Closing Time

et ch 14 closing time april 19 2017

Educating Thalia

Chapter 14

Collaboration by  @avenger-nerd-mom & @devikafernando

AU FICTION

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

Word count: 3400

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, fluff, drinking, discussion of homelessness, thoughts of sexual situations

Summary:  Professor Evans seeks solace in a bottle and finds himself in the bar where grad-student Thalia Bareo is finishing her night shift….

Click here to the introduction of Educating Thalia

“Ah, shit,” she mumbles, wiping the counter down. Her grumble catches his attention and he looks up, a smile of recognition dawning across his face. A brief image of the lovely woman before him in a short Tartan plaid skirt quickly romps through his memory.  With a slight nod, he runs his fingers across the top of his glass indicating another, and she motions to the other man behind the bar that she’s got this.

“What’s your poison, professor?” The plump latina asks, her accent thick and sultry.

He indicates the tap and looks on as her hand subtly strokes the metal handle before she pulls it down, watching the foamy brew flow into the chilled glass, stopping just before it spills over.

She sets it down with a clink in front of him. “I work all the way out here so I don’t have to put up with the college crowd; what’s your excuse for being at this dive?”

He ponders his response, taking a long sip of the dark hops as it cools down his throat. Even in the dark bar he can see her eyes darken for a moment while she watches the muscles in his neck as he gulps the beverage down. He continues drinking, his eyes on her as a blush rises on her cheeks and her nipples begin to strain against her shirt. She turns away from him, grabbing a bowl of mixed nuts to place in front of him, the heat diminished in her eyes.

He runs his thumb across his bottom lip, gathering the wasted drops off beer and flicks his tongue across the pad of his finger before replying. “I needed to get away from the college crowd too,” he tells her honestly.  “Sometimes it’s just too much bullshit, ya know?”

She wipes her hands on her apron, “Man, I hear that.  So what is it this time? Johanas and Smythes fighting over offices again, or the library collection refuses to update the check out system for references?”  she teases.

He chuckles and takes a handful of nuts, palming them and pushing them into his mouth.  “All of the above, and shitty freshmen that can’t write a goddamn sentence to save their lives.”

She laughs and rolls her eyes.  “I hear that too. Working as a TA in the language department; I can’t believe what they let in these ivy league doors these days, it’s a disgrace.”  Winking, her long lashes close and rest against her freckled cheek while she shares her tease with him.  “Kids wasting Daddy’s money, while I gotta work my ass off to get anywhere.”

She turns in a fluid movement to grab a bottle filled with an incandescent blue liquid, and his mind freezes on her use of the word ‘daddy’ and ‘ass’ in the same sentence.  From where he sits high on the bar stool, he can admire her rounded backside, in tight jeans with silver stitching on the pockets.  Reaching up to grab a bottle on a higher shelf, her shirt rises just enough to see a hint of her beautifully tanned skin.  Turning back to the main bar, she blushes lightly and self-consciously pulls her shirt back down.  He’s fascinated by watching her work as she mixes up a drink and shoots it smoothly down the wooden countertop and the other bartender catches it.  

“Thalia, right?”  Chris asks.  He knows she works for Hiddleston, but he vaguely remembers her from one of his study groups a year or two ago.  How could he forget such a beautiful name for such an alluring woman?  “You were in one of my classes, right?”

She nods.  “Your Women’s History class?  I gave my speech on roles of women in the World War II era while dressed in a USO showgirl outfit?”

Hell yeah.  She’d given the speech from memory, save for one notecard she pulled out of her cleavage halfway through the presentation.  He’d had such a hard-on the rest of the hour, he had to give her an A just because he couldn’t focus on a damn word she’d said.

“Do you commonly give costumed speeches?”  He asks, seeing her differently in the dark bar than he has before as she walks across campus, arms full of books.

Accepting a tip from a leaving customer she smiles brightly.  “Nah, I was young and foolish then, and besides, I’d worked really hard to make that outfit for a costume party.  I thought I might as well get more good out of it,” she laughs.

He smiles.  “Not so foolish now?”

“Grad student.  Bills to pay.  No time for fun.  Between school and workin-”

“Hey!” A voice at the end of the bar barks, “I don’t pay ya to flirt, I pay ya to mix drinks and clean tables.  Get to it!”

She drops her eyes.  “Sorry. Um, I wasn’t really… “  Shaking her head, she clears her throat.  “It was nice talking to you Professor Evans; I owe, I owe, it’s back to work I go.”  Humming quietly, she walks away, stopping at the end of the counter to pick up a big gray bucket to use to clean the tables.

