A/N: I'm pretty sure this isn't M. Maybe borderline. If you think the rating should be changed, please let me know. I don't want to offend anyone. Also, there will be one more chapter after this, and then Dangerous Game comes to a close. However, there is a sequel in the works called Hunted. Please let me know what you think of the idea of a sequel. As always, your reviews are much appreciated. Hope you enjoy :)
In the elevator on the way up to his apartment, Castle held Kate's hand.
Not right away of course. When the elevator doors closed, they were standing next to each other. Close, but not on top of each other. Not touching. Castle had moved his hand forward ever so slightly, so that his knuckles brushed against Kate's. Neither of them looked at each other; they just watched the numbers on the display above the doors slowly increase.
After three floors Castle moved again, this time clutching Kate's pinky finger with his thumb and index finger. He trailed his fingertips up the side of her hand, and then over the inside of her wrist. Kate swallowed. She had to fight not to close her eyes, but it was a downright internal war not to turn and lunge at him.
His fingers traced to her palm next, caressing it in small circles as three more floors passed. Kate started biting her tongue, trying to steady her breathing through her nose. Holy shit, he knew how to drive a woman crazy.
Finally his fingers slid forward, weaved in between hers, and then grew still once his hand was interlaced with hers. Kate looked down at their hands. Christ. They were holding hands.
She felt a tug on her hand, and her body was suddenly propelled forward and to the side, aligning with Castle's body. His free hand tilted her chin up so that their eyes met. His fingers moved along her jaw line next, tracing the outline of her face until his hand flattened against her cheek. His fingers pressed against her neck just behind her ear, and his thumb trailed along her bottom lip.
"Kate," he whispered.
She swallowed but didn't trust her voice to respond.
"I don't know if I ever told you this, but…" he trailed off. She wanted to smack him. But what? What had he never told her?
Oh. That. God damn it. She was blushing, wasn't she? She was one of those women that melted when Rick Castle told them they were beautiful. Ridiculous.
"You say that to all the girls you bring back to your place?" she murmured. She couldn't help it. As much as she wanted to reach forward, pull the Emergency Stop button, and let Castle haul her up against the wall, part of her was worried. Because she really wasn't sure she could be just a one-night stand.
He smiled. "Only the ones I write books about."
"You've never had a female main character, Rick."
The elevator arrived on his floor with a loud ding, and Kate wanted to groan in frustration. Instead she gave Castle a sultry smile, squeezed his hand, and got off the elevator. She let go of his hand, but as they started down the hall he trailed his fingers from her shoulder downward and interlaced his hand with hers again.
Kate cut a quick glance at him out of the corner of her eye. "Still not a date, Castle."
He laughed. "There'll be plenty of time for dates, love. I just want to hold your hand."
What the hell. Had he just called her love? And what did he mean there would be plenty of time for dates? This wasn't a one-night stand? Or was he just joking? What had she gotten herself into?
Castle stopped in front of his apartment and released her hand to unlock the door. He swung it open, gestured her inside, and then followed her in. When he turned the light switch on, Kate was greeted with the sight of his incredibly large, incredibly well furnished loft. He tossed his keys onto a nearby table and looked at her.
She watched him make his way to the kitchen, taking off his coat, but she didn't follow. She was second guessing herself. What was she thinking? This was Castle, for Christ's sake. She had to work with him every day. This was a terrible, terrible idea. She should go. Just say she didn't feel well and that she'd catch him tomorrow at work. Maybe take a rain check if he insisted, even though she had no intention of honoring it.
She was opening her mouth to say it, to lie her way out of a situation that could potentially make her emotional and vulnerable, when Castle appeared with two filled wine glasses. He saw her standing by the front door, her coat still on, and stopped. He smiled.
"You didn't take your coat off."
She looked down at herself and her coat. "Yeah…"
When she looked back up he was setting the wine glasses down on a table by the couch. He walked toward her, his eyes fixed on hers. He stopped in front of her, but didn't touch her. He waited until she met his eyes on her own, and then took a step forward so that his body was close to hers.
Kate did it automatically, without even thinking. She took a step back. Castle smiled, took another step forward. Kate stepped back. Her back bumped against the door. Castle took the final step, closing in on her, his eyes dancing.
"You having second thoughts about your dare?"
She swallowed. "What would make you say that?"
She tried to scoot toward the right, but his hand was suddenly planted on the door next to her head, blocking her escape. He leaned some of his weight on it casually. "Oh, I don't know. You seem…skittish."
"Skittish?" Kate repeated. "Don't be ridiculous. I asked for the dare, didn't I?"
She scooted to her left this time, but Castle's hand was suddenly planted on that side too. She was now effectively trapped between the door, Castle's body, and his two arms. She tried not to look at his arms. Did he lift weights? They were sort of big for someone who just wrote for a living…
"That's true," Castle answered. "But you don't have to stay."
"No. I would never make you stay. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't be really, really disappointed if you left."
His eyes burned into her and she felt a stab of white hot heat somewhere down south. Jesus, she wanted him. So badly. All those times of almost and not quite and what if…it all came down to this, didn't it? She couldn't leave. Not even if she wanted to. And she definitely didn't want to. Oh, the things she would do to him…
Kate lifted her hands and slowly undid the top button her coat. She watched as Castle's eyes flickered down to watch her hands, and then back up. She smirked at him. She undid the next button, and the next. She knew he was fighting to keep his eyes on hers, but she also knew he'd fail. And he did. His eyes moved down to her hands and watched. She reached the last button and her coat came open. She rolled her shoulders back and the coat slid down her arms and onto the floor into a puddle of fabric at her feet.
Castle looked up at her and she smiled haughtily. She lifted her hand, fiddled with the top button of his shirt, and then flicked it open. She leaned forward, raising up on her toes, and stopped an inch from his mouth. "Be a good boy and hang up my coat for me, will you?"
Kate ducked under his arm and headed for the wine glasses before Castle knew what was happening. Once her fingers closed around a glass and lifted it to her lips, she allowed herself to turn around and look at him. He had her coat folded over his arm, but he hadn't moved to hang it up. He was leaning against the door, watching her. She arched an eyebrow at him over the rim of her glass.
"You're gawking again."
"Do you mind?"
Kate lifted a shoulder carelessly. "Not really." She turned away from him and started walking through his loft, her fingers trailing along the back of his leather couch. "This really is a great place."
She heard the door of the coat closet shut and turned around. Castle grabbed his own wine glass on his way toward her. "Thanks. I picked it for the security."
"Gotta fight off all those adoring fans, right?"
"Well there's that. And Alexis."
He stopped in front of her and brought his glass to his lips, holding her eyes while he drank. Kate just watched him, her eyes roaming down to his mouth that covered the edge of his glass. A flurry of color, heat, and light crashed through her mind, and for a moment all she could see was her imagination's idea of what it would look like to have him hovering over her.
"So," Castle said, lowering his glass.
"So," she repeated.
Kate let him search her eyes, wondering what he was going to say. She would eat her badge before she ever admitted it, but she secretly liked the feeling she got in the pit of her stomach when she wasn't sure what was going to come out of his mouth next. Especially when he was standing this close.
"You never told me," he said in a low voice.
"Told you what?"
"What you've been thinking all night. I dared you to do what you were thinking, but you never actually told me what it was you were thinking."
She smiled. "Would you like to guess?"
"Expert," he muttered, shaking his head and smiling at her in awe. "You're an expert at playing hard to get."
"Are you complaining?"
"No. I like the chase."
Kate downed the rest of the wine in her glass and then lifted a hand to pat him on the chest. "Keep chasing, Castle. Maybe you'll get to the finish line eventually."
For the second time that night Kate stepped around a dangerously close Richard Castle and walked away. She knew she was taking playing hard to get to a completely new level, but really for them it wasn't all that new. She'd been playing hard to get for a long time now, starting the day when she'd whispered in his ear that he had no idea what he was missing.
She headed into his kitchen this time, toward the fridge. She opened it when she got there, saw the bottle of Pinot Noir, and took it out. When she turned back to the expansive island counter in the middle of the kitchen, Castle was already by her side. He reached for her, plucking her wine glass and the bottle of wine out of her hand and setting them on the counter. Then he slid his arms around her waist and hauled her up against him. She swallowed, reminded herself to breathe, and met his eyes.
"No more running, Kate."
"No more games."
"I thought you liked games."
He pushed his body into her, walking her backward, and she felt the edge of the countertop connect with her back. She bit her lip. Castle leaned forward slowly, but he didn't go for her mouth; instead he went for her ear, pulling the lobe into his mouth and nipping at it with his teeth. His tongue was warm and wet and Kate let her eyes flutter closed. God that felt good.
"Kate," he murmured in her ear.
She shivered. She tilted her head just to the left, exposing her neck, and he went there next. Light kisses, bites, the flicking of his tongue…she was trembling. Her breathing was catching in her throat, giving it away to Castle just how much of an effect he had on her. His hand caressed its way up her side to the front of her blouse, and he pulled his mouth away from her ear as his fingers slipped down the neck of the blouse. She felt the chain that ran through her mother's ring move, and when she glanced down she saw him holding the ring in his fingers. She looked up at him. He was looking down at the ring, smiling at it, and when he looked up at her she felt like her entire body had erupted into an inferno.
"Will you leave it on?"
Another blaze of heat seared through her. She could've pretended she didn't know what he was talking about. Could've played it coy, or flirty, or anything. But she didn't.
She reached up and took the ring out of his hands. "I never have before."
"There's a first time for everything."
Kate let the double meaning sink in, and then sidestepped his question with an expertise that was impressive.
"You know what they say about writers and their muses?"
"They say they shouldn't sleep together. It ruins the illusion."
The corner of his mouth lifted in a half smile. "I'm sure it does, for men who want their illusions. Fortunately for me, I never wanted Nikki Heat. I only want you."
And then, before she knew what was happening, he leaned forward and kissed her. It caught her off guard. She had been expecting wordplay, not a kiss. But God, it was a good surprise. Something exploded in the back of Kate's brain as she closed her eyes and kissed him back. The explosion rocketed through her body, hurtling through her veins, spreading a heat that was centralized in the same place she'd been warm all night. She was kissing Castle. Rick Castle. Famous novelist. Her pseudo-partner. She was kissing him.
Damn, he was a good kisser.
She lifted her hands and rested them gently on his abs, then trailed them up to his chest, over his shoulders, around his neck, and into his hair. As her arms closed around his neck he squeezed her with his fingertips, gripping her hips tightly. Kate nipped at his bottom lip with her teeth and felt Rick grin. She grinned too. She parted her lips in invitation, and he didn't hesitate.
His kisses got better as they got deeper. His tongue slid in and out of her mouth, demanding, unrelenting, and she felt herself slipping out of control. For the first time in her life, she didn't care. She wanted to be out of control. He was right. She wanted to laugh, and Lord knew he could make her laugh. Drove her crazy and annoyed the hell out of her sometimes, but the man could make her laugh. And she wanted to be out of control. She wanted to feel something. And right now, feeling was all she was capable of.
His hands were on the move, and Kate felt them as if they were on fire. He was back up at the top of her blouse again, and she thought he was reaching for her ring when she noticed the top button of her blouse came undone. And then another. And another. She moved her arms from around his neck, darted her hands down toward the buttons on his shirt, and ripped the shirt clean open before he could finish her buttons. She slid the shirt off of his body and tossed it away.
"That what you had in mind on page 105?" she murmured against his lips.
He smiled and kissed her as his fingers finished her buttons. Her shirt was sliding off as he put his mouth next to her ear again. "I thought your clothes weren't coming off, Detective?"
"Shut up, Castle."
He surprised her by hoisting her up on the counter then easily pulling himself up and on top of her. He did have nice arms. Damn, the counter was cold on her skin. Suddenly it didn't matter as she felt the heat of Rick's body on top of her. She raked her nails up his back.
"And if I don't?" he teased, hovering over her.
She traced her nails down his abs, grinning when his muscles went taut and he sucked in a breath. She nibbled his bottom lip as her hands came to rest on his belt buckle.
"Then you won't get to see how my handcuffs work."
He shut up.