Blog Archive - June 2016

THIRDS Thursday - 6/30/16

THIRDS Thursdays

Prompt: I would like a prompt from the last book…. Ethan and Calvin go to Calvin’s mom’s house for some old fashion southern food and Dex wiggles himself and Sloane into an invite…… I want to see that scene.


“I’m starving. Mom’s invited us over for dinner.”

Ethan’s eyes lit up, and his stomach rumbled. “Did she…?”

“Of course she did. She made chicken-and-dumpling casserole, cornbread, fried green tomatoes, and her famous pecan pie. Like she doesn’t know you,” Calvin said with a chuckle.

A mew escaped Ethan, and his mouth watered. Calvin’s mom made the best southern food ever. Usually he ate so much he wouldn’t be able to move for hours. She knew all his favorites and always cooked up Therian-sized portions, plus leftovers because she knew neither he nor her son liked to cook. Ethan could eat Darla’s cooking every day, though it was probably a good thing he didn’t, or he’d never fit into his uniform. He grabbed Calvin’s hand and pulled him along to hurry him up, making him laugh.

“I’m driving,” Ethan declared before hurrying out of the locker room with Calvin in tow.

“Yeah, all right. Just don’t get us pulled over. Again. I have a feeling the next cop might not see jambalaya as a good enough reason not to give you a speeding ticket.”

They were headed for the elevator when Dex and Sloane showed up. Both were out of breath and flushed. Dex’s uniform shirt was half hanging out, and Sloane’s collar was a mess.

“I don’t even want to know,” Calvin muttered.

“Hey, we’re getting some dinner,” Dex said as he tucked in his shirt. “You guys wanna come?”

Ethan shook his head and pointed to Calvin before patting his belly.

“Sorry, Mom’s homemade chicken-and-dumpling casserole wins out over air itself. Seriously. There’s no keeping Ethan from my mom’s cooking.”

Dex’s eyes sparkled. “That’s right. Your mom cooks real southern food. Old-school recipes made from scratch, passed down for generations. Fried green tomatoes?”

Calvin sighed and took his phone out of his pocket. He tapped the screen before placing it to his ear. “Hey, Mom. We got enough for two more? One’s a Therian, the other eats like one. Great. Thanks. Love you too. See you soon.” Calvin hung up and grinned as the elevator pinged. He motioned to the open doors. “After you.”

Dex and Ethan all but fell over each other trying to get in the elevator. Inside, Ethan gave Dex a shove. Calvin stepped in after Sloane.

“Yeah, a word of warning. Don’t get between Ethan and my mom’s dumplings.”

Ethan narrowed his eyes at Dex. I will bust your shit up.

Dex held his hands up. “I apologize for any disrespect caused while hungry. It’s not me. It’s my stomach.”

Ethan patted Dex’s shoulder, perhaps a little harder than necessary. Dex shook his head and chuckled. Good food and good company. Today was turning out to be a pretty good day after all.

When they reached Darla’s house, it went from a good day to a great day. Ethan could smell the food from the moment he stepped out of his SUV. His stomach rumbled, demanding it be filled with tasty dumplings immediately. He ran up the front steps of Darla’s house, grinning widely when she opened the door.

“Hello, angel.” Darla pulled Ethan in for a hug, and Ethan squeezed her in return, mindful of his strength. For him, Darla Summers was like a second mother. Despite working long hours to support herself and her son, she hadn’t thought twice about helping Ethan and his family. It had been hard for Ethan’s mom, taking care of a husband in constant excruciating pain, and a small son with crippling anxiety and selective mutism. Darla had stepped in like she’d always been there. Ethan had never known anyone as strong as his mom until he met Darla Summers. She was a slip of a woman compared to his bulky near-three-hundred-pound frame, yet she could make the toughest Therian quake in their boots with one raised eyebrow. She had the same sparkling blue eyes as Calvin, and the same golden blonde hair.

Ethan stepped inside so she could hug Calvin. She gave his head a kiss. “Hey, baby.”

“Hi, Mom.” Calvin gave her cheek a kiss before moving to one side. “You remember Sloane.”

