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

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atwolfe

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Your updates are torturous! Every installment of this story leaves me absolutely desperate for more. You'd think such lovely chapters would sate me for a while, but you write so beautifully that I could go on reading for days. Update as fast as you can- I'm dying for the next installment of this fantastic work already!
I couldn't have said it better myself! I waited so patiently the last time :bounce:
Really, I did! I know you are busy but HURRY!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
 

Amandy

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As much as I want to know what happens, I'm glad to know there's more to come - great update!
 

Tad

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You are terrible, in a truly wonderful way! To tease us so, it all seemed to be coming together! ARRRGGGHHHHH the tension! :wubu::wubu::wubu:
 

Island Girl

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Actually did a little squee of delight and clapped my hands when I saw you had posted another chapter. :wubu: Really fantastic. I can't wait to read more! I agree with everyone else - hurry, please! :bounce:
 

agouderia

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I agree with everyone else - hurry, please! :bounce:
I waited so patiently the last time :bounce:
Really, I did! I know you are busy but HURRY!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
.... I'm not so sure whether this honestly looks like a convincing image of patience?!
Even though it's difficult being on the road again a lot, right now working in 41°C/100°F with no real air-condition I've tried to keep the chapters going at what I thought was a reasonable speed and intervall .... sniff ...;)

But you'll need a little patience before the next one...


! To tease us so, it all seemed to be coming together! ARRRGGGHHHHH the tension!
... as for things really coming together, it'll take a few more chapters. It is my attempt to elaborate a bit more how difficult it can be to fit two lives and personalities together, even if there are no serious obstacles.

Above all, I would like to warmly thank everyone of you who has been so enthusiastically following Philip&Antonia on their winding, bumpy road - it's extremely touching and highly motivating to keep going ....
 

atwolfe

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:eat1:

Okay, how is that for a convincing image of patience; better? :D (It would actually look more like the food was being thrown up in the air, but hey!)

We humbly await your next wonderful installment and look forward to more. I love each interaction between these incredible characters! I could read this story for a long time to come :happy:
 

ashblonde

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Its always hard to strike the balance between writing an abundance of material to satisfy a craving audience, AND have it live up to the writing quality you want, AND be true and consistent to the characters you've painstakingly nurtured and grown to love.

Especially as you get closer to denouement, after so much development, you find yourself second guessing the authenticity of their voices and matching their thoughts and behaviors to who they have become. Not to mention the challenge of bringing it all to fruition in a fresh and inspiring way. I'm still trying to figure out how to do that myself.

So cheers, agouderia - you've been doing a brilliant job at all of the above. Take your time in making it feel right for you, your characters, and, of course, for us too.
 

agouderia

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Part 10 -Weihnachtsmarkt

“Impressive moderating of that working group. But I know how important the issue is for you,” Antonia whirled around hearing Philip’s voice as she was pouring herself a coffee after the end of the workshop session on new demands and standards for European cloths sizing she had chaired at the European fashion retail conference in Düsseldorf. She hadn’t spoken to him since he had jumped out of the taxi some two weeks earlier; they had only stayed in rather loose SMS contact. Being unsure how to proceed further, she had sworn to wait for EAFR’s Christmas dinner on St. Nicholas day before she maybe would try another move.

“Thank you. It’s a total surprise to see you here; I didn’t know you were coming.”

“It was the easiest way to meet with quite a number of retailers as well as take a good look at some competitors,” Philip looked up and down uneasily several times, before taking a deep breath. “Could you …. it would be good …., I know last time I was …. well, I’d would really like to talk to you about some things I have observed here. What are your plans this afternoon? And I don’t know whether you would still be willing to have coffee with me?”

Seeing him look at her helplessly, Antonia had trouble being angry, especially since she felt it was partly her fault that their last encounter had ended so disastrously. “Actually my day here is done. Because of a mess up with the hotel rooms, I’m not staying here in Düsseldorf, but in Cologne … as a perk in the lovely “Dom Hotel” right on the cathedral square. What’s more, one of the nicest “Weihnachtsmärkte”, typical Advent fairs is there. I was planning on going this afternoon, I totally love Weihnachtsmarkt, buy some Christmas cookies I don’t make myself…”

“Have a nice evening then, see you maybe tomorrow,” Philip gave her a curt smile and turned to leave.

“Wait Philip – let me finish my sentence! Have you ever been to a Weihnachtsmarkt?”

“Ummmm … no… why?”

“Well, they’re incredibly popular with your compatriots,” Antonia smiled, simply could not help suggesting an activity together since he obviously seemed to want it too. “Many British bus operators and no frills-airlines tours offer weekend packages for Brits – these tourists have turned into a major economic factor. Why don’t you come along, join me, I’d love to show you around?”

“I don’t know … my hotel is here in Dousseldoff, how will I get back?”

“Don’t worry you can take a train any time. They run several per hour, it’s a 25 minute ride and the train station is right next to the cathedral,” Antonia linked arms with him. “Come on, you won’t regret it, I need to introduce you to Glühwein, hot spiced red wine, I know you’ll love it.”

“It’s always difficult to say no to suggestions of yours like that,” Philip gave her a small twisted smile, “because they’ve always turned out to be fun and tasty.”

“That’s the right attitude. Come, my car is in the park garage.”


It was dusk by the time they reached Cologne and Antonia watched Philip’s eyes survey the cute matching little wooden market stands circled around the brightly illuminated huge Christmas tree in front of the imposing Gothic cathedral.

“Quite impressive, truly a picture book perfect Christmas illustration. And it smells delicious.” Philip smiled taking in the aroma of Bratwurst, fried foods, hot chocolate, Pizza, baking, caramelized goodies that wafted over.

“Snacking and indulging yourself on the various goodies is a quintessential part of the Weihnachtsmarkt experience,” Antonia grinned. “If you’re really hungry though, we can go over to ‘Früh’s‘, the best brewery of the local beer, ‘Kölsch’, to get you a decent meal first,” hearing his stomach grumble.

“I’ll follow your lead. I presume you’ve most certainly done some extensive European Weihnachtsmarkt survey ….” Philip gave her a sheepish grin.

“Indeed I have…” Antonia laughed. “Thus I have sound empirical evidence that this booth here offers the very best Weihnachtsmarkt potato pancakes with apple sauce ever. Could you please get in line while I run over to get us some Glühwein?”

Placing the two paper plates stacked with potato pancakes in front of them, Antonia clicked the two Glühwein mugs. “Cheers, to your first Weihnachtsmarkt experience!”

Philip took a long sip. “Mmmmm … that is something, spicy, sweet … and it really warms you up,” before biting into the potato pancakes hungrily, only to burn his tongue. “Ouch… they’re really hot. But crisp on the outside and juicy, a bit spicy in the middle … a great combination with the tangy and sweet apple sauce. I can see now why you prefer them to frites…”

“Yeah, I love the contrast too. The potato batter is made with a bit of grated onion and parsley. I’m glad you like them,” Antonia smiled indulgently as he wolfed down his three, only to push one of hers over before she went to get him a second plate.

“This is really too much…..”

“No, it isn’t. Rule number one on Weihnachtsmarkt – overeat a little. Rule number two – this is a substitute for dinner,” Antonia playfully admonished him also setting a second mug of Glühwein in front of him. “You still need to try Nuremberg style small Bratwurst, the wonderful signature cathedral “Dom” Christmas cookies, the baked apples with vanilla sauce and maybe some caramelized almonds ….”

