Category - Dreamspinner Press

Love and Payne now available for pre-order from Dreamspinner Press!

Hello, all! I'm excited to announce Love and Payne (Austen and Zach's book) is now available for pre-order from Dreamspinner Press.

Dreamspinner ebook Pre-order: http://bit.ly/CCLAPDSPEBOOK Dreamspinner Paperback Pre-order: http://bit.ly/CCLAPDSPPB

For those who prefer to pre-order from Amazon or third-party sellers, those tend to be available about a week or so before release.

BOOK DETAILS Genre: Paranormal Gay Romance, Shifters Series: A THIRDS Universe Novel, Standalone Length: Novel 64,670 words, 200 pages Published: Sept 4th, 2018 Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Cover Artist: LC Chase Ebook ISBN-13:9781640807747 Paperback ISBN-13:978164080775-4

SYNOPSIS

Austen Payne, THIRDS Squadron Specialist Agent (SSA) for Destructive Delta and TIN operative, has seen the worst the world has to offer, faced lethal killers, and helped bring down dangerous organizations. But nothing terrifies him more than falling in love. After years of undercover work, Austen is a master at defending himself and protecting his heart… until he meets Osmond Zachary.

THIRDS Defense Agent Osmond Zachary has a huge, doting family, yet something is missing in his life. After meeting grumpy, foul-mouthed, jittery cheetah Therian Austen Payne, Zach knows exactly what that something—or someone—is. Unfortunately Austen seems determined to avoid Zach at all costs.

When Zach foils an assassination attempt, he ends up in the killer’s crosshairs, and Austen is Zach’s best chance at staying alive. Zach hopes the crisis will bring them closer, but Austen has every intention of walking away as soon as the danger is over.

Happily ever after isn’t for guys like Austen, but Zach is determined to show him it can be….

💛 EXCERPT

** It is not necessary to read the THIRDS series to enjoy Love and Payne. Austen and Zach originally appeared in the THIRDS series, and characters mentioned in Love and Payne are featured in the THIRDS series. If you prefer to read stories in order, you’ll find the THIRDS series reading order below. Zach and Austen do not appear in all the books.

SERIES READING ORDER

Hell & High Water (THIRDS, Book 1) Blood & Thunder (THIRDS Book 2) Rack & Ruin (THIRDS, Book 3) Rise & Fall (THIRDS, Book 4) Against the Grain (THIRDS, Book 5) Catch a Tiger by the Tail (THIRDS, Book 6) Smoke & Mirrors (THIRDS, Book 7) Thick & Thin (THIRDS Book 8) Darkest Hour Before Dawn (THIRDS, Book 9) Gummy Bears & Grenades (A THIRDS Novella) Tried & True (THIRDS, Book 10) Check out the THIRDS on Pinterest.

THIRDS Thursday - 8/2/18

Hello, all! So a few weeks ago I posted a fake newspaper image I'd created back when I was writing the very first draft of Hell & High Water. I also talked about the first time Dex and Sloane met back when the book was written in first person, and in Dex's point of view. I mentioned how although Dex knew who he was from the beginning, I kept trying to steer him in a different direction, a far more serious one, and he was having none of it.

Some of you may also recall in the original drawn, Hudson's name was actually Rafe, he was a bit of a douche, had a past with Sloane, and Cael had a crush on him. That didn't last long because Ash came onto the scene, decided Cael was his, Rafe became a huge tiger Therian with a chip on his shoulder, and Hudson was reborn the sweet, slightly awkward nerd we know today.

So here we go. Let's travel back in time to a piece of the original incarnation of Hell & High Water.


“Take off the jacket.”

“What?” I turned to Cael who just shrugged.

Before Rafe could elaborate, something large and dark loomed over me. For a moment, I thought my life was going to flash before my eyes. Then I realized it wasn’t death that had stealthily crept up into my personal space. It was my new partner.

My first instinct was to flee. Even though I knew it was my partner who stood over me in his Human form, the words Apex Predator seemed to be overriding all my good senses, and before I knew it, I had my Sig aimed at his chest with the safety off.

“Back off,” I growled, wondering what the hell was happening to me. All I knew was every instinct I had was on high alert, sirens blaring, my adrenaline pumping like some heavy shit was about to go down around me instead of the eerie silence that had descended. Why hadn’t I had this reaction to any of the other Therians I’d walked past? I knew they were dangerous, Tony had confirmed it. Sloane wasn’t the only Apex Predator, so why couldn’t I put my gun down?

All six and half feet of sleek, raw force stepped closer, and my gaze moved up. He was big, bigger than me, bigger than most of the guys I’d walked past in here, dressed all in black tactical pants and tight black t-shirt—as if his height, set of his shoulders, broad chest, and thick arms didn’t give him enough of an imposing presence.

Sloane was rugged, with a square jaw, and stubble. His pitch black hair gleamed with a faint blue sheen under the lights. It was unruly and windswept, curling slightly around his ears and his collar, but it was his eyes that pinned me to the spot. They were golden molten amber, intense, and unmistakably, one hundred percent Therian. I would have thought he was the hottest guy I’d ever seen if I wasn’t so distracted by the sheer fact that before me stood a man who could rip my throat out with one bite, and I didn’t even know what the hell kind of Felid he was. There was something about him, something he gave off the others didn’t. It struck me deep down inside my core, validating what Therian scientists have been insisted for decades: that Humans were no longer at the top of the food chain.

