Set after Fold Equity. I thought they missed a huge opportunity! I mean it's Vegas baby!
Light from a crack in the curtains spilled onto her face waking her from her slumber. Gillian Foster opened her eyes but quickly closed them again when a pain shot through her head. She groaned. She had a hangover and a fierce one at that. How much had she had to drink last night? She tried to recall the events of the previous evening. Suddenly she registered she wasn't alone. She could feel an arm draped over her stomach. Reluctantly she opened her eyes afraid of what she might find. Next to her, sleeping soundly was Cal. Relief flooded her, quickly followed by surprise when she realised she was happy it was Cal. Frantically she searched her mind for answers.
Walking through the casino Gillian felt great. For the first time the whole trip she was happy. And then she saw Cal. He wouldn't! She hurried towards him. He could and he was! She watched with bated breath as he placed his bet. He turned to her his eyes expectant. She remembered the disappointment and sadness on his face as she had turned without a word and walked away.
Ben was waiting outside and although he was no deception expert he knew something was up. He gently probed but gave up when she told him over and over she was fine. He took her to a couple of very interesting places which she would have normally enjoyed but after she had tried to muster enthusiasm for a third, Ben gave up. He found the nearest bar and pulled her inside.
"Whatever's going on the only cure for you tonight is to get wasted!" he told her
Gillian smiled "That is a wonderful idea."
Gillian remembered a lot of whiskey. So many she lost count. She remembered dancing with Ben, who was very good, until she got them thrown out of the bar by dancing on a table. Stumbling out into the night giggling like children they got a taxi back to the hotel. Reynolds escorted her to her room, holding her around the waist to make sure she didn't fall. When they reached her door, they found Cal sitting on the floor, waiting. He looked like he'd been there a while and his mood wasn't helped by the sight of Gillian clinging to Ben. Reynolds looked sheepish, like a kid who'd been caught stealing cookies, but he quickly recovered when he realised the reason for Gillian's earlier distress.
"I should'a known." He said glaring down at Cal.
Cal hauled himself to his feet and squared up to Ben. They glared at each other but looked away when the sound of a lock caught their attention. They both watched as Gillian opened the door to her room. Cal moved towards her.
"Foster..." he began but she held up her hand to stop him.
"I have nothing to say to you Cal." She told him before turning to Reynolds. "Thank you Ben. I had a wonderful time with you." She said pointedly before kissing his cheek and closing the door on both of them.
Ben touched his fingers to the place she had kissed and Cal wanted to punch him. He squared up to Reynolds again but this time Ben just laughed. He shook his head at Cal. "Don't worry. I'm no threat to you." he told him
Cal deflated slightly "Eh?
"She's only interested in one person and that aint me."
"How'd ya mean?"
Ben gave an annoyed sigh. "Jeez Lightman. For an expert in emotions you really are blind sometimes! Look I don't know what you did this time, but the whole time she's been with me she's been thinking about you."
Cal flashed surprise then pride quickly followed by shame and remorse.
Ben continued. "She's a hell of a woman. You're lucky to have her, and as much as I like you, if you don't make it up to her and treat her right you'll have me to answer to. Got that?"
Inside her room Gillian was leaning heavily on the door listening to the whole conversation. After a minute or so of silence she figured Cal and Reynolds must have left until she was startled by knocking on the door. Peering through the spy hole she saw Cal on the other side with no sign of Ben. Still furious and very drunk she ignored him but he wouldn't give up. The knocking became louder and he began shouting. Afraid he would make an even bigger scene she hissed "Go away!" through the door.
"Not until you talk to me!" he yelled "I'm not leaving."
Gillian was silent for a moment so Cal resumed banging. A couple of people from nearby rooms came out and began complaining, but Cal ignored them. Eventually all of the banging and arguing was too much for Gillian and she threw open the door. Cal quickly pushed his way in before she could change her mind. He turned to discover she had gone. Annoyed he stalked out of the room to see her disappearing into the lift. He found the stairs and leapt them two at a time presuming she had gone downstairs. He was right. He saw her heading through the hotel lobby and ran after her. He caught up with her at the entrance to the hotel. Grabbing her arm he pleaded
"Just hear me out?"
