The next morning, just before the sun was fully up, Esperanza and Pierre made love again. This time, after Pierre blissfully erupted, instead of playing possum, he collapsed next to Esperanza, pulled her close, and held her till they both fell back asleep.

It was after noon when Pierre woke to find Esperanza standing at the foot of the bed wearing nothing but her black shawl over her shoulders, holding a tray of cookies in one hand and two cups of coffee in the other. “Quieres café, mi amor?” she asked him.

He didn’t answer her. He just sat up and took the two cups from her hand and let her sit next to him before giving one of them back to her. The two sat in bed enjoying their coffee together, not saying much, until Esperanza noticed an odd look on Pierre’s face.

“What is it?” she asked holding her steaming mug in front of her mouth with both hands.

“Your eyes,” he said.

Esperanza was prepared to hear how beautiful they were, something she had heard many times through the years. She felt a little disappointed, wishing that her new lover had come up with something more original to say. Then, he did.

“Something has happened,” he said. “They are no longer green.”

“What?” she said. “That is impossible.” She got off the bed and walked over to the bureau. She put down her coffee and picked up an overturned hand mirror. “These eyes are the eyes of a serpent. It’s been a sign of my curse all…” She looked at herself in the mirror and quietly finished her sentence, stunned. “…these years.”

Her eyes were black. So dark there was no telling the difference between the iris and pupil. She looked over at Pierre but quickly returned her gaze to the mirror. “I can’t believe it,” she said. “What does this mean?”

“I don’t know,” Pierre said. “But maybe it’s for the best. I don’t know if I can be with a woman who has eyes of a serpent.”

Esperanza shot a quick glare over at him. “Oh? I got news for you, Señor. You are stuck with me no matter what color my eyes are!”

“If you insist, mi amor.”

“I insist,” she said as she walked back to the bed, taking the mirror with her.

She sat down at the edge of the bed and looked into the mirror once more. Pierre came up behind her, straddled her, and put one arm around her while he held onto his coffee with the other. He kissed her on the back of her neck and rested his chin on her shoulder.

“Did you make chocolates today?” he asked, not sure how long she‘d been awake before him.

“Shit,” she said as she got up to check the clock. “It’s almost two.” She put the mirror down and adjusted her shawl to cover most of her naked body. As she quickly tiptoed to the front door, Pierre enjoyed watching her bare ass jiggle until she was out of sight.

The women out front were surprised to hear the metal bolt slide, unlocking the door before two o’clock. Esperanza didn’t swing both of the large doors open like she usually did. Instead, she just opened one barely enough to stick her head through, “Lo siento, ladies. There will be no chocolates today.”

The ladies giggled as they walked away, not saying anything in return and too hung over to notice the change in Esperanza’s eye color.

When Esperanza made it back to the bedroom, she found Pierre had finished his coffee and what was left of the cookies and was lying back in bed.

“You finished the cookies, I see,” Esperanza said as she spread her arms, opening her shawl and exposing her naked body. “Good, you’re going to need your energy.” She let the shawl drop to the floor and made her way into bed.

“Again?” Pierre asked.

“Twice is luck. Good or bad,” she said. “Three times is Destiny.”

***

Pierre brought over his duffle bag from the boarding house that very day, and for the next nine months, he continued to fix things around the shop. One of his tasks was to redo the shop’s sign. It now read, PANADERÍA DIAMANTÉ.

Esperanza had assumed the key to her secret ingredient was her built-up passion, or whatever it was that kept her eyes green. Whether it was that her eyes were now black or that she had a satisfying lover, she now knew she could not offer her overpriced chocolates with a money-back guarantee. She now had to make a living as a regular baker. She didn’t mind it. It was a fair trade for finally being happy.

The shelves in her shop were now filled with conchas, niño envuelto, pan fino, pata de mula, orejas, quequitos, pan picón, bisquetes, and, of course, chocolate croissants. She made a good living and was happy in her new life.

One of Pierre’s tasks, one that Doña Luz prophesied, was to turn the bedroom with the ocean view into a nursery. Several miracles happened on the night their bedroom illuminated the town. One of them was the conception of Pierre and Esperanza’s first child.

The day of the child’s birth was auspicious. The whole village gathered outside of the bakery to await news that would signal the beginning of another all-night celebration, like the one they’d enjoyed on the night of the conception. This time, though, they’d had months to prepare. The villagers had decorated the town, swept the streets, and even made a banner that read, BIENVENIDA. Musicians from different communities were invited to play. Bar and restaurant owners ordered extra beer and tequila. When Esperanza went into labor, fishermen set out to sea to gather fresh fish and shrimp for the occasion.

When the announcement was made, “It’s a girl!” the crowd erupted in cheers and the first of many bands began to play.

The delivery was flawless. The couple held each other’s hand and smiled with tears of joy in their eyes as the midwife cut the umbilical cord and bathed the newborn baby girl. Neither of them could believe that all those years of turmoil could have come to such a happy ending. But, as the attendant swaddled the unnamed baby, she couldn’t help but notice something peculiar. Curious, she looked at Esperanza and then at Pierre. Pierre and Esperanza looked at each other and then back at the midwife, losing their smiles and wondering what was wrong.

Finally, the midwife spoke unable to contain her concern. “Señora? Señor?” she said. “Disculpe, pero—who in your family has green eyes?”


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