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Old 06-27-2015, 04:11 AM   #26
loopytheone
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435

435 different types of cheeses- at least that was how many General de Gaulle once claimed France has to offer. May I invite you to join me when the President of the French Cheese Masters Association comes to the ‘Langdon Residency’ to introduce you to a least a small percentage of this creamy, tasty world? Please accept my sincere apologies for being an unsatisfactory diet case. Maybe this would be an opportunity to experience food in a pleasant, relaxed context as a small compensation.”

It had taken him days to compose this small invitation to Stephanie and he had procrastinated in sending it off until it was almost too late; now he awaited her response nervously, checking all forms of communication almost incessantly. So a small surge of elation hit him as he read her response the next evening: “Sounds extremely tasty! Thanks for inviting me, glad to come.

Seeing Stephanie again, getting back on speaking terms with her was important to him, for reasons he did not even want to fully explain to himself. It was a muddled mix of gratitude, remorse, the wish to be prepared for eventual further developments and despite all a sizable portion of pure lust.

The latter resurfaced in the form of most pleasing tingles as he observed Stephanie from across the small lobby in front of the large dining room shortly before the begin of the cheese tasting. Wearing her signature black, the dress she had on did its best to increase those tingles: It pushed up her breasts in a tasteful display, perfectly outlined those delicious pumpkin buttocks of hers and the tucked sleeves ended just above charming little dimples in her elbow that almost asked to be kissed. He was so engrossed in his lusty ogling of Stephanie, that he must have overlooked Tricia frantically waving him over for quite some time.

“There must be some misunderstanding, I have to be on the list, I’ll pay for my ticket now,” was the first thing he heard Stephanie say.

“Stephanie, it’s wonderful to see you. Thank you for accepting my invitation,” he put as much meaning into his smile as he could, but couldn’t get her to meet his eye. “You look great.”

“See Ms. Weymouth – it’s just as I’ve been trying to explain to you,” Tricia interjected. “You’re not on our regular ticket list, but on the special invites, to be precise as Christopher’s plus1.”

“That can’t be…. I was invited …. but … but … I can’t be a plus1,” Stephanie had turned beet red, was shaking her head and rummaging for her wallet. “How much does a ticket cost, I’ll pay for mine….”

“There are no regular tickets available, the tasting has been sold out for weeks,” Tricia’s eyebrows were in exasperation mode. “But it’s perfectly okay, you’re on the list, have a seat at the head table. Let Christopher show you there.”

“I need a ticket, I’m not here as a plus1…,” Stephanie muttered and pulled out her credit card, looking profoundly unhappy despite her flattering attire and perfect make-up.

“Stephanie, I’m sorry this catches you unawares. Plus1 only means you’re on the special invites list outside of the regular ticket contingent. I thought that was clear from my invitation – and it doesn’t bother you too much. There are no strings attached to this whatsoever. The cheese will taste just as good, by the way,” trying to give the awkward situation a lighter spin.

“Sorry, I .. I … don’t know … can’t I buy the extra ticket, please?”

Tricia looked at him in questioning, raising her shoulders. “Stephanie … the plus1 means nothing except that you got a personal invitation. Is that such a problem? From your text message I thought you were okay with accepting an invitation from me to such a public event….”

“Not as a plus1 … I can’t be your plus1, or anybody’s plus 1….,” she was frantically shaking her head. “It’s … I can’t …. have a nice evening,” as she turned to walk towards the exit.

For a second he was undecided whether or not to go after her, but only exhaled with a shudder. Claire seemed to have overheard the end of the exchange and now stood next to him, patting his arm. “Poor Christopher, you meant so well – and she’s being so mean. Impossible behavior! What was she thinking? What can we do for you so you’re not too upset?”

“It’s okay Claire, I’m not upset. More bewildered and a bit disappointed. But she’s not being mean – that had nothing to do with me. She’s got some problems of her own with some things … and there’s nothing I can do about that. Come ‘on I can already smell the cheese!”


The incident with Stephanie fit in seamlessly with the many open ends his life seemed to consist of after his split with Warren. He had hoped that the discussion, painful as it was, would at least come up with a clear resolution, letting him know where he stood and how he could move on. But that was less the case than ever.

He had returned to the ‘Langdon Residency’ the next day, feeling numb with a small hard ball of fear in the pit of his stomach, awaiting Warren’s phone call or message any minute that he needed to clear his desk, leave the keys and passwords to never set foot in the hotel again. But nothing happened. No word from Warren whatsoever. Days passed, a week, still nothing.

In the meantime a stack of documents awaiting his signature had accumulated on his desk, Tricia was pestering him she needed decisions and sign offs – but he did not know what to do. Finally he packed everything up, sent it special delivery to Warren and asked how he should proceed. Two days later he got the entire packet back with a small note from Janice to take care of the business as he always had. Uncertain how much proxy this exactly still meant for him, given the open ended situation, he tried to call Warren, only to get Janice who quickly said: “I’ll get back to you.”

A day later he got an e-mail from her stating: “Go about your work as you always have. You’ll be informed of further developments in due time.” As he tried to find out what ‘in due time’ might mean more precisely, he got no answer. What he had expected to be a catharsis, return him to safe footing regarding his professional future had actually propelled him in a worse state of limbo than ever. Not knowing what the next day would bring job-wise, left him in state as if paralyzed, he feared one wrong move and everything might implode in the next second.

Every morning when he walked to the hotel, as soon as it came into view cold unease that this might be his last walk there started trickling through him. The business cool and composure he had shown in presenting his offer to Warren of dividing their joint ownership and resigning from his post as director had been a rare feat of extreme discipline. It had nothing to do with his true feelings whatsoever. The idea of having to leave the hotel, the tasks, duties and opportunities it offered him, the great people working there hurt unbearably so he suppressed these thoughts as soon as they surfaced. His bank called several times to ask about the exact time-line for the transactions, but all he could ask them to was uphold the financing arrangements as long as possible.

In order to not go crazy or to avoid his over observant staff – where he had no clue how he could inform them of his decision without falling apart completely - noticing his anxiety, he kept as busy as possible.
Not knowing whether he’d still be in the hotel the next day, this meant mainly working in the bakery, testing cooking recipes and being very thorough with his back exercise regime. Cooking, baking – and eating a sizable quantity of his concoctions - was a tremendous solace for him. No matter how unsettling his day had been, if he could spend the evening in the kitchen improvising with ingredients or trying a new spin on an old recipe, later savoring the results with a good glass of wine before sitting on the couch, writing down his findings with his well filled stomach resting expansively in his lap he could truly relax and blend out everything else to focus on the immediate pleasures and little achievements.

What kept his spirits at a bearable equilibrium was that he actually was rather productive in these small things. He not only developed a whole set of samples for ‘bread of the month’ in the bakery, starting a much sought after weekly competition in which customers could choose between two bread suggestions to vote one as bread for the coming month. He also interfered heavily with Paul and Marcus’ planning of the restaurant menus, negatively influencing their shaky balance of authority in the kitchen by imposing his new creations or other alternations. The restaurant and the kitchen were the only parts of the hotel in which he continued to go about his work as before – he knew Warren would never pay attention or say anything about that. It also was a way of seeing some progress, since it was his ambition for them to win back their top rankings after the awful past year.



“Mmmmh …. please hold me tighter…,”Mary Helen murmured as she pressed herself against him. Despite already drifting off to sleep in post coital relaxation, he was happy to comply, rolling more of his belly over her and pulling her into it by her plump buttocks. Mary Helen arriving shortly after the disagreeable Stephanie incident for their charity event was a major help in letting him get over it quickly, see it for what it was, irrational behavior that had other root causes than his person.

“You’re so cozy…,”Mary Helen firmly ran her fingers up the inside of his thick upper arms, squeezing through the soft flesh to reach his biceps, pressing her thumbs up against them sending little titillating bolts through him, making him cuddle her even closer. “Mmmh … there’s so much physical comfort about you…. you’re spoiling me silly ….and it’s my last day tomorrow…”

“Don’t think about it, let’s make the most of this..,” he whispered giving her an intense kiss.

“Yeah, you’re right,” she sighed heavily. “Do you know it’s getting more and more difficult for me to go back home after being with you for longer than a day or two? Like last time – I actually recoiled physically when Denis touched me with his bony body… it was so bad he even noticed. I made up something about still having jet lag or so….”

“I’m so sorry…,” he was stricken, not knowing what to say. He had never given the maybe limited, yet still existing physical aspects of her marriage any thought, let alone how she could handle them.

“No, it’s not your fault. After all I’m here in your bed because I love it that you wrap all this soft flesh around me. That I can feel thick meaty muscles underneath, that all of you is so deliciously padded and warm,” she heaved another sigh. “Denis’ body in contrast repulses me more and more. Not only that he rarely touches me …. He’s so scrawny; his skin now that he’s getting older is dry and a bit loose over small hard lumpy muscles. I always bump into some bone when he takes me in his arm…,” she shuddered a bit, instinctively letting him pull her closer again.

Her hand ran along his side, dug deep into his side roles exploring them to end by rolling the very fluffy one under his arm appraisingly between two fingers. “Mmmh … I think you’ve gotten even juicier since the end of your diet. Have you put some of those cuddly 525 pounds back on?” she teased biting into one of his nipples.

Abruptly he flopped on his back, dislocating her and punching his pillow with a frustrated grunt as he shoved it under his head. “Honey what’s wrong? You’ve gained a bit back, haven’t you? Is that a problem? You seem in really good shape again…”

With an irritated shake of his head he snorted and looked the other way. This was one of the many things he did not want to think about. As emotionally grounding and professionally rewarding as his current cooking and baking mania was for him, he saw with dread how quickly he was putting the pounds he had so painstakingly lost back on again. What if Warren did come around to agree to his slower weight loss plan in the end? Why was he undoing so much of his hard work – would maybe have to start over again with longer way to go? Wasn’t it plain idiocy to relapse so badly after having worked so hard to achieve something? Was he nothing but a food addicted loser?

“Christopher dear, what’s bothering you? We’ve been so busy the past days with the charity cooking gala – you’ve dodged telling me how your discussion with Warren went. You’re still here, you’re not on a diet – so I assume everything went well?”

He grunted and turned further over on his side, away from her, but Mary Helen climbed on him, bit into his ear until he yelped. “Honey, we’d established that not talking about things doesn’t make them better or go away. You did such a good job in preparing everything for your argument with Warren – you owe me the outcome!”

Since this was undeniable, he turned on his back, hugged her tight again and after a deep breath stated flatly: “I’ve officially resigned as director of the ‘Langdon Residency’. All contract offers for buying out Warren from our joint business’ are on his desk waiting to be signed. He said either weight loss surgery or go my ways.”

“Okay, but you’re still running the hotel here – you’re not in line for surgery though, are you?”

“No, definitely not. Warren has my letter of resignation, just needs to fill in the date. His office said I’ll be informed in due time when that will happen, whatever that means.”

“When exactly was that?”

“Almost two months ago.”

“Two months ago? What have you been doing in the meantime?”

“Nothing.”

“What do you mean nothing? What exactly have you been doing to move on with your plans?”

“Ummm … nothing.”

“Christopher – do me a favor and don’t make me worm everything out of you!” Mary Helen with a small exasperated shake pinched his cheek hard. “You’re an articulate guy! You can tell me coherently what happened and what you’re doing now!”

“As I said nothing really!” Her insistence annoyed him, yet he had the uncomfortable gut feeling she was right about asking. “Everything is in limbo, I don’t know if Warren will agree to the buyout offers for the bakery and deli. Nor do I know when my last day here will be. But I haven’t managed to leave on my own. It’s … the restaurant … all my staff … I can’t just leave it like that … So I’m just running the daily business, working a lot for the bakery – and in the process getting fatter again…”

“Why is the latter an issue for you now? It never used to be – and you seem fine to me…”

“Yeah, I feel fine. Being well fed while doing work I love unfortunately makes me feel fine.” After a lengthy pause he mumbled as she prodded him: “Maybe Warren’ll come around, agree to my plan after all …. Then I’ll have to lose almost 30 pounds more again…”

“Even though you dread having to diet again, that’s what you secretly hope for, isn’t that so?” As he could only close his eyes and nod wearily, she took his head in her hands and stroked his hair. “Oh honey, you’re going about this more like the break-up of a marriage than a division of business assets. I understand Langdon is more of a mentor than a boss for you, that there’s also an emotional connect. But in the end, it’s a business deal. You have to work on securing your own best business interests. And if you achieve that, you’ll also feel better in every other respect.”

“But what am I supposed to do if he hasn’t decided yet?”

“From what you just said it seems he has decided that unless you have the weight loss surgery, that your ways will part, or did I get that wrong?”

“Yeah … that’s what he said….”

“In that case, if he has your buyout offers and doesn’t respond within a certain time span, there are legal measures you can take. You should do that, for your own best interest and that of the bakery. After all it’s your family’s bakery, you worked so hard to revive it – you need to protect those assets.”

“Hmmh … you might be right … but I don’t know…,” he sighed. Wasn’t he in bed with Mary Helen to have a good time, instead of this unsettling discussion of all the unthinkables?

“I don’t know any details of how to handle such procedures, I’m no business expert.” Mary Helen patted one of his man boobs energetically watching it vibrate. “But I know someone who is and whom you can trust if I recommend you. Denis’ former chief of staff moved on to a firm specializing in SME law. I’ll give you the contact information and you can work out the details with them.”

“Thanks might be a good idea to hear what they have to say. But what about the hotel?”

“The hotel? Well, you resigned officially. The normal thing to do after splitting up your other assets would be for you to leave then.”

“What about my offer of buying the hotel? And all the great people who work here? And the lovely guests we have – like you. We’d never have met without the hotel.” he kissed her shoulders moving down to her breasts.

“That’s one thing I never wanted to think about – how well you might treat your other guests.” She gave him a wicked grin and a sharp pinch in his most tender parts, letting his face flame with guilt and him gasp in pain. “But that’s one thing I like so much about you, that you’re such a sentimental guy. So you did go ahead and made a bid for the hotel, even though we had agreed you shouldn’t?”

He nodded with a rueful smirk. “It’s my home, the only one I have since the old bakery blew up… especially now, when I was so sick, everybody took such good care of me here….”

“I don’t know how to go about that. All I can tell you is to try to divide the personal from the business level. Langdon doesn’t seem to be much better at that than you are, though. Talk to Brett Norton and his colleagues about how to legally, technically work that out.” His tension subsided a bit as she started kneading and rolling the flesh around his middle, giving his belly little kisses.

Sliding his hands over her hips, his fingers teasing towards her womanhood, he wanted to end the topic. “I’ll try. I promise I’ll go see that attorney you recommended. Hmmmmh….,” he did some small little bites into her stomach, nicely filled with dinner. “What about you? You’re really coming back from Argentina this fall? Starting the first lady campaign? You looked so unhappy when you husband talked about it at the press conference…”

“Yeah … we’re coming back, looks like next year it’ll be the election campaign for governor. The convention is this fall. I think the ‘Langdon Imperial Residency is one of the venues.”

Once more he was struck how defeated she sounded.
“I’ll contact the colleagues there – tell them to make a good offer, take excellent care of you, should you go. Since you’re telling me I need to start my new life – why don’t you do it too? Go you own way, not just do what your husband wants to do?”

“Christopher – it’s not that easy…”

“Well, it isn’t easy for me either and you’re insisting…”

“Come on, you can’t seriously compare my situation to yours! Sometimes you really are a big baby!” Mary Helen was as irritated as he had never seen her. “You only need to get your act together; you can call your own shots. Yeah … there are personal and emotional elements in the issues between you and Langdon, but in essence it’s about business and between adults. Look at me – do you sometimes think about my children, that I’m responsible for three minors? What would a public break-up of my marriage mean for them? And even though Denis and I aren’t the best matched partners, he hasn’t exactly paid much attention to me – I don’t want to publicly humiliate him. So I have to think of a little more than myself – keep in mind that others might get hurt … sorry for the rant. Talking about my future is my least favorite subject right now….”

“See …. mine too,” he murmured, turning off the resentment her words had sprouted in him. In a quick move he flicked her on her back to squish his belly into her. “Let’s make the most of every minute of right here and now….”
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:14 AM   #27
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Next to cooking and baking, traveling was his second escapism of choice while waiting for Warren’s answer and dragging his feet in taking any decisive action himself. The year of his diet he had more or less stayed at home, traveled less than he had since his high school days. Now it was as if he needed to make up for lost time in that field too, attending food fairs, hotel conventions, event development seminars or the like whenever the opportunity arose.

When his mother had the new museum wing inaugurated for the display of the collection’s early Byzantine glass artifacts, he flew up to her small college town to support her and have the buffet catered by the bakery. At the end of the evening she came to give him a big hug, squeezing his thick side roles.

“Thank you, thank you for the lovely buffet, my baby! Everybody just loved it! And you made the little quiches just like daddy used to make them, they tasted sooo good!” her eyes misted over.

“I loved doing that for you. I’m glad I got the consistency right. This new exhibition is great by the way. You and your architect did a fabulous job in designing the building and the display to put everything in the best light. And the collection is beautiful – I also really like the display cases on the slim steel beams, you have to give me the name of the manufacturer for some of our displays.” He smiled down at her.

“You’re so much better than on Christmas, my baby – that makes me really happy. No more beard, you look fresh and healthy – and your appetite is back…,” she patted his belly making him blush involuntarily.

“Yeah- spring is coming, I’ve been outside a lot – I’m much better.”

“Next month I’ve got a lecture on this new collection at a symposium…. I’m staying at the ‘Imperial Residency’ of course. Why don’t you come too, and I can enjoy some time with you and Warren?”

Her question was like a punch in the stomach, making a bit of nausea well up. “Ummm … let me see,” he pulled out his phone and started thumbing through its calendar. “Sorry Gigi, we’re all booked out that week, have two conferences ourselves – I can’t leave….”

“Oh only for a day my baby,” but he shook his head. “Are you really sure you’re feeling well? You’re getting that odd skin tone again, like when you’re sick….”

His mothers wheedling to bring him together with Warren, who wouldn’t even have e-mails sent from his office to him anymore, tipped the scales in favor of going as far away as possible. The best he could think of on short notice was to travel to France for the spring wine fairs, something he hadn’t done now in three years. Getting so far away from his problems seemed like the best idea ever, in addition, it was a great excuse and perfect chance to see Nora again. Just the thought of Nora’s fingers teasing his flab made an entire series of blue movies ignite in his head, causing a physical yearning that stung badly.



Arriving in Paris, he only found out that Nora was on some sort of leave of absence. This confirmed his suspicions that right now anything he tried to achieve, that meant something to him was just bound to go wrong. She had left some notes and small delicacies for him, ironically all health food targeted towards his diet, but good none the less. But that could not make the loneliness go away he felt sleeping alone in the ‘Louis Le Grand’ even though all colleagues there were very inclusive. Natalie, the new sommelière, took him along to several of their tastings at the wine fair and did a good job of being easy going, flirty company, but he was not in the mood for that.

Flying back early was also not an appealing option, so he decided to explore some wineries more in depth and took the high speed train TGV to Bordeaux where he rented a car. From there he leisurely made his way through the Bordelais, moving east to Languedoc-Roussillon and then up north again to the Cotes du Rhone.

At first he was so lonely; the only thing he registered was that he was visiting all these interesting places, drinking this great wine and tasting fine foods all alone, with nobody to share it with. After days, leaving Narbonne to head up to Avignon, he became aware that he was whistling while driving, squinting into the sun and enjoying its warmth on his well filled gut, jiggling and vibrating against the steering wheel.

Unnoticed, the culinary delights he had been discovering, meeting likeminded people who shared his personal and professional passion for excellent food and drink had let him slowly shed the cocoon of frustration he had wrapped himself in. It was a simple pleasure to talk to an expert on how to best mix herbs and wine for certain dishes, or taste a new cuvee in a small family winery, seeing the pride in the young vintner’s eyes – he has plain missed that this past year. Everything had just been about numbers, too high numbers of his weight on the scale, too low booking numbers in the hotel, wrong number of calories he was eating. But for him it was the real things, the products, making and improving them that mattered and satisfied him.

To top off his contentment, Nora called just as he arrived in Avignon:

Christophe chouchou, I’m so sorry. We have a family crisis, I couldn’t see you. How are you, Natalie said you left so soon?

“I’m great, really good again,” and he meant it. “Having an excellent professional time exploring your southern French wine regions. How are you doing?”

Very busy, as I said. Where are you now?

“Avignon – Cotes du Rhone is last on my list before I fly back.”

Ouuh, Provence in early spring, how lovely! With the clear light, you must climb the Mont Ventoux, it’s fantastic!

“Climb Mont Ventoux? You must be joking! I’m way too fat for that! I didn’t miraculously lose 300 pounds on that fucking diet!” His good mood vanished in a flash, how could she be so insensitive?

Chouchou, it’s a lovely hike with spectacular scenery, not like actually climbing a mountain. You’re such a big, strong guy, you walk so much, you can do it! I’d love to do it again together with you if I were there…

“Can’t you maybe come for a day or two?” his hopes rising.

Je regrette infiniment, but with the family right now, it’s impossible,” she sighed. “So please, for me, for us, hike up Mont Ventoux. If you do, go get the small stamp, send it to me. Then I have a wonderful present for you.


The next two days while enjoying wine, olives and landscape, he kept thinking about Nora’s crazy wish. What was the sense in him trying to haul his four hundred-eighty-something pounds up a 1900m mountain? Driving through Carpentras, he out of impulse stopped to at least find out at the local tourist information what the hike would look like. The portly old gentleman on volunteer duty have his girth an appraising look and handed him rather extensive information, explaining the different trails, their advantages and when there was a bus transfer up or down half the way.

“I don’t know…. you see I’m very heavy…. “he mumbled reddening, thinking this was the most stupid idea he’d pursued in quite some time.

“Monsieur, I’m eighty-one, with some embonpoint of my own,” the tourist guide said kindly. “With the family, I hike up every year, Saturday after Easter, it’s no problem. We drink our new wine up there to a good year and harvest. With those boots, you know how to hike. It’ll be a wonderful experience for you. It’s an exertion, but when you’re up on the crest, drink your wine… you know you’re closer to Dieu…”

The vision of a glass of excellent red to celebrate on top of a mountain was inspiring, so he did find himself two days later parking his car at the lower park and starting to hike uphill on the prescribed trail. The first part was a lot easier than he had anticipated. After three months of regular back exercise therapy, he was in better condition than he credited himself with. His comfortable old boots – which he wore since his first back incident, on recommendation from his physiotherapist whenever he had to walk on uneven terrain to better support his weight – moved upwards on their own accord, letting him enjoy the landscape, observe the many riders on race bikes pedaling up or zooming down the little road close by and take a few pictures. By the time he reached the upper car park, he was puffing and sweating, but still within normal exercise terms.

From there on, the trail went steeply uphill, worse than climbing stairs. After what seemed like an eternity of 15 minutes his breathing was so labored, he had to stop until he caught his breath, his calves starting to burn. Looking back, he was dismayed how little progress he had made. As a group of younger people, three guys and a young women, overtook him with very skeptical stares, his ambition was kindled. He’d show them how tough huge and super-soft looking could be!

A grueling 45 minutes later, he was still a good ways below the mountain’s flat crest, panting as if he was about to pass out any minute. His chest stung and windpipe cramped as they were over tasked in trying to get enough oxygen into his enormous body. His heart was racing, he had side stitches as if a spit was being pushed through him and he wondered what ached more: his back, his thighs, his knees or his ankles. He’d given up on his calves long ago; their muscles were in screaming agony. His flesh wobbled, rolled and jiggled more heavily than ever, sweat running through all his creases making odd little noises. Every step felt like he had to move a ton uphill, not the little less than a quarter ton it actually was.
On a small ledge, he collapsed on a flat rock next to the trail marker, his belly heaving and jiggling madly with his catching his breath. After that was half-way back to normal, he took out one small water bottle and drank it in very measured sips to calm his parched throat. Looking up, he saw he still had the worst steep part to climb, but it was a lot shorter than the ways he’d come. And the girl from the group of hikers was nimbly skipping back down towards him.

“Are you okay?” she asked in English, stopping before him and eyeing him with concern.

“Yeah, thanks, I’m okay,” not looking up, embarrassed at his sweaty, breathless state.

“Are you sure? Can I help you?”

“Yes, fine. You can continue.” He hoped she’d take the hint and leave him alone to rest and decide how to move on. But she didn’t budge, so he glanced up to take a closer look.

“I’m Meret, by the way,” she extended her hand with a friendly smile. “From Utrecht.”

“Yeah … you do look like the little Dutch girl,” he muttered, but her smile was infectious as she flicked her thick blond braid over her shoulder, letting him finally give her a small grin and shaking her hand. “Christopher, from Pennsylvania, nice to meet you Meret. You’re hiking back down now? Where are the others?”

“Oh they’re going on another way. I want to take the bus from the top bus station back down. And not have to jump off a cliff out of boredom.”

“Cliffs of boredom? But the bus is the other way….,” maybe it was the lack of oxygen, but he was confused.

“I wanted to check on you, make sure you’re okay. My parents are very particular of us not hiking alone, it’s not safe. That’s why I had to go with my brother and his mates. All they talk about is computer games and football, why I’m so bored. Even the great scenery can’t compensate for having to listen to the seventieth re-hashed discussion of the Dutch ‘goal of the month’.”

“You really didn’t need to come back to check on me…” he was mortified.
What kind of a mess must he look like if she deemed it necessary to check on him, even though he was a total stranger?

“Oh, no problem. You’ve given yourself quite a challenge here, that’s great. It’s only easier if you don’t do it alone.” As she saw him open his mouth to protest again she quickly asked: “What do you normally talk about?”

“Not about computer games and football,” he smirked, his belly pushed even farther out as he inhaled, letting a wonderfully deep breath in. “I’m in the bakery and hotel business, so cooking, baking, eating, drinking, traveling are my issues … as you can see.”

“That’s fabulous. I study tourism management! I knew I’d find better topics of conversation down here with you. Come on; let’s go up the last few meters!” She took his hand and tried to pull him up, so he raised himself, shocked at how his knees buckled.

They started to climb further upward, she quizzing him about his job, the hotel, travel in the US until he stopped, panting like crazy, sweat pouring down his face, his calves almost dissolving: “Sorry Meret, I’m far too fat for this – the climb is such hell, I can’t talk while trying to do it.”

“Fine, catch your breath. Then I’ll tell you about me – listening should be okay.”

But it wasn’t. Her words couldn’t make it through the hot blood pounding in his ears as he tried in vain to get enough air. His body was about to give up any second, fall apart in a mass of blubber and sweat. With every step he had to push the tonnage of his gut up over his thighs, it slapping back down against them heavier and heavier with each step.

“Don’t stop now, just keep walking, don’t stop,” he suddenly heard Meret from like far away. “You’ve almost made it. Continue climbing, one very slow step after the other. Breathe deeply when you put your leg up. That’s good. Don’t stop. Next step. Next step over there. One more step. Next step.”

In painful, airless stupor he followed her directions, hauled his enormous weight further up the hill until Meret said: “One last step. Look up, you’ve made it!” grinning at him like crazy and clapping.

As he looked up, a gust of wind hit him and through bleary eyes he had an inkling of the vast panorama laid out before him. Sinking onto the small bench, he hung his head, only wishing to recover enough breath to survive. Meret in the mean time slid his back pack off, took out his windbreaker and pulled it on him. “You need this, you’ll catch cold in the wind with your wet polo shirt,” which was drenched with sweat. Then she handed him another water bottle.

After maybe 10 minutes, he had recovered enough to fully take in the breathtaking sight: Down below was the Rhone valley with it vineyards and picturesque ocher-tile roofed houses, to the East the snow covered Alps, the Massif Central to the West and in the far South there was the distant glint of the blue Mediterranean. A sky of crystal clear sky-blue arched of the incredible panorama.
He leaned back, exhaled deeply, letting his gut expand comfortably into his lap, a wave of giddy physical delight hitting him hard. A sense of achievement he had never experienced before surged through him – and happily demanding growling hunger.

Opening the insolated part of his back pack, he took out baguette sandwiches, some cheese, a few little deli salads and the small bottle of Cotes du Rhone. Meret stared in disbelief: “You’ve brought an entire delicatessen with you!”

“Well … this big guy needs his fuel to go the extra mile, as they say,” he gave her a very naughty grin as he slapped his belly several times, just for the jiggly fun of it. “There’s enough for you too. You deserve it, you’ve been a great help in letting me make it up here. You’ve earned yourself a free hotel room in the US should you ever come visit.” He uncorked the wine, poured it into his small glass and her thermos cup and raised it to a toast. “Chin-chin –to great wines and successful uphill endeavors!”

Smiling into the bright sun, sipping his wine with the world far below him, he understood the Monsieur in the tourist information – this felt like being a lot closer to whichever deities. And if he managed a hellish feat like this, hauling his vast weight up a mountain successfully, his confidence rose the he could achieve anything he really wanted.
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:17 AM   #28
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6

“6 more miles after our brunch – promise you’ll still bike them! Then you may come with us to eat now - I can hear your stomach growl ferociously. I don’t have more time now, otherwise no brunch or miss my plane.” Cara teasingly poked him in the belly, opening the clip buckles of her skates. “From what you said, that would bring you to the 120 miles you do per week. So be a good boy and promise you’ll do the extra 6 miles. It’s good for you if you’re no longer on a diet.”

“I promise I’ll do the extra 6 miles. I’ve been pretty successful in keeping up regular exercise lately. Now the restrooms are in the back – and we’ll meet up on the 1st floor outside deck – I’ve reserved a table there for us.”
Taking a few deeps breaths, he lumbered through the personnel only door to clean up a bit in the staff bathroom and put on a fresh polo shirt. After his successful mountain hike in Provence, he was convinced that being as active as possible was the best way for him to stay sane in every respect – despite the two major drawbacks this approach had. One was that he went through copious amounts of laundry since he sweated through so many t-shirts when getting going. The second was it fueled his already healthy appetite and hunger even more, so his stomach now was growling insistently and his only urge was to get something between his teeth, pouring down a small bottle of water was not enough.

Joining Cara and her photographer Jack Baines on the outside deck balcony of the bakery’s main café with the waiter in tow, he quickly had two table-top, stainless steel whatnots heaped with food along with a bottle of champagne, fresh fruit juices and an overflowing bread basket placed in front of them.

“Bon appétit Cara and Jack. I opted for the champagne breakfast version for us- hope that’s okay for you.”

“Wow, looks great – so many different things to taste and sample,” Cara’s smile was delighted. “They’re only two – but one is way too much for one person to eat….”

“Yeah, one whatnot is intended for two people,” he gave her a wicked grin, despite feeling his cheeks redden a bit. “But I’m two people – so I need a whole one for myself,” he pushed out his gut rubbing it with his stomach growling again in agreement. Then he dug in, starting with the salmon omelet seasoned with dill weed, piling some of it on a baguette spread with herb cream cheese and grilled zucchini and wolfing this down hungrily. Afterwards quickly moving on to the small bacon pancakes and miniature cheese strudels.

“Whoa… slow down, nobody is going to dare eat anything of yours,” a smooth hand was laid on his. “Are you okay, Christopher?” there was more concern than teasing in Cara’s voice.

Guiltily, he looked up and saw the major dent he had already made into his breakfast spread in comparison to the small amount missing from Cara and Jack’s whatnot. “I’m sorry, I was really hungry. I only had a yoghurt before going to meet up with you.” he muttered in embarrassment.

“But that looked pretty desperate. And it was way too fast. Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m honestly fine,” remembering how sincerely sympathetic Cara had been, seeing her skeptical expression now, she deserved an attempt at an explanation. “You were right last year – I was going about my diet in the wrong way, couldn’t handle it any more in the end. Tried to lose too much weight too fast with pills and such. So I got pretty sick, not only my back as I told you, but also a rather painful gastritis. As a left over from that period, I guess I still panic a bit when I’m really hungry, my stomach starts growling. It’s a sort of uncomfortable flash back, reminding me how much it used to hurt when I was hungry ….. It’s silly, I know –but I somehow can’t help it.”

“Events and experiences you find extremely uncomfortable can be truly traumatic, even if others might find it ridiculous,” Cara nodded thoughtfully. “But you seem to be in good shape again – are you at least being sensible and healthy about not dieting?”

“Yes ma’am. As best I can. You see I exercise very regularly, I try to stick to balanced meals … even though quality control always worked a lot better than quantity control.” He sighed a bit, taking a bite of turkey salad baguette. “Right now so much is going on in my life, I’m busy with so many new projects … I simply can’t face the diet issue. It’s a physical, emotional no go for me right now. I’m concentrating on feeling good, staying healthy and channeling my energy into projects that get me somewhere.” His voice had a defiant quality to it in the end.

“And I’m impressed with your projects. That beer garden down there is positively humming, even though it isn’t quite noon yet,” Cara smiled encouragingly, obviously willing to change the subject.

“Definitely. We should’ve done this years ago. The inner court yard behind the main bakery outlet was always deserted. Now I got a local micro-brewery as partner on board – and Maynard’s bakery and deli in cooperation show everything they know about fresh, quality and thus healthy fast food.” He couldn’t help beaming with pride as he overlooked the line of people waiting to get their sandwiches, salads, and small dishes from the grill. “I created a new bratwurst filling with lots of herbs … oh, and the biggest hit is the beer keg challenge.”

“A beer keg challenge?”

“Yes – you see we have a small selection of staple salads: green wonders, Mediterranean, potato and pasta. Then we have a salad of the week – like turkey-cauliflower, or asparagus or whatever. We have a license for the beer garden for 15 weeks. So if you come every week, eat the salad of the week, get a stamp in your beer keg challenge pass – then you get a free 2.5 gallon keg of beer at the end of the season. It’s ridiculously successful – so many people are participating, I’ve lost track. The brewery is moaning, they’ll have to give away too many beer kegs at the end of the season - but they can’t complain either. After all 9 out of 10 people have at least one beer with their salad. The investment in the set up of the beer garden already paid off after three weeks – not even in my wildest dreams had I imagined that…”

Suddenly he was distracted as he saw a large figure in white made its way to the beer booth – Marcus shaking his curly mop and unbuttoning his cook jacket. What was he doing here at this time of day – there was a big wedding anniversary in the hotel today?
“Cara, if you’ll excuse me – I need to check on something…”

Shuffling his girth down he from afar saw Marcus pour down a beer rapidly to wave for a second one. This was extremely unusual, since he was one of the young, professionally trained chefs who had been reared in the strict discipline of not drinking while working – the prevailing approach these days since too much alcohol on the job had often been the downfall of many a great chef and restaurant.

“Marcus, hi – what’s up? You’re here drinking beer? Not in the hotel kitchen? Is something wrong?”

Marcus eyed him wearily, poured down half of his second beer. “Paul.”

“What’s with Paul? You had some sort of argument with him?”

“Ummhuu. Over the ingredients for the menu – he wanted to use real caviar. And he told me my Pak choi roles with the pineapple-chili chutney were not classy enough for the starter plate… and I was unqualified … and too fat … and too slow…” Marcus downed the rest of the beer.

“F***, I thought you were doing okay – and Paul had his tantrums half way under control. Right now is high season until 4th July – this is awful timing for such rows,” he groaned. “What now? Paul can’t get by with one person less in the kitchen, especially not you. You’ve effectively done the restaurant kitchen management lately, don’t think I haven’t noticed. So how’s that supposed to work today with two big events?”

“Claire…” muffled by a deep sip of his third beer.

“Claire? Claire is the chef of the deli bistro now, no longer works for the hotel. Paul can’t simply ask her to come. She’ll overwork herself – and what about the work in the deli bistro? You shouldn’t allow that, you need to take better care of her, not let her do your work…”

“Don’t think I haven’t thought of that,” Marcus spat at him angrily. “You try to stop Claire from helping someone she cares about … you’ve profited often enough from that mania of hers! Paul called her behind my back, probably before he actually started the quarrel. She was already there before I could do anything. She insisted, said we could solve the problems another day, when the events were over….”

“Yeah, those are too important guests of ours today in the hotel. She’s probably right – and nobody knows how to keep Paul in line as she does. Even I have no means against that. So we’ll have to take care of that Monday.”

Seeing Marcus wanted to order another beer, he waved it off, signaled for a salad, a ham pretzel and a large apple cider-soda instead. “Getting wasted here and now is not a solution though. You’re going to have lunch here, then go home, get some rest, exercise or whatever – prepare something nice for Claire to compensate. Will you do that?”

After blinking at him and swallowing hard, Marcus nodded. “Yes sir. And thank you for not firing me.”

“Don’t be silly, you’re an excellent chef, no matter what Paul says. Actually you have more potential than he has. We’ll work this out,” clapping him on the back.

Returning to Jack and Cara, they were already in the middle of discussing the food and fashion photo shooting. “I so glad it’ll work out for this holiday season – especially as a 24 page spread. It’s a real treat to plan and shoot something like that.”

“Sorry we had to postpone that for a year – but last holiday season I was out of it, had no capacities for new food projects….” Slightly shuddering with inner dread as he thought of how awful he had felt towards the end of his diet.

“Actually, it was good we had to wait, sometimes that pays off. We have more budget now, better placement and three more top notch designers on board….”

“I can’t wait – making out with one of your gateau in a ball gown,” Cara giddily fidgeted on her chair.

Half-choking on a chocolate croissant, he looked at Jack Baines in surprise, who in turn went dark red and rubbed his nose, not looking at Cara. “Umm Cara … you know you’re my favorite model, I love working with you…”

“Yes?” Cara eyed him from the side.

“Well …. you know … Christopher and I’ve agreed … we’re not doing this shoot with models. We’re doing it with food professionals, actresses, women who have some personal relation to good food…”

“But I have a personal relation to good food – especially Christopher’s food – I love it!”

“Sure you do. That’s not the point – you’re mainly a professional model. You don’t convey the right look – high end modeling is not the look we’re going for…”

“Which look is it then?”

“As I said, we want food fans and professionals, who look the part, are convincing in their love of food, more voluptuous … you’re simply too much model, are too thin for this shoot. It wouldn’t look credible…”

Cara looked stunned and pulled her sunglasses over her eyes, squaring her jaw. “Fabulous, the first time I’ve ever been told I’m not too fat, a shoot I really care for – now I’m too thin.”

“It’s not so much you’re too thin – you’re too professional, too much model…” Jack tried to explain looking at him for support. He could imagine how awful she must feel – he had come to know the vice-versa situation all too well, being considered too fat for whatever, knowing there was little to be said in such a situation that was truly credible.

“Well, you can discuss the rest on your own – I’m out.” Cara got up, gave him a per functionary hug and one love handle a slightly vicious pinch. “Do your six miles, don’t eat a second whatnot and see you next month when I’m back in town.”
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:18 AM   #29
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Kicking off and getting going as well as breaking and stopping the bike were a challenge at his weight, but once he was literally rolling it was a most enjoyable form of exercise. The pedaling of his legs mobilizing his lower back muscles made his super-sized love handles role over ponderously increasing the bouncing and swaying of his huge gut against the thick steel bar. The regular movement of his heavy bulk, especially with his stomach comfortingly filled, not stuffed as it was now, had an enormously reassuring feel for him, as if he had limitless reservoirs of energy to tap into as long as he ate well and kept going.

On returning from France, he had immediately used the ego boost the trip had given him to see Brett Norton, the lawyer recommended by Mary Helen, to take care of clarifying his professional situation with Warren and the division of their business partnerships. After mandating Norton, he had regretted the decision at least a million times – it seemed so thoroughly wrong to communicate and negotiate business with Warren via an attorney. But once you have the lawyers in, things develop a dynamic of their own as he was to notice, turning it into an official legal conflict, no longer a business matter between two individuals.

Norton had suggested it might be meaningful to actually do a round-table talk on the division of the assets with Warren and his attorneys, since in his opinion Christopher’s offer for bakery and deli had been more than fair and reasonable. Only to then find out that he had trouble finding anyone to talk to on the Langdon side about the issue. Warren stoutly refused all communication, did not respond at all – and it was because Christopher knew the name of the law firm representing the Langdon group did they manage to have a point of contact at all. Somehow the Langdon attorneys must in the end have convinced Warren that he simply couldn’t ignore the issue endlessly, so he had given his financial representative power of authority to handle the deal.

Christopher knew if it hadn’t been for Brett Norton’s cool headed professional management, he would have back-tracked several times and let the whole affair rest, leave it in limbo until Warren signaled he was willing to deal with it. Yet in the end, he was relieved and even felt muted pride as he looked at the deeds confirming his personal ownership of the bakery and deli when Norton brought them over one sunny evening.

Sitting out on the terrace of the deli with a celebratory bottle of champagne and sea food tapas, he grinned: “Cheers, here’s to great further success of what is now 100% your business Christopher. Though I don’t have an instant of doubt that it’ll be hugely successful – the stuff you produce is just too damn tasty! Do you know I’ve actually gained 13 pounds since you walked into our firm? My wife has started stocking up our fridge with diet shakes. I understand a lot better now why you didn’t manage to stick to that diet.”

“Thank you Brett for making it possible,” he raised his glass, sincerely thankful for Norton’s work and also tact in handling the emotionally difficult situation with his issues with Warren and his weight. Mary Helen must have given him an excellent briefing because he had never made him go into uncomfortable details in explaining his case.
“Diets are not my thing, you’re right. Especially not if I have to do it under pressure. I’m honestly relieved, we’ve made it this far. I think being hugely successful with food is something I have the makings for,” he grimaced with a shake of his flab. “Now I can make my own decisions; develop new concepts for the bakery and deli… Have you tried our new beer garden?”

“Don’t get me going on that! At least six of these pounds are courtesy of your brat sausages with beer and the thick pretzels – obscenely good!” Norton slapped his minuscule hint of a pot belly and took a tuna and spinach role with another swig of champagne.

“Yeah, the success has been almost a bit overwhelming…”

“What we have not achieved though, you know that – is to solve the issue with the hotel. Langdon and his attorneys are still totally irresponsive regarding you buying the hotel or officially accepting your resignation as director of the ‘Langdon Residency’. We’ve discussed that, to make sure you’re on the safe side, you’ll file your resignation again with date and take your official farewell from the hotel immediately….”


Puffing up the hill, his calves and thighs lightly burning to move the combined weight of his body and the extra heavy duty bike up the slope this conversation and it’s follow up went into rewind in his head. Until this day he hadn’t manned up and actually left the hotel. His note of resignation was still in his locked top desk drawer, although no longer at the top of his daily pile of papers.
For the first 10 days after Norton had brought the signed contracts, he had printed out his resignation every day, dated and signed it to then start practicing his resignation speech for the hotel staff in front of the mirror. Calling his attempts a ‘speech’ might even be a tall order – he never got any further than sentence five before his voice cracked or he had to close his eyes with emotion. Then he’d always had to have a big breakfast or lunch to calm down, tore up the notice and told himself he’d definitely summon the courage to get it over with tomorrow.

As a consequence of the change in ownership of the deli and deli bistro, all the job contracts of the employees had to be redone, since it no longer was an extension to the hotel. Brett Norton found a silky smooth legal way of formulating this in writing to raise no suspicion. So he threw a small party for everyone to celebrate the first year anniversary of the deli bistro and handed out the new contracts with a small humorous statement. Nobody seemed to think much of it – all employees were reassured that they would keep their jobs and him as a boss, so there was little interest in the legal details.

Naturally his fearful premonition that Claire might smell the rat, figuratively speaking, did hold true – she tended to see through such maneuvers. Marcus had once said he couldn’t even hide being upset about something as menial as a speeding ticket from her.
The next morning she was in his hotel office with her new, improved contract including a considerable pay rise and a commission bonus with worry written all over her face: “Christopher, please be honest with me – does this change in contract mean you’re leaving the Langdon group? Have you and Warren broken up? Does it have something to do with the fact that you’ve given up on the diet for months now?”

His face flamed as he looked down on the full curve of his stomach not able to meet her eye. “Hmmm … well … it’s just, a legal requirement … well ….”

“Christopher, please! Tell me the truth!”

Looking into those sincere dark blue eyes of hers, he couldn’t reiterate the well practiced legal phrasing Norton had prepared for him. Not to Claire, not after everything she’d always done for him. “Yeah, that’s more or less it. I’ve bought out Warren’s shares in the bakery and deli, am now sole owner. So if you’re okay with it, I’m your one and only boss now in the deli bistro.”

“You’ve always been my only real, favorite boss – you know that,” Claire said softly, leaning against him stroking his cheek. “Poor Christopher, dividing up the business must’ve been hard for you – I know you and Langdon had more than a CEO – senior executive relationship. At least you’re no longer torturing yourself with that awful diet. What about the hotel? Did Langdon fire you?”

