On Thin Ice
Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven
Part One: Logan
“I’m sorry Logan, I can’t start a 300-pound defenseman this year; I won’t do it.”
“I know, Coach, I just need a few weeks in camp to drop some weight,” Logan reassured the man who had personally recruited him from his AAA league team in suburban Minneapolis to the University of Minnesota’s men’s hockey team. “I can still compete out there. My hip is feeling great and my legs are stronger than ever. I was unstoppable at pickup games this summer.”
“Pickup games against amateurs?” Coach raised both of his eyebrows.
“Hey, I’m an amateur too,” Logan smiled meekly, tried to lighten things up.
“You have always skated well for a big man, but you’ve lost the agility and edge you used to have,” Coach Mike was unfazed, ignoring Logan’s attempt at humor, “and we can’t afford more penalties when opponents bounce off you and land hard on the ice.”
Logan sat silently now, with a lump forming in his throat.
"We knew when we recruited you that you had this tendency to be heavy, but I fought for you because you have so much potential. You’re one of the smartest players I’ve ever coached. And we proved them wrong, didn’t we? You showed them a heavier player can compete at this level. But I can't defend this now," he pointed at the number recorded on his physical report: 291.
Logan just shook his head. Another conversation about his weight. He had always hated the start of every camp, stripping down to his boxer briefs, stepping on a scale in front of the whole team, and having his body fat grabbed, pinched, measured and tracked. But at this latest weigh-in, Logan actually gasped louder than the trainer when the number showed up on the scale. He knew he’d been in denial… massively fat denial.
Why did I eat that huge meal the night before first weigh-in? He kicked himself inside. He could have easily come in under 290 if he had just gone paleo for a couple of days and drank a bunch of diuretic tea the night before.
“Maybe a year red-shirted will do you some good, and give you a chance to reset your priorities,” Coach continued. “We really shouldn’t have let you spend the summer away in Colorado; that was a bad idea.”
The lump in his throat felt like it grew to the size of a grapefruit. He looked down into his lap. What lap? All he could see was his damn fat belly laying on it. Jesus, how did I get here?
Coach Mike was right though. Those three months with his cousin in Denver really didn’t do him any favors. His intentions were good going into the plan. He was going to work out with some NCAA players in the Denver area that one of his teammates connected him with. He found a gym and went every day at first, and also got extra time on the ice playing pickup games with guys from local hockey clubs. But when he felt his hip flexor acting up again in July, there was a lot more resting time than active time. And throughout, there was probably too much beer drinking and definitely way too much eating.
“The scholarship situation is iffy…at best you may only get part of it this year. You have the highest GPA on the team so we’ll see what we can do about keeping it going. If you show us some commitment off the ice and improve your practice performance, we’ll try to turn this around for next year,” Coach stood up, signaling that the conversation was over.
So that was it. All of those years of training, dedication… literal blood, sweat and tears. Not to mention permanent scars, injured ligaments and broken bones… all out the window? Seriously? Am I really done competing?
Logan had always fought his tendency to be overweight, but his parents and coaches reassured him that he would thin out with height and more time on the ice, and at times that had been true. When he reached his final height at 6’1” though, there was no more hope of thinning out vertically. His voracious appetite never thinned out anyway, and over the last year, it seemed to have taken on a life of its own. He sometimes felt possessed by a hungry demon that wouldn’t relent until his belly was swollen full. All the calorie-burning time at practice and miles on the cardio bike couldn’t cover every enormous meal, along with the snacking and beer drinking that he sometimes enjoyed too.
He headed back to his apartment, feeling dejected and hungry. Hungry again? Damn. How was he going to explain his shameful demotion to his teammates, his friends, and worst of all, his father? That he had gotten too fat for hockey? The game his parents had sacrificed so much time and money for? His dad had warned him about going to Denver. Logan winced remembering the shocked look on his father’s face when he picked up his son at the airport.
Oh, and the hockey media…great… NCAA bloggers could be vicious. He already figured he’d bear the humiliating brunt of the failed athlete trope in the season opening news cycle. They’d go after him especially hard because of his looks. He had been chirped at a lot for being a ‘pretty boy’ his first couple of years as a Gopher, now probably making him an even bigger target for ridicule. Sickened by these thoughts, for once he actually lost his appetite and collapsed on his bed.
Glancing at the mounting texts on his phone, there were too many depressing commiserations coming in to even respond to, and he still had to call his Dad to break the news. But right now he just needed a nap to forget the day’s misery.
As he was about to nod off, he got a text from his Dad:
Talked to Coach, we have a plan.
Logan sighed. At least his dad already heard the mortifying news directly from Coach, and he wouldn’t suffer the further humiliation of having to report the gory details himself.
You need to stay committed on the ice
Practice every day with the team
But we’re going to get you a trainer too
Some cut, crazy, meathead who will make me feel like crap about myself, I’m sure, he thought. He leaned back and fell asleep.
Logan awoke famished again, just like every time he tried to cut back on meals. Food was like a drug. He could skip eating at times, but only for so long. As soon as he took the first bite, he wouldn’t be satisfied until he was stuffed. At least drug addicts could leave drugs behind, but rabid hunger pushed him farther into an overweight hole with each big meal.
He had kept it at bay at various times in his life, but how would he beat it back now? It was his childhood chubbiness, along with cruel taunts from his older sister that prompted his parents to put him in every sport possible. He remembered feeling like a lumbering fool in soccer and basketball, but on the ice his heft didn’t matter so much. He could use his strong legs to give him speed and defy the gravity that pulled him down in other sports. He also loved the way his hockey uniform and pads hid his extra weight, unlike the tight jerseys that clung to his fat in other sports.
One of his youth coaches, witnessing his exceptional skating ability, fast reflexes and intellect, took an interest in his potential as an elite player. He also gave him a lot of tips on controlling his diet and putting in extra time at the gym. Logan’s weight finally began to relent when he entered high school. His body got to a place that he was almost proud of, save the pesky love handle fat that never seemed to quite disappear. At least his mushy gut was mostly gone, and he felt more comfortable in his skin. During his sophomore year, he finally achieved the ultimate teenage trifecta: athletic success, honor roll grades, and a cute girlfriend.
Abbey liked Logan’s slimmer look and would not allow him to gain an ounce while she had influence over him. The night they first kissed at a friend’s party, she pulled his hand from the carton of pizza he was about to dig into, “You don’t want to get fat again, do you?” Her words still stung in his head, still even to this day.
Logan had crushed on Abbey from the first time he saw her in sixth grade. He wasn’t shy in general, but he knew her enough to know that she wouldn’t set her eyes on the chunky kid, no matter how dominating he was on the ice, or how high his grades were. But as he moved through puberty, the scales trended downward in his favor. He managed to finally drop that frustrating belly flab that had dogged him throughout middle school.
Abbey’s constant and shameful reminders of his weight issues continued to pressure him though. He always felt like he was being shadowed by his chubby past, and that he could easily lose her the instant he couldn’t control himself around food. He even avoided going out to eat with her so that every morsel he consumed wasn’t scrutinized. But he fell in love with Abbey, and for a while, the hunger for food was replaced by the desire for her affection and approval.
His coaches had high praise for his weight loss as well. He got a bit faster on the ice too, even if he lost some of the physical dominance his size had given him. From there he won starting positions on his high school and AAA teams, along with growing notice from NCAA, USHL and WHL scouts.
Laying in his bed now, thinking back to those days, Logan grabbed his phone and scrolled through old photos he had kept of Abbey with him at Prom, looking so happy. He was at least 80 pounds lighter in those photos than he was today. We were a great looking couple, he sighed. They seemed happy anyway, until she announced that she was sick of Minnesota and its brutally cold winters. After being accepted to the University of Texas, she informed him she wasn’t interested in a long distance relationship and ended things that summer before college, which pretty much broke his heart.
He hadn’t expected it to hurt him that much. He was supposed to be on top of the world, with our without her… having signed a letter of intent with a full athletic scholarship to play for his beloved Gophers. Everyone was in his ear about what he could achieve professionally if he set his mind to it. But it wasn’t a coincidence that his weight began a long, slow ascent after Abbey stopped taking his calls.
Despite putting on a few pounds, he had an excellent first season as an impact defenseman, with solid stats in assists and blocked shots. He was always in the weight room, trying to fight any accumulating fat by building more muscle. The trainers made comments, but the coaches didn’t seem overly concerned at first, as freshmen athletes generally got bigger as their bodies matured and strengthened. Entering his sophomore season though, everyone definitely noticed his added summer gain, and pushed him into a low carb diet regimen. By mid-season, he had gotten back down under 230, and enjoyed more on-ice success.
Off-ice success was more complicated. There were always girls hanging around the team, and it was kind of alarming to suddenly get so much aggressive attention. He had been so devoted to his high school girlfriend, that he had rarely noticed other girls. It was always all about Abbey. And before Abbey had come along, he had spent enough sensitive years bearing the brunt of fat jokes from opposing teams and their fans that he had learned early how to cut himself off mentally from what was happening in the crowd.
But the crowds were so much bigger now, and there were so many more fans… once he started paying attention again, he realized he was getting noticed as an object of hockey groupie desire. He smirked to himself, thinking of the fun he had with it for a while, but womanizing was not a comfortable way of life for him. He wouldn’t admit it to any of his teammates, but deep down he preferred a stable relationship over serial hookups.
Logan’s player days ended during his sophomore season, when he met Emily, a friend of one of his teammate’s girlfriends. She kind of reminded him of Abbey, with girl-next-door looks, and a curvy little body that he loved lying alongside. She was more interested in academic achievement than parties, which fit well with his student athlete regimen. Staying out of trouble and getting good grades was a necessity for NCAA eligibility, so he was relieved to be with someone who would keep him on the right path, unlike the barrage of puck bunnies that his coaches repeatedly warned him about.
There was a downside to settling down, though. He got comfortable with her and began to slide on his diet discipline in a way that Abbey would never have let happen. After a spring of rehabbing his hip and a summer of relaxing a little too much, he started his junior season hovering at 245, and then no one was happy. The constant lectures about dropping weight and cutting fat were unrelenting, and usually resulted in daily penalty time on the stationary bike and treadmill. It got worse when one of his teammates made a joke to Emily that she was making Logan fat. Then she started to pick at his weight too, nagging him when he’d eat a big meal and scold him over his penchant for late-night study snacks.
Around the same time, she also began to pick at his values too. Logan had never really been interested in politics, and wasn’t overly concerned with religious dogma either. He had a ‘live and let live’ independent philosophy of the world. His parents were both school teachers and moderate Lutherans who valued tolerance and fairness as much as personal responsibility and individual freedom.
Emily’s ultra conservative beliefs were too extreme for him though, and it began to cause a lot of friction between them. He could have handled polite disagreement, but her rigid intolerance made nearly every conversation about something in the news turn into in an argument. Finally fed up with her condescension of his views and nitpicking his weight, he broke up with her the night before The Mariucci Classic. In a zone of totally focused anger and resentment, he played one of the most physical games of his college career.
In spite of his talents, more than ever, Logan was relying on his hockey uniform to hide his bulging details and flabbier bits. Just like when he was a kid, the gear was once again his protective armor against the microscopic lens of spectator sports. Pushing 250, he wasn’t overly confident about his body, and got plenty of flak from his coaches and teammates about it.
It’s not like he was hugely overweight, he had a broad frame with a lot of muscle. But in their world, standards were different. Body fat numbers above 15% raised all eyebrows, and a few extra pounds over that might as well have been morbid obesity. Worst of all, some of the younger guys started embarrassing him with fat jokes in front of girls, which bothered him more than anything else. As a kid he had suffered the mercilessness of his sister fat-shaming him in front of her friends. That humiliation was buried deeply inside him, and continued to haunt the way he felt about himself around girls.
That roller coaster of a season ended in a critical game against rival North Dakota. He suffered a pretty severe hip flexor tear and was sidelined for the remaining games, missing a chance to play in the tournament. Disappointment, frustration and lack of exercise didn’t help the trend on the scale, as he slid into the offseason edging closer to 260.
So here he was now, much heavier than that, and paying dearly for letting his weight get completely out of control. Coach Mike had exaggerated, Logan wasn’t quite 300. But to be fair, it wouldn’t have taken too many more pizzas, burgers and beers to get him over that threshold. Now he was going to get a trainer, who was going to put him on a degrading leash. He could only imagine the hyper-fanatical fitness bro he’d get stuck with. Those guys knew everything about getting lean and cut, but they didn’t know a thing about what it takes to win in a high-pressure team sport. But Coach and Dad had it all worked out: work with a trainer every morning, go to class, join the team in the weight room, then night practices, studying and nothing else. No games, no fast food, no beer, no fun and no life.
Part Two: Meadow
“Come on Meadow, move, Move, MOVE!”
Her thighs were burning. She tried to pull her brain away from the fatigue, but her adrenaline was sapped and her legs wouldn’t give her what her coach wanted.
“2:32,” Renate said disappointedly, shaking her head. “Where are you today?”
“Not enough sleep last night,” Meadow admitted, slowing down to an exhausted coast.
“You won’t qualify at time trials if you keep this up. The time to do this is now,” Renate scolded her protégé.
“I know Renate, I’ll go to bed early tonight,” Meadow half-smiled.
Renate just sighed. It had already been a couple of hours, and that was enough. She knew she wasn’t going to get any more out of Meadow. “Nutrition?” she queried.
“I’m eating clean,” Meadow exhaled. She missed fries and ice cream so much it hurt, but she was following the direction Renate had given her. Egg whites, muesli, fruits, veggies, salmon, peanut butter, quinoa, on and on. With the right spices, healthy food had its moments, but it was getting old.
“Make sure you eat enough,” Renate scolded Meadow lapsing harder into her Dutch accent.
“I am,” Meadow nodded. She really was, she thought. It wasn’t easy with that boring lack of variety, but she had broken her sugar habit, at least. Simple carb withdrawal took several torturous weeks to get through.
“You’re skating like you’re not getting enough fuel.”
“I’ll carry a bag of your granola around with me, and eat it wherever I go,” Meadow teased her trainer. Renate was notorious for handing out bags of her homemade muesli that had everything: oats, barley, flax, wheat germ, chia seeds, almonds, orange zest and raisins. “Mix it with yogurt and a little agave nectar,” Renate would tell her athletes, “you will skate like wind.”
Renate smirked; her muesli was no granola. “You’re lucky I love your Tante so much or I’d toss you out on your arse.”
“Goede nacht,” Meadow said goodnight in her coach’s native tongue. She usually slipped some Dutch into the conversation when she wanted to soften Renate up.
“Slaap lekker,” Renate relaxed her face. “Tomorrow at 6?”
Meadow nodded. Only a couple of months remained before time trials, so she had to put the effort in now. Renate was tough, but she was also especially protective of Meadow. Meadow’s Tante, or Aunt Johanna, was a Dutch Olympic speed skating medalist in the 1980s. Johanna then trained Renate, who medaled for the Netherlands in the late 1990s.
Meadow’s own athletic roots ran deep. Her Italian-born father, Paolo, had been an Olympic skier during the same years Johanna competed. It was at the 1984 games in Sarajevo that he met Johanna’s little sister, Marien. While Marien was never an Olympiad herself, she had won some titles at major tournaments in Europe before a major injury at age 18 ended her competition career. The couple fell in love and married after Paolo medaled at the 88 Olympics in Calgary. They moved to Colorado in 1991 where he was hired as a Pro in Aspen, and the next year, Marien was pregnant with Meadow. When Meadow turned 10, the family moved to Minnesota where Paolo took over managing a large ski resort in northern part of the state.
Coached by her mother, Meadow exceled at gymnastics at an early age, and was traveling to competitions throughout Colorado while still in grade school. But with snow sports all around her, and skates on her feet by age 3, she gravitated toward the ice. Her gymnast’s flexibility and grace gave her a natural ability as a figure skater, and soon she was competing at an elite level, winning regional youth competitions around the Midwest.
During high school, her strong technical skills, timing instincts and training discipline got her more notice, and she was asked to get involved with pairs skating. She was partnered with a boy from Duluth, and they began practicing together every weekend. At first, it worked well with Justin. He was easygoing, patient and they had fun together, despite the long hours and tough coaching.
But Meadow loved speed more than style... that her own two legs could propel her at such exhilarating velocities was an athletic epiphany. She’d beg her mother to take her to the Oval in Roseville after competitions in the Twin Cities so she could do some fast laps on the long track. It was during these visits that Marien introduced her to Renate, who gave Meadow a pair of clap skates, and planted seeds in the girl’s head about her ability and potential in racing.
Renate encouraged her to put more time in at the gym strengthening her legs, and working on endurance conditioning while building her core. Meadow’s arms transformed from girlish little twigs into lithe, defined tools. Her legs had been so thin and child-like, and now were more powerful, revealing sharper quads and harder glutes. She was becoming a better skater too; better at the jumps, and better at getting air. It wasn't like her increasing strength was a deal-breaker for figure skating, but it was definitely pushing her passions farther away from it.
After a few months, Justin began to notice that Meadow’s body was changing. He was having a harder time with lifts and spirals and making occasional comments that her weight was shifting. After a dangerous drop in which she slammed down hard on her shoulder, he lashed out in mix of both guilt and anger. “How much weight have you gained?”
“I’m not fat!” Meadow screamed at him, feeling the pain radiate across her body. She knew her legs were bigger, and she had gained a few pounds of muscle, but she also had cut her body fat too, hoping that would offset any weight-related performance issues on the ice.
“I have to do all the heavy lifting, Meadow, you can’t make it harder for me,” he taunted her.
“Fuck you, Justin,” she screamed back, causing many coaches and parents at the rink to turn white. “Good luck finding a better skater than me to make you look good.” She stormed off the ice, and that was the end of her figure skating career. At age 17, she sold her competition skates to buy custom speed skates, and committed herself to her true passion.
Wanting to work more with Renate, who was training skaters in the Twin Cities, she was accepted at the University of Minnesota. She walked-on the track team as a mid-distance runner, so she could hone her speed fitness even more. And, at UMN, she was a short drive from the Roseville Oval, where she could train on the long track on ice in the winter, and on wheels throughout the summer.
Her obsession with training seeped into her educational pursuits when she decided on Kinesiology as her major. She loved connecting what she was learning in school to making her own body faster. Her second summer, she sought out an internship in Milwaukee at a sports medicine clinic. The work was mostly boring, taking care of exercise equipment and assisting PTs and trainers, so it was hardly glamorous, aside from the Pilates and core training classes she taught in the evenings. But what a summer in Milwaukee really gave her was daily access to the Pettit Olympic Center, where she could get long track ice under her feet during warmer months, and mingle with some of the best in US speed skating.
Athletics came easy to Meadow, but relationships did not. With all of her commitments, she had no time for boys. She had at various times attempted to get to know people who were also involved with sports, trying to build a circle of acquaintances based on common interests, until they inevitably came on to her, wanting only one thing. Too many budding friendships, with both guys and girls, ended in disappointment that way.
Meadow’s blessing and curse was her beauty. She inherited her parents’ physical lineage as a natural athlete; but she also received the best of their looks. Her father’s chocolate brown hair and flawless, olive skin paired perfectly with her mother’s big, deep-set eyes, wide smile and the defined cheekbones that framed her face.
She always felt her looks were something outside of her, and not a part of her athletic identity... but she had no problem with it when it helped her gain favor with figure skating judges, and she had suspected it often did. Yet, in speed sports where only athleticism was valued, she found her looks actually worked against her. She was regularly treated by peers as ornamental and not serious; and it made every interaction with some alpha male that hit on her even more frustrating.
There were a small handful of dates in high school, but nothing ever became remotely serious. She missed parties and proms, spending most weekends at camps, clinics or competitions. A few minor kisses were all the romantic experience she had going into college. The boys who were even willing to approach her for a date became quickly frustrated with her lack of time and commitment to them, and just moved on.
College was more of the same. For a time, she questioned whether romantic relationships were going to be for her at all. She knew she wasn’t into girls, not physically nor even socially. She had nothing in common with most girls anyway, and if she did, they were usually her competition. But she also didn’t feel anything for the hockey jocks and gym rats that all the other girls swooned over at the rink. Some were cute enough, but the idea of being intimate with the arrogant clowns that hit on her never seemed appealing.
Her outlook on relationships changed when she met Tim, a PT nurse working at the clinic in Milwaukee. He was not the kind of boy she had ever met on the ice or in the gym. He was shy and sweet, with a baby face containing really pretty eyes and charmingly plump lips.
She liked that he was gentle and kind, and not the archetypal aggressive jock. He had a lovely face, but there was something else about him that gave her fluttery feelings... he had a nice bit of pudgy roundness across his middle, an ample bum and chunky thighs. He was not huge, but he was undeniably on the tubby side. She noticed him right away, zeroing in on the way his adorable love handles clearly revealed themselves under his scrubs.
Meadow hadn’t always understood it, but she had long been intrigued by plumpness. The first time she realized it was really ‘a thing’ for her was in eighth grade science class. She was assigned to sit at a lab table with Kyle Jorgensen, a cute guy that had always been popular with the girls in her small northern Minnesota middle school. As the year progressed, he put on a noticeable amount of weight. Nothing extreme, but for a boy who had always been pretty lean, it showed.
At first, she just happened to glance down and detect the slight roll of flab forming above his jeans as he sat beside her. She was fascinated that a bit of belly fat could begin to settle in where it hadn’t been before. It somehow made him more vulnerable and authentic to her, which she found utterly charming. Kyle may have only put on 10, or maybe even 15 pounds that whole year, but the way his weight gain changed her view of him became the bridge to her self-awareness as a girl who liked some meat on a man’s bones. Over time, as puberty awakened her feelings more, it became clear to her that she loved it when guys gained weight and found heavier guys much more captivating.
In her world, though, fat had never been a good, nor advantageous thing for athletes, not even a little bit, unless maybe they were in football or sumo wrestling. Any excitement she felt, for even a small amount of chub, was stifled deep inside her. She certainly didn’t have it on her own body. Her whole family was naturally athletic and lacked any softness whatsoever. She became desperately curious about it... What did fat feel like? What might it feel like to grab a big handful of it? To have a big, soft bellied guy press himself into her, kiss her neck and have his meaty hands all over her body?
Even though she had finally connected those fat feelings to her hard-wired sexuality, she was never sure how to act on them. With her crazy schedule, and fitness focused environment, there were few opportunities to meet the right guy. So when she finally met Tim, she found his sweet and soft appeal was exactly what she had been wanting for so long. But between his shyness and her lack of experience, it took half the summer before they even had a basic conversation.
As she walked from the training rink back to her apartment, she smiled to herself, remembering their first awkward interaction. Tim had approached her one evening after she had finished cleaning gym equipment. “Meadow, right?”
She had felt excited that he even knew who she was. She hadsaid hello to him a few times in passing, but they hadn’t ever been introduced. “Yes,” she smiled brightly, her heart pounding. Then, realizing he had a VIP client with him, she toned down her excitement to a professional level.
“This is Mattias,” he introduced them, but Meadow already knew who he was. Mattias Clausen was a second-line forward for the Chicago Blackhawks, but had been sidelined late last season by an MCL injury. She had overheard the receptionists talking excitedly about a pro hockey player, and learned he was seeing the top orthopedic doc in the clinic.
“Nice to meet you, Meadow,” Mattias said flirtatiously to Meadow in his Danish accent, shaking her hand.
Tim continued, very professionally, “Dr. Lake said you had experience with speed skating, so he asked me to introduce you two.”
Mattias smiled and raised his eyebrows at Meadow, “You don’t look like most speed skaters I’ve met.”
Meadow gave him a baffled look.
“I mean, you’re too beautiful,” his eyes scanned down her body in a smarmy way that made her feel uncomfortable, especially with poor, adorable Tim as the middleman.
Meadow hid her annoyance with a plastic smile. Well, you look exactly like most douchebags who say things like that, she thought, barely able to keep the words inside herself.
“So, you know people at the Pettit?” Mattias widened his stance confidently with his hands on his hips, completely clueless that she was annoyed.
“Yep,” she forced her smile longer.
“Some track work may help me rehab,” he clarified.
“I know the program director, she can help you with scheduling,” Meadow explained, hoping she wouldn’t run into him there.
“Great,” he smiled, his eyes intent in hers, handing her his card. “Email me her information.”
“No problem,” she remained polite.
“Then maybe I can ask you to dinner to repay you,” he flirted more. There it was, the inevitable hit up. No matter what country they came from, hockey guys were so predictable.
She glanced at Tim who was turning pink, clearly embarrassed to be standing there in the midst of this entanglement, and probably uneasy about how to extricate himself from the situation.
“Alright then,” Meadow just continued to smile, turning to Tim to be her savior. “I want to catch you before you go, I had a question about...” she tried to make something up quick, “um, ordering supplies.”
Tim looked at her with confusion, but Mattias was oblivious. “Thank you, Meadow,” he winked at her and sauntered away confidently.
“Ordering supplies?” Tim was perplexed.
“Sorry, it was the only thing I could think of,” she sheepishly grinned.
“Huh?” he still didn’t understand.
“That was uncomfortable,” she explained to him. “Now I suppose I’ll have to see him over at the Pettit,” she rolled her eyes.
“You’re not a fan?” Tim was dumfounded.
“No,” she blushed and whispered, “I’m not interested in hockey douches. They only want one thing.”
Tim’s expression softened and he let out a relieved laugh.
“Even the famous ones?” He still seemed skeptical.
“Especially the famous ones,” she shared, now kind of giggling. She was raised surrounded by professional athletes, and had been to enough international competitions to have gotten over being star struck by just about anyone, let alone some arrogant pro hockey player.
After that day, Tim and Meadow began eating lunches together, getting coffee after work, and developing a friendship that by the end of summer, turned into a romantic relationship. She was rather inept at first, with the physical side; she had so little experience. Tim was gentle and understanding though, and he didn’t even seem to mind when she became brave enough to caress his little belly and grab a handful of side flab. Her experience with him turned her fat curiosity into a solid preference. She finally learned what it felt like to hug, cuddle and grope a chubby person, and she was completely satisfied by it.
They continued in a long-distance relationship when she went back to school. Every other weekend she’d drive down to Milwaukee to get some training time in and see Tim. He even became a bit of a coach for her, timing her laps and encouraging her progress. He also helped her study for her board exams, which she’d scored well on.
But things ended quickly when he got his dream job as a PT with the Orlando Magic. He was passionate about basketball, so it was an offer he couldn’t pass up. He asked her to move down to Florida with him, which flabbergasted her, since they never had talked of commitments. She hadn’t even said ‘I love you’ to him yet.
Tim was persistent, researching the Orlando area ice rinks and skate clubs in an attempt to persuade her that Florida was a great place for her to continue her competitive passions. But Meadow could never live in Florida, she knew that well. She was a cold-blooded girl who loved her roots and her goals more than she loved Tim. Her place was in Minnesota, and that was that. She could have been persuaded to spend more time with him in Milwaukee, but more for its Olympic facility than for any man, no matter how great of a guy he was.
Tim moved on, and Meadow continued with her life alone. She had liked him a lot, maybe she did even love him. But she really didn’t need a committed relationship in her life. There was training to focus on, and nothing would get in the way of that.
She graduated, passed her boards, and found a job working as personal trainer at a boutique gym in the North Loop, while also giving skating lessons to kids on the weekends. Eventually she wanted to get board certified with a specialty in Sports PT, but in the meantime, she’d focus on her personal goals. She kept her early mornings, and some nights open for training with Renate, and there wasn’t room for any more than that in her life.
“I have a new client,” Renate shared the news as Meadow grabbed a kettlebell.
She felt her neck heat up, hating the thought of her working with a rival skater, not wanting Renate’s secret coaching sauce getting out to anyone who might be her competition. Meadow hadn’t been training for speed since she was a kid like many other speed skating athletes. She had insecurities about her lack of experience, but Renate’s accelerated training program was getting her closer to feeling like a seasoned contender. She did not want to share that mojo with anyone else.
