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The Doughboy
by Jack Knowles

Carmine Antinori was born to be a baker. The son of Italian immigrants who worked day and night to keep their small bakery in business, Carmine grew up in the store. His parents were somewhat guilty over leaving the family back in Florence, so they kept their small family close. In the South Carolina coastal city where they lived, they were considered a bit odd for being foreign and for keeping to themselves. So Carmine spent his early childhood playing in the bakery, instead of with other children.

His Mother and Father loved him dearly and they showed their affection the way bakers would, with delicious sweets and pastries. Carmine became chubby. The whole family was very overweight. When it was finally time for him to enter school, the other kids didn't take too well to the fat kid who spoke with a strange accent and had a funny name. When they found out his parents were bakers, they immediately started calling him "doughboy".

As he grew older, his parents relied more and more on his better language skills to handle customers in the store and to maintain friendly ties with the neighbors. Once they were able to get a little ahead, his parents purchased a small rowhouse and moved the family out of the apartment over the bakery. Carmine grew up socializing more with adults than others his age. He was glad to get away from his classmates and their constant taunting. After his Father passed away while Carmine was in junior high, he had no time for anything other than school and the bakery.

By the time he graduated from high school, Carmine had become a talented pastry chef. He sold exotic cakes and desserts to local restaurants and resorts and the business began to prosper. He didn't go on to college, his career was laid out before him. He still worked slavishly. But he had so few outside interests, he didn't really worry about making a lot of money. He spent what little time he had away from the bakery helping the neighbors, many of whom were getting on in years. His Mother began to scold him for not spending more time with people his own age. She wanted to see him meet a nice girl and get married. But at twenty-one, he'd never really had a friend, much less a girlfriend. And with a physique that still had people calling him "doughboy", he didn't think he'd ever have one.

The neighborhood began to change. Young professionals began to move in and refurbish some of the rowhouses. Relenting to the constant nagging of the yuppies, he finally put in a cappuccino machine and a few small tables out on the sidewalk. The business was solid as a rock. None of this seemed to affect Carmine. He still lived in the little row house with his Mother, worked at the store dealing with the customers personally and was the good Samaritan of his block.

He got along all right until his Mother passed away. Without even the semblance of a family around him, he began to feel even more lonely. But the extent of his social skills was dealing with his customers and doing for his elderly neighbors. He was so introverted that there seemed to be nothing to bring him out of his shell, until Kerri moved in next door.

With the little rowhouses packed side by side, it was said that good fences made good neighbors. But Carmine's next door neighbors had had a rather large and enthusiastic St. Bernard who'd eventually made a shambles of the fence between their yards. The dog eventually came to think of both yards as his territory. When they moved out, Carmine took out the shattered remains of the wall with the intention of replacing it. Then he received a letter from the real estate agent threatening him with legal action if he attempted any other physical changes to the property. So he didn't replace the fence and left the area one big yard. The house was vacant anyway and it didn't seem to matter.

So it came as a complete shock, when on an unseasonably warm November Saturday, Carmine went out in his bathrobe and slippers to take out the trash, only to find his new neighbor out in the backyard sunning herself in a miniscule bikini. When he saw her he was dumbstruck. She was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, flowing black hair, pouting red lips, a tightly sculpted body and impossibly long legs. He stood their for a moment, forgetting where he was and what he was doing. She looked up and greeted him with a sunny "hello!" He muttered a few incomprehensible things, he had no idea what he was even trying to say. He dropped the bag of garbage by the trash cans and retreated back into the house.

He sat in his kitchen, occasionally stealing glimpses out the window at the sun goddess in the backyard. He was terrified that she would catch him spying on her. He scolded himself for not saying something better and schemed of a way to make a better impression. Eventually, he fell back on his old, familiar patterns, bribery with sweets. He decided to bake a special, luscious cheesecake for her and play the role of welcome wagon.

When the dessert was finished, she was still out tanning herself. She had turned over on to her stomach, revealing the fact that the bikini was a thong. Carmine's gaze was lost in the sight of her magnificently taut bottom. He suddenly realized that, at any moment, she might look up and see him staring lustily at her derriere. He backed quickly away from the window.