“Sloane.” Darla smiled warmly, ignoring Sloane’s outstretched hand to pull him in for a hug. Ethan did his best not to laugh. Their Team Leader wasn’t accustomed to mom hugs. Sloane stiffened for a heartbeat before returning Darla’s hug with a smile.

“It’s been too long.” She gave him a pointed look, and Sloane cleared his throat.

“It has. I’m sorry.”

Ethan couldn’t help but snicker at Sloane’s abashed expression. Yep. Quake in their boots.

Next came Dex. Ethan braced himself. Knowing Darla, he wasn’t surprised by her expression when Calvin made the introductions.

“Mom, this is Dex.”

Darla gasped. “Oh heavens! There really is a Dex?”

Dex gave her that big cheeky boyish grin of his, and winked. “Yes, ma’am.” He opened his mouth to speak again when Darla threw her arms around him, and squeezed him so tight it made Dex laugh.

“Thank you, Dex.”

“You’re welcome.” Dex pulled back, his expression bemused. “Though I’m not sure what I did. I’m going to assume it was a good thing.”

Darla’s eyes grew glassy, and she took hold of Dex’s hand. “You saved my boys.”

It seemed to dawn on Dex then. He shrugged, looking embarrassed. “I was just doing my job.”

“No, darling. You were doing more than your job.” Darla shook her head, her intense blue eyes on Dex. “You risked your life to save them. I know all about how you pulled Cal to safety in Greenpoint, and when you dragged Ethan to safety after the explosion at the Therian Youth Center.” She looped her arm through his to escort him inside the house. “You’re a hero.”

Calvin closed the door behind them, shaking his head at his mom. “You really shouldn’t encourage him. His ego’s big enough.”

“Hush now,” Darla scolded lightly. “This boy saved your life. He deserves to have his ego fed.”

Dex nodded. “Listen to your mother. She’s obviously an incredibly perceptive lady.”

“I hope you realize there’s no getting rid of him now,” Calvin said with a sigh. “You compliment him, and then feed him? I’m pretty sure whoever came up with “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” was talking about him.”

“He’s right, Darla.” Dex put a hand to his chest over his heart. “Good food pretty much guarantees an unofficial adoption in my book. You feed me, you gotta keep me.”

Darla threw her head back and laughed. She gave Sloane a wink. “He’s adorable. I can see why you fell for him.”

Calvin stared at his mom. “I never told you they were together.”

Darla waved her hand at him in dismissal. “Oh, honey. Anyone with a half a mind can see these two are crazy about each other. Now help me get the table set.”

Ethan and Calvin exchanged glances. It was like when they were kids and they’d sneak under the covers with a flashlight to read comic books. Somehow she always knew they were awake despite them not making a sound or shining the flashlight near the door. Sometimes Ethan suspected she had Therian hearing.

Calvin headed for the kitchen, and Ethan eagerly followed until Calvin stopped and turned to arch an eyebrow at him. “And where do you think you’re going?”

Ethan pointed over Calvin’s head to the kitchen where all the tasty food was. He smiled innocently. I’m just going to help you.

“You’re going to help me, is that it?”

Ethan nodded, and grinned. Yep. I’m thoughtful that way.

“Of course you are. Ain’t you cute,” Calvin drawled, his accent always thicker when he was around his mom. “You seem to forget how long I’ve known you. If I let you in there half the food will be gone before it reaches the table. Sit your butt down.”

Ethan huffed. Fine.

“You need help?” Dex asked.

Ethan let out a snort and clapped him on the back. You are hilarious, my friend. He shook his head at Dex. If he’s not letting me back there, there’s no way you’re getting back there.

“Will anyone who doesn’t suck food in like they’re a black hole help me in the kitchen. The rest of you sit at the dinner table.”

Sloane chuckled as he followed Calvin into the kitchen, while Ethan and Dex walked over to the dinner table.

“I happen to have a normal, healthy appetite,” Dex called out as he pulled a chair out for himself near the end of the table. Ethan situated himself across from him. It was best he remained near the competition.

