For SexySheep, who never fails to make me laugh.


Sometimes she likes to make him beg.

Maybe it's wrong, maybe it's cruel, maybe it's even a little bit sadistic. But she likes it. She likes the control.

There's just something exhilarating about the famous millionaire author having to plead his case before her when usually his money, his connections, or his rugged good looks serve to get him what he desires in a more than timely fashion. Even with her.

Of course, it could also be the way the puppy dog eyes bring out the blue, making him more adorable and irresistible than ever. Yeah. Could be that too.

"Beckett, please," he beseeches her, and she knows he wants this if he's using that particular moniker. She's been just Kate for so long now.

They're wrapping up the paperwork and as soon as she finishes it'll be her first night off in a week, followed by her first weekend off in what seems like forever.

"Oh, come on, boss, would you just put him out of his misery already?"

She glances over to Ryan, and sees Esposito nodding vigorously from the next desk over. She's not sure if they're trying to help out their buddy or if they're just sick of his whining, but she decides it's gone on long enough.

"Fine," she says, turning back to meet her partner's eyes - his blue, blue eyes. "We can go. But I need to finish this first, okay?"

His mouth breaks into a wide smile, and she feels a jolt of pleasure at making him so clearly happy. He leans back in the chair to wait (she hopes quietly), and she returns her focus to the sheaf of papers on her desk.

It doesn't take her long to wrap things up and then she's standing and he's pulling her coat up her arms and the boys are grinning at them from across the room.

"Have fun, you two," Esposito calls.

Castle laughs and takes her hand in his. She squeezes his fingers and smiles back at the other two detectives.

"See you on Monday, guys."

Their colleagues nod in response and wave them out.

He's nearly giddy in the elevator, his body vibrating next to hers, and when she looks up at him with a smirk, he quickly tries to school his features. And fails rather miserably.

She bumps his shoulder, drops her cheek to his bicep as they descend to ground level.

"You're cute when you're excited," she whispers, and he tilts his head toward her, brushing a thank you flavored kiss across her lips.

For some reason he drove this morning, so when they reach the parking garage, they bypass her cruiser in favor of his Mercedes-Benz. It's not the Ferrari, but it's an SUV and she thinks it'll probably be more comfortable for the trip ahead.

"You sure you can drive us safely?" she asks as he unlocks the vehicle and opens the passenger-side door for her. "You're not going to get too worked up and run us off the road in your excitement?"

He laughs, leans in to blow a raspberry against her neck as she buckles her seatbelt, making her squirm away.

"I'll try to keep my flailing to a minimum while operating the motor vehicle."

He closes the door and rounds the car, entering on the driver side and starting the engine to let it warm up for a moment as he puts on his own seatbelt.

"Cold out tonight," he says as he backs out of the spot.

She chuckles, watching his hands on the wheel as he navigates onto the city streets.

"Is that what we're reduced to now, Castle? Talking about the weather?"

He turns to glare at her, early streetlights overhead illuminating his face, lending a mysterious aura to the chiseled lines of his face.

"Merely an observation, Detective," he states. "I just thought we might need to stop and pick up a heavier coat for you."

She shakes her head and reaches over to feather her fingers along the back of his neck, teasing the short hair at his nape.

"Why would I need a heavier coat when I've got you to keep me warm?"


"Okay, you were right, it is cold."

Her teeth are nearly chattering, and for once, he doesn't revel in the fact that she just admitted he was right about something. Instead, he unbuttons his own coat and holds it open, allowing her to tuck herself into his side.

Icy fingers leech the warmth from his skin as she slides one hand beneath his shirt, the other snaking around his back, under the thick wool until she's fully wrapped around him in the small carriage.

"Better?" he asks softly, cool nose buried in her hair.

She nods and presses her lips to his throat. Her mouth, at least, seems warm enough.

"Much," she answers, just as quietly. "Thank you, Rick."

This is all he could ask for - the ability to meet her needs, the chance to love her - and he's so grateful for the opportunity she's given him.

"Oh, Kate, look." he breathes as the cart shudders to a momentary stop. "It's beautiful."

She pulls her face from his neck and turns her head to follow his gaze. City lights twinkle in the distance, familiar shapes that he recognizes, some he doesn't.

"It's really something, isn't it?" she murmurs, and he nods against her, brushing his lips over the crown of her head.

"The city that never sleeps."

