Tag - Ash Keeler

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?


THIRDS Thursday - 6/28/18

PromptWe 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.


FINAL PART

Dex noticed Sloane had something hidden behind his back as he walked over to Solange. “Sorry I took so long.” He stopped next to her then knelt. “Guess what? Your mommy and daddy are on their way to pick you up, and look who’s here.”

Solange squealed when Sloane presented her with a stuffed lion toy, and Dex couldn’t help his laugh. It had floppy arms and legs, a big brown nose, and the biggest, craziest mane Dex had ever seen. She got her little arms wrapped around it, and hugged the stuffing out of it.

“So what have you two been up to?” Sloane asked, just as Ash entered the room.

Maybe the floor would swallow Dex up, and he wouldn’t have to witness this crushing, life altering moment. Okay, maybe he was being a little dramatic, but still.

Ash opened his mouth when Solange piped up.

“Dex and I were singing!”

The room plunged into silence, everyone staring at Solange.

Sloane blinked at her. “You were singing?”

“Yep. We were here the whole time, and we were singing a fun song. Do you want to hear it?”

Sloane nodded.

Two words in and Dex was on the floor in a fit of laughter. Ash’s eyes were huge, and Sloane had a fist to his mouth to keep himself from laughing. Meanwhile, at the top of her lungs, Solange sang The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

Ash looked so confused, and Dex was afraid he’d pee his pants he was laughing so hard. “What’s happening right now?”

Solange continued to sing, her voice going up really high in pitch for certain parts of the song, and Dex just couldn’t breathe.

“Yeah, no.” Ash turned and left.

“Do you like it?” Solange asked Sloane.

Sloane laughed softly. “I do. I also think it’s very sweet for you to cover for Dex.”

Dex froze. He sat up, and gaped at Sloane. “You know?”

Sloane stood, and held a hand out to Dex, helping him to his feet. He made sure to stand where he could keep an eye on Solange. “Yes, Babe. I came back to ask Solange a quick question and didn’t see either of you. I figured she managed to sneak away.”

Dex narrowed his eyes. “Ash told you, didn’t he?”

“He did. Yes. Like, the moment he saw her.”

“Where was she?”

Sloane chuckled. “Here.”

“What?”

“She was hiding under my desk.”

Dex’s jaw dropped. Hiding in plain sight. Of course she was. Man, he felt like an idiot. He not only lived with a jaguar Therian, he was mated to one. They were experts at hiding so they could pounce. Sloane’s desk was the first place he should have checked.

“That’s also why we smelled her scent.”

Dex nodded his agreement. He thought her scent hadn’t changed because she’d just been in the office, but in truth it was because she hadn’t left. That sneaky sneak. “Wait, how did she end up with Ash if she didn’t leave the office?”

“He dropped by to discuss the case and found her sitting in my chair, but no you. When he asked her where you were, she said she’d show him.” Sloane looked down, and Dex followed his gaze. Solange stood beside him tugging at one of his pockets.

“Don’t be mad at Dex. It was my fault. I shouldn’t have pretended to run away. He’ll be a really good daddy, I promise.”

Sloane’s expression softened, and he picked Solange up, his smile making Dex melt. “You know what? I think he’ll make a great daddy.”

“You do?” she asked, her smile wide.

Sloane nodded then gave them each a pointed look. “I’m not happy with either of you, but that doesn’t change how great I think you both are.” He turned his attention back to Solange. “You shouldn’t pretend to sneak away like that, or actually sneak away. You really worried Dex. What if you weren’t somewhere safe? How would your mommy and daddy feel if something happened to you?”

Her bottom lip jutted out in a miserable pout. “They’d be sad.”

“They’d be heartbroken.” Sloane turned his attention to Dex. “I’m not sure what you were doing when Solange pulled a Houdini on you, but she reminds me of a certain someone.” He shook his head in amusement. “I take my eyes off you for two seconds, and next thing I know, I find you Duct taped to a medical examiner’s table.”

Solange arched a perfect little eyebrow at Dex. He was being judged by a five-year-old. Splendid.

“Here’s a life lesson. Never steal cookies from a wolf Therian. They are very serious about their food. Especially cookies. They might look all sweet and nerdy, but don’t let that fool you.”

Sloane laughed, and Solange giggled.

“I’m glad my misfortune amuses you two,” Dex said with a sniff.

Sloane pulled him close, and kissed his temple. “I love you. But next time, call me, huh? We’ll work it out together.”

Really, Dex should have known better. “I will. I’m sorry. I just kind of freaked out a little.”

“I know. That happens when your blood sugar is low. Then you crash. So how about I stay with Solange while you get yourself something from the canteen.”

“Have I told you lately how amazing you are?”

Sloane shrugged, his smile dazzling. “I’m not going to complain if you feel the need to say it again.”

“You’re amazing.” Dex kissed Sloane’s cheek before heading for the door. As he headed for the canteen, he thought about Solange and how after everything she’d stuck up for him, so he wouldn’t get in trouble with Sloane. She was a good kid. He thought about the reason he’d take his eyes off her, and an idea struck him. He’d run it by Sloane, but he didn’t think Sloane would mind. Ash on the other hand….

