Mine Tonight

ET ch 27 Mine tonight June 4 2017

Chapter 27

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: 4654

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, food porn, NSFW, nipple play, oral sex, face fuck, delayed gratification, edging, denied orgasm

Summary:  Chris takes Thalia on a date since their last meeting in public lead to a fight.  This time he intends to make it perfect.

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

The next night, Chris can’t believe how beautiful she looks in the wrap style red dress with a simple gold chain at her neck.  The little pendant falls just so in her bountiful cleavage and he can’t wait to take a closer look at it later.  The heels honestly make her the same height as him, and he’s so honored to have her on his arm as the whole place seems to watch them walk to their table.  Her shoulders are back and her head is held high, but with his hand on the small of her back, he can feel her trembling, a total ball of nerves.  Holding her seat out for her, as she sits, he can’t help the small whistle of appreciation that escapes his lips.  “Christopher!  Behave yourself,” she admonishes him, her smile growing by the minute.

Pushing her chair in, he leans down over her shoulder, whispering in her ear.  “So does that dress have one or two ties holding it closed?”

“Stop it!” She blushes as she swats his arm.

Taking the seat closest to her, she eyes him warily.  “I believe it’s proper etiquette to sit across from the lady at dinner so you can admire her.  You’re in the wrong seat, sir.”

She halts her teasing when the waiter comes to take their drink orders.  Chris watches her bite her lip as his hand runs up her thigh, holding back his own laughter when she clamps her legs shut tight.

Pushing his hand away when the waiter leaves, she rises proper again.  “Chris, stop.  I mean,” she shakes her head and blushes.  “Chris.  I really don’t want you to stop, but,” she sighs and scrunches her face up the way she sometimes does when she doesn’t want to say what she needs to say that Chris finds so adorable.

“When you do that, and scrunch your nose and pout out your lips, it’s adorable,” Chris tells her.

Blushing, the pink rose brings out her freckles and he leans back in his seat, placing his hands on the table.  “What did you want to tell me, Niña?

She tilts her head back and pushes her hair from her face.  This is going to be a long night if he can’t stop his thoughts or his hands.  “Babe, I rarely get taken on ‘fancy’ dates like this.”  She gestures to the menu, “I don’t even know what half this stuff is; it’s exciting and makes me feel special.  I want to enjoy it.  I’ve worked in restaurants before.” Her hand rests on his, laying on the table.  “The staff always knows when the woman is getting groped under the table; I don’t want to be that gi- that woman tonight.  Please.”  She licks her lips nervously waiting for his response.

Nodding his head, he takes a drink of water with his free hand.  With his other, he turns it slowly and slides his fingers to entwine with hers.  “I understand; tonight is about you.” Reaching across he tucks her hair behind her ear and says, “Anything you want, just ask.  But I can’t control my thoughts and when I get you home with me tonight, you’re all mine.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she grins.

Scouring the menu, they both make their decisions and laugh at the combination of fruits and vegetables in the salad.  She tears off a small bite of the seasoned garlic bread and her absolute joy is heavenly.  “Carbs,” she whispers.  “Oh, my God…”

“What are talking about?”  Laughing as he dips his bread in the olive oil.  “So we don’t ‘date’ but we eat together a lot.  I’ve seen you eat pizza, pancakes and hamburgers and those-”

“You know, as an adult male, those are really unhealthy food options.  I should feed you better,” she giggles.  “A Puerto Rican girl this size? She can cook!  Arroz con gandules…. Oh, as cold as it’s been I should fix asopao.  No. No, you’re Italian, I should make pastelón!  You’ll never want regular lasagna again.”

Her eyes gleam and dance, her accent growing thick as the foreign words fall from her lips.  “Yes to all of it, whatever you want, considering I have no idea what any of that is, but I love hearing you say it.   Growing up, did your family visit Puerto Rico?”

Thalia tells him her adventures as a child visiting her father’s family and running through the fields of sugarcane with her cousins who still lived on the island. She pauses long enough for the waiter to serve their meals and she turns her questions to him, asking about his travels and journeys as a historian.  Through discussion they even discover at one point they had both been swimming in the caves at Grand Cenote on the Yucatan peninsula within days of one another and had been to many ‘off the map’ historic stops, leaving them to wonder if they had crossed paths years before, when Thalia was still an undergrad.

The conversation flows freely and lightly.  Chris watches in awe as he can see her brain jump from one topic to the next and she shares so many random facts about the places they’ve both seen, things he didn’t even know.  Her skin glows in the candle light on the table and as she relaxes, her posture falls a bit, allowing the front of her dress to gape just enough to provide him with a lovely view.  Occasionally she rubs her leg against his and smiles innocently.  But the damn little lick of her lip lets him know she knows exactly what she’s doing.

When the meal winds down, Chris wipes his mouth on his napkin and lays it next to his plate.  “So Miss Teaching Assistant; what’s my grade?  Did I pass our first date?  You’re not still mad at me like the other night?  I wasn’t sure who to worry more about- you killing me or Jim?”

A quick pink rises up her chest and across her cheeks.  “Sorry about that little display.  Oh, but thank you by the way for the heater; you didn’t have to do that; you never answered my text? And I really hate presents, just so you know.” Tilting her head from side to side, she rubs her lips together.  “I was having a really bad day, but you know about that?  You reported the creep?  I heard about that…”  Her eyes drop briefly and the shade of pink grows darker.  “I spoke in anger, and I said things I didn’t me-”

Putting his hand over hers, “Thalia, you were right.  You’re too amazing to keep hidden away.  I should be taking you out, enjoying things with you.  And I sure as hell hope I’ve never made you feel the way you said.  If I did, I’m so, so sorry, and I will do everything I can to fix it. If I’ve ever made you feel not important or special to me-” Stopping himself he sighs.  He scoffs.  “Wanna hear something funny?  Everyone knew how crazy I was about my wife.   Oh, I know girls took my class just to get a look at me, and there were jokes about trading favors for As, but none of that was true.  Thalia, you are the first woman to catch my eye since my divorce.”  He grasps her hands and moves closer to her, looking into her dark eyes.  “I wanna make sure you hear this… When I make a commitment, I’m there.  I’m all in.  I may have sown a few wild oats after the divorce; I’d been with the same woman since I was twenty- two.  But revenge sex wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and at my age now, I grew tired of it.  I hadn’t been with anyone in nearly five months till you came along.  You are important to me. And too bad, there will be more gifts because I like getting little things for people I care about.  It’s no different than you making me dinner or bringing me breakfast on days we work together.”  He winks at her, removing his glasses and putting them in his coat pocket.  “And if I haven’t said it before, or made you feel it, shame on me.  I’d like to make that up to you tonight, if you’ll let me.”

Her eyes are wide with his confession and he wonders what she thinks. As he’s been talking her mouth has slowly dropped open, breathing as though she can’t get enough air and her hands are warm in his.  “Yes, Chris, I’d like that.  Very much.” Dropping her eyes, she blushes and says quietly, “You’re important to me too.  I like the time we share together.  It’s… different.”

Briefly he wonders if she means ‘different’ as in how the other man in her life treats her,or ‘different’ in general to past experiences.  For a split second, he considers asking her. But this isn’t the time or place and secretly he prides himself on keeping his jealousy to himself.  He has to make himself look good and doesn’t want to tip his hand, and show her how damn envious he really is.  “I like hearing that Thalia… I hope you don’t mind, but I have other plans for us tonight and I’d like-”

“No dessert?  Chris, you can’t take a fat girl to a fancy restaurant like this and not have dessert,” she laughs, tugging on his arm playfully.

“You’re not fat, dammit, and I know you’re saying that now as a joke, but I really wish you wouldn’t.”  His hand brushes against her thigh under the table and he feels her tremble as her breath catches and he moves closer to her.  Sweeping her hair over her shoulder, his fingers drag gently through her long tresses and her tongue flicks out to lick her lips in desire. “I like when you tremble at my touch, Niña.  It shows me you’re mine and you want me.  Every man in this room has their eyes on you; they want you.”  Leaning in the smell of sweet orchids on her skin fills his nose and heightens his senses.  “They are jealous of me and envision things we might do, and wish it was them.  And the women are envious of your beautiful hair and glowing skin.  You look positively radiant tonight darling.  Red is definitely your color.”

Tears rim her eyes and she blinks them away.  “I’m beautiful to you, Chris.  Thank you, but not everyone else sees me that way.”

He wonders again about her other companion and slowly pushes his chair back, signaling to the waiter.  “I’m sure someone does,” his tone hardens for a moment.  To the waiter, he simply hands over his credit card and asks for the rest of their meal to be boxed up.  Another server arrives to carry things away.  “I have a special treat planned for later, Niña.  You’ll get more than one type of sweet treat later, I promise.”

Giggling she shakes her head and pushes her chair back.  Chris rises as she does and she excuses herself to the ladies room.  Eyeing her as she saunters away, he worships the sway of her hips, the form fitting dress showing off every curve.

#

Driving back into town, holding hands tightly in her lap, she watches the city pass through the window.  Taking his eyes from the road, he views her strong profile and his heart flips.  Turning to him, she winks at catching his gaze.  “Where are we?  I don’t recognize this part of town.”

“I wanted to be away from campus; found a duplex housing unit that had a playground for Avery.”

“Oh,” she whispers quietly.  “So we’re going back to your house?”

Sensing her hesitancy, he provides an out.  “We don’t have to; we can go back to your place… Or we can get a hotel?”

“No. No hotels.”  She fidgets in her seat, looking out the window as she gathers her thoughts.  In her quiet husky tone she admits, “It just feels really… intimate.  That’s your home, with your daughter.  Are you sure?”

Raising their hands to his lips, he turns the car down the dark road and gently kisses the back of her hand.  Sighing happily, he tells her.  “I appreciate your concern, Thalia, but I‘m a grown man.  I wouldn’t bring you here if I didn’t want you to be a part of my life, whatever part of it you want.  Avery’s not here, of course, and to be honest, I haven’t decided yet about you two meeting.  She’d love you, and no one can help but fall in love with her. It’s just-”

“If she’s half as amazing as her dad, I’m sure I would adore her.  Babe, you don’t have to explain it to me.” Her eyes glisten in the dark.  “Kid of divorce.  I get it.  It takes a special person to take on additional baggage.  Some days I feel like just a kid myself…” Her voice changes.  “And no child should be subjected to growing attached to new people who appear in their lives just as suddenly as they leave.  You’ll know when and if it’s right for us to meet…”

In the driveway, he places the car in park.  “Thalia Bareo, I don’t think there’s anything you can’t handle.  You’re so giving and flexible, and you-”

Her giggles stop him and he starts laughing too.  “And you have a very filthy mind, and I adore that.”