He downs two more drinks during her absence, playing on his phone and returning emails.  Rolling his shoulders, he stretches his neck from side to side, watching her reflection in the aged mirror in front of him, rather than turning to admire her full figure.   Her dark curly hair cascades down her back, skimming just the top of the waist of her jeans.  Her tight v-neck tshirt supports a logo for the school team and hugs her tits just right.  From the fit, he can tell her bra is just a little too tight, and with each step she has an extra jiggle that makes him hard now.  He begins to fantasize about groping her voluptuous breasts from behind as he pounds against her ass.  Maybe she would even call him ‘daddy.’  

He shakes his head to clear the image.  Removing his glasses, he places them on the counter, rubbing his stubble gruffly.  Fuck.  She’s a student.  Even a damn good lay wouldn’t be worth risking his job.  And she would be good…  He can just sense it about her and that makes his cock twitch in his pants, and at the moment, he rather wishes he hadn’t gone commando after his shower at the gym.

He catches the eye of the other bartender and as if the guy could read his thoughts, Chris drops his head and hides his face in the crook of his elbow, staring into the amber liquid in his glass.

She chats with the other patrons and is obviously friendly with a few of the regulars.  When one guy tries to get a little handsy with her, she’s already twisted the man’s arm behind his back before he can jump to her rescue.  She gives the man a push and sends him on his way.  Chris watches as he scurries out the door.

Returning to her position at the bar, her face brightens when she realizes he’s still there.  “It’s late; don’t you need to be getting home?” she asks kindly, adding payments to the cash register and making a few notes.

“To be honest, I had a shit day and don’t wanna be alone,” he scoffs, slightly drunk and words slurred..  “When do you get off… work?” he adds with a wry smile, swishing around what’s left in the bottom of his glass.  “Sit with me and have some coffee while I dry out before I drive home?”

He sees her discreetly looking to his hands, possibly admiring their thickness or looking for signs of attachment, so he stretches his fingers to show there’s no wedding ring.   She leans into the counter, and pulls the glass from his hands, sitting it on the lower counter in front of her.  She rests her elbows on the bar in such a way to push her boobs together to showcase their beauty and whispers, “I got a better plan.  My apartment is just across the street.”  She twists her head to look at the neon clock on the wall behind her, exposing her graceful neck to him, to look at the time. “How ‘bout some early morning pancakes and some hot coffee before I have to hit the books.  Some of us actually prepare before we attend our classes,” she teases.

Chris can’t believe his luck.  It’s like an open invitation, but he sees a vulnerability in her too.  Her offer is gracious and full of concern over his slightly drunken state.  “That’s really nice, but we don’t have to,” he tries to deny his wish to say yes.  “The diner on the corner is open.”

She scoffs and rolls her eyes, “And it’s shit.  Besides, I really hate going anywhere after work and smelling like an ashtray.  I was gonna fix coffee anyway, so it’s no big deal.”  The beauty shrugs her shoulders, indicating it really is no trouble.

How can he resist?  “Sounds good.”  He pulls his wallet out of his back pocket and counts out a few bills to cover his tab.  She takes the money and raises her eyebrow at the tip.  Handing it back to him, he puts his hands up to stop her.

“Ok, fine,” she huffs.  He watches her move over to the end of the bar to open the register and address the other bartender.  “It’s slowing down and the tables are clear.  I’m outta here.”  Counting out her tips for the night, she doesn’t see the scowl on the older man’s face, but Chris catches it as the man turns to glare at him.

He strains to listen to their exchange over the din of the bar.  He can’t hear most of it, so he puts his glasses back on; he’s perfected the art of lip reading over the years.  Something to do on a slow day during boring staff meetings.  He catches the man’s concern for his female counterpart. “What? You’re leaving here with pretty boy?  Thalia, what are you doing?”

‘Pretty boy?’  Chris observes her looking around the bar, sweeping her arms wide.  Her voice is higher pitched and easier to hear.  “You’d rather I leave with one of the other patrons?  At least if pretty boy has tats, they’re spelled right.  But, Jim, don’t worry, my heart still belongs to you.”   She pats his big belly and rises on her toes to kiss his cheek.  Chris smiles at the scene.

Untying the apron, she tosses it under the bar.  He swears her voice is a bit louder, for his benefit as she continues. “Don’t worry about me.  You’ve seen me kick ass around here, you know if he tries something and I’m not interested, I can totally handle myself.”

Their voices drop but Chris continues to read their lips.  “You’re interested,” Jim nods towards him.

Thalia turns her brilliant smile to him and he watches her puff out her chest slightly and pull her shoulders back.   He returns the look and stands up from his seat, pulling his coat from the empty stool next to him.

She shakes her hair out, a thoughtful expression on her face.  “Maybe; I don’t know,” she says to the other bartender.  She grabs her coat from the hook and walks around the bar, titling her head to the exit and Chris follows her out, his hand on her lower back.