Renate could see Meadow was unhappy. “Don’t worry, Meisje, just a hockey player, no threat to you.”
“Well, that’s beneath you,” Meadow winked at her coach.
“Pays the bills,” Renate shrugged with a smirk.“So you’re selling out?” Meadow continued to tease her coach.
“You want to sell out a little too?” Renate raised her eyebrow.
“What?” Meadow’s voice dropped. She was not amused with what Renate was implying.
“There’s a scheduling overlap,” Renate looked hopefully at Meadow. “I can work with you one on one from 6 to 7, but then I have both of you after that. I’ll give you a break on your training fees if you help work with this one... and we still have those Wednesday evenings together too.”
This proposal hit into her weakness, a little. It would be nice to reduce training costs, as she wasn’t getting rich off her work as a trainer, nor those weekend skating lessons. Plus, the experience of training another athlete would help pad her resume as well.
“Please tell me this is a female hockey player, at least,” Meadow knew Renate had worked with a handful of athletes from women’s hockey teams in recent years.
“Nope,” Renate smiled. “UMN men’s team.”
“Really?” Meadow was irritated. “Those guys always think they’re so damn great already, why bother with a speed skating coach?”
“Because this one needs a lot of extra time on the long track,” she said smugly.
“Huh?” Meadow was confused. Hockey was about quick bursts and agility, not long track endurance, pacing and rhythm.
“One of their Golden Gophers got so fat over the summer that they gave him the red shirt,” Renate explained.
Meadow was stunned, and didn’t know which emotion to react to... she was feeling instantly turned on by the idea of a conceited jock who got too fat for his fame and glory. But at the same time, she was totally perturbed about sharing Renate and her precious training time with some pampered hockey bro that caught a fleeting case of tubbiness.
Renate seemed oblivious to Meadow’s reddening face and continued to explain. “Coach Morris heard about my work with the women’s’ team and that’s how this one landed with me.”
“He’s in for a rude awakening,” Meadow tried to mask her exasperation with a joke.
“I hope so,” Renate winked, “He needs to drop at least 60 pounds if he wants back on the team next year.”
Meadow nearly choked. Oh my God, I can feel it when a couple creep up on me, what would 60 be like on a guy? She was tingling all over, How am I going to play this off? If I’m lucky he’ll be all scarred and ugly and that will be that...
Part Three: Deep Freeze
Meadow clenched her fists and gritted her teeth. He’s not scarred and ugly at all. He’s only the most gorgeous damn player on the whole Gopher team. She had seen him before, a couple of years ago, at the Mariucci Arena. She put her season pass to use during public hours after her morning classes to practice tightening her turns and refining her crossovers.
Hearing the Zamboni rev up, she’d slow down to a glide toward the exit, as the machine was ready to roll on and resurface for the precious hockey team. They’d be hanging in the tunnel, waiting to get on the ice for practice. One of them, she couldn’t even remember his face anymore, but she remembered his irritating persistence... he’d linger where she would be taking off her skates, trying to chat her up, saying dumb things like, “Be careful on our ice in those,” pointing at her speed skates, or, “I’ll race you anytime, honey...” He was totally patronizing and utterly annoying.
And this new student of Renate’s, standing in front of her now, was that jerk’s buddy, Logan. After the nameless creep was done making an ass of himself, this Logan guy would make a cocky half nod and slight grin to her, as if he were in agreement that girls just get in the way of the important, manly sport. She cursed herself for even noticing Logan’s blue-green bedroom eyes, mop of sandy blonde hair, and bright white, confident smile. Even the good-sized scar along his right cheek was infuriatingly adorable.
She noticed him again at the Gopher hockey games that her dad dragged her to when her parents would come down to visit her. That was where she learned his name, Logan Hansen. There she witnessed how good he was on skates. She was never big on the games themselves, but more interested in the skating. She watched his technique intently, and remembered being impressed with his natural style, effortlessly stopping, shifting and taking off. He wasn’t the fastest skater ever, but he still made skating look so damn easy, from his fluid strides down to his sharpest turns. He even seemed to spray the ice higher than any other guy on the team.
What she most remembered though, was how extremely physical he was, almost gasping when he checked opponents. A couple of times he checked along the boards a bit too much for NCAA refs, putting him in the penalty box. When he took off his helmet and confidently flashed a mischievous grin to the cheering fans, she could literally feel her eyes rolling back into her head. She didn’t clap or cheer along with the fans, knowing full well that this hot guy and the rest of his teammates were complete douchehounds.
She couldn’t keep herself from continuing to watch him though. He certainly wasn’t the leanest looking hockey player she had ever seen. He seemed even thicker than the already promising 225 pound number published on the roster. But under all that uniform, who could tell for sure? His slightly soft face and broad form seemed to indicate he could at least be a bit thick? She liked imagining a little roll of flab hiding under that jersey. It would be rare for an elite player to have much by way of body fat, but she wanted him to be chubby... she always wanted that.
Meadow had forgotten all about him though, just a passing blip in life. He had been another in a long line of cute but annoying guys she pushed out of her mind. But now here he was, right in front of her, in an obviously fatter body. His poly-knit t-shirt could not hide the swollen silhouette of his jiggling belly, nor did it conceal the plump, luscious mounds on his chest; and definitely not the magnificently rounded love handle flab his big, meaty hands rested on.
No longer a blip; now more like a blimp, she wickedly amused herself. It somehow made her feel more in control of this confused pendulum of feelings, swinging between fuming exasperation and wanton excitement. For most girls, it might have been a triumph. How great that some jerky jock who seemed like he was above everyone else, turned into a fat tub of lard, falling off his high horse with a thud. But damn it, not me, she kicked herself inside, I’m the one girl in the world who is actually even more attracted to him now. Awful.
Logan remembered Meadow from those day practices at the Mariucci, but he tried to hide his recognition of her. She was a fixture there for public hours, during his freshman and sophomore years, clearly trying to ignore the collective gawking by his whole team. The guys sometimes made comments, although the more depraved ones were saved until after she was gone. Logan avoided the worst of it, but he may have smiled at some of the jokes. It was hard not to when she had such a stuck-up attitude.
Josh, one of his best friends on the team, was especially persistent in trying to flirt with her. But she was colder than the massive sheet of ice under their skates. Logan understood not to even try anything with her. She was obviously a serious, committed athlete, and he knew well that those kinds of girls were rarely amused by the cheeky antics of hockey players, especially when they’re that beautiful.
“Don’t bother with her,” Logan told Josh after several lame attempts at her attentions, “She’s never going to talk to you.”
Josh was always irritated by Logan’s advice, taking his caution as an insult. “You think you’ve got a better shot at her?”
“No, I don’t mean you personally, I mean any of us,” he’d reasoned. “Girls like her always hate guys like us, especially a speed skater with a chip on her shoulder. She’s a lost cause.”
Logan hated seeing his friend embarrass himself trying to get this girl’s attention. It took some time to get through to Josh, but Logan would always remind him, “She’s just another pretty girl. There’s plenty already cheering for you at every game.”
It was true, there were always hockey groupies around, and usually ready to take home any guy on the team, Logan included. Although with his gradual gain, he became more self-conscious about showing off his burgeoning girth to easy girls with no discretion and no filter. He was smart enough to know that he was a semi-celebrity now, and had a target on his back.
After Emily, he completely avoided any romantic situations where a girl might see exactly how soft he was getting, afraid he’d be exposed by some loud mouth chick as a fat failure in bed. Coaches warned guys all the time about doing stupid things publicly, especially with social media and sports blogs giving every mistake a megaphone. How dumb was he to think that controlling his sexual urges would save his athletic standing? Of course it would be his food and hunger urges that would ultimately ruin his reputation.
Still, Logan couldn’t avoid noticing how remarkably beautiful this aloof ice queen still was. She was very easy to remember and even easier on the eyes. She wasn’t just any typical, cute chick... she was one of those unapproachable, unattainable women.
How is it possible that she is here now, standing in front of me, to witness my humiliating rehabilitation? And why these women anyway? What did they know about hockey? Maybe some crazy gym bro would have actually been better than this. Logan wasn’t thrilled with dealing with his weight problems, but he was used to it with coaches and teammates; they were just guys. With females, well, it was just different.
He had no choice though. He was up against the wall with Coach Mike and his future. The scholarship was at stake, so he had to give this a chance, as sick as it made him inside. Now he’d spend every morning with this odd, androgynous woman with a funny accent; and the other, one of the coldest, hardest, and most incredibly stunning girls he’d ever laid eyes on.
“I hope we’ll do some good work together now,” Renate finished the introductions, ready to get down to business.
No way, Renate, Meadow thought, cringing more. She was still angry inside. She forced a pained nod and barely a glance, but couldn’t smile or say a word. She’d have to share training time with a hockey jock. And not just any hockey jock, a chubby, gorgeous one who would distract her. With Renate’s wizardry, he would probably lose all the weight he needed to, and then be an even bigger douche than he already was. Just.... fuck.
Logan was unprepared for Renate’s plan. The entire first week, he brought his skates every day, figuring he’d be working out on the ice, at least part of the time… but Renate kept sending him up to the gym mezzanine to work on the cardio machines. Each day, he spent the entire hour spinning, or on the elliptical, all while watching Renate work with Meadow on her training across the room.
He became increasingly annoyed, feeling as though he could have done this himself without money going to a speed skating trainer. At least he wasn’t getting weighed by her too, but an hour of aerobic work each day wasn’t going to fix his problems. Been there and done that... this will only made me hungrier… I’ll easily eat as much as I burn off.
He did find some opportunities to enjoy the view, though. Meadow’s body was an impressive little machine. She was almost like an optical illusion, with so much power coming from such a petite silhouette. As he pushed his legs through the hard intervals on the machines, he admired her toned, narrow back and tight, heart-shaped glutes. He imagined getting his hands under her short shorts and feeling the silky skin underneath. He smiled to himself, pumping the pedals, thinking dirty thoughts about her might get me through this.
At the end of that first week, Renate finally pulled him off the equipment to talk to him. “You are used to this, I can see,” she pointed to the line of stationary cycles and machines. “You have big muscle strength and stamina, you didn’t lose that when you put on all this weight.”
Meadow was pretending not to listen while balancing on the dynadisc, but it was impossible not to hear the juicy bits. Just the words alone, put on all this weight, made her feel lustful inside. She glanced over and saw him blushing, his belly quivering a bit from his heavy breathing. She loved that he looked pudgy and embarrassed. She felt a little guilty about thinking such a mean thing, but she was excited by it anyway.
Renate plopped a big bag of muesli on the bench he was sitting on. It was only a matter of time before he got his breakfast provisions too. “A cup of this before you come to me, and a cup after, for recovery,” she advised, “then a good, healthy lunch that fills you, not stuffs you, and a light dinner. No starving, and no binging.”
“What about calories? My coaches have had me do food diaries and take supplements,” he started to explain softly, glancing at Meadow, hoping she wasn’t hearing any of this. He could handle the physical work in front of her, that wasn’t going to bother him. Even though he was fat right now, he was also extremely strong and capable of anything athletically. Still, he hated dealing with the food side. His lack of willpower had always made him feel weak and inadequate.
Renate just laughed, “No, Logan, the only numbers and records that matter to me are the ones you make on the ice. I don’t believe in that old, complicated way of doing things, it’s not sustainable. You just follow what I tell you - cup before, cup after, good lunch, light dinner – that’s it, very easy. Avoid processed foods, starchy carbs and cheap sugars... you know all of this, just eat clean.”
Meadow had heard those very words from Renate too and couldn’t help but laugh to herself. It didn’t matter if you were petite and lean, or a big hulking beast of a man, Renate had the same nutrition advice for everyone. It sounded easy, but Meadow wondered how easy it was for a guy like Logan, who clearly enjoyed indulging beyond those simple boundaries. She really enjoyed visualizing his obvious lack of appetite control though, he was such a big chunk right now. God that’s hot. Damn him.
“And hydrate, lots of water, herbal tea is good... no soda, not even diet; and no alcohol either.” she reminded him. “Especially beer, no beer!”
“Done, already done,” he put his hands up and half-smiled in exasperation, shaking his head.
“So,” Renate continued, “we are done with these,” pointing back at the machines. “You have your evening practices with the team already. Do light exercise on the weekend. Get outside whenever you can. Ride your bicycle, take a brisk walk, hike the trails... even when it gets cold, bundle up and get outside... whatever you need to do to keep your head full of fresh oxygen. No running, though, not at your size. There’s too many better options. Your team needs your knees and hips healthy, and you carry too much weight right now for that pounding on your tendons and joints.”
Meadow’s ears tingled as Renate outlined his instructions. He is carrying all that extra weight around, she felt her body give in to a deep exhale, feeling wicked again, what would it be like to feel him press all of that weight into me?
Logan glanced at Meadow, and he could have sworn he saw her smirk to herself when Renate mentioned his weight again. What a snob, he thought, now completely irritated by her presence. She really thinks she’s hot shit.
“Next week, our mornings will be focused on core work, together with Meadow,” Renate stood up, “Use the weekends for recovery. And no binging,” she repeated, wagging her finger at him, “stop when you are full.”
He was relieved to move on from the insult of blindly working on lame cardio machines, but he didn’t love the way Meadow was clearly listening to all of Renate’s dietary directives with such obvious judgement. Whatever, he thought, her shallow, stuck-up opinion isn’t what matters to my future.
With Renate’s words though, Meadow imagined him plowing through a table full of fatty foods and rich desserts, gorging himself into a stupor... and then trying to get through a tough workout, jiggling breathlessly... all making her feel dirty and hot... not to mention confused. At night, in bed alone, it was hard to shake those thoughts without pleasuring herself to them. How could she not? A big, strong yet tubby athlete in his fattened up state was the ultimate catalyst to reawaken her sexual desires... and a total nightmare to staying focused on her professionalism and athletic goals.
Renate’s dry land training was at least more interesting than boring aerobic machines, but Logan was still frustrated they weren’t on the ice yet. He would always be more comfortable on skates than in sneakers, wearing clingy, sweaty, flab-revealing clothes, and dealing with these two women that he had nothing in common with.
“Your coach told me you have an aggravated hip flexor that flares up from time to time,” Renate started the session.
“Yeah, my hip usually nags me a lot by mid-season,” he explained rubbing along his right side.
“In skating, the abdominals give your hips integrity, you need the entire muscle structure strong and balanced there, not just the ones you use the most,” she motioned around her own torso. “We’ll spend time on that,” she pointed at his gut.
Logan had dabbled in core training in the gym over the years, but never had too much time for it. So much focus was always on practice, ice drills, the weight room and calorie burning cardio. His core was pretty strong from skating anyway, or so he had always thought. But the specific methods Meadow was doing to hone long track speed did intrigue him. At least it was something different to try, and he needed to do something differently if his situation was going to turn around.
Renate pulled out the slideboard first. He knew the slideboard all too well as a staple in his hockey training for years, but she showed him some techniques that he hadn’t seen before. Within a few minutes, he wanted mercy for his abs, glutes and inner thighs. Everything burned by the end of the hour. He was definitely, and unexpectedly to him, being tested.
The next day they focused on plyometrics. Renate had him do planks and squats, while Meadow did box jumps. “You just work low-impact, for now,” Renate reminded him of the extra load his body was carrying, “We need you ready for the ice, not in rehab. Maybe when you’re lighter, you’ll show Meadow how to do those jumps,” Renate winked at him.
Meadow just rolled her eyes. Not in a million years, Fatty. She couldn’t help herself with these thoughts, as nasty as they were. It seemed like a harmless way to keep herself protected from his good looks and sexy pudge. If he just didn’t jiggle so much, I could concentrate.
Another session was spent showing Logan advanced work on the Pilates reformer. Renate was very hands-on to make sure his position and moves were aligned. Meadow squirmed when Renate wrapped her arm under his belly to show him how to keep his back straight.
Another little fantasy played in her head... slipping herself underneath him on the reformer while he worked out, getting a handful of his belly with one hand, and teasing him between his legs with her other hand. Logan, you’ve really let yourself go, she’d jiggle his belly imagining it was even bigger than it was now. You might as well give in to this too. Then pulling him down on top of her, she’d feel the only rock-hard thing left on his body enter inside her. I really have to stop thinking about him this way, she chastised herself.
Renate also mandated a yoga session each week for her athletes in training. Logan balked. He had never liked the idea of mindfulness in his exercise. He preferred the adrenaline rush of an intense workout and a fast recovery, just getting it over and done with. “Men think they’re too tough for yoga, but your coaches will thank me later. Less injury here,” Renate reminded him, pointing again to his hips.
He did his best, but mostly focused his eyes on Meadow’s lithe body and graceful movement throughout the class. This particular requirement seemed a little unfair to him. He wanted to do what he was good at, and prove to them he was a real athlete and not some tubby schmuck off the street. And when it came to yoga, he felt exactly like the latter.
Renate was truly managing to kick his ass in ways it hadn’t been kicked before, and Meadow seemed to enjoy it a little too much. She was so conceited. He couldn’t imagine she’d ever had a boyfriend, they’d all be beneath her. And if she actually did find one who measured up, he would still have to be a complete sucker. What guy with any sense of self-worth would put up with a narcissist like her? Unless, it was just for sex, he smirked to himself, admiring her body, thinking wickedly, she’d be good for that. He couldn’t help but escape into another little ‘have my way with her’ fantasy to get through this training alongside the ice queen.
“Today the turn cables,” Renate announced that Friday, taking them to the outdoor track. Meadow groaned, but Logan didn’t mind. He had done plenty of training with turn cables and technicords; and knew he still had the powerful legs to pull all the way.
“Good work, Logan,” his new coach nodded her head, “You have great form, nice...” she appraised his work. “Meadow, see how he plants low with his knee straight, keeping an even rhythm?”
Meadow just sort of nodded, not wanting to enthusiastically acknowledge his physical prowess. She had never much liked those damn turn cables. They were one of those things that favored the bulk muscle and brute strength that came to men more naturally. Her skills always shone through much more clearly on ice than on asphalt anyway.
Logan was oddly happy to get some praise from Renate. While unsure why he wanted it, he soaked it in anyway. It was nice to finally hear something positive. Nonetheless, he was relieved to reach the end of a long, painful week.
“I hear the weather will be good on Monday,” Renate smiled, “Let’s meet at the Oval.”
Meadow was thrilled, “Field trip?”
Renate nodded, and looked at Logan, “You have inline, yes?”
“Uh yeah, roller hockey if that’s okay,” he shrugged. It would be nice to finally skate, even if not on the ice. But looking at Meadow, he was stunned... he couldn’t believe the joyous look on her face. It was the first time he actually saw a genuine smile there. He’d seen plenty of her amused smirks, but never any sincere happiness come through. It made her look even more beautiful, and he was momentarily dumb struck.
“That’s fine. Meadow might have the advantage, though, she has five wheel racers,” Renate teased him, “But don’t be discouraged,” she laughed. “Come a little early so we can warm up and get the whole time in.”
Meadow was elated and a little turned on. She loved the idea of speeding past him, leaving his round, chubby ass in the dust. She couldn’t wait until Monday.
“This will be covered in ice soon, so we’ll get some wheels on it this week, while we can,” Renate pointed around the Oval with a grin, making both her students happy with news of some gym-free days ahead. “We’re lucky Eric gave us early morning times; but back to the gym next week.”
Renate was referring to Eric, the rink facility manager, who gave Renate private training time at dirt cheap rates. Meadow had known him since she was a teenager, but she had always found him, sort of, uncomfortably friendly. Luckily, Renate was a complete mother hen, so no boys ever got very close to Meadow when the two of them were training together.
They jumped on the track, and very quickly Meadow found out she had been a bit overconfident. Despite her years of focused speed training and her superior skates, Logan was ahead of her much of the time. She tried to ignore him, mostly, but stole the occasional gaze over his plump body and huge, muscular legs. It was hard to tell if he had actually lost much weight, but his body was definitely more graceful on skates, making him seem lighter.
Renate was clearly impressed with his technique. “You are a fantastic skater, Logan,” she praised him.
“I should be by now,” he shrugged his shoulders sarcastically, wondering if they had entirely forgotten that he had been competing at an elite level for several years. But at this point, he had been humbled enough by his current situation that he almost appreciated the compliment. It definitely felt good to fly down the track, feeling unencumbered by his weight. Skates always freed him from the shackles of his bulk.
“Now that I see your mechanics, though, I think you’d benefit from trying to lengthen your stride even more,” she explained. “Just a little bit of improvement will make you more efficient. When you’re more efficient, you get less tired… and then less injury too,” she added.
He nodded back, hearing what she was saying.
“You could switch over to competitive speed skating if you were leaner,” Renate told him this news with an encouraging smile, like it was another compliment. He was growing used to her bluntness about his fat, but was still relieved Meadow wasn’t right there to hear it. He’d never get used to her arrogant looks and judgmental eyes.
At least he had finally lost a few pounds. After the way his weight had been snowballing upward, it was hard enough just to stop gaining. Now finally losing even a little bit was an accomplishment. His last weigh-in with the team recorded him down to 284 after three weeks with Renate. It wasn’t that much, but it was better than nothing.
He felt like he was sticking to most of the plan. Although by the end of the day, a light dinner was so hard to adhere to; he could rarely resist bigger portions and second helpings when he was hungry. He was proud of himself for not loading up on fast food anymore, and he was making an effort to eat higher quality proteins and complex carbs. He was building some new muscle too, and his t-shirts weren’t clinging to his gut quite as tightly... so that was something to feel good about, if not much else.
It was well into October, and the crisp air invigorated Meadow; it was in her bones. When the temperatures dropped below freezing at night, she felt herself awaken inside like a bear coming out of hibernation. Her favorite day of the year wasn't her birthday, or Christmas, or any holiday in between; it was always when the air gets just cold enough to flood the Oval, transforming it into her favorite sheet of ice in the world. Indoor rinks felt artificial to her in the warmer months, but the Oval in winter made the blood rush to her every fiber.
Logan, on the other hand, was not feeling excited. His team was starting their opening season games without him, and the first match didn’t go well. Coach’s official media statement was that Logan’s red-shirt was related his nagging hip injury. But the real story of his weight problems were well-known to everyone on the team. His teammates, at least the older guys, were supportive and downplayed it; but a few of the younger guys were less friendly, feeling that he had let them down with his laziness and gluttony.
He tried to keep a low profile on campus. With only smaller, upper division classes remaining to satisfy his graduation requirements, he hoped to stay fairly anonymous. Maybe most Economics majors didn’t pay much attention to hockey? Or at least they wouldn’t remember who Logan Hansen even was… especially if he squeezed into the back row, relying on baseball hats and hoodies to blend in with all of the other chunky upperclassmen at UMN.
Coach Mike met with Logan the night before the first game to discuss his progress. “Renate tells me you’re really working hard, showing up on time, every morning, and putting in the effort,” he said. “So I can’t understand why you’re not even down ten pounds after more than a month at this.”
“I don’t know, but I feel lighter and stronger,” he started to explain. “I’m sure I’m building more muscle, and my clothes fit better.” Logan hated sounding like an excuse machine. He’d been saying things like this to appease coaches for years, but he didn’t know what made his metabolism work at a snail’s pace. It wasn’t like he was packing away piles of fatty foods and six packs of beer like he had over the summer. “I’m eating better, for sure.”
“You seem to be improving at practice too,” he agreed. “I know you hate the red shirt, but we all need the patience it offers. You just don’t cut weight fast like other guys, do you?”
Logan just shrugged and shook his head, agreeing with his coach.
“Don’t give up, son. You have gifts that some of your teammates don’t have: you’re shrewd, you have a strong mind and great instincts. You’re my grinder... but I need to know I can make room for you next year. Get a handle on your weight and you’ll have a terrific return next year,” Coach walked Logan out of the office patting him on the back, “Stay focused.”
But the focus was not going to be on competition, studying opponents, and getting ready for the weekend games... Damn... Game day... Logan loved game day. He could handle all the training and drudgery, the muscle pain and the ice baths... and even the constant pressure to keep his weight down. But missing the adrenaline rush of high stakes competition truly hurt the most.
Now on a very different rink, he was competing in exile with Meadow. Renate had finally got them both on the ice together for some short track skating drills. Quick off the mark, as he expected himself to be, he started much faster than Meadow. It’s what he was trained to do since he was a kid. But she picked up speed, and after a couple of laps, she caught up just behind him, turning their laps into a race with each other.
Logan may have been a strong skater, but he wasn’t used to the short track technique that Meadow was practicing to get lower and hone her racing balance, so Renate told them not to skate in tandem. “No drafting,” she yelled at Meadow. “Let your upper body lead,” she yelled at Logan, “I want to see some nice edge work out there.”
Meadow hated how damn good he was. Sure, she had witnessed him in competition and had seen for herself how easy he made it look, but she had also assumed he’d lost some speed when he piled on all that weight. He was still so good though, beating her blind off the mark.
Watching him ahead of her, beating her at her own game? It made her nuts. She began to really pour it on, pulling nearer, and getting her body lower. Coming closer into his turn, she took the entry a little wider, planning a pass inside... then, against her coach’s wishes, she started drafting him, which excited her to no end.
“Enough! Over here!” Renate screamed.
They stopped cold simultaneously, with their blades scalping the ice, and both skated contritely over to their angry trainer.
Renate turned to Logan first, “I know you miss competition, but you’re not here to race her. You have all that skill you want to show off, I can see that, but you also still have plenty of flab to shed,” she motioned across his body. Even though he knew Renate was just using the best English she could find, the cutting words made Logan feel like a complete whale all over again, especially in front of Meadow.
Meadow glanced at him and saw his cheeks pinken as Renate bluntly described his tubby body composition. She really wished she could avoid the erotic feelings that his chub stirred in her. She was supposed to be focused on competition preparation, instead of being distracted by filthy thoughts of his soft belly pressed against her, imagining him growing fatter rather than thinner. She felt her cheeks pinken too.
“And you,” she turned to scold Meadow. “You know better,” shaking her from another fat fantasy. “Enough with this chip on your shoulder. You are here for you alone, and not to prove something to him.”
Meadow was frustrated, and irritated by how well Renate could see her competitive indignation, but she nodded in deference anyway.
“I want you both to work on stride today. Not excessive speed, more mechanics; nice and fluid, good control, clean crossovers,” Renate reminded them. “Use more here,” she motioned across Meadow’s tight torso to illustrate her point, “Less here,” she pointed to Logan’s big, muscular thighs. The two nodded to each other in a truce, and finished the session as Renate instructed, from opposite sides of the rink.
Afterwards, when the two women were alone in the locker room, Renate asked Meadow, “What do you think of things so far? Should I get out the scale and get cruel with him?”
Meadow inhaled deeply, hearing those fantasy-laced words. Even though Renate didn’t mean to bring out her perversions, the visual in her mind of him stepping on a scale and watching the numbers skyrocket made her momentarily speechless. This whole fat thing had systematically wired itself from her brain to every pleasure center in her body.
“He’s not losing much yet,” Renate continued, oblivious to Meadow’s closeted feelings. “His coach is calling me wanting updates from our side, and I’m not sure what to say. He’s definitely working hard here, and he is probably down a bit, but after several weeks, I would have expected more weight loss too,” Renate seemed almost defeated. “Maybe I need to get him back on more cardio and hope he doesn’t eat it all back...”
“I think he’s definitely lost some weight,” Meadow jumped in with honesty, having observed the exact size, shape and jiggliness of his fatter parts very closely over the last few weeks. She had already felt an irresponsible level of disappointment in noticing his slight but clear reduction.
“Have you seen him skate? His footwork? He’s so gifted, I can’t see how he got so fat,” Renate admitted.
