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

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Tad

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The great white north, eh?
Life mainly consists of ups and downs, doesn't it??

In Antonia's opinion, their story is over. She prefers a clear cut over trying to piece things back together, especially since she has lost faith in her ability and Philip's willingness to make him move forward in a positive way, while being afraid of her growing emotional dependance on his erratic affection.

So I guess that's the end ... isn't it?
I don't believe that you are that cruel! :eek:
 

atwolfe

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Life mainly consists of ups and downs, doesn't it??

In Antonia's opinion, their story is over. She prefers a clear cut over trying to piece things back together, especially since she has lost faith in her ability and Philip's willingness to make him move forward in a positive way, while being afraid of her growing emotional dependance on his erratic affection.

So I guess that's the end ... isn't it?
Somehow I have my doubts on that :)

This part had me trying to read through my tears, too :(

Poor, Antonia.........
After reading this latest installment, I believe it is tough on both sides; Antonia trying so hard to understand and being supportive but not really, truly knowing what he goes through, and Phillip, having had such a horribly, scarring childhood, not knowing how to accept himself for who he is.....

Nope, there is a lot more to this story ;)
 

ashblonde

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Allowing Antonia's anger with Phillip to boil over and manifest itself through sexual aggression and fat-related sadism is just so damn brilliant.

Ending the story here would be a brave choice - and no, not because we'd all rise up in rebellion - but because Phillip's brand of self hatred stems from parental child abuse, not just schoolyard teasing. He can't be so easily transformed, can he? This is not tidy like the typical BHM FFA romance story (me<---guilty) and for that reason, I can handle this que sera sera place we are now at.
 

shuefly pie

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Dear agouderia,

Ending this story at its climax would be cruel! Please tell me your just teasing us.

Signed,

Desperate in Dallas
 

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Dear agouderia,

Ending this story at its climax would be cruel! Please tell me your just teasing us.

Signed,

Desperate in Dallas
I second this thought. "Available in all Sizes" is awesome, and reading it has been a highlight in an otherwise stressful month. Please, please tell me there is more.
 

agouderia

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Hmmmh ....in my own self-perception, neither cruel nor brave would be adjectives I would credit myself with ;)

For a while I had thought about letting this story end with Antonia simply giving up - since relationships do end that way with one party walking away and refusing more contact, on grounds outside observers find difficult to understand. Also I get the impression that some readers might have fallen into the same trap as Antonia, seeing Philip mainly as the poor helpless underdog in their relationship, underestimating how he uses this role to his advantage.

I confess, though I've had a different ending written for quite a while which I now only revised - let's see if this one receives more popular support.

Thank you everyone for your patience with this lengthy novella, the many kind words and support over the entire process, it kept me motivated to finish it. Happy Holidays!
 

agouderia

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Epilogue - Part 15 - Plan A

“Open up, here comes a bite of one of the best dark chocolate cakes on planet earth, maybe even in this galaxy,” Antonia steered a spoon of “Les Brigittines” signature dessert towards Matteo’s plump lips, who willingly opened his mouth and closed his eyes with a slight moan of pleasure.

Si perfetto, just as fantastico as I remember it! Having lived in Belgium, I confess chocolate is the one weak point in Italian cuisine,” Matteo smiled at Antonia, who tilted her head thoughtfully: “In general you’re right, apart from ice cream. As you know, I’m convinced Tre Scalini’s “Tartuffo con panna” is among the top 10 chocolate things in the world. It’s so good to have you here again!” She leaned against him on the dark wooden bench fondly patting his enormous belly, which had moved somewhat closer to his knees since she had last seen him, while he laid his arm protectively around her.

Matteo had been Antonia’s first boyfriend when she came to Brussels &#8211; they had had a two year wonderful uncomplicated affair, both being new in town, he on a temporary posting from his regional administration in Emilia Romagna, enjoyed fine food, fun and EU politics together. With their very different plans in life, it had been clear that they would part ways again but had stayed good friends after he returned to Italy to eventually marry his high school sweetheart. Now he was back in town on a two week assignment for the Committee of Regions; Antonia was grateful to have him around to talk to, cook for, snuggle against for warmth &#8211;finding comfort in his light-hearted outlook on life and sympathetic ear.

In the past weeks she had made every effort to block Philip out of her life: She had been on business trips as much as possible, had her calls at EAFR screened, no longer took calls without caller ID, deleted Philip’s texts and e-mails instantly, aggressively rejected all attempts of Jan, Heather and even Jean-Luc to speak to her about him, even though they all tried extensively. Keeping as busy as she could, the main result of this was she had the constant uncomfortable feeling of having a festering hole in some part of her body that ached with longing every time she got too close to it.

She continued feeding Matteo the dark chocolate cake, now and then pinching his abundant flesh while he related in comic length the problems the Catalan regional radicals were causing, until he suddenly interrupted himself: “Pardon monsieur vous désirez?”

Antonia turned &#8211; only to look up into Philip’s plump face, scowling at them. The sad yet angry expression in his green eyes sent a painful sting of guilt through her. “Good evening Antonia how are you?”

“Good evening Philip.” Antonia sighed. “May I introduce: Philip Watherwood, CEO &#8216;signC’ Europe here in Brussels - Matteo Bertinotti, Regione Emilia Romagna.”

Matteo looked up in keen interest, scrutinized Philip critically, who looked very uncomfortable half bulging out of one of his biggest suits, telling Antonia he had gained weight: “Ah, the Englishman who was so hard on carissima Antonia here!”

“Per favore Matteo lascìa!” Antonia felt her face grow hot.

But Matteo continued, shaking his head: “The problem with you English, you don’t know what’s good in life &#8211; food, drink, style, women. You find a wonderful woman like Antonia- but you’re too stupid to see what a &#8216;tesoro’ you found. You do not do everything to hold her. “

“Pardon me? Stupid?” Philip bristled. “No adulterous Italian is telling me I’m stupid! You’re wearing a ring, so you’re married &#8211; who’s hurting Antonia here, leading her on?”

“Philip, apologize to Matteo this second!” Antonia said in dangerous quiet. “You’re completely misinterpreting the situation. Matteo and I are old friends. I need a true friend right now. It’s none of your business anyway!”

Philip blushed deeply, lowered his eyes mumbling: “Sorry.”

“Is there a better adjective in English than stupid for a man who will not see and take the best he could have in life?” Matteo asked.

Philip glared at him, shook his head, turned and walked away heavily.
Antonia closed her eyes, sank back against Matteo’s shoulder with a small moan, who gently stroked her hair murmuring: “Ecco- the problem in Brussels, you always meet the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time.”