Outside in the cold, she pulls her collar up to protect her ears and loops her arm in his before stuffing her hands in her pockets.  “It’s just across the street; that doorway,” she gestures with her head as she leads him across the street.  Fumbling with her keys in the cold, she asks him to step around behind her for a minute.  “Hang on just a second; can you hold it open?”

“Sure?” he asks as she steps around the corner of the building and yells something down the alley and he hears a scuffle.  He’s surprised when she returns to see another woman with her.  “Tina, this is my friend, Chris.  He’ll be here tonight too, okay?”

Tina steps inside the warm entrance and mumbles something.  Thalia pulls a wrapped sandwich and apple from her pocket and hands it to the woman.  “Sleep well, Tina,” she says as the woman shuffles down the hall and disappears under the stairway.  

Thalia nods her head up the stairs and starts climbing.  Chris steps up beside her and quietly asks, “What was that about?”

Thalia grins and presses her lips closed tightly for a moment.  “She has no place to stay.  She’s harmless so a few of us let her in the building on cold nights and she sleeps under the stairs.”  Stopping at the third landing, she halts in front of the door on the right and unlocks it.  “I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve offered her my couch.”  She shakes her head, her hair falling around her shoulders.  “But she always says no.  About once a week I am able to convince her to come up for a shower and we have hot tea.”

Chris is blown away by her generosity.  “You have a habit of taking in strays?  Me?  Tina?  What do you two talk about?”

The door open, she motions for him to enter and reaches around and flicks the light switch.  He’s struck by the chill in the air, but the light casts a warm glow around the small space.  She places the keys on a side table and rubs her hands together for warmth.  “Wanna sit at the table? You might wanna keep your coat on.  It’ll take a while for the place to warm up.”  She moves to the radiator and clangs on it a few times with a metal wrench and Chris immediately remembers his days as a poor grad student too.  He bites back his laughter at the expression on her face, when she bangs it again and curses in Spanish before it rattles to life.

Crossing to the kitchen, she lays her gloves on the counter, and fills a kettle with water before adding it to the machine and settling it in its spot.  “She tells me about her life before she lost it all; her husband and son were killed in a car accident, and she just gave up after that.”    She reaches to her left and pulls out a coffee filter and grounds, measuring and adding it as well.  She pushes the orange button and the coffee maker makes a quiet hiss as it begins to do its job.

He watches as she moves about the kitchen and instantly feels at home in her space.  Funny.  That’s a feeling he hasn’t had in months.  He looks around as she talks a little more about Tina and straightens the counters, maybe a little embarrassed a guest is seeing it in a messed up state.  She halts when she realizes he’s watching and giggles.  “Sorry.  Habit.  I’m not used to having guests, and it’s a mess.”  She hands him a tin of cookies from above the stove and places two mugs on the table.  “So, listen.  Can you finish up the coffee?  If I have to smell like that bar for five more minutes, I might scream.”  She pulls a strand of hair to her nose and inhales.  She drops it in disgust and makes a stink face.  “It’s just awful; in my hair, on my clothes; on my skin.  I hate it.  And my hands?  I think they always smell like beer.”

She’s standing just close enough that he reaches to grab one of her hands and brings it to his face, brushing his nose against her palm.  Breathing deeply, the smell is strong, but she’s just left work.  “Occupational hazard?” he teases as he gently caresses the back of her hand with his thumb, enjoying the soft feel of her skin, afraid to lift his eyes to hers.

Clearing her throat, Thalia pulls her hand away slowly but the catch in her breath is audible and seems to echo in the silence between them.  Quietly she tells him, “If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to shower.  I won’t be long.  Make yourself at home.”

She rushes from the room quickly and enters through a closed door.  A few moments later, she comes out and rounds the corner and passes into another room with an armload of clothes. He hears the turn of the lock.  As he makes his coffee, he tries not to imagine her naked and wet in the shower, but the thought jumps into his mind anyway. Adding sugar, he visualizes the rivulets of water running across her hills and valleys as she soaps away a long night at work. If he were there with her, he’d follow the wetness all over her curves, with his fingers and his tongue. He’d… Shit, he probably shouldn’t be thinking this.

Chuckling at the sound of her humming, he tries to identify the song he’s heard on the radio as he reaches to the fridge for creamer.  On the door, he sees a recent application for paperwork to travel overseas and sees her birthdate, during the week of finals  She just turned twenty-five.  Pushing his glasses up, he rubs his forehead.  Twenty-five.  Fuck.  Is that too young?  She’s a grad student.  He shrugs his shoulders.  Not a student in his department.  What’s the harm there?

Sipping his coffee, he walks around the tiny space.  On the bookshelf are photos of friends and family…  A notice from a funeral she attended a few months back.  Books are piled everywhere.  Lots of little trinkets from tourist destinations across Europe.

