THIRDS Thursday – 3/16/17

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

****SPOILER ALERT**** This takes place after Thick & Thin.


Part Two last week. Read it here.

PART THREE

Showers had vastly improved since Cael started joining him. The two of them seemed to be in sync more and more each day. When Cael chatted away at him, Ash happily listened. When Cael was quiet, and needed to be in his own head, Ash left him to it. When that happened, Ash found himself having to touch Cael in some way. As if he needed to feel him, to assure himself Cael was there, which was ridiculous. He could see Cael, so why should he need to touch him? To say this was all knew to him was an understatement. It struck him then that in four months, he and Cael would have been together a year. Yet it felt like they’d been together so much longer.

“That feels good.” Cael hummed, drawing his attention back to the present, and the deliciously naked Cael standing in front of him, his back to Ash.

Ash smiled as he continued to massage Cael’s scalp. Cael let his head fall back against Ash’s chest. He opened his big gray eyes and smiled.

“Hi.”

Ash hunched over and kissed Cael, upside down, making him laugh. “Hi. Rinse, before you get conditioner in your eyes.”

“You’re so adorable.”

Now there was a word no one had ever associated with Ash Keeler, and anyone who dared call him that to his face would get an earful. Except Cael. Cael was the exception to every rule.

Cael stepped under the shower and washed the conditioner out of his hair while Ash finished washing up. They got out and dried themselves. Ash hung up his towel and turned to find himself wrapped up in Cael’s arms and a huge fluffy towel.

“Thank you, Ash.”

“For what?” Ash brushed Cael’s wet hair away from his brow, his pulse picking up, and his heart beating fast. It always did when Cael looked at him like he was now. Like Ash was the most amazing thing in the world.

“For being you.”

Ash swallowed hard. It wasn’t easy being on the receiving end of such adoration. It wasn’t long ago that he didn’t think himself worthy of such a look. “You’re the only one I’ve ever known who didn’t want to change me.”

“Because no one has ever taken the time to really look at you. They don’t see what I see.” Cael cupped Ash’s face, his sparkling gray eyes filled with so much love. For him. “There’s so much… wrong with me, yet you’re always so patient. You know how to deal with me.”

Ash’s expression softened, and he brushed his fingers along Cael’s jaw. “First off, there is nothing wrong with you, sweetheart. None of us get through life without picking up scars along the way. Even your brother Mr. Perfect, isn’t so perfect. Second, you’re not someone I deal with. You’re someone I love. Someone who means the world to me, who makes me cherish every minute we’re together. When you’re having a panic attack, I want to make it better for you, and I do my best to show you you’re safe. When you’re feeling anxious, I try to show you how much you’re loved. When you’re scared, I do everything to assure you that I’m right beside you. I’ll do whatever it takes to make everything okay again. Because it’s you.”

Cael averted his gaze, but his lips were pulled up in a shy smile. “See. You always know just what to say.”

Ash gently turned Cael’s face so their eyes could meet. “I love you.”

“I love you too.” Cael stood on his toes and kissed him. It was sweet, slow, and filled Ash with the kind of hope he never thought he’d feel. Ash ran his hands down Cael’s arms, his skin soft in Ash’s rough hands.

Ash pulled back, feeling breathless. He couldn’t take his eyes off Cael. “I gotta say, sweetheart, you terrify me.”

Cael tilted his head. “Me?”

“Yeah. I don’t think you know the power you have over me. You got me thinking all kinds of crazy things.”

“Like what?”

Ash shook his head. “I don’t think I’m ready to say them out loud.” Just thinking about it scared the shit out of him.

“Well, when you’re ready,” Cael said, smiling as he kissed Ash, sweet and quick. “I’ll be right here.”

Ash nodded. He breathed in deep through his nose, and released the breath slow through his mouth. He motioned toward the door. “How about we get dressed and get to baking?”

“Sounds awesome.” Cael pulled away and left Ash holding the towel. He walked off naked, and Ash turned to watch him go, the sight of Cael’s tight ass making him groan.

“Really? You want me to think about baking with you strutting around here like that?” He followed Cael out into the bedroom, and folded his arms over his chest. The little tease. Cael slipped into his boxers nice and slow, his back turned. Ash had never seen anything so sinful.

“You teach me how to make the perfect, fluffy angel food cake,” Cael purred, “and after, as a show of gratitude, I will let you pick any toy from the drawer to use on me.”

Ash stifled a gasp. “I get to choose?”

Cael looked at him from over his shoulder. “Yep.”

“Anything?”

Cael nodded. “Anything.”

Holy shit.

Ash was pretty sure he broke a world record with how quick he got dressed. When he was done, he grabbed Cael’s clothes and thrust them at him. “Come on, we got some baking to do.”

Cael waggled his eyebrows. “With great power….”

“Oh, you’re in for it now.” Ash grabbed him and lifted him off his feet, laughing at Cael’s yelp and flailing arms as Ash hoisted him over his shoulder. He smacked Cael’s ass for good measure.

“Ash!” Cael laughed as Ash carried him down the stairs.

“Challenge has been accepted. There’s no turning back now.” The perfect angel food cake was the only thing standing between him and hot, toe-curling sex. He was not about to lose.