The rain pattered against the window pane in dull monotony, a look outside was like a study on shades of gray. Antonia leaned her forehead against the frame, tried to convince herself to get going, at least get dressed to go out for normal staples shopping on this dreary Saturday morning. She had just answered Stefaan Pauwel’s text message, inviting her to a &#8216;Pankoken’ lunch in Leuven, with a polite &#8216;no thank you’. He had been intensely fawning over her ever since he found out about the break-up, but she had no intention of raising his hopes by letting him offer her an otherwise welcome, easy-going distraction. The awful weather was the perfect excuse to stay inside and mope around &#8211; doing nothing was what currently seemed most appealing. She keenly felt the void Philip had left in her life: Even though they never made it to a fully functional relationship he had occupied her intensely for a good year with work, emotions and worries. She missed him more than she even admitted to herself, talking to him, doing something for him, asking his opinion. And she craved his intense physical closeness, his unique aptitude at warming, calming and exciting her all at once. Now she needed to find something new, hopefully more achievable to obsess about, to get over him.

The inner door bell rang &#8211; probably her neighbor, who continuously forgot to buy her own coffee, so she grabbed her coffee tin, opened the door, only to see Philip, red in the face, breathing hard leaning against her doorframe, a large folding box in his hands.

“What are you doing here?”

“Can I come in?” Philip panted. “This box is slightly heavy! I had to carry it all the way up &#8211; your elevator broke down again.”

“If you have to. What on earth is in that box? Why are you here? I’m on my way out!” Antonia felt a strong unwillingness surge in her to re-start communication with Philip, who went into the kitchen setting the box on the table. Taking a closer look, Antonia was irritated to notice it contained a wide assortment of groceries. She stared at Philip taking off his backpack, his big belly heaving with labored breathing unpacking several “Pain Quotidien” parcels.

“Could I please have a glass of water and a cup of coffee before we start packing some things away?” he asked, not looking at her.

Mutely, Antonia handed him water and coffee to watch him gulp it down.
As he handed her a pack of French cheeses to put into the refrigerator, she shook her head: “I would like an explanation why you come here unannounced, against my explicit wish loaded with unasked for groceries before I start packing anything away.”

Philip sank heavily on a chair that creaked dangerously, hung his head with a bit longer hair, shaggy because of the humidity, fiddled with his hands, starting: “I wanted to…” before sighing deeply, shaking his head and getting back up, pulling Antonia, who went rigid, in a bear hug. He didn’t let go until Antonia said: “Philip &#8211; this does not answer my question.”

Looking at her through lowered lashes, he said quietly: “Please give me a last chance to act like a nice, normal bloke around you. There never has been anybody I wanted to be part of my life as strongly as I want you to be. I don’t want to, I don’t know how to live anymore without seeing you, talking to you, being with you, touching you, have you touch me…” ending in a helpless shrug.

“Why all of a sudden? Why do you come here like a, indeed, normal bloke on a weekend, go grocery shopping … like any regular, thoughtful guy? What did you have to drink this early in the day?” Antonia sighed, crossing her arms in front of her chest with an abrasive look, her defenses going up.

“I haven’t had a single drink since we met at &#8216;Les Brigittines’,” Philip’s voice was calmly determined, making Antonia exclaim in astonishment: “But that’s almost three weeks ago!”

“I had to think a few things through,” Philip eyed her from the side. “Drink isn’t my addiction, you know that. It’s food &#8211; here are 3kilos more in the past 3 weeks from compensating anxiety with too much chocolate,” sticking out his belly even further, patting it to Antonia’s intense surprise. “Want to feel how heavy it is?”

Antonia impulsively stretched out her hands, only to pull them back, clasp them behind her back in the last moment: “Oh no, you know I can’t resist, but you won’t get me that way! What did you need to think about since we had that meeting I would choose to forget?”

Philip took a deep breath folding his hands over his belly: “When I saw you with this Italian bloke having dessert in the restaurant, I was so jealous. You both seemed so happy, content, enjoying yourselves - he’s even fatter than I am. It looked so easy, I realized it could, it should be me sitting there, being fed and petted by you, not caring if everybody sees I’m a fat man who likes eating.”

“What made you realize that? Why can you suddenly talk about all of this? I’ve never heard you call yourself &#8216;fat’ before &#8211; you’ve only made vague references to your weight before when you were more or less drunk!”

Philip looked at her candidly: “I’m seeing that therapist you sent Saskia to for overcoming her shyness. And I met Heather and Benedict at the College of Europe Bruges Alumni event yesterday evening.”

Antonia’s eyes almost popped out of her head: “You went to Solange? Why?”

“Now that’s a surprising question,” Philip grinned at her faintly for the first time. “I thought you were convinced I need therapy badly…” making Antonia blush and not meet his eye. “Please Toni, can we put away this first &#8211; there’s Marcolini crème brulée ice cream in here.” Antonia shrugged undecidedly, packed away fruit, vegetables, a chicken, ice cream, anything he handed her.

“Would you like another coffee?” Antonia asked, pouring him one as he nodded. “We might as well go over to sit in the living room.”

Philip shuffled his feet a bit in front of the couch looking under himself: “Can you sit here next to me? It’s easier for me to explain if I don’t ….- I can’t stand the situation of someone sitting across from me, observing me, talking about personal matters, it brings back terrible memories. Please?”

Antonia sighed, settled next to him, hanging on tightly to her favorite Berlin bear coffee mug. Philip immediately wrapped his arm around her, in the process tentatively slipping it the gap of her bath robe, sliding it around her waist, brushing over her naked skin, making small shivers run down her spine.

Burying his face in her hair Philip murmured: “You understand I’m unable to talk about myself, my feelings, my weight. But I have to. Try to get one last chance. I know nobody has cared as much for me as you have &#8211; not even my own family. Nobody has ever accepted me as overweight as I am. I can’t comprehend why you do, why you even seem to like me being this … heavy. But I don’t have to understand it. It’s enough if I am simply very grateful for it. And that I in turn have to learn to live with myself so I can openly, consistently show you that you mean everything to me.”

“Why are you telling me this now? What made you go to Solange? What did Heather say? Can you imagine this is difficult for me because I’m in the process of closing the book of Philip?” Antonia sighed, yet set down her coffee mug to slip her cold hands in automatic mode under Philip’s sweater to warm them, running them under his soft belly overhang, making him inhale sharply, finally nestling them in the folds over his love-handles resting her head against his fleshy chest. Philip held her tight breathing an almost imperceptible sigh of relief.

“Seeing you and this Matteo showed me I had no more time to lose.” Philip lightly nuzzled her neck. “You might find a new guy any day, somebody who immediately recognizes that you are the best that could happen to him. Matteo calling me stupid &#8211; and being right about it was what hurt the most.”

“Stupid? It hurt you Matteo called you stupid?” Antonia sat up, incredulously.

Philip shrugged: “It sounds odd &#8211; that was the worst. Nobody has ever called me stupid. My feeling of self-worth has always been founded on my confidence in my intellectual abilities, my academic credentials &#8211; that’s my anchor. I’m used to people calling me fat, tubby, porky, lard-ass, glutton, undisciplined, repulsive, gross, whale, what have you &#8211;even though it still cuts deep into life-long wounds every time, I’m not able to brush it off. My consolation has always been that I knew I not only have a bigger belly, but also more brains. That’s what kept my head above water, so to say. Now someone shows me I’m plain stupid because I do not try to understand or make a serious effort. I went to Solange the next day after I talked to Jean-Luc.”