I knew Sloane wasn’t going to hurt me, but my gut wasn’t taking any chances. Taking a deep calming breath, I slowly forced myself to move the safety into place, but I still couldn’t put my gun away. Not yet.  I stood exceptionally still when he leaned into me, his breath tickling my ear.

A shiver went up my spine when I heard his purr. Goddammit, he was purring, actually purring, and it was vibrating against my ear, like a faint chainsaw. His proximity was radiating heat, making it difficult to breathe, and I didn’t much care for it.

“What is that?” he growled, taking a sniff.

“Awkward? Nah, this ain’t awkward.”

“Answer the question.”

“I don’t know. Tea? I accidentally spilled some black tea on me this morning.”

“Not enough on you to affect me,” he murmured huskily, his voice barely above a whisper. He inhaled again. “It’s something else.”

I wondered what this something else could be. The Citrus Mint Forming Cream? Shower gel? Deodorant? Aftershave? Shampoo? Conditioner? Jesus, did I really use that many products? Didn’t matter. None of those things were any different from what I could detect on him with my paltry Human sense of smell, well, minus the Citrus Mint.

He pulled back with a snarl of disgust and pushed his index finger against the dimple in my chin. “Watch your step, Fancy Feast. Black tea is off the menu unless you’re looking to be on it.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. I’d prefer it if you didn’t sneak up on me.”

“I’m sorry. Next time I walk into the room, I’ll announce my presence so you don’t shit yourself.”

I swiped the apple off my desk and started tossing it back and forth between my hands like a baseball. Prick. “Thanks. To show my appreciation, I’ll make sure to bring you a nice ball of yarn.”

With a humorless laugh, he shoved his hands into his pockets. “Nice one. Tell me, do you write all your own material or does Google help you out with that?”

Oh this was just peachy. We were getting off to a grand start. That was all I needed, for my new partner to hate me as much as my old one. Well if Sloane thought I was going to cower down before him, he had another think coming. There was no way in hell I was going to let him push me around like I was the weaker species. There was a sharp gasp from somewhere in the room and it was only then that I realized I had been so lost in my own inner monologue, I hadn’t noticed Sloane’s pupils dilate to the point where his eyes were almost black. His head was slightly lowered and his gaze was fixed on the apple, following it as it went back and forth, back and forth. His dark brows were drawn together and his jaw was clenched, his nostrils flaring. God help me. It was terrifying, yet exhilarating to watch the gradual transformation.

Then I remembered the catnip. Shit. Was Sloane susceptible? But he wasn’t acting like the others. I’m pretty sure none of their pupils had dilated. In fact, he wasn’t even looking at me. His gaze was still fixed on the apple.

“Listen up, Rookie…”

I followed the soft whisper over to Rafe, surprised to find him with both his hands up in front of him. It wasn’t so much that he looked about ready to spring into action that had me feeling all kinds of nervous, but the alarmed look on his face. I opened my mouth but he shook his head and continued to speak just above a whisper.

“Slowly move the apple away from you and put it on the desk, but make sure he’s following it when you do. Then stay extremely still. No sudden movements.”

I looked over Rafe’s shoulder and nearly dropped the apple. Everyone within our general vicinity had come to a standstill, with half of them looking ready to flee. I kept tossing the apple back and forth as he’d suggested, and turned my gaze back to Sloane. I might not be an expert on the subject, but thanks to Cael, I knew that look. He was getting ready to pounce, and not in a sexy way, but in a cause-serious-bodily-harm kind of way.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Okay, I had to calm down. I sure knew how to make one hell of a first impression. Doing exactly as Rafe said, I slowed down my movements, and with the apple in my left hand, I made sure he was following it before gingerly placing it on the desk to one side. I drew my hand away very slowly, and stood exceptionally still.

Everyone and everything seemed to be frozen in time, including Sloane, who was just staring at the apple. When I thought I would pass out from holding my breath, he blinked a few times, snatched the apple off the desk, and took a big chunk out of it before Rafe burst into laughter. What the hell just happened?

Sloane laughed and gave my cheek a firm pat. “Welcome to Unit Alpha.” He waved his shiny apple before strolling out of the office as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened, calling out over his shoulder, “Thanks for the apple, Fancy Feast.”  Rafe wiped a tear away from his eye, laughing as he trailed off after him, and outside, everyone was having a good old fashioned laugh at my expense.

I turned to Cael who looked like he didn’t know what to do with himself.  “What the hell was that? Was he going feral or did I just get punked by my new dick of a partner?”

Cael shrugged. “I don’t know. For a moment, I really thought he was, but then he just sort of snapped out of it.”

“I could have shot him!”

“Not likely. If Sloane believed you to be a threat, he would’ve taken you down the moment you reached for your Sig. His reflexes are far quicker than yours. Seriously, man, don’t mess with him. He’s one of the most lethal Alphas around. I thought dad filled you in on all this.”

