BHM The Improved You

Discussion in 'Recent Additions' started by Unbasher, Mar 7, 2019.

  1. Jun 14, 2019 #141

    jusbcuz

    jusbcuz

    jusbcuz

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    Ditto for me since 2007. I was moved to urge you, Unbasher, not to let your wonderful story wither away. I'm emotionally invested in these two now.
     
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  2. Jun 14, 2019 #142

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    @jusbcuz Wow, that's so nice of you!! I'm happy you're invested, that happens to me with all of my characters, too. Don't worry, I'm not going to let it wither away. Thanks for all the support!
     
  3. Jun 14, 2019 #143

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 23: Changes (part 1)


    Unfortunately, the end and the beginning of each new year, just when Mandy enjoyed some time off, was the busiest time for a German tax advisor, and as much as Severin would have loved to prolong the holidays with her, he needed to return to his desk. However, he had had an idea on their drive home from Mandy’s father's, and shortly after they had returned and were sitting down on the couch for a cup of tea, he broached the subject head-on, a technique of Mandy’s which seemed to rub off on him:

    "Mandy, you don't like my bedroom, do you?"

    His girlfriend lifted her eyebrows in astonishment and paused in the act of raising her mug to her lips. "No, I don't."

    "Don't sugarcoat it, will ya?” he smirked. "So, would you like to change it?"

    "Would I like to change it?" Mandy repeated slowly, drawing out the words. "As in ‘repaint it’?"

    "Repaint plus whatever changes you think necessary to make you feel comfortable."

    "Uh, Severin, I don't feel comfortable changing anything in your house. I mean, we've been together for, what, six weeks? I'm not one of those women who try to change their partner—"

    "I know you aren't," he interrupted her gently, "but I'm offering. We both know I have no sense for decorating, and I would like very much for you to feel at home here. If repainting and changing a few other things is what it takes, please go ahead.”

    Mandy’s eyebrows contracted. “You're actually being serious about this, aren't you?"

    "Of course I am," he answered with emphasis and gently relieved her of the mug in order to claim her hands. "Mandy, I trust your taste and I want you to feel at home here. Besides, I have a few busy weeks ahead of me whereas you've got some time on your hands. The timing would be ideal."

    Mandy's features and tone were still shaped by hesitation, but she looked as though she was warming to the idea more and more.

    "All right then.”



    ***



    Three days later – a “No pencil-pushers allowed” sign on the bedroom door had kept Severin from checking on Mandy's progress – the woman herself walked into his office shortly before he was ready to call it a day. She was clutching a gigantic pair of scissors.

    "Mr. Meyers?" she grinned at him. "I would like to personally escort you to the big opening ceremony where you will enjoy the honor of cutting the red ribbon and beholding the finalized result in all its glory."

    "You actually prepared a red ribbon?" Severin bit his lip. He should have known.

    "Of course I did. Are you finished for today?"

    "I am now."

    Shutting down the computer and reinstating order on his desktop was done swiftly, and soon Severin stood in front of his closed bedroom door, which bore indeed a red satin ribbon.

    "Ready to do the honors?"

    "Ready."

    Mandy gave a ridiculous little clap as the cut was made and motioned to Severin to open the door.

    "Uh, what the--?!"

    Severin's wide-open eyes traveled over a stuffed-animal covered pink, frilly comforter. Swallowing hard, he took in the round pink rugs, a white ornate oval mirror, no less than five pictures, one of a corny sunset, two kissing lovers' silhouettes, a fuzzy puppy and finally two sappy quotes about love in pink, glittery letters. At last his eyes came to rest on two pairs of fluffy pink slippers, one looking disturbingly like a size 14. The terrifying and overwhelming wealth of pink clashed terribly with the apple green walls.

    Finally he dared turn back to the author of the gruesome scene in front of him, whose eyes could have given the puppy's a run for their money. Her lower lip even trembled as she opened her mouth. “You… you said you trusted my taste.”

    All that pink, the big eyes, something did not add up. "Mandy, you brat!"

    Severin grabbed her narrow shoulders and shook her before he caught her around her tiny waist and twirled her around like a child.

    "So this is what you spent my money on?" he demanded of his girlfriend as soon as he had set her down.

    "No, of course not." She flashed a mischievous grin. "I borrowed every bit of hidiousity – yes, that's a word – from Miriam. She raided her elementary kids' stash of stuffed animals and princess paraphernalia just for me. The pictures I bought used at a little hippie shop in town. It wasn't easy, given the short time frame," she finished proudly. "Uh, the slippers I found at a 1€ store, so you'd better not touch those. Chinese carcinogenic chemicals and all that.

    "Thanks for the heads-up. So... how long until I may throw this crap out?"

    "Let's see..." Again Mandy raised her eyes to the ceiling and a contemplating finger to her mouth, which she tapped against her lower lip.

    "Oh, just help me, you little monkey!" Severin hit her with the first of the stuffed animals, his aim still perfect despite his lack of practice. Naturally Mandy's aim missed her target but soon a happy stuffed-animal and rug fight was underway.



