Whatever You Need

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Whatever You Need

Being Thalia

Chapter 23

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 3052

Summary: Tom and Thalia’s reunion continues…

*****THIS CHAPTER IS NSFW****

Previous Chapter, Beg For It

The taunts of his handyman skills still hang in the air as Thalia turns on the bed, falling onto her palms, with her ass towards him.

“Darling, not to complain… well, you’re still overdressed.” Thankful her position blocks her view, Tom pushes his hands against the table, hoisting himself up, his bones popping and creaking. Tilting his head right and left, he stretches out the stiff muscles in his neck, held awkwardly for so long as he was going down on his woman.

His.

Feeling the tightening in his shorts again, he quickly slips out of them and walks to the bathroom.

“What are you doing?” she calls out.

“Condoms,” he answers, rifling through his shaving kit. Mumbling under his breath, he adds, “Although I’m sure there’s some in the little sex kit in your purse.”

“Like that, do you?” She looks up and their eyes connect in the bathroom mirror. “Go pick out something we’d enjoy.”

“You are a bad girl,” he belly-laughs as he pulls the strip of condoms from the bottom of the bag.

“Me? You’re the one with, what? Like six condoms in your hand.”

“You’re not going anywhere until we use all of them,” he proclaims, dropping a pile of towels on the bed near her folded hands. “And you’re still dressed.”

“Then do something about it, Thomas,” she says, hissing out his name.

Smacking her ass, he looks her over, trying to figure out the lovely fashion. It’s not her usual style with a tie at the waist. “Completely stunning, I hate to ruin it… But if I can’t figure it out soon enough, I’m just going to rip it from your body.”

Gasping at the thought, he sees she’s already dripping between her legs. She’ll be wanting him to hurry up. His cock twitches, and he leans over her, rubbing himself against the slick running down her thigh. He bends to lick it, circling his tongue over the small bite mark from his previous play.

“Zipper’s at the neck,” she whispers.

His hand slides up her spine, gently forcing her down on to her elbows. Draping her wild, curly mane over her shoulder, his long fingers find the tiny zipper and pull down. Leaning over her full figure, pressing his cock between her thighs, he reassures her with tiny kisses down her back as he exposes her skin. “So beautiful, Thalia. All of you; all mine.” She moans appreciatively, accepting his words, as her hands grip and release the bedding, reminding him of a kitten pawing in contentment. “Are you happy, darling? You’ve made me so happy.”

Estoy contenta,” she replies, rocking back into him.

Unable to resist the temptation, he grabs her hip, thrusting his hard cock between her legs, rubbing himself against her and smearing her juices. So wet, he easily slides inside her and she hisses again, moving away from him. “Uh, uh. Nope,” she scolds.

“Three seconds of pure heaven,” he mutters, quickly rolling the condom on, stroking his shaft and securing it into place. “I’ve waited too damn long for this. Your arse; damn, love, you have no idea how I’ve dreamed of this,” he praises, plunging himself into her center, dress still bunched around her waist.

“Fuck,” she cries out, twisting the sheets in her hands, taking his assault.

As if no time has passed, they fall into their rhythm together. Tom bucks forward as she rocks on and off his cock, stretching her, filling her. Her tight walls pulse around him, pulling him in deeper each time. Fumbling with her bra, he finally rips the fabric, pulling the blasted thing out of his way, freeing her breasts. As he continues to pound into her from behind, he reaches around her sides, wrapping himself around her, hugging her tightly and clutching the swinging globes, rolling the peaked nipples between his fingers. Her sounds echo in his ears as the crescendo rises, sounds of a woman, not afraid if anyone knows they’re fucking like animals in his hotel room. No need to keep secrets anymore. He finds his own sounds mimicking hers, an auditory delight.

“Shit, darling, so good,” he sighs, feeling her fingertips drag along his shaft with each thrust. “What are you doing?”

Rocking forward, tilting her ass a little higher in the air, she sighs. “Just needed a little more… playing with my clit.”

“Fucking hell,” he pants, her words already stitching across his memory, forever ingrained. “That’s hot as fuck. Let me help.”

“No! Don’t change anything,” she breathes heavily. “So close.”

Chuckling, a light sweat across his brow, he holds to the rhythm, careful not to change a thing for his lady love as she drives herself closer to her release. He smacks her ass. “Come for me, darling. I beg you. Spill all over me, pinch it. Rub it. Whatever you need.” Lunging himself forward, he pushes against her secret spot, biting at her shoulder as he feels the change in her before she does. “Let go, Thalia, let go. I’ve got you. Always.”

He continues his thrusts as her hands falter and her legs quake. She stills momentarily, before falling to the bed, twisting onto her back and pulling him down on top of her. Grabbing between them, she strokes his cock, guiding it inside. “Do it again, come for me now, Tom.”

He smiles down at her, tenderly kissing her forehead, covered in a sheen of sweat, tiny curls stuck to her skin. “Anything for you, darling. Your wish is my command.” Grabbing her knee, kneading her fleshy thigh, loving the feel of a real woman in his arms, he pins her leg to his side. Shifting forward, he raises his foot up, planting it on the bed near her hip, lunging forward, pinning her to the bed. With each push, she scoots across the bed, till her head nearly hangs over the other side. Lifting her head, she smiles at him and their eyes lock. A million thoughts pass between them wordlessly as he spills into her, filling the condom as she comes again, gripping his ass, her fingernails cutting into him. He relishes the pain, proof of passion he hasn’t felt in ages, the ache inside finally filled as he empties himself into the only woman he’s ever loved.

Hours later, two more used condoms lie twisted and knotted on the floor by the bed. Tom’s grin has locked his jaw and he rubs it, trying to loosen the joint as his other hand twists in her hair. Or maybe it’s not his smiling, but the action it’s had, licking her pretty pussy, or sucking her glorious nipples. Either way, it’s a forgotten pain, one he’ll gladly get used to again.

“What are you thinking about?” she asks, turning her head, digging her chin between his ribs and dragging her fingers through the faint trail of blond hairs on his belly.

“I haven’t fucked like that in ages,” he blurts out. Abashedly, he admits, “I can’t remember the last time I licked a cunt, and never one as good as yours.”

Thalia lifts her head to look at him. “You and your fiancé never-”

He tilts his head, resting it back against the headboard. Shaking back and forth, he shares. “Said it wasn’t cleanly; it just wasn’t something we did-”

“You love eating pussy!” She lifts her head, staring at him incredulously. “You were going to marry a woman who wouldn’t let you go down on her?”

Tom bristles, feeling a need to defend his jilted ex. “Thalia, there’s just some things we shouldn’t-”

“No. No. There’s too many things we never said. From this point on, if this is gonna work, we don’t keep secrets. Right now, we’re in a bubble. We’re gonna talk about things that are damn painful, and neither of us can get mad about it, or jealous. Can you do that, Tom? Not get jealous? Not punch walls?” She pulls herself out from under the blanket, sitting cross legged on the bed next to him. Grabbing a pillow, she hugs it to her chest. “I beg you, Thomas. We need to talk about things. Get it out now, leave it behind us in this room so we can move on.” She shrugs. “And if we can’t leave it behind, can’t not get jealous, then we leave each other alone, for good.”

Reading her face, an icy sneer hides behind her eyes, almost challenging. She doesn’t think he can do it. Fine. He’ll cut his heart out, put it on a platter and serve it up. Prove to her he’s man enough to take it. “Yes, yes, Thalia, I was going into a marriage of convenience, filled with dutiful sex, but no passion.”

“That sounds boring as hell… Tell me about her. Sabrina. How did you two meet?”

Tom shrugs, running his hand down his chest, and pulling the sheet higher up over his belly. “We were childhood friends. Our parents knew one another, and we were always thrown into social situations. I knew she’d had a crush on me when we were teens, but she was a bit sheepish and boring.” He looks up at the ceiling, unable to avoid Thalia’s watchful brown eyes. “I wanted adventure, something wild and untamed…” He twists his fingers in the sheets. “I eventually found it, and ruined it, as you know, because of my own bloody jealousy. Insecurities.” He looks at her, but she’s examining a tear in her stockings, the only article of clothing still on her body. “I was left damaged, and honestly didn’t want to love again. I was punishing myself, in more ways than one. When we ran into one another at a theater production in the West End, she just made things simple. I’m not proud of it; I behaved badly. I’ve left her with a mess to fix, and I do need to get back to London to take care of expenses.” He scoffs. “Cancelling a wedding is almost as expensive as having one.”

Thalia taps her foot against his thigh, pulling off the ruined nylon. “Did you love her?”

Raising his eyebrow, he nods. “I did, I do. More as a friend, a confidant…” He swallows hard. “I think… Well, it sickens me to say it out loud, but I think I settled with her, because in some ways, she reminded me of you. We could talk about the same books and theater, challenge each others ideas on politics. Fit in with the social set. Good box seats at Wimbledon with her family connections… On paper, she’s equal to you in many aspects except where it mattered most, true love, affection, wild abandon. She wouldn’t be the type to lie in bed, eating pizza and watching FIFA.” Reaching across, he lifts under Thalia’s chin, bringing her eyes to his. “No one could ever replace you.”

“So you settled?” She nods, leaning back from his hold. “I don’t know if I’m honored or sad…”

“Well, circumstances somehow found you back here, in my bed. You never settled?”

He doesn’t really want to know her story, knowing it includes Evans, but if getting it out now means they never have to talk about it again, he’d rather rip the band aid off all at once.

“Can you do this? Can you listen and I talk, and it not be an issue?” she asks, placing her hand on his knee with a gentle squeeze.

“I beg you to be honest with me, love, or you’re right, we’ll never get past it.”

She rubs her lips together, thoughtfully. “It wouldn’t have been settling, for me. It would have been right, in so many ways.” Her voice drops. “The ring was beautiful, and I even wore it awhile, but after saying no three times, he never asked again.” She stares at her bare hand, running her thumb over the spot where a ring once sat. His heart chills, hearing she almost married the man. Had she done it, actually walked down the aisle, he may very well have needed to kill himself, simply to end the pain.

She shakes her head, continuing. “I wanted more, adventure, far away places. After traveling a time or two long distance with a kid, it quickly became clear it would be one thing I’d have to leave out…” Tilting her head, she continues. “I was selfish, kept looking for the next challenge, searching museum openings and dig opportunities. Can’t really do that if kids are in tow.” She looks up. “But I’m really happy here. I love Madrid, so many opportunities and archaeology sites are easy to get to throughout Europe; I haven’t done a job search in nearly a year.”

Tom nods, clearing his throat. “And you… you and Evans-”

“Good friends. But he’s got a new life now, getting married soon, to the mother of his newborn son. She’s not too fond of me, but knows we talk occasionally.” She tilts her head, sighing. “Once or twice a week.” She shrugs. “If I’m being honest, we talk pretty regularly, it’s almost as helpful as therapy.” At his glance, she scoffs. “Yes, I go to therapy now…” She wipes a stray hair off her cheek. “I might be going to the States in a few weeks. He’s asked to me to cover his class the two weeks they’ll be gone after the wedding. I can’t, I can’t go see that,” she swallows hard, avoiding Tom’s watching eyes, “but I’d like to meet his son, see his daughter. I like to find little trinkets in the market to send Avery. She’s practically a teenager now. God, she’s so funny, such a dry wit; really keeps you on your toes-”

So Evans is out of the picture? Tom holds the thought, saving his triumphant gloat for later. “And the man at the museum, on the steps the other night? From what I overheard, he seems to think he has a claim on you?”

Thalia rolls her eyes, tugging her fingers through her hair. “That was a one time thing, and a mistake. I think I got my message through loud and clear.”

“Thalia, if he gives you any grief, you let me know and we’ll-”

“Tom, you aren’t my protector,” she warns. “I can take care of myself. I had it under control.” She winks. “I can be very controlling and domineering when I need to be.”

He steeples his fingers and folds them over his chest, absently scratching the little hairs between his pecs. “Mistress, your domme persona could use a little work,” he teases. “And the purse full of toys?” Fuck. He knows he doesn’t really want to know the answer to that.

She laughs, looking to the abandoned bag on the couch. “All mine, things I bought myself. I kind of, well, see when I was young and impressionable, I dated an older guy. He was like a god, on a pedestal.” Tom blushes at her description, dropping his eyes, and wondering where she’s taking this. “Sexy as fuck. All the girls at school thought he would be kinky. Something about his accent? The way he always carried himself so formally. And he was, a little bit, but always so patient with me, when I’d ask questions or want to try something new. Every day I pinched myself that he chose me, when he had scores of undergrads, skinny and shiny, throwing themselves at him.” She smiles up at him. “He gave me confidence, helped mold me into the woman I am today. He taught me about high society, which fork to use and all that, but from him I also learned not to be afraid of things, to keep an open mind.” Tucking the pillow under her chin, she finishes. “I really owe him a lot.”

“It sounds like you do… This man, older, wiser, incredibly good looking?” He grabs the pillow, chuckling when she attempts to swat him with it. “He helped you discover some kinks?”

She nods, biting her lip. “There’s things I’ve tried that I like, things I didn’t, things I have yet to try.”

“Really, like what?” he asks, intrigued. He detests knowing she’s shared things with him, another man, his sworn enemy, but he is curious about her sexual awakening.

“Play with my ass, smack it, lick it; I’ll love you forever.” She throws her head back and laughs at the look on his face. “But don’t you think about trying to get in there. You’re too big, honey.” She holds her hands two feet apart and he doubles over in laughter, blushing. She bites her lip, reading his expression. “Things I’d like to try? A spreader bar, between my feet, maybe ropes? Pushed over the edge of a desk. Never tried that bit of extra. I have a desk kink, no idea why?” She laughs.

