Category - Flash Fiction

Therians Gone Wild over at Literary Escapism

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Hello, all! To celebrate my attending Coastal Magic in Daytona in Feb, I'm over at Literary Escapism where the THIRDS gang head to the beach for a little fun in the sun.

Check out the shenanigans here: http://www.literaryescapism.com/49017/at-the-cmcon17-beach-with-therians-gone-wild-by-charlie-cochet


THIRDS Thursday - 8/15/16

THIRDS Thursdays Prompt: Don't know if this has been suggested before, but I'd love to see something more about Dex's adoption from the beginning ...how Tony handled breaking the news /asking?/ a 5 year old Dex to be his adopted son / his parent's death.

“I can’t do it.”

His voice didn’t sound like his own. But then this life wasn’t his. It was someone else’s. This happened to other people. It was the kind of earthshattering news he’d had the misfortune of delivering to others. He wasn’t supposed to be on this end of things. It was a selfish thought, but right now he just didn’t give a shit. In fact, if it were up to him, he’d disappear for God knew how long, but he couldn’t, because as bad as it was right now, it was about to get so much worse.

Tony sat in his car, in the same spot he had for the last two hours. His vision was blurry, his eyes burned, and his hands wouldn’t stop shaking. He was a fucking mess. Broken. For the last two days he’d gone through a host of emotions. His initial reaction being anger. He’d been so goddamned pissed off at John for leaving him. Every swear word he’d ever known had crossed his lips, directed at his best friend. Tony was angry at Gina too. Angry she’d left her little boy behind. She’d been his best friend. But John had been his life. Tony let out a harsh laugh. God, he was so fucking pathetic. He’d let that part of him—along with John—go a long time ago.

The moment John met Gina, Tony knew that was it, and he was happy for John, truly was. Having John and Gina in his life was a blessing, one he never took for granted. The three of them had become a family. Tony had never, ever resented Gina. There was no one more perfect for John. When Dex came along, Tony couldn’t have been happier for them. Fatherhood suited John.

Fresh tears filled Tony’s eyes and he slammed his hands on the steering wheel.

“You son of a bitch! How could you do this to me? To your son?” He let his head fall against the steering wheel and cried for what seemed like the hundredth time since he’d identified the bodies. He’d refused to believe it at first. Convinced himself it couldn’t be them. When the police had shown up that night, Tony believed they’d made a mistake. Regardless, he called his sister to come take care of Dex while he got to the bottom of whatever the hell was going on. He’d never get the image out of his head. John on that slab of steel with a blanket over him, a bullet hole in his chest, right through his heart.

Breathe. Come on, damn it.

A tap on his window scared the hell out of him, and without thinking, he swiped his gun from his holster and aimed at the window. His sister jumped, and threw her hands up, fear in her big brown eyes. Cursing under his breath, he returned the gun to his holster, then wiped at his eyes. He opened the car door, stepped outside, and closed it.

“I’m sorry,” he said with a sniff, trying his hardest not to fall apart again. “Thank you, for uh,” he cleared his throat, “watching him.”

His sister nodded, and he had to look away so he wouldn’t see the pain in her eyes.

“I can’t do this, Danelle.” His bottom lip trembled, and blinked back more tears. “I can’t go in there, and—” He shook his head. “I’m not strong enough.”

“You gotta be, honey. That little boy needs you.” She put her hand to his cheek, and he closed his eyes.

“He needs his father,” Tony replied through his teeth, his hands balled into fists at his sides.

“Anthony, you’re that boy’s daddy now.”

Tony shook his head. “No. I’m not. John’s—”

“Dead.”

Tony flinched. He wanted to yell at her for saying that, but she was right. No matter how much he wished it wasn’t true, John was gone. Dex needed him. A tear rolled down his cheek, and he choked on his words.

“He’s just a little boy. How—Oh God.” He covered his face with his hand, his whole body shaking. Criminals he could face. Lethal Therians. Whatever the streets threw at him, he could face. But tell a five-year-old the parents who loved him more than air itself were gone? How could anyone ask that of him?

Danelle wrapped him up in her arms, and he held on tight, grateful he wasn’t alone. She murmured words of comfort, and he lost track of how long he’d held on. He couldn’t put it off anymore. Dex was inside with his neighbor's daughter. It was time.

Thinking of Dex, of how small and vulnerable he was, of how hurt and confused he would be, how much he would need Tony was what kept him on his feet. He took a deep steady breath, wiped his eyes, and reached deep down for strength he feared he might not have.  Even if he didn’t, he better damn well find it.

Tony walked into his house, and headed upstairs for the spare bedroom where he knew he’d find Dex. From the landing he could hear Dex’s giggles and childish shrieks as he played. Tony stopped in the doorway, and it took everything he had not to turn around and run. Teresa was tickling Dex, and he squirmed on the floor, hugging his Braveheart Lion to his little chest as he laughed. Tony closed his eyes for a moment, praying for strength.

