Served Hot

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Served Hot

Being Thalia

Chapter 31

By devikafernando and avenger-nerd-mom

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

WARNING: HEAT ALERT!! HOT HOT HOT

Word Count: 2117

Summary: Thalia and Tom enjoy early morning treats.

Previous Chapter, All Tied Up

November 2021

Thalia wakes up to warmth and instinctively snuggles close before opening her eyes. But wait, there’s nobody to cuddle with–the warmth comes from sunshine streaming through a window. She blinks to clear her sight and looks around, momentarily disoriented. Then it all comes back: she’s in Tom’s apartment. Back in England after years, and so much has changed.

Thalia sits up, tugging the sheet around her as she’s slept naked in Tom’s strong arms. He brought her here yesterday because today they’ll take another major step forward. It’s time to meet his parents.

Her hands grip the sheet tighter, twisting it in a bout of anxiety. She spoke to his mother, Diana, several days ago because Tom wanted her properly introduced. That resulted in an invitation by the well-spoken, surprisingly kind woman on the phone. So here they are, ready to face the family. She shouldn’t be so nervous. If this woman raised a person as amazing as Tom, and if his stories about Diana Hiddleston are anything to go by, she must be lovely to meet. Patting her plump thigh, Thalia certainly isn’t ashamed about herself or about their relationship…but it’s bound to be weird at first. How much does his mom know, and how happy is she about it?

Deciding that worrying won’t get her anywhere, Thalia gets out of bed. She needs coffee, pronto. A side of Tom wouldn’t hurt either, if he’s back from his diabolical early-morning run. She shrugs into the oversized T-shirt and panties that should have been–and were, for a few minutes before Tom practically devoured her–her sleeping clothes. Her cheeks heat at the memory of how he claimed he wanted to christen every room and every surface of the apartment with her, starting in the bathroom and the bedroom.

Trying hopelessly to untangle her curls with her fingers, she decides that looking presentable will just have to wait until after the coffee. Tugging the hem of the t-shirt down, Thalia walks down the stairs, following her nose. God, that smell is heavenly, a mix of eggs and bacon and coffee. Her stomach gives an audible rumble–but it isn’t the scent of breakfast food that has her mouth watering a moment later when she steps into the kitchen. It’s the sight of the man doing the cooking.

Hot damn, it should be illegal to look so sexy at this time of the day, doing something so mundane. Hoping she isn’t actually drooling, Thalia feasts her eyes on Tom standing at the counter, tapping his foot while he chops some fruit. He’s dressed in black jeans and a white button-down shirt with its sleeves rolled up. A black apron tied at the back makes the outfit complete and gives her all sorts of dirty ravish-the-cook fantasies she didn’t even know she harbored. The jeans are pulled tight around his delectable ass and she battles the urge to just walk over, sink to her knees and bite one of those perfect butt cheeks.

Her blush intensifies, and Tom notices her presence right at that instant.

“Hey.” His whole face lights up, at least as brightly as the sunlight through the kitchen window that gives his hair a ginger tinge. He quirks his left eyebrow, pausing to read her shirt. Wiping his hands on the apron, he grins. “Good morning, beautiful. Did the smells lure you down at last?”

With a nod and a muttered ‘good morning,’ she tries to slink past him towards the coffee machine. She should’ve remembered the goddamn wingspan on this man. With one long arm darting out, he intercepts her path and hauls her close so he can press a quick but possessive kiss to her pouting mouth. Then he nuzzles her hair and inhales before giving her a playful shove.

“You get your caffeine fix, then sit down and wait.” Tom wags an admonishing finger when she frowns, ready to protest. “Nuh-uh. You don’t get to lift a finger because I’ve decided your first morning in my apartment warrants something special. So let me pamper you and treat you to the magic of a full English breakfast, served hot.”