“No, dad failed to mention that tiny yet life threatening tidbit of information.”

“What did I fail to mention?”

I spun toward my dad who was watching us curiously and threw my hands up in frustration. “The fact that my partner is one of the most lethal Alphas in this unit and a complete dick!” Taking a deep breath, I dropped down onto my chair and sighed. This wasn’t how I’d pictured my first day going. “You and your stupid ideas.” I cast him a dirty look. “You gave me that apple, and when I started tossing it around, Sloane started to go feral, or pretended to, I have no clue.”

“His pupils dilated,” Cael pitched in, coming to stand next to Tony. “I thought it was the real deal. I could smell it.”

“You can smell a shift?” I asked, wondering if I really wanted to know. “Sounds gross.”

“If someone sweats a lot you can smell it right?”

I nodded.

“Similar principle.”

Tony frowned and shook his head. “I gave you the apple so you could give it to him because he loves those things. Figured it might get the two of you off on the right foot.”

“Well, it didn’t.”

The more Tony appeared to think on it, the more nervous I became. He obviously had something on his mind. It was written all over him like someone had taken a Sharpie to his bald head.

“What?”

“Remember when you kids were younger, how you were all moody and pissed off all the time?”

I waved that remark away. “We were teenagers. Of course we were moody and pissed off all the time.”

“And remember that time I took you boys camping and you two got into that stupid fight over who was getting to sleep in what tent and you started waving that flashlight in Cael’s face?”

How could I forget? One minute we were cursing at each other like brothers do and the next minute I was on my back with a death grip on my flashlight because it was the only thing keeping Cael’s fangs from sinking into my neck. Cael had gone feral on me and his Therian side was having trouble communicating with his Human side. After our dad managed to get Cael to change back, we’d taken him straight to the hospital, where the good old doctor explained it was all part of growing up for my feline brother. Like going berserk and sinking your fangs into someone was right up there with zits or jacking off twenty times a day. Cael’s teenage hormones wreaked havoc with his neurological makeup, so until he grew out of it, he’d have to take some suppressants to keep him from getting himself into trouble, just like any other number of teenage Therians out there.

“So… what? You think he was actually going feral and then tried to cover it up? Besides, the whole hormone imbalance thing only happens to kids and teenagers, right?”

Cael shrugged. “It can happen to adults if something really gets under our skin. I mean really gets under our skin, but that never happens to Sloane. The guy’s impervious to everything.”

A worried look came onto Tony's face as he sat on the edge of my desk. “Either way, Dex, and don’t take this the wrong way—”

“Which basically means I will.”

“Look, I know you consider yourself pretty tough, and I’m not saying you’re not. Hell, you gotta be to do the job you do, but this is a whole different world. You need to be careful about who you piss off, and not just in here. Sure, you might find yourself roughed up a little, but none of these guys would cause you any serious damage. Not intentionally. Sloane’s… not the easiest guy to handle, but he’s a good guy and he’ll have your back. Out there is a danger the likes of which you’ve never faced.”

I was watching him carefully as he spoke, taking note of all his little nuances and reading between the lines. Slowly it all started coming together. Sloane was considered dangerous, even among his own kind. Obviously, he was one hell of an asset. Why the hell had they paired him up with me? Tony seemed to read my mind.

“You got something, kid. Whatever it is, Kyler and Howell saw it and decided you were the guy for the job. I think you and Sloane could learn a lot from each other.”

I had no idea what exactly he thought Sloane could learn from me. I on the other hand could learn how to keep myself from getting mauled by my partner.

“Say, what kind of Felid is Sloane, anyway? He wasn’t exactly forthcoming with that information.”

“Pantherinae, first lineage. Black Jaguar,” Tony replied, sounding almost proud. I guess he was, considering this was his department. “Congratulations, Dex. You got yourself partnered up with one of the rarest Alphas in the city.”


So there we have it. A good deal of world building changed after that. Dex was fighting me every step of the way. This wasn't how he wanted the story told, and Sloane was getting even grumpier that he wasn't getting his side of the story told. I'd written about 25,000 words, and scrapped it all. I kept some of the scene ides, like Dex  in his HPF captain's office, the plot revolving around the Isaac and the Humi-Therians being killed. Every interaction with Dex and Sloane was scrapped and started from the beginning. Sometimes you have to listen to your gut. Or in this case, a gummy bear, cheesy doodle crunching blond menace.


THIRDS Thursday - 8/23/18

Prompt: Dex goes to see Journey and Def Leppard in concert.

**** WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FROM BOOKS 1 THROUGH 10 ****


PART ONE

“Sloane.”

Grunt. Too early.

“Sloane. Sloooane.”

Something was poking him. Something was going to lose a finger if it continued.

Sloane rolled over with a grumble, taking the duvet with him. It was still dark which meant it was still sleep time. His inner jaguar growled low and the sound rumbled up from deep in Sloane’s chest. “Sleep.”

“Babe. Baby. Boo Bear.”

