Déjà Vu

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Déjà Vu

Being Thalia

Chapter 29

By avenger-nerd-mom and 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: 2396

Summary: Tom and Thalia re-live a night from their past, and make it better.

Previous Chapter, Surrender

November 2021

Standing in front of the glowing dome, Tom pats down the front of his formal tux. A member of the serving staff greets him. “Señor, ¿tiene Ud. la invitación?

He smiles, thankful he’s been brushing up on his language studies. For such a multicultural city, Madrid holds strong to pride in its language. “Soy un amigo de Thalia Bareo.” He pats his pockets. “No tengo una invitación.”

¿Sr. Iddleston?” He nods, still unaccustomed to the swallowing of the H sound when his name is spoken in Spanish, and the server smiles. “Come this way,” she says, speaking in quiet, broken English. “She said to show you inside.”

Tom follows the older woman, looking up to admire the lights and floral displays. Inside the building, she reaches for the coat, draped over his arm. She points to the coat closet and leaves his side, returning to her job.

Tom watches as other couples and patrons fill in, wondering where his lovely woman could be. She’d left her flat in a rush this morning, slinging a large bag over her shoulder, a garment bag hanging from a finger she held high up over her shoulder. “There was a problem with the food order, and I’ve got to go see if I can fix it.” Her smile was wide and inviting. “I can’t serve food truck tapas to the wealthiest in town if we want the additional money for the Gaudí exhibit.”

He’d lifted from the bed, and offered to tag along. “No, you stay. You’ve got the book query to finish by next weekend. I have so many things to do, and you don’t speak enough Spanish to really help.”

“Are you saying I’d be in the way?” he asked, fluffing out his hair.

“Yes.” Thalia threw a kiss over her shoulder, smiling warmly. “I have a hair and makeup appointment this afternoon, photos for the museum, and I’ll see you at the hall a las ocho.”

She’d been out the door before he’d been able to reply. After her exit, he’d lazed in bed a bit longer, answering some emails on his phone and dashing out a few more sentences to his literary agent. His tummy rumbled and he finally dressed and ventured out onto the streets. He proudly dangled her house key from his finger, flipping it around in his hand as he walked through the neighborhood. He stopped to admire the crafts and wares of the vendors setting up for the afternoon. Purchasing a small wooden painted postcard of the park where they’d walked the night before, he happily sighed, tucking it in his back pocket. Continuing his excursion, he smiled at shopkeepers, setting out café tables for the day. But few were ready to serve breakfast, as the locals rarely eat as early he does.

Turning the corner on the next block, the smell of fresh baked bread greeted his nose. A portly man called out a greeting and beckoned for him to cross. Watching for traffic, Tom jogged across the street.

¡Bienvenido! Ven aquí, ven aquí. ¿Americano?

Tom shook his head, searching for the word he lacked. Seeing the banners across the front of the little café, he pointed to the Union Flag. The man nodded, and ushered him to a little table with a chess set. The man barked out some orders to a young woman behind the counter and sat down with Tom. He reached forward and moved one of the white pawns into play. Tom counteracted the move. The two shared a game and a traditional breakfast of toast, smeared with crushed tomatoes and olive oil. With an eye on the time, Tom finished the game, allowing the man to win, but promised to return. He left a hefty tip, and took a business card with him so he’d be able to find the place another day.

If asked, he’d hate to admit to Thalia he’d spent the remainder of his day studying chess moves on his computer and talking on the phone with his sister. She’d questioned him about his absence and he’d vaguely replied that he was researching for a new book.

“Really? The Clarke’s heard from Sabrina you might have a new woman already. Is that true, little Tommy boy?”

Tom wanted to keep his secret awhile longer, and dishing details to his sister was as good as taking out an ad in the Daily Mail. The whole county would know before the postman arrived the next day. “Believe me, sweetest Sis, when there’s news to tell, you’ll be the first to know.” He’d shaken his head vehemently, knowing that was the biggest lie he’d told in recent times.

“Tom!” His head snaps around, seeking out the lovely woman addressing him. “There you are!”

For a split second, he worries Thalia’s going to rush across the room, despite her high heels, and tackle him. She moves forward and stops, tilting her head. Even from a distance, without his glasses, he sees her mouth form the word ‘fuck’ as she mentally undresses him from his fitted designer tux.

He blushes, bowing his head. He allows her eyes their fill, before rising tall to gaze upon her again. The plunging neckline and revealing slit up the thigh of her tight black dress leaves little to the imagination. Before the night is over, he fears he’ll be fighting off competitors, other men, vying for her attentions.

Crossing the room to join him, two staffers stop her with questions and she waves them away. A third person detains her and she listens intently to the inquiry as she continues moving towards Tom. The intruder sees where Thalia’s true attention lies and slowly steps away.

“Hey, handsome. You clean up nice, despite the shaggy hair.” She steps closer and smooths out an unseen wrinkle on the satiny lapel. “You know if you ever pull that mess into a man bun, I’m chopping it off?”

“So you’ve said,” he chuckles. His eyes dart to the side. “You’re working. Am I allowed to touch you?”

She grabs his hands, placing them on her rounded hips. “I’m officially off the clock. Well, except for my speech.” She lists her head to the right in thought. “And when I have to get up and introduce the director of the board.”

“You look stunning. So much more confident than the last time we attended a ball together. You already were a gorgeous girl. Now you’ve become a beautiful woman, Thalia. On the inside and out.” Tom gazes into her eyes, wanting to remember every detail of the moment. He can feel his thoughts written on his face, his eyebrows lifting of their own accord, expressing unspoken love and adoration for this amazing creature. He takes in her freckles and the little scar on her lip from coaching Little League, and the faint scar across her left cheek. The last one still sends an ice-cold shiver down his spine because it reminds him how she was attacked years ago. He wants to kiss her full, pouty lips but doesn’t want to smudge her makeup before the event begins. Her eyes watch his, the corner of her mouth twitching into a small smile. His gaze drops lower, her pulse fluttering at her pulse point, just below her ear where he loves so much to nibble and bite.

Her dress reveals her alluring cleavage, the start of her flowered tat peaking above the cut of the expensive fabric. He wants to get lost there for days, to bury himself between her ample bosom and suffocate, dying a happy man-

“Did I ever tell you I can read your thoughts, Thomas?”

He licks his lip, looking up at the dancing whimsy in her eyes. “Do tell, Mistress, what do they say?”

“You’re thinking, ‘How long do I have to look at her face before I look at her boobs? Was that it, was that long enough? Shit, I have a little smirk cuz I wanna look at boobs. Ok. There. I looked at her face long enough, now my eyes can slowly look down… BOOBS. Dammit. I’m not smirking now. Lust is written all over my face. I can’t help it. I should look back up, but no. Boobs!’”

Tom throws his head back, releasing his robust, gut busting laughter. To hold it in would cause him pain. “Oh, sweet Thalia, you are a treat. A devil in a party dress, that’s what you are! How did I ever let you slip from my grasp?”

“You were young and foolish. I’d like to think you’ve grown wiser-”

“You are a saucy little thing tonight! How about a swing around the dance floor as punishment?”

She lifts her eyebrows and signals a staff member nearby. As Tom leads her to the dance floor, one hand rests possessively on her lower back, the other still holding hers tightly.  He chuckles ‘eheheh’ when the band changes their tune, seamlessly switching over to the song he and Thalia had danced to at the Alumni Gala over six years before. “You are a delight, darling! You never forget anything, do you?”

