Score Another Goal

original score another goal less fuzzy question.jpg

*a Chris Evans fan fic*

by avenger-nerd-mom

After soccer practice, a single mom gets an eventful ride home…

NSFW, with my trademark fluff; “fluffy smut”

Word Count: 6737

“Just go talk to him.  You know he’s here every week, and he’s always watching you behind his shades.”

“Bullshit; he is not,” she blushes.  “He’s here to help his brother-in-law coach the team, and spend time with his nephews.  I’m not gonna butt in on that.”

“Speaking of ‘butts,’ look at his ass in those sweatpants, I mean damn,” says a third mother.

“I can’t, I’m too busy thinking about his thighs,” she laughs.

The sound must reach the field, because Chris looks up and waves at the group of moms.

“You really should talk to him,” says the brunette.

“Why me?” she asks.

“Well, first of all, you’re single.  I’m a lesbian, and Tamara’s married.  And if anyone of us needs to get laid soon, it’s you.”

She hides her face behind her hands.  “Shh… There are children around!  Someone will hear you.”

“Hey, I’m just saying, if you don’t try to tap that soon, Carrie and I are considering asking him to join us.”  The brunette wiggles her eyebrows and the women dissolve into another fit of laughter.

***

Practice ends and she stays to help the head coach’s wife clean up snack.  Tommy’s dad had showed up and offered to take him to dinner and wanted to keep him for the night.  The two women discuss arrangements for the upcoming bake sale at school and generally catch up on details with one another’s busy lives.  She is surprised when the portly woman budges her arm as they clean up the empty juice pouches and announces,  “He can’t take his eyes off you.”

“Who?” she asks.

The woman tilts her head toward the field were Chris and his nephews and dog are running around laughing and chasing after the ball.

“You think so?  Someone else said that same thing about an hour ago.”

The coach’s wife looks inside the abandoned cleats for the owner’s name.  “These belong to Miles.  Why don’t you walk them out there?”

She shakes her head.  “Oh, really.  Y’all are being ridiculous.  He could have any pick of all the women in the world.  He wouldn’t want me.”

The older woman throws the shoes inside her big utility bag and throws it up onto her shoulder.  “You might wanna rethink that.  He was at the house the other night and asked about you…”  The woman’s words trail off as she walks away.

Her phone buzzes and she smiles towards her son’s teammates and calls goodbye to another family leaving.  She looks down at the silly photo her son sent from his favorite restaurant, helium balloons tied to his ears.  “God, he’ll be so hyped on sugar he won’t sleep tonight,” she mumbles as she walks to her car.

The days are shorter now and the streetlights flicker to life as it finally begins to get dark.  A minivan honks at her as it drives past and she waves goodbye to another family.  Chris’s laughter draws her attention back to the abandoned field.  His nephews and brother -in- law have left and he’s just enjoying time with his dog. The scene is reminiscent of the reunion video that recently went viral when he returned home from a long engagement overseas. She’s not a fangirl and doesn’t keep up with his happenings anymore, although she knows their mothers are still friendly at church.  But even she saw the video.

The whoop whoop of her keys echo against the trees and she sees Dodger jerk his head towards her.  His car must be the other in the lot, she thinks as she climbs into her vehicle.  She’d like to leave quickly and avoid a confrontation, although her friends put some positively sinful images into her mind.  Turning the ignition, cool air blows from the vents and a classic 80s song fills the tiny sedan.  But not the sound of the engine.  She turns off the music and tries again.  Nothing.  Something flashes on the dash and the ‘check engine’ light angrily fires back at her.  She hits her head back against the seat, watching him start to jog over to her car.

Sighing, she climbs out of the vehicle, reaching for her laptop bag in the back seat.  Closing and locking the door, she leans against the trunk until he’s in closer proximity.  She feebly calls out, “Hey, can I get a ride?”

His stride stops short.  He pulls off his baseball cap and runs his hands through his longer hair.   She’s known him their whole lives and realizes this may be the first time she’s seen him without product in it.  Her fingers itch, wondering if his hair is as soft as it once was… She blinks away the thought and shoves her hands down into her pockets, fighting the desire to flex them.

He puts the cap back on and removes his sunglasses now that the sun has disappeared over the tops of the trees.  He chuckles.   “Ah. This looks familiar.  I seem to recall a day I needed a ride home and you left me standing in the rain.”

She laughs at the memory.  “You were being a really jerk that day,” she recalls.  “Come on, Chris, ya can’t be serious.  You can’t leave me here in the dark, at night.”

Dodger trots over to her and sits at her feet, turning his head side to side between them.  She laughs at his floppy ears and pulls a hand out for him to sniff.

“JoJo, it’s not up to me.  His decision.  You’d be taking his seat in the car.”

Her stomach flip flops at the use of the old nickname he had for her.  She crouches down to the mutt.  He nuzzles into her neck and his whiskers tickle.  She giggles and looks up at Chris.  “Not sure, but I think your dog just got to first base.”

“Lucky boy.”

The look in his eyes is unmistakable.  A flicker of desire rises up in her belly.  She rises tall.  When she speaks she can’t deny the words sound sultry even to her ears.  “So, about that ride?”

“I can give you a ride, no problem,” he says, blushing at the implied sexual reference.  He nervously rubs the back of his neck.  Nodding towards the car, he asks, “What’s wrong with it?  Want me to take a look?”

She throws her head back and laughs.  Dodger jumps up, his paws on her waist, barking. “Your daddy is silly; he makes me laugh,” she sing-songs to the dog, grasping his white paws in her hands and moving in a silly dance before gently pushing him down.  “Chris, you know jack shit about auto mechanics.  You can help in two ways- call me a tow, or take me home.”

“Come on,” he motions, reaching out his hand to take her heavy bag.  She slides it off her shoulder, handing it to him and is instantly transported back to sophomore year, when he carried her bag to class every day.  She swears to herself she can even smell the cafeteria in the air.  “I’d never hear the end of it from Ma if she found out I left you in a dark parking lot.”

“How is your mom?  I haven’t seen her in a while,” she asks, following him to the politically incorrect gas guzzler he drives.

“Then you aren’t attending Mass,” he gathers from her comment.

She sighs.  “Oh?  You can’t see the scarlet ‘D’ on my chest?  Half the church threw a shit fit when I left Nathan…  Your mom was cool about it though.  I guess she remembered how difficult divorce can be when you’ve got kids to worry about.  Thankfully, I just have the one, not a houseful, like she did.”

He sucks in a breath, and hisses out.  “Yea, I don’t attend Mass much either.”  He tugs at the St. Christopher’s medallion rested against his tight pecs, pulling it out away from his neck and looking down at it before tucking it back into his t-shirt.  “Hard in this day and age to buy all that, sometimes…  Divorce doesn’t make you evil, JoJo.  You know that, right?  You did what you had to do…  Good to know Ma was supportive.”

Her arm burns from his brief touch as he reaches out to her in a physical display of solidarity.  He opens the back door and sets her bag on the floor.  “Dodger, up!” He commands.  The dog jumps up and turns a quick circle on a towel on the bench seat before laying down and curling his paw over his nose.  “Good boy,” Chris compliments, scratching behind the dog’s ears.

“So, uh, Nathan?”  Chris asks, opening the front door of the sleek black vehicle.  “Is the local gossip true?  I heard some of the parents talking about it…”

She moves between him and the door, climbing up into the leather seat.  “Yes, he got his secretary pregnant…  We co-parent fairly well, but I don’t give a fuck what he does in his private life anymore.  His mother came to the house to visit Tommy a few weeks back and said the woman realized if he cheated once, he’d probably do it again, so she called off their wedding.  I think the kid is about a eight months old now?  He’ll probably end up paying child support to her too.”

“Shit,” Chris murmurs.  “And I thought my relationships were kinda fucked up.  At least I don’t have moms and kids everywhere.”

His sadness hangs in the air, trapped inside with her when he closes the door.  She watches him walk around the front of the car, seeing only the upper half of his body, hidden under that ridiculous retro sweatshirt he often wears.  She shakes her head and a small smile graces her lips.

“What?” he asks, opening the driver’s side and peering in at her.

“Just thinking about that sweatshirt,” she blushes, moving a script out of the front seat for him as he lifts up into the seat.  “I nearly choked on my popcorn when I saw you wearing it in that movie.”  She pinches her lips together and on a whim, reaches out and caresses the well worn fabric between her fingers as he settles his arm over the center console. “You thought you were hot shit when you bought that thing.”

He nods, a faraway smile on his face as he rests his head back against the leather seat.  He turns his head and looks over his shoulder as puppy snores come from the back seat.  Chris himself lets out a puff of air.  “Of all my movies, you saw that one?”

“Not your best, but really a bit like you, I must say,” she laughs, laughing even harder when he flips her off.

“Get outta the car, you’re walking,” he teases, looking down to where her hand still rests on his arm.  “JoJo-”  His tone is full of long forgotten emotions.

Pulling her hand away, she quietly says, “Please, just take me home.”

He grunts and pushes a button on the dash to silently start the ignition.  He eases the car back, exiting the parking space before shifting into drive.  “Ok, fine, but I don’t know where home is…”

She gives him directions and he slowly enters into the moving traffic headed deeper into the suburbs.  “Pretty fancy neighborhood,” he clucks.

“Pretty damn good lawyer,” she states.  “I got to keep everything.  Even the boat.”  She turns to him with a grin.  “Wanna buy a boat?”

He laughs, “Aw, man, that bastard shoulda known better.”  He watches her from the corner of his eye as he maneuvers through the traffic.  “The men in your life have to learn lessons the hard way, huh?”

She ignores his veiled commentary.  “Chris?  What are you doing?  You just missed the turn.”

“Yes, Miss Fancy Pants Lawyer, we’re gonna get dinner first.  Text DeMineo’s and order whatever kind of pizza you want, and an order of garlic bread sticks.  And a calzone, pepperoni, extra cheese.  And don’t tell me you don’t have Sal’s number in your phone.  Everyone in the old neighborhood still does.”

“Chris, we don’t have time to drive all the way out there,” she says, already placing the order on her phone.

“Nathan’s got your son, and I bet you didn’t eat before the game, or you had some wimpy salad while he ate a kid’s meal.  I sure as hell haven’t eaten and my stomach feels in knots.  We can get it to go and take it back to my place; it’s closer.  I’ll call Bobby to check on your car and I’ll get you home, all before the late news starts.  I promise.”

“God, you’re still a bossy pain in the ass,” she swears under breath, looking out the window to hide her smile.

“Yea, and now I’ve got the money to use to get what I want.”

Quiet settles between them, and she ponders his words.  On the social ladder, her family had been a step up from his, and his mother had always kept the Evans’ kids on a short leash, tight curfews and a long list of chores before allowances were doled out.  If she only knew how many nights those kids snuck out the back window of the guest room over the garage.  She wipes her tongue over her teeth; hell, Lisa knew.  She always knew everything.  Chris probably told her.  She remembers the summer he cut grass to buy that ugly sweatshirt and how proud he was to wear it and give it to her.

It had broken her heart to give it back.

She’s shocked he still has it after all these years.  She rolls her head around her shoulders, trying to get the kinks out, wishing she’d remembered to set an appointment at the spa.  She needs to take a day off work; to find some time for herself.  She’d forgotten how to be anything more than a lawyer and a mother, and she felt like she wasn’t very good with either one right now.  Lost in her thoughts, she’s surprised when they pull up under the bright red lights at DeMineo’s.  “Does he still have the red and white checkered cloths?” she asks, her voice melancholy and full of memories from long ago.  “I haven’t been inside in years.”

“Wanna eat in tonight?” Chris asks, shifting the car to park.

“Nah, not really up for the noise, but thanks.  I’ll have to bring back Tommy sometime.  I bet he’d love it.”

“He would.  I know the kids love it here when we come with Carly and Ryan.  Sit tight.  I’ll be back in a minute.”

