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
Ashley is standing in the elevator on her way up to the lab, she can't help reminiscing back to that day around a year ago when she was doing this for the first time, and she smiles at the thought. She remembers how nervous and excited she was back then. Today she has similar feelings. Today is Thursday, she is getting married in two days, and right now she is about to round up Flack and Adam for a pre stag do favour.
She steps out of the elevator and heads straight to Stella's office, she probably won't see her again until a lot later on tonight, when the two stag do's are due to merge. Ashley reaches the door to the office, she looks through the glass door and sees Stella lost in thought leaning over her desk, looking at a file, she's wearing her glasses, Ashley loves it when she wears her glasses. She pushes the door open, with a huge smile on her face, startled Stella instantly looks up, and replicates her smile.
"Hey gorgeous." Ashley can't help it, Stella really does look beautiful.
"Hey Shorty, what are you doing here?" Stella isn't complaining, she rises from her desk and pulls Eden in for a quick kiss.
"I'm here to pick up the boys; I've got a road trip planned before the games begin later."
Stella furrows her eyebrows, this is the first time Eden has mentioned a road trip, Ashley immediately picks up on Stella's confusion.
"I know I haven't mentioned it before, but it really is something I need to do. And if it's okay with you it's something I'd rather we talk about later."
Now Stella is slightly worried, she can't for the life of her think what it could be. "Should I be worried?"
"No." Ashley states simply. She can tell Stella still isn't convinced. "Trust me?"
Stella immediately relaxes, because if there's one thing she's sure of, it's that she can most definitely trust Eden, with her life, and more importantly with her heart.
Ashley smiles and leans in for a kiss. "What time are you and Lindsay heading out?"
"Around 8 I think." Stella is really looking forward to celebrating her last few days as a single woman.
"So do you know what she's got planned? Male stripper perhaps?" Ashley wiggles her eyebrows.
Stella decides to tease. "Maybe, I mean after all it will be the last chance I get to see the male form at its finest."
Ashley pretends feigns mock hurt. But grabs Stella into a playful hug. "Are you insinuating that my form in all its glory isn't enough to keep you from missing all those pecs and abs?"
Stella pulls Eden into a passionate kiss, which slightly takes Eden by surprise, so much so that she falls back a little and is now perched on the edge of Stella's desk, but manages to never break the kiss. Stella pulls back, satisfied when she see's Eden is struggling for breath, and the lust in her eyes.
"What do you think?" She finally answers Eden's question with a smirk. Ashley is still struggling to regain her composure, which makes Stella laugh.
"Right Shorty, I don't mean to be rude or anything, but I've gotta get out to my scene."
Ashley shakes her head, and focuses back on what she came here to do. "Right, well I will see you later then. Don't have too much fun without me."
Stella just smiles, grabs one last kiss, then switches to work mode, and leaves Eden in her office while she goes to find Danny so they can head.
Ashley gets herself in gear; she heads straight to the DNA lab where she knows Adam will be, he isn't actually aware they're going anywhere yet. Ashley has already told Flack who is waiting downstairs for them in the car.
She strides into the lab, Adam smiles as soon, as she walks in. "Hey princess, you ready for tonight?"
Ashley rolls her eyes, but lets it slide for now. "I'm raring to go. How about you, you ready to get started now?"
She smirks, as she watches Adam look at his watch. "Dude it's like 2.30."
"Well we better get a move on then, I wanna back early so we can get the drinking show on the road."
Adam is still massively confused. "Where are we going?"
"Road trip." Ashley states simply. "Come on get ready."
"Erm I'm working." Adam says it like Ashley has just grown a second head, which makes her burst out laughing.
"Come on geek, I've cleared it with Mac, you've got the afternoon off, Flack is waiting for us in the car, I will explain on the way."
With that Ashley exits the lab, and Adam excitedly follows her.
Flack is driving, Ashley is in the front directing him, and Adam is in the back, but is scooted forward with his head between the two seats. Flack and Adam still have no idea where they're going, and Ashley is becoming acutely aware that they are getting more and more curious, and it seems Flack is going to be the one who lets his curiosity get the better of him first.
"So Ashley you gunna let us in on the secret, I mean I know we're heading north out of the city, but . . .?"
Flack looks over at Ashley, she becomes quite nervous, it's quite a long road trip, she hopes the guys understand.
"Erm, we're going to Rhode Island." She looks up to gauge their reaction, she can see Flack thinking it over in his head, she assumes he's trying to figure out how long it's going to take.
