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Old 05-31-2017, 08:05 AM   #1
lurkymcduck
 
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Default A Small Technicality (BBW, WG, Romance)

NB: I've learned all I know about law from television and Google. Judge me accordingly.

Writing this as I go so there might be some editing in the future.

A Small Technicality
by lurkymcduck


1.

Benjamin Peters was not a religious man, but on this fine, cold Monday morning in November, he couldn't help but think that it had been divine interference that had made the door to his office come off in his hand.

It was a known consequence of working in a building near-four hundred years old. The walls leant at odd angles and at certain times of a year a puddle of unknown source would gather in the farthest corner, thankfully away from the electrics. The beams had had wood worm at some point in the last centuries, but they had been declared sound by a series of builders. The windows refused to open, and the carved wood panelling on every wall that wasn't covered by rarely-used law books was the only part that saw regular care, and he often came in after a weekend to a room that stank of polish.

So it wasn't a surprise that he had got up to leave on Friday, pulled open his office door (perhaps a little harder than usual, because it had started to scrape the flooring), and with a groan and the soft snap of its hinges, it had tilted forward, nearly onto him, and crushed his laptop to bits.

Looking back, there was very little to be happy about, but now, with Windows updating in front of him and the sun shining through diamond-paned glass behind, the hole where his door used to be was also a window, and he was very soon to be thankful for it.

It was just a sound, at first. A little hint of a person whose footsteps sounded different than those of the others on the third floor. There was that small, hollow and echoing tap of heels on the hardwood flooring, the slight swish of fabric, and then:

The slurp of a straw.

Ben looked up from his computer just in time to see her step past. She was a white, brown-haired woman he didn't recognise, wearing a skirt suit, a binder in one hand and an iced drink in the other. The straw was in her mouth, delicately poised between pursed lips. She was only there for a moment, framed perfectly in his empty doorway, then she was gone.

Ben tapped his pen against his desk. His computer announced it was installing yet more software he wasn't sure he needed, and it urged him to be patient. He took out his mobile and his diary. He had a hard time paying attention to the words.

At fifty percent, there were those footsteps yet again. A quick two steps and she was gone, as was a pastry that spent its last moments drawn between her lips.

At sixty percent, there was the rustle of a foil wrapper, and she walked past with the finger of a KitKat held like a joint in one hand and a cordless phone pressed to her chest with her other.

'Hello,' Ben found himself saying, sitting very still and a bit stiffly in his chair.

She looked up, started, smiled, then held up a chocolate-stained finger.

One moment, she mouthed.

She disappeared once more from his doorway.

She returned a minute later, and the wrapper was gone. She stood in the doorway as though she was afraid to step inside. She was fairly short and in her mid-twenties, pink-cheeked and friendly-featured. Her hair was drawn up in a smart bun, a few flattering curls framing a square face and wide, sharp jawline. Her lips were glossed pink, her eyes faintly outlined and narrowed with her smile. Below her lovely face was a short neck and a body that would be considered fairly average in the rest of the country but plump in London - a size twelve, maybe, or a small fourteen. Her waist was fastened by the shining black button of her jacket, and a pencil skirt showed faint pucker lines around the thighs.

'Good morning, sir,' the woman said. She had a light, high voice and a Northern accent. Yorkshire, he guessed. Maybe edging toward Geordie. 'Can I get you anything?'

'Sorry?' Ben said. His eyes were still fixed on the strain lines of her skirt. Was it simply wrinkles from sitting? It looked a tad too tight, her round hips tugging at the seams.

'Coffee?' the woman said. 'Tea?'

'Oh,' Ben replied. He forced his eyes upward. She was still smiling at him. 'No,' he said. He shook his head and leant back in his chair. He stretched his arms behind his head then dropped them, wary of showing off the fact that, apparently unlike every other thirty-something man in the city, he didn't lift. 'Sorry,' he said. 'I'm Ben.'

'Mister Peters,' she said with a nod. 'I know. It's a pleasure to meet you.'

'Ben, please,' Ben said. He was frowning again, his eyes naturally finding a resting spot around her hips. What was he doing? Also…who was she? 'I'm sorry,' he said, 'I think I missed a memo.'

'Oh,' she said, then with a little jump of surprise, exclaimed, 'Oh! Sorry, sir. I'm Tessa. The new junior clerk.'

The new clerk? He vaguely remembered something about that. The senior partners (or the Ancient Ones, as his colleague Maria called them) wanting to continue the lineage of the old-fashioned assistants to match the premises, and also because they still couldn't figure out how to work their mobiles nor the search bar on Google. The poor woman would be rushing all over the City with forgotten wigs stuffed in rucksacks and gowns flapping about in dry cleaning bags.

'Just started today,' Tessa said.

He found himself smiling. He also found himself suddenly quite sweaty-palmed with nerves. When was the last time he had felt like this? Even the last dates he had had (Tindr, OkCupid, that brief foray into a dating site he'd never admit to using to his friends) had him numbed with boredom rather than dry-mouthed with strange anticipation. And a clerk? What was wrong with him? Was he so starved of meaningful contact that even strain-lines excited him? Bloody London. He should've stayed in Swansea.

'Settling in well?' he asked her. His computer chimed. It was restarting. He wouldn't have an excuse not to work soon. He was certain he had evidence to examine, but he couldn't remember which client it was for.

'Yes, thank you,' she said. 'There'll be growing pains, I'm sure. But I'm very glad to be here.'

Growing pains?

'Let me know if I can help at all,' Ben told her. God, he sounded smarmy. Did he sound smarmy? Even his deaf, dim cat would be able to tell he was coming onto her.

'That's my line, sir,' she said.

'Ben,' he said. He dropped his weedy arms and pulled his jacket back into position, hoping it disguised the fact that he really wasn't the kind of man who knew his way around a set of weights.

'Sir,' she said, her smile widening, a bit cheeky. She patted her pocket. There was a little crackle of foil, and the tip of a brand new KitKat slipped above the lining. 'Thank you, sir,' she said.

The doorway emptied. Her footsteps faded. His chair wheel stuck itself in a rut in the floorboards.

Please wait, his computer asked him.

He stared at the blank space in front of him. At the shadow of pastry crumbs discreetly littering the floor.

He adjusted his trousers.

'Fuck,' he whispered.
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Old 05-31-2017, 08:08 AM   #2
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By Wednesday she had lost the jacket. She still wore the skirt, though, (or at least one that looked exactly like it) and a flowered blouse that floated around her waist and bust, tied at the neck in a pussybow.

'Morning, sir!' she called out to him as she rushed by his office, arms full of case notes for the Ancient Ones.

'Morning!' he called back.

A few moments later, she reappeared, arms empty, and…was it his imagination, or did that skirt look a mite tighter, and were there more lines around the hips?

Perhaps it was a new one. Perhaps he was only seeing what he wanted to see. Perhaps he was behaving inappropriately toward new staff.

'Coffee?' she asked him.

He nearly said no. Then he stopped himself.

'That would be lovely,' he said. God, he sounded like Margaret Thatcher. What was that voice? What was that accent?

'White?' she asked. 'Sugar?'

'No,' he said. 'No, black is fine.'

'Ah, I like sugar in mine,' she said. 'Back in a moment.'

She returned a few minutes later with his coffee and a stack of printed paper. She sauntered into his room. There was quite a bit of movement to her hips. A sort of sashay. It seemed an impractical and inefficient way to walk, but he wasn't about to complain. Not to mention that it was the first time he'd been within three feet of her. He admired the newly visible details: the slight softness of her cheeks and the suggestion of dimples, the smooth pale skin that looked like it had never met a bottle of instant tan, the way her blouse was stuffed into the snug waistband of her skirt.

'I have a new robbery case for you, I've rearranged your meeting with the sexual assault…' She slipped a file onto his desk, followed by the papers. '…and I thought this might help with your GBH.'

He flipped through the papers. It was case notes for a trial in Newcastle, for a victim with the same name as his client's alleged target. Charges had been dismissed.

'Thank you,' he said. He frowned at the papers. 'You're sure you're new?'

She slid his coffee across his desk.

'I have two-thirds of a law degree, sir,' she said.

'Only two-thirds?' he asked.

