornly refused to show any word from Ryan or any of the half dozen people who owed him favors. He'd called them all in over the last 45 minutes: He either wanted to know the coast was clear or have more than a red flag to wave under the Captain's nose.

He ducked his head out as the the elevator doors slid open. The bullpen was curiously empty. He might've dodged the Gates bullet for the moment. He checked the cell one more time for good measure.

He turned in a half circle between his own desk and Ryan's as though he expected his partner to materialize. Johnson approached with an armload of file folders. Esposito gave him a nod and a raised eyebrow. Johnson shook his head urgently and made a slight gesture toward the Captain's door with his elbow.

"Beckett?" Esposito mouthed.

Johnson shook his head again and kept walking.

Normally, Esposito would have liked the hush that had fallen over the usually busy bank of desks that made up their little corner of the twelfth. At the moment, though, his mind was running with some ugly thoughts. He'd have welcomed any distraction.

Almost any. He cast an unsettled glance over his shoulder. Montgomery had seldom bothered to close his door and even less frequently drew the blinds. Gates was big on boundaries and the bullpen had lost a good chunk of daylight to her need for privacy.

Esposito gave a fleeting thought to barging in and at least riding out whatever fun and games the Captain had in store alongside his partner. He thought better of it, though. She might get whatever was up her ass this time all out of her system and not completely lose it when she heard Esposito's news. Sorry, bro. Not a saint.

He slid behind his desk and punched the speaker on his desk phone. The steady dial tone and a quick scan of his inbox turned up nothing of interest. He clicked over to the web browser and opened a new tab. His hands hovered over the keyboard.

Joe Cavanagh was such a low life that Randall Barnes funneled him the kind of work he had no stomach for. He was also an idiot. A tight-lipped idiot at first, but once Esposito had persuaded him to start talking, Cavanagh had a lot to say. None of it good.

Esposito would have liked to call bullshit on the whole thing, but he had a bad feeling. Everything about this case gave him a bad feeling. And now it was hitting too close to home. He grit his teeth and took his frustration out on his keyboard, punching in search terms one angry letter at a time. Half a dozen hits later, Cavanagh's story still held water.

He quit the browser and spun in his chair to face the murder board. Other than a couple new names that didn't mean much to him, there was't a lot there, either. He really didn't want to start adding these kinds of details without taking it to the team—preferably without Gates—first.

But with Ryan in the hot seat and the radio silence from Beckett and his other leads, he was out of options for procrastination. He pushed to his feet and made his way over to the board itself. He took a marker in each hand and killed some time debating the relative merits of black and green.

"You'd tell me if I was dead, right?"

Esposito spun around to face a decidedly pale Ryan.

"Whoa. Scared the hell out of me!"

Ryan sank on to the edge of Beckett's desk, then popped back up again. He was clutching a tattered plain manila file folder. His eyes darted from the folder to the murder board and back to Gates's office. "We have to get out of here, Esposito."

"Ok, you're freakin' me out now." Esposito followed his partner's gaze around and around the bullpen. He snatched at the folder. "What's that? What'd Gates want?"

"Can't tell you here," Ryan said urgently. He clutched the folder to his chest and used his other hand to grab one marker, then the other from Esposito. "Don't touch the board right now."

"The hell, man?"

"We have to go!" Ryan was trying to keep his voice calm and failing spectacularly. He set the markers down on the ledge below the murder board with great care and deliberation.

"Ok, ok." Esposito realized that one of them needed to stay cool. As usual, Ryan was disqualified. "Got some things I'd rather not talk about here, either. Where to?"

"Beckett." It wasn't quite a statement, wasn't quite a question.

"Yeah, man. We'll get Beckett in a minute." He laid a hand on Ryan's shoulder and maneuvered him toward the elevators. He glanced over his shoulder, but the door to the dark square of their Captain's office. "What'd she do to you, bro?"

Ryan swallowed hard. "This is big. And not good."

Beckett had definitely reached her Angry Birds limit. She slid the phone into her pocket and slumped back in the molded plastic chair. The cafeteria was depressing as hell, and the coffee was truly a crime, but she needed to be reachable in case Ryan or Esposito came up with anything, and she wasn't about to violate the cell phone policy and give the hospital staff any more ammunition in their fight to keep her away from Edith Carter.

