|For the Love of Chocolate
Author: loving-life PM
Say you're socially challenged, rather rotund, and addicted to chocolate. Says he's absolutely gorgeous, loves swimming, and has a delectable smile. And guess what else? He works in a chocolate shop ...Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Humor - Chapters: 8 - Words: 26,392 - Reviews: 136 - Favs: 79 - Follows: 94 - Updated: 01-25-11 - Published: 08-09-06 - id: 2227096
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Dedicated to anyone who has ever embarrassed themselves … to anyone who has ever fallen in love … and to my sister Cami, the greatest chica in the world.
Life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get. (Forrest Gump)
Whoever invented chocolate should be given a medal of honor, I decided, trying not to drool as I stood outside the window of the Windsor Chocolate Shoppe. Pounds and pounds of chocolate lined the walls, screaming out "Eat me! Eat me!" I pulled my raincoat tighter around me, desperately trying to remember some of the mantras Julie-from-the-health-clinic-from-hell made me repeat every week.
"Chocolate is not a comfort food," she had said, looking sympathetically at me as if I were some sort of failure as a person for daring to think of chocolate as a comfort food. "Chocolate is the enemy."
"Right," I had murmured, trying to be invisible—which is hard, since 160 pounds is not really easy to hide.
Julie had pulled out some sort of nondescript health food bar and waved it in front of my face.
"This, Kit," she had said triumphantly, "is your real friend. I always keep one of these with me in case I ever get a craving for something naughty."
As if to emphasize her point, she unwrapped it and took a big bite, smiling at me all the time. I seriously doubted whether she had ever craved something naughty.
"Real friend," I had echoed. She smiled again.
"Yes," she had said. "And I'm giving you one to keep." Oh really? How thoughtful. "Just in case you ever get a naughty craving."
I patted my purse, feeling the familiar lump that was the health food bar. I was having a naughty craving. A really naughty craving. My whole mouth was alive with the desire to bite into one of the rich Lindt chocolates along the far wall.
I took out the health food bar, examining the label for what felt like the hundredth time. Calories: 90. Deliciousness: 0. It was some oatmealy, tofu-y mess of health food goodness.
"Oh, what the heck!" I muttered, determinedly pushing open the door to the Windsor Chocolate Shoppe.
A warm, golden glow greeted me as soon as I walked in—decidedly in contrast to the cold, dreary rain of outside. I pulled back my hood, letting the beautiful aura that belonged only to chocolate engulf me. There was no one else in the shop, no sign of any other living being. I slowly turned around, trying to decide what to buy first. So many choices … Did I go for the truffles or the fudge, the dark chocolate or the white?
In no time at all, I had filled my arms with all the chocolate I could carry. Julie would be rather disappointed in me, I thought wryly. I hadn't staved off the temptation by heroically downing a disgusting health food bar. No doubt I would lose points on the Big Board of Weight Loss for my failure.
Somehow, the thought didn't bother me at all.
Staggering a little under the weight of my chocolate, I approached the counter and gently set my chocolates down, careful not to crush any of the precious little things. Cautiously, I arranged them from biggest to smallest, my mouth watering at the thought of eating them.
When I had sufficiently organized my chocolates, I dinged the bell on the counter that sported a friendly little sign saying "Ring for service!"
"Be with you in just a minute!" someone called from the back room. I settled myself comfortably against the counter to wait, surveying the Windsor Chocolate Shoppe. I had been in here a few times before (okay, I'll be honest---it was more than a few times), and each time seemed to result in gaining a few unwanted pounds. Julie didn't seem to buy my excuse that I had only eaten a few chocolates—her definition of a few and mine contrasted. To her, one chocolate was one too many. To me, that was just getting started.
I heard footsteps behind me and I turned, expecting to greet Monica, the girl who had come to know me and my chocolate tooth a little too well.
My gaze instantly locked on a pair of sparkling brown eyes, and I realized that this person was not Monica. Not Monica at all.
For one thing, the new cashier was a guy.
For another thing, he was gorgeous. And we're not talking ho-hum-second-glance gorgeous. We're talking I-think-I-will-have-to-lift-my-mouth-from-the-floor gorgeous. As in tall, toned, and tanned gorgeous. As in crooked, dreamy smile gorgeous. As in ...
"Did you find everything you needed?"