Tasting here and there, they wandered across the market, Antonia showing Philip the arts and crafts, buying a few things, listening to the music of a small live band and happy that he over time draped his arm around her.

“Very odd, lively, party music for Christmas season, people are even dancing,” Philip remarked observing several couples sashaying around the huge Christmas tree “From my knowledge German Christmas songs are mainly in the mold of ‘Silent night’ ….”

“That’s local color – original Cologne carnival music,” Antonia grinned. “It’s normally supposed to be played only during the season from November 11th to Ash Wednesday, minus the 4 weeks before Christmas to Epiphany. But somehow it’s turned into the year round local music for any public occasion. It’s used for carnival events, but also soccer matches, the Christopher Street Day parades, as you can see Christmas markets … and there even are some songs dealing with the afterlife which are often played at funerals – despite the gaudy carnival instrumentation.”

“Who’d have thought you Krauts of all people would be into carnival all year round…”

“It’s not us Krauts … it’s the Rhinelander’s … or even more precisely, the Cologne natives. Regional differences are huge here in Germany – no Hamburger would be caught dead celebrating carnival… it’s almost as extreme as Flemish and Walloons, only without the vicious secessionist drive….”

Stopping for their second official round of Glühwein, Philip sighed, shook his head muttering: “You’re being so sweet again-I think I owe you a real apology, don’t know how to explain… how we can move on with our business…”

“You don’t owe me anything,” Antonia gently laid her gloved hand on his. “We’re having a good time together, aren’t we? Let’s leave it at that – it’s fine with me. We have time, we don’t need to rush anything, just do what you feel fine with – and give me a telling off if I get impatient again, okay?”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely – now you must try one of these cookies….”


As it started raining heavily, they both still had an almost full mug of Glühwein in their hands. “What now? Is there anywhere we can go for cover?” Philip asked.

“My hotel is right here, let’s find a sofa in the lobby.” Antonia steered him quickly across the square into the hotel and onto a cozy small sofa in a corner. She was shivering with cold and wrapped her fingers tightly around her wine mug.

Philip flopped down heavily on the sofa next to her, seeing her shiver, wrapped his arms around her, murmuring: “Come here, let me warm you.”

Reluctantly, remembering the frustrating outcomes of her last attempts at physical closeness with Philip, she leaned against him, let him rub her back and arms while he finished first his then her Glühwein. But she stayed passive, vowing to not ruin things again by being to forward, let Philip take the initiative even if that meant not getting very far. Holding her snugly with a slightly hazy smile for a few minutes, he leaned down and slowly, teasingly started to kiss her, first only lightly pecking, then going in deeper as Antonia closed her eyes and tilted her head back. Craving his body heat, she pressed herself into his bulk, savoring his insistent kisses. She could tell the Glühwein had loosened his inhibitions, making him decidedly horny and as his hand kneaded her breast, she murmured, “We should move on to a more private place, if you want to. Cologne is a liberal city … but let’s not overdue it…”

Seeing him nod slowly, she rose quickly wrapping her arms around him and indicating at the elevator. Philip went along, as then got on, she leaned into its corner, pressed 3rd floor and drew him close again, reaching up for a deep kiss.

“What about my train back..?” Philip whispered between kisses.

“Don’t worry, they run very late…”

Careful not to break the bond of physical touch, Antonia navigated him to her room, with one hand pulled the key card out and stuck it in, opening the door. Once inside, she immediately dropped coat, handbag, everything she was holding, backed against the wall to let Philip press his weight onto her, delighting in the sensation, his warm lips running down her throat as he with a sense of urgency started unbuttoning her blouse. Reluctantly, she slipped her fingers up to his tie, pulled it off and set to work on his shirt buttons, as he broke off, breathing heavily…

“No please, wait….”

“We’re doing great Philip, just go for it. I can feel you want it as much as I do,” Antonia let her hand tease up the inside of his big thigh.

Leaning heavily into her again, Philip kissed her neck and ear, murmuring: “Please, for me, take out your contacts, please…”

“Take out my contacts? But w..,” Antonia groaned quietly, but instantly decided to give in while making sure he would not use the diversion as a chance to get away. “Philip I can’t navigate my way around this room without contacts, I can only do that at home. If you insist, you have to guide me. Come, continue undressing me while I take them out..”

Turning on only the small light, Antonia deftly removed her contacts, letting Philip fully unbutton her blouse, tug down the zipper of her skirt, his hands gliding over her hips, down and up between her thighs, where he let his fingers play until she clenched with desire. As the world around her turned into a dim, multi-colored blur, she wondered briefly whether she honestly wanted her first sex with Philip to be the result of inebriated horniness combined with total lack of vision on her part. But by now she had been waiting far too long for this opportunity to let it pass by for being particular about details.

“Bed, Philip, bed – guide me over,” Antonia nibbled on his earlobe, carefully stroking over his soft flesh as she continued to unbutton his shirt, literally fingering her way down, pulling it out of his pants, undoing belt and waistband slipping her hands into his boxers feeling the deliciously plush, sensitive underside of his belly and how needily hard he was.

In the meantime Philip had steered Antonia to the bed and settled her on it, wrapping her into his abundant body and kissing her passionately. She caressed his bulges gently, making sure to keep her hands flat to not start squeezing or poking his inviting flab.

Given her previous experiences, she had always feared physical relations with Philip would require endless coaxing and reassurances to make him overcome his inhibitions. So she was awed as he expertly, naughtily started to stimulate her, making her writhe in pleasure, his hands plucking cords in her she did not even know existed.

Keeping her teetering on the brink of orgasm, he only asked briefly, panting, with a quavering voice: “Are you really okay with going all the way?” taking her moaned,. “Oh jaaaa..” as an invitation to quickly enter her scissor-style, causing a tantalizing pre-orgasm. Grinding his thick body against hers in a flowing rhythm, he wound her up tighter and tighter to make her utter a high-pitched scream of release she was not able to suppress shortly after, before he climaxed too in a quiet grunt.

Holding her close, Philip buried his face in Antonia’s neck, breathing heavily before he quickly rolled himself around making the whole bed shake like a capsizing raft to then wrap his arms around her from behind, his belly pressed against her back. Antonia struggled though to turn in his arms, brought her face close to his and looked at him intently.

He looked flushed and serene until he caught her look, his expression turning apprehensive. “Are you feeling alright? I didn’t hurt you? Why are you looking at me like that?”

“How does a woman feel who probably just had something that must come very close to the perfect orgasm?” Antonia purred giving him a kiss. “Even for a communications expert that’s difficult to verbalize….”

“Are you sure? You look … well, I don’t know….”

“I’m staring at you so closely because, don’t forget, you suggested I take out my contacts …. remember? I have to look at you like this to get an idea how you’re doing.” she playfully pulled his hair. “So… how does it feel to make love to a blind woman?”

Philip blushed lightly with a guilty look and said seriously. “Making love to you feels fantastic. I forgot about you not seeing clearly. Sorry, don’t know what I was thinking …..”

“Well … it was an interesting experience for me, too. Not seeing much does make me concentrate more on other senses like feeling and smelling … and you feel and smell sensational, so it’s well worth my time…” she nibbled on his fleshy man boobs, rubbing his tummy in circular motions making it ripple rhythmically.

“This is lovely, but I need to catch my train…” Philip started to get up.

“No, no way!”

