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The Lady and the Octopus
by Io

Peter and Holly swam along the ledge far below the water's surface, the trails of their bubbles merging as they rose toward the sunlight. Holly motioned for Peter to look at a small pile of scallop shells on the ocean's floor, outside a small cave. Peter shined his dive light into the cave and saw two black eyes reflected in the light. He motioned to Holly to head for the surface and watched her as she slowly ascended. She wore a purple and black wet suit and her long blond hair was plaited into a single braid which hung down almost to her waist. At their first decompression stop, he signaled to her that he was puzzled about something.

When they reached the surface, Peter quickly removed his mask.

"Did you = see that?"

"I sure did. What was it? It looked like an octopus."

"It was definitely an octopus, Holly. But it looked like a giant octopus. That can't be, though. They don't live in tropical waters. I can't understand this."

"That's impossible, Peter. The giant octopus lives in the northern Pacific in cold water. This is the Caribbean and the water is anything but cold. Giant octopi are totally unknown around here. Do you think it's a new species?"

"I don't know, Holly, but you and I are definitely going to investigate this further. This could mean tenure for both of us." Peter and Holly had been in Bonaire for several weeks. The purpose of their trip was to study the spawning habits of the parrot fish. Their research was being funded by a Japanese firm which was hoping to begin breeding the parrot fish in captivity.

"Peter, what do you know about the giant octopus?" "Well, I know that they can consume enormous amounts of food and that they gain weight rapidly. It's not uncommon for them to gain over a pound a week. The largest giant octopus ever recorded weighed 600 pounds, but most males weigh about 100 pounds."

"This could be a totally new species. We really don't know anything about it."

"What about the parrot fish?"

"They'll still be there when we get through with this. This is just too important to pass up."

The next day Peter and Holly rose early and donned their wet suits. They drove to Ol' Blue, the dive site where they had seen the octopus, parked their car beside the road, put on their dive gear and entered the water. Slowly, they descended the 80 feet to the floor of the sea.

As they swam, they soon spotted the telltale signs of the octopus' snacking, small piles of shells at intervals along the bottom. When they reached the small den where they had seen the creature the previous day, Peter shone his dive light into the blackness. Sure enough, there were those black eyes staring back at him. Peter reached into his pocket and pulled out a small plastic bottle of a mild irritant that he squirted into the den. Within seconds a large octopus popped out before him, followed, much to Peter's surprise, by a second smaller octopus. While Peter played with the two octopi, Holly took the opportunity to explore the small den. Its floor was littered with piles of broken shells. Individual octopi often have their favorite foods. It was obvious that these two preferred scallops.

Peter signaled that he wanted to ascend. Holly followed him to the surface.

"Do you realize that this is totally unheard of? Octopi don't really have mates. They usually just join the opposite sex for procreation. When the act is completed, they separate. These two are obviously sharing the same den. We've got to study them."

"Okay, let's get a boat and come back tomorrow."

The next day they arrived in a boat, tied it to a nearby buoy and put on their dive gear. When they arrived at the octopus den, Peter again squirted the irritant which drove the octopi out of the den. This time he captured the smaller female, stuffed her into a mesh collecting bag, and took her to the surface. In the boat he weighed her, measured her and tagged her for future identification. Then he returned her to her den. The following day he did the same with the male. Over the next ten days Peter and Holly returned many times to study the octopi.

"Peter did you notice anything strange about the behavior of the male? I'm not sure, but it seems to me that he's feeding her."

"That's impossible! Octopi don't feed each other."

"Well, octopi don't live with their mates either, but these two do. = Don't you understand? This is a totally unknown species."

The next day Peter and Holly captured the female octopus again and brought her to the surface. In the small boat they weighed her.

"Peter, she's gained 12 pounds in only 10 days. That's more than a pound a day. It's astounding!"

On the way back to their condo, Holly asked, "Peter, would you mind driving into Kralendijk to the grocery. I'm really hungry today."

"Sure, Holly, but if you're that hungry why don't we stop for sandwiches."

"Okay, but I still want to go to Kralendijk after."

