Christmas in NYC
Collaboration by avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando
It’s TRUE! @devikafernando and @avenger-nerd-mom are working on a SEQUEL for Educating Thalia, involving Professor Hiddleston and Professor Evans! The two rivals are still vying for their right to claim the lovely Thalia Bareo. The sassy full-figured Puerto Rican girl from Chicago is all grown up now, holding down a job in Paris, continuing her studies and freelancing as a consultant for museums around the world.
To kick off the premiere of the sequel, Being Thalia, we’ll take a look at Christmas vacations Thalia’s shared with her men in the last two years since her graduation.
A Christmas one-shot, featuring Thalia and Tom in Munich, is posted below and the story with Chris in NYC will post December 23. The series premiere is slated for January 2, 2019!
Warning: This work contains adult content. If you proceed you have agreed that you are willing to see such content.
Thalia comes to Chris’s rescue when she finds out he will be all alone for Christmas
Word Count: 6888
The Lyft ride pulls up to the curb of the hotel and she sees him standing there, stamping his feet in the cold, his hands shoved deep in his pockets. Home. She’s home and her body vibrates with every breath, a joyous contentment rushing through her body. “Stop here and let me out,” she says to the driver. Thalia’s hands shake with nervous excitement as she points to the spot. She expresses her gratitude to the driver as a concierge rushes over to take her bag and she exits the car quickly, poised to tap her phone to send the payment.
The dark haired beauty nods to the hotel attendant and he disappears inside with her things.
Pulling her wool coat down and adjusting her signature pink scarf, she shakes her hair back, inhaling deeply, readying herself to see him face to face again.
“Hey, you,” Thalia calls warmly, her voice a bit shaky, inviting him to turn to look at her.
He spins on his heels, righting himself quickly. “Hi,” he whispers, the sound not quite carrying to her ears. God, he looks so handsome! The wave of love rolling off him barrels towards her down the sidewalk as she quickly bridges the gap between them. His sad, puppy dog look is immediately replaced with love and awe and she already feels wrapped in his love.
His love. “Tell your expressive eyebrows to shut up.” She laughs, happy tears streaking her face. “They’re already screaming at me.”
Shrugging his shoulders, he reaches out for her, wrapping his arms around her thick waist. Her heart soars when she feels his hands clasp together, reaching all around despite her bulky winter clothes. Suddenly, all her troubles disappear. Work? Forgotten. Responsibilities? Forgotten. Everything is forgotten, except for him.
He chuckles, his own eyes misty with tears. He purposely quirks his eyebrow, replying, “I have no control over them. They speak whatever truth they know.”
Pushing herself against him, she lifts to her tiptoes, her arms wrapped around his neck. “Merry Christmas!”
“Stop talking and kiss me,” he commands, his voice deep and reassuring. “It’s been too long.”
His lips press softly against hers, his beard scratchy and ticklish. Melting into him, she parts her mouth, accepting his tongue to tease hers. Their kisses are salty from their tears, his mouth cold from standing on the brightly lit sidewalk, waiting for her. Hers turns up into a smile. Pulling back, she takes in his strong features, brushing her gloved hand over his cheek. “It’s only been about eight weeks,” she giggles.
“Sixty-seven days, but who’s counting?” He chuckles, pulling her closer, his hands roaming over her back, warming her up, and cupping under her ass.
Oblivious to the crowds bustling around them, holiday shoppers running last minute errands, the two continue their kisses, reacquainting their lips.
Two days later, Thalia stretches lazily, rolling over onto her hip. Throwing her arm out, she feels around on the empty bed. Shaking her head, she furrows her brow. It wasn’t a dream. It couldn’t have been. The best Christmas Eve sex ever couldn’t have just been a dream, could it? Her thoughts are a bit hazy from the amount of alcohol she’d had the night before, spending Christmas Eve with aunts and uncles, cousins she hadn’t seen in years.
She swallows hard, her throat raw. From the cold? Skating at Rockefeller Center till the late hours, or from the… She blushes, thinking about the enthusiastic sex she and Chris shared hours before, after returning to the hotel from Midnight Mass. It wasn’t a dream. The bruise around her wrist is too real, and she smiles up at the red ribbon still tied to the bedpost. Pushing thoughts of ribbons and last Christmas, a very different holiday in Munich, from her mind, she pulls on the satin sash till it falls on the bed next to her. She sighs, remembering how disappointed Tom was when she announced she was visiting her parents, alone. But she couldn’t leave Chris alone, not this Christmas, and she did her best to avoid an argument with Tom. The precarious situation had become a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ type thing between her and her men. It was getting harder and harder on her heart to make a decision, but she didn’t mind wracking up the airline miles. Both men kept her happy, and she craves their love and attention. Very satisfied, she thinks to herself, looking to the shiny red restraint.
