Love and Chocolate
by Kelly F. Barr
After a week of unpacking and organizing, Sonnet was finally settled into her new home and ready to explore Brindenburg. She grabbed her purse and stepped out the door. Just a block from town, she decided to walk on this beautiful breezy autumn day. As she strolled down the sidewalk, she paused to look into the shop windows. She passed a bakery, a jewelry store, an antique shop, and a candy store.
When she came upon a tea shop, she stepped inside. The aromas of peppermint, cinnamon, and raspberry greeted her. Three shelves of glass jars holding a variety of loose leaf teas beckoned her to come closer.
As Sonnet stepped farther into the shop, the lady behind the counter looked up. “Hello. May I help you?”
Sonnet smiled. “I just moved to town and I’m exploring the shops today. I love tea.”
“Well, welcome to Brindenburg and my tea shop. I have green teas and black teas. I have fruity, spicy, classic, and a few exotic teas. If you can’t find something you’re looking for, just let me know. Feel free to open the small jars to sample the scent of the tea.”
Sonnet sniffed six different types of tea and decided to purchase three ounces each of four of them. The woman bagged Sonnet’s selections, placed the bags in a small, decorative shopping bag, and handed them to Sonnet.
“I hope you enjoy your selections. My name is Tara. Please come again.”
Sonnet smiled and stepped back out onto the sidewalk, where she crossed the street and started back toward her apartment, while peeking into the shop windows on the other side of the street. She passed a women’s clothing store, a Chinese restaurant, a women’s accessories store, and a pizza shop.
She paused as a couple stepped out of a shop in front of her. She caught a whiff of chocolate and looked up at the shop’s sign, “The Everything Chocolate Café and Bakery”. Her mouth began to water and her stomach rumbled. When the couple passed, she stepped into the café/bakery.
She let her eyes wander over the chocolate candies, chocolate coated items, and baked goods in the glass display case.
Just as she moved her eyes to the large black chalkboard that listed drinks, sandwiches, salads, and chili, a smooth male voice asked, “What can I get for you today?”
Still studying the board, she said, “Um…”
“This is your first time here, isn’t it?”
She moved her gaze from the chalkboard, and her eyes locked with slate gray ones in the most handsome face she’d ever seen. “Um, yes. I … um … I’m new in town.” She mentally kicked herself for stumbling over her words.
“Well, in that case, let me introduce myself and tell you a bit about our options.” He smiled at her and her heart skipped a beat. “I’m Armand, and everything we sell is either chocolate coated or has chocolate syrup or cocoa as an ingredient. Our coated items come coated in white, milk, semisweet, or dark chocolate, and many of our baked goods come with those choices of frostings. So, what will it be?”
“Um … do you have any suggestions? Something that won’t keep me from one of these delicious looking desserts?”
“How about one of our sandwiches? We have ham or turkey with white American, cheddar, or swiss cheese with our hazelnut chocolate spread on our homemade chocolate bread.”
“That sounds good. I’ll take the ham and American, please.”
“And to drink?” He winked at her and added, “I recommend the chocolate strawberry lemonade.”
“First name for the order?”
He looked at her, one eyebrow raised. “Sonnet? Like the poem?”
He stared at her a moment, then said, “You can have a seat and I’ll bring that out to you shortly.”
Just ten minutes later, Armand delivered her food and drink to her table. “May I inquire as to your favorite chocolate dessert?”
“How would you like a piece of moist dark chocolate cake with a white chocolate cream filling and semisweet chocolate and caramel frosting?”
“That sounds divine.”
Sonnet swallowed the last bite of her sandwich and sipped the last of her lemonade.
Armand returned to her table and placed a small plate and fork before her. On the plate was a rectangular piece of the cake he had suggested.
As Armand walked away, she stabbed the fork into the cake, lifted a piece to her mouth, and released a quiet moan of pleasure as the flavors delighted her taste buds. She took her time savoring the cake, then moved to the counter to pay her bill.
Armand rang it up. “That will be $18.55 please.”
She handed him a twenty dollar bill and a five dollar bill. “Keep the change.” She turned to go.
She turned back to him.
“Don’t forget this.” He held up a white bag.
“I didn’t order anything to go.”
“Consider it a welcome to the neighborhood gift.” He held the bag out to her and she took it. “I hope I’ll see you in our café/bakery frequently.”
She chuckled. “I’m afraid that wouldn’t be good for my waistline.”
“Well then, maybe I could show you more of Brindenberg? I have a feeling you’d enjoy our arts district – unique things to see or shop for, as well as upscale dining.”
She smiled. “I think I’d like that. I, uh, could give you my number.”
He grabbed pen and paper and wrote as she spoke.
When she exited the café/bakery and was certain she was past its windows, she lifted the bag to peek inside. But before opening it, she saw, written on the outside of the bag: Sonnet – a beautiful name for a beautiful lady. Heat raced up her neck and into her cheeks. She opened the bag. Inside was another piece of that wonderful cake and two white chocolate covered strawberries.