3x23 Transcript

Transcribed by:
McManda
CASTLE
EPSIODE 3x23
"Pretty Dead"


INT – HOTEL BALLROOM

Pageant girls are rehearsing their dance routine opening number to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”. Things are going well until they turn around. Up in the scaffolding is the body of Miss Illinois.

INT – CASTLE’S LOFT

It’s early. RICHARD CASTLE sits at the breakfast bar eating breakfast when ALEXIS CASTLE comes down the stairs. She’s on the phone.

ALEXIS CASTLE
Illinois? That’s like five hundred miles from Manhattan. No, I know Northwestern is closer than Stanford. I’m just saying that’s not where you want to go.

RICHARD CASTLE
Alexis?

ALEXIS
Hold on Ash, my dad’s talking to me. (to CASTLE) What?

CASTLE
Don’t you have school?

ALEXIS
Yes. (back to her phone call) Look Ash, I know you and I think you need to get away from home. I mean, we all need to get away from home.

CASTLE
Hey.

ALEXIS
I gotta go. We’ll talk about this later. Love you too. ‘Bye.

CASTLE
We all need to get away from home?

ALEXIS
No, I should never leave. We can be the father daughter version of ‘Grey Gardens’.

CASTLE
Ew. You look like you didn’t get any sleep.

ALEXIS
I didn’t. I mean, Ashley got his college acceptances. He got in everywhere.

CASTLE
Oh that’s great!

ALEXIS gives him a look.

CASTLE
That’s not great?

ALEXIS
I looked up statistics for high school sweethearts when one of them goes to college out of state and the other stays in high school. The odds are not in our favor. I mean, I want him to go where he wants but I don’t want him to leave. And he doesn’t want to leave but I don’t want him to resent me for not going where he wants and … I don’t know what to do.

CASTLE
Well, do what I do. (ALEXIS gives him a questioning look) Look at the odds as a challenge.

ALEXIS
Says the man who always loses in Vegas.

CASTLE
Relationships are hard. Odds are you’ll figure it out.

CASTLE’S phone rings and ALEXIS picks it up to hand it to him.

ALEXIS
Odds are someone’s dead.

He mouths "thank you" as he answers the phone.

CASTLE
Castle.

EST – V.B TOWER

EXT – BALLROOM

CASTLE
You’ve got to be kidding me. A murder in the theater of the V.B Tower Hotel? Victor Baron’s place? It’s not the Baron, is it?

KATE BECKETT
No. But you won’t be disappointed. This one’s right up your alley.

CASTLE
Why’s that?

BECKETT
Because our victim is a contestant.

CASTLE
‘Death of a Beauty Queen’. Scandalous.

BECKETT
Yeah, I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often.

CASTLE
Is that America’s Dad, Bobby Stark? What’s he doing here?

BECKETT
He’s a pageant host. Oh please, don’t tell me you watch his sitcom.

CASTLE
Family Foibles? Half of what I know about being a father I learned from watching that show.

BECKETT just shakes her head as KEVIN RYAN walks up.

KEVIN RYAN
Hey, Beckett.

BECKETT
So what’s the story?

RYAN
Well, according to Candace Ford, our pageant manager, our victim is twenty one year old Amber Middleberry. The contestants were rehearsing the production number. When they brought in the lighting truss Amber was tangled up inside of it.

CASTLE
Must have been a show stopper.

BECKETT
Hey there, Perlmutter.

PERLMUTTER
Detective. Writer.

BECKETT
Cause of death?

PERLMUTTER
Choked from behind with her own sash. Probably between eleven PM and one AM.

CASTLE
How did she end up on the lighting truss?

RYAN
Near as we can tell the lighting truss was left onstage after yesterday’s rehearsal. Killer probably thought he’d buy some time by dumping her on it and raising it up to the rafters.

CASTLE
So whoever it was must have known how to use the stage equipment.

RYAN
No, the lift controls, they’re on touch screen. Pretty easy to operate.

BECKETT
When was she last seen alive?

RYAN
Last night. Contestants, they all went to a dinner to honor Victor Baron. Ten thirty the party wrapped and they were all limoed back here to the hotel. Amber used her key card at ten forty three PM to get into her hotel room. After that she wound up here.

PERLMUTTER
Detective, there’s something you should see.

He hands her an evidence bag.

BECKETT
A black sequin?

PERLMUTTER
Part of one. I found it in her hair.

BECKETT
Okay, so the killer might have transferred it when he strangled her. Let’s find out who had access to this ballroom last night and let’s also talk to the pageant manager. I want to see if any of the girl’s outfits match with this sequin.

RYAN
Will do.

BECKETT
So does Amber Middleberry have any family?

RYAN
Yeah. Just her … (he points) dad.

INT – HOTEL BALLROOM

CASTLE and BECKETT are sitting down with AMBER’S dad, DAN MIDDLEBERRY.

DAN
She started when she was nine. Little Miss Wholesome. I was against the idea at first but Amber’s mom had a bug about it and uh, right after her mother died … I think it just helped her feel closer to her.

BECKETT
Did your daughter have any enemies you know of?

DAN
No, of course not. Everybody loved her.

CASTLE
Well, what about the other contestants? Were there any rivalries?

DAN
She went way back with some of these girls. They … she … even after she made it to the semi-finals everybody was hugging her and they were calling her the front runner and … this pageant, this one, was her dream.

BECKETT
When was the last time you talked with her?

DAN
Yesterday morning. I tried to call her last night. I knew that dinner thing was over. I wanted to wish her luck, you know, but she didn’t answer the phone.

BECKETT
And what time was that?

DAN
A little before eleven. I uh … I thought she must have gone to sleep but she must have left her room and come down here for some reason.

VICTOR BARON
Dan! I am so sorry. Gonna get the bastard that did this, you have my word.

DAN
Thank you.

BARON
Detective? A word upstairs, if you don’t mind.

BARON turns and leaves the room and CASTLE and BECKETT give each other a look.

INT – BARON’S SUITE

BARON
This is a dark day. A sad chapter in Baron’s All American Beauty Pagent.

He give his wife a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

KAYLA BARON
Victor, this is just awful.

BARON
My wife, Kayla. You might recognize her as Baron’s All American Beauty 1995.

CASTLE
Yes, of course.

BECKETT
Nice to meet you.

KAYLA
Nice to meet you, yes. This is just devastating. For us, and for the girls. We’re like family.

