Tag - THIRDS Thursday

THIRDS Thursday - 5/3/18

Prompt: How does Ethan's family react the first time he brings home this weird little human kid (Cal)? 

PART ONE

“No way!” Calvin stared up at the apartment complex. “You live here?”

Ethan shrugged. He looked embarrassed, and Calvin knew why.

“Yeah, it’s a really shitty neighborhood.”

Ethan nodded, his cheeks going pink as he looked down at his sneakers.

“It kinda sucks less now though.”

Ethan tilted his head, his brows drawn together in question. This was so awesome. Calvin couldn’t help his huge smile. He pointed to the apartment complex next door.

“That’s where I live.”

Ethan’s eyes went wide, and then his face lit up. He pointed to Calvin then at the building, and Calvin nodded.

“Yep. We just moved into that roach motel.” He scrunched his nose, and Ethan nodded. He waved a hand over his nose, and Calvin laughed. “Yeah. The hallway smells like piss, but it’s worse at night.” He followed Ethan inside the building and toward the stairs. Now that he was in Ethan’s building, he felt kinda scared. “What if they don’t like me?”

Ethan stopped on the steps, and smiled at him. He shook his head. It didn’t help that Ethan still looked kind of a mess from earlier when Ruben and those jerks had pushed Ethan around. His clothes were all dirty, his jeans torn, and his lips split. What if Ethan’s family hated him because he was a Human? Just because Ethan’s mom was Human didn’t mean she’d like Calvin. The rest of the Hobbs family were tiger Therians.

Ethan grabbed Calvin’s wrist, and started running up the stairs, making Calvin laugh.

“Hey, slow down! Some of us have short legs!”

Ethan laughed, and Calvin smiled wide, his heart skipping a beat. He had a best friend. He’d always wanted one. What if Ethan’s brothers didn’t like him? What if they told Ethan he couldn’t be friends with Calvin? The thought made the back of his eyes sting. He’d just have to show them that he’d be a good friend to Ethan.

They reached the floor Ethan’s apartment was on, and Calvin was out of breath. Man, he couldn’t wait to grow up and be tall. Maybe then he could be fast enough to keep up with Ethan. If Ethan’s family didn’t kick him out, he’d call his mom to let her know where he was so she wouldn’t worry. She wouldn’t be home until nine anyway, but still. It was almost dinner time since they’d had to take the extra long way home. Stupid Ruben. His brother and friends had come to pick Ruben up at after school and Ruben had told his brother something about Ethan. They’d chased Calvin and Ethan for blocks. Man, he was tired.

Ethan opened the door, and Calvin followed him inside, putting his bag down beside Ethan’s. The apartment was a little bigger than the one he and his mom lived in, except here there were four Therians sharing the tiny space. If Ethan was this big at eleven, Calvin couldn’t even imagine how big his brothers were.

“Hi, baby. I’m so glad you’re home. I was getting worried.”

A pretty woman around his mom’s height with dark brown hair and hazel eyes walked out of the kitchen, her eyes tearing up when she saw Ethan. She hurried over, and dropped to one knee in front of him to cup his face.

“Ethan, are you hurt anywhere else?” She checked him over, her worry turning to anger. “Is it those boys again?” She shook her head, tears in her eyes. “How much worse does it have to get before that sorry excuse for a principal does something? That’s it. I’m asking Rafe to go in and speak to him.” She stood, and Ethan grabbed her hand, his eyes wide as he shook his head adamantly. “Ethan, Rafe’s a THIRDS agent now. If that man won’t listen to me, maybe—”

Ethan shook his head, pleading.

“We’ll discuss this with your father later.” She looked at Calvin and blinked, as if seeing him for the first time. “Oh, hello. I’m so sorry. I’m Julia Hobbs.” She held her hand out to Calvin, and he shook it.

“Calvin Summers,” he replied. “It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Hobbs.”

Julia smiled brightly, and Calvin relaxed. She seemed really nice. “Are you a friend of Ethan’s?” she asked, looking to Ethan who nodded, his smile big.

“We’re best friends,” Calvin said cheerfully.

Her eyes grew glassy, and Calvin wondered if he said something wrong.

“Is that okay?”

