Sweeter Than Chocolate: A Novella Part 3
Wednesday at the candy store was ordinary. There had been no dueling suitors calling or visiting. Liz walked into the kitchen that night around nine thirty and set the coffee maker. She felt a presence and turned.
Ian was leaning against the doorjamb. “I’m proud of you. You remembered to lock the door and you even locked the deadbolt. Very impressive,” he said with a smirk.
“Yet you’re in here again,” she could not help but smile.
“Your windows were unlocked,” he said sheepishly. Liz imagined him prowling around checking all her windows; she hoped her neighbors did not see him. He informed her, “They’re all locked now.”
“Thanks,” she said with a laugh. “Tomorrow night are you going to come in through the chimney?” They chuckled and she opened the refrigerator and scanned the barren shelves. She felt bad that she did not have anything to offer him. “I have water or wine,” she said remembering she had a bottle.
“Wine? Aren’t you saving that for a special occasion?” he asked.
“I was saving it for when I had a guest,” she said looking up at him. He was her first guest in a while. He shrugged and volunteered to open it. She poured them each a glass and they sat and discussed families and childhoods. She enjoyed the friendship. She found out that he started college as a marketing major but changed it halfway through. Knowing that he was a college graduate made her feel better about his age although he never had scruff on his face and could be in his early twenties.
They discussed her career and how she got started. She sold candies to fellow college students to make a little money to help with books and other expenses. It became so lucrative that she changed majors from nursing to business. She enjoyed the challenge of running a business but there were not enough hours in the day.
Thursday was a busy day. The chocolate was tempered and the melted brown liquid was molded. Martha liked to add a touch of white chocolate onto the darks and milks. Little curly-Qs, Xs and other artistic touches graced the candies.
Liz hastily prepared for the forgotten lunch date with James when she remembered five minutes before he showed up.
James had on a black suit with a pale blue shirt and a cobalt blue tie. His eyes were striking but thought she saw coldness behind them. She tried to shake the negative idea away. He was pleasing to look at. He smiled at Liz admiring her curves. Liz flushed under his gaze and started anticipate the date.
James escorted her to a bistro around the corner from the store. He gave her his undivided attention all the way there and charmed her with compliments and held open the door. The sandwiches and salads looked inviting and tasty. It was nice to get out of the store and be served. She had a sweet tea and a Reuben and chewed as James spoke about the woman he gave the Sinfully Sweet chocolates to as an office gift. Of course, it was a corporate gift but Liz thought it was strange date conversation. He started another strange date topic. James brought up Ian Sarto asking her if she had the date with him yet.
“Do you really want to talk about him?” she asked. James smiled and shook his head. He went on to talk about some of the other menu items but Liz’s thoughts stuck on Ian for a moment then shifted to the man before her.
Liz noticed several people came and picked up carryout orders and mentioned this to James. He knew this was a popular place and she suspected he brought her there to show for others she was with him. She saw James’ eyes volley to several women as they came and went in the restaurant. James was quickly losing his charm and appeal.
She saw one man in a dark business suit picking up a large bag of food. He looked familiar but she could not place the clean cut tall man. She felt guilty noticing another man when she was supposed to be on a date but he was a nice distraction from flirty ill-mannered man she was with. As he paid, the man at the counter winked at her causing her to blush; suddenly she wished she was eating lunch with him instead.