… … …
Cal was focused on the defective Blackberry in his hand as he and Emily walked into The Lightman Group offices. She was grumbling something about him not letting her go out to dinner with Rick, and he responded with the same answer he had given her sixteen times during the drive over there.
"As soon as I get this damn thing working, we are going out for a father-daughter dinner as planned."
He bashed it against his other hand again, but it seemed to make no difference.
Suddenly Emily stopped walking and giggled before asking, "Whoa! What did you do to Gillian?"
Utterly confused, Cal tore his eyes away from his phone and looked first at Emily and then at whatever held her attention in front of them.
"I think it has a nice ring to it," Emily remarked as Cal felt his anger bubbling.
"Stay there!" he instructed her, starting for Gillian's office.
"What? Dad -"
"I said, stay there!" he repeated and he knew she would obey him that time.
Tension swept through his body as he walked: How dare she!
Before he reached his destination, he passed Anna who, despite looking surprised and terrified, handed him a piece of paper.
"Oh, er, Doctor Foster asked me to give you this next time I saw you," she told him, hurriedly, and then she continued on her way.
Cal glanced at the paper, seeing a pie chart showing two distinct halves: one labelled 'mine'; the other, 'yours'.
With a huff he resumed his course and barged into her office.
"'The Lightman and Foster Group'?" he demanded the instant he was across the threshold.
"I wasn't expecting you until tomorrow," she commented, no hint of guilt or apology, just a fact.
"Would it have been a permanent sign by then?" He stopped behind her desk, looming over her, his expression demanding an explanation.
She turned her chair round and looked up at him - infuriatingly calm. She didn't speak.
"What the hell are you playing at? You've put the staff in the middle of this. Anna looked positively terrified -"
"I haven't put anyone anywhere," she told him, and she looked like she believed it, "You created this."
"So, what? You're proving a 'point'? His flippant pronunciation of 'point' told her what he thought of it.
She stood up from her seat, deliberately slowly; a hard twinkle in her eyes that Cal had never seen before. It unnerved him. The height of her heels brought her head slightly above his when she was standing straight, and he didn't like that he had to look up at her.
"I'm delivering some home truths, Cal. This company is half mine. I never cared about my name being on the sign and I still don't. But you need to remember that I'm your partner. You can't afford to buy me out. So you can ignore my warnings about our finances; you can threaten to end this as often as you like: Good luck carrying through with your threat."
It was the smug, almost evil, glint Cal could see in Gillian's eyes that stopped him from arguing. He had never seen her like this.
She stepped to her left and then walked past him, leaving the room.
It annoyed him that he couldn't think of a clever response, but - if he was brutally honest with himself - he knew he deserved what had just happened.
He turned and followed her out of the office, angry still but whether it was at her or himself he wasn't willing to think about.
He caught up with her just as she reached Emily.
"Hi Gillian," Emily greeted with a happy smile and Cal did feel a stirring of guilt. "I like the new sign."
Gillian was as pleasant with Emily as she always was and Cal's guilt tripled as he watched her fake a laugh.
She moved to the company sign and pulled the piece of card - on which was written '& Foster' - off the wall. "I've made my point," she told Emily.
The smile she had offered for his daughter's benefit fell to a look of pointed anger and disappointment when her eyes met Cal's. Their gazes held for a moment and then she looked away.
"See you later, Em," she said, softly patting Emily's arm as she passed her.
She walked past Cal without giving him a second glance. With a feeling he recognised as fear churning his insides, he turned and watched her walk away.
"She is seriously pissed at you," Emily observed, coming to stand beside him.
"Oi!" He reprimanded her language rather than confront the truth of her statement.
"Well, she is," Emily defended herself.
Still staring at what was now an empty corridor, Cal nodded once and whispered, "She has every right to be, love."