North Enders by Starling (BHM, WG)

Discussion in 'Recent Additions' started by Starling, Jun 11, 2018.

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  1. Jun 11, 2018 #1

    Starling

    Starling

    Starling

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    North Enders
    by Starling

    Author's Note: The first part of a long-ass story I've had kicking around for years now.


    "How's the coffee shop?" Luna asked, gesturing at what had once been an old house across the street. The interior, visible through large windows, looked bright and pretty.

    "Best in the city," the young building manager answered with a conspiratorial wink. "You'll love it."

    "Perfect," Luna grinned. She handed the young woman her signed lease. "My movers should be coming in tomorrow morning, around eight. Is that all right?"

    "Of course" the manager said brightly. "Welcome to Halifax."

    She left, leaving Luna alone in the large, bare loft. It was more than she'd wanted to spend, but with little time to apartment hunt, she was in no position to complain about a beautiful space six blocks from her work.

    With no place to sit, Luna slumped against her kitchen island, pulling her knees up to her chest. She pulled out her phone and shot off a text to Blake.

    Got the lease - movers come tomorrow.

    A simple, perfunctory message.

    Blake's response came almost immediately.

    Eaten by a polar bear yet?

    Luna couldn't quite bring herself to respond, the way she couldn't quite bring herself to deal with anything involving Blake.

    She'd hoped the whole 'yearlong assignment in Canada' thing would give her a graceful, easy out. But Blake hadn't wanted to break up, nor had he wanted to come with her. So now she was in some kind of relationship limbo - the worst of all possible worlds.

    Casting a baleful look outside, Luna couldn't help but wonder if this had all been a colossal mistake.

    For three years, she'd been a trainer for a large Content Management System. She originally wanted to work in development, but had been lured by the promise of travel as a trainer.

    She wished she'd realized that the travel promised was Rochester, Indianapolis, and Kansas City - a far cry from her dreams of Hong Kong, Paris, and Sydney. Four months ago, she'd all but begged her supervisor for the chance to move to the international training team. He came back with a slightly different offer.

    The company was expanding into Canada, opening offices in Toronto the coming year. They'd need a trainer from headquarters to show new hires the ropes. They wanted Luna to become that trainer. After a year in Toronto, Luna would be promoted to head of the international team.

    ----

    "Do you think it's really that cold?" Luna asked Cory in the next cubicle after her meeting. He laughed.

    "I think it's a cover by their government. Can you imagine how many of us would be flooding the border if word got out that it wasn't a frozen wasteland? Plus Toronto is supposed to be cool. Isn't that what all of Drake's songs are about?"

    Well, Toronto proved too expensive, so the new offices moved to Halifax. And Cory, it turned out, was deeply mistaken regarding the weather. It was only October, and already there was snow on the ground.

    Luna sighed. Maybe a latte would brighten the mood.

    The coffee shop, at least, was bright and airy, with plenty of green plants to offset the overwhelming moist grayness.

    ----

    Hunter looked up from his pastry at the jingle of the front door chimes, quickly stashing it behind the cash register. It had been slow all day, and he sent Marnie, the college girl who worked the afternoon shift, home over an hour ago.

    An unfamiliar face - and the most attractive one he'd seen in months.

    A younger woman - he guessed around his own thirty-two - with a head of the silvery blonde hair that was so in fashion now, and a pair of the largest, darkest eyes he'd ever seen.

    He attempted to nonchalantly pull his sweater away from where it clung to his chubby waist as she approached the counter.

    "What can I get you?" He tried not to stare too intently.

    "Medium latte please, with an extra shot of espresso."

    "Soy? Two percent?"

    She looked like the type of ultra trendy it girl who only drank the milk of freshly harvested avocados.

    "Whole milk, thanks."

    Hunter nodded, hiding his surprise. "Might be a few minutes, since there are so many orders ahead of yours"

    She let out an obliging bark of laughter. It was a harsh, not entirely pleasant laugh that contrasted sharply with her meticulously feminine appearance. Hunter liked it.

    He asked for her credit card, noting it was American. Luna Amelia DiAngelo. It was a name for a supermodel or a video game heroine. She certainly looked like she could step flawlessly into either role.

    "American?"

    "Yeah, Arizona. You too?"

    "What gave it away?" - prompting Luna to laugh again.

    Almost fifteen years in Halifax and Hunter still hadn't been able to shake his Charleston drawl. He hadn't tried to lose it for years - customers liked its distinctly American charm.

    "Cold here for a Zonie" he joked.

    "I've only been here two days and I'm beginning to worry all ten toes won't survive the winter"

    "How long are you here for?" Hunter couldn't help but hope she'd be a familiar face in the coming days.

    "A year. Work assignment."

    "Wow. You living in the North End?"

    "Yeah, right around here." Luna didn't want to tell a stranger she could see into the shop from her window.

    Hunter handed over the latte, watching as Luna curled up on one of the lounge chairs across the counter. She flipped idly through one of the art magazines someone had dropped off last month.

    "If you follow us on Instagram, your next latte's on us" Hunter added from across the counter.

    She smiled and obligingly clicked through her phone. Hunter's own phone buzzed moments later - moonoftheangels started following you.

    Hunter made sure not to look at her profile while she was sitting right in front of him, waiting until she had finished her latte and left with a smile, promising to return.

    He was pleased to see that her profile was public. And he was even more pleased that it didn't consist of hundreds of heavily edited selfies. Her pictures were vibrant, funny, alive.

    A disastrous dinner attempt. A Phoenix sunset. Hiking among the cactus and stunning desert landscapes of Arizona.

    A quirky photo of herself and an overpreened bro drinking massive margaritas. The bro was tagged as Blake, and his account featured an unsettling number of gym selfies and photographs of Luna.

    **
    Luna came back the next day, sharply dressed in sleek high waisted pants and a pretty blouse. She ordered her free latte and an egg sandwich to go. She left Hunter a large tip and a larger smile. "I told you I'd be back".