They watch for a moment more, but when their carriage begins its descent, she maneuvers back into her previous position, where he always wants her - face tucked against his chest, safe and warm, cocooned within his arms.

When they reach the bottom and the Ferris wheel operator unlocks their compartment, he squeezes her tightly against him for a moment more before standing and letting her slip from his grasp.

"Come on," he says, taking her hand and leading her past the crowds waiting their turn. "I'm hungry."

She laughs at him, but follows nonetheless.

"We just ate on the way, Castle. What are you? A bottomless pit?"

He turns to her with a pout.

"That was regular food," he justifies. "Well, burgers and fries. This is carnival food. It's different."

She rolls her eyes, but she's smiling. As much as he loves his hard-ass detective who takes the lead and doesn't back down, he appreciates this version of her from time to time - this pliant Kate who goes with his crazy ideas and lets him pull her into carnivals and Ferris wheels.

"Lead the way, then," she concedes, slipping her hand from his to let it curl around his bicep instead, her forearm caught in the crook of his elbow.

They wander for a bit, huddled together against the cold, though it's far warmer here on the ground. He wants to stop at the shooting gallery, but she won't let him.

"Scared I'll outgun you?" he teases.

She shrugs nonchalantly.

"More that I don't want to have to carry a giant stuffed animal while you pout for the rest of the evening."

Ah. Well. She's probably right.

He pulls her away before the old man has a chance to sucker them into the game anyway and leads her toward the bright lights that advertise footlong hot dogs and kettlecorn and all manner of other delicacies.

"What's your pleasure?" he asks, hunching his body around hers to keep out the cold that seeps in when they aren't moving.

She shakes her head and presses herself further into his warmth.

"Unlike you, I don't have a hollow leg. I don't want anything."

He glances up at the menu board for a moment then back down to the detective, craning his neck to see her properly.

"At least share a deep-fried Twinkie with me," he implores, and something he doesn't quite understand flashes through her eyes. She smiles though, before he has a chance to question her.

"How about a funnel cake instead?"

He nods his agreement and shuffles their bodies forward to the window. An odd mix of grizzled old women and pimply teenagers comprise those pouring batter or sprinkling sugar or sliding pastries onto rolled cardboard sticks.

"We'll take one funnel cake," he requests, dropping his mouth to Kate's ear to ask if she wants any toppings. She shakes her head no, and the woman behind the counter ambles off.

"Spoilsport," he whispers when they're relatively alone once more.

She elbows him lightly in the stomach and he steps backward, only to find her moving with him.

"Too cold," she claims as she turns and burrows into his arms. He won't complain. He'll gladly play space heater for her if it keeps her close.

Focused on the chilled detective, he doesn't notice their food is ready until the old woman clears her throat and looks at him expectantly. He somehow digs his wallet from his pocket, pays, and takes their funnel cake, all without dislodging Kate from her spot.

Navigating them toward a table proves a little more challenging, and finally she sighs and forsakes his chest to tuck herself under his arm, staying there even when they find empty seats in the corner, protected on two sides by thin plastic walls.

Castle sets the paper plate in front of them, reaching down to pull off a piece of the crispy confection. He glances down at Kate, snugging her more tightly against his side when she presses her cheek to his chest. And then his eyes drift.

He can't help it. The swirling lights and the crowds of faces, the shrieks of children and the calls of game runners, the smell of fried food and dank sweat, even the cold bench beneath him and the sticky tabletop he brushed off before they sat.

All of it appeals to his every sense, fodder for a writer's brain.

He's planning a murder at a carnival and intending to indulge his last remaining sense - taste - when a small hand covers his. He turns just in time to see his fingers sinking between Kate's lips along with the bit of funnel cake he'd torn off to eat.

Dark eyes watch for his reaction as she pulls his hand slowly out of her mouth, catching the last bits of sugar on his fingers with her warm tongue. And all he can do is grin.

"Thought you weren't hungry," he says on a laugh.

She shakes her head.

"I wasn't, but you were flaunting that funnel cake, dangling it out in front of me."

"So you decided to take matters into your own hands?"

She smirks, runs her tongue along the edges of her lips.

"In a manner of speaking."

He studies her, the way she's trying to hide her delight. Trying and not really doing a very good job of it.

"You have a little powdered sugar," he tells her after a moment, pointing toward the corner of her mouth. "Just there."

Her tongue darts out again, swiping at the spot, but he shakes his head. She lifts the back of her hand and drags it across her mouth, but he shakes his head again.

