Finally

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Finally

Being Thalia

Chapter 36

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: 3612

Summary: Tom and Thalia come full circle on the most important day of their life.

Previous Chapter 35, Final Countdown

December 31, 2021

The first notes of the wedding march sound, and Tom has to remind himself to breathe. Bloody hell, he’s really getting married. Torn between doing a giddy little jig and puking all over his black tux, he turns along with the other guests in the church to stare at the double-winged door with its white flower arch.

They may not be doing many things traditionally, but Tom insisted that they would at least adhere to a few customs. As a consequence, he hasn’t laid eyes on the wedding dress that Thalia picked last week. Neither did he see her yesterday, choosing to spend their last night separately. Not that he slept a wink, nerves kicking in at the last minute.

Breathe, Hiddleston, he reminds himself—then nearly swallows his own tongue when it reminds him that the woman he loves will soon carry his name…alongside her own last name, as she doesn’t want to give it up. He’d happily have taken hers to please her but the possessive, authority-loving man inside a corner of him preens at the thought of staking such a public claim on her. She still brings the caveman in him out sometimes, although he’s learned a lot over the years.

A collective murmur travels through the church before hushed anticipation descends as the wedding march plays its most important melody. The door opens, and in steps a figure bathed in sunshine. His earthly angel, come to bless him with her shining light. He’d always thought it was just a phrase used in literature that one’s heart could skip a beat, and yet when Tom first lays eyes on his bride stepping out of the light and onto the carpet, he could swear his heart does cease to beat for a moment. When it recommences beating, it does so with a great, big thump of unbridled joy.

Lord in heaven, she is a vision. Thalia steadily advances towards him—alone because without her father, she didn’t want anyone else giving her away. Her exact words were, “I’m my own woman. The only person giving me to you, is me.” He’d laughed at her determination, her spirit. Seeing her unaccompanied now, Tom stares and stares, drinking in his fill.

She has chosen a gown in a creamy shade of white, with only a few lace accents and no veil. Modest yet pure feminine allure, it hugs her luscious curves, allowing a peak of ample cleavage, and cinching tightly at her waist before falling into a long train behind her. There’s a flower in her hair, the usually riotous curls tamed for the occasion in a fancy updo. Her modest bouquet is as classy as her gown, and it includes pink orchids and oleanders. He catches a peek of bejeweled sandals beneath the dress’s hem. Those have to be seriously high heels, judging from the height of the gorgeous woman gliding towards him like a goddess.

His brain blanks out for a moment, only a feeling of bliss remaining behind. If someone asked him for his name, he wouldn’t have remembered it.

Tom fastens his gaze on Thalia’s face, seeing the same stunned joy with a tinge of trepidation on her features that he must be radiating. He watches enraptured as she glances left and right, then breaks out into an astonished smile when she sees their guests.

They’d decided that they wanted a small, intimate wedding without any fancy pomp. First a short, personalized ceremony in church—no bridesmaids, no flower girls, no elaborate choir or British fanfare—and then a garden party for a few guests in an inn on the outskirts of London. What Thalia didn’t know until now is that Tom conspired with her family to surprise her on her big day. In secret, he organized and paid for tickets for most of her closest relatives and friends to attend. Her step-mother and grandmother are standing next to his family, some of the aunts looking decidedly weepy. He can’t blame them; his own eyes are glazing over a little. Henrí and his small little family, with Lucía by their side, blow kisses and wave to her as she giggles at the bouncing children.

Thalia’s eyes return to him and remain there, wide and shiny, and filled with so many emotions that he can feel resonate inside his own heart. She’ll probably kill him once the celebrations are over or demand that he lets her pay part of the ticket and accommodation cost. Not that he minds. He’ll die a happy man—or more probably, quarrel for a bit and then have sensational make-up sex. Jesus, not a good time to think of getting Thalia laid. Neither is it a good idea to be wondering whether she might be wearing stockings underneath that beautiful, not too showy dress. Or sinfully sexy lingerie?

Tom fidgets with his bowtie. He’s tied it himself, of course, fussing with it a few agonizing minutes in front of the mirror because this isn’t just any occasion. He’d picked out a black tuxedo, feeling as if it was a century ago that he last wore tails and a waistcoat. There’s a white flower in his buttonhole, and he’s even splurged on new shoes.

Thalia’s gaze rakes him from head to toe, and the tip of her tongue glides over her red lips, which makes all the muscles in his body tighten. He can feel her eyes like caressing fingers on his cheekbones and jaw and can’t resist a tiny smirk.

She’d been pestering him for days to get rid of the beard for the grand occasion, using her body and her sass to plead and cajole and argue. Day before yesterday, he conceded to at least trimming it—which ended in Thalia taking matters into her own hands, sitting on his lap and trimming the gingery scruff herself. That, inevitably, led to steamy shenanigans. But Tom didn’t tell her that he would of course heed her wish. This morning, he shaved himself with the greatest care, feeling oddly naked. But he didn’t need the ‘armor’ anymore, did he? He had what he wanted, with whom he wanted it. The haircut was an added bonus for his love.

Finally, what feels two seconds but also two decades later, his bride is in front of him and he holds out his arm to draw her nearer. When she twinkles up at him, he notices how fast her pulse flutters at her throat, and how her hands tremble. But it isn’t anxiety or doubt, for her eyes shine with love and happiness. It’s all he can do to not kiss her.

