BHM After Quarantine

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Ghostboo

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Joined
Oct 23, 2019
Messages
29
Location
Alaska
Chapter Ten - Sam

The next day, Sam found himself waiting at Pop’s for Frank and Joe, sitting in front of a literal pile of hamburgers. Trying uselessly to blink some of the sleep out of his eyes, Sam took a methodical bite of one of the sandwiches. He was in one of his larger pairs of Duluth jeans, and an old Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem t-shirt. Old enough that it struggled to fully contain all of his new girth. Sam found it hard to care.

Sam had told himself yesterday that he needed to sleep on it. And yet, despite only getting about 3 hours the night before, sleep wouldn’t come. There were snatches of cat naps throughout the night, but mostly Sam lay staring at the ceiling. He was hurt, and confused, and honestly at a loss for what to think. He needed to talk it through with the next best thing to River: her cousins, his oldest friends.

Frank and Joe entered not long after, casting an eye around and easily spotting Sam on his own in the chair next to the table. They arrived and slid into the booth side of the table - which would have been more of a squeeze for Sam that he was willing to try out - and watched him carefully. They didn’t know much, only the basics - Helen and Sam had broken up, it was tangentially related to River, and now River and Sam weren’t speaking.

“Hey, how you holding up?” Frank asked.

“Amazing,” Sam replied dryly. “These are celebration burgers.” He gestured at the ton of sandwiches in front of him, and his friends grinned. They didn’t make a move to get their own food. They would sometimes indulge in calorie-laden meal as a celebration post-game during their football leagues, but Frank and Joe worked hard for their muscular, lean bodies.

“Wanna tell us what happened?” Frank followed up, and Sam shrugged very slightly.

“When I helped River upstairs on Saturday, she...asked me to stay. And I ended up passing out. With her.” Joe groaned a little at this. Sam hurried to continue, “It wasn’t...I mean, I was sitting up in the bed, we were fully clothed, and everything...but...still not cool for Helen to walk in on. I get that. So she broke up with me. For that, on top of River being, y’know. River. To her all year.”

Frank raised his eyebrows a little in acknowledgement. Joe nodded. They understood what he meant.

“River came over after and I asked her what the hell she was thinking, you know? She’s so independent, why...and why couldn’t she try harder to get along with my partners? I mean, I know I haven’t had the best track record, but there was nothing wrong this go ‘round, right?”

Frank and Joe gave noncommittal shrugs.

“And…” Sam watched them carefully. “River told me that she’s in love with me.”

The effect was instant. Frank exhaled a clearly relieved “whew” while Joe gave an undertoned “yessss”. The brothers looked at each other, and it was clear they had to hold themselves back from high fiving.

“She finally told you,” Frank said, turning back to Sam.

“You guys knew,” Sam replied, cautiously. Frank nodded.

“It was like pulling teeth to get it out of her, let me tell you,” Joe added.

“But how...I had no idea! How did you figure it out?”

“You know that River wears her emotions on her sleeve. And there was no reason for the way she was looking at you and the rage she felt towards Helen, like you pointed out, besides that. It was an educated guess,” Frank said. Sam shook his head a little and took a few more bites of burger, finishing off one and starting on another. He was supposed to know her the best, and the idea had never even occurred to him. But he thought back to the intense, unreadable look he saw in River's eyes sometimes when she was looking at him, and at how he pushed down his own positive feelings that arose when that happened. Sam swallowed.

“What are you gonna do?” Frank asked.

“I don’t know! I...shit, I mean, Helen was just about the perfect girlfriend. But River’s my best friend, and...”

“And you had a huge thing for her for like...five years,” Joe retorted.

“I mean, yeah. But I put that away, ‘cause I figured I’d never have any chance! And now…” Sam trailed off, shoving more burger in his mouth in place of finishing his thought.

“Do you think that Helen is even...like...an option, still?” Joe asked. Sam nodded honestly. It didn’t feel done. It felt like an ultimatum.

“She was pretty clear. She’s not in my life as long as River is. If I...cut River out...and went back to talk to Helen...I think we’d probably get back together.”

“Is that what you want?” Frank asked, concerned. The brothers loved Sam unconditionally, but River was family. They were trying to be unbiased, but it was tricky. Sam felt his chest tighten horrifically at the thought. He couldn’t muster any response. “Well, don’t do anything that you aren’t absolutely certain of,” Frank continued.

