Cary pressed his phone to his lips. If he had imagined that he and Donna were going to get back together again, he had another thing coming. The scathing text that she sent him left no doubt that that was over.
He looked around the boutique chocolate store he was in. All of the retail specialists were dressed like waitresses from the fifties. In the middle of the store, with a net over her bouffant hair, was a woman with a perfectly made up face and lashes he was sure were not her own. She fluttered them often as she attended to her task - dipping everything and anything into chocolate.
There was script embroidery above her ample breast that read, “Ella aka La Grande Dipper.” He watched her as she dipped fruits, nuts, marshmallows and even the expensive bonbons they sold in chocolate. Dark. Milk. White. She was so delicate in her approach that he was startled when some of the white chocolate dribbled onto the pink embroidery he had just read off of her chest.
He stood in front of her until she noticed him.
Ella looked startled, and fluttered her fake eyelashes in earnest. The minute his eyes met hers, he put his phone in his pocket and forgot that he was trying anything with Donna.
“Hi, can I dip something for you?” Ella asked.
As soon as she said it, they both looked at each other. Her eyelashes fluttered wildly, and he smiled softly.
“Yes, what do you dip for a heartbreak remedy?”
“What do you mean?” Ella inquired, with wide chocolate eyes.
“Well, I was going to surprised my ex, but she surprised me and now I do not have a valentine. I was hoping you had something special to dip in chocolate for me. To make me feel better.”
Ella cocked her head at him, and her countenance was not as coy as it had been. He knew he was playing with words, but he did not want her to think he was being vulgar.
“I am a specialist. What are things that you usually like to eat? Sweet? Savory?”
“I think I would like a combination of the two?”
“Maybe caramel corn?”
“You are good at this!”
She returned to looking coy again.
“It’s my job,” she said, and turned around.
He admired the curve of her neck as she bent over to search for something in the cabinet. She stood up slowly and poured out pretzels from a box, then she smiled to herself. Cary watched her dip those pretzels slowly, in three types of chocolate, without getting a drop on her. It made him feel special that it was for him.
When she leaned forward with the pretzel, she held it carefully over a napkin so it wouldn't drip. He popped it into his mouth. The combination of warm chocolate and salt was an explosion of pleasure in his mouth.
Ella served up a series of savory and sweet dipped things for him to try before she ever got to the caramel corn. When she started to scoop it, he put his finger on her wrist to make her look up at him.
“How much do I owe you for your time? You have spent an inordinate amount of time with me…”
“This is not an exact science, and we are not a typical chocolate store. It is my job to make sure that you have a life-altering experience when you put our chocolate in your mouth in all of its combinations. Our chocolate is all-natural, nothing artificial - ”
“Seeing you was a life-altering experience - ” he thought, and then realized that he had said it out loud.
Ella looked up at him, her chocolate eyes wide. He realized that her long, thick eyelashes were her own, and that there was nothing artificial about her, just like the chocolate.
A year later…
Cary walked into the chocolate shop, and Sam, "The Petite Dipper," looked up at him with a smile.
“Ella is in the back,” she grinned.
Cary smiled, and watched Sam dip graham crackers into the dark chocolate. Her style was just like Ella’s, but he would never get over not seeing Ella in the middle of the store as soon as he got in. He leaned against the door, waiting for her.
“You know you can go in there. The store is closed. I am leaving right after I finish this one,” Sam said.
He nodded, and remained where he was. Out of respect, he never went anywhere that Ella did not tell him to go. It was her store and she was the "grande manager" now, he liked to say.
“Cary, I do not want to ruin anything, but Ella said she wanted you to go back there as soon as you came in.”
Cary raised an eyebrow at her, but Sam’s smile was the same as it was when he walked in.
He opened the door and gasped when he saw Ella.
Her eyelashes fluttered, and now he understood their language. He knew that she had something in store for him, but he was not quite sure what. Her cheek was soft under his lips, and her subtle perfume of chocolate and roses drove him crazy, like always.
“What are you up to?” he cocked an eyebrow at her.
She smiled at him, and she walked into her office. Ella still wore retro dresses from the fifties into work. This one was form-fitting and hugged her every curve. He walked into her shoebox-size office, and was pressed up against her right away. Immediately, he placed his hands on her bottom and pulled her close to him for a deeper kiss. Her mouth tasted sweet, like chocolate.
When he pulled away from her, he noticed the fancy bottles on her desk. Her arms still about him and her body pressed to his, Ella looked at the bottles on the table too.
“What are those?” he questioned, kissing her.
“You always said that you wanted chocolate on me. Now you will get your wish. I have been working on this since before I even met you. It is a fragrance for the store. The notes are chocolate and roses. It was my idea…”
“I could taste it on your mouth.”
“Ella! I am leaving!” Sam yelled outside of the door.
“OK, Sam! Thank you!” Ella yelled back.
“Happy Valentines Day!”
“I can’t wait, I can’t wait…” Cary said, spreading his hands over her hips. “You smell and taste so good…”
“I can’t wait either. But I have chocolate on me. Actual chocolate…”
She pointed to her dress. The print hid the chocolate, but it was there. A glob, that Cary took off with his finger. He licked it off of his finger, and tasted her perfume and chocolate mixed together.
When he kissed her, Ella giggled into his mouth.
Now you taste like chocolate and perfume!”
Cary sat her on the low cabinet, and she wrapped her legs about him. He really could not wait - she was his bonbon. Sweet, perfectly-shaped, she melted in his mouth.
He looked into her soft chocolate eyes and kissed her, sucking on her lower lip to make it last longer. Ella wrapped her legs tighter about him and arched to press herself against him more. They kissed as he reached into his pocket for a condom. She took it from him, and placed it in her mouth.
She opened the condom as delicately as she would open one of the candies from the store. When she placed her hands on him and rolled it on, it was one of the sweetest things he had ever experienced.
Until he was inside of Ella. The angle was awkward from the cabinet, but they found their own rhythm looking into each other’s eyes and moving as one. He pressed his lips to the hollow of her neck and sighed. Her neck tasted like chocolate, and her hair was got so messed up and right then he realized it.
“I love you Ella.”
She purred, and her breath washed him with chocolate and perfume.
“Love you more than chocolate,” she murmured.