Blog Archive - March 2016

THIRDS Thursday - 3/31/16

THIRDS Thursdays PromptThat last scene in Catch a Tiger by the Tail but from Sloane’s point of view…from the minute he wakes up to when Sparks leaves. 

Part 1

His head was pounding.

Sloane stirred with a groan. His body felt heavy, and his tongue thick. What the hell? Had he gotten drunk last night? That wasn’t like him. Why was it so hard to remember? He was having just as bad a time moving his limbs.

I love you.

Sloane smiled. That was the last thing he remembered. He’d squeezed Dex tight and told him he loved him. Then he fell asleep wrapped around the man who lit up his life, and his heart.

“Dex,” Sloane murmured, turning onto his back. He rubbed his eyes, and when he opened them it took a moment to focus. Man, what the hell was wrong with him? Nothing a little snuggle with his man couldn’t cure. He rolled toward Dex and his heart stopped. At least it felt as if it had.

The bed was empty.

Sloane bolted upright, immediately regretting the action. He shut his eyes tight for a few seconds, waiting for the wave of nausea to pass. The moment it did, he opened his eyes, a lump forming in his throat. Dex was probably just downstairs having another unsanctioned middle of the night snack. As soon as the thought crossed his mind, his heart dismissed it. That and the state of their bedroom confirming it wasn’t what he’d hoped. Their room had been ransacked.

“Dex?”

Turning, he found Dex’s cellphone on the nightstand. Sloane quickly scrambled out of bed. The closet door was open. Boxes, shoes, and clothes tossed out and all over. Dex’s colorful socks littered the floor. All the drawers in the room were open and empty. A host of emotions coursed through him. Panic, fear, anger….

Dex.

Please, God, let him be okay.

Shit. What if they were still in here? Sloane rushed around the side of the bed and found his gun case on the floor. He swiped it up. It was open, but everything seemed to be in its place. Someone had pressed his thumb to the small screen. It was the only way to open the case. He grabbed his gun, checked the magazine, and tossed the case on the bed before slowly moving toward the bathroom. Standing to one side, he pushed the door open. The bathroom was empty, and in the same state of disarray as the bedroom.

Hurrying out of the room, Sloane came to an abrupt stop at the bottom of the stairs. His blood turned to ice, and it became harder to breathe. The whole place had been turned upside down. The kitchen cabinets were bare, the cutlery on the floor, dishes and drinkware all over. Sloane carefully walked around shards of ceramic and glass. In the living room, the carpet was littered with stuffing from the cushions and throw pillows, and whatever space that didn’t occupy was taken up by books, CDs, DVDs, and knickknacks. No piece of furniture had been left untouched.

Sloane’s breath hitched, and he reeled back, stepping on something that cracked under his foot. He reached down and picked up the splintered CD case. Journey: Greatest Hits.

“Oh, God.” Sloane was numb. Tears welled in his eyes as the tsunami of emotions hit him. The sense of loss was overwhelming. His knees went weak, and he leaned against the toppled couch, sliding down until he sat on the floor. Someone had taken Dex. Sloane didn’t know who, or why, but he knew Dex was hurt, in pain. He could feel it down to his bones. His left arm burned, and his inner Felid roared.

This can’t be happening.

With the CD clutched to his chest, Sloane lay his gun on his lap. For the first time in his life, he didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t think straight. His Felid was trying to claw out, to hunt, find his mate. Sloane shut his eyes tight, wrestling with his Therian half. He needed to keep control. Dex needed him to be able to use his head, not just his instincts. But the harder he tried to get a grip on his Felid half, the fiercer the jaguar inside him fought.

“Stop!” Sloane screamed, his breath coming out ragged. His Felid was having none of it. Sloane could feel him pacing. He was clawing, and fighting to come out. Sloane gritted his teeth, his muscles straining. He wasn’t going to lose control. “No. I’m going to find him. You stand down. You hear me? Stand down!”

