Vermont Christmas - by Venjance (~BHM, FFA, Extreme Eating)

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Venjance

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~BHM, FFA, Extreme Eating


Vermont Christmas

by Venjance


Even the drive left Cole both at ease and prickling with eager anticipation. He had come to know Leah as someone unique, someone who… no, he couldn’t even begin to fathom the character, and it cheapened her to even try placing her in categories. All he knew is that he was looking forward to the evening he was going to spend with this fascinating, wonderful person he was going to get to know better. He couldn’t pass up the invitation, not in part because he had nowhere else to go. True, he had been invited to several holiday parties, but those were larks, chaotic celebrations that happened to coincide with a holiday, not be part of it. This was different.

Leah had invited him to her place in Vermont. She didn’t live in Boston as he did, and while he had shown her the brilliant city, she said it was time to see her side now. The idea both flattered and touched him, as calloused a businessman as he had become over the years. This was a genuine invitation, not one with a measured purpose of getting another contact or cozying up to a contractor. Cole had invited Leah to his place for drinks and dessert once, but that was just a residence, it was just a place to put his belongings, somewhere to sleep. But this small house in Vermont, this was her home, it was who she was. And he was to spend a single night within it.

He was taken aback by his own thinking, and would have shaken his head were he not intent on the snowy road in front of him. It might’ve been his subconscious, but that sounded dangerously close to sexuality. For the first time in two years, he had met a person he hoped to know more than just a casual lover, and suddenly he forgets how to behave properly. He was a creature of society, for god sake, and he’d forgotten the niceties that he practiced over and over again.

He pushed the thoughts aside as he rounded a bend and found the entrance off the road, a long driveway deeper into the trees. He would have called it picturesque were he not struck by the excitement and nervousness of a feeling he hadn’t felt in a long time. He pulled careful into the drive, not wanting to fishtail, and rolled down the long way, seeing just the glimmer of lights between the bare trees and evergreens. At the end of the driveway was an inviting wood and brick house, smoke curling from its chimney and outlined against the darkening sky, windows spilling a glowing light that pooled over the drifts of snow. To one side was a stacked pile of wood, and on the other, a picture window facing the steep incline, offering what would have been a lovely view of the forested hills down below were it not for all the trees in the way. At the end of the driveway was her little blue Mazda. Cole parked behind her and got out of the car, the gift and a bottle of champagne in hand.

He had hardly reached the main entrance before he heard her shout “back door!” With a shrug to nobody in general, he crunched through the snow to the back of the house, where a low doorway next to the chimney rested. He shouldered in, announcing “knock knock” with a smile, but stopping dead within the doorway.

The back door entered directly into the kitchen, which was a riot of light and aromas. There were dishes on nearly every available countertop, and still more being prepared on an old wood-burning stove. Leah turned to greet Cole, breezing over with an apron over her normal light clothes and a big smile.

“I’m so glad you could make it,” she said as she kissed him on the cheek.

“Me too,” he said, still taken aback. “I’m not used to Vermont roads, and the snow made me wonder if I’d live the night.”

She punched him lightly with a hand, encased in an oven mitt. “Wouldn’t leave a girl waiting, would you? Not even if you drove off a cliff.”

They both paused in the moment, the general awkward point after a greeting but before settling in. Cole both hated and loved the fact that she made his carefully acquired people skills fritter away, and realized he still hadn’t closed the door. That, at least, would be a start.

“Thanks,” she said, “I’d hate to have the food get cold for you. Turkey keeps well for sandwiches, but it’s just not the same reheated…”

“I was going to ask you about that, actually.” He was a little disappointed at seeing all the food, but it was a little childish to believe he had an entire holiday evening worth to get to know her alone. He had a feeling any friend of Leah would easily become a friend of his, however. “How many others are coming? If I’d known, I would have brought more than one bottle.”

Leah quickly moved towards a simmering pan, and murmured to him. He couldn’t hear what she said over a percolating kettle, so he had to ask and lean in close, “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

“You’re the only one.”

Cole would have asked her to repeat herself yet again, but her mannerism told him she spoke true. She was slightly embarrassed about it. She only acted self-consciously when aspects of her personality surfaced that had given her grief in the past. While his upper brain wondered about this, he himself had to grab onto the first thought that buoyed forth, otherwise he would stand gaping.

“Do you always cook like this for anyone?”

“It’s been a while since a man was in the home, just used to cooking big. Didn’t want you to be hungry, I guess, and I know how long the trip must’ve been. You must be starving.”

He had to laugh at that. “I know I’m a big boy, but really, you’ve outdone yourself. There’s enough here to feed us both for days. At least you won’t have to worry about leftovers for some time.”

All she could do was smile sheepishly and pour what appeared to be a sauce over a rack of lamb. That was decedent, and he had gotten used to impressive restaurants when he wanted to woo a customer. “The holidays are a time for getting together and sharing good memories with one another. That means building memories as well, and good food makes good memories.”

“That makes sense,” Cole said, “but where I come from, the holidays were mainly a same-old. The family would get together, but there would be more fighting than bonding. Gifts were given, but that’s more consumerism than holiday cheer.” He winced as he realized he blundered over mentioning family. Leah had stopped and wiped a tear from her cheek with the oven mitt. “I’m sorry. That was…”

“No, it’s fine. Need to get used to it. Daddy’s gone, and Tim is in no state to travel. I guess… I guess I just wanted it to be one last Christmas together. Stupid really. Going through all the things I did every year.”

The cheerful home full of home-cooked smells couldn’t stop the quiet silence that hung in the room, the ghostly idea of a perfect Christmas.

“Is that why you invited me, then?” Cole asked quietly. “I have no family to speak of?”

Leah smiled and coughed a laugh, wiping her cheeks again. “Wasn’t sorry for you, silly. I like you and want to spend Christmas with someone I liked. Tell you what; get over yourself and I’ll get over myself.”