Meadow squirmed with fleeting thoughts of what kind of gluttonous forces caused his rapid expansion, but tried to stay focused on Renate’s train of thought. “He obviously has a tendency to be heavy, so it probably takes him longer than others to lose it,” she reasoned.
Renate raised her eyebrows, “I’m surprised to hear you defending him.”
“Defending him?” Meadow scowled, “Not really, he’s just a natural tubbo, is all,” she reverted back to more overt hostility where he was concerned. “Besides, why should that surprise you?”
“You clearly do not like him,” Renate scolded her, “You barely acknowledge his existence most of the time.”
“He’s just in the way,” she explained, which was true on more than one level. He’s in the way of my training, my focus AND control of my emotions, she admitted to herself, not bearing the thought that Renate would learn of Meadow’s furtive desire for Logan’s big, thick, fantastic body.
Renate nodded, “Well, he’s going to be in the way for a while, I think.”
Meadow nodded too, almost drained by the whole situation. “I don’t know about switching back to boring old cardio machines. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. I know it makes me hungry as hell; I can’t imagine what it does to his appetite.”
Renate nodded, “You are right, Meisje. I believe he’s mostly following the plan. His face looks less puffy and his skin is clearer and brighter,” Renate had said the same things to Meadow when she adjusted her own diet away from refined sugars and empty carbs.
Meadow just shrugged again, not wanting to admit anything about his damned charming features. She often avoided looking at his face altogether to not deal with her attraction. She could objectify his chunky physique all day long, but she didn’t want to fall for his good looks too.
“He is handsome though, yes?” Renate seemed to read her mind. “He’d make a nice date for you once he gets himself in shape,” she winked at Meadow.
Meadow made a sour face, but couldn’t help but feel a pang of discomfort over the whole idea. He was gorgeous, and she found his fatter body hot, but didn’t want him around. And as a thinner version of Logan emerged, that would only disappoint her libido. Not to mention that his head would probably get even bigger than his gut had ever been. There was no winning either way.
“See you Monday,” Renate handed Meadow another bag of muesli. Meadow softened, smiled and hugged her coach.
“Just you and me today,” Renate greeted Logan in the gym. “Meadow is not feeling well this morning.”
“I think she’d feel good enough to come in today if we were training on the ice and not in the gym,” Logan joked.
“I think we all feel that way,” Renate smiled in understanding. “Too bad the ice alone isn’t enough to make us be the best on it.”
“True enough,” Logan understood the off-ice work all too well.
“Meadow knows she doesn’t always get what she wants, but she keeps coming back. She is very dedicated to the work,” Renate defended her protégé.
He nodded in agreement, “I think she wants me gone from her training time though.”
Renate smiled knowingly, “She is a tough one.”
“Yeah,” he half-smiled back. “I can’t tell if it’s me she hates or that’s just who she is, but she’s not warm and fuzzy, that’s for sure.”
“It’s who she is,” she explained with a shrug. “All she knows is training for herself, and working only for herself. She’s never really had to be a team player like you have.”
Logan gave Renate a perplexed look. He still didn’t understand what Meadow’s problem was.
“Meadow’s world has always been filled with competition. She’s never known anything else. Her father was an Olympic athlete; he medaled in skiing. Her aunt medaled in speed skating and her mother was a serious gymnast in Nederland. Her life was surrounded by high achievement. She never had to share or sacrifice for anyone but herself. The team cooperation you take for granted? She doesn’t know how to think that way... it’s what makes her a great long-track skater. She’s terrible with sharing space in a short-track pack,” Renate laughed. “She does not hate you, Logan, she just does not have the same experiences you have had, and you hers either.”
Meadow was a lone wolf, clearly, but he had no idea that she had come from a family of elite athletes. It made sense that she strived for the kind of achievement that her parents had aspired to. Logan himself felt his athletic success was a huge gift from his parents, giving over their paychecks to uniforms, lessons, camps and clubs; and dedicating their nights and weekends to his practices and games. Sometimes he persevered for them as much as for himself. He was starting to piece Meadow’s psyche together now, which lessened the sting of her coldness, maybe a little.
“Anyway, this gives us a chance to talk about you now,” Renate changed the subject. “Do you feel you’re getting something from our time together?”
“Yeah,” Logan nodded confidently, “I’m getting in better shape, and healthier, for sure.”
“Your coach is still concerned about your progress,” Renate leveled with him. “He thinks you should be down more weight by now.”
“I...know... I...” Logan suddenly felt anxious, and defensively started to try to explain.
“Wait,” she saw the angst in his face and stopped him, “I think he’s being too impatient,” she continued. “I told him you’re working hard and making meaningful progress. Those hockey dummies would have you on a treadmill and starvation diet,” she blurted a little emotionally. “That’s why you gain more than you lose, because you don’t do it right. I don’t want to speak badly of your coaches, but for all those men know about being tough in sports, they know so little about caring for the human body correctly,” Renate’s Dutch accent became stronger as she became more passionate.
Logan listened intently, sort of surprised by her overt frustration. Yet a patient approach was buried in her words too. “You are on the right track, and that’s my report back to them. You just keep up the good work,” she nodded firmly, and patted him on the back.
“I’m still struggling with portion control,” he admitted to her, feeling like she was actually on his side, and he could trust her a little with his food issues.
“In life there’s struggle. We all have our struggles. Yours are food and fat. You just have to manage it,” she shrugged her shoulders. “That’s why I didn’t put you back on cardio, you’ll only eat more,” she seemed to completely understand his problem there. “Now, slideboard,” she pointed him in the direction of the equipment.
A few minutes into their work, Renate broke his concentration, “You know, I was unsure about your progress at first too, but Meadow was the one who defended you.”
“What?” Logan stopped and stood upright. How was that possible? The ice queen?
“She reminded me that not all of us are built the same,” pointing to his plump belly. “So she’s not completely without a heart,” she reasoned. “She also agreed that going back to the cardio machines would crush your soul.”
He was a bit stunned and a little uncomfortable by this revelation. He didn’t like the idea of being discussed by them like he was an experiment, even if he should have been used to it by now. Yet at the same time, he felt almost relieved that despite Meadow’s unfriendliness, somehow she’d found some empathy for the battle he’d always fought against: his own body.
Part Four: Slow Thaw
“Renate had to fly home to Amsterdam last night,” Meadow was solemn, informing Logan of the emergency.
“What’s going on?” Logan asked her with concern.
“Her father’s been ill, it sounds serious,” she told him.
“Oh, wow,” he felt horrible for Renate.
“She’s staying with my Tante,” she explained further, realizing after she said it that she was sharing more than she needed to… but she felt too badly for her coach to make a concerted effort at being a hard-ass with him right now.
“Your... Tante?” Logan was confused.
“Oh,” she half-smiled, remembering that Logan was a lot farther removed from his ancestral languages than she was, “I mean my Aunt.”
“The one with the Olympic medals?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Meadow looked at him puzzled, “How did you know?”
“Renate told me a little about your family,” he admitted, almost gobsmacked over the number of civilized words now exchanging between them.
Meadow nodded and looked away, withdrawing herself from his eyes. She felt the instinct to stop him from knowing her any more as a person than he did right now. Just get down to business, she told herself.
“Renate wants us to do the usual today,” she pointed toward the plyo area, pulling her head back to the training.
“Okay,” he agreed half-heartedly, still feeling bad for Renate. He had already come to rely on her tough but caring presence in his life.
“She asked me to work with you while she’s away,” Meadow clarified, staying cool while feeling the awkwardness of being without Renate’s neutralizing authority.
“Okay...” he repeated with a cautious nod, feeling confused by her emphasis on the arrangement. What the hell is she talking about? Of course Renate would have us continue this arrangement; it’s not like there’s any other option at this point...
“I am a certified athletic trainer and I have a degree in Kinesiology, so I’m qualified to help you,” she sputtered out, completely annoyed that he acted like she wasn’t competent to guide his training in Renate’s absence. Typical chauvinist jock.
“Well, thank you for sharing some information about yourself,” he responded with his own sarcastic annoyance. Like I’m supposed to read her mind, or have googled her resume, or something? He wasn’t so sure he loved the idea of working with her alone. It would definitely be harder to concentrate without Renate there to keep him centered. Whatever, I’ll make do.
Meadow turned away from him without response, marched over to the reformer, and adjusted the springs for his high strength level. “Let’s start with upper body,” she tried to channel Renate’s direct and assertive coaching style.
“Do you get the day off now, Princess?” He smirked, feeling daring now that Renate wasn’t around to play peacemaker.
“I’ll see how you do first, and then show you how it’s actually done,” she challenged him back without batting an eye. Princess, my ass, you big jerk.
He rolled his eyes, but followed her lead anyway, watching her from behind. She is so full of herself… but oh man, that body.
Meadow had him go through the exercises that Renate had already been working with him on, reminding him to breathe through the movements while focusing on form and fluidity. She was relieved he was doing all the moves properly now, as she didn’t want to have to put her hands on him to correct his position. He might figure out how much she wanted his body, just by her touch. A slip of my fingers into that quivering pudge and it will be obvious all over my face. Just keep taking through it, Meadow… keep your hands wrapped neatly behind your back.
“Pilates is really going to balance you out,” she went on, sticking with her verbal coaching strategy. “You’ve built so much specific muscle for hockey, but I think you’ll find this gives you more agility where the usual targeted muscle training misses.”
She’s actually being kind of pleasant all of a sudden, Logan thought, this is really weird. For weeks he barely knew what her voice sounded like. She had only spoken a few words at all while in his presence. Now he was getting an earful. She actually had a warm, smooth and comforting voice, with no distinct accent.
“Did you grow up here?” Logan asked her in between reps, to break up the silence.
“We moved up north when I was ten,” Meadow answered. “Before that, Denver.”
“Denver was a little too good to me last summer,” he smiled nervously. Why did I say that out loud? He lightly patted his belly to play it off like it was no big deal to him.
Meadow felt herself getting pink. Why does he have to do that? Make a joke about his weight, but look so adorably embarrassed while doing it? Ugh, so hot...
“Why do you ask?” she ignored his comment, going back to the last point in the conversation to keep herself from thinking about the way his middle bulged out as he contracted his body through the movements.
“You don’t really sound like you’re from Minnesota,” he explained, now relieved she didn’t say anything in response to his dumb joke.
“I grew up hearing a lot of Dutch and Italian mixed with English, so maybe that’s why my accent is not specific, or whatever,” she told him.
“Are you fluent in them?” He asked.
“In English, yes,” she couldn’t help but make fun of his question.
He gave her a wry smile, “Your parents’ languages?”
“My Italian is halfway decent, from my Dad. My mother was better at English, so she didn’t speak as much Dutch to me... I can still understand a few words, like when Renate switches over... but my father has a ton of Italian pride, so that nested deeper in my brain.”
“That’s interesting,” Logan smiled. “Pretty cool.”
She shrugged, feeling weird again about babbling on about herself with him. “What about you?” She asked him so she could turn the topic away from herself.
“Minnesota, born and raised, all my life,” he grunted through the hamstring move. “Edina,” he clarified.
“Edina... well now,” she raised her eyebrows and dramatically crossed her arms in front of her. She couldn’t help but tease him about his wealthy suburban hometown, “I’m in the presence of royalty.”
He smirked, “Not my family. My parents bought their house a long time ago, before I was even born... before all the McMansions sprouted up everywhere.”
She was relieved he wasn’t filthy rich too. His good looks and athletic talents were already more than enough gifts for one human being to have. “You grew up in the right place to be a hockey star anyway,” she told him. Edina was notoriously brimming with top hockey talent in addition to being a rich kid’s town.
“I’m just relieved you didn’t make a cake eater joke,” he laughed nervously, kind of expecting it from her. Almost everybody gave him crap about his wealthy hometown.
“What?” Meadow was confused. Why would I bring up his appetite?
“You’ve never heard that? They call people from Edina ‘the cake eaters,’” he explained, but she still looked confused. “Did you ever see The Mighty Ducks? You know, rich kids have their cake and eat it too?”
“Oh,” Meadow felt her face getting warm. The term ‘cake eater’ had taken on a completely different visual in her mind.
“I ended up on the wrong end of that joke a few times,” he breathed out hard through the next move, nearly reading her thoughts.
Now Meadow could feel her face really turning red, desperately trying not to scan his chubbiness again.
Logan only saw more confusion on her face and explained further, “I was usually the only fat kid on the A team. Everyone already hated Edina, so the opposing teams and their fans usually took the cake eater jokes out on me.” He felt his face getting warmer now. Why am I admitting this to her, of all people?
“Well, I guess you showed them,” Meadow shrugged, wanting him to stop talking about both cake eating and fat right now, or she might say something incredibly stupid about his hot chubby body and her appreciation of it. “I mean, how many of them are playing elite now?”
Logan shrugged too; she was actually kind of right. All the shit he took for being fat didn’t stop him from achieving an awful lot more than any of those assholes. Just thinking about it now made him push his body even harder.
“Breathe,” she reminded him, hoping she wasn’t letting her guard down too much. She couldn’t let him think she was too open to his friendliness. Once that happened, he might want to ask her out, then hold her hand, touch her, kiss her... and she may not be able to resist. Damn him... big cake eater.
“The Oval opens tomorrow,” she changed the subject completely, trying to beat back the thoughts that gave her body chills. She needed to regroup from these momentary lapses in judgement. That’s what getting back out on the long track would give her: focus on the work and not his body.
The obvious happiness on her face and in her voice when skating at the Oval came up, once again, amazed Logan. She was so indifferent and cool most of the time, that these glimpses of humanity were still a little surprising. “I didn’t think they had early morning hours.”
“Eric will get us in,” she informed him, alluding to the special status her connections had at the Oval that didn’t include hockey players. “They know us there.”
When Logan arrived at the Oval, Meadow was already laced up and chatting with a few guys who also had speed skates on. He was oddly jealous, watching her socialize effortlessly with them, while she had been so unfriendly to him for so long.
Meadow knew Eric and his speed skating buddies ever since she was a teenager, when she began to work with Renate. Renate herself was well-known in local speed-skating circles for her Olympic accomplishments as well as training successes, and had a business relationship with the Oval. She had done some promotional work with the facility and in return, she had pretty much an all-access pass to the place, which by association bestowed some special treatment for Meadow.
Eric was one of those guys who always flirted with Meadow, and was always looking for more. She wanted to be friends with him, as he was a gatekeeper for ice time, but it wasn’t easy to dance around the reality that he clearly wanted her and she definitely did not want him. He was okay looking, but boring... and way too pushy about what he wanted.
She saw Logan lacing up and walked over to him, “Ready to go?”
“Let’s pretend Renate is here, and spend a few laps on form and technique, not racing,” she joked.
“Sure,” he agreed with a smile, relieved she seemed like she was in a good mood.
“And try not to chop up the ice in those,” she pointed to his skates. “They can’t have the Zamboni follow behind you the whole time.”
He smiled wider and shook his head, “Blade means so little when you have all this,” he pointed to his brawny legs, grinning mischievously, but Meadow couldn’t help but think of the rest of his big, plush and powerful body.
“Just warm up, nice and easy,” Meadow directed him, as they jumped onto the ice. She definitely seemed a little more pleasant on skating days, he noticed.
“Sure thing, coach,” he teased, following her lead. They did some warm up laps, and then some timed laps, running intervals between speed and recovery. She really admired his gate on skates. He was totally in control of the ice, the way he used his edges. Part of her wanted to tell him that, but it seemed like a dumb thing to say to a guy who played elite hockey and already knew he was that good.
After a bio break, Eric cornered Meadow alone, “What’s up with Lardass Hansen?”
“Logan,” she corrected him with a scowl, feeling oddly protective. Only I can call him fat names in my head. “He’s training with Renate.”
“Got too fat for the team, I hear,” he sneered with a big, dumb grin on his face.
Meadow became more uncomfortable. Apparently Eric knew who Logan was, and why he was not playing hockey with the Gophers this year, but she didn’t like him making a joke about it. Her instincts told her he was using Logan’s weight to make himself seem better in comparison, and she disliked him even more for it. “Why should he matter to you?” she challenged him.
“He doesn’t matter to me at all,” Eric shrugged it off, his smile fading, backing down from Meadow’s assertiveness.
Before she could say something that might damage her connections at the Oval, she turned from him and jumped back on the ice. She was angry that she had to defend Logan, angry with herself for feeling protective of him, and angry that Renate wasn’t there to shield her from Eric’s boorish behavior. God, he’s such a tool, she shook her head.
Logan came up beside her on a turn. “Everything okay back there?” He saw the irate look on her face, and had seen that enough to know when she wasn’t amused.
“Eric is such a huge douche,” she blurted and slowed down, not having gotten control of her emotions yet.
“He knows who I am,” Logan quickly turned on his blades to glide backwards, facing her.
“What do you mean?” Meadow straightened up and asked, now confused. Logan hadn’t been within earshot of that shitty conversation she’d just had with Eric.
“While you were on the other side of the track, he made sure to remind my why I’m red-shirted,” Logan glanced across where Eric was standing with his arms folded, watching Meadow intently.
He acted like he hadn’t heard Eric’s cutting insults, but with the loud way Eric joked with his buddies as he skated past them, how could he miss words like ‘fat load’ and ‘team failure’ as they were so obviously meant for him to hear?
“Ugh, he’s such a loser, don’t even think about it,” she told him, disgusted. “You’re a successful NCAA athlete and he’s a washed-up nobody,” her anger reignited. “He never even got past time trials,” she scoffed.
He couldn’t help but feel flattered by what she said about his success. It made the sting of Eric’s words almost disappear. But he knew why Eric said those things... he could see the guy’s interest in Meadow right away, as soon as he arrived at the Oval. “I don’t think he really cares about me, but he’s obviously territorial about you,” Logan laughed. “He clearly wants you in a big way.”
“Gross,” she snarled her lip. “The only thing worse than the average douche is a wannabe ice rink manager douche.”
Logan was heartened by her annoyance over Eric’s grade school insults. He figured she probably didn’t completely hate him if she was willing to defend him a little bit.
“Can I ask you something?” He asked her, looking for some validation for all the misery and humiliation he had endured since his weight got completely out his control. “I’m down 25 pounds since summer, and half way back to my playing weight last season... do I really still look... that... big?” He couldn’t bring himself to repeat the specific words Eric had hurled in his direction earlier though.
Meadow was taken aback, not expecting this kind of honest self-doubt from him. His eyes looked sincere and sweet, maybe even a bit anxious. He was vulnerable just like any other human being. She had been kind of wrong about him... maybe he wasn’t the stereotypical overconfident hockey jock she had pegged him to be.
“You look... leaner, for sure,” she grasped for the right words. How could she tell him how hot he looked before, with the 25 additional blubbery pounds now lost? “You’re not even that big,” she blurted. “In a couple of months you’ll be about done with all of this and your coaches will wish they could put you back on the ice to salvage their miserable season.”
“Thanks,” Logan felt better, hearing someone tough like Meadow give her opinion. She obviously wasn’t easily won over by anyone or anything. But he didn’t exactly want to be done with all of this either. He was actually starting to not hate being around her. She pushed him to be better, and still made him feel like he could be a successful athlete again, and not a hopeless failure, doomed by his uncontrollable appetite and endomorphic body type.
That night, Meadow checked in with Renate, who was still in the Netherlands, spending her days and nights by her father’s bedside. She broke it to Meadow that she would be staying overseas into the holidays, leaving Meadow to work with Logan one-on-one for a little while longer.
“I’m sorry I won’t be there for your time trials, Meisje” Renate commiserated with Meadow.
“No, don’t even think about that,” Meadow told her, feeling badly for what her coach was going through with her family.
“You’re going to do great. Just remember what I taught you about pacing and visualization; be progressive, you’re fantastic at working the clock.”
“You’ve taught me well. I’ll be hearing your words in my head the whole time,” she reassured Renate.
“You are my best student,” she told Meadow with an obvious smile in her voice. “Speaking of my students, how is Logan doing?” Renate queried, “Losing anymore?”
“I guess so,” Meadow shared, trying to sound upbeat to mask her disappointment. “He told me today that he’s now down 25 pounds.”
“Wow, you are doing quite a job with him,” Renate sounded pleased.
“You set the wheels in motion,” Meadow sighed, “He needed a different approach, I guess.”
“I think you are a good influence in his life too,” Renate shared.
“What do you mean?” Meadow was confused. What influence do I have over him?
“I think he wants to do well for you,” her coach explained.
“I think he’s more motivated to get back on his team,” Meadow scoffed at the absurdity of Renate’s idea. He couldn’t possibly like her after the cold attitude she had given him for all those weeks. Maybe they had shared a few conversations recently, but they were hardly best buddies.
“I’m sure he is,” Renate agreed, “But I also think he’s trying very hard to show you he’s worthy.”
“Whatever, Renate,” Meadow played it off with her words, but felt her cheeks heat up. What if he actually liked me? Like, really liked me? Her stomach felt knotted. Not possible, we have nothing in common. He probably goes for those easy puck bunny groupies. I’d be way too much work for him. He wouldn’t waste his time thinking about me that way, much less trying.
“I think you two are good for each other,” Renate pushed the issue. “You know, you could learn from him on starts; he’s obviously worked for years on explosiveness, maybe he knows some drills for you to try?”
“Renate,” she laughed, “come on, that’s why I have you.”
“The best learn from more than one coach, Meadow. The more experience you absorb from different disciplines, the more of an edge you will have,” Renate explained. “Think of the foundation figure skating gave you...”
“Fine, we’ll see if he knows any more than I do already...” Meadow grudgingly conceded.
“He’s very smart. His coach tells me he’s on track to graduate with honors,” Renate continued to sell Logan’s merits.
Meadow was a little surprised at Renate’s seeming attempt at matchmaking, but pretty impressed with his academic status as well. It wasn’t easy to juggle high-pressure sports commitments with academic demands.
“So he’s not a dumb jock,” she played down her reaction. “That doesn’t mean I suddenly like him.” She hated admitting even to herself that she already liked him a lot.
“You are a tough one, aren’t you? Just like your Tante,” Renate laughed.
“You and Johanna always put the work first. That’s why you both have medals,” Meadow reminded her.
“Oh, I don’t want you distracted, Meisje, don’t misunderstand me. But if you can find a friend in your life that helps you achieve your goals... someone who understands and supports your drive to compete, that’s not a bad thing,” Renate explained.
Meadow sat silently for a few seconds, absorbing Renate’s advice. It was bizarre to hear her be, sort of… sentimental?
“Meadow, did I lose you?” Renate pulled Meadow back to the conversation.
“Yeah, bad connection, I better let you go,” Meadow didn’t want to talk anymore about Logan as a dating prospect with Renate. It was getting too weird.
After spending another few mornings at the gym, Logan and Meadow went back to the Oval to work on speed drills. She was especially relieved that Eric wasn’t around that day to spoil her good mood.
She started the session with all good intentions to do some practical form and endurance training, but she couldn’t help but get sucked into another race with Logan. Sprinting down the track, Meadow was catching up. Logan would always be stronger and quicker off the mark. He had explosion, she had to concede that. His leg muscles dwarfed hers. But she was going to challenge him with her distance speed, knowing just exactly how to catch up with pacing and highly efficient crossover turns.
She could feel her adrenaline surge as she quickened her stride and closed in to pass. But then, just as fast as she had begun the move inside, she hit a divot in the ice and landed hard. Logan stopped fast, his blades cutting into the ice and, spraying it across the track.
“Meadow!” He quickly skated back to her, truly scared over how rough of a fall it was.
“Yeah...” her slide finally ended as she looked up at him, stunned by the fall.
“God, are you okay?” He gasped in fear.
Dazed, she took a deep breath, and felt her body. Her butt and hip were throbbing, but fortunately her head hadn’t hit the ice, and her back seemed intact. “Yeah,” she gasped again.
It felt just like old times, landing hard on the ice after a jump or a spin. One of the many things she loved about speed skating over figure skating was that usually she spent most of the time upright rather than on her ass. But a fall at high speed was never enjoyable and could be a lot riskier.
Logan scanned quickly over her body for any major damage, but thankfully she was still in one piece. “You’re going to have a big bruise from that,” he shook his head.
“Another in a long line of many,” she half-smiled, starting to get back up.
He bent down to pick her up himself.
“No, I’m fine, I just need to sit for a minute,” she tried to wave him off, but he had already reached under her waist and quickly pulled her up.
Having helped teammates off the ice a few times, Meadow was like a feather in comparison. “You don’t want to make it worse...” he scolded her. She’s something, he thought. Tough and stubborn as hell. He wanted so badly to beat both her and her ego that he forgot that she was a woman, and half his size... and she’s beautiful, he looked into her eyes.
“Landing on my ass is one thing, but Renate will be furious if I mess up my knees screwing around like that,” she shook her head, relenting. “She’ll have us both strung up.”
Logan nodded with an understanding smile, and glided effortlessly off the ice with her in his arms. He set her down on a bench and helped her get her clap skates off. “You need to get some ice on that,” he turned the training dynamic around.
“I’m aware,” Meadow muttered.
Logan learned a long time ago to keep a stash of instant cold packs on hand for all the hard hits and falls he’d taken over the years. He grabbed one from his gym bag, broke the pack open and gently set it across her hip and butt.
“I can hold it for you,” he winked in mock flirtation, his hand grazing her flawless glutes. A warm feeling came over him from the fleeting touch of her body. She was flushed and still a bit stunned, and he couldn’t help but spend another long moment gazing into her eyes again.
She grabbed the ice and shooed him away, “I got this,” smirking. He’s a little too damn cute when he flirts, she thought. Her eyes passed over his body, observing the way his belly roll still formed in his lap, even though he had lost some of his sexiest fat. “You should go get yourself some recovery aminos while I ice this,” she wanted to give him something to do to keep her from gazing back into his eyes.
“Recovery aminos?” He tilted his head in confusion. Renate was totally against the unnatural, chemical contents in packaged sports products. And he knew that cheap, lab-made supplements would never fly with Meadow either.
“Muesli and a banana, you goof,” she laughed. If felt almost natural to talk to him like a friend now, which made her feel anxious at the same time.
“You were about to get ahead of me out there,” he acknowledged, only half-surprised at how good her long game was.
“Makes sense,” she shrugged her shoulders with a wry grin.
He glared at her skeptically.
“I’m built for the long track and you’re not,” she shared without hesitation.
“Wow, thanks,” Logan was a little offended anyway.
“I don’t mean your weight,” she explained with some impatience. “I mean you’re pretty tall with really broad shoulders; and you carry beaucoup muscle in your upper body.” She motioned her hands over her shoulders to illustrate. “That’s a good recipe for a hockey defenseman... and for attracting women...” she smirked. “But not as ideal for the low and compact center of gravity you need when maintaining speed for longer distances.”
“Attracting women?” he smiled again flirtatiously, trying to use a little humor to cover the jump in his heart in hearing her indirectly complimenting his body, rather than berating his heaviness.
“That’s all you heard, isn’t it? You are hopeless,” she punched him lightly on the arm. “I’m sure you’ve gotten your share of ice tarts hanging out at the hockey frat.”
“A bro’s gotta do what a bro’s gotta do,” he teased back. She didn’t need to know that he hadn’t exactly been getting a lot of action these days, nor had there been much opportunity now that he was on lockdown from everything social for being a big, fat screw-up.
Meadow shook her head, smiling, but it made her wonder. Is he a big player, or is it all show? She didn’t really want to think about him with other girls. He’s so not my type, damn it, why do I even care?
With a few weeks now into the season, and not a peep from the media questioning his status, Logan thought he had dodged a bullet. He thought wrong. He woke early on the Saturday morning before Thanksgiving to multiple texts from his coaches and teammates.
