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 had faced off against many a nefarious foe, but none had been as devious, sharp, and dangerous as the one sitting in the chair across from him. Narrowed amber eyes dared him to make the first move. He wasn’t falling for it.
“You’ve lost, Buttercup. That big hunk of man is mine.”
Solange narrowed her eyes to slits, and Dex waited. Suddenly she sat up, and sniffed the air before her lips curled into a wicked smile.
Wait. What’s happening here?
She inhaled deeply then let out an ear-piecing wail just as Sloane walked through the door with a sippy cup and small container of veggie sticks.
“Dex, what happened?” Sloane hurried over to her, and she raised her arms up so he could carry her. “It’s okay, sweetheart. There’s no need to be scared.” He lifted her into his arms to comfort her, and when he turned away, she stuck out her tongue at him. The little sneak!
“I didn’t do anything. She’s trying to steal you away from me.”
Sloane turned to arch an eyebrow at him. “Really, Dex? She’s a five-year-old, not your nemesis.”
Oh, she’s both, Sloane. Believe me, she’s both. Dex narrowed his eyes at her.
Solange pulled away, bottom lip quivering as she pointed to Dex. “Scary man.”
Dex’s jaw all but hit the floor. “What? Are you kidding me?” They were in their office in Unit Alpha. The floor was filled with huge ass Therians of all classifications, and he was the scary one?
Sloane put Solange down in his chair. “Aw, it’s okay. He’s really not scary at all. In fact, he’s usually very silly.”
“Oh, now I’m silly?” Dex crossed his arms over his chest, and pouted. “I am not silly. I just happen to have an exceptional sense of humor and childlike wonderment.”
Sloane hummed. “Tell me, who was it that refused to go down the doll aisle in that toy store when we were called in to remove that drunk Therian frat boy?”
“Hey, I had a very grownup and legitimate reason for not going in there.”
“And that was?” Sloane asked, looking amused.
Damn him and his stupidly handsome face that Dex wanted to kiss all over.
“Dolls are creepy. I’ve seen Chucky.”
“That was just a movie,” Sloane said with a chuckle.
“It was,” Dex agreed, “but I also saw Chucky. Literally. There was a Chucky doll in there. So, H to the no. Who would buy their kid a Chucky doll? Then again….” He eyed Solange who blinked innocently at him. Yeah, I can see right through you. You’re not fooling anyone. Okay, maybe you’re fooling Sloane, but not me.
Sloane turned for the door, and Dex pointed to his eyes then to her, mouthing the words “I’m watching you.”
“Look after her for a few minutes while I check in with the Sarge. We’re trying to get a hold of her parents.”
“Wait!” Dex jumped out of his chair, and ran over to Sloane talking quietly. “You’re leaving me alone with her?”
Sloane laughed softly. “Dex, what’s gotten into you? She’s just a kid. You’re great with kids.”
“Yes, kids. Not spawns of Beelzebub.”
“Oh my God, you’re not really jealous, are you?”
Dex sniffed. “No.”
“You’re a terrible liar,” Sloane said, kissing him. It was short, but sweet. “Just use that Dexter J. Daley charm. You’ll be fine.”
Sloane was right. He was overreacting.
Dex turned, and walked over to their desks. Solange sat in Sloane’s chair, her little legs kicking back and forth as she sipped her drink and crunched on her veggie sticks.
“I think we got off on the wrong foot,” Dex said, taking a seat on the edge of the desk. “I don’t think you’re really trying to steal my fiancé.”
She looked up at him and smiled. “Sloane’s my boyfriend now.”
“Listen, kid. You’re five. I have T-shirts older than you.”
“Sloane’s going to have tea with us. The Queen’s coming, and I’ll be a princess. The Duchess Mrs. Bunny-Fluffs will be there, and Prince Puppy-Pants. Then Sloane will come to my birthday party, and he’ll tell all the kids at school that they have to come, and they will because he’s a THIRDS agent and they have to listen to him.”
Dex frowned. “Did the kids you invited to your party say they weren’t coming?”
Solange wrinkled her nose, her legs stopped moving. She stared down at her veggies, and just shrugged.
“What school do you go to, Solange?”
She told him, and Dex went to his desk interface. He placed his palm to the scanner to wake it up. Typing away, he did a search on the school, and sighed. It was an elite private school where most of the students were from wealthy families. Wealthy Human families. Damn. These were kids whose parents were politicians, government officials, and high-profile media personnel. Several names he recognized, and they were good people. So why wouldn’t they let their kids go to Solange’s birthday party? It couldn’t be just because she was a Therian.
“Solange, do you—” Dex jumped from his chair. No. No way.
She was gone.
Oh fuck. Sloane was going to kill him!
Dex ran out of the office, into the bullpen. There was no way he was going to find her on his own. The floor was huge with a never-ending number of places a tiny Therian could squeeze into. He was going to need backup. Dex tapped his earpiece then remembered Sloane would hear him. Shit. He ran to Calvin and Hobbs’s office.
“Guys, I need your help.”
Hobbs looked at Dex then around him. He put his hand out to the side about waist height.
“I lost her.”
Calvin shot to his feet. “You what? Are you insane?”
“Seriously, all I did was check something on my system, and when I looked up, she was gone. Please. We gotta find her before Sloane finds out.”
Calvin snorted. “You really think Sloane isn’t going to find out? For all we know, Solange is with him now. She’s really taking a liking to him.”
“Please.” Dex ran over and grabbed Calvin’s shoulder. “Whatever you want, it’s yours. I can’t let Sloane think I’d make a terrible parent.”
Calvin’s expression softened. “Dex, this doesn’t mean you’d make a terrible parent. Of course we’ll help you finder her.”
“Thank you.” Dex hugged Calvin tight. “You’re a good friend.”
“It’s going to cost you your Star Wars Rebel Resist backpack.”
Dex gasped as he jerked away. “Scratch that, you’re an extortionist.”
“Do you want our help, or not?”
“Fine,” Dex growled. “But you only get the backpack if we find her before Sloane does.”
Dex spun on his heels, and jabbed a finger in Hobbs’s direction. “Your boyfriend’s a jerkface.”
Hobbs shrugged, his smile wide.
They headed out into the bullpen to find Solange. “Hobbs, can you check that she’s not already with Sloane? Calvin, you search the areas outside the bullpen, I’ll search the bullpen. Do not tell anyone I lost the kid. She’s gotta be around here somewhere.” He wasn’t worried that she wasn’t safe. Unit Alpha was the safest place she could be, and there was no way she could leave the floor. Only Unit Alpha authorized personnel could enter and exit the floor, and no one was going to let an unaccompanied five year old go anywhere.
It was going to be fine. He could do this. Ash told him all the time that he had the brain of a child. If anyone could find her, he could. He just hoped he found her before Sloane did.
PART THREE next week. Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.