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: 1088
Warnings: Language, Adult Situations, hospital, anger, jealousy, concern, anguish
Summary: Tom’s world falls apart as he begins to see what’s happened without his notice.
Click here for intro to Educating Thalia
A special thanks to @jennphoenix for allowing use of her edits on the cover and in the story! She’s an amazing artist; make sure to check out her work!
Having been dismissed by Thalia’s friend, Jim, Tom charges out of the room ahead of the other man; his work enemy. He can’t even remember why they never got along; it’s almost become a running joke among the staff, but now he has good reason to detest the crass and abrasive man.
Evans wants Thalia as much as he himself does. And sadly, she seems to be just as smitten.
How the fuck-all did it turn to this?
Entering the waiting room a few doors down, Chris catches up behind him, quietly spitting out his words, dripping with hate and venom. “Warrior princess? That makes me sick. Let me guess you have her dress up and you role play all your sick little fantasies from-”
Tom spins on his heels to face the man. In his features close up, Tom sees his hurt and concern despite the calm reserved front he put up in the room for Thalia’s sake. That should knock him down a peg or two, but Tom hurts too, in more ways than one – and dammit he wants someone else to hurt more. “Shut up Evans, I punched you once and I’ll do it again.”
In hushed tones, Chris guffaws, scratching his beard. “Ah, I see… so that’s how it is. You couldn’t get it up for Kent so you resorted to finding students who would obviously do anything-”
“Evans! You will stop now.” A family with a smaller child moves away, possibly fearful of a physical altercation. “That is Thalia you are talking about. You know her. And if you know her as I do, I’d reckon you love her… And I will not let you belittle her like this.”
Seething, he pushes the sleeves up on his red sweater, prepared to come to blows if necessary. Instead, he is met with silence. “What? Nothing to say about that? I’ve left the dumb American speechless?”
Chris collapses in a chair behind him and hangs his head in shame. Tom leans against the wall next to him, crossing his arms over his chest. He can’t believe he so easily bested the boastful son of a bitch that grates on his nerves.
Rubbing his hand over his buzz cut, the seated man quietly replies with an undertone of distaste. “I have nothing to say because you’re right…. Thalia is none of those things… but that damn little submissive thing you seem to have her do… that’s not her. I like it better when she thinks for herself, takes charge.”
The look on Chris’s face sickens Tom as he stretches out his legs in front of him, leaning back in the chair. He closes his mind to any images of Thalia with another man. Tightening his fists, the Brit wants nothing more to beat this man senseless, to knock that smug grin off his face.
“Are you talking as a metaphor for her life rather than what goes on between us? That woman is always in charge; she does everything on her own. She deserves time to allow her brain to slow and let someone else take the wheel and tell her what to do… To not have to make decisions for herself all the time.”
Chris scoffs, turning to look at the thud of a falling soda hitting the bin in the vending machine. Standing up, he faces the tall, slender man. “If that’s your kink… you’re missing out on a lot of other fun.”
His look is pure hatred and Tom’s blood boils that it’s Thalia’s reputation at the root of it. Tom grabs his shoulder and steps into him. “Evans, shut the fuck up before I call security and have you removed from this hospital… or better yet turn Big Jim against you. You’re the one with the collection of students, not me.”
Chris doesn’t even respond to this barb, crossing the room and getting a snack from one of the machines. He sits down on a bank of chairs under the window, the lights of the city glowing in the morning sky.
The tension in the small waiting room is thick and most people have moved out to find other spaces. A good fifteen minutes of silence pass. Tom moves closer, falling into a chair nearby, physically and mentally exhausted from the day’s’ events.
In the quiet between them, Chris finally replies. “None of those stories are true. I only had eyes for my wife, but she obviously didn’t feel the same. She killed me and stomped on my heart. I forgot how to live. If it wasn’t for my daughter I’d have given up, but I was just going through the motions. It wasn’t until I met Thalia that I woke up, began to live again…”
The man’s heartfelt words hang in the air. How fucked has this become?
Tom realizes it was his idea they see other people to take suspicion off themselves. But he’d intended it as a ruse, dutiful pretending. For fuck’s sake, he had never considered losing her to another man…if he’s lost her.
Running his hands over his face before resting them to his forehead, his thoughts roam. He chides himself. How ironic. Here he is, a man who’s been a commitment phobe for years, who made a vow to stick to affairs or simply stay single and bury himself in books… He loves travel, loves reading, loves teaching just as much – so he hasn’t really missed all the dating hype.
Until last year when a certain curvy, genius of a woman turned his life upside down. Thalia has made him question everything, most of all his own desires and dreams.
How is that even possible? Is Thalia ‘the one’ for him?
His head pounds at the thoughts. If she is, why hasn’t he taken the last step and allowed her fully into his life?
And is he ‘the one’ for her too?
A quick glance at his colleague in the chair deepens Tom’s frown. Isn’t Evans’s presence here an answer to the last question? He rubs at the knot of tension at the back of his neck.
He can’t think, can’t make sense of his own jumbled emotions. This is so fucked up it’s beyond his grasp. And no, he definitely shouldn’t ask himself whether what they’ve shared has really been as special to Thalia as it has been to him over these last several months.
Scratching the overnight stubble on his chin, Tom admits to the universe, “She does have that effect on people….”
Click to read Chapter 41 Acceptance
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