Disclaimer: I don't own Castle or any of the characters.

A/N: I am so very sorry about the huge delay for this. I've been getting schoolwork thrown at me left and right and when I was planning to write over winter break, I ended up getting really sick so was unable to. Here's the next chapter (finally).

Oh my God, she thought.

"Katherine Houghton Beckett, will you—" Rick began.

"No," she interrupted.

"No?" He looked startled

"No!" she practically shouted.

"You don't even know what I was going to ask you!" the man exclaimed.

"You were just about to ask me to marry you, right?" she asked.

Rick looked confused. "Marry you? No, of course that wasn't what I was about to say. We just met!"

Kate's brow furrowed. "Well then what were you going to say?"

"I was going to ask you to come live with me in my Palace in Hamptons," he informed her. He saw her jaw drop slightly. "It's kind of a big move so that's why I said I could change our lives forever." He paused then asked, "Why did you think I was proposing to you?"

She lifted an eyebrow and pointed down at his still kneeling self. "Gee, I don't know. Wherever did I get that idea from?" she said, the sarcasm evident in her voice.

The Prince looked down and his cheeks turned red. "Oh, yeah. I can kind of see where the confusion might have occurred." He stood up and brushed off a little bit of dirt from his pants. "I'm serious about the suggestion, though, Kate."

"About me moving to Hamptons with you?"

"Yes."

She sighed. "Rick, as nice as that sounds, how can I just give up my parents like that?"

"Kate, I'm not asking you to give up your parents."

"But you're asking me to choose between you and them," she replied.

"No," he told her. "I would never ask that of anyone. But, love, there comes a time when every woman has to decide when she wants to move out of her childhood home and be with a man. As you and I both well know, most girls are out of the house at the age of 17 and, while you haven't told me your age specifically, I know for a fact that you are well over that number."

Kate was quiet for a moment before she spoke. "Did you just call me 'love'?"

"Oh, did I?" Rick made an apologetic face. "Sorry about that. I kind of just slipped out."

She smiled softly. "It's okay, I don't really mind it."

"Well, in that case, darling, dear, baby, sweetheart—"

"No!" she protested. "No 'sweetheart.' My mother calls me that and so it would just be weird and awkward."

"That's alright," he told her. "There are still plenty of—"

She put a finger over his lips to silence him. "Okay, just because I said I didn't mind one name, doesn't mean that you can use them all the time. Agreed?"

He nodded his head and then stuck his tongue out to touch her finger. "Gross! Did you just lick me?" she asked with disbelief.

His smile was his only response.

"Unbelievable," she muttered. "It's like I'm dealing with a five year old."

She was busy drying her finger on her dress and didn't notice when Rick leaned in whispered seductively, "I know for a fact that you don't mind me licking you at all."

Kate's breath hitched slightly, remembering how much she'd enjoyed it when his lips kissed and sucked along her neck and chest.

"I'm pretty certain, though, that there are a few other places I'd like to try licking you as well."

He was being very bold in his innuendos and comments tonight and she wasn't sure if she liked it or not. From the way desire began coursing through her veins, she was almost positive that she did indeed like it.

Rick leaned in and let his lips just barely graze hers. Just when she thought he was going to actually kiss her, he said, "You never did answer my question, though." He took a step back and left her wanting his mouth on hers.

"Huh?" she asked dazedly.

"You never answered my question from earlier. Would you be willing to move to Hamptons with me so that we can be together?"

Clearing her head, Kate told him, "I honestly don't know, Rick. I don't know if I could just leave my parents like that. York has been my home all my life and I just don't know if I can say that I'm ready to leave it so soon."

"I understand," he said. "I knew that it would be a tough decision for you so take as much time as you need to figure out your answer. And whatever you choose, just know that it won't change how I think or feel about you. I respect and admire you, Kate Beckett and that, I don't think, will ever change."

She looked down sheepishly. "Thank you, Rick."

"You're very welcome." They lapsed into silence for a couple minutes when Rick spoke again. "We should probably begin heading back soon. They'll be wondering where we disappeared to."

Kate hesitated. "Or we could, you know…stay here for a little bit and I could possibly get that kiss you've been robbing me of all night."

"Katherine Beckett, are you suggesting what I think you're suggesting?" he said with mock indignation.

The brunette took a step closer to him and bit her bottom lip. "I don't know. What do you think I'm suggesting?"

Rick swallowed hard. His blue eyes turned darker and he managed to say, "I think you're suggesting something that could be quite…improper."

Kate placed her palms flat on the Prince's broad chest and ran them up and down lightly. "Now, in the time you've know me, when have I ever been one for being proper?" Her face was mere inches from his.

His voice was several octaves lower than usual. "Never," he said, then sealed his mouth over hers. Their mouths danced together in perfect synchronization. Their tongues coming out to wrestle sensuously. Rick placed a hand on her cheek and caressed it while they kissed.

A bench was nearby and Rick walked them backwards toward it. Sitting down firmly on the seat, he dragged Kate into his lap. She bunched up her dress, not caring about ruining it in the slightest bit, and straddled him. If anyone were to find them in this position right now, there would be complete scandal and they'd both be utterly humiliated to no end. Somehow, though, neither party could find it in them to care.

