"Castle, no!"

She struggles against his grip, but he holds her down and does it again. She gasps, pushing up on her elbows to look at him, to see if there's any way she can escape.

No such luck. His broad shoulders pin her legs to the mattress, and he's too heavy for her to shove him off.

She settles for glaring at him instead, but he just gives her a wicked grin in response, lowering his mouth to her hipbone, getting a good seal, and then huffing wetly against her skin.

Her breathless laugh mingles with the noise of the third raspberry he's blown on her, the sounds echoing through her bedroom.

He lifts one hand from her knee - where he probably placed it so she couldn't kick him in the stomach when her reflexes got the best of her - and coasts it up to rest on her rib cage.

She slides her own hand down from her collarbone, scoops his fingers up in hers, brushes her thumb back and forth across his knuckles.

This is what she's been missing, what she'd hoped she'd find in him. The man practically exudes heat sometimes - and yes, she mentally groans at her own play on words - but she's had hot before.

Josh understood anatomy. Knew where to touch, what level of pressure to use to maximize their mutual pleasure. There's no doubt he was good at sex.

But Castle understands nuance. He understands subtext, and that sometimes what's not said or done is as important as what is. And he has an imagination. He's playful, and he frees her to be playful as well.

He'd stripped her of her pants the same way he'd done everything else - slowly, carefully, letting his strong fingers linger against the inseam as he pulled down the zipper, allowing his short nails to graze across her inner thighs as he tugged on the thin black fabric.

And then he let his lips trail up from her ankle, pausing to nuzzle at the ticklish back of her knee for a moment before proceeding up her thigh to her hip.

That's where he's spent the last couple of minutes, stroking and kissing and driving her crazy.

But of course, he's always driven her crazy, so really, that's nothing new.

Even the look on his face - that mixture of lust and purely tender affection - is one she has glimpsed before today.

What is new is the peace she sees in his gentle blue eyes, the contentment.

"Only you," she whispers, and lifts her other hand to rake it through his tousled dark hair about which he is usually so particular.

He smiles and props his chin on her recently tortured hipbone.

"Only me what?"

His voice is soft, velvety, his breath warm against her bare skin.

She squeezes his hand in hers and uses the other to brush the hair away from his forehead.

"Only you would blow raspberries on me in bed," she murmurs, and he grins. "Only you could make me laugh like this."

He drops his head, nudges his nose into the crease of her thigh, pressing a kiss against the border between fabric and flesh. The little gesture makes her breathing stutter, and his expression when he turns back to see her face causes her heart to race.

"Only you would let me," he says quietly, a gentle happiness infusing every word.

She laughs again.

"Actually, I seem to recall telling you to stop."

He shrugs, the skin of his chest sliding smoothly against her legs.

"Yeah, but you didn't mean it," he says cheekily, leaning down again to graze his teeth against her. "Besides, you didn't say your safe word."

She flicks his ear, shaking her head at him when he glances up.

"I don't have a safe word, Castle."

He clasps her hand tightly for a moment and then pulls out of her grip, leveraging himself up onto his knees between her legs. The writer looks her up and down, studying her, and she feels a full-body flush rising in her skin at his frank appreciation.

Setting a hand on either hip, he tucks his fingers under the waistband of her one remaining piece of clothing. His eyes meet hers, and her gaze drops to his mouth when his tongue flicks out to moisten his lips before he speaks.

"Might be a good time to decide on one then."

He's never found dark blue cotton more attractive in his entire life. Of course, when she came to his loft Saturday, she'd only planned to spend the one night. And he knew she definitely hadn't planned to sleep with him. So it's not like she would have packed red lace.

When she appeared in the kitchen that morning after her shower, he'd raised an eyebrow at her wardrobe. He'd figured she'd be wearing yesterday's clothes, or might have even borrowed some of his. The very thought of her in one of his shirts had his heart pounding.

But there she stood, dressed in black slacks and that green blouse.

"Habit," she'd told him. Packing double, just in case of a mishap, something she'd picked up as a rookie who often ended up doing dirty jobs.

And from childhood summer camp experiences as well – apparently it was always better to have extra underwear and socks.

Now, however, as much as he likes the looks of her *with* the cotton panties, he's fairly certain he'd prefer her without.

He watches her face the entire time.

His fingertips brush her skin, and her whole body twitches, but it's the subtle relaxation of her jaw muscles that tells him this is really, truly, exactly what she wants.

