Final Countdown

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Being Thalia

Chapter 35

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 2020

Summary: In the days before the Big Occasion, there’s more for Thalia to handle than shopping, planning, and eating too much cake.

Previous Chapter 34, A Better Man

December 2021

Pushing the door open, Thalia waits for her stepmother to enter her little apartment. The cold winter wind whips around her, tangling her hair and she quickly closes the door behind her. Dropping the packages by the door, she slumps against the old wooden frame.

“What were we thinking? What the hell was I thinking when I let him talk me into a wedding in two weeks! I need my fuckin’ head examined.” She runs her hand over her hair, trying to tame the wild curls. She huffs, blowing a short piece out of her eyes. “Why didn’t you stop me, Stacey?”

The older woman giggles. “Would you have listened? You’re so much like your father, dear. Once you get an idea in your head, there’s no stopping you. And that man and his smooth accent, he charmed you into it before you gave it a second thought.”

“British arse.” Thalia pushes off from the door, unwrapping her trademark pink scarf from around her neck. Tucking it in the pocket, she rubs her belly. “We ate too many cake samples today. I don’t feel so good.”

Stacey nods her blonde head, her fair beauty the opposite of her step-daughter’s. “Tried to talk you both out of that too.”

“Can I gain so much weight in a week that the dress won’t fit?” Thalia’s dark eyes grow wide in panic.

“A week, love? Hardly. Our flight leaves in the morning and the wedding is in five days.”

“Five days. What the hell? Were we drunk? Who allowed us to make these grown-up decisions?!”

“You’re both adults.” Stacey tilts her head. “Not that either of you acted like it today in the bakery. I truly think you sampled one of everything. It’s a wonder Tom didn’t call from the airport, complaining he’s sick.”

“You’re right. I hope he’s okay.” Thalia spins on the spot. “Where’s my phone?”

Stacey enters the bathroom in the small apartment. “Check in the bag from the lingerie store. I think I saw you drop it in there after we left Tom at the airport.” The door closes behind her and Thalia hears the sound of running water.

Picking up the little pink bag from a ridiculously expensive boutique, Thalia carries it over to the couch. Pulling out the flimsy lace, she drops it in her lap, digging around for her phone. Tangled in the garter belt, she pulls it out, smiling at the phone case Tom gave her for Christmas. A collage of photos of the two of them on various outings, including the photo of them together at the archaeology site dig in Stratford Upon Avon. Two weeks. She’d waited two weeks. And six years to marry the man who owned her heart. Exhausted, her head flops back against the worn cushion. If someone had told her all those years ago, he’d really love her, or that she’d settle for an ordinary, married life, she’d have laughed.

She rubs her rounded stomach again, rumbling and rebelling against the sweet concoctions they’d sampled at the bakery. After all that trouble, she and Tom still hadn’t been able to decide on a wedding cake. Drinks with Henrí and his husband had settled it. Henrí would fly to London and prepare a special surprise, just for his lovely friend.

She smiles at the simple silver band on her finger. The braided pieces twisted around, and had once belonged to Tom’s grandmother. As the only grandson, it was his to give to the owner of his heart. Thalia found it very telling that it had not been offered to anyone else before her… A perfect fit, it was though it was meant to be, having been mapped by the stars, possibly long before they were even born.

Fortunately for her, his grandmother must have been a plump woman.

Theirs would be no ‘ordinary, married life.’ Preparing to sail around the coast of Greece, they had already decided on historic spots they wanted to venture to together. When they returned from their honeymoon, Tom would continue to travel back and forth from London to Madrid, to finish his next contracted book and tie up loose ends at the university. If he could find a job at one of the many facilities for higher learning in Madrid, their plan was to stay in the city that felt like home to Thalia. In the late Spring, they would enjoy a visit to New Zealand together, for a museum expansion for which she’d been hired to provide assistance. Her old pal Hemsworth had invited them to stay with him, and his wife, Jane. Tom was looking forward to the visit, enthusiastic about seeing his old friend as well, and to share good times together again, like brothers.

Everything seems to be falling into place, save for one little detail. Thalia’s heart thumps against her chest as she checks her messages. Chris still has not replied to her news, or acknowledged the invitation to her impending nuptials. Eyes closed and head back, she dozes off, worried for her friend, and surprised Avery hadn’t called her for the holidays.

Hours later, the phone rings. Looking at her screen, she shakes her head, realizing it was really only minutes. “Hey, Mr. Groom-to-Be. How are you?”

“I ate too much. All the frosting, and ganache… I’ve landed at Heathrow, but I may need to go straight to the hospital, make sure I’m not in some sort of sugar shock. I feel awful.”

“Say that again.”

“What?”

“Awe-fool. I like the way you stretch it out when you say it,” she teases, trying to mimic his dialect.

“I feel positively dreadful and awful, and you’re making fun?”

She groans. “Not by any means, I feel awe-fool too. My teeth even hurt. I think the sugar might have rotted them out.” She toes off her boots, letting them fall haphazardly to the floor, flopping under the coffee table. “Would you still marry me if I was toothless?”

Tom’s laughter snorts. “Oh, darling, that would be dreadful! Please don’t let that happen… You’re in a mood. Are you alright?”

Thalia rests the side of her head up on her hand, her elbow propped on the arm of the couch. “You know how much I love shopping for clothes.” Her voice drips with sarcasm. “I think we found the dress though, and there’s a store in London that has it in my size. Tomorrow after we check the venue, I’d love for your mom and sister to come with Stacey and I, to see me try it on.”

“Oh, they’d love that. You’ll call them after we’re off the phone?” He seems to be moving his cell away from his mouth, and she can hear him giving instructions to someone. “Did they treat you like a princess, serve wine and goodies while you were trying things on, like those bride shows on the tele?”

“God, it was awe-fool. Strangers poking me, trying to button and zip the dresses up, attempting to hide my love handles and shove them in place. I think I’m bruised…” She leans forward and rubs a tender spot on her back. “How can actors and actresses stand that, to have someone treat you like a mannequin all the damn time?”

Tom chuckles. “I can imagine that’s quite horrible, trying to make small talk, while getting your inseam measured.”

“I swear my tits were groped more today than they have been in weeks,” she teases, flicking her tongue between her teeth, continuing to rub her back.

“Then I obviously am falling down on my job duties as Mr. Groom-to-Be. I’ll added ‘more boob fondling’ to my growing list of things to do!”

“Yes, please do,” Thalia chuckles softly, resting back against the comfy couch.

Tom clears his throat, changing the subject. “Any news from the States?”

“It’s okay, ya know. You can gloat. You won, and now he won’t call me back. He doesn’t want to be friends and-”

“Thalia. Darling, please stop. I don’t want him causing you any pain. I know his friendship means a lot to you, and you had hoped Avery would be your flower girl. I don’t gloat in this, if I know you are hurting.”

“I think you’re lying. I think you are doing a little happy dance right now, in the backseat of your Uber ride, glad he’s out of my life.”

Tom sighs. “Fine, yes. We have no lies between us. It does make me a little happy, but not at the expense it’s hurting you. I’ll make some phone calls to friends I have in the department, see if I can collect any news for you.”

“You’d do that?”

“Well, I won’t drag Evans to the wedding, that’s for damn sure,” he chuckles. “But I can see to it that the man at least calls you, and acknowledges your news. I know your friendship is important.”

“Tom, I can hear you rolling your eyes.” She smiles softly, silent tears collecting under her lashes.

“My eyes don’t rattle, love. I do everything for you. I can do this as well, because it means something to you. Remember my mantra, ‘I’m a better man.’”

Thalia lifts her head when Stacey exits the bathroom, wrapped in her towel and dashing to the guest room under the stairs. “You’re the best man. You’re my man.”

“Just remember that, always, and we’ll be fine, darling.” Tom addresses the driver again, and Thalia winces at the sound of honking car horns coming through the phone connection. “I’ll collect you and your mother at the airport in the morning? Then straight away to the venue I want you to see. An old classmate married there, and I think it would be lovely this time of year.”

“It’s London, in December. Everything will be cold and dreary. Like I said, I don’t care where we get married-”

“-As long as we do,” Tom chimes in with her, finishing the sentence she has said so many times over the last few days. “You really would just show up in your boots and a sundress if you could, wouldn’t you, darling?”

Now it’s Thalia’s turn to sigh. “No,” she huffs. “Cuz you look too damn good in a tux. I don’t wanna miss an opportunity to see that. Oh, God! Tom, a photographer! We need a-”

“Already taken care of, love. Don’t worry. Well, if you want to worry, I guess you could. Luke and the boys are taking me on a stag night later this evening. He wanted to do it before you came to town.”

“Oh, Lord. Just don’t get arrested. I won’t marry you in a jail.”

“Ah, so you do care where we get married?” Tom jokes.

“I did not go to college, and move to Europe, to marry some dude with a record. If I wanted to do that, I’d have stayed in my old neighborhood. I’ve matured. I have standards now.” She laughs loudly. Her wide open mouth quickly turns into a yawn. “I’m beat. I need to finish packing, and get some sleep since we gotta be at the airport so early.”

