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Old 06-09-2015, 02:25 PM   #1
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Default Jack's Inspiration by Charisa (~~WG, ~BHM)

Jack's Inspiration
By Charisa

Part One

Jack Griffith watched his girlfriend Kim standing at the bar with satisfaction. A tall, sporty redhead, she was his perfect idea of a sexy woman, he thought. Beautiful, confident and smart, his girlfriend of two years was drawing attention from all over the bar. Her slender form was encased in a tight raspberry-striped blouse and grey skirt; she looked fresh and cool, which was a long way from how Jack felt. He was exhausted and over warm, even though he'd taken his suit jacket off and loosened his tie. He'd have loved to go straight home from work, but he had an announcement to make to Kim and he wasn't sure how she would take it, so he had decided to take her out for a drink at her favorite bar to be sure of getting her in a good mood.

Jack was a trader for a merchant bank, and he hated it. At only 28 he earned more than his father did, and had all the status symbols. When he graduated from university, he'd have been astonished to hear that a beautiful loft-style flat, a great car, a kick-ass stereo system and all the gadgets he wanted wouldn't make him happy, but he had to admit it; he lived on his nerves, and he couldn't take the long hours and constant stress any longer. Jack had put up with it as long as he could, but for the past two years, he had been unable to sleep most nights for worry about work. Was he making good decisions? Could he make the grade, or would he make some catastrophic mistakes and lose his reputation and his livelihood? Since he'd had unlimited Internet access in his flat, it only made things worse; he could now look at what the markets were doing at any hour of the night. He had often been online until pale dawn light began to show out of the window.

Kim was a great girl, he thought, and she'd been very supportive, trying to make sure he looked after himself, took enough exercise and so on. He thought he was in better shape than most businessmen; though tall and broad across the shoulders, he only weighed about 170 pounds and could still get into some 32" waist jeans he'd had at university. But he looked haggard and was always tired, while Kim had boundless energy and always wanted to be out socializing. In his constantly wearied state, Jack felt he couldn't keep up with her (though he tried), but he was unsure how she would take the idea of his "downsizing" to a less prestigious but less stressful career.

She certainly liked the lifestyle that came with his money. Now, though, he thought he had found a way out for himself, and was bracing himself for her reaction.

"Here you go!" Kim handed Jack a Carlsberg and put her gin and slimline tonic down on the table. "You look worn out; tough day?"

"They're all tough days." Here was his opening. "Kim, I've got something to tell you. It's good news, I think. You know how I usually go on the computer when I can't sleep? I started going on to check the indexes. But one night, about six months ago, I was lying here thinking about work and a story started to come into my head. I used to write stuff when I was at school and university, not for anyone to see, just for my own enjoyment. So I thought it might be soothing to try and write it down. That's what I've been doing recently at night. It really takes my mind off things."

"That's cool," said Kim. "Can I read it?"

"Certainly." Jack was pleasantly surprised that she wanted to; she wasn't much of a reader. "I just wanted to make sure it was good before showing you. But that's not all I wanted to say. I think this story is good. It's kind of a thriller , the background is world finance ,"

" Which you know plenty about."

"Right, or enough for the background. But it develops into a crime story. You can read the chapters I've done and the synopsis when we get home, if you like. But the news is, on a whim I took it to an agent, and he's got me a publishing deal, and an advance." He took a swig of Carlsberg.

"That's brilliant!" Kim beamed at him and raised her glass. "You're a writer!"

Jack grinned back at her. "I've got a plan. I've got quite a bit of money saved, and I know how to make it turn over. With the advance, I could give up work and get the book finished much more quickly. The publishers seem to think it'll do well , they've compared it to John Grisham , and if it does, I want to write professionally in the long term. I have lost more ideas for stories. It's what I've always dreamed of doing, but I never thought I could make a living at it." He felt very relieved to have told Kim.

"Won't you be bored, in the flat all day on your own?" Kim said, frowning slightly. She would have been; her job as regional manager of a chain of health and beauty spas was very social, which suited her down to the ground.

"I don't think so. After six years of the market, you can't believe how good a little bit of peace and quiet will be. And I'll have more energy to go out with you, won't I? I just can't go on as I am."

On the Monday after he left his job, Jack spent a happy day at the computer, writing, with the tall windows open and sunshine streaming in. No more suits for him, and no more stress either! He dressed in some baggy old jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. The words flowed out of him at first but by mid-afternoon, he had got stuck. He hadn't written for such a long period for ages and began to feel the need of a break to refresh himself and take a critical look at what he had written so far. He went through to the kitchen and made himself a fancy coffee with the espresso maker , which he had never really had time to figure out before , and then, in a gesture to the weather, got himself a bowl of ice cream from the freezer and went and ate it sitting in a patch of sunlight on the living-room floor.

A slightly odd combination, but as he sat in the warmth, feeling the coolness melt on his tongue, the turn the chapter needed to take suddenly came to him, and he returned to his computer and continued until Kim came home. They went out to a restaurant for dinner, to celebrate his first day as a writer. As he tucked into his steak, Jack noticed how juicy and tasty it was, and realized that for ages he'd been coming home so stressed and worn-out that he'd had no appetite; he couldn't remember when he'd last enjoyed a meal so much. "I wasn't living," he thought, "just existing."

The days passed and Jack had never been so happy. The book was going on steadily, and he enjoyed the silence of the empty flat, the sunlight bouncing off the pale wooden floors, and the time to himself. He looked better, too, less worn; the dark patches under his eyes, which had been a fixture for the past few years, were starting to disappear, as were the tension lines between his eyebrows. He had taken over some of the chores which Kim used to do, such as the laundry, cleaning the house and grocery shopping, which she used to do on the way home from work.

The first week he had simply wandered the aisles with no method, picking off the things he remembered buying in his student days and which they never seemed to have anymore, only to be laughed at by Kim when she realized they had bacon crisps, bottled beer, American muffins, and chocolate none of which would have been her choice, but no fresh fruit or vegetables. After that she wrote him a list of essentials to get every week, green stuff, chicken breasts, skim milk.

He kept on picking up a few treats, though; when Kim did the shopping, it seemed the contents of the fridge were very boring, and a little snack seemed to help the brain when he got stuck for an idea. He knew Kim didn't believe in eating between meals, though, and took care to push the empty wrappers well down in the kitchen bin so she wouldn't see them. Privately, he thought she was a little faddy about food; she tended to be very precise about calories and portion sizes, too. He couldn't see what the harm was in a treat now and again.

Kim seemed to appreciate having him be there when she got home, and suggested that as well as going swimming and to the gym, they should start playing squash on a Thursday evening. They had a membership at a gym attached to one of the spas she helped to manage, and there was an amateur league being organized. Jack had played squash at school, so he agreed to take it up again.

Kim loved playing squash. She had really fast reaction times, was naturally competitive and full of energy. By the end of his first game with her, Jack had remembered that he hadn't really liked the sport all that much when he was 18, which was why he hadn't played for 10 years. He got a crick in his neck trying to follow the ball, hardly ever hit it, began to get somewhat annoyed. He kept it undercover, since Kim was evidently enjoying herself, but wondered if he could drop some hints about preferring a different sport. By the end of the evening he felt as tired as if he'd been back in his old job, but Kim was raring to go. After a shower, they went out to a club, but Jack didn't really enjoy himself; the music seemed too loud and he just wasn't in the mood for energetic dancing. He'd have preferred to go to a pub and relax.

Kim seemed to pick up Jack's bad mood on the way home, and she was rather cold to him that evening, and even the following morning; maybe she was feeling a little stiff by then, fit though she was. Jack certainly was. That morning he couldn't really get started and sat at the kitchen table feeling gloomy and browsing his way through a packet of biscuits, feeling that he wouldn't grudge having sore muscles and a bit of a hangover if he had enjoyed any of the night before. He decided that it was stupid of him to have tried to conceal his mood until Kim noticed he was annoyed; it would be better, if he didn't want to go out, to be honest and say so. This decision made, he went through and started the day's work, feeling a little better.

The next day, Jack had to go in and see his publisher. For the first time in a month or so, he dressed in a suit and tie, noticing how uncomfortable they seemed. The stiff collar confined his neck and the trousers seemed somewhat tight compared to his comfy old jeans and sweatpants; funny, he had never noticed it before. In the warm air of the Underground he began to sweat lightly, and as he mounted the steps to the street, he felt his waistband dig in as he climbed. He was glad to enter the air-conditioned foyer and take the lift up to the editorial office.

Looking around, he saw that nobody there was as formally dressed as he was. Most were in short sleeves as a concession to the heat and some of the young junior editors were in T-shirts and jeans. He'd dressed formally by instinct, but here the only one wearing a suit was the head of fiction. As he sat down in his editor's glass cubicle and felt his waistband cutting into him again, he vowed that he wouldn't wear a suit to future meetings. Or at all, if he could help it.

The meeting went well , the new chapters were apparently perfectly up to scratch , but Jack was glad to get home and out of his suit. He pulled on his jeans and noted with irritation that they weren't as loose as he had thought, either; there was barely any spare room in the waistband and he didn't need a belt. Obviously he hadn't quite got the hang of the washing machine yet; must have washed them at too high a heat. Never mind, they would stretch out with wear, he thought, going through to the kitchen to get a sandwich and some ice cream.

It was Friday. Kim was going out with some girls from her office, and it was raining hard so Jack felt like staying in and relaxing. He called up some friends of his, Sam and Angus. Sam was an old mate from university and Angus was an ex-colleague, whose girlfriend was a friend of Kim's. They planned to watch DVDs on Jack's plasma TV. Jack stuck some cans of beer in the fridge and got out some crisps and snacks, and when Sam and Angus arrived, after a bit of teasing about Jack's new role as a "housewife", the three men began their usual silly discussion over what kind of pizza to order from the place on the next block. This was practically a tradition, as was the decision to order four 15" pizzas with varying toppings. After all they were not so expensive that a few leftover slices would matter.

