The Color of Love
By Brenna Lyons
Grace Mallory owns a small but very profitable art gallery. Michael Justice is a spoiled artist, used to getting what he wants. This Christmas season, he wants Grace back in his life. A few little problems? He dumped her in a rather vicious fashion a year earlier. She's moved on to a new relationship with an annoyingly-perfect man. Oh ... And, then there's the magical mood ring, telling Grace what she doesn't want to hear about her feelings.
Grace stirred her tea absently, visions of Michael dancing in her head.
Typically, being secluded in her office, away from the desk and her usual patrons, focused her into the almost endless work of running the gallery, but not today. Not since the ring came into her life.
She grimaced. Not since Michael called and said he wanted to see her. No! He said he had to see me.
Grace ran her fingertips over her desk. It had been the first place they'd made love, a wild, passionate encounter that marked the start of the fourteen most carefree months of her life.
She growled, cursing herself for her weakness. Michael had hurt her when he'd left, and Grace had promised herself she wouldn't fall for his charm again.
The ring caught her eye, pearly pink announcing her arousal again. "Damn it." Couldn't the stupid thing lie to agree with her, just once?
Grace pulled it off her finger and tossed it on the desk. The stone went clear with amazing speed, as it always did when it left her body. She tried to ignore it, tried to concentrate on the RSVPs for the Gemstone Tea, but it kept drawing her eyes back to it, like a magnet with filings.
She sighed. It was a mood ring. There was no mystery about it. Like Anne said, it was simply sensitive to temperature changes.
A smile broke free. If she proved it was nothing more than a glorified thermometer, she could stop acting like the damned thing was magic. Her tea would be perfect. It was warm and not steaming. Yes ... it would do just fine.
The stone turned orange as soon as her fingers closed around the band, and her mind supplied the translation, curiosity. Grace dropped the ring in the clear crystal cup--and her smile disappeared. The stone went clear as soon as it left her hand. Worse, it stayed clear.
Some rational corner of her mind argued that it might be a light peach or butter that she couldn't see because of the tea. She fished it out with the spoon, staring at the undeniably clear stone in confusion.
"It's not based on heat," she mumbled. What else could it be sensitive to? Possibly electrical current. Grace considered the cord for the old touchier lamp she intended to replace seriously for a moment.
No! That is truly insane! You are not going to play electrician and strip wires just to test the stupid ring.
She startled at a knock on the door, dropping the ring back in the tea then spooning it back up, dropping it twice in the process. She dried it on her kerchief, looked at the telltale stain on the linen then stuffed it in her jacket pocket, shoving the ring back on her finger. The stone turned Navy blue, and her cheeks heated at the completely unnecessary announcement that she was embarrassed to be nearly caught trying to prove this silly piece of junk was a fake.
"Oh, shut up," she grumbled at it, wincing that she was talking to an inanimate object.