Day Two

Before he even opened his eyes, Castle knew it was early still; probably 5am or so. Damn off-kilter internal clock. He was no stranger to travel, for both business and pleasure, and had had his fair share of experiences with jet lag over the years. But this time, there were no social events or book signings to attend. No, this time he had days and days to laze about and nap and play and let the unbelievably hot woman currently lying next to him wear him out. He suddenly didn't mind waking so early.

Castle blinked his eyes open, slowly, and took in the room in the violet early morning light, deep shadows still thrown across the length of the room. Kate laid nestled against him still, her back plastered to his front, breathing slowly and steadily. He propped himself up on an elbow and looked down at her profile, her dark lashes fanning her cheeks, her lips slightly pursed as though waiting for him to deliver a kiss.

He held his breath, just for a moment. Or maybe she had stolen it from him. Wouldn't have been the first time. Jesus…she is so damn beautiful, he thought. Inside and out. He took a peek under the covers to see that she was wearing a soft lilac camisole and gray sleep shorts. Pajamas or couture, it made no difference. She was stunning.

He loved everything about her style, and she certainly knew how to make style work for her. Her work attire was always professional and borderline conservative at times, but an outfit that would have appeared staid and stuffy on one woman looked sexy and commanding on her. It certainly didn't hurt that he intimately knew what lay under those clothes, the expanse of silky skin that he had spent hours upon hours touching, tasting, memorizing.

They had only a handful of opportunities in the past year to get dressed up for various occasions, but he'd seen her in plenty of formalwear over the years and God damn she wore a dress well. He'd never, ever be able to forget that blue Hervé Léger dress, that amazing, skin-tight, curve-hugging, knockout of a dress from the "Heat Wave" book party. He had talked her into putting it on one night a few months ago after a few glasses of wine, insisting that he wanted to do a reenactment of that night and have it end on a more positive note. While no reenactment occurred, that evening had a considerably more positive ending, judging by the amount of times she moaned, "yes…yes…yeeessssss…" into his ear later that same night. He smiled at the memory.

But maybe his favorite style of hers with the one he was currently witnessing: the soft, clean, casual Kate. Face scrubbed and make-up free, hair loose and wild, having curled naturally after their shower the night before. There was something almost…innocent about this look, but infinitely sexy too. He thanked whatever higher power that might exist for the opportunity to see her in this relaxed, informal state. He knew how outwardly reserved she was by nature, and what an honor it was to be allowed into her private life at all.

He resisted the urge to pinch himself and question his good fortune, and instead, lowered his head back to the pillow. He figured he'd just lie here quietly until Kate awoke so they could begin their day. She was usually awake before him back home, so it wouldn't be long.

He started when he heard her murmur, "Morning, Castle."

"Oh shit! Did I wake you?" he worried aloud.

She grinned, but decided not to torture him. "No, actually, I've been awake for about a half hour. I was just waiting for you to join me. Were you staring again?" She attempted to shoot a withering look over her shoulder at him.

He wasn't buying it. "I was, in fact, starting at you. Wanna make something of it?" God, he loved to challenge her now.


"Excellent. What time is it anyway?" Castle craned his neck in an attempt to see the clock on the nightstand.

"It's about quarter after five. Never thought you'd find yourself waking on your own at this hour, did ya?" Kate rolled toward him so she could see his face.

"Hey now! I get up at odd hours with you all the time for body drops!" he protested.

"Not willingly and never happily."

"Are you saying I should be happy about murder, Beckett? That's pretty dark."

Kate scrunched up her face while she thought better of her word choice. "Okay, maybe happy isn't the right word."

"Hhmmph, that's what I thought. And besides, my body is telling me that it's actually after 11am." he whined.

"Your body can't help itself, Castle. We're creatures of habit and hormones. You'll adjust soon enough."

He pouted at that, his plump lower lip thrust out enticingly at her. She sunk a tooth into her lower lip in order to stay her urge to kiss him senseless. "On that note, may I make a proposal for what we do with our day?"