"We're heading to Providence, should be two hours max. I don't need to be there long; we should be back in Manhattan and out by 8."
Flack assumes there is a good reason for the trip, so he just smiles. "Whatever you want Ash. It's your day after all."
Ashley is relieved, it seems Adam isn't going to be as tactful as Flack. "Why are we going to Providence?"
Ashley and Flack just look at each other and laugh. This confuses Adam no end.
"Erm." Ashley doesn't really know how to explain it, because she doesn't really know why she wants to go herself, she just has this deep longing, this deep need to go before she gets married. She decides after several minutes of umming and arring, the best way to explain to the guys is to just let them know what is in Providence.
"You remember I told you guys about my girlfriend, Katy?" This immediately changes the atmosphere in the car; they both of course know this is Ashley's girlfriend who was murdered by that lunatic Ellis. She takes their silence as confirmation that they do in fact know who she's talking about.
"Well she was from Providence." Ashley swallows, Flack and Adam look at each other, they can tell their girl is hurting.
Ashley continues the best she can. "I guess I just kinda need to say Goodbye." She takes a deep breath; Adam reaches out from the back of the car, and grabs Ashley's shoulder.
"Then that's what we'll do princess." Ashley smiles, looking up at Adam.
She loves them for being so understanding. It's no big deal to either Flack or Adam, and just like that, they relax into the rest of the journey.
They arrived in Providence literally about 5 minutes ago, Ashley wasn't kidding when she said she wouldn't take long, she had directed them straight to the Cemetery. Flack and Adam where currently leaning against a wooden fence watch Ashley, make her way to a headstone. They are hanging pretty far back, not wanting to intrude. Both of their minds are buzzing with questions. Adam decides he needs to voice his first.
"So what do you think this means?" Adam looks over at Flack.
"I dunno, I don't think it means anything really." Flack is sure it really doesn't, he's praying it doesn't anyway. "Like Ashley said she just wants to say goodbye."
"I guess." Adam is still worried. "You don't think she's having second thoughts about getting married do you?"
"No." The speed at which Flack answers calms Adam. "I guess she just needs to close this chapter before starting her next one."
They both get lost in thought again and turn their focus back to Ashley, who it appears has arrived at her destination.
Ashley looks at the scene in front of her, The headstone is still as pristine as it was ten years ago when it was first laid, its black with Katy's name in gold lettering, and her picture in black and white, there are fresh flowers on the grave, Ashley smiles to herself, Katy's mom lays a fresh bunch every week without fail.
She sighs through her smile, now she's here she doesn't really know, what to do. She lowers herself onto the grave and sits leaning against the headstone, and decides the best thing to do is just to talk.
"You know, I thought when I got here I'd know exactly what to say." She takes a deep breath; she knows she isn't going to get a response. She leans her head to her right, the marble cools her temple.
"I'm sorry it's been so long, but I've been busy the last year or so. That's kinda what I'm here about. I moved to New York like I always said I would."
Ashley smiles at the memory, time to get serious. "I met someone. I think you'd really like her."
She can feel the tears stinging the backs of her eyeballs. "The thing is we're getting married in a few days, and the closer it's gotten to the ceremony, the more and more I've been thinking about you."
The tears are now spilling freely. "I can't help but think that we'd have already been married by now given the chance. And we would have been so happy."
Ashley has to compose herself. "But, I know I'm meant to be with her. And the thought, made me glad . . ." She can't stop the sob that escapes. "It made me glad that we didn't get the chance, so I got to meet her. And I hate myself for that."
Ashley again has to take numerous deep breaths. "Please don't think that, that means that what we had, wasn't special, or that I don't still love you and think about you every day, because I do. Every single day. But she's . . ." Ashley struggles to find the word; she decides simplicity is the way forward. "She's the one."
A cool fresh burst of wind, suddenly rushes over Ashley taking her breath away, she can't explain it, but she instantly feels better.
"I know you would want me to move and be happy, but I just feel so guilty."
"You've no need to feel guilty Eden."
Ashley is startled by the voice, she quickly looks up and see's Mrs Peterson, Katy's Mum.
"Mrs Peterson. How long have you been here?" Ashley is frantically trying to wipe the tears away from her eyes and face.
"Long enough. So you're getting married?" Mrs Peterson smiles down at Eden, which seems to make her realise she's still sitting on the floor; she gets to her feet, and looks at the older lady rather sheepishly.
"Yeah, I didn't really know how to tell you." She can't bring herself to look her in the eyes so just looks down at her own feet.
