Meadow could sense victory brewing in her legs as she swiftly passed her opponent in the final lap. She felt so powerful, visualizing her whole body cutting through the ice with sharp, hot blades. She took the last turn with ever shred of energy that shed been trained to reserve, pouring it on at the moment she most needed it. Winning was happening inside of her before she ever crossed the line.
Only then did she actually hear the crowd noise. When it was over, and she saw her time, her heart nearly pushed itself right out of her chest. She knew right then that it was enough to qualify for the national team, and take the next step in elite skating.
Her eyes found Renate and within seconds they embraced, hugging each other tightly, tears coming from both of their eyes. But her pounding heart almost stopped when her eyes landed on Logans.
Look who I found, Renate winked at Meadow.
You came? Her face turned from a triumphant satisfaction to a more stunned excitement.
Logan bent down to give her a light hug, Congratulations, Meadow, he told her in her ear.
Without thinking, she pulled him in and embraced his whole body like she hadnt ever before, instinctively kissing him on the cheek. I cant believe you came, she responded in an almost hoarse voice.
I took the overnight bus and got out just ahead of the storm, he blushed from her embrace and grinned.
Really? Meadow actually felt humbled that he made that long trip just to see her compete; and humility wasnt a common emotion for her to feel.
You were unbelievable out there; you really rise to competition, dont you? He had seen her skate well enough many times in their training, but he was still pretty impressed with the incredible velocity she had packed inside her amazing little body when the stakes were higher.
Its in her blood, Renate nodded with pride. Johanna will be so excited... and your parents will be so proud... you need to call them right away. Another February blizzard had immobilized northern Minnesota, blocking roads south to the Twin Cities and preventing her parents from traveling to the competition.
I will, in a minute, Meadow rested her hands on her hips, still winded by pure joy as much as the intensity of the race. She looked again at Logan, astounded he had made the effort to get ahead of the southern tail of that snow storm; and then all the way down to the Pettit in time for her race. She wanted to talk to him, hug him more, and really give him a massive, sexy kiss on the lips, but a crowd was forming around her, including coaches from the US Team.
Logan leaned over to her and softly told her in her ear, Looks like you have to talk to some important people, and probably give a couple of interviews. Be modest yet optimistic... let Renate guide you. He couldnt help but coach her through these things a little, as hed had experience with winning in the public eye. Ill wait outside just enjoy this, he smiled with a wink, patting her shoulder.
Im just so glad you came, she brushed her hand along his arm. Those same words were all she could think to say to him before Renate pulled her into an intense discussion with a US team coach.
Meadow was having a hard time focusing on the conversation, though. Renate did most of the talking, while Meadow absorbed what she could, but her brain lifted into a big, fluffy, overwhelmed cloud. The instant she saw Logans proud smile after the race, she knew she was in love with him. She had to admit that to herself, if not to anyone else. It may have been her winning euphoria that cleared her head just enough to finally and fully acknowledge it, but she could no longer convince herself that it was possible to fight her way past these feelings.
Logan sat out in the far corner of the lobby, away from the crowds inside. I guess it was okay for me to come, he smiled to himself, having wrestled with whether he should stay back home and not interfere with her big day. She looked so beautiful after the race, he thought. She was sexy in victory, confidently taking off her hood, shaking out her hair... all sweaty and glowing from her success.
He couldnt help but feel encouraged by her reaction when she saw him, seeming genuinely happy he was there. She hugged him so tightly and even kissed him on the cheek. Is it remotely possible that she could like me as more than a friend? Coming off a race like that, winners are always full of joy and love for everyone they see; he knew that feeling well enough. Maybe that was all her reaction was, just general happiness rubbing off on whomever was around her.
He folded his arms firmly across his body. They no longer rested on a fat belly though; at least that albatross had pretty much disappeared. He was now just ten pounds away from his freshman year starting weight, with abs finally emerging through the flab that had previously lounged around his torso. I guess its possible she could be less disgusted by me now that I dont look like an overstuffed glutton anymore. But, I have got to stop thinking theres anything more than friendship there; thats just plain dumb.
Logan distracted himself by catching up with sports news and hockey blogs on his phone to escape his itching thoughts of Meadow. Nearly an hour had passed when she finally came out with Renate and sat down next to him.