Reaching over to her in the dark he wraps his fingers in her thick mass of curls and she doesn’t even wait for him to pull her close.  Their lips collide in the middle, meeting over the damn center console.  Her hands grip his tie and yanks him to her as their mouths open and their tongues caress against one another and she releases a lusty sigh. “Been waiting on you all night to do that; took you long enough,” she teases.

His hands reach into her warm winter coat and he pulls away at the top of her dress, groping at her full breast under the satin and lace.  Loudly she moans against his mouth and his cock stirs.  God, he wants her.  He wastes no time and pushes her back, leaning over the center divide between them to rest against her as he kneads at the tender flesh peeking out of her bra.  Shoving the fabric aside he exposes one of her dark nipples to the cold air and pinches it between his fingers. Greedy, his kisses grow with intensity as he alternates between kissing her deeply and nipping at her swollen lips.  While their mouths reacquaint with one another, Thalia loosens his tie and makes haste with the buttons on his crisp white dress shirt.

Cold from the winter air her hands dart across his skin in feather light touches, running her fingertips through the soft scattering of hair on his chest.  Sliding his mouth down over her jawline, he licks a stripe of wet along her exposed graceful neck before nibbling back up to her ear.  She tilts her head back against the cold glass window and she finds her words again.  “We’re not fourteen and you’re gonna hurt yourself there, big boy,” she teases as her hands slide down to rest on his waist, his hard cock pressing into her belly.  “And it’s cold as hell out here. I’m assuming your bed is warmer?”

Climbing off her, he collapses into his seat.  “I knew I should have asked for the mini-van in the divorce,” he chuckles, squeezing her fingertips.

She simply rolls her eyes.  “I’m a lady, kind sir.  I don’t shag in a vehicle,” she teases with the mocked air of royalty.

“Fine, Princess.  Stay seated, let me help you.  The driveway is slick.”  Looking over to her beautifully aroused body he reaches across and pulls her dress back in place over her exposed breasts.  “Wrap back up.  It’s cold, and I don’t want you getting sick.”

Getting out of the car and watching for ice himself, he mumbles aloud.  “‘I don’t want you getting sick.’  Hell, I’m not her father. That’s just weird, Chris, get it together.”

A sound makes him look at her through the front window and he sees her hiding behind her hand, her eyes wide.  He raises his arms to shrug a silent question and slips on the ice, catching himself on the grill of the car.  “Fuck,” he mutters. “Good going. Throw out your back like on old man before you can even get her in bed, Jesus fuckin’-”

Reaching for her door handle, he laughs when he opens it and she has a small pair of flats sitting in her lap.  “Is that why your purse is so big? You had shoes in there?  Or is it like a closet door to Narnia,” he teases.

Spinning around on her ample bottom, her skirt hikes up, exposing her bare thigh as she swings her feet out to the ground.   His eyes follow along the long stretch of her leg as she quickly removes her heels and replaces them with the flats.  “A Narnia reference, really? I would have gone with Hermione’s handbag myself.”

“Who?” he laughs but loses his attention when she runs her hand down her leg to put on the other slipper.  Damn.  The image of her hands caressing over her dark skin makes him hard.  He’s been holding his thoughts in all evening and now he can allow them to run free. A release of sorts…

“The heels go back on later,” he says gruffly, thankful for the long winter wool coat hiding his growing bulge. “Were you laughing at me?”

Nodding her head vigorously her curls shake rapidly.  “I was! I could hear you talking to yourself, you fool.” She blushes and her smile grins from ear to ear. “Its sweet you worry about me but please, dear God, don’t throw out your back,” she giggles again, hiding behind her hand.

Blushing, he whispers, “Damn. You weren’t supposed to hear all that.”

He holds his arm out to her and she rises carefully, making sure the surface isn’t slick.  Out of the car, he kisses her again, inhaling her warm breath and then blowing it back out to see the bubble of condensation released into the winter night air.  Reaching for the left overs in the back seat, he then holds his arm to her, crooked at the elbow for her to link hers in his.  “If we fall, I’m grabbing for the steaks and you have to fend for yourself,” she tells him and they both nearly fall on the patch of ice when they throw their heads back in laughter.

Walking up the front sidewalk, he’s focused on their steps, so they don’t get hurt. She makes him feel young and vibrant, and he almost wishes they were dressed better for an impromptu snowball fight.  The idea makes him smile, picturing the two of them rolling around in the snow, trying to shove it down each other’s shirts and going inside later for a hot shower to warm up and-

“What the hell!”   He’s startled by the cold against his cheek and neck.

“You squeal like a girl!”  Laughing, she drops his arm and moves quickly ahead, more snow from the bushes in her gloved  hands.  “Chicago, babe.  I know how to pack a snowball.”  She throws it and hits him squarely in the chest.

“Fuck!” He shouts stalking towards her as she grabs the porch rail and moves away from him. “Tomorrow. Tomorrow we will dress for a proper fight, and I will show you how a Boston boy makes snowballs.”

“Boston boys are all talk,” she taunts him brushing the snow from his coat while he unlocks the front door.

Her playful smile tugs at his heart but he doesn’t want to let his guard down now.

The door unlocked, he quickly snakes his free hand around her waist, pulling her close.  “Lucky for you we’re all action too,” he says, kicking the door open and walking her backwards over the threshold.  Closing it against the cold air, he tosses the bag of food on the floor and spins her, pinning her back against the wooden door.

“Oh, really? Next thing you know, you’ll be trying to tell me Fenway’s better than Wrigley,” she taunts, her breathing already labored as he pulls at the buttons on her coat and rocks his body against hers, his mouth devouring her neck.

He bites roughly and she sucks in the air deeply, but no sound is released. Her head falls to the side, silent approval of his force and he bites again, his hands finally inside her coat.  He growls against her skin, “I’m going to forget you said that.  I’m going to make you forget everything tonight. You’re mine tonight, Thalia, do you understand me?”

“All yours, babe.” The smile is evident in her voice.

His lips continue to lick and suck her neck, but he doesn’t leave any marks.  Not yet.  His hands rub firmly over the front of her body and he grabs the lapels of her coat, pulling her close and away from the door.  Quickly he yanks it off of her and then removes his as her hands grasp at his tie- the tie she gave him, and tugs at the other buttons on his shirt. Pulling harder than intended, she gasps when one little disk flies off and her mouth forms a perfectly round “oh.”

“Oh, baby, that’s so beautiful when your mouth does that.” He runs his fingertip across her glossed lips as she pushes his shirt back over his shoulders, and down his arms.  Her tongue teases the rough pad of skin and he dips his finger inside her mouth.  Her eyes instantaneously darken and the heated sound she makes is very primal, hitting Chris in his gut.  Her lips wrap around his finger and her tongue strokes the length.  One hand still claws at his bicep, but the other takes hold of his hand at her mouth.  Gripping his wrist tightly, she slides his hand in and out, a promise of what’s to happen.

Chris can’t take it.  His voice is dark and deep.  “Fuuuck… On your knees.  Do it again.”

Stepping back slightly, he makes room for her, staring in disbelief as she tugs free the ties from her dress and it falls open to reveal a cream colored satin lingerie set with black lace.  The outline of her new tattoo peeks above the lace and he can’t wait to feast his eyes and lips upon the ink stain on her skin.  She shimmies out of the covering and drops to her knees, grabbing for his belt buckle and pulling on it roughly.  “Beautiful, Thalia. Fucking beautiful,” he sighs as her manicured nails tease at his bulge hidden in his dress slacks.

His head drops forward to watch her as she tugs free the belt from his waist.  He shrugs the shirt from his shoulders, pulling it loose from the waist of his pants.  When she she tilts her head  back and their eyes connect he is lost in their chocolate depths.  Dark and husky she asks, “Can I touch you?”

Asking permission.  Fuck, that’s so hot.  He simply grunts in response, at a loss for words.

Slowly her hand slides the zipper down, feathering her fingers along the exposed fabric of his boxer briefs.  Uncontrollably he jumps at the attention and his cock throbs for more of her touch.  He just wants to tell her to hurry up, but she deserves the right to some control as well.  She’s so damn good at it.  His precome seeps through the elastic waistband as her hand reaches in his pants and cups under his balls,the fabric rough against his tight skin. Lifting up from her knees, she brings her mouth to his covered cock and blows warmly across him.

Weakened by the open mouthed kisses she places on the cotton fabric, he clutches his hands at his side, bracing himself not to rush her.  Her breath hot, her nose brushes from his base to the tip.  Tucking her fingers in the waist of his pants, she pulls both garments down tugging over the curve of his toned ass.  As he pops free his hard shaft springs into her face and she instantly takes it into her mouth, pushing his pants down his long legs.  Her lips tease just his head and he falls forward reaching out to the closed door to catch himself. Tantalizingly her tongue swirls around the swollen tip as she taps his leg to step out of the clothing.  Caressing her hands up the backs of his legs she squeezes and pulls his ass cheeks and his heightened breaths fill the air.  “So fucking good, Niña.”

She begins to take skillful measures with her tongue and teeth, skimming over his veiny ridges as she sucks him into her mouth.  His free hand grasps her hair and pulls it tight and she stops, understanding the unspoken command.  Stretched, her mouth still holds him.  The longer he makes her wait he can feel her salivating, her mouth literally watering for him.

“Do you want it?” he asks gruffly, tugging her hair.

Her teeth clamp on him, but not too rough and her muffled sound is affirmative.  Releasing her pressure, he wraps her hair tighter around his hand and grasps the back of her head, holding her still as he begins to face fuck her, reaching the back of her throat and she takes every inch.  Her eyes watering, he slows as her hands slide around the front of his thighs and her thumbs push against his taint. His moans fill the air and his sac tightens.  The caresses of her hands and mouth are just perfect and he’d love nothing more than to shoot his load into her mouth.  Loosening the grip on the back of her head, her hands continue kneading him and slip around to gently hold his balls, rolling them between her fingers. The other hand grasps his shaft, adding a sinful stroking motion to coincide with the sliding of her hot pink lips.

The vision below him is heaven and he’s so close to coming.  His hand wraps over the top of hers and he aids with the pulling and tugging, adding extra force.  The feeling wells up from his toes but he holds back, not wanting the sensation to end.  Tilting her head up her eyes are full of lust as he watches her glide across his cock again.

Thalia pulls off with an echoing smack.  Still stroking him, eyes connected with his, her smile grows wide and devilish.  Her hands still and she rises up to a standing position, confined in the space between him and the door.  She wipes the spit from her lips and flicks her tongue out quickly.

