Ready?

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Ready?

Being Thalia

Chapter 32

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: 1212

Summary: Thalia and Tom get ready for another big step.

Previous Chapter, Served Hot

 She sits on the edge of his bed, her head in her hands. The front door clicks shut, and she hears him bounding up the stairs.

“Thalia, are you ready to go?” he shouts, the sound echoing off the walls.

Lifting her head when the bedroom door fully opens, Thalia offers Tom a weak smile. “Help?”

She watches the realization hit him, and he tries to hide a small smile. “Darling, I’m just taking you to meet my mum, not the Queen.” He takes two long strides to cross the room, falling at her knees. Tom grasps her hands in his, bending down even more to look up into her face. “She’s going to love you. You have nothing to worry about.”

Thalia lets out a shaky breath. “That’s easy for you to say. You’re so blinded by love, Tom, you’d let me leave here in this t-shirt and those holey jeans.” She tilts her head to the side, indicating her second favorite fashion accessory, laying beside her on the bed.

“Put on your boots with it, I don’t care,” Tom says. He rises from the floor, his knees popping and creaking. “Turn sideways, love.” He taps her hip, then runs his fingers through her hair, careful not to tug or pull. “It’s a beautiful day, sunny. Mother will want to sit in the sunroom and have tea. She’ll want to impress you, so she’ll use the fine china, with little flowers. Not the simple white tea set for everyday use.” Her breathing slows as he eases her tension, twisting a curl loosely around his fingers. “She’ll pull out photo albums, and do her best to embarrass me. She’s probably told my sister I’m bringing a girl home, so Emma will stop by, unannounced with a pie or cake, with the excuse to Mum that she just wanted to try out a new recipe.”

He continues to play with her hair, his fingers massaging her scalp as he arranges it into one fist, smoothing out the bumps. She sighs deeply, her eyes closed, enjoying her pampering. “If she brings my nephew too, we’ll probably move into the den, where Mom keeps his toys. And they’ll ask you questions about your life, and your job, and they’ll want to make sure your intentions with me are pure.”

She pulls the elastic from her wrist and hands it up to him. “Then you’ll want to shower again, because the smell of sex rolls off you.”

Tom titters with laughter and brushes his covered bulge against her arm, twisting her tresses and wrapping the band around her thick hair. “I’ll assure them your intentions are nothing but sexual greed, you only want me for my cock, my money, maybe also my brain.”

Thalia pushes away when he thrusts into her face. “Rude! I obviously want you for the size of your library!” She laughs.

He puts his hands on her shoulders, turning her to face him again, a wide grin lighting up his face. “There, finished. How can you have so much hair, even after cutting and donating it?”

“I don’t know,” she shakes her head, rising to kiss his cheek. “Thank you.” She cups her hand over the bun, tucking in a few stray curls. She bends, reaching for a black polka dotted blouse, laid out on his bed. “What about this? It kinda coordinates with your dark sweater.” Realizing she’s being ridiculous, worrying about matching, she silently scolds herself. “With my black pants and the pink sweater? The London air is colder than I expected.”

“It’s nearly winter,” he fusses, tugging down on his old, standard wool coat.

She rolls her eyes, reaching down for her heels. “I can be ready in about ten minutes, is that okay?”

He nods. “The car is packed, I’ve already taken my stuff down. What else do you need for an overnight bag?”

She points to the satchel on the bed. “Stuff in whatever you want me to wear for tomorrow, when we meet your dad. You said it was a lazy drive back here, with some stops along the way? Things you wanted to show me?”

He nods, reaching for her jeans. “My old stomping grounds. Might do a little walking.” He looks around. “Where are your tennis shoes?”

Entering the bathroom, she flicks on the light. “Still down by the back door, I think.” She nervously chews her lip. “Tom, does your mom know about us? How we met?”

He nods, worrying his own lip. “I’d mentioned weeks ago, after leaving my… former situation, that I’d hoped to fix my wrongs. She’s asked a few questions, especially with me being gone so much lately, and I’ve told her bits and pieces-”

“Does she know I was your student?”

He nods.

Thalia thumps her head against the door jamb. “Oh, God, Tom, what she must think of me!”

Tom drops to the bed, rubbing out the wrinkles on his forehead. “No, actually, she was ready to turn me over to the authorities. To hear her rant and rave, you’d have thought I’d told her I’d had an affair with an underage high schooler, not a grad student in her mid-20s.”

Thalia smiles. “I was young and naïve.”

“You were wearing a mini-skirt in the library-“

Thalia folds her arms over her chest, challenging him. “Are you saying my choice in clothing made you feel like you needed to come on to me? That, as a man, you couldn’t control yourself?”

Tom bows his head. “Bullocks, that sounds bad doesn’t it?” His soothing laughter, the familiar ‘eheheh’ sound, echoes around the sparse room. He slides off the bed, landing on his knees again. Raising his hands to plead, he crawls towards her. “Dearest Thalia, any man, regardless of your clothing choices, would be powerless to resist you. You have the body of a goddess, your voice is sin, your smile warmth on a cold day-“

She throws her head back on a guffaw. “Get up, you fool, before you damage your knees. And don’t you dare wax poetic like that in front of your mother or sister.” She reaches for the door, readying to close it. “They’ll have you committed.”

“Nah.” He wrinkles his nose on a grin, then groans as he gets up. “They had a dozen chances throughout my life to do that. They’ll just roll their eyes, and once they give it time to sink in, they’ll know I’m truly in love.”

Moving closer, Tom wraps his long fingers around her neck and tilts her head up, his eyes awash with meaning and his expression growing solemn. “I mean it, you know. Sure, I’m being a bit over-dramatic and probably soppier than any man should be, but I’m being completely honest. There’s so much about you that I admire, Thalia, so many reasons why I love you.”

Feeling her throat close up, Thalia swallows thickly. “I know. And I feel the same.”

His smile is brilliant, like sunshine in human form. He dips down for a quick kiss that she can feel everywhere, then gives one ass cheek a light swat. “Off you go then, I’ve got this.”

Thalia can’t hide her smile as she closes the door, some of her worries fading away.

 Click here to read Chapter 33, Over Her Head. Only a few chapters remaining.

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

Labor of Love

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Labor of Love

*an Emery&Chris fan fiction*

By avenger-nerd-mom

Word Count:  2363

Summary: Chris and Emery finally welcome their new little one into the world.

April 2019

Walking back to his trailer, Chris fumbles for his phone, nearly dropping it in the bright sun. He squints at the screen, wishing he had his sunglasses with him. The sunlight is deceiving- it’s not as warm as it appears. But since the weekend is supposed to be warmer, he promised his nephews a day at the park Saturday. Watching them play soccer. He chuckles, remembering all the “hot soccer Dad” comments Emery told him about after the weekend press conference.

“Call Emery,” he speaks softly into the phone, waving at a group of fans standing across the street. His handler opens the trailer and he steps inside, flopping in the seat closest to the door. He waits to see her face, surprised when she simply answers as a call, rather than a video chat.

“Hey, Jellybean!” Emery weakly exclaims. “You about done on set today?”

Chris reaches for the call sheet on the other end of the couch. Glancing over it, he replies, “Yeah, about another hour or two. They wanna reshoot one scene, but it shouldn’t take long-”
“Was that an actual ice cream shop, or a set? You know I want ice cream.”

“Fuckin’ internet… You’ve already seen fan photos, haven’t you?” Chris chuckles. “Yes, it was a real store.” Ice cream has been one of her pregnancy cravings, along with steak and Capn’ Crunch Peanut Butter cereal.  He can’t keep track of her favorites from week to week. Hell, it’s probably changed in the few days while I was gone to LA for Endgame promo. “What do you want me to bring home?”

“Something with toffee, and pecans.” She says the word in her funny little Southern drawl, ‘pea-CANS.’ “Buttery, vanilla, not chocolate. But, babe, don’t bring it home.” She clears her throat. Stronger, she tells him, “I need you to bring it to the hospital.”

Chris sits up tall, dropping both feet to the floor, ready to jump up in action. “Hospital! Emery, are you in labor? Why didn’t you call me!”

“You’re a nervous Nelly. And I knew you were looking forward to today’s shoot. Labor’s gonna take forever. The only thing you’ve missed so far is me throwing up, more than once, and sleeping.” She yawns, making a little puffing sound. “Real exciting stuff.”

Dammit, she would keep it to herself, not to worry me… Throwing open the trailer door, he waves the closest staffer over. Holding the phone between his ear and shoulder, he grabs the man’s clipboard and scribbles, ‘Labor. Leaving. Top Secret.’ Pushing the board back to the shocked man, he lunges for his keys on the counter, exiting the trailer in two large steps and slamming the door behind him. “Tell me everything,” he growls into the phone.

There’s a pause, and he can’t hear her over the sound of the crowd yelling at him. “Chris, relax. If you rush outta there like a mad man, it’ll be all over the Internet before you can even get here. I don’t want fans or press showing up here. We talked about that. Call me back when you get to the car. I promise, you’re not gonna miss the birth of our baby.”

She sounds tired, worn out. “Em? Is everything okay?”

“Just get here.”

The phone line goes silent. Staring at the phone, he can’t believe she hung up on him. Or called him a ‘nervous Nelly.’ What even is that Southernism? He shakes his head, and makes a beeline to another staffer, trying to remember his plan of attack if this situation came about this way. Quickly explaining his predicament, he asks the man to get the ice cream, telling him to come find the unmarked sedan on the back of the lot. Chris smiles wryly at the man’s confused expression as he turns towards the car that’s been provided to get him to and from set with little recognition.

As the man jogs away, one of the executive producers walks up to Chris, pointing him in the opposite direction. “I heard. Congratulations,” he offers, clapping his hand on Chris’s shoulder. “Tabby’s gonna drive you. That’ll help you pull yourself together. I’ll send John over with the ice cream.” He speaks into his walkie talkie, relaying a new delivery point for the pint. “You can get outta here in just a few minutes. She doin’ okay?”

Chris shrugs his shoulders, his face expressing his unease. “No clue. She hung up. I’m guessing Ma is with her, but no one told me anything. That’s pretty fucked up,” he mumbles.

“Man, relax, women been havin’ babies for centuries. At least it’s early, and you’re not on another continent…” Chris bows his head, realizing how lucky he is for this small favor. “Call me with the news, and we can shift some schedules around. Take the family time you need.” He pats Chris on the back, passing him off to Tabby, the set intern.

“Family,” Chris sighs, his heart swelling with pride.

***

Settled in the back of the car, ice cream rested next to his thigh, Chris calls Emery again.

His mother in law answers the call. “She’s sleeping, Chris. The medicines make her fall asleep at the drop of a hat, mid-sentence. Want me to wake her?”

“Anita, just tell me. What’s wrong? I’m trying to get there as fast as I can.” He calculates quickly. “Traffic, this time of day, I can make it over there in about thirty minutes.”

“Believe me, son. You’ve got time. This little one is gonna be just as stubborn as it’s Daddy. Baby E doesn’t wanna say hello just yet.”

