Anna felt the sun kiss her face with a gentle warmth as she walked down the Cour du Commerce de St-André. Her tan suede oxfords felt light upon the cobblestone road that was still damp from the early morning drizzle. Along the way, shopkeepers unlocked their doors to welcome the day’s clientele.
She saw the corner pâtisserie in the distance. Back home, her morning jaunt would have led her straight to Starbucks. In Paris, she felt more alive and didn’t need much of a caffeine jumpstart.
She left her apartment this morning with no agenda. Still, she was relieved to see the pâtisserie, as if that was her plan all along to find it. She tucked her indigo clutch under her arm and quickened her steps.
Once inside, the aromas of fresh bread, sugar, butter, and salt heightened her hunger. Suddenly, she wanted to eat – everything. She scanned the offerings behind the glass – baguette sandwiches, croissants, macarons, petit fours…it was hard to decide.
“You must try the éclair au chocolat,” said a voice from behind.
The slender young woman wore large, dark sunglasses that contrasted her straight shoulder-length blond hair. She wore no makeup except for the Vermilion lipstick that matched her red high heels.
Anna admired the simplicity of the young woman’s outfit – slender black jeans and a white cotton V-neck T-shirt, which she paired with a black patent-leather wallet that she held in her right hand. Her only embellishment was a delicate gold chain around her neck. Anna blushed, embarrassed that her appetite was showing.
“The éclair au chocolat is the best,” the young lady said. She lifted her sunglasses and rested them atop her head. Her blue eyes sparked with energy.
“Where is it?” Anna asked. The blond pointed to a corner section of the glass case before them. Anna saw the éclairs, neatly arranged side by side. They glistened with frosting. She was ready to order but the young lady spoke before she could.
“Deux éclairs au chocolat s’il vous plait,” the blond told the man behind the counter. “A gift for you,” she said to Anna.
“Oh no, you really don’t have…”
“And why not?” the blond asked. “It is, after all, my recommendation.” She said that last word with a perfectly accented tenacious flair. She handed Anna a white paper bag with the éclair and kept the other for herself. “Bon appétit, mademoiselle,” the blond said with a smile. And just like that she walked out of the pâtisserie, her red heels confidently going clickety-clack on the hardwood floor.
She paused only for a second to lower her glasses over her eyes before she stepped out of the door. It was then that Anna recalled reading somewhere that the word éclair could also mean “flash of lighting” – an appropriate name for the pastry that she was about to devour, quickly.