“There’s nothing normal about you,” Calvin replied.

“Cal!” Darla scolded. “Manners.”

“It’s okay,” Sloane assured her. “They’re always like this. Welcome to Destructive Delta.”

Darla came out from the kitchen with a huge red casserole dish that had Ethan whimpering. Not even his birthday excited him as much as Darla’s cooking.

“I don’t know how you do it, Sloane.” Darla carefully set the dish down on the potholder. “These boys must be a handful.”

“They’re something alright,” Sloane muttered, before giving Dex a wink.

Less talking, more food bringing. If Calvin was ignoring him, he’d have to bring out the big guns. Ethan jutted out his bottom lip at Darla.

“Oh, baby, I bet you're hungry.” She gave the top of his head a kiss and hurried Sloane and Calvin back toward the kitchen. “Hurry up, boys. Your men need to be fed.”

It took Ethan a moment to realize Darla had said “your men”, and not “your man” in regards to Dex and Sloane. Ethan looked up and Dex wriggled his eyebrows knowingly. Did Darla suspect something? Had Calvin said something to her about them? Calvin hadn’t responded. Maybe he hadn’t caught it? Dex leaned forward, and Ethan eyed him warily.

“Nice touch with the lip thing. I say we hit her with a double whammy. Betcha we get served first.”

Ethan’s eyes widened, and his jaw dropped. That’s… genius! Why hadn’t he thought of that? Ethan nodded in agreement. More food came until the whole table was filled with steaming dishes. Ethan glanced over at Dex who gave him a wink. The two of them pouted, and Dex even threw a little sigh out for good measure as he gazed longingly at the dumplings.

“Oh, you must be starving!” Darla took a plate and turned to Calvin. “I’ll serve Dex, you serve Ethan.”

Calvin looked from Ethan to Dex. When his mother turned away, he narrowed his eyes at Dex. Ethan grinned widely at Calvin as his best friend served him up a huge Therian-sized plate. As if sensing Dex could eat his weight in food, Darla served Dex up a Therian-sized plate. They held out long enough for Darla to say grace before they dug in. Ethan couldn’t remember Dex ever being quiet. Sloane stared at Dex before turning his attention to Darla who looked amused.

“I swear, I do feed him,” Sloane assured her.

Calvin swallowed his forkful of food before looking worriedly at Sloane. “You sure he’s okay? The last time he was this quiet, he was unconscious.”

Sloane leaned forward to look at Dex’s face. “He’s breathing. And chewing. So yeah, he’s alive.”

“Congratulations, Mom. You’ve achieved the unachievable. It’s been ten minutes and Dexter J. Daley hasn’t spoken one word.”

Ethan stuffed another piece of cornbread in his mouth.

Dex swallowed and smiled sweetly at Darla. “That’s a beautiful bouquet of flowers, Darla.”

Darla turned to look at the flowers and Dex flipped Calvin off.

“Why thank you, Dex. I love having fresh flowers in the house. Also, I saw that.” She turned back and took a dainty bite of dumpling before giving Dex a knowing look.

Dex almost choked on his cornbread. He took a big gulp of sweet tea before gaping at her. “How did you know?”

“Please, Dex,” she let out a soft laugh before motioning to Calvin and Ethan. “I know all about raising rambunctious boys. Would you like seconds?”

“Yes, please.” Dex beamed at her as she took his plate from him. Ethan couldn’t believe how much Dex ate. When dessert came, Dex ate nearly half a pecan pie. Luckily Darla had made three. By the time they were done, neither he nor Dex could move.

Dex sat back in his chair, and lolled his head to the side to look at Sloane, his hand rubbing his fully belly. “Sloane, I think I’m pregnant.”

With a chuckle, Sloane stood. “And on that note, I’m going to help wash up.”

Calvin laughed as he helped Sloane clear up the dishes. Ethan would have helped except that would require moving. Then he noticed the one slice of pie left. It sat on its white porcelain dish looking mighty lonesome. Problem was, Dex was eyeing it too. Ethan narrowed his eyes, and Dex did the same. They both sat up. Dex laced his fingers together and placed them on the table, his gaze never leaving Ethan.

