Thank you to everyone who has reviewed… I won't keep you in suspense any longer, I promise this chapter will reveal Gillian's surprise ;-) This was just a silly idea that once I got into my head I couldn't stop thinking about and had to write, so hope it's not too daft or OOC for you – I have tried to make it fit the characters as best I can! Anyway – enough babble from me :-]
Disclaimer: I don't own anything to do with Lie to Me. Things would be very different if I did.
Cal stood and gaped at the monstrosity that was in front of him. "Foster," he said, turning to her, "never, even in my heaviest drinking days was I tempted to engage in that. Don't think that's going to change tonight."
She raised her eyebrows at him playfully. "Want to bet?"
"Foster." He shook his head. "I'm stubborn, remember? You'll have to drag me kicking and screaming…" She continued to smile at him in that beguiling way. "You honestly think you're going to drag me kicking and screaming up there?"
"I wouldn't dream of it," she said, smiling at him angelically – a look that clashed with her devilishly sexy outfit.
From behind them suddenly came Loker's voice. "Hey! I didn't know we were getting a karaoke machine – cool!"
"Trust you to think this was a good idea," Cal grumbled. "And don't say 'cool', you're not a teenager."
"Ouch – someone's feeing even pricklier today than usual. What's the matter Dr Lightman, are you not a fan of sharing your musical talents?"
"I have no bloody musical talent, that's the point, nor, I'm guessing, does anyone else here."
"No," Loker argued, "the point is that that's not the point."
"What?" Cal asked, scrunching his face up, now confused as well as irritated.
"Karaoke isn't about musical talent – in fact, people who can actually sing are no fun on there. It's about fun, it's about belting out a show stopping number when you can't carry a tune in a bucket. And when you're drunk it's even more fun. I'm definitely having a go. Nice one Dr Foster." He saluted her, then headed off into the other room, presumably to get some more drinks.
Cal rolled his eyes. "Look, listening to crappy, overly-cheery Christmas music blasting out the stereo is one thing – I can barely tolerate it, but I try. Listening to my drunken employees murdering songs on one of those bloody things… no. Not gonna happen. And that look," he said, waggling his finger at Gillian, "that thought right there, about getting me to do a bloody song…"
Gillian just laughed and shook her head. "You'll go undercover in a prison to get close to a serial rapist, bet a million dollars on a single number in roulette and frequently walk into situations which result in you having your life threatened in some way, and yet the thought of singing in front of people is actually more terrifying for you, isn't it?"
"Not terrifying," he said, irked that she should imply singing in public held some kind of fear for him. "Just… dislikeable."
"You won't even consider a duet?" she asked, leaning in close to whisper the question, and Cal struggled to keep his face blank. Her close proximity – and in that dress – was really starting to have an effect on him; surely she was going to notice soon?
"Never in a million years, love," he said.
"Well… you'll at least listen to my song, won't you?"
Cal couldn't help it – a slight smile flickered over his face for half a second, and Gillian crowed triumphantly. "Aha! You do like karaoke!"
"No I don't," he said immediately. "But the idea of you singing in front of everyone is mildly amusing. I don't think I've ever even heard you sing… not really. Humming, yeah… singing quietly to yourself around the office, but…"
"So you're expecting me to be rubbish and you can have a good laugh?" she asked, pretending to look annoyed, but allowing him to see the humour shimmering behind her words.
"That's what it's all about, right? If Loker is to be believed, which is a difficult concept to comprehend, I grant you."
She grinned at him, then stepped forwards onto the small stage that had been constructed, and grasped the microphone. "Excuse me everyone, can I have your attention for a moment please?"
Voices died down and heads swivelled towards her, and people from the room next door started drifting towards the sound of Gillian's voice. "First of all, Dr Lightman and I would like to welcome you all to our Christmas party – we hope you're all having a fantastic time!" She grinned at the crowd, and Cal managed a half-hearted waving of the hand as a few people chorused a happy response.
"Secondly," Gillian continued, "as you can see, I opted for a little extra this year – a karaoke machine. I hope everyone will come and have a go – regardless of your musical ability," she added, winking at Cal. "It's just a bit of fun, and that's why we're here, right? To have fun!"
