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It's nearly eight and I'm starting to get a little anxious.
Steve's nearly an hour late coming home from work and still hasn't called, which is very unusual. Aside from worrying that something might have happened and being slightly annoyed that he hasn't called if he's just running late, I'm starting to get really hungry. Not that that's anything new; after nearly four years together, Steve and I have managed to stretch my gut out so far that it takes a lot of work to keep it full and satisfied. But when I get hungry I get grumpy, and the last thing I want is to greet Steve with frown when he gets back from that despicable office.
So, after fifteen minutes of impatiently lumbering back and forth (I haven't paced for years), I resign myself to the idea that dinner was going to be late and grab a carton of Cherry Garcia to tide myself over.
Normally I wouldn't mind his lateness, but tonight is special. Tonight is Friday night, the night that we always set aside for Steve to put his Italian upbringing to work and prepare us a fabulous meal. He usually cooks anyway, some simple pasta dish or other, or else we go out to eat or order in. New York is certainly the best place in the world for food! But Friday is the day set aside for Steve to really go to town. A fifth of our weekly budget goes to this meal alone. And what meals they are! Pounds of pasta dripping with gooey cheeses and rich sauces, sun dried tomatoes, juicy chicken breasts, fresh seafood, the most tender veal you ever tasted, home-made breads, desserts that could send you into a diabetic coma just by looking at them...I often marveled that Steve's never taken a cooking course in his life. He just whips this stuff up from scratch, using tricks his mother, a first-generation Sicilian, taught him. God bless her! Steve could cook professionally, but he says he prefers to make it a labor of love. Well, it's the world's loss.
Clicking on the CD player to Peter Gabriel (perfect for a cold New York night), I settle down and ruminate over how much my life has changed over the past three years. It seems like just yesterday that I first made eye contact with Steven Carmeletti in the NYU Violet Cafe. I was completing my Master's in Fiction Writing; he was a third-year Law Grad.
It amuses me, when I get out of the shower and catch sight of the stomach that hangs down nearly to my knees or the swollen nipples Steve sucks so enthusiastically, to think that at one time, I thought that 5'10" and 200 pounds was hopelessly overweight. I didn't have any imagination!
Nevertheless, I was miserable about my weight and constantly trying to diet it off - followed by guilty eating binges, of course. These days, of course, Steve and I have many friends with whom we can share our interests, but back then it never occurred to me that anyone would actually find me attractive because of, not in spite of, my extra pounds.
There I was, grimly tackling a fruit salad - which I'd enjoy, if I didn't feel compelled to eat it - and flipping through a magazine when I felt eyes on me. I looked up, and caught sight of the nicest eyes ever: dark liquid brown, lit with intelligence and sparkling with interest.
Steve, sitting across the room, was looking right at me. We were complete opposites. Whereas I am of average height, red-haired, brown-eyed and boyish, he was about 6'2", slender and well-built, with dark curly hair, a strong jaw, and the most inviting red lips I'd seen in many moons.
Being naturally shy, I looked quickly away. I'm sure I blushed.
After pretending to read for a moment, I chanced a look back up. Rats! He was gone. Oh well, another hook-up opportunity down the drain.
"Mind if I join you?"
I looked up. There he was! Standing there with his plate of half-eaten tuna salad, all dapper in a suit and power tie, he was a vision. I had to say something witty and urbane, something to impress him into staying and talking to me!
"You just looked sort of lonely over here with your fruit salad, so I thought I'd come and say hi. My name's Steve."
We shook hands. His hands felt strong and soft. "My name's Louis."
The Cherry Garcia was all gone, leaving me with a gooey sweetness in my mouth. I decided to cut it with a peanut-butter sandwich as I thought back to the day, eighteen months after we'd met, that Steve and I first broached to topic of food in earnest. I had known, as that first conversation in the Violet stretched on for over two hours, that I'd found somebody special. But I had no idea I'd every be able to get so intimate with someone, or express parts of myself I didn't even know I had.
We had been dating each other exclusively for a year, and to celebrate, Steve had spent all afternoon cooking up a storm in his apartment. After a fantastic meal of shrimp fettuchini with fresh vegetables, lots of home-made garlic bread and quite a bit of white wine, we had settled down on the couch, with the lights out and candles lit. We were munching on slices of his from-scratch chocolate-raspberry cheesecake and polishing off the wine, which had made us both pretty tipsy. I was laying contentedly with my head on Steve's lap, my stomach creaking with its heavy load (as usual I'd eaten nearly twice Steve's portion), my heart glowing from being next to him. There were three slices of cake left, sitting on the plate, tantalizing as could be. Excellent - there'd be some for tomorrow. But though I'd already had two, I found myself thinking to myself, maybe I could snag just a bite more tonight...but no. I resolved to ignore it, since I was already feeling guilty about all the food I'd put away. We were giggling over the idea of a Janet Reno vs. Jocelyn Elders mud wrestling match (we'd had a lot of wine) when Steve, who can read me like a book, noticed me eyeing the cake.
"Why don't you have some more cheesecake?" he asked.
"No, no," I sighed. "I've had too much already, and tomorrow it's back to SlimFast. Wages of sin."
"Louis, eating what you want is not a sin. Just enjoy life. I hate seeing you make yourself so miserable."
"But eating is bad. Look at this gut."
"Well, I think you're beautiful and sexy and cuddly, gut and all."
I sighed. We'd been through this before. "Yes, but if I eat like I want to, I won't be cuddly, I'm be huge and gross. God only knows what I'd look like."
