|Just Another Night
Author: LightWoman PM
It's New Year's Eve, and Emily is dragging her dad out for dinner. But the table's booked for 3...Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Romance - Cal L. & Gillian F. - Words: 6,777 - Reviews: 23 - Favs: 44 - Follows: 7 - Published: 12-31-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5628128
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
So, a New Year's fic… had to do one ;-) This ended up being quite a bit longer than I'd originally intended, just couldn't seem to stop writing! Anyway – happy new year everyone!
Disclaimer: None of these wonderful characters belong to me
Just Another Night
"So, Dad. Have you decided what your New Year's resolutions are going to be?" Emily flopped onto her Dad's bed and rolled over, propping herself up on her elbows to face him.
"I don't believe in resolutions." Cal picked up two ties, one black and one red, and held them against his shirt. "Which one?"
"The black. And you should seriously consider it."
Throwing the red tie back on the bed, Cal looked at his daughter. "Resolutions are just a way for people to make themselves feel better for a little while – and then they end up feeling depressed when they can't keep them. Anyone who makes resolutions and actually believes they can keep them is an idealistic fool."
"Gillian makes resolutions."
"Yes… well." Cal fussed with his tie, deliberately ignoring his daughter's comment.
Emily grinned at her father. "Speaking of Gillian…"
"We weren't, actually. Now help me straighten this tie will you?"
Emily jumped off the bed and did as he asked, patting him on the shoulder when she'd finished. "There. You look very nice."
"Remind me again why you're taking me somewhere where I have to wear a tie?"
"It's a smart restaurant, Dad. And it's a special occasion. I want you to look nice."
"It's New Year's Eve, love. Your birthday, that's a special occasion. Your engagement – which I don't expect to be happening for a very long time," he wagged a finger at her, "that's a special occasion. But December 31st is just another night."
Emily rolled her eyes. "You're such a cynic, Dad. I don't know how Gillian puts up with you. Speaking of Gillian…"
"Again, we weren't. Why are you so obsessed with Foster tonight?"
"I'm not obsessed. I just think she should feature in your New Year's resolutions, that's all."
Cal squinted at her, chewing on his bottom lip. "First of all, I already told you I don't believe in New Year's resolutions. Second of all… why should Foster be part of my resolution?" He looked at his daughter suspiciously. She had a sly smile on her face, and he wondered exactly what she had planned for tonight.
"I think your New Year's resolution – one of them, at least, but definitely the most important one – should be to finally tell her how you feel."
"How I what?" Cal spluttered.
"How you feel. You know, how you're totally in love with her. Don't you think it's about time you told her?"
Cal stared at her for a moment with his mouth open. Eventually he waved his hand at her. "What I think is that this falls far outside the realm of 'any of your business'. Now, are you ready?"
"Just got to put some lipstick on. Aren't you going to wear aftershave?"
Cal sighed. "You're becoming more and more like your mother every day, you know that?"
"Try this one," she said, picking up a bottle off his dresser and tossing it towards him. He caught it deftly with one hand. "Gillian likes that one," Emily said quietly under her breath as she bounced out the door, smiling to herself.
"How much further is this place?" Cal grumbled as they walked along the street. "Couldn't you find anywhere where we could park outside?"
"It's New Year's Eve, Dad. It's busy. Relax, will you?"
"I'm relaxed. I'm perfectly relaxed. I'm having dinner tonight with my beautiful daughter…"
"And your beautiful business partner…"
Cal stopped dead in his tracks. "My… what?"
Emily grinned at him. "I may have invited Gillian along tonight. She didn't have anywhere to go, and besides, I knew you'd be happy to spend the evening with her." Cal was still standing rooted to the spot, and Emily looped her arm through his as she tugged him along gently. "Come on, Dad. Or we'll never get there. And we don't want to keep Gillian waiting."
"You," he said, shaking his head at his daughter, "are far too interfering for your own good. I'm starting to think my New Year's resolution should be to cut your allowance and keep you permanently grounded."
"Fine, but don't forget your most important resolution." Emily stopped outside the door to a smart-looking restaurant and smiled up at her dad. "Gillian," she reminded him, and gently pushed him towards the door.