Her thoughts darted from Raymond Sanders to the fake address in Orangeburg to however the hell Barnes fit into the whole picture. And who the hell is Audra Winnert traveling with. Her fingernail caught in a long scar in the chipped formica table and broke off.

Nibbling at the nail's jagged edge, she pulled her phone back out with an irritated hiss. She hated taking notes on anything but the murder board, but she needed something to do with her hands. Castle had taken the notepad, of course. His notepad, she thought, chewing on the inside of her lip to hold back a smile.

She thought about making a run to the car for her pocket notebook and quickly rejected the idea. Her skin still prickled unpleasantly with drying sweat from her journey into the dark, oppressive parking garage with Winnert's "people."

With a resigned sigh, she started tapping away to get the details of her conversation with Ryan down. The slow, clumsy process wasn't helped by the fact that her eyes kept skating from the screen to the cafeteria entrance. Ridiculous. It hasn't even been 20 minutes.

It wasn't that a handful of kisses and a quick trip to second base in the front seat of her cruiser had turned her into some pathetically needy creature. She just . . . missed him. Missed the way the four of them could divide and conquer and get things done.

For what felt like the hundredth time in two days, she silently cursed Gates for breaking up her team. They should be hunkered around the board, tossing theories back and forth. Sharing a corner of her desk. "Accidentally" brushing up against each other. Slipping away to find some decently isolated spot . . .

Whoa. WHOA! The phone clattered to the table. The warm, fuzzy tide of make-out afterglow bled away, and the tide of dread, panic, and Oh my god, this will ruin everything rolled in. She dropped her head into her hands and focused on breathing.

The truth descended on her: She couldn't do this. That's all there was to it. She had a job to do. So did he. And this . . . this would obviously ruin everything. She could not do this. She would just have to tell him that she couldn't do this and things would go back to the way they had always been, and . . .

The rubber feet on the chair across from her dragged across the tile with a forlorn honk as Castle slid into it. She startled violently enough to send her own chair pitching backward. One of his hands snaked out and caught her wrist. The other fumbled a paper coffee cup on to the table with a slosh.

"Castle!" The momentum jerked her forward and righted the chair. She snatched her arm back.

"Beckett, listen! Oh, you're not drinking that vile cafeteria stuff, are you? Here: This is from one of the nurse's private stash. You can drink it on the way. We need to . . ." his voice dropped and he scanned the room. "Not here. We need to . . ."

He suddenly trailed off as her body language registered: Shoulders hunched forward, elbows in, fists stuffed into her own armpits. She was looking at his hand on the table like it was a snake, and she most definitely wasn't looking him in the eye.

"Oh my God," he said loudly as he twitched the cup out of her range. "No coffee for you. You're panicking. Why are you panicking?"

"Castle!" she hissed again. Her eyes darted right and left, but no one seemed to notice that he was practically yelling about their relationship in public. (Wait . . . relationship? Oh, God. Were they in a relationship? They couldn't be in a relationship!)

"What?" he hissed back.

"It won't work," she blurted. "This."

"This." He gave her a blank look. "Us?"

She stared down at the formica. She didn't want to do this here. She didn't want to do this anywhere, but better to rip off the band-aid all at once. She swallowed hard and nodded to the scarred table top.

Silence stretched out. When she couldn't stand it any more, she raised her eyes. He was smiling at her.

"Castle." She could hear the desperation in her own voice, but plowed on. "Did you hear me?"

His smile widened just a fraction. "I heard you."

"Then why are you smiling?" Her volume kept notching up without her permission. Was he relieved? Oh god, if he was relieve she was going to kill him.

"Because . . ." he drew the word out specifically to drive her crazy. "Because you're wrong."

"I'm wrong," she repeated flatly.

"Wrong," he said again. He leaned across the table. "And you know how I love proving you wrong, Detective."

She slapped her palms on the table. "Castle, I'm serious."

"Me too." His smile turned from lazy to sincere in time that it took for her heart to bang clumsily against her ribs. He reached for her hand and turned it palm up on the table. He held it for a beat, then let go, trailing his fingers along hers as he drew his own hand back. "It'll work, Kate."

"Rick, I . . ." She looked at him helplessly.

He studied her a minute. "Did you ever wonder why I made Nikki Heat a Theater major?"

Beckett blinked. One of them seemed to be losing it. Judging by his calm, conversational tone, he seemed to think it was her.