She smiles, twirling in his grasp to face him. “There are things about that night I wish I could forget. I was horrible, wretched, Tom.” She places her hand in his raised one as he gracefully wraps the other around her waist, holding her close. “To more than one person, including myself-”

“-Thalia,” he interrupts another stream of her self-flagellation for her wanton youth. “Have you forgiven me for being cold and aloof?” She raises her sculpted eyebrow in a silent question. “I’ve forgiven you, long ago for anything I unknowingly pushed you to do.” He inhales deeply. “And if you aimed that winning smile of yours at… at Evans,” he pushes on, swallowing hard, “He’d have been a fool and blind not to have fallen in love with you as well. I’ve made peace with it all, love. As I’ve said, it all brought me back to you. I think we’re meant to be exactly where we are now. ‘The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.’ And I believe-”

“-Tom, do you have a Shakespeare quote for every occasion? Do you have like a dusty old file cabinet up in your brain, each drawer and file labeled? Do you just think, ‘I need a quote about love and life and the passage of time!’ And it just pops in your head?’” she asks, incredulously.

He shakes his head in laughter, a loose curl falling across his forehead. “Well, darling, you know them too, it would seem.”

She blushes at his compliment to her intellect. “I recognize them, but I don’t know that I could randomly quote them.” She squints, her eyes flashing and filling his heart with a longed for warmth. “We need to get you on a trivia show, you could win us millions.”

“No, love, then we’d be famous, and people would stop us on the street, asking about our dog and wanting autographs-”

“What dog?”

He spins her gracefully, light as a feather. “I think we need a dog, someone to snuggle at our feet at night.”

“We?”

He pulls her closer. “Yes, we. We are a we now.”

She squeezes his hand. “What if I want a cat?”

He whispers in her ear, “I already have all the pussy I need.”

He can feel the heat rise off her, not needing to lean back to see that she’s blushing.

“What if I only want to share my bed with one animal? I don’t need a dog at my feet to keep me warm. I have you.”

She pushes closer, her voice like velvet to his ears. His heart wells with pride, heated by her spirit. One song blends with the next, and the next. He keeps her in his arms most of the night, until the dinner is served. Tom enjoys the conversation of the guests they’re seated with, discussing local politics and theatre. His eyes stay locked on her as she moves about the room, speaking in Spanish and French with the patrons, sharing knowledge of artifacts on display, depositing their personal donations into a leather pouch she carries under her arm.

Seated in the corner, tired of the fanfare, and frankly, his mind worn out from keeping track of the Spanish conversations, Tom sits alone, his fingers tracing the rim of his glass. A model-looking waif sits down next to him, trying to stir him, and he simply shakes his head. The woman takes the hint, scattering away quickly when Thalia, with her steely, dark eyes focused on her, moves towards the table.

Gripping the back of the chair across from him, she leans forward. “Wanna get outta here? I pawned the intro of the director off onto another colleague. I’m officially done for the night.”

“Stay just like that, darling. Don’t move.” Thalia tilts her head, keeping her stance, smirking when he lifts his phone to take her photo, her cleavage nearly falling out of her dress. “That’s the reason,” he points, “you’ve collected so many thousands in euros tonight. That one man, the German one, he nearly propped up his wallet on your breasts to write his check.”

“It’s just like when I was bartending. They can look. That doesn’t mean they can touch. Although it was the asshole from Poland who got his hand slapped,” Thalia says, reaching for his arm when he stands and offers it to her.

“Was that the scuffle with the guards earlier?” He takes her lace shawl from the back of the chair, wrapping it around her shoulders.

She nods, bending to kick off her heels, instantly 2 inches shorter. Tom swoops down to pick them up in his large hand, brushing against her exposed calf. Before reaching full height, he can hear her sudden intake of breath, and he instantly hardens, having been on his best behavior all night.

“Thalia, what’s the fastest way home from here?”

Her laughter rings around the room, drawing attention to them and their escape. The dark haired goddess waves goodbye to her secretary.

Cheeks flushing, with a devilish gleam dancing in her eyes, Thalia quietly informs him, “My office is up the stairs?”

He stops mid-stride, frozen, then throws his head back with laughter as well.

Click here for Chapter 30, All Tied Up

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

Forbidden Fruit

ch 13 forbidden fruit

Forbidden Fruit

Being Thalia

Chapter 12

By devikafernando & 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 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 3174

Summary: Thinking he has it all together, Tom realizes seeing Thalia again was against his better judgement.

Previous Chapter, Exposed

July 2021

“Fucking hell.”

Tom slams his book shut and shoots out of his chair to pace back and forth in front of his bookshelf. He feels like a prisoner in his own flat, for crying out loud.

Reading used to be his one true salvation, from childhood all the way through adolescence and for all of his adult years. But not even focusing on the written word seems to help him these days. Maybe because SHE shares his love for the same books.

Thalia.

His hot-house orchid who turned from forbidden fruit into guilty pleasure and who deserved to be so much more.

Tom rubs the tension out of his neck, his fingers brushing against the little curls there now that he’s taken to wearing his hair longer.

He still believes he did the right thing three years ago in Paris when he let Thalia go. The look on her face will haunt him forever, just like her expression last week when he told her he’d be getting married soon.

Why does he do that? Why does he keep hurting her, keep pushing her away?

He isn’t a bloody sadomasochist, dammit. And Thalia is the last person on this planet that he wants to hurt. But he’s reached his limit, he truly has. It’s either cutting her out of his heart and his life and living with the ever-bleeding wound or keeping her and dying a slow death because she’d never truly be his.

Is that what real love feels like, such a stark black and white, yes and no, everything or nothing?

“Stupid git,” he curses himself, walking to his bookshelf and staring blindly at all the literature spanning centuries and various genres. “How can it be love? Isn’t love supposed to be about compromises and second chances and all that?”

So his feelings for Thalia are what? An obsession? Has he gone stark raving mad?

There’s a bitter twist to his mouth when he remembers that he was indeed quite mad for some time. After the breakup, he floated aimlessly, sleepwalking through life like a soulless zombie. Run, eat, sleep, repeat. For days. Prohibiting himself to think of her during daytime, only to have her invade his dreams every night.

When he hadn’t been able to take it anymore, he’d made an attempt to win her back. He’d never told anyone, who would he tell- no one knew they’d been together in the first place- but he’d traveled to her first conference panel in Toronto. He’d been so excited to see her name on the list of speakers regarding some of her historical research that he’d instantly booked a flight. Nearly a year without her, a few more weeks eased the pain of his raving madness. He’d finally admitted to himself the dark, lonely nights without her in his arms, his bed, his life, were too much to bear.

Staring blankly at the gilded spines on the leather bound novels, he remembers that day. He’d stayed in the shadows, not wanting to interfere with her moment in the spotlight. He’d met with an old friend, who sang her praise as both a history and lit professor on campus. He’d not thought of it before, but it was her earned title as well. Professor. Professor Bareo…

“She’s also a bit of hero, getting Joanna Kent suspended for using racial slurs against her,” the man shared.

Incredulously, Tom wiped his glasses on his silk pocket square. “What? Kent?” He hadn’t thought of the woman in years. “How did that happen?”

He’d hidden his personal feelings, his heart full of pride, hearing the way his girl stood up for herself, grateful their indiscretions had not come to light during the inquiry process. But Kent had her own skeletons, liaisons with male and female students, so even had she known of their affair, she wouldn’t have used it as a bargaining chip.

He’d sat, enthralled with the lecture, the grace she held herself with as others in their field asked her questions, which she quickly answered, amending her presentation on the spot.

She’d positively charmed the crowd.

Awed by her intellect, his eyes took in their fill as her rich voice washed over him. He’d missed her so much, he just wanted to soak in everything about her. Her hair was shorter and with the formality of the event, she was wearing it straightened. The plum colored dress, he could tell, had been purposefully chosen to accentuate her curves but not draw attention to her womanly shape. If that had been the plan, it hadn’t worked. The wrap around style clung to her voluptuous figure and he doubted he was the only man in the room to be aroused by her. With the lilt of her voice and subtle sway of her hips as she paced the stage, she was a walking billboard for sex. His colleague had leaned over and whispered, “She makes a man think. Did you know? There’s rumors she was fuckin’ somebody on staff when she was a student? Lucky bastard. Cushion for the pushin.’” He’d elbowed Tom in the ribs.