Sloane’s body grew heavy. Why was he sinking into the mattress? His mate’s scent filled his senses. Ah, that would be why. Dex was sprawled on his back from head to toe.

“Sleep,” Sloane murmured. “Heavy,” he added. Dex didn’t weigh what he used to. All that change in muscle mass had him going from his one hundred and seventy-five Human pounds to two hundred and fifteen not-all-Human pounds. Not that Sloane couldn’t carry Dex’s weight—he could carry Hobbs’s weight if he had to—but Sloane was on his stomach with his face buried in his fluffy pillow wanting to sleep. His body was sore from all the TIN training, and he was determined to make the most of their time off.

“You’re comfy, but mostly I need you to get up.” Dex rolled off him, landing beside Sloane. “Baby, I neeed you to get up.”

Sloane huffed and cracked open one eye which he promptly narrowed at his far too awake husband. “How are you awake?”

“I had coffee,” Dex replied, his smile huge. “A lot of coffee.” Were his pupils dilated? Was his husband having one of his random hybrid moments? They seemed to be happening with more frequency lately. At times he appeared all Human, and other times he was giving off some serious Therian vibes that had Sloane’s inner jaguar clawing to get free to reclaim his mate. It was freaky and a little concerning.

“I’m awake,” Sloane said, rolling onto his back. Dex straddled his stomach and leaned in, his floppy hair falling forward and in need of a cut.

“Hi, Handsome.”

Sloane’s heart swelled, and he placed his hands on Dex’s hips. “Hey, beautiful.”

“Guess what today is?”

Sloane pretended to think about it. “Isn’t today the anniversary of Ash threatening you for the first time with bodily harm?”

“No, that’s next month.”

Sloane tapped his fingers against Dex’s waist. “Let me think.” He slid his hands up under the worn out and well-loved Journey T-shirt. “Is it the anniversary of when we first met?”

“Also next month. You’re just stalling so you can feel me up,” Dex teased.

“Am I?” Sloane grabbed Dex and rolled them over so Dex was beneath him. He smiled down at his husband.

Husband.

Sloane still couldn’t believe it sometimes. How was it possible this beautiful man got even more gorgeous with age? Next month it would be five years since they’d met, yet it felt like a lifetime ago. A few extra lines had appeared in the corners of Dex’s brilliant blue eyes when he smiled, and when he grew out his beard the blond was interspersed with some gray. Leaning in, Sloane brushed his lips over Dex’s. “Happy birthday, baby.”

Dex blinked at him. “Birthday?”

“Um, yeah.” Sloane shook his head with a chuckle. “It’s your birthday today. Isn’t that why you’re excited?”

“What? Oh, right! It is my birthday, isn’t it? That’s not why I’m excited. I’m excited because we’re going to see Journey and Def Leppard in concert!”

“Of course.” Sloane should have known. It wasn’t as if Dex hadn’t been going on about it for months. Because of their training, they’d been out of the country on and off for several months, and each time they missed a tour date. The moping had gotten so serious that Sparks had insisted they take a month off, conveniently around Dex’s birthday when two of his husband’s favorite bands happened to be in concert. Sloane had surprised Dex with front row tickets. He’d been rewarded handsomely for his gift. In fact, he’d been rewarded for days, and he had a feeling he’d continue being thanked after the concert.

Since they were flying to Tampa, Ash and Cael were coming with them. Although Ash had no desire to be “in Satan’s taint” as he put it, Cael was so excited he could barely sleep knowing they were all going to visit his favorite theme parks the day after the concert.

“I’m concerned,” Dex said, his expression serious.

“About?”

“Ash. You know how he feels about humidity. Has he ever been to Florida? By his comment about Satan’s bits, I’m going to say he has not.”

“I told Cael to buy him summer clothes,” Sloane said.

Dex’s gasp of delight was epic. “Oh my God! I can’t wait. What do you think are the chances of Ash ending up in a tropical shirt?”

“I think the chances are slim. Like, Letty and Ash sitting down and sharing their feelings with each other slim.”

“I don’t know. Chirpy can be pretty persuasive.”

Sloane moved his gaze to their packed suitcases then back to Dex. He peered at him. Dex’s smile had him groaning. “Oh God, what did you buy me, and how bad is it going to assault my vision?”

“Come on, we’re going to be in Florida in August. It’s going to be hot as balls.”

“Answer the question.”

“It’s a very modest, lightweight, button-down shirt. It’s even black.”

Sloane arched an eyebrow at him.

“With palm trees. And sailboats.”

Sloane let his head hang, ignoring Dex’s laugh.

“Come on, Babe. You’re going to look sexy as always. I promise.”

“Should I even ask what else you stuck in my suitcase?”

Dex waggled his eyebrows. “Don’t worry. All the fun stuff is in my suitcase.”

Sloane opened his mouth then closed it. If he didn’t know, he wouldn’t worry. Heaven help the poor TSA agent who decided to check Dex’s luggage because God only knew what his husband had packed.

“We should start getting ready,” Dex said, pushing against Sloane’s chest. Sloane didn’t budge.

“Sweetheart, you do realize we went to bed two hours ago, right?”

“What?”

