Drinking Games

et 22 Drinking Games may 17 2017.jpg

Educating Thalia

Chapter 22

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom &  @devikafernando

AU FICTION

A collaboration involving Professor Hiddleston and Professor Evans- The two are rivals at a posh New England university and have no idea they both have taken interest in the lovely Thalia Bareo. She’s a grad student with interests in language and history; a sassy full-figured Puerto Rican girl from Chicago.  Story updates are posted on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Word count: 2892

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, fluff, drinking, discussions of sex, designated driver

Summary:  Tom encounters Thalia late at night at the school library but food is the need for the evening.  But as usual with Tom, that leads to something more…

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

The rain beats against the glass, matching his mood.  Walking down the row of books, he finds the volume he needs and pulls it down from the shelf.  His thoughts roam to a similar night months ago, and taking a chance, he turns to the left.   The vision in front of him lifts his spirits and with a smile and a chuckle, he crosses the dark and empty room.

“I thought I’d find you here, darling.”

Lost deep in her thoughts, her brow is furrowed when she lifts her head. The grin breaks across her face and reaches her eyes, a wide, friendly expression.  She is happy to see him.  “Hey, Tom.”  She pats the side of the couch next to her, with little fear of being discovered on a late Friday night.  He sits down, keeping his distance, though he does hit his leg against her knee before resting his ankle across his thigh.  “Just trying to get a few things finished so I can get some time to relax this weekend.”  Looking at the pile of books at her feet, she scoffs.  “Even if it is just five minutes.”

He looks at her quizzically, “I thought you had a family thing tomorrow, or something?”

She sighs.  “I do; Big Jim, from the bar?  His wife asked me over for an early dinner tomorrow before my shift.  I’ve just been so busy, I haven’t really had a chance to see her except when she stops by the bar.”  Thalia fidgets with the patch on her jeans.  “Do you… Do you want to go with me?”

Her hopeful smile tugs on his heartstrings.  “Oh darling.  I can’t.  Tomorrow is the day we go to New York with the students to the theatre district for their field study.  You planned it, remember?”

Her eyes grow wide.  “Shit, yeah.  I guess I totally have my dates mixed up.”  She looks at her phone screen and laughs.  “Yeah.  Ya know, it’ll be better as soon as I get this paper done for Masterson’s class.  If I pass it, I don’t have to attend class the rest of the term.  And I can sleep in two days a week!”  She playfully claps her hands together in glee.

Tom lays his arm on the back of the couch and plays with her dark curls.  “Are you afraid, dear, you won’t do well?”

“Perfectionist.  You know that.”  Her eyes close and she involuntarily leans towards him.  Whispering she tells, “Damn, you smell good.”

He chuckles quietly.  “You work too hard.  Is it so bad to fail?  There’s learning in failure too, Thalia.”

Her eyes pop open and she shifts in her seat.  “It’s not an option.  You know what it was like for me at Christmas.  If I go back home, I’ll be a teacher, or be a tour guide at a museum, or work with Dad at his shop.  I mean, I don’t mind getting dirty, but changing oil filters and knocking out babies isn’t how I want to live my life.  I want more than that.  I think that’s the one part of me that must come from my mother; wanting adventure and a grand life.  For me, I can’t get that in Chicago.  I want Cairo, Paris, hell, even Honduras looks pretty interesting right now with all the things I’m discovering.”  He tries to hide the scowl on his face from her reference to work with Evans; but at least the few extra hours on campus allows her to cut back late night hours at the bar.  “I want the mud on my boots to be worldly.”

Her passion speaks to him.  He remembers being young, and wanting those things too.  A wanderlust for new experiences and places to see.  “You’ll get those things, darling.  I believe you can make it happen.”

Just then, her stomach rumbles and they both share a laugh.  She pats her belly and whispers, “Shhh.  We’ll eat later.”

“Thalia, have you been here all evening?” Tom scolds, already knowing her answer. “Have you not eaten?”

Sheepishly, she hides behind her book.  He reaches over and pulls it down.  “That’s it.  We’re going to dinner.  Come on.”  He rises to standing and holds his hand out to her.  “I won’t take no for an answer.”

She reaches to him and allows herself to be pulled up.  “Tom, don’t be ridiculous.  I’m not dressed to go any place and-”

“Shush.  Come on.  We’ll go for wings and beer.”  He bends to pick up her books.  “Do you need all these for your work?”