Tom had glared at the man over his glasses. “Remember your place, man. It’s beneath you to speak that way, to diminish the intelligence of a woman, simply for her form. You’re a better man. Get a grip.”

He’d wished someone else had advised him the same years before…

His pal had coughed, nodding with embarrassment. After the panel, the two went their separate ways as Tom ushered forward to speak with Thalia. All the time he’d thought of seeing her again, he still hadn’t known what he wanted to say.

Getting on his knees and groveling for her to take him back had been an acceptable notion…

In the end, it didn’t matter.

Words of greetings froze on his lips as he watched his nemesis, Professor Chris Evans step forward to congratulate her, openly wrapping his arm behind her back and casually resting his hand on her ample hip as they spoke to other historians in attendance.

Quietly he slipped from the room, the wound reopened as the knife twisted in his chest. Cancelling lunch plans with friends for the next day, he’d changed his flight plans and returned to London alone, with his heart bleeding out, in a pain he’d never known. Broken and utterly devastated.

It was his buddy, Luke, who finally called him out, telling him it was time to end his funk. His old school chum hauled Tom’s sorry arse to a theater play of ‘Hamlet’. And Shakespeare, his dear old friend, did the rest to restore a modicum of sanity to him.

It was at the play that Tom ran into Sabrina.

He shoves his hands into his pockets and turns away from the bookshelf, resuming the pacing, shaking away images of the past.

He tries to call up better, happier memories. Sabrina was a childhood friend he barely recognized that night at the theater. Her family had vacationed with his when they were around ten, and the children had bonded like the parents had. Tom still vaguely remembered finding her a nice companion, a girl who enjoyed hikes as much as he did and didn’t find him too nerdy when he talked about books more than soccer or cars. They’d spent a few weeks in each other’s company over four consecutive summers. And yes, he may have experienced his first kiss with her.

With a groan, Tom stalked to the window at the opposite end of his room and braced his hands on the sill, his body slumping forward with the burden of it all.

Sabrina recalled more details of their time together than he did, and she’d wanted to pick right up on the easy camaraderie they’d shared as children and early teens. Weary and depressed as he was, Tom had soaked up her kind smile, her non-judgmental attitude, her cultured voice that had the exact same lilting and crisp London accent that he spoke in. She’d been a friend when he was in dire need of one, so effortless to talk to about common interests, so…comfortable and reassuring.

When the cordial hug at the end of an outing had turned into more because Sabrina turned her face to brush his mouth instead of his cheek with her lips, he’d let her. And on the next date, he’d more than let her.

They progressed slowly. Nothing like the “let me lick you in the college library before I fuck your brains out in a hotel room” whirlwind he’d experienced with Thalia. He’d deliberately taken it in slow, logical steps. Doled out his kisses and his first tentative, then firmer affection in spoonfuls that Sabrina soaked up with a gratitude he found infuriating. Where was the spitfire spirit, the sass, the determination he had admired so in Thalia?

“There you go again, comparing them. Fucking fuck, Hiddleston, get a grip, you bleeding loser!”

Banging his fist on the wooden window sill, he winces at the pain that shot up his arm and welcomes it at the same time.

It wasn’t fair. He kept telling himself it wasn’t fair. Not to Sabrina, who was a lovely lady other men would beg on their knees for and who certainly shouldn’t be stuck with a fool like him who still pined for a woman he couldn’t have.

But he’d never led her on, had he? Sabrina knew he wasn’t exactly head over heels in love with her. She’d told him she loved him enough for two people, knew that he wasn’t a very emotional person and had a problem with attachment. She’d never pressured him, never demanded more attention, more time, more sex. If she seemed genuinely happy with their relationship, why was he feeling such debilitating guilt all the time?

Perhaps because, above all, it wasn’t fair to himself how he behaved?

This marriage wouldn’t be a catastrophe. It would be pleasant and normal and everything a man in his right mind should wish for. Only he didn’t wish for that. He wanted a fiery woman who challenged and completed him. Who knew that deep down, he WAS emotional and needed something extraordinary. Being with Thalia had, in a twisted way, made him a better man. And yet he’d stepped away.

Stepped away because it hurt like a thousand hells that she apparently didn’t feel the same about him. Just days before he’d left, when he’d followed through on their blasted bet over the World Cup, he’d practically proposed. In the heat of the moment, he’d pondered aloud how wonderful it would be to pamper her if they spent the rest of their lives together. She’d dashed his hopes, tore out his heart, when she announced days later that she’d taken a teaching position at her alma mater, the place where they met and fell in love. He was broken to find she still wanted him to share, after all they’d had, all the magic between them.

How much safer and saner it was to choose Sabrina. They’d buy a nice cottage with a garden and leave the hype behind so he could write more books. They’d get an adorable dog, have dinner with their mutual friends and proper English families. Maybe he’d even let her persuade him to have a child later on.

With a hiss of self-loathing, Tom storms out of the room and all the way to the door. Yanking it open, he steps into his grey suede shoes and barely remembers to grab his key and lock the door. Phone forgotten at home, he practically runs along the street, his head bent at the onslaught of cool rain that he didn’t even really register though he was soaked within a minute.

He needed therapy. He damn well did. How could he cut Thalia off so cruelly, then have that…that…whatever that was he did when he battled his will against hers at the conference. He’d wanted to lure her out, to get under her skin. To him, the banter had been foreplay and he had worn the tie she’d given him on purpose, to draw her out. Because any impression was better than no impression. Because by being patronizing and supercilious, he could hide the raw pain in his chest at seeing her again and knowing he had no fucking right to yearn for her.

No fucking right to tell her about the twelve or thirteen letters hidden in a shoebox under his bed, written to her over the years and never posted. They were, essentially, love letters. Some contained quotes and poetry snippets and sentences out of books that reminded him of Thalia or times they’d shared. Others read like a diary because he had nobody to share his moments of triumph and his lowest lows with him, so he poured his heart out to her. Yet others contained confessions; what he’d felt for her, was still feeling for her, what he should have said and done, what he wished she would do. But he hadn’t ever posted a single one of the letters. It wouldn’t have been fair to Thalia. He’d made his choice in Paris, then made his choice again when he proposed to Sabrina.

But apparently he was the weakest and meanest man on the face of the earth because one meeting had made him crumble to dust. It was a wonder Thalia hadn’t slapped him, hadn’t hurled more accusations or refused his peace offering of eclairs.

And what in the name of all that’s holy had driven him to that pathetic attempt at being friends? His jealousy that Evans could have at least that connection? His determination to try though he’d known it would never be enough?

With a sob lodged in his throat, Tom raises his head to let the pouring rain drown out all the unwanted emotions swirling inside him, like molten lava ready to spill over as soon as the volcano finally erupted.

For God’s sake, he was walking down the aisle in a few weeks’ time, and all he could think about, even after six years, was Thalia.

Thalia, Thalia, Thalia.

Whether he read a book, skimmed a newspaper article, ate chocolate mousse, traveled to Scotland for work or had sex with his betrothed.

Yes, even then.

Sure, in a weird way, he loved Sabrina back, at least liked her tremendously. And he found her beautiful, with her petite physique, sunny blonde hair and never stormy, blue eyes. They’d shared a bed a few times. He’d willed himself not to see it as duty, to give her everything, to be in the moment. And it had been perfectly nice, vanilla sex. The way happy couples should have it.

But he didn’t want that. He craved desperately, like a vampire thirsting for blood, the magic he’d had with Thalia.

