Prompt: We all know Dex is a trouble magnet with a super big heart. Maybe they work on a case and during a raid they find a little 5 year old bratty Therian Jaguar girl, whose needs looking after till her family can be found.
How good could a five-year-old be at hiding?
The answer was very good. Dex had less trouble hunting down wanted criminals than he did finding this kid. He casually strolled through the bullpen, paperwork in his hands so as not to look suspicious. Nonchalantly, he began checking under desks. She had to be somewhere around here. He hadn’t heard back from Hobbs or Calvin, so they clearly hadn’t found her either.
“Um, what are you doing?”
Dex popped up and grinned widely at Taylor. “Hello, Ellis. How are you doing this fine evening?”
Taylor narrowed his eyes. “Don’t call me that. Why are you snooping around Angel’s desk?”
“Not snooping. I’m um, inspecting for dust bunnies.” Dex bent over and looked around. “Nope. No bunnies of any kind.” He straightened, removed a pen from his pocket, clicked it, and scribbled on his paper. “Excellent work. Those dust bunnies can wreak havoc if not properly contained.”
“I’m sure,” Taylor replied wryly.
“Well, I better get to inspecting the rest of the floor. Thanks, El.”
“That’s definitely a no. No nicknames, no abbreviations.”
Dex opened his mouth to ask why when Angel appeared, his smile cheerful.
“Hi, Dex.” Angel turned to Taylor, and his smile widened. “Hey, E, ready to go see Hudson about those lab results?”
Dex arched an eyebrow at Taylor, holding back a knowing smile when Taylor’s cheeks turned pink, and he narrowed his eyes at Dex.
“Shut up, Daley.”
Ooh, he’d been demoted to Daley. Ouch.
“Sure,” Taylor grumbled, following Angel.
Dex unleashed his smile once Taylor was gone. He couldn’t wait for Taylor to finally give into whatever he was clearly feeling for Angel, and just make a move. The suspense just might kill him. Speaking of killing. He was also going to be a dead man if he didn’t find Solange. He continued his inspection of the bullpen. Had it been anyone else, his fellow agents would have wondered what the hell he was on, but it was him, so t hey didn’t even spare him a glance. Hm, maybe he was getting to be a little predictable if his coworkers didn’t so much as bat an eye to his behavior.
Shit. Dex cursed under his breath. Of course. Because out of all the agents in Unit Alpha, of course it would be Ash who stumbled across his fuck up. Dex stared at Ash and the little girl in his arms. To add insult to injury, not only had Ash found Solange, but she was doing a little happy wiggle in his arm while she sipped on her juice, because clearly Dex was the big scary guy, and the huge ass growly lion Therian was what? Dex narrowed his eyes at her.
“Really? So I’m scary? What about him?” Dex motioned to Ash, ignoring Ash’s arched eyebrow.
Solange beamed brightly, and petted Ash’s head. “He’s like Dolly.”
Dex was torn. On the one hand, he was insulted by the fact she believed he was scarier than Ash, who reminded her of her dolly, which Sloane had sent Cael and Rosa to pick up from her house. On the other hand, she was comparing Ash Keeler to her dolly. In the end, tormenting Ash won out, and he burst into peals of laughter until he had tears in his eyes.
“I am underwhelmed,” Ash said with a grunt. “The only reason you’re still conscious right now is because there is a child present. One that’s not you. Also, I get to be there when Sloane finds out you lost the kid.”
Dex’s laughter died. “You can’t tell him.”
“Oh, yes I can, and I will.” Ash’s grin was pure evil. He turned and headed for Dex and Sloane’s office.
Dex couldn’t believe he was about to say this, but what choice did he have? “Please, I’ll do anything.”
“Believe me, there is nothing you can promise me that will be worth more than watching you crash and burn in front of Sloane.”
“But… but that’s just mean.”
“I’m sorry, have we met? Do I look like I care?”
“Yes. You do care. You pretend otherwise, but I know you love me.”
“That right there just landed you an expedited trip to your demise.” Ash pulled out his phone, and Dex groaned.
“Man, who peed in your Cheerios this morning,” Dex grumbled.
“Keep it up, Justice.”
Stupid Ash. While Ash called Sloane, Dex removed his phone from his pocket, and sneakily snapped a photo of him while Solange was turned away, so he wouldn’t capture her face. Despite being pissed at Ash, Dex couldn’t deny the adorable picture the two made. Solange was tiny next to Ash. He carried her tucked against him, his arm around her, like he’d done it a hundred times, her weight probably not even registering. Solange had her little arm around his neck and she bopped along to some imaginary song.
Dealing with kids wasn’t knew for them. Sadly, in their line of work, they often found themselves rescuing Therian kids from danger, but once the danger was over, usually Dex, Cael, and Rosa took over because most of the time, the kids didn’t respond well to the larger Therian agents, especially the Apex predators. Other times, they only responded to Therians of their classification, like the way Solange responded to Sloane. Nine times out of ten, the kids were scared shitless of the lion Therian agents. Ash never took it personally which Dex thought was kind of shitty because he knew it was down to the years of prejudice Ash had faced, not just for being a Therian, but for being a lion Therian. Yes, Ash was a surly bastard, but he was a good man.
Right now, he was also a jerkface.
“I can’t believe you’re going to tell Sloane.” Dex dropped down into his chair with a huff while Ash carefully sat Solange down in Sloane’s chair. She smiled up at him, dimples showing. Damn, she was good.
“Can I have some water?”
“Sure. I’ll be right back. Don’t move, okay?”
Solange nodded, and Ash headed for the door, pausing long enough to give Dex a pointed look. “Don’t lose her again.”
Dex glared at him, but didn’t respond.
Solange kicked her feet happily as she smiled at Dex. “You’re going to get in trouble.”
“He sighed. No, not really. Sloane might get mad, but it’ll be okay. Mostly he’s probably just going to be disappointed.” Dex couldn’t help his sigh. “I don’t mind if he gets mad. I deserve it. I’m just worried he’s going to think I won’t make a good dad.”
Solange cocked her head to one side. “Why?”
“Because I lost you.” Dex jumped to his feet and started pacing. “I mean, we’re getting married. It took him a long time not to freak out at just the thought of having a kid, and then he tells me he wants a family one day. What if he decides he made a mistake? That I’m not ready to be a parent. Not that we’re planning on being parents anytime soon, but what if this was like a test, and oh God, I failed miserably.” Dex fell back into his chair. “I suck.”
“Hey, guys.” Sloane walked into the office, his big smile making him look even more handsome. God, he was so madly in love with Sloane, and that meant he would face whatever consequences came his way. Chances were Ash would walk through that door any minute now to gloat about Dex’s epic failure.
Well, time to face the music.
FINAL PART next week. Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.