The young man spoke reverently, his breath fogging the display case. He was leaning in so far over her ring that his long, narrow nose nearly touched the black velvet box.
Crocus Malone fidgeted with her purse, wondering unkindly if a man had to have a nose like a cheese knife to be a jeweler.
“I’ve only seen one other like it,” he remarked, lifting the ring to let the light catch in the diamond. She noted the shiny ring on his left hand. A newlywed.
“Where did you say you got it?” he was asking.
“I didn’t,” she snapped. The young man’s wounded expression made her remember her manners.
“I didn’t say,” she tried again.
“Mrs. Malone, do you have a few moments?” the young man asked.
His voice was even and melodic, and above his blade of a nose, his eyes were a liquid chocolate kind of color that touched a long hidden bruise, just there, under her heart. Crocus Malone had all the time in the world for eyes like those.
“I have a few minutes, yes,” she replied.
He wound his way from behind the display, dusted off a Queen Anne chair, and gallantly offered her a seat.
“I’d like my grandfather to see this. Can I take it upstairs?” the young man asked. “He still lives above the shop.”
“Of course,” she said with a regal nod. She settled herself in the chair and looked around.
The store looked like change, she thought. The displays were old, the items lovingly arranged, but dusty. A laptop computer behind the display and the new track lighting above suggested the young man’s influence.
She had gone to the library to use the computers. This jeweler’s name had come up quickly in the search. The young woman who showed her how to use Google had looked like Marlene Dietrich in A Foreign Affair.
Crocus Malone had always wanted to look like Marlene Dietrich, but she was more of a Mae West. And only one man had ever said that about her.
The melodic young man had returned. “This is my grandfather–”
“Oscar Donovan,” she whispered.
“Crocus Parker,” the elder Mr. Donovan smiled, his brown eyes filling with tears.
“Malone,” she corrected him.
“You were never going to sell it?” Oscar asked her, making his way through the shop to help her up from the Queen Anne chair.
“I had thought to, yes,” she admitted, her own tears trailing quietly down her face “Though it has always meant a great deal to me.”
Oscar handed her back the velvet box. Sixty-five years rewound as she took it, just as she had before, in his grandfather’s shop. He had worn its mate on his right pinky.
Dropping the velvet box into her purse, she turned his hands over. Like hers, the skin had grown papery, knuckles gnarled, fingers thick. Like hers, grown too old to wear a fine ring.
She looked up at Oscar, the question clear in her eyes. He couldn’t find words to answer.
Only then did the younger Mr. Donovan speak again.
“May I show you something, Mrs. Malone?”
She looked away from the mingled joy and sorrow in Oscar’s eyes.
The young man held a photograph, black and white, but new, of a bride’s bouquet. The unusual ring on the bride’s slender finger was the twin to her own.
This story was inspired by a convergence of prompts. The Studio 30+ weekly prompt: Serendipity, Mama Kat’s prompt #1: A story of love, and Magpie Tales photo prompt #57, below.