“Okay, that’s them all,” Gil announced, sitting back from the table, a pleased look of achievement on his face; a pile of wedding invitations to his left.
“Not quite,” Catherine said, holding up one more card.
Gil frowned. “I’ve written one for everyone on the list.”
“Your Dad wasn’t on the list,” Catherine explained, prepared for the argument that might follow.
“No he wasn’t,” he said, calmly.
“We can invite him, if you want,” she offered, knowing he would most likely say no, but also knowing that it had to be discussed, and not just accepted.
“Catherine,” he said, taking hold of one of her hands, “Elizabeth is his niece, and she invited my Mom, but not him, to her wedding… His entire family has more to do with my Mom than with him…”
“This is his son’s wedding, Gil… Your wedding… Are you sure you don’t want him there?”
“He hasn’t been there for any other major event in my life so –”
“He was at your graduation… for your degree,” she interrupted him, thinking that could be considered a major event in his life.
Gil frowned. “He wasn’t.”
Now Catherine frowned. “He’s on the picture.”
“Which picture? It’s just of me and my Mom.”
“Not that one, the one of you with some friends… In the background, is your Dad,” she explained, confused that he seemed not to know this.
His frown deepened and he stood up and walked into their bedroom. His stuff was still in boxes from his recent move, but everything was clearly labelled so he found the one he was looking for.
Withdrawing the shoebox of photographs, he sat down on the end of the bed and opened it up.
Catherine sat beside him and watched as he flipped through the pictures and stopped at the one to which she had referred.
His eyes swept over the images before him, taking it all in, studying it as he would a crime scene photograph. And, sure enough, at the back of a crowd of people was his Dad.
“I’ve never noticed that,” he told her quietly, turning a sad face in her direction.
“I noticed it when I was packing them the other day… You most probably focussed on you and your friends when you were looking at it. I only saw it because they fell out, and that corner was all I could see of it in the pile on the floor.”
“He never mentioned that he was there,” he said, looking back to the photograph.
“Maybe he didn’t have any proof… and he wouldn’t know you had this.”
“Why would he need proof?” he asked, face creased in a naivety she rarely saw in him.
“Would you have just taken his word for it?”
He let out a small sigh and rubbed a hand over his eyes. “Probably not,” he admitted quietly.
Catherine smiled sympathetically and laid her head on his shoulder, rubbing her hand up and down his arm, soothingly.
“This doesn’t change anything,” he said after a few minutes of silence. He placed the photograph back in the shoebox.
“Okay,” she said, lifting her head to place a soft kiss on his cheek. “It’s your decision.”
“Thank you,” he said, turning his head to hers, and capturing her lips in a tender kiss.
The kiss soon deepened as he sought solace in her. He twisted his body round so he could pull her against him and he gently pushed her down onto the bed as he wrapped his arms around her.
She kissed him back fervently, knowing that he needed to feel loved; that he needed to lose himself in her for a while and forget about the real world.
He pulled his lips away from her, leaving her pouting, and stroked one hand down her face. “I can’t wait until you’re my wife,” he said, softly.
A smile lit up Catherine’s face. “And I can’t wait to be your wife… But we have to.”
Now he pouted. “Aw, can’t we just run away?” He placed light kisses along her jaw line.
Shivering from the touch of his lips on her sensitive skin, Catherine breathlessly replied: “Well then all the invitations you just wrote would be obsolete.”
“I can live with that,” he said, smirking before trailing his kisses down her neck.
She purred under his caress, dropping her head back as she said, “You wouldn’t live if our friends caught up with us.”
Pulling back the collar of her shirt with his thumb, he nipped lightly at her collar bone before kissing the dimple at the base of her neck, eliciting a contended hum from her lips and effectively silencing her argument.
In the ensuing discarding of clothing and entwining of bodies, the box of photographs tumbled from the bed, scattering its contents on the floor below.
Catherine came out of the bathroom to find Gil sitting on the floor next to the pile of photographs. Some were back in the box; others still lay on the ground. One was in his hand.
She knelt down behind him and draped her arms over his shoulders, clasping her hands in front of his chest as she rested her cheek against his.
“I never knew he was there,” he said softly, wrapping his hand around hers.
“We can just go out to dinner with him if you like,” she offered, quietly. “Some time before the wedding?… If that goes well, invite him… If not, then don’t.”
He leaned his head into hers and they sat in silence for a moment before he said: “I’d like that.”
Catherine smiled and kissed his cheek softly. “So would I… It’ll be good to see him again… And actually see what he’s like.”
Gil frowned. “You’ve met?”
“Just once. Briefly… The day that he came to the lab to speak to you.”
“Oh… I didn’t realise you’d seen him then… You should know that our meetings are usually brief… and quiet,” he told her.
“That can change,” she said, sensing from the sadness in his voice that he would like it to.
He let out a long sigh and then said, “Do I want it to?”
Catherine smiled and squeezed her arms tighter around him. “Weddings are about new beginnings… And I will be right by your side.”
Gil smiled and shifted round to pull her into his lap. “This wedding’s making you soppy,” he teased, the twinkle in his eyes showing he wasn’t serious.
“You can talk, Mister ‘She may be my left hand and my right…’” she responded, giggling when he slipped his hand inside her robe and tickled her waist.
“It’s you that makes me soppy,” he said, his hand at the back of her neck, his thumb stroking her jaw line.
“I tend to have that effect on people,” she quipped, laughing louder now when his other hand resumed the tickling.
“You certainly have that effect on me,” he said, pulling her head down to his and kissing her passionately.
They arrived at the restaurant ten minutes before the arranged time, and were shown to the bar area to wait until their table was ready.
Catherine selected a table while Gil purchased some drinks from the bar, and when he sat down beside her, a silence descended on their corner, despite the activity in the rest of the room.