Five minutes later, Cal and Emily were seated at their table, a bottle of champagne in front of them ("nothing to do with me, honestly, they must just be doing this for everyone tonight," Emily had told him sweetly). Cal was already halfway through his first glass, while Emily sipped her lemonade, a smile on her face. Emily saw her first as Cal had his back to the door – his first clue was when she spluttered on her drink, then said, "Woah."
Cal twisted in his seat, his eyes alighting on Gillian immediately. She was wearing a black dress with a slight sparkle to it – enough to look glamorous without crossing the line into tacky. She looked nothing short of stunning, and Cal licked his lips slightly as she crossed the room towards them, smiling brightly as Emily jumped out of her seat.
"Hi Gillian!" The two embraced, and Cal awkwardly stood up as Emily and Gillian broke apart.
"You look nice," he told Gillian neutrally as he gave her a brief hug and a chaste kiss on the cheek, and she smiled.
"Thanks. So do you. Emily told me she'd get you wearing a tie tonight, but I didn't believe her."
Gillian's eyes were sparkling – between her and Emily, Cal wasn't sure who looked happiest. He couldn't help feeling slightly disconcerted, though, which was unusual for him when in the company of his two favourite people in the world. Emily's words kept echoing in his head. You know, how you're totally in love with her. Don't you think it's about time you told her…
"Eh?" He was jolted from his thoughts by Gillian resting her hand lightly on his arm, and he jumped. They'd touched each other like that thousands of times – why was he suddenly so jumpy?
"You're miles away," Gillian commented, amusement and curiosity lacing her voice, and Cal caught Emily's eye. She immediately ducked behind her menu, but he could have sworn he heard her laughing.
"I'm fine," he said, reaching for the bottle of champagne to pour some for Gillian. "Just thinking about my New Year's resolutions, that's all."
"You, making New Year's resolutions?"
"What's so funny about that?"
Gillian took a sip of champagne, fighting back a laugh. "Nothing, nothing. It's just… aren't New Year's resolutions for idealistic fools?"
"I see he's used that speech on you too." Emily's face appeared from behind her menu.
"I get it every year." Gillian smiled at her, then turned her gaze back to Cal. "So, are you going to enlighten me?"
"What's that now?"
"Your resolutions." She surveyed him over the top of her glass, her eyes shining with amusement.
"Well, I was thinking… always water the plants in my office, and… eat take out less than once a week, and…"
"All excellent resolutions." Gillian smiled at him as she placed her glass back down on the table, but there was something else in her expression… disappointment?
"What about you?" Cal tried to change the subject just as the waiter arrived.
"Are you ready to order?"
"Oh… haven't even looked at the menu yet, sorry." Cal apologised.
"No worries, sir, whenever you're ready." The waiter smiled at them politely and walked away, and Emily watched Cal and Gillian exchange a smile.
"He's annoyed," Cal explained to his daughter. "'Spose we'd better decide what we want before he comes back."
"Really? He seemed fine…" Emily trailed off. She knew better than to argue with her dad when it came to reading people's emotions. "Anyway, I know what I want. I decided while you two were discussing your resolutions." Her tone was light, but Cal detected the hint of sarcasm in there, and shot her a brief warning look before returning his gaze to his menu.
"I think I'll start with the…"
"Crab cakes," he and Gillian said simultaneously, and Emily smiled.
"Good choice," she said mildly, taking another sip of lemonade.
"You'll be following that with the salmon, I assume?" Cal asked Gillian.
"I think I will," she said, her lips twitching. "And you're having the steak?"
Cal bit his bottom lip, giving her a half grin.
"Reckon I will, love."
A splutter of laughter from Emily caused both Cal and Gillian to look over at her, and she hastily reached for a roll from the basket in the middle of the table, avoiding making eye contact with either of them.
Gillian smiled at Cal, and he couldn't help smiling back; her happiness was just too damn infectious.
"Are you ready to order now?" the waiter asked, reappearing at their table.
