She measures ingredients, slowly, carefully. These things can not be rushed. The cherished, secret recipe is logged in her brain; she extracts information cup by cup, teaspoon by teaspoon. Stirring, stirring, with patience, endurance, she watches dark brown solids simmer down into smooth caramel liquids.
Low heat, more stirring. Wooden utensils, never metal. Heating and cooling in precise increments. A furtive glance around her work space assures; she is alone. She reaches into a pouch tied securely at her waist. A pinch, just a pinch, is all that is needed. One particular ingredient sets her confection above all the rest.
This batch will be her best yet. It is what she says each day as she prepares. Each day proves correct. Sweet liquid releases fragrance that brings one to one’s knees. Souls have been sold for the chance to indulge in the creation she prepares. She smiles then, wickedly.
His tan overcoat is wrinkled, head bare, hands thrust deep into pockets. He hurries down sidewalks, as if driven by unseen forces. He glances over his shoulder every few minutes, crossing streets as if trying to throw bloodhounds off scent.
The shop is just ahead; with one last cautious scan of the street, he slips into shadows of the door frame. A deep breath in, he pushes the shop door open. A little bell tinkles, alerting proprietor of a customers presence.
She steps forward , recognizes her client; her most frequent shopper. She knows which sweet concoction he wants. Not a word passes between them; there is no need. He points, she bundles, he nods, she passes. His scowl, her smile, his hard earned coins, her delectable wares. A fair trade. He leaves as warily as he came. Her countenance never changes; his guard never drops.
She cleans shop at day’s end. All pans and crocks in proper places. Meticulous sweeping dislodges small ocher crumbs, coffee colored fragments, from under mud colored ledges. Satisfied all is accomplished, she hangs up apron, dons cloak.
The walk home is brisk, she relishes fresh air, changing winds. Up steps two at a time, she inserts key, swings wide the door to humble quarters of home.
She hangs her wrap on the hook. Smoothes hair and turns. He stands at window, back facing her. She approaches, he swings around. The paper wrapped parcel on the table separates them. She pauses, reaches, unwraps. Reveals the heavenly delicacy; this batch of chocolate; her best ever.
She looks up, see him watching. Waiting.
She speaks; a playful scolding tone. “You shouldn’t have.”
He smiles then, wickedly.
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