CASTLE
How well did you know Amber?

BARON
Um… she was a sweet girl. Hell of a violinist.

KAYLA
Yes, she was.

BARON
Mark my words, I am putting the entire weight of the Baron empire behind this investigation. Anything you need, just say the word. Detective, I know you have to do your thing. I’m just hoping that since we’re airing the pageant live this Friday, if we could minimize the press, you know, to be fair to the other girls.

BECKETT
We’re going to have to be fair to our victim first. And speaking of press, can we get rid of the cameras? This is, after all, a murder investigation, not a reality show.

BARON
We um, we film everything. The behind the scenes at the pageant. We like to catch the girls talking about each other. We let them confess their hopes and fears. You get the glamour but you also get the underbelly. People love the underbelly.

KAYLA
Yes, they do.

BARON (finally caving under BECKETT's stare)
But maybe this isn’t the time.

He gestures for the cameramen to cut and leave.

BECKETT
So were all the girls staying at the hotel?

BARON
That’s right.

BECKETT
Okay, I’ll need access to Amber’s room. We’ll also need hotel security tapes. Now were those cameras recording last night’s dinner?

BARON
Of course.

BECKETT
Okay, we’ll need the footage. We’ll also need to interview all of the pageant contestants.

BARON
I’ll have Candace give you anything you need.

BECKETT
Great. Thank you very much. (to KAYLA) It was nice to meet you.

BECKETT and CASTLE leave.

KAYLA
Come again. (she realizes what she’s said) Oh no, we don’t –

BARON
We don’t want them to come again.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

CASTLE and BECKETT are headed back; they’re in the elevator.

CASTLE
Small town girl comes to New York for the fairy tale, ends up with a horror story.

BECKETT
Pageants aren’t fairy tales. They’re demanding, high pressure competitions that bring out the very best and the very worst in people.

CASTLE
That is the voice of experience. Oh my God, you were a beauty queen!

BECKETT
No. I had a roommate freshman year. Debbie Winaker. It was like living with Elle Woods on steroids.

The elevator doors open. The precinct is full of pageant girls being questioned by all sorts of police personnel.

CASTLE
Well then, this ought to bring back some memories.

CASTLE and BECKETT try to walk through the precinct but there are girls everywhere.

PAGEANT MOM
You’re slouching. Winners don’t slouch.

BECKETT
(whispered) Castle, they’re everywhere!

CASTLE
It smells like a perfume counter at a department store.

JAVIER ESPOSITO
It beats the usual lowlifes and nutjobs.

BECKETT
I don’t know if you can say that nutjobs and beauty queens are mutually exclusive.

ESPOSITO
Yeah, but none of them connect to the murder. I checked the sequin against all their dresses –

CASTLE
I bet you did.

ESPOSITO
And none of them are a match.

BECKETT
Okay, look at the footage from the dinner. Let’s make sure that the dresses we checked are the ones that they actually wore.

ESPOSITO
Hum. Watch a parade of beautiful women in evening attire? Yeah, I can do that.

CASTLE
I bet you can.

ESPOSITO leaves and RYAN appears.

RYAN
Hey, so, I’ve been interviewing these ladies –

CASTLE
I bet you did.

RYAN
About their alibis for last night. Anyway, there’s someone you should talk to.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT INTERVIEW ROOM

RYAN
Sascha, tell them what you told me.

SASCHA
When we got back to the hotel I wanted to work out a couple of my dance moves. I’m one of the semi finalists so I get to perform in the broadcast.

CASTLE
Congratulations.

SASCHA
Thanks. I’m doing an interpretive dance to J-Lo’s "I'm Into You".

CASTLE smiles and BECKETT just gives him a sidelong look.

BECKETT
And then what happened?

SASCHA
I changed into sweats and went to the stage and … that’s when I heard it.

BECKETT
You heard what?

SASCHA
Uh … a fight? It was coming from the dressing room. It was Amber and some guy.

CASTLE
Did you see the guy?

SASCHA
The door was closed. It started getting loud, so I bolted. But now I wish I had done something. I mean, maybe he’s the one who killed her.

BECKETT
His voice. Did you recognize it?

SASCHA
No.

CASTLE
What were they arguing about?

SASCHA
"How could you do this to me? You have no right. Who do you think you are?" Stuff like that. It kind of sounded like he was her boyfriend.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

RYAN
(hanging up the phone) That was Amber’s dad. He said he didn’t know anything about a boyfriend. Neither did any of the other girls.

CASTLE
Maybe she was keeping it a secret.

RYAN
They said if anyone knew what was going on in Amber’s life it was Justin Hankel, Amber’s pageant consultant.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT INTERVIEW ROOM

JUSTIN HANKEL
I coached her on her routine, interviews, oversaw stylists, makeup, clothing, violin lessons, glamour shots. Everything she needed to win.

BECKETT
The two of you must have spent a lot of time together.

JUSTIN
That’s what it takes. Today’s pageants are not just about beauty, they’re about brains, talent, social issues, and what with the money and the exposure at stake … winning one of the majors can launch a career.

BECKETT
What about a boyfriend? Was she in a relationship?

JUSTIN
No boyfriends. That is a rule for my clients and Amber was no exception. She knew that she needed to focus one hundred percent of her energy on the pageant.

BECKETT
You know, the night that she died, she got into an argument. Any idea with whom?

JUSTIN
No. The last time I saw her was before her dinner. But like I told that other detective, something was going on.

BECKETT
How so?

JUSTIN
She’d been off the last couple of days. Upset. And I went to pick her up for a costume fitting and it looked like she
had been crying.

CASTLE
Did you ask why?

JUSTIN
She said that someone was trying to take advantage of her. I asked her who but she said she would handle it. It wasn’t like her not to confide in me.

CASTLE
Could it have been one of the other contestants?

JUSTIN
(he shakes his head) There’s a lot of pressure on these girls to win. I mean, it can get really … political between them.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

CASTLE
Do you think it’s possible political turned deadly?

BECKETT
I don’t know. Winning means fame and fortune. No one remembers the runner up. Besides, people have killed for less.

CASTLE
That still doesn’t explain who she was arguing with.

ESPOSITO
Guys? I got something.

BECKETT
One of the girls?

ESPOSITO
Just watch.

ESPOSITO brings up a video of the pageant dinner on his computer.