At the small corner convenience store frequented primarily by the island's natives, they ordered sandwiches and soft drinks. Holly consumed hers ravenously.

"Peter, I'm still hungry. I think I'll get some ice cream, too."

She licked up the ice cream quickly, before it could melt in the hot sun. Then on the way out she grabbed a small bag of chips and a package of Twinkies. She had finished both by the time they reached Kralendijk. In the grocery store, Holly went first to the bakery counter and started filling her basket with freshly baked pastries. Then she went to the cheese counter and started piling in some of the delicious Dutch cheeses which were so prevalent here in the Netherlands Antilles. She picked out several varieties of gouda, a leerdammer and a maasdammer. Then, she purchased a few packages of macaroni.

"Holly, what are you doing? I've never seen you buy so much food before."

"Peter, I'm really hungry. It must be all the diving we've been doing. I'm going to make macaroni and cheese tonight. We'll have some of these pastries for dessert."

In their condo, Holly munched absentmindedly on cheese and rich buttery crackers imported from Holland while she grated the cheese for their dinner. Then, she reached for one of the pastries. By the time she took the bubbly casserole from the oven, there was only one pastry left in the bag. She would save it for Peter. In spite of the cheese and crackers and all the pastries, Holly found that she was still hungry. She heaped a large portion of the macaroni and cheese on her plate and attacked it enthusiastically. Peter watched her in fascination. He had never seen her eat so much.

At the conclusion of the meal, Holly pushed her chair back and patted her full belly.

"Peter do you mind if I loosen these pants a little?"

"Be my guest."

She lowered the zipper on her shorts and both of them watched as her belly expanded into the opening. Peter shifted has napkin in his lap as he felt himself stiffening at the sight. Holly, too, felt an odd warmth growing in her lower extremities.

After she had cleared the table, Holly washed the dishes while Peter worked on his notes. She realized she had forgotten to give Peter the last pastry, so she ate it herself as she finished the dishes. For the next few days Peter continued to work on his notes while Holly searched the Internet for any indication that anyone else had ever made such a finding. There was nothing.

Holly and Peter took the small boat to Ol' Blue to observe the octopi once again. When they reached the bottom, they both swam quickly to the small den. Holly felt a terrible sense of loss when she realized that it was empty. What could have happened? Had some predator found them? Then Peter signaled that he had found something. He pointed to a trail of scallop shells on the sandy bottom. They followed the trail to another larger den. Peter shone his light into the darkness inside the den and, sure enough, there were two sets of black eyes, staring back at them. He reached in, grabbed the female, and once again stuffed her into his mesh bag.

On the boat he weighed her again. She had gained 15 pounds in only 10 days. It was remarkable. That was a pound and a half a day!

On the way home, Holly once again complained of her hunger.

"Peter, I really need some food. I can't wait until we get home. Could we stop somewhere?"

At the small convenience store beside the road Holly ordered a fried scallop sandwich with extra mayonnaise. While they were fixing it, she scooped up a bag of chips, two chocolate bars, a package of Twinkies, and a coke. Peter selected a can of iced tea. Holly began munching on the chips while she waited for them to finish making her sandwich, then grabbed another bag. In the car she quickly consumed the sandwich and the rest of the chips. She followed them with the chocolate bars and the Twinkies. Peter was amazed at her appetite.

"Peter could we go out to dinner tonight. I'm really hungry and I thought Indonesian food might be good. I don't want to take the time to cook."

"Sure, Holly, but I don't see how you can be hungry after all you just ate."

"I can't help it, Peter. I think it's just all the diving we've been doing lately. I must need to replace some nutrient."

"Well, you're going to start gaining weight if you aren't careful."

"Would that be so bad?"

"I don't know. I never really thought about it. It's just that you've always been so thin. I never really considered that you might gain weight. I don't now how I would feel about it."

That night they sat in the Mona Lisa Restaurant. Holly ordered the pork tenderloin satay drizzled with a special peanut butter sauce. She had scallops as an appetizer.

"Peter, do you want any of these scallops?"

"No, that's okay. How did you get so many?"

"I had them bring me a double portion. Want to have some fun?"

"Sure, what did you have in mind?"