    He grinned. "Is this your first real day of work?"

    "Yeah. I'm glad it gets me out of the house while the movers are here."

    Hunter nodded. "If you want to stop by on your way home, we do a Monday night happy hour. Nothing crazy, but a few different wines and some snacks. It's free - a thank you to North Enders for supporting us."

    She agreed to come, leaving Hunter inexplicably anxious for the rest of the day.

    Sure, she was pretty, but so what? Hunter had seen plenty of beautiful women. They didn't set his nerves on high alert like Luna did.
     
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  2. Jun 11, 2018 #2

    Starling

    Starling

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    "You all right, Boss Man?" Marnie asked after Hunter nearly dropped a platter of croissants that afternoon.

    "Just distracted."

    "You've been distracted since I got here, what's up?"

    Hunter felt incredibly foolish at the prospect of explaining to his nineteen-year-old employee that he was nervous about seeing a pretty customer tonight. He shrugged instead.

    "Our Arabica order's delayed until next week, just working out in my head if we have enough to last until then."

    "Oh, we definitely should - didn't we do inventory the other day?"

    ***

    Luna arrived about thirty minutes after the happy hour started, looking flushed from the cold. Hunter waved to her from behind the counter.

    "Red or white?"

    "White. Thanks. You do this every week?"

    "Yeah, I like to get to know the people in the neighborhood. It gets me out of my bubble."

    "Wow, very generous. What's your boss say?"

    Hunter laughed. "I own the place, so I'd say he approves."

    "A business owner in this economy? Color me impressed."

    Hunter was called over by some of his regulars, so he excused himself from Luna. The scent of her perfume or lotion lingered in his nostrils for a moment. She smelled amazing - like oranges and vanilla.

    Marnie appeared at his shoulder ten minutes later. "Looks like Hipster Elsa over there is giving you the eye."

    Hunter tried to look without being obvious. Luna was munching on a piece of cheese, her dark doe eyes focused squarely on his broad back. He felt himself color slightly as he tried to draw himself upward and inward so as not to look quite so huge.

    The corners of Marnie's mouth twitched.

    "Arabica, shmabica. Methinks I found what has you so distracted."

    "Don't be ridiculous."

    "Do you know her? Do you looove her?"

    Hunter mock glowered, hoping to hide his very real mortification.

    "You do, don't you!"

    "I sign your paychecks, remember that."

    ***

    Luna wasn't sure what had Hunter and the teenage barista in stitches, but she enjoyed watching him laugh. She suspected she would enjoy watching him do just about anything.

    She'd been equal parts thrilled and shocked when she strolled into the cafe, which just so happened to be staffed by what had to be the hottest man in Halifax.

    Bright, denim blue eyes? Check.

    Tall? Check. He had to be at least 6'4.

    Perfectly groomed hipster beard on a boyishly cute face? Check.

    Bulging biceps covered in artsy tattoos? Check.

    Charming genteel Southern accent? Check.

    Big, chubby body currently testing the limits of his button down shirt? Check, check, check.

    The way he'd hidden that scone he was eating when she walked in yesterday - she felt a tingle just remembering it. 'Bring it back out', she'd wanted to tell him. 'We both know you didn't get that cute tummy by saying no to sweets'.

    But that would be pervy and deeply inappropriate, so she'd pretended not to notice.

    Watching him from behind, she tried to guess just how big he was. His height threw her off. He looked to be about the size Blake was when they first met, but he could be much, much heavier given his extra inches.

    He was coming her way. Luna smiled at him as he piled his plate high with meet, cheese, and bread.

    "This is way nicer than you made me think it would be," she teased him. "This cheese is amazing."

    "Let's be honest, the whole neighborhood happy hour thing is just a cover up for my cheese addiction."

    There was that barking laugh again. "That makes two of us. I love cheese. Any kind, I'm down."

    She didn't look like a girl who ate a lot of cheese, but what did Hunter know. "It's not a very healthy spread," he admitted sheepishly.

    "It looks great, are you kidding? Everything looks fresh and delicious. There's such a paranoia about eating fat these days, it's ridiculous - and unfounded. There's no need to be afraid of fat."

    He knew she wasn't talking about him, but his cheeks flared red hot anyway. He could have sworn she cast a sidelong look at his stomach as she talked. He didn't look like the kind of guy who was afraid of fat, that was for sure.

    "Maybe some of us should be more afraid of it than others" he joked, brushing a hand along his tubby middle.

    Luna took a long gulp of wine. "You look wonderful," she said at the end of it.

    There was more she could say, but she stopped herself. She imagined Hunter at the end of the night, polishing off leftover meats and cheeses until his belly became round and heavy and full. Snap out of it, woman.

    "This has been fun - thanks for inviting me."

    "Leaving already?" His self deprecating humor hadn't seemed to go over well with Luna.

    "It's been a long few days, and I need to unpack what the movers brought. But hey, I have a question - you seem to really know your way around here. Any interest in being my Halifax guide, showing me a few fun places? I'm so desperate for friendship that I'll pick up all the tabs if you say yes."

    What was this girl's deal? She was almost coming on to him.

    "Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I'd like that." Go ahead, say yeah again Hunter, it's going over really well.


    "Yeah?" Luna grinned, sticking her tongue between her teeth. A nervous habit maybe, but it was cute. "Give me your phone, I'll type my number in."

    Hunter had a flash of fear that she'd start scrolling through his saved photos, where she'd find the series of shirtless pictures he'd taken charting the growth of his belly over the past few months.

    He didn't know why he took them, or why he kept them. A combination of morbid curiosity, crippling shame, and perverse arousal. A whole hell of a lot to throw at the devastatingly pretty woman you just met.

    "Text me any time you want to hang out," he told her instead, taking his phone back in what he hoped was a casual manner. "My schedule is very flexible."
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
  3. Jun 11, 2018 #3

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    - Actually Very Tame!

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    Ahhhh i love you!!!!!