"Allow me," he finally whispers, leaning in and working his lips over hers, mapping her borders with his tongue and teeth, drawing a low moan from her throat when he finally pulls away.

"You're a liar," she breathes.

He shrugs, knows his eyes must be twinkling with the way he's looking at her.

"Are you complaining?" he asks.

She shakes her head, leaning in close to him once more.

"Shut up and eat your funnel cake."


The rest of dessert is consumed in silence broken by the occasional chuckle or smack of a kiss. They both wear powdered sugar on faces and coats by the time Castle gets up to grab some napkins.

She watches him go, every step a tug on her heart to run after him, and it's silly – so incredibly silly – because she knows he's coming right back, knows he won't even leave her sight.

But she loves him and she wants him close.

"Hey, they have a funhouse," he tells her as soon as he returns with a stack of napkins and a cup of tepid water. "Wanna check it out?"

She doesn't. Not really. But he does, and it's clear on his face, and so she knows she will, knows she'll be fine with him by her side. No childhood nightmares will haunt her this evening.

"Sure," she answers, and he hands her the cup of water before dropping into the seat beside her.

He's tender in the way he wipes the remaining sugar from her face with the moistened napkin, careful to remove every last bit of evidence.

"I prefer my way," he says softly, his lips curling in a smile. "But I figured you might not appreciate me slobbering all over you in public."

She laughs, a light laugh that brightens his eyes, and she catches the meat of his thumb with her teeth before he has a chance to withdraw. Then she picks up a new napkin and returns the favor, damp fibers catching on his five o' clock shadow, her thumb grazing his bottom lip.

His eyes never leave hers, and when she pulls her hand back to toss the napkin in the trash can a couple feet away, he leans forward to take her mouth in a swift, burning kiss that makes her forget all about the cold.

He stands and reaches for her hand, twining their fingers, lifting her from her seat, straight into his arms. She goes willingly.

This is perhaps what she likes best now - that she doesn't need desperation to touch him, doesn't need to have just survived one more near-death experience to hug him tightly.

She feels his lips brush her temple and a puff of warm air washes across her ear.

"Ready?" he asks, and she nods, pulling away from his body but leaving their hands clasped.

They pick their way through the suddenly crowded group of tables and chairs filled with carnival-goers whose laughter sends puffs of powdered sugar swirling into the air to mix with the steam of their hot chocolates.

Halfway to the towering funhouse, Castle stops abruptly, jerking back on her arm.

"Beckett!"

Though the sudden halt startled her, the tone in his voice tells her nothing is actually wrong. She turns and sees him staring at a small machine about fifteen yards away.

About the size of a refrigerator, the machine sports bright colors and a distinctive script. But what she knows drew his attention is the animatronic figure inside - a bearded man in a turban with glowing red eyes.

She laughs and her partner looks down at her in awe.

"Kate, please..."

He doesn't have to ask. The look on his face would have been enough for her to go with him to check it out.

"I've always wanted to try one of these," he murmurs, and she tightens her hand around his.

"Well, come on then," she says, grinning at him. "Let's go see if it works."

His boyish enthusiasm is infectious, and by the time they reach the machine, she's nearly as excited as he is.

Castle digs in his pocket for the change left over from the purchase of the funnel cake and pulls out a pair of quarters, handing them to the detective.

They exchange a look, and then he drops quickly to a crouch, running his hands around the edge of the machine.

"What are you doing?" she asks, furrowing her brows.

He glances up, just as he seems to find what he wanted. He holds up the power cord of the machine where it's plugged into a black extension cord.

"Just wanted to make sure it was actually plugged in," he declares, winking at her over his shoulder. "I really don't want to make a wish and then wake up tomorrow twenty years older."

He tugs on her hand, and she pulls him up to stand next to her.

"What about twenty years younger?" she asks, surprised when he shakes his head.

"Twenty year old me wouldn't have appreciated you the way you deserve," he says softly. Her heart melts, and she pushes herself up on her toes to press her lips to his.

She brushes the back of her fingers across his cheek as she pulls back.

"Good, because in my opinion, experience definitely trumps youth."

He leers at her.

"Is that right?"

Her hand lingers at his cheek a moment longer and then trails down his neck to toy with the collar of his coat.

"Mmhmm," she hums. "Plus, you've got proven staying power."

She watches the bob of his adam's apple, watches the desire ignite in his eyes, the flush of his skin that no longer comes from the cold.

