New York Times bestselling author Marie Bostwick crafts a timeless tale of friendship, love, and the choices we must make in their name.
While New Bern, Connecticut, lies under a blanket of snow, Cobbled Court Quilts remains a cozy haven for its owner, Evelyn Dixon, and her friends. Evelyn relishes winter’s slower pace—besides, internet sales are hopping, thanks to her son Garrett’s efforts. In addition to helping out at the shop, Garrett has also been patiently waiting for his girlfriend, Liza, to finish art school in New York City. But as much as Evelyn loves Liza, she wonders if it’s a good idea for her son to be so serious so soon with a young woman who’s just getting ready to spread her wings.
Liza’s wondering the same thing, especially after Garrett rolls out the red carpet for a super-romantic New Year’s Eve—complete with a marriage proposal. Garrett’s the closest thing to perfect she’s ever known, but what about her own imperfections? The only happy marriage Liza has ever seen is her aunt Abigail’s, and it took her decades to tie the knot. Soon Liza is not only struggling with her own fears but with the mixed reactions of her friends and family. And when she finds herself torn between a rare career opportunity and her love for Garrett, Liza must grasp at the thinnest of threads and pray it holds.
Release date: May 1, 2010
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Print pages: 340
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A Thread So Thin
I make a lot of jewelry, but this was my best piece yet: five individual strands of slender silver beads that I’d joined into one necklace, twisting the strands together so they’d catch the light and make a statement. It would be perfect with the deep V-neck of the dress I planned on wearing. But when I was trying it on, I realized that the clasp was too flimsy for such a heavy necklace.
So I put on my winter coat and trudged ten blocks through the snow to the bead shop to buy a sturdier clasp. When I returned, I hadn’t even put the key in the lock when the phone started ringing. I dumped my bag on the floor, pulled off my gloves, and ran to answer it.
“Where have you been all afternoon? I’ve been calling you for hours!”
“No, you haven’t. I just went out to do some shopping. I’ve only been gone an hour.” Abigail has a tendency to exaggerate. I like to call her on it when I can.
“Well, it seemed like hours. Listen, darling, I’ve only got a minute. Franklin and I are going to a party at the Guldens’.”
Franklin Spaulding wasn’t just my mother’s lawyer, he was Aunt Abigail’s, too, for years and years. A few months ago, he became her husband as well. He and Abigail make an odd couple, but they are perfect for each other.
“I saw Garrett, and he told me where he’s taking you for dinner tonight.”
“He did? He hasn’t even told me where we’re going for dinner tonight.”
“I thought as much.” She harrumphed. “Men always think women like surprises, but they’re wrong. We pretend to like surprises, but what we really like is being prepared.”
“That’s not true. Women like surprises. I love surprises. Surprises are romantic.”
“Of course they are, darling, as long as you’re prepared for them. If you’re not, they can be simply awful. Which brings me back to the reason for this call: What are you wearing tonight?”
I wasn’t surprised by this question. Abigail is always quizzing me about my wardrobe. It’s really none of her business what I wear, but I decided to humor her.
“Since it’s New Year’s, I thought I’d dress up a little. I’ve got that black jersey wrap dress. It’s nice. Very New Yorky.”
“It is nice, darling, but not quite nice enough. Not where you’re going.”
“Abigail . . .”
She sighed impatiently. “I don’t have time to argue, Liza. Really, I don’t. In a little while a deliveryman will be knocking at your door. I called to make sure you’d be there to let him in. I’ve sent you a dress. It’s from my closet, but it should fit you perfectly.”
Abigail and I are the same height and wear the same size, but she’s sixty-five years old.
“Abigail, you’ve got to be kidding. You want me to wear one of your old dresses? On New Year’s Eve?”
“Yes, I do,” she said archly. “And you’re welcome. Do you have any idea how much it costs to hire a messenger service to deliver from New Bern to Manhattan on New Year’s Eve?”
I tried to interrupt, but she cut me off.
“Liza, don’t be difficult. I haven’t the time. Wear the dress, darling. Trust me. You’ll be glad you did.”
“But where are we going? Why would Garrett tell you and not me?”
She ignored my questions.
“Must run. Bye-bye. Have a wonderful time.” She made two kiss noises into the phone and hung up before I could say another word.
