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|10-09-2007, 08:16 PM||#1|
Join Date: Oct 2005
Joe Morelli – Point Set Match - by the Observer (~BBW/~BHM, Eating, Romance, ~SWG)
~BBW/~BHM, Eating, Romance, ~SWG - two competitors find they have a common mutual interest: good food
Joe Morelli – Point Set Match
by The Observer
(with apologies to Janet Evanovich)
[Author’s comment: the characters in this tale are based on the popular Stephanie Plum series; the plot is original, representing one fan’s projection of the natural progression of the characterizations found there. For more details on the series upon which this tale uis based see www.evanovich.com]
Stephanie Plum sighed as dawn broke. Her left hand absentmindedly caressed her softening midriff, now a full three inch roll after two years as a skip tracer, as she sat in the front seat of her car. Another futile stakeout session – common when tracking down bail bond skips. Steph knew the drill, but this morning was different. She had something else on her mind that actually made her happy nothing had come of the night.
The something was Joe Morelli.
Joe was a onetime childhood schoolmate. More recently, at age 33, he’d surfaced into Stephanie’s post-divorce life as both a reluctant professional associate and likeable personal nemesis. He was now a local police detective who had become involved in a few of her cases.
That part was fine, because thanks to Joe she’d been able to pull through cases that otherwise might have been over her head. But to her dismay the association had led something else: his being chosen by her mother as Stephanie’s unofficial boyfriend. As though she needed or wanted one. Especially as though she wanted one with a somewhat paternalistic tendency to be a bit pompous, manipulative and downright secretive at times when working joint cases. She was independent, with her own place, and not really looking for complications in her life.
For some time now, after the two had concluded a particularly dramatic adventure, Joe had been managing to get himself invited twice a week to her mom’s home, enjoying her succulent high calorie cooking and scrumptious desserts – and of course Stephanie was required to be there. Over the months she’d softened her initial attitude. She realized that he was likeable enough underneath, but wouldn’t admit it openly.
There was another issue too, one she intended to deal with starting tonight.
When she initially began working for her Uncle Vince as a skip tracer Stephanie was a 5-7, 125 pounds novice. After two years she was now an experienced professional with a wardrobe that had become two sizes larger. She rationalized it as being the result of stress eating, discounting both her liking of her mom’s cooking and enjoyment of comfort food breakfasts after all night stakeouts. Breakfasts such as a grande burrito with pancakes helped her unwind and sleep during daylight hours.
Her mom dismissed her gradual but obvious gain over the past twenty-four months as being natural for someone over 30.
“You’re not a teenager, after all,” she’d exclaim.
It was true enough, and she really didn’t mind the weight gain. It just galled her that Joe was able to eat more than she did and not show it – or so he dismissively claimed. Shew knew neither Joe nor her Mom knew her weight precisely. It was her secret that she was carrying nearly forty added pounds.
The fact was that she knew Joe’s denials weren’t really true. After nearly a year of exposure to her Mom’s cooking she’d noticed Joe was getting a little softer – Steph was now determined to give him a little needed humility by accelerating the process.
She’d set the stage two weeks earlier by deliberately losing a wager with Joe – promising to host a Monday night football party as her payoff. She planned it to be a kickoff for a four month series of such parties. Her goal was at least ten more pounds on Joe’s gut by the end. Tonight was slated to be the first.
She keyed the ignition and left her stakeout post, wheeling into the Village family restaurant just before 7:00 am. Laura, the morning waitress, had seen her hips expand and her midriff develop over the past two years. It wasn’t always pancakes – Steph also liked French toast, waffles and crepes. Anything with carbos, preferably with meat and eggs. Laura wasn’t slender herself, and the two at times exchanged rejoinders about Steph’s healthy appetite.
It was only a small surprise to Laura as Steph ordered off the lunch rather than the breakfast menu: a chocolate malt with their Mounty’s Special – a third pound cheeseburger that included a tomato slice, onion, and a fried egg. She examined its structure carefully, for tonight she expected to cook a similar batch of her own. It would be served with beer, chicken wings, and pizza - plus ice cream sundaes at half time.