"Eden Ashley, when are you going to let go of the guilt. It's been ten years. You said it yourself; Katy would have wanted you to be happy. I'm sure she's smiling down on you now."
Eden thinks back to the gust of wind and smiles. She doesn't really believe in stuff like that, but she finds comfort in the thought.
"Thank you." Ashley can feel the tears starting to refill her eyes.
"No thank you, you made my daughter the happiest she had ever been. Your wife to be is a very lucky woman."
"I'm the lucky one."
Mrs Peterson knows Eden isn't just talking about her new bride. "Have you got time to grab a drink, we could catch up?"
This brings Ashley back into the real world. "I haven't actually; I have to head back to New York. Those guys over there." She gestures towards Adam and Flack. "They're waiting for me; I promised them I wouldn't be long."
Ashley is genuinely disappointed that she can't stay longer. She has a sudden thought. "Why don't you come to the wedding? It's this Saturday in the City, can you make it?"
Mrs Peterson laughs at the enthusiasm in Eden's voice. "I would love too."
Ashley pulls Mrs Peterson in for a hug. "That's excellent."
She pulls back from the hug and looks over at Flack and Adam who are patiently waiting, albeit with confused looks on their faces.
"I better get going, but I will call you tomorrow with all the details for Saturday."
"See you then Eden."
Ashley starts to make her way back to the guys, and Mrs Peterson starts to gather the flowers up from her daughters' grave ready to replace them.
When she reaches them, its apparent Ashley has been crying. She just wants to get back to New York and get a drink; she doesn't really feel like explaining to the guys what just happened.
"You ready to go?" She doesn't wait for an answer; she just heads for the car. Flack and Adam look at each other worried, then turn and follow Ashley into the car.
It's 8pm and Stella has just arrived at the first bar, with Lindsay, Mac and Hawkes are waiting for them, Eden's grandmother decided to stay at home, and 'leave the drinking to the kids.' Stella still has no idea what to expect, she's hoping for something relatively quiet, she's having nightmares about the evening turning into some sort of Hangover movie episode, although she's more worried that Eden's night may turn out that way. She hasn't seen Eden since earlier in the lab; apparently her road trip lasted a little longer than expected. She had just had a call from her though telling her she was back in Manhattan. Which has relaxed Stella no end, she's ready to have a great time now.
Lindsay has already made her dress up like a proper 'hen', she has 'L' plates and a vale and all sorts of things hanging off her now she's beginning to wonder why she took so much time getting ready. She's definitely going to need to be drunk to get through the evening in this outfit.
Mac pulls Stella out of her thoughts, by striding over to the table with a huge bottle of champagne.
"I thought this would be just the thing to get us started." He dispenses the glasses to the other three and then proceeds to fill them. Finally he raises his glass. The three friends mirror his action, as he begins to speak.
"Here's to a wonderful evening, to Stella's last night out as a single woman." This makes Stella giggle a little. "And to the lifetime of happiness I'm sure she's going to enjoy with Eden."
"Here here." Lindsay pipes in. "Here's to making Stella's last night of freedom, one she'll never forget!"
"Wow you guys make it sound like I'm going to prison." She smiles as she polishes off her glass, which is then quickly refilled by Mac.
"Not at all, I'm sure you and Miss Ashley will have a fantastic life together, but some of the things I've got planned for tonight, you definitely won't be able to do when you're married." Lindsay says it with a glint in her eye which slightly worries Stella, but oh well, you only get married once.
"Well here's to an unforgettable evening." Stella raises her glass again and the others follow suit.
Ashley is not too far away from where Stella is enjoying her evening, she just about to cross the threshold of the first bar, she's never been here before so she doesn't know what to expect. It looks a little dark and dingy if she's completely honest. The three guys go in first. Ashley follows close behind and cannot believe her eyes. She just looks around, and shakes her head.
"How very original fella's."
She doesn't really know why she's surprised, wall to wall women, in not many clothes, walking around with drinks trays, and hanging off of poles, they are most definitely in a strip club.
"You're welcome." Flack grins at Ashley. Adam has very swiftly made his way to the bar and now returns with a tray with four huge shot glasses on. He passes one to everyone, in a scene very reminiscent of the one at Stella's bash; Adam raises his glass into the air, closely followed by Flack, Danny and Ashley.
"Here's to our little girl, who's finally growing up." This causes an outbreak of childish grins throughout.
"Seriously though. Here's to Ashley, I hope your marriage is long and successful. And I really hope Stella still lets you hang out with us." There's a glint in Adam's eyes as he gets the last part in. He quickly downs his shot, and the others follow suit.