"Hmm… I'm not sure…" Cal said, screwing his face up as he scrutinised the menu. "What do you recommend for a wheat-intolerant vegan with nut allergies?"
"Er…" The waiter looked most discomfited, and Gillian coughed slightly.
"Right, sorry. I'll have the crab cakes and the fillet steak, rare, peppercorn sauce – don't skimp on it – with extra mushrooms and fries." He handed the menu to the waiter, who took it a little clumsily.
"Right… okay." He quickly scribbled that down, before turning to Gillian and Emily, who both gave their orders.
When he'd left, Gillian was shaking her head at Cal. "What?" he asked spreading his hands as he gave her a 'who, me?' look.
"You," she said, chuckling.
"So… where were we before Dad starting terrorising the staff?" Emily took another bite of her roll. "I think you were just about to share your New Year's resolutions, Gill?"
"Oh." Gillian blushed slightly. "Well, I've decided that I want to do more baking next year…"
"Yes, Cal. Baking. As in, making cakes and biscuits and things. I never really seem to find the time, but I want to try and do it more next year."
"I suppose you eat enough of that stuff, you might as well learn how to make it for yourself."
She smiled, but there was a sadness there that Cal could read instantly; he also knew what caused it. Shortly after Gillian adopted Sophie, before her birth mother took her back, Gillian had talked about all the things she planned to do with her daughter when she was older. Teach her how to ride a bike, take her clothes shopping, make and decorate fairy cakes and biscuits with her.
Instinctively he reached out and placed his hand on hers and she smiled at him, grateful that he understood.
"Sounds great Gill," Emily chirped. "Anything else?"
Cal drew his hand slowly away from Gillian, watching as she smiled shyly at Emily. "I want to read War and Peace…"
"War and Peace?" Cal practically choked on his olive. "What the bloody hell for?"
"Because it's a classic, Cal, and it's one I've never read."
"It's bloody boring, love."
"Read it, have you?"
"No, for that exact reason. It's bloody boring."
"Well, I want to read it."
"That really is a boring resolution, you know that?"
"As opposed to, what? Watering the plants in your office? Ooh, living it up Cal, living it up."
Emily watched their quick fire exchange, her eyes flicking from one to another as though she were at a tennis match. Sensing his daughter's eyes on his, Cal closed his mouth before he could respond to Gillian's latest retort, and popped another olive in his mouth.
"I think it's a great resolution, Gill. If you want to read it, you should. Ignore Dad."
"I usually do." Gillian's eyes were on her lap as she unfolded her napkin, but she couldn't hide a smile. "I'd also like to get to the gym more, maybe take some aerobics classes."
"Waste of money." Cal took another swig of champagne, then reached for the bottle.
"I thought you'd say that."
"Well, it is. Ridiculously overpriced, and for what? Put some music on in your living room and jump around if you want to, no point paying for it. Besides, do you know how much money gyms make from people who sign up in the New Year, determined to go regularly, then end up paying huge monthly bills but actually only going about twice in the whole year?"
"No, Cal, how much?"
"Well… I dunno, exactly, but a lot." She laughed, watching him as he refilled his glass and her own. "Anyway, what do you need to worry about going to the gym for, you're in perfect shape."
Emily's eyebrows shot up for a fraction of a second as she grinned at her father, who coughed slightly, looking somewhat embarrassed. "Now, where are those bloody crab cakes, I'm starving."
An hour and a half later, the three of them had finished their first two courses, and the conversation had, thankfully, steered away from New Year's resolutions. They'd discussed Emily's school work, the play she was going to be taking part in in the spring, films and books, and they had also debated the best ice cream flavour ("just one? I can't choose just one," Gillian had exclaimed), and Cal had embarrassed Emily with some memories of her childhood, including the time she'd tried to flush her sleeping hamster down the toilet after believing he was dead.
Once their plates were cleared, the waiter reappeared. "Would you like to see the dessert menu?"
"She certainly would," Cal pointed at Gillian. "Be thankful she hasn't whipped it out of your hand already."
"Cal," she admonished him lightly, mildly embarrassed as she looked at the waiter apologetically. "Sorry."
