Tag - THIRDS Thursday

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 - 3/8/18

Prompt: I would like to see our DD boys and girls along with their big cats having some fun and frolics in the snow after we only got a small taste of this in Calvin and Hobbs book...and any other THIRDS colleagues would be welcome to join in the playful games.


FINAL PART

“Damn it, Letty, stop stepping on my feet!”

Dex chuckled as Calvin and Letty—the two most competitive members of their group outside of Dex—continued to yell and tease each other. The tug of war seemed to be going nowhere fast. Letty and Calvin were on one side with Seb, Cael, and Hudson behind them while on the other side, Rosa led the team with Ash, Sloane, and Hobbs. Rafe lay in the snow to one side, tail twitching as he watched the two teams as if it were a tennis match. Dex could hear Hudson’s growls from where he stood. They were so not going to get that rope away from him when this was over.

Lucky for him, his friends all seemed determined to win, giving Dex plenty of time to put together the huge lion head, then the even bigger mane. He was smoothing out the big lion butt when he heard Letty’s curses, and looked up just in time to see her go head first into the mound of snow in the middle, followed by Calvin. Seb and Cael smartly let go of the rope which left it in Hudson’s jaws. He wagged his tail happily, and trotted off, rope dragging behind him. Rosa was on the ground laughing her ass off as Nina chased Hudson.

“No! Give it here! Hudson, you come back here this instant!”

Hudson paused long enough to wag his tail at her before darting off at full speed. Nina dove for the end of the rope, managing to catch it just before Hudson could get away. He stopped, and growled, shaking his head, and in turn the rope.

“Drop it,” Nina scolded. “Hudson.”

Hudson lowered his front, wagging butt in the air.

“Don’t get cute with me.” She marched over, and Hudson quickly released the rope, laying his head on it, his big eyes looking up at Nina. Dex snickered. She stood no chance. No one could resist that furry face. She was playing right into his paws.

“Damn it. Fine. But I want it back when you’re done. Try not to drool all over it.”

Hudson let out a series of little howls before he snagged the rope again and happily carried it over to Seb, dropping it at his paws. Seb chuffed, and Hudson plopped down against him, licking his muzzle. They were stinking adorable.

“Oh my God,” Rosa gasped then burst into laughter.

Dex stood back to admire his handy work as his friends ran over. “So who wants a picture first?”

“Ooh, me!” Rosa said, hand in the air as she jumped up and down.

Dex hadn’t just built any snow Ash. He’d made a snow Ash with his head lowered on his front paws, his mouth set in a snarl, and his big kitty butt in the air. It was also big enough for them to sit on and get pictures. He’d also found an old faded red baseball cap that he cut up and used for a little tongue. A flurry of brown mane swished over, and Dex grinned widely as Ash stared at his frosty doppelganger. He stretched his neck out to sniff at the faux lion.

“What do you think?” Dex asked, patting snow Ash’s mane. “I’m no artist, but I think I captured the snarl perfectly.”

Ash growled, sitting up on his hind legs and batting the snow lion with his paws like he was in a boxing match with it. Calvin was red in the face and on his back in the snow he was laughing so hard. Poor Hobbs sniffed at him like he was concerned about how much oxygen his boyfriend was getting at the moment. Letty was recording, while Nina took pictures, and Rosa was taking selfies on snow Ash. Cael sniffed at snow Ash, and a tiny pink tongue stuck out to lick its mane which brought Ash’s pummeling to a screeching halt.

“I can’t,” Dex hissed as he plopped down in the snow, Sloane coming to sit beside him. “Oh my God, this is better than I could have hoped for.”

Cael licked at the snow, and Ash huffed, getting Cael’s attention. Another huff, and Cael just twitched his tail. Dex had no idea what Felid conversation was happening right now, only that Cael’s apparent licking of snow Ash broke something in real Ash, and the dude went down. He flopped onto the snow, head on his paws, tail smacking against the snow. Dex gasped.

“No way. Simba thought you were licking another lion, Chirpy.”

Ash huffed, and buried his face under his paws. As gruff and testosterone-fueled as Ash was, he was ridiculously sweet when it came to Cael, and of course he was even worse in his Therian form, because although his Human side understood lion made of snow, he didn’t understand that was him made of snow. Cael chirped at Ash, and pushed his nose against Ash’s paws.

Dex crawled over to Ash, and ignored every rule against prodding agitated Felid. He tugged on Ash’s ear.

Ash sprung up with a roar, and snarled at Dex who just arched an eyebrow at his friend. He knew Ash wouldn’t hurt him. He might be an asshole, but he was still Ash.

“Hey, big guy. That’s you,” Dex said, pointing to the snow lion.

Ash peered at him before moving his head to the lion then back to Dex with a huff.

“Yes, fuzzball. I made a snow you. Your boyfriend was grossly licking a snow version of you.”