Ashley shakes her head as the alcohol takes its toll on her. Sambuca, not the greatest taste in the world.
"I think the outcome of this night; will have a greater impact on whether Stella's lets us hang out than the marriage." Ashley smiles at the guys.
The causes Flack to laugh. "Waitress." He gets the attention of one of the scantily clad women. "We'd like another round of shots and a private booth please."
Flack wriggles his eyebrows and looks over at Ashley, who again shakes her head. Flack continues leering at the waitress, who in fairness seems to be lapping it up.
"You see my girl Ashley over here is getting married, so we want the full works."
This causes the waitress to furrow her brows in confusion, as she looks her up and down, this amuses Ashley no end. "You're getting married, and you come here on your bachelorette party, with a group of guys?"
"Yep." Ashley just innocently smiles at the waitress, who still looks absolutely dumbfounded. The rest of the guys are having as much fun as Ashley is with this.
"I don't get it?" The waitress looks at the other three for confirmation, they all instantly look anywhere except back at the waitress, at the floor at the ceiling, anywhere.
Ashley decides to take pity on the waitress. "I'm getting married to a woman."
The penny drops for the waitress. "Oooooooooooooooohh." She proceeds to look Ashley up and down again, this time in an extremely different way, Ashley feels like a piece of meat.
"Well say no more gorgeous, follow me guys."
The waitress walks off and the four of them make to follow, Danny and Flack apparently more eager than Ashley and Adam. Adam whispers into Ashley's ear as they are making their way to the private booth.
"You have got to let me know how you get women to look at you like that."
Adam's face is completely serious, which makes Ashley giggle. "I dunno Adam, you've either got it or you haven't."
Stella is drunk, she has had a great night but she is most definitely drunk. Luckily for her, Lindsay is just as drunk, and Mac and Hawkes aren't far behind. The evening has been excellent so far, no mishaps, no getting tied to a lamppost or other such things, she is secretly hoping that Ashley can say the same about her evening. Stella is currently in a bar not too far from work, and as a result they have been joined by a few more people from the lab, but other than that it's fairly quiet, Lindsay is getting giddier and giddier.
"What are you planning?" Stella looks at Lindsay through narrowed eyes.
"Moi?" Lindsay gives Stella a look of mock horror before she proceeds to burst into a fit of giggles.
All of a sudden music starts blasting through the sound system; it takes Stella by surprise and makes her jump a little. Lindsay it appears is still unable to control her laughter. Stella is confused, although she becomes less so when a 'police officer' comes striding towards her.
"Stella Bonasera?" The 'police man' pushes Stella into a nearby chair as he speaks. Stella has apparently lost her voice, so just nods her head to indicate she is in fact Stella Bonasera.
"I've gotta take you downtown." He draws out the word downtown, which makes Stella blush a little. "Someone's been a naughty girl."
Lindsay whoops with delight. Stella just looks over at her shaking her head. "A stripper? Really?"
Lindsay again through laughter manages, "Come on Stel, it wouldn't be right without one."
Stella cringes at the thought of what's about to happen, but without further ado the 'officer' breaks into his routine.
After numerous lap dances and even more shots, Ashley has had enough of the strip bar, Flack is just settling the bill then they are heading to meet up with the other party. It appears Danny is more than ready to leave as he pushes past Ashley and Adam at break neck speed.
Curious they both quickly follow him outside, closely followed by Flack, when they catch up with Danny they are all highly amused by what they see. Danny apparently can't handle his drink he is currently losing the contents of his stomach down an alley.
Flack and Adam can't contain their delight. "Oh dear Danny boy." Flack can't help but mock, this is great, he's gunna be able to tease Danny with this for years. "Out drunk by a girl huh?"
Danny pulls his sorry self up to eye level apparently finished. "Aw come on man, you know I don't get out much, since the baby."
Flack just laughs and shakes his head. "Ashley are you taking note, this is what happens when you get married."
"Come on guys; let's get to the next place." Ashley is desperate to see Stella. She hopes she's not too mad about all the strippers.
It only takes them a few minutes to reach their destination; Danny is still looking a little green around the gills.
"I think maybe you should stick to water in the next place buddy." Adam smiles, Danny looks as though the thought of another drink is turning his stomach. They enter the bar, the first thing Ashley notices is the music, and it's very loud for this time of week. The second thing she notices is that she needn't have been worried about the strippers. Judging by the man's state of undress, Stella is coming towards the end of her own little show.