The minute she got up and went inside, he snatched up the cheesecake and flew from the kitchen, through the living room, out the front door and up onto her porch. He knocked on the door, a bit too excitedly, and realized to his horror that, when she answered the door, he was still breathing heavily from his sudden sprint. "Hi!" he gasped, "I'm Carmine, Carmine Antinori." He paused a second and pointed over to his house, "your next door neighbor." He paused another second, then pointed towards the backyard, his gesture so overanimated that he nearly dropped the cheesecake and struck the girl in the face. "We just met, remember?" he asked, suddenly questioning the reality of their meeting.

"Hi," she said, "yes, I remember."

Before she could say much more, Carmine shoved the box with the cake into her hands. As she reached up to accept it, the front of her robe fell open revealing her sun-kissed, bikinied body. Carmine was struck speechless. She shifted the box over to her left hand and held out her right hand for a handshake. "My name is Kerri Watson." Carmine took her hand, but still couldn't think of a thing to say. Mostly all he could comprehend was the beating of his heart and the sound of the blood rushing through his veins.

There was an awkward pause while Kerri stood there with the package in one hand and Carmine still holding the other. She nodded towards the box and asked, "What have we here?"

The question shook Carmine out of his fog just enough to let go of her hand and murmur, "a cheesecake." "I'm a baker," he added. He had the sudden realization of how transparent this whole ruse was. "It's a welcome to the neighborhood. I'm always giving my neighbors samples of my work," he said to try to make the episode seem more casual. He realized that he'd better pepper the neighborhood with desserts to cover his story in case she asked around.

"Oh," Kerri sighed, "I don't really eat desserts." She ran her hand over her firm, flat abs. "I model and compete in bikini contests, so I have to watch my figure." Carmine nearly blurted out an overexcited praising of her body, but he was far too shy. He was sure it would come out crude. Instead, he fell silent again and struggled for something to say.

"Well," Kerri broke the silence, "it was nice meeting you. But I really need to get dressed now."

"Yes," Carmine responded, "it was really nice seeing you." He blushed when he realized the other way his statement could be taken and rushed with embarrassment back into his house.

For days, his every spare moment was spent contemplating other ways to get close to Kerri. She didn't appear to like sweets. She'd taken the cheesecake he'd brought her out of courtesy, but he'd seen the box several days later in her trash, the cheesecake inside almost completely uneaten. If only he could make her something completely irresistible. That was it! She would be the ultimate test of his culinary skills. He would concoct new creations to tempt her. If one creation didn't work, it was an automatic excuse to try again, and thereby see her again. He hoped she would go for it.

He whipped up a variation of one of the bakery's bestsellers, a tiramisu, but this one was laced with Tia Maria and espresso flavored cream. He took it over to Kerri's, this time somewhat more confident because of his plan. When she answered the door in a figure revealing spandex bodysuit, his anxiousness came right back. She was in the middle of a workout. A little out of breath, she gasped out "hi, neighbor!" as she wiped the sweat from her forehead with one end of the towel draped over her shoulders.

"Hi, it's me Carmine, your next door neighbor," he said, cursing inwardly that he had more or less repeated what she had just said. He decided to ignore it and forge ahead with his plan. "Look, I know you're not big on sweets. But that's just the reason why you'd be a perfect critic of my pastries. So I'd like bring you samples of my work and see if I can't create confections so delicious that they'd even tempt you."

Kerri reached over with a giggle and laid a hand on Carmine's shoulder. He felt an almost electric surge course from his shoulder through his body. "You're an evil one, aren't you?" Kerri laughed, "I never said I wasn't big on sweets. I said I don't eat them much because I'm watching my weight."

For a moment, Carmine was stymied. Then he replied, "even so, if I can tempt the resolve of such a disciplined person, it would still be a good test."

Kerri put her hands on her hips, then thrust out her chest and sucked in her tummy to accentuate her gorgeous, muscled curves. "Are you trying to undo all my hard work?" she playfully asked.

"Well," Carmine sheepishly countered, "the holidays are coming soon, and everyone does it up over the holidays."

"Boy," Kerri grimaced, "that's another reason I've got to keep it together. I'll be at my Mother's at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's because of her that I don't eat desserts. When I was little, I had a terrible sweet tooth, my Mother practically put locks on the refrigerator and cupboards. She still has the same measurements and weighs exactly the same as she did when she competed in beauty pageants in college. The first thing she makes me do when I get home is strip naked and get on the scale. If I've gained an ounce or an inch anywhere, there's hell to pay!"