The pizzas arrived partway through Fight Club. Jack went to answer the door and put them on the low table in front of the couch, in their cardboard boxes; they just about all fitted in a line. He sat down on the end of the couch and began to eat slices of the nearest pizza, a Caprese. About 20 minutes later, he hadn't been paying attention; he'd been watching the film, Jack realized he'd just eaten the last slice, without tasting any of the other pizzas. Oh well, never mind, it had been good. He took a swig of beer and absently took one of the four remaining slices from the next box along, folded it and took a large bite. It was a bit cold now, but still tasty. He took another, unconsciously rubbing his belly as he did so, then reached for a slice of the furthest away; that spicy beef topping was the best. Shame to waste any, really.

After Fight Club they watched Gladiator, which Jack had seen before. The rain had stopped, so he wandered out on to the terrace for a breath of air. The sky was clear now and a few stars were visible despite the lights of the city. He felt a warm satisfaction with life; relaxed, at ease and full of pizza. Very full, actually. His trousers felt tight now, and he could feel his packed stomach sticking out a little when he put his hand on it. Kim would have said something about the way he had stuffed himself, but he didn't care. Just as well she was out, he thought; she didn't really approve of pizza anyway. Not healthy enough; too much gooey cheese; but then that was what made it taste so good. He belched gently and went back in to watch the rest of the film. Noticing there was no pizza left at all now, he offered to get some ice cream, but the others didn't want any so he just got some for himself.

Kim came in very late, but she seemed in a good mood the next morning, and demonstrated this by taking the initiative for some vigorous lovemaking. It wasn't good to do everything together, thought Jack afterwards as he went to the delicatessen down the road to buy some fresh bagels, smoked salmon and pastries for a late breakfast. Some time with other friends was vital if you didn't want to annoy each other; they should do that more often. He sneaked a pastry from the bag as he walked, brushing the crumbs off before he headed inside.
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Old 06-09-2015, 02:32 PM   #2
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Default Part Two

Part Two

The next Thursday was the first game in the squash league. Once he had cheered up after the last time, Jack had decided he must have just been in a bad mood, and that he should give the game another try before deciding he didn't like it. In fact, the game was going a lot better than last week; his partner, a man in his early forties, certainly wasn't any better-coordinated than Jack, and with a partner nearer his own level Jack was having more fun. He didn't think he was getting any better at squash, but his opponent was really pretty bad, and he just managed to beat him, though the effort made him flushed and sweaty. Kim too had won her game , not much of a surprise, but she seemed to feel pretty good about it.

Though he was warm and tired, Jack felt better at the thought of playing again the next week.

That week, however, was the beginning of a bad patch for the novel. Somehow he couldn't get the characters to do what he wanted; there was a lot of dialogue in this part and no matter how often he rewrote it, it sounded stilted and unnatural. He kept finding his mind wandering. His frustration threshold seemed much lower than usual, and every twenty minutes or so he would push his chair back and wander into the kitchen, seeking inspiration in the fridge or the biscuit tin. Not a good week. He tried going for walks to clear his head, but every time he stepped outside the building it seemed to start raining, and instead he would stand at the window looking out into the greyness and wondering if he would ever get back on track.

Jack's rate of progress was so slow that he felt too guilty to go out in the evenings or at the weekend with Kim, and she began to get fed up with hearing him complaining.

"You gave up a perfectly good career to write this thing," she snapped, "claiming it was your life's ambition. You never thought it was going to be easy all the time, did you? Come swimming, for Christ's sake, and stop moaning about it."

But he didn't. He felt too guilty about the tiny amount he had written that day. He barely left the flat except on Thursday evenings, when they went to play squash. He worked out some of his frustration on the ball, and left on the first Thursday having played better than ever before. Squash wasn't such a bad game, he thought, but didn't it just take a lot of energy?

The next week, Jack again didn't have a particularly expert player as his opponent. This guy, though about Jack's age, was slightly overweight, and hit balls all over the place. They never built up a good rhythm. Jack was bored and was beginning to daydream with part of his mind. He was just thinking about what he could do to solve his current problem with the novel when his partner, running diagonally backwards to try to get a rather wildly-hit ball, collided with him and trod with all his weight on Jack's ankle. Both men fell heavily to the ground.

Jack suppressed a yelp, but his ankle really hurt; he'd wrenched it badly. He tried to stand up, but the instant he put his weight on the ankle it became obvious that he'd damaged it somehow. Swearing, he limped to the side of the court.

The man's wife, who had been watching through the window, came in.
"I'm a physiotherapist," she explained. "Let me have a look."
Jack took his trainer and sock off. The ankle was already swelling up, and was red where the man's foot had trodden into it. She told Jack to stop playing and to rest the ankle and put an ice-pack on it, then an elastic bandage when the swelling had gone down, and to see a doctor if it wasn't better soon.

The man apologised and said he would concede the game, but his wife warned Jack not to play the next week's game if his ankle was still bad. She went to tell Kim that Jack would just get a cab home so she could finish her game.

Kim had won, and came home not totally able to subdue her evident triumph with sympathy for Jack's injury; though she did fetch him cups of tea and help him to limp to bed, she obviously thought the situation had its funny side.

The next morning, Jack's ankle was still very swollen and painful and Kim was afraid he might have fractured something, so she drove him to Accident and Emergency before work. The X-ray showed a hairline fracture, and the doctor said the muscles were badly wrenched as well. She didn't put the ankle in plaster, but strapped it up, gave Jack crutches and instructed him to stay off it for at least six weeks. There goes the squash tournament, thought Jack. He didn't feel too bad about it. He'd definitely gone off squash now.

In the cab on the way home, he felt quite happy for some reason, and did more writing that day than he'd done for the past week.

"That's a pity," said Kim when she heard about the fracture. "I'd better withdraw from the league as well. It would be kind of mean to leave you home all on your own."

Jack assured her that he wouldn't mind if she went to play squash without him, and pointed out that he wasn't totally crippled; he could go out with her if they were just going to sit somewhere, and he could still do some of the weight machines at the gym. Meanwhile, he got back to his computer and cracked on with the novel. He seemed to be inspired again and writing fluently once more. By Monday he was so absorbed, rattling away on the keyboard, that he didn't hear Kim come in.

She walked up behind him and grabbed the near-empty packet of Crunch Creams which was sitting beside the screen. "You greedy thing! Did you eat all these biscuits today?"

"Suppose so," said Jack, a little shamefaced, though it would have been more accurate to say that he'd eaten them all within the last hour.

"You do realise, don't you? While you can't get as much exercise as usual, you really have to watch what you eat. You just can't burn off the calories in the same way." Jack assured Kim that he would watch his diet, and that the biscuits were an aberration. They were not. Jack had got used to frequent snacking and larger meals since he had been at home in the flat, and not just grabbing a bite to eat when he could. He had just remembered to hide the evidence better before today.

They had salad for dinner that night, and Jack did dutifully eat more lightly on Tuesday, but on Wednesday Kim was hardly out of the door before he was limping to the fridge and the kitchen cupboards in search of inspiration. Before lunch he had browsed his way through a packet of chocolate-chip cookies, a Mars ice cream and a packet of Kettle Chips. Lunch was tinned macaroni and cheese, not exactly gourmet, more comfort food, but Jack's ankle was aching and it was really grey outside. He just wasn't in the mood for salad. Heaving himself to his feet, he got a spoon, took a tub of vanilla ice-cream, three-quarters full, out of the freezer and limped back to his computer. This just wasn't the day to eat fruit and crisp-bread, he told himself. Maybe tomorrow.

On Saturday morning, Kim asked "How's the ankle?"

"Still pretty achy. Maybe it's the weather; don't you think it's cold for April? Or maybe it just really objects to having big fat blokes land on it."

"Who was it that landed on it, again?"

"Simon Fletcher, I think his name is. Maybe I should sue him," joked Jack.

"Not sure you can go calling him a big fat guy," said Kim over her shoulder as she went to get her workout clothes.

As Jack changed into his jersey shorts and baggy T-shirt, he wondered what she meant by that. He hoped she only meant it was unkind of him to say that. She didn't mean he was getting fat, did she? He had a healthy appetite sure enough, but he still fitted into all his clothes, although he did seem to have a habit of boil-washing jeans. Or something. He looked at himself in the mirror and thought he looked the same as ever. Lifting his T-shirt, he had to admit that he looked, well, softer around the waist than he'd imagined , not that he had ever had a perfectly-cut six-pack. Was there really a noticeable change?

As Kim drove to the fitness centre, he couldn't keep from thinking about what she had said. He decided just to come right out, ask her what she meant.

"Nothing," she said.

"Come on, you must have meant something by it."

"Well, actually, I don't think Simon Fletcher is all that much heavier than you. You must have noticed you're not in your best shape ever."

"I'm hardly a chubbster like Fletcher, though."

"No, not exactly. It wouldn't hurt you to eat a bit less and exercise a bit more, though."

Jack felt defensive and didn't say any more. When he got to the gym, all the weight machines were occupied and he had quite a wait for one where he could sit down. He thought he would go and try to weigh himself. He wasn't too worried when the gym scales showed his weight at just under 185 pounds. That was about a stone more than what he'd expected; but then he was having to balance on his good foot, so the reading couldn't possibly be accurate; and he would have to take some off for his clothes and the weight of the splint on his ankle, surely. He picked up his crutches, limped over and got a Mars bar out of the vending machine, reassured in his own mind that Kim was making a fuss about nothing.