She turned to him fury blazing in her eyes. "Why? So you can say you're sorry? Talk your way out of it? Not this time Cal!" And she stormed out of the hotel.
"Stop doing that!"He shouted following her down the walkway. "Stop walking away from me."
Gillian stopped. Something in his voice caught her. Could it be? The great Cal Lightman actually sounded vulnerable. She turned to him and even in her drunken state she could read the despair.
"Please." He said, his eyes imploring her. "Just hear me out. Let me apologise and then you can go back to hating me."
Gillian sighed despite herself and said. "I don't hate you Cal."
Hope flashed on his face and he took her hands leading her to a bench before she could change her mind. It was late now and the walkway was quiet. Fountains splashed in the background as Cal searched for the right words.
"I've been shit to you since we've been here. Vegas turns me into a bastard, but that's no excuse. You don't deserve to be treated that way. I'm sorry." He showed genuine remorse and Gillian felt her heart soften.
"Why did you do it?" she asked quietly.
"Which bit?" he asked. "Let's face it I've made a lot of stupid choices since we've been here."
"Any of it?"
Cal thought for a while. "I can't answer that." He said "It's just Vegas but I never meant to hurt you."
"Yeah, well you did."
Cal was tempted to ask which had hurt more, him sleeping with Poppy or gambling the money, but he wasn't sure he could handle the answer.
"It was a reckless, irresponsible thing to do." She said breaking his thoughts. "We need that money."
"I know. I'm sorry luv."
"We could lose our business. I've put my heart and soul into that company and you treat it like it's nothing."
The double meaning of her words hit Cal like a punch in the stomach. He felt so ashamed he couldn't look at her.
"I don't know if I can trust you anymore." She said.
If he thought he felt bad before those words made him feel a hundred times worse. He needed to make amends, but he had no idea how. He wanted to take her in his arms and beg forgiveness, but her body language warned him away. Instead an idea struck him. "You're right." He told her. "I don't deserve your trust so until you decide otherwise, I am handing over complete control of the Lightman Group to you."
Gillian's eyes widened, but Cal continued. "When we get home I'll sign everything over to you. That way I can't screw up your life anymore than I already have."
Gillian looked at him and could see he was deadly serious. Her head began to hurt. The alcohol was beginning to wear off and she was overwhelmed by the offer Cal was making.
"How do you know you can trust me to give it back?" She asked calling his bluff.
He took her hands. "I'd trust you with my life."
Suddenly his face lit up. Gillian had seen the look before. It was a Vegas look. Whatever he was thinking it couldn't be good.
"Come on." He said pulling her to her feet.
"Where are we going?"
He led her past the fountains and down the strip. After a few minutes he stopped outside a white building and pointed at the sign. Gillian's head was spinning as she read the words Chapel of Love. She opened her mouth to speak but had no idea what to say.
Cal grinned and looked at her like his plan made perfect sense.
"Marry me?" he asked sincerely.
Gillian's heart skipped a beat and she was shocked to find the first word that popped into her head was yes! Fortunately she managed not to say it out loud and just stared at him instead.
"Think about it." He said. "I'm a mess. The only person in the whole world who could straighten me out is you. If we get married you would have complete control over me and..." he trailed off as he registered the hurt on her face.
"Getting married isn't about control Cal. The only reason to get married is love. This is crazy!" she ran a hand through her hair trying to get a grip on her feelings. It didn't work. She glared at him. Her eyes burning, tears of anger threatening to spill over. "You are twisted you know that! How could you possibly think I would want to marry you! Like this!"
Cal's eyes widened when she said 'like this. He tried to speak but she cut across him.
"Vegas brings out the worst in you and I'm not going to be a part of it!"
Cal was backed into a corner. His mind wrestling to find a way out of another mess he had created. Angels and devils fought on his shoulders and being in Vegas the devils won. In his usual arrogant style he challenged her.
"Couldn't handle it eh? Too much of a challenge for you? Isn't that what good girls like you are supposed to do? Try and change bad boys like me?" He was deliberately goading her. "Or are you worried about your reputation? Someone like you, being with someone like me. Wouldn't fit your image would it luv?"
"Stop it!" she yelled.
He moved closer invading her space. The combination of his proximity and the amount of alcohol she had consumed made her head swim.