“Why did you talk to Jean-Luc?”

“He’s known me longer than anybody else here has. In his very discreet, reticent manner, he’s always been a good, reliable friend for me.”

“What did Jean-Luc say then?” Antonia asked as Philip didn’t continue.

“I asked him whether he too thought I was stupid.” Philip gave her half a crooked grin. “He answered that he actually thought I was unbelievably stupid &#8211; even worse that he had seriously lost respect for me. He said I hadn’t matured emotionally at all since he met me in college &#8211; and that was an extremely poor showing for someone with my intellectual potential. You know Jean-Luc’s cool, quiet voice &#8211; when he says things like that, it stings worse than if someone shouts at you. Then he asked me how I would judge him if he spent his life whining about the fact that he was short and bald and hadn’t married his wife because of that. He wouldn’t let me try to explain &#8211; he said blaming everything on my weight and the awful way my mother treated my size was slowly getting grotesque at my age. That I now was in the process of losing the love of my life, the woman with whom I could be really happy, over my obstinate refusal to develop adult coping mechanisms. It was long overdue that I came to terms with myself &#8211; and that did not mean having weight loss surgery, but developing some auto- emotional intelligence. Then he simply ended: &#8216;If you’ll now excuse me, I have a meeting with our CEO and head accountant,’ curtly letting me know that was all he was willing to discuss with me in private. Right afterwards I looked up Solange’s number, called her for an appointment. After all, her work with Saskia has been pretty successful- it was the best I could think of on short notice.”

Antonia was too confused to say anything, quietly rubbed his soft round stomach mound, which let out a hungry growl: “You didn’t have breakfast as usual, right? Do you…”

“Yah,… too nervous about talking to you,” Philip cut her short. “Now I want to finish what I have to say …. then it would be wonderful if we could make lunch together with some of the things I brought. I’m starved for your cooking. Afterwards I would enjoy a nap on the most comfortable bed I know, if possible with you in my arms.”

Antonia looked at him in amazement. “Okay, I know you like my cooking. I always was pretty sure you enjoyed our love-making &#8211; no matter how reluctant you were about admitting it. But from some point onward you inexplicably rejected my bed, although you had at first said how comfortable it was.”

Philip let out a small moan hiding his face in his hands: “That was because I discovered the special construction of your bed &#8211; the normal and the heavy duty frame and mattress under the joined mattress cover. I wanted to buy one for myself, because it indeed is the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in. I was so embarrassed when I found out what kind of set up it is.”

“But why Philip, why?” Antonia let out a groan of frustration. She pulled Philip’s hands from his face, looking him in the eyes. “It’s normal to physically need certain products, sizes, whatever. Everybody is different. Look at me, I’m almost blind without thick glasses or contacts! But why should I hate contact lenses because of that? After all, they help me. You see negative and critical things that objectively don’t even exist! My cousin and her husband, they’re 60 kg and 85 kg, they have the same bed with two different frame/ mattress sets. It’s the orthopedic concept of the bed to make everybody as comfortable as possible by taking into account even small differences in height, weight and build! I have this bed because I love having a big cuddly guy in it &#8211; and want him to feel great when being in it with me. I don’t want a 75 kg skinny herring! Why can’t you simply see it as something that’s good for you?”

Taking a deep breath, Philip cradled her close. “You couldn’t be more right. I’m trying to learn to see that. Rationally I know that, but emotionally I’m not able to relate positively or even realistically to anything that has to do with me being fat &#8211; which unfortunately is an awful lot in life. That’s the core of my problem says Solange. Do you know what she made me do? She asked me to write a list of all moments in which I had felt physically content, comfortable in my body. Only terrible episodes came to mind. So I wrote those down, try to exorcize them, talked to her the next day…” Philip paused, picked up his coffee pot to drain it.

“What did Solange do with your negative list?”

“She took only one glance tore it up and threw it away,” Philip chuckled lightly, making Antonia woozy with pleasure as she felt his abundant belly vibrate against her. “She said constantly wallowing in negative memories was not going to get me anywhere; they’re overbearing anyhow. She sat me down, prodded my memory, got me to write a positive list. What came up as the most content physical moment in my life, when I had felt happiest with myself and my body?” looking Antonia deeply in the eye until she shrugged her shoulders: “No idea.”

“The first morning I woke up here in your bed &#8211; I had slept so well, was physically so satisfied… then you came with that wonderful breakfast tray, we had more sex, showered together...,” Philip kissed her softly, longingly on her temple. “I felt fantastic that day, like I could finally start a normal happy life &#8211; until I got home where I saw the scale in my bedroom. That immediately made me feel guilty, like I had no right to feel good about myself. And when I got on, it telling me I was fatter again, I was all miserable, inadequate once more, like I was being duly punished for feeling too good about myself…

“Funny, I’d always thought the situation you felt best about yourself would have been the EAFR-finance disaster sex we had in your office…”

Philip laughed: “That came in second. That was fabulous, you, great sex, good food, wine and really messed up finances &#8211; all my favorite things in life in one parcel. Almost everything about me feeling content, comfortable with myself has to do with you. Do you want to squeeze my fat roles?”

“Excuse me?”

“Well … I understood you want to grab and squeeze my fat, that it’s a pleasure for you &#8211; while anybody pinching into my flesh is one of my phobias. I have to overcome them. You’re the best person, because I fully trust you mean it as something positive, so please do.” Philip guided Antonia’s hand to where his belly was overhanging his belt and willed her to squeeze it.

Inadvertently Antonia dug her hand in deep, instantly tingling with desire, automatically letting her other hand wander up his fleshy side in kneading motions. She could feel he had put on quite a bit of weight over their break up, he was softer, rounder to touch and she reveled in his more pronounced roles and bulges. Losing herself in the physical sensations she reached up for a kiss to which he quickly responded by teasing her with his tongue, pulling her tightly into his body with his meaty arms.

As his hand touched her naked breast, caressing it, she jumped back as if scorched, pulled out her hands, untangled herself from his embrace to settle next to him and wrap her arms around her knees, breathing deeply a few times to regain her composure. “No Philip, no, stop it. Whatever physical insecurities you might have, you know full well I have trouble resisting you. Your warm strong softness turns me on far too much &#8211; I can’t keep my hands to myself or think straight. You’re far too intelligent to not have noticed that, actually I think you’ve been exploiting my weakness to your advantage over the past months. This is no way to start over it’s just sliding down the same muddy, rocky slope once more.”