The new semester wouldn’t begin for a few more days. Two of my roommates, Kerry and Janelle, still hadn’t returned from vacation. I’d been home in New Bern for Christmas but had returned to the city early because Professor Williams—Selena Williams, who headed up the art history department—had asked me to help her do some research for an article she was writing about the influence of Clement Greenberg on abstract expressionism. She’s my favorite professor, so I jumped at the offer. Zoe, who slept in the bed next to mine, was the only other roommate in residence. She had gone home for Christmas, but Zoe’s relationship with her mother—and her stepfather, one in a series of stepfathers—is pretty rocky. Consequently, Zoe never stays home one minute longer than she has to.
When I told her that Aunt Abigail was having one of her dresses messengered to me from New Bern and wanted me to wear it on my date with Garrett, Zoe made a face, stuck her finger in her mouth, and pretended to gag.
“Is she serious? Isn’t your aunt older than the Chrysler Building? There is no way you can wear one of her old dresses out on New Year’s Eve. She’s probably worried you’ll go out on the town with—horrors!—a hemline that’s actually above your knees and that Garrett will be so senseless with lust at the sight of your bare legs that he’ll put a roofie in your drink and take advantage of you while you’re unconscious or something.” Zoe ambled over to the tiny, cube-shaped refrigerator that sat between our beds, pulled out a diet soda, and popped the top.
I shook my head. “She’s not like that.”
She isn’t. Actually, Abigail has very good taste in clothes. Unlike a lot of older women with money to burn, she doesn’t go around buying fabulous designer fashions that were created for twenty-five-year-olds but look ridiculous on a sixty-five-year-old. Abigail says that at her age, “Beauty is a ship that has sailed. The most I strive for at this point is to be clean.”
That’s silly. I’ve never seen her look anything less than beautiful. Her clothes are very fashionable, great fabrics, but always age appropriate. When I’m her age, I hope I look half as good as Aunt Abigail.
But that’s just it. I’m not her age. Abigail has great clothes, but I couldn’t imagine that anything in her closet was going to look good on me. Especially not for New Year’s Eve in New York.
“Just wait and see,” Zoe said between slurps of soda. “Aunt Abigail’s henchman is going to show up at your door with something that has long sleeves, a granny skirt, a turtleneck, and matching opera gloves. Something long and lumpy. Maybe a full-length snow parka. I’m telling you, Liza, she’s just worried about you showing off too much skin. When the delivery guy shows up, let me answer the door. That way, you can always lie, you can say you had to go out before he came and never saw the dress.”
Not so long ago I’d have had no compunction about lying to Aunt Abigail, but I like to think I’ve grown up a bit since then. Even so, when I heard a knock on our door, I let Zoe get to it first. I stood behind her, nervously eyeing the white dress box as she signed the delivery confirmation slip and closed the door.
Zoe carted the box into our room and tossed it on my bed. We both stared at it. “Well? Do you want to open it? Or should I?”
It was a big box, big enough to hold a lumpy, full-length snow parka. I hoped it didn’t.
“No. It’s all right. I’ll do it.”
Taking a deep breath, I took the box top off, pulled back the layers of white tissue paper, and gasped at the sight of the most exquisite evening gown I had ever seen in my life! The design was simple: a long, straight sheath of ivory silk, with a knee-high slit in one side. The fabric of the dress was covered with long, wavy lengths of thin silver ribbon, stitched with silver thread, making a subtle and beautiful pattern, like wind rippling over water. The ribbons ran vertically from the long hem up the full length of the skirt until they ended, cutting off at varying points along the tight-fitted, V-necked bodice, fading away one by one, so that the fabric at the shoulder seams of the sleeveless gown was a simple expanse of shimmering silk. It was the most beautiful dress in the world.
For a moment, we stood there, speechless, but Zoe found her voice first.
“Liza,” she said, “I take back everything I said about your aunt Abigail.”
“Well? What are you waiting for? Try it on!”
It fit perfectly. When I went to zip up the back I realized it didn’t have one. The fabric in the back of the gown scooped into three graceful folds that fell just to the curve of my hip.
Zoe whistled. “Liza, I’d kill to have shoulder blades like yours. They’re gorgeous.”
I turned around and peered over my shoulder to check out the view from the rear. “Thanks.”
Zoe picked up some discarded tissue paper and went to put it in the dress box. “Wait a minute, Liza. There are shoes in here too.” She held up a pair of four-inch stiletto sandals whose straps were strings of tiny rhinestones. They were perfect. I sat carefully on the edge of my bed, trying to slip on the sandals without wrinkling the dress. Zoe continued ferreting through the box.