    ***



    The scent of Christmas tickled Severin's nose, and he opened one eye in groggy bewilderment. Ah, the scented candle Mandy had placed on her night stand, the one girly item she had insisted on keeping in this room. Thankfully it was not pink. After the two of them had rid the bedroom of all the terrible pinkness, Mandy had produced the real pictures and one dark blue non-fuzzy rug. His walls were now adorned by a bright yellow banana captioned by the word 'KIWI'. Next to it hung a large framed photo of the two of them on Christmas Eve at Karl's that he must have forwarded to Mandy without Severin's knowing. There was another framed photograph of a peaceful, non-girly view over a harbor. And the best part: the language quote wall. His office might not be the place for them but his private rooms sure were, and Mandy had made sure to include tax humor, too.

    His precious, talented Mandy had transformed this cold, austere space into a room in which one wanted to linger, and boy, did he want to linger with her. Slowly Severin turned onto his right side and snuggled closer to his girlfriend's still form.

    "Mmmm… hey, you," he heard her sleepy murmur, and Severin could tell she was smiling.

    "Did I wake you?"

    "Yes."

    "Only you would be so honest," he snickered, pulling her close.

    "Which constitutes only one thing you love about me."

    Again he sniggered at her witty response, as usual admirably eloquent even at such an early hour, before he felt himself freeze. ‘Love about me’?

    Mandy had not repeated the word since she had let it slip nor had Severin returned it, yet he had to agree with her: he loved her unwavering sincerity, and he loved many more things about her. Did that mean he loved her? Mandy, however, granted him no time for reflection, as she shifted and turned until they were 'facing' each other in the darkness before Severin felt her nimble fingers slip underneath his T-shirt.

    "You know the drill: I’m awake, you take it off."

    The fatigue might linger in her voice, but her mind and tongue are already approaching 100%, and in wordless wonder he complied with his girlfriend’s incomprehensible needs. However, with each day he learned to question them less and to simply enjoy her admiration. When their bodies met again, she was topless, too, and they snuggled closer until they felt like one person. The feel of Mandy’s lips and the taste of her were one further thing Severin loved about her. For all her lack of experience she was a wonderful kisser and he relished every second with her.

    "Severin? May I light the candle? I… I want to see you."

    Damn, Severin cursed silently at what he knew was a most natural request – a request he still did not feel ready for. Yet what good would it do to postpone the inevitable?

    "Hey, aside from the fact that I want you so much I could wring out my panties, would it help you if I reminded you I have extremely limited sight without the aid of my glasses?"

    And with this one convoluted question Severin felt all tension flee his body on a chuckle. "Actually it would. All right," he added after several more moments of inner debate.

    Without another word, Mandy rolled onto her right side, came up in a kneeling position and reached for something next to the candle jar. Severin heard a lighter click several times, and after several attempts the small flame painted the walls in a warm, golden hue. Mandy turned and crawled back towards Severin, who clutched his sheet like a lifeline. Wordlessly she held his gaze, her myopic eyes shining with love and reassurance until he felt his hands loosen their tight grip on the sheet. Only then did Mandy proceed by gently taking possession of the fabric and pulling it downwards until she could finally claim a seat on his legs.
     
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  4. Jun 14, 2019 #144

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 23: Changes (part 2)


    Mandy could hardly believe she was actually treated to the sight she had been longing for for weeks now. Her eyes and hands traveled down from Severin's shoulders to where his soft pecs were resting like little pillows. His chest was almost completely smooth, with only a few hairs around his small nipples. Slowly she let her hands glide downward to the beckoning roundness of his doughy belly and felt her brain gradually disengage and relinquish the reins to other body parts. The sight of her boyfriend made her want to do several indecent things to him, on top of him, underneath him – as long as they were connected by a preposition, she wanted to do it. Such smooth skin, such softness... Mandy wanted more, and thankfully there was plenty to be had. Due to her lack of glasses, she had no means to ascertain whether Severin was following her progress or shielding himself from her reaction, but she fixed her half blind gaze on him in determination:

    "Severin, you should always be naked at home. From now on, when I ask for my Severin fix, I want it, and I want it instantly."

    Severin’s chuckle sufficed for an answer. The next thing Mandy felt were his warm hands on her back pulling her down on top of him. Eagerly they claimed each other’s lips and bit by bit everything else.


    How much time had passed Mandy was unable to tell. Slowly she felt pieces of her mind floating back, not all in the correct order, but what did she care when she had all she needed right here? Severin’s bare belly was resting against hers, and due to their heated exertions neither of them felt the need to cover themselves so she was finally treated to the full – though unfortunately blurry – sight of her glorious boyfriend. Mandy let her warm fingertips run over the soft folds on his side and over the copious flesh on his rear end to which she could not resist administering a gentle squeeze. Severin’s legs were wide and sturdy and covered by coarser hair than his arms or chest. His toes played with hers while they continued to hold each other’s gaze in wordless bliss. At some point, however, Mandy did feel the goose bumps spring up, and Severin turned her with her back towards him in order to hold her as close as possible and to provide her back with the full extent of his warmth. His fingers caressed her waist and hip while her neck was being treated to a tender kiss every now and then.

    "Mandy?" she heard him ask softly after a while.

    "Mmm… yes?"

    "There is something I've been meaning to ask you for some time."

    Instantly Mandy felt herself stiffen. Whatever could lie in store for her after such a solemn announcement? She felt Severin’s arms tighten around her and another kiss on her neck.

    "The one text I sent you a few weeks after our... well, after our last tutorial... what did you think when you received it?"

    "What text?"

    Mandy wanted to turn around but Severin’s arms would not budge. Apparently he was unable to face her for this conversation.

    "Uh, the one in which I told you we needed to talk and if I was allowed to call you?"