“Right. Don’t forget your passport and birth certificate. We’ll need those to pick up the marriage license tomorrow.”

She mentally ticks off another box on her list. “Got it. Already in my bag for carry on.” She yawns again. “Tell Luke I said to have fun, and to keep you in one piece.” She pauses. “No strippers either.”

Tom’s haughty laughter hangs on the line as the call ends.

“Do British guys go to strip clubs?” she mumbles, opening her messages.

“I think in England, burlesque would be more high class,” Stacey comments, entering the room with her hair tied up in rag rollers.

“Uh, thanks, Mom. I didn’t need to know that.” Thalia sticks out her tongue. She quickly taps out another message, ‘I really wanted to talk to you about this. I thought we were friends?’

Lifting from the couch, she watches her stepmom dig through the fridge. “How can you even think of food after all that cake?”

Click here to Chapter 36, Finally

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

A Better Man

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A Better Man

Being Thalia

Chapter 34

By devikafernando & avenger-nerd-mom

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 3003

Summary: A lazy Sunday morning, reading in bed, turns into something more-

Previous Chapter, Chapter 33: Over Her Head

December 2021

This is bliss. And she’s missed it, Thalia realizes. More than she cares to admit.

Not reading, of course; she always manages to squeeze that into her schedule because books have been her first love and will always be part of her life.

It’s sharing the experience of reading that feels so wonderful. A lazy Sunday morning together. They’re lounging on her bed, snuggling while the rain is pelting the window with a lulling pitter-patter. The colorful Christmas lights on the tree Tom insisted they get for the bedroom add a soft glow to the room. She’s stolen one of Tom’s ultra-comfy sweaters, big and worn enough to accommodate her curves. Off and on, she inhales deeply, bathing in the oddly familiar and soothing scent of Tom with its hint of citrus and male.

Tom is wearing the blue twin to her red sweater, the sleeves rolled up to reveal his freckled forearms, long fingers cradling an iPad. He’s totally engrossed in whatever he’s reading on it, the tip of his tongue poking out in concentration occasionally.

Thalia drinks in his profile, which has softened a tiny bit over the years although the scruff highlights his still admirable jawline. With the slightest, contented sigh, she turns her attention back to her paperback and wiggles to get more comfortable.

They started out an hour ago with her head in his lap and his fingers sifting gently through her curls, massaging her scalp almost absentmindedly while both of them were reading. Then Tom got up to make them two hot chocolates, and when they settled back down, it was him with his head in her cushiony lap. He turned it occasionally, to softly rub his scruff over her thigh or press a kiss to it.

“I love a lazy day like this,” Tom murmurs absently, almost as though he’s thinking out loud.

Thalia drags her fingertip down his nose. “Can you read my mind? I was thinking the same thing earlier.”

His chest rises and falls when he chuckles softly. “I think, love, the ability to read your mind could be a very dangerous thing.”

“It’s full of nothing but food and sinful thoughts,” she giggles, flipping the page in her book.

“The best kind,” he replies, tracing his hand down her raised calf, clad in Christmas leggings. She hums, nodding. “Lazy vacations like this are wonderful. All the days are running into the next. Remind me when we’re going to the airport to get your mother?”

“Move, you’re making my leg fall asleep.” He huffs when she slides out from under him. Standing next to the bed, she shakes out her achy muscles. “Wednesday, around two? But we’ll have to leave earlier that morning. Remember? I rented a car for a few days.”

She steps out into the hall and jogs towards the bathroom.

“And Christmas is next Sunday?”

Thalia ignores him, hating when he yells at her through closed doors. Just to be petty, she takes a few extra moments to apply lotion to her hands after washing them.

On her walk to the kitchen, she tilts her head to the side, stretching out the kinks in her neck. “Yeah, but we’ll go to Mass the night before and open a few presents at dinner. That’s our tradition.” With a plate of cookies in her hand, she returns to the bedroom, crawling up next to him. “Dad never wanted to wait. Stacey says if she’d have let him, he’d have never even wrapped the presents, just given them to me when he bought them. And he was always sick after opening presents and dinner. He would skip church and Stacey and her family would take me to Mass.” Breaking a cookie in half, she hands a piece to him. Licking the crumbs from her thumb, she continues, “I didn’t figure it out till I was older that he stayed home to put out the Santa gifts that always magically appeared while we were gone.”

Tom good-naturedly laughs, thoroughly enthralled in the story of her childhood. “That sounds like a good plan.”

Tucking the pillow to her chest, she flops face first on the bed, hugging it under her, and pulling her book in front of her. She agrees. “They’d let me stay up and play with my new toys until I wore out under the tree, and they could sleep in the next morning until it was time to meet family for brunch.”

Rolling over onto his belly, he snuggles next to her, copying her pose, propping himself up on his elbows. “It’s nice to hear you tell stories, share your memories with me.”

Thalia blushes, hiding behind her curls. “It’s therapeutic. I can’t put all my feelings in a box and lock them away anymore. Or so Doc keeps telling me.” She rolls her eyes.

“It’s nice,” Tom reiterates. “Lets me learn more about you.”

She lifts her eyebrow. “Well, I’m done for now. That’s all you get to know today. I’m sure Stacey can tell you all kinds of stories when she’s here.”

“She is a talker.”

Clearing her throat, she explains, “She was trying to cover up for Dad’s sullen behavior.”

She sucks in her breath, hoping he’ll let that comment slide for now.

Patting the back of her hand, he quietly says, “Your father would want you to be happy. Are you happy?”

Thalia grins. “If we can stop talking about my feelings now, that would make me happy.”

Shaking his head, Tom wraps his arm over her shoulder, pulling her close to kiss the top of her head. “Fine. Go back to studying, Professor Bareo.”

Morning turned to afternoon. Naturally, they shifted and drifted again after some time, and now she’s half draped across his lean, impossibly long body, one of Tom’s arms around her waist while he holds his iPad in the other hand.

“Here, listen to this.” Thalia sits up a little straighter, loving how her curves slide against the hard, muscled angles of his body, willing the instant twinge of arousal down because she enjoys this time of cuddling and reading.

“This is the chapter about Sapiens and language,” she clarifies briefly. She’s reading “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari because Tom mentioned it years ago and lately she’s found herself doing astonishingly many things he’s recommended. “So, he says it’s all about gossip: The new linguistic skills that modern Sapiens acquired about seventy millennia ago enabled them to gossip for hours on end.” She clears her throat. “Harari goes on to say that the majority of day to day communication, whether it’s social media or articles in newspapers, is gossip. Here, this is where it pertains to our world.” Thalia adjusts her glasses, reading from the thick book again. “Do you think that history professors chat about the reasons for World War One when they meet for lunch, or that nuclear physicists spend their coffee breaks at scientific conferences talking about quarks? Sometimes. But more often, they gossip about the professor who caught her husband cheating, or the quarrel between the head of the department and the dean, or the rumors that a colleague used his research funds to buy a Lexus.

She giggles, hearing Tom chuckle too as he adjusts his position and stuffs a pillow behind his back. “Well, as a professor, I can certainly certify that affairs and cars are mentioned more often than historic finds or quantum theory,” he says with a raised brow.

“This is one of the author’s more controversial statements but it makes a whole lot of sense,” he adds. After a thoughtful frown, he elaborates in his teaching voice, “Doesn’t Harari go on to say that Sapiens had the language advantage over others because they were able to transmit information about things that did not exist? Things they haven’t yet touched or seen or tasted or smelled? Which of course paved the way for religion in all its forms.”

Thalia sits up straighter, a finger between the pages marking her place in the book. “I swear, Tom, your ability to remember things is just freakish. It’s almost as if you have a photographic brain.”

He gives her a sheepish grin, the hint of a blush rising on his cheeks. “Can’t say I do, darling, but I sure wish I did. I’m sure I would be taking lots of brain photographs of you, then.”

“Idiot.” She scoffs and playfully punches his stomach.

Catching her wrist, Tom lifts her hand to his face and kisses each knuckle.

“Your idiot.”

Something about his words sink all the way into her, slides into all corners, sidles into the little cracks and holes and mends her. Completes her-

Not so keen to analyze it, to break the mood of a lazy Sunday, she pulls her hand away after a quick smile and focuses on her paperback again. She mimics Tom, sitting up and leaning against the headboard, offering him another smile when he stuffs a pillow behind her back as well so she can get comfortable.

After minutes of blissful silence, Tom speaks up.

“Listen, this is absolutely share-worthy too.” He clears his throat and fidgets with his glasses.

To begin with I love you with a depth and passion that I have felt for no one else in this life and if it astonishes you it astonishes me as well. I never thought that — even if one was in love — one could get so completely besotted with another person, so that a minute away from them felt like a thousand years.”

Glancing up from her book, Thalia shoots him a glance. She’s caught only some of it as she wasn’t prepared for such a long read-out excerpt. That sounds like a love letter? Surely Tom hasn’t suddenly developed a taste for romance novels?