On Monday, Jack would normally have gone shopping for food, but he couldn't drive with his leg strapped up. He decided to order the groceries over the Internet instead. It was easy and quite fun, and he may have got a little carried away; the final bill was pretty high. But he couldn't be bothered to go back and cancel things individually, so he put the order through anyway; they'd eat it all sooner or later.

Later that day it was delivered in cardboard boxes; very convenient, thought Jack as he put it all in the cupboards. He wished he'd discovered this earlier. He took a large block of chocolate and limped back through to his computer. It was about an hour since lunch and he was hungry again already.
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Old 06-09-2015, 02:41 PM   #3
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Default Part Three

Part Three

Over the next couple of weeks, Jack had to admit that Kim might be right about him gaining some weight. Now that he couldn't do any aerobic exercise, he did seem to be getting a bit of a belly. He had to suck his stomach in now to get his jeans on, and once done up, they dug in at the sides, and his stomach stuck out a bit over the top, although you couldn't see that under his untucked baggy T-shirts and jumpers. When he sat, a little roll of flesh bulged out to cover his waistband. He was more comfortable in his sweatpants or shorts. It was hard to eat less, though; if he held out against secret snacks, he was ravenous by the time dinner came and Kim would shoot him sharp looks across the table. That made him feel aggrieved; so what if he was eating more than her? He was hungry.

Kim's sister was having her baby christened the next Sunday, and Kim and Jack were going to the church and the celebration afterwards. Jack didn't much want to get dressed up, but to please Kim, he got out a light grey suit and a blue shirt and tie. Kim looked at him in a slightly strange way as he pressed the trousers, but it wasn't until he came to put them on that the trouble started. No matter what he tried, the little hook just wouldn't reach the bar to fasten them. He sucked his belly in and tried again. No luck. He backed up against the wardrobe and pushed, and just managed to get the two sides to connect as Kim walked in wearing a pretty new chiffon dress. He was red in the face and his waistband was cutting him in half.

Jack looked at himself in the mirror. The flesh on his sides was spilling over the waistband, which seemed to be pushed down at the front by that belly which he never used to have. It was also filling out his shirt, which didn't have much spare room around the midsection at all. Maybe he was getting a bit chunky. He tugged the shirt a little looser over the waistband to try to disguise it. Kim walked up and poked him in the buttocks with her sharp fingernail.

"You need a new suit." Jack protested that this one still fitted OK, but she would have none of it. "Get real. You can't stand for the whole time, and if you sat down in those trousers, your seat would split. I suppose that's what you get for sitting on your arse all day." She sighed. "We just about have time to pick something up before we have to go to the church."

Jack admitted that the trousers were a bit tight and peeled them off with relief, a little surprised to note that these had a 34" waist, as big as any he had. They headed in to Marks and Spencer, where Kim marched in and with the speed of the born shopper got Jack fitted out with a new suit. She made him try on 36" and 38" trousers and pronounced that the latter hung better, though they were a bit loose. By this time Jack was just meekly doing whatever she said, though privately he thought 38" was too big. They set off to the christening and arrived just as the bells were ringing.

The service was lovely, Kim's niece was cute, and she had just about forgiven Jack for nearly making them late as they proceeded to her mother's house for lunch. Jack was pretty hungry and looking forward to getting something to eat; looking forward slightly less to the usual teasing from Kim's family about when they were going to get around to getting married.

He headed off to the buffet table as soon as he could and loaded up a paper plate with the offerings. Kim's Dad was doing the same, and he shot Jack a look of fellow-feeling. All the women seemed to be cooing over the baby.

Leaning his crutches against the wall, Jack wolfed down his plateful of quiche, cold meats, potato wedges and salads as quickly as he could and went back for another. He supposed Kim was right about him needing a bigger size; he was more comfortable in these trousers than he could remember lately.

Finishing his plate, he reloaded it again. At that point, Kim's Mum detached herself from the crowd of baby-worshippers in order to tell her husband quite loudly not to take so many sausages and to remember his cholesterol level. Jack thought she might have been a bit more discreet and wondered if Kim would ever turn into as big a nagger as her mother. He picked up a couple more pieces of salmon quiche , it was really good , and went over to stand by Kim.

"So this is the writer!" said Kim's sister Louise. "How are you finding being at home all day?"

"I like it. It's good being my own boss, nobody to tell me what to do. And the writing's great, going really well at the moment."

"Looks like it suits you, anyway." Louise grinned. "You look very well. Healthy."

Jack reddened. He knew she was referring to what he now had to admit was his weight gain. "Well, I have to stay off the ankle at the moment. This," he patted his belly, "this will all go as soon as I can get back into a proper exercise program."

"I guess you have to enjoy it while it lasts. I'm still trying to get rid of these extra pounds from the baby," laughed Louise, patting her own rounded tummy. "I'd kill for an excuse not to have to run around at the moment." Louise was pretty nice, actually, thought Jack, heading back to the buffet before Kim could notice how much he was eating. He would make an effort to lose some weight once his ankle was back to normal, but there wasn't much he could do about it right now, was there?

Over the next couple of weeks Jack cast caution to the wind and ate whatever he felt like. He got himself some 38" jeans and felt more comfortable sitting at his computer. There was no point going on a diet, he told himself, until his ankle had healed, so he might as well enjoy some sweet treats while he still could. After all, he couldn't get much fatter in just a couple of weeks, surely?

The writing was ploughing ahead, and on several occasions, he declined to go out with Kim so that he could press on with it in the evening. She seemed to go out quite a lot at the moment.

Sam and Angus came round a few times when she was out, however, and he wasn't too unhappy to drop what he was doing for DVDs and pizza. There were never any leftover pieces these days and after one evening when the delivery boy brought five instead of four by mistake, that became their regular order. Jack could put away two these days without any trouble, and he rather liked the sleepy, satisfied feeling of being so full he couldn't hold another bite, though these days it took quite a lot of food to make him feel really sated.

He was aware that he was still expanding; there wasn't much give in the newer jeans now, and his baggy T-shirts and sweatshirts didn't exactly disguise his growing belly any more. But what did it matter if he got a bit chunky just now, thought Jack philosophically. It wasn't like he was in training for anything, and he would soon lose it once his ankle was better. His arms were getting a good workout from heaving himself around on his crutches, and he was still using the weight machines in the gym; that was as much as he could manage until his ankle healed.

At last the day came when he had to go back to the hospital for the final X-rays. He saw the same doctor as the first time, and she told him that the bone had healed nicely, but that he must be careful with it to begin with. Jack asked if he could safely exercise, and she said yes, as long as it didn't put too much strain on his ankle.

She looked at his medical notes. "You injured yourself playing squash, I see. You might do better to stay away from that until the muscles you haven't been using return to normal."

"I'm more into swimming really," admitted Jack.

"That would be ideal."

That evening, Jack dug out his swimming shorts and went with Kim to the pool. The shorts were, of course, pretty tight, and sagged under the curve of his sticking-out stomach. He caught sight of his reflection in a mirror on the far wall. He didn't usually look at himself from the side, or full-length, and was startled to see that he barely recognised his reflection. The muscles in his arms had developed, but they had a covering of softer flesh, and with his now-protruding belly just starting to hang over his too-tight waistband, the beginnings of love handles, a rounded backside testing the fabric of his shorts, and beefier thighs and calves, overall he looked well, fat. Undeniably.

He headed for the water, feeling self-conscious, but before he got there, Kim emerged from the women's changing room in her bikini. She didn't look thrilled at his appearance in his trunks either.

Jack found his muscles tiring much sooner than he would have expected in the past, and after 20 laps of the pool, he went and sat in the spa bath. His ankle was aching and he had had enough. Heaving himself from the water fifteen minutes later, he noticed that Kim was still swimming laps, but he went to dry himself off, and with some apprehension headed for the scales in the gym.

211 pounds. That was ridiculous! That was (he did some mental maths) just over 15 stone, which meant he was a good two and a half stone over his normal weight. Then again, as the image of himself he'd seen in the mirror flitted into his mind, maybe he could believe he weighed that much.
How could he have gained that much weight in just a couple of months?

Experimentally he stood on the scales with one foot, as he had done before, and watched the dial go down a few pounds, not up. It was depressing, and it seemed unfortunate that his first impulse to make himself feel better was to go and get something to eat. He fought it, settled for a cup of black coffee from the machine, and sat down to wait for Kim to finish. He was definitely going on a diet this week.

"You didn't last long," she remarked as she came out towelling her hair dry.

"I've got so unfit," he admitted. "Be honest. I'm getting fat, aren't I?"

"Yes. You are. I didn't like to say too much while your ankle was bad, but you really, really ought to do something about it before it gets too hard. You know, the longer you leave it, the harder it'll get."

The day after, there was an e-mail for Jack from his publishers, telling Jack that the editor he had worked with hitherto had left to work for Random House, so he would have a new editor from now on, a woman called Lindy Thomas. She wanted to meet with him the next day. Jack felt apprehensive. Mark, the previous editor, had been a good guy and seemed to understand what Jack wanted to do with the book, and he wouldn't have chosen to change.

In addition, he felt a woman might judge him on his appearance, and as Kim kept reminding him, he didn't look his best at the moment. Let's face it, he thought, I feel like a fat slob. He was uneasily aware that despite his decision to eat lightly, he had already been to the kitchen for three snacks that morning. His stomach rumbled angrily. He tried to dismiss it, but he just couldn't concentrate on work when he was hungry, and against his better judgment got up to get a sandwich.

He met Lindy Thomas the next day for lunch. Waiting at the restaurant, he felt nervous in his snug jeans and his biggest shirt. He felt scruffy, and the jeans were cutting into him, but these were the smartest clothes that would fit him; the grey suit that he'd bought for the christening about a month ago was too tight by now, and the jacket wouldn't button over his stomach. He sat down at the reserved table and waited, unconsciously munching a piece of bread from the basket on the table.

