“Everything was delicious, Martha,” Kate says, setting down her fork with a satisfied sigh.
“And will be for days to come,” Castle says, casting a pointed look at the serving dishes spread across the table.
“Not the way you eat, it won’t,” his mother shoots back without missing a beat. “Mark my words; he’ll be down here at god-only-knows in the morning eating that artichoke dip with a spoon.”
“I’m a growing boy,” Castle says with a grin as he rises and begins to clear the table. When Kate moves to help, he immediately waves her off. “Alexis and I have got this.”
Kate settles back into her chair and sips her wine, letting the soft strains of the jazz tune playing on the stereo wash over her. Even so, she can feel Martha's watchful gaze on her, as it has been throughout dinner, and isn’t surprised when, after a few minutes spent in companionable silence, the red head leans forward and asks, “Can I give you a piece of advice?”
Castle’s mother casts a glance at the kitchen, where father and daughter are currently elbow-deep in soapy dishwater, before getting up and moving to sit beside Kate at the dining table. “The next time a nosy, albeit well-intentioned, Grande Dame makes the mistake of stealing your moment, tell her to take a hike.”
Kate hides the embarrassment she feels heating her cheeks behind her glass of Bordeaux. “It was a relief to see that everyone was in one piece. When that bomb went off I – we – assumed the worst.”
“Oh so did we, dear. So did we. Even Richard had his doubts.”
Martha nods. “I think he’s seen one too many close calls this past year not to believe that the unthinkable may actually come to pass.”
Intended or not, Kate feels her heart sink at the mild rebuke she hears in the elder woman’s words. “Martha, about this summer; I never meant to—”
“Of course you didn’t,” Martha interrupts with a wave of her hand. “You are many things, Katherine Beckett, but cruel is certainly not one of them.”
“But I was. I didn’t intend to be, but…I just couldn’t see any other way to get past what had happened.”
“Kate, you don’t owe me an explanation.”
Beckett glances at Castle, watches the easy way he laughs with his daughter as they work together in tandem. “I know.”
Martha reaches out to take Kate’s hand in hers. “He understands, you know. And he’ll wait. For as long as you need him to.”
No more than a whisper, the words tumble from Beckett’s lips before she can stop them. “He shouldn’t have to.”
“Maybe not,” Martha concedes without an ounce of accusation or bitterness. “But I saw the way he looked at you looked in that bank today. More importantly, I saw the way you looked at him. And something tells me that whatever the future holds will be worth the wait.”
“Because bullet or not, no one walks away from something like what happened in that cemetery unscathed.” Martha gives Kate’s hand a final squeeze. “You aren’t the only one who needs time to heal,” she murmurs, pulling away as Castle comes up beside them and reaches for his wine glass.
“So, what’d I miss?”
“What you missed darling, is dessert. I bought ice cream.” She quickly shoos Castle back into the kitchen with a wave of her hand. “There are some things in life one simply should not wait for,” she calls after him while giving Kate a conspiratorial wink. “And chocolate gelato is one of them.”