“What’s with the exam?” asked Laura. “Usually at this hour you’re ready to tie right in to a breakfast.”
“Special assignment,” Steph replied, and confided her plan to Laura, who also knew Joe.
“Cool,” said Laura, “maybe I can help a little. You know Joe frequently comes in here at lunch and teases me some. Maybe I’ll comp him some goodies from time to time – he’s a pushover for sweets.”
“Hey, thanks,” replied Steph, who began to think of an added dimension for her plan. But first was tonight’s party.
- - - - - - -
Joe arrived just as Steph was mixing her first treat of the night – tall glasses filled with rich grasshoppers, including blended pistachio ice cream, cream de menthe and Oreo cookies.
“Here, test this out,” she invited.
Joe took the glass and smiled in appreciation.
“We have chicken wings in the oven and the pizzas have been ordered,” she advised him. “There’s a half dozen Coronas in the refrigerator along with 12 tall Buds. Think that should be enough for six people?”
“Umm, yeah,” replied Joe as he guzzled the tall drink. “I think we’d better pace the booze – we don’t want anyone getting pulled over driving home. But its seven including you.”
“Its going to be three hours – just be sure to eat plenty of pizza and you’ll do fine. But I can hide the Coronas if you want,” she offered.
“Nah, just don’t push it. You can take them to your Mom’s place if they’re left over. I appreciate all the effort. I must say you’re really taking this in good spirits.”
“Honestly, I don’t mind having a gang of guys over for once. This place gets lonely. Who knows, if it goes well I might offer to do it more often if you guys pick up the bill.”
Joe noted the offer.
“Maybe Steph’s iron façade is beginning to crack a little,” he thought. Just then the doorbell rang and two of his buddies arrived.
“OK Joe,” Steph said, “you get people seated, I’ll handle the food and drinks.”
With that she reloaded the blender and pulled the chicken wings out of the oven to cool. By the time she had prepared the last of the grasshoppers the other three guests had arrived and the pre-game show was on.
She busied herself with preparing her version of Mounty Burgers, which were instantly accepted by the hungry cops. She noted that the grasshoppers had been consumed and collected the glasses.
“Who wants beer with their burgers?” she asked.
Every hand went up and the first six pack was distributed.
A half hour later the game was on, She noted happily that Joe and two of the others had each had two of the tasty burgers/. She discreetly cleared the plates before the pizza deliveryman arrived at a commercial break.
“Hey Steph,” said Joe, “the green stuff and burgers were great, but I’m a pizza and chicken guy. Need any help?”
“Not really – but on second thought, why don’t you carry the pizza while I distribute the chicken wings? The plates on on the TV trays already.”
Steph enjoyed putting Joe in the subordinate position, but noted that he cooperated very nicely.
“OK,” she announced. “The games about to resume. There’s more pizza and wings on the dining room table.”
At the end of the first quarter she brought around seconds. She then offered seconds on beer, getting three acceptances, including Joe, who she noted had eaten three slices with two more on his plate, plus a couple of wings.
“Now guys, there’s still more – but at half time you have a surprise – so save some room!” she cautioned as se disappeared into the kitchen.
When halftime came she emerged with a tray full of three scoop sundaes, festooned with syrup, nuts, and whipped cream.
“Anyone who wants to be invited back another time had better appreciate these,” she teased. The men just grinned. Joe noted that this was her second hint of an encore.
By now all six officers were thoroughly sated; they ate their desserts slowly as they remained absorbed in the game’s third quarter. Stephanie smiled as she estimated that Joe in particular had probably packed away well over 2000 calories.
By the fourth quarter she was cleaning things up and asked “how many of you are bachelors?” Three raised their hand.
“OK, any objection to my packing up most of the leftovers in three batches and sending them home with you?” she offered.
No one refused – but Joe’s box was a little fuller than the others.
“Steph is really a gracious hostess,” remarked Sam O’Reilley to Joe. “Was she serious about doing this again?”