And at night in his flat—because he hadn’t moved in with Sabrina– it was Thalia’s taste, her scent, the memory of her luscious curves and her uninhibited moans that helped him find release.

Not feeling even a little bit better after the evening walk, Tom finds his way back home. Soaked from the rain, he ignores the buzzing phone as he unlaces his wet shoes and walks on socked feet to the kitchen. He knows Sabrina just got off work and is calling to check on him. He’s not in the mood; tonight her neediness will just irritate him, he’s afraid. When his thoughts are more organized, then he’ll call back, he thinks to himself.

He reaches into the small laundry closet and grabs for a towel, rubbing it over his wet hair. Yanking of his wet shirt, he throws it in the bin, and pulls on a dry shirt and a sweatshirt for warmth. Tom’s eyes dart to the computer on the edge of the counter, next to the stack of wedding cards indicating meal choices for attendants. He growls quietly, moving to the fridge and taking out a bottle of beer. Twisting off the top, he takes a long swig, water still dripping down his back, off the hem of his faded jeans, making a small puddle in the middle of the kitchen. In two short strides, he walks over to the counter, picking up the pale pink envelopes and tossing them over on to the table.

His heart pounds in his ears as he opens the computer and logs in to his old account. He stares at the profile photo of a man with a beaming smile, wondering where he went to, wondering if there’s a way to get him back. Looking to the right of the screen, he scrolls through the names till he finds the one he needs. He sends a brief message, not even sure of the difference of the time zones anymore. He starts to walk away when the familiar ping alerts him to a message.

His finger hovers over the lightning bolt icon, wondering if he should open Pandora’s box. He did once before and look where it got him. He closes his eyes and drops his finger on the computer key.

Tom sighs and opens his eyes, reading the message from a little house in suburban Chicago, from a lovely widow: Thalia’s stepmother.

“She told me about London… I wondered if I’d be hearing from you…”

“Is she happy? Is she safe?” he types back quickly, regretting it the moment after. Or does he really?

He watches the little dots roll around, waiting for a response.

“She’s not seeing him, if that’s what you meant. I think it’s just Christmas and birthday cards now, to the little girl… But it doesn’t matter, Tom. You’re getting married… she’ll eventually let go and find a happiness. I was surprised when she told me the news…” More spinning dots while he waits with bated breath. “I always thought she was waiting for you to realize what you wanted… I honestly believed it was her… Tom, good luck to you and your future bride. I’ve already said too much, but I have to say goodbye. It hurt her deeply to learn I still spoke to you on occasion. I wish you the best. Have a good life… – Stacey.”

With another stifled curse, Tom tunnels his fingers through his damp hair. Now he’s feeling even more conflicted. What the everloving hell is he supposed to do?

Breathing in and out to keep insanity at bay, he chews his lip and makes a decision. For now, to cope better, he’ll compose a last letter to Thalia. To once and for all close this chapter. Of course he won’t send this one either but perhaps it will help him.

My dearest Warrior Princess, he begins, Do you remember our magical moments in Paris? Do they matter to you at all? Do you recall how perfectly we were made for each other? His eyes gaze over, lost in thought as he formulates the words he needs to put on paper to help heal his wounded soul.

Click here for the next chapter, Haunted

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

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

Peace Offering

ch 11 peace offering feb 6 2017

Peace Offering

Being Thalia

Chapter 11

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 2253

Summary: Tom reaches out to Thalia to make amends.

Previous Chapter, Running in Circles

July 2021

Hours later, still reeling from the day, Thalia Bareo plops on the couch in the lobby. Her tired feet can’t even carry her up the stairs, and she’s a little too tipsy to care. She scrolls her social media accounts, and blissfully her comments to the renowned professor and author aren’t garnering her hate. Many are actually sharing her thoughts. She closes the app when she starts to notice the comments have turned to his movie star good looks, and the way he spreads his legs when he sits. She doesn’t need to be reminded of those things… She sighs and rests her head back, closing her eyes and resting her phone on her tummy.

“Always a pleasure to get in a heated match with you, Miss Bareo.”

Her head snaps forward. “Oh, shit, with the loaded words, Tom, really?”

chap 11 gif

She sucks in her breath at the sight of him. Relaxed, the tie removed, a few curls of his chest hair peek above his unbuttoned shirt collar. His stark black framed glasses draw attention to his beautiful blue eyes, rather than hindering the view. Fuck him, she thinks weakly, her irritation already wavering.

He holds out a small pink box. “Peace offering?”

Thalia’s nostrils flare. “Sure. Bribe the fat girl with cake.” She slaps her denim-clad thigh, her voice laced with sarcasm and possibly a hint of disdain.

He raises his eyebrow and rests on the arm of the chair closest to her. “Thalia, dear, you’re not fat. I never saw you that way…  And I know you love-” His confidence falters and she watches him swallow his words, his Adam’s apple hidden below the layer of ginger scruff on his neck. She still can’t make up her mind if she likes it or not. She mentally shakes her head. It’s not up to her anymore to like it. “You used to love decadent treats. Three years ago, you loved decadent treats…” He sighs, absently rubbing his chin with his other hand. “They’re eclairs from Pierre Marcolini? Your favorite? Chocolat au lait?”

She huffs, clasping her hands together and dropping them in her lap. “That’s just cruel,” she whispers. “You know I can’t say no to those.”

He holds the box forward again. “Why would you want to?” He asks lightly.

“Why are you doing this, Tom?” She asks, taking the box from his hand. She watches in awe as he pulls small plates and plasticware from his leather bag. “Always a boy scout, even still?”

He tilts his head. “I never really understood that American reference,” he shares, holding up the plates for her to serve the treats. When she’s finished, he rests one hand on the table in front of them and signals the night manager with the other. He orders two glasses of wine, ignoring Thalia when she rolls her eyes.

“Liquor and sweets, Tom, not a good mix,” she warns.

He chuckles and licks the chocolate frosting from his thumb. He cocks his eyebrow. “Good thing I found you here and not your room, then.”

Thalia bites down on her lip to keep her expression restrained, but damn if his words didn’t open up the floodgates. She can’t remember the last time a man made her feel wet simply from a few words. It’s gotta be the damn accent, she thinks. My kink. She decides it’s best not to say anything, and cuts off a small bite of the eclair, the cream spilling onto the plate. ‘Cause that’s not sexual or anything, she thinks. A little giggle escapes her lips.

“Thalia?” he smiles, and she can feel the blush creeping over her chest.

She pulls her sweater wrap tighter over her flowered blouse and pretends she doesn’t notice the teasing tone in his voice.

When she still doesn’t speak, he says quietly, “I was sorry to hear about your father. He was a good man; always kind to me, even though I don’t think he liked me.”

She nods, raising her eyebrow at his accurate appraisal of her father. Always so perceptive… Happy for the bite of food in her mouth, she doesn’t have to respond.

“Your stepmother, Stacey, messaged me on Facebook, bloody abomination. Facebook, not your mother-”

“Did she tell you about the fire too?” Thalia can’t believe Stacey had been in contact with Tom, all these years, and never said anything.

“Fire?” He asked, taking another bite of the eclair and settling into the chair in a more comfortable position.

She nods. “I stayed at the school longer than I planned, simply to help my finances after my apartment burned down. Luckily, most of my favorite pieces of memorabilia are always kept on a shelf in my office, but I lost a lot of things… It’s hard starting over.” She watches a group of the conference attendees stumble through the front entry, drunk and carrying on. He doesn’t ask any other questions, where she lived or how she survived after the devastating event. She wonders if Stacey shared that little detail with him- that she’d found comfort in Chris’s arms. Made a life with him, and his daughter. Imperceptibly, she drops her head, as if hiding the fact. “The picture? In the slide show? I’d never seen it before. If you don’t mind, I’d like to have a copy.”