Blushing guiltily, Philip gave her a naughty smirk: “Pleading innocent might suffer from lack of credibility! Apart from the fact that I’m mad about touching you, I noticed you probably feel the same way about me. After I had convinced myself my imagination wasn’t deluding me, I admit to having used this to my advantage. You’re not angry, are you?”

“No, it’s as much my fault as yours. And all is fair in love and war,” Antonia sighed, frustrated with herself that she had let herself literally get wrapped up in Philip again so quickly, against her resolve, while his stomach let out another loud hungry protesting growl. Standing up, she gave his belly a reassuring pat: “Okay, we need to change the order of things. It’s past 12h00, I’m getting dressed then I’m going to cook you lunch, you need healthy nourishment. You can talk to me while I cook.”

Antonia went into her bedroom, pulled out a simple empire line lilac sweat-dress and after some pondering did put on the matching lace bra and French knickers underneath, purposefully refusing to acknowledge why she chose these. Pulling her hair into a pony tail, she put on contacts and went into the kitchen.

Checking the supplies Philip had brought, Antonia quickly cut a few slices of multi-grain baguette, spread them with olive paste, tomato, mozzarella or apple, camembert, walnut, grilling them and handing them to Philip on a small plate together with a few vegetable cuts: “To tide you over while I cook. As a quick fix: how about radicchio risotto and as salad mache Nantaise with marinated champignons and seasoned ham?”

“Thank you, I’m really hungry. Menu suggestion sounds perfect,” Philip took the plate adding with a wry smile, “You love being in charge, don’t you? You’re not really comfortable if you can’t control the situation?”

Antonia took a few deep, gulping breaths and chopped shallots furiously for a few minutes before answering: “You’re right … one of my faults probably is that I’m obsessed with doing things my way, often thinking too late what this might mean for others. I’m immensely afraid of losing my independence &#8211; in every respect. That’s also why I have doubts about us starting over ….or finally starting a real relationship, whichever way you want to see it. I’m worried I would impose things on you again, making you start to evade me if you’re not comfortable with it….What really hurt me, made me realize our case is probably hopeless was that you once compared me to your mother…” wiping some tears off her cheek which followed readily from onions and emotions.
 

agouderia

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Philip stepped next to her, carefully dabbed her cheeks with a tissue and lightly stroked her back, saying softly: “I regret that most because it’s so awfully wrong. You only have one thing in common with my mother &#8211; you both told me what you think I should do. But while my mother put unbearable pressure on me to change ….,” he swallowed very hard, unable to finish his sentence, before he inhaled and continued: “You’ve only been incredibly loving, tolerant, supportive and patient; I cannot tell you how patient you’ve been. Everything you did, bought, made me do was nothing but good for me. You encouraged me to live a normal life being as big and fat as I am… in some ways, I’m much more near-sighted than you are, because I refused to see that. All I hope for is you have some of that tolerance, support, love and patience left for me.”

Not knowing what to say, Antonia started cutting the fresh mushrooms into their marinade before she set to cleaning and washing the salad. Philip’s massive physical presence next to her was making her uneasy, so she gently asked: “Would you mind sitting down at the table? The counter here is a tight fit, I’m afraid of spilling something all over you.”

Continuing to stir the risotto while washing and arranging the salad, she glanced over at Philip fleetingly every now and then. Despite him being as heavy and handsome as ever, she observed a few subtle differences that appealed to and cautioned her simultaneously: His increased girth wrapped itself thickly around him, the big mounded belly pushed his legs apart &#8211; new was that he leaned back instead of hunching over, his powerful shoulders in line with his thick thighs, making him look broader, adding an air of command to his appearance, while he as accustomed let his elegant fingers dance over the table. He no longer seemed like the plump cuddly teddy she had fallen in love with, this was more a big strong bear, biding his time to catch her with a strike of his paw like a hapless trout. Corresponding was the unfamiliar line of determination in his chubby jaw and the challenging spark in the usual eager, adoring look in his green eyes.

To end the uncomfortable silence, with only the background noise of running water and blubbering risotto, she asked: “You mentioned you met Heather, what did she say?”

“She said two things &#8211; one of them brought me here today. First she said what she had told me several times already: That it’s my job to find out how I can be comfortable with myself, how I can handle being fat. That nobody can do that for me, not even you and that it was long overdue I tackled that.” Philip interrupted himself by drinking some water and eating three olives. “Second she told me that you still love me, I better hurry up getting back to you, prove to you that I’m working on my issues, as she says. She’s never seen you love any other guy as much as me, invest so much &#8211; I must make the most of that before it’s gone.”

“Tattle tale,” Antonia muttered indignantly. “So much for best friends! What makes her come to the conclusion I might still love you?”

“Heather said you refused to talk about me. She said that only happened when something was very important and sensitive for you, when you were not over someone or an incident yet.” Antonia felt her cheeks burn and furiously grated parmesan before frying the small cubes of seasoned ham and sprinkling them over the salad she placed before Philip.

“Would you like some white wine with lunch?”

Philip shook his head slowly, inhaled, and then said in a small voice: “I want to be honest with you Toni. It’s the only way things will hopefully work between us again. You asked whether I had anything to drink because I can talk about my weight and such…. well I didn’t. But I did take one of these light anti-anxiety pills Solange prescribed for days like these. They’re supposed to help keep my stress level manageable when I have to face situations, topics, words I dread &#8211; let me stay calm enough to think rationally, not overreact in physical panic. They’re part of the initial phase of the therapy; to see some progress before we move on to other, non pharmaceutical methods of stress relief. It’s considered unsafe to have alcohol with them, so I’m staying off drink.”

“Okay. But I poured a shot of wine into the risotto, is that a problem?”

“No, of course not. That’s very little and it’s cooked.”

Antonia leaned her head against the kitchen cupboard, closed her eyes and gulped silently. Philip’s confession made her awash with two wildly conflicting emotions. His words had sent burning hot love and pity flooding over her, knowing if she turned around now, looked at him, the next thing would be she’d be back in his arms, hugging and kissing him, telling him she loved him and would do anything to make his therapy work, make him and her happy. On the other hand, the idea of a serious, medicated therapy intimidated her because she had little confidence in her abilities at handling such a situation, icy fear trickling down into her stomach. She knew she was good, caring and supportive with normal everyday problems, but she felt awkward and incompetent around real medical issues, had always left these to her little sister.

Noticing she had been manically stirring the parmesan into the risotto, she quickly added the radicchio with a final few turns and then gave Philip a plate, who had already eaten over half his salad. “Mmmmh, delicious as always, nobody makes as good a risotto as you do, I never order it in restaurants anymore because I’m disappointed every time,” he rolled his eyes and quickly spooned down a few big bites.

“Thank you,” Antonia murmured and tried to get her constricted throat to swallow a spoonful herself. “And thank you for being so open and telling me this. It’s very brave of you.”

“Don’t know whether brave is the right word,” he shrugged. “It’s more a mixture of desperation and determination.”

“Desperation and determination? In which sense?”