Don’t pay attention to any of it, stay focused
Already yesterday’s news
We have your back
He checked the hockey blogs and quickly found out why. “Redshirted UMN Defenseman Hansen Reported Overweight.” Damn it, they found out. His neck felt hot and his heart pounded, I should not read any more of this. But he couldn’t help himself.
“Insiders say Hansen showed up at camp pushing close to 300 pounds... “
It was awful. He hated seeing it in print, and he hated the whole world thought of him in terms of that number: 300. He was supposed to be thick-skinned and not take it personally. It still hurt though. It hurt him as an athlete, sure, but also as a man.
He felt even more nauseous when he thought about Abbey seeing the story; she would be disgusted… and Emily, who would probably be gloating over it, the way that ended. Then Meadow popped into his head. This will definitely reinforce to her what a disappointment I’ve become.
As if all that weren’t bad enough, he knew this story was now going to dog him past college. Every negative thing published online would be out there forever, and become another roadblock to the next level. What pro team would sign a player who couldn’t control his weight? It was a huge liability for his future prospects.
He was an idiot for thinking his hard work was going to be the answer to everything. With nearly 30 pounds lost, he had started to feel like he was beginning to get some respect back from his coaches and teammates. Everyone that mattered seemed to be moving on with the redshirt plan. But that didn’t get reported… just the part about the fat, lazy, gluttonous slob of a hockey player who couldn’t control himself enough to be in the best possible shape for his team.
“You saw the news?” Logan asked Meadow the following Monday. He wasn’t quite sure why he brought it up with her, of all people, but he couldn’t help it. It had been clouding his thoughts for the last couple of days and he needed to know how widespread it went.
She was almost relieved he said something so she wouldn’t have to pretend today was different from any other day. Of course she had seen it. Coach Mike contacted Renate, and then she alerted Meadow. “Be gentle with him tomorrow,” Renate had advised Meadow.
“Short news cycle, don’t worry about it,” she tried to make him feel better. It seemed like a pretty rough thing to go through, even for someone she didn’t want to like, but was starting to like anyway.
“Easy for you to say, you’re not the butt of the fat jokes,” he was a little annoyed that she trivialized it, but also kind of heartened by her attempt to make him feel better.
“It doesn’t matter now anyway, you’ve lost a lot already,” Meadow shared her observations. Deep down she hadn’t loved it, but he seemed to be picking up steam in his attempt to get lighter.
“I was never 300, for the record,” he was very insecure about that not-so-little detail. A couple of more weeks in Colorado, left to his own devices, and he could have probably gone over 300, but he didn’t want her to know that.
“They exaggerate all the time. It’s just click bait for the bloggers,” she told him. She didn’t dare say that she thought 300 sounded incredibly sexy... or that she thought 300 wasn’t even that big... or that 300 was more like a nice start for a strong and beefy guy like him. But no, she couldn’t ever say something so heretical to a fellow athlete.
“As if the bloggers weren’t bad enough, the commenters are brutal,” he regretted being dumb enough to look at the story comments in a vain attempt to confront the whole thing head on.
“Didn’t anyone ever teach you not to read internet comments? It’s like, the first rule of collegiate athletics,” Meadow scoffed.
“I thought the first rule in the NCAA was don’t get paid,” he reminded her with a smile. At least he had someone to talk to about this who wasn’t emotionally invested in his playing status, like his coaches, parents or teammates.
“You can get paid for college athletics,” she joked. “You just have to be one of those rich old assholes who makes money off some poor kid’s name and likeness.”
“Indeed,” he shook his head with a wry smile. Everyone he knew hated seeing their hard work, not to mention a lifelong injury risk, line someone else’s pockets.
“Could be worse… you could be a female athlete and have little hope or prayer to ever make a buck off your own name or likeness,” she tried to take his burden off with a little self-pity of her own.
“I want to feel sorry for you, but I’m the humiliated one right now,” Logan reminded her. He also realized, though, that he was half-smiling and joking around with her, so maybe he was going to get through this with some sense of dignity left in him.
“Maybe you wanna go take it out on the heavy bag? Turn it into something positive?” Meadow suggested, trying to keep him thinking about his goals to cheer him up.
“I think I’d rather eat an entire extra-large meat lover’s pizza instead.” He surprised himself in the way he admitted out loud to Meadow that he had hungry-demon food issues.
Why did he have to say something so horribly exciting? With those beautiful aqua eyes looking into her own? And that boyishly handsome face? She had been trying so hard to keep her brain set on his logical pathway to success, through productive training and healthy eating. But flashes of him devouring a huge meal and getting fatter than his fattest made her feel lightheaded. Why do I have to be such a freak?
“So what’s up for the schedule the rest of the week?” he mercifully changed the subject. “With Thanksgiving...”
“Yeah, I meant to talk to you about that,” Meadow remembered. “I’m heading up to see my parents.”
“That’s a long drive, right?” he asked.
“It’s about four hours up north,” she shrugged. “But I did the round trip all the time in high school, so I got used to it.”
“Wow, I mean, we traveled for games, but most of the time they were down around here.”
She nodded. “Yeah, it is a haul, so I’d like to drive up tomorrow afternoon. We can still meet tomorrow morning and then I’ll see you next week Monday, back here?”
Logan smiled, and nodded. He couldn’t believe it, but he was going to kind of miss her; and maybe even the gym workouts.
“I’m not going to insult you by reminding you to stick to Renate’s plan,” she smiled and winked.
“What? Turkey is loaded with protein,” he jokingly defended a big Thanksgiving feast. “Besides, my mom already has a whole healthy spread planned.”
“You can have a little stuffing and mashed potatoes one day of the year, right?” She found herself encouraging him to break his diet, and then immediately kicked herself for saying it.
“It’s my mom’s Swedish apple pie I’ll really miss,” he shrugged, unfazed. “She’s not making it this year to help me stay on track... I’m completely bummed about that.”
“Come on, you can’t have just one piece?” Meadow was precariously flirting with her deep, dark desires.
He just smiled, “Naw, she knows I’ll eat the whole thing. I can’t ever just eat one piece, it’s that good,” he flashed a guilty grin. He realized how much he was letting his guard down with her, and it felt surprisingly okay.
Feeding him a whole pie... she thought, hating herself for how viscerally that thought reached into her erogenous zones. What kind of professional athletic trainer would feed her chubby client a whole pie?
“I’ve got time trials down in Milwaukee this weekend,” Meadow told Logan at their first session after the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Time trials,” he nodded and grinned in understanding and encouragement.
“I’m trying to qualify for nationals in February... Renate says I’m ready,” she kept a serious look on her face. “So I’ll be tapering this week.”
“So I’m left to do all the work then?” his grin turned playful.
“Exactly,” she allowed a smile creep over her face too. “Well, I’ll try to be mostly with you on it today, but then I’ll slow down and it will be all about you the rest of the week.”
Meadow did feel she needed one last intense session, considering the days they had been away from training because of the Thanksgiving break. She had still been pretty active up north though, skiing with her dad and snowshoeing some hills with her mom. Her parents both thoroughly quizzed her about her training and regimen. They would get into the crazy details of her life if it had to do with competition, but they never bothered her at all about her career or dating prospects. They just understood her focus, and that was actually kind of cool.
As promised, she joined Logan in a long, tough workout session. Lying on the floor afterwards and stretching her quads, she looked over at him. He was sweating bullets, his chest heaving, and his little belly slightly jiggling from the movement of his lungs. Ugh, why does he have to still have some of that delicious fat? If he would just lose it all, and be the arrogant jock he’s supposed to be, I could stop thinking dirty thoughts...
“Oof,” Logan grunted, sitting up. Every square inch of his body ached. He was used to hard work, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a little bit uncomfortable each time. And apparently there were muscles deep in his body that he had missed working over the break, as they were now screaming out with a vengeance.
“Don’t you just love it though?” she asked him, feeling pleasantly exhausted yet invigorated.
Logan breathed out heavily, “Love what?”
“The way the sweat feels when it drips off your body, it’s orgasmic,” Meadow blurted, lost in the post-exercise high. She had always fed off the endorphins, and felt a certain sensual pleasure come along with the pain.
He didn’t know what to say... he hadn’t expected something that sounded so suggestive to come out of her mouth. She had been so hard to know, it was unexpected to say the least.
She saw the astonishment in his face and felt a little stupid for having phrased it like that. She didn’t mean to get sexual about it. Poor word choice, Meadow, way to make him uncomfortable. They locked eyes for only a moment before she quickly pulled hers away from his and stood up.
“I never liked the pain side of exercise,” he broke the tension. “It’s just a means to an end.”
“You don’t seem to shy away from inflicting some pain on the ice,” she remembered those Gopher games where she witnessed his aggressive methods that must have given him some discomfort. “You kind of push the rules with your physical style.”
“How would you know? You’ve never seen me play,” he was confused.
“I have seen you play,” she admitted, crossing her arms, “I’ve been to a few Gopher games.”
“You remember me? Weren’t we just a swarm of hockey douches to you?” He laughed.
“Nah, I remember you,” she blushed a little. “The crowd loves an enforcer.”
“Enforcer?” he scoffed, “Just because I’m a bigger player doesn’t mean I’m a goon. I like to intimidate, sure, but I’ve never been ejected or suspended... Yeah, okay, I’ve gotten a few majors...” He rambled a little before realizing he was talking to Meadow, and not a coach or scout. “Besides, what do you know about hockey?” a smile now spread across his face.
“My dad is pretty into it... he’s dragged me to some games over the years,” she admitted, sitting down on the bench next to him.
He shook his head, “I would have never guessed it.”
“I saw you when I’d practice at the Mariucci too... with your buddy that never got the hint to leave me alone,” she laughed, reminding him of Josh’s asinine behavior.
Logan now felt uneasy, stunned that she had, in fact, remembered him the same way he had remembered her. “I told Josh to leave you alone, but he was never the brightest guy.”
She smiled and looked down, “I was kind of a bitch, I know, but...”
“No, I get it, you have guys hitting on you all the time, I’m sure. It must get really annoying,” Logan felt stupid right after the words came out. He didn’t really want to imply he was telling her she was beautiful, even though she was... and he didn’t want to sound like he was attracted to her too, even though he was.
She shrugged and blushed, feeling uneasy about Logan’s implied compliment, “Kind of.”
They looked at each other for another moment, both clearly feeling a little awkward by the mutually uncomfortable topic.
Glancing away toward the clock, Meadow saw how late it was and jumped up, “I have to get to work.”
He nodded and heaved himself up, “I’m off to class... Are you going to check out the lights tonight?” He asked her, referring to the annual UMN winter light show. One of his teammates in the engineering program had been dragging him to it every year since they were freshmen.
“No, early to bed tonight. Renate will kill me if I don’t follow her strict pre-time trial game plan,” she explained, hoping he wasn’t potentially asking to see her there, which oddly made her feel tempted to go.
“My pre-game plan is always...” he changed the subject, enumerating on his fingers, “drink a smoothie, tape my stick, get dressed, do warm ups, throw up, and then it’s game time.”
“Throw up?” She made a sour face.
“Usually, yeah, I play best when I do,” he laughed and shrugged. “It totally kills the nerves.”
“Maybe it’s just something in the smoothie that’s making you throw up,” she raised a confused eyebrow.
“I don’t know, but it works. When the music cranks up in the arena and I hit the ice, I feel totally ready to take on any guy who wants to try and get in front of me,” he shrugged. Logan himself had always marveled at the alarmingly high level of confidence he felt at the start of games. It was a self-assured swagger that he rarely experienced during any of the rest of his waking hours.
“I’d get accused of bulimia if I drank a smoothie and vomited it up in the locker room bathrooms before every race,” she laughed.
“Well that’s just sad. You should really standup for a woman’s right to performance-anxiety barfing,” he joked.
“Gross,” she giggled anyway.
“So tomorrow...” he started to say.
“Yeah, meet me at my other gym tomorrow morning, I’ll get you a pass,” she offered, remembering she wanted to change things up for Logan this week, as long as she was tapering.
“Your other gym?” Dang, she’s such a jock.
“Where I work as a trainer,” she clarified. He doesn’t really know much about me, does he? She realized that she hadn’t given him much of a chance, either. “I want you to try out the TRX there, to see if you like it.”
She gave him the address, he nodded in agreement, and then he watched her quickly leave from behind. Her strong little figure was really beginning to make him crazy, along with her expressive big eyes and improving personality. He let a deep breath of air escape his lungs in a hard sigh. I’ve got to stop thinking of her like that...
“Nice place,” Logan looked around the fitness center Meadow worked at. It wasn’t anything like the old sweaty and worn gyms and he was used to. This facility was loaded with shiny mahogany floors, granite countertops and polished nickel accents everywhere. Everyone they passed was toned, groomed and good looking. She fits right in here, he thought to himself, feeling dumpy in his old, worn-out gym clothes.
She rolled her eyes and nodded, lowering her voice, “It’s all a big show.”
“What do you mean?” Logan asked her.
“Do you think anyone builds more muscle or burns more calories because the towels are fluffier or the steam room has special aromatic oils pumped into your lungs?” She smirked.
He smiled and relaxed, relieved she was down to earth about it.
“But, you do get awesomely talented professional trainers here,” she joked, pointing her thumb to herself with a wink. “And, a brand new TRX set. Check this out,” she led him into the room.
“We have just one of these in our gym,” Logan grabbed a suspension strap dangling from the ceiling, “But not filling a whole room like this.”
“Do you like it?” Meadow asked him.
“I never used it much,” he admitted. “My coaches always sent me to the cardio machines after weights and the usual dryland work.”
She felt badly for him, with all the focus on his weight. If he’s good enough to play for an NCAA team and help them win, what did a few extra pounds matter?
She had to acknowledge to herself though, that if he had been anywhere close to 300 pounds, that was way too heavy to play as fast as he needed to… but it seemed like his coaches had always elevated the number on the scale to even more importance than his actual ability and game performance. A few weeks of doing things ‘the Renate way’ seemed to be doing more for him than anything the team ever dreamed up. Typical hockey fools, she thought, but kept it to herself.
“This technique is awesome for the strengthening the internal obliques… helps with shifting direction even faster,” she showed him how to turn with it for the most power and stability, and then handed him a strap. As he raised his arm to rotate and extend his body, his shirt rose up a bit and she noticed a bit of his tummy, hanging onto his torso for dear life. That little roll didn’t want to go anywhere, but it seemed his determination would probably make it all go away along with the rest of the sexiest, jiggliest fat that had already disappeared.
“Speaking of strengthening, how are your practices going these days?” She asked him while she demonstrated how to lean through a back extension, “Do you feel like what you’re doing in the mornings is helping your game?”
“Good, yeah” he answered with a half-smile, following her moves and breathing out. It had been pretty great actually. Coach Mike pulled him aside just the day before and told him how proud he was of Logan for staying committed to the extra work and keeping a positive attitude at practices.
He may have been almost half-way to his goal weight, but Logan didn’t want to say too much about it to Meadow, worried he might jinx things. There were months ahead of him with the unrelenting pressure to drop more pounds... plus a whole summer during which he could backslide. He knew all too well how easy it was to lose control of his appetite and his body all over again.
“You’re going to be totally ready next year,” Meadow seemed to read his mind by completely contradicting his thoughts. “Maybe you’ll even get a pro contract.”
Logan laughed as he breathed through a lunge, “Naw, they fill up from the draft with all the CHL guys, junior leagues, and ringers from all over the world; they only make room for the truly elite players from the college ranks. I’m barely 6’1” so even if I was the hardest guy on ice...” Logan explained.
Meadow raised her eyebrow. He seemed to be plenty tall to her, anyway.
“Most defensemen in the NHL are a little taller... and I knew I wasn’t naturally pro material, so getting the NCAA scholarship was lucky, and seemed like the smarter way to go,” he explained with a shrug. “Coach says if I get my shit together I have a shot at the minors, but that’s not a great living, considering the bigger beating on the body.”
“My family is proof that you can be among the greatest in the world and not get rich,” Meadow shrugged.
Logan nodded, remembering Meadow’s background. She was really different than most girls he knew, that was for sure.
“A couple of WHL and USHL teams showed some interest before I committed to UMN, but I liked school too much,” he continued to explain, “and playing for the Gophers was a dream come true.” He smiled.
“Was?” She questioned his word choice with another raised eyebrow and an encouraging smile.
“Is,” he smiled even wider, appreciating her positivity. “Pride on Ice,” he modestly fist pumped.
“So you like school a lot,” she grinned back. “You gave yourself an extra year, at least.”
He laughed, “Yep, I secretly wanted an extra year of classes, so I ate everything I could get my hands on and piled on a bunch of weight. Everyone thinks I’m a dumb, fat jock, but I’m actually executing a brilliant plan.”
He sort of regretted making a joke about his weight problems with Meadow but for whatever reason he was doing it more and more. He knew his weight was just another performance stat to coaches and scouts, but with women it was a more shameful, uncomfortable topic. Meadow had started to surprise him though. She made it not such a big deal; almost insignificant, really. It’s weird, because she’s so athletically perfect, yet I can kind of joke about my worst weakness with her and it’s not that horrible.
His fat talk and red-faced sheepish smile was mouthwatering to Meadow. He knows exactly how to turn me on and doesn’t even realize it. She shifted the conversation to a less sexy question to pull herself out of it. “So what are you majoring in?”
“I finished my credits for Business Marketing, so I added Econ as a double major,” he explained. “The team usually steers guys to the practical majors, but I decided that I liked the theory side more.”
“That’s cool,” she admired him all the more now. He may have struggled with diet discipline, but he was a hard worker in every other area of his life. She felt badly for thinking so little of him before, and for judging him based on superficial things like his choice of sport, or his cocky smile. She had even judged him about his weight gain, while at the same time, finding excitement over it. Guilt began to seep into her complicated feelings, nestling right alongside her unsettling fear of falling for him.
Part Five: Warmer regards
Logan stood in front of Meadow with his hands on his hips in an impatient stance.
Her eyes skimmed along his body for only a moment. Does he look even thinner? Dang it...
“So?” he demanded.
“Well,” she looked down, feigning disappointment, “It wasn’t good...”
He looked at her with such pity that she couldn’t keep her straight, sad face. Her news was too exciting.
“It was great! I got a first in the 1500! I came in at 2:09, which puts me in the pack for Nationals,” she beamed.
His face lit up and without thinking he put his hand on her shoulder in congratulations. “That’s so great Meadow! Awesome!” He would have hugged her, but she was, well… Meadow. She wasn’t one of those people you could just hug.
“Thanks,” she shrugged humbly, feeling her shoulder tingle from his simple gesture. It felt really good to share her excitement with someone who understood the thrill of competition, even if she was thrown off by his well-meaning touch. “I think I may start considering the 3000 though. I came in with a solid time in that heat without really even focusing on it that much. I need to talk more to Renate about that,” she reasoned.
“Longer distance suits you,” he smiled. “When we raced, it took you a few laps, but you caught up to me and I’m pretty damn fast,” he laughed.
“That’s true, I did start kicking your ass that day,” she nodded in mock agreement.
He shook his head at her clear exaggeration, but her ego was becoming almost charming to him. “So now you get really serious.”
“I’ve always been serious,” she smirked playfully.
Oh, yes, that ego, he just smiled. “February?”
She let out a big sigh, “Yep. I really need Renate now, she can’t come back fast enough.”
“Yeah, even I miss her,” Logan joked, although because they were forced together with no referee, he could also see how their friendlier rapport was also forced along, which seemed to melt her icy personality a bit more.
“She’s going to be really happy to see you,” Meadow blurted the words before she could pull them back.
“Why me?” he asked, tilting his head in confusion.
“Your… progress over the last few weeks,” she had to acknowledge his reduction now that she had stupidly brought it up. It was hard to be enthusiastic, as she was never good at faking positivity. And it was wrong, especially from a professional standpoint, to be anything other than encouraging of his weight loss goals. What is wrong with me?
“She’ll have to give you some credit too,” Logan felt his face getting warm. Meadow had generally avoided much talk of weight loss with him. She had mostly focused on fitness and strength development, not talk of pounds lost, which was a relief in a way. But it had left the whole reason he was doing the morning sessions mostly unspoken between.
Deep down, Meadow did not want to take credit for his shrinking body, and the irony was continuing to torment her. “You should take the most credit since you’re the one doing the work,” she deflected the praise back to him. “Getting up early every day to get bossed around by women who’ve never played hockey before in their lives… not to mention depriving yourself of everything that tastes good,” she smiled sheepishly.
“It sucks, I’ll admit it. I want nothing more than a big greasy cheeseburger,” he shook his head. She had drawn the honesty right out of him.
“I hear ya,” she smiled, trying to hide her turned on flutters and fight off images in her mind of him pigging out with reckless abandon.
“Oh right, I bet you’ve never even craved a big greasy cheeseburger,” he chuckled. “I’m sure you were raised on kale and quinoa infused whole grain organic tofu and lentil patties.”
“Shut up,” she couldn’t help but laugh at his made-up crunchy hippie meal. “I’m just like everyone else. I’d eat a big hot fudge sundae every single day if I could. I miss the hell out of pizza, onion rings and chili cheese fries and everything that tastes good, believe me.”
“Stop,” he pleaded with a big grin, rubbing his cute, but shrunken gut. “Chili cheese fries? Geez, you’re making me hungry.”
“Then it’s time to get to work,” Meadow changed the subject in an attempt to squash her fantasies of his gluttony and formerly fatter physique. With the way she was feeling about those kind of thoughts, she figured she probably needed the workout more than he did.
After a mid-December speed and recovery session at the Oval, Logan and Meadow sat down on the benches to take off their skates. As the Zamboni began its long slow journey around the full 400 meters, the public skating crowd was beginning to hover around, getting laced up and waiting to jump on the ice.
Meadow studied them, young and old, in all different shapes and sizes. They were just average people looking to get away from their lives for an hour or two by gliding around in circles communally rather than competitively.
“When was the last time you skated for fun?” She asked Logan, thinking about all these strangers and their carefree approach to skating. “Like, just on the ice with no coach, no practice, and no competition?”
He looked at her with confusion, puzzled by the unusually introspective question. But her face was genuine in its inquisitiveness, so he thought seriously about it for a moment. He’d been training for elite play for so long...
“Probably middle school, at Cornelia or Lewis Park... but we’d always get yelled at or kicked off for being too aggressive, so we gave up on the public ponds,” he smirked over the memories. He hadn’t thought about those days in a while. Usually the guys in the neighborhood would just informally slap a puck around or play some pickup games, until girls showed up... that’s when they’d get rambunctious and usually get asked to leave shortly thereafter. The stakes got much higher when the scouts started showing up at his U14 games and his life quickly became all training, all the time.
She smiled knowingly, thinking to herself about how much she had detested those wild hockey boys, always showing off and hacking up perfectly good ice. Logan must have definitely been one of those boys.
“What about you?” He asked in return, suspecting that she had always been training for something. Imagining her having any kind of fun at all was a bit of a stretch.
Meadow wasn’t sure, actually. “I don’t know, probably grade school,” she shrugged. The only reason the question popped into her head was that she couldn’t remember the last time she had skated for any reason other than to train or compete.
“Well, Lake of the Isles finally opened,” he mentioned nonchalantly. Logan had a nostalgic habit of paying attention to news of outdoor rink conditions around the Twin Cities. “If you want to go skate for fun, it sounds like it’s not going to be too cold this weekend.”
“Yeah?” She felt suddenly excited. Just going out to a public park rink, and skating around casually in regular winter clothes? Wait, is he asking me to go with him or just suggesting I go do it myself? Meadow’s heart rate rebounded back to cardiovascular levels.
“You wanna go there and hang out?” He asked her more pointedly. He couldn’t believe he was asking her to go with him now... it just sort of slipped out. Now he was afraid she’d think he was asking her on a date. Wait, am I asking her on a date?
“For fun?” She asked him to clarify, scared to answer affirmatively.
“No, training, I was thinking of plowing a special 400 meter track just for you,” he playfully used some sarcasm, trying to ease his own nerves.
She laughed and shook her head. He’s adorable when he’s cheeky… one more thing I should detest about him.
“The team is on winter break, and besides,” he was relieved to have suddenly remembered an objective reason to suggest the whole thing, “Renate says I also have to do outdoor exercise every weekend, so you’d be helping me stay good with her.”
“Yes, Renate is a big believer in the invigorating power of fresh air,” Meadow rolled her eyes with a loopy grin.
“I have a meeting with Coach on Sunday, so Saturday is better,” Logan suggested, not wanting to mention the fact that he had a weigh-in and fat test on Sunday as well.
“I’m giving skating lessons until 4,” she told him.
“How about 6 then? At the warming hut?” He proposed. Logan was feeling almost confident these days. He couldn’t tell if it was because his weight loss was picking up steam, or it was that Meadow had become friendly enough that he could talk to her like... well, kind of like, a friend. As long as I keep remembering that she’s not interested in me for more than that, I can be cool with her.
She nodded and smiled, “6 it is.” She was half elated, and half uneasy, feeling caught completely between the distressing possibility that he might come on to her and complicate things, or, the depressing reality that he wouldn’t ever hit on her; because he didn’t like her that way at all.
“Logan!” Renate exclaimed, hugging him. She hadn’t seen him in more than two months. “You’re almost there, wow!”
“Well, not quite,” he half smiled, instinctively looking down at himself and rubbing his hand across the bit of softness still lingering on his torso. He was now hovering around 245, same as his previous year’s playing weight, although he definitely packed more muscle into that number now. Just 20 more fat pounds to go and he’d be back on the team. Getting his body fat down under 12% would be the Holy Grail to finally shut his coaches and team mates up once and for all. But the last 20 are always the toughest…
“You’ve worked hard. Be proud,” she patted him on the back.
“I just don’t know how long I can keep it up,” he admitted, grateful Meadow wasn’t around yet to hear him express his insecurities. Renate had been the one person he felt he could share his self-doubt with. He may have come far with Meadow, but he couldn’t bring himself to tell her how afraid he was of failure, or worse, how much power food continued to have over him.
“You don’t have to do it forever. You give it everything you have for only as long as you want to play hockey at this level,” Renate explained to him. “After that you can have your body back.”
“What?” He thought he understood her words, but no one had ever really talked to him about any ending to the pressure and constant vigilance.
“When you are a competitive athlete, Logan, you have agreed to give your body over to something else. You focus it entirely on your goals, and squeeze every last piece of pride, glory or money that you can from it. Then, once that’s done, you get your body back,” Renate enlightened him.
“I never thought about it that way,” Logan nodded.
“That got me through those days when my body ached, and I was so sick of racing around and around, with the smallest chance of ever getting a medal. But I surrendered myself to that goal. Once I got the medal, I decided that’s it, it’s all mine again,” she wrapped her arms around her still very muscular body.
He nodded more, finding her words oddly comforting.
“That day will come for you too. But you have this gift, and this very short space in time that your body can use it. Surrender yourself to it, and when you are done, whether it’s injury, age or you’re just bored, you’ll know you’re done, and you can have it back.”
“So that’s when I get to eat a whole rack of barbecue ribs again?” He was only half-joking.
Renate laughed and shook her head, “For me it was pastries. As soon as I got home from Nagano, I went to my favorite bakery in Heerenveen and bought a whole boxful of them.”
Logan laughed with her, “Yeah, I like that stuff way too much too.”
“Like what way too much?” Meadow had just walked in on their conversation.
“Gebakjes,” Renate hugged Meadow. “Oh, and I ate oliebollen and speculaasstaaf on Christmas,” Renate cooed, grinning from ear to ear. She was in good spirits about her time spent back at home, as her father was now in remission and his health had rebounded beyond expectations.
“Ugh, stop talking about Dutch pastries,” Meadow crossed her arms and sulked, knowing there would be no big sweets or baked treats in her coming months of training.
Logan was lost. He didn’t understand a thing they were saying but it was amusing to hear them be human enough to get excited over some delicious and forbidden carbs that he had never heard of before.
