Emily worked hard during her first few months at MIT. She rarely ventured from campus, she was just too busy. She liked working with Clifford in the lab. He always talked about his girlfriend, Nadia. Emily knew she would have to find a contact soon, to help Clifford find a ring.
She decided that she would not go home for Thanksgiving. By the time she arrived home, she would have to turn around again. She had no idea what she was going to do. She was sure something would come up.
She left the lab, the Monday before Thanksgiving. She was bundled up in a warm coat with plenty of mufflers. The icy wind just whipped off the Charles River all over the campus. It was threatening to snow any minute.
She climbed the stairs to her “ivory Tower” dorm room, well away from the boys. She and another girl shared the room. Both swore to protect the secrecy of the room. She turned the last corner and saw someone standing in front of her door.
She froze. It was Svetlana.
“Good evening, Emily,” Svetlana said.
Emily was upset. She was afraid and then mad. Clifford must have told her how to get here.
“Good evening, Miss Svetlana,” Emily answered.
Svetlana laughed. “My dear young lady, I am Svetlana, just Svetlana. None of that ‘Miss’ stuff, please.”
Emily waited and broke the awkward silence, “What can I do for you, Svetlana.”
“It is what I can do for you, is why I am here.”
“Then, what can you do for me?”
Svetlana smiled. “I understand that you will not being go home for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Is that correct?”
Emily fumed more; she certainly knew not to tell Clifford anything again. “That is true. I have several projects that I need to catch up on.”
“You, catch up? Clifford tells me that if did not do another thing that you would still get strong grades.”
Damn that Clifford!
“But I have the Friday afterwards off,” Svetlana continued. “I thought you and I could take a trip.”
“A trip? Where?”
“I have family in the jewelry business in New York City. Clifford said you would help find a diamond.”
Double damn Clifford!
“You shouldn’t have to waste your whole day finding a diamond. I can call around,” Emily suggested.
“Nonsense!” Svetlana said. “I have family we can get something nice for Nadia at wholesale. Clifford doesn’t have very much money, you understand.”
“Yes, I understand. But that will take you out of your way.”
“I always travel to New York after Thanksgiving. It is so festive! So many people shop around. We can get a diamond and have lunch at a nice place.”
“I’m not sure I have enough money for lunch in New York,” Emily protested.
“Don’t worry, Emily. Clifford will pay for it. Have you ever been to New York?”
“Be at my shop and 9am. Wear something warm and comfortable shoes – but no too comfortable,” Svetlana said with a wink. She waved and hurried down the stairs.
A large black limousine was parked in front of Svetlana’s. White smoke poured from the exhaust. As Emily approached, Svetlana emerged from her place.
“Ah, there you are!” Svetlana shouted from the curb with a smile. Svetlana was dressed to the nines.
Emily arrived at the limo; Svetlana waved her in. “Come, come, we will ride.”
Emily climbed in the back, Svetlana sat next to her, and closed the door. Svetlana pointed to the driver. “He is my cousin, Leonid. We do this every year.”
“What is this, our fifteenth year?” Leonid asked.
“Please you are dating me!” Svetlana laughed. So did Leonid.
The family bantering put Emily at ease.
Leonid turned around. “I like going to New York to buy the children Christmas presents. Svetlana started coming with me. It is now part of our tradition. Thank you for coming with us, Miss Emily”
“Emily, just Emily.”
The trip was uneventful and would have been boring if Svetlana had not told her whole life story.
It seemed her father was a young minister in the Tsar’s government. When things were going bad in Russia, he escaped with the thought of finding a way to get Nicholas out. He failed. Having no money or job, he came to America.
He eventually started a restaurant in New York. He began to attract other Russian refugees. After he became successful he was married to a young Ukrainian emigrant, and started a family. Svetlana was his second child.
“I grew up in the restaurant business. I was working there at three,” she told Emily. “This is where we will have lunch.”
“Does you father still run it?” Emily asked.
Svetlana shook his head. “My father passed a few years ago. My sister, Natalia runs it now. She is my older sister.”
Svetlana talked about how she started her company. Her father loaned her the money and expected her to pay it back. She did, in half the time she had. “My father was very severe that way. But he was so proud when I gave him the last payment. He knew I was going to make it.”