He nervously wipes his beard, watching out the front window as the driver maneuvers around traffic.

“Chris, she’s okay. Her amniotic fluid started to leak while we were on our morning walk. She wasn’t really having contractions or anything, but we decided to call Dr. Puckett. She was already at the hospital and told us to come in.” She breathes out slowly. “Emery’s having contractions, small but not enough to move the delivery along. Because of all the troubles she’s had, the medical team decided to give her Pitocin to speed things up, not put any more stress on her body.” His mother in law sighs. “She’s strong, honey. She’s gonna be okay. The medicines made her sick, but she’s walked around some-

“Why didn’t anyone call?” He swallows hard, trying to hold back his irritation.

“You know her, she wouldn’t let us. Said you were working, and Dr. Puckett said things were going to be slow. She begged your mom and I not to call you-

“Let me talk to Ma,” he barks, hitting his head back against the seat.

His mom’s soothing voice immediately calms him. “Chris, sweetheart. Everyone’s fine. She wanted you to work. The doc agreed it was gonna be several hours. You’re gonna be here. Baby E will be a week or two early, but healthy, and it’ll give you something to talk about on the the press tour besides spilling Marvel secrets.” There’s noise and a low moaning, almost a whimper. He taps the back of the driver’s seat and motions to drive faster. When his mother speaks again, she tells him. “The doc just came in here now, and it looks like they’re gonna attach a monitor around her belly. She’s waking up and you’ll be able to see her when you get here.”

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With only the sack of ice cream in his hand, he jogs down the long hallway. He tips his hat low to avoid recognition. Other new fathers carry flowers or stuffed animals, and somewhere down the hallway, a small baby cries. Normally the activity in the maternity wing would make him smile, but today he can only focus on one thing. His wife.

His love. His life. His whole world.

Nearing the room, he spies Dr. Puckett ahead, looking over a patient chart with another nurse. He stands back, leaning against the wall, clearing his throat and waiting for her attention. She lifts her head at the sound, smiling. With a small, delicate motion of her hand, she waves him over. “Chris, good to see you.” She shakes his hand, and nods to the nurse at her side. “This is Amber, she’s the best. She’s been with Emery all day, and plans to stay through, all right?” He nods. “Have you seen her yet?”

Crumpling the bag tighter in his hand, he shakes his head no.

“She looks a little pale, but she’s tough. Her body isn’t responding to the Pitocin, and she’s only dilated about four centimeters. With the amniotic fluid leaking, she does run a risk of infection-”

“Doc, is she going to be okay? I don’t wanna be an ass, but we can make another baby or adopt, but God help me, if anything happens to her-”

Placing her hand on Chris’s arm, Dr. Jamie Puckett’s exhaustion shows on her face. “Emery is fine, I promise, but the baby’s heart rate is dropping. The nurses are going to come in soon, and prep her for a C-section. I know that wasn’t really the plan, but in order to keep baby and Mom safe, I think it’s best.”

“Does she know yet?” Chris asks, trying to keep his voice steady.

The doctor shakes her head. “No, I was waiting till you arrived. Why don’t you go see her for a few minutes, and then I’ll be in and we’ll go get Baby E. You’ll be holding your baby within the next few hours.”

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Chris stirs from his chair as the nurse comes in, the morning rounds just beginning.

“Sorry to wake you,” she whispers.

Wiping the sleep from his eyes, he stands, his old bones creaking. Shit, maybe I’m too old for this Dad stuff, he thinks. “Didn’t get much rest.” The gravel in his voice is proof. He’d spent the night watching his wife and their tiny little one sleeping.

He needs coffee, in an IV, stat.

Memories of the night before flash through his mind, like a movie montage, nothing settled in place to seem real yet. The quiet afternoon, watching her sleep. Her strength and string of expletives when the epidural was administered. The rush to the operating room as both Emery’s and baby’s heart rates dropped. Suiting up in his new favorite uniform. Standing helpless, not wanting to see on the other side of the curtain. Holding their baby for the first time. Calling the mothers in for their first peek. The first attempt at breastfeeding.

The nurse checks some readings on the monitors, making notes in her charts. She quietly addresses Chris. “The pediatrician will be in soon, to check over the baby, and the lactation specialist. When your wife wakes-”

“I’m up,” says a sleepy voice. “Bring me my baby. And coffee. Can I have coffee? Like in an IV. Just inject it into my veins.”

Chris’s laughter draws her attention. He can see her struggle to turn to him. The drugs are still in her system, making all her movements sluggish.

“Hey, sexy Daddy. You thought the same thing, didn’t you?”

With tears in his eyes, he leans over and caresses his lips over her forehead. “You are mine, you know that, right?” The strong actor chuckles, weak in the knees. “You were made for me.”

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Grabbing the collar of his t-shirt, she pulls him close, tenderly kissing his plump, inviting mouth. “Yeah, and together we made something special, a baby. Ours-” She kisses him again. “I want it, and I want coffee.”

The nurse giggles, “Now, Miss Emery,” she says calmly, like talking to a petulant child. “We talked about that yesterday. No coffee yet, not if you’re going to breastfeed.” She smirks at Emery’s huffing. “But you can take a sip or two of his.” She tilts her head to Chris, as he gently climbs into the hospital bed next to his wife.

“Fine. Bring him one. A big one. Thank you,” she says as a second thought, remembering her manners. The nurse drops the chart in the holder by the door. “Oh, can you get me a cheeseburger?” Emery calls out as the nurse leaves the room.

“Babe, it’s barely eight am.” Chris teases, cautiously lifting her upper body from the bed to tuck her to his side, his arm resting gently around her shoulders.

“Don’t care.” She scratches her cheek absently. The skin is swollen and red from an allergic reaction to the mask placed over her face during her surgery. “I had a baby last night. I want what I want.”

Sitting on the bed next to her, his exhausted, amazing wife settles against his chest. He breathes deeply, inhaling her scent, and he feels his world fall into place.

“I’m gonna be hearing about that for months, years, aren’t I?”

She pokes him in the ribs. “Big enough they had to cut it out. You made a tiny monster.” She giggles, loopy from medications. She rubs low across her belly, wincing as her hands near the bandages covering the incision. “Almost seven pounds. How was that even inside me? How is that even possible? No wonder complete strangers stopped to ask if I was having twins!”

“You know,” he says, twisting her fingers into his hand and raising them to kiss the back of her fingertips, careful not to bump her IV, “it’s not an ‘it’ now.”

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“‘It’ has Daddy’s eyelashes.”

He chuckles, kissing the top of her head. “‘It’ has Mommy’s red hair.”

Before they can finish their verbal tease, she falls back to sleep peacefully. He continues to sooth his fingers through her hair, enjoying their last few minutes alone.

“Love you, forever, Em.” Squeezing her tightly, he lays back against the pillow, hoping to get some more rest of his own.

after baby cuddle

With the little bundle snuggled in his arms, wrapped tightly in a Captain America blanket, Chris steps into the lounge, full of family and friends. “Hey, everyone,” he says with enough authority to garner everyone’s attention, but not to wake the baby. “Thought you’d wanna meet Kaileigh Grace Evans.”

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Author’s Note: Remember in Surprises Ahead? Emery tells Chris, “Read it with a Southern accent. The first syllable? Rhymes with ‘thai.”

**Images found on Pinterest**

Story will update when Muse strikes. I actually wrote a baby story 3+ years ago, but in the vision I wrote from, I didn’t know the baby’s name or gender. In February 2019, the name just popped in my head one morning while I was in the shower! Until that moment, I had no idea if it was going to be a little boy or girl for the Evans’!

If you want to know more about Emery and Chris, read the novella Georgia on My Mind, and their additional stories

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

 

Growing Up

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Growing Up

Being Thalia

Chapter 26

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 2779

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

Previous Chapter, Another Step Forward

October 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Did you leave because of me?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I love you, Tom.”

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

“I love you too, darling.”

Click to Chapter 27, Not Yet

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

Another Step Forward

chapter 25 Another Step Forward March 31 2019

Another Step Forward

Being Thalia

Chapter 25

By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando

AU Fan Fiction

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

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

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

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

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

Word Count: 1634

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

Previous Chapter, Second Chances

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The door flies open and he nearly falls into her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And what do you plan to propose?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3832459a-21a8-4858-a81e-2d33a6860f28.jpg

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

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

“I hate you’re going to the States.”

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

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

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

“Who needs food?”

They both laugh when her tummy rumbles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read Chapter 26, Growing Up

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

 

Chasing Winter


The real life couple who inspired my published novel, Chasing Winter, are celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary soon! Help them celebrate by downloading their story FREE!
******

Dear Santa,
I think Daddy needs a girlfriend. He needs someone to take care of him. She has to cook and like outdoor stuff. She has to like kids, ‘cause I have a little brother. And she has to be pretty, like the Christmas Princess. I love that movie! I want Daddy’s girlfriend to be nice like the princess and be good to everyone. She can’t be mean, like the Ice Queen!
Oh, and there’s another thing I want. I’ll tell you when I see you at the Christmas Pageant!
Love, Jennifer
Grading the students’ papers, Noel Winter lays the child’s Christmas letter down on her desk and wonders exactly what surprises might be in store this Christmas… Jennifer’s father, Rex Presley, made quite an impression at Parent Conferences. And it had nothing to do with his plaid coat or ruggedly, handsome good looks. He’s got a chip on his shoulder, and his hands full, raising two kids on his own. So why can’t she stop thinking about him?

 

******

The novel includes my writer ‘trademarks,’ a strong, sassy female character, a handsome male hero who needs rescuing, humor, fluffy smut, and yes, even a shower scene!

Please download your FREE COPY today!

 

All my readers have been so wonderfully supportive! I’d love to see this novel push to the top of the charts in the next few days! Share the love, spread the news! My gift to you for encouraging me to keep up with my dreams- Chasing Winter for FREE!

Thank you!

Love,

Cass

Vacation Time

Vacation Time december 23 2017

Vacation Time

An Emery&Chris story

By avenger-nerd-mom

Chris and Emery continue their weekend getaway weekend in the secluded cabin in the Blue Ridge mountains.  A competitive game reveals a little secret, and the couple receive a holiday surprise.

Warnings: real life, fluff, language

Word Count: 2321

Images found on Pinterest. Sources unknown.

Click here for part one of this story…

December 2017

Shyly, Emery turns from the hot stove, handing her sleepy-eyed husband a plate of Southwest eggs, hashbrowns, and a steaming cup of coffee.

“Bacon will be ready in a minute,” she appeases, nibbling a bite of her toast.

“What’s all this for?” he asks.  “You don’t usually fix all my favorites at once; you always say it’s a heart attack on a plate.”  Sprinkling pepper over the whole meal, he jokes, “Are you trying to kill me?”

She giggles, carrying her plate, with the served up bacon, to the table.  “It’s an apology,” she says, tucking her leg under her bottom as she sits in the wobbly chair.  “I was kind of a  bitch the last few days.”