She nods.  Reaching over, she turns on the radio and turns it her favorite station, listening to local radio.  The announcer’s voice comes through loud and clear as the station switches over to play the late game.  She checks her watch quickly and realizes the time is later than she thought.  Reaching in her pocket, she pulls out a twenty dollar bill and places it in his glove box, just like she did when they were teens.  He’d always insist on paying, even when she knew he was scraping by, so she always found a way to pay him back.  Chris never said anything about it, but he had to have known it was her all those years.  She jolts at the weight on her shoulder, and chuckles when she realizes it’s just Dodger.  She wraps her arm over the top of his head and rubs the tender spot above his eyes.  “You have doggie breath,” she whispers.  “He’s lonely, isn’t he, Dodge?

The dog’s quiet whimper answers her question.

She rolls the car window down when he exists the little Italian eatery and approaches the car with a giant box and a bag precariously balanced on top.  He hands the items to her and scolds Dodger, telling him to get back in his spot.  The dog nuzzles her cheek again before doing as told.

Chris crawls back into his seat and they are back on the road, heading to his house.  “I already texted Bobby, and he’s gonna send one of his guys over to see if he can get it to start.  If not, they’ll tow it to the shop and look at it tomorrow.  He said he’d call later and let me know, and he could arrange a ride to work tomorrow if you need it.”  He shrugs.  “I’d say if the car is broken down, use it as an excuse to take the day off.  You look like the type of woman who works too hard; when was the last time you had a vacation, anyway?”

The box is warm in her lap and the smells from the bag are too enticing.  She reaches in for a breadstick.  She rolls the bag back down, tearing it in half and offering some to Chris.  He reaches across with his left hand and takes it from her.  “I’ll have you know, Tommy and I spent two weeks in Florida with my dad this summer, and really enjoyed time at both parks there- holy shit, I forgot how good these breadsticks were-” she giggles along with him, “-and went out to Cape Canaveral, did the space stuff, and spent a few days on the beach.  I can relax and have fun; I’m not always an uptight witch with a stick up my ass.  That’s just at work,” she explains.

“I never said that-”

“Chris, come on, I know what everyone says about me.  I know we don’t see each other a lot, but we still run in a lot of the same social circles.”

He licks his lip and doesn’t comment on the gossip.  “Other than the soccer field, when did we last see each other?”  Chris wonders aloud.

“Some wedding, I’m sure.  It seems like someone we know is always getting married.  I think you had a girlfriend with you, and she kept pulling you away from your pals.”

“Well, damn, that could have been any number of times then,” he scoffs.

“Always a groomsman, never a groom,” she teases.

“Ain’t that the truth,” he laments.

She eyes his sad profile and wishes she could take back her words.  She exhales quietly.  “Sorry; I shouldn’t have said anything.”

“Nah, maybe I need to hear it; talk about it; get my shit together.”  He signals a right hand turn and takes the car down a quiet lane, not far from the old neighborhood.  “I had a lot of time to think while I was away.  South Africa is an interesting place, but, man, it was a long time to be gone. Almost too introspective for me.  Too many demons to deal with…”

He signals another turn down a shaded driveway and parks in front of the garage.  She looks out the large front window and realizes it’s the house he always liked, the one he always said he’d own one day.  “Your dream house,” she whispers.

“Yea, well…  I guess I made at least one or two dreams come true.  It’s kinda too big for me and the dog, but when it finally went up for sale, Tara helped me get it.”  He exits the car, jogging around the front and taking the items from her hands.  With his own full, he looks perplexed that he can’t be a gentleman and offer her a hand.  She shoos him back away from the car and steps down onto the pavement, reaching around to open the door for Dodger to bound out.  “Couldn’t give up on all my dreams, I guess,” he states matter of factly.  “I still haven’t given up on settling down one day.”

“Always the dreamer, Chris.  That’s actually an admirable quality,” she compliments, grabbing her bag from the back seat and taking the food sack into her hands.  “Lead the way,” she commands.

Dodger pounces past them both, trying to trap a cricket under his large paws.  Chris chuckles at his antics and whistles to him.  The dog snaps his attention to his master, and follows up the path to the front door.  Chris balances the box on his hip and types in a key code to unlock the door and dismantle the alarms.  “I like you’ve kept it very unassuming, like no one famous lives here.”

He nods his agreement, stepping aside to let her into the lit entryway.  “Straight on back and to the left,” he says, dropping his car keys and sunglasses on the little table by the door.

Walking past the open living room, she notices how the dark wood floors add a homey touch to the white space.  Family photos in black and white peer out from the shelves, loaded with books and memorabilia- Disney, Patriots and Marvel.  Walking into the dim kitchen, she finds the light switch and bathes the room in a warm glow.  The barnwood table is a wonderful accent piece, and she finds herself a bit jealous of any woman who could someday claim the space as ‘hers.’   The feeling stabs her in the gut.  “Whew,” she whistles out quietly.

“Sorry, what was that?”  Chris asks, stepping up behind her.

She looks to him, confused, her head starting to pound and she feels flushed.  “Um?” She licks her lips, taking the pizza box from his hand.  “Chris, I’m not hungry.  I don’t want pizza.”  She sets the box on the counter.  Her heart pounds in her ears and she can’t catch her breath.  Before she can really think it through, she throws herself against him, pressing her lips hungrily to his.  She flings her arms around his neck, pulling him down to her, and grabbing and tugging at his shaggy hair, his hat falling to the floor.   After a moment of surprise, his arms slip around her waist, holding her tight, returning her kisses with the same fire and need.  Splitting apart briefly for air, she whispers, “I want you.”

His tongue darts between his teeth and washes over her full lips.  “Are you sure?  I guess we could work up an appetite?”  He bends over her and kisses again, pulling her lower lip between his, sinking his teeth down into the soft, familiar flesh.  “You taste the same, JoJo.”

“Fuuuck,” she hisses through her teeth.  “You’re good liar, but I’ll take it.”

He scratches his full beard along her jaw and down her neck.  “I remember everything about you, babe, I never forgot.”

Her head spins with his touch, his scent, and she knows she isn’t a high school girl anymore, fumbling around on the couch in his parents’ basement.  But damn, he can make her feel that way.  It’s her chance to see if all the ‘what ifs’ in her mind actually could be true.  One thing’s for sure, the beard is a nice, new touch.  And he uses it to his advantage, as he burrows into her neck.  “Been wanting to do this all night, since the damn dog beat me to it,” he whispers against her.  Scratching his beard along her delicate skin, his lush lips find the sensitive spot behind her ear.

“Damn you,” she sighs.  “You do remember.”  The burn against her neck stings and awakens feelings deep inside she’s long forgotten.  Chris always had that special touch, even as a teen, no other man has ever offered her.  He knows all her buttons; he helped her discover them.  They perfected them together.

She wonders what else he remembers as she digs her fingers into his biceps, his kisses harsh then soft, while she slides her hands over his collarbone.  She reaches between them and unzips his sweatshirt, pushing the worn fabric back from his sculpted shoulders. In her mind, he was always the muscled man she sees before her today, always her superhero ready to fight her battles.  He spins her around, pinning her against the table.  Leaning his upper body away from him, he pulls the jacket off, swiftly turning it inside out and dropping it to the floor.  She looks down, smiling at it puddled at their feet before lunging back to him, putting her lips to his.  One of his strong hands lifts under her ass, boosting her to sit on the table, while the other slides under the back of her shirt, spanning across her spine.  With a gentle nudge she falls into him, wrapping her legs around his waist.  A perfect fit, as always.  Chris holds himself steady, but she can feel how hard he’s growing, how desperate he is for her.

Like greedy kids, their mouths never part, and they share the same air.  Her hands move down the back of his arms, gripping at the tight muscles, pulling back to laugh at the removed tattoo.  “I told you it was stupid,” she reminds him, tracing her fingers over the faded marking.  His eyes watch her hands and he bites his lip, waiting impatiently to have hers again.  He pushes against the table, trying to hurry her up.  She doesn’t give, enjoying his skin, and the smooth sensation under her fingertips, adoring all the little freckles and scars she remembers, curious about the new ones.  Her hands snake under his heavy arms and wrap around his skinny waist, something she always teased him about, but secretly loved because it made him easier to hold on to…

No longer able to watch her hands as she scratches his lower back, he tilts his knuckle under her chin and turns her face back to his.  He raises his other hand up and runs both over her cheeks, his fingertips massaging along her hairline, gently pressing against her skull.  His blue eyes wash over her skin, his eyelashes long against his cheeks when his eyes drop to examine her mouth.  “Hmmm… I had forgotten one thing.  This scar on your lip,” he says, his thumb brushing across it, and pushing her lips in a sensual manner.  “You were so embarrassed with the stitches, and you’d yell at me every time I’d make you laugh and it would pull.”

“That was a lot of yelling,” she remembers, lifting the hem of his shirt and running her fingertips along the elastic waist of his sweatpants.  “You always knew how to make me laugh.”

Pressing hard into the muscle tissue, he sighs at her touch, tenderly kissing the tiny scar.

The lightest touch, like the wings of butterfly, sends chills through her body.  “What was that for?” she whispers.

He tilts his head.  “You wouldn’t have gotten it if Scott and I weren’t fighting over that baseball bat,” he chortles, shaking his head at the stupid memory.

“How is it you were always an idiot in one moment, and my hero in the next?”  She says, her hands dipping lower down his backside.

“Can I be your hero again?  Tonight?” Chris asks, trying to mask his boyish grin when she nods her consent.

Stepping back, Chris pulls her back into his arms, her legs still wrapped around his waist as he lowers himself to the floor, into a seated position.  Straddling him, she lifts her arms to hold the edge of the counter above and rocks her body against his, shifting her weight to free her legs and fold them back at his side.  She pulls off her sweatshirt and t-shirt, somewhat grateful for the lady-like lace inserts on the sports bra she put on when she changed clothes after work.  Chris whistles appreciatively, mumbling some throwback compliment to their high school days.  She briefly wonders if she’s been dressing just for him for weeks, hoping to be alone with him.  Avoiding the obvious answer, she reaches between them, subtly rubbing the back of her hand against her throbbing pussy, grasping the hem of his shirt and raising it above his head, chucking it in the pile.  Freed of the cotton barrier, his arms fold across her back and he brings her to him, leaning forward at the same time and nestling his full beard between her aching breasts.   His breath is warm and hot as he whispers his praises, “Always the perfect tits, JoJo; the stuff of fantasies.”

She arches into him, silently begging him to take her into his mouth.  It’s obvious he plans to torture her as he slides his nose up one valley, licking along the lacy edge of clothing.  His hands never stop roaming across the soft skin of her backside, climbing up and down her spine, her sides, and chuckling at the goosebumps he leaves in their wake.  His hands grasp under her ass and lift her, pushing her closer to his mouth, his breath hot and wet as he laps at her nipple through the fabric.  The bud reacts to his attention and she longs to free herself, but doesn’t want to rush his sinful tactics, lessons learned as a man, from the boy she loved.  Her fingers card through his hair, and she manipulates his head closer, and then pulls his hair, tugging him away, guiding his touch.  “Always were a tease,” he jokes as his fingers push under the tight elastic band of the athletic gear.  Finding it restrictive, he gives up, instead grabbing the fabric near her shoulders.  His fingertips dance over the top curve of her breasts, teasing her moments before yanking the fabric down, exposing her to the chilly evening air.  Her nipples bud and the flesh rises from the cold, a gasp of desire and awe escaping her.  His hands grope and fondle her full breasts, pushing them together and releasing them before whispering in her ear, “Tell me what you want, JoJo.”

A tiny whine releases from the back of her throat.  “What I’ve always wanted, Chris; I haven’t changed, I want your mouth on me, biting and sucking.  Please,” she begs, rising closer to him, giving herself to his mouth and shifting her weight across him to straddle his thigh.

