She strode into the reception as if she owned the place. That was the point, actually. She had to look like she belonged at this wedding. If she did that, surely no one would be suspicious, even if they happened to notice her in the throng of relatives and friends.
A fast song was playing, just her luck. The table she wanted was straight across the dance floor, beyond hundreds of writhing bodies. And, of course, most of them knew her. “Great,” she muttered.
But she had to go on with this. It was all she had thought about since visiting her sister. So she hugged the decorated box closer to her chest and squeezed through the first layer of dancers.
The table in question was occupied by five people, most of them related to each other. There was the aunt, an uptight and upright sort of woman; there was the cousin, who was putting herself through law school at the moment; and the niece, both the beauty of the family and the spoiled one. Also there were the aunt’s-husband-the-governor, and the niece’s new boyfriend, a brawny fellow in a leather jacket.
The aunt frowned at the jacket as they all sat down, finally, to start the meal. “Excuse me, young man, but this is a wedding. Not a bar.”
“Auntie!” squealed the niece, then she turned to the boyfriend. “Don’t worry, hunk, you look gorgeous.”
They shared a quick kiss as the aunt looked on in horror, mostly at the usage of the word hunk.
All three were interrupted by the sound of the cousin clearing her throat. “I’m sorry to butt into the middle of this little exchange, but I think you may want to look at this.” She pointed to the center of the table.
There, lying equidistant from every place at the table, was a velvet-lined box, the lid of which had been removed to reveal-
“A necklace!” squealed the niece. “Oh, it’s so gorgeous! Are those real diamonds, they’re gigantic!” She reached for the box but was stopped short when the cousin smacked her hand away.
“Paws off,” she growled. “Look at the note.”
Sure enough, there was a paper napkin taped on top of the jewelry:
Hey Beautiful. Bought this for you.
“Obviously,” said the cousin to the other women, “he means me, seeing as you two are already taken.”
The aunt disagreed. “In my day I had all the town boys after me. I’m sure he means me.”
“I’m sorry?” squeaked the niece. “But are you two blind? Look at me! Clearly I’m the Beautiful one this guy was talking about!”
“You tell them, doll,” rumbled the boyfriend. “But if this Admirer guy comes after you I might have to take care of him.”
“Oh, you’re so sweet, hunk,” giggled the niece.
The cousin spoke again before they could say any more. “On the outside, yes, maybe you’re the prize winner,” she said to the niece. “But there’s inner beauty, too. Meaning brains. Smarts. So, really, you see it’s meant for me.”
The aunt scoffed. “Please! You two are nothing compared to my beauty- inside and outside! Dear, tell them!” she shrieked to her husband-the-governor.
The husband massaged the bridge of his nose for the longest time. “You know I’ll never judge this fairly, dear. I don’t know who this boy meant, but I’m not about to hold a beauty contest.”
Then he snapped his fingers. “I know. That boy down the street, what’s his name- London? Tokyo?”
“Paris, dear,” the aunt said.
“Yes, Paris.” The husband nodded. “We’ll let him decide. He’s a judge at all the talent shows these days, and he’s such a nice boy. Let’s pay him a visit. It’s better than having me decide this, at any rate.”
Stay tuned for the epic conclusion, The Diamond Necklace: Part 3!
Also, who guessed what the myth is? Come on, I know you know!