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The Engagement Ring by Shereen Vedam
Gumshoe Review Short Story  ISBN/ITEM#: TER
Date: 01 May 2009 /

The Engagement Ring


By Shereen Vedam

Maria twirled her old-fashioned engagement ring until the large central diamond and surrounding chips of amber glinted in the morning light.

"Why don't you return it?" Nate asked his sister, mesmerized by the restless twirl of light and color.

Since her breakup, Maria never stood still for a moment. Like those stones, his sister felt forever awhirl without the man who once proclaimed to love her at her side.

She shoved the ring into his hand. "Will you keep it safe? In case he tries to take it back?"

The dark circles under her eyes spoke of sleepless nights. Guilt reared and he squirreled it away, like repacking an annoying Jack-in-the-box. Iím a cop, how could I not warn her about Steveís family being notorious jewel thieves? Even if Steven Fenton claimed to be a law-abiding citizen, his father and sister were known, wanted criminals.

After Maria left, Nate put the engagement ring in his bedroom wall safe and went for his shower. Tomorrow he'd have a long talk with her, see if there was anything he could do to ease her hurt. Maybe propose a trip to take her mind off the infamous Fentons.

Later that night, Nate returned home ready to forget police work and finish his thriller. It was either that or troll bars for a date. The book was less complicated than women. In his line of work, he found it hard to know whom to trust.

Ice cold beer within arm's reach on the coffee table, he was slouched on the sofa and well into chapter eight when he sensed something was wrong...and not with the severed arm found washed ashore in the novel. He listened for the unusual and out of place. The bedroom. Muscles tensed, Nate retrieved his gun and furtively approached the room. The door was ajar. He peered in. There was a movement by the safe.

He flung open the door, clicked on the light, and pointed his weapon. "Hands over your head."

The thief did as he bid Ė no argument, no sprint to the window, no gun aimed back at him. With great care, Nathan cuffed his prisoner. He turned the thief around and ripped off the black mask.

Black curls tumbled out and blue eyes flashed with resentment. Her mug shots didn't do her justice.

Storm Fenton.

Steven's sister. He'd heard Storm had retired from crime. Quit the business to build a new life. Guess new habits were hard to break in.

Her frank gaze and beautiful angular features were similar to her brotherís. Nate had wanted to check out Stevenís family connections because of that uncanny resemblance.

"Ms. Fenton," he said. "Come to retrieve a ring?"

Her slight smile was full of self-derision. "It belongs to my family."

"I doubt it. You probably stole it from some poor sap before Steven gave it to Maria."

Her dark blue eyes narrowed.

"No answer?"

"None you would believe."

He reached for his cellular phone. "Try me," he suggested, as he dialed.

"The ring has been passed down on the female side of my family. It's tradition for a woman to present it to a man she could love forever."

"Then why did Steven use it as his engagement ring?"

"I asked him to," she whispered. "It seemed he had truly fallen in love."

Her resigned look startled him. "What if you fell in love?"

She shook her head, her swinging dark hair denying the possibility. "That won't ever happen."

Enough talk. This conversation was probably a distraction so she could escape. He led her to the living room and sat her on a chair opposite the couch. He gave the desk sergeant instructions to send a squad car to his condo and then planted himself across from her, gun aimed straight. This was one collar he didn't intend to screw up. He had captured one of the elusive Fentons.

She looked at the thriller on the table. A smile curved her full sensual lips as she craned to read the back blurb. She was a gorgeous woman, smart and articulate. So why give up on falling in love? Was the excitement of criminal life so alluring? Even at the expense of a rich personal life? No, that wasn't right. She had supposedly given up on her life of crime, until tonight.

"You must still believe in love," he said, surprised to hear himself speak, "if you care about that family tradition with the ring."

"It's true," she said swiftly, her forthright gaze flying to his.

"Then why are you so sure you won't fall in love?"

She blinked. "How can I, when I never know whom to trust?"

The question shocked him, for it mirrored his thoughts earlier tonight. "Guess you have to take a chance," he said, "one person at a time."

She looked as surprised by his words as he felt.

A knock interrupted her response. The police had arrived. He left to answer. He returned to find the couch empty. The curtains by the open window fluttered. He ran to check the ledge. Vanished with the night wind. He sent the officers to search the perimeter while he called his sister. Then his eyes caught the gleam of a diamond ring on the couch, lying trustingly within the curves of a pair of empty cuffs.

The next morning, after a restless night dreaming of a woman with captivating blue eyes, Nate returned to work, ready to face the jokes about his "big" non-capture. Everyone stared at him in silence and, could that be awe? Confused, he approached his captain's office and, through the glass partition, saw Storm Fenton inside.

"What's she doing here?" he asked a nearby officer.

"Giving a statement. Seems you convinced her to turn herself in. How'd you do that?"

At that moment, Storm turned. He saw trust in her cobalt gaze. To his shock, a warm glow suddenly sprouted near his heart.

About the Author:

Shereen Vedam is a Data Coordinator during the weekdays and a writer on the weekends. She lives on beautiful Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Several of her short stories have been published by The Wild Rose Press, one by Wildside Press and another by On The Premises. Her first love is fantasy and her second love is regency but all of her writings incorporate elements of mystery and romance. Her website is at www.shereenvedam.com.

The Engagement Ring © Shereen Vedam, May 2010.

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