    "I never received such a text- oh no..." Suddenly she remembered.

    "What is it?"

    "I blocked your number back then," Mandy confessed softly. "I was so hurt and I never wanted to see you or hear from you again even though I missed you."

    "Hey, it's OK, I don't blame you." She felt Severin’s nose graze her neck, and if possible, he snuggled even closer. "I was just wondering what you thought and whether I should have tried harder to contact you."

    Mandy considered his words. How would she have taken such a text or any other attempts at contact? Considering the time it had taken her to gain some distance and to overcome what she had overheard in the cafeteria

    "No, I don't think it would have done any good at the time."

    "That's what I thought." If it was at all possible, Severin sounded both dejected and reassured.

    "Hey, everything turned out right, though, didn't it?"

    Mandy turned her head as far as he would let her, and this time she felt his vise-like arms around her loosen so she could finally turn to face him.

    "The understatement of the century," he smiled at her, and once again she could not believe she was lying here with this handsome, thoughtful and talented man. At his current weight, he might no longer have his pick of women, but he sure was a catch, and Mandy hoped to God the day would never come when Severin found they were too different to be compatible.



    ***



    The tiny, curvy person opening the door to them on New Year's Eve first pulled Mandy down to her level before she treated Severin to an unabashedly scrutinizing stare. Mandy had warned him her friend did not subscribe to the belief that curiosity killed the cat, or rather that she did but was equipped with more than nine lives.

    "So you're Severin? Finally I get to meet you. I’m the Miriam." She extended her small hand toward Severin, who shook it with his large one.

    "Hey, Miriam," was his only reply before he mouthed to Mandy as they were following her inside, "What have you told her about me?"

    "Everything."

    "Uh, what?"

    "Miriam and I are of the kiss-and-tell kind," his girlfriend grinned, administering a loving elbow poke and dragging him in behind her into a slightly overheated living room where a long, heavily populated table was set up. The ruckus died down almost as soon as the two of them entered. Instantly Severin felt the weight of their stares before he reminded himself they were most of them knew Mandy and would be curious about any man accompanying her to a party. Now make that a man twice her featherweight and you’ve got yourself literally one big surprise package. However, after the introductions had been made, Miriam's husband Ben and Severin fell into conversation as soon as they had taken their seats at the food-laden, table. The man was likable and easy to talk to. Still, every now and then Severin stole a glance at his girlfriend. At some point he saw her friend Miriam glance over at him before she leaned over to her. Instantly his ears perked up.

    "Hey, I like your Severin. Eyes like his should be illegal."

    "As should be everything else." Mandy grinned at her, causing Severin to stifle a chuckle.

    "You are totally into him, I can tell. I’m really happy for you, girl."

    "Thanks, Miriam."



    A few hours later, the old year closed in on a small hill close to Miriam's and Ben's home on which a number of couples were congregated, the tallest of which were holding each other the tightest as they gazed up into the color and smoke-filled sky, the signs of a colorful future full of surprises. Just like they usually began the first waking minutes of a new day together, Mandy wiggled closer. In this moment, each of them made their silent New Year’s resolution: to be holding their partner like this in one year's time.
     
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  5. Jun 14, 2019 #145

    Tad

    Tad

    Tad

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    The great white north, eh?
    So much sweetness ... I love it :D
     
  6. Jun 17, 2019 #146

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 24: Who are my friends...? (part 1)

    Although Mandy dreaded her first work day and with it the confrontation with Dominic, she yearned to do something about the restlessness that had intensified with each passing day. She needed to know how her best friend had used their time apart and which conclusions he had come to. When she sat down in her office chair on Monday in the first full week of the new year, she felt relieved to find sufficient occupation until her friend would come in to see her. If he came in. Indeed it did not take long until Mandy heard the familiar footsteps, and a moment later Dominic’s lean shape appeared in the doorway.

    "Hey, Dom!"

    Automatically she rose and moved to hug him, no matter how much he always stiffened. As much as she had enjoyed spending so much time with Severin, Dominic had been a constant in her life for seven years, and this oppressive silence between them had weighed heavily on her mind.

    "Hey."

    Her raised arms dropped like overripe fruit and her joy gave way to wariness at his succinct greeting.

    "Have you had a good Christmas and New Year?" she asked, desperately searching for a facial clue as to his mood.

    "I have. Are you still with him?"

    "And a happy new year to you, too," Mandy flung back at him. It should come as no surprise that Dominic would be so upfront; he had always been as outspoken as his father, a quality she used to appreciate about him. Now, however, she found herself wishing for a little more tact on his part. "And yes, we're still together.”

    Had he hoped the holidays would bring out the worst in them so they would break up, just so he could tell her ‘I told you so’? In that moment Mandy realized she was finally seeing the true Dominic. This icy coldness she saw in his eyes chilled her to the core, and she knew in this instant that even if he had declared himself at some point and they had become a couple, their relationship would not have lasted long. If a situation had arisen in which they had both felt strongly about our own views, she would have found that her partner was as hard and cold as the material with which he worked, and that ‘compromise’ had never found admittance into his vocabulary. Indeed his face looked as impenetrable as granite.

    "Suit yourself," he shrugged at last. "But don’t come running to when he does hurt you, which he inevitably will."

    A moment later he was gone.



    ***



    "So, how was your first day?" Severin asked his girlfriend, currently sitting at a 90° angle from him on the couch with her long, slender legs stretched out over his lap. All day the image of Dominic in her office had been trespassing on his mind, refusing to be shooed away.