Chris can’t believe it.  She’s carried him to the brink and stopped…  He chuckles and bites his lip, continuing to pump on his own.  Thalia leans her ass against the door, reaching through the pile of clothes for her discarded heels.  She lifts one leg and slides a shoe on as he had requested, then repeats the same with the other, running her hands up her curvy legs, stopping at the top of her thick thighs to adjust her panties.

“I’d stop that if I were you.  I didn’t say you could come yet,” she declares as she walks out from under his arm, the confident clicking of her shoes against the hardwood floors.  His silk tie is in her hand and trailing the floor behind her.  “You promised dessert.  Where’s the kitchen?”

Pure evil.  Pure sass. Pure Thalia.

Click here to read Chapter 28 Just Desserts

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

 

 

 

 

It’s Complicated

et 24 Its complicated may 24 2017.png

Chapter 24

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:  6000 IT’S LONG BUT IT WAS NECESSARY- SORRY!

Warnings:  : Language, Adult Situations, stepfamilies, food porn, drinking, NSFW, fingering, exhibitionism, angst, real life discussions

Summary: Thalia enjoys some time out alone with her stepmother, glad she didn’t have to choose between her suitors for Valentine’s Day, but missing them.

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

Tired from the long day of classes, the drive into the city, and a few errands, Thalia hides her yawn as she sits at the table. The two women pour over the menu.  The older blonde, polished and sophisticated, taps the table with her perfectly manicured nails.  Looking over the top of her reading glasses, she asks the young woman what she plans to order.

“Mmm… I can’t decide,”  Thalia admits.  “It all looks so good, my mouth is watering just reading the descriptions.”  She happily sighs.  “I think the fish with a baked potato and the house salad?  And their garlic bread is to die for!”

“Thalia, that’s a lot of food?  You really shouldn’t be eating all those carbs.  I mean, you look great, but…”  begins the older woman.

Thalia takes a deep breath, steeling herself as she carefully places the menu on the table.  She’s used to her stepmother acting this way, and she knows if they can get through the first hour without killing one another, they’ll end up having a great visit together.

Shaking her head slightly, she purrs.  “Stacey.  I’m never gonna be stick thin, like you.  I know my limitations and if I decide to indulge there’s always the gym tomorrow.  Besides.  I can’t eat too much tonight. Everyone knows tomorrow is half-price chocolate day!”  Smiling sweetly, she pats the woman’s hand.  “Thanks for always worrying about me, but I know my shape. Big and round.  And I’m learning to own it, and appreciate it.  I’m actually really healthy right now, Moms.”

The woman takes the younger woman’s hand and squeezes it.  “You do look great.  Really happy…”

She pauses their conversation as the waiter takes their order, appearing to be miffed they didn’t order the dinner special.  Thalia looks to her right and left and it’s an endless sea of couples with the steak dinner in front of them.

Picking up the conversation where it left off, her stepmother takes a sip of her wine before asking, “Would this have anything to do with the gentleman visitor at Christmas?”

Smiling when the waiter returns with the bread basket, Thalia takes a piece of the bread and smiles up at her mom secretly.  “Maybe, yea, a little.”  Pursing her lips together, she isn’t sure how much to give away.  “He’s… He’s really amazing.  So sweet and caring, and he…” She stops and shakes her head, realizing she’s talking about both men and almost hating how this sentence ends in her mind.  Cuz it’s fuckin’ true of them both, and for the thousandth time, she can’t believe she let this happen… Tearing off a piece of the bread, the warm cheese stretches between the two parts and she dips it in the olive oil before popping it in her mouth, chewing carefully.

“Thalia, spit it out.  What are you not telling me?” The woman prods.

“Fuck, Stacey.  It’s kind of a mess, but it’s also really wonderful.  And I think…” She props her elbow on the table and rubs her fingertips across her brow with exasperation.  “I think he loves me.” She shakes her head and laughs.  Both of them do, and she knows it, and it’s just a fucked up mess she’s created.  “We haven’t said it yet, but I think he loves me.  And not ‘in spite of’ my size, but partly because of it.”  Trying hard to control the grin on her face, she just can’t stop herself.  It is Valentine’s Day afterall…  “He’s really just… something else, ya know?”

Stacey stares in disbelief for a moment and then releases a happy squeal.  “Oh, my God, honey!  That’s so wonderful!  Do you love him back?  Is he cute?  Is he still in school?  Holy shit, I didn’t think you’d spill the goods before the food arrived,” she chuckles.  “It usually takes a pry-bar to get you to open up.  He must really be under your skin.”

Taking a drink of her wine, she tilts her head slightly to the side while dozens of images race through her mind of both Chris and Tom.  Her smile reaches all the way to her eyes and she feels she’s positively glowing in the candlelight.  Candles on the table.  Romance. Damn.  She leans forward and blows it out, the smell of smoke filling the air.  “In the best ways possible,” she hints.

Their salads arrive and Thalia picks off the tomatoes, laying them to the side.  The woman across from her raised her since she was nine and she adores her with all her heart, but she can’t bring herself to fully open up with all her sordid secrets.  Hell, she tries not to think about it herself.  Sometimes, she’s afraid if she opens up to someone, things are bound to topple over and smack her in the face. As if this is all some magical fairytale and as soon as she breathes a word about it, the bubble will burst. She doesn’t want to be judged – least of all in her own head, and she has a pretty good idea she’ll start doing that automatically if she shares the details of her secret little love triangle.

She tries her best to answer the questions without actually confessing anything.  Scoffing, she replies quickly.  “Yes, he is still in school,” grinning at her own little joke.  “Devilishly handsome.  Glasses.”  She tilts her head back, eyes closed and euphoric, and shakes her whole body happily. God, she’s such a nerd.  “He’s got the most adorable accent and he gets so excited about learning new things, he’s like a puppy sometimes, bouncing all over the place.”  In her mind she wonders again how two men so different can actually be so much alike…

“Thalia María Bareo!  You are in love with him!”  Stacey drops her fork and bounces with glee.  “I never thought I’d see the day, but you are head over heels for this guy.  Oh, man!  This is amazing, honey!  I’m so happy.”

Oh, fuck.  She’s right. Her step-mother is always right.  When the hell did that happen?

She quickly downs the rest of her wine and signals the waiter.  “Scotch on the rocks, please.”

She fends off a few more of Stacey’s questions, answering as obliquely as possible.  She doesn’t want to give her stepmother any details she can nail down.  Their conversation dies off as the food arrives.  Thalia turns her focus to her mother and asks the required questions about family and adopts an air of interest as Stacey talks about the convention she is attending in the city.  Her thoughts begin to drift to ‘kill me now, I’d never survive the business world’ when her phone begins to buzz, hopping all over the table.  ‘God Save the Queen’ chimes and Stacey looks confused as to the choice of song.

Wiping her mouth on her napkin, she lays it next to her plate.  “Stacey?  Can I?” She indicates she wants to check her phone and her stepmother frantically waves her approval, mouthing the words ‘is that him?’

“It’s a text.  He can’t hear you.”  She shakes her head at the woman’s flightiness. Thalia unlocks the screen to see a selfie of Tom, presumably laying on his bed, wearing the shirt she gave him and the book she found in an old shop lying on his chest.  The message reads I miss you, darling.  Have fun with your mother. Can we meet for tea and toast in the Commons in the morning?

She runs her fingers over her lips nervously, thinking of the timing and knowing she has to attend a history department meeting at eleven with Chris to take notes about the upcoming exhibit.  Who is she kidding?  She’s juggled them both this long…  Of course, Tom!  Can’t wait to see you SIR.

Good girl.  I can’t wait either.  I have something I wish to ask you.

Thalia’s heart jumps into her throat.  At least with Chris, she can see where his thinking goes.  He sometimes misses the domestic life, and tries to replicate his favorite parts of it with her…

But Tom?  She has no idea where his mind wanders off to sometimes. It’s like he’s truly foreign to her.  Some days it’s so frustrating to be with him because his British demeanor can be cold and seem harsh, when she knows that underneath it all, he’s just a teddy bear that wants to believe in love again, to have someone to love him.  Dear God, please don’t let me hurt him…  She has no clue what he’s thinking; what he might want to ask.  She finds it unnerving.

Finishing her drink, she pushes her plate away, her appetite lost.  Stacey reads her emotions accurately, and asks, “Honey, if you’re so crazy about him, why are you here with me and not with him?  It’s Valentine’s Day?”

Nodding, she turns her hands and examines her nails, smiling absently to the waiter as he carries away her plate.  “It is.  It’s Valentine’s Day and that’s exactly why I couldn’t see him today.  It’s complicated.”

#

Over the loud music and the roar of the revelers, Thalia yells at her stepmother.  “How the hell did you talk me into this?”

“I’m your ride home!  Now shut up and have another shot.  Live a little!”

Stacey turns back to her friends from the convention and Thalia considers calling a cab back to the hotel.  The group of older ladies were enjoying the Anti-Valentine’s Party atmosphere of the night club.  Although most of them were married, that didn’t stop them from flirting, accepting drinks or dancing with the scores of good looking men who stopped by their table.  The party scene had never been Thalia’s style, but she’d danced and was having fun.  However her responsibilities are too great and she’s exhausted from her long hours.  Sliding down from the barstool she reaches across the table to her stepmother to tell her she’s going to leave when a strong arm wraps around her waist.  A familiar scent fills her nose and a heat radiates through  her.  She tries to maintain a straight face.  Reaching around her, the solid brick wall of a man standing behind her slams another shot of the dark amber liquid down on the table.  Rubbing his cock against her curved ass, he growls in her ear, “Another.”

Picking up the tiny glass, she turns to face him.  She can’t hide her smile at the handsome face that floats before her, a sure sight for sore eyes in a sea of strangers.  Shooting it down quickly she hands it back to him with a wink. In her husky timbre she boldly says over the loud raucous crowd, “Four.”

With his head thrown back in laughter she pushes past him to the dance floor.  She can feel his eyes following every move, knowing her high heels add more of a swish to her ass than usual.  Realizing he desires her is so stimulating and builds her confidence. Over her shoulder she sees him visibly panting and trying to discretely adjust the already growing bulge in his pants.

Shaking her head she finds a spot in the middle of the crowded dance floor and begins to sway to the music.   As one thumping song blends into the next, he shimmies up behind her.  His grasp on her is seductive and as she moves the seam of her tight jeans pushes her panties between her aching lips, soaking up her flood.  Reaching over her head and behind them, she drapes her arm around his neck, pulling his head down to rest on her shoulder.  Turning her head she yells in their close space.  “Chris! What the hell are you doing here?”

His hands reach all the way around her and rest on her belly pulling her back to him as they grind to a pulsing Latin beat.