Joe thought quickly, recalling her earlier remarks. “Maybe. If we share the costs perhaps she could be persuaded. Why not ask the guys?”
A quick poll resulted in a $20 per head offer, which Steph accepted. Her plan was working better than she could have anticipated. Joe was the last to leave and she remarked to him “don’t worry – I’ll bring the Corona’s to my Mom’s tomorrow.”
After he left she cleaned up, then relaxed with the final Bud herself.
Wednesday afternoon Joe Morelli dropped in for an early lunch at the Village. The previous evening’s lasagna dinner at the Plum’s following the Monday football part had caused him to have a light breakfast but now he was hungry. Laura noted the slight pudge of his belly over his belt. Stephanie was right. Joe had packed on a few pounds.
“Morning – coffee I presume and what to go with it Joe?”
“Well, free pie with the roast beef lunch – and for you as a regular I can make that a la mode,” prompted Laura.
“Sounds good,” he replied laconically, falling into her trap. Of course the pie was a full slice, with two scoops of vanilla.
The pattern was set, and would continue for the next several weeks, augmented by a finishing touch from Leah, the file clerk and all around girl Friday in Joe’s department. As a test and favor to Stephanie she made sure a late afternoon supply of pastries were available for her coworkers. Sure enough, Joe didn’t even try to resist temptation.
To keep things interesting Stephanie varied the menu – each week for the next five weeks was a different opening ice cream drink and snack. The second week featured a platter of quesadillas, the next bowls of butternut squash soup, then chicken enchilada pie, on the next pita gyros, followed by a variety of mini tacos.
These were accompanied by a variety of entrees. Squares of Mexican lasagna were followed by cheesy chicken noodle skillets succeeded by a hearty meatloaf and veggie combo, pan-roasted ginger salmon and whole wheat spaghetti with a Greek lamb tomato and cumin sauce and finally Galician Hake with vegetables based on a Moorish recipe.
Desserts were a treat as well. Savory Alicante and Jijona candy were combined with sherry to produce a uniquely Spanish ice cream unlike anything Joe and his buddies had ever tasted to match the quesadillas and lasagna theme. The soup and chicken skillets were accompanied by an Oats and Honey granola pie served a la mode. The enchilada pie and meatloaf were matched to a traditional creamy banana and coconut crème pie. The gyros and salmon/spaghetti combo was teamed with a tasty lemon yogurt cake. The mini-tacos and Moorish Hake she matched with Santiago tarta cakes and pudding.
The Monday night parties quite understandably became veritable food tastings, with Joe and his fellow officers eagerly anticipating whatever surprise Steph might have next. But Steph’s attention was on Joe. Now with her consent Steph’s Mom and grandmother kept pushing tantalizing dinners that Joe couldn’t resist.
With four sources of extra calories bombarding him Joe’s supposedly invulnerable system naturally capitulated. After the sixth week he had no choice but to get some new clothes, a fact which he noted to Laura without yet putting together the real cause.
“You’re in your early thirties, Joe - you shouldn’t expect to be Mr. Six Pack forever. Real women like their men with a comfort factor anyway. It shows their cooking is appreciated,” shje responded.
“You sound like Stephanies’s grandmother Mazur – ‘here, have seconds, get some meat on those bones,’ she says.”
“Stephanie?” replied Laura, feigning innocence in a way which had Joe’s detective antennae twitching.
“Stephanie Plum – you’ve seen us here together a few times. Her Mom likes having me to her place for dinner.”
“Oh yeah. Well, grandma could be trying to give you a hint. Stephanie’s no skinny minnie herself you know. What are the men in her family like?”
“Hmm – you may have a point. They’re all husky.”
“A good deal more than you I bet. You may have gone up a size or so, but no way would I call you husky. I think you need some apple pie.”
“Oh alright,” relented Joe, as he began toying with the idea that maybe grandma was indeed trying to give him a hint. He knew Laura’s pies always came a la mode.