“What on earth are you reading? Is that some romance novel? Since when do you read those?” Still thinking on her own reading, she doesn’t pay him much attention.

He clears his throat once more. “It’s from the Letters Live publication. Titled ‘All this I did without you’. A letter from British conservationist, Gerald Durell, to his future wife.”

His voice cracks a bit, and she wonders whether Tom might be catching a cold. He did run through the rain earlier this morning to fetch them breakfast from the little corner store he likes, getting thoroughly wet because of course he didn’t take an umbrella with him.

“Beautiful,” she mumbles, diving back into her reading matter when Tom doesn’t say anything else.

She’s read maybe half a page when he clears his throat, speaking up again. “There’s more, it’s quite lovely. Listen: Darling I want you to be you in your own right…always, especially with me.

Thalia’s head snaps up. “Okay, that IS a nice one. Sounds like something you’d tell me… Got any more gems like that? He sounds like he’s an amazing letter writer.” She sighs. “It’s a lost art, letter writing, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is. Sadly, some never find a way to express themselves.”

“I have old letters Dad wrote me when I went off to school. Postcards you sent me. I even have old text messages saved. But that’s not the same as a love letter, not really. It’s not tangible.”

Tom readjusts his glasses and takes a deep breath that makes his arm brush against hers. Why does he seem so agitated all of a sudden? Then again, it shouldn’t surprise her. If he’s in, he’s all in. It’s one of the things she loves so much about him. Someone else’s declaration of love probably has him all emotional, and he wants to discuss his thoughts on the passage and she’s babbling about text messages.

“I’m sorry.” She runs her hand down his arm, tracing her fingers over his veins. “I interrupted your reading. Please continue.”

With a small smile, she waits for more snippets as his eyes skim down and up again, his tongue darting out to moisten his lips.

“This one is my favorite passage.” Swallowing with an audible click, Tom sits up straighter and she wonders briefly whether he’ll turn it into a theatrical performance of sorts like when he reads Shakespeare to her.

In you I have found everything I want: you are beautiful, gay, giving, gentle, idiotically and deliciously feminine, sexy, wonderfully intelligent and wonderfully silly as well. I want nothing else in this life than to be with you, to listen and watch you (your beautiful voice, your beauty), to argue with you, to laugh with you, to show you things and share things with you, to explore your magnificent mind, to explore your wonderful body, to help you, protect you, serve you, and bash you on the head when I think you are wrong.

Thalia guffaws at the last one, clapping a hand over her mouth. Oddly, it feels almost sacrilegious to laugh now. There is something so solemn and heart-touching about the words, something so emotional and sincere in Tom’s hoarse voice. It’s almost as if he’s written these words just for her, not simply reading someone else’s love letter.

The crazy thought has barely entered her mind when Tom lifts his gaze from the iPad and looks straight at her, the blue of his irises dark and gleaming. Thalia freezes in place, reacting instinctively to the almost palpable shift in the atmosphere.

Whipping his glasses off his face, Tom shifts his body so he’s kneeling up on the bed and facing her. He reaches out to take her hand, and it registers that his is clammy and trembling slightly.

“Did you catch cold in the rain this morning?” She reaches up with her other hand to brush a floppy curl from his forehead. “Are you running a fever?” There sure is a feverish intensity to his gaze now, and his jaw is all tense.

Why can’t she shake the feeling that she’s missing an important point here? Why does her heart tell her something her mind hasn’t fully processed yet?

Thalia feels a shiver run down her spine for no apparent reason as Tom’s fingers tighten their grip on hers and he pulls in another deep breath.

“Thalia María Bareo.”

Oh god. Oh god, oh god, oh god.  Her brain starts to catch up. He’s not sick. He’s –

“I meant every word I just read to you. From the moment you came into my life, you’ve turned me upside down and inside out. You’ve made me a different man, hopefully even a better man.”

This…this can’t be happening. This isn’t what she thinks it is. Or is it?!

Tom’s grip grows so firm it’s almost painful, and his eyes are alarmingly shiny.

“In you, I have indeed found everything I’ve ever yearned for, everything a man could ever want. I was a fool, more than once. I let life come between us, other people come between us. But perhaps that was for the better because now I couldn’t be more certain…or more in love.”

There’s a dull rushing sound in her ears and her heart is beating so fast she puts her free hand against her chest as if to prevent it from falling out.

“Darling Thalia, my fragile, yet strong, orchid… my one and only, I love you more than words can express. Will you share your wonderful body and magnificent mind and above all, your generous heart with me, for the rest of our lives? Will you make me the most incandescently happy man that has ever walked this earth? Will you…” His voice breaks again as she holds her breath. “Will you marry me?”

* * *

Tom has never felt so anxious in his life. It’s all he can do to breathe, and in a corner of his mind he’s amazed that he’s got all the right words out. There was more he had been planning to say. A proposal that was somewhat more eloquent and elaborate, more his own phrases than those wonderfully meaningful quotes. But his heart overwhelmed him in the middle of it all—and maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. Because it’s all coming from his heart and he means every single word with all of his being.

He’s planned this…sort of. No stereotypes for them, like a ring hidden in dessert at a restaurant or a moon-lit walk where he’ll drop on his knee in front of her. They’re not a normal couple, theirs is not a normal love. And so this feels right. Books and feelings. And his life offered up on a platter, for her to accept or to kill him.

Thalia is staring, her mouth opening and closing silently, her fingers shaking. Or maybe he’s trembling so hard that he makes her shudder as well. When the silence stretches and the only reaction he gets is a single tear rolling down a chubby cheek, his heart plummets from his throat all the way to the floor and further down.

He feels hot and cold at the same time.

“Darling, say something,” he begs at last, feeling his whole world teeter on the brink.

“I…Tom…oh my god, Tom.”

Suddenly she’s blinking to life. Another tear rolls down—and then she launches herself at him and knocks him flat on his back, luckily not falling off the bouncing mattress.

As a garbled mumble against his chest, drowned in sniffling sobs, he hears her answer.

“Yes. Yes, I’ll marry you. Sir, Professor, Tom.” She giggles through her tears, lifting her eyes to his, the fevered pitch a match. “I’m yours, whatever you want me to call you!”

His smile is so wide, his face could nearly break in half. “Anything that makes you happy, my love, as long as I can call you Mrs. Hiddleston in return?”

Her lips land on his, soft and salty with tears. The corner of her mouth turns up to a smile and in her true fashion, she sasses back, “How does Bareo- Hiddleston sound?”

***

Proposal inspired from Tom Hiddleston reading Love Letters Live. For reference: This link has the full transcript as well as the video: https://sinosicat.com/2015/12/11/all-this-i-did-without-you/

Click here to read Chapter 35,  Final Countdown. There are two chapters remaining in this fan fic novella.

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

Over Her Head

1556734581474.jpg

Over Her Head

Being Thalia

Chapter 33

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 1656

Summary: A conversation with her stepmother makes Thalia realize her true growth.

Previous Chapter, Ready?

December 2021

Cradling the phone to her shoulder, Thalia digs through the box of wrapped ornaments. “I know it’s in here somewhere,” she mutters.

“Did you even hear what I asked? I asked what I should pack, weather-wise. Are you even paying attention to me? What are you doing that’s more important than talking to your mother?”

Thalia drops her hand down into her lap. “I’m sorry, Mum, you’re right. Just lookin’ for something I can’t find.” She sighs and tugs her cozy sweater over her belly. “No, I didn’t hear what you asked. Can you repeat it please?”

Stacey’s laughter stutters over the phone line. “Do you hear yourself? You just called me ‘Mum,’ with a British accent. Are you and Tom spending that much time together?”

Thalia screws up her face and scratches her brow. “Was that your original question? Or are you changing topics to try to get info from me?” She laughs. “Um, yeah. I guess we’re spending a fair amount of time together. I was in Greece for a week, after we got back from London, so-”

“London? What were you two doing there?”

Thalia blushes, grateful this isn’t a video chat. She swallows and runs her tongue over her teeth. “He took me to meet his parents. We had afternoon tea and cake with his mother and sister, before going to see a production in the West End, and meeting some of his school pals for drinks.”

“You met his old friends too?”

Thalia fidgets, wanting to get back to decorating the tree, and not wanting to give away too much information to Stacey. She takes every little detail and makes it bigger than it needs to be. She had shared with her mother they had patched things up and had been spending some time together, but she hadn’t gone into much depth, wanting to avoid the psychoanalyzing of every moment, every word spoken, that Stacey was known to put her through.

Besides, she likes keeping her new life with Tom private. Something they share between themselves because they want it that way. Not secret because it has to be, like before.

“We met his friend, Luke, and some other schoolmates happened to be at the pub where we were.” She clicks her teeth at the memory. “We didn’t stay long actually. One of the fellows was piss drunk and made an ugly comment about my weight.” She pushes down the flood of anger in her gut. “It was all I could do to drag Tom out before he started a fight. But he’d also had a pint or two, and was feeling no pain. Luckily, Luke and I got him out of there before fists started flying.”

“Oh, Thalia, honey, I’m so sorry. I hope that didn’t put a damper on your weekend getaway.”