“What do you mean no? My hotel bed is in D…”

“No, you’re staying right here is this hotel bed in Cologne! I’ve waited way too long for this, I deserve an encore! You take an early train tomorrow morning!” Antonia put her full weight on top to make getting up more difficult for him.

“So… you think you deserve an encore,” Philip grinned self-consciously. “Well, admittedly …. I’ve an appetite for an encore myself…”


Antonia did not see Philip all next morning in Düsseldorf at the fair after he had snuck out early from her room in Cologne. Just as she was getting ready for her noon final panel discussion on challenges for fashion retailers in Europe, Arthur came by: “Hi Antonia, have you seen Philip?”

“You haven’t seen him yet this morning?” fear instantly rising in her.

“I don’t mean this morning, right now. We already had a meeting together, he was a bit late, but seemed fine. No I mean right now, we’re running late, we need to catch our Thalys back to Brussels,” Arthur explained.

“Okay, well, I’ll tell him you’re looking for him if I see him.”

Sitting up on the podium for the discussion a little over half an hour later, Antonia made out Philip’s broad frame in one of the rear rows of the audience. Texting him from under the table she wrote: Hmmm, someone missed his Thalys back to Brussels ;-)

Well, wanted to see you in action here – can take later train…

Or you can hitch a ride with me! We can go via Aachen, another great Weihnachtsmarkt – I can introduce you to my ultimate favorites as Xmas cookies, their local specialty Printen….
, she discreetly typed making sure no one noticed.

“Ms Langley, as Secretary General of EAFR, could we have your opinion on what some see as the crisis in women’s fashion in Europe?”

“Certainly,” Antonia smiled at the moderator and her audience. “We have to differentiate between external and internal criteria. There is little we can do about external criteria such as a major economic downturn in which consumers cut spending drastically – notably on goods such as fashion which are not daily necessities. But there are a number of internal criteria where we as an industry can only blame ourselves if we are not getting the sales we expect and need.”

“Could you maybe give us some more details on this?”

“I would like to take on two: supply and sizing,” Antonia elaborated. “We all agree that neither the low price nor the luxury segments are currently causing any problems – it’s everything in between, mid-market and quality fashion. Now I would like to do something that might seem unprofessional, but I would like to use myself and my own shopping habits as a pars pro toto to high-light this. Many of you will probably agree that I do fit the mould of the woman you have in mind when you think about who is going to buy your fashion: I’m young enough, fashion interested, wear a standard size, have the professional opportunity and necessity to dress the part as well as the income to spend on decent fashion.”

Some laughter, a bit of applause and many nodding heads were the response to Antonia’s statement.
“But I find it increasingly difficult to actually spend the money I’m willing to on fashion. Why? Somehow many designers and producers seem to have forgotten I’m their main target group. I might like, but I certainly don’t need an array of €500 diaphanous baby doll dresses. I’m 10 years too old, 15 cm too tall for those – and simply have no opportunity to wear them in a business environment. If I want one like that for fun or a party, I’ll go to a low price retailer, buy a nice copy for € 60-70, wear it once or twice a season and that’s it. On the other hand, I already have 8 good gray suits in my wardrobe. I’m not going to buy the 9th one just because some designer comes up with a ½ shade of gray off and pockets that zip from left to right instead of right to left this season!”

Major applause arose, mainly from the women in the audience. “So what do I do? I vent my fashion budget on shoes, handbags, the 87th nice t-shirt, scarves and the like – and save the rest!”

“You mentioned sizing as the second issue?”

“How many of you like trying on 3-4 different sizes before you find one that fits?” Antonia asked her audience; looking around seeing only a few very young women raise their hands. “Well, so only a minority has that hobby horse. Okay, many brands have these half-meter long EU size tags in their clothing. Apart from the fact that you have to cut them off if you don’t want them peeking out or scratching the back of your neck all the time – how reliable are they? Yesterday morning I might have bought a nice dress with jacket in an innovative shade of green by an Italian designer en passant here in Düsseldorf. Now I wear a German size 40, which normally would translate into an Italian 44/46. Now the tag read D40 – I42 – so I knew something was wrong. I did not have the time or nerve to try on three sizes to find one which might fit, so I saved my money. In my own name, in the name of EAFR and for the sake of good business prospects for all of us – we finally need to get this sizing issue solved – and be more realistic about what we offer to our markets!”

Even though one rail thin female designer from Switzerland kept disagreeing, Antonia got the most applause at the end of the discussion and was surrounded by people as she grabbed a bowl of pea soup for lunch afterwards where Philip joined her. Bashfully he asked: “Can I take you up on that offer of a ride home to Brussels via a second Weihnachtsmarkt?”

Antonia flashed him a delighted smile and nodded, swallowing her soup. “It’ll be a moment; I need to talk to some people. Go get yourself some soup, it’s highly eatable.”

“I’ll wait a bit; the queue is really long just now.”

Antonia leaned against him a bit, yearning for his warmth in the chilly fair hall, as the moderator addressed her again: “Antonia, could you please come? They want to do a radio interview with our panelists.”

“Finish this, and meet me at 15h at the main entrance,” Antonia blew Philip a kiss and handed him her bowl.

Hand in hand they reached the car where Antonia first thing climbed into Philip’s lap, hugged him tight and kissed him longingly. “I’ve been waiting for this minute ever since you left my hotel room in Cologne…”

“Mmmm, I guess so’ve I…” Philip blushed and murmured, returning her kiss. They made out for quite a while until Antonia pulled back: “Okay, we need to get going before rush-hour traffic hits or we’re arrested for public indecency. Look at how those guys over who are staring at our car. Are you in the mood for more Glühwein?”

“Definitely!” Philip grinned with pleasure while his stomach grumbled loudly.

“It sounds like you need something to eat beforehand though. What have you had so far today?”

“It’s been a good day. I finished your soup, so I’m fine,” there was a touch of pride in Philip’s voice Antonia found unsettling, especially since she totally disagreed with his assessment.

“Well, I know a cute, historic wine café in Aachen that makes great vegetable omelets and salads; we’ll go there first before we hit the Glühwein booths!”
 

agouderia

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“Bl***y unbelievable – it’s true what everybody says: Your apartment is overrun by thousands of teddy bears!” Philip exclaimed as he looked around Antonia’s living room. He had been reluctant to come up, but Antonia insisted since he had aroused her unbearably the whole drive back from Aachen running his fingers over her body while she drove - apart from her general determination to move past a one-night stand, let him truly enter her life starting with her apartment.

“Not thousands – 93 … well maybe 94 teddy bears live here….,” Antonia slipped her arms as far around his middle as possible, leaning in for a kiss. “None of them have ever complained, they seem to like living here…..”

Philip kissed her firmly: “I think I can see why that’s the case….” – as she steered him over to her bedroom. “But there’s no room on the bed for us … it’s occupied by polar bear squatters…” he mumbled into her neck.

“That’s just Mère Polar Bear and her three cubs…they live here on feather bed mountain…,” Antonia set the bears on the window sill and flicked the bed aside.

“That’s some mountain of a feather bed… don’t you suffocate under that?”

“Oh no- on the contrary!” Antonia shook her head smiling. “That’s what comes from having a German grandmother – I was turned into a total feather bed addict, I only sleep well if I have something really big, warm and fluffy to wrap around me. I abhor these tucked in sheets!” settling on the bed and pulling him down on her. “You were a very naughty boy in the car, distracting me so badly from driving …. let’s finish that now I have my hands free too….”

