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

Warped Fairy Tales

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Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom & @devikafernando

Chapter 29

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.

Word count: 3700

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, fluff, questions, confusion, divorced parenting

Summary:  Chris has a little surprise for Thalia, before leaving her to rescue another woman in his life.

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

Stirring from slumber, Thalia is aware of Chris sitting at the foot of the bed, talking on the phone. She can only hear one side of the conversation, but he seems irritated.

“Maura, why do you only seem to need my help on my day off?… I have plans this morning…  Yea. Of course.  I can’t really say ‘no…’  I won’t take her to school; if I come all the way over there I’m gonna spend the day with her…. I wasn’t really asking your permission.  I was telling you…”

She squirms on the bed and contemplates leaving the room to give him some privacy.  He turns to her and smiles, shaking his head no and drops his hand on her shin, squeezing gently.  “Actually, Maura, if you need my help today, I need you to give me a little time. I do have a meeting on campus.  Can you bring Avery and meet me in front of the school library in about an hour?”

“Mmm… yea.   Thank you, I appreciate that. I’ll see you then.”

Hanging up, he tosses the phone on the bed.  “Well, Niña, change of plans. My ex wife needs to drive to the city for an emergency meeting this afternoon for her work, and she can’t get Avery to and from daycare on time.  Looks like I get extra time,” he can hardly contain his excitement and his smile warms her heart, “but that means I have to change our plans for today.”

Sitting up, she pulls the sheet around her, clutching it to her chest.  “Chris?  How are you going to manage that?” Thalia giggles when he tugs the sheet and pulls it out of her hands, exposing her plump breasts, covered with tiny love bites.  “If you pick up Avery in an hour, that’s not enough time to get me back to my place to change clothes and get my things I need for my afternoon classes.”

Crawling up the bed next to her, he paws over her thighs, grabbing behind her knee and yanking her back down, both laughing when her head hits the pillows.  Nuzzling into her neck, the air is warm against her skin as he breathes out.  “The red dress you wore last night is perfect.  Just wear it.”

Tipping her finger under his chin, she turns his head up to meet her face and glares at him.  No words are necessary.

“No?  Maybe you’re right.  That won’t do.  Can’t have all the dusty old men in the lit department lusting after you…  Why don’t you go see what’s in the closet?  Wear whatever you want…”

She pushes him away as his teeth clamp down on her collarbone.  “No more bites today, geesh.  What are you, a vampire?”  She loves his playfulness in the mornings, but the idea anything in his closet would fit her is ridiculous.  The man is blind when it comes to her size, and she simply adores that.  “Honey, your damn schmediums won’t fit me.”

Climbing out of the bed, she crosses the room, grumbling about wearing men’s boxers and he laughs at her, hitting her in the back with a pillow he throws.  “So get an undershirt from the drawer and grab a button down and wear it like a jacket.  And some sweatpants?  Just look.  I’m sure there’s something in the closet that will fit.”

Opening the door, she gasps seeing the three gift bags lined up on top of the dresser.  “Chris? What did you do?”

His arms wrap around her waist.  Pushing her thick curly hair over her shoulder, he says in her ear, “Why don’t you look and find out?”

“You know I hate presents.”  Folding her hands across his, she leans back into him.  “Why an hour?  That’s not enough time to play and model for you,” she complains.

Turning his mouth to hers, he kisses her tenderly.  “I know, Niña.  I’m sorry.  Do you need a quick shower?”  His cock twitches against her ass and she sways against him, adding friction between them.  “Because if you do, I’ll have to leave.  Are you okay this morning?  Last night I was a little rough on you.”

His concern shines through, and she runs her hands up his arms, squeezing his biceps.  “It was just the right amount of rough, I’m a little sore, but maybe I’ll get to some yoga today and stretch it all out.”

The smile is evident in his voice, the reining conqueror who satisfied his woman.  “You were fuckin’ amazing, so delicious…”  His voice is low and husky in her ear, his nose brushing against the delicate flesh, causing her to tingle. “Shit. I’m gonna get myself all worked up again.  You’re right.  We don’t have time.  I’m just gonna throw on a dad sweater and a baseball cap.  I’m good to go.  But if you need time to get ready-”

“No, babe, I’m fine.”  Turning in his arms, she looks out of the corner of her eye and blows sideways at a stray strand of hair.  “I’ll just braid this mess… and I’m assuming there are clothes in these bags?”