Hi there, Meadows face was bright and smiling at him, still maintaining that celebratory glow. She had showered and fixed her hair in a cute braid; and she had a tiny bit of sparkly makeup on her eyelids too, just like that night they skated at Lake of the Isles.
Now Logan was even more worried about how he felt about her. It was actually becoming dangerous. At one time he had taken pleasure in objectifying her, thinking of her as a one-dimensional mean girl with no heart... just a pretty face and a hot body that he could entertain dirty thoughts about. How was it that in just a few months time, she had become such a completely different person to him?
Hey, he sat up and smiled casually, trying to set those thoughts aside, So now youre in the big leagues?
It seemed like it took forever to get here. All of the training over the last few years... and now all of a sudden, Im going to be competing internationally? Traveling to new cities every few weeks next winter? Meadow was in a daze.
She may go to World Cup events later this year, Renate beamed with pride. Well spend some weeks in Leeuwarden with your Tante too. Shes a much tougher coach than I am. Shell make you do more cycling training too.
Meadow smiled and nodded, knowing how lucky she was to have the family ties that helped her learn from the best.
And by then youll be winning games at all the Big Ten arenas, Renate reminded Logan of his destiny in getting back on his team.
Ill be spending more time here in Milwaukee, Meadow blurted, now conflicted about the changes awaiting her. She felt incredibly alive and excited by the opportunity that had opened up to her within the span of a few minutes in competition. Yet she knew that Logan had a very different mission ahead of him. They want me to move here this summer to train full time, she informed him more, her stomach flipping.
Logan nodded and tried to smile, hiding his sinking feelings. He knew that their morning training sessions wouldnt last forever, but this news still stung anyway. He forgot how quickly things could change. Why does everything good come to an end?
Logan, you could come work with us over the summer. I know you have concerns about the off season, and we can help you here. Coach Mike is a fan of mine now, Renate laughed, with a wink. He would trust us to keep an eye on you.
Logans heart lifted. Maybe things dont have to end just yet? But is it a good idea to continue to be around Meadow? Shes been so good for my goals but it could all go very wrong just as long as I dont fall
Do you want me to talk to him? Renate asked him, cutting off his dangerous thoughts.
Sure, Logan shrugged and smiled nonchalantly, hiding his rattled emotions. He knew logically that it was a good idea. He needed stability this summer to maintain his weight and conditioning. Maybe it would all be okay. And maybe Renate staying a part of their training would continue to keep him safe from saying or doing something stupid around Meadow.
Meadow nodded with a smile to reassure him it was a good idea. But as usual, Logans continued presence in her life inspired both thrill and terror inside of her, waging an epic battle that just wouldnt go away.
On their drive back up to Minneapolis, Renate cornered Meadow about her feelings for Logan.
Was it good or not that I invited Logan to train with us this summer? Renate asked Meadow.
Yeah, its fine, Meadow was, as always, trying to hide any emotion about all things Logan.
He seemed disappointed when you told him about your plans in Milwaukee this summer, Renate explained. And I really think hes helped your training almost as much as youve helped his.
You think? Meadow probed Renates observation with curiosity.
Yes, of course, her coach sort of laughed, as if Meadow was the last person in the world to have figured that out. All the while he was working hard to satisfy you, you were working hard to beat him.
Meadow silently processed Renates words. Shed always felt that she was the leader in their training dynamic; she had the education and experience anyway.
You were giving me the same practice times for nearly a year before Logan showed up. Since training with him began, youve shaved a lot off those times, Renate explained. You dont realize that?
I guess so, Meadow murmured.
Youve gotten a lot better on starts and distance times; that wasnt a coincidence, Renate argued.
She nodded without objection. He has been good for me, hasnt he? And here I thought he was screwing my training up. One more reason to need him in my life, damn it.
But now Im also worried that having him around may make things more complicated for both of you, Renate was reading her mind.
What do you mean? Meadow tried to play stupid.
Do you love him, Meisje? Renate asked gravely, keeping her eyes on the road.
Meadow was frozen and scared. Could she really admit it to another soul? It would make it really true, if she finally acknowledged out loud. She was so afraid to say it, and let it be real.
You do, she had clearly seen it all over Meadows face when Logan surprised her by coming down to Milwaukee. A big sigh escaped Renates body and she shook her head in obvious disappointment.
