A collaboration involving Professor Hiddleston and Professor Evans- The two are rivals at a posh New England university and have no idea they both have taken interest in the lovely Thalia Bareo. She’s a grad student with interests in language and history; a sassy full-figured Puerto Rican girl from Chicago. Story updates are posted on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Word count: 3400
Warnings: Language, Adult Situations, fluff, drinking, discussion of homelessness, thoughts of sexual situations
Summary: Professor Evans seeks solace in a bottle and finds himself in the bar where grad-student Thalia Bareo is finishing her night shift….
Click here to the introduction of Educating Thalia
“Ah, shit,” she mumbles, wiping the counter down. Her grumble catches his attention and he looks up, a smile of recognition dawning across his face. A brief image of the lovely woman before him in a short Tartan plaid skirt quickly romps through his memory. With a slight nod, he runs his fingers across the top of his glass indicating another, and she motions to the other man behind the bar that she’s got this.
“What’s your poison, professor?” The plump latina asks, her accent thick and sultry.
He indicates the tap and looks on as her hand subtly strokes the metal handle before she pulls it down, watching the foamy brew flow into the chilled glass, stopping just before it spills over.
She sets it down with a clink in front of him. “I work all the way out here so I don’t have to put up with the college crowd; what’s your excuse for being at this dive?”
He ponders his response, taking a long sip of the dark hops as it cools down his throat. Even in the dark bar he can see her eyes darken for a moment while she watches the muscles in his neck as he gulps the beverage down. He continues drinking, his eyes on her as a blush rises on her cheeks and her nipples begin to strain against her shirt. She turns away from him, grabbing a bowl of mixed nuts to place in front of him, the heat diminished in her eyes.
He runs his thumb across his bottom lip, gathering the wasted drops off beer and flicks his tongue across the pad of his finger before replying. “I needed to get away from the college crowd too,” he tells her honestly. “Sometimes it’s just too much bullshit, ya know?”
She wipes her hands on her apron, “Man, I hear that. So what is it this time? Johanas and Smythes fighting over offices again, or the library collection refuses to update the check out system for references?” she teases.
He chuckles and takes a handful of nuts, palming them and pushing them into his mouth. “All of the above, and shitty freshmen that can’t write a goddamn sentence to save their lives.”
She laughs and rolls her eyes. “I hear that too. Working as a TA in the language department; I can’t believe what they let in these ivy league doors these days, it’s a disgrace.” Winking, her long lashes close and rest against her freckled cheek while she shares her tease with him. “Kids wasting Daddy’s money, while I gotta work my ass off to get anywhere.”
She turns in a fluid movement to grab a bottle filled with an incandescent blue liquid, and his mind freezes on her use of the word ‘daddy’ and ‘ass’ in the same sentence. From where he sits high on the bar stool, he can admire her rounded backside, in tight jeans with silver stitching on the pockets. Reaching up to grab a bottle on a higher shelf, her shirt rises just enough to see a hint of her beautifully tanned skin. Turning back to the main bar, she blushes lightly and self-consciously pulls her shirt back down. He’s fascinated by watching her work as she mixes up a drink and shoots it smoothly down the wooden countertop and the other bartender catches it.
“Thalia, right?” Chris asks. He knows she works for Hiddleston, but he vaguely remembers her from one of his study groups a year or two ago. How could he forget such a beautiful name for such an alluring woman? “You were in one of my classes, right?”
She nods. “Your Women’s History class? I gave my speech on roles of women in the World War II era while dressed in a USO showgirl outfit?”
Hell yeah. She’d given the speech from memory, save for one notecard she pulled out of her cleavage halfway through the presentation. He’d had such a hard-on the rest of the hour, he had to give her an A just because he couldn’t focus on a damn word she’d said.
“Do you commonly give costumed speeches?” He asks, seeing her differently in the dark bar than he has before as she walks across campus, arms full of books.
Accepting a tip from a leaving customer she smiles brightly. “Nah, I was young and foolish then, and besides, I’d worked really hard to make that outfit for a costume party. I thought I might as well get more good out of it,” she laughs.
