That’s the sign that hangs over the door. Our little chocolate shop used to be called Chocolate Chuckles, but the owner finally realized the quickest way to amp up sales was to bring innuendo to the party. Just imagine it for a moment.
You’re sitting in the cafe, having lunch, staring down a gorgeous brunette at the next table. She doesn’t break eye contact as she takes a sip from her straw, sliding her fingers along the collar of her rather plunging neckline. The come hither is palpable. You open the box of chocolates you purchased earlier, and extend it towards her.
“Would you like one?”
She thanks you, and carefully selects one of the delicacies with her perfectly manicured nails. Her lips curve around the arch of the truffle, and you hear a small sound that reveals her pleasure.
“Where did you get these?” she asks, the melted chocolate still fresh on her lips.
Now think about it. What would you rather say?
Chocolate Chuckles? Or do you want to lean in closer so your face hovers just over the box and whisper … “Delicious Temptations”?
See? You didn’t even have to think about it!
And I gotta admit, business started booming after the remodel. We got rid of the former ice cream parlor interior and put in a dark wood floor, six glossy black tables, and twelve chairs painted a deep cherry red.
After that, there was no more chilling behind the counter checking my Facebook feed. That darn bell over the front door never shut up. One would go out, and one would come in. Or they would come in pairs and sit at a table that I would be required to bus later. It really is annoying when work becomes work. But, sometimes, things got interesting.
One day, I had just finished ringing up our Night In box for a nervous, balding middle aged man when the bell rang and she stepped inside. Curves like a California road all snug inside a black mini dress. Toned calves that lead down to her studded high heels. And blonde waves hanging to her shoulders as she lowered her oversized retro shades.
This woman was a stunner.
I handed baldy back his debit card and wished him a nice day as fast as I could. She was over at the Dark Chocolate counter. Of course, I thought. I bet she takes seventy percent cacao.
“May I help you?” I offered.
She looked up at me. Of course she had baby blue eyes. “Yeah, I’m looking for some chocolate for my… Dad,” she replied, glancing back down at the silver trays where we displayed our most expensive offerings.
“Oh? Birthday?” I began.
“Anniversary,” she grinned, turning her attention back to me, which was just fine. “Any suggestions?”
“Well, what kind of taste does your Dad have?”
“Taste?” she questioned.
“Yeah, I mean, is he your basic milk chocolate guy? Or maybe he’s a bit offbeat? White chocolate?” I answered. Her smile widened.
“I didn’t know you could pair chocolate with people like that…” Her eyes squinted at my nametag. “Zachary.” My knees went weak. I wondered how many guys had dreamed of hearing their name uttered from those lips.
“Well, when you sell chocolates all day, you start to pick up on things like that,” I admitted.
“Then… what kind of chocolate would you pick for me?” she asked.
“Seventy percent cacao,” I replied rapid fire.
She giggled. Even that was alluring. “Good job. What about you?”
I slid my hand beneath the counter and selected a winner. “Cordials,” I said. “Cherry Cordials.” I extended a small paper cup that held a Queen Anne’s Cherry Cordial, drizzled with dark, white, and milk chocolate.
She eyed the offering, and then popped the whole thing in her mouth. Her eyes closed as she bit down, and then it came. The little “Mmmmmmmm” that said, Zach, you devil, you’ve done it again!
When her eyes opened, I gave her a little “told you so” look. She nodded.
“I like your taste, Zachary,” she announced. “What do you have in Dark Chocolate that would make a nice Anniversary gift?”
I blinked a moment and came back down to Earth.
“Dark Chocolate? Oh, well, what about these?” I turned around and pulled a box of Midnight off the shelf. It was one of our more expensive dark chocolate selections, but I had a feeling she wouldn’t even look at the price.
“Are these nice and rich? I mean, so that all you will taste is the chocolate?”
“Oh yeah, the truffles are thick, they will get your attention alright,” I replied.
“I trust your judgment,” she said. “I’ll take it.”
I rang her up and prayed that she would use a card. Someone up there heard me, because she handed me a Visa. I took a second to glance at the name.
“I hope you’re satisfied with your purchase, Pamela,” I said, placing the receipt down on the counter for her signature.
“You know, I have a good feeling about these,” she admitted, scribbling her name on the black line. She handed me the pen, and moved to the door, pausing right before she pushed it open. “Have a nice day.”
I watched her disappear into the parking lot. “Yeah… you too.”
When I looked back down, I realized there was a phone number in the top left corner.
I tore the corner off of the receipt and tucked it into my pocket. The same pocket of the pants that I later dumped into the washer without thought, and slowly agitated into mush with cold water and Gain.
I would have hated myself for the rest of my life if I hadn’t read the paper two days later. There was a photo of Pamela on the front page, still in her tight black mini dress. She was being escorted by two gentlemen on either side while blue and red lights blurred the background.
WIFE ARRESTED AS SUSPECT IN ELDERLY HUSBAND’S DEATH.
POLICE SUSPECT CYANIDE POISONING.