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Wads of money on a table | Source: Shutterstock
Wads of money on a table | Source: Shutterstock

My Brother Refused to Return the $15K He Borrowed for an Engagement Ring – I Gave Him a Reality Check

Rita Kumar
Jul 10, 2024
10:30 A.M.

Geraldine, a single mom who lost her husband too young, juggled three kids and life's demands. She lent her brother $15K for an engagement ring, but when he broke his promise to repay, Geraldine unleashed a shocking move that shook their family to its core.

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I'm Geraldine, 38, and being a single mom of three is no walk in the park. Imagine juggling kids' activities, a tough job, and grief—that's my life. Losing my husband young meant becoming everything for my little ones. It's hard, but it's my reality…

Sad woman sitting on the couch | Source: Midjourney

Sad woman sitting on the couch | Source: Midjourney

My late husband Michael was the love of my life. One day he was here, the next he was gone. It's been eight years now, but some days it feels like two minutes. It's like a punch to the gut every time I think about it, but I can't afford to dwell. I've got three little firecrackers who are my universe.

My mornings start at 5 AM. I wake up, not because I want to, but because if I don't, the whole day falls apart. It's exhausting, but it's my life.

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And despite everything, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Because when they look at me with those big eyes and call me "Mom," it makes all the chaos worth it. So, that's me. Just Geraldine, doing my best to keep my little world spinning.

Mother with three little kids | Source: Midjourney

Mother with three little kids | Source: Midjourney

Thankfully, my parents were there, stepping in whenever they could. But let's face it, raising three kids is a full-time gig, and I knew I needed to be the one providing that stability.

Luckily, I had a good head on my shoulders. I'd gotten a degree in accounting before the kids came along, so at least I had a decent job that paid the bills. Every penny counted, though.

Woman counting money | Source: Pexels

Woman counting money | Source: Pexels

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Forget fancy vacations or nights out on the town. My priority was making sure my kids had everything they needed: clothes on their backs, food in their bellies, and a chance to chase their dreams.

That's why I started squirreling away money for college as soon as they were old enough to understand piggy banks.

Then, just recently, my world got turned upside down again. Thomas, my younger brother, crashed into the picture with this sheepish grin and a request that made my jaw drop.

Man sitting on the couch and smiling | Source: Midjourney

Man sitting on the couch and smiling | Source: Midjourney

"Hey Gerry," he started, fiddling with his thumbs. "So, there's this thing..."

We were sitting in the living room, the remnants of reheated pasta and a sprinkle of Parmesan scattered across our plates. I should've known something was up by the nervous way he was avoiding eye contact.

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"Spit it out, Thomas," I finally said, giving him a look. "What's on your mind?"

Woman staring at someone | Source: Midjourney

Woman staring at someone | Source: Midjourney

He took a deep breath. "My girlfriend, Layla," he blurted out. "She's the one, Gerry. The love of my life. And…" he trailed off, cheeks reddening.

"And?"

"And I want to propose."

A small smile tugged at the corner of my mouth. "That's wonderful, Thomas! I'm so happy for you."

"There's just one thing," he mumbled, looking even more nervous. "I saw this amazing ring. It costs a fortune. Twenty grand to be exact. I've got about five saved up. But I need another fifteen. Only you can help me, Gerry. Please don't say no."

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A stunning diamond ring on display | Source: Midjourney

A stunning diamond ring on display | Source: Midjourney

My smile vanished. Fifteen thousand dollars? Seriously? Where in the world did he think I had that kind of money lying around?

"Thomas, that's an insane amount of money," I said gently, trying to soften the blow.

But he wouldn't budge. He kept pushing, about how he'd pay me back in three months. He even had the nerve to suggest I take it out of my kids' college fund.

Man sitting on the couch and looking ahead | Source: Midjourney

Man sitting on the couch and looking ahead | Source: Midjourney

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"She deserves the best, Gerry. And I can't imagine my life without her. Without this ring, she'll never say yes!" He launched into a desperate plea. "Trust me, okay? I'll repay. With interest. Promise."

"Look, Thomas," I began, trying to reason with him. "That money is earmarked for the kids' college fund. It's not something I can just dip into."

The audacity of it all made my blood pressure spike.

Annoyed woman frowning | Source: Midjourney

Annoyed woman frowning | Source: Midjourney

Here's the thing, Thomas had been a lifesaver in the first few years after my husband's accident. He'd moved in, helped with the kids, babysat them.