"Why don't you feed me the scallops the way the male octopus feeds his mate?"

"Okay, but that seems a little strange."

Peter picked up the scallops, dipped each one in the special sauce and popped them into Holly's mouth one by one. He had to admit that it was sort of erotic, especially when she began licking the sauce from his fingers.

After the appetizers and the main course, Holly ordered dark chocolate mousse for dessert with cappuccino to drink. As she spooned the mousse into her mouth, Peter happened to notice that the buttons on her slacks were straining. She really was going to gain weight if she kept eating like this.

In the morning, when Peter awoke, Holly was already in the kitchen frying eggs and sausages. She had pancakes cooking on the griddle as well.

"Holly, what are you doing?" "I'm making breakfast. What does it look like I'm doing? I thought if I had a big breakfast, I might not get so hungry later after we went diving."

When they reached the octopus' den, the male octopus was carrying = scallops to the female. Peter and Holly watched in fascination as the female cracked the shells and consumed the small mollusks. Finally, Peter reached out and grabbed her, stuffing her into his mesh bag. In the boat, he weighed and measured her again. It had only been a few days, but she had gained even more weight and was perceptibly larger.

"She must be getting ready to breed, Holly. You know, the female octopus usually protects her nest so fanatically that she doesn't even eat and often starves to death in the process. I wonder what will happen here."

Once again, Holly experienced that terrible sense of loss she had felt the other day when the octopi were missing. She was starting to grow very attached to them and the thought of the female octopus starving to death protecting her eggs was devastating to Holly.

On the way home that day, Peter stopped at the convenience store before Holly even asked. He ordered three scallop sandwiches with extra mayo= and gathered potato chips, chocolate bars, brownies, soft drinks and a pint of ice cream while he waited. In the car, he handed the bag to Holly. She reached in and held out one of the sandwiches to him.

"Why did you get three sandwiches?"

"Oh, I just thought you looked extra hungry today." "Thanks. You're starting to read me pretty well," replied Holly as she devoured the second sandwich.

"Could we stop at the grocery again today. I have some ideas for dinner tonight. Oh, look, I didn't leave you any chips. There's still a brownie and part of a candy bar left. And, of course, the ice cream. Do you want some?"

"No, you go ahead and finish them," said Peter as the button on Holly's shorts flew off.

"Oops! I guess I have been eating too much lately."

"Why don't you open the zipper until we get to Kralendijk. It should be more comfortable."

She lowered the zipper as she spooned the ice cream into her mouth and Peter slowed the car for a moment so he could watch as her plump belly poured into the opening between the halves of her zipper. It really was kind of cute. Holly blushed when she saw his eyes resting on her soft flesh.

That evening Holly prepared scallops with a Thai peanut sauce as an appetizer. For her main dish she prepared manicotti stuffed with gouda and covered with a creamy tomato sauce. She had cherry pie for dessert.

"Holly, let me do that."

Peter took her fork, pierced one of the scallops and scooped up some peanut sauce on it, then popped it into her mouth. Then, he took another and repeated the process. After Holly had finished the last scallop, Peter leaned over and ran his tongue around her lips, savoring the taste of the creamy peanut butter and the hot pepper flakes. Then, he deepened the gesture into a kiss, his tongue moving from her lips to explore the taste of her mouth. His hand moved first to her breast. Hmmm, she was starting to gain a little weight. He continued to explore her with his hands as he kissed her. He noted that there was elastic at the waist of her shorts and a new softness there as well. He ran his hand over the curve of her recently concave belly. Her hip bones and ribs were slightly less evident, too. In all, she was still slim, but somewhat softer, lusher than before. It was then that he realized that her new shape definitely turned him on. In fact, he found that he was incredibly aroused.

With some urgency, Peter rose and took Holly's hand and led her to the bedroom. He unbuttoned her blouse and then removed her bra. Yes, she was definitely fuller. As he kissed her plump breasts, her nipples hardened. Then, he removed her shorts and led her to the bed. He ran his hands over her round belly. He continued kissing her as his hands circled her breasts and her belly. Then, slowly but with increasing passion, he made love to her. He realized that she was responding as she never had before, with greater abandon. It just about drove him over the edge.

