This was conceived as an extra chapter for Around My Heart, but I let it go and have decided to post it now as its own separate piece. Rated M.

Floret silva nobilis

Eia, quis me amabit?...

Who will love me?

Mid-case, no leads. All three legit suspects have airtight alibis. Not the kind that magically break open. The kind with thirty or so reliable corroborating witnesses. So, no dice. She hates it when cases run cold. But she has no idea where to go with this one.

When she finally gets home around midnight, she drops her bag on the table, strips off her clothes, and runs a hot bath. Stepping away from the case allows her mind time to re-format, remove any assumptions, and lets her approach everything with a keener eye. Kate knows she sometimes gets tunnel vision after she's been staring at the murderboard for too long.

She sinks into the tub and leans back with a sigh. Candles, soft music and a glass of wine. She doesn't feel like reading right now. She just wants to soak under a blanket of foamy, fragrant white bubbles.

Her mind whirls easily in a dozen different directions and she doesn't bother to control or focus it. She can feel her exhaustion finally unfolding, her body relaxed, her eyes shut, the tension draining from her shoulders. She feels better. A good night's sleep will set her on the right track.

She loses track of time after a while, having no intention of getting out until she's wrinkly and clean and utterly relaxed.

"Enjoying your bath?"

She swallows, doesn't open her eyes. She doesn't have to. She knows who it is. She knows his voice.

"Why – why are you here?"

"Because you want me to be."

She finally opens her eyes, looks up to find him standing in the doorway, the candlelight washing over him with flickering shadows, delicate patterns dancing over his face. She swallows, idly wondering how much he can see through the bubbles. "Pretty sure of yourself, Castle."

"We both know I'm right."

He grins, coming to kneel beside the tub, sinking till they're at eye level with each other. He slides a hand up her arm. Her breath catch at the warm, soft, intimate touch, as his fingertips pause at her shoulder. He shouldn't be doing this. She shouldn't want him to do more. She really shouldn't.

"You work hard, Kate. You should relax more."

She breathes, her eyes fluttering shut as his fingers trace gently over her collarbone, trailing over the dip at the base of her throat.

She feels him coming closer, his hands getting surer, more assertive, tracing shapes on her shoulders, her back.

"Open your eyes."

She obeys without thinking, and something in her chest twists, heat swirling through her veins. He's never like this. His eyes are dark, animal, hungry. His hands on her are hot, sure, searching, persuasive.

"Ohhhh…you're tense. You're all worked up, aren't you?"

"Mmmm." Her brain stops working as his fingers start tracing lower, from her shoulders towards her collarbone. She is worked up. And this isn't helping relieve anything. Quite the contrary, in fact.

"I should really help you relax."

She bites her lip as she feels his fingers skim lightly over the hollow of her throat. "Oh, really?"

He bites gently at her ear before whispering hotly into it. "Do you want me to?"

She tries to hold herself together. "As if you could."

"That's a dangerous challenge."

She smiles at the note in his voice. "Oh, I dare you."

Castle hums low in his throat, the noise warm and rich and making her shiver a little, even in the hot water. "Oh, Kate. You're going to beg me."

She holds her breath as his hands sink into the water, disappearing beneath the bubbles, and then she feels the delicate pressure of his fingers on her breasts, tracing slowly. His thumb flicks lightly over her nipple, and she sucks in a long breath. God. He's good at this. And he knows it.

"Are you begging yet?"

She swallows shakily, because she can hear the self-satisfied smirk in his voice. "No."

He presses an open-mouthed kiss to her throat, sliding his tongue slowly, wetly over the tendons, and she squirms, trying not to make any noise.

His hands trace lower, over her stomach, and she can already feel the knot in her belly tightening, heat coursing through her veins. She gasps as his fingers just barely brush the skin below her navel, slide downward. His lips ghost delicate almost-kisses on her neck as her breathing gets shallower. He slides his hand further, letting his fingers slip between her legs, and she gasps. "Oh – oh fuck Castle – "

"Just relax, Kate," he murmurs, his breath hot on her neck. "I'll take care of you."

She bites her lip, fingers curling around the rim of the tub as she lets him nudge her thighs apart, his touch so faint it's almost not there, teasing, even as his lips barely touch her skin, so feather-light the contact is almost painful in its intensity.

"Oh Castle – "

She moans, her fingers flexing weakly, her head falling back against the rim of the tub, the muscles in her legs taut, her stomach tightening, the knot of hot pleasure building low in her belly. His other hand slowly traces soft circles on her exposed shoulder, raising goosebumps on her naked skin.

She manages to take in a strangled breath.

"What do you want me to do?"

She moans. Oh God. She's so close. So very, very close.

"Tell me, Kate."

His touch pauses, his fingers pulling away; he's not going to finish her until she answers.

She draws in a shaky breath. She shouldn't. This shouldn't be happening. This is wrong on so many levels.

She can't – shouldn't –

"Castle. Get me off."

Her eyes slip shut and she lets out a long breath, not even trying to hold back the ragged, high-pitched moaning as his fingers slide back inside her, picking up a rhythm that gets steadily faster, driving her completely wild.

And then his fingers curl and he hits just the right spot, and her whole body jerks, her hips bucking, her whole body seizing up in a white-hot spasm of pleasure so overpoweringly intense she can't move, can't think, can't breathe, the orgasm hitting her so hard she cries out helplessly.

Her breathing slows, and she lets her head sink back against the rim of the tub. Because she's alone in the bathroom, and she may be relaxed, but she can't stop feeling guilty about the fact that she really, really shouldn't be imagining Castle right now.

Owi, wer sol mich minnen?

Who will love me?