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Vongola27

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CHAPTER 82

Ever since Maxine Kuhn moved out to Philadelphia, she sought to break free of her shell and rarely allowed herself to wallow in self-pity but for a few dark moments. She had spent so long under Sadie Storme’s thumb, cowed into being someone else, that she refused to even entertain the thought of going back to who she used to be. No one was going to tell her what to do in her life, no one was going to make her do anything she did not want, and no one was going to treat her like yesterday’s garbage. Her life was her own for the first time in two years, and she finally had a chance to spread her wings and see how high she could fly.

The primary goal of that journey was shedding herself of the bulk and blubber that Sadie had coerced her into packing on. Maxine had once been Amazonian in build, but her evil ex had taken advantage of her gentle nature and led her down a road of self-destruction—one her parents could never have foreseen. After all, they always warned her against drinking and drugs, but who could have known that her downfall would be fast food and sweets? Sadie got her hooked on good loving and good eating, coating her body in a thick layer of padding and turning her muscles into pudding.

At her heaviest, the former Typhoon had been 250 pounds, though she looked and felt so much fatter since there was no muscle backing it up. The woman that had once been a highly sought after prospect for the GWF had allowed herself to become a flabby, out of shape blob who could not work a match for more than a few minutes without getting winded. Even if Sadie had not talked her into letting KC Skye get injured, she would have been sent down to developmental at some point—it was only a matter of time before management soured on her.

After she had been sent out to Youngblood Wrestling to get back in shape and learned just how duplicitous Sadie really was, Maxine vowed to make a change, and change she did. She worked herself to the bone, spending more time in the gym than anyone else and practicing moves until her body was covered in bruises from the bumps she took. Her style changed as she took on a hardcore persona and regularly competed in bloody bouts full of barbed wire, razors, and even shattered glass. Gone was the enforcer who waited for a cue from Sadie to make a move; now, she was charging head-on into action and demolishing others on a regular basis.

With that change in style came a change in diet and fitness, as Maxine cut out everything that Sadie had gotten her hooked on during their time together and she made up for months of inactivity by fitting in exercise whenever she could. The results spoke for themselves, as the new year saw the former butterball weighing in at 205 pounds—still a ways off from her goal weight but a far cry from the pathetic porker she had been half a year prior. She would likely have weighed even less were it not for her cultivating the muscle she had lost, though that added bulk only heightened her berserker persona.

To celebrate five months on her own, the giantess stood in front of her bathroom mirror and filmed herself for her followers, who had been with her every step of the way on her transformative journey. Maxine wore one of her old t-shirts and a pair of jeans, both from when she was at her heaviest and now hung off her to the point that she needed a belt for the jeans. The shirt could not completely hide her heavy breasts or plump belly, but the sleeves were loose around her arms and she did not have to constantly readjust it. It felt good to be able to wear whatever she wanted, especially after being confined to clothes constantly on the verge of popping.

“Whaddup, you awesome people? Just wanted to give everyone a big thanks for all the support these last few months,” Maxine greeted her fans. “You guys are one of the biggest reasons I’ve been working my ass off out here in Youngblood; just knowing that there’s even a few of you who still want to see me out there means the world to me. So, as a little token of my appreciation, I thought I’d show you some of the fruits of my labors.”

The towering woman rolled up her sleeves and flexed her arms, revealing firm biceps that had not been there a few months prior. She hummed in delight, “It used to be that I had flabby bingo wings, but that’s all in the past. I’ve been working these pythons since August, and I’m happy to say that your girl can lift her own body weight! Come Bloody Valentine next month, we might be looking at 250—sky’s the limit now!”

Then, Maxine did something she would not have felt comfortable with even a few months prior—she pulled her shirt up and exposed her paunchy belly. Back when she was a tub of lard, she hated showing off her gut, especially when Sadie filmed her stuffing herself or popping out of tight clothes. Now that she was free to do what she want and she had managed to shrink the balloon at her waist, Maxine felt proud at showing off her progress.

“This bad boy’s coming along nicely too,” she described to her followers. When she patted her stomach for emphasis, it did not jiggle anywhere close to what it used to—a sign of the firm muscles underneath. “Can’t believe we’ve gotten this far, but here we are!”