Definitely ‘served hot,’ Thalia thinks to herself as she grabs a mug. Looking over her shoulder at him, her insides warm before even having the heated beverage. Damn, he’s so hot. She turns to the coffee pot and fills it with the scalding brown, aromatic liquid. All too happy to watch Tom putter about, looking so at home in the kitchen and somehow moving with graceful purpose despite those long limbs, she plunks herself down on one of the bar stools. “Do you always fix coffee, or is this just for me?” she asks before blowing her lips over the top of the steaming cup.

Tom momentarily loses his focus when the T-shirt rides up to reveal most of her thighs alongside a peek of panties. His tongue flicks out to lick his lips but then he gives himself a shake and averts his eyes. “For you, darling. Everything is for you. Always.”

Grinning, Thalia sips her coffee and watches on as her personal chef for the day puts his finishing touches to the meal. She can see fried eggs- sunny side up-, crisp bacon dripping with fat, sausages, something that looks suspiciously like baked beans and grilled tomatoes. And are those pancakes? Tom darts around to get the toast on plates, then arranges the just-cut fruits–strawberries and green apple and banana–artfully on a separate plate. It’s colorful and fragrant and she wants to bask in it all, in this sense of domestic bliss she could really get used to.

Feeling herself get wet at the surprising eroticism of Tom as a too-sexy-to-be-real houseman, Thalia presses her thighs together, wiggling precariously on the barstool. She watches his peachy bum as he bends to retrieve a bottle of orange juice from the fridge, then has to stifle a moan at the way his back muscles entice her when he stretches a bit to get glasses out of the top pantry cupboard. Suddenly, she’s ravenous–but not for food. Tom has barely set the glasses down on the counter to pour them some cold juice before she’s up from the stool. Crossing over to him, Thalia makes up her mind.

“Tom?”

“Hm, love?” He half-turns–and freezes when she pulls her T-shirt off without further ado, leaving her only in her panties. She sees his hand shake as he sets the bottle down with a clink and turns fully.

“What are you doing?”

“Showing my gratitude for breakfast,” she says with a saucy smile, tossing her hair and making Tom blink.

“B-but we haven’t even eaten it yet.” Thalia can see how much effort it takes him to maintain eye contact, his gaze slipping lower to her naked breasts for a fraction of a second.

“Doesn’t matter. I’ve decided I don’t want breakfast now,” she waves his protest aside and steps close enough to fumble with the apron’s tie at the back, making sure her boobs brush all over his torso as she slides her arms around him.

“You don’t?” He sounds so confused, like a flummoxed school boy totally out of his depth, and she wants to laugh, but she’s too turned on to appreciate the humor of the situation.

“I don’t,” she affirms. “I want you instead.”

When she lets her hand wander down to squeeze an ass cheek, Tom groans. And he doesn’t stop her when she finally unties the apron and tosses it on the counter. She slides her hands around his slim hips to the front and makes him hiss when she drags her blunt nails down his crotch. Something twitches with interest beneath her touch, hardening. Thalia glances up at him and makes a show of licking her lips.

“So hungry,” she whispers seductively, which only makes him groan even louder. Staring down at her, his mouth parted, Tom watches as she runs her palm up and down, applying more and more pressure and friction. At a particularly firm squeeze, he hisses and closes his eyes for a moment. A ‘please’ slips from him.

“Please stop or please go on?” she asks, fluttering her lashes at him when he seeks her gaze. His pupils are blown and his breath is coming faster, and seeing him so at her mercy makes her slicker between her legs.

“Please, Thalia, go on.” It’s a husky plea that does things to her.

In the power of the moment, she doesn’t miss his address of her given name, rather than one of his titles, nicknames, for her. Gathering a heady sense of authority from Tom’s willingness to bend to her needs, Thalia leans up to peck him on the lips, denying him a real kiss. Determined, she slides lower until she’s kneeling on the tiles, their coolness such a contrast to how hot she feels. Deftly, she unhooks Tom’s black belt and then unzips him, careful of his erection. Hooking her fingers into the waistband, she pulls both the jeans and the boxers–which he’s probably only wearing because he’s planning a family visit–down his thighs, trapping them around his knees. Tom automatically tries to widen his stance, licking his lips again at the sight of her kneeling.