He kisses her exposed skin, teasing in circles around her nipples, his own breathing heightened with need.  They begin to rock in a rhythm, their rhythm, one they wrote years ago.  She grinds herself against his thigh, the lace wisp of her thong pushing between her lips, the denim an added friction.  “We’re not on the plaid couch; no one’s gonna walk in on us,” he quietly goads her.  “You can have the real thing, not just my thigh,” he offers.

Tugging the long hair at the back of his neck, she rises up and pulls his head back, looking into his eyes.  “It worked then, and it works now.  I spend a lot of nights thinking about riding your thighs, Evans, so shut up and let me.”  She holds his head tightly in place and when he opens his mouth to speak, she shoves her nipple towards him.  She quietly coos when he bites down tenderly.  “It’s one way to shut you up,” she says, leaning into his affections as his tongue instantly knows what to do.   His hands hold tight to her hips and force her back down upon his leg, bending it slightly, raising and lowering her, listening to the echoing whimpers in the room.

His power is stronger, and his ability to hold her up is fueling her need.  She feels youthful and greedy, and wants all that he will give to her.  But she has a power now that she didn’t have before.  The ability to know what she wants and needs, and how to vocalize it- a power she didn’t have at seventeen.  “Chris, I want you to fuck me, to truly fuck me and show me what I’ve missed all these years,” she whispers, as his bites follow the curve of one breast to the top of the next.  His hands guide her hips as her thrusts pick up speed, and he cradles her, holding her tight to his leg as she rocks back and forth.  When his tongue teases around her taut nipple and he sucks her in between his teeth, continuing to bite and suck the sweet button, her cries grow strained and she stops moving, the orgasm building from deep inside, clenching, grasping at nothing.  Her need is unfulfilled and she’s insatiably left wanting more as a glimmer of sweat builds over them both.

“You come for me so beautifully, JoJo; you always did, my pet.”

His little name for her, words she hasn’t heard whispered in years and silently tears begin to the fall from her eyes, the emotions too much to bear.  She can’t believe she’s in his arms again, even if just for the night.  With a strength and confidence he didn’t have in his youth, he hastily flips her over onto her back, the tiles cold against her bare skin. Crouching back on his knees, Chris undoes her pants and pulls them from her body.  In one swift movement, her jeans and panties are gone, and she wiggles out of her sports bra under his watchful eyes as he quickly shimmies out of his sweatpants.  Resting on her elbows, still panting from before, she stares with wonder at his glorious cock, beautiful and more than she remembered it to be.  She leans on one side, grabbing him in one hand tenderly and motioning him to move closer.  His eyes watch hers, his own filled with mirth at her inspection as she runs her fingertips over the veiny ridges.  Lost in thought, relearning every line and indentation, she jumps when his fingers enter her, not even bothering with a tease.  “So wet, and slick; always ready for me.”

They might as well be hiding in the basement, snuggled under a blanket on the old couch as they caress one another, mutual hand jobs driving them to the edge.  His fingers pulse in and out, teasing over her puffy lips before diving back inside her hidden well.  Her fingers glide along his shaft, fingerpainting with his precum and enjoying the feel of him in her hands.  “You’re killing me, JoJo.  I wanna be inside you,” he whines.

With his free hand, he grabs at her wrist and releases his cock from her hand, and raises her arm above her head.  He pulls his other hand from between her legs and raises it to his lips, waving his hand under his nose to catch her scent before licking his fingers clean. “That’s sexy,” she murmurs as he climbs between her legs, nudging with his knee for her to spread them further apart.  He grasps her calf, leaning over her for a kiss as he slowly pushes into her.  She gasps at her tight hole expanding to accept him, filling her full.  He slides in again, deeper, sliding his sticky hand down her chest to fondle her resplendent breasts.  “You’re so beautiful,” he whispers into her ear, nibbling her soft flesh.  She sighs peacefully when his cold medallion hits her chest and his beard tickles her neck.

“More,” she grunts, grabbing his ass with her free hand, and slapping it before pulling away again.

He flinches at her touch, pumping in and out again.  He pauses, pulling all the way out, brushing his dick across her opening, teasing her now.  “Sure you can take all this?”

“Willing to try,” she laughs as he pushes back into her, rocking against her again and again.  He lets go of her hand and holds his weight off her, pulling her other knee up and with his arms, pinning both of her legs to his sides.  Her arms wrap over his shoulders and she digs her fingernails into his back, biting at the Tolle quote on his collarbone.  Her body starts to hum with pleasure, finding her release quickly.  “God, I needed that,” she confesses.

He continues to buck against her, drawing out her orgasm as she convulses around him, her muscles sucking him inside, deeper and wetter.  The quiet sounds of their rapid breathing and their bodies slapping together fill their ears.  She can’t hold back her laughter and shakes against him when he starts fussing at Dodger to go away just as he spills inside her.  He collapses on top of her, his laughter and orgasm pushing her into the hard floor.  A tennis ball rolls into her view and she tosses it towards the living room, the dog bounding away after it, his nails clicking against the surface.

When Chris finally catches his breath, he apologizes and carefully slides out of her.  Her walls constrict and throb, wanting to be full again.  “What are you apologizing for?” she asks, as he begins to wipe her clean.

“I didn’t… Well, I didn’t invite you over here for that.  I mean, I was kinda hoping but…”  His voice trails off and his cheeks turn pink at his admission.  Rested on his side, still wiping at their mess, he kisses her shoulder.  “But really, JoJo, I was gonna pull out, and then the damn dog distracted me, and I’m really sorry, and-”

She mentally does the math, wondering when she last worried about birth control. She has no clue, since it’s been so long since she’s had sex.  Bells and whistles buzz inside her head, but he doesn’t need to know that at the moment.  She’ll just stop at the drug store tomorrow, within the time frame the doctor once told her about.  “Stop talking, Chris; I’m not worried, and… and you’re making a bigger mess.”  She wraps her hand around his wrist, looking down and laughing when she sees it’s his old sweatshirt he’s using to clean them.  She closes her eyes and rolls her head from side to side on the cold, hard floor.  “That sweat jacket’s always been good for that, babe, hasn’t it?” she reminisces.

He chuckles, his smile indicating he remembers that day long ago too.  “The couch was more comfortable,” he reminds her.

The front door of the house opens and slams shut, and Scott’s boisterous calls echo down the hallway.  She punches his arm, scrambling to pull her clothes over her body.  “I thought you said no one would walk in on us?” she hisses.

“Scott, FREEZE.  Do not make one more step.  I swear to God-”

“Dude, where are you?”

“I said STOP. Do not come into the kitchen!”

Quickly he rolls her to his chest, hiding her face from the room, depending on where Scott might be, covering her exposed ass with her t-shirt.

“Fuck, dude, all I see are legs, feet, clothes and that stupid ass sweatshirt.  Hey, pretty girl!”  Chris’s younger brother says.

“Hey, Scott,” she calls out.

There’s a moment of silence as he ponders something, and Dodger runs back into the room with his ball, bounding around the island and nuzzling the back of her head and she can’t help but laugh.  “I hate you,” she whispers into Chris’s neck.

“No, you don’t.  You love me,” he teases, pinching her ass and throwing the ball so Dodger will run away again.  “You always have.”

“I know that voice; why do I know that voice?” Scott asks.

“Scott, toss me some towels from the laundry room, and then go outside to start the campfire pit.  You can join us for dinner.”

“Oh my God!  JoJoGirl!  Is that you?”

“Hi, Scott,” she mumbles into Chris’s neck, embarrassed and amused at the same time.  “Get the fuck outta the kitchen so I can get dressed.”

“Oh my God; this is so exciting!”  He claps with glee and the towels drop to the floor next to them.  “You know, I’ve seen your ass before; I don’t know why you’re hiding it.”

“Get out!” Chris commands.

Scott leaves the kitchen area, mumbling about not being wanted, and Chris moves to a squat next to her.  He wraps her in the towel and picks her up in his arms, righting her to her feet.  “Go upstairs, second door on the left.  Just find something to wear for dinner and then I’ll send the idiot home, before we get sleep.”

“I thought you were taking me home.”

“I lied.  I trapped you here, and now I never want you to leave again.”

“Are you telling me you’re looking for a woman and a kid?  ‘Cause we’ve been looking for a man and a dog…”

“Hmmm…”  He hums.  “Tell me more about this boat you have.”

Copyright ©2017 avenger-nerd-mom.  All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom

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Hey strangers!- an author’s note

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve updated things over here.  I just wanted all my amazing followers to know that I’ve been busy working on some original fiction pieces for publication.  I wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for all the love and support you have given me.  Every comment, every read spurs me on to write more.  I’m not saying I’m done with fan fiction by any means, but while those ideas seem to be quiet in my head right now, I’m working with what speaks to me.  I’ll try to get a sneak peak of my newest original fiction ready to post soon!

Love, avenger-nerd-mom

Online Shopping

online shopping august 9 2017.jpg

An Emery & Chris Drabble

By avenger-nerd-mom

Emery visits Chris in South Africa, spending the day in their hotel room while he works.

Warnings: Fluff, none

A special thanks to @mintmintdoodles for allowing me to make reference to her artwork and merchandise in this story.  See her shop at https://society6.com/mintmint/backpacks

Emery looks up from her computer with the key card slides through the hotel lock.  She bounds across the room and greets her handsome, scruffy husband at the door.  Sunburned and almost unrecognizable with his shaggy hair, she throws her arm around his neck, nearly knocking him over.  “Someone’s in a good mood,” he chuckles.

Chris closes the door behind him and wraps his strong arms around her waist, lifting her and carrying her to the bed.  He tosses her to the center and kisses down her tanned legs in her summer shorts before sitting on the end of the bed with a groan.  He pulls off his boots and massages the tops of his feet, achy from the tight laces. “How was your day?”

His lovely bride places her tiny feet on his back and walks them up and down his spine.  He sits there and takes the silly, loving gesture.  “Worked on some stuff for school, read a good book.  Did some shopping.”

Chris turns on the bed and takes her feet into his lap, pulling her closer to him, wanting her near.  “Shopping?  Em, I asked you not to leave the room.  It’s not really the safest around here and-”

“Honey, chill.  No, I was shopping on-line, getting some supplies, setting up some meal kit deliveries I want us to try out, and,” she announces with a dramatic flourish, “I got you a present.”  She moans quietly when he raises her foot to kiss under the arch.  “Damn,” she hisses.  “That’s nice.”

He sighs, “A present, Em.  You didn’t have to do that.  You’re all the gift I need.”

“Fuck that bullshit, I wanna get my man I gift, I’m getting him a gift.  I don’t care if you can go out and get whatever we want.  I saw this today, and I had to order it.  You need it.”

He lays down on the bed next to her, turning his face to look into her beautiful blue eyes.  “Fine, okay, I won’t be home for a few more weeks.  Do I have to wait that long?”

She playfully punches his arm.  “See?  I knew you secretly liked it when I buy you presents!”  She wiggles on the bed and pulls her phone from her back pocket.  Scrolling through a few images she hides the phone against her face.  “You ready?  Close your eyes!”

Chris sighs and pushes his longer hair back.  He closes his eyes, and his legs anxiously wiggle the bed in anticipation.  It’s one of the things she hates, but really misses when he’s gone.  In profile, relaxed on the bed, he looks so beautiful, but it’s not the face she knows.  She’ll be happy when he’s finished filming in Cape Town and he can get back home to her.  They’ve made a few plans for the Fall when he gets back, before he has to be in New York for rehearsals for his stage debut.  She holds the phone above him and whispers in his ear, “Open your eyes!”

His clear blue eyes slowly peek open and it takes him a moment to focus.  He laughs out loud.  “Oh, my God!  That’s wicked, kitten!  Is that a… a backpack with Dodger on it?”  He chuckles.  “In a Patriots jersey?  Fuck, Em.  That’s perfect.  How did you find it?”

He lays the phone down on the bed and reaches for her, rolling his petite wife on top of him.  He misses the weight of feeling her on him and he hates being apart so much.  It really is the perfect thing, so adorable, but he doesn’t really know what to do with a backpack.