A young woman came through the crowded restaurant, turning to get her hips between the closely placed tables and chairs. Lindy Thomas was pretty; that was the first thing Jack noticed. But she was not thin. About 5'6" tall, she might have been a size sixteen, with a curvy, rounded figure and big breasts not concealed by her stretchy v-neck top. She shot Jack an impish grin as she sat down and introduced herself.

When the waiter came, Lindy ordered deep-fried camembert with cranberries, followed by beef stroganoff. Mindful of the diet he was supposed to be on, Jack was going to stick with just a main course, but Lindy said, "Oh, go on. The food's pretty good here, and it's on expenses." So he chose moules marinières and then a steak.

As they discussed the book, Jack noticed that Lindy was evidently enjoying her starter, which did not take her long to eat. He saw her shoot a few longing glances at his remaining mussels, and told her to help herself; the portion was more than ample. She dug in with gusto, snapping the shells apart and exclaiming on how good the shellfish tasted, as they finished the dish together.

Only when the empty plates and heap of shells had been cleared away did Lindy move to a discussion of her ideas for the shape of the book; she thought a few changes could be made to the structure, and as Jack listened he felt new ideas of his own developing. He could definitely work with her, he thought, as the main dish arrived.

Again, Lindy ate the chunks of beef with obvious enjoyment, soaking the rich liquid up with rice and then with bread. The steak was good, tender and cooked to perfection, and the thick chips were salty and delicious. This restaurant is a bit of a find, thought Jack. Lindy held his attention as she talked, absentmindedly reaching across to his plate and stealing a chip.

"Dessert menu?" asked the waiter.

"Yes thanks," said Lindy, and then "Do you have time to stay for dessert?" She decided on lemon cheesecake with whipped cream. "You must think I'm a total pig, but I just can't resist it."

Jack ordered a caramel pannacotta; he had plenty of room left, and he didn't want this girl to feel like a pig. She seems like a really nice person as well as a good editor, he thought. When the dessert arrived, he was glad he'd ordered it; it was rich, creamy and very filling indeed, though every bite was bliss. As he stood up to go, he felt pretty full, surreptitiously unfastening his jeans and letting his belt out a couple of notches.
Lindy must have been stuffed; her rounded tummy seemed to be straining at her fitted skirt, which was as tight as if she had been poured into it. Jack marveled inwardly at how much food she had packed away; Kim wouldn't have been able to eat half that much, he thought. They agreed that it had been a very useful meeting and that they must meet more frequently to discuss the book's progress.

That evening, Kim made chicken casserole, and then got out some fruit and yogurt. "We deserve a little treat."

Jack thought guiltily about the lunch that day, and tried to imagine that the yogurt tasted as good as the pannacotta, but it just didn't work. He was supposed to be dieting and he'd had an enormous meal for lunch; he should really have just had a sandwich for dinner but he hadn't remembered to mention this to Kim before she began to cook. He rubbed his belly under the table, conscious that he hadn't done anything to shrink it today.

"Would you mind if I went out this evening?" Kim said. "I need to go round to Liz's and I might go to the gym after that. You don't have to come; I just want a quick workout."

Once she had gone, Jack switched on the computer and began to type up the notes from his meeting with Lindy. After a while, he wandered through and got a pack of Mars Bars from a hiding-place he had behind the microwave.

Kim went out a lot over the next week. Liz seemed to be having some sort of crisis, and apparently Kim felt she needed to give her some moral support; she seemed to be worrying about it a lot, but whenever Jack asked she said nothing was wrong.

He felt a little aggrieved; there were a couple of films he wanted to see but he didn't feel like going on his own. He did go out to the pub a couple of times with Angus and Sam, but other than that, he just stayed in working on the book. He made a concerted effort to eat less, giving in to temptation sometimes, but he felt he was doing quite well for the first week, although his concentration was suffering and work was slow.

He even went swimming on his own on Friday, because Kim was out again; he'd hardly seen her all week. He weighed himself again, and although he seemed to be 213, at least his gain was apparently slowing down. He felt better and walked home in the cool of the evening. As he went to open the door of his building, he saw Kim get out of a car a block away and run towards the door. They climbed the stairs together.

"That wasn't Liz's car, was it?" asked Jack, just making conversation. The stairs were making him puff a bit.

"It's her brother's." Kim seemed to have something on her mind. They went in.

Jack put his wet swimmers in the washing machine, and they began to get ready for bed. Jack sat on the edge of the bed and pulled his shirt over his head, exposing his fleshy torso, with its love handles and bulging belly rolling over the waistband of his trousers. He took his jeans off(leaving red marks where they had been digging into him) pulled on a clean T-shirt and boxers and pulled back the bed cover, saying he was really tired. Kim let out a snort of exasperation.

"What have you been doing to be tired?"

"I've been swimming."

"You sit at home all day, and then the least little thing exhausts you because you're so out of condition."

"Well, yes. I broke my ankle, remember? I had to sit at home all day. Couldn't really go jogging with it like that."

"Don't give me that," said Kim wearily. "We both know that you weren't getting enough exercise before that either. What happened to you, Jack? You used to have get-up-and-go. You used to come out with me, not stay in staring at the computer. You used to have pride in yourself. You used to keep yourself fit. You used to dress smartly, not just slob around in T-shirts and jeans , and those ones are obscenely too tight for you, by the way."

"That's not fair," said Jack, hurt. "I don't just stare at the computer. I'm writing a book and I'm nearly finished the first draft now. You don't expect me to wear a suit at home, do you?"

"No... But it would be nice if you took some pride in your appearance, Jack!" Kim sounded bitter. "You haven't even had your hair cut since you quit your job. You've let yourself go completely to seed. Have you seen yourself in a mirror recently? I can't believe the gut on you these days, and your tits , God, they must be bigger than mine. You don't seem to care how you look any more, not even when we go out; and I can't remember when we last did go out. You just want to stay in and stuff your face!"

"You haven't wanted me to come out with you! You've been spending all this time at Liz's."

"That's beside the point," said Kim, blushing and tossing her head; that seemed to have taken the wind out of her sails a little. "I like to look good for you; don't you care enough for me to make an effort?"

Jack sighed. "Yes, if it'll make you happy. Look, I know I've put on a lot of weight, but I have been trying to lose it, honestly I have. I thought we might have to adjust to my working at home, but I didn't realize the way I look was that important to you. Is it really such a big thing, Kim? It's been two years; haven't we got more between us than just, well, physical stuff?"

Kim wiped her eyes. "I don't know. You've changed; you used to be different; I don't even know if we have much in common anymore." She burst into tears.

Thinking to comfort her, Jack stood up and tried to draw her into his arms; she recoiled from him, pushing him roughly away. In shock, Jack just stood there. "Leave me alone!" she napped, staring angrily through her tears. "Get away from me!"

Jack caught up a pillow and blanket and went out to sit on the couch, leaning forward head in hands, his elbows on his knees, with his soft gut pushing on to his thighs. He felt totally lost and confused. What was going on? Kim had never picked a fight with him before; that wasn't like her at all... or so he had thought. He began to feel that he hardly knew her, the way she was tonight. It looked as though Kim had stopped fancying him , maybe some time ago, actually, if he came to think about it. He thought their sex life had been OK, maybe not the fireworks of when they first met, but all right as far as he was concerned; she was as beautiful as ever and she still turned him on, her slender body, her small high breasts and long legs. He had noticed that she didn't seem to want to go on top anymore.

On the other hand, he found sex as pleasurable now as ever; different, yes. He didn't miss the bony clashing of hip-bones, that was for sure, though he had occasionally wondered whether his increased weight was too much for slim Kim. When he came to think about it, actually, he could only remember one really memorable night in the last few weeks, and that was after the first match in the squash league, when Kim had won and was feeling triumphant. And that was before he broke his ankle, so it must have been, well, at least six weeks ago .... and how many pounds?

He spent a sleepless night , the first since he quit his job , sitting in the dark watching the windows darken through deep blue to black, then on to blue, grey and the pale light of dawn.
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Old 06-09-2015, 02:52 PM   #4
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Default Part Four

Part Four

Eventually Jack got up off the sofa and went through to the kitchen and started to prepare a special breakfast as a peace offering. Kim used to like breakfast in bed. Maybe she was just in a bad mood last night, he thought as he split muffins, put them in the toaster and filled a jug with orange juice, maybe her period is coming on or something. He got out some smoked salmon, her favourite, and low-fat cream cheese. But as he finished scrambling some eggs and was about to arrange everything, Kim padded through, fully dressed, and shot him a look of disdain.

"God, I don't know how you can eat that much. It's disgusting."

Before he could protest that half of it was meant for her, she continued, "I want to leave. I'm sorry, but I've thought about it and what we want from life is too different. I'm going to stay with Louise; I've ordered a cab and we'll come round later to get my stuff."

She was out of the door before he could say: no, Kim, stay; I need you, I love you. I'll do what you want; I'll lose the weight, start dressing up, wear gel in my hair or whatever it is that you want me to do. Just stay. He ran heavily after her down the stairs, but by the time he got out on the street, her taxi was carrying her away.

He leant against the doorpost, winded, then as soon as he had regained his breath dragged himself back up the stairs, overcome with sadness and weariness.

He ate all the breakfast himself. What else could he do? He left messages on Kim's mobile and Louise's answering machine (trying not to sound too pathetic); he sat on the sofa eating cereal from the box without tasting it. When lunchtime came, he ordered two pizzas and pretended to the delivery girl that his girlfriend was on the terrace. The pizza was hot and tasty but he munched it joylessly, washing it down with beer and feeling thoroughly self-destructive.