"Come on Foster." He said deliberately using her married name. "Embrace the Vegas."
Those three words made something snap inside Gillian. For once her wild side overruled her common sense.
"Complete control?" she clarified rising to his challenge.
Cal nodded. Gillian held out her hand and shook Cal's "Deal." She said leading him into the chapel.
Back in the present, sitting fully up in bed, a blind panic had muted the raging hangover. Gillian frantically searched her mind for the missing pieces of the previous night. She checked her left hand. No ring. That was good, right? She tried to sneak a peek at Cal's hands but they were under his head and he was fast asleep. She watched him for a while. He looked so peaceful and content. It was rare to see him so, unguarded, so open. Gillian allowed herself a brief moment to wonder what waking up with Cal every morning would be like. A hammering at the door disturbed her revere, making her jump and her bedfellow open his eyes. Cal smiled a genuine delighted grin when he saw her. He was just about to speak when Reynolds voice came booming through the door.
"Gillian? Gillian! You in there?"
Cal and Gillian looked at each other, Cal smug, Gillian horrified. Reynolds banged again.
"Gillian! Our plane leaves in an hour. The car is waiting downstairs!"
The looks turned to 'Oh crap' as they both looked at the clock. Gillian jumped out of bed and ran towards the door when Cal's voice stopped her.
Gillian turned to see him pointing at her.
"Lovely view but maybe you don't want to share it with Reynolds yeah?"
Gillian looked down to see all she was wearing was her underwear. Blushing a violent shade of scarlet, Gillian scowled at Cal who was laughing into his pillow. She ran into the bathroom to grab a robe. She went to the door and opened it a fraction so only her head peeked out.
"Where the hell have you been?" a clearly irate Ben asked her. "Where's Lightman? The car's waiting."
"Don't worry Ben, we'll be out as fast as we can."
Reynolds quirked an eyebrow. "We?"
Gillian's face turned red again. "Me. I mean me...I mean I'll find him...and we'll meet you downstairs. Ok?" and she shut the door in Reynolds face.
She watched through the spy hole to make sure he had gone. Sighing, she turned around and bumped straight into a fully dressed Cal who had been standing behind her. She tried to move past him but he went the same way. She moved again and he followed.
"Cal!" she yelled pushing him.
"Sorry luv." He smirked "Didn't mean to make you lose complete control."
Gillian flinched at his choice of words. She stopped moving and stared at him.
"Did we...? she trailed off wondering how to best phrase the question.
Cal opened his mouth, but Gillian recognised the gleam in his eye before he even spoke.
"You heard the man. We're late." He leant forward and kissed her cheek before heading out of the room. Just as the door was the door was closing she heard that unmistakeable accent say
"See you downstairs...Mrs Lightman."
Running through the hotel lobby Gillian was hoping she hadn't left anything behind. She'd packed in a panic, Cal's words spinning in her head. The more she tried to remember the more her head hurt. The hangover was back with a vengeance and all she wanted to do was have a long hot shower and crawl back into bed. Unfortunately that wasn't an option. Reaching the waiting car she took a deep breath before entering hoping Cal was winding her up. Climbing inside, she found Ben and Cal already there. Ben did not look happy but Cal was beaming. Gillian glared at him silently begging him not to make a scene in front of Ben. Cal winked at her and shook his head slightly to say he wouldn't. They made it all the way to the airport without incident until Cal was exiting the vehicle. He turned to Gillian.
"You look different this morning." He said then turning to Reynolds he asked "Don't ya think Ben? She's practically blushing!"
The plane ride home was quiet. Gillian nursing her hangover, Cal going over the details of the case and Ben observing the two of them. He could see there was definitely something going on between them but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. They dropped Gillian off at home first and she headed straight for the shower. Letting the water run over her body she tried to wash away the nagging feeling in her mind. What had she done? Being around Cal had obviously rubbed off on her. In her entire life she had never done anything as reckless this and she wasn't even sure she had done anything. She was never drinking again. It was all Cal's fault. If she hadn't been so mad at him none of this would have happened. Groaning she turned off the shower and dried herself. She headed for her bedroom. Glancing at the clock she noticed how late it was. There was nothing else she could do now. She would try and get a good night's sleep and figure it out in the morning.