Julia pressed her lips together, and nodded. “Of course, sweetheart. Hey, would you boys like some milk and chocolate chip cookies? Dinner won’t be ready for another hour. A couple of cookies wouldn’t hurt.” She winked at them, and they followed her excitedly into the kitchen. It was small, with a table and four chairs in one corner. Ethan sat on one side, and Calvin sat across from him. He thanked Julia for the glass of milk, and cookies. They were so good! They were homemade too.

Julia took a seat at the table with a cup of tea. She looked worried. “Calvin, do your parents know where you are?”

“My mom is at work. She won’t get home until nine. May I use your phone later to call her, so she won’t worry?”

“Of course you may. What about your other parent?”

Calvin worried his bottom lip with his teeth, and shrugged. “It’s just me and my mom.”

“And will your mother… be upset if she knows where you are?”

Calvin frowned. “Why would she be upset? She only gets upset if I’m not home when she gets home from work, since it’s late, or if she doesn’t know where I am. Stuff like that.”

“Does she know you and Ethan are best friends?”

Calvin shook his head. “We only became best friends today. She’s going to be really happy.”

Julia perked up. “Oh?”

Calvin nodded and took another bite of his cookie. “She’s a mom. She worries. It’s a new school.”

“And will your mom be okay that your new best friend is a Therian?”

Ethan stiffened, his brows drawn together, and his eyes watery. He pushed his chair back, and jumped down before running from the room. What the heck? Calvin jumped down, and ran after him.

“Ethan!”

Ethan ran into a room, and Calvin followed. There was a set of bunks beds on one side, and another bed on the other side of the room. Ethan threw himself on the bottom bunk, and covered his head with a pillow.

“What’s wrong?” Calvin asked as Ethan curled up on himself. He wouldn’t let go of the pillow when Calvin tried to pull it away.

Julia sat on the edge of the bed, her hand on the pillow where Ethan’s head was buried under. She looked so sad. Calvin looked up at her, not understanding.

“What did I say?”

“Calvin, honey, your mother might not want you to be friends with Ethan.”

Calvin frowned. “Why?”

“Well, because Ethan’s a Therian.”

Calvin stared at her. “Is that all?”

Ethan sat up, and smacked Calvin with the pillow.

“Ethan,” Julia scolded.

Ethan huffed, and crossed his arms over his chest. Was that really it? Wait. Was that why Ethan didn’t have any friends? Because the other kids’ parents didn’t want Ethan? The more he thought about it, the angrier he got.

“That’s stupid!” He marched angrily from one side of the room to the other. Really, he didn’t get very many marches in because the beds were so close together, but he was so stinking mad! “My mom doesn’t care. She says Therians are just like Humans and should be treated like equals.” He spun to face Ethan. “My mom is going to love Ethan. Just you watch.”

Julia smiled wide, and Ethan flew out of the bed, running into Calvin and knocking him over with a big oomph! They hit the floor, and Ethan hugged Calvin tight, making him laugh.

“You’re such a dork,” Calvin said, but he hugged Ethan tight.

“Mom?”

Ethan sat up, his smile huge.

“In here, Seb, darling.”

Calvin sat up, his eyes going huge at the tiger Therian that stepped into the doorway. Oh my Gosh.


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

THIRDS Thursday - 4/26/18

Prompt: Tony and the boys when they were young. I would like to see the first time that Cael had coffee and how they figured out he can’t have it ever again.

PART THREE

Man, his life was weird.

Dex stood just outside his little brother’s bedroom, hands on his hips as he watched Cael bounce around the room like a pinball machine ball. Shortly after his dad asked him to explain what happened, Cael distracted Tony by climbing up on the kitchen island counter, and proclaiming he was Superman. Knowing what was coming—and possessing the instincts of a fierce THIRDS agent and unflappable parent of two boys—Tony dove toward the counter just as Cael jumped, catching him before he could hit the floor belly first. Tony promptly decided they needed to “secure Cael” before any conversations happened.

Tony watched Cael, keeping him from climbing up on any more furniture while Dex “Cael-proofed” the bedroom. Every couch cushion, pillow, comforter, mattress, and throw pillow was currently in Cael’s room, lining the walls and floor. The furniture had been removed so Cael couldn’t climb anything and jump. Being a felid, Cael’s first instinct was to climb, and as he was not in his Therian form, not to mention still just a kid, there was no landing on his feet.