He smiles. “Not so foolish now?”
“Grad student. Bills to pay. No time for fun. Between school and workin-”
“Hey!” A voice at the end of the bar barks, “I don’t pay ya to flirt, I pay ya to mix drinks and clean tables. Get to it!”
She drops her eyes. “Sorry. Um, I wasn’t really… “ Shaking her head, she clears her throat. “It was nice talking to you Professor Evans; I owe, I owe, it’s back to work I go.” Humming quietly, she walks away, stopping at the end of the counter to pick up a big gray bucket to use to clean the tables.
He downs two more drinks during her absence, playing on his phone and returning emails. Rolling his shoulders, he stretches his neck from side to side, watching her reflection in the aged mirror in front of him, rather than turning to admire her full figure. Her dark curly hair cascades down her back, skimming just the top of the waist of her jeans. Her tight v-neck tshirt supports a logo for the school team and hugs her tits just right. From the fit, he can tell her bra is just a little too tight, and with each step she has an extra jiggle that makes him hard now. He begins to fantasize about groping her voluptuous breasts from behind as he pounds against her ass. Maybe she would even call him ‘daddy.’
He shakes his head to clear the image. Removing his glasses, he places them on the counter, rubbing his stubble gruffly. Fuck. She’s a student. Even a damn good lay wouldn’t be worth risking his job. And she would be good… He can just sense it about her and that makes his cock twitch in his pants, and at the moment, he rather wishes he hadn’t gone commando after his shower at the gym.
He catches the eye of the other bartender and as if the guy could read his thoughts, Chris drops his head and hides his face in the crook of his elbow, staring into the amber liquid in his glass.
She chats with the other patrons and is obviously friendly with a few of the regulars. When one guy tries to get a little handsy with her, she’s already twisted the man’s arm behind his back before he can jump to her rescue. She gives the man a push and sends him on his way. Chris watches as he scurries out the door.
Returning to her position at the bar, her face brightens when she realizes he’s still there. “It’s late; don’t you need to be getting home?” she asks kindly, adding payments to the cash register and making a few notes.
“To be honest, I had a shit day and don’t wanna be alone,” he scoffs, slightly drunk and words slurred.. “When do you get off… work?” he adds with a wry smile, swishing around what’s left in the bottom of his glass. “Sit with me and have some coffee while I dry out before I drive home?”
He sees her discreetly looking to his hands, possibly admiring their thickness or looking for signs of attachment, so he stretches his fingers to show there’s no wedding ring. She leans into the counter, and pulls the glass from his hands, sitting it on the lower counter in front of her. She rests her elbows on the bar in such a way to push her boobs together to showcase their beauty and whispers, “I got a better plan. My apartment is just across the street.” She twists her head to look at the neon clock on the wall behind her, exposing her graceful neck to him, to look at the time. “How ‘bout some early morning pancakes and some hot coffee before I have to hit the books. Some of us actually prepare before we attend our classes,” she teases.
Chris can’t believe his luck. It’s like an open invitation, but he sees a vulnerability in her too. Her offer is gracious and full of concern over his slightly drunken state. “That’s really nice, but we don’t have to,” he tries to deny his wish to say yes. “The diner on the corner is open.”
She scoffs and rolls her eyes, “And it’s shit. Besides, I really hate going anywhere after work and smelling like an ashtray. I was gonna fix coffee anyway, so it’s no big deal.” The beauty shrugs her shoulders, indicating it really is no trouble.
How can he resist? “Sounds good.” He pulls his wallet out of his back pocket and counts out a few bills to cover his tab. She takes the money and raises her eyebrow at the tip. Handing it back to him, he puts his hands up to stop her.
“Ok, fine,” she huffs. He watches her move over to the end of the bar to open the register and address the other bartender. “It’s slowing down and the tables are clear. I’m outta here.” Counting out her tips for the night, she doesn’t see the scowl on the older man’s face, but Chris catches it as the man turns to glare at him.