Thalia swallows again, stretching like a feline and practically purring. She hears his soft chuckle echoing from the other room in the suite. Thalia reaches into the nearest box strewn across the floor, grabbing the nightshirt and cute socks he’d given her last night. Pulling them up over her knees, she pads out softly to the dimly lit room.
Seeing her string along the ribbon as she enters the room, his face lights up and he holds up his hand to quiet her.
“Yes, honey. That’s amazing! I’m glad Roger is taking time to teach you to ski,” he rolls his eyes. “You be careful okay? Could you imagine if you had to go back to school on crutches- No, no I don’t know what else Santa brought you, tell me.”
Thalia walks to the kitchenette, smiling at the pot of coffee already brewing and the tin from the cookie shop she and Chris found while exploring. Pulling up on the lid, she breaks off a piece of the Kitchen Sink Bar from Schmackary’s and rests it on a napkin. Pouring a cup, she nods to Chris. He shakes his head no, pointing to his mug on the side table, precariously balanced on a stack of folders. Opening the mini-fridge for milk and creamer, she sighs and mumbles to herself, “Grading papers on Christmas Day. This is our vacation, man!”
She looks over her shoulder when he lets out a low whistle. She shakes her ass, showing him her panties with Christmas lights all over them. They match the boxers she gifted him last night. He chuckles, and continues talking to Avery. Her heart aches for him, knowing he’s trying to keep himself together. Although so handsome perched in the chair, already dressed for the day in a festive sweater and slacks, his face shows his raw, beaten emotions. The man is tired.
She remembers their frantic calls as he tried to decide what was right for Avery. He’d been so upset when his ex-wife’s new boyfriend wanted to whisk them away for the holiday. Still somewhat friendly, the two adults had agreed as part of their shared custody to spend Christmases together while Avery was still young, believing in Santa. It’s his first holiday since the divorce without his daughter, the first in her little life they aren’t together, and Thalia can see it’s killing him. His pain is a palpable beat, echoing in the room, bouncing off the walls and slamming into her. She sighs, warring against the feeling so it doesn’t bring her down with it. Her number one goal for the next four days is to keep his spirits lifted until Avery joins them in the city to celebrate the new year.
“You wanna talk to Thalia?” She lifts her head at the sound of her name, her hand hovering over the coffee cup, ready to dunk in the breakfast bar. “Oh, ok. Well, you have fun then!” She completes the dunk and nibbles on the bar quietly as he finishes his call. “I’ll tell her and you can call back later to talk to her. Yes, we both miss you.” His eyes shine with tears. “Bundle up warm and take lots of pictures to send me, okay, Bug?” He nods his head, his eyes filling with tears. “You too, sweetheart. Merry Christmas. I’ll see you at the end of the week.”
Ending the call, he drops the phone on the table and rubs his hand over his face, wiping at his eyes and smoothing out his beard. Thalia finishes chewing quickly and wipes her hand on a napkin. She waits, giving him his moment of grief, her own heart aching. When he sniffles, she asks quietly, “Wanna talk about it?”
He clears his throat and rests his head back against the chair. “The guy proposed to her last night. He’s gonna be Avery’s stepdad.”
“Oh, shit,” she whispers stepping around the counter, moving closer as he runs his hand over his thigh.
“And I’m gonna have to share her more, and get used to her having a complete family-”
“Chris, don’t be silly. She’s already got a complete family, even if you don’t live in the same house. She’s got amazing aunts and a crazy uncle, a doting grandmother… And me. She’ll always have me. And no one can ever replace you as her father. Daddys are special.” She smirks when he snorts as the movement along his thigh becomes more of a pat, inviting her to join him. “Just because your ex remarries doesn’t mean you’ll lose Avery. And she knows you’ve always been there.”
“I’ve never taken her skiing-”
“No. You’ve taken her to Disney and Paris and on archeology sites, museums and college campuses. What’s tying two sticks to your feet compared to all that? You’re just wanting to sink in it. But I’m not going to let you.” She steps closer, her socks sliding on the polished hardwood floors.