Chris opens his mouth to replay and promptly snaps it shut, hiding his smile behind his large hand.  He clears his throat, holding back his laughter.  “Really?  I hadn’t noticed.”

She chuckles, mixing together her scrambled eggs with the potatoes, reaching for the tabasco sauce.  “It’s my hormones.  They’re still crazy, but getting better.”

He nods, reaching over to pat her hand.  Losing their baby last spring had been difficult on both of them, in more ways than one.  They had gone to therapy together to work through their pain.  As a couple, they had decided to be more careful, to wait till there was a more definitive end in sight for studio connections related to Cap.  Chris rubs his thumb over the back of her small hand, before pulling back and picking up his fork, his mind still wandering, not really knowing what to say.  He lifts the forkful of eggs to his mouth, chewing in silence.  Leaving for ten weeks to South Africa during the summer had been trying, to say the least.  In his absence, Emery had hid her sorrows in a buckets of ice cream and fast food, eating comfort foods as she traveled and gave school trainings, gaining a little extra weight.  She hates it, but he likes the added curves.

“Hey,” he blurts out, shocking them both from their contemplative morning.  His own look of surprise makes her giggle.  “Did you pack our hiking boots?  It’s nice out.  Why don’t we take that path we looked at the other day, before it gets too cold.”

He cringes inwardly, hoping she doesn’t take it as a slam against her weight, but her face brightens.  “I love that idea, jelly bean.  They’re in the back of the truck.”

The young couple finish their breakfast, making plans to pack for the hike and the easy comfort returns between the two.

***

Carrying the firewood in, Chris laughs as she loads everything into the new pressure cooker she’s been raving about for weeks.  “Don’t let my mother see you do that; it’s not real Italian if it doesn’t simmer for hours and splatter gravy on the cabinets.”

“She gave me the recipe,” Emery laughs, sticking her tongue out at him.  “It just makes everything easier.  Why do you think I brought it along for the weekend?”

Tightening the lid, she punches a code on the space age front and reaches for two beer from the fridge.  She nods to him, “Unless you want something warm?”

He arranges the logs carefully, stoking the burning embers to rebuild the blaze.  He shakes his head.  “Nah, that’s fine.  Bring over one of the Jiffypop pans.”

Emery opens the well-stocked pantry and grabs two pans.  She stiffles a laugh and tucks something under her arm, walking over to the coffee table.  Shoving the Potter book out of the way, she sets down the beers before placing the box on the table and handing him the pans.  

“What’s that?” he asks, peeling off the cardboard label on the foiled pan.

“Scrabble.  Sexy scrabble?” She laughs, opening the box and dumping the tiles on the table, many falling to the floor.

“You mean like in that story you were reading a few months ago?”

“Yea,” she blushes.  “I thought it was funny,” Emery giggles, taking a sip from her beer and creating a pile of pillows by the couch.

He shakes his head, reaching for a pillow, and resting it against the hearth, the fire at his back.  “Can’t believe you still read that crap…” he mumbles, looking over his shoulder to the flames, jostling the popping kernels.

“Actually, those two authors are published and-”

“Dammit, I knew something was up!” He pumps his fist in the air and his face lights up.  “I remember that story.”  He pulls the handle of the pan from the fire and drops it on the stones, letting it cool.  “That was the one with Tom… That’s it, you’ve got a Hiddleston crush now, don’t you?  That’s why you were so weird when he was on set, geezus, how did I not see it?”

She purses her lips and hides her smile.  “Well, hell, the way those two women write, how could I not see him a little differently? I know, I know, it’s weird.  It’s not like a crush, more like, ‘I know I’ve met him before but how did I not realize he was attractive?’ Does that make sense?”

He sighs, counting out his tiles for the game.  “No, but I’ll take your word for it.”  Sitting across the table from her, he enjoys teasing her, likes watching the firelight flicker over her ginger hair, bringing out flecks of gold.  He knocks his foot against her calf, before picking her leg up and resting her foot in his lap, massaging the ball of her foot.  “So you aren’t going to run away from me? Leave me for Tom?”

“Oh, no!  I could never do that to Anna!  She’s the sweetest!”

“What?” he barks out, his laughter barely contained.

Her blush is as red as her hair and she drops her face into her little hands, the light bouncing off the silver wedding band and large stone.  “Shit!  That’s not what I meant and you know it-”

“Cuz, ya know Anna is really cute too and-”

“Shut up, Christopher.  That’s not what I meant at all, and you know it.” She tosses a tile at him.  “Are we gonna play the game or what?”

“You know I’m very competitive.  All right, give me the rules again.”

He reaches behind him for the popcorn, placing the inflated silver mound on the table before breaking the seal open and popped kernels spilling out onto the table.  She explains the rules as she remembers from the fan fic story she’d read and told him about, and they begin their word game, using only words related to sex acts, providing entertainment as the sun set.  The pair banter back and forth, laughing over use of slang and foreign words.

Chris looks up from his phone waving it at Emery when she sets back down from checking the dinner.

“We can eat now or la- what? Why are you waving that at me?”

“Tom thinks you’re cute too. He sends his best for Christmas in case he and Anna don’t make it back for reshoots till after the holidays.”

Her jaw hangs open momentarily and he tosses a piece of popcorn inside.  “You did not.”

He raises his eyebrow, in what should be a trademarked move.  He laughs and shrugs his shoulders.  “He happened to text just now about some studio gossip he heard, and Anna invited us for New Year’s Eve.  I may have mentioned you have a new appreciation for his ‘good looks.’  Bastard wanted to know what size Loki pajamas you would want for Christmas.” He chuckles, his eyes turning dark.  “I forbid you to wear those in our bed.”

She pushes back her hair.  “Is that a tone of jealousy I hear, Mr. Evans?  Are you worried another superhero could steal my heart?”

“He’s the villain,” he growls.

“Oh, I see… So you can look at other women, while I stand back and watch quietly while fans drape themselves all over you, but if I happen to say one of your co-stars is good looking, after all this time, you’re gonna get bent out of shape?”

“Hell, yeah, Emery, ‘cuz you’re mine.  I don’t want you thinking about any other guy, the way you think about me.  I get why you read fan fics, still.” He scoffs and rolls his eyes.  “No different if I decide to watch porn while we’re apart,” at the look on her face, he adds, “Which is rare, which is rare,” he laughs.  “But I don’t want you having sexual fantasies about my friends. Our friends.  It’s weird.”

sexy scrabble.jpg

Rearranging her tiles, she can’t lift her eyes to his.  She says quietly, “I don’t have sexual fantasies about your friends.  Only you.”

He likes teasing her.  “Emery Thomas Evans, can you boldly tell me you didn’t marry me because I’m a Marvel man, and have famous friends.”

“Oh, yeah.  That’s not important to me.”  She lays out her next word on the board. ‘Spank.’ “I totally married you for your amazing cock.”

He coughs, holding back his laughter, watching her mouth twitch as she tries not to laugh as well.  “Is that all?  That’s the only reason?”

“Well, that and your money.  Being a poor, broke teacher was getting old… Thank god you don’t work for DC,” she throws out.

“My money? Really Miss ‘I Bought All My Christmas at Wal-Mart?’”

She slaps her thigh. “Oh!  Look who’s talking?!  You are still wearing the same Henley from 2006 and won’t wear the new ones I buy you.”

“Target. Quality stuff.  2006 was a good year,” Chris says, running his hands over the well worn fabric.  “And it’s comfortable.  The new ones are itchy and tight, and damn, Em, they just don’t make them like they used to.”

With a giggle and a smirk on her face, she rises, silently pausing the game.  She moves to the kitchen and he gets up to follow her, reaching for the plates as she opens the cook pot.  “Christopher Robert Evans, it’s not like you are eighty years old and they only made good shirts when you were young!  The new ones will stretch out if you just wear them.”  Emery rolls her eyes and serves out the pasta dish, smelling remarkably just like Mama Lisa’s kitchen.

***

Emery’s eyes flutter open when she realizes too much sunlight is pouring into the small cabin.  She blinks repeatedly trying to focus and make sense of what she sees.  Chris’s round bubble butt comes into view first.  “Evans, what the hell are you doing?” she laughs, throwing a pillow at him.

cabin chris

“Just enjoying the view.  The fresh air.”  He looks back over his shoulder with an impish grin.  “Bringing in the sun to wake you up, sleepyhead.  Come here, you’re not gonna believe this.”

Grumbling, she pulls the comforter from the bed, wrapping it around herself.  “You better close that door and bring your parts back inside.  You’re no good to me if your dick freezes and falls off.”  Her voice is tight and raspy, the cold air having taken its toll overnight. She tiptoes across the cold floor to stand behind him.  Holding tight to the corners of the blanket, she wraps her arms across his chest, cocooning them both in the warmth of the bedding.  “What time is it?” she asks sleepily.

“Vacation time.  Who gives a fuck? Anyway, we’re snowed in.”

“Hmmm…” she hums, nestling against his back.  The feel of his favorite faded flannel against her cheek is comforting and she’s so happy to be in his arms again.  “What?”  She blinks, really opening her eyes, surprised to see the truck and lane covered with snow.  He nudges her backwards and closes the door.  “Can you believe I hardly ever saw snow as a kid, and now it snows here at least once a year?  So weird.”

“Global warming,” he scoffs, spinning her around to the front of his body, laughing when she jumps back.  He pulls her close, whispering, “We get an early Christmas present.  Production is shut down for a few days.  Atlanta is at a stand still and the power is out.  It’s messing with filming.”

“Hard to look like Wakanda with snow on the ground,” she offers. “Do we have power?”

“I don’t know; I haven’t checked,” he admits. “I just woke up myself when the phone rang-”

“Were you about to… pee off the front porch?”

Laying back on the couch, he pulls her on top of him.  “Hey, we’re camping-”

“No.  No.  I don’t need to know anymore.  Thanks. God, men are so weird.” she giggles.

“So we’re stuck inside?  Might I suggest choosing another word on the board? Maybe make it a combo act?” He teases, pointing to their abandoned game.  “I think last night’s winner should choose the word.”

She slows her breathing to match his, lulling into a restful state, nestled in his arms as he combs his fingers through her hair.  “I wanna sleep more.  I never sleep well when you’re gone.  And it’s been so crazy.  But now it’s just us.  So let’s go back to bed.”

He chuckles and she vibrates against him.  “I don’t think you mean that the way I hope you mean that.”  Chris drops his head to kiss the top of her mass of wild red curls.

Emery’s fingertips graze over his chest and she delights in the goosebumps that form across the solid plane.  Her heart begins to beat faster and she pulls in all the details of the moment.  His warm skin.  The dark words etched into his flesh.  The small scar on his neck.  His freckled cheeks.  “Hey, Chris?” She lifts her head to look at him.  “This may be the best Christmas present ever.  More time with you.  Thank you.”

His lips turn into a smile.  “Mother Nature and I worked that out, together, just for you, kitten.  Merry Christmas, Emery.”