“You look utterly ravishing. The most beautiful bride in all of England’s history, I’m certain,” he says in a voice that sounds raspy to his own ears.

A blush spreads over her cheeks, highlighting a smattering of freckles. He notices for the first time that she’s wearing a string of diamonds around her wrist and beautiful drop earrings.

Caressing his thumb over the spot her wedding ring will sit in just a short while, he asks, “Ready to spend the rest of your life with this besotted old fool?”

Her answering smile nestles deep in his heart. She nods. “Are you ready to put up with my sass and stubbornness?” Of course, he nods as well.

Most of the ceremony is a blur. He knows he tears up a little during the personalized vows, almost stuttering when he recites some of Shakespeare’s most famous lines to profess his love and swear his undying fidelity to Thalia. “‘My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep; the more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite.’ My love for you, Thalia, my Warrior Princess, has always been. Even as hard as I fought against it, and pushed you away, it was always there.” He tenderly reaches up to wipe away a tear from her check. “Thank you for putting up with me.” The crowd laughs when she murmurs that it takes a lot of patience. He chuckles, shaking his head. “You never wavered, even when we were apart. I always felt your love, knew it called to me. I’m so damn lucky to have this chance, this forever, and I promise I won’t mess up this time.”

Somehow, they manage to exchange rings without him making a complete fool of himself, and then he dimly hears “you may now kiss the bride” and bends his head.

“Mine,” he whispers against her lips before giving her the first kiss not just as her man but also as her lawful wedded husband.

“Mine,” he feels her murmur against him as she kisses him back, and then he sinks into the magic of the moment and forgets everything and everyone around them.

It’s the nip of Thalia’s teeth on his lower lip that brings him back to reality and to the mingled sounds of tittering, throat-clearing and tentative applause. Tom knows he’s blushing, and Thalia’s face is flushed too when he draws back enough to drink her in.

His. Truly his.

Holding out his arm, he marches his radiant bride down the aisle where even more women are teary-eyed now and where his chum Luke gives him a grinning thumbs-up. There’s confetti to be thrown, there are photos to be taken, and then a cute old-timer Bentley takes them to the venue of their garden wedding as the rest of the guests file out to wave and cheer.

The ride to the location breezes by, mostly because he’s so busy holding Thalia’s hand, their fingers with their silver and platinum wedding bands linked together, and kissing her permanently smiling lips. The car takes them to the Marquee and Lawns on the little, enchanting Ravens Ait island on the river Thames, not far from Hampton Court and Kingston.

While the venue had been Tom’s suggestion once they had decided on a garden wedding, Thalia had accompanied him to check it out and finalize the decoration and menu. With less than fifty guests, theirs is probably the smallest function organized at this idyllic place that feels like miles out of London while technically still within the city limits. The couple takes a private launch to the island, Tom insisting on lifting Thalia aboard as if he were carrying her bridal style into their honeymoon suite. Their guests arrive soon after in a hired bus and are also ferried across the river.

“I feel as if I’m in a fairy tale,” Thalia whispers breathlessly into his ear as she clutches his hand tight enough to hurt.

“More Cinderella than Maleficent, I hope?”

She shoots him a look. “Definitely. Do you know that I’ve been pinching myself since this morning, to make sure I’m not dreaming?”

She shows him the inner curve of her elbow where he can make out tiny crescent shapes where her nails must’ve dug into her skin. Tom lifts it to his lips and brushes a soft kiss over the marks.

“If it is a dream then I never want to wake up.”

They are helped out onto the shore and greeted by smiling, ever so polite staff. There are more photos to pose for on the old stone steps and in the manicured garden before they find their seats beneath the white tent.

The next few hours go by in a blur, with a few special moments standing out. There is Prosecco and a three-course dinner altered to incorporate some temperamental Latino dishes. There is a wedding cake to cut, of course with another Shakespeare quote worked into the elegant décor. There is also a speech, then another one, then a toast that Tom makes before he steals another kiss from his bride.

Another surprise up his sleeve, he pulls his phone from his pocket when it rings and hands it to his beautiful wife. Thalia’s eyes widen in surprise when a cheerful young girl greets her. He motions her away to a quiet corner, allowing her privacy as she talks to her dear friends who were unable to make the wedding on such short notice. He tugs on the arm of his shirt, adjusting his cufflinks, thinking of the chat he’d had the other day with his old nemesis. Tom held true to his word and tracked Professor Evans down. The man hadn’t been ignoring Thalia’s calls. He’d been trapped in a family vacation disaster, snowed in at a resort in the mountains with his in-laws. Taking a drink from a tray as a waiter passes by, Tom wonders how he’d fair in the same situation. Stacey likes to dish it out to him as much as her daughter does…

Older and wiser, Tom had asked Evans for his blessing of sorts, knowing the act of civility would please Thalia. Maybe it’s the wine, or the few shots he’d tossed back with old friends, but he’s almost grateful for the challenges the other man in Thalia’s life had presented, because it brought them back together in the end. Made them stronger. Made him see how he couldn’t live without her.

“You’re a lucky man, Thomas,” his mother says quietly at his side. “She’s beautiful inside and out. First woman I’ve ever known you to love who wouldn’t let you walk all over her. She fights back. I like her spirit.”