If he sensed any discomfort, any reluctance on her part, he'd stand up, get dressed, and – if she wanted – pretend tomorrow that this never happened.

But there's nothing, nothing in her eyes but pleasure and desire and oh…love.

He presses his lips to her left kneecap, lifting her leg slightly to pull the cloth past the joint.

Castle knows, knows without a doubt, that Kate will tease him later - possibly for years, hopefully for years - about how she had to resort to nipple twisting to get him to undress her.

But really, if someone had told him on Saturday when he hung up the phone after her crime scene call that he'd be nearly naked in bed with Kate Beckett less that forty-eight hours later, he'd have laughed.

Maybe the idea that he could have been dreaming is a little ridiculous to her, but not to him. Not when he's been waiting for this moment for years, been in love with her for ages. Not when so much has changed so rapidly that his head is practically spinning.

It's been only two days - not even that really - and both of their secrets have come out. They've laughed together, cried together, gone to sleep and woken up together. Together. It's a beautiful word.

This is it for him. And he thinks it might just be it for her as well.

He curls his fingers around her ankle and pulls the fabric away, then repeats the step on the other side.

His eyes shut briefly of their own accord, but her voice calls to him, and he can do nothing but answer.

"Castle," she says softly, and he opens his eyes, lets them drift – finally – up her body, over the curves of her calves, past the strong lines of her thighs.

He pauses. Can't help it. Her legs lay flat, but open, baring all to him, and he's hit by an overwhelming wave of need.

Forcing his examination to continue past her center, his eyes skim over her toned but soft belly, across her perfect breasts and the scars that mar, and yet somehow add to her beauty.

He reaches the long column of her throat, sees the muscles contract as she swallows, and proceeds to the defiant chin, the lips parted in a breathless smile, her slender nose, and finally her eyes, oh her eyes.

Her eyes have whispered her secrets to him for years, maybe since that first case when he found himself spinning a story, a tragedy, for her life and suddenly discovered that he was all too right in his theorizing. Her eyes spoke then of a bone-deep ache that he desperately wanted to ease.

But now, now they sparkle with delight and beckon him to her mouth, invite him to explore this uncharted territory freshly revealed to him.

He rocks forward on his knees and braces his hands on either side of her chest as he leans down to kiss her. Her mouth meets his hungrily, opening to him and letting him devour her. One strong, but delicate hand curls around his neck, fingers playing with his short hair. The other palms his chest for a moment, nails rasping against his pecs, then slides under his arm to knead at his back.

A jolt of want shoots through his veins when she presses her head back into the pillow. He tries to follow, but she breaks from his mouth, her hot breath washing over his lips.

"Closer, Castle," she begs. "I need you closer."

He dips his head to kiss her again, but she turns so his lips land on her cheek instead.

"Kate?" he asks, confused.

But then her fingers feather down his spine until they can slip under the waistband of his boxers, brushing the sensitive skin over the sacrum and sending his hips jerking into hers.

She groans in unison with him and then hooks her thumb into the elastic and pushes down, her other hand deserting his neck to aid its partner.

"Get these off," she insists, voice low and dangerous, and he doesn't hesitate to shift his weight onto one elbow so he can have a free hand to comply with her demands as quickly as possible.

The change presses his entire torso firmly into hers and he has to take a deep breath to regain any coherent thought at the still-new feel of her breasts against his chest. He buries his face in the crook of her neck and twists his body and tugs roughly on his boxers to get them over his hips, right leg bending as she helps him with one side, and then the left as he forces the fabric down the other.

This would be infinitely easier if he rolled to her side, or pushed himself off so he could use both hands. But he can't bring himself to desert the feel of her body flush with his. Not even for a moment.

She turns her head and sinks her teeth into his earlobe and then her leg is wrapping around his lower thigh, foot pressing against the back of his knee and sliding the fabric down until he can shake it off. She repeats the action on the other side, and he kicks off the boxers completely, sending them flying away to who knows where.

Fingers digging into the muscles, her hands on his rear pull him closer as her legs wrap around him further until they are perfectly aligned and he can feel ever inch of her body against his. One small shift, and...

He grunts and she laughs softly in his ear. How she's even capable of speech he isn't sure, but then, he *has* always thought she's extraordinary. And no more than at this moment when she whispers in his ear, her husky voice joyful and wanting and absolutely bewitching.

"We do make a pretty good team, you know?"

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