    Edit: Also, I hate you. Now I am going to be even more distracted at work today!!
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
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  4. Jun 11, 2018 #4

    Tad

    Tad

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    mostly harmless

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    The great white north, eh?
    A new Starling story? I'm glad that I chose now to get caught up on my reading, because I get this good news. But I also wish I'd waited so that I could devour more of it at once instead of a slice at a time!
     
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  5. Jun 11, 2018 #5

    fat hiker

    fat hiker

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    What a great beginning, and in one of my favourite cities too!
     
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  6. Jun 12, 2018 #6

    Ffancy

    Ffancy

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    As soon as I saw the title, I wondered if the setting would be Halifax! Looking forward to more.
     
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  7. Jun 12, 2018 #7

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

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    *sitting in emerg (not for me) desperately hoping against hope for another chapter*
     
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  8. Jun 13, 2018 #8

    Starling

    Starling

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    "Just a few more minutes, come on now, give it your all!"

    The cycling instructor was tiny, tanned, and glistening with sweat.

    Luna's legs were screaming, but she continued to pump furiously.

    ***

    As a kid, Luna was always more likely to be running in circles, climbing a tree, or doing cartwheels than paying attention in school.

    Her parents, concerned after yet another negative parent teacher conference, brought her to a doctor. Luna sat swinging her legs on the paper sheet as the pediatrician delivered the diagnosis.

    "Classic Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder" the pediatrician said, her glossy black hair in a neat bun.

    Her parents, hippies to the end, refused to hear a word about medication. "Is there anything else we can do?" they asked the glossy bunned doctor.

    "She has a lot of extra energy. If she can find a way to harness it through activity and exercise, it may let her mind settle a bit..."

    Luna had always hated team sports. She didn't like the feeling of someone's success or failure riding on her shoulders. But she launched headfirst into swimming, gymnastics, dance, bicycling.

    After her dad's car accident, constant movement was the only thing that could stave off the nightmares she began to have.

    In college she discovered yoga, crossfit, kickboxing, and the pleasures of a long solitary run.

    As long as her body was moving, her mind stayed relatively still.

    ***

    She hoped she'd eventually outgrow the restlessness and racing thoughts, but it had yet to happen. She was strong and fast and fit as hell, but still unable to concentrate if she hadn't pushed her body almost to the breaking point.

    And there was a lot to distract her this week. The weird situation with Blake. The move across the border. Trying to find her footing as the head of a new office. The unexpected but not unwelcome appearance of Hunter in her life.

    "You can do it! Don't give up now!"

    Luna could barely see, sweat dripping into her eyes. She was looking forward to a shower and a visit to Hunter.

    "That's it! We're done."

    Luna was breathless and her muscles burned, but she felt blessedly calm.

    After her shower, the instructor waved her over.

    "You were amazing today. I've never seen such intensity. Are you new here?"

    "Yeah, I just moved."

    "We have an instructor going out on mat leave pretty soon - are you interested in training to teach at all? It's just mornings, so you'll have time to get to the office or wherever you need to go."

    "Wow, I'm flattered! But I have a lot going on right now."

    "Well, keep it in mind. You're a natural, we'd love to have you."

    ***
    Luna walked into the coffee shop, the busiest she'd seen it since that Monday happy hour. It was Friday, and her sixth day in a row of coming to visit Hunter. Normally she'd be a bit more conscious of her spending, but the new position had come with a nice pay increase that let her justify the price of Hunter's company.

    Blake once suggested that perhaps her latte habit contributed to her lack of focus, but she quickly dismissed the thought. She loved the smell, the taste, the soothing comfort of having a morning ritual.

    If that meant sometimes she had to go for a jog over her lunch break to get her mind back on track, so be it.

    Hunter was nowhere to be seen, just the pair of baristas who worked the morning shift. Luna tried to hide her disappointment. After all, the man deserved a day off.

    "Hey, mind if I sit here?"

    Luna looked up, locking eyes with Hunter in what must be his weekend clothes. He wore a pair of horn rimmed glasses that emphasized his eyes, a Dalhousie baseball hat, and a hoodie that was straining just a bit around the middle. She wondered if it had been loose when he bought it.

    "Not in the least," Luna beamed, moving her laptop case from the second seat at the cafe table. Hunter had a mug of black coffee in one hand and a plate with a large chocolate croissant in the other.

    "How's the first week of work going?"

    "Exhausting," Luna admitted. "Do you want to go somewhere fun tonight?"

    "I - yeah, definitely. There's an amazing poutine place in Hydrostone that does a great Friday night special."

    Hunter mentally kicked himself. Poutine, really? How fat was he, that gravy soaked fries were the first thing that popped in his mind at the word 'fun'?

    "Sounds great. I've actually never had poutine."

    "You can't move to Canada and not eat poutine. They'll send you back. Didn't you read the visa paperwork?"

    Luna laughed over her latte. "That was the fine print section, right? Just under minimum maple syrup consumption."

    ***
    "We're thinking an aggressive hiring phase, thirty to fifty new hires in the next five months. We'll need to streamline our onboarding to fit more training into less time. DiAngelo, where can we cut the fat?"

    Luna felt herself flush beet red, and not just because a C-level exec had used one of her sexy trigger words. She'd been unable to keep herself focused on the painfully boring series of morning meetings, looking forward to her date with Hunter.

    Was it a date? Was she cheating on Blake? Was she even dating Blake?
     
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  9. Jun 13, 2018 #9

    Starling

    Starling

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    "The house has a lot of potential. If you didn't want to rent it out as a residence, it's zoned for office and retail as well. It could be a coworking space, or an art gallery even. You can get creative with it."

    "What other offers are on the table?" Hunter rested his hands on his stomach from inside his hoodie pocket. That second chocolatine probably wasn't strictly necessary, and the orange muffin was certainly overkill. The dangers of being the man in charge of pastry ordering.

    "A few competitive ones, but they all want to flip or demo. They don't care about the history - that's why we'd like to sell to you, if you're interested. This was our home for years. We can't bear to see it torn down."