Ash sat on his haunches, and ex waited while that little tidbit sank into his kitty brain. His tail twitched, and Ash straightened.

“There it is.”

Ash mewed, and Cael pounced on him, licking and nuzzling him. Ash closed his eyes in contentment, basking in Cael’s attention. Dex looked over at Letty.

“Make sure I don’t forget this moment.”

Letty looked puzzled. “You want to remember your brother bathing Ash with his tongue?”

“What—Oh God, why, Letty?” Now he needed brain bleach.

“That’s what you get for joking about my hormones.”

Dex let his head hang. “Right. Got it. Consider the lesson learned. And no, I meant make sure I never forget Ash being jealous over a snow version of himself.”

“Oh, there’s no forgetting,” Rosa chimed in. “We have both video and photographic evidence which is backed up to the cloud.”

Once they’d had their fun, they helped the guys with PSTC, and when everyone was dressed, and steadily walking on two legs again, they all went for a hot meal at a nearby bar. Sloane leaned into Dex, murmuring quietly.

“Babe, I’m a little concerned for your safety right now.”

Dex laughed, especially when Sloane put his arm around Dex’s shoulder, his narrowed gaze on Ash. If looks could kill, Dex would have been dead times over by now.

“So, what’s everyone having?” Dex said, looking at his menu. “Oh look, the porterhouse steak comes with snow peas.”

Sloane groaned, and Ash leaned forward, his voice a low growl. “So, help me if you tell anyone about what happened, I will end you.”

“Tell anyone what? That you got jealous of snow version of yourself?”

“I wasn’t jealous,” Ash hissed.

“Really? Because the photos show otherwise.”

Ash stared at him. “What? What photos?”

Letty waved her phone at him, and he groaned before dropping his face into his hands. “Oh God. I’m never going to live this down.”

“It’s okay, Ash. No one’s going to show those to anyone,” Cael cooed, wrapping himself around Ash, and nuzzling his ear. “Besides, you know you’re the only one. I thought the snow version of you was just so cute. I didn’t want you to demolish it.”

Ash peered at him. “Really?”

“Yep. Of course nothing beats the real thing,” Cael said with a smile, and the two kissed like no one was watching. Dex rolled his eyes, and lifted his menu. He turned to Sloane who stole a kiss.

“Was it everything you hoped for?”

“And more,” Dex said, snuggling close, a shiver running through him.

“Aw, you cold, baby?”

He was just a little, but he wasn’t about to give up this golden opportunity to be cuddled by his big, sexy man. He nodded, and Sloane wrapped both arms around him, holding him close. He nuzzled the sides of Dex’s head, kissing his temple before they both went back to looking over the menu. The rest of their friends chatting, teasing, and laughing. Dex let out a happy sigh. Best snow day ever.


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

THIRDS Thursday - 3/1/18

Prompt: I would like to see our DD boys and girls along with their big cats having some fun and frolics in the snow after we only got a small taste of this in Calvin and Hobbs book...and any other THIRDS colleagues would be welcome to join in the playful games.


PART TWO

“Why did I agree to this again?” Calvin grumbled from beside Dex.

“Because your boyfriend is a big loveable dork who you’d do anything for, and there’s nothing more entertaining than watching a Felid hop through the snow like a giant rabbit.” As if on cue, Hobbs leaped onto a big pile of snow, his heavy weight sinking in and leaving nothing but his tail twitching high in the air making it look like the telescope of a submarine.

“He is such a dork,” Calvin said, shaking his head, though his smile couldn’t be any wider, and his blue eyes were filled with so much love for Hobbs. “Watch, now he’s going to need helping getting out.”

Sure enough, a low mew rose from the mound of snow, and the two of them broke into laughter. Calvin went off to dig Hobbs out of his mountain of snow. This part of Central Park was Therian friendly, as in they allowed Therians to play in their Therian forms. There were indoor changing rooms that were air conditioned in the summer, and heated in the winter, and vending machines that offered special PSTC protein bars and Gatorade.

Rosa, Letty, and Nina arrived with Seb, Hudson, Ash, and Cael. A huge tiger slinked close to Nina, and Dex was surprised to find it was Rafe.

“Well, I’ll be damned. Look who’s joining in the fun.”

Sloane chuffed beside him, and nudge his leg, looking for an ear scratch which Dex promptly gave. He crouched down in front of Sloane, smiling when Sloane nudged his big kitty nose against Dex’s.

“Yeah, I love you too.” He rubbed at Sloane’s fur before motioning behind him. “Remember the plan?”

Sloane looked over at Ash who had his face lifted, the winter breeze sweeping through his massive dark mane. It was so going to frizz once the snow got into it and melted it, and when it did, Dex would be ready to snag photographic evidence. Then he’d add them to his growing collection, one he planned to have compiled into a slideshow of Ash’s bad hair days.  