Until the caffeine wore off, there’d be no playing with anything that wasn’t soft and squishy. Not that Cael cared. He was too busy flinging himself at mattresses.

“Okay, now that we’ve taken care of your brother, explain,” Tony said, arms crossed over his chest.

“I left him alone for like two minutes! I didn’t know he was going to drink all my coffee, and you know what a pain in the ass it is to catch him, and on caffeine it’s even harder.

Tony narrowed his eyes. “What did I say about language and tone?”

“Oh, come on!”

“Dex,” Tony warned.

Dex thrust a finger out in Cael’s direction. “He was in a tree! Naked! Do you know how embarrassing that was?”

“Are you saying you’re embarrassed of your brother?”

Dex’s temper flared. “How can you say that? I was defending him! That asshole called him an animal and I wanted to punch his lights out, but you’re always telling us that you can’t fight stupid with violence. I would never be embarrassed of him. Why would you ask me that?”

“Why are you so angry?” Tony asked, his expression unreadable like always.

“Because I am.” Dex started pacing, his hands balling into fists at his sides. “Why do people have to be such assholes? Why can’t they just leave us alone? So what if we’re different? Who cares?”

“Son?”

Dex was so angry he wanted to punch something. “Fucking assholes.”

“Dexter.”

The soft-spoken word had Dex stopping in his tracks, and he reluctantly turned to face his dad, his eyes stinging at Tony’s concerned expression.

“What’s this really about, kiddo?”

“I left Cael alone because Tommy was at the diner. He was kissing another boy.”

“Oh.” Tony’s expression softened. “I’m so sorry, son.”

“He said it wasn’t serious.” Dex sniffed, and rubbed his eyes, hating that he couldn’t hold back the tears. “He was never going to be serious about me because… because you work for the THIRDS, and Cael’s a Therian.”

“Come here,” Tony said, pulling him close. Dex stubbornly didn’t move until his quietly dad said his name again then Dex flung himself into his dad’s strong arms. No matter what happened, his dad would always be there for him. “I know you cared about Tommy, but it’s clear he’s not mature enough to really understand you. If he has a problem with who you are, or who your family is, he doesn’t deserve you, kiddo. You’re too good for a guy like that.”

“Why don’t they ever stick around?” Dex asked, crying into his dad’s chest. It sucked. Boyfriends were jerks.

“Because you haven’t found the right guy for you. One day, you’re going to meet him, and he’s going to love you for who you are, because of who you are. He’s going to think he’s the luckiest guy in the world because you love him. It won’t be perfect. No relationship ever is. And I’m sure you’ll fight, and drive each other crazy, but you’ll stick by each other’s side through thick and thin. You’ll see. When you least expect it, you’ll run into him.”

Dex hugged his dad tight. “Thanks, Dad.”

“Dex.”

The wobbly, sniffly voice had Dex pulling away from his dad. He turned to find Cael standing on the other side of the mattress blocking the doorway, bottom lip trembling, big gray eyes filled with tears.

“Yeah?”

Cael lifted his arms, and Dex picked him up, laughing softly when Cael wrapped himself around Dex. Looked like the caffeine was finally wearing off.

“I’m sorry.” Cael sniffed before he started wailing in Dex’s ear. “Don’t be mad.”

“It’s okay, Chirpy,” Dex assured him gently, rubbing a hand soothingly over his back. “I’m not mad.”

“Tommy’s a butthead,” Cael said through his tears.

Dex chuckled. “He is a butthead.”

“You should—” Hiccup. “Put frogs—” Hiccup. “In his locker.”

“I don’t think the frogs would like that.”

Cael nodded his agreement. He pulled away enough to look skeptically at Dex. “You promise you’re not mad at me?”

“I promise,” Dex assured him.

Cael hugged him tight before turning and holding his arms out to their dad. Tony took him from Dex, and Cael snuggled up close.

“How about we order a Therian-sized pizza from our favorite place?” Tony headed toward the stairs, and Dex followed.

“With extra cheese?” Cael asked, perking up.

“With extra cheese,” Tony agreed.

“Yay!”

As they headed downstairs to the kitchen, Dex shoved his hands into his jean pockets. Cael rambled on about how yucky coffee tasted and when could he have hot chocolate again, and for a moment Dex thought he was off the hook. They reached the kitchen, and Tony settled Cael at the dinner table with his Gameboy so he could order the pizza. He turned to Dex and arched an eyebrow.