ESPOSITO
This is from Baron’s dinner last night. That’s our victim, Amber. She’s laying it on thick for Victor Baron, but that’s not the interesting part. Now watch this. That. There. See that?

CASTLE
Look at her face.

BECKETT
Looks like whatever good guy sitcom star Bobby Stark said, she didn’t like it.

ESPOSITO
Don’t just look at her face. Look at his tux.

BECKETT
Black sequins.

CASTLE and ESPOSITO share a look. ESPOSITO has found something.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

ESPOSITO
Yo. Bobby Stark’s blazer, courtesy of the costume lady at the pageant.

BECKETT
And the broken black sequin?

ESPOSITO
Perfect match.

CASTLE
Bam, said the costume lady.

RYAN
Ooh … she’s not the only lady saying bam when it comes to Bobby Stark.

BECKETT
Does he have a record?

RYAN
Ah, no criminal charges, but Mr. Stark has quite the reputation. Three women filed restraining orders against Bobby Stark in the last year. All for unwanted advances.

CASTLE
How come I didn’t hear about this on TMZ?

RYAN
Oh, word is Stark paid quite a bit of cash to make it all go away. Oh, it gets better. I was talking to Candace Ford and a couple of the other girls – they said that Bobby Stark had started paying quite a lot of attention to Amber.

CASTLE
Maybe it was unwanted attention.

BECKETT
Maybe Bobby didn’t know how to take no for an answer.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT INTERROGATION ROOM

BOBBY STARK is waiting to be interrogated. To pass the time he’s doing De Niro impressions in the mirror.

BOBBY
You lookin’ at me? Huh? You lookin’ at me?

BECKETT and CASTLE enter but BOBBY doesn’t notice.

BECKETT
Mr. Stark, I’m Detective –

BOBBY
There’s nobody else around. You must be lookin’ at me.

BECKETT
Mr. Stark?

This catches his attention.

BECKETT
Have a seat, please.

BOBBY
Yeah. You like that bit? It’s my Bobby De Niro.

CASTLE
Playing a homicidal maniac.

TONY has taken the seat next to BECKETT, not across the table. She’s confused, as is CASTLE. CASTLE gives her an incredulous look but just pulls over the other chair.

BOBBY
Sold it though, right? See, I got this range as an actor but you probably don’t know about that because I’m always typecast as mister-nice-guy dad.

BECKETT
Yeah well, I don’t think you’ll have that problem now that you’re a murder suspect.

BOBBY
Murder suspect? Is she joking? Are you joking?

BECKETT
What was your relationship with Amber Middleberry?

BOBBY
Oh, c’mon. I didn’t kill her. If anything I was trying to recruit her.

BECKETT
Recruit her? For what?

BOBBY
For my, uh, goddess train.

CASTLE
The goddess train?

BOBBY
Yeah, it’s my own little private pageant.

BECKETT
And how did Amber respond to this oh so enticing offer?

BOBBY
You know what? She hadn’t seen the light yet. She was coming around. I could always tell the innocent act when I see it. Besides, who wouldn’t want to ride the Bobby Rocket?

CASTLE
Everyone, from what we hear.

BECKETT
Mr. Stark, here’s what I think happened. After dinner you invited Amber back to your dressing room and she had the bad sense to agree. And that’s when you decided to make another pitch to get her on board your goddess train.

CASTLE
When she shot you down, you flew into a rage and strangled her.

BECKETT
You were rehearsing on that stage all week. You knew all of the equipment.

BOBBY
Stop. Will you … just stop. You guys are crazy, you know that?

BECKETT
Okay well, maybe you can explain why we found this broken sequin from your jacket on her body. Where were you between eleven and one AM last night?

BOBBY
Uh … I don’t know. I’m a little foggy on that, actually. I was … uh… partying pretty hard.

CASTLE
Who were you with?

BOBBY
Um … not sure, but (he smells his shirt) whoever it was was definitely using strawberry oil.

BECKETT
Okay, so let me get this straight. You don’t remember where you were or what you were doing last night?

BOBBY thinks.

BOBBY
That’s bad, right?

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

CASTLE and BECKETT are watching BOBBY STARK through the glass.

BECKETT
That guy’s dropped more pills than a three fingered pharmacist.

CASTLE
I just can’t believe that someone that’s given so much great fatherly advice on TV could be guilty of murder.

BECKETT
Well, he’s a drug addled predator who left physical evidence on the body.

CASTLE
Well, when you put it that way.

BECKETT
Hey, Esposito.

ESPOSITO
Yo.

BECKETT
We need to reconstruct Stark’s evening. Check his phone records, double check security cameras at the hotel. We need hard evidence to place him at the crime scene.

ESPOSITO
I got something that might help. (he pulls up footage of the dinner again) Amber had her violin with her at dinner, but it wasn’t with her body or anywhere at the crime scene.

CASTLE
So where did it go?

BECKETT
Well, we know Amber went to the hotel so maybe she dropped it off there.

ESPOSITO
Except uniforms inventoried the room. It wasn’t there and her dad and consultant didn’t see it either.

CASTLE
So maybe she had it when she was killed.

BECKETT
And Bobby Stark disposed of it. Check trash cans, dumpsters, and sewer drains around the hotel. If someone saw him ditch the violin we can connect him to the murder.

ESPOSITO
Right on.

EST – CASTLE’S LOFT, NIGHTTIME

INT – CASTLE’S LOFT

MARTHA RODGERS
Oh, beauty pageant intrigue. Some things never change. Ah, here it is!

She pulls out a picture and passes it to CASTLE.

CASTLE
Ahaha … I didn’t know you competed.

MARTHA
Well, that’s because I didn’t win.

CASTLE
Ah.

MARTHA
But I can tell you, the women I competed against? Just as cutthroat as they are now.

CASTLE
What was your talent?

MARTHA
The way I wore a sweater.

CASTLE chuckles. ALEXIS comes home. She’s seems stunned. Something is wrong.

MARTHA
Hey honey.

CASTLE
Hey, Alexis. What’s wrong?

ALEXIS
Ashley made his decision.

MARTHA
Uh oh.

CASTLE
Stanford?

ALEXIS
No. He decided to go to school here. (she sits between her father and her grandmother) In New York.

MARTHA
Well, what’s not good about that?

ALEXIS
Stanford was his dream. I don’t want to stand in the way of that. He’ll just end up hating me for it, and this could be the most important decision of his life, so I made a decision, too.