He fixed a wide-eyed, innocent-boy look on her. "As long as it includes hanging-from-the-chandeliers-type sex, I'm on board."

Kate could have sworn that she pulled a muscle, she rolled her eyes so hard. "Taking into account that lovely and romantic offer, I was thinking…let's just do nothing today. Relax, walk around the neighborhood, go to the beach. Swim a little, read. Do a little of that adjusting that I mentioned a moment ago."

Castle noticed her looking at him expectantly, and he realized that she wanted his input on the matter. That she valued his opinion. And that more than anything, she genuinely wanted him to enjoy his vacation, as much as he wanted that for her.

He smiled, wide and full of teeth, and declared, "Katherine Beckett, I think that might be the second best idea you've ever had."

Her brow crinkled and she smirked, "What was my best idea?"

He looked at her incredulously, eyes wide and mouth ajar, as though he couldn't believe she was making such an absurd inquiry. "Seriously Beckett? Ummm, hooking up with me, of course!"

And with that, he buried his face into her exposed skin, placing a noisy raspberry on her neck. But he quickly changed gears, nuzzling and kissing the soft juncture where her neck and shoulder met. He darted his tongue out to taste her skin, and she felt the familiar stirrings of desire tightening within her belly. She loved what he could do to her, what he could make her feel, what no other man had been able to draw out of her. He made her free.

She clasped her arms around him while he explored the gentle angle with his mouth, and sighed, "Ridiculous man."

He nipped at her skin for that comment, soothing it with a warm, wet combination of lips and tongue. She could barely make out the muffled, "You love that I'm ridiculous."

"No." she murmured into early morning air.

Castle's head lifted to make eye contact. "No?"

"No." She shook her head softly, but then she rewarded him with a sweet smile. She waited another beat before she said, "I just love you."

He sighed happily, closing his eyes then and dropping his forehead to meet hers. He paused there for a moment, just waiting, reveling in the closeness and the warmth of her breath before he rose again to look into her stunning hazel eyes. They were dark and bottomless in the early light.

"Kate…" he started, but he had to close his eyes and take another deep breath before he was able to look up at her again and speak. She waited patiently. She had a feeling that whatever he was about to tell her was worth the wait. Hadn't he always been worth it?

"Do you know what you do to me, Kate? What I feel when I'm with you? Hell, what I feel when I'm just thinking about you?"

She felt a vibrant liquid warmth within her chest, spreading out to her extremities, leaving her tingling. She tilted her head to one side and grinned. "Yeah, I have an idea."

"Honestly, I hope you do. I hope it's even half as powerful for you as it is for me. I…" He paused then and swallowed, clearly searching for the appropriate words. "I know that as a writer, I'm supposed to avoid using clichés, but sometimes they just fit a situation so perfectly. And you need to know, I need to tell you…I have never in my life felt this way, Kate. Never."

Her eyes grew wide at his declaration, and for a moment, he tensed with the worry that he had said too much, come on too strong. It wouldn't have been the first time, but he wouldn't take it back. Couldn't if he tried. Didn't want to.

He watched as she visibly relaxed, and waited expectantly for her response.

"I thought writers were supposed to avoid using hyperbole, too." she hummed teasingly, wanting to dispel the lingering tension she sensed in him.

"It's not hyperbole if it's the truth."

Looking into his beautiful blue eyes then, she felt overwhelmed by the power behind his words. She knew he meant it. She felt like she was staring into his very soul, like he was willingly, happily laying all of himself and his earthly possessions at her feet to do with as she pleased.

She was jabbed by a brief, fleeting pang of regret for having shut him out for so long, for how they had hurt each other in the past. No…regret wasn't the right word. Melancholy maybe? Sadness over misunderstandings and lost time? They had talked about their long-standing attraction, what they had felt for the other long before they made their confessions in the dark of his room on that stormy night last May. In the end, they both agreed that they most likely would have crashed and burned if they had entered into a relationship before they had been ready, before he had grown up a little and she had dismantled that wall. So…no. It wasn't regret.

