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.

Be Still My Heart - Official Release Day Giveaway!

Hello, all! Although Amazon released Love in Spades a day early (which, yay!), today is the official release day which means we're having an awesome giveaway to celebrate!!

One lucky winner will receive a Four Kings Security gift pack which includes a host of awesome goodies, including a pack of Ace's playing cards, tote bag, mouse pad, a handmade Four Kings bracelet, and more!

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below!

Giveaway is open internationally. Ends May 1st, 2018 at midnight (Eastern US time), and will be announced on the blog shortly after. Winner will be notified via email and announced here on the blog shortly after.

Please allow time for your goodies to arrive.

When the cards are stacked against you, the Kings will even the odds.

Ex-Special Forces soldier Anston “Ace” Sharpe is fighting a different battle these days—one involving the world of private security across the state of Florida. As part owner of Four Kings Security, Ace and his fellow Kings tackle everything from armed transport and investigations to cyber intelligence and executive protection. Cocky, fearless, and brash, Ace isn’t afraid to take risks.

After years of working alongside his father, Colton Connolly is ready to take the helm at Connolly Maritime, but his father’s retirement is put on hold when Colton begins receiving death threats. If that isn’t bad enough, his father signs a contract with Four Kings Security to provide Colton with round-the-clock protection, despite his adamant refusal. Colton’s life has been turned upside down, the last thing he needs is a shadow, especially in the form of infuriating, sexy-as-sin Ace Sharpe, who seems to be on a mission to drive Colton mad.

Sparks fly the moment Colton and Ace meet on a sultry night club dance floor. But getting involved with a client, even one as fiery and beautiful as Colton Connolly, is a line Ace is unwilling to cross. Colton might be attracted to Ace, but he’d been burned before. He might be willing to put his life in Ace’s hands, but not his heart.

As the Florida nights heat up, so does their passion, and Ace and Colton are faced with a difficult choice—take the plunge and risk it all, or play it safe and walk away?

If Ace can keep a deadly threat from robbing Colton of a future…

BUY LINK

Amazon eBook and KU: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKS7L44 

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1717203248

💛 EXCERPT

goodreads-badge-add-plus

💛 PLAYLIST

 

 *** GIVEAWAY CLOSED ***

Thank you all so much for joining the giveaway! We have our winner. Chosen at random, congrats, Cazpedroso! You'll be receiving an email shortly on delivery of your goodies.


Love in Spades (Four Kings Security, Book 1) OUT NOW!!

Hello, all! I'm super excited to announce the release of Love in Spades, the first book in the Four Kings Security series! Amazon took a lot less time than I expected to get the book up, so it's out a day early! I can't wait to introduce you to the Kings! I hope you love these guys as much as I do. Happy Reading!

BUY LINK

Amazon and KU: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKS7L44 

BOOK DETAILS

Genre: Contemporary, Suspense, Gay Romance Length: Novel. Print 300 pages Published: April 22nd, 2018 Publisher: Charlie Cochet Cover Artist: Reese Dante Ebook AISN: B07CKS7L44 Paperback ISBN-13: 9781717203243

SYNOPSIS

When the cards are stacked against you, the Kings will even the odds.

Ex-Special Forces soldier Anston “Ace” Sharpe is fighting a different battle these days—one involving the world of private security across the state of Florida. As part owner of Four Kings Security, Ace and his fellow Kings tackle everything from armed transport and investigations to cyber intelligence and executive protection. Cocky, fearless, and brash, Ace isn’t afraid to take risks.

After years of working alongside his father, Colton Connolly is ready to take the helm at Connolly Maritime, but his father’s retirement is put on hold when Colton begins receiving death threats. If that isn’t bad enough, his father signs a contract with Four Kings Security to provide Colton with round-the-clock protection, despite his adamant refusal. Colton’s life has been turned upside down, the last thing he needs is a shadow, especially in the form of infuriating, sexy-as-sin Ace Sharpe, who seems to be on a mission to drive Colton mad.

Sparks fly the moment Colton and Ace meet on a sultry night club dance floor. But getting involved with a client, even one as fiery and beautiful as Colton Connolly, is a line Ace is unwilling to cross. Colton might be attracted to Ace, but he’d been burned before. He might be willing to put his life in Ace’s hands, but not his heart.

As the Florida nights heat up, so does their passion, and Ace and Colton are faced with a difficult choice—take the plunge and risk it all, or play it safe and walk away?

If Ace can keep a deadly threat from robbing Colton of a future…

💛 EXCERPT

goodreads-badge-add-plus

💛 PLAYLIST

💛 PRESS KIT


The Foxling Soldati now available on audio!

