… … …
They were trying not to be suspiciously quiet. They were doing their best to smile naturally, and make small talk as normal. But there was no ignoring the sense that something big was about to happen. They both knew that they were going to have to talk properly about what had happened. And they were both simultaneously dreading it and secretly looking forward to it.
They had hoped to get into their offices without encountering any of the staff, but as they approached the reception desk, Loker appeared from the break room, and seemed to instantly know that something was wrong. The Lightman Group really wasn't the best place to work when you had a secret.
"Whoa, what's going on?" Loker asked, studying them both carefully, looking them up and down.
Cal made perhaps the worst move he could possibly have made, automatically slipping his left hand behind his back. But it was too late.
"Did you get married?" Loker asked, eyes wide.
Cal wasn't willing to get into this. "Yeah, Loker, we went out on our lunch break and got married," he replied as he continued walking towards his office.
"You've been gone a lot longer than a lunch break." Loker followed.
Gillian took a breath to speak but Cal beat her to it. "This isn't Vegas, Loker. You can't just pop out and get wed. Now haven't you got some work to do?"
Loker stopped at Cal's pointed tone. He was well trained enough to know when not to push any further.
"Cal - " Gillian began to reprimand him, but he shushed her until he had led her into his office, and away from Loker's prying eyes and ears.
"You know Loker is going to think we're married now. You could have just told him the truth."
"He doesn't really think we're married. When he considers the logistics of it, he'll come to his senses," Cal shrugged, heading for his desk.
"Cal, logistically, we could have been planning a secret wedding for months!"
Cal stopped in front of his desk and turned round. "You'd need a really overactive imagination to come up with that," he remarked, but Gillian could see the nigglings of doubt in his eyes.
"Have you met Loker? This'll come back to bite you… Sometimes you've just got to answer his questions directly, Cal."
"His prying annoys me… Besides I didn't want him to…" He trailed off, but she knew what he meant. By leading Loker down the 'marriage' path, he had kept him from noticing what was really going on. That was something to be grateful for, she supposed.
She nodded slowly while trying to think of something to say. She hadn't intended for them to end up in the same office so soon. She wasn't prepared for the conversation that needed to follow.
An exclamation of, "You two are married?" announced Emily's entrance to the room, and saved them from the descending awkwardness. Though they couldn't help but feel that it wasn't going to be a particularly pleasant distraction.
Though blushing, Gillian shot Cal an 'I told you so' look and Cal narrowed his eyes at her before responding to a very impatient, very irate looking Emily.
"Em, do you really think that Gillian and I would get married -"
"Yes!" Emily interjected.
Both Cal and Gillian were taken aback by her enthusiasm, frowning at her, and avoiding looking at each other.
"I hadn't finished the question," Cal told her.
"Oh," she muttered sheepishly. "Continue."
"Do you think we'd get married without telling you?"
He watched the anger fall from her features. "Well… No."
"Okay then. So where did you hear such nonsense?" As if he didn't already know.
Cal could see, from the corner of his eye, that Gillian was offering another pointed look. He ignored it. "Well you shouldn't believe everything Loker says."
"I thought he practised 'radical honesty'?"
"Yeah, well, just because Loker believes something is true, doesn't mean it is."
"Why does he think you're - . You're wearing a wedding ring!" she exclaimed accusingly.
Cal quickly removed the item from his finger. "For a case, love."
"We were pretending to be married," Gillian added.
Emily looked from Cal to Gillian and back again, before backing down a little. "Okay… Didn't you tell Loker that?" she frowned.
Cal and Gillian glanced at each other. Gillian's expression, as Cal had expected, was the same one he had been receiving since Emily came in. Cal rolled his eyes and looked back to his daughter.
"Where would be the fun in that?" He couldn't help but smirk.
Emily laughed and nodded. "Yeah, I see… Well, I'm glad you're not married."
Cal felt an unexpected wave of disappointment but Emily continued, not giving him time to process it.
"I mean, I want to be there for that."
Cal was sure his heart stopped. Had she really said what he had heard?
He risked a look at Gillian, who had turned the other way and was looking anywhere but at him or Emily.
When he returned his eyes to Emily she was frowning deeply. "There's something else," she accused, her voice slow, and her brow furrowed in concentrated observation. "You're not married?" she checked.
"No, we're not married." Cal was starting to wish he had set Loker straight. Evidently Gillian had told him so.
"Then what's going on?" She glanced at Gillian who was now enthralled in studying her shoes.
Sensing Emily's suspicion of her actions, Gillian looked up, and stepped towards the door with a quickly spoken, "I should leave you to -" But she was cut off.
