The Main Line
"Allie Cat, darling, are you there?"
"Yes, Jane," Allie sighed looking at the clock. She usually called her
mother by her first name, especially when she was peeved. It was only
6:15 in the morning. "Have you forgotten that it's six hours earlier
"Oh dear, sorry," her mother sighed, "Well, this will get you out on
the courts early. What's the weather like there?"
"Hot," Allie rolled her eyes. It was July, what did she think it would
"How were the fireworks?" Jane wanted to know.
"The usual," she didn't feel like having a big conversation about who
did what at the country club, and definitely didn’t want to discuss
With her brother now living in California, Allie had the place to
herself for the summer, not including the cleaning crew, grounds
service and security watch. Her parents were both in Europe. Her
father, Kenneth, was spending a few months commuting between Prague and
Zurich to become acquainted with the major international offices of a
Fortune 500 corporation in his new role as the CEO. Jane decided to
take a sabbatical from her professorship and join him overseas. She was
researching her latest work, delving into Marie Curie's impact on
nuclear physics, staying in Paris during the week, and traveling to
Zurich to be with Kenneth on the weekends.
She was due to reunite with them in Geneva for a few days of
sightseeing and a couple of more days with her mother in Paris before
heading to Rome for her junior year abroad with her best friend, Maia.
It was going to be fabulous, she figured, getting away from the moneyed
suburban Philadelphia crowd of her youth and the pretentious Lilly
girls she ended up living with at her sorority at Cornell.
She wasn't particularly fond of the Greek life, but her mother and
grandmother were Alpha Ph so she was pledged by default. Allie had
rejected Jane's wishes that she attend Bryn Mawr nearby so that she
could study at one of the finest architectural schools in the world.
Going along with the sorority plan was a compromise to ease her
mother's disappointment she wouldn’t attend the family alma mater.
"Savor your summer vacation," Jane had urged Allie before leaving in
May. "You have your whole life to work, so just enjoy yourself while
you can." But Allie now regretted heeding this advice. She had to admit
to herself that she was a little bored. Her volunteer work at
Children’s Hospital only filled about 20 hours a week, and a girl could
only play so much tennis and swim so many laps. It was getting old. But
it was July now, too late to get a job or take a summer class.
Aside from her athletic pursuits and work at the hospital, she filled
her time sketching building concepts and layout plans for museums and
urban green space that harkened back to classic yet ornate styles and
still incorporated modern, sustainable building and design principles.
Her dream was to work in urban planning, and her passion was historic
"Your father told me to call and remind you that the contractors start
tomorrow," her mother's voice sounded tinny from an obviously poor
roaming signal on her mobile. "So don't get upset if you see some
strange men walking around the grounds."
Allie's heart sunk. She liked to lounge by the pool in private and not
get leered at by some dirty old men. She really should have gotten a
full-time job. "Great. Do I have to let them in?" She asked.
"No, they were given a temporary access code so you don't have to worry
about managing the gate. They're just doing some stone repair and
maintenance around the grounds, so you should be able to sleep in all
you want," Jane offered with a hint of sarcasm in her voice. "But it
would be nice if you offered them water or lemonade once in a while. I
didn't raise you to be a snob."
Oh please, Allie thought to herself, we are total snobs...
just bleeding-heart liberal ones.
Now wide awake, she took her mother's suggestion and rode her bike over
to the Cricket Club tennis courts and played a few sets with friends.
Well, they weren't really her friends, really, just privileged girls
her age who had plenty of free time. After a couple of short matches
she joined them for iced tea and listened to them complain about their
lives despite the advantages staring all of them in the face.
"Hey Allie," she felt a tap on her shoulder. It was Jimmy Oliver.
"Hi Jimmy," she beamed back at him. He looked especially handsome today
with his summer tan in tennis whites; there was no question about it.
James Newton Oliver III had always been considered the hottest guy at
the club. When they were younger he rarely spoke to her, but once she
shed her chunky adolescent awkwardness and transformed into a svelte
sorority co-ed, he began to take notice.
When she came home from college after her freshman year, he was already
friendlier to her, saying hello and exchanging pleasantries. He spoke
more to her in a few weeks’ time than he had in their entire lives
growing up in the same social circles. Fast forward to a summer later,
at the club's annual Independence Day party, he invited her on a
private walk and kissed her behind the pro shop.
His attention and flirtations were exciting yet confusing to Allie. He
was the guy that all the girls wanted. It was like an annual
competition, every summer; as far back as she could remember. Which
girl, or girls, would win the affections of Jimmy Oliver? Not only was
he extremely good looking, his family owned a chain of car dealerships,
allowing him to zip around the wealthiest neighborhoods in the
Philadelphia suburbs in his black Porsche 911.
Allie never imagined she would be on his list. But now, her youthful
insecurities seemed like they could be finally put to rest by his
newfound interest in her. He was a great catch and she found herself
primping and posing for him whenever he came around. But buried in her
heart, she felt an underlying annoyance that he only took an interest
in her once she became pretty enough for him... however shallow people
define pretty. If he was such a great guy, what was his excuse for
treating her like chopped liver when they were younger?
"You should really sign up for the Hackers tournament. You were kicking
some serious butt out there today," he praised her, ignoring the girls
sitting next to her who's butts she just had kicked.
"I don't know, I'm not really competitive like that," her modesty was
always close to the surface and she shied away from his suggestion.
"You've gotten really athletic, Allie, you’d dominate."
She smiled politely but said nothing. Her neck felt hot with
embarrassment and irritation that he had alluded to her weight loss
like that, as if her modest reduction suddenly made her a good tennis
player. She had always been good; he just had never noticed until now
that she was a size 4. If anything, she was less fit. She knew that her
periodic starvation tactics had reduced her strength and endurance.
"We should catch a movie or something," he was almost asking her out.
"Sure," she smiled nonchalantly. She couldn’t tell if he was serious or
just making flirty conversation. She couldn't assume anything with a
boy that perfect looking.
"Friday?" he suggested, his perfect teeth now gleaming from the
sunlight through the window. "I'll pick you up at seven?" He made his
intentions more clear.
"Do you need directions to my house?" She asked him, feeling a little
shocked, but triumphant that she hadn't acted too eager.
"No," he laughed at her offer, "Everyone knows where you live, Allie,
just be sure the security team knows I'm coming," he joked. "See you
Friday," and with that he sauntered away.
Allie felt stupid for acting like she lived in a normal house tucked
away in the suburbs. She lived in an American palace with enormous
architectural significance. But she often felt ill at ease with her
family's status and wealth, which made even the more prosperous in her
community seem quite ordinary.
The seven-acre estate had been in her mother's family since its
nineteenth century construction. Jane often joked privately that her
position in academia didn’t cover the property taxes. It was Kenneth's
career as a high-ranking corporate executive that bankrolled their
daily lifestyle. And all the while, as sole heir to the family's trust,
Jane accumulated thousands of dollars in compounding monthly interest.
Allie's birthright was evidenced daily by a picture that hung in her
bedroom. It was a black and white photograph of her great-grandmother,
the young maven of her family's railroad fortune, posing with her
carefree Bryn Mawr College contemporaries, including a very young and
gorgeous Katherine Hepburn. Allie adored the picture, as if she didn’t
entirely realize how much pressure it ladled on her. She was the next
in a line of Beaumont socialite beauties tasked to carry on the legacy
of poised, accomplished young women who do just as they should.
Her mother, in her youth, briefly took exception to those rules. A
striking beauty in her own right, Jane had broken from the debutante
mold for a few years, having participated in the civil rights Freedom
Schools movement while still in college. After graduating from Bryn
Mawr during the Summer of Love, she pursued a bohemian lifestyle in
Greenwich Village, ensconced in art and intelligentsia culture at New
York University. By the mid-seventies she had earned her doctorate in
cultural studies with an emphasis on Victorian science.
In 1975, when Allie's great-grandmother passed away, Jane was
bequeathed the estate. Upon her return home, she took an academic
position at Haverford College and later at Villanova. Within a couple
of years, she was married to Kenneth Turner, the Wall Street wizard son
of a family friend, and quickly found her way back to Main Line
society. The year after her wedding brought the birth of their son,
Holden Montgomery, and three years later, Alexandra Catherine was born.
Somewhere along the way, after settling down with marriage and a
family, Jane's progressive ideals became watered down by her duties of
marriage, motherhood, the tenure track and their increasingly
conservative society. So much so, that Jane's presence in Allie's life
had become more as a social guidance counselor than a philosophical or
feminist mentor. As such, Allie figured Jane would be thrilled to know
Jimmy Oliver asked her daughter out on a date, which seemed like a good
reason to keep it to herself, at least until the Main Line social
grapevine news made its way over the ocean.
"Holy shit, girl, Jimmy just asked you out," Tara whispered loudly as
he sauntered away.
"So you're the lucky one this summer," Beth added in a backhanded
reminder that he never stuck with any one girl for very long. Allie
didn't care though. She loved that they were green with jealousy. Tara
and Beth were pleasant to her now, but they hadn't been very kind to
her during their teenage years at the Baldwin School.
It never stung more than memories of a horrifying mother-daughter
fashion show. Allie was in her peak chunky phase was about two sizes
too big for the size 10 dress that her mother had chosen for her. The
girls snickered in the changing room as her mother fiddled with the
zipper, trying to pull it up over her bulges that were enhanced by the
silk blend that couldn't reach around her burgeoning tummy.
She never forgot the humiliation as she walked red-faced along the
fabricated stage, feeling her pudge test the seams of the ugly drop
waist, sleeveless flower print dress. After the show was over, she
overheard them laughing with some other girls about her "flabby rolls."
She wasn't that big of a girl, but to their rigid standards she might
as well have been morbidly obese.
She spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and obsessing about what
she would wear on her date with Jimmy. Perhaps something body hugging
and fabulous would extinguish any lingering memories he might have of
her from her chubby years.
Allie awoke to a loud humming sound. She peered out of her window and
saw a large case of tools on a good-sized workbench. The humming sound
continued from what sounded like the other side of the mammoth house,
near the front. Annoyed and wanting to know the source of the obnoxious
sound, she descended the stairs to the library and peered out the front
window. There, just a few feet away from the window, she saw the back
of a plump figure pressure washing the stone walkway that trailed
around the vast home and into the gardens.
Not wanting to seem creepy but still strangely curious, she quickly
tiptoed away from that window and headed over to the alcove window in
the great room so she could peek around the corner and see his face.
She found herself smiling and her body warmed as he turned, allowing
her to see his jet-black hair, great cheekbones and flawless yet
slightly freckly tan skin. She couldn't help but think that he was
gorgeous, even if he was quite chunky too. But boys could always get
away with a few extra pounds... which only reminded her that it was her
duty to stay thin. She snuck out through the garden entrance, hopped on
her bike and slipped away to the club for her morning workout.
Allie avoided seeing Jimmy at the club that day by confining herself to
the fitness room and working on the elliptical and treadmill. She felt
more self-conscious now that he had commented on her smaller body. She
wished that she could go join a public gym so he would only see her
socially when she had her hair, makeup and outfits just right. Not to
mention how nice it would be to be able to go somewhere and not be
known as, "the Beaumont girl."
Of course she knew that her mother would never agree to buy a
membership at a public club. She could hear her now... "Why would we
send you to some sweatbox in Ardmore when we already pay for you to use
the best money can buy? I'd rather donate an extra gym membership to
charity, wouldn't you?" That was Jane; only the best... and give away
As she pedaled home, she remembered that she probably wouldn't be able
to sneak back through grounds and would have to ride right past the
cute and chunky pressure washing guy to get her bike back into the
garage, which made her feel inexplicably awkward. As she came up the
drive, she saw that he was shirtless now with his body displaying a
distinct jiggle as he continued his work around the very lengthy
circumference of her home.
Her timing was terrible. As she got closer, he was right there in front
of her pathway to the garage. Staying on her bike, she set her foot on
the ground and paused while he worked. She noticed his long shorts were
a little tight around his rear, and did nothing to hide the mild but
noticeable thickness of his thighs. When he turned to find her there,
just a few feet away from himself, his big, dark eyes bulged from
surprise. He immediately stopped spraying.
"Hi, um sorry," she managed to say as she walked her bike over the
stones he had been so diligently cleaning. She glanced down his bare
body and witnessed beads of sweat trickling down his smooth, blubbery
torso. He was clearly a bit fatter than she had initially thought.
Allie felt a funny feeling in her lower abdomen that she couldn't
explain but she knew she felt attracted to him; after all, he had a
But what she was feeling felt more forbidden and it was very
unnerving... and embarrassing. Imagine, letting one's fat belly hang
out in the open like that? Who would do such a thing? She moved quickly
toward the garage, feeling the heat of his eyes on her while she
entered the code, waited for the garage door to open and dragged her
Allie had developed a bad case of restless nerves about her date with
Jimmy. She was on the schedule at the hospital, so at least she had
something to do the rest of the day besides think about how little they
had in common besides the club and living in the same general vicinity.
She felt inexperienced and tongue-tied around him, as if the part of
her brain that was funny and interesting simply shut down in his
Stepping out of shower, she heard the familiar sound of the pressure
washer emanating from below her window. A few days of intricate
cleaning had moved the cute, chubby shirtless boy around to the area
below her wing of the residence. She wrapped herself in her bathrobe
and tiptoed to the window, as if he could possibly hear her approaching
from down below, over the whining din of the machine in his hands. He
had his shirt back on this morning, but she wondered aloud with
amusement, "It’s going to be another hot one, so... when is it going to
come off today, Tubby?"
She felt a pang of guilt saying it out loud, despite the fact that no
one was around to hear her. It all seemed very improper, taking
perverse joy in his plumpness and then mentally teasing him like that.
She was not immune to the ache of having been ridiculed for her own
formerly chubby figure; it didn't seem right for her to turn it around
on someone else, did it? But she couldn't control those kinds of
Even so, she forced her brain back to her volunteer work where her
humor and wits never failed her. She always looked forward to spending
time with the children there; they seemed to bring out her very best.
They regularly astounded her with a maturity and insight that seemed so
lacking in the entitled, ungrateful complainers she knew from her
college and social circles. It was a talent she was happy to find
within herself, to help, in some small way, get these kids through
their challenges. And more importantly, she was proud she was strong
enough to save her tears for the commute home, where they couldn’t see
her aching over the unfairness of illnesses that disrupted their
beautiful young lives.
After arriving back from the hospital, Allie snuck down to the pool to
clear her emotions. She ended up swimming a few extra laps in an
attempt to work off the extra dressing she ladled on her strawberry
spinach salad at lunch. She hated that she had become consumed with
calories in and calories out, but it had become a way of life for her.
She had begun to fall down the slippery slope of body obsession after
the humiliation that haunted her at that mother-daughter fashion show.
It started with a prepackaged food plan and twenty lost pounds. She was
down to a size 8 in time for the annual family ski trip to Aspen, where
she broke her leg and consequently gained most of it back. Once her leg
healed and she resumed regular exercise, she spent another year
struggling to get back down to a single digit size.
The sorority pressure to be even thinner was instantaneous and brutal.
That's when Allie's eating habits became more obsessive and disordered.
She knew in her head that it wasn't healthy to skip meals and
over-exercise, but there seemed like so much chatter and scrutiny over
any extra pinch of flesh on one’s body. Most of girls in the sorority
were neurotic about it. There was a sense of normalcy around diet pills
and marathon workouts. Being "couture thin" just seemed to make her
life easier. She tried not to think about the price she knew, deep
down, she was paying.
Allie pushed herself with a few more laps before she needed to head in
and get ready for her date with Jimmy. As she walked up the
steps she saw the adorable shirtless boy, working his way closer to the
pool area. The sight of his plump torso made her feel very naked and
self-conscious. She threw a towel around her body and made her way
toward house. As she passed him, she gave him an embarrassed smile,
hurrying along the newly washed walkway.
In the shower, she found herself touching her body and thinking about
him. She imagined he would lie along the edge of the pool while she
swam. There was a box of rich gooey �clairs he was grabbing from,
eating them all, one by one. He would lick his fingers with
satisfaction while rubbing his bloated belly, chocolate and cream
filling smeared all over his chub. She imagined that she would surprise
him by coming out of the pool and climbing on top of him. Kissing his
nice lips, she could taste his chocolate-y indulgences, while feeling
his flabby rolls and hanging belly. Then he would get into it, and
she’d let him put his sticky, messy fingers into her bikini bottoms.
Then after teasing his pudge a bit more, she would forcefully have her
way with him.
Allie had never had sex before, but scenes like this provided her
self-pleasure material more frequently than ever. She knew she had a
weird thing about fat, but the way her fantasies were becoming more
vivid, it was more obvious to her that this cute, big boy made her feel
jittery; the nice kind of jittery that heated up between her legs.
"I've been wanting to see this movie," Jimmy leaned over to her
grabbing a handful of popcorn from his bucket and popping it in his
mouth. "I used to read the X-Men comics when I was younger." He offered
her some popcorn, but Allie put her hand up. "Yeah, I know, your diet,"
he shrugged his shoulders.
She shuddered. Why can't he just pretend that he never knew me growing
up? "I ate a late lunch." She had become an expert at making up excuses
for declining food. At least he couldn't say anything about it during
the movie. She figured that if they just spent all of their time
together at the movies, then they wouldn’t ever have to talk. But
during the movie he made subtle moves, brushing his hand along her bare
leg and glancing over at her while she pretended not to notice.
Of course, she couldn’t help but notice the plump, cute guy in her
driveway when Jimmy came to pick her up. He was loading his truck up
after a long day of work when she came out to greet Jimmy. As Jimmy
pulled her in for a deep hug, rubbing his hands along her body, she
glanced over at him, and their eyes connected. It was an odd moment. It
might have been in her head, she knew she was sensitive, but she felt a
sense of shame over how clich� she must have looked in her tight pink
polo shirt and matching plaid miniskirt, hugging a pretty boy with a
During the date, her thoughts kept drifting back to that same boy, his
shirt off, tanned and sweaty, looking at her intensely with those big,
gorgeous dark eyes. He’d be the one to pull her in for that deep hug,
and a deeper kiss. She imagined he’d be the one to lift her up and
carry her up to her room while she enjoyed the feeling of his soft skin
and intense weight, blanketing her with lust.
After the movie, Jimmy drove her back to her place and walked her up to
her house. He put his hands around her waist and pulled her close, "I
had a great time with you, Allie," and leaned in to kiss her. It was
surreal to her that Jimmy Oliver was standing in front of her, looking
her in the eyes like he really wanted her.
"I did too," Allie didn't know what else to say, though. She was
confused. She liked the feeling of his wanting eyes, but those feelings
scared her as well.
"Are you going to ask me in?" He had a mischievous look in his eye.
"Um, I better not tonight, security cameras," she pointed toward the
house. It was partly true, but they weren't that intrusive. Still, she
felt uncomfortable, like she'd screw up kissing him, or he would want
more than she was ready to deal with. Or he would realize she wasn't
that pretty, or thin, or cool, or whatever a girl needed to be to be
with Jimmy Oliver. Or, perhaps she was just too preoccupied with
"Can I see you again?" He persisted.
"Yeah, sure," she smiled, not knowing how to say no to another date.
"Sunday?" he demanded, surprising her with his intense interest.
"Okay," she agreed, feeling incredibly flattered. But she couldn't
shake the feeling she was being flattered into submission.
Another morning came with the sounds of clanking tools. Allie peered
out of the window, and the shirtless boy was back, but he was shirted
again, much to her disappointment. She went about her morning routine,
slipping out of the house, biking to the club, playing some tennis and
biking home. After showering, she went down to the kitchen to make
lunch: crust-less cucumber sandwiches on low carb bread with non-fat
cream cheese. She glanced out of the kitchen cove window and saw the
chubby guy eating what looked like a large hoagie sandwich, seated on a
large bucket he fashioned into a chair by turning it upside down. She
found herself enjoying watching him eat, thinking that a meal that big
could be adding to his lovely fat. And, perhaps he might even break the
bucket with his weight. Why do I think these things? I must be so
Allie decided the only way to deal with her awkward feelings was to be
a gracious hostess, one becoming her Beaumont lineage. She made a batch
of lemonade, just as her mother suggested. She added a little extra
sugar and a dollop of honey, figuring that with his physique he might
have a sweet tooth too. Her heart pounding, she loaded a tray with a
pitcher and a glass of ice, and walked toward the door.
Just then she looked down, remembering the white Lacoste tennis dress
she was wearing and knew it wasn’t right. She ran clear across the
mansion and up to her room, digging out worn pair of short denim shorts
and a cotton-lycra ice blue tee shirt. Simple, minimalist clothes, that
still showed off her legs, her favorite part of her body. This seems
like something a guy like him would like, right? She had a lot of
practice trying to seem like a “normal” person and not an heiress. She
learned early that people were sometimes uncomfortable around an
heiress. It was no wonder she never quite felt like she belonged. Some
people relished that feeling of social separateness in their advantage,
but she was not one of them.
As Allie walked out the side terrace toward where he was sitting, she
realized that no amount of dressing down would remove the feeling that
she was very different from a boy who was doing hard labor around her
home. Time seemed to stand still as she walked through the French
garden and approached him, feeling positively foolish. But she couldn’t
turn back when he looked in her direction and saw her coming.
"Hi," she found herself standing in front of him, feeling nauseous when
she saw the surprised look on his face.
He adjusted himself on the bucket, and then spoke guardedly with a
puzzled look on his face, "Hi.”
"It's really hot today, I thought you might like some lemonade," she
offered, trying desperately to keep her eyes on his face and not drift
He picked up his bottle of orange soda, showing her he already had
something to drink, "Thanks, anyway."
"This will quench your thirst more," she persisted, forcing herself to
smile brightly, summoning her will to look confident.
He shrugged his shoulders stood up and accepted the glass, "Thanks."
"No problem," she replied, feeling the hot sun on her neck. "You're
welcome to use the veranda for your breaks," she pointed her thumb
behind her to the loggia below the upper terrace.
"It's okay, I'm used to it out here," he didn’t seem too accepting of
"I can see that, your tan is pretty intense," she blurted, now allowing
her eyes to glance along his body. He glanced at hers in return and
smirked a little.
She then realized that her clothing choice also showed off her milky
white skin. With her auburn hair, she had always hated the freckles
that came along with her Anglo-Saxon line, going out of her way to
cover her exposed skin. "I'm eternally pale," she rubbed her arms
self-consciously, "I buy sun block in bulk."
"That's probably wise," he nodded politely.
"I'm Allie, by the way," she held out her hand and Sean shook it while
she explained, "Well, Alexandra, but no one calls me that; just Allie."
"Sean," he told her his name with a nod.
"Nice to meet you Sean," she liked that name. She could really detect
his North Philly accent and found it utterly endearing.
"Well, my break is over, I better get back to work," he cut the
"Sure, okay, let me know if you need anything," she offered, realizing
too late how stupid that was to say. She was kicking herself; let me
know if you need anything? I just sounded like his waitress! She had
totally embarrassed herself in front of Sean, but at least she knew his
She began to analyze and over-analyze how she must have come off so
awkwardly to him. But he was calm and cool. Despite his sweaty, flabby
appearance, he acted very comfortable with himself, and it didn't quite
seem fair. He was so handsome though, he probably had no problem
getting all the girls in his neighborhood, save those phony,
superficial type of girls who would never be seen with a chubby guy.
Then again, she was superficial too, she figured, worrying so much
about her own body. Would I be seen with a chubby guy? She asked
herself. Yes, she smiled inside, I know I would.
Allie had been trying to avoid Jimmy at the club, but it was no use. He
found her in the smaller fitness room using the weight machines.
"So this is where you hide," he joked.
She just smiled and shrugged her shoulders.
"You are a serious these days, aren't you?" He crossed his arms
She wanted to die from embarrassment. "I've always liked working out,"
she finally defended her formerly chubby self.
"Well, something changed in your favor," he wouldn't let it go.
"You want to know what it was?" she crossed her arms too, feeling angry
and wanting to scream at him that she was on the verge of a clinical
eating disorder just to shut him up about it.
"What?" he maintained his cool smile.
In that moment, she realized he was totally clueless and wouldn't
understand anyway, so she just said, "I switched to diet soda and
started drinking more water, that's about it." But she knew better...
as if that alone could make her drop three sizes in less than a year.
"Hmmm," he said, shrugging his shoulders, "that makes sense." Then he
walked over to her and sat facing her on the exercise bench. "So, when
do I get to take you out again?" He rubbed his hands along her outer
thighs and gave her a kiss on the lips, angling for a third date.
On their second date, he had taken her to dinner at Savona, a romantic
Mediterranean restaurant. It was a nice enough time, but she felt
self-conscious about eating anything really delicious in front of him,
choosing the boring Dover sole and skipping dessert. Jimmy actually ate
quite a bit, which irked her more. He was probably one of those
naturally thin people who couldn't possibly understand how easily other
people could gain weight and ‘let themselves go.’
But his hands on her thighs made her feel desirable, something she had
craved her whole life. And when Tara and Beth walked in and saw him
kissing her, she enjoyed that guilty pleasure even more.
"Didn't mean to interrupt anything," Beth rolled her eyes.
Jimmy glanced back at Beth with annoyance on his face but didn't
verbally acknowledge her. He turned back to Allie flashing his winning
smile, "I'll call you."
"More lemonade?" Allie wanted to try to break the ice with
cool Sean. This time he was sporting the shirtless look, and once she
saw him and his soft belly pooch through the window, she couldn’t
resist the opportunity to get close to him again.
"Uh, sure," he took the glass and took a big gulp.
"You want to sit down?" She pointed toward the veranda, feeling more
confident around him, now that he seemed a bit vulnerable with his soft
chest mounds and plump middle out in the open.
"Um, okay, I guess, it's time for a break anyway," he submitted more
readily than the first time she had introduced herself to him. He
grabbed his shirt and draped it across his shoulders, like he was
vainly attempting to cover up.
"This is a lot of work to do it all by yourself," she sat down,
noticing the glint of sun reflecting off if his dark hair.
"I'll have help here next week, once I finish the pressure washing and
calculate out how much stone I'll need," he informed her, taking
another drink from his lemonade.
"You're bringing in new stone?" She didn't realize he was replacing the
fractured pieces. Her interest in architectural preservation always
made her protective when it came to any restoration work done to the
estate, even down to the stone walkway.
"Special flagstone; I have to keep close track of what will need
replacing and record it. We can't just bring in anything
here. It's Trumbauer's vision, so even the exterior stonework
has to be just right."
"You know the history of this place?" She was happily reassured he knew
what he was doing.
"This is Philly. Masons here have to know about more than just slapping
concrete down. There's history, rules, preservation."
"Yes, of course," she smiled, slightly surprised by his ardent tone.
"It's a stunning structure," he looked over the expansive wings of the
Chateau-like mansion from one side to the other.
She nodded in agreement with a meek smile.
"You don't even realize it, do you?" He crossed his arms in front of
his yielding, delectably smooth, bare chest.
"Yes, I appreciate what my family has, believe me," she countered
defensively, surprised by his forceful tone.
"No," he continued with more force in his voice, "I mean, how
architecturally important this place is, and how singular the stonework
is. There's not many left like this, I'm just glad your family is
treating her well," he took another gulp of lemonade.
"By hiring you, no doubt," she smirked playfully. Allie loved that he
seemed to harbor a passion for building preservation; but she kept her
academic training to herself. It was more interesting to let him talk
about what he knew than to put an end to his side of the conversation
with her boring book knowledge.
"Of course," he smiled openly. It was the first time she saw how much
more adorable he was when a big smile spread widely across his face. "I
grew up in a row house in Mayfair, so this..." he waved his hand over
the massive home, "is a different perspective."
Allie looked down now, feeling that old discomfort of her privilege.
She had been all over the world: France, Sweden, Japan...
even Tahiti, but she had never been to Northeast Philly; not that she
could remember anyway. It made her feel very bourgeois. Before the
conversation could go any further down that road, she made an excuse to
leave. She found mental sanctuary from the world in developing her
senior thesis design project. She had been delving into it deeper in
recent weeks to prepare for her next meeting with Dr. Porter, before
leaving for Europe next month.
David Porter was with her advising professor at Cornell. She had
harboring a girlish crush on him... well, an academic crush, nothing
overly sexual, like the way she had been feeling about Sean. She simply
loved conversations with him about building conservation, from
architectural elitism to the philosophies behind stylistic movements.
When she learned he had grown up on the North Shore of Long Island, in
one of the “lesser” mansions in that region, she opened up to him about
her background. She trusted him with information about her home and
family that she rarely shared with anyone, and certainly no one at
school, save her most trusted friend, Maia. She hated that a few of the
sorority sisters had learned of her family situation through the
society grapevine, needling her on occasion about it.
Allie was many months away from declaring her thesis, but it was an
idea she’d had swirling around in her head since high school. Her
father had given her a book about Philadelphia’s architectural history,
which delved into the amazing historical structures that had been lost
to the whims of progress and politics. She dug deeper in her research,
learning of many aged estates, threatened by an economic aggressiveness
that often rendered preservation a losing battle. It was the
unfortunate side effect of modernization that Allie lamented.
Her idea was that igniting a Beaux-Arts revival in new developments
could encourage feelings of sentiment and public protection for the old
structures. She wanted to design something that took the splendor and
elegance of the Gilded Age with the practical infrastructure and
available materials to meet the requirements of a postmodern society.
Surely there was a place for both classic beauty and structural
longevity among the sea of mirrored glass geometric beasts that had
crept into the landscape of constantly evolving cities. She hoped that
Professor Porter would be proud of her progress, since she valued his
opinion higher than just about anyone she knew, except perhaps, her
"I made cookies," she brought out a plate full of freshly baked oatmeal
butterscotch chip cookies.
Sean's eyes grew a little and then he shrugged his shoulders, “Sure.”
He still seemed nonchalant about her daily gestures of generosity, but
hadn’t rebuffed her either. "Thanks," he grabbed one from the plate as
she set it down on the wrought iron table.
"Are you going to have one?" he asked her.
"No, I already had a couple," she lied. One of those cookies was the
calorie equivalent of about 10 more laps in the pool, which would only
make her hungrier.
"I can't eat all of these myself," he quipped, flooding her brain with
images of him polishing off the entire plate and licking his fingers in
satisfaction while his belly expanded before her eyes.
Then she felt guilty about encouraging his gluttony and tried to cover
it up, "I baked like, ten dozen for work."
"You work?" He asked bluntly. She was slightly annoyed by his shocked
tone but she liked him too much to care.
"Well, I don't get paid, so I guess it's not a real job," she teased
him for his presumptuousness. "I volunteer at Children's Hospital."
"That's cool," his face brightened up. "What do you do?"
"Some days I do family services, you know, just helping parents find
their way to what they need; and other days… well, my favorite thing,
is reading to the kids. And some days I spend in the neonatal unit and
I get to hold newborns. It's an amazing job."
"So is it a full time job for you?" he asked.
"No, unfortunately, because I'm going back to school in the fall they
can't commit me to longer hours, but I spend a little extra time there
"Where do you go to school?" he was more inquisitive today.
"Cornell," she answered.
"That's far enough away from here," he noted, considering how many
highbrow institutions there were much closer to home.
"My mother wasn't thrilled with me turning down her ivory tower down
the street," she pointed over her shoulder towards Villanova, "but
Cornell's architecture program drew me in."
Sean's face brightened up, "So then maybe you do know how amazing your
place is," smiling smugly, alluding to their conversation the previous
"My emphasis is architectural conservation, so you know I do," she
He launched into conversation about their favorite downtown Philly
buildings. When she shared her sadness about the deterioration and
demise of Memorial Hall, he commiserated. “I always loved that place.
When I was a kid, my parents would take me to Fairmount, different
parts each time, and I’d spend hours just walking around, looking at
the sculptures and studying stonework. I still ride my bike through
there all the time. There was talk of renovating. My dad was going to
bid it, but I guess the money dried up or something," he shrugged his
"So you work for your father?" She turned the questioning toward him,
happy he was opening up more.
"Just in the summer," Sean answered. "He taught me the trade, but I'm
in school the rest of the year."
"Where?" Allie demanded, intrigued by every word that came out of him.
Before today he had been so tight-lipped.
"Temple," he smiled. "I stayed closer to home than you did."
"What year are you?" She asked with interest, hungry for more
information about him.
"Well, I just finished my third year, but I'm in an accelerated program
so I segue into medical school next year."
Allie was shocked he was pre-med and tried to hide her surprise. But
apparently she didn't do a very good job, because Sean furrowed his
brows and mocked her, "I know, laborers are just supposed to be
"No!" she tried to cover her embarrassing faux pas with flattery, "I
was just thinking that it's pretty amazing, to be so academically smart
and also really talented with your craft," she pointed to the sample
stone he had been working down to just the right shape. "Besides," she
laughed, "tell me you didn't think I was just a rich bitch when you
first saw me?"
"The rich part was pretty obvious, I'll admit to that," he laughed
back. He was so cute when he laughed, with his gorgeous face and
jiggling little belly. His tubbiness redirected her thoughts back to
the cookies on the table and her job at the hospital.
"Well, I better get going to work while these are still fresh," she
hopped up with the plate. "Here, take a few more," she set a handful
down on a napkin for him and started back inside, "See you tomorrow,"
she waved at him, feeling elated over the connection she had made with
her big crush.
"Why don’t you ever return my calls?" Jimmy slid behind her putting his
hand on her waist and whispering in her ear. He found her again, this
time as she was leaving the club after a morning of tennis. She had
thought she escaped…
She flinched from his touch. Her waist was a sensitive spot, especially
with a boy who always seemed to have such high standards for physical
beauty. "Oh, my cell is being weird, I need a new one," she lied
keeping her eyes on the ground. Allie wasn't getting any more
comfortable with his aggressive pursuit, even if it was somehow
gratifying. She had been avoiding him for days, but it was a matter of
time before he found her again.
"What are you doing tonight?" He asked, unfazed by her stall tactics.
"Hospital fundraiser event," she was glad she had an answer.
"Do you need a date?" He pressed.
"I'm working there, not a guest," she explained, a little perturbed by
his presumption she wouldn't have responsibilities there.
"So when do I get to take you out again?" He wasn't daunted, pressing
the date issue harder. Allie could almost physically feel the pressure
he was putting on her. She imagined this is what he would be like about
sex too, which made her feel queasy to even think about.
"What did you have in mind?" She didn't know how to find a way around
"How about something fun? There’s a new club downtown... I
know the owner,” he started. Allie had dabbled in nightlife with trips
she made to downtown Philly with sorority sisters the summer before. It
was eye-opening enough to know she wanted nothing to do with the
drunken douchebag and coked up Manhattan-wannabe crowd. She must have
made a pretty disgusted face, because Jimmy changed his tune quickly,
“Or, how about mini golf?" he offered.
"Yeah sure," she agreed, relieved. Mini golf was neutral, harmless fun.
"Monday night?" He suggested.
"I work at the hospital until 4, how about you pick me up at 6?" She
found herself setting the time.
"Awesome," he smiled, squeezing her waist and kissing her softly on her
"Maia!" Allie cried happily, lounging in her bed on a quiet Sunday
"What are you doing?" She heard Maia's excitement on the other end of
the phone. Allie met Maia in her Design Studio class during freshman
year and was captivated by her French Canadian accent and exotic
beauty. They were put together to work on a collaborative project,
quickly bonding over their mutual love of chimera and ornamental
figures in gothic architecture.
"Trying to get motivated to go play in a racquetball tournament today
with girls I loathe," she told Maia honestly.
"You seem to spend your life stuck with people you do not care for,
quel dommage," Maia joked, alluding to Allie's contempt for many of the
girls in her sorority.
"And then I don't get to spend my summer with the friends I love,"
Allie flattered her best friend. "Speaking of, how is Montreal?" Maia
was spending the summer in Canada with her father, working for his
architectural firm as an intern.
"It's been miserable," she pouted right through the phone. "It's hot,
humid, and my father is a tyrant to work for."
"You knew that going in," Allie teased her. The two girls also shared
the experience of having successful and demanding fathers. "How's your
"I talked to her yesterday, and she’s still not doing so well." Maia's
mother was in Brazil taking care of her parents, who were both quite
"I'm so sorry, Maia," Allie tried to soothe her best friend.
"I feel like a selfish brat because I want her here with me," Maia
sounded even sadder. "She protects me from him."
"Is it that bad?" Allie knew what Maia was talking about.
"He signed me up for Nutrisystem and a gym the day I came home," she
The first time Allie saw Maia she didn't even notice that Maia was
plump; just that she was exceptionally beautiful. A product of her
French Canadian father and Brazilian mother, her enormous eyes and
gorgeous, long black hair were striking. She was only somewhat
plus-sized, with a great hourglass shape to her curves, but Maia still
had a lot of issues with her weight, especially considering her
father's severe criticisms.
"Can I come visit you?" Allie suggested, hearing the despair in her
friend's voice and wanting to be there for her.
"Allie, we're spending a year in Rome together. I can wait one more
month to see you if I have to," she joked in the guilty knowledge that
Allie had the means to travel anywhere on short notice.
"Just for a long weekend? It's a quick flight," she insisted.
"Really? You think you can come?" Maia sounded hopeful.
"Definitely. Besides, it will get me away from someone I need to get
away from," she alluded to her flirtation with Jimmy. "I'll tell you
all about it when I get there."
After sorting out the details with Maia, Allie called her father in
"Daddy?" Allie pulled her 'sweetest daughter in the world' routine out
"Yes Al," her father responded in a knowing tone.
"I don't suppose you have a few thousand frequent flyer miles just
lying around waiting to be used," she tried to make light of her
pending request. "Can I get your blessing to go up to Montreal and see
Maia for a few days?"
"What about your commitments at the hospital?" He countered skeptically.
"I'll have no problem trading schedules; people are always looking for
nights and weekends off," she argued. "Besides, they're loaded with
volunteers this summer. I wanted to get more hours and I couldn't."
"I suppose," he sighed, "it's too late for you to have done anything
else this summer."
Allie winced, feeling caught between her mother’s and father's advice.