He didn't care at that moment about getting fatter. He just wanted something to take away the way he was feeling. Sugar and grease seemed as good as anything, he thought, rubbing his belly and going to get a two-litre carton of ice-cream from the fridge. It was something to do.

He ate steadily all afternoon: packs of biscuits, pasta with olive oil and cheese sauce, crisps, pieces of cheese, anything he could find in the fridge and kitchen cabinets, his belly gradually losing its softness and becoming full and firm.

Several cans of beer later, and stupefied by food, he fell asleep on the sofa, his stuffed gut bulging upwards, too full to yield to gravity. He woke to find the sun low in the sky. He couldn't believe it, but he was hungry again.

Hungry and miserable. He called up the local Chinese takeaway and ordered some of all his favourite dishes. Kim didn't approve of Chinese; too fatty, too salty, too messy. He walked to collect it through the setting sun of what had been a beautiful early June day and then ate it on the terrace in his T-shirt and boxers, staring out to the horizon and rubbing his expanding belly as he popped yet another egg roll or battered piece of sweet and sour chicken into his mouth.

By the time he had finished, he was beyond stuffed. His paunch felt hard and tight, skin and fat stretched to a thin layer over a domed stomach that was packed hard with food; it was lifting his T-shirt and if he'd been wearing jeans he'd have had to undo them some time ago. He was leaning way back in his chair for comfort, and it took some effort to stand; he could feel the weight of all that chow mein, beef with cashews and moo shoo pork dragging downward. Jack always overate when he got Chinese, but he'd never been this full, ever. He was so full he couldn't think about anything else, not even Kim; his whole mind seemed centred on the sensations in his inflated middle, which was bulging out further than ever before. It hardly felt like part of him; he was shocked by how far it stuck out, and he had to lean back a little to balance its weight, unable to bend or, when he went to the bathroom, to see his cock. He staggered ponderously to bed and lay there with his hands on his distended gut until he fell into a deep sleep.

On Sunday, he was woken to the phone ringing. Angus had heard from his girlfriend Jenny about the break-up and suggested that they should go out for some kind of meal, then do something later, maybe see a film. Jack agreed, as he knew if he stayed in he'd just dwell on his misery and eat and drink too much again. Kim of course had not answered any of his messages. He dragged on some tight jeans and a not so tight T-shirt , his belly, a little bloated but soft once more, seemed to have recovered from the night before , and went to meet Angus for a late breakfast. He hadn't been to this café before, and it didn't look much; must have been there for years. Angus seemed to think it was something special, though.

When they sat down at a table on the sidewalk and Jack looked at the menu, he saw why; over 20 different combinations of fry-up were available for Sunday breakfast. Specialty sausages, farm-cured bacon, mushrooms, black pudding, fried bread, hash browns, seven different ways of cooking eggs; it was a total cholesterol-fest.

"Looks good," said Jack, who was starving. He ordered the Gourmet Breakfast platter, which had so much on it that it could hardly all fit on the plate.

As Jack tucked in to the sausages, which were hot, tasty and just slightly burned, exactly the way he liked them, Angus poked Jack gently in the side, grinned, and said, "Something told me this place might be just what you were needing, mate." Jack's heart sank slightly, even my mates have noticed what a pig I'm turning into, he thought. But the food was just too good for this to put him off his breakfast. Besides, Angus hadn't exactly gone for the healthy choice himself.

"Yeah," he said. "Times like this, you find out who your friends are." He put some bacon on top of the fried bread, folded it with his knife and fork and shoved the whole thing in his mouth.

"Tough break." Angus paused and looked at Jack. "Know what? Probably I shouldn't tell you, but Jenny says she thinks there's someone else."

"There is?" asked Jack. "How long has she known about this?"

"She doesn't know anything." Angus pushed his chair back and leaned back with a sigh. "She just has the idea, from a few things that have happened, that Kim hasn't been totally truthful with her friends. Like, she'd say she had been with Liz or somebody when she definitely hadn't. And, umm, she said she was going to the gym at one point, and apparently Sarah , you know Sarah? , decided to meet her there and Kim wasn't there. But she might have just changed her mind. You know what Jenny is like, puts two and two together to make five."

"Women are strange," said Jack, but thinking of Kim's many recent absences. Reflexively, he leaned back to undo the button of his jeans, and let his belt out two notches. "Do you want that sausage?"

"No, go ahead." Jack leant over and speared it.

They went to sit in the park, on the grass. Some boys were kicking a football about, and when it came in their direction Jack booted it back. "I used to play football when I was at University. God, that feels like a long time ago." He took a handful of fries from the Burger King bag beside him.

"You're not past it yet, are you? How old are you, 28?"

"29 in August. But being with Kim did almost make me feel past it, you know, she's always dashing about, playing sports, wanting to dance the night away; maybe I just couldn't stand the pace."

"Might be all for the best then."

As the afternoon turned to evening they went to get a curry and then to see School of Rock with Jack Black at the cinema. As Jack leaned back in his cinema seat, his belly comfortably full of curry, rice and naan bread and curving out and down towards his lap, he felt more philosophical about things.

He had had a better day than he could have believed possible at this stage. OK, a lot of it had been spent eating things, when he should have been eating lightly after yesterday, but so what? He'd enjoyed it, and he'd never got really full. He was a writer; he'd be a published author in a few months. Nobody was going to judge the new book by the way the author looked. He settled back to enjoy the film, which was stupid but funny, had a couple of pints afterwards in a pub with Angus and then walked home. He remembered the movie and the thought crossed his mind that he probably didn't look any more attractive with his shirt off than Jack Black did in the film. His feelings were mixed; melancholy, but contemplative. He knew he'd be able to sleep all right.

In the morning there was an e-mail from Lindy at the publisher's, asking if he would like another lunch meeting, and finally a message from Kim to say she'd be coming round that evening to get her stuff. He felt strangely cheered at the thought of seeing Lindy, and accepted. To be honest, he didn't have much new to report about the book; he was on the home stretch now and everything was plotted out, though of course he hadn't really done anything to it since the weekend.

He got dressed to go out, finding his jeans hard to fasten under his swelling bulge and resigning himself to getting some new ones. And some new shirts would be a good idea too, he thought, looking at the way his rugby shirt was stretched over his middle; he was going to need extra large this time. He felt fairly philosophical. His stomach let out a growl, and he went to get a mid-morning snack.

They met at a Mexican restaurant, not the same place as before. It was very busy, so they had to wait to be served, and Lindy asked Jack how he had been getting on with finishing the book. He had to admit to her that the last few days hadn't been at all productive.

"It's been a bit of a bad week for work, and then the weekend was a total washout." He hadn't meant to go into detail, but Lindy looked so sympathetic it just slipped out. "My girlfriend and I broke up."

"How long had you been with her?"

"Two years. I didn't see it coming at all, either. I feel like such an idiot."

"She's the idiot," said Lindy with surprising warmth. The waiter put down a bowl of taco chips and salsa on the table and gave them their menus. Lindy ordered some wine and pushed the bowl in Jack's direction.

"It's kind of you to say so. She says we don't have enough in common any more, though, and I think she's right." He told Lindy a little about Kim as he ate the chips; how she was always on the go, sporty and social, and that recently he just didn't seem to be able to keep up with her.

"So she got fed up with me, I think," he said, realizing that there were only crumbs left in the dish. "Oh no. Sorry. The human Hoover, that's me: that was another tendency of mine Kim could have done without."

"I don't see why." Lindy smiled at him. "Food's there to be enjoyed, after all. Talking of which, I think the waiter's finally heading back this way."

When the food arrived, Jack felt a twinge of guilt at the size of the portions; his beef enchilada was huge, although it smelt fantastic, and Lindy's burrito was almost as big. "Not exactly a light choice, is it?" he grinned ruefully.

"Now, now," said Lindy with mock-severity. "I thought we were enjoying the food today, not feeling guilty about it. Surely you don't need to worry about all of that?"

"Kim thought I did."

"If Kim ever had a right to tell you what to worry about, she has now given it up, don't you think? She's not the only girlfriend you'll ever have, is she."

"I don't know," said Jack. He sighed. "Can't exactly see anybody falling for me as I am at the moment." He pushed around the salad on his plate, not eating any. "Kim made it quite clear that she doesn't find me attractive any more, and I can't blame her." He thumped his belly. "All this blubber. I've gained, like, three stone recently , more than that. What woman's going to fall for a tub of lard?"

Lindy scraped her chair impatiently. "You aren't a tub of lard. You're a good-looking guy , and I'm bringing my editorial objectivity to bear here," she grinned. "You don't look fat to me, just solid and strong. Lots of women like substantial men. They make them feel protected. No girl wants to go out with a narcissist; they take too long getting ready to go out. Never go out with someone who spends longer in front of the mirror than you do, that's my motto." She grinned across at him. "Now, are you going to eat that before it goes cold? I'm hungry, if you aren't." They dug in.

Jack soon felt better. The food was as good as the last time he had eaten with Lindy and letting it go to waste was out of the question. It was funny; he hardly knew Lindy but he felt very comfortable around her; she obviously enjoyed her food and she was hardly a stick herself, so he didn't feel self-conscious. He dolloped sour cream on to the enchilada filling. It perfectly counteracted the spiciness of the beef. He could almost hear Kim saying it looked very calorie-laden, but he shut her voice out.

Between bites, Lindy was sneaking looks at Jack. She hadn't simply been trying to make him feel better when she said he was good-looking. He had dark wavy hair, which didn't look any the worse for being a little longer than usual, and deep melting brown eyes; his jaw-line had maybe softened a little but he had a strong chin and a straight nose, with a little scar running through his eyebrow. (Lindy knew that if she asked, the scar would probably be from some childhood accident, but she liked the effect anyway.) As for his broad shoulders and torso; she couldn't help imagining what it would be like to be held in his arms, which looked promisingly solid, like a rugby player's. Maybe he had been a rugby player; that would explain the shirt. She shook her head and got back to eating, nowing that it wasn't exactly professional to entertain lustful thoughts about one of her writers.

