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Bones in the Forest

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Chapter 1 - Death of a hit man

Billy Benson sat on an upturned milk crate. He unconsciously twiddled his thumbs. He contemplated the situation.

Waiting, waiting, waiting. Constant tick, tick, tick.

This was the final morning he would have to watch and wait and be patient. There had been too many delays, whether planned or unexpected that had left him with a limited number of days in which to put an end to the job. His schedule buffer, based on the premise that there is always enough time to do it right, had been exhausted. So in effect the task needed to be finalised that morning. It was time to move on. It was the morning he was to do it. His instincts had settled and he was ready.

He gazed around the basic one bedroom apartment as a way to maintain the calm and concentration his task would require. Without the comfort of furniture and personal belongings, the apartment was devoid of homeliness. The living room was a dim area regardless of the amount of natural light available. Lit only by the spill of city lights through the sliding glass balcony door the room was cast with long eerie shadows. The air was always chilly and humid. The walls throughout needed a coat of paint, the floor new carpet and the bathroom was in grave need of renovation, but he didn’t care. He picked up his coffee cup from the floor and took a sip of it to check its temperature.

Arrrhhh, it was good.

He slurped a mouthful through the hole in the lid and savoured the rich blend of beans. Like most people he too needed a stimulant every day to wake him up. Coffee did it for him. He also needed steady hands. One cup of coffee was good. Two would be too much.
Benson checked his watch.

Still too early. With a glance at the windows he saw it was also predawn. Not quite there. But time was fast approaching for him to prepare.

Billy cast a quiet gaze down his attire. He was dressed as in black cotton hoodie and jeans and work boots. Nondescript clothing because he needed to be able to slip discreetly into the background to escape the scene unnoticed. Any witnesses who would speak to the police wouldn’t mention him as he would be hidden in the shadows. The invisible man was his ideal.

He reached to and picked up his cell phone that was receiving any audio the surveillance bugs transmitted was on the floor between his feet not picking up much. The apartment across the road had audio bugs installed in every room. Presently the smart phone was only receiving the intermittent sounds of two people sleeping. One of them occasionally snored. Benson knew it wasn’t the visitor who snored.

It was time to prepare.

Benson rose effortlessly from the milk crate, left his phone on it and stepped closer to the open sliding glass door to study the apartment across the way. It was still in darkness. If all went according to plan, in another few minutes the bedroom light in the apartment would come on. Like every other morning, Billy would hear his target rise out of bed to face another day. He would use the bathroom as he mumbled whatever thoughts came into his mind. After two months of listening and observing, Billy knew this guy inside out. The audio bugs planted throughout the apartment had been more than enough for Billy to familiarise himself about how this man ticked. Following him about had taught him a lot more. He had his evidence, his justification for the taking the man’s life.

While he waited Billy mentally stepped through the procedures he planned to follow from the moment he stepped out on to the balcony to the second he would use the rifle to terminate the target. The second portion of the plan was to retreat inside the apartment, disassemble the rifle into its nondescript case and walk from the apartment for the final time. It was a simple assignment that had taken surveillance, planning, patience and time. It would all be over in a matter of minutes and once it was over, he could commence the new stage of his life.

As he drank the coffee, and right on schedule, the bedroom light came on.

The target was awake.

A smirk spread over Benson’s face in partial amusement at the predictability and timeliness of the occupant. In exactly eight minutes the mark would be on his treadmill for his daily run. Benson had been timed and jotted down the habits of this man on numerous occasions.
He waited.

Minutes later, Benson tipped what was left of the coffee down his throat in gulps then did away with the empty take out cup by tossing it into the duffel bag that he would take with him with he left the apartment. He listened to the target move about the apartment and get ready to exercise. Benson felt a light buzz of anticipation inside his gut. He welcomed than feeling. It was almost time.

Benson stepped over to the kitchen counter carrying the duffel bag that he placed beside a carry case that had been left open. Closed, there was no clue the case stored a weapon. He removed the blue latex gloves form his hands. He habitually wore gloves while he moved about the apartment but disliked wearing them when he assembled the weapon. He tucked the used gloves inside the main compartment of the duffel bag and pulled out a fresh pair from a box. He dropped them on the counter ready to put on in a minute.
He ran the zipper around it, folded it back to lie flat, and proceeded to move smoothly through the assembly and loading of the weapon with practised certainty. Thirty seconds later he had the rifle assembled, function checked, loaded, and ready for action. He left the case in place on the table so he could reverse the process just as quickly when he was done with the weapon.

Benson once again talked himself through the steps like a chorus of a song. Over and over in his head. He had to successfully evacuate the apartment before the police showed up. Leave nothing behind. The decibel level of the two shots he planned to use would be enough to wake most of the local residents with a jumpy start to their day. Once they realised what had occurred he would be dissembling the weapon. By the time the cops arrived, Billy knew he would be walking back to the hotel room to pack up and drive out of the city.

He glanced at his watch then looked across the street. It was time to undertake his job. Through the window he could just see a light come on in the adjacent room that had been converted to a small gym. The man that Billy had been following, watching and spying on for the past two months entered the room right on schedule.
From a side pocket of his duffel bag, Billy brought out a worn photograph of a beautiful young brunette woman in her early twenties. He stared at it for several seconds. “This one is for you baby girl. I will find you,” he whispered and returned the photo to the pocket.

Benson pulled on the second pair of blue latex gloves and with his rifle held low in his right hand he walked to the balcony. He fully slid open the balcony doorway and stepped out. After a quick survey of the street and other apartments to be sure he wasn't being watched or seen he stepped to his right to the railing. For several seconds he stared at the man in the apartment. For a brief moment he felt pity for the man who had woken that morning for the last time. It was only brief moment. The target had been completely dehumanized for Benson a long while ago. He deserved to be put down with an absence of any emotional response that would normally occur after the loss of a life.

Benson inhaled deeply, quietened his mind, refocussed. He made every effort to slow his respiration and heart rate. All thoughts were purged from his consciousness but for the mission he was committed to. He adhered to the procedures he'd been trained to do that would place him in the zone, the perfect state of arousal that heightened his physical and mental awareness. Nothing else mattered right now.

There was one problem, one challenge that was threatening job he was about to do. He took another step to the right closer to the balcony railing. Two days earlier Billy’s target had upgraded his treadmill and the guys who had installed it had moved his gym equipment about a quarter of a metre to their right. It was only when Billy had attempted to take out his target yesterday morning that he had discovered the problem. The vital target zone on his target on the new treadmill was further concealed by a main branch of the damn tree between the two apartments. Billy had heard his target declare he was extremely happy with his new purchase, unbeknown to him it had given him another day of life. He was better protected by the tree right outside the apartment Billy stood in. From Billy’s perspective there was only one way around the problem.

Antonio Perri limbered up and stretched his muscles in preparation for his predawn run on the treadmill. He would run for thirty minutes. He had no idea that he was being watched as he shook out his limbs and stretched his sleepy muscles. In fact he was oblivious to the fact that for the past eight weeks he had been followed nearly every day and night. Keen to put some more miles on his state of the art running machine, he stepped on it. He paused a moment to familiarise himself with the console. It was quite nifty. It had a standard monitor he could use as a TV or computer, he could plug his MP3 player into it and upload songs to it or could rest a book or tablet on it if he wished. He commenced to fiddle with the console by hitting the large green start button, a little excited about playing and running. The screen installed on the console sparked to life. He smiled. He liked to watch the morning program before he went to work so he thought he would go with that.
The treadmill commenced at a walking pace that Tony soon increased to a jog.

Shielded by the early morning predawn darkness, Billy swung his right leg over the railing of the balcony to get a better angle to the apartment to his left. He no longer heard what was going on in the apartment because the phone was inside. He now only relied on his sight.

He observed the target who was at a slow jog and would be running inside five minutes. Personally, Billy didn’t understand Perri’s fetish for running so early. If Billy was in Perri’s shoes he’d be in bed still tapping the girlfriend, not playing on a treadmill. But he couldn’t understand most of his sick fetishes. The man was pure evil and so was the woman he slept with.

He reminded himself to not lose his concentration. He knew he had approximately 28 minutes to hit the target and he needed to get the job done before it was light, before people were out of bed which reduced his time to about eight minutes. Dawn was breaking. That meant time was of the essence.

Once he made the kill shot, he needed those valuable seconds it took for people to wake, to realise what had happened and to run to windows, for him to be able to retreat inside the apartment without being seen. The first few minutes after the shots sounded in the morning air and echoed of the buildings there would be chaos in every apartment. That would result in occupants phoning police and trying to see the action. He felt a little impatience creep into him that the tree prevented an easy and clear shot at his target. As a sniper he needed to have a shot to the heart and that wasn’t going to be easy to do.

Billy fiddled with his shoes on the railing to ensure his footing was secure. The cold mornings had left mildew on the railing. Footing good he turned his attention to the weapon.
He set the selector lever semiautomatic. He lifted the M4 carbine to his right shoulder to the place it felt snug. There were ten rounds in the rifle. He needed to use a maximum of two in order to achieve his goal: one round, the one in the chamber to break the glass, the second round to expand and destroy Perri’s heart. One more direct check at Perri to ensure he was still in a steady jog on the treadmill.

The rifle was poised and Billy was ready, but the angle of the shot was compromised by the large branch more than it had been the day before. Benson had decided weeks ago to wait for the fall, for deciduous leaves to die and drop from the tree. That would enable him to obtain the best view but it wasn’t a satisfactory position he was in. Billy had made the compromises to work through the challenges.