'Long story,' she said. Her smile faded. She tugged nervously at her tight waistband. Was it his imagination, or was there a bit of a bulge to her stomach? Chocolate bars settling? Breakfast digesting? That third croissant? 'Anything else?' she asked.

'No,' he said. He cleared his throat. 'Thank you, Tessa.'
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Old 05-31-2017, 08:11 AM   #3
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'No,' Maria said.

'Please.'

'Desperation is not a good look on you.'

'Please.'

'I'm not going out to dinner with a junior clerk,' she said. She shoved back from her desk, which was considerably messier than Ben's. She fancied herself a Beautiful Mind, and would often work through her cases like spider webs, scribbling on scrap paper that she strew across her desk. It made Ben crazy, but at least he no longer had to share an office with her.

'Don't be a snob,' he said. 'She's lovely, and you know it.'

'I'm not a snob. I have a girlfriend to go home to, and she's making patrikash for dinner tonight.'

Ben didn't know what patrikash was, and he frankly didn't give a shit. 'I can't ask her to go just with me.'

'Did you know,' Maria said, her severe black bob making cutting motions just below her pointed chin, 'that this is 2017, and men are allowed to ask women colleagues out for meals without it being a date?'

Ben didn't reply.

'Besides,' Maria said with a smile that bordered on nasty, 'she's getting fat.'

Ben's mouth went dry. 'Sorry?' he said.

'She's only been here a week,' she said, 'and every time I see her she's stuffing something in her mouth.'

Ben cocked a leg forward and stared at the black hairs on the back of his hand.

'You pervert,' Maria sighed. 'Fine,' she relented. 'But Christine is going with us.'

'The pupil?'

'You get your clerk, I get the pretty pupil.' She rose from her disk, and tugged her jacket from the back of her chair, buttoning it tight around her slim, fatless body.

'And I'm the pervert,' Ben said.

'Yup,' she said. 'And you're buying.'

They found Christine in the copy room chatting with Tessa, and Ben praised his luck at having both of them cornered at once. Less weird, more casual. Less like he wanted to see Tessa without clothes on.

'We're going to dinner,' Maria said before Ben could. 'Want to join us?'

'Yes,' Christine said, blue eyes wide, a half-starved expression alighting on her face. 'Please. Cheap and cheerful?'

'Ben's buying,' Maria said.

Tessa tugged a jammed piece of paper from the feed tray. Maria looked at Ben, her head cocked sideways.

'Erm,' Ben said.

Maria sighed. 'What about you?' she asked Tessa.

Tessa ignored them, then looked up when no one answered.

'Me?' she said.

Maria didn't wear her invitation on her face, but instead stood with crossed arms, fingers clawing at her jacket with impatience. Ben stood there terrified that he'd have to sit through a dinner of Maria flirting with a twenty-two-year-old who would be too afraid to talk to him while she ate her meagre fill and ordered extra for leftovers.

'Yes,' Christine volunteered. 'Come with us, Tessa.'

'Oh, I can't,' Tessa said. 'I should get home-'

'It will be fun,' Ben volunteered with a gravelly voice. 'Give us an opportunity to get to know you a bit more.'

'Fun,' Maria agreed.

Tessa fumbled at her jacket pocket, at the impression of a mobile phone.

'Okay,' she finally said. 'But I can't stay for long.'

'Great,' Maria deadpanned.

'Great,' Ben breathed, and Tessa looked at him sideways, fingers placed perfectly at the pull lines on her hips.

'Great,' Tessa said. She smiled. 'I'm starved.'
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Old 05-31-2017, 08:19 AM   #4
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At least it was cheap and cheerful, an American-style pub-diner that was known for its large portions and un-London-like prices. And at least Tessa slid in next to Ben, because Maria had made sure to claim the seat next to Christine ('I have a girlfriend' his arse). Christine ordered plaice, Maria the salad, Ben the burger. Tessa took her time with the menu, and the waitress nearly walked off without her order before she hailed her back.

'The Barn Burger, please,' she said. 'Extra chips. And a side of onion rings. And what's a Coke Float?'

The waitress explained, Tessa said that sounded marvellous, and then asked for mozzarella sticks to go with it. Finally, the waitress took her menu, and all three of her companions stared at her in mild shock.

'Didn't get lunch,' Tessa said without the slightest hint of embarrassment. 'Now, can some of you please talk so I don't feel so intimidated?'

Maria laughed, oddly, like she was surprised that the clerk had feelings.

'Don't worry,' Ben said with a sip of his wine. 'We're all idiots outside chambers, really.'

'Not me,' Christine said, still wide-eyed, clearly even more uncomfortable than Tessa, especially since Maria was sitting rather quite close to her. 'I am never an idiot.'

'They've already signed off your forms. I've seen them,' Maria said. 'You can relax, you know.'

Christine took a sip of her wine. 'Two months. Give me two months.'

A small smile stretched across the far half of Maria's face.

Their food came quickly, and the waiter handed over Ben's burger with a grin and a, 'Lucky man,' with a sideways glance at the two women across from him, apparently paying no heed to the fact that Tessa was pushing her fourth onion ring into her mouth.

There was barely room for all four of them. Tessa's onion rings competed for space with Maria's obscenely large salad, and Christine's plaice was shoved into the vinegar bottle. Her extra chips overlapped into Ben's.

'Oops,' Tessa said, fishing out her mobile. 'Forgot.'

'You Insta?' Christine asked.

'Uh huh,' Tessa replied. She positioned her mobile far above the table in order to fully capture the array of her meal, then swiped hurriedly through an app that did not look like Instagram.

Interesting, Ben thought.

'Skol,' Maria said, clinking her glass against Christine's, then against Tessa's Coke Float, which slopped ice cream into her wine.

Ben had to remind himself to eat. He did his best to ignore the one-sided flirting across the table and instead made polite conversation with Tessa, who was doing her best to respond and ask questions back between bites of her sizeable meal.

'Durham,' she said, finishing off the last onion ring and moving on to the remnants of her hand-cut chips. 'I took two gap years to take care of my mum. Cancer…she went into remission so I went into uni. Then summer after second year it came back.' Her hand hesitated over the last chip, then doubled back to the remaining third of her burger.

'I'm sorry,' Ben said, hardly able to get the words out. He was in awe of her. The meal had literally been larger than the cushions they were sitting on, and she was only a bit of a burger and a few chips away from finishing it. Not to mention down to the dregs of her second Coke Float.

Tessa shrugged shallowly and took a long sip of her drink. '"For every thing there is a season", et cetera.' Her accent was growing stronger the more she ate, like she was full up with alcohol and not food. She was growing less inhibited as her stomach grew rounder, fighting for space with her skirt. 'Your family's in London?' she asked, recalling his attention to her brain rather than her body.

'Oh, erm, Wales,' Ben admitted. 'When my granddad came from Nigeria, he saw Swansea and for some reason thought, "Ah, just like home."'

She grinned and slipped a chip into her mouth.

'God, this is good,' she said. She huffed a bit and dropped a hand to her skirt, trying and failing (it appeared) to slip her index finger between her stomach and waistband. 'May I have the brown sauce, please?' she asked.

Ben breathed out carefully and passed the brown sauce.

'I need to go,' Christine chimed in, startling Ben, who had forgotten she was there. 'I have a Deliveroo shift ten to two.'

'Yes,' said Maria, staring over her unfinished salad to the wreckage of Tessa's plate. 'I should go, too.'

Tessa swallowed. 'See you Monday,' she said, beaming at them both. Maria's reply was stone-faced. Christine bent to kiss her on the cheek. 'Night,' she said, and she and Maria left them, finally, on their own.

The booth squeaked beneath Ben as he shifted uncomfortably against the wall. Tessa still didn't notice. She was still tackling the last bites of her burger, focused on nothing but conveying the maximum about of filling to her mouth.

Oh God, Ben thought.

'Oh God,' Tessa said, wiping her hands on a serviette. She untucked her blouse from her skirt and let it float (though not as loosely as it had earlier) around her waist. Then her hands moved downward, and it was with a little sigh that Ben realised that she unfastened the button of her skirt.

Another strange sound: she unzipped it, too.

Oh God, Ben thought.

