Prompt: We all know Dex is a trouble magnet with a super big heart. Maybe they work on a case and during a raid they find a little 5 year old bratty Therian Jaguar girl, whose needs looking after till her family can be found.
Dex noticed Sloane had something hidden behind his back as he walked over to Solange. “Sorry I took so long.” He stopped next to her then knelt. “Guess what? Your mommy and daddy are on their way to pick you up, and look who’s here.”
Solange squealed when Sloane presented her with a stuffed lion toy, and Dex couldn’t help his laugh. It had floppy arms and legs, a big brown nose, and the biggest, craziest mane Dex had ever seen. She got her little arms wrapped around it, and hugged the stuffing out of it.
“So what have you two been up to?” Sloane asked, just as Ash entered the room.
Maybe the floor would swallow Dex up, and he wouldn’t have to witness this crushing, life altering moment. Okay, maybe he was being a little dramatic, but still.
Ash opened his mouth when Solange piped up.
“Dex and I were singing!”
The room plunged into silence, everyone staring at Solange.
Sloane blinked at her. “You were singing?”
“Yep. We were here the whole time, and we were singing a fun song. Do you want to hear it?”
Two words in and Dex was on the floor in a fit of laughter. Ash’s eyes were huge, and Sloane had a fist to his mouth to keep himself from laughing. Meanwhile, at the top of her lungs, Solange sang The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
Ash looked so confused, and Dex was afraid he’d pee his pants he was laughing so hard. “What’s happening right now?”
Solange continued to sing, her voice going up really high in pitch for certain parts of the song, and Dex just couldn’t breathe.
“Yeah, no.” Ash turned and left.
“Do you like it?” Solange asked Sloane.
Sloane laughed softly. “I do. I also think it’s very sweet for you to cover for Dex.”
Dex froze. He sat up, and gaped at Sloane. “You know?”
Sloane stood, and held a hand out to Dex, helping him to his feet. He made sure to stand where he could keep an eye on Solange. “Yes, Babe. I came back to ask Solange a quick question and didn’t see either of you. I figured she managed to sneak away.”
Dex narrowed his eyes. “Ash told you, didn’t he?”
“He did. Yes. Like, the moment he saw her.”
“Where was she?”
Sloane chuckled. “Here.”
“She was hiding under my desk.”
Dex’s jaw dropped. Hiding in plain sight. Of course she was. Man, he felt like an idiot. He not only lived with a jaguar Therian, he was mated to one. They were experts at hiding so they could pounce. Sloane’s desk was the first place he should have checked.
“That’s also why we smelled her scent.”
Dex nodded his agreement. He thought her scent hadn’t changed because she’d just been in the office, but in truth it was because she hadn’t left. That sneaky sneak. “Wait, how did she end up with Ash if she didn’t leave the office?”
“He dropped by to discuss the case and found her sitting in my chair, but no you. When he asked her where you were, she said she’d show him.” Sloane looked down, and Dex followed his gaze. Solange stood beside him tugging at one of his pockets.
“Don’t be mad at Dex. It was my fault. I shouldn’t have pretended to run away. He’ll be a really good daddy, I promise.”
Sloane’s expression softened, and he picked Solange up, his smile making Dex melt. “You know what? I think he’ll make a great daddy.”
“You do?” she asked, her smile wide.
Sloane nodded then gave them each a pointed look. “I’m not happy with either of you, but that doesn’t change how great I think you both are.” He turned his attention back to Solange. “You shouldn’t pretend to sneak away like that, or actually sneak away. You really worried Dex. What if you weren’t somewhere safe? How would your mommy and daddy feel if something happened to you?”
Her bottom lip jutted out in a miserable pout. “They’d be sad.”
“They’d be heartbroken.” Sloane turned his attention to Dex. “I’m not sure what you were doing when Solange pulled a Houdini on you, but she reminds me of a certain someone.” He shook his head in amusement. “I take my eyes off you for two seconds, and next thing I know, I find you Duct taped to a medical examiner’s table.”
Solange arched a perfect little eyebrow at Dex. He was being judged by a five-year-old. Splendid.