“No phone for a week.”

Dex let his head fall back with an epic sigh. “But, Daaaad. I’ll be socially isolated.”

“You’ll see your friends at school,” Tony replied, heading for the phone.

“Yeah, but what if something happens after school? And what about over the weekend? How am I supposed to stay in the loop? My reputation will suffer.”

“You’re a teenager. You don’t have a reputation.”

“Totally not true.” Dex threw himself dramatically on the couch, face buried against the cushion. Man, he couldn’t wait until he was an adult. Things would be so much easier then.

“You know better than to turn your back on your brother. A few seconds is all it takes. What if he’d gotten hurt?”

Dex grunted.

The couch cushion dipped, and Dex turned his head, bottom lip jutted out when Tony put a hand to Dex’s hair.

“You’re a good brother, Dex, and I know it’s not easy. I’m at work a lot these days, and sometimes you just want to be out being a teenager, but it’s just the three of us kiddo. We have to look out for each other.”

Dex’s heart squeezed in his chest. “I know.” He hated that his dad had lost almost all his friends and family after adopting him and Cael, though it had been the Therian baby that had been the real issue for them. Screw them. They didn’t deserve his dad. “Can I still have friends over?”

“Yes, you can still have friends over.” Tony stood, and went back to the phone. “I’m sorry we missed the movie tonight. How about we go tomorrow?”

Both Dex and Cael jumped up from their seats.

“Can we get popcorn?” Cael asked excitedly.

“And nachos,” Dex added. “With extra cheese.”

Tony laughed. “Yes, fine.”

“Woot!” Dex turned to Cael, and they high-fived while doing silly victory dances around the kitchen. They had the best dad ever, and he was right. One day Dex would find the perfect guy for him, and their family would be even bigger and more awesome. One day.


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

THIRDS Thursday - 4/19/18

Prompt: Tony and the boys when they were young. I would like to see the first time that Cael had coffee and how they figured out he can’t have it ever again.

PART TWO

Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod! Don’t freak out. It’s cool. Everything’s cool. So his hyperactive, cheetah Therian little brother ate a bunch of sugar and drank an entire cappuccino. It was fine. They were fine.

“Dex,” Cael whispered loudly.

“Yeah?” Maybe Dex had gotten lucky and the caffeine wasn’t affecting Cael. Other than the blown pupils, he was just sitting there. Shit. He was just sitting there.

“Everything is so sparkly.” Cael gasped. “It’s like magic! Let’s go the enchanted woods!”

“The what now?”

Cael jumped up in his seat, and Dex made a dive for him, but he wasn’t fast enough. His brother scrambled onto the table then jumped off before running out the door.

“Oh crap!” Dex grabbed Cael’s backpack, and hauled ass out of the diner after Cael, shouting out apologies as he pushed people out of his way. Cael was heading straight for West 22nd St. “Cael, stop!” Dex ran as fast as he could, snatching Cael by the back of his T-shirt just as a car came careening around the corner. He jerked Cael back against him as the car skidded to a halt, horn blaring, the guy behind the wheel cursing him out, and flipping him off.

“Butthead!” Cael shouted at the guy before dropping to his knees, leaving Dex with an empty shirt in his hand. What the heck was happening right now?

“Cael!” Dex chased his brother into the park, and then his annoying little brother disappeared into the bushes. “Damn it, Cael! Get your little butt out here! I swear, if I get grounded because of you, I’ll—”

“Hi, Dex! Dexter! Look at me! Dex!”

Dex stomped through the bushes, parting shrubbery, and checking behind trees. Little, snot-nosed—

“Look how high I am, Dex!”

Dex’s eyes widened. No way. No, no, no. He looked up, and gasped. Cael sat on a tree branch, in his underwear, swinging his legs.

“Where the hell are your pants?” Just as he said the words, they fell onto his head. He snatched them off then glared at his brother. Of course he’d gone up a tree. Why wouldn’t he? He was a felid. A felid hopped up on caffeine. Scaling a tree in a public park, half naked made perfect sense. Their dad was going to kill Dex. No, first he was going to ground Dex for life, then he’d kill him.

“How did you get up there?” Dex walked around the tree trying to find something he could use to boost him up. How the hell had Cael done it? He was nine, and tiny.