Thalia runs the tip of her nose over the hardening length, inhales the scent of clean male musk and Tom’s soap. She nuzzles, runs gentle lips over him as his foreskin slowly pulls back to reveal more. When she laps at the first bead of precum offered to her, Tom’s groan is even more heartfelt and rough. She glimpses him bracing himself on the counter behind him, knuckles white as he grips the edge. This new sign of him surrendering to the moment, to the pleasure she can bring him, spurs her on and also makes her wetter.

Emboldened, Thalia gives him one firm stroke, then anchors her hands on his thighs, thrilled at the quivering, tensed muscles beneath her fingers. They’ve done quite some catching up in the past few weeks but it’s been a long time since she’s done this. She’s almost forgotten what a heady sense of power it gives her, and how beautiful Tom’s cock is up close. Taking her time, she licks and caresses him with her lips, gives him a suckle or a fimer suck off and on. The intention is to please him, but it gives her pleasure in return as she rediscovers this treat. Every so often, she’ll scrape her teeth gently along his length, dip her tongue into the slit or glide her mouth lower to his balls. But she takes her time, drinking in his hisses and gasps, the occasional growly moan, bitten-off curse, pleading use of her name. And he doesn’t remove his hands from the counter to steer her or direct the pace, just holds on and attempts to keep his eyes open so he can watch her kneel for him.

At last, when she’s so aroused she has an idea how on edge Tom must be, Thalia sucks him off in earnest. She lowers her mouth to take as much of him inside as she can, hollows her cheeks and sets a rhythm that has Tom whimpering. God, how she wants to move one hand between her thighs and rub herself to completion while she makes him come. But this is for him, a thank you in many ways. And so Thalia flattens her tongue against the vein running along the underside of Tom’s cock and dips her head that tiny bit further until her gag reflex kicks in. And then she moans around Tom’s rigid length, and the vibrations set him off.

Thalia feels his release hit the back of her throat, and she swallows and swallows as Tom’s body jerks, half-twists to the side while his hands fist in her hair at the last moment. She holds still until he’s finished, gives him some tender, cleaning kitten licks before shuffling back a bit. There’s barely time to take a breath before Tom has hauled her to her feet and crushed her to him, panting into her hair and swaying side to side with her a bit. He loosens his hold to peer at her, brow raised as if to silently ask what’s gotten into her.

With a naughty grin, she gives him a wink. “Well, you said you wanna christen every room in the apartment. Looks like you can put a check mark behind the kitchen.”

After a peck on his cheek, she wriggles out of his embrace, puts her T-shirt back on and saunters to the dining table.

“Now, weren’t you about to serve me breakfast?”

Click here to Chapter 32, Ready?

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

Facing Demons

ch 16 Facing Demons Feb 24 2019

Being Thalia

Chapter 16

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 2496

Summary: An old friend appears on Thalia’s doorstep bearing news.

Previous Chapter, Reaching Out

September 2021

The afternoon sun feels like summer. The museum will be closing soon, but Thalia’s shift actually ended hours ago. She rests on the marbled steps at the main entrance, reading the book her therapist suggested shortly after her sessions started over a month ago. She looks up when Antonio sits down beside her. “¿Qué estás leyendo?” He asks.

She shows him the cover of the book, knowing his reading of the English language isn’t that great. He simply nods like he understands. “Looks interesting.” He rests his elbows back on the stair behind him and stretches out his long legs. He doesn’t say anything else, so she goes back to her reading, making notes in the margins. She’d almost forgotten he was there when he asks again a few minutes later, “Thalia? Can we go out again? I feel like I didn’t make a very good impression… I mean,” his foot wiggles nervously as he talks, belying his confidence. “It’s not like it’s affected our working together, but really, I’d just like to know you better.”

Thalia closes her book, resting it on her lap and leaning forward on her elbows. She rests her chin in her hands and turns her face to look at him. “Antonio, honestly, it was nothing you did.” She releases one of her hands and runs it over her eyebrow. “It’s so cliche, but it’s me. I woke up in a man’s place, with his dog, surrounded by domestic things, and I just… I can’t. No puedo… I can’t go down that path again.”