A lick to his face snapped him out of it and he arched an eyebrow at his fiancé. “Really? Are you trying to freeze my face off?”

Sloane released a huff before rubbing his face against Dex’s chest. There was no way he couldn’t hug his fluffy Felid.

“Mm, you’re so warm.” Dex snuggled Sloane, his temperature dropping, but not enough for him to need the extra layers he brought with him. He pulled back, and tugged on Sloane’s ear. “You ready?” Sloane batted his arm away, making him laugh. “Operation Distract Ash is a go!”

Sloane took off like a furry snowplow, something he’d clearly learned from Ash.

Seb and Hudson bounded by, and Cael was chirping his little face off as he wriggled around in the snow making his own Felid-shaped snow angel. Calvin was done digging his boyfriend out of the snow. Hobbs chuffed, and tore off after his brother and Hudson.

“Hey, Dex.” Rosa hugged him tight. Her big brown eyes filled with concern. “How are you feeling?”

Dex shrugged. “The hot flashes come and go.”

Letty shook her head, her lips pressed together to keep herself from laughing. Dex narrowed his eyes.

“Laugh it up, Guerrera. This will be you in a few years.”

“A few?” Letty punched him in the arm. Hard. Dex couldn’t help his snicker at her indignant glare.

“What? It’s all part of getting older. You can’t fight nature.”

She flipped him off before storming away to Dex’s cackle. Calvin stared at him like he’d lost his mind.

“You’re either the bravest guy I know, or the dumbest. The verdict is still out there on that one.”

“What? It’s fine.” Just as he’d said the words, he got beamed in the head with a snowball that almost knocked him off his feet.

“Ouch! The fuck!” He rubbed the side of his head, and turned to glare at Letty who was looking far to smug for her own good. “Jesus Christ, woman. You trying to kill me?”

“Pfft. You’re the only Human we know with nine lives, Daley,” Letty said as she walked over, what looked like a snow cannonball in her gloved hand.

Dex batted his lashes at her. “Half Human actually.” He rubbed at his head. “I’m waiting for my catlike reflexes to kick in.”

“Lord help us all,” Calvin muttered.

“Glad to see Rafe came along,” Dex said, motioning to the huge tiger making his way over. He sat on his haunches beside Nina, and rubbed his big furry head against her leg. She smiled sweetly at him, and scratched him behind his ears.

“He didn’t want to miss out on the fun.”

Hobbs chuffed in the distance, and they looked up to find him swatting pawfuls of snow at Seb before Seb tackled him to the ground. Rafe huffed out a breath, and headed off toward his brothers. Dex noticed the sadness that came into Nina’s eyes.

“Everything okay?”

She blinked at him, as if not realizing she’d slipped away there for a moment. “Yeah, sorry. He’s hurting today, but he was determined to come. His relationship with Ethan is going so well, he doesn’t want to miss anything. It pains him that he wasn’t there for Ethan growing up, and he wants to make up for some of that lost time.”

Rafe wasn’t moving as quick as his brothers, but he gave as good as he got. When Seb pounced on his tail, Rafe whipped out a paw, and smacked him in the head. Seb flopped over into the snow, paws up in surrender. Hobbs was too stinking adorable for words as he nuzzled Rafe who sat in the snow, head held high like a regal king surveying his kingdom.

“We’re going to play tug of war,” Rosa said. “You in?”

“I’ll join you in a minute. There’s something I need to do first.” Dex waited until everyone was busy getting the snow mound ready for the tug of war. “Don’t forget to get Hudson on your team,” he called out. If there was rope tugging being done, you wanted a wolf Therian on your team. One they got their jaws on a rope, there was no letting go. Dex chuckled to himself because he knew once the game was over, the girls were going to have one hell of a time getting that rope away from Hudson.

Scanning the field, he saw a big furry black thing whiz by, followed by a bouncing, chirping Cael as they chased Ash. Perfect. He quickly found the right spot, and began his abominable snow Ash. He’d have to work fast, but he could totally do it. Sloane managed to get Ash in on the tug of war, so their grumpy Felid friend would be busy for a while. There was no way Ash would pass up a chance to win and gloat about it. Dex pushed heaps of snow together, patting it firmly as quick as he could. He piled lots of snow on one end, then the other, extended the snow on the front half as wide as he could. He needed the snow to be as firm as possible. He had plans. Big plans. When optimal Ash annoyance was on the line, there was no time for dillydallying. He pulled the sculpting tool out of his pocket. Oh yeah, it was on now.


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

THIRDS Thursday - 2/22/18

Prompt: I would like to see our DD boys and girls along with their big cats having some fun and frolics in the snow after we only got a small taste of this in Calvin and Hobbs book...and any other THIRDS colleagues would be welcome to join in the playful games.


PART ONE

“Dex, get up.”

“Mff. Grumbly sexy voice. Too early. Coffee.”

“Dex.”

