Cal buried his hands in his pockets deeper as he made his way up to Gillian's door. Emily and Liam were off to a movie and he was slightly grateful that he knew they weren't going to be home, alone, while he was out on his date with Gillian. His forced date, he told himself. But he couldn't really bring himself to believe that anything with Gillian, could ever be forced. If he was truely honest, it was a gentle shove in the right direction. But that didn't make it any less nerve-racking. His own daughter had pushed him into a potential mine-field and he couldn't bring himself to back out of it. Gillian was the only woman with the potential to genuinely scorn him, and he knew he was walking into all sorts of trouble, just by allowing this to go ahead.
Gillian was the ultimate double-zero bet.
He took a deep breath and knocked on her door, listening closely to the breeze rustling through the shrubbery around her house and unconciously smiling as he heard her footsteps, heading for the door. He could see her through the sheer curtains, and when she opened the door, his grin only broadened. "Hey," She smiled, wedging herself between the door and the doorframe, her fingers still wrapped around the handle.
"I didn't think you were picking me up." She frowned, but she wasn't upset and he was glad of that.
"My daughter informed me that on real dates, a gentleman would pick up his date." Gillian chuckled at his choice of phrase and Cal shifted on his feet, shuffling around, just outside her door. "And besides, you don't know where we're going." He winked and Gillian blushed, relaxing further into the doorframe with a tender smile. He looked her up and down, that unabashed way he loved to study her and she let him do it, standing there with the back of her shoulder pressed to the wooden frame, her palm relaxed against her thigh. She looked stunning. Her dress was a deep burgundy, fitted and shaped like it was made for her; it cut across one shoulder and he smiled - looking at it closer - because she look for all the world like she'd been wrapped in yards of burgundy silk ribbon.
"So this is a real date, then?" She questioned, looking down at her fingers as she twisted them together; and he didn't comment that she didn't say anything about him suddenly behaving like a gentleman. But he could see by the twitch of her mouth and the dip of her eyes, away from him, that she knew full-well, what this was.
"You look beautiful, darling."
She looked up at him then, smiling sweetly and not even bothering to hide her blush. "Thank you." Her voice was soft and gently lilted. "I'll just get my coat." She didn't close the door as she stepped back inside. Instead, she opened it up wider to allow him in but he just stood in the doorway and watched her reach for her royal-blue coat. He grinned stupidly, upon seeing her choice and she smirked as she turned back around.
"I love that coat."
"I know." She caught his eye as she brushed past him, stepping out into the night air and pushing her hands into her pockets as she turned back around to him. It was then that he noticed how losely she'd done her hair in gentle curls. They were so soft that the breeze caught them and and danced them across her face when the light from the nearby lamp glittered along with the humour in her eyes. "So," She smirked. "are we going?" Cal spun around, pulling her front door closed, before stepping out of the way so that she could lock it.
"Shall we?" He held up his arm and Gillian giggled as she wrapped her arm in his, pressing herself into his side as they headed for his car.
"Oh, I do love this place," Gillian grinned, her eyes sparkling as she looked up at the crawling string-lights surrounding the poky little doorway into the restaurant. It was a tiny little out-of-the-way place with charming decor and beautiful hand-made leadlight light shades. The whole place was warm and inviting and as Cal guided her through the door, with his hand at the small of her back, he could see just why she loved the little place. It was busy enough, but quiet and peaceful. It wasn't a five-star place, but it was classy and at the giddy look on Gillian's face, he was glad that Emily had chosen it.
She smiled appreciatively as he reached for her coat and he grinned again as he saw her dress for the second time. "Booking for Lightman." He told the maitre'd. Swallowing as he tried to ignore the knowing look in Gillian's eyes.
"Just this way." She grinned and he laughed gently as Gillian threw a look over her shoulder. He ignored her though, guiding her through the cluster of tables as the woman showed them to a booth near the back. Gillian slid into the it, taking the offered menu with a grateful smile and Cal nodded to the woman, taking his own before he slid in beside her. He pressed his side right up against her and Gillian laughed, never a stranger to Cal being so close but wonder the cause of it, just then.
"What are you doing?" She giggled, as he nudged her, almost taking over her space.
"Just breaking the tension." He stated matter-of-factly, turning his focus entirely on his menu.
"The tension, here-" He pointed to her brow and she laughed, almost nervously.
"Cal, I'm not tense."
"You're good at hiding it, love, but you're thinking this is just as weird as I am."
She rested back, turning her body to face him as she smirked. "It is?"
"Yeah," He cleared his throat. "I mean, it's not weird for us to have dinner together. But in a minute, we're going to start reading the menu and your mind's going to drift to what this really is and you'll realise that it's weird, and strange that this is a real date and then you're going to freak-out."
"I am?" Gillian was smirking and Cal rolled his eyes. Then he turned to her, studying her face, reading her because for the first time in a long time, she was offering that up to him. She was saying that it was okay and as her head tilted to the side, her lips turned up in a slight smile, he wanted more than anything, just to kiss her. But somehow, he still felt that it wouldn't be right. She knew it was a date, she knew what she was getting into when she'd said yes. He'd seen the reservation in her eyes. But none of that reservation was there now and it practically floored him. "I want to be here, Cal." She smiled, reaching for his hand on the table and he watched their fingers intertwine and he smiled at the way it felt.
He'd held her hand before, a million times. He'd hugged her and he'd danced with her; he'd touched her face, he'd kissed her hair, he'd held her in his arms, as she cried. But somehow, someway, that simple touch of hands was different. It was simpler, gentler and yet somehow, so much more intimate than any touch they'd ever shared. And it was then that he realised just what it was, that had him so on edge.
"Why are we here?"