"Here you are, Madam…" he handed her a menu, then one for Emily, and finally Cal. "Sir," he said, a flicker of contempt on his face, and Cal cocked his head to one side as he watched him walk away.
"Are you done amusing yourself now?"
He turned back to Gillian. "Hm? Oh. Yeah. Sorry about that."
"No you're not." She was smiling as she spoke, and Cal shrugged, also smiling.
"Can't fool you, love. Now, what looks good on here, I wonder?"
His eyes scanned the menu, seeing at least half a dozen things that Gillian would want, and his gaze flickered to her face. Her brow was furrowed, and she was biting her lip, clearly torn about what to have. He couldn't help laughing, and both Emily and Gillian looked up at him.
"What's so funny, Dad?"
"Nothing, nothing at all," he said, returning his gaze to the menu, but sneaking another glance at Gillian when he was confident her attention was refocused on the menu. She was silently mouthing something to herself – debating what to have. As Cal suppressed another laugh, he realised how right Emily was. I am in love with this woman.
"Chocolate melting pudding," she said at last. "No, crème brûlée." She nodded. "No, the chocolate. Definitely the chocolate." She closed her menu, then opened it again. "Although…"
"You know our waiter friend won't be happy if you take until midnight to decide on your order, Foster."
"Shut up." She stuck her tongue out at him playfully. "Crème Brûlée."
He laughed. "What are you having, Em?"
"The cheesecake," she answered.
"Cheesecake? That sounds good…" Gillian ran her eyes down the menu again, and Cal's grin widened. What is it about this woman? If Zoe had been this indecisive in a restaurant, he'd have been frustrated and irritated, but he felt nothing but charmed by Gillian. As usual.
"Why don't we order all three and split them?" Emily suggested casually, but Cal wasn't fooled by her careless tone.
"That's a good idea… Cal?"
"Sure, why not?" He was happy to acquiesce if it meant making Gillian happy, but could have done without the smug look on Emily's face. When the waiter returned, Cal ordered the crème brûlée, chocolate pudding and the cheesecake, seeing the happiness on Gillian's face. "You know you're more excited about the desserts than my fifteen year old daughter?"
Gillian smiled. "Dessert makes me happy. What's wrong with that?"
"Nothing wrong with it, love. Though how you keep your figure I'll never know."
Gillian smiled, blushing again slightly. "So where's your Mom tonight Emily?" she asked, and Cal felt slightly irritated that she'd brought Zoe into the conversation, although he couldn't really say why. Maybe because you don't want to be thinking about your ex wife while you're trying to decide if you should make a move on your best friend? Is that what I'm doing? Am I seriously considering…
"Isn't that right Dad?"
Emily was looking at him with a knowing expression, and he wondered, as he often did, whether she saw more than she let on when she looked at him. "I was just telling Gill that Mum's working tonight, and that she's not really into New Year. Honestly, with those two as parents, it's a wonder I grew up appreciating New Year at all."
Gillian laughed. "I think kids your age enjoy New Year by default. Although I'd have thought a party would be more your scene tonight than dinner with two old folks like us."
"Oi!" Cal reacted to being called old, and Gillian laughed.
"I am going to a party, actually," Emily said.
Cal looked at her with raised eyebrows. "Are you now? And when were you planning on telling me this?"
"Pretty much about now." She showed no hint of shame, only amusement, and Cal waved his spoon at her.
"Where is this party? How are you getting there? Who's chaperoning?"
"It's at Molly's, Dad. Molly's Dad is coming to pick me up, and both her parents and her grandma will be there the whole time." He studied her face closely as she spoke, and she sighed. "Believe me?" she asked, slightly irritated, and he started twirling his spoon around in his hands.
"Yeah," he admitted. "So what time is Molly's Dad picking you up?"
He checked his watched; it was already ten past. "I see. So, your whole 'we're going out for New Year' thing was in fact a lie. You're not even going to be here at midnight."
"Nope." Emily took a swig of lemonade, unabashed. "But you are."
"There's a bar upstairs, and a dance floor. They're having a New Year's party – didn't you see the signs on the door?"