'Oh shit,' Tessa said. She looked at her watch, and it was only then that Ben noticed that small technicality, the hitch to his hopes: that glint of a small diamond on the ring finger of her left hand. 'I need to go,' she said. 'Guy's going to be wondering where I am.'

'Your fiancé,' Ben said. Of-fucking-course.

'So sorry to eat and run,' she said, 'I didn't realise I'd be so long. He's going to kill me.' She huffed as she slid out of the booth, then stretched, arching her back, her blouse riding high to reveal a triangle between the open flaps of her zip, the brief stretch of black knickers, and above it, the swell of her pale stomach cautiously adorned by - was he imagining it? - two brief, pink stretchmarks below the navel.

Oh God.

'Thanks so much for dinner,' his chubby, engaged colleague said. 'I'll leave the tip.'

'No,' Ben said too forcefully. 'No, I got it.'

'Next time,' she said.

'Sure,' he replied. He felt light-headed, and also furious. She was looking at him with narrowed eyes, confused.

Ben put on a smile. 'See you on Monday,' he said.

She put on a smile to match, though he imagined hers was just as unsure as his was. 'See you. And thanks again.'

A minute later, the same waiter came by to collect their plates.

'Could I have the bill please?' Ben asked.

The waiter eyed up the plates and the empty space where Maria and Christine had been.

'Poor bastard,' he said.

'Tell me about it,' Ben replied.
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Old 05-31-2017, 09:14 PM   #5
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Amazing stuff - wonderful characters and intriguing hints. Excited to see more!
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Old 06-01-2017, 02:42 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Benny Mon View Post
Amazing stuff - wonderful characters and intriguing hints. Excited to see more!
Thank you!
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Old 06-01-2017, 02:49 PM   #7
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I've enjoyed it so far, and am looking forward to more
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Old 06-01-2017, 03:08 PM   #8
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By Monday, he was fine with the turn of events. Truly. He didn't need a girlfriend. His cat was the only real companionship he needed; he wasn't home enough to entertain anything or anyone else. He could always rely on his hand to relieve him, and he wouldn't have to pay for its meals. And as for Tessa, he could always just look.

Except that his office had a door again.

'Damn,' he said when he returned after the weekend, fumbling for his key.

He left it open, but it swung closed, even when he tried to jam it against the wall. It had been cut too high to stay open. A stack of books would do the trick, but it would also look desperate; not to mention the heating was broken and the door was the only thing that kept his office from boiling him alive. Grumpily, he set about his work, knowing he shouldn't feel entitled to watch Tessa as she went about her day, but agitated with having been deprived of the opportunity.

At lunchtime, there was a knock at his door: Tessa's forceful rap.

It creaked open. He looked from his computer, his welcome stuck in his throat.

She was wearing a sleeveless, white, form-fitting dress that hugged every inch of her from shoulder to knee, and it looked very much like it hugged more inches than it was intended to. The slight bulge of her stomach he thought he imagined in her floaty blouse and snug skirt was not his imagination, but fact, and her dress clung shamelessly to its roundness, and undoubtedly pulled even tighter than her grey skirt across her hips and thick thighs. Above it, plump breasts sat proudly, a hint of cleavage peeking above the struggling neckline. Soft arms (she didn't lift either, apparently) had a blush of red across the uppers that matched the pink of her cheeks.

He was staring. He knew that. How could he stop? She had a fiancé. Did she know what this was doing to him?

Only a week and it was obvious. Maria was right. Tessa was getting fat. She was also clever. She had to know.

She was doing this on purpose.

'Sir?' she said.

'Hi,' Ben said.

'I asked if you wanted me to get you lunch.'

'Oh,' Ben said. 'I'm not hungry.'

'Are you sure?'

'Did you want something?' he asked.

'I brought my lunch, sir.'

'Oh,' he said.

What else could he say? How could he keep her here longer?

'If you're sure,' she said, 'I'll be off, then.'

No. 'Enjoy your lunch,' Ben said. He grabbed for something, anything: 'I was just going to suggest that baguette place across the street. The Monster Meatball in particular. It's huge, as I suppose the name might suggest.'

Tessa threw him a grin. There was no, 'I already have a sandwich,' or 'I'm stuck with my salad.' 'Hm,' she said instead. 'I think I might check that out.'
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Old 06-01-2017, 03:11 PM   #9
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Three weeks and several Monster Meatballs later, Tessa knocked and let herself into his office without waiting for his reply. Also three weeks later, she was wearing that same dress.

'Coffee, black,' she said, sliding his mug into its usual place. 'Contract from Ellman's, and notes for tomorrow morning.'

'Thank you, Tess,' Ben wished her warmly. He looked determinedly at the papers for a moment before letting himself glance up through his eyelashes. The dress. That dress. God, she looked fantastic. The sort of fantastic that would have Maria muttering to herself, and Christine pulling Tessa to the side to have a concerned chat about her health. The dress that made Ben forget she had a fiancé.

She had gained weight.

That was undeniable. He thought he'd imagined it in the first week, but now that she had reached her first month anniversary, it was plain fact. She was short - no taller than five-two or five-three - and it wouldn't have to have been much to show. But it was more than that.

Everything strained. The seams that wiggled each side of her hips like curly brackets, whiskers curving toward her crotch. The rounded belly that was now a presence rather than a hint, smashed against her so the outline was clearly visible through the fabric. The breasts that jockeyed for room in a cramped neckline, and the shoulder straps that were biting into her underarms and her soft, pale shoulders. Her arms were softer, spreading flat as she held her hands at her side. Her face, too, seemed that hint wider. The dimples deeper as she smiled.

There was no shame in her stance. She stood there plain-open, smiling, waiting for him to dismiss her. Plump in her too-tight dress.

'Are you going up north for Christmas?' Ben asked her mildly, signing off on an invoice and handing it back to her. But his voice, too, sounded strained.

'No, staying here,' Tessa answered. 'Guy has a work do. Some fancy buffet. And there's no one up there for me anymore, really.' She pushed on before he could express any sympathy. 'What about you?'

'Family,' he said. 'Back to Wales. Lots of nieces and nephews to entertain.'
'You must be a brilliant uncle,' Tessa said, her dimples deepening, her dark curls catching and floating in the draught from the window. She clutched her arms, pressing her breasts toward her neckline - an inch of deep cleavage appeared. How much was it? he wondered. How much since she started? Ten pounds? Fifteen? It had been rapid, and rather a lot; it would have to be, for how much she was putting away.

But still he didn't have his answer: why was she doing it in the first place? Just for the taste of food? Or did she like the way it felt on her, the soft jiggle of her belly and arms, the brush of her thickening thighs, the tightness of her clothes? Did she like the whispers? Did she get off on the stares?

Or did she just get off on the way he was looking at her?

Don't flatter yourself, Ben thought. Fiancé, remember?

'I make an excellent pony,' Ben told her. 'I spoil them rotten and in return, I get to come home with the flu every new year's.'

'The zombie outbreak will start at a primary school,' Tessa agreed. 'You look healthy enough,' she told him. 'I'm sure you'll be fine.'

'You say that now,' Ben said, leaning back in his chair, perilously balancing on two wheels in a non-entirely-unsuccessful effort to try to look cool. 'You'll be the one bringing paperwork to my apartment. Be prepared.'

'Ooh, I'd love to see your flat,' Tessa said. 'You must have some amazing artwork.' She eyed a copy of a Monet in an antique frame hanging behind him. 'I'll have to try to steal something off of you when I'm there.'

'I think you're in the wrong chambers,' Ben told her. 'This is criminal law. Corporate is the next building over.'

She laughed. His face felt warm. Then he realised that there was a real prospect of Tessa coming to his flat. Tessa, in his flat. Plump Tessa, even plumper for the Christmas fare, wrapped up in a snug jumper, only a few steps from his sofa. And odds are that if it came to it, he wouldn't even be well enough to appreciate his chance.

Fiancé, he remembered.

'I'm sure it won't come to that,' she said, taking a step back toward the door. There was movement. More than one step allowed. And a slight groan of the floorboards that he hadn't heard before.

'I'll have to have you over anyway,' he said to her. His heart beat hard in his ears. His tongue was dry. 'It's only right that you can see the life of luxury that the criminal bar allows. And then you can meet the man in my life.'

She glanced at him sideways.

'My cat,' Ben explained.

