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

Tutoring

ET ch 12 tutoring April 14 2017.jpg

Educating Thalia: Chapter 12

Collaboration by @devikafernando & @avenger-nerd-mom

AU FICTION

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.

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, NSFW, Dom, Sub, safe words, binding, blindfolds, aftercare, delayed orgasms, cunnilingus, blow job, spanking, condom use, silk tie play, trust, lessons from Tom on making tea

Summary:  Tom and Thalia grow closer while spending the night together in Chicago, putting his Christmas present to good use and learning to make a proper British cup of tea.

SPECIAL NOTE: Due to Good Friday in the States and the New Year celebration in Sri Lanka, there will be THREE story postings this coming week.  Look for chapters to be posted on Wednesday, April 12; FRIDAY, April 14 and Sunday, April 16.  If you want to make sure you are always up to date with Tom, Thalia and Chris, just follow avenger-nerd-mom on WordPress and stories are sent directly to you!

Images used for this chapter were found on Pinterest

Word Count 5996

Click here for the intro to Educating Thalia

Tom inserts the key card and enters the room, with Thalia close on his heels and still holding his free hand.

He’s opted for a cozy double room this time, not a lavish suite, but he made sure before booking that the bathroom has a generous tub if his girl should want a repeat performance of their first night together.

Pulling Thalia to him, he nuzzles her hair.  “I’m glad, darling, we were able to spend the day together.  I enjoyed seeing your city through your eyes.  So many places to visit; it’s no wonder you grew up with a love for theater, history and culture.”

Thalia pushes back against him, taking his hand.  “Come here, you have to see something.”

Tom drops his bag and follows her to the window.  Pulling back the curtains, the beautiful city lights up in front of them as snow begins to fall and a lighted ship can be seen on the lake, bobbing along on the waves.  His arms wrap around her waist and she rests hers on his, running her fingertips along his leather watch band.  His pulse quickens at her light touch and he wonders if she has any idea how she makes him feel.

“I’ve never really seen the city from up high at night; it’s so beautiful,” she whispers, leaning forward to get a better view.

With her forehead pressed against the glass, he releases one hand from her grasp and sweeps her long hair over her shoulder.  “Not as beautiful as you,” he whispers in her ear, continuing to tug at her hair.

He can see the smile in her reflection on the cool glass.  Pursing her lips together, she quietly says, “It’s a lost cause.  The Chicago wind; my hair will be in knots for days.  I like…” she sighs, turning in his arms.  Playing with the buttons on his shirt collar, she looks up at him through her dark lashes.  “I like leaving it down for you to play with…”

His heart flips at her innocent admission.  Before he can speak, she makes another confession.  “You also look really good in plaid,” she giggles.  “It’s damn near pornographic.”

“Oh, really,” he taunts, a chill running through him as her fingertips light over his collarbone, dipping beneath his shirt collar.  Barely a whisper between them, he tells her, “I’ll have to remember that.”

“Entirely too sinful… I wouldn’t be able to concentrate in class-”

“I wouldn’t know anything about that.” His hand reaches behind her and gives a light squeeze on her ass.

They both laugh warmly at the ruined lesson the day she wore the plaid skirt to lecture, and the few times since they’d worn or said things in a veiled attempt to tease the other out in the open.

Standing in front of the window, he begins to sway with her gently in his arms as they look out over the city.  He tries to formulate the words that tickle at the back of his mind.  He opens his mouth several times, but closes it quietly, not knowing what to say and not wanting to say too much.

She giggles, gently shaking in his hold.  “Tom, just spit it out.  I can see your reflection in the glass and you look like a funny fish!”  She mimics him in the window and he has a good laugh with her.

Shaking his head, he begins, looking down on her glowing face, cheeks still slightly pink from the wind..  “Thalia, I didn’t come all this way to visit you out of sexual frustration.  I want you to know I truly missed you.  I’ll admit, dammit, I was miserable without you.  My favorite hiding places- my office, the library- they held no spark for me knowing you wouldn’t pop around the corner.  Do you understand, darling?”

