Author's Note: Wow. I can't believe I've finally reached the end, not just of this story, but of the whole series. When I started writing Cold Vengeance almost two years ago, I never could have dreamed that it would take me here. I certainly never planned there to be five stories in this series back in the beginning. But it's been a fun (and traumatic, scary, emotional, angsty, et al) journey, and I'm a little sad it's over.
Thank you so much to everyone for reading this story, and the stories that went before. Your reviews kept me going through numerous bouts of writer's block. You have no idea how much I appreciate you all, and if I could I'd bake cookies for each and every one of you.
As for wobbear, she deserves more than cookies. Diamonds, perhaps? Best. Beta. Ever. Thank you so much for all the work you put in to make this story better.
Love comforteth like sunshine after rain.
William Shakespeare (Venus and Adonis, 1593)
It was a beautiful spring day as they stood in a simple garden with their friends. Chairs were set out in rows, facing the small trellis which had been brought in for the occasion. Decorations were few and unpretentious, just like the couple in whose honor everyone had gathered.
The Reverend Julia Martin, a minister from the Eternal Hope Ministry, stood before them, speaking with feeling on the virtues of love and togetherness.
"The world can be bleak and full of despair," she told the small congregation of family and friends. "No one knows that more than those men and women who devote their lives to solving crimes and attempting to bring justice to our society. These people, perhaps more than any other, deserve to find love and companionship. To find someone to walk through life with. Which is why today is so special, as we gather with this wonderful couple as they declare their love and commitment for one another."
At her words, Grissom found himself reaching for Sara's hand. She squeezed his in return and, without having to look, he could sense her smile.
It was now almost a year since they had returned to Vegas and begun to put their lives back together. She had been a constant at his side, nursing him back to full strength, both physically and mentally.
After much coaxing from Grissom, Sara had returned to work in the crime lab three months after handing in her leave of absence. Given all that had happened, Ecklie had welcomed her back with very little fuss and, to her great surprise, had yet to cause her any trouble.
When he had felt up to it, Grissom had continued to work on his book, which was now about to go into print. Rather than returning to work at the lab, he had accepted an offer to head the Forensic Science Department at UNLV. Being surrounded by fresh minds, eager to become criminalists, had given Grissom a new lease of life. He was more relaxed than he had been in years, and was already planning his next book.
Catherine and Warrick had worked in conjunction with the Californian authorities, uncovering enough evidence to have Graham Price charged with three counts of murder in addition to the kidnapping and attempted murder charges. Three sets of human remains had been found at the Silver Hills property and eventually identified as Gavin James, Veronica McKenna - who had been Price's neighbor at one time - and Sally Clark, a student from UNLV. There was enough forensic evidence to prove that Price had been the killer. In order to avoid the death penalty, Price had pleaded guilty across the board, and was now serving a life sentence, without possibility of parole.
Sara had returned to California with Nick and Greg to testify in the Coroner's Inquest into the death of Jill Davenport. The evidence spoke for itself, and Nick's actions were found to be justifiable.
It was after they left the courthouse, jubilant at the outcome, that Greg had proposed.
Now, in their own garden, both grooms beamed as they stood side by side in front of the minister. They had written their own vows and recited them with feeling, before each placed a ring on the other's finger.
The reception was perfect in its simplicity, held in their home. Members of the lab mingled with Nick and Greg's families, nibbling on finger food and telling stories of the boys' exploits.
Sara found herself being dragged across the room by Greg, first to meet his own parents, and then to meet Nick's. She caught Grissom's eye and they exchanged smirks at the young man's exuberance. He wore his happiness well.
It was a good day, with very little drama and a lot of joy. Sara didn't think it could possibly get any better.
She was chatting to Brass and Doc Robbins when Grissom was suddenly at her elbow, steering her away from the main crowd and out into the hallway.
"I was going to do this tonight, after the party but…" Grissom broke off, suddenly nervous. He cleared his throat and reached into his pocket. "But I just can't wait any longer."
He drew out a small box covered in sumptuous midnight blue velvet. Awkwardly, he fumbled with it, his hands shaking slightly.
"Sara, I spent most of my life content to walk through life alone. I thought my work was enough. And it was - until I allowed myself to love you. Now I can think of no other way I want to spend eternity than by your side. In your arms. In your heart."
He opened the box. Sara's eyes were wide as they fell on the flawless princess-cut diamond, winking up at her from its solid platinum band.
Sara found herself unable to speak. All she could do was nod and let him slip the beautiful ring onto her eager finger. When he finished, she wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him close and kissing him deeply.
Sara felt that she had been given everything she had ever wanted and more. In her arms was the only person she had ever truly loved, who loved her with all of his heart. It had been a long, sometimes difficult journey, but now Sara felt that she had finally come home.
Their private celebration was disturbed by someone clearing his throat. Looking towards the doorway, they saw Nick, arms crossed, a broad grin on his face. The impressive rock on Sara's finger had not escaped his attention.
"So, I guess my wedding party is about to become an engagement party?" he asked good-naturedly. Before they could stop him, he had hurried back into the living room and called for silence.
"Grissom and Sara have an announcement to make."
Grissom turned to Sara and sighed, holding out his hand. "Shall we?"
Smiling, she nodded and took his hand.
They walked hand in hand to give their friends the good news, joyfully embarking on this new chapter in their lives. They didn't know what the future held in store for them. But they were sure of one thing. Whatever happened, they would see it through. Together.