She laughed. 'I like cats,' she said. 'Furry bastards.' Then her smile vanished. Ben's wheels once more scraped the floor.

'I'm going to lunch,' she said. 'Need to call Guy before he turns up to ask why I've gone quiet. Anything I can get for you?'

'No,' Ben said.

'OK,' Tessa replied.

And then she left him, and a deflated Ben couldn't even take the opportunity to appreciate her retreating form.
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Old 06-01-2017, 03:12 PM   #10
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7

Mid-December brought endless rain. It also brought new gossip to Everton and Sligh, and it wasn't the first time that Ben walked into the kitchenette to find Maria and Christine huddled together in spirited and secretive conversation, obviously talking about someone else.

'Hi,' Maria said, enlightening him immediately: 'we were just talking about Tessa.'

'Observations,' Christine said. She'd grown bolder in the past two months, less scared now that she was reaching the end of her six. 'Not gossip.'

'Apparently,' Maria added, 'Christine ran into them on her delivery round last night.'

'They ordered pizza from the Italian place,' Christine said.

'They ordered three pizzas from the Italian place,' Maria said.

Ben rinsed his mug in the sink, keeping calm with forced disinterest, but he could feel his ears going hot.

'Must've been a good party,' Ben said.

'That's the thing,' Christine said. 'There wasn't a party. It was just Tessa and her boyfriend.'

His ears were hotter. Red was spreading across his cheeks. 'Fiancé,' Ben said.

'He answered the door, and she was standing behind him in her dressing gown. She didn't say anything. She didn't even seem to recognise me. He was a nice-looking guy, but not exactly friendly. Didn't tip, either.'

'Three pizzas,' Maria repeated.

'Must've been a deal on,' Ben said, still rinsing his mug, much more than necessary.

'There wasn’t,' Christine said.

'Explains a bit,' Maria said.

'Explains a lot,' Christine agreed under her breath.

'Morning!' a bright voice said, and Tessa walked in with two handfuls of empty cups. Maria and Christine both went po-faced, and Ben yanked the tea towel so hard from the ring that it nearly snapped.

'Sorry,' Tessa said, 'can I just get to the sink?'

It took Ben a full five seconds to realise she was talking to him. 'Sorry,' he said, moving aside and frowning quite hard at his companions, who were both staring arch-browed at Tessa's backside.

Which, of course, gave Ben reason to stare at it, too: at the curve of an arse that seemed to grow wider and more prominent every day, taking up more than its fair share of the kitchen. At the seams that would have given little room for her to sit or breathe or bend. At the plump little handfuls of flesh that spilled over the sides of her waistband, pressing the fabric of what had once been a loose floral blouse.

Maria caught his eye, grinned, and held up her fingers. Three pizzas, she mouthed.

And Ben went back to staring, very keenly assessing the location of each and every one.
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Old 06-01-2017, 03:13 PM   #11
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8.

The week before Christmas.

'Chinese,' Christine told them. 'Then Thursday night it was Greek. I'm kind of jealous, really.'

'Don't be,' Maria told her sagely. 'You'd blow up, too.'

'I don't gain weight,' Christine said, as if they couldn't already tell.

'Let's not talk about her,' Ben said.

'You don't have to be here,' Maria reminded him.

'I was just putting the donuts out.'

'Hm,' Maria said.

'Oh God,' Christine said. 'Are those jam-filled?'
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Old 06-02-2017, 07:01 AM   #12
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Excellent story, looking forward to more installments
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Old 06-02-2017, 08:04 AM   #13
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He needed new client chairs.

He didn't realise how narrow the arms were until Tessa lowered herself into the wooden seat. She was wearing that dress again. It was January (his Christmas had been illness-free, though the sniffles were starting to go around chambers) and Tessa wore her indulgence like a second skin and a not-insignificant layer of extra fat.

Her belly sat in her lap. There was no denying it. Even pressed in her dress (which she now wore with leggings, in an effort to keep it decent, since it had mysteriously grown so short), which might have once sucked her in, but only seemed to make her look fatter. The band of them showed thickly through the stretched-tight fabric of the white dress, though not thickly enough to disguise the outline of her navel. There was a small stain on the straining neckline that she'd tried and failed to wipe off - it looked like raspberry jam from the donuts in the kitchen. Ben's donuts.

Larger breasts bubbled from an obviously too-tight bra. Her hips and sides pressed snugly into the arms of the antique chairs. Thirty pounds now, at least. Had to be. Firmly in chubby territory, if not over the line into fat.

He could hardly stand it.

She bent to retrieve her iPad from her bag. Was it just his imagination, or did he hear the snap of stitches?

'Oof,' she breathed as she slumped back in her chair. 'I need new clothes.'

Ben's hand froze on his mobile. 'Oh?' he said.

'Don't pretend you haven't noticed I'm getting fat. I know everyone talks about me.'

'I-' Ben began, then stopped, at a complete loss for what to say next.

Tessa grinned. A double chin briefly materialised. That was new, too.

'Don't worry,' she said. 'It's funny, really.'

'You're…okay…with it?' It was so difficult to get those words out. So difficult to get anything out, actually, that wasn't a string of unintelligible syllables, especially now that her hand was resting on the round bulge of her belly. The ring was noticeably tighter on her finger, twin circles of fat surrounding it on each side.

'Sure,' she said. 'I'm not an idiot. Eat like I do and you're bound to pack it on. Unless you're Christine.' She abruptly changed the subject. 'Did you want to schedule your meetings with the new assault? She's not good at talking. I think you'll need to get her social worker in, too.'

'Sure,' he said, hardly paying attention. She was good at her job; she wouldn't still be here if she wasn't. She was personable and friendly and was forging relationships with solicitors that Ben hadn't even heard of, especially the Northern ones. The increased workload and the range of clients, Ben was sure, was the only thing keeping the Ancient Ones (who favoured their women slim, blond, and gold-digging) from telling her to shift the weight if she wanted to remain the friendly face of chambers. Her work ethic and cleverness just narrowly made up for the fact that he always seemed to get less work done rather than more when she was around.

'Okay,' she said. 'I'll contact the council. And your murder trial has been rescheduled for a week Monday.'

'Any word from the solicitor on a plea bargain?' Ben asked, surprised that his words came out in the right order.

'Still says he's innocent, apparently.'

'Damn,' Ben said.

'Maybe he is.'

'Evidence doesn't look like it.' He ran his fingers through his short, coarse curls. Across his desk, the other chair creaked as Tessa shifted her weight, one hand resting on her lap, the other balancing her iPad on the soft crest of her breasts.

'Hey,' Ben said. 'I could use a second pair of eyes. Would you mind taking a look at the photos for me, see if you spot anything I didn't?'

It she was anyone else - even Christine - he would have hesitated. Wondered if she was ready for that. But Tessa didn't hesitate, and didn't appear in the least bit put off.

Instead, she rubbed her stomach like an expectant mother, then tucked her fingers between the two distinct rolls at her side.

'Working lunch?' she suggested.

'I'll order in. Pizza?'

'God, yes,' Tessa said.

Ben picked up his mobile. 'Favourite?'

'Everything,' Tessa said. Her hand slid across the bulge of her belly, toward the deepening impression of her navel. 'I like everything.'
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Old 06-02-2017, 08:08 AM   #14
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Finally, Ben got ill.

It was only a matter of time, but it couldn't have come at a worse one. He had to be in court on Monday, and he hadn't quite sorted what he was actually going to say to make his creepy murderer look less guilty than he definitely was. And the snot wasn't helping.

It was his fault for braving his brother's house the previous weekend. It had been his nephew's birthday, and he had kissed the baby, played on the floor with his niece, held little hands on the way to the play park, and shared cake with a sniffling four-year-old. He remembered what Tessa had said about a zombie outbreak and wanted to kick himself for being the idiot who stood motionless in the face of the virulent hoard.

'I'm coming over,' Tessa said down the end of the line when he rang in sick Thursday morning. 'What else do you need me to bring?'

Ben was anchored to his sofa, his head throbbing and his muscles weak. Any other voice would have grated on him, but her accent was a balm.

'They're going to accuse you of favouritism,' Ben mumbled, trying to joke, maybe trying to flirt, and not doing a good job of it.

