“My darling, you look magnificent tonight.” He bent to kiss his wife’s neck as he fastened the clasp of the gold necklace.
Lilianna’s face remained passive. “Yes, how very thoughtful of you. Your secretary has such exquisite taste.” She allowed her dulled eyes to meet her husband’s in the mirror.
He turned away to reach for his tie and handed it to her. “You will wear your new bauble to the reception tonight. We are meeting the new Russian ambassador. It is not yet widely spread, but he will take my place next month. Our time here in America will end soon, and we can return home.”
“And what have we there?” she asked as she tightened the knot. She regretted being unable to keep the bitterness from her voice.
He grasped her shoulders. “Family. We have our family there. We will return to our roots, to our homeland. We will return to the glory that is due our service these many years.” He chucked her under the chin. “We have done very well here, and will be repaid for many years to come.”
* * * * *
The affair was grand, indeed. Lilianna smiled at all the right people, turned her shoulder to those who were not, behaved just as she had been trained these many years.
She kept her eyes on the time, and offered her excuses at five minutes prior to her short tryst.
Certain no one had seen her, she slipped to the side alley and into his car. She fell into his arms.
“Oh, Brian,” she whispered. “Our time together is so short.” She took his face in her hands, caressing. “How can I thank you for what you have meant to me, how you have saved my sanity in this crazy life I must lead?”
“Lilianna, my love, surely you cannot leave with him! Come away with me!”
“You know we could never do that. They would search for us and find us, and that would be the end.” She paused and looked out the window. “But maybe that would be a better end than what I will have back home.”
In another twenty minutes she joined her husband, and took his arm.
“My dear!” He took her hand. “The music starts again. Shall we dance?”
They had just stepped onto the floor when his eyes dropped to her neck. He stopped abruptly. “Where is the necklace?”
Eyes wide, her hand went to her throat.
He shook her. “Where is the necklace?”
“I – I don’t know,” she stammered. “I had it on. It must have fallen off. I don’t know!”
He took her roughly by the hand and led her off the floor. “Show me. Show me exactly where you have been tonight. Exactly!”
Her face turned ashen as she took a moment. “Did you see it on me when we arrived?”
“Yes, yes. When we took off your coat at the entrance, it was there. We were together until I went off with the new ambassador. Where did you go?”
She walked to the reception area, retraced her steps around the rooms where she’d mingled and drunk, even to the ladies room. She looked at her husband repeatedly, her eyes reflecting astonishment at how agitated he was over the loss of a necklace, how wild his eyes looked. Of course it was a lovely necklace, of Soviet Rose gold, but really a mere trinket compared with her other jewelry.
Now he had called in security, and black-suited men scattered about surreptitiously, eyes darting into dark corners, casting suspicious glances at other guests. Surveillance cameras were inspected.
* * * * *
City headlines the next day blared the headlines that the Russian ambassador and his wife were found dead in their hotel room.
A lesser story, three sections back, gave few details of a man named Brian found murdered, his ransacked Toyota Matrix two miles away.
* * * * *
Ten years passed. Time had not been good to the little Toyota Matrix, and it was rather mangled by now. But, with a little TLC in the right hands, it proved to be a blessing to a nice family for a couple of years, even facing up to the challenge of the Tennessee mountains. The engine eventually blew though, and the family had to say goodbye to their trusty friend. A few days after they relegated it to a junk yard, the husband returned to it, to retrieve the seats that would prove useful for another vehicle. He was dumbfounded to discover a gold necklace under the middle console.
* * * * *
Some days later, a Mr. Smythe stepped into his home and was met by his wife, who stood on tiptoe to kiss him hello. She looked into his eyes. “That’s quite a twinkle you have today, my dear. You’ve not been seeing someone on the side, have ye?”
Mr. Smythe held his wife closely and smiled a dreamy smile. “Darlin’, you mind well my old job, from which I am happily retired?”
“With the government?” She pulled back a bit. “That smile doesn’a mean you’re a-thinkin’ to return to it, surely?”
“Oh, na, love, never you fear. But the good Lord has handed us a blessing this day, that I could use my old experiences and intertwine them with this job that I love nowadays.”
“Being a jeweler?” Now her eyes twinkled.
He went on to explain. Last week a nice man had come in and handed him a necklace. “Fourteen karat Soviet Rose gold. I knew it right off. I told him, though, I’d have it priced for him by Monday.” But, due to Mr. Smythe’s knowledge and experience, he’d known to look a bit deeper. “I canna tell you more my love, but my contact flew in that night to receive what I’d found. Many mysteries long past will be solved with this new piece of evidence.”
“With the necklace?” pondered his persistent wife.
“Ah no, love. The necklace goes back to the lovely man brought it in. ‘Twas the tiny dot impressed upon it. I wouldn’a known to look, but for my old job and our Lord’s grace.” He took his wife’s face in his hands and kissed her rightly. “Isn’t our God grand! He bringeth all things to His light, for His glory!”
Leave it to my Amy to get a real-life surprise that provided an intriguing springboard for all kinds of stories to conjure up. The story above is what I came up with.
What actually happened:
Amy’s family did buy a Toyota Matrix a couple of years back; it did take them through the mountains of Tennessee; the engine later blew, and he took it to a junkyard; he went back for the seats and found the necklace under the console; they took the necklace first to a pawn shop, but then to a jeweler to get a real appraisal; it is 14k Soviet Rose Gold; the necklace was worth far more than the pawn shop offered.
Amy! Please post anything else related.