The radiator is slowly warming the room, with a slight chill still hanging in the air.  He removes his coat and hangs it over the back of the chair before sitting on the couch and pulling the soft blue blanket around him.  The furniture is nice and newer, not typical college student decor.  He sinks back against the sueded fabric and settles in as the water shuts off.  Again, trying to shut out any thoughts of her naked behind the closed door, he pulls out his phone and checks for any updated messages.  Seeing none, he scowls at the screen, jumping a bit when the door creaks open.  

“Hey,” she says quietly as a waft of orchids from her bath soaps float from the room.  Her long curly hair is wrapped in a towel perched precariously on her head.

Damn, that’s really sexy, he thinks.  How do girls do that?  He smiles at her, in a pink polka dotted robe, tied loosely over a tank top and plaid pajama shorts.  When she walks to the kitchen, the robe splits open and he catches sight of the way her thighs sensually rub against one another as she moves. “Hey,” he responds.  “I didn’t know how you take your coffee so I just uh, didn’t fix it.”

She giggles.  “Strong and bold, with a little sugar.  Like my men,” she laughs and the sound is so joyous, he joins in the mirth.  Moving elegantly she seems comfortable in her skin.  Chris likes that about her right away.  She doesn’t seem phased by his presence or uncomfortable to be in her pjs in front of someone she barely knows.  As she fixes her coffee, he asks her a few more questions about Tina, her work at the bar and the memorabilia from her obvious travels.

“Ya know, Thalia, I always got the impression you didn’t like me,” he boldly states.

She settles at the end of the couch and tugs the robe around her middle.  He can see her carefully considering her words.  “You’re the type of man girls like me are taught to stay away from.”

A slow grin crosses his face, “Oh really?  And what type is that?”

“Handsome and self-assured?  But, I don’t know?  Tonight you seemed-  a little broken.  Like you needed someone just to be nice to you.  I can do that.  I can be nice.”

He wonders how nice she could be; how nice it would be to run his fingers through her hair; how nice to slide between her legs; how nice-

He clears his throat and takes another sip of his coffee.

Click here to Chapter 15 Stay

Story updates are posted on Wednesdays and Sundays.

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

 


Alone

ET ch 13 Alone April 16 2017

Chapter 13

Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @devikafernando & @avenger-nerd-mom

AU FICTION

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

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, fluff, angst, thoughts of sexual situations

Summary: Thalia reflects on her life in general and on her relationship with Tom.

Word Count 1528

Click here to read the introduction to Educating Thalia

With a sigh, Thalia dumps her bag and keys, plopping down on the couch to pull of her boots.  To ward off the cold as she waits for the radiator to warm up, she stays wrapped in her scarf and coat, feeling oddly listless.

The best thing now would be to just fall into bed- and forget the fight with Tom she just had. But she’s much too annoyed to fall asleep right now. She’s glad to know her class in the morning is cancelled, and she can laze about a few extra hours. Finally warm enough, she peels off her outer layer of clothes and reaches for the slippers under the coffee table.

With another sigh, she pads into the kitchen and grabs the ingredients for a nice, ego-boosting, nerve-soothing cup of hot chocolate. Although a shot of whiskey doesn’t sound bad either.  She looks briefly to the window, and thinks about crossing the street to the bar where she works, but she’d probably get sucked into helping close for the night.  Chica, you are too tired for that shit.  Three nights in a row is enough and she looks forward to being off from the bar for a few days. Instead of booze as a soother, while the water boils, she rummages for home-made cookies she always keeps in an emergency stash in a tin above the stove.

Tom.  She can’t kick him from her mind…  It’s barely been two weeks since she’s returned from her Christmas break, but things have changed somehow.  She’s confused by how there can be a closeness and a distance at the same time…  It’s like he wants to pull her close, then gets scared of his own feelings, and pushes her away.  It’s become dizzying.

Although she’ll forever remember and treasure the amazing time she spent with Tom during his surprise visit, their days apart during the holidays made her see one thing clearer: She shouldn’t tie herself to him too much.

They’re becoming too dependent on each other; she’ll be looking for work abroad, and this isn’t the permanent home for either of them.  Their time at the college as professor and student is just a stop along the way to the rest their lives…

Yes, he’s all she can think about sometimes, and he’s awakened a hunger for more inside that scares the shit out of her – but does that mean he should wield such control over all of her life?

She’s a little tired of re-adjusting her schedule and missing out on other things because she’s at his beck and call. Whenever he is free, she ditches anything that isn’t work or school to spend a few forbidden hours with him.

Thalia munches grumpily on two cookies, the usually mouth-watering taste of her step-mother’s family recipe barely registering on her taste buds.

God, she loves spending time with Tom. And that’s part of the problem. She’s grown so attached to him, so dependent on him and how he makes her feel valued and appreciated…

What the hell happened to being her own girl?