'They wouldn't be wrong,' Tessa said, and it took Ben's fumbling brain a moment to work out that that was a compliment. 'Besides, I need to get away from Maria.' Her voice dropped to a whisper. 'She's been a bit of a bitch since the new pupil got here.'

'She misses Christine,' Ben said. 'And he's not her type. When can you come over?'

'I can get away at lunch time. I'll bring you soup.'

'What would I do without you?'

'Probably die,' Tessa said.

Ben smiled in spite of his sore head. 'Looking forward to seeing you.'

There was quiet on the other end of the line. He almost thought she'd hung up on him. Then, still quietly, carefully, she replied:

'Me, too.'

Then the line went dead.
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Old 06-02-2017, 08:11 AM   #15
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As promised, Tessa showed up at lunchtime with an armful of leather folios, his laptop, and a carrier bag stuffed full of something that would probably smell wonderful if anything could get through his nostrils. She dumped them on his kitchen table, made no remark about the dull, cramped utilitarianism of his one-bedroom flat, and stood in his sitting room, in no hurry to move.

She was wearing a new outfit. She stopped fitting into anything else a few weeks ago, and even this was getting tight.

Because she was fat.

There was no beating about the bush. Her thighs were her widest part, stretching the limits of black slacks that would have been slimming on a taller, thinner person, but which had a shine that showed off every wrinkle, every bulge, every crease. Her blouse was too short and rode up to the waistband of her trousers, showing the pinched silver button and the soft swell of belly that half-obscured it. Her waist was barely a waist, but twin lines that sloped from swollen breasts to hips that her forearms rested on when she held her arms at her side. Her face was rounder, her dimples deeper, her neck now thickening instead of flowing into her shoulders.

Ben inhaled a glob of snot. God, she was gorgeous. Was she even ever slim? He could hardly remember.

'Where's your cat?' she asked.

'Huh?' he said. 'Oh. Asleep on the bed, I think.'

'Ah. We'll meet later, then.'

She set to work laying out his case notes on the little kitchen table, squeezing between the surfaces and the rickety chairs, backside waggling and jiggling perceptively as she bent over to the far end. Ben watched her as though in a fever-dream, wondering if this was real.

'Can you make it off the sofa?' she asked.

'Uh huh.'

'Up and at 'em,' she urged him.

Ben dragged himself from the sofa, at least feeling more motivated to move than before. He joined her at the kitchen table, only slightly cognisant that he hadn't showered and was still wearing his pyjamas.

'I bought you minestrone,' she said. 'From the baguette place. That okay?'

'Yes,' Ben said.

'Lovely.' She pulled a polystyrene container from the carrier bag and tugged off the lid. Steam spiralled into the air. 'And for me,' she added, pulling out a large baguette, a plastic-encased Caesar salad, and a tube of Oreos.

Ben began to focus very hard on the variety of words in front of him.

'Where are your bowls?' Tessa asked, pulling open the door of one of his sparsely-filled cupboards.

'Don't need one,' Ben said. 'Polystyrene's fine.'

'Brill, let's slob it today,' Tessa said. She placed his soup on the table, then plopped down next to him with a little gasp, her waistband obviously pulling tight into her torso. Paper rustled as she unwrapped her Monster Meatball baguette.

Ben poised his soup on the edge of the table and spooned it in absently as he went through his notes, vaguely strategizing his closing speech. He couldn't taste his meal, but it was hot and steamy and helped ease the pain in the bridge of his nose. Beside him, Tessa was once more looking through photographic evidence, frowning at photographs of the body.

Ben hoped against reason she would say something, spot something they hadn't spotted before, picked up on some glaring omission from the witness statements or police reports.

'Yeah,' Tessa said, wiping saucy fingers on her baguette paper. 'Guilty as sin, this one.'

'Yeah,' Ben agreed. 'Not good.'

'Life sentence?'

'Probably.'

'The right thing, then.'

'I know. I just don't like losing.'

She patted his arm gently, then leant back in her chair and patted her stomach in turn.

'Ben,' she said, and Ben started, still unused to her using his name. 'You might be in the wrong - excuse me - line of work if you don't like to lose at least part of the time.' She carefully rose from her chair, looking a bit unbalanced, then asked, 'May I use your loo?'

'Er, sure,' Ben said. 'Door on the left.'

'Thanks.'

Ben glumly stared at his work for a minute, swirling his spoon through the remainder of his soup. On Tessa's side, only a half-tube of Oreos remained. The walls of his flat were thin. He could hear the flush of the toilet and running of water, and footsteps on the bathroom floor.

His phone chirped. He had a message.

From his bathroom scales.

They were a Bluetooth contraption, something he'd picked up in those days he'd been trying to bulk. He'd last weighed himself about three months before, had seen no movement past his familiar 165, and slid them behind the sink. He hadn't deleted the app from his mobile, though - had convinced himself that he'd get back to it, and would look back at his old stats with pride at having packed on so much new muscle.

Congratulations! the scales wished him. You have gained 32 pounds since your last weigh-in.

The sink ran in the bathroom. Ben stared at his mobile, something not clicking. Still not clicking.

Then: oh holy shit.

'I like your shower curtain,' Tessa called out as the bathroom door opened, and Ben shuffled his mobile hurriedly away, nearly upending his soup into his lap. While his hands fumbled the evidence, his brain fumbled the numbers, and as she appeared, it popped into his mind in bright red letters, burning above her head: 197. 197. 197.

Tessa had weighed herself. And Tessa weighed 197 pounds.

It was just a number, but for some reason that made his sitting at the table extremely uncomfortable, and if he stood, the effect of those digits would be quite obvious in his light cotton trousers.

Should he tell her? She, too, was looking a bit flushed, and maybe a bit pleased with herself, as she sat back down beside him, one hand on her tummy, the other lifting a double-stack of Oreos to her mouth.

What had she weighed when she started at chambers? 140? 145? Around there. She'd put on fifty pounds. Fifty pounds in three months.

'Have I told you that you look really nice today?' Ben blurted out, and Tessa looked up at him, her face reddening and a little white smile reappearing.

'You're feverish,' she said.

'Maybe a little,' he replied. 'You still look nice.'

'Thanks,' she said. She finished her Oreos and reached for another. 'Pretty fat, though.'

'Yes,' Ben said. He'd agreed. He'd said something. He'd agreed. He'd committed the ultimate male sin; the ultimate grievance against British decorum. 'I like it.'

Tessa's eyes widened. Her blush spread.

The engagement ring gleamed as she lifted another Oreo to her mouth.
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Old 06-02-2017, 09:35 AM   #16
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Brilliant!
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Old 06-02-2017, 09:49 AM   #17
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It is exceptionally good !
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Old 06-02-2017, 01:07 PM   #18
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Definitely looking forward to the next installment! Great job!
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Old 06-02-2017, 11:34 PM   #19
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Thanks, all.

12

Nothing happened. Nothing changed.

Except that he was feeding her.

It started the afternoon after the trial. Guilty verdict, of course. Tessa brought him champagne ('Salut to getting rid of the creep,' she'd said) and they toasted each other while sat in his office at lunchtime, the new door firmly shut behind them.

'Thanks for your help,' Ben said. 'For everything, really.'

'My pleasure,' Tessa replied, a pretty blush spreading across her cheeks. She was wearing new dress of soft blue jersey (Ben missed the white one) and was comfortably wedged in the little client chair, her hips curling just an inch over each side, love handles pressing into the arms.

Ben reached beneath his desk and brought out a carrier bag. 'I got you a few things,' he said.

'Oh, Ben…you didn't have to. You know I'm just doing my job.'

'I know. It's nothing, really. I mean, I think you'll like it. Just…here.'

He handed the bag over. She set it in her lap and pulled apart the straps.
She smiled and reached inside.

'I like the chocolate ones,' she said, setting the six-pack of glazed donuts onto his desk by her flute of champagne.

'I know,' Ben replied, dry-mouthed.

There was more. 'I also like chocolates,' she said, setting the box on the floor by her feet, belly bunching up into two hand-sized rolls.

Ben grinned, slightly giddy.

'There's one more thing in there,' he prompted her, when, thinking it empty, she began to fold the bag away.

Curious, she reached inside once more and pulled out an envelope.

'A gift card,' she said, turning it over in her hands.