“Could you please turn off the light?” Philip half swallowed his words and turned away to finish undressing. Antonia sighed but complied. Light or dark, as Philip enveloped her in his body, she was completely absorbed by losing herself in his delicious roundness, particularly relishing the contrast of his soft abdomen and increasing hardness. Rubbing it teasingly, she was so tempted by the feeling of his pliable bulk she pressed her hands into his extra soft underbelly, kneading it vigorously.

Philip bolted at this, grabbed his shirt and trousers and stumbled over to the living room. Antonia took a few deep breaths, then rose, pulled on a wrapper and went over. He was sitting on her couch, just with an open shirt, his head hanging half between his knees and breathing in rapid, shallow gulps. Letting him calm down for a minute more, Antonia perched herself on the backrest of the couch and wrapped her arms around his shoulders, her cheek against his.

“Sorry, I’m afraid I overreacted again,” Philip pressed out with some difficulty.

“It’s okay, don’t worry. I got carried away again,” Antonia murmured soothingly, lightly massaging the back of his neck. “Touching you feels so sensational, I forget myself – and do things you’re not comfortable with. I’m sorry too.”

Philip nodded slowly, his breathing more normal so she went on: “We both need a little time and patience to get to know what we like, what works for both of us, okay? Is this fine for you?” lightly caressing his chest.

“Mmmmm…hmm,” Philip sighed, nodding so Antonia let her hands wander up and down his sides. “How about this?”

“Niiice…” he mumbled, leaning his head back, slowly rolling it against her chest. Anticipating the next move to be a more difficult one, she very carefully stroked her hands over his broad belly, outlining his girth. Sure enough, he sucked it in, tensing up, but did not protest, instead let out a low guttural moan. “This really okay?” Antonia intensified her petting a bit.

“Ummm…hmmm,” Philip nodded. “I’m used to that, it’s in many dance moves, they center on touching the waist and sides …. Or where the waist should be,” he grunted bitterly. Antonia wrapped herself tighter around him, softly started kissing the tender flesh of his neck and proceeded to rub his expansive tummy calmingly as she would a baby’s.

After he had relaxed a bit, she leaned precariously down from her perch, let her hand wander tentatively lower, sliding it between the thick, soft, warm fat folds of belly and thighs to reach his manhood, slipping her fingers in a ring around it, squeezing lightly. “But I may squeeze down here – or not?”

“Absolutely…” Philip whispered hoarsely, letting something drop he had clenched in his fist.

“What’s that ….oh sorry, Heather’s boys, Henri and Pierre arranged the Christmas cookies we baked last weekend on these Winnie-the-Pooh napkins… I didn’t have time to clear everything away …”

“I hate Winnie-the-Pooh…..”

“Pardon? How can anybody hate Winnie-the-Pooh?” Antonia sat up in dismay.

“He’s fat, greedy and …. stupid, really stupid…,”

“What? Winnie-the-Pooh isn’t stupid – he’s just a bear with very little brains! But he has a lot emotional intelligence since he sees and knows his own faults, even though he isn’t able to follow his own insights time and again … Come to think of it, Winnie-the-Pooh with academic smarts would be literally un-bear-ably perfect!” Antonia was intrigued by the idea. “Imagine – he’s cute, cuddly, loving, and loyal, a good friend, compassionate, curios … a high IQ would be almost too much. What’s your issue with poor Winnie-the-Pooh?” she nuzzled his cheek.

“… my nanny was told to read me only the one chapter where Pooh gets stuck in Rabbit’s hole because he ate too much and was too fat to get back out…” Philip muttered under his breath, stiffening in Antonia’s arms; who was appalled.

“But that’s awful, how cruel!” the words slipped before she could hold them back. “I always hated that chapter, too. When I was older, could read the book myself, that’s the one I skipped. I was especially mad at Rabbit and his stupid relations!”

“You were mad at Rabbit’s relations?”

“Yes … those stupid rabbits, digging holes all over the place … couldn’t they have dug Rabbit’s front hole a bit bigger to help Pooh out and then fill it up again? That would have spared poor Pooh a diet and the humiliation of having his sexy hind paws being used as a towel rack!”

Philip laughed out loud and with a surprising move flipped Antonia down into his lap raising his eyebrows in mock questioning: “So … you’ve always had the impetus to try to rescue poor teddy bears in distress?”

“Ummm … I guess I have…”

“Such a good little girl….” Philip mumbled and kissed her hungrily, his fingers drumming up her thighs under her wrapper.


“Bonjour sleepy-head, coffee is ready!” Antonia cooed happily, playfully pulling the blanket off Philip, who stretched, yawned and smiled at her drowsily, aimlessly groping towards the coffee mug.

“What time is it?” he took a deep drought of coffee. “I can’t remember having slept so long, so deeply in ages. Fabulous bed … I could get used to it…”

“I sincerely hope so,” Antonia smiled sweetly kissing him. “It’s a major feat of German orthopedic engineering – gift of my German grandparents to this apartment. And here – taaa daah – breakfast, continental cross over with German bread and rolls, French cheese and preserves, Greek and Spanish fruit, Italian prosciutto, Norwegian salmon …. all stored in my other major asset, my huge American refrigerator ….present from my American grandparents…”

“That’s a big spread..,” Philip surveyed it with a guilty look, pulling the duvet up under his armpits to cover the beautifully big and round, faintly hairy, silky smooth belly resting in his lap and his well plumped chest.

“I’m starving! We didn’t have a proper dinner last dinner, but got some major exercise instead,” Antonia winked at him, settling on the bed next to him with a plate, spreading pineapple preserve on a brioche with small dark chocolate chips in it. “Taste this, my new winter favorite…” taking a bite herself before handing him the plate and slipping her hands under the blanket around his middle, her head against his chest – occasionally reaching up for another bite to eat.

“And now?” Philip asked indecisively looking at the empty plate.

“Now you take 2 slices of the raisin brioche, spread some lavender honey on it, maybe take some tangerine to go with it,” Antonia instructed him.

“I don’t know how to cook, can’t you do that?”

“Cheri, that’s not cooking, of course you can spread a slice of bread,” she mockingly wrinkled her brow, shook her head and playfully bit his nipple. “I’ve got my hands full down here, it’s so warm and cozy, I don’t feel like coming back out into the cold. Is this okay for you?” as she let her hands wander along his full round curves under the covers, caressingly them lightly.

“Ummmh… more than okay…”

As she gently nudged him on, telling him which things he should get from the tray to eat, put together and in part feed her, she felt herself get more and more turned on, wrapped her legs around one of his thick ones, sensing his own mounting arousal. Philip squirmed uncomfortably: “Antonia please… we’re having breakfast, it’s early in the day …”

Choking to stifle a derisive laugh into a giggle, Antonia teased: “Whoever taught you such outdated notions that sex was an after dinner activity in the dark?”

“Uuuh, don’t know … this is just the first time I’ve ever had breakfast in bed….”

“Well, if this is a premiere, we have to make the most of it, don’t we?” Antonia set the plate on the side, stretched herself out over his body to kiss him intensely, further teasing his manhood into hardness before she slowly guided him inside her, using his fully belly to rest against like a soft pillow.

In the cozy warmth of the bed, both pleasantly full with breakfast, their love-making was languid, slow-moving, excruciatingly drawn out, both of them teetering on the edge of pleasure for minutes before letting their climax wash over them in a long lapping wave. Lightly covered in sweat, Antonia stayed sprawled out over Philip, who exhaled very deeply: “I don’t ever want to leave this bed; I want to stay right here for the rest of my life.”