    "Busy," Mandy growled, “and sobering.”

    "Dominic?”

    “Yes.” In a caricature, Mandy would have had lightning bolts shooting from their eyes. "Apparently he's waiting for the moment we break up. Honestly, how dare he? It feels like all those years I-äve known him were a lie!"

    Mandy shifted into a kneeling position on the couch and balled her hands into fists. Splotches of red appeared on her cheeks. Severin hoped his glee didn't show on his face. If she was angry at Dominic, that was good news for them as a couple, wasn't it?

    "I honestly don’t know how I can continue working with him," she went on.

    Nor can I imagine letting you, Severin replied silently, although he would let her make that decision herself without interfering.

    "Did he say anything to that effect?" he probed carefully.

    "No." Mandy shook her head with vigor. "But the way I know him he'll make a decision soon and follow through at all costs." Suddenly her spine straightened, and an almost frightening calmness spread over her features. "In our case I’m sure he'll either leave the company or demand of his father that I be let go."

    "As much as I hate to agree with you, I can very well imagine that," Severin told her softly and enveloped her hands in his. "I guess the only thing you can do is wait and see which one it's going to be."

    "Yep.”

    "You seem awfully calm about this."

    "Surprisingly I am," Mandy shrugged. "I don’t know, it feels like… everything is going to turn out alright no matter what. I know what I want now career-wise, and as painful as all of this is, I’m glad I finally see clear."

    What an admirable attitude, Severin silently marveled. Not many people would be able to face such a life-altering issue with such composure. ‘Finally see clear’… did that mean she did not regret having chosen him? He had cost her a close friend after all. Although he did not dare ask the question out loud, he needed to feel her close now so he might believe she did indeed not regret her decision. He tugged at her hand until she snuggled up beside him and he could settle his arm around her.

    "You know, I really admire how you're handling the situation. You're a really strong person."

    "Thank you," he heard her answer softly a moment later. "I don’t know if I could stay so calm if I didn’t have you, though."

    Severin's only answer was to tighten his hold on her but he felt sure Mandy knew how much her words meant to him. Suddenly he remembered something.

    "I can’t wait to show you off to Jordan."

    His birthday was coming up on Sunday in two weeks. Mandy turned in his embrace, and his heart warmed at her widening smile.

    "And I can’t wait to meet him."



    ***



    "Uncle Severin!"

    Jordan’s and Leann’s daughter Yolanda squealed and launched herself into Severin's… knees, and automatically he reached down to pick up the darling creature with the pigtails and the endearing smile.

    "Uncle?" he heard Mandy’s incredulous voice and turned to look over his shoulder, only to find she had been following the scene with rapt attention.

    "Who is that?" Yolanda demanded before Severin could answer, and he turned in his spot so Yolanda could look at his companion.

    "Hi there, I'm Mandy. And what's your name?"

    Severin could not see his girlfriend's face but the smile in her voice was clearly audible. He felt Yolanda shift. Were they shaking hands?

    "Yolanda."

    "It's nice to meet you, Yolanda."

    "And as always my little girl is the first to open the door for you, man." Jordan appeared in the hallway, smiling broadly at him and Mandy. "Whenever Severin comes to visit – which is not nearly often enough," he added with a pointed look, "Yolanda sticks to him like glue."

    "Smart girl," Mandy smiled.

    She was wearing the burgundy dress again she had chosen for their first date, an outfit that showed off her slender legs to perfection. In Severin's opinion she had never looked prettier, and his heart swelled with pride at his lovely girlfriend. Her eyes were still fixed on the little girl in his arms, looking positively taken with the view, and suddenly Severin found himself swallowing hard. No one had ever looked at him – not even the thin him – with such tenderness and longing like Mandy was at this very moment.

    "So you're the infamous Mandy," Jordan interrupted the spell, and all three turned back towards him.

    "Infamous?" With probably half sincere, half feigned indignation, Mandy turned to Severin, and when he merely shrugged in slight embarrassment, she looked back at Jordan. "Whatever he claims I did, it wasn't me. And besides, everyone else was doing it and it shouldn't be forbidden in the first place."

    Both Jordan and Severin let out barks of laughter, and the little charge in his arms joined in, not wanting to feel left out despite her lack of understanding.

    "I see that Severin was right about you. Welcome."

    And he opened his arms for a hug into which Mandy stepped readily, and Severin felt his pride surge again at his not only pretty but witty girlfriend. Although he had felt no real trepidation about this meeting, it felt good to know his girlfriend and his best friend would get along.
     
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  7. Jun 17, 2019 #147

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 24: Who are my friends...? (part 2)


    Severin was not the only one who felt that way. Mandy liked Jordan immediately. He was a well-built, handsome man she vaguely remembered from their university days. He was almost as tall as Severin and had an engaging smile. Being black and named Jordan I bet he has had to deal with his share of basketball jokes all his life, she thought with a grin as she handed him his wrapped gift, a new Raspberry Pi. Jordan was into retro-gaming.

    "Happy birthday," she wished him, and Severin added, "Yeah, happy birthday, man. I would hug you hello but I don't want to crush the boss here." He nodded down at Yolanda's grinning face.

    "Smart move. You'd regret it."

    A moment later his wife Leann, short and sturdy with a very pretty face and a wealth of honey-blond curls, appeared by his side and hugged both Mandy and Severin with a wide smile.