'For that American place you liked,' Ben said. Then he added begrudgingly, 'You could take Guy.'

'Oh.' Her smile was a bit hesitant. 'He'll like that. Thank you.'

The moments that followed were uneasy. Tessa interrupted them by reaching for the donuts and prying open the paper bag.

'Do you mind?' she asked.

He shook his head. 'Definitely not.'

She plucked a donut from the bag and lifted it to her lips. Tucked it away on the fifth bite. Washed it down with a swallow of champagne.

'More?' Ben asked her, tipping the bottle.

'Yes, please,' Tessa said.

He poured. Set the bottle down. Nudged the bag of donuts forward.

She watched his fingers, the gaping mouth of the paper bag. His chair groaned as he leaned back, the wheels giving a minute scream.

Something calm came over him. Something powerful and unrelenting. His heart was hammering, and his mouth was a desert, and his palms were sweaty. But his jaw was hard and his chin tilted back, and he flattered himself that he looked like he knew exactly what he was doing, that this was exactly what he had set out to do.

Across from him, Tessa stroked her belly, running her fingers affectionately across the dividing line at her navel, down across the lower swell where it lipped onto her thighs.

'Have another,' he said.

She looked at the bag. Looked to him, a look of surprise giving way to…something else. He gave away nothing.

He only watched her, waiting to see if she understood.

Have another. It hadn't been a suggestion.

She nodded. Slipped her fingers into the bag.

'Yes, sir,' she replied.
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Old 06-03-2017, 04:08 AM   #20
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The woman at Tesco was starting to recognise him. 'Don't know how you stay so skinny,' she said, her fake nails clacking as she scanned his daily six-pack of chocolate-glazed donuts.

'Fast metabolism,' Ben replied, watching as she ran through the two-litre of Coke.

Take away menus took up an entire drawer in his desk. By the window, he installed a discreet mini-fridge designed to look like a filing cabinet. In the kitchen, there was an entire cupboard full of packets of crisps, sweets, and tins of biscuits - all courtesy of Maria. 'My uncle owns a cash and carry,' she'd told Ben when he opened it in search for the sugar, only to be greeted by a small landslide of ridge-cut Walkers. 'I get discounts on all the stuff that's really bad for you.'

'Why-' Ben started to say, but Maria looked at him hard and said, 'Christine could really pack it away, couldn't she?'

Ben frowned at her, still not understanding.

'God,' Maria whispered. 'Tessa is going to get really fat.'

Tessa was getting really fat. Really, really fat. Her appetite was endless, and she was hardly ever deprived of the opportunity to indulge it. To everyone else, it became a sort of game. Her desk became a leaving-place for remains of overly large lunches their slender colleagues couldn't finish. Smitten solicitors sent her gifts of flowers, wine, and boxes of chocolates. Maria secretly watched Tessa in the kitchen as she fished biscuits and crisps from the cupboard and Maria scowled, something not quite connecting in her brain.

And almost every lunchtime, Ben shut Tessa with him in his office, set his fare before her, and told her, 'Eat.'

And every time, she looked at him with a small smirk, rumbled softly, and said, 'Yes, sir.'

He was desperate to find out how much she had gained. It had been over two months since she'd come to his flat, and she'd obviously put on more weight, seemingly at even more rapid pace than before. The blue jersey dress was now a second skin, stretching and straining over ballooning breasts, her always-full belly now level with the cups and making the skirt ride up above her knees to lower thighs that touched while standing. The twin rolls at each side were beginning to wrap around her back, spilling between the slats at the back of his too-small chair. At her desk in the main office, she had to rest her elbows on the armrests of her deck chair, tiring with the new weight of her doughy upper arms.

And she relished it. 'God,' Tessa said as she pulled herself from his chair, it giving a little thunk as it tried to cling to her backside. She stood before him in profile, sweeping her hands lightly down the soft, rounded curve of her full belly. 'I look pregnant.'

'A bit,' Ben relented, eyes fixed on the gentle movements of her plump hands.

'Not sure I'll be able to wear this dress much longer.'

'No,' Ben agreed. Underneath the desk, his legs were trembling. 'It's getting tight.'

This was their relationship now. This odd, dancing, erotic nothingness - their joking and friendship and growing platonic closeness coupled with these private half-hours shut in his office while the rest of chambers gossiped outside. It wasn't an affair. He had done nothing but talk (though not about what they were actually doing) and encourage her to eat. Correction: encourage her to eat a lot.

And he and Maria weren't the only ones feeding her.

'Guy took me to a steakhouse last night,' Tessa said she came in one morning, spectacularly round and a bit hungover. 'I've never eaten so much in my life. Did you know that never-ending garlic bread actually does have an end?'

Or, 'We're going to Majorca for holiday. All-inclusive. Guy insisted.'

Or, 'Guy says I'm getting too fat for his car.'

Ben wanted to ask what it was like at home. Was her fiancé like him? Did he have the same interests, the same regard for Tessa's growing form? Sometimes it sounded like he didn't - sometimes Tessa brought up his criticisms or his put-downs in a way that seemed shamed rather than flattered. But then she'd take pictures of her demolished lunch, or her takeaway curry, or Ben would catch her in the kitchen trying to frame her belly in her selfies, and her face would flush as she fumbled with her phone undoubtedly sending them to her fiancé.

Ben didn't think of those moments too often. He'd have to re-photocopy his notes because they kept crumpling in his hand.

It was only when she came back from her week in Majorca - browned, flush-faced, and breasts surging from the too-small cups of her bras - that Ben found courage, and found her at her desk going through invoices with Maria.
'Hello, stranger,' Tessa said, passing a paper to Maria to sign.

'Hey,' Ben said. The sullen fug he'd been in the past week - the after-effect of dining alone at lunch every day, not in the mood to entertain the colleagues or solicitors he'd been neglecting since he started his routine with Tessa - immediately lifted, and his body relaxed at the delight of once more being near her.

He bit his tongue and summoned the words:

'Would you and Guy like to come to dinner this weekend?'

'Sorry?' Maria said before Tessa couldn't answer.

'I hear a lot about him,' Ben said. 'I'd like to finally meet him.'

'Really?' Tessa asked.

'Maria's coming too,' Ben rushed to add.

'Am I,' Maria said.

'I think we're free,' Tessa said.

'Excellent,' Ben said. 'Saturday at 7:30?'

'Sure,' Tessa asked, a little wrinkle of confusion forming between her eyes.

'What if I'm not free?' Maria said.

'You are,' he said.

'Can I bring Lani?'

'Nope. Only four chairs,' Ben told her, and before she could protest, he said, 'See you both there,' and walked away whistling, on the inside wondering what the hell he'd just done.
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Old 07-02-2017, 08:56 AM   #21
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Ben bought a lump of beef, easy-roast potatoes, some gravy from the deli, and butter sauce for the vegetables. Bill sat and watched him from the table, podgy in his furry tuxedo, hoping for a scrap to fall within his reach.

'Not for you,' Ben told the cat gently, patting him on the head before going to wash the meat juice from his hand. 'It's all for her.'

Though of course it wasn't really. He'd happily forgo his own meal if it meant he could lift every bite from his plate to Tessa's lips. But she wasn't his, wasn't single, and for some reason, he had invited not only her, but her fiancé as well. Because he was a horny idiot who fancied her past the point of sense.

And he'd also invited Maria.

'You're such an idiot,' Maria said by way of greeting when Ben opened the door to his flat. She had a double layer chocolate cake under her arm and a canister of squirty cream poking out of her handbag. She lifted the cake. 'For your fat girlfriend,' she said.

'She's not my…if you say that while they're here I'll -'

'Untwist your knickers,' Maria said, pushing past him. 'I'm your friend, remember? I wouldn't be here if I wasn't.' She placed the cake on the table and gave Bill an absent pat. 'So what's the plan?'

'What?' Ben said, still in the doorway. He was wearing his apron, bracelets of washing up suds circling his wrists.

'Invite them over. Declare your love for Tessa. Knives out and fight Guy to the death, or-'

'No,' Ben said hurriedly. 'None of that.'

'Then why are you doing this?'

Ben couldn’t answer.

Maria prompted him on, her hands stuck in the pockets of her slim-cut trousers. 'Because you know you already see her every day.'