She hides her smile behind her hand. No. The damper on the weekend was when the proper asshole insisted she sleep alone in the guest room, since his mother had it fixed it ready for her stay. He’d told her she was too noisy! Of all things!

She’d gotten even by sending him filthy texts and photos the rest of the night before finally falling asleep in his old rugby jersey. And when she trounced downstairs in her usual ‘morning before coffee’ grumpy mood, his mother was astonishingly nice. Kind and open with exactly the same charismatic smile as her son, and with a backbone of steel hidden beneath the affable charm. Mrs. Hiddleston–correction, Diana–hadn’t once treated Thalia oddly, even though she had reason enough to do so. They’d amiably shared coffee and fresh scones, teasing Tom about is wild, floppy curls when he came in from his morning run.

“No.” She answers her stepmother after blinking away the memories. “We had a really nice visit. His childhood home, his mother and sister, everything was great. It’s all so funny when you really get to know people and find out they are definitely a product of where they were raised. Books and music everywhere. Everything with a story or fact to go with it. His mother once worked in the stage and theater industry, so Diana really fostered his love for the dramatic arts. She had photos of his school plays, and albums with his school papers. He was always so smart!” She shakes her head in disbelief of his achievements. “You could tell he was a charismatic young boy.” Stacey giggles, but Thalia ignores her. “It was nice to get to know him on a more personal level, you know what I mean?”

Stacey hums quietly. “Thalia, neither of you are getting younger. He practically left a woman at the altar to have you back. Is this what you really want?”

Want, Mom? We’re just together, having fun. Getting to know one another, differently now. Better now. We’re both adults, have our own jobs and interests-”

“-Thalia, don’t be foolish. That man will want to settle down with you. There’s only one reason a man his age calls off a wedding and mere weeks later takes a former love home to meet his parents. If you aren’t looking for long term, if you’re going to break his heart-”

“Stacey, stop. Just stop it. We’re not putting a label on anything.” Is ‘mine’ a label? She smiles slyly, again thankful this is not a video chat. “He comes to the city to research and write. I fly off wherever the museum sends me. In the next five months, I have to be in Greece again, Australia and Egypt. I might have to speak at a conference in London. We’re together when we can be, but we’re not making a big deal of it.” She tries to squelch down the gnawing feeling that meeting his mother was a big deal. Maybe if she keeps shoving that aside, the thought will go away. “I’m just enjoying life, right now. I’m happy. You’ll see when you get here for Christmas.”

Moving the conversation away from her relationship with Tom, she tries to refocus her mother. “I can’t wait to take you to all my favorite places, and introduce you to my friends, Henrí and his family, and Lucía. You’re gonna love it so much, you’ll wanna move here!” She digs her hand back in the box, looking for the Christmas ornament Tom bought her in Munich years ago. “So if you wanna keep talking nonsense, I’m going to hang up. Or you can tell me more of the things you wanna see when you’re here or the neighborhood gossip from back home? Oh! Did I tell you I’m wearing the Christmas sweater you sent? It’s so soft, I love it!”

Twenty minutes later, the phone call is over. Thalia rolls over onto her knees, placing her hands on the couch and pushes herself up. The couch cushions separate and a piece of paper draws her eye. She pulls it from its wedged spot, laughing at the childish scrawl. “I think you’re beautiful. You’re my warrior princess. Always, Tom.”

Dropping it in the glass dish on the table, it lands with the pile of other secret notes she’s been finding around the house. Some feature words of encouragement and wishes for a good day, others spout Shakespeare quotes or random facts he knows and wants to share.

Lifting the box from the floor to the coffee table, she leans over to better dig through it. The wrapped ornament she was looking for is nestled in the corner, next to some popsicle stick tree ornaments she and Avery made together. Carefully unwrapping the ornament from Tom, she decides both have an equal place on the Christmas tree this year. Both have made her the woman she is today…

She admires the individuality of the hand blown glass ornament he’d bought at the Christkindlmarkt the year they’d spent the holiday together in Germany. It had been too painful to look at after he left her in Paris, so it had been hidden in the bottom of the box. The Christmas box that went from Paris, to the US and survived the fire, and followed her to Madrid. Holding it up to the light of the setting sun coming through the window, the colors dance and swirl, making her feel warm and happy.

Turning up the volume on the Christmas music playing from her tablet, she places the conversation with Stacey out of her mind. Stacey, who always worried about her, always pushed her to find a man to take care of her. “That’s her life. Not mine. I can take care of myself.”

Realizing she’d spoken aloud, she shakes her head. With her free hand, she loops the ribbon from the handmade child’s ornament over one finger and an angel ornament her father had given her over another. Thalia carries them to the tree, adding the last additions to the tiny little tree on the table top window. Tapping the bottom of a Disney ornament Chris had gifted her on a trip, she watches it spin, laughing when it bumps the hotdog one she and Tom bought their first Christmas together, when he’d surprised her in Chicago, to commemorate their feast at Portillo’s. Always a battle between those two. She laughs out loud, stepping back to admire the tree. Tilting her head to the little display of colorful ornaments collected over the years from her travels, something feels like it’s missing.

With a sigh, she reaches for her phone and snaps a quick picture. Attaching it to a message, she sends Tom a little note: Something’s missing from my tree! Bring your tartan wool scarf this weekend. It would make the perfect wrap around the base. Found another little note… Thank you!

When she re-reads the message, it gives her pause. These notes he’s left for her. The messages they send each other. How things automatically remind her of Tom or how he will sometimes give her impulsive calls just to share a tidbit of new knowledge–this isn’t what two people in a casual affair would do.

Deep down she knows that there’s nothing ‘casual’ about her feelings for him. Never was, never will be. The thought is scary…and yet it doesn’t terrify her as much as it would have some years ago.

Click ahead to Chapter 34: A Better Man

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

 

Déjà Vu

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Déjà Vu

Being Thalia

Chapter 29

By avenger-nerd-mom and devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 2396

Summary: Tom and Thalia re-live a night from their past, and make it better.

Previous Chapter, Surrender

November 2021

Standing in front of the glowing dome, Tom pats down the front of his formal tux. A member of the serving staff greets him. “Señor, ¿tiene Ud. la invitación?

He smiles, thankful he’s been brushing up on his language studies. For such a multicultural city, Madrid holds strong to pride in its language. “Soy un amigo de Thalia Bareo.” He pats his pockets. “No tengo una invitación.”

¿Sr. Iddleston?” He nods, still unaccustomed to the swallowing of the H sound when his name is spoken in Spanish, and the server smiles. “Come this way,” she says, speaking in quiet, broken English. “She said to show you inside.”

Tom follows the older woman, looking up to admire the lights and floral displays. Inside the building, she reaches for the coat, draped over his arm. She points to the coat closet and leaves his side, returning to her job.

Tom watches as other couples and patrons fill in, wondering where his lovely woman could be. She’d left her flat in a rush this morning, slinging a large bag over her shoulder, a garment bag hanging from a finger she held high up over her shoulder. “There was a problem with the food order, and I’ve got to go see if I can fix it.” Her smile was wide and inviting. “I can’t serve food truck tapas to the wealthiest in town if we want the additional money for the Gaudí exhibit.”

He’d lifted from the bed, and offered to tag along. “No, you stay. You’ve got the book query to finish by next weekend. I have so many things to do, and you don’t speak enough Spanish to really help.”

“Are you saying I’d be in the way?” he asked, fluffing out his hair.

“Yes.” Thalia threw a kiss over her shoulder, smiling warmly. “I have a hair and makeup appointment this afternoon, photos for the museum, and I’ll see you at the hall a las ocho.”

She’d been out the door before he’d been able to reply. After her exit, he’d lazed in bed a bit longer, answering some emails on his phone and dashing out a few more sentences to his literary agent. His tummy rumbled and he finally dressed and ventured out onto the streets. He proudly dangled her house key from his finger, flipping it around in his hand as he walked through the neighborhood. He stopped to admire the crafts and wares of the vendors setting up for the afternoon. Purchasing a small wooden painted postcard of the park where they’d walked the night before, he happily sighed, tucking it in his back pocket. Continuing his excursion, he smiled at shopkeepers, setting out café tables for the day. But few were ready to serve breakfast, as the locals rarely eat as early he does.

Turning the corner on the next block, the smell of fresh baked bread greeted his nose. A portly man called out a greeting and beckoned for him to cross. Watching for traffic, Tom jogged across the street.

¡Bienvenido! Ven aquí, ven aquí. ¿Americano?

Tom shook his head, searching for the word he lacked. Seeing the banners across the front of the little café, he pointed to the Union Flag. The man nodded, and ushered him to a little table with a chess set. The man barked out some orders to a young woman behind the counter and sat down with Tom. He reached forward and moved one of the white pawns into play. Tom counteracted the move. The two shared a game and a traditional breakfast of toast, smeared with crushed tomatoes and olive oil. With an eye on the time, Tom finished the game, allowing the man to win, but promised to return. He left a hefty tip, and took a business card with him so he’d be able to find the place another day.

