This is the thirteenth chapter in the story of Alexis, her ancestors, and the heirloom pearl necklace that are handed down from one generation to the next. If you haven’t read the previous chapters yet, click here.
Alexis frowns. Her mother is standing at her front door.
“What are you doing here?”
“Well, that’s a way to greet your mother! I’m here to take you out for coffee.”
Alexis suppresses a sigh. This is not how she was planning to spend her Saturday. Holed up in bed was more like it, but her mother doesn’t have to know that.
“Okay. Come in. I have to get dressed.”
“Yes, I’ll say,” Leah mutters. Alexis’ mother is tall, like her, with sandy blond hair that has gone grey by now, and watery blue eyes. She holds her handbag like the queen, and she always wears a skirt and practical, low heels. A summer coat is draped perfectly over one arm. It would be easy to mistake her for someone stern, but in fact, she has a heart of butter, and it’s exactly that soft heart that Alexis is scared of this morning. She doesn’t argue when her mother points to the wooden box she keeps her pearls in. She puts them on, avoiding her own eyes in the mirror. Around her mother’s neck hangs a large, shimmering white teardrop-shaped pearl, and Leah is fiddling with it – a bad sign.
“What’s up, mom?” Alexis asks once they’re finally settled at an outdoor table overlooking a large garden. She clutches her large Americano, steeling for what’s to come.
Her mother fixes her with a stare. “You’ve been engaged for almost two years.”
Alexis sighs. “And?”
“And I know why you’re stalling. You’re scared.”
Alexis would have rolled her eyes if it wasn’t true. Instead, she can feel her eyes well up. Her mom reaches for her hand. “Honey, it’s good to be scared. It’s not a small thing to get married. It’s a decision for life.”
“But what if it’s the wrong one?” Alexis squeaks through her tears. “What if we split up the way you and Dad did?”
Leah sits up straight. “Look at me. Do you know why we split up?”
Alexis takes a gulp of coffee. It burns going down. She doesn’t meet her mother’s eyes. “Yes, Mom, you’ve told me. You grew apart.”
“It’s not as simple as that. We married for the wrong reasons. We married too quickly. We barely knew each other. But grandma and grandpa believed in true love and edged us on. Grandma wanted a granddaughter. She thought I was getting too involved with my work. There are so many reasons – and none of them relates to you and Max.”
“But how do I know? What if there are other things? What if there’s something I’ve missed?”
Leah sighs. “You don’t.”
Alexis frowns. “Well, that doesn’t help!”
“Honey, life has no guarantees. Anything could happen. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take chances or make commitments. We work with what we’ve got. You and Max have known each other for a few years now. You’ve gone on holidays. You’ve met his entire family. You have a dog together! You have a strong foundation. And what’s more, you have those.” She points to the pearls around Alexis’s neck.
“You know those pearls are more than just pearls. They’ve come along centuries of family, passed from woman to woman. They come with that stack of letters from grandma. And they come with the knowledge that even though there are no guarantees, there is wisdom and support. You are never alone. And you are strong.”
Alexis takes a deep breath, then another sip of coffee. She lifts her chin and meets her mother’s eyes. “Okay.”
“Okay. I’ll talk to Max about a date. How do you feel about a winter wonderland wedding?”
Leah smiles and picks up her cup. “That’s my girl.”
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