Rick was concerned about one thing, though. A muffled "Kate" came out and she parted from his lips only to move down to his neck. "Kate," he gasped. "Your father. He said—"

Kate removed herself from his neck and grabbed his face in her hands, forcing him to stare at her. "Never mention my parents or anyone else again while we're doing things like this. And my father said that he never wanted to find out that we were doing this. Are you going to tell him?"

The Prince vehemently shook his head.

"Good. Because I'm certainly not going to tell him. This way, he'll never know." And with that, she reattached her lips to his neck and he groaned.

"What are the odds that someone will come out here and spot us?" he wanted to know.

"Slim to none," she responded against his skin. After saying that, she felt one of his hands reach around and tangle in her hair. He inhaled sharply as she sucked on a spot on his throat.

Grazing her teeth lightly against the spot, she almost laughed when he moaned with need. The hand that wasn't currently in her hair, slid around to her back and began stroking it. Kate's hips suddenly shifted and the man under her gasped loudly.

"Jesus, Kate. You shouldn't do that or we'll end up doing something that I know we actually can't do."

"Whatever do you mean?" she asked innocently as she rolled her hips against his again.

Rick gritted his teeth as Kate bit her lip. Her toying with the Prince had backfired slightly considering it was now affecting her as well. She framed his face with her hands and smashed their lips together. The kiss was raw and filled with passion and with want and need.

Rick broke apart and his mouth found a spot underneath her left ear. Swiping away the hair that was his barrier, his teeth came out to play and he bit her skin—not enough to break it, but just enough to cause a long, throaty moan to be released from the woman. Drifting down to her chest, and peppering kisses on her along the way, he planted one at the top of the valley between her breast. But that was all he did. He didn't take it any further.

"Rick," she groaned. "What's wrong? Why did you stop?"

"Kate, we can't do this." Gazing up into her desire-filled eyes, he told her, "You may've thought that I was a woman-charmer when you first met me, and yes, I was. But I respect you too much to perform these intimate acts with you before marriage."

"My body is mine to give, Rick. What if I was okay with giving it to you before marriage?" she asked.

"Then I would be completely flattered and in awe that you would make a decision like that. But I still feel like I wouldn't be able to do this with you until marriage."

She hopped off his lap, pulled her dress down, then placed her hands on her hips. One of her eyebrows quirked up. "And what if I don't want to get married?"

That threw him for a loop. What if she didn't want to get married? He was a prince and an heir to a throne; he had to get married. It didn't matter to whom he got married, just that he did. His own mother was a commoner who helped to put on plays until she met his father one day. They fell in love and she ended up becoming Queen to his King. What would Rick do if Kate didn't ever want to marry him?

"Well, uh…do you? Ever want to get married, I mean," he replied.

"You know, up until recently, no, I didn't. Most of the men at Court are pigs and jackasses. They don't care the slightest bit about the woman they just married. I could name maybe three couples who are the exception."

"So what changed?" he asked.

Her eyes locked with his. "I met you," she told him quietly.

"If that's so, then why did you immediately reject me earlier when you thought I was proposing?"

"Just because I may want to marry you doesn't mean I want to do it now. Like you said, we just met not too long ago and we still hardly know each other that well. Maybe one day, we can revisit this discussion about marriage, but for now, I just want to enjoy being with you," she said.

Looking around the surrounding area, Rick spotted what he had been searching for. "Wait right here," he instructed. Jogging a distance away, he bent down to pick something up, then calmly walked back to her, holding what he'd picked up behind his back.

"What did you just get?" she inquired. Curiosity shone in her hazel hues.

He revealed what was behind his back: a purple iris. "The iris, like many flowers, can have a variety of meanings. Among them are wisdom, valor, faith…and promise in love." He offered the flower to her. "Hope is also part of the iris's symbolization which is why I give this to you now.

"I have hope that one day, be it far in the future or relatively soon, you will want to marry me. I have hope that you will want to spend the rest of your life with me. I have hope that one day you will come to love me…as I have come to love you." He heard her sharp intake of breath, but pushed onward. "I know it's soon and we are, indeed, moving a bit fast in our relationship, but I give you this flower—this iris—to pledge my promise in love to you. This iris is the embodiment of how I feel about you right now, Kate. You need not say anything about love back to me until you are ready, and I also promise to never bring it up unless you say so."

Tears welled up in her eyes and Kate fought hard to keep them back. It was no use, though, as a couple spilled out onto her cheek. Rick reached up and wiped them away. She'd always wondered how this man could make her feel like no one else ever had. He spoke to her in a way that made her feel cherished and beautiful. He cared for her deeply—that much was evident from what he just admitted to her.

"You know I never used to cry this much before I met you," she informed him.

His face scrunched up in confusion. "Is that a bad thing or…?"

"One time, it was a bad thing. But any other time now, it's been a good thing."

"Oh, okay," he said with his disarming smile.

"You were right, though. It's too soon for me to say that I love you because frankly, I don't know if I do. It's hard for me trust people, Rick, so it may be some time before I can even admit it to myself when I love you."