She smiles down into his face, propped up on her elbow and using her other hand to massage his beard.  The longer it gets, the more it bothers him, but he can’t trim it now, not in the middle of filming.  He knows she hates it, but she doesn’t say a word.  “I still have some of my friends in the fandom, and Mint is an amazing artist. I just saw it when she posted it today, and knew you had to have it.  I know it’s a little childish, but Dodger?  In a jersey?”   She pauses and pushes her red curls back and out of their faces.  “Honestly, my first thought when I saw it was that it would make the perfect diaper bag.”

Chris rolls his wife to his side and rises up on his elbows.  Hopefully, he asks, “Are we- are we pregnant again?”

Her miscarriage last spring had been devastating to take, and they hadn’t really been trying for another child, but they hadn’t been not trying either.  She runs her hand down his chest, shaking her head.  “No.  No, but I can think about it now, and it doesn’t hurt…  I just saw the bag and thought it would be really sweet if that’s what you carried around baby supplies in.  You’ll make all the men at the ‘daddy and me’ classes jealous!”

She giggles and he leans over to kiss the tip of her nose. “That’s my girl, glad to see your smile back. Thank you, babe.  I love it; I’ll wear it everywhere.”  He tucks her up to his side and caresses his fingers through her hair, wanting to capture every moment before she returns back to the States at the end of the week.  “Love you till the end of the line, babe.”

He smiles, knowing she’s asleep in his arms before he even finishes the sentence.

Copyright © 2017  avenger-nerd-mom. All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom

Everything She Wanted

ch 46 Everything She Wanted August 9 2017

Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom & @devikafernando

AU FICTION

Chapter 46

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: 1104

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, angst, moving forward

Summary:  Thalia returns home after a dinner out with an old friend.

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

The house is quiet when she tosses her purse and coat over the chair.  Setting the keys on the side table, she smiles at the glasses resting on top of the unfinished Times crossword puzzle from last week.  She pulls off her heels and leaves them by the railing.  Climbing the stairs, she can’t wait to get out of the tight fitting dress and into her comfortable jammies.  She still has some research to do for the upcoming presentation for the university, but the bed is calling her name.

The light from the room across the hall is still on, and she pauses just outside the door, listening to the solid deep voice reading about the fairy tale princess who got everything she wanted.  A soft giggle fills the air, and a sweet voice reaches her ears, “Oh, Poppa, don’t be silly.  Fairy tales don’t come true.”

Thalia steps into the light and Chris’s beaming smile warms her heart.  “Oh, honey, I think sometimes they do.”  He winks at her as Thalia sits on the edge of the bed, pulling the blankets up under Avery’s chin.

“What do you think, Thalia?  Do they?” the little girl asks, grasping the woman’s fingers in hers.

“Oh, sweetie, I think they do too, but I think sometimes you have to be the hero in your own story.”  Her warm chocolate brown eyes sweep across the postcards above the bed, ones she’s sent the child of far-off places around the world, the pyramids of Egypt, the Coliseum in Rome, and the Eiffel Tower in Paris.   Her eyes settle on the photo of the three of them in front of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center.  “The handsome prince doesn’t have to be the one to save the day.”  Her eyes glisten with tears as she kisses the little girl on the forehead.  “Goodnight, Bug.  We’ll fix pancakes in the morning before I get you to swim lessons, sound good?”

The little girl tugs on her curls and sleepily nods her head.  “Yum, will you add cinnamon and vanilla, like Poppa does?”  Her thumbs up in response to Thalia’s silent nod is good enough.  Avery whispers. “I’m glad you’re here, T.”

Chris chuckles and hands her Mr. Bear.  “Goodnight, Bug, sweet dreams.”

Rising from the bed, the little girl is already half asleep when her father kisses her cheek and follows Thalia to the hallway.

Closing the door, he places his hand on her hip and leads them toward his room.   “The handsome prince doesn’t always get his way?  What kind of mixed up tale are you feeding the kid?” He chuckles quietly.

Thalia bumps his hip as they walk.  “Hey, sometimes the princess has to learn to stand on her own.”  She stops in front of the door and gently caresses the side of his face.  “You need a shave and haircut.”

He turns his head to kiss her palm.  “Fine, Princesa.”  His hand roams around her hip and rests across the small of her back.  “Alright then, I’m glad you can be her Fairy Godmother when you come for visits, if you won’t be the Queen of this castle.  You know, she loves it when you take her to swim class and help with her Spanish.”

“That’s good; that’s good.”  Thalia taps the door frame, reading his intent.  “I can’t stay with you; you know that.”  She points to the other door.  “The guest room, Chris, that’s where I stay when I’m here on university business.”

He playfully bangs his head against the wall, “Aw, come on.  Can’t blame a man for trying.  Comin’ in my house, looking like that.  How many ties hold the dress closed?”  He winks at her and pushes back her mane of curls. “Ah, fuck, Thalia.  I hate it when you decide to act like an adult.”

She giggles, and her voice drops low so she doesn’t wake the child.  “My will still isn’t that strong.”  She leans into him, claiming his mouth.  She can taste the lingering flavor of his after dinner coffee and her mouth smiles against his.  Chris slides his hand up her back and tugs her hair at the base of her neck.  He twists his fingers in the curls there as their tongues tangle, each French kiss chasing the other.  The hand on her hip holds tight and her fingers roam across his chest.  She can feel him, hard against her thigh as he tries to wiggle his leg between hers.  Her brain is jumbled and she holds on when he moans quietly in frustration.

A quiet voice in the back of her mind tells her she needs to stop this, but all thoughts run away when he pulls her hair back and attaches his wet, plump lips to her neck.  A small gasp escapes the back of her throat as his other hand begins to grope under her breast.  His thumb caresses over her taut nipple, pinching and squeezing, teasing the lacy fabric across her skin.  Pushing him back, she whines, “Ah, fuck, Chris, no.  We can’t.”  Creating a space between them, she keeps her hand on the waist of his loose sweatpants.  “Damn you; you’re evil.”

Chris reaches for the doorknob behind him, opening his room.  “There’s room for two, Thalia.  You don’t have to keep running away.  I’ve been down on my knee once before to ask-”

She sighs and kisses him softly on the cheek, stepping back and breaking the spell between them.  The reminder of his proposal still stings her heart.  “I’m not ready for what you need; maybe I should stop coming back, so you can move on?”

Leaning against the door jam, Chris crosses his arms.

chris at door

He nods his understanding.  “When you’re gone everything is gray.  I’d rather have moments of color, like these, than to have a lifetime of dark.  You taught me to walk in the sunshine again, Thalia.  You’ll always be mine,” he scoffs quietly.  “Even when you’re not… Good night, Niña. Te amo.”  With a wink and a crook of his eyebrow, he enters his room, alone.

“Te amo,” she whispers, as his door closes.  The dark-haired beauty returns to the space he offered her some time ago, when she was too afraid to stay in her own apartment.  Before entering her room, she looks down the empty quiet hall and envisions a life someday in a house of her own.  And she knows with more passing time, neither of her men will be the one who calls her “wife.”  Someday soon, one of them will grow up and leave her, but until then, she holds on just a little bit longer, not ready to make a decision.  For now, she’s happy being a princess, with two princes, each rescuing the other when they need it…  Still receiving her education from them both…

***

“Why are old lovers able to become friends? Two reasons: They never truly loved each other; or they love each other still.”

-Whitney Otto, How to Make an American Quilt

***

This concludes the story of Professor Evans, Thalia and Professor Hiddleston.

Click here for a “thank you” from one of the authors

Copyright © 2017  avenger-nerd-mom and devikafernando.  All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom

Mended

ch 45 Mended August 2 2017

Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU FICTION

Chapter 45

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: 1177

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, angst, moving forward

Summary: Eighteen months after her Paris internship ends, Thalia meets a friend for a quiet dinner for two.

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

Eighteen Months Later…

Watching the man across from her, her eyes crinkle at the memories they created together.  Late nights on campus, his office, visits to sites in Italy and Greece.  Her hand reaches for his, rested on the table.  “Thank you.  Thank you for loving me; for teaching me to be free and open. I know…”  she sighs and pulls her hand back.  “I know I didn’t handle things well;  I know we’ve talked about it before; but I’m sorry.  I really am.”

His fingers drum against his thigh, his legs spread in his comfortable position, a look of amusement on his face.  Dropping his gaze, he looks back at her through veiled lashes, his blue eyes just as sharp, taking in her movements, memorizing them till next time.  “I know you are; but I want you to know I don’t regret one single moment.  We both had a lot to learn, needed to grow up.  I guess I have a sappy side that hopes the next time our paths cross, we’ll be in a different place, ready to settle down, bend to one another.  Until then, I’m glad we can enjoy evenings out like these.  My only sorrow is I can’t convince you to come upstairs to my room with me.”

She looks across the fancy dining room, to the doorway leading to the extravagant lobby.  Her body yearns to say yes, to fall to his knees in worship, to allow him to take care of her body, in a way he only knows.  Tilting her head in thought, her mind wins.  With a slight shake of her head, she says,  “No, no; I can’t tonight.”  She smiles warmly.  “In fact, I really need to get going.”

Looking at his watch, he sighs in disapproval.  “It will be months before I see you again, before we are in the same part of the world.”

Rising to aid her from the chair, he places her coat over his arm and they walk to the concierge desk to call for her car.  He admires the view as the Latina beauty speaks quietly in Spanish to the attendant and she coolly offers him a tip.  Turning back to him, she winks playfully, shrugging her shoulders.  “What can I say?  Everything I learned, I learned from you.”

He chuckles and the warmth fills the air between them.  He helps her into her coat; the puffy one is long gone, replaced by traditional wool, but she still wears the signature pink scarf.  Leaving the coat unfastened, he helps wrap the hand-knit scarf around her neck, caressing his hand gently across her cheek, his thumb pressing against her scar there.  “No.  You got it wrong, I learned from you.  You taught me so much; things I needed to know after all these years.  You did the educating, Thalia….”

A little silver car pulls into view and she nods, “This is me.  Improved, huh?  Lot nicer than that junker I used to drive…”  Her voice chokes and tears form under her lashes.  Through a tight whisper, she says, “You know I can never say goodbye; not to you.  You always have a piece of my heart.”

She rises on her tiptoes and places a tender kiss to his cheek, resting a finger over his lips to silence whatever words he had lurking there.  His eyes are shiny with the same unshed tears as hers. Feeling like tearing a part of her heart out, Thalia turns to leave.

She’s barely made two steps before strong fingers wrap themselves around her arm. They pull her back with such force that she stumbles against the hard body, its contours so familiar yet now so rarely molded against her own. A second arm snakes under her coat, around her waist and tugs her even closer, breasts pressed against his chest, one thigh wedging between her legs and making her shudder in forbidden delight. The hand on her arms moves up to wrap long fingers around her neck and tilt her head.

Lips parted, pulse racing, needing this desperately, Thalia stares into his face.  The gut-wrenching mix of pain and desire make his handsome features even more striking and she burns them into her memory.

“Oh no you don’t,” he half-growls, his voice rough around the edges, not caring that people on the sidewalk pass around them. “You don’t get to walk away like this.  Be mine, if just for this moment…  If I really own a piece of your heart, then prove it to me.”

She blinks at him, their faces so close that she can feel his breath ghost over her face, smell dinner and beneath that the unique scent of him that used to linger on her hands and clothes for days.  The sounds of the city melt away and the only noise between them are their beating hearts and ragged breaths.

“Prove it,” he repeats, and the commanding tone snaps her into action, her body reacting on a subconscious level. She bridges the minimal distance and seals her mouth over his, pouring all her longing into the kiss.

As soon their mouths connect, control is taken from her. His lips press harder, then his teeth nip her lower lip and make her swallow down a needy whimper. The tip of his tongue sneaks out to soothe the sting, only to bite down again, this time a little harder. Thalia’s hands fist in the coat at his back, as if she wants to be even closer. Their bodies rub against each other as restlessly and greedily as their mouths.  His tongue dives deep, slicks against hers and draws back before she can really taste him.

