This is utterly pointless but I couldn't sleep so here we are.
Her jaw cracks when she yawns and he shakes his head. She's been fighting it for the last fifty miles, yawning and scrubbing at her face like a child, and while he thinks it's utterly adorable, he'd rather she get the sleep she so obviously needs.
"Just go to sleep."
"The point of a cross country trip is to see the country," she says, her voice tired and slow. "Can't do that if I'm passed out against the window."
Castle laughs, glancing over at her briefly before focusing back on the road. "Kate, we just drove across an eighteen mile bridge surrounded by nothing but swamps and an extremely gross river. Amber waves of grain it was not."
"I liked that bridge. It had a good name."
"Okay, I'll give you that. Louisianians do have a certain penchant for colorful names."
"Exactly," Kate says, smiling over at him while she unconsciously rubs tiny circles on the back of his hand with the side of her thumb. He loves it when she does that, finds it soothing and reassuring, an active extension of a passive connection. "How could I ever have forgiven myself for sleeping across the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge? Plus we both know you would have woken me up when we passed that exit for Butte La Rose."
He nods, conceding. "Probably."
The air conditioning blows loudly through the vents in a valiant attempt to combat the blistering three digit temperature. He can see the heat rising up from the road, a haze that shimmers in the fiery orange light of the setting sun. Shit, the south is hot. He'd always known it in an abstract sort of way but the reality of it shocks him. Walking outside and feeling it slam into his chest, stealing the breath from his lungs and immediately pulling moisture up on his skin; the air heavy and damp, unmoving and unforgiving. He dreads the next time they have to stop for gas.
Cruise control keeps their speed steady and he takes the opportunity to relax a little, knee pulled up and wrist hooked over the wheel as he steers lazily. A truck flies past and the sun catches on the rear window, a blinding flash that has him squinting and spitting out a whispered curse. Driving west in the late afternoon really was one of his dumber ideas but there is no way he's admitting that to her.
The circles on his hand stop and he risks a glance over at her. Her bare feet are propped up on the dash, the blue polish on her toes sparkling in the dying light, and Castle lets his eyes trail greedily up the long, exposed expanse of her legs, resolving to convince her to wear shorts more often. Her body slumps against the door, cheek cradled in the taut sling of her seat belt, sunglasses slightly askew.
He adores vacation Kate. Loves how relaxed and comfortable she is. How she lets her muscles go loose and and the tension drain away. She insists on playing the tourist, snapping pictures of them in front of various landmarks and buying ridiculous souvenirs. She's young and uninhibited on vacation, her face free of makeup and hair pulled up into a messy bun as she drags him around by the hand. This is technically a work trip for him but Kate hasn't let it dampen her spirit. She just kisses him on the cheek before the signings and then heads out to explore on her own, flip flops slapping noisily as she goes.
"Stop staring at me and watch the road, Castle."
He grins and focuses back on the highway stretching out in front of them."I can do both."
"Not if you don't want us to die in the middle a swamp."
"We're past the swamps. Just lots of fields now. Though I suppose we don't want to die in the middle of one of those either."
"This is why I don't let you drive."
"You know it turns you on to see me behind the wheel. Can't keep your hands to yourself." He waggles his eyebrows. "Or your mouth."
Kate huffs, rolling her head to look at him as she pulls her hand from his and crosses her arms over her chest. "I was drunk."
"You weren't that drunk."
"Drunk enough to think that performing oral sex in a moving vehicle was a good idea."
"You'd prefer oral sex in a stationary vehicle then? Because there's a rest stop coming up."
He smiles, reaching over to palm her thigh. "Well, drunk or not, I enjoyed it," he says, the still fresh memories flickering across his mind. He'd enjoyed it quite a lot.
"I did too," she smiles, unfolding her arms and hooking her fingers around the side of his hand. "And so did that trucker who blew his horn at us in the middle of it."
Castle barks out a laugh, his knee hitting the bottom of the steering wheel as he jerks. "Gives new meaning to The Big Easy."
Kate yawns again, her body sagging lower in the seat. "Shut up."
"Take a nap," he implores, squeezing her thigh. "You need the rest after the last couple of days." She'd really enjoyed New Orleans.
Finally giving in, she hits the button to recline the back of her seat and pulls her feet off the dash. She twists toward him and curls herself onto the seat, cradling his hand against her stomach. "Wake me up when we get to Texas. I want to take a picture of that big star."
"I will," Castle promises, running the back of his index finger over the soft cotton of her tank top. "Now sleep."
Leaning forward, she lands a sloppy kiss on his forearm. "Love you."
"Love you too."
Pressing a button on the steering wheel, he scans through the radio stations until he finds one he likes. Willie Nelson's voice filters softly through the speakers and he can't help but feel a little like a cowboy, riding off into the sunset with a beautiful woman by his side.
He's totally buying a hat when they get to Texas.