Her knack for asking the really uncomfortable questions was daunting. “No – nor have I officially resigned to date. That is all still up to negotiating – outcome open. But please, this is confidential, only between you and me.
Don’t tell anyone, not even Marcus – promise, okay?”

“Of course I promise, you know you can trust me. Well, we’ll wait and see what happens, then. If they’re some new developments – I’d be grateful if you’d inform me, you know, because of Marcus… After all, he has a contract with the hotel ….”


Being honest about his situation with Claire somehow unburdened him, making him decide to really wait and see what happened. If Warren wanted him to leave the Langdon Residency, he’d have to kick him out, do the dirty work of telling the staff himself. He wanted to stay in the hotel, buy it – and he asked Norton, how to go about this, who only groaned. “Langdon and you are both nut cases. You and your hotels belong together, so sit down, talk everything over – even though I can see the non-communication is not your fault. This dividing everything up is absurd. There is no certain way for you to keep running the Langdon Residency without risking liability issues under the present circumstances. And I have no precedents to offer for such a bizarre case, so it could go anywhere.”

In the end, Norton suggested the arrangement of him signing on better, very expensive professional liability insurance coverage and having his hotel salary paid to a trustee account, in case that was ever contested. Since the bakery and deli were doing so well, now were fully his assets and the loans he had to service were not too crushing, he paid himself the salary he needed for running his life and apartment from their revenue instead, thankful he was independent enough to do so.

Although this objectively solved nothing, there still was the uncomfortable radio silence with the Langdon headquarters, it somehow put lock and key on the issue for him and freed him look ahead, make plans and work hard on advancing ‘his’ business. The most recent developments with the beer garden, a new bakery summer outlet down by the river showed the best prospects and inspired him to look about for other ways to generate more business. The word ‘diet’ had been transferred to his personal taboo list, but he tried hard to eat well, stick to only three meals a day, giving into the temptations of 5 meals only once or twice a week after having rescheduled their restaurant and bakery planning cycle.
Being out in the open, with lots of fresh air, helped clear his head, so pedaling towards the market puffing lightly, a fresh breeze on his hot cheeks, his belly swaying and bouncing rhythmically made him feel calm and content, despite the humidity and the looming dark clouds.

Lately he had even had the nerve to take a second look at an interesting woman, which he took as a very good sign for his own well-being. Charlene Mintner was the new creative director of one of the event planning agencies they worked with: Not only was she truly creative, but also a lively red-head with abundant curls and promising curves. Her backside was maybe not as spectacular as the one he was ogling right now on reaching the market, distracting him for a second so he didn’t see the small curb letting him almost bump into the appealing rear and come crashing down with his bike.

With much luck he managed to catch his fall, land with both feet on the ground, the bike only hitting the inside of his thighs hard in falling. “Ouch … shit, shit, shit… ouch!”

“Excuse me, are you hurt? … Oh, Christopher … why hello … how are you, are you hurt?” On turning the spectacular backside proved to be attached to Stephanie, who blushed crimson yet stretched out a hand to help him steady himself with the bike. “Are you okay? Did you hurt yourself?”

“No, I’m fine. Probably just a bruise. How are you Stephanie?” He felt his own face flame too, and his defenses go up. As much as her visuals in a fitted black jeans dress still instantly turned him on, remembering his last encounters with her put him on his guard and unwillingly brace himself for another mental slap in the face. After her non-sequitur at the cheese tasting, she had sent him a formulaic e-mail apology but he had been too put off by her erratic behavior to respond.

“Fine, thank you,” followed by an awkward silence. “You look really good, healthy, full of energy,” she finally said.

“Yeah, I feel fine – it’s been a good summer so far.” Another uncomfortable pause followed.

“I didn’t know you biked. That’s very good for you.”

“N… a friend of mine from France found this model for me. I thought I was too heavy to bike for many years. But this is a Flemish postal service bike – it carries up to 350 kilograms. So I’ll be fine with it for quite a while,” patting his belly reassuringly,” despite having undone some of my so-called diet success again.” He grinned at her, half provocatively, half insecurely.

“Great bike for you, really.” More silence fell between them.

“Well, good seeing you … looks like it’ll start raining soon, I need to do my shopping.., bye.”

“Yeah, nice seeing you too….” He had already turned to find a spot to lock up his bike as he heard Stephanie say in a small voice: “Christopher, I’m so sorry. I behaved like an absolute idiot the last times with you. I can’t tell you how sorry I am.”

“It’s okay, forget about it. It’s fine, things like that can happen,” he sighed, hoping she’d let it rest.

“No, my behavior was personally and professionally impossible, I’m so sorry. I let some of my own issues out on you, you didn’t deserve that…”

“Stephanie, don’t worry. It’s over and done with. My own behavior could’ve been better, too.” He turned to his bike again, fiddled with the lock.

“It’s truly so good to see you so active and healthy again. When Claire came for you file, telling me how sick you were – I felt so guilty! I knew I should’ve helped you …. but I was so afraid of going through everything again…. You were so nice then to invite me to the great cheese tasting and I freaked… I’m so sorry…”

“As I said, it’s okay. Forget it. You don’t need to apologize again.”

“But I’d like you to understand, be able to accept my apology,” she looked at him with such anguish in her eyes he halted and nodded slowly at her. With a small relieved smile, she continued: “I’m not totally crazy. It’s just … with Timmy’s death … yeah; many things still aren’t back to normal for me. At the cheese tasting, such a nice event. And when everybody said I was your plus1 – it felt like a sort of date. I’ve never been on a date before… I suddenly realized I didn’t know what to do, how to handle the situation ..…”

“You’d never been on a date before?” he stared at her in disbelief, this being the most unexpected explanation. “Ummm …. but you were married…. And it wasn’t that much of a date ….“

“Still, I’d never been on a real date … there never was anybody else in my life except Timmy. I’d known him for as long as I could think. Sure, in high school, we officially dated. But it never felt like dating. It was just Timmy and me doing something together. When we were five, we went to the playground and for ice cream at the corner shop together. At fifteen, it was movies and burger place. And at twenty-five it was engagement party and wedding chapel. What it was called didn’t matter. It simply stayed Timmy and me together….,” she looked at him sadly, shrugging her shoulders. “So I’m still in the process of figuring out how to do things on my own … or maybe with somebody else.”
With another deep breath she half turned: “Well, as I said, I’m really sorry I let it out on you. Good seeing you, have a nice weekend.”

As she started to walk off, looking so small and vulnerable, despite her shapely buttocks dancing in rhythm under her dress, he could almost feel a small crack in his resentment open. “Stephanie, wait! What are you doing today?”

“Um … today? Nothing … why?” she looked puzzled.

“Well, since a thunderstorm is coming, I planned to do a cooking experimental afternoon with Moroccan tajines – try a little bit of fusion there. Just need to finish shopping for ingredients here, you know I live around the corner – would you like to join me? Shall we cook together? I remember that one Saturday we did that as the best day of my diet…,” he felt himself redden again, but smiled at her openly.

She looked at him in surprise before she smiled too: “Sounds like a very nice idea. Thank you for another great invitation, I owe you a lot.”

After quickly buying his list of ingredients the first thunder was rolling by the time they left the market and it was pouring when they reached his front door, both of them soaking wet. In a fleeting moment of embarrassment he became aware how the wet t-shirt look must bring out every single one of his roles and bulges while Stephanie’s soaked jeans dress outlining her pointed nipples and curvy hips was definitely more in the steamy dream department.

“Sorry Christopher, but I’m soaked. I guess we’ll have to postpone the cooking. I need to get back to my car, drive home and change.”

“Where did you park your car?”

“On the other side of the market – almost at the old shopping center.”

“That’s a twenty minute walk from here; you’ll be wetter than wet by the time you get there. And calling a cab is useless. In this rain and area it’ll take over half an hour before they get here. You can dry up in my apartment – and I can assure you one of my shirts is as good as three dresses on you…,” he teasingly plucked at his clinging huge polo.

Settling a stammering and blushing Stephanie in the guest bathroom with an assortment of towels and shirts he quickly showered, changed and was already in the kitchen with a hot coffee ready as she joined him. She looked incredibly cute in one of his tent like black-and-white pin stripe button downs she had opted for, tightly belted under her breasts and knotted at the hips to make the fabric masses manageable and outline her shapely plumpness.

“Wow, I never knew one of my shirts could look so good and stylish…,” he involuntarily felt his face grow hot as he handed her the coffee.

“Thanks. It’s a really nice shirt. Fabric feels great – and it’s cozy to wrap myself up in it..,” she blushed too, looking at him uneasily.

Then they set to work with the various tajine dishes, making one with only vegetables, one with sea food, one with chicken and one with lamb. Working so closely next to Stephanie left him conflicted. On one hand, her warm closeness, the smell of her hair, her naughty little laugh, alone of her physical presence led to automatic physical responses of his body he had a hard time controlling, wanting to forget himself, move in closer, touch her, kiss her…. On the other hand, his most recent experiences with her left him tense, expecting some irrational behavior any minute or wondering what she might think of having his again notably fatter belly so close to her, whether that disgusted her or made her view him with disdain for being so unable to control his diet…

As their dishes were in the oven, he suggested to ease the tension: “How about an aperitif – a summery Italian Apérol drink, with Prosecco and fresh orange juice?”

“Never had it before, would love to taste it.”

Handing her the glass, his stomach growled demandingly, reminding him that he had been suppressing hunger for some time already. “Would it be okay if I made us some hors d’oeuvres while we wait for the tajines to bake?”

“Great idea, you sound hungry – and I am too. You did a very good job in not snacking while preparing the food.”

Oh shit no, please no diet talk, he prayed inwardly, feeling himself flush very disagreeably. “Well … yeah … I try to eat only at meals …. be sensible … well … not very successful … food too good … as you can see…,” he stammered before hiding his head in the refrigerator to take out various things.

“Christopher, I’m not here as your nutritionist. I didn’t want to start any diet talk. All I tried was to … well … somehow … let you know that what you’re doing is okay. After all, we’re here to cook and eat together, aren’t we?” She drained her cocktail. “This stuff is awfully addictive…”

“And it’s on the light and healthy side, since it’s only made with wine and bitter, no hard liquor,” he gave her a relieved smirk, handing her a second drink before quickly fixing the first bites to eat.

Food and drink quickly smoothed out the awkwardness in their interaction. It’s easier to bridge a silence in chewing and swallowing, indulging in the flavors and textures of the food tickling tongue and palate. He could feel himself relax as the warmth of wine and the tajines filled his stomach, cherishing the gentle swelling of his vast paunch as it was filled with serious quantities of food. Smiling over to Stephanie, who seemed to be indulging herself too by taking another very full serving spoon of the lamb tajine and looked ravishing as one button of his shirt had undone itself to show off more of the full curve of her breasts, as he was telling her about how he had had the idea for the beer garden and its success.

“Oh, I’ve heard it’s great. Jason and his college mates are totally crazy about it. Of course they’re all working on your beer keg challenge,” she laughed. “As a nutritionist I highly approve you linked the beer keg to salad consumption – even the FDA would support that.”

“I find it very unjust that salads get such bad rep as being seen mainly as diet food. They’re fresh, offer fabulous options for very tasty combinations. It’s unfair to denounce them as ‘health food’ aka boring, tasteless, disliked and such,” sending Stephanie choking with laughter and making his belly flab jiggle most delightfully as he had to chime in.

As Stephanie insisted on helping him clear the kitchen, she entertained him with stories from accompanying her grandmother to Florida because she had decided she now was ‘old’ and should have a secondary home in some senior citizen resort. “Some of the things that go on there are really sad, like people who are dying all alone, whose family has fallen apart and no one comes. Others, like the odd dating rituals with one man for every five women are simply hilarious.”

“What’s wrong with one man and five women – sounds like a good ratio…”

“Okay, now you owe me a $ 5 fine for the chauvinist remark of the day,” she grinned, slapping him with a dish towel. “Thankfully my grandmother decided that she couldn’t stand being around ‘old’ people all day. Jason and I were tremendously relieved; we’d miss her so much…”

“You’re really close to her, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, always have been. Somehow, I don’t know why, she’s always been much more important to us than our parents. But you know the special connect between grandparents and -children – we definitely have that.”

Returning to the living room with coffee, Stephanie suddenly sighed. “You’re such a nice guy when you’re well fed,” patting the side of his belly triggering some pronounced jiggles. “I wish … well … we’d met under different circumstances … things hadn’t gone so wrong … are so complicated. That we could’ve just been friends…”

“Friends … yeah, that would’ve been better… could we still be friends?”
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:19 AM   #30
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504

504 …. the reading on his scale showed, involuntarily making a pleasant warmth start to crawl through his body as he patted the farthest point of his bulging belly, hunger in combination with a greedy appetite surfacing. Stepping down from the scale he bounced a bit on the balls of his feet, setting the hundreds of pounds of his belly mass off into long stretched, tumultuous vibrations almost knocking him off his feet and sending shock waves of arousal to his nether parts; so bad he had to give himself a quick squeeze to calm down. He was running late -and he absolutely did not want to have to reflect on why the discovery he had eaten his way back over 500 pounds led to such violent outbursts of auto-eroticism.

Quickly he waddled bare foot into the kitchen and made himself a 6 double-waffle batch with Stephanie’s good healthy recipe, topped with fresh strawberries and the deli’s vanilla yoghurt cream to enjoyably devour them on the balcony with coffee. The feeling of deep physical contentment surfaced again as he tenderly fondled the light puff the waffles had made in his upper belly, closing his eyes to fully concentrate on the gentle quivers.

Dressing for his business meetings in the sleek dark gray suit he had bought for last year’s 4th July, he saw with fascination how tight it had gotten: The waist band was strained and trapped between two roles, one bulging thickly over the top, underneath it the zipper struggled tautly over the spherical roundness of his lower belly. Slapping this lower belly curve quite hard, the again resulting ripples and waves renewed the feelings of lusty pleasure. Buttoning the suit coat only worked with the top two buttons, but this brought out the dimensions of his girth very convincingly.

Pushing this girth through the park on the sunny morning, feeling its weight roll and sway taking the longer path in the shade to not get too hot increased the sense of physical over alertness that had hit him. The rustle of the leaves in the slight breeze, the quacking quarrel between two ducks on the small lake, the warm rays of sunshine making their way through the trees and the distant sound of a police car reached his senses in amplification completing the picture of complacent normality that his mind set had gradually returned to. After having spent yesterday in his new office at the bakery, he genuinely looked forward to going to the hotel again today with the tasks, meetings and people awaiting him there.

Heeding Brett Norton’s warning and to avoid the unpleasant surprise of being ‘office less’ should Warren kick him out of his hotel office one day after all, he had set up a nice new one for himself above the bakery. It had mentally and psychologically made dividing the two businesses a lot easier – and designing and furnishing the new office without having to stick to the style of the Langdon hotels had been fun and inspiring. Through Stephanie’s contacts – her uncle had a small building company – he found a great young carpenter to custom make some furniture to comfortably fit his size. It had been an exhilarating experience to be able to settle his massive body on an office chair that served it like a throne, increasing his sense of empowerment. The preceding negotiations with the carpenter – a gruff, very quiet, hefty young giant – had been on the bizarre side, since he seemed much more embarrassed by Christopher’s size than he himself was. The carpenter had been extremely squeamish in measuring the width of his mega ass or the depth of his bulk and had fussed around endlessly with the statics of the chairs before finally almost choking in admitting that he’d have to insert some steel trusses and brackets because of his weight. The result was fantastic –and he personally didn’t care which and how much material was needed, as long as it supported him safely and comfortably.


“Good morning Christopher, what a beautiful sunny day. You look very good and full satisfied.”

“Yes, it’s wonderful today – and full satisfied describes how I feel perfectly. As always, you look blonde and lovely Meret,” he smiled at her, amused at how her not 100% idiomatic English often nailed the essence better than correct wording would.

“Good news – VikingTours has reserved for 2 more weeks of the Revolutionary America package – so we’re booked out for those weeks too!”

“Fantastic job!”

“Here’s your mail Christopher,” Tricia handed him a pack. “I’ll come up with you right away with the booking overview – if that’s okay. We need a few decisions on cancelling booking options.”

In the elevator, he rested his belly on the hand rail as usual after turning the private key.

“Meret is an absolute jewel,” Tricia enthused uncharacteristically. “I’m glad you forced me to take her on as an intern – she’s still studying but has more knowledge and talent with guest management than anybody else I’ve ever seen on the job.”

“See – I told you she’d be perfect. I immediately noticed she really knows how to bring out the best in people.”

“You were right, sorry I doubted your judgment. It was just a bit odd you insisted on giving one of our tremendously sought after summer internships to some random Dutch girl you’d met on a hike in France. And thank god the continental academic year doesn’t start until end of September. Can’t you get her to stay on, so we can fire Walter?”

“Even if I could, I wouldn’t do that – she has to finish her diploma first. She’ll get it next April – and you can be assured I’m offering her the job here immediately.”

Over a cup of coffee he discussed the booking with Tricia, then went through the regular and e-mail before opening the folder he had brought along with a deep breath. Inside was his bid for renting out the two big store fronts on the street-side ground floor of the ‘Langdon Imperial Residency’ for opening an outlet of Maynard’s bakery and deli bistro. The idea was not new: he had wanted it for the bakery even before his diet - and for the deli bistro last fall – because he saw that the concept of luxury boutiques and jewelers no longer worked well in the troubled economy.

Warren had had a succession of unsuccessful tenants yet continued stating a store that sold anything eatable did not match the standard of a truly first class hotel and would only take business from the hotel restaurant. He agreed with Warren that any store on the hotel’s premises had to be truly first class – but it was perfectly okay if it sold first class food. And his experiences showed that it did not take business away from the restaurant – on the contrary, it generated more business. It kept people who would normally go out to smaller restaurants, fast food joints or shops to buy a small, quick and cheaper bite to eat at the hotel. Why go out for a sandwich if you could buy one from the best bakery in town in the hotel building? Or get one of the tastiest salads to go?

While they were on speaking terms, he had never managed to convince Warren of this model. Now he had heard through the grape vine that Warren was desperately looking for longer term solvent tenants to set up business in the store fronts of the ‘Imperial’, so he had written an – in his and Brett Norton’s opinion – excellent proposal: To make up for the investments necessary, he proposed a share in profits instead of a high monthly rent payment. The papers had been finalized for quite some time – and today, looking through them one more time, he was confident enough that it was worth a try.

Taking a last sip of coffee he with a flourish signed the papers and put them in the envelope, realizing in surprise that the subconsciously calming wobbling of his belly flab was the result of his inadvertently tapping his left heel while he had been reading. To make the most of his momentary assertiveness high, he quickly threw the envelope in the old mail slide to make sure it was actually sent off, not leaving it sitting for even longer than he already had. Maybe the business approach was a good way of getting back in contact with Warren.

Even though he was far from hungry, a wicked, insistent tingle of appetite started tickling him, like a little itch at the rear of his palate, where it merged into his throat, making him salivate. It urgently begged to be satisfied with the flavor and texture of delicious food, the reassuring motions of biting, chewing, sucking and swallowing. Looking at his office clock, it was already 10:40, time to go down to the restaurant kitchen for their sample tasting – the perfect way of appeasing that rearing appetite.


Coming to the kitchen, everything was ready; everybody was waiting for him, only Paul was nowhere to be seen. “Where is the chef himself?”

“He called and said he’d cook his samples at home and bring them along…,” Marcus responded.

“Well, then he should be here by now … it’s 10:45 and I only have until 12:00. He knows that.” After taking off his coat and tie, rolling up his sleeves and wrapping his over sized apron around himself, he said: “Okay, let’s get started. Marcus, please explain what you have planned so far for this week.”

“Since it’s really summery and warm, I opted for classical dishes of summer cuisine – in part with a new interpretation. Two chilled soups – Spanish Gazpacho with grilled shrimp and French Vichyssoise in a lighter version with a touch of cilantro and yoghurt.”

Tasting both soups, he asked for a round of comments from the other members of the kitchen equipe before saying anything, because this brought out more honest and diverse results. “Okay, I’m fully convinced of this version of the Vichyssoise, great mix. As some others have pointed out, the shrimp with the Gazpacho is okay, but not perfect. How about either rosemary breadsticks wrapped in Jámon Iberico or little Manchego crisps – I can give you a recipe – to go with the Gazpacho, depending on whether guests want meat or not?”

“Sure, I can see that tasting good and being popular. I had opted for the shrimp because now in summer I wanted the fancier main courses to center on fish and sea food, like the classic Lobster Thérmidor as prime offer. People tend to prefer that to meat cuisine in summer.”

“I totally agree. To make use of the idea of grilled shrimp – how about offering them as an appetizer? Like as grilled shrimp kebabs with basil mayonnaise foam on iced cherry tomato salad? Shall we try making that right now?”

They had already gone through all menu options, were about to start on the desserts when the door opened and Paul came in, followed by what had to be a cab driver who hauled in some kitchen Styrofoam boxes.

“Paul, it’s already 11:40 – you’re an hour late. You know my time is limited today to 12:00. What’s in the boxes?”

“The boxes contain the menu samples for the coming week.”

“I’m sorry; we’re more or less done with selecting the menu. I don’t have the time to start over. It would’ve been easier if you had prepared your samples here in the kitchen.”

“Correct me if I’m wrong – I am the chef here. Isn’t it my job to decide on the menu of the week?”

“Of course you’re the chef and you decide on the menu. But you offered no suggestions at the scheduled time. Why didn’t you prepare them here, I don’t understand that? This is not your private restaurant, but part of the hotel. Your menus and planning have to fit into the demands and budgeting of the hotel’s bookings, you know that.”

“Well, how am I supposed to be creative, cook haute cuisine in this cramped place? Whenever I turn, I bump into the big fat gut of my sous-chef! With Claire it was so different…”

“I think you owe Marcus an apology,” he observed, folding his hands protectively over his own protuberance, seeing Marcus had turned red with mortification, sucked in his gut and visibly shrunk.

“Why did you take Claire from me? I can’t cook top cuisine without the support I need! Haute cuisine is about the art of the preparation, the perfection of the presentation – not about actually eating it, wolfing it down until you’re too fat to fit in the kitchen…”

Taking a deep breath to stay calm, he wanted to try and keep this argument on the professional level: “Paul, I have a different approach. You knew that when you signed on here and you’ve been working with it well. Yes, haute cuisine is about preparation and presentation, doing the utmost justice to the ingredients. But it’s also about savoring the excellent food, letting it create a joined experience of pleasure, improving the communicative environment of the likeminded you share it with. Cooking and eating should be holistic, shared events. In my humble opinion applying this philosophy has made this kitchen and restaurant so successful.” Before Paul could get a word in, he finished. “I promoted Claire to the deli because of the excellent work she was doing here. She deserved to reap her own laurels, be more than the back up for yours.”

“Claire belongs here, belongs to me! She was only deluded by the atmosphere here! You don’t do haute cuisine to get hugely fat! Haute cuisine is about denying yourself the pleasure for the sake of the art! Claire needed more time, more training with me to learn and understand that! It isn’t normal, professional to eat all the food, turn into a lard balloon! She just didn’t see that because you’re the boss. And now that fat f*** here has ensnared her, is ruining my kitchen with his simplistic gluttony cuisine…,” shooting Marcus, who looked like he was about the crumble a glance so full of hate he was truly shocked.

“Paul – enough!” Other hot words bumbled to his mouth, but he easily swallowed them. As insulting as Paul’s rant was, it didn’t get to him – it so far had been such an inspirational, positive day. He could stay detached; see it for what it was: An unmasked outburst of pure jealousy for his superior position and Marcus’ happy relationship with Claire – things that clearly didn’t fit into Paul’s world view of the adequate place for fat guys in life.

“I can’t work with this incompetent personal any longer! I’m resigning if he doesn’t go! I have so many offers; maybe even an investor for a restaurant of my own!”

“How wonderful for you, Paul,” he stated. “Since I don’t intend to fire Marcus, I accept your resignation. Good luck with your own restaurant; there you can live out your cuisine philosophy!”


As he entered the deli bistro for his meeting with Charlene, Claire was waiting for him at the entrance. “Christopher, I heard what happened in the kitchen. Paul is definitely leaving?”

“Yeah, I’m accepting his resignation, even though he just tried to back track. But since there were so many witnesses’ it saves me the pain of firing him,” he sighed. “It’s not great timing, but over all it’s the best and overdue solution. His talents don’t make up for his deficits any longer – and his lashing out at Marcus and me today was an absolute no go. Using you as a pretext was even worse.”

“What are you going to do now?”

“Well – if I knew you’re interested, I’d offer you the job – but somehow I get the sense that you’d turn it down…”

“You’re right – and pretty observant for a guy, if I may say so. I don’t want it.”

“Because of Marcus? Do you want to give him a better chance?”

“Actually no, that’s not the reason. I truly love being chef here of the deli and deli-bistro. Top notch regular cuisine actually is more my thing than 5* restaurant haute cuisine, I’ve found that out. I have so many more options to be creative here, like matching the food with design or event themes, doing special catering packages. Thank you for giving me all this freedom, responsibility and trust …. you’re such a good boss. That’s another reason by the way – I prefer a contract with you to one with the Langdon group where I don’t know how things will develop…”

He was touched and bent down to give her a soft kiss on the forehead. “I don’t know how I deserve you – thank you so much. We’ll figure something out for the restaurant, also to make the most of Marcus’ talents, don’t worry.”

Claire turned very pink with pleasure and smiled shyly. “Charlene Mintner is already waiting for you; I set up your table on the rear terrace to the park, a little secluded behind the flower pots so you’ll have peace and quiet to work. Go around through the outside passage, that’s easier than this packed seating we need to half-way meet demand,” acknowledging that his bulk would have trouble squeezing through some of the aisles.

Reaching the table, Charlene was already nibbling on an assortment of bread and vegetable sticks with creamy dips. “Lovely seeing you Charlene – sorry I don’t have much time today. But you insisted you wanted to show me some new event concepts as soon as possible…”

“Thank you for taking the time out of a busy day..” as Claire arrived with 2 small casseroles, setting them in front of them: “Today’s special – baked fennel stuffed with spinach, tomato, ricotta and goat’s cheese. Charlene asked me to decide for both of you. I hope you like it, bon appétit!”

“Claire thank you, I don’t need it. We’ve just done the sampling … and I have an official business lunch in an hour….”

“Oh, but I want you to taste this new combination …I’d like your opinion on it. And you’ve certainly got some room for this little dish to fit!” she playfully undid the straining top button of his suit coat and fondled his belly, making him redden: “Okay, a small bite. Looks like it’s indulgence day today…”

Naturally he finished the whole dish – alone to stop ogling Charlene’s very appetizing cleavage while she explained to him her idea of the deli catering for some their special wedding events, a new service of theirs. The concepts sounded quite promising; he’d have to look at them in detail with Claire. “Oh, I just got the message my lunch meeting is half an hour late. May I treat you to coffee and a little delicacy from the bakery?”

“Those delicacies from your bakery are my downfall – they’re way too good!” Charlene rolled her eyes and twirled a coppery curl. “Do you know that I’ve gone up two cups sizes and three inches in my waist since I’ve moved here?”

“I didn’t know that – but all I can say is I highly approve of the results I can see,” he gave her breasts threatening to bust a pressured button on her dress a rakish smile. “We only make best quality, finest ingredients, many of them organic… they’re good for you.”

“Way, way, way too good! Every morning I tell myself that I’ll resist, not go get a croissant, or a pain au chocolate or a pumpkin seed role with ham and cheese … but mostly I do. Even if I don’t succumb in the morning, I’ll cave in at lunch with a quiche, or a baguette or an éclair… or … where’s that supposed to end?”

“Admittedly – it can end with many more inches around your waistline if you spend your life around our bakery,” he smirked, outlining his expanse with two fingers, using the opportunity to loosen the tight waist band of his pants.

“An impressive number of inches, indeed.” Charlene eyed his super-sized middle with a friendly grin. “But you really wear them well … like they’re comfortable where they’ve settled…”

“If you’d like to get more of an insight into our bakery, I’d be happy to give you a tour some day. Maybe cook you a special dinner afterwards. Would you be interested?”

“Sounds fabulous, that’ll add at least another inch to my waistline,” she winked at him. “Name the day when it would be convenient for you in the bakery – and I’ll see that I fit it in.”

“So which delicacy can I treat you to right now?”

“My current summer favorite is your new Cherry Cosmopolitan gateau…”
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:20 AM   #31
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Despite the incident with Paul, he was in his very best, well-fed, expansively confident mood on seeing Charlene off and going to his official lunch meeting with the representatives of several Asian Tour operators. As he greeted them, standing in front of them in his full height, width and depth, he could notice them staring at his size in disbelief – but that was understandable given the contrast since hardly any of them even reached his shoulder.

After the polite introductions as they were seated at the table, Marcus – calmer, more confident and professional than he had feared – explained the menu around the theme of traditional American cooking with a vegetable, fish and meat course with some Asian touches to it.

During the first three courses, everybody mainly ate and only made polite small talk, which was somewhat inhibited by having to use the interpreters because over half the representatives were not comfortable in using English. For dessert – knowing from experience with Asian delegations that their tastes and habits with sweets varied strongly – there were mixed platters with tasting spoon size servings of their best seasonal creations, mainly on the fruity side which he explained himself.

Before and during dessert was the accepted time to talk about business again, so he had to concentrate on the numbers, a bit difficult because of the interpreting, while absentmindedly spooning down some of the dessert. By now he was seriously full; after all it was already his fourth meal of the day, his waistband biting into him and his pants pinching his lower belly and thighs viciously. To be more comfortable and better able to concentrate, he leaned back in his broad chair, spread his thick thighs further so his oversized belly pillow could sink more relaxed between them and folded his hands over the bloated sphere of his upper belly, registering with naughty delight that the thick roles on his sides once more pushed his inflated upper arms into the perfect angle for this set up. With his interlocked thumbs he unwittingly rubbed small circles into the stretched flesh under his shirt, a trick which helped him focus on the sums, rebates and guest numbers thrown over the table. Catching one shocked glance from who had to be the young assistant of one of the reps, he momentarily became aware that he must strongly resemble a huge whale in this posture.

Then the meeting was over surprisingly soon and he could confirm a whole set of bookings for the coming 18 months at rates that were pleasantly above the maximum rebate with a handshake.

“Very smart of you to pull the Buddha stint in the negotiation of the rates,” the most senior interpreter, a wiry man around 60 told him with a Scottish accent. “They’ve agreed to 15% to 22% more than your two competitors here offered – and it really speeded up the process.”

“We’re 25% and 35% better than they are, so it’s still a good deal for them. What do you mean by Buddha stint?”

The interpreter smirked: “If you’ll forgive me for saying so, your corpulence is outstanding. Asian people are on the small side, mostly naturally slim and the social norm requires them to stay that way. Ironically their iconic figures like Buddhas or Sumo wrestlers often are rotund men, maybe because they have a surreal quality in comparison to the average person there. In so openly presenting your massive physicality, their traditional imbibed respect for this figurative type was triggered. Very successfully for you, as you see.”

Bemused, he looked after the group and lightly shook his belly murmuring: “Unbelievable, I always told Warren outstanding corpulence was good for business,” as Marcus came in.

“Claire said you wanted to talk to me?”

“Yes, I’d like to know your opinion on how we should continue with the restaurant. Are you interested in the position of chef?”

“Do you think I’m ready to be chef?”

Sensing the sincerity of the question, he shrugged: “To be honest, I think you’d profit from maybe a year or so more experience. On the other hand you’re so good already that I don’t want you suffering under maybe some idiot who’s got nothing except some years on you – so I’d be willing to give it a try.” – completely blending out that he normally needed to talk to Warren about so major a decision.

“It’s okay you’re honest – I actually see myself exactly as you do. My personal career plan was to work another year here, then ideally go abroad for a year or two and afterwards come back for a real advanced chef position.”

“Sounds like a very well thought out plan. I’d like to keep you on, with some perspective for more development, also because I don’t want to be murdered by Claire or lose her too. I’ll think of a plan giving you those opportunities and more responsibilities without the full position yet – is that ok?”

“Thank you, that sounds perfect. You’re doing so much for Claire and me…,” but he waved Marcus’ gratitude off and turned to go down to the bakery.

Although he was stuffed, his belly pushed heavily in front of him and he had to take deep puffs when moving, he wasn’t satiated yet. The burning tickle at the end of his palate was still there, demanding perpetual oral gratification now in the guise of a bad pastry craving. After all he’d only had a few bites of the fruity desserts, no cake, gateau or cookies yet – and it was as good as tea time now. Hadn’t he determined it was indulgence day, especially after the last successful deal?

Studying the spread of Maynard’s patisserie, rubbing his expectantly gurgling stomach, he opted for the Cherry Cosmopolitan gateau Charlene had chosen, his favorite new post diet creation of a caramel crocante millefeuille, the summery frozen chocolate gateau and a blueberry tartlet. Armed with these treats in their pretty paper box, he heaved his way up the three flights from the bakery to the service elevator which went up to his office floor, panting all the way because he was so full and felt the weight.

Fixing himself a pot of his current favorite white tea, he arranged the pastries on a platter together with patisserie cutlery and set it on his desk. With a sigh of relief, he took off his suit coat, his tie and unhooked the torturously tight waistband, watching as the tonnage of his underbelly pushed open the zipper forcefully to bulge out freely. Leaning back in his chair, his distended belly filling and straining his shirt jutting upward, he started to savor the first bites of his pastries, taking a small nibble of each to decide with which he wanted to continue his quest for sweet satiation.

While he was doing this, he with his free left hand massaged, fondled, rubbed, kneaded the masses of flab his belly offered, squeezed the bulging side roles, pinched the deep flab of his man boobs and shuddered with pleasure, making his chair creak dangerously. Opening his eyes, surveying the mountainous fat of his gut, he sighed shaking his head. There was no sense beating around the bush, he had to face the facts – he was insane, a hopeless nut case who was blissfully content because he weighed more than 500 pounds again. No normal person wanted to be this hugely overweight – but he gloried in it. Warren had been right with his accusation: He simply loved being super fat, stuffing his monster gut with delicacies, rolling it around cherishing the sensation of soft overabundant flesh with its heaviness.

Since the end of his diet, he’d put 50 pounds back on – most people probably did not notice the difference given his in both cases very high weight, but he could see and feel it clearly. His belly had regained the look of burgeoning overconfidence as absolute center of attention and all parts of his body once more had the reassuring layer of padding that comfortably cushioned his interaction with the world in so many ways. With the way he was currently indulging himself again, he’d be back up to his 525 pounds by Christmas, no matter how well he was exercising – his appetite always caught up, and the well fed fullness felt so delightful.
But what if he put on another 50 pounds more from now, how would that feel, how huge would his gut be then? Dubious was only that he could see himself with that much bigger a gut – but not with dieting again, losing weight down to the 350 pounds he had once promised Warren, should he ever take him up on that offer. It was not just the sense of physical well-being and confidence; his mother was right, everything worked better when he was eating well. All his hard work of the past months had been so productive and it was so rewarding to see how it paid off. And now he maybe even had a new dating prospect with Charlene….

Yet he didn’t want to think this fat fueled insanity through now; he’d deal with his insight and which consequences it might have sometime else. Right now he’d concentrate on this wonderful day, relish the excellent pastries, finish his work, digest a bit and then this evening be a good boy and get some exercise on his bicycle. Twirling a forkful of frozen chocolate gateau in his mouth, feeling the creamy richness melt on his tongue and the icy cool slide down his throat, there was a knock on his office door. Sitting up straight to hide his open pants under the desktop, he called a muffled: “Come in,” with a full mouth.

To his surprise it was Stephanie: “Hi Christopher, how are you. I forgot my coat and umbrella last week when we went to the concert in the park, when it didn’t rain after all. I came to pick them up.”

Over the past weeks, their attempt at being friends had progressed quite nicely. She had helped him with her uncle’s contacts in renovating and furnishing his new bakery office, while he had taken her to some summer events here at the hotel and in the park, they had made a few new jam and preserve recipes together. Although she still physically was a pretty bad turn on for him, he had been increasingly comfortable around her and found it easier to control himself than he thought. His experiences with how vulnerable she remained after the death of her husband, to which bizarre outbursts this could lead left him guarded and naturally keep his distance.

Before he had the chance to think how he was going to close his pants again, hide his pastries or minimize his embarrassment, she seemed to have caught up on the scene:
“Looks like somebody is nicely feasting on Maynard’s excellent patisserie…”

“Would you maybe like some?” his cheeks flushing, wondering how he could salvage the situation.

“I’d love some,” with a naughty smirk, Stephanie came around to his side of the desk, half sat on it and with a pout opened her mouth: “A bite of chocolate gateau for me too, please.”

Not being able to come up with anything better to do, he fed her a forkful, mesmerized as her plump lips sucked the chocolate off the fork. “Mmmh, sinfully good,” giving him a slightly hooded smile and opening her mouth again.

“Taste this,” he gave her a bite of the Cherry Cosmopolitan gateau. “This summer’s new creation.”

“Ummmh, really delicious,” she reached over and gave his chair an unexpected hard push, making it turn and fully exposing that his belly was bulging out of his open pants. “Well … well… somebody has really been living the good life today…,” she rubbed the top puff of his belly.

“Sorry… it’s not a good idea to let oneself be caught in too tight pants by your nutritionist after a truly indulgent day of business meals and now pastries…,”

“I’m not your nutritionist any more, I’m a friend, remember?”

“Yes of course, we’re friends. That’s working quite well, isn’t it?” he tried hard to get her attention off his monster gut, not that that was easy since it obviously was the elephant in the room.

“Ummm, yes, I think so too.” By now she had started to paw and fondle his gut seriously, even moving on to unbutton his shirt. “Let’s see, belly has gotten so really big and round again hasn’t it? It’s gotten over the scare of dieting by now, or not?”

“Unfortunately … I’m over 500 pounds again,” he whispered hoarsely, mortified that he let this slip, but her touch on his naked skin was getting him seriously bothered.

“And it feels so good, doesn’t it? So soft, and thick and familiar…” she murmured, now rubbing his belly fat in circular kneading motions. Sensing that he must be beet red by now, he only nodded slowly. “Yeah, I can see that, you look so well fed, so satisfied,” taking the platter from him, feeding him two bites of gateau, one for herself before she set it aside. She resumed caressing his belly, fondling his man boobs and running her hands teasingly under his belly, bouncing it upwards making him get painfully erect.

“Please Stephanie, stop it, this is getting unfair!” yet he couldn’t bring himself to grab her hands to stop her, her touch was addictively stimulating.

“How can a nice tummy rub to sooth poor stuffed tummy be unfair?” She teasingly bit into the puff of fat over the deep cavern of his navel. From his position, he could see her breasts rising with quickened breathing in black lace and her juicy thighs spread seductively as she squatted on her haunches.

“Because your touch … is … well … turning me on … and I can’t…”

“Who says you can’t touch me?”

“I can touch you?”

Seeing the disbelief in his face, she burst into giggles and half tipped backwards, the table holding her upright. With a speed he himself was surprised by he hauled himself to his feet, pulling her up and pushing her up on his desk breathing heavily.
Leaning over her, the mass of his gut immediately pinned her down as he let his chubby fingers wander under her skirt. Her thighs were so luscious, tender and soft, but firm underneath, the perfect grip under his fingers, making playing around a tactile joy as with pate brisée dough. The bulge of her haunches offered the ideal handle to pull her up stronger into his belly, with the thrill of her naked flesh pressing against his. He carefully unbuttoned her blouse, pulled it off to show her breasts spilling out of their lace bra. She in slow motion continued pulling and pushing his belly fat soothing and arousing him simultaneously. Given the enormous size of his stuffed gut, he struggled a bit to bend far enough over to kiss her.

“Is it okay if I kiss you, as friends you know?”

“Yes, it’s more than okay to kiss me,” raising herself a bit so he could reach her lips, languidly starting to nibble on them, they were so plump and sweet. Taking her in his arms, he kissed and caressed her, wrapping her into his overtly ample body, knowing its protective heft was often appreciated.

Stephanie responded to his kisses with a drawn out intensity that took his breath away until she suddenly held him off murmuring: “So sorry, you’re seriously good at working with your tongue but…,” she looked at him in pleading, plucking his nipple.

“But what?” he feared the worst.

“But … the table is really hard… and you know you’re pretty heavy ….you surely have a more comfortable piece of furniture in this hotel?”

“Pretty heavy is the understatement of the day,” he grinned in relief. “I have extremely comfortable furniture made for two right next door in my ensuite bedroom…” holding her tight as he led her over, carefully peeling her clothing off and shrugging out of his which was undone anyway. Pulling her on him on the bed, he continued with his exploration of her curvy body, observing in wonderment that it felt as fabulous as it looked; it was the perfect mix of soft and substantial.

As intimately as he continued showing her his oral and tactile appreciation of her physique, a gnawing doubt in the back of his mind held him back. From the way she was intensely fingering his sensitive flesh and his manhood – his size was not an issue, she was at least positively fascinated by his blubber overflowing her body. As for himself, he felt so lustily confident today, he was sure he could bodily bowl over anybody, so no doubts there. What subconsciously worried him was Stephanie’s motivation for intimate overtures, whether she was emotionally assertive enough for an attempt at sex with another man and whether he was the right one for this experiment.

“Hey, why are you holding back?” she looked him in the eye, nibbling on his double chin.

“I’m not holding …. are you sure you want to…?” his uncertainty regarding how comfortable she was with the situation spilled out.

“Yes – it’s you I want to be with right here and now. Let me, I want to feel all of you badly,” she pushed him on his back, once more massaging the underside of his belly in wicked stimulation, rubbing his erect manhood. Concentrating on controlling his arousal, he did not know what to do next as Stephanie quickly straddled him, placing his hands under his belly roll: “Hold up that big tummy pillow so I can get you inside me..”

Before he knew it, she had guided him inside her and all he could feel were hot dense muscles giving him such a breathtaking squeeze he almost passed out. Stephanie rhythmically pushed herself up against his gut rolls, playfully clawing into them in a feeling that was unreal in its intensity. She was no lightweight herself, and having this weight on him set off vehement waves and wobbles through his flesh masses that had an ecstatic quality, all he could do is try to make it last as long as possible until his climax made him forget everything around him.

In his utter physical satisfaction, he forgot all unease for a moment and pulled her into his arms and cuddled her close, rolling some of his weight over her, immediately starting to nuzzle and kiss her again. After an indefinite time period she tweaked his plump cheek: “Hello there … anybody home? Are you ever going to say anything again?”

“Hmmh, don’t know – I’m afraid of ruining the moment…”

“So… how was your moment?”

“Phenomenal. Umm … for you … I hope…”

She kissed him reassuringly. “My moment was really something special, very intense… Don’t look so worried. I feel great – and I’m very happy we’ve gotten this far. After all, we’ve both wanted it for some time, made overtures, haven’t we? It was overdue we gave it a try….”

He nodded and kissed her again, deciding to blend out all doubts he might have, to concentrate on the marvelous tangency of her delectable plumpness.
“Mmmh…,” he nibbled on the soft bits of her tummy.

“Is that really all you have to say? What are we going to do now?”

“Mmmh … sensuously sensational,” he grasped a big handful of her ass cheek and shook it. “Now I think we still have the appetite for a second course before I take you home to cook you an aphrodisiac dinner, or not?”
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:46 AM   #32
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188

“188, 188, f***ing one hundred and eighty-eight!” Stephanie mumbled angrily coming into the kitchen.

“Good morning! 188 what?” he stretched out his arms and wrapped her in them, pressing her into the soft mass of his belly.

“Mmmmh, it’s so good to feel you. When I woke up, the bed was so hard, cold and empty…” she snuggled against him.

“Well, you knew I had to be at the bakery at 4:30 a.m. to supervise the first official run of the new oven with the new breakfast rolls. I’ll make up for it now with a lot of coziness … and our very best new yeast buns with dark-chocolate chips…,” he tore one apart with one hand to feed her a bite with a kiss. “Isn’t the taste worth waking up alone?”

“Yummmm, excellent as always… but that’s no real help right now…”

Kissing her again, he fed her another piece. “What’s with the 188?”

“I weigh 188 pounds!”

“Ugghu..,” this not meaning all that much to him, feeding her another bite.

“Stop it! That means I’ve put on 16 pounds since we got together! Look, I can’t even button and zip my pants properly anymore!” indicating at her hips where her black dress pants indeed were gaping over about 3 inches of creamy white flesh bulging out. Her blouse also was conveniently unbuttoned, exposing small finger thick roles bulging over the top and sides of her bra.

“Oh, you’re right, now I see them!” He cuddled her playfully, pawing at her tummy, shaking it a bit, aroused by finding more to grab-able. “This is at least three pounds … oh and here, 10 cute new ounces…., ah and some prime real estate, five pounds of serious new sexiness,” he reached around, slid his hands in her pants and lightly spanked her butt cheeks.