“I’m the guest. I clearly should get the last slice.”

Ha! I don’t think so.

Ethan shook his head. There was no way Dex was getting between him and that heavenly slice of pecan perfection. Slowly, he put his hands on the table, his gaze on Dex. They both readied themselves when Calvin swiped up the plate. Dex’s gasp drowned out Ethan’s own. Calvin scooped up half the slice and stuffed it in his mouth, moaning loudly.

“So good,” he said through a mouthful of pie.

“You… how… why?” Dex whimpered. “My pie.”

Ethan scoffed. You mean my pie.

Calvin blinked at them innocently. “Oh, I’m sorry. Were you guys gonna eat this?” With a shrug, he finished the pie and walked off. Ethan watched him go before turning back to Dex, his bottom lip jutted out.

“Hey, he’s your partner.”

Ethan kicked Dex under the table.

“Ow!” Dex tried to retaliate but his legs weren’t as long as Ethan’s so he couldn’t reach. He pushed himself back, cackling at Dex’s frown. “Damn tiger Therians. Why do you have to be so tall?”

Ethan shrugged. Why do you Humans have to be so short?

A piece of pie materialized in front of him and another in front of Dex. They looked up at Darla who put her finger to her lips before heading back to the kitchen.

Definitely a great day.


THIRDS Thursdays is on hiatus for the month of July for the release of Smoke & Mirrors. We return August 4th!


THIRDS copyright © 2016 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published with Dreamspinner Press.


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Office Space - 6/24/16

Hello all! Welcome to this week's Office Space! If you missed the intro post to the new blog post series, you can read all about it here. [caption id="attachment_12201" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Travel---CCochet Click image for full size view.[/caption] Carpe Diem 2015 planner from Simple Stories and matching washi tape samples - Plannerific Etsy Jaguar sticker - Infinity Stickers Etsy Pink Pasiley C'est la Vie collection stickers - SharBearCrafts Etsy Floral clips - Target Smile Sparkle Shine pen - Zulily Mug - Burlington Coat Factory Inspirational clipboard inserts - TJ Maxx

THIRDS Thursday - 6/23/16

THIRDS Thursdays

Prompt: I just thought it would make a really adorable Third's Thursday story if on one of the many assignments the team gets sent on, Dex hides behind a dumpster and a little kitty that looks just like Sloane imprints on him. He smells like a big kitty and I think it would freak Sloane out.


Where the hell was Sloane?

Dex hauled ass through the apartment complex grounds while a wolf Therian that had strayed from his pack tried to turn Dex into kibble. Ash, Hobbs, and Cael were off taking care of the rest of the pack, and Dex had lost sight of Sloane after the stray wolf had decided to hunt Dex. His partner was out in the shadows somewhere, hunting his prey. Dex just wished he’d get to pouncing already. He managed to lose the wolf Therian after a few strategic turns through the maze of buildings. Thinking he heard a growl, Dex ducked behind a building and hid behind a huge metal dumpster. He listened carefully, but instead of hearing a growl, he heard a tiny mew.

What the…? Turning, Dex gasped, his hand going to his chest. It was a teeny tiny black kitten with bright amber eyes. When he spoke it was in an awed whisper. “Look at you! So precious.” He reminded Dex of Sloane, but pocket-sized. Dex had never seen anything so adorable. “Hey, little guy.” Dex chuckled as the tiny kitten rubbed up against him. The poor little thing could easily fit inside one of his boots and have ample room to move around. The kitten’s tiny meows were barely audible, and Dex wouldn’t have heard him if it hadn’t been so quiet.

 “Aw, what are you doing out here all by yourself.” He scratched under its chin with his gloved fingers, smiling at the sweet little purr it let out. For a moment he got distracted, until a low growl snapped his attention away from the kitten. Dex carefully peered around the edge of the dumpster. There was nothing there. Shit. Where the hell was it coming from? He was about to make a move when the kitten meowed. Damn. He couldn’t leave the poor thing behind. Who knew what would happen.

