Love & Chocolate © 2017 by Gail S. Cleare
All Rights Reserved.


Chapter One

Cocoa shadows fluttered on the bedroom wall as a warm breeze sifted in through the open windows. The moon floated high behind the trees, and bars of milky light spilled across the floor.

The house was quiet, everyone was sleeping.

Everyone except Sarah.

A greenish glow illuminated her long bare legs, splayed in front of her on the sheets. The laptop battery felt warm against her thighs and her fingernails on the keys clicked, loud in the silence.

A popup window appeared on the screen, white letters glowing inside a small blue rectangle:

“Coco, want to cyber?”

They called it “cybersex,” or “sexting.” Everyone did it, or so they said. It seemed perfectly safe, invisible and anonymous. Wickedly spontaneous.

She clicked on REPLY and the window expanded, with space for her to type a response. Her fingers hesitated.

His online dating name was HotNCold. The avatar next to his name was a selfie of a firm, lean set of abs.  As she recalled, his profile said, “Single man 32 seeking single woman 25-40 for walks along the river, coffee by the fireplace and whatever develops.”

She had signed in as CocoLvr, the account created by her cousin Paisley last night after they’d polished off too many bottles of Merlot. Sarah kept saying, “I’m not ready for this!” and grabbing for Paisley’s phone. With a devilish gleam in her eye, Paisley snapped a shot of Sarah’s cleavage and posted it with the caption, “Sexy mama wants to paint you with chocolate sauce and you can imagine the rest, Big Boy!”

They’d laughed until tears rolled down their cheeks, then scrolled through a photo catalog of male faces and muscles. Paisley sent out a dozen silly messages, including one to this guy. Sarah figured if his face was half as gorgeous as his mid-section, it must be amazing.

Too late to change her ridiculous profile now. This was irresistible.

“Sure,” she typed. “Love to.”

Her pulse beat faster and she clicked SEND.

Single since her divorce, Sarah ached for intimacy. But she couldn’t see herself sitting down in person with a blind date to make awkward conversation while they checked each other out. An imaginary love affair seemed like the perfect amount of togetherness. Especially if it could satisfy her in more ways than one.

It wasn't like they were actually going to touch each other. No condoms required, no embarrassment the next morning. The private message was all text, so he couldn’t see her. He had no idea what her real name was. Nobody would ever know about it, and she was ravenous for a man's touch, virtual or otherwise.

“Teach me,” she typed, her wrists tingling. “I’m a cyber-virgin.”

“OK baby have no fear, I’ll be gentle. Tell me what U R wearing.”

“Not much. Just a cami and bikinis.” She inhaled as though about to speak, and typed, “You?” She clicked the SEND button.

“Just a big smile, baby.”

Her eyes opened wider as she read his reply. A shiver of anticipation rippled through her and goosebumps popped up on her skin.

“Where R U right now, want to picture it,” he said.

“In bed.”


Sara searched the keyboard, looking for the plus sign. “Of course. Me + laptop.”

“Make room for me, baby.”

“Okay, come on over.” She leaned forward, her eyes fixed on the screen.

“:::Sits on edge of bed and strokes his hand slowly up her leg, starting at the ankle:::”

“Oooh,” she wrote, starting to get the hang of it.

“:::Bends over to kiss her gently on the mouth, while running his hand up, and up, and up:::”

Sarah squirmed, a tiny bit creeped out but definitely turned on. Was this harmless fun, or sleazy and perverted? She couldn’t decide, and was curious how explicit he would be.

“:::His tongue flickers between her lips, and his hand slips under her t-shirt:::”

Sarah read the words and her imagination went wild. She licked her dry lips, her body throbbing. This was just as up-close and personal as making out in person, but without the actual touching.

Now her lap was hot for more than one reason.

“Mom?” A small voice came from across the hall.

Sarah gasped and jumped, as though she was still sixteen and her parents had caught her making out with a boy on the porch.

Snapping the lid of the computer shut, she shoved the laptop under her pillow. The room was suddenly filled with darkness and the sound of Sarah’s panting.

Or was that Hershey, her chocolate brown Labrador? He lay on his pad across the room. She heard him hold his breath to listen, as she was, for the sound of that little voice to come again.

“Mom?” Devon called, his tone quavering.

“Coming.” She swung her legs off the bed.

As she walked across the hallway to his room, her breathing became calmer. A guilty smile tugged at the corners of her lips.

His room was lit by a nightlight shaped like a star.