The kiss goes on and on like that, until it feels as if his tongue has explored and re-learned every tiny crevice of her mouth, drawn her essence into him to store it away as a tantalizing memory. Their breaths mingle until she doesn’t know where he ends and she begins, until she can barely remember her name.

Her pulse is hammering against his palm, as intense as the throb lower down where his thigh nudges possessively. When he finally pulls back, his tongue caressing her swollen lips in a last lick, Thalia knows she would have sunk to the floor in a puddle if his powerful arms weren’t still holding her close.

This time, he’s the one who presses a tender kiss to her cheek, so chaste and yet marking her, burning through her skin right into her core.

Before she can really surface from her trance, he steps back and lets her go, his pupils dilated as his stormy blue gaze rakes her from head to toe one last time, lingering on her thoroughly kissed mouth.

“Go. For now,” he says, so quietly she can barely hear it.

Knowing that she’s fighting a losing battle, she wheels around and walks away on shaky legs. Hastily she climbs in the car and drives away, the long talk and heated kiss actually leaving their hearts just a bit more mended than before.

Click here to read Chapter 46 Everything She Wanted

 Copyright © 2017  avenger-nerd-mom and devikafernando.  All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom

Paris

ch 44 Paris August 2 2017.jpg

Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom & @devikafernando

AU FICTION

Chapter 44

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: 1966

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, angst, relationship issues

Summary:  Tom meets Thalia in Paris for a holiday, bringing news from the States.

Click here to read the intro for Educating Thalia

From the table on the veranda, Tom looks through the house and watches Thalia at the front door of the little cottage, speaking broken French to the delivery boy.  He smiles at the way she shifts her weight,  her hands pushing her hair back from her face.  He’s memorizing every moment, burning the images into his brain, knowing he’ll need them for the cold, lonely nights to come.

Pivoting on her heels as she closes the entry, she sees him through the doorway and her eyes light up.  Resting the bag of food in one hand, she asks, “More tea?”

“No, darling, I’m fine.  Come out here; it’s beautiful.”  The sweep of his arm indicates the view over the valley below, but his eyes remain on her full figure.  Just a few weeks apart, and she’s changed, even more womanly than before, but something is different.  He hasn’t been able to put his finger on it…  “Stop where you are,” he commands.  She quirks her eyebrow and freezes mid step, one foot balanced in front of the other.  “Set the bag down, darling; I’m not hungry yet anyway.  Take off your robe.”

“A different hunger, then?” She teases, placing the bag on the coffee table, and she seductively unties the silk cover, letting it drop from her shoulders.  She closes her eyes and sucks in her breath, as his eyes wash over her, taking in the faint bruises still on her ribcage.

Tom turns his head, squinting, finally seeing the difference.  “Thalia, have you lost weight?”  He motions her forward and pats his thigh, inviting her to sit there.

Resting on his offered leg, she swings her legs over his lap and he cradles his arms around her.  “Well, not on purpose,” she pouts.  “I’m not fond of the French food,” she explains.  “Seriously, all I eat is salad, bread and cheese.  I love the carbs, but I guess with all the walking around the city…  I hate it.  Send me to Rome!  Fatten me up,” the dark haired beauty jokes.

Tom inhales the scent of her hair, a lump catching in his throat.  “Italy it is, then, my love; let’s put it on the calendar.”

She tugs at the button on his shirt, her fingers creeping between the fabric and caressing the curls on his chest.  She sighs deeply.  “That sounds wonderful, Tom.”  Her tone is sad as she pulls away, sliding off his lap and into her own chair next to him.  He wonders if he’ll ever see Rome through her eyes…  Looking down at the papers and books in front of him, she asks, “What’s all this?”

Tom purses his lips and nods.  He pauses, looking down at the vineyards, taking in the view and judging his words wisely.  “It’s a syllabus for next fall; working out some new things.”

Perched on the edge of her seat, in her silk bra and panties, she looks over the books carefully, lifting one thick volume and admiring it.  “Tom?  These aren’t for classes you teach… are you… Are you offering a new elective?”

fingers on mouth TH.gif

He runs his hand thoughtfully over his mouth, back and forth, pushing against his lips.  The scruff on his chin is raw against his fingertips.  “They are.  They’re for classes I’ll be teaching at another university, Thalia…”

Hugging the book to her chest, her jaw drops.  “What?”  she whispers.  “You’re leaving?  You can’t leave…  Did they…”  Thalia shakes her head.  “Did someone find out about us?  Did you get fired because of me?  Because if you did–”

Tom scoots his chair closer to hers, trapping her anxiously wiggling legs between his.  Pulling the book from her, his fingers graze her skin and the heat is felt in his touch.  “No, no darling.  Nothing like that.  If anyone knows, nothing has been said to me.”  Taking her hands in his, he holds them tight and runs his thumbs over the back of her hand.   Tears fill his eyes and he chokes on his words.  “I can’t… I can’t go back to a place you’re not.”  He sucks in a deep breath, his tears falling.  He looks up to her tear streaked face and tentatively smiles when she bites her lip to hold back a sob.  He raises her hands to his lips and kisses them tenderly, dropping one of her hands to free his.

Tom rests his large palm against her face, his thumb caressing over the scar on her cheek.  He smiles through the tears.  “I couldn’t… I couldn’t be happy there anymore without you, my Warrior Princess.”  He sighs.  “Oh, how you lived up to that name.”  Her free hand runs over his thigh, squeezing it tightly as her chocolate brown eyes rapidly read his face.  “You fought so hard, darling; you’ve worked so hard, and I’m so proud of you.  I loved you.”  He inhales shakily, his voice rough when he repeats his words. “I love you and I never said it.  I should have, a thousand times over, loud enough so you could hear it… But instead I pushed you away.  I thought I was too old for you; too set in my ways–”

“Oh, Tom,” she sighs, coughing back the tears.  “I–”

“No, no; don’t.”  His fingertip presses her lips closed.  “I know.  I always knew…  I knew you loved me too, yet I did nothing to change my behaviors, and I’ll live with that regret the rest of my life, Thalia.”  Her gasping cries fill the space between them.  He wants nothing more than to hold her close but he knows for the sanity of them both he needs to keep his resolve.  He came to Paris to tell her he loves her, and he did.  But now it’s time to let her go…  “I had the wild orchid I always searched for and didn’t know what to do with it when I found it.”  He chuckles, pulling back and wiping his nose on the back of his wrist.

The spell broken, she shoves her wild hair back and ties it loosely before reaching for a napkin on the table.  Wiping her tear stained cheeks, she holds the wadded tissue to her mouth.  “Tom… Tom, you’re too important to me to just let go; I don’t know if I can go on alone.  I don’t know if I want to…”

“But you should, darling, and you can.  And maybe…  Maybe you’ll choose someone else.”  He stands from his chair and walks to the railing.  If she chooses him, his competition, he doesn’t want to know.  He’d run to the ends of the Earth to hide from that pain.  Turning back to her, his eyes glimpse into the other open doorway, the jumbled sheets and silk tie hanging from the edge of the bed, her favorite boots haphazard on the floor…  He sucks in a sharp breath, clenching his fists at his sides.  He pulls himself together and he smiles bravely.  “And maybe I’m deluding myself, thinking we were friends before, and we can be friends again.  I feel like in our line of work, we’ll cross paths soon enough.  I already saw your name listed for the return trip to Stratford Upon Avon next Spring.  My new school is taking students as well; that’s one of the reasons why they hired me when I approached them. They know my work in the field…  Work I couldn’t have accomplished without you, Thalia.  I feel like you’ve made me the man I am today.”

Shaking off her sadness, obviously still stunned, Thalia stands from her chair, rising tall. Following his lead, as she always has, he thinks to himself…  Her words are quiet and filled with sorrow.  “Well, I know for damn sure I wouldn’t be the person I am now without your influence during the last year.”  Sucking in a deep breath, she walks back into the cottage and bends to pick up her robe.  Sliding the delicate fabric back over her skin, she looks to him.  “Okay, then… As they say, ‘We’ll always have Paris…’”  Her voice is shaky, but she continues.  “And, well, your new school will be lucky to have you, and as your friend, I’d be happy to give guest lectures on various topics.”  She knots the belt and walks back onto the veranda, leaning against the rail next to Tom.

For quite some time, they stand in silent next to one another.  The breeze catches the sleeve of her robe and the fine silk brushes against his arm.  The smell of her is so close to him, it wraps around him and becomes part of his memory.  From the corner of his eye, he can see her tears still silently fall and her chest heaves.  Tenderly, he places his arm around her and holds her close.  The Latina beauty melts into him and is so right in his arms.  He prays for a different outcome some day, but knows in his heart this isn’t what either of them need right now.  They both still have some growing up to do.

When her cries subside, her body warms again and she chuckles quietly.

“What’s so funny?” he asks, kissing the top of her head and stepping back to look down at her.

“Well, Sir, could you define ‘friend’ for me?”  Her eyes dance and he knows her teasing tone.  Sassy.  Thalia.  “Do you mean the ‘let’s get a coffee and catch up’ kind, or the ‘Hey, I just happen to be in your city and wondered if your bed was available’ kind?”

Tom’s ‘eh, eh, eh’ laughter bounces off the walls of the patio and birds startle and fly from the trees.  His amusement echoes hers.  “Oh, my darling, you are a wild child!”  With a slight push, he turns her around and points her towards the bedroom.  “Go get dressed, and let’s finish our sightseeing list for today.  We’ll just take it one day at a time, and learn a new way to be with one another.”

Thalia nods.  “Yes, Sir, what would you like me to wear?”

She laughs and runs away when he swats her rounded ass.  Out of his reach, she turns and sticks out her tongue.  “I’ll be a bit.  Gotta wash my hair; make a few calls for work.  You get some more planning done,” she orders.

All thoughts of getting any work accomplished have escaped him.  He knows she has reports to write for her office as well, so they’ll have to settle down again later in the evening.  Sighing, he cleans up his papers and shoves things back in his leather satchel.  His eyes rest on his glasses, folded on top of the copy of ‘Hamlet’ she’d lovingly held.

He whispers aloud, “Oh my dearest Thalia… ‘Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt I love.’”

His eyes fill with tears again and he chuckles quietly.  The words of the Bard always provide him comfort somehow…  Sucking in a deep breath, he pushes forward.  He only has two more days in Paris before meeting with his sister in London for a short visit before going back to the States to restart his life yet again.

Tom feels like he’s always running from something, but maybe now Thalia has shown him a greater purpose, something to run towards; to not be scared of the next time he sees it.  Picking up the spectacles, memories of their love and lovemaking dance through his thoughts.  He wonders for the hundredth time if he did indeed take advantage of a student, purely for his own whim and fantasy.  Walking into the little cottage he rented outside the city, he turns on the kettle and prepares to make a fresh cup of tea.  He decides it doesn’t really matter how it happened – he’s simply glad it did.

Click here to read Chapter 45 Mended

Author’s Note:  There are only two remaining chapters of Educating Thalia

 Copyright © 2017  avenger-nerd-mom and devikafernando.  All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom

Homecoming

ch 43 Homecoming July 30 2017.jpg

Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom & @devikafernando

AU FICTION

Chapter 43

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: 2831

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, real life discussions

Summary: Thalia returns from Chicago and encounters both Tom and Chris.

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

“Well, aren’t you two a sight for sore eyes… That nurse was right.”  Thalia looks over her shoulder, checking no one is behind her.  “Too good looking.”

She limps into the room, her knee in a brace, and leans against the refrigerator.  Surprised to see her, Chris beams up at her over the morning paper, his feet propped up in the staff lounge chair, as usual.  He moves to stand up and she motions him to stay.  Equally shocked, Tom hands her the tea he just made for himself, his smile just as happy.  Catching the quick questioning look that passes between the two men, she accepts the tea and teases, “Let me guess.  You’ve bonded in the time of my absence and become the best of friends!”