He strains to listen to their exchange over the din of the bar. He can’t hear most of it, so he puts his glasses back on; he’s perfected the art of lip reading over the years. Something to do on a slow day during boring staff meetings. He catches the man’s concern for his female counterpart. “What? You’re leaving here with pretty boy? Thalia, what are you doing?”
‘Pretty boy?’ Chris observes her looking around the bar, sweeping her arms wide. Her voice is higher pitched and easier to hear. “You’d rather I leave with one of the other patrons? At least if pretty boy has tats, they’re spelled right. But, Jim, don’t worry, my heart still belongs to you.” She pats his big belly and rises on her toes to kiss his cheek. Chris smiles at the scene.
Untying the apron, she tosses it under the bar. He swears her voice is a bit louder, for his benefit as she continues. “Don’t worry about me. You’ve seen me kick ass around here, you know if he tries something and I’m not interested, I can totally handle myself.”
Their voices drop but Chris continues to read their lips. “You’re interested,” Jim nods towards him.
Thalia turns her brilliant smile to him and he watches her puff out her chest slightly and pull her shoulders back. He returns the look and stands up from his seat, pulling his coat from the empty stool next to him.
She shakes her hair out, a thoughtful expression on her face. “Maybe; I don’t know,” she says to the other bartender. She grabs her coat from the hook and walks around the bar, titling her head to the exit and Chris follows her out, his hand on her lower back.
Outside in the cold, she pulls her collar up to protect her ears and loops her arm in his before stuffing her hands in her pockets. “It’s just across the street; that doorway,” she gestures with her head as she leads him across the street. Fumbling with her keys in the cold, she asks him to step around behind her for a minute. “Hang on just a second; can you hold it open?”
“Sure?” he asks as she steps around the corner of the building and yells something down the alley and he hears a scuffle. He’s surprised when she returns to see another woman with her. “Tina, this is my friend, Chris. He’ll be here tonight too, okay?”
Tina steps inside the warm entrance and mumbles something. Thalia pulls a wrapped sandwich and apple from her pocket and hands it to the woman. “Sleep well, Tina,” she says as the woman shuffles down the hall and disappears under the stairway.
Thalia nods her head up the stairs and starts climbing. Chris steps up beside her and quietly asks, “What was that about?”
Thalia grins and presses her lips closed tightly for a moment. “She has no place to stay. She’s harmless so a few of us let her in the building on cold nights and she sleeps under the stairs.” Stopping at the third landing, she halts in front of the door on the right and unlocks it. “I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve offered her my couch.” She shakes her head, her hair falling around her shoulders. “But she always says no. About once a week I am able to convince her to come up for a shower and we have hot tea.”
Chris is blown away by her generosity. “You have a habit of taking in strays? Me? Tina? What do you two talk about?”
The door open, she motions for him to enter and reaches around and flicks the light switch. He’s struck by the chill in the air, but the light casts a warm glow around the small space. She places the keys on a side table and rubs her hands together for warmth. “Wanna sit at the table? You might wanna keep your coat on. It’ll take a while for the place to warm up.” She moves to the radiator and clangs on it a few times with a metal wrench and Chris immediately remembers his days as a poor grad student too. He bites back his laughter at the expression on her face, when she bangs it again and curses in Spanish before it rattles to life.
Crossing to the kitchen, she lays her gloves on the counter, and fills a kettle with water before adding it to the machine and settling it in its spot. “She tells me about her life before she lost it all; her husband and son were killed in a car accident, and she just gave up after that.” She reaches to her left and pulls out a coffee filter and grounds, measuring and adding it as well. She pushes the orange button and the coffee maker makes a quiet hiss as it begins to do its job.
He watches as she moves about the kitchen and instantly feels at home in her space. Funny. That’s a feeling he hasn’t had in months. He looks around as she talks a little more about Tina and straightens the counters, maybe a little embarrassed a guest is seeing it in a messed up state. She halts when she realizes he’s watching and giggles. “Sorry. Habit. I’m not used to having guests, and it’s a mess.” She hands him a tin of cookies from above the stove and places two mugs on the table. “So, listen. Can you finish up the coffee? If I have to smell like that bar for five more minutes, I might scream.” She pulls a strand of hair to her nose and inhales. She drops it in disgust and makes a stink face. “It’s just awful; in my hair, on my clothes; on my skin. I hate it. And my hands? I think they always smell like beer.”