Bloody hell. Cal's head was still reeling from the shock of Gillian in that outfit – a pleasant surprise, yes, but very unexpected – and now here she was, livening up the crowd at the party and ready to go first on the karaoke machine. Divorced Foster plus Christmas was equalling something Cal hadn't anticipated – not that he wasn't intrigued and, if he was honest, turned on by the concoction.
"So," Gillian went on, grinning at the crowd, "I'll be kicking off our karaoke session in two minutes – and I'll be looking for volunteers to follow me! Just have a look in the book, decide which song you want, and talk to Steve over there." She gestured towards the tall, stocky man at the side in charge of the whole thing, and a few people started thronging towards him, some already looking quite tipsy.
Gillian stepped off the stage and smiled at Cal. "Sure you don't want to make it a duet?"
"I'll stay here and listen to you, love. That's the best you're going to get. But I warn you, if you resemble in any way the sound of a cat being strangled, I'm out of here. Agreed?"
"I'll try my very best," she said, her amusement at his reaction still evident on her face.
More people had arrived in the room now, eager to hear Gillian sing – or just eager to see more of her, Cal reflected. Loker appeared behind him again as Gillian stepped back up onto the stage.
"Man, she does look hot tonight, doesn't she?" he commented, and Cal shot him a warning look.
"What? I'm not saying I'm going to make a move on her. I know that's your job."
Cal didn't even bother feigning surprise, just shot Loker a look of annoyance. "None of that is any of your damn business," he said, and Loker shrugged.
"Didn't say it was, but it's the unavoidable truth. And I can't very well stand here with her in front of me looking like that and not say how hot she looks – that's tantamount to a lie."
"Hey everyone," Gillian said into the microphone. "I'd like to dedicate this song to someone who is very important to me – I think they know who they are. And I just want to say… I hope they – and all of you – get what you want for Christmas."
She was purposefully avoiding looking at Cal, but he felt his temperature start to rise, and could feel Loker's eyes on him.
"Gee, I wonder who she's talking about?" he said. "Reckon it could be me?"
"Shut up, Loker," was Cal's response, and the young man grinned at his boss, then returned his gaze to his other, much prettier, boss.
The music started, and Gillian leaned towards the microphone slightly as the first line of her song hit the air, her glossy red lips wrapping themselves around the words with perfect clarity.
I… don't want a lot for Christmas…
Cal felt his eyebrows shoot up at the sound, and behind him Loker exhaled. "Woah. She's good."
Cal didn't reply, just stood there, listening to Gillian.
There is just one thing I need
I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want you for my own,
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas…
Her eyes alighted briefly on Cal.
Her voice was incredible – powerful, sexy, seductive and sweet all at the same time – and perfectly in tune.
The song continued, with the crowd of partygoers clearly enjoying Gillian's song – especially the men, Cal couldn't help noting with a twinge of annoyance – and Gillian herself seeming to enjoy being the centre of attention. She's a changed woman, he thought, amazed. Or was it just that her marriage was so smothering, we never got to see this side of her?
As the song approached its end, Gillian hit the top note perfectly, gaining her cheers and applause, and allowed her eyes to drift past Cal several times, usually during the line 'All I want for Christmas is you."
Just coincidence, surely? Don't read too much into it, Cal, he told himself.
It seemed like only seconds ago she'd stepped up onto that stage, not four minutes, but now the song was over, and Gillian was smiling and thanking everyone. There was a faint blush on her cheeks, and she did look a little embarrassed as well as pleased. That's more my girl, Cal thought, flooded with relief, although he wasn't sure why. Sexy, confident, Santa-dress wearing, partying Gillian wasn't exactly an unpleasant side of her – it was only thanks to her that Cal had to grudgingly admit to himself that he was enjoying the party tonight. But she couldn't just have a total personality transplant – then the Foster I know would be gone, he thought, and that didn't bear thinking about.
But there she was, walking towards him, proud and also looking a little overwhelmed at the reception she'd just received.