“If I go higher maybe I can touch the clouds!”

“No,” Dex scolded. “No touching the clouds. No touching anything. Just sit there and don’t move until I figure out how to get you down.” He looked frantically around, ignoring Cael’s whine.

“But I want to. Deeeex, they’re so fluffy!”

“They are not fluffy. They’re just water drops floating in the sky.” There had to be something.

“That sounds like science! You’re a science nerd!” Cael cackled his little face off.

“You take that back!” Dex dropped Cael’s stuff at the trunk of the tree before finding a bump sticking out from the tree on one side. It must be what Cael had used. He put his sneaker to it and pushed off in the hopes of reaching one of the heavy branches. Damn felids. And Cael wasn’t even full grown. Why couldn’t his brother have done what any other kid would have done and run for the Jungle Gym? Nope. His brother had to involve nature.

“Are you okay? Do you need me to call the police?” A bystander asked. He looked up and squinted. “Or the THIRDS.”

“Nope. I’m good,” Dex said, making another jump, his fingers grazing the branch.

“Are you sure? The kid’s one of them. We should call the THIRDS. What if he’s dangerous?”

Dex stopped jumping and narrowed his eyes. “He’s nine years old and sitting in a tree in his underwear. He’s not dangerous.”

“He’s a felid,” the guy replied, frowning deeply.

“He’s just a kid, and he’s a cheetah Therian. He gets distracted by yarn balls. Thanks for your concern, but it’s fine.”

The guy folded his arms over his chest. “He’s an animal.”

Dex stilled. He moved away from the tree. “What did you call my brother?”

The guy’s eyes widened, his hands dropping to his side. “But… you’re Human.”

“And you’re an asshole,” Dex snapped.

“That’s it, I’m calling the THIRDS,” the guy snarled.

“No need.”

They all turned at the gravelly voice, Cael’s happy shout the only sound in the otherwise quiet park that was no crowded with bystanders.

“Daddy!”

Tony was in full uniform, his black windbreaker displaying THIRDS in large white letters on his back. He looked huge, and scary like he always did in his uniform. Everyone took as step back as Tony approached the tree. He arched an eyebrow at Cael.

“Cael.”

Cael’s bottom lip wobbled, and he sat at the end of the branch. Tony held his arms out, and Cael dropped down into them. Tony caught him like it was nothing, and Cael wrapped himself around their dad.

“I’m sorry, Daddy,” Cael said with a sniff. “I drank all of Dex’s coffee, and now I need to wee, and everything’s really loud and bright, and I can hear colors!”

“It’s okay, kiddo.” Tony patted Cael’s back, and turned to Dex. “Grab your brother’s things.”

Dex hopped to it, stopping beside his dad who paused to narrow his eyes at the man who’d been a jerk earlier.

“Was there something you wanted to say to me about my son?”

The guy looked like he was about to pass out. He was sweating. A lot. “Uh, no. Nope. I mean, no, Sir.”

Tony grunted. “Good.” He turned to Dex. “Help me take off my jacket.”

Dex quickly helped Tony take off his windbreaker, first one arm then the other before Tony wrapped Cael up in it, and held him close.

“Let’s go. Your brother needs to burn through the caffeine in his system.”

Parked on the curb was one of the THIRDS huge black SUVs. Tony opened the back door then climbed in with Cael. Dex climbed in after him, and shut the door. Behind the wheel was a huge guy in uniform with fair hair.

“Dex, this is our newest recruit to Unit Alpha, Rafe. Rafe, this is my son Dex, and my youngest, Cael.”

Dex tried not to stare at the guy who turned briefly to nod a greeting at Dex. He had hazel-green eyes, and a very stern expression. Yep, kinda terrifying.

“What kind of Therian are you?” Dex asked.

“Dex,” Tony scolded. “Manners.”

“Sorry,” Dex muttered. He wasn’t trying to be rude, he’d just never seen a Therian that big before. Not up close. There weren’t a lot of Therians at his high school, and most of them were way smaller than this guy.

“Tiger,” Rafe replied gruffly as the car started moving.

“Cool.” Dex had been doing all kinds of research on Therians. Even though he planned on joining the HPF instead of the THIRDS, Tony said it was important for him to know as much as he could about Therians if he wanted to make a difference. Tony had told Dex all about how his mon, and his dad, John, had believed in Therian equality. They’d wanted to make a difference, and so did Dex. The HPF was filled with anti-Therians. Dex was going to change that.

