No More Lies by Djinn
Gillian walked into Lightman's office, holding up a bottle of Scotch and two glasses. "Long day. Join me?"
She sat, poured the drinks, handed him one without meeting his eyes, then sat back and crossed her legs in a way that seemed designed to catch his notice. She sipped her drink, her eyes closed, with no expression on her face but apparent bliss over the twelve-year-old single malt.
"I know why you used to do this when you were still with Alec. But why are you doing this now?"
"I can't have a drink with my business partner?"
"Amateurish deflection, love."
She took a deep breath. "Why do you think I did this when I was with Alec?"
"So you could talk about things that you wouldn't talk about sober--even if you've never been drunk in here. I can tell when you're pretending to be more lightheaded than you are." He leaned in. "I wouldn't have let you drive if I'd thought you were really tipsy all those times."
"Always protecting me."
"Always." He gave her the smile that he didn't think she realized was just for her. "When did that become a crime?"
"It didn't." She leaned back and studied him. "Did you convince Zoe to stay in town so you could sleep with her?"
He sat back, laughed softly. He hadn't seen that one coming--she'd used a decidedly more professional deflection this time. "What kind of response did I just give you to that question?"
"Delight, you bastard." She grinned at him. "So, did you?"
"No. I wanted Em in my sphere of influence. And I'd have missed her terribly if she'd gone to Chicago with her mother. If Em didn't exist, I'd have let Zoe go without a care."
"What's that mean? Hmm? You don't believe me?"
"No, Cal. I do. I just like to yank your chain." She recrossed her legs. It took her an unusually long time to do it.
"What are you doing, Foster?"
"Just having a drink."
"You're playing with fire, you are. You tell me not to read you. You tell me there's a line. And then you come in here and kick all the sand around."
"Thank you. I've had loads of time to think about it."
"Have you now?" She didn't seem surprised.
"I have. Have you?" He stared at her, the way that made most people nervous, the way she seemed to love. Probably because that wanker she'd been married to never paid her any mind--she'd been invisible, supplanted by white powder. She knew Lightman saw her, really saw her, and liked her anyway.
More than liked.
"I have been thinking about it," she said softly, not meeting his eyes. "I was jealous. Seeing you with Zoe. I still am, every time she comes in and you rush off to her." She held up a hand as he started to talk. "I know it's just business with her--I didn't say this was rational."
He didn't bother to keep the flash of truth off his face. He and Gillian didn't lie to each other--they only lied to themselves and then trusted the other to support the lie. But the truth was he'd slept with Zoe and it had been great fun. But that was all.
Gillian didn't miss what he'd let her see. "It's not just business?"
"It wasn't. But it wasn't love or anything serious, either. We were both...of a mind to--"
"Fine. I get it." Her whole body language changed, and Lightman regretted making her angry and sad.
"I'm a free man, love."
"That you are."
He got up and walked around to lean on the desk, standing way too close to her. He thought she might back the chair up. She didn't.
"And you weren't a free woman then."
"I know." She put her drink down on the desk, slid out of the chair, away from him, brushing past him as she moved.
He reached out and caught her arm. "You are a free woman now. Make a choice, Gillian. For the love of God, make a choice and let me know what we are. Because I don't think I can stand watching you discover the single life if I don't know where I stand with you."
She didn't pull away, didn't turn to him either. "We're just business partners."
"Look at me when you say that."
She glanced back. "We're just business partners."
"You're lying." He eased her to him, just a bit, felt her resist for a moment, then she moved.
"It's a bad idea to get involved."
"Now, that you believe. I just don't know why." He pulled her gently, reached for her other arm, moving her so she was facing him squarely, so he could see everything she was feeling. It wasn't misery. It wasn't fear. It wasn't anger.
He'd always been able to read her.
She met his eyes; hers were filled with regret.
"You think this is going to go badly. You think we'll put our partnership at risk, don't you?"
"We will, Cal. We will." But she moved closer, and the regret grew.
"Why do you think that?"
"Because love changes everything."
"Well, then wake up, love. Because I've fancied you for years and it hasn't hurt us." He moved her closer, could see her pupils dilate, her mouth open slightly. "And you've wanted me, even if you were too good a wife to think too much about it."
She looked down.
"Oh, maybe you did think about it some."
A small, embarrassed and more than a little irritated smile appeared.
"And I can guess what you were doing when you thought of me." He knew she'd hit him if he wasn't holding on to her.
He stood slowly, the movement put him closer to her, made them equal height. He let go of her arms. "All right, love. This is it. Your choice all the way. Play or go home. What'll it be?"
She seemed unsure, so he let her see something in his eyes he'd worked for the last several years to keep hidden. Desperate, unmitigated desire. And then the part he'd never tried to hide: deep regard.
She moaned, a helpless sound. He was manipulating her and she knew it. He was manipulating her because he loved her, and she knew that, too.
She took the step that closed the distance between them. Studied his face as he ran his hands up and down her arms, as he reached around, rubbing her back, getting to know the feel of her--making sure she wasn't going to run before he tossed his heart to her mercy.
"I'm in love with you." She looked drunk now. More than she ever had after drinking with him. She looked like she was drowning.
And then she kissed him, and he felt as if he was the one drowning. Her lips were soft and full and determined. There was nothing tentative in the way she touched him, in the way her fingers were running through his hair, the way her mouth opened up to him.
He moaned and he could feel her smiling, felt her lips turn up under his as he turned her so she was leaning on the desk. He pulled up her skirt. She wasn't wearing anything underneath.
He stopped, studied her, a smile growing on his face. "I don't think this is your usual style, is it?"
He nodded, even as he let himself touch, let himself get to know her.
"You're the expert in human behavior. You tell me." And then she stopped talking. She threw her head back, groaned, and looked up at him with the most sensual expression he'd ever seen her wear. "Cal," she said, as she pulled him to her, as she unzipped his pants, as he pushed inside, and they kissed harder and faster. She wrapped her legs around him, and he was glad that Alec hadn't had time for her, glad that she was his now. For this moment, she was entirely his.
He planned to make sure she stayed that way.