Gillian looked up from her desk and smiled. "I thought you were heading home?"
"I was but I thought I'd come by and thank you for this." Cal grinned as he revealed the gift he had been holding behind his back. He fanned out the apron and held it up against his body. "I think I might have to ditch the floral apron and make this one my new favourite." As he studied the rippled six-pack abs imprinted on the apron, he scrunched up his face in disgust. "Where did you find this masterpiece, anyway?"
"Department store down the street. I'm sorry, I was here most of these last two days, trying to make sure my partner came back in one piece from Afghanistan. I didn't have a lot of time to shop." She bit her bottom lip to stifle a laugh as Cal slipped the gift on. "I think it's very becoming."
Cal raised a playful eyebrow and smirked, "If you wanted to see what was under my shirt, Foster, all you had to do was ask. The truth might be much more becoming."
"Funny." Despite the disapproving look she shot him, there was a lilt in her voice that betrayed her true amusement by his comment. "You should go home, Cal. You've had a rough few days. So has Emily."
"Yeah, she was supposed to go home with her Mum tonight but with Zoe stuck in St. Louis, she's coming home with me. Christmas night with my daughter, I couldn't ask for a better gift." He paused and then shook his head, pointing to the apron still hanging from his neck. "Except for this, of course. Nothing beats this."
Gillian laughed again. For a moment, their eyes locked and neither said anything. Their silent moment was interrupted by the sound of the door opening behind Cal. They both looked to find Emily with her head poked in through the crack in the door. She flashed Gillian a quick smile before whispering to her father, "Did you give it to her yet?" Cal didn't answer but he didn't have to. Emily sighed and nudged her father in the back. "Give it to her!"
"Alright, alright…quit pushin' me." He walked up to the desk and turned back to look at Emily again. She grinned toothily but made no effort to disappear. Realizing he had nowhere to run, Cal sighed and fished something out of his coat pocket. He handed it to Gillian with a sheepish smile. "This is from Emily and me."
"What is this?" Gillian took the gift from him and realized it was a handmade, felt Christmas ornament. She opened her mouth in shock when she realized her name was sewn into the ornament as part of its decoration.
"It's mostly from Emily. She made it."
At her father's hurried explanation, Emily made her way into the office and shook her head. "I made it but it was really Dad's idea. We all have our own at home. Do you like it?"
"It's beautiful." Gillian choked back tears as she looked up at the father and daughter pair. "Thank you."
"Well, now that you have your gift, you should come home with us and hang it up on our tree." Emily gestured at the files Gillian had been studying. "Nobody should work on Christmas…right, Dad?"
"Uh…yes…yes!" Cal glanced at Gillian, who was still looking at her ornament with tears in her eyes, and he couldn't help but feel giddy. "Um…crappy music, fairy lights, and no work. Those seem to be the popular rules of Christmas."
"Exactly! Even Dad agrees. You can't say no, Gill." Emily smiled victoriously and, without giving Gillian a chance to respond, she headed towards the door. "I'm gonna go get Rick. We'll meet you in the lobby!"
Once Emily was gone, Gillian looked at Cal. "I know what the two of you are trying to do."
"And what's that, love?"
"This is my first Christmas after the divorce. You don't want me to spend it alone."
"That…" He extended the word and shook his head, "never even crossed my mind."
"Well, I just wanna say that I appreciate it. The gift, the invitation…everything."
He nodded. "Our pleasure."
As she slipped on her coat, she noticed that he was still wearing the apron she had gotten him. "Are you gonna keep that on the entire time?"
"Yeah, of course. Something this fabulous shouldn't only be worn in the kitchen." He smiled as this elicited another chuckle out of his partner. He opened the door and held his hand out to indicate he was allowing her to go first.
She stopped in the doorway and kissed him on the cheek. "Merry Christmas, Cal."
He smiled again. "Merry Christmas, love."