Dex spotted him, and let out a squeal of delight. “Uncle Tony!” He scrambled to his feet, and Tony walked into the room, nodding at Teresa his thanks before she left the room, closing the door gently behind her. Tony sat down on the carpet, his back to the bed as Dex threw himself into Tony’s outstretched arms. He hugged Dex tight, willing himself not to lose it now. Not when Dex needed him most. Dex pulled back, his little face falling as he pet Tony’s head.

“Why are you crying?”

Always such a sharp little guy. Tony gave a sniff, and let out a shaky breath. “I’m crying,” he said, his voice shaky, “because something happened, and I wish it hadn’t, but there’s nothing I can do to change that. I want you to know that I love you, and I will always love you.”

Dex nodded. “What happened?”

Jesus. “Dex, you know how me and your daddy help people?”

Another nod. Dex’s gaze was fixed on him. Tony tried not to think about how those big blue eyes would never look at the world the same way again.

“And you know how he told you about the people we tried to help but couldn’t?”

“Daddy says sometimes bad things happen to good people.”

“That’s right. It’s not fair, and it hurts, and we wish so very much it wasn’t like that, but we do our best to help the people who loved them. The ones who’ll miss them the most.” Tony braced himself. “Dex, something bad happened at the movies. Your mommy and daddy were hurt very bad. They….”

Dex’s eyes went wide, and he stilled.

“They’re not coming back, baby. It’s just me and you now. I’m sorry.”

Dex shook his head vigorously. “That’s not true.”

“I wish it wasn’t.” Tony couldn’t keep the tears back any longer. He tried so damn hard, but he couldn’t. Not when he could see Dex’s little heart shatter.

Dex’s face crumbled, tears filled his eyes, and his face went red as he let out a high-pitched shriek. “No!”

“Dex,” Tony said gently, trying to bring him close. Apparently there were still remains of a heart left to break, because it happened all over again as Dex screamed “No” repeatedly. When Tony tried to reach for him, Dex hit him with his stuffed toy.

“You’re lying! I want my mommy!” Dex screamed, his voice getting hoarse as he continued to scream through his tears. He didn’t want to be touched, and Tony didn’t try to force him. When screaming for his mother didn’t conjure her up, Dex turned to Tony. “Fix it!”

“I wish I could,” Tony said, clawing to keep hold of the lone thread holding him from tumbling into the abyss.

Dex dropped to his knees in front of Tony, and he held Braveheart out to him as he gasped and gulped for air through his sobs.

“You can… have Braveheart. Please. Fix it. Tony… please.”

“Baby, I wish I could. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He’d never felt more like a failure in his life, and it was illogical, but the fact that Dex believed he could bring his parents back all but undid him. Dex’s eyes clouded over, anger filling the big pools of blue, and it scared Tony. Something inside him snapped, and Tony sat up. He took hold of Dex and pulled him into his embrace. Dex struggled at first, but Tony held him.

“I love you, and I promise whatever you need, I will be here. I know it hurts so very bad. I know you’re scared, and angry, but you’re not alone. I’m here, and we’re going to get through this together. Me, and you.”

Dex threw his arms around Tony, squeezing as he sobbed into Tony’s neck. “Don’t… go… away.”

“I swear I’ll do everything in my power to always be with you.” As he made his promise to Dex, he made a promise to Gina and John. He’d raise Dex as his own, love him as he deserved to be love, and help guide him, help him grow up to be the kind of man his parents would be proud of.

Dex trembled in his arms, and Tony grabbed the blanket from the bed. He wrapped the blanket around them as best he could with one hand then lay on his side and curled himself around Dex.

“We’ll be okay, baby. I won’t let anything happen to you,” he promised. Dex was asleep in his arms, and Tony started to fade. He swore to himself that no matter what happened, he would give this little boy the life he deserved, full of love and happiness. If anyone tried to hurt Dex, they’d deal with him. Tony kissed the top of Dex’s head, and thought of John. His best friend had entrusted him with the most precious gift he’d been blessed with. Tony would never forget that.

The road ahead was terrifying, filled with all kinds of obstacles he’d never faced before. Parenthood was something he hadn’t given much thought to, and now here he was, father to a grieving little boy. Tony would show Dex how to survive in a world that took his mommy and daddy away. The world was trying to tear itself apart with hate, prejudice, and violence. It was up to Tony to give Dex hope. To help him heal, and prove to him that the love he has inside him will help change the world. John was a beacon of light in the darkness, his optimism, courage, and sense of justice unrivaled by anyone Tony ever met. Dex had the same light inside of him. Tony would do everything in his power to make sure that light was never extinguished.

“I won’t let you down,” he murmured. I’ll be strong for the both of us. “I promise.”


Copyright © 2016 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

THIRDS Thursday - 9/22/16 Thick & Thin Excerpt

THIRDS Thursdays

Hello, all! Here's a snippet from Thick & Thin (Sequel to Smoke & Mirrors) which was recently contracted by Dreamspinner Press and due for release in Feb 2017. Thick & Thin is a novella which continues where Smoke & Mirrors left off. In this scene, the team has been called out to Greenpoint, which also happened to be Dex's first real call out back when he started on Destructive Delta. My how things have changed.


“You okay?”

Dex clipped Sloane’s PSTC kit to his tactical backpack. He smiled at Sloane. “Let’s do this.”