“I hate you so bad right now,” Ash hissed.

When Solange’s parents arrived to pick up their little girl, after her mother bawled her eyes out and her father paced the office in a controlled rage at the babysitter’s negligence, everyone settled down. Solange’s parents were pressing charges, and they had every right to. They’d trusted the babysitter with their precious child, and their trust had been betrayed. Both parents had gone pale when they’d discovered where Destructive Delta had rescued her from, and they were extremely grateful. The THIRDS had made new allies.

As they talked, Dex discussed his idea with Solange’s parents, and then Solange’s mother broke down in tears before lunging herself at Dex, and hugging him tight.

As it turned out. Dolly wasn’t just any lion, but actually Growly the Grumpy Lion, a very famous children’s TV show lion. A British kids TV show lion. Growly was a lion Therian who in his Human form wore a giant crazy mane and was super grumpy which the kids found hysterical. Who would have known that within their ranks they had their own Growly the Grumpy Lion. And, oh, he was very grumpy right now.

Ash sat in the middle of circle of kids, arms crossed over his expansive chest, big fluffy mane with little lion ears over his head.

“Do you live in the jungle?” A little Human boy asked, waving his hand in front of Ash’s face.

“No. I live in Leeds apparently. Probably because it starts with an “L”. Why it couldn’t be London, I don’t know.”

“You don’t sound British,” another little boy said.

Ash sighed, and when he spoke, Dex just knew he was imitating Hudson. If Hudson were a grumpy ass lion Therian pretending to be a British wolf Therian. “I’m British. I drink tea, and eat cookies, but I call them biscuits because I like to be difficult.”

The kids all laughed their little faces off and Hudson frowned.

“I don’t sound like that.”

“Eh, you kinda do.”

Hudson narrowed his eyes at Dex. “As if I would take the word of a biscuit thief.”

“You’re just strengthening his case.”

Sloane stepped up beside Dex, and wrapped an arm around him, pulling him close. He kissed Dex’s temple and spoke so only Dex would hear. “I think you’ve just made Solange the most popular kid at her school. How did you get all the parents to let their kids come?”

“I just used my Daley charm.”

“Too bad that charm won’t work on Ash. I love you, Babe, which is why when this is over, I’ll try and buy you some time so you can make a run for it.”

Cael stepped up to Dex’s right. He was so smitten as he watched his boyfriend. “I had no idea Ash was so good with kids. He’s amazing. Also, you’re a dead man. Just saying. I’ll try and buy you some time, so you can get away.”

Dex chuckled. “I appreciate that my family is willing to risk the wrath of Ash to give me a running head start, but I really don’t think it’ll be necessary. I think he’s secretly enjoying it.”

One little girl launched herself into Ash’s arms. He lifted her up and she sneezed. She’d also had a mouth full of fruit juice which Ash was now wearing.

Dex hugged Cael then turned to Sloane and kissed him. “Make sure my grave says I died valiantly in combat.” Dex took off to the sound of Ash roaring his name. Yep. Just another day at the office for Destructive Delta.


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

THIRDS Thursday - 6/21/18

PromptWe 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.


PART THREE

How good could a five-year-old be at hiding?

The answer was very good. Dex had less trouble hunting down wanted criminals than he did finding this kid. He casually strolled through the bullpen, paperwork in his hands so as not to look suspicious. Nonchalantly, he began checking under desks. She had to be somewhere around here. He hadn’t heard back from Hobbs or Calvin, so they clearly hadn’t found her either.

“Um, what are you doing?”

Dex popped up and grinned widely at Taylor. “Hello, Ellis. How are you doing this fine evening?”

Taylor narrowed his eyes. “Don’t call me that. Why are you snooping around Angel’s desk?”

“Not snooping. I’m um, inspecting for dust bunnies.” Dex bent over and looked around. “Nope. No bunnies of any kind.” He straightened, removed a pen from his pocket, clicked it, and scribbled on his paper. “Excellent work. Those dust bunnies can wreak havoc if not properly contained.”

“I’m sure,” Taylor replied wryly.

“Well, I better get to inspecting the rest of the floor. Thanks, El.”

“That’s definitely a no. No nicknames, no abbreviations.”

Dex opened his mouth to ask why when Angel appeared, his smile cheerful.

“Hi, Dex.” Angel turned to Taylor, and his smile widened. “Hey, E, ready to go see Hudson about those lab results?”

Dex arched an eyebrow at Taylor, holding back a knowing smile when Taylor’s cheeks turned pink, and he narrowed his eyes at Dex.

“Shut up, Daley.”

Ooh, he’d been demoted to Daley. Ouch.

“Sure,” Taylor grumbled, following Angel.