I owed him a debt of gratitude for that. But this? This was different. This was messing with my kids' future. But still... he was my brother.

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In the end, against my better judgment, I caved. Maybe it was guilt, maybe it was seeing how desperate he was. Whatever the reason, I handed him the money because I trusted him.

Woman holding bundles of cash | Source: Pexels

Woman holding bundles of cash | Source: Pexels

Shortly after, he got the ring and proposed to his girlfriend. Layla said "Yes!" and wedding bells started chiming in the distance.

Three months later, the money hadn't materialized. Not a single penny.

When I gently reminded Thomas, he apologized profusely, promising to pay me back next month for sure. "Next month" turned into the next year, a year filled with empty promises and excuses.

Shocked woman looking to her side | Source: Midjourney

Shocked woman looking to her side | Source: Midjourney

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The last straw came when he told me, with a straight face:

"Remember I worked as a nanny for your kids for four years without pay? Consider that $15,000 my salary!"

I nearly choked on my coffee. Seriously? That's when I knew I had to take action.

Frustrated man frowning | Source: Midjourney

Frustrated man frowning | Source: Midjourney

This wasn't just about the money anymore. This was about Thomas refusing to see the sacrifices I'd made for my kids, the years of overtime, the nights spent studying for that damn degree, all so they could have a shot at a brighter future.

He couldn't just waltz in and expect me to jeopardize that for some overpriced rock.

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So, I decided to give him a reality check, one that would hopefully make him understand the burden he'd placed on my shoulders and make him see the error of his ways.

Stunned woman looking up | Source: Midjourney

Stunned woman looking up | Source: Midjourney

The wedding invitation arrived a few weeks ago, a flourish of white lace and embossed lettering. An audacious plan snaked its way into my head, but hey, sometimes you gotta fight fire with fire, right?

Fast forward to Thomas and Layla's big day. My heart raced as I waited for the lull in the celebratory chatter.

Finally, it was my turn to give the wedding speech.

Cheerful newlywed couple with guests | Source: Unsplash

Cheerful newlywed couple with guests | Source: Unsplash

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Taking a deep breath, I strode towards the makeshift stage where Layla and Thomas were beaming, basking in the afterglow of their vows. Guests turned towards me, a hush falling over the jubilant crowd.

"Can I have everyone's attention for a moment?" I boomed.

"I just wanted to take this opportunity to share a little story about how Thomas and Layla's love story began. It's not the typical fairytale we all know!" I continued, my gaze fixed on my brother. His smile evaporated.

Woman holding a mic | Source: Midjourney

Woman holding a mic | Source: Midjourney

"See, Thomas here," I pointed at him, relishing the flicker of fear in his eyes, "approached me a while back with a rather… unique proposition. He needed a loan to buy his beloved fiancée an extravagant engagement ring. Fifteen thousand dollars, to be exact. And where did he expect this money to come from? My children's college funds!"

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A collective murmur rose from the crowd. Heads swiveled back and forth between me and Thomas, whose face was now the color of a beet. Layla's lower lip trembled, tears welling up in her beautiful eyes.

Extremely shocked bride covering her mouth | Source: Midjourney

Extremely shocked bride covering her mouth | Source: Midjourney

"Now, Thomas being the generous soul he is," I continued, sarcasm dripping from my voice, "assured me this was just a temporary setback. A small bump in the financial road, you see. He promised to pay me back, every penny, with interest of course, for my trouble."

"Unfortunately," I said, "those promises turned out to be as empty as his bank account. Apparently, being an uncle comes with a hefty price tag these days. A price Thomas declared was his payment for being a nanny to my kids, right Thomas?"

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Suppressed gasps filled the air.

Smiling woman holding a mic | Source: Midjourney

Smiling woman holding a mic | Source: Midjourney

"Well," I said, pulling out a flash drive from my pocket and brandishing it in the air, "let's just say a wise mama always comes prepared."

With these words, I turned on the projector screen.

Being a single mom, I had installed cameras right after my husband's death to feel safer. That evening, after Thomas left with my hard-earned fifteen grand, a motherly instinct kicked in. The money was meant for my children's future, and I knew I had to protect it.

Woman holding USB flash drive | Source: Midjourney

Woman holding USB flash drive | Source: Midjourney

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I saved the CCTV footage on the flash drive, just in case. It wasn't the only evidence I collected.