“Sloane.” Dex burrowed deeper under the duvet. It was so warm, and cozy. He let out a sigh. So nice.

“Don’t make me make you get up.”

Broody bear saying something. Mmm, sleep.

The duvet vanished, and a blast of frigid air hit him with such force, he yelped, and fell off the bed. He curled up on himself, shivering. Holy crap it was even colder on the floor! Sloane leaned over him, his smile wide, and his stupidly handsome face looking all sweet and sexy.

“Good morning, sweetheart.”

Dex pouted. “Why? Why would you do me like that, boo?”

Sloane laughed softly as he reached down to help Dex to his feet. Dex gasped. “You’re warm!” He attached himself to his man like a sugar on a gummy bear. Or something. He was too cold to think.

“You didn’t forget about today, did you?”

“I don’t know. My brain’s frozen,” Dex said, wrapping himself around Sloane who managed to walk over to the chair, and snatched up the black bundle. He shoved it at Dex.

“I can’t believe Hobbs got you a onesie for Christmas.”

Dex hopped down, and swiftly zipped himself into warm, fleecy goodness. “Not just any onesie.” He pulled the masked hood with ears over his head and spoke in a low gruff voice. “I’m Batman.”

“You’re a dork,” Sloane said with a laugh as he pulled on a pair of sweatpants, and a sweatshirt.

“Why is it so cold in here? “ Dex pulled on a pair of his winter socks, and followed Sloane out of the room.

“Because someone can’t seem to make up his mind what temperature he wants the house to be at,” Sloane reminded him as they headed downstairs.

“It’s not my fault. Ever since things started changing inside me, I can’t seem to find the right temperature. One minute I’m hot, next minute I’m cold.”

“What are you, menopausing?”

“Don’t joke. I remember a few years back when Tony teased aunt Danelle about it. Not five seconds later was he apologizing profusely because she’d already gotten in the car to drive to the airport. She was gonna take a flight down here to kick his ass.”

Sloane chuckled. “I believe it.”

Dex stopped by the living room, grabbing his super warm fleece blanket, and wrapped it around himself before taking a seat at the kitchen counter. Maybe he’d warm up after some tasty java. In the meantime, he snuggled into his blanket, and ogled Sloane as he moved around the kitchen preparing them breakfast, though naturally Dex’s latte took priority, so within seconds, he had a frothy cup of magic placed in front of him.

“Mmm, so good.” Dex was almost done with his latte when Sloane put a heaping plate of scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, and buttered toast in front of him.

Sloane’s amber eyes filled with concern. “Babe, are you sure you’re okay? You’re not coming down with something are you?”

“I’m fine. It’ll pass.” Dex finished his latte, and another one promptly replaced it. “I think I’ll keep you,” Dex said, beaming up at Sloane as he walked around the counter to sit beside him. Sloane kissed him sweetly before taking a seat.

“I’m glad to hear it.”

As Dex consumed his breakfast like it was his last meal—thanks to his ever-growing Therian-hybrid metabolism—a whoosh of heat flooded through him, and he jumped off the chair.

“Dex?” Sloane was immediately out of his chair. “What’s going on?”

“Oh my God, I’m so freaking hot!” He threw off his blanket, unzipped the onesie, climbed out, and pulled off his socks before he let out a sigh of relief. “That’s better. We are definitely going out today.”

Sloane nodded, eyeing him warily as he resumed his seat. “You sure?”

“Yeah, a frolic in the snow sounds perfect right about now.” They all had the day off, and despite a what seemed to be never ending winter, their Therian friends wanted an afternoon of playing in the snow. Dex was always up for some fun in the snow, and hopefully his body would stop being a pain in the butt for one afternoon. Hudson had assured him it would pass. Apparently sometimes his Human side and his Therian side didn’t agree on things and instead of rationally discussing the matter like two adult sides of his DNA, they would throw tantrums until one went home and took their toys with them. Why did these things always happen to him?

“It’ll be okay, sweetheart.” Sloane nuzzled the side of Dex’s head, and Dex sighed, loving the feel and scent of his man. No matter what was going on inside him, Sloane always made him feel balanced. They were so in tune with each other these days, that all it took was one look and Sloane knew something was wrong. Not only that, but he kept Dex from freaking out. He was always so calm and levelheaded, soothing Dex with just a touch or gentle word. Then he’d get on the phone and call whoever he needed to call to get answers, whether it was Hudson or one of the TIN lab they had on speed dial. Every day Dex appreciated Sloane more and more. What would he ever do without him?

“Snow Ash.”

Dex blinked up at Sloane. “What?”

“Snow Ash,” Sloane said, eyes filled with mischief. “You should build one. Hobbs and I will even distract Ash for you.”