Dex unleashed his smile once Taylor was gone. He couldn’t wait for Taylor to finally give into whatever he was clearly feeling for Angel, and just make a move. The suspense just might kill him. Speaking of killing. He was also going to be a dead man if he didn’t find Solange. He continued his inspection of the bullpen. Had it been anyone else, his fellow agents would have wondered what the hell he was on, but it was him, so t hey didn’t even spare him a glance. Hm, maybe he was getting to be a little predictable if his coworkers didn’t so much as bat an eye to his behavior.

“Lose something?”

Shit. Dex cursed under his breath. Of course. Because out of all the agents in Unit Alpha, of course it would be Ash who stumbled across his fuck up. Dex stared at Ash and the little girl in his arms. To add insult to injury, not only had Ash found Solange, but she was doing a little happy wiggle in his arm while she sipped on her juice, because clearly Dex was the big scary guy, and the huge ass growly lion Therian was what? Dex narrowed his eyes at her.

“Really? So I’m scary? What about him?” Dex motioned to Ash, ignoring Ash’s arched eyebrow.

Solange beamed brightly, and petted Ash’s head. “He’s like Dolly.”

Dex was torn. On the one hand, he was insulted by the fact she believed he was scarier than Ash, who reminded her of her dolly, which Sloane had sent Cael and Rosa to pick up from her house. On the other hand, she was comparing Ash Keeler to her dolly. In the end, tormenting Ash won out, and he burst into peals of laughter until he had tears in his eyes.

“I am underwhelmed,” Ash said with a grunt. “The only reason you’re still conscious right now is because there is a child present. One that’s not you. Also, I get to be there when Sloane finds out you lost the kid.”

Dex’s laughter died. “You can’t tell him.”

“Oh, yes I can, and I will.” Ash’s grin was pure evil. He turned and headed for Dex and Sloane’s office.

Dex couldn’t believe he was about to say this, but what choice did he have? “Please, I’ll do anything.”

“Believe me, there is nothing you can promise me that will be worth more than watching you crash and burn in front of Sloane.”

“But… but that’s just mean.”

“I’m sorry, have we met? Do I look like I care?”

“Yes. You do care. You pretend otherwise, but I know you love me.”

“That right there just landed you an expedited trip to your demise.” Ash pulled out his phone, and Dex groaned.

“Man, who peed in your Cheerios this morning,” Dex grumbled.

“Keep it up, Justice.”

Stupid Ash. While Ash called Sloane, Dex removed his phone from his pocket, and sneakily snapped a photo of him while Solange was turned away, so he wouldn’t capture her face. Despite being pissed at Ash, Dex couldn’t deny the adorable picture the two made. Solange was tiny next to Ash. He carried her tucked against him, his arm around her, like he’d done it a hundred times, her weight probably not even registering. Solange had her little arm around his neck and she bopped along to some imaginary song.

Dealing with kids wasn’t knew for them. Sadly, in their line of work, they often found themselves rescuing Therian kids from danger, but once the danger was over, usually Dex, Cael, and Rosa took over because most of the time, the kids didn’t respond well to the larger Therian agents, especially the Apex predators. Other times, they only responded to Therians of their classification, like the way Solange responded to Sloane. Nine times out of ten, the kids were scared shitless of the lion Therian agents. Ash never took it personally which Dex thought was kind of shitty because he knew it was down to the years of prejudice Ash had faced, not just for being a Therian, but for being a lion Therian. Yes, Ash was a surly bastard, but he was a good man.

Right now, he was also a jerkface.

“I can’t believe you’re going to tell Sloane.” Dex dropped down into his chair with a huff while Ash carefully sat Solange down in Sloane’s chair. She smiled up at him, dimples showing. Damn, she was good.

“Can I have some water?”

“Sure. I’ll be right back. Don’t move, okay?”

Solange nodded, and Ash headed for the door, pausing long enough to give Dex a pointed look. “Don’t lose her again.”

Dex glared at him, but didn’t respond.

Solange kicked her feet happily as she smiled at Dex. “You’re going to get in trouble.”

“He sighed. No, not really. Sloane might get mad, but it’ll be okay. Mostly he’s probably just going to be disappointed.” Dex couldn’t help his sigh. “I don’t mind if he gets mad. I deserve it. I’m just worried he’s going to think I won’t make a good dad.”

Solange cocked her head to one side. “Why?”

“Because I lost you.” Dex jumped to his feet and started pacing. “I mean, we’re getting married. It took him a long time not to freak out at just the thought of having a kid, and then he tells me he wants a family one day. What if he decides he made a mistake? That I’m not ready to be a parent. Not that we’re planning on being parents anytime soon, but what if this was like a test, and oh God, I failed miserably.” Dex fell back into his chair. “I suck.”

“Hey, guys.” Sloane walked into the office, his big smile making him look even more handsome. God, he was so madly in love with Sloane, and that meant he would face whatever consequences came his way. Chances were Ash would walk through that door any minute now to gloat about Dex’s epic failure.

Well, time to face the music.


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

THIRDS Thursday - 3/29/18

****SPOILER FROM TRIED & TRUE BOOK 10**** . . . . PromptWill we ever read of when Ash asked Cael to cohabit from their point of view?

