Let the bough break, let it come down crashing...

"Well fine it's settled then." He states, angry now.


"I'll do the other book." He clarifies.

"Great." She grunts the word, attacks it as if she hates it. Hates him.

"Enjoy the party."

"Thanks, I will."

Castle leans in close, sees the flame in her eyes, the anger that makes her glow and shimmer. Indignant. Gorgeous. Fucking aggravatingly distracting.

She's still talking. He wants to shut her up with his mouth. Then he wants to use it to make her scream.

She arrives in a skin tight dress and acts shocked that he calls her extraordinary, shy even, and then happily casts him aside telling him to run off and write spy novels.

What the fuck, Beckett?

"You know what, just as well, because there really wasn't enough to the character of Nikki Heat for more than one novel anyway." He glowers, wanting to press her buttons, get under her skin, under that damn electric blue dress that is messing with his ability to focus.

She's sensuous, all curves and clinging material. Sex on legs and he can see every inch of them. He wants to leave an indelible ink trail with the heat of his tongue, from ankle to hip. He wants to hear her hiss as he licks his way up and up and up.

"Oh, there's plenty to the character." She throws back, an evil little smile on her lips, "She just needs a better writer."

"Fine." He bites out, when what he means is what the actual fuck? Better writer? Good luck finding someone who can read you the way I can, Beckett!


They turn in opposite directions and his skin is on fire, hot annoyance like acid through his veins and - it stuns him - he's hurt.

Yes, okay that hurt, her words fucking hurt. Better writer? He thought she liked - fuck why does it matter what she likes?

Because you like her. The stupid little voice at the back of his mind that sounds suspiciously like Paula strikes up again.

That's one hell of a love letter you wrote her.

It's not a love a letter.

He palms his neck, flips three buttons and still can't find relief. Castle heads for the bathroom wanting less eyes on him as he digests her words, to splash some water on his skin.

He's not in love with her.

He slams the door behind him, flips the faucet and fills the sink with ice cold water.

He can't be in love with her.

Then why does it hurt that she wants a better writer?

"Shut up." He hisses into the empty room, stall doors all wide and reflected in the mirror he stares into, deliberately avoiding his own eyes.

Empty, thank god, because the last thing he needs is rumors spreading he's lost his mind. Talking to himself in the Men's Room? He needs that on page six like a hole in the head.

And he's already playing up the bad boy image by acquiescing to Paula's last request.

"Don't shave, Rick. Boost your sales."

What does it matter if he boosts his sales if he's dropping Nikki for a more lucrative offer?

Why does it burn that he won't get to hear her story, let alone tell it?

Not Nikki's story. Beckett's.

That's one hell of a love letter you wrote her.

Oh, fuck. He's in love with her? Is he? Is that was this is?

He's followed other women, researched and had muses far more willing and cooperative before, but none of them have gotten under his skin the way she has. None of them have gone out of their way to make him toe the line.

She doesn't give up, she doesn't cave. She doesn't take his crap. But she does make him earn every damn half inch he gains.

He likes that. Likes her. Does that mean it's love?

Right now he's just pissed off. She's so - beautiful? - frustrating.

He growls and the door behind him slams open, rebounds and slams shut so fast he's almost convinced he imagined it.

Except she's standing there -


- framed in the doorway with blistering rage burning over her crimson cheeks and cascading down between her breasts.

Her chest is dancing up and down as she fights to breathe. Her lips are narrow white lines, written in anger, and her eyes burn into his reflection viciously.

If she's armed, he's screwed.

Then she flips the lock and he turns, his own anger back and hitting boiling point, confusion fast on its heels. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

She levels him with a look, floors him with the naked intent written in that mishmash of brown and green. She takes him down like a suspect with just the flash of her eyes and the way she drops her hands to her hips.

And then she's moving.

When she reaches him she smiles and he knows he's done for. He's not even sure he wants to survive whatever she's got planned.

Beckett drives him back into the wall and nudges a knee between his legs and runs the heel of her stiletto up the back of his calf. She coils herself around him like a snake, every soft groove and hard edge perfectly aligning with its counterpart on his own body.

He can feel the heat of her radiate through the skintight material of her dress.

She wets her lips, breathes his name and pushes her tongue into his mouth. Her eyes wide open and staring into his the entire time.