Shards of Life - Chapter 2

“Yes! Who’s the man?! I’m the man!”

“Richard!” Martha Rogers succeeded in regally descending the stairs holding a script in one hand, a Martini in the other, all the while scowling prettily at her son. “What is all this ruckus about?”

Richard Castle froze in the middle of his celebratory dance. “Mother, guess who just set a new record in Angry Birds?” He blinked innocently at her. “Yours truly.”

Martha rolled her eyes. “Still playing with your phone, I see. Don’t you have anything better to do?” She set her empty cocktail glass on the coffee table and touched his arm. “Like going down to the precinct and spend the day with lovely Detective Beckett?”

She demurely checked her watch. “It’s past nine already and she hasn’t called yet. You cannot tell me no one has been murdered today.”

Castle sighed gravely. “She took a few days off, Mother. I believe I told you that.”

She merely shrugged, watching as her son’s face lost all traces of mirth, transforming her little boy into the serious, and slightly heartbroken, man, that made too many appearances of late.

“She said she needed space. But I guess she just wanted some time alone with Josh.”

“Darling.” Martha patted his arm. “If you would only open up to her. Tell her how you feel—”

“Mother,” he interrupted with that snippy tone of voice he’s rarely used when Detective Beckett had been single, “let it go.”

She snapped her fingers. “Fine! I’ll let it go. I only wish you’d let it go as well, then. Stop moping around. Stop playing stupid phone games. Just go to the precinct even if she’s not there. Those two detectives are there, are they not? They’re your friends as well, maybe they’ll let you tag along. Or go to that bar of yours and stop contaminating this house with your ill humor.”

She turned on her high heel with all the drama in her body and swept back up the stairs, leaving Richard Castle staring dejectedly into nothingness.

The slam of a door upstairs brought him out of his miserable reverie. He looked at the screen of his phone, willing it to ring.

It didn’t.

She didn’t call. She wouldn’t call, she said she needed some time to think about things. But he really wished she’d call. He wanted to tell her about his record braking performance in Angry Birds. And if he called she’d just go all prissy on him for bothering her in her downtime.

A sigh later, he was once again sprawled on his couch, fiddling with his phone.




Back at her desk, she was excelling at multitasking—reading a file, drinking green tea, tapping on her keyboard for more info on that morning’s victim, all the while holding the receiver between left shoulder and cheek—when her two favorite detectives walked toward her desk.

She motioned for them to sit with the hand still holding the tall paper cup, holding up the other hand in a sign for them to wait.

“I appreciate that, Luke.” She looked at her computer screen. “Yeah, I just received it. Thanks. I owe you one, man.”

She set the phone and paper cup down and looked first into a par of brown and then a pair of blue eyes. “The shit just hit the fan, boys.”

“ID came back on the body?”

She nodded, handing them two identical files. “Here’s the info.”

A string of muttered expletives sounded as they opened them.

“No way.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

She leaned back in her chair. “Way, and I wish I was kidding.”

“Does Rick know about this?”

“He’s on his way, but he only knows that we discovered a body. I preferred not telling him on the phone.” She looked at them gravely. “We need to keep this on the down low. Less people know about this, the better. I don’t want a media frenzy on this, you got me?”

“Loud and clear.”

“Gotcha.”

The elevator pinged and a chorus of “Ricky!”s filled the air.

She grabbed another file and walked toward her grinning partner, with the two detectives in tow.

When Rick saw her, his eyes travelled down her legs, back up, and he winked. “Nice shoes, Detective.” He looked around. “Call all the crooks in NYC and tell them it’s safe for them out there today. She can’t chase them in those stilts.”

Chuckles and good-natured ribbing filled the air. Everybody knew she was more than capable of outrunning them all, even in heels.

Smiles disappeared and seasoned officers started looking around for a place to hide at her chilling look.

Rick’s grin vanished. “Who was she?” he asked softly.

Without a word she led the way to the small conference room to their left. When the three men filed in after her, she closed the door, gave the last member of their little task force his copy of the file, and set in her usual chair.

She watched him as he read, his expression changing from slight boredom to wide-eyed surprise, finally settling on grim acceptance.

“Shit.”

“My sentiments exactly.” She leaned forward, interlocking her fingers in front of her on the table. “What’s in the file is just the tip of the iceberg, gentlemen. The icing on the cake, if you like. Luke sent me the rest. I forwarded it to your PDAs. It’s encrypted. You all know the password.” She looked at each of them. “I’m still waiting for the autopsy report. Until we get a better picture, we need to keep this quiet. For now only a selected few know. The M.E., the Cap, and Luke. And they’ll keep it shut. No one else knows until I say they can, you got me?”

All three nodded at the same time. Though it was obvious they wanted to ask the reason for such secrecy, no one questioned her.

“Good. Go read the rest of the info, find anything else that could be relevant, and we’ll meet again here in one hour. And keep those,” she waved at the three folders on the table, “under the proverbial lock and key.”

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