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Where Dreams Taste Like Chocolate

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Blurb

-a Where Dreams romance story-

Tony Bosco, itinerant chocolatier, has returned to Seattle to work in his cousin’s shop; a legacy from their past. But only when he searches for the heart behind their granddad’s recipes does he begin to discover his own gifts.

Raquel Wells has been instrumental in creating the business success of Perrin’s Glorious Garb clothiers. Her weekly treat, two pieces of Bosco chocolate. Next? Find the man to fulfill Stage Three of her Personal Life Plan, which is right on track, until her meticulous agenda is sideswiped by Tony.

Their futures await Where Dreams Taste Like Chocolate.

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Chapter 1
Chapter 1

“Madonna Mother of God!” Tony Bosco would have had the crown of his head smacked with a wooden spoon by Grandma for saying it, but he couldn’t help himself.

His cousin Vic looked up from where he’d been sliding the latest tray of dark chocolate orange truffles into the display case. Together they stared out the large plate-glass window that faced onto the Madison Street sidewalk, at the east edge of Seattle.

“Oh, yes. She is something, isn’t she?”

Something? Tony couldn’t even speak. He hadn’t prayed in years but he wanted to drop to his knees on the linoleum and beg God himself to make her turn in at their chocolate shop’s door. He’d been back in Seattle for only three hours and he had just seen a goddess—unlike any woman he’d found in his entire five years in Europe.

When she did indeed turn toward him, he considered maybe Grandma was right and he should start going back to church.

With a bright tinkle of the bells on the back of the door, she breezed in. Five-ten of statuesque redhead in a flirty dress—the shade of beaten copper that clung to her like a dusting of sugar—strolled into the shop. The calf-high boots and accompanying short hem on the dress didn’t imply a thing; the combo shouted, “Amazing legs!”

“I need two of your finest, Vic. It’s a beautiful Friday.”

Tony couldn’t have said it better himself.

Vic already had a pair of his ginger caramel dark chocolates in a tiny sack. He exchanged them for the six dollars she already had out in her hand, her long graceful hand.

With a cheery, “Ciao!” she was gone out the door and Tony was left listening to the ringing bell rather than that silky voice, American English, but seasoned with Italian. Gone so fast he didn’t even have an eye color for her, though an impression of bright blue existed somewhere in his head.

“What the hell was that?” He still didn’t have his breath back.

Vic laughed, “Don’t worry. You’ll never get used to her. But every Friday, if she’s had a good week, she comes and buys two dark chocolate ginger caramels. Won’t buy anything else, so I make sure to never run out on a Friday.”

“And if she’s had a bad week?”

“Don’t see her, but thankfully that doesn’t happen so much. I do so look forward to these days.”

“Couldn’t you have, like, slowed her down for a moment?” Tony knew he hadn’t blinked, and still there hadn’t been a chance to look at her clearly. Too many first impressions and too little time to sort through them. He sniffed the air, but could find not one hint of her. Only the rich smell of fine chocolate remained in the shop.

“Can’t be done.”

“Because you haven’t tried.”

“Tried plenty, Cuz. Not happening.”

Tony rolled his eyes at his cousin. Vic had always been a lame-ass when it came to meeting girls. Actually, he’d been stellar at it, as long as Tony wasn’t around. Tony always managed first choice, which he never complained about and only lorded over his cousin at every other opportunity, not wanting to be too obnoxious.

His cousin laughed at him, “Okay, Mr. Hotshot European Chocolatier. Next week, I’ll keep my big mouth shut, you go ahead and try. Not a thing on this planet is gonna slow that woman down.”

He didn’t want her to slow down, he certainly never did that himself. He just wanted to move down the same path for a length or two, long enough for a wild affair. Tony turned back to the chocolate-making work counter and looked down at what Vic had given him on his return to the States just hours before.

His cousin had taken over the shop and the family recipes when their shared grandparents had retired and gone RVing. He’d never thought they were the sort, impossible to imagine them not in this shop. But they were off to tour every scenic byway in the country.

He’d never really thought he’d be back here. He’d worked in some of Europe’s premier chocolateries, been trained by master chefs, but the old shop felt comfortable. It was the right size. A cozy front area for customers to stare into the large glass display cases, small enough for a friendly jostling of elbows as they picked and chose, but not cramped or crowded. The kitchen was behind, with no door to hide it away from the curious who wanted to peek over the cabinets. Light streamed in, bright through the front glass, dappled by trees through the high, kitchen windows in back.

This shop is where the two boys had spent every summer as kids. Once Vic had taken over, he’d increased business to the point where he could either manage the shop or make the chocolates, but not both. Seattle loved chocolate treats, and had plenty of companies catering to that craving. But even with competition, Granddad’s recipes were making a name for The Chocolaterie Bosco.

Tony had been at his usual loose ends when Vic called. He’d been hanging in Milan where his latest girlfriend had dumped him. Normally it worked the other way, but when the captain of the winning Italian team of the Tour de France swept her up, he knew he’d been totally outclassed. They’d been close to done anyway.

Il Cioccolato Bello only needed him for pick up work. He’d learned all he was going to at Oui Chocolat in Chartres outside of Paris. He’d plumbed the depths of Die Schokolade Maestro in Hamburg. And even thinking of the head chocolatiers at K­āko in New Zealand or Callebaut in Belgium made him exhausted, he was so not excited about “going back to school.”

So, Vic had given him an excuse to move once more half around the world and come make chocolate for a small but enthusiastic clientele. Just the two of them and a part-time clerk on the weekend, closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

He leaned on the work counter and stared down at the dozens of hand-scribed index cards laid out across the cool marble slab. Vic had set them out for him. Granddad’s sloppy handwriting was faded on some to near illegibility, partially lost behind chocolate smears on others, but there was a voice here. A voice Tony had seen and loved, but perhaps never really heard.

He picked up one that he thought might entice la belle signora.

“I’ll start here,” he held up the card.

“Courvoisier-brandied cherry,” Vic nodded his approval. They shared a smile. They both remembered the trouble they’d earned for dropping a pair of them down the back of Vic’s older sister’s dress one summer then smacking them so that they burst, just moments before her date arrived. The long red stains had never come out and they’d both learned an appreciation—over many, many tedious unpaid hours of manual labor at the shop—just how much fine girl clothes cost.

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