"No I bloody didn't," he said, noticing how much his daughter was enjoying teasing him.
"Everyone who's eating here tonight gets to go," she continued. "I'll be at Molly's by then, but you two can stay and enjoy the party. See in the New Year together."
"Did you know about this?" he said, turning abruptly to Gillian, who shook her head.
"No, but it's not a bad idea."
"You want to stay?"
"It's New Year's Eve, Cal. And we're here… I mean, we might as well stay for the party." She shrugged, trying to look like she wasn't really bothered, but Cal could tell that she did really want to stay.
"Fine. We'll stay." You, he mouthed, pointing his finger at Emily when Gillian wasn't looking, and she looked at him innocently.
The waiter reappeared with their desserts, and Cal saw Gillian's eyes light up. She really is bloody beautiful, he thought, wondering whether he ought to follow Emily's advice and finally tell her how he felt. No, that's crazy. She's your business partner, she's your best friend, she's…
"Mmmm." Gillian's eyes closed as she slipped a chocolate pudding-laden spoon in her mouth, gently sliding it out and letting the pudding melt on her tongue. The look on her face and the sound she'd just made had Cal shifting uncomfortably in his chair, and he was less than delighted to see that Emily had picked up on his reaction and would no doubt be teasing him about it for weeks.
"Pass the cheesecake, Em," he said, trying to sound as normal as possible, and she obliged, still fighting back laughter.
Gillian opened her eyes, looking a little embarrassed. "That's… that's good chocolate pudding," she said at last, tapping her spoon lightly on top of the crème brûlée.
"Is it? Hadn't noticed." Cal put a spoonful of cheesecake in his mouth, watching as Gillian devoured the first bite of her second dessert. "How's the crème brûlée?"
"Mmm," was all Gillian could manage, and he nodded.
They continued that way for several minutes, sharing the desserts out between them, although Cal made sure Gillian got the lion's share of the chocolate pudding. Because it's obviously her favourite, he told himself. Not because watching her eat it makes you… He pushed those thoughts aside as he ate the last bite of his cheesecake.
Emily suddenly whipped her phone out of her bag. "It's Molly," she said, reading her message. "They're outside."
"Yep." She jumped up from her chair and wrapped her arms around Gillian. "Have a good night, Gill," Cal heard her say, then she whispered something in Gillian's ear that he didn't catch. "Bye Dad," she said, turning to him and kissing him on the cheek. He stood up and enveloped her in a hug. "Remember what I said," she whispered to him, and he pulled away from her just enough to look in her face, but making sure her body shielded his face from Gillian's.
"You're a very scheming person, Emily Lightman, you know that?"
"Yep." She grinned at him.
"What time are you planning on coming home?"
"Molly said I can stay over at hers. So you'll have the house to yourself." Cal opened his mouth, then closed it again. "Have a good night." She winked at him, and he shook his head as he sat back down. He turned in his seat, watching as she scooted over to the door and waited while the maître d' retrieved her coat. She shrugged it on, turned back to Cal and Gillian and gave them a quick wave, then disappeared out the door.
Cal turned back to Gillian, wondering what to say next. Usually he didn't have a problem conversing with her; things were so simple and easy most of the time, she was one of the few people he never had to force conversation with.
Her radiant, natural smile instantly put him at ease, and he couldn't help but suddenly see the funny side of the situation. The waiter reappeared at their table again. "Your daughter had to leave, I see?"
Gillian opened her mouth to correct him, but Cal jumped in. "Yeah, yeah she did. Could we get the check, please?"
"Of course, sir. Although you could open a tab for the bar upstairs and simply pay the entirety of the bill at the end of the night?"
"Yeah, alright, I'll do that."
"If I could just have a credit card to keep behind the till…"
"Sure." Cal produced his card, and the waiter took it with a curt nod. "If you would like to proceed upstairs when you and your wife are ready, sir. Have a good night." He left, and Cal glanced at Gillian, trying to gauge her reaction to being referred to as his wife.
"You don't have to pay the whole bill, Cal," she said, fussing with her purse. "I'll pay my share."