That's when it hit her: it was a determination she felt. Determination to never waste time like that again. To appreciate each other and what their relationship had flourished into, every day.

The corners of her lips curled up in a shy smile, and she whispered, "Kiss me."

Never one to deny a lady's request, Castle dipped his head, lowered his smiling lips softly to make contact with hers, brushing over the sensitive flesh again and again, and again. They stayed that way for long moments, neither deepening the kiss, just enjoying the press of skin against skin over and over. He veered away from her sweet mouth then, trailing kisses over her silken cheek, down the edge of her jaw, to the tender flesh of her earlobe, before he paused for a moment, his breath gliding over her while he waited.

"Kate…" he whispered. He lifted his head then to look into her eyes again. She gazed at him with such love and acceptance; any lingering fear was whisked away through the open windows of the master suite.

"I love you, Kate. I just…I love you. So much."

They held each other tightly then, not bothering to move from the bed until the sun had long since risen.

"So…I'm thinking eggs and sausage, and let's cut up that pineapple, too."

"Sounds fabulous. I'm starving."

They began moving around the kitchen then, prepping some nourishment before they put on shoes and explored their surroundings.

Castle looked over at his gorgeous partner while he whisked eggs and she expertly carved the pineapple. He had never seen her do that before…where had she learned how to do that?

"When did you learn to cut up a pineapple with such finesse, Beckett? I'm impressed."

She looked up and smiled at him before getting back to her task. "This isn't my first rodeo, Castle. I've been to Hawaii before, you know."

"Wait, what? Have you been holding out on me? You never told me about this! Where and when? I need details, Kate, and I need them now." He poured the eggs into the prepped pan while the sausage sizzled on the neighboring burner.

"More layers of the Beckett onion, Castle?" He glanced up from the eggs to grin at her comment.

"Actually, I went with my parents. I was about sixteen at the time." She paused, and he could see her eyes go slightly unfocused while she brought the memory to the surface.

"God Castle, it's so funny, in retrospect. I did not want to go on the trip. I was so mortified about vacationing with my parents. You know, they weren't 'cool' anymore, so God forbid I be seen with them, even if it was practically half-way around the world where no one cared who I was." Kate emphasized the word 'cool' with exaggerated air quotes, the knife she was using still clutched in one hand.

"You were a teen, Kate. You're not supposed to think your parents are cool."

Her smile was sad but genuine. "Yeah, I know. We went to Oahu. Stayed in a cottage on the eastern side of the island in a little community called Lanikai. Besides having to travel with my parents, that was the next strike against them."

Castle looked at her questioningly. "How so?"

"Oh, are you kidding? In my adolescent mind, all of the cool kids and their families went to Honolulu. Waikiki Beach was where all the action was. And all the boys, of course…" she snickered.

"Of course. You were every inch your sixteen years, weren't you?"

"Exactly. And I was horrible, just horrible to them. Ugh, what a brat I was! I refused to sit next to them at the beach. As though that would show them, huh?" She chuckled to herself while she shook her head. "On our third day there, I met a boy at the beach. He was surfing and man-oh-man, was that the bees knees to my sixteen-year-old self." She finished cutting the pineapple into bite-sized pieces and placed them into a painted porcelain bowl.

Castle realized he had a huge grin listening to her, taking in this snippet of her past, of that private life that she guarded so fiercely. Another layer, indeed. "What happened with him?"

"Absolutely nothing. He asked me to meet him down at the beach that night, and my parents caught me trying to sneak out to do just that. They put the kibosh on it, of course, as well they should have, but that was the third strike against them as far as I was concerned. Oh God, I was so incensed, Castle! You should have heard me rant and rave at them. 'You're the worst parents ever! I never get to do anything fun when you're around.' Seriously, I was awful. Just…abysmal."

She shook her head, and when she looked to him again, her smile looked a little watered-down, as though her tale had just taken a turn. "I stayed in my room for almost the whole trip after that. I refused to leave when my parents wanted to go do something. And of course, after my antics with surfer boy, they didn't feel comfortable leaving me alone. So basically, my obstinance stranded them at the house. They'd leave, one or the other to get groceries and such, but that was about it."