Amongst the feeling of wishing the ground would swallow her up, Stella can feel eyes on her. She looks up and see's Eden looking at her, smirking. A look of panic hits Stella's face, which amuses Ashley; she's grins back at Stella, hopefully conveying that she isn't in the slightest bit bothered by the semi naked man.
Flack who currently has a look of disgust on his face, looks at Ashley, "Well I liked our strippers way better."
"Lead the way."
They head over to the bar and continue where they left off from, ordering and downing numerous shots before heading over to join the party with Lindsay, Mac and Hawkes. The group all exchange hugs and kisses. Flack can't help but to continue to make fun of Danny.
"Hey Dan, it looks like even the Mrs. can hold her alcohol better than you."
This causes Ashley and Adam to burst out laughing, and Danny to look sheepish, he just buries his head into the crook of Lindsay's neck, and she provides the comfort he craves in the form of a hug, with a confused look on her face.
The music has stopped which causes everyone to turn back to the middle of the dance floor where Stella is currently rising from the chair, looking a little relieved. She gives the now completely naked man a kiss on the cheek before quickly making her way over to the group. She immediately makes a bee line for Eden, and grabs her into a hug.
"His body's got nothing on yours baby."
This is Ashley's first clue that Stella is somewhere near as drunk as she is. She can't help the massive smile that springs onto her face at Stella's words.
"Hey you." Ashley leans in and kisses Stella. "I think the Thursday night idea was a splendid one."
"I know what you mean. I am drunk." Stella states the obvious.
"No." Ashley can't help the sarcasm, and it earns her a little slap on the shoulder from Stella.
"Right guys, I have us a table, time for some drinking games." Flack shouts and starts to round them all up.
"Awesome idea Don." Lindsay is excited.
"Yeah, you sure your husband is going to be up for it?" They glimpse across to Danny, who to be fair to him looks a lot better than he did earlier.
"Bring it on." It seems the sickness has pulled Danny round and he's ready for round two.
"That's fighting talk Danny. I like it." Flack states has he's sitting down at the table closely followed by the rest of the group.
"Okay, so since our two favourite ladies are getting married and its only right that married couples should have no secrets, I thought we could play a truthful game." Flack is loving this; he's hoping everyone will reveal lots of juicy secrets.
"Are you guys all familiar with the 'I have never' game?" The rest of the group groans.
"Come on Flack, we're not 15." Flack looks at Ashley like she's just grown another head.
"Something to hide Miss Ashley?" Flack challenges.
"Okay then, for those not familiar with the rules, we take it in turn to say out loud something we have never done, and if anyone in the group has done it, they have to down their drink." Flack is looking more and, more pleased with himself, Ashley is frantically racking her brains for any questions that will embarrass Flack; she is prepared to go to battle and beat him at his own game.
"I will go first." Flack proudly announces.
"I have never had 4 lap dances in one night." He's looking at Ashley the whole time, with a wicked grin on his face. She smirks at him, she is definitely gunna get him back for this one, she looks sheepishly over at Stella, and stands and downs her drink, which flack quickly refills. Stella bursts out laughing at the look on Eden's face; she doesn't feel so guilty about Eden walking in on her lap dance now.
Revenge is going to be sweet. "My turn now right." She grins evilly at Flack, the smile immediately drops from Flack's face, he hasn't thought this game through. He tries to slide back down into his chair.
"You'll probably save yourself some time if you're standing to be honest mate."
This is one of the things Adam loves most about Ashley, she can take the banter, but she doesn't half give it back. He watches what's unfolding in front of him with a huge sense of glee. Flack smirks, he's kinda worried, him Ashley and Adam have had some pretty interesting nights out in the past, he gulps down and awaits his fate.
"I have never had sex with someone over twenty years older than me."
The whole table looks at Flack; he is going to kill her. He downs his shot, and refills his own glass.
"Well played." He smirks at Ashley.
"Gross you slept with an old lady, when?" Lindsay wants to know all the gory details, her latest statement causes the entire group to burst into fits of laughter, Flack can feel his cheeks starting to turn red.
"Hey, hey, hey, that's not part of the game, no explanations required. Adam you're up next."
And that was it, the game continued well into the night, most of the questions where designed to get Stella and Ashley exceptionally drunk. But they had all had a great night. Ashley's last thought before falling into an intoxicated slumber was that she was not looking forward to the morning, and the guaranteed hangover.