She nods as she throws her pens and notebook in her bag.

“Thalia Bareo, you may be one of the last students on Earth who still loves book research.  Ever heard of a thing called ‘the Internet?’”  Tom teases as he adds two more books from the side table to the large stack in his arms.

“I like the written word, Professor.  The feel of the pages under my fingertips.”  Reaching for the book on the top of his stack, she opens it carefully, waving it under his nose.  “The smell of old books that haven’t been used in ages.”  She holds it to her face, inhaling the scent and cutely sneezing from the dust.  “That’s tangible, real.  It’s served me well, and this close to the end of my graduate work, I’m not changing anything.”

She takes several of the books from his arms and he follows her to the stairs, down to the checkout desk.  “Mrs. Hooperman? I didn’t know you were still on duty tonight.”  Tom greets the clerk brightly, setting the stack of books on the counter and taking the ones from Thalia as well.  “I had two items on reserve and tech was supposed to leave the delivery of my laptop here?”

The older woman eyes the two suspiciously, clacking a few buttons on her keyboard.  “Yes, Mr. Hiddleston.  Let me get those for you.  I’ll be right back.”

As the woman walks away, Thalia turns to Tom. “Wings?  Isn’t that rather beneath your fine dining tastes? Where are we going?”

Mimicking one of her signature moves, he rolls his eyes at her.  “We’re going to take this ridiculous stack of books to your car,” Tom tells as he puts on his winter coat, and helping Thalia into hers, his hands resting momentarily on her waist, “and walk across the street to Too Talls.”

Looking over her shoulder, Thalia turns back to Tom and briefly touches her fingers to his forehead and he momentarily feels burned by her touch.  “Are you crazy?  Do you have a fever?  Do you need to lie down?  That’s a campus bar!  Do you know how many people will be in there tonight?”

The light in the office down the hall flicks off and the clerk heads towards them.  Tom hisses, “I do need to lie down, with you by my side and I’m going to-”

The clerk clears her throat, stepping into their presence.  She makes a clucking sound in the back of her throat, quickly scanning Tom’s reserved materials and handing him a form to sign for the computer.  She smiles brightly at Thalia and the two make small talk, the woman complaining her Friday nights will be lonely once the young girl graduates.  “Thank you, Mrs. Hooperman.  And thank you for the recipe you gave me last week.  I really liked it.  It made perfect frozen meals!”

Gathering the books, Tom sighs.  “Mrs. Hooperman?  Could we borrow a basket for these?  We’ve worked late and I can help get them to her car, but she’ll have to bring them back on her own?”

“Yes, yes.  Good idea.  Let me find one.”  She turns to leave.

“You were saying?”  Thalia smiles.

“None of that now, girl.  Don’t get me worked up.  The math department was having a celebration and their assistants were invited.  We’ll sneak in on their gathering with the pretense we were working on the Gala presentation and needed a break.”

“I hate math,” Thalia shudders.  “Not my strong suit.  I mean, I’m functional, but I don’t get how someone would want to spend their life with numbers.  So boring and strict.  Words, history, those things change; matter.”

Tom chuckles.  “Don’t say that when we get over there, it could start a bar brawl; which I’m sure you could handle quite well, but- ah!  Mrs. Hooperman, perfect.  Thank you so much!”

She helps the two load the books into the box she found and Thalia takes Tom’s laptop and they head out into the night, thankful the rain has stopped.

#

By the time Tom walks into the bar, the place is in full swing. Searching the crowd it takes him a few minutes to spot Thalia standing next to the corner booth in the back, talking to the waitress.  He strides over to the bar, but before he can place an order, someone from the booth calls out to him.  “Hiddleston, old man, join us!” shouts a jovial if slightly intoxicated voice.

Shit.  It’s the guy from the math department whose name always escapes him.  They’ve played tennis before and Tom even attended a dreadfully boring dinner party at his home once, but Tom still can never remember the man’s name.  He’s got his arm up on the seat behind him, and Tom catches the casual way his fingertips drag across the shoulder of the young blonde sitting next to him.

Thalia nods her hello as he joins the group, and they are both invited to join the table.  There’s some shifting of seats and somehow the pair end up at the back of the booth sitting together.  The math professor teases, “Maybe you language buffs can help class this group up a bit.  I’m afraid we’ve taken our fair share of drinks tonight.”  His other arm sweeps out to the array of empty glasses and bottles on the table.

