I clutched my cup of coffee as Betty said," Oh sweetie, I guess I'm going to be the one to tell you this, its rumored Dade Lampart is gay!"
I dropped my cup and the coffee splashed across the tabletop. I gaped at my friend and whispered,"You mean he goes with men?"
"Thats what we've heard and I guess he thought he could hide it from you." Betty mopped up the coffee with napkins as she talked.
"But why did he want to date me, and then marry me?"
Betty frowned, "I can't say for sure but I've got an idea."
I leaned in closer to her. "You know, I wondered why he never wanted to go to bed with me. But why me, what did he want?"
"Lindy," Betty hesitated for a minute, "There was gossip. You see talk gets around even in a city as large as Dallas. I heard a few years ago about his father's will. In it his daddy said, 'if he didn't straighten out and marry before he was forty-five years old, he would lose his inheritance. Everythig would go to charity.'"
I sat speechless as Betty went on.
"I can't say for sure, but I'd guess he's going to be that soon!"
"You mean that's why he's been dating me?" I whispered again.
"Honey I'm sorry, but I can't imagine he's changed his stripes."
After Betty went back to work, I sat dazed at what she'd told me, then humilated and used. I wondered what he'd planned to do with me after marriage? The future suddenly looked bleak. First, I'd met a con man who only wanted my insurance money and now a gay one, who needed me to save his inheritance.
As I shifted in the booth, the edge of the diamond ring that I had slipped in my pocket, caught against my hip. I put my hand down and felt the outline of that huge stone.
Was it a bad witch that put a smile at the corner of my lip?
I left the coffee shop and hailed a taxi, and in front of a jewelry shop I asked the driver to wait a minute for me. I smiled at the friendly jeweler, and asked, "would you be so kind and check my ring, I think the stone is loose."
"My goodness, you sure wouldn't want to lose this. Just give me a minute." He put on his glasses as he sat at his work-table. His light sparked on the stone and the platinum band. And after a short time, he said. "there now Miss, it's fine." He smiled and handed it back to me.
"Thank you," I said. "I'm getting married next week, and I sure wouldn't want anyting to happen to this."
"It's in perfect shape now," he said.
I ran a finger over the stone and the rich band. "You know, I told my boy-friend not to spend a lot of money on a ring, but I'm sure he did."
The jeweler smiled at me. "Well, I say you're a lucky girl!"
I returned his smile and asked shyly, "just between us, what would he have paid? I promise not to tell!"
"Oh, I'd say around fifty thousand dollars."
I gasped. "I knew it, I should have gone along with him, it's going to take us years to pay for this!" I said to him.
Minutes later, I was back in my room at the motel. I took the ring off my finger and felt the weight. Fifty thousand dollars, the jeweler had said. I had to think!
Could I marry Dade and live this lie? I'd have money and security. I put the ring back on my finger and wiggled it in the sunshine. It was beautaiful! And I could have more, if what Betty said was true, he didn't have much more time, apparently to find another bride.
I yawned, it was early afternoon and the effects of being up all night and Dade's cruelity caught up with me. I got into bed then and slept through the day, and woke up at midnight, feeling rested, and with a plan.
As if I would go along with his twisted idea, I mumbled disgusted. Dade Lampart, this just cost you!
Then I remembered, it had been a week since I had placed that ad in the Dallas newspaper, and I needed to check my post office box.