Jack polished off the last of the salad and looked across at Lindy, who was still eating. "Shall we get dessert?" she asked, thinking that from the looks of things, it shouldn't be too hard for him to forget about Kim's prejudices about food and really enjoy eating without guilt. He nodded and caught the eye of the waiter. While they were waiting, Lindy didn't bring up the subject of the book again, but talked about other things; the new exhibitions at the National Gallery, plays and films she had seen and that she wanted to see. This caught Jack's interest straightaway.

"You interested in film, then?"

"Oh, yes. I must spend more time at the pictures than anything else, other than work, of course. How about you, are you a film buff?"

Jack told her about what he had recently seen and his favorites from his DVD collection at home. Before they knew it, it was two o'clock and Lindy had to go back to the office for an editorial meeting.

"Don't worry about the writing," she said. "You need to look after yourself. We'll have another meeting later in the week to talk about the book , it was going pretty well up to this week, wasn't it? I must go, I'm going to be late, but it's been good. Good to talk to you, I mean. I'll drop you an e-mail, OK?"

She gathered up her things and left. Jack realized, once he had finished following her curves with his eyes as she pushed her way to the door, that she had forgotten to pay the bill.

He did so, and left the restaurant himself, pondering on what had happened as he walked home in the sunshine. Lindy certainly was an interesting girl; she seemed to have such enthusiasm for everything she did. And her life didn't seem to revolve around going to the gym, shopping and girls' nights out the way Kim's did. Was he comparing Kim unfavorably with Lindy? Well, maybe. Lindy was really good company, and she had a very pretty face, even if she didn't exactly have a model's figure. He shook his head to try to dislodge from it the thought of what Lindy might look like undressed that was off limits. Their relationship had to stay professional, and for all he knew she had a boyfriend, though she'd never mentioned one.
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Old 06-09-2015, 02:58 PM   #5
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Default Part Five

Part Five

All that week and the next, Jack checked his e-mail on an almost hourly basis, waiting for Lindy's message, but none came. He was cracking away on the novel, partly, if he was honest, so as to have plenty of work to show her when they met. He went out one morning and bought some new clothes; he was sick of sucking his belly in so he could zip up his jeans, and constantly tugging down shirts that were riding up. The other day he'd found an old T-shirt from when he used to play football at university; it was hard to believe how thin he must have been back then. The new clothes were comfortable and a little loose, which was just as well, as the weather was getting hot. He had got some new swimming shorts at the same time, and some bigger workout clothes; he was still using the weights and swimming, partly hoping he would see Kim or one of her friends and find out whether there was any truth in Angus's story, if she really had found someone else.

No e-mail from Lindy had come by the second Friday morning, and Jack felt quite disappointed. For the first time since the break-up, he felt really lonely. He'd been out to the pub a couple of times with Sam during the week, but he was away on his brother's stag weekend now and Jenny's parents were visiting, so Angus wouldn't be available either. He thought of getting in touch with old friends he hadn't seen for a while, but he knew the first thing they would notice would be that skinny old Jack was skinny no longer (he was guiltily aware that he'd been able to stuff his face in the evenings as well as the days since the break-up) and he didn't want to explain about Kim just yet. He'd seen her in the street the other day, holding hands with an over-tanned man he recognized as an aerobics instructor at the gym, so it looked as if Angus was right.

By noon, Lindy still hadn't e-mailed, and on a whim, he e-mailed her asking if she would like to meet to discuss the book after she got out of work that evening. He suggested a bar near her work that Kim had favored; it wasn't his style, with blond wood and expensive fizzy lagers, but it was supposed to be the kind of place girls liked.

Lindy sent an answer in her lunch-break, saying that she thought that was a great idea, though she couldn't stay very long as she was going out that evening. Jack felt elated, but oddly nervous. It's not like it's a date, he told himself as he pulled on a third choice of shirt, sucked his stomach in as far as he could and flattened his hair with water. He squinted at himself in the mirror. Well, he was no Adonis but he'd do. After all Lindy didn't like narcissists.

He sat at a table, sipping a Carlsberg , he hadn't had one since the last time he was out with Kim, he had gone off keg lager , and waited, feeling conspicuous among all the shiny couples and young women. Lindy pushed her way through the tables in her usual manner. She had changed out of her work clothes into a denim skirt, red sandals and a red corset-style top which really showed off her plump hourglass figure. Jack got her a half lager too and they began to discuss his work.

After a while, Jack started, suddenly aware that he'd been gazing at Lindy's cleavage, her generous breasts showing white above her low-cut top. His look of horror must have amused her, because she laughed.

"My fault for wearing something like this to a meeting. I'm going to a party later on and I knew I wouldn't have time to change." She took a sip of her drink and made a face. "Don't think much of this."

"No, it's pretty bad, isn't it? Would you rather have something else?" Jack thought longingly of any number of pubs he knew, where the décor might not be as slick but the drink was better and the ambiance. At that moment loud music began to play over the speakers.

As one, Lindy and Jack stood up and walked outside. "Want to go somewhere quieter?" asked Lindy. He nodded and followed her along the street and around the corner to a little pub with tiles covering the walls. "Not much of a style bar, but we come here from work sometimes." Inside it was restfully cool and not too busy; there were four hand-pumps and no music. They had some Summer Lightning and talked about the book until seven. Lindy looked at her watch, and Jack thought she was about to leave.

"I need to get a bite to eat before going to the party," she said instead. "I haven't forgotten that I left you in the lurch last time we ate together , can I buy you dinner? The food here's not bad, but we could go elsewhere if you like." Over huge plates of battered cod and chips, then apple pie with ice cream, they told each other more about their lives. Lindy had always lived in London, while Jack had moved around a lot because his father was in the Army.

"I was born in Germany, and then we moved back to England, but we never stayed put for long. I was sent to boarding school when I was 13 to get a chance to settle. Couldn't wait to get shot of the place; it was in the middle of nowhere and boring as hell. I was lucky, though. I was good at sports so I didn't get picked on too much and I had something to keep me busy."

"What's your sport, rugby?" asked Lindy.

"No, football originally." He saw that she looked surprised. "Oh, you're thinking of that Welsh rugby shirt? Dad's Welsh well, he was born there , so he followed the rugby, but we didn't play it at school."

"I was actually thinking you had a great build for rugby," mused Lindy, spooning up the last of her pie.

"Well, I told you. I was a lot slighter back then. Even six months ago, come to that."

Lindy stood up, tugging down her tight top and rubbing her well-fed midriff. "Wow I'm full. It was good though, wasn't it?" She smiled hesitantly. "You wouldn't - would you like to come on to the party with me? It's nothing formal. Some friends have finally got a house with a garden and they want to show it off."

Jack assented almost before he had had time to think about it.

They got a cab and stopped in a terrace of smallish stuccoed houses; their faded charm looked ripe for renovation and a huge hike in the property values. A hubbub of voices led them to the party; inside the front door, the house was sparsely furnished but very clean, with floorboards which had evidently been newly sanded and sealed, and mostly white walls. Lindy introduced the hosts, Jo and Christopher. "Lindy!" yelled Jo over her shoulder as she went to get them some wine. "Your brother's here, somewhere."

Lindy made a face of mock-horror and they headed out to the garden. This too was small, and not much had been done to it yet, but there were little candle lanterns hanging from the branches of a tree. People were sitting on the grass or leaning against the walls. Lindy and Jack joined a group seated at an ancient picnic table, and joined in the conversation. Lindy evidently knew everyone, but Jack felt quite at ease. Dusk was falling, but the air was mild, and he could sense Lindy's warm flesh close by him even if he shut his eyes. He thought once again how sweet and lively she was, and was not surprised to see that everybody seemed to like her and be glad to see her.

Much later, when Lindy had gone to fetch a fresh round of drinks, a stocky young man walked over and asked where she had gone.

"Just to the kitchen to get some wine," said Jack.

"I'm Will by the way, I'm her brother."

"Jack Griffiths."

He was just going to say how he knew Lindy when Will said "So you and Lindy, eh. I've been waiting to find out who this new guy she had her eye on is."

With a feeling of unreality, Jack protested that Will had made a mistake, that Lindy was his editor. He wondered how many drinks Will had had. "Oh give me a break. You can't keep it secret. I've been watching you together all evening. In fact," said Will, warming to his theme, "I'd have known it just to look at you. You're just her type."

Lindy came up behind Will and caught him in a mock headlock with the arm that wasn't holding a bottle of wine. Will pretended to struggle feebly and she let go.

"William," she said sweetly, "what have you been saying? Jack, my younger brother. Totally lacking in tact and, unfortunately, shares a flat with me." She caught up their glasses and pushed Will into her vacant seat. "Chat to these people. Jack and I are going to have a little talk over there."

They walked over to a quiet corner. Jack looked down at Lindy, his pulse quickening. She gazed back up at him, her round, pretty face solemn. "So. My secret's out. I should have known Will would smell a rat; I got him to come round to the office with this outfit. Are you angry, have I embarrassed you?"

Jack did not answer her but cupped her face in his hands, and bent his head to kiss her. Their lips first touched lightly, then more closely and Jack slid his tongue into her mouth, sliding one hand around to the back of her head and the other down over her satin-clad back. Before too long, they drew close together, Lindy putting her arms around Jack's thick waist and hugging him tightly, pressing herself close against his fleshy chest and belly, and grabbing handfuls of the fat on his back through his shirt. Meanwhile his hands traced her contours, sliding around her waist and down on to her curvy hips and backside, round and full under the tight denim skirt. He couldn't believe how arousing this was. Finally they had to disengage in order to breathe, gazing at each other as if bewitched.