"Dad, Mom arranged the hospital job for me, and I actually really love
it. And I still have time to go to the club-"
"Al," her father interrupted her, "I know your heart is in the right
place,” he paused and continued, “But between the sorority, the
volunteer work and the club, you're putting all your stock into your
future as some guy's rich wife. I think you can do better than that."
She was used to her father's lectures about seeking more professional
opportunities instead of social ones, but she had never heard him
criticize her all in one breath for what amounted to following her
mother's wishes. She burst into tears, "It's been made clear to me my
entire life that nothing would be better than being another Beaumont
girl. Mom wanted me in the sorority, even though I don't really care
for it. Mom wanted me to do volunteer work. I actually enjoy that and I
think I'm making a difference there, which is better than pushing
around paper in an office."
"Al-," he tried to stop her.
She was too upset to stop herself from purging her resentment at being
caught between her parents' conflicting demands. "And don't even bring
the club into this, because it's always been made abundantly clear that
I need to be in perfect shape."
"Damn it Allie, would you stop?" her father interjected. "You know we
love you more than anything in the world."
"This isn't about how much you love me, it's about how disappointed you
are in me," she spat back coldly.
"I have never been disappointed in you," he spoke solemnly, "I just
want more for you. With your fortunate situation, you'll be a target,
Al. You're too damn bright and talented to get sucked into socialite
"I can't win with you two, can I?" she sighed, tears welling up again.
"I don't agree with everything your mother says or does. But honey,
we're not the same people. You are an adult; you are your own person to
heed the counsel of your parents as you see fit. My management team
doesn't always agree with each other but I take the best of their
opinions to make informed decisions."
"I'm your daughter, not a corporation," she chided him.
"You'd be surprised at how sentimental stockholders are about their
money," he joked.
"Dad," she half-laughed in protest, but knew that deep down he had a
"I'll have Diane help you with your flights," her father relented and
offered up his assistant. "Just let her know when you want to go."
"Thanks Dad," Allie was grateful but still a bit raw that her father
couldn't just say yes or no without making her pay an emotional price.
"I'm going to Montreal for the weekend," Allie nonchalantly shared her
plans with Sean, taking a drink from her iced tea, "so you won’t have
me bugging you for a few days." It was only 7:30 in the morning, but
Allie had already brought out an iced jug of lemonade in a cooler for
Sean to drink throughout the day while she was gone to work at the
She had cut her date short with Jimmy the night before. She felt
annoyed the entire time with his physical advances and feigned a sick
stomach so she could get home without more sexual pressure. Except she
found herself in bed that night, pleasuring herself to the thought of
sweaty Sean, tearing off an outgrown t-shirt, pressing her against one
of the library windows under the terrace vestibule. It was quiet and
fragrant with flowers from the garden, a perfect place to experience
his soft flesh against hers, her fingers lifting his belly to help his
"Why Montreal?" he raised an eyebrow, snapping her out of the latest
Sean-related fantasy that had been playing over and over in her head.
"My best friend lives there," she explained.
"Is she from your Sorority?" he smirked.
"Actually no," Allie answered sourly, sensing his weakly veiled
contempt for sorority girls. "She's in my architecture program. We're
going to Rome next month for our year abroad."
"Oh," Sean answered curtly.
Allie was smiling to herself, thinking about how much she was enjoying
building this odd friendship with Sean when two lanky young guys walked
around the side pavilion hauling what must have been heavy flagstone
slabs on a large dolly. When they saw Sean they set the dolly down and
ran up the steps of the veranda to greet him.
"Seannie, how ya doin there?" The taller boy smiled widely at him,
shaking his hand with his other hand on his shoulder. "Haven't seen you
since the Volksfest."
Then the other boy greeted Sean with a light slap on the belly, "Looks
like you've still been enjoying the college life."
Allie felt her face flush over that belly slap when the two boys
noticed her. The taller one asked Sean, "So, is this your new
"No more Janine?" The other chimed in, making Allie incredibly curious
about who the heck Janine was.
"Allie lives here," Sean corrected them. "Allie, this is Mike," he
pointed to the taller boy, "and Charlie. They're helping with laying
the replacement stone."
Allie stood up and shook their hands, "Nice to meet you."
"Verrry nice to meet you," Charlie blatantly checked out her body,
scanning down her legs.
Allie grew uncomfortable with his leering looks and excused herself,
"I've got to get to work, it was nice to have met you both," she nodded
politely, turned and walked away, as quickly as she could, back to the
house. Still, her ears couldn't avoid hearing Charlie say, "You got no
shot, McTubbs," with his laughter ringing in her ears.
Overhearing Charlie's unkind words made her skin crawl. She may have
enjoyed her own bizarre inner thoughts about making fun of Sean's
chubbiness, but she was disgusted hearing some stranger try to knock
him down a notch over it. And then using her as a yardstick made her
feel even worse. The last thing she wanted was someone to discourage
Sean from thinking of her romantically. She so wished he would.
Allie couldn’t stop herself from listening to more of their
conversation from around the other side of the garden where she
couldn’t be seen. She heard Sean send Charlie back to the truck for
some equipment and then she heard Mike’s deeper voice. “So this chick
is hanging out with you while you work on her family's museum?" Mike
"She's just bored, I guess," Sean shrugged and took a drink of
lemonade. Allies heart sank over how flippant he was about their new
"She's incredibly hot," Mike responded, "and loaded. If a girl like
that doesn't go for you, it has nothing to do with your gut. Main Line
chicks have no need for Northeast Philly guys like us." Allie felt like
a jerk for thinking she could be more than friends with Sean, after
hearing Mike remind Sean how different they really were. And that his
adorable gut had anything to do with anything other than turning her on.
"Who said anything about me wanting her anyway," Sean shot back. Allie
felt her throat closing and tears forming hearing Sean move on to
football. "So what do you think Mikey, is McNabb gonna take us to the
Promised Land this year?"
"He's fun to watch; should've been MVP," Mike shook his head. "Gonna be
a big year for the Birds."
With that, Allie forced herself to forget about Sean and focus on
getting to work without the evidence of a tear streaked face and puffy
"Al!" Maia hugged Allie tight as she came off the jet way at Dorval. "I
am so glad to see you!"
Allie hugged her very tightly. She had come to view her as the sister
she never had. Sure, Allie was close with her brother Holden, but he
was living across the country. And it wasn't like having female
kinship. "I’m so glad I'm here," she exclaimed. "I've missed you so
"Mon Dieu, you look even skinnier," Maia brushed her hand down Allie's
arm, seeming partly concerned, partly jealous, and partly joking.
Allie knew she couldn't deny it, so she did her usual dance around the
issue, "Some days are so busy, at the hospital... I've missed a few
"Allie," she frowned. Maia knew Allie's issues.
Allie deflected more by praising Maia, "You look awesome!"
"I've only lost a little," she shrugged her shoulders.
"No, not that, I mean just in general, you have that summer radiance,"
she rubbed Maia's arm. Being around Maia made Allie feel instantly
safe. She never had a solid, trusting female friendship until she met
"So who's the guy this summer?" Maia asked, prodding further into
Allie's admission that she's been dating.
"You mean Jimmy?" Allie pursed her lips and smiled with guilt.
"Tell me, tell me!" Maia adored talking about men, something Allie had
always felt slightly awkward about.
"This guy from the Cricket Club," she began to reluctantly explain.
"Is he hot?" Maia demanded.
"He's very good looking, and nice. But it's nothing serious," she tried
to play it down.
"Why not?" Maia was clearly thirsty for juicy details and wasn't going
to relent until Allie explained herself.
"Jimmy is the guy at the club that dates a different girl every summer,
and this is my summer. I feel like a contestant winner, not his
"Uh," Maia seemed disappointed, "Sounds like more of the same for you."
"What does that mean?" Allie felt defensive.
"I mean that you always seem to surround yourself with people you don't
particularly care for," Maia lectured Allie. "Why are you even seeing
"I guess at first it felt good," she sheepishly shrugged. "He was who I
was always supposed to wish for and it was nice to be on the ‘hot girl’
list for once."
"I get that, I wish I was on that list for once too."
"Oh gosh, Maia, just stop it. You are literally the most beautiful
woman I know."
"If I'd only lose a huge amount of weight," she made a bitter face.
"No way Maia, not even close. I mean just the way you are, you turn
heads. I see it all the time." Allie had often thought about
encouraging her best friend to get into plus-size modeling, but knew
that would ignite another weight discussion, so she kept it to herself.
"Whatever, Allie," she waved her hand and pressed her straw into the
ice at the bottom of her glass.
Allie was desperate to elevate Maia's mood, so she rekindled the 'boys'
topic. "There's another guy this summer..."
Maia took the bait, a smile redrawn across her face, "Really? Who is
"My parents are having this masonry work done on the house and this guy
is refurbishing the stonework," Allie started to explain her friendship
"Oh yum," Maia became dreamy, "Like topless and muscles, right? Oh you
are so bad! What have you done with him?"
"Nothing," Allie stopped her, laughing, "We just talk. He's actually
pre-med at Temple," she decided not to contradict Maia's assumptions
about his physical description, especially since he was all shirtless
and muscles. Did she really need to share that his muscles were covered
by a nice amount of chub?
"Oh and he's intelligent too," she swooned. "So are you going to be
able to fit in a quick summer fling with him before we leave for Rome?"
"I’m pretty sure he doesn’t think much of me," she confessed. "I think
he thinks I'm just a shallow, entitled bore."
"No way Allie, all you have to do is open your mouth and people realize
you're a total sweetheart,” she smiled, and then frowned. “So you’re
juggling two amazing guys this summer? Ugh, so unfair,” she smiled
devilishly. “I know you don't want to hear this, but I am going to
really try hard on my diet the rest of the summer. I want to meet a hot
man in Europe!"
Maia took Allie sightseeing and shopping, although Allie was careful to
stay away from skinny stores. She felt horrible when Maia couldn't find
anything in her size. Mostly because she knew it bothered Maia, but it
also brought up painful memories of her own shopping experiences with
so-called friends in high school. They would always seem to rub it in
to Allie that the racks were 'too full of fat sizes' like junior 9s and
11s, when Allie was struggling to fit into her women’s 12s and 14s.
Meeting Maia's father was another uncomfortable experience. He seemed
pleasant enough toward Allie, but was obviously cool and distant with
Maia. It gave her a whole new appreciation for her own father. No
matter how tough Kenneth could be about Allie's goals or work ethic, he
was usually affectionate and supportive too. Allie respected Maia all
the more for her strength in the face of such cold parenting; that she
could be as kind and compassionate as she was after being raised by a
father with almost no warmth or sensitivity.
Allie dragged Maia out to eat for every meal because she couldn't stand
the critical looks he would give Maia with every bite of food she ate.
Allie finally admitted to Maia how upsetting it was to witness. "How
can you stand it?" Allie let it burst out her mouth as Maia was
explaining the mundane tasks he gave her to do at work.
"I have to start somewhere, Allie," Maia referred to her difficult
"No, I mean, how can you stand the way he watches every single bite of
food you eat?" Allie couldn't contain her anger.
Maia's eyes grew wide in shock, "He's my father, Allie," she whispered,
even though they were alone in the middle of Mont Royal Park eating a
"That doesn't give him the right to humiliate you like that," Allie
responded, feeling tears well up in her eyes. She had so much anger
bubbling under her skin for the way in which people seemed to make
someone else's body their business, from perfectionist boys, to catty
girls and demanding parents. Allie felt it like a constant cloud over
her head, and hated to watch Maia was suffering the same pressures.
"Hey," she gently touched Allie's arm. "Is this about me? Or about you?"
Allie's shocked look made Maia continue, "I know you want to protect me
Allie, but the whole world can see that I'm a fat girl. And I'd like to
not always be la grosse amie, I know you can relate to that, so please
stop telling me I should be happy with myself, because it makes you a
"But," Allie started to interject, feeling horrible that Maia was now
on the offensive.
"Wait, Al," she continued, "I just keep getting the feeling that you're
really struggling with your issues too. You've never been skinnier, you
eat like a bird, and you work out all the time... you know you need to
eat more to fuel yourself!"
"I'm fine," Allie cut her off, growing defensive.
"I just want you healthy. I know, I should mind my own business, but I
love you like a sister. Or what I think a sister would be," she
corrected herself with a smile.
"I feel the same way about you," Allie softened. "Let's just drop the
weight stuff, I hate talking about it."
"Fine," Maia waved her hand, but then smiled and hugged Allie.
"Did you have a good time?" Sean asked Allie, as she watched him smooth
some finely crushed limestone over the soil where he would be laying
down the replacement stone.
"Yeah, it was nice to get away and see Maia," she smiled, relieved Sean
was being nice to her, even if he wasn’t into her. "I got to practice
my French, so it was good preparation."
"I thought you were going to Rome?" Sean quizzed her.
"I'm going to meet my parents in Geneva first, and then my mom and I
are going to take a train to Paris and spend a few days there before I
fly from there to meet Maia in Rome."
"Sounds pretty amazing," he kept working, his eyes on the ground. She
felt stupid for explaining all of that. It was just a family plan to
her, but it must have sounded tre pr�tentieux to anyone else.
"I was actually kind of dreading spending that much time with my
parents, but after meeting Maia's dad, I have a whole new appreciation
"Why wouldn't you want to spend time with your parents? You
haven't seen them for a while, right?" he asked pointedly.
Allie shrugged, "I don't know. It's like everything can be fine and
then something critical comes out of one of their mouths and makes me
feel like crap, and then they argue about it. It gets old..."
"My parents can be the same way, but can't we all be critical of our
families? I mean, they probably just want the best for you,” he stated
with a maturity that made her feel like a jerk for complaining.
"I suppose," she was surprisingly accepting of his interpretation,
"Especially when I compare it to what Maia has to live with. My mom
makes occasional weight comments or diet suggestions that annoy the
hell out of me, but Maia's father is downright cruel about it."
"You mean your mom wants to get you to eat more?" he confused her with
"More? God no, not my mother. 'Eating light is ladylike,' was all I
ever heard growing up."
"She wants you to lose weight?" He questioned incredulously.
"Not anymore," Allie looked down, crossing her arms in front of her,
"My mother always piled my plate with food," Sean joked, "I guess it
shows," he patted his belly. Allie's face and neck turned red and while
she tried desperately not to gawk at his middle.
"I've never seen anything like it though, the way her father hounded
her about dressing on her salad and sauce on her food. It was
sickening," she was back to talking about Maia, venting feelings that
came from more than just her weekend getaway.
"That's pretty rough," he agreed with her. "I get crap sometimes too,
from friends, or my dad, but it's not that extreme."
"She's not even that big," Allie accented the words 'that big," and
immediately regretted it.
"You mean as big as me?" Sean laughed, catching Allie in her words.
"No," she felt pained that he could be offended by the implication. "I
meant she's not that big compared to... I just mean she's really,
really beautiful. She's so striking; you don't even notice she's
heavier. I wish I were as beautiful as her. She's just... I don't
know," Allie was struggling to find the right words,
"What do they call it? Like pleasingly plump? Nothing wrong with that."
Sean showed a flash of confidence about his plump body that Allie found
herself very excited by. "I'm going to start to use that to describe
Allie laughed nervously, feeling the large pit in her stomach turn into
floating flutters as she heard Sean utter words that she had said to
herself, watching him through the window of her room upstairs or the
kitchen bay. Standing alone, no one else to hear, the whispers had come
tumbling out of her mouth, imagining sneaking up behind him with a
heaping plate of fattening chocolate goodness, slipping her hand around
to support his belly... Sean, you're so pleasingly plump, why don't you
try a few more of my homemade brownies?
Sean snapped her out of her fantasy, "So you're working today?"
"Yeah, but not until 10, so I guess I'm just hanging around here
bugging you while you work," she grinned through her guilt.
"You don't bug me," he responded without looking up.
Allie felt hopeful, "Good, I like talking to you. It's nice to talk to
a normal person."
He looked up with curiosity, "Normal?"
"You're easy to talk to," she realized too late that the word 'normal'
could be misconstrued so she overcompensated, "In a good way." And then
she felt stupid; it sounded like such a dumb line.
But Sean paused, his eyes bearing into hers, "Like us 'normal' common
"No," she looked away, feeling her heart pound.
"Do you talk to me because I'm one of the simple people who take such
good care of the ground you walk on?"
"Hey, that's not what I meant," Allie's heart pounded harder.
"Really?" Sean glared at her with obvious anger.
Allie reacted the only way she knew, with honesty, "No! I meant that
you're comfortable in your own skin. You don’t care what people think,
and I admire that," she looked away, feeling horribly embarrassed. She
couldn't look him in the eye again, shivering from his anger and
mumbled, "I gotta go to work," and hurried away.
Allie felt sick to her stomach every time she played the angry exchange
with Sean through her head. She was building up such a crush on him and
yet he obviously couldn't stand her. All the groundwork she had done
developing a friendship with him seemed pointless. It had been hard,
actually, pushing herself to socialize with him, overcome her shyness
at every turn, and now a few poorly chosen words and she was back to
being an annoying snob. She decided that she would probably die a
virgin. The boys that liked her, she didn't like. And finally, there
was one she really, really liked, and she wasn't ever going to have
Allie avoided Sean for a few days, but found herself in front of the
house about to leave on her bike when she overheard a conversation Sean
was having with Mike and Charlie.
"So what's the deal with Janeane?" Mike asked Sean. There was talk of
this Janeane girl again, and Allie was paralyzed by curiosity.
"Nothing," Sean responded.
"I know she comes 'round your place once in a while, she told my
sister," Mike admitted.
"We still see each other, nothing official." Allie had suspected this
Janeane person was Sean’s girlfriend, or ex, or something in between,
"I know she's my sister's best friend, and you probably still care for
her, but she's trouble, man. I'm serious; you're not the only guy she's
seeing." Allie wanted to slug this Janeane girl now.
Charlie spoke up, in his usually vulgar way, "If you're only in it for
the goods, go for it man, just stock up on jit bags," he laughed. She
didn’t hear Sean’s voice respond.
"Big storms coming through tomorrow Buddy, you should take tomorrow
off," Mike warned Sean.
Allie heard their voices coming closer and took off on her bike before
they could see she had been eavesdropping.
So maybe Sean was just hung up on this Janeane person and Allie would
never have a shot no matter how much she broke down the other barriers.
She decided that if she kept avoiding him, she wouldn’t see his cute
face and round body, and maybe forget all about him altogether. That
seemed like the best solution. And yet, she still kept thinking about
him, more than ever. When she lay in her bed at night, feeling most
alone, wishing his warm body was next to hers, his hot breath on her
neck, his chubbiness enveloping her... how could she ever put
those fantasies out of her head?
It was a week into August and a heavy summer rain was coming down in
full force. Allie raced home from the club on her bike, having been
drenched from the moment she left. The feeling of the rain now pelting
her face was more than uncomfortable. Relieved to have made it home in
one piece, she headed up her driveway, hopped off her bike and quickly
moved it into the garage. She felt like a drowned rat, looking down at
her soaked tennis whites, sighing at her muddy legs and ruined tennis
From the garage, she went into the mudroom to grab a towel and wipe
herself off. She glanced out the window and spotted a dripping wet Sean
under the veranda, kneeling down over his toolbox, drying each of his
tools off with an old towel. In another week, Allie was going to leave
for Europe and hopefully forget all about him, but scenes like this
made it very difficult. She forgot all about her own soaked condition,
admiring the way his wet t-shirt clung to his body, showing off his
bulges and rolls in a way that made a wave of pleasure completely
overcome her. She instinctively pressed her legs closely
together to fend off the flush desire that was quickly heating her up,
but it wasn’t working.
Her eyes lingered over his side roll, folded over into his belly droop,
which seemed to struggle for room in his lap. He was obliviously, yet
completely destroying any hopes of ridding herself of the fluttered
feelings mounting in her stomach that migrated further south between
her legs. It didn’t help any that he looked so handsome too. His black
hair was wet, dripping down his soft, smooth, beautiful face and cute
double chin. Allie surprised herself in realizing the intense affection
she felt for him, beyond the peculiarly gratifying sensations that the
sight of his fat had been stirring inside of her all summer.
Then, it was as if he knew she was watching him with lust. She was
bound to be caught; that kind of heated energy doesn’t stay hidden for
very long. He looked up exactly where she was behind the window and
found her gazing admiringly at him. He smiled and waved, making her
feel hopeful again. Seeing him helplessly trying to avoid the downpour,
a surge of protectiveness came over her, making her forget all about
the cool distance she had been dancing around for weeks. Within
seconds, she was doing a slow jog through the rain, along the garden
path towards him under the veranda.
"Come on," she grabbed his hand and ran, dragging him into the pool
house. She opened a linen closet and pulled out a white terry robe and
handed it to him, "You can get out of those wet clothes in the changing
room," she pointed toward another room that had deep blue carpet and
paintings of ships on the walls.
"I can't," he protested.
"You can't just stand out there in wet clothes, it's going to pour for
a while," she countered, surprising herself at how bossy she was being
"I should just pack up and call it a day," he reasoned.
"No, you can't drive all the way home like this; you'll get sick,” she
insisted on his compliance. “It will only take a few minutes to dry.
Just go change out of those clothes. There's a washer and dryer over
there," she pointed to another side room.
"This… is a pool house?" Sean questioned her with an eyebrow raised
"It used to be a servant's cottage. My mother converted it to a pool
house when the servant thing became politically incorrect for a family
of four living in a mansion," Allie answered honestly.
"Oh," his eyes scanned across the other rooms from the main living area
they were standing in.
"Go, change. I will too. My brother's old PlayStation stash is in there
if you want to kill some time and wait the rain out," she offered.
Sean's eyes brightened, "Really?"
"Wet clothes off," Allie commanded playfully, pointing to the blue
After a couple of minutes, Sean walked out of the with the robe cinched
tight just underneath his belly and wet clothes in his hand at the same
time that Allie emerged from the other room in her pink robe with a
silver "A" monogrammed on the front. She grabbed his clothes and threw
them in the dryer, "they should be dry in a little bit."
"Nice robe," he complimented her as she walked back over towards him.
"Thanks," she shrugged her shoulders, “It was an 18th birthday gift
from my brother," she stretched out her arms showing off the plush
material draping over her hands.
"Looks a little big on you," he blurted. She turned a brighter shade of
pink than the robe, her eyes darting away from noticing how tightly
packed into his robe he looked.
"I suppose you don't get too many fat guys here," he patted
his belly, acknowledging the tight fit of his robe with
She had been trying not to stare at his plump body, which was barely
contained by the belt of the robe, and his commenting on it made her
aware that she was visibly trembling. She quickly changed the subject,
"You want to get the PlayStation out?" She pointed at the cabinet under
the TV, noticing that even her hand was shaking a little.
"Totally," he smiled casually, seemingly oblivious to her nerves. She
was relieved to find something to distract him and pull him out of his
shell too. He knelt down on the floor and dug out the equipment and
games. "Wow, this is a great collection."
"Yeah, my brother used to come out here and play when he wanted to get
away from my parents' nagging," she shared, without mentioning that she
was guilty of the same nag avoidance scheme.
"Tomb Raider, Jet Moto, Doom..." his fingers sorted through the game
discs, "Oh, the original Grand Theft Auto! Sweet," he smiled. "Wanna
"You think you can beat me?" Allie teased him, knowing she wasn't very
good at Grand Theft Auto and preferred SimCity. She'd play alone for
hours when her brother started getting into his band and was spending
less and less time at home. She bristled inside, remembering her hours
in front of this very TV were a contributing factor to her highest
weight; a sedentary habit she indulged in while snacking on convenience
store contraband she hid from her mother.
"No way, I played this all the time at my buddy's house in high
school," he smiled, his eyes fixed on the TV. "My parents wouldn't buy
me video games when I was a kid. They wanted me studying," he smirked.
"Sounds smart," she laughed, "Look at how successful you are."
He rolled his eyes, "They bought me a computer thinking I'd use it for
school work, but I snuck in some games too. I was rebellious like
that," he winked at her.
She gazed at his adorable profile as he looked back at the TV, setting
up the game, "Vice City?" he suggested.
"Sure," she smiled, still admiring his perfectly shaped nose, his soft,
flawless cheeks and his wavy black hair. He was so perfect looking, she
wanted to kiss him in the worst way.
He glanced back at her and she looked down at her controller,
pretending to reacquaint herself with the buttons.
"I'm always Bubba," Sean selected his player.
"Aw, Bubba is cute," she joked, "I'll be Kivlov," she offered her
"Eastern European badass," Sean deadpanned.
"That’s me," Allie shrugged sweetly.
As they began to play, she couldn’t help but continue to glance at him,
her eyes drifting down on the strained belt around his belly that made
her feel distracted and lustful. She tried to refocus on the game but
didn’t do very well.
"This is so wrong," Allie giggled about the hooker she had just run
over, "I can't believe little kids play this."
"It's not so bad," Sean laughed, "Just another day in North Philly."
"Shut up," she smiled, knowing he was exaggerating.
"Closer to it than here," he countered. "Can you imagine? Beating up
dudes at the country club with your tennis racket? Jacking up a BMW
from your polo pony?"
Allie rolled over laughing, allowing Kivlov to crash into a building.
"I suck at this," she laughed more, turning to her side and looking up
at him with a huge grin.
He smiled, but quickly turned away and looked back at the screen,
trying to get the game back on track.
Allie sat back up. Sean was obviously annoyed that she wasn't being
serious about the game, "Alright, I'll try harder."
"It's okay, we don't have to play this anymore if you don't want to,"
he tossed his controller to the side.
"No, you're clothes aren't dry yet," she reasoned, and pointed toward
the window at the rain that continued to pour down outside, "We have
more time to kill, I really will try now."
"You wanna play something else?" He offered, his voice revealing a
lingering frustration that he was stuck inside with her rather than
getting his work done.
She crawled over to the stack of games in the media cabinet, just
inches from him. Glimpsing sideways, she caught his eyes on her with a
bit of his own lustful look; something she hadn’t seen in him before.
From somewhere within herself she found the courage to move into him
and kiss his lips.
To her astonishment, he kissed back. It was like drinking warm, creamy
cocoa after skiing on a mild winter day. Allie felt bliss ooze through
her body and out through her lips. It never felt this thrilling with
the handful of college boys she had kissed before. She kept her eyes
closed, fearing that if she opened them, he would be gone.
"Allie?" He spoke.
She opened her eyes, and his lovely face was there, right in front of
hers, with a surprised but content look on it. "Sorry?" she
half-smiled, her nerves kicking back in.
"Don't be," he smiled back. "Unless you regret doing that..."
"No!" she interrupted him, not wanting him to pull away, and feeling
elated that he was receptive to her overtures. "It was nice. Does that
mean we can do this instead of Playstation?" she asked playfully.
"Uh, yeah," he agreed with a guilty grin.
She moved her hands carefully at first, across his shoulders, her
fingers running down his arms and knelt over him. And then, more
boldly, her hand moved across his love handle and gently squeezed in,
something her hands had wanted to experience since the first time she
saw his plump body from her window.
"Do you do this with all the help?" He blurted with a smile, shifting
slightly from her touch.
She withdrew her hands from him, stunned. He was just making a joke,
but the underlying tension of their different social strata that had
bubbling under the entire time of their acquaintance and just hit her
with full force, especially given the intimacy they had finally shared.
“Is that what you think this is? The bored, rich girl getting her
kicks?" She felt her heart clench up.
"I don't know what to think, honestly. You have to give me a little
credit for wondering what a girl like you, who could have any guy she
wanted, is doing making the moves on a fat guy from Mayfair."
A tear rolled down her cheek as she sat there, motionless, studying the
beige, plaid carpet to keep from sobbing. It struck her so clearly in
that moment that this was her life; this would always be her life. She
didn't choose to be born into wealth yet it seemed to confine her as
much as provide for her. She had never felt comfortable in her attempts
to connect with most people, much less the boys she felt attracted to.
It had all come to a head, staring her in the face in the form of a
cute, sweet guy like Sean that she just wanted to be with. She had
somehow summoned the strength to show him that she was interested, and
now he was questioning her motives, relegating her actions to something
phony or meaningless. "Is that what you think of me?" She
asked him, her eyes still fixed on the intersecting lines of the dated
Berber pattern on the floor.
"I didn't mean to insult you, Allie," he apologized.
"That doesn't answer my question," she countered, now feeling sorrier
for herself than angry with him.
"Well, I mean, it's hard to understand why you're going out on dates
with that Porsche-guy and then coming on to me here with me in the pool
Sean's reminder of Jimmy’s presence this summer forced her to step
outside of herself for a moment and realize that he had a point, as
painful as it was. He didn't know her heart, her desires, and her
lifelong feelings of not belonging to this superficial world. He could
only see her wealth, a summer of leisure, and dates with buff guys who
drive hyper-expensive imports.
She acknowledged his unease with a nod, "I get it... I can only imagine
what my life looks like to you. All I can say is that I really like
you, and ... I'm so not interested in Jimmy, he's not my type," she
admitted and then regretted sounding trite. "But I'm kind of afraid
that you'll get mad at me again if I tell you that I admire you."
"Why would I be mad?" Sean’s mouth was still drawn open in bewilderment.
"You kind of chewed me out for calling you 'normal’ that one day,” she
"My head was somewhere else," he explained, prompting Allie to remember
his Janeane problem, wondering if that was an underlying issue. She had
been thinking too much about Janeane, a girl she had never met, but who
made her feel inferior anyway.
"I shouldn't be so sensitive, I know," she countered. "But I can't do
anything about all of this, Sean," she gestured to her family's massive
estate. "I see you as a really interesting and intelligent guy. And
you're cute," she smiled and looked away, stopping short of too much
praise of his good looks; and heaven forbid, her attraction to his
plumpness. She didn't know how he'd react to it after his 'fat kid from
Mayfair' comment. "And I can't help that I want to kiss you," she
whispered looking back in his eyes, feeling her emotions well up to her
Without explanation, Sean moved back into her space for another long
kiss. Her hands jumped right back on his body, moving down to his
chubby sides her fingers pressed back into his flesh, delivering a
mixed sense of pleasure and unease about what she might or might not
But what she did touch felt like she had always hoped it would: velvet
soft, comforting yet exhilarating. Those hints of pleasure she had
previously felt flow through her body when she looked at him were now
coursing through every vein in a frenzy when she grazed her hand along
his fat belly that was now pouring through the robe and over his belt.
She didn't mind anymore that he questioned her motives; she didn't care
that her own robe was falling open and revealing her modest chest. She
didn't stop him when his hand ran inside and over her right breast. She
didn't stop him when his hand pushed her robe down off her shoulder and
landed on the ground revealing her bare middle. And she didn’t stop him
when his hand slipped down between her legs, grazing lightly over her
She had always stopped other boys, but she had no control to stop Sean.
It was what she wanted, so desperately, for the first time in her life,
she truly desired sex. Would her first time be in the pool house?
Better than drunk at a frat house... or with someone she wasn't
attracted to, much less in love with. Was she in love with Sean? Is
this what it was?
As their bodies moved to a horizontal position on the floor, she felt
his trepidation by the way he tried to keep himself beside her rather
than on top of her. "This is a little uncomfortable on the floor, isn’t
it?" She paused from the kissing, cracking a demure smile.
He rubbed his hand along the carpet, "Berber is not great for making
out," he joked.
Allie stood up, now only her panties, dampened from the rain, to cover
her. She didn't even notice. She could only feel the craving to be next
to him and feel everything there was to feel with him. She motioned for
him to follow behind her into the same room that Sean had changed into
the robe. He followed her...
The humidity from the storm made the air warm and heavy. She sat on the
bed, smiling in admiration of the way his robe was totally open now,
standing and facing her. She got more excited by the way his tummy
jiggled a little as he moved toward the bed. He looked her in the eye,
sat down next to her and eagerly leaned in for more kissing.
Even though he seemed to have let go of his inhibitions, he was still
hesitant to move on top of her. He ran his hand down her side. Her body
language was unmistakable that she wanted him, but he still asked,
"Allie, do you really want this?"
"Mmmm hmmmm, yes Sean," she murmured, feeling out of control in her
desire for him.
He tested the waters further with his hand, running down her abdomen
and reaching between her legs. His fingers lightly stroked her, slowly
sliding in, playfully hinting at what may lie ahead. She felt her face
flush and she smiled and kissed him deeper, "that feels so nice, Sean,"
He very worked cautiously but decidedly more into her, finding her
sweet spot and making her moan loudly. She was relieved he knew exactly
what he was doing, because she didn’t have the experience to take
charge. "You really know how to do that," she murmured in his ear as he
made the lower half of her body tingle. Her hands kneaded into his love
handles again, making her feel the rush of desire coming. She unlaced
the belt of his robe that barely contained itself anymore, opening up
her view of his round belly resting on the bed sideways. But he wasn't
so fat that she couldn't see what hung underneath it.
She took her hand and stroked him, amazed by how hard he was. "Do you
want this?" She asked him, trying hard not to stare at the jiggle of
his flab, even though it added to her stimulation. He moved over her,
but carefully not letting his weight collapse on her.
It hurt a bit, when he first went inside of her, but he had gotten her
so excited that once he was in, the feeling was smooth and natural. Now
she could see why people were obsessed with sex. It felt so good! The
pressure built up in her, watching his belly rub against her body, and
she couldn't stop from releasing and letting it wash over
her. The pent-up desire she had been experiencing all summer,
prompted by Sean's sexiness, exploded throughout her body, sending
shockwaves to her toes.
Allie was astonished by how she had come, so naturally, in spite of
feeling inexperienced, fumbling around before he took over and guided
himself inside of her. And yet was surprised at how boldly she took a
hold of his fattest, blubbery parts, coming at the moment her hand was
cupped under his belly. It was a rite of passage in her self-knowledge
that she was a woman who needed a fat guy to feel sexually complete. It
wasn’t just in her head as a weird fantasy anymore; she had finally
lived it out and it was perfect.
"I never imagined that this day would end up like this," he stroked her
hair while she lay beside him, lightly exploring his sparse chest hairs.
"Me neither," she looked up at him and smiled, kissing his soft chest
"The rain stopped," he pointed to the window.
"Who cares?" She grabbed around him and held tightly.
"I'm on the clock, you know," he reminded her.
"I'll have them take it out of my allowance," she joked, snuggling into
"I don't think I can put gigolo on my medical residency application,"
he joked back.
"Why did it take all summer for this to happen?" she wondered out loud.
"Had you been plotting to seduce me, just waiting for the perfect
storm?" He laughed.
"I guess I did, kind of seduce you," she laughed back. "Strange..."
"Strange that it wasn't the other way around?" His tone changed.
"No, no," she didn't want him to misunderstand her meaning, "Strange
because I'm not usually like this. I'm pretty shy with this… stuff..."
He looked at her in disbelief, "Yeah, right."
"No, honestly," she stopped him, "I'm sort of," she paused,
"inexperienced," she whispered.
"So what made you jump me?" he grinned.
"Honestly?" She wasn't sure she could say it out loud.
"Yeah," he nodded, "Considering what we just did, you should be able to
be honest. I can take it."
She turned red and looked away, and took a deep breath.
"Come on, Allie," he tickled her tummy, making her almost jump out of
her skin, "out with it."
"Okay, okay, just don't tickle me," she pushed his hands away from her
middle. "I already told you I thought you're very attractive," she
avoided being more blunt honesty about the appeal of his tubbiness
encased in that robe.
"Cute doesn't make girls come," he laughed.
She turned deeper red, knowing she should just tell him what made her
get so horny for him, but she couldn't find words that didn't make her
freeze up in fear. Fat? Blubber? Flab? Chub? They couldn't come out of
her mouth, it was just so forbidden. So she tried to do it with her
hands rubbing along his flabbiest parts, "You just feel so good, like
pleasingly plump,” she joked, referencing their conversation a week
"You like a teddy bear," he ran his hands though her hair.
She grinned, so relieved that it seemed he would understand, at least a
little. Let him think it's a teddy bear thing. He doesn't need to know
that his growing porkiness makes me wet between my legs, does he?
"Do you go on dates?" she asked him, hoping that wasn't lame to ask,
hoping she could get more time with him before she would be far away
"Yeah," he smiled, "We sometimes date in North Philly."
"Would you be willing to go on a date with a spoiled Main Line brat?"
She smiled back.
"What would we do?" He asked.
"How about a walk in the park and some ice cream?" She offered,
thinking it was romantic without the date pressure of dinner and a
He looked at her strangely, but then agreed, "Sure."
"Tomorrow's Saturday, are you free?" Allie asked with a large smile
across her face.
The Sun had come back out as afternoon rays shot through the window,
“Yeah, Fairmont, right?”
Allie smiled and nodded. Fairmont Park was perfect.
Sitting on a bench near the Japanese gardens at Fairmount, Allie
watched Sean lick around his ice cream cone, mesmerized by the contour
of the chub that rested on his lap, moving up and down with each
breath. Long before their rainstorm encounter, Allie had begun the
process of acknowledging her sexy feelings about Sean's weight. Yet she
still struggled with why imagining him indulge and gain weight made her
feel so excited. And she couldn’t stop herself from wondering when
she'd be able to feel him inside of her again, his bloated belly
pressing into her body and making her come.
The easy way they had come to ecstasy together took her thoughts in
another direction... would this be fleeting? Would they ever be an
item, or just a fling? Could they carry on with an ocean between them?
What would happen if they dated?
"What would your friends say about us?" Allie continued her speculation
out loud, thinking of Mike and Charlie, and those caustic words she had
overheard about her status and his weight.
"Depends," he shrugged his shoulders. "Mostly they'd all be jealous;
you're damn fine," he smiled and winked at her. He hadn’t flattered her
much in the time they’d known each other, so hearing his smooth praise
made her feel even more gooey inside. She had never felt comfortable
with compliments, especially from boys, but loved that Sean was finally
saying nice things to her.
"What about Mike and Charlie?" she asked.
"They're not really my friends, Allie," he cleared that up, "just Micks
from the neighborhood." But then he went ahead and answered her
question anyway, "Mike would be cool; Charlie would be ticked that you
picked the fat one," he smiled. "He'd be offended it wasn't him in the
pool house with you."
Allie made a disgusted face, liking Charlie even less.
"Would be funnier to imagine your friends' reaction," Sean countered.