CASTLE and MARTHA wait, but she’s having a hard time believing her actions.

ALEXIS
I broke up with him.

CASTLE and MARTHA are stunned. ALEXIS falls into her grandmother’s arms.

MARTHA
Oh, baby. It’s okay.

EST – NEW YORK CITY, DAWN

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

BECKETT
Well, she’s right, you know. I mean, odds are it won’t work out. She’s just being practical.

CASTLE
Relationships aren’t math problems. You don’t solve them by being practical. I mean, what happens when she meets her soul mate and she doesn’t risk it because it’s not practical?

They walk up to ESPOSITO and MONTGOMERY.

ESPOSITO
Okay then, what about Hawaii? Earrings? Oh! Lingerie.

CASTLE
Things you buy a woman! (to BECKETT) Used to kill in Pyramid.

MONTGOMERY
It’s my thirtieth anniversary.

BECKETT
Oh sir, congratulations.

CASTLE
Thirty years of marriage and you don’t know what to buy her?

MONTGOMERY
If you stayed married long enough you’d know it’s hard to stay original after the first ten.

CASTLE
That’s fair.

BECKETT
So what’s the secret to your success?

MONTOMGERY
There’s no secret. Just keep … showing up.

They all laugh as MONTGOMERY leaves.

BECKETT
Any luck on Bobby Stark?

ESPOSITO
Yeah, but you’re not going to like it. Paparazzi snapped photos of him going into the Tribeca Grand Hotel at eleven thirty with a brunette wearing Jackie O glasses. At one AM he left, at which point he relocated to a gentleman’s club to watch mud wrestling.

BECKETT
Amber left her room at eleven. Where was he between eleven and eleven thirty?

ESPOSITO
In a cab, on his way to Tribeca.

BECKETT
And … we know this for a fact?

ESPOSITO
Yeah, he was tweeting photos of his manhood along the way.

CASTLE
And that’s how you trend on Twitter.

BECKETT
So the sequin must have broken off onto Amber after he bumped up against her. Cut him loose. He’s not our guy.

ESPOSITO
Okay.

BECKETT
Which means we are dead in the water.

RYAN
Uh… wouldn’t go that far. Her stolen violin? We found it.

BECKETT
Where?

RYAN
Dumped in a garbage bin behind the hotel.

CASTLE
Disposed of by our killer, just not we killer we thought.

BECKETT
Did we get prints?

RYAN
Yeah. Amber Middleberry’s and one other set belonging to the lovely, the talented contestant from Georgia.

CASTLE
Which one was … oh!

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT INTERROGATION ROOM

JOY
Amber and I have been friends since Little Miss Spangles. Why would you think I killed her?

BECKETT
Because your prints were all over the violin case, Joy. And she had it with her when she came back from dinner last night.

JOY
I held it for her while she fixed her tights.

CASTLE
They’re on the violin, too.

JOY
She wasn’t even supposed to be a semi-finalist. And then she nailed all her pageant questions. It was supposed to be her weakness, but she blew everyone away. She was going to win.

BECKETT
So then you killed her and you dumped her violin.

JOY
No! That is not what happened. Last night when we went back to the hotel I saw her go into her room, drop off her stuff, and then leave again. But she left so fast her door didn’t close all the way, so I went to shut it. That’s when I saw her violin. She just left it there. It was like a sign. I thought, ‘Joy Jones, how badly do you want this?’

CASTLE
How … badly did you want it?

JOY
More than anything. I’m twenty five. I’m old. This is the last year I can qualify. I thought that if I took her violin it might throw her off enough in the talent finals that I could beat her.

CASTLE
But that wasn’t enough for you, was it? You thought, why not just take her out of the competition completely?

JOY
No! All I did was take her violin. When I found out she was dead, I panicked. I thought someone might find out so I threw it away.

BECKETT
That’s a pretty good act, Joy, but the judges just aren’t buying it.

JOY
I swear! I didn’t have to kill Amber to get her out of that pageant. I found something in her violin case. Something awful.

BECKETT
And what did you find?

JOY
The reason she was murdered.

EST – V.B TOWER

INT – DRESSING ROOM

JOY
If these got out, it would have ruined her. She would have been kicked off the circuit for good.

JOY hands CASTLE and BECKETT a folder, which BECKETT opens and pulls out pictures.

CASTLE
Oh my God. She is absolutely, totally -

BECKETT
Naked.

JOY
There’s a note on the back of that one.

BECKETT flips over a picture.

BECKETT
(reading) ‘You know my price. Pay up or I will destroy you.’ So she was being blackmailed.

CASTLE
Looks like somebody made good on their threat.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

CASTLE hangs AMBER’S naked picture (with everything covered) on the murder board.

CASTLE
Beauty queens and naked pictures. It’s as American as socialites and sex tapes.

BECKETT
Amber dreamt of winning this pageant. Why would she take those naked photos? I mean, she knew the chance she was taking.

CASTLE
Just because you’re smart and beautiful doesn’t mean you have good judgment. (BECKETT stares at him, nodding) I didn’t mean me.

ESPOSITO
Just got off with Amber’s father. That was a tough conversation.

CASTLE
You mean he didn’t know about the photos?

ESPOSITO
(shakes his head) And Amber didn’t tell him about the blackmailer, either. Or try to borrow money.

BECKETT
Well, maybe she paid off the blackmailer on her own?

ESPOSITO
Not an option. Any money Amber did have went to paying for shoes, gowns, and spray tans. She only had fifty bucks in the bank. And she didn’t have any recent withdraws, either.

CASTLE
Justin said she was upset. Maybe that’s because she didn’t have the money to make it go away.

BECKETT
Yeah, but then why kill her? A smart blackmailer would give her the time to get the cash.

CASTLE
Not if she threatened to go to the police, forcing him to take deadly action. Deadly Action. That’s a good title.

ESPOSITO
I rechecked her phone. There’s no record of any unusual calls. I figure the blackmailer contacted her through the hotel phone - that way he couldn’t be traced.

BECKETT
Castle, have you taken a look at these photos?

CASTLE
Only insofar as it pertains to the investigation.

BECKETT
Look at the lighting and the composition. Whoever took these knew something about photography.

CASTLE
A professional?

BECKETT
I mean, it happens all the time. Girl gets a session with the pro, they finish, he offers to take a few art shots, she’s desperate for the cash, he promises he’ll never show it to anybody …

CASTLE
Until she makes it big, in which case they suddenly surface.