“Deal.”

“In that case, get seated, and get eating. You won’t be wanting for food, but you’re going to feel the back of my spoon if you let it get cold!” she threatened.

“How can I argue when you put it that way?”

Really, it wasn’t too difficult to dig in. There really was something about home-cooked meals that made it exquisite, even compared to the finest chefs. The casseroles were flaky and rich, the vegetables buttery and moist while still being crispy, the main dishes were to die for… there was zucchini, mashed potatoes, dumplings, cornbread, biscuits, all delicious and all strangely appetizing… and all just side dishes to the main courses of the rack of lamb, beer-battered sausage, lasagna, and of course the full turkey.

Leah filled up Cole’s plate whenever he finished with one dish, introducing the next with a kind of pride. She made sure he knew he could take as much as he liked, but whenever there was a new course to be had, she was right there scooping it out onto his plate. Between the courses, she would join Cole and helped herself to those dishes she enjoyed. They chatted and shared stories and laughed and ate, and the night seemed to fly by. The kitchen was tight, but it was inviting and cheerful. It would’ve been sweltering next to the oven and with all the dishes surrounding them, but with the kitchen window opened just a crack, it was positively glowing.

At one point, Cole offered to help, which provoked a reaction from her. She furrowed her eyebrows and placed her be-mitted hands on her hips.

“You’re a guest, and guests don’t work. Simple as that. Now eat up, there’s more on the way.”

His button-up shirt was actually starting to strain at the buttonholes, and his khakis were digging in painfully while he could feel his already substantial stomach overhanging the top. Leah was already traveling to the oven yet again. As her back was turned, he sheepishly unbuttoned his pants, letting out a breath of relief at the slight ease of pain. His belly gratefully took the extra space and then some. It did afford him some room, however.

With that, Cole continued to eat and nibble as she prepared the different courses. The talk continued unabated because she was only a few steps away. He really was enjoying himself. Cole felt intoxicated, even though he hadn’t opened the bottle of champagne. He felt better than he had at any posh party. He also felt fuller than he ever had been. It snuck up and caught him as the turkey and its sides were produced, its size dwarfing the table. Looking at that fat bird stuffed to the point of bursting, he couldn’t help but feel a certain kinship.

“Oof, Leah, I’m not sure if I can do much more. It all looks… and smells!... so wonderful, but I really don’t have much room left.” It was an understatement, but it was true, it looked enticing.

All she had to do was smile to get Cole to concede. “Well, it’s not like you have to finish the whole thing, silly. Just eat as much as you want and we’ll put away the rest. But save a little bit of room, I have something special for dessert.”

Cole’s belly groaned at him as he said “All right, but only a few small pieces.”

Leah cut some sections off the turkey, steam rising from the moist bird. The pieces were a little thick, but so long as he didn’t have to eat too many, he felt he could manage. There was, of course, gravy to be had, and the stuffing complimented it perfectly. He ate slowly, enjoying the tastes but feeling how bloated his stomach was and how it began to ache, like a water balloon stretched to the point of popping. She joined him, taking just a little turkey and stuffing and adding some summer squash to both their plates. “My gram’s recipe,” she explained happily. Of course, he had to try her gram’s squash too.

He didn’t end up finishing his last piece of turkey, but he managed the other two pieces and finished his sides. By the end, though, he himself was matching his belly’s groaning. It really was all so good, but there was just too much. Cole was afraid he’d make a mess of an otherwise wonderful evening by feeling ill the rest of the night.

“Now I know it won’t be your mothers… but I remember how you said your favorite dessert happened to be berry cobbler. Hope I did it justice, but it’s fine if you don’t eat any.” She scooped out two heaping spoonfuls into the bowls. They were steaming, straight from the oven, and Cole could see there were blueberries, strawberries, raspberries… some berries out of season, but others, he was sure, were fresh. She then opened the cracked window fully, leaned out, and returned with a carton of French vanilla ice cream. “S’a little trick you learn out here, let the snow do your cooling for you. So tell me what you think!”

At the very least, Cole thought, he owed her a taste. All that effort just for him, after all. He wasn’t thinking too clearly, he seemed to be drunk off of food if that were possible. The warm kitchen had turned dreamy somehow, and his head swam and spun just enough to make him know he would not be able to get up. He took the spoon and dug it into the cobbler, getting each of the berries, some of the crisp and a little ice cream, and took a taste, though his stomach was in agony.

It wasn’t his mothers, that was sure it. It was better. While his mother would have made the dessert as a special treat for her children, this dish was meant to impress. Not just impress Cole in the taste of the cobbler, but to impress upon him how much she felt for him. It could’ve been his mind going a little haywire, the cold calculating part of his brain noted, but the rest of his brain was so enraptured in good company and pickled in good food that it either wasn’t listening or couldn’t.

Leah opened her mouth, a worried look crossing her face, but Cole cut her off. “It’s wonderful. It’s… it’s just as good as mom’s no doubt about it. It’s really amazing.” She positively glowed. He took another spoonful, painful as it was, and delighted in the taste.

“I’m so sorry, but I really can’t finish it though. To be honest, I’ve never eaten so much in my life. I hope you don’t take this as the way I always eat. I’ve made a pig of myself tonight.”

Leah shook her head and blushed as she stood up. “Don’t worry about it, really. It just… it really makes me happy to share the holiday with someone who enjoys my cooking again. Thanks for being that person.” She walked over to Cole and gently pulled him up. He tried to protest, his mind jolting awake at the realization that she would see his unbuttoned pants and belly if he stood up, but she wanted to show Cole something in the other room, and he didn’t have the heart to say no. He wobbled on his feet a little bit, but caught the edge of the table. She half led, half pulled him through the kitchen into the living room with the picture window. There was a distinct feel of a tiny tug boat pulling a massive steamer behind her, and she directed him to the couch in front of the wide window. If she noticed his top button, she didn’t mention it.