Kate paused then, took a deep breath. Castle was plating their eggs and sausage, but she knew he was hanging on her every word. He was simply waiting her out. He knew that there was both joy and pain intertwined with the memory, and he didn't want to push. He wanted the story told her way.

"Toward the end of our stay, I actually started to feel some remorse, to regret my behavior. I would never tell them that, of course."

"Of course."

"I started coming out of my room more, went to the beach a few times. Even helped with meals a few times. That's when my mom taught me how to cut up the pineapple. I remember eating it after dinner that night…God, it was delicious, Castle. I'd never tasted anything like it. I mean, I've eaten some good pineapple over the years, but that one…that one lives on in my memory. I'm sure being in Hawaii had something to do with it."

"Everything tastes better in Hawaii," he replied simply, and set the plates in front of them at the breakfast nook in the kitchen. She spooned some of the pineapple onto his plate, and then onto hers while he retrieved the coffees he had prepared for them.

"That was our last night there. I remember, we spent the evening in the pretty little backyard the house had. They had these tiki torches in a storage shed that we lit, and all these little white lights strung between the trees. I hadn't bothered going out there until that night, and I instantly regretted that I hadn't. It was so beautiful, serene. Like a fairy's garden. And my parents…they never nagged me, never made me feel bad about my behavior. They had worked so hard and spent so much to arrange this wonderful family vacation, and I…"

She stopped then. She realized that she was staring out the window in the nook, the bright airiness of the space reflecting off her face. She sighed and looked over at Castle. He waited her out patiently.

"I never did apologize to them." She lowered her eyes then, taking in the meal before them.

"Kate, you may have been sixteen, but technically you were a child still. You can't torture yourself over the things you did as a child."

"I know. " She smiled at his comforting. "I know that. And the truth is that I never fought with them like that again. I mean, we had our spats here and there, but I was so profoundly ashamed of my behavior on that trip. I wanted so much to be treated like an adult, but I had acted like a spoiled child. They hadn't raised me to behave that way." She paused, and then added, "They were so forgiving of me, you know?"

"Hello? Do you remember to whom you're speaking? I'm amazed that my teenage shenanigans didn't make my mother's hair completely white. Or…you know, maybe they did and that's when she started dying her hair!" His eyes grew comically wide as he tapped a finger on his chin, evidently in deep thought over the matter.

She blurted out a giggle then, grateful for the break in the conversation. She really did love talking about her mom, but it could be draining. He knew that, and he understood. And thankfully, he seamlessly steered them to another topic.

"Eat up, Beckett. You're gonna need your strength today for all that relaxing we're going to do." With that he scooped up a forkful of scrambled egg and dug in.

She took a bite of the pineapple and let the sweet-tart flavor spread over her tongue. She closed her eyes and let out a positively filthy moan.

"Whoa. Kate. Does this pineapple have mystical properties that I'm not aware of?" He forked a wedge of the golden fruit and put it in his mouth. "Oh. Yeah. Yeah, okay, you weren't kidding about it tasting better here. My God…that is divine."

She grinned at him. "Told ya."

After they cleaned up from breakfast, they strolled up and down the nearby residential streets and the nearby major road, taking in the houses and condos, shops and cafés that were scattered across the vivid green landscape. Or at least they did after Castle stopped trying to feel her up while she was putting their plates and utensils into the dishwasher.

It was so tempting. Really, it was. He had wrapped himself around her from behind, his hands against her belly while her own hands swept over the dirty dishes, his heat seeping through her thin t-shirt. But then, he had swept them up her sides and had lightly cupped her breasts, running his talented fingers over the soft material, her nipples hardening almost instantly, and…really, she wanted to seduce him right then and there in the kitchen. After all, vacation sex was neck and neck with make-up sex for the "best sex ever" award. She had almost jumped up on the counter to wrap her legs around him, but she thought better of it. She had plans for him later that may or may not have included the shower. Or the tub. She hadn't made up her mind yet, but the day was still young. They would break in the countertop another time.

