Is it still a trick if they know the answer?
The Ring of Truth
By Tara Westgate
The small box in Anthony’s top pocket seemed to him like a live mouse, or a tiny unexploded bomb. Under this animate, fizzing, radiant box, he could feel his heart tapping.
He had waited several days to see his sister alone, which hadn’t been easy with his too-hot secret. Now Joanne’s husband and children were out for the evening, and he sat at her kitchen table while she cooked. When the meal was ready and she joined him, he would tell her: in the box was a ring, and the ring was for Isabel.
The relationship, however, was stalled. Stuck fast. He had taken her everywhere – theatres, dinners, weekends in the country; trips to Paris and Rome, and even New York. Isabel remained her friendly but cool, unchanging self. Things never went any further. They were not lovers, although he had tried to persuade and seduce her.
He needed to prove to Isabel that he truly loved her. He would offer her commitment, and the fabulous ring; the most beautiful one he’d found in several days of diamond-hunting. Fifteen thousand pounds.
This was the last chance, the only thing he had left to give.
Joanne had earlier turned down his offer of help, but now he stood up to clear the table of family clutter: toys and keys, newspapers and books. There was a paperback with a gold-embossed title: The Ten-Point Plan to Marry a Man.
“What’s this for, Jo?”
It belonged to Joanne’s teenage daughter. “She reads all sorts of nonsense.”
He opened the book. It was a manual of instruction in the art of being hard to get.
Men love a challenge! They are genetically programmed to hunt … rouse his natural instincts … he’ll think you’re the most desirable and wonderful woman he’s ever met – even if you’re not!
Some time later, unnoticed, Joanne brought food to the table.
Never, never make love with him until he’s committed. This seems very old-fashioned, I know, but trust me – it will drive him wild with passion. Truly, there is no more effective way of reeling him in. Even if you don’t follow all the rules, you MUST follow this one.
The unease he felt gathered itself and formed into something close to certainty.
“Tony, what on earth is the matter?”
“Nothing at all.” He closed the book.
The evening passed. He did not, after all, tell Joanne that he planned to ask Isabel to marry him.
The next day, Anthony bought a copy of The Ten-Point Plan. It was all there. Everything. Their entire relationship.
The third point of the Plan was: Always end phone conversations first. Never allow a call to last for longer than ten minutes.
Although he was sure, he wanted evidence. Absolute proof. He phoned her.
“Tony! How lovely!” Anthony checked his watch.
Exactly ten minutes into the call, Isabel said, “I have to go. I’m terribly busy just at the moment.”
It had always been such a mystery to him, what exactly Isabel was always, always so incredibly busy doing.
By Monday, Anthony had a plan of his own. He would ask her to dinner somewhere special and glamorous. He would show her the ring, the fifteen-thousand-pound proof of his love, and tell her that she could have had it, and she could have had him – if, that is, she hadn’t tried to treat him like a fool. Hadn’t pulled a cheap con-trick. Hadn’t manipulated him and lied to him, and been an utterly dishonest, calculating, cold-blooded bitch.
Then he would close the box, put it back in his pocket, walk out, and never see her again.
Anthony sat at a restaurant table. Beyond the candles and flowers was Isabel, looking impossibly lovely. She had just told him a story that was the funniest thing he’d heard all week. Her sense of humour was one of the many reasons he’d fallen in love with her.
It was time for the ring. He produced the box. He opened it. Her eyes filled and sparkled, gem-like. He placed the ring on her willing finger and held her hand, folding her fingers into his palm.
“Isabel,” he said, “will you do me the great honour of becoming my wife?”
“Yes,” she said. Diamonds fell from her eyes.
Over the past few days he had finished reading The Ten-Point Plan. Point ten had impressed itself upon him: This plan is as near as you can get to magic. It cannot fail to make the man you use it on fall deeply in love with you. Don’t waste it on someone if you don’t truly love him. Only use this plan on the man you absolutely adore.