He still felt uneasy around Meadow though, having been pretty confused about her since that night they went skating before winter break. He should never have agreed to go out to eat with her, it was too weird. As soon as she suggested it, he felt a wave of anxiety come over him, but Meadow insisted. Why did she order all that food? And that comment about my love handles? Was she trying to mess with my head?
He just didn’t know what to make of her split personality. In the mornings while training, she was tough, serious and straightforward, treating him mostly like a client with a goal. Occasionally they might joke around like friends, but she always strutted around the gym with confidence and didn’t seem afraid to dig in and show him how to do things her way.
Yet these moments of vulnerability would show up in her, where she seemed less assured and maybe a little timid. Like the way she was at Lake of the Isles... while she was skating on the ice, she was mostly that confident Meadow; but once her skates came off, she became hesitant, harder to relate to, and impossible to read.
Logan thought about her a lot over the holidays, which made him even crazier. The upshot was that every time her face popped in his head, his appetite vanished. He lost ten pounds over the holiday break, which was faster than he had ever lost weight before in his life.
For her part, Meadow had been agonizing about the way that night had ended. It was the last time they saw each other before she headed up to her parents for Christmas, and she obsessed over what went wrong throughout her entire time away. She tried so hard to be normal with him... or what she thought was normal anyway, but she was terrible at being normal, she knew that much. In fact, there was nothing normal about either one of them, nor the situation they were in.
In hindsight, the more she thought about it, things did get extra weird between them after she slipped up and grabbed onto one of his cute, chubby flanks. But was it that big of a deal? His body had belonged to teams and coaches for years. How could he possibly be that sensitive about the meager amount of fat left on his body? I even tried to compliment him, for crying out loud.
He had been so peculiar about eating dinner too. She tried to order healthy things for them to share, but he didn’t say or eat much of anything. Instead, he pushed for a quick end to the meal. What had started as a fun evening, ended with her feeling like she had been defeated. I don’t do friendships or dates, she reminded herself. Why did I let myself even start to think that way?
When she saw Logan again after their return from the break, Meadow was stunned to see how much more weight Logan had lost. She was truly torn up inside, not knowing what to say to him about it, or whether to just ignore it. How could she congratulate him? It was success to their whole plan, but she didn’t want to give him the message that she thought he was now a better or more attractive person. She couldn’t resolve these conflicting ideas in her head to save her life.
“It looks like you two are getting along more nicely,” Renate noticed that despite their recent clumsy mutual tension, things were generally more congenial between her two pupils than they had been when she left the country two months before.
Meadow looked at Logan and gave him a mock insulted face and then winked at him with a smirk. He feigned an offended look back at her, but couldn’t keep his straight face from softening to an amused smile. This playful, yet unspoken banter was some relief to both of them.
“Yes, this is good. We make more progress when we get along,” Renate acknowledged their obvious improved regard for each other.
“So, we are better friends?” Renate raised a suspicious eyebrow to Meadow once they were in the ladies locker room.
“Yeah,” Meadow said nonchalantly, trying to play it off like he didn’t matter to her that much, but it made her feel a little guilty because he mattered to her more than ever.
“Your face is different when you look at him now,” Renate paused with a curious smile. “Do you... like him?” Renate emphasized the word ‘like.’
Meadow just shrugged and looked away. She had no idea how to lie to Renate, so saying nothing at all was so much easier.
“He is looking so handsome,” Renate started to say with a sigh in her voice.
“I don’t care about that,” Meadow snapped back with impatience, hating the insinuation that Logan was suddenly dating material because he was now about fifty pounds lighter than when he’d first shown up in their lives last September.
“Why are you being so prickly about it then? You two seem to get on fine,” Renate was confused.
Meadow sighed, now unable to stop herself from spilling the news that they’d gotten together socially. “We went skating at Lake of the Isles last month, the Saturday before Christmas, just for fun.”
“What? Like a date?” Renate exclaimed, now with disbelief in her voice.
“No! Not quite like that,” Meadow tried to deny anything romantic, but she could feel her guilty face fighting a fine line between platonic friendship and the possibility of something more.
“Oh Meisje,” Renate’s eyes widened, clearly seeing the uncertainty in her tone.
“I mean, it was like, only hanging out, no big deal. But then we grabbed a bite to eat, and he started to seem really uncomfortable. It was weird...” she sputtered through the chronology of the evening. The confusion of it all had been rolling around inside her head for nearly a month now.
“He was probably afraid you were counting every calorie he consumed,” Renate suggested with a smirky grin, making light of his diet issues.
“No, I wasn’t though,” Meadow didn’t see the humor in it. “We went to that vegan place over on Lyndale; so nothing processed or greasy... I was offering him different things to try and he just got really quiet and distant. He told me he was tired… then he walked me back to my car and that was it,” Meadow reported the anti-climactic events. “It wasn’t a date at all, but it seemed to end really weird… I don’t know.”
“So he was tired... maybe cutting back on calories makes him cranky at night,” Renate grasped for more explanation.
“He doesn’t need to lose too much more, so I don’t know why he needs to cut back so much that it makes him cranky,” Meadow was now venting her frustration.
Renate just looked at Meadow blankly.
“I mean he’s got to eat something, he can’t train very well in starvation mode, you know that,” Meadow continued her rant. “I’ve never said anything at all about what and how he should eat anyway, so I don’t get it.”
“You of all people know how everything you put into your body affects competition, and he has a lot on the line right now,” Renate now seemed almost upset with Meadow. “We also know that he has a hard time shedding caloric intake, so stop being so sensitive about it.”
Meadow knew Renate was right, and that she was really venting frustration about something buried way deeper in her feelings for Logan. She had originally hoped that he would lose weight fast so he would become less attractive to her. She needed him to be the conceited jock asshole she expected him to be, making it easier to detach herself from any romantic feelings. But that plan backfired, and now she was falling for him, in spite of his leaner body, because he was a person she truly admired from the inside out.
One night after practice in late January, Coach Mike met with Logan.
“Man of Steel,” he patted Logan on the back.
Logan smiled humbly, wanting more than ever to put the whole red shirt episode behind him.
“I was a little skeptical myself that a woman’s speed skating coach was the answer for you, but I have to admit, Renate and her training team have really helped you shed the bulk and get your edge back,” Coach smiled triumphantly.
“She’s pretty good,” Logan admitted, deciding not to talk too much about Meadow’s influence too, as that was more complicated. He now had a whole new respect for both her sport and her gender, but he wasn’t going to elaborate on it with Coach Mike. It was always better not to say much and just nod when Coach was talking to you.
“I almost wish I could change the rules and get you into these games now,” Coach smiled, “In practice you’re performing even stronger than you did last year, before all this weight business got out of control. The way I’m seeing things right now, you keep this up and have a strong off-season, and you may be our best defensive weapon on the team going into next season.”
“The hip feels really good too, which helps,” Logan rubbed along his flexor, knowing full well that his injury was a bigger issue for him last year than his weight. His ‘summer run amok’ in Denver did him no favors, but he was realizing, especially with what he learned from Renate and Meadow, that the hours of chronic pedaling on the exercise bike to try to lose weight probably worsened his injury. And all that time, his weight issues became the scapegoat for injury-related performance issues. Deep down inside he seethed about it, but at least now he knew more about how to balance the demands on his body in a healthier way.
How Meadow had become so important to him he could hardly understand, but she had. It was pretty corny to admit out loud, but getting up in the morning was much easier these days because he looked forward to starting the day with her. Actually looking forward to early morning workouts was an incredibly new and odd feeling. But everything hurt less now too, and his body felt more resilient. His weight loss had to happen so he could compete again, that was an imperative; but that wasn’t what was making him feel happy. Meadow was making him feel happy.
The problem now was how to stop having feelings for her. No matter how much I like her, she doesn’t feel the same way. He still felt terrible about how their evening at Lake of the Isles went. Once the food showed up at the table he couldn’t eat in front of her. It was like an Abbey flashback all over again. Meadow wasn’t like Abbey though. Meadow all but praised his stupid, stubborn side fat, and then ordered a bunch of food, encouraging him to eat. Why the hell did I agree to go out with her afterwards? I was such a tool. But Logan didn’t know how to explain this to her. It was too personal, and too embarrassing.
With Nationals just two weeks away and another taper looming, Renate wanted Meadow to focus at the Oval on starting strategies. She asked Logan to skate alongside her, knowing that would push her a little farther. He happily agreed to assist, beginning to enjoy bundling up in layers of fleece and skating distances with her in the crisp winter air. It was definitely better than being holed up in a dreary gym.
With their gloved hands draped over the barrier, they awaited clean, glossy ice.
“Always waiting on the Zamboni,” he muttered, filling the quiet air with conversation.
“Ugh, yes, always,” she laughed.
“I’m sorry we were jerks to you at the Mariucci,” Logan turned to face her, still feeling badly about the way his teammates had objectified her a couple of years back.
“You don’t have to apologize. You never said anything to me,” Meadow sighed. “Although you did give me some pretty condescending looks when I’d try to ignore your friend.”
Logan felt guilty about that. He had remembered it well, but was still surprised she had too. He looked into her eyes and shook his head, “That was just protection.”
“Protection?” Meadow did not understand what he meant by that. Protection against what? What did a hockey jock like him need protection against?
“You know, all the cake eater stuff, the fat jokes, harsh comments from fans during games... all the shit I’ve taken... even the ‘pretty boy’ chirping,” he sputtered out, feeling like he owed her a little more honesty. “Acting like I’m above everything and everyone is how I sometimes get through that kind of crap. It became who I was for a while, and I guess I kind of did it to you too.”
“You really don’t have to apologize,” Meadow repeated, now feeling empathy for what he must have had to endure. She was touched by his openness about it too, as he clearly didn’t like to expose any weakness. “At least you have an excuse for it. I’m not even sure why I am the way I am.”
“The way you are?” He raised an eyebrow.
“I know I can be cold,” she almost whispered, kicking her skate up against the barrier, feeling her own guilt over how she had treated him last fall. “I’ve always just assumed that every guy is a big jerk until they prove me wrong.”
“Have I proven you wrong?” Logan gave her an uneasy smirk, only half wanting an honest answer, fearing a negative response.
Meadow smiled at him and nodded, “Yeah, I thought you were going to be horrible... a real prima donna hockey star jock.”
He smiled, shaking his head, “And here I just assumed you looked down on me for letting myself get so out of shape,” he admitted, now looking her in the eye.
Meadow just looked back into his eyes, not knowing what to say. She was thinking a million complicated things about what she felt about him: his body, his strength and resilience, but didn’t have the right words to convey them. “No-,” she started to choke out.“Let’s go,” Renate came over, abruptly interrupting Meadow’s distressed plea, and sending them both out on the ice with no further conversation to be had on the subject.
Part Six: Spring Heat
Meadow could sense victory brewing in her legs as she swiftly passed her opponent in the final lap. She felt so powerful, visualizing her whole body cutting through the ice with sharp, hot blades. She took the last turn with ever shred of energy that she’d been trained to reserve, pouring it on at the moment she most needed it. Winning was happening inside of her before she ever crossed the line.
Only then did she actually hear the crowd noise. When it was over, and she saw her time, her heart nearly pushed itself right out of her chest. She knew right then that it was enough to qualify for the national team, and take the next step in elite skating.
Her eyes found Renate and within seconds they embraced, hugging each other tightly, tears coming from both of their eyes. But her pounding heart almost stopped when her eyes landed on Logan’s.
“Look who I found,” Renate winked at Meadow.
“You came?” Her face turned from a triumphant satisfaction to a more stunned excitement.
Logan bent down to give her a light hug, “Congratulations, Meadow,” he told her in her ear.
Without thinking, she pulled him in and embraced his whole body like she hadn’t ever before, instinctively kissing him on the cheek. “I can’t believe you came,” she responded in an almost hoarse voice.
“I took the overnight bus and got out just ahead of the storm,” he blushed from her embrace and grinned.
“Really?” Meadow actually felt humbled that he made that long trip just to see her compete; and humility wasn’t a common emotion for her to feel.
“You were unbelievable out there; you really rise to competition, don’t you?” He had seen her skate well enough many times in their training, but he was still pretty impressed with the incredible velocity she had packed inside her amazing little body when the stakes were higher.
“It’s in her blood,” Renate nodded with pride. “Johanna will be so excited... and your parents will be so proud... you need to call them right away.” Another February blizzard had immobilized northern Minnesota, blocking roads south to the Twin Cities and preventing her parents from traveling to the competition.
“I will, in a minute,” Meadow rested her hands on her hips, still winded by pure joy as much as the intensity of the race. She looked again at Logan, astounded he had made the effort to get ahead of the southern tail of that snow storm; and then all the way down to the Pettit in time for her race. She wanted to talk to him, hug him more, and really give him a massive, sexy kiss on the lips, but a crowd was forming around her, including coaches from the US Team.
Logan leaned over to her and softly told her in her ear, “Looks like you have to talk to some important people, and probably give a couple of interviews. Be modest yet optimistic... let Renate guide you.” He couldn’t help but coach her through these things a little, as he’d had experience with winning in the public eye. “I’ll wait outside… just enjoy this,” he smiled with a wink, patting her shoulder.
“I’m just so glad you came,” she brushed her hand along his arm. Those same words were all she could think to say to him before Renate pulled her into an intense discussion with a US team coach.
Meadow was having a hard time focusing on the conversation, though. Renate did most of the talking, while Meadow absorbed what she could, but her brain lifted into a big, fluffy, overwhelmed cloud. The instant she saw Logan’s proud smile after the race, she knew she was in love with him. She had to admit that to herself, if not to anyone else. It may have been her winning euphoria that cleared her head just enough to finally and fully acknowledge it, but she could no longer convince herself that it was possible to fight her way past these feelings.
Logan sat out in the far corner of the lobby, away from the crowds inside. I guess it was okay for me to come, he smiled to himself, having wrestled with whether he should stay back home and not interfere with her big day. She looked so beautiful after the race, he thought. She was sexy in victory, confidently taking off her hood, shaking out her hair... all sweaty and glowing from her success.
He couldn’t help but feel encouraged by her reaction when she saw him, seeming genuinely happy he was there. She hugged him so tightly and even kissed him on the cheek. Is it remotely possible that she could like me as more than a friend? Coming off a race like that, winners are always full of joy and love for everyone they see; he knew that feeling well enough. Maybe that was all her reaction was, just general happiness rubbing off on whomever was around her.
He folded his arms firmly across his body. They no longer rested on a fat belly though; at least that albatross had pretty much disappeared. He was now just ten pounds away from his freshman year starting weight, with abs finally emerging through the flab that had previously lounged around his torso. I guess it’s possible she could be less disgusted by me now that I don’t look like an overstuffed glutton anymore. But, I have got to stop thinking there’s anything more than friendship there; that’s just plain dumb.
Logan distracted himself by catching up with sports news and hockey blogs on his phone to escape his itching thoughts of Meadow. Nearly an hour had passed when she finally came out with Renate and sat down next to him.
“Hi there,” Meadow’s face was bright and smiling at him, still maintaining that celebratory glow. She had showered and fixed her hair in a cute braid; and she had a tiny bit of sparkly makeup on her eyelids too, just like that night they skated at Lake of the Isles.
Now Logan was even more worried about how he felt about her. It was actually becoming dangerous. At one time he had taken pleasure in objectifying her, thinking of her as a one-dimensional mean girl with no heart... just a pretty face and a hot body that he could entertain dirty thoughts about. How was it that in just a few months’ time, she had become such a completely different person to him?
“Hey,” he sat up and smiled casually, trying to set those thoughts aside, “So now you’re in the big leagues?”
“It seemed like it took forever to get here. All of the training over the last few years... and now all of a sudden, I’m going to be competing internationally? Traveling to new cities every few weeks next winter?” Meadow was in a daze.
“She may go to World Cup events later this year,” Renate beamed with pride. “We’ll spend some weeks in Leeuwarden with your Tante too. She’s a much tougher coach than I am. She’ll make you do more cycling training too.”
Meadow smiled and nodded, knowing how lucky she was to have the family ties that helped her learn from the best.
“And by then you’ll be winning games at all the Big Ten arenas,” Renate reminded Logan of his destiny in getting back on his team.
“I’ll be spending more time here in Milwaukee,” Meadow blurted, now conflicted about the changes awaiting her. She felt incredibly alive and excited by the opportunity that had opened up to her within the span of a few minutes in competition. Yet she knew that Logan had a very different mission ahead of him. “They want me to move here this summer to train full time,” she informed him more, her stomach flipping.
Logan nodded and tried to smile, hiding his sinking feelings. He knew that their morning training sessions wouldn’t last forever, but this news still stung anyway. He forgot how quickly things could change. Why does everything good come to an end?
“Logan, you could come work with us over the summer. I know you have concerns about the off season, and we can help you here. Coach Mike is a fan of mine now,” Renate laughed, with a wink. “He would trust us to keep an eye on you.”
Logan’s heart lifted. Maybe things don’t have to end just yet? But is it a good idea to continue to be around Meadow? She’s been so good for my goals but it could all go very wrong… just as long as I don’t fall…
“Do you want me to talk to him?” Renate asked him, cutting off his dangerous thoughts.
“Sure,” Logan shrugged and smiled nonchalantly, hiding his rattled emotions. He knew logically that it was a good idea. He needed stability this summer to maintain his weight and conditioning. Maybe it would all be okay. And maybe Renate staying a part of their training would continue to keep him safe from saying or doing something stupid around Meadow.
Meadow nodded with a smile to reassure him it was a good idea. But as usual, Logan’s continued presence in her life inspired both thrill and terror inside of her, waging an epic battle that just wouldn’t go away.
On their drive back up to Minneapolis, Renate cornered Meadow about her feelings for Logan.
“Was it good or not that I invited Logan to train with us this summer?” Renate asked Meadow.
“Yeah, it’s fine,” Meadow was, as always, trying to hide any emotion about all things Logan.
“He seemed disappointed when you told him about your plans in Milwaukee this summer,” Renate explained. “And I really think he’s helped your training almost as much as you’ve helped his.”
“You think?” Meadow probed Renate’s observation with curiosity.
“Yes, of course,” her coach sort of laughed, as if Meadow was the last person in the world to have figured that out. “All the while he was working hard to satisfy you, you were working hard to beat him.”
Meadow silently processed Renate’s words. She’d always felt that she was the leader in their training dynamic; she had the education and experience anyway.
“You were giving me the same practice times for nearly a year before Logan showed up. Since training with him began, you’ve shaved a lot off those times,” Renate explained. “You don’t realize that?”
“I guess so,” Meadow murmured.
“You’ve gotten a lot better on starts and distance times; that wasn’t a coincidence,” Renate argued.
She nodded without objection. He has been good for me, hasn’t he? And here I thought he was screwing my training up. One more reason to need him in my life, damn it.
“But now I’m also worried that having him around may make things more complicated for both of you,” Renate was reading her mind.
“What do you mean?” Meadow tried to play stupid.
“Do you love him, Meisje?” Renate asked gravely, keeping her eyes on the road.
Meadow was frozen and scared. Could she really admit it to another soul? It would make it really true, if she finally acknowledged out loud. She was so afraid to say it, and let it be real.
“You do,” she had clearly seen it all over Meadow’s face when Logan surprised her by coming down to Milwaukee. A big sigh escaped Renate’s body and she shook her head in obvious disappointment.
Meadow could not suppress her emotions anymore, no matter how hard she tried. But she was also confused by Renate’s gloomy tone. Her coach had been pleased with their growing friendship a few weeks ago, and at times, even encouraging Meadow to find Logan attractive. Why was she distraught by it all now?
Renate continued, “I just worry about him.”
“What?” Meadow was now a little insulted. What about me? What about my heart? Why doesn’t she want to protect me from this insane leap of judgement? Why is Logan the one she’s worried about?
“Meadow,” Renate spoke soberly, glancing over briefly from the steering wheel, “It will not last.”
Meadow grew angrier, no longer caring whether Renate knew her true feelings. “Why?” she demanded.
“You have fallen for him now that his fat is gone,” she spoke plainly.
“What? No!” was all the response she could muster, feeling once again the pain of being an eternal romance misfit.
“He will be fat again,” Renate glanced back at Meadow, emphasizing the word ‘will’ with her tone.
Meadow was screaming on the inside, I hope he will be fat again! Please, God, let him be fat again!
She continued, oblivious to Meadow’s desires, “He’s confided in me, about his weight and eating problems... this has been a lifelong struggle for him.”
“I know,” Meadow agreed begrudgingly, now loathing herself for taking such pleasure in what clearly caused a lot of grief for him in his life.
“While he has hockey, he has a chance to stay lean. But even if he lasts through the next season and is lucky enough to get picked up with a professional team, I don’t think it will be too long... that hip injury has been a problem for him for years now, and it won’t go away, especially as the game gets really rough.”
Meadow felt badly for Logan on that issue, knowing full well how devastating an injury is for any athlete. And the chronic ones were like a time bomb just waiting to go off at the next slightest hit or fall. College hockey was a more controlled game; but pro hockey, especially the minors, has a ferocity that could decimate any vulnerability. Logan’s hip flexor would never be completely safe from catastrophic injury; and that would undoubtedly sideline him for good.
“Once he’s done,” Renate sighed and explained, “when he’s not working out and training two or three hours every single day, he’ll gain it all back. You even said it yourself once, Logan is naturally overweight. If you expect him to stay as hard as he is now, you will be let down,” Renate spelled it out for Meadow.
“I won’t be, I don’t...” Meadow continued to sputter, trying to pull her uncomfortable defense together. “I didn’t just start liking him because he lost weight, that’s not how I am.”
“You say that now, but what if he becomes obese, Meadow? I know you. You are a perfectionist. You will not be able to hide your disappointment,” Renate was pushing the issue hard. “It will devastate him if he can’t meet your high standards.”
How could Meadow explain how wrong her coach was? Could Renate ever understand that she looked forward to a day that Logan could be himself and soften charmingly up into his natural body? When he could even become obese, or whatever weight that he might progressively fall into? Meadow swallowed, feeling her whole body clench up, caught between embarrassment, frustration and desire. She hated being stuck in the car where she couldn’t just make some smart ass comment and walk away from it.
“You don’t understand, Renate, I am fine with... I like... I’m actually...I...”
Renate interrupted her stuttering with impatience, “What are you trying to say, Meisje?”
Meadow paused, took a deep breath and started over. “You assume my standards... you think you know what I want, or what I expect, but you’re wrong,” she finally protested. “I actually like bigger guys,” she said loudly, and then brought her tone down to almost a whisper, “like Logan was before.”
She turned her hot face way toward the passenger window, fearing Renate’s reaction to something so unorthodox to their athletic way of life.
Renate was just silent, apparently taking it all in.
“Do you remember Tim?” Meadow asked Renate, groping for something more concrete to explain her preference.
“I never met Tim,” Renate was still seeming to process what Meadow was trying to convey to her.
“Well, he was kind of...chubby, or whatever... and I liked that about him,” Meadow spoke apprehensively.
“He was?” Renate was surprised.
“Yeah,” Meadow nodded.
“So you are more flexible than I thought,” Renate’s concern now melted into a curious smile.
“Maybe? I don’t know,” she sighed. “I do know I don’t really get excited for cocky guys with six-pack abs,” she smirked.
“What is this six pack thing? I know what it’s supposed to describe, but I never understood this saying, what is a six-pack?” Renate asked Meadow.
Meadow now giggled at Renate’s confusion. Sometimes an English euphemism came up that Renate demanded an explanation about. Meadow sat up, lifted up her sweater, and flexed her toned middle to illustrate. “Where the tendons cross the abs,” she spread her fingers along the grooves of her well-developed abdominal muscles. “It looks like beer cans lined up in a pack.”
Renate glanced down at Meadow’s ripped torso and let out a loud laugh, nodding, “Ah, now I understand.”
“I don’t know, Renate,” Meadow pushed her sweater back down with a sigh, returning to the uneasiness of her love life, or lack thereof. “I’ve tried to keep him out of my thoughts since day one. I didn’t want to feel anything for him, I really didn’t.” She had now completely relinquished her long held secret, feeling it evaporate into thin air.
Renate nodded with a small laugh, “You did try hard to push him away.”
“It’s hopeless... I don’t know what to do,” Meadow cradled her head in her hand and glared back out the car window as bare, white farmland passed them by.
“Wait and see, Meisje, if it’s meant to be, it will be,” Renate sighed.
Meadow just shrugged, feeling especially uneasy about that kind of ambivalence. She was never comfortable with leaving anything to chance. Her approach to life was built entirely on taking matters into her own hands. But she was nauseous at the thought of telling Logan how she really felt, and was equally sick over the idea that she could lose him as a friend over it.
“So, you like the fat ones, hmm?” Renate broke the silence and teased Meadow with a wink.
Meadow hit her coach lightly in the shoulder in playful frustration, “Let’s talk about something else, please.”
On an unusually warm Sunday afternoon in late March, Logan sat alone in his apartment. The worst hockey season of his life was finally over, yet he was feeling more depressed than he’d felt in months. His roommates were outside enjoying the nice weather, but he didn’t want to be around anyone.
The only thing he really wanted to do was consume a massively satisfying meal; anything that he could get his hands on, fill up, and then hibernate. That new burger place a few blocks over had been tempting him for weeks. Those delicious grilled and deep fried smells tortured him every time he walked past since it opened back in January. A big bacon cheeseburger with a pile of salty fries… perfect. I can reward myself, right? All the healthy food and extra training that I’ve put up with for months? I deserve to eat something good for once. And some ice cold beer… that would taste amazing today.
Having decided on his self-indulgent splurge, he pulled a box of summer clothes down from the top of his closet to find a pair of shorts, but everything he’d been wearing over the last couple of years was too big on him now. He dug deep to the bottom, finding a halfway decent pair he hadn’t felt comfortable buttoning around his waist since the summer before he started college. He was shocked by how well they fit, and realized how much his body had changed since then.
It made him think back to his very first UMN camp weigh-in when he was at his lightest; the same week that Abbey left him for Texas. He had vowed to himself back then that he was going to keep his body in perfect shape for the team, and never have an uncomfortable discussion about his weight again. Everyone was depending on him to do well… while Logan had been still depending on Abbey to come back to him, and he knew what she always expected of him as well.
Yet somehow his best laid plans got derailed. The weight gain was so gradual at first that he’d had plenty of time to get used to each fraction of a pound, making his thickening physique so easy to rationalize as just some body maturity or weight room enhancements. He also had slipped past some criticism for a while because he’d been a heavy player for enough years that he knew how to compete at a high level even with a few extra pounds. His mental game and skating skills had long compensated for the marginally lost speed that a little extra heft might cause. But it finally got way too out of hand and caught up with him when the red shirt slapped him across the face with a fat dose of reality.
Still shirtless, he looked into the mirror and ran his hand down his abs like he did every morning to remind himself of why he needed to maintain his regimen. I don’t want to let the team down again, damn it. One burger always turns into more burgers…
Though instead of thinking of Abbey and what she would say about his lack of discipline, like he always used to do, he thought of Meadow and how she’d been there for him during the hardest months of his life. Sure, she had been aloof for a while and tough for a bit longer, but she had also become pretty understanding lately too. He figured that if anyone could keep him off the gluttonous ledge, she was the one.
He threw on a t-shirt and dug deep into his confidence reserves, reaching out to her with a text:
Meadow’s heart jumped. Things had been pleasant enough between them most days, but there was also some awkwardness. With her feelings for him ever closer to the surface, she felt like she was always tripping over herself trying to act casual, and making a forced effort to be ‘business as usual’ at their regular morning workouts. She really hadn’t expected to hear from him randomly on a weekend, though.
Trying to stay cool, she texted back casually:
It was surprising how one little positive emoticon back from her could make him feel a little better already.