Click here for the next Emery&Chris story, Hero In-Laws

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

Perfect Balance

perfect balance december 4 2017

Perfect Balance

an Emery&Chris story

by avenger-nerd-mom

Warnings: real life, Hollywood, fluff, language

Word Count: 1362

Image from weheartit.com

Thanks @moncun for the drabble prompt!

December 2017

Looking to the back window, Chris puffs up his chest.  She’s been giving him the cold shoulder all afternoon, and he didn’t do anything wrong!  Her strong Southern pride got riled again, and he opened his mouth, inserting his foot before he realized it was too late to backtrack. The spitfire redhead must really be angry. She didn’t even crack a smile when he announced he was going out to chop wood for the evening fire, and he had on his gray SHIELD shirt.  

With a few days off from filming, he’s in tip top Steve Rogers mode.  Things have been so crazy this fall, he’d promised a few days in a secluded cabin in the Blue Ridge mountains.  Swinging the ax down, he takes out his frustrations.  Married life hasn’t been easy, especially dealing with her grandmother’s death and a miscarriage, all within the first six months of their marriage.  But things have been good lately.  It’s nice to work close to home, to be at the house in Savannah two or three nights a week.  

Celebrity gossip and politics are both topics they try to avoid.  News of another celebrity figure had splashed all over the TV that morning, starting another round of discussions… 

He knows and understands her fear; she’s nothing if she’s not vocal.  Even he has days when he wonders if some old story will come around about a flirtation taken the wrong way.  He can’t change his past, he shrugs. If something comes out, they’ll just have to deal with it.  He’s never crossed any lines, but everything is under scrutiny these days.  Even a playful tap on the ass to a cute waitress, can be —

The sound of the log splitting enters his spirits, grounding him, pulling him away from Hollywood thoughts.  It’s nice to feel like he could work with his hands if he ever needed to, if he ever decided to walk away.  He tosses the split pieces to the growing pile and balances another log on its end, bringing the ax down with a satisfying swish.  

Maybe that’s what he should do.  He wipes his arm across his brow, wiping away the building sweat.  Just walk away from it all for a while, let himself grow soft.  He sighs.  The play will be a challenge, and Emery is looking forward to a stint working with a select group of teachers in the NYC school system to better their math instruction.  Some promotional work next spring for Marvel, and then some much deserved time off.  Scripts are coming in, but he hasn’t had the time to devote to reading them like he’d hoped during down times on set.  There are just too many people around, friends to hang out with, making it seem more like play than work.  Emery finds a way to Atlanta at least two or three days a week if he can’t get home, depending on her speaking engagements.  But days like today make him feel like their careers are taking a toll on their marriage.  

Bringing the ax down again harshly, he leaves it stuck in the log, pissed at the thought.  How can a marriage be stale after barely a year?

“Easy, fucker,” he mumbles, scolding himself.  “You don’t work hard enough.  She makes it too easy for you to let everything slide.”

He reaches for his beer and takes a long draw, the cold liquid frosty, sliding down the back of his throat.  But that’s just her way.  She’s a goddess among women, the only one to tame his wild ways.  She’s sweet and gentle, with a hidden wild side only he sees.  The perfect balance of naughty and nice…

The door swings open.  “I made soup… if you eat that sort of thing,” she tersely jokes, the door closing behind her.

Wiping his hands on his pants, he picks up a few of the chopped wedges, placing them in the crook of his arm, and carrying in his beer.  Entering the toasty kitchen, the small one room cabin with a loft smells like heaven.  “Grilled cheese?” she offers, turning back to the stove as she flips the toast in the pan.  Chris walks over to the hearth to set the logs near the fireplace for later in the evening.

“Sure,” he replies, moving to wash up at the sink.  “Two slices, extra gooey like you make it?”

“Of course,” she says quietly, tilting her head to his when he tenderly kisses her temple.

The pair eat quietly, talking over holiday plans and sharing news from both sides of the family.  Nothing stressful.  Chris offers to clean up their mess so Emery can finish up some of her school work for the day.  Lost in her work, she doesn’t even hear him tell her he’s going to take shower.

After the shower, he pulls on an his plaid pajama bottoms and an old sweatshirt she packed.  He tugs it down, smiling at the metal knight warrior on the front, the mascot from her old school.  He rubs his hands over his face.  Although it’s still early, by the clock, the colder night air makes it feel later than it is.  He reaches in his travel bag, and pulls out a small present he’s hidden away, just for her.

Stepping from behind the room divide, the main room is empty.  He tilts his head, and listens.  The bathroom sink is running.  She’s getting ready for bed too.  Placing the small wrapped parcel on the couch, he takes a few steps to the fireplace, stoking the fire, trying to keep the cabin warm.  

His heart leaps when she steps from the room, his plaid pajama top reaching down to her knees.  Em smiles shyly.  “Want some hot chocolate?” she asks, stepping toward the kitchen.

He grabs her arm as she walks past, pulling her into his lap.  He wraps around her waist and pushes her curls back with his other hand.  “You look cute in my shirt.”  It swallows her up; way too big, and with the top button missing, he can see her pink bra covering the sloped curve over the top of her breast.  He leans forward, practically knocking her to the ground as he holds her tight, reaching over the coffee table for the small present.

Righting himself on the hearth, he bounces her in his lap and she rests her head against his shoulder.  “What’s this?  We said no presents, remember?”

She’s too beautiful, and if she doesn’t unwrap the gift soon, he’s going to want to unwrap her.  Which defeats the purpose of this gift.  He runs his thumb across her sweet freckles, and quietly says, “I saw it and knew you needed it.  Don’t think of it as a Christmas present.”

“Ok,” she giggles, untying the plaid ribbon and letting it fall to the ground.  The crisp paper has velvety flocking and she runs her hands over the beautifully wrapped gift.  “This is lovely.  Did you do this?”

“For you; I googled how to properly wrap a present,” he chuckles.  “No dollar store gift bag for my girl.”

She laughs, peeling back the tape.  Seeing just a glimpse, she lets out of a squeal of delight. “Oh, my god, Christopher!  You didn’t?”

“I did.”  He picks her up and carries her to the couch.  Snuggling her to his side, he reaches for the old quilt on the back of the couch and throws it over her legs, covering up her silly Christmas socks.  He takes the gift from her, and opens it.  In his rich, Boston accent, he reads aloud, ““Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.’”

As the wind begins to howl outside the cabin, the couple take turns reading from the book Emery has longed to share with him.  As the fire dies down, and her reactions grow further apart, her breathing changes and his voice lulls her to sleep, safe in the arms of the man she loves.  Intrigued by the story, Chris continues to read silently to himself, the story of the boy who lived.

Click here to Part Two of this story, Vacation Time

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

 

Choose

et ch 33 choose june 25 2017

Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom & @devikafernando

AU FICTION

Chapter 33

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

Word count: 1380

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, real life discussions, angst

Summary: Things get out of hand when the shared time at the cabin prompts Chris to ask Thalia for more.

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

Enjoying the comfortable silence between them, Chris was really glad he’d asked Thalia to go hiking.  He’s quite surprised by her knowledge of the wildlife in the area and indulged her wish to sit on the shore of the lake to watch a flock of Great Blue Herons skate across the patches of ice and break through to hunt for food. She happily clicks photos of the view, but ignores the occasional beep of messages coming in.  After about the fourth time she quickly types a response and powers down the phone, throwing it in his backpack. He doesn’t say a word. It’s none of his business, although his heart stings, wondering exactly how she ended up with a free weekend.

Absently she digs through the snow at her feet and finds a small stone, throwing it out and watching it skitter across the frozen surface.  “What’s next, mountain man? My ass is gonna freeze to this log if we sit much longer.”

“Thank God.  I was waiting on you.  Mine is frozen,” he laughs, rubbing his hands roughly over his ass as he stands up.  Reaching for her hands he pulls her up next to him laughing as she wraps her arms around him to help him with the task.

“You’ve got a nice ass babe, it’s just not as padded as mine. “

“Yea, you tease.  You keep reminding me you’ve got all that padding back there but then you never let me fully use it.”

She slaps his ass playfully.  “I’m fine with our play back there so far.  You just keep tempting me. Some day. “

“Some day.” He takes her hand in his and leads her back into the path.

The pair continue their walk through the woods, startling a doe and her fawn.  Talking quietly, they exchange more stories of their childhoods, spilling details about troubles they caused for their parents and high school hijinx.

At the back of the porch, Thalia stops, refusing to follow up the steps.  She looks out over the view, her brow furrowed in thought.  Chris sits down on the rickety old riser, noting it needs to be fixed soon.  Leaning one forearm on his thigh, he waits in wonder at her thoughts.  He plays with the buttons at the wrist of the worn plaid shirt, his coat laying next to him, warm from the walk.  Lost in her ruminations, he wished he knew where her mind went sometimes.  It’s not that he hasn’t been around her on her period before, but she usually takes those days to herself.  This is different.  Alone in the woods, they are entirely dependent on one another, and she’s not quite herself this afternoon.

Pivoting on her heels, she turns to him, fresh tears in her eyes.  “Why did you bring me here Chris?”

The million dollar question.  He wished he had a good answer for her.  Picking at a scuffed mark on the toe of his hiking boot, he can’t make eye contact with her, although he feels her eyes boring into the top of his head.   He decides to go with honesty, just as she did once.  “I knew you’d appreciate the history.  I wanna win you over; for you to see we’re good together.”  He looks up, his eyes fierce.  “Fuck, I’m not asking for forever, Thalia.  I know you wanna travel and see the world, and Avery scares you a bit, but I want you to see I’m the better man.”

He sees the flash in her eyes, wanting to rise to the defense of the unknown stranger, but he pushes onward.  “Even if you don’t choose me, don’t choose him either.  He’s not right for you.  The bruises, the sadness you sometimes have; constantly hiding your stress.  I get it; I do.  I lived it but didn’t know it for what it was two years ago.  But juggling two of us is running you down.  I can see it.  But I also know we have fun together, and I don’t wanna lose that.”  Rising to her he steps down next to her, placing his hand on her arm, her whole body closed and defensive.  He hates the pain in her eyes he causes now.  “I’m willing to ignore things just because I like being with you; I hate you have another man, and you still cling to him after all this time.  I want it to be me and only me.  I feel more alive with you than I have in months; I don’t really know who needs healing most here, but I know I need you.”

“Chris, I… I can’t… I just…”

She turns to walk away, going to the front of the house and he jogs up behind her, grasping her arm and spinning her to him, forcing her to look at him.

“Dammit, Thalia, you can’t just walk away every time something gets rough.  I’m telling you how I feel and if you care, you’ll listen.  You’ll talk to me.  Explain it, because I don’t fuckin’ understand.”

“Don’t you get it, Chris!”  She shouts, her voice echoing in the valley, a sound of release.  “Don’t you get it,” she repeats, quieter.  “I don’t have a damn clue myself.  I know it’s a hot mess.  And everyone’s gonna be hurt; and it fuckin’ sucks.  But I don’t know how to end it, or even if I want to.”

