6 years ago…
"You're here! Hi…" Cal got up and waited until Gillian was in her seat before he sat back down.
"Hi, sorry I'm late, traffic's horrible." She stopped, waiting for him to say something. When he didn't, she asked, "So, how are you doing?"
He could tell by the tone of her voice and the look of concern on her face that she had heard what had happened to him at the Pentagon. "I got fired." He couldn't help but grin.
"I'm glad to see you're amused by that."
"Of course I'm happy! It's the best thing that could've happened to me."
"How is losing your job at the Pentagon the best thing that could've happened to you?"
"Oh, you know the government and all their secrecy and confidentiality issues. There were just too many rules and regulations! I never worked well with rules."
"No, that's for sure."
"But it's fine cuz now, I can do what I've wanted to do all along." Again, he grinned. He could tell by the way her face lit up that she knew what he meant. "And I want you by my side when I do this."
"C'mon! You're the best in your field and I want no one but the best working at the Lightman Group."
"The Lightman Group? So I'll be an employee?"
"No, no, of course not! The name means nothing. You'll be my partner. An equal. No less. I promise." He waited for her to reject his offer but when she didn't, he smiled. "So that's a yes?"
"Well, I'll need time to inform the clinic I won't be working there anymore but…" She trailed off when he looked impatiently at his watch. It was only then that she noticed there was another place set at their table. "Cal…" She proceeded carefully, "are you expecting someone else?"
As if on cue, Cal jumped up from his seat as a familiar figure approached their table. "Zoe!" He offered the woman a peck on the cheek before turning back to Gillian. "You remember Zoe, right? Zoe, you remember Gillian?" As the two women exchanged polite smiles, Cal announced, "Good thing we all remember each other cuz from now on, we're gonna be partners."
"All three of us?" Gillian asked, glancing at Zoe, who seemed just as uncomfortable as she was beginning to feel.
"Well, yes, Zoe will be more of a silent partner type. She'll be financially invested but won't actually be working there." In all his excited optimism, Cal failed to notice the looks of disappointment on both women's faces.
3 years ago…
"I'm getting a divorce."
Gillian was caught off-guard by the sudden confession. She swiveled around in her chair to face Cal. She knew something was wrong. Everyone in the office knew. He had come in wearing the same shirt for…well, she had lost track for how long now. It had been a long time. The facial hair, the nights spent asleep in the small library adjacent to his office…she knew something was wrong at home but she also knew better than to pry. He would open up to her when he was ready.
"Who initiated it?" She asked softly.
Another surprise. "You did?"
He nodded and took a deep breath. "Least I could do for her after what I've put her through these past…many years."
"What about Emily?"
"She knows." He shook his head and gave a light chuckle. "Funny, she almost seemed relieved when we told her."
"And how are you?"
"I really stink." As if just realizing he was wearing a weeks-old shirt. He looked down at himself and grimaced.
"Yeah, Cal, that's putting it lightly."
"Why didn't you tell me?" She gave him pointed look but said nothing. He nodded in defeat. "Right, right…me…stubborn."
"Do you have a place to stay? We have an empty guest room…" She trailed off as he looked up at her. For a moment, she could've sworn he was going to accept her invitation.
Instead, he declined. "No, I don't think your new husband would really appreciate that much. No, no…Zoe's already got a place lined up. She's staying there with Emily right now, actually. I just haven't gone home cuz…"
He didn't have to finish the thought for her to understand. She nodded. "It can't be easy, I'm sure."
"No, I thought it would be a lot easier. I mean, Zoe and I were at each other's throats for so long…" He looked at her again. "But you knew that."
"Cal, is there anything I can do?"
He was about to open his mouth when her cell phone rang. She seemed to hesitate so he gestured at it with his hand. "Go on, answer it."
"It's Alec…" She sighed, picking up the phone. "Hey, honey…uh yeah, yeah…I remember...I was just finishing up something…ok, I'll be there…ok, bye."
"Yeah, but if you…"
"I'll be fine, love." He waved her off. "Go. Don't keep him waiting." With that, he watched as she got up and headed to the door. She stopped before exiting and turned to look at him. He waited for her to say something but she didn't. She gave him a simple smile and disappeared through the doorway.
1 year ago…
Gillian was surprised to find Cal at her door. "Yeah, just finishing up some work. I thought you went to the hospital to see Torres? How's Dupree?"
"Much better. Still unconscious but doctors say everything else looks good for the time being. Should wake up soon." He entered the office and slowly made his way to her desk. "I was worried about you."
"I'm fine." She flashed him an unconvincing smile.
He looked at her, knowing what that meant. "Look, I'll go if you don't wanna talk…"
"It's…it's not that. I just…" She had to stop as her voice began to crack. "It just hurts."
"I know…and it'll hurt for a long time." He took a seat and waited for her to speak, not wanting to bombard her with words.
"I knew what was going on." Her voice was soft. He could barely hear her but he allowed her to go on. "I didn't wanna acknowledge it. I even made up excuses for him." She let out a loathing scoff. "He was having an affair and I would rather tell people he was a recovering addict than let them know he was cheating on me."
When she looked up again, her eyes were filled with tears. Cal handed her the box of tissues on her desk. "Here, love. It's not your fault. I don't think that's something anyone could easily accept or admit to. What's important now is that you're taking the next step."
"I'm getting a divorce, Cal." She said it with a slight tone of disbelief. "I'm getting a divorce."
"And you'll be happier because of it. I'm sure."
"Yeah, I hope so." She managed a weak smile. "Thanks for coming back to check up on me."
The moment was cut short by the sound of Cal's phone. He sighed, hesitantly reaching inside his pocket to grab it. "It's Zoe."
"You should answer it then." She answered his look of concern with another smile. "I'll be fine, Cal. Go."
"Red!" Cal exclaimed, blurting out the colour of Gillian's dress as he entered her office.
"Yes, Cal, I'm wearing red today. Another colour I haven't worn in a long, long time." She gave a full-turn to show off the fire engine red dress she was sporting and smiled when she watched his eyes do a once-over on her.
"I like it."
"So, you off for the day then?"
"Yeah, I just finished up my report. You?"
"Just heading out, actually." He pointed at her and let his eyes trail down to her outfit again. "You know, that outfit deserves to be shown off."
"Yeah, yeah…how about dinner?"
"What about Emily?"
"She's got a date tonight. Doesn't need her father hovering over her."
His eyes met with hers again as he shrugged nonchalantly. "I dunno. Doesn't matter. So? Dinner?"
With a satisfied smile, Gillian grabbed her coat and purse. "Let's go."