DISCLAIMER: CSI New York and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement is intended. Eden Ashley is an original character. All mine.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To debrafitzakerley[at]yahoo.co.uk

Eden Ashley Chronicles
By EdenAshley


Part 16

It is now the Monday before the big wedding, which is due to take place this Saturday, the last week has flown by, and Ashley and Stella have realised just how hard it is to arrange a wedding on two weeks' notice. But they have managed it. Just about.

Ashley is now standing in the hustle bustle of terminal four, of JFK, the London flight has just touched down, she's actually really excited, the last time she saw her grandmother was just before she started working in New York, it's been almost a year. Of course they speak a lot over the phone, but it's not the same. She's clutching a bouquet of flowers, she knows her grandmother would never forgive her she wasn't waiting bearing gifts.

All of a sudden there's a break in the crowds and Ashley see's her, Audrey Harbridge in all her glory, she's in her 70's but isn't in the slightest bit frail, Ashley chuckles to herself as she sees the oversized hat her grandmother is wearing. She makes her way over, as soon as Audrey see's her Granddaughter her face lights up.

Ashley throws her arms around her grandmother, and Audrey readily reciprocates. She slowly pulls away and looks her granddaughter in the face, smiling, Ashley just smiles back. That is until her grandmother gives her a swift slap on the arm.

"It's been far too long Eden Alexa." Ashley cringes at the use of her middle name. She smiles and hands her the flowers.

"I know Grandma, I'm sorry. I've been extremely busy." Audrey accepts the flowers and takes in the scent. She grins at Eden's words.

"I believe so, when do I get to meet the lucky lady?"

"Just as soon as we grab your bags and get out of here." She puts her arm around her grandmother and kisses her on the head, as she steers her towards baggage claim.

"I've missed you."

"I've missed you too kiddo."

Stella is sitting in her office, looking at her computer screen. She has a million things to do but she can't seem to concentrate on anything. Other than the impending introduction she's about to have. She's never really 'met the parents' before so she had no idea how she would feel about it, but she certainly wasn't expecting to feel this nervous. She knows how protective Eden's grandmother is of her, and knows she will want to make sure her granddaughter is with the right woman.

She's dragged from her thoughts by Mac gently knocking on her door and letting himself in. Without saying a word he sits opposite Stella on the other side of the desk, and just beams at her. He can tell she's nervous and needs calming down. Stella is still slightly agitated, and not fully concentrating on the fact that Mac has just entered the room, she is however aware of his presence.

"Hey Mac, what can I do for you." She doesn't even look away from her screen.

Mac chuckles she must be nervous. "You know, I remember the first time I met Claire's parents."

This get's Stella's attention is it that obvious she's this nervous, Mac continues.

"I was so nervous; I just talked and talked and talked." He laughs as he recalls. Stella smiles. He shakes his head and comes out of the memory.

"Claire's father, took me to one side just before I left, he said he could tell instantly how much I loved his daughter. He shook my hand, and told me to look after her. And that was it."

He looks Stella in the eyes. "Stella, whenever you and Eden are in the same room together, its obvious how much you love her, and how much she loves you back. You have got nothing to be worried about."

He reaches over and grabs Stella's hand across the desk. She smiles at him grateful of the reassurance. Mac smirks.

"Now I don't mean to panic you but, the cause of all your anxiety has just turned up with your bride to be."

The smile instantly drops from Stella's face, and the nerves are immediately back in the pit of her stomach. Mac can't help but laugh.

"Stella, come on, I already told you, and you've got nothing to worry about."

"I wish I had your confidence." She swallows her throat strangely dry.

"Come on, they're waiting for us in the main lab." Mac grabs Stella's hand and pulls her to her feet and in the direction of her office door.

Ashley is in the main lab, with the whole team except Stella and Mac, she sits back and lets her grandmother take centre stage, she has introduced her to the whole team, but Audrey seems intent on speaking to Adam and Flack, this is of course because Eden talks about them all the time, she likes what she's heard about these boys. They look after her little girl, and from what she's heard they also know how to have a laugh.