The next morning Gillian entered the Lightman group building filled with apprehension. Determined to talk to Cal she marched purposefully towards his office but chickened out at the last second, running back to her office and closing the door. She hid there most of the day berating herself for her cowardice. She was just shutting down her computer figuring it was probably safe to slink off home when Cal burst into the room. She physically startled.
"Don't you knock!" she demanded
Cal just grinned. He walked to her desk and placed some papers down in front of her.
"Sign these." He said
Gillian looked puzzled. She picked up the papers and began to read them.
"I'll save you the trouble luv. I am here by signing control of the Lightman group over to my wife."
She couldn't tell if he was serious or not about any of it and she wasn't sure which bothered her the most, his willingness to sign his company over or the fact he'd referred to her as his wife. A myriad of emotions crossed Gillian's face, some she couldn't even name but the most predominant one was shame. She was embarrassed by the fact she couldn't remember.
She stood "About that..." she began
Cal grinned "Yeah?"
Gillian looked sheepish. "I don't remember what happened."
Cal briefly flashed hurt but it covered it by roaring with laughter. Gillian glared at him. He walked around her desk invading her space and backing her into the corner. "What do you want to know?" he asked enjoying her obvious discomfort.
'Damn him' Gillian thought. Out loud she said "You're going to make me ask, aren't you?"
Unable to meet his eye Gillian studied the floor and asked "Did we get married?"
For a full minute Cal remained silent as Gillian squirmed. Eventually he forced her to meet his gaze.
"Does this ring any bells?" he asked moving closer, his face centimetres from hers. "You may kiss the bride." And he softly touched his lips to hers.
The smell of his aftershave combined with the brush of his lips triggered something in her brain. Thoughts and feelings came rushing over her as she recalled the events of that night. She leant heavily against the window.
"Oh god." There was a hazy recollection of the two of them standing in front of a guy dressed as Elvis. There was confetti and cheering and then she remembered walking up semi naked in bed. Oh crap. How the hell was she going to ask this one?
Still staring firmly at the ground hoping he wouldn't notice the flush on her face she asked
"Did we...oh...did we have sex?"
Cal laughed again "Was it that bad!"
Gillian's eyes widened
"Don't worry your virtue is still intact and for the record if we had you would remember."
After a few seconds of panic the sensible, practical Gillian took over.
"Ok well we'll just have to get divorced."
"On what grounds?" Cal was smirking and she wanted to wipe it from his face. "You can't sight unreasonable behaviour because after everything I did you still married me. There can't be an irretrievable breakdown because we still work together."
Gillian gave an exasperated sigh. "Why are you trying to make this difficult?"
"I'm not. I just don't see any reason to get divorced."
Gillian's eyes widened "You don't see...I...urgh...You are unbelievable!"
Cal became serious. "Look I did this so legally you would control the company. If we get divorced you'll get half my share. Either way you'd end up the same so let's save some time and money. See it as a business deal."
Gillian stared at him unable to comprehend he could be so blasé about marriage. She pushed past him, grabbed her bag and headed for the door before Cal could register the hurt.
"I'll talk to you when you start making sense." She said over her shoulder as she left the room.
Arriving home Gillian threw her keys onto the table. She stomped into the kitchen and began to prepare dinner. Banging the pots and slamming the crockery, she gave up when she broke a plate, and poured herself a large glass of wine. So much for never drinking again! She took a few sips and glared into the glass wishing it was something stronger. Unfortunately she didn't have anything. The only time she drank scotch was with Cal and that wasn't an option tonight. Maybe it would never be an option again. Oh god! This was such a mess. She was so angry, she could never see herself spending time alone with him again. The problem was she didn't know who she was more cross with. She was upset with herself for letting this happen but she was furious with him for treating it like a game. Why couldn't he see that this was serious? They had made a stupid decision and now they would have to deal with the consequences like it or not. And there was the problem. She did like it. Every time she thought about it, the more she liked the idea of being married to him. If she was truly honest the reason she was so upset was not the fact they had done this, but the way they had done it.