“All right, buddy. You’re coming with me.” He picked the kitten up and tucked it into one of his tactical vest’s ample pockets. The kitten was so small he fit right in, his furry head poking out. The kitten looked up at Dex and meowed. “We’re going for a little run, okay? Just hang tight.”

Slowly, Dex edged out from behind the dumpster, his tranq rifle in his hand. He kept to the wall as close as possible, his tactical backpack scraping against the brick. Listening, there was the sound of Ash’s roar in the distance and Cael’s faint chirps. Had they caught all the wolf Therians? Turning the corner, he froze. A wolf Therian stood with fur bristled, his fangs bare as he growled at Dex.

“Take it easy there, buddy.” Dex held a hand up and the wolf Therian snapped his jaws. Dex aimed his rifle, ready to fire a tranq when something black barreled into the furry wolf Therian, sending the guy soaring several feet before he rolled in the grass.

Sloane leaped after the wolf and roared, the sound echoing through the quiet courtyard. With bone-crushing fangs bare, Sloane hissed and the wolf Therian smartly rolled onto his back, paws up in surrender as he released a whine. Dex let out a shaky breath before tapping his earpiece.

“Rosa, Sloane’s got the last one. Send Ash and Hobbs over to escort him back to the truck.”

“They’re on their way.”

“Thanks.”

Ash, Hobbs, and Cael appeared seconds later, and while Ash and Hobbs escorted their perp back to the BearCat, Cael came bounding over. He skidded to a halt and sniffed the air. With a cheerful chirp, he stretched his neck up and sniffed at the kitten in Dex’s pocket.

“I found him behind the dumpster. Isn’t he adorable?”

Cael chirped and the kitten meowed. It stuck a paw out and tapped Cael’s nose. Cael’s tail twitched before he ran circles around Dex, bouncing and chirping like crazy. Dex couldn’t keep himself from laughing.

“You two are too cute. Stop it.”

Clearly interested in seeing what all the fuss was about, Sloane warily approached, and when he reached Dex, he stretched his thick, sleek neck up to sniff the kitten. He hissed, and to Dex’s surprise, the tiny kitten hissed back. Sloane growled in response.

“Oh come on, babe. It’s just a kitten. Look at how itty bitty he is. He’s like a mini you.”

Sloane flattened his ears. He paced in front of Dex before circling him, sniffing him. He looked up at Dex and hissed.

“He may have rubbed up on me.” Was his partner really jealous of a kitten?

Sloane circled Dex, rubbing his head and body against him wherever he could reach him. Well, that answered that question. Dex tried not to laugh. He was sure his partner wouldn’t appreciate it. Rubbing up against another dude’s boyfriend was not cool, even for a tiny cat. Once Sloane was done, they headed back to the BearCat where everyone made a fuss over the kitten except for Sloane and Ash. Sloane was still jealous and Ash just didn’t give a crap. No surprise there.

Since the back of the BearCat was currently occupied by six locked up wolf Therians in Therian form, Sloane, Ash, Cael, and Hobbs remained in their Therian forms until they got back to HQ. All the while, Dex talked to the kitten, explaining to him what he was doing as he administered PSTC to Sloane. Once Sloane had recovered and dressed, he sat on the bench of the changing room, his narrowed eyes on Dex’s vest.

“Dude, seriously?”

Sloane’s frown deepened, his intense glare on the tiny ball of black fur in Dex’s arms. “I don’t trust him.”

“It’s a kitten.” Dex scratched behind the kitten’s ears, smiling as it purred and rubbed his head against Dex’s shirt.

“He knows what he’s doing.”

“And what’s that?” Dex asked, trying not to sound as amused as he felt that his huge jaguar Therian partner was glaring at the kitten like it was evil itself.

“He’s trying to steal you away from me.”

Dex pressed his lips together, the pout on Sloane’s face almost too much. His boyfriend was such an adorable dork at times. “I’m sure he’s not. Why don’t you come say hello?”

With a grumble, Sloane shuffled over, his bottom lip jutted out tragically before he reached out to pet the kitten. In true mini-Sloane style, the kitten hissed and swatted him, claws out.