“You breaking up with me left me pretty much in despair, can’t you imagine that?” he looked at her openly while she couldn’t look back, just nodded, shrugged and blushed all in one. “Yet I was determined to get you back. You’re the most wonderful person I’ve ever met, for once I couldn’t simply run away from a difficult situation because then I’d never get another chance. Even if it’s hopeless, I want to make a serious effort, not have to blame myself later for not at least trying. The only thing was I didn’t really know where to start.”

Philip finished off his plate of risotto at high speed. “Would you like a second helping? You don’t need to tell me anything if you don’t feel comfortable with it, I understand it’s difficult.”

“Thank you, more risotto is more than welcome. No, I want to tell you about … well … about what I’m working on so we might have a second, or is it a third chance. You always told me I should talk about everything. Solange says the same; she wants me to talk about myself. She put up with me writing down things because I couldn’t say them at first. We spent my entire tenth session practicing me saying: I am fat. It is okay that I am fat. It took me over half an hour to say the sentence straight for the first time.”

“Pauvre chéri, pauvre chéri,” Antonia murmured, stroking through his hair before sitting down.

“Do you know what &#8211; it’s easier for me talking to you than to Solange. You always listened so patiently, even to the things I couldn’t say. You’d hold me when you tried to make me talk, that made it seem so much safer. You’re the first person to ever give me the idea I might be not be a failure. There actually were days, like when we were together in Rome, or in Paris, or our last days in Florida when you made me forget that I’m an &#8216;Untermensch’ as you say in German because I’m fat. I was simply content to be myself and to be with you.”

“I tried to show you that you have every right and reason to feel good about yourself… seldom got the feeling with any success.”

“The thought was alien to me all my life. Growing up the only message was: Nothing is worth anything if you are fat &#8211; being thin is the only thing that matters. It was not only my parents, at school, doctors, society in general does not make growing up and living as a fat person an uplifting experience,” his voice was full of bitterness. “My mistake only was I had imbibed this belief so strongly, I couldn’t see beyond it, develop my own set of criteria for assessing a situation, something I’m normally good at when it isn’t about me. I let my mother’s paradigm guide and judge my life long after it no longer was adequate in any respect, except for making me feel miserable.”

In the meantime, Philip had finished his risotto and salad, while Antonia was still picking at hers. “Hey, you’re not eating; you should finish your risotto.”

“No, I’m fine, I had a late breakfast. Do you want to finish it, as well as my salad?” she indicated at the two small, barely touched portions.

“Hmmmmh, I never should, but I would like it. It’s my first meal of the day, it’s healthy, it tastes fabulous, so give it to me,” Philip sighed, and then smirked at her. “You know how much I weigh, don’t you?”

“No, I don’t … and I don’t need to know,” Antonia muttered blushing.

“Of course you do. Your calculation on my first day at &#8216;signC’, when you set Franck’s estimate in stone right in kilograms, was within the margin of statistical error. I actually thought you must be good with numbers at that point,” grinning at her fondly, making Antonia utter a muffled groan of embarrassment. “So, how much do I weigh today?” Philip leaned back comfortably, stuck out his belly and patted it, but Antonia shook her head, only briefly looking up. “Antonia, please, show me the only calculation you seem to be good at.”

To her surprise, his eyes were teasing so she mumbled: “About 20% more. Sizing is the only type of calculation I can handle.”

“Again within the margin of statistical error &#8211; I might be able to teach you numbers after all,” he patted his belly again. “That’s one thing you taught me, being fat is easier to bear if you regularly pat your belly, it’s soothing and calming, before you started doing it, I never dared. Despite that number, my first decision was I would no longer pursue weight loss surgery to win you back.”

“Why did you ever think that would help win me back?”

“As I said, that belief had determined my life until now. After you had scorned me for it and literally everybody I talked to about it said it was the wrong approach, Solange, Traudl, Jean-Luc, even Wouter…”

“You talked to Wouter about weight-loss surgery?” Antonia’s voice went high-pitched in surprise.

“Well, not directly. On the first Thursday I was in Antwerp with the band after you breaking up with me, I got drunk, I mean drunk. Wouter noticed something was wrong, he’s a good guy, all in all ….so hmmm… he got me to tell what happened. And I told him I was flying to Baltimore to research weight loss surgery to win you back. He shook his head that would be the measure least likely to win you back. Instead he said I should think about what you had said, what I should do, what would be good for me… follow that path.”

“Pewh, now I’m full,” Philip had cleaned Antonia’s plates; leaned back even further, rubbed the big curve of his tummy. “Do you maybe have an espresso?”

“Naturalmente. With a spoon of sugar and a shot of milk?”

“Yes please. After I sobered up, Wouter’s words set me thinking. Before starting a business you collect all information you can get regarding its success chances. Should all different sources you tap into &#8211; no matter under which aspects they study your case &#8211; tell you that your business will most likely fail, naming similar reasons, then it’s not worth starting it. Whoever I had talked to &#8211; my physicians here and in Britain, Traudl, you, Solange, Jean-Luc, Heather &#8211; everybody said I would most likely not get the desired results. In addition, I’ve never had surgery before &#8211; I’m afraid as shit of actually being operated on. So I gave up on the idea. It’s the first time I applied my business knowledge to my own life.”

He looked at her expectantly and she showed a small smile: “I’m honestly relieved to hear that. So you decided to go to Solange instead?”

“I made that decision a little before I saw you in the restaurant. I was totally at a loss what to do at that point in time. Then I met you and this Matteo … yah, and that made me go to Solange.”

A leaden silence followed in which Philip finished his espresso, took Antonia’s hands into his, lightly rubbing and kissing them. “Chopin misses you and the polar bear family so much. He refuses to sit anywhere in my flat except on my bed - and there only on your pillow.”

Tears started dropping out of Antonia’s eyes, making her blink hard and stare out the window, before she choked out: “What do you expect from me? It can’t be a good idea going through all this therapy because of me!”

“Toni chérie, it’s not only because of you. You and hopefully soon again us is only one reason I’m doing it. Where I come from, therapy is still not considered to be serious medical science; it’s something for wimps and at best women. Seeing how Saskia has been developing in a very positive way for herself, her career and &#8216;signC’ as a company has shown me that there might be more to it. Let me get you a tissue,” he got up and lumbered back from the bathroom with a box of tissues in his hand, rubbing Antonia’s back while she blew her nose. “I’m doing it for myself. I’m tired of feeling rotten all the time, of being afraid of everyday situations. I don’t know whether I’ll ever reach a normal weight, I mean, I’ve never been below 120 kgs in my adult life for long. But I finally would like to have a state of mind that corresponds to my actual circumstances.”

“Circumstances?”

“Well, you always told me I have a good life &#8211; I do, especially as long as you are part of it. You Americans have the right to the &#8216;pursuit of happiness’ &#8211; but for my old world self, happiness is too big a word. Your Kraut-part probably understands that better, since you Krauts are champions at having &#8216;Angst’ and being unhappy, genuinely reveling in those lousy feelings. So, simply being proportionately content would be good.”