The morning was horrendous. Stella and Ashley could barely move they were so hung over, but they had too after all they're getting married in the morning. That thought sets the butterflies whirling in Stella's stomach again. Its currently the night before the wedding, about 9pm, Stella is at Mac's she decided she did want to be traditional after all, and spend the night apart from Eden, so she's staying here with Mac, Lindsay and Lucy will be arriving first thing to help her get ready. Eden is at their apartment with Adam, Flack and her Grandmother, the former three were still dying, with Audrey looking after them, Stella smiles at the memory of them all lounged on each other on the couch, feeling sorry for themselves.
"I made you a hot chocolate." The sound of Mac's voice breaks her from her thoughts. She moves over to the couch and sits opposite Mac, and gratefully accepts the steaming hot mug from him.
"Thanks." She begins to blow on the mug, trying to make it an acceptable temperature to drink. Mac watches intently. He loves this woman, deeply, like the sister he never had. He still can't quite believe that she's getting married in the morning, and he gets to give her away.
"So are you nervous?" Mac smiles over at Stella.
She looks up from her mug and contemplates the question. "Yeah. A little more excited though. I can't wait to be married."
Mac smiles then something suddenly occurs to him. "What are you doing about names? Are you gunna take each other's names?"
"Well, we talked about it, but professionally it makes sense to keep our own names, it would be a nightmare if there was two Detective Bonasera's or two Detective Ashley's, and I don't even wanna get into any double barrelled nonsense, can you imagine two detective Bonasera-Ashley's or Ashley-Bonasera's."
They both laugh at the thought. Stella continues. "So for now we will keep our own names, but I think if we have a family, I would want us all to have the same surname, but I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
This strikes Mac. "Wow, you think about stuff like that?"
"Well yeah. Mac I intend on spending the rest of my life with this woman." Stella smiles.
Mac was so focused on the actual wedding, he'd not thought past that, he not thought about the marriage and the future they would have together.
"I honestly can't tell you how happy I am for you Stella. If anyone deserves to be happy it's definitely you. And as much as I love Ashley, and there is no doubt in my mind that she's the one for you. Its gunna be strange to watch you stand up there and marry another woman."
This hits Stella a little, mainly because she can't quite believe it herself. If there's one person in the world she trusts more than anything then its Mac, she knows she can talk to him about anything and he won't judge.
"Am I crazy?" Stella looks at Mac, he looks confused, surely Stella isn't having second thoughts? Stella can tell Mac is questioning her question, so she decides to elaborate.
"I mean 18 months ago if you'd have told me I'd be marrying a woman, I'd have thought you were out of your mind crazy."
Mac suddenly understands, Stella is panicking, quite normal for the night before a wedding, he remembers his own panic, the night before his wedding, she just needs gently calming down.
"18 months ago, you didn't know Eden."
Stella's heart almost bursts at Mac's sentence. Eden is the love of her life. It's as simple as that, Mac continues.
"You Stella Bonasera are having pre wedding jitters, it's perfectly normal. But you just have to ignore them. Eden is perfect for you. I can't imagine you marrying anyone else, and if you told me that you were gunna be marrying some guy tomorrow, I would think you were out of your mind crazy."
Stella feels a sudden wave of emotion, and has to swallow to stop the tears. She grabs Mac and pulls him into a hug. "Thank you."
Mac can hear the emotion in Stella's voice and just holds her tightly. Stella manages to compose herself in the hug. She pulls back and smiles.
"Right I better get to bed and try and get some sleep. Big day tomorrow."
"Good Night Stella."
Mac watches as she heads to his guest room. He decides he should probably hit the sack himself. It is indeed a huge day tomorrow.
Ashley has had the worst night's sleep ever. Not only nerves for the wedding, but she has become accustomed to sharing her bed with Stella, it was weird her not being there. Her stomach is doing somersaults. She decides to head to the kitchen to try and get something to settle her stomach and calm her nerves, this is way worse than the hangover yesterday.
She heads out of her bedroom, straight into the front room, where she is greeted by three sets of eyes all looking at her expectantly.
"Morning Princess." Adam smiles. "Ready to get married?"
Ashley's stomach freaks out, her hand immediately goes up to her mouth, and she starts retching, she runs straight to the kitchen sink, as it the nearest acceptable place, and proceeds to spew her guts. Lovely.
Audrey Flack and Adam are immediately over.
"What did I say?" Adam is flabbergasted.
Audrey who has been rubbing Eden's back since she arrived in the kitchen, looks up and tuts at Adam. "The poor girl is nervous as hell."
Ashley lifts her head from the sink, and turns round to face the three of them, she has tears streaming down her face due to all the retching, but a whole new set appear. "What if she doesn't show up?"