“Rest here for a bit.”

She went back into the kitchen, leaving him in the darkened living room. He sunk into the comfy couch in front of the picture window. In an attempt to relieve a little of the strain on his stomach, he relaxed and slumped into the seat. Cole moved to undo the top button of his jeans, but his fingers found he had already done so early on in the meal. No matter which way he turned or pushed, he was uncomfortable. He was also a little shocked at the size of his stomach; it pushed angrily at his shirt, and laying down as he was, it took up what may be a larger amount of his vision than normal. It would take weeks of hard exercise to make a dent in a single night’s decadence. Yet, it was such a lovely evening. Cole was willing to live through a little pain and hardship for that. He realized he should be offering to help clean up after the banquet she hosted, but he knew he’d be of no help.

It wasn’t too long until she returned, turning off the kitchen lights. Only the glow from the oven lit the house. Leah sat next to Cole on the couch and joined him in looking out the window into nighttime Vermont. Cole took back his original thought that the picture window wouldn’t have much of a view with all the trees in front of it; it was peaceful and romantic, looking at the snow-dusted evergreens and the stars just beyond their peaks.

Leah sidled up to Cole and lay against his shoulder. It wasn’t an abrupt movement and didn’t have overt connotation, it was just… fitting. The perfect ending to a perfect holiday. She even seemed to fit against him, her head nestled in the crook of his shoulder, light arm draped across his stomach (overly stuffed as it was), her lovely torso resting against his side. To him, they fit like yin and yang, like two puzzle pieces. Very gently, she dropped her hand to his stomach and rubbed it in circles, a calming, soothing motion. To Cole’s surprise, he began feeling better.

“You do this for anyone after a holiday meal?”

“No, just the ones I like,” she said quietly.

They stayed like this for some time, the gentle movement easing to his swollen stomach. He dozed in and out of sleep for a while, enjoying the sensation while, at the same time, wanting the night to never end. Cole was broken out of the reverie at Leah’s abrupt whisper.

“Stay here.”

He blinked his bleary eyes and had to ask, “What?”

“You have two weeks off for the holidays,” she answered quietly, hurriedly. “Stay here the rest. You don’t need to be anywhere else, do you?”

Cole paused as the past night rolled through his unfocused head. He couldn’t remember the last time he had so enjoyed a night as this. To imagine two full weeks, not just these nights but entire days, spending time with this wonderful woman, there was no other answer.

“I would love to stay here.”

She cuddled closer. “Good.”
 

chubsixtysix

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Polished people skills or not, our sophisticated bhm really doesn't have any idea what his sweet ffa is all about, does he? Its a great set up and I can't wait to see how the next two weeks go.

Also adore the imagery: "a distinct feel of a tiny tug boat pulling a massive steamer behind her".

:wubu:
 

fat hiker

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Great opening to a story.

I note one tiny inconsistency: when he's at the table, he undoes the button of his khakis; sitting in the living room late, he checks the top button of his..... jeans.

Sorry, just a born proofreader.
 

Tad

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The great white north, eh?
I really like your writing :) And I've often imagined what spending the whole holiday eating with abandon (if not beyond) would be like....looks like maybe I'm about to get your interpretation of it :)

ETA: and by the way, welcome to Dimensions! What a great first post :) (and if you are an existing poster using a pen-name, well, welcome still extended to your alter-ego).
 

MickeyFFA

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wow what an excellent addition to our BHM/FFA archive. I love the description. I'm looking forward to more :)
 

Venjance

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Sorry it's been a while since I posted the story! Thanks for the kind words and interest! This is my first attempt at doing a story here, and yes, my first couple posts as well. As for apologizing for proofreading, I'd be absolutely thrilled to see what I've done wrong and hear suggestions. I consider these stories a good way to practice, and as such, I'd like to see what I could do better. Next chapter incoming!
 

Venjance

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The morning broke with daylight streaming through the bare branches in front of the window, though that happened hours before Cole so much as moved a muscle. With a yawn, he slowly brought his bare feet to the wooden floor as he pushed down the wool blanket that had been draped over him, freeing his arms to stretch outward. He wasn’t a morning person on the best of days, and he felt especially weighed down and sluggish today. It wasn’t long, though, until the memories of the night before filtered in through the haze of morning drowse. That brought a smile to his face.

The next thing that came to Cole’s mind was the chill issuing from the floorboards. His shoes and socks had evidently been taken off in the night. A thin line of embarrassment streamed through his consciousness; being so tired as to pass out and leave Leah to take care of him was not an impression he was hoping to give. It was something a mother had to do with her little boy. He also found that his button-up had been removed and folded on the edge of the couch. He’d slept in his khakis and undershirt. His modesty, at least, remained in tact, he joked to himself.

As Cole prodded himself upward, it was more of a stumble than a stand. He was more than a little surprised when he nearly lost his balance, his equilibrium upset. It was like his mind and body weren’t communicating properly. Cole tried to pull his shirt on, but the buttons didn’t seem to do up with his wooden fingers. He’d keep it open for the time being, until he woke fully. Spying his shoes with the socks tucked inside placed in the corner of the room, he shuffled over to pull them on.

“Good morning.” It was a musical tone. Cole could swear he’d never felt that way about someone else’s voice. The morning difficulties were forgotten he turned to Leah, who was leaning inside the kitchen doorway.

“Good morning yourself. Sorry I’ve been asleep for so long.”

“You looked comfy, peaceful. Let you sleep in. Didn’t even want to move you to the guest bed. No worries, don’t have anything planned.” Her broad smile turned to something gentler, and she crossed and uncrossed her arms as if not being able to decide which the more natural thing was. “Did you really mean what you said last night?”

Alarm bells resounded in Coles mind, blasting the morning cobwebs out in one moment of pure panic. What had he said last night? There was the warm, comfortable feeling, he’d felt so relaxed and at peace, it was as if the end of the night was wrapped in cotton. Had he said something out of line? Jumped the gun in telling how he felt for her?