His hand rests on his thigh, licking his lip. “What are you gonna do about it?”
Thalia crouches low and makes a run towards him and the chair, his eyes wide, arms open to catch her. She stops short enough to slide up next to him in her socks. Wrapping her arm around the back of his neck, she sits on his lap. “Didn’t think the old chair could take my weight,” she smiles.
“I’d brace the impact,” he says with a chuckle, wrapping his arm around her waist and grabbing around her knees when she settles in against him. “I’ve always got you, Niña.”
She nods her head to the stack of papers as he lazily drags his hands over her thigh. “I thought we said ‘no work?’ It’s Christmas Day!” She kisses the tip of his nose. “Merry Christmas.”
He grips her hip tighter. “Merry Christmas, Thalia. Thanks for not letting me wallow in my sadness… Being here with you, the best present.”
“Totally agree,” she whispers, sighing contentedly from the gentle caress of his fingertips over her dimpled thighs.
Lifting her hand to scratch his jaw, his gaze flickers to her wrist. “Oh, shit, honey,” he murmurs, taking hers in his, twisting her arm and raising the bruised wrist to his lips. He ghosts his lips over the tender skin carefully, blowing cool air over the red flesh. “I hurt you, I’m sorry.”
Thalia blushes, wiggling down in his lap. “I don’t mind… “ She shrugs. “A little pain’s okay.” She presses her wrist to his ripe pink lips and he kisses the tender spot sweetly. “I like it when you’re kinda rough, I can take it. You know that, you can’t break me, and you’re always so sweet after.”
“Like right now?” he murmurs, the vibration against her pulse causing her personal heat to rise. His lips continue to bite and nibble up her arm.
“Mmm… damn that feels nice,” she giggles, as his other hand slides over the silly printed panties.
Feeling her warmth, he groans, nuzzling his face into her wild morning hair. “Not as sweet as you’re gonna taste in about five minutes when I get you back in that-”
They jump at the pounding on the door, followed by shouts of “Merry Christmas!” and “¡Feliz Navidad!”
“Yeah,” he chuckles against her ear, stretching the word out. Still holding her, he stands up before gently setting her to the floor. He turns her in the direction of the bedroom, and gives a little push, smacking her ass as she walks away. “Get dressed. I’ll stall ‘em.”
From behind the closed bedroom door, she can hear him greeting her family. “What a wonderful surprise! We weren’t expecting you so early! ¡Feliz Navidad!”
She chuckles as she grabs her clothes and dashes into the bathroom.
Leaning his head back on the cushioned seat, Chris rolls his face to the side and sees there isn’t anyone else around. “Niña,” he calls out, “how much longer are you gonna be?”
Her string of curses slide out from behind one of the red curtains. “Shit! Chris, can you come over here? The zipper is stuck.”
Shaking his head in amusement, he rises from the chair, picking up their shopping bags. “Which one are you in?”
All the fitting rooms look the same until her hand waves out from one at the end of the hallway. Chris looks over his shoulder, seeing a clerk assisting other shoppers on the sales floor, but the fitting room area is relatively empty. A quiet, secluded spot amid the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holidays in New York City? His grin devilishly lights up his face and he licks his lip. Reaching the curtain, he sits the bags at his feet and runs his fingers down the lush velvet drapes. “It’s gonna cost you,” he teases, his heart pounding in his chest.
“It sure is! This leather skirt you picked out is over $200 bucks and-”
“That’s not what I meant, Thalia,” his voice drops. He pushes the bags under the curtain with his foot, and checks one more time before sliding into the fitting room with her. He bites his tongue, trying not to laugh at her, shirt hanging from her waist, stuck in the zipper, her lush tits ready to pop out of the black lace bra she wears. “Well, this is quite a situation you have here, love.”
Her eyes are welled with tears. “We’re meeting up with my parents later for lunch, and I’m stuck here. Help, Chris.”
She still hasn’t realized how funny this is or how he intends to help. “Sweetheart, just relax,” he says, running his hand down her arm, squeezing the tips of her fingers. The thought cemented in his mind, he’s full of bravado and calm. “Turn around and I’ll help you.”
She turns to face away from him, and he can see every inch of her in the three way mirror filling up the corner of the dimly lit space. “It’s gorgeous on you. Hugs every curve,” he compliments her, running his hand down over her hip, smoothing the soft leather, landing just above her knees. She never believes him, but her size, her full, round curves are a part of her appeal, like a siren’s call.