    "Shoes off, shoes off!" Yolanda chanted when Mandy had closed the door.

    "Well, you've got to let go of me then, sweetheart," Severin smiled at her.

    Yolanda's insistence on the house rule won over her attachment to Severin, and after they had taken off our shoes, jackets and other seasonal paraphernalia – the temperature had dropped way below zero – they followed Jordan down the short hallway and into a living-cum-dining room cluttered with toys. Yolanda, who had been sticking close to Severin all this while, now pulled at his hand to show him her 'bestest Christmas gift of all'. Mandy was still unable to tear her gaze away from her and Severin. Yolanda sat him down on the floor and babbed away while she poured out a wealth of multicolored rubber elements from a plastic jar that looked like 3D puzzle pieces with suction cups.

    "Squigz." Leann had followed Mandy's gaze and nodded at the heap on the ground. "You can create anything with them – or just stick them to every smooth surface," she sighed with a smile. "Mostly the latter."

    "I can imagine!"

    Mandy returned her smile but continued to watch the unlikely couple of the floor for a while before she turned back towards Leann. "Yolanda called Severin ‘Uncle’ earlier. Is he her godfather?"

    "No. We asked him at the time, but he said he didn’t feel comfortable accepting. He was afraid he wouldn’t be any good with children," Leann remarked quietly.

    "Needless worries."

    Mandy shook her head, still fascinated by the scene in front of her. Leann looked as though she wanted to ask something but didn't, and the next moment Jordan had reappeared from the kitchen and crossed over to his daughter.

    "OK, sweetie, you have stolen your Uncle Severin away from all of us long enough. Remember how we share things?"

    Yolanda giggled at that. "But we can't share him, he is a person!"

    "Well, sometimes we share people, too,” Jordan grinned and bent down to scoop up the squealing girl.

    Severin looked a little embarrassed at finding Mandy's gaze on him while he pushed himself to his feet again with some effort. Embarrassment at his exertion or at my having witnessed his interaction with Yolanda? Mandy wondered. Whatever his reason, he had to know there was no need for either.

    "You said that you liked childre, but I didn't know you were so great with them," she murmured to him as they approached the table laid with dishes and a giant platter of onion quiche.

    "Child. Singular," he offered a humble smile. "She's a great kid. Nobody could resist her charm."

    Although Mandy thought differently, she remained silent, and they joined the others at the table where Yolanda had already commanded everyone's attention.

    "I wanted to have pasta today but Daddy wanted this."

    Her tone and face left no doubt about her attitude towards this.

    "Well, it is my birthday, thank you very much, so I get to choose what we're eating," Jordan told her with a serious face.

    "But you like pasta, too!" Yolanda objected, and Mandy struggled to suppress a smile at her insistence.

    "But I don't like it every day. Today I wanted something different."

    While father and daughter argued about the appearance, palatability and name of the quiche, Leann rolled her eyes and leaned over to Mandy. "No dairy, by the way."

    Severin only shrugged when Mandy's gaze flitted over to him. How thoughtful of him to remember. She could have kissed him right here and then, and she definitely would make up for this missed opportunity later. Leann told them to help themselves, and after some fussing even Yolanda picked up the tiny piece of quiche assigned to her and soon demanded a bigger slice after she had devoured the first one within seconds.

    "Told you you'd like it," Jordan delivered a smug grin at her and then turned to Mandy. "So, Severin tells me you work at a stonemason's company?"

    "Yes, I run the office and I've begun to design individual headstones as well. We're trying to get more people interested in a traditional burial again by creating a stone for them that reflects their loved one."

    "Wow, I've never thought about burials that way, but that definitely sounds like a great concept. Huh, if Lee weren't so good at her job, she could generate some business for you. She's a nurse," he added with a grin.

    "Times are not that desperate for us yet," Mandy replied wryly.





    Severin leaned back during the conversation, content to listen. His friends were the best. From the very start they had naturally included Mandy and asked her questions to make her feel as welcome as if she were one of their closest friends, too. Yolanda was still a little hesitant with Mandy but Severin could tell she was opening up. As he had suspected in the church at Christmas, Mandy was terrific with kids. When he entered the kitchen after the completion of their meal, carrying a stack of dishes, Leann was just preparing the dish washer. Severin saw her face light up the instant he entered.

    "Mandy is a catch, Severin," she told him in a low voice, an unnecessary precaution given Yolanda’s loud chatter next door.

    "You don't have to tell me," he murmured back and deposited the dishes on the kitchen counter.

    "True, it is obvious from the way you look at her. And vice versa, I might add."

    A goofy-happy smile was starting to spread on his face, he could feel it. "Yeah, she is pretty amazing."

    "I’m really happy for you." Leann squeezed both his hands while her eyes continued to sparkle.

    "How about we take a walk later?" Severin suggested with a look outside, changing topics to spare himself an embarrassing flush. "It is freezing but if we wrap up Yolanda properly, she should be fine."

    "What an excellent idea!" Leann beamed. "If we tire her out enough, she might go to bed early for once. And now let’s get back in before they suspect anything."

    Yolanda pulled Severin down to the floor again and soon included Mandy, too, who followed her undeclineable invitation with a barely suppressed smile. Yep, she was great with children. While an admirable Squigz construction began to grow under their hands, Severin observed with a spreading feeling of bliss how his best friends, who had joined them, and his girlfriend were growing closer.

    Suddenly Jordan’s cell phone rang and he excused himself from the living room.