After a long silence, Lindy murmured, "I'll understand, if this is all too soon. I know it's only been a couple of weeks since you broke up with Kim. I've been putting off e-mailing you every day because I didn't know whether to make a move or wait to see if you did." Jack kissed her again and she kissed him back with enthusiasm. "I suppose you can tell, self-control was never my strong point."

They made their way out of the party in a blur and got a cab back to Jack's place, kissing and grabbing each other like teenagers in the back seat. Lindy kicked off her sandals inside the front door of Jack's flat and made straight for him, unbuttoning his shirt, running her hands over his chubby sides and back and stroking and squeezing his belly. They stumbled into the bedroom and rolled around on the bed for awhile, exploring each other with hands and tongues. Jack worked out how to unlace Lindy's corset-style top, and her breasts swung loose as he removed it, larger and fuller even than he had imagined. She unzipped her skirt and stood there in her knickers. Lindy's body was nothing like Kim's toned and lean one , nothing like any of Jack's previous girlfriends'. She had ample hips as well as generous breasts, and a rounded, soft-looking tummy, with creases at her hips and the traces of faint, shiny stretchmarks. Her knees were dimpled and her thighs pudgy, with no space between them at the top. Jack was overcome by her Rubenesque beauty; desire like none he had ever felt before was coursing through him.

As he drew Lindy towards him and ran his hands over her soft, yielding flesh, grabbing handfuls of her arse and discovering the glory of breasts that overflowed his hands, she could feel his erection digging into her belly as she leaned into his fatter one. She slid her hands down under the flesh which overhung his belt and unfastened his jeans as he slid his hands inside her red lace-trimmed pants and eased them over her curves. He trod off his shoes, kicked the jeans free and walked her backwards to the bed, and she sat down, her belly spilling forwards in two small rolls and her breasts swinging as she did so. Jack just couldn't wait any longer; he got a condom from the bedside drawer, and they fell on the bed together and made seismic love.

Being on top of Lindy was an education; she was so comfortable to lie on. It was wonderful to thrust against such soft, plump cushiony flesh; no grinding hipbones here! Every touch seemed to set off waves of pleasure from her, and she knew how to give pleasure back. She massaged and stroked his sides and arched her back rhythmically, sending him nearer and nearer to shooting his bolt, but he held back as long as possible.

"I'm , not , squashing you?" he asked, panting.

"No!" gasped Lindy. "Keep doing that! ahhh, yes! yes! yes!" She grabbed his backside and pulled him even harder into her. The climax seemed to last for minutes, then Jack subsided on top of her in blissful exhaustion. She let him lie there for a moment, sweat gluing their torsos together, then squeezed him gently with her vaginal muscles, setting off a new train of sensation which shot electricity through him. Finally they both lay still, happy and silent in the warm still room.
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Old 06-09-2015, 03:08 PM   #6
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Default Part Six

Part Six

In the morning, Jack drifted awake feeling totally comfortable and disinclined to move. He had the impression he'd woken several times and gone back to sleep. Lindy was curled into his back, naked, her warm belly filling the hollow of his back, her knees fitting behind his knees, her arm about his waist. He didn't move for fear of waking her. Last night they had cuddled and caressed each other for hours before falling asleep in each other's arms. He thought of Kim, who was not really the cuddly kind and would have been curled up with her back to him on the other side of the bed. At that he became aware of Lindy's hand caressing his belly. He tensed up, and she stopped. "Sorry, is that annoying you?"

Jack rolled over to face her. "No. Just not used to it, I suppose."

In truth, he felt a little embarrassed at her drawing attention to how big his stomach was these days. Lying on his side it spread out even further than when he was standing, soft and flabby. Last night it had seemed natural that Lindy should fancy him and want to sleep with him, but in the cold light of day it didn't seem at all likely that a lovely woman like her should want someone fat and unfit. They had both had a few drinks; perhaps she would regret her boldness? But Lindy was now snuggling into him with every sign of pleasure.

As she ran a hand down his side, he felt himself becoming hard once more. Lindy grinned, and rolled on top of him. She was quite heavy herself and Jack began to get an inkling of why she hadn't minded his weight on top of her; the sensation of physical closeness was overwhelming. As she reached over to get a condom, her full breasts swung over Jack's face. He pulled her near, so she sat astride his padded torso as he licked her nipples, then moved down, applied the protection and slid on to him.

As Lindy rocked and swayed, gently at first and then with increasing confidence, her breasts bounced, as did her little potbelly, and she sent vibrations through Jack's belly fat too. He could feel the cool cheeks of her round backside resting on his thighs. She leant further forward and eased herself up and down, very slowly, her breasts almost in his face again, and kissed him wherever she could reach. All at once he came and she jerked backwards, taking her weight off her knees so that she bore down hard on him and both cried out with pleasure, her body convulsing and every soft bit of flesh on her bouncing with the movement.

As it ended she collapsed on to his chest, and both lay there for a moment, trying to catch their breath, exhausted but happy. After a while, Lindy mentioned that she needed to take a shower after that. She headed for the bathroom, and Jack followed her to clean up himself, watching the glass of the shower steam up so that he could only see her plump figure mistily through it. He washed, dressed in last night's jeans and a clean shirt, and called out that he was going to get some stuff from the deli for breakfast.

By the time he returned, Lindy was wrapped in a towel in the kitchen, drinking tea. Jack unloaded the bags on to the table. "I don't know what you like for breakfast, so I got a choice." There were six fresh croissants, small rolls, cheese, ham, smoked salmon, jam, fruit and cream. He put six rashers of bacon in a pan to cook, and began to make some scrambled eggs, using a very low heat and plenty of butter so they wouldn't be dry.

Lindy sat at the table eating a croissant and jam, and watching him cook. He looked sexy and relaxed, not as if cooking was a big deal, the way it was for some men , if they made you some toast they practically expected a Michelin star. By the time Lindy had finished her second croissant the food was done. Jack, who had not taken the edge from his hunger, ate quicker than Lindy and cooked some extra bacon for himself before moving on to croissants, slitting and buttering them and filling them liberally with salmon or brie. Lindy nibbled at a roll while he was eating, though she was getting full. As he finished his third croissant, he leaned back with a sigh, caught between satisfaction at the growing fullness of his belly, and shame at having eaten so much food so fast and so voraciously. What must Lindy think of him?

"There's another croissant left," she said.

"Oh, take it if you want it," answered Jack, out of politeness.

"No, I really can't eat any more. You have it. It's a shame to let it go stale."

Jack realised that although he felt full, he still did want to eat it. His indecision must have been noticeable in his face, because Lindy buttered it, filled it with brie and pushed it towards him. As he ate, he thought he could feel his replete stomach stretching a little to accommodate just a few more bites, and definitely felt it bulging outwards just below his ribs.

As the last chunk of creamy brie melted on his tongue, he felt a glow of slightly wicked pleasure, and took a warm buttered roll as well. Lindy shot him a grin as he took slow bites, impressed at the amount he could pack away.

"Now I'm really stuffed," he groaned, grinning weakly himself, and patting his over-filled paunch. "Don't think I'll ever need to eat again."

"Well, that would be a pity," said Lindy. "Can I make you some coffee?"

"No, I'll get it." Jack tried to heave himself to his feet and groaned with effort.

"I'm almost too full to move. Why on earth did I eat so much?"

"Because it tasted nice?" suggested Lindy. "Never mind. I'll get the coffee. You just sit there and digest." She stood up, holding her towel around her curves, and as she passed she patted his belly very gently on the fattest part, just above the navel. It was still only 10am, and they sat drinking coffee and talking for the next couple of hours. Lindy picked at the food which was still left on the table, and as the satisfying feeling of satiety wore off, Jack began to do so too.

By midday, there was no bread or ham left, only cheese and a few pieces of fruit. Jack looked at the devastation they had wrought.
"I suppose we'll have to go out for lunch," he said, jokingly, not imagining that either of them would need any.

"Good idea." Lindy smiled cheekily. "First, though, could we stop by my place?
I need a change of clothes." She went off to put her skirt and corset top on, and Jack lent her an outgrown T-shirt of his to put over the top. Lindy lived about 20 minutes away by car, in a flat she shared with her brother, who was a student, and two of his classmates. "It's nothing like as big as your place, but it's comfortable."

None of them was awake yet and Jack waited in the shabby kitchen as Lindy changed. She reappeared in straight-leg jeans, trainers and a fitted T-shirt, and they walked to a sandwich shop she knew. As they stood in the long queue, Jack was surprised to find he was, if not exactly hungry, definitely ready for some more food. He ate a large and tasty chicken curry baguette without really pausing for breath, and then waited while Lindy finished her tomato and mozzarella one. She glanced up at him; she could tell he was still hungry.

"Do you want another one?" Jack looked sheepish. "Why don't you have one? My treat."

Before he could say no, she bustled through the crowd and somehow managed to get served without waiting much at all. She bore another huge baguette back and watched as he ate it. It was deliciously crusty and the curry filling was both creamy and spicy.

"Better now?" Jack assented, but as they left the shop, he was surprised to find that he wasn't actually all that full. Not as full as he had been at breakfast, certainly. The sky outside had darkened, and as they left it started to rain.

"British summer." puffed Jack as they ran for the car. Neither of them was used to running these days. "How about we go home and watch a film? You pick, but if I haven't got anything you fancy I know a good video shop." They spent the afternoon cuddling and snacking on the sofa, watching two films, then ordering a lot of takeaway Chinese. Lindy couldn't stay that night; she had to get up early in the morning to spend the day with her parents, but they arranged to do dinner and a film on Monday.