He had been hired for a new job and needed to start on that lucrative contract within the next three days across the country. Finances were low and needed to be topped up fast. He lowered the rifle and wriggled closer to the corner of the balcony. He courageously leaned right over the bar. With his body balanced precariously over the edge of the balcony, the rifle was lifted back up to position against his shoulder. He aimed at the target. Billy Benson had Antonio Perri in his cross hairs, his finger lightly on the trigger. He slowly, deeply inhaled and exhaled to slow his heart. He kept his hand steady, his balance perfect. He needed to just lean out a little farther.
Billy stretched that little bit more. As he re-adjusted his aim on his target’s chest, Benson’s right boot slipped on the railing. He over corrected. The sole of his shoe completely lost its grip. He fought to regain his footing but used too much strength. His body swayed outward. His arms flailed, flinging the rifle forward and to his left toward the tree.
Unable to regain his balance, Billy Benson fell three floors flailing to his death when his head met the concrete sidewalk with a loud pop.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2 - Attend the site

The noise of the iPhone ringing didn’t arouse a soul in the master bedroom that was in unusual disorder. The area near the walk in robe resembled a disaster area. It was as though it had exploded outward tossing clothing everywhere. In reality Kate had done it getting ready to go out the day before.
After Kate had finally satisfied her fetish with the karaoke game at about 10.00 pm and Castle had given her an almighty standing ovation, they had dropped into bed intoxicated and full to the brim with gourmet food. Their Sunday had been busy with social engagements from morning to evening. It had been filled with significant fun. Too exhausted last evening, Castle and Beckett had discarded the clothes they had worn over the furniture and the end of the bed. There were also bits scattered on the floor between the office and bedroom.
With their energy fully depleted the second their heads had met with the pillows they had immediately passed out.
The noise of their combined snoring would have woken anyone else staying in the loft that night. Rick’s was throaty deep and long and Kate’s was more of a light purr. Their sleep was undisturbed until one of the iPhones began to shrill over the noise of the snoring. It was realistically a surprise that either of them managed to hear it they were in such a deep state of slumber. Closer to the phone, it was Castle who gradually came to. At first he thought the ring was a part of his dream. More conscious, more aware he realised it was a phone. Reality soon homed in on his senses. The idea it could be Alexis wanting him brought him to a light state of consciousness, when the sense of pain also began to work. Then he realised it was Kate’s ringtone that pierced his ears with its annoying whistles. A throbbing headache was becoming evident. He moaned. The damn chirpy theme from a TV show she really liked about cops and covert affairs was more than annoying. In another few weeks it would be another embarrassing tune he would have to suffer through.
Castle tried to moisten his dry mouth. There was a bad taste in it and his tongue felt like it had been swapped for an old dry sponge. He was coherent enough to know his brain was already hurting with a pounding headache and the phone was increasingly hurting his brain. It was clearly a hangover.
He needed water. Right now.
The ringtone was relentless and he was sure it was damaging his ear drums. It was excessively loud. He blindly reached for the ringing cell phone to shut it up, feeling for the vibration. He blindly slid his thumb across the bottom of the screen which cut the noise, then brought the phone to his ear clearing his throat.
He croaked out, “Hel…?” He cleared his throat once again. “Hello?” That was better, “Beckett’s voicemail service. Hit one to leave a message for a call back at a more humane hour.” Satisfied with his greeting, he swallowed and moved the phone to his bleary eyes so he could hang up. The flaw in his plan? He wasn’t able to open his heavy eyelids yet.
“Castle!” Ryan squawked, “Wake up, Dude!”
Rick’s nerves jerked at Ryan’s booming voice. He accidentally dropped the phone on the mattress. He half opened his eyes and tried once again to moisten his mouth before he mumbled, “I’m here.” He found the phone and put it closer to his ear. “I’m here.” He repeated.
“A body has dropped. You and Beckett need to meet us.”
“Seriously?” Castle said then grumbled something incomprehensible and sleepily yawned back into the phone.
“Castle, where’s Beckett? She’ll kill you…”
Castle glanced over his shoulder as he reached clumsily for the water bottle he had spotted on the bedside table. “No, I don’t think she’s in any state to kill me.” He replied as he grasped the bottle, pulled the nipple open then drank thirstily, sucking it noisily. He released the cap, and the bottle crackled as it expanded. “Jesus, that’s loud.”
“Say that in English please.” Ryan requested as Rick once again slurped on the nozzle of the bottle.
Rick pulled back the bottle, “Text us the address. We’ll see you there.” He opened his eyes long enough to disconnect the call, then dropped the phone on the bed forgetting about the dead body for now. As the water hit his stomach he considered having guzzled the water hadn’t been such a good idea. He laid his head back to the pillow and stayed still for a little while to allow his stomach time to get used to it.
His thoughts naturally shifted to catching a few more moments with the woman who slept with him, to doing the things he’d longed to do with her last evening but they had fallen to sleep. Attracted to the thought of having her in his embrace for starters, he rolled over to rouse Beckett from sleep. He slipped his arm around her slim waist and pulled her closer to his body. He lifted the blankets over them.
Kate moaned, “Five more minutes, Babe. I still think I’m gonna die.”
“We don’t have five minutes, Sweetie.”
She frowned because of his use of pet names, “Who was it, Honey?”
Rick made a noise of amusement a smile spreading over his face because she called him honey, “It was Ryan.”
“What did he want?”
“A body has dropped. We have to leave soon.” He sighed when he heard the text message hit her phone. “That’s the address, he’s sent us.”
“Later.” Kate mumbled, “Ssss way too early.” The dull thumping of a hangover headache had already begun in the recesses of her mind.
“I agree.”
“Sleep more, Babe.” She had definitely drunk Castle under the table yesterday. Of all the pains making themselves known inside her body, she noted in particular her throat was severely irritated. She figured she must have taken possession of the karaoke microphone as she had vague recollections of singing before a large audience.
“You were so cute yesterday.” Rick said as he pressed his lips to her shoulder.
“Did I sing?” She cautiously asked peering at him through half closed eyelids.
Rick chuckled, then grimaced at the affect it had on his head. “Yeah, you did. A lot.” He stroked his palm over her hip, “You’re so adorable when you cut loose like you did yesterday.”
“Oh God.” She took a deep breath. “Did you take photos?”
“And video.”
“Oh God.” Another deep breath and she covered her face in shame.
“At your request.” Rick chuckled which caused her to laugh then groan in pain.
“Yes, you were funny.”
Kate sighed heavily and laid there a moment trying to recall her Sunday. Distracted by the movement of his bare body against her skin, a thought crossed her mind. It was an appealing thought too. “Sure we don’t have five minutes.” She tempted.
Rick’s hand wandered to her tummy where it parked, just below her belly button, “We don’t.”
“Maybe …” Kate decided to challenge him about that five minutes he said they didn’t have. She knew he was powerless to her affection and advances. She wriggled around to face him staying within his embrace. Her eyes opened briefly to his drowsy dull blue eyes and she sleepily smiled and purred, “Good morning.” She traced his eye brows with her finger tip.
Rick took a deep breath and as he exhaled, he murmured, “Morning.” He smiled as her eyes closed again. She was incredibly cute when she was warm and sleep. It made him want to keep her in bed with him forever because once she was fully awake she became his tough independent and bossy Beckett. But he couldn’t resist feeling the shape of her buttock and waist with his palm. He released an appreciative moan thinking about what they could do, but for now he dismissed it. Instead he stroked the side of her head, “We have to leave soon. A body is waiting for us.”
“You sure we can’t hang back five minutes?” She suggestively queried running her fingers down the left side of his chest, a girlie sound of approval escaping her over what she touched. His strong, firm muscles of his chest and shoulders really turned her on. “We could ….”
He grunted in the negative, “I will need more than five minutes to crank up the way I feel.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to rethink that, Castle?”
Rick closed his eyes enjoying the tone of her voice, the feel of where her hands had wandered to. A groan of pure pleasure escaped him then, with some reluctance, he muttered to remind her, “There’s been a murder.”
Kate breathed deeper then looked from beneath the sheets to his eyes, “There could be a murder in here.” She threatened and lifted herself high enough so she could kiss his lips. She had to get his mind in the mood, to catch up with his body that was responding appropriately.
He smiled when they parted then he gave her a kiss, released another moan, then said. “It will take more than that."
He found the bottle and passed it to her. “A bit more cranking is required. Let’s go.”
Kate took that to indicate he was a green light. She swallowed a few mouthfuls then returned to the bed. She wriggled down his body feeling his hands on her shoulders, then in her hair.
Still half asleep and thinking she wouldn’t have it in her yet to have sex, Rick let her go. She made a trail of kisses and gentle sucks down his large chest, over his stomach and he rolled to his back a little to assist her. It was totally unexpected when she took all of him inside her mouth. His eyes opened wide and he peered beneath the sheets to see her dark eyes glistening cheekily up at his. He couldn’t help but release a moan of approval but he was pretty sure this wasn’t going to end well.