His Felid roared, the sound making its way past Sloane’s lips.

Pushing himself to his feet, Sloane stumbled over to the kitchen and snatched up the cordless phone. A groggy voice answered.

“Sloane?”

Sloane opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He tried again, his voice hoarse when he spoke. “I need you.”

“I’m on my way.”

Sloane hung up and let the phone drop. He leaned on the counter, the muzzle of his gun tapping against the counter’s surface. His hands were shaking so bad. His insides were cold. Was Dex cold wherever he was? Was he scared? Was he even alive? No, he had to be. Why else would he be taken? Sloane held onto that.

Inside him, his Felid side continued to claw and tear at him.

“Fuck you,” Sloane spat out. “He’s mine.”

His Felid had other ideas. Stubborn asshole. Sloane hissed, his vision growing sharp, and his fangs growing in. It took everything he had to keep himself from shifting. The bastard just wouldn’t back down.

“Listen, he needs me right now, okay? What the fuck are you going to do, huh? He’s not here. He’s….” Sloane shook his head, his lips pressed together. Damn it.

A knock on the door startled him, and he ran over, gun in hand.

“Sloane, it’s me.”

Sloane threw open the door, relief flooding through him at the sight of Ash standing there. His best friend dropped his gaze to the gun in Sloane’s hand.

“What happened?” Ash strode in, and Sloane quickly closed the door. He took a deep breath, and followed his best friend into the living room. “Holy fuck.” Ash turned back to Sloane, his eyes wide. “What the hell happened?”

Sloane didn’t know where to start. Mostly because he didn’t know anything. He must have looked just as bad as he felt, because Ash gingerly took Sloane’s gun from him.

“I’m just going to hold onto this for you, okay?” He slipped it into his jacket pocket before putting his hands on Sloane’s shoulders. “Come on, buddy. I need you to talk to me. What happened?” He looked around when something occurred to him. “Where’s Dex?”

Sloane’s voice was rough when he spoke. “He’s gone. They took him.”

“Who took him?”

“I don’t know…. I didn’t see them. I didn’t even hear them. I fell asleep with him in my arms, and then….” He rubbed his eyes, frowning when Ash removed his cellphone from his pocket. “Who are you calling?”

“Cael.”

Shit. “Don’t call him.” What the hell was he supposed to tell Cael?

Ash met his gaze. “I have to. Wouldn’t you want to know?”

Reluctantly, Sloane nodded. He paced the floor, trying to figure out his next move, but it was hard to think with his damned Therian half hissing and spitting.

“Sloane, you need to calm down.”

How the hell was he supposed to calm down? The more he thought about, the angrier he became. Someone had broken into their home and taken the man he loved. Who knew where the hell Dex was or what was happening to him? His mind kept going to dark places, and that only pissed off his Felid half even more.

“Sloane,” Ash warned. “You need to stay in control.”

“I’m trying!” Sloane started pacing again. He flexed his fingers, his muscles tensing, and his vision growing sharp. He could feel his canines trying to push through. If he didn’t do something, he was either going to mad, or feral. He wasn’t sure which was worse.


Catch Part 2 in next week's THIRDS Thursday 4/7/16!


Copyright © 2014 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.


Forgive and Forget Blog Tour kicks off!

ForgiveandForget_BlogTour

Hello all! The Forgive and Forget blog tour kicks off today! Follow the tour as I chat about writing category romance, share an exclusive excerpt, Joe's character profile, and more! Plus each stop gets an exclusive giveaway which means 5 chances for you to win a nifty prize!