“What’s up, sweetie?” Sarah said, sitting on the edge of the bed to hug him.

“Bad dream.” He rubbed his head against her shoulder as her arms encircled him.

“Want to tell me?”

He shook his head. “Gone now.”

“Okay, buddy. Need to pee?”

He nodded. She took him by the hand and steered his wobbly form into the bathroom, lifting the toilet seat for him. He peed, yawning, and slammed the seat back down as he flushed. After he ran his hands under the water in the sink, she dried them with a towel. Devon staggered back to his bed.

Sarah kissed him on the forehead and tucked him in after he burrowed down under the covers. She left his door ajar and hurried back to her own room.

When she opened the laptop, the private message was gone. HotNCold had disappeared. He must have thought she’d chickened out. She looked for him on the list of people online, but it no longer showed his name. He'd probably quit for the night.

Sarah lay alone in her big empty bed, with no one's head on the other pillow. No slow, even breathing to hear in the darkness. No warm body radiating coziness, pressed up against her under the sheet. And not even a virtual lover to soothe her with a sweet fantasy. A wave of bleak desolation rolled over her, and her stomach clenched as she swallowed the lump in her throat.

She shut down the computer and curled on her side, hugging a pillow spooned against her like a phantom lover.  Then she reached over to pull open the drawer in her bedside table. The drawer that hid her guilty secrets. Her hand encountered a foil packet, but rummaged further to find the plastic container. She pulled it out and peeled off the lid.

Mmmmm….dark, sweet and oozing. With just a little crunch for texture.

The best brownies on the planet. Everyone said so. Made with dark chocolate, 70% cacao and full of the magic chemicals that made her heart beat faster and her body quiver with joy. The best high she’d ever felt. Well, nearly the best. Maybe it wasn't really better than sex, but it was a damn good substitute.

Sarah felt the chocolate bliss pump through her body. Her anxiety began to subside. Maybe someday the right guy would come along, but she had to make sure that Devon wasn’t hurt by another of her bad judgment calls. She never wanted to see that expression again, the way he’d looked when she told him Daddy wasn’t coming home any more.

Sarah lay on the bed and watched shadows crawl up and down the wall, as the trees outside moved in the wind. She imagined that someday a man might climb up to her window. A beautiful man, maybe one with a Zorro cape and a neat little moustache, intense eyes. He would stare at her through the window and she would drop her flowing silk nightgown to the floor while he watched, then she’d reach out to open the latch. His eyes would shine in the moonlight as he swung inside, standing tall and strong in front of her. His hand would stroke her breast as he leaned close to kiss her. Their tongues would touch, sweet, dark and smooth with a spark of cinnamon…ahhhh.

She swallowed and reluctantly put the remaining brownies back in their container, slipping it into the drawer. Sliding down to rest her head on the pillow, she stared into the darkness and pictured a naked man beside her, running his hand up her bare leg.

Up, and up, and up….



Recipes from the Three Chocolatiers Cookbook

Better Than Cybersex Brownies

4 oz dark semi-sweet chocolate
1 stick butter
1 vanilla bean (or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract)
2 granulated sugar
4 medium eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup flour
1 cup coarse-chopped pecans


Pre-heat oven to 350.

Chop the chocolate into coarse chunks and put it into a small microwavable bowl with the butter, cut into 4 pieces. Heat in microwave SLOWLY on low/defrost for 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to burn the chocolate, and stop when it is not yet completely melted. It will continue to melt for a few minutes after you take it out. Stir to blend and expose any solid chunks to the warmer liquefied part. Set this mixture aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a wire whisk until well mixed and add salt and cinnamon. Slit the vanilla bean and scrape out all the seeds. Mix them into the eggs, too. Add the sugar in three parts, stirring gently with a big spoon until it all dissolves. Chop the pecans and set aside.

Butter the bottom and sides of a square 8” pan.

When the chocolate mixture is cool enough not to cook the eggs, pour it slowly into the sugar mixture and fold them together. Mix thoroughly. Gently add the flour, stirring it in slowly with a spoon. Last, add the pecans. Pour the batter into the baking pan.

Bake at 350 until brownies pull away from the sides slightly and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 45 mins (depends on your oven). Let the brownies cool for at least 1 hour. They will be slightly cake-like and slightly fudgy, a perfect compromise, utterly delectable, about 2 1/2” tall.

Source: original recipe.

This web site is ©2017 Gail S. Cleare.