Castle was right.
Slightly short of an hour later they arrived at the scene squinting at the flashing lights of police and paramedic vehicles. It was brutal on their eyes. But the sun wasn’t Rick’s only problem right now. The Crown Vic’s driver’s side door slammed shut causing Rick to cringe in pain. He shook it off and got out of the vehicle, closing the passenger door with far less muscle strength than his very frustrated feminine and pissed off partner had used. He then cautiously progressed to the front of the vehicle to meet Kate there. She brushed a bit of leaf off her coat then directed her impatient expression to him. The way she narrowed her eyes when she was angry was so cute. She was adorable when she was pissed off. He just preferred it be directed at someone else.
This morning, living with the hangover from hell, Beckett was on fire and a little short fused. She had stood in the shower for quite a long time that morning trying to sober up, because once she had become vertical, she had felt the effects of the alcohol. He’d passed Kate a couple of painkillers and her first mug of coffee into the shower with her.
Luckily for Rick, his body overcame hangovers reasonably fast and he only needed the dark sunglasses he wore and another strong cup of coffee. The latter he desperately craved for and then he would be feeling right again. Kate’s moods he had learned to ignore years ago. She had been serious about enjoying the quickie in bed earlier but because certain personal wants hadn’t been satisfied by him, Kate had refused to drop into a drive thru coffee store to satisfy his need for that extra dose of caffeine. She could be very stubborn.
He secretly smiled to himself with satisfaction when he realised that Beckett would have to wait a lot longer for what she desired than he would for another coffee. She would cave in soon for another cup of coffee. Being the man he was, Castle openly admitted he needed more than the five minutes they had that morning, to be fully satisfied with Beckett in bed. A preference for taking his time with her was perfectly alright with Beckett most of the time. By the time he did eventuate to meeting his obligations later that evening, it was a sure thing his partner would be driving him crazy with want. Once the hangovers were a thing of the past for them, it would be foreplay heaven all afternoon and he looked forward to it. Seducing and teasing Beckett was one of his favourite activities.
“We could have done it even if we only had that five or so minutes.” Kate stated as she stood face to face with him at the front of the car, continuing their banter from moments earlier.
Rick smiled. It was uncanny, like she could read his mind, his thoughts. “I was thinking about that Beckett. You know I like to take my time to enjoy you.” He replied smugly and instantly saw her react. She tried her damndest to hold back a smile but it escaped and her cheeks blushed a fraction. He waved a finger at her his boyish charm oozing out of him, “Yeah, you know I do.”
In the high heeled black leather boots she wore that day she was almost six feet tall and she let him know it. She leaned in glaring into his sunglasses. “We could have had a quickie,” she hissed.
Castle played along and closed the space between them, placing his face close to her right ear, “Yeah we could have enjoyed a quickie,” he cleared his throat, “But we didn’t and that’s gonna agitate you all day isn’t it? I didn’t scratch your itch.” Rick stood back then unconsciously reached out and pushed a loose strand of hair off her face. She had left her hair dishevelled, had loosely tied it back into a careless ponytail because she hadn’t bothered to dry and style it. He liked the unkempt appearance. She looked so adorable all messed up and mentally dishevelled. He half smiled at her, “I don’t know about you, Beckett, but because we hit the booze yesterday harder than we ever have since we’ve known each other, I’m not feeling my usual perky self and neither is my friend.” He pointed downwards.
Kate smiled, “Yeah, it was a big day for that.” She couldn’t argue with him about their day out.
“So,” He stepped closer to her so she was the only person who heard him, softly bumping her shoulder with his upper arm. “I need a bit of time between the last drink and you know….” His eyes flickered from her eyes to her groin, seeking sympathy from her. Instead, he was shot with a look of exasperation. He made every effort to hold back the burst of laughter inside him. She really was sexually frustrated. He loved it!
She followed it up with a disgruntled grunt at his poor excuse for not performing, “C’mon Castle, are you telling me that you couldn’t ….”
“What? Hell no!” He strongly objected. “Not that at all.”
“Well, you made every excuse…”
“You were there! You felt it!” He objected with a glare. He read her expression and saw she was trying her hardest not to let her lips smile. “Oh, I know, you’re jerking my chain, Beckett!”
“No I’m not.” She objected, “You said you couldn’t ...” she glanced around her to ensure their conversation remain private, then whispered, “Get it up,” glancing to his groin.
“No! I didn’t say that!” Rick glared at Kate, who narrowed her eyes like a cat toying with a mouse.
Her eyelashes fluttered as her gaze returned to his eyes. Her fingers played with the collar of his shirt as she leaned into him. She purred, “You were doing perfectly fine where I was …” She moistened her lips.
Rick cleared his throat, held his breath. Sexy. “Yeah, that was good.” He finally said, “But I’m just saying I would rather not be going through that motion with a squeamish stomach.” He smiled crookedly glancing to her lips, “What you did was great.”
Kate released a giggle as her imagination pictured what she had done to Rick earlier, and then, what she wanted him to do to her later.
“What?” He asked suspiciously.
“Nothing Castle.” She commenced to walk toward the yellow police tape and Rick hurried after her.
“Kate, tell me.”
“I just have an image of you I can’t un-see.” She stirred knowing full well he wouldn’t leave her alone about it. He was so easy to tease.
“C’mon Kate. What were you thinking?”
“Never mind. I’ve forgotten it.”
“You said you couldn’t un-see it.”
She paused in her stride and looked down then up his entire body with a secretive smile. “I can’t say here.” She turned serious. “We’re at a crime scene.” She ducked under the yellow tape one of the uniforms held up for them. They continued along the sidewalk with Rick pestering Kate to tell him what she had been thinking. They soon approached the crime scene, where they stopped by the corpse that was awkwardly positioned. Rick was reminded of a puppet that had been dropped. The medical examiner, Dr Lanie Parish, was crouched beside the alleged victim. The body was a male in his early thirties and had obviously died when his head had unceremoniously and suddenly met with the concrete pavement. It also appeared he had broken his neck on impact.
“Morning Dr Parish.” Castle greeted cheerfully even under the estranged circumstances.
“Morning.” Kate mumbled rubbing her thumb and index over her forehead. She was feeling queasy and the sight of the crushed in skull wasn’t helping one bit. In fact she felt worse.
Dr Parish gazed up at her two friends squinting in the sun’s glare, “Richard Castle. Where’s your coffee? You look like you both could really do with plenty of it this morning.”
“Beckett denied us a caffeine fix when she refused to go to a drive through as apparently we had enough of it at home this morning.”
Lanie grinned with the realisation her two close friends had been doing some serious time with the alcohol, “Are you two are seriously hung over?”
“I don’t think seriously captures the real picture of what we did with alcohol yesterday.” Kate replied shamelessly.
Rick boyishly grinned gazing about the scene, “She did me proud yesterday, Lanie. She certainly drank me under the table.”
“I told you years ago not to mess with Beckett and the booze.”
“I know. I had to give it a shot though. It was fun.” He replied as he studied the messy corpse Lanie was working on. He peered upwards then back to Lanie who was crouched over the awkwardly splayed victim. “It really is a broken puppet situation.” He said then noticed that Kate stared at him clearly confused by his mutterings. He waved his hand telling her not to worry. “Do you think he swan dived, Lanie?” Rick glanced again at Beckett who had dismissed his puppet reference.
“I’m not sure Castle.” The doctor replied.
Rick rapidly observed that Kate was too busy internally analysing her own current state of health. She appeared gravely ill. What colour had been in her cheeks a minute earlier was long gone. He figured it was the sight of the messed up head of the victim that had caused her stomach to churn. He chose to ignore her discomfort as he shared the pain and felt as crook as she looked. It was, after all, self-inflicted. Instead, he waved his fingers toward the corpse’s head, “He certainly made a mess of his noggin.”
He smiled at the tone of warning he’d copped from Kate, and glanced to Lanie who narrowed her eyes at him knowing what he was up to. He ignored the women and gazed upward to the apartments over them where the dead guy had fallen from. He recognised Ryan on a third floor balcony waving down and gave him a smile and wave back with his right arm. Castle’s focus returned to the body particularly the hands as he wondered whether the guy was married. Marriage could have caused him to jump. He saw the gloves.
“Why is he wearing latex gloves?” He pointed a finger at the dead man’s left hand.
“Got no idea Castle, that’s why we have investigators,” Lanie replied glancing up to Rick who looked more than a little rough for wear. He hadn’t shaved and he was a little darker than usual beneath his eyes.
“Oh hang on, that’s our job,” he smugly replied giving Kate a light nudge to bring her back to the present.
“I think Ryan might have some answers up there already,” Parish commented as they all gazed up to him. “After all, he was here bright an early without a hangover.”
“Mmm,” Kate looked back at the body, particularly the guy’s head that was cracked wide open. She blinked away the awfulness of the sight of the dead man, “So Lanie, what we got this morning besides smart ass cracks all round?”
Rick snorted.
“Sweetie, I’m not sure whether this one is for you yet. He died from a sudden smack to his dome.”
“Got that bit,” Kate’s nose twitched in disgust at the smells emanating from the dead man. The sight of the dead man’s skull and the angle at which his head was positioned relative to his body was very disturbing. There was a pool of congealing blood on the concrete where he had hit the ground. It hadn’t been a pleasant ending for the guy who lay dead on the sidewalk. It wasn’t a pleasant beginning to the day for Kate’s stomach either.
“Good to see you decided to arrive.” Ryan shouted down with a grin and a wave. Rick and Kate’s eyes shot up to the balcony. “He fell from where Ryan is?” Kate asked Lanie.
“Seems like it. Ryan’s only just made it up there. The boys have been trying to find the right apartment.”
Rick cupped his hands around his mouth and hollered back up, “Morning to you too, Ryan. I thought you called us in on a homicide. We don’t do suicide.” He dropped his hands then looked to Kate, “This looks more like a jumper to me.”
“Seriously?” Kate asked, glancing between the balcony where Ryan was and the ground. “Not far enough,” she said then shouted up to Ryan, “Jumper, Kev?”
“No one would risk jumping from the third floor when there are seventeen higher ones to choose from.” Ryan yelled down then when he saw he had everyone’s attention on the ground, he turned and pointed up at the height of the apartment building. He looked back at them. “We have to make sure he wasn’t helped over the side.”
Castle and Beckett tilted back their heads and gazed up at the building both of them squinting into the brightness of the day, their heads smarting from their hangovers. Kate blinked hard, feeling the pain. The sun light penetrated the depths of her brain via her eyes. Her gut was squeamish, “God that hurts,” she mumbled so only Rick would hear. “Never again.”