"So Adam, do you have a little crush on my granddaughter?" Ashley just laughs and shakes her head, trust her grandmother.

Adam instantly starts to turn beet red, and can't seem to formulate a sentence, just lots of erm's and ah's. Definitely wasn't expecting that. Audrey smiles, and turns to Flack, who has been laughing a little too loudly at Adam's downfall.

"So detective Flack, do you have a girlfriend?"

Flack tears his eyes away from Adam, who seems quite relieved that the focus is off of him. He looks at Audrey, and smiles.

"No ma'am."

"You want one?" Audrey smirks.

Ashley immediately stops smiling, and her head whips up. "Grandma!" The level of disgust in Eden's voice makes Audrey and the rest of the team burst out laughing.

"Don't worry kiddo." She looks over at Flack, looking him up and down. "He wouldn't last five minutes; I'd eat him for breakfast."

Flack laughs, he likes this old lady, she's got balls.

Ashley tuts and shakes her head, but is satisfied that they all seem to get her grandmothers weird sense of human, and no one appears to think she's crazy.

Just then Mac strides into the lab, followed closely by a lot less confident looking Stella. Ashley can tell immediately that she's nervous, so gives her a reassuring smile. Stella instantly relaxes.

Mac wastes no time introducing himself to Audrey.

"You must be Mrs Harbridge. I'm Mac Taylor, pleased to meet you." He shakes Audrey's hand and smiles.

"Detective Taylor, please call me Audrey."

"Only if you call me Mac."

"Mac." She nods her head. "Ashley has told be so much about you." She looks past Mac at Stella, loitering in the background, looking apprehensive.

"But not as much as she's told me about you." She moves past Mac, so she's face to face with Stella, who smiles back at the old lady, now she knows where Eden got her beautiful warm eyes.

"Don't look so nervous my dear. I'm delighted to finally meet you." She holds her hand out to Stella, she grabs it shakes her hand and then holds it.

"The pleasure is all mine."

Audrey smiles, she knows in an instant that she has no reason to worry; everything Eden has told her about this woman is true. She wants to get to know her better. No time like the present.

"Right Stella, me and you have got lots to catch up on. I've got a million embarrassing stories to tell you about this one." She gestures over to Eden, who is currently feeling quite emotional, have just witnessed the interaction between, the two most important women in her life. She can't manage any words. Audrey continues.

"And about as many embarrassing baby photos." Stella looks at Eden and wiggles her eyebrows.

"That sounds interesting."

"Shall we go and grab a coffee."

Audrey immediately starts heading for the exit, not really giving Stella an option, not that she would have said no of course. Stella looks over at Eden, now it's her turn to wiggle her eyebrows.

"I guess I'll seeya later."

"Yep, enjoy yourself. And Grandma." She looks over to Audrey in the doorway. "Try not to embarrass me too much; I'm trying to marry this woman."

"I make no promises kiddo." She winks at Eden, and then follows Stella out towards the elevator.

Stella thanks the waitress as she places her coffee on the table. Audrey watches Stella as she gently blows the coffee, to make it cool enough to drink. She still looks nervous, Audrey can't really blame her.

"So Stella, let's get to know each other better." Stella looks up and smiles.

"Well I kinda feel like I already know you, Eden talks about you so much."

Audrey chuckles. "I could say the same about you." Time to get serious. "My Eden, she really is a very special girl."

Stella looks up, taken aback by the level of love in Audrey's words. "I know. You did a great job raising her."

"Thank you. It really was a pleasure, that young woman has provided me more joy in my life than I ever thought possible." Audrey sincerely means it.

"I know exactly what you mean." Stella looks knowingly into Audrey's eyes.