He reaches over and runs his hand over her thigh and she pulls away. “Don’t. Please don’t touch me like that. Don’t touch me without my… my consent.” She sucks in her breath and tries to soften her voice. “I had a… thing happen years ago, and I don’t like to be touched.”

Mi dama, I had no idea, I meant nothing by it,” he begins.

“I know, I know you didn’t, but I don’t respond well to touches. Unless you want your glasses broken,” she scrunches up her nose, “I suggest you don’t do that unless I say it’s okay.”

He nods. “I understand, Thalia.” His English is broken and his accent truly is foreign to her. The language of Spain sounds different than the lilt of Puerto Rican Spanish. Most of their conversations are in their native language for work, but speaking in English allows her the upper hand now. “I was just suggesting… Well, what I’m trying to say is, I’m not looking for a relationship… But you were fun. I liked having you in my bed, under me, riding me, and I’d like that again.”

She slowly breathes out. “No Antonio. I don’t think I’m your dama. That’s not for me.” She stands up, smoothing out her skirt. Bending to reach her bag, she can feel his eyes peeping down her top, and a chill washes over her.

“I won’t force myself on you, Thalia, but I’d really like to take you to dinner, to take you home with me.”

“Listen, arsehole, I believe I already heard her say ‘no’ once. How many more times does she need to say it?”

Thalia fists her hand at her side, spinning quickly to see Tom standing a few steps away, holding a bouquet of pale pink and white flowers.

“Oleanders,” she whispers, tears springing to her eyes, clouding her vision.

Tom steps forward, ignoring the man still sitting at her feet. “You once told me it was grossly improper to not bring flowers for a date, that a proper British gentleman would know that…”

She chokes on her words, barely able to swallow. Her sound is little more than a whisper.  “And you told me oleander flowers were a symbol of seduction and attraction. And for leaving the past behind you, and enjoying what’s in front of you…”

“I’m in front of you now,” Tom says quietly. “I’m here.”

Antonio stands up and wipes his hands on his pants. He huffs, “Well, I can’t compete with that level of courtship, so I’m just gonna leave.”

“Good idea,” Tom curtly replies as the other man walks away.

Thalia is frozen on the spot. She can’t breathe, can’t think. She feels like she’s going to pass out.

“Thalia?”

“Tom, what are you doing here?” She whispers. “You’re getting married in two weeks.”

Tom’s face pales and he nervously sticks his tongue out, licking his lip. “No. No, I’m not. I don’t know if I’m a coward, or the bravest man in the world. But I broke it off. I could never marry anyone else, never truly love anyone else. Thalia. It’s always been you; you have always been mine. My Warrior Princess…”

“Fuck you,” she chuckles as tears fall from her eyes. She pushes past him, moving down the steps.  She hears him call her name, but she doesn’t even look back as she dashes around the corner.

***

Hours later, when there’s a knock on her door, she’s ready. Any space that can be seen from the front door is tidy, and the dishes have been washed, dried and put away. Facing demons can be a great motivator for housework. Changed from her work clothes, she feels more comfortable in an old blouse and jeans. Walking to the door, she nervously fluffs her hair, arranging it over her shoulder. She slides the chain across and opens the door.

“Not even going to ask who it was first?” He smiles.

Tom, of course.

“I knew you’d already tracked me down. Finding me at work was just a formality, so you could sweep in with a grand gesture.” Her voice is hard and cold, desperately trying to cover her nerves.
Forlornly, he looks down to the wilted flowers in his hands. “Grand gesture, eh?”

“You were always good at those, and bold announcements. Still are, I see,” she mocks, referring to the news of his broken engagement. She holds out her hand for the withered bouquet. “You plan to hold those all night?”

He bows his head sheepishly and hands them to her. She drops them carelessly onto a side table by the door. Reaching for her wallet, she steps forward and he steps back, confused. “What are you doing?” he asks.

