Final Countdown

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Being Thalia

Chapter 35

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

In the sequel to Educating Thalia, the lovely Thalia Bareo is growing 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 in Madrid 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.

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

Word Count: 2020

Summary: In the days before the Big Occasion, there’s more for Thalia to handle than shopping, planning, and eating too much cake.

Previous Chapter 34, A Better Man

December 2021

Pushing the door open, Thalia waits for her stepmother to enter her little apartment. The cold winter wind whips around her, tangling her hair and she quickly closes the door behind her. Dropping the packages by the door, she slumps against the old wooden frame.

“What were we thinking? What the hell was I thinking when I let him talk me into a wedding in two weeks! I need my fuckin’ head examined.” She runs her hand over her hair, trying to tame the wild curls. She huffs, blowing a short piece out of her eyes. “Why didn’t you stop me, Stacey?”

The older woman giggles. “Would you have listened? You’re so much like your father, dear. Once you get an idea in your head, there’s no stopping you. And that man and his smooth accent, he charmed you into it before you gave it a second thought.”

“British arse.” Thalia pushes off from the door, unwrapping her trademark pink scarf from around her neck. Tucking it in the pocket, she rubs her belly. “We ate too many cake samples today. I don’t feel so good.”

Stacey nods her blonde head, her fair beauty the opposite of her step-daughter’s. “Tried to talk you both out of that too.”

“Can I gain so much weight in a week that the dress won’t fit?” Thalia’s dark eyes grow wide in panic.

“A week, love? Hardly. Our flight leaves in the morning and the wedding is in five days.”

“Five days. What the hell? Were we drunk? Who allowed us to make these grown-up decisions?!”

“You’re both adults.” Stacey tilts her head. “Not that either of you acted like it today in the bakery. I truly think you sampled one of everything. It’s a wonder Tom didn’t call from the airport, complaining he’s sick.”

“You’re right. I hope he’s okay.” Thalia spins on the spot. “Where’s my phone?”

Stacey enters the bathroom in the small apartment. “Check in the bag from the lingerie store. I think I saw you drop it in there after we left Tom at the airport.” The door closes behind her and Thalia hears the sound of running water.

Picking up the little pink bag from a ridiculously expensive boutique, Thalia carries it over to the couch. Pulling out the flimsy lace, she drops it in her lap, digging around for her phone. Tangled in the garter belt, she pulls it out, smiling at the phone case Tom gave her for Christmas. A collage of photos of the two of them on various outings, including the photo of them together at the archaeology site dig in Stratford Upon Avon. Two weeks. She’d waited two weeks. And six years to marry the man who owned her heart. Exhausted, her head flops back against the worn cushion. If someone had told her all those years ago, he’d really love her, or that she’d settle for an ordinary, married life, she’d have laughed.

She rubs her rounded stomach again, rumbling and rebelling against the sweet concoctions they’d sampled at the bakery. After all that trouble, she and Tom still hadn’t been able to decide on a wedding cake. Drinks with Henrí and his husband had settled it. Henrí would fly to London and prepare a special surprise, just for his lovely friend.

She smiles at the simple silver band on her finger. The braided pieces twisted around, and had once belonged to Tom’s grandmother. As the only grandson, it was his to give to the owner of his heart. Thalia found it very telling that it had not been offered to anyone else before her… A perfect fit, it was though it was meant to be, having been mapped by the stars, possibly long before they were even born.

Fortunately for her, his grandmother must have been a plump woman.

Theirs would be no ‘ordinary, married life.’ Preparing to sail around the coast of Greece, they had already decided on historic spots they wanted to venture to together. When they returned from their honeymoon, Tom would continue to travel back and forth from London to Madrid, to finish his next contracted book and tie up loose ends at the university. If he could find a job at one of the many facilities for higher learning in Madrid, their plan was to stay in the city that felt like home to Thalia. In the late Spring, they would enjoy a visit to New Zealand together, for a museum expansion for which she’d been hired to provide assistance. Her old pal Hemsworth had invited them to stay with him, and his wife, Jane. Tom was looking forward to the visit, enthusiastic about seeing his old friend as well, and to share good times together again, like brothers.

Everything seems to be falling into place, save for one little detail. Thalia’s heart thumps against her chest as she checks her messages. Chris still has not replied to her news, or acknowledged the invitation to her impending nuptials. Eyes closed and head back, she dozes off, worried for her friend, and surprised Avery hadn’t called her for the holidays.

Hours later, the phone rings. Looking at her screen, she shakes her head, realizing it was really only minutes. “Hey, Mr. Groom-to-Be. How are you?”

“I ate too much. All the frosting, and ganache… I’ve landed at Heathrow, but I may need to go straight to the hospital, make sure I’m not in some sort of sugar shock. I feel awful.”

“Say that again.”

“What?”

“Awe-fool. I like the way you stretch it out when you say it,” she teases, trying to mimic his dialect.

“I feel positively dreadful and awful, and you’re making fun?”

She groans. “Not by any means, I feel awe-fool too. My teeth even hurt. I think the sugar might have rotted them out.” She toes off her boots, letting them fall haphazardly to the floor, flopping under the coffee table. “Would you still marry me if I was toothless?”