    "I'm interested. I'd like to put an offer in. Not sure what we'll do with it yet, but better to save it now and figure that stuff out later."

    Elated after his visit to the stately old home, Hunter all but skipped to the poutine shop. He was a little too heavy to do a lot of skipping without hurting his knees, so he settled for a brisk and enthusiastic walk.

    Luna was sitting at a table by the window, looking professional and perfect. He still wasn't sure what she did, but it sounded important. She noticed him and waved as he walked past.

    "You seem happy," she said as he sat down.

    "I am happy. I think I'm buying a house."

    "Oh wow, good for you! Is it around here?

    "Yeah, it's one of the oldest homes in the North End. Slated for demolition if it gets in the wrong hands. I didn't want to let that happen, so I stepped in."

    "Wait...so you just...bought a house? Like a second one? Do you already own another house?"

    "I have one that I live in, yeah." He owned several, but was unaccountably shy about telling Luna that he'd been buying up historic homes in the North End for years.

    "Wow, your cafe must be doing pretty well."

    The coffee shop generally broke even most months. Hunter wasn't eager to divulge that it - and his steadily growing fleet of houses - were paid for by the trust fund he inherited from his grandfather.

    Whenever he alluded to his family's (considerable) wealth, he felt inauthentic and desperate. He worried Luna would think he was trying to show off.

    "I think we should start with the classic poutine," he suggested, trying to change the subject. "It's hard to beat the original."

    Three poutines later, and Hunter's stomach felt ready to burst. Luna had enthusiastically split the first two with him, but picked listlessly at the third, saying she was full.

    Hunter was full too, but had never let that stop him before. He swallowed the last fry and tried to give his belly a discreet rub under the table.

    "God, that was good."

    Luna's large eyes looked even larger than normal. Hunter felt embarrassed, looking down at his swollen midriff. It wasn't hiding very well under his sweatshirt. There was no need to be such a pig, was there?

    "Do you want to stop for an espresso somewhere?" Luna asked as they stepped out into the cold night. She had a blue scarf wrapped around her head like a 50s movie star.

    "I know a place," Hunter winked. It was a long walk back to the cafe, but Luna didn't complain and Hunter was grateful for the exercise.

    Back in the warmth of his shop, Hunter turned on a few dim lights - enough to see, but not enough to make the public think they were open for business. The fluorescent lights of the monstrous, swanky apartment building across the street made the shop look bright even without turning anything else on.

    "You didn't have to pay for dinner," he said to Luna, handing her the small espresso cup. Luna grinned.

    "I told you I would, and a promise is a promise, right?"

    "Well, at least let me get next time."

    "Deal."

    Hunter's breath quickened, and not just from the massive amounts of poutine pushing up against his ribcage. She was interested in a next time - that was good.

    "Luna?"

    "Yes?"

    "I've...really enjoyed getting to know you this week. You're my favorite regular now."

    Luna laughed her harsh laugh. "I'm flattered."

    "Do you want to maybe go out sometime? Like, on a date?"

    She drew in her breath sharply.

    Damn it! This was exactly what she'd been hoping would happen - why oh why hadn't she straightened things out with Blake before she left?

    "It's just, uh. I have this - this guy, person...thing going on back in Phoenix."

    "Like a boyfriend?"

    "I'm not sure."

    What Hunter wanted to say was yes, Blake the jock, I know all about him. But he kept quiet. No need for Luna to know he'd been relentlessly stalking her on social media all week, and was familiar with all her major milestones from her sorority initiation at Arizona State to her completion of a marathon the past April.

    "So what's going on with this guy person thing?"

    Luna threw up her hands in exasperation.

    "I don't know! That's the worst part. I tell him I'm leaving for Canada, he says great. I ask him to come along, he says no. I ask if we should break up, he says no. I ask if he'll come to visit, he says maybe. It's awful!"

    "Why don't you just tell him that this isn't working for you? Why are you giving him all the power?"

    "What? Actually communicate my feelings? That's got to be the worst relationship advice I've ever heard."

    "Yeah, well, as a divorced guy, bad relationship advice is kind of my forte."

    "You - divorced? Really? How long ago?"

    "A long time ago." Eight years.

    "What happened?"

    "We were kids when we got married. We grew up, we grew apart. But I have her to thank for my Canadian citizenship, so it's not all bad."

    ***
    On his lonelier nights, Hunter's mind sometimes wandered to that first day of orientation at Dalhousie, the day he first saw the woman who would become his wife. She was beautiful - thick hazel curls in a dramatic high ponytail, smooth porcelain skin, pale blue eyes, full, soft-looking lips. There were hundreds of new students crammed in that auditorium, but Hunter only saw one.

    Hunter had never considered the size of a woman to be of much importance. A pretty face and hourglass figure of any proportion were enough to send hot blood rushing to his cheeks - and elsewhere.

    And she had quite the hourglass. A lush, full body with exaggerated curves and gentle creases. The elegant roundness of her cheeks and arms made her look like a nymph in a Renaissance painting.

    Elodie Martin - her name proceeded her. Parents were a big time power couple in the NDP out of Gatineau. Hunter heard the whispers before the words had any meaning to him. Gatineau might as well have been the moon.

    For weeks, Hunter searched campus like he was stalking prey, simultaneously hoping to see her and dreading the prospect. He found himself face to face with her at a house party in late September.

    "Can I get you a drink?"

    She smirked and held up her already full glass. "I think I am good." A Quebecois accent that left him weak in the knees. To this day, the accent made his heart race.

    She was dressed provocatively - a black wrap dress that showed off her ample cleavage. Hunter normally would have had trouble trying to keep his eyes above the neckline, but not many girls had a face like Elodie's.

    "You look beautiful. You are beautiful." The words tumbled out before he could stop them. What was he doing? He didn't know this girl, no matter how prominently she featured in his fantasies of late. She would brush him off like the creep he was.