Before he went to bed, Jack went to clear the kitchen. He wasn't at all hungry, but it didn't seem worth keeping the remains of the Chinese food. Bits of various dishes were left over, about a carton and a half's worth; Jack grabbed a fork and ate them directly from the cartons. As he ate, he understood that he was sort of waiting for that stuffed-to-bursting feeling to develop, but it just wasn't there yet, though he'd eaten prodigious amounts that day and his paunch was really bulging out above his jeans. Though he knew he looked fatter than ever, he just had to have that feeling, so he heaved himself up to get a ready-made chocolate cheesecake from the fridge. It took two pieces to make him begin to feel replete, and he even managed a third, it tasted so good. He leant back with knees well apart, his gorged belly jutting solidly forward out of his now unzipped jeans and into his lap, almost unable to move, but contented. He couldn't wait to see Lindy again on Monday.

In fact, Lindy and Jack ate dinner together every night that week; they went to a Thai restaurant on Monday, then Lindy cooked dinner at her flat on Tuesday, then Jack returned the favour.

Their dates did not focus entirely around food; they went to the cinema, then to a play that a friend of Lindy's was producing, but they always ate together at some point. Jack loved the relish with which Lindy attacked her food, and she made sure that he didn't stint himself either; by the end of the evening he was always pretty full, though never quite too full to make love to her.

On Friday morning, as the alarm went, Lindy reluctantly disengaged herself from Jack's warm embrace and got out of bed. In solidarity, Jack got out too and began to dress. Lindy was just putting her skirt on when she heard sounds of exasperation coming from Jack. She turned towards him and saw that he couldn't get his jeans to fasten. She had been noticing that they were getting tight already, but couldn't have believed that he'd outgrow them so quickly; the T-shirt he was already wearing was stretched tightly across his stomach too. It turned her on, watching him struggle. He hadn't exactly been slender at 211 when they met, but she was prepared to bet that another 15 pounds or maybe even more had gone on to him since, settling mostly around the waist, but perhaps a little in his backside as well, for it was definitely a little rounder.

"What!" said Jack with embarrassment, giving up the battle to suck in his stomach enough to button the jeans. "I only bought these about a month ago." He put on his jersey shorts instead; Lindy noticed the way the fabric outlined that backside and dipped to get around his potbelly. They went to the kitchen to get breakfast, and when Jack lifted his arms to get things down from the cupboards, T-shirt riding up, his belly was revealed. It was getting quite impressive, rounding out just under his pecs and sticking out proudly before ending in a hanging roll that descended maybe two inches over the top of his shorts, and his expanded love handles were visible under his T-shirt at the back. Lindy walked up and put her arms around him, only just able to reach all the way.

"Hmmm," thought Jack, "I don't think I can pretend I have a 40" waist anymore; more like 44" probably." He sighed quietly, enjoying the feeling of Lindy's arms sinking into his padding. He really had no desire to lose weight, but what he had with Lindy was so great, he didn't want to jeopardise it. He wasn't about to lose two girlfriends over his eating habits.

When Lindy got home that night, Jack closed down the computer and led her to the sofa. "Can we talk about something before I start making the dinner?"

"Sure," said Lindy.

"I went to the gym today."

"To use the weights?"

"Yes, but also to use the scales. After that fiasco with my trousers this morning, I thought I'd better find out what the damage is."

"And what is it?" asked Lindy, trying not to sound over-eager.

"232 pounds , that's sixteen stone, eight pounds. In other words, I've put on about a stone and a half since my ankle's been better , when I was supposed to be losing the three stone I put on when it was broken."

Lindy looked guilty. "I've got a confession to make."

"What is it?" Jack asked in slight alarm. He had no idea what she was about to tell him.

"Well, firstly I think it's at least partly my fault that you put on weight. I encourage you to eat all the time." She looked down at her knees. "I have a bit of a history with this. I've always been attracted to big men, and around me they usually get bigger. You might not think it to look at me, but I've got a very good metabolism , I can out-eat most men and not actually gain much, though I'll never be thin. Where do I start?

"Mark was my boyfriend at university. He was about your size when we met, but by the time we graduated, he had put on maybe four stone. We were in love, but he got a job in America , Chicago , and it was just too hard to keep the relationship up long-distance. He's married now and a good bit fatter, by the looks of last year's Christmas photo. I suppose America suits him!"

"Then there was Paul. He was the rugby player; six foot five, but really quite slender and a very fast runner. Not my usual type, I only met him because a friend of mine was trying to set me up with a much heftier team-mate of his. I got him to enjoy food, though to begin with he didn't gain a thing, but then he damaged his knee quite badly, had it operated on and was off training for nearly a year and you can guess what happened then."

"I think I can."

"Well, he just ballooned. He got depressed because he was missing rugby , it was his life , and comfort-ate. He wouldn't tell me how much he'd gained, but by the end it was a lot. I mean, massive amounts: could've been eighty pounds , more, even. It was unbelievably fast. He didn't have an ounce of fat on him when we met, he was about fifteen stone and all muscle , but he developed this vast, cuddly, hanging belly and a rear-end to balance it. I thought he looked fantastic. It made him move slowly, like a big bear. I felt quite small and thin next to him, which is unusual, to say the least. I found it really arousing to be enveloped in all that soft, heavy flesh." She seemed lost for a moment in recollection.

"So what went wrong?"

Lindy sighed. "Poor Paul. He hated being so fat. In fact, he didn't like having gained any weight at all, and he found it really bizarre that it was turning me on. It wasn't too bad for the first while, when he just got a little chunkier and blamed being off training, but when he began to look obviously fat, he found it embarrassing and was determined to lose weight. I behaved very badly; I totally sabotaged his efforts, cooking huge portions, bringing treats home and leaving them around. I hate to look back on it now, but at the time I couldn't seem to help myself; that big squashy belly was so sexy, and I knew he couldn't resist eating what was put in front of him , he'd never had to while he was in training. But he hated himself for giving in to temptation, and me for tempting him. In the end, we had a huge argument and he said it was all my fault that he'd gone from an athlete to a huge, gross, flabby ball of lard , his words, not mine , and that I was sick for preferring him that way. He moved out to live with his sister and she helped him lose it all. She actually leads one of those diet groups nowadays, and he teaches sports at a boys' boarding school. He came round to see me after he'd got back to his original weight; I think he was trying to show me he'd won." She shook her head; the memory evidently pained her.

"Now I see that it was wrong to take advantage of Paul like I did. It was his body, so I should have supported him, instead of selfishly undermining him. I made a vow then that I wouldn't ever do that to anyone else; try to change their habits and make them into someone they weren't. And I'm afraid you're going to tell me I am doing it again."

Jack smiled. "You can relax. What I was actually going to ask you was whether you mind that I've gotten fatter, and I think I've been given my answer. See, I don't think you can claim all the credit. Only about a third of this" , he glanced down at his overstretched T-shirt , "went on after I met you. I always had a big appetite when I was younger, but I worked it all off playing sports; then I got a stressful job and felt too wound up to eat much. Thinking back, I started eating more as soon as I gave that job up, and Kim was beginning to tell me I needed to cut down even back then. If she hadn't made me exercise a lot I'm sure I would have got to this point much earlier. I was losing interest in playing sports and had already put on a few pounds before I broke my ankle, she commented on it several times. See, I think Kim was trying, with the best intentions, to do to me what you did to Paul, only in reverse. Make me be a thin person even though I really didn't want to.

"My dad's never been exactly thin," Jack continued. "He put on quite a bit when he left the Army, and his brothers are big too, so I've probably got some kind of genetic predisposition to gain weight; I did tell the family I'd put some on with my injury and they didn't seem surprised at all. If it's a choice between eating what I want or being thin, I'll choose the food. You've never made me eat something I didn't want. What's more, Lindy, I've fallen in love with you. The only reason I would diet is if you want it, but the thought isn't appealing at all. You really don't want me to, do you?"

"No!" Lindy climbed on to Jack's shrinking lap , the sofa creaked in protest , and embraced him. "I love you too; exactly as you are." They kissed, long and passionately.

"Besides," said Jack, "it's kind of exciting, seeing how much you can eat before you can't hold any more. It's like nothing else... and now I've tried it I don't know if I could give it up. In fact, you should see what I've got in for dinner." He rubbed his belly in anticipation.

Twelve months later:

The award ceremony had finished and among the bustle of happy and disappointed writers and their families, publishers and agents, the winner of the Wallace Award for a first crime novel was kissing his future wife.

"Congratulations!" Lindy's boss headed over towards Jack. "We're all so proud. A Wallace award shouldn't hurt the sales at all , not that they need helping, of course. It's one of the bestselling first novels we've ever done. How's the new book coming along?"

Jack took a glass of champagne from a passing waitress and handed it to Lindy, who looked ravishing in a Fifties-style eau-de-nil satin dress, which set off her curves to perfection.

"Fantastic. And as with the first one, we know who to thank for that." He smiled lovingly at his fiancée. "Couldn't ask for a better editor , it was a lucky day for me when Mark left." Lindy put her arm around Jack's waist , or where his waist once was, though she could hardly reach to the other side of her imposing boyfriend these days. In his hired dinner-jacket, he looked very handsome, though they'd had a bit of a search to find dress trousers and jacket that would fit him, with his now 52-inch waist and massive belly, now smoothly encased in a white shirt. Though his gain had slowed a lot, another forty pounds had nonetheless added themselves to his frame over the past year, a souvenir of many very good meals. Lindy had gained perhaps five pounds herself, but it was completely unnoticeable beside Jack's increasing portliness.

As they got into a taxi at the end of the evening, Lindy whispered, "I've got plans for when we get home, first a little snack, and then I've got something else on my mind."

Jack cuddled her closely against his fleshy side. "Lindy, I can't wait."

The End

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