Dex’s heart filled with so much love, and his brain filled with wicked excitement. “Oh my God, this is going to be epic!” He scarfed down his food, plotted how he was going to put together his grumpy snowy feline while Sloane finished his breakfast, his eyes alight with amusement. Once Sloane was done, Dex did the dishes then darted upstairs to get ready. He went light on the layers since he was boiling at the moment, but made sure to pack warm clothes in Sloane’s PSTC kit, in case he got cold again. Despite the cold, he’d been looking forward to today almost as much as their Felid friends. Sloane looked cool as a cucumber, but Dex could feel Sloane’s excitement.

They climbed into the back of the cab so neither of them would have to worry about driving. Also his precious baby was nice and clean and he didn’t want it getting splattered with grossness. Sloane took hold of his hand, and Dex leaned in to give him a kiss.

“Are you ready for this?” Dex asked. “He always knows when you’re trying to distract him.”

“Pfft. Please. Ash is so worried about getting snow in his mane, he won’t give you a second glance.”

Dex laughed. “He’s such a precious princess.” Lion Therians loved to preen, but Ash was a total diva when it came to his mane. Granted, as lion manes went, it was impressive. “Does he use conditioner in his mane?”

Sloane barked out a laugh. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.”

“So majestic,” Dex teased.

“And he knows it.”

“Oh my God, remember when my dad ordered that rookie to spit out his gum, and he turned around the exact moment Ash was walking by, and it landed in his mane.” Dex went thoughtful. “Whatever happened to that rookie?”

Sloane’s eyes went wide. “I have no idea. I haven’t seen him since.”

They exchanged glanced before bursting into peels of laughter. Oh, this was going to be so much fun.


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

THIRDS Thursday - 2/15/18

Prompt: Can we see some time with Seb as the team leader and how the team started to heal and trust him. Maybe the scene where Dom finally accepted Seb and their friendship started?

PART TWO

When Seb arrived at the hospital with Dom, the rest of the team was inside with Peyton. Seb stood to one side of the door as Dom hurried into the room and went to Peyton’s bedside. He went into full big brother mode, running a hand tenderly over his head. Peyton took up most of the Therian-sized bed, his bright red hair a stark contrast to the white of the pillow. His fair skin strewn with freckles looked pale, except for his cheeks which were flushed, and his big blue eyes were bloodshot. His bottom lip quivered, and Seb was reminded of how young Peyton actually he was.

As the youngest member of his team, Peyton was five years younger than Ethan, and hadn’t even turned thirty yet. It was one of the drawbacks of being a Tiger Therian. People had a habit of just seeing size. Peyton might be fierce, but that was only out in the field when he needed to be. The rest of the time, he was sweet, cheerful, always ready with a big smile. Where Dom was brutally honest, and brought down the hammer, delivering harsh truths when their fellow teammates needed it, Peyton was the gentle voice of reason. He listened to his teammates then offered quiet council. When anyone needed a hug, he was there with open arms.

“What happened?”

Dom’s voice drew Seb’s attention, and he moved his gaze to Peyton who quickly wiped away at a stray tear.

“We got into another fight, and I’d had enough. I never told you guys, but….” Peyton looked away, his face filled with shame. “He’d cheated on me.”

“What?” Zoey jumped to her feet, but Dom placed a hand on her arm, and she reluctantly settled back down on the edge of the bed.

“He was so convincing the first time,” Peyton continued. “I believed him when he said how sorry he was, that it would never happen again. I was over at his place, and we’d just um, you know. Anyway, I got up to go to the bathroom, and he must have thought I was asleep. I heard him talking on the phone to someone. He was telling them how much he missed them and all the things he was going to do to them we he saw them. I used the bathroom, got dressed, and told him I was leaving. For good. We got into a fight, and when I opened the door to the apartment, he… hurt me.”

Seb studied Peyton, the way he was refusing to look at any of his teammates in the eye, his fidgeting, the way he grabbed fistfuls of the blanket. Then Seb noticed it. He moved over to the bed, and Dom quickly stepped aside. Seb took a seat on the edge of the bed, and Peyton swallowed hard. He closed his eyes and nodded. Seb very gently, lowered the neckline of the hospital gown, and the air was sucked out of the room. There was an angry looking red strap mark around Peyton’s neck.

Angel was on his feet looking like he was about to explode. He paced the room, fire blazing in his eyes. “Are you telling me that no good hijo de puta tried to choke you?”

“I’m going to fucking rip his balls off,” Zoey snarled.

While the rest of the team was up in arms, Seb cupped Peyton’s cheek. “Hey, look at me.”

After a shaky breath, Peyton did, tears welling in his eyes. “He said it was my own fault. That I’d deceived him. How he’d given me a chance because he thought I’d be… tougher.”

Seb closed his eyes for a moment, and took a steady breath. When he opened them, he smiled warmly at Peyton. “It wasn’t your fault, you know that right?”

Peyton nodded, his frown deep. A determined look came into his bright blue eyes. “I want a restraining order against him, and I’m pressing charges.”