“Not really something I can wear for work, Chris,” she sniffles. “It’s a ridiculous expense. Can you get it unstuck?”
Resting back on the little bench in the room, his hand still on her thigh, he pulls her back to him, leaning in for a better look at the zipper. Easy fix. The sheer fabric hem of her shirt is caught in the metal teeth of the lovely leather skirt, but it won’t be a problem. “I don’t know, babe,” he replies, fully knowing he can fix it.
Feeling slightly guilty at the plan formed in his head, he lifts his left hand, and his fingers brush against the small of her back. Chris tugs carefully at the zipper, careful not to rip her shirt. With his right hand, he curves his hand around her leg, lazily reaching under the skirt and gripping her thigh. He’s not at fault, he can’t help himself. His wickedly sexy girlfriend is standing in front of him, in a lace bra, a leather skirt, and boots, and she’s purely helpless.
He leans forward, kissing the small of her back. Thalia sucks in her breath, her head lifting up and catching his gaze in one of the side mirrors. “No,” she quietly whispers, her eyes wide.
His kisses continue across her lower back, along the waistband of the skirt, till he reaches her hip, where he bites her tender flesh. “Mmhm,” he hums, his hand sliding higher under the skirt, pushing her legs apart. She rocks on her heels and follows his direction.
“This is the cost you meant, oh, you asshole!”
He quietly clucks his tongue. “Can you blame me? Look at yourself. Open your eyes and really look. You’re fuckin’ gorgeous, Thalia. A model.” He ignores her snicker of derision as his fingers glide higher, fluttering against her thighs, brushing against the matching silk and lace panties. He bites his lip, turned on by her gasp, watching her breasts heave with excitement. His cock hardens and strains against his tight jeans. “So beautiful, lush. I wanna lick every inch of your body.”
To prove his point, he pushes the scanty fabric aside and dips his finger in her well, pulling out her wet and teasing her lips. She involuntarily pushes against his hand, yet whispers, “Not here, Chris, no.”
With a wicked grin, he pulls his hand out from under her skirt and raises it to his mouth, drawing in the succulent taste of her right off his fingers. He happily sighs and gently tugs on the zipper, freeing her shirt to fall to the ground. She takes a deep breath. “Too tight?” he chuckles.
“A little, but they didn’t have my size.” She shakes her head, frowning at his reflection in the mirror as he begins pushing the skirt up her thighs, bunching it around her waist. “Chris! We’re in public. After Christmas shoppers. What if we get caught?”
“We won’t get caught if you’re quiet,” he taunts, pushing her panties aside and spreading her open in front of the mirror. He admires the gentle folds of her lips, caressing over her smoothly shaved pussy. “Beautiful. My favorite color. Did you know it changes the more excited you get?”
His smoky voice fills the air and rather than dropping her head to watch his hands, she leans back, staring up at the ceiling, her legs already quaking and he’s barely touched her. Chris confidently wraps his arm around her waist, moving forward on the bench seat and pulling her to him, supporting her against his chest as his fingers slowly slide in and out of her hot, wet cavern, occasionally flicking against her hooded clit. She throws her arm to the side and braces herself against the mirror and with her other hand, grabs behind her, pulling up on his sweater at the shoulder, twisting it between her fingers. The fitting room is hot and small, Christmas carols still playing on the loudspeakers throughout the store, drowning out her occasional whimpers.
“Evans, you can’t just finger me and think,” she gasps when he pinches her tender bundle of nerves, falling forward, weak in the knees. She sucks in her breath. “You can’t think that’s a fair game. You have to be more of an active participant.”
Looking up into the mirror as his fingers dig in deeper, they lock eyes. A twisted smile brightens her face and she flicks out her tongue to lick her lips. Releasing his sweater, she slides her hands down his chest, reaching for the bulge practically throbbing under her hand. She fumbles with his belt while his fingers continue their caress of her inner walls, bringing her high, almost to her peak before changing his pace.
He chuckles, leaning forward and resting his lips against the small triangle of satin covering her ass. “Already working for top spot on the Naughty List next year?” He moves her hand away and begins to unbuckle his pants.
“If we’re gonna get arrested, might as well do it right.” Her eyes gleam. His eyes never leave her reflection, his gaze dropping to her hand squeezing and pulling her breast, teasing her fingers over the lacey cup. The nipple underneath pops up and Chris wants to grab it between his teeth. “Uh, uh, uhn…” she clucks quietly.