Meadow could not suppress her emotions anymore, no matter how hard she tried. But she was also confused by Renates gloomy tone. Her coach had been pleased with their growing friendship a few weeks ago, and at times, even encouraging Meadow to find Logan attractive. Why was she distraught by it all now?
Renate continued, I just worry about him.
What? Meadow was now a little insulted. What about me? What about my heart? Why doesnt she want to protect me from this insane leap of judgement? Why is Logan the one shes worried about?
Meadow, Renate spoke soberly, glancing over briefly from the steering wheel, It will not last.
Meadow grew angrier, no longer caring whether Renate knew her true feelings. Why? she demanded.
You have fallen for him now that his fat is gone, she spoke plainly.
What? No! was all the response she could muster, feeling once again the pain of being an eternal romance misfit.
He will be fat again, Renate glanced back at Meadow, emphasizing the word will with her tone.
Meadow was screaming on the inside, I hope he will be fat again! Please, God, let him be fat again!
She continued, oblivious to Meadows desires, Hes confided in me, about his weight and eating problems... this has been a lifelong struggle for him.
I know, Meadow agreed begrudgingly, now loathing herself for taking such pleasure in what clearly caused a lot of grief for him in his life.
While he has hockey, he has a chance to stay lean. But even if he lasts through the next season and is lucky enough to get picked up with a professional team, I dont think it will be too long... that hip injury has been a problem for him for years now, and it wont go away, especially as the game gets really rough.
Meadow felt badly for Logan on that issue, knowing full well how devastating an injury is for any athlete. And the chronic ones were like a time bomb just waiting to go off at the next slightest hit or fall. College hockey was a more controlled game; but pro hockey, especially the minors, has a ferocity that could decimate any vulnerability. Logans hip flexor would never be completely safe from catastrophic injury; and that would undoubtedly sideline him for good.
Once hes done, Renate sighed and explained, when hes not working out and training two or three hours every single day, hell gain it all back. You even said it yourself once, Logan is naturally overweight. If you expect him to stay as hard as he is now, you will be let down, Renate spelled it out for Meadow.
I wont be, I dont... Meadow continued to sputter, trying to pull her uncomfortable defense together. I didnt just start liking him because he lost weight, thats not how I am.
You say that now, but what if he becomes obese, Meadow? I know you. You are a perfectionist. You will not be able to hide your disappointment, Renate was pushing the issue hard. It will devastate him if he cant meet your high standards.
How could Meadow explain how wrong her coach was? Could Renate ever understand that she looked forward to a day that Logan could be himself and soften charmingly up into his natural body? When he could even become obese, or whatever weight that he might progressively fall into? Meadow swallowed, feeling her whole body clench up, caught between embarrassment, frustration and desire. She hated being stuck in the car where she couldnt just make some smart ass comment and walk away from it.
You dont understand, Renate, I am fine with... I like... Im actually...I...
Renate interrupted her stuttering with impatience, What are you trying to say, Meisje?
Meadow paused, took a deep breath and started over. You assume my standards... you think you know what I want, or what I expect, but youre wrong, she finally protested. I actually like bigger guys, she said loudly, and then brought her tone down to almost a whisper, like Logan was before.
She turned her hot face way toward the passenger window, fearing Renates reaction to something so unorthodox to their athletic way of life.
Renate was just silent, apparently taking it all in.
Do you remember Tim? Meadow asked Renate, groping for something more concrete to explain her preference.
I never met Tim, Renate was still seeming to process what Meadow was trying to convey to her.
Well, he was kind of...chubby, or whatever... and I liked that about him, Meadow spoke apprehensively.
He was? Renate was surprised.
Yeah, Meadow nodded.
So you are more flexible than I thought, Renates concern now melted into a curious smile.
Maybe? I dont know, she sighed. I do know I dont really get excited for cocky guys with six-pack abs, she smirked.
What is this six pack thing? I know what its supposed to describe, but I never understood this saying, what is a six-pack? Renate asked Meadow.
Meadow now giggled at Renates confusion. Sometimes an English euphemism came up that Renate demanded an explanation about. Meadow sat up, lifted up her sweater, and flexed her toned middle to illustrate. Where the tendons cross the abs, she spread her fingers along the grooves of her well-developed abdominal muscles. It looks like beer cans lined up in a pack.
