You wouldn’t think it now, but the women who gathered in front of Esperanza Diamanté’s chocolate shop used to hate her. Not anymore though, now they admire her almost to the point of worship. They bless the day she set foot in their little village. Not just today’s group of women, but all of the women who bought her chocolates. They feel sorry for her too, these ladies. For since the day she’d arrived in Barra, seven years ago, Esperanza Diamanté had yet to take a lover.

It was three minutes till two on Saturday afternoon. The women were waiting for Esperanza to open her shop, as they always did. The store’s massive floor-to-ceiling doors opened at two pm on the nose every day. By two-thirty, the goods were sold out. None of the women waiting were first-time customers. Many had been buying Esperanza’s chocolates from the beginning.

They’d had no reason to hate her when she first arrived. No reason other than what they made up in their heads. She came to town on a Monday. The flood of people that had poured in for the holy week of Semana Santa was receding. The buses arrived nearly empty but left full. For the rest of the year, until the next Semana Santa, the small fishing village of Barra de Navidad would be a ghost town.

As soon as Esperanza stepped off the bus, rumors started spreading. It was her beauty that disturbed the women of the village. A woman this beautiful could have any man she wanted. Of course, each of the women in Barra thought for sure theirs was the man she wanted.

In the short time it took for Esperanza to walk from the bus station to Doña Luz’s old bakery, the whole town became aware of the strange, beautiful, husband-stealing woman who had just arrived. She was so stunning that sections of the village seemed to freeze in time as she walked by. Even after she passed, it took several seconds for people to thaw out and resume their normal activities.

She carried two old leather bags, which contained everything she owned. Her long, black hair draped over her bare shoulders. Her white cotton blouse had elastic at the top and bottom. The top of her blouse was pulled down, exposing her shoulders, and the bottom fit snugly just under her ample bosoms—which bounced with every step she took. The cotton top was so sheer that if she ever got caught in the rain, there would be no mystery as to what she was hiding underneath.

From the bottom of her blouse to the top of her skirt’s waistband was nothing but exposed brown skin. If one got close enough, one could see a light trail of hair, bleached by the sun, that led from her belly button to deep, down into her panties, had she been wearing any. Her skirt was made of the same simple cotton as her blouse, but dyed turquoise. It flowed from her waist all the way down to her feet. She had the exact top and skirt in her luggage, except her second skirt was red. These two skirts and two blouses, a black shawl, and the bathing suit she’d bought the day before were the only clothes she had in her possession, the only clothes she owned.

On her feet were finely handmade leather thong sandals that had pieces of turquoise with red specks on the strap that went from her ankle to between her toes. The ankle strap had little silver charms that hung down and made a little jingle as she walked. It was as if the sandals were meant to draw the attention away from her figure or her piercing green eyes, but it was useless. Even her feet were arousing. They were flawless, except that her second toe was longer than her big toe. But even this flaw was appealing. As anyone knows, this is a sign of a passionate lover.

This was all in the past now. The women of the village not only loved and respected her, but they trusted her. Most of all, they revered her because of her chocolates. Because of the pleasure they brought. Because of what her chocolates had done to improve their lives and all of the village. They felt in her debt and wanted nothing but the best for her.

It was two p.m. when the ladies heard the metal bolt on the other side of the giant doors unlatch. Both doors simultaneously swung open. There she was, the beautiful Esperanza, with her green eyes, black hair, white cotton blouse, red skirt, and fancy sandals. “Come in, ladies. There are plenty of chocolates for all of you.”