Maxine turned in the mirror to show how loose the jeans were on her backside, where they had once been seam-poppingly tight. She looked over her shoulder as she said, “And these jeans…I remember a time when I was afraid I’d pop the button on them, but now I have to wear a belt to keep them up! Just goes to show what you can really do when you set your mind to it. Thanks again for everyone that’s stuck with me, and I’ll see you all in the next video!”

After finishing her video, Maxine took one last look in the mirror and smiled. It was not so long ago that she had looked in the mirror and hated who she saw to the point that she was ready to destroy her reflection. Getting the boot had sent her to a dark place, but she had managed to come back from it better than she was before. A big part of that had been the support of the few fans she had left after the incident with KC, but more than anything, she owed it to two of the most important people in her life—Taylor Rose and Rea Rider.

When she first arrived at Youngblood Wrestling, the former Typhoon had little in the way of friends, so she gravitated to her fellow neophyte in Taylor, especially when she saw some of herself in the poor girl. The Shawnee girl was a small fish in a big pond and made for easy pickings with the backstage bullies, something that Maxine would not stand for. After she put a few rotten apples in their place for Taylor, the two had been thick as thieves and elevated each other in their own ways. Taylor had helped Maxine get her social media game off the ground, and the giantess returned the favor by giving her stout friend tips in the ring.

Then there was her girlfriend of two and a half months, Rea Rider. The two of them had great chemistry in the ring, where they had gotten into several bloody clashes, but they developed an unusual one on Halloween Night. Rea had approached Maxine with a curiosity and fascination about her girth and how she had gotten so big, which the giantess had been more than happy to show her. That one night led to several more, and Maxine not only in another relationship, but one where she was the feeder. The only difference was that she looked to Sadie as an example of what not to do, gently leading Rea by the hand as she embarked on a plumping road. It was exactly what Maxine needed after the hell she had been through for the last two years.

‘Hey babe, just checking to see if we’re still on for the Chinese buffet tonight,’ the towering woman texted Rea as she head out to her kitchen to whip up a chicken Caesar salad for lunch. ‘Can’t wait to see how big that belly gets…’

As she kept her eyes on the phone, a nagging thought that had reared its head over the last few weeks came creeping in. Rea used to be quick as a bullet to respond to her messages, but her replies were coming in later and later, reaching a peak a few nights before when she did not get back to Maxine until the morning after. When Maxine tried to bring it up in casual conversation, Rea always seemed to find a way to dodge around it and changing the topics straightaway. She did not want to seem paranoid or possessive, but after finding out that her ex had been a serial cheater, she had become suspicious of little details when things seemed amiss.

Maxine could not help but wonder what Rea was up to, and as her mind spiraled with ever worsening theories, she wolfed down her salad before she knew it—only when her fork scraped against bare plate did she realize how she hoovered up her meal. Her eyes darted to her fridge, where plenty other options waited for her…perhaps a little more would calm her nerves…

“Nope,” the giantess decided, clapping her hands down on the table. “We’re not going to do that. Gotta get some air, maybe go for a run, but no more food, fatty—you’re not going to ruin your diet over another girl.”

With her resolve firm, Maxine strode to her room to get her running shoes on and get the thoughts of stuffing herself out of her head. She was not going to backslide after all this time—not when she had made this much progress. Rea would get back to her on her own time, and if she could not reply right away, so be it.

“I mean, what could she be getting up to at noon on a Tuesday?” Maxine asked herself as she changed into her running clothes.
 

Vongola27

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“Keep chugging, you fat cow—we’ve still got another pitcher to go.”

It began a month prior, when an argument between Taylor and Rea grew heated and their personal feelings came into play. Being snowed in at a cabin was bad enough, but when their feelings for Maxine were brought to the forefront? Things were bound to turn ugly, though neither woman could have predicted how they would have turned out.

“That’s it…chug, chug, chug…”

Taylor managed to get an attack in on Rea and, after incapacitating her, dragged her rival into the cabin’s store room. She was relentless as she filled the redhead’s belly with everything she could get her hands on, cramming can after can down her gullet and depleting their stocks at an alarming rate—not that she cared. All she could see was red as she took out her frustrations on the woman that had stolen Maxine’s attention, doing everything she could to make Rea as miserable as she felt.