TOUR SCHEDULE

March 28th - Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy March 29th - Love Bytes Book Reviews March 30th - Prism Book Alliance March 31st - Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance April 1st - The Novel Approach

ABOUT THE BOOK

perf4.250x7.000.inddGenre: Gay Contemporary Category Romance Length: Novel, 194 Pages Published: April 1st, 2016 Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Cover Artist: Paul Richmond Ebook ISBN-13: 9781634770170 Paperback ISBN-13: 9781634770163

As the owner of Apple’n Pies, Joe Applin leads a quiet, uneventful life, content to spend his days serving customers who come from all over to eat his delicious homemade pies. Along with his motley crew—Bea, Elsie, and Donnie—Joe couldn’t be happier in his little kingdom of baked goods and java.

Experience has taught Joe that love is overrated—and at times dangerous. He has no intention of repeating past mistakes. But then he meets a mysterious, handsome man with amnesia, and Joe can’t deny something sweet is in the works. He isn’t one to take risks, not with his heart and certainly not with his life, but the more time he spends with the man he knows as Tom, the closer he is to losing both.

ADD TO GOODREADS READ AN EXCERPT

PURCHASE LINKS

Dreamspinner Press eBook | Dreamspinner Press Paperback | Amazon | All Romance eBooksBarnes & Noble  

OUT APRIL 1st!


THIRDS Thursday - Hot Seat 3/24/16

THIRDS Thursday Hot Seat

Hello all! It’s been a while since we’ve had the team in the Hot Seat, so today we have Sloane, Ash, and Seb here to answer some of your questions! Remember if you’d like to leave a question for the cast, you can do so here. Let’s turn up the heat!

 

Charlie: Hi, fellas! Our first question is from Mary_HaveHeart, and it’s for all three. When you are in your felid form which is the first thought that occurs to you when you see your partner?

Sloane: Mine.

Ash: Aw. You’re so disgustingly adorable.

Sloane: Shut up. It’s an instinct. Even before we were in a relationship, my instinct was to protect him. He’s my partner. Of course now that need to protect is even fiercer. The moment I shift, I need to see him, to leave my scent on him. It's hard to describe the feeling I feel when I see him for the first time through my Felid eyes. Despite any looming danger, I feel happy because he's there.

Ash: Do you mind? I'd rather keep my lunch in my stomach for a while longer. Why do I always get stuck doing these things with the saps?

Sloane: Please, like you wouldn't be the same if it was Cael.

Ash: You'll never know, will you? Because the question said partner not boyfriend, so bite me.

Seb: Well, Dom is my partner on Theta Destructive, so usually my first thought when I see him is, "if you tranq me I will claw your ass into linguine". It was like my second week as Team Leader for Theta Destructive, and Dom tranqed me. He says he thought I was one of the perps, but we all know that’s bullshit. I think he was just trying to show me that he was ready to take me down if I pulled anything like what Stone did. Dom kept that team from falling apart after Stone's betrayal. We’re close now, but at the time, after I woke up, I was seriously ready to punch him in the face, but doing that wouldn't have helped. I needed to earn his trust. I knew once I did, eventually the others would too.

Ash: My first thought is, "Let's do this". There is a fierce sense to protect your partner when you’re in your Therian form, so it's the same for me. Letty's been my partner for years. She's damn good at what she does, and fucking ace, If someone thinks they're going to fuck with her on my watch, they better be prepared for me to kick their ass.

 

Charlie: This question is for Sloane from Veny. Any plans for a mini Dex or mini Sloane? Wonder what Tony would think of being called "gramps"?

Ash: I’m officially horrified by that question. I might even be a little sick. Yep, that’s definitely gross.

Seb: What’s the matter, Ash? You’d make a great uncle. Uncle Ash.

Ash: Screw you, man. No one asked for your opinion. Just the thought of a bunch of little ankle-biters like Dex—Nope. Don’t do it, Sloane. I swear on my fuzzy sacs if you bring another Daley into this world I will kick your ass.

Sloane: Um, can we not get into this? Dex and I only just moved in together. Let’s see how that goes before we start talking about, uh, that.

Seb: Personally, I can’t wait to see you two all lovey-dovey couple-like because it’s going to drive Ash batshit crazy.