She pulls away from his grasp, walking to the swing hanging under the big tree in front of the cabin.  “Are you asking me to make a decision now, because if you are, I just can’t.  I keep… I keep hoping when I hear about my internship, I can get my head together.  The adult thing…”  She sighs, pushing her legs off the ground as she rocks back on the swing.  “The adult thing to do is for me to walk away from you both.”

“Wait till the end of the semester?”  Chris grabs the rope on the pendulum and stops her in motion, bringing her to a halt as she hits against him.  “Just get on the plane and not look back?  How does that help make it better?”

She drops her head, placing her hand over his, still clutching the rope.  “It doesn’t.  And I’d never do that to you.”  Looking him in the eyes, she tells her fear.  “Leaving either of you cuts me in half.  I need to be whole; just a bit longer.  You said it about yourself, and I feel it too, I feel alive with you… but,” she chokes on her words.  “But I feel the same about him too.  I’m sorry.  It’s childish; I want you both, and I know I’m going to lose you because of it.”

Righting the swing, he holds the rope with both hands, like a lifeline, looking down on her.  She looks small and lonely.  Not the Thalia he knows…  Words bubble out before he even knows where they come from… “What if…  What if I just take myself out of the equation?”  Stepping back, he leans against the tree, arms crossed and defensive.

Leaning forward on her knees, her shoulders wrack with silent tears.  His heart breaks.  That’s the last thing he wants to do, and he doesn’t really want to force his hand.  But he doesn’t know if he can see another way out, or another way to get her to make a decision.

Shoving off from the tree, he walks to the porch, pissed this discussion got out of hand.  He can’t really take it back now.  Maybe harsh words will lead her to a decision?

Gruffly, he says, “Don’t stay out too long.  It’ll get cold.  I’m going in to pack up my things.  We’re going back tonight.”

Fuck.  He wants nothing more than to turn back to her.  To sweep her in his arms and pretend none of this ever happened.  But he needed to speak his piece, to know where he stood and she gave him the perfect opening to get it out there.  Before he steps inside the house, he hears her say, “Fuck you. Why’d you go and ruin a perfect weekend?”

He’s not sure if she’s talking to herself or him and the door slams shut behind him.

Click here for Chapter 34 Boots

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

Prize

et ch 32 prize june 21 2017.jpg

Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom & @devikafernando

AU FICTION

Chapter 32

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

Word count: 3272

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, NSFW, real life, foreplay, oral sex, dry humping

Summary:  Thalia’s period changes plans for the activities just a bit and the couple finds other ways to create fun

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

images found on Pinterest

Scrabble image created by avenger-nerd-mom

waking up in cabin.gif

The next morning Chris is woken by her hushed curses.  The sounds echo in the cold room.  He rolls over and looks at her through squinted eyes.  Her wild mane hangs around her and his plaid shirt, buttoned crooked, slides off her shoulder.  “You’re never awake first; everything all right?”

A quiet “fuck” snaps him to…  His blue eyes fly open and he quickly takes in her pained expression.  “Thalia?  What’s wrong?”

Dropping her head forward, her reply is muffled behind her hands and she pulls away when he reaches out to her wrist.  “Christ, it’s so embarrassing.”  She sighs heavily, looking at Chris with her dark brown, sleepy eyes.  “My period came early and I don’t have anything.  Can you drive me to town?”

Biting back the laugh and comment he knows will get him in trouble, he pats her knee, caressing his thumb over the old, knubby bedsheet.  Better early than late.   “It’s okay, babe; it’s a guest house.  I’m sure we can find ‘things’ you can use in the hall closet.”

He really hopes over time his mom, sisters, hell even his ex-wife have left things in the closet.  It’s the first time he’s ever seen Thalia unsure of herself, and although a crack in her tough girl armor is endearing, he wants to help right her as soon as possible.  Throwing the covers back, he starts to climb out of bed and she scrambles the blankets towards her.

“The bed, Chris…”  She chuckles, shaking her head.  The blush on her cheeks and the morning light hitting her face creates a halo effect, and in all honesty Chris has never seen her more beautiful.

Rolling back to her, he crawls up on his knees behind this beautiful, distraught woman.  Gently caressing down her back he tells her it’s no big deal.  Her plump, full body is warm, even in the cold cabin and he moves closer to her, wrapping his arms around her.  His t-shirt and flannel bottoms are no match for the cold air.  He’ll have to restart the fire soon.

She relaxes into him, resting her head back against his shoulder and reaching up to scratch his scruffy chin.  “That’s really nice, thank you.  Come on.  Go now and check.  I need to go take a shower.”

Kissing her temple, he slides off the bed, walking to the door.  “I’ll give you time.  When I hear the shower run, I’ll be back to check on you, alright?”

She nods her head, her hands still worrying at the sheets.

#

Fifteen minutes later, the fire is going again and he sees the sheets in a big ball in the hallway.  No stains to the mattress pad.  Not that it would have mattered.  As a father, he’s cleaned worse messes.  Setting out fresh sheets on the bed for later, he smiles to the little tune she hums, remembering another time long ago he waited impatiently while she was in the shower.

“A lot of the snow melted over night,” he announces, stepping into the steamy room, her signature scent of orchids filling his nose.  “If you feel up to it, I’d like to take you on a hike.”

He sets down the selection of feminine supplies he found in the closet on the counter.  “Do you need anything else, Niña?  I’ll go get the laundry started.”

Pulling back the curtain slightly, Thalia smiles wryly.  “No, please don’t.  I’ll take care of it.  A hot coffee before a hike sounds perfect; I’d like that very much.”  Embarrassed, she hangs her head, tendrils of curls falling around her face from her messy bun.  “Chris?  Thank you.  If… If you wanted to go home, I’d understand.”

Chris crosses the small room, placing his large hand on the back of her exposed neck, gently pressing his lips to her tantalizing plump flesh. Sliding his mouth from the welcomed exchange, he rests his forehead to hers.  “Oh, Thalia… beautiful, funny, amazing woman.  If you think we’re just here for a sex-fueled weekend, you are entirely wrong.”  His lips graze across her forehead and he turns to walk out of the room.

“I plan to beat your ass at Scrabble later today.”

Her laughter bounces against the tiles as he gathers the soiled sheets in his arms and takes them down the hallway, his own laughter echoing hers.

#

Over bacon and eggs, Thalia announces she’s not ready for a hike just yet.  She’d like to warm up and stay cozy by the fire.  Chris putters around the kitchen a bit longer, checking on the wash as she finds a volume from the bookshelf and carries it over to the couch to curl under the hand stitched quilt to read.  Shifting her slightly, he settles in next to her, opening a book on his tablet.  At one point, he knows she drifts to sleep next to him, and he rests his cheek on top of her curly head.  Happy. Content.  Satisfied.

When she wakes, she disappears into the bathroom.  Upon reentry of the room, she pulls the Scrabble box and a dictionary off the shelf and starts to set it up on the coffee table in front of the fire.  “How about that popcorn now?  I’m hungry; I could use a snack.”

Chris readies the kettle and the kernels begin to dance and pop over the flames as they decide on the rules of the game.  Sexy Scrabble.  Only words related to body parts and sexual acts, slang and traditional phrases included.  “What about scientific names, or Greek and Latin?”  Thalia asks.

Squinting, his competitive nature getting the best of him, Chris chuckles.  “You study languages.  I would be at an unfair advantage.  That doesn’t seem right?”

Tilting her head to the side, she pushes a wayward curl behind her ear. Adjusting herself comfortably on the pillow, she smiles up to him, still sitting on the edge of the couch.  “Well?  You could choose one of those words and we could try it out sometime…  But I’m telling you now, you’re going to lose.  I have an excellent sailor’s vocabulary.”  He laughs at her tease.

The game begins and she’s right.  It’s stacked against him. Right from the start, she plays ‘olisbos,’ earning nine points.  “Shit, this is not fair.  What the hell is that?”  He chuckles.  “Do I want to know?”

Laughing, taking a small handful of popcorn and chocolate candies she had in her bag, she replies.  “It’s fairly tame; it’s the Greek for ‘dildo.’”

“Fuck. Remind me to never play word games with you again; you’re gonna beat the pants of me.”

Raising her eyebrows, she giggles.  “Isn’t that the point, Evans? And you know, I get 50 bonus points because I used all my tiles.  So make that 59 points over there on that little notepad you’re keeping.”

“Fuckin’ hell.  Evil, evil woman.” He chuckles, laying out the only word at his disposal, ‘seed,’ for a measly four points.

Other words tossed about during the game are fairly customary, traditionally used in common language.  The list of synonyms for ‘whore’ takes the game to a new level, as slang terms were allowed in their rules.  But the dark-headed woman is constantly ahead in points and Thalia finally takes pity on him and allows Chris the privilege of using his phone to help him google words to use.  “Man, we shoulda set the rules for strip Scrabble.  We’d have been done in about four turns,” she laughs, throwing popcorn at him.

“Four is a good number.”  Wiggling his eyebrows at her, he hopes she knows he’s enjoying their meeting of the minds as much as he loves the joining of their bodies.  “Hey, Thalia.  This is a lot of fun; I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun at Scrabble before.”

“Don’t you get soft on me; try to butter me up!  I’m gonna win this damn game,” she shouts playfully.  “Don’t try to distract me with your niceties.”

“I know you’re gonna win, and then I’m going to enjoy claiming my prize…  Hmmm… What should it be?  I’ll be honest, I’m leaning towards ‘irrumatio.’”  He’s pleased with his new vocabulary, learning this is the Latin for ‘face fucking.’

Placing the last tiles on the board, Thalia announces she wins, spelling out the word ‘fellatio.’  With a predatory gleam in her eye, she crawls around the table to him, pushing his leg to the side to make room between his thighs.  “You know,” she says, biting her lip seductively and then flicking her tongue out, licking her bottom lip, “that’s a prize you can claim now.”

Breathing ragged at just the touch of her hands on his thighs, he exhales, “We could… I could accept that reward right here.”

Rising up on her knees, Thalia places a frantic, heated kiss on his lips.  He winds his hands in her hair, tighter as hers knead over his thighs.  The flannel pants rub against his cock, already beginning to twitch with desire for this ethereal creature.  Her tongue teases along his swollen lip, encouraging him to open for her.  When he does, she pulls his bottom lip between her teeth, nipping and biting, her hands continuing to caress up his muscular legs.

Covering her warm hands over his bulge as their touches continue, quiet moans escape them both.  Massaging his hard cock through the soft fabric, he wills himself not to crack under pressure.  Her lips continue the chain of bites and nibbles across his sandpapery scruff.

Grasping his tapered waist, she tugs him further down the couch so his ass nearly hangs over the edge.  Resting back on her heels, she digs her fingers under the sides of the waistband and gives a yank as he lifts his ass up. Sliding the pants down his legs as he removes his t-shirt in a swift move, she licks her lips at the sight of his beautiful, veiny cock.  “Who’s really getting the prize here?” she moans quietly, removing her own t-shirt as well.