“This isn’t funny Christopher! I was already at the upper edge of my weight limit when we got together. I’m now about 30 pounds over normal weight – and 60 pounds over what would be a typical nutritionist weight. You said so yourself, when we first met that I size-wise don’t fit the regular nutritionist bill. In our center, I’ve always been the cow among gazelles …”

“You’re a great supportive nutritionist! You’re gorgeous and certainly not a cow….,” he held her tight, kissing her softly and seriously to mask that he couldn’t think of a good positive and acceptable analogy for her curvaceous beauty and what it meant to him. To him, her hips were like the juiciest tenderloin steak, her breasts an exquisite cream puff with nipples like raspberries, the softness of her belly resembled a ripe Brillat Savarin cheese, her skin had the texture of a luxuriously blended sauce. Even though all this equaled perfection and sensual pleasure to him, the best comparisons he could think of, he knew from experience that women did not approve of being compared to food, no matter how good it was – and especially not in a discussion like the current one with Stephanie. In youthful fervor he had once done that with Liza, gushing fondling her breasts was as wonderful as kneading croissants – only to have her kick him out of her bed for over three weeks.
Suddenly he had a flash-back though: “Your curves are the feminine ideal …. you’re the perfect Nana, my beautiful Nana……”

“What do you mean by Nana?”

“Oh those fantastic colorful woman statues by Niki de St. Phalle – she would’ve loved sculpting your backside…,” fondling it. “That’s what I thought that very first day you came to my office. I wanted to make you as a Nana out of Marzipan, eat you all up,” teasingly sucking at her breast.

“You know I like it that you think I taste good … and you’re trying to be supportive… but those Nanas are just the caricature of a fat woman…”

“No they’re not! They’re the modern interpretation of the timeless female archetype offering all of the sign stimuli to subconsciously appeal to your basic instincts that require nutrition, protection and sexual fulfillment…”

“Says who?”

“My mother.”

“Why should I take your mother’s word for such a wild interpretation…?”

“My mother is an acclaimed art curator; you can trust her judgment on an issue like that. And I love your Nana curves, can’t get enough of them … what else matters?”

“What matters is that I have a talk with my supervisor today… it’s probably about the weight issue,” Stephanie muttered glumly. “I even have to go home first because I don’t have any business clothes here that fit properly any more…”

“First you need a decent breakfast – look I have the table all ready and here’s your coffee!”

“You’re so wonderful about spoiling me – the table looks lovely and appetizing! But that’s my problem; there are always way too many tasty calories around you!”


Since he hadn’t heard back from Stephanie on how her supervisor meeting had gone by late afternoon, he sent her a text on where to find him and went on his normal bike and back exercise program. Cycling along the river, his flab bouncing in timing to the pedaling, he exhaled deeply something like true happiness streaming through him – his reality at the moment seemed as golden tinted as this early autumn evening was. Having Stephanie in his life had turned out to be nothing but a straightforward blessing. As complicated as their early history had been - they had very smoothly taken up the routine of a loving couple without any questions asked, explanations needed or awkwardness to be overcome. It had been like a self-assembly appliance: Parts that wouldn’t fit, a user manual that wasn’t helpful and mechanics that somehow couldn’t fall into place, even though it was obvious it had to work fantastically once assembled. Then when the decisive pieces finally clicked, everything functioned in perfection and one could only wonder why it had taken so long and been so complicated.

Within two weeks she had more or less moved in with him since he had the spacious and stylish apartment while she – as he found out – shared a run-down old house with her brother and his other college roommates on the other side of town. Jason had explained that she had moved in after Timmy’s death since she couldn’t bear being alone and now hated the house she henceforth owned 50 miles to the West, which Timmy had originally inherited from his grandparents and had very lovingly refurbished for her. Her black dresses, pants and skirts started to fill one of his closets; her collection of hairbrushes was in a basket in the bathroom and her favorite tea in the kitchen. It was as if a void in his life, one he had only vaguely been aware of had been filled as it was meant to be.

It was wonderful to wake up in the morning, reach over and roll against her warm, luscious sweetness. Smile at her over the breakfast table as she bit into a warm cinnamon bun, one of his huge t-shirts wrapped three times around her. Not go to a reception or premiere alone, but with his arm around her, proudly advertising their togetherness. He hadn’t known it, but that had always been missing with his affairs, that he had to hide his affection in public. The cozy feeling of simply coming home to someone. Picking her up and biking together for exercise. Cooking all sorts of delicious dinners and samples, testing and tasting them over the dining table, feeding each other. Having his sexual appetite kindled and satisfied very regularly. Even watching TV – she was hooked on some medical drama shows – boring as it may be, was pleasurable with Stephanie: They’d settle on the sofa, she’d snuggle against him, slide her hands under his shirt and let them cuddle his bulk watching TV while he read the paper, looked through menu plans, or into recipe collections, or simply dozed off nodding on his fleshy double-chin – or if he should get too bored, he’d start petting her to either finish off the job then and there or to friskily push her over into the bedroom.

In light of all these domestic delights, his uncertain position in the hotel and conflict with Warren had faded into the back ground. Life went on – and as long as it was as marvelous as it was now, being incommunicado with Warren bothered him less and less. Especially since he knew the ‘Langdon Residency’s’ performance was currently outstanding; it would be very difficult to find an adequate replacement for him. There also was the tinge of hope that this part of his life would also get back to normal since the feedback he had been getting regarding his bid to open an outlet of Maynard’s French Boulangerie in the store front of the ‘Langdon Imperial Residency’ actually sounded more promising than he had dared imagine.


With a loud puff, he pulled at the laundry lift, making it rise towards the ceiling as he felt a whack on one of his mega rump cheeks with a loud slapping sound followed by an explosion of jiggles in his wobbly flesh.

“Hey!” he cried out as his other butt cheek was smacked.

Turning he saw Stephanie with a coy smile. “Sorry, couldn’t resist. That was so much ass, just begging for a little spank!”

“Look who’s talking, Miss I’ve-got-the-sweetest-spank-able-ass-cheeks-ever herself!” he laughed and tried to twirl her around to get a chance to slap her delightful pumpkin backside. As he caught her arm, he noticed she wasn’t really smiling and her eyes were red. “What’s wrong?” to only see her chin start to quiver as tears spilled out of her eyes and she flung herself against him.

“Careful – that’s not a good idea. I’m all sweaty – your nice dress’ll get dirty.”

“So what! Just hold me, please hold me!” muffled against his chest, sobbing. Something must have happened at her supervisor meeting and she was too upset to answer any of his questions, so he stuck to cradling her in his big arms, murmuring soothingly and stroking her hair.

“Better now?” as she slowly stopped sobbing. “Why don’t we go for a swim together – I still have to do that part of my exercises? And I’ll ask Linda whether she can give you a massage while I get mine from Namée. It’ll do you good. We can talk about everything over dinner after you’ve unwound a bit. How does that sound?” Sniffing she nodded.

Diligently swimming laps for quite a while, he was soon distracted by watching Stephanie’s backside bob in and out of the water. Her plain black sports swimsuit had the exciting novelty of her having outgrown it; so the fabric cut into her plump buttocks making fresh flesh roles spill out at the seams and quiver appealingly with her swim strokes. After a while, the itch in his fingers became unbearable and he reached over, grabbed into her juicy ass cheek and flipped her around in the water, making her yelp and kick in protest. “Hey, I’m swimming, don’t ruin my exercise!”

But he only gave her a quick kiss before he dunked her playfully to then toss her into the air as soon as she resurfaced. As she splashed back into the water, she caught him by surprise as she dived down and with a jerk pulled his feet out from under him on the slippery floor, making him end face down in the water so she could clamber on his back rodeo style, lightly, mischievously digging her heels into his side roles. As soon as he was able to raise his head long enough from under her grasp to catch his breath, he turned over, making her slide off so he could roll himself over her, cavorting like a love sick sea elephant, his flab shaking madly. Soon he had her squealing with laughter as they romped through the water, groping each other with the splashes of his tonnage displacement caused squalls of water to overflow the pool.

“Mr. Christopher, Miss Stephanie – time for your massage!” Namée’s accusing look at the pool clock made him realize that they had completely lost track of time.

“So sorry Namée, we didn’t pay attention how late it already was. We’re coming!”

Namée started on his back, very firmly reaching into his back muscles, loosening them. “Your back very good and strong again Mr. Christopher. You worked very well on your exercises,” coming from reserved Namée, this was highest praise.

“Thank you so much Namée, I’m trying to do my best. Without your help I would never have made it,” basking in the warm glow of this unexpected recognition.
That was one more thing that made being with Stephanie such a special, uplifting experience – she was so sweet, caring and attentive. She always reassured him, gave him positive feedback, told him how nice his clothes looked, how good he made her feel, how strong and fit he was, how excellent his taste was and so on. Her constant appreciation had let him leave the last hurtful vestiges of his diet period behind him, restoring his basically confident and optimistic outlook on life. Stephanie’s loving support in connection with business thriving at present actually had him in serious danger of becoming absurdly self-satisfied and rather conceited.

Since she now in turn was struggling with her weight and job, he wanted to give her back at least some of that tender encouragement to help her through her troubles at the diet center and racked his brain how he might convincingly achieve this. Later at home, he took care to make a really light healthy dinner with two different salads and turkey-sage kebabs, no bread, no dessert, only a glass of light white wine.

Stephanie did notice and gave him a sad smile. “Oh Christopher thank you – you’re so considerate cooking me a diet dinner .. . because you’re of course right, that’s what I’ll have to stick to for the next weeks,” she sighed heavily.
“But is this okay for you? I don’t want you to go hungry and unhappy. Have some bread and cheese with fruit afterwards.”

“No, I’m okay. A light dinner won’t do me any harm, on the contrary. Bon appétit – despite watching calories, I made sure the taste didn’t suffer.”

After they had both eaten a bit, Stephanie spoke up again: “Okay, I owe you the full story, I’ve calmed down. As expected, they want me to lose weight, get back down to 160 – maybe even write that as maximum weight into my contract. I’ve got until the end of the year, weighing twice a week on Mondays and Fridays. Our new co-owner is my ‘mentor’,” she grimaced.

“Stephanie … I don’t know what to say…. I somehow feel this is in part my fault … I cook and eat too much,” a strong sense of discomfort rising.

“Don’t berate yourself Christopher, that’s not the point. I’ve been eating all the delicious things you prepare after all,” she rubbed his hand, lightly squeezing the dimples in their padding. “Our new co-owner is part of the problem. Jack, the founder, always was very positive about my size, saying he got only positive feed-back from clients, showed we promoted a healthy, realistic approach to diet and fitness. But to finance our expansion he took in Mindy – she’s the daughter of the owner of the largest local gym chain. A total body fanatic, much less qualified than I am, she has no more than a license as an aerobics instructor. So it’s also a bit of a power and status struggle – she’s jealous I’m in charge of the program development. Her harping on my weight, pointing out it doesn’t fit the image and profile of the center is a bit tit-for-tat. But it’s my fault I gave her the grounds for it, I should’ve been more careful, not enjoyed life so much….”

The cold dread he had known so well during his diet was stealing back through his intestines, making swallowing his salad difficult.

“This is real difficult for me … but I need to take care of losing the weight again. I want to keep my job … and I don’t want to prove Mindy right.” Stephanie took his thick hand between hers. “So I fear we’ll have to cool things for a while, Christopher darling. I’ll relocate back into my room at Jason’s; take care of the diet for the next months…”

“No!”

“It’s only temporary…”

“No! I don’t want you to leave, I don’t want to wake up alone again, I don’t want to imagine you all miserable dieting over in that awful house…,” he heard the note of panic in his voice, the familiar painful ice block once more sinking into the pit of his stomach.

“I don’t want that either. Be reasonable Christopher, it’s only temporary. And we’d still see each other, for exercise, going out, though without eating out. You know I can’t manage a diet here, with you cooking, baking, producing culinary delights non-stop … it wouldn’t work.”

“Yes it can! You can do the diet cooking for our breakfast and dinners, I can eat them too. I promise I won’t bring food from the deli and bakery…,” he said this without thinking, what it might mean for him, but he didn’t care. The specter of his life and apartment without Stephanie was a lot worse than that of two diet meals a day. Hauling himself to his feet, he bent down to her chair and wrapped her in a fierce hug. “Please, can’t we try it? I’m no good as a dieter, I know that … but I’ll do anything to help you. Don’t you always say getting support in dieting is important, having a partner for it? And look, my kitchen is so much nicer, better equipped; we have the good market around the corner. It’ll be a lot easier to do your healthy diet cooking here. Please stay here.”

She reached up and kissed him, rubbing his cheek. “You’re adorable to offer that. I know how difficult it’s for you. I’d prefer staying here – I hate the idea of waking up alone again too. But I don’t want to diet torture you. Are you sure it’s okay to eat diet dinner and breakfast for you? I would make you bigger portions though…”

“Don’t worry about that. I want you here with me, that’s what counts. I can eat a normal lunch and tea at the hotel or bakery, I’ll be fine. Set up everything here as you need it… we’ll show that Mindy!”


After making his promise to Stephanie to support her in her dieting, he had briefly been worried that he would lapse back into the nasty food and hunger issues he had had during his diet, but that went surprisingly smoothly. Stephanie was a good cook, her diet breakfasts and dinners served in more sizable portions for him supplemented with a big lunch and nice afternoon tea were enough to keep him adequately fed.

Much worse was the diet atmosphere that quickly hung over the plafond of their relationship like a dark gray leaden cloud making their spirits droop.
From what anger she vented occasionally, it was mainly her in-fights with Mindy and the pressure she received from her that bothered and frustrated her. Now Stephanie often complained about head-aches, was tired and in no mood for high jinks of any type, only willing to snuggle in his arms and quickly fall asleep in the evenings. What he really missed was doing things together. Cooking and eating were no longer possible.
To his surprise exercising was eliminated too because Mindy insisted on doing a much more rigorous regime with Stephanie – only to have her get a bad case of bursitis from over working her left shoulder early on in the program. This made Stephanie spend several nights literally crying in pain in his bed before she got the right diagnosis after he had insisted on sending her to Dr. Kalamidis. Ensuing more problems at her center since she couldn’t follow their plan as desired since she could only do special exercises with her shoulder and was not allowed to work out much because of the strong medications she had to take to stop the inflammation.

How strong the disregard for medical considerations was at Stephanie’s center became obvious as he came to pick her up one evening to take her to a concert. Since she was not ready yet, he barged in on a dispute between Stephanie, Mindy and some other guy who was forcing Stephanie’s arm up in some exercise which caused her to cry out in pain.

“Stop that immediately!” he barked at them.

“Who are you?” the guy asked.

“Ouuh, so you’re Stephanie’s new boyfriend…,” Mindy surveyed his girth with fascinated disgust. “No wonder…” but he cut her short before she had the chance to come up with any insults by blocking her way out of the equipment corner with the full intimidating force of his good 500 pounds. “You clearly are not qualified to do the correct mobilization exercises with an injured patient. Stephanie will get her mobilization therapy and massage at our hotel spa from now on. You’ll receive her doctor’s certificate that this is medically required.”

Coming from changing, Stephanie said nothing but a small “Thank you ever so much for saving me,” with a long kiss before being very quiet all evening, despite the fun Latin music, only clinging to his hand tightly, or wrapping herself around him.

As he weighed himself four weeks into Stephanie’s depressing diet, he was startled to have lost five pounds back down to 505 pounds making up for almost all of those he had initially put on with Stephanie. He didn’t even dare tell her, because he knew she had only lost six in this time period and was very upset. Apart for her heart wringing to watch frustration, no longer being able to pleasurably test cook and taste with Stephanie annoyed him most because it had been such a wonderful rewarding past time à deux.

Since the winter holiday season was approaching quickly, he needed to spend some evenings in the bakery or deli kitchen with Jerome, Marcus, and Claire to develop and test cook and bake new specialties to sell and serve for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Stephanie clearly was not fond of him doing so, but always put up a brave face telling him he needed to take care of his business, get the work done and was doing all he could in supporting her with the diet anyway. Heading off to the deli or bakery then left him conflicted: He hated seeing her so unhappy, detested the diet gloom that had settled over his apartment and was torn between guilt for leaving her alone and relief to get away to the haven of his kitchen. There he would find the cheery warm bustling mode he relished and could experiment with all types of food, taste them, focus on the flavors, not worry about calories and enjoy his new creations with a warmly filled stomach.

One evening Claire and he were making samples for their annual holiday season specialties to sell at the deli. They had already agreed on Orange-Cointreau relish, a new blend of Pumpkin preserve with bits of walnuts, nutmeg and cinnamon and were experimenting on their own home made Christmas flavor version of crunchy peanut butter.

“Close your eyes .. no peeking …. open up …. now taste this,” Claire pushed a spoon into his mouth, a very pleasant sensation of creamy peanut butter goodness spreading, the light crunch of the peanut chunks and them something soft and fruity.

“Ummm … more please…,” opening his mouth again to have another heaped spoonful of the goodness being slid into his mouth, his bulging upper tummy receiving a warm rub from Claire’s small hand. “Isn’t that good?”

“It’s fabulous…,” he opened his eyes, concentrating on spreading the peanut butter over his taste buds. “You added dried cranberries, didn’t you? Excellent combination, the fruity with the nutty, makes the creamy texture lighter….,”

“Yeah, our Christmas spices peanut butter turned out great – but I thought another type with the fruit would be something…,” Claire fed him another spoonful, continuing to pat his tummy. “Shall we give it a try for the sample sale of our best customers...that would be..”

“What do you think you’re doing there Claire?” Claire dropped her spoon and he turned to see a very angry Stephanie glaring at him. “So this is what your ‘work’ looks like! A nice cozy feeding session with Claire dear!” Stephanie’s voice was ripe with sarcasm.

He was at a loss of what to say. To be able to bow out of the dispute, Claire had immediately wet some cloths and bent down to wipe away the mess the fallen spoon had made. He knew Stephanie was still not Claire’s biggest fan, but was shocked to see how aggressively jealous she looked. “Stephanie how nice you came. Can I for once tempt you with a new creation we want to try out…”

“Well of course a new creation by dear Claire must be tempting! Especially on a real cooking date only the two of you… ”

“Stephanie, how good to see you again, it’s been ages!” Marcus saved him by returning this minute with a jar of sundried tomatoes for trying out a new spread. “You poor thing are on a diet Christopher said, so you can’t join in on the fun of preparing our holiday selection. We miss you!” he pulled Stephanie into a warm hug making Christopher sigh with relief.

“Oh so you’re working here this evening too, how wonderful!” Stephanie blushed a bit but responded to Marcus’ hug. “Yeah, I’m in full diet frustration mode … I miss cooking with Christopher too. You look great, very prosperous …, “patting his belly. Although her relations with Claire remained strained, Stephanie and Marcus had hit it off well making double couple events manageable like some film premieres they had gone to together.

Marcus reddened, but slapped his gut confidently. “Yeah … the big 4-0-0 is looming on the edge of the scale. You know this is no environment to agonize about the pounds – Claire and Christopher see to that,” making Claire’s eyes widen in alarm, but Marcus continued obliviously. “Halloween is next week, we had a long weekend of great events planned … why don’t you give yourself a break, join us for the fun?”

“I’d love to,” Stephanie had moved over to Christopher, slipped her arms as far around his middle as possible and kissed him. “And I think I will – I miss the fun of indulging myself with you guys…”
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:47 AM   #33
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After their long Halloween weekend, Stephanie came back from work the next Friday her eyes red and puffy from crying, literally hanging her head. “What’s wrong my sweet Nana?” he murmured tenderly, hugging her tight, kissing her neck.

“They weighed me again today. Our Halloween indulgence made me gain five of the six pounds I’d lost back again. The ‘motivation talk’ I received was less than motivating.” Her voice wasn’t even upset – it sounded flat, tired, defeated. “Do you have a cup of that Moroccan mint tea for me?”

Serving her the tea and sitting down on the broad couch next to her, he took her in his arms, tongue tied because he didn’t know if there was anything helpful or non-offensive he could say. Especially since he badly wanted to talk about his own very positive news – but that seemed so selfish. After a long leaden silence her stomach growled pitifully and his responded in solidarity. “No matter what, we need a bit of dinner. I’ll make us a pan of those baked vegetables with goat cheese; I have some nice squash…”

The smell of the herbs, the chopping of the vegetables and most of all the pounding of the major steak he was going to have with his vegetables was calming, and he hoped eating it later with a glass of wine would give him an inspiration on what to say to Stephanie.

“How was your day? Everything okay? You’re so quiet….” She had snuck up behind him, slipped her arms around his middle, sinking her hands into the blubbery sides of his belly pushing it back and forth setting off the most pleasurable undulations.

“My day was just fine…,” he sighed. “I don’t know what to say. Since my diet, I know how awful these weighings and diet motivation talks are … After one of them, there never was anything anybody could say that would make me feel better. I felt like the biggest loser ever. That’s what got to me … and now seeing it with you again… I’m so sorry. We were so happy together … weren’t we…? I’m sorry you gain weight around me – you know my food issues….”

“Hey, I eat your good food after all, you don’t force me… it’s not your fault. But you were right, we were so much happier together… why do diets make people unhappy?”

“I hate to see you like this. Especially since you neither need nor deserve it. Those are weight fascists in your center. You’re curvy, wonderfully curvy, not obese or fat or anything that would remotely require a diet. In my case, being morbidly obese, at least the medical statistics were on Warren’s side… Did any of your patients, clients ever complain?”

“Not that I know of,” she firmly continued squeezing his belly, heat starting to emanate from her touch, flowing through him as arousing relaxation. “Don’t torture yourself with memories of your diet … it’s bad enough if I’m currently stuck in that rut..”

With one arm he pulled her around to his front and hugged her tight with a slow kiss. “I got a very unexpected offer today … and I have a wild idea for you. Headquarters contacted me whether I wanted to re-train the team of the Langdon Beach Resort down south for 2 weeks – they’re having some massive problems. I’d love to do it, show Warren … yeah … it’s good they seem to be interested in my involvement in running the hotel group again…,” he had trouble hiding how happy he was about these news. “Why don’t you come with me? Relax on the beach; get away from the wet and cold here…”

“You’re inviting me on a beach vacation?”

“Yeah, sort of. I have to work … but we’ll also have time together. You can relax, exercise….”

“Sounds too good to be true. You’re right – getting away is what I feel most like right now!”


The water ran off his lightly tanned flesh masses in riplets, the expanse of his belly wobbled and bounced heavily as he made his way through the sand back to the pool side bar after his daily afternoon swim. Holding Stephanie’s hand, he puffed a little as his weight made him sink deeply into the sand, his calves started to burn from the exertion of heaving himself forward.

At the pool side, he got under the shower and turned in the cool stream, rubbing his flab to get rid of the salt and sand on his skin and enjoying how this intensified his sense of physical well-being.

“Oh my god, look at that incredible whale! And he dares present all that blubber in swimming shorts!” A woman on a deck chair near the shower said this in one of those loud stage whispers meant to be overheard.

“How can anybody get so super disgustingly fat? And why do we have to look at that in a five star resort? I’m going to complain to the management – they should make sure such people don’t get into their exclusive pool area…..” her male accompaniment huffed.

Grinning with wicked pleasure, Christopher turned off the water, took his towel and started drying himself, taking great care to make his flesh jiggle as much as possible.
“If you’ll excuse my correcting you, I am not disgustingly super fat. I am outstandingly corpulent,” he had instantly loved this wording to describe his size and used it regularly. “And why would you want to complain about the chance to get some bonus whale watching here? Normally hotel’s charge you extra for that spectacle.”

Wrapping his arm around Stephanie with a possessive hand on her cushioned backside, who looked worried behind her sun glasses he lumbered over to the bar area letting his gut hang and sway energetically. His still damp skin felt so good in the warm breeze, he didn’t feel like putting his t-shirt back on as he sank onto the comfortable lounge sofa, spreading his thighs and exhaling to let his vast paunch swell comfortably into position. Having all his fat roll and stack itself without the constrictions of clothing and after having been freshly exercised was a truly exhilarating sensation: Like how the soft bulging roles from his man boobs to his back squished themselves into place over the upmost of his inflated belly tires set lose cascades of enjoyable little tingles. The weight of his gut in his lap, as the heavy naked flesh pressed on that of his thighs towards his knees. Or feeling how thickly his love handles spilled over the waist band of his swimming shorts, making him shift to spread himself wider and give all his excess bulk more room.

His stomach had barely started to growl as the platters with the happy hour tidbits were already placed before him by Paco, their new young head waiter for the day shift. “Mr. Maynard – here are the samples for today’s finger food to go with the cocktail for tonight’s celebratory cooking competition. We’re following the tapas style you had suggested. The small trial run selection we’re offering now here at the pool bar is also in high demand. What would you like to drink?”

“Thank you Paco, please tell the kitchen team it looks fantastic – they’ve outdone themselves. A large bottle of soda water would be great – and then a 43 sour for both of us… or do you want something else, Stephanie?” who only shook her head.

Surveying the platters, he dipped a king prawn into the cilantro pesto and bit into it, smacking his lips from the delicious taste. Taking a second one, he spread a slice of grilled ciabatta with the pesto and placed a prawn on it, guiding it to her lips. “Here, taste this, just delicious…” as she opened up and bit into it. Since he hadn’t eaten since lunch, no tea and pastries in the afternoon, instead an hour of swimming, he was starving. Dinner was over two hours off, so getting a substantial snack was asked for. He ate his way through the platters, feeding some to Stephanie, before leaning back as the edge had been taken off his hunger. Contemplating the charmed light of the setting sun, he looked down at the slightly more swollen sphere of his belly mass, lightly rubbing the side of his stomach with his elbow – enough to make all the flab vibrate pleasingly, but discreet enough to not be outright fondling himself in public.

Smiling over to Stephanie, she fit in perfectly into the hallowed image of being forming his current state of mind. The past twelve days here had really been as escape from their reality, a retreat into a happy universe of sea, sun, swimming, sex and delicious food. Working with the staff in the kitchen, training the new equipe, he had been indulgently pushing a well filled stomach ahead of himself most of the time, unconcerned whether it expanded further again or not. He hadn’t paid any attention if Stephanie was still sticking to some diet, at least she hadn’t mentioned it; she had sampled readily with him and seemed as relaxed and carefree as at the beginning of their togetherness. Gazing at her now, she looked like a lovely Nana of fertility, all dark golden tan, very plump thighs spilling across her seat and cute little roles of flesh peaking out at all ends of her clearly too small black tankini. Somehow she seemed aware of the problem, for she was constantly plucking at her skimpy pareo to arrange it in a more covering manner around her middle.

Spearing one of the fried mushrooms wrapped in crisp bacon with his fork, he held it to her mouth and leaned over, giving the juicy role which bulged out from the bottom of her swimsuit at her hip a playful squeeze. “I think we need to go find a cute bikini with a better fit to show off those adorable new 16 pounds of yours…” he murmured.

“21”

“21?”

“21 new pounds.” Stephanie shook her head sighing. “I’m having a wonderful vacation here … even my shoulder is all healed again after swimming so much. But sticking to a diet while you’re retraining the kitchen equipe is impossible. So I’ve put on six new pounds here, bringing me up to a total of 21 I’ve gained since we’re together. And you’re right, I need a bigger swimsuit … though I doubt a bikini would be the right fit…”

“I’m sorry..,” he mumbled, hastily spreading some dried-tomato cream cheese mousse on a slice of olive bread and biting into it – the chewing saving him from having to respond. It was a lovely evening – and the last thing he needed now was unsettling diet and weight talk.

“You’re truly at peace with yourself, comfortable with your body right now, aren’t you?” she finally asked quietly, surveying the spreading duvet of fat filling his lap.

Surprised by the question, he took a long drought of the 43sour before he shrugged: “Yeah… I guess I am… you, the sun, the sea, successful work, excellent food, great sex…. all I love in life. Why do you ask?”

“The way you’re sitting there, like one of these big Buddhas, the image of serenity. You look so content, confident, it’s like you’re showing off your size almost naked …. feeling fine…”

“Fine- that’s how I feel . Being well fed always made me feel fine, feel like myself.” He folded his hands over his mountainous paunch, rubbing it lightly. “I haven’t thought much about it lately ….You once said so: My monster gut is somehow part of my identity. Maybe I’m crazy, but I felt fabulous, really like myself again as soon as I was back over 500 pounds. Spending my life as a quality soufflé is my favorite state of mind and body. It’s nuts, but there seems to be nothing I can do about it.”

“Yeah, I can totally sense that. Like those nasty remarks from the jerks at the pool didn’t get to you at all. It’s so different from how I saw you during your diet – there you were getting more and more insecure as the months went by …. You were so unhappy with yourself, even though you were losing the weight. Now, it like nothing in the world can upset your self-assurance…”

“You think so?” he frowned in concentration. “Yeah … you might have a point. It’s well … hmm … I don’t know how to put it …. well … you know, I always thought I had nothing in common with my mother. She lives in her own world, sees everything through the lens of art and art history, is oblivious to the normal everyday perspective of other people. Maybe I live in my own world just as much as she does. Only my world is food, baking, eating and hotel rooms. In my world, this is nothing but an advertisement for successful work and excellent ingredients… like a badge of honor for my professional accomplishments…,” he patted his belly mound watching jiggles run through it before he blushed. “Sorry … that’s nonsense, don’t listen to me….”

“No, I don’t think it’s nonsense,” Stephanie slipped her hand over on his belly, fondled it lovingly. “Seeing you then and now, it makes perfect sense. You’re happy as long as you’re in your own well fed world … and Wershowitz’s diet tore you out of it, left you in what was in a cold, critical, hostile environment for you.”

He bent over to give her a tender kiss. “You understand me perfectly. That’s exactly how it felt. I grew up really spoiled, my family gave me the idea I could achieve anything I wanted if I only tried hard enough. I was raised with nothing but praise and support. With the diet, it was the first time I tried really hard with something that didn’t work… and I only got criticism for my trials and failures. I couldn’t handle that ….” his voiced turned into an embarrassed mutter.

“Christopher, there is nothing positive about negative pressure. I’ve seen you work under pressure, handle tough situations – you’re a real achiever, know how to make things happen. Weight and dieting is no measure for personality and success. Stay as happy, healthy and active as you are right now, live in your own world – it’s the best place for you…” she leaned over him for another long kiss sliding her hand under the enormous fat tire rolling over his waistband.

“Thank you – you’re so sweet and understanding…. Mmmh…. What about you? And your job?”

“I don’t want to talk or think about it right now. You’re right, this is a beautiful evening. Let’s make even more of it…. I’m in the mood for a little pre-dinner snuggle upstairs….”


Brimming with physical satisfaction he came down for the official gala dinner cooking competition between the two teams of the kitchen equipe to celebrate the end of the cooking training. The dining room was packed; it looked like they had a fair share of guests from the other resorts nearby who were interested in an exquisite dinner and to come see how the new developments at the ‘Langdon Beach Resort’ had progressed. Having Stephanie in his arm who looked good enough to eat in a black stretchy halter neck that was quite tight and outlined the fullness of her little tummy pillow, hips and backside to perfection was the icing on his cake. He was wearing his old, pre-diet light-weight black evening suit – Stephanie had laughed her head off as he had admitted sheepishly that he had saved all his largest cloths in the back of his closet– with suspenders so his gut could distend itself comfortably over the waistband in the course of the evening.

Doing the round through the guests, trying to greet and speak to as many people as possible, suddenly a short wave from Kyle Weaver, the new young director of the Langdon Resort caught his eye. Making his way over, Kyle apologetically said in a low voice: “Sorry to interrupt your rounds, but Mr. and Mrs. Baxter-Barclay insist on seeing the most senior management representative from the Langdon Hotels here. They say since my official introduction is only today, they’d prefer someone from headquarters….”

Watching Kyle Weaver’s short, trim physique guide him outside, he made a mental note to talk to him about standing his ground in exercising authority. Kyle was an incredibly nice, competent guy with excellent professional qualifications – he needed to make sure everybody respected that. Yet Christopher registered that Kyle’s 5’7’ lean, trim physique in combination with being barely 30 might be less advantageous for commanding the necessary presence. In his own experience in his early days as director this had never played a role: Although he had only been in his mid twenties, nobody had ever doubted his authority once he planted his good 6’3’ and then over 300 pounds in front of them – his size had emphasized any claims to his position convincingly.

Kyle guided him to the terrace; were he was astonished to see the rude couple from the poolside in the afternoon waiting. “Mr. and Mrs. Baxter-Barclay – may I introduce you to Christopher Maynard. He’s long term director of the ‘Langdon Residency’, member of the Langdon group’s senior management and currently seconded here to manage the retraining and installation of the new team here at the ‘Langdon Beach Resort’. Please feel free to explain to him any problems you might have encountered with other guests at the pool today.”

“Mrs. Baxter- Barclay, Mr. Baxter-Barclay… pleased to meet you. How can I help you?” he couldn’t help laughing a little as he saw the horrified faces of the over-tanned, stiff-necked middle-aged couple as he shook their hands energetically, letting them feel the plump fleshiness of his hands.

“Pleasure … so sorry …. Don’t know … misunderstanding …. Just wanted to meet…,” a mortified incoherent babble came from the Baxter-Barclay’s as they couldn’t look him in the eye, both flushing a very dark red.

“Mr. and Mrs. Baxter-Barclay say they had an unpleasant encounter with a guest at the pool who was somehow indecently exposed. Didn’t you say something about excess flesh on display?” Kyle Weaver tried to be helpful.

The mutters of the Baxter-Barclays turned only more incoherent, so Christopher decided to put them out of their misery. “I’m very sorry to hear that you were subject to any form of unpleasantness at the Langdon Resort. But I would like to give you some insights on the philosophy of the Langdon group. We follow a strict non-discriminatory policy and are proud of our welcoming and accepting culture within our hotel group. We try hard to see people for themselves, not based on outward appearances or symbols of rank and status. Size says nothing about a person, his or her personality, qualifications or professional ranking. In the Langdon group, you can meet executives who are happy, competent and willing to make the most of your stay in sizes XS to 6XL. I can assure you, you’ll never be disappointed by their professional standards – and I hope the rest of your stay with us will be most enjoyable.”

He tried to turn his ironic smirk into a half-way sincere smile. “Now let me show you our tapas buffet. You’ll see that appreciating excellent cuisine strongly contributes to a positive, successful outlook on life…. another important element in our philosophy…”
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:48 AM   #34
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209

“209 percent turnover, un-be-f***ing-lievable 209 % turnover for the opening!” Jason’s voice was shrill with eagerness. “Christopher, you’re a baking business genius. I knew this was going to be good, the 100% you had calculated were way too conservative – but now it’s un-be-f***ing-lievable 209%!”

“Language Jason – and volume! Tone it down!” Stephanie said strictly. “Can’t you see Christopher is tired?”

“It’s okay, the business results really turned out great,” he hung his head, rubbed his eyes and sank down on the broad wooden bench. It was not so much that he was tired, although his feet ached despite insoles and support socks from hauling his weight around all day. It was more the bitter aftertaste of defeat and dejection that left him miserable and that even the brightest business figures couldn’t cheer. The opening of Maynard’s New French Boulangerie and Deli in the ‘Langdon Imperial Residency’ had been a phenomenal success: The entrances had to be closed several times to manage the crowds wanting to come. He had to early on order several trucks to drive the long stretch from the original central bakery to keep the shop stocked because the new bakery in town and kitchen on the premises couldn’t handle the demand. By closing, even most dry and storable products were sold out. Three TV teams had been there for coverage, a local lifestyle radio had reported live all day. Old friends and local celebrities had dropped by.

Everything had been perfect … except the one thing that really mattered: Warren hadn’t come. Had not even sent word. Lea Langdon, whom he had also invited, had declined because she had several ICU patients with multiple organ transplants she needed to take care of. But she had sent a small, hand-knitted, very round baker bear her children’s ward had made as a good luck charm that now was seated on Jason’s central cash register. Warren had stayed incommunicado – and hadn’t shown himself, even though he was in town and Christopher had personally brought a sample plate up to his office in the morning.

Stephanie’s hands rubbed over his back, caressing his side rolls and running her fingers through his hair. “Don’t be upset – you did a fantastic job and it was a wonderful day. Not coming is Warren’s loss, not yours. In case anybody noticed – it only speaks against him. It shows he is not only impolite but also has no business smarts to not give such a great new tenant the very best welcome.”

The small voice of reason in the back of his head told him Stephanie was right, he should forget about Warren and relax letting her cuddle him. But the small voice stood no chance against the roaring disappointment resounding through his insides. He had set his hopes so high that the bakery opening would get him back in touch in Warren, let his life finally slide completely back into normal mode. Looking down at the monstrous swollen curve of his gut, it was so stuffed after the days sampling marathon, it strained the buttons of his brand new waistcoat he had made to match one of his pre-diet suits which he filled out again quite well. His stomach wasn’t indulgently full and satisfied as it should be; instead it felt as if he had swallowed a chunk of indigestible concrete.
Probably someone had told Warren that he was as fat as ever, nothing but a huge, embarrassingly bloated balloon rolling its way through the bakery - the hurtful doubts the diet and Warren’s criticism had instilled in him resurfaced viciously. Wouldn’t it have been much more sensible to show Warren how professional, worthy his partnership he was by losing another in lieu of gaining back a good 60 pounds in almost a year? Then he would be less than 400 pounds today, maybe fit better into the image of an executive Warren could respect. Instead he had wallowed in calories and self-indulgent fantasies of how sensually pleasing and professionally stimulating his expanding bulk was, deluding himself in creating his own fat world – blending out how any normal, sane, intelligent adult saw him and his size….

“Christopher darling, what are you brooding about and berating yourself?” Stephanie whispered softly into his ear, her fingers stroking his round cheeks. He looked up at her in surprise; she couldn’t read his mind, could she? “I know that unhappy, doubtful look on you when I see it – you showed it way too often during your diet. You have nothing whatsoever to be downbeat about today – you can look back on an incredibly successful year- professionally and personally. I think as one of your personal achievements I may say so…” she kissed him gently.

“Thank you for coming with me today, for helping me,” he murmured, pulling her in his arms, leaning over his gut mountain to press his face into her middle, sensing the nicely rounded, well filled tummy under the soft material, his hands skimming over the comforting flesh of her hips around to her bountiful backside. Breathing deeply, he tried to ban the hurtful thoughts and images by concentrating on Stephanie’s warm, fluffy plumpness and regular heart-beat. How comforting it was to hold her, and how silly he had been to bear a grudge about her refusing to get the dress for the opening he had chosen for her. It actually was very similar to the one she was wearing, was from the same store – but it was black, with a tiny bit of red. Only not the warm red faced in black he had wanted, so pretty with her glossy dark hair and big brown eyes nicely draped to high-light her lovely Nana curves. In the store, as he had proudly shown it to her, in self-delight that he had thought of something like a new dress for her, she had only cried: “How could you!” to storm out sobbing. Two days later she had apologized and come with this other dress by the same designer, but mainly in black and much looser, camouflaging of her shapely round curves. How petty of him when she was being so loving and supportive in this difficult situation. Probably she needed more time to fully adapt to having him as a new relationship – he’d have to put up with her advertising her widowhood with black clothes for a little bit longer.

If he was honest with himself, he should have seen it coming – and subconsciously he had known that no miracle was going to happen, Warren was not going to appear smiling in the doorway, congratulating him. The fact that he had not invited his mother – who fortunately was on her way to a conference in Prague anyway - though Stephanie was rather keen on meeting her was the surest indicator that he had foreseen his failure. Yet he had hoped against hope all day long – and that was what made his disappointment now so bitter. After Warren hadn’t been there for the opening, he had hoped for the lunch buffet, or then tea time … when he had only been surprised by Mary Helen, who happened to be in town, coming by.

She had cheek kissed him in greeting, shocking him for a brief instant because he was afraid how to explain this to Stephanie, who looked at them in avid curiosity. But fortunately, Mary Helen was an absolute pro in handling such situations – whereas Stephanie still was easily celebrity struck and soon gazed at Mary Helen in starry eyed admiration as she talked to her for a while about her children’s educational charities, an interest they shared.

“I’m so sorry I don’t have more time, but I have two more political meetings I have to attend today, one is over an hour’s drive. The campaign really is underway by now,” Mary Helen excused herself after half an hour. “But before I leave, I do need to get myself a small sample of Maynard’s wonderful patisserie, hazardous as it may be for my waistline…,” she patted her hips which looked appealingly rounded in a powder blue suit matching her eyes well and making her look rosier, more relaxed than in his memory of previous election campaigns.

“Oh god, don’t get me going on that …. Every waistline is bound to turn into a waist-bulge around Christopher…,” Stephanie rolled her eyes, patting a tummy that by now even showed in her loose dress.

“You both look very happy together, complement each other well, that’s what matters, doesn’t it?” Mary Helen smiled at them warmly, making Stephanie blush and him decide he needed to go get the box of pastries for Mary Helen to not get wound up in a potentially embarrassing discussion.

“Here’s a collection of what I remember are your favorites – as well as our new creation for the opening here – the Imperial Carré: rich dark chocolate cream with caramelized bitter oranges.”

“It looks fabulous, I can’t wait to try it,” Mary Helen let herself be accompanied to the door. “You’ve found yourself a really sweet official girlfriend, Christopher honey. The two of you look like the happy couple – I’m very glad to see that.”

“Thank you, yeah – my business and private life are coming along nicely. And what about you? You look very content too, despite the campaign….”

“You were right…maybe some new paths will open up soon … right now everything is in flux, but I’m not unhappy with it. Hope to see you again soon!” getting into the waiting car.

Mary Helen’s visit had only taken his mind off Warren’s absence for a while and as evening and closing time drew near, the sinking feeling had increased. Now it had him sitting here, feeling rotten with failure and self-loathing because Warren hadn’t appeared, failed to see his success and acknowledge that a 500 pound guy could be a model of a top notch entrepreneur and executive. Stephanie was right, though – he had to get over it. If Warren no longer wanted anything personal to do with him, so be it – it really was his loss. He himself deserved better than that.

“My Nana, I want to get out of here.” He heaved himself up, wincing as his full weight settled on his aching feet.

“Sure … bed time sounds like a good idea. My feet are killing me, standing in these high heels almost all day,” she leaned into him.

“No, that’s not what I mean. I mean really get out of here, do and see something new. Remember that international young hotel executives conference by invitation only in Istanbul I was telling you about?”

“Ummm, yes… but wasn’t that like tomorrow? And didn’t you say you couldn’t do it because of the start of the holiday season, you’re needed here? What about Thanksgiving?”

“Oh … to hell with all turkeys! Right now I’ll get more out of actually visiting Turkey!”

“You aren’t serious – are you?”

“I’m dead serious! I’ve worked so hard this past year … and now … I feel like I need to see something new, something I’ve never done before. Turkish cuisine is world famous – and I know so little about it. I want to see where Europe and Asia meet, I don’t want to think about this here all the time – except the good business figures…. can you understand that?”

“Yes, I can – you’ve had a wild year – something new would probably do you good. But isn’t that a little sudden?”

“It’s not tomorrow – flight would leave day after tomorrow in the evening.”

“Big difference,” Stephanie was starting to sound sarcastic.

“It makes a big difference,” he noticed he had switched to his most persuasive voice. “I can make sure everything runs smoothly here in the next 2 days. Jerome will stay for the next two weeks to supervise the new bakery anyway. We’re all set in the hotel and deli bistro for holiday season; everybody knows what they have to do. And next week it’s only turkeys, turkeys, turkeys – it’s probably the most boring culinary week of the year. People are such food reactionaries when it comes to Thanksgiving! Claire is repeating her vegetarian week in the deli bistro afterwards because it was such a success – I’m not the only person literally fed up with turkey dinners… And we’d be back for the three busy weeks before Christmas…”

“We?”

“Yes – we! The invitation is for me plus 1 … I hope you’d be willing to be my plus1 by now..,” he kissed her longingly to prove his point.

“My job… and the diet issue….,” Stephanie sighed and squirmed in his arms, prompting him to hug her tighter. “You know what … you're right!” She finally looked up at him with a defiant glint in her eyes. “I could use a really new outlook on things too! It’d be my first Thanksgiving without family … but still… Travelling is one of the things in life I’ve missed out on so far – Timmy hated to travel, feared flying. James suggested I take a leave of absence until January for the diet anyway – he’s fed up with Mindy’s harping at me too. Many diet counseling sessions are cancelled in December anyway – people mostly take a holiday break. So … what the heck is keeping me here … I’d love to be your plus1 in Turkey without a turkey!”



Puffing to catch his breath, he leaned against the old stone wall behind which the park of Topkapi Palace was hidden as they were crawling up the steep cobblestone street leading to their charming boutique hotel on the crest of the hill close to Hagia Sophia. Holding his achingly distended midsection, his heavy breathing in the chilly damp night air reached steam-engine quality as he panted: “Wait a second; I need to catch my breath!”