When they were through, he lay beside her, holding her in his arms.

"Peter, what about the manicotti?"

"How can you think of food at a time like this?"

"I'm hungry, Peter."

"Okay, wait here."

He returned several minutes later with two plates of manicotti. His was full; hers was heaping. He had put on a tee shirt and a pair of shorts, but she was still nude. He placed the plates on the bed between them. Then he picked up a forkful of the pasta and spooned it into her mouth. She did the same for him. They sat facing each other on the bed like that, spooning the pasta into each other's mouths until both plates were empty.

"I'm still hungry, Peter. Is there any more?"

"Sure, let me get it for you."

He came back with another heaping plateful and began spooning that into her mouth as well. Finally, he took her plate to the kitchen and returned with the cherry pie and two spoons. He climbed back onto the bed and handed her one of the spoons. She took a large spoonful of pie and offered it to him. Then he did likewise. They continued like that, stopping occasionally to lick cherry juice from each other's fingers, lips, or chins. When the last of the pie was gone, Peter continued to explore Holly with his tongue and his hands. Her plump belly was swollen now, distended - and lovely. Once again he made love to her. He began rather languidly still tired and somewhat sated from their earlier lovemaking, but her passion was almost boundless. Aroused by her passion, they both came quickly to climax. In the morning, Peter watched her as she dressed. Her belly was no longer flat. There was a definite curve to it. Her hips, too, were rounding out. Even the tight spandex of her bathing suit did not flatten her stomach. Hmmm, this was getting interesting.

When they reached the octopus den, there was a small pile of stones partially blocking the entrance. Peter once again shone his dive light into the darkness. The ceiling was hung with strings of eggs. There must have been thousands of them hanging like strings of glass beads from the roof of the cave. It looked like an exotic Christmas display. The female was squirting the eggs with water from her funnel. The male was nowhere to be seen. Peter and Holly ascended to the surface.

"What do you think will happen now, Peter?"

"I really don't have any idea. If this were a typical species, she would just stay there caring for the eggs until she starved to death or the eggs hatched. But I can't tell you what will happen here. I don't know how long it will take the eggs to hatch either. It often takes over 6 months for the eggs of giant octopi to hatch, but the eggs of other species in this area usually take less than six weeks."

Over the next week Peter and Holly returned several times to check on the progress of the octopus. On the third visit they saw the male for the first time. He was carrying scallops to his mate. Holly's sigh of relief was almost audible even underwater. He was caring for her. At least she wouldn't starve to death. At home, Holly's own appetite continued unabated. Peter found that he was doing more of the cooking. He wanted to prepare special dishes for her. He haunted the market in Kralendijk, sometimes asking for particular ingredients to be flown in from Venezuela or ordered from Holland. He persuaded the chefs at several of the local restaurants to make their most exceptional meals available for carryout. Peter and Holly had learned that it was impossible for them to eat in restaurants. Whether it was baked potatoes loaded with sour cream, pancakes piled high with blueberries and whipped cream, or tira misu from the local Italian restaurant, Peter enjoyed spooning them into Holly's mouth, licking the excess from her lips and her fingers. He particularly enjoyed feeding her nude in bed, so he could watch as her stomach filled and expanded. Sometimes he feared he would burst before she even finished the meal. On those occasions, he was thankful that they were already in bed. He would simply shove the plates aside and mount her, barely conscious of the rattling of the plates.

One morning Peter entered the bedroom as Holly was struggling to climb into her wet suit. He smiled as he watched her tug it over her hips, then her belly. The wet suit hid very little. He could see the love handles above her hips and the dimples on her thighs. Once she had fought her way into the wet suit, she still had to pull up the zipper. She was still laboring, when Peter left the room. A few moments later, he heard her sobbing.

"What's wrong, Holly?"

"Oh, look, Peter..."

She pointed down to where the wet suit had burst apart at the seams.

"I'm so fat!"

"You're not fat, Holly. You're voluptuous, you're curvaceous, you're beautiful. We'll get you a new wet suit, a bigger one. With maybe a little room to grow?" (He asked it as a question, hopefully.)