“Thanks, Captain Obvious,” Joe said with an eye roll to his brother.

“I just mean...that would be quite the relationship to end if you wanted to continue with Helen. We support you no matter what, though. And if you did decide you wanted to give things a shot with River...well, we all know she isn’t exactly easy. It couldn’t just be on a lark.”

They all knew what he meant, and the unspoken implication hung in the air. By contrast, things with Helen were pretty easy. At least, they had been until that weekend. Sam nodded slowly.

“I know,” he said, taking another bite of his now nearly entirely demolished burger pile. He began to realize that his already far too snug shirt was riding up at the bottom of his round middle, and his attempts to tug it out, away from where it clung to him, and then down to cover himself were pretty fruitless. Blushing, Sam grabbed his jacket and buttoned the two bottom buttons, blocking the exposed area from view.

Would anyone believe for a second that this was happening to ME? Sam thought. He looked around Pop’s, and wondered if there was a single person would spot the fat guy stuffing himself with food and bursting out of his clothes and think to themselves, “Oh yeah, he DEFINITELY has two incredible women fighting over him right now.”

“I just need to get some sleep,” Sam said rubbing his hands over his eyes as he went to button up the rest of his jacket. He ignored the strain of the buttons on the widest part of his middle. I need a distraction, he thought. Then he remembered the DVD of World War Z he had resting on his end table. He’d never seen it, though he’d heard River’s rant about their abandonment of the original stories enough times. Maybe some zombies’ll help.
 

stevita

like the pancake
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
243
Location
Texas
I am loving the tension! Sam and River are both such well-developed characters. I love seeing that in fat-positive fiction. And it's great to read an engaging BHM story with drama that isn't just about the weight gain (although lbh, every description of Sam's body got me like heart eyes, mf! Totally wish I was River getting to fall asleep with him.) I want to see them get to be happy together, but at the same time I don't want this story to end!
 

Ghostboo

Active Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2019
Messages
29
Location
Alaska
Thanks for your kind words everyone! Sorry about the delay, I've been called back to work post-lockdown but still mid-rising-cases and it's been a tough adjustment. I do have the rest of this story mapped out, and I'll get back to putting it into words ASAP! Thanks for your patience :)
 

Ghostboo

Active Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2019
Messages
29
Location
Alaska
Chapter Eleven - River

The nation of brussel sprouts was waging war on the mashed potatoes. River slowly pushed the green veggies, normally some of her favorites, towards the flavorless white pile. Which might very well have been a delicious incarnation of mashed potatoes, but River had forced a few bites and tasted nothing, so she gave up. Maybe covering it with her brussel sprouts would at least make it look like she had eaten more. River kept her eyes glued to the self-made action on her plate, ignoring the family around her aside from occasional nods.

It had been three days since River left Sam’s apartment, and she hadn’t heard a word from him since. She assumed he had managed to reconcile with Helen without involving her.

Good for them, River automatically forced herself to think. But nothing could hide how sick she felt. Most of the last few days had involved being in the darkness in front of her TV, as she tried to find something that would make her feel better. So far, nothing had worked. She got through most of a season of 90 Day Fiance before realizing all it did was point out how even the weirdest people on the planet could find love, but not her. She survived on granola bars and flavored packets in her water.

That day, she’d received a text from Frank. Dinner tonight with the parents! Join us? River didn’t respond. Frank followed up: Everyone would love to see you! River gritted her teeth and responded: I can’t, y’all have fun. But not unexpectedly, Joe had jumped in next as the bad cop. River, if you don’t come over for dinner, we’re not going either. ‘Cause we’re gonna be at your apartment door banging all night. As long as it takes for you to come out. River glared ferociously at her phone, but there was no follow up that suggested it was a joke. She knew exactly how determined Joe could be, and eventually decided not to call his bluff.

Fine, ASSHOLES she’d sent in a group text to the two of them with gritted teeth. But don’t expect me to have a good time.

Wouldn’t dream of it
came Joe’s quick and undoubtedly smug reply.

Love you River! See you at 7. said Frank. River groaned and tossed her phone into a dark corner of her room.