“Oh, my gosh! And diamonds! Big ones!” I lifted my head and saw Zoe staring wide-eyed into a black velvet bag.
“Let me see that.” She wasn’t lying. I took the bag and pulled out an enormous diamond choker.
The dress and shoes were new to me—I’d never noticed them in Abigail’s closet—but the diamonds I recognized. It was the choker that Abigail’s first husband, Woolley Wynne, had given her as a wedding present. He died many years before, leaving Abigail a very wealthy widow. Abigail kept the choker in a safe deposit box and had shown it to me once when we were at the bank. Years ago, when she’d married Woolley, the choker had cost tens of thousands of dollars. I couldn’t imagine what it must be worth now.
“Are they real? Maybe we should hire a security guy to go to dinner with you.”
“Of course not,” I lied as I held the choker up to my throat. The thought of having something so expensive in our no-doorman, no-luxury apartment made me nervous. There was no point in making Zoe nervous too. The dress and shoes were beautiful, but the diamonds weren’t me. They were too much. Too glamorous. “Who’d be crazy enough to put diamonds that big in the care of some nameless delivery guy if they were real?”
Who? No one but Abigail.
“They’re cubic zirconia,” I continued. “Fakes.” I stuffed the choker back into the velvet bag.
Zoe twisted her lips doubtfully. “Well, they’re the best fakes I ever saw. Aren’t you going to wear them?”
“Uh-uh. I’ve got something better in mind.”
After helping me with my hair, Zoe headed off to Times Square to ring in the New Year.
“This is probably my last New Year’s in New York. I figure you gotta do it once, you know?”
I nodded in agreement, but I was glad I wasn’t joining her. I don’t like crowds. Standing for hours, squashed between hordes of howling strangers in the freezing cold, waiting for a glowing ball to drop was not my idea of a great way to spend New Year’s.
Garrett was right on time. I’d never seen him in a suit and tie before, let alone a tuxedo. He looked so handsome. I was glad Abigail sent the dress. And he was carrying not one rose, but an armful—two dozen long-stemmed pink roses tied with a white satin bow.
“They’re beautiful,” I breathed and buried my nose in the bouquet, the silken petals brushing against my skin.
“You’re beautiful,” he said. “You look like Keira Knightley. But taller.”
I lifted my eyes from the flowers. “Don’t tease me.”
“I’m not. You look amazing. Like a movie star. Better than that. You look like you. Exactly like you. The dress. The shoes. Everything. And the necklace. It’s beautiful.”
“Do you like it?” I asked, fingering the silver beads. “I made it myself.”
“I love it. I love everything I see,” he said.
Garrett and I’ve been dating for a long time, but I suddenly felt awkward. I went to find a vase so I could put his flowers in water.
“You look great,” I called over my shoulder. “Where’d you rent the tuxedo?”
“I bought it. Had it tailored.” He shrugged. “I figured I was too old to wear a rented tux. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to use it again.”
I laughed. “Planning on joining the country club, are you? Going to the charity galas along with Aunt Abigail and the rest of New Bern society?”
“There are other places to wear a tuxedo besides charity galas.” He looked at his watch. “Ready? Our reservation is for nine-thirty.”
“It is?” I plunked the flowers in water and grabbed my black wool coat. Not exactly the thing to wear with an evening gown, but it was the warmest one I had.
“You should have told me. It’ll take forever to hail a cab on New Year’s Eve. We’ll never get there on time. Not that I know where we’re going. Where are we going, anyway? Can we walk? If not, maybe we should take the subway.”
Garrett held out his arm like a courtier asking for the honor of a dance. “Transportation has already been arranged.”
My apartment is on the third floor of a five-floor walk-up on Eighty-eighth, between Second Avenue and Third. It’s not the kind of place you see a lot of limousines idling in front of, but that was exactly what waited for us as we came out the front door. Actually, it wasn’t quite a limousine, not one of those ridiculous stretch jobs they use for celebrities, weddings, or that groups of twenty kids pile into on prom nights. I’d have hated that. This was just a large and very shiny black sedan. A man in a black suit was sitting behind the wheel. He jumped out to open the door for me.
I looked at Garrett. “You didn’t have to do this,” I said, though I wasn’t sorry he had. Even if you’re not glamorous, every now and then it’s fun to pretend you are.
“I know. I wanted to. I want this to be a night we’ll remember. Besides,” he said, looking at my sparkling feet, “I couldn’t risk you wrecking those shoes.”