Wondering about the soundproofing of the tiny fitting room, he listens for other customers, realizing a clerk hasn’t been back in ages to check on them. “What makes you think we’ll get caught?”
Feeling the tip of his head against her rim, she slides on his stiff cock, spreading her juices before pushing back on him, sinking around him. He grunts and she giggles. “You make more noise than I do.”
She’s not wrong. He loves it when she’s confident, demanding, in charge. It’s such a turn on for him, and he can’t deny it makes him feel powerful to bring out this side of her personality. With his hand on her hip, he thrusts in and out as she rolls against him. In the mirror, he can see her flush, her freckles popping under her blushing skin, the flutter of her pulse at her neck. She spreads her legs further apart and he steps in closer to her as she drops her head and grasps the mirror with both hands for support.
His hand pushes down on her back, sliding up her spine and grabbing her braid, twisting it in his hand. The squishy sound of his cock plunging in her juices, soaking him, fills his ears, as does the tightness in her breath as she holds in her whimpers and whines. Each time he pulls away, she slams back on his cock, pushing him balls deep, skin slapping against skin. Each thrust sends pulses of delight rippling through his veins, strengthening him, as a deep guttural groan escapes his throat. God, how much he’s missed her! She tenses with every drag of his dick in and out, the head hitting against a particularly sensitive spot. His breath is hot against her neck and he smiles at the peppermint scent, remnants of the candy canes he’s sucked on all morning. Her knuckles whitten as she grips the edge of the mirror tighter, dropping one hand to flick across her clit. Her nails dragging across his sliding cock elicits another gasp from him.
“So close,” she whispers, her voice dripping with need.
He gently tugs her hair, lifting her head higher to look at him in the mirror, a sheen of sweat along her hairline, little curls popping free from their hold. His hand slides down over her belly, resting at the cusp of her mound. “You can do it,” he cheers, speeding up his thrusts as her hand vigorously punishes her exposed clit.
Through gritted teeth, she pants. “No, I can’t. Help me,” she whines. “It’s not enough.”
Sliding his hand down over hers, he pushes down on her fingers, adding more pressure against her clit. Her thighs tremble as her orgasm builds and he can feel the electricity flow through her as she comes, a wave of pleasure that knocks him backwards onto the bench. He doesn’t lose his connection with her as she falls into his lap and he continues thrusting upwards, pounding her sopping pussy as her slick washes over their hands. Her head rolls back against his shoulder and he can see pure bliss on her face, the tension leaving her body. He hears her mumble something, but can’t make out the words. Down from her high, her hands still and he slows, settling under her.
“A+, Professor Evans,” she critiques, “Attacked with gusto, completed in-”
“C-, Miss Bareo,” he chuckles in her ear, washing away the salty sweat on her neck with his tongue. “The task is incomplete,” he whispers as he slides out of her. He shakes his head at her look of confusion. “I’m not satisfied with the conclusion.”
“Oh, well, I guess I need to put in some extra credit then, don’t I, Sir?”
He shakes his head, fisting the leather skirt in his hand. “Hate that, it sounds so pompous.” He blocks all negative thoughts from his mind concerning her and that… that word. “‘Professor’ will do,” he chuckles darkly as she rolls her eyes.
Standing quickly, Thalia shimmies out of the offending article of clothing, kicking it to the side. She peeks out the curtain and smiles to a customer entering a room across the hallway. She puts her hands to her lips, motioning for him to be quiet as he slides a condom over his glistening cock. Her hair falls from it’s braid, wild curls sticking out around her head. Her chocolate brown eyes are blown black from lust. Her swollen lips are a bright pink, begging for more kisses. Chris loves knowing she’s so undone and he’s the cause of it. He grins when she looks down on him as though she’s famished and he’s the only meal she’s had in weeks.
The dark haired beauty straddles him, lining herself with his stiff rod. His eyes roll back as her hands wrap around his girth, sliding the tip of his head in her waiting slick. She drips down over him, and he can’t wait to be engulfed in her heat again. “Fuck me, Thalia,” he moans quietly, pushing down on her shoulders, impaling her in one slow thrust.