“41 … all I can say is 41!” Stephanie shook her head in exasperation, half frowning, half giggling. “You sampled no less than 41 dishes - and now you wonder why you’re having trouble heaving your stuffed monster belly up this hill. As your nutritionist I should never let you eat that much in my presence!”

“But those dishes were so delicious – like the bacalao in lemon-basil marinade! Or the lamb with artichokes in the yoghurt-almond sauce! And they don’t serve courses here, but many small dishes so you can sample all of them… you’re actually supposed to!”

“The verb is sample, Christopher, sample – meaning one small spoon of each!” The raki with their meal had made Stephanie very giggly. “Not eat up the whole plate!”

“The plates were really small!”

“So why is this tummy so gigantic right now…?” she purred, leaning against it, letting her hands glide all over it to the bottom, where his shirt for once had slipped out of his pants exposing some naked skin under his overhang. “So, so big that even this big shirt had gotten a little too small?”

“Okay, okay … I know I’ve been over-indulging myself. But it tastes so good, is so interesting, I’ve learned so much” he blushed slightly, enjoying her cool fingers teasing the heavy flab peaking out of his shirt, only to wince slightly as the her chain linked double wedding band she still wore once more bitingly pinched into his skin. Next to her black wardrobe another small annoyance for him. He quickly forgot though as she stroked his over stretched flanks, the upper part of his stomach, inches and inches of thick fat over the bottom of his rib cage, which were so taught that they emanated the light, pleasant pain of total satiation which had turned into his regular companion here in Istanbul.

“You’re maybe learning a lot … but poor Cem who has to do all the interpreting is going to starve because you ask the chefs so many questions he can’t even have a bite himself …”

“Really? Am I too demanding?”

“No – just kidding! He seems to enjoy the talks too. And it’s so cute to see you enjoy yourself so much, it’s almost impossible to scold you for overeating,” she pressed herself against to kiss him, continuing to most pleasingly fondle his belly, pushing herself into it. He let his hands wander up over her backside only to feel a baguette sized role on the side over her waistband, circling around to the front, where he could discover she had unbuttoned her pants with a firmly full stomach bulging out.

“Now look who’s talking! This is a too stuffed for my jeans tummy too! How many dishes did you sample?”

“Ummm … I gave up counting mine at 17…”

“But you can count to 41 to monitor my sampling….” He faked an injured pout.

“I’m sorry, I’m only teasing…,” she smoothed his shirt and fitted it in his pants again, readjusting the suspenders. “This is a special opportunity; you should make the most of learning as much as possible about Turkish cuisine. You’re being good about exercising; we always walk up to the hotel, yesterday we walked all around the Golden Horn…”

“Today we only went on multiple boat rides … so to make up for this I promise I’ll hike up both steep roads to Taksim square parallel to the two funicular lines tomorrow! Don’t you think that 20 minute detour around the peninsula taxis have to take to get up here is a nuisance? This walk is nice and so much faster …. even with this overfilled monster!” he slapped his gut.

Hauling his bulk further up the hill, struggling with its immense weight – nevertheless every minute was worth it. The location of the city on the Bosporus between two continents, the bustling boat traffic, the rich history, the splendid mosques and fascinating architecture, the invigorating physical relief of going to a Turkish bath … experiencing his with a luscious Stephanie in his arm had a dreamy quality despite the already rather cool weather. Not to mention the culinary delights – there was a reason why traditionalists considered Turkish next to French and Chinese to be the third great world cuisine. To make the most of it, he had not only prepared himself well with researching restaurant addresses but had resorted to wearing trousers with suspenders all the time so his stomach could swell more comfortably over the waistband reaching monumental dimensions in the course of the three marathon meals a day he was enjoying. Puffing and pushing his girth into the hotel, he took very deep breaths before he moved on up the rather narrow stairwell because he was too wide to fit through the tiny elevator door.

In their room, he didn’t bother to turn on the light, but shoved Stephanie against the wall with the mass of his belly in a frolicsome manner, leaning over to kiss her while wiggling her too tight jeans off of her hips, intensely kneading the new softness of her lower belly, his already tingling arousal turning into a decided throb. He pushed his flesh masses more into her undoing his shirt to rub his naked flab into her abdomen, causing her to moan and frantically start pawing him.

“My Nana likes it when she’s pinned down by a monster belly, doesn’t she? When all this heavy flesh rolls over her … that feels really good doesn’t it?” he purred into her ear.

“Mmmmh … ,” she started to bite into his nipples, shaking his moobs. He pulled up her t-shirt and with her not seeing anything, steered her towards the bed, where he quickly pulled off her clothes and shrugged out of his to start rolling the bloated sphere of his gut ponderously over her, rubbing it into her crotch making her writhe in delight.

“So much fat is sooo sensual, turns you on so much or not?” he whispered before he raised himself briefly, only to have her pull his gut back down immediately. “When you constantly play around with my belly … it’s not about me feeling good and confident. It’s about getting yourself all excited and stimulated … isn’t that so? You’re a cute selfish Nana that wants to be smothered by so much sexy flab …. or a naughty nutrionist who gets the kinks out of roles and bulges...,” maneuvering himself over her on all fours, squashing as much weight on her as he dared and jiggling his flab madly into her, until she let out a sound almost like a cat’s meow and he stopped.

“More, please more … don’t stop,” she whined as he caught his breath.

“Don’t be greedy, there’s more coming… - now let me grab those delicious ass cheeks of yours…,” he pushed a pillowed under her grabbing deep into her thick padding shaking her against his wobbling gut before he hiked up her legs and entered her, this time taking care to bring as much of his bellies heft down on her in slow rhythmic waves as possible. Since he was so full, it was easier for him as well as he hoped more pleasing for her because he could take the time to get her on at least two highs before he got his release.

Afterwards he lay on his side, letting his belly half cover her, softly grabbing into her lavishly meaty thighs while she let her finger tips draw patterns over his belly. After a long silence she finally snuffled softly: “I think you’ve got me better figured out than I myself do….”

“You think so?” he stroked her hair out of her face.

“I really love a big belly, cuddling it, snuggling against it … it turns me on to be crushed by all this heavy softness…I’m drunk enough to admit it. I always thought … yeah with Timmy … well that I loved him and that’s why, … as I got older, I got sensual pleasure out of feeling a big body, because it was his body.” She looked up at him and shook her head lightly. “That’s not true. You’re spot on when you say I fondle you because it makes me feel just as good as it does you. I love the feel of a thick, fleshy guy – and I had to go a long way in caressing and cuddling Timmy to make him forget his inhibitions, until he felt comfortable enough for us to get intimate. He’d never initiate it, always waited until I prompted him. All along, deep down, I would’ve loved it if he had pinned me into the wall like you do, or cuddled me into his belly, or like you’re doing now, using your fat as my blanket…. I feel guilty for saying this…”

“You don’t need to feel guilty for wanting something that makes you feel good … and doesn’t harm anybody else. It took me a while too to figure out that you’re not just being supportive, considerate of my ego, but actually genuinely care for the fat fling ….” He nuzzled her breasts.

“After Timmy’s death, after things had gotten half-way back to normal, around when we met – I tried dating a normal guy. It didn’t work at all, I felt so uncomfortable whenever he hugged me… so I thought I just wasn’t ready for a new relationship yet. Then when I came to see you for your first session, when you stuck out this delicious monster belly for the first time and patted it, I was about to swoon. All I wanted was to tear your shirt off and kiss and cuddle it all over …”

He threw back his head to laugh until his belly fat jiggled wildly, making her pat it rapturously. “And all I wanted to do that day was eat you up… live and in Marzipan with your appetizing pumpkin ass… - what went so wrong? Why did it take us so long to realize that we’re crazy about each other?”

“Hmmmh, you were my patient and I had told myself I didn’t want or need another big guy after Timmy …. And there was the diet and how unhappy it made you, so we lost the perspective on the good things in life….”

“The good things in life … promise we’ll never lose that perspective again, okay?” he squished himself into her for a deep kiss.
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:49 AM   #35
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The next morning even he wasn’t very hungry so they just had wonderful creamy Turkish yoghurt with fruit for breakfast before he tied on his sturdy hiking boots. Taking the tram down to the Golden Horn, they walked across Galata Bridge before he then started climbing up the lopsided stone stairways and steep back alleys along the funicular line up to the south end of Beyoglu – or Pera, the original and much more pronounceable Greek name of the hill district on the north side of the Golden Horn. Halfway up he was panting and sweat was pouring down his back and over his face because he was trying to keep up with Stephanie who set a rather quick pace.

“Arggh..,” he puffed, making Stephanie smirk over her shoulder. “You were the one who said you were going to exercise seriously today…. that’s all we’re doing…”

“Yeah, go ahead … it’s okay, I can keep up,” he panted, straining to get into the correct regular slow uphill rhythm Meret had taught him. Once they reached fashionable Istikal Street, it was a lot easier. The climb was only a slope and Stephanie was distracted by window shopping, slowing down so much that he made it first up to Taksim square, greeting her at Atatürk’s statue with a grin.

“Good boy,” Stephanie gave his backside a playful pat.

“Here’s a water I got for you, I’m already on my second. I’ll take the other funicular down to the Bosporus and climb the stretch back up here from Kabatas..”

“You weren’t serious last night that you were going to climb the hill twice?”

“I was dead serious! I’ve learned the lesson that I need to exercise sensibly if I want to be able to lead my life my way. I don’t ever want to lie like a beached whale immobilized on my back again… so it’s the price I’m willing to pay for indulging my appetite.”

“You’re not mad if I don’t come along? I’d love to walk back down the way we came, do some shopping. Shall I go back to our hotel and we meet at the Sulemaniye Hamam to relax before lunch? I’ll drop by the hotel and get our stuff…”

“Sounds wonderful … meet you there.”



“You look so beautiful tonight…,” he murmured looking across the table at Stephanie. They were dining at a stylish rooftop restaurant with an utterly breathtaking view of old town Istanbul and the Bosporus, picture book perfect with illuminated mosques, twinkling stars and a crescent half-moon. Seeing her profile silhouetted against the spectacular scenery, her hair tumbling loosely over her shoulders, her skin with a rosy glow from an afternoon in the autumn sun, her cleavage spilling out of her too tight top in the half turn in the most inviting manner it only added to the surreal charmed quality of this trip.

“It’s only the beauty of the panorama which fortunately reflects on me,” Stephanie said softly, apparently thinking along the same lines he was. “I can’t thank you enough for bringing me along. This really is a journey to another world, I’ve seen and learned so much in a few days… experiencing this with you… it’s too wonderful for words..” under the table she reached over and squeezed his thigh, letting more slow, trickling arousal run through him.

"It’s really special, Arabian nights were right. I never expected this much either …. and having you here with me,” he let a piece of the inspiring fish course – with thin strips of zucchini stacked as a lasagna with a herb-pine nut sauce – melt in his mouth. The images of his days here strongly reminded him of the paintings his mother had always shown him when reading Aladdin as a bedtime story depicting oriental fantasy scenes. Like his afternoon in the steaming hamam, with its opulent décor of golden and turquoise arabesques, the gurgling water flowing over the marble and the huge masseur kneading through all of his flesh clearly in awe of its masses. An English speaking business man had translated for him how impressed they were by his girth, comparing his physique to that of Sultan Mehmet Fatih, the conqueror of Constantinople in 1453. Looking this up on returning to the hotel, he found out that Sultan Mehmet had indeed for most of his adult life been too heavy to ride a horse – instead went into battle in a litter carried by no less than 8 men.

This had tickled his imagination as he pictured himself in this role, a fantasy that was further fueled as he returned to his room only to see Stephanie lounging on the richly colored bedspread in the posture of one of these full figured odalisques, her broad round hip curve rising above the cushions most seductively. All the images and stories had such a sultry quality to them, he wanted to savor them to the fullest, taking it very slow as he rolled himself over her on the bed for a most languid afternoon dalliance that none the less ended with both of them screaming in physical ecstasy to the point that the front desk called to inquire whether they needed medical assistance.

So it wasn’t unlikely that Stephanie too was mirroring some of the utter sensual fulfillment he now felt with his delightfully filled, but today not over stuffed got resting in his lap. “It’s more than just the scenery, you’re glowing … look so at peace … I haven’t seen you like this at home for a long time.”

“There is almost nothing I love more about you than the fact that you not only pay so much attention to your own, but also to others well-being.”

“Hey – that’s the prime quality of a good hotel director! How could I make guests content with their stay if I didn’t pay attention to that?”

“Still – it’s something special. You saw correctly, I feel at peace because I’ve made an important decision for myself – and I’m pretty sure it’s the right one. I’m handing in my notice at the center.”

“You’re giving up your job there? What made you decide that?”

“Well – you and Jason have both been telling me to quit, not let myself be harassed because of my weight… not let Mindy harp on me. Both of you are right. James was very helpful and understanding after Timmy’s death – but he’s weak willed, now has let Mindy take over completely. Her approach and my concepts of what healthy eating and weight management should be all about don’t fit at all.”

“Good for you – you’re doing the right thing. I hate seeing you unhappy – I know for myself how that diet pressure takes the fun even out of a job you love…. What do you plan on doing?”

“No definite plans yet – but I know the direction I want to go into. Talking to Mrs. Fitzpatrick the other day also confirmed for me that I don’t want to work with adults anymore. I prefer working with children, teenagers … help them get a good start in life, find tools to make them comfortable with themselves at any weight. My previous job with teenagers with eating disorders was much more rewarding for me. And I want to shift from the weight loss more to a weight and body management approach, to make people be healthy and active at any weight.”

“Sounds like a fabulous idea! What made you decide that? How are you going to go about that?”

“Actually seeing you over the past year, how much happier, healthier more assertive you are even though you’re heavier again affirmed a few assumptions I’ve had anyway. Also my experience with Timmy, he would’ve needed real medical and psychological support growing up, not a lot of bullying and nagging him because of his weight and occasional diet camps. He probably would’ve turned into a different adult then….,” she took a long sip of wine.

“Thank you, never thought my 500+ pounds might set a good example for anything… How do you plan on doing that?”

“Oh sorry, yeah I didn’t finish. Nothing is definite yet … but I’ve stayed in contact with two of the doctors from my teen program. Both are pediatricians, one specializes on health care for teenagers something that receives way too little attention – but they have needs of their own, being neither children nor adults. The other, Sarah, is mother of three; her husband is big – so two of her three kids are big too. So she knows and cares about the issue from personal experience. Then you’ve heard of our local “Future Challenges” foundation? So far they’ve mainly specialized on sports scholarships for disadvantaged youths – but the daughter of the founder has recently taken over, and she’s more interested in a broader approach. Also in getting more girls involved. Sarah has been talking to her … yeah we got to see how that works out… I’ll start as soon as I’m back, get more into the details after New Year…”

“Stephanie that sounds brilliant! I hate to say it, but I actually think it’s great you want to leave the center… as you can imagine, it always triggered uncomfortable memories for me. What you’re planning sounds like it’ll make much better use of your talents…”

“There’s only one drawback…. It means I won’t have a regular salary for a while. Jason has been telling me all along I don’t need to…,” she poured down almost half a glass of wine. “Well I have the rent income from Timmy’s house along with what’s left from his life insurance. It wasn’t that much – I paid off his student loans and the small mortgage on the house he had taken out for refurbishing it. But combined they leave me with an income on par with minimum wage… I’ve never touched the money, couldn’t stand the idea. Jason says it’s silly, Timmy would have wanted me to use it like now to work on finding the best possible job for myself…” she swallowed hard.

“Jason is right, my Nana … listen to him, also trust his financial management, he’s doing a great job in my miniature financial department, I’m really glad I took him on.”

“He likes working for you too, gets along well with the colleagues. Much better than the part-time accounting he did in our center during his junior year. He thinks James is a dunce anyway. But it means money’ll be tight for me for a while. I know I should be contributing more to our living expenses anyway, I let you take care of way too much as it is, you’ll need a little more patience with me until I…”

“Stop it, you know that’s not an issue. The rates I pay on the apartment’s mortgage are way below any rent would be, so don’t worry. Or do you think I’ll let you sleep under the bridge … only let you back in for an occasional hanky-panky…?” he grinned at her and pinched the thickest point of her hip under the table.

“You’d be surprised which rates I’d charge for that set up…,” she grinned back at him, running her foot up the inside of his thigh making him squirm. “You’ve been so busy the past year, had so many changes… are you planning on any more?”

“I know what you mean, I should finally leave the ‘Langdon Residency’ get on with my life without Warren, you’re not the only one whose been saying that…,” he sighed and finished his fish before seeing Stephanie look at him expectantly, slipping her hand in his. “Yeah, you’re right …. If I’m honest, his no-show at the opening sort of closed that chapter for me too. He doesn’t want anything to do with super fat me on a personal level anymore. I guess I can live without a father figure from now on; it’ll take a while to really get used to it …. hell knows I’m old enough for it by now….”

“It’s always difficult to accept the definition separation from somebody who has played such an important role in your life for so long, especially if it’s not voluntary, there’s so much hurt involved. Take the time you need. But a clear cut would do you good, darling,” Stephanie looked at him with warm sympathy, with a tinge of curiosity. “You’ve never talked about your real father ….”

He shrugged in surprise. “There’s nothing to talk about … I don’t remember him, he left when I was only three, never got back in touch with us…”

“Did you ever miss him?”

“No – why should I? Uncle Tom really was like a father to me, actually cared more for me, did more things with me than the fathers of most of my friends at school did. They were all jealous I had such a cool uncle instead of a father. My mother, Uncle Tom … nobody ever mentioned my father …”

“You never tried to get in touch with him when you were older?”

“No – again – why should I? Since he never tried to keep up contact with me – why should I want to get in touch with him? Would you want to get to know someone who clearly isn’t interested in you? What mattered was my mother, my mother’s family, their heritage with the bakery – that’s me, that’s all I ever wanted. From what I know, all I have from him is the black hair and being much taller than the Maynards. I don’t even have his name … my mother dropped it again after he left, had mine changed too.”

“So what was your name?”

“I was born Christopher Maynard Wilson. His name is, was Paul Wilson. He worked for an insurance company who insured the art collection my mother worked for then. Can you imagine trying to find an insurance employee named Paul Wilson nationwide?”

“No, I understand. I just wondered because you always talked about your uncle, about Warren Langdon, but never about your father…”

“He chose never to play a role in my life.., and my uncle and later Warren filled that position very satisfactorily for me…, but now …,” he swallowed hard. “I’m honestly old enough to live without a father figure. I’ll stick to business contacts with the Langdons from now on. And yes, I have some plans …. I want to work on a hotel of my own. I need a hotel in my life, I’ve spent almost half my life in a hotel, I love hotels …. and I know I should get out of the Langdon Residency. I want to write a cook book about the pleasures of excellent eating… I want to… “



To add another emotional highlight to their trip, originally to take her mind off the job issue, he had decided to return via Paris, since Stephanie barely knew the city. With boyish delight he went about showing her around, visiting its wonderful patisseries , chocolateries, fromageries and uncounted other sensations. An unexpectedly charming new past-time he’d never thought to have a penchant for was taking Stephanie to the numerous elegant boutique’s offering plus-size clothing, or even better, plus-size lingerie shops since she resigned to having outgrown her entire presentable wardrobe. While she insisted on sticking to black for her clothing, he ironically could get her to try some rather daring colors for lingerie. Settling into a comfortable leather fauteuil, folding his hands over the massive mound of his appealingly filled gut, he could watch her change for one seductive outfit into the other, showing off her ampler than ever curves in violet lace or fuchsia suspenders or red silk French knickers, which brought out her bulging ass cheeks to perfection, letting him play blue movies in his head until he needed to ravish her then and there, barely making it back to their hotel room.

A minor, but mind-altering incident occurred on their third day in Paris: Returning laughing from a cheese tasting with a substantial amount of red wine in the afternoon, he was suddenly greeted at the front desk from the side: “Bonjour Monsieur Maynard.”

Turning he saw Monsieur Djenardi politely smiling at him, holding a squirming toddler in a firm grip on the counter, extending his hand which he shook. Looking at the little boy, it was as if his heart stopped beating and he couldn’t breathe anymore – he saw wide light brown eyes, soft wavy black hair and chubby cheeks chewing a cookie, it was almost like looking into the mirror.

The toddler squirmed and kicked even more, stretched out his plump little arms and cried: “Ammam” making M. Djenardi set him on the floor to let him run squealing joyfully into Nora’s outstretched arms. “Our son Karim, he’s so happy to see his ‘Maman’ again, we came to pick her up.”

“Felicitations, such a cute child,” he managed to mutter, looking at Nora, who ignored him, somehow making his way to the stairwell. Nora’s son … could he also be his son? The looks were tell-tale … but still, that didn’t mean much, he was only a baby. The question dug through his mind for the next days, leaving him preoccupied.

Since it was unusually mild for early December, they got delicious Crème Brulée and Mirabelle ice cream at Berthillon on Ile St. Louis on one of their walks and settled on a bench over the Seine to eat it, gazing at the sorely underrated rear view of Notre-Dame. Snuggling against him, Stephanie made him start as she asked unprompted: “Karim, Madame Nora’s baby …. he’s your son, isn’t he?”

It took him maybe two minutes to get over the shock of the question, before he asked, “How do you know that’s what I’ve been thinking about the past two days?”

“Feminine instinct … plus it was obvious,” Stephanie shrugged with a knowing smile. “Your shocked expression as you saw the boy – and he looks absurdly like you, the eyes, the hair, the energetic tubby activity, the cookie…” she pinched his plump cheek.

“Did Nora and M. Djenardi see my reaction too?”

“I think Nora did, that’s why she hid her face in hugging the baby … but M.Djenardi didn’t, he was much too busy looking at his wife and child with fond pride. So you had an affair with her?”

“Ummgh, for several years, whenever I was here in France. Nora’s a big fan of my hyper-fat body, as she calls it. Last time we got together was … let me think … January it’ll be two years, before my diet disaster.”

“That fit’s. Little Karim should be about 14 months. You didn’t use contraception?”

“Never talked about it … shit … I never even thought about it. I assumed … well … I knew she was married …. Thought she’d take care of that…,” he looked at her guiltily. “Typical male asshole behavior, eh? Does this bother you?”

“Contraception is an issue both parties need to address – so it’s your fault as much as hers.” Stephanie palpitated his belly soothingly. “No, it doesn’t bother me. It was before we ever met …. and I’ve heard about the ‘director’s special microwave dishes’, I’ve been around the hotel long enough…” she grinned, making his cheeks burn. “It depends on how you handle this issue. Also -I admit, knowing you can from the looks of it relatively easily father a child is a positive in my book.”

“Huh … why that?”

“Well … I really want children. Timmy and I had been trying for a while with no success; there were first talks about fertility treatments between us. When he was killed in the accident, I missed my period out of shock, had a pretty bad case of phantom pregnancy. So knowing it might work with you, if we stay together speaks in your favor. Now you can let out that vain, self-satisfied grin you’ve been smothering the past two minutes,” she squeezed his double-chin hard, making him indeed smirk proudly. “Do you want children?”

“To be honest, until seeing Karim here, I never thought much about the issue. Now I can see myself as a father, I’d like to get to know the little guy. It was a shock … he looks a lot like me, doesn’t he?”

“Yes he does, just as adorable as his daddy. So what are you going to do?”

“I need to talk to Nora, find out more about what and why and how …..,” he looked at her half pleading. “I don’t want to mess up any arrangements she has within her family, they seem to be good for all of them. I just want to let her know … well .. that in case she wants me to, she ever needs it, I’m willing to do my part. Monsieur Djenardi is a lot older than she is, yeah … and we both know how quickly everything in life can change, how the best laid out plans are blasted away from one moment to the other. It was good I had my uncle; since my father walked out so early … do you understand what I mean? Does this make any sense?”

Stephanie cuddled him close, kissing away his sigh. “It makes perfect sense. And it’s a good, responsible plan. Yeah we both know how terribly quickly life can change … having fall backs is very important. Go talk to Nora.”


The next morning, he had a very substantial breakfast to fortify himself before going down to Nora’s office, where her assistant told him she was in a quick meeting but should be back in a few minutes; he could wait. Looking at his enormously round circumference in the mirror door of her office, settling on the small sofa he filled well with his width and feeling his flesh stack and roll itself into fat tires and mounds he realized that he probably was back up to his 525 pounds fighting weight. And it felt just the way it was supposed to - heavy, comfortable, powerful, reassuring.

Nora went pale as she saw him on entering, not greeting him formally but quickly sitting down at her desk, it forming a barrier between them. “Bonjour Christophe, how are you?”

“I’m fine, having a very nice stay here.” As silence fell between them, Nora leafing through some papers, avoiding his eye. He started a few times, trying to form the words, before they finally came out very quietly. “Nora, there’s no easy way to talk about this. So I’ll simply ask: Is Karim my son?”

Watching her bowed head, he could see that tears slowly started rolling down her cheeks, but no sound came out. He hauled himself up, went around her desk, bent down to her, wrapped her in his thick arms and stroked her hair.

“Qu’est-ce que tu veux?” she sobbed.

“Shhh … I don’t want anything. I’d .. just like to know whether it is as it looks… that I’m little Karim’s biological father. I won’t do anything you don’t want me to do.” Nora buried her face in his soft belly, crying even harder. Carefully he pulled her up, led her over to the small sofa, sank down on it, settling her cushioned into his bulk. “It’s okay, have a nice big fat snuggle, that’ll help.”

Clinging to him tightly, digging into his flesh, she finally calmed down. “Even before I saw Karim, I knew he had to be yours. Yves and I had been married fifteen years, never anything. He refused to have a fertility check or treatment, my gynecological check was okay but not necessarily brimming with fecundity. I was already 38 when it happened; I’m 5 years older than you. I’d been off contraception for years. Nobody else ever made me forget myself to have a sexual affair. When Karim was born- this strong healthy 4 kilogram baby boy, his eyes turning light brown so soon- that was the definite answer. Do you want a paternity test?”

He shook his head. “Not necessarily. Does your husband know or suspect?”

“I don’t know, we never talked, the family all think we did some fertility treatment. Yves loves Karim like crazy; it’s a late fatherhood miracle for him. He’s in early retirement now, has all the time to take excellent care of him. The family says he has the eyes of Yves’ mother, which are a lighter brown, though not as light as yours. That passes as explanation. Maybe questions will be raised when he grows up a lot bigger and taller than the rest of the family, which he certainly will. He’s such a lively, active, happy, uncomplicated baby; with such a big appetite … he’s probably you all over. Are you going to tell Yves?” true fear in her eyes.

“No, as I said, I’ll never do anything to harm you or Karim. You’ve got your reasons for keeping things this way, we never were a couple … it was unplanned.” He cradled her into his abundant body. “There’re only two things I’d ask you to think about. One – in case something happens to you and Yves, God forbid, but you never know … then I’d like to have the chance to care for Karim, not have him raised maybe by some distant relatives… can you understand? Is there any way of legally taking care of that under French law without Yves finding out? Could you look into that?”

Nora nodded slowly, fondling his double chin. “That’s difficult, but I’ll try to find a way – it’s a good idea. I understand you want that … and you have a right to it. What’s the second point?”

“Well … I don’t want to interfere in your family life…. but I’d like to see him grow up every now and then. He’d get to know me as a frequent hotel guest and colleague of yours, who sometimes brings him little presents from the US. Would that be okay? We have regular guests in our hotel who have befriended some of our staff’s kids – or kids of guests who come along because they’re great friends with people in the hotel. It’s not that unusual, a hotel is a bit like a family.”

“Bien sur, Karim likes people, makes friends easily … all my colleagues here dote on him, he’s getting spoiled silly. So one more friend in the hotel wouldn’t raise suspicions.”

“Whatever happens, you can always count on me in case you need help – be it financial or whatever. Your husband is a lot older – maybe someday Karim will need an extra father figure or two to help out. Life can run on crooked lines – I don’t know what would have become of me if it hadn’t been for my Uncle Tom or Warren Langdon…”

“Merci, that’s very kind. I’m sorry it happened this way. Yves is a fine man, a very good husband. But he’s also not the most physical, most masculine man. That’s probably why I in the end found your big bulk so irresistible, didn’t think about this as a possible consequence. After all, I wasn’t that young anymore, it was only an occasional affair…. Yves and I always wanted a child, he was wild about the idea of a son … what should I’ve done when you literally shot me this chance?”

“It’s okay, it’s as old as nature; we men who don’t live monogamously run the risk of this happening. Knowing Karim has loving parents and a happy home to grow up in, that’s good enough for me. It’s your life, your decision … it’ll be nice if I’m allowed a very small part in it.” He leaned back and half-purred in contentment, because Nora had slipped her hand into his shirt and was now tenderly massaging his soft underbelly.

“It feels as if you never dieted, so big, so round, so much fat, so thick and heavy…”

“You know I love food, I can’t stand the pressure of dieting … I’ve probably gained everything back I lost in that diet by now. But I feel fine - I’m about at my heaviest again, like back when we made Karim….”

“So there couldn’t be a more perfect weight for you then…”
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:50 AM   #36
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27

“27 Christopher, 27,” Jerome raised his eyebrows. “You know we’re short 27 trained bakers and patissiers if you consider opening a bakery cum deli in the ‘Langdon Capital Residency’ comparable to that in the ‘Imperial’. We’re getting by, but currently it’s pretty rough during the holiday season. Don’t ask me how many weekly shifts I’m working…”

“I’m know that Jerome – and I highly appreciate it. Hope you find the new compensation system adequate. But it’s not like we’d be opening it tomorrow. Talk is of at the earliest end of next year, for the next holiday season as soon as the current tenant’s lease has expired and the necessary refurbishment has been completed…”

“Still that’s not much time to train such a big team parallel to the regular work of running this booming business…”

“You’re right. And I know that it’s particularly difficult to find fully trained bakers and patissiers. Finding qualified chefs that can be trained on the job, made to fit into our teams and philosophy is a lot easier – especially now given the unemployment rate. I get unsolicited job applications every day from really good people. But master bakers and patissiers with job experience…”

“Since you have so many outlets by now it’s time to start thinking on an industrial production line anyway,” Brett Norton interrupted, chewing with full cheeks. “I’ve actually got some tentative interest from a financial investor.”

Christopher took in the reactions around the table with interest. Jerome rolled his eyes, Claire pursed her lips in disdain and several others took on defensive postures. Officially this was only a short get together of the team leaders and chefs before their official Christmas party. He had wanted to use it to thank everybody for the great work they’d accomplished as well as give them some perspectives on what he was planning. Contrary to his expectations, it had turned into a serious business meeting, and the amount of dedication for their work it showed was heartwarming.

“Brett, I think we need to give you a little brush up course on our philosophy too,” he gave him a mischievous grin. “Why do you think those little cheese pastries you’re munching down right now taste better than those you might buy at the supermarket in a foil bag? Why are they so delicious that you can’t resist them – even breaking your promise to your wife you wouldn’t eat at the bakery anymore because we’re so fattening?”

“Good ingredients?” Brett defiantly popped another parmesan puff into his mouth as giggles and chuckles were smothered around the table.

“Good ingredients are one part of the story. The other is that they’re hand made. I’m an artisan baker and patissier, by heritage, training and conviction. I don’t believe in industrial production lines for baked goods. To run a bakery our size you of course need state of the art appliances to prepare, produce and bake everything. But it’s the baker’s hand that adds the final touch and taste, balances out slight differences that occur with natural ingredients and no additives. I want it to stay that way. That’s why we open an actual bakery in every new city where we have outlets. That will naturally limit our growth … but it will make sure we stay who we are and customers get what they want when they come to us: The very best fresh handmade quality.”

He was surprised by the round of applause that broke loose, making him blush.

“Impressive mission statement – I got the message,” Brett grinned. “We’ll find a way of financing the expansion that should be no problem. The turnover you offer right off the bat after opening is impressive, the concept with the deli bistro in combination creates added value…. so we’ll work that out. But where are you going to find the baking and patisserie experts?”

“I’m working on that. Here in the US, very little full scale training for baking and patisserie is still being done. It’s mainly crash courses as add-ons or specialization for trained chefs. You mainly find the full 2-3 year professional training programs, sometimes even with master programs that go up to 5 years on a broader scale in France, Germany, Switzerland and to a certain extent in Spain, for patissiers also in Belgium. I’ve looked into that, there are some young artisan exchange programs between the US and Germany, maybe we could qualify for that – and get maybe 4-5 trained people for a year who can again help us train new ones. Spain has a bad economic crisis right now, very high youth unemployment; you’d probably find people there who’d be willing to come over for a good job. Brett – can you maybe check if there’re any like green card options for closing the baker gap in the US workforce or so?”

“Sure, let’s find out what the patissier quota looks like these days….”

“What about exchange programs with the Netherlands?”

“Jerome’s asking because he’s sweet on Meret, wants her to come back. Sorry dude though, Meret can’t bake…,” Marcus chuckled and ducked as Jerome threw a pencil at him.

“Traditional bread bakery in the Netherlands is not that great… maybe Denmark for pastries though?” he mused to look at the door where Stephanie had just slipped in and smilingly blew him a kiss, leaning against the wall next to the already set up buffet.

She looked all sexy Christmassy tonight in the black with red dress she’d worn for the opening at the ‘Imperial’ – only much flashier with new red shoes, plus the added advantage that it now strained tightly over her expanded bust and showed a very appetizing expanse of cleavage.

“Christopher, are you listening? Oh no, you’re hungry, you’re eying the buffet…. Shall I fix you a plate?” Claire already had half gotten up, looking at him in questioning.

“No chance Claire, you can’t help with that one…. Christopher is only eying the Stephanie part of the buffet, imagining how he’ll arrange it as his personal dessert platter tonight,” Jerome ribbed him, sending everyone laughing. “Okay, let’s close the official session for tonight. Thank you for all your good ideas, here’s to a fabulous new year at Maynard’s Boulangerie and Deli Bistro. Call everybody else in, it’s party time!”


Although he was strongly looking forward to the first full family Christmas they were going to have in years, he was a little bit apprehensive of introducing Stephanie to Eugenie and have her meet the Stanberry family. The secret fear lingered that his mother might not like Stephanie or that she would detect some uncomfortable truth about her he had overlooked.

What he in contrast was very optimistic about was that Eugenie would love Stephanie’s grandmother Emily. After 20 minutes of being in the same room with her, he had understood why she was the center of Stephanie and Jason’s family universe and they were so emotionally close to her. She was an exceptionally warm-hearted, caring and empathetic woman who had the gift to make everyone feel safe and at home around her. Physically she strongly resembled Stephanie with a very plump build; a heart shaped face and full lips, though with lively blue-green eyes and very curly white hair. He had immediately liked her tremendously and shown himself only on his best behavior hoping she would see him as worthy of her granddaughter.

Opposite to Emily, Stephanie’s parents Kent and Jane were two of the dullest, most non-descript people he had ever met. Even though he had by now had several hours’ long encounters with them, he still was seriously afraid that he would pass them by on the street without recognizing them. Alone from working in hotel and food services, having to deal with people every day, he had always thought and received feedback that he was a reasonably good conversationalist. Kent defied all his attempts; he hadn’t been able to exchange even three sentences with him. At dinner or whenever he sat there in silence, a tall, stooped, lanky man with dark hair and eyes he’d passed on to Jason and Stephanie – sometimes it was easy to forget he was even there.

Jane was not a great conversationalist either – she spoke a bit more than her husband, but never participated in any discussions in the larger round. It seemed she only ever said something to complain or fuss around. She could’ve been a strikingly pretty woman with strawberry blonde hair, brown eyes and cherubic features – but her face was drawn and washed-out from what must be constant dissatisfaction. Her mother-in-law and children ignored her whining with calm indifference, but he had been first flustered that he might have done something wrong and then annoyed by her negative attitude. One of her obsessions was diets – she rejected her very feminine build with pronounced curves likes Stephanie’s, but was by no means fat, even slimmer than Stephanie when he had met her.
On one of their first dinners together at Emily’s, Jane had started on how badly she needed to go on a diet after New Year’s suggesting Stephanie should definitely join in and maybe he wanted…. But Emily had shut her up with a gentle: “Jane dear, this is a wonderful family dinner. I’m so happy we have everybody around the table. Let’s talk about diets some other time.”
As he found out from Jason, her other obsessions were a dirt-phobia making her manic in keeping the house pristine and shopping, with her being addicted to mail ordering, having an entire room in the house full of order boxes and the like.

Seeing these two sitting despondently at his tea and pastry table, he had a hard time comprehending how two lively, communicative, personable people like Jason and Stephanie could have such vacuous parents – or such a wonderful mother as Emily.


To make things easier for Stephanie and selfishly also himself, he was letting his mother stay at the hotel so their apartment would remain a retreat in case things went wrong. For ensuring a casual start, he picked Eugenie up at the airport alone, got her settled in the hotel to meet up for lunch at the bakery with Stephanie, so to say on neutral grounds. In the last minute he has decided against the deli bistro because Claire would be there – and his mother idolized Claire, who in turn was semi at-odds with Stephanie … he didn’t want to think those potential options for friction through….

“It’s funny, this bakery seems much more like home to me than the new outlet at the ‘Imperial’ does..,” Eugenie commented looking around as they settled at their reserved table. “Even though you’ve done a beautiful job in fitting modern elements with the historic appeal of the hotel there, my baby. Warren also seems most pleased with it, he showed me around.”

“I’m happy you like it – too bad you were in Prague on the opening. Oh look, there’s Stephanie already,” instant relief overcame him; because Warren was an issue he did not want to have to discuss with his mother. He had no clue how he could explain their falling out to her, feared her helplessly distressed reaction. But it was comforting to hear that Warren at least was fair enough not to let his anger with him out on Gigi, obviously had been as nice as ever to her.

Stephanie came towards their table a professional smile fixed on her face, which showed how nervous she was. She looked wonderful though, so fluffy with cheeks rosy from the cold winter air as he got up and wrapped her in a bear hug. Part of the particularly fluffy appeal she diffused was from her soft winter sweater; in part it must be the effects of the last weeks of holiday goodies. He didn’t know any more how much weight she had put on, she no longer talked about the numbers, but he had heard her curse to herself some time ago in the bathroom and surmised she must have passed the magic 2-0-0.

“Lovely to meet you, Stephanie my dear. I can totally see why Christopher calls you ‘my Nana’; you look like a true black Nana come alive.” Eugenie verbalized his thoughts as she taxed Stephanie from head to toe like she would a sculpture she wanted to calculate the insurance sum for. Her figure was again fuller than it had been in Paris, her buttocks had grown to the size of small pillows, making it irresistible not to grab into them as he laid his arm around her. Her thighs were so wide that her lower body had swollen to an amphora shape while her breasts resembled large grapefruits with a long curve of a belly starting underneath them. Not very big yet, but a permanent, all day long fixture by now, not only visible when she’d eaten well.

“Thank you Ms. Maynard. It’s my special pleasure to meet you as Christopher’s mother. He keeps reassuring me the Nana thing is something positive.” Stephanie had blushed dark red.

“But of course it is, my dear. Please call me Eugenie. The Nanas are the most prominent, artistically re-known female sculptures of the second half of the 20th century, are landmarks in modern art. Niki de St.Phalle was also ground-breaking for female artists in general – she’s the first one that actually made it onto the big budget list. My baby here always preferred sculpture to painting, come to think of it, even as a boy. That must be the baker heritage; it’s more related to sculpting than to painting. And he mostly had a penchant for late classical modern, so the Nanas suit his taste.”

He eyed Stephanie carefully, trying to gauge her reaction to Eugenie’s art deliberations, and was reassured to see her smile turn genuine. Preparing her for his mother’s odd way of approaching issues had paid off, letting her comprehend the assessment as the positive verdict it was meant to be. To ensure a smooth flow of the conversation, he waved the lunch plates he had ordered over.


With the goal to avoid any family pitfalls over Christmas, they had carefully orchestrated the day to make sure everybody got the attention they needed, and yet enough breathing room remained to avoid temperaments clashing and people getting fed up with each other. Christmas Eve he spent with Stephanie and Eugenie, going to an organ concert of Christmas music in the old cathedral church and having a quiet Swiss Raclette for dinner afterwards. On Christmas morning, Stephanie had breakfast with her family while he had his in peace and quiet with Eugenie, giving her his present, a lovely set of 19th century Turkish tea glasses he had found in Istanbul for her personal collection.

“My baby, they’re beautiful – hand-blown. With the turquoise, garnet red and deep blue – stunning. Now the wonderful teas you always supply me with will taste even better,” she hugged him tight. “I have a historic gift for you too…,” gesturing to a box, a poster role and what looked like a wrapped painting on the table.

“Where shall I start unwrapping?”

“Start with the large flat one…,” she pointed to the painting like object.

Picking it up, it felt like a rather heavy piece of metal, so it wouldn’t be fragile, still he pulled off the paper with care. “Oh… wow…” What he was holding in his hand was what had to be a ‘Maynard’s French Boulangerie’ metal store sign, slightly battered …. looked like 100 years old….

“Is it original … you had it made…?” he choked out after a minute.

“It’s original. Not from the original bakery in Cincinnati … but from the first outlet in Cleveland…,” his mother whispered through tears, making him wrap her tightly into his body. “Thank you so much … this is so wonderful … I don’t know what to say …. Where did you find it?”

“Sit down … look at the other things….”

With prudent eagerness he opened the poster roll to pull out no less than a dozen old advertising posters from Maynard’s French Boulangerie from maybe 1890 to 1945, worn, some rather faded, but all of them originals from the old bakery. Fingering over them, he didn’t care if his mother saw that tears were dripping out of his eyes too.

“Open the box….,” to find more leaflets, Christmas cards, price lists, sales specials, rationing plans from the war and the like from the old bakery in Cleveland.

“This is priceless Gigi, where did you find it? How can I thank you?” he sputtered.

“You’ve already thanked me by reviving the bakery, making it so prosperous… knowing the Maynard tradition will live on is all that matters,” she sniffed. “Please, I need some more tissues and a coffee..”

After they had settled on the couch with more coffee, he put his arm protectively around his little mother. “Tell me, where did you find this hidden treasure?”

“You know I’m definitely not a baker myself – I was the only one at home who couldn’t cook or bake. Odd since I was the only girl. Still the bakery and it’s tradition always meant so much to me … and when not only the business was gone, but also the archive….,” she swallowed tears and blew her nose. “I felt we’d lost everything – even though you thankfully were a wonderful boy and had made a copy of the entire archive. However … a copy can never be the original. When you started talking about reviving the bakery with Warren’s help …. Well I thought we might be able to find some relics of one of the historic bakery outlets …. like to physically carry on the tradition.”

“But where and how did you find them?”

“It was a stroke of luck …. But it mainly needed patience and the right contacts. Our collection naturally works with many antiquarians; some of them also do legacy management. I contacted all those I knew, asked them to brief their colleagues in the vicinity of the towns where the old bakery had outlets. Told them – using some of your pictures and copies as examples – what I was looking for, making it clear it was of more immaterial value for us as a family. Last spring, one of my contacts in Cleveland found them. An old man had died who had lived his whole life in his family’s historic home, his grandchildren wanted to sell the house because they needed the money. Clearing the attic, my antiquarian found the collection. They weren’t even the old man’s but his father’s, so the great-grandfather of the children selling the house. No wonder nobody knew anything about it. He had worked as a baker in our bakery for over forty years… had kept them for sentimental reasons…”

“It’s so wonderful …. I can’t tell you how much it means to me …. How much did they charge you?”

“After they heard our story, they didn’t want any money at all. But the grandchildren are scattered all over the country, so I’m now paying for tending of the grave of the old man and his father…,” Eugenie wiped the tears from her eyes.

“If I may … I’d love to hang the store sign over my desk at the bakery…?”

“That’s where it belongs!”



The first minutes of the meeting between his mother with the Stanberry clan were naturally a little tense: Kent looked like he would faint having to say ‘hello’ to so many people and Jason snickered audibly as he heard Eugenie call Christopher ‘my baby’ the first time, making Stephanie kick him hard against his shin so he bent over in pain. What helped was that Marcus and Claire arrived, with Eugenie being distracted by gushingly welcoming Claire – and the chance to unpack presents. They had agreed that the parent’s generation should not get presents for each other; plus he had insisted Eugenie shouldn’t be burdened getting presents for people she didn’t know.

To his surprise, she had brought an elegantly wrapped present for Stephanie. “You shouldn’t have Eugenie,” Stephanie opened it to find a set of hairbrushes in the shape of ‘Nanas’, making her laugh with delight and give Eugenie a big hug. “How did you know I have a hairbrush fetish? Did Christopher tell you? Thank you so much. They’re lovely, so colorful … and since I’ve now learned that Nana’s are something positive, as none female body mainstream as they may be….”

