Leonie looked tense when Liam walked in. He had just returned from traveling for some promo of his last movie.
The kids went crazy, all rushing to their daddy at once, naturally he had hugs, kisses and gifts for all of them. Finally they calmed down and trying out the new toys seemed more pressing than harassing their daddy and all of them scattered into the four winds.
Liam now smiled at his wife, who stared at the ground. She was still battling the baby weight four kids in 7 years had left and had hoped that there would be a noticeable difference once he got back home. There was, but sadly in the opposite direction. Leonie’s already low self esteem had dropped even further.
“Hey baby, I missed you so much, beautiful.” Liam said as he put his arms around her from behind after they had walked into the cozy living room.
“I am not beautiful! I try but …” Leonie pulled away, now facing him, her complaint immediately muffled by a kiss.
“Please, Liam, not there….” she moved his hand from a location on her midsection she was very self conscious about, then wriggled out of his embrace completely.
Liam stood in awe as she pushed away from him, her arm separating them further.
“Leo. Come on now. I know every single inch of you and really don’t think I need to be censored as to where I can and cannot touch you. You look great, beautiful, like you always have.”
“I used to be really skinny. Now I am a fat cow. I cannot even fit into my mom-jeans anymore.” she complained, which made Liam laugh. That was the wrong move as he soon found out as Leonie began to cry, pulled away from his embrace to comfort her and ran to their master bedroom, where she locked herself in and as if mesmerized kept staring at an old image of them from when they were teens which she had found while looking through old boxes for something.
Liam followed and once more, found the door locked.
“Leo, quit locking those goddamned doors from me! This is ridiculous! Everybody gains weight and loses weight. No need to lose your mind over it. I still love you, just the way you are and don’t give a fuck about what you look like! So open that fucking door now!”
While talking he was banging against the door, hard, with both fists.
Instead of the hoped for sound of a key turning, he heard shuffling behind him, and as he turned, found his two oldest children staring at him with eyes big as saucers.
“Daddy are you and mommy fighting?” Natalie asked in a small voice.
“Oh no, honey. Mommy got the door wedged and I was trying to help her open it.” Liam lied, but could see that Natty was not sure if she believed him, while his oldest, Everett definitely did not.
“Who wants hot cocoa?!” Liam said cheerfully.
“Daddy! People don’t drink cocoa in Spring. It’s not even cold …”
Liam still managed to get his kids distracted. That weight issue had to be fixed for sure. Leonie was ultra-touchy about it. If she could not live with it, she had to change it. Maybe he could get her to join his work outs.
While he was entertaining the children, Leonie was tortured in the bedroom.
She could not stop crying.
She knew he loved her. But she had forgotten how to love herself. She hated herself.
The kids settled down, did their homework, Liam helped.
When the toddlers were fed and asleep and the two older kids were getting ready for bed after saying good night, he finally saw Leonie again.
“Hey baby …” Liam said carefully. She looked at him sheepishly again, something else he was not used to from her, then smiled apologetic as she threw herself into his arms.
“Sorry … I..” she wanted to say more, but Liam put his finger on her lips.
“Shhhhh. Baby, I love you. The way you were, the way you are, I would love you bald. But if this bothers you so much, why don’t you join me when I work out … we’ll have you back in those mom jeans in no time …” Liam chuckled.
Again, the joke backfired. She stiffened, pulled back and ran. Not again! Liam thought. Life with Leonie had always been so simple, but of late he felt like he had to walk on eggshells 24/7. He heard the front door slam, then a car engine howl up. Dammit!
“Leo! Wait!” he yelled, as he ran out the front door, but could only watch the tail lights disappear.
Liam checked on all the kids, but they were blissfully unaware and all but Rett were asleep. Liam tucked his oldest son in too.
Once back downstairs, he poured himself a stiff drink. A really big one. Nearly overflowing the glass.
Three hours and 4 whiskey on the rocks later, Leonie was back.
Liam stood around awkwardly afraid that no matter what he would do, would upset her again.
“Liam. I need help with my problem.” she said quietly.
“Of course. I’ll help however I can.”
“No. I want to do what all your celeb friends do and go somewhere where they help me slim down fast. Maybe some speciality diet at some clinic and surgery.”
“Surgery?! Leo, you make it sound like you were 500 pounds. You can lose whatever is bothering you at home. And what ‘celeb friends’? I have colleagues….” Liam tried.