It doesn’t help that Tom has steadily been growing more attached too. He cares for her, she feels it in her bones, even though he hasn’t put it into words.  It’s a blessing and a curse rolled into one, and sometimes he’s like a petulant child if he doesn’t get his way.

While going through the motions of making her hot chocolate,Thalia recounts a fight they had about a week ago.  She was in a bad mood before meeting him, weighed down by the challenges of the new semester and drained by all those extra hours at the bar now that one of the other bartenders quit. When she snapped at Tom for a teasing comment, he gave her an impromptu spanking in his office.  What started as playful fun, with her admitting she was being a bad girl ended up with him taking her from behind and leaving a rather prominent love bite on her neck. Afterwards, he cuddled her close and asked her what was wrong…and somehow off they were on their first ever real fight- over something completely ridiculous.

Tom was none too happy with her decision to work late hours. When she reminded him icily that she didn’t have the privilege of money, he offered to help her out.

Shaking her head at the memory, Thalia takes a sip of the hot, bittersweet liquid and waits for its effect to kick in.

She knows he mentioned helping her financially because he wants to have more time with her and because he genuinely cares for her, but to her that was a big no- a red flag. With a scowl, she remembers stomping around his office and gathering her clothes while hissing at him that he sure as hell wasn’t her sugar daddy and she was the last person who wanted his money.

He flinched and looked so wounded that she wanted to take the words back. But though they were harsh, they were the truth. No way would she let him help. It was bad enough that he paid for all those hotels and meals and little treats off and on. She didn’t want to turn into a kept woman, dammit, like some medieval mistress.  And she told him so before storming out of his office.

Slowly, trying her best to savor the flavor, Thalia sips the rest of her beverage.

In the days that followed, he did not bring up the topic again and he was careful to create opportunities for them to spend time together that didn’t involve large expenses.  She smiles at the memory of him ‘accidentally’ finding her studying in the Commons and the ice cream he shared with her.  And the whispered naughty things he would do to her if they were alone…

But the truce was short lived. They fought again tonight at dinner.  She hadn’t been able to see Tom for three days due to work and classes and today she nearly fell asleep while waiting for dinner.  His deep, crisp voice lulling her in safety and she wanted nothing more to fall into his arms and sleep for days. When she asked him for a raincheck on the date, things only got worse. Before she could even suggest he go with her to her place for the night, he switched from disappointment to cool anger. He accused her of being needlessly stubborn.

“I told you that you should let me help. Why are you so intent on making things complicated?” he asked, blue eyes flashing, a muscle ticking in his clenched jaw.

Something snapped inside her then, exhaustion taking its toll on her. “I’m being stubborn?!  Ya know, Tom, I don’t have strength for this bullshit right now.  How about learning how to deal with a little rejection instead of making matters worse?” she threw at him and left, ignoring his pleading voice calling her name as she paraded down the snowy sidewalk to her car.

As tired as her body is from being overworked, it also burns with a constant longing for Tom’s affection and attention.

And God, he could be attentive to the point of killing her, in the best ways possible.

Her cheeks heat, and it has nothing to do with the chocolate. She writhes with the sizzling memory of him pleasuring her with his mouth and a tiny but powerful vibrator last week. He didn’t let up until she thought she’d burst out of her skin, coaxing so many orgasms out of her that she was a boneless mess in his arms by the time he rubbed himself between her full breasts and came all over them.

Thalia tightens the grip on her cup, arousal slipping through the annoyance and making her press her thighs together.

Almost defiantly, she downs the rest of the liquid and rinses the cup in the sink.

Dammit, she doesn’t want him to have such a hold on her, and he simply doesn’t understand what’s so bad about, how did he phrase it, ‘helping the woman who means so much to me until she’s pulled through.’

Her phone dings, announcing a message. Knowing instinctively that it must be Tom, she keeps herself from looking at it. Instead, she walks into the bathroom and indulges in a hot shower, trying to wash off all her conflicting emotions.

When she’s finally in bed twenty minutes later, she picks up her phone and checks.

She can’t help the eye roll and reluctant smile when she reads the Shakespeare quote. It’s just so Tom.

‘A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.’ I’m sorry for being such an insufferable fool this evening, darling. Forgive me? I just want what’s best for you…for this beautiful thing we share.

The umpteenth sigh for today wrenches itself lose.

Forgiven, she types, I’m off work tomorrow.  Let me buy dinner and we can talk things over?  Not even waiting for a reply, knowing he’ll say yes, she lies back and tries to catch the sleep she so desperately needs.