The image clouding his brain may never be washed away, Thalia over his desk, in his home office, legs spread wide. His cock twitches, and the words fly out before he thinks. “With a ball gag in that pretty little mouth of yours? Hell, yes, fuckin’ right!”

No puedo hablar cosas sexuales si lo tengo en mi boca,” she whispers, crawling over him.

“Hell, you’re right, you need to be able to say all the sexy things. Only my cock in your mouth,” he agrees, pulling down on her lip with his thumb as she grinds against him. “Hey!” He shouts when she climbs off him, getting down from the bed. “Where are you going?”

“I’m starving. Need sustenance if we’re using up the other condoms!”

Stunned that he’s come this far after he’d nearly despaired, Tom watches his woman pad across the room in all her naked glory. He pinches himself, smothering a small yelp when it stings. So he’s not dreaming. She’s really invaded his hotel room, clouded his senses, reclaimed him in all the best ways. But Tom has learned his lesson; he won’t be too eager, won’t take things for granted. There’s still so much to be said and done.

Content to look his fill as she’s puttering about to get them a midnight snack ready, he wonders what other matters need to be cleared before Thalia will truly let him in again.

Click here to read Chapter 24, Second Chances

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

Beg For It

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Beg For It

Being Thalia

Chapter 22

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 4065

Summary: Tom’s past greets him at the door.

*****THIS CHAPTER IS NSFW****

Previous Chapter, Digging into the Past

Two nights later, Tom sulks in his room, attempting to focus on a book he found at the market that afternoon. Hearing the unexpected knock on the door to his room, Tom pulls back the book cover, closing it between the pages and laying it down on the table. The thunder rumbles the sky again as the rain beats against the windows. He murmurs his imminent arrival and runs his fingers through his hair, biting his tongue when he stubs his toe on the edge of the bed. Awkwardly perched in the middle of the room, it’s nearly unavoidable.

           When the knock echoes again, he calls out louder, “On my way!” Scratching his eyebrow in frustration, he looks around the unkempt room. He shrugs, barely opening the door, unprepared to let anyone see his untidiness. He sucks in his breath at her figure, her back to the door, admiring the architectural trimmings in the hall.

She turns when the door opens wider and smiles. “Surprise.”

“Thalia. I wasn’t expecting you-“

“That’s what makes it a surprise, Thomas.” She laughs as she steps forward.

“I just meant… Well you seem…” He stutters, floundering for his words. A thought is just out of reach, something he’s missing…

“The great Tom Hiddleston, at a loss for words?” Thalia teases as she brushes past him, pushing her way into the room, dropping an oversized bag at his feet.

“Well, truth be told, right now, you look like the ghost of an old dream I once had, a wonderful memory.” The coat is shorter, fire engine red, and she’s not in her country boots, but the look of determination is the same. He knows Thalia plans to take what she wants. And he’s ready for it. Desperate for it. His cock begins to stir and he’s thankful for the long shirt-tail hiding the evidence. “A vision of days gone by, of my sweet warrior princess.”

She turns on her heel to face him, like a goddess outlined among the books filing the walls of the room. Thalia ignores his comment. “I’m not surprised you chose this room. It’s almost pedantic. Always the intellect…” She tugs on the belt holding her raincoat tied closed. “I’m not a princess now, Thomas. I’ve worked my way up, earned my title. I’m a professor.”

Thomas. He remembers few occasions when she would call him by his full name, and again his cock twitches.

His eyebrow arches and he understands the stakes as she opens her coat, revealing a vintage polka dot dress. It clings to every curve, dipping low between her ample cleavage and barely covering the tops of her thighs, the lace trim of her hosiery showing, possibly the clip of a garter belt. Sweet and sin, all rolled into one. She lets the coat fall to the floor. He closes his gaping mouth quickly, hoping he doesn’t look like a stunned fish as she spins away, walking towards the shelves. “Stay there.” She commands without looking at him. “I ordered dinner. It’ll be here any moment.”

Watching her wide hips sway hypnotically, his Adam’s apple bobs as he gulps. He’s never wanted to lick the bottom of a woman’s shoes before, but something tells him if she asked tonight, he’d say yes. He’d gladly lick the bottom of those red-soled heels…

The woman before him is no longer the girl he once loved. She’s more exotic, worldly, powerful. She sometimes played at being a domme, but now he wonders where her travels may have taken her, what knowledge she has collected along the way… This woman, he needs to know. He feels it in his lungs, needing her like the air he breathes.

Dismissed, he stands quietly fidgeting with his hands, perching his glasses up higher on his nose to watch as she graces her hands thoughtfully over the spines of the tomes. Many of them are in languages he can’t even pretend to understand. He’d love to discuss them with her, for her to pull a novel, maybe by Cervantes or García Lorca, from the shelf and listen to her Spanish tongue wash the words over him.

When there’s a knock, she doesn’t react, pulling down a book and reading the back. He grins to himself and shuffles to the door. The delivery man in a yellow rain poncho stands with a large silver foiled packet and a tall, thin paper sack in his hands. Tom swings the door open widely and motions for him to put them on the coffee table, in front of the couch.

“The wallet’s in my purse,” she purrs.

Leaving the delivery to be set up, Tom walks back to her bag, picking it up and cringing at the wet puddle underneath. Pulling the handles apart, he looks down inside, thankful he hadn’t blindly reached in and attempted to pull out the wallet. He might have grabbed a vibrator instead. Or a bottle of lube, or one of many other untoward items resting on top of her wallet. He clears his throat, taking out the clutch. The man murmurs the total quietly. Walking to the couch, Tom counts out the Euros, dropping her bag on the modern furniture piece. The delivery man accepts the payment and handsome tip, smiling to Thalia and winking at Tom before exiting quickly.

“Dinner for two?” Tom presents, waving his arm out and drawing her attention to his delivery.

Over her shoulder, disinterested in the food, her shoulder drops and a wicked smile graces her painted red lips. “No clothes. I want you to have dinner with me naked.”

His eyes widen at her request. “But that’s just ridicu-.” Shit. He’d commanded it of her before, on their first true date when he’d pampered her in the hotel, all those years before. She’s not just teasing him, she’s letting him know she hasn’t forgotten a moment of their life together either. Their souls are tied as one. Blushing, he laughs out, soft puffs of air. “Eh, eh, eh.” He shakes his head. “Got me there, love.”

She turns and presses her back against one of the shelf supports, crossing one leg over the other and digging the toe of her heel into the floor. He watches her take a deep breath as she spreads her hands out to her sides, gripping the edges of the shelves. As he slowly unbuttons his wrinkled white shirt, he can’t help his nerves. He’s tried his best to keep in shape, but he’s older now, in his forties. He can’t stop the insecurities flitting through his mind, and his eyes are nearly blinded by shame, as tears well behind them. What if she’d felt that way before? That she wasn’t beautiful enough? She’d been brave, so brave not to hide, to share her voluptuous body with him, with so little coaxing…

A hitch in her breath clears his head and he notices the small, nearly imperceptible wiggle of her legs, crossing over one another. Bloody hell, she’s starting without him. He’d love to call her on it, but tonight she holds the reins. She’s the Professor and he’s simply Thomas. Whoever she needs him to be…

He pulls the shirt off, biting his tongue in frustration when his hand seems to get stuck in the sleeve. It was worth it to watch her crack a smile before her visage hardened again. He quickly unbuttons his pants, pushing them down to his ankles, lifting one foot out and stepping on the fallen leg, pushing the gathered fabric down, to free the other one. In his gray, faded boxer briefs, he’d have been better prepared if he’d known he was going to be the object of a seduction.

Leaning forward from the bookshelf, she nods her approval. Her breasts push forward while she arches her back, resting her ass back in place. Thalia raises her head up. “I can’t reach that book; the one I want. Can you get it for me?”

Holding back, eager to pounce across the room, her voice causes him to ache.

“Which one?”

“The blue leather, with the gold lettering, Romancero Gitano by Federico García Lorca.” He nods. “I’ve actually been looking for older copies, for a study of the Gypsy people, a project for the museum.”

He tilts his head, contemplating dropping to his knees to crawl across the floor to her. Frankly, the idea of the hardwood floors scraping across his old joints stops him. He pulls himself up tall, sucking in his gut a little as he strides towards her. Eyes locked on her face, he doesn’t miss as she visually eats him up, from head to toe, eyes lingering a moment too long on the tattered fabric which barely keeps him covered.

The book in question is directly above her head, and the only way for him to reach it is to stand right in front of her. Even at his tall stature, he can’t reach the edition without lifting onto his tiptoes, brushing his bare chest against her full body. Grasping the tome in his fingers, he slowly pulls it down, pushing his body against hers, whispering, “Oops.”

She runs her tongue over her teeth and smirks.

Stepping back, he can see her quickened breaths, her nipples peaking under the fabric of her sinfully tight dress.

Not knowing, or caring, if she has rules, he speaks out of turn. “You smell wonderful. The smell of orchids always remind me of you.” Retreating another step, he curtsies low and presents the book up to her.

“Thank you, Thomas,” she murmurs quietly, taking the volume from his outstretched hand.

“Will you read to me while we eat?” he inquires submissively.

Thalia dips her head, moving around him to the couch. She perches on the edge of the seat, slowly crossing her legs, allowing Tom a view of her uncovered pussy, already wet and wanting. Thumbing through the book, she ignores the food, chooses a passage and begins reading. Taking his cue, as her manservant for the evening, he walks towards the table, grabbing a pillow from the bed. He tosses it down to the floor before kneeling by the coffee table. He hides his chuckle when he realizes his hard cock rests perfectly on the polished surface, tented under the straining fabric. With a shake of his head, he begins pulling out various containers of foods, labeled in script he can barely read. Identifying the desserts, he leaves those for later, but begins to peel back the covers as Thalia’s lyrical, throaty vocal inflections fill the room. He chuckles at the seemingly American food, the concept reminding him of loaded potatoes. Thalia looks up from her reading, eyeing his personal accessory added to the table and rolling her eyes, a crooked smile gracing her lips.

“Best take out in town, from a little bar called Gandario. They’re tablas; yes, I know they look like potato skins, but there’s thick toasted bread on the bottom.” She points to the tin of what appears to be french fries, loaded with meats and small containers of dip. “Here in Madrid, they’re called patatas, not fries. One is chicken, el pollo, and the other is pork loin, el solomillo. I didn’t know what sauces you might like, so between the two plates, there’s nearly 12 different ones you can try.”

“If it tastes half as wonderful as it smells, I’m sure I’m in for a treat.”

She blushes when his eyes land on the apex of her crossed legs as he speaks and she scoots around on the couch, leaning forward to grab a potato piece with a chunk of chicken before dipping it into a green sauce. “If we were eating in the restaurant, their plates are designed to hold the sauces. If you ordered four, that would determine the size of your plate. If you ordered six, it would have six little dipping wells for the sauces.” He watches as she chews slowly, before licking the cream from her fingers and leaning forward for another piece. “Eat,” she tells him, grabbing a piece of the pork loin. “You’ll need your energy.”

Straightfaced, she resumes her reading as the pair eat with their fingers, delighting in the sinfully good foods. Spellbound, he listens to her words, the poetry telling of the sadness felt by the gypsies of the Andalusian culture, living on the margins of society, oppressed by the government of the early nineteen hundreds. As she reads, and they eat, he stops and asks her questions, words he’s unfamiliar with, and they discuss the metaphors found in the ballads. He’s surprised to recognize phrases in songs of the region that he’s heard on his travels and holidays in Spain over the years. Tom’s eyes well with tears as she reads ‘Muerto de Amor,’ the story of a young gypsy who dies of sadness from a broken heart.

Reaching over the table, he places his hand on hers, rested on the book, holding the page open as she reads. Choking back his tears, he whispers, “Thalia. I always thought that was something people said, ‘to die of a broken heart.’ I didn’t know it was true, it was real, till I walked out on you. I died three years ago; I beg you to let me live again.”
Her dark eyes fill with tears, and she tosses her head back, looking up to the ceiling. She chuckles softly, sniffling back her emotions. “Beg,” she repeats softly. “Dying was a choice. Yours. You left.” Her chest heaves, holding back the pain in her voice, little stabs to his own heart. “But you broke me… shattered my heart. Killed me… Dying would have been easier…” She swallows, tilting her head back and shaking out her hair, regaining her confidence. Looking him boldly in the eye, she repeats, “Beg.”

Wiping his hands on a napkin, he turns away from the table, dropping to his hands and crawling around the table. Pushing it out of the way, he buries his head in her lap, tears beginning to wrack his body as he cradles himself in the little warmth she provides. Despite her hesitation, he lets the tears flow, all the pent up sadness and anger he’s felt over the years. Even if she can only give him this, he feels his spirit healing again.

Not knowing when, he realizes her body has curved over his, her hands running through his hair as she whispers in Spanish, comforting him and telling him everything will be okay. He can feel her own body heave with emotion and he moves his head back and forth, trying to pull away, to stop her pain. Wanting to comfort her. She holds tight, not letting him go from her grasp, and he becomes aware he’s nudged up the hem of her skirt. He continues to move his head side to side, his beard scratching the tops of her thighs, covered in nylons and lace. The sensation seems to slowly dawn on her and she shifts, spreading her legs, pulling his hair, pushing him between her thighs. “Don’t stop,” she moans.