"Maia would be excited and happy for me," Allie blurted, realizing she
didn't want to imply something suddenly serious between them, as much
as she wanted it. "I mean, she's boy crazy, she'd be excited to hear I
met a great guy this summer."
"What about the sorority girls? Or your Main Line friends?" He pushed a
"They're not my friends, at all. I couldn't care less what they think,"
she felt triumphant in dismissing them. She didn't have to deal with
any of them… for a while anyway. She was days away from her year in
Europe. And then her heart dropped again, reminded that she wouldn't
see Sean for a long time, even if he were willing to wait for her to
“You still have a few days left at the house, right?” She asked him
“I was supposed to finish up most of it on Friday, but then the rain,”
he smiled, acknowledging in his sneaky grin what they had done during
that wonderful downpour. “And I still have a couple of days of clean up
Allie felt a surge of bliss that he alluded to their encounter with a
sexy grin, not needing any more words than that.
“So you’ll come over Tuesday?” She continued her hopeful line of
questioning. “I have to take the train to New York on Monday to meet
with my thesis advisor... and then I’m leaving Wednesday,” she babbled.
“To work, on Tuesday, yes,” he smirked, reminding her that he was there
for work and not dating.
“What about after work?” she hid her annoyance at his ‘all work and no
play’ approach. She was more concerned with getting one more shot at
feeling his body next to hers.
“What are you trying to ask me, Allie?” Sean’s grin widened.
“Can I make you dinner?” She blurted, wondering if that sounded weird.
She felt weird already about leading him through the large oak doors,
seeing the marbled floors, mantled fireplaces, elaborate crown moldings
and most embarrassingly, the massive imperial staircase. But she wanted
to be with him again, even if it meant facing the awkwardness of her
“Uh, yeah, you mean at your...” Sean paused, “Your, estate?” He laughed.
She punched his arm lightly in jest, “I already feel stupid asking, but
it seems like a nice way to say goodbye,” she explained.
He smiled and nodded casually, in his consistently nonchalant way.
They walked a little longer, and then parted ways with a sweet, gentle
kiss that contrasted sharply with the intensity of the rainy afternoon
they had shared the day before.
“You’ve done a lot of work this summer, Allie,” Professor Porter raised
his eye above her papers with an approving smile.
“Thanks,” she blushed, consuming his praise. He had been good to her,
taking her under his wing in a way that no teacher or professor had
ever really done before. She was always an excellent student, but her
shyness and lack of confidence had usually kept her from being at ease
enough to forge comfortable teacher-student relationships. She moved in
and out of classes without much more than “nice work” and “well done”
comments on her “A” papers and tests.
Dr. Porter was different though. He showed an interest in her that was
respectful and dignified. It was almost odd, especially given
his handsome and youthful looks. He could have easily been one of those
professors that used his position and charms to woo her, but he never
made her feel like his interest was anything more than that of a
He was married, something she noted the first time she visited his
office. He kept a wedding picture displayed prominently on his desk. It
revealed a slightly younger version of himself, happily smiling next to
his lovely bride, who was rather plump looking. She was definitely
beautiful; a young blonde with cherubic cheeks, bit of double chin and
a deep d�colletage in fru tulle. He was a lean, fit man, and an avid
triathlete. The physical mismatch had surprised her, but also
One day in his office last winter, he caught her gazing at the picture.
“I have to wonder why so many of my female students take such an
interest in a simple wedding photo,” he smirked.
“Um, sorry,” she stuttered, feeling ashamed of her thoughts. With her
own sexual interests beginning to bubble under at that time, she
couldn’t help but wonder if his were something like hers.
“It’s okay, Allie,” he smiled, “I have the picture in my office, so
it’s not a secret that I’m a married man,” he laughed. “I think they’re
curious about the fact that I married a big beautiful woman,” he stated
Allie remembered how red her face had become, almost feeling nauseous
that he seemed to have seen right into her thoughts. Her shock forced
the only honest response she could muster, “She is very beautiful.”
“She still is,” his gentle and smitten response reassured her.
Her comfort in his presence increased tenfold after that conversation,
especially in the knowledge that he was happy in his marriage and
probably had no designs on Allie other than that he respected her work.
“Subletting in Gramercy has been amazing this summer,” Dr. Porter
snapped her back to the present. “It was really hot, though,” he
“Yeah,” Allie agreed, “In Philly too.”
“My wife hated it,” he added, “She kept herself in the library all
summer, with her research. She’d only come out with me at night when
the sun was long gone,” he laughed. Allie imagined him and his wife,
after a big meal at Tavern on the Green, embraced under the Manhattan
moonlight, his lean body pressed into his wife’s big, soft breasts and
hanging belly, grabbing her round behind. Or at least it was how she
imagined his wife to be after a few years of marriage.
He snapped her from her thoughts again, “So besides this work, what did
you do all summer?” He asked, instantly reminding her of Sean.
“I had the volunteer job at Children’s,” she reminded him, “and I
played some tennis too,” she felt herself bursting inside, but holding
back information about her new love interest.
“You seem glowing,” he smiled intuitively, “and not a tennis glow, more
like a love glow.”
She felt herself turning several shades of pink, “I’m seeing someone.”
She bashfully admitted.
“Obviously, tell me about him,” he prompted her.
“He goes to Temple, pre-med,” she started.
“Is he a jerk or is he good to you?” he became almost fatherly in his
“He’s a good guy, hardworking,” she started, not sure whether he had a
chance to be good to her, other than in bed.
“He’s not one of those country club jerks, is he? All style, no
substance?” He continued to be skeptical, knowing her social
“He’s the opposite of that,” she laughed. “I think you’d like
him.” She wanted to tell him that Sean was on the tubby side,
just to see what her Professor’s reaction would be, but she didn’t know
how to throw that information around easily without feeling all the
more self-conscious about her fat fixation.
“I hope I do... of course, you’ll be in Europe for a while, you may
forget all about him once you fall in love with Rome.”
Allie shrugged her shoulders. She just couldn’t imagine that happening.
Sean was over early the next morning, her last full day in the United
States, for a while. He was already hard at work with the final clean
up touches on the stone statues around the pool area. Allie quickly
showered, got dressed and raced down to the patio steps. She slowed
down when she reached Sean’s field of vision and sauntered casually to
the pool area. He glanced up and his face widened to a big smile.
“Good morning,” he offered happily, and more openly than previous
“Morning,” she responded, noticing his eyes on her legs. “I love how
well you’re taking care of these,” she praised him, eyeing the
intricate work he had done on her beloved collection of Greek gods
standing gracefully to the west of the perimeter of the pool
area. “Apollo and Daphne have always been my favorite.”
“This Aphrodite with Eros is the best piece,” Sean lightly touched
little Eros’ head, charming Allie with his knowledge of neoclassical
sculpture, “at least it’s in the best shape. The climate is too crappy
here for these beauties,” he frowned. “These probably came from a more
temperate climate. It looks like years of ice and cold have done some
“Really?” Allie was distraught.
“I’ll have my dad send your folks a letter advising them how to better
protect these in the winter,” he offered.
“Oh, please do. My dad travels too much to think about that stuff, and
my Mom’s too scattered. They need reinforcement from the
professionals,” she winked.
He continued his work while she eyed the way his flab filled his plain
white T-shirt, noticing how well his deep belly button was showing
through the white cotton material. She had known him for less than two
months, but he had definitely put on at least a few pounds, she thought.
“I’m heading over to the hospital for my last shift,” she
informed him, trying to keep her eyes and thoughts off of his roundness.
“Okay,” he continued to work.
“Hardest thing will be saying goodbye to some of the kids,” Allie was
dreading it, “I’m afraid I will cry in front of them.”
“That’s the last thing they need,” Sean looked up and in her eyes
intently. “Think like a statue,” he rubbed his hand along Artemis while
Allie looked at her stone-still, steely, huntress eyes, “it’s more
important that they feel safe.”
Allie knew Sean was right. Crying adults can really upset kids; she
would be strong. But Sean’s advice made her wonder, was that his
technique for often remaining aloof? Does Sean think like a statue?
“I’ll be back here around three, do you plan on being around, still?”
She asked, hoping he’d have his shirt off by then.
Sean glanced at his watch, “Yeah, I’ll still be working this afternoon.”
Allie nodded with a smile and tuned back toward the house. She felt the
heat of the sun on her back, wondering if Sean was eyeing her from
behind. But she was too uneasy turn her head and look over her shoulder
back at him. She knew she’d be more disappointed if he wasn’t looking
at her at all.
“So, did you date anyone this summer?" Allie's mother asked knowingly
as they rode the train, admiring the pastoral landscapes and vineyards
of the Burgundy region, heading toward their short holiday in Paris.
"A little," she smiled, knowing that she'd have to mention Jimmy, but
felt more bursting with both excitement and ache over her brief romance
Her thoughts drafted back to their last night together. She had made
him Teriyaki beef skewers, coconut noodles and cucumber peanut salad.
It wasn’t a heavy meal, but he ate nearly everything she cooked. After
he devoured her homemade honey cinnamon graham ice cream, she couldn’t
stop herself from grabbing his hands and leading him up the Imperial
staircase, down the east wing to her suite of rooms. She noticed his
eyes along the walls, observing the artwork first, then watching him
eye the oak paneling and high ceilings, but he didn’t say a word, just
followed along, right to her bed.
Sean gave Allie one more amazing evening that she hadn’t been able to
stop thinking about since. They spent the very late hours on her
sleeping porch, feeling the breeze while stealing caresses along his
soft paunch and plump love handles. She walked him out at 4am,
carefully avoiding the security cameras and kissing him goodbye. It was
incredibly bittersweet, to know she was leaving him for so many months,
and yet she would take the most fantastic, wonderful memories of heaven
“So?” her mother demanded, bringing Allie back to the earth.
"Well, I went on a few dates with Jimmy Oliver," she offered
nonchalantly, feeling guilty about the erotic images of Sean that had
been clouding her brain ever since they parted.
"I heard…" her mother smiled like the Cheshire cat. She hadn't stayed
too far away from the gossip line.
"Yeah, but it didn't work out, really," she attempted to downplay what
she knew her mother would dissect anyway.
"Why not? He seems like a nice boy," Jane seemed distraught.
"He was nice, just no chemistry," Allie tried to explain.
"Really?" Jane seemed incredulous.
"Yeah, really, Mom. Just because a guy is good looking it doesn't mean
he's fun to be around or interesting to talk to," she retorted.
"Okay," she seemed disappointed. "Anything else of interest to report?"
"I started seeing this other guy," Allie's frustration over the Jimmy
topic turned quickly into joy at the mere thought of Sean.
"From the club?" She asked.
Allie realized she had better not talk about how she met Sean. She
didn't want to get him into trouble for fraternizing on the job; her
mother could always assume the worst.
"No, the hospital," she lied. "Medical student," seemed like an easy
transition back to the truth.
"Really," Jane seemed to brighten up again.
"His name is Sean," she offered more, wishing she could be totally
honest with her mother about how she felt about him, but realized she
had better save the intimate details for Maia's less judgmental nature.
"Is he from Philadelphia?"
"Yeah," she told her, "He goes to Temple."
"So will he wait for you while you're over here?" Her mother sounded
"I don’t know, Jane," Allie became terse, "I guess it depends on
whether he thinks I'm worth it."
Jane cocked her head knowingly, "Of course you are, dear; but men can
be men. I was surprised that your father waited for me while I spent so
much time on my thesis here in Paris before coming home when Grandma
"Daddy would have waited forever for you," Allie acknowledged how much
her father adored her mother, even when he was completely frustrated
with her. "Anyway, it's not like I've known him that long, it's not
super serious or anything," she downplayed her infatuation.
"Well, enjoy your time while you're here, but be careful not to break
too many hearts. Italian men love pretty American girls like you," Jane
"Mom, enough with the stereotypes," Allie cringed. "And I'm here for
school, remember? That thing you do for a living?"
"I expect you'll be brilliant as usual. It's in your DNA," Jane
responded confidently with a wink. At least Allie could always count on
her mother to praise her daughter’s academic acumen, if nothing
else. “So, your father talked to Holden. I understand Monica
is doing well with the pregnancy,” there was some wistfulness is Jane’s
voice, having been gradually estranged, especially after he married
Monica. Allie talked to Holden regularly, but didn’t talk to Jane about
it. She knew all about the baby girl that was due in October.
“Good,” Allie just smiled, “Maybe a baby will soften everyone up a
little,” Allie spoke softly, hoping her words were true, and her family
would find their way back to common ground with the help of a new
member. Allie was thrilled to share the Beaumont lineage with another
girl; it would be nice to share the job with someone else, she mused to
Jane nodded and looked out the window. Allie knew nothing more was to
be said on the subject, for now.
As Allie stepped out of her cab in the Centro Storico, she looked down
the narrow Via dei Barbieri, enthralled with the old world she had just
come into. She had been to Italy with her parents when she was younger,
but never on her own, and never through such appreciative eyes. She was
due to meet Maia at the Palazzo Lazzaroni in an hour, so she decided to
survey the place she would call her home for the next several months.
She walked at a brisk pace down the narrow, stone-covered walkways and
busy streets. She knew what she was looking for, following the map she
had memorized on her flight across the Atlantic. She was singularly
focused, barely noticing the heads she turned with her copper hair and
flawless fair skin. Goosebumps covered her arms as she turned the
corner and found Trevi Fountain, marveling at the throngs of people and
neoclassic beauty they surrounded.
She worked her way up to the water, took two coins from her purse and
hidden in the palm of her hand she rubbed them for good luck. One was a
state quarter featuring her beloved state of Pennsylvania, and the
other was a newly acquired, bimetallic 500 lira coin. In a sea of
strangers, she turned her back to the fountain, tossed the quarter over
her shoulder, and wished that Sean would think of her while she was
away, and maybe even keep himself so busy that he wouldn't have time to
think of anyone else. With her lira, she tossed it backwards as well,
wishing for her return someday to Rome, holding Sean's hand, sharing a
beautiful sight with the only man who could appreciate it as much as
Checking her watch, she made her way back to the Palazzo Lazzaroni to
find Maia waiting for her on the street where they were to share an
"I'm so glad to see you," Maia cried, giving Allie an emotionally big
"You are glowing, girl, I love your hair!" Allie brushed over Maia's
new shorter shoulder length hair. Allie felt a twinge of jealousy over
how gorgeous Maia looked in her royal blue peasant flyaway shirt and
denim shorts. When Allie was at her biggest, which was not much smaller
than Maia, she felt that she looked swollen and pale. But on Maia, her
curves looked so appealing and healthy.
"I'm finally fitting back into shorts I haven't worn since high
school," Maia ran her hands along her behind. Allie glanced down ever
so briefly to notice how the curve of her belly was packed in tightly,
forcing a roll of chubbiness to bulge over her waist.
"You better not obsess about your diet while we're here," Allie nudged
her. "This is the land of the most exquisite carbohydrates in the
world," she giggled.
"You're one to talk, Al," she pursed her lips.
"I promise I won't obsess if you don't," Allie agreed with a smile.
Feeling free from the severe restrictions of the country club and
sorority worlds, she meant it. She was going to try to balance her life
better with sensible eating and a lot of walking rather than the rigid
diet and excessive exercise she had been beating herself up with.
"So, how did your summer finish?" Maia asked, immediately turning her
interests to Allie's love life.
"Good," Allie slyly smiled, understating that she was obviously giddy
in love, leading Maia to squeal.
"Did you get with the hot guy from Temple?" she asked loud enough to
Her smile widened as she looked away coyly.
"You did! Hello? I want all the details!"
Allie told her bits and pieces but held back the sexier particulars.
That was between her and Sean. And she avoided talking about his body
all together. She knew she wasn't embarrassed about being with him, she
just didn't know how to verbally express her carnal desire for his
After a couple of weeks in an intensive Italian language immersion
course and non-stop sightseeing, Allie settled into a busy routine.
Every night her fingertips danced on her keyboard, trying to come up
with words to send to Sean. She would begin to write things to him, but
then read them back and find them too corny, or reveal her feelings too
much. The last thing she wanted to do was seem desperate, or a head
case. She procrastinated, obsessing daily about what she would write to
him if she would write at all. After all, he hadn’t written to her
either, had he?
And then she found a devastatingly compelling reason to write.
Terrorists had attacked New York and DC. She had been eating a late
lunch with Maia when they overheard some locals talking about it. There
were rumors that other cities were threatened, including Philadelphia.
The girls ran back to their apartment, trying to get through to their
homes, but getting nothing but busy signals.
Allie felt sick inside, remembering the World Trade Center bombing in
1993. Her father was working in the North Tower at the time.
When she had gotten home from school that afternoon, she found her
mother crying. She informed Allie that something terrible had happened
at her father’s office that day, but didn’t know what was happening.
She remembered feeling horribly cold and numb, not knowing what to do
or say. Holden was frantic, wanting to hop in the car and drive
straight to New York, and Jane trying to calm him down.
As the evening wore on, their voices raised louder and louder at each
other, when Kenneth made a call to them. He had finally gotten out but
had suffered some smoke inhalation while waiting in the stairwell and
was being treated at St. Vincent’s. He was on some Oxygen but going to
be okay. Looking back, Allie felt that incident was the dividing line
between an idyllic, naive life to a more mature, yet more uncertain and
As Allie and Maia sat in silence, trying to get news reports online,
the phone finally rang. Her mother had gotten through. Allie’s family
was okay. Kenneth was in Zurich, Jane was safe at home, and Holden's
family was all fine in California. “They shut everything
down, Allie,” her mother sobbed, “I was at school, frantically trying
to call your father, trying to get a hold of you. Holden even called.”
“Mom... I hate not being there with you,” Allie started.
“I hate that you’re not here at home,” Jane was more emotional than
Allie had seen her in a long time. Probably not since the 1993
bombing. “But Daddy is the logical one, of course, he thinks
you’re very safe right where you are.”
“And Monica?” Allie was concerned for Holden’s newly forming family.
“Still pregnant, but close to the end. I had a good conversation with
Holden,” a reassured tone entered the conversation, to Allie’s relief.
She had been hoping they would finally talk again.
“That’s wonderful,” she felt choked up. The tiny silver lining of any
tragedy was that it offered people the opportunity to appreciate and
love each other a little more.
She had heard from Doctor Porter, he had been safely back at Cornell
for the fall semester, but was mourning the destruction that occurred
in his beloved lower Manhattan. Everyone she knew was accounted for and
at least physically okay.
But what about Sean? She needed to hear from him more than ever now.
"Sean," she sat down at her computer and began to type. "Please shoot
me back a note to let me know you’re fine and your family, friends,
anyone else you know is okay. I'm feeling so removed from what's going
on at home." She longed to tell him how much she missed him and sign
off with “Love.” But instead, she just simply typed her name, "Allie"
Three long days passed before she received a return email. “Allie,” he
wrote, “I’ve been volunteering at a call center at Mount Sinai,” he
wrote. “They were reaching out to medical students in the region as
volunteers. With everything shut down and going nowhere, I needed to do
something. But it’s been hard, harder than I thought it would be.”
Allie’s eyes were welled up in tears, imagining the families calling
him, finding out their loved ones had been victims of an unimaginable
terrorist attack that had claimed thousands of lives.
He continued, “I was really glad to hear from you. I needed something
good to think about in the midst of all of this,” he admitted, clearly
moved by what was happening.
She wrote back again, and then he wrote back in return. Their email
correspondence over a common tragedy, hitting so close to home, allowed
them to get to know each other more, without the weirdness of a mansion
and social divide looming over their relationship. They were just two
people sharing their minds and hearts from more than 4000 miles away
from each other.
Their emails continued over the months, very regularly. They covered
every topic, including favorite music, movies, museums, philosophers,
comedians... and in these emails they developed an intimacy of hopes
for the future. And between the lines in this back and forth growing
familiarity, was the occasional sexual innuendo that got Allie through
so many months of not feeling Sean wrapped around her body. Their
regular online contact reassured her that they may have a future, which
made her feel safe and even content, but she was never quite satisfied.
She knew she wouldn’t be until she was back home, and somehow back in
"Good morning, beautiful," Sean kissed Allie on the forehead and cheeks.
"Hi," she smiled sweetly, enjoying the way his hands felt running over
the curve of her hip, feeling the warm sun shine over her face though
the bedroom window of her apartment. She had a great view of the
Schuylkill River and a nice location in the city. Her father had a
business colleague in need of a summer sub letter so it was a blissful
destiny that put them together in the city they both identified as
home, even if what home meant to each of them was two very different
"Did you enjoy last night?" his hands now roaming up the inside seam of
her legs to more sensitive areas. The way Sean made her feel, in those
moments together in bed... the feelings of isolation and
uneasiness thawed away into something far more satisfying and
She grabbed around his love handles and smiled sheepishly, "Do I need a
reminder?" And with that invitation, Sean made love to her again like
they had the night before, although perhaps a little more gently this
time. They were still waking up, after all.
Curling up together, her hand brushed along his velvety soft tummy. She
knew she adored the new blubber that had built up around his body while
she was away. The fact of enjoying his gain embarrassed her a little,
yet she had at least come to the point of acknowledging to herself that
she had a thing for fat... especially Sean's fat.
Allie had moved into her new apartment a couple of days after returning
from Europe. When she was settled in, she invited Sean over. She nearly
burst waiting for the moment she would finally again see the man she
had come to think of as her long, lost love. Through the peep hole she
could already see he had put on a lot of weight over the months she was
away. When she opened the door and saw him in full view, her fingers
trembled with excitement to get themselves onto all of those new, fresh
He had never mentioned it during their correspondence. She was kind of
surprised he didn’t “warn” her that he had grown even more round. Then
again, she hadn’t warned him that she had put on a few pounds as well
herself; just not as many as he had. But none of that
mattered in the moments of reconnecting. They exchanged a few forgotten
words before they darted to her bedroom, rapidly stripped off their
clothes, and found lustful joy in rediscovering each other’s bodies.
"Can I ask you something?" Sean put his hands on hers, jolting her
thoughts back to the present.
"Sure," she answered tentatively.
"Does my," he paused, "weight bother you? Because you know I'm trying
to lose some," he explained.
She turned red and looked away, "Um, no."
"Come on, Allie, you avoid the topic whenever I bring it up," he
pressed her while she felt her heart pound.
"Well, I always thought it was rude to talk about things like that,"
she was instinctively evasive.
"Sure, when you’re talking about other people. But I'm asking you, as
the guy who’s lying naked next to you. You can't very well avoid my
gut. Its right in the middle of things when we… you know...." he
"Sean," she sighed and felt her cheeks get even more red, thinking
about how his bigger belly did have to be managed during sex, how much
that turned her on. And now she felt keenly aware of his delicious fat
that lay between them in bed at that moment; she wished he’d just stop
talking about it because it was making her crazy. But what words
described those thoughts? She didn’t have any. "I think you are fine
the way you are."
"Wouldn't you like to see me lose weight though?" He pressed her more.
She had no idea how to answer that question. How could she tell him she
wanted him to stay big or worse yet, get bigger? When she knew that she
would be sickened if he told her to lose weight to be sexier. "Is this
about my weight too?" she brought up, falling into her pattern of
self-consciousness over her own curves rather than deal with her
attraction to his.
"What? You’re perfect," he ran his hand along her side.
"Sean, I gained 15 pounds in Europe, you can't tell?" she demanded he
"Honestly? It looks amazing on you. You were so thin when you left..."
he started to say, and seemed to catch himself and think through his
words, "You just had plenty of room to gain a few pounds... what I mean
is that you look incredible, thin or a little curvy. Me? I went from
already too fat to even fatter."
Fatter... her body relished the way he said the word; the way it felt
when he alluded to how much tubbier he had gotten during the time she
was away. But as usual, she avoided dealing with her fetish and instead
bristled over his tacit acknowledgement that she had gained her own
share, even if he meant it as a compliment. "That's how I feel," she
surprised herself by saying anything out loud like that about her
weight, a topic she always avoided. "My mother's face dropped when she
picked me up at the airport."
"She was probably just happy to see you," Sean tried to reassure.
"Yeah, except she said," emulating her mother's voice, "'I see you
enjoyed yourself since Christmas,' and then something like, 'being back
to your regular routine at the club will take care of that.' I hate
when she does that," Allie muttered.
"Seriously, Allie," he touched her face, "You're just about every guy's
dream, you're not fat at all, you look really healthy and sexy, trust
me. My question is so not about you at all. I did my BMI calculation,
I'm officially obese. If I keep going this way, I'll be a morbidly
obese doctor," he frowned, showing more hints of insecurity than she
had ever seen in him before.
Allie didn't know how big morbidly obese was, but she knew that Sean's
bigger body made her feel excited. She just wasn't sure how to tell him
that without it sounding like a pervert, so she joked, "If you're
obese, then obese isn't that big."
Sean kissed her forehead and whispered, "You're good with tact, aren’t
Allie wanted him to understand that she really did like him bigger, but
she didn't know what the right words were, so she smiled and let it be.
"Let's spend the fourth in the city," she stroked his strong, yet soft
arm. She was falling in love with living in the city, just as she had
fallen in love with Sean. She couldn't imagine going back to the dull
Cricket Club and their snooty party.
"Are you embarrassed to take me to your fancy club soiree?" He tickled
her along her bare back.
She squirmed at his touch, and a bit over his accusation as well,
however jokingly he delivered it. "Not at all," she held onto his arm,
"It's just so boring there."
"And Porsche guy will be there," he looked at her intently.
Allie rolled her eyes, bristling at the thought of seeing Jimmy,
especially now that she was a little bit heavier, "Probably," she
"And your parents," he continued.
"I told you, anytime you want to meet them, I can arrange it. Dad
travels a lot, but I can call his assistant and find out when he'll be
"Call his assistant? If you want to meet my parents, we can meet them
"I do want to meet them. Can I take you up on that offer?" She called
his bluff, wanting to get to know the people who Sean loved most.
Sean rolled over and picked up his phone while Allie nestled in the
soft crook of his arm and traced her fingers along the center of his
chest in between the mounds of flesh that had grown noticeably since
the summer before.
"Dad?" The loud din of a stone splitting machine hummed in the
"What's going on, son?” Allie could hear Ray yell through the phone.
"You and mom wanna go out tonight? Meet Allie and me for dinner?" He
yelled back, used to the noise.
"Yeah, we can do that," Ray sounded thrilled. “Where at?"
"How 'bout Gallos," Allie noticed Sean lapsing into his North Philly
cadence as he talked to his father.
"Your mother loves Gallos. Meet you there at six?"
After Sean hung up, Allie questioned the time, "Six? That’s really
"My parents eat early," Sean explained. “Most people from my
neighborhood eat earlier than you Main Liners,” he rolled his eyes.
Allie felt stupid for having questioned it. "I have to be at the
Hospital by eight; I better shower and get out of here."
"Can I join you?" She offered, wanting to him to leave on a good note,
and enjoy one more go around with his bigger body. Allie couldn’t have
ever imagined showering with a boy until Sean came along. Despite her
usual insecurities about her own body, which were fueled up by her
recent weight gain, Sean was so complimentary about her curves that she
could be able to let go of her inhibitions with him, especially if it
meant enjoying his body too. Once she experienced the thrill of
massaging a soapy lather around his wide torso, her fingers gently
slipping into his deepening side rolls and making their way along the
cusp of his drooping belly and then onto his hardness underneath it.
She couldn't resist letting him having his way with her under the warm
stream of water.
When Sean dressed and left, she lounged in her robe for 15 minutes,
lost in thought about how happy she felt. In fact, she had never been
happier on her life. She finally felt like a real adult: on her own,
building a relationship with a wonderful man, without the opinions of
others constraining her. Except this extra weight, she thought, feeling
half guilty for having gained a few, and half guilty for agonizing over
Allie hopped out of bed and started the day like she did every day, on
the scale. Oh well, she thought, at least I'm a down five from when I
got back a few weeks ago. It would be nice to get back down to normal
before summer is over, she thought. Ugh, I hate that word,
‘Normal.’ She put on her running gear and headed out for a
long slow, fat burning jog through downtown, and along the river
parkway, calculating how many miles she would have to run to offset the
loaded deep dish pizza and turtle sundae she shared with Sean the night
It was a Friday, her day off from the summer internship she had going
at a mid-sized engineering firm downtown. She was hired as a project
manager's assistant on a civil job for the city. It was mostly
administrative work, but she was just relieved to be living and working
in the city, away from the Main Line social ladder. And, it allowed her
to spend most nights in Sean's arms, just as she had dreamed of during
those long winter months in Europe.
Allie leaned into Sean's soft body as they watched fireworks from
Benjamin Franklin Parkway. "This is amazing!" she sighed.
"Never seen 'em down here before?" He asked her.
"Nope," she smiled and kissed him.
"My mother always insisted on the club," she shrugged her shoulders.
"Except when we spent a couple of holidays down on the shore with my
"It's weird that you've been so many places," he started.
"And yet I'm so sheltered," she finished his thought, "I know, I get
"Allie, it doesn't matter," he softened before she could get a chance
to get angry, "None of that matters," he smiled.
"It doesn't?" she smirked, thinking of the occasional comments he would
make about her privilege. Usually it was in fun, but she was very
sensitive. Probably a little too sensitive, she thought.
"No, it doesn't, because I just love you, and that's all," he blurted.
Allie's smirk dropped and turned to a large grin. He loved her. She had
for so long wondered if she would ever hear a boy say those words to
her. A boy she cherished and so wanted to be with, loved her. And
better than that, she felt strongly that he loved her in spite of her
wealth, and in spite of her flaws.
"I love you too," she responded honestly. She was elated to return the
He caressed her waist, a sensation she had begun to really enjoy, and
responded in kind by slipping her hand under his shirt and around his
chubby love handle, happily noticing he had stopped flinching in
response to the way she massaged his flab.
"All of me?" he joked.
"Mmmm definitely," she brushed along his symmetrically perfect belly
He stepped back behind her, enveloping her body from behind, and
kissing her neck, "I'm always surprised by the way you touch me," he
whispered in her ear as his hands ran down her hips.
"Is it okay?" She moved her thumb over his deep belly button as the
rest of her fingers ever so slightly sunk into his growing belly.
"If you're not repulsed," he made a concerned face.
"Just the opposite, Sean... you know I can't keep my hands off of you,
even when you try to shoo them away."
He kissed her deeply, took her hand and they walked slowly down the
parkway, back to her place.
The following week she finally found an opening in her parents schedule
and arranged for them to meet Sean. The dinner with his parents had
gone surprisingly easy. Ray and Pam were genuine, practical,
hard-working people. They carried on an easy discussion and it felt
natural. They didn’t make her feel different for a moment.
Her parents might be another story. Her father was used to dealing with
all kinds of people in his business life, and was generally at ease
with almost anyone. But her mother was more of a worry going into these
kinds of situations. Allie figured Jane would instantly notice his
weight, and probably make some snide comment to Allie about it later.
But more so, she was worried her mother would say something related to
their different backgrounds, and raise that nagging sensitivity over
how different their worlds were.
Allie had chosen a trendy yet casual al fresco place on the river so
everyone could relax and just talk about the weather. But she was in
for the shock of her life when they walked into the restaurant. Jane
seemed genuinely happy to meet Sean, and was completely cordial and
downright warm with him. Neither of her parents said a thing remotely
close to bringing up his blue collar family or acknowledging his
generous size. She had expected her mother to say at least something,
even if behind his back. But she didn't. Allie was too afraid to ruin
anything by asking why. Maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal, she
thought. Maybe the fat stuff was just her weird obsession?
Having the parent meetings taken care of, Allie was ready for her best
friend to know the love of her life. She invited Maia down from another
summer in Montreal, to visit Philly. Allie felt it was kind of like
another milestone toward showing the world that she was madly in love
with a boy who was more than a little chubby. Sean's weight, despite
his best intentions to cut back, was not decreasing, to Allie's secret
delight. She knew Maia would be more direct about it than her parents
had been. It’s not that Maia would have a problem with it, but Allie
was a little bit nervous about how to answer her inevitably probing
"He's completely adorable! But you didn't tell me that he was fat,"
Maia grinned and winked at her over the shopping racks at
Anthropologie. They had just walked Sean back to the hospital
after their lunch meeting and decided to spend the afternoon shopping
at Rittenhouse Row.
"Does it matter?" Allie shot back, picking out a small, form fitting
plaid t-shirt that she'd feel comfortable wearing after a couple of
more weeks of long morning runs.
"Not to me, does it matter to you?" Maia had a way of handling Allie's
"No," she started, and lost further words.
"That's cool," Maia smiled. "I'd like for a guy to not care about my
“What about Julien?” Allie reminded Maia of her romance with a cute boy
from Belgium who had been studying nearby at Sapienza when they met at
a cafe near Villa Borghese a few weeks into their studies.
“Oh, Cherie, I miss Julien,” Maia smiled dreamily. Allie suspected he
had a strong admiration for Maia’s curves, often bringing her pastries
and taking her out for gelato, encouraging her to enjoy Italy’s best
delicacies. Allie never said anything, but she couldn’t help but notice
how the good looking, blond, fair Belgian would brush his hand along
her belly, squeeze her plump waist and caress her soft, latte-colored
“He pretty much worshipped you, Maia,” Allie giggled.
“He emailed me this morning, and told me he dreamed we opened up a
gelateria right in the middle of Villa Borghese,” she laughed and shook
her head, “He’s crazy.” Maia glowed when she talked about him.
“He’s still in love with you, Maia,” Allie smiled.
“He’s over there, and I’m over here,” Maia lamented, with a hint of
tear welling up in her eyes. She sighed deeply and changed the subject,
“I’m just glad you’re happy... with a guy. And I love that he’s fat and
you don’t care,” she laughed, rubbing Allie’s back in a way that let
her know it was all okay.
At that moment, Allie decided she wasn't going to try to avoid it
anymore. Maia was her best friend. She needed to be able to tell her
that the guys Maia got excited for did not turn her on. She hated
pretending to agree with Maia about six pack abs and tight butts. She
wanted to be able to gawk at big cute guys and not be ashamed of it.
"No Maia, I actually do care that he’s fat... I mean, I do, in a good
"Hmm?" Maia looked totally confused.
"I love his size," she looked her in the eyes. "I like that he's big.
It's... it makes things... sexier," she fell to a whisper.
"Good for you," Maia stunned her with a huge smile of acceptance,
"C'est magnifique!" Allie had expected her to be cool with her love for
Sean, but she wasn't sure how she would react to her preferring Sean
fat. "I hope that rubs off on you and you stop worrying about your
weight so much."
"His size has nothing to do with mine," Allie reasoned. She was happy
that Maia didn't get too freaked out over her fat loving revelation,
but she didn't like the way she made it about Allie's own body battle.
"Is that why you're obsessing about exercise again?" Maia was always so
direct about what made Allie squeamish to discuss.
"There's nothing wrong with distance running, Maia. I really like it in
the city," Allie immediately fell back to her defense lines when
accused of overdoing diet and exercise.
"Just don't get shin splints again," Maia warned her. Changing the
subject, she picked a pair of madras wedges off the shelf, "Do you
"Love," Allie smiled back at her, relieved that her “coming out” to
Maia was over. From now on she could stare longingly at whom she wanted
to. Well, she'd still probably hold back on sharing her weird feelings
about much fatter boys, and those gluttonous gaining fantasies. That
was a secret had buried much deeper inside.
"How could you?" Sean demanded so angrily at her that it pained her to
"I wanted to help," Allie started.
Sean cut her off. "Do you have so little confidence in me that you
think I can't do anything without your connections?"
"No, I just wanted you to get it, I know how much it means to you," she
"I don't know why I thought this could work," he shot back. "You think
you can go around like a Princess, granting wishes, or something? Who
do you think you are?"
"Sean, stop," tears ran down her cheeks as she pleaded with him. "I
just knew those kids need someone like you to help them."
"No, you stop, Allie," Sean shouted over her, "Save the spin. You stuck
your nose into something that was so not your business, and now it's
embarrassed me. Do you know that it's all over school that I only got
it because my rich girlfriend's mother is on the board at Children's?"
Allie closed her eyes, wishing she could disappear, go back in time and
erase the conversation she had with her mother about helping Sean get
rotations in the cardiac care unit of the hospital.
"I'm a joke, Allie, now I can't take the offer," he yelled louder.
"You've destroyed that for me. Now I’ll never know if I could have
gotten it on my own merits.”
“You know you would have, Sean. It's not that big of a deal, really,"
she pleaded with him to calm his reaction.
"Oh," he rolled his eyes, "Of course it isn’t; not to someone like you
who's been given everything. Doesn’t it bother you that you’ve never
been tested? That you don’t know what you are capable of without Daddy
and Mommy paving your path?"
Allie turned pale. She could feel her chest aching. "You've never loved
me for me, Sean, if you think that little of me."
"I don’t know anymore, Allie. I thought you were different, but this is
"Don't do this Sean, please," she sobbed.
She sensed that his issues with her affluence had been becoming more of
an issue, especially the second half of the last semester. Throughout
the school year, things seemed mostly fine; Allie traveling down to the
city, or Sean taking long bus rides up to Ithaca some weekends. After
winter break though, his program seemed to become more demanding and he
couldn’t get away as much, and they drifted a little bit.
The cost of travel back and forth became an issue for Sean as well. He
was living pretty sparsely to get by. He would always bristle at her
offers to buy his bus ticket. Then, there was the awful fight they’d
had in the spring where she offered to pay for them both to go
somewhere for spring break, so they could be together for more than a
day or two at a time. Allie just wanted to be with him as much as she
could, but he didn’t react well. He hung up on her and didn’t return
her calls for a week. She was devastated and apologized many times over
to get things back to where they had once been.
The tension ripped open again on her graduation day. Allie had always
avoided talking about her trust so it wouldn’t accentuate the
awkwardness between them over her money. Her trust had stipulations:
one was that she would come into a small portion of her inheritance
when she graduated from college; “small portion” being a relative term.
She would have access to $300,000, which her father had directed her to
use toward her graduate program, tuition, travel and living expenses.
She wasn’t going to buy a private island or do anything extravagant
with it. It wasn’t millions of dollars, at least at the moment; and
wouldn’t be for years, so why make it another issue in their
But not talking about it came back to haunt her. After her graduation
ceremony, Sean joined Allie and her parents for a celebratory brunch.
