Richard Castle and his new love Katherine Beckett have just spent the better part of a Saturday at the mercy of a throng of his fans.
This book signing is very different from any that Castle has been a part of before. This time he brought Nikki with him and everyone wanted to meet her. At first Kate sat behind Rick but as the early afternoon became the late afternoon they found themselves surrounded by loyal readers who were more than happy to meet the inspiration for Detective Heat
As they wound down the signing, Paula arrived and rushed the two of them out the door so she could get them into a limo and off to their hotel for a quiet evening. The next morning, bright and early they will be on the plane for the trip back to Miami so they could retrieve Castle's car from the long term parking lot at Miami International Airport
Miami International airport is three things. Hot, humid, and busy. Fortunately for Rick and Kate they don't have to be outside of the air conditioning for very long. It will not take them but a very few minutes to gather their bags and take a shuttle over to the long term parking to retrieve Castle's car. The phrase long term that fits perfectly in this situation Castle parked his car there over three weeks ago when he flew to LA for Alexia then he went back to New York. After a few weeks of chasing suspects and embarrassing the FBI over their crime solving inabilities these two went to Houston for the book signing and now they are back to get his car and drive home.
This drive gives the couple an extended amount of time to be alone. The time to sort out some of their issues. Time to discover each other on a newer deeper level. Actually there is very little about them that the other has not already figured out. Anyone who has closely looked at what 'Dating' actually means can see these two have been doing just that from the moment they met. The accepted definition of dating is the act of engaging in some agreed upon social activity in public or private as a couple. That definition fits these two like a glove If someone wanted to dig deep into the lives of this star crossed pair they saw how much time they actually did spend as a couple in social activity. They are more in tune with one another than many couples who have been married for years.
When they exit the shuttle bus they are blasted by the hot, humid Florida sun. Of course with the car sitting in the Florida sun for weeks the inside of the vehicle feels like a dry sauna. Castle starts the engine and cranks the AC to max while they are loading their bags into the trunk as quickly as they possibly can
When Castle originally started this trip he was moving on and away from a hopeless situation. A situation he saw no relief from. Now he just needs relief from the blazing heat
Three weeks have passed since he was originally here alone and now it is the two of them traveling together back up the coast. But before they make it back to the city, Rick has something to show Kate or actually someone to introduce Kate to. This someone will be a surprise for her
He called ahead and made sure it was ok for them to drop by for a visit and he was told that it would be wonderful to have him and Beckett drop by. In fact the hosts were excited to actually meet her
As they enter South Carolina, Kate notices Castle makes a turn off the interstate and begins heading in a direction she doesn't quite understand. They are moving away from the coastal highway toward the interior of the state
"Rick. Where are we going?" She asks with a real question in her voice
"A beautiful place filled with wonder. A place where I found my way" Rick responds
"What do you mean found your way? When were you here?"
"A few weeks ago. I came here and met someone who changed my direction".
This really has Kate wondering what this man has in his head. She trusts him. Totally and completely trusts him, but he can be as much mystery as his books on occasion.
When he turns the car into the circular drive Kate is taken back by the splendor of the home that she is gazing upon. When the car comes to a complete stop, the front door opens and a man appears
"Mr. Castle welcome back" The house manager James Young greets the pair. "Let me get your bags. I believe you know your way to the guest house?"
"Yes, James. Let me introduce you to Detective Kate Beckett from the NYPD" as Castle directs the attention to Kate
"Nice to meet you Ms. Beckett. Mr. Castle the Livingston's are very excited to have you back" James responds to the introduction
The trio walk thru the main house to the rear where Castle moves directly to the guest quarters and opens the door to allow James and Kate to enter. After the bags are placed, Rick thanks James. "I know you two are tired from the long drive dinner is at 7:00 so you two rest up" and he quickly bids farewell to the pair, leaves the cottage, and closes the door
Kate has a thousand questions for Rick "Castle. Where are we, who was that" pointing toward the door that just closed "and whose home is this anyway?"