Strengthened, he lavishes small kisses over her olive skin. Running his hands up her sides, he grips her hips tightly in his grasp, pulling her to the edge of the couch. From the corner of his eye, he can see her raise one heeled foot, resting it on the edge of the table. “Let me make you forget all the pain, and bring back all the good we had together, Thalia.” He nibbles at her leg, snapping the top of her thigh highs between his teeth. “We were always so damn good together. Let me show you.” She squirms from his caresses, unaccustomed to his beard between her legs. Truth be told, a beard he grew purely out of lack of care for personal hygiene because he was so devastated by the loss of her. A loss they suffered because of his own doing. “Thalia, I beg you to forgive me for leaving.”

He bites higher on her thigh, first the right and then the left.

“I beg you to forgive me for anything I ever said in anger.”

He washes his tongue over her dimpled flesh, feeling the tight, defined muscles under her full figure.

“I beg you to forget all the hurt I’ve caused.”

He bites again, higher, leaving little marks, his claim on each thigh. His eyes land on the prize, her lips pink and swollen, already throbbing and demanding his attention. Her sweet scent lures him closer, his mouth watering for a taste. Brushing roughly against her skin, he marks her with his beard, little abrasions already forming on her skin. He feels her, tense in his hands, holding back, reining in her emotions, her responses.

“I beg you to let me love you again. I won’t hurt you this time, Thalia. I promise.”

A quiet sob from her throat echoes from the book shelves in the room.

“I’m so hungry, Thalia. Thirsty. Your nectar is what I need to soothe my soul. I’m parched, dry without it… Still a dying man. Save me, I beg of you. Let me have it, darling” he whispers, his breath hot across her mound, his tongue aching to touch between her folds.

Her body unwinds, relaxing finally in his hands and her legs fall open wider. “It’s yours,” she moans quietly.

Swiftly, Tom raises her feet, lifting them to his shoulders, the heels of her pointed shoes digging into his sinewy tendons. A delightful, twisted pain as he lifts her ass from the couch, latching his mouth over her dripping pussy. Sucking intently, he tugs her lips, pulling with his mouth before loosening his hold to slide his tongue through the length of her slit.

“Oh my, fuck,” she breathes out, gripping the edge of the couch.

Tom’s cock is hard against his thigh, twitching with desire. Ignoring his physical needs, he gives to her, washing his tongue over her lips, diving between them into the depth. Losing himself as he drowns in her, lapping her up, literally devouring her. So much wet, welcoming him home. Yes, he’s home, this is where he should be. With Thalia. Between her legs. Forever.

He snickers at the thought, his breath tickling her and she wiggles from his grasp, falling back to the couch, her feet dropping to the floor as she kicks off her heels. “What’s so funny, Thomas?” She asks, roughly pulling his hair, lifting his head.

“Just the laughter of a foolish, old man, realizing he had everything.” His tongue darts out and flicks across her swollen clit. He bites his lip at her response, her eyes wide. “I don’t intend to waste it this time, darling. I beg you to take me back.”

“Mm, hmm,” she hums, eyes rolling back, as he swirls the tip of his finger around the rim of her tight cunt.

He watches as her body contracts, a small gush of wet rolling out between her lips. Wiping it up with his finger, he pushes his long digit inside, curling it to hit her spot. Remembering every inch of her body… Her hands tighten in his hair, pushing his face back to her soaking pussy. Closing his mouth over the tender pearl, he slides his finger in and out, adding another while his beard adds to her pleasure. “Damn, you’re good,” she whines. “Love the beard.” She giggles, gripping his hair tighter. “Not sure about the hair.”

He shakes his head, brushing the curls from side to side, tickling her thighs. Pulling a plump lip between his, he sucks the tasty flesh. “More to grab,” he reminds her.

Lifting her foot to his lap, she presses against his cock, the shiny nylons teasing his sensitive skin. “Other things I prefer to grab,” she taunts, pressing her heel into the head of his rock-hard cock.

Flicking his tongue across her slit again, he pushes it into the tight space his fingers occupy and she sighs deeply. Releasing his mouth from her sweetness, he promises, “There’s time for that later, Mistress.”

The title comes to him as naturally as all the other delicious filth he usually whispered to her. Today, she IS his mistress. And she’s more than that. She holds his life, his joy, in her hands and he doesn’t even consider hesitating.

“Good boy, Thomas,” she praises, dragging her toe up his chest, and pushing him backwards with her foot. “I’m not hearing enough begging though…”

Scissorings his fingers, he watches the pulsing of her pink walls gripping his fingers, glistening with their shine. “Mistress, I beg you to let me push you over the edge. I need to feel you, dripping over my fingers, flooding my mouth. Remind me what a real woman wants; can take…”

Curling his long fingers, he forcefully pushes her walls, proud when her head falls to the side, in a trance. “That’s my girl,” he whispers. “Just relax.”

It registers dimly that he’s called her both ‘mistress’ and ‘my girl’ and she hasn’t protested. And that’s exactly it, that’s the magic of this new Thalia and what she causes in him. They can be so good together, like this. Top and bottom and everything in between, dom and sub and all imaginable bliss contained in one odd but beautiful arrangement.

Tenderly, he squeezes her foot with his other hand, lifting it for a quick kiss to the tops of her toes before gently placing it on the floor. Rising up on his knees, he crawls closer, using the hand to spread her legs wider. Her dress is bunched up around her waist, showing wet spots, evidence of their lovemaking. He’ll worry about the couch cushion later. Inhaling deeply, her scent fortifies him, makes him stronger. Diving forward, his ripe, pink lips wrap around her tight bundle of nerves. His hands work to loosen her, one kneading her thigh while the other caresses the smoothest spot, deep inside. She’s growing wetter and he takes it all as she drenches him, her hands pulling him closer, smothering him as his nose grinds against her mound.

Gracias, salveme Díos,” she moans, rising off the couch and thrashing against him.

He takes it all, licking it up, sucking her clean, his mouth never leaving her pussy till she finally pushes him away. She has the control after all, for the evening.

Rocking back on his heels and slowing pulling his fingers out, he lovingly pats her punished mound. Closing her legs, she effectively pushes his hands away from her sensitive center.

“What now, my sweet warrior Professor?” He laughs, wiping her essence from his beard, licking the side of his lip.

Leaning forward, she tugs the whiskers on his chin, pulling him to her and firmly planting her lips on his in a hard, rewarding kiss. “Don’t ever call me that again,” she giggles, pulling back lightly. “I can be your professor, or a warrior princess, but not both at the same time.”

With a small “eheheh,” he pulls her off the couch, into his arms, tangling his tongue with hers again, covering her sweet face with kisses. He likes that she’s not squeamish about tasting her own juices, and doesn’t complain about his tiny licks, spreading her mess all over. “God, I’ve missed this, more than I knew.”

She nods, understanding unspoken words. “Missed you too, darling,” she murmurs, grinding her ass against his crotch.

Thrusting up, he bounces her in his lap. “You’re overdressed.”

She holds his face in her hands. “You’re not in charge,” she warns with a sly smile.

Bowing his head, he replies, “Yes, Mistress. I beg for you to use me at your will. Any clocks you need hung up? Cabinet doors to fix?”

“You know damn well the landlord had to come fix the doors later that week,” she says, tugging her fingers through his curly hair. “Not as good at screwing things as you thought, I guess,” she teases as she pulls away from him, running to the unmade bed.

“Oh, so that’s how it is?” He laughs, chasing after her.

“Your hammer work was good…” She laughs, crawling up on the bed, wiggling her ass. “Always a good pounding. Why don’t you come over and remind me how good you are at it?”

Click here to read Chapter 23, Whatever You Need

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

Digging into the Past

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Digging into the Past

Being Thalia

Chapter 21

By devikavernando & avenger-nerd-mom

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Gif created from images found on Pinterest

Word Count: 2252

Summary: After a long day together at the museum, Tom and Thalia each spend time digging up old memories.

Previous Chapter, Museum Musings

September 2021

Unable to convince her to join him for dinner, Tom left Thalia at her office, under the guise that she had daily reports to finish. The late summer air is warm and inviting, so Tom decides to meander the city, lost in his thoughts. Taking off his jacket, he casually drapes it over his arm, clutching it to his side. He takes a deep breath, letting his muscles relax from the long day. Being so near her, but not being able to have her had put a harsh strain on his body, and he’s almost relieved she turned down his offer.

He watches a young family cross the street in front of him, and he feels a pang of… something. He can’t put a name to the feeling. Loss? Guilt? Hope?

Could that be him one day? A father, pushing a stroller while a little one toddles ahead, the mother rushing to keep up. Thalia. Would she even want that? He brushes his hand roughly across his forehead. She’s older now, her early thirties. Does she want to have children? It was something they never discussed, actually.

“You fucker, Hiddleston,” he murmurs aloud, crossing to the other side of the street, watching for traffic. She’d said it the other day, at the park, that she’d only been his sexual partner. On the phone, she’d said she felt he’d taken advantage of her. That was her truth, her view. He’d been such a hard, British arse, keeping his emotions in check, she’d never known he truly loved her, would have given anything for her.

No wonder she sought out Evans, and his affections. Bloody hell, the American had been right all along. Evans allowed her to be a partner, whereas he’d always had an air of instructor about him, guiding her and leading her to new experiences. But she enjoyed it, he has no doubt about that. She’s changed though, and so has he. Their needs are different–but they would still counterbalance each other, he believes.

He remembers seeing Thalia and his former colleague together in Toronto. It had been the last stab to his already broken heart. Evans had stayed in the shadows, only moving forward after her presentation. His hands balling into fists, Tom lets his mind travel back to the day when he realized he’d truly lost his beautiful orchid.

**

After her presentation, he’d finally collected his courage and given himself the push to go and congratulate Thalia, share his unabashed admiration, when the other man appeared seemingly out of nowhere. As if they had both waited for this moment, Thalia stepped to greet him and went willingly into his arms. They hugged for what seemed like eternity, and it made Tom recall the way she would always snuggle into his hold and feel as if she belonged there for all eternity. Well, no more.

Tom remembers actually having made a sound of anguish at the pain that sliced through him, as if someone had taken a blunt knife to his intestines, hacking and sawing away until he could almost feel himself bleed. Rubbing his chest, he’d made himself stare until the two of them were seated next to each other, heads bent close together with a devastating sense of familiarity. This could have been him–should have been him, dammit. But he’d fucked it up. It hurt like hell that she’d moved on, and the worst part was that he knew he’d driven her to this.

Vowing he would let her go, Tom had left before the evening was over, finding his way to the nearest bar to drown his sorrows. It had been ages since he’d last sought out alcohol to make his inner wounds more bearable–in fact, after he’d pushed Thalia away. This one time, he’d allow himself to wallow in guilt and regret. It was just too much to handle, as if a vital organ had stopped functioning at the sight.

A few hours later, after nursing his third whiskey, Tom had tried miserably to pull himself together. Paying and leaving a high tip because he’d been such a foul-tempered guest, he wound his way to the exit on not-so-steady feet. He wasn’t piss drunk but the liquor had indeed dulled some of his hurt. He was still wearing the nice dark blue suit he’d chosen for the occasion, as if she would even care what he looked like. Hah, what a fool he’d been, even wondering what she’d have to say about his beard. During his hours at the bar, he’d removed the suffocating tie and opened a few of the buttons on his white shirt, feeling as if he couldn’t breathe properly.

Running a shaky hand through his now longer, wavy hair, Tom took a few deep breaths of the cool night air and turned into the alley that would–hopefully–take him back to the hotel he’d booked in Toronto. Staring at his feet, the shiny shoes incongruous with how damaged he felt, he walked on.

His head snapped up at the sound of laughter, the one he sometimes still heard in his dreams. What he saw stopped him cold as if he’d slammed against an invisible brick wall. There she was, his Thalia–so very much not his anymore. With him, of course. Professor Evans had his arm slung around her shoulders and they were walking side by side, dressed like a couple out for a drink. Thalia was wrapped in a party dress, even wore heels, making her legs look spectacular. She laughed again at something her companion said, then shook out her riotous curls that Tom had loved to feel between his fingers and on his skin.

It felt like a betrayal somehow, although he knew even in his haze that he had no bloody right to such bitterness, no more claim to stake on her. He swallowed thickly, rooted to the spot. The air grew too dense to breathe when the American leaned even closer and kissed Thalia, backing her against the wall, unaware of passersby and watching eyes. Not waiting to see whether she would kiss him back, and half-afraid they would spot him, Tom turned on his heel and mechanically strode the other way. He could feel tears pricking his eyes, and the metallic tang of blood in his mouth as he’d bitten down too hard on his tongue. The numbing effect of the alcohol had been chased away by a cocktail of crippling emotions.

Fuck. She truly was lost to him. And he had nobody to blame but himself.

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**

Shaking off his melancholy thoughts, he vows to do better. On the sidewalk ahead, he spies the perfect little shop, and enters. As the bell rings overhead, a cheerful voice calls out to him in Spanish. He smiles, and points to the display he wishes to order. He’s well aware that a simple gift won’t make it all better. But he also knows that small gestures can amount to something grander, can in this case be a sign that he’s not giving up on Thalia.

Crossing the room with a few strides of his long legs, he meets the shop clerk at the counter. He asks for paper to include a note with the delivery, and he quickly scribbles his ‘thanks’ to Thalia for a lovely day at the museum, and for teaching him so many things. Tom includes mention that he’d like to see her again before he leaves town at the end of the week. He arranges with the shop clerk for the present to be delivered to her office the next morning.

“Lucky girl,” the older woman murmurs in Spanish, smiling at him as he steadies up the bill.

Is she, though? Or is he the lucky bastard because Thalia hasn’t smacked him upside his idiotic head and told him to leave her the hell alone?