"No you won't."
"Tonight's on me," he told her firmly. "Ready to start partying?" He nodded his head towards the stairs, where they could already hear music beginning to float down towards them.
She nodded, another bright smile flashing across her face. They left the table and Cal followed her towards the stairs, able to admire more now how perfectly her dress fitted her. The first floor of the restaurant was decorated with balloons and streamers, and there were already a few couples on the dance floor, swaying to Frank Sinatra's 'I've Got You Under My Skin', while other couples and groups were dotted around the room, at the bar or on the seats and tables at the edge of the room.
"Drink?" Cal said, heading straight to the bar, and Gillian nodded.
"I've already had half a bottle of champagne, Cal. Not trying to get me drunk are you?" She giggled.
"Wouldn't dream of it, love. Anyway, I've had half a bottle too."
"That's a point… didn't you drive here?"
"Yeah, but Em insisted I park in an overnight car park so we could get a cab back. Me and her, I mean. I didn't know she was leaving, you know, I thought she…" He trailed off, suddenly feeling awkward, and was relieved when the barman came to ask what he wanted.
"Fancy a cocktail, love?" he said, noticing what the women further along the bar were drinking and knowing Gillian's liking for cocktails.
"Ooh." She hopped up onto the bar stool, and Cal quickly averted his eyes as her dress rode up slightly, revealing more of her long, slim legs. She scanned the cocktail menu while Cal ordered a larger, ignoring Gillian's warning that mixing larger and champagne wouldn't make him feel great tomorrow.
"That's tomorrow," he said with a shrug and a grin, giving his name to the barman so he could put their drinks on his tab.
"And for you, beautiful lady?" The barman – who looked about twenty five, with dark hair and deep set eyes – locked his gaze on Gillian, who blushed slightly and smiled.
"I think I'll have a passionfruit martini," she said, and he nodded appreciatively.
"Good choice. And for you, I will make it extra special." He winked at her and started making up her drink, glancing back at her over his shoulder occasionally.
Gillian saw the anger, poorly concealed, on Cal's face, and squeezed his arm briefly. "Smile, Cal. It's a party."
"Well, he's a bit obvious, isn't he?" he said in a low voice. "For all he knows, we're a couple," he added, watching Gillian's face closely. The hint of a smile, and a flash of… fear?
"Here you go." The barman put the finishing touches to the drink, placing it in front of Gillian with a flourish. "Enjoy." His voice was dripping with desire, making Cal frown even more.
Gillian lifted the glass and took a sip, closing her eyes. Don't make the noise, Cal silently prayed, but before he could finish his thought, Gillian let out a little moan. "Mmm. That's good." The barman's face flooded with arousal, and Cal grabbed Gillian's arm.
"Over here, Foster," he said, wanting to get her as far away from the bar as possible. Steering her towards a small table and two seats in the corner, he put his drink down and sat down as Gillian did the same.
"What's up with you?" she asked, amused, although she had a fair idea.
"That guy, hitting on you when you were with me. Some people." He took a swig of lager, and Gillian laughed as she took another sip of her cocktail.
"An obvious flirt with no morals he may be, but he does make a good cocktail."
"Well, if that's all you're looking for in a man…"
"You have no idea what I'm looking for in a man."
"So enlighten me." Dangerous territory, Cal, he warned himself, but whether it was the champagne, Gillian's appearance in that dress, Emily's instructions to finally tell her how he felt or simply the fact that it was New Year's Eve, he didn't know, but pushing the boundaries of flirtation suddenly seemed a very viable option.
Gillian took another sip of her cocktail, considering her answer. "Smart," she said at last. One point to me, Cal noted. "Funny." I suppose I can be funny… I do make her laugh… "Loyal. Kind. Honest..." Cal wasn't too sure how he fared on the last one – I'm usually honest with her, though, a voice in his head said, before another chipped in. Apart from the fact you've never told her you're in love with her, effectively making your whole friendship a lie. "Interesting… confident… adventurous…"
"Bloody hell, not asking for much, are you?"