Tom simply nods, a twinkle in his eye. “Can you believe it’s been six years?” He gazes over her shoulder, letting his mind wander. “I may have other photos, if you’d like them. I have a box somewhere and-”

“No. No. Just that one.” She lifts her head and watches him. He’s older, more refined. There are a few more lines on his face, especially between his brows and around his eyes. And is it the way the lobby is lit or does she spot a few gray hairs in his ginger-ish beard? He’s pulling off this unexpected new look well, though she’d prefer to see his razor-sharp jawline without the scruff, slightly patchy in places. He looks well-groomed despite the beard and longer, wavy hair. Maybe a little too thin and tired looking, but still a handsome man. Always a handsome man. “There’s such a juxtaposition to it. The girly sundress and my boots, dirt smudging my cheek… My hand resting on the shovel. If that’s not me in a nutshell, I guess I don’t know what is.”

He murmurs his agreement. “When I found it on an old roll of film, that’s the same way I felt about it. I don’t even know who took the picture, but I’m so glad they did.”

“Me too,” she whispers.

They continue to eat in silence and the awkwardness lifts, or maybe she just feels that way as the wine interacts with her previous buzz.

“So, what’s it like working at the MAN?” Tom asks, moving the topics to safer ground.

“Oh, God, the Museo Arqueológico Nacional? It’s a dream. Was always on my bucket list, ya know? My work as a linguist and an archaeologist has been an asset to their team. Tom, I got to go to Altamira. Can you believe it?”

“Oh my word, Thalia! That’s fabulous, a dream come true! Tell me all about it,” he urges.

She can hardly get a word in the conversation. His own questions and excitement keep the conversation flowing. With a shared interest in the earliest ‘writings’ of man, the cave at Altamira has been limited to the public since 1982, and officially closed since 2010. He moves to sit next to her and huddled over her phone, she shares some of her crude photos with him. “I love that scientific reports refer to the drawings of bison, boars and horses as ‘works of Neanderthal authors,’ Tom. A written word before writing was even invented; it’s fuckin’ incredible. Just breathtaking to be in the space, occupied by early man. Some of the paintings have dated to be over 35,600 years old. It’s just incredible.”

Tom asks questions about the process of uranium-thorium dating for the old cave drawings and the pair banter back and forth for over an hour. Thalia relaxes and begins to enjoy the discussion, reaching a point when she feels comfortable enough to lower her guard beside him, their arms brushing occasionally and at one point she hits his thigh while laughing and sharing a joke. “God, I didn’t even know I missed this,” she admits, knowing she’s lying, and he probably knows it too.

“That’s nice to hear, Thalia,” he agrees.  “It would be even nicer if we could-”

His phone rings and he reaches forward to grab it from an outpocket on his bag. “Hello! Yes, I’m so sorry,” he chirps into the phone. So he’s still apologizing 24/7, she thinks to herself, mad at herself for feeling curious about whom he might be speaking to, knowing she has no right to care. “Yes… No… I’m still in the lobby,” he chuckles. “Yes. Yes. The colleague that gave me trouble today, yes, I believe we’ve patched things up?” He tilts his head towards Thalia. “I deserved it. She had every right to call me out. I was being an insufferable know it all… Ha, ha… you’re so funny. Yes, home in time for dinner tomorrow. Mmhmm… Yes. Alright, g’night… Yes, you too… “ He gives his trademark eh-eh-eh laughter that sounds so familiar and natural to her ears. “No, I can’t. Good-bye.”

Thalia fidgets with her phone, sensing this little reunion is over. She leans forward and stacks their plates together, picking up a napkin as it falls to the floor. “Well, Tom, it was nice seeing you-”

“Thalia,” he breathes out, sounding somewhat choked. “That was my fiancée. I’m getting married in September.”

* * *

Tom grimaces at the bitterness of the coffee he got from a restaurant across from the hotel before catching his Uber ride. He’s loaded the styrofoam cup with additional spoons of sugar but forgone the much-needed cream because he needs the wake-up boost.

As the vehicle takes him out of London, he tries to settle his long-limbed body into the seat more comfortably. He’s barely slept a wink the past few nights. Going to conferences does that to him. Always has, always will. He might be a natural at speaking events and he might always be as polite and affable as a royal doing his social rounds when it comes to interacting with peers or guests or even seminar participants – but he’s still a tad too introverted to enjoy doing it. He’d much rather research a project or write another book. And now he wishes he’d never have accepted the invitation to speak.

Because truth be told, the sleepless nights weren’t just because he attended the event. Thinking of Thalia kept him awake, tossing and turning, torn between haunting memories and fresh guilt.

Tom knew she’d be there too, of course. He had dialed the organizer twice to refuse the offer so he could spare himself the confrontation, then called himself a bloody coward and let them know he would accept.

He gave himself a stern talk before the first day, told himself that it had been his decision to break up, that it had been the right decision. That all the yearning and pining over the past three years didn’t count because on the surface, he did move on. As did she, probably.

He had been afraid to ask, but he’d been quick to notice during the presentation, as she clutched the armrest of the couch, she wasn’t wearing a wedding ring.

Still, seeing Thalia again, having to discuss topics they both used to obsess about together, privately, now shared so publicly, wrecked him. He’d chosen their tie deliberately, to have the upper hand, maybe also to remember a time when it had seemed he could have her forever. Hell, he didn’t even know the real reason for his choice, but he’d seen her notice it, and all the emotions that crossed her face before she schooled her features.

And then he’d lost his cool deplorably.

“God, you were an arse, Hiddleston,” he mutters to himself and downs another gulp of mediocre coffee. “It’s a miracle she didn’t rip your balls off and feed them to you when you had the fucking nerve to buy her sweets.”

Rubbing a hand over his face, Tom shifts in his seat. He hadn’t meant to let himself go like that at the panel but he should’ve known better. Thalia had always had a stronger effect on him than anybody else. She was the only one who could break him into a million pieces, and the only one who could mend him.

But he shouldn’t be having any of these thoughts. And he shouldn’t have approached her at all, shouldn’t have slipped back into their familiar camaraderie only to hit her over the head with his news. He should’ve sent her a bleeding email to apologize and then taken his sorry arse out of her life again. Why the hell had he felt this need to let her know about his upcoming marriage?

He’ll never forget the look on her face. One he’d seen rather too many times in his life now. One he never meant to put on her beautiful, beautiful face.

But deep down, a masochistic part of him was glad he’d told her. He’d wanted a clean cut, hadn’t he? Well, he sure as hell got that now.

Time to move on, even if he didn’t want to.

*****

Author created gif from images found on Facebook

Click to  Chapter 12, Exposed

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

Attraction

ch 3 attraction jan 9 2019

Attraction

Chapter 3

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Summary: As her first semester of teaching comes to a close, Thalia finds some quiet and relaxation.

Word Count 1361

Previous Chapter

December 2018

“Since I have to go to the airport too, why don’t I just drive you?” Professor Chris Hemsworth yells down the hallway.

Dumping the popcorn in the red bowl, she sprinkles it liberally with salt, pretending not to hear him. Rides to the airport indicate something more. And she doesn’t want that. Not yet. She patters down the hallway in the fuzzy Christmas socks he gave her, careful not to slip on the polished hardwood floors. The colored lights on the tree casts prisms around the room, reflecting against the bay window. She throws the DVD box in his lap and plops down on the couch next to him, settling the popcorn bowl on her lap.

He groans, though the light plastic couldn’t have hurt. “I asked if you wanted to a ride to the airport?”

Fiddling with the remote, she lifts her head to share a smile with him. “That’s a nice idea, but my flight leaves hours before yours.” She drops her head, looking over the buttons for the one she needs to start the DVD. “And I’ve already arranged a ride with a few students who will be on my flight.”