Her eyes soften and a new expression fills them, something he’s not seen there before.  She licks her lips and he can see her pulse quicken.  A light blush crosses her face, darkening her freckles.  “I understand, Tom.  I… I felt the same.  I’ve missed you; the feel of your arms, the poetic lilt of your voice.  You calling me this morning?  That was the best Christmas present I’ve ever received.  I can’t repay that to you, but-”

“Darling, it’s not a give and take like that.  Just having you here with me now is enough.”  His hand slides up her curvy figure and his palm rests against her rapidly beating heart, his fingertips brushing gently along the gold necklace chain she wears.

In her low raspy tone she tells him quietly, “I guess I could confess something else to you, as a thank you for flying all the way out here to see me?”

“What’s that, Thalia?”  His own pulse echoes in his ears and he wonders what she has to share with him.  “You can always tell me anything.”

Her mouth  turns up into to a cocky grin and she bites at the corner of her lip.  “You once asked me if I pleasure myself while thinking of you?  Well, I’ve been missing you a lot, late at night-”

“Oh, fuck, Thalia,” he chuckles darkly, “then let’s get on with it, shall we?”

She throws her head back in laughter and the tension has a more playful feeling now, but Tom still intends to give her a lesson.  She has no idea what she does to him…

“I hope you aren’t suffering from an overdose of too many sinful experiences late at night and alone, are you darling?”

She snakes her arms around his waist and buries deeper into his embrace, shaking her head. Her words come out muffled against his chest.

“Not at all. As long as I share all the experiences with you.”

“Excellent.”

As much as he enjoys a simple hug as this, Tom draws back, flicking her chin up with his long fingers.

“Good, because I have another new experience waiting for you.”

She looks up at him, and something about the expression of utter trust in her face makes him feel ten feet tall. He steals a quick kiss before saying in a low voice full of sinful promises, “I’ve been dying to try out my Christmas present, you know?”

He sees her eyes widen, then darken when she remembers- their last night together before she left on break and the silk tie and their talk about alternative uses for it.

“Yes,” she says, her voice already breathy, and he can’t wait to see how far she will let him go today.

The air between them becomes charged with sexual energy and anticipation.

Cupping her face in one large hand, he holds her gaze intently.  “A few things first before we start playing. While we’re doing this, I’m in control. You do what I say. You don’t ask any questions, unless you need clarification of what you’re supposed to do. If you address me, you’ll call me sir. Understood?”

Her tongue sneaks out to wet her lips. She nods, then remembers earlier instructions and adds a breathy, yet somewhat confident, “yes”.

He can feel her pulse throb against his fingers and he knows his heart is racing just the same. God, how has he deserved a woman like this? She’s a true gift, and he intends to treasure her for as long as she lets him.

“I’m not going to do anything you don’t like, so please don’t be scared, darling. I’m giving you the safe word ‘chocolate’. If you want me to stop something I’m doing or you ever feel uncomfortable at any point, you say the word clearly once, and I’ll take that as a signal to stop immediately.”

Thalia shivers, and he caresses her gently, trying to ease her nerves.  “Do we really need a safe word, Tom?”

Fear in her dark eyes, he worries he’s frightened her.

“I promise, I won’t hurt you or be too rough, nothing I don’t think you’ll enjoy.  It’s just a precaution…” His voice is tender and soft, to alleviate her concerns, but switches back to a controlling sound to finish his thought.  “What’s your safe word, darling?”

She sighs, working her lip over and he can feel her fingers nervously fidgeting with a fold on the back of his shirt where her hands rest around his waist.  “Chocolate.”

“Exactly. It’s your right to use it whenever things become too much. But I just want to tell you that you shouldn’t use it too liberally. This is all about new experiences. I want to educate you and guide you. So even if something might strike you as strange or daring, give it a chance first and see because you might enjoy it. Okay?”

She pulls herself tall in his arms, creating a confidence, making up her mind to turn herself over to another lesson at his hands.

“Yes, sir.”

Jesus, they haven’t even started yet and she’s got him hard.  She’s so stunning in the dark light, with the city glowing behind her, and he’s proud of her resolve.

“We won’t try anything too forward today,” he adds because he wants her to enjoy this and not panic.  And as he’s told her, he isn’t into the hardcore stuff anyway.  To prove he wants this to be fun, he nips playfully at her neck, eliciting a light squeak from the back of her throat.

“Yes, sir, I trust you.”  She nods, her curls bouncing and her pulse leaping.

“Good girl. Let your man show you how much fun a bit of playing can be.”

He lets her face go and grabs hold of her hand to pull her towards the bed.