“Yeah, I feel your pain.” He glanced at Kate. She was severely hung over and worse than when they left the loft. “Ryan has a point. I feel like jumping from the twentieth floor to put myself out of misery this morning. How much did we drink?”
“Too much.” Kate firmly replied. “I should have brought my sunglasses. It’s hellish out here in the brightness, very glary.”
“Tell me about it. I should have stayed home.” At least he had had the sense to pick up his sunglasses on the way out of the loft that morning.
“As my partner, as well as my drinking partner, it’s your obligation to suffer with me, Buddy.” She smirked sucking in her cheeks to stop the giggle that was straining to get out. It wasn’t the place for wise cracks. “Don’t you have that sense of obligation?”
“No, not really” He replied. “But next time, remind me never to go to a millionaire’s wedding on a Sunday afternoon again, especially one offering a free open bar.”
“I’ll remind you.”
“Oh! And add to those conditions, you being with me as my drinking buddy.” In order to assess the situation before them further, he once again looked up to where Ryan was standing on the balcony. That’s when he sighted the rifle. “Kate!” He pointed up into the tree, the hangover forgotten. “You see that?”
Kate followed his pointing hand and soon saw the rifle hanging from a branch by the shoulder strap of the rifle. “I see it. Now this is getting interesting.” She cleared her throat as it was a little irritated. It must have been because of her numerous performances at the karaoke last night. She called up to the balcony with a raspy voice, “Ryan, what’s that hanging from the tree?” Her voice gave out on her a bit. She glanced to Rick. “Karaoke?”
“Lana del Ray was your poison.”
“Oh, really?”
“Really.” With great fondness of his fiancé’s little quirks he recalled her performances and attraction to microphones the evening before. “Summertime Sadness was your favourite. That had a couple of encores at home. I would never have thought…”
“Mmm.” She suddenly smiled and felt her cheeks blush with self- consciousness when a flashes of her behaviour with Castle the evening before hit her memory. “I’m pretty sure I got my heavenly baby,” she whispered. “I remember those bits.”
Rick smirked devilishly at her, “I know.” It was whispered back with a secret smile and a communication passing between them that only lovers could share. “Is there such a thing as too much karaoke?” Rick queried seconds later as they watched Ryan turn about and search for what Castle and Beckett were keenly pointing at.
“Apparently not.”
“You were quite attached to the microphone. I had to apply pressure to pry it from you so other people could play.”
“Shut up, Rick.” She replied shooting him a cheeky look that caused him to smirk.
“Yeah, I know. You were having fun.”
“Kate, were you singing Karaoke last night?” Lanie was being a wise ass. “Girl! You must have been as pissed as hell.”
Rick grinned nodded at Lanie, “Oh, she was, Lanie. But can she sing when she’s drunk! I was just telling her Lana del Ray was her choice of poison.” Rick pointed to his right to give Ryan an idea of where they were looking. “How come he can’t see that rifle?”
“Public performance?” Lanie inquired recalling the nights she and Kate had spent on stage singing Karaoke in the past. Lanie didn’t drink much at all but for Kate she wouldn’t sing on stage unless she was drinking.
“Yup, public, then she fired up the Xbox in the office when we arrived home and bashed out a few golden oldies for an audience of one.”
“Castle,” Kate croaked.
“Yes, just me,” Rick answered choosing to ignore the fact Kate was actually telling him to be quiet.
Ryan finally sighted the rifle and yelled out that he saw it. Seconds later he shouted down to them, “That looks like a M4 carbine rifle, Castle.”
“Are you able to reach it without doing the same thing this guy did, Ryan?” Rick asked because from their angle it was difficult to determine the distance and depth of field between Ryan and the rifle.
Ryan leaned over and reached as far as he could manage over the side of the balcony, but he was a long way off getting near the gun. Once he was reaching, from the ground the others could easily see that even a guy the height of Rick wouldn’t be able to reach it. The rifle was precariously hooked by a nylon shoulder strap to an extreme branch of the tree and was barely staying there. If it were windy the rifle’s weight would cause it to have fallen by now. Ryan glanced between the rifle and Castle and with a laugh he shouted down to the group on the sidewalk staring up the tree, “Not a chance that I could reach that, Castle.”
“We can see that.” Rick glanced about for something they could use to lift it down. They didn’t want to risk it dropping for fear it could hit the ground and go off, perhaps inadvertently shoot someone.
Ryan whistled to gain Esposito’s attention. He looked up familiar with his partner’s summoning sound.
“What’s up?” Esposito shifted from where he had been with Lanie for a couple of seconds to stand beside Beckett. The three of them peered up at the rifle.
“Espo! We need to phone in the fire department to come down and pull this rifle out of the tree.”
“Roger that!”
“Do we have an id on this guy, Espo?” Kate asked.
“No. Nothing on him. No identification. He had a phone up in the apartment.”
“Burner phone?” Castle asked.
“Of course.” Espo furrowed his brow as he studied both of them, “You two been on the turps? You look like shit!”
“Geez. One day on the grog and everyone knows about it,” Kate groaned dropping her shoulders in resignation.
“Maybe if you had spread the same amount of alcohol over a month or so no one would have noticed,” Espo replied.
Kate grunted, but couldn’t deny Esposito’s comment. What they had consumed in one afternoon and evening could have easily been spread over a month. But right now she needed to concentrate on the job. There had already been more than enough banter about alcohol consumption that morning. “Obvious question here guys, is what was he doing with a rifle on the third floor balcony?”
Rick’s gaze went upward as his brain ticked over to answer Beckett’s question. He then looked across the street. “Do you think he accidentally fell off the balcony? Was he trying to take out someone?”
Beckett and Esposito turned circles searching to locate the direction a hit man on that balcony would have been aiming. The three of them all finished in the one sort of area then glanced to each other.
Kate pointed to where Ryan was but looked down at the body, “Let’s go have a look from what was his perspective, shall we?” She suggested taking a last distasteful scan of the man’s corpse. “If he’s not a victim, then we need to find who his intended victim was.”
Rick looked further afield at the members of the public held behind the police lines. “Yes, before the next hit man comes.”
“And finds a bunch of cops staring up into a tree like last time,” Esposito finished.
The three of them shared a chuckle about the last time they pulled a dead guy out of a tree.
They progressed inside the apartment building. On the way, Esposito called the fire department to request they despatch a truck with a cherry picker in order to safely retrieve the rifle.
They rode in a rickety old elevator which was virtually a caged box surrounded by the stair case. They got off at the third floor and the men followed along the corridor. The apartment was being guarded by a uniform who stood outside the door way. As they passed him to enter the apartment they slipped on latex gloves.
Rick stood by the kitchen counter and glanced about, “The apartment’s basically empty of furniture and personal belongings. There’s nothing Beckett.”
“It’s vacant of any possessory items.” She stated as she walked through the kitchen which was bare of any utensils and the recess for the fridge was empty. Not even a microwave or kettle adorned the bench top. “Place is bare, Castle.”
Castle inspected inside the cupboards and drawers, “Yep, place is empty. There are no signs of food preparation. Not even a bowl, cutlery or mug.”
Kate drummed her gloved fingers on the kitchen counter, thinking. When she stopped she made eye contact with Esposito who had been fishing about inside a duffel bag on the floor. “What you got there Espo?”
“His duffel bag. The other is a custom made rifle case. The M4 would be disassembled to fit in it. The rifle had a rather short barrel. I think it was probably the twelve inch one. That's too short to be legal. It would be classified as an NFA weapon and need special registration and a permit from the ATF. I doubt he had either. I need to take a closer look at it when I get it out of the tree. If I'm right, the rifle suggests this guy was a pro.”
“In the meantime would you have a talk with the building manager and find out who this place is leased by, whether it is leased? We also need to get the CSI guys in here to search for fingerprints.”
“Sure,” he replied and pointed at the bag. “He wasn’t planning on being here for long. All his belongings and wastes are in that bag.”
“I’ll get CSI techs to examine it.”
“Sure. I’ll go find the building manager.” He disappeared out the doorway.
Beckett and Castle progressed to the living area where they inspected the duffel bag for any signs of identification.
“Castle, would you hold the bag please?”
“Sure.” He held it at waist height while she searched through it. She shook the coffee cup to ensure there wasn’t anything inside it other than the remains of coffee.
“I could sure do with one of those,” she murmured.
“Me too.”
“What is this?” She found the box of latex gloves and the compartment where used gloves were stored.
“He wore gloves in the apartment so he didn’t leave finger prints, Beckett.”
“I think so. Can you smell the coffee?”
He chuckled, “You really are desperate.”
“I am. Hungry too.”
“I tell you what, when we’re finished here, there’s a great diner around the corner that serves gigantic breakfasts and the largest take out cups of coffee I’ve ever seen. I will take you there and you can order the entire menu if you’re that hungry.”
“Good. Can’t wait but do you really think I will eat that much?”
“I’ve seen your appetite Honey, and you will eat. I know you. May look small and all but you can eat.” He held back a smile waiting for her response.
She scoffed at his comment as she lifted out a paperback novel. “I don’t eat that much.” She quietly remarked turning the book over. She already knew it was a Derrick Storm novel and which one it was but flipped it over to indulge Rick’s ego. She stared at Rick with a look, “Seriously?”
Rick shrugged his shoulders, indifferent, “Hope he finished it. Would hate to die without know what happened.”
“Hope you weren’t giving him any ideas.”
“You’ve read it,”
“Mmm. No new ideas in it and there’s nothing in this bag. But wait.” She peeked in a side pocket as a mischievous smile warmed her face.
“What is it?”
Kate looked at Rick’s inquisitive eyes and flashed him a pink sticky note with a phone number jotted on it. “Ryan?” The volume and tone of her voice had Rick flinch. She squinted in response to his pain, “Sorry, buddy,” she offered him with a softer tone.
“Just remember, hangover,” Rick murmured so Ryan couldn’t hear as he appeared from the balcony in response to Kate’s call.
“Would you find out what this phone number is for please?” She waved the piece of paper in the air as she continued to search the last section of the duffel bag. “What’s this?” Kate pulled out a small photograph and flipped it over to see the picture. She saw a pretty young woman with long dark hair, a big smile and large brown eyes. She was quite attractive. She showed it to Rick who raised an eyebrow with interest. “Pretty girl.”
“I agree. Girlfriend perhaps?” Rick took the picture from Kate and turned it over to see if anything was written on the back of it. The picture had been printed on a home printer. “She looks a little like you.”
