chapter 1"That's right fat@ss, run on home to daddy. The exercise will do you good, porkchop!"
Sarah kept walking - the shy eighteen-year old blushing despite herself but otherwise doing her best to ignore the jibe. It was just bad luck crossing paths with Ashlynn on her way home from school after avoiding her all day. Sarah wasn't even sure what the latest spat was about. As far as she knew Ashlynn just didn't like her. Maybe it was because Sarah was smart and studious and Ashlynn was neither. Or maybe it was because Ashlynn was slim and athletic and Sarah was neither.
Ashlynn would hardly be alone in that, if so. The small rural town of Hexenwald seemed to be made up strictly of the fit and hardworking, if not particularly bright. Being seen as in any way lazy or getting even a little bit soft was commonly and openly looked down upon or even disparaged. Thus despite her kindhearted personality, despite always getting top marks, despite her cute face or flawless skin, mischievous smile or long glossy tresses - Sarah had never been popular, and occasionally had to put up with abuse like this from other girls just because she was just the slightest bit plump. The boys at least mostly just ignored her (other than to stare at her chest when they thought she wasn't looking) but that may have had more to do with the fact her father, the overbearing town sheriff, scared them all witless.
But she was hardly a fat@ss she told herself. Even if she really was the fattest person in Hexenwald, last she had seen her doctor she hadn't even been overweight for her height - though that number had been close. Then again, it had been a few months. Had she been snacking more? Were her clothes getting tighter? Was she fattening up again? Sarah had been chubby as a child, and always struggled to keep her weight down through school. Sarah knew she was naturally plump, and gained weight easily when she wasn't careful. But other than some yo-yoing around the sweet-laden holidays she had for the most part kept her appetite in check.
Sarah was actually quite shapely, with thick thighs and a well rounded bottom and hips that flared out from her narrow torso and slender shoulders. Sure some of her older clothes were starting to pinch a slight muffin top into her sides, and the beginnings of a pot belly that pushed out into most of her shirts left a shadowed indentation where her belly button was when she wasn't sucking in (which was pretty much always if there was anyone around to see). But it hardly seemed noticeable she thought, and indeed the latter was often obscured by much darker shadow cast by her prominent bust.
Though it pained her to admit Ashlynn was right on the second count however, she thought: some exercise would do her good. Sarah wasn't lazy per se, she just preferred a good book to playing sports. Being shorter and "softer" with little running endurance at all, Sarah knew she wouldn't be much good anyway. Sarah did sometimes walk to the town common to read in the fresh air on a nice day, but it wasn't really far enough to be exercise. Besides, on a beautiful Friday afternoon in spring Ashlynn and friends would surely be headed there.
No, Sarah thought, today she should try someplace new. She had overheard some boys at school talking about a hitherto undiscovered glen where a trickling brook coming down from the mountains fell into a small mossy pond. One of them has passed it while on the way to some greater mischief or other, and merely used it as a landmark, but to Sarah it seemed idyllic. Sarah knew the trail they mentioned from a time her father took her for a short hike, and she easily memorized the rest of the directions as far as the waterfall.
Sarah's father wouldn't be home until very late tonight, so she had some spending money for groceries, and plenty of time to either stay home alone or have some fun exploring. It was an easy choice, really. Sarah already had the perfect book, and nearing the end of her final year, not much else in her schoolbag. She knew where the trail started. All she needed now was a picnic.
Conveniently her nose then caught scent of a baker's confections and steered her feet in that direction. Sarah had always had a weakness for sweets in general, and chocolaty baked goods in specific. It may not be the best choice for her waistline, but the hike would more than make up for it she thought. And baked goods would keep better in her bag than other things - things which might also attract animals, like meat, she told herself. Surely bears have no interest in sweets, do they? Sarah didn't want to cross a bear in the woods.
The bakery was on the far edge of town, nearer the trails into the woods than home or school, and Sarah had never been inside before. Her mouth watered at the thought of all the wonderful things her nose hinted she might find inside. Her imagination running away with her, she walked right into a man exiting.
"Oh!" she gasped. "Excuse... me." her voice caught as a flutter of recognition replaced her confusion and surprise, then turned to trepidation. She had seen this man only a few times around town, and all relatively recently: a newcomer - a stranger. That would be enough to make Sarah nervous.
This man was a little taller than most and wide enough at the shoulder to easily fill the open doorway. Though thick with muscle, like Sarah he was also a bit soft, with a bit of a gut filling his overcoat. He sported a short trimmed beard and a thick mane of brown hair. Sarah had never heard him speak, but his posture was always erect and stiff, and despite his size he walked quickly and stepped with authority - reminding Sarah of some of her father's old military friends. His face was stern initially, but softened as he met her gaze. His stormy countenance was meant for the shopkeeper, Sarah realized. She had heard the shopkeeper say something as the door opened but had not registered the words.
The beard made him look older than he was - especially from a distance, Sarah decided. From up close she doubted he could be more than ten years older than her. He turned his wide body sideways and stepped to the side, motioning wordlessly for her to enter, while holding the door with his other hand. Stammering an abashed word of thanks Sarah quickly ducked inside, happy to be out of the awkward situation, and the large man disappeared with the swing of the door.
5 chapters, created 7 years , updated 3 years
13 4 20418