Epilogue - Scenes from Their Marriage
"I thought we'd never get out of there. They just wouldn't leave." Cal placed Gillian gently on the bed after carrying her over the threshold of the hotel suite and then flopped down beside her.
"We invited them, Cal. They were entitled to stay for dinner and dancing."
"You owe me, wife. I told you only two hours at the reception, and we stayed," he made a great show of checking his watch, "four."
"Hmm," she smiled as she started to roll over on top of him. "How can I ever make it up to you?"
He grinned and then turned very serious. "Okay, love, I'm setting some ground rules for us. No, none of that until we agree to the terms." He stilled her hands and moved her on her back while he stood up.
"You're serious." She sat up, her wedding dress billowing around her. "Cal, you don't seem the type to have rules for lovemaking."
"I only have one." He kept eye contact with her as he pulled her to a stand in front of him. "If at any point I do anything, anything that makes you in the least uncomfortable, you let me know. Are we clear?"
"How is it that I fell more in love with you just now?"
"I'm serious, love. No doing something you don't like just 'cause you think I will. Deal?"
"Okay, then. Where were we?"
And she showed him.
One Month Later
Gillian finished brushing her teeth and hair and walked over to the bed. "It's been a crazy week. I am really looking forward to this weekend. What do you want to do tomorrow?"
She looked at him. Bare-chested, he was sitting in bed reading one of their scientific journals. He looked adorable in his reading glasses. She leaned toward him. "I asked what you wanted to do tomorrow."
"That sounds good." He absentmindedly patted her hand as he turned the page.
"So much for the black lingerie," she murmured.
"It looks nice on you." He never looked up, just started jotting notes on the margins of the article.
"Wow, the honeymoon really is over." She chuckled and grabbed one of her romance novels, the one with the cover Cal especially hated. She crawled into bed with him. "Since you're reading I'm going to read, too."
"That's nice, love."
"Oh, Thor. Why can't all men be just like you?" She looked at Cal out of the corner of her eye. He read a few more sentences before her comment fully registered.
"Thor?" He looked at her. "Who names a child Thor?"
"Oh, you wouldn't be interested, Cal. Just one of my romance novels." He grunted and went back to his article. "You see, Thor is a Viking and he captured Isabella's father on one of his raids. She stowed away on Thor's boat to save him, and he's just discovered her. The typical bodice ripper nonsense." She sighed loudly. "Every woman's secret fantasy."
A beat of five. "What do you mean every woman's secret fantasy?"
"No, no, I'm interrupting you. Go ahead and finish your article. It looks important."
But he was already pulling off his glasses. "I could be persuaded . . ."
"No, honey. You keep right on reading. I'm so tired I would probably just fall asleep in the middle of it anyway." She rolled over, stifling laughter when her book was torn from her hands and thrown across the room. She was pulled flat on her back, an intense Cal looming over her. He ravaged her mouth with his lips, tongue, teeth. When he leaned back his eyes were challenging, "You'd fall asleep?"
When she caught her breath she retorted, "I look nice?"
His laugh started low and ended loud. Holding her in place he slowly pulled back the sheets and looked at her. When his eyes travelled back to her face, they showed equal parts amusement and desire. He kissed her soundly. As he divested her of her lingerie and nibbled up her neck, he whispered in her ear, "Well played, Gillian Lightman. Well played."
Four Months Later
"Where is she?" Cal ran through the sliding doors, barely waiting to let them open. "What happened?"
Ben met him at the entrance. "We don't exactly know yet, Cal. She was talking with Loker when she doubled over in pain. There was some bleeding." Cal didn't stop, just continued running down the hallway. Ben had to sprint just to keep up with him. "Cal, Loker and Torres are waiting for us on the fifth floor." He tried to guide Cal to the elevators, but Cal found the stairwell and took the stairs two at a time. Ben had no choice but to follow.
Cal opened the door; his breathing caught and heart stopped when he saw it was the surgical floor. He found Loker standing at the entrance of the waiting area and never broke stride as he ran to him, Ben hot on his heels. Loker met them partway. "Loker, what the hell happened?"
"I don't know, Cal. We were watching film when I noticed her wincing. By the time I got to her she was doubled over in pain. She said it was just cramps, but Torres pointed to blood on the floor. By that time Ben arrived. We got her here as fast as we could."