If asked, he’d hate to admit to Thalia he’d spent the remainder of his day studying chess moves on his computer and talking on the phone with his sister. She’d questioned him about his absence and he’d vaguely replied that he was researching for a new book.

“Really? The Clarke’s heard from Sabrina you might have a new woman already. Is that true, little Tommy boy?”

Tom wanted to keep his secret awhile longer, and dishing details to his sister was as good as taking out an ad in the Daily Mail. The whole county would know before the postman arrived the next day. “Believe me, sweetest Sis, when there’s news to tell, you’ll be the first to know.” He’d shaken his head vehemently, knowing that was the biggest lie he’d told in recent times.

“Tom!” His head snaps around, seeking out the lovely woman addressing him. “There you are!”

For a split second, he worries Thalia’s going to rush across the room, despite her high heels, and tackle him. She moves forward and stops, tilting her head. Even from a distance, without his glasses, he sees her mouth form the word ‘fuck’ as she mentally undresses him from his fitted designer tux.

He blushes, bowing his head. He allows her eyes their fill, before rising tall to gaze upon her again. The plunging neckline and revealing slit up the thigh of her tight black dress leaves little to the imagination. Before the night is over, he fears he’ll be fighting off competitors, other men, vying for her attentions.

Crossing the room to join him, two staffers stop her with questions and she waves them away. A third person detains her and she listens intently to the inquiry as she continues moving towards Tom. The intruder sees where Thalia’s true attention lies and slowly steps away.

“Hey, handsome. You clean up nice, despite the shaggy hair.” She steps closer and smooths out an unseen wrinkle on the satiny lapel. “You know if you ever pull that mess into a man bun, I’m chopping it off?”

“So you’ve said,” he chuckles. His eyes dart to the side. “You’re working. Am I allowed to touch you?”

She grabs his hands, placing them on her rounded hips. “I’m officially off the clock. Well, except for my speech.” She lists her head to the right in thought. “And when I have to get up and introduce the director of the board.”

“You look stunning. So much more confident than the last time we attended a ball together. You already were a gorgeous girl. Now you’ve become a beautiful woman, Thalia. On the inside and out.” Tom gazes into her eyes, wanting to remember every detail of the moment. He can feel his thoughts written on his face, his eyebrows lifting of their own accord, expressing unspoken love and adoration for this amazing creature. He takes in her freckles and the little scar on her lip from coaching Little League, and the faint scar across her left cheek. The last one still sends an ice-cold shiver down his spine because it reminds him how she was attacked years ago. He wants to kiss her full, pouty lips but doesn’t want to smudge her makeup before the event begins. Her eyes watch his, the corner of her mouth twitching into a small smile. His gaze drops lower, her pulse fluttering at her pulse point, just below her ear where he loves so much to nibble and bite.

Her dress reveals her alluring cleavage, the start of her flowered tat peaking above the cut of the expensive fabric. He wants to get lost there for days, to bury himself between her ample bosom and suffocate, dying a happy man-

“Did I ever tell you I can read your thoughts, Thomas?”

He licks his lip, looking up at the dancing whimsy in her eyes. “Do tell, Mistress, what do they say?”

“You’re thinking, ‘How long do I have to look at her face before I look at her boobs? Was that it, was that long enough? Shit, I have a little smirk cuz I wanna look at boobs. Ok. There. I looked at her face long enough, now my eyes can slowly look down… BOOBS. Dammit. I’m not smirking now. Lust is written all over my face. I can’t help it. I should look back up, but no. Boobs!’”

Tom throws his head back, releasing his robust, gut busting laughter. To hold it in would cause him pain. “Oh, sweet Thalia, you are a treat. A devil in a party dress, that’s what you are! How did I ever let you slip from my grasp?”

“You were young and foolish. I’d like to think you’ve grown wiser-”

“You are a saucy little thing tonight! How about a swing around the dance floor as punishment?”

She lifts her eyebrows and signals a staff member nearby. As Tom leads her to the dance floor, one hand rests possessively on her lower back, the other still holding hers tightly.  He chuckles ‘eheheh’ when the band changes their tune, seamlessly switching over to the song he and Thalia had danced to at the Alumni Gala over six years before. “You are a delight, darling! You never forget anything, do you?”

She smiles, twirling in his grasp to face him. “There are things about that night I wish I could forget. I was horrible, wretched, Tom.” She places her hand in his raised one as he gracefully wraps the other around her waist, holding her close. “To more than one person, including myself-”

“-Thalia,” he interrupts another stream of her self-flagellation for her wanton youth. “Have you forgiven me for being cold and aloof?” She raises her sculpted eyebrow in a silent question. “I’ve forgiven you, long ago for anything I unknowingly pushed you to do.” He inhales deeply. “And if you aimed that winning smile of yours at… at Evans,” he pushes on, swallowing hard, “He’d have been a fool and blind not to have fallen in love with you as well. I’ve made peace with it all, love. As I’ve said, it all brought me back to you. I think we’re meant to be exactly where we are now. ‘The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.’ And I believe-”

“-Tom, do you have a Shakespeare quote for every occasion? Do you have like a dusty old file cabinet up in your brain, each drawer and file labeled? Do you just think, ‘I need a quote about love and life and the passage of time!’ And it just pops in your head?’” she asks, incredulously.

He shakes his head in laughter, a loose curl falling across his forehead. “Well, darling, you know them too, it would seem.”

She blushes at his compliment to her intellect. “I recognize them, but I don’t know that I could randomly quote them.” She squints, her eyes flashing and filling his heart with a longed for warmth. “We need to get you on a trivia show, you could win us millions.”

“No, love, then we’d be famous, and people would stop us on the street, asking about our dog and wanting autographs-”

“What dog?”

He spins her gracefully, light as a feather. “I think we need a dog, someone to snuggle at our feet at night.”

“We?”

He pulls her closer. “Yes, we. We are a we now.”

She squeezes his hand. “What if I want a cat?”

He whispers in her ear, “I already have all the pussy I need.”

He can feel the heat rise off her, not needing to lean back to see that she’s blushing.

“What if I only want to share my bed with one animal? I don’t need a dog at my feet to keep me warm. I have you.”

She pushes closer, her voice like velvet to his ears. His heart wells with pride, heated by her spirit. One song blends with the next, and the next. He keeps her in his arms most of the night, until the dinner is served. Tom enjoys the conversation of the guests they’re seated with, discussing local politics and theatre. His eyes stay locked on her as she moves about the room, speaking in Spanish and French with the patrons, sharing knowledge of artifacts on display, depositing their personal donations into a leather pouch she carries under her arm.

Seated in the corner, tired of the fanfare, and frankly, his mind worn out from keeping track of the Spanish conversations, Tom sits alone, his fingers tracing the rim of his glass. A model-looking waif sits down next to him, trying to stir him, and he simply shakes his head. The woman takes the hint, scattering away quickly when Thalia, with her steely, dark eyes focused on her, moves towards the table.

Gripping the back of the chair across from him, she leans forward. “Wanna get outta here? I pawned the intro of the director off onto another colleague. I’m officially done for the night.”

“Stay just like that, darling. Don’t move.” Thalia tilts her head, keeping her stance, smirking when he lifts his phone to take her photo, her cleavage nearly falling out of her dress. “That’s the reason,” he points, “you’ve collected so many thousands in euros tonight. That one man, the German one, he nearly propped up his wallet on your breasts to write his check.”

“It’s just like when I was bartending. They can look. That doesn’t mean they can touch. Although it was the asshole from Poland who got his hand slapped,” Thalia says, reaching for his arm when he stands and offers it to her.

“Was that the scuffle with the guards earlier?” He takes her lace shawl from the back of the chair, wrapping it around her shoulders.

She nods, bending to kick off her heels, instantly 2 inches shorter. Tom swoops down to pick them up in his large hand, brushing against her exposed calf. Before reaching full height, he can hear her sudden intake of breath, and he instantly hardens, having been on his best behavior all night.

“Thalia, what’s the fastest way home from here?”

Her laughter rings around the room, drawing attention to them and their escape. The dark haired goddess waves goodbye to her secretary.

Cheeks flushing, with a devilish gleam dancing in her eyes, Thalia quietly informs him, “My office is up the stairs?”

He stops mid-stride, frozen, then throws his head back with laughter as well.

Click here for Chapter 30, All Tied Up

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

Growing Up

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Growing Up

Being Thalia

Chapter 26

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 2779

Summary: Thanks to the influence of a young friend, Thalia comes to the realization she’s grown up.

Previous Chapter, Another Step Forward

October 2021

Thalia stares at the open journal in front of her. She absently flips back to the beginning and reads through the book, skimming quickly. She smiles as a weight lifts from her shoulders, realizing she’s made more progress than she thought. She shakes her hair back and whispers, “Doc was fuckin’ right. Who’d have guessed?”

A dark haired girl with braces and a wiry preteen frame plops down on the couch next to her. “You’re talking to yourself again. You do that a lot. Sure you’re not going crazy, living all alone in Madrid?”

