by Sara Shea
“This the ring?” The man behind the register at EZ Money Pawn Shop asked. His cool, steady gaze was on the girl, as she slid the ring over a slender knuckle.
He already knew the ring was hers. The tan line on her finger gave it away. Exact outline of the gold filigree. He felt bad for her. She was young, pretty … dazed and starring at the ring with wide eyes.
Intimidated by his piercing blue eyes and severe features, she’d nearly fled from EZ Money without inquiring. Too innocent to know his hard gaze resulted from decades dealings with addicts, thieves and liars; she’d only sensed he could see right through her.
“I’ll call the police if you wanna press charges. I’ll get an officer out to file a report.” She stared up at him; a deer in headlights. “Or you can just buy it back. Without pressing. Up to you. I take cash.”
She’d met Nick three years ago. They’d tumbled into love. After her grandmother died, he’d suggested they move in together and rent a one-bedroom near the lake. She felt grateful Nick had been there for her at a difficult time. She’d never lived with anyone else besides Nana.
She’d waitressed while Nick ran rentals, boat repairs at his friend Gordy’s marina. Out on lake summer nights, drinking Rolling Rocks with Nick and skinning dipping under the stars, her life had finally made sense again. Thus, she didn’t want to admit that he’d changed.
Nick’s late nights with Gordy; days he’d slept through work, his moodiness, strange anxious behavior … tip money gone missing from her purse. She’d discovered the drugs last week. Prescription bottles of painkillers in Gordy’s name. Then the ring had vanished. The ruby nana had left her.
“Watcha wanna do?” the man at EZ Money asked again. “Press charges or pay cash?”