Goldy at 3?
“Hey,” Meadow walked up to Logan, who was already sitting on the steps at Coffman Hall, and sat down next to him.
“Hey,” he eked out a small smile for her, even though he was still feeling gloomy.
“Shorts, huh?” Meadow furtively admired his big, marvelously sculpted legs.
“Yeah,” he shrugged. “It’s nice enough out today.”
“Indeed,” she took a deep breath and felt the mild, southern breeze over her face. Warming temperatures always meant she’d be saying goodbye to outdoor ice training for a while, which usually made her feel disappointed. But instead, she found herself thinking that it would be nice to get her inline racers back on, especially if Logan were by her side to keep her challenged. It was funny how he had improved her usual attitude towards life’s little frustrations.
His eyes glanced over at her, observing her pretty profile. She always managed to be so naturally sexy. Bad idea to get lost in those kinds of thoughts right now. He quickly moved his attention away from her face and body to study the statue of their beloved rodent mascot.
Meadow could see that Logan was not feeling talkative, so she tried to fill the uneasy quiet with some conversation. “I was here the day they unveiled him,” she pointed to Goldy, who was as always, cheerfully smiling with his hugely cartoonish buck teeth.
“He’s still happy at least,” he smirked at the bronze Gopher’s silly face and looked down.
She clearly saw how sour his mood was and stood up, “Come on, let’s walk.”
As they strolled along the campus walkways, Meadow made more small talk about her time there as a student while Logan stayed mostly quiet. At one point, she observed a small group of college girls gawking at him and whispering among themselves. Logan was entirely unaware of their starry-eyed attentions, though. She couldn’t tell if they were aspiring puck bunnies who knew exactly who he was, or just co-ed randoms crushing on a hot guy. Either way Meadow felt a weird protectiveness come over her. It was yet another odd feeling she wasn’t used to experiencing.
Wandering north through the campus, past University and up to 4th Street, they ended up standing right across the street from the Mariucci Arena. Logan stopped abruptly, crossed his arms and glared back at that damn barn. It used to make him feel so hopeful about his future, but now all he felt was empty. Maybe he should have just gone and gotten that big burger and some cold beers; that would have filled his emptiness for a little while.
“You saw the season ended last night?” Logan muttered sullenly, turning away to pace. He was unable to cross the street and walk any closer to it.
Meadow nodded, “Aren’t you relieved it’s all over now?” She assumed he’d want the season done with already so he could move on from the whole red shirt setback.
“I don’t know, I guess I should be,” he irritably shoved his hands in his pockets. He definitely wasn’t feeling relief right now though.
“Maybe it worked out for the best. Now you don’t have to end your college career on a mediocre season,” she suggested to cheer him up.
“That’s just the thing... not being part of the team let them all down. Maybe we would have had a better season if I hadn’t been such a fuck up,” Logan seemed really miserable; more so than she had ever seen him before.
“You can’t think that way, Logan. You can’t get bogged down in regrets. There’s nothing you can do now to change what’s happened, so you have to just focus on what’s ahead of you,” she tried to keep him positive. That had become her role with him more and more, unlike in their early days of training together when she tried her hardest to be entirely negative towards him.
He just shook his head though. The season-ending loss to St. Cloud State that knocked them out of the tournament was a bitter blow for his teammates; but not being there to help them get a critical win had finally hit him really hard. The Huskies last minute goal that cost the Gophers the game felt like a knife in his stomach. The scoring winger threw a shoulder fake at his defending teammate while Logan just sat on the sidelines, watching it coming from a mile away. He had been in front of that move hundreds of times and could have easily defended that shot had he been on the ice.
Meadow was obviously trying to be nice, but she didn’t understand what it was to let your whole team down. Not even the encouraging words from Coach Mike about reaching his goal weight and solidifying his chance to get back with the team had helped him feel better. It was going to be a long spring and summer ahead, during which he could easily screw up again; and that depressed him even more.
She studied the regret in his face. Geez, he looks so lean now. She couldn’t keep herself from observing that too. He was even thinner looking than when she first saw his infuriatingly cute and snarky face at those day practices. His jawline and cheekbones were clearly sharper and more defined. As gorgeous as he was now, she secretly yearned for the softer, chubby-chinned face he had back when he was closer to 300 pounds; back when she wanted to hate him. Now he was down to probably somewhere around 220? Or maybe even less? Whatever the number was, it didn’t matter. It was too late… she was in love with him regardless.
The patient and stoic approach Renate had suggested for Meadow to deal with her lovesick mental state had only made her more emotionally drained. What the hell is wrong with me? I spend years coming to terms with my preference for soft and sweet tubby guys, not muscular jocks. How could I end up in love with a buff hockey player? And he’s thoroughly oblivious too.
Logan took a deep breath and looked away, still fully immersed in his own disappointments. Meadow walked over to a bench nearby and motioned for him to sit down next to her, trying to pull his attention away from the distress he was in. He shuffled over to sit next to her, but resumed his morose stare at the arena across the street, she watched the sun glimmer down on his face, highlighting the scar along his right cheek.
Patience and stoicism totally evaporated from her mind as she saw what she loved about him that had little to do with his handsome face or his powerful body. She had fallen in love with who he really was as a person. He had so much resilience, courage and determination; not to mention his clever yet unassuming sense of humor. And at the same time, she realized that even in this lean body he now inhabited, Logan was still, undeniably, the soft guy with the sweet personality that she had always idealized as definitive boyfriend material.
Without thinking, she reached out and traced her finger lightly down the curved path of his scar. “Logan,” she asked him, “tell me how you got this.”
Momentarily shocked by her gentle touch, he instinctively put his hand on hers to keep her from feeling the exact texture of it. “Junior league... I was 16. A scrum broke out in a rough game against Hopkins. I took a high stick to the face,” he motioned his hands to show Meadow the dangerous trajectory of the hostile stick. “I was lucky it missed my eye. They put in two layers of stitches.”
Meadow gazed at him, simultaneously admiring his toughness, but also worrying about his safety.
“Do you think it’s gross?” He asked, looking away, feeling another jolt of uncertainty course through his body from her gaze. He was now being pulled from his pit of self-pity into the realization that she was solely focused on his face with an unmistakable affection in her eyes.
“No, not at all,” Meadow kept her eyes intently on him.
Panic was building in his stomach. How would he keep himself cool around her now? He glanced back at her, but she was looking at him with such intensity and concern that he had to look away again.
“These are worse,” he focused on his hands, rubbing his fingers over old scars, trying to avoid feeling what he was feeling. “I should have bought stock in the company that makes Dermabond,” he lightly chuckled to alleviate the tension.
Meadow’s hands went to his, “They’re strong, like you are,” she murmured, not being able to stop herself from connecting to his vulnerable charm. He was clearly hurting and she wanted to help him heal; she needed him to see how much success was still ahead of him.
He smiled weakly, “It’s nice you’re trying to make me feel better,” her hands on his felt more than just comforting though. She’s just being a good friend, right? That’s all this can possibly be.
“I just think you should see what I see,” she was compelled to share her honesty.
“What do you see?” He asked with apprehension, feeling that heightened level of anxiety now rumbling from his stomach into his while body.
“You’ve never had it handed to you, Logan. You’ve always had to work harder to prove yourself; to be better than what the scale said you were supposed to be… or what coaches, or teammates… or those stupid, cruel hockey fans thought you could be. That’s why you’re here, playing at this level, with a great team willing to give you another shot. You’re that good, don’t you see?” The words poured out of her mouth.
Logan was struck by the way she had so accurately described the frustrations he’d felt for as long as he’d been on skates. It was a perfect summary of all the extra work, practice drudgery, self-doubts and even the successes too. He’d never put that into words to anyone before though; no coach, no teammate … not even his parents; and certainly not any former girlfriend. He swallowed hard and looked down at the ground again to hide his emotional response to her intuitive words.
“You’re even still sticking with our Friday yoga sessions and you hate those,” she made a small joke to ease his visible uneasiness. “And, you have gotten pretty damn good at that too,” she laughed.
“It’s not that bad,” he smiled through his white lie, pushing his emotions back under his well-trained thick skin. He still thought yoga was annoying but he could see how it might have been helping him loosen up the chronic tightness he’d always felt in his back and hips.
“See? You’re amazing,” she tried to laugh, but felt her throat clench up.
Logan looked back into her affectionate eyes, overwhelmed by his clear feelings for her. I can’t kiss her, she’ll push me away; it will ruin everything.
She put her hand back on his scarred cheek. I have to kiss him, I can’t hold back any longer. She guided his face to hers and gave him a soft kiss.
Logan felt his muscles go from rigid to mush as her lips grazed his lips, and her fingers browsed along his chest to his arm and shoulder. He had thought many times about what it would be like to take ahold of her with aggression and lust… but now he was made powerless by the way her hands felt on his body, and her lips on his.
She’s kissing me… and touching me like she wants me… His senses went into overload, as her little hands brushed along his back. The sweet citrus scent in her hair and the faint hint of pleasure coming from her mouth made him feel hypnotized. He had tried so hard to stop himself from imagining this moment, that he was easily lost in it. All the negativity just flew out of his body with this physical connection.
But then, one of Meadow’s hands landed on his side, grabbing ahold of the exact spot where his love handles always settled in, jerking him back to reality. It was that same place she grabbed onto him at Lake of the Isles. As quickly as his pessimism had dissipated, it returned right back into his head.
Renate had planted the seeds in his head about facing his future in their honest conversations about his weight, suggesting what he knew deep down to be true. Having lived in his body for almost 23 years, and fighting it every single day, since as far back as he could remember, he knew he would get fat again. Maybe a year from now, or maybe even longer, if his body would even allow it. But without serious daily training, he would eventually grow back into that 300 pound chubster he was last fall, or possibly even bigger. If Meadow stuck around long enough, he would become completely unacceptable to her strict hard body criteria. He withdrew from her, reminded of the inevitable.
“What is it Logan?” Her throat clamped up again, but this time with dread, as he apprehensively pulled away. A wave if regret washed over her. Now he’s going to deliver on the rejection that I had always wanted to avoid in the first place.
“Meadow, I like you... a lot.” How could he explain his big, fat, pathetic fate to her without mortifying himself?
“But not that way...” she looked down, sick inside. I should have never kissed him. He’s doesn’t feel the same way. I’m such an idiot.
“No,” he put his hand gently on her shoulder, wanting to take away the hurt that was so clearly covering her face. “I mean, yes, I do like you… that way,” he revealed and smiled gently to reassure her. “I’m just not sure what’s going to happen to me...”
“None of us know what’s going to happen in the future,” she exhaled in frustration with a side of relief. He likes me? Really? That way?
“Maybe,” he started with a pause, but then began to confess his fears. “Maybe I look good to you now, but I may not stay this way. I can’t play forever... I love the game, the competition, and winning,” he half-smiled. “But I also know I want to keep all my teeth, my hips, my back, my brain... Without constant training though, I don’t know what will happen to my body either,” he covered his middle with crossed arms, “but you probably won’t like it.”
His cautionary words were the same as Renate’s had been to Meadow, as if they were both conspiring to keep her from appreciating him as a person, not to mention his wonderful, amazing and sexy tendency to be heavy.
“Logan, you don’t understand,” she stopped him with her own gentle smile. She was now actually a little relieved that his objection to her romantic overtures was based on his weight insecurities, and that he really did like her. But his words, ‘maybe I look good to you now,’ thoroughly sliced into her.
What more was there to understand? Logan pulled his crossed arms more tightly into his body with a grimace. He had plenty of experience with what girls didn’t want... like Abbey, who only showed interest in him once he had slimmed down. And Emily, who became antagonistic once more weight piled on. Even back to being a kid, the way his sister’s friends laughed along when she teased him, calling him fat names... he’d never been fully able to escape the taunting that sometimes still echoed in his head: Lardass… Porky… Cake eater.
Meadow could see his pain and was kicking herself for having been so unkind to him in the past. She knew she had to explain her earlier behavior. “I’ll admit, when we first met, I didn’t like you, and I didn’t want to like you,” she started.
He nodded with a smirk, relieved to hear her admit as much. He wasn’t crazy back then. She had definitely intended to be ice cold to him.
“But I was still attracted to you,” she felt her face getting hotter and took a deep breath. “And it made me crazy, because I didn’t want to like a smug hockey player.”
“Meadow,” Logan shook his head, wondering if she even still remembered how big he was back in September. “I was really overweight... the biggest I’d ever been, and red-shirted. My ego was decimated. I was so not smug. How on earth could you have seen anything but weakness in me?”
“I’m telling you that I was very attracted to you, Logan,” but she still saw doubt in his face. She paused and took another deep breath. “I like big... or well, you know, some meat, on a guy,” she nervously pulled her shoulders inward, groping for words that wouldn’t make him uncomfortable. She was feeling flushed admitting her feelings to him, and didn’t want him to think she was weird for liking what she liked. “But getting to know you… who you really are, as a person; that’s what made me feel this way about you.”
“What way about me?” He was still analyzing her words, trying to figure out if she was really saying what she was saying.
“The way that makes me want to kiss you,” she softly smiled. I can’t tell him I love him yet, he might fully freak out.
“And if I screw up again? You’ve seen me fat, Meadow, it wasn’t good,” he felt compelled to warn her again.
“It was good,” she blurted in defense of his chubbiness, but her blushing wouldn’t subside. She stroked her hand along his arm to try and reassure him, “it’s all good with you.”
“I just don’t get it, Meadow. You’ve been training hard with me for months to get me in shape.” He was really confused as her words certainly didn’t match up with her actions. When I was fat, she was indifferent, even hostile. Now I’m pretty much cut, and she’s kissing me. It doesn’t add up. “The other day, Coach told me not to get too thin; and now you tell me you liked me when I was fat? Can’t you see how I might feel like I’ve officially gone crazy?”
“Logan, I’m saying that I just want you to be you,” she tried to explain more. “I want you to be successful and achieve everything you want in hockey, or in whatever you do in life... but I also want you to be comfortable with yourself... and eat whatever or however much your body says it needs, and not have a gun to your head based on whatever number shows up on the scale... and just be healthy and happy.”
“That’s a lot of things to want, Meadow,” he smiled skeptically at her well-intended list, “and they don’t all work together for me.”
“Well maybe not all at the same time,” she tried to clarify her reassurances. “We’ve done well together in training, and I’d like to be there for you to keep it up as long as you need to, or change it up as your goals change. But if…or when you’re done with all of it, I’d also love your body if it went wherever it naturally wants to,” she smiled contritely and moved her hand to his leg, stopping short of putting it back on his torso.
“Like back up near 300? And what if it gets worse than that?” The cynicism in his face turned into more of a fearful look.
“I don’t consider more than 300 a worse thing,” a coy smile spread across her face, remembering the sexy belly roll, chubby love handles and soft but perky chest mounds that he sported around his body last year, making her even more aware of the vibrant feelings brewing inside her thighs.
“You seriously wouldn’t be appalled?” He looked unconvinced.
“No,” she shook her head and grinned more widely. “Not in the slightest.”
“How can you be a personal trainer who happens to be on the verge of making the Olympic team, and still be okay with…?”
“Because my work and my goals have nothing to do with what I think is sexy,” she cut him off growing impatient with his skepticism, groping for confidence in her position.
“Sexy?” He now smiled with a mischievous curiosity on his face.
“Yeah,” she grinned, finally owning it.
“So are you... like... less attracted to me now that I’m... not… fat?” He rubbed his firm middle and smirked, asking as if it were still all a big joke.
“No, it’s not binary with you, Logan. I think you’re amazing however you are. I just also happen to think a big, soft belly is also really darn cute on the right guy,” she blushed beet red again.
“Am I the right guy?” He asked without even thinking. This was the most bizarre conversation that he never, ever expected to have with her.
“Yes Logan,” she was exasperated, “of course you are... the right guy.”
His eyes grew wide, while his heart jumped in his chest. He moved into her space, cupped her chin in his hand and kissed her intensely, as he’d wanted to do for so long; longer than he’d even realized himself.
Meadow melted in his arms. Every last crystal of ice that she tried so hard to keep frozen in her heart was entirely dissolved by Logan’s accepting embrace and warm kiss.
Part 7: Logan & Meadow
“I’ve been wondering about this... fat thing of yours,” Logan rolled over to face Meadow on his side, supporting his head in his hand. His plan to join her for training in Milwaukee had turned him into a regular overnight guest at the tiny apartment she sublet for the summer.
She blushed and looked down. Oh boy, his ‘fat thing’ questions again, she sighed to herself and brought her eyes back up to his. “What?” she questioned with teasing impatience. Ever since their friendship had morphed into a romantic relationship, when she made her inclinations a little more known to him, he’d been nudging her with his curiosity about it. Logan seemed to be on a mission to unpack her fat baggage, one needed reassurance at a time.
“Would you really still want me, if I were like... completely obese?” He was fixed on her eyes, not wanting to let her weasel around it again with a joke or some generic unconditional support. He had been so baffled by what Meadow shared with him, that he felt like he had to understand if it was even possible. Are there really women who like it when guys get chubby? Or even fatter? It was entirely foreign to him.
“Oh Logan,” she smiled and touched his innocently inquisitive face. “You’ve been Googling again,” she let out a sympathetic laugh and then kissed him on the cheek. “I meant it when I said that I don’t want you to be anything other than just be you.” Her murkier desires did yearn for the return of his tubbiness, and all this talk about it was making her feel wiggly inside, but she really did truly and honestly love him in whatever package he happened to be in at the moment.
While Logan had pushed her for more details about her preferences, she pushed back too, asking him about his own. Was he attracted to her mesomorphic body type or did he like something softer too? “A lot of guys like curves,” she had reasoned to him, knowing big boobs and hourglass hips were not qualities she could offer him if his desires were as particular as her own were.
But Logan had already reassured her that he loved her body, and had always admired the impressive amount of power she packed into her relatively small figure. She was built for speed and her whole form was so rare in definition, ability and purpose; he hadn’t stopped telling her how much that turned him on too. He may have found curves enticing and lovely on some girls, but he hadn’t ever really been about specific body types anyway. His real Achilles heel was a strong, beautiful woman with intense, piercing eyes. Meadow was just that kind of girl, mesmerizing him from the first time he saw her stunning face angrily glare right back into his own defensively smug facade.
“What if you change your mind; then you decide I’m... or, well, it’s too much... too gross...” He was still trying to figure out if she was just being nice; and maybe she really had no idea how vulnerable he was to someday becoming seriously and uncontrollably fat.
“No, Logan, I've always been open minded, about... bodies,” she tried to be diplomatic about his current shape versus his persistent fat angst. “At least since I started noticing boys,” she gave him a sneaky smile, alluding to her early feelings for plump bellies; feelings that had over time evolved into full on desire for total body corpulence.
“So your boyfriends were all fat guys? Seriously?” He gave her a disbelieving look.
“I never really had boyfriends,” she admitted. “I never had time, I was always training.”
“You've never had a single boyfriend before me? I find that hard to believe,” he smirked. Logan thought Meadow seemed experienced enough as they had become more physically intimate, anyway. Although, he did at one time question what guy in his right mind would put up with her difficult personality. A lot of guys would have definitely been scared off, he laughed to himself.
“Well, I did have one boyfriend in college and he was chubby, so there,” she giggled through her blushing.
“You are so totally the opposite of who I thought you were the first time I saw you,” he now laughed out loud with her.
“I can say the same thing about you, Mr. Conceited Hockey Jock,” she lightly patted his cheek, still grinning.
Undaunted by her teasing, he continued the line of questioning. “What if,” he blushed and thought for a moment. “I mean, I know I can’t really... be, like...chubby for you...right now...” he fumbled for the right words to express a sexy idea he thought might appease his girlfriend’s unique interests.
“Logan, you don’t have to agonize over this,” she still felt a little embarrassed by his uneasiness and ran her hand along his firm body in reassurance that she was fine with his current physique. His attentive charms and admiring whispers had already won her over the first time they made love at her little apartment back in Minneapolis. She had always presumed that overhyped, self-centered jocks would also naturally be entitled, selfish beasts in the sack. Not Logan though, he wasn’t like that... he was entirely focused on Meadow, making sure she was cared for and satisfied.
She was actually surprised over how nice he felt on top of her. A hard body enveloping hers hadn’t been anything she’d ever imagined for herself, but she found that she could enjoy his weight and strength bearing down on her, along with his loving eyes and adoring lips. Being with him was a pleasant revelation, discovering that his leaner, angular body contours were somehow softened by his smooth deference and nuanced touch.
Logan was amazed himself by how willing yet submissive Meadow was in bed. He had seen hints of it before in those confused moments when he wasn’t sure how to read her ever changing moods and vague body language. Her personality had been so cold and distant at first, sometimes being with her now almost felt surreal. Even over the months as he had gotten to know her more, he witnessed her confident, bossier side along with some playful bravado. Considering how much she didn’t like him at first, and how hard she was to get to know, he was astounded by how much safer he felt in her arms than with any other girl he’d ever been with. In bed she became all tenderness and accommodation, and always seemed glowing and contented afterwards. He loved being with her, but he also couldn’t help but wonder where that feisty tiger was hiding?
Meadow knew where... she hadn’t completely set aside her craving for a bigger, softer, and rounder experience. Fleeting thoughts of Logan’s fatter form were never too far from her mind. She profoundly missed those plump and luscious love handles, which were down to a nearly undetectable sliver, having given way to hardened and defined obliques.
A self-imposed guilt dowsed these repressed feelings, but she couldn’t change them. The idea that she might coax out some aggressive animal instincts someday, once he put back on all those lost pounds, was so delicious. Perhaps if, or when his body became softer, she might enjoy a hefty, dominant brute plunging himself into her with reckless abandon. It was too hot not to imagine.
Those thoughts were put neatly away for him, though. She was acutely aware that he faced the biggest athletic pressure of his life, and she certainly wasn’t going to worry him with too much honesty over how she fantasized about the sexy chub that blanketed his body the year before; or heaven forbid, how curious she was about whether he might someday gain well beyond that size. Those desires would just have to be kept locked down, with faith that his naturally thick body would eventually find him again, and expand into her patiently waiting arms.
“Meadow, let me ask... I checked out some of this fat stuff online,” he looked away for a moment, slightly embarrassed himself. He had seen it all, really. Women who were excited by hugely fat guys; women who wanted to make them fatter; feed them... cram food into their mouths until their bellies were overstuffed. It was kind of fascinating, yet also terrifying. How very easy would it be for Logan to be talked into relaxing his diet and indulging? Is Meadow into that kind of thing too?
“Okay,” she tried to be patient with him while hoping to avoid talking about the more athletically sacrilegious aspects of her flab fixation. It wasn’t so much shame that she felt, but she had conflicted feelings about the feeding and gaining aspects of her more deviant fantasies. She never wanted him to feel any more stressed than he already was about his body; he certainly had more than enough of that from every other corner of his life.
“What if we just pretended, or like... well, you could feed me, or whatever, if that turned you on,” he still struggled to find the right words for his proposal, turning even redder. He’d been thinking about this for a few weeks now. If she liked him chubby, maybe she liked the feeding stuff too? He really wanted her to be sexually satisfied, and this could be a way to make her even happier? Logan was in the best shape of his life, which helped his self-confidence in general, but he was also reminded how different Meadow seemed to be than other girls he’d known on the whole weight thing.
“You have been researching,” she laughed and playfully patted his butt.
“Seriously, Meadow,” Logan pulled her nude body close to his and rolled over to hover on top of her, emphasizing his resolve. “I could eat something fattening for you, you know, like, maybe in bed?” he brushed his hand up her waist, flirtatiously looked intently in her eyes and licked his lips, “Would you like something like that?”
She was already aroused by all the fat talk, but the combination of his dominant position along with his open willingness to please her was making her even more excited... Would I like something like that? Oh would I ever...
Logan was so cute and innocently sexy about it; and it was a tempting idea. She couldn’t deny that she would be open to trying a feeding experience, especially since she wasn’t going to have any tangible, fleshy, sensual chub to get lost in anytime soon. But she didn’t want him to jeopardize anything with his hockey career just so she could have a more intense orgasm.
“You have to be careful right now,” Meadow cautioned him sensibly, not yet consenting to the idea. “Camp starts in less than three weeks.”
“I’d run it off,” he already had it planned out. “It would be worth the extra time around the track to see you get more turned on,” he stroked her hair and kissed her forehead, convinced that this could be another pathway to an even deeper physical connection.
Logan felt comfortable that if he splurged in a planned and conscientious way it wouldn’t turn into a spiral of rampant, out of control heavy eating. He still found it strange that Meadow, of all people, might enjoy the sin of dietary indulgence, and yet also be the one to help him stay fit, but it was finally sinking into his brain that this was an actual ‘thing’ for her.
She sighed and smiled, already relenting to his enthusiasm. With his weight down and his hip healthy, he was now running regularly for extra caloric burn. On hot days, he’d work with Meadow doing speed intervals around the indoor running track at the rink. They also got away from the rink and the gym to cross-train outdoors, cycling hills and inline skating on local trails. Meadow normally didn’t love summer’s heat, but with Logan she was enjoying the time with him, rather than hiding alone inside the rink all summer like she used to. It seemed like everything was easier and more interesting with Logan there beside her.
Renate had been right; having him around during her summer training ended up being a perfect plan. Even though they were having some fun, the competitiveness between them hadn’t waned with the onset of their romantic relationship. Meadow saw how much Logan had brought out the best in her, as she seemed to do for him. But more than that, she was savoring the quality time that she could spend with him before she knew they would be apart for many weeks at a time in the fall.
She also loved watching how much athleticism Logan gave every activity; he was totally ready for anything physically. It was really sexy to see his body confidence grow over time, if not his body size. He had always been strong and completely capable, even at his chubbiest; but she was convinced that his head was more to blame than his body for the difference in his athletic enthusiasm and self-assurance. She desperately hoped that he wouldn’t lose that confidence should he put it all back on again. A lifetime of being told he wasn’t as talented or desirable with those extra pounds was a hard mindset to shake. That’s why he belongs with me, she smiled inside herself. I’m here to defend him against that kind of mental garbage.
“So, what do you think?” He pressed her seriously and intently, clearly eager for her approval of his sexy dessert idea.
“I think I love you,” she giggled and brushed his hair away from his eyes. She had to laugh at how romantic of a gesture it was that he was willing to spend extra time around the track just to appease her fetishy side.
“Maybe we do it on Wednesday afternoon,” he rolled over with his brawny arms behind his head, looking up at the ceiling, thinking very pragmatically about the whole plan. “That fits between the long track workouts with Renate, and before weekend hockey practice,” he adorably calculated it into their regular regimen. With Coach Mike’s connections, Logan had been working out on Fridays and Saturdays with the local AHL Admirals training camp sessions, prepping for the rhythm of returning to the NCAA schedule.
“Maybe you can just get yourself back up against me and kiss me,” Meadow loved his determination, even as it related to sexually satisfying her. How could she not look forward to feeding him his favorite summertime dessert: a hot fudge and butterscotch sundae, in her bed, while watching his eyes fill with pleasure and satisfaction?
Logan texted Meadow a link to a Star Tribune story covering a Roseville Oval fundraiser they had attended together on New Year’s Eve, right before she left for World Cup qualifications in Salt Lake City. She clicked and scrolled down, finding a picture of the two of them nested in the text. The photo was captioned, Returning after his red shirt season, Gopher Defenseman Logan Hansen poses with Olympic speed skating hopeful Meadow Rossi. She studied the photo... Logan looked happy, self-assured and gorgeous; she just looked annoyed.
Despite his media wariness and her generally solitary nature, they couldn’t altogether avoid some publicity and gossip with the way their prospects were evolving. Logan’s re-emergence as a key performer with a Division I hockey powerhouse, along with Meadow’s rising star on the US team, earned them both some public chatter about their status as a hot new item.
