Prompt: Taylor’s reaction the first time he realizes Sloane has marked Dex. We saw a posturing scene briefly, but the first time he caught a whiff of the mark I wonder what his reaction was and what he thinks about it. Like did he notice the mark in the locker room showers or just as Dex passed by his office? It could be any number of chance encounters. That would be interesting he totally is a walking sexual harassment case just waiting to be reported to Sparks. Has he ever been reprimanded by Spark’s? I certainly would not want to be in her crosshairs, or rather in front of her bow. Heck, just her glare would be enough I think. She’s freaking awesome.
Man, he hated reports. Fucking bane of his existence. He’d just finished typing up the last paragraph of his incident report when Herrera popped his head into Taylor’s office.
“Dude, guess who’s back on duty?”
Taylor tapped “save” before turning his attention to his teammate. There was a sudden roar of applause and Taylor couldn’t help his sneer. “Let me guess, the prodigal son has returned.”
Herrera shook his head. “Man, let it go. You never stood a chance.”
“Fuck you, Herrera.” Taylor flipped him off and turned back to his desk’s interface. Sloane should have never even been in the picture. The guy was Team Leader, and Dex was his partner. He should have never gotten involved with Dex. Asshole didn’t even give Taylor a chance. No wonder he’d been so pissed off the first time Taylor had talked about Dex and what he wanted to do to him. Fucker had already been screwing his partner.
“You coming out or what?” Herrera asked, sounding frustrated. Like Taylor gave a fuck.
“Since when do we congratulate people for not fucking dying?” Taylor growled.
“That’s harsh, man.” Herrera shook his head and walked out.
So now he was the dick? He wasn’t the one who’d planted the bomb in Keeler’s truck. He wasn’t the dumb fuck who went out there and set off the bomb, getting caught in the explosion. Why the hell should he feel sorry for Sloane Brodie. The guy had fucking everything. Taylor looked out into the bullpen, straightening when he saw a blond head of hair and a familiar smile.
The guy was hard to miss even in a room full of Therians who were bigger, taller, and bulkier. It was that damned smile. Taylor had never seen anything like it. It was the first thing he’d noticed about Dex. His mouth. And his eyes. But his mouth was fucking sexy. Full pouting lips that spread into a smile that could light up any room. It was strange. Usually the first thing Taylor noticed about a guy was his ass. And although Dex possessed a beautiful perky ass that made Taylor drool, it wasn’t the first thing he’d noticed about the guy.
From the moment Taylor had spotted Dexter J. Daley, he’d been consumed by lust. His mistake—he discovered all too late—had come when he’d approached Dex like any other potential lay. Taylor had never been interested in more than a quick fuck or one-night stand, and he never found himself attracted to Humans. He liked it rough in the bedroom, and sometimes he enjoyed a little kink, but Humans had trouble keeping up with him. Clearly Dex didn’t have any trouble keeping up with a Therian lover, considering he was still with that douchebag Sloane Brodie. The thought alone was enough to make him hiss.
It wasn’t that he disliked Destructive Delta. In fact, he respected them. They were one of Unit Alpha’s top teams for a reason. They had a track record that couldn’t be beat. Sure, they caused a hell of a lot of property damage, and had a habit of breaking the rules, but there was no one who would go to war to make things right like those guys. If Beta Ambush was going into the fucking fray, there was no one else who he’d rather have his back. Still, they pissed him off. No one got away with shit like Destructive Delta. Especially with Sparks. All she had to do was look at someone and they were ready to shit their pants, but not when it concerned Sloane Brodie. The fucking golden boy of Unit Alpha. If the dude weren’t solely into cock, Taylor would have guessed he was banging Sparks.
Taylor had bided his time. He figured Sloane would fuck things up with Dex the way he seemed to fuck up everything else. After Gabe died, Sloane had practically run his fucking team into the ground. For months Taylor wondered why the hell Sparks didn’t bench Sloane. Permanently. Then Dex showed up and everything changed.
As the crowd outside dispersed, and Sloane headed after Sparks, Taylor left the office and followed Dex into his. Before Dex could sit, Taylor knocked on the glass wall.
“Hey.” Taylor felt like an idiot. He hated the way his voice sounded unsure, and he especially hated the way Dex looked at him. Like he was waiting to defend himself against Taylor. Okay, so maybe his past actions were to blame, but it wasn’t like he was going to assault the guy. He cringed at the memory. He’d pretty much already done that. Shit. Why the fuck didn’t the guy hate him?
“Hey.” Dex sat on the edge of his desk studying Taylor.
“Thanks, man.” Dex smiled widely. It was genuine and sweet.
Taylor found himself smiling like a moron. He’d come to know Dex’s smiles pretty well. He wondered how many people knew the guy had different smiles. There was the one he had for his friends and teammates, the one he had for his father and sergeant, the one for the rest of their teammates, the one he used when he was just trying to be polite, and the one he used when he didn’t trust someone and was trying to get a read on them. Then there was the one he had for Sloane. It made Taylor’s insides twist. Sloane didn’t deserve that smile. He didn’t deserve the little creases that formed at the corners of Dex’s bright blue eyes when he smiled. Or the dreamy look that came into his eyes. Like all he could see was Sloane and no one else.