"So," she said, a little breathlessly. "You're still here – I take it the image of cat strangulation didn't enter your head just now?"
"Not too often," he said, and she laughed.
"Hey, fantastic job Gillian," Loker said. "I take back what I said about karaoke only being fun when people can't sing - that was sexy as hell."
Gillian blushed slightly, but smiled. "Thanks," she said warmly.
"Why have you hidden that talent from us for so long?" Loker asked, and Gillian shrugged slightly.
"It's not a talent… I mean, I can sing a bit, I was in the choir at school, but I'm not that good…"
"Yes you are, love. Don't sell yourself short," Cal told her, and her eyes lit up with a smile that damn near melted his heart. The music started again, and Jacqui and Sean from the accounting team started their rendition of Fairytale of New York. "God help me," Cal muttered, resuming his role as the miserly Scrooge, and Gillian laughed and took his arm.
"Come on, let's get a drink." They headed back towards the punchbowl, Cal complaining constantly about Jacqui's dodgy Irish accent.
"I've been to Ireland, they sound nothing like that," he kept saying, and Gillian continued to laugh and refill his glass and her own.
"Not a bad party, Foster," he conceded at last.
She raised her eyebrows at him as if she couldn't believe he'd just admitted that. "What's that? Cal Lightman, enjoying the Christmas party? It's the karaoke, isn't it? I knew you were a fan really, you just didn't want to admit it."
"More like the punch, actually," Cal told her, holding up his glass for his sixth refill. "If anything can imbue me with the Christmas spirit, it's alcohol. Or you," he added, watching a slow smile spread across her face.
"My singing?" she asked innocently, and he laughed.
"That wasn't bad at all," he said. "Nice song choice as well." He took another swig of punch, watching her reaction closely.
"Yes," she said, her face revealing nothing. "It's a good song, isn't it?"
"It is, it is," he agreed, wondering when they were going to break away from the hidden meaning beneath their words and just be honest with each other.
The sound of 'Last Christmas' flooded the room, and Cal groaned when he heard the unmistakable sound of Loker's voice.
"No wonder he said karaoke's about people who can't sing, that's bloody awful."
"Cal," she chuckled, shaking her head at him.
The room they were in was virtually empty now, as most people had flocked to hear Loker's song; his voice was terrible, but faintly amusing, Cal supposed. He was changing some of the lyrics, and from the sound of it had pulled Torres out from the crowd to help him sing.
"You know Cal, there were two things on your list of what you wanted at the Christmas party." She pointed at the glass of punch in his hand, then raised her eyebrows mischievously as Cal racked his brain to think of what else he'd mentioned.
"Ah," he said, recalling their earlier conversation.
"That's right," she said nodding, and they said simultaneously, "Mistletoe."
Cal gave her a questioning look, and she pointed to the darkest corner of the room, shielded from the view of most of the room by the Christmas tree. Hanging from the ceiling was a large sprig of mistletoe. "Now, that's more what you need at a Christmas party," he said mildly, although his heart was beating a hell of a lot faster than it had been a few minutes ago.
Silently, Gillian took his hand and dragged him towards it – not that Cal really needed to be dragged, he thought. He'd gladly climb to the top of a mountain right now if Gillian asked him to – and if the prize at the top was the chance to kiss her, at long last, he'd sprint if he could.
Reaching their destination, Gillian turned, her back close to the wall. Although she smiled at him, he could see she was nervous, and was glad. The idea of Gillian turning into a seductive temptress, although sexy as hell, was also a little disconcerting, and he was pleased to see that underneath it all, she was as nervous as him about them finally, finally, taking the next logical step in their relationship.
For almost a full minute, he stood and simply looked at her – this beautiful, smart, kind, amazing woman who, for some reason he'd never been able to fathom, had stuck by his side for almost a decade, had been his loyal companion, his business partner, and his best friend.
"Your song," he said, taking a small step towards her, so they were now merely inches apart. "Your dedication…"
"Was to Loker, yes," she said, and giggled.
"Charming – want me to get him to come and kiss you under the mistletoe instead?" he teased her.