“Similar complexion, perhaps more like the younger version of me,” Kate agreed. By the time Ryan had approached her with an evidence bag Kate had finished searching through the duffel bag. She showed Ryan the phone number then slipped the Post it note into the plastic evidence bag.
Ryan sealed the zip lock then studied the number. “It’s local and we might get prints off it too.” He muttered mostly to himself. Another bag was taken out and opened it for Rick to slip the photo in. He too looked at it. “Girlfriend?” He suggested.
“Could be.”
“I guess we will find out soon enough.” Ryan strolled off in the general direction of the kitchen tapping busily on his iPhone in order to make the call that would have the jotted phone number identified.
Kate indicated to Rick with a wave of her hand that he could let go of the bag as she was satisfied there was nothing else in it that would benefit them now. “The CSI team would take it with them and have it thoroughly analysed at the lab.” She stated.
“There’s nothing in the rifle bag worthy of studying.” Rick said as he discarded it on the floor.
Kate followed Rick to an old brown couch which was the only piece of furniture in the apartment besides the upturned blue milk crate. Kate picked up the cell phone on the milk crate that Ryan had left for them to inspect. He already had it bagged. They noted the phone was locked but they could hear crackling sounds coming from it.
“Is that a radio playing?”
“I don’t know, Castle.” She unzipped the zip lock so they could hear it better.
They listened and heard the sounds of an apartment. “He has bugged whoever he’s been spying on, Kate.”
“Is there an app for that?”
“Sure there is. There’s and app for everything.” Rick looked outside the open door way in search of the obvious apartment the dead guy would have been spying on.
“Doesn’t sound like they are home but they’re somewhere close.”
Rick listened to the phone and was soon rewarded by the sounds of footfall on floorboards. There were noises of someone shuffling through stuff. It stopped and then a door closed. Rick carried it with him as he closely followed Kate outside onto the balcony. Ryan met them as he finished up a telephone conversation.
“Beckett, this phone number belongs to the Hotel Addison around the corner.”
“It’s a pokey place,” Rick commented, “About two blocks up. Can rent a room by the hour there, Beckett.”
“That’s it.” Ryan confirmed.
“Maybe he was staying there. Ryan, could you get a photo of our victim slash sniper slash jumper and flash it around the hotel? See what you can find. Better take Espo with you.” She said half watching the expression that passed between Rick and Kevin. The men were having a silent joke about Kate’s terminology. She smiled cheekily, “Did you like that, boys?”
Both men grinned, “I did, Beckett. A resemblance of Dr Suess on your tongue this morning,” Castle remarked, rolling his shoulders to loosen them up. He was surprised by Kate’s wittiness when he considered how much alcohol she had consumed the day before and how much he’d had to hold her up on their way from the taxi to the loft. By the time they had returned home, Kate had done the walk of shame wearing a very lovely dress, her clutch bag in her hand and heels dangling from her fingers, her hair and make-up all messed up. It was the first time he’d seen her have so much fun and get rotten drunk on the same day. He was proud of her in a bad sort of way.
“Mmm, a little bit,” She answered and glanced to Ryan, “We need to get a correct title for him to determine whether it’s us that stays on this case.”
“True. Gates won’t want us working on a non-murder case, wasting valuable homicide time,” Ryan commented, mimicking their Captain. “I’ll go get that photo and see if the FD guys have shown up with their toys to get the rifle down.”
Rick and Kate gazed after Ryan has he hurried from the apartment, both of them feeling the weight of Sunday on them. They turned to each other. Kate said, “I really need to eat soon, Castle.” She held her stomach.
“Nausea?” He screwed up his face, and pointed to a bathroom.
She nodded, “Yeah. Really hungry. I missed breakfast.”
Rick wandered off towards the sliding door, as he replied, “Me too.” He briefly examined the area inside then glanced back to Kate who was right behind him, “We’ll go for breakfast once we’re finished here.” He stepped out onto the balcony, squinting in the sunlight again.
“Sounds like a plan. I’m motivated. Go to that place you mentioned.” She stepped out onto the balcony after Rick had. They looked around the balcony that didn’t offer them anything other than the view the dead guy had had before he fell off it. Kate peered over the edge to where the body still lay on the concrete. Lanie was about to have the bagged body lifted to a gurney by her assistants. “You know, Castle, I would have climbed to the roof to end it rather than do it from here.” She squinted into the sky as she looked up the side of the building and gave herself a nod.
Rick peered over the edge and gave it a quick assessment. “Me too. The probability of surviving a fall from the height of this third floor is quite possible but the injuries would almost be insufferable. He was pushed or he slipped.” Rick turned about and commenced to look at the situation in the bigger picture rather than just the evidence they had to hand so far. He considered the surrounding apartments and something became clearly apparent to him. His hand blindly reached to Kate’s upper arm that he gently tapped as his other hand pointed in the direction of the apartment over the road. “There, Beckett,” he quietly said, “His target was someone in that apartment.” Growing a little excited, Rick placed a foot on the railing and leaned over searching through the branches of the great bare tree. He was absolutely certain the apartment one storey below them across the street was the focal point of the dead man’s attention. He stepped back to the balcony and turned to Kate, “We have two possible scenarios here.”
“Go on.” She stopped to listen to Castle. It also crossed her mind how good he looked that morning even with a hangover.
Rick noticed an odd expression transition its way over Kate’s face, very briefly but it was there. It made him want to check his shirt for a stain but he refrained from doing so and concentrated on what he was about to say. “Well, he was either pushed or he accidentally fell off the balcony trying to get a sure shot through the tree. As he fell his rifle must have been flung in that direction where it inadvertently got snagged in the branch.”
“What the…?” Kate and Rick did a bit of a shuffling dance in order to manoeuvre Kate to a position where she had the same sight line as Rick. She accomplished this by standing in front of him. His hands rested firmly upon her shoulders and guided her to the correct position to see what he could. She looked down to their right to the ground where the body had been. She then turned her attention to where the rifle was snagged and finally to the apartment over the road. The balcony across the street was quite long with windows and two glass sliding doors running the entire length of the apartment. One door must have come from a bedroom and the other a living room. “A lot of glass and two doorways.”
“Spacious apartment. Long rather than deep,” Rick commented. They couldn’t see inside because of the combined sunlight and reflective glass. Kate scanned the balcony they stood on. It was only a maximum of about two metres in length and big enough for two chairs and a modest table. If they had an alleged sniper attack, it would be impossible to shoot a target from anywhere left of where they stood on the balcony as the tree’s main branches were between the apartments preventing a clear shot.
“At a close guess, in the boots you are wearing you’re about the same height as the guy who fell off,” Rick said close to Kate’s ear and he pointed over her shoulder at the apartment. “The apartment directly over it is too high for you to shoot anyone and this tree is an even greater obstruction.”
“And the one below it is too low.”
“Nothing to the left or right.” He saw her nod her head in agreement. “We can’t see in there now …”
“But when it was still dark, this guy would have had a clear view into that apartment, especially if the lights were on,” Kate finished her mouth curling into a small smile of satisfaction. She loved it when they thought the same. Her heart quickened a little. It was their secret bonding, their special chemistry. She felt his hand lightly squeeze her shoulder in acknowledgement and in her peripheral vision saw his grin.
“Yes. He must have leaned over too far, perhaps slipped and fell or somebody else pushed him. There’s nothing here to indicate a struggle, even if there had been.”
They watched over the balcony as the fire department utilised their cherry picker to collect the rifle. Espo was inside the box ready to retrieve the rifle.
Kate stood on the bottom railing of the balcony, “Castle, I wouldn’t be able to make a clear shot from here. Maybe he needed to put a leg over to get a clearer shot.”
“True, but don’t you try it.” Rick warned and held her left upper arm. He glanced over to see the body was bagged and on its way into the medical examiner’s van. “He’s not there anymore to cushion your landing.”
“Funny, Castle.” She stepped down and stared over at the other apartment. She strolled along the length of the balcony taking Rick with her. “Who was he trying to kill?” She asked as though thinking aloud.
“Dunno. But we need to go door knocking.”
Kate’s cell phone rang in her hand. She glanced to it. “It’s Espo.” She said and answered it looking toward the fire truck. He was already out of the cherry picker and on the ground somewhere. She searched for him. “Espo, what you got?” She couldn’t locate him. She gave up the search, moved closer to Rick switching the iPhone to speaker so he could listen in.
“The weapon is a suppressed civilian M4 chambered in three hundred Blackout, single point sling, holographic red dot sight which was switched on, ten round magazine with hand loaded two hundred and twenty grain subsonic hollow point ammo. Oh, the guy was either military or a professional hit man and knew his weapons. It has a twelve inch barrel and no serial number. If he'd left it someplace or had to ditch it there would be no way to trace it. The suppressor looks home made and it also has no serial number on it. The selector was set to fire when he fell.”
“We think he slipped.” Rick said.
“Something fucked up for him.” Esposito replied, “This was too well laid out.”
Kate glanced to Rick before she said into phone, “So if he’s a hired hit man then we have to find who hired him and who had motive and who his target was,” Kate saw Rick nod his agreement, “Anything else guys?”
Ryan spoke this time, “The apartment is rented out to a bogus name. Castle, you will like this one.”
“Give it to me, Buddy,” Rick requested looking at Kate’s eyes in anticipation.
“Fred Bassett.” Ryan stated. Kate and Rick stared at each other, listening to the boys snicker.
Rick grinned, “Whoa! Seriously?” He chuckled.
“Well, at least it wasn’t Jack Sparrow for once.” Espo remarked.
“The Manager said that quote Mr Bassett unquote, paid the bond and three months’ rent with cash. The building manager hasn’t seen him since but he said he’s seen Splatt nearly every morning leaving around eight twenty, going to work. Said he kept to himself and was quiet.”
“He was aiming to shoot someone in the apartment across the way. Castle and I are gonna go find out who lives in the apartment we believe it is. Are you and Ryan going to the hotel?”
“We are.”
“We’ll see you back at the Precinct.” She hung up.
“Let’s go, Kate. The boys have it under control.”
Kate followed Rick back inside the apartment. They checked about them a little longer and once they were sure that they were on the right track with the dead guy being a hit man they left the apartment to follow their evidence.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3 - The victim’s apartment