“Strip for me, love.”

A little less shyly than the first time, Thalia removes her clothes one by one, holding eye contact.

Tom licks his lips and takes deep breaths. He doesn’t move from his spot until she has stepped out of her white panties, the innocence of them contrasting tantalizingly with her actions.

He steps out of his shoes, impatience raising its head inside him.

“Now be a darling and help me out of my clothes.”

She comes forward eagerly and removes his jacket before unbuttoning his plaid shirt. When her fingers brush lingeringly over his pecs, he grabs her wrist.

“No touching. Not yet. Just remove my clothes.”

“Yes, sir.”

She undoes the rest of the buttons and slides the shirt off, followed by the navy T-shirt he’s wearing beneath it. Tom shifts obediently this way and that, pleased that she’s sticking to the rules so far. His pants are next, and her fingers shake slightly while she opens the belt.

Slowly, she pushes the button through its hole, then lowers the zipper over the beginning bulge. Her hands falter and her eyes shoot up when she discovers that he’s been going commando.

Thalia opens her mouth to say something, but a warning lift of his eyebrow reminds her that she’s supposed to be silent. Tom watches with a smirk how she eyes his hardening cock with longing but keeps her hands to herself. He can tell whatever she wants to say is just killing her and he’ll have to ask later.

She lowers his pants all the way down to his feet, squatting in the process. Tom steps out of them and removes his socks, then pulls her up with him.

“The tie is under the left pillow. Be a good girl and bring it to me.”

His voice has automatically taken on a deeper timbre, a low growl full of authority.

He enjoys the view of her round ass when she walks to the bed, bends and retrieves the tie. The shiny silk with its mesmerizing color pattern of blue, purple and pink gleams in the light. Thalia is holding it in both hands, carefully carrying it like a breakable glass on a tray.

Tom takes it, gliding his fingers over it in a caress that has her suck in a breath. He plays with the length of it, watching her eyes follow the movement as if hypnotized by the sight.

“One day,” he says softly, “I’ll have you tie it for me before a party or retie it during the event, your fingers tugging and stroking it. And we’ll both remember what purpose it served before I wore it.”

He leans in for a kiss, snaking his tongue past her lips and feeling a little of the tension leave her body.

“Do you trust me?”

Her answer is immediate. “Yes…sir.”

“Perfect. Turn around and close your eyes.”

She does as told, swallowing hard. When he lifts the tie to her forehead and places it over her eyes instead of looping it around her wrists, she starts.

“But I thought…”

“Be quiet, pet.” He makes his voice stern, enjoying her surprise. As a warning for her to be obedient, he presses an open-mouthed kiss to the nape of her neck and sinks his teeth into her skin, hard enough to send a jolt of pain through her and mark her.

Then he returns to tying the blindfold, making sure with a few tugs that the knots are neither too tight nor too loose.

“Is this painful for you?”

“No, sir.” She sounds a little out of breath and nervous again, but her voice also carries the huskiness it adopts when she’s aroused.

“Can you see anything?”

“No, sir.”

God, it’s tempting to kiss and caress her now, maybe press his lips to every knob and indent of her spine before scraping his teeth over the small of her back and over those gorgeous globes.

But he has other plans for her, so he restricts himself to licking the spot he’s just bitten and then blowing cool air onto it. Goose bumps rise on her skin.

He inhales the flowery scent of her hair, the unique fragrance of her skin, mingling with a hint of crisp silk cloth.

“Turn around again.”

A little wobbly and off balance, Thalia turns to face him, and something about her blindfolded with his tie makes his cock twitch in anticipation.

Fuck, she looks hot like this, submissive but not too different, and definitely not uncomfortable.

“Touch me,” he commands, his voice rough. “Your sense of touch will be enhanced because you can’t rely on your eyes. I want you to run your hands all over my body and explore me as you’ve never done before.”

It takes all of his self-control not to haul her close for a kiss or fondle her breasts with their hardened tips when she starts caressing him. Her movements are tentative at first, hovering uncertainly at his shoulders. But she grows bolder with every ragged breath, her fingertips and palms traveling over his clavicles and his pecs, molding the ridges of his abs.

Emboldened by how intensely she must be feeling things and by the novelty of it all, she takes her time and really does explore him. Her nails graze over his nipples, making him moan. She glides her fingertips through the sparse hair on his chest and lower through the hints of happy trail leading south.