Around 6:30, River mustered what felt like the last of her energy to drag herself to her closet. She grabbed an old dress, black and torn and decorated with stars and their various constellations. It was comfortable, both physically and mentally. Adding enough dry shampoo to hopefully transform from a drowned rat - boy, being a blonde is GREAT sometimes - River put on some mid-length black boots and headed out the door.

So now, here she was. Sitting at a large table in between her mom and her uncle, along with Frank and Joe and her aunt. Conversation had been lively enough, but more subdued than usual. River hadn’t contributed more than a couple words and a forced smile with the hugs at the beginning. She was brainstorming what to watch when she got home. Restarting Dead To Me? Something dark sounded good. Something she didn’t have to think too much about was good too. Hmm.

Suddenly, through River’s mind cut the abrasive sound of the doorbell followed by a couple brisk knocks.

“I’ll get it!” Joe practically flew out of his chair and towards the front door. River blinked. Did he - invite a girl to family dinner? Was she going to be expected to interact with a stranger now, too? Or...oh god...was it Iola? Sam’s sister was one of his more regular companions, and River brought her gaze from Joe’s now empty chair to Frank, hoping he’d meet her eyes and silently explain. Instead, Frank was determinedly staring at the opposite wall, chewing.

Before she really had any time to steel herself for the intruder, Joe reappeared - followed by Sam.

“Hey everybody,” Sam said as he entered, giving the room a broad grin. River, to her extreme embarrassment, actually physically jumped in her chair at the sound of his voice. All her relatives were of a slight build, so especially with them all sitting, Sam cut an impressively large figure in the room.

“Sam! Hello! Please join us,” Mary, River’s aunt and Frank and Joe’s mother, replied. The whole family adored Sam, and considered him a welcome part of the extended family.

“Oh, thank you,” Sam said, casting his eyes down at his shoes. It read to River as nervous, although no one else seemed to notice. “But I can’t stay long - I was just hoping to talk to River for a sec?”

River’s ears immediately filled with a roar and then the sound of her now frantically intensified heartbeat. She felt herself getting out of her chair, and realized she was nodding as well. Autopilot is a wonderful thing.

“I don’t know, River might be too hungry to tear herself away,” her uncle chuckled at his own dad joke, referring to her still nearly entirely full plate. Mary swatted playfully at him.

“Sure thing,” she said, at the same time as her sister, River’s adoptive mother, spoke up.

“Now, Samuel? It can’t wait?”

“Aunt Rose,” Frank muttered from the seat next to her, shaking his head. Rose turned her stern gaze to Frank in surprise, then relented.

“Alright then. Come back soon,” she directed at the pair. River hoped her shivering wasn’t obvious as she nodded again and then stepped into the living room.

“I thought…?” Sam gestured upstairs towards her old bedroom once they were out of the kitchen. River nodded again and let the way up the stairs, her arms wrapped so her hands were holding the opposite elbows. Her mind, which had been in a fog for the last who knows how long, was suddenly whirring a mile a minute.

He’s here to tell me that it’s back on with Helen and I’m out of his life. Officially.

Oh god why didn’t I at least TRY to shower today

What is there for me here if not him?

It’s fine it’s fine he deserves something good and simple and pretty and fuck me, FUCK


Once inside the small room, River turned to face Sam as he closed the door. She felt like her green eyes were as big as saucers. She took in all of him, noting the new jeans and new Duluth fleece, which was partially buttoned - just over the widest part of his middle, and open at the top. It must have been hard to find an undershirt that fit. The nervous energy she had seen at dinner was amplified while they were alone.

“I don’t have long, but I wanted to - well -” Sam started after a deep breath, seeming to search for where he wanted to go next. River felt her skin reverberating harder. Finally, Sam chuckled out an exhale and went on, “mostly I wanted to see if you were free for dinner tomorrow?”

River met Sam’s deep brown eyes, and nodded, slowly. She wasn’t sure what to think. Sam’s face broke into another of his positively swoon-worthy grins.

“Great!” He took a step closer to her. “It’s a date.”

The shaking stopped. River blinked a couple times and looked at Sam curiously. It’s...wait, what? She realized slowly that Sam hadn’t just stated it, there had been a slight upturn into a question. He was looking at her hopefully.