Renate glanced down at Meadows ripped torso and let out a loud laugh, nodding, Ah, now I understand.
I dont know, Renate, Meadow pushed her sweater back down with a sigh, returning to the uneasiness of her love life, or lack thereof. Ive tried to keep him out of my thoughts since day one. I didnt want to feel anything for him, I really didnt. She had now completely relinquished her long held secret, feeling it evaporate into thin air.
Renate nodded with a small laugh, You did try hard to push him away.
Its hopeless... I dont know what to do, Meadow cradled her head in her hand and glared back out the car window as bare, white farmland passed them by.
Wait and see, Meisje, if its meant to be, it will be, Renate sighed.
Meadow just shrugged, feeling especially uneasy about that kind of ambivalence. She was never comfortable with leaving anything to chance. Her approach to life was built entirely on taking matters into her own hands. But she was nauseous at the thought of telling Logan how she really felt, and was equally sick over the idea that she could lose him as a friend over it.
So, you like the fat ones, hmm? Renate broke the silence and teased Meadow with a wink.
Meadow hit her coach lightly in the shoulder in playful frustration, Lets talk about something else, please.
These comments are all making me grin and feel fluffy inside - thanks so much to the regulars and de-lurkers alike!
I'm close to having something of a denouement written/edited/nitpicked, but there's this whole 'what happens after that' thing to this story that I have been developing, and I'm debating whether to make it just one big epilogue.
And, I'm trying to figure out whether I care about epilogue brevity, structure, etc. Ah, what to do, what to do...
On an unusually warm Sunday afternoon in late March, Logan sat alone in his apartment. The worst hockey season of his life was finally over, yet he was feeling more depressed than hed felt in months. His roommates were outside enjoying the nice weather, but he didnt want to be around anyone.
The only thing he really wanted to do was consume a massively satisfying meal; anything that he could get his hands on, fill up, and then hibernate. That new burger place a few blocks over had been tempting him for weeks. Those delicious grilled and deep fried smells tortured him every time he walked past since it opened back in January. A big bacon cheeseburger with a pile of salty fries perfect. I can reward myself, right? All the healthy food and extra training that Ive put up with for months? I deserve to eat something good for once. And some ice cold beer that would taste amazing today.
Having decided on his self-indulgent splurge, he pulled a box of summer clothes down from the top of his closet to find a pair of shorts, but everything hed been wearing over the last couple of years was too big on him now. He dug deep to the bottom, finding a halfway decent pair he hadnt felt comfortable buttoning around his waist since the summer before he started college. He was shocked by how well they fit, and realized how much his body had changed since then.
It made him think back to his very first UMN camp weigh-in when he was at his lightest; the same week that Abbey left him for Texas. He had vowed to himself back then that he was going to keep his body in perfect shape for the team, and never have an uncomfortable discussion about his weight again. Everyone was depending on him to do well while Logan had been still depending on Abbey to come back to him, and he knew what she always expected of him as well.
Yet somehow his best laid plans got derailed. The weight gain was so gradual at first that hed had plenty of time to get used to each fraction of a pound, making his thickening physique so easy to rationalize as just some body maturity or weight room enhancements. He also had slipped past some criticism for a while because hed been a heavy player for enough years that he knew how to compete at a high level even with a few extra pounds. His mental game and skating skills had long compensated for the marginally lost speed that a little extra heft might cause. But it finally got way too out of hand and caught up with him when the red shirt slapped him across the face with a fat dose of reality.
Still shirtless, he looked into the mirror and ran his hand down his abs like he did every morning to remind himself of why he needed to maintain his regimen. I dont want to let the team down again, damn it. One burger always turns into more burgers
Though instead of thinking of Abbey and what she would say about his lack of discipline, like he always used to do, he thought of Meadow and how shed been there for him during the hardest months of his life. Sure, she had been aloof for a while and tough for a bit longer, but she had also become pretty understanding lately too. He figured that if anyone could keep him off the gluttonous ledge, she was the one.
He threw on a t-shirt and dug deep into his confidence reserves, reaching out to her with a text:
Meadows heart jumped. Things had been pleasant enough between them most days, but there was also some awkwardness. With her feelings for him ever closer to the surface, she felt like she was always tripping over herself trying to act casual, and making a forced effort to be business as usual at their regular morning workouts. She really hadnt expected to hear from him randomly on a weekend, though.