Tom’s laughter snorts. “Oh, darling, that would be dreadful! Please don’t let that happen… You’re in a mood. Are you alright?”

Thalia rests the side of her head up on her hand, her elbow propped on the arm of the couch. “You know how much I love shopping for clothes.” Her voice drips with sarcasm. “I think we found the dress though, and there’s a store in London that has it in my size. Tomorrow after we check the venue, I’d love for your mom and sister to come with Stacey and I, to see me try it on.”

“Oh, they’d love that. You’ll call them after we’re off the phone?” He seems to be moving his cell away from his mouth, and she can hear him giving instructions to someone. “Did they treat you like a princess, serve wine and goodies while you were trying things on, like those bride shows on the tele?”

“God, it was awe-fool. Strangers poking me, trying to button and zip the dresses up, attempting to hide my love handles and shove them in place. I think I’m bruised…” She leans forward and rubs a tender spot on her back. “How can actors and actresses stand that, to have someone treat you like a mannequin all the damn time?”

Tom chuckles. “I can imagine that’s quite horrible, trying to make small talk, while getting your inseam measured.”

“I swear my tits were groped more today than they have been in weeks,” she teases, flicking her tongue between her teeth, continuing to rub her back.

“Then I obviously am falling down on my job duties as Mr. Groom-to-Be. I’ll added ‘more boob fondling’ to my growing list of things to do!”

“Yes, please do,” Thalia chuckles softly, resting back against the comfy couch.

Tom clears his throat, changing the subject. “Any news from the States?”

“It’s okay, ya know. You can gloat. You won, and now he won’t call me back. He doesn’t want to be friends and-”

“Thalia. Darling, please stop. I don’t want him causing you any pain. I know his friendship means a lot to you, and you had hoped Avery would be your flower girl. I don’t gloat in this, if I know you are hurting.”

“I think you’re lying. I think you are doing a little happy dance right now, in the backseat of your Uber ride, glad he’s out of my life.”

Tom sighs. “Fine, yes. We have no lies between us. It does make me a little happy, but not at the expense it’s hurting you. I’ll make some phone calls to friends I have in the department, see if I can collect any news for you.”

“You’d do that?”

“Well, I won’t drag Evans to the wedding, that’s for damn sure,” he chuckles. “But I can see to it that the man at least calls you, and acknowledges your news. I know your friendship is important.”

“Tom, I can hear you rolling your eyes.” She smiles softly, silent tears collecting under her lashes.

“My eyes don’t rattle, love. I do everything for you. I can do this as well, because it means something to you. Remember my mantra, ‘I’m a better man.’”

Thalia lifts her head when Stacey exits the bathroom, wrapped in her towel and dashing to the guest room under the stairs. “You’re the best man. You’re my man.”

“Just remember that, always, and we’ll be fine, darling.” Tom addresses the driver again, and Thalia winces at the sound of honking car horns coming through the phone connection. “I’ll collect you and your mother at the airport in the morning? Then straight away to the venue I want you to see. An old classmate married there, and I think it would be lovely this time of year.”

“It’s London, in December. Everything will be cold and dreary. Like I said, I don’t care where we get married-”

“-As long as we do,” Tom chimes in with her, finishing the sentence she has said so many times over the last few days. “You really would just show up in your boots and a sundress if you could, wouldn’t you, darling?”

Now it’s Thalia’s turn to sigh. “No,” she huffs. “Cuz you look too damn good in a tux. I don’t wanna miss an opportunity to see that. Oh, God! Tom, a photographer! We need a-”

“Already taken care of, love. Don’t worry. Well, if you want to worry, I guess you could. Luke and the boys are taking me on a stag night later this evening. He wanted to do it before you came to town.”

“Oh, Lord. Just don’t get arrested. I won’t marry you in a jail.”

“Ah, so you do care where we get married?” Tom jokes.

“I did not go to college, and move to Europe, to marry some dude with a record. If I wanted to do that, I’d have stayed in my old neighborhood. I’ve matured. I have standards now.” She laughs loudly. Her wide open mouth quickly turns into a yawn. “I’m beat. I need to finish packing, and get some sleep since we gotta be at the airport so early.”

“Right. Don’t forget your passport and birth certificate. We’ll need those to pick up the marriage license tomorrow.”

She mentally ticks off another box on her list. “Got it. Already in my bag for carry on.” She yawns again. “Tell Luke I said to have fun, and to keep you in one piece.” She pauses. “No strippers either.”

Tom’s haughty laughter hangs on the line as the call ends.

“Do British guys go to strip clubs?” she mumbles, opening her messages.

“I think in England, burlesque would be more high class,” Stacey comments, entering the room with her hair tied up in rag rollers.

“Uh, thanks, Mom. I didn’t need to know that.” Thalia sticks out her tongue. She quickly taps out another message, ‘I really wanted to talk to you about this. I thought we were friends?’

Lifting from the couch, she watches her stepmom dig through the fridge. “How can you even think of food after all that cake?”

Click here to Chapter 36, Finally

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

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