    "Uh, Sev?"

    He was already back, and Severin could instantly tell by his tone and face that he would not like the news.

    "Miles was here this morning."
     
  8. Jun 17, 2019 #148

    Tad

    Tad

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    The great white north, eh?
    Ack, cliffhanger!

    :)
     
  9. Jun 17, 2019 #149

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Mean, I know. Speaking of which:

    The masochist begs the sadist: Hit me!
    The sadist smirks: Nope.
     
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  10. Jun 18, 2019 #150

    RVGleason

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    [​IMG] :D
     
  11. Jun 21, 2019 #151

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 25: ... and who are my foes? (part 1)


    Miles, the unfaithful little shit! Although Severin knew that he and Jordan he were still in touch, albeit very loosely, the news came as a shock to him nonetheless.

    "He came by this morning for a minute to drop off a gift," Jordan continued with a worried frown, "and afterwards went to visit his grandparents, who live in the area. Now he just called me and told me he has forgotten his hat. He wants to come over and get it before he drives home again."

    Severin took a deep breath at this unexpected news. Not having bothered to visit him at the hospital more than four times, Miles had never seen him at his current weight. His omnipresent fear of comments on his weight gain were not entirely unwarranted, as all too many people in his fat life had acted on their need to point it out. True, the more people he met whose opinion truly counted, such as Gabe, Miriam and Ben, or even Albert, the more he felt himself gradually come to terms with the new him. Their natural acceptance of his size showed him that there were people worth trusting and opening up to. However, meeting someone from his thin past constituted an entirely new challenge. All the while Jordan had been following the play evidently acted out on his face by his racing thoughts.

    "Do you want to meet him or would you rather go ahead and go outside with Leann, Yolanda and Mandy? I can catch up with you later. Yolanda is sitting on hot coals anyway."

    Even though Severin appreciated that Jordan was offering him a face-saving way out, he had already resolved to face Miles. Any offensive remark was preferable to the constant fear of meeting someone from his former life.

    "Thanks, J, but I'd rather get this over with."

    "OK, if you're sure."

    "I'm sure," Severin nodded, gritting his teeth before he stepped back inside the living room signaling to his girlfriend that he needed to talk to her. Nodding, she excused herself to Leann and Yolanda and rose to join him at the door, her eyebrows raised.

    "Mandy?" Severin lowered my voice. "Jordan just told me that Miles, someone we were friends with at university, is coming over to pick up his hat that he forgot here this morning."

    "Judging by your face you're not overly keen on meeting him," Mandy remarked with a hint of worry on her face.

    "I’m not."

    Although Severin had led Mandy to believe that his friends had been there to support him after his accident, he could tell she had guessed the truth by now. Being the person that she was, however, she did not pry.

    "But I need to get this over with," he added.

    "I understand," she nodded with a calm expression. "Would you like me to be with you when he comes in?"

    Good question, would he? Miles had never met Mandy back then, and even if he had, he would be unable to recognize her as the university nerd. Not that he was retrospectively ashamed of Mandy – God, no – but he wanted to spare her from any nasty comments. Taking in the slim, pretty and smart-looking woman, he knew that having such a pretty, supportive woman beside him would both infuse him with strength and counterbalance his unfavorable position. On the other hand, if Miles had not changed, he would blurt out his shock at his friend's weight gain in the most tactless manner, no matter who was present.

    "Uh, not at first," Severin therefore decided on the spot, "but I would like to introduce you after…" After what? After Miles had overcome his shock?

    "Of course," Mandy replied simply and placed her hands in his. "I’ll go upstairs and help Leann get Yolanda ready and you just call me when you’re ready, OK?"

    "OK."

    Severin's arms slipped around her shoulders and he pulled her close in order to draw from her power reserves. She was so wonderfully accepting and uncomplicated. No one had ever been as special to him as she was.

    Twenty minutes later Severin heard the doorbell ring. Jordan cast one last reassuring look at him before he rose from the table.

    "Hey man. Sorry to bother you again," Severin heard the voice he remembered from university and felt his fists clench with a will of their own.

    "It’s alright. In fact, it is a good thing you came back because there's someone here who would like to see you again." He paused briefly. "It's Severin."

    "Severin?!" Miles ’s shock was audible.

    "Yeah," Jordan replied calmly, but his voice held more steel than a skyscraper foundation. "Why don't you go say hello," - it was not a question - "and please take off your shoes."

    "Uh, sure."

    Now Severin rose from the table as well, feeling his already simmering anxiety bubble and foam. A moment later his former friend entered. His style of clothes had not changed: sneakers, jeans and an admittedly fine leather jacket. He, too, had gained weight, though only about 20 lbs. – certainly nothing compared to Severin's girth. His blond, slightly curly hair had not receded one bit and overall he was still a good-looking guy. Damn him. In this moment Severin felt glad he had decided against having Mandy with him for this encounter, as he could not have borne her witnessing the color flee from Miles’s face as his eyes bulged, taking in Severin's new dimensions.

    "Sev?! What the hell--"

    "Watch your language, a child lives in this house," Severin interrupted him, glad to wield the conversational scepter from the start.

    Instantly contrite, Miles's lips clamped shut and his eyes darted around in search for Yolanda. "OK, OK, sorry, " he finally answered when he heard her distant chatter and lowered his voice. "I mean, what the heck happened to you? Jordan did say you weren't doing well after the accident, but--"

    Again Severin cut him off, this time out of an entirely selfish motive. He just could not bear to dwell on the painful past with someone who was responsible for a great part of said pain. However, he should have known Miles would show no tact.

    "Well, if you had bothered to visit more often, you would know I was confined to my hospital bed for weeks! If you throw in the fact that I can't practice sports anymore with my leg injury, the answer should be obvious. Now can we please drop the subject?"

    "OK, OK." Miles’s hands lifted in an almost apologetic manner, which did not mean Severin would allow his attitude towards him to soften one bit. "Uh," he scratched the back of his head, evidently feeling the weight of the absolute necessity of initiating a civil conversation, a task of which Severin would not relieve him. He would rather watch him fidget. "So, what do you do?"

    "I have my own tax accounting firm," Severin answered with as much simplicity as pride. "What about you?"

    Miles’s eyes widened again, and this time Severin actually derived pleasure from the expression. "Uh, I am the assistant manager at a furniture store."

    That tiny bit of information afforded him no clue as to the size of the business and therefore no chance at evaluating the success of his career. At any rate Miles did not seem overly enthusiastic about the topic.

    "Any family?"

    "A daughter, but she lives with her mom."

    Miles' features rearranged themselves into an expression of anger and Severin's heart almost went out to him. Very wisely, however, the faithful organ decided to stay put. Serves him right, its owner snarled silently at his former friend. And speaking of loved ones, he decided with a sly, inward gin, the timing could not be better.

    "And you?" Miles asked, obviously anxious to leave his own painful family situation untouched.

    "Actually, my girlfriend is upstairs, helping Leann get Yolanda changed. I’d like to introduce you two."
     
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  12. Jun 21, 2019 #152

    Unbasher

    Unbasher

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    Chapter 25: ... and who are my foes? (part 2)


    "Your… your girlfriend?" Miles stammered as if he did not only deem the fact that the fat Severin had a girlfriend outside the realm of possibility, but more like carving out a lonely, miserable existence on its fringes.

    "Yes," Severin bit out with barely controlled fury. "Hang on a sec." He left his former friend standing there in the middle of the room in order to cross the hall until he had reached the foot of the stairs. "Mandy?" he called up with a surprisingly even voice even though he was shaking with both anger and humiliation.

    "Coming!"

    A moment later, a pair of shapely legs appeared, and with them their lovely owner.

    "Hey," Mandy greeted him in a low voice, her worried eyes searching his face for any sign of distress. "How did it go?" she mouthed.

    "About as well as could be expected," Severin murmured back with a frown. "At any rate I’ll try to get rid of him as soon as possible and then we’ll all go for a walk, OK?"

    "Sounds like a plan," Mandy flashed him a conspiratorial grin and slipped her hand into his just as she had done earlier. Miles’s eyes widened when they entered, and Severin watched him conduct a quick, unguarded scrutiny of his girlfriend. As proud as he was of Mandy, he was definitely not liking Miles’s appreciative smile and the glint in his eye when he approached her with his hand outstretched.

    "Hey there, my name is Miles."

    "Mandy," his girlfriend answered curtly.

    The offer of her hand was characterized by wariness, which confirmed Severin's suspicions that she had already sized him up and judged him. Bravo. Nobody could be more deserving of Mandy’s sometimes premature condemnation than a worthless shit like Miles.

    "I’m afraid we need to get going. Yolanda is becoming antsy. We were just about to head out for a walk," she added with a glance at Miles without a hint of an apology.

    Although Miles looked taken aback by this cold greeting verging on a rebuff, he merely nodded before he retrieved his flirtatious smile. "Well, I only stopped by to pick up my hat. Have fun on your walk. It was very nice indeed to meet you, Mandy."

    "Thank you," she replied and shook his hand again with thinly veiled contempt. No socially dictated ‘likewise’ followed, and the only thought that was keeping Severin from picking her up and kissing her senseless was the certainty that he would be able do so in a minute.

    "Uh, Severin?" Miles turned to him, his expression suddenly devoid of his disgusting smile. "Could… uh, could we talk outside for a minute before I leave?"

    Talk? Severin would have thought that Miles would gratefully snatch at the excuse to put some distance between himself and someone he had wronged, but now he wanted to talk to him?

    "Uh, sure," Severin heard himself answer and let Miles proceed ahead of him before he glanced over to his worried-looking girlfriend. "It’s OK," he mouthed at her, striving to infuse his gaze with a reassurance he did not feel, stepped into his unlaced shoes and followed in Miles’s wake. Silently they walked the few steps to a blue Mini Cooper next to which Miles stopped and began to pat his pockets until he finally located the items in question. With slightly trembling hands he withdrew a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, and a few seconds later he took a long drag.

    "Listen, man," he began, finally meeting Severin's eye.

    Did he actually have to give him some credit here? He could have fled the scene and spared himself the agony of prolonging their awkward reunion, yet there he was, standing his ground.

    "I'm sorry I didn't come to visit," Miles continued. "Hospitals... they give me the creeps, you know?"

    Even though Severin could more than relate to the feeling, he was not about to let him off the look so easily.

    "Well, don't you think I was freaking out, too?" he growled "All of a sudden everything in my life was changing, and someone who I thought was one of my best friends was not there to see me through it!"

    "I told you I was sorry, what else can I say or do?"Miles hung his head. He looked the image of defeat, and in this moment Severin realized that this chapter of his life was finally closed.