“Fine. Those really thin and attractive ‘colleagues’ who like to wrap their legs around you and French kiss you during interviews.” Leonie said sharply.
Liam’s patience was really being tested. Why would she never understand that all this was part of the showbiz? He reminded himself to just let it go.
“OK. We’ll look up some places and go look at them together. We’ll get this figured out, baby.” Liam offered hopeful.
Soon after they went to bed, but unlike the welcome back he usually received, she rolled over on her side presenting her back to him before he could even try to kiss her. Frustrated he rolled over facing the window thinking ‘two weeks gone and this is the welcome back I get. Guess that is the marital rut everybody always talks about. Dreamy.‘
Days later, Leonie walked into the local gym. They had agreed that she would try a personal trainer first. If that did not show satisfactory results, they would consider in-patient clinic care and possibly even liposuction or similar. Liam hated the thought. It scared him.
“Hi. My name is Leonie Cameron and I am here for my first session for the weight loss training program…”
“Oh sure. The trainer is still busy with another client, but you can go change over there, I’ll give you a quick tour and then Michelle should be ready for you.” the attendant told Leonie with an artificial smile.
Said and done, after changing and a tour, a pretty and slender redhead joined them and took over. She introduced herself to Leonie.
They briefly talked about the issues and goals and got started. Michelle was a patient and capable trainer, getting Leonie to feel comfortable enough to even kinda enjoy the work outs quickly.
Leonie began to drop weight fast, toning up and became her happier healthier self. Then one day Liam went to pick her up to take her to dinner afterwards. As he entered the lobby of the gym, he was adressed.
That voice. He turned around.
“Been a long time.”
Awkward!, thought Liam. Michelle had been his first ever girlfriend, he had been madly in love with her and crashed hard for a long time after he caught her cheating on him. For a long time after their break-up he had spiraled out of control, becoming criminal and destructive. Read up on that here and here
Michelle’s upbeat voice made him wince while ripping him off memory lane and back into the here and now.
“Come on, big guy, I’ll give you a tour. Leonie is finishing up in the pool, then sauna, then shower, so it will be a moment. Come on.”
Liam felt uncomfortable, but decided to be adult about it all. It HAD been a long time. People change. All was good.
He got the tour, waved at Leonie when they passed a large window to the pool area. She really seemed so much happier again. Good. No surgery. Thank goodness.
“Hello? Earth to Mr. Cameron…” Michelle cooed.
“I asked you if you wanted to try one of our new smoothies? We’re currently running a promo …”
It was not awkward, and soon he and Leo were at a romantic dinner. And it was even more romantic afterwards. Finally. He had his wife back.
The doorbell rang. It was the gate on the bottom of the driveway. Liam looked at the monitor and saw a car he did not recognize, so he activated the intercom.
“Michelle? Leonie is not here.”
“I know. Can you open the gate? Got some stuff to run by you.”
Liam sighed. What to do? He did not want to talk to her, but if he didn’t, he could make things bad for Leonie, who really seemed to like Michelle. Naturally, she had no clue that he knew her. Or how. Fine, he thought, and buzzed her in.
He watched her park and come towards him, smiling.
The two older kids were in school and the two toddlers down for naps. The cleaning service had already left. The nanny had a day of.
He offered her a coffee, they made it together while talking in the kitchen. It was a light, pleasant conversation. Maybe they both had grown up and were capable of being civil.
Once the coffee was ready they settled down in the living room together. She asked about wedding photos, he got an album out to show her. He felt strange leafing through the album depicting his special day with Leonie with his ex, but tried to blow off the doubts.
When he closed the album and wanted to place it onto the table, he realized he was feeling odd, like in a trance. Almost like drunk. Everything was blurry, his movements felt like in slow motion and sounds seemed oddly muffled. He saw Michelle’s blurry face and realized she was talking to him or asking him something.
“Sorry, Michelle, I don’t know what’s wrong but I … umm….” he slurred, forgetting what he was trying to say when he saw her smile.
“Oh, nothing is wrong. Everything is exactly how it should be.” she smiled, as she started pulling off his shirt, tossing it carelessly behind them. Liam felt too weak to even raise his arms, but tried to get away, which landed him face first on the floor, unable to move. He had to watch her turn him onto his back as she climbed atop him.
The coffee! he thought. She must have spiked his!
“You and I are going to have so much fun. And we’ll take some pretty pictures so you remember WHOM you really want, handsome …” Michelle purred.