“Hey.” Sloane pulled him close, placing a gloved hand to Dex’s cheek. “You don’t have to pretend with me, you know that?”

“I’m a little nervous,” Dex admitted. “But I’ll be okay. Be careful out there, okay?”

“You too.” Sloane gave his lips a quick, but sweet kiss before he slipped behind the privacy screen.

Okay, Daley. Get your shit together. Time to pull his head out of his ass and get to work. He lowered his visor, and grabbed his tranq rifle from the weapons cage. Securing it closed, he met Rosa’s concerned gaze through the rearview mirror and gave her a wink. His team needed him.

“We’ll be back before you know it, Rosita bonita.”

“You better. Go kick some ass.”

Sloane’s pained groans and roars resounded through the closed truck, and Dex closed his eyes for a moment, letting the sound wash over him. His muscles tensed, and he gritted his teeth at the pulse of pain that spread through him. His muscles twitched, and he breathed out slowly through his mouth. Sloane’s Therian roar did something to Dex, and his eyes snapped open. His heart raced, and his pulse picked up. The pain in his body eased, and Dex hit the button to raise the privacy screen. Sloane’s fur bristled, and he lowered his head, his ears flat against his head. Why the hell was Sloane hissing at him?

Dex crouched down so they were at eye level. “What’s going on, babe?”

Another hiss left Sloane before he gingerly approached Dex, sniffing him, as if he didn’t recognize Dex. What the hell? Dex remained perfectly still as Sloane circled him. He sniffed at Dex, before pushing his nose against Dex’s cheek. Dex put his hand on Sloane’s head, and gave him a scratch.

“You had me worried for a second there.” Dex stood, and Sloane rubbed his head against Dex as he circled him, leaving his scent. When he was done, he padded to the end of the truck. Dex opened the door, and they hopped out.

“Took you long enough,” Letty grumbled. “We doing this or what?”

“You got a date or something,” Calvin teased, scratching Hobbs behind his ear. Hobbs let out a chuff, and playfully bumped his head into Calvin’s leg. “Planning on having a little Sci-fi marathon?”

“Shut up, Cal.” Letty cursed at him in Spanish before marching off ahead of them, Ash on her heels. What the hell was that about? Dex arched an eyebrow at Calvin. Mischief filled his friend’s blue eyes and Dex gasped.

“Oh, sweet baby Jesus, you found out Dimples’ name!”

Calvin grinned broadly, and wriggled his eyebrows. “He called this morning for Letty, and Lisa put the call through to me by accident. We had a friendly chat.”

“You ladies coming, or you gonna stand around all day gossiping?” Letty growled at them. Ooh, she was so not happy with Calvin. This was awesome.


THIRDS Thursday - 9/29/16

THIRDS Thursdays Prompt: After reading Smoke & Mirrors I would love to get Ash's POV when he notices how Dex's scent has changed while he's on the dance floor. OR the fact he took him gummie bears. His thoughts had to be interesting and/or hilarious! 

“Remind me again why we couldn’t just stay in bed?”

Ash nuzzled the side of Cael’s head, his arms wrapped around Cael from behind as they rode the elevator up to Unit Alpha. There was no one in the elevator with them and Ash didn’t really give a shit what the cameras picked up. Their shift didn’t technically start for another fifteen minutes.

“Because we have jobs,” Cael replied with a chuckle.

Ash grunted. He moved a hand up over Cael’s chest, smiling when Cael covered it with his and let his head fall back against Ash’s chest, his face tilted up so he could gaze at Ash with those big silver eyes.

Damn, he was beautiful.

“I think we need to win the lottery so I can keep you in bed as long as I want.” Ash moved his other hand to Cael’s slender neck, caressing Cael’s soft skin with his thumb.

“I’ll get right on that,” Cael hummed.

Ash waggled his eyebrows. “Oh there’s something much better and harder that I’d rather you get right on.”

Cael gasped, his cheeks turning a lovely shade of pink before he laughed and turned in Ash’s arms, smacking his chest playfully. “You perv. We’re about to start our shift, and you’re trying to give me a boner.”

“Trying?” Ash squeezed one of Cael’s ass cheeks. “I must be losing my touch.”

Cael laughed and squirmed as Ash planted a sloppy kiss on his cheek. The elevator doors opened, and Ash followed Cael out. He stepped into Unit Alpha only to reel back, his heart pounding fiercely in his chest.

“Fuck.”

“Ash? What’s wrong?” Cael was at his side, his hand on Ash’s bicep.

Ash’s knees buckled, and he braced himself against the wall out in the corridor. It was like a wave of heartache and anguish was rolling over him, crashing into him over and over.

“Do you feel that?” He asked, breathless.

“Feel what? Ash, you’re scaring me.” Cael cupped Ash’s face, concern and fear in his eyes. “Talk to me.”

It was suffocating. Inescapable. He doubled over, bracing his hands on his knees and breathing deeply. Tears stung at the back of his eyes and he couldn’t explain it. What the hell was wrong with him? It was crushing. Everything sharpened around him, and he rubbed at his chest. It was like his heart was… broken. His eyes widened, and he pushed away from the wall, hurrying through unit Alpha.