Leah brought her eyes around to meet Cole’s. “Are you really going to stay for the rest of your vacation?”

Relief flooded Cole’s being and he stopped gaping. “Yes! I had a wonderful time last night, I didn’t want it to end. I still don’t know why you’d want to spend so much time with a guy like me, but…”

“Isn’t it obvious? I like you.” Leah trounced off into the kitchen with a grin.

Cole could do nothing but stand there, gaping anew for a few moments. This was how it felt to have your world turned upside down, he decided. The mad, wonderful girl had taken him and confounded him. She tore down his carefully amassed knowledge of human interaction and people skills and replaced it with the raw edge of uncertainty, the fright and excitement of not know what the next turn brings. She didn’t react in ways he’d expect, and he acted like a love-flustered fool rather than a socially-savvy businessman. A warm glow kindled in the pit of his stomach as he wondered if that was truly what he was becoming.

“Oh, while you were asleep, I made a quick jaunt to the bakery in town,” she called from the kitchen. “Fresh baguettes.”

“Leah, you’re really outdoing yourself. Really.” He entered the kitchen to see she had already gotten to work. “Actually, I outdid myself too. I’m still full from last night.”

She was facing the counter, cracking some eggs into a large bowl and whisking the mixture. “No worries, you can just have as much as you like. I just thought, because you’re staying and all, I could make you a nice breakfast, some special French toast. French-style French toast, not with that fake white bread. Got the best maple syrup this side of Canada, after all.”

Cole could only laugh at her exuberance. “Ok, ok, I’ll try it. Though just so you know, I’m not going to eat like this every day, no matter how amazing a cook you are. Otherwise, you’d have to roll me out at the end of vacation.”

Leah’s hand slowed her whisking just a moment before continuing. There was something about her posture that changed subtly, though Cole had a hard time putting his finger on it. She had her back to him, so he couldn’t read her face. Leah, he thought to himself, an enigma.

“What do you like to do out here, when you’re not pampering guests?”

“I like to read. It’s one thing I’m really big on. There’s a couple book stores in the town that know me by name, but it doesn’t matter where I read. I just like to. Or if I feel cooped up, I like to go running.”

“No wonder you were so lost in the city, there was just too much to do!” Cole teased.

“And a little too noisy. And not the good kind of noisy, like a happy party. More like a crowded restaurant. Too much going on to enjoy the little things.”

“It’s much quieter out here, that’s for sure. I had forgotten just how little there is out here. I swear, when I was driving here, I could count the buildings I saw on one hand.”

“You didn’t drive through town then. It’s good that the coffee shop in town lets me use their computers when I’m sending my articles to the boss. Otherwise, it’d be snail mail and I’d never get paid!”

“Wait, am I getting this right?” Cole asked. “You’re a journalist, in this day and age, that doesn’t own a computer? Not even a laptop?”

Leah shook her head. “Pen and paper for me. The keys separate you too much from the writing.”

“And were you from another age, you’d spurn ink for the sake of chisel and hammer,” Cole grinned. “I’m sorry, I know you’ve mentioned it before, but what publication do you work for?”

“Oh, it’s only a little thing, very small. Probably not even available out of state. It’s called ‘Mollycoddle.’ it’s about home life and having friends over and stuff.”

“I’m glad to know your expertise is being put to good use in other households. It’d be a shame to waste it all on me!”

She turned around and gave one of her big, no-holds-barred smiles. “Not wasted. Now you sit yourself down; after this gets griddled, I don’t want it to get cold on you. Syrup tin is in the lower cupboard over there.”

Leah dunked the thick slices of baguette into the batter until it was absolutely dripping before putting it in the hot skillet, which was already sizzling with a thick pat of butter. The aroma was heavenly. It might as well have been a living entity on its own, ambling around the room and making the kitchen feel more welcome by its presence. Cole thought he could smell blueberries, though he didn’t see where the fruit might be.

“I swear, it’s like you’re magic. I was thinking of skipping breakfast when I first got up, now I’m starving thanks to just the smell of your cooking!”

“Magic, huh? Is there such things as good witches?” She was grinning again as she pushed two slices onto the plate in front of him.

Cole couldn’t take his eyes off the steaming French toast. It was golden to perfection and had a dusting of powdered sugar. “I’d say it’s a fair bet, if you’re one.”

“That case, what can I say? I’m very good.” She turned back to the stove and dipped a couple more slices of baguette. “Ooh, wanted to ask; are you more of a bacon man, or sausage? I personally like both, but everyone has their own taste. ‘Taste is indisputable,’ my mom always said.”

“I like both, but sausage is my favorite,” he said as he poured a respectable amount of syrup onto his plate. “It just feels like a waste to give me bacon, when everyone else likes it so much more than me. Pearls unto swine, and all that.”

“Well, I’ll try my best to change your mind about such a versatile food! It’s amazing what it works in.” She came to the table with her own plate, letting the sausage cook a while behind her.

With a smile to the chef, he cut into the toast. It wasn’t soggy at all, and had just a tiny bit of crisp to its border. Cole was delighted to discover just why he had smelled blueberries: what he had thought was thick slices of bread was actually two sandwiching a layer of blueberries. He cut off a corner with his fork and savored it. It wasn’t so much a bite of a meal as a small piece of heaven. He closed his eyes to better enjoy the taste.

It took a few moments before he opened them and realized she was watching him. Leah had her chin in her hand and a smile on her face. “I was kind of worried that you wouldn’t like the blueberries and cream cheese. Don’t like using frozen fruit, but it is winter. Looks like it’s ok, though.”

“OK?” Cole tried to describe that taste, tried to think up a statement that encompassed everything he had experienced. All he could manage was a weak, “It’s great!”