“There you go…just a few more gulps…”

Yet, when all was said and done, something changed inside the two women after that day in the cabin. For Taylor, it was an exhilarating thrill to have Rea at her mercy, stuffed so full that one more bite would pop her; for Rea, it was skin-tinglingly exciting to be fed and controlled by the more dominant Taylor. What was meant to be a humiliating punishment had turned into one of the most scintillating moments of either woman’s life, and they sought out that thrill again when they got back to town—the very next day, as it was.

Sometimes, they would meet up at an out of the way restaurant to lower the chances of their coworkers catching on; usually, they would just meet at one or the other’s apartment. They would start by pretending it was such a hassle to get together before moving into talking trash about each other, all in an effort to stoke those same fires that had led to the initial confrontation. One thing would lead to another, and Taylor wound up straddling Rea as she dumped hundreds of calories down the redhead’s gullet. She would then give her ‘victim’ time to recover and swear it was the last time before inevitably getting together again a few days later.

It was a formula that had worked out well thus far for them, with their coworkers none the wiser and their itch scratched—even though, like an itch, scratching it only made things worse. Their hookups lasted longer, to the point that Rea spent the night before at Taylor’s apartment due to a belly so full that she could barely breathe. Each hookup drew them closer to a line that if they crossed it, they would never be able to walk back. And more than anything else, Rea was getting fatter—even faster than she had been gaining in her time with Maxine.

After Taylor tapped the last of the milkshake into her feedee’s mouth, she leaned back on Rea’s lap to survey the damage. The redhead had been developing a shapely hourglass under Maxine’s care, but her middle was swiftly becoming her most prominent feature. It sat like a dollop of cream at her waist, oozing over her jeans and beginning a slow creep onto her lap. Her breasts—heavy, full, and in need of bigger confines—rested atop the globular gut and still took up Rea’s view whenever she looked down. Though they were hidden by her legs, Taylor could feel her rival’s hips squish against her knees, so wide that her curves rolled over the sides of most chairs.

“Guh…so full,” Rea groaned, so much milkshake packed inside her that she felt full up to her eyeballs. “Nuh more…”

“Only because I ran out of ingredients, fatso,” Taylor spat, though there was far less venom in those words than there used to be. She gave her feedee’s drum-tight belly a sharp flick, sending a wince through Rea’s weary face. “Maybe you’ll think twice about calling me out in public.”

The only response Rea could muster was unintelligible sputtering, her eyes glassy and distant as she struggled to avoid popping like a balloon. Taylor hummed in satisfaction at leaving her rival for Maxine’s affections in such a state—unable to do anything but eat whatever was put in her mouth, helpless to stop Taylor from doing whatever she wanted. If she listened closely, the Shawnee girl swore she could hear Rea’s bra creaking as it held back her bountiful breasts, and it was like music to her ears. It was so tempting to roll her blouse up even higher and get an eyeful of the plump melons, but perhaps more than a handful was in order.

Just as she put her fingers on Rea’s shirt, Taylor yanked her hand away and held it back as though it was an angry dog. She scowled down at her prone rival and grunted, “I’m taking a walk.”

The stout girl scrambled off her prone rival and out of the apartment as quick as she could, her cheeks red with a myriad of pent-up feelings boiling just under the surface. How could she think of doing something like that to Rea? Loathe as she was to admit it, the ditzy redhead was Maxine’s girlfriend; who was Taylor to ruin that? But then, was that not what she was already doing just by eating up their time together?

No…no, this was surely what Maxine wanted. After all, she made no bones about how she was fattening Rea up—half the locker room knew about their kinky little fling. And though she had not stuck her rival on a scale yet, Taylor had to guess she was over 200 pounds by that point, so, if anything, Maxine ought to thank her for turning her girlfriend into such a cow. Hell, if she got her fat enough, she could show off Rea as a Valentine’s Day present: naked save for a red ribbon tied around her blubbery breasts, another one below the waist, hidden by her belly apron…

“Out! Out of my head!” Taylor grumbled to herself, slapping her temples as if that could erase the mental image of Rea laid out on a bed, her soft curves on full display as she slipped bonbons past her rosy lips and—

A merciful distraction came in the form of her phone chiming, and Taylor whipped it out of her coat pocket to find it was Maxine. She was quick to answer the call, even though guilt bubbled away in her stomach. “H-Hey, Maxie, what’s up?”

