"Oi Foster, a word please?"
Cal and his ever charming personality, Gillian thought as she quickly switched directions to follow him into his office. Lightman flopped into his chair behind the desk as Gillian entered the office. She noticed a young woman was sitting, facing Cal, with her back to Gillian. Gillian moved into the seat next to her, looking her over. The girl had shoulder length blonde curly hair, was dressed casually compared to Gillian's attire and was slouched in her chair.
"Gillian, Grace...Grace, Gillian" The girl finally faced Gillian as Cal made the introductions. She couldn't help noticing how beautiful this girl Grace was, when gazing at her features straight on. Brilliant blue eyes, rosy cheeks and pearly white teeth exposed as Grace smiled at her.
"It's great to finally meet you , I've heard a lot about you from Lightman here." She spoke with a slight accent, but it was different to Cal's, definitely not a London accent. Gillian couldn't place where it exactly it was from.
"It's lovely to meet you too Grace, Cal's..."Gillian drifted off as she saw Grace's expression become amused.
"Cal's never mentioned me. That's ok. That's what we agreed on." She turned back to Lightman still smiling. Gillian copied the girl's change and faced Cal, feeling more and more confused.
"I met Grace a while back. Before I knew you. We've kept in contact and she's here visiting." Gillian was confused, they had set up the Lightman Group almost 8 years ago and known each other at least 3 years before that. This girl couldn't be more than 25 and yet Cal knew her more than 11 years ago? And why had he never mentioned her before now?
"Lightman's always maintained a careful watch over me, almost fatherly, even from across the ocean. Actually the distance probably caused him to be more over-bearing than he usually is." Gillian couldn't help but laugh out loud at the girl's statement.
"Ha! Have you ever seen him with Emily? He's just as over-bearing and she still lives with him most of the time." The two women clutched at their sides laughing as they compared stories of Cal's domineering approach to fatherhood. Cal rolled his eyes, waiting for the women's laughter to ease. When it showed no signs of doing so he stood, placing his hands firmly on the desk in front of him, scowling at the pair. Again, this had no effect as tears began to roll down their cheeks. Foster was the first to let up; eventually.
"Ow, ow. My sides hurt from laughing." Noticing Cal's unpleased face she offered him a serene smile and nodded her head in the direction of his chair. Taking her advice, he sat once more but kept the scowl in place.
"Oh sorry Lightman – but here and I could probably go on all night about you and your silly ways." Smiling Grace reached for the tissues on the desk. Passing one to Gillian she began to wipe away the tears of laughter that stained her pretty face.
"Oh please call me Gillian, I have a feeling this won't be the last time we'll talk, especially if you have any more stories about Cal!" Gillian said, cleaning away her own tears.
"Ok Gillian, and believe me I do. There was this one time –"
"Alright, lady chat time is over! We are here for a reason." Cal's face was reddening as a blush crept up his cheeks.
"Of course. As I was saying, Cal has been there for me practically my whole life and I was just informing him that I am getting married soon!" Gillian felt a small pang as Grace held up her hand to show off the diamond adorning her finger, remembering all too well the new feeling of that weight on the most important finger to a girl. A flicker of sadness crossed her features but she quickly schooled her face back to a happy grin. Cal would have noticed but that was ok, he would never say anything. Looking up she found Grace frowning at her.
"I'm sorry. Recently divorced?"
"Wh-" Gillian began to ask but Cal interrupted her.
"A natural. Grace here just read you."
"I'm sorry I shouldn't have said anything, it's just you looked sad when I showed the ring and-"
"It's ok. I'm fine." Gillian said, trying to get over the shock of learning she had another micro-expression expert in the room with her.
"Well...I'm getting married and the good doctor over here doesn't approve."
"It's not that I don't approve Gracie, but I don't know the bloke! I've never met him!"
"Cal he's amazing! All you need to know is I love him and he loves me." Grace pleaded, even going as far to make puppy eyes at Lightman.
"No good luv, even Emily doesn't get away with that. Have him brought in here, Foster and I are going to question him. Make sure he's genuine." Gillian's eyes widened in shock when she realised the reason Cal had brought her in her in the first place.
"No Cal we can't!"
"No Gillian it's ok. Let him question James," Grace stood up and pointed a finger at Cal, "but I swear to God, Lightman, you better not scare him, harm him or anything else damaging that may occur to you!" Facing Gillian she let her hand fall to the side and her glare softened to a worried glance.
"Please keep him under control Gillian."
"I promise I will. Anything out of order and I'll put a stop to it immediately."
"Thank you" She smiled warmly at Gillian before turning back to Cal. "I'll have him come by tomorrow after lunch. That ok with you Dr. Pain-in-my-ass?"
"Dr. Pain-in-my-ass, that's a good one!" Cal smiled at his sarcastic comment as he leapt from his seat and rounded the desk to pull Grace into a bear hug. She didn't hesitate to wrap her arms around him and she squeezed him tight in return. Finally breaking away from their embrace, Grace whispered a goodbye to Gillian and made her way to exit the room. Stopping at the door she turned back one last time.