“It’s a…” River echoed instead. She released her arms as one hand found its way up to her mouth, covering it briefly in shock and wonder. “It’s...yes. Yeah. It’s a date.” Sam’s grin broadened in relief, stepping forward to take her hand.

“I’ll pick you up at 6:30?”

“Sure,” River responded. Her hand where Sam held it felt like it was on fire. After a gentle squeeze, Sam released it and turned to leave.

“I’ll see you tomorrow kid,” he said softly, meeting her wide green eyes with his again before heading out the door. He left it open, and River, frozen in her room, could hear him talking to her mother.

“Samuel, don’t be silly, I know you can’t resist my cooking. Here, at least take a plate home.”

“Okay okay, Aunt Rose. If you insist,” came the reply, tinged with embarrassment. Not long after, the front door shut, and River slowly made her way downstairs. Her eyes were glued to the front door in wonder.

“Hey, you good?” Joe asked tentatively as he and Frank made their way into the living room with her. River slowly turned her gaze towards them.

“I think I have a date tomorrow.”
 
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Ghostboo

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Oct 23, 2019
Messages
29
Location
Alaska
Chapter Twelve - Sam

Waking up the next morning, Sam resisted his urge to text River pre-date and instead busied himself with the farm chores. He was excited and terrified, and talking it out with Frank and Joe only released a fraction of the nerves. He wanted to go over it all with his best friend - but unfortunately, she was the source of it all.

Still, he couldn’t wait.

Around mid-afternoon Sam finished up his portion of the farm work, and took a long, hot shower. He was picking River up in only a few hours, and it was time for the part he was dreading: picking an outfit. The reservation he’d made wasn’t for anything overwhelmingly fancy, it was an Asian fusion place a couple towns over, but he still wanted to look good.

Unfortunately, most of what fit him, River had already seen quite a few times recently. The new pair of slacks and the button-ups had made appearances mainly when Sam saw River with his now ex-girlfriend. He didn’t want to bring up bad memories. So, Sam began to comb through his closet with even more determination than he had immediately post-vaccine.

Pulling out a few sharp-looking options, Sam laid them on his bed and then turned towards his full-length mirror. No more hiding, no more half-glances. He exhaled hard at the sight of his undeniably fat reflection, clad at this point only in boxer briefs that hugged his thick, muscular thighs. On instinct, Sam sucked in his middle, easily his most prominent feature, to try and decrease its size and round shape. He couldn’t see a difference from the front, so he turned carefully side to side. There, Sam saw a small but still present drawing in near his widest part as he sucked in. Exhaling slowly, Sam’s left hand drew up to where his belly hung over his shorts, rubbing near his belly button with his thumb. His middle was soft and warm, but undoubtedly larger than he (and many women) preferred. He felt a slight ache of disappointment, but used it to turn his attention to his clothes, hoping to find something to at least somewhat diminish his size.

Sticking to his new slacks, Sam cycled through different tops that had made him feel especially handsome in the past. But nothing drew attention from his soft, wide middle. No matter which way he turned, how he layered, or how much he sucked it in, his gut felt fully on display. Material clinging to every embarrassing roll. Getting more desperate, Sam even tried a black button-up from college, but found it strained around his chest, and impossible to button once it reached his belly. Unbuttoning the top slowly, Sam couldn’t help but utter a groan before collapsing on his bed. As he stared up at the ceiling, he suddenly heard a knock.

“You okay, big brother?” Iola asked from the doorway. Sam realized too late that he had left the door into his family’s part of the house partially open, and she would’ve been able to see him from where she was standing. Blushing, Sam sat upright, and tried to tug the black shirt closed around him. Oh, yeah. Nope. That’s not gonna happen.

“How long were you standing there, Iola?” He asked, a nervous yet resigned tinge to his voice letting her know that he was prepared for the worst.

“Long enough,” she offered the cliche but still accurate reply as she came in and spied all the other clothes surrounding Sam. “Need help?”

“Yeah,” Sam said. “Do you happen to know how to lose 50 pounds in a couple of hours?”

Iola laughed, then looked at her brother. She was clearly thinking hard about something. Finally, she sighed as she sat next to him on the bed and said, “Sam...I don’t know how to say this nicely, so I’m just gonna say it.”