Fanning her hands outward, she explores his Adonis belt, tracing a vein down. Instead of moving lower, she touches his arms next, fingertips digging into his biceps when he flexes them. Her touch flutters over his wrists and palms. Interestingly, she explores his face next, studying him like a blind woman would to guess what he looks like. Her fingers brush over his high forehead and sharp cheekbones, linger on his mouth when he parts his lips and lets her seek out his teeth and tongue.

When she moves her hands to his waist and then back, wandering lower to cup his firm ass, Tom shivers in delight. Their bodies are pressed flush against each other, and it’s heaven and hell rolled into one. He grits his teeth to keep himself still, battling the need to really touch her and focuses on the subtle changes in expression on her face instead.

“On your knees,” he orders.

Thalia lowers herself unsteadily and reaches out to caress his thighs, trailing inwards to his balls, which she cups softly.

He hisses in a breath through his teeth, tensing when her fingertips massage the tender flesh and she rolls them slowly.

Probably unconsciously, her tongue wets her lips, as if she wants to run not just her hands but also her mouth all over him.

Fuck, he needs more.

With one hand at the back of her hair, half holding onto the tie’s knot and onto her hair, Tom keeps her in place.

“Open your mouth.”

Clenching his jaw, he shifts his hips a fraction so the head of his rock-hard cock brushes against her lips.

“Now explore me with your mouth.” It’s almost more of a plea than a command, and he can’t hold back a groan at the first slick of her tongue over him.

She licks away a bead of pre-come before sucking softly. Tom holds her head in place and drives his hips forward and back, sinking into the welcoming warmth of her mouth with agonizing slowness. Inch by inch, he lets her take more of him in, and it’s almost too much to handle.

Without waiting for his order, Thalia begins to lick and suck in earnest, and he can feel it in every cell of his body, the fierce longing to let go.

After a few more minutes of this sweet torture, he orders gruffly, “Stop.”

She obeys, but with a delay. Too turned on to remember punishing her, Tom yanks her up again and devours her mouth in a heady kiss that has them both moaning, biting and licking furiously.

He picks her up and half-throws her on the bed where she bounces, breasts heaving and begging for attention.

He wastes no time hunting for a condom in his wallet, tossing it onto the sheet before joining her on the bed. Crawling over her so he can cover her body with his, Tom lets her feel some of his weight.

“How was it for you?” he asks, barely able to form a rational thought and control his vocal chords.  “Did you feel everything more intensely?”

“Yes… Yes, sir.”

“Excellent. Now feel this.”

He slithers down and buries his face between her luscious thighs, wasting no time in working her up into a frenzy with his talented mouth.

“Oh God, unh… ugh, fuck…” Before long, Thalia is whimpering and shouting profanities, her inability to see heightening the sensations.

Tom pauses to reach up and tweak a nipple. “Quiet, girl, or I’ll stop and leave you hanging again while I pleasure myself and come all over your helpless body! No sounds, remember?”

She nods frantically, biting her lip.

“And you’re not allowed to come until I tell you to, understand?”

When there’s only desperate and very muffled keening, he holds down her bucking hips while pinching the nipple harder. “Understand?”

“Y-yesss, sir.”

“That’s my girl.”

He licks again, alternating between using the tip of his tongue and the broad flat of it, teasing and stroking. Pursing his lips around her clit, he sucks softly, which draws an animalistic sound from her.

He slows down a fraction, keeping her at the brink but not allowing her to jump off the cliff and drown into bliss.

Licking her delicious taste from his mouth, Tom moves up again. He holds her head and fumbles behind it, finally untying the silky fabric so he can stare into her beautiful dark eyes.

“More?”

Her hips still lifting and circling, she nods frantically.

“Yes. God yes, please, sir.”

Tom grins at her, frankly surprised that he hasn’t fucked her raw by this time because she’s so freaking delectable like this.

He shifts, crooking a finger at her.

“Sit up tall with your back turned to me and your lovely ass resting on your feet.”

Thalia moves as if in a trance, her whole body flushed and sweaty.

When she’s in the right position, he gives his next order. “Arms back, wrists together.”

Again, she reacts eagerly, her thighs pressing together to alleviate the ache between her legs.

“Good girl,” he praises her in a deep low tone, before giving her another love bite on the sensitive juncture between her neck and shoulder.