“I’d rather live on this side of the street.” Rick commented gazing about their surroundings as they waited outside the apartment for someone to answer the doorbell. It was quite an improvement from the apartment building they had evacuated only minutes earlier. Shabbiness was fine but Rick personally preferred the smarter, more impressive décor of the hall way they stood in now.
Kate glanced over Rick’s face then about them at the neat well maintained hall way, “Yeah, me too.” She checked the time, 8.38 am. Thirteen seconds. Long enough. Impatient as always, she pressed hard on the doorbell again. She also checked the time again. It was still 8.38 am. “Maybe they’ve gone to work.”
“Give them a second or two, Beckett.” Rick requested unable to understand her impatience at times.
“I did. I gave them thirteen.”
“Exactly my point,” he retorted and caught her by the wrist before she pressed the bell again. “Wait,” he ordered. Kate pursed her lips but dropped her hand. She tapped the toe of her right boot on the floor as she waited out another ten seconds. Her narrowed eyes stared at Rick’s but he refused to look at her. When he finally nodded his consent she pressed the bell.
“No one is home,” she muttered, heavily hinting they were wasting valuable time that could be otherwise spent doing better things such as eating breakfast.
“Yeah,” Rick agreed, “With all the action over the road? I would have still been at ….”
“That’s you, Rick. Some of us have to go to work.” She cut in knowing full well he would have stayed home to watch the activities over the road. “In fact I’m sure you would have been out of the balcony with a bowl of popcorn and a cold one.”
Rick grinned, “Probably, until I realised I was the target.”
They fell silent both listening for any life inside. No one answered the doorbell and not a sound came from within the apartment.
Kate took that breath of air that told Rick enough time had passed, “C’mon, let’s go find out who lives in the apartment.” She noted the brass number on the door before she turned. With long determined strides she headed down the hallway toward the stairs ahead of him. He hurried to catch up. They clumped down the stairs and on the ground floor they soon found the office of building manager.
Kate banged on the door with the side of her closed fist. Rick fidgeted fully aware she needed to eat real soon. The patience level had significantly dropped after they had left the other apartment. A brief telephone conversation with Captain Gates down on the street had drastically darkened Beckett’s mood. Gates didn’t want man power wasted on a case if it wasn’t a homicide. In Gates’ opinion the death was an accident and the department that looked after those cases should have been there to take over Beckett’s team. However, powers that be had ordered Beckett’s team remain on the case until it was confirmed his death was an accident. Kate had hung up on the call and muttered something about it now being a case where someone needed to be protected and she wasn’t going to be the cop that walked away from the case that could turn into a murder. She wanted out of the case but felt obligated to see it through to help protect a potential victim.
Kate rapped on the door again.
“Wait already!” Was gruffly shouted from inside the office.
Kate rolled her eyes at Rick who calmly said, “Steady, Beckett.”
The door was flung open. Kate jumped in surprise. Rick chuckled at her reaction.
“Who’s banging?” The voice boomed from a tall figure in the doorway. They both recoiled at the sight and sound of the man who appeared. He was way beyond sixty, towered over Rick’s height and wore a face only his mother could love.
Kate held back a cringe and pursed her lips. Quickly, she composed herself and pushed her badge forward to the old man’s face. She was never drinking so much alcohol again. Her nerves were shot to hell. Through gritted teeth she declared, “NYPD, Detective Beckett.” She then pointed an index finger at Rick, “This is my partner, Mr Castle.” She dropped the hand that held the badge figuring the old man had had enough time to view it. “You are the building manager, right?”
“Yes I am.”
“And your name is?” Kate pressed to ensure she controlled the conversation. She flipped her badge over to make us of a little note pad and produced a pen from her right coat pocket.
The man shrunk back a little glancing between the two strangers who stood at the doorway. “My name is Duncan Brown. I’m the building manager.”
Kate scribbled his name down then as she spoke she put everything away, “Thank you Mr Brown. We’d like to know who lives in Apartment two zero nine. Please.” She glanced to Rick wondering whether he was feeling as edgy as she was.
Rick caught her look but mainly thought about the manner in which she had added the please at the end. It was rather cute, considering the demanding way she’d vocalised the rest of her words. He glanced between the manager and Kate, amused by the manager’s rebuff over the manner in which Kate treated him. Rick noticed the old man’s expression softened as he assessed the pair before him. He must have sensed Kate was more bark than bite as he didn’t seem overly concerned by her behaviour.
“Apartment two zero nine you said?”
“That’s correct.” Kate affirmed.
Rick smirked. The old guy was playing Kate, pretending he hadn’t listened properly to her.
The building manager sniffed loudly then muttered. “Two zero nine.”
Kate cringed with disgust. “That’s the one.”
“Well, that would be Tony Perri’s apartment. He lives there and sometimes he had women there.”
“Tony Perri?”
“That’s right Detective. But they ain’t home. It’s Monday so they’ve left for work.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“I saw them leave. Of course I’m sure.”
Kate pursed her lips.
Rick took over the conversation once he was positive Kate wasn’t going to get anything out of the building manager. He held his hand up to Kate to keep quiet a second, “Mr Brown, the NYPD is concerned about Mr Perri’s well being. Would you have a phone number that we can contact Mr Perri on? We need to ensure he’s safe.”
“Is this about that guy falling off the balcony this morning?”
“Yes. Yes that’s exactly what it’s about.” Rick nodded and smiled, his friendly smile. “The police need to ascertain that Mr Perri and his girlfriend …. What did you say her name was?”
“I didn’t. I don’t know it. He changes girlfriends more than I change my underwear.”
Oh Christ! Rick flinched and peripherally saw Kate dry retch over that response. Too soon today for that sort of imagery.
Rick pressed him, “Do you have Mr Perri’s contact details, please.”
“I’ll get it. Wait here a minutes,” he gruffly ordered and slammed the door on their faces.
The pair glanced at each other. Kate’s frazzled nerves caused her body to jump at the noise of the door. Castle released a heavy sigh. “He could use a better brand of coffee,” he quietly remarked wiping his nose. He gave a well mannered sniff and peered at the ceiling. “The ceiling could do with a fresh lick of paint.
“Mmmm, maybe use air freshener and incorporate the use of personal deodorant into his personal hygiene too. He could really do with some,” she whispered. “I feel nauseas.”
“Mmmm. It’s a bit off. A breath mint would help.”
“A bit? I don’t know whether a mouth wash could help.” Kate kept vigil on the door handle. “Is my nose over sensitive this morning?”
“It might be.”