Kerri's story left Carmine with the sudden mental picture of her naked body, he felt a sudden shudder of sexual tension. He still went gamely on with his plan, it was all he had. "Even better, let me work on some desserts for you to take home. Your Mother sounds like an even tougher nut to crack than you. Maybe we can get her to ease up. In the meantime, try this cappucine tiramisu."

Kerri reached out and slowly took the cake. "I like that idea," she said, "let's see if we can't find a chink in my Mother's size 3 armor. Do your best, Carmine," then she winked, "or your worst. Thanks for the cake! I'll let you know what I think!"

Carmine went to work on sumptuous variations of classic holiday desserts, like a sweet potato cheesecake. He did low-fat fresh berry tarts that sold like crazy at the bakery. For Kerri's Mother, he did a version of the tarts loaded with rich, fattening pastry cream. He debated whether to tell Kerri that the pie was not the low-fat version. He decided that the less she knew, the better she could sell it to her strict Mother.

He walked over to Kerri's across their connected backyard. He almost lost all the desserts on one of the wooden steps up to her back stoop. It was loose and wobbly, another victim of the St. Bernhard that had lived there before. As he knocked on her kitchen door, he thought he'd offer to fix the step for her. It was the kind of thing he was always doing around the neighborhood. He knocked for quite a long time. He'd just given up and was turning to leave when Kerri opened the door.

"Hi," she said, she was wrapping a slight robe tightly around her body, "I thought I heard someone knocking. Sorry it took me so long, I was in my tanning bed. It takes a while to turn it off and get out of it. And I sweat so much in it, I need a minute to dry off." She laughed, "I guess my secret is out, I have a fake tan! But weather doesn't always permit laying out, especially this time of year. Plus I want to avoid tan lines, so I don't wear a stitch. I couldn't do that with us sharing a yard. That would be an imposition, wouldn't it."

Carmine's head was spinning with erotic thoughts of Kerri's tanned body, naked and damp with perspiration. "No," he stammered, "please, do what you have to do." He worried that "please" almost came out like begging. "Weather permitting," he said, trying to appear relaxed and jovial, "we can't have you running around with a 'fake tan'. Oh, here are your Thanksgiving desserts. There's a cheesecake and a couple of low-fat berry tarts, strawberry-kiwi and raspberry-blackberry-blueberry."

"Low-fat," Kerri whined, "I thought we were going to try to fatten my Mother up, at least a little bit."

"Well, we have to crawl before we walk," Carmine declared, "let's break down her defenses with these and then we'll hit her hard all the way through to Christmas." Kerri's laughter and the secret that he had over her had him feeling unusually confident. He put his hands casually in his pockets and sauntered down the steps. He forgot the broken step and ended up falling flat on his face.

Kerri yelped and came running down the stairs, almost falling herself. Carmine was a little disoriented. It didn't help that, in the calamity, Kerri was being less careful about keeping the robe closed. Carmine got a sudden glimpse of her silky black pussy. Kerri struggled to help Carmine's considerable bulk up. "Are you all right!" she asked.

Carmine remained a little doubled over. He wasn't in any pain. He was trying to hide the erection he was getting from the constant flashes of Kerri's naked body as her robe kept falling open due to their awkward situation. He was also extremely embarrassed and didn't want to look her in the eye. "I'm fine," he said, "I should really fix that for you."

"Oh, no!" she said, "you've done enough already. You've been very generous and sweet. I'll have Blake fix that."

As Carmine struggled clumsily through his back door, he wondered who Blake was. He hoped it was her landlord or handyman. But he had a sick premonition that he wasn't.

Next, Carmine prepared an incredible collection of Christmas cookies, candies and sweets. He arranged them on an ornate platter with a plum pudding in the center accompanied with a molded hard sauce, pure butter and sugar.

He went over to Kerri's, where, as usual, she was working out. He brought in the tray of goodies and asked her how her Thanksgiving had gone. Kerri laughed. She was wearing a lycra crop top and matching exercise panties, that tightly caressed her beautiful firm curves and exposed a deliciously cute belly button. She grabbed her stomach with both hands. "Doesn't this gut tell you!" she exclaimed.