It was warm inside the car, so I slipped out of my heavy coat and scooted across the leather seat to be closer to Garrett. He put his arm around me. The chauffeur glanced in the rearview mirror and then pushed a button that raised a tinted glass window between the front and back seats.
I laughed. “That’s what I like in a chauffeur—subtlety. What does he think we’re going to do back here? Make out like a couple of high school kids?”
Garrett turned his body toward mine, running his hand under my hair, cradling my head in the hollow of his palm as I tilted my face up to his. The tips of his fingers were cool, but his lips were warm and soft and sweet. I liked the way they felt against mine, the way his bangs fell into his eyes and brushed my cheek as his head bent over mine, and the muscled weight of his body pressing me back into the smooth leather seat as we kissed and clung and glided silently through the streets of the city, past sidewalks full of smiling, laughing crowds, everyone happy and everyone hopeful, believing that maybe, just maybe, the best year of their lives was about to begin.
It’s just not in my nature to look at things that way; I wish it were. But for a little while that night, my wish came true. With Garrett’s lips on mine as I reached my arms up and draped them over his shoulders like two vines clinging to a strong and steady wall, something relaxed inside me and I believed it, too, that nothing but good was on the horizon. What lightness! I felt like I’d assumed a secret identity, put on a beautiful borrowed dress and shoes supplied by a good fairy, climbed into a pumpkin coach sedan, and suddenly transformed into a sanguine, faith-filled optimist. By the time the driver pulled up in front of the Carlyle Hotel and the maître d’ escorted us to a VIP table near the stage, I was a new person. It felt wonderful. But it didn’t last.
The fairy godmother gown, borrowed rhinestone slippers, champagne by candlelight, the pumpkin coach car—in the end, none of it made any difference.
When Garrett dropped to one knee in the middle of the dance floor at the Café Carlyle while the orchestra played the song he’d requested in advance, pulled a small blue box out of his tuxedo pocket, and asked me to marry him, the spell was broken. The optimistic, hopeful Liza vanished and the old Liza—the one who knows that happily ever after is only for books and that real life, the part that comes after the story ends, is hard and uncertain—was back in an instant.
Garrett wanted me to marry him. I didn’t know what to say.
Garrett got to his feet, dusting off the knee of his pant leg as he did.
The ring of couples that surrounded us, peering hopefully at us a moment before, convinced they were at the most romantic New Year’s Eve celebration in New York and ready to witness their approval of our engagement by a round of applause, shifted their eyes and began to dance again, pretending they hadn’t seen Garrett’s proposal or what, to their eyes, appeared to be my shocked and silent refusal.
“Come on. Let’s go back to the table.” Garrett grabbed my arm and I followed him, keeping my eyes lowered but feeling stares on my back as we left the dance floor, wending our way through the packed press of bodies. The crowd thinned as we neared the table. It was a quarter to twelve and nearly everyone was dancing, wanting to be near their beloved for the first kiss of the year as the clock struck twelve, balloons dropped from above, and the band played “Auld Lang Syne.”
“You know, maybe it would be better if I took you home now. So we can avoid the traffic.”
“But it’s not midnight yet.”
“Yeah. Well. Suddenly I don’t feel like celebrating.” He shoved his hands in his pants pockets and started heading past the circles of empty tables and toward the door, this time not bothering to grab my arm. Instead, I reached out to grab his.
“Hey! Garrett, wait a minute. Don’t be like that.”
He turned to face me, shaking off my grasp as he did. Unlike me, Garrett’s got a long fuse, but he was angry.
“Don’t be like that? How am I supposed to be? You completely embarrassed me out there, Liza. Now you think I should just stick around here so that everyone can stare at me?” His brown eyes flickered black.
“You were embarrassed? You?” I put my hands on my hips. “You weren’t the only one out there, you know. Everybody was staring at me too. It was humiliating! Did you ever stop to think what a spot you were putting me in? Whatever gave you such a crazy idea?”
“Well . . . I . . . no . . . I . . .” Garrett sputtered and turned red. “This isn’t just some crazy idea I cooked up on the spur of the moment, you know! Do you have any idea how long I’ve been planning this? You’ve got to call weeks ahead to get a table like this at the Carlyle, especially on New Year’s Eve. I planned out the whole thing, but I wanted to surprise you! Is that so terrible? You always say you love surprises!”
“I do!” I shouted. “As long as I’m prepared for them!”
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I could hear Abigail laughing.