The waitress arrives and hands Thalia her drink, announcing the chicken wings will be up shortly and asking if anyone else would like to order.  Tom orders a cheeseburger and fries with a beer.  The group explains the reason for their celebration- two of the students will be joining the math nerds at NASA after graduation, so the professors wanted to thank them for their dedication.  “And how often do you get to really relax and know your students, right Tom?”

Tom simply nods as the redhead on his left slides a bit closer and begins asking him questions about life in London.  Thalia’s hand briefly scrapes across his thigh before she turns her attention to the conversation going on around her.

Drinks are served and food is shared and the group begins to get louder as the night wears on, finally leading to a drinking game.  Tom seems to have missed the rules of the game, and bows out, claiming designated driver status.  Thalia simply chuckles and raises an eyebrow at him, reaching for the shot placed in front of her.

The game seems to go on forever.  He’s learned more about Thalia than he truly has a right to know.  She’s taken drinks to reply to the most innocent questions, but some of the racier ones as well.  She’s never kissed a girl, but on the next question he learns that she’s fantasized about it.  She’s shoplifted, cheated on a test, and had sex while her parents were at home. The group coerced him to at least participate by drinking his own beer slowly, and the questions flow more freely as everyone begins to lose their inhibitions a bit.  No one seems fazed when the professor from the math department boldly places his hand on the back of the young woman’s neck as the game continues.  It’s as if the team knows of their connection?  Thalia catches his eye and the challenge flashing there quickly has him toss his head back in laughter.

A boy in a ballcap throws it all in by presenting to the table, “Never have I ever had sex with someone I work with….”

From the corner of his eye Tom can see Thalia lick the salt from her wrist as she prepares to down another shot, and he takes a long draw from his bottle of beer on the table.  As he watches cautiously the other student and professor down their drink, and he realizes the man’s arm is no longer behind the girl, but quite obviously in her lap.  Next to him, the redhead  whispers she’d like to know more about working with him next semester in the language department.  Tom shifts uncomfortably, sliding a bit closer to Thalia, and silently pushes his plate of fries to her.  With an innocent smile, she takes one, chewing quickly before slamming another shot in response to the statement ‘Never have I ever had sex in more than five cars.”

“Wait, wait, wait.”  Slurs the redhead.  “Thalia, you’ve been slammin’ ‘em back.  I’m gonna need some clarification.  Go with the last one.  Tell us about how you’ve had sex in more than five cars.”

The rest of the table agrees, hitting the shot glasses on the table and starting a chant, “tell us, tell us, tell us.”

Tom sits back, trying to keep the fire from his eyes.  He’s not liking this game too much, but it has been eye opening.  He struggles not to make eye contact with her, difficult to do as he can feel the heat rising through her body next to him.

She chuckles, resting her elbow on the table and reaching for another buffalo wing from the basket.  She begins to pick it apart and shrugs her shoulders.  “Well you assholes don’t have to act like it’s so unbelievable,” she huffs with a sarcastic smile.  “Not much to tell, but I can actually clear up three things you’ve learned about me.”  The tap of her leg against him lets him know her honesty is for his benefit.  “My dad owns an auto mechanic shop.  When I was in high school, I worked there and had a crush on the other guy that worked with us, about three years older than me.”  From the corner of his eye, he can see the blush rising across her cheeks, as she pauses to chew a bite of the chicken.  Wiping her fingers on a napkin, she continues.  “When Dad would go out on service calls, we would choose the nicest car in the shop and screw around in the back seat.  So there you have it- at work, with a co-worker, 5 or more cars.  Three things about me.”

“I call bullshit,” says the dark haired boy down the table from her.  Tom tenses, wondering what the boy might have to say.  “You’re a fuckin’ ice princess who never puts out.”

Thalia turns to him with a flash in her eyes, which quickly turns sympathetic.  “Aww, Caleb, are you still blaming your limp dick on my fat?”

The table goes wild, high fives, “oohs” and “she burned you!”  The girl next to him says, “Dude, she’s got you pegged!”

“Oh!  There’s a question!”  Someone chimes in.  “Never ever have I been-”

“Whoa!”  Thalia raises her voice, jumping from the bench.  “That’s my cue to leave.  You math department people are too hard core for me.  I’m out.”