BECKETT
Esposito, let’s get a hold of the pageant consultant. Let’s get a list of all the photographers that Amber’s had sessions with. One of them might be our blackmailer.

ESPOSITO
All right.

INT – PAGEANT DRESSING ROOM

ESPOSITO is showing AMBER’S naked shots to JUSTIN.

JUSTIN
This must have been what she was so upset about. She knew that if the pageant found out, it would have all been over. (he sighs) It is all over. Why didn’t she just tell me?

ESPOSITO
Do you have any idea who might have taken these photographs?

JUSTIN
With that hairstyle, it must have been six months ago. I’ll have to check my calendar.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

CASTLE is looking over the murder board.

BECKETT
So uniforms talked to the pageant girls that Amber was closest to. She didn’t tell them about the photos, either.

CASTLE
Well, she probably thought they’d use it against her.

MONTGOMERY
Beckett, you’re a woman, right?

BECKETT
Sir, I have no idea what to get your wife.

CASTLE
Still no luck on the gift?

MONTGOMERY
Keep coming up empty.

CASTLE
The best thing to give a woman is something she said she wanted when she didn’t think you were listening.

MONTGOMERY
What if I wasn’t listening?

CASTLE
Gift certificate?

BECKETT’S phone rings.

BECKETT
Beckett.

MONTGOMERY and CASTLE share a lost look.

INT – HOTEL BALLROOM

ESPOSITO
So according to her pageant consultant, Amber was in the city six months ago for a photo shoot. He thinks they were taken about the same time.

BECKETT
And who was the shoot with?

ESPOSITO
A photographer named Dax Lattimer.

BECKETT
Does he have a record?

ESPOSITO
Negative. But I asked around and the guy is no stranger to dirty pictures. On top of headshots he also freelances for adult magazines.

BECKETT
Well, sounds like our guy. Where is he now?

ESPOSITO
He’s got a studio in the East Village. I’m heading there now.

BECKETT
Okay. I’ll have Ryan meet you.

INT – LATTIMER’S STUDIO

LATTIMER
Yeah, I remember Amber. Very sweet gal. I took some headshots for her.

ESPOSITO
You take anything else while you were at it? Maybe some snaps of her wearing nothing but a smile?

LATTIMER
Amber wasn’t the type. She was all about the glamour. So what’s this about?

RYAN
She was murdered.

ESPOSITO
And we think whoever killed her took this picture right here.

ESPOSITO hands him a more tasteful version of AMBER’S naked photos.

LATTIMER
Yeah well, I didn’t take this. I’m not that mediocre.

ESPOSITO
Really?

RYAN
These were shot around the time you worked with Amber. We all know you do more than just pets and families.

LATTIMER
Hey, we all have to pay the bills.

ESPOSITO
And with Amber’s star on the rise, that photo is worth some serious coin.

RYAN
Pretty girl like that? Alone here in the studio …

LATTIMER
Hey, you have to believe me. I didn’t take this photograph. Besides, we weren’t alone. She was with someone.

RYAN
Who?

LATTIMER
Some boyfriend. Guy was a real creep, too.

ESPOSITO
Amber didn’t have a boyfriend.

LATTIMER
Well, she did when she was here. In fact, he fancied himself a photographer. Kept telling me I should shoot Amber in natural light.

ESPOSITO
This boyfriend have a name?

LATTIMER
Jerry … Jeremy… something like that.

RYAN
Mr. Lattimer, where were you the night before last between eleven PM and one AM?

LATTIMER
At home with my wife. Trying to rock my colicky son to sleep. It’s a doorman building, so you can check.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

BECKETT is at her desk, on the phone.

BECKETT
Okay, thanks. (she hangs up) Amber’s dad said she used to have a boyfriend. Jeremy Keiper.

RYAN
Keiper? Was he creepy?

BECKETT
Yeah well, her dad thought so. As far as he knows, they broke up late last year because she realized he was holding her back. The dad thinks that the boyfriend is still in Illinois.

CASTLE
Well, that’s the beauty of blackmail. You can do it from anywhere.

BECKETT
Blackmail maybe, but not murder. (she hands a paper to RYAN and ESPOSITO) Why don’t we find out if Keiper paid her a visit lately.

RYAN
On it.

BECKETT
Bad boyfriends and pageant queens? This is like Debbie Winaker all over again.

CASTLE
You having flashbacks?

BECKETT
It was my own private Vietnam. Our place smelled of hairspray, perfume, and cigarettes. I’m surprised that we didn’t spontaneously combust.

CASTLE
I love the smell of hairspray in the morning. It smells like … victory.

BECKETT smiles.

ASHLEY
Excuse me, Mr. Castle?

CASTLE
Ashley?

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

ASHLEY
I’m sorry to bug you at work, but Alexis established a no calls, no contact policy.

CASTLE
She told me.

ASHLEY
Look, I made a big mistake. I thought if I chose Stanford Alexis would think that I was blowing her off. Instead she’s mad at me because I chose her over where I want to go to school. So now I’m going to Stanford, which is where I wanted to go in the first place, but –

CASTLE
But if you call her and tell her that, she’ll be even angrier with you for ignoring her boundaries.

ASHLEY
Exactly! Look, I think Alexis and I can make the whole long distance thing work, I really do. Would you tell her that? Would you talk to her for me?

CASTLE
Ashley, I appreciate that it was probably very hard for you to come down and talk to me today, but … I just don’t think it’s very appropriate for me to –

ASHLEY
Mr. Castle, have you ever been crazy about someone who is determined to push you away?

BECKETT
Hey, Castle – oh, sorry guys.

CASTLE is face to face with the very person ASHLEY is talking about.

CASTLE
No … uh … It’s okay. Um… Ashley, I’m sorry, I do have to go.

ASHLEY
Please just … think about it, okay?

CASTLE
Okay.

ASHLEY leaves, but he’s given CASTLE more to think about that he knows.

BECKETT
What was that about?

CASTLE
He wants me to advocate for him.

BECKETT
Oh. Well, that’s sweet.

CASTLE
Yeah.

BECKETT
And awkward.

CASTLE
Mostly awkward.

RYAN
Yo Beckett! Just got off the phone with Jeremy Keiper’s mom. Turns out, Jeremy moved to New York last month. Said he was going to make something of himself.