She placed her hand upon his on the table and offered him a reassuring smile.
“I’m a little nervous,” he said with a small smile of his own.
“I noticed,” she replied. “What’s the worse that can happen?” she said with a shrug. “We don’t get along with his wife; you and he have a huge fight and we get thrown out of the restaurant.”
He laughed. “I like this restaurant.”
“Ah… Well then let’s hope things turn out better than that,” she grinned.
“Well, we’ll soon find out,” Gil said as he stood up from his chair, looking towards the door.
Catherine followed his gaze, and rose from her own seat, smiling as Gil’s father and his wife approached them.
The couple stopped opposite them and all four exchanged awkward smiles.
“Gil, I’m glad you called,” the older man said, nodding solemnly at his son.
Gil just nodded once in response and then glanced at Catherine before saying, “Dad, I’d like you to meet Catherine Willows…”
Catherine smiled, brightly and held out her hand to his father.
“Bill Grissom,” he introduced himself. “We’ve met before?” he commented with a slight frown as he shook her hand.
“Very briefly,” she replied, “At the crime lab.”
“Ah,” he said, recognition showing on his face. “Of course… This is my wife, Karen,” he smiled, gesturing to the woman beside him.
The two women shook hands and swapped pleasantries, and they all sat down.
A short silence followed until Karen said, “So, the two of you work together?”
After glancing at Gil, who seemed to be embroiled in a concerted effort to avoid eye contact with his father and clearly had no plans to respond to the question, Catherine replied to Karen herself.
“Yes… I’m a CSI…”
Hearing Catherine’s voice must have snapped Gil back to the conversation. “Er… yes. Catherine’s our blood spatter expert.”
Karen’s eyebrows rose. “That sounds interesting.”
Catherine nodded emphatically. “It is. I –”
She was interrupted by a waiter approaching to tell them that their table was ready; and the party made its way through the restaurant.
Discussion of the options on the menu passed some time and filled some of the silence, but throughout the meal, if the women hadn’t made conversation, there wouldn’t have been any.
“So the lights come up and they’re all standing there in blonde wigs,” Catherine laughed, as she recounted the tale of the ‘Barbie Girl’ performance to Karen and Bill, who were also laughing as they finished their desserts. “The other people in the club must have wondered what on Earth was going on!… Hell! I was wondering what on Earth was going on!”
“You said I wasn’t to sing anything soppy,” Gil commented with a shrug and a small smile: the story amusing to him as well.
“Ah, but you did that as well!” Catherine reminded him, receiving a proud smirk in response.
“I would have thought you’d have grown out of your karaoke phase,” Bill said to Gil, then turned back to Catherine to explain. “When he was little he was always dancing around the house singing.”
Catherine grinned broadly at this image and looked at Gil. “Awww! How cute!” she teased him.
“I really was,” he smiled, smugly.
It warmed Catherine’s heart to see Gil laughing with his father. It had taken almost an hour and a half but, finally, they were talking to each other. She knew that in the last year, since Bill had reappeared in Gil’s life, the two of them had talked about why he left, and what he hoped to achieve by returning. She knew that Gil still wasn’t totally convinced his father was back for good; and she also knew he wasn’t sure if he wanted him to be. There were still issues that needed to be discussed and resolved, but they were laughing together and, right now, that was all that mattered.
“Hey, Cath!” Sara called after Catherine and jogged to catch up with her colleague in the corridor.
Catherine stopped and waited for her. “What’s up?” she asked pleasantly.
“Nice invitations,” Sara complimented her. “Hand made?”
Catherine nodded. “Lindsey and I made them. Gil wrote them.”
“Well, they’re beautiful. I’ll reply formally, but I just wanted to let you know that Mick and I will be there.”
“I’m glad to hear it,” Catherine smiled. “And it’ll be good to meet Mick.”
The two women parted and Catherine continued on her path to Gil’s office. Greg was there when she arrived so she waited patiently in the doorway until the lab tech stood up to leave.
“Hey Cath!” he greeted her when he saw her standing by the door. “I am looking forward to the wedding!” he announced enthusiastically. “Will there be karaoke?”
“No!” Gil and Catherine spoke simultaneously.
“Spoilsports,” Greg pouted and stalked out of the room.
Chuckling to herself Catherine closed the office door and moved across the room. Perching on the corner of the desk, to face Gil, she smiled.
“Have you made your decision?” she asked him.
Gil nodded. “I posted it on my way in.”
Catherine smiled. “I’m glad…”
He placed his hand gently on her knee. “Thank you for encouraging me to invite him,” he said quietly.
Her smiled widened and she gave his hand a squeeze. “No problem.”
They shared a moment of comfortable silence, and then Catherine’s eyes sparkled with excitement.
“So all the invitations have gone out,” she said gleefully. “There’s not long to go now.”
His smile was instant and he stood up, standing in front of her and edging his way in between her legs. “No there isn’t.”
She wrapped her arms around his waist and looked up at him. “Are you nervous?” she asked.
He shook his head. “Not at all… I’ve waited years for this.”
The next day, Karen Grissom collected the mail from their mailbox, and handed a cream coloured envelope to her husband.
Bill slid his finger under the seal and removed the card that was inside. The front displayed two red hearts, tied together with ribbon and had the words “Wedding Invitation” printed beneath the decoration.
Bill smiled with relief. He hadn’t asked whether or not Gil and Catherine had set a date for their wedding, because he knew it was possible that he and Karen wouldn’t be invited. It actually brought a lump to his throat as he opened the card and read the words inside:
“Gil Grissom and Catherine Willows
invite you to join them to celebrate their marriage
at El Caribe
on May 5th
Continues in "Wedding Cake"