... ... ...
It was a Thursday afternoon, at about four thirteen, when Gillian Foster decided that enough was enough and she was going to find out what was going on.
She was sitting in her office, at her desk, updating a case file on her computer. However, none of that was intriguing. The mystery came from the fact that her business partner, and friend, Cal Lightman, was sitting opposite her, watching her. And it wasn't the first time.
Of course, in the past there had been occasions where Cal would be in her office while she worked. But he would usually wander around, pick items off her bookcase, talk at her… But recently - throughout the last month, to be more precise - he would just sit, and watch her.
She could feel his eyes on her now, as she had each time. She could sense his expression. He was studying her, closely. She had been trying to teach herself a lesson in not caring what Cal was doing, but she had run out of patience with that. She needed to know.
"I'm not going to fall apart," she told him, quietly, keeping her eyes on her screen, and her fingers continuing to sweep over the keyboard.
"Sorry, love?" He appeared distracted.
"You seem to be waiting for me to fall apart," she clarified, still not looking at him.
"Do I? No. That's not what I'm doing."
She had expected that response. She schooled the smile that had begun to form on her lips, and stopped typing. Turning slowly to face him, she, innocently, asked him, "Oh. Then what are you doing?"
Her eyes met his, and he held their gaze as he slowly shook his head. "Sneaky."
She allowed the smile to surface. "I learned from the best… What's going on?"
"You're very suspicious, you know that?" he quipped.
"And you're deflecting," she countered. "What's going on?"
This time, as his gaze held hers, she watched him decide what to tell her. And gone was the sparkle of mischief his eyes had held when he was trying to distract her. It brought to her attention the knot that had formed in her stomach.
"I was just thinking in your direction. That's all," he shrugged.
She didn't buy it. "You've been thinking in my direction a lot lately."
"Does it bother you? If it's a distraction I can look elsewhere," he offered, demonstrating such an action as he spoke.
Gillian leaned forward, resting her forearms on the desk. "Cal, if you genuinely didn't want me to keep pushing for this you'd have left by now… So stop stalling and tell me what's wrong."
He looked at her again, and her concern tripled at recognising pain in his eyes.
"Nothing's wrong, love."
She took a breath to respond but he had obviously realised that he was taking it too far now.
"Everything I'm thinking about is far from wrong…" he continued, "Well, most of it."
His flirtatious smirk and waggling of his eyebrows accompanied the last statement, which only served to confuse her further.
"I'm just trying to sort some things out in my head. Realign my thoughts, so to speak."
"Thoughts about me?" she queried.
"That's very presumptuous, love…"
She shot him a glare that told him in no uncertain terms that her patience was depleting.
"… But, yes," he added: Wisely.
"And why are they…" She couldn't believe she was about to continue his metaphor, but it seemed like the easiest thing to do given his strange mood. "… misaligned?"
He hesitated for a moment before answering, "Emily has ways of messing with my head."
For all he was talking, none of it was getting any clearer. "Emily?"
"Is she all right?"
"Oh, she's great."
She frowned at him, reminding him her patience had almost run out. "Cal..."
Suddenly he swept from his seat. "Do you want a drink? I could use a drink -"
"Cal..." she repeated and he stopped his retreat towards the door. He retraced his steps and fell back into his seat.
He fixed his eyes on hers and she watched him decide whether or not to continue. Her concern, and her intrigue, multiplied further.
"Emily asked me if I love you."
She knew surprise would have immediately shown on her face, but she did her best to remove it as soon as she could. "Why?"
She was surprised again when Cal laughed and she watched him with increased confusion.
"'Why?'" he echoed with a smile. "I have imagined this conversation so many times, love, and not once did it occur to me that you would ask that."
She smiled back at him, to hide the nervousness that was now raging inside her. Her stomach was churning, her heart was pounding. She had imagined a conversation similar to this one so many times, but it had never occurred to her that it would ever actually take place, or that he had been thinking about it as well.
"What did you think I would ask?"
His laughter had subsided, the enormity of the moment no doubt having settled on him too. "I thought you would ask what my answer was."
"Ah," she nodded, her heart fluttering with anticipation. "Which would you prefer to answer?" She couldn't decide which she wanted him to choose.
"Well, I don't know why she asked me."
When disappointment outweighed relief at his choice she knew which she had been hoping for. She was concentrating on not allowing her reaction to show when he continued.
"So... I suppose I'll tell you that my answer was yes."
She had just caught her breath when he added, "And she checked that it's love love."
That seemed to be the end of his reply, but Gillian could barely process all the feelings coursing through her head and her heart, let alone come up with the perfect response.
"So -" she began, but had no idea where it was going until she remembered what they had been talking about. "And that misaligned your thoughts?"
Cal smirked slightly, as if he had known she wouldn't respond directly to his admission. "Oh, no. She also asked me what I'm waiting for... And I couldn't answer that."
Her throat suddenly felt dry and she forced herself to swallow to moisturise it before she tried to speak.
"Right... So you've been trying to figure that out?"
Cal nodded. "But even after a month of thinking in your direction," he smiled, "I'm none the wiser."
She felt her breath tremble as she inhaled to respond. "Is she expecting an answer?"
He shook his head. "I think she's just expecting that you'll be there one morning when she comes down for breakfast... She says these things just to get me thinking."
"And what do you think?"
"I think... I wouldn't mind if you were there every day when she comes down for breakfast."
She couldn't help but smile at that, pleasure gradually overcoming her nerves. "I'd like to think we'll have told her about us before then though."
Cal grinned back at her. "We'll see." Then his expression displayed everything he had revealed about his feelings. "I love you, Gillian. If you know what we're waiting for, I'll gladly continue to wait. But, if not... Fancy dinner tonight?"
Gillian suspected that her stomach wouldn't be settled enough to eat any time soon, with the pure delight currently somersaulting in there. But she certainly liked the concept. "That's how you're asking me out on our first date?"
"Apparently. Is that a problem?"
She shook her head. "Not at all."
"Then, is that a yes?"
"That's a yes."
"Excellent. I'll pick you up at seven."
Gillian nodded her agreement and mirrored Cal's smile as he stood from his chair again.
"See you later, darling," he grinned before turning away. He stopped, though, after only one step towards the door. When he faced her, he was frowning. "What were we waiting for, love?"
Gillian was still smiling as she told him, confidently, "This."