Ash: Again, why are you talking? Also, I think if anyone called Maddock gramps, he’d be showing them some manners Maddock style.

Sloane: I think he’d be okay with grandpa or something similar. Not gramps, though.

Seb: Yeah, I think anyone who calls Maddock gramps is looking for a butt-kicking.

 

Charlie: Okay, Seb, this question is from Naoki. What good or bad habits have you unconsciously picked up from your partner?

Seb: I’m not sure if the question refers to work partner or not. From Dom, I’ve picked up plenty of both in the short time he’s been my partner. As far as good habits, Dom’s one of those guys who never backs down when he believes in something. He’s tenacious and persistent. It’s hard to be down about something around him. For bad habit, I’m actually going to go with something I picked up from Hudson, and that’s buying more tea and coffee than I can ever consume in one lifetime. He has this hoarding tendency when it comes to tea and coffee. Like he’s storing for the apocalypse or something. I find myself doing the same thing. I don’t even drink tea.

Ash: That’s it? Tea? Amateur. Sloane’s picked up a shitload of bad habits from his dorky boyfriend.

Sloane: Fuck off. No I haven’t.

Ash: Yes, you have.

Sloane: Like what?

Ash: You smile all the fucking time!

Sloane: How is that a bad habit?

Ash: It’s not natural! You got it from that dweebus.

Sloane: Only you would see smiling as a bad thing.

Seb: You smile at Cael.

Ash: Yeah, and don't think I forgot about you smiling at Cael too.

Seb: That was before.

Ash: Don't give a rat's ass.

Sloane: We should move onto the next question before Ash pops a blood vessel.

 

Charlie: Good idea! Ash, this question is for you. Andrea asks: Howdy, since you enjoy cooking, have you tried or do you enjoy gardening? What's your fave veggie to grow? Spill them beans! And thank you. :D

Ash: Do I look like fucking Alan Titchmarsh to you?

Seb: Who’s Alan Titchmarsh?

Ash: An English Gardner. Jesus, Seb.

Seb: What? Why the hell would I know who that is?

Ash: You of all people should know who that is! You dated a Brit for fuck’s sake.

Seb: So that automatically makes me an expert in all things British?

Sloane: What I would like to know is how Ash knows who Alan Titchmarsh is.

Ash: You can both kiss my ass. I watch TV you plebs.

Sloane: Um, I’m pretty sure that’s not something you find on prime time TV.

Seb: Yeah. Would they even play that here, or maybe Netflix? Either way, the lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Ash: Seriously, bro?

Charlie: Okay, I see a certain lion Therian woke up on the extra-extra grumpy side of the bed this morning so we're going to call it a day. Thank you all so much for joining us here today. Until next week!


THIRDS Thursday - 3/17/16

THIRDS Thursdays Prompt: I'd love to see the first time Austen and Sloane meet. We know Austen tried to steal Sloane’s wallet.... But then? I'm curious about Austen's devotion for him. 
Part 2

His fourteen-year-old brain was about to implode.

Deep down, Austen knew he should be terrified. And he was. Sort of.  He’d been busted by a THIRDS agent. Even he knew not to fuck with these guys. His eyes darted again to the black tattoo on the guy’s neck. Jaguar Therian. Austen shivered, and not in a good way. Those jaws could easily fit over his tiny cheetah Therian head. Running would be stupid. Austen might be a lot of things, but stupid wasn’t one of them.

Then there was the part of him that was slightly intrigued. Agent Brodie wasn’t like any cop he’d ever met. The guy should have hauled Austen’s ass in by now, but he hadn’t. Why? That deep, gravelly voice caught Austen’s full attention. And those eyes. Wow.

“Where are your parents?”

Austen shrugged. “How should I know? They can be dead for all I care.” He didn’t care. His parents were assholes. They never loved him. He wasn’t perfect enough for their perfect house and perfect friends. He wasn’t Human enough. They could go to hell. Why was Agent Brodie looking at him like that? With that stupid sad face. Austen didn’t need anyone feeling sorry for him. He didn’t need anyone. Period.