Torres joined Loker as soon as she saw Cal. "Loker did it all, Cal. When Gillian started to argue about coming, he just picked her up and carried her to the car. The ER doc took her as the top priority. After about fifteen minutes he called for a surgeon. That's when we finally got ahold of you."
"Was she awake?"
"The whole time," Loker hastened to reassure him. "She never lost consciousness. She didn't want us to bother you while you were giving your speech, but I knew you would want to be here."
Cal gave him a ghost of a smile and patted his arm as he looked around. "Thanks, Loker. Where in bloody hell is someone who works here?" He started pacing the hallway, looking for anyone who could give him more information. Torres motioned to Ben, who shadowed him.
After another hour or so Cal was ready to terrorize his third set of nurses. Finally the automatic doors opened and a young surgeon made his way to the waiting room. Cal saw him first and met him in the hallway. "What can you tell me about Gillian Lightman?"
"Are you her husband?" The doctor looked at all the faces who now surrounded them.
"Yes, I'm Cal Lightman. Is she okay?"
"Yes, she is going to be fine." There was a large group sigh and Ben punched Loker's shoulder in relief. "I'm Dr. Calhoun. Why don't you come with me so we can talk privately?"
"They're all family, Doctor. They can stay." Ben, Loker, and Torres got a little choked up at Cal's matter-of-fact statement.
"Well, your wife had an ectopic pregnancy, which means the fetus attached itself to one of her Fallopian tubes instead of the uterus. The tube ruptured and there was internal bleeding, which is the worst case scenario in these situations, but we caught it early enough to intervene surgically. Mrs. Lightman lost a fair amount of blood, but she is going to be okay."
Cal looked for deception leakage, but the doctor was being completely honest with him. "Thank God she'll be okay." He exhaled the breath he didn't realize he was holding. "Wait, Gillian was pregnant? We weren't trying to . . . I mean, she was told she can't conceive. She can? Is there a chance . . ."
The doctor shook his head. "No, Mr. Lightman. She did get pregnant this time, but her Fallopian tubes are quite damaged. No fertilized egg can be transported through them to her uterus. If she were to conceive again, it would most likely result in another ectopic pregnancy. Actually, I would highly recommend that the two of you make sure she doesn't."
"I need to see her."
"Certainly. She should be in recovery for another hour or so and then you'll be able to . . ."
"No, Doctor. I need to see her now."
Dr. Calhoun studied him carefully. "I'll see what I can do." He nodded at the others and walked back into the surgical unit.
Cal stood for a moment with his head bowed and his hands jammed into his pockets. Ben, Loker, and Torres looked at each other, silently asking what they could do. Finally, Loker put a tentative arm around Cal's shoulder. "Sorry, boss." He stepped back. "Do you need one of us to call Emily for you?"
Cal came to. "No, she's at her mom's tonight. I'll talk to her later after I see Gillian." Just then a nurse came out and motioned to him to follow her. "Thanks, everyone. Loker . . . thanks. Tell Heidi to give you your paychecks."
Loker was surprised and a little insulted. "Cal, I didn't do anything special and certainly not to get back on the payroll."
"You took care of my wife when I wasn't there, which is damn special to me. I know you didn't do it for the money, and don't argue with me. We put you back on salary four months ago, but I wanted to see how long it would take you to ask. Testing your loyalty, against Gillian's wishes . . . well, I just got my answer. Go ask Heidi for your checks. Tell her I said it was okay." He walked quickly into the unit.
The three of them stood for a moment. "Wow," Loker said, as much to himself as to the others. "Did you see his face for that brief moment he thought they could have children? I didn't even know he wanted more."
Ben shook his head. "Not fair, man."
Torres was pensive. "There's got to be something we can do."
"About this?" Ben asked. "There's not a thing in the world we can do to help them in this situation."
"I wonder." She didn't elaborate, but remained thoughtful as they drove back to the office and then went their separate ways.
Six Months Later
Torres poked her head into the lab. "Loker, have you seen the Lightmans?"
Loker looked up from the film he was marking. "I haven't seen Gillian since this morning. Cal is in his office working on their book."
"Okay. I've got visitors and wanted to give them the grand tour. Anything they're not allowed to see?"