CASTLE
Looks like he made himself into a blackmailer and a killer.

INT – JEREMY'S APARTMENT

BECKETT is knocking on the door.

BECKETT
Jeremy Keiper! NYPD! Open up!

He’s not answering. She takes a chance and tries the knob – it’s unlocked. She draws her gun in case.

BECKETT
Mr. Keiper? Anyone here?

There’s a bottle of whiskey on the table but it looks empty. There’s a shrine to Amber on the closet door.

CASTLE
Beckett?

BECKETT
Looks like someone had a hard time letting go.

CASTLE is fingering the pictures on the shrine. The door opens slightly.

BECKETT
(whispered) Castle!

He gets what she wants. He positions himself behind the door to open it for her. She waits, gun drawn. On her nod, he opens the door. There’s no one inside, but JEREMY’S body hangs on the back of the door.

INT – JEREMY’S APARTMENT

CSU and PERLMUTTER are at the crime scene taking photos and looking over the body.

CASTLE
This is a classic murder suicide. Jeremy blackmails his ex-girlfriend, not because he needs the money but because clearly, he’s obsessed with her. Amber rejects him and his sleazy schemes and he flips. He snaps and kills her and then, faced with the reality of what he’s done, hangs himself.

PERLMUTTER
Only one problem with your theory, Castle.

CASTLE
Which is?

PERLMUTTER
This wasn’t a suicide.

BECKETT
This wasn’t?

PERLMUTTER
If he had hanged himself the marks on his neck would angle upwards.

CASTLE
Which they do.

PERLMUTTER
Yes! But if he was strangled the marks would go straight across. This guy’s got both.

BECKETT
So the hanging was a cover-up for the strangulation.

PERLMUTTER
Well, there’s also perimortem bruising on the arms and across the ribs. I’m guessing there was a struggle.

BECKETT
Estimated time of death?

PERLMUTTER
Ah, judging by temperature and lividity he was killed half a day before Amber Middleberry.

CASTLE
Before Amber?

PERLMUTTER
Yes! Before! Now can you please move? You’re in my light.

CASTLE
Well, this doesn’t make any sense. If he didn’t kill Amber – How do a blackmailer and his victim both end up dead?

ESPOSITO
Yo, check this out. His hard drive’s been wiped.

BECKETT
That’s our connection, Castle. It’s the one thing that Amber and Jeremy had in common – those photos. Someone didn’t want them to see the light of day.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

BECKETT
Amber’s dad had no idea this was going on with his daughter. She didn’t even mention Jeremy’s name in the last six months.

CASTLE
Is there anything else Jeremy and Amber could have been involved in while there were together?

BECKETT
No, not that he can recall.

CASTLE
These pictures, by today’s standards, are downright tasteful. How do these get you killed?

BECKETT
It can’t be about naked pictures. Something else must have been going on.

CASTLE
Unless …

BECKETT
Unless what?

CASTLE
Unless Jeremy wasn’t the only blackmailer. What if he had a partner? I mean, we know Amber was arguing with someone the night she was killed. We know It couldn’t have been Jeremy because he was already dead.

BECKETT
Why would the partner kill Jeremy?

CASTLE
Maybe they had a falling out. Maybe Jeremy decided he couldn’t hurt Amber, but the partner still wanted his payday.

She moves to gather her stuff.

BECKETT
So he takes out Jeremy and decides to go after Amber himself?

CASTLE
But Amber decides to call his bluff. She says she’s going to contact the police. Now the blackmailer has no choice. He has to kill her and get rid of all the evidence of blackmail.

She recognizes that he may be on to something, but she’s not thrilled with it.

BECKETT
Ryan? Get me everything you got on Jeremy Keiper.

RYAN is on the phone with JENNY, ready to leave.

RYAN
(on the phone) Sorry, baby.

RYAN leaves to get the stuff for BECKETT, who has sat down and started to make calls.

CASTLE
Oh, it’s late. I’ll see you two later.

INT – CASTLE’S LOFT

ALEXIS is sitting on the couch with her computer when he gets home.

CASTLE
Hey.

ALEXIS
Hey.

CASTLE
What’cha looking at?

She turns the computer around so he can see the picture of ALEXIS and ASHLEY.

CASTLE
You really miss him, don’t you?

She nods.

CASTLE
You know I hate to interfere –

ALEXIS
Since when?

CASTLE
Point taken. … Ashley dropped by the precinct to see me today.

ALEXIS
He did? Why?

CASTLE
He wanted me to intercede on his behalf.

ALEXIS
What did he say?

CASTLE
Well, he looked about as happy as you do. And he wanted me to tell you that he’s decided to go to Stanford.

ALEXIS isn’t sure what she expected to hear, but this isn’t it.

ALEXIS
Oh.

CASTLE
And, he wants to give a long distance relationship a shot. He thinks it could work.

ALEXIS
What do you think?

He takes her hand.

CASTLE
I think that nothing is certain. And you could be ending something that could have worked, if you had just given it a little more time.

ALEXIS
What if I’m just cutting my losses on something that was never meant to be?

CASTLE
Well then, we can be the father daughter version of 'Grey Gardens'. But life is a journey and there is no predicting the outcome. Only thing you can control are your choices and know that they’ll define who you are. I would just hate to see you so focused on the problem right in front of you that you completely miss the entire picture.

ALEXIS
That’s pretty good advice.

CASTLE
Yeah. (something clicks about the case) Yeah, actually it is, isn’t it?

ALEXIS
Yeah.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

CASTLE is looking over AMBER’S photo with a magnifying glass.

BECKETT
Remind me to get you a subscription to a girly magazine for Christmas.

CASTLE
Oh, that is so thoughtful. But I’m not looking at the naked girl.

BECKETT
What are you looking at?

CASTLE
Everything but the naked girl. We were so focused on Amber, we almost missed the entire picture. What if Amber and Jeremy were killed, not because of who was in this photo, but because of where this photo was taken? (he hands her the picture and taps the background) Anything look familiar?

BECKETT
Sure does.

CASTLE
You can thank me later.

EST – NEW YORK CITY, DAYTIME

INT – BARON’S SUITE

BECKETT
(whispered) Talk about a motive for murder, if these photos got out to the tabloids…

CASTLE
Oh, it’d destroy everything.

BECKETT
(flashing her badge) NYPD.

PAGEANT COORDINATOR
They’re inside.

BECKETT and CASTLE enter the room.