“You have beautiful hair – I can see you tend it well, Stephanie. I saw them in a small museum shop that specializes on interpreting art in ordinary products … and since I often heard Christopher call you ‘my Nana’ on the phone… I thought of you when I saw them. And a hairbrush is always useful.”

The suspense for him was almost unbearable as Stephanie picked up the small packet that contained his present for her. Since it was his first Christmas gift, he found it immensely important to get it just right and had agonized for weeks over it. For a long time he had leaned towards giving her another nice trip in form of a personal gift certificate – in the end he did go for the classic jewelry. Although he hardly even acknowledged it to himself, it bothered him that Stephanie always wore her double wedding band and the antique engagement ring …. and nothing from him. So he went through all the antiquarian catalogues of Eugenie’s he knew of to finally find an elegant pair of garnet earrings which matched her engagement ring – though it was ruby – in style and coloring very well. His secret hope was that she’d see it and wear them together, so she’d have some from him on her too.

“Oh…” was all Stephanie said as she had opened the lid of the small box, followed by a long and increasingly uncomfortable silence.

“They’re beautiful Stephanie!” Claire broke the tense quiet. “They match your ring! Isn’t Christopher great? Where can you find a guy who would consider looking for a matching piece of jewelry?”

“Indeed Stephanie, you’re so lucky! A lovely choice, they’ll suit you perfectly. Go and try them on,” Emily encouraged her.

“Hmmmh,” or something similar was Stephanie’s only reaction and the bitter taste of disappointment started to strangle his throat. This was not the reaction he had hoped for. She was already half way to the door to go to the bathroom when she turned to him and slid her arms around his middle to cuddle him, burying her face in his fleshy chest. Instinctively he pulled her tightly against him, surprised by the fact that she was shivering.

“Ooooh,” a few voices cooed before she reached up for a chaste peck and left the room wordlessly. Marcus and Claire thankfully started handing around champagne glasses and platters with little tid-bits so that no one really noticed that Stephanie stayed in the bathroom a long time and then came back with a frozen smile wearing the earrings.

Stephanie’s lackluster reaction to his gift dampened his holiday cheer considerably and he was glad he could busy himself doing the finishing touches on their Christmas dinner and setting the small Turkish style starter buffet on the table. Since he had wanted to be able to enjoy the meal in a relaxed fashion and it should be a traditional family menu, he had decided on a starter buffet, caramelized duck as a main course with an assortment of side dishes as well as a platter of Christmas goody variations as dessert.

Food and wine predictably cheered him again as did the easy going chatter around the table. Since they were nine people, and the fowls had been on the small side, he had made nine caramelized ducks letting Claire shake her head. Leaning back as he had finished his main course, loosening his suspenders and sliding his waistband further down below his stupendously puffed paunch, he shot her a devilish grin. “You seriously thought nine ducks would be too much?”

“I underestimated how much your habits have brushed off on Marcus…,” she slapped his visibly bloated gut to her right until he winced. Surveying the table, he saw that not only he and Marcus, but to his great surprise also Jason, who was just undoing his pants button under the table, had eaten two ducks – leaving the other three ducks for six people.

Stephanie leaned over to him with a sultry smile and gave him a deep kiss, pressing her hands in serpentines over his bloated stomach. “Merry Christmas! This is one wonderfully overstuffed holiday belly, isn’t it?” she purred almost inaudibly.

“This is the most wonderful family Christmas we’ve had in ages, my baby!” Eugenie crashed into the warm thoughts idling through his mind. “The only one missing is Warren – couldn’t he and maybe also Lea have come?”

This was the coldest shower imaginable and he saw Claire’s and Stephanie’s eyes simultaneously widen in alarm. “Umm.. no … Warren and Lea wanted to spend it down at the Langdon Beach Resort, see the new team there, get out of the cold…” he muttered, heaving himself to his feet and starting to clear the table, wanting to begin with the dessert platters to not have to discuss the issue further.

Placing the delicate chocolate lace on the mousse scoops as he had almost finished arranging the samples on the dessert platters, Stephanie leaned into him, gently squeezing his side rolls and murmured: “You’ll have to fill in your mother about you and Warren…”

“I know … but not on Christmas…,” he grunted angrily.

“Of course not on Christmas …. New Year’s resolution…,” she kissed him.


The dessert platters were mainly cleared in silence filled with little para-verbal sounds of satisfaction. Afterwards he found himself lounging on the sofa, his belly colossally stuffed and jutting far upward that he had trouble seeing over it. His stomach was so overstretched that every deep breath he took led to minor, thrilling spasms of pain in his sides. Resting one hand on the dome of his gut, he contemplated that this was one of his biggest shirts he was filling to burst … and that he had had to undo the waistband of his pants because elongating his suspenders wouldn’t do the job anymore. After the holidays he’d need to go get some suits let out, buy new shirts and jeans. So this had to be the fattest he’d ever been. Nevertheless it encircled him like the most comforting thick heavy blanket of warm, well-fed flesh, the perpetual light quivers and jiggles moving through his gelatinous mass slightly arousing him, he wouldn’t want to miss this sensation for the world.

As the evening wound down, Stephanie’s parents and Emily had already left, Claire got up, giving Marcus who was lounging in a similar comatose whale posture a hand to help him raise himself to his feet; he also tried to strain his muscles to somehow maneuver his weight into an upright position.

“Stay here and rest, Claire and Marcus are taking me back to the hotel,” Eugenie gently patted his stomach mountain. “You were always happiest with a full tummy, my baby, even as a boy. And I was such an awful mother … couldn’t cook you anything good.”

“You were and are a wonderful mother, Gigi. You always did everything for me, thank you so much. Especially for the fantastic Christmas present, I can’t tell you how much it means to me. Good night!”

Alone in their apartment again, he and Stephanie both let out a deep sigh of relief at the sudden quiet. “Okay, I somehow have to convince belly mountain to get up to clear the kitchen.”

“Sit back and digest. I’ll do that, you’re too stuffed,” she teased him with a quick kiss.

“No, I’ll manage. You’re really full too.” She had been wise to wear a stretchy dress with so waistband, but in the clingy material her well fed stomach bulged as if she were six months pregnant, making her lower torso take on a very round barrel shape.

“I’m fine, not as full as you are. You worked all day in the kitchen, let me take care of this now.” With a little groan of relief he stayed put and the next thing he was aware of was the sound of his own snoring.

Waking out of blurry, but obviously very pleasant dreams because he was painfully erect, he found Stephanie snuggled in his side having unbuttoned his shirt, pushed up his t-shirt and fondling his belly lovingly. “Does monster tummy feel better now after it’s digested a bit?”

“Monster tummy and everything else feels fat-astic… thank you,” he pulled her up for a long kiss.

“What a lovely Christmas…. your mother is really sweet, I understand now why you’re you. I might even get used to seeing my being a Nana as something positive. Thank you for the lovely earrings. You took such care in selecting them … I’ll have something of yours with me every day,” letting the last bit of tension fade out of him. “Here – I still need to give you your Christmas present …..”

His thick fingers fumbled a little with the intricately fastened ribbons on the flat box, but as he opened it, he saw two bows ties in black and dark red, two broad pieces of matching silk sewn in pleats and some thick silver cuff links with onyx on them.

“You said you needed to order a new tux since you’re back up to your heaviest…. And well I liked the idea of getting you tie and cummerbund to go with it…,”

Looking up at her in questioning he muttered: “Thank you. But gut mountain is way too big for wearing a cummerbund….”

Her fingers were very knowledgably digging themselves down his belly fold. “I don’t think so … it’s adjustable up to 84 inches. You push your tummy ahead of yourself with such pride …. I think it’ll look even sexier and more confident with a stylish cummerbund believe me!”


As he took his mother to the airport on December 30th so she could spend New Year’s with her old college friends as usual, he couldn’t restrain himself and blurted out the question that had been nettling him for days, where he hadn’t been able to detect any clue on how she might answer it in her behavior: “Gigi, how do like Stephanie?

“Why your Nana is a very sweet girl Christopher…” offering far less opinion and assessment than he was used to getting from her.

“No, I’m serious – what’s your opinion on her? Do you think we make a good couple?”

“You’re happy to be with her, aren’t you?”

“Hmmmh…,” he nodded. “I can’t see my life without her anymore….”

“Then she’s right for you. But be careful with your Nana, my baby. She still sees herself more as a widow and less as your lover and partner.”
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:51 AM   #37
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200

“200 ball park figure,” he felt his cheeks grow hot in a sensation akin to embarrassment, all the while not being able to smother a proud grin, sticking out the humungous curve of his gut as far as possible. “About how much I’ve put on since we met. The New Year’s scales read 536 – heaviest I’ve ever been.”

“It has an awesome quality…., there’s just so much of you…” Ingrid tilted her head adjusting one of her spotlights. “I’m so grateful you’re willing to nude model for me again for this project. With that expanse of body, you’re the perfect fit to take a unique look at physical details through the lens of the camera. Cara told me you’d grown a lot bigger, so I was intrigued to find out which options this might mean – but it’s even more than I expected. Sorry, I can’t resist…,” she leaned over and stroked the upper curve of his belly, resting in his lap. “Incredible, so round, soft yet shapely firm…. perfectly spheric… “

“I’ll admit it – today has been an indulgence day for me. I’ve been more or less eating all day, … wanted to present monster belly here in its prime for your photo shoot. It’s not normally this puffed up…,” he smirked sheepishly, patting it to watch the flesh jiggle. “What do I need to do right now?”

“Relax and wait. I need to get all spotlights and screens in position then we can start.”

Picking up the flyer describing her photo art project Ana-Tomic, he read the guide lines and glanced at some of the examples, like the one of a hair root taken with a fisheye lens. Or of an over bent knee in close up. Looking down at the numerous thick fat folds dividing and portioning his body, he understood why Ingrid saw many interesting perspectives for this particular photography project in them. To be prepared, to make his flab look as good as possible he had gotten a special scrub and oil massage yesterday with Namée, so his skin had a fabulous velvety feel to it as it stretched over his plushness. He had immediately agreed when she had called to ask him; not only because his mother had indoctrinated him that helping art and artists was a moral obligation, but also because he liked Ingrid’s pictures and was tickled by having his current vast bulk portrayed in all its grandeur. The only thing he had insisted on was doing it at home, not in one of the large meeting rooms of the hotel – he was a bit squeamish of hanging around half the day naked at his job. So now Ingrid had set up everything in his bedroom, spread a warm, dull red felt spread of the bed on which he was lounging as he heard the familiar click, click of the shutter release.

“Hey, what are you doing, I’m not posing yet!”

“Yes you are! You’re the reclining Buddha, the image of fruitful peace and tranquility.”

“Why does everybody keep comparing me to a Buddha? I could never do a lotus seat – my gut’s too big and my thighs are too fat…”

“Lotus seat is a technical detail. It’s your general attitude – you represent overabundant satisfaction… like nothing could perturb you…”

“My life currently is great, only positive challenges, personally, professionally - maybe you’re right..”

“Sit up and turn your back to me… I want to start with those love handles..,” as he did as told, Ingrid added. “Can you maybe hold your gut in on both sides up front with your hands, so the love handles are more pronounced? Great … that’s it! You have wonderfully symmetrical love handles…”

“Speaking of professional projects- I told you that I’m writing a cook book. Well, I got Jack Baines to do the food photography … but I’d love you to do the pictures with people in the kitchen, restaurant and such. I prefer your people pictures … you’re much better at capturing personalities …”

“Why thank you! Roll over on your belly and push out those ass cheeks….. Sure, I’d love to do that! Have you spoken to Jack about it already?”

“Yeah, I told him I wanted to ask you. He wasn’t thrilled, but he knows we’re friends … so he accepted it.”

“On your back now, flat and stick out that tummy as far as possible…, further, further … oh wow, what a dome…” she lowered the tripod to have it on belly level, squatting down on the floor, before climbing on the bed, positioning herself over him to do shots from above of his deep belly button. “Exhale! If I do that cook book shoot for you – do you see any chance of including Cara? She was so incredibly disappointed you and Jack left her out of the American Cooking feature… which turned out great. You found some gorgeous non-professional models and actresses to do a very convincing job.”

“Yeah, I know about Cara – feel a bit guilty. I don’t know about the cook book …but I also want to do new marketing materials for the expanded bakery and deli-bistro. Would you be up for that shoot too? And maybe we can have Cara as a well-known testimonial guest?”

“Sounds like a plan! I’ll talk to her … ouuh, and I think I have a good idea what kind of pictures to take of your bakery. Relax and roll on your side .. knee up, head on your left elbow, face toward the door. Bit more curve in the middle, raise your head higher….,” he started as she grabbed hard into his soft side, squeezing the fat into position. “Your fat roles need to stack themselves neater, not so sloppy…”

“I’ll keep that in mind …. start practicing a neat stack of fat roles..,” he had to laugh, starting those intense, satisfying deep fat wobbles of his stomach, so Ingrid again grabbed into his side to rearrange everything he was literally undoing by laughing. This whole experience was ridiculously enjoyable, rolling all his naked flab and delectably filled stomach around on soft felt, eyeing Ingrid’s great long legs and by now, after two babies, even bustier bust. He was mildly aroused and his member twitched more at her touch, but he didn’t care if she noticed, she knew him well enough, together with his flesh masses she’d make sure his modesty was preserved in the pictures.

“On hands and knees, let that belly hang…. hmmmh, can you strain you back a bit, make it more level and suck you gut in a bit, so it’s more globe like… yes, yeeeees hold it, perfect,” she grinned at him. “You really have the makings of a great model… you radiate that you’re comfortable in your skin … that’s the most important characteristic of a good model …. much more important than actual size or looks…”

“Being too comfortable with myself is what sort of made me overlook how huge I got…”

“You honestly wear the weight well, you’ve got the build for it … and as long as you can climb these 3 flights of stairs here with my equipment as fast as you did, you shouldn’t agonize.” Ingrid interrupted him. “You seem so at ease … and from what you said, your Stephanie is fine with it too…”

“She is, fortunately. She’s always had a big guy.”

“I’m really looking forward to meeting her tonight for dinner. Now stand up, in front of the bed, I want to do the big belly fold from the side … and then maybe a knee detail … or also your calves … they look stupendously strong …. it’s almost too bad you’re committed now …. and I’m a mother. You always knew how to work your bulk, it’d be interesting to find out how you work 200 pounds more,” she let her fingers tease down his belly fold along the inside of his thighs, giving him a hooded look.

“It matters to you that you’re a mother now?” he was surprised, had always credited her with what he had heard of very open minded Swedish morals.

“It makes all the difference in the world. When we had our thing, Brian and I lived together, but literally hadn’t tied the knot. Whatever happens as long as only consenting adults are involved is their business, as far as I see it. Having children or dependents who could possibly be harmed changes the whole picture – you have to protect them, think at least three times before giving in to selfish interests of your own. Fully doing my part to make sure my children keep their happy home is important to me,” resetting her photo screens.

“That’s a very responsible approach… you’re definitely a good mom….,” as his cell phone bleeped. “Stephanie texted, she’s running a bit late - will be here in about half an hour. Let me check on our venison crown roast in the oven.”

Looking at the two screen savers on his phone while stirring the sauce a little more, he smiled. One was a picture of Stephanie and him on the couch after Christmas dinner, she was resting her head on top of his super puffed belly, drowsily beaming into the camera, her own full belly cutely pushing her breasts up giving the entire picture a very rounded appeal.

The second was of Karim and him in the Jardin du Luxembourg, playing with the boats on the little pond. Nora had suggested this on his last day in Paris after their talk and it had been a very emotional experience, seeing the little boy smile at him as his pushed the small boats over. He looked at the picture at least half a dozen times a day … and it currently was his second conflicted communication issue with Eugenie.
While he dreaded to have to break the news – or have her find out any other way and then be forced to explain – of his falling out with Warren and the division of their business, he was dying of eagerness to tell her she was a grandmother. She would be so delighted, especially since Karim was the picture-book image of his son. Although knowing this would’ve been her best Christmas present, he had hesitated.

For one, he felt he needed Nora’s consent to let Eugenie in on the secret – he’d have to discuss that with her when he saw her next in Paris. It would be wonderful if Eugenie could maybe meet Karim too one day when she was on business in France…. The other, only half acknowledged reason was, he didn’t want to hurt Stephanie. As understanding and mature as she outwardly handled the issue, he had the feeling she harbored a massive subconscious resentment of the fact that he had a child while she hadn’t had one from Timmy. And hadn’t his mother explicitly warned him to be careful with Stephanie regarding such touchy issues?

“May I taste the sauce?” Ingrid had come in with her tablet in hand. “Look, these turned out great – if it’s okay with you I’d like to do a second round with another lens filter, go for a different effect..”

“Yeah, I’m game. Here – I hope you like the taste, it’s laurel and juniper berry – a bit tricky,” spooning some into Ingrid’s open mouth.

“What do you think you’re doing there?” Stephanie’s icy cutting voice caught him by surprise.

“Oh hi Stephanie, meet Ingrid …. Ingrid – Stephanie. We’re doing a small break in out photo shoot, I’m checking on our dinner….”

“Nice to meet you Stephanie … Christopher has told …,” Ingrid’s hand was extended in mid-air.

“You’re naked…. You’re naked with your ex-girlfriend in what I thought was our kitchen….”

“Sorry, I wasn’t cold … didn’t bother to dress for a short break in our shoot … we’ll…”

“I’m supposed to believe you’re naked with your ex-girlfriend for a photo shoot…?” Stephanie’s voice was getting shrill.

“I told you it was an anatomy project… you know Ingrid has done nude pictures of me…”

“You’re naked feeding your ex-girlfriend in our kitchen…”

“It was just a taste of the sauce….”

“Oh I know what food and feeding and being naked mean for you…. don’t act so harmless! Don’t think I don’t know how many beds you’ve been through! How stupid was I to believe you’ve changed! You lied to me before, cheated on your diet…. Of course it was going to happen again! Why did I ever think I could trust you again?”

“Stephanie calm down, it’s only a photo shoot … I’ve not cheated on you… hell I haven’t even thought about it…” he reached out to her.

“Oh forget it! Don’t touch me!” she was sobbing by now, beside herself. “Timmy would’ve have never done this to me! I could trust him blindly; knew I was the only woman in his life!”

“You are the only woman in my life!” he raised his voice in an attempt to get through to her.

“Yeah … except for the other woman here taking pictures of you naked…”

“Ingrid is a professional photographer she….”

“Who needs professional pictures of a 500 pound naked man – very credible story! You’re a cheat and a liar …. I don’t want to be just another microwave dish of yours….,” bawling she stormed out, making him lumber as quickly as possible after her.
Ingrid caught his arm on the landing: “Christopher, you can’t run after her onto the street …. you’re naked! Get dressed – I’ll try my luck explaining to her..”


The following days that turned into a week were the worst since his diet. Ingrid had had no success talking sense to Stephanie. He had taken a cab over to Jason’s house as soon as he was dressed, where his roommates had not let him in. As he had tried the next day, Jason had shaken his head too:

“Sorry Christopher, she doesn’t want to see you.”

“But it’s a misunderstanding … I did nothing, except not fully warn her I was going to be naked….”

“I don’t know which one of you is right. The story sounds crazy … but yeah … I also know how Stephanie can overreact. Give her a few days to calm down.”

But she hadn’t calmed down, hadn’t responded to his e-mails or his texts, had sent some flowers back …. oddly enough not the pastries… hadn’t answered the phone and the door of the house remained closed whenever he went there. Jason always shook his head and refused to talk about the issue when he saw him in the bakery’s accounting office. One day when he came home, her key was in the mailbox and her things had been cleared from his apartment. Finding a black lace panty of hers that had been forgotten in his dirty laundry he sank down on the wooden bench, buried his face in it and cried.

The numbness he dreaded was once more spreading through his insides, making him feel as bad as he hadn’t felt since the end of his diet. On one hand, he berated himself incessantly that he hadn’t been more clear to her that he would be nude modeling, explain it to her, show her the old pictures Ingrid had taken of his getting fatter again, making him awash with guilt for creating such an awful misunderstanding. On the other hand, he was hurt and resented Stephanie for being so unjust, unfair and also immature – after all, he hadn’t done anything really wrong – all her accusations were totally false!

This left him torn and clueless what to do next. Stephanie had her irrational episodes, lingering from the trauma of her Timmy’s death - he had been aware of that ever since his diet. Things had gone so smoothly lately, he thought she had gotten over them, turned a fresh page with the relationship with him. Now it seemed she still wasn’t over it – did he even stand a realistic chance in honestly making their life together work if the ghosts of her past refused to be banished? But he missed her so badly, he had never imagined his apartment could be so empty, everything seem so dull and cold – he just wanted her back.

Without him fully noticing it, the crisis also cut his appetite. One evening he hung around looking at pictures of Stephanie and himself on their travels last fall and plain forgot to cook himself dinner, waking up early next morning with a stomach that cramped with hunger. Sitting in his office trying to concentrate on several booking requests, he was surprised to have Claire come in at 2:45 with a tray: “Christopher, you didn’t come for lunch, you must be so hungry. Here’s my daily special – cabbage rolls with a mushroom-ham filling in a light cream sauce. A fruit salad … and two of your favorite tartlets to sweeten your day a bit ….”

“Thank you Claire, I’m not hungry…,” although his stomach growled in contradiction. Claire firmly stacked his papers, put them aside, set the tray in front of him and said: “Bon appétit!” with an expression of strict concern and did not smile until he had almost finished his lunch.

Namée once more kept him very busy sending him about his exercises and swimming routines so he would fall asleep exhausted at night. One evening he even snapped the laundry weight pulley because he overdid it with his exercises in his urge to yank away his frustration. Yet he felt lost and lonely, not able to share Brett Norton’s enthusiasm over the financing conditions they were offered for the ‘Langdon Capital’ project or the good figures of the past year. Nonetheless, he did not feel like company either, withdrew from Claire and Marcus who were trying to cheer him, or Jerome who made an attempt at engaging him by testing new patisserie specials for Valentine’s Day and Easter.

Particularly uncomfortable in this context was that Leonora – or short Lea – Langdon was in town for a few days on a surgeon’s conference. Normally that would be no problem, he liked Lea, had in the past years, with his close relationship to Warren, indeed half considered her as a sister and they were in regular, though not too frequent contact. Although she kept strictly out of Warren’s business dealings, scorned the hotels, he had the gut premonition that she would want to talk about his falling out with her father, maybe was even sent by him. Yet he could think of no only half way plausible excuse to not meet up with her….
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:52 AM   #38
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Getting ready to go out with Lea on her free evening he was nonplussed that he needed a belt to keep his new jeans up and the scale read 527 pounds, letting him wonder how he could have lost 9 pounds in only two weeks without even thinking about it – a feat he had never managed during his diet.
In the hotel lobby, she met him with a warm hug before they set out to ‘Garibaldi’s’ his favorite and only pizza place in town that made an authentic Italian pizza in a stone built, wood fired oven, since she preferred simple fare. Walking the seven blocks, he let her talk about her conference, her children’s ward and whatever, responding in monosyllables.

At ‘Garibaldi’s’ she urged him to order since he was the expert, letting him chose various antipasti and a pizza for each to share.

“I’m so hungry, I haven’t eaten since breakfast – the lunch boxes at the conference were uneatable ….,” Lea shuddered with a grin, piling antipasti onto her plate. “Your deli should’ve catered ….. tell me more how everything is working out for you with the second business at the ‘Imperial’?

Picking at his food without conviction, he tried to focus on her questions and give her halfway meaningful answers. He even overlooked that his pizza had arrived and he was expected to eat it.

“Christopher, go ahead, eat your pizza … it’s getting cold…”

“Huuuh? Oh yeah… ,” he cut a piece and slowly started chewing on the tuna and red onion.

“You can tuck in …. no need to start dieting in my presence,” Lea smirked at him.

“I’m not dieting … with this gut you wouldn’t believe me anyway if I said so,” he snapped at her. Seeing her raised eyebrows and dismayed expression, he registered that she had indeed meant it kindly. “Sorry, didn’t want to bark at you. My last two weeks have been pretty crappy …. And well, knowing I have to talk to you about Warren and my weight isn’t exactly an appetite stimulant ….”

“I’m not here to berate you… we’re as good as half-siblings, aren’t we? Calm down, here’s something good for the appetite … a big bite of this gooey gorgonzola Portobello delight…,” she pushed a nice piece with her fork to his mouth – then everything else she said was lost. As he glanced over her shoulder, he saw Stephanie stare at him, waiting by the door with Jason and two other guys. Meeting his eye, she gaped, turned abruptly and ran out the door.

Choking on the large bite of pizza, he ended up coughing hard, his eyes watering, so he couldn’t get up fast enough to go after her. Drinking the water Lea handed him, he buried his face in his hands with a small moan.

“Okay Christopher, if we want to salvage this evening, you finally need to tell me what’s really wrong…” Lea’s soft voice was right next to his ear, for she had slipped onto the bench next to him, was soothingly rubbing the back of his thick neck and his temples.
Looking down at her worried light blue eyes, which strongly reminded him of Warren’s he muttered: “Break up with girlfriend is the real issue. Big misunderstanding … she thinks I’ve cheated on her … which never happened. Now she sees me with you, another unknown woman, getting fed pizza …. major shitty coincidence…. don’t know how to explain that….”

“Well, the most basic thing you can do as a first step to remedying that: Send her a text, explaining who I am and that you have no incestuous tendencies,” her grin turned a little sly.

“Don’t know if that’ll help… but you’re right, best idea at hand. I’ll also send it to Jason, her brother, he was with her. He might at least read it before deleting it, after all, he works for me…,” after he had sent the text, he emptied his glass of red wine and poured more from the bottle. “Your turn, I’m paying attention …. talk to me about what you want to talk to me to.”

“Look, as I said – I don’t want to berate you. I’m not keen on interfering in any dealings between you and Warren. But … major but …. he’s my father. You’ve been a semi-brother for me the past over 10 years. It’s the family business …. even though it’s not my thing. So all people and things I care about – I at least want to try and talk to you. I’ve already made an effort with Warren, tell him the two of you need to get back together, sit around one table, patch up your differences….”

“Oh, so he sent you to talk to me…,” his voice turned sarcastic as he pulled out his tablet, which he had taken along to be prepared for exactly this turn of the discussion. “See for yourself - business is fine. I’m as fat as ever, so there’s no sense in me meeting him again since he doesn’t want to see me this huge. You can tell him I am what I’ve always been – a 527 pound healthy successful baker and hotel manager…, here - my medical files to prove the latter…,” thrusting the tablet into her hand.

Lea paged through the file automatically before she looked up and shook her head. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have read that … your medical files are none of my business. Bad professional habit that I’ll read any health chart you hold under my nose. I’m not here…,” seeing him open his mouth; she held her finger to his lips. “Let me finish first before you say anything more. Warren actually told me at least a million times he didn’t want us to meet at all. But I can tell he is badly hurt by falling out with you, misses you a lot. And your reaction now proves that you do to. Why can’t you guys get together, talk it over …. nothing happened that couldn’t be mended…”

As she didn’t continue, lapsed into an expectant silence, he finally said through gritted teeth: “He doesn’t want to see me unless I have weight loss surgery… and that’s not going to happen. You can’t talk me into it.”

“I don’t plan to talk you into it,” making him look at her in surprise.

“Christopher – as long as I’ve known you, you’ve been a more or less big guy. You’ve gotten bigger over the years – but you always seemed perfectly content with your weight, even now. Although I didn’t want to, I’m actually grateful you sort of coerced me to read your medical file, because now I can whole heartedly tell Warren you’re a big healthy guy and you’re regularly monitoring your health.” she slapped his belly playfully.

“Aren’t you as a doctor going to give me a lecture for being over 500 pounds?”

“Lectures rarely contribute to good health. There are studies that show constant guilt has the effects of a psychological poison on your body, increases the propensity for auto-immune diseases. The longer I’ve been working as a doctor, the more I get the feeling that we know very little about what determines a person’s individual health. Why do so many of my little patients die that have a type of cancer with only a 20% mortality rate – while many more than to be expected with an official 5% survival rate pull through? Why do vegan runners collapse with a heart attack at 45 – while there are bacon-eating, whiskey-drinking smokers that live easily to 95? Medical statistics and probabilities are highly inaccurate science because they don’t stem from controlled lab experiments, real life tends to intervene. In your case – your medical stats are fine, I know you get quality nutrition, a maybe abundant, but balanced diet. Walking here with you showed me you’re in good shape; you have the physical stature to carry the weight. You’ve work in life you love, that fulfills you. Apart from this little crisis you seem satisfied with your lot in the relationship department. All that put together are excellent pre-requisites for a healthy life. You have your reasons for wanting or needing to be as heavy as you are, it’s part of your very individual life balance. You’re fine as long as you can keep up this balance for yourself.”

He bent down and gave her a long sincere kiss on the cheek. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome …. I’ve been trying to explain that to Warren too, so far with little success…”

“See, what should I do then? I offered him I’d diet, but not with surgery or that torturous program with that awful Wershowitz guy…”

“Yeah, I’ve heard about him…. he’s the classic diet fascist, does a lot with pills and surgery…,” Lea sighed. “I can relate to what you’ve been through… remember my fight with Warren over going to med school? Have him cover the tuition beyond my scholarship?”

“Yeah, I remember that … that was around when we met..”

“Exactly. Warren is in essence a very well-meaning person … look at how he took you in after that happened with your uncle and bakery…”

“I know that. I always was, still am so grateful for all he’s done for me …. That’s why I was so shocked he suddenly became so harsh, so demanding over something as … hmmh … trivial as my weight…”

“And it hurt so badly because it was such a personal thing, something that’s just part of you, didn’t it?” As he could only swallow hard and nod, Lea stroked his cheek. “It was the same with me, becoming a doctor was the most important thing, what I wanted my life to be all about. Having to fight with him over what everybody considered a perfectly good career choice for me was unnerving. The downside of Warren’s being nice is that he’s a terrible conformist; everything has to fit into the regular pattern, please no walking out of line. Jim Warren and I are supposed to be hotel heir and heiress, that was the only acceptable destiny for us. You’re only a good hotel director if you weigh max. 250 pounds. My mother had to play lady of the manor for status reasons, not run her own normal household like she would have preferred. She hated having live in help, wanted more privacy. He has little understanding for anything outside of the mold….”

“Well I’m not going to let myself get pressed into his mold!”

“You don’t have to. You’ve stood up to him, done your own thing, that’s good. But the two of you need each other … for personal and business reasons. Don’t you miss having him to talk to, like right now while you’re so busy expanding your business?” Lea had hit a sore point there, because although he was getting used to it, he did miss making business plans with Warren, so he hung his head and shrugged. “And he misses you so much too. He misses the combination of son and business partner you’ve been for him all these years…”

“He can’t be seriously missing me! He didn’t even come to the bakery opening … which was asked for from a purely business decent manners perspective. I even went up to his office with some samples….” He was astounded by how bitter he sounded. “And he has Jim-Warren as a son, doesn’t need me…”

Lea went on soothingly rubbing his back. “I know how that feels …. he arrived too late for my graduation from med school, because he couldn’t make up his mind to give in, admit he was wrong, show he was proud of me in time.”

“Oh … I didn’t know that. Since he traveled to your graduation, I always thought he had attended.”

“Only he and I know that he didn’t make it … and now you. Mom was already too sick to tell her. Do you know what he’s currently doing? Janice told me … and I checked myself when I was there three weeks ago. He goes down to your bakery every day, hangs around endlessly, staring at that picture wallpaper of the opening you still have up and then procrastinates in choosing a pastry. Never goes a day without one…”

“And what?”

“Come on, you know what that means! He’s somehow trying to stay in touch with your world.” At a loss for words, a lengthy silence fell between them, until Lea took an audible breath. “Jim-Warren is a difficult issue…. He’s my brother … in part Warren can be blamed for how screwed up he is because he put too much pressure on him growing up, expecting him to perform well. But only in part … Jim- Warren has a combination of character traits that make dealing with him frustrating, for himself and others. And he doesn’t even try to change that….”

“Well, that’s not the issue between Warren and me…”

“To a certain extent it is. Jim-Warren is viciously jealous of you, always has been. The few times a year he and Warren meet, he goes on and on bitching against you. Naturally mainly about your size – simply because that’s the only argument he has against you, next to the fact that you usurped his position with Warren…”

“I did no such thing!”

“No, of course you didn’t, I know that! All you did was be yourself, work hard and with enthusiasm for the hotels, your and Warren’s common life project. Jim-Warren is too self-obsessed to realize that you just did the work he was supposed to do …. Laziness is one of his worst characteristics. Apart from that, he simply doesn’t have your talents. He can’t compete against you, in no field. Actually he should be as grateful to you as I am – you’ve absorbed a lot of parental pressure and attention coming from Warren the last 10 years, left us more room to breathe. For me it made a huge difference. If Warren could customize and mail order his ‘dream child’ – it would be you at maybe half your weight. Seriously! It’s really mean to say so as a sister – but if I had to choose between you and Jim-Warren as brothers … you’d be my choice too. I guess things sort of boiled over when Jim-Warren found out what Warren was planning with the partnership of the hotel….”

“Oh, you know about that?” He was profoundly embarrassed; it was as if Lea had caught him red-handed trying to steal her inheritance.

“Yes I do, and I approve whole heartedly.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Warren talked to me before he made you the offer. He knows I have no interest in the hotels, but he does by now see me as a sensible adult. I think it’s a good plan … you’ll make the most of the hotels. I trust you … like should either Jim-Warren or I have off-spring that comes with the hotel-gen that you’d later consider that, no matter which set up is decided on today.”

“Stop it! You make me sound too good!” Blushing crimson he guiltily thought of his newest plans for opening his own hotel.

“Accept it – you’re a good guy! Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.” She pinched his red cheek. “But Jim-Warren of course couldn’t stomach it, also because he in contrast to me wants to get his hands on the money. So he upped the bitching against you …. and then probably 2 or 3 other people said something about your weight, pushing Warren’s conformity buttons. Made him come up with the idiotic idea that you could inherit the hotels if you went on a diet.”

“With my weight, he’s right that losing some is a good idea. What I don’t get – why does he insist on surgery? Why wouldn’t he let me continue with the diet at my pace, with a set up that worked for me? I would’ve tried real hard … probably would’ve somehow gotten there … but now…”

“That idea spectacularly backfired on both of you, indeed. You most likely have a diet trauma, probably can’t face the issue anymore, isn’t that so? And Warren lost you over it, something he regrets infinitely even though anybody will have a hard time making him admit it. Once he’s in conformity drive, he’s easily pushed all the way. That’s what Wershowitz most likely accomplished.”

He looked at her helplessly. “What do you want me to do then?”

“For your own sake, for Warren’s sake, for the hotels sake, for my sake, for your mother’s sake – I met her in December, you’ve left her in the dark haven’t you?” leaving him only to give her an ashamed nod. “Please make a few more serious efforts to get back in touch with him, okay? It’s not going to be easy – but overtime he’ll see that admitting his mistake isn’t as bad as you being gone for good. I actually have the gut feeling that he’s starting to thaw… maybe he’s even seeing someone for the first time since Mom’s death. Janice thinks so too, doesn’t know any details though either. Will you try and get back on reasonable terms with Warren, please?

Sensing how sincere her request was, he nodded and shook himself a bit. “I’ll try… jeez … I don’t know where to start with all the things I have on my plate. First deadline for my cook book, training new bakers for bakery in the ‘Langdon Capital’, planning for the bakery and deli there, patching things up with Stephanie… .”

“I can tell you where to start – patch up things with your Stephanie first. Otherwise you’ll be preoccupied and nothing will work out! Before you do that, we need to order a new pizza – these leftovers here are cold by now!”
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:56 AM   #39
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60

“60 recipes less than you have planned – seriously! 180 are way too many for a picture cook book with an actual eating story line as you have it planned,” Janey Smithson, the editor from the publishing house he was negotiating with for his first cook book looked at him skeptically over her reading glasses.

“Well … I do want to write a comprehensive overview of my style of cuisine…,” he looked through the exposé and the recipe teasers he’d submitted. “So I thought 30 starters, 30 vegetables dishes, 20 each of meat, poultry and fish as well as 30 desserts and 30 baked goods would be a good balance. This already is only a small excerpt of my collection. Alone our bakery owns 6230 recipes.”

“I understand coming up with a rather limited selection is difficult … even I would have a hard time choosing … they all sound delicious ….mmmh …. “Oyster mushrooms in vermouth sauce with home-made ravioli with a ham-leek filling” or “guinea fowls with a basil-polenta stuffing” … just reading them makes my mouth water!” She smiled at him. “Do you what: I’ll have our lay-outers try different versions, depending on the number of pictures, and then get alternative calculations for the print. With a cook book with pictures and such you do have various options of how to go about it. Would that be okay for you?”

“Sure … book printing is something I know nothing about. I know more about marketing materials and such, since we do that regularly.”

“If you want to include so many recipes, we’ll have to see whether and how we can get a picture for every single one. You can cook respectively bake them for a photo shooting, or not?”

“Of course I can. They’re all well tested recipes. One ground rule: No food designers! I don’t want nail polish on my meat to make it look glossier …. or hair spray on the lettuce …”

“But you need certain fixes to make things look better on two-dimensional print…”

“No, absolute no-go for me. I know how to make a dish look good without that type of make up – and I’ll write an explanation on that aspect of my cuisine philosophy in the introduction.”


His cook book project was currently the last thing he was interested in pursuing, but he had to move on with it since Brent Norton had already started the contract negotiations. Cooking and dressing showy dishes to have then photographed for some cook book seemed the most irrelevant thing imaginable. At the moment he was happy if he got through his days alright and managed to eat at least one sensible meal. His life would not return to normal until he got back in touch with Stephanie – and he still was having trouble finding a way. She didn’t react to any form of communication; Jason had not let him in their house again … so in his desperation he decided to wait in a car in front of her door. Maybe he could get her to listen to him; maybe they could have dinner together … even though it could also be very embarrassing if she turned him down on the street…

After the second evening of waiting in front of Jason’s student house and not daring to get out of the car when Stephanie came home, he arrived at the bakery the next morning in a horrible mood. Being cooped up on a car seat for two evenings triggered back pain, resulting in his sleeping poorly. He also had a head-ache, was hungry but had no appetite, making him cranky. Hoping that more coffee would revive his spirits, he got himself a plain brioche and headed up to his office. In passing the chocolaterie workshop, he saw the sign announcing today’s praliné making course and had a light bulb moment: He and Stephanie had given Emily a voucher for this course as a Christmas present! She’d be here this afternoon – maybe he could talk to her about Stephanie, asking her to arbitrate on his behalf, get Stephanie to at least listen to him in person.

Emily halted a bit in her pace as she saw him waiting by the door on entering the bakery, before putting on a smile of greeting: “Hello Christopher, how are you? Nice of you to meet me for my course. Are you doing it in person?”

“Pleasure to see you Emily. No, Jerome is doing the course – he brought back some neat new ideas from his Christmas vacation in Belgium,” he smiled too and took a deep breath. “Emily, please… I don’t want to burden you…. but … well … I need to talk to Stephanie. It’s all a big misunderstanding, I did nothing wrong. I really need her to listen to me. But she won’t answer the phone, and Jason won’t let me into the house … and I don’t know somewhere on the street isn’t a good idea….”

“You’d like me to intervene on your behalf – get Stephanie to talk to you?” she looked at him searchingly, making him nod until his cheeks wobbled. Lightly rolling her eyes, Emily sighed: “I’ve been fearing that you’d turn to me sooner or later. That my darling grandchildren would let me do the dirty work of giving you a few insights.”

“Ummm … would you talk to Stephanie for me?”

“I need to talk to you about a few things first. But before that I want to enjoy my praliné course. Would you have time afterwards?”

“Sure. May I take you to dinner? What would you prefer? Deli bistro? Hotel restaurant? Shall I cook for you? Somewhere else?”

“Deli bistro sounds fine. I won’t be hungry after making pralinés, only need a small hearty bite.”


Because of the pouring rain, they took a cab over to the deli bistro and he let Emily talk about how much she had loved the course. In the bistro, he ordered the 3-course dinner menu because he was seriously hungry despite feeling unable to swallow while Emily took the Spanish artichoke salad with hearty Iberico ham.

“Christopher, tell me your version of the story,” Emily urged him.

“I know it sounds stupid…,” he reiterated everything from his former affair with Ingrid, her job and the art project, the misunderstanding, that he hadn’t thought anything about being naked.... ending with a sigh: “I can understand Stephanie is hurt and angry. But can’t she see her accusations are false? I mean, I knew she was coming, was expecting her, was cooking dinner for all three of us. Doesn’t she at least credit me with the brains to have gotten dressed if I had something to hide?”

“That’s a very good logical point. Have your told Stephanie this?”

“Yes – via text, e-mail, voice-mail and Jason.”

Emily took a long sip of wine before asking him gravely: “Christopher, what do you know about Stephanie’s relationship with Timmy?”

“Not much,” he was slightly startled. “She loved him very much; they’d spent their entire life together. She’d never had another man in her life, so she’s still struggling with adapting to … yeah … having anyone else…. and she misses him, probably regrets that they didn’t have children…”

“What makes you believe the latter?” Emily sounded genuinely surprised.

“Ummm, she more or less told me so….”

“Hmmmh… what about you? Why are you interested in winning Stephanie back?” He was taken aback, making her hastily add. “Christopher, we haven’t known each other for very long. She’s my granddaughter – I simply want to find out a little more what motivates you, what your take on relationships and commitment is….”

“Ehhh… I’ve only had one long term committed relationship so far, 6 years during my apprenticeship and college,” he decided honesty was the most convincing policy. “I believed that would end in marriage, but we broke up over the bakery accident and my uncle’s death. Since those events coincided – ummm – I guess I didn’t have the nerve to look into serious relationships for quite a while. I was so busy starting a career, rebuilding our bakery … well … I had a few affairs and friends-with-benefits arrangements … “ Swallowing he looked her in the eye. “But there’s nothing to be really ashamed of. I’m not overtly promiscuous; I’m not a womanizer …. I’m able to commit.”

“You think Stephanie is the right one for you to commit to?”

“Yes ma’am, I do. From the moment she walked into my office …. there was something between us…. Even though she came in the guise of my worst enemy, my diet consultant…,” he gave her a weak grin. “That’s what took us so long to get together …. yeah … plus Stephanie’s issues. I thought she was married for months …. then found out that she was still suffering from the trauma of sudden widowhood …. Lately I had the feeling she was finally over it, we were turning into a very good, normal couple….”

“I did too, actually. Her reaction on Christmas to your gift of the earrings left me very hopeful..”

“Honestly? I wasn’t … well … I thought ….”

“Christopher, a few months ago she would’ve dropped the earrings and ran out sobbing. That she controlled her conflicted feelings, saw the earrings for what they are …. a lovely, very considerate gift was a huge step. You did everything right – you obviously put much thought into it. And you built her an exceptional emotional bridge, making it the visibly right thing to do to wear something from you and from Timmy together. Very wise.” Her praise made him blush.

Emily’s salad and his main course came and they ate in silence for several minutes. “The earring gift and meeting your mother actually convinced me you’re the right guy for her. I’ll admit, being as big as you are … I was doubtful. I feared she would be in for another endless weight and diet drama, the issues that go with that, again. But having a single mother, being overweight and loving Stephanie are the only things you and Timmy have in common. If my darling Stephanie happens to love and want a big, cuddly body – it’s fine with me. For you she started working on rationalizing her issues, it looked very promising. This absurd misunderstanding came in the worst moment…”

“I know, I’m telling myself that 396 times a day… it’s my fault, I hadn’t thought it through…”

“Don’t berate yourself … such shit plain happens in life,” she chuckled. “Objectively, it’s a pretty funny misunderstanding, a true bad comedy moment. I had a hard time not laughing when Stephanie and Jason were all upset in telling me what happened.”

“The outcome has sort of changed my sense of humor …,” he muttered darkly.

“Oh, one day you might tell your grandchildren about it laughing too. You want children, don’t you?” she eyed him keenly.

“Yes, I do….. I can see myself as a father….,” his voice fading with embarrassment, he couldn’t tell her about Karim, maybe she’d doubt his sincerity then….

“Good. I think I need to give you the bigger picture of Stephanie and Timmy’s relationship.” She kept coveting something behind his back, making him check.

“Oh, the cheese cart…. Would you like a cheese platter as dessert?”

“I really shouldn’t …. All those pralinés…. I try to be a bit sensible about indulging myself…”

“I’ll order one and we can share …. I’ve been a good boy about indulging myself today.”