Back in his office Cal was brooding into a glass of scotch. He didn't understand why Gillian was so upset. They had made a deal and he was trying to uphold his end. As far as he was concerned she thought of this as a business deal. She had agreed to marry him to help control him and save their business. He took a large swallow of the liquid and felt it burn his throat, unfortunately it didn't remove the lump there. At the time it had seemed like a brilliant idea, but that was Vegas. Back home however it was going to be difficult to live with. Truth be told the idea of being married to her thrilled him and it was getting harder to hide.
A restless night and a hangover each made for a very grumpy Cal and Gillian the following day. Gillian tried to stay out of everyone's way but Cal was hell bent on taking his bad mood out on everyone around him. The mood they were both in Gillian figured it would be best to stay away from him. It was all going according to plan until she was just getting ready to go home for the day. Packing her things away she was wondering if she could sneak out without him noticing when he came barging into her office.
"Going somewhere Luv?" he asked
"I'm tired. I'm going home." She replied.
"What about these?" he said waving papers in her face. "You still haven't signed them."
Gillian stared at him and could see he wasn't going to give up. She pushed past him, heading for the exit, hoping her face hadn't betrayed her. She made it out of her office door but his voice stopped her.
"Don't you think we should talk about it?"
Gillian was stunned. Had Cal Lightman actually just said he wanted to talk?
Cal followed her into the hallway looking slightly amused at the expression on her face.
"Do you want to do this here or can we go to my office where it's more comfortable?" he asked.
Inside Cal's office he closed the door even though they were the only ones left in the building. He gestured to the sofa and they sat down.
"Why don't you want to sign the papers?" he asked. "You were all for it in Vegas."
Gillian wrinkled her nose. "That was Vegas."
"So what's changed?"
Gillian shrugged so Cal continued. "Look I screwed up but I'm trying to make amends. I don't want to flush our business down the toilet so I'm trying to give you what you deserve, complete control."
"I don't want to control you Cal."
"What do you want?"
"I want you to take this seriously. I don't want to be in this mess." She sighed. "I don't want to go through a divorce again."
Gillian spoke slowly as though she were explaining to a child. "The only reason to be married to someone is love and if you can't see that then Vegas has affected you more than I thought."
"So you don't love me?" the tone of his question implied clarification but his eyes gave him away.
"More than you know." She hadn't meant to say it out loud but somehow it had just slipped out.
Cal opened his mouth but for one of the few times in his life he was speechless. They stared at each other in disbelief until Gillian spoke.
"I know you don't think this marriage is a big deal but I do. I can't treat this as a game especially not with you."
Cal stepped closer. "I don't think this is a game. Being married to you...I meant what I said, I trust you with my life...if you'll have me?"
They watched each other for a moment. His eyes bored into hers as though he was trying to burn himself into her soul. He reached out and brushed her cheek with his thumb. His hand threaded into her hair and he moved her head to his. Their lips met in a tender and meaningful kiss.
"Do I take that as a yes then?" he asked
Gillian smiled and nodded. "Yes."
Cal's genuine grin threatened to split his face in two. "Can I kiss you again?"
Gillian smiled shyly. "I don' think a husband has to ask permission to kiss his wife."
Cal's smile widened further. "Well that is bloody fantastic. What other rights do I have?" he asked wiggling his eyebrows at her.
Suddenly Gillian became serious. "Are we crazy?"
He took her hands in his. "Totally...but that's why this will work. I'm the freak show and you're the shrink, remember. It's perfect. We balance each other out. Besides there's one very important rule for marriage."
Gillian looked suspicious. "What's that?" she asked waiting for the joke.
"Love. I'm in love with you Gillian."
Momentarily taken aback by his declaration she tried to collect her thoughts. Seeing his face full of unguarded emotion, full of love, for her made all of her doubts and fears melt.
"And I'm in love with you." She replied.
Cal took her left hand and kissed the finger where a wedding band should be. Their lips met again but this time the kiss was filled with desire.
"How about I take you home and show you your other rights?" Gillian asked, her eyes black.
Cal grinned again. "Oh I'd LOVE that...but don't we have things to sort out? Like..."
He was silenced with a blistering kiss.
"Later." She said.
Cal didn't need telling twice. He slipped his hand into hers pulling her to her feet.
"Lead the way...Mrs Lightman."