KAYLA
The memorial for Amber should be simple. Peaceful.

BARON
And very, very classy.

KAYLA
Yes.

BECKETT clears her throat to get their attention.

BARON
Detective! Is there something I can help you with?

She looks around at all the cameras.

BECKETT
Yes, we need to ask you a few questions.

BARON
Ask away.

BECKETT
Fine. Tell us about the blackmail and the murder of Amber MIddleberry.

BARON
Shut the cameras off! Go! Now!

He shoos all the cameramen out of the room.

BECKETT
I thought you said that everybody loves the underbelly.

BARON
This … this …

KAYLA
What’s going on, Victor?

CASTLE
What’s going on is we finally figured out who, aside from Amber, would be nervous about these photos.

KAYLA
What photos? (BECKETT hands her a picture) Oh my God! Oh my God, Victor! Oh my God!

BARON
It’s not what it looks like.

KAYLA
It’s not what it looks like? This is … (she gasps) … this is our house in the Hamptons. This is our bed.

BARON
It’s our vacation bed.

BECKETT
Right underneath the two million dollar Picard that you purchased at the auction, which happens to be the companion to this painting here in your office.

CASTLE
We read all about it in the spread they did on you in Today’s Architect. (he opens the magazine in question) Looks as though you were hoisted on your own Picard.

BARON
I can explain.

KAYLA
We agreed, Victor. Never again.

BARON
It was just the weekend.

KAYLA
Just a weekend? I have friends in the Hamptons. What if somebody saw? I won’t be humiliated because you can’t keep it in your pants.

BARON
No one saw!

KAYLA
No one saw? No, you took photos so everyone could see!

BARON
I didn’t take those pictures.

BECKETT
Here’s what I think happened. Amber was being blackmailed, she couldn’t pay, so she came to you for help.

CASTLE
Only you had a lot to lose. Those pictures, they have a way of getting out.

BECKETT
So instead of paying off her blackmailer, you killed him. And you came back here and took care of her.

BARON
It’s not what happened!

BECKETT
The cameras aren’t rolling anymore, Mr. Baron. You can drop the act.

BARON
It’s not an act. Amber wasn’t being blackmailed. The conniving ***** was blackmailing me.

KAYLA gasps.

BECKETT
She was blackmailing you?

BARON
She showed me the pictures. She said she had her boyfriend come and take them while I was away.

KAYLA
Wait, you left her alone in my house?

BARON
I had a meeting in the city. I was coming right back.

KAYLA
How could you be so stupid, Victor?

BARON
She said that If I helped her win the pageant the photos would never see the light of day.

CASTLE
"You know the price, pay up or I’ll destroy you." It wasn’t to Amber, it was from Amber. She was still with her boyfriend. They were in it together.

BECKETT
So then what did you do?

BARON
I slipped her the pageant questions. Why do you think she was doing so well?

KAYLA throws a large vase at BARON. BECKETT gets in between them.

KAYLA
You ass!

BECKETT
Oh! Hey! Hey! Mr. Baron, where were you between eleven and one AM the night of the murder?

BARON
After the reception I had drinks with Councilman Bollinger, uh … I got home at one AM. Kayla was with me. Weren’t you, babe?

BECKETT
Kayla? Is this true? Were you with him?

KAYLA hesitates and BARON’S face drops.

KAYLA
Yes. Who else knew, Victor? Who do I need to be ashamed in front of?

BARON
No one else knew.

BECKETT
Well, someone else must have, otherwise two people wouldn’t be dead.

BARON
The only other person I told was Candace. I told her what Amber was trying to do, to me, to the pageant. I … I told her to take care of it, make the problem go away.

CASTLE
Maybe she did.

CASTLE and BECKETT look at each other. Looks like they’ve got another suspect.

INT – HOTEL BALLROOM

CANDACE is overseeing the setup of the ballroom for the pageant.

CANDACE
I don’t want to see any fingerprints on those glasses.

CASTLE
Being careful of fingerprints, are we Candace?

CANDACE
We want everything to be perfect.

BECKETT
This pageant really is your baby.

CANDACE
You noticed? Seventeen flawless years.

BECKETT
So then you would do anything to protect it. (CANDACE isn’t sure how to respond) We know that Mr. Baron told you about the blackmail. And we know he asked you to handle it.

INT – HOTEL BALLROOM

CANDACE
Kill her? I wanted to kill Baron. Seventeen flawless years and he wants me to give her the answers so his little fling can wear the crown? But it was either that or that snake destroys everything.

BECKETT
Where were you the night Amber was killed?

CANDACE
Please don’t.

BECKETT
Ms. Ford –

CANDACE
I was with someone.

CASTLE
Who?

CANDACE
(hesitating) I can’t.

BECKETT
Candace, if you have an alibi –

CANDACE
Bobby Stark. I was with him at the Tribeca Grand. And the worst part is he doesn’t even remember.

CASTLE and BECKETT are a little surprised, but mostly let down.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

ESPOSITO
Tribeca Grand confirms that Stark was with Candace at the time of the murder.

CASTLE
She did smell a little bit like strawberry oil.

ESPOSITO
Baron’s alibi checks out, too.

BECKETT
Which leaves us without a suspect. Okay, get into it with Baron’s lawyers. Just because Candace didn’t kill them doesn’t mean he didn’t hire someone else to do it.

ESPOSITO
Right.

CASTLE
Blind naked ambition. I think even your Debbie Winaker would be appalled.

BECKETT
Yeah, she would’ve. Debbie wanted to be a beauty queen because she believed in the ideals of beauty. She wanted to be beautiful on the inside and outside.

CASTLE
I thought you didn’t like her.

BECKETT
Well, deep down, behind all the makeup and the hair, she wasn’t terrible. She was just a miserable person to live with. Unlike Amber, winning wouldn’t have meant a thing to her if she had to cheat to do it.

CASTLE
Yeah, talk about choices that change your life. When do you make that choice? When does winning become more important than your soul?

BECKETT
I don’t know. You have to be pretty cold and calculating to make some of the choices Amber did.

CASTLE thinks on that. He realizes something.

CASTLE
Cold and calculating.

BECKETT
What?

CASTLE
Amber was cold and calculating.

BECKETT
Yeah. So?

CASTLE
So … all of those people we talked to about her? One of them was lying.

INT – HOTEL BALLROOM

The pageant girls are rehearsing their revised opening number – a memorial for AMBER. It’s quiet and demure.