“Did you run away?”

Austen took a step back. “I’m not going back to that shithole. They didn’t give a fuck about me, just the money they were paid for me. Fucking assholes.”

“Watch your language,” Brodie scolded in that annoying authority tone all cops had. Did they learn that during training?

Austen narrowed his eyes and folded his arms over his chest. Maybe it was time for a different tactic. Austen licked his bottom lip and moved into Agent Brodie’s personal space. He ran a finger up his chest.

“So, what’s a guy gotta do to be let off the hook, agent?” He quirked a smile and looked up at Brodie. Shit. Whatever it was, it was definitely not what Austen was doing. Brodie looked even more pissed. If that was possible. His nostrils flared, and he moved Austen’s hand away from him.

“Propositioning an officer aside, how old are you?”

Austen gave a sniff. “Fourteen going on thirty.”

“Jesus.” Brodie ran a hand through his hair before shaking his head and muttering something under his breath. Austen braced himself. Maybe he’d overstepped with Agent Brodie. Wouldn’t be the first time someone took a swing at him. Instead, Brodie’s brows drew together, his stupid sad face more than Austen could stand. He looked away.

“How long have you been working the streets?”

“I’m not a whore,” Austen grumbled. Sure, he’d done some things he wasn’t proud of, but he never sold his body. He’d rather starve.

“Then what was that all about?”

Austen shrugged. “I don’t know. Hormonal teenager and all that. Plus, it seemed like a good idea at the time.” And you haven’t treated me like shit under your shoe. He was surprised when Agent Brodie extended a hand to him.

“Why don’t we try again. I’m Sloane Brodie.”

Austen swallowed hard. He should really have made tracks by now. Why was he sticking around? He worried his bottom lip with his teeth. Man, he was such an idiot. All these years on the streets giving it as good as he got, getting kicked around, chased, beat up, and starved, and he was going to be done in by a cute guy with friendly smile and a kind face. One that was way out of his league in so many ways. Typical.

Fuck it. Austen held his hand out. “Austen Payne.” They shook hands, and Austen found himself smiling like a dope. “So, um, are you going to arrest me?”

Brodie cocked his head to one side and studied him. “Are you going to keep stealing?”

“Do you really want me to answer that?” Austen shoved his hands into his pockets.

Brodie nodded. “Where do you live?”

“Wherever I want.” The city was his playground, and at times his prison.

“Why don’t you let me help you,” Brodie offered gently. “We can go back to headquarters, and—”

“No way.” And there it was. The pity parade. Like he was going to trust some cop. Austen didn’t care that the guy was THIRDS. He wasn’t going to end up back in the system. They could kiss his ass. “I don’t need anyone’s help, okay. I can take care of myself. Have been since I was eight.” Brodie started to say something when Austen cut it. “Listen, I’m fine, okay? Been doing this a while now. I like the freedom. No one telling me what to do. Yelling.” Hitting. Making him feel like crap.

“You should be in school.”

“I go to the library. There’s this nifty thing now called the internet and everything.”

Brodie arched an eyebrow at him.

“You really want to do something for me? You can buy me a slice of pizza from Gino’s over on 6th. And a Coke.”

Brodie blinked at him. “A pizza?”

“And a Coke. Man needs his sugar fix. Come on. Your good deed for the day.”

The guy seemed to mull it over then let out a heavy sigh. “Why the hell not. Let’s go.”

“Awesome!” On the way there, Austen talked a mile a minute. Next to the little old lady from the café who fed him, he didn’t generally have many people to talk to. They always wanted to know more about him, and the second he hinted to being on his own, they all wanted to save him. Fuck that. He’d saved himself. He was better off on his own. Less likely to get hurt that way.