“I think so.”

“But it’s the amount of alcohol you drank that is making you feel sick.”

“Won’t argue with that. Doesn’t stop me smellin ….” It paid to keep a watch on the handle. The door opened again without warning cutting Kate off mid-sentence. The door wasn’t opened as hard as it had been the first time. The manager held out his arm and when Kate reached up he shoved a piece of paper into her hand.
“There’s his contact numbers. Is that all?” He gruffly inquired.

“For now,” Kate replied as she scanned the paper. The manager had provided Perri’s cell, home and work phone numbers.

“Thanks,” Rick said scanning the paper over Kate’s shoulder. Satisfied, he started toward the door way as the manager closed the door once again. “Let’s go get a coffee.”

“I’ll phone Perri on the way. I’ll get the unies to pick him up and take him to the Precinct.” Kate hurried after Rick. On their way over the street to the car, they saw that Lanie had left with the body and the CSI unit was finishing up their job. They boys were gone. Beckett and Castle didn’t stop to talk to anyone and Kate passed Rick the keys so he could drive. That way she could make the phone calls on the way to the café.

Chapter Text

This chapter is a play of personalities and sub-stories; a chance for me to explore real situations, emotions and different types of conflict.

Chapter 4 – Breakfast break
On their drive back to the Precinct, Castle and Beckett swung by the cafe Rick had suggested for a sit down breakfast. Both were unable to deny their bodies of nourishment any longer. While they waited for the breakfast orders to be served, they gulped down glasses of water from the large glass jug Rick had ordered for the table. Their thirst quenching reminded Castle of Discovery channel documentaries showing drought stricken animals who had found water holes only hours before they would have otherwise perished. The animals drank until their bellies were full and that exactly how Castle felt as he finished his fourth glass. He wiped his mouth his thirst finally satisfied.
As Kate quenched her thirst she finally got the call through to Tony Perri to explain the risky situation he was in. After a few minutes of explaining why he needed to attend the 12th Precinct she finally got his attention and compliance to work with the NYPD. She then made a call back to the dispatch to arrange for uniforms to pick Perri up at his place of work and escort him to the Precinct. Once she was certain that Perri would be within the safety of the Precinct by about 10.30 am, she called Captain to update her on the case. Listening only to Kate’s side of the conversation, it was easy for Castle to hear Kate was keen to get off the case now they had Perri in safe custody. He could also understand by her facial expressions that Gates was instructing Beckett to stay on the case until the ME ascertained that Benson had accidentally fallen to his death. Kate hung up on the call put the phone on the table and pursed her lips at Rick.
“We’re not off the case.” She stated.
“Did she say why?”
“Until the ME announces Benson’s of death we are to work on the assumption his death was a murder.”
Rick squinted at Kate. He had to agree with the Captain for once. Without supporting evidence it was hard to decide whether he had fallen or had been pushed off the balcony.
Beckett caught the look. “What? You’re on Gate’s team? You’re meant to be my partner, on my team.”
“And I am.” He confirmed as his fingers nervously tapped on the table top. He looked over his shoulder to the kitchen, wishing their meals would arrive. “Where’s breakfast? It’s taking forever.”
“Yeah, where is it? I’m starving.” Kate replied and grabbed the newspaper.
Rick leaned back in the seat staring at his fiancée, at her dark eyes and furrowed brow. She really was a terrible hangover partner to be in the company of. He kind of smiled at his recollection of her behaviour in bed that morning. He wished he’d been able to have all morning in bed with her, that they hadn’t been forced to get out of bed to answer the call of duty. He watched as she read the front page of the paper a very serious expression worn on her face. He leaned to her and reached to her left hand that rested on the table. He gave it a gentle stroke with his thumb. She glanced to their hands then to his eyes with a questioning look.
He smiled and said quietly, “You are such a bad hangover victim.”
A hellishly cheeky smile spread over her face and her cheeks blushed a little, “Yeah, but I’m fun to be with when I’m drunk.”
“That’s true. Next time I drink like that I definitely want to do it with you.”
“There’s gonna be a next time?” He asked in surprise.
“No doubt there will be, but next time we take the following day off work.”
“Definitely take the day off next time, yes.” Rick shook his head with certainty.
The choice to have breakfast was their best decision that morning. As they weren’t in a rush to get to the Precinct they ate at a pace their stomachs could cope with and read the morning papers. The queasiness they felt was eased with the consumption of a big breakfast and several coffees.
On page three of the Ledger, Castle read an article about vacations which reminded him to ask Kate, “Have you submitted your leave application to Gates for our two weeks at your Dad’s lake house?” He lifted his gaze from the article which featured a forest in Canada to Kate who was consuming her meal with a far less enthusiasm than earlier. When she had ordered she had gone straight with an order of bacon and eggs with an extra slice of toast, a bowl of cereal and a double strength coffee. Anyone looking at Kate would assume she didn’t eat very much but she generally had a good appetite. This morning it was nothing short of ferocious and she had eaten almost all of it. At first she reminded Rick of a starving dog who had been given a meal of scraps. She had been hunched over her plate and focused on the bowl of cereal which was gone. Thankfully she was now relaxed and some colour had returned to her cheeks. She hadn’t answered him “Kate?”
She looked up, “Mmmm?
“Oh!! Sorry, yeah, it was approved a week or so ago.” Her lips curved with a thought.
Rick didn’t miss it, “What?” He inquired confused by her mischievous expression.
Kate swallowed and picked up her coffee she took a sip of, making him wait for her answer. She could see how impatient he was for her response. She put the mug down and leaned into their conversation, her eyes sparkling with mystery, “Finally, our first vacation where we will be doing nothing.”
Rick’s eyes lingered over her lips she moistened. He forced himself to think about what she had said along with the subject. His gaze connected to her eyes. He saw the glistening in them. She was such a tease. She was already starting to sexually provoke him. By evening they would be driving each other crazy. He sat up with a cheeky look, “Do nothing?” He challenged, “I can tell you now, there will be plenty of kissing,” he whispered, looking about them to ensure no one could hear their discussion, “Snuggling, eating, drinking, sleeping,” he continued noting the customers in the café were busy eating and doing their own thing as they were.
“Mmm.” She smiled showing her approval, “And?”
He rested his elbow on the table, his chin on the heel of his hand and stared lovingly at her as he said quietly and very sexily, “We will be enjoying each other… a lot of practising and all that. I might even discover a few surprises about you…” His gaze slowly lowered from her lips to her chest.
Kate stared at him her lips parting. The motion of his beautiful lips as his spoke, the colour and cheekiness of his blue eyes and the provocative tone of his damn hot voice momentarily caught her breath in her chest. She decided she too would continue to play suggestively. She leaned closer to the table, to him, “I do have a few other tricks than just the ice thing …” She wavered off and gazed seductively into his eyes hoping he would turn into a blubbering mess which is exactly what happened. His cheeks blushed and his blue eyes shined. She sat up and laughed triumphantly at him then smiled and said. “I cannot wait to go to Dad’s lake house. Just us.” She whispered, glanced about and leaned in further, “Making love, eating, sleeping, making love, outright sex …” Her eyes which had been dancing between his eyes and mouth lowered suggestively to his groin she actually couldn’t see because of the table and her left eyebrow rose a little. Her body language wasn’t wasted on him. “Wall sex.” She hissed and sat back pressing her body to the back of the seat.
Rick sighed heavily trying to refrain the growth in his pants, “You are so bad, Beckett,” he expressed as he exhaled, and fidgeted on his seat to accommodate his growing organ, “We won’t even need to leave the house.” Rick sat up taking a few badly needed breaths of air. She could behave so hot at times. “I’m gonna keep eating my breakfast as I’m starting to feel better and I don’t need your teasing right this minute.”
Kate smirked, glad she had achieved her goal. “Will we go skiing?”
“Of course. If there’s snow.”
“Mmm.” She picked up the fork and as she brought the food to her mouth she gave Rick her look. She watched his eyes stare at her lips as she closed her mouth around the fork. She pulled the utensil out of her mouth slowly and moved her mouth and tongue in the way she knew turned him on.
“Geez Kate.”
“Why did we have to wake up to a murder today, Castle?”
“Because life is sometimes very cruel Beckett. Stop doing that please or I’m gonna rent a room for an hour.”
Kate laughed. “Ricky.” She purred, her dark eyes swallowing him whole.
“I know. This is gonna go on all day, isn’t it.”
He pointed to her meal. “Eat Beckett. You will need the energy tonight.”
“For sure.” He decided not to watch her anymore or engage in her provocative behaviour. He knew it would annoy the hell of her if he ignored her. He decided he would start on her later in the day. He focussed on reading the Ledger.
Kate huffed and puffed a few times clearly put out by his lack or reactions. He wasn’t playing her game. Minutes later when Castle turned the newspaper to page six his eyes landed on a picture of two very familiar faces smiling at him. Initially he was delighted to find there was a colour and sizeable picture of him and Beckett. It had been taken at the wedding. It was a nice picture with Kate standing in front of Rick, his arms neatly and comfortably wrapped around her slight waist. Her hand was over his and the engagement ring was sparkling perfectly. They were still sober when that photograph had been taken. The delight in Rick was quickly replaced with worry when he saw beneath the fold on the page another picture of him, but he was not in Kate’s company. Problem number one. The queasiness that food had resolved soon returned for reasons other than alcohol.
Instead, in the second picture he was hanging over the shoulders of two beautiful women and grinning broadly and boyishly at the camera. And there were problems two and three.