He lifts his eyebrow, apparently not buying her story, but he doesn’t say anything. The surround sound fills the room, growing louder as if testing the speakers, and the home screen lights up the TV.

“Point Break?” he chuckles, reaching into the bowl, his fingertips brushing against hers.

“Sure. Why not, you’re always bragging about surfing at Byron Bay. Thought this would make you feel at home,” she laughs, reaching forward for the box of Milk Duds.

Propping his feet up on the ottoman, Chris jokes,“If we’re gonna watch Swayze, what about Dirty Dancing, Ghost, or hell even, Road House?”

“Dirty Dancing?”

He wiggles on the couch. “I can move my hips. I’m a very good dancer.” He stretches his arm over the back of the couch, twirling his fingers in her curly hair. “Maybe we could go dancing sometime?”

“We’ll see,” she says, relaxing into his touch, practically purring as he plays with her hair. “That feels good,” she exhales quietly. “Do that some more.”

“¿Más?” he drawls. “¿Te gusta? That’s it. That’s all I know. Cerveza.”

Laughing so much, she practically snorts. “Time for Rosetta Stone, dude.” They settle in to watch the movie, making jokes about the president masks and talking about how they’d spend stolen money.

Sitting side by side on the couch, someone always has an arm squished in the middle. Relaxing against the cushion, she sighs and rests her hand gently on his thick thigh, not knowing where else to put it, after losing circulation from sitting on her hand. Shit, what a thigh! She bites back the groan lodged at the back of her throat, and tries to focus on the pretty men on the screen in front of her. It doesn’t help. Jesus, she needs to get laid.

Obviously not interested in the movie, Chris does everything he can to distract her.  As the action on the screen unfolds, his grasp on her neck becomes tighter as he massages the stressed tissues. “So tense, Thalia. Don’t you ever relax?” She rolls her head to the right, laying it against his muscular forearm, elongating her neck as he continues kneading her soft skin. “Orchids. How do you always smell of orchids?” He whispers, his warm breath blowing across the top of her head.

His accent lulls her into a calming state. “You’re gonna put me to sleep if you keep that up.” The popcorn bowl slides off her lap, falling sideways onto the couch. “You know I’ve been working overtime on prepping for the Spring semester, and the display layout for that museum opening in Atlanta.”

Chris twists on the couch, reaching across her for the popcorn bowl. In his grasp, he lifts it up and places it on the table behind the couch. His hand slides back down over her shoulder, toying with a dark, curly tendril caught in the crook of her arm, pulling it free. “You work too hard, worry too much.”

She sighs, her breasts lifting in her fitted V-neck sweater. His eyes focus on the rise and fall of her chest. “Hey, blondie, my eyes are up here,” she chuckles, grabbing his hand and holding it in above her shoulder.

His blue eyes lift and lock on hers and for a moment she gets lost in them. They are a different blue staring back at her, clear like the ocean. She wonders if they ever turn gray and stormy, or sometimes even a shade of green. She sucks in a deep breath and their bodies become completely still. The air fills with tension and electricity between them crackles over the sounds from the old movie. She’s been so careful until now, guarding her heart and protecting herself. Everything about Hemsworth, she could never think of him as Chris, for obvious reasons, everything was always comfortable and natural. Their relationship was tentative, teasing about who would bring the morning coffee, since they both arrive at the same time each day, him walking her to the car in the evenings, or their occasional dinner date. But it had always been friendly, a mutual attraction they both had unknowingly agreed to leave untouched.

Until his lips land on hers. Her hands push against his chest and she’s caught by surprise. He starts to pull away, to give her time to react, but she squeezes his thigh, signaling for him to continue.

“Are you sure?” he whispers in tight breaths.

“Mmhm,” she hums, lifting her other hand free to slide up his back, to caress the expanse and tightness of his form under his snug t-shirt.

His lips return to hers with more force, pushing her over on the couch and half sliding her underneath him while their lips and legs tangle together. One of his hands is on her right hip, moving from her ass to her lower thigh, squeezing her firmly through the rough denim, holding her close and keeping her from falling over the edge of the couch cushion. It’s barely wide enough for him, let alone her too. His other hand is next to her head, preventing him from putting all of his weight against her.

Both arms now free, she grapples to gain purchase on the hem of his shirt. Thalia wants to feel his tanned, warm skin under her fingers. The dark haired beauty almost giggles at the idea, unable to remember the last time she was with a man that wasn’t so fair he’d burn within minutes of being in the sun. Almost like dating someone frozen in ice, or a vampire… Shaking the thought away, she continues to pull at his shirt. She quickly yanks it over his head, surprised to find more tats on his arms and ribcage.

He grinds down against her, a sizeable weight pushing against her covered mound. “Slow down, darl, we’ve got all night.”

Thalia shifts the leg he’s holding up, wrapping it over his torso, making him moan when she digs her heel in his back just a little harder, adjusting their angle, pulling him closer to her. There’s a frenzy of movement on the soft leather couch, as the two rut against one another. His mouth is at her neck, then burrowing between her rounded globes, pushing out from the top of her bright pink sweater.

It’s fast and breathless, kissing him, touching him. Her hands trace the sinewy lines of muscles covering his back and shoulders, gripping him tight and using her feet to push him against her. It’s been so long, she wonders if she could come from just a heavy make out session on his couch. So damn long…

They’re both breathing heavy, a slight sweat along her hairline causing her hair to curl and frizz. The sweater is too confining, and the little kitten licks he gives along the lace trim of her bra are driving her crazy.

She pushes against him, gasping for air. “How ‘bout you show me the rest of the house, starting with the bedroom?”

Click to Chapter 4, Strong Shoulders

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

Collection

ch 2 jan 6 2019

Collection

Chapter 2

Being Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom &  @devikafernando

AU FICTION

It’s TRUE! @devikafernando and @avenger-nerd-mom are posting a SEQUEL for Educating Thalia, involving Professor Hiddleston and Professor Evans! In Being Thalia, the two rivals are still vying for their right to claim the lovely Thalia Bareo. The sassy full-figured Puerto Rican girl from Chicago is all grown up now, holding down a job, continuing her studies and freelancing as a consultant for museums around the world. Story 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.

Summary: Settling into a new, permanent role at the University, Thalia makes new friends and discovers her office comes with a nice view.

Word count: 2382

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

Images found on Pinterest

Previous Chapter

“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

2018, Fall Semester

With the announcement after Fall mid-terms that Lin-Hu would not be returning from her maternity leave, the University offered Thalia a teaching position for the Spring semester, with classes in languages and history. She was given the former teacher’s office, larger than the closet sized cubicle she had been sharing with two grad students. Elated to have a permanent space in the history department to call home, she was having fun buying furniture and decorating, and getting ready to go home for the holidays.

“Stacey, if I’m gonna get outta here at a decent hour tonight, I need to get off the phone, and get more of these boxes unpacked,” she says, pushing up from where she had been sitting on the floor, sorting through a stack of books.

“Ok, mija, just let us know when you finalize your flight plans,” the quiet, motherly voice says over the phone. “You’re father is so excited, he’s already planning to pick you up at the airport and take you straight to Portillo’s.”

She laughs. “Papá does realize I won’t be home for, like, another six weeks, right? I can’t make it home for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

“I know, I keep telling him,” her voice drops. “Will you be joining Chris and his daughter for Thanksgiving?”

Thalia pinches her lips to hold in the sigh threatening to burst out. “Probably not. I think I’ll join some of the foreign exchange students and help them serve dinner at the shelter.”

Stacey is silent for a moment. “Thalia, are you okay, sweetheart?”

Tears sting at her eyes and she blinks them away just as quickly. “I will be. I’m getting there.” Thalia chuckles looking at the messy room and boxes still waiting to be unpacked. “I really gotta go. If I’m not home by dark, my landlord will start to wonder why I even bother paying rent if I’m never home.”

