New York City
Sitting in the restaurant, Eve looked out at the fountain just outside the window. Water flowed down the rocky surfaces, splashing in a sparkling rain that pooled over a gravel base. Wishing she could hear the trickle of the water, she looked at John.
John had a strange look on his face, as if he was completely elated about something, like he was about to burst. He then moved his hand into his jacket pocket and in a slow motion movement, pulled out a small, plush maroon box. Eve watched as the box slowly opened, her hand beginning to tremble.
The cheerful din of the restaurant seemed suddenly silent as he slid the ring onto her finger. The stone sparkled brilliantly in the candle light enhanced by the tears forming in her eyes.
John gazed into her eyes and whispered, "Eve would you marry me?" He paused silently, watching Eve's eyes, awaiting her answer.
She savored the moment, wanting to memorize everything about it, but knowing she wouldn't remember a thing, she finally, after a long slow breath, replied, "Yes, I will marry you." In the moments that followed, she noticed the sound returning to the room and the people moving around her.
After carefully arranging and counting the many stones, Saul put them into the velvet lined bag. Pausing a moment to watch the first signs of snow through his window; he walked back to their vault, twisted the dial first right, then left, then right again, opened the door and gently placed the bag inside. Counting all the bags in the vault, he grabbed the door, closed it slowly and then spun the dial several times.
Walking slowly from the vault room, he stepped back into his office, grabbed his coat and scarf and passed through the heavy curtain to the front of his shop. Pausing a moment while he looked over the room, inventorying in his mind, counting and cataloguing, he then stepped out from behind the counter.
"Grin, I'm leaving early today, why don't you go home too."
"Thank you Saul, you have a Merry Holiday," she replied, shuffling some papers into her drawer.
"And you also. Enjoy your family."
Saul stepped into the corridor, looking forward to getting home. Grin would lock up and follow shortly he thought, as he stepped out of the building and cut across the gravel covered planting area.
Jukina ran his fingers through the washed gravel in the wooden box, deliberately removing several stones. Holding them up to the light, he wondered how anyone would be interested in such dull stones. He liked the odd colored ones he often found in the creek beds, but alas, no one paid him for those. Looking up at his soldiers he said, "Ah, an excellent find. This will buy many guns, brothers, many guns."
The men nodded, smiling at their leader. Many guns were good, always good.
From a distance, all looked peaceful, but moving closer it was apparent something was wrong. The stench at the hut was unbearable and it buzzed with the sounds of flies. Stains on the pathway were foreboding, dark brown footprints leading from the hut. The mother's and children's bodies were inside the house, killed where they slept. The father's body still hung from a porch rafter at the back of the house, his blood dripping into the box that once held a small quantity of gravel. AK-47 shell casings littered the ground inside the house and in the yard outside.
New York City
Back home, Eve excitedly showed the ring to her mother, moving her hand in and out of the shadows, watching the ring sparkle in the bright kitchen light. Her face beamed as she whispered, "Oh mother, I am so happy."
Her father reached a hand out to John and said jokingly, "Well it's about time you two." He blinked back tears as he focused his eyes on the polished gravel lining the small potted plant on the windowsill. Looking to his wife he said, "I wonder how much all this is going to cost me."
"Oh Fred," Eve's mother replied. "Don't you worry Eve, I'm not going to let this humbug spoil your wedding. Just let him try, I'll show him who is boss."
Sitting in the chair next to Eve, her father gently took her hand whispering, "Now let me get a look at the ring." Holding her hand up in the light, they all looked as it sparkled.
They never saw the blood set so deeply in the diamond.