During a toast, her Dad made a joke alluding to the trust money she had
now earned. Sean later asked her about it, and when she explained the
situation to him, he ripped into her for keeping it a secret. She tried
to explain that it wasn’t a big deal, and that it was all earmarked so
that she could further her education, but he felt it was deceitful not
to share something that significant.
She was kicking herself for not thinking about all of these troubles
piling up between them when she mentioned to her mother that Sean was
trying to get an internship. Why did she let her mother intervene to
help him? But how clear it was to her now that it was too late to take
"I'm taking Dr. Rawson up on the Haiti offer," he stated coldly,
snapping her back into this latest battle. And it was a battle she was
Allie's throat was clenched so tightly that she couldn't protest, shout
or even speak. Sean grabbed his backpack, turned around and walked out
of her apartment. She had been in such denial during those months of
tension that built up around them, that it felt very sudden and totally
shocking. It had taken so long for them to get together, how
could it now be over? Just like that?
In the following days, her best efforts at reaching him to talk were in
vain. After a week, she broke down, called his parents’ house and
talked to his mother.
"He's gone, Allie, he left yesterday," Pam Casey sounded resigned.
"Mrs. Casey, why did he do this? Was I so wrong to try to help him? I
mean I know I was wrong, but I just love him so much," Allie didn’t
care anymore how much she was revealing to his mother about her
feelings for Sean, she could only be honest in her desperation.
"Allie, you know we love you," she slowly started, "But Sean is very
proud... probably too proud for his own good. I'm not happy he's
leaving us either, but its good experience for him. He'll be a better
man for having done it."
"I don't know Mrs. Casey," she choked up. She couldn’t believe this was
how it was going to end.
"Allie, people like us learn to look at the bright side of things,” Pam
seemed to twist the knife of socio-economic difference between them,
reminding Allie of what helped to destroy her relationship with Sean.
“I suggest you do the same. If it's meant to be, it will be, dear, but
you need to live your life without him right now," Pam was blunt. She
never minced words and Allie knew in the face of her brutal honesty,
she had to stop trying.
Allie sunk into despondency and couldn't bear the thought of the
looming heat of a lonely Philadelphia summer; a summer that would
remind her every day of the blissful time she had spent with Sean the
previous year. Despondency quickly became depression, unsure what to do
with her days without Sean.
She should have been thrilled with what lay ahead for her. She had
earned top grades, glowing recommendations from Professor Porter and
had been admitted for the fall term to Columbia's masters program in
urban architecture. It had always been her dream to enjoy transatlantic
studies among the architecture of New York, London and Paris. The dream
seemed tarnished now, but it was all she had left.
Adding insult to injury, she had been waiting for those three months of
bliss with Sean before they would once again manage the distance
between their studies, and now that was gone. Desperate to get through
the miserable summer, she sublet her apartment and fled to her
brother's place on the west coast to find refuge, helping his wife care
for their 18 month old daughter, Ella. At least she wouldn’t be alone,
reminded every day of what she lost when Sean left her.
"It was time we met," Allie kissed Ella's cheek and Ella nuzzled her
"She likes you," smiled Monica, Holden's wife of three years. Allie's
brother had met Monica at a Bay Area Skeptics meetup while he was a
chemistry undergrad at UC-Berkeley. Monica had been pursuing her degree
in nursing at San Jose State at the same time. His girlfriends had
always been the preppy and pretentious Main Line girls they grew up
with, so Allie was a bit surprised when she met Monica and found a
mildly plump Latina beauty who was direct, down-to-earth and
"You think?" Allie beamed as Ella played with the Roman glass pendant
necklace around Allie's neck. Her father had given it to her during the
Christmas break she spent with them up in Zurich, during the year she
had studied in Rome.
"You're a natural," Monica assured her. "And she's such a Daddy's girl.
You look so much like Holden, she just knows you are family."
Allie kissed little Ella on top of her head, feeling reassured by her
sweet smile and the gentle, faint smell of baby shampoo.
"What do you think, Allie?" Holden entered the room, looking like the
same scruffy college kid she last saw at his wedding. He was
still handsome too; tall, athletic and confident. He always
had a ton of girls after him, all the way back to grade school. Life
came easy for Holden, Allie thought; he was comfortable in his own
skin. Allie had always felt like she had drawn the short straw,
yearning to know what that kind of comfort must feel like. But he was
so damn likable, she couldn’t be resentful toward him about it.
"Do you want to quit school all together and be our full-time Nanny for
free?" He laughed. Holden was a professional student now, earning
enough to get by as a teaching assistant while he pursued his doctorate
in polymer electronics at Cal Poly. His post-college trust fund payout
had been chewed up quickly by his lengthy graduate studies and the high
cost of living near Morro Bay. Monica’s work as an RN was probably
keeping them afloat at this point. He had always gladly accepted his
parents' financial support, but when Jane became vocal in her
opposition to his marriage to Monica, he cut off most communications
with the family and stayed in touch only with Allie. The time after
9/11 was the only tepid contact he’d had with her mother. He
spoke with his father slightly more frequently, but the warmth expected
between a son and his parents was rarely seen these days.
Allie tended to side with Holden on the whole. She had her own issues
with Jane's controlling behavior and naturally gravitated to defending
her brother in that regard. She also had the chance to get to know
Monica during the week she was there prior to the wedding and
immediately loved her fun personality and bold fashion. In some ways,
his wife reminded her of Maia, perpetuating her affinity for women who
were rather opposite of her own reserved, introverted personality.
But Allie still understood why Jane had been so against a wedding. His
announcement that he was marrying a girl he had known only for a few
months was a bit shocking. It was Jane's expressed concern that, "We
don't even know her family, her background," when Holden went
ballistic, calling Jane an elitist and a hypocrite. Nonetheless, Jane
attended the wedding, barely able to stifle her dismay over the secular
ceremony, barefoot wedding party, hay bale seating and vegan buffet
"How's Jane these days," Holden leaned back, taking a sip from a dark
beer. Holden brewed his own beer with organic, locally grown barley and
hops. For an east coast trust fund kid, he was totally blending in with
his west coast home.
"The usual," Allie instinctively wanted to revert to criticizing her
mother whenever she was around her brother; it was a natural place for
them to go, they had been doing that since childhood. But she knew that
wouldn't help mend things for Ella's future, and she was tired of being
the go between.
"I see she's making sure you stay skinny," Holden chided her, gulping
more from his beer.
Allie's body froze. Holden knew that Allie wrestled emotionally with
her mother's weight related commentary. And she knew she was probably
too thin now, having eaten horribly little since Sean left her. She was
reminded of the emptiness she had been living with for the past month,
with no end in sight. She couldn't stop the sadness coming up through
her throat, while she felt the heat of a large tear trickle down her
cheek, promptly wiping it away, trying to hide her pain from her
"I'm an asshole, Al, I'm sorry," Holden set down his glass and took
Ella from her arms so she could wipe her tears. "She's a shit for what
she does to you. You're perfect, no matter what, you have to know that.
Don't let her screw you up like this."
"It's not the weight thing I'm upset about," she burst out. Her
emotions wouldn't let her control her volume.
"What's going on with you, Allie," he prodded her.
The tears began to cascade as she tried to find words that didn't make
her sound like a dumb girl, jilted by puppy love. "Sean broke up with
me," she whispered.
"Oh, Al, that sucks. What kind of idiot is this guy? His loss," Holden
tried to make her feel better.
"I'm in love with him and I can't get over it," she cried more. "It
"Like Heidi Metcalf," he sighed. "She destroyed me, remember?" Holden
"Ugh, she was so mean to me too. I hated her," Allie wiped tears away,
trying to smile and pull back from her pain a little.
"I was so blindly in love with her, I had no idea what a bitch she
was," He shook his head. "You see, sometimes it's good that people dump
us, we eventually end up the better for it."
"Easy for you to say," Allie muttered.
"It will get better, Al, I promise," he rubbed her shoulder. "Just hang
out with Ella, she has natural toddler healing powers."
Allie brightened up, reminded of what a cuddly sweetheart Ella was,
"You are really blessed. She's an awesome little girl."
"She makes me feel better about everything," he confirmed.
"Maybe Ella will help you mend things with Jane," Allie suggested, "I
think it would be nice for her to know her grandmother."
"It's up to Jane," Holden shrugged.
"No, it's up to you. She can't very well invite herself," Allie
reminded Holden of her mother's strict socially correct manners.
"I'll talk to Monica," he sighed. "If she comes, she should do it while
you're here; so you can be the referee."
"Thanks a lot," Allie laughed, knowing it was true. She had always
played the mediator role... somebody had to.
Through Allie's gentle encouragement, working both sides of the
conflict, within a few days, Jane freed her schedule and came to visit
for a weekend; with the benefit of her daughter’s presence, of course.
Allie was relieved to feel useful to her family. In the weeks following
Sean's harsh rejection, she had felt an utter lack of self-worth and
direction. Spending time with Ella and mending a family rift gave her
back at least some sense of purpose.
One evening during her visit, Jane, Allie and Holden shared a bottle of
wine out on the deck when the subject of Sean came up.
"He seemed like a nice boy," Jane gave Allie a sympathetic shrug.
"He was... he is," Allie grew pained in the way Jane sounded like she
was giving up on him as a good person.
"Allie, you don't want to hear this from me, I know, but I can tell you
with experience that some people just can't handle our...
standing," she tried to be diplomatic.
"What are you trying to say about Sean?" Allie raised her voice.
"I'm not saying anything specifically about Sean, I'm just saying that
people become unpredictable when faced with the kind of opportunity we
enjoy. It's not always a comfortable place to have so much more than
others. I would sometimes get the sense that Sean didn't like it."
Deep down, Allie knew Jane was right, but she couldn't bear to admit
it, "Mom, not everyone cares about our money."
"Jane’s right, Al," Holden entered the conversation in Jane's defense,
much to the surprise of both women. "Girls were always weird about our
money. Monica was the first girl I dated who didn't care. Probably
because she didn't see any evidence of it," he glanced at Jane in
expectation that she would be provoked.
"Monica is a lovely woman," Jane submitted, "and a wonderful mother. It
was just that you had only known her for a short time," Jane started.
“You could have been less condescending about the whole thing...” He
shot back, re-escalating the deep freeze that had been thawing during
"Hey, this is about my problems," Allie inserted to lighten the
conversation, still amazed by the somewhat adult conversation they were
"What's so great about this Sean guy anyway?" Holden questioned Allie.
"I mean he must not be that smart, really, to dump an heiress," he
winked at Allie. "Is he like, a dumb Superman or something?"
Allie glanced at Jane to see what her reaction would be. Sean was not a
man of steel in the strictest definition.
"I can see what she saw in him," Jane's complimentary words shocked
Allie. "He's bright, has a great future, and very nice looking," she
shared with Holden and turned to Allie, "And he looked at you with love
in his eyes, Allie, I can say that."
It was bittersweet to hear those words from Jane, but her curiosity
over Jane's "very nice looking" description got the best of her. "It’s
weird that you never said a word about his weight," she challenged her
"Why would I?" Jane answered dubiously.
"How many comments have you made to me about mine?" Allie felt her
blood pressure rising.
"Allie, give it a rest," Jane sighed and pursed her lips, "I only said
anything when you seemed unhappy about it. I was just trying to help
"A lot of help it did," Holden jumped in, "She's borderline anorexic
Allie shot Holden a nasty look, "My body is none of your businesses,"
her skin was crawling now. "And yours either," she glared at Jane.
"I didn't even bring It up," Jane shrugged her shoulders as she often
did when confronted about her passively judgmental style.
An angry silence hung in the air for a few moments until Holden broke
it, "So just how fat is this guy?"
Allie smiled and then laughed, finding an odd humor in his question.
"He wasn’t that big," Jane cocked her head.
"He was pushing 300, Mom," Allie responded, surprising herself that she
would say something so privately arousing out loud. She just couldn't
believe her ears that Jane felt he was not that big. He had gotten
quite fat while they were together, after all. There was no doubt that
his gain made Allie very satisfied, but she also knew that her
standards were different than others. That's what made Jane's words so
"No he wasn’t," Jane shook her head.
Allie nodded, "I guess he carried it well," feeling embarrassed as the
words came out.
"Men do," Jane nodded. "They’re lucky that way." While hating the
double standard, Allie recognized she shared a common frustration with
"Dad used to be fat, didn't he?" Holden jumped back in.
"Dad's a triathlete, Holden," Allie rolled her eyes.
"Dad was actually rather plump when we met," Jane smiled, with almost a
reminiscing gleam in her eye.
"He told me he got pretty fat in college," Holden reinforced the
"Really?" Allie didn't know this. She only saw their wedding pictures
with fit, trim and perfect looking 1970s preppies in love.
"He slimmed down for the wedding and stuck with it," Jane explained.
"He felt like it was helping his career, I suppose."
Allie sensed a wistfulness in Jane’s words, as if she almost wished
Kenneth were chubbier again. It was disconcerting and bizarre to share
this moment of almost an affinity with her mother over such a deeply
buried piece of her identity. So much so that Allie got up, grabbed the
empty bottle of wine they had shared and announced, "I'm calling it a
Jane’s visit to California was healing for her family, but Allie wasn’t
even close to healed when she returned back to the east coast after
spending the summer in the mist of beautiful ocean views and
mountainous landscapes. She got a place in New York, commenced her
graduate program, trying to get through each day, as they all blended
together in a haze into the cold months of winter. She had reverted
inside herself, uninterested in meeting or knowing anyone. It wasn’t
that she couldn’t be social on the surface, she did attend a few
parties, spent time with other students on projects; but her
connections stayed on the surface, mostly keeping to herself.
Her spring semester in London was cheered by Maia’s company. The summer
before, while Allie had been convalescing in California, Maia had begun
to take extended stays with Julien in Brussels that were becoming
rather permanent. She had missed her friend so much, but she
was now just a train ride away. Allie relied on seeing Maia regularly
throughout those months to keep sane. She had missed the regular
intimacies of friendship with her best friend being overseas; and her
lover long gone. Allie had never been one to manage a large circle of
friends; being able to confide in Maia gave her a chance to do more
“It’s been nearly a year, Allie,” Maia tilted her head with empathy and
yet a tinge of reproach in her tone. The two girls sat on a comfortable
white plush sectional sofa in Julien’s living room.
Allie sensed Maia’s disapproval with her continued melancholy and
understood in her head it was pointless, but her heart wouldn’t budge.
“I know Maia. My misery is only partly because I miss Sean. But it’s
that I can’t seem to move on that makes it hurt even more. Sometimes I
feel worse about the fact that I’m stuck in neutral, than I feel about
not being with him.”
“Oh honey,” Maia rubbed Allie’s arm with empathy. “You are moving on,
even if you don’t realize it. You’re still making your future, working
on your career. Love will come again when you’re ready,” she reassured
her depressed friend. “Stop feeling like you have to be completely
happy, and just focus on learning, growing, you know? Just work on
being fine in your own skin.”
Allie drew her eyes up to Maia’s with a knowing smile, “How many times
did I say something like that to you?”
“Yeah, well, it paid off, you were right,” her friend smiled at her,
and then pointed to Julien, who was sitting alone on the little terrace
balcony of their apartment, reading a newspaper and drinking a glass of
“He’s a great guy, Maia,” Allie smiled, “He’s so into you.” Allie had
noticed Julien’s hands were always all over Maia’s body. His
nonchalant brushes and caresses back when they were dating in Rome had
become overt; it was more obvious to her than ever that he was an
all-out fat admirer. His hands regularly roamed her softest features;
upper arms, hips and rear end. When cooking in the kitchen, he would
come up behind her and blatantly caress her belly, and grab her side
rolls. Maia would sometimes swat him away, but she didn’t seem upset or
offended by his touch.
“He’s definitely into my body,” she giggled. “It was weird at first, I
felt kind of self-conscious… and even more when I kept gaining weight.
But he likes the curves, I guess,” she showed tones of red coming
through her beautiful, olive skin.
“He’s got great taste,” Allie laughed. “Julien and I have a lot in
common, I think,” Allie’s heart picked up speed as she felt herself
losing more of her secret to the reality of their friendship.
“He said the same thing,” Maia’s eyes grew bigger than her smile.
“What?” Allie didn’t know Julien that well.
“I told him all about your relationship with Sean,” she admitted.
Allie frowned, “That’s a sad story to tell.”
“I know, it’s a little personal, but when he was talking about how
turned on he is by my body, I remembered how you told me you liked that
Sean was fat. Julien’s preference seemed more believable and normal
because you had the same feelings for your man,” Maia tried to explain.
“So Julien knows about me then,” Allie said softly, feeling a little
embarrassed. Julien’s extra kindness to Allie and his overt handling of
Maia’s body in front of her made more sense now. He was probably
feeling free in the company of a fellow FA.
“It’s great Allie, really,” Maia smiled and rubbed Allie’s shoulder.
“Don’t feel weird about it, we love who you are,” Maia spoke for both
her and Julien. “When I first came here, I felt like I was
this big, fat, dark girl that stuck out like a sore thumb among all of
these tall, thin, blonde European women. But knowing that there are
actually people who find chubbiness attractive made it so much easier
“But I don’t want you to adjust, I want you to come back and be with me
to New York,” Allie teased her with a dramatic sigh.
“I will visit you there soon, I promise, Cheri.”
It was surreal to be looking into his eyes from across the table at a
restaurant they used to visit as a happy couple, already two summers
ago. She had to remind herself that she was actually looking at Sean
and not some stranger. She knew he had been sick, but never expected to
see him looking so thin.
The waitress came over to them, "Can I take your order?"
"Chicken soup," he handed the waitress back his menu.
Allie was shocked. A Reuben with extra dressing and thick-cut fries was
all she had ever heard him order at the South Street Diner. "Caesar
salad, dressing on the side," she self-consciously ordered. Spending
another summer with her brother and his family in San Luis Obispo had
been healing, but she was feeling every bit of the ten pounds she
gained while there.
"You look happy," he offered an olive branch, "and healthy."
He meant that as a compliment, but it stung. She knew that “healthy”
was code for ‘you’re not as skinny these days.’ And she knew
she couldn’t possibly look happy; she hadn’t been that for more than a
"It was nice to be with my brother and his family for a while," she
offered in defense, trying hard not to be rattled by her diminishing
confidence in his presence. Allie tried to focus her thoughts on her
time bonding with Ella all summer long and how much that made her feel
useful and needed, because being back in front of Sean only reminded
her of how useless and unneeded he made her feel when they broke up.
“I never met them,” Sean noted.
“You didn’t stick around long enough,” Allie shot back, still bitter
about his abrupt departure from their relationship.
"You're not going to say anything about the way I look?" He ignored her
dig, obviously impatient for her to make a comment about his drastic
"I don't know what to say, Sean. I mean, what am I supposed to say?" Of
course she hated that he was thin. He was amazingly handsome, more
grown up, and almost, kind of distinguished, she thought. But his
drastic physical changes made him look a lot less like the boy she fell
in love with.
"Everyone freaks out, and you act like nothing is different?" He seemed
"Everything is different, obviously" she flatly acknowledged, finally
glaring back at Sean. "I heard you were pretty sick," she admitted.
"How did you know?" He cocked his head.
"Your mom called my mom while I was in London… so I guess it had to
have been pretty bad,” Allie looked down, remembering how the news made
her crazy with worry. And angry that she still cared so deeply for him,
and then massive relief in the news that he was already on the mend.
"It was pretty bad,” he acknowledged how ill he had been, “they had a
Priest visit when I was at my worst. I mean, I'm still recovering. My
whole system is not the same," he shook his head and patted his nearly
“Jane told me when I got back from London, when you were getting
better,” she continued to explain, as if she had to justify why she
hadn’t gotten on a plane down to Haiti to personally nurse him back to
health. “I guess Pam and Jane kept in touch a little,” Allie reminded
"My mom misses you," he acknowledged, admitting out loud how much his
mother had liked Allie in Sean’s life.
"Glad someone does," she uttered bitterly.
"Allie, time has passed," he started.
"Water under the bridge?" Her bitter tone strengthened.
"It's been over a year," he reasoned.
"So I should get over it," she wanted so badly to make him squirm. It
was the only reason she agreed to meet with him; to get closure. And
that meant getting as many digs in as she could. Closure, yes,
definitely. She didn’t want to entertain the possibility that she
harbored some deep seated wish that he still loved her. She couldn’t
let that creep into her thoughts and lose the anger that kept her
protected from more heartache.
"I just want to let you know I'm sorry I was so hard on you," he tried
to smooth things over.
"Sean, save me the apologies, I know what you think of me."
The many months of depression had cemented into an unrequited
bitterness. She had found happiness with him; true happiness. And then
one mistake and he quit. It was a feeling of defeat that she hadn’t
been able to shake.
"No, you don't, Allie, I still love you, you’re an amazing person, I
always thought so," he began. Her heart jumped in her throat. Was he
trying to work it out? The possibility was creeping into her conscious
thoughts now. When he contacted her the week before to meet, she knew
she felt all the old hopes come welling back up inside of her, filling
the void of nothingness that had been in charge of her heart ever since
he left her.
"I just need to tell you something," he continued, "And I
want you to hear it from me."
"What?" Her heart was back on the floor, hopeful feelings emptying her
body in a gush.
"I'm engaged..." the words came out in slow motion, like she didn’t
hear them right away.
After that, she couldn't focus on another word that came out of his
mouth. She could only feel the cracks in her heart that had been trying
so hard to mend, break back open into even more pieces.
And then she heard him say a name she hadn’t thought about in a long
time: Janeane. Then some words about the weight he lost while he was
seriously ill in Haiti... Coming home, running into an old friend...
one thing leading to another…
What she could bear to absorb sounded like some lame soap opera where
high school sweethearts reunite and get married; but Janeane? The girl
that Mike and Charlie made sound like the town tramp? How did she
deserve to win? Allie was a good person, wasn’t she? She loved Sean,
and was faithful and committed to him. She would have done anything for
him and now this awful Janeane girl was back. And that was that, game
Allie couldn't take it anymore. Her brain involuntarily stopped
working. Feeling like walls were closing in, she stood up as her salad
was being delivered to the table and walked out of the restaurant on
autopilot, certain that she would never set eyes on Sean again.
It was only a couple of days after her ill-fated lunch with Sean that
she took the train back to New York to meet with Professor Porter, or
David, as she called him now. They shared lattes and biscotti al fresco
with an excellent view of the Flatiron Building. She felt a hint of
unusually crisp air in the late August breeze, reminding her of the
imminent frosty weather she would once again face alone. Alone in
Paris, no less, it seemed like such a cruel joke to be living in the
City of Love for the next four months.
He must have sensed something in Allie that was distracting their
conversation, when he changed the conversation, “Allie, you seem…
distressed, about something, what’s going on with you?”
“I saw Sean on Friday,” she whispered without hesitation. She wanted so
much to be strong and confident around David, but at this point she was
also desperate to share her misery with someone, anyone. She hadn’t
been able to get a hold of Maia for days. Now that she was in Europe
living with Julien, she seemed harder to track down than ever.
“The ex?” David sighed.
Allie nodded, “He’s engaged to his high school girlfriend now,” Allie
said it out loud. As much as she tried to tune it out, she had heard
his words and knew it was real.
“Aw, Al,” he sighed deeper, “that sucks.”
“He was skinny too, he got deathly ill while he was in Haiti and lost a
ton of weight,” she looked up at David to measure his reaction, having
suspected him to be a fat admirer.
“He had been pretty heavy, hadn’t he?” Her former professor admitted
that he noticed. She had introduced Sean to David when he visited
Cornell during her senior year, and they had met again at her
graduation. She always wondered if David had noticed that her boyfriend
was overweight and growing.
“Yeah, he apparently got a really horrible bug, some kind of parasitic
infection,” she explained. “He came back about 100 pounds lighter.”
“So, what bothers you more? That he’s engaged or that he’s thin?” David
asked the question very bluntly.
Allie’s eyes opened wide. It was a big question. “I’m more bothered
that he’s engaged, obviously,” she knew that was the truth. She could
have loved him at any size. Still, his change was symbolic; she had
literally lost the man she once had loved more than anything.
“But you seem very disappointed he’s no longer fat,” he pressed her.
“I am,” she half smiled, feeling her cheeks flush. “I
preferred his bigger size.”
“Yep,” David grinned and nodded knowingly. “I always thought you might
have a thing for that.”
“I always thought you might too,” Allie grinned back.
“I do,” he acknowledged without hesitation.
“I’ve never really talked to anyone I know, like in person, about
this,” she admitted to him. “Maia kind of knows, but doesn’t quite get
it, you know?”
“It’s okay Allie,” he looked at her warmly, “but are you fine with it?
I mean, you dated a big guy, out in the open, introduced him to your
family, friends... you don’t seem ashamed of your preference.”
“I’m not ashamed to date fat guys,” she said, out loud, surprising
herself and looking away. Saying the word fat was odd to her, she
always avoided it. “It’s just weird to talk about what’s...
well... beneath it.”
“What’s beneath it?” he asked.
“Like more than the preference; you know, the fetish part of it,” she
David nodded, “Allie, you’re totally normal. Everyone has preferences,
and if we’re lucky, those preferences will manifest themselves in who
we choose to be with. But people don’t usually go around talking about
their sexuality and what turns them on in bed, so it’s okay if that
part is not out there in the open too, right?”
“Sure,” she shrugged her shoulders, never having really thought about
it that way. The fetish side of her preference felt like such a
horrible secret, but most people kept their private sexual thoughts to
themselves, whatever they were. This realization made her feel at least
a little more normal.
“So you can be okay with it if you’re into weight gain, or encouraging
a partner to get fatter,” he stated matter-of-factly, causing Allie’s
cheeks to flare up red again. “It’s just thoughts and ideas, and
everyone gets to have those. As long as you’re not holding someone
captive and force-feeding them against their will, you’re not wrong to
have your own feelings,” he shared.
Allie was surprised he just started talking out loud about it like
that, but she was relieved too. “What about you? Are you into those
things?” She felt flutters in her stomach asking such a personal
question of her former professor.
“To some extent,” he shared openly. “My wife has gained a fair amount
of weight during our marriage and it’s kept me a happy man,” he winked.
Allie was elated to hear another human being say something like that
out loud. “She’s more content in her skin than she was when I first met
her, but she still feels pressure to lose weight too, which isn’t easy
for me to deal with when I just want her happy.”
“And fat,” Allie laughed.
“And fat,” he admitted with a big smile.
“I can relate to the pressure she feels though,” Allie admitted. “It’s
weird, how much I’m open to fat acceptance for others, and how much I
enjoy fat on other bodies, but cannot keep myself from falling into the
‘must be skinny’ mentality.”
“I’ve been concerned about you... you get... so thin, sometimes,” he
admitted. “You look healthy now, but I’ve been worried before. I know I
shouldn’t say anything, it’s your body, but I just care about you...”
he trailed off uncomfortably.
Allie smiled and nodded. It was nice to have him care about her as a
fellow human and not have it be about judgment or looks.
“Sean told me I looked healthy too but it just made me feel fat. I have
issues... I know that. But it’s hard to know what’s normal, anymore, or
what’s healthy, and what’s too thin. It’s like I’m skewed to always
think I need to be thinner, and all the while I don’t think a 300 pound
man is really all that fat.”
“They’re calling that body image dysmorphia these days,” David chuckled.
“Maia has always been on my case about it,” Allie was reminded by the
admonishing from her best friend while Maia herself was always dieting.
“How is Maia, anyway?” David’s face brightened.
“Oh, she’s fabulous,” Allie grinned, glad for the topic change. “I saw
her a lot while I was in London. She’s living in Belgium now with her
very own FA,” Allie laughed anxiously.
“I’m happy for both of them then,” he winked.
“Is it hard, as a professor, to see all of those big beautiful girls in
class? Girls like Maia? And not be distracted?” Allie blurted,
realizing it was a little inappropriate to ask.
“Maia is very beautiful,” he smiled, “having her in class made me wish
for my undergrad life back,” he admitted.
“How do you mean?” Allie probed further, now that he had opened up.
“Oh, not that I would ever cross that line,” he was quick to clarify
his ethics, “I just didn’t make the most of it when I was younger. I
was closeted...” he shared with a frown. “I dated the cute little
sorority girls like I was supposed to. I would worry that I was gay
because I didn’t really want to get them all in bed, like my friends
all did. But then I’d see a gorgeous big girl and I’d realize, more and
more over time, that I wasn’t gay, it was just another kind of girl
that I wanted.”
He continued, “So one time, after a party, I ended up sleeping with a
girl that I had a crush on for months. She was so pretty, and very
heavy. Neither one of us were drunk, or anything like that. It was so
intimate and comfortable, it finally felt right.”
Allie knew exactly what he was talking about, just like her first time
with Sean, in the pool house. “So what happened with her?”
“One of my buddies was dating her roommate and found out. He told all
the guys I had gone whale riding and they teased me for weeks about it,
constantly making fat jokes. It was painful. I didn’t have the
confidence to deal with it, and stand up to them. I was so ashamed, and
I couldn’t get past it. I had always thought of myself as a leader, but
in this case I was a coward. I still hate myself for what I did to her.”
“What did you do?” Allie was riveted.
“I pretended I didn’t know her; just flat out ignored her,” he said
Allie nodded, feeling badly for him as well as the girl. He was still
paying penance, all these years later.
“So even though you were hurt by Sean,” he looked into her eyes, “you
have nothing to be ashamed of, and that’s a gift, Allie, it really is.
I’m just glad I met my wife after that part of my life was over. I
learned my lesson and was grown up enough to not care what anyone
thought about dating a girl her size. Of course, we met in grad school,
so it was easier. Fat jokes are less acceptable in among academics;
everyone is so damn politically correct,” he laughed.
Allie did take some comfort in those wise words. It didn’t make her any
happier, but at least she was true to her heart.
The weeks and months in her graduate semester Paris had passed in a
blur, as Allie went through the motions of life, studying and writing
her dissertation. She was not eating enough, as she seemed accustomed
to during times of stress and sadness. The coldest month of winter
brought her back to New York to start the Spring semester at Columbia.
Encouraged by her mentor-friendship with David, she continued to
develop intellectual and professional contacts, but her social and
personal life was shut off like a dry faucet. She refused to let anyone
into her life, learning to turn down dates with optimal skill and
grace. She didn’t talk nearly enough with Maia anymore either, as Maia
was making her life in Belgium with Julien.
During a very frozen mid-January weekend, she took the train to Philly
to have lunch with Jane. Allie was getting very slight again.
Being in France among the effortlessly thin and beautiful Parisian
women was pressure enough, but her sadness in knowing Sean was planning
his North Philly wedding with his trampy bride-to-be made her feel a
nagging nausea that further removed the desire to eat.
"Allie, I'm worried about you," Jane took her hand as they walked into
the tea shop where Jane always took Allie after they hadn’t seen each
other in a while.
"Mom, I'm fine," Allie stopped her.
"Okay... maybe you just need to take a vacation, go somewhere warm,"
Jane smiled. “You seem so... pallid.”
"Mom, I have school starting, and ongoing projects. I can't just go off
to Grand Cayman on a whim."
"I didn't go on a whim," Jane frowned.
"What are you talking about?" Allie was a little annoyed her mother had
suddenly taken off by herself to the Caribbean for a couple of weeks
"Allie, I need to tell you something," she started.
"What?" Allie demanded. The last time she heard those words, Sean had
stomped on her heart with news of his pending marriage to Janeane.
"I've been diagnosed with ovarian cancer," she spoke calmly. "So, since
I was going to be forced on a sabbatical for surgery and chemo
anyway, I decided to spend a little time somewhere nice...
and Grand Cayman is really beautiful this time of year," Jane smiled
confidently with a wink. “Daddy flew down for a few days too. We hadn’t
done that in years,” she was really glowing in spite of her diagnosis.
Allie was startled, feeling horrible for begrudging her mother some
time in the sun. But she remained composed, taking her cues from her
mother’s unruffled demeanor, "You have a surgery planned? You'll be
"I'm going to be fine dear," her mother reassured her. Allie knew her
mother was made of steel. She was a fighter, it was nothing to worry
about. Jane would tell her if it couldn’t be treated, she was sure of
it. Her mother was always brutally honest, if nothing else.
"I'll take you to all the treatments, or whatever you need, Mom," Allie
took Jane's hand.
Her mother chuckled, "You didn’t call me Jane," she softened. "It took
cancer for you to call me Mom?" she laughed more.
"Whatever, Jane," Allie smiled, squeezing her mother's hand back.
It was strange, but the horrible news did make Allie feel more
connected to her mother. Being only a week into the spring semester, it
was an easy decision to take some time off to care for her mother.
Kenneth was constantly traveling, Holden was busy with his family and
studies in California, and they didn't have much more family than that.
Allie threw herself into the caregiver role. Jane kept Allie busy with
handling the business of the estate, running errands, and filling in at
meetings for her numerous charities and causes. The weeks of
spring passed like a blur and Allie hardly had a chance to think about
the gravity of her mother’s illness while in plain sight of it. Jane
had given her daughter the gift of purpose in the face of an
Jimmy's eyes looked helplessly into her own. They now shared something
that had absolutely nothing to do with their short string of dates four
"Allie," he hugged her tightly as tears began to fall all over again
and she collapsed into his body. He held her strongly and firmly, not
letting go until she regained her composure.
"Sorry," she croaked out.
"You can't be," he smiled, tears welling up in his own eyes as he wiped
hers off of her cheeks.
"I'm glad you're here," she smiled back at him, never thinking she’d
feel such relief to be in Jimmy Oliver’s arms.
"You need to go for a walk? Get some air?" He offered.
"Sure," she exhaled, realizing that she had been receiving guests for
almost two hours and was about to collapse.
They walked quietly along a path though the campus, when he spoke,
"That's a mob scene back there."
"My mom was pretty popular, I guess," she joked through her pain.
"It shows that she made a difference to a lot of people. That's what
matters. Not how long you live, but the people you change for the
better; the people you mean something to," he showed a side of himself
that Allie had never imagined he had back when they were dating four
years before. She had barely looked at him until that moment. She
paused and realized he wasn't Jimmy the player she had dated, but a
thicker, broader, and more grown up man. He was still
gorgeous, but now those eyes were filled with honestly too.
"That kind of makes it hurt more," Allie sighed. "All those people are
sad, but they will all go home and move on. I'll still be stuck with
this horrible, numb feeling that won't go away," she felt tears rising
up through her body again.
"I know," he hugged her again. She had become so delicately thin that
his strong embraces made her feel like she momentarily disappeared. It
was a feeling that gave her an unexpected comfort.
"I was surprised to get a card from you," he changed the subject to his
own father's death a few months before.
"My mom found out about your dad while I was with her at the hospital
during one of her chemo sessions," Allie explained. "Seeing her so
changed, so reduced by her illness, it happened so fast. It kind of
gave me get a sense of what you were going through... and I wanted to
let you know... that you weren't alone in your pain, I guess, if that
"It does," he half-smiled with understanding. "I didn’t open it for a
couple of weeks after I received it. It was getting too hard to fight
the urge to cry. My father never wanted me to cry," Jimmy
self-consciously brushed an errant tear from his face, took a deep
breath and sat down on a bench outside St. Thomas church. "When I
finally read your words, I cried... really hard, Allie. It just all
finally came out."
"I'm sorry," she started. She remembered what she wrote to him, about
remembering the best things that have happened in your life; and the
best things your parents did for you, even when sometimes they
disappointed you. And then making room for more good things to come by
letting go of the anger you had once felt, and more importantly, the
guilt you feel over that anger. She wrote to him after having tea with
her mother in the hospital, which had become a distracting ritual for
them in the midst of her excruciating treatments. She had definitely
felt her share of anger at her mother over the years, and had also felt
a lot of guilt over it in the weeks before she died.
"No, it was what I finally needed to hear, and I want to thank you for
it," he whispered. "It was just so unexpected from you. You really blew
me off when we dated, I didn’t think you even remembered who I was."
She winced, regretting how immature she was in dealing with his
interest in her. They hadn't been serious, but once she got caught up
in her romance with Sean, Jimmy just faded away. "I was young and
stupid," she tried to explain.
"I really liked you, you know," Jimmy smiled softly. "Was I too
aggressive? You really shied away when I tried to get closer."
"Maybe?" she knew that was part of her discomfort at the time. "You had
a reputation, you know, for dating a different girl each summer."
He nodded, acknowledging his past. "Yeah, I know it must have seemed
"It wasn't? I mean, I know you didn't know I existed before that
summer, but I remember you, summer after summer, always with a
different gorgeous girl."
"Is that what you thought? That I didn't know you existed? Allie, we've
known each other since we were kids."
"I was a chubby dork, Jimmy; you never gave me the time of day."
He shook his head in disbelief, "I always thought you were cute, Allie,
but you were smart, and so cerebral, even as kids, it seemed like you
didn't want anything to do with the rest of us. It wasn't until you
started hanging around with Beth and Tara that I was able to approach
"So it was just a coincidence that I got skinny and that's when you
asked me out?" She felt her lingering anger over the way he was nice to
her after she lost weight.
"I got the impression that it just made you feel more outgoing and
available," he told her frankly. "Either way you were pretty."
"Right," she rolled her eyes and shook her head. She had gotten a
little better about her self-image issues, but she still didn't believe
Jimmy Oliver, of all people, telling her that she was pretty before she
"Allie, it's like this... Marilyn Monroe was a beautiful woman, and
Audrey Hepburn was a beautiful woman too. There are all kinds of
"Jane would not have agreed with you," she laughed, recognizing the
emotional dissonance she felt in resenting her mother's slenderlust,
even on the day of her funeral.
"People like what they like, Allie," he shrugged his shoulders.
"Anyway, it wasn't that I was trying to get every girl, I just kept
finding out they were not bright, or not funny, or not interesting. I
saw that in you. It was kind of a blow when I finally dated someone of
substance, and she wasn't impressed."
"It wasn't you, Jimmy, you were a total catch, really. I was just not
ready for anything serious at the time," she fibbed. There was no way
she could even think about Sean right now, let alone talk about him
"So what about now?" He asked, "Are you in a relationship?"