"No!" Cal and Emily had reacted simultaneously.
Emily glanced, curiously, at Cal and then returned her attention to Gillian. "I think you two owe me an explanation. I've only been here five minutes and things are weirder than usual."
Gillian slowly turned round avoiding meeting Cal's gaze.
"There's not much to explain," Gillian lied. "We were on a case."
Emily didn't buy it. She dropped onto a sofa and looked up at them. "Start at the beginning."
… … …
Cal arrived at work at 7.13 that morning, having woken up early and been unable to fall back into slumber…
… … …
"Okay, not the very beginning," Emily rolled her eyes. "Start at the part where you decided you had to pretend to be married."
Cal sat down on a chair nearby and informed Emily, "Okay, well that was Gillian's idea."
"It was not!" Gillian protested, one hand on her hip as the other lightly slapped Cal's shoulder.
"Well it wasn't my idea!" Cal argued.
"Yes it was! You were the one who said…"
… … …
"Well that's easy. We'll just go check out the house. See if he takes a shining to you and then we'll know."
That sounded a lot like they were going to use her as bait, and Gillian frowned. Not because she didn't want to do it, but because she wasn't convinced it would work. "Are you sure that's a good idea?"
"You'll be perfectly safe, love. I'll be with you."
"Cal, so far he's only targeted married women. He doesn't go after the single ones," she reminded him.
"I'll be with you. We'll just make sure he thinks we're married."
Gillian wasn't sure Cal knew what he was saying. "You want us to pretend we're married?"
"Why not?" he shrugged. "Worried you'll enjoy it too much?" Cal grinned, waggling his eyebrows.
… … …
"Too much information!" Emily exclaimed, and Cal laughed.
"I just wanted to make it clear whose idea it was, and who was particularly enthusiastic about it," Gillian said, her pointed tone directed at Cal.
"You know I love role play," Cal responded.
"Eww!" Emily complained. "Just get back to the story. So you went to this house. What's that about by the way?"
"Oh now you wish we'd started at the beginning," Cal pointed out.
"I just need some backstory, I didn't need to know what time you got up… So… the house?"
Gillian sat down beside Emily as Cal explained their case.
"There's a house for sale - I'm not telling you where because you and your friends will go and nosey at it. In the last three weeks, four women who have been to view the house have reported being followed, and receiving death threats. The local police think that the owner might have something to do with it, though they've been unable to figure out why it's only the married women that have been targeted. The house has also been viewed by three single women, and they've been left alone."
"So you went in to…"
"To bait him. And to see if we could pick up on anything while we were there."
"Did you find anything?"
"Well, he definitely took a liking to Gillian."
… … …
Cal watched Mr Roberts closely. The way his pupils dilated when he looked at Gillian, and the way his tongue would snake out to moisten his lips whenever she glanced away. The way his eyes stayed on her at all times and never so much as glanced at Cal. He was definitely creepy. Whether it was anything more sinister than that remained to be seen.
So far he had shown them the foyer, and the kitchen and they were making their way through to the living room. It was certainly a nice house; spacious and light. All the walls were painted a slightly off white, and the furniture was simple, but looked expensive. All the floors were wooden, and recently polished. And, as Cal looked at her, taking in the atmosphere as if she was really looking for a house, he mused that he couldn't imagine Gillian living in a place like this. Gillian was better suited to cosy.
"Oh, darling, look at this," Cal enthused, taking hold of Gillian's hand and pulling her to one side, ostensibly to look at a view of the garden through a nearby window.
He rested his arm across her shoulders as they looked out at the rolling terrace, leading away from the house, towards a large pond.
… … …
"You realise I can probably find this house quite easily with all the information you're giving me," Emily pointed out.
Cal looked at her, wondering if she did intend to do that. "Okay, that's enough detail for you."
… … …
He rested his arm across Gillian's shoulders as they looked outside.
"Anything?" she asked him, quietly.
"He's definitely attracted to you. But I'm not seeing any signs that he wants to kill you."
"Me neither. But then the others didn't sense anything untoward when they were here."
"Yeah, but we're more observant than them, love…" Cal kept his arm on Gillian's shoulders and turned her round, commenting, "That is an amazing view." They walked towards Roberts. "I'm surprised you haven't doubled the price just for that."
Roberts laughed - a light chuckle. "I have a gardener who comes in three times a week. I'm sure he'd be happy to stay on if you wanted him."
Cal nodded and smiled at Gillian. "Would you want that, love? I know you love to get your hands dirty."