Chris chuckles, “Not likely I’m ever gonna be friends with this British arse.”

“Nor I with the American asshole,” Tom smiles, winking at her.

Thalia’s stomach twists in knots and she tries to act as if nothing is out of the ordinary between this little group in the staff room.  She feels like she’s failing miserably, in more ways than one…

“Wait, excuse me.  I have to change those to your new usernames in my phone.  I love that!”  She pulls it out of her pocket and slides across the screen, playfully pretending to type.   The tension in the air could be cut with a knife and she’s actually surprised they can stomach to be in the same space together.  She was not expecting to find them at the same time, and decides to play it off as cool as they seem to be.  It’s not the first time in the last few months they’ve all been in the little lounge at the same moment.  The only difference is, this time they all know. “British Arse,” she says slowly, brushing her free arm against Tom’s.  Stepping forward, she pulls out the chair Chris has his feet on, giggling awkwardly when they plop to the floor.  She sits down and he crosses his feet at the ankles under the chair, wiggling them back and forth so the tip of his shoe hits her leg each time.  “And American Asshole…  There. Saved.  So, what’s new?”  She raises her eyebrow at Chris, watching as he happily folds his hands over his stomach.

Tom walks around the table, patting her shoulder as he passes by, murmuring, “I guess I’m in no rush.  Since you’re here, I think I’ll stay.”  The tall, lanky gentleman sits down on the couch where he can see her lovely face. She chuckles silently to herself at how his legs automatically fall a mile wide open. The chuckle gets stuck in her throat when she sees him cringe at the greenish and purple bruises on her face.

Her countenance softens when his turns serious.  “Hey, I look a hell of a lot better than I did a few days ago….”  she says quietly to them both.

Chris shakes his head slowly.  “What are you doing here?  You still can take another week off.”

Bobbing her head, she says, “I can.  And I will.  I’m not pushing myself.  But I guess someone contacted a few of the offices on campus on my behalf?  It seems that I can count some of my undergrad work towards the course hours I had scheduled for the fall, and my internship this summer will count for so many hours towards my curator certificate.  I can graduate in August, but walk the stage in May, two semesters early.  Would either of you know anything about that?”

When neither man answers, she fidgets with a napkin on the table and continues.  “So I won’t officially graduate and have my diploma till August, but I can participate in ceremonial events this Spring, right before I leave for Paris.”

Tom speaks first.  “So you’ve decided on that placement?”

Chris’s head drops to his chest and he waits.

“I did.  It will lead to bigger and better things.”  She nervously runs her free hand through her hair pulling on a few tangles over her breast.  “But interestingly enough, I’ve also been offered the chance to teach some freshman level entry history classes here in the fall, should I wish to return.”

She smiles at the blush on Chris’s cheeks and the little thumbs up he gives that only she can see.  He takes off his glasses and lays them on the table.

“So lots of things to do in less than a month before you leave…” he states quietly rubbing his hands over his face.

Nodding, Thalia stretches out her leg and massages her thigh, above the brace.  “Thank you both for the flowers.  All the calls and messages really helped.”  Bending her knee slowly, she wonders if the pain will ever go away.  Tilting her head to the side, thinking of the beautiful arrangements and sweet letters that arrived daily, she adds, “Of course, my stepmom got suspicious.  That led to some interesting chats…”

“I still can’t believe you told your stepmother about- “  Tom begins before being interrupted.  A silent shake of her head answers his unspoken question when another faculty member enters the room for a coffee refill. They all take great pretense in doing separate work, Thalia checking her phone, Chris reading the paper and Tom skimming a magazine, fidgeting with his glasses in a way that lets her know he can’t hide his tension well.

“God, I hate that woman,” Tom says when she leaves.

“Was it Professor Kent?”  Thalia bounces in her seat with glee, turning to glance over her shoulder, still trying to keep things light.  “Oh, really?  Damn, I missed it.  I would have loved to chat with her.”

Tom laughs and the familiar “eh, eh, eh” warms her inside.  Hearing it in person is so much better than separated by miles and heartache.  Her eyes shift back to Chris, who watches her quizzically.  She can see he is trying to bring the conversation back around to more serious matters.  She rubs her eyebrow in frustration.  “I need to see each of you privately in the next few days.  I actually have some paperwork I need you to sign in order for me to graduate early.”

“I knew it,” Chris jokes.  “The whole reason you hit on me in the bar.  Your semester long ruse actually worked, Miss Bareo.”

They all chuckle and Tom stands, tugging down the leg of his pants and adjusting his tie.  “I didn’t miss that, Professor Hiddleston.  I saw it, sir,” Thalia says with raised brows. “Don’t you need to be getting to class?”

Tom grins at his tie and turns his wrist to check the time.  “In fact, I do.  I have office hours this afternoon if you’d like to come by.  We can spread things out on the desk to work, as we have in the past.”

His meaning isn’t lost on anyone and Chris pinches his lips closed.  Thalia sighs.  That wasn’t fair of him and she feels kicked in the gut, twisting inside at the hurt she’s caused them both.

“Actually, about that.  My medicines make me really sleepy.  On days I’m working on campus, can I hide in your office for a cat nap on your couch if I need it?”

He walks around behind her and swings her hair over her shoulder.  She sees him look to the door to make sure no one is passing by.  He bends, pressing his lips tenderly to her forehead and she feels Chris next to her tense.  “Of course, darling.  Anything you need and want.”

“Thank you,” she breathes out slowly, locking her eyes with his stormy blue ones briefly.  She whispers, “We talked about this on the phone; that wasn’t very nice.”

With a grimace, Tom quietly replies, “I’m being as nice as I bloody can.”

She tugs on the end of his tie.  “Try harder, please.”

Tom’s sigh is audible and he leaves the room in a huff.

Her eyes follow him out to the hallway before she turns to the other man.  “Chris, I have a favor to ask of you, too,” Thalia begins.  “I…  I don’t feel safe in my apartment; not yet anyway.”  She hates saying it outloud, fearing it as a weakness, but she doesn’t want to be alone.  “Will you stay with me some; on nights you don’t have Avery?”

Chris opens the paper and refolds it properly, tossing it back onto the table.  She watches him fight back a smile.  “Of course, I will.  You don’t even have to ask; you could even come stay at my place.”

She shakes her head ‘no’ in response. “I can’t, Chris.  I have to get over it; I can’t live my life in fear.  But I could use some help getting back on my feet.”  Harsh images flash across her mind and she shuts them down quickly.  Trying to change the subject, she adjusts the sling and grumbles in Spanish.  “Do you have any idea how awkward it is to have big tits and wear a sling?  I might as well be groping my boob all the time.”

Throwing his head back in laughter, it rumbles through her and she joins him.  “It is great to squeeze.  Your physical therapist doesn’t have you grabbing it to regain use of your hand?”

Three of her fingers had been broken in the melee as well and she would be starting physical therapy soon, but not yet.  Her lopsided grin takes him in.  “I guess I have you to thank for the newly remodeled stairwell and fresh paint that greeted me when I got home two nights ago?”

“Guilty.  It was my idea, but Tom, Jim, Tina and some of the other patrons helped out.”  Twirling his glasses between his fingers, Chris shifts in his seat uncomfortably.  “Two nights?  You’ve been home that long and didn’t tell either of us?”

Looking at the ground, she shyly replies.  “I just needed time, and I didn’t know how you’d both really feel now.”  Her heart pounds in her chest.  She doesn’t want to do this now; she can’t. She’s tired and worn out and needs to keep her energy up for another meeting scheduled for the afternoon with the Dean, about her early graduation.  She’s still fearful, even after all the phone calls the last few days from department secretaries sharing with her this new development, that this could all crash down; that news of their affairs will leak.

Chris anxiously bounces in his seat, but his words wrap around her.  “It doesn’t change how I feel about you.  Even battered and bruised, you are the most beautiful woman I know, Thalia Bareo, inside and out.  And you got half these battle scars,” he wipes his hand across the stitches on her cheek, “because you kicked back.  You’re strong and amazing, the type of woman I want by my side as long as you’ll have me.”

Leaning forward, resting his elbows on his knees, he can see under her lowered eyes.  She lifts her face to his and he takes her free hand in his.  “Can I ask you one question?”

His serious tone immediately sends up a warning flag.  She jumps quickly to humor to deflect his mood.  “Of course, Chris, you can sign my cast…  I’m sure you’ve been planning secret messages for it.  I’m hoping it’s a dirty limerick!”  Her radiant smile lights up her face but her raspy voice doesn’t meet the same level of enthusiasm, as she tries to ease some of the tension.  She reaches to adjust the collar of his shirt, and pulls the chain of his Saint Christopher’s medallion free, resting it against his chest and pressing it into him.  She sighs.  “What do you need to know, babe?”  She whispers quietly.

Frustrated, he sighs.  “Did you ever tell him you love him?”

Her smile softens.  Thoughtfully, she replies, “I may have said it to boys, when I was younger… But I’ve never said it to any man…”  She thinks about adding something else, but leaves it at that.

Pressing his forehead to hers, Chris slowly slides his nose down her cheek before softly and delicately landing his lips to hers.  Twisting her fingers in the chain, she gently taps his chest and they separate with a sweet ‘pop.’ Without a word, Chris makes his exit to get to his next class. Thalia watches him leave, and for a moment the pain in her heart is bigger than that of all her slowly healing injuries.

From the hallway she hears Chris’ booming voice, breaking her from her dark thoughts.  “Hey, Hiddleston.  Hear anything ya like?  Aren’t you late to class, man?  Shouldn’t be standing around like that…”

“American asshole.”  She hears Tom complain under his breath, a touch of endearment adding charm to his clipped words, and a slow half-smile creeps onto her face though her heart is still aching.

Her men.

Raising the mug Tom offered her, the tea is now lukewarm on her lips.  She feels like she just watched them both walk out of her life, but in the end, she’s really the one who’s leaving, in a larger, more profound sense.  Graduation.  Paris.  Time to grow up and enter the real world…  Her time in Chicago was the beginning of a goodbye, a step forward in a different direction. And part of her wants to freeze time, and relive all that’s happened before, to do it all again in a less hurtful way… but another part of her knows things have to change so each of them can grow and learn, heal and move ahead…

She gets up to warm the tepid beverage and the weight on Thalia’s shoulders is heavy as she walks to the microwave.  Watching as it spins on the turnstyle, silent tears run down her cheeks and she hides behind her mass of curls.  Angrily pushing the tears across her face, she chuckles, thinking how irritated Tom would be if he knew she was reheating it like that.

With the passing time, the classes change and other faculty come in as their breaks begin and they offer Thalia their condolences and their well wishes for a speedy recovery.  Many have heard the news she will graduate early and rejoice in that.  She can’t handle the noise, the joviality of it all, when she feels like a part of her is dying.  Thalia quickly washes out her mug and leaves.

As she moves slowly across the campus she loves, her heart breaks and the tears flow freely.  With her graduation looming and the internship in Paris, she knows it’s time to say goodbye.  Stopping at a bench under a tree blooming with spring flowers, Thalia tries to pull herself together.  With a sigh, Thalia shifts and wiggles but can’t really get comfortable.  She hasn’t been comfortable in weeks, feeling the most herself when she’s by their side.  Shaking her head, she knows she has to learn to stand on her own again

With her elbow rested on the arm of the bench, she presses her lips against her raised fist in thought.  In a total fantasy world, she could keep them both!  She giggles at the thought.  “Two alpha males,” she mutters out loud, shaking her head.  They’d murder each other in a week.  At this point, it’s not her decision to make; each man will have to decide for himself what he wants.  She’s juggled them both this long; she might as well keep doing it as long as they will let her.  She loves them both, and right now she feels it would kill her if she had to make a choice…

To her left, she watches a couple lying on a blanket in the warm sun, surrounded by books and laughing.  The tears begin to fall again, because that’s what she wants, someone to be by her side in the sun, not hiding anymore.  The difficult part is, she can envision that future with both men.  She’s had dreams of her and Tom, with a curly haired little boy walking between them, his clipped British accent, much like his father’s…  or the Evans’ cabin, the breakfast table crowded around, several children with their noses hidden in books, the youngest in glasses, like her father.