Touched, Antonia kissed and wrapped herself tighter around him before she said after a few minutes: “For the sake of personal hygiene, we should at least get up to have a quick shower together before we climb back into bed.”

“I guess I do need to go to my place some time to check on Chopin and get fresh clothing ….”

“Well, you can do that after we shower … while I go shopping and cook us a really good dinner for a change,” Antonia suggested. “What would you like – as main course I can offer off the bat caramelized duck drumsticks, veal in Marsala, duck ragout with pasta, or chicken à la Normandie with Calvados apples?”

“Chicken à la Normandie sounds interesting….”


Humming off key to herself, Antonia checked the dinner table set for two with candles and her Advent decoration, matching her own simple outfit of dark jeans and a burgundy low-cut wrap blouse, hiding her sexiest new burgundy lace lingerie. Taking the bottle of Cassis for the aperitif into the kitchen, she called Philip: “Bon soir cheri – one quick last question before you get here. What would you prefer with your chicken à la Normandie –tagliatelle or gnocchi?”

“Ummm … well … don’t know …. can’t really …. don’t bother at all Antonia, I can’t come, I have too much work ….”

“Wait, you mean to tell me you’re not coming to dinner right now? Everything except the side dish is ready….,”

“I’m sorry, I really can’t….” Philip mumbled so quietly she had troubled hearing it over the phone.

“But Philip, you need a decent meal for a change,” Antonia reasoned. “Come by quickly for dinner and then you can get back to work if you have to…”

“No, sorry, that’s not possible… I really can’t, I mustn’t…. it was wonderful with you but now I can’t….”

“It’s just a small light dinner …. I can’t eat it alone. Shall I bring it over to your place if you don’t have the time to come?”

“No, absolutely no. It’s hopeless here,” there was slight panic in Philip’s voice. “Can you save it, maybe we can have it tomorrow for lunch in the office if you bring it over…”

“Tomorrow is Sunday…”

“Well, I still have to work after I’ve been away. Please can you come to the office? At 14h00? Please?”

“Okay, if you insist … bonne nuit,” Antonia looked at her dinner table, a feeling of dull disappointment settling like lead into her stomach. She packed the food away, had a few bites of the endives, apples and walnut salad before throwing the rest away. Her comfortable bed suddenly seemed as cold and empty as never before as she sat down on it, pulling mother polar bear into her lap, squeezing her plump fluffy tummy, unable to fathom Philip’s response: “Now what, Mère Bear, now what?”
 

atwolfe

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Oh, agouderia! This was so well worth the wait! We got a little bit of tease, an easing of the tension and something intriguing to look forward to :eat1: I so love your writing :wubu:
 
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*sighs* This story is such sweet torture. Fantastic update and, of course, I can't WAIT for more!
 

Fat Molly

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Aw, why isn't there more?

This is super sweet stuff. I had to get myself a caramel cafe mocha because of all the divine Continental flavor, which set me in the mood for something sweet and different from the usual black coffee I take.

Great stuff.
 

agouderia

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Ack! You leave us hanging on such delicious cliffs!
Well - that's what cliffs are there for - or not?

The final chapter actually has been written for months, I'm now in the process of pulling together a loose array of scenes that lead to it - so I hope everybody can keep up the wonderful patience and interest in Philip&Antonia's progress for a little while longer.

I adore your sex scenes :wubu:
:blush: :blush: ... oh dear ... that's one of the most unusual, unexpected compliments I've ever received! Not really sure how to handle it ....;)
 

Island Girl

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Fantastic! You've got my interest for as long as you want it. And I agree, your sex scenes are delicious.
 

agouderia

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... a very quick short update before I'm off on a four week project...

Part 11 – Desktop

“Bon soir, enchantée de vous voir, thank you for coming, fröhlichen Nikolaus,” Antonia was greeting the guests for EAFR Christmas party on St. Nicholas day with the matching theme, as she was half hugged from behind, warm softness pressing into her.

“Why do I have to eat the main course first? You look like the tastiest dessert I’ve ever seen,” Philip whispered into her ear, greeting her with a small kiss, keeping his arm around her, his hand on her backside with a touch of shy, proprietorial pride. She was surprised and relieved he had come, obviously in an outgoing mood: “Well, I’m happy you like my outfit – but I can see Saskia informed you about its essence because she gave you something matching to wear,” playfully tugging at his dark cherry red silk tie before she cheek-kissed Saskia in greeting.

“Oh, it mainly matches the Sinterklaas theme,” Saskia blushed and surveyed Antonia – wearing a new slim ‘signC’ charcoal grey dress nested along her curves with a fitted short dark cherry red velvet jacket, patent high-heeled Mary Janes in the same shade with fish-net stockings – in satisfaction. Jean-Luc let his eyes wander between Philip and Antonia, whose hand he kissed in greeting, with benevolent relief while Jan, who lingered for a second as the others moved on, said sotto-voce: “It’s so good to see you two have finally gotten your act together. Philip is obviously so much happier – and you look gorgeous too.”

“Yes, I guess things are developing nicely, thank you Jan,” Antonia responded reluctantly, wondering to herself whether she really was happy with how things were going between Philip and her.

The past few weeks of dating, relationship, affair – she had trouble even naming what was going on between Philip and her – had been an emotional rollercoaster, leaving Antonia alternating between giddy delight, deep tenderness and despairing disappointment.
Incidents like on their first evening, when he had stood her up with a home cooked dinner had repeated themselves – along with others which would normally have caused her to dump any boyfriend. He still refused to come to her office, he had not yet shown her his apartment, he rejected all her attempts to go out to dinner with him or cook or bake together, or do her the simple favor of bringing bread or other staples along if she asked.

On the other hand, he would pick her up as a surprise from the Eurostar one evening as she returned dead tired from London with a bottle of champagne, happily devour a plain risotto she whipped up before making ardent love to her, rocking her to sleep in his arms. Or he would apologize profusely for not making it to dinner to instead play her good night music on the piano via phone. Or he found out that she always went to the small picturesque Weihnachtsmarkt in the Eifel foothills in Monschau with Heather and the kids – only to insist they go alone to spend a romantic night in the snow having reserved a suite there in a small historic hotel.

All this left her struggling to adapt to the constantly alternating hot and cold emotional waves washing over her. As much as she loved being with him, she was always apprehensive as to what might happen next. It was unthinkable to talk to Philip about any of this; he immediately froze, blocked off or even bolted away at any attempts to make himself the topic of conversation. Complimenting him about personal aspects was out of the question, let alone addressing her fondness for his big round body.

Antonia only noticed she was turning into a true expert in flat-handed, loving caresses - avoiding any grabbing, pinching or squeezing. Her touch though seemed to trigger instinctive physical responses of calm, and relaxation in Philip; it was almost as instantaneous a reaction as if she were petting a cat or a baby. Despite finding it bewildering given his numerous insecurities, she was grateful for this oddity since the physical closeness he seemed to appreciate and actively sought out was at least a surrogate for the impossibility of verbal emotional closeness – and it made their sexual relations unexpectedly uncomplicated and highly rewarding.