… … …
Gillian hid a smile.
"He had to believe we're married," Cal defended himself.
"I don't even want to know if that's how you used to talk to Mom." Emily shook her head.
"Do you want me to carry on, or are you too traumatised?" Cal offered.
"I'd like Gillian to carry on," she quickly replied.
Not expecting that, Gillian was a little surprised. "Oh, all right. Where were we?"
"I was asking if you - "
Cal laughed and Gillian smiled at him before continuing.
… … …
"Oh I think a gardener is a good idea, honey. I couldn't possibly keep that garden looking that beautiful," Gillian replied sweetly.
Cal brushed the fingers of his free hand across her cheek. "Oh don't be so modest. Your beauty is reflected in everything you do…
"… And she's very good with her hands!"
… … …
"Dad! Let Gillian tell it. I don't need to know the sordid details!"
"Wish you'd never started this?" Cal goaded her.
"Just skip to the part that's made you be all weird."
Cal and Gillian's eyes caught each other's. They had been so caught up in retelling the story - and winding up Emily - that they had temporarily forgotten about that.
"There is no part that made us 'be all weird'," Cal told Emily.
She cocked her head and raised her eyebrows in a gesture that clearly said, "Like I believe that!"
"Don't you want to know how we caught the bad guy?" Gillian asked her, and Cal frowned at her poor attempt at redirection. She just shrugged at him, and her eyes told him to try and do better.
"Why won't you tell me what's going on?" Emily asked quietly.
Cal regarded her for a few seconds, deciding if they could actually tell her. But it wasn't something they had even discussed with each other yet. That conversation definitely needed to take place first.
"Okay," he said in response to Emily's question, and, beside her, Gillian's eyes widened.
… … …
Roberts showed them round the rest of the house. The wide, sweeping staircase led to an array of three bedrooms, and three en suite bathrooms, and the balcony in the master bedroom looked out over the same large garden as the living room windows.
Throughout the tour, Roberts eyes were fixed on Gillian. He let her step through doorways ahead of him, and would walk at an angle so he could talk to her even as he showed them through to the next room.
Cal took hold of Gillian's hand as they moved from the master bedroom and towards one of the guest rooms.
… … …
"Aww, so protective," Emily interrupted.
Cal glanced at Gillian, who was suppressing a smile, and then glared at Emily. "A potential psychopath, Em. Of course I was protective."
He quickly got back to the tale.
… … …
He gently pulled her towards him, placing his arm around her waist when she was within reach.
"Gorgeous isn't it, darlin'?" he whispered into her ear.
"I love it," Gillian replied.
Cal thought he saw a flicker of jealousy cross Roberts' face: The first hint of jealousy towards Cal since they arrived, which was odd considering how attracted he was to Gillian.
They looked round the two bedrooms, hand in hand, whispering and giggling whenever there was an opportunity. Roberts could be in no doubt that they were very happily married.
Tour over, Roberts led them back downstairs and the three of them sat in the living room and talked for a few minutes, before Cal said they needed to leave, and Roberts showed them out.
As they walked down the path something caught Gillian's eye. She turned to her left, but couldn't see anything out of the ordinary.
"All right, love?" Cal asked her.
She looked at him. "Yeah. Thought I saw someone."
Further down the path she turned again, and this time they both saw that she had in fact seen a person. A blonde woman ducked behind a tree and then made a run across the lawn towards the road at the side.
They took off in pursuit of her, Cal ahead of Gillian, difficult as it was to run in heels. Luckily, their suspect was also wearing heels - she obviously hadn't planned on being spotted. She went over on her right ankle, and landed awkwardly on the pavement, and Cal and Gillian came to a stop beside her.
"Mrs Roberts, I presume?" Cal greeted her.
… … …
"She was his wife?" Emily questioned.
Cal nodded. "Well, ex wife."
"How did you know that?"
"Saw a picture in the dining room. Only one in the house though so I knew they were divorced."
"And was she the one sending the death threats?"
"Seems she didn't want anyone living the dream housewife life that she had led."
Emily frowned. "Some people are strange."
Cal laughed. "That's true, love… So there you go."
Cal stood up and started for his desk, and Gillian looked from him to Emily to see if the young woman was going to fall for that.
He had achieved a few steps when she said, "Wait!... Which part of that has made you act all weird with each other?"
Gillian looked to Cal to see how he would respond. Clearly Emily didn't intend to let it drop.
"We're not acting weird, love."
"You keep looking at each other… And not looking at each other. You missed something out in your story," she accused, and Gillian could see Cal's mind frantically working for a believable reply.