“You can’t come in here. It’s my safe haven.” She sighs. “I battle enough memories in there. I don’t need to actually have you in the flesh, in my apartment.”

At the word ‘flesh,’ his eyes darken, and he struggles to hold back a smile. She bites her tongue, not willing to give in, to acknowledge she saw it. “I haven’t eaten. You can take me for tapas.”

Her heels click across the pavement stones as he follows her down the covered walkway, back onto the busy sidewalk. The city is alive at night, people everywhere, rushing for nightly errands, meeting with friends, and vying for tables at crowded restaurants. She’s aware he keeps a few steps behind her. She tamps down the desire to add a little extra wiggle to her hips as she walks, not wanting to encourage him in any way. Reaching her destination, she pulls the door open and is met with a cool rush of air. The shop clerk greets her with a kiss on the cheek. “Buenas noches, Thalia, bienvenidos.” Thalia nods and returns the kiss to the young woman’s cheek. “¿Quién es el hombre guapo y enfadado?”

Thalia rolls her eyes. “Lucía,” pronouncing her name with a muted ‘th’ sound in place of the ‘c,’ “That’s Tom, and he speaks Spanish.”

“Oh,” Lucia blushes, then stammers in broken English, “Let me find you a quiet table in the back.”

Thalia nods, ignoring the man behind her. She can feel his anger rising. “No, center of the floor, lots of noise is fine. This is not a date,” she says loudly for the benefit of the seething man.

Lucía’s blush deepens. Picking up two menus, she leads them to a small table, off to the side of the room, near a bank of windows looking out to the busy street. She whispers, “Don’t kick him out of bed before you even get him there, mujer!”

Thalia hisses, “That’s exactly where I don’t want him!” She sits down quickly, so Tom doesn’t have time to properly seat her. He scowls as he sits down. “Tell Pablo I’m ready to order as soon as-”

“Lucía,” Tom interjects, tenderly placing his hand on the woman’s arm. He repeats the proper pronunciation of the girl’s name, following Castilian Spanish, and changes the sound of the letter ‘C’ in her name. “Lo siento que mi amiga está grosera…” He glares at Thalia. “Quiero ver la carta de vinos, y traenos un plato de los aperitivos mejores que la restaurante tiene. Por favor.”

Lucía looks to Thalia, worried, but Thalia waves her away. “You can’t just come here, show up at my house, think everything will be better and then boss my friends around. It doesn’t work that way, Tom.”

“Boss her around? I was being polite. You’re the one acting like a shrew, with a chip on your shoulder. She’s a lovely girl.” Tom watches as the young girl relays his order to a server. “She’s just doing her job, and you’re acting like a spoiled child because you’re mad at me. No sense to be rude.”

Thalia narrows her eyes. “Don’t call me a ‘spoiled child.’”

“Why not? You always want your way.” She can see Tom is holding back laughter.

“Me?” Her voice raises and her cheeks glow with a fiery anger. “That’s bullshit, and you know it. You never even talked to me, gave me time to explain myself. You got pissed when I wasn’t always at your beck and call, wouldn’t play the role as your submissive servant, you son of a bitch.”

The waiter clears his throat, handing Thalia a drink. “Your usual, and for you, señor, the wine list.” He sets a loaded plate of tasty treats on the table. He nods to the item on the menu Tom points to, but looking to Thalia, he inquires, “Is everything ok? Will that be all?”

She smiles to him, wondering exactly what he overheard. “Thank you, Pablo. That should be it.”

Thalia jerks her leg out from under the table. “Keep your damn long legs to yourself. There’s enough space here so you don’t have to be touching me.”

Her nerves are alive, frazzled, messages jumping from synapse to synapse, but she’ll be damned if she’ll give him cause to make a move on her. Just because she’s dreamt about him for weeks now doesn’t mean it’s a possible reality. She tucks her feet up under her chair, keeping a safe distance.

