|Castle admired himself in the mirror as he brushed his damp hair. Turning one way, then the other, he watched his face as he held the hairbrush in front of himself like a microphone.
"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for coming," he intoned. He winked at his reflection. "What do you think? Too cliché of an opener?"
"It sounds like all the other speeches I've heard," a little voice piped up.
Castle turned to see his eight-year-old daughter standing in the doorway, watching him. "Hey, honey." He put down his brush and quickly buttoned his shirt partway.
"Can you help me, Daddy?" she asked, coming forward, an end of her sash in each hand. "Gram is in the shower and I need to finish getting ready." Alexis leaned in conspiratorially. "She's singing opera again."
Castle grinned and squatted down in front of Alexis, taking the wide ribbon from her hands. "Of course I will. Here, turn around."
She raised her arms to the sides and turned obediently.
"So you think I shouldn't use it?" Castle asked, centering the sash and tying it once in the back.
His daughter shrugged. "It's your dinner, Daddy," she told him, shifting her weight to one stocking foot while she waited for him to finish.
"It is indeed." Castle tied the ends of the ribbon into a bow, then began fiddling with the loops. "And why does that matter to this conversation?"
"Well," Alexis moved to the other foot, "if it is your dinner, and people are there because of you, I think you should get to say whatever you want."
"Now this idea I like," Castle grinned, patting the bow gently. "There, all done."
Alexis twisted to look in the mirror behind her. "It's perfect. Thank you, Daddy!" She pecked him on the cheek and hurried out the door. "And hurry up; we don't want to be late!"
"My dinner," Castle told his reflection as he adjusted his dinner jacket. "Why didn't I think of that one?"
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