Seb patted his shoulder. “Good man. I’ll be with you every step of the way.”

“You will?” Peyton looked surprised.

“Of course I will. We’re a family, right? Family sticks together.”

Peyton’s bottom lip wobbled before he threw his arms around Seb, and squeezed him tight, his head on Seb’s shoulder. Seb wrapped his arms around Peyton, and held him, running a soothing hand down his back.

“It’s going to be okay,” Seb murmured softly. “Why don’t you get some rest. We’ll be outside.”

Peyton nodded, and pulled back. He smiled at Seb. “Thank you.”

Everyone loved on Peyton until Dom ushered them all out of the room so the poor guy could get some peace and quiet. As much as Peyton loved his team, Seb knew from experience the rowdy bunch could be a bit exhausting at times.

Out in the waiting room, a tall leopard Therian stood from one of the seats, his eyes going huge when he saw them.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Dom bellowed, coming around Seb. It didn’t take a genius to figure out who the man was. Seb grabbed Dom’s arm, ands turned to face his team who all had intent in their eyes.

“Everyone calm down. I’ll take care of this. Why don’t you guys go get some coffee or food or something, and I’ll join you in a minute.”

Dom searched Seb’s gaze. What he was searching for, Seb had no clue. A heartbeat later, he nodded.

“Come on,” Dom growled, storming off in the opposite direction, the rest of the team following him, albeit reluctantly.

Seb turned, his hands in his jacket pockets as the man approached him.

“Thanks, man. I owe you one.”

Seb narrowed his eyes at the cocky bastard. “Don’t thank me just yet.” He slapped a hand on the guy’s shoulder, and squeezed until he winced.

“Jesus, what the hell?”

“Walk with me.”

“Um….”

“That wasn’t a request,” Seb said, his tone brooking no argument. He led the guy out of the waiting room and into one of the hospital wings with little foot traffic before turning the guy and crowding him, his voice low and steady. “Here’s how this is going to go. You’re going to stay away from Peyton.”

“Please, I need to see him. I’m so sorry about what happened. I really care about him. I do. Things just got out of hand, and—”

“Shut up,” Seb snapped. “You have a serious problem that you’re going to go get help for, but whatever you thought you had with Peyton, is over. A restraining order is going to be filed against you, and you’ll be charged with assault.”

The guy blanched. “What?”

“You strangled him with your belt,” Seb hissed, his hand wrapping around the guy’s neck. He winced at the pain as the tips of his claws pierced his fingers, and pressed into the bastard’s neck. “You are never to go near Peyton again. Is that clear?”

“You can’t do this.” The guy was shaking with rage and fear at the same time.

“My team is my family, and as Team Leader, I’m the head of that family. I won’t let you, or anyone hurt them. I’m going to be keeping an eye on you. Don’t test me. Peyton is a gentle, sweet man who instills trust and compassion. He would never lash out at anyone in anger.” A low feral growl rose from his chest, and his fangs elongated. “Me? Not so much. This is your only warning. Now get the hell out of my face.”

Seb released the guy, and he scrambled away from Seb, dashing for the door like someone had set his ass on fire. He sniffed the air, and turned, arching an eyebrow at what appeared to be an empty doorway which wasn’t so empty. He should have caught on to the scent earlier, but had been too preoccupied.

“How long have you been there?”

Dom stepped out of the doorway, and leaned against the wall, a lopsided grin on his handsome face. “Long enough. Also….” He motioned behind him, and the rest of the team walked out.

“What’s going on?” Seb asked, crossing his arms over his chest.

Zoey walked around Dom, and came to a stand in front of Seb. “You really consider us your family?”

Seb nodded. He let out a heavy sigh, and dropped his arms to his side. “I know you guys drew the short straw on Team leaders. You went from having a vigilante who betrayed your trust, to a fuckup who only got this gig because he got credit for solving a case his old team couldn’t take credit for.”

“Hey,” Angel growled, stepping forward. “We were there, remember? Without us there to backup Destructive Delta, they wouldn’t have gotten close enough to take Hogan down, or rescue Cael. They needed us, and you could have turned them in for working off the books, but you didn’t.”

Brianna nodded. “Because Destructive Delta are also your family. You protected them. Just like what happened to Dr. Colbourn. You risked your life, and your career to protect him. That doesn’t make you a fuckup.”

“That makes you a hero in my book,” Dom said.

Everyone agreed, and Seb couldn’t believe it. “You all really believe that?”

“Yep,” Lee beamed up at him. “And just so you know, we weren’t spying on you. We came in case you needed back up.”

Seb couldn’t help his dopey smile. “Thanks. I appreciate that. How about we go get something to eat. My treat. We can bring back something for Peyton.”

They all whooped, and Lee patted Seb’s shoulder. “You’re the best, Boss.”

“Don’t call me that,” Seb grumbled.