***

Returning to her office, Thalia stiffens when she sees the slim, wrapped gift on her desk.

Taking her glasses off and dropping them on top of her planner, she falls into her chair, praying, “Dear Lord, don’t let it be jewelry.” She kicks off her shoes and reaches with pointed toe for the foam roller she keeps under her desk. Rolling her feet over the top, the strain from the heeled shoes begins to ease. Just like him to think everything can be fixed with a fancy dinner or a gift. Not that tapas are fancy…

“Quit being a bitch, Chica,” she says to no one but herself. “You caused the problem by not communicating well, just as much as he did.”

Her printer whirs to life on the side table, indicating the requisition forms she needs to sign from the morning budget meeting are ready. Work should be her focus, but instead she can only laugh, thinking of the silly stories Tom created from the hieroglyphs they’d read together yesterday.

He makes me laugh… I haven’t laughed with a man since Chris.

I deserve laughter.

Picking up the gift, she reads the store label. Shocked he’d discovered one of her favorite stores, she quickly tears off the paper and lifts the lid from the gift box. Thalia gasps, pulling out a beautiful silk scarf, the colors warm and vibrant.

The way he makes me feel- bright and full of life.

A folded piece of paper falls into her lap, and she lifts it up to read it. A blur, she leans forward to retrieve her glasses. She quickly skims the note, faltering when it says he’ll be leaving soon. She sighs. “Probably better that way. At least we can say we’re friends again,” Thalia mutters to herself.

Standing from her chair, she stretches, looping the scarf around her neck. In the mirror above the credenza, she sees the colors pop against the stark black business shirt she’d chosen that morning. She fiddles with the fabric, placing it just so, adding a haughty flair to her style. Picking up the forms, she returns to her desk and settles in to work.

An hour later, her phone buzzes, causing her to jump. Shit, I forgot to text and thank him.

Sliding her fingertip across the screen, unlocking the keypad, Thalia opens her messages. “Is that all I am now to you? Someone you text when you’re drunk?”

The text is punctuated with a smiley face.

“Shit,” she hisses. “Who did I text?”

She squints at the screen. Chris. “Thank God,” she chuckles, opening the actual message thread, enlarging the fonts.

“Sorry I didn’t answer last night. Avery had soccer, two games on Tuesdays. Ridiculous. BTW,  the team sucks since their best coach moved to Madrid. We miss you.”

“Aw,” she whispers, continuing to read. “Miss you guys too.”

“Honey, I can’t tell you what to do. Be happy. And I’ll deny I ever said this, but he makes you happy. I would know you’re safe and loved-”

“Jesus, what did I say to him?” Thalia scrolls up, but the messages are gone, only some old ones that had been locked for safe keeping. Drunk Thalia deleted the messages. “Just great.”

“-and I wouldn’t worry so much about you. Not that you need my permission or acceptance. For a British asshole, I guess he’s not a bad guy.

Running her fingers over her lips, she nods. Man, that had to be hard for him to say.

She types out a quick reply, thanking him- “You didn’t have to say that but it’s appreciated”– and telling him to give her love to Avery, and that she’d be in touch soon. She doesn’t let him know she didn’t remember texting him last night. After finishing at the office, she’d stopped to see Lucía at work and had a few too many drinks at the bar before Henrí walked them both to their respective apartments. She hoped she didn’t drunk text Tom too.

Lifting her head to a knock on the door, the office assistant reminds her it’s almost time for her two o’clock tour with the group from the US. She waves, saying she’ll be ready in a few minutes.

Her fingers open a memo to Tom, tapping out a thank you. “The scarf is lovely; I’ll get one of the staff to take a photo so I can send it to you. I’d like to see you again before you return to London, but not yet. I need time to think. Apparently three years wasn’t long enough.” She inserts a smiley face emoji, even though she hates them, and is nearly a hundred percent sure he does too. She wanted to soften the words so they wouldn’t read as harsh as they seem. She gulps. “Not that I didn’t think nearly every day what I’d do if you showed back up in my life. I just never expected it to happen. A week ago, if someone had asked me what I wanted, I solidly knew the answer. Now I’m not sure. I’ve grown and changed from the young girl I used to be. I’m not accustomed to feeling unsure. Please continue to give me space. You’ve been very kind and patient, and I respect that.” The secretary knocks again. “I have to give a tour to an American group, but I’ll talk to you again soon. Enjoy the sights in the city!”

Leaving the phone on her desk, not waiting for a reply, she slides into a pair of more sensible shoes, ready to go meet the high school students from Philadelphia.

Click here to read Chapter 22, Beg For It

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

Museum Musings

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Museum Musings

Being Thalia

Chapter 20

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 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: 3046

Summary: Thalia enjoys showing off for Tom at the museum, sharing her work with him.

Images found on Pinterest

Previous Chapter, Opportunity Calls

Thalia is standing on the grey stone steps in front of the National Archaeological Museum, a grand neoclassical building that seems just perfect for containing such immeasurable wealth. As museum curator, she can practically offer a tour of the place blindly. But today is different. Today she’ll keep her eyes wide open and her wits about herself because experiencing this with Tom will be a completely new experience.

Smoothing her hair back, she checks no loose strands have fallen from the elegant twist she’s finally mastered for her wild mane. Thalia glances at her watch. It’s ten to one. Surely Tom hasn’t changed so much that he’s stopped being overly punctual? Then again, what does she really know about the present version of Tom, as opposed to the one that dragged her under and turned her inside out six years ago? People can change within the span of days, for fuck’s sake. Looking down at her colorfully designed dress, she knows she’s definitely moved on from the person she was. Essentially, though, she’s still herself.

And Tom? Despite her misgivings, there’s a yearning inside her to get to know the man he is now. There’s something in his eyes, in his voice, that takes her right back to where they started, and yet new impressions wiggle their way into their interactions. She’s noticed a new gentleness, almost a cautious hesitancy about him. It makes her itch to take the upper hand for once but another part of her wants to submit, relive what used to be. Fuck if he hasn’t got her tied in knots just like in the past! Thalia grimaces, shifting from one foot to the other. She’s wearing her favorite camel colored shoes, their heels neither too high nor too low, but just right to elongate her legs.

That’s another thing that should annoy her… She spent entirely too much time worrying about her outfit for the day. Normally she wouldn’t give a rat’s ass what she wore to a morning stockholders meeting, but knowing she’d be seeing him after, she’d put a little extra care into her clothing choice. Something fashionable she’d picked up at the market with Lucía, a little revealing, but not too much, just enough so it hints at her voluptuous figure. Thalia wants Tom to look his fill but not to ignore her words because of her body.

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The sound of shoe soles on scuffed stone makes her turn towards the left. There he is, in a navy sweater, a sport coat, giving off a collegiate air, and black jeans, his scuffed grey suede shoes making his go-to outfit complete.

Of course he’s on time. She feels herself smile at him, surprised to realize that she’s genuinely looking forward to touring the museum with him because she knows they share similar interests.

Bienvenido al Museo Arqueológico Nacional,” she greets warmly. She can feel his eyes sweep over her figure, and he turns his head to hide his approving smile before removing his sunglasses and storing them inside a coat pocket.

Tom’s in front of her now, and for a moment she has no idea how to greet him. “Tan colorido, so colorful. Eres bonita, Thalia.” He moves in for a hug, quick and chaste, but she hears him inhale deeply when she returns the gentle pressure.

“Ready to show off?” he asks, his eyes crinkling with his grin.

“Absolutely.” She steps back from his grasp, waiting for a tour group to pass. “I’m assuming you’ve done your homework and informed yourself a little about what to expect?” She uses her best stern teaching voice and sees Tom’s grin widen.

“Sí, Profesora Bareo,” he intones in his best Spanish accent, making something flutter inside her against her will.

“Well, let me hear it then,” she says as they begin walking up the steps to the entrance with its majestic columns and its proud letters spelling out Museo Arqueológico Nacional, which tends to be shortened to M.A.N. by insiders. He chuckles, recognizing her reference to his typical start to a class session, when he questioned the group to know if they had done their assigned readings.

They’re walking so close their arms almost touch. It’s simultaneously exhilarating– because nobody would care if they did touch– and unnerving. So Thalia stomps down on her wayward emotions and focuses on his cultured voice reciting words from heart that he must’ve found online.

“Well, the M.A.N. was founded by the royals in the mid-19th century and covers pretty much everything from prehistoric times to the Renaissance. What’s interesting is that it contains so many exhibits with a religious significance because lots of the items were removed from monasteries and churches.” He pauses as he goes through the motions of buying a ticket while Thalia flashes a badge and exchanges friendly nods. “If I remember correctly, some of the museum’s highlights are the Lady of Elx bust and the prehistoric cave paintings of Altamira, the ones we discussed in London.”

Thalia gives him a nod, unable to keep the teasing tone out of her reply. “I see your brain hasn’t slackened with age. I was a bit worried that the M.A.N. might overwhelm you.”

He puffs out his chest and feigns indignation, a hand rising to his chest as if wounded. It makes the sweater stretch all too fetchingly across his well-defined pecs and abs. Jesus, she can even see his nipples outlined beneath the well-worn fabric.

“I am mortally offended by how little faith you have in me.” There’s a sad undertone beneath it, as if he’s indeed aware that she might be lacking faith in him. “I’m 42, not on the edge of death, dear.”

She chuckles. “This way,” she steers him into the first hall of exhibitions, choosing to let the topic rest.

Tom shoves his hands into his pockets in a move she hasn’t seen often. So he won’t touch her? Or so he won’t touch the exhibits because he is by all means a very tactile person?

Focus, she should focus. “This…” she gesticulates, “is actually what we call the New Museum. Between 2003 and 2013, the whole place was remodeled and renovated. Not only did they refurbish the building itself but they also changed the permanent exhibition and made parts of the M.A.N. more interactive. We’ve now got bigger common areas, better security and modern technical solutions that make the exhibitions easier to understand for visitors from all over the world.”

Tom nods, sticking to her side as they meander along between glass cases and pictures on the wall. She notices him pay attention to every detail, even lifting his head to study the hall, the ceiling, the lighting. It’s so like him to drink in the whole experience, to all but wallow in the details that make it complete.

There isn’t much for her to add to the information displayed so they walk in silence, finding their leisurely way to the second hall.

“Any idea how many people visit the museum annually?” Tom asks, nearly folding his tall body in half to bed over a case and peer at ancient scrolls. His thin lips move silently as he tries to read them.

“Around eight hundred thousand per year, by our estimates. There was a huge increase ever since the M.A.N. reopened.”

Tom gives a low whistle, righting himself. He winces slightly, rubbing his back. She clears her throat, sorry for teasing him about being older.

“So there’s six floors altogether, divided into areas with common topics, right?”

He’d done his homework well.

“Yes. There’s a lot of space to work with, for public and internal uses. The permanent exhibition alone spreads over more than 9000 m2.”

He looks duly impressed before spending a long time reading a board. Thalia uses the moment to study him. His jawline is covered in gingery scruff, looking less razor-sharp. His eyes crinkle when he squints, leaning forward to read, before reaching in his pocket to pull out a pair of glasses. His gaze darts to hers and she giggles as he blushes. She steps back to answer a quick question from another museum visitor before turning her attention back to Tom, watching him, analyzing him, just as she would an exhibit. There are fine lines on his face and she can see a tiny permanent frown etched between his brows. Thankfully, his hairline hasn’t receded more, though his hair looks different now that he isn’t cutting it short. Now it’s her turn to stuff her hands into the pockets on her dress because she’s feeling the urge to touch.

“How many exhibits do you have?” Breaking her from her revery, Tom inquires, ever the inquisitive seeker of knowledge.

“Around 15,500, give or take a few. The largest number of exhibits are for the areas Prehistoria and Oriente Próximo as well as Edad Media.”

She watches the look of concentration on his face as Tom fidgets with his glasses and figures out the translation for the words, such as Middle Ages.

They continue on their tour, Tom’s long legs and never-waning enthusiasm sometimes taking him ahead. But he keeps circling back to her side, asking questions, soaking up the tidbits of additional information that she can offer. Thalia, in turn, pays less attention to the exhibits than usual, making Tom her focal point. His face hasn’t lost its astounding ability to express so much in silence. He reads and looks, his features contorting in shared pain, widening in awe, rearranging themselves to fit the emotions and stories that the exhibits evoke.

The two of them leave the prehistoric areas behind and work their way through the Greek and Roman influence on Spain, which seems to fascinate Tom even more. Now he’s the one who adds little snippets of insight, relying on his knowledge of ancient Greek and Latin. He seems fixated on the emperor Hadrian, the one who built the famous Hadrian’s Wall in Britain.

“I went to see part of it,” Tom tells her. “The Millennium Bridge was rather fascinating, on the eastern side of the River Irthing where the remains of the bridge lie that once carried Hadrian’s Wall across the water.”

She nods. “I’ve visited parts of it too.”

“Of course you have.”

He beams at her, such approval in his velvety purr that it makes her want to press her thick thighs together. Instead, she pushes him on. Statues and busts mix with bronze legal texts, pottery and coins. Tom stares and stares at the well-preserved mosaics like that of a colorful quadriga, a carriage drawn by four horses.

Several halls later, they take a break in the cafeteria, and Thalia has to battle flashbacks of similar situations, even of their hidden conversations on campus and their meals on the outskirts of their former college town.

Tom’s body is sprawled in the smallish chair, his legs nearly tangling with hers beneath the table, his beautiful fingers wrapped around a steaming mug of coffee.

“What’s next?” he wants to know.

