She was a quick study, his wife. She leapt at every opportunity to learn. Pottery classes, piano lessons, culture tours—her bright eyes took everything in. She excelled at what she learned, too, always top of her class. He loved that about her, loved to watch her long hands work, shaping and caressing the wet, chocolate-colored mass of clay.
She was always picking things up as she went. She said she hadn't learned enough in college and had to make up for lost time. In France, she learned to make croissants, with chilled butter and flour. In Italy, she learned to taste wines, rolling them over her tongue and breathing through her nose, her eyes wide and delighted. She had a lot of catching up to do. In college all she had learned (though she practiced this, of course, practiced all through France and Italy, both of them pretending practice rounds didn't count) was fucking other men.
He watched that, sometimes, too. Her bright eyes and long hands. Rolling it over her tongue. Taking it all in. He told himself he wouldn't love her nearly so much if she were sweet and vapid, like his friends' wives. It was the pinch of salt that did it for him, the bitterness on the palate.
He himself taught her to love real hot chocolate. Not the thin brown wash most people make, but a rich creamy liquid so thick it almost wouldn't pour, so dark it crinkled the tongue. Room service brought it that way in Switzerland, and he watched her long hands as she sipped.
“I never get tired of this kind,” she said, glowing. (Freshly fucked by room 216.) “Why isn't it cloying?”
“It's the pinch of salt that does it,” he told her, turning to the window. “Bittersweet, love.”
Edited by DrSpin