Rick cleared his throat and reached for the glass of water he desperately needed to moisten his parched mouth. He gulped two good mouthfuls taking the moment to check on Kate who was still occupied with eating. She was eating more than reading. Maintaining a casual air he took a bite of his scrambled eggs and as he chewed he returned to the pictures. Rick was most concerned by the picture of himself with the two women because it was a given he would have to explain it in detail to Kate at some stage in the very near future. The woman wrapped around him from his left he didn’t know even though he pushed his memory to the extreme to recall her. He had nothing on her, but her name which was printed beneath the picture. He knew in that instance that if Kate questioned his association with the undeniably gorgeous brunette and he came up with nothing, he would be in a very bad situation with Kate. The unknown woman was in contact with his body in a way too friendly manner for his fiancée to accept. The woman to his right he definitely knew. She was an ex-girlfriend from way back. They had remained friends ever since they had amicably gone their separate ways, but Kate didn’t know about her yet. His arm was politely over her shoulder, as that’s how they were with each other, and she was leaning in close only for the picture. His suit jacket was gone and his tie was loose. Rick was sure he was quite intoxicated in that image. Based only by the grin he wore and his eyes, he was drunk. He also couldn’t recall the picture being taken. If he didn’t remember this one, then how many more were there? Again, he shot his eyes up to Kate who was now more engrossed in reading the sports section of the paper than eating. Boring baseball scores. She had pushed away her plate that had almost been licked clean by the looks of it.
He quickly turned the page concealing the pictures then picked up his coffee. “You still hungry, Darling?”
Kate gave him a look for using his latest pet name to tease her. He couldn’t restrain the smile of amusement her expression caused. She glanced at the empty plate then looked at him.
“I’m good thanks.” She knotted her brow and narrowed her eyes like a mother with a naughty child. She was on to him. Straight away his heart rate increased. “What’s going on?” She inquired glancing about him for any suspicious or incriminating evidence.
“Nothing!” His voice faltered and went high. Whoops! He cleared his throat and sat back pretending to be nonchalant about her suspiciousness. It was then he determined that even despite his mother’s chosen career, he was not very good at acting. He knew he tended to fidget and pull odd expressions and that’s exactly what he was doing. His own body deceived him. He couldn’t help it and if he tried to stop it he was worse. He reminded himself he only had to make it through the day without Kate seeing page 6 of the Ledger. A simple task really for most men, but most men weren’t engaged to a NYPD detective. The decision was made to deny he knew about the pictures if she happened upon a copy of the Ledger later in the day. Ignorance was often his best approach.
Then it occurred to him that Beckett usually read the Ledger online while she drank her first coffee each morning. Maybe she had already seen the pictures from her iPad. If she had, why hadn’t he copped her reaction?
Across the table, as she thought about Castle’s response, Beckett tousled her hair with her fingers, watching him and thinking it out. Then all her attention was shot at him as she leaned over the table, eyebrows straight, “Nothing, my ass.” She hissed. He jumped back a little at her abrupt movement.
Rick was certain in that instance, she hadn’t figured it out yet but she would get it out of him what was going on. She sat up and used her hair fluffing to give herself a few more seconds to figure it out.
Amused by her little performance, he too leaned toward her and hissed back, “Nothing is going on.” He sat back and waved a finger at her mug of coffee. “Drink your coffee wife to be.”
She spontaneously grinned at his term for her, but pushed on with conversation.”Why don’t I believe you, Ricky?”
Rick picked up his coffee and maintained a stare on her troublesome hazel eyes, trying his hardest not to cave under her pressure. She was so good at calling his bluff. The way she stared him down it was almost impossible not to buckle but he managed to maintain resilience. He’d seen Esposito succeed a thousand times with Kate so he too could manage it. He made the decision to distract her with his charm and choice of words. “Because my darling detective, a large part of your job is to be suspicious.”
“You’re playing that card?”
“Of course! Your bullshit meter is always whirling. We’re good.” He confidently said dismissing her behaviour as he casually sipped his coffee once again. He swallowed gazing at her beautiful face. He thoroughly enjoyed holding back on her making her work to get information out of him. She was cute when she was angry or frustrated.
Kate scoffed, eyes widened, “Seriously? My bullshit meter?”
“Yes you have a good quality and accurate bullshit meter. Amazingly accurate.” Rick chuckled over his own humour. An issue he had with the newspaper pictures was whether she actually remembered the photographer taking their photograph. He also thought about any images might have captured on her iPhone. They would certainly prompt her to remember the photographer’s presence. It also suddenly crossed his mind that her father, or more likely her aunts, would see the pictures and text Kate. Since dating her he’d discovered her aunts had a big influence on her father.
“I need to have one of those meters with you in my life. I always know when you’re hiding something.”
“I know. But I’m not hiding anything, Beckett.” He took another mouthful of coffee. “You’re just hung over and acting crazy.” He knew he’d taken a big bite of the devil’s pie when he made that statement but he maintained eye contact, remained calm, cool and collected. If she did remember the photographer, she would search the paper at some point during the day to see whether they made the print. He had discovered since they had been dating that Kate loved taking photographs of them and him. In fact it was a hobby they jointly enjoyed. She wasn’t a fan of being in the media however. He would just have to be diligent and not let her near a newspaper. His mind went back to her father, the aunts and whether they would see the pictures. It was playing on his mind. Then there was the problem of her girlfriends seeing the pictures. Facebook. He hadn’t thought about bloody Facebook. He was cooked. Geezus. He knew he was on a losing battle from that moment. He decided to simply stir her about it as long as he could.
He smiled thinking about some of the pictures he had managed to capture of Kate since they had started dating. There had been more than a few occasions when he had been forced to run fast after he had captured her in a moment. More than a dozen times she had tackled him to take his phone into her possession.
“What are you grinning about?”
“Nothing Kate.” Over time, he had saved his favourite pictures in a special folder on his laptop that only he could access. He really enjoyed browsing that collection of pictures. In the meantime, he decided he would order copies of the pictures the paper’s photographer had taken of them for Beckett but would dismiss the intoxicated ones. He pressed, “Really Babe, nothing.”
She tapped her fingers, “Well ok then.”
His ears prickled at her tone. She was dissatisfied with his response, but he continued to participate, “Mmm?”
“My bullshit meter is telling me you are up to something, Castle.” She reached for the newspaper. He slammed his palm down on it pinning it to the table. They locked eyes. “What are you doing?” She inquired.
“We have to leave, Beckett. Finish your coffee.” He tapped his watch. Kate snatched the paper. Regardless of how nervous he suddenly was, Rick finished his toast then chased it down with the rest of his coffee, pretending all was cool. She watched him as she flicked through the pages to look for the sports pages. “Ting, ting, ting.” He sounded.
“What’s that noise?”
“Your bullshit meter has gone into overdrive. You know the paper is full of rubbish.”
“Mmmm… seems to be a writer’s thing.”
“Touché, Ms Beckett.”
“We won.” She said and dropped the paper on the table. Castle breathed a sigh of relief. He didn’t care who had won. She’d forgotten the paper. Kate stood and walked away.
As she made her way between the tables of diners, she smiled to herself, knowing very well Rick was under duress because he was hiding something from her. It wouldn’t be long before she busted it out in the open exactly what he and the boys were conspiring. She was always one step ahead of them. She thoroughly enjoyed playing him.
On their way out of the cafe they ordered take out coffees for the drive back to the Precinct. Kate was quiet in the car during the drive. Rick knew it was because she had eaten and her low sugar levels had been topped up. While she drove he listened to the radio and checked his emails and text message. Once he was done he stared out the window in the direction they were headed.
Rick’s phone beeped half way back to the Precinct. He took it from his pocket to see that Espo had sent him a text. He glanced to Kate who had a questioning look on her face. She returned her eyes to the road ahead. Rick ignored her body language and opened the message. It contained a blurry copy of the image of himself and the women from the Ledger. The folded newspaper was held jointly by Esposito and Ryan who had obviously taken a selfie picture. Espo’s message simply read:
How much do you want to keep this from Becks?
Rick nervously cleared his throat as he thought about two obvious issues: where their friends and workmates were possibly going with this and what sort of reaction Kate was going to have when she did see the picture of him and the two women. That was, of course, if she did find it. He imagined his beloved Ferrari with Esposito or Ryan behind the wheel. Then he thought about watching Kate drive it which really turned him on. Sheer determination kicked in that the boys wouldn’t be driving the sports car any time soon. Castle made the decision to call their bluff. He tapped back:
She’s seen it already, Dudes. Too bad,
With a good dose of smugness over his face, Rick pocketed his phone. He wasn’t going to let Esposito claim ownership of the Ferrari. He also had to find out who the second woman was in case Kate saw the picture. She wouldn’t give up until she knew who she was and where Rick knew her from. She might have been one of his ex’s friends. He decided he would text Mandy later on.
“Who was that?” Kate inquired, trying to sound casually interested rather than too inquisitive.
Right on cue, Rick thought to himself. He already had an answer prepared, “Alexis. She’s asking for more pocket money.”
Kate glanced to Rick in disbelief. His daughter always seemed to be asking for pocket money. “Don’t you already provide her with a generous weekly allowance?”
“I do, but she still tries for more. I ignore her texts most of the time.” Rick replied with confidence and shrugged his shoulders, “Girls.” He muttered and looked out the passenger window hoping Kate would just drop it.
“What do you mean by that?”
Rick tissed, “I mean, she’s a girl. She likes to shop.”
“So do I but I use my money ….”
“What about when you were at college?”
Kate smiled coyly then admitted, “Yes my Dad provided me with an allowance and he paid my school fees but I rarely asked him for extra money unless I needed it for books, but I also had a part time job.”
Rick felt bad as Alexis was exactly the same as Kate had been, “She’s not too bad.” He said with a tone that told Kate he wasn’t willing to continue the topic of conversation.
“She’s like I was at the same age.” Kate said, “And you are a great Dad.”
“I know. I’m a good boyfriend to.” He smiled and stroked her thigh just the once.
“Well, I’m not so sure about that after this morning Castle.”
“I ordered you a copy of the photo that the Ledger photographer took of us.” He offered her and instantly saw her smile.
“Thank you! Did we make the paper?”
“I didn’t check, but I know a guy there and he texted me he’s put copies in the mail already. You will have them tomorrow.”
“Cool.” Rick echoed filled with relief he might have pulled that off. He also made a mental note to text Mandy when he had a chance as he really needed to know who the woman wrapped about his body was. With the identity known he also had the answers when Beckett commenced her interrogation.