Tom chuckles, putting his arm around his mother’s shoulder. “Appreciating a woman who speaks her mind and knows when to hold steady? I have no idea where I would have learned the importance of that…” He raises his eyebrow as his mother playfully swats his arm. “Let’s dance.”

Leading his mother to the dance floor, other party attendees fill in around them. He watches Thalia finish her call and take another glass of wine before joining him on the floor.

“Thank you,” she whispers, snuggling into his arms, her eyes still wet with tears.

Wiping them away, he simply nods. Him making the call, that was another important step towards coming full circle today. Not an end of an era so that a new one can start, but an acknowledgement how much the past has shaped their present and will shape their future.

***

Dancing of course is among his favorite moments of the day. He tugs Thalia closer into his hold, her curves gliding along him as her scent envelops him. Nuzzling her neck, bare except for a few curls of hair that have escaped her up-do by now, he presses a kiss to her tanned skin.

“Is everybody else busy dancing?” he asks softly.

She shifts a little in his possessive hold to glance around. “Some are. Others are talking non-stop or taking second helpings of that to-die-for dessert. Speaking of which, how about feeding me some more of that?”

Her glance at him from beneath her lashes is nearly his undoing but Tom reins himself in. He gives her his most smoldering look, which makes her steps falter despite his sure lead as he twirls with her across the garden.

“I’d much rather feast on you than have you feast on dessert, no matter how decadent it tastes,” he growls low in his throat.

Thalia blinks once and then stares up at him with wide eyes, nearly stepping on his foot so that he pushes her outwards, turns her in a sort of pirouette and reels her back in. He presses his smooth cheek against hers and slows their movement somewhat, using it as an excuse to whisper hotly into her ear.

“I’ve been wanting to get my hands on you for hours, Mrs. Bareo-Hiddleston.” Her full-body shiver fuels the fire inside him. “You look good enough to eat, and I’m a starving man. Surely you wouldn’t deny me a taste?”

As further incentive, he dips the tip of his tongue into her ear, then breathes against the bit of moisture to make her shiver again.

“But, Tom…” Gratifyingly, her voice sounds wobbly and needy, and her fingers are digging into his shoulder as she hangs on for dear life, dance steps forgotten while he continues to sway them. “We can’t just leave. What will everybody think?”

“Screw what everybody else will think,” he says vehemently, pressing her close with his free hand splayed low on her back so that their bodies rub against each other promisingly. “When have we ever let others get in the way of the magic between us?”

He hears the click of her convulsive swallow despite the romantic music all around them.

“True. But promise me it’ll just be a few stolen kisses.”

She lifts her chin to hold his gaze and he gives her a nod. Deftly, he maneuvers them to the edge of the area reserved for dancing while mentally going over what he remembers of the place’s layout. They have booked a flight for the early morning hours to enjoy an exotic honeymoon, so they aren’t staying at the venue and have no room here. But surely there will be some corner secluded enough to seduce his wife?

His wife. The thought makes him beam.

Making sure with a furtive glance that everyone is busy, he grabs Thalia around the waist and half-hauls her out of the garden and into the nearby building, wedding finery and propriety be damned. While she giggles and he chuckles—and they startle a waiter into nearly dropping a tray of Prosecco—they make their escape. The ground floor is deserted, as the venue is usually closed off whenever a wedding party takes place. Tom spies a few doors marked ‘staff’, then looks into a room that seems perfect. It’s almost a sign, meant to be.

Veering right, he pulls Thalia with him and closes the door behind them, locking it with a click that seems to seal their fate. It’s a guest room, the interior reminding him of typical English cottages. But Tom doesn’t pause to appreciate the décor; he’s spied something far more interesting and suited to having his way with the willing woman in his arms: The far wall is covered in a bookshelf, stocked with what at a glance looks like old classics mixed with new bestsellers. Of course it’s got to be a bookshelf because over six and a half years ago, he first claimed this beautiful temptress in a library. And now he’ll get to do so for the rest of his life.

The joy makes his head reel for a moment before he steadies himself and holds his woman close. “Now give me a kiss like a good girl. Or should I say, like an obedient wife?” he commands, tilting her face up.

There’s a gleam in Thalia’s eyes. She licks her lips and leans close, pressing herself against him so he fills his free hand with curves and expensive fabric. “I’m not sure I like the word ‘obedient-’”

Tom gives her a light tap on her tulle covered ass, and pulls her closer to claim her lips. The kiss starts out tender, but Tom soon gives in to all the pent-up desire.

“You’ve been driving me crazy all day,” he whispers hoarsely, the blood pounding in his ears. “Looking like a queen and not just a warrior princess. Let me worship you, on my knees like a good king should always worship his queen.”

She shivers again, her hands clutching at his biceps.

“But…Tom…”

He holds her gaze, his grip on her chin firming. “Do you trust me?”

Thalia nods immediately.

“Do you want me?”

An even more eager nod.

He claims her mouth in another kiss, letting his tongue delve deep to explore and entice, one single kiss enough to blow his control to smithereens. With a stifled, needy groan he pulls her towards the bookshelf so her back hits the wood. Giving her a heated look, he sinks to his knees in front of her—and Thalia gasps as realization dawns in her eyes, her pupils dilating. Does she remember it too, their first naughty encounter a lifetime ago?