“Get dressed, kiddo.” Tony said, handing Cael his clothes. “I’m sorry I’m late. The THIRDS is making some structural changes,” Tony explained. “We’ve got new recruits coming in daily, along with some new Team Leaders. I’ve been assigned my own team.”

“That’s awesome! What’s it called?”

“Destructive Delta. The Team Leader I have in mind is a little young, but I think he’s going to do great.”

“What’s his name?”

Tony opened his mouth to reply when the SUV stopped.

“Here you go, Sarge.”

“Thanks for the ride, Rafe.” Tony patted Rafe’s shoulder. “See you Monday.”

“You’ve got the weekend off?” Dex hopped out of the car, and grabbed Cael who was singing quietly to himself, making Dex smile. Little dork.

“Yep.” Tony closed the SUV door, and ushered them toward the house. “Things are going to get a little crazy—crazier—at work, so I was given the weekend off.”

Both Dex and Cael jumped and cheered as they ran into the house. A whole weekend with their dad! Ever since Tony joined the THIRDS he’d been working way more hours than he’d been at the HPF. A whole weekend was going to be totally awesome.

“So,” Tony said, arms crossed over his chest, and a deep frown as he faced Dex. “Explain the coffee?”

“Coffee!” Cael whooped and started running around the living room screaming, arms flailing, and somehow he was in his underwear again.

Dex was so going to be grounded.


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

THIRDS Thursday - 4/12/18

Prompt: Tony and the boys when they were young. I would like to see the first time that Cael had coffee and how they figured out he can’t have it ever again.


PART ONE

“When’s Dad going to get here?” Cael huffed, swinging his legs back and forth on his side of the booth, his feet not touching the floor. “I’m hungry. And thirsty.”

“Soon,” Dex replied, rifling through Cael’s Tiny Toon Adventures backpack. “He probably got stuck at work.” He pulled out a sandwich bag with some pretzel sticks then handed them to Cael who scrunched his nose up at them. “Just until Dad gets here. Then you can have a burger that’s bigger than your head.”

“But I’m so hungry now,” Cael moaned. “I could die.”

Dex rolled his eyes. And his dad said he was dramatic. “You’re not gonna die.” He pulled out a kiddie cup with water, and placed that in front of Cael who eyed it like it was going to eat his flesh or something. “Would you just chill out.”

“Dex,” Cael whined.

Dex put his hand up. “Talk to the hand.” His hand was smacked away, and he was met with a very stern pout.

“How come you get to have pie?”

“Because I’m not a cheetah Therian whose hormones are all over the place.” Cael had his first shift just a little under two years ago, and since then his little Therian hormones were going nuts. The doctor told them not to give him anything with too much sugar or caffeine. His mood swings were totally freaked out. Sometimes he was sweet and adorable, sometimes everything made him cry, and sometimes he was a little shit.

“As if! You’re a teenager, so your hormones are just as bad.”

The duh was implied.

“Are you giving me sass?” Dex arched an eyebrow at him.

Cael’s exasperated sigh was loud as he rolled his eyes. He tilted his head and studied Dex who took a sip of his cappuccino because finally his dad said he could have coffee. Not that he hadn’t had coffee a long time ago, but now his dad knew about it. The diner didn’t actually offer cappuccinos, but the waitress thought he was cute, so he’d batted his lashes at her and boo ya! Cappuccino.

“Why does all your clothes have stripes now?”

“Because it’s cool,” Dex replied.

“You look like Freddie Krueger.” Cael giggled his face off at his own joke.

“Are you saying I haunt people’s nightmares?”

Cael nodded, his expression turning very serious. “Except you don’t kill people, you just annoy them.”

Wow. Pre-teens were the best. Not.

Dex brushed his long bangs away from his eyes, and glared at his little brother. “I remember when you used to be cute.”

Cael smiled wide and put his index fingers to his dimples. “I am cute.”

Dex snorted. “Whatever.”

“And your jeans are full of holes.”

“That is also cool.”

“It’s silly.”

“Because you’re nine.”

“Nine and a half,” Cael clarified. “If your boyfriend kisses another boy does that mean he’s not your boyfriend anymore?”