    Except she didn't.

    "I have seen you around. I thought you were very handsome."

    "Me? Really?" He became uncomfortably aware of how tight his jeans and shirt were after a month of pizza and beer every night.

    "Of course. You have wonderful eyes. Very soulful. Like a poet's."

    ***

    "You're right, I should just call the whole thing off. Who does it help?" Luna's voice dragged him back into the present.

    "You know, Luna, I didn't mean to pressure you. We still don't know each other that well. I'm happy to continue being friends."

    "I'd like...to explore the possibility of being more than friends. There's something about you, Hunter. It feels - different. But I want to do it the right way. Let me tie up my loose ends back home, and we can go from there."
     
  10. Jun 13, 2018 #10

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

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    I wuv you...
     
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  11. Jun 13, 2018 #11

    Tad

    Tad

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    The great white north, eh?
    *swoon* soooooo gooooood!
     
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  12. Jun 16, 2018 #12

    Starling

    Starling

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    Maybe she was reading too much into it, but Blake seemed irritated.

    "Is this a bad time?" she asked.

    "No, just getting ready to head out for the night." He held the phone close to his face.

    "Oh nice, who are you going out with?"

    "Friends." He definitely seemed irritated. And thin.

    He hadn't always been thin, of course. When she saw him on Bumble almost a year ago, it had been a cheerful round face that made her swipe.

    A sommelier at one of the high-end restaurants in Scottsdale, his profile said. Sexy. "Big guy, but I'm working on it," his profile said.
    Don't work too hard, handsome, Luna purred to herself as she suggested they meet for dinner.

    At first it had been fun. Blake knew all the best restaurants, and loved to eat, drink, and enjoy himself. "Working on it" mostly took the form of hiking, which thrilled Luna. A day long, exhausting hike followed by a gourmet meal and wine with an expert? Heaven.

    But as the weeks crystallized their relationship from casual to something more serious, Luna began to realize she and Blake were seriously incompatible in a number of ways.

    Politically, they were at opposite ends of the spectrum. Luna loved a spirited debate, but the lack of common ground was frustrating.

    Luna dreamed of starting a family one day. Blake was thoroughly disinterested in the idea of children.

    Blake loved horror films, the gorier and more disturbing the better. Luna preferred indie comedies and hated any kind of blood, even onscreen. Settling on a movie for date night was a battle royale.

    And, of course, they had never seen eye to eye on the appeal of his substantial body. The first night they spent together in Luna's downtown apartment, she had all but tried to tear the clothes from him. As she enthusiastically worked her way down Blake's buttoned shirt, he held a large hand to her wrist.

    "Let's go to the bedroom if we're going to take things further."

    "I like the way you think," she winked.

    But in the bedroom, Blake had turned out the light, removed his clothing, and slid under Luna's blankets in record time.

    "Well fine," Luna harrumphed as she unenthusiastically peeled off her sundress.

    "Sorry, it's cold in here." He wasn't wrong. Luna had her thermostat turned down to its lowest setting in response to the sweltering Arizona heat.

    Luna slipped in beside him, running a hand across his soft chest. He pushed her away.

    "Not there. It's...not great."

    "Oh, I think it's great," she grinned, kissing Blake's chubby cheek. He shook his head and redirected her hand to his shoulder.

    His hands roamed her own body freely - and sometimes uncomfortably - but he bucked away as soon as Luna tried to do the same.

    "What's going on, Blake? I'm not allowed to touch you or something?"

    He shrugged, not meeting her eyes.

    "I feel weird about it. You're like this - goddess - and I'm...definitely not."

    "I think you look perfect," she objected.

    "Yeah, okay. But just for tonight, maybe don't go grabbing me all over?"

    Luna sighed. "If that makes you happy, of course."

    She wished 'if that makes you happy' had been Blake's philosophy as well. He heaved his heavy body above hers and she felt a slight thrill at the thought of feeling his weight on top of her. But he kept himself just far enough away to prevent her from feeling his thick torso, though still close enough to jackhammer her painfully and artlessly.

    Luna consoled herself that maybe they'd have a chance to cuddle after, but he was asleep almost as soon as he was finished.

    In retrospect, she should have seen that as the beginning of the end.

    But she held on. Partially from her deep attraction to his handsome face and round body, and partially through her own vain belief that she could singlehandedly change his views on having his softer bits fondled.

    It didn't work. She would reach for a love handle, her hand would be swatted away. Even an innocent caress of his stomach as she was falling asleep resulted in him sitting up sharply.

    "Jesus, do you even listen to me? I told you I don't like being touched there!"

    "I'm sorry babe, it was an accident."

    "Yeah, right." He glared moodily out the window. He seemed to think her touches were meant to embarrass him into getting into shape, though nothing could be further from the truth.

    He began aggressively going to the gym. Protein shakes replaced lavish restaurant dinners.

    Luna's heart broke for Blake, as he was wasting away before her eyes. Any gentle encouragement to eat something or relax a little was met with annoyed resistance. That should have been a sign to leave, too, but Luna sensed he was in a fragile state and didn't have the heart to hurt his feelings.

    Selfishly, Luna was pleased that Blake's new gym obsession meant she had company on her punishing workouts. But Blake pushed himself farther and longer than she ever did.

    "You'll hurt yourself if you keep going like that," she said softly as they left the gym one scorching evening. He turned his newly angled face to her.

    "I look good, Luna - finally. Are you threatened by that?"

    "What? No."

    "Mandy says you're threatened by my progress. That you get off on being the good looking one in a relationship."

    Mandy Fong, a personal trainer with dreams of becoming a Maxim model.

    "Didn't realize Mandy had picked up psychology in her spare time."

    Luna was irritated at the accusation, but not as irritated as she was by the droves of people who began to leer at her boyfriend once he lost weight.

    "Holy crap, Luna, your man is looking like Chris Hemsworth these days," the receptionist at her office enthused at the company's end of summer picnic.