"I mean it Cal, I love this man so please don't do anything stupid." She closed the door behind her as she left.
"She seems nice." Gillian didn't know how else to start a conversation after the young woman had left, this seemed like the safest option.
"She was such a lovely kid. Turned out to be such a lovely young lady too, which is a miracle after what she went through."
"Are you ready to divulge that information yet?" Gillian was a patient woman, if Cal wasn't ready to talk yet she could wait.
"Northern Ireland we-"
"Ireland! That's where she's from! God I knew I'd kick myself when I found out where it was." Noticing Cal's glare she calmed down. "Sorry, you were saying?"
"Yes I was saying. I made a mistake there. I let someone go. I didn't see anything suspicious so I let him leave. He went into a pub that night and killed 6 people. Grace's parents were amongst those killed. She went to stay with an uncle but I checked in on her every now and then, it was my fault after all."
"No, Cal it wasn't. Whoever that man was that killed those people, that's whose fault it is. Don't blame yourself for one second ok?"
Cal smiled at her but it never reached his eyes, absorbing her words but not believing them. He sat in the chair previously vacated by Grace and faced the window.
"I helped get her into college. She's studying for a PhD in Psychology. Says she's probably gonna work with micro-expressions, like me." At the last word he turned to face Gillian, pride bright in his eyes.
"So where did they meet?"
"In college, he teaches English apparently. An older man, huh."
"How much older is he exactly Cal?"
"6 years." He mumbled.
"Hardly shocking is it?" Gillian laughed at his obvious distain for this man he had never met. Loker chose this moment to barge into the office.
"Hey boss, just noticed the very beautiful young lady with the lovely accent left your office. Can I have her number? Is she single?" Good to see his priorities are still the same Gillian thought as she stood up.
"No to both those things Loker, now get out and do some work." Cal put his hand on Gillian's back as he led her out of the office, following Loker's swift exit.
"I'll take a look into this boy's background, see if anything shocking pops up, and start preparing for our interrogation of him." She smirked at him as he leaned in to kiss her cheek.
"Thanks luv, knew I could count on you."
The next day, Gillian and Cal sat in her office going over their findings on James Harris, English Lit professor extraordinaire. They had nothing. Nothing that jumped out and said, 'don't let someone you know marry me'. Cal sighed exasperatedly for the fourth time in as many minutes.
"Cal, stop sighing this is a good thing! She's marrying a nice guy." Cal just continued to pour over the records ignoring his partners input.
"Knock, knock." Cal and Gillian both looked up from their paperwork to find Grace standing at the office door holding the hand of a tall and very handsome gentleman.
"Gillian, Cal, meet James. Your latest victim." James was visibly nervous, sweat lined his brow and his hand shook slightly as it reached out to shake that of Gillian and Cal.
"Great you're here, in the cube. C'mon let's go!" Cal rushed James out the door, Gillian and Grace following quickly behind them.
"Remember to keep an eye on him Gillian please?" Grace quietly pleaded with Gillian as they entered the room of her fiancé's interrogation. Gillian put a comforting hand on her shoulder and moved to sit in front of the monitors. Cal and James sat inside the cube while Gillian and Grace remained outside.
"Right James we're gonna ask you a couple of quick questions just to get a baseline for when you're telling the truth alright?" Cal asked.
"Right, what is your name?"
"James Michael Harris"
"Where were you born?"
"How old are you?"
"Have you ever slept with a hooker?"
"Wha- no! No!" Grace fell into the seat next to Gillian and dropped her head onto the table, letting out a groan as she did so. This is going to be a long day, Gillian thought.
Two and a half hours later and Cal was really hitting his stride. James' entire shirt clung to him due to his constant sweating and Grace had bitten her fingernails down to stubs. It seemed like Cal was finally letting up. Thank God, thought Gillian.
Cal sat back down drumming his fingers on the table between him and the other man. He sat forward glaring at James, obviously hoping scaring the man half to death would get more truth from him.
"Have you ever cheated on Grace?"
"What was that?" Cal stood up again and moved to now kneel in front of his victim.
"What was what?"
"Fear. You showed fear. What are you afraid of? You cheat and now afraid to be caught? Afraid I'll find out? Afraid Grace will find out? Huh? What is it? What are you afraid of? What-" He had begun yelling and his volume had steadily increased until James' scream interrupted him.
"I'm afraid you'll get it wrong! People get it wrong I'm afraid you'll read me wrong and Grace will think I've hurt her when all I've ever done is love her and all I want is to spend my life with her!" He slumped forward resting his head in the palms of his hands, as Grace burst into the room to wrap her arms around him.