"Staying power?" he gruffs, voice tight, restraining himself.

Her hand drifts, sliding under his lapel to rest her palm over his chest.

"Can't imagine a twenty-something following me for four years, just waiting patiently for me to come around."

He shakes his head, eyes softening.

"I wouldn't have, then," he affirms. "So I suppose that maturity has its benefits."

His heart pounds under her hand, and she presses against his chest, warmth infusing her fingers first and spreading through the rest of her. She leans forward, tilts her head until they're resting cheek to cheek and she can whisper in his ear.

"Put your quarter in, Castle," she commands softly. "Make a wish."


The gaping maw taunts him, the sinister red eyes mocking.

"Go on," the detective nudges. "I want my turn."

But he can't think of a single wish, can't think of anything he could possibly want beyond what he already has. Kate is waiting, however, dark eyes dancing with delight, mouth twisted, unable to decide between a smirk and a genuine grin, looking like she wants him - and soon.

So he aims the ramp, drops his quarter in the slot, and makes a silly wish that that won't disappoint him terribly if it never comes true. Then he hits the red button in time to send the coin careening into Zoltar's open mouth.

Kate leans against his side as he plucks the little card from the opening beneath the glass. Just like in the movie, a few words grace one side, written in a fancy, vaguely Arabian font - Your Wish is Granted.

As a writer, the abused capitalization irks him. But Kate is already jostling for position, dropping in her own quarter and waiting for just the right moment. She lets the coin fly and land in the hinged mouth, a pleased laugh leaving her lips when an identical card pops out.

Even now, he doesn't see her like this enough. She cracks a smile at work more often - even in front of Gates - but she's still over-serious so much of the time. This is what he should have wished. But then, by the light in her eyes, the way she's teased him and touched him all evening, maybe he didn't need to waste a wish on something that's happening anyway.

"What did you wish?" he asks, stealing back the hand she'd taken away in order to operate the machine.

She shakes her head, still smiling, that hint of red tongue peeking between her teeth. Oh, that drives him crazy. And he knows she knows it. Knows she does it on purpose.

"Can't tell you or it won't come true," she teases. "Come on, Castle, that's an elementary rule of wish-making."

She lifts their joined hands and tucks them into the deep pocket of his coat, bumping his shoulder and nudging him back the way they came.

He follows her silent instructions, and leads them to the funhouse. It's just a pair of oversized trailers hooked together. The whole carnival is mobile, of course, and if they'd been a day later in finding the lead that took them north of the city, it would have been gone already. But he pointed it out when they drove by (after tracking down their suspect and getting a confession), and then brought it up again at the precinct, and apparently her good case-closed mood worked in his favor.

Though lately, it seems, she hasn't made him try as hard. Maybe she's going soft.

She hesitates at the entrance to the funhouse, and he stops beside her.

"Okay?"

Her nod answers him, but her eyes are still unsure.

"Kate?"

She shakes her head this time.

"I'm fine, Castle. Got lost in one of these as a kid. Took me what seemed like forever to find my way out, though really it was probably only a few minutes."

He squeezes her hand, bends toward her.

"We don't have to-" he starts, but she cuts him off.

"No. It's just...there were clowns."

Oh. Oh, wow. Not what he would have picked as her irrational fear, but well yeah. Clowns can be pretty creepy with their white faces and not-really-smiling mouths. And there's the whole "It" thing, and okay, he could see that.

He brushes his lips across her forehead.

"I haven't seen a single clown in the place," he promises.

She takes a deep breath and looks up at him, her expression twisting his heart, filling it, warming it from within.

"I know," she says. "And anyway, I was alone that time. Now I've got you."

He grins at that, chest swelling with pride.

"To protect you?"

She smirks.

"To serve as a human sacrifice."

He mimes a knife to the heart, stumbles back, dragging her with him a few steps.

She laughs.

"And here I thought you loved me," he says with a shake of his head.

She shrugs.

"Not if there are clowns involved."


Their mingled laughter follows them through the entrance, echoing still in the first room.

The floor shifts suddenly under their feet and he makes a mad grab for her other hand, throwing them both off balance.

"Castle," she hisses, steadying them both. "Do us both a favor and don't take me down with you."

His eyes speak apologies and she just shakes her head, pulling him through the tilting room, stepping carefully and timing the inclinations. By the time they're across, she's feeling a little woozy, but thankfully, she's pretty sure there won't be any more rooms like that.