Dex almost choked on his coffee. “What?” he wheezed.

“I said, if your boyfriend kisses another boy does that mean he’s not your boyfriend anymore?”

Dex wiped the coffee he’d dribbled on himself. “Why would you ask that?”

Cael pointed behind Dex, and Dex turned to find his boyfriend—no, ex-boyfriend—sucking face with another guy. Dex jumped out of the booth, and marched over, his arms crossed over his chest.

“Hey, Tommy. Found his tonsils yet?”

Tommy jumped so high, he hit the table with his knees, spilling the milkshake he was sharing with some guy who was not Dex.

“Dex! What—what are you doing here? I thought you were going to the movies with your dad and little brother.”

“I am. Unlike you, I didn’t lie.” Dex grinned widely at the blond guy who looked like he was about to freak out. “Hi, I’m Dex. Tommy’s ex-boyfriend as of….” He checked his watch. “Two minutes ago, when I discovered he was a cheating asshole.”

“Come on, Dex,” Tommy said, running his hands through his long hair. “It’s not like it was serious or nothing. I mean, your dad works for the THIRDS and your brother’s… one of them.”

Dex flinched. He hadn’t expected that. “One of what?” he asked through his teeth.

“You know,” Tommy muttered, shrinking back into his seat as Dex loomed over him.

“I don’t know. I need you to be more specific, Tommy. You didn’t seem to have a problem with my family when you were moaning my name in the boy’s locker room during the pep rally.”

“Dex,” Tommy hissed, his gaze darting around the diner, and his face as red as his hair.

“Wait,” blond guy said, sitting up with a frown. “Last week’s pep rally?”

Tommy groaned and slunk down so far in the booth he was almost on the floor.

“You said you had band practice!”

Dex grinned. “Oh, he was blowing something all right, but it wasn’t a clarinet.”

The blond grabbed the milkshake and threw it in Tommy’s face. Dex jumped back quick enough not to get strawberry milkshake all over him. He laughed as the guy stomped out of the diner.

“Dex, please, I’m sorry.” Tommy grabbed his hand, trying to stop him from going. “It won’t happen again. I promise.”

Dex snatched his hand away. “You bet your ass it won’t. We’re over Tommy.” Jerk. He marched back to his booth, and stopped short. A gasp escaped him at the sight of pie crumbs, but it was the empty cappuccino mug that was freaking him out. He looked at Cael who was completely still, his pupils blown so big his silver eyes were black.

“Cael, where’s my coffee?”

Cael smiled big, and Dex took a step back.

“I drank it. Aaaaalllll of it.”

O.M.G.


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

THIRDS Thursday - 4/5/18 Love and Payne Excerpt + Giveaway

Hello, all! April has arrived, and for me that means edits, edits, edits. This month I'm working on edits for Love in Spades and Love and Payne. Plus I'm writing the second Kings book Be Still My Heart. These fellas are certainly keeping me busy!

For this week's THIRDS Thursday we have an excerpt from Zach and Austen's book, Love and Payne. Don't worry, no spoilers included! I'm so excited about introducing you all to the Zachary clan. Zach and Austen's book has been a long time coming. I hope you all enjoy following these two on their road to love. You can bet it's going to be a bumpy ride!

Also, there's a giveaway! Check the end of the post for more info.

Love and Payne Excerpt

“Who the fuck are you guys?” Edan asked, his wide eyes on Brayden.

“You okay?” Brayden asked, stepping up to Edan, his expression softening. “Did they hurt you?”

What the hell? “I’m fine, buddy. Thanks for asking,” Austen said dryly, catching his breath.

Brayden gave Austen a sheepish smile. “Sorry.”

“Whatever.” Austen waved a hand in dismissal before dropping onto the couch. Not like he could—or wanted to—compete with eye candy like Edan. The guy was sexy as sin, with bad boy looks and muscles to spare.

Colin glanced from Austen to Brayden and back before erupting. “What the ever-loving fuck is going on!”

Austen let out a snort. “And he says I curse a lot.”

Bram stood at the foot of Zach’s bed. “Caley said Zach’s boyfriend was in trouble.”

“I’m not his boyfriend,” Austen said with a heavy sigh. Why the hell did everyone think he was Zach’s boyfriend? Wait…. Austen sat up and peered at Edan, who was Zach’s partner in crime. The two were always together. “Did he tell you I was his boyfriend?”