"Don't you dare." Her voice dropped to a whisper, barely audible above the sound of the music, but Cal still caught every word.
She closed the small gap between them, looping her hand around Cal's neck and pulling him towards her in a kiss so passionate Cal thought his knees were going to buckle any second. The kiss was soft and sweet and intense at the same time, and the heady combination of her lips and tongue and the knowledge that he was actually kissing her, that this was real and not just another of his dreams, was proving incredibly powerful.
Gillian broke away first, but kept her arms around his neck. She rested her forehead against his, looking into his eyes. "Wow."
"Couldn't have put it better myself, love," he said, stroking her arms, itching to run his hands all over her body but wondering if that was too soon. Perhaps all she wants is a kiss, nothing more. Perhaps this is just the punch talking. Perhaps…
"Stop it," she said, and he looked at her questioningly. "Stop doubting," she explained, and he reached up to brush a lock of hair from her eyes. The fact that she was reading him now, that she knew his doubts and fears, and could allay them so quickly and easily, was both exciting and comforting at the same time.
"Not supposed to be reading me, love," he joked. "What about respecting the line?"
"Oh, I think we're way past the line, aren't we?" Her lips met his again, and Cal could not stop his hands this time. Before he had been able to keep them resting on her shoulders and back, but now, the intensity of her kiss heightened even more, he pulled her closer towards him, thrusting his hips towards hers. He ran his hands down her throat and chest, revelling in the feel of her skin, so smooth and supple, exposed by the revealing neckline of her dress.
"Foster," he breathed as they broke apart again, and she smiled up at him.
"I know you love these Christmas parties, but… how do you feel about skipping out early?"
"Won't everyone notice we've gone?"
"Probably, yeah." She laughed. "Half the office thinks we're sleeping together already. Might as well give them something to gossip about, eh? That'll be my Christmas gift to them. Cheaper than a pay rise or Christmas bonus, and a hell of a lot more enjoyable."
Gillian giggled, running her hands lightly over his chest. "Okay," she said at last, and Cal exhaled in relief. He'd worried he'd pushed her too far, that she wouldn't want their relationship to move too fast. He smiled at her.
"It's not too fast," she said, as if answering a question he'd just asked, and his mouth opened in surprise.
"You were thinking, 'Is this too fast? Will she think it's moving too fast if I ask her to spend the night with me?' Right?" She laughed at the expression on his face. "We've left the line behind now, Cal," she reminded him. "What, you think I can't read you as well as you can read me?"
"I think…" Cal swallowed. "I think you're even more incredible than I ever thought you were, and I also think we need to get out of this building and get home, right now."
She leaned in to catch his lips with hers once more in a brief kiss, then pulled away, tugging at his hand. "Come on, then. Your place or mine?" She fluttered her eyelashes flirtatiously at him, and he chuckled.
"Whichever is closest, love," he murmured, not sure how long he was going to be able to wait until he could finally make years of fantasies come true, and show this woman what she really meant to him.
With the crowds of partygoers still focussing their attention on the karaoke and Reynolds' drunken performance of 'Santa Claus is coming to town', Cal and Gillian slipped out the door unseen and made their way towards the elevator. The ride down to the ground floor was spent entirely with their lips locked together, and Cal was reluctant to let Gillian pull away, although she had to so they could walk properly towards the front door. He kept his arm around her shoulders though, loathe to break contact now that he knew how incredible it felt to hold her.
Exiting the building, Cal hailed a cab, then turned to look at Gillian. She was shivering in the cold – not surprising, with the amount of bare skin on show – and he took off his jacket and draped it over her shoulders. "You sure about this, love?" he asked, wanting to make certain she wasn't going to change her mind when things started going further. To get so close and then have to walk away from her tonight would probably kill him.
"I'm sure," she whispered, reaching for his hand and entwining her fingers with his. "I've wanted this for a long time, Cal. And I meant what I said." Her eyes shone with humour and arousal as he cocked an eyebrow at her in question. "All I want for Christmas," she answered, running her thumb over his lips, which still bore traces of her red lip gloss, "is you."