“Leave it free.  I like your hair loose.”  Handing her the smallest of the three first, he reveals to her a lace burgundy bra and panty set.  They dress together in the small confines of the closet and she wonders if she’s shared an intimacy like this before.  She laughs as he adjusts himself inside his boxer briefs, joking ‘on your left’ and he blushes.  But he gets his back when she bends forward to ‘adjust the girls’ settling herself in the bra just right.  “Shit, this feels like heaven.  That’s it.  From now on, you buy all my bras.  How did you even- ah, the day you were going through my things?” she winks at him when he nods yes and reaches for his jeans.  “I hate gifts, really, but I will gladly accept this one.  Bras in my size are not cheap, and comfort is necessary.  It’s perfect.”

“As beautiful as it is, and as much as I want to feel it on you, if I touch you right now, I might explode, and we’re on a time crunch.  Wear it again when we go to the movies Saturday.  Now finish getting dressed.”  Pulling a sweater from a hanger, he laughs.  “I can’t believe I’m telling you that.  It seems so wrong to tell you to cover up.”

Peering into the second bag, her eyes light up at the silk blouse, jeans and leather coat.   “Chris, this is really too much… I… I don’t know what to say.”  Sighing deeply, she kisses his cheek and adjusts the chain from his Saint Christopher’s medallion and collar of his cozy blue sweater and whispers, “Thank you.”

Pretending to ignore the tears in her eyes, he places his favorite ballcap on his head and taps her ass playfully.  “You can thank me later.  If you hurry, we’ve got time to stop for coffee.”  Taking the last gift bag from the shelf, he tells her, “I’ll meet you downstairs.”

“Hey, Chris?” She calls after him.  “If it’s that tight and gives a tat peek, I don’t think you can call it a ‘dad sweater.’”

His laughter rings through the house as she gets dressed quickly, admiring herself in the full length mirror on the back of the door.  She can’t deny Chris has style and taste.  He’s paid attention to the things she likes to wear, and she feels like this outfit was truly made for her.  The silk blouse adds an air of soft femininity; the tattered jeans hugging her thighs are down to earth; no nonsense, and the leather coat is like a protective covering.  He knows her so well…  It’s so different sometimes from-

No.

No comparisons.

Different.

Not the same.

But both so right.

She sighs again.  Searching her face in the mirror, she knows time to make some decisions will come soon.  It’s not fair Chris is aware there is another man, but most days he’s alright with it.  She worries about Tom and what his reaction will be to the news.  Quickly she applies some lipgloss, going for the totally fresh face look today; no time for even a light dusting of make-up.  Looking around Chris’s room for her shoes, she marvels again at the familiarity of this; the home-like atmosphere she and Chris create together.

That’s not Tom.  That’s not what he’s indicated he wants.  He wants trysts and secret rendezvous and hotel hideaways.  Fucking on the desk in his office.  Thalia crosses one leg over the other and squeezes her thighs together at the sinful thought… She desires the lavishness of that lifestyle too.

Both.

Selfish little bitch, she thinks to herself as she pads down the stairs, barefoot, remembering her shoes are in the den.

Rounding the corner, she stops at the sight before her.  Chris is sitting on the coffee table with a pillow in his hand and her heels resting on top.  He whistles appreciatively at the sight of her in the new clothes he picked for her.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.  I’m no princess.  That is absolutely ridiculous… and I adore it.  Hand me those so we aren’t late.”

Flopping down on the couch, the site of their lovemaking last night, she blushes as his hand graces down her calf, lifting her foot and sliding on her shoe.

“From where I sit, you are definitely a princess.  You are the most stunning, beautiful woman.  Style and grace, and you can pull off a big frizzy hair, no make up day and make it look amazing and-”

Grabbing behind his neck, she looks into his eyes.  “Listen here, bud, I already said I’d be thanking you for the new clothes.  Maybe after the movie we come back here to this very couch and relive last night’s Two and Three? But I don’t need your sappy words, I am perfectly-”

“You do need those words.  I’m going to keep telling you every day you are beautiful until you believe it.” Looking at his watch, he sighs, nodding his head in frustration.  “And I have another gift to show you exactly how beautifully amazing I think you are, Niña.”

She takes the largest bag from his outstretched hand.  “Chris, we’re going to be late?  Should we save this gift for the weekend?”

Chris helps her pull the giant box from the bag, his hand brushing against hers.  Her eyes focus there for a moment and she can see the blood pulsing through his veins and she senses the nervousness to his breathing.  Fuck.  At least the box is too big for jewelry.  She bites back her nervous laughter. Things are moving way too fast, but she could just see him being that guy.  One beat of her heart tells her she’d say yes in a New York minute, the other beat tells her to run for the hills…

But he had detangler by his bedside…

Shit.  Shit.  Shit.  She’s in too deep, but she doesn’t really want out either.