“You are never home! Isn’t that why you keep all your favorite things in your work space?”

“You know me too well, Mamá,” she replies.

She and her step-mother exchange goodbyes. Turning the radio up, she steps back and visualizes the plan for the empty shelves. A student stops by with questions about an essay assignment, and before she knows it, it’s almost time to call it a day. “One more shelf,” she says to nobody but herself.

Bent over an open box, Thalia reaches in, pulling out a few more things to add to the balance of travel knickknacks and books on the wooden shelving. She chuckles at the low whistle she hears, and the whispered, “Nice ass.” She licks her lip but pays no mind to the man across the hall. Still got it, she thinks to herself.

Humming along to the Latin music she plays, she tries not to dance to the beat, knowing he’s still watching her. He probably doesn’t even know he said it out loud, she muses, having seen him already slam his hand in the desk drawer accidentally and forever jamming up the copy machine. The pretty boy from Aussie is a bit flaky, a bit too blond for her tastes.

hems nice ass

Reaching up on the shelf, she wobbles on her heels and huffs in frustration.

“I can help with that?” he asks, much closer now.

Sure enough, he’s standing in her doorway, his arm stretched up, resting on the moulding above the door frame. She does her best not to respond on animal instinct, her mouth involuntarily watering at the sight of him. Taking in the sculpted abs under the tight sweater and the tat on his inner arm, she feels her cheeks flame, hoping her blush isn’t visible. It would have been almost comical if his shirt had lifted to show what she was sure to be a very happy treasure trail. She shakes her head, and laughs him off.

“Hemsworth, right? No thanks. I know how professors like you work.” She snags her toe around the leg of a small footstool and pulls it closer. “Stretching up to reach things on high bookshelves, or door jams,” she rolls her eyes, puckering her lips in accusation when he drops his arm, “to ‘innocently’ catch a girl’s eye? Not interested.”

Sirens buzz in her head, telling her to stay away and keep focused. Sneering at him when he plops down in her new leather chair, she steps up on the higher plateau, arranging the books as she envisioned. “Hand me those photos,” she says to him. “If I can’t get rid of you, you might as well be useful.”

“I can be useful in a lot of ways,” he pronounces slowly, winking at her. Shuffling through the frames on her desk, he comments. “Nice collection. Paris. London. New York. Disney? Quite well traveled…” He hands up the photos, smiling. “So are the rumors true?”

Thalia tilts her head, looking down on him. Her tongue runs over her teeth, and she makes a clucking sound. “Is that why you keep sniffing around?”

They’ve chatted before, occasionally sharing a lunch in the staff workroom, but she’s kept herself distant and guarded. No actions that could be viewed as anything more than professional courtesies.

“No, actually.” He leans forward, looking at the stack of papers on her desk, reaching for another photo frame. “Your parents?” She nods, giving no indication she wants to talk. “Nice family… You’re always such a nice woman,” he shrugs. “You have an easy laughter, you always smell like flowers, and the lunches you heat up every day always make my mouth water.” He stretches out in her chair, digging his heel into the rug and spinning slowly from left to right. “We’re neighbors now. I simply wanna get to know you.” He crosses his arms over his tight belly and twiddles his thumbs, the silver rings on his fingers drawing her eyes to the slight movement. “I don’t care whether or not you fucked your science professor as an undergrad.”

“Hmm,” she hums,, lingering over his words and turning back to arrange the photos. She’d heard all the stories, none of them actually hinting at the truth. “I can assure you, I did not have sex with my science professor.”

He quietly assesses her. “I’d like to spend time with you, figure out what that amazing scent is that you always carry. Can I take you to dinner?”

prof hems tat

Holy hell. He is hitting on me. “What? Why me?”

“I miss home.” He reaches for a pencil, tapping it against the edge of the desk. She looks down at him, skepticism written all over her face. “I’m tired of all the skinny, plastic girls, the ones that only want to talk makeup and reality TV stars. I like a woman with a little more…” His eyes stroke over her figure, undressing her in a way she hasn’t felt in ages. A small butterfly flaps its wings deep in her belly. “Charm and intelligence.”

“What a flattering way to word that,” she chuckles, running her hand over her hip and slapping her thigh.

His laughter explodes, warm and infectious. “Someone to throw over my shoulder,” He says, rising from the chair to aid her as she steps down.

“Nice shoulders,” she compliments, giving his strapping deltoid a tight squeeze. “Too blond for me, pal.” She laughs and winks. Spinning on the step stool to properly stand down, her feet tangle and she topples from the height. With quick reflexes, the handsome professor catches her in a basket hold and her arm grips around his shoulder. She gasps, the wind sucked out of her. “Nice shoulders,” she repeats as he gently sets her to the ground, holding her as close as he can without being too forward. His eyes dart down quickly for a peek at what her tight t-shirt reveals before taking a step back, gallantly blushing.

“Too blond, huh?” He laughs, running his hands through his hair. “Sure I can’t change your mind?”

His Aussie accent jumbles her brain, slightly drawled, very relaxed. Accents are my kink. She tries to hide her blush at the thought, shaking her head. “Chris, that’s really sweet, but I’m still getting over a relationship. I’m really not…not myself just yet. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone,” she explains, letting him down easy and ushering him to the hall. Her heart thumps against her chest as a familiar plaid shirt rounds the corner at the end of the hallway, disappearing from view.

Hemsworth squeezes her forearm. “Sorry to hear that, darl. But I am somewhat lonely for company.” He tilts his head and his bright white smile beams down at her- “Jesus, you’re tall!” she mutters and he chuckles softly. “I promise I won’t bite, so the offer for dinner still stands, any time.”

“Thanks, I appreciate that,” she mumbles stepping back into her office. Placing her hand on the door, she laughs. “I know you’re still gonna sit at your desk and watch my ass, so I’m just gonna close the door.”

She waves the tips of her fingers and places a divide between them. Sinking back against the door, she hits her head against the solid wood. “How many professors you need in that collection, Chica?” she scoffs before pushing off the surface. Grabbing her purse from the bottom drawer, she reaches across the desk to turn off the lamp. Lifting a stuffed file, she tucks it under her arm, exiting the room quickly and locking the door behind her.

Thalia jogs down the hall, slowing before reaching the doorway to the staff workroom. Entering the shared space, she acts surprised to see Professor Evans leaning against the counter, eating a bowl of cereal. “Hey,” she says, nonchalantly, opening the fridge for a chilled bottle of water and her lunch bag. With her other hand, she waves the folder to him. “I finished the research. Wanna go get a table downstairs, spread it out and work on it?”

He chuckles at her word choice and she slams the folder against his chest. “Childish fucker,” she laughs, shaking her head.

“I didn’t say anything,” Chris laughs, turning on the water to wash out his bowl. “Can’t do it tonight, I’ve got to get Avery after dance.” He shakes off the excess water and lays the bowl in the drainboard to dry. “So… You and the Ken doll?”

She didn’t miss the jealous tone in his teasing words and her Latina blood starts to simmer. “Shit, I knew it. Are you fuckin’ spying on me? We said we were gonna live our lives separately. You have no right to-”

“Another professor though? Norse mythology? Really? Even the British arse would laugh at that. Maybe I should give him a call, let him lecture you about the pitfalls of dating professors. You always seemed to listen to him more than-”

Her eyes blaze as she cuts him off. “He wouldn’t fuckin’ care. His opinion has no basis on anything I do anymore and I couldn’t-” Her strength wilts in an instant and her eyes well with tears. “Fuck off, Evans,” she sputters, storming from the room.

She doesn’t turn when he calls after her and she tries to hold back her crying. He catches up quickly and reaches for the strap on her bag, stopping her. “I’m sorry, Thal, I didn’t know.” She angrily pushes away the tears, her arm caught between them as he wraps her in a hug. “He still didn’t call? Damn, I figured you’d patched things up by now.”