    Luna didn't know how to tell her she'd much prefer Blake to look like an early Chris Pratt.

    "You saw the potential in him, didn't you? Figured you'd start working him out, then get a smoking hot guy who still worships you like a fat one? You're brilliant."

    Luna could have thrown a tub of coleslaw at her in frustration.

    Things had been getting worse between Luna and Blake as fall approached. Their sex life dwindled to almost nothing. Luna didn't feel like being pinned down and pummeled if she didn't even have a chance at catching a small glimpse of jiggling flesh. Nothing on Blake really jiggled anymore.

    Then had come Luna's move across the border. Her now-or-never moment with Blake.

    But Blake had chosen neither now nor never. And now was the time for a reckoning.

    "Can I get you to be honest with me?" she asked.

    "Is this going to be a whole long conversation? I kind of have plans."

    "Are you hoping that our relationship fizzles out so you don't have to break up with me?"

    His gray eyes widened. "Why do you say that?"

    "Is there another explanation for how weird you've been?"

    "Yeah. Maybe I don't appreciate you taking a job in another country and not telling me until after the fact. We didn't even get a chance to talk about it."

    "Am I supposed to put my career on hold for you? This was a big opportunity."

    "And I'm just supposed to put mine on hold for you? Do you even know if I would have been approved to work anywhere? Did you even look into how I'd get a visa? But no, big important Luna is going to do whatever the hell she wants, everyone else be damned, and big fat Blake is going to follow her because she's the most beautiful woman who has ever talked to him. Is that how you were hoping things would go?"

    "No, of course not!"

    "Luna, you're smart, and you're funny, and you're so gorgeous that it's kind of scary, but you're also selfish as hell."

    "I am not selfish!"

    "Then why do you never support me trying to get in shape, huh? What about that?"

    "I - "

    "Is it because you have all the power when you're the pretty one?"

    "Damnit no, it's not that, but thanks to Mandy fucking Fong for sticking that idea in your head. I just thought you were cute fat."

    "See? Selfish."

    Luna found herself with nothing to say. Blake saved her the trouble.

    "Do you really want to know why I didn't want to come with you and didn't want to break up?"

    "Obviously."

    "You're so intimidating in person. Just your - your whole look. It's intense. And I'd idolized you for so long - here's this stunning girl who wants to date me. I didn't know how to end things. I didn't think I had the right, honestly. When would I find a woman like you again? But then I realized - hey, that was old Blake. I'm becoming a different, better person now. I assumed it would be a matter of days until you called me and said you'd met someone else. It would be inevitable. And then -"

    "And then you're free to date Mandy, who is all about New Blake?"

    "I - you - what?"

    "I literally see her standing in the kitchen." Blake hurriedly glanced over his shoulder. A woman's slim legs were barely visible in the background of the camera.

    It was a guess on Luna's part who owned said legs, but a pretty educated one. Blake's expression told her all she needed to know.

    "I'm sorry, Luna."

    "It's all right, Blake. Be happy. And you weren't far off - there is someone that...well, I wanted to know where we stood before I took things further. And now I do."

    She ended the call before Blake could respond. Maybe one day they'd be friends, but it wouldn't be today. How long had he been seeing Mandy? Weeks? Months? Because he wasn't man enough to tell her the truth? She at least had the decency to try to break up with him before starting something with Hunter - right?

    "That dick!" she shrieked to her empty apartment. It made her feel better.

    Maybe she was just as selfish and vain as Blake accused her of being.

    Because at the end of the day, far from being relieved that her situation with Blake was sorted, she was angry that he'd beaten her to the punch.

    And with Mandy Fong?
     
  13. Jun 18, 2018 #13

    agouderia

    agouderia

    agouderia

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    Great to have you back Starling - and this one certainly looks like a gem in the making. Can't wait for more!
     
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  14. Jun 19, 2018 #14

    Tad

    Tad

    Tad

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    Nice chapter, cleared up an external obstacle but added an internal one :)
     
  15. Jun 22, 2018 #15

    Starling

    Starling

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    Hunter's phone beeped with a news alert: "Heiress Apparent: Iris Prescott and Jameson Brevard Expecting First Child".

    He groaned. Why did he stay subscribed to Charleston updates again?

    Against his better judgment, he clicked through to the article.

    "It's a girl! Iris Prescott, 31, CMO of Daedalus Finance, Inc. and Senator Jameson Brevard (D-SC), 36, have announced that they are expecting an as yet unnamed daughter in April. Their previous year's nuptials - dubbed "Charleston's Royal Wedding" - cost a reported $1 million."

    Blah, blah, blah.

    He scrolled through the story, taken aback when he found a picture of himself, red faced and sweating in his seersucker suit from the heat and the whiskey he'd been drinking all day.

    "Charleston's Royal Wedding" had been a miserable, sticky affair.

    The caption read: "A rare appearance by Hunter Prescott, only child of Daedalus Chief Executive Robert Prescott. Despite early speculation that Hunter would take an executive role at Daedalus, he has retreated from both the family business and the public eye."

    Speculation by who? He'd made it clear he had no interest in 'the family business' since he was about eight years old.

    He looked at the picture again. He remembered feeling fat the whole day of the wedding last summer, but he looked positively slender in comparison to what he'd seen in the mirror this morning.

    "Everything okay? You look like you're going to be sick."

    Hunter looked up at Marnie, who was making a large vat of iced tea.

    "Yeah, just found out my cousin's having a baby."

    "That's nice, so why do you look so grossed out? Guessing you aren't close?"

    "We were best friends as kids, but she grew up to be pretty awful. Coming from my family, she didn't have much of a chance, I guess."

    "Hey now, you aren't awful."

    "I also fled the country first chance I had." Hunter laughed with an enthusiasm he didn't quite feel.

    His parents were probably over the moon. His mother in particular made no attempt to hide that Iris was the child she'd always wanted.

    - Doesn't Iris look stunning in her debutante gown? She's so beautiful. So slender.