“Stag night,” he yells in her ear.  “Some of my single friends thought they’d prey on heartbroken women.  Looks like they found some at your table.”  He nibbles on her ear and she lets him.  The movements are so sensual it’s like fucking in public.  As the crowd presses around them, his hands tease down her hips squeezing the tops of her thighs.  “Is one of those ladies your stepmom?”

“Shh… Don’t talk.  Keep doing that.”  She wants to lose herself in the music with him.  In public.  Like a goddamn real date on Valentine’s Day.  It’s like Cupid heard her wishes to be with one of her men; she pushes the thought away that maybe it’s meant to be a ‘sign’ that Chris was the one that appeared?

How could she ever hurt Tom?  How could she hurt Chris?  Her head pounds in a beating pulse and for one more night, she doesn’t want to have to come up with an answer.

His hands are rough on her body, tugging and pulling to the beat of the music, unknowingly lifting her from her negative thoughts.   His thick fingers grasp at her flimsy top and with each grope higher up her hips and sides, he lifts the silky red fabric until he can drag his fingers along the waist of her jeans.  Tickling at her belly button, he traces a path to the snap on her jeans.

Feeling her pupils dilate as another rush of wet releases between her legs she turns her face to his.  “What are you doing?   We can’t…” Her words come out as a rush of air, no real sound to them but the fire returned in his eyes lets her know she heard him.

“Look around, no one’s paying attention.  I can finger fuck you right here and no one would know.”

The sea of dancers swells around them and they are hidden in plain sight.  She can’t even see the group of Stacey’s friends and she doesn’t recognize a single face.  The ache in her body is intense.  Looking down she can see her nipples are hard, obviously peaking under the silk shirt, teased from the lace bra brushing against them.  “Aw fuck, Chris.  We can’t…”

Changing dance positions his other arm comes up over her shoulder and snakes over her breasts, pinching one of her peaks. “Fuck you,” she whispers.  “I already ache.”

“Let me make it better,” he offers quietly in return.

She leans back into his body, his cock throbbing and rubbing her ass.  If unclothed, he’d fit right into her.  No wonder he finds her heeled boots so damn sexy, she thinks.  We’re the perfect height.

“Niña, don’t think.”  His hands dip lower into her pants, the fabric relaxing and pulling away, allowing him access.  “You know if you want me to stop, you just have to tell me.  You’re so wet, I’m not even to your sweet pussy yet and I can feel your juices on my hand, our dance moves shifting your clothes, teasing you, spreading the wet.  The lace is soaked, baby girl.  So damn sexy.”

The dancers move and swirl around them, new pairings dividing off and others joining in.  Chris is her constant, pulling her to the edge with just his hands and his voice.  Her heart pounds in her chest.  Her head drops back against his shoulder and he bites her neck as he dips into her well, stroking the lace through her lips.  “Shit,” she moans.  Other party-goers jostle against them and his arm is bumped causing him to push deeper.  Not expecting the force, her ass pushes back against him and a gasp escapes her lips.  He keeps up the pretense of their dance as she melts in his arms.

Pulsating to the beat, Chris holds her tight and fucks her well.  “Thalia? Do you want me to stop?”  With a barely noticeable turn of her head, she breathes heavily against his skin.  “No.  No. I need this.  I need you.”

His hands are magic and she can’t say no.  His long fingers quickly make work of her as he whispers in her ear, encouraging her to let go, to relax.  “Come, come all over my hand and I’ll know it the whole drive home.”  His breath is hot and damp, and the smell of beer as he puffs against her skin seems to add to her own intoxication.  The music builds to a crescendo as she comes at his request, spilling over him and the dew seeping down her pants leg.

Removing his hand slowly, he wipes himself clean on the inside of her jeans, tugging her shirt back into place.  Keeping up their pretense of a dance, Chris holds her tightly so her limp form doesn’t collapse.  “Beautiful, so fucking beautiful.  Your mind, your body, your spirit, Thalia.”

Coming back to earth she can see Stacey’s blonde head bobbing up and down over the top of the other dancers, searching for her. Chris spins her quickly, her back to her mother and claims her with a kiss. “Let me take you home,” he begs.

Tucking her hair back she tries to clear her mind.  “No. We said ‘no Valentine’s Day’. This is pure coincidence; you got lucky I was here.  I’m staying with her at the hotel and I’ll see you at lunch tomorrow.”  She pushes away from his massive chest, ignoring the pounding pain in her head.  “I gotta go.”

“Been a long time since I had a girl run off ‘cause her mother was looking for her,” he teases.

Thalia tugs at his shirt collar, catching a glimpse of his tattoo, one of her favorite quotes.  “Cradle robber,” she jokes, trying to make light of the situation.  What kind of magic spell did he just weave?  Bastard.

Yanking her close for a moment longer, he shakes his head in total disagreement.  “You’re all woman, and you’re mine.”

“Just remember, that makes YOU MINE too, so don’t you be flirting with any of these desperate old hags”

Fleetingly, he touches his fingertips to her lips and she smells the proof of her ownership. Pivoting on her heels to walk away, he smacks her on the ass.

When she reaches her table and gathers her coat, she looks around for him and realizes he’s gone.

#

The women decide it’s only three blocks back to the hotel so the walk in the cold would be easier than finding a cab.  Thalia mentions Uber and most of them look at her like she’s speaking an alien tongue, so she just falls back in the group.

The air is cold against her wet jeans and she fears the smell will be detected in the winter breeze. “Jesus fuckin’ Christ,” she whispers aloud, rubbing her knuckle across her lips like she does when deep in thought.

Stacey steps in next to her and links arms.  “I’m sorry I couldn’t get out of my meetings today.  I can’t wait to see your new tattoo.  Glad you decided to go ahead and do it, for Amy’s memory.“  The blonde side steps some broken glass on the sidewalk.  “That was a fun night, baby girl!  I always wanna go out like that, but your father wants to sit at home.  I’m glad you came with us!”  She takes the end of Thalia’s pink scarf and wraps it tighter around her neck.  Thalia blanches at the use of her family’s nickname for her, having been so long since she’d actually heard family use it.  She palms her hand over her mouth and her stomach twists.

Baby girl.  Aw, fuck.  What have I done?  Stacey continues to prattle on, but Thalia hears none of it.  All she can think about is how she’s broken her own rule. Where did all her determination go?  She was the one who didn’t want either of them as part of her day, just to be fair to them both. She had wanted to prove to herself she could have fun without them. She shouldn’t have given in so easily, to Chris- letting him claim her like that, out in the open. But damn, the man is irresistible… She’s betrayed herself, dammit. And to top it all off she let him manipulate her thoughts and he fingered her in a goddamn public place where anyone could have seen them.  She feels sick about all the consequences if anyone from campus saw them.

“Hey, I lost ya.”  Stacey takes her room key out of her purse to gain access to the hotel lobby at the late hour.  “You okay?”

The women wait for the buzz of the door to let them in.  They all say their goodnights and head off in their individual directions, some staying by the warm fireplace to warm up and chat longer.

Thalia can feel the fakeness to her smile.  “Fine. Really. I think the evening just caught up to me and I’m dead on my feet.  I need some aspirin and to lie down.”

“Can do that, honey.”  Stacey replies leading them to wait with the group at the bank of elevators.  She leans in conspiratorially.  “Damn, I know you’re in love and all, but that man you were dancing with?  Hell, he was hot sex on a stick!  Yummy!”

“Stacey!”  ‘In love.’ Her stomach lurches at Stacey’s words.  Fuck.  She is.  With both of them, and her wanton public behavior tonight is such an insult to Tom and the privacy of their relationship… Jesus, what the hell am I doing?

“What? Just because I’ve been married to your father for sixteen years doesn’t mean I can’t look and appreciate the male form.  And believe me, he had a nice one.”  Stacey bumps her shoulder and giggles.

Girl stuff.  Thalia was never good at that.  Pulling herself together, she focuses on the now with her stepmother.   She giggles too and plays along.  “Yes, he did.  Solid too.”

“A man built like that?  He’s just right for a girl like you.  He could throw you around like a ragdoll,” Stacey smiles, her eyes bright from her slight inebriation.

“Oh my God.  Hello?  Boundaries.  You’re still my mother, ya know.”  Thalia laughs for real and shakes her head at the absurdity.  She wonders if Stacey will remember this conversation in the morning as she kicks off her heels in the elevator car.

“You need a man,” Stacey warrants, bending over to rub the ball of her foot.  “If men like that in clubs drool all over you, pick one.  And hell, I’ll stop worrying about you and food and your weight.  I’ve never had a man look at me like that before, honey.  Like he couldn’t wait to see you under all those clothes…” Other women from the club chime in their hummed agreement. The blonde tumbles a bit when the elevator stops at their floor. Righting herself she finishes with her audience. “If you can get a man like that one, take him and ride him to the altar and don’t let him go.”

Echoes of “hell yeahs” reach through the doors as they close and the silence to Thalia is deafening as they are alone and quiet for the first time all night.

Her demeanor changes and she sighs bitterly, really hoping her stepmother doesn’t remember her anger in the morning, just her words. “Dammit, Stacey, slow down.  Thank you for finally giving me permission to eat whatever the hell I want, that’s so kind of you…  But grasp your head around this one now: marriage isn’t in my cards.  At least not for a while…  I did not spend all this time and money on an education to give it up for a man and raise his babies.  I’m not ‘riding’ anyone anywhere right now, or for a long time for that matter.”

Her headache is growing worse by the minute and she just wants to get to the room and wash the club off her, the smell of smoke out of her hair.  She’s angry and she knows exactly why and Stacey just happened to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.

“Girl, you’re all grown up,” Stacey says as she slides the plastic card into the lock.  “You don’t need me to tell you what to do.  And I’m so proud of all the things you do… I just don’t want you to be lonely.  Find a good man, not a boy, and know the difference.  Someone who lets you be you and makes you want to be… well, more.

Stepping into the room, Stacey moves to her bed and flops down face first kicking her feet up in the air.  Thalia closes the door and leans against it, banging her head back and closing her eyes.  “Maybe that’s the problem.”

Pushing away from the door the quote from Chris’s tat swirls in her brain.  When you lose touch with your inner stillness you lose touch with yourself.  When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.

Tugging her fingers through her hair, she wonders if she even knows how to be herself without them anymore. It’s like being with them has opened a Pandora’s box, and now she doesn’t know how to close it again. All the new experiences, the self-discoveries. Even though it ties her brain into knots sometimes to deal with the secrecy and onslaught of a dozen different emotions, she wants this, needs this like air.

God, how far gone is she? Will there ever be a point that is too far?

#

When Thalia arrives to the student Commons for her meeting with Tom, she’s ten minutes late and gritting her teeth. She knows how much he values punctuality, but this morning, nothing much has gone her way, traffic was bad leaving the city, and she probably looks as frazzled as her mind is.