Tom grins, popping an olive from the tray into his mouth. He licks his thumb and cocks his eyebrow. “I get under your skin… After all this time, and you still don’t know how to control it, darling, do you?” He runs his hand down his chest before reaching for the napkin on the table and lazily draping it across his lap. When she doesn’t reply to his rhetorical question, he leans forward, eyeing the plate of food. “It all looks so delicious. So mi madreleña, tell me what this is?” He points to the oddly cut potatoes on the dish.

Thalia defeatedly sighs. She’s reminded of Tom’s holiday trip to Chicago years ago when she educated him on delicacies the locals enjoyed. They always found a way to bond over food. Maybe dragging him to a restaurant wasn’t the best idea, but she’d been so hungry, she couldn’t think of a better plan. “Those are patatas bravas, they’re kind of like hash-brown potatoes, I guess? And there are two dipping sauces, this tomato-based one” she points, “and this aioli, which is mayonnaise seasoned with garlic. I’d basically equivocate aioli in Spain to the American obsession with Ranch dressing on everything.”

Tom shudders. “Dreadful. Why ruin perfectly good food with Ranch?” he reaches for a potato wedge and dips it in the sauce. He slowly chews, a smile breaking across his face. He points to her, wanting her to eat. She puts a few on her plate and spoons out some of the aioli for herself. “Wonderful! What else?”

She points to a pile of fried pillows. “These are croquetas, and have beef, fish, or fried vegetables inside. I eat here a lot, so they’re probably mostly beef if Pablo was thinking when he placed the actual order. Those are the ones I like best.”

Tom takes a bite. “Fish? Cod, maybe?” She nods. Looking around the restaurant, he watches the locals, mostly business men and women, who’ve stopped to get a bite to eat before moving on for the evening. “Nice little place, close to your home; I can see why you like it.” He smiles at Lucía as she walks by, seating a couple at a table nearby.  He notices a treat on other tables, not placed on theirs. “No gazpacho?”

Now it’s her turn to shudder. “Cold tomato soup? No thank you. That’s worse than Ranch on everything.”

Tom continues to eat heartily while Thalia nibbles at her food. “Thalia? You’re not eating? You’re not on a diet or anything, are you?”

She sets her glass on the table, fisting her hand next to the stem of the glass. “Why would you ask that? Do you think I need to diet?”

He quickly swallows the piece of potato he was chewing. “God, no.” His eyes dart up and down,taking in her voluptuous figure, turning dark again. “You still have the most amazing body, the most delicious curves…” He leans forward. “Images of your form haunt my dreams at night, in the best of ways, love.”

She flushes and her freckles show under her warm dark skin. “I’m not your ‘love,’ Tom.”

Tom takes a long sip of his wine, before placing the glass down. “You could be, dear. It’s obvious you have some animosity towards me, probably rightly so. I’ve just shown up on your doorstep, quite literally, and told you I left my fiancée. Let me make that totally clear to you. I realized after seeing you in London, I couldn’t continue without you. I could never love another the way that I love you. As obstinate as you are, and as much as we butt heads, you are the one who makes me whole, who drives me to move forward and better myself. Thalia Bareo, I’ve cleared everything in my life for you.”

“Tom,” she says, mustering as much strength as she can. She pushes back from the table, placing her napkin on her plate as she stands. “I never asked you to do that for me.”

With the strength of an army, she commands her feet to move forward, to carry her home, so she can collapse on her couch in tears.

Click here to read Chapter 17, Girls’ Night

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

 

Exposed

ch 12 exposed

Exposed

Being Thalia

Chapter 12

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count 1774

Summary: Feeling stripped down, Thalia finally reaches out for help.

Previous Chapter, Peace Offering

July 2021

“I’m pretty sure at that point, I blacked out. Seriously, I don’t even remember going back to my room.” Thalia presses her palm against the window, looking out over the city.  “The mini-bar was empty the next morning, booze and chocolate, and I didn’t attend any of the other sessions I was supposed to proctor for the museum. Thank God my flight was for Monday morning.”

“Did you see him again?” the calming voice asks.