On balance though, she was relatively sure his erratic and unreliable behavior had nothing to do with her personally – she took Jean-Luc’s word as well as Philip’s cute attempts at being a good boyfriend as proof that he did care for her as much as he was capable of. It was more his own inner demons he was constantly battling with – although it hurt her to have to watch, especially if he came afterwards with heart wrenchingly helpless apologies. But whenever she saw his eager adoring look follow her, or was wrapped into a loving bear hug, she melted, forgave him all major and minor blunders to concentrate on believing that her love and help would overtime inspire him with the confidence to overcome his issues.

“Mesdames et messieurs, Damens en Herrens, ladies and gentlemen, Signori et Signore – Sinterklaas or St. Nicholas Day is the ideal date to celebrate EAFR’s annual Christmas dinner, » Antonia started her speech, giving a quick wrap up of the past year at EAFR with the data her team had assembled for her. “Now we have a new format this year – and I hope you will support us at EAFR in supporting others. Sinterklaas and St. Nicholas are holidays for children; their essence is making children happy. Those of you who have attended EAFR’s Christmas parties in the past know there always were rather extravagant give- aways. But be honest with ourselves, we’re all adults, we can all do well without presents. So we want to give away support to those who really need it. Shortly you will see a small fashion show by the European schools art class with designs interpreting the Sinterklaas theme in modern children’s fashion. They’re showing you their selected favorites – and made traditional Christmas stockings and bags with all the designs submitted. We will auction the fashion samples, stockings and bags – giving the returns to the European schools partner schools in the poorest countries of the world to pay for new school books. So thank you very much in advance for supporting this initiative – and enjoy the show.”

Talking to and smiling at everybody who wanted to speak to her was much more tiring than she had expected, but all in all Antonia was extremely content with the feedback she received for her first public event for EAFR. At the end of the evening, Reg Harrington at his first appearance in new official EAFR function in Brussels took her aside: “Sincerely dislike having to admit it, you know I’m critical of these European association gimmicks – but you have something going for yourself here. Alone that you created my position on the board knowing how I stood on EU issues. This was a very good Christmas party scheme – and I have to admire your nerve, never thought I’d say that about a half-Kraut Eurocrat.”

“Thank you for the compliments, despite the reservations. I look for and appreciate competence; I can live with political dissent.”

“But I’m afraid you’ll need your nerve in the coming weeks,” Harrington scratched his bald head. “I’m no expert, but I have the feeling after talking to our new auditor, the one I've been charged to enlist for us, that your predecessor might have been involved in major accounting fraud. We’ll have to look into that.”

“The only thing I’ve noticed so far is that we have much less money in our accounts than the books tell us – and our accountant has been on sick leave now almost the whole time I’ve been at EAFR.”

“Seeing your work so far, I trust you’ll go about it with the necessary determination,” adding with a dry grin, showing his less than attractive yellow teeth. “Alone your taste in men speaks in your favor – spoke to Watherwood, a very good English boy you’ve got yourself there,” making Antonia turn dark red since Philip just appeared behind her.

Reg Harrington’s prediction at the Christmas party had not been exaggerated – over the next few days, as Antonia tried to immerse herself further and further into the financial situation of EAFR, she began getting a vague idea of the amount of havoc her predecessor had left behind. Working endless hours, she was increasingly nervous: The more she saw of the accounting the more she sensed something was seriously wrong but her lack of understanding in financial technicalities only added another layer of confusion to the problems. Philip was on a business trip doing the last store openings before Christmas – and so far she had shied away from telling him about her problems out of an odd mixture of pride and insecurity.

So she was on the edge of despair when he called: “Salut cherie, I’m back in Brussels! I’ve missed you so much! Everything is fine here in the office – what are we doing tonight? Will you pick me up?”

“Oh Philip I’ve missed you so much too! Things here in my office are terrible! I can’t see you tonight; I have to finish making heads or tails of these accounts!” Antonia moaned.

“What’s wrong with the accounts?”

“It looks like my predecessor left us with some kind of fraud or the like to deal with. Now I have to try and sort things out…”

“You’re having trouble with finances and accounting but you don’t tell me?”

“I didn’t want to bother you….”

“You know finances are my field of specialty. What’s the use of having me among your, how shall I say, closer acquaintances if you don’t let me help you when you need it?” Philip half-scolded her.

“Would you do that? Can you come and take a look at these accounts?”

“I’ll be happy to take a look at the accounts. But I can’t come by … “

“But why Philip? There’s nothing wrong with my new office….”

“I can’t come to your office and look into EAFR’s accounts there – that wouldn’t look right, would it? But I can look into something you bring along to wherever and ask for my advice. You understand the difference, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I do … and you’re right….,” Antonia yawned and rubbed her eyes.

“Okay- then pack up those dirty books and bring them here – I’ll prepare everything else!”


Coming into Philip’s office with a folding box full of files in her hands felt a bit like coming home, everything seemed so familiar. Being wrapped in a big warm hug by Philip, who pulled her on his lap, let her snuggle into his belly and kissed her longingly was a new addition making her feel safe and comfortable.

“Look, here’s a glass of decent Sangiovese, you need that now before we get started. Did you know my crazy predecessor actually kept a wine cellar here at ‘signC’? We shouldn’t let it go to waste,” Philip handed her a glass and opened the lids of a few food containers. “And I ordered some of your favorites from the Lebanese place at Place du Chatelaine – was that okay?”

“Merci, that’s lovely … you’re being so sweet….”

“Well it’s the least I can do – you always managed all other office disasters,” Philip murmured with a touch of embarrassment. “It’s good I can finally help you a little bit. Now show me those financial reports and accounts of yours.”

Antonia handed Philip the files in the order she had put together before she took the container of lentil soup and the lamb kebabs to heat them in the kitchenette. As she came back, he had already spread out some of the account sheets, was marking them with multi-colored post-its, had taken coat and tie off and rolled up his sleeves energetically. Handing him a bowl of lentil soup, she was relieved because she was positive he would at least find some answers to her many questions.
Watching him work reminded her, why she had fallen so hard for him: He was totally in his element, enjoying the challenge of the task of unraveling the financial mess she had found in EAFR’s books, putting him so much at ease that he even forgot his usual diet obsession to give into his hearty appetite, polishing off three plates of the Lebanese mezé after the soup. She so rarely had the pleasure of observing his cute chubby cheeks chew with relish, his soft tummy becoming round and full, turning into a shapely dome in his lap that this made it even harder for her to concentrate on following his explanations of the misled financial transactions.

“You don’t really understand what I’m trying to explain to you, do you?” Philip gave her a twisted smile as he caught her blank look.

“No, not really. I’m horrible with finances, those calculations turn into cobwebs in my brain,” Antonia sighed. “Sitting across from you doesn’t make it easier to concentrate. It reminds me so much of the times I worked here, sat on this chair, had to constantly restrain myself because I wanted to touch you so badly.”

Philip blushed mumbling: “Well, that’s different; you may touch me now..” prompting Antonia to move to his side, settle on his armrest and wrap herself around him, “although I could never understand, why you want to touch me.”

“Face it, there are some things we all don’t understand,” Antonia kissed him, unbuttoning his shirt, slipping one hand around his neck and the other down to his chest. “You don’t understand this – but you don’t have to, simply take it as something we both really like. Unfortunately … I have to understand that financial mess at least a little bit. Will you try to explain it again?”