Arranging the cheese on her plate, Emily continued. “You know the basics of Timmy’s and Stephanie’s relationship and marriage. Naturally becoming a widow at 30, losing a loved person you’ve spent almost your whole life with is a traumatic experience. Especially since it came as the shock of an accident, it was no fatal illness where you do have some time to adapt emotionally. So it takes a while to overcome that…”

“I know that. I’ve tried to make it clear to her that I understand; she can tell me if she’s not comfortable with something. I’ve been through that kind of shock; I can relate to how long it takes.”

“That’s one reason why you’re the right guy for her. The normal, natural process of mourning is only part of Stephanie’s issue. Another part – as she might have told you – is her lack of experience with establishing an adult relationship. Since Timmy seamlessly filled the position of playmate, over serious date to husband in her life … she’s still a bit stuck in a teen approach to her own emotional matters. Worst though is Stephanie’s third issue regarding Timmy’s death: It’s guilt.”

“Guilt? What for?”

“Guilt … which over time seems to be growing into something of a guilt complex. Guilt for not having loved Timmy enough, for having wanted to separate from him before the accident.”

His eyes almost popped. “Stephanie wanted to leave Timmy? Nobody even hinted at that… I can’t believe it…”

“Believe me …. it’s true. Who should’ve told you? Stephanie can’t own up to it herself. I’m most likely the only one who knows and understands the full tale. You’ve met my son and daughter-in-law ….”

“What about Jason? He never uttered even a half syllable…”

“Jason didn’t really grasp the dynamics of their marriage; Christopher … in the consequence doesn’t comprehend what’s going on inside Stephanie now. It’s a bit of a problem that she started to rely so heavily on him, for both of them. So you taking on most of that role in the past half year was an excellent development.”

“I don’t understand…”

“Oh, it’s no big mystery. Jason was simply too young – he’s 10 years Stephanie’s junior. For him Timmy was his grown up buddy all his life, the big brother he didn’t have, hero worshipped him in that role. Couldn’t from his position and age see Timmy’s deficits as partner and husband. The last years, as their marriage was cracking, Jason was busy ending high school and in college – so he had neither the time nor was he mature enough to understand the complexity of their problems. Can we have some more if this delicious sweet wine?”

“It’s coming,” he signaled to the waiter. “What went wrong between Stephanie and Timmy?”

“Please get me right, I cared very much for Timmy. He was like another grandson to me, albeit an emotional problem case. He was a gentle, well-meaning person … but if you ask me if he was the husband I wanted for my granddaughter…. the honest answer would be ‘no’.” Not knowing what to say, Christopher considered Emily in questioning, willing her to go on.

“It wasn’t good for neither Stephanie nor Timmy to be so totally fixated on each other. She started to notice that in college… but since both of them stayed close to home, spent their weekends together, their bond stayed strong. Sometimes I wonder what would’ve been if we’d lived in a different state, not one with the highest concentration of finest colleges and universities at our door-step. Going out of state, further away from home wasn’t really necessary – and unwise for tuition reasons. Stephanie definitely saw that life might offer broader options when she was away in Switzerland for the four months of culinary school. That though was the only time Timmy got his act together was proactive in their relationship for fear of losing her to the outside world. He refurbished his grandparent’s house beautifully, had it all ready as home for both of them when Stephanie came back … that sort of sealed the deal, they got married. ”

“Ummm …. What happened then?” he asked as Emily paused at length.

“When Stephanie talks about Timmy, what kind of image comes to mind?”

“I don’t know … she never talks much about him…. The last thing I of course remember was that she yelled at me that Timmy would never have done that to her, running around naked with another woman in the house…,” he grinned ruefully.

“Lord no, that’s unthinkable… he was unbelievably inhibited…,” Emily shook her head lightly laughing. “So what kind of person do you think he was?”

“I can’t tell …. Stephanie and Jason both never said much … well … the little she told, it often sounded more like she was talking about a diet patient or so…. less a husband or lover.”

“Excellent observation. In their relationship Stephanie always had the upper hand, was the one doing, deciding things, taking care of Timmy. He had a host of issues – not only was he ashamed of his size, he was extremely insecure, clearly had agoraphobia which escalated after he left school, clung to her for everything …. all that got considerably worse over the years. Over time Stephanie realized that she’d married a patient and not a partner – something she wasn’t willing to handle long term. Especially since he didn’t make an effort beyond occasional diets to address his problems. So you understood correctly, Timmy did everything for Stephanie – in the house, the garden, when she said she liked some product, he’d immediately order it. She truly was the one and only for him. Yet as their marriage progressed, it became more and more evident he wasn’t an adult partner. He unwillingly held her back from discovering new things, going places, experimenting in her life. Now this might sound very cynical, but in my memory he mainly filled the positions of patient, another little brother, janitor and gardener in Stephanie’s life.”

“That sounds a lot less like ‘love story’ than what I’ve understood so far. All that just because he was fat? I know, while dieting, all the awful things people would say to me … but still … I mean Stephanie must’ve been very supportive?”

“You’re absolutely right. Bottom line was that he had a host of real psychological problems, but he never saw beyond the one of his weight. That’s why I was so relieved to meet your mother. Timmy’s mother ironically also is rather eccentric, a sort of late hippy, hooked on the world of wannabee rock stars …. wanted Timmy to be a rock star too, claimed his unknown father had been one. He was everything but a rock star … the poor boy got pushed around a lot, didn’t know where he belonged. Stephanie and our family were sort of a haven for him. Your mother has a very particular outlook on life too – but that doesn’t seem to have prevented her from loving and caring for you, I could tell that. She and your uncle gave you all the love, support and stability you needed to become a confident, content, resourceful man. When I saw what she got as your Christmas present … that’s a very special family bond, preserving and developing your heritage. You’ve received a good foundation in life.”

He felt his cheeks grow hot. “Yeah … I guess I have. My mother – despite her peculiarities – is a wonderful person. I wouldn’t trade her for the world…”

“When Stephanie came home from your recent trip to Istanbul and Paris – I’ve never seen her happier, she was glowing. It seems you’re able to give her whole dream package: seeing the world, having someone who not only she can give support to, but in turn gives her support back, mutual understanding in professional questions, plus a cozy home with emotional and also physical satisfaction.” Images of their hotel bedroom in Istanbul flashed through his mind making him blush crimson and Emily smirk, patting his hand. “The latter is nothing to be embarrassed about, even grandmothers know that. But that probably let her strong feelings of guilt start simmering again.”

“I still don’t understand what she feels guilty about…”

“She feels guilty that Timmy had the accident and died shortly after she had told him she was going for an interim separation. Stephanie had realized that being supportive just let Timmy nurse instead of tackle his issues. She hoped by taking a break from their marriage he would wake up, see he needed to do something, maybe get active again like when she was away in Switzerland. She’d planned to go to Texas for a year, on a special work-study program. The accident happened only like 10 days later…”

He was shaken, did not know what to say. “But it was an accident … wasn’t it…..?”

“Yes, it was an accident. An investigation by the insurance showed that. Both the driver of the fork-lift and Timmy had omitted security requirements, seemed to not have being paying full attention to what they were doing. So it could have happened under any circumstances. But it seems Stephanie can’t be objective about the issue till this day….”

A long silence fell between them, Emily spreading some cheese on a slice of olive ciabatta.

“What can I do about that … it sounds hopeless…. Do I need to give up on her?” he sounded as helpless as he felt.

“The guilt is something Stephanie herself needs to address and overcome. She needs to be honest to herself. Like with the baby issue. She and Timmy had agreed on having kids. It must’ve been a little over a year into their marriage though, when she decided he was not ready to be a father, if he already had so much trouble being a husband. Without telling him – or anybody, only me much later – she went back on the pill. Then she had a phantom pregnancy after the accident – probably from her very conflicted emotions. Steph loves children, wants some of her own … so it might be she regrets not having one of Timmy’s as a memento of his….,” Emily sighed. “As with all emotional conflicts, none of this is logical. Most of it happens inside a person’s head. And Stephanie has the unfortunate habit of mentally digging her teeth into issues, chewing on them like a dog does on a bone …. it often takes her too long to see that….”

“So what can I do?”

“You need to talk to her in person. Apologize in person, one time – no endless ‘mea culpas’, there’s no reason for that. Tell her what you told me – you love her and see a future for the two of you…”

“When and how can I talk to her? I don’t want to do it on the street … Jason won’t let me in…”

“I’ll talk to Jason, tell him to be objective and let you in to see Stephanie. And I’ll talk to her, make her go back to her young widows support group. She needs to start seriously working on moving on again …. she shouldn’t ruin her future by not letting go of the past …”
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:57 AM   #40
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Not coming up with anything better, he started experimenting with new gateaux as a present for Stephanie. Finally he decided on a chocolate bisque role gateau with cappuccino café liquor filling and chocolate coffee beans, hoping she’d accept it. Before going to see her on a Saturday afternoon, he wished he could have a nice 5 course meal before going, talk to her on a comfortingly filled belly, but he literally couldn’t stomach it. Pulling his belt a notch tighter, he moodily thought what would’ve been if he’d discovered that being love-sick made him lose weight earlier, although he didn’t like currently feeling as lousy as he had half-way through his diet.

Standing in front of the door of Jason’s student house, he took about a dozen deep breaths before he rang the bell. Jason opened, hastily chewing down a ‘pain au raisin’, holding a Maynard’s paper bag in his hand: “Hi … come on in … sorry, Jerome was too generous with the leftovers again…,” his voice was muffled by a mouth full.

“Yeah .. I can see that …. and where it’s going to…,” he gave Jason’s belly a slight slap. If he had gained 30 pounds while being together with Stephanie, she had put on maybe 40 … then Jason must have added over 50 since he started working for the bakery. With the typical Stanberry build, he’d been chunky before; now fat was not exactly an unfair adjective. His cheeks were full apples, his chin had doubled and his swollen belly peeked very round out of the bottom of a too tight t-shirt, hanging heavily over un-buttoned jeans. “Now I understand where you built up the appetite for eating 2 ducks at Christmas….”

“Haha… clear case of pot calling the kettle…,” Jason grinned. “You know only people with ultra-thin genes like Claire or Jerome can stay skinny around all the good stuff you produce…,” before he turned serious. “Grandmums told me to let you talk to Steph. She’s not doing well, she was so much happier, when you were together. Do your best … you’d be a good brother-in-law … not only because of the baked goods…” reaching into his bag to pull out an apple cinnamon donut and leading the way to Stephanie’s room, knocking on the door. “Steph … here’s a very important visitor for you….”

Entering Stephanie’s room, he was once more uncomfortably surprised by how shabby it and the entire house were. Why his broom closet was neater and more stylish … and it made his throat tighten to see her here, in baggy old gym clothes, her hair scrunched back, pale and drawn, so longer the fulsome, blooming Nana she had been in the weeks before their row.

“What do you want?” she sounded defensive and wrapped her arms around her knees.

“I … I … want to apologize, want to tell you how sorry I am for not explaining the nature of the photo shoot better. And I made this new cake for you….”

“Okay, I heard your apology. You can give Jason the cake in going out … he’ll certainly eat it…”

It was like a slap in the face, but he closed his eyes, took two deep breaths and asked as calmly as possible, trying to make it sound more light-hearted than he felt: “Do you accept my apology? Do you believe me that nothing happened? You have no reason to be mad at me except maybe bad communication in combination with indecent exposure.”

Looking up in surprise, she met his eye for the first time since he had entered – only to shrug and mutter: “I don’t know what to believe anymore ….”

“Why don’t you know what to believe?”

“You’ve lied to me before…”

“No I haven’t, I told you Ingrid was a former affair of mine…”

“You lied about your diet, for weeks and months! How can I trust you again? How do I know this Ingrid is a ‘former’ affair?”

“Eehh … you honestly don’t know why I didn’t tell you the truth, lied to you during my diet, followed Wershowitz’s plan instead of yours?” he couldn’t believe it.

“No … how should I?”

“Because I wanted you to keep you …with me … at least as my nutritionist, have a reason to see you regularly. Isn’t that obvious? And at the same time I was getting so much pressure from Warren to lose weight faster …., ” he sighed. “It’s nothing I’m proud of … but isn’t it forgivable? I did it only because I care so much for you … and it did me more harm than you …..” He wanted nothing more than to take her in his arms, to hug his own and her hurt away, feel the physical comfort of togetherness. Bending down, he wrapped his arm around her shoulder, only to have her shake it off.

“Don’t touch me! Sit down over there!”

Inspecting the chair she had gestured to, he swallowed: “I doubt this chair will hold me. Is it okay if I sit on your bed?” After he got no response, he did so, the quiet in the room turning oppressing. “I’m real sorry about the scene with Ingrid …. but still … is that a reason to throw away what for me was a wonderful relationship? Try to tell me what’s really wrong, what I can do?”

“Like I said … I can’t trust you anymore! You’ve lied … you’ve never been committed… all those affairs …. and they’re all still around, you can microwave them any day…”

“Stephanie …. I haven’t even looked at another woman since we got together! I can commit, I never cheated on Liza … it never even occurred to me. In the past years … simply no committed relationship turned up for me. And I don’t think it speaks against me that I’m still friends with many of my ex-es … on the contrary….,” he shook his head. “I haven’t been a saint … but I haven’t done anything I’m really ashamed of either.”

“What about Karim? What about Monsieur Djenardi?”

“Admitted … I’ve felt guilty about M. Djenardi, he’s a good guy. But what goes on in the relationship between Nora and Yves is their business. She initiated our affair …. and I couldn’t resist so much physical appreciation. I had no reason to…. if you count out abstract moral considerations.” He folded his hands over his gut mound, rubbing it slightly, trying to quench the rising fear in him. Stephanie still sat there, hunched up in an aggressive silence. Then he remembered what Emily had told him.
“Stephanie, the past is the past. Regarding Karim – this opened my eyes to the fact that having a family, having children is an option for me. All the family I have left is my mother – I’d like a real one of my own. I can see us having a family together. I love you, I miss you so much. I want to grow old with you, see our grandchildren working in our bakery…. “

She looked up at him, tears in her eyes. “You can’t be serious…. It’s not that easy …. My life was supposed to be so different …. ” with a small sob.

“You said so yourself life can destroy plans pretty quickly … we have that in common, we’re both being offered a different plan that the one we’d originally signed up for. But don’t you think it could still be a good one … you and me …. together…?” her sullen, almost wordless rejection was making him more and more uncomfortable, probably worse than a true shouting match might have been. So he got up and turned to the door. “Please think about it … give us another chance….”

“You’re leaving? Is that all you have to say?”

“Ummm … yeah. I’ve apologized again. I assure you I’ve been faithful to you and promise you I’ll do everything that it will stay that way. I love you, I miss you … I want you to come back, for us to build a future together. What more can I say?”

“You could explain why you ran to my grandmother behind my back …. Or while you immediately started meeting other women as soon as we were apart… all that doesn’t increase your credibility…”

“I told you the woman you saw me with is Lea Langdon, Warren’s daughter. She’s definitely not ‘another woman’; she’s as good as a sister to me. She was there to talk about Warren with me. If we’d still been together, I would’ve introduced you, we would’ve gone out as a threesome…” he rolled his eyes in irritation. “As for Emily … I didn’t run to her behind your back. She was at the praliné making course – yeah, and I took the opportunity to talk to her. Who else should I’ve talked to? You wouldn’t listen to me on your own accord …. for god knows which reasons …. All I’m trying to do is understand what’s wrong with you … what I can do so things work between us again…”

“Nothing’s wrong with me!” she sounded like an obstinate child. “It’s you … all you ever think about is food and sex and your fun… Look at how fat I got while we were together. And not knowing if you’d go off with another woman …. There’s always someone else in the picture, like Claire or this Ingrid or Tricia …. That never happened with Timmy…”

“For pity’s sake Stephanie …. stop accusing me of things that only go on in your head! I work with Claire and Tricia! Get real! I refuse to apologize for having friends, for being me! As for food and sex … yeah … that’s me, things in life I love … and I don’t see what’s wrong with that either. You seemed to be enjoying it too, while we were together. I helped you with your diet when that was what you doing …. I don’t see what else I can do. And as for Timmy …. how about no longer sugar coating your relationship in hindsight …” he stopped abruptly, shocked that he had started yelling and was about to really hurt her. He didn’t want that …. but he felt hurt himself by being treated so unfairly.
“I need a drink of water …. “ he lumbered over into the kitchen and poured himself a glass.

“Everything okay?” Jason’s question came out very carefully.

“No … everything’s wrong…” he poured a second glass before he returned to Stephanie’s room, were she was still sitting there, now sobbing.

“I’m sorry for that Stephanie; I didn’t mean to yell at you. It’s well … how can I say …. Have you ever thought that constantly having the ghost of Timmy around might be as hard for me as meeting some of my ex-es is for you…? That it’s more than just the pinch that hurts when my flab gets stuck in your double wedding band?”

She looked up at him in surprise.

“You’re not going to find another guy in life who hasn’t known anybody but you… … Unless he grew up as a hermit …. Although I don’t know whether you’d want the baggage that might come with that lifestyle either…,” he sighed. “At our age it’s normal to come with a past, maybe some baggage. As I said … I love you … I want my future with you. Please leave the past where it belongs … in the past …. The door back to me is open …. At least for a little while longer …. Please use it…”
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:58 AM   #41
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13

13 days since he had gone to see Stephanie … still no response. And tomorrow was her birthday. This left aching regret in him, remembering the surprise pool party he had been planning for her. Although he was angry and his pride was wounded by her non-responsiveness, he couldn’t battle his strong compulsion to bake a birthday cake, in the end choosing the raspberry white chocolate Marc de Champagne truffle he had originally created for her. Only in the last minute did he decide against the heart-shaped cake pan, that was too much kitsch, too blatant, too self-depreciating. Instead he took the rose mold, which turned out beautifully – Jerome on seeing it instantly said that should be one of the Valentine’s Day specials. Giving the gateau along with a matching deep pink and white bouquet to Jason, he sent Stephanie his best birthday wishes.

One day, two days, three days … no message from her, his mood alternating between apprehensive, sad, angry, hurt and resentful. Couldn’t she at least send a text with a plain ‘thank you’ – as minimum of good manners, even if she didn’t want to talk to him? His mother had hammered it into him that you had to say ‘thank you’ even for the most hideous gifts – and his cake was definitely delicious.

The fourth morning he went speechless with shock as he entered the deli bistro to see Stephanie sitting there, having brunch with Marcus, laughing as he laid his arm around her. Turning on his heel, he charged out the door, heading back towards the hotel, hearing Claire and Stephanie call after him. Over his shoulder, he could see Stephanie catching up, so he quickly took the side entrance to the service stairwell with his master key where she could not follow him. Claire though could, she had a key and a minute later she was with him on the first floor landing.

“Come on Christopher, come back down with me, talk to Stephanie.”

“No way!” he panted.

“What exactly is wrong with the two of you? She was very upset when she came to talk to Marcus..”

“Well, she can talk to Marcus but not to me …. What does that tell you?”

“She and Marcus are real friends, don’t ask me why … but they are. From what I inferred, she’s talking to him about how to remedy things with you!” poking her finger in the top curve of his belly.

“It’s no remedy if she doesn’t even thank me for the birthday cake…”

Claire rubbed his side-roles soothingly. “Poor Christopher, that’s really not nice. It’s probably just really difficult to get into a new relationship after losing your husband so young, there must be many things that go with that we can’t fully understand. Be more patient with her.”

“Why are you being so nice, advocating in Stephanie’s favor? The two of you are no friends!”

“Uggh … we both have cultivated a bit of a cat fight, yeah .. you’re right,” Claire went pink and rolled her eyes. “I’m doing my best to lay that to rest.”

“But if you don’t like her, why do you want me to get back together with her?”

“Because you love her – and she loves you and you belong together. I was jealous of her because she was your diet consultant and got to work personally with you, something I felt I should be doing. I had a major crush on you; you know that, don’t you?”

“Somewhere down the line I couldn’t help but notice…”

“Then Stephanie … after seeing you with her for a while … I had to acknowledge you cared for her as a woman … and for me only as a good friend, employee, maybe sister. So I slowly switched off my crush … and you luckily pushed Marcus as someone also very crush-worthy my way. With the exception that he is interested in me as a woman…,” she smiled up at him, fondling his belly. “You were so happy with Stephanie; the two of you are such a convincing couple …. Relationships need work and patience. Go work on yours with Stephanie, otherwise you’ll regret it.”

“I’ll think about it,” he told Claire to get out of the situation and be free to go up to his office. But he didn’t so much think about it as rather nurse his hurt resentment.

Two days later he went into the sales outlet in the bakery to discuss Valentine’s Day sales presentation with Jerome as he in the corner of his eye saw Stephanie come in and approach him slowly, slightly uneasily twisting the ends of her woolen shawl.

“Hi Jerome, hi Christopher … do you have a minute so we can talk, please?”

“Umm … really difficult right now … we’re in planning session…”

“We can finish that later Christopher,” Jerome was not very helpful.

“No, no … I have other meetings … and our new suppliers are coming any minute…”

“When would be a better time for you then Christopher?” Stephanie’s voice was level but her eyes were pleading, he couldn’t stand it, he had to get away as fast as possible.

“I’ll check my calendar, I’ll let you know,” he said in parting leaving a wounded looking Stephanie and a startled Jerome standing there. But he didn’t call her, get in touch with her – instead persuading himself that he had been right all those years to forego the serious relationship business if it brought so much trouble.


Since Warren stubbornly continued to evade any communication attempts, even with Lea’s intervention, he on impulse one rainy afternoon called the realtor to arrange a meeting to go see the old warehouse and workshop building on the rear-side of the block where the main bakery café outlet was located. From several of the bakery’s regular customers, who worked for the city planning authority, he knew that negotiations were underway on the future use of the building. Part of it was under monument protection, so several offers of tearing it down to build new office buildings had been rejected – also because there was doubt whether new office space was feasible given the economic prospects. Some time ago, after an inspirational cookie developing session followed by a bike ride to the bakery café the idea of converting the building into a chic loft hotel had snuck into his head. Pursuing new projects always made him feel better, the next step in the book project was still underway, and he did not feel like practicing cooking presentations and food design right now. Something different was asked for.

Visiting the deserted building, talking about how it could be refurbished and converted into a hotel, did have the effect of taking his mind off everything else and he went back three days later with Brett Norton to get his opinion. “Well – if it has to be your own new hotel to finally get you to hand in your notice with Langdon, I’m all for it,” Brett said he had shown him around.
“Admittedly, you’ll need a very sound business plan for this, as it requires major investments. How much to buy the property?”

“I’m only doing it if I don’t have to buy it – the upfront investment would be too much, next to refurbishment and conversion. I’ll make a bid to the city planning authority based on a 99-year lease of the property. They don’t have the best hand to sell it – yet they want to continue developing this area on the edge of downtown,” he stopped half-way up on the landing, panting. Climbing the steep staircase while talking didn’t work for his weight.
After catching his breath he went on: “We’ll have to conserve some parts of the architecture and layout of the building. Like the former clerking floor here – but it’ll make a great lobby, front desk and bar area. Up here on the loft I was thinking of a lounging section of the bar. Imagine this with new, clear windows spanning the 3 stories…” pushing his belly to comfortly rest on the banister.

“Since we have the bakery café right next door, we wouldn’t even have to invest in a real kitchen, only expand the one there. Build a conservatory style small dining room for breakfast etc. in the inner court yard, which can be accessed from the bakery’s kitchen. In the summer there’s also the beer garden. Oh…. and I spoke to Aquarios, our local top notch gym … I went to college with their manager. The lease on their flagship downtown gym expires soon, it’s too small anyway, has no real pool. The far end of this complex, the main workshop, would be perfect – pool area down in the machine hall, on the three open floors above the different gym areas. It would fit perfectly with hotel and bakery/café….”

“You never cease to surprise me Christopher…,” Brent grinned and licked his fingers from the mocha éclair he had been nibbling out of a box. “You’re so emotional about your work, so into details and tradition, sometimes like I’m stuck in TV family business saga. Then again you’re probably one of the best, most efficient and realistic business planners I’ve ever worked with. It’s bizarre…”

“Hmmh … if you say so…. I care about my work …. It’s about very personal things, like eating, enjoying, sleeping. The lesson I learned though from the bakery accident was that loving your product, making the very best is not enough. You have to make sure you’ve got a sound business framework, pay attention to detail there too,” inwardly acknowledging that in some respects Uncle Tom had been just as unworldly as his mother. Maybe his business common sense was an ingredient he had gotten from his otherwise insignificant father.

“Have you already calculated potential booking rates, how much business you’ll take from the ‘Langdon Residency’?”

“That’s not the point! My hotel will be in a different market segment, not first class, but up market, modern business.” Brent’s remark stung. “Some of the younger business people might switch, but in general it’s a different target group. I’m positive we have the market. Business hotels here are all anonymous chain hotels, most of them 20-30 years old with a considerable backlog of necessary refurbishments. The newer ones have the disadvantage of a much less central location than we will have here. I wouldn’t say I’m counting on an instant success, but the potential is very high.”

“Sounds like a plan. So … you’ll write up the business plan for me …. concept and investments … and then I’m supposed to pour it into a contract for the planning board to sign, right?”

“That’s what I was thinking of…. they’ve been on the hunt for so long. A complete package with good use for the entire complex might convince them, even if they don’t get money from sale. I’ve talked to my bank, they would be up for it, especially since I’m ahead on paying back the loans for buying out Warren – that beer garden was incredible business, small investment, big return…”

“I trust your knowledge of the market here too. Gotta be going, say hi to Stephanie from me…” Brent’s parting remark hit like a gut punch. So far he had avoided telling people about their break-up if possible. Everybody in the hotel by now probably knew, as did Stephanie’s family … but he for instance still had to inform Eugenie, something he had also been putting off. She’d be good to talk to about re-modeling the historic building, especially the many glass fronts … but he couldn’t invite her to come just now … not with so many things she was in the dark about. Even the news of Karim couldn’t compensate for his breaking up with Warren and Stephanie; she’d be too distressed. It would be so good though to talk about this new project with someone on a personal level.


Luck had it that Mary Helen was in town on some political fund raiser only two days later, so he asked her whether she could spare the time. In the back of his mind, he also weighed the option whether re-kindling their affair might help him get over Stephanie although this was more of a conscious deliberation than something he truly felt like. An indicator for this was that he had a picnic basket for their meeting prepared at the deli and did not make everything himself.

“A date in a rundown old building, what kind of new fashion is this?” Mary Helen raised her eyebrows, surveying the table and love seat he had transferred from the café onto the deserted old clerking floor, giving him a kiss on the cheek.

“It’s not exactly a date … it’s more … you’ve helped me so much in … well … getting the independence of my own business … I thought, … umm … I’d like to show you the next step.”

“I’m intrigued … show me around.”

As they wandered through the building, he explained at length what he was planning. What struck over time was how very quiet Mary Helen was, not her usual responsive, talkative self. As they returned to the main clerking floor, he gestured her to sit, which she did on the chair and opened the bottle of wine. “What’s wrong? Don’t you think the sight is interesting? Or can’t you imagine how this dump will look like as a loft hotel?”

“Christopher … where’s Stephanie?”

“Why do you ask?”

“I overheard Tricia making a remark about your bad mood and some row with Stephanie. Plus you were so insistent about seeing me … even though I don’t have much time. Are you in need of a rebound girl?”

“No, not at all …. it’s true – Stephanie and I split. And right now …. I guess I need, want a friend to talk to … you always said we’re friends, didn’t you? You helped me so much … and as for erotic escapades … I honestly wish I had the inclination, but not even that works for me right now….” He hung his head and sank on the loveseat. Why was everybody constantly misreading his intentions?

“Oh honey, of course we’re friends. I’m there if you need me…,” she squeezed herself on the love seat next to him and started patting his hungrily rumbling stomach. “I should’ve known something is really wrong after you’ve been walking around here talking without touching any of the food, even though your tummy has been growling all the time. Here – start with this…,” she held one of the little meatballs with olive paste stuffing to his lips which he greedily bit into, followed by a small canapé with green leaves mix and pâté as well as a sip of wine. Chewing, feeling the tastes blend on his tongue, swallowing, sensing the delicious morsels glide down into his stomach while it’s huge flab orb was being affectionately rubbed was a physical relief, he could almost feel the tension sliding off his shoulders, warmth replacing it.

“Now tell me what’s wrong. What happened with Stephanie?”

Looking at what was left of their picnic, he noticed he had already devoured a good two-thirds of his spread, no wonder he felt so much more content. Bracing himself for her reaction, he started to tell her about why Stephanie had left, but he stopped after about 45 seconds because he could see Mary Helen was failing in keeping a straight face. Sure enough, as soon as he halted, she exploded in laughter until tears came. “Yeah …. hilarious break-up, I know…,” he grumbled.

“Poor honey, but that is so funny. I can totally imagine you in that situation…. All big, and round and comfy, letting it all hang out. When you’re really at ease with yourself, which you fortunately often are, you’re wonderfully oblivious to everything else …. except maybe making others just as comfy. It’s one of the most appealing things about you…” Mary Helen wiped her eyes carefully on a napkin and patted his belly until it jiggled. “Okay, how did the story go on?”

Telling her the rest, including a rough overview of Stephanie’s marital background, she leaned against him and sighed. “Christopher honey, you need to be more patient, invest more effort into saving your relationship…”

“What? I’ve waited for weeks …. She didn’t even say ‘thank you’ for my birthday wishes…”

“If it was just an affair, I’d say you’re right, it’s not worth it. But with Stephanie, I had the feeling it was something serious … you had the intention of settling down, wasn’t that so?”

“Ummm … well, yeah … for a while I thought so…”

“Then you need to put more thought and energy into getting back together. If she came by, tried to talk to you, you should’ve given her that chance. You’ll regret it if you don’t – finding someone you can honestly see yourself with in 30 years is special, you need to try and preserve that…” she looked at him earnestly. “So far you’ve taken the easy, noncommittal approach – a serious relationship requires more work, tolerance, patience and the willingness to overcome obstacles…”

“Huh … sounds like I’ve heard that before…”

“Whoever said that is right … you’ll do your best, work on it, won’t you? You’ll feel a lot better once that’s resolved.” He shrugged, making her playfully punch him in the side. “You will try, promise! You’re a good guy; don’t test your jerk potential!”

“I’m not a jerk…”

“Exactly! That’s why you’re talking to Stephanie again, make a true effort to get back together,” she looked at her watch. “I don’t have that much time left. Now tell me about this hotel project here. It’s unusual but interesting. Does it mean you’ve laid your dispute with Warren Langdon to rest?”

“No… on the contrary,” he was still digesting how adamant she was on insisting he and Stephanie should reconcile, that she didn’t seem to take his feeling hurt very seriously. “I want a hotel of my own, leave the Langdon group… “

“Have you talked to Langdon about this?”

“How could I? He doesn’t communicate with me anymore! Not even Lea, his daughter, could do anything about it! He even left his office through the back door when I came to see him,” this had been an extremely bitter, humiliating experience for him, so bad he hadn’t told it to anybody yet.

“That’s indeed an extremely unfriendly act – to use diplo-speech,” Mary Helen shook her head. “Nevertheless, I think you should cool it … not barge ahead with this new hotel until you’ve really made amends with Langdon.”

He blinked at her incredulously, downed his glass of wine before swallowing hard. This was not what he had expected of this meeting at all. “You of all people are telling me that? You were the one you said it was a business deal, that I should stop being personal about it. You got me in contact with Brett Norton… thanks again by the way; he’s a great guy, good lawyer…”

“Christopher, business dealings and personal relations are two different things. It was right to separate the assets of deli and bakery – because they’re in essence your business, Warren was never much more than your start up investor, you said so yourself he wasn’t interested in them,” she reasoned getting up. “With the hotel it’s different, that’s Warren’s core business; he introduced you to it, giving you a career and a life. For all he’s done for you – you should give him another chance on a personal level, here again be more patient and try harder. Opening your own hotel as his competitor is not the solution – it’ll only worsen matters … and you might regret it in the long run. Now I got to go…”

He heaved himself up, dumbfounded accepting her farewell kiss and taking her to the door wordlessly.
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Old 06-27-2015, 04:59 AM   #42
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Grumbling to himself, he fumbled into a fresh shirt in his office ensuite, regretting he had given into Claire’s insisting on him doing some testing at the deli bistro this evening. Otherwise he would have gone home in sweats after finishing his routine of exercising, swimming and fortunately today also a massage from Namée to try and cook himself some comfort food he might be able to actually eat. Namée must have noticed lately that he was in personal crisis mode again for she was extra vigilant that he did his exercises correctly and at the same time very caring with his massages.
His stomach growled audibly yet he had no appetite to join Claire for trying out new dishes, he wanted to be alone in his gloom. He appreciated they were all trying to help him, but still … he couldn’t even finish his thought while buckling the belt on his old black jeans, which fit him again, a notch tighter. The only thought he willed to go inside his head was that he needed to get back to normal as soon as possible, find a way to leave the Stephanie episode behind him and forget about Warren too. No matter what Mary Helen said, in his opinion re-modeling the old warehouse and opening his own hotel would be an excellent option of getting a fresh start.

Claire immediately linked arms with him as he arrived down at the deli bistro and pushed him back outside. “Where are we going? I thought I was supposed to test something here…”

“Small change of plans, I want Marcus to join us…. it’s his evening off, but he’s finishing some testing in the small breakfast kitchen … we’ll meet him there….”

He rolled his eyes, this was even worse than expected, an evening in the company of a happy couple…
“Look Claire, let’s postpone this. I’m … yeah … I just don’t feel like any social activity tonight, okay?”

“It’s one of the last chances we’ve got before Marcus leaves for Alsace. I can’t tell you how grateful we are you came up with this training abroad for him in smaller portions in various locations,” she smiled and once more surprised him by how very firm her grip on his arm was, for such a small person. “Today is no-mope day … you’re coming with us! I know what’s good for you.”

Sighing, he hauled his bulk up to the first floor restaurant behind Claire’s swift patter and went through the kitchen door she was holding wide open. In the middle of the kitchen stood Marcus, clinking a glass of white wine with Stephanie in a black skirt and top, letting him freeze before he immediately tried to back out the door, only to find it closed behind him.

“What’s this supposed to be?” he asked angrily.

“Here - have a glass of wine,” Marcus handed him one, giving him a slight shove towards Stephanie. “Say cheers to Stephanie. You two need to talk, straighten things out. We won’t let you out of here again until you’ve resolved everything, pressed your personal re-fresh button.”

Before he could move away or do anything, Marcus had slipped past him and he could hear the outside bolt of the kitchen door being drawn.

Stepping there, he hammered against it: “Claire, Marcus – cut it out! I’m your boss! Let me out this minute! Do you want me to fire you?” – instantly regretting saying something so stupid.

“Christopher – you’re not going to fire us,” Claire peered over the service hatch she opened. “Anyway – Marcus and I aren’t doing this as your employees, but as your friends. You and Stephanie need the kick in the ass to talk and get back together. You belong together, you….”

“It’s none of your business! You don’t even like her! Let me out!”

“It’s our business as we don’t want to stand on the sidelines seeing you unhappy. And it’s our business because you took just as much liberty in muddling in Marcus’ and my love life. If you hadn’t pushed Marcus to try and make a few moves on me, forced me to give him a second look … we would never be as happy as we are now. We’re just paying you back by doing our part to make you happy again.” she closed the service hatch energetically. “Bye, have a good talk and kiss.”

From the fact that the light went out in the small hallway leading to the kitchen he could tell she was gone, forcing him to turn around and face Stephanie. Her big brown eyes met his imploringly but he looked away muttering: “I’ll call the front desk … they can let us out,” reaching into the pocket of his coat for his phone, but it wasn’t there. He tried the other pocket, empty as well. He was positive he had taken it along … could it be that Claire had stolen it when she had linked arms with him? The kitchen’s phone was outside the door, in the hallway, out of reach. “I… I must’ve left my phone in the office…. Can I have yours to call?”

“My coat and handbag and thus also my phone are over in the chef office, Marcus told me to leave them there…” her voice was very small, making him roll his eyes and slam his fist against the door: “F***!”

Stephanie sipped her wine forlornly so he settled on a broad stool snarling at her: “Okay, you got what you wanted, connived with Marcus and Claire to set this up. Tell me what you think you need to tell me – then maybe they’ll let us go again!”

“I … I … well …,” he frowned at her. “I forgot what I wanted to tell you! I wasn’t in on this. This is Marcus’ and Claire’s idea, not mine. I’m just as surprised as you are. Marcus had asked me to come to a movie pre-screening with them, to get my mind off our quarrel!”

“Oh…” she looked so upset he had to believe her. “So … what’re we going to do?”

“Since we’re here together …. we might as well talk … or not…?”

“Hmmmh…” he didn’t know what to think, but he heard her take a deep breath.

“Christopher, I’m so sorry about everything. I’ve behaved like a complete idiot – and you have every right to be angry with me. Can you please forgive me? Can we press delete for the last weeks … and maybe start the year over, like it was New Year’s again?”

He couldn’t look at her, having her so close was bad enough, her smell, her warmth, he could almost sense the texture of her soft skin. If he raised his eyes, looked into hers, saw her plump lips, he knew he’d most likely give into the strong physical urge to pull her into his arms and kiss her. On the other hand, he could feel his instincts battling with each other; his mental guards go up swiftly, warning him to trust her again. Undecided, he shrugged wordlessly.

“I understand it’s not easy. Please give me one more chance…,” she laid her hand on his but he pulled it away. A universe of silence followed until his stomach grumbled loudly.
“You’re hungry, you need your dinner.” She waited for a response. “You know what … we’re in a kitchen, if we don’t talk, why don’t we at least cook us dinner..?”

He nodded, almost in relief. Doing something, especially something he loved like cooking was always better than tense silence. Looking through the reefer he asked: “This is the breakfast kitchen, so there aren’t so many ingredients stored here. There’s some fresh baby spinach for omelet’s …. How about some Italian pancakes, crespelle, with spinach-ricotta stuffing and baked with Parmesan béchamel? “

“Sounds great as always. Shall I wash, chop and blanche the spinach?”

“Ummhu… go ahead, I’ll make the batter and bake the crespelle…” the familiar motions and noises of cooking as expected put him more at ease, along with pouring himself a second glass of wine.

“Spring onions with the spinach… and which seasoning?”

“Mix of butter and olive oil for the onions … garlic, a touch of lemon zest and nutmeg, ground pepper” he flipped his pancake for the fun of it, childishly pleased as it landed neatly back in the pan. Aunt Katie must’ve taught him this when he was something like seven. His stomach growled again. “Please heat some milk with laurel, yes?”

Stephanie put the milk pot into the microwave and asked quietly: “You’ve lost quite a lot of weight haven’t you?”

“Mmmh … so have you…”

“I missed your excellent cooking … and the company, your irresistible lust of eating….,” she gave him a sideways glance. “What about you?”

“I guess the so-called break up diet works … even for me ….” he murmured.

“Is that a reason for you to want to continue it?” her voice was very low.

“No, of course not! Why would I want to feel lousy? I’m definitely no masochist!”

After a while of stirring wordlessly, she started anew: “Don’t you think we might both feel better again if we made another effort, tried to get back together?”

“I don’t believe in that solution any more…” it cost him some effort to say this.

“Why don’t you believe in it anymore?”

“Umm … well … I guess … I’m not sure … it sort of boils down to that I don’t believe you anymore..”

“Why don’t you believe me?” Stephanie looked positively shocked.

“You said you didn’t believe I could commit … well I in turn no longer believe you’re willing to do your part, working on overcoming your issues for us to have a relationship ….”

“What do you mean? But why? I’m trying…”

“Stephanie, don’t get me wrong – I know from personal experience how long it takes, how difficult it is to really get over a blow like the unexpected death of a loved one in his prime…” he inhaled sharply. “It’s a conscious effort you have to make, not let sorrow and fear bring you down. You … well you … aren’t really giving me and us that chance….”

He saw her wipe away a few tears. “What makes you think I’m not trying?”

“Well … like you wouldn’t even listen to me, to my explanations regarding the completely harmless Ingrid incident. That’s not giving a chance. Sometimes I’ve even wondered whether it wasn’t a sort of excuse to get away from me. Not responding to my birthday wishes … that’s plain impolite. No matter how crappy things are … anybody can write an email or text saying thank you for the birthday cake…,” the need to let his resentment out overwhelmed him. “Those are the things that made me stop believing you’re trying. I’m willing to invest in a relationship, work on it. But I’m not willing to fight ghosts or windmills. It’s a fight I can’t win … so it’s meaningless. It’s something I don’t want to waste my energy on…”

Tears were streaming down her cheeks now but she bit visibly clenched her teeth and not a sob escaped her until she took a paper towel to wipe her eyes. “Problem is, I can’t even blame you for seeing it that way..,” her voice was shaky. “My behavior has been …. wrong, selfish, childish… but it’s a loop I keep getting caught up in….”

In the meantime he had finished stacking the stuffed crespelle in the pan, poured the béchamel over them and shoved it in the oven. His stomach growled again, lunch had been a few bites of leftovers, then exercise … and for some reason, Stephanie’s presence made him not only hungrier, but let his appetite surge again. So he went through the reefer once more and started setting up a platter of tapas like bites … olives, cheese, rolling some jámon around the bakery’s good bread sticks, chopping some herbs and mixing them with cream cheese to spread this on celery and tomatoes, cutting bread into the basket, placing it all in front of Stephanie. “Bon appétit … no matter what…”

“Thank you.” she poured more wine into their glasses, plus set up some water glasses as he pulled the two stools up to the counter. After munching away for a while, Stephanie asked timidly: “May I please try and explain my problems to you? I’ve put a lot of work and thought into this …. I know I need to change a few things.”

“Emmughh..” he grunted non-committally and half-shrugged.

“I should’ve been honest with you, told you the truth about Timmy and me…,” she sighed. “I’m almost grateful to Grandmums for filling you in …. For my training as a nutritionist, I learned a lot about reading other people’s emotions and underlying motives, getting them to open up. That doesn’t mean I know how to do it for myself…”

As she didn’t go on, he asked: “Can you please pass me the bread basket?”
Pausing which bread to choose, he suddenly noticed Stephanie’s hand, her fingers were bare, no double wedding band in sight. He peeked at her other hand, no rings either, not the antique ruby engagement ring. Was this a demonstration? Had she known they were to meet or not … or was she really trying to change something, leave the past behind her? Engrossed in his observations, he didn’t pay attention to what she was saying: “…. And I felt guilty because in the end you’re just the guy I always wished Timmy had been. Big, confident, outgoing, happy with our life … “

“What?” The significance of her words didn’t make it all the way through to his brain, as the oven timer saved him. “Oh sorry … you can go on in a minute, now the crespelle are ready…”

Doing the serving occupied him for a few minutes and the first way too hot bite burned his tongue, making him yelp, and Stephanie smirk at him. Gulping down some water, he decided to wait for it to cool before eating more. “What did you last say?”

“Wallowing in guilt fantasies, I guess,” she grimaced. “Can you understand though that it’s difficult for me to process, see it as something positive that I got what I secretly dreamed of at the price of Timmy being dead?”

He frowned in concentration, attempting to follow her line of thought. “That’s not necessarily the case. What would’ve been if you and Timmy had stayed unhappily together, there had been no accident and we would’ve met with you as my diet consultant?”

“Hmmh … well … would that have changed anything? I would’ve been married…. ”

“For me it would’ve changed a lot. I was crazy about you from that day you walked into my office … had I known you were unhappily married to a big guy …. Well …. I would’ve seen it as my duty to prove to you that you can have a happy affair with a very big guy…,” he gave her a half embarrassed, half rakish grin.

“You would’ve made a pass at me had I been unhappily married?”

“Probably. I thought you were happily married for months; you evaded the issue – that plus being my nutritionist made you off limits. When I found out you were a widow, it was too late, things had gotten too complicated and I was in a diet funk, no capacities for high-jinks left….” taking a big bite of the crespelle, letting the creamy sauce ooze over his taste buds. “Had you been unhappy in an existing relationship … being independent myself, I would’ve had few qualms to try and convince you that I could be another option….”

She looked at him open-mouthed, her fork in mid-air. “I’ve never thought about it that way… I guess even when wanting to split from Timmy, the idea of another man never occurred to me...”

“You said so yourself, you get caught up in the same thought loops all the time regarding your relationships…,” almost regretting that this sounded a bit cynical.

“I’m doing my best to get out of these loops. Thank you to showing me another approach.”

“Although it’s one that shows me in the role of the serial home wrecker …. What you’ve been accusing me all along…,” he heaped more crespelle on his plate to not have to meet her eye.

“You’ve had a very different life than I have. I don’t hold that against you. My accusations regarding Ingrid were totally false, I know that and I apologize. Together with all the residue of guilt, it brought out the worst in me …. I guess I’ve been too ashamed to admit it even to myself …,” she emptied her glass of wine, so he poured her some more.

“What are you ashamed of?” Curiosity got the better of him as she didn’t continue.