To Carmine, her tummy looked as flat and firm as it always had. It didn't tell him a thing. He stood there with a confused look, not knowing what to say.

"But," Kerri continued, "it was a total failure on the Mother front. She didn't touch the cheesecake, so, of course, neither could I. She loved the low-fat tarts. She want's me to keep her well stocked with them throughout the holidays. I'm afraid she's not going to go for any of those fattening things you have there. Me," she said gingerly picking up one of the smaller cookies, "I guess I'll have to schedule a few extra workouts."

Carmine chuckled to himself that the tart ploy had worked so well. Kerri seemed to think the laughter was for her little comment. "Well," Carmine said, "I'll let you get back to your workout. And I have some tarts to make."

Carmine baked like crazy. The holidays were his busiest season. He barely saw Kerri other than to drop off more desserts, and, of course, tarts for her Mother. But he noticed that she was always returning empty trays to him. So he was gratified that she was enjoying his creations. Even if he couldn't enjoy her company as much as he'd originally intended. Things weren't going as perfectly as he'd hoped. But he thought they were going well, until one day about a week before Christmas.

Carmine closed up the bakery for the night and went directly over to Kerri's with several trays of holiday cookies, small cakes, petit-fours and pastries decorated for Christmas. Kerri had specially requested them for a party she said she was having. She'd also told him that he was invited to the party.

He knocked on the door and heard her call out to come on in. As he came through the door, she was coming down the stairs. She was a vision, completely dolled up in a long, slinky red dress. Her beautiful black tresses were up in an elegant style, revealing her warm brown eyes, exquisite face and lovely shoulders and neck. The dress was really rather simple, the type only a woman with the right beauty and attitude could dare to wear and carry off magnificently.

He stood barely inside the door, awestruck by the sight before him. For a moment, he fantasized that this was to be a private party for the two of them. Suddenly he was struck from behind by someone coming through the front door. His head smarted from the door hitting the back of his head. Grimacing with pain he turned to see a tall, tanned man. The man brushed right past him and went up to Kerri. He grabbed her and kissed her roughly. "Well, I don't believe it," He said, "you're actually ready on time."

"Blake," Kerri said, "I want you to meet my next door neighbor, Carmine Antinori. Carmine's the one who been doing all this holiday baking for us. He made these trays for our party tonight."

"Really," Blake said, finally turning to take notice of Carmine. "Let me take some of those for you," he said as he grabbed one of the boxes and ripped it open. "Man, these are just first rate. They're gonna be the hit of my company's Christmas party. My old man just loves these, it'll get me in real good with 'im," he mumbled through a mouth of cookies. "I guess I don't have to tell you that," he said poking a finger into Carmine's bulging belly, "looks like you've been sampling quite a bit of your own work there."

Carmine sized up Blake. He had a flat top haircut and beady eyes. His physique reminded of him of the jocks in high school who'd been especially cruel in tormenting him. He was wearing white pants and a double-breasted navy blue blazer. Something about the way he was dressed made Carmine think to ask if the party was on a ship, but he didn't. Blake continued on, "he reminds me of somebody--that doughboy on TV. Hey, Kerri, don't he remind you of that doughboy on TV?" Blake poked his finger in to Carmine's gut again. "Hey, doughboy, aren't you supposed to giggle or somethin' when I do this?"

"Blake," Kerri snapped, "leave him alone." Carmine flushed with anger at Blake and with embarrassment that Kerri was coming to his protection. "I invited Carmine to the party."

"Great idea," Blake sneered, "you gotta red suit? We can have you play Santa, 'cause you don't need no stuffin'." He let out a loud barking laugh.

As much as he wanted to spend time with Kerri, there was no way Carmine was going to suffer through an evening with this jerk. "Oh, I needed to tell you I can't make it, sorry," he said to Kerri, "something came up."

Kerri seemed genuinely upset, "are you sure?"

"Yeah," Carmine replied, "I've got someplace else I need to be." He prayed she wouldn't ask for more details of his completely made up excuse. Instead she did something that was, for him, even worse.

"Well," she said, "I'd have never asked you to go to such trouble if you weren't going to be at the party. I wanted you there to take the bows for your magnificent creations. But if you're not going to be there, we really have to pay you for your efforts. These aren't samplers. I asked you to make these. Blake pay him for these."

