Chapter 7 Zach I’ve known for a while now that the change was coming, but I wouldn't allow myself to celebrate until it was a done deal. I have been serving as EyeGuard’s general counsel for a long time, and as of today, I am the president and chief operating officer of EyeWatch. The change in title brings an even heftier salary and a yearly six figure bonus. In the next 5 years when Doug retires, he wants me to take role of chief executive officer and chairman of the company. I’ll be shadowing him often in the next two years while also working harder to fulfill my new role as president and COO. This is going to be a lot of hard work professionally and personally, but I’m ready for it. My footsteps sounded heavy as I walked down the hallway toward the conference room. My 12pm lunch conference was 30 minutes away, but I always arrive a half hour early. I like to be the first one there so I can review and collect my thoughts. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. That’s my motto. My breathing was coming out pretty thick as I rounded toward the water fountain. I can’t believe I’m out of breath just by speed walking. I definitely took my in-shape days for granted. One doesn’t think about all the benefits that a healthy body provides when they purposely eat like shit and blow up into a butterball. Or maybe others do, I don’t know. Maybe I went into this whole thing a little too quickly, and with my head in my ass. All I know is that it feels good, and I’d do it all over again if given the chance to start from square one. I think. I don’t think I’ll hit my goal of 300lbs by the New Year, but I’ll continue my mission until I do, and then I’m going to eat cleaner and workout again. I won’t do it to lose fat, but I do want to be careful about things, although losing weight will most likely be the result of eating healthy and getting back into fitness. I just know that the next 2 years will be a very arduous process that will affect the rest of my career, and I want to make sure I’m physically and mentally able to carry on this load. Because right now I’m carrying a lot of fat in this belly, and just walking down the hallway makes everything bounce up and down, and very obviously. I ran my hand to the bottom of my paunch, and it quivered under my step. It was heavy, and when I filled my belly up real good, my underbelly became pleasingly soft in contrast to the hard orb of my upper belly. Those were my favorite moments. I felt like a fat house cat lounging on it’s back. God, and I love the way my belly stretches outward on the sides when I get my fill up. It feels like it’s a completely different part of my body when it distends outward with a disgusting quantity of food. That satiated, too fat to move feeling of gluttony is incomparable. The cherry on top is when Brooke touches me with her small hands and kisses me all over my puffed up body with her plump, sexy pout. I’ve never wanted to stop and continue something so much in my entire life. I want to be the glutton, but I don’t want to live as a glutton. I want to eat the food and make myself fat, but I don’t want to completely leave the life I’ve known for so long. This is where I get confused. These are the thoughts that go through my head just before I eat myself into oblivion. I experience the euphoria, and then a few hours later the guilt creeps in, and then I get hungry for my next meal. And the process just repeats itself. I bent down at the fountain to wet my dry throat, and I saw a pair of legs that went on for days stop at the side. It was Lauren, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect to see her there, either. I’ve known Lauren since I was a fresh out of law school newbie at EyeWatch. She’s always worked in a different department, but our office perimeters are close enough to bump into each other every once in a while, especially on conference days. When we first met as young, single newbies, we nurtured a heavy flirting relationship for 2 years before we moved into anything sexual. Then one night, when we all went out as a group for a few beers, Lauren and I let our caged up hunger for each other loose in the drunkenness of the bar. We stayed longer than everyone else, both of us fully aware of what we wanted out of each other. Lauren is hard woman to ignore. She’s got an exotic look to her that men crave. Bouncy long dark hair, overly plump lips, legs for days. She’s lean and tall, around 5’8, and very smart. After we had sex the first time, we agreed that we should not make it a regular thing. But it totally became a regular thing. It wasn’t just the sex I was after, because I did want to love her. And for two years I tried, but I just couldn’t get there. There would be times that I would beg myself to take the chance with her, but I couldn’t get over the fact that I felt like I’d be settling. Making it even more difficult was the fact that I couldn’t find any reason to justify my lack of “getting there” with Lauren, and it guilted me. A beast was inside of me, clawing at my insides in nervous anticipation, just waiting for the chance to latch onto someone worthy of my love. I knew that if the beast hadn’t released itself after two years of knowing someone mentally and physically as I did with Lauren, that I was just settling. I still continued to see her though, and to let her feelings develop for me. To this day, I feel bad for it, but I’ve done my share of apologizing throughout the years. Our love making often ended with her laying on my chest and Lauren talking about our future together. The “what if’s” and “wouldn’t this be nice” type of things. And everything was great, but it wasn’t love. I would have rather lived a loveless life than a life filled with resentment toward a woman who couldn’t fulfill me no matter how hard she tried. Lauren and I took a long weekend vacation together, where we played house and pretended like everything was alright, and would stay alright. But I knew it wouldn’t, and Lauren knew it wouldn’t, although she said she would give anything just to make me stay. After that vacation, I broke off everything with Lauren. I’d see her around the office looking like a bus had hit her, and I felt like a dick to know I was the reason. I questioned myself and thought that maybe I was just way too hard to please, maybe my standards were too high. Maybe I just had unrealistic expectations. All I knew was that in a relationship, I had only ever seen grey. I wanted to see red. The very next week, I saw Brooke. I felt a judgmental finger sink slow and deep into the side of my flesh as I drank my water at the fountain. I waited until my thirst was quenched before standing up to look at the pretty face in front of me. One eyebrow extended up while a small smirk played on her lips, and then she slowly prodded the soft globe of my belly, right above my belly button, like she had that privilege. I wiped a drip of water off my chin, the chin that I was born with, not the chin I had created recently. “Can I help you?” “Congratulations on the promotion.” Her twiggy arms were crossed under her not so generous chest. Looking at Lauren now, and knowing who she really is behind the mirror, I could list off a million reasons on why I couldn’t get there with her almost a decade ago. For one, she’s unstable. But also, she’s no Brooke. “Thank you.” “Must be nice to have the privilege of knowing the CEO since boyhood.” I knew what she was doing. She always did this shit. “Now that you mention it, it is nice knowing Doug, because Doug is a swell guy. But if you’re hinting at me not deserving a promotion, then don’t allow your bitterness to expel the real reason I got it: Hard work, thousands of extra hours of my personal time, leadership abilities, and my genuine love for people -just to name a few- got me to where I am now.” “Love for people? Zach, you are as selfish as they come. You’re out for you, and only you. You don’t care who you step on or use in the process.” It’s no secret that Lauren has been bitter since our breakup. I understand how it wasn’t easy for her to see her ex-lover move on so quickly. I know she was devastated, and over the years I’ve apologized profusely. But I’m don’t apologizing now. All is fair in love and war. A headache pulsed inside my brain. I rubbed my face to try and wipe it away. This victim mentality has gotten way out of hand. “Lauren, you’re doing it again. You’re bringing up the past, which I have apologized for..” “Your apologies mean nothing! Nothing you do or say will be enough! I gave my everything to you, and you left me to bleed out while you moved on along to built a life with Brooke. Your words are shit, because the damage is already done.” “Exactly. You just admitted it. I don’t have the power to help you move along. Maybe speaking with a therapist will benefit you. Now, I want to make something very clear to you. I will speak with you any time over professional matters at EyeWatch, but this interaction right now will be the last time I speak to you in regards of our past. Because Lauren, it’s been eight fucking years since then, and it’s all just inconsequential to me now.” I didn’t give Lauren a chance to respond before walking away.