"And that's alright. You don't have to explain yourself to me," he said. They lapsed into silence for a moment before he added, "Did you just say that I was right about something?"

"Shut up," she replied, immediately walking off, beginning the trek back to the Palace.

"You did, didn't you?" he asked smugly, a smirk appearing on his face. "Katherine Beckett said that I, Richard Rodgers, was correct. Write that one down for the history books."

"Would you just—wait you're last name is 'Rodgers'?"

"Wow, you really know nothing about the kingdom that neighbors you, huh?" he joked.

"I don't particularly concern myself with the affairs of others," she answered quickly. "Now answer the question."

"Yes, my last name is Rodgers. Is that a problem?"

"No, not really. I just realized that, before you said it, I never actually knew what your last name was." She paused. "And speaking of names, how the hell did you know my middle name?"

He paled slightly. "I'm sorry?"

"How did you know what my middle name was?" she repeated. "I never tell it to anyone."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Yes, you do. Earlier, you said, 'Katherine Houghton Beckett' so I'm going to ask only once more: how do you know that?" Her eyes narrowed dangerously.

Rick gulped and murmured something under his breath.

"I'm sorry, repeat that," she demanded.

He said it again, but his words were still indiscernible.

"Rick!" she barked.

"Alright, alright. I said 'Javier Esposito told me'." The Prince looked down at his feet, ashamed.

"And why did he tell you that?" Kate's voice was scarily low and calm.

"Because…I asked him to tell me," he replied guiltily. "I don't see the big deal, it's just a name."

"It's not that big a problem, really, I just don't like others knowing it due to the fact that I think it's an ugly name."

"It's a beautiful name, Kate. It's intriguing and unique, just like you." She gave him a look and he continued, "No, I'm serious. It's a perfect fit for you."

She thanked him then asked, "What's your middle name?"

"Alexander," was the response.

Kate thought it over. "Hmm, a strong name meaning defender or protector of men….Nope, doesn't fit you at all," she teased.

"Hey!" he protested. "I'll have you know that I'm very strong. I can lift you, can't I?" As soon as he said those words, he knew they should've never left his mouth. He clamped his lips together and his eyes went wide with fear.

Kate's jaw dropped and disbelief was written across her features. "Did you just call me fat?"

"No! Of course not! I, uh, I didn't mean to—I just meant that—you, uh….yeah, I'm dead," he finished lamely. "Please don't kill me."

The woman in front of him closed her mouth. Eventually, she spoke. "You know how you said that you write anytime you find inspiration? Well you'd better break out a pen because your new inspiration might strike you sooner than you think."

"I was told once that my lack of filter one day is going to get me beaten up. I just never thought that the gorgeous woman I'm courting would be the one to do it," he replied.

She lifted an eyebrow, unimpressed. "Uh uh, don't think that's going to get you out of this one, Rick."

He sighed. "Fine…but you're still gorgeous. Have I told you that tonight?"

"Yes, a million times already. You know, if you say it enough it might lose it's meaning and purpose," she said.

"Not when it comes to you."

"Well, aren't you just a smooth-talker tonight?" she asked sarcastically. "Come on." She gestured towards the path they'd used to walk to the fountain. "We have to get back to the ball before our absence is really noticed. We've been here too long already."

As she spun around, her hair flipped over her shoulder and Rick called, "Wait!"

She sent him a questioning look. "What now?"

He approached her and pulled some of her hair back. "Oh no."

"What is it?"

"Now, Kate, before I tell you this you have to promise not get angr—"

"Rick, just tell me what the hell is wrong!" she shouted.

He took a breath. "You, uh…when I bit your neck earlier, I kind of maybe sort of…left a mark."

"You're fucking with me, right?"

Startled, alarmed, and a little bit turned on by the use of such heavy language, Rick didn't know what to say. He was genuinely speechless, and slightly afraid for his life.

"Rick, please tell me this is your idea of a cruel, cruel joke," she begged. He shook his head. "Damn it, Rick! How could you leave a mark?"

"Well, I'm sorry. I was kind of preoccupied with what you were doing with your hips!" he fired back.

She huffed. "Yet you had the presence of mind to stop in the middle of it all just a minute later!"

Both were breathing heavily and glaring at each other. It was Rick who interrupted their staring contest by suddenly bursting into laughter. After a few seconds, Kate joined him, both laughing for some unknown reason yet neither were able to stop. It took a couple minutes for them to calm down.

"Why did we just laugh like that?" Kate asked him, still holding her sides.

"I have no clue. I guess it was just one of those things where you laugh when you don't know what to do next," he suggested.

"Perhaps," she acquiesced. "We really do have to get back, though, as much as I would like to stay here with you."

"I know, me too." He offered his arm, but Kate linked their hands instead.

As they began their walk back to the Palace, she remarked, "I can't believe you gave me a love bite."

I don't know how I feel about this one. I've had a little bit of writer's block so I kind of almost had to force this chapter out. Tell me what you think and feel free to leave any advice or criticism you have. They really help me to keep writing and stay on track. Thank you!