Blake looked exasperated for a minute, then said, "sure, I mean, my old man really loves your baking. Anything I can do to get in good with him is money well spent." He pulled out a money clip bulging with hundred dollar bills. From the center of the roll, he pulled out a five dollar bill and tried to hand it to Carmine.

"No," Carmine said, pushing it away, "it was my pleasure."

"Well," Blake said, "we'll stop by that bakery you work at and tell your boss to give you a raise."

"Uh-huh," Carmine murmured, "well, you to have a good time and I'll have a good time at my. . . thing." He wanted to tell Kerri how gorgeous she looked, especially because this arrogant clod obviously wasn't going to. But he was too embarrassed. Instead he excused himself and left.

When he got back home, Carmine flopped himself down on the sofa. He couldn't believe things had gone so wrong so quickly. Not only had he barely seen Kerri, all his creations were not going to her, they were going to her obnoxious jerk of a boyfriend. He didn't see how he could have made any progress with her. If the gifts of sweets weren't going to work, what could he do? He felt like there was no way out. If he stopped bringing over the desserts either Kerri would think she'd offended him and even their slight relationship would be off. Or she'd ask him what had happened and he'd have to offer some explanations he was to embarrassed to reveal.

He continued to bring over sweets to Kerri, although his heart wasn't in it as it was before. He knew most of his food was going to Blake, not to Kerri. Sometimes he just left the boxes on her back stoop. He was glad when the holidays were over, he knew it would seem only natural if his deliveries became less and less frequent. He got to know Blake's car, a brand new Corvette. He avoided even going out of his own house when he saw it parked out front.

Shortly after Christmas, the area was hit by the worst winter weather in Carmine's memory. The snow was proceeded and followed by ice storms that left most of the town and all of his neighborhood without power. His little bakery was equipped with a back-up generator that he bought from an army surplus. It was more than large enough to keep power to his refrigerator and the coffee machines. He opened up and offered free coffee to everyone to help them cope with the storm.

It turned out to be the first party Carmine had ever hosted in his life. Everyone in the neighborhood came, the old folks and the yuppies. Without heat, they were happy to crowd into the tiny bakery, out front and back in the kitchen. A local television station stopped by to tape the action and to interview Carmine. Everyone was cheering him. Carmine was excited when Kerri came in. He was proud that she saw him in one of the few moments of triumph in his life.

Eventually, people filtered out and soon just Carmine and Kerri were left. Carmine locked up the front door and flipped the sign from "OPEN" to "CLOSED". Then he poured a cup of coffee for himself and Kerri and they sat together at one of the little tables and began to talk.

"It was so nice of you to do this," Kerri said, "you're a genuinely nice person." Inside, Carmine groaned, nice usually meant that a woman saw you as a friend, nothing more. "I haven't seen you much lately. I guess this has been your busy time of the year," she continued.

"Yeah, it's a busy time," was all Carmine could think of to say.

"It's too bad you've been so busy. I would have loved it if you could have come to that party. I had a terrible time. No one wanted to talk to me, you know, the boss's son's girlfriend. No one there seemed to like Blake. He says it because they're all jealous," she offered, "I don't know. But it would have been nice to have someone there with me." She reached out and took Carmine's hand.

The words heartened Carmine but he couldn't think of anything to say. "Anyway," Kerri changed subjects, "thanks for helping me with my Mother. I'm not sure how with all those low-fat fruit tarts we've been giving to her, but I think she's actually putting on a little weight. Now, thanks to you, I might finally get a little breathing room."

"Actually," Carmine drawled, "more thanks to me than you might think. The tarts I've been giving you to give to your Mother aren't the low-fat ones I sell here." He revealed the rest of his little secret.

When she was done hearing the details, Kerri playfully punched Carmine in the arm. "You little sneak," she exclaimed, "I was eating those tarts too! No wonder I putting on a 'winter coat' of extra pounds."

"Oh," Carmine moaned, "you look just fine. You look great! You're absolutely gorgeous!" He was surprised to hear the praise actually coming out of his mouth.

"Thanks," Kerri blushed, "I guess I'm a little hard on myself. I always hear my Mother's voice in the back of my head."