“If you don’t want this, tell me to stop,” Tom grinds out as his hands wander beneath the skirt of her wedding dress, recalling a similar warning from those days.

“You said you’d only steal kisses,” comes Thalia’s half-whimpered reply.

He smirks at her, his long fingers stroking up her calf and higher to dig into her flesh. “I’m getting to the kissing part, darling.”

Wagging his brows, he leans forward to press a kiss to her clothed belly as his hand inches higher still, then bites off a moan when he discovers she’s wearing a garter and stockings.

“God, I love you,” comes Thalia’s answer, almost sounding like a curse, although her eyes shine down at him.

“I love you too.”

He holds her gaze a moment longer, then gives her a wink and ducks under her gown to nuzzle the rapidly dampening heat between her thick thighs. His fingers join his eager mouth, drawing the fabric aside so he can slide his tongue through her folds and make his wife come as she clutches the bookshelf.

The muffled sound of Thalia reaching her peak is followed by the clock in the room striking midnight. After a final soothing lick, Tom struggles a bit to extricate himself from under layers of fabric and stand up. His joints protest but nothing, absolutely nothing, can spoil this moment.

“Happy New Year, my darling wife,” he all but purrs, and Thalia blinks open heavy-lidded eyes. Her smile is slow to form but absolutely glorious in its joy.

“Happy New Year, and happy beginning of our new life together!” she whispers and seals the fervent wish with a kiss.

The End

Thank you for reading and sticking with us till the end. Your comments and likes have been appreciated!- Love, Cass and Devika

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

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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

 

Served Hot

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Served Hot

Being Thalia

Chapter 31

By devikafernando and 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

WARNING: HEAT ALERT!! HOT HOT HOT

Word Count: 2117

Summary: Thalia and Tom enjoy early morning treats.

Previous Chapter, All Tied Up

November 2021

Thalia wakes up to warmth and instinctively snuggles close before opening her eyes. But wait, there’s nobody to cuddle with–the warmth comes from sunshine streaming through a window. She blinks to clear her sight and looks around, momentarily disoriented. Then it all comes back: she’s in Tom’s apartment. Back in England after years, and so much has changed.

Thalia sits up, tugging the sheet around her as she’s slept naked in Tom’s strong arms. He brought her here yesterday because today they’ll take another major step forward. It’s time to meet his parents.

Her hands grip the sheet tighter, twisting it in a bout of anxiety. She spoke to his mother, Diana, several days ago because Tom wanted her properly introduced. That resulted in an invitation by the well-spoken, surprisingly kind woman on the phone. So here they are, ready to face the family. She shouldn’t be so nervous. If this woman raised a person as amazing as Tom, and if his stories about Diana Hiddleston are anything to go by, she must be lovely to meet. Patting her plump thigh, Thalia certainly isn’t ashamed about herself or about their relationship…but it’s bound to be weird at first. How much does his mom know, and how happy is she about it?

Deciding that worrying won’t get her anywhere, Thalia gets out of bed. She needs coffee, pronto. A side of Tom wouldn’t hurt either, if he’s back from his diabolical early-morning run. She shrugs into the oversized T-shirt and panties that should have been–and were, for a few minutes before Tom practically devoured her–her sleeping clothes. Her cheeks heat at the memory of how he claimed he wanted to christen every room and every surface of the apartment with her, starting in the bathroom and the bedroom.

Trying hopelessly to untangle her curls with her fingers, she decides that looking presentable will just have to wait until after the coffee. Tugging the hem of the t-shirt down, Thalia walks down the stairs, following her nose. God, that smell is heavenly, a mix of eggs and bacon and coffee. Her stomach gives an audible rumble–but it isn’t the scent of breakfast food that has her mouth watering a moment later when she steps into the kitchen. It’s the sight of the man doing the cooking.

Hot damn, it should be illegal to look so sexy at this time of the day, doing something so mundane. Hoping she isn’t actually drooling, Thalia feasts her eyes on Tom standing at the counter, tapping his foot while he chops some fruit. He’s dressed in black jeans and a white button-down shirt with its sleeves rolled up. A black apron tied at the back makes the outfit complete and gives her all sorts of dirty ravish-the-cook fantasies she didn’t even know she harbored. The jeans are pulled tight around his delectable ass and she battles the urge to just walk over, sink to her knees and bite one of those perfect butt cheeks.

Her blush intensifies, and Tom notices her presence right at that instant.

“Hey.” His whole face lights up, at least as brightly as the sunlight through the kitchen window that gives his hair a ginger tinge. He quirks his left eyebrow, pausing to read her shirt. Wiping his hands on the apron, he grins. “Good morning, beautiful. Did the smells lure you down at last?”

With a nod and a muttered ‘good morning,’ she tries to slink past him towards the coffee machine. She should’ve remembered the goddamn wingspan on this man. With one long arm darting out, he intercepts her path and hauls her close so he can press a quick but possessive kiss to her pouting mouth. Then he nuzzles her hair and inhales before giving her a playful shove.

“You get your caffeine fix, then sit down and wait.” Tom wags an admonishing finger when she frowns, ready to protest. “Nuh-uh. You don’t get to lift a finger because I’ve decided your first morning in my apartment warrants something special. So let me pamper you and treat you to the magic of a full English breakfast, served hot.”