"Technically, she was an English major, but she was about to switch to theater when she . . ." He reached out again and pressed his palm to hers briefly. "When her mother was murdered."

"Castle, I'm trying to tell you . . ."

"And I'm trying to make a point," he interrupted.

"Fine." She crossed her arms again. Aggravation was creeping in to replace the panic. It was oddly soothing. "Make your point. Or try."

"You would've been a hell of an actress. And not just because of . . ." He made a series of gestures in the air, gulped, and made several attempts to resume speaking before his voice came out as something more than a squeak. ". . . the obvious."

"The obvious," she repeated. Now amusement was joining aggravation.

"You're hot, Kate. And ridiculously tall. And hot." He'd had a point but he'd temporarily misplaced it in a flood of images.

"So you made my alter ego a Theater major because I'm hot. This is a really compelling argument, Castle." She said it with a smirk, but he could hear the panic seeping back in.

"Kate." His serious tone made her go still. She peered up at him through her lashes.

He held her gaze for a moment, then went on quietly. "Everyday I watch you. You do this amazing thing. You take little bits of real life and you stitch them into your work. Your mother . . . your dad's drinking. Funny things. Sad things. You put on these personas. And you make people believe."

A blush made its way from the angle of her jaw to the tips of her ears and she looked down at her hands. He ducked his head to follow. "When you're kicking ass in an interrogation or trying to bring a little comfort to a victim's family. Hell, even when you're trying to sweet talk information or a favor out of another department. You tell them these little bits of truth and you make them believe the whole thing. It's part of what makes you great at your job."

"So you're saying I'm a complete phony and that's why this won't be a disaster?"

"Kate, think about what we just did . . ." He chuckled as her chin snapped up and her eyes went wide. "No, not that. Well, ok, if you need a minute to think about that, who am I to deny you?"

"Castle!" She gave a shaky laugh.

"I mean just now. With Winnert's meatheads. We used it. You used it . . this. . . ." He slid his fingers in between hers and held on this time. "And we kicked ass. I know this is going to work, because it already works. It's always worked."

Beckett was quiet long enough to make him nervous.

"It may not work in the long run," she said slowly. Just when his heart was about to go into free fall, she turned a sly smile on him. "We may not have room for two drama queens."

"I'm sure you and Esposito will work it out," he deadpanned.

Her phone buzzed as if on cue.

"Speak of the devil?" Castle raised an eyebrow.

"No." She frowned down at the screen. "A text from Ryan. 'Need to meet right away. Not at the 12'."

"Right. Let's go." Castle scraped his chair back and made his way around the table. He hauled her to her feet and pressed the coffee into her hand as he made a beeline for the door with her in tow.

"Castle!" She swatted his hand away and skidded to a stop. "I'm calling Ryan . . ."

"No time." He pulled at her elbow. "Text him back and have him meet us at the loft. Esposito, too. There's a lot to go over."

She rounded on him with a stricken expression. "Jesus, Castle, what happened with Edith Carter. What did she say?"

"Not here." He shook his head urgently. "Seriously, Beckett. Not here."

She wanted to plant her feet and make him tell her, but something in his face told her this wasn't just his cloak-and-dagger streak at work. "Why the loft?" She said finally.

"My mother's there," he explained. "We might need a crazy person."

"Girl, you don't even have a body right now. You said you were bored." Esposito bumped the call to speaker and pulled out into traffic.

"Yeah, I don't know if you know this, Detective, but New York averages about two homicides a day. Add in the bodies that fall under ME jurisdiction and the fact that people get stabby when it's this hot . . . "

"C'mon, Lanie. We're gettin' the band back together."

"Can't do it, Javi. I've got 2 hours left on my shift and I'm not going to owe Perlmutter a favor again."

"Last one wasn't so bad, was it? You looked pretty cute on his arm." Esposito grinned sideways at Ryan, but his partner was staring blankly out the window.

"I'm hanging up now." Lanie didn't sound like she appreciated his humor any more than Ryan did.

"Lanie, wait!" Ryan leaned toward's Esposito's phone and hesitated. He fiddled uncomfortably with the file folder in his lap. "I really think we're gonna need you for this."

"Then tell me what 'this' is all about."

Ryan shook his head, apparently oblivious to the fact that Lanie couldn't see him.

