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Wall Street banker Major Bennington believes he can buy anything. When his mother mentions wanting a necklace crafted by an up and coming artisan named Maple London, he’s certain that all he needs to do is show up and write a check.
But Maple has other ideas. She doesn’t sell her jewelry to just anyone. The pieces she makes are for those who not only appreciate art but are good people. One look at Major and Maple knows he’s bad news.
Once Major meets Maple, he forgets about the necklace. The only thing he wants to acquire is Maple because he knows she’s priceless
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“How many people are in line?” My sister Julia chirps into the phone.
I take a sip of my coffee as I approach the small building on the corner of a bland gentrified neighborhood in Park Slope. The line stretches down one city block and around the corner. I have no intention of walking down to the end to see how long it is so I give my sister a vague estimate. “Enough.”
“That’s not very detailed,” she complains.
“It’s long,” I say, “but we’re in front. Isn’t that what matters?”
“I guess. Are you wearing the clothes I sent over?”
I look down at the shapeless cotton pants, the goofy pastel tie-dyed shirt and the cream-colored cardigan that Julia said was knitted out of virgin wool. I don’t know if that meant the sheep hadn’t had sex before or no one at the sweater factory nutted on the yarn. Hopefully it’s the latter for every reason one can think of and a few that haven’t been conjured yet. “Yeah.”
“Good. You’re not wearing one of your Audemars Piaget watches, are you?”
I glance down at my bare left wrist. “Nope. Per your instructions, I left all expensive shit at home. I do have my wedding band on.” Not that it did me much good. The barista scribbled her phone number on my coffee sleeve.
“I can’t believe you still wear that thing. I told you that women aren’t going to stop hitting on you just because you pretend to be married.”
“It works most of the time,” I protest.
“Most of time? How many numbers did you get this morning?” Julia asks with disgust, hopefully directed at her own gender and not toward me.
“Only the one.”
“God, my sex is an embarrassment,” she moans. “Anyway, back to the important topic of the day. Other than the fake wedding ring, you’ve got no jewelry on. You’ve been in line since four in the morning. You’re wearing sustainable clothing and, wait, please tell me you aren’t wearing the cologne Mom gave you.”
Guiltily, I slap a hand across my neck. “Why would that matter?”
“Oh my God!” she wails. “You are. You’re going to ruin the whole thing. I told you that Maple London doesn’t approve of non-natural substances, which is why I sent you the clothes!”
“I thought you sent me these clothes because you were mad at me. They’re ugly as hell. Hold on for a minute, Julia.” I tuck the phone into the crook of my neck and pull out my wallet. “Hey, man, thanks for holding the line for me.” I hand ten fresh bills to the kid I paid to camp out last night. He counts them out carefully, like he’s some teller at a bank. “It’s all there,” I say.
“Did you just pay someone to stand in line for you?” Julia yells. “How could you do that?”
“Easy,” I answer. “You read the want ads, find someone who is young and in need of cash and then you pay them to do things that you don’t want to.”
“Whatchu standing in line for anyway? Sneaks?”
“Sneaks?” I ask the younger man.
“Sneakers. Shoes.” He lifts his foot and points to it for emphasis.
“People stand in line for shoes?” I ask.
The kid, who can’t be more than nineteen based on the pimples and baby fat on his cheeks, gives me a look like I’m dumber than the worms on the sidewalk that crawl out of the dirt after a rain only to get run over by a cyclist. “Duh. Yeah. So is it phones?”
“Is what phones?”
“He’s asking if you’re standing in line for a phone. I cannot believe you paid someone to stand in line for you.”
“I have money. This kid needed it. We worked out a deal. Why is this such a big thing?” I realize the kid’s still standing there. “It’s not phones,” I tell him.
“What is it then?”
“You’re standing in line for a necklace?” He’s dumbfounded.
“I’m as baffled as you are, kid, but my sister tells me that this necklace is better than all six stones on Thanos’ gauntlet.”
“I never said that,” yells Julia.
I hold the phone away from my ear. “Got any sisters, kid?”
He shakes his head no.
“You are so lucky,” I tell him. “Go on now. I don’t need your help any longer.”
“I can hear everything you’re saying,” my sister seethes.
“What does it matter I paid for someone to stand in line?” I watch as the kid takes off, wishing I was going with him.
“Because she could see it.”
“She as in the jewelry maker?”
“She’s not a jewelry maker. She’s an artist and yeah, that is who I’m talking about.”
“You do realize that I could buy a necklace at Cartier or Winston’s on Fifth that is worth way more than anything this person is selling.”
“The jewelry Maple London creates can’t be bought on the secondary market. The rule is if you tire of it, you either give it away or you return it to her for a full refund.”