Rising back on her knees, she stretches up, resting her belly against his throbbing cock, running her hands over the defined plane of his torso.  “Like a damn Greek statue,” she whispers, memorizing every ridge with the touch of her hand, followed by her hot mouth blazing on his skin.

Chris writhes beneath her, enjoying each touch, wanting to be closer than ever to her.  Knowing he can’t have her is killing him, and she’s taking her time with her own pleasure.  Her fingertips scratch over his nipples, bringing them to painful attention, easing the hurt with her sweet lips wrapping around them.  “Fuck,” he chokes out between panted breaths as she sucks and bites at him, making her way south.

His slick precum lubricates between them and she continues to brush her body against his, the lace of her bra rough against his sensitive nerves.  She wiggles her ass back and forth as she slides across his body, tonguing his belly button and toying with the coarse hairs leading to his aching muscle. Putting his foot up on the coffee table behind her, he spreads his legs wider as she slides her nose along his cock, resting hard now against his thigh.

“You really suck at Scrabble.”  Thalia breathes warm puffs of air against his legs.  “Fortunately for you, I suck at other things.”

Looking up, her eyes capture his and her desire is evident there as she holds him in her hands, cupping his balls and rolling them between her fingers.  Slowly she uses one hand to slide up his thick shaft, covering the palm of her hand over the tip and using his slick to ease her glide as she begins to stroke him up and down, never taking her bright wide eyes from his.  When her touch becomes too much for him, his eyes roll back and he rests his head against the couch.

With his eyes closed he savors the feeling when her mouth closes over him, her tongue teasing under the ridge.  He can’t stand the torture.  Placing both feet firmly on the floor, he lifts his hips so the head slides into her waiting mouth.  She grips his shaft so only the tip can slide in and out between her lips as her tongue swirls around, sucking off him with each penetration into her opening.  Holding his balls tighter, she holds him in place silently guiding him and he rests back down as she sucks softly along his shaft with sweet open-mouthed kisses.  “Oh, shit, that’s good,” he groans as she repeats the steps going back up to the head before placing her mouth over the tip and sliding down on him.  “Fuck, yes,” he hisses, grasping tightly to the edge of the couch.

Pulling the clip from her hair, her curls tumble down over them, an erotic waterfall of sensation across his belly, thighs and exposed cock.  Her humming causes his need to build, and so aroused, his hips thrust up again, forcing his length down her throat.  Pushing up from the couch, she holds still as he reflexively pummels into her again and again, until she taps his thigh indicating her threshold.

He pushes back with his feet, shoving the table out of the way and pulling his shaft from her mouth,. Easing her gently to the rug, he spills himself over her chest, long spurts as she smiles up to him, caressing her hands over his muscled back and his tight ass.

Collapsing to her, she holds him close, tenderly kissing his sweaty temple and dragging her nails down his sides, holding at his V as he grinds against her a bit more.  “Jesus fucking hell; stop that,” she laughs, pushing against him, truly wanting what he’s offering.

“I should stop, ‘cause I know you’re gonna be mad…”  He whispers against her neck, nibbling the tender spot just under her neck.

Rolling him off to her side, they are both covered in his sweet sticky mess.  “Why would I be mad?”

“It’s in your hair, and I know you hate washing it when it’s cold outside.”

Gripping his chin, she holds firmly.  “I hate you, really.  But I think we both need a shower anyway, after.”

Biting the side of her cheek and pulling from her grasp, he rests his head on his crooked elbow, beginning to wipe her down with his t-shirt.  “After what?”

Propping up on her elbows, she drags a finger through the mess and licks it off like a lollipop.  “After a haircut.  Your hair is a shaggy mess.”  She tugs at the curls starting to grow on the back of his neck.

“You’re going to give me a haircut?”  He smiles in wonder.  “Fine, fine.  On one condition.  You stay halfway naked, just as you are now.”

Caught midway with pulling off her sticky bra, she pauses.  “That’s fine.  I’m okay with that.  Wrap up in a towel or something.  Easier to clean up.”  She climbs to a standing position and holds her hand to him.  “We’re going out on the back porch anyway.”

“What?  Fuck no.  It’s cold.  I hate cold.  I don’t wanna be half naked outside.”  He gets to his feet and holds her close before she steps from his reach.

Walking to the bathroom, she calls over his shoulder.  “You set the clothing challenge.  I’m just going with it.  It won’t take that long to cut and there’s less to clean up ‘cause birds will carry the hairs away to build nests.”

He hears her banging away at the cabinet doors and she emerges with two towels and the razor set from under the sink.  “You’re not kidding?”  He responds by moving to the back door when she pushes on his back, wrapping a towel around his waist.  “Have you ever cut hair before?”

“Chris, would you relax.  It’s just a buzz.  Running the electric razor over your head.  It’s not that difficult.”

When Thalia opens the door,  a whoosh of cold air greets them.  She lays out the kit on the little side table and Chris watches the goosebumps rise on her skin, her dark nipples peaking in the cold.  If it bothers her, she doesn’t say a word.  Stubborn thing…  She sets the chair in the center of the porch and motions him to sit down.  He tries not to shiver at her touch or the cold but it’s such a jolt to his system after the warmth they’d just shared together.  She wraps the other towel around his shoulders and gently blows on the back of his neck, telling him to look down.  She quickly runs the blade up the back of his head a few times, the comforting whir of the familiar sound easing his mind.  She blows on the back of his ear to brush away stray hairs and he can’t help but wiggle.  “Sit still,” she giggles.  “You don’t want it to look crooked.”

Walking around in front of him, she continues her task, her lovely breasts right in his face.  She stops and breathes heavily when he pulls her close, latching his warm mouth over one of her cold tight buds.  A few deep breaths and she regains her composure, returning to the job of trimming his hair.  His nose slides down the valley between her breasts and he takes the other tip into his mouth, beginning to knead the one he just left.  Her breasts feel larger, more full.  He keeps his touches light, realizing in her state she might be tender.  Her quiet moan is the only response she gives.  Resting the arm holding the clippers over his shoulder, the buzzing still in his ear, with her other hand, she pushes his legs together and straddles his lap.  Bowing his head to her chest, she carries on, small wisps of hair falling around them, tickling his nose and his shoulders.  His tongue flicks over her breasts and she begins to grind over his lap, a rise and fall of her own as the shaver slides over the top of his head.

With the click of a button the sound stops and the razor clatters on the table.  Her hands brush over his head, checking for hairs still too long.  He pulls one leg away and balances her on one thigh as she continues her ride, his hands greedy on her ass, pulling at her flannel bottoms, and playfully smacking her behind.  His mouth comes down roughly on her tattoo, the branch of orchids over the top curve of her breast, beautiful and sweet and highly erotic at the same time.  He feels her grow tight in his arms and she digs her fingernails into his shoulders as she comes, crying out in little whimpers, snuggling close to his chest when she comes back down.

Chris pulls the towel around them both, kissing her tenderly as she falls from her eroticism.

“Holy shit,” she giggles.  “Wasn’t really planning on that, but okay.”

“Niña, that was the most fucking awesome hair cut I’ve ever had.”  She still trembles in his arms and he holds her tight a few minutes more.  He’d carry her inside, but the whole threshold thing messes with his mind briefly and he waits till her legs are less jelly before insisting she go into the shower first.

The door closes behind him and he stands on the back porch, clearing their mess, his head full of thoughts.  He’s distracted by the sight of two birds, hopping over to swipe his hair, chattering and chirping away at one another about their good fortune.

Click here for Chapter 33 Choose

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

Night In

et ch 30 night in june 14 2017.jpg

Night In

Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @devikafernando & @avenger-nerd-mom

AU FICTION

Chapter 30

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

Word count: 5279

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, Fluff, food porn, serious discussions

Summary: Thalia isn’t still isn’t feel well, so Tom comes to take care of his girl.

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

The doorbell buzzes, and Thalia nearly jumps off the sofa.

Oh God, he’s here. Is she really up for this?  He can be so intense…

The feeling from earlier stayed with her all day. She did have a slight fever earlier in the afternoon.  It’s not really the flu, but maybe a severe cold?   She never could tell the difference; she always had Stacey around when she was sick, to figure it out.  Thinking of Stacey and her dad only only makes it worse. She feels…odd. Off balance and uncertain, and she hates both with a vengeance. And to top it all off, she has no idea how to act around Tom this evening. At least if she’s quiet, she can blame her attitude on being ill.

With a sigh, she pads to the door. She’s dressed in her favorite canary yellow pajama pants, a baggy gray sweatshirt and fluffy, warm socks, with a shawl wrapped around her.

When she opens it, the first thing she sees are two enormous paper bags, one single pink orchid wrapped in transparent gift paper poking out on top. Then the bags lower, and Tom’s tired yet smiling face appears.

“Hey there,” she says, feeling her lips stretch into her smile almost against her volition.  “You look tired.”  She reaches for one of the bags, but he twists from her grasp.

“Hey there yourself.” Tom steps in, somehow managing with his freakishly long arms and big hands to maneuver the bags so he can lean in and kiss her cheek.  “Don’t worry about me; just tired.  My right hand was too sick to come in to work today,” he chuckles.  “How are you feeling, darling?”

She ponders the answer a moment, her gaze drawn to the concern in his deep blue eyes. “Not too bad now. Staying at home was a good idea. And I took some medicine to get the fever down. But I’m kind of tired.”

“Well, I’m armed with chicken noodle soup and movies, just as the lady instructed.” His smile turning goofy, Tom jerks his chin at the full bags. “And I brought a flower because a wise woman told me not so long ago that proper dates need flowers.”

Thalia’s mind does a little dance at the mention of their first ‘date’ when he treated her to a lavish dinner. How fitting that he draws her mind to this particular memory, because he pampered her amazingly well before a long night of loving. And pampering is just what she needs today.

“You’re too good to be true,” she murmurs, and Tom wiggles his brows at her.

“Need me to pinch you? I’m definitely true and real.”

With an eye roll, Thalia steps out of his way so he can walk over to the counter, where he sets the bags down. With a comical flourish, he takes out bags, boxes and cans until he’s emptied half a supermarket on her counter.  He shrugs out of his coat and lays it over the back of the chair, turning to point out the selection with pride.

“Jesus, Tom, I said I’m sick not looking for a food orgy.”

His signature “ehehehe” turns her to mush for a moment, and she licks her lips as he removes his tie. “I saw that, luv,” he chuckles.  “Don’t give me ideas we can’t follow through with.  You need your rest.”  Looking down at the food, he grins.  “I know you don’t need all this, but what’s a movie night without some snacks?”

Before she can protest, he waves a can of soup in the air.  “But first, your soul food.” He roots around in her drawers for cooking utensils, and she points to the cabinet for the pot. Still dressed from a long day on campus, she watches him heat up the soup and add some fresh chopped carrots and celery as well. Her mind transports her into a possible future. She imagines really being sick and having Tom fuss over her and make her soup, reading her a bedtime story from Shakespeare’s works and reminding her to take her medicine.