“Hmmh … you might’ve noticed … I’m insanely jealous …,” she looked under herself, drawing spinach patterns in some sauce on her plate. “As much as I felt suffocated by the fact that Timmy was so fixated on me … it at the same time reassured my vanity that I was truly the only woman in his world. I believe you haven’t gone astray during our time together. But knowing you’ve had many….”

“Not that many, I’m no Lothario!”

“Well, many more than Timmy! But it should be okay, it’s normal I guess … Timmy’s and my relationship was more the outlier. It has its upsides too … you’ve learned to make a woman happy.” She now looked at him openly making him blush. “Meeting your ex-es, knowing how close a friend Claire is to you… yeah … I’m jealous of them, and I’m ashamed I let it out on you so unfiltered, made you suffer for it. I’m sorry. It was totally immature, it was selfish … I never knew I could be such an awful person and I may have ruined everything for us.”

Not knowing which response might be best, since their plates and the casserole were empty; he cleared the table and started stacking everything into the dishwasher.

“What do you say? Can you maybe re-think everything?” She stood very close, lightly rubbed his thick upper arm with the back of her hand.

“Dunno…,” he sighed. “What made you realize your irrational jealousy is part of the problem?” he asked to not have to answer himself.

“Grandmums gave me the most serious talk of my life. Said it was overdue to end my grace period of mourning. That I had to start working on my personal development as hard as I worked on helping others with theirs. It was after she found out I hadn’t thanked you properly for the lovely birthday cake. She said she was very ashamed of me and would understand it if you no longer wanted anything to do with someone as self-centered, childish and ungrateful as me.”

Her voice cracked towards the end as she hung her head like a scolded little girl, making him instinctively want to take her in his arms and comfort her. This evening now left him with a pleasantly full stomach, a blank mind and an indecisively numb soul that feared making a wrong move.
“What time is it?”

“11:15.”

“Yeez … what are Claire and Marcus thinking? Leaving us locked up here for so long!” he stifled a yawn.

“You’re tired, aren’t you?”

“Ummhu… been a long day, I was in the bakery at 6:00 this morning. Worked out before I came here … it feels like bedtime…,” feeling his cheeks redden because of what it might mean in the context with Stephanie.

“Unfortunately there’s nowhere to lie down here, except the floor.”

Her remark made a light bulb go on in his head – the small storage closet, with the extra sets of breakfast linens. Crossing the kitchen, he opened the door with his master key … only to find the closet’s second door to the hallway also bolted from the outside. “Shit!”

The packs of table cloths and napkins in their thick plastic foil covering fresh from the laundry were there reminding him of one of the very fun nights of his life, during his internship year in St. Moritz. He had had a pretty steamy flirt with Agostina, the chef’s daughter and a gifted ski instructor. She had not only managed to teach his then good 300 pounds to ski half-way decently, but had been into some equally vigorous intimate exercises. One night, while he had to supervise some extremely slow cooking venison specialty in the kitchen, they had made out on a pile of packed laundry with a bottle of prosecco with some pretty innovative ways of drinking the bubbly. The memory aroused him and he met Stephanie’s eye as he turned around. “You didn’t find a way out?”

“No – door’s bolted on the outside. But we have enough laundry packs to make at least a comfortable mattress for you,” he pulled three packs over into the kitchen, Stephanie followed with the other two. Putting some towels on the floor, so the packs wouldn’t slip, he arranged them so they were about the size of a queen bed. “There you go, lie down and relax. I’ll sit up here…”

“Christopher, you’re more tired than I am, your day has been longer. And for your back … it’s better to lie down than sit on a stool.”

“I’m fine Stephanie, you rest. Claire and Marcus should be here any minute. They won’t have forgotten us, will they?”

“No surely not. Please lie down and try to sleep, your eyes look so tired. I’ll feel bad if you don’t..,” before she looked away and said in a small, fading voice. “It’s big enough for both of us … if you’d let me use you as my pillow…”
He caught her furtive glance, making his cheeks flame as she hastily said: “Sorry, I didn’t mean … want … well get to personal … forget it… lie down please.”

Turning off all the lights with the exception of the small stove light, in the protective dimness, he dared murmur: “No, it’s a good idea. I’m a certified pillow…”

Kicking off his shoes, he was very drowsy, in his usual benevolent, well-fed after dinner mood. Close his eyes and snuggle a bit sounded like one of the best ideas in ages, come to think of it realistically. And then there were the ringing voices of Mary Helen and Claire in the back of his head, that he’d probably regret it if he didn’t at least establish a truce with Stephanie. Very carefully lowering his immense weight onto the precarious mattress construction, his flab rolling and jouncing tumultuously, he stretched himself out. “Okay pillow’s in position.”

Cautiously, barely touching him, she slid down by his side and in slow motion settled in her customary position, though applying as little weight as possible: Head against his fleshy chest, one hand at the top of his belly mound, balancing herself by wedging her knee around his tree trunk thigh. To make it comfortable for both of them, his automatic move was to drape his arm around her, hanging onto the full, yet currently less fleshy curve of her hip. Lying here with his eyes closed, the so familiar warmth, smell and closeness of Stephanie, his fatigue took over letting him mumble before drifting off: “Good night my Nana”.
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Old 06-27-2015, 05:02 AM   #43
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120/80

“120/80 – Mr. Maynard, except for that one figure, you’re a medical textbook example of good health,” Dr. Preston patted his belly, making his stomach let out its customary hunger grumble in response. “Blood-work is just fine; your cardio-fitness test is as it should be … now what was that number again? You know our normal scale can’t measure you…”

“533 yesterday morning…,” he gave her a coy grin reddening. “I’d gotten down to 512 again first weeks of the year courtesy of the mini break-up diet … but the past weeks have been ..umm .. rather indulgent again. I did all the cooking, baking and in the end eating for the photo-shoot of my cookbook which will be out shortly.”

“Oh – you’re publishing a cookbook. What kind exactly? Mostly baking?”

“It’s a collection of my best recipes, over the board, all types. Title is ‘Oral fixation – The sheer joy of excellent eating’. It’s also a bit on an anti-diet book. I try to explain what food and eating really mean … that you can be very heavy and healthy, that it’s about quality nutrition and being active in life, not about calories and pounds…”

“In essence I agree with you. But you know as your doctor I can’t whole-heartedly condone 533 pounds… it’s a bit extreme..”

“Understandable. Nevertheless …. I feel perfect physically at the moment, very heavy, strong and comfortable. I know I’m at the upper end weight-wise of what is manageable for me, what I can handle and still lead my busy active life. So I’m keeping a vigilant eye on not letting my weight get completely out of hand.” His stomach growled again very loudly.

“That’s a word – overall, I trust you’re a responsible person. Okay, we’re done. You can go have your breakfast now …. that sounds very hungry,” she patted his belly again.

“It is. Worse though is I’m so thirsty. Do you have a drink of water? I biked to the bakery before I came here to check on production and pick up fresh bread, and all that without even some water, since I was supposed to remain fasting for the blood work…”

“Oh no… if you biked here you definitely need something to drink. You should’ve said so much earlier, before the fitness cardio. You really take being active seriously … biking here so early,” she smiled at him over the rim of her glasses. “What are you up to now?”

“Bike home to a 533 pound breakfast,” he laughed. “But I have a new Müsli-roll to devour here on the spot, because I’m famished. You’ll get a copy of the cookbook in case you’re interested…”

“Definitely, otherwise I’d buy it. And I’d like an autographed one please!”



Unlocking his apartment door, he could smell frying from the kitchen, where Stephanie greeted him with a kiss. “What are you doing up already? I wanted to surprise you with breakfast in bed!”

“It’s a weekday; I’ve got to get going too. I thought I need to surprise you with a good hearty breakfast after such a dreadful morning… nothing to eat for hours, doctor’s appointment…”

“Mmmh… that’s sweet. I’m starving… let me shower though quickly again, I’ll be right there.”

Stephanie set a large plate with an appetizing omelet in front of him as he settled at the table, spreading his thighs to let his naked, animatedly jiggling belly sprawl on and between them. “Mushrooms, ham and Swiss cheese… hopefully how you like it.”

“Wonderful, just what I need,” spreading some chives cream cheese on a fresh slice of sunflower bread. “Yumm… slow me down, force me to talk … otherwise I’ll gobble this up way too fast..”

“Ummm… what did Dr. Preston say?” it came out very carefully and looking at her, he was surprised to notice she seemed rather apprehensive.

“Healthy as a whale.”

“Sure?”

He rolled his eyes and grabbed into his backpack sitting on the next chair. “Here you go, the results of my check up, black on white on paper….” It irritated him that everybody always demanded hard evidence regarding his health status.

Stephanie went through the pages in concentration as he finished his omelet, before she got up, wrapped her arms around him, groping up the fat roles of his back to end up gently squeezing his moobs and nibbling on his fleshy ear lobes.

“I’m sorry, of course I trust you. Only … yeah … that’s one thing that … you know how much I love it that you’re so proudly big. Still … the statistical risk of something happening to you, your health is a lot higher than if you were half your size. I can’t stand the thought of losing you. I wouldn’t survive that again….” she held him very closely.

“Hey, I’m not going anywhere if I can help it. I love life! I want to stick around as long as possible. Something like during the diet is not going to happen to me again, I’m watching my health and mobility …” he leaned in for a deep kiss. With his appeased stomach, after fresh air and exercise, Stephanie caressing his naked flesh, grabbing into her opulent hip while kissing was getting him nicely aroused. “How about finishing fruit & rolls and then a real little dessert…?” he murmured huskily.

“You don’t have dessert after breakfast – what are you thinking?” she poked his belly.

“We’ve been having dessert after breakfast frequently of late … it’s good for us..,” he fumbled to unbutton her blouse, but she pulled his hands off, slapping them playfully.
“I have a meeting at 10:00 to check on possible facilities for our teenage program … and you’re needed in the office. Be a good boy, finish your breakfast … then you’ll get a double helping of dessert tonight…,” she gave him a parting, throaty kiss, to clear his plate.

“Oh alright,” he pouted and spread strawberry-pink champagne jam on a slice of brioche, decorating it with a fresh strawberry. “Here – a sweet bite to go?” he pushed it to Stephanie’s lips, who quickly sank her teeth into his thick finger teasingly, before she retreated with exaggeratedly swaying hips.


Eying her cushiony backside, bulging beautifully again after the past weeks together, biting into the brioche with caramel cream spread along with some orange, he contemplated that making up after a separation was almost better than falling in love. Like a second helping mostly reinforced the pleasure of the first.

After their night on the floor of the preparatory kitchen, they had gone about getting back together rather cautiously. The next morning at 5:30 a very embarrassed Marcus had woke him up, stammering something about the film pre-view running over-time and that he and Claire hadn’t wanted to wake him and Stephanie at 1:00 a.m. because they were so fast asleep. He quietly helped Marcus prepare the breakfast buffet before they woke Stephanie and sent her home by cab.

Thank you for listening to me so patiently last night- was wonderfully cozy.” – was her short text a few hours later which got them started again on a loose regular exchange. Three days on, they met at Marcus’ small farewell party, greeting each other with a clumsy hug. The weekend after, Jason had a big party to celebrate handing in his B.A. thesis – incidentally on financing models for artisan producers – where he was confronted with the expectant eyes of Emily on him while Stephanie being very shy about them standing too close together. On leaving, all he wanted was to wrap her in his arm to take her home where she belonged, not stay in that awful student dump with 4 drunk guys.

Then he invited her to a wine tasting competition to help select new wines for the Langdon Residency’s cellar – a fun event since it not only involved an expert panel doing a blind tasting, but also an audience taste & vote. At the end, everybody was marvelously tipsy and he was so turned on, so over-excited from the inebriating evening next to Stephanie, he feared his burning hard on would scorch a hole in his pants and melt him into a huge puddle of lard. As soon as the event was officially closed, people started leaving; he pulled her along behind him and in the first secluded corner pushed her up against the wall kissing her hard. Tasting her again, feeling her pointed tongue, the urgency with which she responded and clawed at his chest was euphoria inducing, almost making him come in his pants.

Knowing he was never going to make it up to his office ensuite, he took her across the small corridor over to the pool area, which was closed by now. With his key, he entered Namée’s spa section, and went over to the massage room. Kissing Stephanie passionately, he started unwrapping her dress, wishing he had more hands to touch her soft breasts, the lovely curves of her hips, her meaty backside and lush thighs all at once. In turn she tugged his shirt out of his pants and tore at the buttons of his waistband and shirt, to then energetically pummel his flab, moaning. He wanted to settle on the broad massage stool, pull Stephanie on him, instead she steered him over to the padded bench and climbed on it drawing him down on her by his neck. “Squash me, please squash me – squash me hard!”

“You sure? Bench is on the hard side!” he panted.

“I need it real hard right now…,” she gasped as he pushed himself on her, delighting how wonderfully juicy she was under him, despite being thinner again. Their tension was so high, that their first re-coupling was over in a bang and a blast; they both were too impatient for reveling in and prolonging the moment. Afterwards they sat silently on the massage bench; Stephanie wrapped firmly around him, gently pawing his fat roles, his head resting drowsily on her shoulder.

“So sorry I made us miss this for so long, it’s my fault… so sorry,” she murmured.

“It’s okay; we can make up for it now.”


Make up for it they did after he took her to his office ensuite that evening since they were both too tipsy for the effort of going home. Within three days, she had moved her things back into his apartment. Later he always remembered the following weeks as a halcyon haze of indulgence consisting of food and sex. Her return gave him the inspiration to tackle the cooking and presenting of the dishes for the cook book shoot, so he quickly set a date with Jack Baines, who was as relieved as Janey Smithson at the publisher’s that he finally was willing and able to complete the project.

Leaving Tricia to run the hotel, Marcus the restaurant, Claire the deli and Jerome the bakery, he spent his days between bedroom and kitchen – be it in the hotel or at home, concentrating on making picture perfect dishes to then lustily devour them with Stephanie. One day he had made no fewer than 18 different starters & first courses, sometimes up to three variations of one dish. Jack had taken all the pictures of the dishes; afterwards he had arranged them as like an equestrian parcours of food from the apartment door to the bedroom. When Stephanie came home, he made them eat their way through the parcours, at each dish stripping themselves of a piece of clothing and testing inventive new ways of feeding each other.

By the time they reached the bedroom, they were both naked and achingly full. His belly had already had its fair share of sampling before to check whether the dishes had turned out right not only visually – now it was a bloated planet he propelled in front of him, inwardly sloshing, outwardly swaying. Stephanie’s middle was also strikingly distended, a taught rosy sphere which she held with a groan as she flopped back on the bed: “I’m so, so full! And I’m getting so, so fat again!”

“You’re blooming and more beautiful with every bite, my Nana,” he leaned over her and popped a small roll of cured venison into her mouth, while carefully pressing his fingers in waves over her bulging tummy to her crotch, enticed by the different textures of softness and density.

She half turned and started kneading small and bigger roles in the vastness of his belly fat, making him lean back, relax and purr with pleasure. “Monster tummy is getting more and more monstrous again lately, isn’t it?” Stephanie teased, kissing it all over as far as she could reach.

“Hmmh … yeah … mmmh …. I greatly prefer make up expansion to the break up diet … you know that,” he inhaled sharply as she teased the underside of his belly with his erection. “And you said so yourself, food, fun and sex – my favorite combination.”


Despite the fact that their making up indulgence was putting Stephanie almost as much into expansive mode as it did him, she groused very little about her obvious weight gain, simply pulled bigger or more forgiving cloths out of the closet as her ass cheeks inflated, her belly roll deepened and her thighs re-acquired that stupendous bulging conicity. Even before he had consciously acknowledged it, he had been captivated by the sensation of his expanding flesh – now with Stephanie incessantly tenderly stroking, caressing and fondling his once more swelling bulk it had an über-erotic quality of continuous fulfillment.

Although they didn’t speak again about the reasons of their break up, they both made a mindful effort to lay those issues to rest. One evening, as Stephanie was getting dressed to go to the season opening concert at the beer garden, putting on his Christmas present earrings, he went and opened her jewel box, rummaged through the bottom drawer and pulled out her ruby engagement ring, slipping it on her finger. She stared at him open-mouthed, wordless, so he kissed her murmuring: “They’re well matched and meant to be worn together, aren’t they?” making her squeeze him so ferociously, he choked.

For the final picture shoot in the restaurant and bakery with Ingrid, he had carefully chosen two days when Stephanie was away on a training course for her new children’s program. Plus he took Jason along as chaperon and safeguard against further misunderstandings. Towards the end of their second day of shooting at the deli bistro, there was a 2 hour power cut which wrecked havoc with their schedule, so they weren’t done at 4 o’clock as planned. His phone bleeped towards 7 o’clock with a text from Stephanie: “Am back and have dinner ready for 4 – bring Ingrid & Jason with you”

Despite the invitation, he was very apprehensive as he climbed the stairs to his apartment, Ingrid and Jason already waiting up on the landing.
“Hi Ingrid, thanks for coming. Must say though …. I’m very nervous about meeting you…,” Stephanie opened the door to give Ingrid a very crooked smile – but he never loved her more than he did in that moment, knowing how much effort was behind this gesture.

The only cloud far and wide was his continued stalemate with Warren. Tentatively he went on pursuing the project of the loft hotel next to the bakery – and although he put little energy into it, the city planning authority voted in favor. He made one more serious attempt to get back in touch with Warren, when he mailed him the acknowledgements he had planned for the cook book:

“To my fathers: In memoriam Thomas Sebastian Maynard, who taught me everything and passed on our family heritage. My most sincere gratitude to Warren Langdon, without whom I never would have been able to live up to that heritage and develop my talents.”


Despite also asking Lea to speak to Warren, he again got no response to the day the book went to print, so he left the wording as it was without Warren’s explicit consent.
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Old 06-27-2015, 05:11 AM   #44
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Stretching over the railing, he took his mother’s hand to steady her as she climbed abroad the boat on the Orsay embankment. He had made sure to be safely off the narrow metal ramp because it had creaked and sagged dangerously under his weight. The sun was warm but the late April wind still chilly as he checked out a bench on the lee side onto which he slowly lowered his bulk with Eugenie settling next to him.

“My baby, a Paris boat trip in the spring sun – how lovely! I haven’t done this since I first came here almost 40 years ago. This is a lovely surprise! I’m so glad you convinced me to stop-over on the way back from my gallery visits in Zurich. We don’t get to do many things together anymore, do we?”

“It’s nice, isn’t it? I haven’t done one either since way back during my internship here,” he smiled down at her nervously, blushing. “Well … but … this isn’t my actual surprise….,” pulling his phone out of his windbreaker, scrolling through it.

“What is the actual surprise then? Don’t torture me, my baby!”

Showing her the phone with a picture of him and Karim, taken just two days earlier as he had gone shopping with him for new summer sandbox equipment, he started: “Umm … I want you to meet this little guy. He’ll join us on the boat at Parc de la Villette…”

“Oh .. such a cute picture of you my baby! You look so happy! Who is the little boy?”

“Look at him closely …. Who does he remind you of?”

“He looks adorable … actually a lot like you did when you were a baby….,” she smiled fondly at the picture. “I loved having you as a baby; you were always such a good boy …. you still are today… it’s very nice to do things together with a grown son too…”

Swallowing hard, it was an uncomfortable jolt that she hadn’t drawn the obvious conclusion regarding the resemblance; that he had to spell it out himself. “Gigi … I … well … errs… the resemblance is no coincidence. That’s Karim, my son … in the picture … your grandson…”

“Your son? But why? How? And when? Stephanie can’t be his mother … he must be older than you’ve known each other… Who? Why?” she shook her head, leaving him to take very deep breaths to keep his cool. “Christopher - who is the mother of your son? Why do I not know the mother of my grandson?”

He had never expected this reaction, so much logical thinking. And Gigi rarely ever called him by his first name that always meant serious business. “You know her, mummy. It’s Nora Djenardi, from the hotel,” he said quietly, hoping coming clean would help. “We had an affair over several years – yeah – and Karim was the unexpected product. He’s adorable, isn’t he? It was such a surprise…”

“Madame Djenardi is married, is she not?”

He was too perplexed to answer; having a rational discussion with his mother on such an emotional issue had seemed as likely as snow on 4th July. “Christopher – please answer – Madame Djenardi is married, or not?”

“Yes, she’s married…. has been for many years…. but they never had children…”

“Oh how could you, Christopher! I raised you to be a good man, like Tom, like my father – always loyal to the family and the business. Not be a cheating liar, go off wrecking families …. so like your father,” she hid her face in her hands, sobbing.

Her words left him speechless, frozen, staring at the houses of Paris glide by, the mixed sounds of Eugenie’s sobs, the whistle of the wind and the traffic noise on shore. After several attempts to speak, he finally wrapped his arm around her and muttered: “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. It just happened – we were very attracted to each other. And I didn’t cheat. I wasn’t in a relationship during our affair …”

“Yes you cheated! You cuckolded Monsieur Djenardi, knowingly!”

“But Nora initiated it … I would never have…”

“A good man says ‘no’ to a married woman, even if she shows interest in you! I never believed you would do something so wrong! You’re your father’s son after all! I always thought you had turned into a true Maynard. And then not telling me for so long! How old is Karim – almost two? Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”

Shaking his head and closing his eyes this was a nightmare on par with the discussions with Warren about his weight and the diet. And he had only imagined it as a happy, maybe a bit teary family reunion. “I didn’t think about it that way …. I thought it was okay if it was okay for Nora in their marriage…”

“Philandering is never okay! Why didn’t you inform me? Don’t I have a right to know I have a grandson?”

“I didn’t find out about it myself until November … when I saw Karim here in Paris. Nora hadn’t told me she was pregnant …. there are only three people – with you now four – who know that I’m Karim’s biological father – that’s Nora, me and Stephanie.”

“Stephanie knows – and she didn’t walk out on you?”

“No, she understands, it was long before we got together. She even urges me to keep in touch with him, also told me to tell you, let you get to know Karim…,” this sounded more certain than he felt, for he could sense his cheeks growing hot, being aware that Karim had been one underlying issue in their temporary break-up.

“I’m so disappointed in you Christopher. Impregnating another man’s wife,” Eugenie shook her head, tears starting to flow. “I thought we managed to teach you the difference between good and bad, to be honest …. I never thought I’d have to face this again…,” she started shaking with sobs.

The cold dread in the pit of his stomach was back, he had never been criticized so strongly by his mother before. He hugged her against his side and mumbled after a while: “I’m so sorry; I didn’t want to make you ashamed of me …. I thought you’d be happy about a grandson, another little boy like me ….”

She continued crying softly for a while before she blew her nose. “I would’ve been very happy about a grandson, but from your rightful partner – not from someone else’s wife. Not being honest to me, not telling me immediately about it … that hurts me even more. What else have you been keeping from me? Not telling me the truth? If there is anything else important I don’t know about yet – please tell me now!”

Sighing heavily, he had trouble thinking straight. How could he explain to Eugenie that they’d always kept so many relevant things from her because of her odd ways of seeing life – and to shield her from being hurt or worrying? Yet a gut instinct told him he had to tell her now about his row with Warren, as impossible as the situation was, if she found out any other way after this talk, it might lead to irreparable damage in their relationship. “The bakery is now fully our own again, I bought Warren out as a partner. We’ve separated our joint business – and I’ll probably be leaving the hotel soon…”

“You and Warren have separated your business? But why? How could you do that after all Warren did for you? He has been more than a father for you … helping us resurrect the bakery… What’s wrong with you? I don’t know you anymore – I didn’t raise you to be like this…”

“I didn’t want to have to break up with Warren, believe me! Only he didn’t want anything more to do with me after I refused to have weight loss surgery…” something like panic was starting to rise in him.

“Weight loss surgery? What’s that? Why should Warren insist you have surgery?”

This reaction made him let out a small sigh of relief; this sounded a lot more like the mother he knew. “Warren thinks I’m way too fat to be his business partner. The surgery would cut away some of my stomach and intestine, so I am forced to eat less, lose weight….”

“Cutting some of your stomach? But that would kill you! I don’t believe this – Warren would never do such a thing. He didn’t say a word about any of this when I was at the ‘Imperial’ a few weeks ago. What really is the reason?”

“That is the reason, please believe me. I … I … we don’t have time for the whole story now. Look, there’s the landing. See the little boy in the red parka? That’s Karim…,” he felt himself choke up. Nora had directed Karim’s attention to the boat – and as he waved down, they both waved back. Karim was jumping up and down and Nora was having trouble keeping him from falling into the water as he dashed eagerly to get on the boat.

“Christopher, I really don’t know if I can do this…,” Eugenie wiped her eyes again.

“Mummy, we can’t back out now. Look, they’re coming up the stairs to the deck already.”

Alarm crossed Nora’s expression as she must have noticed Eugenie’s red eyes and his distraught mien, but she covered it up nicely: “Regarde Karim, c’est Christophe! Dit bonjour!

Bojou Titoffe,” Karim smiled big.

Et voilà la mère de Christophe, Eugénie. Nous allons faire une promenade en bateau ensemble. Deux mères et deux fils sur un bateau …," Nora stretched out her hand to Eugenie, who took it and squeezed it tight. To mask his own embarrassment, he grabbed Karim, whirled him around and set him up on his shoulders, making him squeal with glee and clap his hands, chanting: “Karim … bateau … Karim … bateau…

Not only the next two hours, as it turned out the next two days were a prolongation of his nightmare with Eugenie. The boat ride actually went quite smoothly. Nora was very careful and diplomatic – and it was impossible to resist the charms of a happy, lively toddler chattering snippets of French. Going back to the hotel though, his mother completely ignored him, didn’t respond to any of his invitations for meals or sight-seeing, evaded him totally. She didn’t even ride with him to the airport for their flight back together; instead she left a note saying a colleague from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs was taking her.

Disappointment, guilt, the sense of being wronged and plain loneliness left him hurt and confused. He missed Stephanie badly, wanted to be cuddled and comforted by her – but didn’t feel like this was an issue he could easily discuss on the phone. He missed his kitchen, being able to cook and bake would’ve been a welcome way to clear his head. Not feeling up to seeing people, he had raided the excellent ‘Flo’ deli after the disastrous boat tour and washed an entire buffet down in his room with a bottle of Saint-Emilion, one of the best comfort wines ever. Dessert was the big 36 box of Pierre Hermée’s legendary macaroons, making him almost sick, but it at least leaving him with the consolation of total satiation, an achingly full gut that blocked out all other sensations.

The next days he mainly spent with long solitary walks along the Seine and through the parks; he went out to Fontainebleau for a spring regional specialties fair, but couldn’t really concentrate on discovering new licquors or patés. On entering the airplane, a friendly flight attendant ushered him over to business class, informing him he had been upgraded. For a second he was tempted to try hiding from his mother at the other end of the plane, but then he informed the flight attendant, that the seat next to him had been booked for his mother. “Naturellement” the upgrade was also available for ‘madame mère’ she smiled.

Lifting the armrest, he sank ponderously onto the seats, making them shudder, rock and creak slightly. As he spread and settled his bulk, the flight attendant came back with his mother and a seat belt extension, which he declined as he fastened his own around the expanse encircling him. Seeing Eugenie continue to look away from him as she arranged herself on the third seat, he sighed and folded his hands over his belly. In a situation like this, he was truly grateful for the masses of heavy, warm, well-fed - after a fabulous three-course lunch - flesh in his lap. They brought a physical comfort, a feeling of belonging that helped bear the amount of cold and alienation between him and Eugenie. Still he had trouble imagining how they would get through the next 8 hours sitting next to each other in icy silence.

The aircraft taxied to the runway, only for the pilot to announce they needed a new slot for take-off because of the wind-conditions, making him moan inwardly – 35 minutes more in this situation. Looking moodily out the window, his belly was suddenly patted: “Christopher my baby, I’m sorry I was so upset, so angry with you. Now finish your story, what happened between Warren and you?”

Relief flooded him as he wrapped his mother in a tight hug before telling her the entire story – admitting he should have told it to her Christmas a year ago. “I guess … well .. I just didn’t tell you because I know how much you like Warren, how I high your opinion is of him. I didn’t want you to be upset. In turn it must’ve been the same for him – he cares for you too, very much, so he hasn’t said anything either. That’s what we still can agree on – we don’t want you to worry.”

“I’m your mother though. I have to know if such awful things are troubling you.”

“Can you understand why I fell out with Warren? That I simply couldn’t say yes to having weight loss surgery forced on me?”

“Of course I understand that. It’s absolutely wrong of Warren to demand such a dangerous surgery from you. What if something had gone wrong? Will you still be as strong and healthy in many years after such an invasive change in your body? You eat well and always were a very active boy….”

“Thank you. I know I eat too much – I love food; working with it, developing new ideas and eating them all up. I need to watch my weight more than I have, exercise enough, but I feel really good like I am. And Stephanie loves me this way too.” He sighed, not looking at her: “What about Karim? Can you forgive me?”

“How can I not love such a darling little boy, who is my grandson, who is so much like you?” she sighed. “Still – it was wrong to have an affair with Mme Djenardi, no matter how happy she is today with Karim. But you’re doing the right thing now by keeping contact, showing you’re there as a friend in case they need help. It’s all very confusing – I had hoped never to face such a situation again.”

“Does that mean …well … umm … does that mean I have siblings somewhere?” this question came out very low, against his better judgment, but it had been bothering him intensely the past days.

Eugenie looked at him in wide-eyed surprise. “No idea. I honestly don’t know your father never got back in touch with any of us again.”

“Oh… I thought….”

“Your father had several affairs during our marriage – that’s all I know of. I don’t know whether he had other children. It was a shock… nothing like that had happened before in our family. Seeing you do something so similar – it’s a shock, and a big disappointment.”

“I’m so sorry; I never wanted to disappoint you …. I didn’t think much about it, when Nora wanted more than being colleagues …,” he shuddered, thinking what might happen if Gigi found out about his affair with Mary Helen, or ever talked to Tricia about microwave dishes. Somehow he had never thought about which moral standards his mother might have. She’d always had such eccentric opinions on many issues; it caught him completely by surprise that she was a moral conservative on some matters. Yet he was truly ashamed he had disappointed her so much. “I hope someday I can make up for this … earn your love and respect again…”

“You’re my baby Christopher, you always will be. Of course I still love you; I’ve never loved anybody as much as I love you. You’re the only family I have left. It’s just … I don’t trust you fully any more. Tom used to tell me I’m too trusting ….so it might be normal to see things even in you I can’t trust …”

He smothered her in another embrace. “Thank you …um…”

“What is it my baby?”

“Hmmh … nothing…”

“You want to ask something? What is it?”

“Well … was my father fat?” he mumbled, embarrassed because this question sounded so stupid, but it had been rummaging through his mind the past days.

“No, absolutely not. He was tall like you, but lean, lanky. You’ve got grandpère Jean-Charles build, my grandfather, he was big like you – and he really expanded the bakery. He was a wonderful man; you’re a lot like him, actually.”


Three weeks later, as Stephanie took Eugenie by the arm to guide her to their seats on the small audience platform in the TV studio; he smiled after them, the last of a mental weight lifting from him. The contrary was true for his physical weight as he looked down on an imposingly burgeoning 541 pound gut, hanging over a 72” waist – the latest findings of his tailor, results of the constant show cooking and eating sessions of the past 10 days since the launch of his cook book. Today was the first official TV presentation on a nationwide morning show with a cooking section, so he was duly nervous.

That Eugenie had immediately agreed to come with him and Stephanie as guests to the show confirmed that she had forgiven him. Nora had been very helpful by sending her pictures of meeting Karim on the boat unprompted, so she could be steered into the role of the delighted first time grandmother. Stephanie had also done her part in letting him put things into perspective. She had noticed how agitated he had been on his return and gotten him to spill the story, cuddling and kissing him, though also laughing under her breath.

“That wasn’t funny at all – it was awful! I’ve never had Gigi be so angry at me, ashamed of me and disappointed.”

“Christopher dear, I’m laughing a bit because it’s so odd that a grown man like you has such a dispute with his mother for the first time in his mid thirties.” She kissed him. “That’s also the unusual aspect of your row with Warren- those are the classic arguments you have growing up, when you loosen the cord that binds you to the parental generation, finding your own way in life, your own set of values and preferences.”

“You make me sound like some nerdy late-bloomer…,” he was disgruntled that she found this entertaining.

“In this point, admittedly only in this point, you are a nerdy late-bloomer. That can be really sexy too,” she giggled as she kissed him again and pinched his love handles fiercely. “It’s unusual because in most aspects of life you early on carried more responsibility than is normal for your age. Somehow though you never had that critical opposition regarding personal choices as a teenager and young adult in your life. Probably because of your unusual family situation, that Warren sort of ‘adopted’ you as a conscious decision – you never had to grapple over, test boundaries with your parents, all that comes as a normal part of growing up. Everybody was too plain delighted to have you to be fussy about details … so now I have to deal with you as a big spoiled baby, sooo big, but sooo cute …. Mmhhh,” she pulled up his shirt and started nuzzling his chest.

“My Nana, stop it, not now …. This is serious … what should I do? What did you do in the case of your parents? Did you have such rows?”

“As I said Christopher, these kinds of arguments with parents are nothing special. You did everything right – you apologized to Gigi – and she got the big consolation prize of a darling little grandchild. She’ll get over it, even if it uncomfortably reminded her of the break-up of her marriage,” she stroked his cheek. “Even though I don’t really think that comparison was quite justified, it was one of her emotional overreactions -”

“Really? Why not?”

“You know I don’t necessarily approve of your amorous history. Yet for a longer-term single guy to have some affairs is more of the norm. In the case of Karim – I don’t think real harm was done, in contrast to the marriage of your parents. Nora is a happy mother; you’ve found a role for yourself as biological father. And my guess is that Monsieur Djenardi most likely realizes Karim is not genetically his son. But it’s a price he’s willing to pay for the once in a lifetime chance of being the social father to that dear little kid, of having a real family, for continuing their good marriage. So it’s a situation all involved can live with very well.”

He held her very close. “Thank you so much. That sounds reassuring. What about you and your parents?”

“Huuuh … you know them. Uncommunicative, wrapped up in their rather narrow thoughts. So I had the classic fights with them early in my teen years. My mom always says I’m waaay too fat and that I didn’t try hard enough to diet, that I had maybe size 12 as a goal for myself, not size 6 – because I simply don’t have the build for that. Naturally both my parents disapprove of my choice of partners, first Timmy, now you…”

“Your parents disapprove of me?” once more he was unpleasantly surprised.

“Of course they do, what else do you expect?”

“Well … I’m not that bad a catch, am I? What’s wrong with me in their eyes?”

“Silly – fishing for compliments,” she rubbed his ears. “You’re naturally too fat for them, just like Timmy was. They’re also in awe and a bit afraid of you – because you’re so eloquent, own a big business, you’re totally out of their league…”

“It’s mostly still more of the banks than own my business….,”

“Never mind, it’s not important how they see you. Grandmums strongly approves of you, likes you very much, so does Jason – they’re the ones in my family that count for me.” She kissed him hard and grabbed deep into his belly. “Mmmh … I missed you so much. Things’ll work out again with Gigi. Now stop worrying, roll over and smother me… I want that bad….”


Stephanie’s prediction proved true as he watched them talk animatedly and give him a thumbs up as he waited for his appearance behind the scenes. Then the light switched to green indicating a commercial break and the show host Jim Shenigan half dashed by him: “Wanna join me for a quick smoke before it’s your turn?”

“No thanks. Smoking ruins the taste buds – professional no-no for me.”

“Your profession unfortunately is a no-no for me – ruins the waistline,” Shenigan slapped his belly.

“Depends on what you expect of a waistline,” he grinned at Shenigan’s irritated expression as he hurried off out the door.

Although the celebrities staying at the ‘Langdon Residency’ had early on taught him that the real life appearance was often worlds apart from someone’s on-screen persona, this TV studio visit illustrated this vividly. Jim Shenigan was in his late forties but without the screen lights looked like mid-sixties with a hairpiece, furrowed skin and the highly unpleasant smell of a chain-smoker. Amy Potter, his female co-host, was only three years older than he himself was, but looked at least 13 years more, because she was so starved, had over-bleached her hair and also looked like she’d fallen victim to an excess of plastic surgery.

So maybe it was no wonder the pretty, rosy, surprisingly natural looking young make-up artist had been thrilled by his skin: “Oh you have a good shaver, very considerate to prepare for a TV appearance…” to continue as she started powdering him. “Also wonderful skin, so fine and fresh, my job here hasn’t been so easy in a long time. We’ll only need powder to avoid shininess and reflections, no actual make-up. Which skin-care products do you use?”

“Umm .. no idea. I shave once or twice a day. A weekly massage with some Asian oil, enough fresh air … that’s it. Plus inner nourishment – I eat, drink and sleep well, leads to quality natural upholstering,” he patted his belly giving her a wink.

“It must be the eating,” she laughed and pinched his full cheek. “I need to try some of your recipes, they sound fantastic. By the way – I bought your book – would you autograph it for me?”


Our regular viewers know we cook once a week in our show – and today we have a special guest for you: Christopher Maynard, owner of Maynard’s New French Boulangerie with deli and bistro – and author of the most interesting and controversial cook book of the season. Here he is, welcome Christopher Maynard,” Amy Potter’s introduction was his cue to go on stage. He held himself very straight, deliberately walked slowly in order not to lumber and smiled toward Amy and the camera.

“It’s a pleasure to be here, thank you for inviting me, Amy,” he shook her hand and carefully sat down on the wide sofa, which fortunately offered ample space.

“Your book has a most unusual title for a cook book - ‘Oral fixation – The sheer joy of excellent eating’. Why this choice of title?”

“Somebody who is personally very important to me once pointed out that I have an oral fixation, that my life centers around really good food. So I chose the title for two reasons: One – to emphasize how important it is to think about what we put in our mouths, that eating is a key element in our lives. Second – to remind readers that excellent food is a sheer joy, something that should not be associated with guilt, shame and worries.”

Amy Potter looked at bit irritated at his answer; somehow it didn’t seem to fit the next question on the teleprompter or her cards. “Err… before we move on, I would like to point out that our show is member of the ‘American Alliance against Obesity’. With our features we want to promote healthy eating, of fresh fruits and vegetables, less processed foods and those high in fat and sugar content.”

“Exactly Amy, we could not agree more.” He smiled at her broadly, knowing he was catching her off guard. “That’s what my book is all about – really making your own food again from scratch, using natural, unprocessed ingredients. It’s by no means a diet cook book, but the natural cooking and baking in my family has always been about a balance of high quality flavors and nutrients. True – fat and sugar are the most important flavor carriers. But there are lots of natural ways of substituting them without compromising taste or quality. Take something as simple as mashed potatoes. Sure you can make them with lots of butter and double cream. You can get just as wonderful a result with milk heated with laurel leaf, some nutmeg, a bit of olive oil and parmesan. ‘Oral fixation’ is about finding the best combinations of ingredients, tastes and consistencies to meet individual preferences as well as offering options for different dietary needs and beliefs.”

“But … but … you’re super morbidly obese… how can you claim your book is about healthy eating?”

“I greatly prefer ‘outstandingly corpulent’ as descriptive for my size,” he folded his hands over his belly. Having anticipated this tricky part of the interview, he had mentally stored a few responses in the back of his mind. “I can assure you though that all this is high quality fat, made from excellent ingredients and well exercised,” he patted his gut. “Running a bakery, deli with bistro plus an haute cuisine restaurant kitchen – I’m simply exposed to a lot more food than, let’s say someone who uses my cookbook to prepare his or her three regular meals a day.”

“Don’t you think you’re being a bad role model for people, being so obes … err … extremely corpulent – while promoting food and recipes? What about the long term consequences of being so overweight on your health?”

“I don’t see myself as a role model for individual life choices. What I do hope to achieve though, is do my part in reviving artisan food manufacturing, to get away from industrial food production and it’s often negative side effects, as you can see in the prevalence of processed foods. I hope I’m setting an example there for other young chefs, bakers and entrepreneurs.”

“I’m sorry, that did not answer my question. You’re weight is totally irresponsible..,” Amy Potter was getting truly agitated that his responses didn’t seem to fit the plan.

“My weight is only my personal responsibility, nobody else’s. I monitor my health closely, because I know it’s important to make sure it stays as good as it is. My fat gut is part of me, part of my life – and it’s a conscious choice by now. As to the long term effects – I don’t know, but neither does anybody else regarding the choices they make. Do you know which long-term effects the silicon might have you had implanted in your chest? Or Jim here, who’s giving me a disapproving eye – what does your health sheet say about your chain smoking?”

There was a gasp from the audience and then some clapping, which slowly grew louder. Amy shuffled through her cards obviously having trouble controlling herself. “That was out of line. I will not have something so private discussed here on air.”

“Why are your implants entitled to more privacy than my belly is? Personal choices should stay personal, no matter how common is has gotten to turn weight into a public issue, for profuse on air bashing. My goal on coming here was to present my cook book, its recipes and the quality food philosophy that’s behind it – not myself of my lifestyle choices.” The audience now clapped enthusiastically and there even were some wolf-whistles.

“That’s what we’ll do – introduce the recipes – as soon as we’re back in a few minutes after these words from our sponsor,” to save the situation, Jim Shenigan turned a big teeth smile to the camera.

Seeing on screen though that the camera immediately shifted back to him, Christopher smiled at it cheekily too. “Then I’ll show you three ways of preparing stuffed, oven baked vegetables – to keep this show as healthy as it is intended to be.”
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Old 06-27-2015, 05:12 AM   #45
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“555, 555 rolling pounds,” he grinned to himself as he turned over on his bed to get up, watching with fascination as the mammoth bulges, rolls, tires and bags of fat on his torso followed his movements with sluggish delay. With a puff he pushed himself in an upright position, his long thick pillar like legs dropping over the side of the bed. Steadying his upper body on his arms, he maneuvered for a moment to spread his thighs wide enough to push out and arrange the mountain of belly in his lap. Stephanie’s side of the bed was empty, so with a low sigh of contentment he stretched and explored his flesh masses with his hands. It was all still there, thick, heavy, warm and reassuring as ever: He shook the tractor sized tires of his love handles, felt the bulging flesh roles under his arms to where they merged into those tender big round pillows of moobs he squeezed before he experimentally lifted his belly with both arms. The weight, the stupendous amount of flab he could barely grasp, made his usual morning horniness flash urgently.

So he had put on those 100 pounds after his diet, his girth had reached those monumental proportions he had once secretly fantasized about. Most of the time he was simply relaxed and comfortable with his size – but every once in a while a heated ardor hit him of how much he subconsciously actually reveled in his bulk. It was an understanding he found hard to describe, what it truly meant to him: A mixture of pride, a sense of achievement and empowerment, defiance, tactile delight and extravagantly lusty pleasure all wrapped into one. For ‘normal’ people this might be a completely alien, delusional state of mind – but what the norm was interested him less and less. All that mattered was that Stephanie seemingly took just as much comfort and sensual gratification from his immensity, although he did not dare openly speak about the issue to her either, only a few loving, grateful murmurs when she was intensely caressing his flab.

For this morning that was enough narcissistic self-fondling – he needed to get going, especially since today was one of his cherished indulgence days – but this might be the best way to start it. Straining all the meaty muscles under their flab encasement, he heaved himself to his feet with a grunt, registering how his fat shook, sagged, wobbled, rolled and bounced ponderously.

Waddling barefoot to the bathroom, he grimaced at his reflection in the hallway mirror – it entertained him also in the hotel that his gut always entered the picture first, letting him pat the farthest point of his protuberance energetically.

As he opened the door of the bathroom, his field of vision was immediately filled with two overabundant ass cheeks in too small black-and-red knickers, fresh flab oozing demandingly over the seams. “What a lovely sight, good morning my Nana,” he pushed his gut on her backside as she was bending over the sink, wrapped his arms around her and start fingering her front, playing with her breasts and kissing her neck while he more and more pinned her down with his weight.

“Good morning sleepy head! Hey cool it; you’re squashing me into the sink!”

“Mmmhh, you feel so good, so juicy ….. so, so sexy….,” he kneaded her full soft breasts, further aroused as their nipples turned into hard, round little cherry pits, biting playfully into her neck. “How about us getting into the hottest and heaviest 777-pound sex there is right here and now…,” he schmoozed into her ear.

“You love that number don’t you?”

“It’s by far the sexiest number I know …” he rubbed himself against her pumpkin but, pressing his flab hard into her so he could reach around, jounce her nicely plumped little tummy pillow teasing the inside of her marvelously swelling thighs.

“I’m not quite as enamored by my 222 pounds as you are …,” Stephanie gasped as he fingered her up, “but I do adore your appreciation…,” she squirmed, flaring his excitement. “Stop it … it’s a week day …. you have work … I even have that kick-off event for our study program….”