Click here for the next chapter, Closing Time

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

Just a Girl

et ch 6 just a girl mar 26 2017

Educating Thalia, Chapter 6

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom and @devikafernando

AU FICTION

@devikafernando and @avenger-nerd-mom are presenting a collaboration together 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

Word count: 2883

Warnings: Language, Adult Situations, Fluff, Self doubt, thoughts of sexual situations

Summary:  Thalia finds herself with an interesting lunch companion

Click here to the intro to the novella, Educating Thalia

Thalia pauses outside the door to the faculty lounge shared by the History and Language Departments.  She can hear voices and laughter as the professors begin to clear away their lunches.  She hates to enter the room when it’s so full of other people.  Some of the faculty have a way of making her feel like she doesn’t belong, that she’s only a ‘lowly grad student;’ some don’t like that the reclusive, brooding Brit is actually pleasant with her;  while a few others have even expressed jealousy of her accolades for her studies. Grinning, she knows it’s those fuckers that just push her to work harder the next time…  Chuckling to herself, she leans against the wall across from the entry and looks at her watch.  Many should be leaving soon for their afternoon classes and appointments.  She’ll wait.

It’s been a long week.  Extra hours at the bar, extra hours in the library.  Stolen moments with Tom.

She feels her lips turn to a smile and she runs her manicured nails over the plump, slightly bruised flesh in memory of their most recent kisses, almost burned in her skin.  That man sets her soul on fire and awakens her in ways she never imagined. She’d often fantasized about the older professor, his lyrical voice always stirring low in her stomach, causing butterflies and thoughts of sex in ways to make her blush.  If anyone had told her some time ago that she would be with him or find being dominated so enjoyable, she would have thought they were out of the their ever-loving minds. But with Tom it just feels so damn right to let go and slip into a different skin, almost into something like a parallel universe.  She finds she’s different with him; a softer side she didn’t know she had hidden away.

Her reverie is broken by the loud voice of one of the men in the staff room sharing his tale of a recent sky-diving expedition; making it more dramatic than it probably was.  To hear him tell it, the chute nearly didn’t open and he was worried who would care for his dog as he fell to the Earth.  Peals of laughter from the group interrupted the story and she didn’t hear the remainder of his anecdote.  She looks through the door briefly and he winks at her, giving a broad welcoming smile as he goes back to his story telling.

As if by silent cue, the room begins to clear out and good-byes and well wishes for the afternoon and weekend are shared.  Many address Thalia on their way out, including Professor Joanna Kent, who requests that she stop by her office soon, as she has matters to discuss with the young woman of an “academic nature” she might find interesting.  The older woman pats her arm warmly and pleads, “Please, dear, do make a point to see me.  I hope you’ll be interested in my proposal.”

Thalia gives a polite response, already knowing she doesn’t have the time or energy for any more work-study hours to help Kent with whatever project she has in mind.

Entering the lounge, Thalia is surprised to find Professor Chris Evans still resting on the couch, tossing an orange up in the air and capturing it in his large hands with such nonchalance.  Damn, he looks like he should be featured in a magazine.  He really is beautiful, but she sat in his class for a semester.  Quite the asshole at times.  She’s not sure if the rumors of his escapades with female students on campus are true, but the stories are legendary, told in the dorm rooms late at night as easily as frightening scary tales about intruders hiding under beds.  She knows she’s heard his name whispered around the office hallways occasionally over the last few months and she wants nothing to do with his arrogant, cocky personality.

Standing at the counter, a weak smile crosses her face.  At least she doesn’t worry about Tom being a braggart to his friends.  Her handsome suitor tends to keep to himself, friendly with others but no one he seems really close with…  It makes it easier for them to find time to be together, since her determination to succeed often distances her from her peers as well.  She kinda likes it that way.  Her grin stretches wider as she flips the top on her soda can.

“That’s a pretty smile for this beautiful Fall day; what do you have planned for the weekend, Miss Bareo?”  Professor Evans asks.

Thalia can’t determine if he’s only trying to be kind and make small talk with her or if it’s something more.  His flirtations are not needed.  Or welcomed.  She has half a mind to put him in his place, but frankly, it’s not worth it.  Taking a deep breath, she decides to play nice and stamps down the fire his “pretty” comment invoked.  “Study and work.  Same plan as every weekend,” she grins politely.  Opening the staff fridge, she’s careful not to flash him from under her plaid skirt as she reaches in for her packed lunch, knowing damn well her panties are visibly wet.

Shit.  I don’t think I can sit, and it looks like he plans to stay… dammit.  Choosing one of the tables by the door with padded chairs, she carefully lowers into the seat, trying her best not to grimace.  How the hell am I gonna sit in a two hour lecture this afternoon.  Fuck, Tom got me good.  I just wanna go home and sit on a bag of ice.

The curly haired woman realizes the energetic professor is still talking, although she’s not even been paying attention, so she quickly tunes back into him, simply out of respect.  She instantly wishes she hadn’t.

