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Available in all Sizes - by agouderia (~FFA, ~BHM, Drama)

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loopytheone

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~FFA, ~BHM, Drama - A pushy FFA and a inhibited BHM are unable to synchronize their intentions in the fashion world

Available in all Sizes
by agouderia​

Part 1 – Arts-Loi/Kunst-Wet

Antonia briskly changed metro lines at Arts-Loi/Kunst-Wet on her regular way to the office in Brussels, her mind on the tumultuous business developments at ‘signC’, an American up market fashion brand that had lately merged with two British brands and was struggling to establish itself on the European continent.

Checking her blackberry for news, she turned the corner only to have somebody bump into her - the next thing she realized was that her new Italian suit had coffee all over it: “Merde!” to only get a stream of expletives in British English as a response: “Bl**** f***ing hell! F***, f***, f***!”

In the last second before some very snide remarks left the tip of her tongue, Antonia cut them off as she took a closer look at the offender: He was roughly her own age with an adorably plump face, a mop of soft brown hair and honestly almost green eyes. As he raised himself, she noticed he was quite tall, broad with a nice round belly pushing out of his coat. Instantly melting, this was exactly her kind of guy, Antonia automatically switched to flirt mode, saying in mock reproach: “Now, now … those are 4-letter words. Good boys don’t use them, especially not in front of ladies!”

He blushed dark red, but asked with a microscopic grin. “How do you know I’m a good boy?”

“You definitely look more like a good boy than a bad boy – trust me, I’ve learned to tell the difference! Right now you’re only being naughty, spilling coffee on strange ladies and using 4-letter words!” Antonia winked.

“Oh f***, no sorry, you speak American English, I have to watch my language,” he went on. “I’m so clumsy, I ruined your nice suit, my sincere apologies. I’ll reimburse you for the damage – be it dry cleaning or a new suit. I don’t have my new business cards yet – so please take a picture of my passport to confirm my identity? I’ll give you my mobile number so we can solve everything.”

Antonia looked at him in surprise, but actually did take a picture with her blackberry: “Oh, a true British gentleman! Why do you think you have to watch your language because I speak American English …. Mr. … - double checking the name on the passport - Watherwood?”

“Please … Philip is fine. You’re…?”

“Antonia …. Antonia Langley. Nice meeting you Philip – even though it would have been nicer over coffee that had stayed in its cups. Here’s my card. Now about the language … you still haven’t answered my question…”

“Well, you Yankees are known to be prudish as far as that’s concerned …” Philip showed a reluctant grin blushing even deeper.

“We can discuss more in depth how prudish I am when we get together to deal with the damages,” Antonia winked at him. “By the way, I’m only half American – the other half is probably even worse in your British eyes! But now I have to run, otherwise I’ll be too late for an important meeting. See you soon!”

“With pleasure. Again, please accept my apologies!” Philip smiled shyly at her.

At least her suit had been ruined by a guy who was worth bumping into, Antonia thought, giving her a good reason for getting back in touch with him. Now she needed a new, clean outfit from Saskia at “signC”; maybe it was even better if she wore their own design when being introduced to the new CEO and his team. But she would have to hurry to get that done.

Dumping everything on her desk, she hurried over to Saskia Wissemaar, their young Dutch designer who was busy re-vamping the women’s clothing line for the European market. “Saskia cherie, quick – I need a clean, cutting-edge outfit for meeting our new CEO. A cute Brit poured coffee all over me at Arts-Loi!”

Very slim, almost mousy and exceedingly shy, Saskia emerged from behind a few clothes racks with some fabric samples in her hands. “Let’s go over to the presentation salon – I have two new outfits ready that would be great for you. Very forward thinking of you to insist we have a sample of all sizes we offer from US 0/UK 4 to US 16/UK20 at hand.”