Her whimper travels straight to his cock, and he hurriedly wraps the tie around her wrists, tugging experimentally.

“Not too tight?”

“N-no, sir.”

He grabs and positions her as he wants, with her body braced on her knees and leaning forward and her ass in the air. The sight is so goddamn pretty that he can’t resist. In quick succession, he slaps both cheeks, hearing her choke on a needy drawn-out sound that’s more animal than human.

Alternating between displays of dominance and tenderness, Tom makes sure her head rests comfortably and she can breathe. He grabs the condom and sheaths himself, his hands shaking because he wants her so much. Wrapping a fistful of her hair around one hand, Tom tips her head back to whisper into her ear.

“Do you want me to take you like this, like the naughty girl you are?”

He rubs himself against her wetness, coating himself in the slick juices so he won’t hurt her.

“Hm? Do you want me to fill you so thoroughly that you think I’ve become one with you? Fuck you so hard that the guests on the whole floor will know I’m treating you well?”

Thalia moans incoherently.

“I’m afraid I can’t hear you. What was that?” He nips at her earlobe.

“Yeees.”

“Yes what, my pet? Tell your man what you want and he’ll give it to you.”

She fights for breaths and for her voice, trembling with need against him. “Please, sir, please take me like this. Make me come. Make me scream.”

Fuck, that’s hot.

Tom shifts and nudges her legs wider apart, settling on his knees behind her and giving her engorged clit a pinch that has her arch up with a mewling sound.

“You want it all?”

“Yes, sir, please.”

With one thrust, he sheaths himself fully in her, hissing at the tightness. God, it’s like he’s died and gone to heaven.

Thalia shouts, tightening around him in a vice-like grip that has him clench his jaw so hard it’s painful. When he slowly pulls out only to press himself inside to the hilt again, her shout turns into a guttural moan. He can see her body struggling to keep balance, can see her bound hands flex uselessly in search of something to hold on to.

Tom begins rocking into her, not as hard and fast as he’d like it because he’s a lot to take even with her state of arousal. From behind, he fits so incredibly well it’s as if they were built for one another.

He grabs her hip, fingers digging so deep that he’ll leave bruises. With his free hand on the back of her neck, he keeps her still while he pounds into her with all he has.

It doesn’t take her long to convulse around him, high-pitched keening telling him she’s close. Moving the hand around and letting it glide down the front of her body, he pinches a nipple before traveling lower and rubbing her slippery clit in tight circles.

Thalia arches up wildly and grows absolutely still, coming so violently around his cock that she can’t even make any noises. Tom follows close behind, feeling her milk him for all his worth.

As soon as he can somehow force breath into his lungs, he straightens and unties her wrists.

Massaging them tenderly, he peppers her back with kisses.

“Are you alright, darling?”

“Never been better,” comes the weak reply after a moment, and they both have to chuckle at that.

Tom turns and embraces her, shifting so they lie side by side and he can get a good look at her face.

tom and thalia.gif

“Enough new experiences for today?” he asks softly, brushing a strand of hair off her sweaty forehead.

She smiles, reminding him oddly of a sated and contently purring cat.

“Yea,” she giggles.  “You wore me out.”  Caressing across his brow with her thumb, she sighs contentedly.

#

Tom steps out of the shower and grabs a towel to dry himself off. His early-morning run has invigorated him – but truth be told, he knows that his good mood is mostly Thalia’s fault. This stolen day in Chicago with her has been a blessing. And he notices a subtle change in their relationship. More trust. They weren’t really the professor and his student yesterday, they were almost two normal people dating.

His blood heats at the memory of their tie play. God, she’s the hottest woman he’s ever met.

Starting to dry his hair, Tom walks into the room only to stop and admire her.

Thalia didn’t wake up when he snuck out for his run earlier, and she’s still asleep. The sheet has shifted with her movement, exposing one long, thick leg and part of her delicious curves. Her gorgeous curls are spread out on the pillow in tangles, giving her a certain wild look.

Tossing the towel aside, Tom prowls closer and slowly tugs the sheet further down. He licks his lips at the sight of her full breasts, remembering them bounce. There are faint bruises on them and on her waist where he’s sucked and bitten a little too hard, and his cock stirs at the sight of how he’s marked her.

She’s his.