She starts pushing the girl next to her and the three people on the outer end of the booth slide out for Thalia to make her exit.

The boy in the baseball cap teases, “What?  Us talking about ‘doing the beast with two backs’ is too much for you?  Thought you loved that Shakespeare shit?”

Thalia laughs, grabbing another chicken wing to go, wobbling for a moment on her feet.

Donaldo, Tom thinks, remembering his name, chimes in. “Hiddleston? She’s your teaching assistant.”  He gives the man a shove on his arm.  “You can’t let her go out into the dark night, half drunk and alone.  Be a gentleman and at least walk her to her car.”

The red head pipes up as Tom begins to slide out of the booth.  “Actually Professor,” her hand squeezing his thigh.  “I’m a little too drunk also.  Think you can give me a ride home?”

Bloody hell.  He sighs.  “Sure, why not?  Who else needs a ride?”  Seeing Thalia starting to walk away, he reaches his hand out to her arm and feels the spark of electricity between them.  He wants to get her alone quickly.  “Ms. Bar- Thalia.  Wait.  I’ll drive you and a few of the others home; you’ve all had a bit much to drink.”

She wobbles again.  “Really, sir,”  she smiles slowly.  “I haven’t had that much to drink.  It’s these damn heels.”

“Uh- huh.  Right.”  He steps closer to her, smelling the alcohol on her breath.  “Just wait.”

Turning back to the table, he sees the party is splitting up and one of the other faculty members from a smaller table nearby is offering to take a group home also.  The two men divide up the students based on where their ‘deliveries’ need to be made and Tom is more than pleased to note the redhead will be in the other car.  As the group exits the pub, he’s fairly sure she’s the one trying to grab his ass.

Click here to read Chapter 23 Ride Home

Copyright © 2017  avenger-nerd-mom.  All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom and devikafernando

Bliss

et ch 21 Bliss

Chapter 21

Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom & @devikafernando

AU FICTION

A collaboration involving Professor Hiddleston and Professor Evans- The two are rivals at a posh New England university and have no idea they both have taken interest in the lovely Thalia Bareo. She’s a grad student with interests in language and history; a sassy full-figured Puerto Rican girl from Chicago.  Story updates are posted on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Word count: 3178

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, fingering, oral sex, fluff

Summary: Chris gets the chance to spend more time with Thalia, discovering he likes more than just her body.

Cover images found on Pinterest

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

Over the course of the next few cold winter weeks, Chris realizes Thalia adds light to his dark days.   He learns her schedule and finds spots to accidently run into her on campus, the easiest being quick meets in the school Commons.  Professors meet with students there all the time, so none would be the wiser as to their little rendezvous in plain sight.  His knee casually brushing against her leg or her hand bumping his while she reaches for the pepper, a knowing smile shared between them, always with research spread on the table in front of them.

The limited hours she has working with him each week allow him to see how her captivating mind works and he realizes he has a schoolboy crush on her.  He watches her work with such pride and admiration, but at the same time he can’t wait to get her alone and rip her clothes off and let her have her way with him.  Chris likes the ease of the give and take in their experiences together and observes her growing into herself as a sexual being.  He feels fortunate just to be along for the ride.

Most of their dates consist of him meeting her at the bar, some nights coming in to talk with her by chance, not to arise suspicions from Jim, and often going home alone.  He just enjoys the company of having someone near.  He plays pool with the regulars and for pretense of being a single man, on occasion he flirts innocently with other women who come into the bar.  The dirty little hole in the wall establishment doesn’t often bring in the most savory of characters.  Chris loves watching Thalia adapt to this role, affecting a different personality to fit in rather than to use her education to stand above.

It’s amazing how she holds herself so confidently in both worlds. It’s sexy as sin and he wants to see more of it, in both arenas.

He pauses when he hears her enter the room.  Shaking his head he can’t believe he got caught.  Lost in his thoughts, he hadn’t been paying attention to listen for the water to shut off.  He grimaces as he clutches her sweater in his hand.

“Christopher!”  Thalia giggles, her tone playful and boisterous. “Just what the hell are you doing in my closet?  I mean, really, I have handled all your kinks, but really that would be-”  She stops talking when the sweater hits her in the face and she releases a mock squeal of astonishment.

