Strong Shoulders

ch 4 strong shoulders jan 13 2019

Strong Shoulders

Chapter 4

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

In the sequel to Educating Thalia, the lovely Thalia Bareo is trying to grow up, making her own way in the world after losing both men she loved, Professors Chris Evans and Tom Hiddleston. The sassy full-figured Puerto Rican girl from Chicago holds down a job as she tries to deal with the real world. She continues her studies and freelances as a consultant for museums around the world. Being Thalia updates are posted on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Warning: As a whole, this work contains adult content. If you proceed you have agreed that you are willing to see such content. Each chapter will not be coded with individual warnings. The overall story contains no hidden triggers.

**THIS CHAPTER DOES HAVE MENTION OF A SICK PARENT**

If you are new to the series and characters, click here to the beginning of Educating Thalia.

If you are looking for other stories in the sequel, click here for the beginning of Being Thalia

Summary: Thalia returns to Chicago for a quiet holiday with her father and stepmother

Word Count 1263

Previous Chapter, Attraction

December 2018

Thalia had been looking forward to the month long winter holiday with her family in Chicago, but now she wonders if she can ever escape old memories. Walking down the hallway, the place seems smaller, and the peeling wallpaper and chipped trim adds to her dreary mood. Examining the tree, she wryly smiles at the old ornaments, things she’d made in grade school. She briefly wonders what happened to the Nativity she and her mother had painted before her mother walked out. Tapping her finger against the bell from her cousin’s wedding, she sends up happy thoughts for the couple and laughs at an old picture of her and her friend Amy stuffed in among the branches. A silly glass ornament of a hot dog catches her eye, and she wonders how it made it to the tree from the shelf in her room.

Tom. She falters at the thought of him, her heart momentarily stopping.

Tom had bought the ornament as a joke three years before when he had surprised her by turning up in the city. They’d shared such a wonderful time, geeking out over the museums, stuffing themselves with local food. Fucking each other’s brains out in the hotel that night, putting the tie she’d gifted him for Christmas to good use.

Fuck him, she mumbles, staring out the window at the falling snow.

The memories were too much. Stacey found her curled up on the couch in the den. The motherly blonde sat cradling the broken young woman in her arms. “I really fucked up, Stacey. I can’t fix it. I can’t change it, and they’re both gone.”

“Oh, honey,” she says, wiping away her stepdaughter’s tears. She cups her face in her hands and gently kisses her nose. “There are other handsome princes. You’ll love again, in time.”

Thalia sobs harder, her body quaking from a broken heart. This isn’t her first meltdown, but it’s the only time she’s let another soul in on her pain. Except for Jim Beam and Johnnie Walker, no one has seen her this bad, this devastated.

“I don’t want anyone else,” she yelps, choking on her tears. “I met, I met someone… Other than a sexy voice, and being a professor,” she scoffs, “he’s not my type. But I like him. He’s nice, he’s funny. He’s Australian and dammit, his name is Chris!” She hollers through her tears.

“Everything okay up there?” Carlos Bareo calls up the stairs.

“Nooo,” whines Thalia, collapsing again in her mother’s arms.

“Carlos, honey, we’ll be awhile,” Stacey yells back. “Why don’t you just order in some dinner tonight? We’ll be down soon.”

“Oh, God, I don’t want him to see me like this. Not when he warned me-”

“Life’s too short to say ‘I told you so.’ He won’t want you hiding away in here the whole time you’re home. He’s looking forward to the special tour you arranged for the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture.” Stacey passes a tissue to Thalia, doing her best to change the subject, while the younger woman noisily blows her nose. “So tell me about this other guy? What’s he like?”

She blows her nose again, wadding up the tissue and dropping it in the trash can next to the couch. She inhales deeply, looking up to the ceiling. “Nothing to tell. I blew it. After a quick and much needed make out session on his couch the other night, when we got to his bedroom, he had the same bedspread Tom and I had in Paris, and my Chris’s book on his nightstand, the one I helped edit.” She chuckles, wiping the end of her dripping nose with another tissue, the tears finally slowing and beading up on her lashes. “I kinda freaked out a little, couldn’t breathe. I mean he’s trying to take my sweater off, and I’ve got a movie montage in my head of that damn bedspread.” She visibly swallows, making a clicking sound in the back of her throat. “We’re really only work friends, it was like the second time I’d hung out at his house. We don’t know each other well enough to read the clues, so I finally had to put the brakes on-”

“Oh, honey, that’s really-”

She hiccups and giggles. “Awful, I know, right? I just told him, well, I was tracing his abs, so it took a moment to sink in, but I couldn’t stop staring at him. I swear, Stacey, it was like a twelve pack, I’ve never seen anything like it before.” She sighs deeply. “Probably never will again,” she says wistfully, “I’m gonna be a nun. Anyway, I asked if he remembered me saying I’d recently ended a relationship, and I told him the bedspread was the same, and I couldn’t handle it.”

Stacey hides her smile behind her hand. “Then what happened, honey?”

Thalia snorts. “Guys like him don’t exist in real life. He took me back downstairs to the kitchen, and we devoured a roll of cookie dough, instead of each other. He told me about his ex, and how he ended up in the States. At some point, I think I went into a sugar coma, because I woke up on his couch yesterday morning while he was making a mad dash to gather things up to pack to go back home for the term break.” She smiles weakly. “I made him breakfast and helped him with a few things before I left to get home and finish packing my own bags.”

Stacey’s jaw drops. “So he was totally okay with it, not having sex, and just being a good guy? A real friend?”

Thalia lifts her eyebrows. “I know, crazy right?”

“A Christmas miracle,” Stacey laughs.

A quiet night in with her parents was just what she needed to help escape from memories, but then real life caught up fast. Her father was in ailing health, and they spent long hours together during her break. His repeated refrain was the old adage, ‘If you love something, let it go. If it was meant to be, it will come back.’

She never knew if he was talking about her love life, and if so, which man was he referring to, or if he was rambling about his happiness she had returned home after so long an absence.

Thalia never got a chance to ask her father about it. He died shortly after she returned to the school for the winter term.

While she was gone for his funeral, her small apartment complex was destroyed by a fire.

Once again a nomad, the young woman had shown up at Professor Chris Evans’ door with just her suitcase from her trip and really no place to go. He accepted her with open arms. Avery was pleased as punch to have her favorite playmate back in the house again. His girlfriend? Not so much…

Shortly after moving in, Thalia heard them in the kitchen late one night.

“How long is she gonna be staying here?”

The sound of a glass beer bottle hitting the table echoed through the downstairs. “Karen, she’ll stay as long as she needs to. She lost everything, what part of that do you not get?” His voice is tired, agitated just below the surface.

“She was your student, and you dated her, and now she’s living in our basement. That’s just fucked up and-”

Putting in her earbuds, she tuned out the rest of the conversation. She jogged down the steps to her room, flopping across the bed. Scrolling through the phone, she continued her search for apartment listings, looking for a new place to live.

Next chapter, Sensitivity Training

Copyright © 2019  avenger-nerd-mom and devikafernando. All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom

6 thoughts on “Strong Shoulders

  1. authorcarawade January 13, 2019 / 12:37 pm

    Ugh, Wish you didn’t leave it there! I need more…this story is like crack! Amazing job as always!

    Liked by 1 person

    • avenger-nerd-mom January 13, 2019 / 12:39 pm

      Crack? Giving the readers their weekly hit! Love it! Love you, Cara! Thanks for reading

      Like

  2. Julie H January 13, 2019 / 12:42 pm

    Damn it ladies! I’m getting teary already! Wednesday can’t come soon enough!

    Liked by 1 person

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