PART THREE

Here goes everything.

Ash reached into his pocket, pulled out the copy of his house key, and held it out to Cael.

“I’d really love it if you’d move in with me.”

After racking his brain for what to say, overthinking his words over and over, he decided fuck it. He wasn’t a poet. He’d never been great at expressing his feelings, other than anger or annoyance, and although he was open with Cael, he was still not the pretty prose type of guy. He wanted Cael to move in with him, so that’s what he said.

Cael’s eyes went huge as he stared at the key in Ash’s hand. He could feel everyone’s eyes on him, but he ignored them, and focused on Cael, his heart pounding in his ears.

“Baby?”

Cael nodded and flung himself into Ash’s arms, and with a laugh, Ash caught him, squeezing him tight before kissing him.

“Yes,” Cael murmured against his lips. “Always yes.”

The words sent a shiver through Ash, and he let out the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. He gently put Cael on his feet then took his hand, leading him back to the table. He braced himself.

Dex put his elbows on the table and let his chin rest on his hands. “So… what’s new?”

Ash rolled his eyes. Dork. He sat down, pulling Cael close to him. “I asked Cael to move in with me, and he said yes.”

Dex put a hand over his heart as he leaned against Sloane. “Our little lion Therian is growing up so fast.”

Ash flipped Dex off as he hugged Cael close. His heart was beating so damned fast he thought it was going to explode. Cael said yes. He glanced over at Letty who was not even being subtle about her “I told you so, asshole” look. He was pretty sure she was just dying to say the words.

Sloane sighed. “Seems like only yesterday he was threatening to stab me with knitting needles.”

Dex let out a bark of laughter.

From across the table, Taylor looked at Angel. “Hey, you know what you should get Cael as a housewarming gift?”

Angel’s eyes went wide. “Oh fuck. Don’t say it, bro. Please don’t—”

“A fern.”

The table broke out into peals of laughter, and Ash glared at Angel. “Why? So you can piss on it?” Who the fuck went around pissing on people’s houseplants? He didn’t care how drunk the guy had been. The plant had been in his fucking living room! Who did that? Just because he had a dick and needed to piss did not give him cart blanche to go around relieving himself wherever the fuck he wanted. Asshat.

“Fuck me,” Angel groaned. “One fucking time. One time.” He narrowed his eyes at Ash. “Okay, Keeler. You want a fern, I’ll get you a fucking fern farm.”

The rest of the evening was spent laughing, teasing, dancing, and drinking. By the end of the night, Ash was looking forward to getting home, especially since Cael was coming home with him. When they arrived at his apartment, he’d closed the door, hung up his jacket, and stood there, taking in all the evidence of Cael’s presence. The number of pillows on his couch had tripled since they’d started dating because Cael loved to be cozy, especially when Ash wasn’t home. There was also a super soft blanket in almost every room, and in some cases more than one.

Cael had his own drawer in the bedroom with everything from underwear and socks to pajamas and jeans. Ash had made space in his closet ages ago, so Cael could keep a spare uniform. That soon grew to include other items of clothing. Cael’s toiletries were in the bathroom, his favorite baking utensils in the kitchen, snacks in the pantry, food in the fridge. In the living room, half the movies were Cael’s, and Ash had extra shelves put in to house all the video games. Holy shit!

“Figured it out yet?” Cael stood on his toes and kissed Ash’s cheek.

“When did you start moving in?” Ash removed is boots then let himself be led into the living room. He sat down on the couch, and Cael dropped down into it, his boyish smile wide.

“From the first night you asked me to sleep over.”

Ash thought about it. “But we hadn’t even been dating.”

“True.” Cael’s cheeks flushed, and he shrugged. “But whenever I brought something over, instead of letting me leave with it, you’d say, “why don’t you just leave it here?” and so I did. It happened more and more until I realized that in your own Ash way, you were making me a part of your life. You wanted me here with you, but you weren’t ready for what that meant, so I just happily went along with it, hoping you’d realize what you wanted and ask me.”

Ash’s jaw went slack as Cael dropped that truth bomb on him. How the hell had he been so oblivious? Had he really been slowly moving Cael in with him without even realizing? Well, damn.

Cael laughed softly and kissed his cheek. “You’re so adorable.”

Only Cael could get away with calling him that.

“So,” Ash said, clearing his throat. “When do you want to move the rest of your stuff in?”

“How about after the wedding? Dex and Sloane will be on their honeymoon, and we can ask the rest of the team to help.”

Ash nodded. “Okay.” He smiled at Cael as he wrapped an arm around him, and brought him in close. “We’re really doing this.”

Cael cuddled up close, and Ash turned on the TV, smiling when Cael stretched his long, slender frame across the couch, and lay his head on Ash’s lap, lifting up when Ash moved one of the throw pillows beneath his head. Ash wasn’t really paying attention to the comic book based TV show. He was too busy being in awe of his beautiful boyfriend. All this time, Cael had known what Ash wanted before he did, but instead of pushing, he waited until Ash was ready. How the hell had he gotten so damned lucky? He brushed his fingers through Cael’s hair, his heart full. This right here, was everything he never thought he’d have.