He’s sitting at the far corner, a little secluded, alternately fumbling with his glasses and rubbing his lips. Surreptitiously straightening her clothes and hair and wondering for the umpteenth time what he wants to talk about, Thalia walks over.

Her heart gives a guilty little lurch when she sees that he’s ordered her favorite morning treat – coffee and a blueberry bagel with cream cheese.

He looks up and his jaw tightens as he’s watching her approach.

Shit. She’s not sure she can handle a pissed-off Tom this morning, with the mix of emotions churning away in her gut and the almost sleepless night making her grumpy.

“Professor Hiddleston.”

She stops in front of the table, wondering what to say. He taps his watch and lifts an eyebrow, giving her that stern look that’s infuriating and sexy at the same time.

“You’re uncharacteristically late, Ms. Bareo.”

Ugh. No use making excuses. “I’m sorry. It won’t happen again, sir.”

His expression softens ever so slightly at the last word and he motions for her to have a seat.

Thalia tosses her bag in an empty seat and sits down, crossing her legs. Tom is wearing one of his hundred nearly identical sweaters today, and the soft burgundy fabric stretches invitingly over his muscles as he folds his arms.

With a swallow, Thalia shifts in her seat. She needs coffee to survive this.

To keep up the pretense, Tom goes through a few project-related things first while they work their way slowly through their breakfast. She keeps having flashbacks of Chris pressed against her on the dance floor, and of the conversation she had with her stepmother.

Why did this have to happen to her? All those years without a real man to catch her attention, and now she has two who couldn’t be more different but mean the world to her.

“Ms. Bareo?”

With a start, she realizes Tom has been waiting for an answer from her. Blushing, she takes a last fortifying sip of coffee.

“I’m sorry,” she apologizes again.

He looks at her with narrowed eyes, but all of a sudden, his glare gives way to concern. Leaning forward, he lowers his tone. “Are you alright, darling? You look a bit out of it, to be frank.”

There it is again, the caring, kind side to him that not many people get to see, although he’s always politeness personified. She nods. “Yeah, I’m okay. Just a bit of a rough night.”

“I hope your stepmother didn’t give you any trouble?”

“No, nothing like that. She and her friends dragged me into a club and we got in late. So I’m a bit hung over, to be honest.  I feel as if I’m over forty and they’re the party-hungry teenagers or something.  They were all laughing and ready to go this morning like it was nothing!”

Tom laughs his characteristic ehehe, but sobers up quickly. Now that the somewhat stern look is gone, she can see that he seems nervous beneath his mask. He keeps adjusting his glasses and pushing the rest of his food around on his plate.

Changing the subject, he asks, “Did you and your stepmother get your tattoos?”

Thalia caresses over the tender spot on her breast carefully. “Yea, I did.  Hurts like hell too.  But when the redness goes away, it’ll be beautiful.  Stacey claimed she couldn’t get out of her meetings, but I think she punked out at the last minute.”

Tom smiles warmly, but his fidgeting hands bely his usual confidence.

Why is he nervous when she’s the one who should be feeling like that? It only makes her even more anxious.

“Didn’t you want to talk to me about something?” she offers quietly, hoping to alleviate his anxiety.

He swallows hard and starts playing with his empty teacup, long fingers handling the delicate porcelain with utmost care. God, what those fingers can do. They’re just as lethal when they’re gentle as when they grab her hard enough to leave bruises. She wonders, if given the chance, would he have done the same at the club – driven her crazy with his nimble fingers, leave her panting and wanting more?

Probably so, and his words would have been filthier.

And she’d have loved every goddamn minute of it too.

Who the hell am I becoming?

She closes her eyes briefly and forces herself to focus.

When he speaks, his words are so low she has to lean forward to hear him.

“Would you be my sort-of date at the Alumni Gala next month?”

The napkin she’s been twisting slides from her fingers to the table.

“What?”

Tom runs a hand back through his hair. “Bloody hell, that came out all wrong. I’m sorry.”

He takes a breath and continues in a surer tone. “You know that my project is going to be honored, and I want you there by my side because you’ve played such an important role in it. Without your research, this wouldn’t have been possible.”

His blue eyes seek out hers, everything about his expression earnest and appealing. She can feel her pulse racing at the thought of accompanying him to the gala. He’ll probably wear a three-piece suit or tux and look way too handsome. But…

“Won’t I stick out like a sore thumb?” she questions, worrying her lip. “All the staff and dignitaries and VIP guests, and then plain, old, plump me.”

He narrows his eyes again, reaching out to her but stopping himself at the last moment and taking a gulp from his water glass instead.

“Nonsense, Thalia. It won’t be the first time in history that a grad student has attended the gala for some very valid reason.”  Looking around the Commons, it’s still rather quiet the morning after the holiday, and she sees now she isn’t the only dragging, hung over person on campus.

His voice drops and her gaze is drawn to his lovely angled face again. “Darling, there’s no way you could ever be ‘plain.’  You’re such a beautiful, charming creature.  Everyone will fall at your feet and want to listen to your musical voice.”

Blushing, she tries to read him and understand his uncertainty.  His gaze softens. “It’s perfectly alright for me to invite you. Nobody will think twice about it…and I’m pretty sure the sight of you in a gorgeous gown will make rational thought impossible for anyone, especially me, anyway.”

A flirtatious spark darkens his eyes, and she feels her resolve melt away.

“Please accept my invitation, oh fair and gracious lady,” Tom adds with a theatrical expression that has her suppress a giggle. “Have mercy on this poor lad who doesn’t want to face the crowd alone. I haven’t got the faintest idea how Americans handle such events.”

Feeling more herself now, she raises a brow at him. “So, you only want me there to save yourself the embarrassment of putting your foot in your British mouth?” she challenges.

Something in his expression shifts from one moment to the other. It’s an art he’s mastered, and it never fails to throw her off balance.

“Oh, I have a whole list of ideas how you could keep this British mouth of mine busy,” he half-growls in a low, deep voice that sends delicious shivers down her spine.

“Tom,” she hisses, “not here.”

She’s had enough with public displays of… lust this week.

A smirk curls his thin lips before he pretends to busy himself with a bite of now cold toast.

“Seriously, though,” he goes on, sending her a pleading puppy-dog look. “I’d love to have you by my side and sing your praises, maybe even steal a few hidden touches. You don’t necessarily have to stick to my side, though I’d love that. And it will look really good for you, academically speaking, that you’ve been invited and received some recognition.”

Thalia leans back in her chair and sighs. “You’re right, of course. As usual.”

He smiles. “So you’ll be my date?”

“I’ll be your guest,” she says, stressing the last word and automatically smiling back.

“Marvelous. Don’t worry too much about it, you’ll fit right in.”

“I doubt that,” she mutters more to herself than to him. Her eyes widen when she realizes something. “Oh my god, I don’t have anything to wear! What sort of gown do you think is expected?”

Tom runs an appreciative gaze over what little of her body is visible, and she feels it like a caress that warms her from the inside.

“I’m sure there are photos or something from previous events to get an idea. Just pick whatever catches your eye, you’re going to look more stunning than all the women there put together, no matter what you wear.”

Blushing furiously, she wants to say something, but Tom holds up a finger.

“And by the way, I’m paying for the dress. No, don’t even think of protesting. You’re doing me a huge favor and honor by accompanying me, and a gown for a gala dinner isn’t going to cost a couple of bucks. I insist.”

“But, but…” she splutters, only to be cut off again when he adds in a low, warning tone, “Are you going to be a good girl and do as I say, or do I need to pick out a dress for you myself?”

Well hell, that doesn’t leave her with much of a choice.

“Damn you, Professor, you aren’t playing fair,” she complains, crossing her arms.

“Stop pouting like this or I’ll have to drag you into the next best room and kiss the pout right off your lips.”

The sexy threat makes her breath hitch.

Damn, he knows just how to push her buttons.

“Yes, sir.”

The look in Tom’s eyes is full of promises.

“Glad we’ve got that settled then.  Choose something to show off your lovely legs.” He gestures to the meal. “Any more coffee or tea?”

Thalia huffs and shakes her head. Ever the gentleman, Tom rises when she does. He bends to retrieve his leather briefcase and uses the move to whisper into her ear.

“I can’t wait to see you bedazzle the crowd, my precious orchid. You’re going to make all the other wallflowers wither away.”

Click here for Chapter 25 Step Up

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

Ride Home

ET ch 23 ride home may 21 2017

Chapter 23

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: 4446

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, NSFW,  Dom Tom, spanking, safe words, aftercare, fingering, intercourse, car sex, condoms, food porn, real life discussions

Summary: Thalia pushes back on some of Tom’s ‘training’ and challenges him.

Author’s Note: Photo cover images found on Pinterest.  Yes. I’m fully aware that is Dean Winchester’s back!  Search “couple making out in back seat” and a thousand versions of that photo pop up!

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

Pulling up in front of the dark apartment complex, Tom doesn’t like the look of the overhanging shrubs near the gate.  Placing the car in park, he looks at the girl in the passenger seat and over his shoulder at her roommate and with his gentleman’s air says, “Come on, ladies.  I’ll walk you up.  I don’t feel right sending you alone.”

As they climb out of the car, he looks back to Thalia and growls quietly, “Be in the front seat when I return.”

Smiling innocently, she kicks her bag to the side and nods her head, pushing her wayward curls behind her ear.

A few minutes later, he walks down the sidewalk to the car, seeing her still in the back seat, her head rested back and eyes closed.  He lets out a little chuckle and shakes his head at her stubborn sense of freedom, a puff of air in front of him in the cold night.  Pulling himself together, he takes on the role he likes to play with her as he opens the door.  “You didn’t follow directions,” he plainly states in a low voice.  Climbing into his seat, he buckles up and waits for her response.  His eyes watch her in the rearview mirror as she slowly raises her head.

The defiant look he loves so much shines in her dark eyes and she bites her bottom lip, holding back a smile.  “I figured if I was already in trouble, I may as well make it worth it.”

He flicks the item hanging in front of him.  “And are these your panties hanging from my rearview mirror?”

She calmly mimics the lilt to his voice with her own raspy latino rhythm, smokier from the alcohol in her system.  “Is this a fuck blanket in your backseat?”

“A what?”  Tom asks, guessing at her meaning, watching along the deserted street carefully before maneuvering into the driving lane.

Her eyes dance with fire.  “Where I come from, there’s only one reason to keep a blanket in the back seat…”

Harshly Tom replies, “Yes.  I learned a lot about where you come from tonight and-”

She interrupts him, “Listen, you can dress me up and take me to fancy hotels but I’m still the girl that could change the oil in this car in 15 minutes flat and talk baseball in the shop with the other guys at the same time.”