“Ash?” Cael trailed after him. “Ash, please say something.”

Ash didn’t stop until he reached the office, but it was empty. The fog of pain was closer, the pulse deeper, rippling through every muscle. Stepping up to the doorway of the small canteen, he found the source of what he was feeling.

Dex sat at a small table at the end of the room nursing a cup of coffee. He looked like shit, his hair a tousled mess, dark circles around his reddened eyes. On top of that, Ash couldn’t smell Sloane on him. Ash grabbed Cael before he could say anything, and dragged him down the hall.

“It’s him.”

Cael’s brow furrowed. “I don’t understand.”

“Your brother, Cael.” Ash did his best to explain what he was feeling. Or at least what he had been feeling. Right now it was different. What he’d experienced before dulled, and now… now he had this overwhelming urge to… comfort.

“You want to comfort him?” Cael blinked up at him. “Dex. My brother. The man whose name tape you replaced on his uniform with one that said “Menace”. You want to comfort him?”

“I don’t want to,” Ash growled quietly. “I feel like I need to.” His inner lion was awake inside him, pacing and wailing. “Fuck, it’s annoying. My Therian half is pissed I’m not in there with him. I—” He was cut off when several Therian agents from their unit headed toward them. They were all carrying snacks, or cups of coffee. To Ash’s surprise, they all went into the canteen. Ash darted over to peek inside. The agents all took a seat at the table with Dex. One put a hand on his arm, another his shoulder. One took his hand and spoke gently. Ash couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

Holy fuck.

A shadow loomed over him, before a deep gravelly voice said, “Excuse me.”

Ash turned his head up, staring wide-eyed at the huge bear Therian.

“Zach? What are you doing up here?”

Zach brows drew together, concern etched on his usually stern face. He showed Ash the packet of Cheesy Doodles in his large hand.

“I came to give this to Dex. I thought it might make him feel better.”

Ash’s jaw dropped. Without another word, Zach went into the canteen.

“Well that was weird,” Cael said before it occurred to him. “You think Zach and the others are feeling the same thing you are? Like they need to comfort Dex?”

“It’s the only thing that makes sense.” Ash gritted his teeth and marched toward his office, grateful Letty was busy doing inventory checks this morning. He really didn’t need his partner asking questions about this madness. He dropped into his chair, and tried to make sense of what he was feeling, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t figure it out. Why now?

“It’s like that night at the club, but different.”

Cael wrinkled his nose. “Yeah, that wasn’t fun.”

Ash grunted. Feeling Dex’s… heat had been one of the most awkward, uncomfortable things he’d ever felt. Unlike the other Therians in the club who’d wanted to fuck Dex, Ash wanted to protect him. Like his Therian half knew his friend’s mate was vulnerable, needy, and since Dex was the last person on earth Ash wanted to fuck, his instinct had been to make sure nothing and no one came between Dex and his mate, but still, the heat had been almost unbearable, but this? This was so much worse.

Ash stood and started to pace. “This is fucking shit. I don’t wanna,” he moaned. He turned to Cael. God he sounded so whiney! “Why do I have to fucking comfort him? He’s Sloane’s boyfriend. That asshole. He should be here dealing with this shit.”

Cael walked up to him, stood on his toes, and gave his lips a quick but heated kiss. “I’ll keep an eye on Dex, you just… talk to Sloane. And don’t be mean to Dex. He’s feeling shitty as it is.”

“Fine,” Ash muttered, watching Cael go.

Work. Work would take his mind off this bullshit. He took a seat at his desk, logged into Themis, and brought up his emails. There were the usual shit ton. “Fantastic.” He could lose himself in answering stupid people’s stupid questions. Seriously, why did he have to get copied in on all of Sloane’s emails? Yeah, he was backup Team Leader when Sloane wasn’t around, but Jesus, the inane questions Sloane was asked about random shit from PR and HR, and all the fucking ‘Rs’.

His knee bounced as he read the first email, and he couldn’t stop thinking about Dex’s stupid face. He looked so… sad.

“Holy fuck, really? Sad?” Ash growled, and shook his head. “Get your shit together, Keeler.” Sloane’s drama was of his own making. Let him sort that shit out. It wasn’t his job to coddle Dex and tell him it was going to be all right, that Sloane would come around, and why the fuck was he still thinking about this? “Fuck this.” He stood and stormed out of the office to the canteen. Dex was still inside looking like a lost, homeless puppy left out in the rain. The rest of their fellow agents had gone. Ash marched over to Dex to loom over him.

Dex looked up at him, his big blue eyes wide and glassy.

“Fuuuuuck,” Ash growled. He went to the vending machine, swiped his card, jabbed his fingers against the screen’s shiny blue buttons. A packet dropped, and he swiped it up before marching over to Dex. He thrust them out at him. “Here.”

Dex blinked at him. He looked down at the packet of gummy bears then up at Ash. “What’s happening?”

“I don’t fucking know, just take the damned bears.”

“Uh, oookay.” Dex took the bag, his eyes narrowed.

“Fine.” Ash spun around and started to walk out when his inner Felid roared. “Oh, for fuck’s sake.” He went back to Dex, his jaw clenched. He put a hand to Dex’s shoulder. Dex stared at it. “It’s going to be okay.”