“I’m not going to apologize for being 5’9’/1.75 and wearing a size US 10/UK14 – that’s totally normal for someone my height!” Antonia said pulling off her jacket. “This fully stocked presentation salon is bringing so much interest and business – I know of 7 contracts so far we got because either the buyers or their spouses could actually try on some of our designs in their size, see how good they feel in the great work you do – even take them home with them,” she smiled at Saskia, who blushed hiding behind her curtain of limp blonde hair. “I was actually interested in trying that dress belonging to the 3 piece of suit& dress in grey with purple and pine green threads; that would match the gray pumps I’m wearing …”

“Here it is,” Saskia pulled it off the rack. “You shouldn’t wear it with the matching jacket, that’s a bit too conservative. I have this short dull purple leather jacket as a new design sample… that would upgrade the entire outfit.”

“Ooooh, gorgeous Saskia! You know how I love purple! Too bad … I have the perfect matching purple high heels at home for this outfit,” Antonia slipped on the cloths in delight.

“Purple brings out your grey eyes beautifully,” Saskia surveyed her plucking everything in place, as Jan, ‘signC’ spokesperson and Antonia’s deputy stuck her head through the door: “Here you are! Hurry up you two– Craig has arrived!”

Antonia sped by her office, brushed her hair, applied more lip gloss then assembled with all her colleagues down in the small lobby. She was dying of curiosity what the new CEO was going to be like – his predecessor had been a true disaster: Angel Perdoso, a Latin male as attractive as his name insinuated, but the business brains of a pea as well as a knack for disastrous office politics constantly letting his turbulent bi-sexual love life interfere with business decisions. His only noteworthy, half-way useful talent had been holding motivating, witty public speeches; in the end he had been fired for going over budget and putting a number of oddities on expenses.

The meeting room door opened, out stepped Craig Richardson, ‘signC’s lanky, relaxed and perpetually ill-fittingly dressed CEO of global operations followed by a slight, elder grey-haired man and a younger, taller, seriously broad man in a dark, conservative suit – Antonia felt her jaw drop as she recognized Philip Watherwood, now without overcoat and coffee cup. He looked around the circle of people searchingly, saw Antonia locked eyes giving her a small, rueful smile.

“So, meet the team of ‘signC’ Europe,” Craig Richardson said. “May I introduce our new CEO, Philip Watherwood. So far he has headed the finance department of our main shareholder, Green*Star investments. Now he will make sure our entry into the continental European market proceeds much more smoothly than it has so far. He will be assisted by Jean-Luc Perreau who is in charge of HR as well as distribution and production.
Now Philip, Jean-Luc let me introduce you to everybody: First Franck Gordon, our head designer with his team, notably Saskia Wissemaar who is responsible for the women’s line.”

Antonia saw Franck smirk and role his eyes as he shook hands with Philip Watherwood, while Saskia immediately hid behind Jan again after she had barely touched his hand.

“Baas Geerts who is in charge of finances,” Craig continued, “Antonia Langley, marketing and communications. We merged the two departments since Antonia not only is a communications specialist, but also a true expert on the entrails of the Single European Market and the various country specifics. It doesn’t do any harm that she’s fluent in the EU’s four big languages. Having good, hard-headed American common sense on top of that is an extra bonus, as you will notice. You’ll also find a lot of the latter in Jan Davenport, her deputy and our spokeswoman. You can rely on both of them.”

Antonia blushed lightly. “Thank you so much Craig. Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Watherwood,” she smilingly stretched out her hand.

Philip smiled too and shook her hand. “Highly improved circumstances for meeting you, Antonia Langley …. Ms. Davenport.”

As customary, Philip gave a short introductory speech concentrating on the importance of meeting their business objectives; not as entertaining as Angel Perdoso’s Spanglish, but it showed he had a lot of business sense and already had put some work into familiarizing himself with ‘signC’. Antonia noticed he used her as his point of reference in the audience so she happily complied, smiling reassuringly or giving him short nods since this allowed her to leisurely give him a thorough once over.

He was a big guy, a little over average height, around 1.86m/6’1’ in a dark, well tailored suit obviously aiming at visually minimizing his size: Antonia could make out powerful shoulders, around his middle there was a substantial belly defying some of the camouflaging efforts as well as probably a backside nicely balancing it out in size, making him overall heavy and well proportioned. Philip’s very regular facial features formed a rather stark contrast to his massive physique – his round face was boyish with rosy cheeks, a little double-chin, the soft, wavy, slightly tousled hair and those startling, light green eyes with very long lashes, giving him an innocent appeal, making him look much more vulnerable than his powerful bulk suggested.