“Ah.  I see.  The two sides of Thalia… well, right now, I think your backside should be over my lap.  You deserve a spanking for your behavior and attitude tonight.”

“Then do it,” she taunts.

“You think I won’t?”  His question is met with silence as she rests her head back again and the drive continues.

His brain rolls with images of spanking her and the pink panties catching in the passing street lights has him make a right turn at the next traffic stop. Turning on the radio, sounds of a lonely Hank Williams tune fills the car and he sees her sly grin in the rearview mirror as she quietly sings along.

When the car finally comes to a stop, she lazily lifts her head and rubs her eyes.  “Where are we?” she curiously asks.

Tom doesn’t reply to her question.  He gets out of the car and shakes out of his thick winter coat and removes his belt, placing both in the driver’s seat before opening the door to the back.  His eyes are dark as he crawls in the seat beside the curly haired imp and her own grow wide.  She curls her lips over her teeth and bites down, a spot of fear on her face, but he knows she is safe and she is playing her role.

“Did you have a question for me, darling?”  Tom asks, his fingers grasping the edge of the blanket he keeps in the car in case of winter emergencies.  It’s wrapped loosely around her waist and with a quick tug it falls open to reveal herself naked from the waist down.  She shivers as his long fingers caress across the top of her leg and he squeezes her thigh tightly.

A small sigh escapes her lips before she asks again, “Where are we?  It’s really dark and secluded.”

With a low moan of his his own, his fingertips knead into her flesh, tugging and pulling as his lips find the side of her exposed neck.  His late night scruff scrapes across her skin before he takes a bite at her collarbone.  His eyes fall to her hands, grasping the edge of the seat tightly.  “It’s okay, love, we’re at the lot for the hiking trail.  No one will be out here this time of night.  Be as loud as you want, wake the sleeping forest creatures.”

Biting back a giggle, she asks, “I’m allowed to make noise, sir?”

“All you want sweetheart,” he asks, biting at her again and leaving a small mark.

His mark.  His heart pounds wildly as she relaxes into him, spreading her legs wider.  He chuckles, “No.  No.  That’s a reward, darling, and you’ve been a bad girl.”

With a flip of his arm around her waist, he lays her over his lap, her full rounded ass exposed to the moonlight coming through the window.  With a quick smack, her skin bounces back and turns red in moments, a gush of air released from her lungs as she grasps his ankle.  “Fuck,” she whispers.

With another swipe of his hand, he rules, “No swearing, darling, it’s not very lady-like.  The stories you told tonight?  Someone needs to teach you to be a lady.”

His cock stiffens between them, the weight of her body against him, and he longs to be inside her as he swats her ass again and again. She takes her punishment silently, but her grip on his legs tightens. The tanned globes of her ass radiate heat from his touch, her curls falling down around her face as she starts to shake her head.

“Chocolate, Tom, chocolate.”

The sound echoes in the car and his hand freezes in mid-air.  He spins her around and cradles her in his lap, pushing her hair back so he can see her eyes.  “Are you alright, darling?  Did I hurt you?”

She huffs slightly, “Yea my ass hurts… Geez.  No.”  She sighs resting against his chest.  “I guess that’s just not a kink for me.  It reminds me too much of mi abuela and how she would paddle me with a wooden spoon when I got in trouble.  You probably can’t imagine this, but I got in trouble a lot.  She said I had a sassy mouth.”  She smiles at his feigned shock.  “I’m okay.  I’m fine.  Really.  It’s just not turning me on.”

Thalia looks up into his eyes, softer now, and cups her hand against his cheek.  “I’m okay.” She rubs her thumb against his cheek to erase his lines of worry.

“Thalia, are you sure?”  His hand tenderly brushes over the raw flesh.  “There’s still some snow on the ground; we could ice your bum?”

She giggles, her eyes glistening with tears.  “You are the sweetest man.  Really, I’m okay.  I can still feel my ass cheeks.  They’re not numb, and I like the light touches you’re doing now.”

As one song on the radio changes to the next, he holds her tight, his worry lessening.  Her fingers loosen against his collar and she slowly begins to unbutton his shirt, pressing kisses along his chest with each area of exposed skin.

“Tom?  I really need you tonight.  Your brain is whirring.  I can almost hear it.  Whatever thoughts you have, just focus on me.”

He sighs and slides down the seat more, his legs cramped in the small space.  “I think I’ve outgrown the size for making out in a backseat.”

“I know I have, but we can have fun trying,” she laughs.  “I um… I probably could use your fingers first to get me ready?”

The blush on her cheeks is beautiful in the moonlight and Tom lifts her up, kissing her tenderly before setting her back down against the door of the car.  “Slow and gentle, my Thalia, and if I hurt you, you tell me.  I’m so, so proud of you for using our safe word and telling me your feelings.”

Tugging the soft blue sweater over her head, she laughs, “Isn’t that why we have it, silly?”

Tom smiles down at her, crawling between her legs, one knee on the bench seat and the other resting on the floorboard.  Lifting her chin he kisses her sweetly, tasting the alcohol on her lips.  Always in the way, he removes his glasses and tosses them into the pile in the front seat.  Sliding his hand down from her face, he cups under her covered breast, running his thumb over the lace, raising her nipple to its peak.  Bringing his scruffy kisses down across her chin and neck, he drags his beard over her chest and latches his mouth over the lace, pulling it in between his teeth before clamping down on the sweet peak.  Flicking his tongue over the bud, the lace gets wet and moves easily with the force of his mouth.

Her hands run over his chest and tug at the waist of his pants while he brings his other hand to push the lace out of the way and expose her tit.  “Stop, stop stop.  Do you know how much it costs to get a good bra to hold these things up?  You’ll stretch the lace.”  She leans forward and quickly undoes the hooks, a look of sweet relief on her face as her breasts fall free and he pulls the delicate fabric from her arms.

“Blue? And pink panties?”

“Yea, I need to do laundry tomorrow.  Nothing matches,” she giggles as she falls back against the door of the car, pulling him on top of her.

He loves her playful side as much as he adores her bending to his will.  It really is like two sides of the same person, each as sweet and sexy.  His mouth finds itself tonguing the chocolate colored bud again as his hand dips into her wet.  Soaked already, he quickly pulls her to the edge, encouraging her noises and cries.  He so rarely gets to enjoy her sexual melodies as they often are in his office or hotel rooms, hiding from prying eyes and ears.

Her whimpers rise to a crescendo, echoing in the car, as she rides out his fingering. Eager to climb on his lap, she pushes against him.  Falling against the seat, he hauls her on top as she reaches between them to free his cock.  “Wait, shit.”  She sits on her heels as he pulls off his socks and shoes and wiggles out of his pants.  Supporting herself on the back of the car seat, she reaches into her bag and removes a condom from a little zipper pouch, throwing it back down on the floor.  Holding the foil packet in between her fingers, her expression softens and her mood changes, waiting for his approval.

Sitting up, Tom wraps his hands tightly in her hair, whispering, “Sometimes bad girls are so good, darling.”

Open mouthed, his nose crashes against hers, nibbling at her upper lip and the side of her mouth, even gently biting her cheek before his lips finally collapse against hers, a desperate need for their kisses, a salve to fix the pain in his chest.   He worries about the spankings, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Her kisses are just as fiery, tugging at his lip while her hands stroke him up and down, readying his cock for her as it swells in her grasp.  Her touches change, alternating from tight to slack, dragging her fingertips from base to tip.  With a clumsy twist on the backseat of the car, he slides her onto her back and kneels between her legs again, taking the condom from her and rolling it down his shaft.  “Come for me again, darling.  Spill all over my cock.”

With a strong push, he enters her quickly, surrounded by her sweet wetness, ready just for him.  She exhales sharply and brings her leg over his back as he thrusts in and out of her.  In the back of his mind he knows things have been too rushed between them lately, and it’s time for another getaway weekend, but taking his time here in his car doesn’t seem reasonable.  Her nails scratch at his back and she hisses as her sore ass rubs against the soft leather seat.  “Sir, please don’t make me wait; I can’t.”

Shifting his weight, he supports one hand on the window above her and the other on the seat.  Pushing in to the hilt, he grinds down on top of her and plunges in and out again, his own sounds following hers.  Each time he hits her sweetest spot her cries grow louder before she whispers his name.  Tightening around him she comes, milking from him a release of his own as he drops his head against her chest, whimpering obscenities into the night air.  She stills under him and he slowly pulls out, picking her up to sit her in his lap and wrapping the blanket around their bodies.

“See?  A fuck blanket,” she laughs, pushing his sweaty curls from his forehead.

In blissful silence, the rain begins again and beats against the window as he covers her face with tiny kisses and she whispers words of sweet happiness to him.  The radio announcer states the time, and Tom is drawn back to reality, remembering he has to catch the train to the city early in the morning for the school trip.  Holding her a bit longer in his arms, he lightly kisses the top of her head.  “Darling, it’s time to go.  I have that trip in a few hours.”

She sighs and his heart tightens.  “Just a few minutes more.  I feel like you’re always rushing away from me; we really won’t have time this week.  We’ve got all those meetings and I’m out of town with my step-mom when she visits for her convention.  Alone on Valentine’s Day sucks, you know.”

Squeezing her close, he wraps his arms tighter around her as she plays with the wispy hairs on his chest.  “If I didn’t have my meeting with the Chancellor that day to discuss funding for our next trip, I’d be by your side in a heartbeat, darling.”  He sighs, the wild curls in her hair tickling his nose.

Thalia shifts from his grasp, leaning over the console and sticking her rounded behind in his face while she reaches for her underwear.  He moves forward and gingerly kisses the redness on her ass.  Blowing cool air between his lips he continues to caress over her soft skin.  Sighing she wiggles, whispering, “Damn, that feels good.”

Turning to face him for one last kiss, they both begin to dress, handing each other found items on the floor of the car.  She starts to giggle a bit as she pulls on her sweater.  “Tom.  I’m hungry.  Still.  I only ate a few wings and a few of your fries.  Can we swing through some fast food?”

Exiting the car, Tom laughs, shaking his head.  “Get in the front seat this time.  We’ll go get burgers.”

Driving off in search of burgers in the early morning hours, Thalia refreshes Tom’s memory on details of the itinerary for the student trip.  He makes small talk with her about plans for the visit with her step-mother and asks questions about their relationship.  In the flashing of the streetlights, she tugs on his arm and winds her fingers through his, resting their hands on the console separating them.  Giving her hand a warm squeeze, he encourages her discussion of a tattoo in honor of her deceased friend.