Opening the box, Thalia peels back the tissue paper and the sequins and sparkle stop her cold, but she masks the look on her face.  The surprise in her voice is real.  “Chris? What’s this?”

Still resting on the edge of the coffee table, his hands dance over the sequins, satin and red lace.  “Thalia, as fuckin’ silly as it sounds at our age, would you go to the ball with me?  I hate to go to the Alumni Gala, but I thought if you were there-”

She sees it in his expression when he’s figured it out before she can even speak.  “Oh, babe.  I’m… I’d really love to go with you, and this dress is amazing, but I already have a dress?  My stepmother and I picked it one out together, online.”  She sighs quickly, trying to keep it together. “I have to go with the Language Department since we are being recognized as a team for our research last summer at Stratford-Upon-Avon. I really wish-”

His hand clasps down over the top of hers.  Giving a gentle squeeze, he nods.  “Can’t say I’m not disappointed, I’d love to have you there on my arm; which is probably a very self-destructive career move.  But you know I’m not ashamed to be seen with you and-”

“I know you’re not.  It’s very sweet.”  Rising to her feet she wordlessly reminds him they have a schedule to meet.  “I like when we ‘accidentally’ meet in the Commons.” She runs her hand over his scruff. “I look forward to warmer days when you can find me catching some sun on the quad.  You know in Spring, I often wear cut-off shorts.  Be damned these thunder thighs!”

“I happen to like these thunder thighs and being stuck between them.”  Seated at just the right height, he places a kiss against her denim covered mound and snakes his fingertips between one of the fashionably ratty holes in her jeans to stroke her skin.  “That I’d like to see.  Text me the first day it’s warm enough.”

Giggling, she takes his hand and pulls him up.  “It’s a promise…  I really am sorry, Chris, about the Gala.”

“It’s okay, really.  It’s probably no surprise I hate shit like that.”  Shrugging his shoulders, he leads her out the front door, locking it behind them.  “I might not even go; who knows.”

She really hopes he decides to stay home.

#

The two talk in the car and Chris shares his nervousness about his impending court date with his ex-wife.  He’s hoping since the Spring semester will be up soon and his class load is light for the summer that his ex will agree to Avery spending more days with him instead of being in daycare all the time.  They discuss her frustrations about not hearing about her internships yet.

At the stoplight before entering onto campus grounds, Chris gives her a quick kiss on the lips and her hand quickly swishes over his cock.  “Evil woman,” he teases.  “I’ll see you Saturday night?”

“Of course.” Fluffing her hair, she rubs her lips together and smiles at him as he pulls the car up to the curb on the far side of the campus library.  Taking her coffee cup from the tray, she lifts it to him in silent ‘thanks.’  “Have a great day with Avery.  Ya know, I really am gonna get a complex if you keep dumping me for a younger woman.”

Chris chuckles and watches as she slides her ass down out of the vehicle.  “I’ll text you later.”

“Yup, sure.” She smiles and waves goodbye, watching his car drive round the corner.

Later, she’ll be at dinner and a play in the city with Tom.

Curiosity gets the better of her, and she follows the sidewalk to the front of the building.  She’s got time to kill before she has to be anywhere today.  She tightens the pink scarf around her neck and has a seat on one of the benches lining the front of the building, hidden under the pine trees.  She sees Chris’s car parked in front, in one of the faculty spaces reserved for two hour visits to the library.  A silver mini-van pulls up next to his  and a tall, skinny blonde exits from the driver seat.  In view from her long black wool coat, Thalia can spy a great pair of legs in killer heels.  A basic nightmare for all fat girls- a tall, skinny blonde ex. Yea!…  The woman hangs up her phone and places it in her coat pocket.  Chris removes himself from his car and greets her on the sidewalk.  She leans in to kiss his cheek and Thalia’s heart seizes as she waits to see his response. He steps back, holding his ex at arms length.  As they talk, the cold air creating clouds of mist between them, a little blonde bundle of energy bounces out of the vehicle.  Chris bends to lift her up and she covers his face in kisses.  Thalia holds back her laughter when she hears the light voice echo across the quad, fussing, “Poppa!  You need a shave!”

The regal looking woman reaches into the back seat and hands Chris a bag.  Stepping forward, she kisses the little girl and taps the brim of Chris’s hat before returning to the warmth of her car and driving away.

