"Took me a long time to find that one."

He glances up from the book in his hands to meet her eyes. She stands a few yards away across the room, one foot tucked behind her ankle, cradling her mug in all ten fingers and watching him through the wafting steam.

"What do you mean?" he asks quietly, tilting his head.

She gives him a soft smile and shifts, setting her raised foot back on the floor and padding toward him. "My mom had most of your books, and when she died, I took them, added to her collection with each new novel you released."

"You-" he starts, has to clear his throat before he can continue. "You did?"

She nods, stepping up to his side. "I did."

He watches her for a moment, waits for her to elaborate, but she stays silent. Finally she extends the mug toward him with one hand, crooking the fingers of the other. He takes the hot ceramic, passes over the book.

"Don't go drinking my coffee now, Castle," she cautions. "You're on cupholder duty only."

His lips quirk in a smile and he nods. "Noted."

Carefully she flips open the worn cover of At Dusk We Die, her fingers smoothing over the yellowed, dog-eared pages.

"I had trouble tracking down this one though," she murmurs. "My mom didn't have it, and it was out of print by the time I realized and started looking for it."

He chuckles. "Yes, well, a vampire biker gang. They didn't exactly do multiple printings."

She lifts her eyes from the book with the weathered spine, raising it slightly higher in the space between them. "Looks like someone loved it though."

"I guess," he says with a shrug, meeting her eyes and giving her a quick wink. "Maybe it'll be like the Velveteen Rabbit."

She laughs, bright and clear, the sound piercing his chest. "You mean if someone loves it enough it'll become a real book?"

He nods, grinning at her now. "I'm hoping. Not exactly my finest work."

He notices that she doesn't refute his statement, but she does bump his shoulder with hers. His eyes flick toward the mug he holds, hoping the sudden jarring won't end with hot coffee spilling onto his hands. It doesn't; she's already made it halfway through the cup.

"You could have asked me," he says quietly after a moment. "I could have gotten you a copy. I probably even have an extra at home."

"I know," she answers in the same soft tone. "But it's always been more fun to scour the shelves for books I want but don't have. It's like a treasure hunt."

Nudging her side gently with his elbow, he waits until she looks up. "I know you do enjoy a good treasure hunt."

"Mmm," she affirms. "Never know what you'll discover."

"Guess so."

He watches as her index finger runs along the edge of the title page, top to bottom, before carefully lifting the paper it to reveal a scrawled message on the next page. "Take this for example."

She turns the book to face him, her finger tapping just above the inked words.

My dearest Elaine, I can't for the life of me understand why, but I know these books make you happy, and I want that for you always. ~Your William

Castle chuckles, glances up at his partner, but she's not laughing. Her eyes still rest on the page, and there's something serious in her expression, hopeful. His breath catches in his throat.

"I love used books," she says, lifting her gaze to his.

He nods. "They tell more than one story."

Her lips curl in a closed-mouth smile, her eyes soft and luminous in the dim light of her living room. "Exactly."

"Next time, call me," he says, something in her face giving him courage. "I love a good treasure hunt."

"What if I'm not looking for one of your books?" she asks, neither her voice nor her face giving anything away. Still. The brightness of her eyes tells him she's teasing.

He shrugs. "Even so. I helped you dig up a buried chest in a graveyard. I think I can handle a bookstore."

She regards him for a moment, opens her mouth briefly and then closes it again.

"What?" he asks.

She shakes her head, her eyes dropping back to the book. "Nothing. I just-"

When she doesn't finish the thought he leans toward her, lets their arms brush lightly, affectionately. He's feeling bold tonight. "What is it, Kate?"

Her gaze lifts at his use of her first name, and she smiles. "You helped me find this one."

Surprise and pleasure flare in his chest. "I did? How?"

She laughs, her cheeks turning a rosy pink. He doesn't understand her embarrassment.

"Uh," she begins, and laughs again. "You tweeted about it."

"I did?"

She nods. "You did."

"I didn't know you followed me on Twitter," he says with a grin. "What's your handle?"

Burnished bronze tresses catch the low light as she shakes her head. "Don't have one."

He narrows his eyes, pursing his lips and nodding knowingly. "Lurker then?"

"Guess so," she shrugs. "I just check up on you from time to time, try to make sure you're staying out of trouble and that I won't be dealing with any fallout from your crazy thoughts."

"Hey," he retorts, putting a hand to his chest. "I would never-"

He pauses. "Oh, that's a look. Shutting up now."

Her glare softens back into affection, and she looks down once more. "Thank you though. For this. I'd almost given up hope of finding it."

Heart thudding almost painfully in his chest, he takes a chance, reaches out and sets his hand gently over hers.

"You're welcome," he murmurs, giving her fingers a single squeeze before he withdraws his touch - one step at a time. "Now, since you've got your coffee and a second wind, do you want to look at those case files again?"

She nods, lifts her eyes to his as she sets the book back in its place. "Yeah. That'd be good."

He passes over her coffee once more. She takes it with a smile, nodding when he gestures toward the table with folders and papers strewn across the surface.

She glances back at him over her shoulder once she's halfway across the room, lower lip tucked under her teeth, little girl mischief in her eyes. "Aren't you gonna ask me how I knew where to look for the book? You didn't say anything about the bookstore in your tweet."

He shakes his head, grinning at her surprise. "Nah. Ryan always tells me when you ask him to track my phone. Man code."

Author's note:!/WriteRCastle/status/182522790346362881

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