Definitely ‘served hot,’ Thalia thinks to herself as she grabs a mug. Looking over her shoulder at him, her insides warm before even having the heated beverage. Damn, he’s so hot. She turns to the coffee pot and fills it with the scalding brown, aromatic liquid. All too happy to watch Tom putter about, looking so at home in the kitchen and somehow moving with graceful purpose despite those long limbs, she plunks herself down on one of the bar stools. “Do you always fix coffee, or is this just for me?” she asks before blowing her lips over the top of the steaming cup.

Tom momentarily loses his focus when the T-shirt rides up to reveal most of her thighs alongside a peek of panties. His tongue flicks out to lick his lips but then he gives himself a shake and averts his eyes. “For you, darling. Everything is for you. Always.”

Grinning, Thalia sips her coffee and watches on as her personal chef for the day puts his finishing touches to the meal. She can see fried eggs- sunny side up-, crisp bacon dripping with fat, sausages, something that looks suspiciously like baked beans and grilled tomatoes. And are those pancakes? Tom darts around to get the toast on plates, then arranges the just-cut fruits–strawberries and green apple and banana–artfully on a separate plate. It’s colorful and fragrant and she wants to bask in it all, in this sense of domestic bliss she could really get used to.

Feeling herself get wet at the surprising eroticism of Tom as a too-sexy-to-be-real houseman, Thalia presses her thighs together, wiggling precariously on the barstool. She watches his peachy bum as he bends to retrieve a bottle of orange juice from the fridge, then has to stifle a moan at the way his back muscles entice her when he stretches a bit to get glasses out of the top pantry cupboard. Suddenly, she’s ravenous–but not for food. Tom has barely set the glasses down on the counter to pour them some cold juice before she’s up from the stool. Crossing over to him, Thalia makes up her mind.

“Tom?”

“Hm, love?” He half-turns–and freezes when she pulls her T-shirt off without further ado, leaving her only in her panties. She sees his hand shake as he sets the bottle down with a clink and turns fully.

“What are you doing?”

“Showing my gratitude for breakfast,” she says with a saucy smile, tossing her hair and making Tom blink.

“B-but we haven’t even eaten it yet.” Thalia can see how much effort it takes him to maintain eye contact, his gaze slipping lower to her naked breasts for a fraction of a second.

“Doesn’t matter. I’ve decided I don’t want breakfast now,” she waves his protest aside and steps close enough to fumble with the apron’s tie at the back, making sure her boobs brush all over his torso as she slides her arms around him.

“You don’t?” He sounds so confused, like a flummoxed school boy totally out of his depth, and she wants to laugh, but she’s too turned on to appreciate the humor of the situation.

“I don’t,” she affirms. “I want you instead.”

When she lets her hand wander down to squeeze an ass cheek, Tom groans. And he doesn’t stop her when she finally unties the apron and tosses it on the counter. She slides her hands around his slim hips to the front and makes him hiss when she drags her blunt nails down his crotch. Something twitches with interest beneath her touch, hardening. Thalia glances up at him and makes a show of licking her lips.

“So hungry,” she whispers seductively, which only makes him groan even louder. Staring down at her, his mouth parted, Tom watches as she runs her palm up and down, applying more and more pressure and friction. At a particularly firm squeeze, he hisses and closes his eyes for a moment. A ‘please’ slips from him.

“Please stop or please go on?” she asks, fluttering her lashes at him when he seeks her gaze. His pupils are blown and his breath is coming faster, and seeing him so at her mercy makes her slicker between her legs.

“Please, Thalia, go on.” It’s a husky plea that does things to her.

In the power of the moment, she doesn’t miss his address of her given name, rather than one of his titles, nicknames, for her. Gathering a heady sense of authority from Tom’s willingness to bend to her needs, Thalia leans up to peck him on the lips, denying him a real kiss. Determined, she slides lower until she’s kneeling on the tiles, their coolness such a contrast to how hot she feels. Deftly, she unhooks Tom’s black belt and then unzips him, careful of his erection. Hooking her fingers into the waistband, she pulls both the jeans and the boxers–which he’s probably only wearing because he’s planning a family visit–down his thighs, trapping them around his knees. Tom automatically tries to widen his stance, licking his lips again at the sight of her kneeling.

Thalia runs the tip of her nose over the hardening length, inhales the scent of clean male musk and Tom’s soap. She nuzzles, runs gentle lips over him as his foreskin slowly pulls back to reveal more. When she laps at the first bead of precum offered to her, Tom’s groan is even more heartfelt and rough. She glimpses him bracing himself on the counter behind him, knuckles white as he grips the edge. This new sign of him surrendering to the moment, to the pleasure she can bring him, spurs her on and also makes her wetter.

Emboldened, Thalia gives him one firm stroke, then anchors her hands on his thighs, thrilled at the quivering, tensed muscles beneath her fingers. They’ve done quite some catching up in the past few weeks but it’s been a long time since she’s done this. She’s almost forgotten what a heady sense of power it gives her, and how beautiful Tom’s cock is up close. Taking her time, she licks and caresses him with her lips, gives him a suckle or a fimer suck off and on. The intention is to please him, but it gives her pleasure in return as she rediscovers this treat. Every so often, she’ll scrape her teeth gently along his length, dip her tongue into the slit or glide her mouth lower to his balls. But she takes her time, drinking in his hisses and gasps, the occasional growly moan, bitten-off curse, pleading use of her name. And he doesn’t remove his hands from the counter to steer her or direct the pace, just holds on and attempts to keep his eyes open so he can watch her kneel for him.

