LINKED

"Seriously?"

He worked his fingers against the cufflinks, but they didn't budge, caught tight in the navy fabric, wedged in a way he'd never seen before, especially at such an inopportune moment.

"You coming, Castle?"

Her voice was dark, alluring, and he looked up from his task to find her reclining on the black bedspread, her fingers toying with the edges of the stark white sheets, finally flipping them down, making space for him.

His eyes drifted from her graceful hands to the rest of her, smooth curves encased in wholly frivolous red lace and what looked to be black satin. Had she been wearing *that* under her conservative turtleneck and blazer all day? He redoubled his cufflink efforts.

"Trying," he muttered. "Really trying."

"C'mere," she said softly, and he lifted his gaze to her once more, found her watching him with sparkling eyes and pursed lips, and that might just be his favorite look on her amused affection.

Well, no. Not his favorite look. His favorite was when he had her-

Yeah, not helping. If anything, his fingers were becoming less deft by the second. Possibly they weren't receiving enough blood to keep him dexterous.

He stumbled over his own feet on his way to her, nearly faceplanted into her chest, which, you know, wouldn't be the worst thing ever. Still after the disaster that was his attempt at a Valentine's Day gift, he'd have like to have been a little more suave for the rest of the evening.

She caught him by the elbows though, and he managed to get a knee up on the bed before he smashed into her.

"Having some trouble there, stud?" she asked, her voice pitched lower than he'd heard it in awhile, a hint of pink tongue peeking out as she smirked at him.

"Damn cufflinks," he grumbled, and gave up as her fingers replaced his at his sleeve.

He began working at the rest of his shirt instead, the buttons fortunately proving far less of a challenge, even with the use of only one hand.

Her growl startled him, and he instinctively shied away from her, unable to go far with the grip she had on his sleeve.

"What the hell did you do, Castle?" she asked incredulously. "Superglue these?"

He got the feeling an answer wasn't actually required.

She gave up on his right cuff then, dropping his arm and reaching for his left hand, which had just started working on his belt. He followed her lead, happily surrendering his left arm and resuming his task with his right hand.

"Ha," he exhaled as he belt slipped free of the clasp, the button on his pants following quickly.

He toed off his shoes, working his toes into the back of one sock and then the other, and when both shoes and socks were kicked to somewhere on the other side of the room, he shimmied his hips, the dark fabric sliding over his thighs and pooling around his ankles.

She was still working on his cuffs.

"Still?" he wondered aloud, and when he looked up at her face, she was glaring at him.

She huffed at him. "Oh, like you were doing any better."

His free hand tried to help her then, but she batted it away, and so he moved on to the next best target: her.

Sliding his palm around her side, he pulled her closer, his fingers climbing over her shoulder blades to brush her hair away from her neck so his lips could find that spot that they both loved.

"Not helping," she grunted, shuddering as he laid an open-mouthed kiss against the tight muscle, his teeth grazing her pulse point.

"I tried," he murmured, nuzzling the soft skin under her ear. "You wouldn't let me."

He continued to work at her with his mouth and free hand, could feel her fingers growing more and more frantic with every passing moment.

Finally she pulled away, and he was certain she was going to make him give it another go.

She didn't.

She spun him until he was facing her dresser, his drawer still open.

"Kate? What are you-"

And then his shirt was sliding over his shoulders, bunching around his wrists as she tugged at the fabric.

"Two options," she whispered into his ear suddenly, her breath hot and moist against his skin, her lace covered breasts pressed against his bare back.

He managed a grunt that apparently passed for an answer, because she continued, her fingers dancing around his biceps to get at his stomach and coming to rest just under the waistband of his boxers.

"Scissors," she murmured, her teeth closing over his earlobe. He shivered.

"Or?" he asked, turning his head to meet eyes that glinted dangerously.

Her gaze dropped to his mouth. "Creativity."

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