“That’s a good goal,” Antonia sniffed and nodded. “Ja, Angst … that’s part of what I feel now. Angst … because I don’t know how to patch a relationship back up. Angst … I might not be able to help you in with your therapy, might do something wrong, not have the necessary patience. Angst…. we might have all the love, but no real trust in each other anymore &#8211; after all, I’ve run out on you twice. You’ve made me happier as well as unhappier than any other guy. You’re the most loving, considerate man I know &#8211; and at the same time you can be the most unapproachable and unreliable. It’s also Angst … that I can’t handle our emotional ups and downs anymore.”

“Toni, I know I’ve not done my part in our relationship &#8211; what I’m asking for is the chance to show you I can learn to do it. I can’t promise you miracles, all I can promise is I’ll try my very best,” he clasped his hands around hers. “I’ve seen couples get back together were much worse breaches of trust happened … be realistic, is there really that much mending necessary in our case? Don’t we still have enough of a common ground to concentrate on the future &#8211; like in any good business, where the prospects count?”

Antonia shrugged, shaking her head and nodding in small uncoordinated movements before murmuring: “This is a new idea for me, I was just trying hard to forget you. I need some time to think about it, maybe see how you manage with your therapy, how I might fit in. Please, give me some time.”

“Of course you can have some time. I came today because of what Heather had said &#8211; and because I’m leaving tomorrow for 10 days in Asia, business trip with Craig and the US colleagues to check several new manufacturer options.”

“Do you want me to take in Chopin while you’re gone?” this came out without thinking, making her blush.

“Is that a serious offer?” a sweet wondrous smile of surprise made the dimples appear in Philip’s round cheeks.

“Why not? Why should the poor kitty suffer because we’re at odds? I can do my business on day trips, come back from places like London and Düsseldorf in the evening, in that time period.” Antonia tried to sound as nonchalant and uninvolved as possible. “Would you like another espresso?”

“You’ll have a very happy cat here &#8211; and I’m very grateful. I’d prefer a cappuccino now, if that’s possible.”

“Sure. I’m sorry, I don’t have any real dessert, don’t make them for myself only. Do you want me to fix something? A plate of fruit?”

Philip shook his head. “I’m no longer trying to diet; Solange said therapy with medication would be stressful enough without a diet. That’s generally her approach, find ways to reduce unnecessary pressure, concentrate on relevant things. So two days ago &#8211; on her advice - I threw out my scale and all clothing that doesn’t fit me right now. After all - there is nothing easier in our business than getting new clothes &#8211; is there?”
Antonia grimaced and nodded, making Philip grin slightly. “Looks like you’re currently getting more samples than even you can handle. Solange also advised to play piano an hour a day, she said that probably was best for me; it would save us a lot of time and trouble finding new means to decompress further on. One part of the therapy naturally is learning to listen to what my body needs, eat three healthy meals a day until I’m full, satisfied, not stuffed &#8211; that does mean a lot of food, you know my appetite. Can we maybe go for cake, or so later, I loved that with you in the afternoons?”

“Here’s the cappuccino. Solange’s approach sounds very good and sensible. But what about your therapy if you’re gone for ten days now?”

“You don’t believe I’m serious?” he sighed wearily. “In the past three weeks, I’ve done the initial round of 20 therapy sessions. Normally that’s done in a clinic, but I couldn’t get away, also I’m done with clinics in this life. And I preferred Solange as a therapist. For my business trip I’m scheduled 5 telephone sessions with her as well as made sure I can play piano in every hotel for an hour at the bar. When I get back I’ll continue going twice a week for a minimum of six months, and then we’ll determine the interval to the end of the twelve month period. Is that good enough for you?”

“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to be critical…. I do get the feeling you’re serious…”

“Toni &#8211; what’s really the problem? Do you already have another guy?” She shook her head violently, sending her pony-tail flying. “No, of course not, no!”

“You say that you still care for me, and our problems are solvable. Why do you worry so much about whether you’ll fit into my therapy? That’s borderline absurd - I know nobody better than you to help me. You’re the best eating therapist I’ve ever had. Remember last summer? When you were still at &#8216;signC’ and we were revising the strategy &#8211; shit, that seems centuries ago! You’d take care of our meals; I’d eat only the food you’d prepare since we had such long days. And it worked for me &#8211; you had such a fabulous variety of dishes, nice portions, I didn’t feel I needed anything else. I didn’t lose much weight, but I didn’t gain any either &#8211; and when I got to Alpsee on summer holiday, I had a very good blood test; Traudl praised my better eating habits. That’s one reason I was so shocked when you left &#8216;signC’ as I came back….”

Tears were welling up again in Antonia’s eyes, so she got up and started to clear the table, stack the dishes into the dishwasher, half muttering under her breath: “I never had the impression I was getting anywhere meaningful with my efforts to support you, make you feel good ….”

“I didn’t understand what was really good for me, what I needed. So I couldn’t show you how much everything you did means for me.” Philip sighed, once gain had the so familiar look of helpless discomfort in his eyes. “Don’t look at me like that! Don’t be so defeatist! Don’t think I’m not worried too this therapy will be another failure &#8211; that I’ll never be able to handle food half-way normally. I’ve always loved to eat, had a big appetite, here in Belgium I learned a lot about good food … but there’s also … well… food was always &#8216;bad’, made me fat, was forbidden… I’m absolutely f***ed up as far as that goes.”

“Philip, I think this therapy with Solange is a realistic and helpful approach, but as you said yourself, it’ll need time, patience, work, overcoming set-backs.” Antonia once again felt love and tenderness battling the fear of history repeating in her. “What makes me a bit uneasy is well … it’s so absolute again… it’s … how can I say … what’s your plan B?”

“Plan B?”

“Yes, plan B. You’re plan A is to go to therapy in combination with &#8211; if I understood you correctly &#8211; of us getting back together. But what if I say &#8216;no’ definitely, what do you do then, what’s the plan B for that situation?”

Looking shell-shocked, Philip had the expression she knew so well, the one he mostly had before he bolted out of the room. Now he stood in the middle of the kitchen, hung his head and took a few very deep breaths before he looked up at her uneasily. Yet the streak of determination in his jaw line was back as he shook his head: &#8216;I don’t have a plan B. I don’t want to need a plan B. I don’t know what I’ll do if you say no. I’d probably not stay here in Brussels. Maybe I would have the bariatric surgery done and then start over somewhere else, differently…. Are you just giving me the definite &#8216;no’?”