The little girl waves goodbye to her mother and Chris sets her down.  He squats in front of her, resting his arm around her tiny waist as he talks to her.  His giant hand nearly covers the whole of her back and even from a distance, Thalia can see the mutual affection they share for one another.  Standing up, he offers the curly headed little girl his hand and she wraps her tiny one around his index finger.

More than one younger woman has him wrapped around her finger?  She giggles to herself.

The pair walk to the library entrance and a stuffed animal falls from a pocket on the bag and rolls across the sidewalk.  Since no one else is around, Thalia quietly runs up to retrieve it.  Once in hand, heart racing at meeting the true love in his life, she calls out, “Professor Evans?  Professor Evans!”

Father and daughter stop on the stairs and Chris’s startled expression changes to a glowing grin as she waves the bear, walking closer.  “I think you dropped this?”

The little girl bounds down the steps.  “Oh, Mr Bear!  Did you jump out of the bag again?!” she exclaims dramatically.  “Thank you so much for rescuing him.  He’s a silly bear; always trying to get into adventures.”

Thalia can’t help but reach out to the soft tendrils of hair and pushes it back from the little girl’s face.  Her eyes are the same ocean blue of her father’s, with the long beautiful lashes rested against her pale skin when she blinks.  “Hi,” she says quietly, awed by the little one.  “You must be Avery?  I work with your Dad.”

“Yes.  It’s nice to meet you.”  She straightens the bow tie on the bear’s neck.  “What’s your name?”

Thalia looks up when Chris clears his throat.  Other students are swarming the front of the building as classes let out for the hour.  Thalia nods to him and steps back.  She introduces herself as Chris swoops his daughter up into his arms to avoid getting crushed in the crowd.

“Poppa, this is Thalia.”  The lovely little girl smiles, missing one of her top teeth.  She pokes her tongue through the hole, so Thalia feels this is a new development to her appearance.

“Yup, I know Bug; we work together.”  Chris winks to Thalia, the little girl still playing with her bear.

She turns to look at her father and whispers, obviously not a skill she’s learned yet.  “She looks like that princess we saw in the movie.  You know?  The singing one with the pet chicken and she had to save her island?”

Chris bites his lip as the blush creeps over Thalia.  “You know what, Avery?  You’re right, she does look just like a princess.”

The clock tower strikes and Thalia excuses herself from their small group.  “It was nice meeting you, Avery.  I have to get to my class now, or I’ll be late.  See you around, Professor Evans.”

The two wave goodbye and Thalia can feel Chris’s eyes watching her as she walks away.  Her mind lost in thought, she doesn’t realize when Professor Joanna Kent strides beside her.  “Sad thing about Professor Evans and his wife.  They seemed so in love!  You be careful of him, young lady.  He has a long list of young lovers from what I hear and that’s what ended his fairy tale marriage.  Cute little girl though, isn’t she?”  She tsks.  “Yes, smart thing like you, going great places?  He’ll be looking for someone soon enough to help him raise that child.  Is that something you really want to get stuck with?”

Kent’s words ring in Thalia’s ears and her stomach lurches.  She has a mind to set the old hag straight on many things, starting with the spinach stuck between her teeth.  Instead, she creates an excuse to cut through the science building and leaves the woman staring after her in wonder.

Fighting to catch her breath, Thalia stops on the nearest bench and claws at the scarf around her neck, pulling it away from her.  She can’t tell if the rising heat is embarrassment or anger.  She secretly hopes for the flu, as an escape from her night out with Tom.  He can’t see the love bites covering her chest and thighs.

Dropping her head to hands, her heart sinks.

I can’t be what Chris needs.  I’m not ready for that.  A perfect life, a kid…

For the first time that day, she asks herself the question she repeats daily: What the hell am I doing?

Holding back the tears in her eyes, she makes the one decision she can control today.

Opening her phone, she sends a text.  Tom, I’m running a fever.  I have to cancel the play tonight.  Staring at the message in her hand, she attempts to soften the rejection.  Care to pick up some movies and chicken noodle soup?  I also really love mashed potatoes when I don’t feel well.

Moments later his response appears.  Whatever my Warrior Princess needs. How about that superhero movie you wanted to see a few months back?  Don’t come to work today and I’ll see you at your place around five?

Thalia sends a reply and a few other quick messages. Her mind races with thoughts as she decides to skip her classes for the day and connects with Uber for a ride home.  While she waits on the sidewalk for the car her phone buzzes with a message from Chris.  See you Saturday, Princess.

Her thoughts swirl in her head as she climbs in the back seat of her ride when it pulls up to the curb.  Princess.  With two princes.  What kind of warped fuckin’ fairy tale is this?

Click here to Chapter 30 Night In

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