Gino’s pizza was so good. Oh my God, so much cheese! The slices were almost as big as his head. And the soda was so good. Austen took another big bite, making Brodie chuckle. The guy wasn’t a talker, which was fine with Austen because he liked to talk. It helped him get a read on people, even if they didn’t know it was what he was doing. Frankly, Austen was surprised the guy had agreed. He’d even asked Gino for an extra-large slice just for Austen.

“Good?”

Austen moaned through a mouthful of pizza. Between bites he asked Brodie a billion questions about the THIRDS. The guy had been one of the first Team Leaders at the THIRDS. He’d worked there throughout college, and when he graduated, he started full time and was promoted shortly after. Austen would bet people were scared shitless of him. He had a “bad boy” vibe to him. What would that be like, knowing when you walked down the street people got out of your way. That perps all but shit themselves when you showed. Brodie probably looked bad ass in his uniform. Austen had seen the THIRDS in action around the city. It was exciting. Better than watching a movie.

Getting information out of the guy was like pulling teeth. He smiled at Austen, but Austen could tell he was studying him too. Why?

“Thanks for the pie, Brodie,” Austen said swallowing his last bite of pizza.

“Call me Sloane.”

“Okay.” Austen was ready for another round of questions when some huge guy with wide reddened eyes barged into the place, a knife in his hand.

“Nobody move!” The guy growled. Crap. A tiger Therian. A high-as-a-fucking-kite tiger Therian. The guy was so drugged up it was amazing he was still standing. “Everybody hand over your wallets. Any funny stuff and you’re gonna be sliced like pepperoni.”

Was this dude for real?

“Austen,” Sloane said quietly, his gaze never leaving the knife-wielding asshole. “When I get up, I want you to hide under the table.”

Get up? Austen stared at him. “Are you crazy? He’s like, humongous.”

“Just do it.” Sloane didn’t leave him time to argue. He stood, his hands up in front of him. “Take it easy there, friend.”

As Sloane blocked the guy’s view from him, Austen did as he was told, sliding under the table. He peeking out from the checkered table cloth, glancing around at the terrified customers. A few Humans looked like they were about to pass out.

“You trying to be a hero?” The tiger Therian sneered at Sloane. “I’ll show you what happens to heroes.” The guy turned to grab a little Therian girl, but before he could lay a hand on her, Sloane launched himself at the guy, slamming into him. The perp hit the wall, and a punch to the kidney had him releasing the knife.

Austen’s heart was in his throat as the guy lunged at Sloane, but Sloane was quicker, ducking under the guy’s fist and doing some fancy footwork that got him behind the perp. With a kick to the back of his knees, the tiger Therian stumbled forward and Sloane pounced. The tiger Therian hit the floor like a crumbling mountain. Holy shit! Agent Brodie had just taken down a tiger Therian! Austen watched mesmerized as Sloane forced the guy onto his stomach then twisted his arms behind his back. He reached into one of his jacket pockets and pulled out what looked like a Therian strength zip tie. He read the guy his rights, and sat on his back, eyes intense. The whole place erupted into cheers and applause, and Austen scrambled out from under the table. His face could barely contain his grin. That had been the coolest thing he’d ever seen!

Minutes later there were flashing lights and blaring sirens. Austen watched with mouth gaping wide as half a dozen Therian agents in uniform thundered in, each one as big as the other. It was amazing they all fit in the place. As soon as a couple of the Therian agents hauled the perp away, Austen ran over to Sloane.

“Dude, that was fucking awesome! You totally kicked that guy’s ass, and he was like, ginormous! Do you know Jiu Jitsu? Are you trained in martial arts? How many forms of combat do you know? What if there’d been, like more of them? I bet you would have still totally kicked their asses.” Austen punched the air and kicked. How awesome would it be to bust moves like that? He’d bet no one ever got the drop on Sloane Brodie.

Sloane laughed and held his hands up. “Easy there, buddy. Might be time to cut down on the sugar.”