You know what comes next, right?

“When do we pick up the rings?” Cael asked, looking up at him with big gray eyes.

“What?” Ash croaked.

“The rings? Sloane and Dex’s rings.”

Holy shitting fuck.

Ash coughed into his fist to give him time to collect himself. “This weekend.”

“You okay?”

“Yep. Great. Perfect.” He smiled, and Cael squinted at him.

“You sure?”

“Absolutely. Hey, isn’t that guy from that other show you watch?”

Cael turned his attention back to the TV. “Yeah. It’s the same universe, so they can do crossovers.”

Thankfully Cael became engrossed in his TV show like he always did, and Ash could breathe again. It was fine. He’d be fine.

One step at a time.

Cael turned his head and smiled up at Ash. There was so much love and adoration in Cael’s eyes, it stole Ash’s breath away.

“I love you, Ash.”

“I love you too, sweetheart,” Ash said softly as Cael sat up, and straddled his lap. He kissed Ash, and nothing had ever tasted sweeter.

Maybe one day….


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

THIRDS Thursday - 3/22/18

****SPOILER FROM TRIED & TRUE BOOK 10**** . . . . Prompt: Will we ever read of when Ash asked Cael to cohabit from their point of view?

PART TWO

Dex was ridiculous, but how could Ash hold it against him when he made Cael so happy? While the dork danced around the stage and sang one of his cheesy eighties songs, Cael sat on Ash’s lap dancing and singing, arms in the air. He was so damned beautiful, brightening up Ash’s life—and mood—like nothing or no one he’d ever come across. It’s what Sloane was always telling him, and Ash understood. Didn’t mean he thought Dex was any less of a man-child, but he understood now.

Ash wrapped his arms around Cael, holding on tight, and laughing as Cael rocked out. Everyone was in a good mood, dancing, singing, having fun. It was nice. It seemed like some shit was always going down, like they couldn’t catch a break, and holy fuck did he need a break. His life was complicated enough as it was with all the upcoming changes. Everything was changing. His job, Sloane getting married, him planning to ask Cael to move in….

“You okay?”

Cael’s voiced snapped him out of his thoughts, and he smiled. “Yeah. Can’t believe Sloane and your goofy brother are getting married.”

“I know, right?” Cael’s smile was wide. “But I can’t imagine my brother with anyone else. They’re just so perfect for each other.”

Ash wouldn’t have thought that back when Dex had joined, but at the time they’d all still been mourning Gabe’s death. To say Dex had rubbed Ash the wrong way was the understatement of the century. Over the years he’d grown on Ash. Like a fungus. He’d never admit it, but he could see now that Dex was good for Sloane. His best friend had healed, and Sloane wouldn’t have even considered that as a possibility for himself were it not for Dex.

“You’re very pensive,” Cael said, wrapping his arms around Ash’s neck, his sweet face filled with worry for him.

“Just thinking about everything that’s changing.”

“As long as we’re together, we’ll get through anything,” Cael assured him, kissing his cheek.

Now how the hell was anyone supposed to mope around Cael? “You’re right.” Ash cupped his cheek and kissed him, not caring who saw. He couldn’t believe that a few short years ago he’d been so hung up on being with Cael or showing affection for him in public. If he could go back, he’d have punched himself in the face for being such an asshole. Ash held Cael tight, and kissed his sweet, plump lips, loving the taste of them, how soft they were, and how right it felt.

When the song was over, and karaoke ended, everyone joined them at the table. They put in their drink and food orders, and Ash busted Bradley’s balls about the damned karaoke. The guy really needed to stop letting Dex loose on the damn playlists. Some eighties song played, and Dex jumped to his feet.

Ash let out a long, loud groan. “Bradley, you’re killing me, bro.” He shook his head, his frown deep. “How much is he paying you to play this shit?”

“Nothing,” Bradley said, smiling wide. “Come on, man. He’s getting married. I couldn’t say no. Look how happy it made him.”

When Sloane caved, allowing his annoying fiancé led him toward the dance floor, Ash shook his head in disgust at his friend. “You know, the word no exists for a reason, pal. You should try it sometime.”

“Pot, kettle, Keeler,” Sloane called out as Dex led him to the dance floor.

Whatever. Cael did not have him—Who the hell are you trying to fool, Keeler? Okay, yes, maybe Cael did have him sorta, maybe, kinda, a lot wrapped around his little finger, but who the fuck cared? If he could do something to make Cael happy, why wouldn’t he? Even his mom adored Cael. The two were thick as thieves. It was a little scary sometimes, especially when they plotted against him. Like the time his mom wanted them to go with her to see some musical on Broadway. As much as he loved his mother and Cael, he was not going to sit through hours of grown adults singing and prancing around in ridiculous costumes.