"I think you'd look just fine. I wouldn't mind if you were heavier than you are now. It's just more of you to love."
I didn't know what to say. This was new territory. All my life, I'd been struggling against my own nature to keep relatively slim, in order to make myself attractive to other guys. And now here was this guy that I'd fallen head over heels for telling me that I could stand to gain a few pounds?
"Well, I must admit, it's hard to stay away from your cooking."
"I'm glad." The room was very quiet, ready for revelations. "It really makes me happy to see you enjoying the food I've cooked for you. I guess it's the Italian mother in me: 'Eat, eat, eat!' But it's a real joy for me." He took another sip of wine contemplatively. Then with a slight catch in his voice, he continued, "I probably wouldn't say this if I hadn't been drinking, but in fact, it really kind of turns me on."
Time to let it all hang out. "I wouldn't say this if I hadn't been drinking, but it turns me on, too. In fact, I think I'd be happy to spend the rest of my life doing it."
There, it was all out, and I knew that this would make or break our relationship. I waited tensely for his reaction. He swallowed the last of his wine in a quick gulp.
"Then why wait for the rest of our lives?" he said. He leaned over and kissed me with those lush red lips, our tongues coming together. He rolled on top of me on the sofa, grinding our groins together, his hard torso pressed against my soft, inviting belly. The pressure of his weight against my full stomach was fantastic, though not quite as nice as the feeling of our hard-ons rubbing up against one another. We quickly stripped, tumbling off the couch and onto the floor, knocking plates out of the way as we thrashed about in ecstasy. Mouth met mouth, searched and found nipples, necks and ears. Hands ranged over every part, caressing, kneading, scratching, penetrating. We'd stopped using condoms two months ago, when we realized that we were both healthy and in it for the long term, and tonight it was all the sweeter when I took him inside me, felt his release, and knew that if things went well, it'd be forever.
Somehow we'd made it over to the bed, and when we were done, we lay in each other's arms, listening to each other breathe. I was running my fingers idly through Steve's sweaty, curly black chest hair when he suddenly got up and crossed over to the table, fetching back the rest of the cheesecake and a fork, a certain light in his eye that I'd never seen before.
"What are you up to?" I asked as I propped myself up on a pillow.
He sat down beside me and drew close.
"Now, I went to all the trouble of preparing this cheesecake for you, young man. I whipped the cream cheese myself, and the fresh raspberry compote took two days to make. The chocolate sauce I got from Serendipity, special for this occasion. Now, after all that work, not to mention cash, the least you can do for me is to eat every...single...bite."
He scooped up a big forkful and held it up to my lips, offering his work to our mutual pleasure. After putting it like that, who was I to say no? I opened my mouth and stared directly into his eyes as I accepted the morsel. The cheesecake was fantastically creamy and thick, the raspberries sweet and tangy, the dark chocolate out of this world. Even better however, was the wonderful fulfillment of being fed a delicious dish prepared just for me by my Stevie. After scarfing down nearly a pound of pasta earlier, I wasn't sure if I could manage three more slices of such rich cake. But Steve was patiently insistent, and together we reveled in the sheer sensuous pleasure of heavy, gooey cake among teeth and tongue, of chewing, swallowing, growing more stuffed with each bite as my stomach lining stretched and strained to accommodate more and more food. We each had erections again, and I knew that when I had finished the cake and licked the plate clean, I'd have my favorite Italian sausage waiting to wash it all down.
A key in the door brought me back to the present, three years and over a hundred and fifty pounds later, in the Downtown apartment we share.
Today I'm sporting a fine collection of stretch marks on my sides, thighs and butt, each one a happy reminder of Steve's home cooking. Steve entered, looking, if possible, even better than when we met. Amazingly, he'd barely gained a pound in three years, though he loves to eat almost as much as he loves to cook. I don't know where it goes; he has the kind of metabolism that I used to feel jealous of. Now I feel a kind of pity--such people can never know the corpulent pleasures of being fed and fattened by one who loves you, of sheathing yourself with layer upon layer of luxuriant fat, of knowing that overindulgence, once proscribed, now causes your lover's lust to swell along with your waistline.
"Hi, hon, sorry I'm late. Did you miss me?"
"You know I did. Gimme a hug."
We embraced, wrapping his hard body in my fleshy arms. He squeezed me tight, causing the ring he gave me to dig into my chest--my fingers got too large for it over a year ago, so now I wear it on a chain around my neck.
"How was work?" he asked, teasing me. This was one of our jokes; I make a good living writing for local magazines and newspapers from my desk at home, keeping me from having to put up with size discrimination in the workplace and allowing me to snack and listen to music all day. The things you can do with a college degree!
"Oh, you know, the usual. Bitchy secretaries, grumpy bosses. How about you?"
"Oh, the usual. Bitchy secretaries, grumpy Park Avenue matrons." Steve works in a matrimonial law office, giving him all sorts of horror stories about the sordid lives of rich straight people.
"Say Louis," he said, "How would you like that walnut-shrimp dish for dinner? I've been thinking about our first anniversary all day."
"What a marvelous idea, you're brilliant. But there's no cheesecake!"
"I know," Steve said, his lips turning down in mock despair.
"That's why I stopped off at Godiva. I hope you don't mind." Smiling his dazzling smile, he produced a one-pound gift box of Godiva chocolates.
"You think you'll have room after dinner for these?"
"Oh, I'll make room--but Steve, you hate these little individual chocolate things! You should have gotten something we could share!"
"Don't worry," he said, squeezing me tight. "It's the gift that keeps on giving--to me, that is!"
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