Darkness confronts them at the next turn, pitch black. She's glad their fingers are still tangled together because she can't see a single thing. A hesitant step forward proves that the ground is solid, but one more step has her jumping back into Castle's arms.

"What?" he asks excitedly. "What is it?"

She lets out a startled laugh. Of course he's thrilled with this whole thing.

"Nothing. Air. Just a jet of air."

He squeezes her sides, his fingers spanning her ribcage, and she can feel him smiling into her hair. He bumps her forward with his hips.

And then screams like a little girl when the jet hits him.

Alternating between shrieks and laughter, the pair travels across the room, Castle tugging on her hand when they finally reach the other side. It was air, nothing more, some streams hot and others cold, but it always shot out when she least expected it, catching her off guard every time.

She thinks they got turned around once too, probably when the writer yelled and spun them, swearing he'd felt someone's hand pinch his rear.

But now they're safely back in the light, and lots of it. It takes her eyes a moment to adjust, but when they do, all she can see is Castle. And herself.

Everywhere.

Mirrors line every surface from floor to ceiling, jutting up a few feet in front of them. She can see a break in the wall, but more mirrors behind it, so she figures it must be some kind of small maze.

"Whoa," her partner murmurs, giving a low whistle. "That's a bunch of mirrors."

She turns to look at him - the actual him, not one of the hundreds of images reflecting back at her - and rolls her eyes.

"What?" he protests. "I'm just saying, imagine how much bad luck you'd have if you broke all of these. You'd be doomed for ages."

She shakes her head and starts to pull away, intent on exploring the room, but he tugs her back.

"Wait," he entreats, and she pauses, taking in the concerned lines of his face. "If we get separated, how will I know which is the real you?"

She laughs, and his beaming smile bounces back at her from every angle, stretched and squeezed and distorted but still retaining that beautiful joy that cannot be hidden.

"Tell you what," she suggests, lifting her hand to run her fingers along his temple, above his ear. "I'll be the one that touches back."

His lips part as if he's going to say something, as if he might have some witty comeback, but instead he just nods and releases her hand. She tweaks his ear lightly and steps away, sees his reflection doing the same thing behind her.

She wanders around the room. Small it may be, but they've used the space to its maximum potential and she runs into an unexpected dead end more than once. She finds Castle at one, grimacing comically into a warped mirror that is the perfect height and angle to remake his usually handsome face into something completely grotesque.

"So cool," he whispers, throwing a smile over his shoulder at her when she appears behind him, scrunching her nose and sticking out her tongue to see the effect, drawing a chuckle and tender eyes from her partner.

True to her word, when he reaches for her, she touches back, catches his thick wrist between her fingers and gives it a quick squeeze before moving on.

He finds her the next time, steps up behind her and wraps his arms around her waists caressing her stomach as she watches the two of them in the curved glass.

"Still the most beautiful woman I've ever seen," he husks into her ear, bowing his head to press his lips to her neck. She arches under his touch, further accentuating this mirror's feature.

Her slim form expands, belly widening in the reflection, and he pauses in his ministrations, catches her eyes in the mirror. The image presented to her stills her movements, and she inhales deeply.

His fingers spread over her abdomen, and when he speaks again, it's quiet, almost timid.

"We've never talked about..."

She turns and silences him with her lips.

"Plenty of time, Castle," she whispers. "Not a conversation I particularly want to have in a carnival funhouse."

He nods against her, and even in the mirror's distortion she can see the mischief in his eyes.

"Especially when there could be clowns lurking nearby."


There were clowns. Two of them. Carnival workers, probably teenagers, and not particularly menacing.

But he saw them first, caught a glimpse of them while her back was turned and discreetly waved them off.

They hesitated, but they went. And he's grateful.

Of course, now he has to come up with a story about why this last room of the funhouse is empty, if a bit foggy. They made it safely through the tilting floors, through the jets of air, through the mirrors, up a spiral staircase, and through a lengthy "barrel of love."

Well, safely might not be exactly the right word for the last one. He did lose his balance. And they did sort of end up sprawled on the padded floor of the revolving room, her legs splayed around his, their chests pressed together as he rolled them gently until they could struggle to their feet and stumble - laughing - into the next corridor.

She didn't seem to mind the delay. Didn't seem to mind at all.

But now, she's looking at him with questions in her bright eyes. He shrugs.

"Maybe it's broken?"

