Two days after being removed from Collins' case, Castle got the phone call that shattered his heart.
"Mr. Castle?" came the timid question from a woman's voice who sounded familiar.
"Yes. Yes it is." Castle looked groggily at his bedside clock. 9:33 am. He'd had difficulty sleeping again last night… He'd fallen into bed, utterly exhausted, around 3 am. He couldn't think about anything but Beckett and the danger she was possibly in... He couldn't concentrate on writing. His thoughts ran rampant… His writer's mind automatically jumped to the worst-case scenario.
He was tormented by bad dreams. Dreams which haunted his waking hours as well.
God, he wished she'd at least text him to let him know she was okay, but Castle hadn't heard from her since she kicked him out of the precinct, and his pride wouldn't allow him to contact her first.
As his brain cleared from being asleep, he remembered who the calm voice belonged to - - Elizabeth Grey.
"Mrs. Grey, how are you doing?" He asked sincerely.
"As well as can be expected. Thank you." She cleared her throat.
"I'm calling you because you're the only person we feel we can trust." She turned to her husband and whispered something that Rick couldn't quite make out.
"I'm afraid - I'm afraid I've got some very bad news for you."
Rick's gut clenched in fear from the tone in her voice.
"Matthew has a good friend inside Mr. Collins' network. She told him that we're in danger. She told him that we have to pack and leave the city immediately. We have to disappear." Elizabeth sniffed.
"We were going to call Detective Beckett this morning to let her know we accept the offer for Witness Protection, but Katrina said – - she told Matthew," she took a deep breath before continuing. "I'm so sorry Mr. Castle… Horatio Collins has her. He's kidnapped Detective Beckett."
Castle's head started to spin. Oh my God, … Kate.
How the hell did he get a hold of her? When did he take her? How long has she been missing? Where were Esposito and Ryan? Why hadn't they called him? Did Gates know?
He was silent for several moments, trying to absorb the news. . . His thoughts were a jumbled mess. He got up from the bed and started pacing his room.
"Can I speak to your husband, please?"
"Yes, of course." She hesitated. "We didn't call anyone at the precinct to let them know what Katrina told us... My husband doesn't know who he can trust at this point since she was obviously taken due to working on Eden's case… He's afraid there might be corrupt cops at the 12th… I'm so sorry, Mr. Castle. I'm so sorry."
Castle gathered his wits about him and questioned Mr. Grey thoroughly.
He found out that the kidnapped girls were stashed deep underground in a high-security building on the outskirts of the city… There was only one entrance into the building. There was a secret elevator that required a key code to access the floors. Unfortunately, Mr. Grey did not know the access code. He always had a guard on him whenever he was summoned to the business.
Buyers were picked up by a limo driver at some predetermined location, blind-folded, and then driven to Collins' building where they were escorted into the elevator… A security agent was always present inside the elevator as Collins had it monitored 24/7… The agent would input the elevator code and escort the buyer 6 stories down to the main hallway of the business. Katrina would usually escort the buyers from there to the bidding room.
Mr. Grey told Castle that Kate was being held in a secure room where she was being questioned. (He didn't mention that she would most likely be tortured as it was Mr. Collins' preferred method of persuasion.)
"I hate to tell you this, Mr. Castle, but Katrina thinks it's highly likely Collins will put her up for auction tomorrow evening." Castle's heart stopped.
"Get me in as a buyer, Mr. Grey… I don't care how you do it… Just make it happen."
"I will try." Mr. Grey sighed. "If I still have access to Collins' computer records, I can add you as a first time buyer. There's an application you'll have to fill out. I can forward it to you. You'll also have to use a pseudonym."
"Alexander Rogers. Mark me down as Alexander Rogers."
They talked for an additional 30 minutes, working out the logistics. Castle would have to be at the Hotel Le Bleu at 7 pm sharp. The buyer's were recognized by carrying an aluminum briefcase. He had to bring a large amount of cash with him - $200,000.00 should suffice. Cell phones did not work once you were in the elevator. Tracking devices were automatically disabled in the phones as soon as you stepped inside.
Before they hung up, Mr. Grey left him with a warning. "One more thing, Mr. Castle. Be careful who you tell about Detective Beckett… Someone at the 12th most likely gave her name to Horatio. Make sure you only tell an officer you can explicitly trust."
"Yes, I understand."
"Good luck. I'm deeply sorry that Detective Beckett is now suffering because of my betrayal."
Castle hung up the phone knowing exactly who he needed to call for help.
As his mind started to clear from the sedative, Rick was having difficulty discerning between fantasy and reality.
He was lying on a comfortable mattress with his nose buried in soft, luxurious curls.
Cherries. The strong smell of cherries permeated his nostrils.
His right hand was stroking silky, soft skin, … rubbing over defined abdomen muscles. He dragged his fingers over the taut muscles to reach the side of her narrow waist.
Kate - in a racy cream bustier with laces criss-crossing down the front, just begging him to untie them.