Flack and Adam look at each other, they have never really seen Ashley this upset, seems she's a real girl after all. Not just one of the guys. They are immediately by her side.
"Well of course she's gunna show up sweetie." Flack puts on his most comforting voice.
Audrey shakes her head, "Right go into living room with the boys, I'll make you some nice tea, to settle your stomach, and Eden darling, stop being so stupid. You've got a wedding to get ready for."
Well there was the metaphorical slap round the face Ashley needed trust her grandmother to provide it for her. She takes a deep breath starts to calm herself.
Ashley has arrived at the venue, the way it has been planned is for her to arrive first, and walk down the aisle, then she would wait for Stella to do the same, which is why her main concern at the moment is Stella not showing up, she knows it's completely irrational, well she hopes it is at least, but the thought of being stood up in that hall with all those people in there. Not worth thinking about.
"You holding up there?" Flack is concerned; he can tell Ashley is lost in her thoughts, and starting to panic again.
"Yeah I just can't wait to get in there and get this over with."
Adam smiles, he still can't believe how beautiful she looks, she has the most beautiful off white gown, and her hair is pulled up at the top then flowing down her shoulders, which are bear as the dress is strapless. And she is holding a beautiful bouquet of lilies, her favourite flowers. He decides now is as good a time as any, to share his thoughts, might help calm her.
"Ashley you really do look the most beautiful." She looks up at Adam and can see his eyes glistening, which in turn chokes her up.
At that moment Father Ballas comes through the main double doors out into the lobby where they have been standing.
"Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I hope you're all ready. Mrs Harbridge, I will escort you down the aisle now, as soon as you three hear the music that's your queue okay?"
He doesn't really give them a chance to answer he just flashes a reassuring smile at Ashley and then takes Audrey's arm and leads her back the way he's just come from. Ashley takes yet another deep breath, closes her eyes and tries to swallow the sick feeling.
Flack links her arm, and Adam her other arm which make Ashley open her eyes and look at the two of them, she is greeted with loving smiles from both, which serves to calm her slightly.
"Ready short stuff?" Flack looks at her expectantly she can't formulate any words, so she just nods her head. The music starts.
"Well that's us princess." Adam leans down and places a kiss on Ashley's cheek, Flack does the same on the other cheek and opens the double doors, and the three of them stride through. Ashley plasters a nervous smile on her face as she scans the room, she sees a sea of faces some she recognise and some she doesn't, the closer she gets to the front the more faces she recognises, namely Danny and Hawkes who she smiles at, Hawkes waves, and Danny smiles as he takes a quick photo. Then right at the front she sees her grandmother, who looks extremely happy, she's already crying, this nearly breaks Ashley but somehow she keeps the tears at bay.
She finally reaches the head of the room, where Father Ballas is waiting. She smiles at him as she turns to face the room, Adam and Flack stand to her left and turn and face the room, they start to feel a little nervous with all these sets of eyes, on them.
After what seems like an eternity, the music starts playing again; Ashley immediately looks up at the double doors, mentally willing them to open. Eventually they do Mac strides through first and holds the door open, he looks amazing, he's dressed in his full officer uniform, Ashley holds her breath, waiting for Stella to appear, after a few seconds she does, Relief is Ashley's first emotion, then she is just stunned by how amazing she looks.
Stella strides into the room, closely followed by Lindsay and Lucy wearing matching bridesmaids dresses. She links arms with Mac once she is though the door and they proceed to walk down the aisle. Stella see's Eden waiting for her, and she is immediately mesmerised. She can't take her eyes off of her.
Their eyes remained locked on each other the whole way down the aisle, until Stella reaches Eden. Mac replicates Flack and Adam by giving Stella a kiss on the cheek, and then reaching over to do the same to Eden, he mouths 'good luck' at them both then moves to Stella's side, Lindsay repeats the action then stands next to Mac, true to form for Lindsay there are tears rolling down her cheeks already.
Finally Stella turns to face Eden, she looks beautiful, Stella can feel the tears forming in her own eyes, and Ashley instantly sees this and twin tears start to form in her eyes, she looks down at Stella's dress, and with a voice heavy with emotion, she says "You look the most beautiful. . ." that's all she could manage, she grabs Stella's hand and squeezes it, a solo tear escapes and rolls down Stella's cheek, Ashley instantly lifts her hand up to Stella's face and wipes it away with her thumb.