Turning her in his lap, Philip patiently pointed out what he had detected so far in the books, presuming they would have to look for a network of hidden accounts between which undeclared transactions had taken place. But sitting in his lap, fondling his full round belly made her naughty thoughts wander again until he shook her a bit: “Hey, you’re not paying attention again! I guess you’re pretty tired … but you’re also starting to distract me …”

“Do you know that you let your fingers play across those finance sheets like on a piano when you work with them? I’d always imagine you would play with my breasts like that…”

“Accounts are not the only thing you don’t understand – music is another thing!” Philip gave her a wicked grin. “You can’t play breasts like a piano! You can play piano down here very well…” as he hitched up her skirt, sighed his approval of her lacy Italian stay-up stockings and let his fingers play between her thighs making her let out a small groan, “…. but you have to play breasts like you play the guitar…”

“You can play the guitar too?”

“A little bit … definitely well enough for this….” deftly unbuttoning her blouse, reaching behind her back to snap open her bra and pull out her breasts, fitting his arms around her as if he indeed was holding a guitar and artfully starting to pluck and tease them with his elegant fingers, making Antonia wince with pleasure as she simultaneously rubbed herself along his thick thigh.

Shifting heavily in his chair he mumbled into her ear: “… know what I always thought when you sat across from me in one of your sexy low-cut tops?”

“No, but I’d love to…”, but Philip shook his head, poured down the rest of his wine to grunt holding her tight: “…no, ummm well, it’s nothing, I can’t…”

Antonia turned on his knee, cupped his plump cheeks in her hands and tilted his face up so he looked at her, wistful uncertainty in his eyes as she whispered: “I have a suggestion – why don’t you delete ‘I can’t’ from your vocabulary? I told you my naughty thoughts … so you can tell me yours. There’s nothing wrong with that, you’re entitled to naughty thoughts ….”

Swallowing hard several times, he stammered: “.. ‘d imagine … like you … on my desk …. kissing…” before he broke off and looked down.

“Now that can easily be taken care of…” with a sly wink, Antonia let her blouse and bra drop, stepped out of her skirt and arranged herself on his desk, only in panties and stockings. Philip’s eyes went big as she teasingly unbuttoned the rest of his shirt, with a quick move undid his belt and waistband to pull him towards her by the elastic of his boxers. “Now take off that shirt and t-shirt quickly so I can really feel you!” He did as told, but pulled his button-down shirt back on and half-covered his belly with his arms, leaning down to kiss her.

Placing his hands on her hips, she let her finger tips glide teasingly over his fleshy chest, the expanse of his belly down to his thighs, letting out a small giggle at his low moan and instant strong physical response: “Looks like someone is in the mood for a real quickie – well you’ve got me all ready, you just have to pull down these panties….”

As he did so, Antonia wrapped her legs tightly around him, digging her heels in his round plump buttocks, pulling him down to her letting out an ecstatic shudder as his abundant belly flesh rolled over her in heavy waves, creating a luscious micro-environment of its own around her, making her forget the hard table and menacing accounts under her. Having her sailing on a high plateau, Philip bucked hard to then hold her firmly against his heaving chest before he collapsed back into his chair. Not looking directly at her, he shot her a few bashful glances from under his long lashes, until he was convinced by her beatific loving smile that he exhaled, grinned at her gleefully and settled her in his lap, cuddling her firmly: “My office has always been my favorite place, but now …. you’re so wonderful …merci,” giving her a deep kiss. “What about dessert now?”

“Dessert?” Antonia raised her eyebrows in astonishment.

“Neuhaus’ new Marc de Champagne truffle ice cream… it’s in the small freezer – can you go get it?”

Playfully Antonia pulled his discarded t-shirt on to cover her modesty, slipped into her high heels and in model pose sashayed out the door. Returning with the ice cream, her eyes widened incredulously seeing Philip had arranged all big mattress cushions from his office couch on the floor, covered them with some blankets from Saskia’s studio and beckoned her to join him: “My desk is pretty good, but this is more comfortable… come here, I haven’t really finished my guitar session … and we still have some work to do.”

After they had eaten their ice cream, Philip got up and spread out several of the account sheets around them, pointed out a few more details to Antonia and continued to study others. Surveying him with tenderness as he lay sprawled on his belly, tagging some figures, the perfectly rounded globes of his buttocks inviting her to skate her fingers in arabesques across them, up over the shapely love handles, down to his big strong thighs, making Philip turn with a questioning smile: “This makes you really happy, doesn’t it? Office sex, financial fraud, good food and wine?”

“Is that totally perverted?” Philip turned pink with a small nod.

“There’s nothing wrong with a decent amount of perversion every now and then,” she reassured him, bending down for a kiss. “On the contrary, it’s very healthy and good for you.”

While Philip was still working away, Antonia snuggled against him and sometime, exhausted from the difficult tasks - knowing she had competent help for the financial mess she had to investigate and the warm gut feeling that everything would fall into place between Philip and her after all - fell into a deep sleep. The next thing she knew was hearing a loud shriek: “Mon Dieu, pardon Monsieur le directeur, excusez-moi, je n’ai pas été informé ….” as the cleaning lady found them curled together on the cushions of his office floor at 6:30 the next morning.


Although this total emotional high between Philip and her had only taken place three days earlier, Antonia applied lipstick and brushed her hair in front of her bathroom mirror getting ready for her dinner invitation with an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of her stomach. He had helped her with the first ad-hoc analysis of EAFR’s financial mess for the board, but she now hadn’t heard from him since yesterday noon – and today was her birthday. She had invited a small circle of friends over for dinner – Jan, Heather and Benedict, Katja from school in Germany and Laurent from university – preparing an elaborate Fondue chinoise with many home made dips and sauces as well as a Mango-Mascarpone ice cream cake for dessert.

Out of superstition, she had not announced Philip’s coming to her friends – icy disappointment churning in her insides by the time Jan was the last of the guests to arrive, who promptly asked in the hallway: “Is Philip in a better mood than yesterday? He was completely unapproachable, left at noon, Joanna mumbled something about already heading out for Christmas vacation in the Alps…”

“Yes, he left early, I can’t get away yet with all the mess I inherited at EAFR,” Antonia had to swallow very hard two times before forcing a smile. “Please go join the others at the dining table,” going into the kitchen to get the wine.

“Okay everybody, time to get started, you all know each other. Laurent, could you please light the réchaud? Here is a very drinkable Alsatian pinot gris, so why don’t you have a drink, help yourselves to the amuse gueles while I bring the platters from the kitchen….” turning quickly to go back in the kitchen.

“Birthday song first!” Heather insisted.

“No please, not now… birthday song with dessert, okay?” Antonia felt her voice crack hurrying away. Heather joined her in the kitchen: “What’s wrong dear? Where’s Philip?”

Taking a few deep breaths, squeezing her eyes shut to suppress the tears, she finally mumbled: “He’s already on Christmas vacation….”

“Well he should have waited the day until after your birthday party to leave!” Heather frowned. “What’s really wrong? The past weeks, you’ve had such mood swings. I’ve only seen you together with Philip that one time when he surprisingly picked you up from our girl’s movie night.”

“Everything’s fine. He just doesn’t like dinner invitations…”
Antonia tilted her head back to keep the tears from brimming out of her eyes.

“Well, this isn’t any dinner invitation – it’s your birthday party! That’s a time to set aside your preferences for someone you care for. You should talk to him about that, draw the line to such behavior.”

“For Chrissake – what do you want to hear Heather?” she snapped. “That you’ve been right about Philip all along? That his issues are really getting in the way of our relationship? That this is too big a piece for me to chew? Great, thanks for the information, that’s all I needed after this week and on my birthday!” this opening the floodgates, tears streaming over her cheeks.