She beamed. “Happy to hear it! I’ll cook up a couple more after the sausage is ready. Like some juice? I got OJ and raspberry.”

Cole nodded at the raspberry. As he was savoring another, albeit larger, bite, he watched as Leah went for the drinks. It had struck him the other night that he hadn’t seen a refrigerator in the kitchen. There wasn’t any time to see where the food came from or where it went; she was preparing when he came in, and cleaned when he was in the other room. She ended up opening a pair of the old wooden cupboards, revealing a rather modern looking appliance. It was much shorter than an average refrigerator, but was nearly as wide as it was tall. Cole was surprised at just how much food was hidden within. Everything was placed in neatly labeled containers, each stacked to perfectly take up as little space as possible.

“You’re so much neater than me. My fridge has to be two times that size, but I don’t really plan where everything goes.”

Leah returned with a pitcher of raspberry juice and two glasses. “Two times, huh?”

“Well, I host a decent amount of parties. It’s for all the big wigs and investors and such. But it looks like you’re able to keep just as much food as me.”

“Doesn’t sound like a party to me,” she said shaking her head. “Sounds more like a ‘social gathering’ you high minded business types run. A party where there’s more drink than there is food? No fun, all business. No wonder you preferred this party over those!”

“Well,” Cole said, “It’s not the food or the party I preferred, amazing as they are. It’s more the company.” God, I felt like a teenager, he thought. I can’t actually be blushing!

Whether he did or if she noticed, Leah just smiled. He was getting addicted to that smile, to all the subtleties it hid. “I’m glad you do.” She put a forkful of toast up to that smile. “Now eat up, the sausage will be done soon. After, I’ll give you the grand tour of the place. Not big, but it’s cozy.”

The French toast was good, so good that Cole kept having more just to experience that taste again. The sausage complimented the dish, and gave it that nostalgic breakfast feel. The raspberry juice had the slightly tart taste of local squeezed berries rather than name brand. It wasn’t long before Cole, once again, found himself overly satiated but utterly happy.

This time, he helped clean up. He wasn’t so much in a stupor to be entirely useless, though he did feel a certain pressure around his middle. While he found the thought embarrassing, Cole was glad that he hadn’t buttoned up his shirt; the stretchy undershirt was much less constricting. They cleared off the table and Leah cleaned the dishes in the sink while Cole rinsed and dried. It didn’t take long at all, and soon she was showing him around.

Cole knew the kitchen well, in fact he was starting to feel a certain fondness of it, but it was the only room of the house Cole had seen fully. He had just about passed out in the living room, so he was excited about being shown around. There was something inviting about the cottage. It has a rustic, old time feel to it, but it had the modern comforts Cole was used to in his suite. It wasn’t out of date, the refrigerator showed that, but it didn’t sacrifice its charm for it either.

The living room was large and welcoming, the house’s front door and entryway being built into one side. It was lined with several book cases and was set up as if welcoming company. It had plenty of chairs and two couches, the newer one Cole had slept soundly upon. The other couch was against the wall near a blackened fireplace, and seemed much older. Cole could only imagine how many people must’ve sat there over the years, as there were deep indentations in its cushions. No television, Cole noted. For someone who enjoyed Tivo-ing quite a few lineups, he strangely liked the idea. No interruptions.

Across from the front door was a staircase leading up to the second floor. After showing Cole the living room, Leah led him upstairs. They creaked as they walked up, though it was the sound of a home well lived in rather than ominous instability.

“When I was younger, used to sneak out,” Leah said. “Know every creaky step so I wouldn’t wake my folks. Oh, I was a rebel.”

“This house has been in your family for a while then?”

“Great-grampa built it. He was kind of a mountain man. Felt as though he should build or make anything that belonged to him.”

Cole thought understood the type and could picture the man in his mind. Somewhat like himself, if only from a different age. Cole’s build was a throwback from a time when prospectors challenged the wilderness to make their fortune, where a big build sometimes meant the difference between life and death. In these days of comfort and paperwork, though, it had turned superfluous. He tried to get to the local gym to tone so he could persuade himself his appearance was more that of a successful if overworked white-collar manager.

Leah turned when they reached the top of the stairs. “Grampa got the house after him, and mom got the house when she got married. Wedding gift. And I got it after Tim left for the city. He may be a city person, but this is all I’m suited for.”

Cole remembered just how lost she seemed when they first met in Boston. “It’s not for everyone,” he said. “It’s a different kind of wilderness.”

“Anyway, these are the bedrooms.”

They stood at the end of a hallway that ran the length of the house, doors leading off to either side. There were four spacious rooms in total. The shades were still drawn in two of the bedrooms, the thin shafts of sunlight bleeding through to offer just a glimpse. The largest bedroom, what appeared to be the master bedroom, was bright though. There was a fireplace there, though it didn’t have the look of use the one downstairs did. Next to the fireplace was a closet door, just cracked open to show some clothing strewn.

“Oh, don’t mind the mess,” Leah hurried over to shove the clothes into the closet. “I should’ve picked that up.” Cole didn’t want to be rude, so his eyes quickly skirted over it to the rest of the room. It had a gargantuan four-post bed, covered in thick blankets and comforters. Cole couldn’t help but mentally chuckle at the idea of Leah swimming in such an enormous bed. As he thought about it, Cole realized that all the beds were quite big, no smaller than queen-sized in the smaller rooms.

She then led Cole to the last room down the hallway, which ended up being a bathroom. “Used to have a big tub when I was little. You know, the kind with clawed feet, big brass monstrosity. As much as we didn’t like getting rid of it, I like this one better.” It had been replaced by a pale blue installation tub and shower combination. The thick tub was nearly square in its design, almost as wide as it was long. A couple could lounge side by side in it without too much discomfort. A long mirror was situated above the sink, directly across from the tub. It seemed as though all the appliances and settings, the sink, the toilet, towel holders, the cabinets, all matched the shower in design; all in the pale blue, all exuding its purpose with stout, well-built function.