Kate - in sexy, black fishnet stockings behind held up by a lacy garter with playful pink bows.
Kate – in a barely there G-string that made him want to take his teeth and pull down the flimsy fabric.
Shit, he was in a painful state of arousal.
His hand had a mind of its own as it left her small waist and began searching for the inseam of the fishnet stockings.
She began wiggling next to him, mumbling incoherently.
"Hmmm?" - Mr. Rogers?
His eyes flew open in a flash as it suddenly came back to him: Kate. Kidnapped. Underground sex-ring. Horatio Collins.
It wasn't a dream. He was lying next to her and his hand was -
He immediately removed the offending hand that was dangerously close to fondling the pink bow… He brought it to her cheek and caressed it gently while staring into her emerald green orbs.
Her eyes were filled with concern, relief and something else that he couldn't quite define. She had a silk scarf tied around her mouth so she couldn't speak. Her cheeks looked hot… She looked flushed.
He watched as her pupils suddenly constricted in – lust? desire?
Jeez, how did my hand find its way back again to that infuriating lace garter belt?
He sat straight up on the edge of the bed, suddenly wide awake.
"It's nice to see you're finally awake," Collins said smoothly. "I do apologize for the earlier deception… I've found it's a necessary precaution with our first time customers."
"Well, let me assure you, Mr. Collins," he replied angrily, "Drugging me is not the best incentive for further business."
He chuckled softly.
Rick quickly scanned the room around him. It was a small bedroom with an expensive mahogany armoire along one wall and a matching double bed across from it. The walls were tastefully decorated with photos of local tourist attractions. There was a security camera located on the ceiling above the armoire. There was also an intercom on the wall and key-pad lock for the door.
The item that disturbed him though was the high-tech video camera resting on the tripod in the far corner, faced towards the bed… That's when he realized that the comforter on the bed was the type used in exotic porno flicks. He suddenly felt sick to his stomach.
"This is my associate, Nico." Mr. Collins' arm swayed toward the 300-pound lug who'd been holding Kate hostage earlier in the bidding room. He was standing in front of the door with his arms crossed, a handgun positioned at his hip. Castle sized up his beefy muscles and beady little eyes, and concluded accurately… This degenerate enjoys inflicting pain.
His heart skyrocketed at the mere thought that he had touched Kate.
"Let me formally introduce you to your purchase." Castle stood up and glanced down at Kate. "Alex Rogers meet Katherine Beckett."
Castle swallowed. .. If he thought she looked sexy wearing revealing lingerie standing behind a glass enclosure 15 feet away from him, … up close, … up close, within touching distance, she was - - hotter than hell.
"Katherine Beckett, meet your new owner, Alexander Rogers."
Rick clenched his jaw.
Her wrists were bound above her head to the double bed with black silk scarves, … a similar scarf tied around her mouth.
With each deep breath she took, her breasts pushed upwards… He licked his lips as more of the creamy mounds were exposed.
The off-white bustier rode up as well and exposed a delectable belly button that looked like it was created just for him. He pictured himself pouring a fine wine into the orifice and lapping it up lasciviously.
His fingers curled in anticipation of touching her firm, six-pack abs again.
Fuck, I've got to get control of my baser needs, he thought in frustration.
Knowing in his current state of mind that he couldn't handle focusing on the skimpy G-string, his eyes scanned further down her model legs… Big mistake.
His desire to explore those mile-high gams intensified ten-fold as the alluring fish-net stockings sent a shocking jolt of awareness straight to his manhood.
He turned away from her and ran a hand through his hair in exasperation.
"Do you like what you see?" Collins asked with a suggestive grin.
"Of course… She's exceptional. You certainly didn't lie when you described her as," he paused to look into Kate's eyes, "extraordinary."
Rick flashed her his charming smile. He tried to convey to her through his words and expression that they were going to be alright. They were going to get out of this mess alive. - - Together.
"I'd like to talk with my purchase alone."
"That's against our rules for first time buyers."
"For $135,000 dollars, rules can be broken." Castle said authoritatively.
"Not this one." Collins stated nonchalantly. "If you're not happy with our rules, Mr. Rogers, you can always decline the sale. I'm positive Mr. Thornton would be happy to purchase Katherine here at a discount."
Kate's eyes widened and she softly shook her head sideways.
Rick's mouth twisted in contempt. God, this guy's an ass h-.
Kate twisted a bit to the side to try and get more comfortable… She drew her knees towards her chest.
When Rick saw her bloody, mutilated feet, rage spewed into his bloodstream like lava spewing out of an active volcano. He clenched his hands into tight fists, digging his nails into the flesh. He wouldn't be surprised to find pin picks of blood on his palms. It took every ounce of will power he possessed not to pommel this S.O.B. to death.
He glared at Collins menacingly. "What the hell happened to her feet?" His voice seethed with anger. "I did not pay for damaged merchandise."