“The medieval exhibition.”

His face scrunches up in thought. “Ah, the Arab influence?”

It shouldn’t please her that he knows enough about Spanish history to guess correctly. Thalia nods, taking her own sip of coffee. She’s barely taken more than a few bites out of her sandwich while Tom has demolished two pastries. He seems more relaxed now, but not all of his smiles reach his eyes. Why?

They sit in silence for a while, the sounds of other visitors filling in around them. Suddenly Tom lifts his head, something steely in his grey-blue eyes.

“You’re very good at this, Thalia. Guiding and lecturing.” There’s something about his voice that sets her on alert. “I’m not surprised. I experienced once before that you’re a pro at conferences and presentations now.”

Slightly on edge now, she nods. “Despite some people trying to mansplain things to me occasionally?”

He has the decency to flinch and apologize again. Thalia waits, wondering why he would bring up this topic.

“I went to your first one, you know.”

He’s not talking about their panel in London? She blinks, thinking she’s misheard him. “You what?”

He nods grimly, a tiny muscle ticking in his jaw. “I did. Traveled all the way to your first ever speaking event in Toronto. Not because I thought you’d need moral support, mind you. I was certain you would ace it. But because I had to see for myself.”

Something lodges in her throat at the same time as her heart aches. He came to see her? But… but he never came to speak to her? Her brain is drawing a blank. Why didn’t he approach her that day? It would have made a difference for both of them, wouldn’t it?

“Turns out,” his mouth twists downwards in bitterness or pain, “you already had someone else there for moral support.”

She turns cold, her hands beginning to tremble over her mug. She hides them in her lap and lifts her chin. Thalia fights to keep her voice steady. “What do you mean?”

“I saw you there, with him.”

There’s no need to elaborate. He’s only ever used that tone for one person. Chris. And now the memories come back, of Chris being there at the venue and later taking her out on the town.

Tom’s fingers clench around the cup, his usually ruddy knuckles going white before he unclenches them deliberately and sets his hands in his lap. Sitting back, she can see him try to loosen up.

“You didn’t need me then. I should have known that but it was still a shock.”

Thalia lets that sink in, unsure what to do with that confession. “Do you…do you need me needing you?”

He scowls, then shakes his head. “I probably did, yes. But I’ve realized now that it isn’t just that. I never wanted you dependent on me, Thalia. I hope you know that. But it did wonders to my ego that you were there, ready to submit sometimes, to turn to me. And over the past few years, I’ve taught myself to live without that. But…” He rubs the back of his neck, seeks out her gaze. “But I still want you. Want you to want me.”

She can’t deal with this now, just can’t. Shoving her chair back, she stands, and ever the gentleman he hastens to get up as well.

“Let’s get going,” she mumbles. “There’s still so much to see.”

“And so much to learn,” she hears Tom mutter under his breath, realizing that he means more than the exhibits. She’s caught him looking at her intently several times today, a small proud smile on his face as he watched her in her element. And even though she isn’t actively seeking out and craving his validation, it does feel damn good. After all, she’s worked with him as a student and professional for years; she knows how hard-earned his approval can be because he’s such a damn perfectionist and knows so freaking much that he tends to expect the same from others.

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Strangely, the next few hours pass amicably, without any more tension. It’s as if Tom had been building up towards his confession and can finally live in the here and now. He becomes more cheerful by the minute, swallowing up the knowledge like vitamin pills. He touches her elbow a few times, even snatches her hand once to haul her over to an interactive exhibit. And then he keeps holding it and it feels exactly right. She doesn’t even pull her fingers out of his gentle-but-firm grasp when they meet a colleague of hers and chit-chat for a while. They only let go so they could gesticulate wildly as they were talking with the older gentleman.

They enter the last hall with the Modern Era exhibition, walking closer together now, more relaxed. This one’s very dear to her too because it encompasses the discovery of the New World and the Spanish influences on countries that today belong to South and Central America. Thalia sneaks some insights on Puerto Rico in, Tom hanging on her every word.

“Whoa,” she teeters when a group of bored-out-of-their-mind children dash by so closely that she’s shoved out of the way. Two strong arms grab her as she collides with Tom’s solid chest and fights the urge to snuggle right into his hold. Then he shifts and something pokes her thigh.

Thalia freezes, extricates herself and peeks down. Her cheeks flush.

“Are you so happy to see me?”

Tom blushes even redder, chuckling sheepishly. “I am, yeah. But it’s not just that, I’m afraid. It’s this place, all the wisdom, you giving me lectures…”

“So museums give you a boner?”

His guffaw makes a gaggle of women look over, then give him longing once overs that make Thalia feel oddly possessive.

“You could say that.” Then his voice lowers and his eyes gleam with mischief, sending a hot lick of fire across her skin. “But it sure helps that the knowledge comes wrapped in such a deliciously tempting package.”

He hasn’t flirted with her all afternoon but this single attempt is enough to make her want to combust. Dammit, and she thought she would be immune to him.

Swatting his arm, Thalia steps away to a safer distance. “Well, I hope not all your blood has traveled south yet because we have a last hall to visit.”

Sniggering, Tom follows her. “I swear it’s you and not the…well, ‘busty’ busts of erstwhile queens,” he adds with a wink as they pass by a naked marble sculpture.

This time, she elbows him in the ribs so he rubs his side with a winded ‘oof’.

“Behave, Hiddleston.”

“Yes, professor.” He chuckles when she mumbles under her breath about statue kink.

He blinks innocently at her as they round a corner and enter the last exhibition. And with a sinking feeling, Thalia admits to herself that she’s enjoying this. Even wants to do this again.

Fuck, that wasn’t the plan. But to be honest, it’s not a big surprise either. Whether that’s healthy or not, Tom has always held a part of her happiness in his big hands.

Click here for Chapter 21, Digging into the Past

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

Opportunity Calls

ch 19 full size

Opportunity Calls

Being Thalia

Chapter 19

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 1374

Summary: Tom contemplates mistakes he’s made, when a small window of opportunity is presented to him.

Previous Chapter, Open Wounds

Two nights later, Tom is pacing the floor in his hotel room. He’s already been in the city five days, and he’s not getting anywhere with Thalia. What a fool!  How could he have been so self-centered to have believed she’d have welcomed him back with opened arms? If he hadn’t known she’d loved another in his absence, he’d believe she’d been hardened by him… Adding in whatever transpired between her and… and… the American asshole… she has been broken by the men who promised to love her the most. Walking past the table, he grabs the chilled tumbler, carrying it out onto the balcony, watching the late night city, still in motion.

Leaning on the rail, he blames himself for her black heart. He could have easily gone back to the States with her, picked up his old job at the University as well. He’d essentially pushed her back into… He blanches at the name in the back of his throat… Evans. He’d pushed her back into Evans’ arms, simply because he still hadn’t been ready to make the full commitment he felt she deserved. He’d stormed out of their Paris apartment three years ago, never giving her a chance to explain her wishes, never really discussing their lives as a couple.  

He drains the glass, resting it on the metal rail. His damn hurt pride simply took her desire to move back to America as a rejection from her. And she was right with her accusation, about not being able to forget, wasn’t she? He can’t even think about the other man in her life without flinching. Because it hurts, dammit. It hurts as if he’s bleeding all over the place, even though in a corner of his mind he knows she needed the American wanker as much as him. With a sigh, Tom runs his finger along the rim of the tumbler. She’s asked for forgiveness. Can he offer her that? Is that really the one thing keeping them apart? He never-

The ringing phone interrupts his thoughts. Walking back into the room, he traces the sound to his unmade bed. Her name flashes across the screen. Caressing his hand over his spotty ginger beard, the action calms him. He takes a deep breath before answering the call.

With no pretense of formalities, Thalia jumps halfway into a conversation. “What did you mean when you said I wouldn’t like your answer, when I asked why you wouldn’t listen to me?”

In low tones, his laughter, ‘eheheh,’ rumbles through his chest. “Ah, dearest Thalia. So thoughts of me are keeping you up late at night?” He falls back onto the bed, crooking his arm behind his head and crossing his feet.

She scoffs. “Couldn’t sleep, so I started thinking. It happens a lot… It’s not got anything to do with you. Those just happened to be the thoughts in my head tonight.”

He smiles, fantasizing about what she’s wearing, what she might be doing in her bed, alone, late at night. With just the thought of him…. “Mmm… keep telling yourself that.” Chuckling at her denial, he asks, “You really want to talk? It might be painful.”

The silence on the line is deafening.

Her sultry natural tone is low and wounded. “No more pain than I’m already in,” she admits.

Tom’s heart softens. He sighs and carefully thinks over his words. If a part of her ice wall has chipped away, he has to measure his words carefully. If she shuts him out now, all hope of ever winning her back is lost. He mimics her low resonance. “I just… Well, Thalia, it’s difficult to put into words, but I’ve always felt so connected to you, like I could read you… the most beautiful book I’ve ever held in my hands.” He sits up, pulling another pillow close and tucking it behind his head. “I hear your words, telling me to go away. But.. but your body vibrates whenever I’m near, and that hasn’t changed after all this time, and your eyes… your eyes beg me to stay.”

His concession is met with more silence. After a moment, he worries the call disconnected. “Thalia?”

“I’m here.” She breathes out slowly. “You’re not wrong… but you have to respect my words, Tom.”

Tom chuckles. “I’m not a caveman, Thalia. I would never force you to do anything without your consent.” Her continued silence chills him. His tone becomes authoritative. “Thalia? Do you feel I took advantage of you in the past?”

He hears her shift. “I don’t know. Maybe? I wasn’t a child, but maybe I wasn’t mature enough for the decisions I made-”

“Thalia, you were all woman. You always have been and-”

“That’s not how I mean it. But you were the professor, someone a student should trust and depend on…” She sighs. “After teaching, seeing how young those kids are, I started to look at my past differently… I’m in therapy now, looking back on key moments in my life. You definitely rate at the top of the list… I was so attracted to you, intrigued by your intelligence. And you were the first to value that in me. It was sexy and empowering.” She pauses to cough before continuing. “All my life, I was made to feel like an outcast, because of my size, and because I was loud and liked to dig in the dirt. Moving away? Going to college? It saved me. Being around other people like me, having intellectual conversations. It was so freeing. But I was still the fat girl, the butt of the joke, the ‘one night stand’ left over from the drunken frat party.”

“Oh, darling,” he murmurs, hearing the tightness in her chest. He can only picture the silent tears starting to streak down her beautiful face.

She sniffs. “It’s true. It’s like, I’m not proud of it, but I don’t regret it either. I guess you could say those were mutually gratifying exchanges… Do you remember the night you came to my apartment, as a friend, as my mentor, my boss, to check on me after Amy died? That was the last time I ever used rational thought where you were concerned-”

“We’ve talked about that night before, Thalia. You know it took every nerve ending in my body to hold me back from ravaging you then-”

“Why do you keep using my name?” She asks in a whisper.

Tom chuckles again, and closes his eyes. “You’re like a jumpy mare. I’m afraid if I use any term of endearment, you’ll run and hide.” He pictures this conversation, her curled to his side as he caresses over her hair to calm her fears.

“Probably so,” she chuckles. “I might yell at you again… oh, I’m rambling. It’s late and I’m beginning to not understand myself. I can’t keep on the path I’m trying to express. Maybe we should continue this later.”

He nods, although she can’t see him, sitting in her own apartment, halfway across the city. “Another time then. There’s still much to discuss.” He licks his lips nervously. “Thalia, I think I made a mistake by coming here, and trying to… well, whatever it is I’m trying to do. I’m thinking I should go back to London soon. I have arrangements I need to make back home now that my life path has changed yet again.”

She sucks in her breath, before letting it out slowly. “Would you like a private tour of the museum tomorrow afternoon?”

Shocked she’s offered to spend more time with him, he happily accepts the invitation. “I thought you’d never ask! Tomorrow around eleven?”

“Make it around one. School groups will clear out by then and it will be quieter.” She yawns. “I’ll see you tomorrow then? Sleep well.”

“You as well, Miss Bareo.”

Tom wants to add a million other things, take them back to the past. She should dream of him, as he will of her, inevitably and always. But he hasn’t got the right to do that anymore, does he? And it’s mostly his own bloody fault.

Looking dejectedly at the blank phone screen, he clings to what little hope her invitation has sparked in him.

“Don’t fuck this up, Hiddleston,” he mutters to himself. “You’ve already hurt her more than enough.”

Click here to read Chapter 20, Museum Musings

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

Open Wounds

ch 18 Open Wounds

Open Wounds

Being Thalia

Chapter 18

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 4518

Summary: A chance encounter with Tom opens up old wounds and leads to new ones.

Previous Chapter, Girls’ Night

September 2021

Two days later, she’s made no effort to contact Tom, and he’s been wise enough to give her space. Smart man, Thalia thinks, looking down at her phone to adjust the volume. A quick tempo song fills her ears and the sounds of the park fade away as she matches her walking pace to the beat of the music.

She loves it here at El Retiro. It may be one of the largest parks in Madrid, but it has this strange sense of familiarity and cosy corners to it. Sure, there’s a grandeur hinting at the fact that it belonged to the Spanish royalty until the late 19th century, but nothing here wants to overwhelm or look overly neat. Thalia likes its proximity to the Prado and that there is so much art and history mixed in with nature. The Fountain of the Fallen Angel is one of her favorite spots in the park. Her nerdy side also appreciates the galleries, monuments and sculptures. And then there’s the Retiro Pond, a peaceful lake. She’s never rented one of the rowboats before, but she’s spent many a happy hour watching puppet shows, looking at handmade trinkets and listening to open-air concerts.