“Darling?” Tom’s voice and his hands on her shoulders pull her out of her thoughts. “Are you quite alright?”  One large hand feels her forehead, checking for a fever.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine, don’t worry. Just entranced by that mouth-watering smell after I barely ate anything at all today.”

It’s not a lie. Her mind’s been so off that she hasn’t had more than the reluctant bite she had in the morning, as if she’s really sick.

Another smile lifts her lips, and the noose she’s felt so tightly around her neck all day loosens a fraction.

“I also bought mashed potatoes, as you requested” he adds. “But let’s leave those for a proper dinner after your stomach has been mollified.”

Together, they get the soup into a bowl, and then Tom hands her a few DVDs he’s picked from another bag and pushes her over to the couch with a gentle hand on the small of her back.

“Go and get settled, darling. I’m going to go change out of these clothes and put on something comfy, then I’ll make us a tray with snacks and I’ll be with you in a jiffy.”

Obediently, Thalia walks over to the couch, not sure how she feels about Tom puttering about in her kitchen. It’s all so…strange. It never feels this way with Chris, and…

No. She won’t think of Chris today. Not now.

God what a mess. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea.

Determined to make this a good night, she gets the TV screen from the closet and hooks up her computer, getting ready for their movie night before taking her seat.

A few minutes later, Tom walks into the living space, giving the room only a cursory glance before settling his eyes on her.  He smiles when she sucks in her breath at the sight of him in his cozy plaid shirt, with a peek of a tshirt underneath for added warmth in her cold apartment, and well worn jeans.  He sets the laden tray down carefully before plonking himself down on the sofa next to her. It takes him a bit of adjusting because his legs are so damn long, but once he’s finally sitting comfortably, he shoots her an eager smile. Hidden behind his glasses, his eyes are sparkling with expectation and excitement, and there’s that boyish quality to him again that surprises her so much. Combined with his decidedly manly looks—highlighted by the shadow of stubble along his strong jaw and by his slightly disheveled hair—it makes him so attractive she wants to curse the unfairness of it all. Instead, she wiggles closer readily when he lifts an arm so she can lean into his side.

“Right, let’s have a look at your beloved superheroes,” he says with that infectious enthusiasm of his, and Thalia hits play on the DVD.

The movie hasn’t even properly begun and Tom’s hands are already wandering. But there’s nothing sexual to his touch. The hand of the arm he’s draped across the backrest of the sofa winds into her hair, and he tugs the hairband off to run his fingers gently through her tresses. Off and on, he stops gliding through her curls to massage her scalp ever so lightly or to trail his fingers over her neck in a soothing, rhythmic motion that relaxes her blissfully. If she wasn’t so focused on the movie, she’d feel drowsy by now.

With his other hand, he digs into the snacks—pretzels, individually wrapped chocolates, popcorn, toffees, peanuts, his long arms giving him easy access without having to shift. Off and on, he feeds her a bite in between spoonfuls of her soup.

Half-way into the movie, Tom disentangles himself from their embrace, and she can barely hold back a protesting sound because she hasn’t felt so relaxed in days.

He takes the empty soup bowl out of her hands to set it on the coffee table. Thalia’s eyes watch his long fingers deftly open a couple of buttons of the rumpled flannel shirt. Her mind is transported back to Chicago, where he wore the shirt for the first time. Something stirs inside her. Is it melancholy? Wistfulness?

She stomps down on the flicker of feeling. “Feeling nostalgic?” she asks, popping some popcorn into her mouth to hide whatever expression might be on her face.

Tom smiles a little crookedly. “As a matter of fact, I do.” His face grows thoughtful, and she can feel him zone out for a bit. When his gaze settles on her eyes again, he looks serious. “I may sound like a sappy old fool, but the time I spent with you in Chicago ranks way up high there with the happiest days of my life.”

God, why does he have to tug at her heart strings like that? “Way too sappy, mister,” she jokes, trying to lighten the mood. Tom’s expression clouds over instantly, and she feels as guilty as if she’d just kicked a puppy.

His beaming smile returns when she shares, “Mine too, Tom.  It ranks really high for me too.”

They turn back to the movie, and even though he pulls her snugly into his side again, something about him feels off.

With a small sigh, Thalia places a hand on his thigh and rubs up and down softly.

“I’ll always treasure our time in Chicago,” she admits, and some of the tension melts out of Tom’s body. She can feel him press a kiss on top of her head before he moves his arm to place his hand on her waist. It stays there, as if it belongs there for the rest of her life.

Soon, both of them become too engrossed in the movie to make normal conversation. Shocked that Tom hasn’t seen any of the Marvel movies, Thalia keeps throwing in extra information, filling him in on relevant tidbits that happened in previous movies. The first intermission has her pause the DVD and half-turn towards him.

“How come you haven’t watched any of these? They’re modern classics, damn it. It’s like never having listened to Shakira or something equally blasphemous.”

Tom chuckles, downing a few gulps of soda before answering. “In my defense, I did read some of the comics in my childhood. And they were fabulous. I just never got around to really caring enough to watch the movies.”

Thalia shakes her head, her curls brushing his face. “Shame on you. So, how do you like it so far?”

“It’s amazing. I’m positively surprised by how much backstory between the lines there is, how much emotional depth beside all the action.”

That is such a Tom thing to say that it makes her smile. But she gives him a mock-stern glare. “Well, I hope you’ll remedy your grave mistake and watch all the others too.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He salutes smartly, giving her a goofy grin. It turns into a smile when he leans in and pecks her on the cheek, a chaste brush of his lips that lingers a while and warms her from the inside out. “Thank you for introducing me to them, Thalia.  We can watch them together?”

The nagging voice in the back of her head won’t stop.  “That means you’d have to find time for me outside of office hours.”

The pained expression returns to his face.  “I know, darling.  Spring semester is always so busy for me, my evenings just seem too full.  I’ve been lackadaisical when it comes to making time for us away from my office, and you’re always on the go, my love.”  He squeezes her hand.  “I hope visits to the storage closet make up for some of the missed times?” he inquires, referencing their meeting earlier in the week.

She smiles, “For now,” winking at him playfully, though she wonders if it’s really enough.  But then again if both men were competing for the same hours, she wouldn’t know what to do with herself, so she lets it go.

She unpauses the movie and snuggles back into his comforting embrace. After a while, Tom pushes the tray to the side and props his socked feet up on the coffee table. Not even the action sequence on the screen can keep her from catching an eyeful of his long feet. It’s disconcerting to see him without shoes, in a weird way. His feet look even bigger without shoes on, and a giggle bursts free when her naughty mind wanders to what they say about men with big feet. Well, she knew all too well that there was some truth to that…

“What’s so funny, darling?” Tom shoots her a confused glance, his lips automatically lifting to mirror her gleeful grin.

“Nothing.” She chokes back her laughter and bites her lip, concentrating on the movie. From the corner of her eye, she can see Tom still looking at her. He crosses his legs at the ankles and rests his free arm behind his neck, sinking a little lower in his seat. Thalia mimics his actions, feeling mighty comfortable as she pulls the blanket over them.

She picks up her commentary, and somehow that sends her off on a rant about Loki and how Marvel doesn’t give him the attention he deserves. She talks about his development throughout the Thor and Avengers movies, and about how the actor playing Loki had managed to make the villain outshine the hero.

“So, you’ve got a thing for the bad guy, hm?” Tom asks, shifting his attention from the screen to her again.

Thalia gives it some thought. “I wouldn’t say that. Firstly, Loki isn’t a stereotypical villain. He’s kind of misunderstood, and he’s got this mischievous side to his character that always gets him into trouble but isn’t really meanness or evilness.”

Tom nods. “That’s kind of how the real Norse mythology portrays him, if my memory serves me correctly.”

It’s her turn to nod. “And secondly,” she shoots him a grin, “I’m pretty infatuated with Captain America too, and he’s definitely the good guy.”

Shifting to catch her attention, Tom says with a twinkle in his eyes, “Personally, I think a man should be a bit of both in real life, it will get him far.” He wags his brows at her comically. “A good boy in certain situations, a bad boy in others.”

With a guffaw, Thalia elbows him in the ribs. She’d been feeling so guilty just a few hours ago, and now look at her, laughing and thoroughly enjoying Tom’s company.

Being with him like this, with sex and secrecy out of the equation, is a totally new experience—if you disregarded Chicago, which was different in a way—and she’d thought at the beginning that it might be awkward. But it isn’t, and that gives her pause.

Pushing thoughtfulness away, she asks with a raised brow, “And what about women? Are we supposed to be a mix of good girl and bad girl too?”

Tom’s grin fades, and there’s an intensity in his gaze that she’s seen often. It always leaps into his eyes so suddenly, and it’s one thing she appreciates so much about him, how he’s genuine and all-in, whatever he’s tackling.

“Well, you’re the perfect mix of both, and look how wonderfully irresistible that makes you,” he says, his tone almost a low, growly purr before bestowing a quick kiss to her neck.

God, if she wasn’t feeling so out of it today, she’d be all over him by now. Even in her confused state, she feels a flutter in her belly.  The warmth bubbles out of her and she tells him just that.

“Good; then we’ll have another movie night soon, when you’re feeling better.”

The sound of an explosion pulls their attention back to the screen, and they watch the rest of the movie in amicable silence, punctuated by the occasional gasp or whoop at a great scene.

“Well, that was lovely, darling.” Tom says when the end credits are rolling. He makes a soft, satisfied grunt and shifts his position. She feels him nuzzle her throat softly, his stubble barely scraping across her skin, the clean, unobtrusive shampoo smell of his hair mixing with the scent of his skin. One of his big hands caresses her stomach, so lightly she senses the heat of his palm more than actual pressure. It draws lazy circles over the soft gray fabric, lulling her into a state of boneless bliss.

But she doesn’t want to doze off. Damn it, she has Tom over at her place for really the first time. She wants to treasure this.

“What’s a movie you’ve watched so many times you’ve lost count?” she asks, trying desperately to stay awake. She holds his hand steady on her stomach with her own, their fingers entwining.

“Mmm…” He leans his head back against the sofa, his face scrunched up in thought. “I think it’s a close tie between ‘Heat’ and Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’.”

“What?” Thalia sits up straighter and lets go of his hand, checking his face to make sure he isn’t kidding. Those two movies are like night and day, and… “But that’s a children’s movie!”

He lets his head roll to the side, quirking his brows at her. “Yeah. And your point is?”

Now it’s her turn to frown thoughtfully. “Seriously? You’re not pulling my leg?”

Tom places a hand over his heart, assuming a comically solemn face. “Dead serious. Scout’s honor.”

That makes her giggle again. “I doubt you were ever a scout.”

He grins back at her. “Got me there, darling. But I was honest about ‘The Jungle Book’. I mean, how can you not love that movie? It teaches us so much, about friendship and family, about nature, about never giving up. Even after all these times of watching it, it makes me cry and laugh and sing along.”