"I hope those are happy tears?" This causes Stella to let out something which can only be described as half laughter half sob. She is frantically nodding her head at Eden but realises the ability to speak is going to be quite important very soon, so she try her best to formulate a sentence.
"Yes, happy. Very happy. The most happy." Ashley smiles, he heart currently bursting with joy, if there's one thing she's sure of, it's that a few happy tears of her own will have been spilled by the end of this.
"Ladies, are you ready to get started?" They are brought out of their own little world, by Father Ballas.
They break eye contact for the first time and look at the priest, they both nod eager for him to continue.
The next few minutes are a blur. Both Stella and Ashley are aware that father Ballas is speaking, but they have no idea what he's saying; they are just holding hands and staring into each other's eyes. Its only when Eden's name is mentioned that they both suddenly realise that they should probably listen.
"Okay Eden, repeat after me, 'I Eden Alexa Ashley takes you Stella Bonasera, for my wife. . .'"
Ashley takes a deep breath and smiles at Stella. "I Eden Alexa Ashley, take you Stella Bonasera, for my wife. . ."
"'To have, and to hold, from this day forward. . .'"
"To have and to hold from this day forward. . ."
"'For better, for worse, for richer for poorer. . .'"
"For better for worse, for richer for poorer . . ."
"'In sickness and in health until death do us part.'"
"In sickness and in health, until death us do part."
She smiles at Stella, as she finishes, Father Ballas then gets Stella to repeat the exact same words. Ashley is at breaking point emotionally, she looks over at her grandmother whilst Stella is reciting her vows, and the immense look of pride on her face, and the amount of tears on her cheeks, tips Ashley over the edge, a tear spills over and is closely followed by another one. Stella had seen the interaction between grandmother and granddaughter whilst she was speaking; luckily she had just finished her vows, when her own tears spilt over.
Father Ballas continues with a smile. "Okay it's now time to do the exchange of rings."
Ashley swings round to Adam, who quickly passes her the ring, he states quietly. "She I told you I wouldn't lose it." He winks and quickly says "You're doing great princess." She smiles and wipes the tears from her face.
Stella has grabbed the ring she will give to Ashley from Mac; she turns back round to face a smiling Eden. The level of her love for this woman seems to be on the up today, she honestly can't believe she momentarily questioned this yesterday. What would she do without her?
"Okay Eden, you're first."
Ashley nods at Father Ballas, and grabs Stella's left hand, she place the ring half way onto her finger, then looks her directly in the eyes.
"This ring is a token of my love. I marry you with this ring, with all that I have and all that I am." Ashley is extremely glad she picked a short vow for this part. She pushes the ring all the way onto Stella's finger, and exhales in relief that she didn't mess up.
Stella realises it's her turn now; she replicates what Eden did with the ring, and holds it onto her left ring finger. She takes a deep breath; this is going to be difficult with the amount of love currently running through her body.
"I give you this ring to wear, with love and joy. . ." Stella's first wobble, her voice cracks, Eden squeezes Stella's hand she smiles back at her, that's all she needs to get through the next few minutes.
"As a ring has no end, neither shall my love for you. I choose you to be my wife this day and forevermore."
The smile on Ashley's face has just about doubled in size. It appears the majority of the congregation is now also in tears, leading the way is Lindsay. Even Mac, Flack and Adam seem to have gotten caught up in the moment.
Father Ballas continues to wrap up the ceremony.
"Because Eden Alexa Ashley and Stella Bonasera have desired each other in marriage, and have witnessed this before our gathering, affirming their acceptance of the responsibilities of such a union, and have pledged their love and faith to each other, sealing their vows in the giving and receiving of rings, I by the virtue of the authority invested in me by the State of New York declare you to be wed. Congratulations. You may now seal your vows with a kiss."
Stella is smiling like a kid on Christmas morning, and the same level of joy is being emitted from Eden's smile. Stella places her hands on either side of Eden's face and pulls her towards her. There kiss is slow, but filled with all the emotion of the day, and all the love that radiates between them, they both feel yet more tears.
The congregation lets out a massive cheer, which causes both women to smile into their kiss, and lean their foreheads against each other. They finally part and look out over all the smiling face, and yet another cheer rings out, as everybody rises to their feet clapping.
Ashley looks over at Stella, still holding her hand. "Shall we?"
Stella just nods and the make there way into the main body of the room. They start to head back down the aisle hugging and kissing what seems like a million people along the way.
Ashley and Stella are both awash with relief, and are now relaxing a little. They can't wait to celebrate with their closest friends and family. One thing's for sure, this afternoon is going to be one hell of a party.
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