“Oh...kay…” Sam said, looking at his sister - a mirror of wavy chestnut hair, brown eyes, and freckles, but less than even half his size.

“River knows you’re fat,” Iola stated, meeting her brother’s eyes until he blushed and looked away. “You’ve been friends for however many years - and she’s not blind. Clearly, she has strong feelings for you anyway. You don’t need to worry about disguising your size, or anything overly flattering - just wear what makes you feel good.”

Sam was momentarily speechless with embarrassment, but deep down, he knew Iola’s logic was sound. He nodded slowly.

“Yeah...yeah. You’re right, sis. Thanks. I was getting a little...fixated on that.”

“I figured,” Iola said, smirking at her brother. “I know new relationships are scary, but try and have fun. Changing in two hours is out of your control, and anyway, I’m not so sure she wants you to.” With that, Iola patted her much larger brother on the upper arm, got up, and left his room.

Taking an even deeper breath, trying to center himself, Sam looked back at the clothes on his bed with fresh eyes.
 
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Mr. Jigglesworth

A true Meatierologist.
Joined
Oct 15, 2005
Messages
370
Location
Orlando, Fla.
Great story, but with all the back & forth about Helen, could we see how River & Sam do together? If she not only accepts him, but feeds him.
 

Ghostboo

Active Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2019
Messages
29
Location
Alaska
Great story, but with all the back & forth about Helen, could we see how River & Sam do together? If she not only accepts him, but feeds him.
I am planning to continue the story for awhile, but fair warning so you're not disappointed - it's gonna be pretty vanilla, overall. No feeders. But I promise I'll still try to make it good and fun!
 

Ghostboo

Active Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2019
Messages
29
Location
Alaska
Chapter Thirteen

Sam eventually decided on a deep blue sweater underneath a black blazer. Both were slightly older garments (the blazer had long ago stopped being able to button across his middle), but Sam felt good in them. Did he look magically slimmer, with attention drawn completely away from his belly and towards his more mainstream attractive features like his smile, his ass, his hair, etc.? No, of course not. But he wasn’t going to fool his closest friend of a decade, anyway.

Nerves and joy permeated just about every inch of Sam as he drove to River’s apartment to pick her up. He may have taken a few days to be sure, but Sam had known the right move pretty damn quick after we last checked in with him. Following his lunch with Frank and Joe at Pop’s, Sam had finally gotten himself to sleep mid-World War Z screening. He was out for nearly 12 hours. When he awoke, it was with a sense of perfect clarity. He wanted River there. He wanted to watch the movie with her. And it’s not that he didn’t care for Helen - he did, and it was true that she was the perfect girlfriend on paper. But he didn’t want to go back to a relationship where they never talked about their true feelings, where by the end of only three months in lockdown they were bored with each other, and most importantly: where he couldn’t have River in his life to the extent he wanted. He had buried, but not extinguished, the romantic feelings he’d had for her from the moment she walked into his life. They were fully surfaced now, and he felt (metaphorically) lighter already.

Inside her apartment, River paced back and forth. Her nerves had pushed her to get ready early, and now all there was to do was think. River’s outfit had given her much grief to decide on, but eventually she went with a new online purchase from mid-quarantine. It was a navy blue dress decorated with deep pink designs of different elaborate ships. It was snug, and River didn’t have many curves to show for her time in isolation, but adding a push-up bra made her feel OK. Her hair, having been washed the day before, was lightly curled and pinned back. Her makeup was simple, as almost always - River felt like a clown if she tried to put on eyeshadow any darker than a light brown. Sticking to mascara and a lip color to match her dress designs, her features were enhanced, not overwhelmed.

But she was overwhelmed. As the knock came at her front door, River tore it open with the same intensity she’d had their first meeting after quarantine, grabbed Sam’s arm, and pulled him inside.

“Oh! Hey,” Sam laughed, taking in the sight of his date. She looked incredible, but also on edge. “You doing okay, kid?”

“I’m terrified,” River replied honestly, even as she nodded.

“Yeah?” Sam took a couple steps further into River’s apartment, then turned to look at her with concern in his brown eyes. He was nervous, but wasn’t sure he wanted to take out a date that would classifying themselves as terrified. “Want to tell me about it?”