"Kate, I lost my way a several weeks ago when I thought I had lost you forever and we no longer had a tomorrow together. Then I met someone who helped me. This is their home"
"Who are these people?" Kate is getting more curious by the minute
"Let's just say they are healers and leave it at that. Please wait until after dinner and you will see"
Beckett is not sure that she can wait, but it is evident Castle is not giving any more information right now.
The couple unpacks and grabs a quick shower before laying down for a short nap. Even though they are both horizontal in the same bed, this time they actually do fall asleep instead of other activities
Beckett wakes up when she hears voices coming from outside. She peers out the shutters and sees several couples on the patio milling around. She reaches over to awaken Castle only to see that he is already out of the bed.
"Castle! Who are these people? There are now several couples outside"
"Don't worry. I promise that they don't bite. Let's get ready and go join them"
When Rick and Kate step out to the garden they are acknowledged by several men and women. It is obvious to Kate that Castle has been here before as the calls several by name.
Then a woman appears who causes Kate to feel a throb in her chest
She recognizes the woman immediately. She will never forget how jealous she became when she first saw the photograph of this woman with her arms wrapped around Rick and a smile on her face from, ear to ear
"Rick so glad to see you again" Janice says with her deep southern accent as she wraps her arms around Rick. AGAIN
Kate's immediate thought is 'Who is this woman and WHAT is she doing grabbing my man?'
After the embrace breaks Janice says with glee. "You must be Kate Beckett I am so very glad to finally meet you. You and Rick just visit around. Dinner will be served shortly. You two enjoy"
After Janice walks off, Beckett grabs Castle by the shirt sleeve retreats into a corner where Kate looks at Rick "OK I recognize her. What is this about Castle? She is the woman you posted on your web page"
"Janice AND her husband gave me direction, so I wanted you to meet the couple that opened my eyes and showed me the error of my ways"
Kate is still confused by Castle's comment "Trust me Kate. You will see soon enough"
James steps out to the patio and announces "Dinner is served"
Inside at the table Kate and Rick are seated together opposite Janice .Hank is again placed at the head of the table
The meal is every bit as satisfying as his first meal with these wonderful hosts. Again the after dinner discussion is Castle's books but this time a large amount of the focus is on Kate and her alter ego, Nikki.
Kate is not intimidated with these fans as Rick had told her. They respect him and his stories
As before the evening winds down and the two couples are all that remain.
"Rick, I am so glad you came back and even more delighted to finally meet Kate" Hank is being very complimentary toward Beckett
"Janice, Hank I want you two to know something. My first visit here was an eye opener for me. When I was here I had just left New York not expecting to ever see this woman ever again" Rick looks at Kate
"The story of the struggles you two encountered brought me to my senses when it came to do with this woman beside me" Castle pulls Beckett even closer
"Janice would you mind re telling your story for Kate?" Castle requests
These two repeat the story of how they almost didn't come together. The near misses and almost break ups and finally the story of Janice's son in the hospital that finally brought the couple to where they are now.
Rick looks over to Kate who has been totally silent during this tale of lost love but her eyes are filled with tears
"Hank, you telling me how you were afraid, how you couldn't find the words to tell Janice how you felt, reminded me of myself. I decided when I left here that I would find Kate and confess my feelings and face whatever fallout she choose to dispense because I thought I had no chance with her. But I would at least be honest with her"
Castle turns and looks at Kate
"I don't want to wait any longer" Castle takes a deep breath and slowly lets it out waiting for Beckett's response
"Kate Beckett. I love you today and have loved you for years. There I said it. If you want to leave, you can, but at least there is no question about how I feel"
Kate has pure love in her face for Castle. He can see it and so can their hosts
"Rick I love you too and I have felt this for a very long time as well"
"Roy gave you a week off. I don't want us to ever miss another tomorrow so…"
As Richard Castle turns to face Beckett he moves down to the ground
"Katherine Houghton Beckett I need to ask you something…"
Thanks to everyone who read my story.
Until ? ? ?