One Saturday night, he dressed up to join his mother and Cael at some snazzy restaurant for a nice evening meal, but afterward the cab dropped them off in front of the theater instead of home. His mom and Cael laid it on thick, huge pleading eyes, pouting lips, and fuck him if he didn’t march inside that stupid place, sit in his seat three rows away from the tutu wearing jackass, and take it like a fucking man, because he loved his mother and his boyfriend.

“Let’s play that game that who’s more likely game,” Letty piped up, and everyone agreed. Well this was going to be interesting. Dex and Sloane joined them just as Hudson took a sip of his drink. The doc was so going to be plastered before the game was even over. He was such a lightweight. It didn’t take long before Calvin got Dex, and the shots were lined up. Ash laughed his ass off when Cael spilled the beans on Dex being chased by the police in Spain for streaking, and then arrested in Vegas for swimming in the Bellagio’s fountain. Dex reminded Sloane that retribution was nigh after Sloane got drunk and called Maddock an old man.

Ash spit out a mouthful of beer that sprayed across the table, causing Calvin, Hobbs, and Dom to dive out of their chairs. Dex was in tears from laughing so hard.

“Fuck, Keeler.” Calvin got up off the floor, then picked up his chair, which had toppled during his swan dive.

Ash grabbed a napkin and wiped his mouth. He couldn’t believe what he’d just heard, and he gaped at Sloane. “You called Maddock an old man?” Sloane let his head fall back with a groan, and Ash patted his shoulder. “It was nice knowing you, bro.” Frankly he was surprised Sloane had survived. Everyone teased Sloane, and Ash couldn’t wait to see what Maddock had planned for Sloane. As the table erupted into laughter and teasing, Ash realized that if he was going to do this, now was the time.

“Excuse us for a second,” Ash said, getting up. He took Cael’s hand and started leading him away from the table which got quiet for some reason. Ignoring them, Ash gently pushed Cael forward.

“Keep it PG, Keeler,” Dex called out. He never knew with this group.

Ash held up a finger in Dex’s direction. “Shut your mouth.” Fuck, he’d never been this nervous about anything in his life. He walked Cael over to one of the tallboys near the bar, and dried his sweaty hands on his jeans.

“Ash, is everything okay?”

“Yeah, um, this is gonna take a minute to get out, so bear with me.”

Cael nodded, his smile sweet as he stood patiently. He never questioned Ash’s motives, and always trusted him wholeheartedly. Sure, they got into fights. What couple didn’t? But they always talked things through, tried to see the other’s side of things. And the make up sex? Holy shit it was spectacular. There was so much he wanted to say, but had no idea how. How did he put into words what Cael meant to him? “I love you” didn’t seem to be enough. Ash cleared his throat. It was now or never.


Part Three next week. Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

THIRDS Thursday - 3/15/18

****SPOILER FROM TRIED & TRUE BOOK 10**** . . . . Prompt: Will we ever read of when Ash asked Cael to cohabit from their point of view?

PART ONE

“This is crazy. I can’t believe I’m even thinking about doing this. What if he says no? Fuck. What if he said yes. What if he agrees, and I end up driving away the best thing that’s ever happened to me? Godammitmotherfuck! Why are relationships so fucking shitting hard?”

“Are you done?”

Ash spun to face Letty and growled at her. “No, I am not fucking done. Fuck all the fucking fucks. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuuuuuuck.” He crossed his arms over his chest and glared at her. “Now I’m fucking done.”

“Your maturity is inspiring,” Letty replied, not looking impressed. “Why are you so worked up about this?”

Ash threw his hands out. “Did you not hear what I said?”

“Oh, you mean you used words other than ‘fuck’?”

“You’re hilarious. And not helping.” He dropped down onto the couch tucked in the corner of Dekatri’s roof garden where he’d asked Letty to meet him before everyone else arrived. Sloane was busy with training and his stupidly annoying fiancé. Everyone else would be arriving in a couple of hours and meeting downstairs like usual, including Cael who had some errands to run before tonight. Ash figured now was a good time as any to figure this shit out once and for all. He’d been going back and forth on it for weeks, and it was driving him out of his mind.

“Let me ask you something,” Letty said before taking a sip of her beer. “You want to, don’t you?”

“Yeah, of course I do. I wouldn’t even be thinking about it otherwise.”

“And you know he’ll say yes.”

Ash grimaced. “I don’t know that.”

Letty pointed her beer bottle at the bartender. “Dude, even the new guy who’s served you like twice knows Cael will say yes.”

Ash rolled his eyes.

“So, if you want Cael to move in with you, and you know he will, what’s the problem?”

“The problem, as I stated earlier when you weren’t fucking paying attention, is that I’m worried he’ll get fed up with my bullshit and I’ll end up driving him away. I can’t lose him, Letty.” Ash frowned down at his fingers and sighed. God, he was such a sap. He’d watched Sloane slowly spiral down the path of love and thought nope. He never thought he’d fall in love much less get to a point where he couldn’t imagine his life without that person. Granted, he loved Sloane and couldn’t imagine his life without him, but the thought of losing Cael was a completely different fear, and sometimes he just didn’t know what to do with that.