"No," she admitted.
"Yeah, you've had your hands full," he put his arm around her in
"I better get back," Allie stood up, hitching up her size 4 skirt that
had become too big, along with the rest of her clothes. She knew she
had to start making time to eat again, now that she wouldn't be
spending all her time at the hospital and running errands to care for
her mother, while helping her father with the business of managing a
maintenance-intense estate. This thought of being there now, without
her mother made her break down and sob again.
Jimmy stood up and held her for a few minutes, letting her cry. She
stopped and looked up at him with her tear streaked face. "Allie, it's
okay, you need to cry," revealing some wisdom in his eyes that she
hadn’t ever seen there before.
He kissed her cheek, took her arm and silently walked her back to the
The following day, friends and family gathered at their home to be
together. Maia had flown over from Europe as quickly as should could
after Allie called her with the news.
“So that’s ‘The’ Jimmy,” Maia took her hand and walked her
out towards the gardens to get some air.
“Yep,” Allie managed a smile while Jimmy looked over at her with
concern in his eyes.
“You didn’t tell me he was that gorgeous,” she whispered with a giggle,
obviously trying to distract Allie from the horribleness of the day
with her favorite topic, men.
“I told you he was good looking,” Allie whispered. She thought back to
that summer, and the way she had harbored so much hope for a future
with Sean instead. She glanced over at the pool house, remembering that
there was a time she felt really optimistic about love. Then her eyes
scanned to the pool... her beloved Apollo, Daphne, Aphrodite and
Eros... and the fountain. Then she remembered those damn coins she
threw at the Trevi... superstitions always seemed to
backfire, didn’t they?
Sean’s mom had come to the funeral, which was comforting and
disconcerting at the same time. She told Allie that Sean wanted to give
his condolences but did not want his presence to upset her, and decided
it was best if he wasn’t there. Allie nodded in agreement; he was right
about that. In parting, Pam hugged Allie and whispered in her ear,
“I’ll always wish it had been you.” The words should have stung, but
oddly, they emboldened Allie. She was done hurting for Sean, she didn’t
have room for it anymore.
“Allie, he looks like a Calvin Klein model, seriously,” Maia’s pulled
her best friend back to the topic of Jimmy. Her eyes were wide looking
at him. “And you dumped him? He clearly still likes you,” Maia
observed. Allie looked over at him, catching his eyes on her.
“I want to hear about how things are going with you... and Julien,”
Allie changed the subject, wishing to escape into Maia’s tales of life
in Belgium. Julien was working in investor relations for a major
shipping company in Bruges. Not long after Allie’s visited from London
the spring before, Maia had gotten a position as a teaching assistant
in architectural history at the University of Ghent. Allie couldn’t
help but feel a bit jealous of Maia’s success and happiness, since
Allie had put her own life on hold over the last several months. Still,
she couldn’t be happier for her good friend; it was hard to feel
anything but joy for someone so wonderful and considerate.
“We’re just having fun, Allie,” Maia shrugged her shoulders with a
happy smile, holding back a little of her obvious bliss. Allie had
observed that Maia had put on even more weight over the year since they
had last seen each other. Normally Maia would have agonized about it
right away, mentioning it several times during their reunion
conversation, especially after spending so much time away from each
other. But she now seemed okay with it, which gave Allie some comfort
that her best friend was truly happy. She had always wanted that for
Maia, almost more than she ever wanted it for herself. Or maybe it was
that she didn’t think happiness was in the cards for her? True love was
an obvious destiny for an outgoing, bright light of a person like Maia,
but maybe it wasn’t meant for everyone.
Allie looked over by the garden, noticing her father walking with
little Ella on his feet, showing her the various types of flora that
grew on the estate. The scene momentarily made her happy, and pleased
that her mother got to know Ella before she died. But these comforting
thoughts quickly turned to a deep sadness when she realized that her
mother would never know her own children, if she had any. She turned
into Maia’s shoulder and sobbed. Maia rubbed her back, whispering, “Oh
Cherie, I wish I could take it all away for you,” almost identical
words that Jimmy had whispered in her ear the day before.
Over the next weeks, Jimmy had become a friend; a refuge from the
emotional pain she had been feeling for the last two years. Allie would
have moments of feeling fine, and then remember things, like she
wouldn't ever have a mother's day with her mother again; or be able to
celebrate their birthdays with tea at the Rittenhouse. The
never-really-ending ache of rejection and emptiness that Sean had left
behind hadn't helped her ability to cope with this loss either. She had
been at a minimal functioning level, going through the motions of
dealing with family business and going back to grad school. Sometimes
she slept a lot, and sometimes not at all.
But Jimmy's calm, patient presence in her life gave her some peace
back. He took things slow, built trust with her and eventually they
became an item. It was nice to be held in someone's arms, and be
needed. At first it was awkward to be intimate with someone who wasn't
Sean. He certainly didn't feel anything like Sean. But she grew to
appreciate Jimmy’s comfortable presence with his slightly broad yet
Jimmy was also good for her health. She began to eat normally again and
regained enough weight to end all of the "you're too thin" comments she
had been bombarded with in the days surrounding the funeral. She also
took tennis back up with a vengeance, feeling the force of anger she
had been sequestering in her body surge through her racket as she hit
balls, match after match. She found joy in doing well in club
tournaments again. She even learned to appreciate it when club members
commented to her about how much she looked like her mother on the
courts, and how proud Jane would be of her talented daughter.
At the annual Club Independence Party, Allie's father opened up in a
way he hadn't been able to since the funeral. They had rarely seen each
other in those weeks, much less talked about anything more than the
weather. Both of them were obviously avoiding the pain of being around
each other without Jane as their mutual foil.
"Your mother would be thrilled you're dating him," he smiled. "But is
that what you're doing? Trying to make her happy?"
"Why do you say that?" She felt defensive.
"Don't get upset, Allie,” Kenneth knew he was on the defense with his
fragile daughter. “You're doing what you need to do move on; I'm
honestly glad you're doing better these days. I was really worried;
your mother and I were both worried. I just don't know if this is you
now," he glanced over at Jimmy who was talking to some old friends
Allie didn’t like.
"What do you mean?" Her defensiveness grew.
"You're not a country club girl, Allie. This just seems like what you
think your mother wanted for you."
"It is what she wanted," she rolled her eyes. "But what's wrong with me
wanting it to?"
"I can't tell if it is what you really want," Kenneth pressed her in an
unusually delicate conversation. He had rarely commented on her
personal life, especially as it related to men. "I could see how happy
you were when you were around Sean. You don't seem to have that same
joy with Jimmy."
"Sean is not an option, Dad," Allie grew cold. "And, you're right, I'm
not the same person, none of us are," she whispered while a tear ran
down her cheek. "Since Mom died," she choked up.
"I'm sorry Al, I know, believe me. No one feels her loss more than me,”
he choked up, making Allie feel instantly guilty for her own self-pity
in the context of what her father lost, his soul mate. “I just hope you
do realize that you have more than two options. There's a whole world
out there. Jimmy is a good kid... I just want to see you with someone
who brings out your best."
Allie hugged and smiled at her Dad. She wasn't going to convince him
that she was happy. She knew that deep down he was right about one
thing. She had felt a passion with Sean that Jimmy would probably never
give her. But she was done with passion and wanted normalcy and
stability so much more. It was certainly better to be safe and
contented than continue feeling the revolving door of pain and numbness
she had been enduring for more than two wretched years.
That autumn, she started back in her program in New York to finish her
masters, traveling back to Philly on the weekends to see Jimmy, who had
now been given a Vice-President title while he learned the ropes of the
family’s dealership business, as the heir apparent. It was
during a weekend visit to New York, in Central Park, Jimmy took Allie
on a picnic. With autumn leaves falling around her, he brought out a
ring box and asked her to marry him. She felt it must be right; such a
beautiful setting and an even more beautiful ring. She agreed to Mrs.
James Naughton Oliver III.
Allie needed Jimmy's opinion quickly to finalize the wording on their
wedding invitations so she could get them printed and mailed out in
just the right time before their wedding in June. With only three
months left, there was so much to do. She couldn't bear the thought of
making a single faux pas. Her wedding planner was a lot like her
mother; every single detail could not be left to chance.
She ran up to his office, but his assistant, Becky, was gone again. She
rarely seemed at her post. Allie had also been surprised that Jimmy had
hired such a butterball of a girl; most of the women working in luxury
car sales were lean and mean city girls. Becky was pretty,
though, Allie could see that. Not gorgeous like Maia, but still lovely.
She was always well made up and dressed in trendy plus-sized clothing,
reminding her of those audacious big girls at the websites Allie
visited when privately escaping into her fat fetish.
She grabbed a pen and post-it note from Becky’s desk and began to write
a note, but stopped when she heard noise coming from inside of Jimmy’s
office. It sounded like his voice, but muffled. Maybe he was in a
meeting or on a conference call? She figured he could pause for a
moment; she was in such a hurry, and it would only take a second.
She lightly turned the knob, but it was locked. Her ear now pressed to
the door, she could hear a higher voice, giggling. There was definitely
a woman inside. Angry and determined to know what was going on, Allie
started looking though Becky’s office drawers and found a set of keys.
She recognized the one for his office, same as on Jimmy’s set of keys.
She quietly inserted the key, turning the knob to unlock and slowly
opened the door.
What she saw shocked, surprised and gravely embarrassed her. There was
Jimmy, shirtless, with his hands roaming around Becky’s soft belly,
with her pants unbuttoned, exposing hanging flesh packed in lacy
underwear, stretched thin by the round bulges of her love handles.
Allie’s mortification turned into a jealous rage. Here was Jimmy,
fondling this chubbette, while she had been agonizing over diet and
exercise to fit into her custom designed Peter Langner bridal gown. It
was a beautiful but unforgiving cascade of silk and satin that would
reveal every a single curve of flesh, should any exist at all on the
blushing bride. Jimmy had praised her for her dedicated fitness, and
now she was witnessing him fondling another woman’s fat rolls. Her
brain was ready to explode.
Jimmy and Becky both looked back into Allie’s eyes like two deer in
headlights. Becky quickly grabbed her button down shirt and put it on,
fumbling over the buttons, struggling to cover up. Allie felt a
horrible surge of wickedness rise up in her, and before she could
think, the words came tumbling out of her mouth, “You should choose
clothing that easier to button up around you if you’re going to get
caught in the act,” Allie spat out.
“Allie,” Jimmy implored her to hold her tongue.
“Save it,” she put her hand up to Jimmy, barely glancing at him while
glaring at Becky in an attempt to make her more uncomfortable. Allie
hadn’t ever felt so much vindictiveness, coursing through her veins
like ice water, but it now overwhelmed her. She watched Becky’s
reddened face fill with tears as she got her pants buttoned around her
generous waist, zippered over her ample lower belly. The mortified girl
tried to leave on the other side of the room, but Allie moved to stop
her. Becky tried to maneuver around her, but Allie was too quick and
stopped her again.
More awful words fell out of Allie’s mouth as she assessed her prey up
and down, “You are a pretty girl, Becky, you should find a man who
likes you out in the open, not one who will only screw the fat girl in
private.” A tear fell out of Becky’s eye. Seeing that tear,
Allie regained her humanity and suddenly felt very guilty for her cruel
words. She stood aside to let Becky leave.
Allie then turned to Jimmy, “Really? Becky?” she was still angry and
redirected her anger squarely at Jimmy. He was the real culprit. Most
girls would have a hard time saying no to Jimmy, much less a naive,
young girl like Becky. “I don’t know what’s worse, that you cheated on
me, or that you did it with someone you knew would get hurt.”
“Me hurt her? You’re the one who just called her fat,” Jimmy started.
“She is fat,” Allie retorted, “But I had no idea you liked ‘em that
“I didn’t either,” he honestly stated. Allie was at a loss for words.
Was Jimmy coming out as an FA? The irony struck her to the core.
“So you decided all of a sudden you want that?” Allie couldn’t even say
the word ‘fat’ anymore, she knew this was sailing too close to her own
“I know you do, Allie. I see you looking at big guys, all the time; you
don’t hide it well,” Jimmy retorted, making Allie feel a wash of
anxiety rush over her. “I started to wonder about it, and then I
checked your browser history,” he admitted.
Allie felt sick. Her private, secret fat world had been pricked and the
air was flying out of it. She visited fat and gaining sites all the
time. It was her only outlet within this artificial world she
had built with Jimmy, after Sean broke her heart and her mother passed
Jimmy continued, “I was relieved, actually. You never enjoyed sex with
me. I used to agonize over it, until I figured out it was because I
wasn’t fat enough for your real tastes.”
Allie closed her eyes and began to cry. He was right. She had been
lying to herself for convenience and security. For a long time it
seemed like she could get away with it, but it didn’t work.
Jimmy continued, letting all honesty prevail. “You’re going to think
I’m crazy, but I thought maybe there was something to the whole fat
thing that I had been missing. I mean, if you liked it, maybe I would
too, or something...” he trailed off, his hand brushing though his hair
in frustration to explain. “Becky made herself available, and it,” he
paused, “happened,” he admitted sheepishly.
Allie was blown away by his openness in the midst of being caught as a
cheater. Yet she realized she had to take a lot of the blame for this
state of affairs. Jimmy was a jerk for cheating on her, but she hadn’t
been exactly honest with him either. She had never cheated on him by
having actual sex with someone else, but she had thought about it a
lot. Not to mention all of the flirting she did with big guys whenever
she got the chance. And the countless times she pleasured herself with
fantasies of obese men making love to her, while being sexually cold to
“I’m sorry, Jimmy,” Allie began to sob, “For everything. I’ve never
really been fair to you. Ever. Not even when we first dated.”
Jimmy stood in front of her, rubbing her arms to comfort her. “Here you
are apologizing when I was the one cheating.” She looked up at him with
a surprising amount of empathy. He really wasn’t a bad guy; he was just
confused and misled by perceptions, just like Allie had been deceived
by her own judgment.
They talked through things civilly and parted as friends. Allie was
relieved it was as amicable as it could be. But although they agreed to
keep in touch, those were vain words meant to soothe each other at the
end of a broken relationship. What was to be the Main Line wedding of
the year became hushed society gossip that died off with Allie’s move
back to New York.
Allie straddled his thick leg, her body pressed firmly into his belly
that spread across his lap while he reclined in his oversized office
chair. Her eyes glazed over the white veneer walls of his
office before she closed them and fully felt the way his fingers glazed
between her legs, causing her to feel a magnificent excitement build up
in her body.
“You can’t get enough, can you,” he whispered in her ear.
“Not really,” she murmured back, stroking her fingers along his paunch,
and reaching underneath it to excite him more. She leaned
over to get into his top desk drawer, fished out a Godiva bonbon, and
traced his lips with it.
“Ugh, Allie, you already fed me such a huge lunch,” he grinned,
playfully trying to feign some limitations.
“It’s just one more little treat,” she continued to brush it along his
lips, her other hand gently jiggling his love handles.
He opened his mouth and moaned lightly, expressing a sort of pleasured
acquiescence. Once he finished the chocolate and licked his lips in
satisfaction, she reached for the drawer again.
He grabbed her hand and held it behind her back. “Oh no you don’t, my
turn to tease you now.” He got up, holding her tight, and pushed her
against his desk, lifting her on top of it. She watched with excitement
as he worked his belt open, struggled with his pants button and quickly
worked his way inside of her. With the rhythmic bounce of his flab onto
her body, it didn’t take long for either of them to come. The
tension had been building all morning, as it seemed to each day since
this affair began a couple of months before.
It wasn’t ideal. Van was her boss; well, her boss’s boss. He was a
named partner and firm co-founder. It was a daunting predicament.
Having sex with a married man was questionable enough, even if he was
separated; but it jeopardized her career if anyone found out. It just
felt so good. She was finally carefree and sexually satisfied;
something she hadn’t felt in a very long time. They had found a rare
connection in each other: he was into being fat, helping her find the
words for what she had kept locked away inside her mind for so long;
and she was incredibly turned on by encouraging a man into well-rounded
She had wondered why he took her under his wing in the first place. A
new associate was hardly ready to work closely with a partner. “Dr.
Porter told me you have a passion for preservation,” he had told her in
their first meeting, a few days into her hiring at a small but up and
coming architectural firm in SoHo.
“I do,” she smiled nervously. A handsome, successful man with a broad
belly and deep rich voice intimidated her like nothing else.
“He gave you a glowing reference,” he smiled, cupping his hands beneath
his belly. She tore her eyes away from it and back into his.
He seemed almost amused.
“I’m glad to hear that,” she didn’t know what else to say.
“That’s why I’m asking you to be part of a special project I’ve been
given by the Landmarks Conservancy; a French Gothic near Central Park.
It’s been renovated too many times in too many different ways and now
it needs real work to bring it back to the original beauty.”
Her eyes lit up, “It sounds like a fantastic opportunity!”
“Bill is the project manager,” Van was sure to place her manager
between them, “He’s a nuts and bolts engineer. But I want you to do the
research and be his visual and historical resource.”
Allie thankfully accepted his challenge and got to work quickly. Within
a week of working day and night, she had amassed a thick binder full of
research on the original architectural firm and the building ownership
history. Van set a meeting for them to go to visit the site
and discuss her notes.
As they traveled by cab up Sixth Avenue, Allie could feel her chest
pounding. She wanted to impress Van with some semblance of grace and
wits but simply felt speechless in his presence. He seemed comfortable,
though, allowing himself to spread across a good part of the back seat.
When they reached the penthouse space, she could almost feel the years
of history that the space had seen. Now showing slightly dilapidated
post-modern style, she felt the walls screaming out to her to be
restored to their gilded elegance.
She turned to study Van from the side, his masculine features gave way
to softened cheeks and a thick neck. And the perfect shape of his
belly, wide, soft and well fed. Her body felt a throbbing ache. It had
been so long since she felt sexually satisfied.
Well, there was that one weekend back in June, while visiting her
brother in California. She had driven down to Los Angeles to attend the
AIA National Convention. On her return drive, she decided to stop over
in Santa Barbara to check out a couple of wineries. It was
the weekend she was supposed to have gotten married to Jimmy. It wasn’t
that she was still heartbroken about it, but being somewhere else,
where no one knew her, was a perfect way to get through it.
She found herself lingering at a tasting event close to her hotel. She
was drawn to the very cute and very tubby operations manager, chatting
him up until the evening ended. Plenty tipsy and feeling reckless, she
boldly invited him to her hotel room for a night cap. After a night of
pure, raw sex and not much sleep, she slipped away the next morning
leaving a simple note of appreciation, never having exchanged phone
numbers or even last names. It was her chance to be someone else for
just a few hours. She wasn’t proud of it, but it was what her body
needed. And it certainly reminded her of why she liked what she liked.
Still, she was never comfortable with casual relations, and her sex
life went back into dormancy while pursuing a budding career.
But Van’s daily presence and confident charms had quickly torn down her
resolve to wait for Mr. Right, when Mr. Right-Now was constantly
lingering in her thoughts with his audacious display of fatness.
It wasn’t long into their affair that they understood each other’s
predilections. Van had grown up as an athlete, surfing
competitively, but dreamed of fatness. Allie fought childhood
chubbiness, pushing herself hard to stay thin. They found a sexual bond
that needed to be consummated, despite the utterly irresponsible nature
Van had also shared with Allie the extent of his complicated marriage.
He had met his wife in England while working on his masters at
University College. She was very different from the girls he had dated
before: thin, wealthy, and detached. He told Allie that he was
intrigued by Claire’s British indifference and reserve, despite the
fact that she was devoid of curves and didn’t have any inclination to
When she turned 27, Claire had come into a large inheritance. Wanting
to see her husband’s career flourish, they moved to New York and
started the architectural firm with a big bankroll from her to set up a
slick looking office and hire well-known talent that brought a
consistent client base.
The turning point in their marriage came when Van, away from the
beaches of California and the long walks of London, began to put on a
few pounds. He told Allie that he hadn’t initially tried to get fat,
but as he softened up, his wife noticed. At first she was playful,
teasing him sternly about getting his fat ass to a gym. But those
teasing insults spurned him to put on more intentional weight. He would
secretly gorge in between meals, relishing the feeling of his straining
shirts and tightening belt. Not finding it funny anymore, Claire
insisted that Van go to a nutritionist or get on an eating plan. He
told Allie that he had tried, but pretending to try was more exciting,
hoping that his wife would continue to notice but come around to
enjoying his new, thickening body.
She didn’t though. After finding candy wrappers in his jacket pockets,
she told him she was leaving for London and wouldn’t return to him
until he had lost weight. Van admitted to Allie he actually did try to
diet, but once Allie walked into his office, eyeing his fat body, he
stopped his efforts altogether. Claire had now been back in London for
more than a year, only communicating with Van through business
managers. They each had their reasons to stay married; Van needed her
to keep her investment money in his firm, and Claire needed to keep her
marriage intact to keep her father happy.
When Van told Allie all of this, she was shocked. How much, and yet how
little she had in common with Claire. Part of Allie felt sorry for
Claire, the poor little rich girl that Allie understood. And yet a
woman who could not appreciate her gorgeously rotund husband was
incomprehensible to Allie, who was living out an erotic fantasy with
"Have you always been into this?" Van nestled his chub into her body,
as she fondled his belly after another late night tryst at her
"I don't know," she murmured. "There was enough anti-fat prejudice in
my world growing up that I didn't even consider the idea. I really
didn't even think about sex at all until I was in college."
"A late bloomer?" he tickled her along her arm.
"Something like that," she smiled through her words, realizing it.
"So what caused you to embrace the idea?" He probed more.
"I met a guy, who was on the chubby side," she admitted softly. "I knew
I was into his size and when he gained weight I came to terms with the
fact that I loved it."
"Did you feel ashamed?" He dug deeper.
"I did," she admitted, "I mean, I felt ashamed that I wanted him fat
and to keep getting fatter, but I never felt ashamed of being with him.
I fell in love with him, and then he managed to break my heart," she
"How on earth could someone do that to you?" He brushed her hair from
"Long story," she offered. It was easier to talk to Van about fat lust
than broken hearts.
"What about you?" It was Allie's turn, "How did you come to the
realization that you wanted to be fat?"
"Always," he smiled. "I always wanted it, but I grew up in SoCal, you
know. I was pretty serious about surfing, so anytime I'd deliberately
gain a few pounds, it didn't stick. Either it would drag me down
competitively, or I couldn't keep it on anyway."
"Did you ever admit to girls you wanted this?" She tapped his belly.
"No, not back then. I did decide for a while that I was an FA and went
after fat girls," he smiled.
"Really?" Allie was now surprised since he had seemed to appreciate her
thin physique. And Claire was runway model thin also, judging by the
wedding picture she had seen of them at his office. She remembered the
first time she saw it on his credenza, noticing how athletic and trim
Van looked in the picture, and how much it turned her on to see how fat
he had gotten since.
"Yep, I still am an FA. All of my girlfriends in college were bigger. I
loved being with fat girls, especially when I was thinner. But now that
I'm fat, I can really appreciate how this works when the tables are
turned," he grinned, caressing Allie’s little waist.
"So how did it work for you with your wife? There wasn't any fat
involved there," Allie giggled.
"Probably like you and your ex-fianc�," he teased back. Allie had told
him about Jimmy and walking in on his affair with his chubby Secretary.
It was easy to talk about that, since she wasn't hurt nearly as badly
as she had been by Sean. Van loved those details about her finding
Becky with Jimmy in his office, practically getting off on the spiteful
words that Allie shot at her tubby rival, even if Allie still felt a
little guilty about it.
"Yeah, sex with a thin guy is like eating Wonder Bread. It holds the
sandwich together, but doesn't taste like a damn thing," she laughed
more, needing to see the humor in her tumultuous past.
"Speaking of tasting..." Allie leaned over to her night stand where she
kept the good Belgian chocolate she picked up during her last visit
with Maia, grabbing a few pieces out to indulge her lover.
"You're a nasty little feeder," he mumbled jokingly as she shoved the
treats in his mouth.
"You're a fat and greedy glutton" she teased him back, shaking his
flabby gut and rubbing his hardened cock.
"You are not even real, are you?" he sighed, smiling, almost implying
that what was happening existed in an alternate universe. Somehow that
didn’t bother her at all; alternative universes were so much easier
than real life. She gave him a sexy look and he heaved
himself up on top of her for another round of lovemaking.
Allie nestled into the wide wicker chair that gave her a perch to watch
Manhattan awaken on a beautiful spring Saturday morning. She sipped her
espresso, relishing the livening sounds of a new day. The sliding door
opened and there was Van’s belly, robe opened to display his growing
She smiled fondly as he stretched, watching his belly rise and fall in
a jiggle. Nine months had passed since they began their affair and no
one seemed the wiser. They had been able to hide it well at work, only
sneaking in the occasional lovemaking session on his desk, and usually
after hours. But these days they kept their trysts to his place or
hers. They had certainly grown closer, sharing an enormously fat secret
together, but had not exchanged the ‘I love yous’ and commitments that
came along as relationships developed. It was understood that he wasn’t
divorcing his wife anytime soon, and Allie had no interest in marriage
"You’re phone rang a few times while I was in the shower, " he handed
her the cell.
“You didn’t invite me in?” She pouted. “You know I love to get you
clean,” she stood up and rubbed her hands around his body, slipping her
fingers into the back rolls on either side of his blubbery body, as she
did when soaping him off after a sweaty sex session.
“I have a lunch meeting,” he sighed.
“You work too many Saturdays,” she pouted more.
“Sorry, babe, that harder I work, the faster I can pay off Claire,” he
had begun to talk seriously about releasing the agency from the debt he
owed his wife.
“At least let me help you get dressed,” she pleaded with a grin. Allie
loved to pull his shirt around his big belly and button him up, stuff
his shirt into his large-waisted trousers, and help him tie his tie
around his chubby neck. “Getting a fat boy dressed is almost as fun as
stripping him down,” she winked.
After Van had left, she remembered her phone and looked at the missed
calls. All of them were from her brother, which was odd, since she
hadn’t talked to him in months. She sat down on Van’s bed and called
“Allie, we need you,” he whispered softly.
“I’ll be there in a few hours,” Allie whispered into her phone, waiting
for her cross-country flight to take off. Waves of fear, guilt and
shock had been washing over her in the hours since she talked to her
brother. She had been holed up in a make-believe world with her lover,
living only for herself and her own pleasure. Now her brother and his
wife were facing a challenge that no parents should ever have to face.
“Thanks, Allie,” Holden’s voice was breaking.
“I have to go through Phoenix,” she continued.
“Call me when you land,” he became clearer.
“I got a car, so you don’t have to worry about picking me up,” she
“We’ll keep some dinner warm for you,” Holden offered.
“No, the last thing you and Monica need is to worry about feeding me,”
Allie knew her appetite was going to be gone again anyway.
“Just be safe,” his voice was weak again.
“I have to go, I love you guys,” Allie was in tears as the flight
attendant tapped her on the shoulder to end her call.
She leaned back and closed her eyes, recounting the days turn of
events. As soon as she talked to her brother that morning, she was
online booking the one-way flight and packing a bag. When she got into
the cab to the airport, she realized that she needed to call Van and
let him know things were going to change.
“Hey babe,” she started, trying to find the words to let Van know she
was leaving town indefinitely, and why.
“What’s wrong?” He knew something wasn’t good.
“I’m flying out to my brother’s today,” she started, “I’m going to have
to take a leave of absence, I guess you’d call it, if I can…” she
started to tear up again.
“What’s going on?” Van asked with deep concern in his voice.
“It’s my niece, Ella, she’s got a brain tumor,” Allie cried.
“Oh my god, Allie, how horrible,” he whispered.
“She’s only 5,” Allie was sobbing, “and she’s the most amazing little
girl,” she couldn’t go on.
“Oh, Al,” was all he could muster.
“I need to be with them right now” she explained.
“Of course you do,” Van understood. “I’ll worry about handling your
absence, don’t even think about work. We’ll figure it out.”
“Thank you,” she sighed,” wiping her face off. “I’ll let you know
what’s going on in a few days.”
“Be well, Allie,” Van told her, “Everything will be okay,” he tried to
comfort her. But it felt very tenuous. How could she ever return to New
York and get re-wrapped up in that fantasy world when it became so
painfully clear that real problems in the real world will always have
She couldn’t hide her pain. The moment she saw her brother’s face, she
fell into his arms and sobbed, “I’m so sorry I wasn’t here with you
“We only learned two days ago,” he smiled weakly, pushing her hair out
of her wet face. “But it’s been weeks of wondering what’s wrong with
her. It was like she had the flu, and then headaches, and bad balance…
I feel like we took too long to get her in and tested,” he teared up.
“Holden, no one ever thinks this will happen, so you cannot let guilt
make you feel any worse than you already do,” Allie told him, not
really realizing she should have taken her own advice for the
guilt-ridden. “I feel badly I haven’t been out here to meet little
Allie had been in the throes of her new, fat-filled love affair the
previous winter when Holden and Monica welcomed a second baby girl into
their family. Her own father had visited with his grandchildren back in
March, while on a business trip to San Francisco, but she hadn’t yet
made the time herself.
“We know you’ve been busy with getting your career going in New York,”
he assured her, “there’s a lot of pressure, with a new job...” he
That made Allie feel even worse. When you’re screwing the founding
partner, the only career pressure is how to keep it a secret from your
co-workers. But Allie couldn’t think any more about that. She had one
thing on her mind: a plan for Ella.
“We need to get her to Children’s in Philly,” Allie affirmed, having
already made all the arrangements in her head while waiting to board
the plane back at LaGuardia.
“The doctors talked about Packard at Stanford,” he started.
“Holden, it’s like three hours up to Palo Alto. That’s too much daily
commute for you guys – and expensive to stay up there for any length of
time. You might as well fly those hours instead,” Allie urged him.
“Children’s is the best in the country. From my volunteer work there, I
know some of the doctors… and the nurses, you wouldn’t believe how
wonderful they are. Let’s talk to Dad, we’ll get something set up with
Doctor Brewer. I’m sure she’ll see us right away.”
“I was going to call Dad after you got here, tomorrow morning,” Holden
was reminded of the painful conversation he still needed to have with
“I’ll talk to Dad first thing,” Allie offered. “He knows everyone
there, Ella will get the best care.”
“Allie, are you sure we need to pull strings for something like this?”
Holden attempted to protest her use of their family connections.
“Yes, it’s absolutely the right thing to do,” Allie got angry, “I know
you have issues with our privilege, but I don’t give a shit about any
of that when it comes to Ella. This is the best possible reason to use
“Hey, don’t think I wouldn’t give anything for this not to be
happening,” he became short. “But Monica’s here and her family is
mostly in the Bay area, so she may not agree.”
“Monica’s got a baby to keep close, and needs her job to keep your
family going,” Allie was blunt. “Dad will get us a place to stay near
the hospital, and you’ll probably rack up a lot of frequent flyer
miles. I’ve already taken a leave of absence from my job so I will be
there for Ella. And all of you. As long as it takes for her to get
“Classes finished last week for me,” Holden discussed his obligations
at the University, “Just some grading and paperwork to finish up. With
Ella being sick all the time, I had opted out of teaching any summer
“We’ll talk to Monica in the morning,” Allie rubbed her brother’s
shoulder. “I think she’ll see this is the best way.”
Holden smiled and softened, “You are an amazing sister, Allie. Mom
would be so proud of the woman you have become.”
“Mom would be proud of the father you have become too,” Allie gave him
a last hug before heading to the guest room she had spent many a
sleepless night in during the dark days after Sean left. And then two
years later after losing her mom. Not to mention that terrible episode
with Jimmy another year after. She knew the ocean air and
cross country distance had been healing when her heart was broken, but
she was certain that the best children’s Oncology team in the country
was in Philly, and they would make Ella better.
Her east coast body clock woke Allie up at 5:00am, so she was able to
catch her father in Zurich waiting to catch a flight back to Newark. He
was distraught by the news, but glad to be coming home to help his
family through this crisis. “Call me, Allie, as soon as you talk to
Monica. If she agrees, I’ll make some calls.”
A few minutes later, Allie was never so happy to hear a baby cry. She
tiptoed and peeked into Claudia’s nursery. There was Monica, now
diapering her younger daughter as the little girl squirmed and cried.
Motherhood was such a beautiful mess of work, Allie thought, touched by
the way Monica managed the baby, noticing tears welling up in her eyes.
“Oh Allie,” she smiled through them, when she turned to see her
sister-in-law the doorway, “Let me introduce you to Claudia,” as she
wiped away the errant tear on her cheek.
The little girl screamed in Allie’s face. “She wants her breakfast
first,” Monica laughed, settling down to nurse the baby. Allie marveled
at what a pro Monica was, wondering if she could ever be nearly as good
at being a mother.
“I talked to Holden last night,” Allie explained to Monica, wanting to
have the difficult conversation while Holden and Ella still slept.
“Have you thought about Children’s in Philly?”
“Holden mentioned it as soon as we got the news,” Monica said softly.
“I’m just trying to figure out how we manage our family across 3,000
“I know the distance is a burden, but I also know Ella will get the
best care in the world,” Allie assured Monica. “I will be there 100%
for Ella. I just think it will be harder for you, as her mother, to
keep a brave face with her. With me there with her, I’m more like a
friend; I’ll have fun with her. Caring for your baby, trying to be a
good nurse AND trying to split time at the hospital up at Stanford is
too much for you. If she’s in Philly, you can focus here and then fly
out on your rotation days off for totally dedicated time with her. “
Monica was fighting back sobs. “It would break my heart to be away from
my sweet girl while she’s going through this, but I want the best for
her,” Monica wiped more tear away before it landed on Claudia. “I want
to hold my baby through every moment of her treatment… but I know, as a
nurse, I have to give her what she needs most, not what I need most.”
“I was just thinking what a strong mother you are,” Allie choked up,
“And how it’s got to be the hardest job in the world. I can’t imagine
I’d ever do it as well as you.”
“You will be amazing, Allie. It will bring out the absolute best in
you, wait and see.”
Kenneth had made all the arrangements at the hospital, and real-estate
accommodations at two loft style apartments overlooking the Schuylkill
River, a 10 minute walk away from the hospital. Allie looked
forward to getting back to her stress-relieving runs along the river
she had enjoyed during those “happy summers,” as she referred to the
time she was with Sean. She hadn’t had many good summers since, and
this upcoming summer was proving to be as difficult as any she had ever
known. At least the city she loved would offer her some good vibes to
keep her strong for Ella and her family.
Despite her condition, Ella was developing into an incredibly
brilliant, thoughtful and witty girl. It was hard to believe she was
only five and a half. Being raised by extremely intelligent parents
probably helped, but she certainly had the same spunk she had seen in
the little toddler with whom she had first fell in love. Still, time
had passed and so much had changed. Allie found solace in knowing that
she could now reconnect with her precious niece.
Ella’s initial surgery went well, but there were some long weeks of
chemotherapy ahead for her. Allie bought many books, toys and crafts to
keep her entertained, a portable DVD player and some handheld
electronic games. She even hired a tutor to come by a few times a week
to keep Ella going with learning to read and write her alphabet.
Holden and Allie took turns most days so that Ella had company during
her waking hours. Monica came every 4 or 5 days, putting in long hours
juggling time between her daughters. Kenneth stayed in Philly as much
as possible, postponing business trips so he could come by some nights
and nearly every Sunday. They were working together as a family to help
little Ella through the roughest days of her treatment.
It was during her treatment that the family was delivered discouraging
news, Ella had developed anemia and would be hospitalized longer. Allie
remembered feeling the same way during the worst of her mother’s
illness and after the funeral. Lacking appetite, no energy, growing
thin enough for people to make comments. But she didn’t care about any
of that. Little Ella was fighting for her life and nothing else
mattered, not even Allie’s own health.
On a particularly dreary late summer day, rain relentlessly poured
against the hospital window. Summer rain always reminded her of Sean,
which was actually a day she looked back on as about the best in her
life. But the rain held no more of that hopeful love she once had felt.
Gloom now took its place, as she held Ella’s hand, watching the hands
of the clock slowly move around.
At least Ella was sleeping. Her cough had grown stronger as she reached
the nadir of the current round of treatment. The doctors continued to
be optimistic about her long-term prognosis, but always warning the
family of the realities of side effects, which were draining Ella of
her perk and joyfulness.
At first, after the surgery, Allie was strong and positive in her heart
that everything would be okay. But as the war in Ella’s body raged on,
Allie grew increasingly angry with a world that would cause such trauma
to a little girl and her family, and a course of treatment that would
do such damage to her sweet little body. It was one thing to lose the
love of her life, and then her own mother, but now this? She put on a
happy face with Ella, mustering the only smiles she had left in her for
the little girl. But a rage sat in Allie’s stomach like a heavy stone,
and there was no room for anything else. She willfully denied herself
any pleasures, barely eating and... barely living, for that matter.
As Ella slept through the rain, Allie fought her own eyes closing,
letting her head fall to the edge of Ella’s bed.
“Allie,” time seemed to have passed when she heard the soft voice
awaken her. She looked up to see the warm smile of her
sister-in-law. “You must have drifted off.”
She glanced up at Monica, and then over at Ella, who was awake and
smiling sweetly back at her.
“Oh, sorry,” Allie murmured as she stood up and gave Monica a hug.
“No worries,” she looked at Allie and rubbed her thin arm. “How’s my
baby girl?” She sat down next to Ella and brushed her daughter’s cheek.
“I’m good today, Mom,” Ella beamed, thrilled to see her mother. Allie
noticed that Ella did look pinker in the cheeks than she had the day
before. “But Allie Cat looks sick now,” the little girl observed
Then, both mother and daughter were looking at Allie with a similar
concern in their eyes. “Allie,” Monica started, seeming to be searching
for appropriate words, “You really don’t look well.”
“I’m okay,” Allie forced her posture up, “Just a little tired.”
Monica grabbed Allie’s hand, “We’ll be right back, Peanut. I’m just
going to talk to Aunt Allie outside for a minute.”
Monica led Allie away from her daughter’s earshot and grew stern,
“Allie, honey, you really do look unwell,” noticing the paleness of her
skin and dark circles she tried in vain to conceal with
makeup. “Are you eating much at all?” Monica brushed her hand
down Allie’s thinning arms.