Sloane dropped back down onto his side of the bed then pulled Dex close. He kissed his goofy husband and covered them with the duvet. “It’s just after midnight. We don’t have to get up for the airport for another five hours. You should get some sleep.”

Dex stared at him. “But Sloane, I drank so much coffee.”

“You’ve drunk so much coffee that I’m pretty sure your blood type is coffee. You can go to sleep. I know you can.”

“How?” Dex whispered, peering at him. “How do you know, Sloane? Is it a sixth sense? Can you sense it? Your jaguar keeps sensing all kinds of weird shit lately.”

“I know it because we’ve been training how to do it for months.”

“Oh, that’s right. Have you set all the alarms?”

Sloane closed his eyes and smiled as Dex cuddled close. “Yes, Dear. I have set all the alarms.”

“Good. Night.”

Within seconds, Dex’s soft snores filled the room, and Sloane couldn’t help but give his husband a squeeze. “I love you,” he murmured before placing a kiss on Dex’s brow. In a few hours, they would be in Florida. It was only a mini vacation, and Sloane knew Dex was disappointed the rest of the team couldn’t take the time off, but Sloane was determined to give Dex a birthday he wouldn’t soon forget.


PART TWO next week. Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

THIRDS Thursday - 8/30/18

Prompt: Dex goes to see Journey and Def Leppard in concert.

**** WARNING: CONTAINS PLOT AND CHARACTER SPOILERS FROM BOOKS 1 THROUGH 10 ****


PART TWO

It was almost time.

The bags were by the door, and Sloane had triple checked everything, making sure they left nothing behind, especially the electronic devices meant to keep Dex busy on the plane. It was a matter of safety. Cael had made the mistake of selecting the two empty seats in front of Dex and Sloane’s for him and Ash, meaning Dex would be sitting behind Ash. No good could come of that. In the interest of getting everyone to Florida in one piece, Sloane would be sure to keep Dex busy.

The doorbell rang, and Dex whizzed by in a blur of pink and blue. Sloane shook his head in amusement at his husband. No one should be that excited at this time of morning, and normally Dex wasn’t, but the copious amounts of coffee had done its job. Dex threw open the front door greeting Ash and Cael in his cargo Bermuda shorts and blue button-down shirt covered in pink flamingos.

“Are you two ready to penetrate Florida with me? Wait, that came out wrong.”

“I regret this already,” Ash muttered.

“Ignore him,” Cael said, hugging his brother. “He’s been saying that since we booked our flights. A month ago.”

“As of now, we are on vacation, and while on vacation,” Dex put his thumbs to the sides of Ash’s mouth and pushed up to make him smile, “there are no upside-down smiles, mister.”

Ash narrowed his eyes. “You’re one second away from losing those fingers, Justice.”

Dex released him with a huff. “You better get used to smiling, because after the concert we’re going to the happiest place on earth.”

“It can’t be the happiest place on earth. You’ll be there,” Ash deadpanned.

Dex arched an eyebrow at him before turning to face Cael. “Life of the party, your boyfriend.”

“Oh my God, Dex, we’re going Disney World!” Cael bounced on his toes excitedly. “I haven’t been there since we were kids. Remember when Dad took us for your tenth birthday and you ate so much cotton candy you puked rainbows when you got off the Mad Tea Party ride?”

“Of all the things we did that day, that’s what you remember?”

Cael shrugged. “It was pretty epic. I mean it looked like a rainbow was shooting out of your mouth.”

Sloane did his best to contain his laugh at Ash’s pained expression. “Sweetheart, it’s too early for me to be interacting with your brother much less hear about his projectile vomiting.”

“Oh, right. Of course.” Cael stood on his toes and kissed Ash’s cheek. “Thank you for coming with me.”

Ash snorted. “Like I was going to send you to some tropical location without me. Not with the way those swim trunks you packed mold to your ass when they’re wet.”

“TMI, buddy. TMI.” Dex perked up, and Sloane smiled. “The car’s here!”

Ash sighed. “Because that’s what the world needed, Dexter Justice Daley with Therian abilities.” He narrowed his eyes at Sloane. “You and your stupid blood.”

Sloane flipped his best friend off. They could joke about it now, how Sloane’s blood had changed Dex, but that hadn’t always been the case. As they picked up their bags and headed outside, Sloane remembered how painful it had been knowing his blood had altered his husband’s Human DNA, not to mention the horror that came once Dex’s body had accepted Sloane’s mutation. He’d almost driven himself crazy thinking of the what-ifs, but Dex refused to let him go down that path. The uncertainty was troubling. Dex’s new hybrid DNA was unknown territory for them, TIN, and the hundreds of TIN scientists who’d run test after test on Sloane’s mate. They had no idea the extent of the changes within Dex because they were still happening.

“I’m sitting up front,” Ash declared, snapping Sloane out of his thoughts.

Thankfully the ride to the airport was uneventful, as was their wait at the airport. Mostly because Ash grabbed Cael and disappeared until boarding time arrived. Ash loved Dex, defended him, had been there for him when Dex had needed it most. He also wanted to kick Dex’s ass most of the time. Sloane had never seen anything like. Was he surprised? No one knew Dex or Ash like he did, so no.