“Ash, Cael has been your boyfriend for over a year and a half. You’re practically living together as it is. If you haven’t scared him off by now, he’s not going anywhere.”

Ash sat up and turned to face. “Well damn, I’m glad I called you over because that little wisdom nugget you just shat out solved all my problems.”

Letty almost choked on her beer, and Ash didn’t appreciate her laughing when he was having a damned crisis. “Wisdom nugget? Oh my God, you’ve been hanging around Dex way too long.”

“Shut up.” He let his head fall back against the couch with a groan and glared at the ceiling. Having feelings was so damned annoying.

She snorted before taking another sip of her beer.

“Tell me, does Captain Kirk comment on what a delicate flower you are?”

Letty flipped him off. “You’re supposed to be advising me.”

“Ash.”

Letty’s soft tone made him turn his head in her direction again, and he was caught off guard by the tenderness there. It didn’t show itself often. Not that she wasn’t a kind person or didn’t care, she just wasn’t the kind to wear her heart on her sleeve. She’d been hurt too often for that, so she kept it all close to her chest, studied people, got to trust them before she opened herself up in any way. They really weren’t so different, though clearly Ash was the bigger, meaner, uncensored version.

“Here’s what I truly believe. I believe Cael is absolutely crazy about you. He’s been crazy about you since you met. And I know you won’t believe me when I tell you this, but you’re good for him.”

Ash scoffed. “You’re right. I don’t believe you.”

“You are, asshole. Haven’t you noticed how he’s become more outspoken?”

“And that’s a good thing?”

“Yes, it’s a good thing. Cael’s always been quiet, and unless someone hurt his family, Cael never really stood up for himself. His confidence since you to have been together has grown so much. He doesn’t let people take advantage of him, or talk down to him, and he’s gotten so much better at standing up to Therians bigger than him.”

Now that he thought about it, Letty was right. Cael was still sweet and kind as ever, but he was more self-assured now than when they’d first met, but he’d always put that down to Cael getting older. He’d been a fresh-faced college graduate when they’d met, and now Cael was in his thirties. Not to mention the last few years hadn’t been easy for any of them, but especially for Cael and his family.

“Why are relationships so exhausting?” He’d never been inside his own head so much in his life. Where Cael was concerned, Ash always stopped to think first. He never wanted to do or say something stupid that would end up hurting Cael. Sure, he messed up, but Cael taught him to stop, listen, and talk. Fuck did they talk.

“Because we’re all complicated creatures,” Letty said. “He’s been really good for you too, you know.” She playfully bumped into him, and he couldn’t help his smile.

“That I know. Sometimes when we’re watching TV and he’s cuddled up beside me on the couch, I look at him and wonder how the hell I ended up so lucky.” It really did baffle him at times.

“You know, Ash, one of these days you’re going to see what the rest of us sees.”

“And what’s that?”

She smiled warmly at him. “A good man.”

Well shit. Before he could respond, he saw Cael step out onto the rood garden. Fuck, he was beautiful. Cael turned, and when he saw Ash, a gorgeous smile spread across his face. It hit him hard. That smile was for him. Cael really was crazy about him. Deep down, he knew Cael loved him, but there was always that little niggling voice in his head that tried to fuck with him, insisting Cael wouldn’t stick around forever. Surely someone better for him would come along. What if that someone better was Ash?

Cael headed their way, and Letty patted his leg before getting up. “I’ll text you when everyone arrives. You love birds have fun in the meantime.” She turned and smiled at him. “It’ll be fine. You’ll see.”

“Don’t tell anyone, okay? I want to ask him first.”

Letty nodded, and he knew she wouldn’t tell anyone, not even Rosa. Letty was one of the few people Ash could trust to keep a secret for him. Cael stopped to greet her, and they hugged before Letty headed off, and Cael dropped down onto the couch beside him.

“Hi, handsome.” Cael’s smile was dazzling, and Ash leaned in to kiss him. He’d never been one for public displays of affection, but with Cael, he didn’t care. There was no way he wasn’t kissing Cael, wasn’t holding his hand, or hugging him. Anyone who had a problem could fuck off.

Ash wrapped his arms around Cael, pulling him close against him, and Cael melted in his arms like he always did. He let out a soft sigh, his fingers curled into Ash’s shirt as he returned Ash’s kiss. It was slow, sweet, and full of love. In that moment, Ash decided. He wanted Cael with living with him. Hopefully, Cael would want the same. There was only one way to find out.


Part Two next week. Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press. 

THIRDS Thursday - 3/30/17

Prompt: Would love to see Cael and Ash baking on a lazy rainy Saturday. Cakes, cookies, all kinds of heavenly sugary goods. Maybe Ash finally sharing or showing the how-to of a recipe Cael just never could get right. Just them goofing off and having a good day. Would like it to be after they got officially together. And as always, a little touchy-feely never hurt anyone. ;)

****SPOILER ALERT**** This takes place after Thick & Thin.
Part Four last week. Read it here.

FINAL PART

Ash had to admit, Dex was one tough little son of a bitch. “Do you really think he’s going to leave you, or your dad, or Sloane? Think about it.”