"Says he doesn't want to go over it more than once," Esposito supplied. "Hasn't even told me anything yet. But, Lanie, listen . . . this case is getting heavy."

"You're really selling it, boys," Lanie sighed.

Esposito shot another look at Ryan, who'd gone back to staring out the window. No help at all.

"C'mon. Paperwork'll still be there. They can page you if they catch a body," he paused and tried to gauge how much convincing she really needed. "Besides, don't you want to congratulate the happy couple?"

"Beckett 'fessed up?" Even on speaker, Lanie's shout was ear splitting. "Or did Castle talk? Beckett is gonna kill that man if he's been telling tales."

"Haven't seen Castle." Esposito chuckled. "But he's obviously been telling tales to someone. Thanks for the confirmation."

"Oh, you think you're good, don't you?" Lanie fumed.

"You know I'm good, woman."

"I'm sitting right here." Ryan made a face.

"And I'm sittin' there every day when you and Jenny have your mid-morning phone cuddle. Cry me a river, Honeymilk," Esposito shot back. "So you coming or what, Lanie?"

She heaved a sigh that crackled the phone's speaker. "Fine. I'll be there in half an hour. But only so you two don't screw this up and send Beckett running. You—both of you—will be cool about this."

"Hey," Esposito said in an offended tone. "We're cool. Cool is our middle name."

"No baby, that's fool." Lanie hung up.

Beckett was not happy. Castle had refused—positively refused—to tell her anything about his conversation with Edith Carter on the way from the hospital to his loft. And now something was going on between him and Martha. She wasn't sure exactly what was going on, but she knew she didn't like it.

"Here are you, dear. I'm so sorry it isn't just the way you like it. I was sure we had vanilla syrup somewhere." Martha set down the mug on the end table with a flourish and perched on the couch next to Kate.

Right next to her. Kate shot her a weak smile and sipped the coffee. "It's fine. Thanks, Martha."

Apparently his mother was too close for Castle's comfort, too. He materialized at Martha's elbow and hauled her up from the couch, none too gently. "Mother. Beckett and I have a couple of things we need to hammer out before the others get here. Can you . . . just be elsewhere? We'll call you when we're ready for you."

"Richard, I'm happy to give you some time together," she said with a knowing smile. She peeled his fingers from her forearm. "There's no need for violence. I'll just be upstairs."

"Thank you," Castle sighed with relief.

Martha paused at the bottom of the stairs with one hand on the bannister, "You know, Kate, my room is quite at the other end of the place. For such an open space, the privacy . . . well, it's just one of the best things about this loft."

Premature relief. Castle cringed and braced himself for Beckett's reaction.

"Castle . . . ." There was a warning in her tone, but also more than a little amusement.

"I didn't say anything. She just . . . ." He made a desperate gesture. "And she . . . I didn't say anything!"

"Relax." She dropped her head back against the couch. "It's not the first time she's dropped 'subtle' hints. Let her think what she wants to think. We just won't . . . confirm or deny right now."

"Right now?" He was trying to be good but now implied a later. And the couch was really just a stone's throw from the office. And from there, it was just a couple steps . . .

"Yeah," she said softly. "I'm not . . . like you said: We will talk about it. Just not right now. This case. . . . Everything's too complicated to bring everyone else into this."

"The case is too complicated," he said as he nudged her foot with his own.

She gave him a small smile back. "Right. So we just don't . . . confirm or deny."

Castle blanched. He opened his mouth and closed it again. He really needed to warn her about Lanie. He backed a few steps away, realized that nowhere was safe, and lowered himself into an arm chair as he considered possible opening lines. As a writer, he should probably make the last conversation he had on this earth a good one.

The buzzing of Beckett's phone granted him a momentary reprieve. "Ryan again. ETA 15 minutes. Lanie should be right behind them."

"Lanie!" Castle shot out of the chair. "Why is Lanie coming?"

"No idea. Something about whatever Gates gave Ryan," she said slowly. Her eyes narrowed. "Why? Is that a problem?"

"No!" He paced behind the couch. "Why would that be a problem? I love Lanie . . . like Lanie! We're friends!"

"Castle." Beckett's voice took on the deadly calm tone that struck fear into the hearts of suspects and would-be boyfriends alike. "You didn't . . . Lanie? Of all people. Lanie?"