Loker shook his head as he gestured to the film. "No state secrets. This is just more film for the Spilling case. Haven't seen much worth talking about anyway. Who are your friends?"
Torres ushered in two women. "Loker, this is my mom's half sister Marissa and her friend Kathy. This is Eli Loker, and this is where I work."
Loker got up to shake hands and say hello. They exclaimed over the lab and all its bells and whistles, and Loker amused them and himself by lighting up the cube. He explained what they did and showed some of Cal's exercises to the women. "Wow," Marissa said. "I can't believe you understand all this, Ria. And Cal says you're a natural?"
"Yep." Loker responded. "She is."
"But I still have a lot to learn. The Lightmans are the best around. Cal actually created the entire science."
Marissa and Kathy looked suitably impressed. Kathy asked, "We will get a chance to meet them, right?"
Marissa said, "That is kinda the point here," a remark that confused Loker, but Torres quickly responded, "Absolutely. Maybe we can just go to his office now."
Loker shook his head. "He's working on their book and has already missed the first deadline. Gillian gave strict orders not to interrupt him."
"How's it going?"
Just then they heard a crash and a male voice yell, "Bloody hell!"
Loker shrugged. "Not well."
A few moments later the lab door opened, and Cal stalked in. Clad in suit pants and a button down shirt that might have been ironed once upon a lifetime ago, he was twirling his glasses and scowling. "I need a break and haven't seen Gillian all day. What are you working on in here?"
Loker immediately put the film up on the large screen. "We've got the Spilling case right now. So far --"
"Is that the CEO who was kidnapped and killed right after he spoke at the corporate retreat and announced all the layoffs?" Marissa interjected.
"Who are you?" Cal walked toward her, and she backed up slightly, a little intimidated meeting the man himself after all the stories Torres had told.
"Cal, this is my Aunt Marissa and her friend Kathy. I've been telling them about my work and they wanted to see the office. I hope that's okay." Torres's voice was tentative. The plan was in action, but she was no longer sure it was her best idea.
Now that he had an official excuse to take a break, he grinned. "Welcome to The Lightman Group. Torres is quite an asset here. And you are exactly right about the Spilling case. You want to see how this all works?"
Both Marissa and Kathy nodded, smiling broadly. "Yes, please."
"Loker, start rolling that film. Now the FBI thinks maybe a disgruntled employee masterminded the kidnapping plot. They've asked us to review the footage from the retreat and look for any unusual reactions from the crowd. Loker, can you pull up something for Torres to read for them?"
Because Cal was looking at Loker, he missed the micro-expressions Torres was flashing. Loker, on the other hand, gave Torres a puzzled expression as he fast-forwarded through the film for certain moments. Cal asked Torres to read the expressions and then patiently explained the science behind the readings for the women. They were impressed with the work and delighted with all the attention.
After about thirty minutes, Loker cleared his throat nervously. "Cal, we don't want to keep you. Gillian gave us strict orders not to disturb you until your chapters were done."
"Can't ignore our guests, Loker. Don't worry about Gill. She'll understand."
"But, Cal . . ."
"Loker, don't argue with me. Remember it's my name on the door."
"That's funny. I thought it was our name on the door." Marissa and Kathy couldn't help sighing when they saw Cal's expression light up in pure joy. They looked behind him to see the person who just had to be Gillian. Dressed impeccably in a red sheath dress, she leaned against the door frame and gave her husband a piercing look. Their first glance of the couple together reminded them of the old adage about opposites attracting.
"There you are, love." He turned and walked quickly toward her. "I was looking for you everywhere, and then Torres and Loker needed my help on the Spilling case. Tried to get them to do it themselves, but you know how they are."
Her look tried to remain stern, but her eyes were twinkling. "Liar. I was at a client meeting. New case. Are you done with your chapters? Our editor is breathing down my neck."
"I'll have to work on them tonight. I left my notes at the house. Let's talk about the new case." He rubbed his hands together.
She held up a large folder. "Would your notes happen to be in this folder that you took home yesterday because you swore under penalty of death that you were going to finish your editing last night? Yet, as I recall this folder never moved from your briefcase."
"Well, I was going to work last night, but as I recall someone distracted me." He wrapped his arms around her loosely and grinned as her face threatened to match her dress.
"Cal!" She gave a half-hearted attempt to move away.
