Gently stroking Fluffy’s shiny white coat, his nose tucked under her thigh, Mia sat on the leather couch listening to the shriek of the doorbell.
“What big hair you have, sis? Debbie giggled. “All of it looks better when tied up in a bun.”
Dressed in a knee-length, floral maxi dress and nude heals; her sister’s bubbly persona and the aroma of her jasmine perfume, circled the room. Debbie’s beaming appearance only added to Mia’s suspicion.
“It still isn’t funny after the hundredth time.” Sensing Mia’s distance, Debbie sat herself on the divan. The abrupt ending to the phone call made an hour ago, instructing her to come over, was puzzling.
“My diamond ring is missing,” Mia formally announced.
“The pink one mom left you?” Debbie watched the lines on her sister’s forehead crease.
“I’d it on yesterday morning. Then, you and Dave came over for dinner,” said Mia. “The last I remember seeing it was on my dressing table. Didn’t you go upstairs to use the bathroom in my room?”
“Yes, I did. But, I left the room when I heard Jake on a call in there,” she explained. “I just needed to powder my nose and Dave was using the one downstairs. “
“I know you took it, Debbie!” Mia yelled, locking Debbie in an icy stare. Fluffy’s nose dug into her thighs, indicating his discomfort over her raised voice.
The pink diamond ring was a family heirloom and had belonged to their father’s great- grandmother. She’d been gifted it by her first love, a man thought to have been an angel, living temporarily on earth. One morning, he’d left the ring on her pillow alongside a note explaining the reason for his departure and how much his heart longed to beat beside hers. Few months later, she’d met and married their great-grandfather, holding onto the ring as a memory of her first love. The love story surrounding the ring had possessed Debbie to desire it. To Debbie’s disappointment, their mother had left it in the will, to be cared for by the eldest in the family. For Mia, it symbolized power over her enviable sister. She’d made it a point to wear it every time Debbie and her boyfriend, Dave, came over.
“Mia, I promise, I didn’t take the ring,” Debbie’s voice deepened as tears formed. “Mom left it to you and I’ve accepted that.”
“Oh, please Debbie, you’ve this new glow about you. Like you’ve got what you wanted.”
“Yes, I did. Dave asked me to marry him,” said Debbie, “I know this isn’t about the ring, sis. You haven’t forgiven me about dad; but, you needn’t frame me.”
“Oh! I’m not--,” Mia hadn’t expected her sister’s sharp response.
Unlike Mia, who had an hour-glass figure, Debbie’s was proportionate and toned. Both, blessed with flawless skin; except, her sister’s were desirable facial features. Their mother had reiterated the upsetting fact that the eldest’s genes resembled hers and Debbie’s had their father’s. Mia hadn’t forgiven her sister for robbing her of their father’s goodnight kiss, the night before his crash.
They’d fought over the ring, when Mia was twelve and Debbie, six. Her father’s disappointed look, as he sent Mia away to her room for pushing her sister, was the last image imprinted in her thoughts. He’d passed away, the next day in an accident on his way to work.
“Dad loved me too, you know.” This wasn’t how Mia pictured the confrontation. She never once thought her sister would bring up the subject of her grudge.
“I am sure mom left me that ring out of pity,” Mia began sobbing loudly. Peacefully dying in her sleep, she’d left behind Mia and her unresolved issues.
“No, you’re wrong. She loved you and so did dad,” Holding Mia close, Debbie let her sister weep. “When I visited mom a few days before her unexpected passing, she’d told me she wanted you to have the ring, a piece of her, because you shut her out after dad died. Also, the last thing I saw dad do was kiss you goodnight and wink at me, sis.”
“He kissed me!” Mia’s grief stricken face suddenly lighting up with joy. “Thank you for telling me.”
“Mia, I’ve wanted to tell you, but the guilt…”
“It’s over, sis. I forgive myself and I know now, it will get easier to heal slowly." Mia smiled."Let me brew us a pot of tea. We need to toast to our new beginnings of togetherness and your proposal.”