“Ow! He scratched me,” Sloane growled. “The little bastard.”

“Aw, I think he was protecting me.”

“Protecting you?” Sloane crossed his arms over his chest. “I protect you. Me. I’m your boyfriend. I’m bigger. And scarier.”

“You are all those things, my love.” Dex held the kitten away from Sloane as he planted a kiss on Sloane’s stubbly jaw. If his partner were in Therian form, his fur would be bristling. Sloane peered at the kitten.

“I’m a lethal Felid, that’s a hairball with eyes.”

Dex let out a bark of laughter. “Okay, take it easy, handsome. How about we go get you some real food, and then we see if anyone in Unit Alpha wants to give this fella a home.”

Sloane wrinkled his nose, and Dex gave his jaw another kiss. “Then we can take a shower, and maybe head to one of the sleeper bays where I can show you how you’re the only Felid for me.”

Sloane didn’t hesitate. He grabbed Dex, took his mouth in a scorching kiss, stealing Dex’s breath away, before he released Dex and jutted a finger at the kitten.

“Mine. You get your own.”

With that, he stormed off and Dex followed, a big dopey grin on his face. God, he loved that man.


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Life for Dexter J. Daley has never been easy, but he’s always found a way to pick himself back up with a smile on his face. Taken from his home, and the arms of his boyfriend and THIRDS partner, Sloane Brodie, Dex finds himself in a situation as mysterious and lethal as the Therian interrogating him. Dex learns what he’s secretly believed all along: his parents’ death wasn’t an accident.

Discovering the whole truth about John and Gina Daley’s homicide sets off a series of events that will change Dex and Sloane’s lives forever. As buried secrets rise to the surface and new truths are revealed, Dex and Sloane’s love for each other is put to the test, with more than their relationship on the line. If traversing the waters of murder and secret government agencies wasn’t enough, something inexplicable has been happening to Dex—and nothing will ever be the same.

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Office Space - 6/17/16

Hello all! Welcome to this week's Office Space! If you missed the intro post to the new blog post series, you can read all about it here. [caption id="attachment_12198" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Happen---CCochet Click image for full size view.[/caption] Inspirational clipboard - TJ Maxx You're Perfect candle - Charming Charlie Washi tape set - Michaels Mint candlestick - Ross C monogram candle - TJ Maxx Floral and polka dot notebook set - Zulily

THIRDS Thursday - 6/16/16

THIRDS Thursdays

This week's prompt is the winning prompt form the THIRDS Beyond the Books: Volume 1 Release Day event!


Prompt: I am begging no I am pleading lol for a scene with Dex and Sloane (something funny and sweet or even badass) from Sloane’s therian point of view. I don’t care if his jaguar says “mine” the whole time I just want to know what he thinks about or what his instincts are saying…preferably a scene either after Sloane stopped trying to fight his feelings or after they’ve officially been together (but not necessarily marked), and they’re either just having fun or being badass out in the field.


I won’t let you get away.

Sloane skulked in the deep shadows, his dark fur helping to conceal him. His prey lay unsuspecting, his back turned to him. Never turn your back on a Felid.

His paws made no sound as he slinked forward, his sharp gaze focused on his quarry. Sloane loved to hunt. Loved the thrill of it. He was stronger, faster, deadlier. His prey was at his mercy.

Flattening himself down against the concrete of the parking garage, he crawled out from the shadows then dashed behind a car. His tail twitched. He remained unseen, and his prey unsuspecting. Or so he believed.

Dex stood from his crouched position, his eyes still focused on the tablet in his hands. “I know what you’re doing,” Dex said, his voice loud enough for Sloane to hear. “I know you need to hunt and all, but I would appreciate it if you didn’t scare the shit out of me while doing it.”

Sloane stilled. To pounce or not to pounce? Pounce. Always pounce.

Dex returned his tablet to the padded pocket of his tactical pants. “Okay. We’re doing this.” He tapped his earpiece. “Hey, Sarge. Sloane’s in hunt me mode. Yeah. You know how he gets if he doesn’t get it out of his system. Okay. Meet you back at HQ.”