“-plaid skirt?” He grins, momentarily eyeing her thick legs appreciatively.  “Let me guess, laundry day in the dorms?”

Thalia chooses to ignore him.  He cocks his eyebrow and continues, his voice a bit deeper than usual.  “A little late for a Halloween costume and not Puritanical enough for Thanksgiving….”  Oh. My. God.  He’s flirting with me.  No one flirts with me!  “Going home for the holidays?”

Drawing a deep breath she tries to wrap her mind around the idea that Professor Evans may actually be flirting with her.  She’s out of practice; the old drunks at the bar don’t count…

Looking to the soft scruff on his cheeks and the bright blue eyes behind his glasses a swell of heat rises in her stomach and she’s aware of the wetness between her legs.  Tom.  Tom did that.  Not talking to this man…  She blinks slowly to pull it together fast, shifting in her seat, crossing one leg over the other.  “I wish; I’d love to be able to afford to go home for Thanksgiving, but it’s just not possible.  I’ll be going home after finals for Christmas.”

Absently, he stretches his long legs out on the table before him, continuing to toss the fruit into the air.  He lazily watches her for a moment before asking, “Where’s home?”

“Chicago.  My family will be there, lots of cousins, aunts, uncles.  A college student’s nightmare,” she laughs.  Why am I making small talk with him?  Chica, just eat your lunch and get outta here.  But it’s too late to walk out without being rude and his relaxed mood is oddly comforting, so she keeps talking.  “But I could use the break.  Next semester I have a full course load and so much work to do, getting ready to apply for internships and jobs.  I guess I can’t be in school forever.”

He catches the orange with a firm grasp and rises.  “Well, Miss Bareo, you’re the talk of the campus, I’m sure-”

“What?  ‘Talk of the campus?’  What do you mean?”  Frozen with fear, she panics.  Does he know about her relationship with Tom?  Have people been talking about them?  Feeling cornered, she tugs on the end of her braid out of habit.

Professor Evans drops his trash in the can by the table.  “Just that article last month in the school magazine?  You’ve really made an impression on a lot of people around here.”  He looks at her quizzically for a moment.  “Are you alright?”

His blue eyes show a flash of concern and he reaches to rest his hand on her shoulder, but pulls his hand back at the last moment.

“Fine, I’m fine.” Taking in a deep breath, Thalia continues.  “The article.  Right. Forgot about that.  That just shows how busy I’ve been…”

“Sounds like you need to take time for yourself; nothing worse than a stressed out grad student.”  At the door, he taps the door frame with his fist.  “Don’t let Hiddleston work you over too hard.  Just ‘cause you’re his assistant doesn’t mean he owns you, or can boss you around.  Live a little; let him do some of the work…”  He actually fuckin’ winked at me!  “Have a good weekend, Miss Bareo.”

He leaves before she can reply.  Unwrapping the sandwich from her packed lunch, she drops it to the table, her hunger forgotten.  Folding her hands together, she prays silently his words didn’t hold a deeper meaning to them.  If anyone discovered the relationship between Tom and herself, she could kiss her scholarships, opportunities and any possible future career goodbye.  She’d be back home in Chicago, filling orders at her father’s auto mechanic shop.  The last place she would want to be…  The place she’s worked so hard to get away from.

And if she’s so worried about someone- anyone- finding out about her relationship with Tom, why the hell does she turn to watch Professor Evans walk away, his ass so fine in those jeans hung low on his hips, with that ridiculous red belt that never matches anything he wears?

Another grad assistant pops her head in the door, catching her gawking after him and she blushes.  “It’s a nice ass, and you’re all girl.  It’s okay to look, Thalia. Besides, he’s divorced and hot, and we’re grad students.”  Divorced.  Now she remembers why everyone had been talking about him recently.   “We get to have a little fun.  And if that means ogling the handsome professors, well…”

The young woman takes a granola bar from the basket on the counter and sits next to Thalia at the table.  Thalia chuckles and flips her braid back over her shoulder, finally relaxing now that Evans is gone.  The pretty blonde continues, “I mean, not everyone can be as handsome as my work partner, Professor Johanas, but you know…”  Both women giggle as the image of the portly man pops into their minds.  “Hey, don’t you have class with Smythes this afternoon?  It’s cancelled.  His wife’s in labor.”

Chewing the bite of her sandwich, Thalia uses the back of her hand to brush away a drop of mayonnaise from her lip.  “Really?  You mean I have the rest of the afternoon off?  Hell, I could go get a pedicure; take care of some other things…”

Leaning closer her friend says, “From the looks of the bruise on your neck, I’d venture to say your boyfriend might like that too.”

Her hand flies to her neck.  “What? No!”  The spot where Tom had briefly grasped her neck is tender.  Memories rush back to her and she squirms in her seat again.  Now who did the short skirt punish? Him or me?