“Yeah, I…” despite all her thinking, River found herself tripping over her words. She hadn’t put them all together cohesively yet. “It’s...this last year, I’ve felt like I lost you. It was...a nightmare. And my fault! Because of my feelings for you. And now I’m scared that...well, luck has never been my strong suit. What if this doesn’t work? And then I lose you again? But...completely, this time?”

Sam didn’t respond immediately, taking this into consideration. He got where she was coming from, and didn’t want to speak inauthentically.

“River…you’re the most important person to me. You always have been. Even when I thought I had no shot in hell with you. Even when I made questionable dating choices. Or reasonable dating choices that you treated as outrageous,” he said, a little wryly. River blushed, unable to argue. “Obviously, I can’t promise anything. That it’s all going to work great, guaranteed. That we can handle whatever gets thrown at us. I do believe it, but...nothing is for sure. But I do know that I’ll do whatever it takes to keep you in my life. Platonically, if that’s what’s best, but if we’re both feeling these things…” he trailed off a little, realizing they had ended up much closer together than they had started. His expansive stomach was just about to brush against River, looking up at him with wide green eyes. “I think we owe it to ourselves to give it a shot,” he concluded, his voice suddenly much quieter.

It would be impossible to say for certain whether Sam or River initiated that first kiss. If it’s possible to be in unison outside of directors shouting “action”, this certainly was. Sam’s heart was hammering out of his chest, soaring at the feeling of River’s enthusiastic attention and simultaneously (somehow) sinking as his soft belly pressed into her lean form. River had pushed thoughts about Sam in this situation to the side for so long, but being on the receiving end of his soft lips and skill confirmed exactly what she expected when she stole a secret glance or two over the last year. One arm wrapped up and around his shoulder, the other settled lightly on a thick love handle.

At this, Sam stopped to come up for air, the blush on his face starting to match the deep red highlights in his hair. He took a tentative step back, eyes on River, who was nodding.

“Well, okay,” she said, uttering a little cough and then a laugh. “That’s...a good sign.” Sam’s concern turned to a grin at his date.

“Not so dead on arrival?”

“Not even close. Let’s go to dinner.”
 
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Ghostboo

Active Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2019
Messages
29
Location
Alaska
Sam’s blush hadn’t quite gone away by the time they got settled in the car. For one, as River had asserted it was time to go to dinner, she’d flirtatiously tugged on the sides of his suit jacket. And it was pretty obvious from that movement just how far from buttoning the article of clothing was. Her eyes had flicked down, then back up, a new and slightly teasing look in her eyes. Sam had hurried her out the door without addressing it, opening the car door for her on the passenger side, then crossing to the driver’s side. Of course, then she had a front row view for how awkwardly Sam needed to contort to fit his bulk into the car. Not exactly how he’d wanted to start out, incredible kiss aside.

As he pulled the little sedan out of the apartment’s parking lot, Sam spoke on what had been weighing on his mind. “River, I need to apologize.”

River turned her gaze from looking out the window towards Sam. Her head was slightly tilted.

“When you came over, after Helen and I broke up, and I snapped at you...that wasn’t acceptable. It wasn’t actually your fault. I was lashing out. It won’t happen again.”

“I know,” River replied. “I understand.” She began fiddling with the radio, changing it from Sam’s standard oldies to a local alt-rock station. Sam smiled a little, and turned his attention back to the road. “Where are we going, by the way?”

“Dish,” Sam replied, referencing a fusion restaurant a couple towns over. It was about a 20 minute drive without traffic.

“Ah,” River said, knowingly. “Keeping us out of the Bayview eye?”

Sam’s blush returned, and he knew he shouldn’t have counted on River letting it slide. There weren’t many, but Bayview did have at least a couple first-date-worthy restaurants in town limits. But...it also inevitably had people they knew there. People who talked.

“I’m sorry, I just thought...” Sam began, but River cut him off.

“You don’t need to apologize. I get it. You and Helen just broke up. No need to make anything harder than it needs to be by flaunting around town,” River said, offering Sam’s thick right leg a squeeze. “Besides, I like Asian fusion.”

“And I...like everything,” Sam chimed in with some relief. River grinned.

“Oh, I know.”
 