“Not a ton,” the giantess huffed on the other end, out of breath from her run. “I was out on a jog and I’m over in your neck of the woods. Want to meet up for coffee?”

“Coffee? Uh…sure! Yeah, of course,” Taylor fumbled, unsure if it would be wise to have Maxine so close while Rea was passed out in her recliner. “See you at Jitters in twenty?”

“Works for me! See you in a bit,” Maxine replied before hanging up.

As soon as her phone was back in her pocket, Taylor nibbled one a lock of hair—a nervous tic she had never gotten rid of as she grew older. Guilt, shame, and panic roiled about in her stomach as she thought of what she was doing with Rea, returning as they always did whenever Maxine entered the picture. She knew that what she was doing was wrong—Maxine had shared her history not long after they became friends—but she could not help herself. Feeding and fattening Rea was addictive, and Taylor was hopelessly hooked.

There was only one thing that helped settle her nerves, and that was comfort food. Ever since her half-affair with Rea began, Taylor’s overeating had turned from trying to impress Maxine to trying to bury her anxieties under a mound of calories, and the effects were obvious. She had always been thick, but Taylor was fast becoming a proper butterball, with thick thighs that brushed together halfway to the knee and a bobbling belly that quivered with every step she took. While Rea had sensual curves like an overfed pinup model, Taylor was simply round, sporting wide hips that kept her hands from resting perfectly straight at her side and a rotund profile like Alfred Hitchcock.

Unfortunately, with how she could not end her tryst with Rea, Taylor was locked in a perpetual cycle of plumping. She stressed about breaking Maxine’s trust, binged to calm down, and grew chubbier, on and on, rinse and repeat. If she did not do something soon, she would be round enough to roll by summer, but more importantly, Maxine was bound to catch on before long, and what then?
 

Vongola27

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CHAPTER 83

Once upon a time, the Covenant Day Angels were a force to be reckoned with, ruling the halls of their high school with a well-manicured iron fist. The hand that formed that fist was the future commissioner of the GWF’s Monday Night War, Amanda Ericson, and if people thought she was a tyrant backstage, they would be shocked to find out she was even worse as a teen. The Little Rich Girl was every mean girl cliché rolled into one: snooty, rude, and demeaning; fashion-obsessed, two-faced, and a skilled politician. She commanded the Angels, the school’s cheerleaders, like a crime lord by giving her friends and allies clemency while running them ragged to keep the squad’s perfect appearance.

Of course, the Angels did not try to live up to their namesake, as they were just as bad as their captain in many ways; if Amanda had not seized the reins, someone else would have. They were a bunch of catty brats who enjoyed flaunting their wealth and status in the faces of those they deemed beneath them—that being almost everyone in the school. Anyone they could not intimidate, they wrapped around their little fingers with a wink and a smile, which got them out of many an assignment and got them a plethora of gifts. Covenant Day High School was their kingdom, they were the princesses, and Amanda was their queen.

As the years went by and the Angels matured, they left much of that attitude behind, with some even making amends for their past behavior. Life took each of them down paths they never thought, from marriages and divorces to children to professions they once frowned on. The things they once deemed so important were left behind bit by bit as they entered adulthood, right down to the tight little bodies they used to be so proud of. Time, wear, and tear led to most of the Angels growing soft around the edges, from those who had merely put on a few extra pounds to blowing up so much that people forgot they had ever been cheerleaders.

The latter was exactly where Amanda found herself as she approached the end of her second trimester. She figured her latest pregnancy would leave her bigger than the others before it—having triplets was bound to cause that—but she had not anticipated filling out as much as she had in so short a period of time. Everything about her was soft, even her belly, where her prodigious baby bump was covered with so much adipose that one had to prod her to get a feel for the precious cargo beneath. All of her old maternity clothes were rendered useless by the end of her first trimester, forcing her to go into larger and larger sizes as the weeks ticked on. It was hell for the woman who used to pride herself on being in better shape than some wrestlers, and there were still almost three months to go.