I closed my eyes, trying to calm down and collect my thoughts.
I’ve been trying to do a better job about keeping my temper and thinking things through before I react. It takes some effort, but I can do it if I focus. That’s what I was trying to do: calm down, focus, and look at this thing from Garrett’s point of view. But it wasn’t easy.
I didn’t understand why Garrett had decided to suddenly pop the question. No, that wasn’t right. Clearly, he’d put a lot of planning into this evening. There was nothing sudden about his decision. And his intentions were really very sweet. But that still didn’t make it a good idea. What was he thinking?
Why would he propose to me—crazy, hot-tempered, impulsive, twenty-two-year-old me, who barely knows what she should do next week, let alone how she should spend the rest of her life and with whom?
On the other hand, did that necessarily make it a bad idea? I wouldn’t always be like this, would I? I was a whole lot more mature than I’d been even a couple of years ago. The fact that I was holding my tongue and trying to look at this thing rationally instead of just freaking out proved it, right? And I wasn’t so young. After all, I’d graduate in just a few more months, find myself out of the classroom and into the real world, and getting married was part of that, wasn’t it?
Maybe. But maybe not. I didn’t know. But I did know Garrett well enough to realize he hadn’t meant to put me on the spot deliberately. That was just the way it had turned out.
I opened my eyes and looked at Garrett. “I just wasn’t prepared, all right? This has been such a beautiful evening. Abigail wouldn’t give me specifics, but she called and told me you were taking me somewhere really nice and advised me to step up my wardrobe. So I was expecting a special evening, but I could never have imagined this! The roses, the limousine, dinner and dancing at the most elegant restaurant in the city. . . . Thank you, Garrett. I’ve had such a great time.”
“Right up until the part where I wrecked it by asking you to marry me, right?”
I pressed my lips together, annoyed by his petulant response. “That’s not what I meant and you know it. I was prepared to have a lovely time with you. I always do, whether we have dinner at the Café Carlyle or a cup of coffee at the Blue Bean, but I never in a million years expected you were going to propose.”
Garrett’s eyebrows flattened into a line. He pulled his balled-up fists out of his pockets and opened his hands, jerking his arms in an impatient gesture. “Well, why not? You said it yourself. We always have a great time together. We’re happy together, so why shouldn’t we want to be together? What’s so surprising about that?”
“Nothing, I guess. But you’re making this seem like a perfectly logical, even obvious next step. I don’t think it’s as simple as that. If two people are going to spend the rest of their lives together, there has to be more to it than just enjoying each other’s company, don’t you think?”
Garrett’s eyebrows drew apart, smoothing out the creases in his forehead. He relaxed his shoulders as if he suddenly understood everything.
“Well, sure. Of course there is! I’m sorry, Liza. I’ve never proposed before. Guess I was so focused on creating the perfect atmosphere that I left out the most important part: the actual proposal. Let me try again. I’ll do better this time.”
He took a step forward, took my hands in his, and locked his eyes onto mine. “Liza, I love you. You are the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night and the first image in my head when I wake up in the morning. You’re the smile on my face when I go to work and the song I whistle as I walk down the street. You’re the person I’ve waited for all my life. And now that I’ve found you, I want to be with you for now and forever. I love you, Liza. Please. Please, marry me.”
His whole heart shone on his face, beaming a light that melted me. He was kind, sweet, and sincere. I was so lucky to have him in my life. I knew that. And this should have been one of the happiest moments of my life. I knew that too. So why wasn’t it?
What was wrong with me? There couldn’t have been a more perfect evening, or a more beautiful and heartfelt proposal on earth. And I’d never met a man who could hold a candle to Garrett. Not one of my girlfriends would have thought for two seconds before accepting. Why was I?
“Garrett, I love you.”
His smile, which had widened with those first four words, faded as I went on. He knew. It only takes one syllable to say yes. Yes has no reservations. Yes doesn’t need to explain itself. But I did.
“And I know you love me. That wasn’t a surprise to me. I’ve known it for a long time. I bet there’s not a man on the face of the earth who is more honest and open about his feelings than you. I’m not as good about that as you are, but I’m trying to be. That’s why I can’t just say yes to you. At least . . . not right now.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” he argued. “If you really—”
I held up my hand. “Stop! Just listen to me for a minute, okay?” He stopped, the petulant look returning to his face. I took another deep breath, trying to beat back my frustration before trying again.