The room did remind Cole, though, that he hadn’t showered. He hadn’t brushed his teeth. And now his body increasingly reminded him of its more base needs.

“Leah, do you think, before we continue the tour, could I freshen up a little bit?”

“Oh, course! Sorry, I just get carried away sometimes.” She opened one of the cabinets and took out a thick, fluffy towel and hung it on a holder.

“Actually, now that I think about it,” Cole began, “I didn’t expect to be here more than one day. I didn’t bring anything. I don’t even have a change of clothes.”

Leah’s response was to reach farther back in the cabinet and removed a packaged toothbrush. “Can’t say I’m sorry you’ve decided to stay, even without planning it. And don’t worry, I’m pretty sure some of Tim’s old clothes should fit you. Well, if you’re ok with that.” She looked a little worried.

Cole could only shrug. “So long as he doesn’t mind, I would be all right with it.”

“Oh don’t worry,” Leah perked up. “He won’t be using the stuff he left. Won’t even miss it. I’ll leave you to it, then!”

After she closed the door behind her, Cole used the toilet, brushed his teeth and turned to take a shower. He had to fiddle with the bathtub knobs a little to get the right temperature, but before long, the bathroom started filling with steam. There was something invigorating about steaming hot showers, it made him feel alive.

Cole stopped as his stripped his undershirt off, catching a glimpse in the long mirror. He exhaled slightly at the sight of his stomach, which was pushed out from the breakfast. With a little embarrassment, Cole realized he still hadn’t buttoned up the top of his khakis from last night, meaning that the generous overhang of his belly wasn’t just a fault of his pants. The last couple of weeks had been unkind to his weight. Last night was certainly no exception, either. He gave his overfilled stomach one sad pat before the mirror fogged up, taking his reflection with it. With a shake of his head, he stripped off the rest and stepped into the shower’s stream, hoping that Leah’s brother had a little extra leeway in the way of clothing.
 

chubsixtysix

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mmm. I love how Cole enjoys Lea's cooking.

"It wasn’t so much a bite of a meal as a small piece of heaven."

I'm going to have to try the cream cheese and blueberries sandwiched in the bread before making french toast. Sounds delightful!
 

otherland78

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more more more i so like her way to fatten him up and seducing him so innocently ;-)

It´s really well written and so nice and warm with a littl hint of secret fattening hehe what i like soo much ;-)

I ´m really longing for <our next chapter ....;)

thanks for this nice romantic beginning ...:bow:
 

Big Beautiful Dreamer

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mmmm, gaw-jus!!! Very very nice writing indeed. Lovely descriptions, and Leah's intentional big meals still manage to seem quite innocent.
 

Venjance

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Thanks for all the supportive words, and thanks especially to Chubsixtysix for giving this chapter a once-over! Apologies for taking so much time with this one; hopefully it was worth the wait. Chapter forthcoming.
 

Venjance

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Cole held the door for Leah as they walked into the party. She looked wonderful, as usual, but in a way that was original from every other woman in the room. She wore a high-necked dress that looked chaste in a room full of bared cleavage and slit-side dresses, and yet she made it look good. It was the color of autumn leaves while everyone else was either in sultry red or slinky black. She radiated an earthy, classic beauty that no amount of makeup and designer dresses could imitate. As soon as she walked through the door, though, Cole saw the telltale signs that she didn't feel comfortable. She kept her hands in front of her, clasped on her purse, and her normally fluid posture went rigid.


"Don't worry, I'll introduce you around. It'll be fine, just be yourself and relax." He gestured to the long table at the end of the room. He understood this was a big step for her, and was thankful she was willing to give him the chance. "Have something to eat if you want."


Leah shook her head. "Got butterflies in my stomach. Don't want them upset by landing anything on them."


He took her arm gently and started leading her around the room, introducing her to the people he worked with. His first stop was to the boss, as was expected. Before he could move to the people he was more comfortable talking with, however, his secretary ambushed him with a laugh.


"Ah ha! At last we meet." She said, eyes to Leah. Leah smiled back, though it was restrained and polite, and it was meant to be. Cole knew she was nervous. "You wouldn't believe how little my Cole would tell me. You must be a special one to seal this chatterbox's lips, let me tell you!"


With a grimace, Cole said, "This is Leah. Leah, this is my secretary, Kait. She was the one you contacted when you first called my office. She pretty much knows all my business, even when I don't want her to."


"Damned straight! I wouldn’t be able to keep his schedules straight if I didn’t. Oh don't you worry, dear,” Kait said, placing a hand on Leah’s arm, “I won’t tread on any toes. It’s just I like to live vicariously through him. I'm a housewife with three kids, so I have to hear all the sordid details to keep sane. My Cole is quite the ladykiller."


This time Cole growled a warning, but she ignored it and continued.


"But you must be something else, to get him to clam up so tight. You didn't sound like you were from the area either, so here I was, lost without any news, only my imagination to guide me. I had to see you for myself, hun, to make sure you were real! And get to know you!"


"It was good seeing you, Kait, I guess we'll see you around," Cole said.


"Oh don't be silly, Cole, this was the real reason I came here. I want to chat with her! Let us girls have some time alone, won't you?"


Leah spoke up just as Cole was about to insist otherwise. "That sounds good. I'll be fine, don't worry about it. It'll be nice to get to know someone here."


And at that, Cole was left alone as Leah was whisked away. Ah, now that was a feeling he knew many times before. Left without a date, he decided to continue his rounds and say his hellos. How many times had his date simply disappeared on him in the past? To be fair, he thought of all the times he had he been the reason someone else's date skipped out on them. It wasn't as if Leah was going to leave without him. He hoped so, at least.