They went on talking for hours. They talked about how similar it was that they both followed in their parents footsteps. Carmine revealed how large a role his parents played in his life, how little room had been left in his life for other things. As many similarities as they had, they definitely had their differences. Carmine had always felt total love and acceptance from his parents, but Kerri had never felt like she'd ever been able to please her Mother. Carmine had felt very close to his parents, but wasn't popular at school. Kerri was the most popular girl in her class, but she never felt her Mother was much of a friend.

Eventually, they realized that the sun had gone down. It was extremely dark without streetlights. Carmine got a flashlight out of the toolkit. He walked Kerri home. As they stopped on her front porch, she turned and said with a giggle, "I'd invite you in. But I don't have any power, so there's nothing I can offer you." Then she kissed him. "You've given me and everyone enough for today. Thanks for walking me home and thanks for such a lovely day."

Carmine floated home on a cloud of romance. He hardly noticed the pain when he stubbed his toe on the table in the dark.

The day after the ice cleared and life in the town was getting back to normal, Carmine heard a knock on his door shortly after getting home from work. As he opened the door, Kerri leaped into his arms and hugged him tightly. "Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you," she cried.

"What?" Carmine stammered, "what did I do?"

"It's my Mother!" she exclaimed, "She was snowed in with nothing to eat in the house except your tarts! As soon as I heard that, I made her go to the bathroom, strip and get on the scale. She's gained over fifteen pounds since Thanksgiving! She even has a little pot belly. It was great! After all these years, I finally get to give her a little taste of her own medicine. And I owe it all to your and your stealth tarts!"

"You didn't tell her what was up, did you?" Carmine cried out, "She'd kill me!"

"Are you crazy?" Kerri exclaimed, "she'd kill both of us. She can never know. She can never find out! Anyway, I'd finally be free, if it weren't for Blake."

Carmine lost a lot of his enthusiasm at the mention of that name. "Blake," he asked, "What's up with Blake?"

"I swear," Kerri said, "It's like my Mother planned it. She set us up, you know." Actually, Carmine hadn't known. But now that he did, he was glad he'd played a key role in her downfall. Kerri continued, "Now that she's off my case, Blake's right on it. He found out about some of the trips and prizes I've won doing bikini contests. He wants in on it. He said he wants to enjoy a few things in life without having to go to his Father to beg for them. He says he wants to enjoy life now while he's young. He doesn't want to wait until his Father dies and leaves him the business. I told him that was a pretty cold attitude. But he's too full of his little schemes now to listen. Believe it or not, my Mother is right behind him."

Carmine realized that he needed to get Kerri away from Blake. For her sake, even if he couldn't have her.

"Well," he replied, "You shouldn't have any problem winning any kind of beauty contest."

"Thanks," she said, "I appreciate hearing that." Then she gave him a quick kiss. "I have to go now, Blake's going to be by to pick me up soon and I need to be ready on time. He get so upset, if I'm late."

Carmine could see that just as he did, Kerri fell back on the patterns she'd learned in childhood in her desparate need to please a domineering figure. He vowed to find a way to free her from her destructive relationship with Blake. Perhaps if she did fatten up a bit. He would always find her beautiful. But those contests were so superficial, just a little extra weight, a tiny bit less muscle tone and Kerri would no longer be winning the big prizes. He was also fairly sure that Blake would be shallow enough to drop Kerri for whatever hardbody started winning the contests instead of her.

It was easier said than done. Kerri was driven to stay in peak shape. The more fattening desserts he gave for her to sample, the more she worked out. She was getting in such good shape that she was considering entering fitness contests. Most of his desserts appeared to be going to Blake who was definitely getting thick in the middle. Carmine was lost for a more successful approach when fate lent a hand.

Carmine was sitting in his kitchen, preparing to go to work when he was startled by screams of pain from the backyard. He went out his back yard to find Kerri lying on the ground writhing in pain. It was obvious what had happened. Blake had never repaired the step. Kerri had gone out for her first jog of the spring and had been tripped up by the broken step. Carmine was pretty out of shape and carrying a considerable amount of his own weight. But he managed to pick up Kerri, put her in his car and get her to the emergency room.

Kerri had severely wrenched her knee joint. There wasn't going to be any permanent damage, but the leg needed to be immobilized while it healed. She'd have to stay off the leg for almost six weeks. Carmine took her home and got her situated in her bed. He promised her that he would bring over her meals and anything else she might need. She only had to ask. She whined that there would be no way for her to work out and stay in shape. Carmine shushed her and told her to worry about that when she was better.