She gazes at the Cristal Palace with its domed roof and shiny surfaces with a fond smile. As she rounds the corner in the sidewalk, just beyond the bushes blocking the path, she spies a familiar sight. Shit. In a park as huge as 350 acres, their paths would cross. Now there’s no way to avoid him.

Rolling her eyes, Thalia pulls the earbuds out of her ears. Offering no greeting, she calls out, “How on earth can you have the same fitness clothes after all these years?”

Tom turns and brightens when he sees her face. Screwing the cap back on his water bottle, he bounces on his feet. “You know I usually buy two of an item if it’s something I like. These have no holes!” He proudly announces as he drops his hands down, displaying his clothing like a fashion show.

She nods and keeps walking. He falls into step next to her and she closes her eyes briefly to block out the image of the large bulge in his pants. How can that man run and not wear more protective gear? Jesus fuckin’ Christ.

“I didn’t expect to find you here,” Tom says, stabilizing his breathing after his run. He’s using the slower walk to stretch a bit and she tries–and fails–not to stare at the muscles straining beneath his sweat-soaked clothes. “I remember now, I saw you in the gym in London. Have you taken up exercising, Thalia?”

Reaching up and pulling her ponytail tight, she scoffs. “I’d hardly call it that, but I suppose. I try to walk a few miles every couple of days, and I lift weights at the gym some. I’m by no means a fitness buff, not like you, or Chris.” She says his name, not missing a beat, but she doesn’t fail to notice the step back Tom makes, as though beaten just by a name. She continues, “This is my shape, I’ve learned to live with it.” She avoids his inquisitive stare, feeling his eyes roaming over her curves, despite his hurt ego at the mention of another. “It’s not a great one, but I can try to keep it fit.”

“It works for you, Thalia. You wouldn’t be the same person if you looked like…” He points to a group ahead, wearing tight yoga pants and sports bras, girls who looked like they needed to eat. “Like them… There’s something appealing to a man, knowing a woman enjoys the riches of life, knowing he can have his way and she can take every toss and tumble.”

Thalia freezes in her path and it’s a few steps before Tom realizes she’s not next to him.

“What?” he asks, turning back to look at her.

As if he doesn’t know. “For fuck’s sake, man, is everything ‘sex’ with you?” She raises her hands, and slaps them back down against her plump thighs. “Was that all I was, a rowdy fuck, cause I could handle your kinky shit?” She blushes as the mother pushing a stroller with toddler twins rushes past. Tom stares at her dumbfounded. “Cause you couldn’t ‘break’ me? Cuz, listen asshole, you broke me, alright? You broke me.”

Spinning on her heels, she turns to walk away, pushing through a group of runners on the path. Just get away before the tears start, please. It’s all she can hear pounding in her head when his hand grasps around her wrist.

Twirling her back to him, his hands tangle in the sweaty hair at the base of her neck, gripping her tightly. “Thalia, darling, if I ever made you feel like an easy fuck, like it was nothing but sex to me, in all the time I have known you, then I am a poor excuse for a man.” He tugs on her neck. “Look at me, dammit. Look me in the eye. Hear my words. I love you with the power of a thousand men. I would fight for you till my dying breath. You are the goddess I worship.” His grasp loosens as his hand slides over her shoulder and down her arms, taking her hand as he drops to his knee. “I kneel before you, my princess.”

Through tears, she shakes her head, laughing at the image of him kneeling at her battered tennis shoes. Part of her wants to cling to her righteous anger, to the distance she’s created between them to protect herself. It wants to lash out at him that being theatrical and spouting declarations worthy of Shakespeare won’t heal a sometimes still bleeding wound. But she can hear and see the sincerity behind his words, and it would feel cruel to dismiss him completely.

“You old fool.” She tugs on his hand, pulling him up to her side. “Get up before someone thinks you’re proposing to me.”

“Maybe I should… Maybe I should have long ago,” he admits, kissing the top of her head.

She slaps his chest, pushing him back a step. Angrily, she wipes away a tear, dirt streaking her face. “Your damn words. You can’t come back here and think you can sweep me off my feet, Tom. I’m not the same person.”

He laughs, a rich sound echoing among the trees, falling forward slightly and placing his hands on his hips. “Oh, I can see that, Thalia. You’ve become a cold-hearted bitch, ruined by love rather than lifted up by it, and it’s time to thaw you out a bit.”

“You can’t say that! You don’t know what I’ve been through-” She charges towards him, closing her fist and dropping it at her side, though really she wants to slap him.

“Yes, I can darling, because you remind me of me. Me before I met you… Before you showed me what it meant to be truly loved and cared for…” He pauses, running the back of his hand over his sweaty forehead, pushing back his long, damp curls. “Ah, yes, I remember a quote, I believe from a poem, “mi corazón fue destrozado hasta quedar irreconocible.” He tugs down on his shirt, the smirk evident he’s proud of his Spanish and his elephant-like memory. “Even then, years ago, back at university, I never let you truly in because I was scared of it all. I didn’t know my own heart, as the poem says, it was unrecognizable. And you’re right, I was an old fool. And now I literally am… Older than I was when we first met… I almost let you get away. I won’t let it happen again, Thalia. It would kill me. That much I know.”

She looks around, realizing their shouts and display have caused a small crowd to gather nearby. Her shoulders drop. She admits her defeat. “I don’t know if I can do it again, Tom. I know it will break me. I’ve seen it happen… I know what I’m capable of… I can’t, Tom, I can’t let you hurt me again. I’d rather be alone, and try to preserve our memories, than to fail with you again.” She steps towards him and rests her hand on his chest. “You have to, you have to let me go.”

She pushes off and walks away, reaching over her shoulder and flipping him off when he calls out, “I’ll pick you up at eight, for dinner. Be ready.”

***

His shoes click down the walkway, and he smiles down at his familiar gray suede shoes. He chuckles, remembering her comment from earlier. He pushes his sweater sleeves up, looking at his watch. Hell, he probably does look like a time warp, wearing some of his standards from years gone by. Eight pm. On the dot. He knocks on the door.

Tom listens to the chain slide across and his heart pounds in his ears, waiting to see her again. Although all they’ve done is fight, and she’s ignored him, it’s still been a pleasant to trip to Madrid. Just being in the same city with her fills him with hope-

The door flies open. “I’m not going anywhere with you. I thought I made that clear.”

Looking her up and down, Tom chuckles. “At least you’re dressed.” He steps inside, uninvited, and she retreats. “I half expected you to be in a state of undress, ratty old pajamas or your ‘shark week, don’t touch me’ uniform.”

Thalia rolls her eyes, but he can see the vein in her neck, pulsing, her eyes with a slight glaze to them. “I’m not playing games, Tom. This is not me playing hard to get.”

He turns quickly, stepping behind her. “Oh, I know you’re not. You’re behaving like a petulant child. I have half a mind to put you over my knee.”

Tom pushes her gently from behind, out the door, bending to grab a pair of her shoes by the entrance.

In the hall, she stomps her bare feet, reaching for the door as he slams it shut. “My keys!”

With his back to her, he hides his grimace. He turns the knob. Locked. He looks at her sheepishly, over his shoulder. “I didn’t mean for that to happen.” He pivots to face her. “I am truly sorry about that, but I guess you’ll have to go to dinner with me now while we wait for a locksmith.”

She silently seethes. “Dammit, Tom, why can’t you just take ‘no’ for an answer?”

He hands over her shoes, hiding a smile when she bends to slide them on, her fight slightly abating. “You won’t like my answer to that, darling.” He brushes dirt from the shoes off his hands. “Have a spare?”

“Yeah. In my purse, which is in the house, too, you idiot.” She ignores his comment about not liking his answer. “You’re not going to leave me alone until we go out, so let’s go. Get it over with. Where are we going?”

Tom steps back, eyeing her appearance under the pale porch light. An old pair of university sweatpants and a t-shirt with a slogan written in a language he doesn’t recognize. She’s making things more difficult than they need to be, but she’s forgotten a relaxed, Sunday morning style was always one of his favorites, next to dressed to the nines, or absolutely nothing at all. “Well, darling, given your appearance, I suggest someplace dark. Don’t want to scare the kiddies,” he laughs.

“Fuck you,” she laughs back, running her hands through her hair and pulling it into a low knot, twisting an elastic band around it to hold it in place. An errant curl, one that never seems to do what she wants, pops free and hangs in her face. Fighting the urge to tuck it back, he shoves his hands into the pockets of his well worn jeans. “There’s some food trucks out this time of night, just around the corner.”

He shrugs. “Whatever you want, Thalia… Or we could get a ride back to my hotel? The restaurant there is wonderful. We could order room service?”

Her cheeks turn red and she scoffs. “I’m not going to your hotel room, Tom.”

Seeing a neighbor peeping from behind her curtains, Thalia leads him back onto the street. He watches her hard, controlled moves. “Afraid you can’t control yourself alone in a room with me?”

She ignores him again and turns left. On the crowded sidewalk, Tom keeps a few steps behind, watching the locals move about their lives. At the traffic light, he realizes she’s on the phone. He can’t make out the words, but he hears the time. “A las diez.” Tom steps up beside her and listens inquisitively to the conversation, wondering how good his conversational Spanish really could be. Llave. Key. She must be making arrangements to meet the landlord, to get back into her apartment. He really is sorry about that. It was purely an accident. The light changes and they cross the street, away from a residential area into an neighborhood of shops and restaurants. He watches as she waves to a few people who call out to her, and stops to pet a dog as she chats quickly with someone in passing. He realizes he’s never seen her fit in so well in an environment before. It’s like she’s home. If he wasn’t so damn jealous, he’d be proud she found it on her own.

Surprised when she takes his hand, she pulls him down the sidewalk. “Hurry up, slowpoke, I wasn’t hungry before, but smell that? Hope you got some money with you, since you locked me out!”

They walk up to a small food truck with a brown canopy overhang. A short line waits their turn as Tom does his best to make sense of the Spanish. “Bocadillos? Those are sandwiches, right?” She nods. “And calamares? That’s not shrimp, is it? No, that’s not right? What is it?”

She giggles. “Fried squid! I know, weird, right? It’s really good.” In answer to his silent question, she continues “This guy I used to know insisted I always had to try new foods.” She shrugs, bumping his shoulder before wrapping her arms around her waist. He wishes he had a coat with him to keep her warm from the cooler evening air. “This was a no brainer. Fried. That smell! Doesn’t matter if you’re from Chicago or Madrid, anything tastes better fried!”

Tom laughs and nods his agreement. “Okay, so we know what we’re ordering. What shall we get to drink?”

“Do you have cash?” Thalia asks. “I can order these, and you can go over there, and order two horchatas to drink. The seasoning on the squid is a little spicy, and the horchata soothes the sting a bit.”

He nods, pulling out his wallet and handing her some Euros. “Dos horchatas. Fine, I’ll order those, as long as you tell me what it is when I get back?”

Accepting the money, she nods and waves behind her. “First one to get their order goes to find a table back that way.”

He walks away and easily orders the drinks, which appear to be like a creamy milkshake. Tom wanders back in the direction Thalia pointed out and searches for an empty table. Instead he finds Thalia already seated at one, with a tall handsome man leaning on the back of her chair, talking to her in a very friendly manner. His stomach twists and he takes a deep breath. In all his ‘sweep her off her feet’ thoughts, he never once considered she might be seeing someone else. Stupid git. No wonder she’s been spurning his advances. Maybe she’s just trying to be nice and let him down easy. Her stepmother hadn’t said she was seeing anyone, but with an ocean between them, maybe they weren’t as close as they once were…

Thalia looks up and sees him maneuvering around the other tables. She waves to him, and her male companion leaves. Tom tips his head to the gentleman and he feels a fire in his gut. He sits across from Thalia, but she doesn’t acknowledge the fact she was just talking to someone else. She pushes the cardboard box across the table to him, and reaches for one of his drinks. “Mmm… perfect,” she say after a long draw on the straw. “Try it; I think you’ll like it.”

Tom follows her lead and slurps on the straw; it’s a bit thick and he chokes for a minute on the taste. “Mmm.. That is good. It has a hazelnut flavoring. What is it?” He sets his cup on the table, and opens his food box to find the sandwich and more patatas bravas.

Thalia dips one of her potatoes in the aioli before answering his question. “It does, a little. It reminds me of almond milk, but it’s like a milkshake from tiger nuts, which are only found here in Spain. Because it’s always served cold, but has the sugary taste, it will cut the spice of the calamares.”

Tom watches as she picks her sandwich apart, sitting the bread on the side and eating the fried squid with her fingers, dipping each piece into the aioli. He’s not sure why it bothers him a bit she’s become more health conscious… Maybe because if she lost weight, other men would realize how damn sexy she is, when he feels he should win her because he saw it from the beginning? “Who was that man?” he blurts out, unable to take it back as the jealousy hangs between them.

“Him?” she points in the direction of the man who walked away. “That was my friend, Henrí. He had to rush home with the bag of groceries for the family dinner.”

“You seem to have made many new friends. What of the lovely young woman from the tapas bar the other night?”

Thalia begins to talk about her life and work in a Madrid, and the topic stays light, nothing serious. Tom loves listening to her talk, her Puerto Rican accent thicker now that she uses her Spanish on a daily basis. As the sun sets, he asks polite questions, careful not to dig into any topic too deeply. Before he knows it, they’ve both finished their food, and she’s asking the time. “I have to get back to meet my landlord,” she reminds him.