With the loss of her dynamite body had come a massive drop in her confidence and energy, transforming Amanda into a shell of herself and the very thing she had tried to avoid for years. As she got older and watched her friends change, she fought hard to maintain her body against the ravages of time. All of her hard work had gone up like so much smoke though, and being so out of control of her own body for the first time ever left her a mess. The medicine she was prescribed left her feeling tired and constantly hungry, which meant that the woman who used to help run the GWF now did little more than eat and sleep.

As if she needed one more reminder of how much she had grown and changed over the last year, Amanda received an unexpected visit. She was settled into her recliner—having inherited it due to how much time she spent in it and how her increasingly wide backside molded the cushion—and watched cartoons with her youngest daughter as she digested a belt-popping breakfast. Damn Heidi and her exceptional cooking! If only that woman was less of a good cook, then maybe Amanda could still tie off the belt on her cashmere robe—or even fit in it at all, since it was getting rather snug.

“Mama, can I have a snack?” asked Grace when the commercials came on.

“Sure, Gracie,” Amanda murmured, so full of eggs and bacon that even breathing was difficult. “I think there’s still one or two cinnamon rolls left from breakfast.”

There were hardly any left, though not from lack of trying on the massive matron’s part after having three alone. Ever since her appetite was cranked up, leftovers were few and far between in the Ericson-Hunter household, as Amanda would inevitably finish them one way or the other. Maybe it would be as a snack later in the day or even in the middle of the night, but the blubbery woman would always get the last bite of a meal.

As Grace ran off to the kitchen, the doorbell rang through the house and Heidi, ever the faithful caretaker, announced, “I’ll get it!”

“Not like I could hurry over there anyway,” Amanda grumbled to herself since the only movement she felt capable of were gentle ministrations on her baby bump. Everything had become a slow and arduous process as she grew more ponderous by the day; the mere act of getting up from a chair now a Herculean feat. She wanted so bad to not be some fat lump on a log, but it seemed that was what the universe wanted her to be after all these years.

After a few moments, Heidi called out to her employer, “Ms. Ericson, you have company!”

Company? At this time of day, on a Saturday, while she was still in her pajamas? Amanda had no idea who could possibly be dropping by to see her, but she knew that she would rather be caught dead than be seen in anything but her best. She sat up in her recliner and got to weeble-wobbling out of the cushy chair, frantic to get up before whoever stopped by saw her in such an unseemly state.

“Where’s the mama-to-be?” asked a very familiar voice from the threshold.

Too late. Amanda turned to see none other than three former Angels standing in the doorway: Petra Gassaway, Rhonda Liebowitz, and Jolene Armstrong. Among the notorious cheerleaders, they were the closest to Amanda herself—the capos that helped her run a tight ship. They were ruthless and cunning in how they controlled Covenant Day, but they were also the best of friends and had remained as such for the last twenty-five years. The girls had served as bridesmaids and maids of honor for each other, and Amanda was fortunate to count all three as the godmothers for each of her children. Any other time, she would have been delighted to have them drop in—any other time when she was not a pudgy, pregnant piglet, that was.

“Uh…hey, girls,” Amanda mumbled as she gulped back the anxiety that filled her chest.

“Oh my gawd, Amanda! It’s so good to see you, hon!” declared Jolene, ever exuberant. She rushed over to her old friend and wrapped Amanda in a hug so tight that she thought she might pop. “It’s been way too long!”

Rhonda chuckled as she walked into the room and flicked Jolene on the ear. “Calm down, Joey. We saw her back at Thanksgiving, remember?”

“Oh, hush, Ronnie—that was ages ago,” the petite brunette replied with a bump to her taller friend. “You know I need to see how Mama Mandy is doing with these precious angels on the way.”

Amanda flashed a nervous smile at her friends and asked, “S-So, what brings you girls here? It’s not too often to see you all drop in out of the blue at once.”

Petra sauntered over to the couch across from the recliner and explained, “Well, I happened to bump into the Odd Couple here while I was out shopping, and we figured that we should stop by to see how you’re doing since we couldn’t make it over for Christmas.”