“Come on … a flab-ulously fat-astic slow quickie…. it’ll make it an even better week-day for both of us….” He turned her around, engulfed her in his flesh and kissed her, pushing in and withdrawing to titillate her even further. Automatically she started pulling, pummeling his flab playfully, groping his moobs, her breathing quickening… “Oh alright…. you win …. a quickie in the shower….”

In the room size shower stall he shover her against the wall with his belly, as she massaged his hard-on and gut in circular motions until she turned, steadying herself of the brick-built bench so he could lift his gut on her bulging backside, gently push himself in position inside her, massaging her deliciously meaty ass cheeks while bringing his own bulk into rocking motions, relishing in the pulsing feeling making his and her flesh jiggle, bounce, vibrate and wobble first slowly, then more and more until it was waves of heaviness crashing around him. Although he wanted the agonizing pleasure to go on forever, he couldn’t hold it any longer, bracing himself with his arms against the wall so Stephanie wouldn’t have to hold the full load of his weight.

Collapsing on the bench, fighting for breath, she snuggled against him, rubbing his chest. “Oh god … you have no idea how intense your weight makes everything feel….”

“I can only hope it feels as good for you as it does for me…”

“Mmmh…,” she pushed herself deeper in his embrace, to have more fat wrapped around her, before she suddenly briskly got up. “Okay- week day. Time to cool down and get ready….” Turning on the cold shower and drenching both of them with it, making him sputter. “Ugggh”

Standing in front of the mirror later, his gut spreading in the sink, he smirked at his reflection as he shaved, noting that the role of his double chin now had taken over half his neck. If he weren’t so tall, it would be all gone by now, but this way it really blended in well with his full cheeks, healthily flushed after his morning exercise.

The sun shone into the window and remembering the weather forecast had announced another very warm Indian summer day, he decided to powder his flab to stay fresh. Next to Namée’s oil massages, he credited Nora’s advice of powdering his creases and folds when it was warm – she had gotten him started on that Mediterranean tradition with some cool, spicy Italian men’s powder he now regularly mail ordered – for his smooth skin and the exquisite feel of his thick padding.

“Let me do that my baby,” Stephanie came back in, fully dressed to apply her makeup. She was wearing a black-and-cream dress they had bought on their first visit in Paris he loved on her – especially in its current version. Originally it had had pleats around a low neckline gathered in the waist – now it fit as a sheath as she had let the gathered folds out, her fuller cleavage stretched the pleats and it brought out the abundantly round curve of her abdomen and back side.

“I can do that myself. Stop talking to me like my mother…”

“Well, Gigi is right, isn’t she … you're our extremely outsized, very spoiled baby … aren’t you..?” she purred while expertly rubbing powder under his moobs, letting him moan softly with satisfaction. “You have such great skin, so silky, stretched over so much, so so soft flesh … really like a baby…” she lovingly stroked more and more powder on him.

“You’d love a real baby of your own, wouldn’t you…?”

“Hmmmh … there you go …. now get dressed my big pampered fatty,” she spanked his backside. “Shall I get started on breakfast?”

“Thank you,” he gave her a quick kiss. “How about eggs Frederick with Maynard’s tasty new tomato chutney.”

“Sounds good. Shall I start fixing the toasts … two for me … now many for you?”

“Five?”

“Four is enough … even on indulgence day…,” she slapped his belly in exiting.


Whistling he lumbered through the park, enjoying the sunny morning, his suit coat slung over his shoulder and his agreeably filled belly wobbling and swaying in front of him. He greeted some regular guests at the front entrance on going in, hearing: “Christopher, wait! I have something for you!”It was Meret coming over from the deli bistro, waving an envelope in her hand.

“Morning Meret! What’s up?”

“Morning Christopher! I think I have the perfect idea for the foundation stone laying event at Maynard’s Loft Hotel! I did research, it’s not that complicated – all we need is a few projectors!”

“Okay – we shouldn’t discuss that here in the hotel! Let’s go back over to the deli!”

There he noticed Jason standing next to the door, to whom he waved a quick hello as Meret followed him inside. On the small, at this time of day empty reservations counter in the entrance of the deli bistro, she spread some papers and pulled out her tablet, while he exhaled and rested the load of his belly on the countertop.

“If we get projectors in some of the main areas – like lobby, loft bar, some rooms or the hallway – we can project the different designs from the architects you like on the walls, showing how it could look like in the end. And we can let out guests and visitors of the opening vote which one they like best. Of course there will be prizes – like a free weekend in one of the new suites, or a year’s supply of Maynard’s bread …. Or at least for all whose design is chosen a 20% discount on the room for the first two years or so….” she looked at him expectantly, her eyes though constantly wandering down to the 8XL-belly resting on the counter.

“Meret … you’re plain wonderful! That’s a brilliant idea! Fun, unusual with very high customer involvement. The projectors run with USB-stick for the slide shows … perfect … that should be technically achievable. We sure have enough empty walls to project the images on!” he caught her stare at his belly, giving it a slap. “Yeah – it’s gotten a lot bigger since we met. I doubt I could haul this size gut up on Mont Ventoux…”

“Of course you can… you exercise regularly, don’t you?”

“Sure … but this is about 75 pounds more than the already heavy load I had then… that wouldn’t work anymore,” a moment of regret crossed his mind.

“If you trained correct, like with a plan, I know you can do it. You’re a strong man. Why I can do the training plan with you now in winter with the stairs like in the post building across the street … then in next spring we can climb Mont Ventoux together again,” she smiled at him before her face fell. “I can do that only if I will be here this winter….”

“Meret I would love to do that with you – training in winter and up on Mont Ventoux again in spring,” her words and enthusiasm touched him. “Believe me; I’m doing everything so you can stay with us. There’s nothing I want more than you as guest & events manager for Maynard’s first hotel. We’re lucky you can be here on that odd work-study post grad-program writing that paper on planning a new hotel – and that winter semester with recess lasts until the end of March in Holland. You’re all set and safe until then – after that we’ll see. Brett is working on a visa solution for you.”

“Thank you Christopher,” she stood on tiptoe to give him a quick kiss on the cheek. “I go off to work on this presentation, organize the projectors, get the construction people to prepare the best sketches. Think about Mont Ventoux training! Bye Jason thanks for breakfast,” she hurried off.

“You had breakfast with Meret?” he raised his eyebrows to Jason, who duly blushed dark red.

“Why not? She’s nice … we almost work together.” Jason tried to appear nonchalant, before asking hesitantly: “Do you think she’s okay with a fat guy?” patting his own by now rather massive paunch, testifying to his having crossed the 300 pounds threshold recently. After graduating, he had started to work fulltime in accounting for Maynard’s and somehow took this as a license to indulge himself with their products to an extent even Christopher sometimes found shameless. Jason had laughed it off, saying he was only doing his best to fit into the appetite driven corporate culture. Stephanie though had admonished him: “You only have the right to eat as much as Christopher if you’re as active and creative as he is! Maynard’s didn’t become what it is today by him sitting on his ass all day crunching down calories and numbers like you do! Exercise more!”

“Meret is one of the most empathetic people I’ve ever met – I doubt she judges anybody by their outward appearance,” before his voice became stern: “However - I won’t have two of my employees scrambling over a third. I need Jerome and I need you – so keep your distance to Meret and let her decide whether she’s interested or not.”

Jason pulled a face. “Great advice …. I should’ve known after you sabotaged Meret moving into Steph’s old room in our house – instead giving her the beer garden’s backrooms to live in during winter. Jerome already has a head-start because he can speak Dutch to her….”

“I didn’t sabotage anything. That dump you call your house is plain unfit for anybody, let alone a woman, to live in.”

“Christopher, you’re such a snob. Not all of us can live in 5* hotels and eat gourmet menus every day. I’m staying there to save money for grad school…”

“It’s not about 5* hotels and gourmet menus. It’s basic good taste and self-respect to keep your surroundings pleasant to live in – all you need is a bit of paint, detergent and cleaner. Money is not the point. Same goes for cooking – an excellent pea soup that feeds 4 can be made for $ 2.50, preparation counts not the price of the ingredients. I hope to teach you that over time. I’m not a snob, by the way – and my good taste is helping you save up that money for grad school!”


Exiting the deli bistro, he thought again of it and turned to take the back stair well all the way up to the 16th floor to his office. Meret’s words had struck a chord in him and he very slowly, methodically as she had taught him started the climb. He did stairs a lot, knowing how good they were for his leg strength and stamina, mostly only 2-5 floors – not the full 16 at a time. After the 8th floor he panted and was drenched in sweat, but he continued at a snail’s pace without stopping. The last 20-30 pounds he had put on did make a difference physically – he now had to outmaneuver his belly mountain all the time, not only when it was stuffed, in bending over, reaching down, etc. Fitting in somewhere had turned more into an issue, assessing which seating, equipment, etc. could hold him.

It was a mixed blessing – naughty thrills of noticing just how outsized he had become occasionally alternated with an underlying fear of not being able to handle it anymore. He became keenly aware how much he needed his strength to keep his life the way he wanted it to be, so he carefully monitored his exercise. Without fully realizing it at first, he had drawn a line for his weight: After getting back from two food fair weeks of feasting, first at ANUGA Foodtec in Cologne, then at SIAL in Paris the scale had read an ominous 567 pounds. In the back of his head, seeing this number had made some kind of red light go on, for the next weeks he went out on his bike for an hour every day, swam 50% more, drank only one glass of wine for dinner and limited himself to one piece of pastry in the afternoon. Stephanie observed him for several days before she carefully asked him in a cozy moment whether he was alright. It had taken him some time to understand what she was referring to, but then he had shrugged: “There are limits to everything. I guess I’ve decided my weight limit is 555 – good looking number isn’t it? It’s three times what I weighed at my high school graduation – so it’s simply enough.” – verbalizing what had been subconsciously dawning on him for a while. A very long tender kiss had been Stephanie’s response: “Sometimes I really know why I love you so much.”

Reaching his office after the 16 floors, he was completely wiped out. He half hung on the couch for minutes catching his breath, before he could hang up his coat and tie, freshen up in the ensuite bathroom and put on a fresh shirt which he kept in his closet. Drinking more water and settling at his desk to turn on his computer, he noticed after maybe 20 minutes that he actually felt great, very energized and optimistic again, like he had at the top of Mont Ventoux. Meret was right, he needed to build up the stamina to do that, prove that a 500+ pound man could climb an almost 2000 m mountain.

His glance fell on the last three autographed copies of ‘Oral fixation’ he still had on his desk. The experience of promoting the cook book, not least the memorable TV appearance had kindled the ambition in him to show the world what a 555-pounder could achieve, that it was possible to be super fat and very successful, active and happy at the same time. The many e-mailed, tweeted, online and written responses he had gotten for his presentation had been surprisingly encouraging. Naturally, there had been the expected usual fat bashing, obesity-hysteria and a number of weight loss offers, including surgery. But he had been astounded by how many different positive replies there had been. First those who strongly approved of his stance of taking no shit from Amy Potter in the first place, calling her out for invading his privacy on-screen. Then some who were morbidly obese themselves and thanked him for giving them the courage to stand up to others. Or the motivation to start an active life with quality food, thus feeling better while being super fat. Several food and health associations had tested his recipes – coming up with the evaluation that they were not diet food, but offered excellent nutritional balance with healthy ingredients. This assessment was particularly valuable for him professionally- and it shut up some of the fat-phobics claiming his cook book was unhealthy, with a very positive side-effect on sales. Some students even founded a facebook group called ‘Oral fixation weight loss’ – proving that it was possible to lose weight by eating three Maynard recipe meals a day.

There had been only one negative response that had hit him pretty bad: The day after the TV show, he got a letter from Warren’s lawyers stating that he did not wish to be named in the acknowledgements – and that it needed to be deleted from the published books. It had taken him three days for the inner pain to subside enough to show Brett Norton the letter, who immediately took legal action. Stating that Warren had not objected within the given deadline against the acknowledgement – and if he wanted it deleted, he could pay for the re-print of 48 % of the first edition that had still been on the shelves. As compromise the acknowledgement was cut from the second edition onward.

Lea had gotten wind of this and called him, apologizing in the name of her family: “Christopher, you have my fullest sympathies and understanding now if you give up – sever your ties with Warren. His behavior is inexplicable and unforgivable – you have no reason to subject yourself to that kind of treatment. You deserve better. Go your own way and be happy.”

“Lea – I’m so sorry, what did I do wrong now? I gave him the chance to check the acknowledgments; he didn’t say anything before the launch of the book.”

“It was your TV appearance. Warren for some reason was very upset about how cool and content you were about your size, how you stood up to Amy Potter, how very successful you are right now. I think he’s jealous of you – and he feels he’s lost touch to one of the most important people in his life. But he refuses to admit that. I’m sorry – there’s nothing more I can do.”


Proving Warren wrong, showing him that there were no limits to how good his business and personal life could be at 555 pounds was in part what fueled him to work on the perfect balance of indulgence and activity to maintain his health and size as well as to continue building his business as best he could. It had prompted him to sign the contract for the building complex of his own loft hotel and get everything ready to start reconstruction. In line with this, he had signed his note of resignation as director of the Langdon Residency and given it to Brett, to mail two weeks before the foundation stone event for Maynard’s Loft hotel. That would be this Friday, day after tomorrow – meaning today was his last planning session for the restaurant kitchen. On Monday he would only come back to say good-bye to everyone …. a looming event he couldn’t face thinking about. Although with the bakery and deli going so well, the notion of his own hotel becoming more and more concrete, leaving the Langdon Residency behind him hurt less and less. Especially since he had a hunch – even though he hadn’t actively pursued it – that a number of employees would apply for the new jobs offered by Maynard’s Loft Hotel, bringing what he considered to be ‘his’ team back together. To Warren he had suggested Tricia as his successor with Marcus as chef responsible for the restaurant kitchen – that was all he could do.

Now he went through the mail, looking what needed to be decided right away – on everything else he fixed a post-it, wrote what he would do or referred to the file where the information could be found. At 10:30 a roar of appetite announced itself, letting him chuckle and rub the gut enormity before him: “Don’t worry, it’s indulgence day today…”

That was one of his self-established rules: One indulgence day per week, when he allowed himself to eat anything he felt like, have planning sessions plus meals, experiment in bakery or kitchen, and the like. On the other days, he ate three sensible, filling meals plus afternoon tea – or if he had tasting or planning sessions, they substituted meals. It worked pretty well, leaving him contently fed without gaining more–since his weight and activity level let him get away with lots of calories for maintaining.

Arriving in the kitchen, he hung his coat on the rack and wrapped himself in the marquee like apron, before taking a look at the menu plans and recipes Marcus had laid out. Claire came in, pink cheeked and gave him a hug, which he returned, carefully touching her belly: “How’s the little one doing?”

“Kicking great! Everything is just fine,” she beamed. Since she was so petite, her six month bump, by-product of some romantic spring days in Alsace with Marcus, really showed, but she looked happier than ever. Marcus followed her to wrap his arms protectively around her, looking like he was about to burst with paternal pride, all buttons on his cook jacket strained over a bigger than ever paunch, the bottom two not buttoned but only held closed by his apron.

Christopher grinned: “Now when are these triplets here due?” slapping Marcus’ gut.

“Look who’s talking – must be octo-belly himself…,” Marcus poked Christopher’s vast belly resting on the counter hard, sighing a bit. “You’re right though, I need to watch it. I don’t have your height and strength. I’ve already put on twice as much as Claire has so far with the baby – that’s not good. I don’t want to be too fat to bend down to pick up my kid … can you maybe give me your exercise plan? What’s your take on our menu suggestions, by the way?”

“I’ll print out the plan for you, it’ll do you good. Menu suggestions actually look excellent. I really like the idea of offering ‘teasers’ of the main menu in the bistro – now in high business travel season that’s a perfect way of generating business, keeping guests in house. They taste something great during a quick lunch at the bistro …. then they stay at the hotel restaurant to try the full menu for a nice relaxed dinner. Have you thought about offering a guaranteed reservation for dinner if someone has the lunch dish? Or something like a complimentary aperitif to go with it?”

Claire and Marcus looked at each other: “No, we haven’t. Great idea though,” Marcus cleared his throat, “but there’s the problem who would pay for that? The bistro or the restaurant?” looking at him uneasily. Both of them were in on his leaving the hotel, yet kept silence in front of others, like now with the entire kitchen staff attending.

“Well – you have to do the calculation,” he responded openly. “My advice would be to do it. The added planning security you have that way - knowing at lunch how many people will eat what for dinner, which and how many ingredients you need – saves you a lot more than an added drink costs. Let alone that because of better planning people get better service and are happier … it’s worth the restaurant’s minor investment.” His cell phone bleeped in his pocket. “Now let’s look into the new recipe suggestions … that baked baby squash stuffed with salmon & herbs sounds very interesting…,” looking over the recipe.

“It’ll be ready in five minutes, the oven timer says..,” one of the new sous-chefs responded.
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Old 06-27-2015, 05:14 AM   #46
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His cell phone bleeped again. Pulling it out, both messages were from Tricia – so maybe it was urgent after all. Checking it, his mouth went dry. “Warren Langdon is on his way up to you in the kitchen!!!” … and in that second, the buzzer on the kitchen door sounded. The new sous-chef opened – letting Warren step in. “Good morning. It’s good to see the entire team of the Langdon Residency’s gourmet kitchen at work.”

Utter silence ensued and it took him an indeterminable number of endless seconds to respond: “What a nice surprise! Welcome to the ‘Residency’ Warren. It’s good to have you here again,” wondering how credible his voice sounded.

“Thank you Christopher. Please continue with your session, act as if I’m not here. I just want to be a silent observer.”

“Marcus – please continue explaining the menu plan.” Glancing into the faces of the kitchen equip, he saw surprise and then eagerness to please the top boss. Only Claire’s eyes were terrified, she had gone pale and he saw Marcus reassuringly hold her hand under the table. The responses were explicable though – it had been so long since Warren had last been there, so much had changed that nobody had a clear memory of Warren, his own diet troubles with him or such. They all just wanted to leave a good impression on the CEO.

As the sous-chefs brought out the taste samples, he noticed the happy appetite he had had half an hour ago had totally capsized – the last thing he wanted was to eat in Warren’s presence. “Thank you everybody. Marcus – can you please finish the sample session with Claire? Warren – shall we go?”

“Hmmh … actually … if you don’t mind – I would appreciate to see your sample session. I’m interested in finding out on which professional grounds you all make your decisions.”

“Sure – it’s a pleasure. And if you can spare the time..,” he motioned the sous-chefs to pass out small samples to everybody. Moderating all the commentaries and suggestions, he was barely able to swallow small bites, not the usual sample portions he’d eat in such a session. He was tense and his brain was single-mindedly focused on not making any mistakes in front of Warren, not even the information from his taste-buds on the quality of the samples really made it to his brain. Warren politely also ate his sample bites: “I have no professional opinion – but I can tell you the stuffed baby squash, the Chanterelle quiche and the Tournedos in Calvados sauce are my layman favorites.”

The session finally wound down, he undid his apron, aware of Warren’s intensive look on his monster gut while he pulled his coat back on. Leaving the kitchen, he turned to him outside: “As I said a pleasure to have you here again. What can I do for you Warren?” hiding his confused emotions of fear, anger, bitterness, confusion, hope, surprise and mute remonstrance behind polite phraseology.

“Err … It’s been a long time since I last was here …. too long, .. way too long actually. I’d like to get a good firsthand overview of how things have developed here at the ‘Residency’. Would you mind showing me around?”

“Of course not. Let’s start down at the front desk.” For the next two hours he led Warren through the hotel – cancelled his business lunch with the team from Aquarios - watched him talk to the employees, showed him the new energy saving measures they had installed in rooms and the central air-conditioning system, ending on the park side with the refurbishments there, where Maynard’s deli bistro had expanded its seating on to the wide terrace in the wonderful weather.

“Just so you know – the ‘Residency’ get’s a share of the deli-bistro’s turnover for using the terrace. So it’s a true win-win for both businesses,” he wanted to make sure that Warren didn’t have a handle to accuse him of mismanaging the hotel to the advantage of his personal business. For a fleeting second he had worried whether Warren might be here to cancel the lease for the bakery-outlet and deli-bistro – but no matter how big his personal grudge might be that would be too stupid a business decision, finding a comparably good tenant would be near impossible.

“Very impressive Christopher. Your job the past years has been outstanding. I’d be grateful if you could write an outline of how to adapt the energy saving measures to the other Langdon hotels. How about we go to your new premises – you show me the development of the central bakery with the beer garden and the new loft hotel you’re planning.”

Although he had been as discreet as possible about his new hotel plans around the ‘Langdon Residency’, was pretty sure that Tricia had not spoken to Warren to not undermine her option of becoming his successor – because the short notice vacancy was her best chance – the openness and neutral, interested business candor in Warren’s question threw him off course.

Swallowing in surprise which ended in a coughing fit, he collected his wits, to be even more startled to hear Warren’s stomach growl with hunger, giving him an idea. “Yeah – we can do that if it interests you. But first, it’s already 1:30 p.m. – my 555 pound belly here needs its lunch badly, I’m starving. And your stomach has voiced hunger too. What would you like – restaurant buffet, business lunch at the bistro?” – inwardly praying Warren would not come up with the idea of lunch in his office because the thought of a one-on-one meal made him very uncomfortable.

“How about a business lunch in your office?” – no such luck, leaving him to order the lunch and take Warren upstairs. Claire herself brought their meal 20 minutes later, looking at him searchingly and giving his shoulder a quick calming pat as she served. Seeing the cream of pumpkin with ginger soup on his plate, smelling its spicy warmth, looking at the tasty little slices of bread in the basket, his hunger thundered and he dug in. He didn’t care, so what if Warren saw that he did justice to his 555 pound appetite? He had nothing to hide; there was no way of hiding his monster belly anyway. Claire must have sensed he strongly needed sustenance, for she had brought several helpings of everything. “Bon appétit Warren.”

“Bon appétit Christopher. Smells delicious. Claire – may I be so bold and congratulate you? Not only to the excellent job you’re doing at the deli-bistro, but also to your personal expectations?”

“Thank you very much, Mr. Langdon,” Claire’s blush went even rosier, folding her hands over her bump. “Life has turned out perfect for me. Christopher has been wonderful – given me all the best chances for professional and personal development. Now bon appétit – I’ll have the pastry cart sent up with a selection of Maynard’s best for dessert.”

They ate in silence; he helped himself to seconds and thirds, also giving Warren a second helping of the soup and main course. Afterwards his hunger was appeased; he leaned back, his hands over his belly in his complacent after meal mode. Whatever happened now, he could handle it. Even the fact that he didn’t really know what he wanted to happen. On one hand, Warren had played such an important role in his life, he had always cared for their good personal and business bond so much, a part of him wanted that back, reset everything. Yet on the other hand, there was strong resentment and distrust of Warren’s behavior in the past years – so the idea of him leaving and never being seen again also held its charms.

Watching Warren demolish the last of the spicy sage kebab roles, lathering the oven roast potatoes with their olive-oil, lemon-herbs marinade, he was stunned by this unusual display of appetite. Warren had always been very moderate in his eating, actually rather disinterested in food, even when he had served him tasty wonders from Maynard’s or cooked personally. Now he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying his meal, his face looked ruddier, fuller and as he cleaned his plate, unbuttoned his coat to loosen his belt; Christopher was surprised to notice a distinct pot-belly in Warren’s lap. During the day so far he had been too pre-occupied keeping his thoughts straight, he hadn’t paid attention to Warren’s appearance. Since he himself was so huge, Warren was much shorter and slighter; this from his perspective minor difference took a while to register.

“What can I do for you Warren? If I may ask – why this surprise visit now?” he was thankful this came out in a gentle voice.

“It’s overdue we talked again. That’s my fault – and I apologize for it.”

Debating how to respond, a small silence followed. “Okay – you’re probably right. But why now? Why unannounced, as a surprise?”

“Humph … as I said, it’s overdue. I have the feeling time is running out … needed to come talk in person…”

“Who told you that my definite resignation was forthcoming? That you’d have it on your desk on Monday? That re-construction for Maynard’s Loft Hotel starts in three weeks?” his lately receded anger with Warren, being overtaken by more interesting and important events, flared again.

“Monday? You want to resign on Monday?” the look of shock on Warren’s face was credible; he’d never been good at acting anyway.

“Yes, Brett Norton has the note and will mail it on Friday. I can’t start building my own hotel while still running yours – that’s a conflict of interest.” He sighed heavily. “I should’ve left a long time ago – after you turned down my suggestion of me continuing to lose weight on a normal diet. Working here while being incommunicado with you, at total odds – wasn’t a good idea. I just didn’t have the guts to let go, leave behind what had been my home for so long. Now things have changed – I’ve built a new personal and professional home for myself. I’m sorry to leave – but it doesn’t hurt that much anymore, I’m looking forward to new challenges.” He felt calmer after he had voiced this.

“Resigning on Monday – shit …,” Warren muttered, shaking his head, looking up after a long pause. “I don’t know how to say sorry any more my boy….. all this went on for way too long ….” Before another silence followed in which Warren got up and looked out the window. A knock on the door interrupted them, one of the waiters from the deli bistro.

“Mr. Maynard – Claire sent the pastry selection cart….,” wheeling it in.

“Thank you. Leave it here – I’ll take care of it and call when you can come pick it up,” he hoisted his weight up and walked to the shiny Italian coffee machine. “You like cappuccino with your pastry, if I remember correctly…”

“Yes … please..”

The smell of chocolate and sugar let a violent pastry craving erupt, making him salivate and pop a cherry Marzipan Petit Four into his mouth for a first respite. Setting the coffee before Warren, he asked: “What would you like?”

“Is there a lime meringue tartlet?”

“Ummm … yes … here it is.”

“Thank you”

“You’re welcome..,” taking the miniature pumpkin-walnut pie for himself. Munching away gave them something to do again, and once more he was surprised how quickly Warren finished his and started eyeing the cart again. “Would you like a second piece?”

“Didn’t you use to say chocolate helps in awkward situations like these? I think I badly need some right now,” Warren gave him a very crooked grin.

“Let’s see … there’s chocolate cheese cake, the new chocolate Amarena cherry tartlets, chocolate mousse layer gateau and miniature brownies…”

“I’ll try that new Amarena cherry tartlet … you haven’t offered that in the ‘Imperial’s” bakery outlet so far?” Warren slapped his small pot belly. “Having that bakery in my hotel building has been my downfall …. I’ve never had to think about my weight before … now I face the daily battle whether I should give in to get one or more of your sinfully good pastries…,” letting Christopher raise his eyebrows and for good measure add a miniature brownie to the tartlet before handing back the plate and taking the same for himself.

“Happy to hear you enjoy the bakery. You can’t exactly be unsatisfied with the profits you’re getting either…,” he couldn’t help that jibe.

“You don’t need to convince me of your talents, my boy – be it in production or business returns.” Warren let out another deep sigh. “I can understand you don’t really want to talk to me anymore … after all I’ve put you through. Maybe someday you can accept my apologies … even if it might be too late… made that mistake before…,” to lapse back into chewing silence.

“Warren – if it was not finding out how far my plans for leaving the Langdon group had developed – what made you come today?” The answer honestly interested him – and he didn’t want to have to blame himself later, that he hadn’t tried to talk, be it only for the sake of memories and Eugenie.

“It took me that long to admit to myself I was wrong,” Warren grumbled. “I’ve made the mistake before, with Jim-Warren, with Lea …. now with you. I guess I’m pretty good as a business - not as innovative as you are, still - but I’m lousy as a father….”

“Can’t honestly contradict you on that one…,” he tried to lighten up the tone, with little success. “I have trouble understanding the timing. Wouldn’t the book acknowledgement have been a better time to talk … instead you…,” he broke off, not being able to spell out in neutral wording how hurt and offended he had been when Warren had demanded to be deleted from the cook book acknowledgements.

The length of the silence now had a menacing quality, before Warren said: “That was my biggest mistake ….there’s no way to say sorry for that. You were so kind, so mature, writing that acknowledgement after all that happened…. then that TV show …”

“Warren, no matter what you did in the past three years – that does not diminish all the support and chances you gave me in the past to help me get to where I am today. That gratitude and appreciation from me will always be there. What did I do wrong in that TV show in your opinion?”

Not responding, Warren scanned the pastry cart again.

“Would you like another piece?”

“Umm … really shouldn’t …. maybe one of those very small pieces?”

“You mean a Petit Four? They’re bisque with fruit Marzipan filling and matching liquor – so we have Orange-Cointreau, Cherry-Spirits, Apricot-Brandy, Strawberry-Vodka….”

“All sound tempting … cherry or strawberry?… can’t decide..” He put both on the plate and pushed it back over to Warren; helping himself to the three he hadn’t had yet himself.

“What did you last ask?”

“What exactly made you so angry about my appearance in the TV show?”

“Lea says that the TV show forced me to realize that I had lost you for good … that you had become independent … that made me so angry….”

“Hmmh – yeah – the cook book was really my own – you were never really interested in that part of my work before either… so it wasn’t that much a show of independence…”

“It doesn’t make sense; I know it isn’t fair …. It wasn’t the cook book itself. Seeing you on TV, fatter than ever, but also more confident, successful, relaxed …. That showed me I had no chance of you coming back. I had hoped … well … somehow … that what Wershowitz and many others said would prove true. That someday you’d have health problems or no relationship or business failures because you’re so huge … and that you’d then come back, because you realized I was right…. Not a very positive approach … I know….”

This devious reasoning left him brooding for a moment … albeit subconsciously noting that the flip side of this thinking had played a big part in his own motivation of pushing ahead with his life: Being very active and successful while letting himself get as fat again as he pleased was his way of defying Warren and showing him, he had been wrong. Despite the rancor displayed in this attitude, something in him was also touched that Warren seemingly was so attached to him he wanted him to come back. “Hmmmh”

“So I overreacted right after the TV show, had the lawyers demand deleting the acknowledgement. After a few days I realized how stupid that was … yeah … but I didn’t have the sense to admit my mistake. Can I have the other two of these Petit things to taste? Right now I can almost understand you …. eating a lot of great pastries does make life look better and easier…”

With a small grin and a few fond slaps of his gut he passed Warren the other two Petit Fours with a raisin Madeleine as a side. “Ughugh … a tastily stuffed monster belly is a key survival asset….,” taking 2 brownies and two Madeleines for himself. “I sort of understand all that … but again … why are you here now?”

“Hmmmh…. it took me a while to admit all that …. that I missed having you as a partner and friend .. and sort of son. Losing Lea was another aspect….”

“Losing Lea?”

“Lea was extremely angry about the acknowledgement. She said she wouldn’t talk to me again until I apologized to you; we were back on speaking terms. I never was really in touch with Jim-Warren as my son … losing you and Lea … was too much in the end. You also have in your favor that all the women I value in my life were always on your side … gave me a lot of shit on your behalf….”

“All the women? I know Lea intervened on my behalf, am very grateful for her support … she really is like the sister I never had. But who else?”

“Well … there’s your mother. You didn’t tell Eugenie about our quarrel until recently, did you?”

“No – she made me own up in another context. What does Gigi have to do with this?”

“You know she came regularly to the ‘Imperial’, helped me with the art exhibitions we did on special occasions down in the foyer. I’ve always really liked your mother, appreciated her very special way of seeing things, her professional credentials in the arts – a world I find fascinating but know little about. Also that she managed her life alone so well, raised you … she’s very different from Jean…,” Warren reached over and helped himself to a small pumpkin pie. “I’m stuffed now – but who cares. Tastes great… and I need to sugar coat this talk. A few months ago I met your mother down in our bakery outlet. I asked her why I hadn’t been told she was staying with us at the ‘Imperial’. She coldly told me – so that everybody could hear – that she was staying at the Tower Hotel. She would not stay with somebody who tried to force her ‘poor baby to have his stomach cut up’ for no reason whatsoever. I tried to send her flowers, apologize, invite her for dinner – she turned everything down, writing a note she wouldn’t talk to me until I apologized to you.”

Laughing lightly, sending those pleasant jiggles through his belly masses, he smirked. “Gigi is great – that sounds so much like her,” feeling deep gratitude that she had so radically sided with him shortly after the Karim confession disaster. “So Lea and Gigi convinced you to get back in touch with me?”

“Well … Mary Helen Fitzpatrick is also a very convincing advocate in your favor…”

“Mary Helen? How do you know Mary Helen?”

“You yourself referred her to us for that fund raiser … told me to take particular care of her…”

“And you talked to her about me, my diet and our quarrel?” That didn’t sound like discreet Mary Helen at all. Nor like Warren, spilling personal beans to a politician’s wife he barely knew.

“.... Umm … yeah…, do you have another coffee for me, my boy?” Warren fiddled with his phone.
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Old 06-27-2015, 05:15 AM   #47
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“Coming up,” he went over to the machine, and reset it. After he gave Warren the fresh coffee, he brewed himself a calming green ginger tea. Back at the table, he adjusted his suspenders and position to let his now stuffed gut settle more comfortably. “What was your last point about Mary Helen? She talked to you about me?”

“Well …. maybe … how shall I put it…?” Warren fussed around with stirring his coffee until there was a knock on the door. As it opened, he couldn’t believe his eyes – it was Mary Helen in person.

“What a surprise…,” he sputtered, beyond flabbergasted as Mary Helen greeted him with a light cheek kiss, a pat on the belly and Warren with a real small kiss, sitting down next to him.

“Hello Christopher, lovely to see you again. Do you have coffee and a pastry for me? How has your talk been going, dear?” taking Warren’s hand.

Christopher just sat and stared before groaning after a time lapse. “What does this mean? Do you want me to have a heart attack from shock?”

“Of course not. You’re not going to have a heart attack! You go first and get my coffee and pastry!” Doing as told, he served her the cappuccino and asked: “Which pastry?”

“Do you have a Stephanie?”

“Ummm … yeah … down here, one mini Stephanie left…,” he lifted the small white chocolate raspberry creation on the plate and handed it to Mary Helen. Racking his mind, it suddenly came to his memory how unpleasantly stunned he had been this spring as Mary Helen had suddenly urged him to straighten out his row with Warren before starting his own hotel. Knowing Stephanie had kept in touch with her over her patronage of their own children’s project, he drew the conclusion where Warren’s knowledge of the progress in his hotel plans probably came from.
“Oh … so you told Warren about Maynard’s Loft Hotel…” it came out unintentionally.

“Yes, I did.” Mary Helen blushed, her glance stayed open and steady. “You two need to work things out – and I tried to do my part in it. Warren dear, what have you told Christopher so far? ”

“Not everything I should have … it’s difficult… you’re so much better at it than I am…,”

“How did you two get together?” he blurted.

“You yourself had told me to take special care of Mary Helen as our guest, well I did that..,” Warren smiled fondly at her. “I had been alone myself too long … had never expected to meet the perfect woman for me… we talked a lot … and so it happened. It’s not official yet – the election is in three weeks. No matter what the outcome – Mary Helen and Denis are separating at the latest after the inauguration…. So thank you so much Christopher for sending this wonderful woman into my life. She told me what a good, supportive friend you were for many years, understanding of her difficult marital situation. She did give me a very hard time though about how I treated you…”

“Wow….”

“You did once suggest I find myself a nice widower,” Mary Helen gave him a sly wink. “Should’ve known you had ambitions to find success as a matchmaker, too.”
He was dumbfounded – and once more thanked his lucky stars that Warren’s erotic imagination was so limited that he would never suspect that he had been more than an understanding friend to Mary Helen. “Warren dear – did you really apologize to Christopher? Did you explain why you wronged him? How to move on?”

“Not really … it’s not that easy admitting what an idiot I’ve been…”

“You know that’s not the point. You can explain – and Christopher will surely understand, overtime forgive you. Go ahead, tell him,” he watched Mary Helen take Warren’s hand in hers, nudge him gently. As he poured himself more tea, he noticed he had subconsciously been tapping his foot, making all his warm flab in his lap vibrate soothingly, easing some of his extreme tension.

“Christopher, when I said you were like a son to me, I honestly meant it. But as many parents, I did the wrong thing when doing what I believed was best for you. Lea accused me … umm Lea says that you’re my dream child with only one flaw, your weight. It’s not nice hearing that from your own flesh and blood … but it’s true. When I met you … you have everything I wish my children had: talent and enthusiasm for our business, drive, dedication, people smarts, a positive outlook on life. I envied your uncle for having you as the heir to his business. When he died, leaving you with the ruins of a future so young – I grasped my chance to give not only you, but also myself the future I wanted.”

“Warren – I know that – and as I said, you will always have my gratitude for that…”

“Over the years, things turned out even better than I had imagined … you proved to be everything I expected from a business partner, heir, son and friend. With one exception – your weight. Everything was developing so well, only you kept getting fatter and fatter … and you inexplicably were perfectly happy with it.” Warren sighed heavily and finished his coffee. “For me it’s normal to have, to want to have a normal weight. I couldn’t understand that you were so content, successful while blowing up like a balloon. You’re such a normal, well-adjusted person – but you didn’t seem to care at all how abnormal your weight was becoming. I always hoped that someday you’d wake up, notice how overweight you were, go on a diet – maybe to also find personal happiness for yourself, a woman in your life…”

At this point he felt his face grow hot and a sideways glance told him Mary Helen had turned beet red too. “That’s just the point where we don’t see eye to eye at all Warren, I’m honestly fine with my size … and since it seems to be a crucial one for both of us…..”

Warren cleared his throat: “Yeah … I don’t have the right to tell you how you should be. Even if I don’t like it, you have the right to be 555 pounds if you want to, it’s none of my business…”

“A rather late realization….” He couldn’t stop this barb.

“I’m the kind of guy who thinks he can change things to make them work my way. I tried that with Lea and Jim-Warren too… but failed and gave up early on. With them … there were so many things I would have liked to change … even an old idiot like me caught on that it was hopeless. With you – it was different. There was only this one thing I wanted to change – your weight. And that seemed so easy – one thing – and one thing for which there even is a surgical solution. So piece of cake, I thought. I could give myself the successor I wanted and solve your weight problem all in one go. Wershowitz reinforced my assumptions. What I hadn’t understood, until today can’t really comprehend – is that you never saw your weight as a problem. Your fat is somehow part of you… and when things didn’t go as I had planned, well I thought pressure could solve that. I should’ve known from my kids that pressure never worked … but with you, you were such a good boy, as your mother never ceases to say … well I thought you’d respond positively to pressure, do as you were expected to do. But the only way you in the end showed yourself to be the boy I expected you to be was by cutting the rope and going your own way successfully…..”

Another loaded silence followed. “Well … thank you for spelling that out … for admitting I can be my own person…,” he didn’t know what to say. Since speaking with Lea, he had assumed something like this … so it wasn’t exactly news. “What do you want Warren? What can I do for you now? I accept your apology … over time I’ll forget and probably also forgive … I’m not the type for bearing grudges… Thank you for coming, and that’s it?”

With another deep sigh, Warren looked helplessly at Mary Helen, who patted his hand, looking at Christopher in pleading: “Let Warren explain himself Christopher … give him the chance .. even if he didn’t give it to you … we can all learn…”

Undecidedly he shrugged, nodded, poured himself more tea and had another brownie.

“I want my life, my business and my family back in line,” Warren stated quietly. “For that I need you Christopher. As my friend, my son, my business partner. I want to start a new life with Mary Helen – but I don’t want to lead it without Lea and you. I want my hotels in good hands … so I want to put my original offer back on the table, make you the partner in the Langdon group.”

“What about my weight? That I’m the fattest I’ve ever been, a 555-pound balloon?” he rubbed his gut, feeling protected by the heavy warm flesh pillow between him and Warren.

“That’s your business. I don’t approve of it, I wish you were 300 pounds less… but it’s not the point. You’ve been more to me and the Langdon hotels than a number on the scale … I’m very sorry I reduced you as a person to your weight, that’s truly unforgivable….,” Warren now looked him straight in the eye. “As for all things in life … following your preferences has a price tag …. I’ll admit that. The contract I have drafted here makes you 30% business partner in the Langdon Hotels, starting January 1st. I myself with hold a 30% share until I turn 65 or die …. which will then be handed over to you, offering you a 60% operative majority in the Langdon Hotels. 30% will go into the new Langdon Foundation, offering surgery for uninsured children in need as well as med-school grants to poor students. As you can tell that’s Lea’s idea – she would hold the voting rights in the name of the foundation. That leaves 10% - 5% of the hotel’s profits each for Lea and Jim-Warren as income. What do you say?”

“I’m overwhelmed … it’s totally unexpected. And the price tag is fair – Lea’s idea is a good one, I wholeheartedly approve…”

“So you say yes, my boy?” Warren’s eagerness gave him a sting.

“Warren – I’m sincerely honored. I appreciate your apology … and I’m more than bowled over by your offer. I never expected that … it’s like a dream come true I had given up on. I don’t know what to say … it’s so out of the blue; I was focused on something completely different by now. I need time … time to think about your great offer..”

“Of course you can have that time; we understand this is very sudden for you. Take your time; talk it over with Brett Norton.” Mary Helen gave him an encouraging smile.

“What about the Maynard’s bakery & deli, which are now my own businesses? What about the plans for Maynard’s Loft Hotel … I’ve already signed that contract..?”

“The bakery and deli naturally stay your own business …. They’re your heritage; you can pass them on to your kids someday. With the new hotel … well … could you maybe see yourself bringing it into the Langdon Group, like a pilot for a new secondary brand of younger, trendier hotels? After trying this one … there’s also a similar ex-government office property near the Langdon Capital …. would also be a good opportunity…..?”

He couldn’t help grinning- these were exactly the kind of talks and plans with Warren he had missed so much. “I’ll think about it … I’ll think about it hard … talk to Brett Norton … have him check the contract… you’re the only person I know who’s as good at business planning as I am…. we definitely see eye to eye there….”

Another knock on the door interrupted them – Stephanie breezed in, halting in her movement, her eyes going wide. “Oh … Ms. Fitzpatrick, good afternoon…. Mr. Langdon… oh….”

“Stephanie, how lovely to see you,” Mary Helen got up and gave a startled Stephanie a hug.

“Umm … shall I leave? I’m sorry for barging in like this … I thought Christopher was alone … wanted to pick him up to take him to the bakery….” Her voice trailing off.

“Ms. Weymouth, pleasure to see you again…,” Warren shook hands with her, eyeing her round tummy and bulging hips, nicely on show in her now form-fitting dress. “Do you still work as a nutritionist?” his voice betraying astonishment.

Stephanie saw the glance, laughed and patted her tummy and hip. “Yes I am, even though I’ve moved on from classic diet consulting to a more holistic personal life balance and nutrition approach. We all have very different and individual nutritional balances… don’t we?” She wrapped her arm around Christopher, with one hand hanging onto a love handle, leaning into his overflowing bulk. “As you can see, Christopher radiates calories … and I guess it shows.”

“Thank you for coming,” he murmured into her hair.

“If you still have business to discuss, I can leave again…”

“No Stephanie, you stay. It’s good you came … I think we gave Christopher a lot of food for thought, he needs your help to digest,” Mary Helen smiled warmly at them. “I unfortunately have a plane to catch … a few last campaign appearances….”

“Thank you Mary Helen, thank you so much… for making this happen. I owe you so much,” he gave her a one-armed fleeting hug. Overwhelmed by the course of events, he still had nagging doubts about Warren and his attitude towards him, but he trusted Mary Helen, so if this was in part her idea… “Are you flying back now too, Warren?”

“No, no … I’m staying till tomorrow. I have a suite here … will spoil myself with one of Namée’s massages, sure missed those too…,”

“Why don’t you come over for dinner then to our apartment, I’ll cook for us?” He did not know where that invitation came from.

“Thank you, I’d love to come. See you later then.” Watching the door close behind Warren and Mary Helen, he was dazed, wondering whether this had all been real. Real was only his achingly pastry stuffed gut … between the two of them, he and Warren had managed to eat up over half the cart, with normally carried 60 servings. Stephanie noticed for she carefully massaged his bloated belly, “Poor stuffed tummy needs a relaxing rub…. What was going on here exactly…?”

Wrapping her in a very tight hug, squishing her into his flab he softly told her what Warren had said and offered, nuzzling her neck, noticing how emotionally drained he felt.

“So… you’re going to accept Warren’s offer?”

“Mmmh… dunno….” He shrugged and buried his face in her neck. She took his head in her hands, tilted it and forced him to look at her.

“It’s what you always wanted…. You’re going to accept aren’t you … become partner in the Langdon group….stay here in the ‘Residency’…?”

Holding Stephanie tight, softly groping her plumpness as it pressed against his fat, his tension easing through her familiar warmth, he turned so they faced the park … overviewing the green leafy sphere almost to their apartment. Staying here, at home …. a profound calm slowly ran through him.

“Mmmhh … guess so. But the first thing we’re definitely doing is go home right now, set to work on a real baby for you, my Nana…”


The End

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