It was the first time he’d brought anyone out to his family’s country estate, let alone a single woman from London. His family was properly polite. His mother smiled but didn’t say a word. The staff kept their whispers to a low murmur. But he could tell they were all thinking the same thing: Who did she think she was, showing up here in that dress, wearing that ring?
The men tried not to stare, opting for sideways glances in between courses. But the women openly ogled. They followed the ring on her finger like the swinging pocketwatch of a hypnotist, until she finally caught on and addressed the big blue elephant in the room. "It was my grandmother’s," she said. "Don’t you just LOVE it?" She thrust it forward like a proud parent, twisting it to reflect the light from the candlelabras. "It’s chalcedony. My Gran told me that it has the power to transform melancholy into joy."
His mother finally spoke. "How perfectly wonderful for you both," she said. And the look she gave made it clear to him that the night was just getting interesting.