He doesn’t acknowledge her tease, and says the first thing that comes to his mind.  “God, you’re beautiful,” he admires, his voice dropping to a low rumble, the sound vibrating in his chest.

Clad only in a towel from her shower and another wrapped around her head, her skin glows with a sheen of lotions and oils.  The towel tucks between her ample breasts and creates a natural draw for his eyes.  With her hands on her hip, the terry cloth pulls away slightly, exposing thick thighs with just a hint of space between them.  A space where he’d like to be, he thinks as he falls to his knees in front of her, ready to worship at her altar.

“You’re changing the subject,” she hisses as his hands snake up her legs and the top of his buzz cut head follows their path.  Taking a few steps back, she rests on the end of the bed and he crawls to chase after her, taking up the same spot and spreading her for his feast.

He starts slow and methodically licking a stripe down the sides of each puffy pink lip, enjoying the smooth result of her recent afternoon at the spa.  Nipping and flicking his tongue across the flesh, her arousal begins.  His texts to her all evening already have her on “go” and she rubs at the top of his head, small keening sounds encouraging him to delve deeper.  His hands run up her sides, kneading and caressing over her warm and fragrant skin.  He gropes at her abundant tits while his tongue takes its first leisurely swipe between her folds, eliciting a lusty response from deep within.  “I fuckin’ love your sounds, baby girl, don’t hold any back from me tonight.” Sampling her again, his cock rises to the wanton melodies she creates.  His voice drips with his own desire as he shares his secret wish with her. “I wanna hear them echo in my ears tomorrow when we sit and work with the team in my office.”

“Oh, fuck,” she whispers, pulling back on the nape of his neck and leaning to him for a kiss.  Raising up on his knees he meets her and their lips wrap together.  Their needy kisses flow one after another as he flicks his tongue through her mouth sharing her tangy sweet taste. From one welcoming hole to the next, Chris drops back down and continues his task, making quick work of driving her to a frenzy as she grips his shirt tighter and tighter.  “Lay back, Niña, so I can have more of you,” he growls.

He pushes her to the bed and holds her down tightly with one hand while the other begins to slide in and out of her slick.  Teasing and pulling at her clit with his teeth he brings her to new heights, her sounds growing in volume.  Smearing around the wet, he slips over her taint and smiles at her involuntary jump, bringing to mind beautiful images of what he’d like to do to her.  As his fingers work faster, her breath catches and the noises echo in the cold room.

“Look at me,” she commands of him.  Lifting onto her elbows she cries out to him, her voice raspy and thick.  “Fuck me, baby, make me come.”

His vision holds with the depths of her melted chocolate brown eyes, her hair wet and wild tumbling down over her shoulders.  It’s quite possible she’s never looked more beautiful.  His mouth moves over her cunt, sliding his hands out and bringing both down over her thighs, pushing his thumbs over her taint.  His hold on her free, she thrusts up as his whole mouth latches over her sweet hole, delivering the sweetest of French kisses.  Writhing against him, grabbing the sheets, she comes all over his tongue as he laps it up quickly, not wanting to waste a single drop.  Her cries wither to quiet mewls and he pulls back slowly, washing over her with his tongue and cleaning her well.  Sitting back on his heels he watches with satisfaction as her eyes roll back and she collapses to the bed.  “Damn, I love that.”

Her scent fresh on his fingers, he wipes her succulent juice from his scruffy chin and scrambles up beside her on the bed.  She flops her head to the side and beams at him as he teases her with his fingers. “Rather delectable… Would you like to try?”

Nodding imperceptibly her pupils dilate and her breathing halts.  Her pink tongue flicks over her swollen lips,  gifting them with a dewy shine.  His finger tip follows the same motion spreading her come on them to share before kissing her.  Gathering the last from his beard, he touches his finger to her lip anew. Tentatively she tags him with the tip of her tongue and he pulls down at the entrance of her mouth and pushes inside with his finger.  Closing around him, she sucks him clean, humming at the deed with a silent promise for his later.

chris and thalia

#

Falling into their Sunday afternoon routine they take up residency on their respective ends of the couch, Thalia needing space to spread out her books.  Today the task at hand seems to be creating note cards for an upcoming presentation.  Chris absently watches her work as she chews on the tip of her pen and twirls her hair.  Smiling, she looks up and his heart fills with joy.  He winks at her and turns his attention back to his computer, several tabs open on shopping sites, searching for just the right something to showcase her beauty and her luscious figure.  Just the thing to stop him in his tracks when he sees her walking across campus so he can think, “Damn, I know what’s under that.”