They picked up a few random items from some of the shops they encountered while they walked. Castle bought a pair of swim trunks that he insisted were cooler than anything he currently owned. They wandered into a specialty food shop where they bought real Kona coffee, fresh pineapple marmalade, and tasty coconut shortbread cookies, some of which had fruit fillings, while others were dipped in dark chocolate. Kate had admired some simple black pearl and white gold drop earrings at a nearby boutique, and after she shook her head and said "No, I already have too much jewelry I don't wear," Castle immediately had the sales clerk wrap them up for him on the sly. He was determined to spoil her, since he knew she wouldn't spoil herself.

When they returned to the house, they prepared to set off for the beach for the remainder of their lazy afternoon. They threw some refreshments into their bag alongside their reading materials. When they had changed, they covered themselves in sunscreen ("No burns, Beckett! Nothing put a damper on romance like a sun burn!"), scooped up some towels and beach chairs and made their way down to Kahekili Beach.

They had been lazing there for a while, reading and napping in the partial, scattered shade of a nearby palm when Kate suddenly piped up.

"You know Castle, I was wondering…did you and your mother take many vacations when you were a child?"

He looked to her, taking in her appearance. Her two-piece suit wasn't scandalously skimpy or anything, but she looked dynamite in it. A deep, dark ocean blue with silvery embroidered accents along he waistline and her cleavage, with simple strings, knots, and bows holding everything in place. She had pulled her hair into a curly ponytail at the base of her skull and her floppy straw hat sheltered her face.

"Hello? Earth to Castle?" she said teasingly. She may have had big, dark Jackie O-style sunglasses covering her eyes, but didn't need to see her eyes to see the amusement etched into every line of her face.

He stretched and sighed dramatically. "I'd apologize for staring at you, but I'm actually not sorry in the least. You really do look fantastic. Is that a new suit?"

"In fact it is. Just bought it for this trip. I figured, I can't go to the beach in the buff. We're not in the Hamptons, after all."

"Sound logic, of course. But don't forget the Jacuzzi, Beckett. No garments required. You heard Mike last night."

"Oh trust me, I haven't forgotten. Nor have I forgotten that you didn't answer my question about childhood vacations. C'mon, Castle. I told you my story this morning. Quid pro quo."

"Whipping out the Latin, are we? You must be serious then. Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I can tell you honestly that my mother and I never went on vacation."

Wait. What? Kate couldn't believe it. "Really? Not even a short weekend somewhere?"

"Not a one. Really. Well, let me amend that. When I was about three we took the bus to Virginia Beach to visit some of my mother's extended family. I can't conjure any memories of my own about the trip, but over the years, Mother has told me so many stories about it that it's almost like those stories have become my memories. Does that make sense?"

Kate just smiled and nodded her understanding, hoping that her silence would encourage him to continue.

"Of course, as an adult, I can look back and see that my mother did the best she could with what little we had. It was always feast or famine. When she was working and the money was there, she couldn't leave and abandon her job. When she wasn't working, what little money we had went toward our survival."

Kate watched him carefully. The memories weren't bad ones, but she could tell that he hadn't talked about this in a while, if he ever had at all.

"I think she wanted more for me, though. I think she compensated by taking me on adventures around the island. We spent a lot of time exploring parks and museums and theaters. She's the one who took me to the huge main branch of the public library for the first time. We knew where all of the best hot dog and ice cream carts were around town. You know, I really have her to thank for knowing Manhattan so well." he ended softly.

"There's nothing about Martha that's typical, Castle, but she clearly adores you."

"Ha! No, she would be loath to be described as run-of-the-mill. And yes, I know her love for me runs deep. For Alexis, too." After a pause, he added, "And you too, you know."

Kate looked at him questioningly. "Me too, what?"

"My mom loves you. She thinks you're the cat's pajamas, Beckett. She has a great deal of admiration for you."