Dex opened his mouth to speak, then closed it. His eyes were huge. “I'm a little terrified right now.”

That made two of them. Now what? Come on, man. I’ve comforted. What more do you fucking want from me? He asked his Therian half. His Therian half didn’t want to leave him on his own. Mother—

A knock got Ash’s attention, and he turned to find Hobbs standing shyly by the door. He smiled, and waved.

“Oh, thank fuck.” Ash jogged over, moved behind Hobbs, and pushed his big tiger Therian ass toward Dex. “Go do that hugging shit you do, and make him feel better.” He didn’t even bother to wait for a reaction from Hobbs, just made like the wind. There. He’d done his part. He’d comforted, and no one other than Dex was the wiser, and if he said anything, Ash would deny it. Who would believe Dex anyway? It was fine. If anyone was stupid enough to believe it, Ash would simply have to destroy them. He was so going to kick Sloane’s ass.


Copyright © 2016 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.


THIRDS Thursday - 10/6/16

THIRDS Thursdays *** Contains spoilers for Smoke & Mirrors (Book 7) *** Prompt: After Sloane breaks up with Dex in the 7th book, Cael goes to comfort Dex, so I wanted the scene taking place between them...Does Dex get sick because he thinks his mate's left him? Something along those lines. Preferably from Cael's POV (but either will do).

Cael was fuming.

When the cab pulled up outside Dex’s house, Cael did his best not to slam the car door behind him. He paid the driver and thanked him before marching up Dex’s front steps. Ooh, he just wanted to plant a fist in Sloane’s stupid nose. How could the guy just walk out on Dex like that? And everyone said Ash was an asshole. Ash would never walk out on Cael. Maybe at one point he might have, but not anymore.

Ash wasn’t the kind of guy to back away from a fight, whether he was in the wrong or not. That was the difference between Ash and Sloane. When Sloane was hurt, he wanted to be alone to lick his wounds, so he went off to find somewhere he could do that. With Ash, he stayed put, and if you knew what was good for you, you would be the one to give him space, but if you didn’t, he would go on brooding whether or not you were there. These days, Ash talked more. If Cael was upset about something, Ash talked it through with him, helping Cael calmly explain what was wrong, and what Ash could to help, or how they could do things differently the next time around.

Cael was going to fish in his pocket for the spare keys he had to Dex’s place when the door was thrown open.

“Sloane?”

Cael looked up at Dex and all of Cael’s anger melted away. He’d never seen his big brother look so… fragile, so lost. Unable to find the right words to say in that moment, Cael threw his arms around Dex and hugged him tight. They stood like that for what seemed like hours, Dex’s face buried in Cael’s hair. It was only when Dex shuddered that Cael realized his big brother had been silently crying. Cael rubbed circles over Dex’s back, imagining the pain his brother must be in. Dex’s boyfriend hadn’t just walked out on him. His mate had walked out on him.  The pull between bonded mates was so much deeper. Emotions ran higher, hotter, and the pain far more intense.

When Dex was ready, he pulled away, giving Cael a wobbly smile that broke Cael’s heart. His big brother was always the one Cael leaned on. The one who made everything better. Dex was unbreakable. Cael had never seen Dex not bounce back, a big boyish smile on his face. It might take some time, but Dex always bounced back. This time, Cael wasn’t so sure, and he hated it. Hated that Sloane had left his big brother all alone and in pain.

“Hi, Chirpy.” Dex stepped to one side so Cael could come in.

Inside the living room, Cael’s heart squeezed at the nest of blankets and pillows Dex had on the couch. The coffee table was littered with snacks, from his favorite gummy bears and Cheesy Doodles, to cupcakes and chocolate. The Princess Bride was paused on the huge flat screen TV.

Dex finished locking up and joined Cael in the living room. It was the middle of summer, but Dex had the AC cranked up. He had fuzzy socks on his feet, Star Wars pajama bottoms, and a plain black T-shirt that was too big for him and obviously Sloane’s. As if reading his thoughts, Dex put a hand to his chest and rubbed the T-shirt, a sad smile on his face.

“I know, I’m a dork, but….” He sighed heavily. “It make it hurt a little less.”

Cael nodded his understanding. He waited for Dex to climb on the couch, wrapping himself up then holding one side open for Cael. Cael toed off his sneakers then climbed up, snuggling up close to Dex when his brother wrapped the blanket around them.

“This reminds me of when we were kids,” Cael said with a smile. “When there was a bad storm and you’d make a fort out of the couch cushions, blankets, and pillows, then you’d read stories. Dad would make us s’mores and hot chocolate, then take over for you, and we’d both fall asleep to him reading.”

Dex sighed. “Yeah. I miss those days.”

“Me too.” They were both quiet, and Cael could feel his brother wanted to say something, so he waited patiently.

“Did you see him?” Dex asked, his voice quiet.

Cael nodded, feeling himself getting angry again. “He’s staying on Ash’s couch.”

“Sorry.”

Cael pulled back and frowned up at his brother. “Why are you apologizing for him? He’s the one who left.” Dex flinched, and Cael kicked himself. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean….”