Trying to stay cool, she texted back casually:
It was surprising how one little positive emoticon back from her could make him feel a little better already.
Sure Where when?
Goldy at 3?
Hey, Meadow walked up to Logan, who was already sitting on the steps at Coffman Hall, and sat down next to him.
Hey, he eked out a small smile for her, even though he was still feeling gloomy.
Shorts, huh? Meadow furtively admired his big, marvelously sculpted legs.
Yeah, he shrugged. Its nice enough out today.
Indeed, she took a deep breath and felt the mild, southern breeze over her face. Warming temperatures always meant shed be saying goodbye to outdoor ice training for a while, which usually made her feel disappointed. But instead, she found herself thinking that it would be nice to get her inline racers back on, especially if Logan were by her side to keep her challenged. It was funny how he had improved her usual attitude towards lifes little frustrations.
His eyes glanced over at her, observing her pretty profile. She always managed to be so naturally sexy. Bad idea to get lost in those kinds of thoughts right now. He quickly moved his attention away from her face and body to study the statue of their beloved rodent mascot.
Meadow could see that Logan was not feeling talkative, so she tried to fill the uneasy quiet with some conversation. I was here the day they unveiled him, she pointed to Goldy, who was as always, cheerfully smiling with his hugely cartoonish buck teeth.
Hes still happy at least, he smirked at the bronze Gophers silly face and looked down.
She clearly saw how sour his mood was and stood up, Come on, lets walk.
As they strolled along the campus walkways, Meadow made more small talk about her time there as a student while Logan stayed mostly quiet. At one point, she observed a small group of college girls gawking at him and whispering among themselves. Logan was entirely unaware of their starry-eyed attentions, though. She couldnt tell if they were aspiring puck bunnies who knew exactly who he was, or just co-ed randoms crushing on a hot guy. Either way Meadow felt a weird protectiveness come over her. It was yet another odd feeling she wasnt used to experiencing.
Wandering north through the campus, past University and up to 4th Street, they ended up standing right across the street from the Mariucci Arena. Logan stopped abruptly, crossed his arms and glared back at that damn barn. It used to make him feel so hopeful about his future, but now all he felt was empty. Maybe he should have just gone and gotten that big burger and some cold beers; that would have filled his emptiness for a little while.
You saw the season ended last night? Logan muttered sullenly, turning away to pace. He was unable to cross the street and walk any closer to it.
Meadow nodded, Arent you relieved its all over now? She assumed hed want the season done with already so he could move on from the whole red shirt setback.
I dont know, I guess I should be, he irritably shoved his hands in his pockets. He definitely wasnt feeling relief right now though.
Maybe it worked out for the best. Now you dont have to end your college career on a mediocre season, she suggested to cheer him up.
Thats just the thing... not being part of the team let them all down. Maybe we would have had a better season if I hadnt been such a fuck up, Logan seemed really miserable; more so than she had ever seen him before.
You cant think that way, Logan. You cant get bogged down in regrets. Theres nothing you can do now to change whats happened, so you have to just focus on whats ahead of you, she tried to keep him positive. That had become her role with him more and more, unlike in their early days of training together when she tried her hardest to be entirely negative towards him.
He just shook his head though. The season-ending loss to St. Cloud State that knocked them out of the tournament was a bitter blow for his teammates; but not being there to help them get a critical win had finally hit him really hard. The Huskies last minute goal that cost the Gophers the game felt like a knife in his stomach. The scoring winger threw a shoulder fake at his defending teammate while Logan just sat on the sidelines, watching it coming from a mile away. He had been in front of that move hundreds of times and could have easily defended that shot had he been on the ice.
Meadow was obviously trying to be nice, but she didnt understand what it was to let your whole team down. Not even the encouraging words from Coach Mike about reaching his goal weight and solidifying his chance to get back with the team had helped him feel better. It was going to be a long spring and summer ahead, during which he could easily screw up again; and that depressed him even more.
She studied the regret in his face. Geez, he looks so lean now. She couldnt keep herself from observing that too. He was even thinner looking than when she first saw his infuriatingly cute and snarky face at those day practices. His jawline and cheekbones were clearly sharper and more defined. As gorgeous as he was now, she secretly yearned for the softer, chubby-chinned face he had back when he was closer to 300 pounds; back when she wanted to hate him. Now he was down to probably somewhere around 220? Or maybe even less? Whatever the number was, it didnt matter. It was too late she was in love with him regardless.