"Oh, Peter, I can't just keep gaining weight forever."

"You can't?" he joked.

"No, I can't or I won't be able to dive. I've already had to more than double the weight I need to get me to the bottom."

"Is that the only reason you don't want to gain more weight?" he asked as he stood nibbling at her neck, fingering the soft flesh that peeked through the tear in her wet suit.

"No, it's not. Just look at me! Look how fat I am."

"Okay, let's take a look." He lowered the zipper that she had struggled so hard to pull up, then began peeling the suit from her body, watching as her luxurious curves were liberated from the confining material.

"Hmmm, I see what you mean. Yes, I definitely see it." Then he indicated to her the evidence of his arousal.

"Oh, Peter, you're incorrigible." He took her hand and pulled her to the floor.

"You get on top."

He liked it with her on top. Her large breasts rubbed against his chest as she leaned over him. The soft flesh of her stomach and thighs almost enfolded him. There was something irresistibly sensual about the experience.

A few days later, Holly wore her new wet suit as they descended to the octopus den. She was delighted when she saw the male hovering outside the little cave. Inside, the egg strings swayed in the gentle current as Holly noticed the growing pile of scallop shells on the floor. He was still feeding her! Over the next few weeks, Peter and Holly continued to visit the octopus as she cared for her eggs. She was not only not starving to death, she was actually growing larger. This was like no other known species of octopus, but it was of more than scientific interest to Peter and Holly. They had grown so attached to the mother octopus and her brood, they had almost forgotten that they were scientists here to study the behavior of the octopi.

Holly, too, was growing larger, but more slowly now. Peter was aware that she was self-conscious about her weight gain and that it was becoming more difficult for her to dive now. Although he would have been perfectly happy to keep her at home and feed her bonbons, he knew she would not be happy with that kind of life. She was a marine biologist and her career was important to her. He couldn't rob her of that. He wasn't that selfish. So, he backed off on the feeding, letting her dictate what would happen. He really didn't need the feeding anyway. Just the mere sight of her beautiful body brought him almost instantly to full arousal. He could have spent hours kissing and caressing her curves.

At last, one day Peter and Holly approached the cave of the octopi. As usual, the male hovered outside the entrance. The female, who had grown quite huge, was behaving oddly. She seemed almost nervous. The eggs themselves appeared more translucent than they had.

Later, on the surface, Holly commented, "Peter, I think the eggs are going to hatch."

"I think you're right, Holly. Let's come back tonight."

That night they returned to the den. They carried powerful dive lights to illuminate the dark water. All around them the water was teeming with life. Many of the smaller creatures only came out at night when the larger predators were resting. Thousands of tiny eyes watched them as they swam toward the cave. When they reached the cave, the sight before them was startling. Tens of thousands of tiny octopi no larger than a fingernail floated in the water. Holly reached out and scooped up several of them. They looked like miniature adults. She signaled to Peter to look as one of the tiny creatures squirted ink into her palm. Below them, on the bottom, the mother sat near her pile of shells. If an octopus could have an expression, Holly would have said she looked satisfied. It had been quite an ordeal to care for thousands of eggs, but she had survived. That was the true miracle. On the surface, they removed their masks.

"Holly, you realize most of them won't survive until morning, don't you?"

"Yes, I know that. I just don't want to think about it now. The important thing is that the mother lived."

Over the next weeks, Peter and Holly finished writing up their research on the octopi and resumed their study of the parrot fish. They continued to visit the giant octopi whenever they could. Peter had to stop on the way back from every dive trip to buy Holly several scallop sandwiches. The diving always increased her appetite.

One morning, Holly called Peter into the bedroom. "Look, Peter. What do you think of my new wet suit?" She stood in the center of the room modeling a black and iridescent blue suit. It revealed every curve on her voluptuous body. Peter studied her briefly. He admired her large breasts, her broad hips, the thighs that now rubbed together when she walked, and her magnificent pot belly.

"I had it custom made to fit me," she said, smiling as she ran her hand over her belly. "It looks great, Holly," replied Peter, as he began to lower the zipper. He took her hand and pulled her down to the carpet. "You get on top."