Audrey likes Stella, one thing she's sure of, even though they've only been together mere moments is that this woman loves her granddaughter. But Eden has been through so much in her life, so much pain; she has to make sure that Stella is sure 100% that this is what she wants. As harsh at what she about to initiate may seem, she feels she needs to do it. After all she isn't going to be around forever to look out for Eden, she needs to make sure Stella is an adequate replacement. Here goes nothing.

Stella can tell that Audrey is looking for words to say, she has been waiting for the inevitable 'talk'. Eden had pre warned her that she may get a Spanish inquisition. She can hardly blame Audrey for wanting to make sure she was going to treat Eden right, and she is more than confident that she will pass with flying colours.

"So Stella, this is your first relationship with a woman." It was as good a place to start as any she guessed. This has been a particular concern for her, especially considering they haven't been together that long.

"Yes." Stella immediately feels awkward, but gets ready to go on the defensive; she is determined to prove herself to this woman.

"Are you absolutely sure this is what you want?" She looks Stella square in the eyes, she notices her jaw clench, Stella looks ready to attack, a good sign as far as Audrey is concerned.

"I am absolutely sure, that Eden is what I want. Male, Female, whatever, doesn't come into for me. I want Eden." Stella meets Audrey's gaze with sheer determination in her eyes.

Audrey is impressed. "Good answer." The older lady has a glint her eyes, Stella relaxes slightly.

"You know it probably won't be an easy life for you two."

"With all due respect Audrey, Eden has turned my whole life upside down, and it's been far from easy this far. But we've made it, and I have no intention of letting her go, because despite all the struggles, we've had, and the ones I'm sure we'll have in the future, it's all worthwhile because at the end of it, I get to be with her."

Stella was looking at the table the whole time she was speaking, she takes a deep breath, and risks looking up at Audrey, when she does she is greeted by the most loving smile, she notices Audrey's eyes are glistening with emotion.

Audrey reaches over and grabs Stella's hand. No words are needed. This one is definitely the one for her granddaughter. No doubt about it.

Ashley has just about finished at the lab, she has just called Stella, her and Audrey are waiting for her back at the apartment, she's relieved that it seems Stella has survived her grandmother for the afternoon, and now she can't wait to get home, and catch up with her two favourite ladies. Just as she's gathering the last of her things together in one of the smaller labs, Flack and Adam walk in looking deadly serious. They close the lab door behind them. Ashley stops what she's doing and waits, expectantly, and if she's honest a little worriedly. Flack is first to speak.

"Right Ashley, we have serious business to discuss."

Ashley who is still highly confused by what's going on just states, "We do?"

"Oh yes." Adam gives a hint of a smile, which makes Ashley think it can't be anything too serious. Flack takes the confused look on Ashley's face as grounds to continue.

"As your best men, we have taken it upon ourselves to arrange your bachelor party." Flack mulls this over quickly, it doesn't sound right.

"Your bachelorette party." Again as soon as he says it, it doesn't sound right. Adam steps in.

"Your Stag Do." He says it in a fake British accent which makes Ashley laugh out loud.

"Erm guys, I appreciate the sentiment, but how is that even gunna work, I mean if I'm having one, Stella should have one, who would be invited to each one?"

Flack beams, all the small details have been worked out. "Well it would be me you Adam and Danny, for yours, and Stella, Mac, Hawkes and Lindsay for Stella's. And I guess your gran would be with us."

"Ha, ha. You guys have really thought this through."

Adam's turn to pipe in now, Ashley feels like she's being tag teamed.

"We certainly have, and we thought it would be a good idea to start as two separate groups and then meet up at the end of the night, so everyone gets to see everyone."

Flack now jumps in to continue the pattern, Ashley's head just moves from left to right and then back again as they speak, she feels like she watching a tennis match.

"So we thought we would do it this Thursday night, not Friday, that way we won't be ruining any 'not allowed to see the bride the night before the wedding' rules you may have."

Flack and Adam just stand grinning like idiots, to be fair Ashley has a matching grin. She assumes that because neither of them have spoken for a few seconds, that she is now free to speak.