“I’m fine,” Allie grew indignant, hating that Monica could detect her
decreasing weight. She was sure her brother had said something, since
Holden had been on her case about it as well.
“Holden’s going to be here in a few minutes,” speaking of her nagging
brother. “Let’s have him sit a bit with Ella while we get lunch. I
haven’t eaten all day myself.”
“I’m just going to go home and get some rest,” Allie declined Monica’s
offer. “A good nap is all I need.”
“Can we take you to dinner tonight?” Monica persisted, determined to
get Allie some nourishment.
“I’m just going to stay home and get sleep, that’s all I need,” Allie’s
irrational anger was bubbling up under her skin. She could practically
feel it prickling through. And then she could hear it, lightly ringing
in her ears. “I have to go,” she turned into Ella’s room,
grabbed her purse, gave Ella a quick kiss and walked out quickly.
She stormed down the hospital hallway, feeling angry that her body was
under this scrutiny, but also enormous guilt that she took that anger
out on a mother who’s suffering more horribly than Allie could imagine.
Which only made Allie feel worse. Now her ears were ringing more
loudly, as she turned another corner, walking down another long
hallway. She couldn’t bear to wait for the elevator, and headed toward
the stairwell. She could feel disorientation overcome her, as she
walked out into an area she didn’t recognize. Then, with
another long hallway in front of her, she felt herself losing her
breath. She just needed to get air. The hallway turned sideways again,
and then everything went black.
She awoke from her nap, but it wasn’t her bed. White sheets? Cream
walls? She then noticed the needle in her arm and looked up,
focusing on Monica’s face next to her, and Holden on the other side of
her, with her hand in his.
“What happened?” Allie asked them. She had dreamed of Sean
again. This time he was wearing a white doctor’s coat, telling her she
was going to be okay. It was such a comforting dream, to be taken care
of by the only boy she ever loved. He was the wonderful, tender, and
gorgeously fat Sean she would still have occasional dreams about. Not
the cool, thin Sean that married another woman.
“You really scared us Allie,” Holden said firmly. Monica nodded,
“I was leaving, but I guess I never made it out of the building,” she
was starting to piece together that she had passed out.
“You’re pretty dehydrated,” Monica said, “They put you on an IV to get
more fluids in you.”
“A doctor found you collapsed on the second floor,” Holden continued.
“Then one of the nurses recognized you and called Dad.”
“Recognized me?” Just then, Kathy, a nurse who Allie had known from her
volunteer days, walked over and grabbed Allie’s hand.
“Hi Sugar,” Kathy squeezed her weakened hand. Kathy had been a no
nonsense sweetheart of a nurse and Allie had loved working with
her. “We need to get you over to Penn; we don’t admit old
broads like you here,” she winked at Allie.
“Admit? I’m fine, just dehydrated. I’m already feeling a lot better,”
“You need to get checked out, Allie,” Kathy got a tough tone with
Allie, “Healthy young women don’t just pass out randomly.”
“I’ll drive you over,” said Holden, “We need you to get better, and so
Allie felt more guilt, realizing this was taking time away from the
girl who most needed the family’s attention. She agreed to go over to
the urgent care facility Kathy recommended, to reassure everyone she
was just fine.
Dr. Williams sat down with her, checking out the bruise in her arm from
the IV entry. “Needed an IV, huh?” The doctor smoothed her fingers over
the inside of Allie’s arm.
“Yep, I guess I haven’t been drinking enough water,” Allie shrugged.
“It’s been hot…”
Nodding, she pressed Allie further, “Are you eating regular meals?”
“Pretty much,” Allie glossed over the query, hoping the doctor would
“Are you getting exercise? Or keeping active?”
“Well, I’ve been pretty busy, caring for my niece,” Allie reminded the
doctor of her special situation. She had scaled back on the running as
she lacked enough energy to go more than a mile without feeling faint.
“It’s hard for you to care for your niece if you’re not caring for
yourself, Allie,” doctor Williams cautioned.
Allie bristled, “I’m fine, Doctor, really. It was a fluke.”
“Your vitals are okay; but blood pressure is a little low, along with
your blood sugar. You’re also underweight and slightly anemic. Have you
suffered from eating disorders in the past?”
“No,” Allie felt anger. Sure she had weight issues in her past, but she
wasn’t anorexic. She tried to be bulimic in college but couldn’t handle
the gag factor. She just didn’t eat much when she was stressed, that
“How about depression?”
Allie felt her heart drop, suddenly questioning everything she had
assumed about herself. She saw herself as strong now,
toughening through the worst episodes in her life on her own. She
wasn’t like other people. Depression didn’t happen to her. It was true
that she never felt right in her own skin, but she had always pressed
on anyway, getting through life and finding success where she could in
her studies and work. She wasn’t suicidal or anything. Depression was
for people that couldn’t handle problems, right? Or was she
actually, finally, breaking?
Dr. Williams saw Allie’s discomfort, almost reading her mind, “It’s
okay, depression is not a personal weakness,” she continued. “I could
refer you to a therapist to do a more thorough evaluation.”
“Evaluation?” Allie panicked.
“Allie, easy, you’re going through a lot. Sometimes perfectly normal,
healthy people need a little help when life overwhelms them,” the
doctor tried to ease Allie’s defensive posture.
“It just seems like every time something gets going well in my life, or
I feel any form of happiness, something terrible happens to remind me
that I don’t deserve it,” Allie began to get honest, tears forming in
“There are a lot of different ways people deal with difficulties in
life Allie. It’s normal to feel anger, sadness and grief when you’re
hurting. Some people deal with it using drugs or alcohol?” She
questioned Allie indirectly.
“No way,” Allie was firm, relieved that she could honestly deny those
“Or, others feel a lack of control over their lives, so they deny
themselves love, pleasure or nourishment to feel in control of
That was a blow to Allie, as she felt herself living and breathing in
those words. Was she subconsciously denying herself food in order to
feel in control?
Control. That was an elusive concept for her. She always felt her
destiny was in someone else’s hands, really. Her mother’s expectations;
or her father’s expectations… neither of which she had fulfilled. Her
relationship with Sean? He controlled that dynamic the whole way
through, all the way to his decision to end it. And her mother’s death…
Van’s inconvenient marriage… and, most crushingly unfair now, her
niece’s illness. None of it went in her favor, and there was nothing
she felt she could have ever done to help any of it. A rush of pain
came over her and she began to sob.
The doctor handed her a box of tissues and the name of a therapist.
Allie realized she had to give it a try or she would never move beyond
resenting the laundry list of pain that rolled through her head.
“Poor little rich girl,” Allie blurted, still hating herself for
feeling defeated when so many others suffered so much more.
“Allie, don’t let what you think you need to be keep you from getting
help,” Dr. Williams told her, “It’s time to start being as good to
yourself as you are to others.”
Allie wasn’t sure she had that in her, but she was willing to give it a
By early September, Allie had experienced two therapy sessions and was
putting forth effort to schedule regular meals for herself, rather than
gloss over them as she had grown accustomed to. Her therapist suggested
she eat lunch every day in the cafeteria at the hospital on days she
was caring for Ella, so that she could learn more comfort with eating
alone in public, something she had always avoided like the plague.
She sat down, feeling awkward, yet determined to give a positive report
back in the next therapy session. She took a first bite of a turkey
sandwich, just focusing on swallowing and taking the next bite. Her
eyes mindlessly gazed around the room, and then intently fell on the
back of a wide white coat.
She studied the outline of the big doctor’s body, snugly gripping juicy
love handles and a broad backside. Her eyes trailed up his back to his
dark, almost black head of hair. When he shifted in his seat, his back
fat would adjust accordingly, making her fingers tingle at the thought
of how they would feel slipped into those beckoning rolls. She was so
entranced by his form that she forgot all about her task to mindfully
eat this meal, finishing the sandwich and accompanying celery sticks
The moment she was waiting for came when he heaved himself up, and
turned around. She almost choked and spit out on the water she was
drinking. He was gorgeous, blue-eyed and perfect, with a beautifully
shaped belly that dipped below his belt.
But that’s not what made her choke. It was that she recognized his
face…It was Sean. Sean Casey! Doctor Sean Casey, and he was
fat. Fatter than when they were together. She panicked in the confusion
of his presence at Children’s Hospital, mixed with her lustful bodily
reaction to his larger size. She wanted to run away, but didn’t move a
muscle. He hadn’t seen her yet, but what would she do if he did? He was
married now, after all, she couldn’t even have him if she wanted. But
she did want him, she always had.
Allie grabbed her tray and turned away as stealthily as she could,
heading the opposite direction. She luckily found a cart outside the
kitchen to leave the tray without making a scene. She went out, found a
hallway cove and instinctively called Maia. Maia was the only person on
earth who would know what to do.
“Mon Cherie, I’ve missed you,” Maia exclaimed. “How is Ella?”
“Ella is awesome, she’s really coming along,” Allie shared, happy that
she could say those words.
“Fantastic, Allie,” Maia was thrilled. “You’ve all been dealing with so
“I’m in therapy,” Allie blurted, looking around her to make sure no one
heard the words. Her heart was still racing.
“I’m proud of you,” Allie could picture Maia’s smile in her tone, which
slowed her heart a little, but her hands were still a bit shaky,
holding the phone to her head.
“No pity, huh?” Allie sighed, trying to breathe normally, and
acknowledging that her best friend had encouraged her before to think
about counselling of some kind.
“Enfin, Cherie,” Maia sighed back. “How long have I told you that you
would benefit from talking more with someone you know less?”
“I guess you’ve been my therapist all too often, Maia,” Allie read into
what her best friend was trying to say.
“You know I am always here for you,” Maia took a stronger tone before
softening it, “But I’m not, um, how to say, without bias? I know you
too well, and love you too much to make you work through these things.
I’ll just hug you and stroke your hair,” she made herself laugh.
“That’s true,” Allie had to smile, knowing full well that Maia was too
sweet to make her cry like a good therapist would.
“So, does that mean I can no longer ask your opinion about boys?” Allie
led Maia to the topic that was still raging in her pounding heart.
“Oh, Cherie, you can always talk to me about boys!” Maia cooed. “Are
you going to see the big boss in New York again?”
“We’ve only communicated about work,” Allie was in limbo with Van. “And
not very much, it’s been awkward...”
“Did you meet a new one?” Maia would never change. She had been happily
settled down with Julien for three years now, and she was still
completely adolescent about the topic of men.
“Not exactly, I’m… pretty sure… um , I think I just saw Sean here at
the hospital,” Allie stammered, barely letting the words out of her
mouth, still in disbelief. After all, she had been dreaming about him,
and things had been shaky for her in general. Now that a few minutes
had passed, she began to question her own eyes.
“Mon Dieu, Allie, really? Is he back in Philadelphia? Is he married
“I don’t know. It sure looked like him: a doctor in a big white coat...
A tall, dark, handsome and fat doctor,” Allie’s voice lowered on the
last descriptive word, as she self-consciously glanced around again,
reddening as she pictured the scene of him again, adjusting his belt
under that belly after a big lunch.
“Fat?” Maia exclaimed. “I thought he had gotten all skinny.”
“It’s been about three years since I last saw him,” Allie reminded Maia
of the time that had passed since he broke her heart the second time.
“I suppose he could have gained a good amount of weight since then.”
“Yes, and I know how easy it is to gain a lot of weight in an even
shorter amount of time,” Maia giggled. “Julien, stop, I’m talking to
Allie,” she pulled the phone away. “Julien hasn’t changed, Allie, the
second he hears me talking about fat things, he gets so excit�,” she
was swatting him away again.
“Tell Julien that he can have you after you talk to me about fat
things,” Allie laughed.
“Julien says to tell you there are a million fat boys in America. You
can enjoy yourself every night for several lifetimes if you wish,” Maia
relayed the message, making Allie giggle more.
“But Maia, I need to get over this one first,” Allie become sober.
“Seeing Sean again makes me question everything I’ve done to lock up
those memories and put them away.”
“Maybe that’s not the right approach,” Maia turned it around. “Maybe
you need to talk to him, tell him how he made you feel, yes? Then you
will ask him how his life is, learn about his wife, if he has children,
that sort of thing. It will all be real to you. Then you can stop
wondering about what if, and just move on.”
“Maybe,” Allie sighed, feeling sick to her stomach about seeing him
face to face and having a nonchalant conversation about his wife and
“Yes, Julien agrees, he says you need closure. What Julien?” Maia
pulled the phone away again, and laughed, “And then he says you need to
go and get yourself a new stable of fat boys to play with.”
“Julien will never change, will he?” Allie smiled, reassured she had
wonderful friends, even if they lived an ocean away.
“I hope not!” Maia laughed. Allie always felt a little better sharing
in her best friend’s happiness. “Let me know as soon as
something happens with Sean,” she demanded.
“I will,” Allie reassured her, “however it goes, you’re first on my ‘to
commiserate with’ list.”
“No commiserations, mon Cherie, only closures,” her best friend
resolved for Allie.
Allie was less resolved. Perhaps queasy was a better word. It was going
to be hard to eat better with all those butterflies hanging around her
* * *
With Sean plaguing her thoughts all over again, Allie did what every
self-respecting woman does with an ex, she googled him. His profile
came up in a search of Doctor Sean Casey, at the Johns Hopkins website,
as a resident working in pediatric cardiology. His picture
was so handsome, albeit much thinner than the man she saw in the
hospital cafeteria a few days earlier. Fat or thin, Sean was incredibly
blessed with good looks. She studied the contours of his face, those
high cheekbones, Nordic nose, defined jaw; and oh, that deep set of
dark eyes and mop of thick, black hair. He is gorgeous, she sighed to
herself, remembering his handsome Celtic face staring at her in the
morning, touching her body, with his plush, soft belly pressing into
her while they made love. She was irritated with herself for dwelling
on those memories, but it was hard to block it out too.
She couldn’t find any information about him at Children’s though,
making her wonder if he was there just for the day, or a short visit.
Or maybe, he was a completely different person who just looked a lot
like Sean? Someone new she found attractive that was single, smart,
successful, and she could start fresh with?
Either way, it was odd, that she saw him just that one day, a week ago,
and not since. At first she was afraid of running into him again,
overwhelmed by fear that he would take the opportunity to reject her
all over again. If in fact, it was Sean. But as the days passed, she
became frustrated by not seeing him, walking more hallways than she
normally would, just to increase her chances at finally running into
“Allie!” Kathy exclaimed, jarring Allie from the lunch zone she was in.
She had been diligently eating meals to re-train herself into a
healthier routine. Her former pattern of long distance runs that
tortured her joints, in between several days of moping sluggishness,
now gave way to daily invigorating walks around the city. “You look
more restored than the last time I saw you.”
Allie cringed, reminded of the episode that caused her to completely
reassess her approach to health and mental rehabilitation. “I’m feeling
better,” she just smiled politely, remembering that Kathy’s words were
not meant to hurt her.
Seeming to sense Allie’s discomfort, Kathy sat down but changed the
subject, “So, I hear your niece is getting out of here soon!”
Allie’s mood brightened, the news had been good from the doctors this
week. Ella had achieved a solid remission, and her anemia was
subsiding, with her overall energy really rebounding in recent
days. “They’re already talking about her outpatient plan back
“That’s so fantastic, Allie,” Kathy hugged Allie, “I never get tired of
the success stories. Its tough work up in Oncology; a real emotional
marathon. I was there for a couple of years, but went back to
Cardiology...” she trailed off, not wanting to get emotional.
Cardiology, Allie thought, it was worth the question, “Kathy, do you
know a Dr. Casey up there?” She felt herself reddening.
“Dr. Casey?” Kathy smiled knowingly. “Sure, he’s a wonderful doctor.
How do you know him?”
Allie paused, still in disbelief that it really was Sean she saw, “Dr.
“Yes,” Kathy continued, “Dark hair, big guy? A real sweetheart,” she
clarified. “He’s a visiting fellow; will be with us for about a year, I
Allie felt a lump in her throat forming and didn’t know how to respond
to this news.
“So, come on, how do you know him? He’s doesn’t seem like the country
club type - he’s got that North Philly accent,” she chattered on, "At
least I think that's where he said he grew up..." While Allie’s head
raced about how she would respond without sounding like a creepy ex,
Kathy continued, “I wondered, when he found you on the floor, you know,
when you passed out? He picked you up to get you to a gurney, but his
emotional reaction? Well, it just seemed like he knew you. I could have
sworn he whispered your name as I got there to help.”
She felt mortified now. He had seen her at her worst. And, she hadn’t
hallucinated. He really had been her hero that day. She actually did
register Sean, albeit in semi-consciousness, as her rescuer, in his
newly re-fattened up body, just as she thought she had dreamed.
Kathy continued, “I even asked him if he knew you, but he didn’t say
anything, he just ordered an IV and told me to watch your vitals. Then
he told me he got an emergency call and had to go. It was all very
strange; I didn’t think of it again until you just asked about him. And
based on your reaction right now, you do know each other,” she smiled,
pleased and relieved, that her suspicions had been correct.
Allie wasn’t going to lie, “We used to date,” she let it out, feeling
like ‘date’ was a weak word to describe what he had been to her when
things were good.
“Really?” Kathy seemed shocked.
“Yes,” Allie nodded, feeling stupid that she was still reacting this
way about a man who had moved on and married someone else.
“You seem like very different people,” Allie could see Kathy’s wheels
“We are, I suppose,” Allie sighed, “That’s probably why it didn’t last.”
“Physical opposites too,” she laughed. “When I came around the corner
and saw him scoop you up like you were a feather, and he’s this big ox
of a man…” she laughed.
Allie saw the humor in Kathy’s description and stifled a giggle too.
“He did say something about gaining a lot of weight recently,” Kathy
continued to think out loud, “He probably wasn’t so chubby when you
were dating him,” she assumed.
“He was big,” Allie blushed, “But not quite as much as he is now,” she
whispered, feeling a bit embarrassed that she was getting turned on by
saying it out loud.
“That’s probably why he took off after he got you help from us,” Kathy
surmised. “No one wants to see their ex after putting on that much
Allie found herself nodding, knowing that feeling. Sean was always a
much more confident person than she had ever been, but he had ballooned
to truly obese proportions. He was never thrilled with being
fat. Coupled with the awkwardness of running into an ex he had a thorny
history with, it only made sense that he escaped the situation.
“He’s married anyway,” Allie sighed, trying to put out the fire of
desire inside of her.
“He is then? Hmmm. He doesn’t ever talk about his wife, but someone
told me he was married. He’s kind of private, so I never asked.”
“He was always hard to get to know,” Allie agreed.
“So, if he wasn’t married, would you date him again, despite his
weight? Or would that be a deal-breaker?” Kathy asked, intrigued by
their history and obvious differences.
“No, I mean yes I would, I mean,” Allie stammered could feel her cheeks
in flames, as the question was meant nonchalantly, but hit her a little
close to the heart. She composed herself then clarified, “I would date
him again. I like the big ox type,” she admitted to the nurse with a
“Wow, that’s different,” Kathy smiled, “although you know what they say
about opposites,” she winked and then changed her tone. “He seems sort
of sad sometimes, I don’t know. Or he just doesn’t seem like a super
happy person. Some Docs are more distant that way. He’s a
hell of a physician though. Especially for his age, already, he’s
really, really good.”
“I’m not surprised, he was always really smart,” Allie knew
that. But sadness? He could be introspective, for sure, but
never morose. That’s more my talent, she thought to herself.
“He’s wonderful with kids, which helps,” Kathy added, making Allie feel
a greater tinge of jealousy, that not only was he taken, but he would
be a wonderful father to another woman’s children.
“Open it up!” Allie shoved the box in front of Ella’s face, excited for
discharge day. It had been a long road. For months, Ella had been
wearing hospital friendly clothing and slippers. Now that it was time
to go, she realized the little girl needed a fresh wardrobe start. She
took her daily walk to an adorable children’s clothing store on
Chestnut, and found the most amazingly cute yet comfortable light knit
dress, polka dot tights and fuzzy boots, all in purple, Ella’s favorite
“Yay!” Ella exclaimed, “I love you Auntie Alley Cat,” giving
her the warmest, strongest hug she’d felt in a long time. “I’m going to
miss you so much.”
“You don’t have to miss me, Ella Bella,” Allie reassured her, "I’ll be
coming out to be near you in California.”
“Will I see you every day still?” she asked sweetly.
“Most days,” Allie reasoned, “Your old Auntie still needs to get a job
and a place to live too.”
“You can stay with us as long as you need to,” Holden chimed in from
Allie smiled, smirking, “You say that now…”
“It will all be good,” he reassured her with a hand on her shoulder.
“It’s the least we can do for all you’ve done for us here,” his eyes
welled up a bit.
She hugged her brother, “I was glad to do it,” she whispered, grateful
to have family, however small it was, she realized more than ever that
she didn’t want to feel alone in the world any longer.
Regaining composure, she felt her phone buzz and glanced at a text from
Kathy to meet her at the second floor nurse’s station for their “last
lunch” date. “I’ll be back in about an hour to help get things packed
Allie headed down. “Ready?” She waltzed up to Kathy, who was gathering
things in her purse.
Kathy nodded, “Yeah, just have to run to the ladies room, wait here.”
Tracing her fingers on the desk, lost in thought about how much she
still had to pack up at the apartment over the next few days, her
thoughts were squashed by a familiar voice, “Kathy, do you know where
the PFT cart went?”
Allie snapped her head around and found herself face to face with Sean,
with a frozen panic washing over her.
His eyes showed as much shock as she felt, and he looked as
uncomfortable as she knew she was.
“Hi,” was all she could muster.
“Allie, hi,” he took a slight step back.
“It is you,” she blurted in honesty.
“Yep, me,” he withdrew in a protective tone.
“Sean,” she croaked out of her dry throat.
“How are you?” He pulled himself back together faster than she could,
which was unsurprising to her.
“I’m good,” she automatically stated without thinking. Was she good?
Ella was good, that’s what mattered. “My niece has been here,” she
needed to get her alibi straight, so that he didn’t think she was
stalking him or trying to creep into his life.
“Yes, I heard,” he nodded.
“How did you know?” She asked before she could take the question back.
Of course he knew, from the day he picked her dreadfully skinny, weak
body up off the floor, looking her worst.
“Kathy talked about it,” he saved her the reminder.
She nodded, her mind now emptied by this unexpected meeting. Her eyes
traveled downward, with a split second glance past the soft looking
mass of flab that had accumulated across his torso. She went
from empty to engulfed in flames on the inside, so close to his
considerably expanded physique. From where she stood, her
arms and fingers were probably just long enough to reach out and
squeeze a bit of that belly... a thought she tried to squirrel back
away into her brain, but it wouldn’t leave her.
Since he had delivered his engagement news to her three years earlier,
she had been picturing him as the thinner Sean in an athletic cut white
coat, triumphantly living his life as the sexy doctor all the women
wanted, and the healing hero who Janeane got to sleep with every night.
But here, now, he was the ‘morbidly obese doctor’ that he lamented he
would become, back when they were together that summer in Philadelphia.
She was well aware of the lustful feelings those memories always
stirred in her - words that had come from his own lips, ‘morbidly obese
doctor.’ At the time she had relished in the deliciousness of the
possibility, and yet she’d always felt guilt over finding so much
pleasure in it.
“I’m here on a pediatric cardiology fellowship,” Sean explained,
breaking the tension. “Visiting, I mean… I’m still officially in
residency at Johns Hopkins.”
She appreciated this piece of information. It all sounded very
distinguished, and it broke the ice allowing them to speak as friends.
“Wow, that’s great, Sean,” she smiled warmly now. “Are you happy to be
back here, close to your parents?”
“Yeah, that’s good too. Although you know, Baltimore is pretty quick by
train,” he shrugged. “It was Janeane who wanted to come back, so I
Janeane, damnit, she had to come up eventually. Allie just nodded
politely, reaching into her brain to come up with some nice small talk
to hide her disappointment. “What does she do?”
“Real estate,” Sean nodded, without elaborating.
“That’s a hot market right now,” Allie continued with pleasantries,
hating stupid, beautiful, successful Janeane even more.
Sean just nodded, changing the conversation toward Allie. “What about
you? You’re married now, right?”
Allie was dumbfounded, looking at her hand to be sure she didn’t have a
ring on it. Why would he think that?
By her reaction, he explained himself, “A couple of years ago, wasn’t
it? My mom showed me the announcement,” he seemed to lapse more into
his tough Philly cadence.
“Oh god,” Allie blurted, having almost forgotten the pretentious
engagement photoshoot with Jimmy that was featured in the Inquirer,
right before they called it off. “Yeah, I had an overzealous
wedding planner for a while there,” she shook her head with a
smirk. “One of the joys of being a Main Line Princess,” she
tried to make light of it.
“So you are married?” Sean looked confused.
“No,” Allie sighed relief, imagining how her repressed life with Jimmy
would have turned out. She knew she was periodically
miserable, but at least she was still in control of who she would
choose to sleep with for the rest of eternity. “It didn’t work out.”
“Dude in the picture reminded me of Porsche guy,” Sean half smiled,
teasing her a little bit, seeming more relaxed over the news.
“You have a good memory,” Allie’s eyes and smile widened over the irony
of the situation. Here she was explaining to Sean that she was not with
the man she had to explain she was not with once before. “It
was Porsche guy,” she admitted.
Now Sean’s eyes widened, “Really?’
“Yeah, we ended up bonding over parental death,” she explained, “In
hindsight, I know it sounds ridiculous, but…”
Sean cut her off, “I was really sorry to hear about your mom, I wanted
“I know,” Allie cut him off. She was trying so hard to seem
unflustered, reaching deep inside to talk to him calmly without
revealing her bottled-up, unrequited, desire. She really didn’t want to
get emotional about other pain and loss too.
He nodded in understanding and took the conversation backward, “I
thought you didn’t even like Porsche guy?” He smirked again, teasing
Still, she answered as honestly as she could, “I can’t explain it now,
Sean, but at the time we confused what was happening in our lives with
love, I guess.”
Sean’s eyes changed from teasing to empathy and just nodded, “Yeah.”
Another break in the conversation, and she found her attention on his
cute chubby chin, rounded out arms, and the mounds of flesh on his
chest, laying there more prominently than ever before, while his body
bloomed out into a lovely blubbery tummy that moved as he shifted his
feet. As she was considering sinking more than her fingers into all of
it, she snapped out of the thought, remembering that she was supposed
to be finding closure here. Time to move on now, Allie, she told
“So you’re niece is leaving soon, that’s good,” He smiled, moving to a
more positive topic.
“Yes!” Allie gushed, thrilled with the plans her family was making to
fly Ella back home. “She’s starting to get really sassy, too. It’s a
great sign she’s bored and wants to start Kindergarten.”
“I’m happy for your family, Allie, and you,” he gazed into her eyes,
almost regretfully, causing her heart to jump.
“Hey,” Kathy walked up into the conversation, jolting both Allie and
Sean back into the present. “Nice to see you two get reacquainted.”
Just then, his pager went off, he pushed his big coat aside to grab it
from his belt, highlighting his growth and softness in a way that made
Allie’s knees even weaker. “I gotta go,” he half smiled, “It
was good seeing you again.”
And just like that, as abruptly as the conversation had begun, he
turned and walked away, back to his job, his life, and later tonight,
she thought, up against his wife in bed.
This was closure, right? Allie thought. She didn’t know what closure
was supposed to feel like, she probably hadn’t ever experienced it. Nor
had she really followed Maia’s advice very well, talking about her
feelings, asking him about his life with Janeane... were all of those
things necessary for closure? Maybe not, maybe this short conversation
would have to be enough.
Allie peered out the window of the 737 looking down along the Inner
Bay. Life was going to go on, and in a new place now.
Holden was completing his doctorate at Cal Poly and had already been
recruited by a solar power developer, based in San Jose. He would begin
work just after Christmas. To ease the transition, and give
them a chance to re-establish their careers, Allie offered to help with
the kids while Monica traveled north for job interviews, and they
hunted for a new home.
Ella was going to start kindergarten in a new school near Redwood City,
where they found a modest but still pricey bungalow in a family
friendly neighborhood where Ella could play, ride a bike and get back
to a normal childhood. And, she could go to Lucile Packard
for her regular doctor visits, only 20 minutes down the freeway rather
than a long commute they would have dealt with from their old place in
San Luis Obispo. Everything was more expensive in Silicon
Valley, but it was a good fit for their new lives.
Allie began to make some plans herself. She had put her career, and her
whole life on hold, and it was finally time to get back to making it
her own again. She found an opportunity to work part-time for
a foundation dedicated to architectural heritage in the Bay area. It
wasn’t the glamour of doing the kind of architectural preservation work
like she had done in New York with Van’s firm, but some grant writing,
research and advocacy work could keep her brain better occupied and her
The pay was miniscule, but she was more interested in getting
re-connected to her career aspirations while allowing time to help
Holden and Monica get back into a normal family routine. She
recognized how fortunate she was to have the kind of money that allowed
her to live in an expensive place with such a meager job. She
eventually found a small, month-to-month apartment close to a Caltrain
station in Millbrae so she could get where she needed to go quickly,
whether up to San Francisco, or down to Redwood City. It was
crazy to pay any more rent than that to live in the trendier areas. She
may have been rich enough, but she had enough sense not to squander it.
Yet she felt that there was very little to attach her to Philadelphia
these days. Her father was preoccupied with his latest corporate
acquisition in Dublin, and their estate was sitting quietly, like an
empty museum, regularly attended to by housekeepers, gardeners and
security staff, but serving as a home to no one. It nagged
her conscience, but what could she do? Fill it with a family of her
own? She had money, but she didn’t have that luxury. She also knew that
staying in Philly would only drag out her Sean issues. The west coast
always had offered her a convenient distraction from thoughts of what
might have been.
"We’re getting married, Allie!” her best friend screamed loud enough
that she thought she could hear her across the Atlantic without the aid
of a phone.
“Oh, Lovely!” Allie was truly happy for Maia’s romantic
fortunes. She had been with Julien for a few years now, but a
wedding was going to make it a little more official. “I
thought marriage was gauche though,” Allie laughed, joking about the
time they explained to Allie how few young people were getting married
in the Benelux culture.
“Yes, well, I wanted to be princess for a day and Julien is humoring
me,” she laughed. Allie knew Maia was a traditional, romantic girl at
heart, it was only a matter of time.
“So what’s the plan?” Allie demanded to know, excited to have a reason
to go back over to Europe.
“I have visions of Villa Borghese,” Maia cooed.
“Rome!” Allie cheered.
“Yes, back to the scene of the crime,” Maia joked in her best American
accent. “But very small, very, very small. I don’t want my
father there anyway,” Maia had cut off any relationship with him. The
last time she saw him a couple of years before, he was miserable to her
about her weight, and the visit ended in a near fist fight between him
and Julien. Her parents had already separated mostly due to her
father’s generally difficult personality.
“When?” Allie demanded, steering clear of that painful subject.
“We’re thinking in about a year from now, next April or early May, when
the weather is nicer but not so hot. I don’t want to be a sweaty
bride. And, I’m going to need enough time to find a dress to
fit me,” Maia laughed. “It’s hard to find anything for a fat girl over
“Oh, I want to wedding plan with you,” Allie knew she was the right
friend to help Maia with all of the details, including finding a
gorgeous fat girl wedding dress. Thank goodness she wasn’t buying time
to lose weight like so many brides obsess over, like Allie had been
guilty of herself. Julien probably wouldn’t have any of that
anyway. “Come over here! Anywhere you like, I’ll
meet you and we’ll shop!”
“Well, since you mentioned it, Julien has a shipping conference in New
York in September…”
“Perfect! Except I don’t know how I’m going to wait all
summer to see you,” Allie moaned.
“Oh Mon Cherie, I miss you too, I’m so lucky to have a good friend like
you,” Maia’s voice was full of love.
The news gave Allie something new to look forward to, while she threw
herself into her work to keep her busy waiting for her autumn visit
east. She also became more involved in an outdoor adventure club
through one of her co-workers at the non-profit group.
It started with some hiking in the North Bay area, and an exhilarating
ride across the Golden Gate. Then she got more serious, taking on
mountain biking in the Point Reyes area and kayaking in Monterey. She
even took a weekend trip to Tahoe with the group, to remind herself how
to ski. It was all part of her therapy, to learn to enjoy herself and
the strength of her body, and forge casual female friendships that may
have been outside her comfort zone before. She could feel
herself healing, becoming content with the notion that her life was not
complete, but it was a work in progress, and that was okay.
Allie took a deep breath, smelling the faint yet familiar scent that
drifted in the city, moved slowly through by a southerly breeze. Philly
smells were not always pleasant, she giggled to herself, but they were
familiar and somehow comforting. She had two weeks in front of her to
reconnect with her east coast roots.
Maia wasn’t set to arrive for a few days. Allie had built extra time
into her travel plans for family, and reconnect with David, her
ex-professor. She hadn’t see him in nearly two years. David had been on
a sabbatical in Barcelona during the previous summer that she had
stayed in Philly, so the occasional email exchange and catch up was all
they had shared for quite some time. But first on her list was a trip
out to Villanova, to see her father and reconnect a bit with her
“Allie!” Her father was beaming, as she hopped out of the rental car.
She hadn’t stepped foot on the grounds for so long, but it all looked
the same, perfectly well and attended to.
“Hi Daddy,” she hugged him tightly.
“You are glowing, Allie, the Pacific Coast is doing wonders for you,”
her father noticed her healthier look.
It was true, and even though she wanted to be annoyed by any comments
over her appearance, for better or for worse, she knew that her
frequent outdoor adventures, along with regular hot yoga classes, had
given her an amazing amount of core strength that she hadn’t ever quite
achieved from just pounding miles of pavement with her running shoes.
She was eating well too, focusing on clean, simple foods and
nourishment rather than picking through prepackaged diet foods and
obsessing over the immorality of fat grams. She could see
when she looked into the mirror that her skin was clearer, her eyes
brighter and her face more at ease. She realized that it was possible,
she could be as pretty as people had always told her she was, but had
not always believed.
“I like it out there, you should come visit more. I'll take you
kayaking at Elkhorn Slough, it's incredible,” Allie gushed.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he assured her. “But right now, we need to
talk about this old gal,” he pointed behind at the mansion that hovered
over them like a majestic mountain.
“What?” Allie was confused.
“We need a plan,” he reasoned, “Assets like this should never sit
“I know,” she was worried about his ominous tone.
“We're not hemorrhaging, or anything like that, Allie, relax,” he
assured her. “The trust keeps everything pretty much in equilibrium.”
“Really?” She raised an eyebrow, wondering why he was pushing the issue
if everything was fine.
“Yes, we’ve been lucky compared to most. Your mother’s family always
had the good sense to reproduce in small numbers,” he joked, “so the
pot of money pretty much has stayed in one place.”
“So, then, what?” Allie was still afraid he was going to propose a
sale. As much as its opulence embarrassed her growing up, it was a
family legacy and a beautiful tribute to an architectural era. Her
mother, and grandmother for that matter, had been the epitome of style,
grace and beauty, just like the old mansion. It didn’t seem right
belonging to any other family.
“I’ve been getting inquiries from the state and local historical
societies,” he explained. “They’d like to borrow the place from time to
“Really?” Allie smiled, relieved it was actually good news. To share
its history and elegance with people who can appreciate it, and still
call it her mother’s home, was a marvelous compromise. “Like
weekend tours or something?”
“Yes, some of that, and perhaps private events, weddings, or
fundraisers,” he went on. “We’d work something out, so the estate
benefited, reinvesting any profits in the upkeep.” Good old Kenneth, he
was a businessman first.
Weddings, yes, I suppose, Allie thought to herself, feeling a little
weird about other happy brides getting married in her childhood home
while she remained single. But then she quickly recognized that old
self-pity and vowed to herself not to let it cloud her judgment. Why
couldn’t other girls have a fairy tale wedding too?
“Do you need anything from me to do this?” she asked.
“I want you to be in charge,” he smiled big.
"In charge?” now she was confused.
“Of course. When it comes to this place, you are the professional in
the family. You would work with the historical groups, take care of the
business end, make sure everything is up to code that needs to be for a
public serving facility,” he began to enumerate the duties. "I have a
great lawyer you’ll want to meet with first, and from there you'll fly
“So I'd need to move back to Philly then?” She wasn't sure she wanted
to leave the peace of mind she was finding out west.
“Oh heavens, no, you don’t have to do that, you can do it all from
California if you like. You just have a property manager handle the
minor daily issues, showings, arranging contractor meetings, things
“I can?” Her wheels turned.
“Of course, I do business in Budapest from Zurich and in China from
Philly,” he laughed. "Technology is a wonderful thing,” he waved his
Blackberry in her face.
“I guess I should get one of those,” she smiled, agreeing to the job.
She realized right then that she knew how to do it. She had been
developing the initiative in each class and job along the way, piecing
together what it takes to make an antique behemoth turn into something
sustainable and commercially viable in a modern world. She
began to feel excited as her mind raced through the possibilities.
“There’s something else I want to talk to you about,” he broke the
conversation in half, sending nervousness back into her mood.
“I’ve been seeing someone,” he started.
That was not what she expected to hear. Her father had been so busy
with work, and it had always just seemed like Jane was his only true
love, and that would be that. She didn’t know what to say, wrestling
between juvenile emotions connected to her mother's memory, and an
adult understanding that he deserved a life, and any happiness he could
find in it.
“I met Moira in Dublin,” he continued. “She works for a translation
service we hired putting together the CNH Tran deal. She’s a whiz with
Slavic and Germanic languages,” he seemed to almost gush about his love
interest, which made Allie squirm a little, but she tried to keep an
“She’s a nice woman, Allie, very down to earth,” her father reassured
“Then I’m happy for you, Daddy,” Allie hugged her father, forcing the
jealous, conflicted thoughts to the back seat in her mind.
“I’d like you to meet her,” he kept going, pushing for progress.
“Sure,” Allie said, not certain what she was agreeing to.
“Tonight,” he said, “We had planned on dinner together, anyway, right?”
“She’s in town here?” Allie was startled by the suddenness.
“Okay then,” Allie tried to stay chipper for his sake.