“But what if it’s out of his control? He’s not invincible, Ash. What if he had died at that TIN facility after his DNA changed? What if—”

“Stop,” Ash said firmly. He cupped Cael’s face, relieved when Cael visibly relaxed. “No more what-ifs, okay? Asking yourself those kinds of questions won’t do you any good. There’s only one solution to this.”

Cael blinked at him. He turned and sat back on his heels, his hands on Ash’s knees and his eyes wide. “What?”

“We ask Sparks for more training. Sloane promised me he’d bring me in if he needed me. If they were going somewhere they’d need backup. I’m not about to let him or Dex traipse around the world without backup. If they need an extraction, I’m going to be on that team. Chances are they’re going to need some pretty fierce tech support. Your brother might get trained, but we both know his tech skills are shit, especially compared to yours.”

“Do you think Sparks will let us?”

“All your brother has to do is ask. TIN’s so desperate to have your brother, they’ll give him whatever he wants, and if that means training up his assets, there’s no way they’re saying no.”

Cael worried his bottom lip with his teeth. “Dex isn’t going to like it.”

“Dex doesn’t have a choice. Don’t ask him, Cael.” Ash reached out placed his thumb to Cael’s bottom lip. “Don’t let him underestimate you. You’re talented, incredibly smart, and far more resourceful than you or your brother give you credit for. He’s always going to be your big brother, but you’re not a little kid, Cael. You don’t need to ask Dex, your dad, or anyone for permission. If this is what you want, you talk to Dex, and you tell him how this is going to go. He can either help you, or you’ll figure it out on your own.”

Cael seemed to think about it. “You really think I can do this? TIN’s like… a whole other level of tech.”

Ash smiled. “Baby, I don’t think you can do this, I know you can.”

Cael took hold of Ash’s face, and brought him in for a kiss. It started sweet, soft, and slow, Cael’s mouth slanted over Ash’s. The kiss quickly grew heated, and Ash wrapped his arms around Cael, bringing him up against him. Cael was always telling Ash how he saw him, and it was true that no one saw him or understood him the way Cael did. If only Cael could see himself the way Ash saw him. Yes, he was sweet, soft, vulnerable, and adorable, but he was also fierce, strong, and incredibly capable. Every day, little by little, Ash did his best to help Cael see that he was so much more than he gave himself credit for.

One of these days, Cael would wake up and realize he had every right to be confident in his skills, in his abilities. Underneath the timid, fidgety cheetah Therian was a confident young man who could easily become an unstoppable force.

Ash returned Cael’s searing kiss, greedily accepting everything he was offered, allowing Cael’s adoration to wash over him. Cael straddled Ash’s lap, his arms wrapped around Ash’s neck as they kissed. Ash loved everything about Cael. Loved his scent, the taste of him, the feel of his sinewy body against Ash. Like they’d been made to fit together.

Cael slipped his fingers into Ash’s hair. There was barely anything there to hold onto, but Cael managed just fine. For a small Therian, Cael could be just the right side of rough, and Ash loved it. Loved when Cael took charge. In the bedroom, Cael was plenty confident. He knew his body, and by now knew enough about Ash’s body to drive him absolutely fucking insane. Never in a million years would Ash have thought Cael would be so wild in bed, and he was never selfish. Seeing Ash ready to come apart from want was as much of a turn on to Cael as any of the toys he enjoyed so much.

With a hum, Cael pulled back. “You’re right. We can do this. I can do this.”

“And I’ll be with you every step of the way.”

Cael smiled wide. He leaned in to kiss Ash when the oven beeped. Cael pulled back, his grin wicked. “But first cake.”

Ash threw his head back and laughed.

“And don’t think I’ve forgotten about my promise,” Cael said, sucking Ash’s earlobe between his teeth before flicking it with his tongue. Fuck. Okay, He could do this. He could wait, because he knew when Cael got his hands on him it was going to be mind-blowing.

Ash got up, watching as Cael bounded into the kitchen, rambling on about what kind of cool tech TIN probably had. Ash leaned against the counter as Cael pulled on oven mitts, so excited with everything, from the idea of learning secret ninja skills, to life in general. Ash just watched him and listened, offering the occasional reply. He was just… captivated, and so stupidly, ridiculously, hopelessly in love. He should have been scared shitless, wondering when the hell it had happened, or why it was happening so fast, and then Cael turned, met his gaze, and smiled that big beautiful smile of his. Okay, he got it. He got the whole love thing, and not the whole brotherly love thing. He got that ages ago. Sloane was his brother, and there was little Ash wouldn’t do for him, but Cael? This was something else altogether.

“This is going to be so great, Ash.”

Ash left the counter, bringing Cael into his arms for a kiss. “Yeah, it is.” They were going to be great. Every doubt Ash had about them, and where they were going vanished. He knew just what to do. There was a lot to do. People he had to talk to. And of course Cael.

But first cake.


THIRDS Thursdays goes on hiatus the month of a new release, so we'll be back on May 4th!
Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

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