Gillian frowned, her brows cut deep in confusion and Cal gripped her hand tighter, before she could pull it away. Her breath hitched and her voice cracked as the nervousness returned. "What do you mean?"
"The point of going on a date. It's to do something nice, yeah? To do something you wouldn't normally do with just anyone. But mostly, a first date is about getting to know each other."
Gillian blushed, realising his point.
"We already know each other, probably better than we should."
"But I like that." She smiled, squeezing his hand and dipping her head lower, blushing profusely.
"So do I, darling. But it begs the question - why are we here? Because we're just going to talk about work and Emily and you're going to order the lightest salad on the menu, because don't even think I didn't notice you eyeing the Chocolate-Chocolate Bliss Cake in the window." Gillian's eyes shot to their hands and she giggled, hiding her face.
"And you're going to order the biggest, greasiest burger with extra fries, because you hate side-salad." She spoke in a quiet voice.
Gillian looked back up at him with the soft curls framing her face and the pink glow in her cheeks making her look younger. "Yeah."
"So," He smirked. "why don't we get a piece of that cake to go and go back to my place and watch a movie?" She hesitated for a moment, looking around the restaurant with a frown, but Cal caught her before she could protest. "Because I know, as much as you like it here, love, you're only in it for the cake."
She laughed heartily then, dropping her face to his shoulder as he joined in on her with a chuckle that shook them both. "Okay."
Emily looked up at the house as she climbed out of Liam's car. There was a light on in the livingroom that she was certain she'd turned off before they left but she'd been almost positive that her Dad wouldn't be home for another hour, at least. It was far too early for him to be back and as she walked up the front path, waving goodbye to Liam, she started to fear that perhaps the date with Gillian, hadn't gone well.
The door opened to the sound of jazz music playing softly in the livingroom and she could see from the hall, that the only light was coming from the lamp that sat beside the sofa. She inched closer to the livingroom, trying to be as discrete as possible as they snuck in.
Slowly, as she rounded the corner, a bright smile started to form on her lips. On the sofa, her Dad was sitting with his feet perched on the coffee table, reclining back the way he did in almost every chair she'd ever seen him sit in. But beside him, with a large bowl of popcorn rested in her lap, was Gillian. Emily smiled at how lovely she looked, her hair all curled and that gorgeous burgundy dress that was in keeping with her impeccable style. It made her smile, that something like this hadn't in the slightest, changed them or their quirks. That thought also made her fear that they'd made no headway on the relationship aspect - the entire point of the night - but as Emily watched her Dad's hand travelling from Gillian's bare ankle, up her calf, over her knee and back again, she started to think that maybe everything had gone just perfectly.
Gillian's feet were bare and rested in her Dad's lap; her short but toned legs stretched comfortably across him and her Dad seemed awfully pleased that the sofa was just a two seater, because it meant that they were practically curled up on top of each other, even though they were at either end.
Some old black and white movie was playing on the television; one of those old silent ones that her Dad liked to watch simply for the facial expressions and Emily had to laugh, holding her hand over her mouth, because she could think of no one that had ever wanted to sit through one of those, with him. But there Gillian was, eating popcorn piece by piece and smiling. Watching her Dad, she could see that he was barely looking at the television screen and it made her heart flutter, the way he could just sit there and watch Gillian eat.
"I think Emily's home." Gillian whispered, shuffling closer to Cal on the sofa. He grinned, feeling her breath on his face and smelling the sweet smell of the Chocolate-Chocolate Bliss cake on her breath. "I heard the door."
"So did I." He answered, turning his face to hers with a grin. Gillian set the bowl of popcorn on the coffee table so that she could snuggle in closer to his side and he just hugged her bare legs, keeping her in place.
"That's an awkward way to sit." He smirked and she shrugged.
They could hear nothing but the sound of soft jazz coming from the stereo and Cal grinned, knowing that since she was yet to announce herself, Emily was likely watching them from the doorway. Quickly placing a soft kiss to the corner of Gillian's mouth, he asked a question that he'd wanted to ask her, for a very long time. And she answered it, by pulling her legs away from him and crawling up into his lap. She grinned down at him with that mischevious glint in her eye as she wrapped her arms around his neck and answered him with a deep kiss. "Leaving the restaurant was a good idea." She said louder, sure that Emily could hear her.
"Yeah," She kissed his lips again, smirking. "because this is the only thing that has to change. Better than any first date I can remember."
"Big change is overrated, love." He ran his hands down the curve of her waist.
"And this isn't a big change?"
"Nah," He threw his head over the back of the sofa, catching a whip of brown hair disappearing around the corner. "Em." He called and sheepishly, she showed herself, though smiling because Gillian didn't even attempt to disentagle herself. Which only lead her to believe, that they'd known full-well, that she was there. "tell Gill this isn't a big change?"
"It's not." She nodded.
"See, darling. It's just a slight change in a million little things. See," He grabbed her hand and held it up between them "I can hold your hand like this now," He curled their fingers together, instead of the way he'd always grabbed her by the wrist before. "and I can kiss you, in public." He lowered his voice on the last of his sentance and Gillian blushed, falling on her side, next to him, still wrapped in his arms. "But you'll still complain to me about the budget and payroll and the cases, I'll still do stupid things and alienate people and buy to slushies to apologize when I screw up. Same old, same old, darling."
"Yeah, you guys were already treating each other like you've been married for thirty years." Emily grinned and Gillian looked up at her, then back to Cal.
"I wouldn't know, love. But if that's true, we've got a lot of catching up to do, on the fringe benefits." Cal practically tackled Gillian back into the sofa, causing her to shriek with laughter and for her legs to fly into the air. "Leave now, Em, or be scarred for life." He laughed, and Emily paled, dashing for the front door and hoping to get out before she heard anything she didn't want to.