He pulls his sweater back, away from their mess and exposes his tummy as she grinds up and down on him, teasing and tugging at the little hairs on his lower belly. She rocks back and forth, pushing her endowments in front of him. Chris buries his face in her chest, wishing there was more time to rip her free from her bra. Again, she mumbles something he can’t hear and he smiles when she gasps as he latches onto her nipple, covered by the delicate lace. A loud sigh is pushed out of her as he thrusts up into her repeatedly. His large hand moves up her throat, squeezing gently before covering her mouth, the other continuing to hold her breast in place as he lathes and suckles her nipple, soaking the fabric.
Thalia shifts and drops her weight on him, pinning him to the bench and taking control. Her force and determination rattle him and his head thumps back against the wall. She leans forward, rubbing her clit against the base of his cock, pulling him in deeper.
Resting his head in the crook of her neck, he bites and sucks her flesh, anything to keep from making a sound. Bottomed out in this position, the pain of it so fucking good when she clutches his shoulders, rolling and twisting her hips to feel him right where she wants him. Chris drops his hands to her hips, guiding her into the rhythm they both need: long, slow strokes, her body rising all the way up until he almost slips free, then back down again. Her hips pick up speed until he swears under his breath.
“That’s it babe. Make yourself come all over my cock. So fucking good…”
She stills and looks down at him. Chris holds back a laugh and shakes his head. They both hear a rumble in reply, a series of small squeaks and a mirror rattling a few doors down. Her eyes open wide as he pulls her down against him, grinding her against his cock. The panting sounds of another couple fucking just a few feet away fill their space. Chris pulls Thalia’s mouth to his, whispering, “Ignore it. Come for me.” He kisses her with reckless abandon, trying to keep her in their moment.
The spell broken, he watches her teeter on the edge. She shakes her head, afraid she’s losing her momentum, but he wraps his hands behind her back, holding her heavy form and leaning her down towards the floor. Taking her offered nipple between his teeth, he clamps down with a tender bite and thrusts into her. She arches her back, pushing her chest to him. He shakes his head back and forth, his beard scraping her chest, pulling at the covered nipple, delighting at the small tear of fabric and her free flesh. He sucks harder, pushing into her as she holds tightly around his neck, biting into his sweater covered shoulder. The sounds of the other couple climaxing stirs him, turning him on even more than he imagined possible.
He can feel her pulsing around him, tightening and convulsing. Holding her tight, he pulls out and pushes in again, flicking his tongue over her exposed nipple, rolling it around. She bucks against him, her cries muffled into his sweater.
Getting a second wind, he stands tall, shifting her weight, resting one booted heel on the ground and one on the bench. She smiles at him lazily and nods her okay as he pumps into her faster, harder, pulling her down on his cock, her juices soaking them. He begins to unravel, pushing into her as fast as he can, spurting and filling the condom. Chris collapses against the wall and she leans against him, affectionately kissing him-
“Excuse me,” a pinched voice rings through the air. “You’ll need to exit the fitting rooms immediately. This is inappropriate behavior and you need to leave the premises before we call the police.”
Chris chokes on his laughter as Thalia’s eyes grow huge. He shakes his head, putting his finger to her lips. A commotion ensues down the hallway, and Chris quietly cleans them up with a t-shirt they purchased in another store, wadding it back up and putting it down in a bag. Thalia bites her lip to keep from laughing as they listen to two employees.
“When was the last time you checked the fitting rooms, Jessica? They’re a mess! And that couple was obviously fucking. Go get the the bleach spray and cleaners. You’re responsible!”
“Everyone was swiping up bargains, no one’s been back here to try on clothes.”
“No!” The older woman shouts. “They’ve been back here fucking! You’ll need to clean all the rooms.”
Dressed, hiding her guilty face, Thalia slides from the room unnoticed, items to be purchased in her hands. “Great bargains ladies,” she says when they turn to look at her. “Thank you for providing a wonderful shopping experience.”
A few minutes later, Chris meets her at the checkout counter with a few more items, including the leather skirt. “Don’t wanna forget this… All on my card, please,” he says to the clerk as he hands her the plastic. “Money well spent, don’t you think?” He winks at Thalia, playfully slapping her ass as she turns away from him, moving to wait for him at the door.
On the busy sidewalk, she wraps a scarf around his neck, shaking her head. “Is that off the little sex-list now? Exhibitionism, check! Voyeurism, check!”
“Oh, my God, Thalia! Were you as turned on by that woman’s whines as I was, that was fuckin’ hot!” His cheeks are still flushed from excitement.