And he’s hers too, even if he’s reluctant to admit that to himself. She’s wiggled her way into his life and now she’s as essential to it as his meals.

Banishing further thought, Tom leans over and shakes himself like a dog so that his wet hair sends water drops flying over her naked body.

She grunts and moves restlessly, one arm flinging out to the side. With a chuckle, he rubs his curly hair against her belly and nuzzles her breasts, spreading cool wetness over her skin.

With a small yelp, she jerks upright, hands automatically trying to fend him off.

Now laughing outright, Tom crawls on top of her and captures her wrists in his hands.

“Good morning, sleepyhead. I never knew orchids need so much time until they can bloom again.”

She reacts with a half-hearted eye-roll and a stifled yawn.

“Morning,” she grumbles. “You’re already up and showered?”

He nods. “Just came back from a run, actually, while you were lost in beauty sleep. Not that you need it, as you’re beautiful enough already.”

A blush begins to rise while she mutters, “You’re much too chirpy for this time of the day. Get your morning cheerfulness away from me.”

Tom grins and licks a few water drops from her breast, deliberately avoiding her nipples.

“Adorable. But I won’t tolerate slovenly behavior, Miss Bareo.” Shifting so he can sit up, he keeps her wrists in one hand while he moves the other to draw circles around a nipple, watching it pebble.

With a sound that reminds him of a purr, Thalia stretches beneath him. She drags her gaze to the alarm clock on the nightstand and gasps. “Oh, it’s much later than I thought.”

He dips and gives the now hard bud a tender suck, which instantly makes her focus on him again.

“I guess I wore you out last night, hm?” he asks with the lift of an eyebrow.

Her blush deepens, but a sassy look enters her eyes. “If I said yes, will that convince you that I need to be pampered with a 5-star breakfast?”

Tom throws his head back, his carefree ehehehe causing her to giggle too.

“As if I needed any convincing whatsoever when it comes to breakfast.”

He grows serious momentarily, trailing his free hand down to brush ever so softly over her thighs and center.

“Are you feeling sore, darling?”

She sobers and wriggles experimentally. The slightest grimace flickers on her face, gone in an instant.

“A little?”

Tom places gentle kisses around her belly button.

“Sore in a good way, I hope?”

She smiles, and it lights his whole heart. God, he’s fallen for her so hard it’s not even funny anymore.

“In the best way.”

Telling his interested cock to calm down, he forces himself off her.

“Go and refresh yourself, love. Then we’ll have that breakfast. But before that, there’s something I want to do.”
Interest widens her eyes as she wraps the sheet around herself and rises to go to the bathroom.

Before she reaches the door, he calls out to her.  “Oh, Thalia.  Last night, when you undressed me, you were dying to say something, love; what was it?”

With a flounce she stops and turns to him, laughter bubbling from her.  “I was just thinking about you being commando all day in the biting Chicago cold.  I almost felt sorry for you,” she giggles and disappears behind the door.

Bubbling with laughter himself, Tom makes the bed half-heartedly and paces the room, practically bouncing with energy when she returns a while later, still clutching the sheet.

“Only your panties and bra,” he commands softly when she bends for her clothes.

Thalia huffs, but she knows better now than to argue.

Taking her hand, he leads her to the far side of the room and points to the table.

“Pay attention now, Miss Bareo, I’m going to introduce you to the art of making proper English tea.”

She giggles, biting her lip when he shoots her a mock-reproachful glare.

“Yes, sir, certainly, sir,” she says in her most obedient tone, and he’s seriously tempted to ditch this and explore some more naughty roleplaying with her.

But he does take his tea seriously, so…

“Now,” he holds up a finger, using his lecturing voice although he can’t help grinning a little, “the most important thing by far is to choose the correct tea. But we’re sadly lacking in choice here, so the one they provide will have to do. I usually prefer Earl Grey or breakfast tea. And tea leaves would be even better than bags, but never mind that now.”

She nods, watching him grab a tea bag.

“Next, the water.” He holds out the kettle and motions for her to go and fill it while explaining, “Using old or coldish water in the kettle can result in scummy, scaly tea. So always boil it freshly.”

“Yessir.” Thalia salutes, which earns her a slap on a butt cheek.

“Behave. Tea is almost sacred for a true Englishmen.”