Narrated by: Manuel Pombo Series: Soldati Hearts, Book 2 Length: 4 hrs and 3 mins Release date: 04-20-18 Audiblehttps://audible.com/pd/Fiction/The-Foxling-Soldati-Audiobook/B07CHTXMPT

Synopsis

Foxling Toka has served the Soldati king for centuries, and now he attends to the kingdom’s cherished Soldati prince. It’s a position of honor, and as Toka helps the once-human prince adapt to their magical realm, he finds joy in their friendship. He also grows bolder in his encounters with Rayner, a Soldati warrior and the king’s second. But the laws are clear: servants and Soldati are not permitted to mate. It doesn’t matter that Toka lost his heart to the dashing cad long ago.

Rayner never imagined he would fall in love with a servant, but the clever and beautiful foxling has ensnared him, and he resents the regulations keeping them apart. When an arrogant and spiteful king visits from a neighboring realm, Rayner is in danger of losing everything. But Soldati warriors don’t surrender, and he intends to fight all the harder to keep Toka where he belongs - in Rayner’s arms.


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.

Love in Spades Release Date April 24th!

Hello, all! I'm super excited to announce that Love in Spades, the first book in my new series Four Kings Security has an official release date of April 24th! I'm so excited to introduce these fellas to you all! Below you'll find I've answered some frequently asked questions I've been receiving, as well as the blurb and some book info for Love in Spades.

This is my first venture into self publishing, and everyone has been so wonderfully supportive! A huge thank you to everyone for all their amazing help as I take on this new adventure!

FAQ

Q: I'm a reviewer and would like an ARC for my review site. Where can I get one?

A: If you're a reviewer or blogger interested in signing-up for an ARC or the release blitz, you can do so here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScy8HwDhGVFArgZx668VVEXxIZGT6FLS6wKPco5mSVgBEwslQ/viewform This is being organized by the lovely Michelle Slagan of Vibrant Promotions.

Q: Will Love in Spades be available for pre-order? 

A: No, Love in Spades will be going directly to release.

Q: Where will I be able to purchase Love in Spades? 

A: Love in Spades will be available through Amazon and KU for the time being. If that changes at any point, I'll be sure to announce it.

Q: Will it be available in paperback?

A: Yes. Love in Spades will be available in paperback.

Q: Will there be an audio version?

A: Yes. Love in Spades goes into audiobook production next month with the fabulous Greg Tremblay. Originally I intended on having auditions, and although there are so many amazing narrators out there, I needed something very specific for one of the Kings: Lucky.

Eduardo "Lucky" Alejandro Morales is Cuban, from a little village outside Havana who came over to Florida as a teen, and grew up in Miami. Because of his character, his background, his thick accent, his way of speaking, and because his book is the third in the series, it was very important to me that Lucky's voice be as accurate. As a Cuban author who also grew up in Miami as a teen, I knew what I was looking for, and it was very important to me that Lucky's voice be just right, especially since there are several scenes in which Lucky speaks Spanish.  Considering the series takes place around Florida, there are characters from all backgrounds. As a fan of Greg's, I know he'll do a fantastic job.

Q: Will the series be available in other languages?

A: Yes! I'm very excited to announce I signed a contract with Juno Publishing for the French translation of the series, and with Triskell Edizioni for the Italian translations. As soon as I have more info on these, I'll be sure to share it with you.

Q: Do you have a Pinterest inspiration board? A: Absolutely! You can find it here: https://www.pinterest.com/charliecochet/four-kings-security-series/ If you have any questions I've not answered here, feel free to leave them in the comments below. Thank you all so much for joining the Kings!

LOVE IN SPADES

Four Kings Security: Book 1

SYNOPSIS

Ex-Special Forces soldier Anston “Ace” Sharpe is fighting a different battle these days—one involving the world of private security across the state of Florida. As part owner of Four Kings Security, Ace and his fellow Kings tackle everything from armed transport and investigations to cyber intelligence and executive protection. Cocky, fearless, and brash, Ace isn’t afraid to take risks.

After years of working alongside his father, Colton Connolly is ready to take the helm at Connolly Maritime, but his father’s retirement is put on hold when Colton begins receiving death threats. If that isn’t bad enough, his father signs a contract with Four Kings Security to provide Colton with round-the-clock protection, despite his adamant refusal. Colton’s life has been turned upside down, the last thing he needs is a shadow, especially in the form of infuriating, sexy-as-sin Ace Sharpe, who seems to be on a mission to drive Colton mad.

Sparks fly the moment Colton and Ace meet on a sultry night club dance floor. But getting involved with a client, even one as fiery and beautiful as Colton Connolly, is a line Ace is unwilling to cross. Colton might be attracted to Ace, but he’d been burned before. He might be willing to put his life in Ace’s hands, but not his heart.

As the Florida nights heat up, so does their passion, and Ace and Colton are faced with a difficult choice—take the plunge and risk it all, or play it safe and walk away?

If Ace can keep a deadly threat from robbing Colton of a future….

OUT APRIL 24TH


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. 

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