She throws her head back and laughs, hitting against his chest. “Shit, what a fuckin’ perv you are!”
“Come on, how lucky was that? We coulda been caught, if it wasn’t for that couple. That was awesome.” He fist pumps the air while she shakes her head at him. “And you weren’t the person I kept hearing, it was her, wasn’t it? She kept talking, but-” Reading Thalia’s expression, he rolls his eyes. “Fine, yes. It’s off the list. I mean, not totally. Do we have a list? Like an official list, cuz there’s a few things we haven’t done yet, that I’d like to try, so-”
Laughing she motions for a cab. “Come on. Stacey got last minute tickets this afternoon and they went to see the Rockettes, so we have time to take our things back to the hotel. I could use a hot shower and clean up and-”
Opening the door for her when a cab pulls to the curb, Chris laughs. “A shower sounds good. I’ll join you,” he whispers in her ear as he pinches her ass while she crawls into the car.
“I’m really sorry that we’ll leave town before your daughter arrives, Chris. We were hoping to get to meet her,” Stacey smiles, resting her fork on the side of her plate. “I hope you don’t mind, but we picked up a few little things for her, as a gift. You said she liked sketching, and I found a little gift set with a sketch pad and pencils.”
Gulping his drink down, Chris rests his glass on the table. “You didn’t have to do that, that’s very kind of you Stacey.” He smiles hopefully at Thalia. “Maybe this summer, when Thalia visits, we can get out to Chicago. Avery’s always wanted to see Sue at Field Museum. She’s fascinated by archeology right now-” He laughs when Thalia mumbles, ‘I have no idea why,” and continues, “and I’ve been craving Portillo’s since the last time I was in Chicago, so-”
Everyone at the table jumps when Carlos Bareo thumps his fist down on the table. “You won’t come visit; she’s still with that other man, don’t fill your head with lies. Hombre, don’t you have the cajones to put a stop to this nonsense?”
Thalia shrieks in astonishment, “Dad, stop! We’re in public!” She looks around, grateful to see the quiet roar of the room drowns out her father’s outburst. From the side of her, she watches Chris grip his napkin, wadding it up in his first, but she’s too embarrassed to look at him.
“No, no I won’t,” he gestures wildly, his accent tired and thick. “I won’t ignore the elephant sitting in the middle of the table.” He shifts in his seat, looking sideways to his daughter, as if peering around the creature and pointing to Chris in the seat next to her. “He’s the one I’d pick for you, mija, a stable, hard-working man. A family man. Not someone with his head in the clouds and a stick up his ass.”
Thalia shouts, “Papá!” as Stacey places her hand on the man’s arm, calming him with his name, softly worded on her lips. “Carlos, it’s not for us to say.”
Rage rolls through her body. She hisses quietly. “Dad, it’s none of your damn business what I decide to do with my life. I have a good job, I make good money, I travel.” She avoids Chris’s stare. “I’m loved, and I’m happy. It’s not for you to decide if it’s right or wrong. You want me to be like Mom and just take off, leaving-”
Clearing his throat, Chris interrupts. “Carlos, I’ve gotten used to that elephant.” He gestures to the center of the table. “I’ll be the first to admit it’s not an ideal situation. I don’t like the idea of… of another man in Thalia’s life anymore than you do, but our ‘arrangement,’” he states, using air quotes, “allows her to live the life she wants. It lets me do what I need to do as well. I can’t just take off, and leave my daughter. So we have these stolen moments, like this holiday here with you both, and we can forget the outside world for a few days. And it’s enough. It’s enough till-”
“It’s not. It’s no good. You need to stop this,” Carlos rounds on Chris. “Marry her, and put an end to this. Take care of her.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Papá. I don’t need to get married to be cared for, or to have someone look after me-”
“Marry her,” Carlos demands.
Defeated, Chris folds his hands in his lap. “I’ve asked, Sir. I can’t make her-”
“Dammit,” Thalia pushes her chair back, stunned by this whole exchange and the anger filling her. “This isn’t 1952, with me in heels and pearls, needing to vacuum shit all day, waiting for a man to get home to make decisions. Fuck it, I’m out.” She stands. “Sorry, Stacey.” Turning to Chris, she drops her voice, “I’m really sorry. I just need to get some fresh air, alright? I’ll see you back at the hotel later.”