It took me a moment to realize that he was talking to me. He was talking to me. So I did what any self-respecting girl would do in my situation—I replied with suave sophistication.
I kid you not. That exact word came out of my mouth. A corner of his mouth lifted in amusement, and I felt my cheeks go bright red. Great. I sounded like a total idiot.
"I'll take that as a yes," he said lightly, his eyes dancing with laughter as he rang up my chocolates. Not trusting myself to reply, I took the opportunity to sneak a few glances at him, under the pretense of being highly interested in the cash register.
First impressions did not deceive. He was amazingly attractive. His dark hair was messy, as if he had gotten up, thrown it under some water, and then ran his hand through it a couple times. The look went well with him, more so than with other guys, who ended up looking as if they had stuck their finger in an electric socket and came out worse for the wear. He had a cute smile (okay, I'll be honest—an adorable smile) that seemed to make his whole body light up—which body was nothing to be ashamed of, I might add. Coupled with eyes that looked like melted chocolate, you can hardly blame me for coming up with something as witty as "erp."
But there was also something about him—a light easiness in the way he stood—that made me think he wasn't totally aware of how he looked. Which was hard for me to imagine, since he looked like a god.
And then there was me on the other end of the spectrum—very aware of how my sweats and baggy t-shirt complimented the "extra lovin'" (as my dad called it) hanging around.
"That'll be $32.67," he said, and I suddenly realized that he was talking to me again.
"Oh!" I exclaimed. Loudly. Quickly. As if I hadn't been paying attention.
Immediately I dived into my purse, trying to avoid looking at him, and feeling my ears heat up as I dug further and further into my purse in an attempt to find a credit card. As I rummaged, I found the usual: ibuprofen, health food bar, pads, tampons ... I shoved the tampons farther down, hoping against hope that he hadn't seen the stash I kept on hand. (Okay, stash was maybe too kind of a word. I believe "hoard" would more accurately describe my little pile. Or "avalanche". Or any other word that means "lots more than a lot".)
Finally I managed to extract my Visa from somewhere within the depths of my purse. I handed it over to him; he swiped it easily and handed me the receipt to sign. I was shaking so much from extreme embarrassment that my signature ended up looking like a first-grader's first attempt at cursive. It was pathetic. I was pathetic. All this nonsense over a guy probably as worthless as my scum of the earth ex-boyfriend who deserved to be hogtied and ...
"Do you like rainy days?"
The question took me completely by surprise. Guys like him did not, as a general rule, make small talk with girls like me. I actually looked around to see if there was some beautiful, thin (They're always thin, you know? It's like men can't like someone who happens to have a few—or more than a few—extra pounds hanging around.), blonde girl standing behind me with her dinky bar of chocolate.
Nope. He was talking to me.
"Um," I said brilliantly. Witty Kitty, they call me.
I could see him smiling, so I looked at his hands, moving quickly as they bagged my precious babies. He had nice hands. Slender and strong. A pianist's hands, maybe. My eyes flew to my own rather pudgy fingers. Not quite a pianist's hands, but yet I struggled through it. My teacher always rolled her eyes when my fingers slipped off the keys, which happened more than I wanted to admit.
"Rainy days always make it more fun to go to work," he said, continuing as if I had added some important remark to the conversation. "There's nothing like chocolate on a rainy day."
I looked up, wondering if he was making fun of my apparent chocolate obsession—scratch "apparent". It was an obsession. He was smiling, but there was no mocking look in his face, not like Roger.
And those brown eyes were really, really beautiful.
"Erm, thanks," I said, embarrassed to be caught thinking about his eyes. A boy like that probably had girlfriends. (Note the plural. And here I was, romanticizing about his eyes).
"You're welcome," he said, running a hand through his hair.
I took my bag of chocolate and made my way to the door, feeling like a waddling penguin. I could feel his eyes on my back and not for the first time, I wished I was thirty pounds lighter. And a couple of inches taller. And my hair wasn't so frizzy. And I wasn't so clumsy.
"See you later!"
I turned around at the door, realizing he was talking to me again. Mistake. He was grinning—the cute, crooked smile that would probably make girls faint. I clutched my chocolates, averting my eyes to the cash register. (Thank God for cash registers!)
I really intended to say something intelligent, or at least graduate beyond the one grunt answers that had graced the conversation. I really wanted to say something that made me sound sexy, even if my physical appearance contradicted that fact. I wanted to say something that wouldn't make me seem as dumpy and socially challenged as I looked.