    - Iris is going to Duke, isn't that wonderful?

    Yeah, well, Iris also can't stay alive in Mario
    Kart, so she shouldn't get too fucking cocky.

    Hunter William! Language!

    - An MBA at Wharton! Iris will be the leader of this company yet. It's a shame you never pursued your talents, Hunter. Such a waste.


    His poor mom. A small town cocktail waitress with nothing but a pretty face, fake chest, and relentless social ambition to recommend her, she'd managed to marry his father, one of South Carolina's most eligible bachelors. Although she'd been among the richest women in Charleston for decades, she was always plagued with insecurity about her past.

    "That white trash gold digger," other women whispered loud enough for her to hear. "That trailer park nobody." Hunter had never even met his grandparents on his mother's side.

    His mother dreamed of a Southern Belle daughter to have the upbringing she always wanted. Instead, she got Hunter and a complicated birth that left her incapable of having any more children.

    Hunter, who was interested in weed and video games and books that weren't on his posh prep school's reading list. Hunter, who barely went to class and was hungover during his SATs - there was no amount of money his father could "donate" that would get him into Duke. Hunter, who was hopelessly chubby and embarrassed his father at golf.

    Of course they'd both prefer Iris, eight months younger but far beyond Hunter's league. A state ranked golfer in college. Effortlessly gorgeous and fashionable. Married to a goddamn senator.

    He knew he'd be expected to visit when the baby came. The thought made his considerable stomach churn. He pulled a chocolate muffin out of the case to distract himself, conveniently ignoring that this was the day he'd promised himself he would start a diet.

    He sent a text to Iris. The news says you're having a baby.

    We couldn't be more thrilled! And she'll be all over the news well into the midterm election cycle, so we really couldn't ask for better timing, press-wise.

    When had Iris become such a snake? That poor kid.

    The door chimed aggressively. Hunter met eyes with Luna. He hadn't seen her since their not-a-date on Friday.

    She looked...terrible wasn't a word he'd use to describe Luna.

    But she did look like maybe she'd cried in her makeup and then slept in it. Or like she was coming off a ten-day cocaine bender.

    "You all right?" he asked cautiously, already starting her latte.

    "Oh yes, peachy." She didn't look all right, that was for sure.

    "You want something to eat?" She usually had a strong, healthy glow, but today she looked fragile.

    She pursed her lips. "What's your favorite pastry?"

    Good question. Hunter had tried them all so many times he could taste them in his sleep. But choosing between them was like picking a favorite child.

    "The ham and cheese croissant is a a knockout. We get our pastries fresh every day from this one man in Dartmouth. He's a legend. Seventy-eight years old, and he drives them to us every morning, snow or shine. I think he has a daughter that helps him bake. But he says the ham and cheese is his greatest achievement."

    "Sold."

    Hunter warmed her croissant in their small oven. He wouldn't insult his baker with a microwave.

    He joined her on the far couch - the one where Marnie couldn't hear them from her post at the counter - after her food and drink were ready.

    "I have good news," she said, cupping her latte in both hands and taking a sip. "My loose ends are all tied, and I'd love to get that date with you."

    Hunter grinned. Then why do you look so bad? was the question he wanted to ask but obviously did not.

    "It happened in a way I wasn't expecting, but that's neither here nor there," she laughed and gestured to herself. "It threw me off enough that I missed my cycling class AND open hours at the neighborhood gym. I get weird if I don't get a chance to work out. All that energy has to go somewhere, and I end up walking in circles around my apartment for hours like a crazy person instead. I haven't slept in a day."

    "Maybe this isn't the best for you, then." Hunter reached for her latte, but Luna snatched it away.

    "Oh, no you don't. I just need to go for a run and I'll be fine. The treadmill in my building is broken, and it's so cold I've been putting off going outside, but I'm ready to suck it up."

    Hunter paused. "You like hot yoga? My friend has a studio. They do everything from adaptive yoga to the really insane stuff that leaves you sore for a month. We could go this afternoon."

    Hot yoga on a freezing day? It sounded like heaven.

    "We?"

    "What, I don't look like the type to do yoga?" Hunter patted his broad belly with a laugh. It jiggled a little more than even he was used to. Luna looked at him with an expression he couldn't read.

    "A lot of guys back home won't do yoga, they think it kills their man credibility," she said lamely. "Maybe it's different in Canada." Nice save.

    A fat guy doing hot yoga? This was the fantasy Luna didn't know she needed. Everyone at the studios she visited in Phoenix were uniformly fit and flexible.

    "What time should I meet you?" Hunter gave her a time and an address. She typed the address into her phone, croissant in the other hand.

    "This is amazing. How does he get it so soft and so flaky at the same time?"

    "Trade secret, I'm afraid. He won't even tell me."

    Luna held her croissant toward him. "Do you want a bite?"

    He did, but he thought back to the eggs and bacon he'd made at home, and the chocolate muffin he'd eaten while texting Iris. A solid start to a diet. He shook his head. "I'm good, thanks."

    But Luna was already slicing off what had to be a third of the croissant. She put it on a napkin and pushed it in front of him.

    "I haven't even touched that bit. It's so good, you have to try."

    Hunter laughed. "This is my shop, I've tried everything a thousand times."

    "Then you know what you're missing out on."

    Hunter shook his head but took a bite out of the croissant. It was warm and cheesy and gooey. He let out a contented sigh. Maybe tomorrow he could start a diet.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
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  16. Jun 22, 2018 #16

    Starling

    Starling

    Starling

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    Dedicated to the fat guy in my hot yoga class, who has no idea how many fantasies he's inspired.

    ***
    Luna surveyed herself in the mirror. She was wearing her sexiest yoga outfit - pants that hugged her ass and had cut-outs all the way to her hips, paired with her tiniest crop top.

    She grinned. Was it vain to know you looked amazing, or just a statement of fact?

    She'd taken a long shower after her stop at the cafe, letting the warm water and rhythmic noise calm her down a bit.