“Sure thing, Boss,” Zoey called out over her shoulder as they all hurried for the exit.

Dom walked alongside Seb, and grinned up at him. “Welcome to the family.”

“Thanks.” For the first time in a long time, Seb felt… settled. He had a home again at the THIRDS. Maybe one day he’d have his man, too. One day….


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

THIRDS Thursday - 2/8/18

Prompt: Can we see some time with Seb as the team leader and how the team started to heal and trust him. Maybe the scene where Dom finally accepted Seb and their friendship started?


PART ONE

Seb couldn’t believe it. After all these years, it was official. He had his own team.

And yet….

“Sebastian?”

Seb blinked, realizing he must have really been lost in thought if he hadn’t sensed Hudson approaching. He smiled wide.

“Hey.”

Hudson’s cheeks flushed, and Seb’s heart did a little flip. He was so damned beautiful.

“Hi,” Hudson replied, smiling sweetly. “I just heard the good news. Congratulations on the promotion.” His expression softened, sadness coming into his eyes. “You deserve it, after… everything.”

Seb quickly stood, and came around his desk. His instinct was to pull Hudson into his arms, but he stopped himself at the last minute. Instead he took a seat on the edge of his desk, arms crossed over his chest to keep himself from reaching out.

“Thank you.” He sighed, and dropped his gaze to his boots.

“What’s wrong?”

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited, and grateful to be given a chance like this, but I also can’t help worry about my relationship with these guys. When Sparks decided to promote me, I thought I’d get to keep the original team. Instead, she shuffled the teams around, and all of Stone’s agents ended up on Theta Destructive with me.”

“Are they being insubordinate?” Hudson asked gently, stepping closer.

Seb shook his head. “They’re very professional, so I have no complaints there, and I know they trust my judgement as their Team Leader, but….”

“They’re wary of you.”

“Yeah. Why the hell would Sparks give them another tiger Therian Team Leader after what Stone put them through?”

Hudson smiled warmly, and it sent warmth flooding through Seb like it always did. “Perhaps Sparks chose you because you’re the perfect choice.”

Seb didn’t understand. “How am I the perfect choice?”

“Everyone knows you, and your brothers. They know how loyal you are, how hard working. Everyone loves you.”

Seb couldn’t help his smile. “Everyone?”

“Well, um….” Hudson cleared his throat, the flush back in his cheeks. “Anyway, give them time. I’m certain they’ll come around.” He patted Seb’s cheek, and Seb leaned into the touch, placing his hand over Hudson’s. They stayed like that for several heartbeats, their gazes locked on each other.

“Sorry, am I interrupting?”

Hudson quickly pulled back at the sound of Dom’s voice. Seb missed Hudson’s touch so much it hurt.

“Thanks, Hudson,” Seb said again, waving back at Hudson as he left the office, and disappeared. Dom took a seat at his desk opposite Seb’s while Seb took a seat behind his own desk. He logged into his desk’s interface, the office uncomfortably silent.

“Must be tough.”

Seb glanced up at Dom. “What is?”

“Having a marked mate, and not being able to be with him.”

Seb was surprised. It was the first time Dom had brought up something not entirely related to the job. Seb thought about playing it down, or brushing it off. They weren’t friends, and Seb wasn’t one to talk about his personal life, but when he opened his mouth to dismiss Dom, he found himself telling the truth instead.

“It’s excruciating.”

Dom stared at him. He’d clearly not expected the answer.

“Breakups are shit as it is, but when it’s your mate, it feels like you’re being ripped apart from the inside out, and that’s nowhere near as what your marked mate feels.” Seb looked to the door Hudson had walked out of. “The pain he feels every day….”

“He’s being a stubborn ass if you ask me.”

Seb blinked at him. “What?”

“The Doc is a great guy, but he’s being a stubborn jackass.”

Seb opened his mouth to reply then closed. He didn’t really know what to say to that. Dom leaned forward, his gaze intense.

“What happened to you guys was messed up, but it’s done. Haven’t you both paid enough? Look, I like really like the doc, but he needs to get over himself, and come back to you.”

“I’m way too sober for this conversation,” Seb muttered. Was this really happening?

“Let’s change that, shall we?” Dom stood, and Seb looked at him dumbly before Dom motioned to the door. “Drinks at Dekatria?”

Seb looked at his watch. Although their shift was over, he’d had been putting in extra hours for months now to catch up on the workload Stone had left behind, but Dom was reaching out to him for the first time since Seb had joined the team. He’d be stupid not to take Dom up on the offer.

“Okay.” They headed for the locker room where they showered, and changed. It was likely they’d run into fellow agents at Dekatria, but Dom surprised Seb once again by heading upstairs to the roof garden, and bar instead of downstairs where their fellow agents were more likely to be. It was clear Dom didn’t want to just get drunk, he wanted to talk. Dom got them a table, and Seb went to get them drinks. We got back, Dom thanked him for the beer.