"Basically, I just want someone I get on with… someone I trust, who makes me happy… who I'm attracted to…" She swiftly averted her eyes from his, swirling her cocktail stick around her glass.
"Well, good luck with that, love," he said, finishing his drink. She still wouldn't meet his eyes, but continued stirring her drink. A new song filled the room; Whitney Houston's 'I Will Always Love You.' Cal saw Gillian lift her head slightly, and he remembered how much she loved this song, and the film it came from. They'd watched it together one night, not long after Zoe had left him, when he'd pitched up on her doorstep at 8pm, knowing if he didn't go to her place he'd spend the night getting hammered in a bar somewhere. Alec had been working late – again – and she'd made him dinner, and they'd sat and watched the film. She'd cried, of course; ("films make me emotional!"), but her sentimentality was just another thing he loved about her. What don't you love about this woman? he asked himself, and the short answer was nothing, although she's too good for you also entered his head.
"Care to dance?"
She looked up, surprised by his question. "You want to dance?"
"Just asked, didn't I?"
"You hate dancing." Her voice was soft, but she smiled in gratitude as he stood up and extended his arm to her. She quickly finished her drink, looped her bag over her arm and placed her hand in his. Arriving near the centre of the dance floor, Cal wrapped one arm around Gillian's waist as he continued holding her hand with the other, and she stepped closer to him as she placed a hand on his shoulder.
The barman who'd been hitting on Gillian earlier had his eyes on her now, and Cal couldn't hide a smug grin at the look of jealousy on his face.
"What's that look for?"
"Just enjoying dancing with the most beautiful woman in the room," he told her honestly, and watched that oh so adorable faint blush appear on her cheeks.
"Well, I like dancing with you too," she told him, leaning in closer until their forehands were touching. They continued swaying to the music, and Gillian closer her eyes, exhaling softly. Being in Cal's arms felt so wonderful, whenever they were close like this Gillian wondered how she'd cope when the intimacy stopped and they were forced to break apart. It was how she felt whenever they parted after an evening spent together, how she felt when he left a room, how she felt when after a hug or a touch of the arm he withdrew from her.
"I've got another New Year's resolution," she whispered suddenly, hardly able to believe she was going to do this.
"Oh yeah?" He pulled his head away from her slightly, locking his eyes on hers.
"It was Emily's idea, really…"
Gillian nodded. "When she called me to ask me to come out with you tonight. She said one of my New Year's resolutions should be to tell you… how I feel." She swallowed, clearly nervous, and Cal released a breath he hadn't even realised he'd been holding.
"Emily – my daughter, Emily, who made me come here tonight without telling me you were coming, who disappeared off to a party that I knew nothing about until minutes before, who insisted we stay here and party together – she told you that it should be your New Year's resolution to tell me how you feel about me?"
"That's pretty much it, yes."
"And how do you feel about me?"
Gillian just looked at him as if she couldn't believe he'd asked her that, and he raised his eyebrows. "What? You can't tell me that you're going to tell me how you feel about me and then not tell me how you do feel about me. That's like saying, "I've got an important question for you" and then not asking a question."
Gillian laughed softly, but still looked nervous. "I suppose you're right."
"So… are you going to tell me?"
Gillian bit her lip. "Just now… when I was describing my ideal man…"
"Well… it's… it's…" She took a deep breath. Here goes, Gillian. "It's you," she said at last. The music had changed to 'Twist and Shout', but while everyone else had changed their dancing to suit the song, Cal and Gillian still stood with their arms around each other.
Gillian still looked nervous, and dragged her eyes away from Cal. She probably thinks you don't feel the same. Say something, Cal. For God's sake, tell her you love her, just say something…
He put his finger under her chin, tilting her face towards his. "Look at me, Foster," he whispered, and she lifted her eyes to his. "Emily told me that my New Year's resolution should be to tell you how I feel."
Gillian's face broke into a smile. "She did?"
"So are you going to? Because you can't just tell someone that you're going to tell them how you feel, and then not tell them how you feel…" Her smile grew wider, and had a hint of mischief in it that Cal found most alluring.