So I opened my mouth … and squeaked.
It wasn't even a word.
I was mortified. I could feel my whole face burning as if someone had lit a match to it. Without bothering to look at him again, I turned around and tried pushing at the door. It wouldn't budge. I tried again, but the thing didn't move.
"You have to pull it."
I think I died. I know I ran out of there as fast as I could totter, the bag bumping against my thighs as I raced to get away from those beautiful brown eyes.
I was an idiot. A totally and completely hopeless moron.
I really needed that chocolate.
Ten chocolates, one movie, and two best friends later, I had stopped dying of embarrassment. Sure, every time I thought about chocolate, I would remember him and my whole face would turn various shades of red. But hey, I was getting over it.
"I mean, damn! Just because a guy has a cute ass doesn't mean he has a brain in his head," Deanne said, reaching over to grab a chocolate. Deanne was our resident feminist pessimist, and she did a really good job. Whenever Roger got me down, I would go over to her apartment and she'd rant and rave about the "worthlessness of the male species in general" and how they should all "take their testosterone and shove it". Add a swear word about every other word and you have the general idea of the conversation.
Deanne was a godsend sometimes.
"I didn't really look at his butt," I said, blushing as I searched for a Lindt truffle. "I was too busy concentrating on how to open the door."
"He sounds adorable," my other best friend, Whitney, said, her eyes glued to the TV screen. We were watching "Ever After" and Whitney was an avid Dougray Scott fan. When he kissed Drew Barrymore, you could feel her sigh from across the room. Honestly, I wasn't that much better.
"God, you people!" Deanne snorted, waving the remote around like a sword. "He's a male chauvinist pig like the rest of them. They all think they're so damn great!" Her eyes flicked to Whitney. "By the way, fairy tale endings are just a load of bullshit. They never happen in real life."
"Don't swear," Whitney said automatically, leaning forward. We were almost at The Part.
"He had brown eyes," I said, looking at my chocolate contemplatively. "Really nice brown eyes."
Whitney turned a little. "I love guys with brown eyes," she said, sighing.
Deanne snorted. "Tall, dark, and handsome. God, he's a damn cliche!"
"Shut up!" Whitney screeched. "We're there!"
And indeed, Dougray was leaning over Drew. Whitney grabbed my hand and squeezed it, tears coming to her eyes. Yup. The Kiss.
We both sighed simultaneously. Deanne rolled her eyes.
"Someday I'm going to be kissed like that," I whispered. Whitney sighed again.
"It's so wonderful," she gushed. "When Tom kisses me, it's like I can't come down for days!"
Needless to say, Whitney's boyfriend didn't spend his time telling her to "lose some weight, fatty" or, in less glamorous terms, "you're a f—ing cow!" Ten guesses who said that and to whom.
Yes, you guessed it. The knight in shining armor who would spout such kind comments was indeed Roger, the official bane of my existence. The man with ten thousand faces. The reason why I ever joined the health club from hell and had to put up with health food bar Julie and her size 2 pants.
"It's not that great," Deanne said, leaning back on the couch and propping her gangly legs up on the coffee table. "The guy thinks he's doing you a damn favor. And then he tries to jam his tongue down your throat." She snorted again. "Loads of fun, let me tell you."
So, there you see it. Even the man-hater from the Black Lagoon (okay, so I exaggerate ... but only a little) had been kissed before. And then there was me. The only time Roger ever kissed me was a quick peck on the cheek before he went to the health club for hours on end. And that always seemed like an effort. The peck, anyway. Not the health club.
"So how's your job going, Kit?" Whitney asked, finally tearing her eyes away from the screen. Dougray had disappeared; ergo, there was no reason to watch.
I shrugged. "Fine," I said. Except for the rather small fact that Mrs. Carlson, the charming lady I was a secretary for, told me about five times a day that I should really lose some weight.
"It's not healthy for a girl to be that—that large," she had said this morning, peering down at me from the end of her perfectly sculptured nose. "I believe you would be ... attractive ... if you lost some weight. About forty to fifty pounds, perhaps?"
Ouch. The look on her face plainly said that she doubted I would be attractive even if I was as tall and skinny as a rake.
"Okay," I had said, shuffling some papers needlessly in an attempt to keep busy. Mrs. Carlson and her miniskirts apparently didn't understand that I couldn't throw away weight like she could throw away clothes. It doesn't work that way.