'I know,' Ben said. 'It's just…not enough.'

Maria pursed her lips. 'You're going to have your heart broken, you know.'

'Let's just get through dinner, OK?'

'Sure,' she said, popping the lid from the cake. 'Now, did you get any pudding for us? Because my bets are on Tessa eating this entire thing herself.'

Fifteen minutes later, when the table was dragged from the wall, the places were set, and the roast was keeping warm in the oven, there was a knock on the door. Ben and Maria answered together, arms linked, playing the hosting couple in some comradery that Ben hadn't technically agreed to but was thankful for, especially when his view of Tessa was immediately blocked by a slight man wearin a bowtie, slicked-back brown hair, and a full hipster beard.

'Er,' Ben said blankly. This wasn't what he'd been expecting at all. 'Hello?'

'You're Ben?' the man said, the beard breaking as he smiled. He held out a hand; on the wrist was the one thing that betrayed his job as a financier: an expensive-looking gold watch. 'Guy,' the man said.

Ben was confused. The image he'd had in his head - the image firmly set there by Christine's stories and Tessa's complaints - was of a severe, muscular man who lacked warmth, wit, or any degree of social grace. Or facial hair. Instead, Guy looked like he had got lost on the way to Glastonbury, and just happened to have found Ben's door, blocking enough that Ben couldn't quite glimpse Tessa behind him.

Ben took Guy's hand uneasily.

'Hey,' he said. 'Nice to finally meet you.'

Guy clasped him with two hands and gentle pressure, then finally, finally, stepped inside.

'Hi,' Tessa said.

Guy had cleared the way for her, was distracted, offloading his tartan jacket onto an equally confused-looking Maria, and Ben was thankful that Guy couldn't see the grin stretching across his face.

Tessa was wearing the blue dress again. Only it wasn't really a dress anymore. The waistline - if it could be called that now - had migrated north along with Tessa's own, and now sat just beneath her round, heavy breasts that struggled from a too-small bra, inches of creamy cleavage peeking from the deep v-neckline. The shoulders struggled to cover her plump arms. Across the expanse of her round, soft belly, fabric pulled into whiskers, except where it dipped in the deep hollow of the her navel, and clung even tighter to the billowing fat of her developing hang. She wore no leggings but thin tights instead, and from the shape of her, Ben wasn't sure they had made it past her hips. The dress barely could, either, stalling a few inches above the knees and showing off a dimpled thigh.

'Hi,' Ben said, stupefied.

'Hi,' Tessa said again.

Maria coughed behind them. Ben hurriedly stepped back, letting Tessa through, almost in pain for the exertion of keeping his hands at his side.

'Ben,' Maria said loudly, recalling his attention. 'Shall I crack open the wine?'

Drinks were served. Bill was introduced, and stroked by Tessa and given scratches by Guy (which also confused Ben, as he had convinced himself that Guy would be allergic, or had had a bad experience with a cat as a child, or would find some way to despise the best little man in Ben's life). Guy and Tessa sat on the sofa while the gravy heated, Bill finding a favourite soft spot on Tessa's belly to knead as she reclined against the white upholstery.

Tessa chuckled, scratching Bill behind the ears. Ben found himself watching the pliability of her stomach below the navel. Guy was making unexpectedly adept conversation with Maria about her cases, like he knew what he was talking about in spite of the beard. But Ben wasn't paying attention, nor could he.

He could only think one thing: Tessa was huge. It only seemed to take some sort of change of scene - catching sight of her on the street outside the office with her bag, rushing pink-faced to court, or here, sitting in his flat - to fully understand how large she'd become. Guy was just as slim as Ben was, and the contrast between them was almost comical: Tessa on the sofa cushions next to him, hair and makeup professional and sleek whilst the cushions sank alarmingly beneath her weight, her backside spreading to take up more than a third of the three-seater…then her fiancé next to her, bearded and cut like a cigarette in his white skinny jeans.

The timer went off. The gravy was ready.

'Right,' Maria said - his mouthpiece, apparently, as Ben hadn't been able to find words for a while now. 'Who's hungry?'

Tessa's eyes narrowed as she grinned.

At the table, Ben took up the carving knife. Maria dished out potatoes while Ben sliced the meat. Everyone took polite portions - even Tessa, who only made a meagre meal on her plate. Ben frowned at her paltry serving of potatoes and her anaemic slice of meat, and then scowled harder when Guy bent over her plate and, like a father, began to cut her beef into bite-sized pieces, handling his knife like a scalpel.

'Guy,' Tessa said. 'I can do it myself.'

'Sorry,' Guy said, setting her knife on her plate and turning his attention back to his own meal.

Ben frowned at the cut marks in Tessa's beef.

'So-' Maria asked Tessa and Guy, 'how did you two meet?'

'At a restaurant,' Guy answered, watching as Tessa guided her knife into the groove mark he'd created. For the first time, his friendly expression seemed to falter behind the beard.

'At uni,' Tessa said. Her knife scraped the plate. 'Just before I left. He was brilliant when my mum was ill.' She lifted her fork to her lips and chewed.

'You should have seen her,' Guy said. He tried to stab a pea but missed, distracted by Tessa slicing up another bite. 'You could practically see through her.'

'I lost a lot of weight when I was taking care of Mum,' Tessa said.

Ben started. How big had she been before? Her rapid gain made sense if her body was used to it. Old habits. Still, the size of her…it almost seemed unreal.

'I can imagine,' Maria replied. She still hadn't touched her food, and was instead swirling her wine while Tessa sliced another bite from her beef.

'Wouldn't know it by looking at me now,' Tessa said. Her smile was odd, not quite natural. Was she always like this around Guy? It was like she was a different person: uncertain, unsure, shy and meek and docile. Ben wasn't sure he liked it.

But maybe he was wrong. Maybe this was the real Tessa. Maybe the Tessa in his office - the Tessa who sat in front of him and lifted chocolate to her lips, and who he was sure would make a precise and passionate barrister if she'd ever been given a proper chance - was some sort of fantasy. It was far too erotic and dream-like to be real.

'You look great,' Guy said affably.

Ben had to bite back his agreement. He hated to admit it, because he hated him (he decided, at this moment), but Guy was…well, a nice guy. And why wouldn't he be? Tessa had good taste.

'More gravy?' Ben offered.

'Yes, please,' Guy replied, taking the jug and near-upending it onto Tessa's plate. 'Anyway,' he continued, 'after her mum passed, my work transferred me here. Tessa wanted to stay in Durham, but I talked her into tagging along. You love it here, don't you Tess?'

Ben stared at his plate as she answered, though he could feel her eyes burning into the top of his head.

'Yes,' she said.

The meal carried on like this: Polite, not-too-revealing conversation. Meaningful glances avoided as Ben paid more attention to his food than the woman across from him. Maria putting away a few morsels before declaring herself full. Guy doing his best impression of a mother bird, returning with every leaving on the table to Tessa's plate. 'Has everyone had enough?' he asked of the potatoes, before sliding the remainder into Tessa's gravy. Or, 'Were you planning leftovers tomorrow?' before Ben gestured no and Guy carved the rest to convey to the empty space once occupied by Tessa's buttered peas.

Ben's face was burning, his trousers uncomfortable. Tessa was obviously full, eating slowly, but still eating.

And it was undeniable:

Ben was turned on.

It was embarrassing. He didn't even watch porn because he hated other men imposing on his fantasies (among various other reasons), and yet here he was, this ridiculous man seeing to Tessa's appetite like she couldn’t serve herself. And Tessa wasn’t even particularly happy about it; that was also clear. 'I'm an adult,' she whispered once, obviously hoping for conversation to cover her defiance as Maria asked Ben for the location of another bottle of wine. 'Let me cut up my own bloody food.'

Guy's murmured response: 'No. Keep eating. You're not done.'

As much as he hated the idiot, Ben couldn't help but imagine, just for a few moments, that he was Guy. Sitting there beside Tessa, pressed into her soft, swelling side. The angle of his shoulder making obvious that he was sliding his palm across her thigh and belly beneath the table.

His attentions made it clear. Both Guy and Ben shared something besides feelings for the same woman: a want to see her fat. A want to see her stuff herself silly, then take her home after this was done, pry from her that tight blue dress, guide her onto the groaning bed and-

Ben was thankful Maria was there to retrieve dessert from the kitchen, because he daren't stand up.