Thalia rolls over onto her hip, pushing against Avery’s shoulder, and reaches her hand into the bag of potato chips. Pulling out a few, she rights her body into a more comfortable position. “Whatdya mean I talk to myself?”

“The last three nights, while you were fixin’ dinner, I could hear you in the kitchen, talking to yourself.” The girl claims, munching down on a handful of chips. “It’s very distracting to my homework process.”

Thalia scoffs. “From what I’ve seen, your homework process is hanging over the end of the bed, typing in numbers on your calculator while you Snapchat with Charlotte.”

“It works. I have straight As this term,” Avery brags, picking at a chip stuck in the purple bracket on her teeth. “Are you-” she sighs. “Are you talking to that guy?”

Thalia slowly chews the chip in her mouth. Due to the time differences, she and Tom have been on the phone in the evenings while she prepares their dinners. She didn’t think Avery would be able to hear over the TV and the music the pre-teen constantly plays. Placing her hand over her mouth, she talks while still eating. “What guy?”

Avery peers down in the bag, shaking the chips. “I heard Mom talking about how you got back together with some guy from your past. I guess Dad told her.” She shrugs. “I’m not a baby anymore, Lia. Hell, Dad just got remarried to the baby mama. I know you’re not getting back together. If you’re dating someone, you can tell me.”

Thalia straightens up a little more, and sends a stern look to the young lady. “Avery, don’t curse. It’s really crass when kids your age do it. I don’t like it. It doesn’t make you more grown up or tough.” Avery blushes and shakes her hair from behind her ears, whispering her apology and hiding from her role model. Thalia pats her leg. “It’s okay, I don’t think less of you, I just. I just hate to think of you doing that.” She reaches up and scratches under her hairline. “I have had a few dates with someone I once knew, that I actually met here at the University.” Seeing the young girl’s eyes grow wide, Thalia adds, “Someone I met before I knew your dad.”

Avery nods. “Cool. Where he and Dad friends, like he and Hems are now?”

Thalia chuckles. “No. No, your father and this man were not friends.” She pulls her smile over her teeth, remembering how the two men definitely were not friends. Yet when she needed them most, coming out the hospital years before, they both pretended to tolerate the other. “But they reluctantly agreed on some things.” She smiles big. “One of them being that I’m pretty incredible, and irreplaceable.”

Avery laughs. “It’s true. No one can replace you.” She huffs. “I can’t believe he married the baby mama.” She screws up her face, looking angry. “I blame you. If you hadn’t left, he wouldn’t have been at the grocery store alone, and bumped into her.”

Thalia squeezes Avery’s knee. “Come on, ‘Ry. You gotta quit calling Karen ‘the baby mama.’ It’s not right, and it’s not fair.”

“I’m almost twelve. I’m supposed to be hateful and dramatic. I’m not stupid. They got married because they had a baby. I mean, I love Liam. I’m making a scrapbook for him for Christmas. I’m working on it at school, so Dad doesn’t know. But I don’t have to like her.” She sticks out her tongue, gagging at the thought. “She’s not you.”

Thalia chews the inside of her lip, not knowing what to say. Her young charge continues her rambles.

“Did you leave because of me?”

“What?!” Thalia jumps forward, grabbing the young girl’s shoulder, tears springing to her eyes. “Oh, Avery, honey. I’m so sorry. If that’s what you’ve thought all this time, I am so, so sorry.”

Avery’s lip quivers as she falls into Thalia’s embrace. “I just really miss you.” Her chest rattles as she takes in a deep breath, letting out a sob. She sniffles, and coughs to clear her throat. “I thought you didn’t want me, or that I was too much work. You left twice.”

Through tears, Thalia holds her closer, wrapping her hand in the young girl’s hair. She breathes out slowly, then inhales the sweet, innocent smell of baby powder. “Oh, shit. I messed up, didn’t I? Oh, Avery. Me leaving was because I wasn’t grown up enough to know what I wanted or needed.” Her throat clicks and she pulls back, tilting the girl’s head up to look into her eyes. “Leaving you was so hard. Why do you think I still call and write you? I love you, honey. So much.”

Avery licks a tear from her lip. “Lia, you shouldn’t curse.” She laughs and her eyes glisten with tears. She sucks in her lips, smacking them when she releases the pressure. “You promise?”

“Avery, I didn’t realize till this very moment you thought that.” She clears her throat and looks up at the ceiling, trying to mask her fear of the pain she’s brought to this child. “My own mom left me when I was little. I’m sorry, I’m sorry I did that to you, made you feel like you weren’t important or special to me. I should have realized it sooner.”

With her own tears still falling, Avery climbs into Thalia’s lap, wrapping her arms around her plump confidant. “I didn’t mean to make you cry. Don’t worry. I’m not messed up. You’re not the reason Mom thinks I need therapy.” Her laugh comes out like a snort and the breath tickles Thalia’s cheek. “All the girls in my class go. She wants to keep up with the Jones’.” She pokes Thalia’s shoulder. “Thalia, you are the best thing. Like, don’t get mad I say this, but you’re like a kick ass role model I have to look up to, and that’s pretty amazing.” She settles in Thalia’s lap as the older woman rocks her back and forth. Like she did when she was younger, she weaves her fingers in Thalia’s curls. “I don’t know if Dad loves Karen, but I know he was happy with you. I remember crawling in bed on Sunday mornings and we would all read, and then Dad would make amazing pancakes.”

“Don’t forget the vanilla,” they chime at the same time. Thalia kisses the top of Avery’s head.

“I remember studying for spelling tests together, and how terrified I was when I had to rush you to the emergency room when your appendix burst.”

“You were scared?” For affect, she scratches the scar on her belly. “Thalia, you’re never scared of anything. That’s why you’re gonna be a great mom. You’re always so calm and collected.”

Her tears beginning to dry, she laughs. “Glad you think so, I was a jumbled mess. Always afraid I was doing it wrong, that your mom would yell at me, say horrible things about me.”

“Oh she did. Still does. Hates your natural curls and the fact you can eat half a cheesecake and still look amazing,” Avery admits, smiling up at her dearest friend. “But never anything really mean.”

“Your mom, she always made me so nervous. And I was always envious of how professional she dressed. I kinda copied her look a bit, adapted it for me, with things I could find at the market in Madrid. When she brings you for Spring Break, I’ll take you there.”

“See. She likes you. My friends still can’t believe I get to go to Europe for break, and stay with my dad’s ex-girlfriend.” Avery giggles. She leans back and screws up her face in thought. “So you like shopping now? Can we skip school tomorrow, and you take me shopping for a dress? The first school dance is in a few weeks.”

“We can’t skip school for a shopping day-”

“Please? You’re only in town a few more days, and I have to go back to Mom’s. I’m really glad she and Dad both agreed I could stay with you a few days, so you didn’t have to be alone in this rental.”

Thalia looks around the clear open space. The modern furniture lacks warmth and comfort, but having Avery here with her made the time fly. Avery’s stepfather picks her up in the mornings and gets her to school on time, so Thalia can head to campus to cover Chris’s classes and lead a few seminars. She’s enjoyed getting in the carpool lane at the Middle School to pick up Avery after volleyball practice. “I’m glad you’ve been here too. I’ll tell you what- let’s call your mom and have permission for me to pick you up early. I don’t wanna step on her toes if she already has plans to get you a dress.”

“She wants to get me something pink and girly, and won’t let me wear my cowboy boots.”

“I don’t know why you think that’s a fashion statement.” Thalia grins, kicking up her legs, revealing her yoga pants tucked into her boots. She leans forward for her phone, unceremoniously dumping the young girl on the floor. They both laugh and scramble for the phone. She opens her contacts to dial Maura when it rings, Tom’s face flashing on the screen.

“Ooow, it’s your new boyfriend.” Avery giggles, jumping up from the floor, rubbing her bruised bottom.

Thalia rolls her eyes and answers the phone. “Hey, hang on just a second-” “Go get started on your work. We’re going out for Chinese in a bit with Hems and Jane, but I wanna see your Spanish homework first.”

Sí, Señorita Bonita,” Avery calls over her shoulder as she leaves the room.

“Hello, darling,” Tom purrs. “Is that your new nickname? Miss Pretty? I totally agree, it suits you.”

Thalia laughs. “That kid I swear, she’s-”

“What’s wrong? You sound like you’ve been crying?”

She scoffs. “How the hell can you hear that on a transatlantic call? You have like the ears of a bat. Bats hear everything, right?”

“Something like that, love. I actually don’t know much about bats.”

“Oh, well! Something you don’t know? I’m shocked, Professor Hiddleston-”

“Thalia.” His voice scolds. “I asked you a question. Quit deflecting. You’ve been crying. Is everything okay?”

She sighs, snuggling back into the couch, pulling a pillow into her lap. “‘Ry and I just had an emotional heart to heart, that’s all.” She looks at her discarded journal resting beside her on the couch. “She came in as I was looking over my therapy journal. I’ve really come a long way in a short time, Tom. I was just realizing I really like who I am now, how everyone I’ve met along the way has helped me become the person I am. Even the bad people,” she says, running her fingers over the slight scar on her cheek. She inhales deeply. “It’s like I’m finally becoming Thalia, who I’m supposed to be.” She pauses, hit with sharp pang of emptiness, missing him. “When can I see you again? Can you be in Madrid when I get back?”