Boarding time came, and they waited for their section to be called. Dex and Cael were both practically vibrating with excitement. It was really adorable. While the brothers talked a mile a minute about everything they’d do and eat while at Disney World, Sloane turned to Ash.

“So what are you two going to do while we’re at the concert?” Sloane had booked them a room at a hotel near the arena and they’d be meeting Ash and Cael at the park gates the next morning.

“Cael wants to go to some big Therian waterpark. Apparently, you can swim around in your Therian form.”

Sloane blinked at Ash. “And um… are you going to swim in your Therian form?”

“Yeah, why?” Ash peered at him.

“Just curious,” Sloane replied, congratulating himself on maintaining his stoic expression. While Ash was distracted having his e-ticket scanned, Sloane quickly caught up to Cael. “Are you taking pictures at the waterpark?”

Cael studied him. “Of course. Why?”

“I just want to make sure you don’t miss out on any memories.” Sloane smiled brightly. He could feel Dex’s eyes on him.

Once they’d put their bags in the overhead compartment and beneath their seats, Dex took his seat in the middle, and Sloane the aisle seat. Sloane had to give Dex credit. His husband managed to wait until they were in the air before whispering hoarsely at him.

“What are you up to?”

Sloane blinked innocently. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Don’t give me that look. I invented that look. Spill.”

They leaned into each other, their heads together as they murmured conspiratorially. “Ash and Cael are going to a waterpark.”

“So?”

“A Therian waterpark.”

“Not following.”

“A Therian waterpark where you can swim in your Therian form.”

Dex squinted at him. “Is the altitude messing with your oxygen intake?”

Sloane rolled his eyes. “Babe, Ash is going to go swimming in his Therian form. In Florida.” He watched as realization slowly dawned on Dex and his brilliant blue eyes widened. A low, long exaggerated gasp escaped him.

“Holy shit, there’s not going to be enough hair products in the state capable of taming the epic lion mane frizz. He’s going to look like a giant Pomeranian!” A wicked gleam came into his eye and he cackled evilly. “I need photographic evidence of this.” And Sloane didn’t doubt he’d get it. Humidity and Ash’s mane were not going to get along. Mane frizz was real, and the bigger the mane, the bigger the frizz. With lion Therians, their mane reflected the kind of strength, vigor, and ferocity they possessed. The tougher they were, the darker more majestic the mane. Dex wasn’t wrong when he said Ash was a precious princess when it came to his mane.

Thankfully, Ash and Cael spent most of the flight being “disgustingly lovey-dovey” as Dex put it which meant his attention was purposefully focused on Sloane, his eBook reader, his phone, and everything not Ash. They landed in Orlando, and the moment they stepped out of the plane, Ash was off.

“Holy blazing fuckballs! Why is there no air? I’m already sweating, and we haven’t even gotten outside yet. God, I hate Florida.”

“You hate everything,” Dex replied, amused.

“Yeah, but I hate Florida especially with its sweltering heat, stifling humidity, and stupid palm trees. They’re not real trees!”

“Pretty sure they are,” Dex argued.

Ash continued his tirade despite being in the airconditioned baggage claim. Once they’d collected their luggage, they stepped outside, and Ash flicked Dex in the ear.

“Ow! What the hell, man?”

“This is your fault. You couldn’t see your stupid concert somewhere with a breeze?”

“Like you’ve never lived through a New York City summer,” Dex grumbled.

“That’s different. The air doesn’t try to choke me.”

Dex opened his mouth to reply, and Sloane clamped a hand over his mouth. The last thing they needed was someone calling airport security about the crazy blond guy in the flamingo shirt and the homicidal lion Therian. Cael, being experienced in all things Ash had already called them a car, meaning in less than ten minutes, they’d parted ways. Ash and Cael headed for the hotel Dex and Sloane would be returning to the next evening after the park. Dex insisted on driving the rental, insisting it was for the sake of Sloane’s blood pressure. Sloane figured it was just Dex wanting to drive like he always did. Nope.

“This particular stretch of highway is lovingly known as Satan’s dongle.”

Sloane held onto the oh-shit bar, his gaze sliding to Dex. “Known to who?”

“To me,” Dex replied cheerfully. “I-4 is perpetually under construction and at this moment in time has more twists and turns than a racecar track, which by the way, would be safer to drive in.”

Dex had Def Leppard blasting in the car on the drive to Tampa. They had the rest of the morning and afternoon to just relax, so they went to their hotel room, checked in early, and went to the pool. For the first time in a long time, Sloane’s muscles relaxed. The hotel was Therian-friendly, so no one batted an eye when Dex and Sloane held hands, cuddled in the pool, or stole kisses.

Later in the early afternoon, they pulled on some comfy clothes, and took a nap—with several alarms set to wake them up in time for changing and getting some food. It was heavenly, and while Dex dozed, Sloane stayed up a few extra minutes just to relish in the feel of his husband in his arms as they lay on the clean, soft sheet, the only sound in the room belonging to the A/C. Sloane nuzzled Dex’s temple before placing a soft kiss to his citrus-scented hair.

