Big Girl: A Novel

Chapter 1

Jim Dawson was handsome from the day he was born. He was an only child, tall for his age, had a perfect physique, and was an exceptional athlete as he grew older, and the hub of his parents’ world. They were both in their forties when he was born, and he was a blessing and surprise, after years of trying to have a child. They had given up hope, and then their perfect baby boy appeared. His mother looked at him adoringly as she held him in her arms. His father loved to play ball with him. He was the star of his Little League team, and as he grew older, the girls swooned over him in school. He had dark hair and velvety brown eyes and a pronounced cleft in his chin, like a movie star. He was captain of the football team in college, and no one was surprised when he dated the homecoming queen, a pretty girl whose family had moved to southern California from Atlanta in freshman year. She was petite and slim with hair and eyes as dark as his, and skin like Snow White. She was gentle and soft-spoken and in awe of him. They got engaged the night of graduation and married on Christmas the same year.

Jim had a job in an ad agency by then, and Christine spent the six months after graduation preparing for their wedding. She had gotten her bachelor’s degree, but her only real interest during her four years in college was finding a husband and getting married. And they were a dazzling pair with their flawless all-American good looks. They were a perfect complement to each other and reminded all who saw them of a couple on the cover of a magazine.

Christine had wanted to model after they were married, but Jim wouldn’t hear of it. He had a good job, and made a good salary, and he didn’t want his wife to work. What would people think of him if she did? That he wasn’t able to provide for her? He wanted her at home and waiting for him every night, which was what she did. And people who knew them said they were the best-looking couple they had ever seen.

There was never any question about who wore the pants in the family. Jim made the rules, and Christine was comfortable that way. Her own mother had died when she was very young. And Jim’s mother, whom Christine called Mother Dawson, sang her son’s praises constantly. And Christine readily revered him just as his parents had. He was a good provider, a loving husband, fun to be with, a perfect athlete, and he rose steadily in importance in the ad agency. He was friendly and charming with people, as long as they admired him and didn’t criticize him. But most people had no reason to. Jim was a personable young man, he made friends easily, and he put his wife on a pedestal and took good care of her. All he expected of her was to do as he said, worship and adore him, and let him run the show. Her father had had similar ideas, and she’d been perfectly brought up to be the devoted wife of a man like him. Their life was everything she had hoped for, and more. There were no unpleasant surprises with Jim, no strange behavior, no disappointments. He protected her and took care of her, and provided handsomely. And their relationship worked perfectly for both of them. Each knew their role in the relationship and played by the rules. He