"She took advantage of me!" He planted his hands on the console table, ready to run. Where, he had no idea.

Beckett stood slowly. "What—exactly—did you tell her?"

"Not . . . She thought we'd slept together," he said desperately. "I had to set her straight, right? Right? And anyway, you spilled to Esposito."

"I did not spill to Esposito!"

"Well you did something. Why else would he have made that crack about you drawing hearts around my initials?" He stopped abruptly and couldn't quite bite back a goofy smile. "You weren't actually drawing hearts . . ."

Her glare shut him down instantly.

"Castle, this is . . ." She rubbed her temples.

"I know," he snapped. Then, more softly. "I know. Kate, I didn't mean to. I don't want to push you or . . . or violate your privacy . . . or . . . I feel like an idiot, but I just can't . . . I'm just . . ."

"Happier?" She was studying the floor intently.

"Yeah," he breathed. He risked a look at her. "Are you . . . you are. Right?"

She raised her eyes a fraction. "Yeah."

She'd only been a few steps away to begin with, but Castle was still trying to figure out how she'd gotten her hands on him so quickly. For a second anyway. Then he was busy trying to figure out how to keep them there indefinitely. Also trying to remember how to stand up.

She solved the latter problem by backing them all the way across the living room and up against the breakfast bar. He made a noise against her jaw that might have been a protest. She had them moving away from the bedroom. That particular concern died at the exact moment she raised up on her toes and dug both hands beneath his shirt collar.

A button went flying. Her fingertips seemed to have a mind of their own. They were finding all sorts of exquisitely sensitive expanses of skin in the hollows just behind his collar bones. A nagging, really irritating part of her mind was trying to remind her of something to do with time or math. But then his hands were on board with this new junior explorer program and she wasn't thinking about anything.

He pushed off and wound an arm around her waist. He broke from the kiss to twist them around so she was backed up against the bar. His hand caught in her hair, and his thumb came to rest against her cheekbone. He looked down at her, breathless.

Beckett's eyes widened. He'd gone from zero to deliciously, irresistibly disheveled in . . . Shit. How long had it been. Suddenly her fingers weren't exploring: They were clutching.

"OW!" He flinched back.

"Castle! They'll be here any second. Look at you!"

"Me?" He gestured at her wrinkled, untucked shirt.

"You!" She grabbed the placket of his shirt, which was flapping open to the fourth button and slightly . . . wet in suspiciously mouth-shaped patches. "Go . . . go change your damned shirt! I need a bathroom."

Castle stepped back and held out a hand toward the office. She gave him a withering look. "What? The others are upstairs. You'd rather run into my mother?"

The intercom buzzed. Beckett gave him another look. This one said I'll kill you later.

"You're fine. Fine-ish," he said hastily as he reached for the phone. "Eduardo, yeah . . . you can let them up. And one more should be on her way—Dr. Parish. You can let her up, too, when she gets here."

He slapped the phone back into its base and took her by the shoulders. "Mirror in the hall. Tuck your shirt in. Try to find my button before someone else does."

He took two steps toward the office, turned back, and planted one last kiss on her. Her fierce growl was undermined just slightly by the smile she couldn't quite hold back.

The smile took a hit as she caught her reflection in the mirror. The color was high in her cheeks, but they looked positively pale in comparison to the cherry red mark blooming where her neck dipped to meet her right shoulder. She did up another button on her shirt and tugged on the collar to cover as best she could.

The sound of voices in the hallway told her she was out of time. She fluffed her hair out around her face and shoved the tail of her shirt into her pants. She had time for one more deep breath before they were knocking on the door.

"Yo," Esposito gave her an odd look as he stepped through the doorway. Beckett stared back. If he'd been about to say something, he thought better of it.

Ryan stepped around the two of them. "Where's Castle?"

"Uhh . . ." Beckett cast a desperate look over her shoulder.

"Just getting my notes." Castle emerged from the office looking approximately hundred times calmer than she did. She didn't know whether to hate him for it or be grateful.

"We should wait for Lanie," Ryan said as he moved into the living room.

"No, man," Esposito grumbled as he followed. He dropped into an arm chair to Ryan's left. "Tired off all this crap on the down low. We'll catch her up."