She hears him shuffling some papers. “I think I can arrange that for you, darling. I’ll have to juggle a few things. In a hurry to see me, are you?”

“Yes, you know I am. But it’s not because I need you. I mean, you know that right?” She runs her hand over her head, pushing away the wrinkled brow from her deep thoughts. “The person I am now doesn’t need you. But I want you. And it’s my choice. I think that’s really important… Growth.” She tilts her head, hearing and believing her own words. “I choose you.”

“Thalia, that’s so wonderful to hear you say that.” His pleasure practically crackles over the phone line. “When you left me alone in London ten days ago, I never would have thought this trip would be so therapeutic for you. I’m glad-”

“It’s closure, Tom. I’m not going to deny the things I’ve done in the past. I was awful to you, and other people who are important to me. I’m also not going to deny how I’ve felt the last several days. You, and Chris… Walking around campus, you’re both around every corner. And it was nice getting to see him, have dinner with him a few days before the wedding. We won’t get chances like that very often.” She sighs. “You’ll have to understand, to trust me, he and I have a special bond. And nothing’s gonna change that, and you can’t try to take those things from me-”

“I promise, I won’t,” he barely whispers.

She swallows. “Being with Avery has been great. She’s such a neat kid. I can’t wait for you to meet her. Did I tell you? Her mom and I sat together at her volleyball game last night. She has a conference in Madrid in the Spring, wants to bring Avery with her so we can spend time together.”

Tom’s throat makes a clicking noise. “That sounds, interesting.”

Thalia verbally swallows again. Her voice drops. “She thinks I’d make a good mom. Tom, I don’t know how to be a mother. My own left me, and when I was younger, I didn’t let Stacey do ‘mom’ things I should have let her do.” She worries her free hand inside the pocket of her college hoodie, playing with a paper straw wrapper she shoved there earlier. She heavily breathes, almost panting. “Tom, I’ve had the same vision. Only it’s a little boy, with dark curly hair, and his father’s clipped British chirp.” She audibly exhales. “Maybe I’m less selfish now. Maybe Madrid is good for me, because I can still travel to so many places easily by train, still get to archaeology sites just hours from the city.” She shrugs. She can feel his anticipation palpitating over the phone. “If I had the right man, if he understood me, understood I don’t need a child to feel complete. And it was a choice, not just an ‘oops, forgot my pill’ kind of thing… Maybe I could be a mom.”

He coughs. She can almost picture him nervously running his hands through his unkempt hair. “Well then, I’m not sorry at all you went to the States, maybe that’s something-”

La tarea está terminada.” Avery announces with a flourish, waving the papers in Thalia’s face.

Thalia grabs them and shows Avery her irritation. Tom’s lulling voice grabs her attention again. “I guess I better let you go eat. What’s a ‘Hems?’”

Thalia laughs, looking over the school work. “Hems is the nickname for a friend of mine, we were both teaching here. His name’s Hemsworth, but-”

“Chris? Norse Mythology? Blonde and bigger than a house? I know him! We worked together in Sydney for a few weeks, on a project. Great fellow. He’s like my brother from another mother.”

“Oh, God. Tom. Please, please don’t ever say that again.” She cringes. “That actually hurts my ears.” She shakes her head with exasperation at the young lady in front of her, wearing leggings under a long skirt, with cowboy boots and her father’s old leather jacket. She gives the free-spirited girl a thumbs up. “I’m being summoned for dinner.” She moves her mouth away from the phone, asking Avery, “Do I need to change?”

Avery looks her over. “Everyone falls in love with you, but Hems has Jane, and Dad’s married now, and I guess your new man doesn’t want someone sweeping you away so, I suppose you can go looking like an overgrown sorority girl. Your messy bun is lopsided.” The girl grabs the truck keys from the ledge and runs out the door.

Tom laughs. “Full of spunk, not your influence at all, I suppose? Go. Tell Hemsworth I said hello and I’d love to see him again some time.”

“I love you, Tom.”

It’s getting easier and easier for her to say.

“I love you too, darling.”

Click to Chapter 27, Not Yet

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

Another Step Forward

chapter 25 Another Step Forward March 31 2019

Another Step Forward

Being Thalia

Chapter 25

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

IMAGES FOUND ON PINTEREST. Not TH, but reminded us of him!

Word Count: 1634

Summary: Tom does his best to explain himself to Thalia, to try to keep her from rebuilding the brick wall between them.

Previous Chapter, Second Chances

“Yes, yes. I understand.” Tom speaks into the phone. His hand wildly grasps for Thalia’s, but she shakes him off. If a man could die from a woman’s glare, he’d be burned to ashes in an instant. He keeps his eyes locked on her, trying to silently convey this isn’t his fault. “Can this wait? I’ve told you, I’ve made the latest flight I can get, and I can be at the office first thing in the morning.”

“Flight?” Thalia mouths, dropping her bag on the bed next to his.

He shakes his head, closing his eyes and looking up to the ceiling, raking his other hand through his messy curls. “Dammit, can we not do this? Don’t speak to me like that, please. We promised to be civil, and I mean to keep to my word. I promised I’d take care of it, and I will. I’ve changed my plans to come back to London, isn’t that enough?” He listens, irritation etched on his face as he slowly lowers his glance, turning his eyes back on Thalia. Her jaw twitches as she folds her arms over her chest. He sighs. “No. No, I’m not done with my research and the reparations I need to make here in Spain. As soon as I can clear up these other troubles, I’ll probably be coming back here to Madrid.” He lifts his eyes hopefully to Thalia, and she turns on her heels away from him, stomping into the bathroom and slamming the door.

“Listen, Sabrina, I don’t have time for this now. I told you I’ll be there tomorrow. I can’t fix it tonight anyway. Make yourself some tea and settle in. We’ll worry about it in the morning.”

Ending the call he drops his phone to the bed and lets loose a low roar. “Fucking fuckin hell,” he mutters, taking long strides across the room.

Ear to the door, he hears no sound. He raps his knuckles against the solid wood. “Thalia?”

“When are you leaving?” The sound is sad and muffled.

“Tonight. A cab will take me to the airport at 9:30, to catch the last flight out.”

The door flies open and he nearly falls into her.

“Please tell me you weren’t lying to me, that you weren’t just in town for an easy fuck?”

He steps towards her and she retreats, bumping into the large sink basin. He steps closer still, causing her to arch her back away from him. “Thalia, my darling, I have never lied to you.” He closes his eyes in thought, opening his eyes with a slow blink. “Not once can I think of a time I lied to you.” He makes one small step back, still keeping his leg between her thighs. “I’ve lied to other women, to get what I wanted, or to save face. Yes, even the woman I was engaged to.” He retreats further. “I’m not proud of it, but something about your faith in me always made me a better man. For you.”

Thalia hangs her head. Her voice is low. “I lied, stretched truths. I was a terrible person to you, and… and to him. But I don’t do that now, Tom.” She lifts her head. “If I’m in it, I want everything to be open and honest. Eventually, we’ll have to talk the past out, it’s the only way to move on.” She nods her head to the other room. “But apparently, you’re leaving?”

Tom turns, walking out of the bathroom and she follows. “Yes, bloody hell. I have to get back. I left too many things unfinished, up in the air. The catering and reception hall, the serving staff, it was all booked through one company. They’re threatening to sue if we don’t follow through on our contract, and the date to cancel has passed. Cancelling now, they want to charge a hefty sum. It’s going to cost me more than going through with the damn wedding.”

Thalia leans against the bookshelf, in a much less inviting pose than the one from the night before. “So what are you going to do?”

Tom strokes his beard, feeling the wall between them building back up. “Thalia, there’s nothing I can do. I’ll fly back tonight. Meet with their staff first thing in the morning. Check in with my literary agent, try to book a few more speaking engagements to make money to pay the costs. Maybe stop at the University, see if I can extend my leave for another semester.”

She crosses her arms over her hefty bosom. “And you have to see Sabrina?”

Her steely eyes say what her words don’t. He bows his head. “She’ll be there, she’ll have to agree to my proposal, since her name is on the contracts as well.”

“And what do you plan to propose?”

He flinches at her word choice. He should have only made one proposal in his lifetime, to her. That first moment the thought popped into his head, he should have said it, years ago that day in Paris. But he’d been gobsmacked by the feeling, and taken time to process it instead, overthinking everything. And he’d lost her. He couldn’t bear the thought of losing her again.

“Let her go ahead and have her big party, choose a few less expensive options they’ll settle for… Trade in the honeymoon cruise package for three tickets with her friends. Turn my name to mud in our social set. I suppose I can watch Wimbledon on the tele, just like everyone else.” He scoffs, falling back onto the bed. Resting his elbows on his knees, he holds his head in his hands. “I don’t know what else the hell to do. I’ll give it all up, Thalia, as long as I know you’re willing to give me another chance, that last night wasn’t a fluke.”