“It’s okay.” Dex’s eyes were red and glassy, his hair a mess, and his skin flushed. He’d clearly had a good cry long before Cael showed up. “And you’re right. I just can’t help worrying about him despite everything. Was he okay?”

Cael’s expression softened. Trust his brother to be worried about Sloane after the guy had ripped his heart out. “He looked rough,” Cael admitted. He folded his arms over his chest. “I know he’s your mate, and that you still love him no matter how pissed off you are at him, but, Dex, I really want to punch him. I can’t believe he did this to you, after everything.” Cael could feel the heat rising in his cheeks. He was so mad. “It was his idea to move in together, he agreed to mark you, he promised he would be here for you, and he’s doing what he always does. I thought he’d changed.”

“He has,” Dex assured him. “For the most part. This was just, I don’t know. It’s different. Bigger. I’m not saying I’m not pissed off, because I am, but to be honest, it’s being drowned out by all the hurt. My mind is indignant, but my body….” Dex put a hand to his heart, rubbing the spot as if it were sore. “It fucking hurts so bad, Chirpy. It just refuses to listen to my head. I tell myself we’ll work it out, that he’s not gone for good, but my body is buzzing with need, and I don’t mean sex.” He moved his hand to his marked arm. “It burns, and I’m hit with these waves of nausea. They don’t last long, but at first, I kept getting sick, and dizzy.” He let his head fall back with a sigh. “I don’t know what to do, and that’s a new thing for me. This is all new.” Dex swallowed hard, blinking past the tears in his eyes.

“He’s it for me, Cael. I can’t imagine my life without him. I didn’t even know you could love someone this much. It’s scary. It could be the mark, or it could just be my stupid heart.” He straightened and looked down at Cael. “I fucking adore him, with all his faults, just the way he is. Yeah, I wish he hadn’t walked out, and as much as I want to kick his ass….” Tears welled in his eyes again, and Cael put a hand to Dex’s shoulder. “I just want him home, Chirpy.”

Cael didn’t hesitate. He wrapped Dex in his arms, offering what comfort he could. Closing his eyes, he prayed that Sloane would come to his senses, work through his shit, and come home to Dex. Didn’t Sloane realize what he had? How madly head over heels Dex was for him? How many times could the guy break Dex’s heart? For now, all Cael could do was be here for his big brother, just like Dex had always been there for him.


Copyright © 2016 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.


THIRDS Beyond the Books: Volume 2 Release Day!

Hello all! THIRDS Beyond the Books: Volume 2 is here! I’m so excited to be sharing with you the next fun collection of THIRDS flash fiction stories! This volume includes stories that follow the THIRDS series timeline up to Catch a Tiger by the Tail (THIRDS, Book 6). It also includes an unpublished flash fiction story.

ABOUT THE BOOK THIRDSbeyond-Vol2_300

Genre: Paranormal Gay Romance, Shifters Length: Novella Published: Oct 12th, 2016 Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Cover Artist: L.C. Chase Ebook ISBN-13: 9781634773089

Return to the THIRDS universe with another collection of flash fiction stories inspired by prompts submitted by fans. Reunite with favorite THIRDS characters to explore even more of their hidden adventures and personal moments, and take the opportunity to learn more about them through this series of stories recounting the humor, heartbreak, friendship, hardship, and love these characters experience behind the scenes. Complete your THIRDS experience with these tales of stolen moments.

** All royalties earned from THIRDS Beyond the Books are being donated to Big Cat Rescue. goodreads-badge-add-plus

BUY LINKS

Dreamspinner Press eBook | Amazon Kindle | All Romance eBooks | Barnes & Noble H&HWDestructive Delta Divider SeriesOrder

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)

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THIRDS Thursday - 10/13/16

THIRDS Thursdays *** Warning: Contains spoilers from Smoke & Mirrors (THIRDS, Book 7) *** Prompt: Would it be possible to get a THIRDS Thursday of Dex's second seizure from Austen's POV?

“Turn off the lamp.”

Shit.

Austen heard Dex’s sleepy mumble in his earpiece, and sprang to action. He didn’t want to do this, didn’t want to be there when it happened, but he would. For Sloane. And okay, yeah, Dex too. The guy had grown on him. But really, for Sloane because the guy was going to be so fucking scared, and Austen couldn’t stand the thought of leaving Sloane to face what was coming alone.

It took him seconds to break into the house. The street was silent, all the good citizens asleep in their beds dreaming of their 401k or whether they were getting enough fiber. He locked the door behind him before making his way through the dark house, up the stairs to the closed bedroom door.

“Dex, what’s wrong?”

Austen slipped inside the room, closing the door as Dex spoke.

“Why’s it so bright in here?”

Austen crouched, and made his way over to the nightstand, first Dex’s, and then Sloane’s, confiscating their phones. Hospitals were out of the question. Not unless they wanted Dex to end up dead like the others. Damn it, Sloane. Why did you have to go and mark him? Austen pocketed the phones as he ducked behind the armchair before Sloane turned on the bedside lamp.

“Tell me what you’re feeling. Talk to me.”