They met that evening, and Moira was, as her father had promised, a
very nice and down to earth woman. Allie couldn’t deny it, she
genuinely liked her. At first sight, Allie was already relieved. She
was a small framed woman, like her mother had been, and probably not
too much younger than her mother either. Allie had fears of a
young, money-hungry bimbo waltzing into their lives, bent on dividing
her family and tarnishing her mother's legacy.
Moira was different from her mother in some ways though. She was
certainly more talkative and comedic than her mother had been. Moira
seemed almost artistic in her ability to inject humor into the
conversation. Allie supposed her Irish culture had something to do with
it. Sean often boasted that "his people" were natural storytellers.
Sean loved being of Irish blood as much as being a Philadelphian. And
then, once again without warning, thoughts of Sean reared their way
back into her head.
Although her life had moved on in so many positive ways, and was
continuing to change rapidly, she never shook the feeling of those
awkward moments with him back at Children’s a year before. By
now he may have left to return to Baltimore. His fellowship was
probably over and he’d be back there, with his perfectly lovely wife,
and maybe even a baby on the way.
Now, even her father was even moving on from the love of his life. She
started to think that this was a sign that she had to truly move on,
and be open to someone new. Maybe soon, she would meet a big, fat,
hungry, gorgeous and brilliant hottie and have some fun, and who knows,
fall in love? Whomever he would be, he had to be the kind of man she
always fantasized about when she needed to remind herself that she was
a woman with particular needs…
“David,” she hugged her former professor, and kissed his cheek.
“You look fantastic,” he rubbed her arm. She bore the obligatory,
‘California is agreeing with you’ compliments with a smile.
“How’s the baby?” Allie couldn’t wait to ask. David had become a father
that spring with the birth of Adelaide, his beautiful new baby girl. He
had shared the occasional baby photo via their sporadic emails.
“She’s pretty much perfect,” he smiled, glowing over his paternal
status. “We don’t get any sleep, peace, or sex, but other
than that, it’s amazing.”
“No sex?” Allie teased him by ignoring all the other sacrifices.
“Well, we’re making our way back there,” he laughed. “Between the size
of her chest and the baby weight, I’m perpetually horny,” he shared.
“Wow,” Allie was taken aback by the granularity of detail.
“Sorry Allie, apparently when you become a parent, you forget your
filter. I’m probably sharing too much.”
“It’s okay, I can use just about any fat-loving story there is right
now,” she laughed.
David raised an eyebrow, “No California fatties have piqued your
Allie laughed, “Not really, I actually don’t see very many.”
“That’s because you’re hanging out with buff dudes in those biking and
hiking groups you run around with,” he joked. “You need to join a
cooking club, or cruise the comic book shops or something.”
He was partly right. She had been asked out by several guys involved in
her outdoor club; guys that made her feel nothing inside. There were a
couple of mildly chubby guys she flirted with, but no one she made any
real connection with. She had even tinkered with online relationship
websites, but couldn’t get the nerve up to actually go and meet someone
she chatted with. It's not like there was a box to check for
“gorgeously obese with quick wit and amazing brain power.” Sure they
probably existed somewhere, but it seemed like they never crossed her
Allie's thoughts of lovely fat men switched her brain to their mutual
connection. “Have you talked to Van lately?” she asked with
trepidation. She didn't know how much David really knew about their
But the smile that drew across his face made it clear he had some idea.
"He's good, in a better place now."
"What do you mean?" Allie was worried that she had left
things with him badly, it was an awkward break.
"Well, you know, better than the alienated situation with his ex-wife,"
he began, causing Allie to turn a guilty shade of pink.
"Ex?" Allie wanted more details anyway.
"Yep, they're officially over. He landed a huge deal with the City, and
when a private investor stepped in, he was able to buy her out."
"Wow," Allie nodded, unsure what to say next.
"He lost a lot of that weight you packed on him too," David added
nonchalantly, smirking. Allie felt herself turning fully red
now. "Relax, Allie," he reassured her, putting his hand on hers.
"Remember? I get it."
"He was the boss, and married. I'm still pretty ashamed of that," she
"Don't be," David told her. "That marriage was over before it even
started. And so what if he was the boss? It happens all the time...
especially in New York," he laughed.
"So was it just a coincidence that you recommended I apply at his
firm?" Allie had always wondered, given the common thread of fat
interests that connected all of them together.
"You know, at first I don't think I consciously set out to play
matchmaker, but I have to admit that my brain put you two together,
given your... mutual predilections," he admitted.
Allie couldn't be upset about that, it seemed like a human enough way
"So, he lost weight, huh?" She lamented with a guilty smile.
"Honestly, don't take this the wrong way, but I think he decided that
playing gainer was a nice experiment. Now he's gone back to his FA
"His FA roots?" Allie was greedy for more information.
"His new girlfriend is… well, not exactly small like you," he played
"Tell me!" She was more excited than jealous.
"She's a big girl," he admitted, "a web model, actually."
"Really?" Allie was nearly salivating now. "Which one?"
"How would you know who she was if I told you?" He became as intrigued
as she was.
"I might," Allie blushed again. She was interested in fat girl pictures
too, after all.
"Kylah," he chuckled. “She’s got a pretty big following on the web.”
"Wow," She shook her head. Kylah was young, beautiful and very fat; she
constantly changed her hair color, and did very artistic and bold sets
of pictures, bragging about her shocking weight gain. Allie felt
especially weird now that she knew what her ex-boyfriend's new
girlfriend looked like spilling out of super-sized lingerie.
"So you know who I'm talking about?" He smiled knowingly.
"She has an intense personality, he’s got his hands full,” David
"You've met her then?" Allie secretly wished she could meet Kylah, but
it would be incredibly awkward. What she would think of Allie? A tiny
little thing who couldn't possibly make an FA like Van happy.
He nodded, "She’s a little young for him. She doesn't challenge his
intellect the way you did, I’m sure, but they're both enjoying it."
"Well, I’m happy for him," Allie was not lying. She had never viewed
Van as a permanent thing anyhow, and she suspected the same on his
side. If anything, their tryst was an exciting time, almost,
educational, if not a little shameful in the ethical lines she crossed.
She certainly got a lot more ‘fat sex’ experience in living out a bit
of fantasy play, that was for sure.
"So dress shopping with Maia later this week?" David changed the
"Yes, I'm meeting her here for a few days, and then we're going to find
her the perfect dress in Philly."
David nodded, "My wife hated it," he shared, "she came home sobbing
each time she went out. I almost talked her into eloping instead."
"She looked beautiful though," Allie alluded to the wedding photo from
his office back at Cornell.
"Yes she did," he said, "And so will Maia."
"At least some places are a little more plus-friendly now. I called up
my old wedding planner to find out which shops would carry larger sized
designs. I have it all planned and plotted. If we run into any shitty
sales girls, I'll rip their eyes out and my planner will black ball
them," she laughed.
"I wish my wife would have had you with her back in the day," David
"Someday Maia’s going to return the favor for me," Allie winked. But
she couldn't help but wonder, deep down, if that was true. Would Allie
ever get married, or just end up perpetually single, never landing or
keeping a guy she really loves?
"Cherie!" Maia screeched from a block away at Madison Square Park. She
was arm in arm with Julien, looking beautiful, plump and radiant. They
were a classic picture of two gorgeous lovers, romantically strolling
through one of the greatest cities in the world.
Allie wasn't sure she had ever hugged another person tighter than in
that moment. Months of built up excitement had lingered in her heart,
and she couldn't be happier for her best friend.
"Mon Dieu, Allie, you look marvelous," Maia predictably told her best
"Yes, I know, California has been good to me," Allie smirked, always
tiring of the "looks" talk.
Maia seemed oblivious to Allie's sarcasm and enthused more, "You look
strong! The counseling helped, yes?"
"Yes, I suppose it did," Allie felt embarrassed and gave Julien a hug
"So good to see you, Allie," Julien smiled sweetly and kissed her cheek.
"Julien has been plotting to find a fat boy for you," Maia exclaimed,
"Hush," Allie lightly slapped her friend’s hand.
"Be proud of what you like," she grinned at both her best friend and
her fianc�. Allie was amazed at how far Maia had come from her
fat-shamed days in college. "Now let's get something to eat!"
"Yes," Julien patted his fianc�’s wide behind with a wink at Allie,
They spent the afternoon catching up, talking and laughing over tapas
and champagne. Allie was reminded what it was like to have good
friends. She had her family closer now, of course, but close friends
were always hardest to make and keep for Allie. Maia was her
treasure and Julien was now icing on the cake.
The next day, Julien had to go to his conference, so the girls set off
on their adventure to Philly by train.
Of course, almost as soon as they got alone, Maia could not resist
poking further into Allie's perpetual singlehood.
"So, why no man, yet Allie?" Maia became direct.
"Just haven’t met the right one," Allie shrugged. "Not all of us find
prince charming on our first trip to Rome," She poked Maia's soft arm
"No, this is not about me," Maia giggled, always the master at
re-direct. "I think you are still hanging onto something. I see lovely
fat men on street after street when I'm here in the States," she half
giggled. "You can get any of them, but you don't ever seem to try."
"I'm not good at hitting on boys," Allie whined.
"Oh stop it, you can do it” Maia was playfully annoyed. “I think
something else is keeping you from new love, or maybe, someone else?"
"There was closure last year, remember? I've moved on," Allie
"That's what you say, Allie, but I think you need to think more about
that." Maia could read Allie like a book. The more Maia prodded, the
more Allie admitted to herself that Sean lingered in her life like a
ghost. A memory that was meant to move on, but never quite gone.
Fortunately, dress shopping turned attentions back on Maia, for which
Allie was selfishly grateful. Enough about me, Allie thought, this week
is about Maia.
It took a few shops, just one rude sales girl, only a few tears, mostly
in joy, and Maia had her dress. Size 28 was not easy. Some plus
designers still stopped at 24. Fortunately Maia's hourglass shape was
accommodated beautifully by a strapless, ivory princess line gown in
taffeta, with stunningly detailed embroidered lace and crystal beading.
"Julien's going to have to stop buying me chocolates for a few months,"
Maia exhaled, smoothing down the dress from her curves, obviously happy
with her new dress.
"He'll get over it," Allie laughed.
"For three grand, he’d better get over it!" Maia joked about the price
of the dress.
After finding the dress, Allie and Maia enjoyed a couple of more days
back in New York, with Julien joining them in between conference
activities, before it was time for them to fly home. After a
tearful goodbye, Allie took another few days in Philly to begin some
preliminary work on the estate plan and evaluate what needed a closer
look to get it ready for its next phase.
She made plans with her father to join her, and get introduced to his
real estate lawyer.
"Allie, there's one more piece of business I want to talk about," her
father started, while his lawyer took some papers out of his briefcase.
"I want to discuss handing over the keys to you."
"What do you mean?" Once again, Allie was confused.
"This should be your place now," He continued, placing some papers in
front of Allie.
"This document would transfer title over to you and Holden as joint
owners," the lawyer explained.
"What?" Allie was dumfounded.
"Allie, I want to marry Moira," he nearly whispered, uncertain of his
"What?" Allie was louder, again, trying to temper her shock and
understand her father had a new life to make.
"I don't want things muddled by a new marriage," Kenneth explained.
"Your mother's birthright needs to be clearly passed on to you and
"Wow," Allie was speechless.
"I know this is a lot to consume," he put his hand on hers, "but it
protects you both, and honors your mother's memory."
Allie sat quietly, thoughts racing. Then she spoke, "What will Holden
"I've already spoken with him, and he understands," he answered. "He
likes the ideas we’ve talked about, using the estate as a place of
historic interest. He doesn't have any designs on
liquidating, Allie, he just wants you to be happy."
"Really?” Allie was surprised he was already in this loop.
"Holden loves you so much, Allie, as I do," he became choked up. "I'm
very proud of the people you've become, and your mother would be too,"
a tear fell from his eye, causing Allie to drop some tears as well. "I
didn't want to make you cry," her father chuckled through his own mist,
wiping a tear from Allie's cheek.
"So you're marrying Moira?" Allie wiped her own eyes.
"If she accepts,” he sighed with a weak smile. "I know it's sudden to
you, Allie, but I've known her for a couple of years, it's not
something out of the blue.”
"You have always had good judgment Daddy, you don't have to explain to
me,” Allie had been growing more accepting of all the changes. “And I
do like her.”
Kenneth smiled softly. “Let’s put this away for now, but we'll get
together with Holden and finalize things before the end of the year. I
want a clean legal break with this property and the trust before any
marriage plans begin. It's important that you and Holden understand how
all of this works, especially with the tax implications. I know it
seems like a business deal, but it’s the most logical way to keep your
future legally secure,” her father assured her.
"Oh Daddy, I love that you can be logical and emotional at the same
time," Allie laughed.
"Now let's take a look at the place and run down what we need to do to
get her ready for a public debut," he took her hand and led her through
the mansion, with their lawyer in tow to help advise and make
recommendations. Most things were obvious, permits, a
thorough electrical review, plumbing systems, water and mold testing,
insurance factors, tax implications... all of the things she’d looked
at in past projects she’d been part of. But for preservation, the
authentic beauty of the home was in its foundation: the masonry.
"Hi Pam, this is Allie Turner," she began, her heart pounding. She
hadn't seen nor talked to Pam Casey since her mother's funeral more
than three years ago.
"Oh, Allie!" Pam sounded elated to hear her son's old girlfriend's
voice. "How wonderful to hear from you!"
"I know, it's been, some time," Allie stumbled through her words, but
Pam seemed as open as ever to hearing from her.
"Yes, too long, dear. What's new in your life?" Pam asked.
"Well, since you asked," Allie found her opening, "I'm working on a
plan to use our home in Villanova as an event venue and historic site.
We're also going through the process to get listed on the National
Register of historic places," She added. "We need to have all the
stonework reviewed for safety, and of course be true to its history.”
“Oh my, Allie, that is a big deal,” Pam was naturally enthusiastic.
"Of course your husband's work is the best,” Allie flattered a bit.
"We'd love to help you Allie," Pam gushed. "How exciting for your
family. Are you still in New York?" She queried the girl.
"No, I'm actually in California, but I have a property manager in
Philly to be there and meet with Ray," Allie felt weird referring to
Sean's parents by their first names, but she wasn't their son's
girlfriend anymore, she was their customer.
"Oh," Pam seemed disappointed by the news that Allie was so far away.
"Well Ray is pretty consumed with the Memorial Hall project, but he'll
have one of his guys come out."
"When can someone come out?" Allie was concerned by this, she wanted
someone really knowledgeable about preservation on it.
"It’s tight right now, but I think we can get someone out there in a
couple of weeks," Pam reasoned.
They set the mid-October date and Allie hung up, left feeling
conflicted about the plan.
The more Allie thought about the work, and the importance of masonry to
preservation, she decided she would fly out and personally oversee the
review and work plan. If she knew Ray was personally handling it, she
could trust things to happen correctly. But she couldn't imagine
leaving it to some apprentice that didn't appreciate how critical the
details were to maintaining its historical integrity. As good as her
property manager was with logistics, she didn't know limestone from
granite. Allie booked a flight back east, ensuring she'd
oversee any critical preservation nuances.
Back at home, walking through the hallways, she observed all the little
things that reminded her of her childhood... the walnut paneling
impressed with gold leaf, the stained glass skylight, and the trove of
landscape paintings by Hudson River School and Luminist artists that
thrived in New England during the 19th century. They had so beautifully
captured the lush hillsides, virgin waterways and rough, exposed
Atlantic beaches, yet undeveloped by a modern world.
She let herself glide across the Chenonceau parquet ballroom floor,
kneeling down and touching the oak and walnut, blended in a from trees
that lived centuries before they were claimed by the barons in her
ancestral line. She felt a chill from the floor as she traced the woven
geometrical pattern she had traced as a little girl.
The buzz from the gate pulled her back into the 21st century. Opening
the sunroom door to the veranda, she felt the cool, autumn air and
threw on a new belted tweed jacket she picked up on the way up from the
airport. Fall in the bay area was so mild, she hadn't expected the
crisp air to hit her like it did. The sun was shining through the trees
with red, yellow and brown leaves falling rapidly around her. She
missed this time of year at her home, not having spent an autumn in
Villanova in several years.
The scent of the leaves continued to take her back to a younger place
in her mind. The wind grabbed her dark auburn hair and blew
it hard in her face. She walked around the flagstone path toward the
driveway, watching a truck pull up, just like she used to see Sean come
to work. Seven years ago now, Allie shocked herself by the thought.
In her daze of thinking of what couldn't possibly have happened that
long ago, she stopped cold in her tracks. Time had passed, had the boy
had become a man? She watched, not yet seen, as the large figure
grabbed a bag from the cab and strolled up to admire the flagstone work
that he recognized as his own.
"Sean," Allie whispered, frozen in shock. He hadn't seen her yet. Could
she run back into the house and hide? Pretend to have mixed up the
meeting time? No, that was the old, foolish Allie thinking. She was not
going to run from sight at her own home. This was something she would
handle like a woman of the world. Grow up, Allie, she told herself,
thrusting her hands in her coat pockets and walking forward.
His face froze as his eyes landed on hers. In those moments walking up
to him on the wooded side of the garage, leaves endlessly falling
around her, she appraised his long, wide frame, in jeans and a hooded
sweatshirt. Not quite his doctor's tie and white coat, but still about
as perfectly fat as he had been the year before, when she mindlessly
chatted with him at Children's Hospital.
"Hi," she softly spoke with a smile, reaching inside herself to share
some brave warmth, and stave off the discomfort that loomed over them
in the two meetings they’d had since the awful day he left her for
"I didn't expect to see you here," he just blurted honestly, "Pam said
a property manager was handling this."
"I didn't expect you either," Allie assured him, "I came because I
wasn’t sure I'd get someone who really knew preservation."
Sean raised an offended eyebrow.
"Your mom said it wouldn't be Ray, and you're a doctor now… I never
thought in a million years that a man with the talent to heal little
hearts would be checking our stone," Allie reasoned, which softened his
"My mom sometimes asks me to look at old jobs I was part of," he
smirked. "But I wouldn't be surprised if she sent me here
"What do you mean? Pam thought I wouldn't be here," Allie shook her
"Pam told me that she heard from the property manager and that another
person would be here," Sean explained.
"Oh," Allie pieced it together. Pam knew they'd see each other and did
nothing to stop it. Which was a little weird, since her son was married
to another woman.
“Are you still at Children’s?” Allie wondered.
“Yeah, actually,” his face brightened a bit, “They extended me another
“I always knew you were right for that place,” Allie pushed passive
aggressively into a topic that triggered the end of their relationship.
Sean didn’t say anything.
"Well, we might as well do this," Allie was going to make the best of
it. At least Sean was the best man she knew in the world to make sure
every piece of stone was exactly right. It certainly meant she'd have
to grit her teeth the whole time, avoiding too much admiration of his
sexy body contours, and not getting sucked into his lovely face and
intense, brooding eyes.
He shrugged his shoulders with a half-smile and sauntered along the
walkway, studying each piece and taking notes. She observed the shift
of his love handles and movement of his wider behind in the moments he
was preoccupied with the work. She felt guilty about it too. Shouldn't
she have been long past this kind of adolescent leering? Grow up, she
allowed the mantra to play in her head, GROW UP ALLIE!
"The flagstone is looking good," he murmured, almost seeming proud of
himself. He waltzed up to the path along the library wing, walking up
to study the mortar joints, and making notes. She watched him graze his
chubby fingers along the granite exterior, reminding her of the way his
fingers felt inside her before plunging his girth into her; while the
moonlight that cast through the windows at her old apartment in the
city, highlighting his plush bulk and burgeoning fat rolls. Stop it,
Allie, the voice continued to echo across her head.
Then she followed him to the pool, which was now drained low and
covered, but the stonework was left open to be inspected. Sean walked
closely around Aphrodite and smiled at little Eros. "They look good
too," he commented with a half-smile.
"We've done a better job protecting them," Allie smiled back,
remembering his concern for their condition.
He nodded, walking around to Apollo, grazing his hands along Daphne,
Allie's smile widened, "You remember."
"Of course," he studied the statue, without looking at Allie. Then he
paused, took a deep breath, and fixed his eyes toward hers. "You’re a
Daphne, Allie, it makes perfect sense."
Allie stood in shocked silence, perplexed. "What do you mean?" She
couldn't understand this. Why would he say that?
"Daphne is the evergreen, she stands the test of time. That’s you,
Allie, you don't change your colors, you are always who you are," he
almost sounded remorseful.
Allie was dumbfounded by these words from Sean, considering her
greatest infraction in their relationship was a moral failing on her
part. But she couldn't relive that past, she could only see Apollo
grabbing Daphne, coveting her as she begins her transformation into a
Laurel tree. She grew uncomfortable, knowing how conversations with
Sean end up in defeat and desolation. Survival now meant not letting
him into her head.
"I could accuse you of some Apollo-ness," she quickly thought of his
talents, attempting to lighten the conversation, "God of knowledge and
He was quiet for a moment, and then thoughtfully responded, "I’m no
Apollo, Allie. I gave up on you before Apollo gave up on Daphne."
She stood in still shock. Sean had never been the overly introspective
type, generally avoiding regret and emotion. He had always been too
tough, too self-protective for that. Why now? Why put me
through this now?
"Sorry," he stopped himself, clearly sensing her discomfort. "That was
a weird thing to say, I guess."
"No, it’s okay," Allie felt some resentments lift from weighing down
her heart. His words told her she wasn't crazy, he had been foolish.
Even though he found happiness with someone else, he had now admitted
that at one time in his life, he made the mistake that broke her heart.
“I suppose it’s pretty lame to say sorry this many years later,” he
continued, “I was young and dumb, and I overreacted.”
“I don’t know if an apology is necessary at this point,” she couldn’t
feel her toes, or fingers anymore. Her mind was in a surreal place. “It
wasn’t any one thing. It took me some time to realize I just wasn’t
going to be your soul mate, or whatever. You would never see me as
someone you could truly connect with or relate to…”
“Was that how you felt?” He raised an eyebrow.
“No, I never felt that way, I never felt attached to where I was from,
or the money, or the status,” Allie’s eyes welled up, saying what she
had wanted to say before he left her, so many years ago. “I just loved
you,” more tears fell. “But you saw our differences, very
clearly. It took me a long time to see us through your eyes.”
Sean looked down and shook his head, “Yeah,” he started, his voice
Allie felt sick with multiple emotions. Anger, resentment and relief
were fighting an epic battle inside of her stomach.
He kept his eyes down, and they were both silent for several seconds.
Then Sean turned away and walked as quickly as his big body would allow
him, lumbering toward his toolbox, not saying anything. He began
packing up the truck.
Allie couldn’t stop herself from running after him, catching up to him
at the truck. “Sean,” was all she could say though, she had no other
He looked into her eyes with pain and sadness, like she had never
expected to see. And then he closed his eyes, straightened his posture,
and became cool. “I’ll make sure you get an estimate in a few days.
I’ll tell Pam to put the best guy on it.”
And before she could say another word, he heaved himself into the truck
and drove off, leaving Allie in an absolute puddle of ache. She turned
and ran in the house, collapsing on the parquet floor, sobbing
uncontrollably, releasing the last grief left in her body. This had to
be the end of mourning for what might have been. If not now, Allie
realized, she would never be free. She was determined to make
sure it was finished. She never wanted to feel like that
again; like she was stuck. Never again.
She had things to look forward to... a business plan to execute, the
new life she was making in California, and an amazing trip back to Rome
the next spring to plan for; to see her precious Maia get married.
There was so much to do, and so much to think about that didn’t involve
Sean. While boarding her flight back to San Jose, she resolved to work
harder at finding someone who would be deserving of her love. With
those words Sean spoke, his regret was her closure. She could finally
be free of the emotional turmoil Sean had left behind, far too many
“Cherie!” Allie hugged her best friend. Maia had bestowed that pet name
on her nearly ten years before at Cornell. After a tough mid-term exam,
they agreed that happy hour at the Nines on College was a well-deserved
indulgence. She remembered how nervous she was, wanting so much to make
a good impression on this lovely and amazing French Canadian
firecracker who made Allie laugh, and feel valued, not judged.
Allie had rarely known deep friendships in her youth. It always seemed
like other girls at her prep school and sorority easily forged them,
but opening herself up like that was never easy. With Maia, though,
there was such warmth and acceptance, even from the first days they
shared jokes about the pleasure and pain of desk crits with Dr. Porter.
She felt that powerful, loving connection in their embrace now, perhaps
stronger than ever.
“Oh you are stunning,” Allie wiped tears of joy from Maia’s exquisite
face, gushing, “Such a beautiful bride to be.”
Maia was radiant. “We’re in Rome, it has that effect on everyone,” Maia
laughed, wiping Allie’s tears as well.
“Can you believe we’re back here together?” Allie exclaimed.
“And that I’m getting married?” Maia exclaimed louder.
“I always knew it would happen,” Allie winked at her friend. “When
Julien kept showing up at Capanna Caff�, checking you out and finding
an excuse to talk to you.” Allie remembered the coffee shop near
Palazzo Lazzaroni that the girls spent many afternoons drinking
espressos and munching on pizzelles, or sharing a torta caprese.
“It took me so long to figure it out!” Maia laughed more.
“I knew right away,” Allie remembered the look in Julian’s eyes when
Maia would enjoy a bite of Italian pastry, or when his gaze roamed
across her voluptuous body. But it was more than physical in the way
they balanced each other’s personalities. Julien’s reserve and
self-possession contrasted Maia’s natural, passionate charisma. “I
watched him fall for your joie de vivre,” Allie caressed her friend’s
arm in reassurance.
“Maybe, but he fell for my fat ass first,” Maia giggled.
“No, your beauty first,” Julien had come around the corner of the hotel
lobby, planting a large kiss on his future wife’s lips, nonchalantly
rubbing her behind. “How could I not have?”
“So, my fat ass second,” Maia smiled as widely as Allie had ever seen
“Your ass is never second,” Julien continued to fawn over Maia. “My
apologies, Allie,” Julien stopped his groping and gave Allie a warm hug
and kiss on the cheek.
“I’m not sure if I’ve ever been happier for any two people in my whole
life,” Allie took both of their hands.
“You are going to meet a tall, dark and handsome man here, I know it,”
Maia cooed. She was never one to miss a chance at turning the subject
of romance to Allie’s love life, or lack thereof.
“Don’t forget ‘big,’” Julien chimed in, adding to the descriptive list
Allie blushed, “Such good friends,” she relented, knowing how lucky she
was that she could be herself with Maia and the man her best friend was
about to marry.
Allie had been working hard at proving to Maia, and perhaps, to
herself, that she was open to new relationships. She had been reporting
back to her best friend regularly about her attempts. Through the last
winter, she had been on dates with about fifteen different guys, but
none had been quite the one. Some were remarkably handsome, some with
an entertaining personality or a thriving career, and a couple were
even a bit chubby. Yet none had the whole package she needed to fill
that retreating hole in her heart.
Maia would encourage Allie to keep trying. Sometimes a second date was
needed, she would urge, but Allie couldn’t force her feelings. She had
learned a long time ago with Jimmy that she could not compromise to
find happiness. She tried relentlessly though, constantly ready for the
next date that might pop up, with fresh manicures, pedicures, and leg
waxings. She had even gone out and bought a fresh wardrobe of stylish,
well-fitting fashion, and got rid of her older, body-hiding boho
silhouettes, bland pastels and dated florals. An active dating life was
like having another job, but she was determined that she needed to work
hard at it so she could exorcise the old ghosts of relationships past.
“You are so picky,” Maia scolded Allie during one of their long
distance wedding planning sessions that had become an almost daily
ritual since the two girls discovered Skype. “You have been going out
with all of these hot, successful Silicon Valley guys, and still
“Maia, I’m 28 now,” she would plead her case.
“Yes, a young and fabulous 28,” Maia would tease. “What… do you think
you’re running out of time? How do you say? One leg in the grave?”
“It’s one foot,” Allie laughed. “I mean, I know what I want,” she would
defend her case. “I know my criteria is pretty specific, but that
happens as you get older. You know what you must have in a partner to
“Oui, Allie, I know you know yourself all too well,” Maia acquiesced.
“You must follow your heart.”
“And my head,” Allie added, making the case for her balanced, reasoned
“Cherie,” Maia would laugh at Allie, “If you know me by now, you’d know
I don’t go for logical approaches to love!”
Allie smiled to herself, thinking about that conversation. She was less
than two days from witnessing Maia’s wedding to a man who was from a
different culture and spoke a different language. He looked her
complete opposite as well, with his tall, blonde, Nordic features,
lanky body and handsome, angular face. Maia was truly a girl who
followed her heart to happiness, and it had worked like a charm.
“We need to get ready for the welcome dinner,” Maia reminded her
friend. “But you have a couple of hours to rest and freshen
up. It’s casual, no need to fuss, you are beautiful in this,” she
tugged on Allie’s coral midi sundress.
She was exhausted from the travel. As much as she wanted to reconnect
with Rome, she was hoping to take a break, eat a light dinner and go to
bed early. It was nice to meet Julien’s family and their Benelux
friends; and to see Maia’s mom again as well, but she cut the evening
short so she would be ready for the next morning’s walking venture
across Rome. Her head falling to the pillow, her mind easily drifted
into reminiscing about the stress-free days she spent there studying
and daydreaming about a boy she loved but barely knew… when life was
Allie woke up early, found a caf� nearby for a quick espresso and
crostata, and then began her journey. Her excursion took her through
all of the architectural sites she had missed and yet so adored. She
cherished those fine details of classical antiquity that Trumbauer had
stolen for his own designs, incorporating them into the mansion that
she grew up in. After spending some time meandering the streets near
her old lodgings at the Palazzo Lazzaroni, she strolled up through
Campidoglio, studying Marcus Aurelius’ beautiful, stern face. With his
arm stretched out, he seemed to command the first tourists of the day
to yield to his authority. Satisfied with his timeless performance, she
wandered down through the Piazza Venezia, getting lost in all of the
structural wonders she remembered examining so intently with younger
She then realized how close she was to the Trevi, but wasn’t sure she
wanted to see it just now. She was not a superstitious person, but
those damn coins she had thrown in were a sad reminder of her youthful
hopes and wishes that had been stomped down by real life. She
instinctively cut her path short, redirecting her walk to Palazzo
Barberini, where she spent at least an hour in the National Gallery of
Ancient Art, fawning over Caravaggio, Titian and Holbein’s plump Henry
VIII. Her feet almost burning from the miles and hills, she finally
found her way back to the hotel for a much needed shower and nap.
She woke to Maia pounding on her door, “Are you ready, Cherie?”
Allie had succumbed to jetlag and had overslept. She opened the door,
bleary eyed, “I just need a few minutes, Maia.”
Maia laughed, “You need to work through your jetlag Allie. No sleeping
through my wedding tomorrow!” Allie loved Maia’s sweet but
firm focus. “Take the time you need, just come meet us at the Mirabella
as soon you are ready.”
Allie pulled herself together, and slipped into the dress she had
splurged on at a swanky couture shop in the Pacific Heights area of San
Francisco. It was a tasteful but sexy retro A-line number with pagoda
sleeves and a micro short length. The close fitting bodice was
embroidered in a delicate black-and-white checkered design, with a
sheer neckline from her modest cleavage to her neck. It paired well
with her black strappy wedge sandals and onyx and pearl dangle earrings.
The rehearsal dinner was held at Mirabella restaurant, which had huge
glass doors that opened out onto a panoramic view of palaces, museums
and in the distance, a gorgeous view of Saint Peter's and the
Gianicolo. As dinner was winding down, Allie walked out onto the
terrace for the last of the sunset. There she overheard Maia standing
on the other end, talking on her phone. She could only hear pieces
though, “We’re so glad you’re here,” with a reassuring tone and
warmness. Then faintly, she heard, “don’t worry.” There was some
silence, then Maia started to talk more, but just as Allie eavesdropped
on the next words, she was interrupted.
“So, Allie,” one of Julien’s friends walked up to make conversation,
“Tell me about what you do in San Francisco.” Allie’s core personality
could not be anything but polite, so she carried on a friendly
conversation, all while anxious to hear what Maia was talking about,
and to whom? Everyone in Maia’s life was here at the restaurant, so why
would she bother with a private phone conversation at her own rehearsal
dinner? She considered the possibility of Maia’s father coming, but it
was never mentioned that they had patched things up.
“Maia,” Allie asked a little while later, catching her on the way out
of the restaurant. “Who were you talking to on the phone?”
“Oh,” Maia seemed confused for a moment and then explained, “A friend
of ours missed his flight this morning, so he was letting us know he
had finally made it here, that’s all.”
“Ah,” Allie felt stupid for being so probing in her tone. “Is he
single?” she then joked.
“As a matter of fact, he is,” her face lit up. “And handsome too,” she
Allie laughed, relieved that the news was good. At least she could
practice a little flirting while she was in this very romantic city.
The morning of the wedding, Allie went up to Maia’s suite so the girls
could get their hair and makeup done together. Maia had chosen a
sophisticated chignon updo style, secured by an elegant hairpiece with
a crystal and leaf design to accent the gathering of her chestnut
curls, and play up the gorgeous beading on her dress. Allie
was in awe of her makeup, which was intense with dark, rich violet
tones. If anyone could pull off dramatic color, it was Maia. Her dress
fit like a glove, curving around her full silhouette, showing off her
sexy decolletage and smooth, soft, mocha arms.
As always, Allie was a bit of a contrast from Maia. She opted for soft
makeup with apricot tones, a half-up hair style with loose waves down
past her shoulders, and a chiffon, tea length, retro inspired halter
dress in cobalt blue, which Allie had to admit to herself, was an
eye-catching shade against her auburn hair and alabaster skin.
The girls giggled in the mirror, admiring each other, when Maia’s
mother knocked on the door.
“My baby girl,” Maia’s mom cried and hugged her daughter, “And her
wonderful Querida,” she hugged Allie. “You two will make even the most
beautiful Italian girls jealous today!”
Maia beamed and Allie nodded in thanks. Maia’s mom was a natural beauty
like her daughter, albeit smaller, and with a few more wrinkles, but
aging very gracefully for a woman who was well into her 50-something
“Oh Allie! I just remembered, I need you to do me a big, bridesmaid
favor, before the wedding,” Maia pleaded.
Allie checked the time. “Sure, we have a couple of hours before you
walk down the aisle, what do you need?”
Maia dug into her purse, pulled out three Euro coins and told Allie, “I
need you to take a walk over to the Trevi and throw these in for me.”
“What?” Allie was dumbfounded and shocked, both by the randomness of
Maia’s request and the reminder of her failed experiment nearly eight
years ago, something she had already tried to avoid the morning before.
“I haven’t been able to get over there, so you have to do it for me.
It’s your maid of honor duty,” Maia commanded her.
“Okay,” Allie shrugged. She had to do what she had to do, she certainly
wasn’t going to argue with a bride on her wedding day. “I
will see you at the steps of the Valadier,” Allie kissed her best
Maia walked Allie to the door, placed her hands on Allie’s shoulders
and with very intense eye contact, spoke soberly. "Allie, you deserve
nothing less than happiness with a boy you can truly love, don't give
up on that dream." Maia was serious and clear in a way that kind of
startled Allie. It was rare that she stepped outside of her
lighthearted nature and spoke with that kind of gravity. Allie walked
out into the streets of Rome feeling strengthened by Maia's
affirmation. Patience, not pressure, would bring her the love of her
It was only a ten minute walk, so even in her heels, it would be a
quick errand. She certainly couldn’t shrug her duty, so off she went
down Via Francesco Crispi, turning onto Via del Tritone, and through
Via della Stamperia. Trying hard to not think about it, but failing, a
lump formed in her throat. Walking closer, feelings of anxiousness
bubbled up in the idea of confronting what she wanted to avoid… the
reminder of how hopeful she had once been, and how easy life had
seemed. There had once been the promise of new love waiting at home;
her mother was still in her life, and everything was moving in the
right direction; until it wasn’t.
She was about to step over an emotional cliff when her thoughts were
interrupted by a college-aged girl walking past her, wearing a Cornell
t-shirt and tattered denim shorts. Despite her casual, slack clothes,
she had a regal prettiness. But her beauty was diminished by her vacant
face and extremely thin body. Allie could see her younger self in that
starved sadness. Maybe her life hadn’t been so perfect back then, even
while she was with Sean. She had been a borderline anorexic who had
harmed herself emotionally with persistent self-doubt, and then
physically with chronic hunger and bone-stressing amounts of pounding
exercise. It wasn’t until after years of heartbreak, loss and anxiety
that she began to find the strength to change how she treated herself.
Allie now realized more than ever what she had been working toward in
therapy; that life was not really so much easier back then, and so much
harder now. Life was just, well, life. The Trevi, in all its beauty and
glory, was simply another lovely thing to enjoy in the world, and
should not hold the power to torment her. Her steps became more
self-assured as she came upon it amidst congregating tourists. She was
now smiling at the theatrical Baroque magnificence in its travertine
fa�ade, with centuries-old, muscle-bound marble gods alongside their
wild horses, one calm, one wild; and Neptune towering over them in his
Allie was truly relieved to admire it. No baggage will ever keep me
from my favorite works of art, or keep me from delivering a promise to
my best friend, she thought. Old disappointments melted away from her
mind as she turned and tossed the first coin in, Maia’s Canadian
quarter. She wished intently for her friend to make yet another trip
back to Rome. At least Allie’s first wish on that old Lira had come
true. She had returned to Rome herself, with its magnificence intact,
all around her.
Then she threw in the second coin, a bright gold 10 cent Euro, for
Maia’s love to remain strong. She wished for both the romantic love
Maia had with Julien, as well as the lasting friendship she shared with
her best friend. Thinking back again, her own Pennsylvania state
quarter had been tossed in with hopes that Sean’s affections would
remain intact upon her return from Rome. That wish had also come true,
at least for a while, anyway.
She held the third, duo-toned Euro coin in her hand, feeling it
intently for Maia. Allie had never thrown back a third coin for
herself. The idea of marriage was so remote in those days, she couldn’t
have even imagined it at the time, much less wished for it as well. Now
she was an hour away from witnessing her best friend’s marriage,
feeling wistful for what it would be like to be with someone so fully
and completely that she would agree to spend the rest of her life with
him, and maybe even have children together; someone to see all of her
faults and love her anyway.