Blake made it fairly easy on Carmine. Kerri mostly needed care, there was little she could do. Blake was an essentially selfish person, he couldn't deal with someone else needing and getting all the attention. When Kerri's condition was clear to him, he stopped coming over. At first he called occasionally, then not at all.

Pastries were Carmine's forte, but he was an excellent Italian chef. He prepared his favorite delicacies from throughout Italy for Kerri, lasagna stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella and Italian sausage, rich linguini carbonara with bacon, proscuitto and sweet peas in a romano cream sauce, homemade shells and raviolis stuffed with all kinds of sumptuous meats, mushrooms and cheeses. And, of course, dinner was always followed with an indescribably delicious dessert.

The food was so good, Kerri couldn't help but eat heartily. The more she ate, the better her appetite became. Carmine could see that his delicious meals coupled with a lack of activity and exercise were causing Kerri's body to change. Her firm thighs and tight bottom were becoming soft and flabby. At first, her firm abs were shaded with a slight padding of fat. Eventually, the bricks in her belly turned to jelly. Her breasts were becoming fuller and her face was filling out slightly.

When Carmine finally brought Kerri home from the doctor, she was frantic. Blake had heard from her Mother that Kerri was coming home. Now he was coming over. "He's going to freak when he sees me like this!" Kerri cried, "look at me! I've gone to pot!" Carmine tried to calm her down. "Wait right there!" she yelled at him, then she huffed and puffed her way up the stairs.

A few minutes later she came called down from the top of the stairs, "You're not going to believe this." She came down the stairs wearing on of her thong bikinis. She grabbed the bulge peaking out from over her bikini bottoms. "Look at this, this is disgusting." She turned and slapped her flabby tush. "All my bikinis are thongs for my competitions! I don't have any business being in any of these bikinis!"

Carmine thought she looked great. She had a bit of a pot belly and her bottom was a rounder, she was gorgeous. To call her pleasantly plump was to damn her with faint praise. She was beautifully full-bodied. He'd found her breath-taking before and he found her equally stunning now. He realized that as much as he adored her body, he loved her, Kerri, the person. "You are absolutely lovely," he told her.

"You're nice, but you are absolutely crazy!" Kerri sighed wearily, "You have to take me to the mall. Blake's gonna want to see me in a bikini. He always wants me to parade around in a bikini. I've got to find a bikini that will help me hide this," she said, patting her belly, "until I can get my hardbody back."

They took off for the mall in a panic. Kerri rushed from store to store trying on bikinis and modeling them for Carmine. "How do I look in this," she'd ask about suit after suit, spinning around so Carmine could see her from all angles.

"You look great!" Carmine answered enthusiastically each time.

"A lot of help you are," she'd exclaim. Eventually, she gave up on Carmine and asked the store clerks. They were even more enthusiastic. Oh, they'd cry, what I wouldn't do for a body like that. Even the skinny little beach girl in the surfer shop said she wished she had a chest that looked that good in a bandeau top. Kerri just became more exasperated.

Carmine felt guilty that he was having one of the best times of his life while Kerri was obviously so upset. But watching her model bikini after bikini, turning her body to give him a full view of every luscious curve exceeded his fantasies. Finally, after nervously purchasing over a dozen suits at almost as many stores, Kerri asked Carmine to take her home so she could get ready for Blake.

Carmine was sitting in his living room watching television and enjoying some of the leftover lasagna when he heard Blake's Corvette roar up. He heard Blake walk right into her rowhouse as he always did, even though he hadn't shown his face around for over a month. Blake was barely in the house three seconds when Carmine heard a terrible commotion from next door. A second later, when he heard something crash against the wall their houses shared, Carmine got up and went next door.

He walked right into Kerri's house to find her standing in the middle of her living room. She'd made herself up beautifully. She was wearing one of her new bikinis with a bandeau top that accentuated her new cleavage and full panties that came up almost to her navel, slightly holding in her belly and bottom. She was trembling with her face down. She was trying to hide her tummy with one of her hands.

Blake was standing beside her seething. On the floor were two broken wine glasses and a bottle of white wine spilling out on to the carpet. She'd tried to meet Blake in her bikini with a welcoming bottle of wine.

