This is the sixteenth chapter in the story of Alexis, her ancestors, and the heirloom pearl necklace that is handed down from one generation to the next. If you haven’t read the previous chapters yet, click here.
Alexis opens her eyes to slits, shielding them from the sun and reaching for her sunglasses. She feels around, blinded by the sun, only to touch Max’s hand.
“Oh,” she smiles, the memories of the past few days floating back to her. Turquoise ocean. Bleached-out beaches. Palm trees and open skies. Pure bliss.
Not that they haven’t been working. Max threw her when he announced this curious honeymoon. They were going to French Polynesia – to work. At first she was irritated. But she soon warmed to the idea. And boy, has it been worth it.
“It just so happens that there is a very interesting pearl farming practice developing in French Polynesia,” Max explained over his coffee in the half dawn at the airport. “And that our company has some interest there.”
“I don’t understand. Are we going to do business on our honeymoon?”
Max laughed. “Always so serious. Kind of. But haven’t you been reading letters every year on your birthday about those pearls around your neck for the past how many years?”
“And didn’t you plan the whole wedding and the favors and your accessories according to the symbolic meaning of pearls?”
She nodded again, a slow smile spreading on her face. She had been quite annoyed when Max told her how early they had to get up. But now things were starting to make sense.
“So,” he said finally, taking her hand. “I called in a favor. Now we’re going to see where pearls come from.”
They landed on an island so small it looked like a wave could take it out. There they were met by Timmy, one of the pearl farm workers, who led them to a boat, which took them to an even smaller island, where they arrived at their tiny cabin on the beach.
“This is your island for the next month,” he announced. And Alexis did a double-take. “Our island?!”
He smiled. “And your oysters,” he added, pointing to a stretch of ocean and a tiny motorboat a few hundred yards away. “I’ll be back tomorrow morning to show you which ones you’ll be monitoring.”
Just long enough to still be here for Valentine’s Day, she thought. But she soon forgot, since the days and nights blended into another with early morning pearl expeditions and long afternoons of sunsets over a quiet, turquoise ocean.
Suddenly Max sits upright next to her. “What day is it?” he asks.
Alexis shrugs. “I don’t know. Why is it important?”
He looks at her, as if he wants to say something, then changes his mind. “I’ll be right back,” he says and takes off across the beach in the direction of the boats.
“Max! What?” But he is already too far away to hear. “What the….?”
She decides to hop in the shower while she waits. It’s when she emerges a bit later, feeling a bit worried about Max, that she sees it: in the distance is a tiny table, Max trotting around packing out a picnic basket. A single light on the table as the sun starts to sink away over the sea. A small bunch of wildflowers stands proudly in the middle of the table. She smiles and starts walking closer.
“What is this?” she asks, still smiling, hands on her hips. Max gives her a sheepish smile. “Well, we should have at least one romantic dinner on our honeymoon – don’t you think?”
Alexis bursts out laughing. “You are crazy!”
“Wait till you see what I found,” he says, pulling out a chair for her and pointing to a coconut bowl in the middle of the table. Alexis peers inside and her breath catches in her throat.
“A black pearl?! How?!”
Max looks proud. “I’ve been keeping an eye out,” he says. “I asked Jimmy to help. He brought the food too. I thought we might not find one in time, but then he found it yesterday morning, all the way out by the furthest oysters.”
Alexis melts. “Oh Max, you are a darling.”
He beams. “You didn’t think I’d forget Valentine’s Day, did you?”