At last, when she’s so aroused she has an idea how on edge Tom must be, Thalia sucks him off in earnest. She lowers her mouth to take as much of him inside as she can, hollows her cheeks and sets a rhythm that has Tom whimpering. God, how she wants to move one hand between her thighs and rub herself to completion while she makes him come. But this is for him, a thank you in many ways. And so Thalia flattens her tongue against the vein running along the underside of Tom’s cock and dips her head that tiny bit further until her gag reflex kicks in. And then she moans around Tom’s rigid length, and the vibrations set him off.

Thalia feels his release hit the back of her throat, and she swallows and swallows as Tom’s body jerks, half-twists to the side while his hands fist in her hair at the last moment. She holds still until he’s finished, gives him some tender, cleaning kitten licks before shuffling back a bit. There’s barely time to take a breath before Tom has hauled her to her feet and crushed her to him, panting into her hair and swaying side to side with her a bit. He loosens his hold to peer at her, brow raised as if to silently ask what’s gotten into her.

With a naughty grin, she gives him a wink. “Well, you said you wanna christen every room in the apartment. Looks like you can put a check mark behind the kitchen.”

After a peck on his cheek, she wriggles out of his embrace, puts her T-shirt back on and saunters to the dining table.

“Now, weren’t you about to serve me breakfast?”

Click here to Chapter 32, Ready?

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

Not Yet

ch 27 Not Yet April 7 2019

Not Yet

Being Thalia

Chapter 27

By devikafernando and 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: 2660

Summary: While on a job assignment, Thalia finds herself missing Tom late at night. A phone call eases her loneliness.

Previous Chapter, Growing Up

November 2021

Thalia shrugs into the comfy, oversized T-shirt she wears to sleep and pads over to the bed. She casts a longing look at her phone, wishing she could call Tom. But there’s more than six hours of time difference between them, so it would be too early to wake him.

With a little wistful sigh, she snuggles into the sheets, but sleep eludes her. Her brain can’t stop. What if it’s always like this? What if we both have to keep putting work first?

Though they are trying to move forward, to work things out and heal old wounds, they’ve spent more time apart than together. While she was working in the States, he was stuck in London. His troubles with his ex-fiancee stretched out, partly because the woman was trying to ruin his good name and make things worse.

“That’s karma, I guess,” Tom had said during one of their phone calls, sounding tired but also sort of stubbornly determined. “It wasn’t fair of me to do this to her, to be too cowardly to sort my life out proper. Now I’m paying the price. A hefty one.” When she protested, he tutted. “It is what it is. And, darling, in the end, it’s all led me back to you, so I’ll do penance gladly.”

After two weeks of teaching, Thalia was relieved to return to Madrid. She threw herself into preparing for the MAN’s annual fundraiser, saddened they hadn’t been able to make their schedules work.

Kicking her legs out, pulling the tucked sheet loose, she tries to focus on the here and now, to settle down. She watches the moonlit shadows dance on the wall. With the windows open, she can hear waves lapping upon the shore, sounds of far away revelers at a nearby nightclub. A vacation hideaway is no fun without a lover, she thinks, pouting her full lips. When she had been called away to tie up loose ends for an ongoing museum consultation on the Yucatán Peninsula, Tom had been unable to tag along to Mexico. To pay off his debts quickly, he’s been locked into an elite series of seminar presentations at Cambridge.

They’ve been talking every day, sometimes more than once. It’s oddly like the eagerness to talk between two youngsters who’ve just fallen in love

–and in a way, that’s fitting because they’ve only just admitted their love to each other.

Bunching the pillow to make it more comfortable, Thalia turns onto her side–only to open her eyes wide when she hears her cell ring.

At the name flashing across the screen, a huge smile tugs at her mouth. “Tom,” she answers. “I was just thinking about you. Why are you up early?”

His deep voice floats over, wrapping around her like a blanket. “Oh, things to do, darling. And I may have jumped at the opportunity to catch you before you’re asleep. I didn’t wake you, did I?”

“No, I just slipped under the covers.”

Abruptly, his tone changes, and his next words send an anticipatory shiver down her spine. “Is that so? And what are you wearing to bed, Miss Bareo? Something sexy that I could rip off with my teeth?”

She bites her lip at the image, remembering at least two sets of underwear that Tom has already destroyed in his eagerness to get to her body and worship her. God, she needs him here! But she isn’t that easy anymore…

“Phone sex? Really?”

“Oh, but whyever not, love?” His voice is a low, seductive purr now, somehow full of dirty promises. “If I can’t have you in person, at least let me make sure you’ll fall asleep with me on your mind.”

Thalia shifts, suddenly hot and bothered despite her determination not to give in so fast, just from the sound of his voice. “You’d have been on my mind anyway, Tom.”

Silence, then a deep breath. “Truly?”

“Yes.”

Another pause. “Then let me make sure you can really feel me. Almost as if I were right there with you, burying my face between your luscious thighs and then tossing you onto your stomach so I could press myself in deep, so deep you’d feel me for days.”