He nods, and rises from the table, collecting their trash. She quickly grabs the pieces of bread before he can put them away. She stands up and dodges with him between the tables on the courtyard, following him to the trash can. When he turns, he sees she’s torn off a piece and is nibbling on it. He smiles.

“What? You didn’t think I’d waste good bread, did you? It’ll be perfect, toasted tomorrow with my morning coffee.”

He chuckles, “Oh, Thalia, darling, maybe you haven’t changed as much as you think!”

She blushes and accepts his arm when he offers it to her, linking hers in his. The streets are less crowded, less noisy as they make their way back to her apartment, having eaten before the dinner crowds are actually out in Madrid.

At the street corner, Tom holds her back from stepping in front of a cab zooming past. “The city reminds me of New York, never truly sleeping, since the nightlife doesn’t begin until much later,” Tom comments.

Thalia shakes her head, tearing off another piece of bread and slowly chewing it. “I still haven’t adjusted to it. At work, they finally gave me a master key so I could come in early before everyone else. Half the time, I’m ready for a nap on the couch in my office just as everyone else is starting to show up for work around 9:30, 10 am.”

“Not so much for the nightlife anymore?” He asks, resting his other hand on top of her hers, laced over his arm.

“My barmaid days and hours are over. I still might have late nights where I’m studying something for a presentation or a project, but honestly,” she yawns to prove her point. “This is after my bedtime. Guess I’m the old fool now.”

“Oh, Thalia, I’d never call you old. You’re still just a young thing. Probably too young for me, but that never stopped me before so-”

“Tom. Tonight has been pleasant. Please don’t.” She warns.

Crossing the street to her apartment building, Tom can feel her tense in his arms at the dark shadow in the hallway. “Relax. It’s probably just your landlord.” Memories of that fateful night long ago when she was nearly raped in a closed off stairwell flood back through his mind. His own body tenses. “Thalia? Is that why you have an exposed apartment?”

She breathes out slowly. “I guess- yes, I suppose so. I can escape in either direction, and I have a plan. I don’t go anywhere anymore without knowing what my escape plan would be… Wow,” she looks up at Tom. “I’ve never said that to anyone before, but it’s true.” Her voice drops. “I still have nightmares sometimes.”

He pulls her close to him and kisses the top of her head. At the archway, they realize the landlord is speaking to the other tennant, so they hold back, and Tom asks about the history of the space. Thalia shares what she knows, explaining it was once part of a large family manor that has been split into smaller flats. “These here have walk-ups.” She indicates the other buildings close to hers. “I have two rooms upstairs, an office and a bedroom, with a private balcony, overlooking a courtyard. It’s still small, but it’s the first time in nearly three years I’ve had something that was my own.” Her shoulders lift and she drops them. “I like getting to make my own rules, leaving dishes in the sink, the bed unmade, only doing laundry once a week.”

He nods, remembering the feeling well of being young and on his own. He nods to the man, jiggling his keys to get their attention. Thalia speaks to the man in Spanish, letting go of Tom’s hand to pick up something she sees shining on the side of the walk. She yelps in surprise and stands back up, blood rushing from her fingertips. “Son of a bitch!” She yells in English.

Tom grabs her wrist, looking to the ground to see a piece of broken glass. He yells at the man to hurry, remembering the Spanish phrase and he ushers Thalia inside as the door pops open. The man follows them into the house, pointing ahead to the kitchen, whispering words of comfort. Tom thanks him for his help, his Spanish butchered as he leads Thalia to the sink to clean the wound. He commands with force his thanks to the gentleman for opening the door, but issues him to leave and to clean the grounds on his way out.

“Tom, Tom. Relax. I’m fine. It’s only a flesh wound.” When he doesn’t laugh at her attempt at British humor, she looks to see the blood is still flowing as she wiggles the three cut fingers.

“Dammit, Thalia, now is not a time for jokes. Where’s your emergency kit?”

She pulls her hand free from his, running it under the water herself, and with her other hand, reaching for a clean washcloth. “In the bathroom, under the stairs.”

When he returns to the kitchen, he finds her sitting at the table, her hand wrapped and holding her hand upright, over her heart. “Good girl, I read that once too.”

“Probably just bullshit,” she says, pulling the cloth away. The bleeding seems to have stopped and the cuts aren’t as deep as he’d thought. He sits in the chair across from her, pushing as close as he can, his knee between her thighs. He’s aware of her close proximity and he strains to keep his breathing controlled, though he knows every cell in his body beats like the tell-tale heart. “Let me clean it.” He holds her hand tight and she tries to pull away.

“Tom, it’s okay.”

Under his grasp, he can feel her pulse racing. He lifts his face to look at her. Really to look at her closely for the first time. He’s struck by her beauty, the little freckles on her cheeks. He lifts his hand, reaching out to touch a tiny scar on her lip, and pulling his hand back. The air is thick between them, and the desire to kiss her overtakes his body, but he knows if he tries it now, she’ll simply throw back up the wall she’d had between them, the one she slowly let him chip at tonight. He’s barely made a dent.

He shakes his head. “I don’t remember that scar,” he says, looking back down to her hand as he runs an alcohol cleaning wipe over her injuries.

Her voice is shaky. “I coached t-ball one summer for a group of seven year old girls. A bat in the mouth equaled about ten stitches.” She runs her finger on the spot. “One of the dads on the team was a plastic surgeon. He insisted on doing the stitches right. Can hardly see it, can you?”

He takes the opportunity to touch her, tenderly placing his knuckle under her chin and turning her head in the light. “I can barely see it at all.” He nods, his eyes landing on the photos on the fridge. His heart freezes and he pulls his hand back, reaching for a band-aid and unwrapping it. “The little girl’s team, I suppose?”

The fridge is covered with photos of Thalia’s life without him. Postcards and family photos. A wedding announcement of a friend, a newspaper clipping about her father. Without having to look too closely, he spies a photo of her with the young girl and the man he lost Thalia to years before. In another photo, the little girl is sitting at a table in front of a birthday cake, with a giant balloon behind her, announcing she’s eleven. Wrapping her fingers quickly, he continues his work in silence, pushing his chair back and standing up when he’s finished.

Her eyes close and she hangs her head as he walks to the sink to wash the medicinal smell from his hands. While he dries his hands, she speaks quietly. “That’s why we’ll never work, Tom. That’s why we can’t start something new.”

“Why, Thalia?” he says, throwing the towel on the counter.

“You’ll never forgive me, Tom. You’ll never forgive me for the time I spent with Chris.” He swallows hard at the mention of the other man’s name. “You can’t even stand his name on my lips. How could you ever forgive me for his hands on my body? The things we did together; the things I learned from him?”

She lifts her face to his. “You can’t, can you?”

Click here to read Chapter 19, Opportunity Calls

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

Facing Demons

ch 16 Facing Demons Feb 24 2019

Being Thalia

Chapter 16

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 2496

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

Previous Chapter, Reaching Out

September 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thalia?”

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

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

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

***

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

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

Tom, of course.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read Chapter 17, Girls’ Night

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

 

Haunted

ch 14 Haunted Feb 17 2019

Haunted

Being Thalia

Chapter 14

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 2077

Summary: Tom falls down a rabbit hole of forbidden memories.

This chapter contains sexual activities and reference to a near-rape experience.

Previous Chapter, Forbidden Fruit

July 2021

As his hands fly across the paper, Tom madly scribbles his forbidden thoughts of lost love and his mind wanders to happier days.

***

His head resting on Thalia’s plush thigh, Tom stretches on the huge king-size hotel bed in Paris, grateful for another stolen day with his girl.

They’ve slaked the fiercest of their thirst with a round of almost fierce love making already, Tom indulging in one of his favorite positions and urging Thalia to ride him, her glorious tits bouncing as he dug his fingers hard enough into her ample hips to leave faint bruises.

That was an hour ago, when he’d first arrived from the airport, finding her only wrapped in a sheet. He’d missed his girl, Thalia here in Paris, getting settled for her internship. Although only apart a few weeks, he wanted to make up for lost time. After their frenzied fuck, they’d followed up with the lazy cuddling he loves just as much. It strikes him how rarely they really get the chance to draw out the time with each other, to cuddle and talk or even take a nap nude before going for round two or three.

“Tom?”

The fingers combing through his short, slightly sweaty hair stop as Thalia speaks and jolts him from his indulgent haze.

“Yes, darling?”

He opens his eyes and shifts slightly so he can see her face better.

“Tell me more about kinks.”

Blinking, he shifts again so that he can roll onto his stomach and prop his chin on his hands. He reminds himself to keep his gaze on her face and not let it wander over her delectable body; she’s still naked, and has reached that stage when she forgets about any insecurities and is herself—and his.

“Where’s that question coming from now?”

There it is, that lovely blush that makes her freckles stand out more and that he always causes all over her curves when he licks and sucks and nips.

She bites her full lip but holds his gaze. “I may have read a romance novel last week that mentioned a foot fetish. A fetish is the same as a kink, right?”

He tries to look as innocent as possible. “And why do you ask ME that?”

Thalia prods his rib with a toe and he uses the opportunity to catch her foot and tickle her sole mercilessly until she’s a giggling, wheezing, writhing mess.

Scrambling up on the bed, Tom rearranges them so he can sit with his back against the high headboard and his naughty girl in his embrace, her back to his chest as she rests in the circle of his widespread legs.

Still a bit out of breath, she elaborates, “I know you’re much more experienced with all that…kinky stuff.”

He snorts softly and nips her earlobe, which makes her squirm and brush against him in all sorts of torturous ways.

“Up for some more educating, are you? Well, what sort of professor would I be if I got in the way of that? So, what do you want to know?”

“Anything. Everything.”

And so he tells her about stuff he’s read on the internet and even experienced first-hand or been told about by more daring friends.

He talks about weird fetishes like getting it on with teddy bears, being aroused by stuttering or even being attracted to dangerous criminals. When he mentions that some people get hot and bothered for statues, Thalia giggles. She gives him the once over and raises a brow, “I mean, you can hold a candle to Adonis. So if it’s that kind of statue, I can’t really fault people for having such a fetish.” Her other brow quirks too and he seems a mischievous gleam enter her eyes. “Although I do have to say that none of those classical statues come anywhere near to what you’re packing in real life.” She nudges her chin towards his crotch area.

Blushing but grinning, Tom lightly slaps her thigh, which makes her squirm. “I guess I should be flattered. Or worried that you’ve paid enough attention to that particular part of statue anatomy?”

They snicker before he continues. “Speaking of paying attention to bodies… Some people have a kink that isn’t all that weird. They get turned on by sex in front of a mirror.”

Thalia perks up at that. “And do you happen to know the name for that kink, Professor?”

Feeling a shiver dance across his spine at the thought of this particular kink that has sometimes called out to him too, Tom nods. “I do happen to know it, yes. It’s called Katoptronophilia as the Greek word for mirror is katoptron.”

Resting his chin on her shoulder and letting his hands wander idly over Thalia’s body to stroke until she’s very still and breathing carefully, he also mentions more normal or harmless things that can be kinks for some. Glasses, stockings, high heels, collars, food fetishes, exhibitionism…the list is long, and he loves her reactions and curiosity.

This is when he’s happiest, he thinks in a sudden moment of insight: when he’s got Thalia in his arms and they can talk and touch and be unashamedly themselves.

“Would you say you have a kink you aren’t even really aware of?” Thalia asks, her voice musing but also a tiny bit husky because she’s definitely noticed his caresses. “Or that you’re maybe hiding one from me?”

“I’m not hiding anything from you, love.” The words are out before he can think about them—and they’re true, even if he’s always been rather secretive in his life, lovers included.

Tom doesn’t have time to think about it because Thalia turns her head and kisses him. He pours his shock into the press of his lips against hers, slides his tongue deep until she whimpers softly and all but melts in his arms.

When they disentangle to breathe, she insists. “No, really. No kink that I should know of?”

“Well, we both know about your glasses kink,” he teases her, which makes her laugh and blush some more, squirming so her lush bottom grinds over his now very interested cock.

“Me? I can’t really think of anything subtle or hidden. A tea kink? Because I love watching a certain young woman prepare a proper English tea for me in the nude?”

There’s humor in his voice which has gone automatically to that lower, deeper register that she brings out in him, and it makes her giggle and swat his leg none too gentle.

“Be serious, Tom.”

“Oh, you want me serious? Is that what would make my girl happy?”

He grabs the wrist of the hand with which she just hit him and twists her arm back, gently enough not to hurt her but firm enough to make a point. He pulls it behind her back, then does the same with the other arm. Then he pulls her more firmly against his body so her crossed wrists are trapped between her spine and his chest.

A shiver courses through her, and when he drags his teeth over her shoulder, he hears a low moan.

Her position makes her unable to touch him or balance herself properly, and she’s at his mercy. It also thrusts her voluptuous breasts out more, and he’s tall enough to lean forward and take advantage of that.

One of his hands molds a heavy globe, kneading and pulling and rubbing his palm over her stiff nipple until she’s gasping. His other hand hooks one of her legs over his so that her thighs are spread even wider. He lets it glide over the inside of her thigh, dragging his blunt nails lightly over her skin and causing her to shudder again. Her body grows taut with anticipation when his fingers stray higher and he brushes his fingertips lightly over her swollen, slick lips.

“You’re wet,” he growls. “Is it all the talk about kink or is it me?”

“You.” It sounds breathy, hardening him further. “You know you always make me wet…Sir.”

“And that’s the way it should be.” Feeling an odd wave of possessiveness, Tom sinks his teeth into her neck and sucks to mark her, drawing another gasped moan from Thalia.