A polite round of applause told Antonia that Philip had finished and she had to end her visual appraisal. “Thank you everybody for welcoming Philip Watherwood,” Craig ended the introductory session, “Will the heads of department please meet in 10 minutes in our main meeting room.”

“Do I really have to come?” Saskia asked Antonia uneasily.

“Since Craig explicitly said only heads of department, that technically means only Franck, Baas, this Jean-Luc guy, me and probably Jan as spokeswoman,” Antonia looked thoughtful. “If you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t need to come. But give me your updated presentation materials – just in case I have to make sure Franck doesn’t go around telling a lot of bull-shit about your work!”

She picked up some her own files before heading to the meeting room with Jan, where Franck, his design assistant Guy, and Baas from finances with his accountant Urs had already assembled. Franck, a vain, megalomaniac, self-styled Scotsman with French roots – though Antonia suspected he really was from some dead-boring industrial dump just south of the Scottish border – was openly bitching against the new management. “I can’t believe it! What the bl***y hell is our investor thinking? Replacing someone as truly angelic as Angel, who was the epitome of a fashion company CEO with this 30 stone whale?”

A powerful sting of acrimony made Antonia immediately shoot back at him, “Discovered a new species now, have you? A stone whale? That’s definitely not on the CITES list!”

Franck’s assistant Guy snickered. “It’s not a new breed of whale – it’s a whale that weighs 30 Imperial stone!”

“Oh, thank you for reminding me you people once had an empire,” Antonia replied sarcastically, “and for using a unit of measure I choose to ignore since it makes medieval bazaar dealings look progressive. Please enlighten those of us who have undergone some civilisatory evolution since Stonehenge was built what 30stone would translate to in a 21st century unit of measurement?”

Guy looked at her dumbfounded so Jan said. “One stone equals 7 kilogram.”

“So 30 stone would be 210 kilograms (465 lbs.),” Antonia groaned rolling her eyes. “Christ Franck, no wonder your fashion samples never fit anyone! That estimate of yours is way too high - it’s about 40% off!”

Franck airily huffed it off. “Whatever, Watherwood is way too fat to represent fashion! How embarrassing will it be to have him open one of our flagship stores? It’ll look like we’re a tent manufacturer!”

Antonia retorted heavy with irony. “I always thought you insisted on opening all stores yourself? Give Philip Watherwood a chance, his business ideas sounded very well thought out…”

Just then the sliding doors to the small guest office opened, Craig Richardson and Philip Watherwood stepped in; it was obvious from their look that they had heard the essence of the previous exchange – Craig’s brows were thunderous while Philip’s chubby cheeks were bright pink and his expression was frozen.

Antonia flushed in embarrassment as Craig said quietly authoritative. “This meeting is for heads of department only,” making Urs leave immediately and Guy after some grumbling follow him. Craig chaired the meeting, asking for a short report on current developments from all departments while Antonia was baffled that Philip did not say anything, ask any questions but just took notes in stony-faced silence while Franck was completely unabashed by his gaffe going on endlessly in a vain presentation of some random new design ideas.

After the meeting Jan joined Antonia in her office with two coffees smirking. “So, you think our new boss weighs 130 kg (285 lbs)? What’s your take on him otherwise?”

Antonia hid her face in putting some files away. “I never said that.”

“Well, that’s the result of your setting Franck’s estimate right!” Jan giggled. “I know you’re an expert on big boy calculations. He’s honestly good looking in a sort of teddy bear way, too.”

“At least he seems to know a lot more about calculations than Angel did – after today Franck will clearly not have his ear, that’s good news,” Antonia tried to give the issue a different spin as Saskia entered with Antonia’s soiled suit. “Antonia – I’m giving this to our specialized dry cleaner in Antwerp, okay? If they can’t get the coffee stains out, I think I have a solution of camouflaging it with some weaving embroidery I’m experimenting with.”

“Oh, now tell me about the guy who spilled coffee all over you this morning,” Jan instantly went for this diversion. “Are you going to call him or wait till he calls? Do you want to meet him again?”