Fuck. She holds back the expletive, definitely overheated now. “You’re not playing fair.”

“Oh, but haven’t you heard–they say that all is fair in love and war.” His purr is tinged with glee and she can picture his shit-eating grin which always magically makes him ten years younger.

With a scoff, she switches the phone to her other hand.

“All right, all right. Do your worst.”

Again, his voice slips into a lower register, quiet command amping up the arousal already shimmering beneath her skin, waiting to break free. “Oh, you haven’t seen me at my worst yet. Just you wait until we’re reunited, and I’ll unleash my inner monster.”

Thalia shivers again. She feels no fear at his threat, knowing deep down that he wouldn’t hurt her–not like this, at least; emotional hurt is something she’s already steeled herself against.

“Now, tell me what you’re wearing.”

“I could lie and tell you I’m all wrapped up in lingerie but you know me too well for that. Just an old T-shirt.”

“And panties?”

“Yes.”

“Off with the T-shirt.” It’s another quiet order. “Do it quickly, as if I would yank it off you so your glorious tits are bouncing. God, how I need to get my mouth on them. My teeth.”

Holding back a whimper, Thalia complies. She hears rustling at the other end and wonders whether he’s undressing himself. Or is he out of bed already, sprawling in a chair with his legs opened wide and his free hand stroking his cock? She presses her thighs together, then lies back down. For tonight, she’s happy to submit.

“Put your phone on speaker. I want you to be able to use both hands,” comes a husky command.

She does as told, her breath speeding up.

“Now touch those beautiful breasts for me. Be a little rougher than you would normally be, imagine it’s my hands kneading and groping and tugging on your nipples.”

Her fingers are eager to comply, fondling the heavy globes and feeling the tips harden and peak. A soft moan travels across oceans to Tom, and she can hear him groan in reply.

“Does that feel good? Do you yearn for my mouth?”

“Y-yes.”

“Good, I want you yearning. Desperate. All mine even though I’m not actually touching you.”

Her whimper gets cut off by some noise on his end of the line, something like static. Traffic? Does he have the windows open?

“Now be a good girl and suck on your fingers. Lick them. Make them wet, then play with those gorgeous dusky nipples again and imagine it’s my lips and my tongue.”

Thalia complies all too eagerly, exaggerating the noise of her sucking so Tom gets an earful. His hiss spurs her on. She tugs and rolls the hard nubs, her feet and legs shifting and twisting so the soft sheet caresses her skin.

“God, you must be so beautiful now,” Tom forces out, his voice rough and gravelly. “Does it feel good?”

“Y-yes. But…it’s not enough.”

“I know, darling, I know. I promise, I’ll make it better. But first, let me make it worse. Trail your free hand down those gorgeous curves and in between your thighs.”

She does as told, wondering briefly whether she should slide her fingers beneath her panties even though he hasn’t allowed her to. He would be none to wise…

“Nuh-uh, not yet,” he scolds as if he can see her, making her flinch with a tinge of guilt. “Keep those fingers on top of the fabric for now, and don’t stop teasing your breasts. Are you wet enough to soak the fabric yet?”

Fuck, those filthy words in that cultured voice. It’s not fair. Shifting even more, she unclenches her thighs enough to slide her fingers over her panties.

“Getting there,” she pants.

“Mmm, I bet. Rub yourself then. But no real touching until I say so. Soak that fabric until you can smell yourself, your need for me.”

Thalia hears what might be a suppressed moan, some more rustling. Is he touching himself? The thought makes her all fluttery and even needier. Even another bout of noise can’t deter her as she plays with her stiff nipples and presses two fingers of her other hand over the fabric to stroke in tight circles. Faster and faster, but still gentle. When she moans again, Tom breaks the silence.

“That’s it. There you go. Soaked yet? If I bent down and ran my tongue over the panties, would I get a hint of your taste now, tempting me to eat you out in earnest?”

“Yes.” It’s a groan more than a coherent answer. “Dammit, Tom, let me touch myself. I need to cum.”

A chuckle floats over, filled with mischief. She imagines his gleaming eyes, his wicked grin. Imagines it’s his fingers pressing down more firmly until she’s a squirming mess. She should just tug the now damp fabric to the side, slide her digit deeper…but she doesn’t because it’s thrilling to hand him the reins even when he’s not here.

“Beg some more and I’ll let you remove your knickers,” Tom commands in that deep, toe-curling tone. It sends another shiver through her.

“I will, but just so you know…The next time we’re doing this, I’ll be the one making you beg.”

She hears him suck in his breath. “Deal.” It’s so faint she can barely hear him. There’s more static and she uses the slight pause to get more comfortable. Then she begs.

“Please, Tom, fucking please.” She whines. “Let me touch myself properly. Wouldn’t it be so much nicer if you could really see me, smell me? Let me remove my panties, please. I’ll do whatever you say.”

She barely hears something, as if he’s biting off a curse or muttering to himself. So she’s affecting him too?

“All right. But you don’t get to come until I say so. Otherwise there’ll be punishment.”

With a sigh of relief and an eagerness she should probably feel ashamed about, Thalia wriggles out of her underwear and spreads her legs, propping up her feet. A waft of warm ocean air through the open windows hits her slickness and she can almost believe it’s Tom’s breath ghosting over her puffy lips. He’d nibble on her inner thighs now, tease her some more. Kiss closer and closer to where she needs him, then finally lick her but avoid her clit.