    She was excited to see Hunter in a hot yoga studio. She ran a hand between her thighs as the water cascaded over her, imagining him shirtless and glistening with sweat. She wondered if he was trying to lose weight.

    It didn't seem likely. He'd been finishing up a large chocolate muffin when she walked in, but hadn't taken much convincing to eat a good portion of her croissant as well. Truth be told, Luna was ravenous and partially wanted the whole thing to herself, but didn't want to pass up an opportunity to watch Hunter eat.

    He ate neatly and attractively, every bite thoughtful and deliberate. He clearly enjoyed it more than the average person. She thought back to the poutine night, when she'd watched what had to be thousands of calories pass between his shapely lips and into his rounding belly.

    "Enough, or you'll be late," she chided her reflection.

    The studio was an old warehouse, with floor to ceiling windows and an industrial chic vibe. Hunter was already there, chatting with a lean, bearded blond man. He wore a pair of basketball shorts that dug into his love handles and a cut off tee that clung to his stomach. Luna could clearly see the deep outline of his belly button through the shirt. She licked her lips.

    "This is my friend Luna, who I've been telling you about," Hunter waved her over. The blond man raised a hand.

    "Nice to meet you. I'm Elliot."

    "This is Elliot's studio. He does amazing work. Low cost classes, classes for the elderly, for people who've been injured and are in rehab."

    Elliot nodded. "We do a lot of work with the mobility impaired, whether through accidents or circumstances of birth. I firmly believe yoga is for everyone. Our class will start in five minutes, make sure and grab two blocks on your way in. Last room down the hall."

    Luna smiled. "Nice to meet you."

    She pulled off her coat and boots. She watched Hunter's eyes bulge as she revealed her outfit. It left very little of her curvy, muscular form to the imagination. Shameless maybe, but if you can't be shameless while doing hot yoga, when can you be?

    She trailed Hunter down the hall, watching his love handles jiggle slightly. This shirt was much tighter than anything she'd seen him in before. They rolled their mats out next to each other.

    "How often do you come here?" she whispered.

    "Not as often as I should. Elliot and I were friends in college, he started teaching yoga before we graduated. After I divorced, he got me into it as a way to help clear my mind. I helped him open this studio a few years ago, and have been going once or twice a week ever since. Elliot would like to see me here more, but I just get so busy."

    Elliot walked in, light footed and shirtless. He had a clear six pack and well defined pecs. Like every yogi in Arizona, Luna thought. Boring. She could feel Hunter watching her watching Elliot as he took his place at the front of the room.

    "Today's class is an advanced flow, but feel free to do any modifications you need to get the most of your practice. The temperature is set to thirty-five degrees."

    It was an aggressive class, exactly what Luna needed. To hell with Blake. She watched Hunter admiringly. He was surprisingly limber for a man of his size.

    He had large, muscular arms, and thick powerful thighs. His shirt fell forward as he worked his way through the challenging flow. His belly hung down in several thick rolls, each looking soft and juicy to the touch. Luna was so focused on his pink stretch marks and ample chub that she almost fell out of her crow pose.

    Maybe this had been a bad idea. Far from feeling the mental benefits of physical exertion coupled with extreme concentration, Luna was wildly distracted by the beefy, sweating man beside her. All she wanted to do was crawl into bed with her favorite vibrator and go to town. Or go to town all over Hunter's soft but strong body. Whichever.

    In their final savasana, Luna lay out on her mat, exhausted and drenched in sweat. Elliot was rambling on about the oneness of all beings. Luna couldn't keep her eyes off Hunter's belly, rising up and down with his breath. It protruded upward and kept its roundness even while he lay on his back.

    After the class, Luna showered and changed into a thick pair of fleece leggings and a flowy top. Hunter was flushed in a pair of tight jeans and a pullover.

    "How was it?" he asked.

    "I feel amazing." She did. She couldn't resist giving herself a bit of a massage while in the shower. Her cheeks were pink as much from her stifled orgasm as from the heat and intensity of class.

    She was exhausted. She wanted to sleep forever.

    "Are you hungry? That class kind of gave me an appetite." Hunter looked up at her with his big blue eyes.

    "I could eat," Luna said.

    Elliot walked out, still shirtless, still sweating. "How was it?"

    "Great, you're an amazing teacher."

    Elliot grinned. "Well, we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Hunter. I'll always be grateful for that."

    Luna glanced between the two men. "What do you mean?"

    "When he bought the building, he told me if I could make it into something the community would appreciate, it was mine. No cost. That's the kind of person Hunter is. I've tried to make this a community space, to do him justice."

    Hunter's face was redder than before. "You do a great job, Elliot. We'll be back."

    Luna followed Hunter into the cold, wincing as the air hit her face cruelly.

    "So you own this place, too?"

    "Owned, it's Elliot's now," Hunter said, staring at the ground.

    "Your coffee shop must be killing it," She cast him a sidelong glance.

    Hunter shrugged. "We do a brisk business."

    "I feel like there's something you're not telling me. Like you're a drug lord maybe?"

    Hunter laughed out loud. "No! Definitely not that. I live right near here, we can stash our yoga mats then head out for an early dinner? Do you like tapas?"

    "Love them."

    There was something going on with Hunter. If he wasn't a drug lord, then how did he own what had to be half of the North End?
     
  17. Jun 27, 2018 #17

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    - Actually Very Tame!

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  18. Jun 28, 2018 #18

    fatmac

    fatmac

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    Wonderful build up
     
  19. Jul 4, 2018 #19

    Anjula

    Anjula

    Anjula

    miss wonderfulamazing

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    Absolutely fabulous story!
     
  20. Jul 5, 2018 #20

    otherland78

    otherland78

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    Oh such a nice long deep story :) and it s a really lovely setup with the yoga class thehe i wonder if our sexy cute lady will describe all her sightings and changes in his yoga movements when he becomes softer going to so many dinner dates with her ^^
    I amvery curious for more ...great story ^^
     

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