“I love you, baby.”

Dex sighed and snuggled closer.

Their alarms went off at three that afternoon. They showered, changed—Dex in a Journey t-shirt and Sloane in a Def Leppard t-shirt—then headed to a Cuban restaurant where Dex ate his weight in mojo pork. By the time they’d parked in one of the parking lots near the venue, the place was filling up fast. They waited in line so Dex could by his band t-shirt, or t-shirts. As in one of each, including the pink one because it had “a different design than the others”.

They joined the throngs of people, and Sloane couldn’t imagine having to deal with this kind of weather every day. It was one thing when you were on vacation, but having to deal with it when you had to work? Fuck, the the THIRDS guys down here deserved a medal for going out on call in this weather with their full gear.

“It smells like armpits and assholes.”

Dex popped his head up and scanned the crowd. “Ash?”

“Not Ash,” Sloane said with a chuckle.

It seemed like a lifetime went by before they were past the metal detectors and inside the building.

“Babe, I want a burger, fries, and a drink. Looks like we’ll have to refinance the house.”

“That’s concession prices for you. Imagine if Ash were here.”

Dex’s eyes went huge. “These people would not survive.”

They carried their overpriced food to their seats in front of the stage, finishing just as the music started to play. The lights dimmed, and Dex bounced on his seat. His phone buzzed, and whatever it was had him barking out a laugh so loud concertgoers three rows over turned to see what was so funny. Dex was in tears. He showed Sloane his phone, and Sloane burst into laughter. He was laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe. It was a picture of Ash in his lion Therian form, and just as Dex predicted, he looked like a giant Pomeranian. A very grumpy, very fluffy, Pomeranian.

As the screen lit up with “Tampa” in the signature Def Leppard font, the packed-to-the-brim arena went crazy and Dex jumped to his feet, arms in the air as his scream joined everyone else’s. The screen rose, revealing the band in front of a wall of flickering TV screens. They kicked things off with Rocket, and Sloane was quickly swept into the fervor, jumping and screaming with his husband, rocking out with the crowd. At one point, Sloane felt a tug on his sleeve, and Dex jumped into his arms, legs wrapped around his waist.

“I love you!” Dex screamed loud enough for Sloane to hear.

“I love you too. Happy birthday!”

They kissed to the sound of guitars and drums. A blast of warmth exploded through Sloane’s chest, his body vibrating, and he realized it was coming from Dex. His mate was so happy, his rumbling purr was feeding his own inner jaguar. They might have been enjoying Dex’s gift, but knowing how happy he’d made Dex was the best gift Sloane could ever receive.


THIRDS Thursdays goes on hiatus the month of a THIRDS release, so we'll be back in October with more THIRDS Thursdays!

Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

Who wants to continue Dex, Sloane, Ash, and Cael's vacation in Florida when we come back in October?


Love and Payne Release Day Giveaway!

Hello, all! After many years, Zach and Austen's story is finally here! Woot woot! To celebrate the release of Love and Payne, I'm giving away a fabulous cheetah-themed giveaway in honor of our feisty feline Austen Payne! Just check out the giveaway details below.

If you can't enter the giveaway, don't you worry, we have plenty of giveaways happening this week in celebration!

Out now from: Dreamspinner Press eBook Dreamspinner Press Paperback Amazon Kindle Amazon Global Link Barnes & Noble Kobo iBooks

BOOK DETAILS Genre: Paranormal Gay Romance, Shifters Series: A THIRDS Universe Novel, Standalone Length: Novel 64,670 words, 200 pages Published: Sept 4th, 2018 Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Cover Artist: LC Chase Ebook ISBN-13:9781640807747 Paperback ISBN-13:978164080775-4

SYNOPSIS

Austen Payne, THIRDS Squadron Specialist Agent (SSA) for Destructive Delta and TIN operative, has seen the worst the world has to offer, faced lethal killers, and helped bring down dangerous organizations. But nothing terrifies him more than falling in love. After years of undercover work, Austen is a master at defending himself and protecting his heart… until he meets Osmond Zachary.

THIRDS Defense Agent Osmond Zachary has a huge, doting family, yet something is missing in his life. After meeting grumpy, foul-mouthed, jittery cheetah Therian Austen Payne, Zach knows exactly what that something—or someone—is. Unfortunately Austen seems determined to avoid Zach at all costs.

When Zach foils an assassination attempt, he ends up in the killer’s crosshairs, and Austen is Zach’s best chance at staying alive. Zach hopes the crisis will bring them closer, but Austen has every intention of walking away as soon as the danger is over.

Happily ever after isn’t for guys like Austen, but Zach is determined to show him it can be….

💛 EXCERPT

** It is not necessary to read the THIRDS series to enjoy Love and Payne. Austen and Zach originally appeared in the THIRDS series, and characters mentioned in Love and Payne are featured in the THIRDS series. If you prefer to read stories in order, you’ll find the THIRDS series reading order here. Zach and Austen do not appear in all the books.

GIVEAWAY

The giveaway also includes a TIN button which is not pictured as I just ordered them and they're due to arrive before the giveaway ends.