Collins cleared his throat, looking haughty. "I apologize. Sometimes, it's a necessary evil to hurt the girls." Collins looked slightly uncomfortable at Rick's loathsome stare. "Believe me, Mr. Rogers, with Katherine Beckett, it was a necessary evil… We couldn't allow her to try and escape."
If Nico hadn't been standing in front of the door with his hand at the ready to grab his loaded gun, Castle would've attacked Collins and pummeled his face to a bloody pulp… He wouldn't have stopped until his face matched her feet.
He inhaled deeply, trying to calm down.
"Well, I for one do not tolerate this kind of abuse to my women… Get cleaning solution, ointment, bandages for her feet immediately." His tone brooked no argument." I also presume you've got antibiotics for this type of – situation – as well." He sneered the word, 'situation'.
"Yes, we do. I'll have her tended to right away." Collins walked over to the speaker on the wall and pressed the button, "Katrina, bring in medical supplies into room 3."
"Yes, Mr. Collins, right away." She replied.
Rick motioned to Kate. "I also want her gag removed."
"As I mentioned earlier, Katherine Beckett is not like our normal girls. She is extremely dangerous… I don't suggest it as she may," he laughed coyly, "bite."
Collins warning surprisingly brought a smirk to Rick's lips. Under any other circumstance, he would have been thrilled to hear that Kate Beckett was possibly a 'biter'.
"I am her owner now, correct?"
"Yes," he deadpanned. "Even though I don't recommend it, you can certainly remove the gag."
Rick sat back on the edge of the bed. Kate lifted her head up slightly so he could reach the silk knot. A tingle shot through his hands as he brushed her scalp. His deep blue eyes filled with concern as he noticed her tired eyes.
"Katherine, it's nice to meet you." He said so that both Collins and Nico could easily hear.
"Water," she whispered brokenly. "Water please."
"There's some in the armoire."
Rick left her side to open the armoire. His pulse jumped when he noticed a variety of sex and bondage toys: vibrators, cuffs, harnesses, whips, chains as well as an assortment of condoms. He reached for the upper shelf to pull down a water bottle.
"Here," he said gently, "let me help you." He cradled her neck while he put the water to her dry lips. She eagerly sipped it.
"Thank you," she said, looking longingly into his baby blues.
She shuddered when his thumb skimmed over her lower lip. "You're welcome."
'I'm okay,' she mouthed to him.
There were 3 raps on the door. Nico let Katrina in who was carrying a medical tray.
"Excuse me," she said kindly. "I need to take a look at Ms Beckett." She lifted Kate's feet gingerly and inspected the wounds.
"You really did a number on her, Nico." She said flippantly. "Boss, you should really learn how to control your goons."
She picked up the cleaning solution and looked at Kate. "I'm sorry, but this is going to hurt."
Castle looked away as he couldn't bear to see her in pain. Kate grimaced and made little whimpering sounds but never cried out while her feet were cleaned and bandaged.
God dammit, what else had they done to her? So it was Nico who cut up her feet?… Castle stared him down. I'm going to enjoy watching that man suffer, and very soon, he vowed to himself.
Out of the corner of his eye, he caught Katrina squirting liquid out of a syringe. He grabbed her arm forcefully before she could inject the serum.
"Let go of Katrina's arm… Now." Nico stepped forward threateningly.
"It's alright, Nico." She turned to Castle. "It's only antibiotics." At the hesitation in Rick's eyes she said quietly. "I promise… It's not a sedative or harmful drug. She needs this medicine." Rick could tell by the sincerity of her voice and the soft look in her eyes that she was telling the truth. He shook his head in approval.
Katrina took a cotton swab and squirted alcohol on it. "Roll onto your side, Ms. Beckett. It has to go into your hip."
Kate did as she was told.
There were those tempting angel wings again. This time when the blood rushed south, at least Rick was expecting it. He was suddenly very uncomfortable though, as he caught Kate eyeing the front of his slacks.
Katrina exited the room quietly, looking briefly over her shoulder just before the door slammed shut.
"Mr. Collins, When can I take her home?"
Collins gazed at him with smug superiority. "We do have other rules as well for first time buyers."
Why do I get the distinct impression that I'm not going to like these rules?
"I need to see you in action, Mr. Rogers… I need to see you handle the merchandise."
As Collins' words hit home, his chest tightened and Rick found it difficult to breathe.
This bastard truly is as sick as they come.
"I'm sure you can understand my position as you're also a businessman… I can't blindly trust that you'll keep my profitable business a secret... I need assurance, leverage if you will, that you are the man you claim to be."
Castle glanced at Kate worriedly.
"We record our first time customers with their purchase." His slimy smile curled Rick's toes. "It's a very effective, blackmail tool… It protects my business should you suddenly grow a conscience."
"No." He said forcefully. "That's not my style… I treat my women well… Lavish them with gifts... Secure their trust over time… I do not fuck them just because I can – " Collins' sinister laugh interrupted him.
"You don't understand, Mr. Rogers. You don't have a choice."