“It’s something Stacey’s always wanted to do, and is too chicken to do alone, so she suggested it.  I’m still not sure, but I guess I have a few days to figure it out,” she laughs, pointing ahead to a fast food place with its lights still on.

Turning at the intersection the car drifts lightly on the rain soaked road but Tom holds steady.  “Not sure on the design or if you want one?”

The conversation pauses as they place and wait for their order, Thalia shaking her head that she doesn’t want ketchup.

“Amy- my friend that died last summer?  She was an amazing artist.  I’ve always loved the natural beauty and smell of orchids.” Tom hands her the food from the service window, placing their drinks in the cupholder.  “Her project for her senior portfolio in high school was a beautiful watercolor of a branch of pink orchids she designed for me.  It’s the painting above the mantel in my apartment?”  Drawing the milkshake up through the straw, she scrolls through her phone and shows the image to Tom.  “I’ve always known that’s what I would want, and I have the money saved.”  She giggles, raising her eyebrows.  “Part of me thinks it’s a frivolous use of my hard earned money.  And I’m afraid of needles and don’t like pain. ”

“That could be a problem, darling,” he chuckles, exiting the parking lot.  “I don’t speak from experience, but I think that’s how the process is done.”

“Smart ass,” she whispers between their laughter.

The pair decide it’s late and cold, so Tom will take her back to her apartment and her neighbor can help retrieve the car later in the day.  It’s a Saturday, so she won’t need to worry about getting to campus early.

Clutching the bag of warm food in her lap, Thalia turns in the seat and smiles at Tom as he pulls up in front of her building.  “I had fun.  It was almost like a real date,” she giggles.  “I’m kind of jealous I can’t go on the trip tomorrow; I’d love to see that performance.”

Pulling on her curls, Tom grins, “Well, I’ll see if I can get us tickets during Spring Break.  All those office hours you signed up to work are simply ridiculous.  Campus will be dead while everyone is out having fun and there’s little Thalia slaving away at her books and purchase orders for the next semester.  Take a break, darling.”  Cupping her cheek tenderly, he leans in for a chaste kiss.  “You work too hard.”

“I know, I know.”  She peers down into the bag and pulls out a few fries, offering some to him, but he declines.  “So, um, all that stuff tonight?”

“Yes, love,” he says, turning off the ignition, a curious expression gracing his chiseled features.  He has a feeling this is another of their heart felt chats and he’ll be sleeping on the train to the city in the morning.  “You can tell me anything, you know that.”

Unwrapping the burger and pulling it apart, she tosses the pickles to the side.  He tentatively reaches for one and she nods.  She sighs.  “Stacey had me in all kinds of kids’ fitness classes and diet groups.  She worried about my weight.  I’m not really proud of all the things I did as a kid, and I had some pretty big self-esteem issues.  My mother leaving Dad and I was a big thing to overcome, and I was always searching for something.”  She looks out the window at a passing car, avoiding Tom’s gaze.  “I’m not that girl any more. I’ve grown up.  I make adult, womanly decisions.  They still might not always be the best ones, and sometimes I don’t think things through first.” She tilts her head to the side with a small shake of her head. “But they aren’t simply for the sake of having someone pay attention to me… I just wanted to say that.  I have to remind myself sometimes, and I thought it would be good for you to hear it too.”

Tom’s hand caresses down her arm, rubbing over the back of her hand.  “You don’t have to explain anything to me, darling.  You don’t owe me anything.”

She chuckles wryly.  “Yea, actually I do.  I’ve always kinda been this tough thing, taking care of myself.  Dad kinda raised me that way- ‘Seas independiente.’  Being on campus really helped me figure out who I wanted to be.  I still remember walking into your class that first time I saw you…”  She blushes and pauses in her thoughts.  “You took my breath away; not for your handsome good looks, but just for your passion; your obvious enjoyment of life.  I wasn’t even planning to be a language studies major- I was history, all in.  But you… Tom, you’ve really shaped the choices I’ve made in my schooling and career.”  Stopping again, she nibbles on the burger growing cold in her hands and Tom’s eyes brim with tears.  “Oh, don’t get sappy on me.  I can’t handle that,” she chuckles, her voice choked as well.  “We get too caught up in our own head spaces and I forget to tell you you’re important to me.  With you, it’s nice not to have to think…”  Thoughtfully, the dark haired beauty pauses again.  “I appreciate all you’ve shown me; all you’ve given me.”

Tom rests his head against the seat, watching her, not knowing what to say.  As if she reads his thoughts, she caresses his cheek and the whiff of onions on her hands is unmistakable.  He takes her wrist and kisses her palm.  “Thank you, darling.  And I most likely don’t say it enough either.  It’s not a very British thing to do.  We often sit on our feelings, but you remind me that’s a very uptight way to live.”

“We’re good together,” she simply states, the smile reaching her eyes.

“That we are, darling, that we are.”  Returning her smile he takes the remaining pickle from the paper wrapper.

In his heart, he knows she needs more from him, but Thalia’s chipped away at his hard surface.  As the cliche goes, she’s made him a better man.  He’s offered his recommendation to several museums overseas when they call to inquire about her resume.  His heart breaks every time he sings her praise, as he knows he can’t hold her back.  The quiet country music fills the car and the mood lightens while she teases him about his choice of music and the pair talk a bit longer on lighter subjects.

“By the way,” she giggles.  “Made a new friend tonight, did you?”  She purses her lips, a spot of jealousy in her eyes.  “I was too afraid to reach under the table and tease along the seam of your pants for fear my fingers might brush against hers.”  Shuddering at the thought, she watches his own reaction.

Groaning, he runs his own hand nervously along said seam.  “Apparently the math department is very forward, and they’re all okay with it.”

“Right?  They all acted like it was no big deal.  Ugh, who would want him? So crude, and his cheap polyester ties.”  Rolling her eyes, she chews on the last french fry.  “I mean, if you’re going to have an affair with a professor, go for the ones with nice silk ties.”

His laughter fills the car and she smiles at her joke.  “Count that as a kink,” she smiles.

“Good to know,” he replies.  “Another one for our list.”  His hand caresses her thigh, stopping with a light squeeze before resting warmly on her leg.

“You can come up,” Thalia offers shyly.  “You don’t have to go home tonight.”

The grip on his heart tightens, as it always does when she invites him to stay..  As much as he wants to say yes, he also knows he needs to be ready for the school trip.  “No, darling.  I can’t.  There’s a good possibility if I walked through that door, I would never want to leave your bed ever again.”  He offers that truth to her, caressing against the soft skin of the open neckline on her sweater.  “I still have a few things to keep up with at home to make the morning train.  I’ll probably nap all the way to the city.”

Reaching in the back seat, Thalia turns to hide her disappointment.  Picking up her purse, she pulls the blanket through the gap between the seats.  “Take this.  Snuggle with it on the train,” she giggles, clearing the air.  “That could cause sweet dreams.”

Leaning over the console for a goodnight kiss, he whispers, “More like erotic dreams I don’t need to have in public with twenty or so students, you wicked girl.”

As if to prove how hard he finds it to resist temptation when it comes to her, Tom takes his time with the goodnight kiss.

He nips at Thalia’s bottom lip to make her part hers, then flicks the tip of his tongue over them. Every time she tries to deepen the kiss, he draws back a fraction, grazing his teeth over the glistening flesh or simply hovering close and breathing her in. When he finally slants his mouth over hers and slides his tongue in as deep as it can get, they both moan heatedly into the kiss. Tongue strokes against tongue, and their mouths part only to meet again and again.

After what feels like an eternity, Tom withdraws with a last lick and a soft groan, leaving Thalia blinking and out of breath.

Once she’s shaken off the new bout of intense longing, she folds the blanket and lays it in her lap, running her fingers over the lumps to smooth it out.  “Good night, Tom.  Have fun tomorrow.  Thank you for a wonderful evening.  Sometimes things turn out amazing when you go against the plan.  I’m glad I didn’t sit alone in the library studying.”

“Me too, darling.  Come on.  I’ll carry your things and walk you in.”

She giggles and shakes her head.  “Don’t be so British.  That’s ridiculous.  It’s my building and it’s five steps away from the car.  Totally safe here.”

Before he can argue, she opens the car door and hops out, closing it with a bang.  In the rain, she runs around the front of the car, and taps the driver’s side window.  Tom quickly rolls it down, accepting her wet kisses before she bounces away.  He waits as she unlocks the building door and disappears inside.  Watching for oncoming traffic before he drives away, he hopes his car forever smells like his sweet hothouse orchid.

Click here to read Chapter 24 It’s Complicated

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

Chicago

ET ch 11 april 12.pngChicago: Chapter 11

Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @devikafernando & @avenger-nerd-mom

AU FICTION

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

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, sightseeing, FOOD PORN, cuteness overload, PLAID PORN, innocent making out

*****SUSPEND REALITY- we know it’s not possible to see ALL these attractions in one day. This is what happens when a German girl living in Sri Lanka has never BEEN to Chicago!******

Word Count 2652

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

Click here to the beginning of Educating Thalia

Tom feels as if he’s entered into a parallel universe or discovered an alter ego of his. It isn’t just the clothes, though he does feel different in his red-and-blue plaid shirt and black jeans. He’s picked the shirt because it looked awfully comfortable and because he couldn’t get the image of Thalia with her cowboy boots out of his head. To brace himself against the biting cold, he’s wearing a navy T-shirt beneath the shirt and a quilted navy coat with a zip. He had half a mind to go for cowboy boots himself, but part of him was scared he’d just look like an idiotic wanna-be Yankee mixed with a stiff Englishman. So he opted for his go-to solution, the well-worn grey suede shoes that he loves to combine with basically any casual or even semi-formal outfit.

Thalia has already glanced at the plaid shirt more than once, and the approval in her eyes – turning to quite a lot more than interest when he opens a few buttons in the toasty warm museum – feels like a soothing caress. It makes him feel more at ease, ready to let her play tour guide and boss him around a little.

Since they have embarked on this journey through the city, she’s been pointing out landmarks and sharing little snippets that he stores away in a corner of his knowledge-hungry brain for future reference.

The museum is amazing. The building itself caught his attention when he Googled things to see in the city, with its imposing reddish brown façade and half-round side wing full of windows. He listens happily to Thalia sharing some backstory while they make their way inside. Tom chuckles at the way she occasionally bumps him as they move through the holiday crowds.  They’re walking close enough for their hands to brush, and on an impulse, he laces his fingers with hers.

She shoots him a glance and lowers her lashes, smiling.