Austen counted the seconds. It was about to happen, just as Sparks said. Son of a bitch. He’d hoped she was wrong. That she was full of shit and just getting him to spy on Dex, but… fuck. This was going to be hard. First Dex’s temperature would skyrocket, then his pupils would dilate, followed by chest pains.

“Fuck,” Dex wheezed.

“Dex, talk to me. You’re scaring the shit out of me.”

“I feel weird.”

Austen closed his eyes, breathing in deeply through his nose, and letting his breath out slowly, silently through his mouth. If it had been anyone else, no problem. Austen could blink and detach himself from a situation, close the door to any emotion that might threaten him, and endanger his mission. Had it been anyone else, he would have sauntered through the door, taken a seat, and just waited for the shit to hit the fan. No, that wasn’t true. If it had been anyone else, he wouldn’t be here.

The thrashing started, and Austen winced. Dex’s inhuman cry crawled under his skin, and Sloane shouting Dex’s name brought a hitch to his breath. He hated hearing Sloane sound so afraid. Austen turned his head up, silently cursing the heavens. Hadn’t the guy been through enough? How much more would he have to suffer?

Cut him a fucking break, huh?

Dex would fight the pain like he did the first time. At least Sloane was here with him. Austen had fucked up so bad. Sloane he had no choice in. He was stuck on the guy since they’d met. A tiny part of him still loved Sloane, but that love was changing, becoming more… affectionate. He wasn’t that pining teenager anymore. Regardless, Sloane was and would always be a part of his life. What Austen hadn’t meant to do was let Dex in. Fuck that Cheesy Doodle crunching asshole. Why did he have to be such a good guy? Why did he have to be so perfect for Sloane? Austen wanted to dislike him on principle, but he couldn’t. Over the years, Dex had wormed his way into Austen’s heart like a stray dog that follows you home, looking up at you with big hopeful eyes, wagging its tail and wanting nothing more than to love you.

Dex pissed him off. Despite all the shit Austen did, breaking into their house, eating his snacks, purposefully spying on him and making sure he knew it, the guy still liked Austen. Why? Why hadn’t Dex told Sloane to leave Austen behind? Dex knew how Austen felt. What kind of boyfriend was he?

Frantic movement told him Sloane was about to lose his shit.

“It was right there.”

Yes, it was, buddy. Now it was in his pocket.

“He’ll be fine.” Austen stood, smiling sadly as he watched Dex. He couldn’t look at Sloane. Not yet.

“Austen? You need to help me. We need to call emergency services.”

Austen shook his head. “You need to let this play out.” I’m sorry. Please don’t hate me. This was one of those moments where he questioned what he was doing with TIN. With his life. Someone he cared deeply about was in pain, begging him for help, and he couldn’t do anything because it wasn’t about the now, it was about what needed to happen, about the end game, and it boiled Austen’s blood.

Sloane wasn’t ready to hear the truth of what was happening to the man he loved, that it was his blood that was causing this. All Austen could do was protect Sloane, and prolong his heartbreak, because when the truth came out, Sloane’s heart would break. Austen prayed that Sloane and Dex’s relationship would be able to withstand the fallout. More importantly, he prayed Dex would survive what was happening to him.

“Are you out of your mind?” Sloane thrust a hand in Dex’s direction. “Look at him!” Sloane ran over to Dex’s side of the bed. Dex’s phone was gone. His head shot up, and he stared at Austen.

“You took them.”

“It’s a seizure,” Austen said gently. “Sort of. He’s had one before. You need to let it play out.”

“What?” Sloane shook his head. “That’s not possible. I would have known if this had happened before.” He quickly returned to Dex’s side, Austen joining him. “Dex would have told me.”

“He didn’t tell you because he couldn’t remember.” He braced himself.

“Explain,” Sloane growled.

“The other day, when you called him from work and he told you he must have fallen asleep. He’d had a similar episode. TIN was immediately on the scene, and Sparks was called in. They took care of him.”

“Why wasn’t I told?”

Sloane gave a start at Dex’s anguished cry, and he climbed onto the bed, kneeling beside Dex and running a hand over his head. “It’s okay, sweetheart. You can get through this. I’m right here with you.”

Tears streamed down the side of Dex’s face, and Austen clenched his jaw, forcing his emotions deep down inside him. Austen made the mistake of looking at Sloane, and it took everything he had not to run. Sloane wasn’t supposed to hurt like this. He’d always been larger than life, a strong, fierce jaguar Therian with a tender heart. A guy who could have thrown Austen away like everyone else in Austen’s life had, but he didn’t. He’d done so much for Austen, and now all Austen could offer was comfort. Fuck. It was hard, seeing Sloane look so helpless.

“There has to be something I can do,” Sloane pleaded.

“All you can do is comfort him. It’ll pass.”

“And if it doesn’t?” Sloane growled, his eyes meeting Austen’s. “I can’t just—”

“It will pass, Sloane. You’ll put him in more danger if you send him to the hospital.”

“Austen….”