"Look at you," Blake growled and smacked Kerri on the fanny, "why don't we just get you a barrel. Isn't that what you put pork in?"

Blake saw Carmine. "You, doughboy, you had to have something to do with this! You and your damn cakes and pies and shit! Look what you've done to her figure. She's gone to pot! Look at this," he said yanking down the front of her bikini bottoms, "she's so fat, she can't even suck it in!" He started to slap Kerri's tummy with his other hand."

He turned back to talk to Kerri, "Is this what you want, to be like him, that fat, disgusting tub of shit!" He tore at the band of the bikini bottoms. Once ripped the panties fell down and gathered at Kerri's hips. Kerri's gut slumped out. She tried to brush away Blake's rough hands. "Look at you," his said poking his finger into her belly, "you're the doughgirl." Then he smacked upside the back of her head, so her hair tumbled out of the elegant bun she had set it in. "And I'll put my hands on you however I feel, doughgirl!"

Rage welled up in Carmine. All his life he'd taken that abuse. But he wouldn't tolerate it directed at the woman he loved. "That's enough," he yelled, "you leave her alone." He crossed the room to Blake, balled up a fist and struck at Blake with all his might. Unfortunately, he didn't have much experience with fighting. For a moment, he thought he might have broken his hand.

Then he heard Blake sneer, "giggle this one off, doughboy." Then he drove a blow into Carmine's midsection that knocked the wind out of him. Carmine doubled over in pain. The next blow was right to the face and put Carmine's lights out.

When he first regained consciousness, Carmine was only aware of pain. But after that a pleasant feeling ran through him. He came to the realization that he was lying on Kerri's couch, his head cradled in Kerri's soft and warm lap while she dabbed at his injuries with a cold compress. "My hero," she smiled, "how are you feeling?"

"Oh," Carmine groaned, "just fine and dandy." He felt a stinging pain in his side.

"Sorry about that," Kerri whispered, "Blake felt the need to kick you once in the ribs on his way out."

"But he's gone," Carmine asked, "for good?"

"You won't see him around here anymore, that for such," Kerri declared, "Good riddance to bad rubbish!"

"I knew he couldn't take too much of me pummeling his fists with my face," Carmine laughed weakly.

"What were you trying to do, anyway?" Kerri demanded, "He might have killed you."

"I couldn't allow him to treat you like that," Carmine said, "you deserve to be cared for and loved."

"Well, thank you. And as far as what I deserve, this lucky girl is about to receive far more than she could ever deserve." Then she leaned over close and gave Carmine a long and passionate kiss. When she was done, she asked, "are you feeling better?"

"I think it's a miracle cure," Carmine responded.

"Then let's go upstairs and get a little," she paused, "exercise."

They went up to her bedroom. Kerri stretched out in front of Carmine on her bed, still wearing the torn suit. "I have to agree with Blake on one thing," Carmine said. An expression of disappointment crossed Kerri's face. "This bikini has got to go." With that, he pulled off the tattered remains of her bikini.

Kerri laughed. "Turnabout's fair play." She ripped off Carmine's shirt, then stripped off his belt and tore open his pants. Then they made passionate love all night. Carmine explored every inch of her adored body. She enjoyed the full passion of making love with a man who loved her completely.

There was a June wedding, seven months to the day after the time Carmine had first seen his goddess sunning herself in the backyard. When she found out about the history of people dying young in Carmine's family, she insisted that he join her in a more healthy lifestyle. But with a constant supply of Carmine's good cooking, Kerri put on a few more pounds and became pleasantly plump.

Now that she no longer had to compete and with the total support of a man who loved her, occasionally Kerri found she wanted to participate in a bikini contest. Particularly when there was a romantic trip she could share with Carmine as a prize. She was a little shocked to find that she did as well as she ever did, even with the added pounds. Carmine wasn't surprised at all, and he laughed at her. "You've never been more lovely. You practically glow!"

"Well," Kerri said before she kissed him passionately, "being in love must agree with me."

Then,in the winter months, when the contest circuit was over, they both enjoyed plumping up on Carmine's sumptuous desserts. At their winter weight, when they both had their little pot bellies, they would poke each other in the tummies and call each other "doughboy" and "doughgirl". And finally, it felt good.