Castle took the other arm chair. He looked thoughtfully at Ryan, who couldn't seem to get comfortable on the couch. He kept setting a file folder down, then picking it back up again. "Ryan, why'd you want Lanie in on this?"

Ryan looked desperately around the room. Something inside him snapped and words came tumbling out. "It's just . . . Gates just laid this on me. You two . . . you two just left me there, and she hands me this folder. And it's all like . . . between the lines. She's all 'I trust you and your team to handle this information discreetly.' Has she met us?"

The other three exchanged looks that were half alarmed, half amused. Esposito shrugged and made a small gesture in Beckett's direction.

She shot a sour look back at Esposito as she took a seat next to Ryan. "Ok, ok. We will handle it. Whatever it is."

"The file is about the hospital," Castle said suddenly. "Nos restituo. 'We restore'—the mental hospital that Raymond Sanders ran. You don't shut a place like that down over night. It must've been under investigation for years."

"But why would Gates have the file?" Beckett plucked the folder from Ryan's hands. She turned it over, but both front and back were absolutely blank. "Orangeburg is way out of NYPD jurisdiction. And this doesn't look official."

"That's the point, isn't it?" Esposito leaned back in the arm chair. "Gates wasn't just NYPD Internal Affairs. Used to be on a state-wide corruption task force."

"How'd you know that?" Ryan looked simultaneously relieved and annoyed at being scooped.

"Joe Cavanagh. Low-level scumbag for an operation the task force was investigating right before it got shut down."

"What kind of operation?" Beckett asked sharply.

"Someone was funneling cops from one system to another." Esposito's face was grim. "Dirty cops. Bad cops. Somebody was getting them out before they came up on charges and arranging transfers to small-time operations like Westchester, Orangeburg."

"Less scrutiny." Castle nodded. "But what does this have to do with Raymond Sanders and the hospital?"

"That's why I wanted Lanie here," Ryan broke in. "The cases in this file are a real mixed bag, but they all have one thing in common: A mentally ill victim or perpetrator."

Beckett chewed her lip as she flipped through the file. "They're all Kendra's Law cases," she murmured, "but almost none of them went anywhere."

"Kendra's Law?" Castle looked from Esposito to Ryan.

"Goes back to 1999. Two people got thrown in front of subway trains, both of them by guys with serious mental illnesses who were out of treatment," Ryan explained. "Law lets a judge make treatment mandatory."

"Mandatory," Castle repeated. "And what happens if they don't comply?"

"Then they get to enjoy the hospitality of the local authorities for up to 72 hours," Esposito said.

"And then what?" Castle uncapped a pen.

"Depends." Ryan gestured to the file. "Lot of people in there ended up involuntarily committed."

"This doesn't make any sense." Beckett tapped the edge of the folder against her fingers. "Kendra's law cases are usually people who are invisible . . . homeless people, addicts who are self-medicating. Sanders and that law firm were catering to people at the completely opposite end of the spectrum."

"Lot people who don't like the law say it's just an excuse. Makes it easier to get rid of inconvenient people," Esposito shrugged.

"1999 you said?" Castle asked

Ryan nodded.

"Castle?" Beckett watched him scrawl furiously in the margin of one of the notepad's fuller pages. She loved this part. The way the story came together. "You're thinking that's what happened to Philip Grayson . . ."

"Oh, definitely," he said absently. He made a frustrated noise as he ran out of room on the page. "His arrest is in 2001. . ."

Esposito shook his head. "Law only applies to violent cases. Harm to self or others."

"Self harm." Castle sounded absolutely confident. "Young, gay man. Abusive father. I'd bet anything he tried to kill himself right after that arrest."

"Yeah, but he was a minor at the time. Charles Grace was pretty free to have him involuntarily committed anyway," Beckett argued.

"But Grace was laying the groundwork for when Chase wasn't a minor. Man like that isn't about to give up control on a technicality. So he has his son committed—not just anywhere, but somewhere he could count on to keep his son under wraps, no matter what. I'm guessing that's where he met her."

Beckett looked at him blankly for a moment, but his attention was back to the notepad. He'd started a fresh page. "Audra? I guess we never really got a good idea of which of the rumors about her past were true . . ."

"Not Audra, Claire." He held up his free hand while he finished whatever he was writing. He looked up to find three pissed off cops staring at him. "Oh, Claire Winnert's alive. That's who Audra's traveling with. Didn't I say that?"