Austen was too freaking excited. He was practically vibrating with energy.

“Who’s the squirt?”

Austen turned at the deep growl. His eyes widened at the huge lion Therian agent looming over him. Damn, he looked mean.

“Ash, this is my pal, Austen. Austen, this is my best friend and teammate Ash Keeler.”

Austen took a slight step closer to Sloane, playing it cool. He gave Keeler a nod. “Yo.”

Before the guy could reply, two huge-ass tiger Therians in uniforms walked in. Holy freaking shit on a stick! Austen gaped. One of the tiger Therians smiled shyly and waved at him. The other which somehow was even bigger, quirked an eyebrow. He smiled at Sloane. Some kind of unspoken conversation seemed to happen between them. Like the whole team was so freaking in synch they didn’t even have to use words. What would it be like to work with these guys? To know they had your back. That you could… trust them? It just blew his mind.

“Who’s you friend?” The largest tiger Therian finally asked.

“Seb, Ethan, this is Austen. Austen, my friends and teammates, Seb and Ethan Hobbs.”

Austen looked between the two. They had the same last name. “You guys related?”

“Brothers,” the biggest one replied proudly, throwing his arm around the less giant of the two. What the hell did they feed these guys? The younger looking one just nodded. Did the guy talk? He hadn’t said a word yet. Suddenly Austen realized he was standing in a room with four apex predators. The biggest of the Felids. Oh. My. God.

Sloane turned to Austen. He reached into his pocket and took out a card. “I need to go, but if you need anything at all. You call me, okay?” He handed the card to Austen. It was all official with his name, email, and cell phone.

“Anything?” Austen asked, unable to help his grin.

Sloane chuckled. “Lord, help me. Yeah, anything.”

“Can we like, hang out?” Austen looked up then realized how stupid that sounded. “Never mind. You got shit to do. I mean, you got better things to do than hang around some nobody like me.”

Sloane frowned. He put his hand on Austen’s head. “Hey, you’re not a nobody. You’re a good kid. I’d love to hang out. But you gotta keep your nose clean, okay. I’m still an officer of the law, yeah?”

Austen beamed at him. “Yeah.” He followed everyone out, watched as Sloane climbed into the back of a big black tactical vehicle. Coolest thing ever!

That night he barely slept. It was cool, so he could sleep out on his fire escape. He took out his most prized possession, Sloane’s card and smiled at it. He ran a finger over it. There was something about Sloane. Like he understood Austen. Really understood. Maybe he’d had it rough too. He had a familiar sadness. The same kind Austen did everything he could not to think about. Well, now he had better, more exciting things to think about. Like kicking ass and taking names.

It was easy for Austen to keep up with Sloane and his team Destructive Delta. All he had to do was listen to THIRDS headquarters dispatch. It had meant doing a little thieving, but he told himself it was for a good cause. He was gonna help Sloane catch the bad guys. For now, he just wanted to be near the action. Watch the team, study then, see how they did things. Austen was learning. He watched DVDs, did research at the library. He’d even gotten a job. Sort of. Joey from The Big Palooka Gym had agreed to give him a few boxing lessons in return for taking out the trash, and cleaning up around the gym.

For weeks Austen showed up wherever Destructive Delta did. He didn’t get in the way, and just watched from the sidelines. He wasn’t stupid. Sloane had been surprised to see him the first time. The second time he didn’t look happy. The third he told Austen he shouldn’t be there. This call out had been particularly hairy. It had required some of Sloane’s teammates to be in their Therian forms. Watching a lion Therian and two tiger Therians chase down a couple of Jaguar Therians had been both thrilling and terrifying. Uh-oh. Sloane had that brooding look about him. He pulled Austen to one side.

“Austen, buddy, you can’t keep showing up like this. It’s too dangerous.”