The patient and stoic approach Renate had suggested for Meadow to deal with her lovesick mental state had only made her more emotionally drained. What the hell is wrong with me?I spend years coming to terms with my preference for soft and sweet tubby guys, not muscular jocks. How could I end up in love with a buff hockey player? And hes thoroughly oblivious too.
Logan took a deep breath and looked away, still fully immersed in his own disappointments. Meadow walked over to a bench nearby and motioned for him to sit down next to her, trying to pull his attention away from the distress he was in. He shuffled over to sit next to her, but resumed his morose stare at the arena across the street, she watched the sun glimmer down on his face, highlighting the scar along his right cheek.
Patience and stoicism totally evaporated from her mind as she saw what she loved about him that had little to do with his handsome face or his powerful body. She had fallen in love with who he really was as a person. He had so much resilience, courage and determination; not to mention his clever yet unassuming sense of humor. And at the same time, she realized that even in this lean body he now inhabited, Logan was still, undeniably, the soft guy with the sweet personality that she had always idealized as definitive boyfriend material.
Without thinking, she reached out and traced her finger lightly down the curved path of his scar. Logan, she asked him, tell me how you got this.
Momentarily shocked by her gentle touch, he instinctively put his hand on hers to keep her from feeling the exact texture of it. Junior league... I was 16. A scrum broke out in a rough game against Hopkins. I took a high stick to the face, he motioned his hands to show Meadow the dangerous trajectory of the hostile stick. I was lucky it missed my eye. They put in two layers of stitches.
Meadow gazed at him, simultaneously admiring his toughness, but also worrying about his safety.
Do you think its gross? He asked, looking away, feeling another jolt of uncertainty course through his body from her gaze. He was now being pulled from his pit of self-pity into the realization that she was solely focused on his face with an unmistakable affection in her eyes.
No, not at all, Meadow kept her eyes intently on him.
Panic was building in his stomach. How would he keep himself cool around her now? He glanced back at her, but she was looking at him with such intensity and concern that he had to look away again.
These are worse, he focused on his hands, rubbing his fingers over old scars, trying to avoid feeling what he was feeling. I should have bought stock in the company that makes Dermabond, he lightly chuckled to alleviate the tension.
Meadows hands went to his, Theyre strong, like you are, she murmured, not being able to stop herself from connecting to his vulnerable charm. He was clearly hurting and she wanted to help him heal; she needed him to see how much success was still ahead of him.
He smiled weakly, Its nice youre trying to make me feel better, her hands on his felt more than just comforting though. Shes just being a good friend, right? Thats all this can possibly be.
I just think you should see what I see, she was compelled to share her honesty.
What do you see? He asked with apprehension, feeling that heightened level of anxiety now rumbling from his stomach into his while body.
Youve never had it handed to you, Logan. Youve always had to work harder to prove yourself; to be better than what the scale said you were supposed to be or what coaches, or teammates or those stupid, cruel hockey fans thought you could be. Thats why youre here, playing at this level, with a great team willing to give you another shot. Youre that good, dont you see? The words poured out of her mouth.
Logan was struck by the way she had so accurately described the frustrations hed felt for as long as hed been on skates. It was a perfect summary of all the extra work, practice drudgery, self-doubts and even the successes too. Hed never put that into words to anyone before though; no coach, no teammate not even his parents; and certainly not any former girlfriend. He swallowed hard and looked down at the ground again to hide his emotional response to her intuitive words.
Youre even still sticking with our Friday yoga sessions and you hate those, she made a small joke to ease his visible uneasiness. And, you have gotten pretty damn good at that too, she laughed.
Its not that bad, he smiled through his white lie, pushing his emotions back under his well-trained thick skin. He still thought yoga was annoying but he could see how it might have been helping him loosen up the chronic tightness hed always felt in his back and hips.
See? Youre amazing, she tried to laugh, but felt her throat clench up.
Logan looked back into her affectionate eyes, overwhelmed by his clear feelings for her. I cant kiss her, shell push me away; it will ruin everything.