Austen carefully put his palm to Dex’s brow, smiling warmly down at him. “You can do this, Dex.” He had faith in him. Dex was strong, stronger than any Human had the right to be. Austen had watched stunned at the way Dex had swept into the lives of his teammates. A whirlwind of jokes, unhealthy snacks, and cheesy 80s music. If Austen hadn’t seen it with his own eyes, he wouldn’t have believed it. In fact, he hadn’t. When Sparks told him to keep an eye on Dex, that he was important, Austen had scoffed. He remembered his own words.

This joker? Are you fucking kidding me?

Dex had proved him wrong. He’d shown Austen what it was to be a real friend. To take a broken, wounded man and not just mend him, but inspire him to be an even greater man. Austen knew what Dex meant to Sloane. He looked up at the man who had rescued him from a life he didn’t want to even think about.

“I would never lie to you, Sloane.”

“What do I do?”

Austen hated that he could see the uncertainty in Sloane’s eyes. As much as Sloane trusted Austen, Austen worked for TIN. It hurt, but Austen didn’t blame him. “Sloane. Trust me.”

Sloane looked up, and Austen hoped the sincerity in his voice, their history together, would be enough for Sloane to take a chance on him.

“Let him know you’re here,” Austen said.

Sloane did his best to soothe Dex. He ran his hand over Dex’s head, his words soft as he spoke. “It’s okay. You’ll be okay, sweetheart. I’m here. I’m right here with you.”

Dex’s chest rose and fell with short, rapid breaths, his pupils blown, and his terrified gaze on Sloane. It looked horrific. Like he was at death’s door. Tears pooled in Sloane’s eyes, and Austen curled his hands into fists until his nails dug into his palms. Sloane brought Dex’s fingers to his lips for a kiss.

What would it feel like, to be loved like that? To be looked at as if you were the only man who existed, the only one who mattered?

“If you’re wrong,” Sloane choked out, his eyes on Dex as he addressed Austen, “I’ll never forgive you.”

Austen swallowed hard. “I know.” There was so much he wanted to say, but now was not the time. All he could do was stand here, an intruder. Austen looked around the bedroom, at Dex and Sloane’s clothes neatly folded on the armchair, Sloane’s boots by the closet, his uniform shirt hanging from the hook, freshly cleaned and ironed. It was all so domestic. So… normal.

“Dex, I’m here. You’ll be okay. You can do this.”

Dex gasped, clawing at the sheets as his back arched again. Another cry tore from his lips, and Sloane grabbed hold of him. He held on to Dex, shutting his eyes tight as Dex screamed again. Then he went limp in Sloane’s arms.

God, he hated this part.

“Dex?” Sloane gently laid Dex back down on the bed. His eyes were closed, and his chest had stopped moving, or so it appeared. “Dex? Baby, please!” Sloane felt for a pulse. Austen knew he wouldn’t find one. “Dex!” Sloane jumped off the bed and ran to the closet where his medical bag was.

Dex gasped, and Sloane turned, rushing back to his side. He cupped Dex’s face. He looked so relieved, so damn happy.

“Oh, thank God.”

Sloane climbed onto the bed and drew Dex into his arms, running a hand down his back as Dex cried against his shoulder. Sloane joined him, tears escaping his amber eyes. Austen had never seen Sloane look more terrified. Sloane closed his eyes tight, and Austen took hold of the covers to pull them snugly around them. Then he returned the cellphones in his pocket to nightstands, and he walked out of the room, closing the door behind him.

Austen quickly left the house, his chest feeling tight. He told himself over and over that it would be okay. Dex would be okay. Sloane’s blood was changing him, and as fucking terrifying as the seizures were, it meant his body was fighting, fighting to stay alive. If anyone could survive this, it would be Dex. They just had to keep an eye on him, and make sure he didn’t go to any hospitals or he’d end up in the morgue.

The cool breeze felt good against his face as he walked briskly down the sidewalk. His earpiece beeped, and he tapped it, answering with a growl.

“What?”

“How’s Dex?”

Austen blinked back his tears. “Alive. How much longer is this going to go on? It’s fucking killing them, and for all we know it actually is killing Dex.”

“Dex is stronger than he looks.”

“And if he’s not?” Austen hissed. “You assured me…. Sloane can’t lose him. You saw what happened when he lost Gabe. If he loses Dex…. Fuck. It'll destroy him. He’ll never come back from that.” Austen was shivering, which was really something, considering it was the middle of fucking summer.

“They’ll get through this.”

“Because you say so?” Austen let out a sound of disgust. “If you’re wrong—”

“How long are you going to feel indebted to Sloane Brodie? Or is it because you still love him?”

“Fuck you,” Austen spat out. He didn’t give a shit who Sparks was. “He’s the closest thing to family I have. The only one who gives a shit about me. You knew that from the day we met.”

“Austen, don’t make me question your loyalty.”

Ice filled Austen’s veins, and when he spoke it came through in his tone. “There’s no need to question my loyalty, because you know where it fucking lies. And in case you need a reminder, it’s with him.” Austen hung up and shoved his phone into his pocket.

Sparks might have taken him in and turned him into more than some street punk, but Sloane was the one who’d saved him, and that was something Austen would never forget.


Copyright © 2016 Charlie Cochet. Published by Dreamspinner Press.


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