Aroused right out of her mind, Thalia bucks up into an imaginary touch.

“Slide those fingers down now, darling. Swirl them, coat them, feel just how swollen with need you are. Only I can make this better, right?”

“Yes, yes,” she agrees mindlessly, doing exactly as told and trying to control her breathing.

“Now impale yourself on one finger only. Let it go as deep as you can and think of how much bigger and longer my finger would be, satisfying you more.”

On a drawn-out moan, she complies. And it’s exactly as he says, she longs for his finger instead. Fuck, she’s always had a thing for his hands anyway.

“Please, I need another one,” she begs, rotating the digit and clenching around it.

He makes a tutting noise. “So greedy. I’m not sure you deserve another finger yet. Give that needy little clit of yours a good rub first, get yourself even wetter.”

Thalia slides her thumb through the slickness and up, circling on a gasp because it feels so damn good and yet she needs more-more-more.

“That’s it. I can hear how slick you are. All because of me. All for me.”

After a while, when she wants to burst out of her skin with need, he relents. “Two fingers now, my love. Find that spot that has you teetering on the edge. But don’t you dare come yet. I’m warning you.”

With a frustrated whine, she heeds his command, her eyes pressed shut and all her muscles tense. She can feel it, her climax. Right there, waiting for her to take the plunge. God, she wants it. Now.

“Please, Tom, please.” She’s past being coherent. All quivering need, at his mercy.

“Hold it right there. I can almost feel your inner muscles fluttering around my soaked fingers, pleading for release. Fuck.” His curse this time is more audible and heartfelt. But his next words surprise her enough to stave off the impending climax.

“Now use your free hand to angle your phone where you can see it. I’ll send you some added visual stimulation.”

Desperate for more, she fumbles with the cell. Will he go on camera? Send her a short video of him jerking off? Just a photo of his glorious cock that she HAS to have inside her right this very moment? She’ll take anything if it means he’ll finally let her come.

When a ding signals an incoming message, she thumbs it open–and blinks, then gapes in confusion. It’s a selfie. Not that she doesn’t think he’s hot as hell, but he wants her to fall apart by looking at his face only? It takes a few moments for her desire-addled brain to kick into gear, to focus on the details. Wait a minute…that background looks familiar. She squints, realizing that Tom’s standing in front of a door. She scratches her head, reaching for her glasses.

Is that… Holy shit, that’s the brightly colored door to her little beach cabana!

Thalia jerks into motion, which makes her impending orgasm recede a fraction, and her phone fall off the bed. With a few choice expletives, she bends to retrieve the phone, mindful not to touch it with her arousal-slicked fingers.

“Fucking hell, Hiddleston, are you standing in front of my door right now?!” It’s a stammered screech of sorts because she’s just too shocked and still not able to get all her brain cells to work.

“Yep,” is his reply, popping the p and sounding mighty gleeful. The next second, there’s a firm knock.

Still swearing a blue streak, Thalia hastily wraps the sheet around herself and hurries to the door. When she opens it, there he is, in the flesh and with a dorky grin and floofy hair, wearing his black coat. She looks at him for a split second more, noticing that his pupils are dilated and he’s breathing harshly. Then she launches herself at him, all extra pounds and tangled blanket, and he narrowly manages to catch her without toppling them both to the porch floor.

“I hate you,” she whispers into his ear, digging her teeth into it sharp enough to make him flinch. “Now make me come.”

“With the greatest pleasure,” he replies and his decadent voice rumbles through her.

Somehow, he kicks the door shut and hauls her to the bedroom, half-carrying her as their lips crash together in a kiss that goes from 0 to 100 in a heartbeat. And then it’s all a blur and magic. Tom tosses her onto the bed and she barely remembers to set her glasses on the rickety nightstand so they won’t get knocked off in the heat of passion. The next instant, he buries his face between her chunky thighs. It takes only a few licks and sucks before she explodes, fisting his hair and chanting his name. The next thing she knows, he’s shucked his coat and unzipped his pants, not even bothering to strip. His strong hands tug her to the edge of the bed so he can lift her legs around his hips and slide home on a groan that seems wrenched right from his heart. Their animalistic sounds mingle as they chase release together and finally find it in a moment of white-hot heat and zigzagging lights behind her eyelids.

Click here to read Chapter 28, Surrender

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

Digging into the Past

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Digging into the Past

Being Thalia

Chapter 21

By devikavernando & avenger-nerd-mom

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Gif created from images found on Pinterest

Word Count: 2252

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

Previous Chapter, Museum Musings

September 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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**

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

I deserve laughter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The text is punctuated with a smiley face.

“Shit,” she hisses. “Who did I text?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read Chapter 22, Beg For It

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

Opportunity Calls

ch 19 full size

Opportunity Calls

Being Thalia

Chapter 19

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 1374

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

Previous Chapter, Open Wounds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The silence on the line is deafening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You as well, Miss Bareo.”

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

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

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

Click here to read Chapter 20, Museum Musings

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

Open Wounds

ch 18 Open Wounds

Open Wounds

Being Thalia

Chapter 18

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 4518

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

Previous Chapter, Girls’ Night

September 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Tom, it’s okay.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read Chapter 19, Opportunity Calls

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

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