'Room for cake?' Maria said, returning with the chocolate monstrosity slid onto a plate, the squirty cream tucked under her arm.

'Tessa would love some,' Guy said.

'Guy,' Tessa said. Her face was pink, her eyes not glazed - as they sometimes were in Ben's office after one of their long, filling lunches - but sharp, and flashing. Cowed, Guy turned his attention back to his place setting.

Still, she did not reject the small plate that Maria sat in front of her, and she was the first to take the cake knife and cut a healthy slice of her own. The first to tilt it onto her plate. The first to lick icing from her fingers. The first to upend the cream canister and pile a layer four inches high.

The first to go back for seconds.

Guy said not a word, but his eyes followed every movement of the fork in Tessa's hand. Ben didn’t say a thing either. Not even as Tessa took thirds.
Maria's eyes were wide as Tessa took 'Just a sliver' for fourths. Holy shit, she mouthed at Ben, while Ben stared dumbstruck, and Guy looked on grinning with something akin to pride.

'Oof,' Tessa said at last. She was impossibly round. She'd slumped back against Ben's chairs, and jumped a bit at the back groaned behind her. She rested her hands on the crest of her belly, the engagement ring flashing, her flushed face sinking into its double chin. She lifted her serviette to her lips. 'Excuse me,' she whispered. Her eyes set on Ben. 'May I use your loo?'

'Erm,' Ben said. 'Of course.'

All three watched as Tessa gingerly rose from her chair, round belly bumping the table, sending water sloshing in her glass. Pulled her snug dress firmly down around her thighs where it had attempted to migrate northwards. The jiggle of her backside as she retreated into the corridor. The bathroom door clicked. Locked.

Ben was suddenly sweating, his mobile phone pressing hard against his hip.
Would she do it?

She had before, without prompting. Now here she was, full to the brim…she would do it. Wouldn't she? She had to.

It almost felt perverse, like spying. He should tell her what he knew. That her figures were beamed straight to his smartphone. But he couldn't do that now, here, could he? Not with Guy here. Not with Guy so obviously out of things to say now that Tessa had left the room, and who was now entertaining himself with his mobile phone while he pulled his stupid beard into mini-dreads with his fingers.

In the silence, the flush of the toilet was obvious. So was the creak of floorboards that Ben didn't remember hearing last time Tessa had visited his flat. He could so clearly imagine her in there, the mirror lying to her, refusing to show her the effects of the last months' excess. The scales on the floor, sleek and cold and grey. Plump little feet. The press of painted toes to tare, the waiting red 0, the flash of so many numbers as it creaked, adjusting to her weight.

And what a weight it would be. Every meal that they had shared clung to her, from her plump breasts to her mountainous belly, from her doughy arms to her second chin to her swelling hips and jiggling thighs. Monster Meatballs hung from her navel to brush her mound; donuts ran fat rings around her fingers and made the engagement ring unmovable. Ironic, Ben thought, that he'd helped cement its place there, when he wanted nothing more than to see it flung off, never to find its way back to her hand. He wanted it badly, and even more now that he could picture the enemy. Even more now, now that the shiny-bright veneer was gone and Guy was ignoring them, and flicking through Facebook on his phone.

Ben's pocket vibrated. His fingers bit his knees through his trousers. The bathroom door creaked open, and Tessa emerged, bright-eyed a bit a startled, face a very flushed pink.

She looked at Ben. Been looked at his lap, where the bulges of cock and phone competed for prominence.

'More wine?' Maria asked.

Guy and Tessa refused.

'Please,' Ben replied, patting his mobile with a sweaty hand. Later.

He wasn't sure how long he could last, was considering excusing himself to the loo, but Guy - the prick - was merciful. Drinks were finished swiftly, his hand always finding a place on Tessa to rest - on a side, on a shoulder, on her belly, his thumb running circles on Tessa's upper arm. Impatience finally got the better of him, and, apparently, just like Ben, he could no longer stand it.

'Well,' he said as he pushed his chair back. 'That was great, thank you. I suppose we best be on our way.'

Maria and Ben followed them both to the door. Maria offered Guy his jacket. Ben went to offer Tessa hers, then remembered she hadn't been wearing one. He wondered if she even had one that fit.

'Cheeky ask,' Guy said, chin pointing to the quarter of the cake remaining under plastic on the dining table. 'Don't suppose you're looking to get rid of that?'

Ben met Tessa's eyes over Guy's shoulder. She bit her lip, pink tinging her rounded cheeks.

'I was going to bring it to work on Monday, actually,' Ben replied.

'Fair dues,' Guy said. He held out his hand. 'Hey, thanks. Brilliant meal. And lovely to meet you both.'

'Thank you for coming,' Ben said, shaking his hand while Tessa skimmed her fingers over the impossible bulging roundness of her belly. It was only just then that Ben noticed that the hem of her dress was riding higher, even pulled down - had risen up to the fleshiest part of her meeting thighs.
Guy moved away, leaving clear space, clear air between Ben and Tessa.

The space closed.

It was the first time he'd touched her, he only realised then. The first time he'd laid one hand on her. And now she was here, and her fiancé was there, and her soft, bulging roundness was pressed against him, pushing firmly into his flat belly, soft breasts into his ribs, soft hands on his shoulders as she stood on her tiptoes for a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

'See you Monday,' she whispered into his ear like some sort of secret, then leaned back, her gaze dark, significant.

Ben cleared his throat. 'See you then.'

There was waving. Tessa's crinkly smile. The door closed.

Ben turned to find Maria behind him, arms crossed, looking dazed.

'Er,' she said, while her face spoke plainly: What a weird fucking night. 'I'll load the dishwasher, I suppose.'

'Okay,' Ben replied. 'Be right back.'

Maria nodded. Ben rushed to the bedroom, prying his mobile from his trouser pocket.

His thumb fumbled the button. His finger fumbled the passcode. He'd barely got his flies undone when the message flashed up on his phone:

Be careful! it said. You have gained fifty-four pounds.

'Oh God,' Ben gasped, his left hand sticky, his mobile clutched tight in his right. 'Oh God.'

Then his phone vibrated. Another message had arrived. It was from Tessa, like she knew, like she was offering post-coital affection.

It was only two letters:

xx

His hand trembled. Kisses.

His breathing rattled. Fifty-four pounds.

'Can cats have gravy?' Maria called from the kitchen.

'Oh God,' Ben breathed.

'Too late!' Maria shouted back.

Ben slumped against his chest of drawers in his sparsely-decorated bedroom, shaking as he attempted to hold himself up.

Fifty-four pounds.

And it was obvious. Those weren't just his pounds. Not his donuts or his baguettes or his influence or teasing or command.

They were Guy's too.

'Fuck him,' Ben breathed.

Because he loved her. Her work ethic and her wit, her brain and her body and her laugh. He loved every molecule, every rolling, jiggling inch.

He wanted her. All of her.

And from the warmth of her embrace, from those hours in his office, from the look in her eyes as she pulled away from him, plump fingers grasping at the lapel of his shirt. He knew the truth.

She wanted him, too.

'Guy was nice,' Maria said when Ben returned to the kitchen a few minutes later, scrubbed and smelling of hand soap. 'Young, but nice.'

'Uh huh,' Ben agreed.

'You seem to have the same taste in women.'

'Uh huh.'

'And they're engaged. Like, established engaged. Still-in-love-even-when-they've-annoyed-each other engaged.'

'I know.'

Maria shut the dishwasher with her hip.

'And you're in love with her.'

No answer, except for the wet sound of Bill licking gravy from the bottom of the jug.

'So,' Maria said, 'how's that going to work?'

Ben sighed. 'I haven't the faintest fucking clue.'
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Old 07-05-2017, 06:35 AM   #22
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This is exceptionally good - really excited to see this newest installment. Keep up the good work!
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Old 07-07-2017, 06:46 AM   #23
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I like the twist here, really good - looking forward to more
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Old 07-07-2017, 03:39 PM   #24
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Holy crap! Love this!! The tension is awesome--it builds with the weight!
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Old 08-17-2017, 10:28 PM   #25
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Any chance of an update soon?
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