Pleasant, unsaid emotions, covered their silence as they sipped tea, watching Fluffy whimper in his sleep on the patio floor.
“So, how did Dave ask you to marry him?”
“Well, he didn’t propose on his knees,” laughed Debbie. “He slid a rubber band on my ring finger, whilst we were lying in bed.
“That’s romantic! Mia exclaimed. “I love spur-of-the-moment acts. Wish Jake would surprise me.”
“Mia, if that’s how you feel, you need to say it outright. No one can read minds; apart from us women that is.” Debbie chuckled.
Mia met Jake at an art exhibition hosted by him in his gallery. Spending the evening drinking coffee together and from then on sharing their thoughts on art had slowly taken a turn to Mia’s home. There they both stayed, not discussing anything about settling down or kids; though, Mia secretly wanted it.
“Now that you’ve ruled me out as a suspect,” asked Debbie, “where or who took the diamond ring?”
“Good question. I ransacked the house before you came, but couldn’t find it.”
“Oh no!” cried out Debby, “I think I overheard Jake talk on the phone to someone about a ring, yesterday.”
“He stole my ring?”
“Mia, there you go again. Don’t be silly!” her sister scolded, “He must’ve taken it to propose to you? Maybe he wants what you want. Oh, that is so sweet!
“You guys come over tonight”, suggested Mia, “and talk about your engagement. I’ll act like I haven’t heard the news. Jake will see my excitement and propose with my ring”
Owning a catering business meant, Mia can host dinner parties and get-together's, effortlessly. As the chef prepared a three –course set menu in her kitchen, she searched through her closet, looking for something in red to wear. It was too late to go out and buy a new outfit. Settling on a silk, navy blue, sleeveless dress, Mia smiled at her reflection in her dressing table mirror. She heard Jake’s footsteps making its way up the stairs.
“You look gorgeous.” Jake nibbled at her neck. “I may ask them to leave early.”
“Why, is there something you want to ask me?” Mia smiled, standing up facing him.
“Ok, I was waiting for the perfect moment to give you this.” Taking out a small gift from his pocket, he handed it to her. Feeling the outer part of the box, Mia tore off the wrap on it, hoping in her heart it was the ring. Flipping the cover open, her eyes fixed themselves on a golden key on a key ring in the box.
“It’s the key to our new home.” Jake explained, “I know I moved in here when you asked me to, although, in my mind I’ve always wanted to buy a place where we can both be comfortable in. Are you happy?”
“I --,” Jake reached out to hug her, ignoring her shocked expression.
He sold my ring to buy a house? Mia’s thoughts were fuming.
“…and that is how I was proposed by Dave.” Ending her story nudging Mia under the table, Debbie dipped her spoon into the crème-brulee.
“You’ve been awfully quiet, sis.” Clearing up the dishes from the dishwasher, Mia revealed her suspicions about Jake. She’d decided sometime during the dinner to confront him in front of everyone, so he wouldn’t have any room to deny taking it.
“Don’t jump to conclusions,” Debbie whispered. “It isn’t worth losing your love over a ring,” she said, walking behind Mia, whose rage was beginning to take shape. They walked towards the garden patio-only to see- Jake and Dave standing next to her dog-who lay on the floor making strange growling sounds in his throat.
“What happened to Fluffy?” Mia ran towards her Labrador. “We’ve to take him to the vet.”
If she’d to ever choose between- Jake or Fluffy- there wasn’t any doubt in her mind that her furry mate would be the one she’d want. Right now, he seemed to be in pain.
Fluffy stood up, staggering and swaying little before vomiting.
“What is that shinning in his vomit?” Dave walked up to check. “Is that a ring?
Making her way to where Dave was pointing, Mia was stunned to see her pink diamond ring lying there, reflecting the patio lights. She kicked at the ring to move it to a dry surface.
“What ring? Jake questioned them.
“Well, it’s now going to be the ring I’ll present Debbie on her wedding day. I’ve had enough excitement owning it.” Mia winked at Debbie.
Turning to Jake, Mia reached out to hug him tight.
“Jake, I know what I want from you. A diamond ring,”