“How do I know you’ll be back?” Her wistful voice tears at his heart.

Tom holds his hands out to her, motioning for her to join him. “Darling, I admitted to you I haven’t gone down on a woman in over two years.” He’s surprised she follows his request. He pulls her down onto his lap. He pushes her hair back, exposing her neck. “You think after tasting you,” he nibbles her neck, scratching her with his beard, “just this morning after our shower, that I could ever leave your side again?”

She pushes against his chest. “Oh, Tom. No jokes- wait.” Her brow furrows. “We’ve been apart three years. You just said two years?”

“I wasn’t a total monk, darling.” He chuckles, tackling her to the bed when she tries to get away.

“Ass,” she giggles between peals of laughter as he tickles her.

“Thalia, I mean to court you. To right everything I did wrong our first time around. No sneaking, no hiding. Everything out in the open. That’s why I plan to ask for an extension on my sabbatical. So I can be here with you in Madrid.” He leans over her, his lips caressing against hers, grinding his pelvis against hers. “Would you like to come back to London with me tonight? You could stay at my place, maybe do some sightseeing while I take care of business?”

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Running her hand down his chest, her eyes trailing down the same path, she shakes her head ‘no.’

“No. That’s really nice of you, but I think this is something you need to finish up on your own, free and clear.” Her fingers dig under the waistband of his jeans. “If things work out, I’ll go to London with you soon, when I get back from the States.”

“I hate you’re going to the States.”

“I don’t back out on my promises. Yes, I’ll be seeing… old friends, but I also have former students I plan to see for lunches and dinners. I’m looking forward to being in the classroom again.”

“I’ll miss you.” Tom leans forward and kisses the tip of her nose, pushing against her again. “You know, we have time before my flight, we could-”

She rolls her head back and forth against the bed. “I ordered food. It’ll be here soon.”

“Who needs food?”

They both laugh when her tummy rumbles.

“Ok, maybe you need food.” He leans forward and kisses the tip of her nose, grateful to be so close to her. “Can’t have my beautiful warrior princess succumb to starvation,” he murmurs quietly, running his hands over her thigh, pulling it up against his side, pushing her into the bed as he rocks back and forth.

She chuckles. “I think I have enough fat stores to last a few more hours.”

“Mmhmm. I thought you’d see it my way,” he says, leaning on one hand, using the other to rip open her shirt, latching his mouth over her peaked nipple under it’s satin cage.

She sucks in a deep breath. “Oh, thank you. That shirt was too damn tight. How can you eat so much and stay so damn skinny? I hate you. I really hate you, Tom.”

He tugs her nipple between his teeth, his long hair tickling her chest. “Uh-huh, no you  don’t. Say it, Thalia. You need to say it. I need to hear you say it, darling.”

She grabs the back of his hair, lifting his head, looking him straight in the eyes. “I love you, Tom. So much. I’m ready. Ready to start this, see whatever this can be.”

His eyes well with tears as he kisses her tenderly. It’s all brushing and caressing, his lips stroking tenderly over hers, withdrawing and returning as if he wants each gentle nip, lick and press to be burned into her skin, into her heart, her soul.

Click here to read Chapter 26, Growing Up

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

 

Beg For It

1552958032644.jpg

Beg For It

Being Thalia

Chapter 22

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 4065

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

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

Previous Chapter, Digging into the Past

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

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

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

“Thalia. I wasn’t expecting you-“

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Which one?”

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

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

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

She runs her tongue over her teeth and smirks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read Chapter 23, Whatever You Need

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

Museum Musings

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Museum Musings

Being Thalia

Chapter 20

By devikafernando & avenger-nerd-mom

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 3046

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

Images found on Pinterest

Previous Chapter, Opportunity Calls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He’d done his homework well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Of course you have.”

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

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

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

“What’s next?” he wants to know.

“The medieval exhibition.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I went to your first one, you know.”

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

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

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

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

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

“I saw you there, with him.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you so happy to see me?”

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

“So museums give you a boner?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Behave, Hiddleston.”

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

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

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

Click here for Chapter 21, Digging into the Past

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

Opportunity Calls

ch 19 full size

Opportunity Calls

Being Thalia

Chapter 19

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 1374

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

Previous Chapter, Open Wounds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The silence on the line is deafening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You as well, Miss Bareo.”

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

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

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

Click here to read Chapter 20, Museum Musings

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

Girls’ Night

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Girls’ Night

Being Thalia

Chapter 17

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 856

Summary: Another friend shows up at Thalia’s doorstep.

Previous Chapter, Facing Demons

September 2021

Sleepily, she rubs her eyes, trying to figure out the sound. Someone’s at the door. “Fucking Hiddleston,” Thalia grumbles as she stumbles to the door. Pushing her hair away from her face, she doesn’t remember falling asleep on the couch after storming away from Tom at the restaurant.

“Thalia, it’s me, Lucía,” announces the person at the door. “Open up.”

Thalia throws open the lock, and ushers her petite friend inside. “Hey gorgeous,” she kisses her on the cheek. “How was work?”

“Really hot guy gave me an amazing tip.” Lucía smiles, stating the amount as she walks on through to the living room. She sets a large bag of food down on the table, and pulls a bottle of wine from her book bag.

“A prospect, hmm?” Thalia teases, sitting back down on the couch and reaching for the corkscrew Lucía passes to her.

“Nah, I think he’s taken? Is that the American expression?”  

Thalia smiles. “Yea, that’s right. What makes you say that?” She twists the cork, laughing as her friend runs away.

“Wait,” she calls out. “I need to find clean classes. Oh, wow! You cleaned your kitchen?”

“Don’t say that like you’re surprised,” Thalia chuckles. “Yes, I clean occasionally.”

Lucía holds out the delicate wine glasses while Thalia pours the chilled drinks. The dark haired girl reaches in her coat pocket before sitting down, and trades Thalia a folded note for a glass. “He asked me to deliver this to you.”

Thalia grimaces, taking a sip of her drink before opening the half sheet, torn from the notebook her friend uses as an attendant at the restaurant. Fuck him, she thinks, looking down to read the familiar script.

 

Dear Thalia,

I’m staying at the Palacio del Retiro. I’m here for two weeks. I need                    to see you. I’d like to talk things out.

-Tom

 

“The Palacio. Of course he is,” she murmurs, rolling her eyes. “Probably rented the Presidential suite. Pretentious arse.” She takes another, longer sip, letting the cool liquid wash down the back of her throat.

Arse?” Lucía questions, emptying the paper sack and passing Thalia a warmed packet of food.

Peeling back the foil cover, Thalia nods. “It’s a play on his British slang, and did you hear him? His Spanish! Ugh!”

Lucía giggles. “I thought you liked this guy. Tom? He’s the guy right? The one you told me about? What’s he doing here? I thought he was getting married.”

“I thought so too! But he just shows up at the museum, then here tonight, telling me he’s left her. That he could never love her the way he loves me.” Thalia stabs at her food. “Thanks for coming over. You didn’t have to.”

Lucía slurps down the noodles in her sopa, and wipes her chin. “You stormed away in such a hurry, and he was so forlorn when you left. Like really broken.” She grins shyly. “My curiosity got the better of me… Come on, he said that? It’s really sweet.”

“Yea, like a damn Hallmark movie, but this is real life,” Thalia says, savoring the bite of shrimp she’s just placed in her mouth. She explains what a Hallmark movie is to her foreign friend. “Mmm… so good. Was this really a botched order, or did Henrí fix it just for me?”

“He’s sweet on you too. So many men, Thalia! Whatever will you do?” Lucía laughs again, propping her feet up on the table and snuggling into her spot on the couch.

“Fortunately for me, I don’t want any of them. Besides, Henrí has a husband and two kids, I think he has his hands full.” She stares off into the distance, chewing slowly. “And the other one left a woman practically at the altar. What does that say about me if I take him back?”

“That you never stopped being in love with him, and you feel the same way. That’s what it says.” Lucía licks the top of her wine glass. “Listen, Thalia, not everyone gets a third chance at love. For whatever reason, you two keep coming back together. I think you at least owe it to yourself to listen. Besides, when I spoke to him, he quoted Shakespeare. Made me weak in the knees…” Lucía’s eyes glaze over, momentarily lost in a daydream, before screwing up her face to remember something. “You love that…  that shit? Is that the right word?”

Thalia giggles, “You’re learning quickly! Now that you’re mastering curse words, your English is almost ready for your study abroad.”

“You’ve been an excellent teacher!” Lucía laughs. “I can’t thank you enough for helping me get that placement at your old university.” She bows her head. “I’m really going to miss you. You’re kind of unforgettable, chica.” She slurps another spoonful from her cup. “Really, Thalia. You need to talk to him.”

“I know, you’re right. You’re right.” She puts the tray of food on the table in front of her. “Wanna stay? We can watch a few more episodes of Outlander?”

“Yeah, ‘cause you’re not a romantic at all.”

Lucía ducks when Thalia throws a pillow at her head.

Click here for Chapter 18, Open Wounds

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