Cal had been in the middle of a productive discussion with Ria and Eli when the door opened and in walked in his business partner. All three immediately stopped talking and a deafening silence filled the lab. Gillian looked from Ria to Eli and finally, her eyes locked with Cal's. When, still, nobody said anything, she decided to break the silence. "Please, don't stop on my account."
The sarcasm in her voice was obvious. Cal knew she knew that they had been talking about her parents' case and it annoyed her that they had stopped talking the moment she appeared. He pointed to his two underlings. "Stay on that train of thought. I'll be right back."
Gillian opened her mouth to protest when Cal grabbed her arm rather roughly and began pulling her out of the lab. She stopped herself when she looked at him and was surprised to find a deep look of something on his face. She couldn't quite put her finger on it. "What happened?" She frowned when, at first, he said nothing. Annoyance quickly returned as she watched him take his time closing the door to his office and then the door leading into the library. "Cal. What's wrong?" Her voice was stern, indicating she was no longer in the mood to be patient.
"I met with your mother this morning."
The expression on Gillian's face quickly changed. He could tell she was bracing for whatever he had to tell her. "What did she want?"
"She provided me with some information…"
"About the case?"
She knew he was giving short answers for a reason. She knew she shouldn't prod but it annoyed her even more that he was telling her bits and pieces at a time. "Cal, whatever it is, either tell me or just leave it alone."
"At the very beginning of this case, we tried to do a background check on Megan. That's when we found out her mother's name was Susan but we had a very difficult time finding more information regarding Susan." He paused, waiting for a reaction from Gillian but she simply looked at him, waiting for him to continue. "There seemed to be a lack of her records after 1984. We just received word from Canadian police that that was the year Susan committed suicide."
The sinking feeling in Gillian's stomach increased tenfold. Immediately, she realized what the expression on Cal's face had been. Suicide cases always gotten to him, understandably, considering what had happened to his mother. She felt a pang of guilt when she remembered how short she had been with him just a moment ago. How annoyed she had been with him. "Cal…"
He shook his head and looked down, pushing forward with the conversation. "Apparently, shortly after you found Susan with your father, she moved to Canada. That was where she had Megan and two years after her birth, she was found in her home with a gunshot wound to the right temple."
His voice was monotonous. He was simply reciting information he had read earlier. No emotions. No glimpse into his inner feelings. He was also purposely avoiding her eyes. Gillian wanted to provide some kind of comfort and he knew that but this wasn't about him. This seemed to be enough to make her back off. When she spoke again, the concern in her voice had been dialed down. "So…what does this have to do with your meeting with my mother?"
"She wanted to tell me something that even your father doesn't know." He sighed, still unsure whether telling Gillian was a good idea. "She was responsible for making Susan leave your father."
"She didn't specify." He could see her jawline twitch. She was gritting her teeth. All the possible ways that her mother could've made Susan disappear were running through mind. "I'm not sure your mother knows that Susan moved to Canada and that she died shortly after but, this is definitely something we'll have to follow-up on. It could give Megan a motive."
"You think that she's here exacting revenge for her mother?"
"It would explain why we kept getting the impression that she was hiding something."
She leaned back against the chair and let her head fall back tiredly. It was barely noon and, already, her head was throbbing. "Cal?"
Sitting up again, she looked straight at him. "If you find that anyone in this case was involved in any wrongdoing, promise me you won't deal with them lightly." Before he could question her, she nodded. "I mean it. Promise me."
He nodded. "Ok, I promise." He knew there was no point in arguing with her. She had made up her mind and as angry as she must've been, Gillian Foster rarely said anything she would regret…even in anger.
Cal knew she was watching him. He could feel her eyes cutting through him. He knew she wanted him to look up at her but he couldn't, partly because he didn't want to give her the satisfaction and partly because he knew what she had to say was the truth. He muttered a curse under his breath as he heard her get up from her seat. She was coming to him since she realized he wouldn't be coming to her. When he finally looked up, she was already standing in front of him. He gave her his best blank look. "Yes?"
"Are you done?" Her voice was filled with annoyance but it wasn't out of impatience. He knew her annoyance stemmed from what he had told her just a few minutes ago.
"Almost. Are you in a hurry to get me out of here?" He knew she wasn't. Ever since Zoe had moved in with him, they had moved their meeting place to Gillian's apartment. Alec was away most of the day, finishing his studies at community college and earning money as an intern at the State Office – a job he had gotten for Alec.
Gillian didn't budge. "Yes, actually, I am."
"Alec is at the State Office until this evening and he has a class tonight. Unless you have another boyfriend to babysit…" She flinched at his comment. He knew it was a low blow but he was just as frustrated as she was.
"Go to hell, Cal."
They sat in tense silence for a long while after that. He kept his eyes focused on the mess of papers on the table in front of him but he wasn't actually reading anything. He kept thinking of all the ways he could apologize to Gillian and all the ways he could defend his decision when she finally decided to talk to him about it.
An opening finally came up when, as he reached for a folder on the other end of the table, he knocked over the cup of coffee he had forgotten about. He swore loudly this time and immediately began grabbing half-wet papers off the table. Gillian rushed over to help him but, still, said nothing. He stole a glance at her when she was futilely wiping coffee off various papers. He could tell she was no longer as angry.
"It's fine. I have copies."
"Not about the report…" He stopped and looked at her, waiting for her to look at him. She let go of the wet sheets in her hand but would not look at him. "I should've told you sooner."
"You don't owe me anything, Cal. I mean…really, what are we? You're just my boss. You have no obligation to tell me you're getting married."
Despite her words, her voice and face said otherwise. He knew it bothered her that he was marrying Zoe and that he hadn't told her until tonight. "You and I both know our relationship extends further than professionally." He scolded himself silently for his choice of words. She finally looked at him and the look in her eyes told him his words had affected her too. "You're my friend. I should've told you earlier."
Too angry now to pretend like she wasn't, she nodded. "You're right, Cal, you should've told me earlier. I mean…we've worked together for three years now! I thought I was your friend. I thought you trusted me!"
She ignored his interruption and continued, "And then suddenly you tell me tonight that you're marrying Zoe next week? Next week, Cal! I can't even…" She shook her head and turned away, at a loss for words.
"I should've told you earlier." He repeated himself sincerely, unsure of what else he could say.
"And really, Zoe? Do you have any idea what you're getting yourself into? Zoe's gonna eat you up! I might as well just say goodbye to you right now."
"I'm serious, Cal! I've seen how you are around her. I've seen how she is when you try to be yourself. You can't be yourself! She doesn't allow it! How is it a relationship if she won't even allow you to be who you are?"
"That's enough!" He walked away, knowing he would say something he would regret if he had stayed so close to her.
"I'm sorry if it's hard hearing all of that but, as your friend, I feel like I have to say it even if it hurts." She walked over to him and placed a hand on his arm. "I don't regret saying any of it. Whether you choose to listen to me is on you. I've said everything I need to say." She pointed to the table. "I'm gonna get some more paper towels."
It wasn't until she had her back to him and was walking away that he allowed himself to look up at her. He would be lying if he said he hadn't considered everything she had just to him. He knew what Zoe did to him. He knew getting married to her would be a mistake but he had no choice. Soon, Gillian would understand.