"Admiration? Really?" She hadn't meant to sound so incredulous, but what would a grand dame like Martha Rodgers admire about her?

"God yes! You're strong and dedicated and passionate. Your chosen occupation couldn't be more different than hers, yet you approach it with the same whole-hearted determination and gusto that she approaches her acting with." He paused then, and quietly added, "And you put up with me. She would love you for that alone."

Kate smile was soft and sweet. "Well, I care about her too. Very much. And Alexis. You have a pretty great family, Castle."

He reached out to tangle his fingers in hers. "We have a great family." he stated with conviction.

She looked down, almost uncomfortable with the intensity of what he was telling her. But she was also eager to learn more about this man, so she spoke up again. "So, when exactly did you go on a legit vacation for the first time?"

"Mind like a steel trap, eh Beckett?" He gave her a sideways grin when she scoffed at his teasing. "Actually, the first real vacation I ever took was with Meredith. Alexis too, but she was just a toddler at the time."

"Really? Where did you go?"

He chuckled. "Prepare your sixteen-year-old self to be jealous, but we went to Oahu…Waikiki, in fact."

"No shit?"

"God's honest truth." But then he paused, and didn't continue.

She suddenly sensed it wasn't exactly a happy story, but she wasn't letting him off the hook. She needed to hear this stuff. They needed to talk about these things.

"And…how was it?"

He thought for a second before he shrugged and said, "Fine. It was fun, actually. Alexis was such a hoot. She had never been to a beach like the ones there and she couldn't get enough of playing in the sand. Every night, that girl was covered in it from stem to stern. When I would drain the bath, there was a sand bar in the bottom of the tub."

Kate laughed at the imagery. "I can imagine. This sand is so fine. It sticks to everything."

"Exactly. But she loved it. And of course, with that red hair of hers, she was so fair, and I was constantly slathering her in sunscreen so she wouldn't burn. Oh! And then she discovered Piña Coladas."

Kate's eyes grew wide with that admission so he quickly continued. "I mean, she wasn't knocking back alcoholic drinks or anything, Beckett. Sheesh! What kind of dad do you take me for?"

She fought the urge to be sappy and tell him that he's one of the best dads she's ever known. "An unconventional one, that's for sure."

"Maybe, but I don't contribute to the delinquency of minors. Actually, Meredith was drinking one on one of the few occasions she went to the beach with us and let Alexis have a sip. She loved it, and she wanted more, of course, so we had to order a virgin drink for her. And I kid you not, she sucked that thing down so fast, to this day I don't know how she wasn't falling over with a serious head freeze."

Kate loved hearing the story about a toddler-sized Alexis, but his comment about Meredith's absence wasn't lost on her. It didn't take a homicide detective to figure out that any discord during the trip was due to their rocky relationship. But she wasn't done pushing.

"What about Meredith?"

"What about her?" His answer was short, but not angry, so she forged ahead again.

"Did you have fun with her on the trip?"

Castle's shoulders drooped almost imperceptibly and he sighed. "Not really. Our marriage was already strained by then. We took the trip in part to spend some time together and work on our relationship, but in the end, I recall barely seeing her. There was always something that prevented her from spending time with Alexis and me. She would have a spa appointment. Or the sun was too intense for her skin. Or she had a headache or some other phantom malady that kept her holed up in the hotel room. It was always 'The restaurant must have served me bad food!' or 'The humidity is making me dizzy!' or something to that effect."

Kate's chest tightened at the obvious sadness that surrounded his memories of the trip. In spite of the friendly truce that she and Meredith had reached earlier that year, she felt a sudden flash of anger at her for treating his tender heart so carelessly. She knew it was ancient history, but Meredith's betrayal and the failure of their marriage had left a lasting impression on him.

She was surprised when he continued without any prompting. "We'd both been so busy during the first years of our marriage; she with her acting career and me with my writing, and Alexis was so little still. We had the money to go but simply hadn't made the effort. And by the time we finally managed to go on that trip, it was too late. She was distancing herself from us. I don't know exactly when her cheating started, but I'm pretty sure it was going on by then. I think she was already making plans to leave."