Loker groaned, "Oh, God, it's like thinking about your parents having sex."
Cal took the folder from Gillian and flipped through it before setting it down. "You're a lifesaver, Gill. Everyone close your eyes so I can give my wife a proper thanks." He grabbed her and bent her backwards as he kissed her. To be honest, all of them peeked just a little. He stood her upright and ducked the swat of her hand. "Have you met Torres's friends?"
As she walked over to the women, Cal walked to Loker's desk and cuffed him on the back of the head.
"That's for the 'parents' remark." Loker grinned at Cal as he rubbed his head.
Gillian said to Marissa and Kathy, "It's so nice to meet some of Ria's family. And please ignore Cal. He gets this way when he's trying to avoid work." She turned toward him, "Go finish please."
Cal waved to the women as he headed toward the door. As he got to the threshold, he turned back. "By the way, Loker, rewind the film about five minutes." Everyone immediately turned back to the screen. "Play it." They watched for a moment. "Did you see it?"
Marissa and Kathy were perplexed. They looked to Loker and Torres, but they looked just as confused. Gillian's face lit up. Cal smiled, "You got it, Gill."
"Woman in the second row. That's an interesting twist to the case."
"Third seat. Exactly. Replay it, Loker. Anyone else see anything?"
Torres responded, "Anger, but why shouldn't she be angry? He just announced layoffs."
Gillian spoke, "No, Ria. Watch it again, and notice the timing."
They all did. Even knowing the person to focus on didn't help Marissa or Kathy. Suddenly Torres got it. "She flashed anger after everyone else had already reacted to the layoffs. She got angry when he mentioned his wife."
Gillian and Cal nodded. Loker snorted, "Well, that certainly blows up the FBI's theory. Either scorned mistress or unhinged employee with a deadly obsession for her boss. We'll watch old footage and see if we can find film of them together. We need to know who she is."
Gillian spoke softly. "Don't get too far ahead of yourself, Eli. We know her reaction is off, but we don't know why yet. There could be other explanations, but at least we have a promising lead now."
Cal responded, "Gill's right, Loker. Have fun, you two. It's your case. Let us know if you need our help." He smiled as he left.
"Damn. I missed it. How did the two of you do that?" Torres exclaimed.
"Years of practice." Gillian patted her shoulder. "You're doing great."
She excused herself and walked out of the lab. A few moments later they heard another crash and a plaintive "Gillian!" She walked back in with a smile, picked up the folder Cal left behind, and headed into his office.
Loker watched her leave and then spun around in his chair. "I don't know about you, but happy Cal still weirds me out a little bit."
Torres turned to Kathy, "What do you think?"
Kathy smiled, "Yeah, I'd love to help them. Do you want to talk to her first or him?"
Loker asked, "Talk to them about what?" When no one responded, he looked at Torres. "Wow, you've been nervous since Cal walked in. What's going on?"
Torres took a moment to answer. "Remember when we took Gillian to the ER and the doctor said they couldn't have children? Marissa is a nurse at a fertility clinic in West Virginia. I asked her if there was some way we could help them. She met Kathy two years ago when she was a surrogate for another couple, and they've remained friends. When Kathy mentioned that she was ready to help someone else have a child, Marissa told her about the Lightmans. She wanted to meet them."
"Wow, does either of them know anything about it?"
"No. I didn't want to get their hopes up. You know how devastated they were." Loker nodded. Torres was still haunted by the looks on Cal's face that afternoon. She had never really seen him lose control, yet in the span of five minutes she saw his fear until the doctor told him Gillian was going to be okay, flashes of surprise, hope, and utter joy when the doctor initially mentioned her pregnancy, and the complete devastation when the doctor said unequivocally that Gillian could not carry a baby to term. He insisted on telling Gillian himself; they didn't see that conversation, but Torres had a good enough imagination to know how it went. Cal still hovered over her and those who knew to look for it could still see the pain in their eyes.
Kathy spoke up, "Since, she just got pregnant not that long ago, it means she still might be able to use her own eggs if she's ovulating. I'll only agree to be a gestational surrogate."
Loker threw up his hands, "Man in the room and way more information than I ever want to know about my boss. Torres, you know this is a high risk venture, right?"
Torres smiled nervously. "Can't hurt to ask."
