Smoke & Mirrors (THIRDS, Book 7) Sneak Peek
After coffee, Dex spoke to his little brother, insisting he was fine. Talk of Dex and Sloane having sexy times had quickly turned Cael’s fretful ramblings to gagging noises and sounds of disgust before he told Dex he was a jerkface. In true Cael fashion, it was quickly followed by an apology and insistence that Dex was not, in fact, a jerkface. Dex promised to call Cael if he needed anything and asked him to annoy Ash on his behalf, or at least make an attempt.
Less than an hour after their phone conversation, Cael was on Dex’s doorstep. Dex had opened the door, barely getting a word out before Cael launched himself at him.
“Woah, hey.” Dex let out a soft laugh as he wrapped his arms around Cael. “It’s okay, Chirpy.”
“Don’t call me that,” Cael replied, his words muffled against Dex’s shirt. He squeezed Dex gently, and held on to him.
Dex couldn’t remember the last time Cael had clung to him like this. He closed his eyes and let his head rest against Cael’s. He didn’t pull away or comment. It was clear Cael had been shaken up by what happened. Once he pulled back, he wiped at his eyes with his sleeve, and gave a sniff, a deep frown on his face. He refused to look Dex in the eye. Who knew what was going on in that overactive brain of his.
Dex put his hands on Cael’s shoulders, demanding softly, “Hey, look at me.”
With some reluctance, Cael did. His big gray eyes were glassy.
“I’m sorry I scared you.”
“How about a drink?” Dex motioned behind him, and Cael followed. They headed into the kitchen where Sloane was washing the dishes. He smiled at Cael.
Cael gave him a wobbly smile before taking a seat on one of the chairs behind the counter.
“So what’ll it be?” Dex asked, subtly squeezing Sloane’s side. Cael was quiet. Like Dex, Cael was never quiet. Not unless he was engrossed in a video game or movie. “Tea? Hot chocolate?”
Cael sat up straight, seeming to shake himself out of it. “Hot chocolate. With marshmallows. Lots of marshmallows. Like, half the cup should be marshmallows.”
Dex chuckled, relieved Cael was acting like himself again. He got to work fixing up Cael’s hot chocolate while Sloane made a latte for himself and Dex. Sloane knew him so well. Dex didn’t even have to ask.
When Dex placed Cael’s hot chocolate in front of him, the tiny marshmallows forming a peak, and close to causing a tiny marshmallow avalanche, Cael frowned at it.
“I can’t stick any more on there, buddy. Gravity’s got to do its thing.” Dex studied his brother. “Cael?”
“I don’t know what to do with it.”
Dex cocked his head to one side, smiling. “You eat the top part and drink the rest, silly.”
“No, you jackass!”
Cael’s outburst surprised the hell out of Dex and Sloane. The two of them stood speechless. Dex could see Cael was barely keeping it together. Usually he was easy to read, but right now he had no idea what was going on. Cael’s face was flushed, his eyes glassy, and he looked about ready to blow his top.
“Cael, talk to me. Don’t know what to do with what?” Very gingerly, Dex made his way around the counter, stopping next to Cael.
“With you almost dying,” Cael replied through his teeth. “With you being tortured.” His hands balled into fists on the countertop, his hard gaze on the peak of marshmallows. “I know you’ve been in tough spots before, but even then, I knew you’d be okay, because you always found a way to be okay, to get yourself out of trouble. This time….” He shook his head, his lips pressed into a thin line. When he turned to look at Dex, the fear in his eyes broke Dex’s heart. “I really thought this was it. I thought I’d lost my big brother for good.” Tears pooled in his eyes and Dex didn’t hesitate. He threw his arms around Cael and hugged him close, offering what comfort he could as Cael shed quiet tears.
Pre-order coming June 9th. Copyright © 2016 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.