Tales of Chocolate Chipmunks
Genre – Contemporary
Words – 1002
Having been a complete klutz her entire life, Liza Tracy wasn’t surprised when her morning had run amuck from the start. Luckily, her new lover, Dante Sinclair was patient and kind about her ineptitude, telling her that he thought it was an adorable quality. Love, after all, is blind, so they say. They’d met when he arrived at the college to put out a fire she’d inadvertently started during the first and last day of her cooking class. She’s always thought firemen were hot!
The dean of the college was livid until Dante spoke privately with him. Afterwards, the dean came to her, struggling to keep a straight face. “Miss Tracy, perhaps cooking is not your forte. We do have some excellent classes in fire safety and first aid.”
Staring up at him in confusion, she’d replied, “Ah…thank you, sir. I’ll look into it.”
She’d gone home with Dante wondering why the man had been so adamant about her choice of classes.
For breakfast, Liza decided to make him a meal he wouldn’t forget, which somehow happened each time she cooked anyway. The only way she knew the food was ready was by the shriek of the fire alarm.
Tulip, her golden Labrador covered his ears each time, just as he did that morning.
“I haven’t even begun to cook and the darn thing is going off already! Why does butter burn so quickly?” she asked Tulip as though the dog had a clue.
“I’m sure Dante will love chocolate crepes with whipped cream and blueberries. When we were away in Vegas we had it at a restaurant and he said it was ambrosia.”
When she noticed Tulip staring up at her with a query in his eyes, she realized she’d forgotten his breakfast.
“Oh, you need your morning munch too, don’t you my sweet?”
Naming the dog Tulip the day she brought him home, thinking he was a she, Liza decided to keep the name, likening him to the flower when he looked askance at her with his ears perked up like petals as she spoke to him in her singsong voice.
“Come on, sweetie, I’ll get your food now.”
Leaving the stove on with the frying pan heating up on high, she headed for the mudroom where the dog food was kept. A pot of baker’s chocolate sat on the back burner melting at an alarming rate while she scooped Tulip’s food into a metal dish and fed him, giving him a comforting pat on the head.
“Don’t worry, my sweet, if there’s anything left for breakfast, I’ll be sure and share it with you.”
Tulip’s yelp as he backed away would have been humorous to her if the alarm hadn’t gone off at that moment. Used to the annoying screech, she raced back to the kitchen and removed the smoking pan from the stove, burning her palm on the handle and releasing a scream of pain.
“What’s going on?” Dante shouted over the noise, rushing into the kitchen sopping wet from the shower and wearing only a towel.
“Oh, can you please turn that thing off!” she yelled back, holding her aching hand under a stream of cold water from the tap while watching the way his pecks shifted as he reached up for the lid to the alarm.
Seconds later, Dante had to put out a fire that sprang to life on the back burner after he pulled the battery out of the alarm. The bittersweet aroma of burnt chocolate caused her to wrinkle her nose.
Taking her in his arms, he murmured, “Sweetheart, what are you doing?”
She felt tears prick her eyes as she turned to face him, keeping her hand behind her under the soothing stream of water.
“I wanted to make you those chocolate crepes. You know, like the fried ones we had in Vegas? For some reason, nothing is working out the way I hoped. I should look up a better recipe. Why don’t you sit down and I’ll try again?”
Shaking his head quickly, Dante turned off the tap and had her sit down at the table before pulling out the first aid kit he’d bought her.
“Darling, let’s take care of your hand then I’ll make us breakfast. I wouldn’t want you to…ah…overdo it.”
She thought she saw him bite back a smile then decided it was concern instead.
“I wish I could get back into the cooking classes I tried to take. It doesn’t make sense to me why they would ban me from it. After all, kitchen fire’s happen all the time.”
Swallowing hard to hold back laughter, Dante shrugged. “Strange, isn’t it?”
Since the chocolate was now burnt beyond recognition, Dante removed the pot, placing it out on the porch with the other ruined cookware to cool before he could throw it away.
Scratching at the door, Tulip wanted out, so she got up and opened it with her good hand. Living in the country was her greatest pleasure. Dante’s reasoning that they leave the city after the police arrived at her door while she was vacuuming and singing a Tina Turner song was that the neighbors thought she was being attacked by someone. In their private home she sang as much as she wanted to without such rude interruptions.
A loud yelp on the porch brought Liza running. Just as she opened the door a chipmunk raced past her, it’s tail covered in chocolate, causing her to scream just as Tulip gave chase. Since this happened on a regular basis, she simply got the whipped cream tube out of the fridge and made a line on the floor with the fluffy white mixture to lure the creature back outside while Dante held Tulip back.
Seconds later everything was back to normal except for the tears flowing down Dante’s cheeks as his shoulders shook.
“What’s wrong?” she cried, rushing to his side.
“Nothing, sweetheart. I love you!” He pulled her close into an embrace and kissed her soundly.
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April Dawn -Author of Crushing Desire and
Bound by Love available now through Breathless Press.