"Suppose I'd better, seeing as you did. Okay… well, let's see… how do I feel about you? How do I, Cal Lightman, feel about you, Gillian Foster. Well, I've known you a long time. You probably know me better than anyone – sometimes I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not," he grinned, "you're my best friend, you always stand by me, you're beautiful, you're smart, you're strong, you're the most kind hearted, generous, wonderful woman I know and I am, as it happens, completely in love with you."
There was a pause, and Gillian stopped moving, although she kept her hand on Cal's shoulder and her other still holding his. "Is that the champagne talking?" she whispered at last, and Cal shook his head.
"No, love. It's me. Saying what I should have said a long time ago – the timing just never seemed right, and… well, I guess it took my daughter bullying me to make me see sense." He laughed. "I love you, Foster," he said, dropping the hand that held hers and running his finger gently along her jawline.
The arousal he could see on her face was enough to prompt his next action; pulling her face towards him, he pressed his lips firmly against hers, slipping his tongue inside as he felt her open her mouth to him. He moved his hand from her waist to the small of her back, tracing it up her spine as she pressed her body closer to his and deepened the kiss. He trailed his hand further up, grazing her neck and running his fingers through her hair. She moaned as she pulled her lips away from his, gasping for air. "Cal…" she breathed, rubbing her hand lightly over his chest.
"It's not midnight yet you know!" came a voice, and they turned to see the barman grinning at them, although there was still a hint of jealousy on his face.
"He's right," Cal said suddenly, looking back at Gillian. "We shouldn't have done this til midnight."
"Because confessing our feeling for each other was our New Year's resolution, wasn't it? And we've already completed it before the new year's even begun."
"So… we're very organised." She giggled.
"Suppose you'll have to read War and Peace now after all. And bake cakes… well, I don't mind that so much, I'm not opposed to a cake or two, but make sure your reading doesn't take you away from work for too long… or from me."
She smiled, looping her hands around his neck as she pressed a quick kiss to his lips. "And those plants in your office are going to be very well watered."
"I guess they are." He grinned, then pulled his phone from his pocket and started typing a quick text.
"Emily?" Gillian guessed, and he nodded.
"The matchmaker deserves to know her plan has been successful, doesn't she?"
Gillian laughed. "Say thanks from me," she said, resting her head on Cal's shoulder.
Em – hope you're having fun. Just thought I'd let you know that Gillian and I have both achieved our New Year's resolution already, so I suppose I should thank you. You're still a scheming little matchmaker and I can't believe you played me like that, but I forgive you. Gill says thanks. Happy New Year. Love you. Dad x
He put his phone back in his pocket and wrapped his arms around Gillian again. "Thirty minutes to go, people!" the DJ shouted, and the crowd responded with a few cheers.
"Fancy kissing me at midnight, Dr Lightman?" Gillian teased, and Cal grinned at her.
"Love to, Dr Foster. But I don't think I can wait until then…" Their second passionate kiss was interrupted by Cal's phone vibrating in his pocket and he pulled it out, laughing at the message. He showed it to Gillian.
Dad and Gill – yay! About time! Have a good night. Love you both.
She smiled as she read it, and Cal saw on her face how much she loved Emily, which only made him love her more. Putting his phone away again, he resumed their kiss, marvelling yet again at how incredible it felt to be holding and kissing her.
"You know," he murmured in her ear, "I'm starting to think New Year's not so bad after all."
"I thought it was 'just another night'?" she teased.
"No darling," he said, stroking her hair. "Tonight is definitely not just another night."
She smiled. "I'm inclined to agree."
They continued dancing, even after the dance floor had filled with people, and joined in the countdown as they approached midnight. 3… 2… 1… The crowd erupted, with everyone whooping and cheering and shouting 'Happy New Year!' to each other.
"Happy New Year, Dr Foster," Cal whispered as he brushed his lips against hers.
She smiled at him, already knowing that this year was going to be happier than the last – happier than all the years she'd had so far in her life, probably. She kissed his cheek, breathing in the scent of his aftershave – her favourite, she couldn't help noticing - and rested her cheek against his as she whispered in his ear, "Happy New Year, Dr Lightman."