If it hadn’t been for my chocolate hunger leading me astray, I’d likely not have run into Gabby Montague. As I pushed open the door a little bell tinkled gaily above me. There were my objects of desire and I made a beeline for them. A cottony murmur of voices under soft lighting swaddled the space then rose to high ceilings. Walls were dark blue with old floral prints. Tables were here and there with wooden chairs that were wicker-backed and -seated. I disliked wicker a lot but aromas drew me deeper inside.
So many choices: cacao from Peru, Ecuador, Madagascar, Trinidad….I licked my lips. I was a shameless consumer of dark chocolate but usually bought whatever was available. I certainly lacked insight into the various noted shadings of flavors.
“May I help you?”
I looked up and paused. Was this man speaking to me smoothly really a movie star laboring to pay rent? His eyes were bright; his perfect lips betrayed slight amusement. There was a wedding band on that finger. He was calm, poised.
“Not a clue. Maybe you could pick two of your best sellers for me?”
“Bars, candies or drinks? You may sample, too.”
“Chocolate drinks? I might indulge, let’s see…”
I studied the calligraphed menu behind his head but had trouble focusing. His hair: auburn, glossy and abundantly wavy. Three feet away yet his skin exuded sandalwood and cedar.
The bell rang again. In rushed a swirl of taffeta skirts accompanied by brisk tapping of heels.
I tuned to look but not before I saw Movie Star’s face brighten, formidable teeth flashing in the direction of those heels.
“Hey Gabby!” he sang out.
“Donovan!” she said, husky voice somehow light, sweet.
I latched onto her name as a tingle rippled over my spine but my focus returned to sumptuous displays before me. “Well, Donovan, how about two of your favorite bars and a black coffee.”
With chocolate from Peru and Ecuador in one hand and a coffee in the other, I turned and nearly stepped on black pointy toes, the hot liquid splattering her hem.
“Gabriela Montague,” I announced.
“I am she.” She tossed a cascade of fake silvery curls and raised a dark eyebrow, earrings jangling. “You are?”
“I’ve been meaning to contact you.”
She nodded, smiled. I nearly forgave her for a moment. Who could resist such bright energy sparking that charming cafe?
“I’ll get my card.” She scrabbled inside a gargantuan purple bag.
“Don’t bother. It was your tarot reading that sent my sister over the edge. She left with that feckless man. You’re a terrible advisor. The power you wield over naive fools is a power that banished my sister from a–a–a benevolent universe. She is, for all intents and purposes, ruined!”
I hustled toward the door as Donovan called out, “Wait up, you didn’t pay!”
“Let this quack Gabby Montague pick up my tab!” I shouted back.
“Hey, she’s my wife!”
“Not surprising ! May your futures be very interesting!”
After I ate half of Peru and two big bites of Ecuador, I was calmed by instant delight. But I decided to get over my addiction to dark chocolate. At least for awhile. Of course I did not return there despite the awards its product racked up. Gabby might have felt a smidgen of regret. I absolutely did not. She was a real case. People’s doings were sometimes beyond my ken–and I, for one, was rather good at that sort of thing.