Bram shook his head, and Colin let out a snort, his amber eyes boring into Austen. “If our baby brother had a boyfriend, he would have told us.”

“Well….”

Everyone turned to look at Edan, who cleared his throat, addressing Austen. “He never specifically used the word boyfriend, but the way he talks about you, and how often he talks about you, made me wonder. You’re Austen Payne, right? SSA for Destructive Delta.”

Colin frowned at his brother. “How come this is the first time I’m hearing about this?”

Edan rolled his eyes. “Because you go all Terminator protector mode on him. You know how much he hates that.”

Colin narrowed his eyes, then moved his wary gaze to Austen. “You and I are going to have a long talk about this.”

“No, we’re not,” Austen said, getting up. “Here’s what’s going to happen.” He pointed at Bram. “You’re going to call Lieutenant Sparks and tell her exactly what happened. She’ll take it from there.” He moved his finger to Edan. “You will relay to your lieutenant whatever Sparks tells you.” He turned to Colin. “And you’re going to make sure no one in your family knows what happened here. Meanwhile, I’m going to find a safe place to hide Zach.”

Colin moved forward. “Are you out of your mind? Who the hell do you think you are?”

Austen stepped up to Colin and poked him in the chest. “I’m the guy who’s going to keep your brother alive. Now you listen here. I’m only going to say this once. My priority is keeping Zach safe. Someone sent two trained killers after your brother. They won’t be the last. How do I know that?” He crouched beside the wolf Therian he’d killed, and pulled down the glove to reveal a tattoo of a black heart shredded through with a clawed hand around it. “Because these guys belong to the same network of killers for hire.”

“And you think the THIRDS can’t keep him safe?” Colin asked, sounding affronted. “You think you can keep him safe?” He let out a derisive laugh, and Austen bristled.

“You’re not just an SSA,” Edan said, looking from Austen to Brayden and back, “are you?”

Brayden gave nothing away. He came to stand beside Austen, his hands clasped in front of him.

“I’ve never seen SSAs fight like that.” Edan crossed his tree-trunk arms over his wide chest. “Considering your connections, I’m going to go with TIN.”

The air was sucked out of the room, the two remaining Zachary brothers staring at them in stunned silence.

“I can neither confirm nor deny that information. What I can confirm is that your brother is in someone’s crosshairs, and as skilled as you and your brothers are, my security clearance and skillset are above your paygrade. I can keep him safe.”

“And we’re just supposed to take your word for it? If you really are TIN, then for all we know your being here is what put him in danger in the first place,” Colin snarled, his hands curling into fists as he took a step toward Austen. Brayden placed himself between Colin and Austen. He had to lift his chin and stand on his toes, but the growl that followed his hiss was impressive for a guy who looked about as terrifying as a fluffy bunny.

“Listen here. Austen has been doing this far longer than you have. If he says he’s the best guy for the job, he’s the best guy for the job.”

“I don’t care who you guys are,” Colin spat, looming over them with a menacing scowl. “We’re his brothers. There’s no way in hell we’re going to stand down.”

Bram nodded his agreement. “We’re involved whether you like it or not. He’s our baby brother, so we’re not going to leave him out there on his own. I don’t care who you work for or how good you guys are.”

Austen knew enough about the Zacharys to know the brothers weren’t going to back down. Bear Therians were almost as stubborn as lion Therians. Almost. Austen let out a heavy sigh.

“Okay. But just Bram and Edan.”

“No way,” Colin ground out. “You’re not keeping me out of this.”

“You got kids. Hell, you have grandkids, Colin.” Austen shook his head. “I’m not having that shit on my conscience.”

“This isn’t up for discussion,” Colin stated firmly.

Goddamn bear Therians and their stubborn asses.

GIVEAWAY

Hello, all! I'm giving away a THIRDS swag pack which includes this snazzy TIN tote bag! Giveaway is open internationally.

To enter just leave a comment below with which THIRDS couple/characters you want to see get their book next!

Giveaway ends April 30th at midnight EST. Please allow a week for shipment of your goodies.

*** WINNER UPDATE ***

Thank you all so much for joining in the fun! Chosen at random, the winner is Didi P.! If you didn't win this time around, don't worry, we have more giveaways heading this way! Thank you!


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.

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