    "You're right, you can’t."

    "Hey, but everything turned out OK for you, didn't it?" Miles mustered sufficient courage to reestablish eye contact. "I mean, you have your own business, a gorgeous girlfriend... speaking of which, how long have you been together?"

    The brief flicker of understanding Severin had felt just a moment ago passed as soon as he heard the lecherous quality creep back into his voice and eyes. He might have had the guts to face his cowardice but this was where the credit ended.

    "A couple of months," Severin bit out. Literally only a ‘couple’, namely two, but that was none of his business.

    "And how did you meet?" Miles grinned, taking another drag.

    "She works for one of my clients." At any rate that was all he needed to know.

    "Uh-huh..." The leering grin widened.

    Severin felt his pulse race and his fists itch, and he knew that he would not be able to abide his face or voice for much longer.

    "I never knew you liked the studious type."

    "There is a lot you don’t and will never know about me," he snarled, anxious to get rid of the lewd jerk.

    "Hey, no need to be so touchy." Miles raised his hands and eyebrows and actually retreated a tiny step. "I meant it as a compliment. She is hot – in a nerdy way."

    "Listen,” Severin snapped at him, grateful for every fraction of an inch he had over his former friend. "However sincere your intentions might be, I will not let you talk about Mandy that way. In fact, this conversation has reached its inevitable conclusion."

    Miles’ eyes narrowed at Severin's outburst, and he flicked his cigarette butt away with renewed confidence. "High and mighty as ever, just with more fancy words." His toned arms crossed over his chest and he eyed Severin with open derision. "You know, you always thought yourself better than everyone. Well, let me tell you something: you're no longer in a position to afford that kind of attitude. You've become fat and you've become dull. A tax advisor, please, how much nerdier can it get? No wonder Mandy and you have found each other-"

    Severin stepped so close that he could see Miles's pores and his hands itched to yank him up by his lapels. "Listen to me, you bastard!" he hissed at him, barely reining in his temper. "If it weren't for the fact that Yolanda might see us, I would punch you the way you deserve, you shallow, egocentric loser!"

    Miles, however, remained unfazed. "Oh, ever mindful of the child, are we?" he scoffed. "Are you hoping to be a daddy yourself soon? In that case you and your precious Mandy better choose your positions carefully or you might crush her in the process."

    "You little shit!" Severin spat at him, gripping his upper arm and hauling him towards the driver side. "You’d better leave now before I drag you out of Yolanda’s sight and crush you."

    That seemed to shake him out of his briefly regained self-assurance, and without another word he yanked a key out of his jeans pocket and pressed the remote. A few seconds later his car sped around the corner.

    Breathing heavily, Severin made his way back inside the house where Mandy was awaiting him by the door. He could hear Jordan and his family in the next room, but suddenly he could no longer bear to stay for the walk he had been looking forward to so much. He might have scared Miles into leaving but that did not mean he had taken his hateful words with him. In fact, Severin could already feel them burning themselves into his mind, and he knew he would always bear their scorch marks.

    "We need to leave."

    Mandy’s eyes widened but she understood instantly. "OK."



    Under normal circumstances it would have broken Severin's heart to see Yolanda’s little face fall at the news, and Jordan’s and Leann’s twin expressions were not much easier to bear either. However, with each passing minute Severin's reserves of willpower were dwindling, and by the time he unlocked the car, he was barely standing upright. Mandy had kept her silence until now, but as soon as he pulled out of Jordan’s and Leann’s neighborhood, he felt her eyes on him.

    "Severin? It's obvious your reunion was not a happy one so I'll shut up in a minute. I only ask that you don't shut me out. Tell me if you need time and space to yourself and I'll make myself scarce until you're ready, OK?"

    'Don't shut me out' – Jordan's words from so long ago, and now Mandy was using them, too. Although he should kiss her senseless for being so understanding about this, her unfortunate choice of one word only served to drive home Miles's point: 'scarce'. How could she possibly make herself even scarcer whereas he would most likely always remain this fat, conspicuous mammoth?

    "Oh, I'm ready all right. Once we're home, we need to talk.”
     
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  13. Jun 21, 2019 #153

    Chubhandles

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    I’ve just caught up with the last few chapters, and as always, your writing is incredible! I love Severin and I especially love Mandy; she’s so much fun!

    Jordan is the MVP, totally wins in the best friend competition. Miles need to go find a garbage can and promptly place himself inside...
     
  14. Jun 21, 2019 #154

    Unbasher

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    MVP, that's a good one :)
    Thank you so much for your praise!
     
  15. Jun 21, 2019 #155

    agouderia

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    Nosy question from a lover of sagas - how many chapters can be still expect from Severin & Mandy???
     
  16. Jun 21, 2019 #156

    Unbasher

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  17. Jun 21, 2019 #157

    Unbasher

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    I've had another story - waaay shorter but sooo cute - on the back burner for a while but that'll take at least six months to finish, and I never upload anything that's not done yet ;)
     
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  18. Jun 21, 2019 #158

    fat hiker

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    Severin's up, Mandy's feeling down - you really can't leave us in this state, you know!
     
  19. Jun 21, 2019 #159

    Unbasher

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    Nevertheless I will do so... at least for a couple of days :p I'll leave for vacation on July 5th, will I have uploaded the rest of the story by then or will you have to wait three weeks? Huh... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
     
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  20. Jun 21, 2019 #160

    RVGleason

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    :eek:
     
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