She immediately called him. “I look kind of bitchy,” she muttered, hoping Logan would reassure her she didn’t really look that bitchy. Meadow had always hated smiling for photos. Posing never felt natural to her. She liked what the camera could capture in her performances so much more.
“You agreed to be in the shot with me,” he reminded her with a small laugh. Her expression did look a little impatient, but that wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for her... Do I really need to tell her that she still looks like the prettiest girl on the planet?
“I did it for you,” she softened her tone, reminding him that he was definitely more of a local sports celebrity than she was. Plus, there was that other calculating reason she had joined Logan for the photo... douchebag Eric was also there. He was obviously watching them together, so she may have gone a little overboard with flaunting their relationship with some public affection too. She knew it was petty, but showing off that happy togetherness with Logan felt like karmic payback for the shitty way that Eric had treated him the year before.
“You look beautiful as always,” Logan let his honesty come out, but he was also a little scolding too. She certainly never needed any extra ego boost about her looks, but he couldn’t help but tell her anyway. As far as his own image was concerned, he was just relieved not to see a picture of himself with a double chin forming under his smile. He didn’t say that part out loud to Meadow though, as she had different views when the topic of his former chubbiness came up.
“It helps to be standing next to the hottest defenseman in the Big Ten,” she threw some flattering praise back at him.
“You’re going to have to get used to the attention, you know,” he reminded her of the public nature of what she was getting herself into.
“So I’m going to be a hockey WAG now, right?” She rolled her eyes at the thought of hanging around those dopey fake tanned and heavily made up puck bunnies who only lived through their boyfriends’ fame and glory. Still, she was willing to be part of the public aspects of his life when it seemed to help his confidence. They hadn’t really talked about major commitments, but she already recognized that he was the kind of guy who craved the security and structure of a relationship. Once again, Logan proved to be pretty much the opposite of her prior assumptions that all hockey guys were all arrogant players who only wanted one thing.
“You’re no WAG Meadow,” he burst out laughing at the ridiculous idea of her sitting for hours watching his practices, or getting all dolled up for his games. “You’re going to be the celebrity. Once the Olympic hype machine starts rolling next year, you’ll be featured in all those ‘hot athlete’ articles. They’ll probably make you flex your abs for the ‘ESPN Body’ issue too,” he teased her more.
“Shut up,” she laughed along but also cringed a little. Meadow never wanted her looks to eclipse her abilities, or to become more of a sex object than a respected athlete; that was downright infuriating given all the hard work she’d given her sport.
“You’ll be click bait, just wait and see,” he warned her playfully, but seriously. Logan was convinced that she was going to get more notice than average for a US team athlete and was trying to prepare her for the inevitability. She didn’t just have the looks; she had the Olympic family story angle, not to mention the cool composure that the sports media machine craves. She acted like that stuff didn’t matter, but Logan could see that she was destined for it.
Logan himself had still tried to keep a fairly low profile, despite the increasing buzz around the team’s winning record. Coach Mike, his dad and Meadow were all voices encouraging him to market himself more for pro scouting, but he had an innate aversion to any spotlight shining too brightly on his image, having been dragged through a very traumatic side of it. Most scouts were already familiar with his roller coaster weight history; and even though he had physically gotten past it many months ago, all of it was delved up again in stories related to his return to the team roster. His reputation as a player who couldn’t keep his weight under control was something he believed he’d never truly get past anyway, so better to just ignore it altogether.
He focused instead on what was happening for him right now. The Gophers had just pulled off two more big victories in the Mariucci Classic, which was an emotional and bittersweet tournament for him, being his last. Growing up, he had great memories of his Dad taking him to so many of those games. They were formative experiences that fueled his hockey dreams and kept him driven to get better, in spite of the deck that always felt was stacked against him. He never forgot his Dad’s arm around him, talking him through all the rules, the strategies and complexities of hockey so that he could learn the game better and ultimately fall in love with it. But he also remembered so vividly and fondly, his father reassuring him, You don’t have to be skinny to skate, son.
“You were fantastic last night,” Meadow changed the subject to the reason she had really wanted to talk to him. She had been streaming his games online from her crappy motel room outside of Salt Lake City. “Your tread was always great, but your rotational power keeps getting even better; the way you’ve been getting the puck across the ice lately, wow,” she gushed.
“Thanks,” he beamed while adjusting an ice pack perched on his badly-bruised arm. One of the many things he loved about his girlfriend was her skating smarts; she knew his technique these days almost better than he did himself. He was still feeling pretty amazing after the huge win against Harvard, making a crucial assist near the end of the third period that helped the Gophers secure their 3-2 final score.
“I think it’s the Pilates and medicine ball reps I made you keep doing all summer,” she reminded him.
“You’re my secret weapon,” he wistfully rubbed his hand along his muscular torso, missing her touch all the more.
Meadow loved when he called her that; it made her feel special in a way she had never quite felt before. She had accomplished a lot for herself, and on her own terms; but it was a new feeling to be part of something more with someone who could see beyond the hard façade she had usually projected out to the world. Those affectionate words told her that Logan found more value in her than her looks or what her body could do on the ice. He viewed her like, maybe a partner?
“I talked to my dad this morning and all he wanted to talk about was you,” she was relieved that her father managed to be okay with his daughter having a boyfriend; her personal life wasn’t something she was used to sharing with her parents and her dad was not easily won over by anyone. “He’s ridiculously excited about your season. My parents are thinking about driving down to Duluth to catch a game when you play there in February.”
“That’s awesome,” he grinned with pride. “My folks usually drive up for the Duluth games, maybe they can finally meet each other... I can introduce them.”
He had just met her parents for the first time over the holidays. Logan and Meadow traveled together up North right before Christmas to enjoy a few days of resort living before getting back to their respective practices and competitions. He was relieved that her parents were so nice to him, having been pretty nervous about it after Renate warned of their serious and protective nature when it came to their only child. Not to mention, he was also unsure how they’d view some common Minnesota kid dating their gifted and cultured daughter. But Paolo and Marien turned out to be very warm and altogether accepting of him as Meadow’s boyfriend. Of course it probably helped that he was also an athlete who could talk hockey for hours with her dad.
Unfortunately, his coaches had explicitly banned him from any risky activities that could aggravate his hip, so there was no snowboarding or downhill skiing allowed. Meadow did keep him busy anyway, dragging him out on her favorite cross-country trails. They also got some training time in together at a local rink; and she loved horsing around with him in the pool every afternoon before dinner. Their best getaway moments, though, were the romantic evenings they enjoyed each other in a tangled bliss, hiding out in her little guest room at the lodge.
To make things easier on Logan, Meadow had instructed her parents ahead of time to make sure there were no holiday treats laying around while they visited. She was on a brief break from her winter competition schedule, so she didn’t need the temptations herself. But more than that, she was trying to be sensitive to his ever nagging appetite and the intense scrutiny on him to maintain his weight. As soon as they arrived, Meadow took him to the grocery store to stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains so they could make their own meals and stay away from the usual rich and decadent resort food.
Logan smiled to himself thinking about it, remembering her playful teasing while they perused the produce area. “It won’t always be like this,” she winked at him knowingly while poking his midsection with a bundle of kale and tossing it in the cart.
“What do you mean?” At first he was genuinely confused about what she was talking about.
“Someday I’ll also buy you desserts,” she caressed her hand along his firm chest, reminding him of the fantastic frozen custard-fueled sex they had shared the summer before. Logan had witnessed a glimpse into Meadow’s more sexually dominant side while the sweet, creamy, melting ice cream flowed down his throat.
“You’ll wait for me?” he smiled, alluding to their growing flirtation over Meadow’s postponed fetish fulfilment.
“I’m very patient,” her fingers trailed from his chest down his toned middle while she seductively looked into his eyes.
He leaned down and whispered in her ear, “You’ll really fatten me up?” knowing that those words and his playfully suspicious eyes would really turn her on.
She gave him a desirous smile that still sent shivers down his spine now, just remembering her eyes and her words... “If you’ll insist,” she deadpanned.
Now, with that relaxing yet short vacation behind them, they flirted with each other from a thousand miles away. Logan’s hand felt along his abs once again, as if to check and make sure he was still lean and hadn’t chubbed up a little just from the sound of her voice and thoughts of that decadent dessert foreplay she loved teasing him about so much. He was gearing up for the most important stretch of games he’d ever played in his life and felt like his team had a real shot at scorching the rest of the Big Ten.
“I can’t wait to see you next Friday,” he told Meadow wistfully. She was going to be back in the Twin Cities for a few days to see him play in a couple of critical conference games against Penn State before leaving with Renate to resume her World Cup schedule overseas.
“Neither can I,” she murmured. “Stay healthy.”
“I miss training with you,” he told her, truly missing her comforting smile along with her warm body.
“I miss other things with you,” Meadow dropped her voice to a lower octave. She couldn’t help but make him crazy while waiting for their next rendezvous. She hoped those words gave him the same delicious longing that she had been keeping nested further inside her own body. While they would wait a few weeks here and there in between sexually satisfying liaisons, Meadow knew she would wait a bit longer for a different kind of gratification; the kind where Logan’s physique would eventually give into its true nature. The mantra that had played in her head her whole life was there for her again, Good things come to those who wait...
“How does it feel?” Meadow sat down next to Logan on his bed. She lifted up his ice pack and gently touched the muscles and tendons along his lower torso; then she studied further down the front of his thigh to inspect the tender condition of his latest injury.
“My hip or my fat?” He smirked, referring to the 20 pounds he’d put on since the end of his college career. Like always, the initial progression of gain was barely noticeable. Only a little crept on in the weeks between his life as a Gopher and his first pro contract with the Quad City Mallards, an ECHL team that actively recruited him once his NCAA season ended. That first bit of weight hardly felt like anything at all, and a tough training camp kept his body in check from further gain for a while. But once he got into the drudgery of a minor league schedule, with the irregular games and erratic travel, some of his old eating habits were sneaking back into his diet. It was inevitable that more weight would steadily pack itself onto his frame over the course of time; it always had a way of snowballing like this...
“Your hip, you idiot,” Meadow half-laughed, and half-insisted. Of course she was interested in the slight but cute new morsels of chub that softened along the sides of his waistline, but his injury mattered the most right now. She had been streaming the game online the night before when she witnessed the rough body check that sent Logan out of the game, and sent her into panic mode.
At her texted insistence, he called her at midnight to reassure her that he was okay, but Meadow still sensed something wasn’t right with him. Tossing and turning all night, she was totally unable to sleep. At five in the morning she threw off her sheets in a huff, pulled herself together and left from Milwaukee to make the three hour trip down to the Quad Cities to see him for herself.
Anxiousness had consumed her thoughts throughout the tedious drive to his sparsely furnished month-to-month apartment in Davenport; it didn’t help that a spring thunderstorm downpour made the long stretch of flat Illinois farmland even more miserable. Her nerves were frazzled enough by lack of sleep and bad weather; but mostly it was her worry for Logan’s wonderful, gifted body.
Logan was anxious himself about sharing with her what had really happened to him out on the ice during that game. He was used to the typical bodily punishment of hockey, but he knew this latest hit took him both physically and emotionally into a much more uncomfortable place, and his heart was unwilling to go along for the ride.
Logan never pretended that hockey meant a big money future, and had always understood that reality very clearly. He may have been a talented player with a reputation for his smarts and natural skating skill; Coach Mike had seen that potential when he recruited him from the regional collection of suburban hockey jocks vying for an NCAA scholarship. He wasn’t NHL on paper though, with his ‘average tall’ height and always uncertain weight; and he wasn’t proven in the speed and physicality demanded by the highest level of the professional game either. It didn’t surprise anyone that he would remain an undrafted free agent. Coach Mike had long prepared Logan for a less than glamorous career cutting his teeth in the minors. From his early days as a Gopher the message was loud and clear: Get as far as you can with it, Logan. But was this as far as he could get himself to go?
Like always, Logan would have to work that much harder to prove himself if he wanted any kind of career beyond college. He had been trying to do just that in the Quad Cities, performing well and receiving growing notice from the local fan base. After a few months of getting used to the pro game and showing his worth, he earned a promotion to the team’s AHL affiliate in Des Moines. He briefly entertained the notion that he could push himself harder, and maybe even get sent up to their NHL partner, the Minnesota Wild, his dream team back home in Minneapolis.
That dream was quickly cut short in early February when he suffered a hamstring strain that benched him and ultimately sent him back down to the Mallards to rehab and re-prove his professional value. Added to that injury, the disruption of moving back and forth between Davenport and Des Moines was really messing with his routine. It didn’t take long for him to put on a few additional pounds, accompanied by concerned comments from his conditioning coach. He was growing more miserable, missing the stability he used to have with the Gophers; the camaraderie of his college teammates; and probably most of all... his loving and supportive girlfriend.
“Aren’t you supposed to be at your strategy clinic?” He questioned her with a smile, trying to deflect her concerns.
“We finished the important stuff yesterday,” she waved him off, undeterred by his attempt to distract her from her laser focus on his pained situation. “Let’s talk about your injury.”
“My hip is the least of my problems,” he sighed, not wanting to fully admit to the amount of pain his whole flexor region was really in, so she didn’t worry even more. But he knew he had to tell her the rest of the news, fully aware that she would freak out more if she found out by reading about his injury status online. “The hit was hard enough to get my bell rung...”
“What?” Meadow’s heart lurched into her throat. She knew he was talking about a concussion. No wonder he seemed kind of foggy when we talked last night, damn him!
He sighed, not wanting her to worry. I’m going to have to talk her down from this one. “They put me into the protocol... it wasn’t a big blackout or anything, I just saw a few stars. I was a little too slow getting up so they pulled me out of the game. I’ll be okay Meadow, really.”
“For now, you think you’re okay.” With this news, she was more worried for his incredible, brilliant brain than his hockey body.
“Meadow, I know,” he tried to explain.
“What are they saying?” She demanded he share his prognosis.
“That I should be back to practice in a few days. And that I need to get back on the bike too when my hip cooperates,” he patted his emerging hint of a belly, referring to that damn archaic method of penalizing the fat guy.
She looked terrified, though, clearly more concerned for his head than his weight. “I hate hockey and their lax concussion attitude.”
“Hey, you take a huge risk hurling yourself at damn near 30 miles an hour around the track, with no helmet or protection at all, so don’t be so quick to judge my game,” Logan sharply reminded her.
“But there aren’t huge men hurling themselves back into me the whole time either,” she angrily reasoned.
“I know, fine, just let me explain everything,” he smiled and caressed her arm to pull her off the edge. She could be so obstinate when she was upset. He couldn’t help but love that she was worried for his future though, because he knew it meant that she cared about having a future with him.
Meadow continued to fume at him, still clearly angry that he was making light of a head injury. Logan had already admitted to her a few times that he wasn’t entirely enamored with the permissiveness on rough checking and fighting in pro hockey, especially in the minors where guys are trying to make a name for themselves. He’d chosen a long time ago to avoid the worst of the poundings by going the college route. But now there was added pressure for him to evolve into an even more physically enforcing role, and he was uncomfortable with the kind of competitive punishment that could jeopardize his post-hockey brain and body.
“I don’t really like this job lately, Meadow; the constant talk of trades, getting sent back down, not knowing where I’m going to go next... the dirty hits, the boarding, and the damn weight stuff starting up all over again... even that stupid pretty boy marketing crap,” he vented his laundry list of complaints in frustration.
Meadow couldn’t help but smile at his ‘pretty boy marketing’ comment. When Logan first started with the Mallards, the team asked some of the players do beefcake photo shoots for a promotional campaign intended to draw more women to games. Meadow knew why Logan was chosen... his charming looks didn’t hurt any team looking to fill their roster with handsome guys who could sell more tickets as puck bunny bait.
She relished those cute pictures of him, shirtless in his hockey pants with his laces half-open at the waist, holding his stick, while his eyes smoldered back into the camera. Logan hated it; he expressed complete mortification to Meadow over the spray-on tan he had to endure, and further admitted to her that his abs and flanks were photoshopped to make him look a little more cut than he really was. Cheesy and doctored as the photos were, she liked looking at them anyway, especially during the many weeks they were apart while she was training and competing at World Cup events overseas.
But lately his team seemed more focused on using him as a heavy weapon than a poster boy. One assistant coach made the mistake of telling him when he arrived back from Des Moines that it was okay to keep on a few pounds if it helped him punish the competition. Without much more unintentional permission than that, Logan’s appetite had him edging back into the upper 230s. It seemed like he had only indulged a handful of times and was already feeling the pressure to bring his weight back down once again.
“As much as I would hate to have you that far away from me, have you considered Europe?” Meadow suggested, trying to figure out a way for him to do what he’s so good at and still stay in one piece. At least some of those leagues regulated the more ferocious aspects of the game that Logan was not enjoying in the minors. He certainly had the skating skills to do well there, although he’d have to quickly lose what he’d gained to raise any team’s interest. “We can train together again this summer, and Renate is probably connected to some agents over there...”
“I haven’t told you that I took the LSAT over the winter,” he abruptly cut her line of thinking off and looked at her with trepidation, unsure what her reaction to the news would be. Logan knew Meadow would be skeptical that he was done with the intensity and rush of adrenaline that he got from competing at an elite level. But as much as he loved the games, he had been thinking rationally about where he was at with his career. The positives and negatives of slogging it out from team to team in the minors were on a virtual balance sheet in his head, with the negatives increasingly weighing against the positives.
“What?” Meadow was shocked. He had sometimes talked about eventually getting back to educational pursuits, but also that he wanted to take advantage of his physical talents while he was still young, strong and healthy.
“And I got accepted to the law school back at UMN,” he couldn’t keep it from her anymore. Originally he was going to wait until the season was over to tell her, just to be sure of his decision, but these latest injuries were cutting that plan short anyway. He could feel the inevitability of it in his body, even more now than with his last major hip injury... the one that ended his junior season as a Gopher and accelerated his big fat slide into red shirt status.
Meadow’s was thrilled for his academic accomplishment; but deeply concerned for his happiness. He wasn’t smiling or frowning either... Is this what he really wants? He’s got to really want it.
“I decided to apply before they forgot my name,” he joked about his success the year before in the Frozen Four that made him a bit more of a local hero.
“Not easy to forget you after last year,” she grinned, reminded of the pride she felt for his senior season accomplishments. He was so impressive on the ice in those games that she may have fallen even more in love with him for his uncanny ability to make slow look fast and fast look slow. She adored his heart more than anything else, of course; but she also truly admired his talents... now that she had gotten over herself and could finally admit how damn great he really was.
He smiled, remembering how Meadow had come to every game she could when she was not traveling with the US speed skating team. She was able to make it back to the Twin Cities for Regionals and then flew to Boston for the Finals... and she was really there for him the night they lost the National Championship. It was the genuine way in which she totally understood his disappointment in defeat; and her loving arms that let him know in the midst of a crushing loss, everything was going to be alright. And all along, she had been there for him with training and moral support, even when they were both apart due to his road games and her competition schedule.
“What about your first love?” she needed to know he wasn’t doing something he’d regret.
“Hockey may be my first love, but there’s more than one way to play it... and I actually do miss school,” he shrugged. “Plus, there’s another love who makes me even happier now,” he rubbed his hand down along the outside her thigh flirtatiously. I do love this determined woman.
Meadow was bewildered by the way he could touch her in just the right way to help her calm down and relax. She sometimes wondered if it was yet another extrasensory talent of his, like his ability to use his body to subtlety knock an opposing player away from the puck; or how he could deliver his breakout pass with a perfect timing and velocity for his winger to skate into it. Logan wasn’t the fastest or most physical defenseman, not even on his own team; but he was so gifted with the finer aspects of the game that she was still a bit skeptical that he was really done with elite competition. “Are you completely sure? You have to be completely sure.”
“I don’t enjoy playing this way anymore,” he admitted. “I was at the top of my game this year and I’m still not even close to getting called up again.” Never drafted, Logan hadn’t even expected to get into the AHL after he was dragged so publicly through his well-known weight issues. If it weren’t for the brief but noteworthy attention he received for his solid performance in the Frozen Four, he questioned whether any of the minor leagues would have wanted him either.
Now he was getting a taste of the pro life, with the next level dangled daily in front of him in the form of constant chatter about other guys getting sent up to the NHL. But Logan only got sent right back down to a lesser league to just keep mucking along. The highest ranks were eternally out of his reach, making the reality of it all a little more agonizing to deal with each day.
“It’s only getting more painful and the rewards are diminishing... Free tuition was almost a better deal than my current contract,” he finally expressed all of the thoughts that had been circulating in his brain for several months. “And they sure as hell won’t cover my medical bills ten years from now. I want to love hockey, and be able to play as I get older, and maybe even coach...or teach my own kids how to play someday,” he smiled sheepishly at Meadow. “But I won’t be able to walk when I’m 40, much less skate if I keep doing this job.”
Meadow wasn’t entirely surprised over his grievances. She thought about his demeanor during and after recent Mallards games she'd attended and he was nothing like the guy he'd been back with the Gophers. He still played hard and executed well enough, but he didn't seem to have the passion or joy; or show any real bond to his current team. He wasn’t quite the same inspired Logan she knew the year before, when he was playing college hockey at his best.
She thought back to the days before she was ever introduced to him, when she assumed he was nothing more than some hockey douche... that was when she first witnessed how much he loved the game when he was on the ice, and the fun he had in playing to the crowd. A couple of years later, after they’d forged a friendship that turned into something more, he seemed even more connected to the game. He'd always find a way to grin and wink at her from the ice, obviously excited to share something that mattered deeply to him with her. And after the final buzzer sounded at all those Gopher games, he'd still be high on adrenaline; and all was right in his world. Even after a loss, he was still positive about the next game, looking forward, ready to study and prepare for his next opponent. These days though, he acted like wins and losses just all blended together, while the physical pain seemed to dig in deeper under his skin, dampening his spirits.
Though she was still a little nervous about the finality of his decision, Meadow was also proud of him for having the maturity to think carefully about his future and make a change he felt he needed to make. “You can play pick-up games at a different rink every night of the week in the Cities,” she grinned in agreement, seeing he had already made his mind up.
“The law school has a hockey team too,” he grinned back.
“Now I know why they accepted you,” Meadow teased him.
“And even if I put on a few more, they’re the kind of team that will still love me,” he laughed, rubbing his tiny bit of promising tummy fat that Meadow had been observing with thinly veiled interest. “You’d probably enjoy that too.”
Meadow’s hands gently followed his down to the soft bit of newly formed chub on his belly, “I’ll love your body whatever happens, but I do want you in one piece.”
“Yeah, one big piece if you get your way,” he shook his head with a chuckle.
“One big and sexy piece,” she corrected him with a lusty grin and gave him a deep kiss.
***“To the victor go the spoils,” Meadow traced Logan’s tummy bulge with her fingers, before pulling him firmly into her body for the intimacy she’d been waiting for weeks to enjoy. She had stripped down quickly for him, with nothing but her red, white and blue panties on, along with a new bronze medal around her neck. She had planned the risqué look in advance of their reunion, hoping that her bold nakedness would make him totally crazy. She was always on a mission to break down any resistance he had left in him to her overt fondling of his swelling midsection.
Logan had just picked her up from the airport, finally back home from her brilliant performance in Korea. As a first timer in Olympic competition, she had only one World Cup season under her belt just the year before. While she hadn’t made the cut in the 1500 meter event, she did manage to qualify to race in the longer 3000 meter competition. Given her relative inexperience, Meadow was projected to land somewhere in the middle of the pack. Instead, she surprised the skating world again with an overachieving performance, coming in fractions of a second ahead of her competition, and earned a bronze for the US Team.
“Spoils alright,” he murmured and shook his head in surrender, feeling her hands all over his paunch. He was just so relieved and happy she was back in his arms after having had to watch her success from half way around the world. Despite his trepidation over his flabby parts being handled so deliberately, he’d really missed the way she made him feel like a sex object; that never gets old.
From the moment his ab definition disappeared, Logan began to feel more ticklish from her meticulous dive into his fleshy developments. Yet the wanton look on her face was too sexy to stop her hands from going wherever they seemed to want to go. Once she grabbed onto his chub, it didn’t take her long to grab onto other things...
Logan had put on even more weight while she was away, despite his best efforts. Well, it wasn’t really his very best efforts... He continued to try and stay as active as he could, but when he’d come across any opportunity to indulge, he was hopeless to resist. So many foods begged to be tasted and his gut demanded to be filled. Meadow’s lust for his big appetite and bigger belly made his brain all the more willing to shut off any capacity to stop short of being stuffed. He had no more professional pressure to hold him back, and his sex life beckoned him to settle into his gradually expanding body.
The connection between his increasing weight and spectacular sex was starting to really influence his choices, and not just in dietary ways. It occurred to him again while getting ready to leave for the airport... his first instinct was to cover up his latest gain with a generously cut 2XLT sweatshirt from his previously fatter days. But as he pulled it over his bulging middle to hide the softer details, he remembered that Meadow was not Abbey, nor Emily; and certainly not a coach or trainer he had to hide anything from... So instead he put on a t-shirt and pair of jeans that fit him well enough last year, but not so well now. The casual outfit really emphasized the jiggly roll of fat that was forced to bulge out gratuitously above the waist of his jeans. It wasn’t super comfortable, but it was just for Meadow, and only for Meadow.
“You look so good,” she had gotten that jacket off immediately and unbuttoned those tight jeans to let his adorable new belly fat fall out in a tremor of relief, “and you feel amazing,” she sighed and went in for a gentle kiss, with her hands massaging his extra blubber, freed from its constricted captivity.
“How come you like this so much?” he put his hand on hers as she rubbed him.
“I don’t know, really,” she admitted with a self-conscious smile and shrug. “Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I grew up completely deprived. I never knew what a little softness even felt like so now just I want my hands on it... on you... all the time,” she looked into his eyes for approval. It had been three years since she shared her feelings for him, but somehow she still managed to blush whenever he quizzed her directly about what he had always referred to as her ‘fat thing.’
Perhaps it was a lingering emotional reticence from the desire that she had so secretly harbored in their earlier acquaintance. Ever since Meadow first met the previously well-rounded and red-shirted Logan, when he last fattened up into similarly pleasing proportions, she kept the memory burned in her mind of the way his pudgy belly and side flab had wobbled through his poly-blend athletic shirts. At last, they were finally coming back to adorn his body, making her completely insane for his re-enhanced physique.
That old repressed restraint may have confused her emotionally, but it was long gone from her libido and nothing could keep her hands off of him these days. She had total access now, free to roam his softening contours, study his smooth, fair skin, and the medium blond hairs that decorated his chest and stomach. And there were those telltale stretch marks; some of which were pale and may have gone all the way back to his chubby youth, living peacefully alongside a couple of fresher looking pink lines.
It had been more difficult to fully survey his body when those rigid and defined muscles were obscuring his landscape. Even the old cuts and scrapes across his arms and legs from the many rough games he’d played were easier to map out across a softened physical terrain. And oh, those delicious little rolls that started to form at his waist and sides when he sat; they would smooth out and slacken across his frame when he stretched his big build across her bed... And nothing could compare to the way his body melted more than ever into hers, with his plush new padding filling in the gaps that his formerly hard body used to leave between them.
Each trip Meadow made back home from her training camps and competitions, she loved the anticipation of seeing Logan, always wondering if any alluring little pounds were added to his thickening body. They’d been apart for so many weeks while she was training in the Netherlands, and then after Christmas while her schedule grew with intensity leading up to the Olympics. She was otherwise completely immersed in putting everything she had into her shot at a medal.
Now that the marathon of training and competition was over, she had never been more impatient for anything than for her flight to land in Minneapolis so she could get her arms back around him and tell him every detail about her life-altering adventure. But the long, transpacific flight home made it last an eternity. She tried to pass the time with some sleep; her body certainly needed the rest and recovery. Instead though, she ended up spending plenty of time in conversation with her coach. With the pressure of Olympic competition behind them, Meadow and Renate could share more relaxed banter and found themselves delving into personal matters.