She chokes on her sobs, letting it all bubble out, ignoring the stares of passing students.  Someone offers her a tissue and she takes it, her thoughts still swarming as quickly as her stomach turns.  Chris and Tom are both special to her in so many ways, and the dark haired beauty knows she’ll never forget them.  Behind her closed eyes, a million memories of treasured moments flood her mind, and she’ll rely on that comfort in the months to come. Her two men have shown her sides to her character that she never had any idea about, and she’s thankful for the lessons she’s learned.

Click here to read Chapter 44 Paris

Author Note:  There are three remaining chapters.  (Lucky readers!  After brainstorming the authors decided an additional chapter was needed for Wednesday, August 2.)

 Copyright © 2017  avenger-nerd-mom and devikafernando.  All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom

Apologies

ch 42 apologies July 26 2017

Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom & @devikafernando

AU FICTION

Chapter 42

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:  3559

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, recovery, forgiveness, concern, anguish, family relationships

Summary:  Thalia has a special visitor in Chicago while she takes time away to heal…

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

Author’s Note:  There are three remaining chapters in this series.

His knees practically knock together from sheer nervousness.  He truthfully can’t remember the last time he stood on a girl’s front porch, facing the fear of meeting her family.  He clutches the fragrant bouquet in his hands, smiling that he will soon smell the scent on her skin in person.  Pushing the buzzer, he chuckles to himself at the sound of a little dog barking fiercely on the other side of the door.

A quiet voice calls out, “Buster, hush!  I hear it; I’m coming.”

The intricately carved wooden door opens and a pretty blonde smiles out at him.  “More flowers?”  She chuckles.  “I hope they’re paying you extra this week for all these deliveries.”

She reaches for them, with cash in her hand.  A tip.  She thinks he’s a delivery person.  He clears his throat and says, “No, um, actually, I’m here to see Thalia?  I’d like to deliver these in person.”

The smile on her face grows and her head bobs up and down.  “Mmm… I see. Are you Chris or Tom?  Come on inside.”  She ushers him in, closing the door behind him.  Before he can speak, she continues, narrowing her eyes at him.  “I remember you.  You were at the club?”

Nodding, Chris replies and introductions and pleasantries are exchanged.  A yip pulls his attention down to the little dog sitting at his feet.  “Buster, you go.” She waves the dog away.  “I’m safe, ya silly mutt…  Follow me.  She’s holed up in her room and doesn’t come out much.  She didn’t mention you were planning to visit?”

“She, uh, doesn’t know I’m here. In Chicago.  She has no idea I was coming to visit.”  He admits nervously, following her down a hallway, catching glimpses of a dining room and family room.  They veer to the right and this hallway is lined with family photos.  He wishes he had time to stop and look, to see pictures of Thalia as a little girl, to know her life.

“Relax, sweetie.  If you’re half the man she thinks you are, she’ll be glad to see you.”

Her words stop him in his tracks.  Not paying attention, he runs right into her when she stops at a door.  “Sorry.  What?  She told you about me?”  Another piece clicks in his brain.  “You asked if I was ‘Chris or Tom.’  So you know?”

“The dining room banquet table looks like a showroom for a floral shop.  Honestly, all the conflicting smells are giving me a headache,” she smiles.  “When the flowers kept coming, I started to figure it out.  Two boyfriends?  Good for her!”

Stacey pats Chris’s arm gently and he likes her instantly.  She knocks on the door.  “Thalia, honey, you-”

A muffled response comes through the door.  “Stacey, I’m tired.  Whatever it is, let it wait.  I’ll be down for dinner.  We can even braid my hair tonight, but just let me be, please.”

The broken sound of her raspy voice is heartbreaking, but just hearing it springs alive his hopes.  His pulse races knowing she’s on the other side of that door and the thought he could be the one to lift her spirits. If she’ll accept his apologies…

“But Thalia,” she pushes open the door, ignoring her stepdaughter’s request.  “You have a guest.”  With a flourish of her arm, she ushers Chris into the room.

Her eyes widen in shock and her mouth pops into the sweet little “oh” she sometimes makes.  “I’ll leave you two alone,” Stacey says warmly, closing the door on her exit.

“What are- How?  I mean… What the hell?  I can’t make words.” She giggles.  “We kept playing phone tag and… and you didn’t answer my messages.  I thought-”

Not knowing really what to say, needing to rein in his emotions at her presence, he stalls for time.  “You’re watching TV?”  Chris looks around the little room, an obvious shrine to her high school days.  It doesn’t look like a thing has changed since she left for college.  He can feel her eyes watching him, but he needs to look.  Stepping to her desk, his eyes brush over photos of friends and family, the same funeral announcement she keeps in her apartment and a high school plaque for her top score on a college readiness assessment.  Turning back to her, he smiles.  “You hate television.”

Her battered body sits propped up between pillows on each side, her right arm in a sling and her other hand resting near the remote.  The bruising is still harsh, and the stitches mark her cheek.  “Look like hell, don’t I?  Can’t fuckin’ sleep.  Meds keep me up at night and I sleep all day.  I’m hungry, but then I throw up, and please, please, as much as I love to share a laugh with you, please don’t make me laugh.  My ribs ache so much….”  She turns off the program.  “Hate that shit.  If that’s a ‘real housewife,’ I don’t wanna be one….  My brain is turning to mush already.  I can feel it.”  Tucking her hair back, she sighs.  “Please, come around here. Sit on my good side.”  She motions him to the left of the bed.  “I’m glad you’re here, Chris.  It’s a nice surprise.”

Holding out her good hand, Chris realizes he’s still standing there awkwardly with the bouquet of orchids and pink calla lilies in his hand.  Stepping forward, he kisses her forehead, the one spot on her face not bruised.  Whispering he says, “Hey, Niña.  I missed you.”  He hands her the flowers and she inhales their aroma, murmuring how beautiful they are.  He eyes the row of vases lined up on a bookshelf under the window.  “I promised you a Spring Break together.  I always make good on my promises; you know that.”

“You do; that you do.”  She hands the bouquet back to him and he lays it on the bedside table before sitting gently on the bed next to her.  “That’s why three is my favorite number now, you know.  You and your promises.  Scootch closer and turn so I can see you better.  I missed your face.”

His heart melts.  Whatever anger he had, distrust he felt… he feels it all rush from his body the minute her hand rests on his thigh.  First giving a squeeze of his tight muscle, she turns her palm up, inviting him to hold her hand.  Just as he has so many times before, he winds his fingers between hers and holds her hand tenderly.

holding hands Chicago Chris.gif

“I was an ass, Thalia.  The things I said?  I-”

“Stop.  I don’t wanna do that.  You’re here now.  Don’t you think that says everything?”

Her eyes brim with tears and she wiggles uncomfortably on the bed.  He simply nods.  “Yea, I guess it does, but I still want to say I’m sorry.  Seeing you in that hospital bed?  That was the scariest moment of my life, listening to you tell-”

“I don’t wanna do that either.  You haven’t answered my messages; did you know they got him?  Tina had a frying pan in her bag,” she chuckles.  Wincing, she pulls her hand free, placing it on her ribs and dropping her head back in pain.  “Shit, I keep forgetting not to laugh,” she states painfully.  “She had a frying pan and hit him over the head, several times.  That’s why they found a bloody handprint on the door.  He was clutching his head when he ran off.  She covered me with a blanket and called 911.”  Placing her hand back in his, she traces over his fingers and up the veins on his arms, looking to them and avoiding his watchful gaze.  Her touch calms him and he feels at peace for the first time in days.

“They tell me she stayed with me till she heard the sirens but then she left because she was afraid they’d make her leave or she’d be in trouble for hitting him.  Can you believe that?”   Shaking her head in disbelief she raises her dark chocolate eyes to his.  Under her long lashes, he sees how tired she is, and a little hazed from the pain medications.  “She’s a hero, and she thought she’d be in trouble…”

“That’s amazing; and I already knew. I’ve talked to Jim. But thank you for telling me.”  His hand slides up her arm, tickling the soft spot at her elbow, to her hand, where she’s tracing over an old faded tattoo.  He lifts it to his lips and kisses gently, the velvety softness of her skin warm against his plump lips.

“So too mad to talk to me, but asking my friend about me?  Man, that is such a punk ass little boy move, Evans,” she teases, hitting his leg.  “No boys for me… You have to be my man.  The one to take care of me.”

“Then I failed horribly, because I wasn’t there when you needed me most.”  He doesn’t want to remind her she has another man for that task as well.  “Thalia, honey, I wasn’t avoiding your calls.  I was busy working extra hours, late ones, on a last minute…”  He pauses, searching for the right word, but not finding it, so he continues,  “… thing… that came up and several faculty members were called in to help. I was afraid if I called, I’d wake you.  And then I just lay awake for hours, thinking all the horrible thoughts, and-”  his words drift off…

Like she can read his sad thoughts, she pulls her hand free and caresses his cheek, scratching her fingers in his scruffy stubble. “Hey, stop.  I handled myself.  I can be a tough bitch when I need to be…”  Sighing she closes her eyes and strengthens herself.  “You were both there when I really needed you most.  And you untucked my feet from that damn blanket.  I am forever indebted to you.”

Carefully resting a fist on the bed at her right hip, he leans over her, mindful not to bump her injuries and he delicately hovers his lips over her lush full mouth.  She sighs contentedly and her tongue flicks out, wetting her lips in anticipation of their connection to come.  Lightly, he brushes against her, the kiss growing from soft and sweet to heated and powerful.  She relaxes into him and a quiet moan sounds in the back of her throat.

Her hand runs up his chest, reaching slowly over every muscular ridge.  She pats his chest and Chris pulls back with a little pop.  “Don’t make me breathe so hard,” she admonishes him, her eyes brimming with tears.  “My lungs won’t expand that much,” she jokes.

“Ah, honey, did I hurt you?”  He moves back gingerly looking over her to ensure he caused no harm.  “Why are you crying?”

She just lets the tears begin to fall.  “Please.  Please just hold me.  I’m so damn tired.  Physically and mentally, and I can’t pretend to be strong for now. I see the hurt in Dad’s eyes when he looks at me.  I hear him talking to Stacey at night and I just-”

“You just need to shut down, and let someone else carry the load…  I totally understand.  What do you want me to do, baby?”  Chris bites back his own tears, taking the lead over her.  Fuck.  The skinny British ass was right…

She leans forward and points to the recliner next to the bed.  “I can’t sleep flat; I instinctively try to roll to my belly and that doesn’t work with a broken arm.  I’ve be sleeping in that.  Can we sit in it together, and you rock me to sleep?”

“Anything for you, Niña, as long as you’ll take me,” he says.

“You were an ass, but I deserved it.  I should have been more honest.  With both of you.  I’m sorry.”  Her sobs grow louder as he gently lifts her in a basket carry and pivots to sit down in the chair.  “I was selfish and frivolous with our emotions and-”

“There, there.  None of that now,” he whispers, brushing his lips over her forehead.  “You settle yourself.  Move around till you’re comfortable and then I’ll wrap my arms around you and hold you till you sleep and all your cries are out, babe.”

After she squirms around a few minutes, he can’t take anymore of it and gently taps her hip.  “You little minx!  You did that on purpose, rubbing your peachy ass all over my lap…”

Nestled into his neck, she pulls out the chain to his Saint Christopher’s medal and whispers in Spanish.  Her breath is heated and moist against his skin and he longs for more contact with her.  She’s just too fragile, in body and spirit to even think of more.  Logically he knows that.  Try telling that to his dick rested against her hot little pussy.  He groans and bites the tip of her nose, another non-bruised spot.