Ordinarily, Amanda would have been bummed out if she was not able to have the gang over for Christmas or New Year’s, but she had been secretly relieved when their plans kept the trio away. She hated for anyone to see her as she was now, especially when it came to the former Angels, who all looked so much better than the pillowy matron in her eyes. Jolene was a twig of a woman, so small and light that Levi could hold her in a military press with ease, Petra swore by CrossFit and had the booty of a twenty year-old to prove it, and Rhonda, who had put on some depression weight after her divorce, had been slowly slimming down as she moved on.

“But enough about us—how are you doing, Mama Bird?” asked Jolene as she perched on the recliner’s arm and gave Amanda’s stomach a loving pat. “The four of you are still healthy, right? You’re making sure to get plenty of vitamins and nutrients?”

Amanda blushed at the touch and shrank back a bit in her chair. “Yup-yup…clean bill of health last time I checked. Everyone’s been taking such good care of me between Levi, Heidi, and the girls, but I’m making sure to eat healthy.”
 

Vongola27

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Right on cue, Grace returned to the den with a cinnamon roll coated in a thick cream cheese frosting and placed it in her mother’s hands. She ignored the embarrassed blush that crossed Amanda’s cheeks and explained, “There was only one left, so Miss Heidi told me I should let you have it!”

“That’s not…I mean, thank you, Gracie,” Amanda meekly replied, both hating the dessert in front of her and wanting to wolf it down.

“Hi Gracie!” Jolene greeted her goddaughter, ruffling Grace’s hair. “Are you excited to have a bunch of new sisters?”

The little moppet grinned and nodded as she answered, “Mhm! I’m going to be a better big sister than Nicole and Josie.”

The women all shared a laugh at Grace’s remark before Heidi entered the room with tea and a plate of snacks. She patted Grace on the shoulder and told her, “Let’s let your mother and your aunties talk, Gracie—I’ll watch Power Puppies with you.”

After the two left the room, Petra shook her head and remarked, “Cute kid—she’s going to be great. Amanda, you want me to fix you a plate?”

“Oh, I really shouldn’t,” Amanda hummed, even though she was practically salivating at the finger sandwiches and cookies that Heidi had prepared. “I had an awfully big breakfast, and the doctor’s telling me that I’ve put on a bit more weight than I should by this point.”

“What does he know?” Rhonda scoffed as she put a few helpings on a dish and handed it to the former cheer captain of Covenant Day. “Is he the one carrying around three human beings inside him? No, so I say live a little.”

It took hardly any convincing to get Amanda to indulge herself at that point; if anything, it would be harder to convince her to stop. She graciously accepted the plate of goodies and rested it atop the swell of her belly, as had become second-nature for her after spending all day in her chair. While the other Angels were still gathering their own plates, the matron popped a macaroon in her mouth and let out a blissful coo. Even after eating Heidi’s cooking all day long for the last several months, she was delighted to find it could still tantalize her.

“You said it, Mandy,” Jolene remarked as she took a bite from her own macaroon. “These things are so good, they should be illegal; you’ve got to get me the recipe.”

“Heidi’s more than happy to share,” Amanda replied before popping a second cookie in her mouth. “That woman is magic in the kitchen.”

“Clearly,” Petra hummed, and for a brief moment, Amanda felt like she was about to get a verbal lashing for how she had let herself go. She shrank back into her chair instinctively, like so many of her victims in high school, only for her friend to add, “The house smelled amazing when we came in—like we’d walked into the kitchen of a restaurant.”

Amanda’s shoulders slumped as she let out a sigh of relief. Still, she had to be careful around the trio, knowing full well what they were capable of when it came to bullying and belittling others. They had managed to make full-grown adults break into tears, and the demure doughball feared being on the receiving end of such a treatment. She needed to watch every bite and every gulp of tea, lest she be torn to proverbial shreds.

And why would they not? Amanda Ericson had allowed herself to become the very thing she swore she would never be—a fat, weak housewife who lead a pathetic excuse of a life. If she was still mobile enough to cook and clean, she could at least complain about feeling straight out of Stepford, but now? She would kill for that lifestyle, where she could at least be thinner than she was now. God, why had she not at least put on some proper clothes instead of just lounging in her pajamas all day like she was back in college?