**** Restrictions: Due to the nature of the giveaway--mainly it having a huge ceramic mug--this giveaway is ONLY open to US readers. ****

For international readers: I have two giveaways going on this week (one today, one on Friday) in my Facebook reader group, and both are open internationally.

You can find my group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/charliecochet/

To enter the giveaway (again US only please): Just leave a comment below with your favorite THIRDS moment from any book or THIRDS Thursday.

Ends: September 25th @midnight Eastern time. Winner will be announced here on the blog shortly after. By entering you agree to be notified via email should you win.

**** GIVEAWAY CLOSED ****

Thank you all so much for entering the giveaway and for your awesome comments! Chosen at random, we have the winner of our giveaway!

Congrats, Ashley Wallace!

You'll be emailed shortly regarding delivery of your goodies!


Love and Payne now available on audio!

Hello, all! Love and Payne is now available on audio!

Love and Payne (A THIRDS Universe Novel)

Narrated by: Mark Westfield
Length: 7 hrs and 35 mins Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 12-07-18
Language: English Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Audible.com:

http://bit.ly/LoveAndPayneAudible

SUMMARY

Austen Payne, THIRDS Squadron Specialist Agent (SSA) for Destructive Delta and TIN operative, has seen the worst the world has to offer, faced lethal killers, and helped bring down dangerous organizations. But nothing terrifies him more than falling in love. After years of undercover work, Austen is a master at defending himself and protecting his heart...until he meets Osmond Zachary.

THIRDS Defense Agent Osmond Zachary has a huge, doting family, yet something is missing in his life. After meeting grumpy, foul-mouthed, jittery cheetah Therian Austen Payne, Zach knows exactly what that something - or someone - is. Unfortunately Austen seems determined to avoid Zach at all costs.

When Zach foils an assassination attempt, he ends up in the killer’s crosshairs, and Austen is Zach’s best chance at staying alive. Zach hopes the crisis will bring them closer, but Austen has every intention of walking away as soon as the danger is over.

Happily ever after isn’t for guys like Austen, but Zach is determined to show him it can be....


Pre-Order the Hell & High Water Manga!

HELL & HIGH WATER MANGA

PRE-ORDER LINK: Limited Hardcover Color Edition (color cover and color illustrations)
PRE-ORDER LINK: Paperback Edition (color cover and black & white illustrations)

Out October 29th.

 

It's been a long time coming, but the manga adaptation of Hell & High Water in English is finally here! I'm so excited! For those of you unfamiliar with the format, this is a comic book version of Hell & High Water. The original was released in Korean then translated into English and re-written by me to fit the original story and illustrations. I love the artwork in this, and Dex certainly converts well into a manga format. This book is so much fun!

If you'd like to see or download a preview of the comic, click any of the links above or below. You'll also find the answers to several questions I've been asked about the manga and the available editions. 


 

A GRAPHIC NOVEL ADAPTATION

When homicide detective Dexter J. Daley’s testimony helps send his partner away for murder, the consequences—and the media frenzy—aren’t far behind. He soon finds himself sans boyfriend, sans friends, and, after an unpleasant encounter in a parking garage after the trial, he’s lucky he doesn’t find himself sans teeth. Dex fears he’ll get transferred from the Human Police Force’s Sixth Precinct, or worse, get dismissed. Instead, his adoptive father—a sergeant at the Therian-Human Intelligence Recon Defense Squadron, otherwise known as the THIRDS—pulls a few strings, and Dex gets recruited as a Defense Agent.

Dex is determined to get his life back on track and eager to get started in his new job. But his first meeting with Team Leader Sloane Brodie, who also happens to be his new jaguar Therian partner, turns disastrous. When the team is called to investigate the murders of three Humanitherian activists, it soon becomes clear to Dex that getting his partner and the rest of the tightknit team to accept him will be a lot harder than catching the killer—and every bit as dangerous.

 

 

IMPORTANT INFO

 

💛There are 2 versions available for pre-order: a LIMITED Hardcover edition (has a color cover and color illustrations) and a Paperback edition (has a color cover and black & white illustrations).
 
💛 The Hardcover edition will be signed. DSP will ship the books to me, and I'll sign them, then ship them to readers. 
 
💛The Hardcover edition is ONLY available for pre-order through Dreamspinner Press. The Paperback edition is available through Dreamspinner Press and will soon be available on Amazon.
 
💛There will be no more print runs of the Hardcover edition once the manga is released on October 29th. If you don't get the Hardcover edition by then, I'm afraid there may not be another opportunity.
 
💛 The manga will also be available in digital format (in color) through Comixology. However, Comixology uploads comics on their timeline. It could take them days, weeks, or even months. I have no control over when they list the manga for sale on their site.
 
💛 The manga is in English. 

💛The manga is an adaptation of Hell & High Water. It contains adult language, adult situations, and sexual content. It is not suitable for children.

💛 Due to production costs, there are no plans to adapt the rest of the series into manga. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me: charlie@charliecochet.com

To preview of the manga, please visit any of the links above (there is a color PDF for the hardback and a black & white PDF for the paperback), simply pick the format you want from the dropdown menu on the right-hand side.

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