She quirks a brow at him. “Oh, is that why I’m supposed to make it half-naked? Wait, wait, wouldn’t that be a sacrilege of sorts then?”

With a feigned growl of anger, Tom plants a firm kiss on her mouth. It shuts her up for the moment, though the playful gleam in her eyes stays.

“Okay. Next step. If you want to make tea in a teapot, warm the teapot with hot water first , and then add one teabag per person. This ensures that your tea will stay hot longer. But we’re using two mugs with a tea bag each. The water really needs to be boiling when you pour it, simple hot water won’t free all the aromas.”

They wait for the water to boil, Tom allowing himself to be distracted by her fingers combing through her hair.

“Right. Now pour the water into the mug and stir briefly.”

He watches her do as told, displaying the same quiet concentration he is so familiar with from her studies.

“Now we let it brew for around two minutes.” Tom pulls her in closer, his hands always hungry for her skin. He caresses her waist and the small of her back, oddly happy to be standing here with her and making tea.

They share a smile.

“Ready. Remove the tea bag now,” he instructs.

Thalia does so, yelping in surprise when he clamps his hand around her wrist.

“No, don’t squeeze the bag. It’ll just make the taste bitter.”

“Yeesh, Tom, you really do take this far too seriously,” she complains half-heartedly while dumping the soggy bags into the bin.

“And now, oh maestro of the British tea culture?”

He pinches her waist softly, motioning to the condiments.

“Now it’s time for milk and sugar. And none of that low-fat nonsense for me.”

He drops some sugar in, making sure she’s watching. Then he takes her hand and helps her add milk slowly, controlling the amount.

“You need to watch for the right colour, darling. The perfect cup of tea will have a dark orange-brown look once the milk has been added and stirred. Too little or too much will totally throw the taste off balance.”

She rolls her eyes again, which earns her a second slap on her ass, this one stinging enough to make her pout.

Tom leans in to kiss the pout off her lips.

“Done…but not totally,” he announces. “Now we’ll let it rest for around four minutes until it’s the perfect drinking temperature.”

He takes a whiff of the fragrant steam rising, and she does the same.

“Catch that slightly fruity undertone?”

She nods. “Yes, what is it?”

“It’s a pinch of bergamot that is added to Earl Grey tea. Usually we should really celebrate the tea with some digestive biscuits or jaffa cake.”

“Oh, I remember that one,” she half-squeals, eyes instantly lighting up at the mention of food. “My roommate in London made me try jaffa cake. That mix of chocolate and orange was perfect.”

Tom gives her a joyful smile. “Ah, a girl after my own heart.”

He grabs his mug. “Now come and sit on my lap while I enjoy my morning cuppa. Repeat my instructions back to me. If you get them right, I’ll treat you to a spectacular breakfast.”

#

Trying to give her the privacy she deserves for her phone call, Tom places his earbuds in his ears while he checks over his flight information to return home the next day.  He shouldn’t have been concerned.  Her whole conversation is in Spanish, and he finally realizes she’s talking to her father.  Listening as the words roll from her tongue fluently he eavesdrops as she tells her father about enjoying a day on the town with a friend.  He can detect her father’s worry she didn’t return home when she sweetly reminds him she’s an adult and can be trusted in her decisions.  He keeps his head low as she watches him from across the room, blushing lightly when she explains to her father in her native tongue of Spanish, “He’s special dad, and you’d really like him, but it’s too soon in the relationship to meet family.”  His air of indifference holds until his laughter bursts out when she raises her voice to her father, shouting with frustration in Spanish, “God, yes we use condoms; I’m not stupid!”

Her head jerks to him and she blushes, shaking her head.  Ending the call quickly, she says defiantly.  “Shit, I should have known you were fluent… The way you roll your damn tongue,” she winks.  Sighing, she finishes.  “Dad’s a little old-fashioned; he gets I’m not a virgin, but he likes to meet my boyfriends.  He hates I went to school so far away from home, but it was the best choice for my studies… I know we’re a little non-traditional, you and I, so I’m not expecting you to meet my parents.”

He nods, crossing the room to her and hugging her close.  Meeting her parents and all a relationship should entail for a young woman…  Damn, he chides himself for the hundredth time, what am I doing?  Pressing his lips to the top of her head, he decides to set his thoughts aside for his solitary return trip home.

“Which museum shall we hit today darling?”

Click here to read Chapter 13, Alone

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