"Well I'm not sure we're gunna be quite as traditional as that, but it makes sense to do it the Thursday, so I'm not hung-over to my own wedding."

This is what Adam and Flack love about Ashley, she is always game for a laugh.

"So that's settled then. Right Adam, we've got plans to finalise."

Flack wiggles his eyebrows at Ashley then moves to leave the room. Before leaving Adam turns to Ashley.

"Don't worry it won't be too crazy. We've got Lindsay and Mac on the case too; they've got plenty of ideas for Stella too."

Ashley smiles. "Adam I do want to make it too my wedding."

He just shakes his head and smiles, and then follows Flack out of the room. Ashley takes a breath and realises just how close the big day actually is. Today is Monday, this time in five days; she will be a married woman. Her stomach starts to do somersaults. Excitement, nerves, anxiety all rolled into one, these are emotions she's become used to so far in her relationship. It blows her mind when she thinks about how far she and Stella have come in the last year.

Ashley walks into her apartment, she can hear happy chatter, and can smell something delicious, looks like Stella really has been going all out to impress. She steps into the living room, and sees Stella and Audrey sitting on the couch, laughing and chatting. It makes her heart swell; she can feel moisture in her eyes.

Stella can feel eyes on her; she looks up to see Eden smiling at the two of them sitting there. Stella jumps up.

"Hey Shorty, you're home." She grabs Eden and pulls her into a hug. Ashley pulls back and just looks at Stella, emotion flowing, she can't find the words to express how she feels, she tries to convey it in a kiss; she gently caresses Stella's lips with her own. Stella is happy to respond.

Audrey watches from the couch, huge smile on her face, she has become more than convinced throughout the course of the afternoon that Stella really does love her granddaughter, and here she can see it live in front of her. She can also see the emotion in Eden's face, she knows all she's ever wanted is a family that gets along, and it seems she's finally going to get something that resembles that.

Stella pulls back, and smiles. "Right, now you're home I'm gunna finish dinner." She pecks her on the lips, and heads over into the kitchen.

Ashley looks over to Audrey and can't help but match the huge grin that she's greeted with. She heads over and drops onto the sofa next to her grandmother and pulls her into a hug. When she pulls back she decides it's time to get the low down.

"So what do you think?"

Audrey contemplates teasing her granddaughter but thinks better of it. "You know how I told you the story about when I met your grandfather?"

"Yeah you said you just knew, he was the one for you, Love at first sight wasn't it?" Ashley says teasingly as she smiles over to her grandmother.

"Not quite, but I knew he was my soul mate." Audrey states simply "She is your soul mate."

Ashley had never really thought about it before, she wasn't sure she actually believed in soul mates, but the more she thinks about it the more she thinks Audrey could be right. Two people meant to be together, two souls entwined. It certainly was a force of nature when she and Stella met.

"So you approve then?" Ashley laughs and Audrey can't help but join in.

"She's perfect; I can't wait for Saturday now." Audrey says it with genuine excitement.

Stella joins the two of them. "Dinner will about 30 minutes." She looks at Eden "How was work?"

"It was okay; do you know that we are having bachelorette parties planned for us?"

"Yeah this Thursday. Lindsay mentioned something."

"How are the wedding plans coming along?" Audrey knows they haven't had a lot of time to plan. Ashley moves to reassure her grandmother quickly.

"Well venue is sorted, all the seating and lighting and everything is done." Stella joins in to help Eden.

"Yep the flowers are being arranged in there on Friday, the reception venue is taken care of . . ."

"And the final dress fittings are tomorrow, you can come with me if you like? Stella has Lindsay and Lucy helping her, it's not really Adam and Flacks cup of tea."

They all chuckle. "I would love too, sounds like you've got everything sorted. Quite impressive in such a short space of time."

"Well that's mainly down to Eden, I've never known anyone as organised."

Audrey smiles knowingly. It's a good job her granddaughter is so efficient tomorrow is Tuesday, just four days to go until the big day. She for one cannot wait.

Part 17

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