“I can handle it.” Austen perked up. “Hey, maybe I can help.” The thought got his heart racing. “That would be so cool. I’m super-fast. In my Therian form I could trip these guys up. They’d never catch me. Plus, I’ve been practicing.” He bust out some of his moves. “I’ve been working out too.” He flexed his arm then shrugged when nothing happened. “It’ll get there.”

“Austen.” Sloane put his hands on Austen’s shoulders, holding him in place. “You know I love hanging out with you, and I love how enthusiastic you are, but I’d never forgive myself if something happened to you because I let you get involved. My team and I have been trained professionally for years.”

“I know, but….” Austen felt the back of his eyes burning, and he hated it. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d cried. God, he was such a baby. “I just…. I’ve never been good at anything, but I’m good at this. I’m good at sneaking around, of getting into places without being seen. And this time, it’s not to steal something, but to… to do something that matters. I want to matter. Like you.”

Sloane blinked at him before his expression softened. “You do matter, Austen.” He let out a sigh, his hands dropping to his sides. “You feel strongly about this, huh?”

Austen nodded pathetically.

“Okay. How do you feel about doing some reconnaissance work for me on occasion? Nothing dangerous. Just checking some things out? Keeping an eye on someone?”

Austen’s gasp was huge. He threw his arms around Sloane. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” He pulled back, his smile so big his face hurt. No one had ever trusted him with anything. “I swear I won’t let you down.” Never ever. He would never let Sloane Brodie down. At that moment he knew he’d do anything for Sloane.

Sloane had gotten him a cell phone, paid for by the THIRDS and everything. He even got some money. Sloane called it a “freelancer’s fee”, but Austen was pretty sure it was just Sloane making sure he had money for food and clothes. Austen would work hard during the day and study, because agents needed to be smart. He kept an eye on his phone. When Sloane called him he took off like a bolt of lightning. He did a lot of surveillance, usually on family members of perps the team was hunting down. Making sure no one made contact. He also couriered stuff, or followed people. No one ever suspected him. He was just another kid in New York City.

If anyone approached Austen, he used his charm. He wasn’t above playing sweet innocent Billy who was running errands for his sick grandma. His dimples went a long way with women and the elderly. With guys it was a little tougher. He used his humor instead. No matter what he did, he was loving every minute of him. And he was good. Whenever Sloane praised him he thought he’d float away.

When Austen arrived at the park, he was surprised—and maybe a teeny jealous—at the tall, busty woman with red hair standing beside Sloane. She looked like some retro pin-up girl. Curves in all the right places. She was a cougar Therian. Austen approached with caution. Sloane hadn’t said he was bringing anyone. Was this his girlfriend?

“Austen, I’d like you to meet Lieutenant Sonya Sparks. Lieutenant, this is Austen.”

Lieutenant? “Your boss?”

“Well, one of my bosses, yeah.”

Wow. Cool. Austen held his hand out, and was caught in her intense gaze.

“Austen, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” She took his hand, her grip firm. “Sloane’s told me so much about you.”

“He has?” Austen looked at Sloane who gave him a wink. He turned his attention back to the lieutenant.

“Yes, he has. I have to say, I’m impressed.” She motioned ahead of her. “Why don’t we take a walk. I’d like to talk to you about your work with the THIRDS. I think you and I are going to do wonderful things together, Austen.”

Austen smiled widely. Something told him his life was about to change.

Bring it.


Forgive and Forget now available for pre-order from Amazon and All Romance eBooks!

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Hello all! Just a few weeks left until the release of Forgive and Forget, my Dreamspun Desires story! If you don't have a Dreamspun Desires subscription and would like to purchase Forgive and Forget on it's own, it's now available for pre-order from the following sites:

Dreamspinner Presshttp://bit.ly/CCFFDSPeBook Amazonhttp://bit.ly/CCFFeBookAmazon All Romance eBookhttp://bit.ly/CCFFARe Barnes & Noble should be showing up any time now.

Release Date: April 1st, 2016

Blog Tour: March 28th - April 1st

 

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