With a few clicks, his choices are made, and he realizes it was so worth getting caught coming out of her closet.  He shakes his head at his own joke, but he didn’t want to order something that wouldn’t fit, so he had to do a little spy work.  Chuckling inwardly, he opens a browser for the afternoon football game he wants to watch.  A TV.  A TV might need to be another gift for her little space, but she always seems so offended when he suggests it, he hasn’t stepped over that boundary.

He hates feeling like they’re a couple when they really aren’t.  Are they?  He can’t be seen in public with her, can’t take her to the movies, or hold her hand walking across campus.  But he feels like they’re a couple.  He stays at her place once or twice a week; when she studies in his office, she cuddles under his arm on the couch; she sometimes brings fresh fruit to add to his morning yogurt.  Those are ‘couple things,’ right?  Hell, has dating become so complicated, he’s forgotten how, or has he simply fallen back into the role of “caretaker” as he had before he and his wife drifted apart?

Staring at the screen, the game isn’t going as he hoped and his mind wanders.  Is that all a relationship is?  Finding someone you want to take care of and be with, and if the sex is great, added bonus?  In his failed therapy sessions, he never came to a true answer as to why his wife left him for another man, other than “she’s a bitch.”  It always seemed like he was doing everything right- buying her favorite flowers, doing things to help her out, taking care of Avery when she was working, making sure he kept their sex life active when everything else seemed to pull them in other directions.  He still isn’t sure if he did anything wrong, but it’s-

“Earth to Evans?”  Thalia is snapping her fingers in his face.  “Where’d you go, babe?  I lost ya there…”  She rests her arm on his bicep and administers a gentle squeeze.  “Everything okay?”

Closing the computer, he smiles slowly.  “Yeah, just thinking about stuff I gotta do this week.  Hey, do you wanna get outta here for a bit?  We’ve been cooped up too long, and it’s not terribly cold out today.”

Tossing her curly head, she laughs.  “You didn’t hear a word I said, did you?”  Giggling when he sheepishly hangs his head, she tosses a pillow at him.  “Get off your lazy ass.  We are going out.  My neighbor texted. She still hasn’t made her ‘walk of shame’ and she needs to make sure her dog gets a walk.  We’ve got to go find Dory.”

Chris adds resistance to her pulls as she tries to lift him off the couch and she topples into his lap and he dots her face with a few sweet kisses.  He wants to banish away his sad thoughts.  The expression on her face tells him she understands his actions and she rubs gently over the fuzz on his buzzed head.

“Dory?  Um, Isn’t that a better name for a fish?”  Chris asks, leaning his ass against the door and balancing on one foot as he pulls on his shoes and ties the laces.  She hands him his winter coat from the back of the chair and quickly shrugs into hers before he has a chance to help her.  While she’s distracted, looking for her keys, he tugs the pink tail of her scarf from her pocket and hides it behind his back.

“The dog’s name wasn’t originally Dory.  Chelley and I don’t even remember the his original name…  It was just a really damn stupid dog.”  She chuckles, stuffing her hands in her pockets and only pulling out her gloves.  She spins in circles, looking to see if she dropped it on the floor.  “I know that’s horrible to say, but it’s true.”

She freezes with a cute, frustrated look on her face; true consternation and Chris can’t contain his laughter as he dangles the hand-knit scarf out in front of her.  “Come here,” he says quietly.  He takes her hair and sweeps it back, holding it up and out of the way as he drapes the scarf over her shoulders with his other hand.  Hanging loosely down over her breasts, he runs his hands down over her form, hidden under the downy comfort of the winter wear.  Even so, her eyes still close and her head tilts back as he caresses over her full breasts, reaching for the dangling tassels at the bottom of the scarf and wrapping them loosely around her neck, his fingertips grazing across her exposed skin at her throat.

Lifting her head to him, she sighs.  “Only you could make this hideous get up sensual.  I feel like half my life is cold Northern Winter weather and I look like the Michelin man, all round and puffy.  So I dream about moving south; but then I think, no one wants to see me running around in sundresses all the time to compensate for the heat.”