She raises an eyebrow, and he tries his best to look innocent, knowing she won't take kindly to being coddled. She watches him for a moment, and finally he thinks she must take him at his word, because she smiles with her kiss-reddened lips, squeezes his hand, and tugs him onward.

They make their way slowly through the fog that rises to their mid-thighs, her fingers tight around his, her eyes darting here and there, watching for movement. It's been ages since he went through a funhouse, and he's definitely never been through one with a cop. Actually, getting the clowns to back down was probably for their own good if the tension he can feel in her muscles is any indicator.

Pulling him along, she heads through the door and then stops suddenly. He bumps into her from behind, thankful that they'd been moving as slowly as they had. If not, he'd have sent her diving headlong into an inky abyss.

Or maybe not an abyss. Maybe just a slide that will probably take them back to the outside.

"Come on," she says, glancing up at him, still smiling as she drops to the ground, dangles her feet into the shadows.

She jerks on his arm, and he kneels, then spreads his legs on either side of her.

"On three?" he asks as he wraps both arms around her middle, feels her hands cover his sleeves.

She nods, and leans back to press a surprise kiss to his cheek.

"Castle," she says solemnly. "If we don't make it..."

Just for that, he doesn't count to three.

She shrieks as they go careening into the stygian tunnel, a girlier sound than he's ever heard from her. Laughter follows as the two bounce from side to side, banging against walls.

His shoulders and hips are taking a beating, but when they emerge, flopping gracelessly in a heap on a thick foam mat at the bottom, he sees the happiness in her eyes, the pink flush to her cheeks, the love in her smile - and it's worth every bruise.

She presses against his chest to lift herself off, but he catches her and pulls her back down.

"Hey," she grunts. "Not here. There are kids around."

He pauses, tilts his head to scan the surrounding area. It's empty, not a soul in sight.

Shaking his head, his hands cover her sides, and he wishes it weren't so cold, wishes she wasn't wearing a thick coat. He needs to touch her.

"No kids," he mutters. "No one but us."

She smirks down at him, eyes dark and dangerous and beautiful. He strains upward, trying to reach her, but she pulls away, too far from his mouth.

"There were clowns," she whispers. "I saw them."

His lips drop in a frown. He'd hoped-

"You sent them away," she continues, breaking into his thoughts. "You've always got my back, don't you?"

He jerks one shoulder in a half-shrug.

"I'm your partner."

She smooths his ruffled hair, glides her fingers along his cheek.

"For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health...and in clowns?"

He laughs, hears the richness in his own tone, sees the light in her eyes.

"Do we need to add that to our vows next month?" he asks teasingly.

She lowers herself to him, trails kisses across his cheek to his ear.

"Certainly would make it memorable," she asserts.

He turns his head to meet her lips, soothing and seeking, drawing her out. She nips at him and he groans, tightens his arms around her. Her whole body is pressed to his, hips fitted between his thighs, one hand cradling the back of his skull, and he could stay here forever.

All too soon, she pushes against him. It's good, he knows, better that he not ravish her here in the middle of a traveling carnival, but still...

"I think it's time to go," he murmurs as he forces himself to his feet and drags her up with him.

She smiles, coy and teasing and utterly adorable.

"So soon?"

He weaves their fingers once more, stepping carefully to the edge of the mat, past the boundary of the funhouse walls.

"Yes. I think I need to put you to bed."

She laughs, and he cocks his head to look down at her, watches the corner of her mouth lift before she speaks.

"You gonna tuck me in?" she asks. "Maybe tell me a bedtime story?"

He winks down at her as he leads her back toward the entrance of the carnival, past the tilt-a-whirl and some kind of miniature dragon rollercoaster. They both know she tells better bedtime stories.

"Maybe I'll let you tell me one instead," he suggests.

The detective looks him over with a keen eye.

"Maybe I will."

She's going to kill him one of these days with that sultry voice and those long eyelashes that flutter up at him. She's tough, knows how to play rough, can drink him under the table faster than either Esposito or Ryan. But she makes it impossible to forget that she's all woman too. And she definitely has wiles. He clears his throat as they pass the food court.

"Sure I can't interest you in a deep-fried Twinkie before we go?" he offers generously, glancing down at her. "Bedtime snack? We could even get it with chocolate or caramel or strawberries and whipped cream."

She shakes her head.

"I'm still stuffed," she says, then runs her tongue along her parted lips. "Besides, I thought we could save the whipped cream for later."

He grins.

"Looks like Zoltar really does grant wishes."