He continued to walk throughout the room, sampling the champagne, taking random hors d'oeuvres when a be-suited tray bearer offered it to him, saying hello to coworkers and friends. It wasn't until he was ambushed by Frederson, the short if powerfully built technophile from marketing, that he was taken off his social autopilot. He wasn’t someone Cole knew as a friend, but rather a hanger-on looking for a few laughs. Most times, when Frederson came to Cole, it was in order to show off his newest gadget.


"You better go easy on those crab rolls Cole, you're getting a few rolls of your own there!"


"Fred, good to see you. How's your wife?"


"None the wiser, and don't you clue her in!" He laughed as the woman on his arm smiled. "Let me introduce you to Tammy. She wanted to crash a party, I helped her out."


Cole, through force of habit, turned on the charm and took her hand gently. "En chante."


"You be careful with him, Tams, he'll have you heels over head in the wink of an eye."


They chattered and twittered, and Cole came to a surprising realization. The young woman was good-looking, some might say downright gorgeous, but he wasn't interested nor attracted. The long blond hair, the purposefully seductive dress showing her figure, the long legs ending at high-heels so high they might be sky-heels… Cole found his eyes wandering over the party and picked out the splash of color in the room. Leah was now talking to another one of his coworkers, with his secretary standing next to her. Some might describe her as the scrawny, mousy woman in the unfashionable dress. His thoughts kept turning to Leah.


As if feeling his gaze, Leah turned and met his eyes. She gave him one of her small, subtle smiles. Cole was sure if someone had passed between them, they'd have felt the warmth. The pleasant moment was broken as Frederson talked louder.


"You hear me? I said you've been putting on a few. Bulking up for the winter, or has the work got to you like it has everyone else?"


"I just haven't had enough time to get to the gym any more, you know how it is." Cole subconsciously placed his hand on his midriff as he wished it were the truth.


"Oh believe me, I know how it is," Frederson laughed. "But you know, you got to be careful there. All the charm in the world won't help net you a bombshell if you get fatter. All I'm saying, bud. You know I'm just looking out for you!"


"Of course. I appreciate your honesty." You ass, Cole thought.


“Actually, who did I see you come in with? It might already be too late, if that’s the best date you can scrounge for the Christmas party. I am telling you,” he turned to Tammy, “this guy would bring in a supermodel in his prime. I wished I could figure out his secret!”


“The idea is to be personable, Frederson.” He walked away, leaving the laughing pair behind to discuss what a joker that Cole was. He found that, more than the digs on his weight, he was cut by the insult to Leah. That blowhard had no idea just how deep she was, choosing only to see shallow looks. What bothered Cole even more was the idea that she wasn’t attractive because it wasn’t the societal norm. She was lovely in her own right, if only anyone would stop for a moment to see the grace that she was capable of, the energy Leah exuded in every step. Who made the choice that everyone had to be lock-step with the ideal &#8216;36-24-36?’ He found himself walking over to Leah, who was being led by Kait “Oh no you don’t!” Kait playfully pushed Cole away. “I was just getting to know Lee, and you’re going to take her from me! She’s been an absolute peach, everyone’s said so! No wonder you’ve hidden her from me, you don’t want me to corrupt her!”


“I didn’t want to lead her away, don’t worry. I just wanted…” Wanted to what, just be close to her? The thought blindsided him. Cole’s social autopilot was all that saved him from gaping mutely.” …to be the one to introduce her around. What kind of gentleman would I be if I left my guest to fend for herself?”


“Well, fine, you can tag along. Come on, sweetie, there’s someone else I want you to meet.”


Leah was able to gently wrest herself from Kait’s grip, taking Cole’s arm in its stead. The small hand on his arm thrilled him, but he kept it to himself. Quietly, she said, “She’s quite the talker, isn’t she? Hardly got a word in edgewise.”


“That’s Kait for you. Have you been enjoying yourself, at least?”


“Oh yeah, I’ve been having a great time. She breaks the ice something fierce. Makes me feel like I’m part of the group.”


“She has both a skill and a love for that. Honestly, I’m glad you weren’t overwhelmed by her nature. She’s quite a friend once you… whoops, incoming.” Kait had stopped at a group and turned to introduce them to Leah.


This continued for some time, Kait roaming from group to group with Leah and Cole in tow. Cole decided it was nice to let Kait do most of the social interaction. It gave him more time to focus on Leah. She seemed to be genuinely enjoying herself, if her posture was any measurement. She was no longer rigid and gripping her hands in front of her. Her arm remained looped around Coles arm, much to his pleasure.


"I think I'm going to get a bite to eat," Leah said. "I promise, we'll be right back, Kait."


"Oh, I trust you, it's him I don't! Make sure he doesn't spirit you off."


"Your stomach is feeling better, then?" Cole asked as they walked towards the buffet-style table.


"Yeah, the butterflies must be sleeping now. Wow, fancy stuff." She eyed the dishes uncertainly.


Cole took some braised of roast beef, French cheese and rolls. "It's only as fancy as you want it to be." With that said, he tore open the roll, putting the cheese and meat inside and flourished the plate in front of her.


"A sandwich!" Leah laughed. "So tiny, though! We should get some more for ourselves. Thanks for the lesson in etiquette though." Her eyes sparkled at Cole as she placed some items on his plate for him. It wasn't until it was topped off with treats before she grabbed a plate of her own.


"Boy, you sure know how to show a girl a good time, Cole." Frederson slapped him on the back, gazing at Cole's plate. "Serving yourself before your lady-friend? Now where's that charming Cole I used to know! Man, you sure topped your plate off... no wonder you've..."


"Leah, this is Frederson. Frederson, Leah." You son of a bitch. Cole noticed that Tammy was nowhere to be seen.


Leah turned to him, but her smile was brittle. "Just Frederson?"


"My boy Cole here likes to call me Fred, but most just call me by my last." Frederson leaned in close as he took Leah's hand. "You can call me whatever you want, sweetness."