She’s standing just close enough that he reaches to grab one of her hands and brings it to his face, brushing his nose against her palm. Breathing deeply, the smell is strong, but she’s just left work. “Occupational hazard?” he teases as he gently caresses the back of her hand with his thumb, enjoying the soft feel of her skin, afraid to lift his eyes to hers.
Clearing her throat, Thalia pulls her hand away slowly but the catch in her breath is audible and seems to echo in the silence between them. Quietly she tells him, “If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to shower. I won’t be long. Make yourself at home.”
She rushes from the room quickly and enters through a closed door. A few moments later, she comes out and rounds the corner and passes into another room with an armload of clothes. He hears the turn of the lock. As he makes his coffee, he tries not to imagine her naked and wet in the shower, but the thought jumps into his mind anyway. Adding sugar, he visualizes the rivulets of water running across her hills and valleys as she soaps away a long night at work. If he were there with her, he’d follow the wetness all over her curves, with his fingers and his tongue. He’d… Shit, he probably shouldn’t be thinking this.
Chuckling at the sound of her humming, he tries to identify the song he’s heard on the radio as he reaches to the fridge for creamer. On the door, he sees a recent application for paperwork to travel overseas and sees her birthdate, during the week of finals She just turned twenty-five. Pushing his glasses up, he rubs his forehead. Twenty-five. Fuck. Is that too young? She’s a grad student. He shrugs his shoulders. Not a student in his department. What’s the harm there?
Sipping his coffee, he walks around the tiny space. On the bookshelf are photos of friends and family… A notice from a funeral she attended a few months back. Books are piled everywhere. Lots of little trinkets from tourist destinations across Europe.
The radiator is slowly warming the room, with a slight chill still hanging in the air. He removes his coat and hangs it over the back of the chair before sitting on the couch and pulling the soft blue blanket around him. The furniture is nice and newer, not typical college student decor. He sinks back against the sueded fabric and settles in as the water shuts off. Again, trying to shut out any thoughts of her naked behind the closed door, he pulls out his phone and checks for any updated messages. Seeing none, he scowls at the screen, jumping a bit when the door creaks open.
“Hey,” she says quietly as a waft of orchids from her bath soaps float from the room. Her long curly hair is wrapped in a towel perched precariously on her head.
Damn, that’s really sexy, he thinks. How do girls do that? He smiles at her, in a pink polka dotted robe, tied loosely over a tank top and plaid pajama shorts. When she walks to the kitchen, the robe splits open and he catches sight of the way her thighs sensually rub against one another as she moves. “Hey,” he responds. “I didn’t know how you take your coffee so I just uh, didn’t fix it.”
She giggles. “Strong and bold, with a little sugar. Like my men,” she laughs and the sound is so joyous, he joins in the mirth. Moving elegantly she seems comfortable in her skin. Chris likes that about her right away. She doesn’t seem phased by his presence or uncomfortable to be in her pjs in front of someone she barely knows. As she fixes her coffee, he asks her a few more questions about Tina, her work at the bar and the memorabilia from her obvious travels.
“Ya know, Thalia, I always got the impression you didn’t like me,” he boldly states.
She settles at the end of the couch and tugs the robe around her middle. He can see her carefully considering her words. “You’re the type of man girls like me are taught to stay away from.”
A slow grin crosses his face, “Oh really? And what type is that?”
“Handsome and self-assured? But, I don’t know? Tonight you seemed- a little broken. Like you needed someone just to be nice to you. I can do that. I can be nice.”
He wonders how nice she could be; how nice it would be to run his fingers through her hair; how nice to slide between her legs; how nice-
He clears his throat and takes another sip of his coffee.
Click here to Chapter 15 Stay
Story updates are posted on Wednesdays and Sundays.
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