Something about the gasp makes Tom try to rein in his rampant desire and remember to take extra care of her. He’s seen her scars, knows that the memory of the near-rape is probably still on her mind sometimes. Drawing in a steadying breath, he loosens his hold on her a fraction. Sure, he’s just touched the evidence of her arousal, but what if her body is overtaking her mind and she’ll regret this later?

“Thalia, is this okay?” he asks earnestly. “I want your full consent. Are you fine with me restricting and dominating you like this or do you want me to tone it down a notch because of…well, you know.”

He doesn’t want to say the word, ruin the mood. It still makes him incandescent with rage and pain to think about what nearly happened. If life was a movie, he would be out getting his revenge and killing the sick bastard who hurt this beautiful creature.

Tom feels her curves move when she also hauls in a deep breath.

“This is fine. Please. I need it, need you.”

Thank heavens. He nuzzles her hair, then tightens his grip on her again.

“Think you can come for me, just from my hand on your beautiful, needy pussy?”

He can feel her hands flex useless against his abdomen and her thigh muscles twitch.

“Yes. Please. Make me.”

And so he does just that, touching her in earnest. He knows how she needs to be caressed, how to slide his fingertips over the sensitive area right next to her clit, how to draw tight circles and then let her hang for a bit by delving a finger in and pumping.

It doesn’t take long for her to quiver and clench around him, her body bucking so hard that he has to fling an arm around her middle and anchor her to himself.

With a keening whimper, Thalia comes, gushing over his hand while her back arches despite his firm hold.

Tom gentles his strokes, massaging some of her wetness in, bringing her down from the peak while peppering her neck with kisses.

“So precious. Mine.”

He releases her from his firm embrace and she moves languidly to turn around, but he sees determination in her wide, dark eyes.

When he fists her hair in his hand, she licks her lips and needs no further command. Kneeling between his legs, she closes one hand over his rigid length and bends forward for a first suck that has him grit his teeth.

When they lie in each other’s arms later, idly tracing circles on damp skin and synching their breathing, Thalia murmurs, “I think I’ve figured out one of your kinks.”

Tom somehow finds enough energy to lift his head an inch and glance at her. “Is that so? Care to enlighten me?”

She seeks his gaze, her teeth digging into her lower lip for a moment. “Being in control. Teaching me naughty things. Not just simply being a mild dom of sorts. It’s the educating aspect too, and being older than me and sort of getting to deprave me.”

Her choice of words makes Tom guffaw. “You were no Regency-era virginal maid to deprave, darling,” he protests among snickers.

“Gee, Tom. I didn’t get around THAT much,” she slaps his thigh playfully. “But you have to admit, you’ve taught me things, and you get off on that, knowing you were first.”

Her comment with its kernel of truth gives him pause. All said and done, that’s quite astute. Tom blinks at her, feeling a bit caught out. He wonders whether there’s a word for that too. And as the two of them drift into contented sleep, still entangled, he realizes something that makes him open his eyes wide again: He might still be doing all the educating, but in the end, he’s learning too. Learning how right she is for him, and he for her.

***

Folding the paper neatly, Tom vows to put it away, out of sight so Sabrina won’t find it. He wonders what to do with the box of old letters and keepsakes when they finally join households. He closes his eyes, whispering a prayer for strength and forgiveness, before reaching for his phone to return the call to his dear intended wife.

Click here for Chapter 15: Reaching Out

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

Running in Circles

ch 10 Running in Circles.jpg

Running in Circles

Being Thalia

Chapter 10

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: 1254

Summary: Thalia’s career trajectory takes her down a new path, leading to a door she wish she’d left closed.

Previous Chapter, Going Places

July 2021

Two months later. Another city, another hotel. Thalia shoves the earbuds in, hoping to drown out any noise. But no matter where she goes, the voices in her head won’t shut up. They’re so clamorous these days, she has an appointment to see a therapist when she returns to Madrid next week after this conference. She has a feeling she’ll need it. Angrily, she punches the numbers on the treadmill, raising the incline and increasing her pace.

“Fuck him,” she mutters, as she often does whenever Professor Hiddleston crosses her mind. Tom presented this morning on the same panel in which she’d been invited to participate. Accepting the speaking engagement seemed like a good idea, nearly six months ago, being an elite member among the prestigious curators for one of the top European museums. Now, the curvy historian isn’t so sure what had prompted her to say yes. She should have known it would be a disaster. As soon as she found out  he was the discussion leader, she should have withdrawn from the event. At this point, she doesn’t even know what the panel topic was supposed to have been about, but it descended into a free for all of academic wills and pent up anger.

Nervously, Thalia watched from backstage as the conference volunteers rearranged the furniture for the panel, moving out three small leather couches and placing them in a semicircle. She smooths down the front of her long skirt and anxiously fidgets with the lapels of her leather jacket. A table had been seated in the open space with water bottles and stacks of books. His book. He’d finished his damn book, with the help of her research notes. She knew small royalty deposits were made into a banking account regularly, growing larger each month as more universities caught on to their ideas, using their theories to teach their classes about the power of Shakespeare in the modern world.

It was an account she never touched. She didn’t want his money.

She’d calmly walked on stage, waving to the crowds and pausing for the requisite photos, taking her spot to the far right of the stage, practically clutching the armrest of the couch for… for what? Protection? To hold her back from throwing herself into his arms?

What did she want? What did she expect?

As he was being introduced, a large digital presentation ran on the screen behind the other panelists. Thankfully Thalia wasn’t the only person being subjected to this torture, she’d chuckled to herself. The resulting smile on her face froze when a familiar image appeared on the screen, a blast from the past of her younger self, in a breezy floral sundress and her sturdy boots. It had been many years ago, when Tom hadn’t even know she’d existed. She’d just been another student on his team, working at the excavation site believed to have been the kitchen of William Shakespeare himself.

Static had crackled over the sound system, and the image had frozen. She’d twisted in her seat for a better look at the photo, one she’d never seen. Squinting, she’d analyzed the image.

Her heart stopped. In the captured photo, it was evident he’d known she’d existed. Thalia knew that look on his face. He was focused on her, not whatever she had been showing him that long ago day.

“Sorry! I’m rebooting the file,” someone had shouted from the sound booth at the back of the room.

The screen went black before she could examine it further.

And then he walked on stage. From the moment he appeared, his presence commanded the attention of the audience, as if spellbound by a god.

Leaning against the podium when he welcomed the panel, his eyes barely glanced over her, cold and icy. In that moment, he may as well have ripped her heart out and stomped on it.

TH podium

Again.

Huffing, she realizes the wet on her cheeks isn’t sweat from her fast-paced walk, but from tears. Angry, spiteful tears.

“Fuck him,” Thalia mumbles again, wiping away the tears. The music can’t block out the memory, the words. She punches the numbers on the treadmill, and slows her walk. “Chica, get it together. Relive it and move on. Can’t change it now.” She glares at the mirrored wall across from her momentarily before closing her eyes and sinking back into those thoughts.

She realizes her anger has probably blocked out most of the panel, as she can’t seem to remember much. She recalls observing the events, adding in her commentary when necessary. But something about his arrogance, his words and tone, set her off. It had become a verbal sparring match on stage, one they were both well-educated and prepared for, as it had often been a lively topic of debate between them, purely in the name of fun.

This hadn’t been fun.

This had been brutal.

With an audience.

At one point, she’d clenched her fists, irritated with the way he was sitting across from her, his legs spread wide, as always. She’d blinked to lock out the image of the fit physique she knew he was hiding underneath his tailored suit. She’d glared at him, her eyes barely open in her fury, when it dawned on her. Her tie. The tie she had given him once as a gift. The fucker was wearing her tie. Whatever her train of thought had been stopped there, interrupting him. “Excuse me, Sir,” and Thalia knew she was full on red-blooded Latina and her accent was thick with rage, be damned her education. “I am not a, a… a groupie… in your class anymore. I don’t have to hang on every word, and sit here and listen to you ‘mansplain’ that to me. That’s my research! Those are my thoughts! Don’t you dare repeat them back to me as if they’re your own ideas, for fuck’s sake.”

The academic minds in the room had gasped and the moderator stepped in, closing down the remaining minutes of the discussion early.

The sneer on his face as he cleaned his glasses indicated he thought he’d won whatever battle they seemed to be waging.

th cleaning glasses

“Fuck him,” she mumbles again, turning off the damn machine. Four miles. Sweaty and tired, Thalia rolls her head side to side, wiping the towel around her neck. She clasps her hands together, stretching out in front of her and her knuckles pop and crack. With a huff, she walks to the opposite wall and readies herself to lift the free weights. Movement out the window draws her attention, and her breath catches.

Tom.

Bloody hell. In his work out gear, his ratty running shorts and tight black t-shirt, he looks like he stepped out of a time machine. Slowing his run, he jogs up to the side door of the hotel. Glancing at his phone, he punches across the screen, the cord for his earbuds wrapped around his neck. Immediately, she wants to strangle him with it. She’s hoping she can sneak out before he enters-

“Thalia.” His voice is different from when he spoke at the panel. More like in her memories. Silk wrapped in something deep and intense, serious and way more meaningful than one word should be. Well, she’s immune to this kind of seduction now, isn’t she?

“Fuck you,” she mutters and leaves, relishing in the slam of the door as she exits the room.

Click here for the next chapter, Peace Offering

Images of Tom found on Pinterest from IW press

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

Going Places

ch 9 going places jan 30 2019

Going Places

Being Thalia

Chapter 9

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Summary: With love on her side, Thalia faces another big change in her life.

Previous Chapter, Getaway

Word count 857

2020, September

The now tattered yellow envelope rests in her lap, symbolizing she’s finally grown up. Accustomed to the cabin pressure, oceanic flights no longer are the stress they once were, and Thalia realizes as she drifts to sleep, she’s a nomad again, this time with no one to fall back on for comfort. But she couldn’t say no to Madrid. Her thoughts drift back to the moment that would change her whole life and the man who supported her somewhat scary decision.

***

Chris beams with pride. “Sweetheart, why are you so nervous to ask me this? I’ve seen that envelope on your office shelf. You’ve been sitting on this job offer for months, haven’t you? That’s crazy. You know I can’t keep you from going, anymore than I can ask you to stay here.”

Thalia squirms down in his lap better, to rest her head on his shoulder. She can’t look him in the eye. Can’t bear to watch his face. His beautiful, stupid face. “Part of me wants you to do just that,” she chuckles softly. The envelope falls from her lap, landing on the floor. “Part of me has always wanted you to do that. Lay claim to me.”

“Oh, Thalia,” he sighs, kissing the top of her head. “You know I love you, always have, always will, but I know now I can’t keep you. You’re a wild creature, not meant to be tamed. I can’t uproot Avery from her school, and move her away from her mother and step-dad. And she can’t grow up without me nearby. My life is here, and let’s be honest, yours isn’t.” He pushes her off his lap, twisting her so he can look down into her big brown eyes. “You don’t think I saw the panic on your face a few weeks ago, while we waited to see if there were one or two lines on that stick?” He blows out a puff of air. “We would have loved that baby, but that’s not who you are… You’re so good with Avery, and her friends, but babies?” He chuckles softly. “You’ve always had dreams, and they never really included me.”

He holds his finger up to her mouth when she starts to protest. “Thalia, I’ve held you back too long. It’s time I’m the bigger person, to follow your dad’s advice.” His eyes fill with tears. “I can’t keep you locked up here; I know you have to go. Madrid is the opportunity of a lifetime. You’d grow to hate me, resent Avery, if you turned it down. You have to go.

That night, they’d made love with wild abandon, a goodbye of sorts.

But over the weeks, as she packed her remaining belongings, when she’d wake in the morning, the bed would be empty. Chris would be gone on his morning run.

Even though she never runs, why does she always feel like she’s running away?

***

Eight months later, the messy desk looks the same, although many notes are scribbled in Spanish and the view is different. The trusty tennis ball rolls to the floor when she bumps her hip against the desk. Bending to retrieve it, she straightens quickly when a rugged voice startles her. “Ah, Señorita Bareo. Maybe one of the most lovely figures we have on display here at the Museo Arqueológico Nacional.”

Smoothing down her skirt, she smiles kindly at the gentleman standing in the doorway. “Antonio. I thought you left at two for siesta. Why are you still here?”

“I thought I should live more americano if I’m going to keep up with you, or I could at least convince you to go with me for a drink?”

The itinerary for her trip to London stares up at her from her desk. She runs her hands over the type.

“Señorita?” he asks again, pointing to the door.

“Can we discuss the presentation for the conference?” she asks her colleague, tossing her datebook and notes in her leather bag.

The handsome gentleman loosens his tie. “I was hoping for something a bit more personal,” he chuckles. “But if you’ll leave this office on the pretense of work, then yes. We can talk work.”

Her mantra repeats in her brain. New life. New adventures. Move on. New life. New adventures. Move on…

***

Searching for her shoes in his dark apartment the next morning, her mantra and hangover make her want to throw up. How can a former barmaid not be able to handle her liquor in this damn foreign place?

She collapses on his couch, pulling the heels onto her tired feet. Antonio’s dog hops up on the couch next to her. “¿Qué carajos estoy haciendo aquí?” she whispers to the dog, nuzzling into his neck. “What the fuck am I doing here?” she repeats. Do dogs understand universal languages? She shakes her head, buckling the strap around her ankle.

Está temprano, come back to bed, mi dama,” Antonio announces, standing in the doorway in his boxers, rubbing his hands over his chest.

She shakes her head no, rising to stand. “No, Antonio. I’m not your lady. I think I’ve made a big mistake.”

Click here to read Chapter 10, Running in Circles

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