He doesn’t want to let go of Thalia’s hand, and she seems just as happy to let him hold it. Off and on, they look at each other instead of the exhibits, and it feels like a real date, with all the cares in the world a million miles away. She’s wearing warm black tights with a denim skirt. To match his outfit–which he’d revealed with a spur-of-the-moment selfie to prove to himself as much as her that he really was in Chicago–she’s also opted for a plaid shirt, hers in different shades of blue that match her skirt and coat. And of course, her trusty cowboy boots make today’s outfit complete.

Once they’ve had their history fill in general, Thalia enthusiastically pulls him aside to show him one of the world’s largest costume collections. Tom entertains her by imagining little tales for the astonishing historical clothes on display, and they get quite a bit of side eye from other visitors for all their whispering and laughing.

They round off the experience with a hearty brunch at the café on the ground floor.

Pushing his chair back from the table, Tom asks, “What now?” glowing with an overdose of happiness that is partly museum-induced, partly food-induced and most definitely Thalia-induced.

He can’t find words for how wonderful it is to share these magical moments with her, away from the whole professor-and-student sword that’s usually dangling over their heads.

Thalia drinks the last of her coffee. “Well, I’m pretty sure you did all your touristy homework and have figured out a whole list of things you are planning to tick off. Am I right or am I right?”

Tom throws his head back and guffaws. “You know me entirely too well, darling.”

With a flourish, he pulls an actual list out of his pocket, grinning at her exaggerated eye roll. He smoothes the crinkled paper out on the table.

When Thalia leans closer to get a good look, he acts on instinct again and kisses her. It’s hardly more than a gentle peck, though he deepens it a little when her lips part, delighting in her sweet sigh. He lets the tip of his tongue brush over her full lips before pulling back.

The look of surprise and joy on her face momentarily lets his mood nose-dive. This, this right there is what she should have. A man who can date her, take her out and spoil her properly. A man who devotes all of his time to her and who will march right into that house and face her family bravely because he intends to stick with her through thick and thin.

Determined not to let the real world burst his giddy bubble, Tom slides a finger down the list.

“Which item can you recommend?”

She concentrates, her forehead puckering in a slight frown. As usual, she’s willing to dedicate 100% of herself into whatever needs doing, whether it’s studies or showing a secret lover around town.

“The Adler Planetarium is amazing,” she says thoughtfully, tugging on a strand of hair until he pulls it out of her grip and curls it around his fingers. “Their Sky Theater offers you virtual-reality trips through space and time which are seriously mind boggling. And if you’re really lucky, you can meet one of the top-notch researchers who are responsible for the museum.”

“Oh, tempting.” Tom can feel himself getting all bouncy in his seat again, which reminds him of his sister Emma always telling him he’s somehow managed to trap a five year old in an adult’s body.

“The Museum of Science and Industry is another of my favorites,” she adds. “It’s got a restored U-505 German submarine, a simulated coal mine and a vintage diesel-electric train. Lots of action instead of only dusty exhibits.”

“Can’t we do both? I promise to keep my enthusiasm mostly bottled up and move quickly through all the halls.” Tom gives her his best puppy dog look, which makes her laugh and swat his arm none too gently.

“You’re a pain in the ass, Tom.”

She hasn’t called him Professor Hiddleston once today, and although it’s a turn-on to hear her do so, he’s rather glad because he wants to be plain Tom here.

Unable to resist temptation, he slides a hand to her knee and toys with the hem of her skirt while leaning close enough to speak into her ear. “As far as I recall, I haven’t been allowed close enough to your ass yet to cause any pain, other than the occasional light spanking. But if you feel inclined to change that…”

She makes a squeaky sound and knocks his hand off her leg, wagging a finger at his fit of giggles. “I swear, if you keep that up, I’ll happily let my family torture me again and leave you to your own devices in big, mean Chicago.”

But her eyes dance merrily, and she holds her hand out to him when she gets up from the chair.

“Now stop acting like a teenager, we’ve got two items to cross off your list.”

“Darling, I have a mental list you should consider sometime as well then.”

Her eyes grow wide as his words sink in and he throws his head back in laughter, quickly clearing their table before wrapping his arm around her shoulder to make their exit.

#

They visit both the Museum of Science and Industry at Hyde Park and the Adler Planetarium with its domed roof that reminds Tom a little of a study trip to Berlin in Germany, several years ago. By the time they are done, Thalia grumbles good-naturedly about wearing holes into the soles of her boots, and Tom is bouncing with another energy boost because the thought of trying out local food is so tempting.

“Don’t laugh, love, but I’m hungry again.  What do you recommend?” he asks. “I’m starving and I want to try absolutely everything Chicago is famous for.”

Thalia gives him another of her eye rolls, hooking her arm through his to pull him to a bus stop.

“Oh my god, that metabolism of yours!  I’m jealous!” She shakes her head in disbelief.  “Well, Chicago IS famous for food, so brace yourself for the experience of a lifetime.”

She holds up her free hand, counting off on her fingers, “We have deep-dish pizza, which is pure heaven and I haven’t found any like it out East. There’s the Chicago-style hot dog with all the fixings… And all sorts of high-end cuisine stuff if you think it’s below your gentleman status to eat what everyone does.”

Tom snickers and gives her butt a light slap. “I’ve heard about the hot dogs, actually. Weren’t they a result of the Great Depression?” She nods and he continues. “What’s on them?”

“My favorite is just the standard version, with an all-beef hot dog on a steamed poppy seed bun. It’s topped with yellow mustard, relish, tomato wedges, chopped onions, pickle, hot peppers and celery salt.”

With a groan, he pulls her closer. “Okay, I need one of these like I need air to breathe. Lead the way, oh heroic, merciful tour guide, and prevent my death of starvation.”

They take the bus and end up at Portillo’s, googling its impressive history and success story while waiting for the food.

Stuffed with hot dogs, but still drooling over their dessert of strawberry shortcake and chocolate éclair cake, they manage small talk between bites.

“So, haven’t seen much of the US since you arrived here?” Thalia inquires after he’s fed her with a forkful of chocolatey delight.

“No, haven’t had the time yet.” Tom lets her feed him in return, staring into her eyes while suggestively licking his lips, pleased to see her hand wobble a little. “I’ve been around the world a bit, though.”

“Oh, tell me more.”

He shrugs modestly. “Mostly Europe during my youth. Spain, France, Italy, Russia. A couple of years ago, I accompanied some colleagues to Germany.”

“What about the rest of Britain? Or do the English make it a point to snobbishly ignore their neighbors?”

He wagged his fork at her and relishes his last bite before answering. “I visited Scotland with my father once. And my mother took my sisters and me to Ireland when we were still young.”

His face clouds over momentarily at memories of a childhood that had been anything but easy but was mixed with enough happy incidents to not bother him too much now. At least he hadn’t carried any serious scars of his parents’ divorce over into adulthood…though he should probably rethink his rules on relationships.

“Oh, and I flew to India for my sister’s wedding,” he adds with a smile, deliberately pulling himself back to the presence. “That was just…surreal and truly beautiful.”

Thalia smiles back at him and entwines her fingers with his when he reaches for her hand.

“And you?” he wants to know. “You’ve got the whole world waiting for you. Where do you want to go?”

She screws up her face in thought, as if there’s too much to consider.

“Everywhere,” she answers with a laugh.  “I’ve got to finish my degree, but fortunately it could take me all the places I could never afford to go on my own.  I’ve applied to internships in Paris, Cairo, Athens and Rome for museum work and archeological digs.  I’m just waiting each day for the right phone call.  There’s a box of dusty clothes ready to go in the back of the closet, aching for more dig dirt,” she jokes.

Tom leans forward and caresses her cheek with his other hand, scooting his chair closer to hers and resting his leg against hers.  “I hate the idea of you being so far away.”

Her head drops, her hair falling around her, but her blush is unmistakeable. She seems at a loss for words and it endears her even more to him. Dammit, Thomas. This trip was the best worst idea ever…

She grabs the ticket from the table and the two tussle over who will pay the bill. Tom insists that she’s already playing tour guide so he absolutely must pacify his inner gentleman by paying for lunch.

“Fine… But I’d like you to let me take care of you sometimes too, I’m not totally broke you know.”  His scowl changes her thought and she forges on.  “What’s next on your list, Mister?” Thalia wants to know, still pouting at her defeat.

“You know what, why don’t you suggest something?” He smiles at her. “As I said before, today’s in your hands, bills excluded.”

She smiles back. “Millennium Park is kind of a no-brainer, despite the weather. Want to give it a go?”

“Sure, that’s where the Bean is, right?!”

She laughs at his enthusiasm, bundling up to brave the cold Chicago air. They make it there in no time, discovering that a lot of people are bracing the cold to get photos in front of the iconic Cloud Gate sculpture with its metallic bean form and cloud-reflecting surface. Tom takes a few selfies with Thalia, debating with himself whether to share these lovely memories with his family or not, and deciding against it with a heavy heart.

As happy as he is today, he keeps realizing one thing that obscures his inner sunshine momentarily: In a world with less prejudice, Thalia and he would make a great couple. But as things are, a normal relationship is out of the question and not something either of them is ready for anyway. He knows he should wish for her to have someone else to share such joyous moments with—but he doesn’t. He wants her to himself for a bit longer at least.  They take their own sweet time, walking the city streets, giggling and window shopping, dragging out their stolen moment together.

Close to evening, Thalia takes him up on the 360 Chicago, formerly known as the John Hancock Observatory where the 94th floor – 1,000 feet up – offers a view for miles and miles, across four states. They dine up there at the restaurant, and again Tom can’t resist doing all the little things proper couples should. He feeds her and teases her, touches her as much as he can, asks her personal questions and stores away each morsel of information as if his life might one day depend on the right answer.

“Tom, I’ve had a wonderful day.  I hate to see it end, but I really should be getting back home.  There’s a train switch and I don’t want to miss it.”  Her eyes glisten in the low light of the restaurant. Her tone is wistful and tells him what he wishes to know.

Taking her hand in his across the table he runs his thumb over the back of her hand.  “Thalia, darling, if you’re willing to risk it with your family, I’d love for you to stay with me tonight.”

Her eyes search his, search his face, looking for what, he doesn’t know. She brushes a floppy curl from his forehead and runs her thumb across his scarf, and he leans into her touch, craving more. Slowly her grin turns up. “Let me make a call to my stepmother. She’ll know how to soothe things over with Dad.”

#

Nestled in the warmth of the back seat of the cab, Tom is pleasantly surprised when Thalia takes the initiative to kiss him, at first unsure and timid.  He tugs on her scarf, pulling her closer and acknowledging his need.  Her hand grips his thigh as the kisses grow more heated.  He bites back a chuckle at the cab driver watching in the rearview mirror while they make out like two lusty teenagers.  The ride is entirely too short and by the time they make it to the hotel, he wants nothing more than to lose himself inside her and forget the rest of the world.

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