Allie turned back to the mythical scene, her eyes darting back and
forth between those two horses, recalling it’s allegory of the sea. It
was indeed so much like life, sometimes easy, and sometimes difficult,
even dangerous, but always alive. And, right now, she felt reassured
that she was in calm waters, and lucky to have a genuine friendship
bring her back to Rome. She turned her back again, wished earnestly for
her best friend’s long life together with Julien, closed her eyes and
tossed it over her shoulder into the water. She heard the plop, opened
her eyes, turned around and watched the ripples fade away from where
the coin had landed.
A sudden breeze picked up, and the ends of her hair tickled her open
shoulders. She looked down at her dress, remembering that important
duties awaited. She turned on her heels and shimmied through the
growing tourist crowd milling around behind her.
Trying to find a way through, she slipped through a few bodies but then
was stopped by a large body completely blocking her movement. All she
saw for a split moment, was a big, soft belly encased in a crisp white
shirt, with a blue and black tartan tie draped down over it.
Captivated, she scanned her eyes upward while getting back her balance.
The sun shone behind the man, making his face difficult to decipher at
first. She squinted more and focused on a pair of familiar blue eyes
looking back into her own, set in his thoroughly handsome face,
accompanied by a smirky smile.
“Hi Allie,” Sean breathed deeply, with an apprehensive look on his face.
Allie blinked, not able to utter a sound, much less form any words. Was
she imagining this? Had all that clarity she had just experienced
moments ago, actually turned her crazy?
His awkward expression grew worried, “Are you okay?”
“Um, uh…” she took a step back, checking his face, taking in his
marvelously big body, packed nicely in a crisp looking dark suit,
accented by that trendy tartan tie. She didn’t know what to say, and
the dumbstruck look on her face wouldn’t subside.
“Should I not have…?” His face became paler.
“I’m… I don’t… I can’t believe you’re here,” she finally managed to
say. There was a flurry of excitement and chaos welling inside her, but
bewilderment wouldn’t be shaken so easily.
“Neither can I,” he managed, looking uneasy, rubbing his hand through
his short, silky black hair.
“How did you…?” she tried to match her confusion with her words.
“Airplane?” He offered sheepishly.
She finally smiled, took a deep breath, “I mean, how did you know?”
“Just a crazy coincidence,” he shrugged, still trying some humor to
settle her shock.
But her butterflies were now flying wildly and her heart pounded like a
bass drum. Still, she knew this was no coincidence. Was this
Maia’s doing? Her wheels turned, but very slowly, like they were stuck
in a pool full of mud.
“You don’t want to be late for the wedding,” he pointed in the
direction of Villa Borghese.
“Oh, God, yes,” she snapped back to reality. They started to walk
quickly in that direction together, as she began to think through what
had just happened. “Were you invited to Maia’s wedding?”
“I was,” he answered confidently with a playful smile.
“Funny, I’ve been helping the bride plan for months, and she never
mentioned an invitation for you,” Allie nudged him.
“Funny indeed,” he nodded and continued to smile, looking ahead,
allowing her a chance to admire him from the side. His soft, sweet
face, and the jiggle of his billowing belly were as sexy as ever. She
couldn’t tell if he was a bit bigger or still the same weight as when
she last saw him last fall… but that didn’t matter, he looked perfect
and beautiful, just as always.
But what about his wife? And the vows he took that forced her to accept
it was really and truly over. “You didn’t bring Janeane?” Allie
blurted, defending herself against rejection… or another embarrassing
entanglement with a married man.
“No,” he stopped cold and looked at her with confusion. “You don’t
“Know what?” What?!? She screamed out inside of herself.
“We split up, about a year ago, now,” he stated simply, as if she
should have known it.
Allie felt air leave her chest with a massive force. This news hit her
like a ton of bricks. All that time lost! Those days, and weeks and
months…she had assumed Sean was a happily married man. She could have
plead her case to him that they belonged together, instead of trying in
vain to find love elsewhere. She covered her mouth to keep any more
emotion from escaping.
“Are you okay?” He put his hand on her shoulder. She flinched feeling
the sting from his touch, like water pouring down a parched throat.
She saw the hurt in his face from her non-verbal retreat, and reassured
him, “I am… just… shocked. I didn’t know.”
“I didn’t broadcast it. I mean I wasn’t proud of it…” he started to
“Proud?” She felt angry. She knew her anger was irrational and tried to
quell it, but it was there. Pride only wastes precious time; there’s no
purpose for it.
“Yeah, Allie, a failing marriage didn’t exactly make me feel proud,” he
explained with some impatience.
“But, I could have,” she started to say, and then stopped.
“Could have what, Allie,” he grew sarcastic in his tone, “Felt sorry
“Sorry for you?” She raised her voice.
“Look at me, Allie,” he implored her.
“I am,” she looked into his gorgeous, pained eyes, and saw that same
charming face she fell in love with way too easily.
“I was a disappointment to my wife,” he lowered his voice.
“What?” Allie didn’t understand.
“She married a fit, decent looking guy, and ended up with a fat whale,”
he berated himself.
“Stop it, Sean,” Allie hated hearing him denigrate himself and his
“No, Allie, it’s true. You never wanted to say anything about my
weight. You just pretended not to notice. You’ve always looked me up
and down and then said nothing,” he pushed her uncomfortably into her
“I never needed to...” she tried to diffuse this old line of
“Janeane ended our marriage over it, and you can’t even say a single
word about it,” he was incredulous.
“She what?” Allie was stunned.
Sean sighed, “It was inevitable, Allie. I’d known her a long time,
there was a pattern with her.”
“Then she knew you wouldn’t ever be…” Allie tried to find the words.
Sean cut her off, “A hard body?” He sneered. “I tried.”
“But you’re just naturally… thick,” Allie reasoned politely.
“Janeane was the girl in the neighborhood all the guys wanted,” Sean
began to explain, but his exculpatory words couldn’t help but make
Allie feel jealous. “She never looked at me when we were kids. I was
the chubby nerd on the block, and she hung around the cool, tough guys.
Then in high school I went out for football, lost some weight, grew a
lot taller, and she started to pay attention to me.”
Allie could relate to that feeling all too well, like when Jimmy took
notice of her at the club. It was nice to get the attention, even
though he wasn’t right for her.
“It didn’t matter that she was kind of selfish and self-centered, and
flirted with other guys,” he explained, “it felt good to be good enough
for her. I was a dumb kid.”
“You weren’t dumb, you were normal,” Allie sighed in understanding.
“My mom hated her,” he continued. “My grades dropped, I was staying out
late with her, trying to prove I was cool and in control of things, but
I wasn’t. Then I found out she had cheated on me with a guy I thought
was my friend, and that was finally enough for me to end it.”
“You never told me any of this while we were together,” Allie was
trying to put together his dysfunctional high school fling with his bad
“There was some on-again, off-again stuff, after we had broken up,” he
kept going. “She always liked that I was in college, going to med
school, and making something of myself. She wanted to get out of the
neighborhood, she made no secret of that.”
How very different this woman was from Allie, she realized. She was
probably tall, golden and gorgeous, with big boobs and an overconfident
conceit. Allie nearly laughed out loud at the image, but then felt a
chill over the realization that Sean ended up marrying a girl so
utterly the opposite of herself.
“Were you with her when we were together?” Allie couldn’t stop herself
“No, Allie, no way,” he stopped her. “With you it wasn’t like that. You
were like… a vacation from North Philly,” he smiled sheepishly and then
paused, carefully finding his words. “During that time, I was on a
different planet. I didn’t really think of her once we got together.”
“Well, that changed,” Allie remained skeptical.
“After I had been sick in Haiti and lost all that weight, she was after
me again,” he shrugged. “At the time, I remember feeling like, ‘well,
she’s from my neighborhood, we have friends and families in common.’ It
seemed like we both wanted the same kind of life. I was back at home,
with the people I grew up with, and that was how it was supposed to be,
Allie looked down, reminded of his rejection of her years earlier
because she had very little in common with his home and upbringing.
“I nearly died, Allie, and then she was there,” he explained with
almost a pleading tone to his defense. “It felt like a sign and I was
supposed to follow in her direction.”
He was actually making sense and Allie nodded in understanding. After
her mother died, she remembered that feeling of weakness and confusion
about what could make her happy. She herself had almost married Jimmy,
a man who was there for her when she was in a very vulnerable place.
“I know now that I wasn’t being honest with myself, deep down, it was
never going to last,” he looked away. “I knew medically that if I
recovered, I was never going to stay thin. My metabolism was completely
destroyed from the illness. Once I began to eat normally, I gained it
all back, really fast. Janeane couldn’t stand watching me get fat. I
tried with diets and meal plans that she would put me on, and joined
her gym, but I was also doing my residency. With the long hours, and no
personal time... it was hard to get any of that right.”
“Oh Sean,” Allie touched his arm, wishing she could have been the one
he came home to, reassuring him he was okay, and that his body was
strong for beating a deadly illness and recovering to full health. She
couldn’t help but admit to herself that she would have lustfully
enjoyed his re-expansion, feeling a bit guilty over how much hearing
him talk about his rapid weight gain turned her on. What a delicious
experience each new pound would have given her eyes and body... But she
would have also been there to remind him that he was more than the
numbers on the scale; that he was a brilliant, lovely man who was
learning how to give children their lives back.
Her emotions were still so confused though. Despite these mixed
feelings of empathy and arousal, she also couldn’t shake the notion
that she was now a consolation prize. He made vows to Janeane; and when
that didn’t work out, maybe he was here to take the easy second best.
She took a step back and looked away again, afraid to cry and have
professional amounts of mascara run down her cheeks.
“What is it Allie?” Sean could see her retreat from him.
She could not hold back her thoughts though, too much was at stake. She
had to tell him exactly how she felt. “It’s still hard for me to
understand why you were so quick to dump me, over something as
superficial as money, influence, or social status or whatever,” Allie
still kept her eyes down. “And then go and marry a girl who had a
history of hurting you, and cheating on you,” her eyes rose up to his.
He looked at her with regret in his eyes, but didn’t answer.
“Was she so perfect and pretty and exciting? And I was just sad, plain,
privileged Allie? A bland, white bread girl from a boring place with a
“Wow, no!” Sean stopped her, putting his hand on her arm, “You are
anything but plain and boring.”
She looked at him skeptically.
“I shouldn’t have to tell you how stunning you are,” he smiled, now
brushing an auburn curl from her face. “I still think of you
in the pool house, you were so charming, and beautiful… and thoughtful,
wanting to keep me out of the rain. When you crawled over and kissed
me…” he trailed off, with a longing look in his eyes.
Allie blushed. She hadn’t seen that kind of warmth and sparkle in his
eyes in a very long time, and it gave her a surge of relief to see it
“I was in awe of you, Allie, always. You’re a classic beauty. I
remember when I first saw you… you looked like, nobility, or
something,” he shrugged. “But you’re also incredibly bright, and have a
kind, gentleness… I only wished you’d have seen all of those things in
yourself more,” he stumbled and blushed through his words, making her
heart jump a bit more.
Still, the whole thing had haunted her for so long. “Then why did you
leave me?” She stayed on point, despite feeling softened by his
“I was weak,” he explained. “I was always a little unsure that a girl
like you could really last with a guy like me.”
Allie tried to interject, shaking her head, but he continued. “Then my
buddies started getting into my head, even while we were still
together. I’d run into them and they’d make cracks; that you’d get sick
of me, or you were using me to upset your parents; or you’d get tired
of being with a fatty; stuff like that.”
“You have horrible friends,” Allie was frustrated, reminded of Charlie
and how he would talk to Sean about his weight.
“That’s how things are in my old neighborhood, always busting balls of
any guy having success,” he explained, lapsing more into his North
Philly accent. “I was dating a beautiful girl from the Main Line, and
about to become a doctor. So that’s how it gets equalized among
“Some friends,” Allie smirked.
“I just believed them a little too much,” he admitted. “I thought you
would eventually be done with me, whether it was my background, my
weight, or whatever. You couldn’t possibly have had a high society
future with a fat Mick like me.”
“You should have just asked me what kind of future I wanted,” she
whispered through her cracking voice.
“I know,” he whispered back. “It hit me hard when I found you passed
out at Children’s. You were so thin and pale looking... You can’t
believe how shocked I was to lift you up and see your face,” he
admitted. “And all I could think was how scared I was… the one woman
who loved me in a real, authentic way, was lying unconscious in my
Allie was riveted by his words, her eyes filling with an emotional mist.
“But when you began to regain consciousness, and I knew you were okay,
I realized I couldn’t bear to have you see me this way, this heavy.”
“Sean, you don’t understand,” Allie implored him.
He ignored her pleas and kept spilling his feelings, “When we finally
saw each other at the hospital, you were sweet and polite, as always;
and you didn’t say a damned thing about my hugely obvious weight gain.”
“And you didn’t say a damned thing about your crumbling marriage,” she
“Back to where we started,” he half-smiled.
The light breeze picked up again, as they got closer to Villa Borghese.
Allie checked the time on her phone. She needed to meet Maia outside
the Casina Valadier in 10 minutes. It was going to be close.
“You still haven’t told me why you are here,” Allie touched his arm as
they crossed a busy intersection.
“You still haven’t said whether you want me here,” he responded with a
“You ended us, Sean, and you married someone else,” she volleyed back,
needing more certainty. “Seems like the ball is in your court to say
that you feel differently about me, about us, now.”
“First I need to know, Allie, if you are turned off by my size, because
you won’t say anything about it. It’s an obvious liability for me and
not an easy thing for me to change.”
“It’s like you have amnesia,” she laughed through her words at the
irony of being questioned whether she could bring herself to be
attracted to Sean, and at his present size. “I have always been so
attracted to you, Sean. I couldn’t ever keep my hands off of you. I
never criticized you and only contradicted you when you would complain
about it. It’s like you expect me to be cruel to you about it now, but
you don’t remember how much I loved you heavier.”
He walked silently, thinking for a moment, and then said quietly with a
pained wince, “But I’m much bigger now.”
“This is so unfair, because you’re getting me to say…” she stopped to
gather her thoughts. “I mean, Sean, you’re this amazingly smart,
talented, self-made man. I’ve admired you ever since we first spoke
words to each other.”
Taking a breath, she continued, “But before we ever spoke, I was
completely attracted to you. I loved, and still love your body, and
yes, definitely bigger,” she gasped for air and continued. “I know your
weight is a sore subject, especially considering what Janeane did to
you, so it’s not easy for me to tell you how much your size turns me
on, but it does. So damn it, stop asking me why I won’t say anything
about it. I don’t because, well, it’s… sexual for me and not really
ladylike to talk about.”
Sean stopped dead in his tracks on Viale del Belvedere. He looked at
her, his eyes wide, but saying nothing.
“So would you tell me why you are here?” She demanded, exasperated.
He paused, took a deep breath. “I’m here because I love you, Allie,
with everything I have in me.” He touched her face, brushing his
fingers along her cheek, making her melt. Sean had not always been
forthcoming, but he was always honest. She could believe his words…
words she had waited for so long to hear again.
He continued, “My feelings for you never really went away. Each time I
saw you, or thought of you, I just felt worse about my life and how far
away from you I had gone. When Maia invited me here, I knew I had to at
least take a chance that you might be able to forgive me.”
“Chance?” She scoffed but smiled, “I’m sure Maia told you I’ve never
been able to make anything work with anyone else.”
‘’No, she didn’t say that, but she did say that there was a good chance
I’d get to kiss a beautiful woman in Rome,” he grinned.
“Maia is so damned clairvoyant,” Allie teased back, inching closer to
him, her body grazing against his belly, giving her the kind of
goosebumps she hadn’t felt in years. He pulled her waist into his
softness, leaned down and brushed her lips with his. She melted further
She was then yanked back to reality by a woman’s cheerful yell in the
distance. Peering down the walkway to Casina Valadier, she saw her
lovely Maia in white, waving her arms wildly.
“We have to get there fast,” Allie exclaimed, feeling her heart
pounding through her chest again.
They moved quickly together, her arm through his, feeling the
occasional brush of his soft side against her body, anticipating when
she would be able to get alone with him to touch more of his expanded
Maia seemed to read her mind as they reached the bride and her mother,
“You have plenty of time for fooling around later, but right now this
is about me,” she winked at Allie, and hugged Sean.
Maia touched Sean’s arm, “Julien’s friend is at the top of the stairs
in a light gray suit, he saved a spot for you close to the front.”
“Thank you, Maia,” Sean smiled, and leaned into Allie to grab a quick
kiss on the cheek before heading up the stairs.
Allie admired his width from behind as he made his way up to the
balcony. She saw Maia’s mother at the top, waiting for the girls to
come up and begin the wedding.
“I see the old spark is back,” Maia laughed, nudging Allie as the two
girls ascended the staircase.
“I tossed your coins in for you,” Allie rolled her eyes, alluding to
“Those coins weren’t for me, they were for you, silly,” Maia grinned
widely. “You returned to Rome, and now you found your love
“Can you be sure?” Allie felt exhilarated and terrified at the same
“You and Sean are meant to be, you just both needed a push,” Maia
“More like a shove,” Allie smiled back winking, as she headed down the
aisle to begin the wedding. As she made her way to the front
of the room, she saw Julien’s happy eyes and smiled at him. She then
glanced over where Sean was sitting. His face was loving and open,
giving her the kind of hope that made her feel almost uneasy; she was
so cautious about hope these days. She caught his eyes and smiled.
There was now a hint of hunger in them, a look she recognized from the
first time she kissed him in the pool house.
They were so young back then, it seemed. She thought back to that
summer they met, remembering how naive and rather clueless she was. The
world was so black and white. She saw her parents one-dimensionally,
and saw Sean as a knight in shining armor. There were only good guys
and bad guys. She had changed so much, and could see how much Sean had
His body had changed drastically, of course, from rather chubby to
definitively fat; and then much thinner, to even fatter now; yet all
the while he remained so handsome. His core personality was still the
same, just as hers was. But he was also a man now, just as she had
become a woman. They had both been through life experiences that force
some weariness, but also wisdom and understanding. The world was not as
simple as it had once seemed. Still, the lust in his eyes, and the
desire in her heart gave her hope that they would have the wonderful
chemistry that long had remained in her memories like a spoonful of
honey that lingers on the tongue.
After the wedding, Allie joined Maia and Julien to give them her
biggest hugs and best wishes. “It was beautiful,” She gushed over her
best friends, “I don’t have words for how happy I am for you both.”
“I know, Cherie, and now you have to go make your own beautiful,” she
looked over at Sean, who was waiting patiently on a bench next to the
garden that surrounded the patio where they were hosting their dinner
“How did you know?” she implored her friend, “I mean, I thought he was
married… how did you know it was even possible?”
“When you told me about his visit to your home, and the sadness you saw
in him, I felt like something wasn’t right. I tracked down his mom and
talked to her, and she told me everything, you know, about the
divorce,” she winced a bit, stopping short of describing what Pam
inevitably shared: that Sean had been married to a woman who would not
be true through thick and thin, or in Sean’s case, from thin to fat.
Allie just nodded.
“Pam and I just couldn’t imagine how the world could go on with you two
wonderful people, who belong together, being miserable apart,” she
shrugged. “Then Julien had the idea to get you two together
at the Trevi, and well, now you know the rest.”
Maia then turned and launched into greetings and hugs from more guests
piling up behind them. Allie and Julien continued chatting
privately. “I couldn’t imagine you ending up with someone who
wasn’t going to give you what you really need,” he told her with a
Allie nodded, with a giggle. “That kind of need doesn’t ever disappear,
“I could never fight it,” Julien seemed pleased that Allie understood
exactly what he was talking about. “As soon as I met Maia, I realized I
wouldn’t ever want to change it either.”
“I could see that early on,” Allie grinned. “You’ve given her the love
and admiration that she always wished for.”
“I should really thank you Allie, for what you give to Maia,” he smiled.
“What I give to her?” Allie was confused. She had always felt so
grateful for Maia’s friendship.
“You are authentic,” he paused, thinking of the right words in English,
“Supportive, but more than that. Maia has ups and downs, but after she
talks to you, it puts her back to a content place. Your effect on her
is amazing,” he smiled, shaking his head. “I can worship her like a
goddess, but you know, a good friend is something… more honorable.”
“I never really realized how much I did for her,” she responded in
surprise. “I always felt that she was the strong one that kept me
positive, reminding me of the important things, like love and hope, you
know, when I’d get stuck in self-pity.”
“Maia is right that you are too hard on yourself, but you don’t
self-pity any more than any other American I’ve ever known,” he laughed.
“Julien!” she playfully slapped his arm.
“Fun to tease the Americans,” he smiled widely. “But you and I, Allie,
we have things in common.” He glanced over at Sean and then back at
Maia, “I’ve always liked that we can relate without having to say too
much about it.”
Allie smiled and blushed with a silent nod.
“Now go reclaim your fat boy,” he whispered with a wink and sent her on
her path to over to Sean.
Allie approached Sean, with his eyes on her again. She felt that
familiar warmth spread around her body in seeing his big, exquisite
belly spilling out of his open jacket. Despite how well his shirt fit
over him when he stood in front of her earlier at the Trevi, and the
way it had enough give to allow for some jiggling in a delightful
rhythm as they walked the streets of Rome, it was clearly now strained
from the force of its mass pushing out onto his lap. You are hopeless,
Allie, she laughed inside herself, that tubby belly will mesmerize you
She stretched out her hand to him without word and motioned him to join
her for a walk in the gardens, away from the wedding crowd. They
strolled along a path silently, then reaching a quiet private area with
trees blocking most of the afternoon sunlight, she paused and looked up
at him. The tiniest bit of light sparkled in his eyes, and she reached
up for a kiss. His big hands grabbed around her back, then down to her
waist, and pulled her close.
How she had missed his sweet, hot cocoa kisses. “Mmmmmmm,” she felt the
sound escape from her lips as they opened their eyes again to one
“That was okay, then?” He smiled sweetly.
“Fantastic,” she murmured back.
“You were evaluating me back there again,” he told her knowingly.
She tiled her head in question.
“Walking over to me, you were scanning the gut,” he patted its hanging
She put her hand over his, pressing into it, then moving her fingers
over more of his soft belly, causing a tingle in her spine and shiver
in her body. “I know what I like,” she murmured, feeling an ache of
desire to unbutton his shirt, slip her fingers inside it, and finally
feel the ways in which his body had evolved so wonderfully in the time
they had been apart.
After another long kiss, Sean reminded her where she was. “Maia is
going to wonder where her maid of honor is.”
She nodded and smiled, taking his hand as he led her back to the
After dinner, as things were winding down, they sat alone and quietly
sipped Sambuca con Mosca, studying each other’s faces.
“When are you flying back?” Allie finally asked Sean, having purposely
held back from talking about any time they would spend together beyond
the wedding itself. Her old instincts were never too far away; joyous
bliss always seemed fleeting, like trying to hold sand in her hands.
Trust had been a big theme for her to work through in therapy.
“Monday,” he shared.
“So what are you doing tomorrow then?” She apprehensively smiled,
pushing her trust issues into an optimistic territory, hoping for one
more idyllic day in Rome, with the man who had once tested her
emotional well-being so profoundly.
“I was hoping to spend it with you,” he returned a genuinely uncertain
smile, “Since you know this city better than I do.”
“That would explain why Maia insisted I stay an extra day,” she
“And tonight?” He gave her a more serious and anxious look.
Oh damn, she wanted him. She wanted his big, beautiful body against
hers, naked and sweaty… and all that weight on her. She never forgot
the yummy, musky smell of sex with Sean. Just sitting next to him, it
came back to her senses like a wicked wave.
“Wow,” he brought her back from the delicious fantasy.
“What?” she feigned ignorance.
“The look on your face,” he pressed.
“Is it time to go?” She grinned, feeling fluttery.
“I hope so,” he agreed to her implied suggestion.
“Let me check in with Maia,” she remained the dutiful friend.
“Of course,” he leaned back, showing off the breadth of his plush
midsection, as if to tempt her more.
Her back felt as hot as her thighs as she walked away from him, knowing
he was watching her body move across the party to Maia, where Julien
was intermittently feeding Maia some Capezzoli di Venere while she
chatted with guests.
Julien caught Allie’s eye just as he plopped another truffle in his
bride’s mouth, and shared a sneaky grin.
“For Venus,” he mock-defended himself, alluding to the dessert’s
namesake deity, “Yes?”
“Yes, of course, for Venus,” Allie couldn’t help but laugh. Maia wasn’t
exactly unhappy being fed rich, chocolate delicacies named after the
goddess of love and beauty.
“Allie!” Maia’s eyes became wide when she saw her best friend, “Why are
you still here? Shouldn’t you be off having your own fun?” she giggled.
“Actually, I was coming over see if you needed help with anything,” she
“Heavens no,” Maia waved her hands to dismiss Allie. “This is your time
As Maia happily released Allie from her maid of honor duties, and
continued to chat with her friends from Ghent, Julien noticed Allie’s
apprehension. “What’s going on, Allie?”
She paused, and then realized Julien was probably more level-headed
than Maia for examining her sanity.
“Don’t worry, he’s not going to crush you,” Julien smiled with a wink.
Allie smiled, “Maybe a little?” She played into his humor.
“Ah, the allure of weight plus gravity,” he nodded.
“Am I letting lust rule my head, Julien?” She cut to the chase, “A few
days ago I thought I was finally getting over him and now all of that
is out the window.”
“Yes, well, the damage is done now, you might as well enjoy him while
you’re here,” he grinned. “Whether it works out or not, at least you
would have given your body what it needs.”
He was crass, but kind of right. Her head and heart were already pulled
backward, there was no reason to torture herself further.
“Thanks Julien,” she gave him a kiss on the cheek, and interrupted Maia
for a big hug, “Goodnight!”
Allie walked with Sean to the Spanish Steps, wanting him to experience
the romance of Rome after dark. After partially ascending, she could
see he was quite warm and a bit winded. She sat him down on the steps
to take in the evening color and admire the Barcaccia fountain. There
were just enough tourists milling around that Allie felt they blended
in, and she gave Sean a warm, long kiss. She then smiled at him and
reminisced, “When I was here the first time, I would sit here and think
of you, wishing I could show this to you.”
“It’s amazing Allie, it really is,” he gazed over the spectacularly
“It just took longer than I thought it would to get you here,” she then
kissed him again, lightly, sliding her hands and arms inside his suit
jacket, feeling the chubby sides of his soft body. Being close with him
in the intimate, soft lit ambiance of Rome made her feel magnificent,
causing a wave of goosebumps over her body.
“Thank you for your patience,” he teased her gently, rubbing her arms.
“You’re getting cool,” he quickly became protective and instinctively
took off his jacket, putting it over her shoulders. She loved how big
it felt, draped over her, with his masculine, spicy scent filling her
nose. Her senses were overloaded looking into his blue eyes, admiring
his easy grin; and of course with the way his plush softness teased her
fingers. It was utter foreplay taking place between them before they
even got behind closed doors.
She stood, reaching out to his hand, “Let’s go.”
The ten minute walk back to her hotel gave Allie the chance to tell
Sean about a few more of the sights they passed, while she occasionally
noted the way his soft fat moved along with him, with a bit of sway and
wobble. She wasn’t sure where her emotional lines crossed between her
love for him as a person, her admiration for his lovely face, and her
fetishy lust for his flab. But those muddled points of attraction
didn’t stop her from feeling quite clearly that she urgently needed to
be naked with him.
Allie unlocked her hotel room door, with Sean’s big, warm presence
trailing behind her. Turning around, she looked into his eyes and they
smiled awkwardly at one another. There was a self-consciousness between
them in knowing what they both wanted, and yet mutually acknowledging
that they had a complicated history.
She slipped his suit coat off her shoulders, and after a long kiss, she
whispered, “You always really knew how to do that.”
He smiled and stroked his hand along her body, pulling her closer into
his soft mass and kissing her more. She roamed his body in return,
feeling the clothing that remained between her and his naked flesh.
Pausing from the kiss, she looked up at him again, her hands on his
chest, smoothing down his tie. She decided that’s where she would
start, and began to loosen it, quickly and efficiently sliding it from
his neck and throwing it over a chair.
He felt her zipper behind her neck and drew it down her back, her dress
falling quickly to the floor. He looked at her with lust, and she
instinctively spread her stance as his big hands brushed over her
cobalt blue lace bra, down her abdomen, and across the small of her
back, over the matching satin panties covering her behind and then
between her legs. She closed her eyes, feeling the way his touch teased
her whole body.
“It’s your turn now,” her fingers ran down the trail of buttons that
beckoned her to release them. Buttons were a sexy weakness for Allie,
the way they bravely kept Sean’s shirt fabric together, withstanding
the strain of his girth, desperate to be set free. She loved a big man
in a dress shirt… that smooth, fine cotton, encasing delicious amounts
of fatness, while its poplin sheen highlighted every curve and wobble.
She decided to savor that pleasure, kissing him to distraction while
her fingers followed the crest of his heaving belly, then along his
sides and into his love handles. He whispered in her ear as if to plead
for some mercy, “Allie…”
“Mmmmmm,” was her only response, coming back up to his chest and
working in the first button, then the next. His hands moved again
between her thighs, carefully grazing over her panties with just the
right touch. Between the psychological thrill of unbuttoning his shirt
and the way he incited her with his meaty hands between her legs, she
was nearly at full ecstasy and they weren’t even completely naked yet.
Pulling his shirt out, she used her index fingers to carefully lift up
his t-shirt, and gradually revealed his substantial belly and its
hanging softness, decorated by several silvery stretch marks. Some of
them had been around for some time, as she had remembered from his
college weight gain. Some seemed a bit pinker and newer from freshly
added poundage. Her fingers trailed up along all of them, as her eyes
drifted up to his.
He looked at her with a hint of apprehension, as she realized her hands
were exploring his flab in the same way she had become accustomed to
with Van. She had forgotten how careful she had been with fat
exploration in their younger days. Not because Sean had been overly
sensitive about his weight back then, she was just uneasy about showing
him how sexually gratifying she found his tubbiness. Sure, there was
always a lot of touching and groping all over, but usually his fattest
parts were caressed with broad, flat strokes and passive fondling. Now
here she was truly exploring his body, lifting his heft and surveying
the fine detail of his luscious bulges and valleys of blubber.
Her hands roamed his back, feeling those little folds of fat where his
belly diverged from his chest. Slipping her fingers inside them, she
burned with the memory of how his flab had settled on his body back in
their college days. Regaining all that weight had brought those same
contours back with a vengeance. But now they were even thicker and
deeper than the last time she was this close to his naked torso; and
she was really digging in and enjoying them.
She wanted to get his pants off now, but his belly was a bit in the way
of his belt, so she pushed him onto the bed to get better access.
He smiled, “You’re more…” he paused searching for the right word,
“direct, these days.”
Allie blushed, but didn’t stop working on his belt, “I’m making up for
lost time,” she reasoned.
He shifted to help her with his pants, and the amount of jiggling in
response made her more lustfully impatient. Her hands were quickly on
his cock, which was extremely hard and tight against his boxers. His
waistband was tight as well, more evidence of his rapid growth, as she
got her hands inside the elastic to remove them and liberate him.
He rolled to his side and quickly pulled off her bra and panties,
alternately kissing her neck and quietly moaning as she handled him the
way he had always responded to, with a firm hand and a delicate touch.
Teasing him this way, working around his broad belly was too much for
her patience. She moved under him and coaxed him into position to enter
“I’m so big now, Allie,” he hovered over her, struggling to keep his
belly from completely blanketing her body. “I’ll hurt you.”
“Oh no you won’t,” she pulled him down, loving the way his flab
collapsed all over her, as he tried in vain to avoid gravity. She knew
well that she could handle a fat man on top of her; she had logged
enough experience to confirm she would be okay. Well, better
His heaviness pressed on her, and she felt him enter inside her. She
was momentarily transported back to how Sean felt inside her the first
time in the pool house. She closed her eyes in astonishment that so
much time had passed and yet it didn’t seem that long ago, did it? Her
thoughts drifted through the years, as she found her way to the
present. She had never expected this outcome. The surprise of him, back
in her world, in her bed, and inside her body was both exciting and
Allie tried to hold off, but Sean knew exactly how to make her climax.
The fact that he was noticeably heavier now made it even easier. As he
shifted his weight to enter her more deeply, she was overwhelmed by the
convergence of his penetration and how much fatter he had become. His
belly had grown enough to force her legs more widely apart, and the
friction moved her to euphoria. She felt a wave come over her quaking
body, and electric pulses shot straight to her toes. Her response
prompted his climax as well, and she loved watching him in the moment
of ecstasy, relieved he had not lost any of the passion she knew he was
Enjoying the denouement, she was nestled into him, feeling his belly
press into hers with each exhausted breath. His arms easily enveloped
her, and she caressed along his middle, her finger instinctively
lingering around his deep belly button. He flinched and brushed her
away, “Are you trying to make me feel self-conscious?”
“No, sorry,” she smiled sweetly, “I just love how you feel.”
“Allie,” he was playfully exasperated, shaking his head.
“Don’t be surprised, I told you how I feel about your body,” she
grinned, returning her hand to his flabby side rolls.
Sean shifted his weight, “But…”
“But nothing,” Allie interrupted him, feeling bolder now that they had
returned to intimacy. “You are completely sexy, every inch.”
But Sean continued, clearly trying to work out the body issues between
them. “I guess I never understood how you seemed so worried about a
measly pound or two on your body… and all the working out and dieting,”
he reasoned. “It confused me. I thought, ‘how could she be okay with
all of my fat when she can’t tolerate an ounce of it on her?’”
Allie nodded, “I know, Sean, I’ve never been able to make complete
sense of it, but it’s something I’ve been working on a lot these days.”
“I sometimes worried about you,” he continued, “but I was afraid to say
anything that might make it worse. I mean, who was I to say anything
about fitness or healthy eating habits?”
“People have always commented on my body, telling me all the time that
I was getting too thin, and I hated it,” she opened up. “I thought,
‘what did they know about my health?’ And I resented that it was
anybody’s business but my own. And still think that’s true, people
should mind their own damn bodies,” Allie scolded generally with a
smile. “But I also know now that I was using that rationalization to
not deal with the fact that I was actually kind of harming myself.”
Sean just nodded and stroked her hair.
“It took some therapy to realize that I wasn’t just randomly lacking
any appetite or training hard, I was actually dabbling in the anorexic
arts and using it to exert control over my life. I really fooled myself
into believing it was not affecting my health.”
“Like when I found you on the floor,” Sean started to say.
“That was my wake up call,” she admitted.
“I’m glad,” he murmured, kissing her on the forehead and then
on the lips. “I love you, Allie, I need you strong. I need you in my
“I have something special to show you,” Allie took his hand after they
finished their croissants integrale and cappuccinos, al fresco.
He raised his eyebrow in response to a provocative suggestion.
“Not that,” she swatted his arm, “You didn’t get enough ‘special’ last
night?” she laughed while he grinned back at her. “There’s something
else special that I want you to see on the other side of the gardens,”
she pointed toward the Villa Borghese.
“It seems like everything is pretty incredible here,” he took her hand.
“No, but this, you’ll love,” she winked.
As they walked through Villa Borghese gardens, she talked to him about
the history of the space, its monuments and museums. She was in her
glory extolling architectural virtues and natural significance of the
“You can walk in awe through the noise and craziness of Rome,” she
smiled, “and then pass into this green space and it’s like you’re on
“Like Fairmount,” he smiled at her, reminding her of their favorite
park in Philly, where they loved spending time together during that
wonderful summer after she came back from Rome.
“Yes, exactly,” she beamed back, locking his arm in hers.
They strolled along the walkways, getting closer to the jewel of the
gardens. Through a clearing, she could see Sean studying the structure
from a distance.
“What’s that? He asked
“Galleria Borghese,” she smiled knowingly.
“Wow,” he grinned.
“Wait until you see inside,” she grinned back, as they ascended one
side of the double staircase. She loved watching him study the
stonework, admiring the detail in the piers and arches.
As she walked in with Sean, Allie thought that the interior looked even
more stunning than her last visit. The marble accents seemed to gleam
brighter, along with the floor mosaics, bas-reliefs and ceiling
frescoes all mixed in a swirling feast of Renaissance, Baroque and
Neo-classic delights. She took his hand and led him to the room with
the piece that she had been wanting him to see for years.
When he saw it, his jaw dropped, “This is it?”
“The original,” she crossed her arms triumphantly as they gazed at
Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne, “In all of its Baroque marble glory.”
“Wow,” he mustered with eyes wide. “It’s big.”
“Much better than our knock-off back in Villanova, huh?” Allie grinned.
“Beautiful,” he murmured. “I mean, the detail of her body.”
“You can see why Apollo couldn’t keep his hands off of her,” Allie
“You can really see her pain more clearly too,” he remained serious and
studied Daphne’s face.
Allie nodded, “The detail of those leaves and twigs on her fingertips
have always astounded me. For stone, it’s just so delicate looking.
It’s amazing this piece has survived perfectly for almost 400 years.”
“I told you last year,” his eyes fixed on Bernini’s masterpiece.
“Daphne’s determined to survive. She’s genuine and enduring.”
“She is,” Allie nodded, feeling warm and a bit embarrassed, remembering
their awkward conversation that day last fall.
“Just like you,” he now moved his eyes on her with his directness.
Allie pulled her eyes to his, remembering how hard it was to live
without him. “What about you? Will you waver again?”
Sean shook his head and pulled her body into his, “No, no way,” he
whispered in her ear. “I’ve only ever been truly happy with you, Allie.
I never want to be away from you again.”
Sean and Allie have an autumn wedding at Memorial Hall in their beloved
Fairmount Park, settle in a small bungalow the Bay Area, maybe in a
little gentrifying neighborhood in the East Bay. Sean gets a post
residency assignment at UCSF; Allie works as a building preservation
consultant, while remotely managing the Beaumont mansion business from
afar. They have beautiful babies (twins?), and regularly spend free
time vacationing back in Philly with their families and in Belgium with
their best friends.
© 2015 Ashblonde /