She put her hand back on his scarred cheek. I have to kiss him, I cant hold back any longer. She guided his face to hers and gave him a soft kiss.
Logan felt his muscles go from rigid to mush as her lips grazed his lips, and her fingers browsed along his chest to his arm and shoulder. He had thought many times about what it would be like to take ahold of her with aggression and lust but now he was made powerless by the way her hands felt on his body, and her lips on his.
Shes kissing me and touching me like she wants me His senses went into overload, as her little hands brushed along his back. The sweet citrus scent in her hair and the faint hint of pleasure coming from her mouth made him feel hypnotized. He had tried so hard to stop himself from imagining this moment, that he was easily lost in it. All the negativity just flew out of his body with this physical connection.
But then, one of Meadows hands landed on his side, grabbing ahold of the exact spot where his love handles always settled in, jerking him back to reality. It was that same place she grabbed onto him at Lake of the Isles. As quickly as his pessimism had dissipated, it returned right back into his head.
Renate had planted the seeds in his head about facing his future in their honest conversations about his weight, suggesting what he knew deep down to be true. Having lived in his body for almost 23 years, and fighting it every single day, since as far back as he could remember, he knew he would get fat again. Maybe a year from now, or maybe even longer, if his body would even allow it. But without serious daily training, he would eventually grow back into that 300 pound chubster he was last fall, or possibly even bigger. If Meadow stuck around long enough, he would become completely unacceptable to her strict hard body criteria. He withdrew from her, reminded of the inevitable.
What is it Logan? Her throat clamped up again, but this time with dread, as he apprehensively pulled away. A wave if regret washed over her. Now hes going to deliver on the rejection that I had always wanted to avoid in the first place.
Meadow, I like you... a lot. How could he explain his big, fat, pathetic fate to her without mortifying himself?
But not that way... she looked down, sick inside. I should have never kissed him. Hes doesnt feel the same way. Im such an idiot.
No, he put his hand gently on her shoulder, wanting to take away the hurt that was so clearly covering her face. I mean, yes, I do like you that way, he revealed and smiled gently to reassure her. Im just not sure whats going to happen to me...
None of us know whats going to happen in the future, she exhaled in frustration with a side of relief. He likes me? Really? That way?
Maybe, he started with a pause, but then began to confess his fears. Maybe I look good to you now, but I may not stay this way. I cant play forever... I love the game, the competition, and winning, he half-smiled. But I also know I want to keep all my teeth, my hips, my back, my brain... Without constant training though, I dont know what will happen to my body either, he covered his middle with crossed arms, but you probably wont like it.
His cautionary words were the same as Renates had been to Meadow, as if they were both conspiring to keep her from appreciating him as a person, not to mention his wonderful, amazing and sexy tendency to be heavy.
Logan, you dont understand, she stopped him with her own gentle smile. She was now actually a little relieved that his objection to her romantic overtures was based on his weight insecurities, and that he really did like her. But his words, maybe I look good to you now, thoroughly sliced into her.
What more was there to understand? Logan pulled his crossed arms more tightly into his body with a grimace. He had plenty of experience with what girls didnt want... like Abbey, who only showed interest in him once he had slimmed down. And Emily, who became antagonistic once more weight piled on. Even back to being a kid, the way his sisters friends laughed along when she teased him, calling him fat names... hed never been fully able to escape the taunting that sometimes still echoed in his head: Lardass Porky Cake eater.
Meadow could see his pain and was kicking herself for having been so unkind to him in the past. She knew she had to explain her earlier behavior. Ill admit, when we first met, I didnt like you, and I didnt want to like you, she started.
He nodded with a smirk, relieved to hear her admit as much. He wasnt crazy back then. She had definitely intended to be ice cold to him.
But I was still attracted to you, she felt her face getting hotter and took a deep breath. And it made me crazy, because I didnt want to like a smug hockey player.
Meadow, Logan shook his head, wondering if she even still remembered how big he was back in September. I was really overweight... the biggest Id ever been, and red-shirted. My ego was decimated. I was so not smug. How on earth could you have seen anything but weakness in me?
Im telling you that I was very attracted to you, Logan, but she still saw doubt in his face. She paused and took another deep breath. I like big... or well, you know, some meat, on a guy, she nervously pulled her shoulders inward, groping for words that wouldnt make him uncomfortable. She was feeling flushed admitting her feelings to him, and didnt want him to think she was weird for liking what she liked. But getting to know you who you really are, as a person; thats what made me feel this way about you.