Dex rubbed his gloves together, his grin wide. “All right, babe. Perps are in the truck on their way back to HQ. It’s just you and me.” He stilled and pointed off in the distance. “Hey, is that Cory from the doctor’s office over by the elevator?”

Sloane popped his head up and hissed in the direction of the elevator. Cory the nurse? He’d wanted Dex. Sloane roared and bounded out from behind the car. He flattened his ears, his fangs bare when he saw there was no one at the elevator. He’d been tricked!

Sloane waggled his tail and perked his ears up. Dex was gone. Not gone. Sloane could smell him. Have to hide. Sloane dashed behind another car. Tricky. He’s tricky. Sloane lowered himself so he could see under the parked cars. Nothing. He listened closely. Nothing. Why couldn’t he hear Dex? He could always hear Dex. Sloane sniffed the air. Dex was getting closer.

Something hit Sloane’s butt and he darted out from behind the car with a hiss, a soft laugh meeting his ear. Looking around he didn’t see Dex. Slowly, Sloane edged to where he’d been and sniffed the object that had landed on him. A packet of gummy bears. Sloane huffed. Dex knew where he was.

Suddenly there were boot steps, coming fast. Sloane shot forward as Dex rounded the car on his tail almost grabbing him. Dex chased him around the parking lot, behind cars, between cars, with Sloane staying out of reach. When Dex stopped to catch his breath, Sloane pounced, knocking him onto his side. Dex laughed and rolled onto his back. His eyes were so bright, his smile wide. He was perfect, and he was Sloane’s.

“You got me. Maybe next time you can hunt me on some nice soft grass or carpet instead of concrete. How’s that sound?”

Sloane licked Dex’s face making him wrinkle his nose. “Ew. Just not the ear, okay?” Dex ruffled Sloane’s fur and Sloane nuzzled Dex’s temple, huffing out a happy breath, his eyes closed in contentment.

“Hey! Get off him! What are you doing?”

Sloane’s ears perked up, and his fur bristled. He stood over Dex, fangs bare as he hissed at the approaching Human.

“Woah, hey! It’s okay.” Dex held a hand up and slowly pushed Sloane off with the other.

Don’t push me. I’m protecting you. Sloane growled, his gaze moving to the man watching them. A sniff told him the man was scared. He didn’t stand a chance against Sloane. Not a threat.

“Hank?”

The big man blinked, then seeming to recognize Dex, his smile went wide. “Dexter Daley? Holy shit.” He held his hand out, and Dex quickly slapped it away before Sloane could snap at him.

Maybe threat. Put your hand in my face again.

“Sorry, dude,” Dex said with a laugh. “You don’t want to do that. Not unless you want to lose that hand. I’m good. This is my THIRDS partner, Sloane Brodie.”

Boyfriend. He’s mine. My partner. My Dex. You smell like moth balls and too much cologne. Sloane sneezed and stuck his tongue out. Gross.  

Dex stood and held his hand out to the Humam. “Man, it’s been a long time.”

“Yeah. You’d just graduated from the academy and were celebrating.” He looked Dex over with his deep brown eyes. His scent changed, and Sloane flattened his ears. He didn’t like that smell. The man took a step closer to Dex.

Too close.

“Wow, look at you. A THIRDS agent.”

“Yeah, trippy, huh?” Dex put his hands on his hips and shrugged. “So how have you been?” The man didn’t move away.

Boundaries.

Sloane edged closer.

Still too close. Maybe he doesn’t see me. I should get closer to Dex. He lifted his butt and sat on Dex’s boot. He looked up at the man. Mine. This is mine. Finish talking and go away.

Dex cringed and scratched the stubble on his jaw. “Listen, um,” he cleared his throat, his scent changing. Was he nervous? Sloane looked up at Dex. He’s embarrassed.

“I’m sorry I didn’t, um, call you back the next day.”

The man smiled. “Or ever.”

“Yeah, or ever,” Dex said with a chuckle.