JUSTIN
Tragedy struck the Baron’s All American Pageant with the untimely passing of our Illinois All American, Miss Amber Middleberry. I was fortunate to work closely with Amber. She meant the world to me.

BECKETT
Well then, why did you kill her?

BECKETT comes from one side of the stage.

JUSTIN
What? I didn’t kill Amber.

CASTLE
You’re lying.

CASTLE appears from the other side.

CASTLE
You’ve been lying to us the whole time.

BECKETT
You told us that she was upset that she was feeling like she was being taken advantage of and threatened.

CASTLE
But she was the one doing the threatening. There was no reason for her to be upset.

JUSTIN
You know, you’re interrupting a dress rehearsal. I don’t even know what you two are talking about.

BECKETT
Oh, yes you do. You got on to the blackmail.

CASTLE
You thought the old boyfriend was taking advantage of your prized client, so you confronted him.

BECKETT
We ran your credit cards.

CASTLE
We know about the cab ride you took to Jeremy’s apartment.

BECKETT
So tell us, when you killed Amber’s boyfriend, did you know Amber was in on the scheme?

He hesitates before jumping off the stage and running.

BECKETT
Justin. Justin, stop!

CASTLE and BECKETT don’t follow. They don’t have to; RYAN and ESPOSITO are at the back of the ballroom. He evades them and they take off running after him, chasing him backstage. He turns a corner and gets clotheslined by a rack of pageant dresses.

CASTLE
A word of advice, Justin? When the lady says stop, stop.

BECKETT gives him a small smile.

INT – CAPTAIN MONTGOMERY’S OFFICE

BECKETT
Justin confessed to everything. His last three clients were losers. Amber was supposed to be his comeback and if she didn’t win he was through. And apparently he found the same naked photos that we did and thought that her ex-boyfriend was trying to exploit her.

CASTLE
He was worried if they called the cops that their secret would get out and they would be ruined, so he decided to handle it on his own. Unfortunately Jeremy was drunk, he got violent, and Justin ended up killing him.

BECKETT
And he staged it like it was a suicide. Once Amber found out she threatened to turn him in and he killed her.

MONTGOMERY
That’s a whole pageant of bad choices. Good work, you two. (RYAN and ESPOSITO clear their throats.) Uh, good work, you all.

ESPOSITO
Thank you.

CASTLE
Ah… I see a beauty queen worthy of a crown.

MONTGOMERY’S wife EVELYN walks into the office.

EVELYN MONTGOMERY
Always the charmer, Rick.

MONTGOMERY
Hey, what’cha doing here? You know I was just coming to swoop you up.

EVELYN
Yeah well, I know how you lose all sense of time when you’re working. I figured I’d meet you here.

MONTGOMERY
Mmhmm.

BECKETT
Do you guys have any big plans?

EVELYN
Dinner and dancing with the best husband in Manhattan. Especially since he gave me that gift this morning.

CASTLE
Oh, what did you end up giving her?

MONTGOMERY
I followed your advice, Castle. I thought about some of the things Evelyn said she wanted the past couple of years. And my gift to her is - next year I’m retiring from the force.

This news hits the detectives hard.

EVELYN
We’re going to go traveling. We’re going to go to all of the romantic places.

RYAN
Wait, are you serious, boss?

ESPOSITO
You really want to retire?

MONTGOMERY
I haven’t accomplished everything I want to on the job, but I’ve done enough. It’s time for me to move on.

EVELYN
Best gift ever. More Roy.

MONTGOMERY
Look, I’ve taught you guys everything I know about doing this job, all right? You’re going to be fine without me. For crying out loud, lose the long faces. Smile, please. That’s an order.

His joke breaks the tension and everyone cracks a smile.

MONTGOMERY
You kids take care, all right? You guys behave now.

ESPOSITO
Have a good time.

BECKETT
Congratulations, you guys. Good night.

MONTGOMERY
Night.

EVELYN
‘Bye.

CASTLE
Happy anniversary.

RYAN
Goodnight, Captain.

MONTGOMERY and EVELYN leave, leaving BECKETT, RYAN, ESPOSITO, and CASTLE alone in his office.

RYAN
(to CASTLE) What the hell did you say to him?

CASTLE
Nothing. No, I just told him to listen to what his wife wanted.

ESPOSITO
Damn Castle.

CASTLE
How can you … I didn’t… there’s no way …

BECKETT lets him off the hook.

BECKETT
Castle, let me let you in on a little secret. Captain Montgomery retires all the time, just give it a week or two. He’s like the Brett Favre of the NYPD. Trust me. He’s not going anywhere.

CASTLE
Not going anywhere.

RYAN and ESPOSITO look happy that they pulled one over on CASTLE. ESPOSITO can’t resist one more chance to rattle CASTLE.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

BECKETT
Hey so, I’ve been meaning to ask you. Did Alexis make a decision about Ashley?

CASTLE
Oh, she did, actually. She decided it was worth the risk and she’s going to just keep showing up.

BECKETT
It’s a good choice.

They both know they’re not really talking about ALEXIS. They share a moment before BECKETT moves to leave.

BECKETT
See you tomorrow.

CASTLE
See you tomorrow.

EST – CASTLE’S LOFT, NIGHTTIME

INT – CASTLE’S LOFT

CASTLE comes home to find ALEXIS and ASHLEY sitting on the couch, her laptop open on their laps.

CASTLE
Ashley! What are you doing here?

ASHLEY
Hey, Mr. Castle.

ALEXIS
Hey, Dad. Guess what?

CASTLE
What?

ALEXIS
I’m going to Stanford.

She’s happy but CASTLE is confused.

CASTLE
What?

ALEXIS
I’m applying for early admission. And since I’ve been taking extra classes each semester since my freshman year, I have enough credits to graduate in the fall.

ASHLEY and ALEXIS love this plan, but CASTLE is still caught off guard.

CASTLE
What?

ALEXIS
Yeah. This way Ash and I will be together in January. In college.

CASTLE is past being shocked. He doesn’t know how to respond. He’s not thrilled.

CASTLE
What?

ASHLEY
That was actually her idea, sir.

CASTLE is totally thrown off guard. He can’t respond if he wanted to. He was never thrilled about ALEXIS leaving, but now that it’s happening sooner, he can’t deal. It’s too much, too fast.

CASTLE
What?

THE END

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