Gillian found one first. "It's all right, Cal…"
Emily adjusted in her seat to face Gillian, expectation written all over her face.
Cal imagined his expression resembled Gillian's when he had implied that he was about to tell Emily the truth. "Gill, we don't -"
"It's okay," she assured him, then she faced Emily. "Em, I just didn't feel very comfortable with what we were doing. Pretending to be married, and having to be so close to your Dad, and everything. It just… It made me feel a little… weird."
Emily frowned but seemed to believe Gillian's explanation. Cal didn't like that they were having to lie to Emily, although he did consider that it wasn't a complete lie. It just wasn't the whole truth either.
Emily nodded, as if settling it all in her head and then she joked, "Well I'm not surprised you were uncomfortable with the things he was saying to you."
Gillian laughed, but Cal noted that it didn't reach her eyes. Perhaps there was more truth to what she had said than he thought.
"Emily, I need to talk to Gillian," Cal said, stepping forward. They needed to have their conversation. "Would you mind giving us a minute?"
For a second Emily looked like she might argue but then she must have noticed the determination in Cal's eyes because she backed down. "Sure… I'll go tell Loker that you're definitely not married."
She stood up, offered a quick smile to Gillian and left the room.
The sense of awkwardness started to descend again once they were alone, so Cal gave a nervous laugh to try to lighten things up. "I actually thought you were going to tell her."
Gillian's lips curved into a gentle smile. "Well I actually thought you were going to tell her earlier."
"She won't be impressed when she finds out that we didn't tell her at all," Cal cringed.
"Is she going to find out?"
On the surface that was a simple question, but Cal knew she meant so much more. She looked anxious, but hopeful, as she stared at him across the short distance between them.
"Do you think we should tell her?" he asked; his question as weighted as hers was.
She was silent as she considered her reply and Cal wished he had learned to read thoughts rather than microexpressions.
After several long seconds, Gillian quietly asked, "What would you tell her… happened?"
… … …
"Do you have any questions about the house?" Roberts directed his question to Gillian, as he led them back into the living room after the tour. He indicated for them to sit down on one of his sofas.
Gillian glanced at Cal to see if he wanted to stay or if he had seen enough. He nodded towards the seat.
"I do have a couple of questions," Gillian replied with a smile, and she sat down.
Cal joined her on the sofa, sitting to her right, his thigh up against hers he was so close. He draped his left arm across her shoulders and snuggled her into him. "It's a remarkable place," he commented to Roberts then he looked down at Gillian. "I think we'd be very happy here, darlin'. What do you think?"
He was grinning at her, and Gillian smiled back. "I think so too."
"I can imagine sitting on the terrace at sunset, sipping champagne…"
Gillian could see that Cal kept glancing to the side, watching Roberts' reaction to all this.
"Oh yeah?" she responded, pretending to be lost in his eyes and unaware of where they were or who else was there. "And what would we be celebrating?" she queried, softly.
"You," he replied.
She blushed. "Me?"
"You," he repeated, then he leaned forward and he kissed her.
… … …
"I'd tell her I kissed you."
"And if she asked why?"
"There are two possible answers to that," he replied, sitting down opposite her.
"You kissed me because we were pretending to be hopelessly in love?"
"Or…" He couldn't believe he was about to admit this; he certainly hadn't seen this coming when he had arrived at work at 7.13 that morning. "I kissed you because I wanted to."
Gillian tried to suppress her smile. "And which one would be the truth?"
"Which one do you want to be the truth?"
"We don't get to choose what's true, Cal," she quipped.
Cal smiled. "No… But we get to choose what we admit to."
"You would lie?"
He nodded once. "For you."
Her breath actually caught at that. "I wouldn't ask you to do that."
"I know… But it's the thought that counts, right?"
Gillian smiled widely, and shyly dropped her eyes from his. Cal watched her for a moment, remembering how right it had felt to kiss her; how perfect it had felt to have her in his arms.
He slipped from his chair and sat down beside her, and she looked up at him, her gaze questioning his motives. He tentatively lifted his arm, and settled it across her shoulders, and behind her surprise he saw excitement.
"I kissed you," he whispered, "Because I wanted to."
"I see," she whispered back.
"And I think that Emily needs to know that that is how I feel… Because… I'd really like to kiss you again."
"Well, let's hope we have to go undercover again," she smirked.
"Are you trying to get me into bed, Doctor Foster?" Cal feigned shock.
"First things first, Doctor Lightman" she whispered, and then she leaned forward and kissed him.