"I'm sorry, have you met Cal? You know how private Gillian is and how protective he is of her. You're about to tell him you discussed their most intimate issues with people they don't know. Of course it can hurt."
"I'm going to call it a late wedding gift."
"Not exactly something off the registry, Ria." Loker watched the three women head for Cal's office. He wondered if he would be attending any of their funerals in the days to come.
Two Years Later
"No, Kate, no!" Cal sprinted across the kitchen, but it was too late. "Kathryn Elizabeth, we eat our bananas. We do not wear them." He tried to sound strict, but it was hard to stay angry at a nine month old who had her mother's blue eyes and said, "Da Da!" with such enthusiasm on a regular basis.
"What's happening down there? Do you need any help?"
"It's okay, Gill. Kate just decided to dump her bananas."
"Quick! Stop Rebecca before she copies her!"
Cal turned just in time to see the bananas smeared all over his other daughter's head, face, and lap. "Rebecca Louise, you heard me tell Kate no. Why would you do that?" She grinned, her mother's eyes again twinkling at him. He couldn't resist; he kissed them both as he took their plates to the sink and rinsed out two towels for the major clean-up. Gillian met him in the kitchen and tried to take one of them. "No, love, I've got them. You need to finish getting ready."
"Cal, this will only take a few minutes." She turned to look at their little girls and started to laugh. "On second thought, Emily is going to have her hands full tonight. Should we go ahead and bathe them now?"
"And let her miss out on all the fun?"
She chuckled as she took a towel and started wiping off Rebecca, kissing the top of her head. "I thought Emily would be here by now. You need to start getting ready as well, Cal. Your tux is hanging in the closet." He groaned. "Don't try to get out of it. Just think of it as networking at the highest level."
"Like we need more work. We're already swamped as it is. How did you talk me into this again?"
"It's your queen the president is honoring."
"That's right. That also reminds me," Cal grabbed one of the newest family photos from the refrigerator and tucked it into the pocket of his jeans. "Remind me to take this tonight. The last time the president asked to see a picture of the girls I only had an old one. He gave me such grief about it."
"The two of you are incorrigible when you're together." Just then they heard a door open. "Emily, is that you? We're in the kitchen."
"Hi, Gill! Hi, Dad! Sorry I'm late, but the movie ran longer than I thought. Where are my favorite sisters?" She rounded the corner and stopped. Then she started to laugh, "And why are they wearing their dinner? Dad must have fed them."
"Hey! It's not my fault they both have Gillian's angelic face . . ."
Emily interjected, "and your personality," as she kissed him.
Gillian laughed. "They are definitely going to be a handful tonight. Do you need reinforcements?"
"Already got them. Melanie should be here any minute. She's the youngest of six and has like a zillion nieces and nephews. We'll be fine."
"Max's new girlfriend."
"Oh, I remember her. Okay then. But no boys in the house."
"I know, Dad."
Thirty minutes later Melanie and Emily had bathed the twins, and Gillian and Cal were kissing them goodbye. "Alright, Em, both Gill and I have our cell phones so call if you have any questions or need us for anything."
"You told me that, Dad. We will."
"They shouldn't be hungry, but I have breast milk ready to go in bottles in the fridge that they'll want before going to sleep. Do you remember how to heat them up?"
"You already mentioned that, Gillian, and yes I do remember."
"Did I mention how grateful we are that both of you are willing to babysit for us tonight?"
"Yes, Gillian. Twice now. You two are going to be late. Go have fun. Don't start a world war, Dad. Remember, we like Great Britain."
"Go. We'll be fine. Won't we, girls?"
On cue, Kate and Rebecca giggled as Melanie and Emily helped them wave bye-bye.
Cal took the hint. With his hand on the small of her back, he escorted Gillian out the door and to the waiting limo.
"I know it's silly, but I'm going to miss them."
Cal just smiled as he reached in his pocket for her tissues and compact and handed them to her. When she finished, he tucked them away again and pulled her into his arms. "Have I told you today how beautiful you are?"
"Actually, three times, and one was when I was knee-deep in dirty diapers."
"You were especially beautiful then, surrounded by our daughters. I'm the luckiest bloke alive."
She snuggled even closer and nuzzled his cheek. "I'm the one who's blessed. Happy almost anniversary, Cal."
"Happy almost anniversary, love of my life."