As if to prove a point, Tom starts humming the tune to ‘Bare Necessities’, which sends her into another fit of laughter. She can’t remember a time when she’d felt so shitty but ended up laughing so much.

“Laugh all you want,” Tom said, crossing his arms over his chest and looking like a kid again. “It’s one of my all-time favorites, and I see no reason to be ashamed of it.”

Thalia shifts, half-turning on the sofa so she can face him. “I’m not saying it’s something to be ashamed of. You just surprised me, is all.” They exchange a smile. “It’ll be a great movie to show to your kids one day,” she adds automatically, then bites her lip.

Something shifts in his expression, almost imperceptibly. Curiosity has her shift closer and reach for his thigh, tracing circles on the bluish-purple, well-worn denim.  Her breath catches before she speaks, her heart racing.   “Do you want to have children some day, Tom?”

He stares into the distance before seeking out her eyes, his shoulders lifting in a shrug. “I think so, yes. I’m not so sure of when.” One finger lifts to his lips, rubbing pensively. “I know I’m not getting any younger, but for now, settling down and playing house isn’t how I envision my life.  Even if I found the right partner, I feel like there’s more I want to do first.”

The pounding in her chest echoes in her ears and she feels like it fills the room, wondering if he thinks he’s found the right one in her.

His hand captures hers against his leg, stilling it. With his thumb, he’s the one now tracing circles on her wrist. “But if I do get married and become a father one day, I’d probably love to have first a girl and then a boy because I know how wonderful it is to have a sister.”

Thalia allows her mind to wander for a moment, picturing a slightly elder version of Tom with glasses, a bit of grey at his temples and in his ginger scruff. She imagines him strolling to the park somewhere in London, holding the hand of a merrily skipping little girl with pigtails while a smaller boy is riding on his shoulders.

What does it say about her that her mind draws a blank on the woman who should be walking alongside him, holding his other hand?

Before she can dwell on the fantasy, Tom gives her hand a squeeze. “And you, dear Thalia?  Are children in your future?”

She chews on her lip, momentarily thrown by the question because being with Chris has made her oddly aware that having her own family isn’t so much in her distant future anymore but a real possibility if she chooses to take that path.

“I think I’ll go with your answer,” she says slowly. “Not now. I’m not ready for settling down yet, and it’s kind of scary to think of dedicating myself solely to a little person I’m responsible for when I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am.”  She sighs, searching his blue eyes, so intently focused on hers.  “Does it sound selfish to say I feel like I need to finish making myself before I make someone else?”

Tom shakes his head, squeezing more firmly. “Not at all… I don’t think anyone could ever accuse you of being selfish.”  He watches her thoughtfully.  “But when you do have them one day? What shall it be? A little girl with your riotous curls and your sass? Or a small, intelligent boy who loves burying himself in books?”

They exchange a look and a grin before blurting out at the same time, “Both. Both is good.”

Once their chuckles have subsided, Tom sits up and stretches with a drawn-out sigh, his plaid shirt rising to show a glimpse of his pale, nicely defined abs and sparse happy trail.

Somehow managing to look graceful while unfolding his long limbs and getting to his feet, he bends to pick up the tray with the half-eaten snacks and soda cans.

“Would you like anything else now, darling? Tea maybe? Your mashed potatoes?”

She shakes her head. “What I want right now is another movie, and some cuddles.”

He smiles, his eyes crinkling. “Your wish is my command. Give me a minute.”  Moving to the kitchen, he pauses.  “Is that a yoga mat in the corner?  I didn’t know you practiced yoga.”

His turn of phrase pierces a bit; just another example of how little they really know about one another.  She’s sure in passing on work days she’s mentioned going to the gym, possibly even yoga class.  It just proves how when Tom is in work mode, the real world often slips away.  Blushing a bit, she admits, “Yea, I was a little sore and achy this morning.  Some stretching helped, but then I was too zapped to put the mat away.” She shrugs.  “Perk of living alone; at least it’s my mess.”

He chuckles.  “Funny how we get set in our ways, then we begin to wonder if we could give up our freedoms to live with anyone else.”

She thinks on his words, but by the time he’s returned, she’s half asleep. Even more reluctant to lose her time with him, she stirs when the couch shifts from his weight. True to his word, he arranges himself for some cuddling. Sitting sideways on the sofa, his long legs hanging a little over the other end, he places a cushion on his lap and urges her to half-lie on him. It takes them some wiggling again, but then it feels so comfy she never wants to get up.

Between his steady heart-beat close to her ear and his soothing caresses all over her arms and back, she ends up missing half of the movie because she dozes off in between. Tom is quiet the whole time, only whispering an endearment here and there, holding her close without caging her in.

But then her stomach rumbles, and Tom grows alert from one moment to the next. He sits up straight, gently shifting her too. “Does my Warrior Princess need some magical health-restoring sustenance?”

She grins and nods, rubbing her sleepy eyes. “I’d kill for a steak right now, but I guess I should settle for those mashed potatoes.”

A mischievous glint enters Tom’s eyes. “Your stomach seems well enough, don’t you think? Can you handle some proper food?”

Thalia nods, wondering where this is headed to.  “What time is it?”

“It’s barely half past eight.”  Tom basically jumps off the sofa, not forgetting to resettle her tenderly. “I’ve got just the right thing in mind. Stay right here and let me treat you to one of the few things I’m truly good at.”

And off he is, with a bounce to his step, making Thalia wonder what on earth he’s talking about. What he’s good at? Shakespeare and stuff?  Amazing sex?  What’s that got to do with being hungry?

In a state of bliss and relaxation, Thalia tries not to think anything at all and simply wait.  She jumps when the phrase “bite that tattoo on your shoulder” rings from her phone.  She thought it was on mute, and rushes to cover the speaker with her hand.  Looking over her shoulder, Tom is focused on cooking, and not paying attention.  So like him actually, to be lost in his thoughts.  She sighs and shakes her head, still feeling a little off.  And guilty.  Terribly guilty.

Opening the screen to the picture Chris sent of him and Avery playing Legos at his kitchen table draws a smile to her face.  Their adoration for one another is touching.  However, her discussion with Tom reminded her of what she wants, but that doesn’t mean she has to make any decisions right away. Chris is still holding Avery at arm’s length from her.  He’s not pushing her into a mother role, and she can live with that.  He doesn’t seem to want an instant family, and Tom seems nowhere near ready to settle down.  Sending a quick reply, she snuggles down into the couch and laughs at the deleted scenes on the DVD.  Tantalizing smells waft from the kitchen after a while, making her practically salivate although she hasn’t had an appetite all day.

Looking over the back of the couch, she hides her laughter at the pile of bowls and broken eggshells on the counter.  She never would have guessed Tom was a messy cook.

“Hurry up, I’m starving now,” she whines.

“Patience my darling; good things come to those who wait.”

“I know, I know.  Delayed gratification,” she giggles.

What feels half an eternity later, Tom walks over the imaginary divide into the living space, his tray even more laden than before.

Her jaw hits the ground when she sees plates heaped full with mashed potatoes, fried eggs sunny side up and cut into pieces, sausages in bite-sized cubes, toast, two glasses of juice, grilled tomatoes, and bacon strips.

“What the… Thomas William Hiddleston, is that what I think it is?” She looks wide-eyed from the tray to his face with its smug grin and back.

“If you think what I think you think,” he jokes, “then you’re right.”

Thalia shakes her head, curls bouncing. “That’s a full English breakfast, right?”

He nods enthusiastically. “One hundred points, A+, Ms. Bareo. It sure is.”

“But, but…” she splutters. “Just in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s eight in the evening, Tom, not in the morning.”

He shrugs, barely managing to keep the tray balanced. Walking over, he sets it down and kneels in front of her, making a big ceremony of shaking out a cloth napkin he’s somehow found in her tiny, under-stocked kitchen. He drapes it over her knees, the funniest, kind of proud and precious grin still lighting up his features.

“If I may say so myself, I’m really gifted when it comes to putting a full English breakfast all hot on the plate at the same time.” Thalia muffles her incredulous laughter behind a hand as he goes on. “The tricky thing is the timing, you know. The toast should be hot enough for the butter to melt.” He points to the plate, his grin widening even more. “The bacon should be sizzling, the sausages and the eggs fresh.” He tilts his head, giving her one of those boyish, infuriatingly adorable expressions. “It isn’t an easy thing, but I do love a good challenge.”

“Dork.” She playfully hits his chest, and he captures her hand and peppers it with tiny kisses.

“But a dork who can cook. Want to see for yourself?”

He takes his place next to her again, and they tuck in, banter going back and forth between appreciative moans at the food.

Damn it all to hell, the man really can cook. Thalia represses the voice at the back of her mind that says it would be lovely to have him prepare breakfast for her on a regular basis.  She tries to stop the back and forth pendulum in her brain between Chris and Tom, instead focusing on the delicious food and wallowing in his attention.

After the late dinner, Tom drowns out all protests and does the dishes by himself while they have a shouted conversation over the running water, because he insisted she stay cuddled on the couch.  She could get used to letting him care for her in this way.  He  tells her more about English breakfast traditions she remembers vaguely from her time in Stratford-upon-Avon.

They put on another movie, this time a chick flick because she wants to wind down, but Thalia falls asleep midway. The next thing she notices is that she’s being carried. Groggily, she opens her eyes and squints at Tom’s face in the dim light.

“What…what’re you doin’?”

“Sh, darling, don’t fret. I’m just taking you to bed. You need a good night’s rest and then you’ll be back to your usual sassy self again in the morning.”

Shushing her half-hearted protests, he sets her gently down on the bed and tucks her in. He reaches out and brushes her hair from her face, checking her forehead for a fever again with gut-wrenching concern.  “I tucked you in here once before when you weren’t feeling so well.”

Thalia grabs his hand before he can withdraw it, leaning her cheek into his touch.

“You did.  I remember it well.  It seems like a lifetime ago.  Who would’ve ever thought we’d be here now, like this?”

“It was only my wildest dream, and I still can’t believe it came true, darling,” he whispers, placing a kiss to the back of her hand.

“I’m sorry, Tom. I wish the night didn’t have to end like this,” she says, fighting the drowsiness because it’s important to her to get these words out. “I can’t even give you a proper good night kiss, and I…and you…ugh.”

“Hey, hey, hey, don’t worry.” Tom leans in and brushes his lips over her forehead, wrinkled in distress. “I may turn into a starving sex maniac around you at times, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t keep it in my pants and just enjoy some time with you.” He smooths the blanket over her with a little smile.

“Sleep, my Warrior Princess. I’ll be on the couch. If you need anything, just call out.”

She wants to say more, her heart in her throat, but Tom places a finger over her lips and shakes his head. He waits until she closes her eyes, his hand brushing over her arm rhythmically—and before she knows it, she’s asleep.

Click here to read Chapter 31 Cabin Fever

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