Why was he still talking? Too much talking. Wait. Why was Dex sorry for not calling. Sloane sniffed the air. He sniffed the man again. Sloane’s fur bristled from his head to his tail. He drew his claws out and hissed. He knew what this man was.

My teeth and claws are sharper than yours. Want to see? Move. Away. Move away now.

The man jumped and took a step back.

“Shit, your partner looks pissed.”

“Easy there, tough guy.” Dex scratched behind Sloane's ear and he leaned in to the scratch. So good. Mmm. To the left a bit, just a little… that’s it right there. He closed his eyes and breathed out, releasing a motor-like sound.

“Is he… purring?”

“Big cats don’t purr. Well, technically they don’t. I say they do. I mean that lawnmower sound you hear right there is purring. He just does it on exhalation, so it’s not considered a “true” purr. My little brother on the other hand, he purrs on inhalation and exhalation because he’s a cheetah Therian. And that’s your Felid Factoid of the day.”

The man laughed, catching Sloane’s attention again. He opened his eyes and stared up at him. Why was he laughing and smiling like that? Sloane rubbed his head against Dex’s leg. Sloane let out a huff when he remembered. The man wouldn’t smell him on Dex. He’s human. Dex already smelled like Sloane, but this man needed to know. Sloane circled Dex, sniffing his feet, and Dex jumped back.

“Woah, no. No. You are not pissing on me.”

Sloane mewed and Dex gave him a stern look. “Sloane, no. I am not walking around with the smell of your piss on me. We talked about this.”

Sloane flopped down on his belly with a huff.

“Sulk all you want. It’s not happening. Rubbing on me is one thing, but I draw the line at marking your territory on me.”

“He’s actually done that?”

“Yeah. He’s a little protective, and well, he’s my boyfriend, so he can get a little possessive when he’s in his Therian form.”

The man stared at him. He took a quick step back. “Oh my God, Dex. Your boyfriend is a lethal jaguar Therian who works for the THIRDS, and you’re talking about us in front of him?”

Us?

Dex smiled down at Sloane, his eyes filled with warmth and love. “It’s a bit embarrassing, but Hank and I slept together one night after celebrating my graduating from the academy. I was a dick and never called him back.” He turned his attention back to Hank. “I’m sorry. That was a jerk move.”

Hank looked from Sloane to Dex. “It’s okay. I get it. It was just a onetime thing. No big deal.” He swallowed hard and motioned to Sloane. “Is, uh, he okay?”

“He will be once he’s back to his Human form. He’s a little intense like this so, you know, don’t make any sudden movements or anything. Anyway, it was good seeing you, Hank. If you ever need anything, just give me a ring. I’m down at the Manhattan HQ.”

“Thanks, Dex.” He made to hold a hand out then seemed to think better of it. Instead he waved and slowly backed away. Sloane watched him until the man got into a car and drove off.  Dex crouched down in front of him.

“So, you okay? It was one night, a long time ago.”

Sloane licked his face.

Don’t like it, but okay.

What mattered was that Dex was his now.

“I love you,” Dex said, wrapping his arms around Sloane and squeezing. Sloane chuffed, and purred. He padded alongside Dex as they walked to the elevator. Dex pulled out his cellphone and called Cael.

“Hey, you mind picking us up? Great, see you in a few. Yeah, he—” Dex sighed, dropping his head, his eyes closed. “He just peed on me.”

Sloane could hear Cael laughing.

Hi, Cael! Sloane liked Cael. Cael was good. Sweet. A good cheetah. Good agent.

“Could you bring some extra pants? Thanks. You can stop laughing anytime.” Dex put his phone away and arched an eyebrow at Sloane.

What?

“I guess I deserved that. Thanks for not turning Hank into a scratching post.”

Sloane closed his eyes and opened his mouth.

“Yeah, I know you’re pleased with yourself. We’ll see how pleased you feel when you’re back to walking on two legs and I remind you of what you did.”

Sloane rubbed his head against Dex’s leg. Mine. All mine.

Always.


THIRDS copyright © 2016 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published with Dreamspinner Press.


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