Making it, Svetlana found out, was not all that there was to life. She explained that after World War Two, many Russian women were trying to escape. Most of the eligible men were killed in the war. They had no future. Of course the Soviet government tried to stop this.
Svetlana explained how women that escaped were hired by her. She helped find them husbands, like Nadia and Clifford. She helped hopeless women find a new life. That is why she is glad to help find a ring for Clifford.
Emily understood. She felt less nervous about Svetlana now and was glad she didn’t bother Colonel Dare with her “childish” fears.
Arriving in New York, Leonid took them to the restaurant. It was a good time to have lunch. Natalia and Svetlana had a joyous reunion, hugging and kissing each other. Leonid left them there to start his own errands. They were to meet at 5pm at 5th and 47th streets, the Diamond District.
The lunch was magnificent. Emily tried things she never would before. Svetlana had several glasses of vodka, and allowed Emily to take a sip. Natalia and Svetlana laughed at her reaction.
The left the restaurant and walked to the Diamond District. Svetlana stopped frequently and looked in the windows of the stores lining the streets.
Emily was stunned by the Diamond District. The stores with windows and windows of huge diamonds overwhelmed her, with all the bright lights and intense sparkle. She just followed Svetlana as she led.
They finally stopped at one place. Svetlana walked into the place and asked for Victor. The man at the counter tilted his head to the back of the room. Svetlana went to a door and buzzed.
The door was opened by a big burly man. He nodded to Svetlana and Emily, his eyes opening at her green color. Svetlana walked down the hallway and found the small door with Victor’s name on it. She knocked.
“Come,” was the terse reply.
Svetlana walked in with Emily following.
“Svetlana!” Victor jumped from his desk. He hugged and kissed both cheeks. He shook Emily’s hand.
“This is Emily,” Svetlana said. “She is here to help me find an engagement ring for her friend.
“Is this for you?” Victor asked Emily.
“No!” Emily said. “He helped me get settled in college. I know his girlfriend.”
Victor laughed. “It is best to keep the men out of buying diamonds, they never know. I assume you know just what to get.”
“I do,” Emily said. “She wants a pear shaped. Maybe with a baguette on each side. In platinum.”
Victor smiled. “Then all that’s left is to pick out the diamond. I’ll be right back.”
He returned with several small pouches. He put a desk blotter on the desk and poured them out. The top of the desk was filled with dozens of diamonds. “Which one would you like?”
Emily stared at all the diamonds. Victor handed her a pair of tweezers. Emily picked one up. She stared at it.
Amazingly, she could she all the little things inside. She asked Victor what they were.
Surprised he picked up a loupe and examined the stone. He looked carefully at the diamond. “You could see this, Emily? With just your eyes?”
“These are just little imperfections. Some call them flaws. I call them the diamonds fingerprint.”
Emily looked over the diamonds. Svetlana and Victor talked quietly, mostly in Russian. Emily held out a diamond to Victor. “What about this one?”
Victor took it and examined it. “This is clearly the finest one in this size I have. What is the young man’s budget?” he asked Svetlana.
“Around one thousand dollars,” Svetlana answered.
“Hmm,” Victor mumbled. “This diamond is twelve hundred, the setting and labor would make it over fourteen hundred.”
“Is that the best we can do, Victor?” Svetlana haggled.
The negotiation went on for several minutes. At last they settled on a price, which was closer to what Svetlana wanted to pay. Victor took the diamond and left to have to set. Svetlana had a ring that Nadia “misplaced” to get the size.
As Victor put the stones away he asked Emily, “Did you like the cut of that diamond?”
“Yes, it was much brighter than all the rest.”
“Would you like to meet the cutter? He works right in this building.”
“Sure, that would be neat.”
Victor picked up the phone and called out. He quietly said something in Russian. He winked at Svetlana. “This will be a surprise for you both.”
A knock a few minutes later altered the three that the cutter was here. “Come,” Victor said in his gruff voice.
The man walked in as Victor announced, “Ladies, This is Gregor.”
Emily stood and turned to face him. She nearly fainted when she saw him and had to grab the chair back to steady herself.
Gregor was green.