“You’re evil.”

“You love it.”  She sniffles, her tears beginning anew.

“Aren’t we a twisted pair?”

Resting his arms around her gently, he can feel the bandages and wrappings around her chest through her ratty old high school t-shirt for the quiz bowl team.  Her cries increase but her battered form melts into his arms.  “No.  Tighter.  Hold me tighter,” she breathes out through sobs.  “Pair?  It’s a fuckin’ triangle and I didn’t even see the mess I was making.”

Leaning back on the chair, the recliner foot rest kicks up and Chris pulls her back against his chest.  “Thalia, shhh.  Not now.  You need to sleep.”  His fingertips tease and tug at her wild hair.  “Cry all you want, but no, no more talking.  How can I be mad at you?  I’m crazy about you.  I still know what I know- I’m not your only man.  It just made me angry finding out who it was…  I think… I,” he sighs.  “I think I liked it better when I thought you were seeing a married man.”

Sleepily, she gasps.  “Fuck, Chris!  How could you think that of me?  That’s awful.”

Looking down into her eyes, he raises one hand and swipes his palm over her face, forcing her to close her eyes.  “Shh…  What else was I supposed to think?  There were no signs of anyone else in your house, you were always free in the evenings, we spent Sundays together all the time.  I never imagined in a million years you were fu-…”  Sighing bitterly he stops himself.  “Get some sleep,” he says somewhat forcibly.

She trembles in his arms, and he senses the change in her.  She responds to the verbal force.  Damn.  Fucker was right again…  

“Sleep,” he says again, caressing her back until she falls limp in his arms and her breathing rate changes, turning to quiet little snores and puffs of air against his neck.

Chris watches her for a few minutes, his heart lurching again at the bruises that have changed color and still make his gut burn with anger. If that bastard hadn’t be arrested, he’d would have hunted him down and beaten the shit out of him.

His body tenses in anger, and Thalia shifts ever so slightly, making a soft protesting sound without waking up. Willing himself to calm down again, Chris scans the room instead. His gaze falls on the coffee table next to the recliner, where a glass vase is overflowing with unfamiliar yet beautiful flowers in various shades of pink and white. A letter lies next to it, unlined white pages with messy yet straight handwriting.

It begins with “My dearest Warrior Princess”, and he knows who’s written to her even before his eyes skip to the bottom with the words “Yours forever, Tom”.

Shit, this is none of his business. He shouldn’t snoop around.. But he can’t help himself, his curiosity wins out over all the other feelings.

“Only a couple of sentences,” he silently promises himself and squints at the lines, wishing he was wearing his glasses.

I sincerely hope you’re feeling better now, darling. You’ve been gone only for a few days, but it’s like you took all the colours away with you. I go about my daily routine, and everything reminds me of you. I can’t even sit at my desk without thinking of all the good – and bad – things that happened in my office. Foolish, I know…but doesn’t love make fools out of all of us?

To paraphrase – and hopefully not mangle – a quote from ‘Jane Eyre’: “I feel as if a link, a thread, exists between your heart and mine. And should that link be broken by distance or by time, my heart would cease to beat and I would die, and you would soon forget me.”

Scoffing, Chris snaps his eyes away from the letter.

Sappy British idiot. Then again, Thalia probably loved this with the same intensity with which she’d love a totally different message he might’ve sent her.

He wiggles a little, cradling his girl closer while trying not to jostle her. Closing his eyes, he listens to her soft snores. And deep down inside him, a voice wonders whether Thalia will indeed move on and forget about them both…and whether it will feel like a form of dying to him too.

Shutting himself off to all of those unwelcome thoughts and emotions, Chris matches his breathing to the soothing rhythm of hers, lulling him to sleep as well.

#

What seems like just minutes later is actually hours, but his eyes slowly open when he feels another presence in the room.  Rolling his neck side to side, doing his best not to disturb his sleeping angel he focuses on Stacey standing near the desk.  Her smile is wide and her eyes are soft.

“You two are fuckin’ adorable,” she whispers.  “She’s peaceful, I can see it in her face.”  She moves to sit on the bed near the chair and confides in Chris.  “Her father is so worried; we all are.  But I can see it now.  She didn’t need to come home to heal.  I knew something was up when I was there last month… whether you like it or not, both of you changed her.  She needed you… She needs him.”

She scrunches up her face in thought, and Chris recognizes it as the same expression Thalia has when she’s lost in the depths of her mind while studying.  Fleetingly the academic thought of heredity versus familiarity floats through his mind.  Her weight shifts on the bed and it squeaks, pulling his thoughts back to the stepmother.

“Thalia’s tough as nails.  Always has been, but,” she shakes her head, “I can see that love has changed her.  As mad as you are, she’s still in some ways just a child.  You can’t blame her for wanting all the toys, collecting the good looking boys on campus.”  Her laughter is light and airy.  She gazes affectionately at the snoozing woman in his arms and he knows the love she has for her stepdaughter; he feels it as strongly as anyone would recognize the love of a daughter.

Chris nods and sighs.  “We’re men.  And you have to know, at least for me anyway, it had nothing to do with being older or a professor.  She’s not even in any of my courses.  She was just an amazing woman I met at a bar one night, and I was the lucky one.  She picked me.  She’s beautiful and charming and so damn smart; so smart it’s scary.  I’m just lucky she let me in her life when I needed someone, and I guess she needed something too.”

Stacey pats his arm, “You understand that’s how we can love two things at one time?  Because they’re different from the other… I don’t think she ever meant to hurt either of you… But I hear her cry at night; and mumble your names.  Hurting either of you damaged her more than whatever that asshole did to her.  That’s physical; she can heal from that…  But her heart, her mind and how she feels about you both?”  She shrugs her shoulders.  “You love what you love, and sometimes it sucks.  But I think if you leave her now, that will be a different pain and will last you both much longer.”

Chris can feel Thalia change  in his arms, rising from a deeper sleep.  Her breathing moderates and he’s aware she can most likely sense their communication, even if she’s not aware of their words just yet.  His hands circle over her back to pull her from sleep as he simply tells Stacey, “I’m not leaving.”

Stacey rises from the bed, gently tucking back one of Thalia’s wayward curls.  “Good, because her father will be home from work in about an hour, and Jim and his wife are coming over from their hotel for dinner.  She hasn’t had a real bath in days.  I’ll get everyone to go out for ice cream and you can take care of my girl.  I can’t imagine she will want you to go back to your hotel tonight?  That’s the best she’s rested since she got home.” She nods to Thalia in his strong, muscular arms.  “Don’t worry about her dad, either.  I’ll take care of that with my husband.”

Click here for Chapter 43 Homecoming

 Copyright © 2017  avenger-nerd-mom and devikafernando.  All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom

Acceptance

ch 41 Acceptance July 23 2017.jpg

Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom & @devikafernando

AU FICTION

Chapter 41

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: 963

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, hospital, acceptance, jealousy, concern, anguish

Summary:  There’s at least one decision Thalia can make…

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

Pale and withdrawn, Thalia pulls on the nasal cannula and adjusts it.  Chris notices her skin looks red and raw where the tubing lays against her lovely but bruised face.  He hides his wince and stares back down at his boots.  The room is a tense silence; Tom pacing at the window.  The constant movement grates on his nerves but he understands the man’s frustration.

Both men look up when the door opens and Big Jim returns to the room, a tray of coffees in his hands and a box of donuts under his arm.  He sets them on the table and hands a steaming cup to each of them.  “Jim,” Chris nods nearly bowing under pressure as the larger man pats him on the back.

“Did she tell you yet?”  Jim asks, a little too happily. Two faces – so different but both haggard with exhaustion and worry for the same woman – turn his way in curiosity, and he ignores them for a moment.  He tears open three packets of sugar and pours them into his cup.  With the little red straw he stirs the beverage before licking it and throwing it on the food tray.  Turning to his ‘adopted’ daughter, he fusses, “You didn’t eat enough.”

Thalia rolls her eyes.  “I’m a big girl, I won’t waste away.”  Her breathing is restricted when she speaks, barely above a whisper.  “I can’t; my ribs… it hurts.”

Patting her hand in a fatherly fashion, Jim finally turns to the men in the room who are still waiting for an explanation.  “My wife, Sarah, and I are taking Thalia to Chicago when she’s released from the hospital.  She needs to go home and get well.  Spring Break is next week so she won’t miss that much school, but she’s been approved three weeks of medical leave from classes.  We feel she needs to be with family to care for-”

Tom interrupts the bartender.  His active hands show a man who is at a loss, grasping at anything. “My home is large enough, she can stay with me, we can hire a nurse and-”

“Tom?  Tom, it’s okay.  I won’t be gone long.” She whispers, sucking in a deep breath.  “Chris?  I need family.  I need time to be alone.”

His heart stops but he understands.  Chris also hears what she doesn’t say, recognizing she’s talking to him and not Tom.  Even in her brief moments of clarity with all the pain killers coursing through her system she’s realized Tom’s thoughts and emotions aren’t stable.

“Tom, we need to let her do this.”  Chris’s voice is calm and even, a grounding force in the room.  “Her family can give her a safe haven.  We’ll be here for her when she gets back-”

Tom turns wildly.  “How can you be so calm?  This is madness!”

Standing up, Chris walks to the foot of the hospital bed and rests his hand on her leg.  “Ranting and raving here isn’t going to do any good.  She’s obviously had a lot on her mind, but she can make one decision.  That’s to go home.  Alone.  We need to respect that.”

“Thalia, but,” Tom starts, moving to her and placing his hand gently on her forearm above the cast.

Taking another painful breath, Thalia stops him. “I can’t.  I can’t handle you both in the room at the same time…” Her voice drifts away as she takes another breath, clutching the tubing to her nose.  A small smile graces her chapped lips.  “You both and your damn sweaters.”

Chris chuckles and Tom rolls his eyes, shaking his head.

Jim ignores that comment and looks to the monitors attached to her, identifying the increased beeping.  “Is that why your heart rate is up?  Which one do you want me to kick out?”

Closing her eyes, Thalia is non-responsive to the question.  Chris can see the avoidance and is relieved when a nurse enters the room.

“Well, what a handsome collection of visitors you have, my dear!  But gentlemen, I’m going to have to ask you all to leave for awhile.  She needs her rest, and she obviously isn’t getting it.  Too good looking.  Y’all have her heart racing!”

The little woman playfully pushes them out the door and Chris watches through the window as she checks over her vitals.  He sees Thalia speaking to the nurse and gesturing to them, being shut out when the nurse walks over to close the blinds.

Fuck.  He slowly walks to the row of seats down the hall from her room.  As he sinks into another uncomfortable hospital chair, he watches Hiddleston punch the door open at the end of the hall.  Chris rests his head back against the wall, wondering when he’ll have to say goodbye; when will they release her from the hospital…

It hurts too much to see Thalia suffering and yet doing her best to show a brave front. He’s never felt so damn helpless in his life – apart from when his marriage fell apart. And in a way, it’s the same situation, though it’s also completely different. Because this time he isn’t afraid of losing his daughter but the woman he loves.

Kicking his boot against the ground, he admits it hurts so fucking much. He doesn’t want to be the calming force in the room. He wants to lose his shit too. He almost envies the tall Brit for his emotional outbursts.  Sighing, he watches the nurses go about their rounds, starting to clean up lunches from the rooms.  But clearly, an outburst and stress isn’t what Thalia needs right now, and if he can do even the smallest thing to make this ordeal easier for her, then he’ll damn well do it even if it kills him.

He can still be the better man.

Click here to read Chapter 42 Apologies

Copyright © 2017  avenger-nerd-mom and devikafernando.  All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom

Crashing Down

ch 40 crashing down july 19 2017

Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom & @devikafernando

AU FICTION

Chapter 40

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.

edit Jenn phoenix TH.jpg

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

 Copyright © 2017  avenger-nerd-mom and devikafernando.  All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom