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  • Robert Baker

A Common Interest

Bob runs into Rachel, his ex, in a coffee shop. They rekindle their romance over chocolate cake. However, all is not as it seems.

Five, Four, Three, Two...

The small coffee shop overlooking the Leeds-Bradford Canal was my regular Monday morning haunt. I needed a strong pick-me-up to kick start my working week. As usual, the Tinder date I arranged to meet on Saturday took one look at my bald patch and made excuses. With my charm and charisma, you'd think it easy for me to land a girlfriend.

Upon entry, I scanned the dozen tables for an empty seat. My gaze landed on a gorgeous, well-proportioned lady about a decade younger than my own fifty years wearing a nurse's uniform. When she beamed at me, I was pleasantly surprised to find I knew her. She brushed back her brunette bangs and waved me over. “Bob, I haven't seen you in years.” “R-Rachel. How are you?” “Good. Wanna join me for coffee?” Rachel's charm was what first attracted me to her when we dated twenty years ago. She wasn’t a nurse then. Glancing down, I noticed she hadn't received her order yet. “Is the barista on a go-slow?” She spread her hands in resignation. “I've just come off shift and forgot my purse.” “Oh, I'm sorry. You must be tired. Why don't I pay?” Rachel shook her head. “I couldn't.” “Oh, come on. You nurses contribute so much—let me pay something back.” “That's really kind, Bob.” She picked up the menu. “I've never been here before.” “The Hot Chocolate Supreme is to die for. It has chocolate-flavored whipped cream sprinkled with cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips.” Rachel's eyes lit up in the way most girls' would for diamonds. “They also do an amazing Chocolate Devil Gateaux—chocolate fudge cake topped with chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce.” “This place is Heaven.” “That's why I come here.” She bit her lower lip. “I shouldn't. I'm about to go to bed, and that sounds like a rich cake.” “That doesn’t sound like the Rachel I remember.” She laughed. “You're right. Of course, I'll have cake.” I glanced at the barista and wiggled my fingers at both of us. She nodded in understanding—two of the usual. Turning to Rachel, I noticed her left hand was bare. “You're married, right? Do Health & Safety make take your ring off on duty?” Her lips turned slightly downward. “Things didn't work out. We separated a few months ago.” “I'm sorry to hear that. What happened?” “Irreconcilable differences.” She grimaced. “He didn't share my love of chocolate.” I gasped. “How callous!” Rachel reached over and squeezed my hand. “I knew you'd understand.” My cheeks flushed, and I glanced away. She looked hot in her uniform. I'd always been attracted to her fuller than average figure and the cute chocolate mustache over her lips after hot chocolate. But I didn't want to take advantage of her immediately after a breakup. “Bob, do you remember how we first met?” “The Cadbury's Chocolate Factory Tour. How could I forget?” “You were standing there, eating complimentary chocolate bars. I immediately knew I'd met someone special.” I chuckled. “Yes, but you ate me under the table that night when we went out for a chocolate fondue.” She twirled her finger through a brunette lock. “So, what do you do these days?” “I'm a freelance writer. I write advertising copy for confectionery companies.” “Writing, huh. Is that something you enjoy?” “Yes, but…” “But what?” I sighed. “I really want to be a novelist like Joanne Harris. Have you read Chocolat?” “Of course!” “I'd love to create vivid characters and build believable worlds for them to inhabit. I love novels.” “Oh, me too,” she gushed. “What's your favorite?” “Er…” She glanced out the window at the bleak Yorkshire skyline, with its howling wind and heavy rain. “Wuthering Heights.” “Ah, you like the classics.” She nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah. Charlotte Brontë's awesome.” I frowned. “Don't you mean Emily?” “Oh, yeah.” She covered her mouth and giggled. “I always get them confused—Charlotte, Emily, and Harriet.” The barista bustled over with our order. Something about what Rachel said bothered me, but the wonderful aroma of so many cocoa confections distracted me. Seeing Rachel tuck in with gusto, I grabbed my own spoon and followed suit. I closed my eyes. An explosion of gastronomic delights hit my lucky taste buds as the bittersweet combination of high-cocoa content chocolate and cream massaged my tongue in an ecstasy of sensations and I experienced la petite mort in my mouth. Opening my eyes, I saw my orgasmic pleasure mirrored in Rachel's sapphire orbs—two kindred souls. Two minutes later, we grinned at one another through our post-coital haze over licked-clean plates and empty mugs. She casually wiped a chocolate smear from her lips, and my heart fluttered. God, she was an amazing woman. She sighed. “Whatever happened to us, Bob? We're so perfect for one another.” I cocked my head. “You ran off with my best friend.” “Oh, yeah.” She giggled. “Tom was cute.” “Dick. You ran off with Dick. Tom was the guy you left for me.” Rachel shrugged. “Tom, Dick, Harry. It was long ago.” I shuffled in my chair. “I see.” She reached across and grabbed my hand. “I get confused about the others, Bob. You I will never forget. You were the only boy who ever completely got me.” “Really?” She beamed. “Yeah, really.” Warmth blossomed in my chocolate-filled belly and spread toward my heart. Rachel glanced at the clock on the wall. “Say, Bob. It's getting late, and I must get to bed.” I coughed. “Of course. Nursing is a demanding job.” “I wasn't thinking about sleeping.” She smirked. “Do you still live just up the road from here?” I swallowed. “Er…yes.” She squeezed my hand. “Maybe we could go back to yours.” “I-I'd like that.” The coffee shop door banged open. Three men in blue uniforms burst inside. Each held a gun pointed toward our table. “Armed police! Don't move.” Rachel snarled. She grabbed her spoon and jumped onto the table. “You'll never take me alive!” More officers poured inside. A policewoman raised what looked like a toy gun. “Drop that…spoon and come quietly.” “Never!” spat Rachel and leaped off the table toward the officer. The policewoman fired. Something hit Rachel in the chest. Two wires trailing from the gun vibrated, and she landed hard, shaking on the floor like an epileptic suffering a fit. Five policemen together grabbed her and manhandled her toward the door. “No,” she yelled. “No, I want my Bob. Leave me alone.” Outside, yet more officers bundled Rachel into the back of a police van. Several officers remained inside the coffee shop. Each approached a member of staff or a customer. A slim policewoman took Rachel's seat. “Hello, I'm Sergeant Braithwaite. I'm in charge of this operation.” She flipped open her notepad. “Wh-What just happened?” She smiled sympathetically. “Rachel has been arrested.” I shook my head in disbelief. “You must be Mr. Robert Baker,” she continued. “H-How do you know?” “After Rachel escaped from New Hall last night—” “New Hall?” “H.M. Prison New Hall.” “Prison!” I squeaked. “Yes.” Sergeant Braithwaite pursed her lips. “Rachel was taken for a routine medical examination last night. She took advantage of the reduced security to escape. We identified you as her likely next victim.” I gaped. “Victim?” She nodded. “You obviously didn’t hear. Rachel was remanded in custody awaiting trial after she allegedly murdered her husband and four former boyfriends.” “No!” “Last night, Rachel overpowered her guard and a nurse. She stole the nurse’s uniform and I.D. and was able to use that to exit the prison. As soon as the alarm was raised, we examined her case files and discovered you were her boyfriend before Mr. Richard Fisher.” “Yes. Wait! What? Has something happened to Dick?” Sergeant Braithwaite's eyes turned sympathetic. “I'm sorry to have to tell you Mr. Fisher died earlier this year.” “No wonder he wasn't replying to my messages. What exactly happened?” She flinched. “Do you really want to know?” “Yes.” “He was tied to a bed and force-fed a hundred-and-twenty packets of Chocolate Buttons. They blocked his windpipe, and he died from asphyxiation.” I scratched my bald patch. “Rachel always did like Cadbury's Chocolate Buttons.” “Mr. Baker, we're sorry for any upset today's incident may have caused. I'm delighted we arrived in time to save you from harm.” I slumped in my chair. So, Rachel didn’t really like me; she wanted to murder me. On the other hand, if you've got to go, what better way than death by chocolate?

I rubbed my chin and stared at Rachel’s squeaky-clean plate. Did she fake her chocolate-induced orgasm? I shook my head. Impossible. In truth, I'd love someone to feed me a hundred-and-twenty packets of Chocolate Buttons. Rachel wasn’t really a murderer. She was misunderstood. I sighed. Since she dumped me for Dick, I'd never found another girl who understood my love for chocolate as she did. I straightened and smiled at Sergeant Braithwaite. “You said New Hall Prison…how do I arrange a visit?”

Susan Cornford

By Robert Baker

Twitter: @TheRomanceBloke

Robert Baker is a book blogger specializing in romance novels. He runs “The Romance Bloke” book blog website. He is also passionate about creative writing. You will frequently find him hanging out on Writing.Com with other wannabe authors. Robert works as a freelance content writer. He enjoys traveling with his family and horseback riding. He is a member of the judging panel for the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Awards 2021.

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