“Your boyfriend is good?” Renate had questioned her with a playful smirk.
“He is,” Meadow grinned, blushing. Renate had teased both of them quite a bit about their relationship when it first unfolded; the levity actually helped them remain less anxious with each other and stay more focused on training during the days and weeks that followed their first kiss. Renate reasoned to Meadow that it was better to have a little fun with it than try to ignore it and have it be awkward.
“Law school?” Renate inquired more about Logan.
“He’s acing it, as usual,” Meadow loved bragging about his brainiac brilliance too. He was already ranked near the top of his class after the first round of 1L exams.
“Hockey?” She questioned further.
“He’s getting in games with his law school club team; they love him of course,” she bragged more. “And he has his rec leagues too.”
“His weight?” Renate raised her eyebrows with a half-cocked smile.
Meadow shook her head with a knowing grin and looked out the plane window into the dark nothingness for a moment, “He’s staying healthy.” Renate had seen Logan at the airport right before Meadow left for Korea; of course her coach knew how chubby he was getting again.
“Good thing you like him that healthy,” Renate laughed. “I wouldn’t expect him to have gotten any less healthy while you’ve been away.”
“I wouldn’t either,” she defiantly tilted her head with a shrewd smile. Her face was still a bit pink as the topic couldn’t help but elicit some lust inside her. He wouldn’t let me down like that, she mischievously thought to herself.
“Perhaps he’s a little slower now,” she was clearly trying to tease Meadow.
“He’s still a very capable training partner, Renate,” Meadow defended Logan’s strength and stamina, “and he’s been a great coach.”
“He doesn’t replace me though,” Renate crossed her arms and glared at her protégé with a smirk.
“Never,” she grinned back at her beloved mentor. “Now, let’s talk about your girlfriend,” Meadow turned the conversation to Renate’s new love interest, a Canadian speed skating official who was a lot like Renate actually: tough, firm and fit. It was fun to see her ultra-serious coach finally get a little mushy about her own relationship.
They certainly had different tastes in partners, though. While the two of them were training with Johanna in Heerenveen the previous autumn, Renate had informed Meadow’s aunt that her niece liked chubby men. Johanna surprised Meadow by agreeing that a bit of thickness could be a nice quality in a lover. “Probably good to have something extra to grab onto and keep you warm after spending a tough day on the ice,” her Aunt had laughed with a wink.
Renate was unmoved by their banter though. When Meadow then turned to ask Renate if she’d ever date a plump girl, Renate responded blankly, “I don’t know any plump girls.” Her coach was her best female friend, and had always been generally sympathetic about Logan’s weight issues, but this fat business wasn’t something they could really relate to each other about, that was for sure.
As the plane landed, Meadow was informed she’d have one more obstacle before reuniting with her man: the media. Her flight home had several Olympic athletes aboard, so a few local outlets were there at the airport to receive their hometown heroes. Meadow was among the medalists getting interviewed, crediting Renate as well as her Aunt Johanna for the intensive training they had both given her on Dutch rinks, along with cycling many miles out in the hilly parts of the Guelders region in the Netherlands. More and more though, she had come to recognize Logan’s contribution to her athletic development. He had challenged her with training in longer distances and pushing her on faster starts; along with picking up his power building techniques on the slide board and turn cables.
“I was lucky to have the opportunity to train and cross-train with some of the best in the world, in the Netherlands and here in Minneapolis,” she told a reporter. “Having a supportive multidisciplinary team around me made all the difference.”
Those words, while sounding like a canned answer, were so completely true. She used to think she was just fine on her own. She had already mastered the ice, and her kinesiology studies would give her another roadmap to building her body for success. All she really needed was Renate to teach her the nuances of the long track, shave a few more seconds of her times, and that winning would simply follow. But now she knew that she would never have gotten good enough to even get on the US team without her work alongside Logan; and once her heart opened up to him, she opened her mind and body up to so much more.
Logan watched Meadow’s glowing smile and self-assured poise from a distance, with an admiring grin on his own face. He wanted to jump in the middle of the media bustle and steal her away for himself, but he patiently waited some distance from the crowd as she talked to reporters and posed for pictures. He had told her what would happen when the cameras landed on her... that girl is a natural.
When Meadow finished with the reporters, her eyes grazed across the crowd and finally found him. She lit up like a Christmas tree, running to him and embracing him harder than she may had ever done before. She couldn’t help but also observe that he hadn’t lost a single pound, just as Renate had predicted; not that Meadow was hoping for any other outcome, obviously.
It was still February, and he was covered up by a big coat, but she was already feeling tingly knowing that his gorgeous smile and strapping body would be giving her a long awaited reward that very night. When she caught a glimpse of him from behind she literally felt weak in the knees. Meadow had always been into his big hockey butt, but with a little added weight, it was truly a thing of beauty to see his beefy rear packed into those jeans. And oh sweet mercy, those thighs...
Renate smiled as she watched Logan hug and kiss his girlfriend. “Who would have ever thought?” she ribbed them both.
“I always knew she’d come around,” Logan still liked to tease Meadow about her formerly frosty demeanor with him.
Renate laughed and patted him on the back, “Logan, I’ve missed your sense of humor.”
Between his studies, a new law clerking job, and not to mention a very light bank account, going to the Olympics on the other side of the world wasn’t in the cards for him. He cushioned the blow to both of them by reminding her that it was best she not have the distraction, and even suggested that it was wise to set sex aside before big competitions in order to harness that energy for winning; that’s what his coaches always told him anyway. Meadow knew better than that nonsense though... sex with Logan always left her relaxed, invigorated and in sync with her body.
Nonetheless, she earned the medal that was enough to give her a good dose of celebrity. Just as he had expected, she was the subject of several news items and blogger bait, while becoming attractive content to social media channels covering the Winter Games. Almost immediately after the medal ceremony, she was offered a modeling deal with a well-known women’s athletic wear company. Modeling wasn’t her aspiration by any stretch, but it was going to pay the bills she had accumulated during the months that she had been training full time and not earning any money.
Logan was so proud of her success and accomplishments but sometimes he still felt like their relationship was all very surreal. On one hand, it made perfect sense that they had this special connection in mutually understanding what it was like to be a high achieving athlete under the microscope. And they also shared a thriving physical chemistry that he’d never felt with any girl before. On the other hand, he still found himself mystified when she’d look him in the eyes with admiration, love and desire. Had he really won over that stunning, stone cold, and totally unapproachable girl he’d first laid eyes on back when he was only 19 years old? Was she the same girl who at one time could barely look him in the eye?
Meadow’s perspective on their unusual history was a bit more akin to a dark cloud that simply cleared away. She had set that old hostility toward Logan so far aside that she mostly forgot what it felt like to dislike him. He’s just so damn likeable, how could I have ever felt anything else? The irony was not entirely lost on her, considering that it was her aloof unfriendliness that had originally set the negative tone between them. Once the fog of earlier prejudices lifted, it became so obvious to her that she was the right girl for him, on all levels: athletic, physical and emotional.
That emotional part was still tricky though. Over time he’d begun to share more of the deeply buried wounds from his chubby childhood with Meadow. In her heart, she hoped that she could help him heal his recurring feelings of not quite measuring up, especially the persistent noise in his head about his weight. She vowed to chip away at that old baggage with her love, acceptance and unwavering support. She knew she couldn’t single-handedly flip his self-image like a switch, but he’d have her voice in his life now; a voice he valued that would always remind him, you’re incredibly strong and sexy in that big, magnificent body.
It was their most recent Christmas together while visiting his family that she unearthed the clear roots of his insecurities. Meadow had already met his mom and dad a few times before, and they were always perfectly lovely people. But when she met his sister Nicole, she was completely astonished. How could two people raised by the same parents, who both looked so much alike, be so different in temperament and personality?
“Going for the porky look again, huh?” were the first words out of Nicole’s mouth when she walked in the door and saw her brother.
Logan bristled, and was clearly straining to remain above her unkind words. No wonder he had been so tense during their drive down to Edina. He just coolly introduced Meadow to Nicole without responding to the taunt.
Meadow could immediately see the strong evidence of their genetic connection as they were so similarly Nordic looking. Nicole was quite pretty just as Logan was handsome; taller than average, with dark blonde hair, and the same aqua colored eyes as well. She was objectively thin though, while managing to possess a voluptuousness that contrasted Meadow’s more angular, athletic shape. Meadow was never jealous of other women’s bodies, as she relished the skill and power that her own body type gave her to compete among the best in the world. But she sometimes secretly wondered what it would be like to fill a dress with cleavage and curves.
About the only catty thing Meadow could observe about Nicole’s appearance was that she looked rather old for her age. Granted, she was about four years older than Logan, but that put her just a couple of years older than Meadow. She appeared much older than that though, and seemed kind of worn for a woman only in her late 20s. Was it her spiteful personality that had aged her faster?
“The second you give up hockey you immediately go full tubbo?” Nicole shook her head with a nasty half-smile that further conveyed her condescension.
Meadow was quietly fuming for Logan, shouting out from inside of her skin, so what if he’s getting a bit fat again? He been incredibly successful at everything he’s ever done and he looks hotter than hell too!
“Logan hasn’t given up hockey,” Meadow couldn’t completely ignore Nicole’s words, and indignantly defended Logan’s active participation as the star of his law school hockey team, along with his status as the most popular ringer at his weekend pickup games, when he could fit them in his busy schedule. His regular workouts had diminished a lot but he was staying active... just not active enough to keep his appetite and its related pounds from packing themselves back on his gorgeously thick stature.
Nicole had vaguely rolled her eyes at Meadow’s response when his parents came into the living room to greet their daughter. Nicole suddenly became nicer to Meadow, and temporarily ended the insulting line of fire aimed at Logan. But there were several more subtle digs at his size throughout the evening. At dinner, she shot him an obviously judgmental look when his hand reached for a third dinner roll along with another pile of mashed potatoes. Then there were more unkind remarks after he grabbed the biggest piece of his mom’s cherished Swedish apple pie.
“You should follow your girlfriend’s lead and skip dessert,” Nicole commented to him as he loaded the pie on his plate, while she smirked at Meadow as if they were both in on the joke of Logan’s gluttony.
“No, I’m leaving for Korea in a couple of weeks,” Meadow jumped in to defend her pre-competition diet, surprised that she had to remind Nicole given the conversation they’d all just shared about her looming Olympic prospects. “Logan gets to enjoy it for me,” she patted his butt behind the counter so no one else could see the gesture, while he piled a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream onto his plate.
She really didn’t want to torture herself by even tasting it, but when Logan offered her ‘just one bite,’ she relented for his sake; and it seemed like a good way to push back on Nicole’s judgmental tone. “Mmmm, wow, that is good... I really hope you make this pie for me when I get back,” she praised his mom’s baking skills.
“Of course, I’d love to make a celebratory pie for you,” his Mom nodded. Meadow loved how ‘Minnesota nice’ his parents were; unfortunately that was in stark contrast to his sister’s personality.
“Whipped cream?” Meadow offered Logan further indulgence for his already heaping plate of dessert, brushing her other hand along his arm in reassurance. She knew she was probably going too far in encouraging him like this in front of his family, but she wanted his sister to see that she loved Logan just as he was, including his porky parts; and that she would never go along with scolding him about his considerable appetite, especially at a holiday meal.
After dinner, Mrs. Hansen talked privately to Meadow. “I’m sorry if their sibling rivalry made you uncomfortable.”
“Does she always treat him like that?” Meadow was just relieved someone had acknowledged it.
His mom nodded with an apologetic sadness in her eyes. “Nicole has always been hard on him; from the day we brought him home. I honestly don’t think she ever got over being replaced as the baby of the family.”
“That’s depressing,” Meadow blurted in honesty. “I was an only child... I grew up wishing I’d had a brother or a sister. They don’t know how lucky they are.”
His mom nodded more in understanding. “Logan has grown up a lot, but Nicole hasn’t been around enough to work through her issues,” she explained more. “I hope someday they realize that they both need family.”
Meadow nodded back in agreement. Neither of them had big extended families nor many relatives in the area. Logan had a lot of good friends, but they weren’t family. Meadow knew her circle was even smaller, but she understood why; being a child of immigrants and preferring a mostly solitary lifestyle had kept her own personal network very limited.
“Logan’s uncle...my brother, was a big man,” Mrs. Hansen explained to Meadow the possible roots of Logan’s heaviness, as though she hoped Meadow wouldn’t join the bandwagon of blame for her son’s for his large appetite and related predisposition to roundness. “He’s struggled his whole life...”
“He’s also accomplished so many things that matter so much more,” she wanted to reassure his mom that she wasn’t going to be another source of negativity. “His weight doesn’t matter to me at all, truly.” Meadow knew that was a bit of a while lie though, as his weight did matter to her, but not in any way that she cared to elaborate on with his mom, of all people.
Then Mrs. Hansen said something that touched Meadow deeply. “Logan’s Dad and I are just really happy he has found someone who cares for him like you do. He’s always had to put up a tough front... but he’s really a wonderful, big, sweet kid; and we can see he loves you very much.”
“I know,” she blushed and choked up a little, “I feel the same way about him.” At least with Logan and his family, she was expanding her circle in a healthy direction. If only his sister could be less horrible...
Later that same night, back at Logan’s apartment, while enjoying the way his stuffed and swollen tummy felt up against her body in bed, Meadow dug a little deeper into his family issues, with the blunt honesty that he had seemed to have gotten used to from her. “Is your sister always a total bitch to you?”
“She generally is,” he shrugged complacently. He hated the way Meadow had to witness their sibling dysfunction, but knowing that she was sympathetic when it came to the weight stuff helped him get through it without lashing out; and kind of lessened the sting of Nicole’s taunts.
“She’s obviously jealous of you,” Meadow cut to the chase quickly. She had figured that out within minutes of seeing their dynamic, and his mother’s words only cemented the notion.
Logan shook his head with a laugh, “Hardly. She was always the popular one, everything came easy to her... she never had to struggle at anything.”
“I guess that left you with being the talented, brilliant and hard-working one,” Meadow retorted.
In spite of those flattering words, Logan stayed sullen, “She’s always had a way of making me feel like crap.”
“It’s not right what she does to you,” Meadow consoled him. “But you have nothing to feel like crap about either.”
“It was nice of you to defend me tonight,” he forced a smile, “but you don’t have to get involved.”
“I couldn’t help it. I mean, really? Making a federal case out of other people’s dietary choices at a holiday meal?” Meadow was having a hard time dropping her urge of protectiveness.
“I used to throw it back at her... ripping on her constant stream of dirtbag boyfriends, calling her slutty, and making fun of her boring accounting job,” he admitted. “But that got old and made my parents even more miserable.”
Meadow nodded quietly. She had been rather annoyed by his lack of response to Nicole’s insults, but she now understood his restraint and admired him all the more for it.
“It’s not like I have to see her very often,” he explained further. “My life improved a lot when she decided to go to college in Arizona and ended up staying there. Now she only comes home every couple of years so I just ignore her when I have to see her.”
“She’s seriously suffering from acute sibling jealousy,” Meadow reiterated what was undoubtedly true. No matter how superior Nicole may have acted, she must have carried those immature childhood resentments pretty far along through the years. And she probably lived a bit in his shadow too once he began to achieve at a very high level in athletics and academics; all of which likely fueled even more antipathy between them.
He still looked at her with cynicism all over his face.
“You are an incredible, strong and dignified man,” she brushed his bangs away from his ocean-colored eyes and looked intently into them. “Whatever your weight is doesn’t change any of that.”
He softened his expression and wrapped his arms fully around her.
Meadow was grateful he’d confided in her, but it also gave her fantasies a reality check. He had come a long way in accepting her desires, as she could get away with a lot of belly grabbing and fat probing in bed, along with those playful dessert feedings too. As long as it was leading up to sex, in the heat of passion, or while basking in the intimacy afterwards, he seemed pretty game. But she wasn’t about to ask him to get into the more fetishy things she thought about like weigh-ins and fat talk; those ideas came too close to what had wounded him in his younger years. Sometimes a fantasy is just a fantasy and our reality is far too good to jeopardize it.
“This is what brought us together in the first place,” Meadow gently grabbed a good handful of Logan’s plush belly and looked into his eyes with playful love.
“But you’re not going to help me lose it this time, are you?” he gave her a doubtful smirk.
“It’s not so much,” she pouted a little, defending his growing bulk while softly massaging that same handful. It was definitely ‘so much’ these days, but there was no reason to make him more anxious about it by admitting as much.
He smiled at her reassurance, however sexually motivated he knew it was. But through his smile he winced a bit, still feeling some lingering pain in his shoulder. Logan took a hard check from a mediocre skater at a pickup game a couple of nights before, which had given him enough pain and swelling to raise Meadow’s concern level. He liked to fit the occasional night game into his intense law school and clerkship schedules, but even among the higher caliber rec league guys he was realizing that amateurs could be more dangerous than the elite skaters he was used to going up against. After witnessing him grimace through another sleepless night, she demanded he go get an x-ray to check for a fracture.
The doctor visit that afternoon gave him a different dose of reality though. He hadn’t stepped on a scale since he left the minors to start law school a couple of years ago. Of course he knew he was getting a lot bigger and already expected the number to be quite a bit higher. But like he’d experienced before, the amount he actually gained caught him off guard. He was now heavier than the last time his weight spiked up, back when Coach Mike hung the red shirt on him... when Meadow came into his life.
When he got home that evening, Meadow was in the midst of making a honey garlic cashew chicken stir fry that she knew he’d devour. Since they’d moved in together last summer, she loved having a reason to cook healthy homemade meals that could satisfy Logan’s huge appetite. If he’s going to eat that much, it had better not be junk.
“Is it serious?” She walked over to give him a welcome home kiss and then gently touched his wrapped shoulder.
“No, just a sprain, like I thought,” he muttered, seeming rather drained. “I need to get an ice wrap on it again tonight.”
“Well, it’s good you know for sure that it’s not something worse,” she reminded him.
“I know,” he was downright brooding now.
“A sprain is easy for us to take care of, so why the grumpiness?” She was confused. They both knew plenty about caring for the bumps and bruises that came along with sports, and a sprained shoulder was nothing foreign to either one of them.
He just shrugged.
Her eyebrows furrowed with more concern. “Logan, come on, what’s wrong?” He was rarely very moody, but when he was, she could zero in on his angst like a hawk.
“I wasn’t a fan of the part where they got me on the scale,” he admitted begrudgingly.
Of course, the scale... oh poor Logan. Meadow had been thinking quite a bit lately about how delicious it would be to put him on a scale, which made her feel even guiltier. One of her recurring fantasies was getting him up on a creaky old scale that would utterly groan as he stepped on it; the numbers climbing higher than ever, while his belly fat surrendered downward to gravity’s relentless forces... but for now, something like that was probably out of the question. She would always have to be a little patient and sensitive with his weight issues.
Logan had his own internal conflict between the annoyances that accompanied a growing body and the sheer delight it provided to Meadow. He didn’t love being fatter than ever, but as much as she seemed to try and hide her interest in just how heavy he was getting, he clearly saw her face reveal an eagerness for more information about this doctor visit and weight report.
He shook his head with a smirk, “You like that I got on the scale, don’t you?”
She just sighed deeply with her eyes smoldering into his as he took another big bite of his dinner. Then a calculated smile spread across her face to try and lighten his mood about it.
“You’re such a pervert,” his guard lowered a little, teasing her in return.
“You don’t have to tell me anything more, you know,” she shrugged nonchalantly, sticking her fork into her veggies.
She did want to know more, though. He certainly seemed even bigger than when they first began training together more than four years before. His belly wasn’t just pooching out, it was lowering a bit from its own weight. His love handles weren’t just soft and pliable either; they were now bulging well over his waistline. His broad, powerful frame made him look more like a bulky football lineman than a lean hockey defenseman, which was a delicious transformation in her estimation.
She adored the way his gorgeous face had softened too. She loved watching him while he studied in bed at night, reading cases and taking notes. He was oblivious to how boyishly handsome he was with his cheeks rounded out a bit... while that kissable chubby chin had re-emerged to underline his mischievously infectious smile.
She was always feeling her way through his insecurities though, along with her residual weakness for wanting to quantify his size. Sometimes he was relaxed about his weight and sometimes he seemed not okay with it at all. So which will it be tonight?
“Maybe I’ll wait until later to tell you the details,” his previously sour mood turned into something more playful. “I’ll use it as leverage,” he offered her a cheeky grin, taking a huge bite of his dinner.
That proposition turned the evening in a more positive direction. The implication that he would use what he saw on the doctor’s office scale to sexually entice her was such a massive turn on. “I love your leverage,” she flirted back, sorting out in her head which position would best accommodate his shoulder injury. Something sideways, injured shoulder up, his big body tight up against mine for support, with that tantalizing belly pouring right into me...
It didn’t take long after a dinner of more flirtations, and a kitchen clean-up that involved some mutual grabs and caresses, that she lured him to their bedroom. “With this injury, you’ll need help getting out of these clothes,” she rubbed both her hands along his wide, softened chest and down his arms. Man, his body keeps getting more and more luscious.
“I suppose I do,” he was amazed by how strong her libido was lately. Even with his shoulder injury she wasn’t going to hesitate in seducing him.
Meadow sat him on the bed and carefully removed his sling. Unbuttoning his shirt, she liberally stroked her free hand along the wonderfully flabby paunch resting in his lap while she kissed and nuzzled his neck. He had definitely put on more weight over the last few months since they’d moved in together. Even though he worked out with her at the rink some mornings and was still very powerful in the weight room, he had really increased his eating in both quantity and frequency. Meadow was often astounded, if not incredibly turned on, by the amount he could pack away.
“I guess I’ll need help undoing these pants too,” he went right along with her stripping seduction.
“I guess you will,” she grinned and helped him stand up. Watching in awe as his pudge jiggled in response to the unbuckling, unbuttoning and unzipping, she knelt down between his legs to help him get his khakis off. Her fingers played with the waistband of his boxers, noticing how tight they were getting where his tummy was pushing against its limits. “You’d be more comfortable without these too,” she slipped them down.
“Mmmm hmmm...” he smiled in acquiescence. The discomfort that had been swirling around his shoulder seemed to dissipate as Meadow’s intimate touching turned into a very satisfying pain reliever.
Stroking him between his legs, he became even harder. “So, this leverage you have,” she raised her eyebrows and looked up at him, licking her lips.
He knew what she wanted to know, but he wasn’t going to tell her just yet. Still on her knees, she tested his fortitude by taking him to the brink with her tongue and lips. Logan groaned in pleasure. “Meadow,” he groaned again, “my shoulder is going to be permanently destroyed if you keep doing that to me.”
She nodded with a grin, seeing how he was about to fall over from carnal satisfaction, and coaxed him into a more comfortable position on the bed.
“Now, back to that leverage,” she murmured doing a little strip tease for him, knowing how much he loved watching her get completely nude. Carefully crawling across his body, she pressed herself against him for the least shoulder impact and the most body to body touching. He fit so well into her. The combination of his rock hard erection and his lush, chubby body was the exquisite fantasy she had imagined so many times, but had fought so hard against entertaining mentally during their early months of training together.
As he moved inside her more powerfully, her breathing quickened. He knew she was close. He whispered in her ear, “Do you really want to know?”
“Know what?” She smiled coyly, knowing exactly what he was talking about. She had been eagerly waiting for him to share.
“Don’t be shy, Meadow,” he got bossy now. The way she responded to his sometimes assertive and pushy tone in bed really turned him on too. “Does it get you off, wondering how much I weigh now?”
“Yes,” she admitted without hesitation, as intensifying arousing sensations built up all over her body.
“I’ve been getting kind of big lately,” he breathed through his words, deliberately pushing her buttons. He wasn’t really excited by his increasing bulk, but he knew his audience, and was willing to use it, now that he had it to use. She’s not so complicated now, is she?
“You’ve been getting so sexy too,” she grabbed his generously softened side and pushed herself firmly into him again, feeling the depth of his thrust.
“I think the nurse who weighed me was pretty shocked by the number,” he kept his eyes fixed on hers, drawing out her fetish even more. “Apparently I weigh even more than I look like I do.”
She nodded, so aroused by his words. His large frame had always masked his true poundage. Even when he was at his leanest, he was still listed with one of the highest weights on the roster. She loved that her man would now more than ever be the biggest and heaviest player on any team that he played for.
“How much?” her voice pleaded. She knew he liked it when she begged a little for what she wanted.
Logan could feel she was at the edge of ecstasy and teased her a bit more, “I’m not sure if I should tell you,” he brushed his hand through her hair and tenderly kissed her before delivering an intense plunge of his body into hers. When they were intimate, he was captivated by her beautifully flushed face, lacking her usual control and coolness. After all this time, her enigmatic temperaments were still fascinating to him.
“Tell me, please, just tell me, how much?” Meadow begged him more, barely eking out the words.
“Three hundred and thirty two pounds,” he whispered in her ear. Her body instantly let go and she felt every one of those 332 pounds making her come. The vibrations in her body had a corresponding effect, as he then released into her.
They embraced in a sweaty lock for a moment while she gazed in his eyes. “It’s nice of you to play along with me,” she smiled softly. Her glowing cheeks mostly hid the blush of self-consciousness that she sometimes still felt about her fat fixation.
“When it feels like this, I don’t mind at all,” he caressed her face and kissed her lips.
It wasn’t the number itself that pushed her over the orgasmic edge, it was the sexy way he built up excitement around it. Still, she couldn’t help but do the math in her head. He’d put on more than a hundred pounds since they’d first made love over four years ago. Bigger than he’s ever been before, she ran her hands along his wide back, and he’s got the frame and strength to manage even more...
She helped him lay his sore shoulder back on a raised pillow and enjoyed the feelings of post-coital love that warmed her body. “I love you,” she murmured.
“I love you, Meadow,” he responded.
“All of you,” she reassured Logan, cuddling his abundant tummy.
“There sure is plenty of me,” he just sighed, not flinching from her gut handling as much as he used to.
“Mmmmm,” Meadow just purred approvingly, her fingers gently caressing along the hang of his soft middle, then grazing outline of his deeper belly button before finding their home in a developing side bulge while she nuzzled into his cleavage. She loved the way Logan’s chest was looking with the added flesh. Those plump mounds were as hot as the rest of his burgeoning bulk. The first fifty or sixty pounds had landed and spread evenly around his lower torso, and throughout his body, thickening him all over as they had before. But lately his well-rounded pecs and their adjacent side rolls were a sign of more serious changes happening.
“I’m glad you approve,” he let his belly relax more into her loving hands. Logan could never complain about anything that made sex even better with the woman he knew was his true love and soul mate. Maybe that was a corny thing to think, but how could she not be? She understood his flaws and still wanted him unconditionally; whether he was hard or soft, pro athlete or perpetual student, winning or losing... or gaining, she was there for him, loving him right back.
He used to wonder about that tiger inside of Meadow; cool, confident and independent, while something fierce and untamed lurked in her eyes. But now he could see that she was all of the above, and yet so much more. She brought all of her paradoxical charms to their bed nightly, helping every ache not feel so painful, rendering old insecurities more irrelevant each day, and making his body feel damn amazing.
There was no question that Logan was growing truly fat, but he also had a new kind of fire in him. Where his eyes used to suggest a want of approval from Meadow, now they more often conveyed a desire for conquest. His competitive instincts had not left him at all; they had simply shifted into other outlets, including the delicious challenge to give and get total sexual satisfaction.
He grabbed her around her waist and held her closely. Now that’s the big hungry brute I love, Meadow nestled into the crook of Logan’s neck, surrounded by his strong and softened arms.