“Thanks a million Saskia that sounds great!” Antonia sighed, “I’ve already met him again - it’s Philip Watherwood.”


Antonia spent all evening musing how she felt about Philip Watherwood being her new boss. Sure, his considerable plumpness strongly appealed to her; he seemed nice, had common sense and she was pretty sure they would be able to work well together. On the other hand, she had initially thought of him, just from the visuals and his reactions to her flirting as maybe potential friend- or relationship material – that could be difficult to reconcile with office politics. The Angel, Franck, Guy, Baas on-off rectangle had wrecked enough havoc in every respect.

Nevertheless, she looked forward to going to the office the next day more than ever taking special care to dress nicely. To her disappointment, she did not see much of him for the next two days because he was constantly in meetings with the investors or other finance people. It was not until Philip’s Watherwood’s third day at ‘signC’ that his assistant, calm, efficient Czech-Belgian Joanna came to Antonia’s office with a small tray featuring a large cappuccino and an envelope.

“What’s that? I never say no to a cappuccino, why are you bringing it, Joanna? What’s in the envelope? Am I fired?” Antonia asked, eyeing the envelope.

“With best greetings from Mr. Watherwood,” Joanna replied. “I don’t know what’s in the envelope, but from what I’ve heard from Watherwood and Richardson, you would be the last one they would fire!”

Antonia opened the envelope in wide-eyed amazement looking at a gift certificate for “1 business suit” from the Italian boutique her suit had been from. “Is Mr. Watherwood available?” she asked.

“He’s in a phone conference right now, but you can come over in 20 minutes,” Joanna looked at Antonia in curiosity. “What was in the envelope?”

“Uumm …. something about return shipments,” Antonia mumbled, still staring at the gift certificate in awe, completely at a loss of how to react. To check on the actual damage, she went over to Saskia, who confirmed that a few small coffee stains had remained but she was doing a cover up design to hide them making the suit as good as new.

Antonia was nervous as she was shown into Philip Watherwood’s office; he was still on the phone but waved her to sit down on the sofa. Looking around, she noticed major changes to Angel Perdoso’s previous styling who had lavishly decorated the office with many pictures of himself and some celebrities, a pricy liquor cabinet, elaborate flower bouquets, expensive giveaways, silk pillows and seating duvets - all in all amounting to a rather ostentatious display. Now nothing in the room told anything about Philip Watherwood’s personal style or preferences, not a single picture, only a battered case of color pencils on the desk. The only piece of furniture he had exchanged was his chair, where he had replaced Angel’s slim, cool Spanish designer steel one with a sturdy, wide old-fashioned CEO chair fitting his big frame nicely.

“Antonia, what can I do for you?” Watherwood addressed her after finishing his phone call, only to blush and correct himself. “Sorry, I mean Ms. Langley – it’s continental style here, Monsieur and Madame, but since we met beforehand, I somehow ….” trailing off looking slightly embarrassed.

“Please, I’d be happy if you call me Antonia, most people around here do,” she smiled warmly putting the envelope before him. “I came to thank you for your generosity, Mr. Watherwood, and to return this. It‘s way too much and absolutely not necessary. Saskia will make my suit as good as new.”

“If I may call you Antonia, I’d greatly appreciate it if you call me Philip – we had originally agreed on that,” he smiled shyly. “Those are just the damages I owe you from our first encounter – after all I ruined your suit.”

“But it is honestly too much, Saskia will find…”

“I double-checked with Saskia – she is just artistically camouflaging the done damage,” Philip smirked. “As new CEO I find it is my duty to fully know what is going on around here. So you still need a new, clean suit – it’s on my insurance anyway. Besides…” - he added softly, “… you honestly deserve it for reacting so very nicely, thoughtfully to my clumsiness.”

“It was an accident, it was only fair not to overreact,” Antonia was surprised, she hadn’t expected sincere gratitude for simple flirty friendliness. “But if you insist, I’ll gratefully accept the certificate and promise to obtain a new suit which will be a credit to ‘signC’s’ professional approach.”

As Antonia left Philip’s office, she had trouble hiding her delighted smile and the feeling that she was totally smitten by her new boss.