What a sight she must have been when her friends first walked in: hair slightly frizzy and out of place, clothes tight around her plump curves, and sitting around watching TV like Bonnie Grape. At least they did not know that the cinnamon bun Grace had given her was fourth of the morning, or else she might have died of mortification. But she had never let her friends see her when she was anything less than a 7, and for them to see her as a fat, slobby loser made her want to crawl under a rock.

Where would they start? Maybe her fat face, with its permanent dimples and double chin, or perhaps her bingo wings that were soft as pudding. Maybe her milky udders, which had swollen up like water balloons and pooled to either side of her stomach if she went without a bra. And oh, what a stomach it was, with the girth of a beach ball and a thick layer of blubber that belied the baby bump beneath. The fact that she was sitting did not hide how wide she had gotten, with her hips brushing against the arms of the recliner and her thighs squishing together all the way to the knee. She was ripe pickings for the Angels, and Amanda dreaded the humiliation that was to come.

“Want some more, Amanda?” asked Rhonda. “You must be starving—you wolfed that down faster than my beagle!”

Amanda blinked several times as if waking from a deep sleep and glanced down at the plate on her stomach to find that it was completely empty. Damn it, she had told herself that she would be good! She needed to do better, especially with her friends involved, but she went on with her new normal and made an absolute pig of herself. The humiliation and anxiety that had been roiling inside her finally reached a peak and hot tears were soon running down her chubby cheeks.

“Sorry…I’m sorry,” the blubbering butterball whimpered as she tried to compose herself and prepare for the barrage of insults. She expected Petra to tear her a new one or Jolene to pinch her flabby love handles, but she could never have expected what came next.

Jolene wrapped her arms around her old friend and hugged her tight, whispering, “Hey, hey, it’s okay, Mandy—you don’t have anything to apologize for.”

“Yeah, what Joey said,” Rhonda added as she reached over to pat Amanda on the calf. “We’ve all had good cries when we were pregnant—it happens to the best of us.”

“What’s eating you? You know you can tell us anything,” Petra assured the former cheer captain. “Do we need to kick Levi’s ass?”

Amanda shook her head and fiddled with her fingers as she took a few steadying gulps of air, her eyes fixed on the gravid swell of her belly. She murmured, “It’s…I’ve just gotten so big and I’m so tired all the time. I’m just not myself…I feel so weak and lazy and useless, and I hate people seeing me like this. And I can’t do anything to stop it! I’m just getting bigger and fatter all the time, and everyone just thinks it’s so funny that I’m turning so fat and ugly, and—”

Jolene shifted her hold on Amanda so she could hold the brunette’s head close to her chest, which Amanda leaned right into as she choked back more sobs. “You’re none of those things, Mandy: you are the very picture of motherhood, and you have never looked more beautiful.”

Petra nodded in agreement as she moved around to the other arm of the recliner and held Amanda’s hand. “Did you think we would ever do that or say anything like that to you? Sweetie, we’re not in high school anymore; we’re not the same catty bitches we used to be.”

“Anyone who thinks you’re any less of an amazing woman should have their head checked,” Rhonda chimed in, giving Amanda’s thick calf a gentle, reassuring squeeze.

As she sat there, held by her three closest friends, Amanda was torn by a million thoughts running through her mind. She felt absolutely pathetic for breaking down like that in front of her friends, adding fire to the self-deprecating blaze that was eating away at her. By the same token, she felt an unfamiliar sense of relief as they gave her gentle reassurances that kept that fire from spreading much further. Amanda did not feel like the beautiful, wonderful woman they made her out to be, but she was glad to hear those words all the same.

It took some time for her to calm down, and when she did, she found herself plagued with hiccups, but Amanda felt like a weight had been taken off her chest. She looked to the Angels and gave the barest hint of a smile as she told them, “Thank you, girls…I’m sorry you had to see me like that.”

“No need to apologize, Amanda,” Petra told her former captain with a tap to her lips. “Now, let’s get you upstairs, out of those PJs, and make you feel like a 10 again.”
 
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