“No, no, no &#8211; that’s not what I meant,” Antonia couldn’t stop shaking her head. Philip yawned and rubbed his eyes to step behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist, cradling her breasts from below, pressing himself against her so she leaned comfortably into his big pillow of a belly, resting his head on her shoulder, swaying her slightly in keeping his balance. Closing her eyes, she was overwhelmed by the customary feeling of being loved and protected, her body telling her it wanted to stay in this embrace forever. “There must be more to a relationship than perfect physical harmony, Philip! You know you can get me to jump out the window, do anything for you when you hold me like this… but that’s not enough as a foundation….”

“Solange seems to disagree with you &#8211; she was seriously shocked to hear we had no problems whatsoever with physical relations…”

“She was shocked we have sex?”

“Present tense?” Philip’s eyes lit up, while Antonia turned beet red and shook her head again. “No &#8211; when we talked about when I had felt comfortable with my body, she was extremely surprised it was often related to actual physical relations with you &#8211; she said this was very unusual, mostly that's the last step in developing a positive body image. But it showed that you must be a very loving, sensitive women; the ideal match for me. And that it increased my chances of developing an overall realistic self-image tremendously if this aspect did not need to be worked on.” He yawned again and leaned heavier on her.

“That’s all good and well, but we can’t spend our life together in bed. We have demanding stress full jobs, two households, diverging social lives, I have family on the other side of the Atlantic….,” Antonia twisted herself out of his embrace. “Maybe all these factors also got in our way, may not be the adequate fit for a relationship between us…”

“That’s part of plan A…” Philip tried to stifle another yawn.

“You’re pretty tired, aren’t you?”

“Ummmhugh, didn’t sleep very well in the past days, thinking too hard about what to tell you… and these pills do make me a bit sleepy…”

“I need to think about a few things you said in peace and quiet too. Why don’t you go take that nap in my bed while I bake us a cake? It’s still pouring outside, so no fun going out &#8211; and I have a new recipe for a Venetian apple cake with orange marmalade and Grand Marnier I want to try out.”

“Don’t bother Toni, that’s too much work. Or do you want me to help you? And I still have a few things we need to talk about… that was not all…”

“Let me first digest what you told me on my own,” she gently shoved him out of the kitchen into her bedroom, where she pulled out his set of bedding and quickly put on fresh cases. “You rest while I bake. Baking is therapeutic for me, like playing the piano for you. It’s creative, it’s a manual activity, but I can let my mind wander and sort itself out.”

He started to undress, shyly as always turning away from her. Wanting to respect his privacy, she went back towards the kitchen: “Philip, only one thing. Please give me the actual physical space and distance to think things through as long as I need to. Please don’t try to coerce cuddle me back to you, okay?”
 

agouderia

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After putting the Venetian apple cake into the oven, setting the timer Antonia wandered into her bedroom, stood at the foot of her bed watching Philip sleep. He looked so peaceful, so adorable, his long lashes on his rosy round cheeks, his hair tumbled, his belly &#8211; more expansive than she had ever seen it &#8211; spread out fully relaxed, softly rising and falling in the rhythm of his breathing, his boxers had slipped down a little showing a ready to grab portion of soft ass cheek. Feeling emotionally drained, she craved nothing more than to snuggle up and fall asleep, but resisted since this would definitely lead to her giving in to him again. Despite knowing it would be best to go lie down on the sofa, she curled up on the far end of her side of the bed to take a short nap until the cake timer rang.

Antonia woke with a start, fearing her cake had burned smelling warm baking in her apartment. The warmth she felt was not the oven, but she was half draped around Philip, cheek pillowed against one of his fleshy man breasts, her arm over his belly mound and one leg flung across his thick thighs, secure in the nook of his arm.

“My cake… why’m lying like this?” she mumbled drowsily, struggling to sit up.

“Shhh, it’s okay, the timer rang but you didn’t wake up. I took the cake out of the oven and set it out on the grid to cool. Was that right?”

“Uughh huh,” Antonia stretched a bit, an uneasy mix of physical comfort and mental discomfort rising in her. “Why am I in your arms again?”

Philip chuckled, intensifying the feeling of physical comfort as his flab quivered under her. “I can’t answer the why question; you have to answer that for yourself. But I can tell you how. After you didn’t wake up when the timer rang, I went for the cake. As I got back into bed, you rolled over and snuggled against me shivering. Thought it was my duty to warm you,” lacing his other hand with hers on his belly, squeezing it gently.

Moaning, Antonia pinched his belly hard making him flinch, “That’s my problem, your physical closeness always outsmarts my conscious by illicitly teaming up with my subconscious.”

“That’s because your subconscious is smarter than your conscious, it knows best what’s good for you…” Philip teased, his lips grazing her cheek.

“You’re moving pretty fast from ridiculously unfounded insecurity to hubris,” Antonia grumbled.

“I hope your final assessment someday will be more like healthy, realistic confidence,” he smirked. “You asked me what my plan B is, which I don’t have; do not want to have. In my opinion, my plan A as a re-launch of your Philip&Antonia Ltd. is the best one I’ve ever developed. But I haven’t finished telling you everything about it yet…”

“Okay, let’s get it over with…”

“I’ve told you about my personal plans, what I need to do for myself and us. I want us to stay together, really together, emotionally, physically and in daily life. I’m willing to do anything for that, I’ll go to therapy as long as necessary … and hope you’ll continue helping me as you have all along, maybe even do a few couple therapy sessions with me … would you do that?”

“Ummm, I need to get a better picture of all parts of plan A first….”

“The second part of plan A is the chapter real estate…”

“Real estate?”

“You were right when you noticed everything worked so much better with us when we were travelling, not at home here in Brussels. You know what my flat looks like. I’ve never had a happy home. It’s always been better everywhere but home. Your flat here is a real home; it’s chic and stylish but also comfortable and cozy, even the bear-y over-population is somehow welcoming. I was such a gigantic idiot to get this mattress phobia, it’s bl**** unbelievable…..”

Antonia gulped in surprise: “Wow, okay, thanks, for the compliment.”

“Now the big flat two stairs down in this building is for sale. It’s a good neighborhood by local standards. If you agree, I’ll buy it, and it would be wonderful if you could turn it into a home for us…” Philip made a pregnant pause.

Antonia sat up and stared at him, lightly shaking her head in disbelief before she finally asked: “Does your plan A have more equally shocking chapters?”

“The shock hopefully is more that I went about this like a normal, reflective adult or as professionally as I would with a real business plan, not the content,” Philip rolled his eyes. “Plan A does have a third chapter &#8211; professional life. To be honest, me coming to &#8216;signC’ as CEO was all in all a mistake…”

“Are you serious?”

“Yah- apart from being with you which is the best that ever happened to me. But have you ever thought about how much easier things might’ve been between us if we had just met again in private to solve the damages after I spilled coffee on you at Arts-Loi?”

“Hmmm, you might have a point there. Would you’ve honestly had the nerve to meet me again in person?”

“I would’ve been quaking in my shoes, but I’d have tried to meet you again. After all, you’re the first and only woman who has ever really flirted with me … I needed to find out more about someone who is so crazed…,” Philip leaned down to kiss her intensely.