It was all Cole could do not to sock him one. The gall of the little prick staggered him; not a half an hour ago Frederson mentioned how Cole had to 'scrounge' his date up. With Tammy leaving him high and dry, he's suddenly all magnetism and smiles.


Leah slid her hand out of Frederson's grip as he brought it to his lips. "Nice meeting you." She then slid over to Cole's side and hugged herself to his arm. The action gave him a golden glow of relief and happiness, while Frederson could only furrow his brow.


"Ok, I can take the hint. Cole, old buddy, you must've laid your charm on thick to keep your claws in her. I can't see how she can find that attractive otherwise." He pointed jointly at Cole's plate and midriff, both of which were filled well. Cole was fighting his embarrassment when Leah surprised him and detached herself from his side. She strode over and stood in front of Frederson, scrutinizing him.


"Maybe it's hard for someone like you to understand, but I care more about the personality of a person I'm going to spend time with. Doesn't matter how well someone's looks might conform to someone elses standards if they turn out to be rude, petty... small. And I'm sure as hell not going to waste my time with, gee, I don't know, a jerk like you. I'd take personality every day of the week." Leah turned her back to Frederson and walked to the table as the other two stood, shocked to stillness. With a gentle pull, she took Cole's plate out of his compliant hands and put a large cut of meat on it. "This looks good, doesn't it?"


Frederson left at that. He went so far as to leave the party. Cole took his plate back dumbly, and stared at Leah as she turned red.


"Geeze, I don't like confrontations. He was a rude little bastard, though, wasn't he?"


Cole nodded, still struck by muteness through amazement. No matter how long he spent around Leah, he was always surprised by the new layers he found. Personality indeed.


"For that remarkable display, and for shutting up the biggest blowhard in the party, you deserve another glass of wine." Cole said, finally finding his voice.


"Ok, then after that, let's get back to Kait." They returned to the fold with new glasses and plates piled high. Unsurprisingly, Leah's eyes were bigger than her stomach and had to give her excess to Cole


A few more passing glasses of wine were drunk, several more plates of hors d'oeuvres consumed and a plethora of words passed before the party started dying down. Those too drunk to drive on their own called a taxi or their drivers to pick them up. Leah had had more than a few drinks, and was adorably rosy as they left the banquet hall. Kait accompanied them to the coat room.


“Now here’s my number if you’re ever in the city again. And don’t just visit for this big brute, you need some girl time too!” She passed a card to Leah and gave her a hug. As Leah retrieved her jacket, Kait mouthed &#8216;keeper’ to Cole as she walked away. Cole could only smile and agree silently.


“I don’t know how you do it,” he said motioning to her light jacket more fitting for autumn. “Don’t you feel the cold?”


She smiled and said, “Yeah, I feel it,” as if that answered everything. All he could do was shake his head and, in hopes of warming her he told himself, put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. They left through the double doors of the building and walked down the sidewalk, past drifts of snow.


Cole mentally kicked himself; he should have let her wait inside and bringing the car up to the entrance. She was smiling happily to herself though, her own slender arm looped around his back and hand placed in his coat pocket. She had her palm pressed firmly against his side for warmth and made a contented sound.


“Did you have a fun time?” he asked.


“I had a wonderful time. Was nervous at first, but I had fun. Kait’s nice too.”


Cole laughed. “I’m glad you think so! She can be quite a handful at times, and she talks faster than she thinks. She liked you though, I could tell.”


“Think so? It’d be nice to know some more people here. Only know you and my brother.”


“Well, you’ll have no shortage now. Kait has a web of contacts at her disposal, and she’s at the center of it. I dare say she could get you lunch with a senator if you asked her to pull some strings.”


Leah pulled Cole to a stop and looked up at him. Immediately he got muddled and didn’t quite know how to respond. She just stared up at him for a few moments, her cheeks rosy with wine and cold, but her eyes were clear. They peered at him. Cole could feel the heat behind them.


“You changed back.” Before Cole could respond, she continued. “You were different in there. You go all stiff and rigid… no that’s not right. More like you act funny and personable, but you’re holding it up in front of yourself. Use it as a shield. Even to Kait, though not so much as others. Why don’t they see it?”


He paused, slightly taken aback at the blunt statement. At first he wanted to say it wasn’t true, that he was being polite, not false. There were all kinds of undercurrents at a social gathering of that kind, but Cole knew in his heart he was just going through the motions he was used to. “You saw it,” he finally responded.


“Well, I’m different than them.”


At that, he smiled a little. “That is very true. I guess I’m… just tired of the politics, the facades. We either hide everything we are, or we become like Kait, and wear your heart on your sleeve. Or worse, Frederson, who just doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself. But this is my world, it’s what I do and it’s what I know.” Cole shrugged and started walking again. “Now come on, whether you feel it or not, I don’t want you to freeze out here.”


They walked in silence the rest of the way. It wasn’t an awkward silence, just thoughtful. Cole only hoped that this wasn’t the only thing Leah would take from the night. She spoke up again when they reached the car.


“Well, I’ve visited your world and survived.” Leah slammed the door and swung over to smile at him as he dropped into the driver seat. “What do think about seeing mine?”


“Well, what did you have in mind?”


“You said you didn’t have anywhere to be for Christmas. Come to Vermont! It’s beautiful this time of year. I’m leaving next week, so I’ll have time to prepare. How bout, Christmas Eve’s Eve? The 23rd. That way you can miss the holiday traffic.”


The news that she was leaving took Cole by surprise. She had mentioned she was just visiting her brother Tim, but had expected her to stay for the holidays at least. More than that, though, he was excited at the thought of sharing the holiday with her. A few weeks were far too little to get to know such an admirable person.


“I’d love to!”


“Settled, then. Just make sure to bring your appetite.”
 

chubsixtysix

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** "I'm sure as hell not going to waste my time with, gee, I don't know, a jerk like you." **

Go Leah!! Still waters run deep, huh?
 

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