He feared what Natalie might do after he died, with no job to distract her. He imagined her sitting alone in the midst of a Maine winter, growing ever more depressed, losing the last of the spark that had made her the delight of his life. He weighed the cinched pouch of velvet in his hands for another moment, then took it with him back in the kitchen. He handed her a handkerchief and then, as she wiped her eyes and blew her nose, tipped the contents of the pouch into his palm. He caught hold of the gold chain. The gold-filigreed pendant dangled. It bore the image, in vitreous enamel, of a peacock, a perfect gemstone staring from the tip of each painted feather.
She flinched when she saw it, as if it were not a pretty little art nouveau bauble but something hideous to contemplate.
"Ugh," she said.
"What 's wrong?"
"I wish I'd listened to you. You didn't want me to wear it at the wedding, and I did anyway. And now I'll think of him every time I look at it and feel ashamed."
"That hardly seems fair. After all, I had this necklace long before you and Daniel were even born."
"Did you buy it for Grandma, or did she inherit it?"
"Neither. It was mine."
"It wasn't Grandma's?"
"Are you serious? Why did you tell me it was hers? That 's the only reason I wore it!"
"I never told you it was hers. Why would I tell you that, when it wasn't?"
She narrowed her eyes, trying to remember.
"Huh," she said, as if to concede the point. "Well, whose was it? Your mother's?"
"Well, that 's the thing. I don't know." He could see the glimmer of interest in her eyes, a revival of the spark that had, until recently, always flickered in the eyes of Natalie Stein. He was going to feed that small fire with whatever tinder came to hand. "That 's why I need your help."
Excerpted from Love and Treasure by Ayelet Waldman. Copyright © 2014 by Ayelet Waldman. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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