Then, being a detective, he began to connect the dots. He knew it would be just like Stephanie, if he wanted him huskier, to trick him into it. After all, they’d played enough other tricks on one another. He wouldn’t put it past her. But rather than getting angry he found himself merely getting suspicious. He decided to question his coworker Leah.
It was easy enough to do. Later that day he simply and very deliberately grabbed a jelly filled donut from the box she had brought in and began eating it in front of her.
“You know you’re getting me fat buying these things,” he casually remarked.
“Huh?” she said, feigning innocence. “You have to be kidding; a donut a day isn’t anything but a pick me up.”
“You mean Stephanie Plum has nothing to do with this little treat?” he said. Her immediately flustered body language told him he’d hit paydirt.
“Well, can you blame her? Think about what you’ve done with her. Buying junk food for two on stakeouts, then leaving most of your portion for her to snack on in addition to your own. Turn about is fair play – and don’t deny that you haven’t enjoyed her filling out.”
Morelli knew Leah was right – he had more than once deliberately stoked Steph’s appetite. Despite some teasing remarks he rather enjoyed her augmented figure. He’d seen the folds of flesh developing on her brassiere as her bust grew, seen the belly roll forming on her midriff, and noted her hemlines rising further above the knees of her thickening hips. Despite occasional teasing he actually appreciated her fuller figure
In fact, not only did he like her. He liked her family’s food and attributed his increased appetite and weight gain to his meals there. Now he was surprised but not really offended to discover the hunter had become the hunted. But, he knew, two could play the game. The next Monday he had a surprise for her – a two pound box of chocolate truffles.
“I just wanted to give you this in appreciation for all you’ve done for me and the guys,” he said. “Its so much better than a sports bar scene.”
Stephanie accepted the gift graciously and without suspicion that Joe was onto her. Predictably the truffles were gone within the week. At their Friday dinner meeting he took the next step – inviting Steph out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant called Carlos.
Joe started out the evening with a sampler platter and Coronas for both of them, being careful to only match what Stephanie herself ate. Then came the main course, with refills on the Coronas. Stephanie ate slowly, hoping Joe would finish first, but he held back and gradually they both finished together.
“Shall we split some refried ice cream or each have our own,” Joe asked.
“Well, sharing is nice, but for some reason I seem to have a good appetite tonight,” she replied.
“OK – so one apiece, “ he said, motioning for the waitress.
Once the desserts arrived he began eating along with her, noticing that she was watching his every move.
“So, just how big do you want this belly of mine to get?”
“Huh, what do you mean?”
“Steph, these are new pants and shirt – I’ve outgrown my old ones thanks to your Mom, Leah and Laura – who you may as well know have collectively spilled the beans. Perhaps not in so many words, but I’ve figured out the reason behind the Monday night calorie fest and all the rest. I’m sorry for teasing you about your pudge – you are really a beautiful person and friend. And I like your body just as is.
“Wow - you don’t seem too upset.”
“Not if gaining few pounds helps me penetrate that shell you wear most of the time – I’ll admit I love your family’s food. But you actually like huskier guys?”
”Definitely – they’re cuter. I’m also hopeful they will refrain from calling me ‘chubs’ if they’re at least 30-40 pounds bigger than I am.”
Joe winced. He knew he’d occasionally called Steph just that.
“Well, you’ve got me over 180 – so how close am I?”
“Never mind – but don’t worry. You have plenty room to grow,” she smiled. “I’ve put on a few more the last few months as well.”
“So it really doesn’t bother you that I’m a bit of a fatty? Its not going to go away and could get worse, you know.”
“Why do you think I gave you the chocolates and had you out tonight? They were peace offerings. And if you notice I haven’t suggested cancelling Monday nights or the family dinners. I just want us to be honest in what we share together – no games.”
“Wow, OK, if you’re really not bothered by my little game then I guess I can move up what I was planning to do down the road. Would you like to have a cannoli dinner at my place tomorrow? I promise to eat my share as long as you do likewise.”
“Now you’re talking Morelli,” Joe replied. “Invitation accepted!”