“Garrett, I love you. So much. But marriage is—well, it’s forever! At least, it’s supposed to be forever. And if it’s not, then I don’t want to do it. I do love you. But . . . what if love isn’t enough?”
“Liza, it will be!” he promised.
“How can you know that? How can you know that for sure? You love me now and you say you always will. I feel the same. But isn’t that what everybody says when they get married? I suppose they must mean it. But if that’s true, why is it that so many marriages don’t last?”
Garrett frowned. “So you don’t believe in marriage? You don’t believe that love can last?”
“Why would I?” I asked, throwing up my hands. “I haven’t seen many examples where it does. Have you? Your parents’ marriage didn’t last. And my father never even bothered to marry my mother. He lived with her for years and then, the minute she got pregnant with me, the second things got complicated, he took off.”
“But that’s exactly it!” he said urgently, grabbing my hands again and squeezing them. “Your father was never committed to your mother. Not the way I am to you. That’s why he never married her and that’s why he left. I’ll never do that to you, Liza. Nothing will ever, ever change my feelings for you. Not ever. Believe me.”
“I want to. I really do,” I said. “I just don’t know if I can.”
He let my hands drop from his. My palms felt suddenly empty and useless.
“So this is a no,” he said.
“I didn’t say that. I never said that. What I said . . . What I meant . . .” I stuttered, frustrated with myself and with Garrett. He was always so understanding, so why couldn’t he understand this? And me? Why was I such a complicated mess?
I didn’t want to say no, but I didn’t know how to say yes.
“Garrett, I need some time. I’ve got to sort this out in my mind. I know I love you. And I know that if I ever wanted to get married, it would be to you. But I also know that marriage scares me. No, wait,” I said, holding my hands out to interrupt myself.
“That’s not true. Marriage doesn’t scare me, but divorce does. It terrifies me. The thought that in six months or six years you could wake up and decide that you don’t love me anymore is more frightening than never having been loved in the first place. Do you know what I mean?” His expression told me he didn’t.
“Don’t look at me like that,” I said. “You had a lot of time to make up your mind, first to decide you wanted to propose and then to figure out exactly how you wanted to do it. There was nothing spur-of-the-moment about this. You said so yourself.”
His eyes were flat. I didn’t know if he was angry, or hurt, or listening intently. I moved closer, reached out with one finger, and traced a tentative path from the elbow of his jacket down to his hand, letting it rest at the end of his fingertip.
“You’ve had weeks to plan this, but it’s all new to me. Don’t I deserve some time to absorb this?”
His eyes rolled up toward the ceiling, resting there a moment while he thought about this.
“You’re right,” he said finally. “It’s a big decision. You should take some time. I want you to be sure.”
“So do I. Thanks,” I said, relieved. “I’ve got to ask you something. Did Abigail know you were going to propose tonight?”
“She asked me where we were going to dinner and I told her—after making her promise not to tell you and spoil the surprise, which obviously did a lot of good—but I never told her I was going to ask you to marry me.”
I nodded. “Maybe it would be better if, just for now, we kept this to ourselves. You know how it is in New Bern. There’s no such thing as a secret. I don’t think either of us wants to deal with the pressure we’d be subjected to if people knew we were thinking about getting engaged.”
“I guess.” He shrugged. “But there’s just one thing.” He reached his hand into his pocket, pulled out the blue jewelry box, and opened it.
I’d been so shocked to see Garrett sinking to one knee when we were on the dance floor that I really hadn’t had a chance to look at the ring. It was exquisite, a brilliant square-cut diamond in a simple, wide platinum setting, very modern and sleek and exactly what I’d have picked if I’d chosen it myself. Garrett knew me so well.
“What should we do with this? I know you don’t want to wear it, but . . . do you think you might just want to hold on to it? For a little while. Just until you make up your mind?”
He held out the ring and looked at me with spaniel eyes. I knew it didn’t make sense for me to take the ring until I could give him a definitive yes, but he looked so miserable. I just didn’t have the heart to turn him down a second time.
“If you want me to,” I said.
“I do.” He took the ring out of the jewelry box and laid it in my open palm. It felt awkward, holding it without actually putting it on.
“Wait a minute. I’ve got an idea.”
I handed the ring back to Garrett, dug into my evening bag, and pulled out a thin silver chain. “I had this left over from one of my jewelry projects,” I explained before threading the chain through the ring and putting it around my neck. The chain was long, so the ring dangled just beneath my silver choker, almost like I’d added a diamond pendant to the silver piece. Later, I’d be able to wear it u
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