Heather gently took her in her arms, soothingly stroked her head, murmuring: “It’s okay, let it out – these are rough times for you,” before she sat her down with a tissue, started taking the platters out and explaining quietly Antonia was exhausted from the EAFR finance disaster. Before Antonia rose to join the others, Heather hugged her: “You can talk to me anytime you want or need to. And if you think it’s a good idea, I’d be happy to try to talk to Philip, like from fatty to fatty. Maybe that would help.”

“Merci infinitivement, you’re such a good friend Heather.”

Afterwards Antonia had trouble remembering how she had survived the party, especially as Jan asked her in parting with a critical expression: “Is really everything okay with you and Philip?” leaving her to only nod energetically with closed eyes. As the door closed behind them, Antonia threw herself on her bed to lie there not doing or thinking anything for almost an hour.


continued in post #59
 

Tad

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Good luck with your project, and thank you for something to tide us over--it was delicious!
 

agouderia

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part 2 of chapter 11 - continued from post #57

It was not until two days later, in the afternoon that she received word from Philip, am SMS: “Happy belated birthday – I can’t tell you how sorry I am I missed it. Can you ever forgive me?” An hour later, a gigantic bouquet of deep pink roses, hideously expensive in December, along with a Magnum bottle of Moet&Chandon rosé champagne was delivered for her. The combination in the gesture of being extravagant yet impersonal aroused a sullen anger in her, making her have the flowers arranged in the office and not answer his text.

The next morning Antonia had another: “Please answer. I understand you’re angry. I wish I could explain. Please say you can forgive me.” – leaving her totally torn. On the one hand she was angry he didn’t call to apologize – on the other hand she sensed this was one of his desperate phases, making him help- and hopeless in communicating the actual problem.

The latter attitude won over in the course of the day, so she tried to call Philip on his mobile, only to receive “temporarily not available” a few times. In the evening, on impulse, she sat down with Google, racking her memory as to the name of the diet clinic on the letterhead last fall, remembering only Alpen, Kärnten and Schrotfasten. Finding a number of options, she cursed the Alpine lack of imagination in coming up with original names for clinics and resorts, but in the end could narrow her selection down to three.

Calling them, she struck gold at the second clinic, a concierge saying they had a Mr. Watherwood there, but it was after their calling hours so she could not put her through.

The next day in the early afternoon she tried again, this time to have a very hesitant concierge, whom she had to convince for 15 minutes in her best, most persuasive German to put her through to Philip’s room – in the end with success.

The phone rang twice before she heard Philip’s disgruntled: “Hello?” on the other end.

“Hello Philip – how are you?”

“Annnn-tonia? How did you get this number? Nobody has it…,” Philip’s voice went almost shrill. “How did you find out? Why did they put you through?”

“A little bit of memory, Google and the ability to sweet talk my way in German past a reluctant switch board.”

“Why did you call?”

“Well … to thank you for your birthday wishes. And somehow I have the feeling we have a few things to talk about…”

“You’re right, we have, or better I have,” Philip let out a deep sigh. “I know I have to apologize to you, I didn’t want to forget your birthday, but I don’t know how to explain .... can you believe me?”

“It’s okay Philip, I believe you are sorry, I’ll try to understand such things are difficult for you, don’t worry,” Antonia answered softly. “How long do you plan to stay down there in Carinthia?”

“Until January 8th.”

“You’re spending your entire Christmas vacation in a diet clinic?” she was shocked. “But Philip why? It’s Christmas and New Year – there couldn’t be a less fitting season… that’s truly masochistic…”

“I have to, I always do, there’s no other way. This was planned a long time, long before we … you can’t understand,” he sounded angry and defensive.

“I do my best to understand,” Antonia tried to keep her voice calm. “If you’re staying there so long, I could come for a few days? I’d love to spend Christmas with you. Maybe a little hiking in the snow together, or go skiing?”

“No, absolutely not… I can’t, you mustn’t… I can’t eat or do anything.. I’m hopeless here,” in an angry mutter.

“Philip – I promise I will not do anything to sabotage your program there. I just want us to be together, at least for some of the holidays. I’d love to come, bring you your Christmas present…”

“No Antonia, don’t … you can’t … I don’t want you to see me like this….”

“Philip, I want to see you no matter where and how, I lo…”

“No, don’t you dare come here! I don’t want to see you here! I will not meet you here!” Philip’s voice was filled with panic.

Antonia felt as if she had been punched in the stomach and gave up, saying flatly before she hung up: “Okay, have a good stay there, happy holidays and see you again maybe next year.”


As the huge tires of the large Air France Airbus started thundering over the runway at CDG, the force of the acceleration pressing Antonia into her seat, she stared outside into the gray winter day, completely at a loss as to what to make of her present situation and behavior. After she had hung up on Philip, she had cried herself to sleep, her head pillowed on Mère Bear – waking up the next morning with the resolve to do something good for herself.

In the meeting with her EAFR board, everybody quickly agreed that they would suspend all regular activities through mid February to fully investigate their finances, maybe even raise criminal charges against several former association members. Antonia convinced everybody to let her go through all files, taking them with her on two hard drives to a place where she could work on them in peace and quiet. Right afterwards, she informed her parents she was coming over the holidays and staying for a month to work – booking the cheapest fare she could find, taking the Thalys to Roissy and then the plane to Miami, asking to be picked up there. Despite not responding to two more helpless SMS from him, Antonia took the package with Philip’s Christmas present with her and mailed it from CDG’s airport post office after standing in front of it undecidedly for 40 minutes.

Fiddling with the complimentary on-flight entertainment system, her past year kept spooking through her mind. It had brought her the fulfillment of her most cherished ambitions – attaining an interesting position in the political sphere in Brussels at best paired with a wonderful big cute man at her side. Now she had both, but unfortunately they each came with the side dish she had never wanted: She was battling financial fraud and political blackmail in the job - and a boyfriend who constantly kept her emotionally and practically in limbo, disregarding her feelings.

Having witnesses disastrous relationship often enough among her friends, who laid out their entire lives to cater to the whims of their current male – only to be let down time and time again, their self-esteem, other friendships and often enough even careers suffering. Antonia had always sworn she would never end like that – and so far had done a good job evading those pitfalls. Her lack of patience had kept her from putting up with the typical forms of male scumbag behavior for longer than two weeks, making her end a number of relationships to avoid further damage. In hindsight though, these break ups had never caused her true grief, probably because no serious emotions had been involved.

For some reason, Philip was different: Maybe it was because she never had had to invest so much time and trouble in winning over a man before as she with him. He had touched something deep inside of her, an intensity of feeling for another person she had never thought she was capable of – making her bear inconsistent behavior that hurt her longer than she ever imagined. She was clueless as to where her sudden patience and willingness to compromise suddenly came from. True, Philip was a particularly adorable big boy specimen; but there had to be more to it. Sometimes she surmised it must have something to do with his profound unhappiness with himself – even without having a helper syndrome, she had the urge to help him find a way to the kind of real happiness for himself he was able to evoke in her time and again. But in the past days the nagging fear had grown stronger that her love and support would not be enough to let him leave the past behind him to accept himself as the big wonderful man he was.
 

agouderia

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Good luck with your project, and thank you for something to tide us over--it was delicious!
WOW! That's at least an Olympic medal for speed reading and replying! I didn't even have the chance to post the full chapter ... it's now below you're post. ;)
 

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