Antonia gave into the kiss, slipping her hands under his t-shirt to fondle his fleshy chest, “I was only the first to be so blatantly obvious that my flirting managed to penetrate your armor of warped self-perception,” she chided him. “What about plan A professional? There seems to be more than I expected.”

“As I said, &#8216;signC’ was not right for me, for two reasons. Even though things are better now than they were with Franck, the fashion culture kills me. I always feel totally déplacé, hate the looks I get when fashion people see my size. It’s not a good environment at all for seriously trying to come to terms with my fatness. Also &#8211; you sometimes tease me I’m just a finance bloke. That’s true &#8211; numbers and notes are the two things I like most, am best at. I don’t care for all the CEO, general manager fluff; it doesn’t interest me or is difficult for me.”

“You’ve really worked hard on thinking about yourself, what you want in life. That’s a very good thing. So what do you plan on doing, go back into finance?” Antonia couldn’t help but look up at him in fond admiration.

“Maybe. Right now I actually have 2 new job offers. One is head of M&A at this Franco-Belgian bank here they just bailed out &#8211; very similar, but with more responsibility than what I did at Green*Star. The other one is again a CEO/CFO of European operations position for another US company…”

“Didn’t you just say you weren’t interested in that type of work?”

“Normally not, but this would be the EU CEO/CFO for Cosmos Music!” Philip looked at her with shining eyes. “That’s the one product I would love to market, I know something about, an industry I can relate to. Plus &#8211; in the music business there are enough big fat blokes as musicians and producers, I’d no longer feel like the lone hippopotamus in a herd of gazelles. Their operations are also a lot bigger than &#8216;signC’, something like eight times the turnover.”

Antonia felt as if a hard knot inside her was dissolving, seeing how excited he was by these prospects, stroked his chubby cheek and through his hair. “That sounds fantastic for you! So that’s what you’re doing?”

“I haven’t made up my mind definitely yet, even though Cosmos Music is the much more tempting offer.” Philip hugged her so tightly it almost hurt. “There’s only one thing I’ve decided on &#8211; I’m definitely leaving &#8216;signC’ &#8211; and I’ve already selected my successor and talked to Craig.”

“Who is it? Jean-Luc? Or Arthur?”

“No- it’s the most qualified person I know &#8211; Ms. Antonia Langley.”

“But, but ….,” Antonia struggled to get out of his embrace, but he held her tighter than ever. “Let me go … I have a job….”

“Shhh,” Philip kissed her playfully but did not loosen his hold. “Listen to me, don’t kick &#8211; this is also something I’ve put a lot of thought into.”

“Why me? I’m not a CEO, I have my work at EAFR….”

“Oh yes you are,” Philip let loose a bit, turned Antonia on her back and rolled the full weight of his belly on her, his fingers expertly playing over her under her dress like on a piano. “From my start at &#8216;signC’, when I watched you work, I kept thinking you would be the much better CEO. With the exception of finances, you’re just as good and in most crucial fields much better than I am.”

“Are you serious? I was always worried I was being overbearing…”

“No, you were simply behaving like an executive who knew what she was doing. I was glad you went ahead with many things, since you knew more than I did. Also you often overstepping your competencies gave me more options of working directly with you, something I wanted more than anything even back then…..” Philip leaned over her heavily for another kiss. “I’m not squashing you, am I?”

Antonia dug her hands deeply into his belly to wobble it energetically. “You’re a manipulator! You know I’m wild about feeling all of you on me. How am I supposed to say no to your crazy plans while you’ve got me blissfully smothered in your sensational bulk? Especially now there’s even more of you I’m finally allowed to really cuddle! This isn’t fair! You said it yourself, I’m clueless about finances, so I can’t be CEO… anyway, I’ve been with EAFR only for half a year…”

“Total bullshit, Antonia, stop belittling yourself. Look at all the things I was clueless to completely incompetent in at &#8216;signC’. Sure, you’re about as awful in finances as I am in communications, but Urs is a great accountant &#8211; and I’ll be there to help you with the financial reports. That is &#8211; if you in turn stay around to help me with personal and professional communications …..,” he grinned down at her lovingly.

“Regarding EAFR, you’re already getting bored and restless there, aren’t you? As far as protocol goes, it’s a great position &#8211; but you know better than I do that there isn’t all that much work you can actually get done. EU legislation doesn’t offer much leverage in the field, it’s still either national markets or cross-national retailers and franchisers &#8211; not enough for you to do as an association. Whereas with expanding &#8216;signC’, you can really make things happen. As an EU-American, with your knowledge of the markets and the pleasure you take in fashion, you’re the perfect fit for the position, and the entire team will love working with you..”

Looking up at him in awe, Antonia didn’t say anything. “What’s wrong, haven’t I convinced you of the merits of plan A?”

“You’ve really planned a whole new life for us together, haven’t you? You’ve also thought a lot about me, what might work best for me…”

Philip shrugged and nodded bashfully: “At least I honestly tried. You’ve always done so much for me and us, I feel I needed to do something too to make our little business together really work and be profitable. So, what’s your assessment of plan A? Can you finally see yourself investing in it?”
 

atwolfe

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Thank you so much for continuing ;) I did realize two things though: 1) you were right, sometimes two people just don't end up together in real life. Why wouldn't a story maybe end that way, too? 2) As I was reading the very beginning, I came to a startling realization. I didn't necessarily want Antonia and Philip to end up together....I just wanted to know she was happy :) I think with a story this incredibly good you get caught up in it and want it to end romantically with a happy ever after. If this is the end, I will draw my own conclusion! Happy Holidays to you and yours as well :)
 

Tad

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Thank you so much for the early Christmas present!

I agree, they did not have to end up together, but closure of some sort was needed.....this works :)
 

shuefly pie

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Le sigh.

I hate to see the story end. I think I could follow these two into their old age. But, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and this story was a very good thing. Thank you for telling it.
 

fritzi

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How and why did I ever miss this lovely story?? :confused:

Isn't there any way of sorting the archives here according to authors ... like in the old library?
 

Britt Reid

Library Editor
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Oct 28, 2009
Messages
542
Location
,
Yes, it is quite easy actually.

You can get all stories by any author by

1) clicking on the Library link at the top left of the screen ( immediately after the words and symbol Dimensions Forums > )

2) clicking on the "search this forum" link on the far right of the title bar (note that this is not the same as the "search" link, which will survey all forums, not just the library)

3) enter the desired author's name - which must be at least four characters long,

4) initialize your search.​

One caveat on this: all story posts involving the author - even those made to someone else's story - will be displayed. But generally these will be few enough in number that you can disregard them.
 

gythaogg

***
Joined
Oct 13, 2011
Messages
48
Location
,
I only recently discovered this story, and my god, the characters are so beautiful and well-developed. I have to choose to believe Antonia says yes. Utterly exquisite. I want to be able to buy a bound copy and lend it to friends.
 

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