Thalia turns on her heels. She shrugs, looking down at her boots. Her blasted boots she’s never been able to get rid of because of all the memories attached to them. She’s had them resoled twice to make them last. Declining to share that with the therapist, she says, “I was across the street at the pharmacy when I watched him pull away in an Uber. I bought another bottle of wine and a box of donuts.” She pats her thighs. “There was still some wine left the next morning… And if you ever try to turn one of these sessions around, to discuss my eating habits, I’m out the door.”

“Fair enough,” the older woman says. “You seem healthy, despite being a big girl.” She tilts her head to the side, doodling in the margins on her paper. “Do you exercise?”

Thalia walks to the bookshelves. She always believed one could tell a lot about a person by the books on their shelves. Tom’s book is rested on a side table and she runs her hand over the shiny cover. She doesn’t indicate the man in question is him.

To distract herself, she pulls an old leather bound volume from the shelf. “Lovely copy,” she states, tenderly caressing the crepey thin pages. “I try to get in about fifteen thousand steps a day. I lift weights, and eat healthy.” She slowly bounces her head up and down. “The man I was living with before I moved here to Madrid, he was a bit of a fitness buff. I may not look like it, but I take care of myself. I’m actually down in weight a bit, my clothes fit better since moving here. I can’t decide if it’s depression or just becoming a true Madrileña… Six smaller meals a day seems to work for me.” She places the book back on the shelf. “My apartment is close to the MAN and I’m able to walk most of the places I need to go.”

The therapist watches as Thalia continues to saunter around the room. “Where do you like to go? Have you made friends here?”

“All the museums of course, that’s my thing,” she laughs. “I like to walk in ‘El Retiro.’ I saw a great puppet show the other day, and I like to try to find bargains at ‘El Rastro.’ A few of the girls from work, we like to meet up on Saturday mornings and search all the vendor stalls.” She looks down and runs her hands over the chic brocade silk jacket with embroidered embellishments that hugs her curvy frame. “Found this there a few weeks ago.”

“Cute,” the woman murmurs. “Tell me about your friends.”

Thalia laughs, nervously resting on the little leather loveseat under the window. “Not much to tell, really, we’re more work friends than actual friends.” She runs her hand down her calf and evens out the bunched up denim at her ankle. “Does that make sense? I’ve never been good with other women. It’s like they think they’ll catch ‘fat’ from me, like it’s a disease or something. I keep to myself, it’s easier that way. I like the quiet.”

“What about men, Thalia? Other than this man in London who upset you, and the man you mentioned who you once lived with, do you have any men in your life?”

Thalia looks at the small clock, hidden on the therapist’s desk. She hates feeling so exposed, opening herself up to a stranger. “A one-night stand from work doesn’t count, and gee, looks like my session’s almost up, so no time to talk about that now.”

The older woman chuckles. “Fine, yes, saved by the clock, I suppose. I sense you’re aware you aren’t finished; we’ve barely scratched the surface, Thalia. When can I see you again?”

Before leaving the office, Thalia arranges another appointment for later in the week.

“Anything else I should know before you leave?” the woman asks, resting her hand on the doorknob as she shows Thalia out of the office.

Thalia shakes her head and shrugs. “I truly loved them both.” She plays with the chain holding two charms, each symbolic of the men she loved, around her neck. “And now they’re both marrying other people, and they’re gone.”

Kindly patting her arm, the woman advises Thalia to journal her thoughts.

***

A few days later, sitting at her office desk, Thalia looks up when the secretary brings in the daily mail.  She drops her pen across the empty journal page and reaches for the stack of letters, with a small padded envelope on the bottom. Her heart thumps in her chest, turning the envelope over and immediately recognizing the elegant penmanship. Her fingers tenderly slide over the script, itching to… open the package? Throw it against the wall? Idly, the dark haired beauty makes small talk with the older woman as she waters the plants in the window before leaving the room.