“Yeah, babe, pretty fresh too.  Nice.”  The assistant gives Thalia a look of undisguised curiosity.

In response, Thalia simply blushes, the rose across her chest, feeling so momentarily  exposed. Closing her eyes, Thalia pictures in her mind her chat with Professor Evans.  Her braid would have been hanging over her shoulder, covering the bruise.  Oh thank God for small favors.  No sense risking his suspicions, especially since he saw me leave Tom’s office about thirty minutes ago.  We have to be more careful.

“I see…  maybe you’ll tell me later?”  Thalia nods, knowing it’s never gonna happen.  Pushing her chair back, her work friend stands up.  “Well, I’ve gotta get back to my post.  Relogging books in the library.  Will you be at the society meeting next week?”

Damn. Another obligation she’d forgotten about.  Making a quick note in her phone, Thalia lies.  “I’ll try to make it, girl, but I’m working more hours at the bar to pay to go home at Christmas… Hang on, I’ll walk down with you.”

#

Continuing to stare at the pile of clothes on the bed, she has no clue what to wear.  Tom hasn’t sent the address yet, so she has no idea if she should dress casual, dressy, or hell just show up in her long rain coat with nothing underneath.  He’d love that, actually.

“What the hell am I thinking?” she says to no one but herself as she taps her toenails to see if the paint is dry.  Walking out into the hallway, she passes through the next open door, into the bathroom.  “With my luck I’d get in a car crash or something, and then they’d call Dad and Stacey, and I’d have to explain why I was naked on my way to a date.”  Rolling her eyes at her reflection, she can’t help but smile.  She continues her monologue.  “You paid to have your makeup done, Thalia.  Is that any indication of how you feel about the guy?”

Opening the cabinet, she reaches in for her toothbrush, toothpaste and a few smaller items she might need.  She drops everything onto the counter and closes the mirror.  Her inner vocalizations stab at her.  “Ok. Fine.  He’s not a guy.  He’s a man.  All man.  A damn sexy British man who is about ten years too old for me and I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.”

Turning her head right and left, she admires the simple smoky eye the girl at the spa utilized and taught her how to recreate at home.  The conversation with herself forges ahead as she applies the blue paste to the brush.  “Yes, I’ve always been a good student, and I learn fast.”  She sighs, turning the water on and pointing the brush at the mirror.  “Chica, you freaked yourself out by renting that damn movie about the college student and the business tycoon.”  Pausing, she stops talking long enough to brush her teeth, rinsing and spitting.  Washing out the sink basin, she grumbles.  “What the hell?  What if Tom has a play room? Fuck, don’t answer that…”

She jumps when her phone buzzes, vibrating across the counter and bouncing into the little yellow case for birth control.  With hands trembling, she picks up the phone, recognizing the address of an expensive, classy hotel where she used to work in the next town over, away from the college.  Keeping things secret and secluded.

The way they need to be between a grad student and a professor…

Replying quickly, she sweeps all the materials into the bag on the floor, grabbing a smaller bag from under the sink with shampoo and lotions.  Thalia wonders if they are just eating at the restaurant or if Tom has other-

The phone buzzes again, listing a room number and the message, “I’m already here, darling.  No rush, but arrive with speed if possible.”

She chuckles.  He even texts British.  “What a goofball!”

With one last look in the mirror, she pulls a curl down from the elegant high pontyail she sat for at the spa and lets it hang loose against her cheek.  “Here we go, chica…”

Walking to the bedroom, her new silk robe falls to the floor, but she sweeps it back up quickly and throws it into the bag she plans to keep in the car.  In the bedroom mirror, she shakes her head at her reflection, running her fingers over the stretch marks on her belly and thighs.  “The man must be blind.  Those glasses aren’t just to show off his pretty face.”  She scoffs and reaches for one of the dresses laid out on the bed.  It’s not new, but it will have to do.  She spent too much on her hair, grooming, makeup and new lingerie.  Choking on the idea of extra shifts at the bar, she distracts herself with thoughts of tutoring or other ways to make easy cash before the holidays.  She shudders at the idea she might actually have to work for Professor Kent.

Surprised by the results, looking in the mirror, she admits to herself she looks pretty and feminine.  A far cry from the tomboy always digging in the dirt, she thinks, blinking away a random tear that appears. Looking to her feet, she laughs out loud.  Still had to keep part of me, she thinks.  She snaps a selfie, a habit she hates, sending it off to her stepmother and Dad, announcing she’s actually going out on a Friday night with friends.  She knows Stacey will have questions, but she’ll check in with her later.  Reaching for her small clutch on the dresser, she throws the bigger bag over her shoulder and turns out the lights, leaving her private little sanctuary, her stomach filled with butterflies as she rushes off to join Tom.

Click here to read Chapter 7, Pampered


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