Taylor was about to ask how Dex was feeling when his inner Felid stirred. He stepped into the room and sniffed. Something was… different.
“You okay?” Dex asked.
The scent suddenly intensified, and it filled Taylor’s nostrils. It was heady. A mixture of citrus shampoo, Dex’s scent, Sloane’s, and something else. All at once, Taylor crossed the distance between them. He grabbed Dex’s arm, tugged at the cuff, and pushed his sleeve up, ignoring Dex’s protest.
“What the fuck, Taylor? Get off!”
Taylor was stronger. He held onto Dex’s arm and gasped when he saw the bandage. He stared at Dex.
“You let him fucking mark you?”
Dex jerked his arm out of Taylor’s grip, and quickly rolled down his sleeve, his voice clipped when he spoke. “It’s none of your damned business.”
Taylor couldn’t believe it. Sloane had marked Dex. “How could you?” He shook his head. “Why?”
“Why?” Dex’s expression softened. Was it pity? Understanding? Did he somehow know that Taylor had been thinking about him on and off for months? No, that wasn’t possible. Taylor had done his best to keep his distance.
“I asked him to mark me because I love him, and I’m his.”
Taylor’s chest felt tight. Man, he was such a fucking loser. Had he really thought he had a chance? He kept telling himself Dex would get fed up with Sloane’s shit and dump his ass. The guy was fucking neck deep in baggage, it was bound to send Dex running. Instead, Dex fell in love with him and asked Sloane to mark him? It made no fucking sense.
“You really think he’s going to change?” Taylor spat out, feeling humiliated at his own stupidity. Of course Dex would never leave Sloane. Dex was so fucking good. He was patient, understanding, and so damned loyal it hurt. “Sloane Brodie will never change. He’s been a miserable bastard from the day he showed up here. Everything he touches turns poisonous and dies.”
“That’s enough,” Dex said through his teeth. “My relationship with Sloane is none of your business. Thanks for the welcome, but I think you should go.” Dex turned, and Taylor caught his arm. Dex was furious, and he had every right to be. Taylor tried to find the right words. He was so shit at this.
“Look, I’m sorry for being such an asshole. I just….” Taylor swallowed hard, trying to get the words out, especially with Dex looking at him the way he was. Like he was searching for something inside Taylor. No one had ever looked at him like that. Probably because no one ever gave a shit about him long enough to try and figure him out. “I don’t deserve you. I get that. But neither does he. All he does is hurt you.”
Dex stared at him. “What the hell, man?”
“Do you really think I’m that oblivious?” Taylor let go of Dex’s arm and shook his head. “You’re a really shitty liar, and your wear your heart on your sleeve. It would take a fucking moron not to see when you’re upset.”
“Have you been watching me?” It wasn’t an accusation, more like he was curious.
Taylor shrugged. “I notice things.” He met Dex’s gaze. “I notice you.”
Dex nodded slowly, his eyes never leaving Taylor’s. “I really think you should go.”
At the sound of the gruff voice, Taylor bristled. At least he would have if he were in his Therian form. Teeth clenched, he turned to find Sloane in the doorway, eyes narrowed.
“There something you want, Taylor?”
Taylor looked over his shoulder at Dex. His big blue eyes filled with concern as he looked between Taylor and Sloane. As much as Taylor would have loved to plant one in Sloane’s face, he didn’t want Dex to think any less of him than he already did.
Taylor shook his head as he swept by Sloane. He paused then leaned into Sloane, his voice low. “When you fuck this up—and you will—I’ll be the man he needs. The one you never could be.”
Fury flashed in Sloane’s eyes, and Taylor readied himself for a punch that never landed. He frowned, staring at the back of a blond head. Goddamn it, Dex.
“Babe, please.” Dex put his hand on Sloane’s arm, and Taylor witnessed the anger drain out of the huge jaguar Therian. His expression softened, his amber eyes filled with so much adoration it made Taylor feel sick to his stomach. Afraid he might lose his breakfast, he stormed back to his office. He dropped into his chair, and was so lost in his own pitiful thoughts, he was startled by the movement in front of his face. He blinked down at the coffee cup on his desk. Looking up, he found Herrera standing next to his desk, a strange expression on his face.
“Large triple shot skinny mocha with chocolate powder. Thought it might cheer you up.”
It was his favorite. “Uh, thanks.” Taylor took the hot cup in his hands, feeling his cold insides grow warmer. He took a sip and sighed. Damn that was good.
Herrera gave him a smile. Then it fell away and he shifted uncomfortably. “Listen, I’m sorry about Dex. I know you really like him.”
Taylor shrugged and took another sip of his drink.
“You’re a great guy, Taylor. I’m sure the right guy is somewhere out there.” With that he turned and walked away. It was weird, hearing those words from Herrera. Usually they just cursed at each other, messing around. Herrera was his friend, but the guy never got emotional on him. Most likely because he knew Taylor would tease the fuck out of him.
As he sipped his coffee, he thought about Dex being marked by Sloane. Those stupid fucks had no idea what they’d gotten themselves into. If Taylor had felt that pull toward Dex, he could just imagine what it would be like for Dex out there. He hoped Brodie was prepared. The best thing for Taylor to do would be to stay as far away from Dex as possible. Yep, that’s what he’d do.
Copyright © 2014 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.