Chris watches her leave, unsure of what to do next. Lifting the napkin from his lap, he sighs deeply and lays it next to his plate.
“Son, I’m sorry. That was rude of me.” The older man clears his throat, followed by a hacking cough. He takes a drink and catches his breath. “I’m sick. She doesn’t know yet. I want more information before I tell her.” The man’s voice chokes. “I just want to know she’s in good hands.”
Somberly, Chris nods his head. “I know where to find her.” Reaching inside his suit coat, he extracts his wallet, leaving enough cash to cover the bill. “You raised an independent one… You should be proud of her, Sir. She’s in the top of her field, so many opportunities ahead of her. It’s not in me to tie her down, to hold her back.” He bows his head, images from the night before flooding his mind’s eye, tied to the bed, denying her orgasms. He rises from the table, hoping his blush and his memories aren’t written on his face for her parents to see. “This is the sacrifice I make, to love her. She’s right, it’s not for you to understand, but you have to leave her be.” He pats the old man’s shoulder and tilts his head towards her stepmother. “We’ll see you two at breakfast tomorrow, before we take you to the airport.”
A cup of hot chocolate thrust in her face, she looks over her shoulder as she takes it in her gloved hands. “How’d you find me?”
Walking around the bench, he motions with his cup to the open space beside her. She waves her arm to the side, inviting him to sit.
He looks to the grand building in front of them. “It’s New York.” He tilts his chin up. “You always said you wondered if the exhibits come to life.”
Thalia pushes against his shoulder, staring up at the Museum of Natural History. “Just a silly movie, I know it’s not real.”
“Maybe you just haven’t uncovered the right cursed item in your archeological finds,” he teases.
The couple sit in silence, watching the crowds meander down the streets, the horse drawn carriages weaving in and out of traffic before entering Central Park. The crisp night air sends a chill to her bones.
His soothing voice, raspy from the cold, breaks her reverie. The pain she hears in it cuts like a knife. “What is it you want? Why do we keep stepping around this? The pile of elephant shit gets too big to handle sometimes, Thalia… What do you want?”
She ponders his question in silence. Not that she hasn’t asked herself the same thing a dozen times. How the two men, such opposing personalities, have allowed this to continue for so long, is beyond her scope. In the cold, dark night, her shoulders sink. Her voice sounds small and child-like. “I want someone to tell me what to do, I’m tired of going back and forth. I don’t wanna hurt anyone, or get hurt. But I don’t wanna make the decision either. Someone always ends up hurt in whichever scenario I choose.” She turns on the seat to look at Chris. “I don’t wanna hurt you. If I was adult enough, strong enough, I’d walk away from you both. But instead, I want it all and I just want someone to give me a painless solution.”
He runs his tongue over his teeth, stretching his legs in front of him. “Fine, you want a solution? Marry me. I know I asked before, but this time I’m saying it. I’m telling you. That’s what I want. Marry me. Stay here, in America. Raise Avery with me. We can move here, to the city. You could work there,” gesturing to the building, “see if it really happens, if they come alive at night.” Before dropping his hands, he pushes her hair from her face, tears stinging her cheeks in the cold. “Marry me. Pick me.”
She sniffles, turning her face in his hands to kiss his exposed palm. “It’s not that easy. It’s never been that easy.”
“Yes it is. Just walk away… I’m tired, Niña. You are too.” He chokes. “He… He is too. Gotta be… I know the University has offered you a spot next fall. They want you back in the states. I want you back, all mine. No more sharing, Thalia. You’re never gonna grow up as long as you keep playing this game.”
She rests her fists against his chest. “Threatening to walk away from me again, Evans?” Deflecting with humor, Jesus, Thalia, you honestly don’t deserve this man…
He chuckles. “Never works when I do. I always come running back, like a dog with my tail between my legs.”
She leans forward, her forehead resting on her fisted hands, her hair tickling his nose. “God, we’re so fucked up,” she chuckles.
“I meant it, Thalia. I’m not down on my knees. I don’t have the ring this time, but I mean it. I can give you a happy life. I know you have to go back to Paris, I know you’re contracted through the summer. But the teaching position is only the Fall semester while Lin-Hu is on maternity leave.” He rubs his hands together and tucks them under his folded arms. “Just promise me you’ll think about it?”
As his hands run over her back, caressing her and holding her close, she mumbles into his shirt, “I will. I’ll think about it. I promise. You’re too good to me, Evans, you really are.”
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