What way about me? He was still analyzing her words, trying to figure out if she was really saying what she was saying.
The way that makes me want to kiss you, she softly smiled. I cant tell him I love him yet, he might fully freak out.
And if I screw up again? Youve seen me fat, Meadow, it wasnt good, he felt compelled to warn her again.
It was good, she blurted in defense of his chubbiness, but her blushing wouldnt subside. She stroked her hand along his arm to try and reassure him, its all good with you.
I just dont get it, Meadow. Youve been training hard with me for months to get me in shape. He was really confused as her words certainly didnt match up with her actions. When I was fat, she was indifferent, even hostile. Now Im pretty much cut, and shes kissing me. It doesnt add up. The other day, Coach told me not to get too thin; and now you tell me you liked me when I was fat? Cant you see how I might feel like Ive officially gone crazy?
Logan, Im saying that I just want you to be you, she tried to explain more. I want you to be successful and achieve everything you want in hockey, or in whatever you do in life... but I also want you to be comfortable with yourself... and eat whatever or however much your body says it needs, and not have a gun to your head based on whatever number shows up on the scale... and just be healthy and happy.
Thats a lot of things to want, Meadow, he smiled skeptically at her well-intended list, and they dont all work together for me.
Well maybe not all at the same time, she tried to clarify her reassurances. Weve done well together in training, and Id like to be there for you to keep it up as long as you need to, or change it up as your goals change. But if or when youre done with all of it, Id also love your body if it went wherever it naturally wants to, she smiled contritely and moved her hand to his leg, stopping short of putting it back on his torso.
Like back up near 300? And what if it gets worse than that? The cynicism in his face turned into more of a fearful look.
I dont consider more than 300 a worse thing, a coy smile spread across her face, remembering the sexy belly roll, chubby love handles and soft but perky chest mounds that he sported around his body last year, making her even more aware of the vibrant feelings brewing inside her thighs.
You seriously wouldnt be appalled? He looked unconvinced.
No, she shook her head and grinned more widely. Not in the slightest.
How can you be a personal trainer who happens to be on the verge of making the Olympic team, and still be okay with ?
Because my work and my goals have nothing to do with what I think is sexy, she cut him off growing impatient with his skepticism, groping for confidence in her position.
Sexy? He now smiled with a mischievous curiosity on his face.
Yeah, she grinned, finally owning it.
So are you... like... less attracted to me now that Im... not fat? He rubbed his firm middle and smirked, asking as if it were still all a big joke.
No, its not binary with you, Logan. I think youre amazing however you are. I just also happen to think a big, soft belly is also really darn cute on the right guy, she blushed beet red again.
Am I the right guy? He asked without even thinking. This was the most bizarre conversation that he never, ever expected to have with her.
Yes Logan, she was exasperated, of course you are... the right guy.
His eyes grew wide, while his heart jumped in his chest. He moved into her space, cupped her chin in his hand and kissed her intensely, as hed wanted to do for so long; longer than hed even realized himself.
Meadow melted in his arms. Every last crystal of ice that she tried so hard to keep frozen in her heart was entirely dissolved by Logans accepting embrace and warm kiss.
Well, what started as an epilogue-ish ending has evolved into a lengthy chapter of its own, with Meadow and Logans relationship unfolding in little vignettes of intimacy over the early months/years. I just really love these two and wasnt ready to let them go off together with just a few simple paragraphs - theyre just so damn made for each other despite the fact that they couldnt stand each other at first (in all its pride-n-prej tropiness, lol).
But I really dont think I can give a 10 years later treatment any justice... although that suggestion couldnt help but make me think mushy thoughts of Logan as a very fat and super-hot dad teaching his little girl proper stick handling while Meadow firmly coaches her on starting and crossover drills... a little too cute though, even for me, so, spoiler alert: I dont see this going that far into the future, but you just know how freakin gorgeous hed look in his wedding tux ;-)
I can say I felt oddly fortunate to have had some of this little story left to distract myself over the last several days. If it helps anyone else escape a bit, if only for a few minutes, then totally worth the effort.
Anyhow, heres the first bit of the last chapter. Im still working on the rest for you wonderful, patient readers :blush: