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Three Little Words

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He looks down at his watch and realizes he's been waiting for over an hour when he finally sees her. He doesn't realize that he's staring at her in awe of her beauty. She spies him sitting in a private back room of the restaurant. She wonders how he got the restaurant to let him use the room, then she remembers that he's Richard Castle, author of the bestselling Nikki Heat novels. He can get anything he wants.

His face lights up when she walks in the room. She feels the heat rise in her cheeks as she smiles back at him. It's the little things he does that makes her go crazy. He slides the chair out for her so she can sit.

As they talk over glasses of chilled champagne, his mind begins to wander. He wonders where she's been. He knows he shouldn't worry about it because she was probably at her apartment with Lanie, trying to decide what to wear, or at least he hopes she was. The soothing sound of her voice brings him from his thoughts.

"Castle… Castle… Rick! Are you listening to a word I said?"

She glares at him with the glare she usually reserves for suspects or when she's really pissed at him.

"Of course I'm not. How can I when I have this sexy, beautiful detective as my girlfriend?"

As he spoke his suave voice sent chills down her spine.

"You can try to hide it all you want with your flirting but I know you were worrying about me again."

"NO! I wasn't. I swear."

"Come on, Castle, wasn't it you who said we needed to be honest with each other? How is this being honest?"

"I was, okay! I mean, you're never late, Kate. I… I was just afraid something had happened to you, seeing as you're never late to any of the dates when we decide if we're going to meet some where for once. How was I suppose to react when I was here and you weren't? For all I know you could have been attacked by one of your many enemies!"

Uh-oh, Castle was standing up. He must be really pissed now, she thinks to herself.

"I was with a friend, Rick. He stopped by this morning for a surprise visit for the first time in years and we talked, just talked Castle. When I did look at the clock, I realized that I was running late. I wasn't even ready. I was about to put on my dress when I realized I didn't pick it up from the cleaners this morning. He realized I didn't have a dress and decided to get to the point of why he was here. He said he came to give me I dress that I had left at his house years ago."

"Who is this friend? Why did he have your dress? And has he seen you naked?

Castle anxiously questions Beckett.

"To answer your questions Castle, one I won't tell you who he is because he won't want me to. Two, he invited me to a gala he was hosting years ago, things got pretty heated and one thing led to another. I left the next morning to leave for my flight back and forgot about the dress. Three, he was my boyfriend at the time, so what do you think?"

With a bit of frustration, Beckett hits Castle on the arm.

"Well Miss Beckett, I didn't need to know about what happened after the party."

Castle puts on one of his many faces that always seemed to cheer her up. Kate knows he was merely teasing her seeing that just a few short years ago, he walked in on her and Josh going at it on her apartment floor.

"But I hope someday that I will be your last," whispers Castle as he reaches across the table to hold her hand.

"I…I…Castle…I-"

"Shh, I'm not pressuring you into anything, Kate. I just… I just want you to know that you will always be my last. You're it for me, Kate. I love you that much."

By now, tears were starting to fall slowly down her face. For the first time since she'd met Richard Castle, she was at loss for words. Castle had said the right words to her and now she knows that no matter what happens between them, he will always love her.

"Rick, I'm not sure what I want right now. I mean, I know I want forever and I know I want it to be with you, but I don't think I'm ready for forever right now. And I don't know if I'm ready to say those three little words to you. Yet. I want to say them to you but I need to make sure that I mean them with both my heart and my mind. And I'm not 100% sure that I wont bolt as soon as something bad happens. I just want to be sure."

Those words, just those words, makes Castle's heart break and heal at the same time. As he thought about what she said, it dawned on him how every man he'd met that she has dated has always wanted something more from her than what she was willing to give them. With this relationship, he wanted to let her wait until she knew in her heart that he was it for her. For her, He would wait forever.