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Ghostboo

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Oct 23, 2019
Messages
29
Location
Alaska
Chapter Fourteen

Just in time for the 7pm reservation, Sam and River entered the restaurant. It was large and U-shaped, with one side of the U featuring the bar and casual open seating, and the other side with the more traditional restaurant setup. The host stand was at the bottom of the U, where Sam and River checked in.

“Yes, I see. Right this way,” said the young blonde host, picking up the menus and starting into the restaurant section. Sam and River followed, until the host stopped in front of one of the booths in the back.

“No chance of one of the tables?” Sam blurted before he could think and stop himself. The host’s brow furrowed a little. They hadn’t looked like high maintenance guests.

“No...the tables are for walk-ins, the booths are for reservations. They’re...usually more popular,” she replied, looking confused.

“That’s okay,” Sam reassured. The host smiled tightly before putting the menus down on their booth’s table.

“Enjoy your meal,” she said as she strode away.

Now, to help you understand Sam’s concern, the restaurant side of the “U” had two seating options. Some normal table-and-chair setups in the middle of the room, and on the sides, booths. But these booths are built a little strangely, compared to your average restaurant booth. Each back-to-back booth is separated by a thick, floor-to-ceiling square pillar attached on the outside, painted black. It was a pretty aesthetic, and helped with the idea of privacy, but what it meant was that the opening to get into the booth was even narrower than the gap between the table and booth back inside. Normal booths you can easily sit and scoot in, but not so much with these.

River got seated no problem, then looked up at Sam.

“You sure?” She asked.

“Yeah, no problem,” Sam said, with more confidence than he felt. River picked up a menu, and Sam, after a brief hesitation, began his squeeze into the booth. He considered squatting down and trying to force his middle between the pillar and the table, so that once he got through he’d be in the perfect seated position, but he knew that’d look ridiculous. Instead, he shuffled himself in so that his thighs were what passed between the pillar and table. No problems there, he had thick thighs but not that thick.

The issue was when Sam went to sit down. Trying not to think too much about it, he started to slide down into the booth, but was quickly rejected as the underside of his round middle bounced off the top of the table. Keeping his reaction sigh as quiet as possible, Sam tried again, this time much slower. Taking a deep breath as his belly neared the table, Sam felt himself begin to bunch up yet again, even while sucking it in. Looking down, he saw only his girth well in front of the edge of the table.

One hand at the end of the (unfortunately bolted to the floor) table, Sam used his other hand to begin to physically force the bottom of his stomach in. It took a second, but between his fervent sucking in and the pressure of his hand, Sam’s thick belly began to slip down between the booth and table. It was lucky he was as malleable as he was, with his well worked muscles hidden beneath layers of soft fat.

Finally, after the thickest part of his waist entered the space under the table, Sam let out a relieved breath and sat down fully. The table was pressing lightly into the upper part of his belly, but it wasn’t too uncomfortable. River, to her credit, had spent this time with her head determinedly stuck in the menu. But her tense energy conveyed that she was, at least, tentatively aware of what was going on.

“What looks good?” Sam asked, grabbing the other menu as he watched his date nervously. River looked up and smiled at him.

“All of it, honestly,” she replied.

“My favorite,” he said. On impulse, he reached across the table and took her free hand. River’s smile grew wider and she squeezed it. “Let’s go crazy.”
 
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Ghostboo

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Oct 23, 2019
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Location
Alaska
Chapter Fifteen

They ended up ordering whatever whim occurred to them. Since the restaurant was more on the upscale side, the portions weren’t huge anyway. Or at least, that was the excuse Sam silently gave to himself as he ordered another round of crispy shoestring french fries with spicy ketchup. If there was anything River hesitated on, he went ahead and ordered it.

“Only if you let me pay for half,” River said, narrowing her eyes at him.

“Absolutely not,” Sam replied. “For one, three months in quarantine without being able to buy much of anything has me in a good place. For another, you’d only be eating about an eighth of this if it were just you, so paying for half is out of the question.”

River rolled her eyes. “Okay, very logical. I’ll get the next time.”

“An eighth of it, maybe,” Sam replied airily, taking a bit of a fried spring roll then half-smiling at her.

“I plan to revisit negotiations at a later date, but for now…” River indulged in a nearby shrimp dumpling. “Fine.”