Throughout our conversations about repaying the loan, I recorded them all, the most recent one just a day before the wedding when Thomas met me to deliver his wedding invitation.

My brother lunged towards me, his face contorted in rage. "What are you doing?" he roared.

"Justice, dear brother," I replied. "Just a little dose of justice."

Woman with a fragile smile | Source: Midjourney

Woman with a fragile smile | Source: Midjourney

I took a step back, my eyes darting towards the projector screen at the front of the hall. I connected the flash drive and hit play. A hush fell over the crowd as the image on the screen flickered to life.

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"There you go, folks," I announced. "A little glimpse into Thomas's version of brotherly love."

The grainy video footage on the screen showed Thomas pacing back and forth in my living room, his face etched with desperation.

Projector screen in wedding hall | Source: Midjourney

Projector screen in wedding hall | Source: Midjourney

"Come on, Gerry, please," the screen showed him pleading. "It's just a loan. A temporary setback. I'll pay you back, with interest, I swear."

Then my voice echoed from behind the camera. "Fifteen thousand dollars, Thomas? That's a lot of money. The kids' college fund..."

"She deserves the best, Gerry. And I can't imagine my life without her. Without this ring, she'll never say yes!" Thomas's voice took center stage

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A small smile flickered on my face.

Woman smiling at a wedding | Source: Midjourney

Woman smiling at a wedding | Source: Midjourney

"There's more," I announced, my voice hoarse. Reaching back into my purse, I pulled out my phone and pressed play on the voice recorder app.

A familiar voice filled the room... Thomas's, arrogant and entitled.

"Remember I worked as a nanny for your kids for four years without pay?" the recording blared. "Consider that $15,000 my salary!"

Murmurs of disgust rippled through the crowd. Guests exchanged horrified glances, and Layla's sobs intensified, her perfect day shattered by the ugly truth.

Startled and teary-eyed bride | Source: Midjourney

Startled and teary-eyed bride | Source: Midjourney

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"I gave you countless opportunities to repay the money," I continued, turning to Thomas, "but you chose to lie and manipulate. You even had the nerve to use your own niece and nephew to justify your greed."

"How dare you??" he roared, his blazing eyes speaking volumes of his anger. "You RUINED everything!"

"The truth has a way of doing that," I retorted.

Angry man staring daggers | Source: Midjourney

Angry man staring daggers | Source: Midjourney

With the damage done, I mumbled an excuse and hurried out of the reception hall, leaving Thomas to scoop up the pieces of his shattered dignity.

The cool night air felt like a slap as I reached my car. When I got home, my phone blew up with messages. Mom texted: "You shouldn't have done that to your brother. You were so mean."

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But Dad's words were soothing: "Maybe this will teach him a lesson."

I collapsed onto the couch, burying my face in my hands. The weight of the evening pressed down on me. Had I been too harsh? The answer came a day later.

Upset woman sitting on the couch | Source: Midjourney

Upset woman sitting on the couch | Source: Midjourney

Thomas stormed into my house, a thundercloud hovering above him.

He threw a hefty envelope on the table, the money scattering around.

"Here's your damn money, you greedy witch! Just remember... some things money can't buy. Don't face me ever again!"

He spat out a string of angry accusations, calling me a "traitor" and a "monster" before slamming the door behind him.

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Close-up view of dollar bills | Source: Unsplash

Close-up view of dollar bills | Source: Unsplash

Silently, I picked up the envelope and that very afternoon, I deposited the money back into the children's college fund, a bittersweet victory.

I'd chosen my children's future over my relationship with my brother. It wasn't a decision I made lightly, but one I knew I'd make again if I had to. Because in the end, my love for my children trumps everything else.

So, what do you think? Did I do the right thing?

Cheerful woman smiling | Source: Midjourney

Cheerful woman smiling | Source: Midjourney

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Here's another story: Irene gets the shock of her life when her father demands she return his wedding gift. But nothing could've prepared her for the chilling reason behind his request.

This work is inspired by real events and people, but it has been fictionalized for creative purposes. Names, characters, and details have been changed to protect privacy and enhance the narrative. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

The author and publisher make no claims to the accuracy of events or the portrayal of characters and are not liable for any misinterpretation. This story is provided "as is," and any opinions expressed are those of the characters and do not reflect the views of the author or publisher.

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