He follows her into the hallway, listening to her ramble about weather and clothes and really all he hears is her damn sexy raspy voice.  He follows her up the stairs to the neighbor’s apartment and informs her, “Me.  I wanna see that.  You in skimpy sundresses, a beach?  What are we doing for Spring Break?”

Unlocking the door, she stares at him incredulously.  “We??  What do you mean ‘what are we doing?’  Christopher Evans, have you lost your damn mind?”

If it hadn’t been for the scratching on the door, Chris would have shown her exactly how much she makes him lose his mind.  The minute she opens the door, Dory pops out, so excited to see people.  The fluffy mutt jumps up on him, paws on his chest, sniffing and hoping to make friends.  “Dory!  Down.  Bad dog.  We don’t jump on people.”

The dog sits down next to her, reacting to her voice as she holds her hand to him to sniff.  “Wanna go for a walk?  Wanna go to the park?”

The dog dips his head, as if to say yes.  “Get your leash,” she commands and the dog runs back inside stopping at a basket by the TV.  “Good boy,” she pats his head, bending for it and attaching it to the dog’s collar.  Closing the door, she says to Chris.  “Well, I don’t know what you plan to do during the week off, but I’m working, studying, and beginning prep for finals.  And I have hours to complete on campus for work study.  Some of us actually work when we work, ya know.”

Exiting the building, she motions to the left and Chris follows her lead, the pup bounding ahead of them as far as the leash will let him.  She hands over the reigns to Chris while she puts on her gloves and he happily keeps it from her.  “Thalia, I didn’t mean it like that.  I mean… I guess.  Shit.  I wanna make plans with you.  I wanna do things with you and not feel like we just hang out at your place.  Do you get some time off?  We could drive out to the beach one day, or for kicks, you come stay at my house a day or two?  Let me take care of you.”

Thalia stops at the corner, waiting for the light to change.  Watching her, the wind blows her hair around her face and her cheeks blossom in the cold wind. Even when the light indicates they can move forward, she stays frozen in her spot.  Dory lurches forward, unsure why Chris won’t move.

“Did I say something wrong?”  he asks tucking the end of the scarf back inside the loop around her neck.  The dog runs a lap around them and they become tangled in the leash.  Not that he plans on going anywhere till Thalia gives her okay….

Eyes glistening with tears, her hand covers her face.  “Oh, my God.  You are literally the most insane, adorable man I’ve ever met…  You just go through life with no plan other than fun, don’t you?”

Shrugging his shoulders he simply says, “There’s nothing wrong with that; less stress that way.  I can’t be doing it all wrong.  I’m a successful professor, a well known historian and a good dad.  And managed to snag a hot, young co-ed…”

Resting her gloved hand on his chest, she pats him sweetly and rises on her tiptoes to kiss the tip of his nose, then slides down, pushing her body against him and pressing her lips to his.  In the cold, their warm air puffs in a cloud between them as their lips gently dance, kisses growing with intensity.  They only break apart when a passing car honks at them and she bows her head, hiding behind some of her curls.

Taking his hand, she leads him across the street.  “Nothing wrong with it at all.  In fact, that’s probably something you need to teach me- how not to work so hard.”  She sighs.  “So.  Staying at your house a few days, huh?  Can we crank up the heat and pretend it’s a fancy vacation destination and play music full of steel drums?”

“And drinks with coconut rum and little umbrellas in them if that’s what you want. Hell, I’ll even get a sandbox and we can pretend it’s the beach.  Anything that will help you relax and enjoy a vacation for a few days, Niña…”

She opens the gate to the little neighborhood dog park and lets Dory off his leash, laughing when he trots over to ‘check in’ with friends.  Chris and Thalia find an empty bench and snuggle side by side to ward off the cold.  “Chris, that’s still weeks away.  I mean are you sure you wanna-”

His lips crash against hers, effectively shutting her up.  Separating with a tug to her lip between his teeth, he teases, “You talk too much.  You’ve already said your stepmother is coming for Valentine’s Day and you can’t see… anyone.  I want to do something ‘date-like.’ With you.  I don’t care if it’s weeks away.”   He slides his hands between her thighs and rests them there to keep them warm, having forgotten his gloves on the table by the door in her apartment.  “And just think of all the nights in between now and then…”  Nibbling on her ear, he whispers some of those ideas to her while Dory runs around the park.

Click to Chapter 22 Drinking Games 

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