When the door closes, she reaches for the scissors, and slices open the top of the package. A lovely black photo frame lands in her hands with the photo she’d requested from Tom. A tiny piece of paper is stuck in the corner with the simple note, ‘I never meant to hurt you. Always my warrior princess… Tom.’

She peers in the envelope, hoping for more, another message, something. She remembers he said he had a box of items… She wonders what mementos of their affair he had kept. Reaching in her bottom desk drawer, Thalia pulls out a small fireproof lock box. Scrolling the combination lock, it pops open and a hint of orchids fills her nose. Looking back up, she realizes most of the office has gone for the afternoon siesta. Leaning back in her chair, she pulls the box into her lap and props her feet up on the desk.

She rifles through, searching under movie ticket stubs of superhero movies she and Chris would watch together, under drawings Avery made for her and silly travel photos of the three of them together. She finds a photo of her graduation day, in her cap and gown with her father by her side. Theater playbills, hotel notepads and coasters and matchboxes from swanky restaurants. There on the bottom, a post-it with the same elegant scrawl, announcing, “Congratulations, Miss Bareo! You’ve been chosen for the summer study at Stratford-Upon-Avon!”

She’d had such a crush on the devilishly handsome professor. Everyone with two good eyes did! The dark-haired beauty remembered how other girls seemed to throw themselves at him, attending his lectures and extra discussions even if they weren’t in his class. While they blathered away with Hollywood inspired theories of Shakespeare, she regularly stumped him with her questions and opinion of things. She’d often caught him watching her, straight-faced and tight-lipped, almost angry and controlled. As a student, she feared he didn’t like her, or worse, worried he was repulsed by her weight. Thalia laughed at all the late night chats she and her best friend from back home in Chicago had on the phone about him. She’d never admitted to her friend her crush was her professor, and not some random frat guy on campus. She’d never had the chance to reveal the truth to Amy before she’d passed away as a result of an accident. In her mind, she often thought about telling it all, and how Amy would have loved hearing about her summer.

That summer during her undergraduate studies had been amazing. She’d always dreamed of traveling, and it was her first taste, besides visiting family in Puerto Rico. She can still remember the excitement of getting her passport in the mail, how she’d planned to fill every page with stamps from other countries. The students on the archaeology trip were promised a fifteen day tour of Europe after their studies in England were completed, which for her had been a big draw.

Staring at the picture, she remembers now how she never made that part of the journey. Her personal findings on site garnered the attention of many in the field of history and literature, but most importantly, the attention of Professor Tom Hiddleston. She’d been too busy with other tasks to go sightseeing, and Tom had felt awful about her sacrifice and had offered to take her to dinner.

Thalia pushes back on the chair and rests her head back, thinking about that night, so long ago. She’d wore the same sundress from the photo, it being the only clothing she’d packed that was appropriate for anything besides travel and digging in dirt. She laughed out loud, remembering her idea that her boots weren’t right for a fancy dinner so she’d worn her little white canvas tennis shoes. She was so green, so naive, she’d had no idea what half the things on the menu were. Thalia had been a bundle of nerves, afraid she’d use the wrong fork or spill her drink. No, she scoffs. That had been Tom. With his enthusiasm and vigor, he’d spoken so animatedly as he told her various stories, his hands moved as fast as his mouth did, flailing out and spilling his wine all over the table.

Closing her eyes, she can still picture it now, just watching him talk. The way he would fidget with his glasses, or tug at his shirt collar. The way the muscles in his arms bunched and stretched because he’d rolled his shirtsleeves up to his elbows. She can see his lips move in her memory, and it’s almost like she can hear his distinctive voice. Thalia licks her lips, suddenly dry, and realizes her hands have grazed up her thighs, on instinct, resting between her heated center. She bolts up right in the chair, dropping her feet to the floor.

“Fuck him,” she mumbles, placing the items back in the box, including the framed photo and note he’d sent. Pushing the chair away from the desk, she rises, reaching over to turn off her computer and deciding to call it a day. Checking her watch, she realizes she has plenty of time to make it to yoga class if she hurries.

Click here for the next chapter, Forbidden Fruit

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