Kate once again worked to tamp her anger down. It was a futile emotion at this point, and she knew it, but it didn't change the fact that she wanted to rip the woman a new one. Castle had told her about Meredith's infidelity long ago, on a wintry night back in January. They had snuggled under his covers and talked into the wee hours about the serious relationships they had been in over the years. He told her about Kyra, Meredith, and Gina. She told him about Charlie, her first serious boyfriend in college, and about Will and Josh. They left no stone unturned that night. The conversation revealed a lot about their attitudes toward relationships, sex, and love. Some of the memories had been difficult to relive, but in the end it was cathartic.

She knew Castle hadn't told the story looking for sympathy, so she tried to say something…not patronizing. "I'm sorry the trip turned out that way."

"Yeah…yeah." He stopped again. Meredith was certainly no saint, but she was the mother of his daughter. She would always have a presence in his life for that reason alone, and he had no desire to tear her down over events long past. He appreciated the fact that Kate didn't engage in that kind of trash talking, either.

"Guess neither of us had the best vacation experiences on Oahu, huh?"

That made him chuckle, finally. "No, not the best. But honestly, when I think about that trip, I mainly recall having a great time with Alexis. She was the only person I traveled with for years after that. She was always a fun travel companion. We were a well-matched father-daughter team."

"That doesn't surprise me at all. The Piña Colada thing, though…"

He barked a laugh at that. "I know. Be sure to tease her about it when she arrives."

He took off his sunglasses and looked at her then.

"Hey, thank you for being okay with her joining us for a few days, by the way. I know this was supposed to be our vacation, but..."

Kate held up a hand to stop him then. "Castle, stop. I'm thrilled that she could make it work. And we have plenty of time to ourselves in the end. Don't thank me for something that I'm just as pleased about as you."

With that, he just sighed happily, put his sunglasses back on, and reclined back in his chair. "Seriously Beckett? Girlfriend of the year award goes to you."

"I know," she sighed on a grin, and then returned to her Kindle.

They took their time leaving the beach, finally retreating when hunger and thirst intervened. They prepped a simple meal that night: grilled filet mignon with roasted potatoes and a green salad. They dined on the lanai with a bottle of red wine and discussed the merits of eating al fresco and how it seemed to enhance the flavor of the food. Doesn't everything taste better in Hawaii, Beckett? he had asked teasingly, remembering her story about the pineapple. She knew that when it came to her, his memory was unparalleled.

They spent the evening quietly, still shaking off the effects of their jet lag. Castle had brought his media box so with a quick HDMI hookup to the flat screen, they had his entire movie library at their disposal. Kate had never seen "Adjustment Bureau" so they settled on the love story-thriller-mystery. Castle dozed off toward the end, but she let him while she watched on, not worried because he had already seen it. When the credits were finally rolling, she nudged him.

"I'm awake! I'm awake." he shouted, sitting up in an attempt to look alert.

Kate went about turning off the television and the lamps, and then crossed the room to stand before him. She nudged his knees apart and stood in the vee of his legs, reaching down to grab his hands in hers.

"I'm going to take a shower before bed." She had finally made up her mind about the locale of her planned seduction. The bathtub could wait for another day.

Castle just smiled up at her, and his weariness suddenly fell away.

She tilted her head and smiled at him coyly. "You comin'?"

He didn't have to be asked twice.

A/N: My apologies for how long it took to update this story! It was actually about 95% done over a week ago but real life intervened. Hopefully, I can stay more on top of it from here on out. Some of you may notice the distinct lack of smut in this chapter, and all I can tell you is that the smut fairy is not keen on this story being that graphic. What can I say; some stories just don't lend themselves to that content. However, I'm working on a series of episode-related one shots that I hope to publish soon, and that will have plenty of smutty goodness in it, I can assure you. So YAY for smut. Having said all that, thank you again for reading, I hope you enjoyed, and if you feel so inclined, please leave some input for me! Mahalo!