"This is over Lightman. You've had your fun, leave us be!" she yelled. Cal didn't hear, he almost seemed to be in some sort of trance after James' words. He stumbled blindly from the cube and ran to his office. Gillian felt her heart rip in two at the sight of him.
Pushing the door open to his office she walked in to find Cal slumped on his couch. She was about to move towards him and offer him soothing words as Grace stormed into the room.
"What the hell was that Lightman? Huh? I tell you to go easy on him and you keep him in there for over two hours and practically torture him for answers! God why did I even come here to tell you about this wedding?" She shrugged her shoulders as she fixed her smoky glare on Cal, still slumped on the couch.
"I just wanted to make sure you were ok. That this was genuine love."
"Genuine love? What would you know about genuine love Cal? Did you have it with Zoe? Ha! We both know there's only one woman that falls under the category of genuine love for Cal Lightman and you've never had the guts to tell her." Cal jumped to his feet as Grace turned to face Gillian.
"You don't need to be a micro-expression expert to see the way he looks at you Gillian and if you ask me, maybe if the two of you got your act together than other people fiancé's wouldn't get attacked like that. We're going back to our hotel now. I'll call you when I calm down Lightman." With that bombshell she left.
Silence reigned over the office for the next few minutes as both tried to gather their thoughts. They stood facing each other, neither one looking at the other or daring to move. Gillian was the first to cave and give into the silence.
"Is that true?" Three words yet such a complex and powerful question. The answer could ruin a business partnership or worse, a friendship. Everything could change thanks to those three words. But Cal's one word answer was even more powerful.
She released a breath she hadn't realised she'd been holding in. Cal stayed perfectly still, letting her know she was in control and that the first move was up to her. If he had it his way he would have crossed the room, gathered her in his arms and kissed her with a passion so strong it would have left her breathless. Instead he stood in the same spot as he watched Gillian race from the office.
Grace opened the door slowly, knowing exactly who was on the other side. Cal stood in the hallway, looking defeated. She had seen Cal many things, but defeated was not one of them.
"Come in" she whispered softly, stepping back to allow him entrance into the hotel room. Suitcases were lined up by the door, already packed and a jacket lay across the back of an armchair. "James is just visiting some family he has here and then we're heading back."
"Why didn't you go with him?"
"Cos I had my own family to visit." Cal looked up as she spoke, shocked to hear himself described as family. "I'm sorry for what I said in front of Gillian. Did I ruin everything?" She bit her lower lip in worry at the thought of ruining a chance at happiness for Cal.
"Nah, I did that myself by never coming clean to her. It's actually a bit of a relief to have it off my chest now." He smiled wistfully, remembering Gillian's face as she fled the office. He was jolted from his memory by the feeling of arms wrapping around him. He returned the embrace with as much vigour as he could muster up.
"I'm sorry luv, I just want what's best for you. And that's James, I know that now."
"Thank you Cal"
"If it's any consolation, maybe I'll get all the crazy out on you two before Emily decides to get herself hitched." They both laughed at his comment as James came into the room.
"Back for round two Dr. Lightman?"
"Nah just saying goodbye to a friend here. I'll expect an invite to this wedding, is that clear?"
"Yes sir" Grace laughed, hugging him one last time. Finally after shaking hands with James, Cal exited the room and made his way home.
It had taken him longer than usual to get home, wanting to take some time to think he took the long route. Crossing the road to his house he noticed a shadowy form sitting on his doorstep. Emily was at her mum's this weekend so it couldn't be her. The figure stood up as he got closer and it was then he made out the outline. Those graceful feminine curves belonged to one woman and one woman only. Gillian.
"Hi." Wow, what a line Cal, he mentally chastised himself for his lack of opening lines.
"I'm sorry I ran out. It was a shock. I mean one moment you're questioning James and then Grace is yelling at you and then she's saying...stuff about you and...well...me. I just freaked."
"It's ok. If it's any consolation anytime I thought about telling you it was never like that. It was better."
"Well there would have been candles, wine, maybe even music. Cliché I know."
"I like cliché. I think I would have liked that scenario better." They fell into silence as each pondered what to say next. Gillian opened her mouth a few times, trying to articulate what it was she wanted to say, but not finding the right words she closed it again. Deciding actions speak louder than words, she closed the distance between them and pressed her lips against his.
The kiss was sweet and chaste, both too afraid to deepen it. That was until Cal's hand found their rest on Gillian's hip pulling her close. Feeling emboldened by his move, Gillian let her tongue run along his lower lip until he granted her access. Soon they were battling for dominance and Gillian's hands had found their way around Cal's neck, one hand on the back of his head holding him to her.
After an age, both pulled away breathless and panting. She rested her brow against his as she tried to steady her breathing enough to speak again.
"I love you Cal." He couldn't help the joy that spread through him at her words. He kissed her again, trying to express all his love for her in this one magical kiss.
"Come inside luv it's freezing out here." He pulled her jacket around her tighter as he guided her inside his home.