“I ordered us some burgers and fries.”

“Thanks,” Seb replied, sitting back and taking a swig of his beer. He tapped his fingers against his leg wondering what the hell to say next.

“Nervous?”

Seb laughed. “I gotta be honest, Dom. I am. Can I ask you something?”

Dom nodded before taking a sip of his beer, his hazel eyes never leaving Seb.

“Why didn’t you take over Theta? As second, you have the experience, and you guys are like family. Why have someone else come in? Especially when Sparks pulled me in for the Coalition case. I was still on probation. You could have fought it.”

Dom put his beer down, his eyes lowering to the table. He was quiet for so long, Seb was about to tell him not to worry about it.

“Actually, the Coalition case is what made me realize how different you were to Stone, and that we needed to give you a chance.”

Seb stared at him. “What?”

Dom leaned forward, his voice low as if someone else might hear. “You lied.”

Seb swallowed hard. “About what?”

“About Destructive Delta’s involvement.”

Fuck. Dom knew? Fuck. “Dom, I—”

Dom quickly held a hand up to stop him. “Yes, you lied, but you did it to protect them. To protect Dex and Sloane. Here you are, a shiny new career dangling in front of you, and you put it all on the line to protect them. Sloane was your Team Leader. The rest of those guys had been your team at one point, and were still your family, and you not only risked your career, but your life. That’s how I knew you were different.”

Seb found it difficult to talk. All this time, Dom had known, and instead of turning him in, he’d given Seb the benefit of the doubt.

“Is what I did all that different than what Stone did?”

Dom’s hazel eyes filled with anger. “Yes, it fucking is. You put your job, and your life on the line for your family. Stone went against everything we stood for. He betrayed us, his badge, and his sister’s memory. Fuck him.”

 The pain in Dom’s eyes was difficult to see. The man was always so boisterous, and full of life. His smile had a way of disarming people. Yeah, he was loud, foulmouthed, and had a habit of mothering his teammates to death, but he was an amazing guy. Seb saw it the more time he spent around the guy.

“You think they’ll ever trust me? I mean, really trust me?” Seb asked, picking the label off his beer.

“I’m working on them,” Dom said, winking at him, and making him chuckle. His phone rang, and he held up a finger. “One sec. It’s Zoey.” He tapped his screen, and held the phone to his ear. “Whatever Lee did I don’t want to hear—” Dom’s smile fell away, and he jumped to his feet. “Where? I’m on my way.” He hung up, his eyes glazing over, and his skin flushed a deep red. “I’m gonna kill that son of a bitch.”

“What is it?” Seb asked.

“I gotta go. Peyton’s in the hospital.”

Seb jumped to his feet. “What? What happened?” He hurried after Dom who stormed toward the stairs.

“Peyton started seeing this guy a few weeks ago. I knew he was bad news. I could see the signs. Now that motherfucker’s put Peyton in the hospital.”

Seb felt his anger boiling over. Someone had hurt someone on his team. The fact that it was Peyton, and that the big guy reminded him of Ethan didn’t help his anger one bit. Peyton was a giant of a tiger Therian, the biggest in their unit. He was also the gentlest soul Seb had ever known next to his little brother. If someone had hurt him, it would be the last time it happened. No one was going to hurt his team while he was around.


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

THIRDS Thursday - 2/1/18

Hello, all! For this week's THIRDS Thursday we bring Hell & High Water Manga news, and a wallpaper download! So the Korean Manga of Hell & High Water is complete, which means Dreamspinner has all the files and can begin the translation process. I have seen the full Manga, and OMG! I might not be able to read Korean, but in a lot of the panels, it wasn't necessary. Seeing the guys come to life in this art form is an amazing experience, and I just adore the cover. Since I now have the high resolution image of the cover, I'm permitted to get it printed on swag and goodies. First, I created a desktop wallpaper which is of course now my desktop wallpaper because I can't get over Dex's pretty face and Sloane's broody-bear face. I mean, seriously, look at it. I swear that expression captures every exasperated moment in Hell & High Water. LOL

Once thing I noticed was how certain scenes were a little different or in a different order, but I know it's so it makes sense in the Manga format. The cool thing about it, is both you and I get to experience Hell & High Water in a whole new way, and I can't wait to read the English version. It will be available in paperback with a color cover. I believe the images will be in black and white. I should know more closer to the time.

A few notes about the manga artwork. Ash's expressions are epic, and yet not as epic as Sloane's. The sexy-times? Goodness gracious great... er, never mind. Definitely for adult eyes only. Hudson is one handsome devil. Cael, Calvin, and Ethan are too adorable for words.

THIRDS Manga Desktop Wallpaper

Click on the image for full size. Here's a page from the manga. Can Calvin and Ethan be any stinking sweeter? Okay, so I totally need to think of some cool swag I can get that cover artwork on. Suggestions?

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