After the smaller appetizers came their mains, and Sam had to eat his words about the portions. River’s seafood macaroni and cheese was in a bowl bigger than her head, and Sam’s beef curry was as well. He was about halfway through the dish when he caught himself squirming slightly in his seat. The pressure about his middle had increased as he ate, and the table pressing into him was now bordering on uncomfortable.

“Want to help me?” River asked, having eaten only about ¼ of her bowl of mac and cheese. “This isn’t going to keep well, I don’t think.”

Sam hesitated. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, at least try it,” River said, pushing her bowl over. Sam eyed the remaining ⅓ of his beef curry, then pushed it to the side. River didn’t eat beef, and it would probably keep better than the mac and cheese. Might as well.

It was delicious, creamy and full of seafood flavor. Sam had eaten most of it before he really thought twice.

“Did you end up getting a chance to watch World War Z?” River asked.

“Some of it. It was actually the only thing that helped me sleep,” Sam admitted, taking another cheesy bite. “I wanted...to watch the rest with you.”

River played with a french fry, smiling down at it. “I’d like that. But then you do have to read the book, to know what it’s being compared to.”

“Can’t you just read it to me?” Sam asked, after making a slight face. To be honest, he hadn’t done much reading since high school. And the thought of being read to by River wasn’t exactly an unpleasant one. Relaxing on his bed, her head on his soft stomach, her comforting speaking voice filling the room…

“Still lazy to the core, I see,” River laughed slightly.

“Just energy efficient,” Sam shrugged, finishing off the bowl of mac and cheese in front of him. He took the completion as an opportunity to lean back, at which point he began to realize his potential mistake. He had spent much of the meal leaning in to his date, speaking and sharing food. There had been some - though not much - wiggle room with the gap between the back of the booth and the table. Now, though, that was swallowed up by his very full stomach. The tightness was emphasized by his new posture, the top of his middle puffing out quite a bit more than it had at the start of the meal. River’s eyes were automatically drawn to it, and Sam made an attempt at sucking in again as he adjusted to crossing his arms on the table in front of him.

“Want to share a dessert?” River asked, grinning at him a little cheekily. They’d been at the restaurant well over an hour by this time, and it was starting to pretty thoroughly empty out. The sleepier seaside towns of the East Coast didn’t attract many night lifers.

“Really?” Sam asked, a bit incredulously. River shrugged.

“Science shows stomachs will always expand for sweets. You know I can’t say no to chocolate.”

“Are you sure, kid? ‘Cause it looks like you did a lot of resisting in quarantine,” Sam said. He regretted it when he saw River flushing red. She had kept quiet about his own body changes over the last few months until asked, why couldn’t he have done the same?

“Yeah,” River said, a little quieter than usual. She was unhappy that Sam had noticed. She preferred when her chest and hips had softness to them, and was embarrassed that she had gotten so bare-bones thin during a hard time. Still, she got him back with a slightly louder, teasing, “But I guess you balanced me out, huh?”

Sam laughed. “That’s true. I’m in no position to judge...anyone. Not that I’m judging! You look amazing,” he hurriedly corrected. River shrugged again, blushing harder.

“I’ll balance us with the judging,” she teased. It was Sam’s turn to blush a little as he took a french fry out of habit.

What are you doing! You’re full! His inner voice scolded. It’s just one fry, he shot back silently, focusing on River before the voice could set him straight that it obviously WASN’T EVER “just one fry.”

“Dessert?” Their waiter had returned with a menu in hand. Before Sam could rethink his answer, River had nodded enthusiastically and taken the list of desserts.

“I really am trying to get back into eating...well, more,” River said to Sam as she cast an eye over it after the waiter left. “At least more regularly.”

Sam wondered if he should offer an assurance about his own eating habits. But nothing honest came to mind. He liked to eat, and unless it seemed to present a genuine obstacle in this relationship, he wasn’t like to change. So far...so good? Maybe? Assuming her remarks about judging had actually been a joke and not a hint.

“Happy to help,” he offered, grinning as he held out a hand to look over the menu after she was done.

“It’s gonna be the lava cake, no question,” River said assertively as she handed it over. Sam laughed. He would have preferred the creme brulee - maybe we could get both…? NO. No. Come on. You’ll eat most of each, you know that. Just...settle. At least for the first date. - but of course he'd happily eat whatever was put in front of him.

“Looks good.”
 
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