Thalia swallows hard, trying not to choke on her words. “Doesn’t fuckin’ matter. I just… I’m tired. I need a new life, to forget everything-”

“-But that guy? He’s… I don’t know? He doesn’t seem like your type at all, other than being a professor.”

She pushes away from his grasp. “Thanks for trying to cheer me up, but eat shit, Evans. You don’t have any say in my life now either.”

Rushing down the stairs, she gasps for breaths, trying to quell her battered heart. Working on a friendship with an ex-lover is just too damn tough, he always thinks he can have a say in what I do. I’ll damn well do what I want, she thinks, sighing heavily. Leaving the back stairwell, she pushes out onto the sidewalk in the late fall sunshine. I’m done letting them control my life, as if they still own me. I’m my own person, dammit!

Walking to her car, she tucks her water bottle under her arm as she roots through her purse for her keys.

“Side pocket,” a voice calls out.

She spins around, to see Hemsworth straddling a motorcycle, pointing to her. She reaches for her coat pocket, and sure enough, the lanyard is hanging out, her keys tucked safely inside. “Nice ride,” she says, holding up her keys as a silent ‘thanks.’

“Wanna take a spin?” He tilts his head. “You look like you need to escape. You all right?”

Pursing her lips, she shakes her head no. Swallowing hard, she pushes back her fears. “Sounds good actually. You still up for dinner? Drowning myself in pasta sounds good right about now.”

“Put your bag in the car, and tie up that wild mane of yours.”

She does as she’s told and jogs back quickly to his set up. Hemsworth has opened a storage compartment and pulled out a second helmet. Handing it to her, he asks, “Ridden before?”

“Been a while, but I think I can remember.” She takes the helmet and pushes back fly away hairs from her face.

“Hold tight and lean when I lean; squeeze with your knees.”

“Got it,” she says, putting on the helmet and watching him lift his thick thigh over the seat of the bike. Pulling the protective gear over her head, she climbs behind him, sliding forward on the worn leather seat and wrapping her arms around his fit waist. She can feel his tight abs under his soft sweater and a decidedly masculine scent fills her nose.

As they pull out of the parking lot, the side door opens again and Professor Evans exits the building. She lets go and gives a little wave as they literally ride off into the sunset.

Click here for Chapter 3, Attraction

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

Flashback

ch 1 jan 2 2019

Flashback

Chapter 1

Being Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom &  @devikafernando

AU FICTION

It’s TRUE! @devikafernando and @avenger-nerd-mom are posting a SEQUEL for Educating Thalia, involving Professor Hiddleston and Professor Evans! In Being Thalia, the two rivals are still vying for their right to claim the lovely Thalia Bareo. The sassy full-figured Puerto Rican girl from Chicago is all grown up now, holding down a job, continuing her studies and freelancing as a consultant for museums around the world. Story 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.

Summary: Thalia has an off-day, feeling out of sorts, and retreats to her office to let her mind wander.

Word count: 970

This opening chapter follows the events in the one-shot story, The Bet, originally posted in August 2018.

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

“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

2020, Early Spring

Trouncing down the stairs, Thalia momentarily stops. Two students leaning against the window ledge are arguing points for class, one clutching a copy of Coriolanus to her chest.

A cold ache fills her heart, as it always does when her former professor and former lover, Tom Hiddleston, crosses her mind. “Fuck him,” she mumbles under her breath, hitting her fist on the bannister. She waves it off when the young woman asks if she’s okay. She sighs and continues her path down the hallway. Unlocking the door to her small office, she slams it behind her. Her love of languages and Shakespeare lost their shine when her light left. Tom took it away when he walked out of her life, nearly two years ago.

Plopping in the chair, she props her dusty boots up on the desk, swiveling the chair to face the windows, looking out across campus. The trees are beginning to bud, and soon things will be green again. Moving a file, the tennis ball she keeps on her desk rolls towards her and she picks it up and begins bouncing it against the wall. Methodically her thoughts drift as she gets lost in the repetition.

***

Slamming around their small apartment in Paris, Tom throws his clothes into the two large suitcases on the bed, the sheets still rumpled from their lovemaking the day before.

“Tom! It’s not like that! Dammit, why you gotta be such a hard ass?” She shouts back at him.

“America, Thalia? I thought we were done with that? I thought you let it go?” Tom’s voice is tight and controlled, his accent clipped. He opens the top drawer, reaching in and scooping out all the clean socks and underwear. Slamming it shut, the clock he hung just days before rattles against the stucco wall. “That we had a life here, together.”

“It’s just for a few months, a semester.” She replies, stepping in front of him.

He pushes around her. “And right back in Evans’ bed, no doubt. Of all the Ivy League schools that want you, offer you teaching positions, why do you think they keep calling you? It’s him, isn’t it?”

“Tom, I haven’t seen him in months. I’ve been here with you, you fool.” She rests on the end of the bed, trying to make light of his anger. She shuts out her thoughts and feelings about Chris cancelling their Spring Break plans at the last possible minute because he’d met someone new…

“Don’t bloody lie to me, woman. I know you still talk. I hear you on the phone with him, and his little girl. I know you still send her cards and gifts.”

Thalia nods. She can’t deny it. She made one promise ages ago, and that was to never abandon Avery. And she held true to her word. The relationship with her other former lover and professor, Chris Evans, had cooled, but they had still remained friends. She says so out loud, but it falls on deaf ears while Tom roots around in the closet, pulling out shirts and dress clothes, tossing them haphazardly on the bed.

“So you’ve taken a job at our old school, where he still works? Where he still pines for you? And you want to keep me?”

“He’s moved on, Tom. If you’ll stop for one damn minute-”

“I don’t give a rat’s arse about him. I care about you and how you let him get to you after all this time, Thalia. It’s too much.” He stands in the doorway, seething with a frightful energy she’s never seen before. Another moment of his rage passes through her thoughts, when he found out she had been seeing Evans. But this fury is unmatched; there’s a finality in it. He throws his hands up in the air. “You know what? I’m done. I’m fucking done. I’ll be back to get the rest of my things tonight, when I know you’re teaching your class. I’ll change my flight, and head back to London early.”

“Tom, you’re being ridiculous. My dad is sick, you gotta understand that,” she pleads. “I have to be back in the States, closer to home. Field Museum wouldn’t hire me, and I can’t just quit working and go home. I have college debt and bills to pay. It’s just a damn job,” Thalia says, throwing a pillow to the ground. “It puts me closer to home, closer to my dad. You don’t have to leave,” she says, anguish choking her throat.

“I do. I can’t fucking stay here a moment longer, be in your presence, knowing you still love him. I won’t do it anymore, Thalia. I can’t. Since you’re not ready to grow up and give up your other toys, I’ll take one away. I’m gone.”

***

She catches the ball in her hand, gripping it tightly. He’d meant what he said. Other than the occasional professional email, Tom Hiddleston was no longer in her life. He wasn’t even someone she could call a friend anymore. He had totally cut her out. The wounds had been deep.

When she’d first accepted the teaching position at their former place of employment, to cover another professor’s maternity leave, returning to the arms of Professor Chris Evans had not been her plan. She had made a point to stand on her own and it had worked well, for the first few months. Chris had moved on, a new girlfriend taking up space in his bed. But he and Thalia had been able to resume their friendship, and Thalia enjoyed spending time with his young daughter. The girl was so inquisitive, beautiful eyes and a sharp wit, like her father. When she was offered a more permanent teaching job at the university, she had nothing in Paris to return to, so she’d gladly accepted.

Next Chapter, Collection

Copyright © 2019  avenger-nerd-mom and devikafernando. 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

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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?”

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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