"I know you've started the book."
Cal looked up to find Gillian standing in his office with her arms crossed over her chest.
"That thing you do? Where you sneak up on me?" Cal wagged a finger at her. "Don't do that. And how do you do that in those shoes? How is it I don't hear you coming a mile away like Leadfoot Loker?"
"You haven't asked for my input at all," Gillian continued. "Are we not partners?"
"In The Lightman Group? Yes. In the book?" Cal gave her his trademark smart ass grin. "That I'm in up to my arse all alone in, love."
"Financially it affects us both," she pointed out politely. "If you don't fulfill your agreement with the publisher..."
Cal rose, gesturing around him. "All hell and damnation rains down on us? Fire and brimstone?"
"I'm pretty sure the fire suppression systems in this office could handle brimstone," Gillian snarked. "It's attorneys armed with lawsuits that I'm worried about."
"Not to worry, I'm on it." Cal came around his desk and patted her on the arm. "Just after..."
"Oh, no." Gillian stopped him, giving him one of her knowing looks. "We've got no urgent cases right now, no need for you to conveniently duck out into the field and disappear for the rest of the day. You should be writing."
Cal's cell phone went off and he picked it up despite Gillian's warning look not to.
"Lightman! What's that, Wallowski? A new case? Well, I'll be right there." He snapped the phone shut and shoved it into his jeans pocket. "Saved by the bell," he muttered before brightening and raising his voice to normal levels to Gillian. "New case! Got to go!"
He headed out into the hallway only to spy Ria and Eli arguing in the hallway in front of him and hearing Gillian following behind him.
"Are you really going to play the boss card?" Ria was saying.
"Do you really think the poor me routine will work on anyone who works here?" Eli countered.
"Now, now, kiddies," Cal joshed, wagging a finger at them. "No fighting in the hallways."
"Who's fighting?" Ria said as both of them looked confused. "We were just arguing over whose turn it is to go get coffee."
"Weren't you supposed to be enhancing the video from the security cameras?" Cal gave Eli an expectant look.
"It's processing." As Cal continued to stare Eli rolled his eyes. "I guess I'll go check on its progress then." Cal started walking again as Eli headed back to his desk, only to now have both Ria and Gillian in tow.
"Are we going to do my performance review this week?" Ria asked. "Because you said we'd do it last week. And the week before."
"I said that? Well then, this week for sure then." Cal gave her a plucky thumbs up only to see her face fall.
"Great, that means two more weeks," she grumbled, shuffling away.
The door was around the corner and he could hear Gillian draw a breath to speak behind him.
"Em!" Cal stopped short when he saw his daughter sitting in the waiting area. "What are you doing here? Why aren't you at school?"
"Short day, don't you remember?" Emily said, rising. "Some teacher enrichment stuff. You said you'd take me to the Natural History Museum for my research project."
"That was today?" Cal grimaced. "As in right now?"
"The exhibit's only open until 6 so if I want to get everything done in one visit," Emily cocked her head to the side, "then yeah. Now."
"It's just... Now's bad, love. I've got a new case... And besides, why do a report on Natural History? Natural History's dead boring!"
"Oh, I don't know, because I can't pass my Biology class without it?" Emily let out a huff, stuffing her hands in the back pockets of her jeans. "Are we going or not?"
"Dr. Lightman?" One of the new interns approached. "Eli says the video footage is done rendering and you're going to want to see it."
"Bloody hell," Cal muttered, heading back down the hall. "I'm never getting out of this place."
Behind him he could hear Gillian and Emily talking.
"What's his damage?"
"I asked him about the book."
"Oh, so now he's bolting rather than talk about it?"
"But why can't he bolt with me to the museum?" Emily whined.
"Because now he knows I could find him there."
Cal burst through the doors, waving at the screens in front of Eli.
"Show me the money!" He chuckled. "I always wanted to say that."
"It may not be money," Eli told him, "but will you take unmitigated greed."
"On Swanson's face? We figured he was in on it."
"Not Swanson," Eli corrected, pointing to the screen. "Swanson's wife."
Cal leaned over the screens and paused one of them. "Will you look at that. Oh yes, she not only knew what was going down she was all ready for her share of it." He straightened up. "I want her, in the cube, tomorrow. Have them bring her in."
He headed back out only to have Eli follow.
"Tomorrow? She could be boarding a plane for Tahiti tonight with all the money!"
"Tahiti has an extradition treaty with the U.S.," Cal countered, not slowing his stride. "But if it makes you feel any better tell the cops to put her on a no fly list until we can work her over and get them a confession."
The door was in sight, but both Emily and Gillian were blocking his path.
"We need to talk about the book," Gillian said firmly.
"He's not working on the book?" Eli asked.
"A little," Emily answered before all eyes turned on her in surprise. "What? It's not like he's going to work on it here with all you guys getting on his case over it."
"Thank you!" Cal grabbed his daughter about the neck and tugged her in for a quick kiss to her hair. "Just for that I'll drop you off at the museum before I head out to my case with Wallowski."
He led Emily towards the door, freedom in sight, and listened to Gillian and Eli behind him.
"There's a new case?"
"Probably not. For all I know it was a personal call."
"A midday booty call? Lightman?"
"Oi! I heard that!" Cal turned around and wagged a finger at Eli.
"Dad, let's just go." Emily tugged on his arm.
"When I last looked it was still my name on the wall, wasn't it?" His indignancy was interrupted by the sight of the door opening as another intern came in. "Got to go!" He stepped up his pace to grab the door before it closed, holding it open for Emily to go out first. "You know when this place is empty I can make it out the door from my office in a minute flat - zero to sixty and I'm out of here!"
"But it takes a lot longer when you're ducking your obligations?" Emily offered, her smirk a mirror of her mother's.
"Something tells me you're learning the wrong kind of lesson today," Cal muttered.
"Then come with me to the museum." She poked her father affectionately. "You know that now that Gillian knows it's where you're supposed to be? It's the last place she'll look for you."
Cal gazed at her, shaking his head.
"How did you get so smart?"
Emily just beamed coyly, looking quite pleased with herself.
"I learned by watching the best!"