“Here’s a life lesson. Never steal cookies from a wolf Therian. They are very serious about their food. Especially cookies. They might look all sweet and nerdy, but don’t let that fool you.”
Sloane laughed, and Solange giggled.
“I’m glad my misfortune amuses you two,” Dex said with a sniff.
Sloane pulled him close, and kissed his temple. “I love you. But next time, call me, huh? We’ll work it out together.”
Really, Dex should have known better. “I will. I’m sorry. I just kind of freaked out a little.”
“I know. That happens when your blood sugar is low. Then you crash. So how about I stay with Solange while you get yourself something from the canteen.”
“Have I told you lately how amazing you are?”
Sloane shrugged, his smile dazzling. “I’m not going to complain if you feel the need to say it again.”
“You’re amazing.” Dex kissed Sloane’s cheek before heading for the door. As he headed for the canteen, he thought about Solange and how after everything she’d stuck up for him, so he wouldn’t get in trouble with Sloane. She was a good kid. He thought about the reason he’d take his eyes off her, and an idea struck him. He’d run it by Sloane, but he didn’t think Sloane would mind. Ash on the other hand….
“I hate you so bad right now,” Ash hissed.
When Solange’s parents arrived to pick up their little girl, after her mother bawled her eyes out and her father paced the office in a controlled rage at the babysitter’s negligence, everyone settled down. Solange’s parents were pressing charges, and they had every right to. They’d trusted the babysitter with their precious child, and their trust had been betrayed. Both parents had gone pale when they’d discovered where Destructive Delta had rescued her from, and they were extremely grateful. The THIRDS had made new allies.
As they talked, Dex discussed his idea with Solange’s parents, and then Solange’s mother broke down in tears before lunging herself at Dex, and hugging him tight.
As it turned out. Dolly wasn’t just any lion, but actually Growly the Grumpy Lion, a very famous children’s TV show lion. A British kids TV show lion. Growly was a lion Therian who in his Human form wore a giant crazy mane and was super grumpy which the kids found hysterical. Who would have known that within their ranks they had their own Growly the Grumpy Lion. And, oh, he was very grumpy right now.
Ash sat in the middle of circle of kids, arms crossed over his expansive chest, big fluffy mane with little lion ears over his head.
“Do you live in the jungle?” A little Human boy asked, waving his hand in front of Ash’s face.
“No. I live in Leeds apparently. Probably because it starts with an “L”. Why it couldn’t be London, I don’t know.”
“You don’t sound British,” another little boy said.
Ash sighed, and when he spoke, Dex just knew he was imitating Hudson. If Hudson were a grumpy ass lion Therian pretending to be a British wolf Therian. “I’m British. I drink tea, and eat cookies, but I call them biscuits because I like to be difficult.”
The kids all laughed their little faces off and Hudson frowned.
“I don’t sound like that.”
“Eh, you kinda do.”
Hudson narrowed his eyes at Dex. “As if I would take the word of a biscuit thief.”
“You’re just strengthening his case.”
Sloane stepped up beside Dex, and wrapped an arm around him, pulling him close. He kissed Dex’s temple and spoke so only Dex would hear. “I think you’ve just made Solange the most popular kid at her school. How did you get all the parents to let their kids come?”
“I just used my Daley charm.”
“Too bad that charm won’t work on Ash. I love you, Babe, which is why when this is over, I’ll try and buy you some time so you can make a run for it.”
Cael stepped up to Dex’s right. He was so smitten as he watched his boyfriend. “I had no idea Ash was so good with kids. He’s amazing. Also, you’re a dead man. Just saying. I’ll try and buy you some time, so you can get away.”
Dex chuckled. “I appreciate that my family is willing to risk the wrath of Ash to give me a running head start, but I really don’t think it’ll be necessary. I think he’s secretly enjoying it.”
One little girl launched herself into Ash’s arms. He lifted her up and she sneezed. She’d also had a mouth full of fruit juice which Ash was now wearing.
Dex hugged Cael then turned to Sloane and kissed him. “Make sure my grave says I died valiantly in combat.” Dex took off to the sound of Ash roaring his name. Yep. Just another day at the office for Destructive Delta.
Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.