"That's it," she said, pulling a mirror out of her purse and scrutinizing her reflection. "If you ever need advice, just come to me."
Shooting me a dazzling smile, she minced out the door, earning several ogles from the various men sitting around the waiting room. She was forty years old and she dressed in the skimpiest clothes she could fine. Big self esteem-booster, Mrs. Carlson was not.
Right, I thought to her retreating back. I'll just run to you for advice. Especially since you've never been a pound overweight a day in your life.
"That's great," Whitney said enthusiastically. I could never really tell her about my job; she was, of course, exactly the right weight for her height. And she was really pretty. She didn't understand my predicaments.
"I heard Mrs. Carlson is a bitch," Deanne said, taking a sip of her cappuccino while eyeing Dougray apprehensively.
"Sometimes," I said, taking out another chocolate so my mouth would be conveniently full in case they started asking questions. It was a good tactic, if I do say so myself.
"What do you mean?" Whitney asked, turning to look at me. I pointed to my mouth—a clear indication that I was eating. Whitney nodded, and then her eyes were attached to the screen.
See? I told you. Perfect.
About half an hour and a few sighs later, the movie was finally over. Deanne stood up and stretched. Chocolate wrappers surrounded us like a minefield. I smiled. Julie wouldn't be pleased with me.
"Well, children, I'll see you later," Deanne said, pulling her black hair back into a ponytail and glancing at her watch.
"Wait, I need a ride!" Whitney called, standing up and brushing invisible crumbs off of her designer pants. "Tom's working late tonight."
Deanne rolled her eyes again. "Damn, are you dependant on that bastard for everything?"
"Don't swear," Whitney and I said at the same time and then grinned at each other.
"Bye, Kit!" Whitney said, leaning down to give me a hug. "Talk to you tomorrow!"
"Call me if Roger talks to you and I'll beat up that son of a —"
"Let's go, Deanne," Whitney said, steering her out the door before she could complete her sentence.
Then they were gone, and my apartment was quiet.
I looked at the clock above the TV. One o'clock in the morning, and I was ready to sleep. It had been a long day, what with Mrs. Carlson the Advice Master and the gorgeous chocolate boy.
Lazily I stood up and made my way to my bedroom. Shutting the door, I changed into pajamas that sported little smiley faces—a birthday present from Whitney. I ran a brush through my hair a couple of times (succeeding in getting it caught more than once) and paused before the full-length mirror my mom had insisted I hang up on my door.
Yup, there I was. All five feet, one inch of Kit Breedlowe. I turned to the side, trying to suck in the little paunch (okay, so it wasn't so little) that I claimed as my belly. Nope. It stayed adamantly in place. I didn't even bother looking at the two basketballs that formed my attractively large rear. (Maybe a slight exaggeration, but not much.)
I turned to look at my front view again and leaned in to examine my face, choosing to ignore my chest, stomach, and hips. I don't even want to go there.
My hair—thick, wavy, and impossible frizzy—stuck out at little odd angles. It was a nondescript dirty blond that was cut in a very unattractive medium-length bob. My mom had somehow convinced me that since it looked good on the model, it must look good on me.
Memo to me: Never, ever listen to a mother again.
I had been blessed with skin that had a tendency to freckle and a short, plump nose that fit in with my desire to be short and plump. My eyes—which were by far my best feature—were a mixture between dark grey and blue, leaning more toward grey, and were framed by eyelashes that could only be described as thick when coated with about ten pounds of mascara. My lips were of average size, nothing special, and four years of braces and voracious brushing had finally made me willing to smile. Before ... let's just say I got very good at smiling with my mouth firmly closed.
I leaned back. Why my mom had told me to get a full-length mirror, I'll never know. It just made me depressed every time I looked at it. And when I was going out with Roger, I looked at it a lot.
"Good night, Clancy," I said to the black and white cat lying comfortably on my nightstand. He stared inscrutably at me as I climbed into bed, turning on my lamp as I did so.
"Let's see where Elizabeth and Darcy are, shall we?" I said to Clancy. (Okay, when you live alone, you'll talk to anything. At least I wasn't conversing with a volleyball.)
I opened up Pride and Prejudice—oneof the best books of all time—and settled in to read about Elizabeth, Darcy, and the ball at Netherfield.