Part four next week on 3/23/17!


Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

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THIRDS Thursday – 3/9/17

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

****SPOILER ALERT**** This takes place after Thick & Thin.


Part One last week. Read it here.

PART TWO

“I think maybe we should stay in today. I’ll call Sloane and tell him we’re gonna have a quiet evening in tonight.” Ash brushed his fingers down Cael’s cheek, smiling when Cael looked up at him.

“Really? Are you sure?”

“Am I sure? You’re right. Maybe I should think about this.” Ash pretended to be giving it serious thought. “Do I want to spend a lazy day with my boyfriend, touching him, kissing him, hanging out, doing incredibly dirty things to him, or do I want to spend the day listening to Dex and Sloane argue over the existence of X-Men? That’s a tough one. I know Dex makes a very solid case, and there’s always the possibility of my getting to smother him with one of Sloane’s ridiculous throw pillows, but Sloane’s kinda grown attached to the dork, so the chances of him letting me strangle his fiancé are quite slim. Hm.” He scratched his stubbly jaw, holding back a smile at Cael’s adorably unimpressed expression. “It’s tough. I won’t lie. But I think I’m going to go with spending the day with my boyfriend. Even if he’s looking at me like he wants to throat punch me.”

Cael arched an eyebrow at him. “You could have just said yes.”

Ash laughed. “I could have, but then I wouldn’t have gotten to see your adorable pout.”

“I’m not pouting,” Cael grumbled.

Right. “I’m going to go call him real quick, then I’ll be back downstairs to help you clean up.” He kissed the side of Cael’s head before heading upstairs to the nightstand where he’d left his phone. Sloane picked up on the second ring, laughing and calling out over his shoulder.

“You’re lucky you’re pretty, babe, because you are so wrong right now. Indy would totally kick Hans’s ass. Hey, Ash.”

“The level of nerd I’m being exposed to right now is seriously damaging to my health so I’m going to make this quick. We’re going to give tonight I miss. You guys go on without us.”

“Everything okay?”

“Keep this to yourself, but Cael’s freaking out a little about the new job.”

There was some shifting before the room went quiet, probably from Sloane moving away from wherever Dex was. “Dex has been worried about him. He knows something’s wrong, but Cael keeps insisting he’s fine.”

“Yeah, well, he’s not.” Ash sat on the edge of the bed with a sigh. “He still hasn’t opened up, but he did his Cael thing where he just blurts something out, and it was about you and Dex getting sent somewhere that puts Therians to death.”

Sloane cursed under his breath.

“The thing is,” Ash closed his eyes, and pushed down his own fears. “He ain’t wrong, Sloane. And just knowing you two could be sent to one of those places without us to back you up….”

Sloane went quiet for a moment before speaking up. “You could.”

“Could what?”

“Back us up. You’re an asset now, Ash. You and the team.”

Ash narrowed his eyes. “Yeah, we are, but you two have a habit of running off and doing shit on your own instead of asking for help.” The more Ash thought about it, the more pissed off he got. He jumped to his feet and started pacing. “You know what? No. You get sent to one of those places, you’re calling me for backup. You got that? I don’t want to hear any bitching, whining, or pathetic excuses. You go somewhere with heavy firepower or fucked up laws, and you better put in a call to whoever the fuck you gotta call, and put me on the first flight to wherever the fuck, because if you don’t—”

“I promise.”

“Don’t fuck with me on this, Sloane.”

“Ash, there is no one I would rather have watching my back, or Dex’s, than you. I will call you. I swear on my mother’s grave.”

Ash stilled. He inhaled deeply through his nose then released it through his mouth, the tension easing from his shoulders. “Okay.”

“Let us know if you need any help with Cael.”

“Will do. Can you keep this under wraps for a little while? I don’t want Dex barging in here in big-brother-mode. Cael needs time to process this shit, and Dex isn’t exactly patient when it comes to family.”

“I can buy you some time, but keep me posted, okay?”

“Thanks. Oh, and Rick Deckard could kick both Hans and Indy’s asses.” Ash laughed at Sloane’s curses then hung up. Dweebs. Bringing his cell phone with him, he headed downstairs, his heart squeezing at Cael standing in front of the sink just staring down into the sudsy water.

“Hey,” Ash said softly, coming up beside him so as not to spook him. Cheetah Therians were anxious by nature, and Ash made sure to always be aware of the fact. Cael blinked as if waking up from whatever trance he was in. He smiled brightly at Ash, and it was the most beautiful smile he’d ever seen.

“Hi.”

Ash chuckled before kissing him. “Hi, sweetheart.”

“Did they mind us not joining them?” Cael asked, going back to washing the dishes.

“Nah. You know them. They’re probably going to spend the day being all disgustingly lovey-dovey.” Ash wrapped his arms around Cael, and nuzzled his temple.

“As opposed to our lovey-dovey,” Cael teased.

“I’ll have you know, my cuddles are the epitome of manliness.”

Cael laughed, and Ash couldn’t help his smile. He loved making Cael laugh.

“What did you do with all the leftovers?” Ash asked, opening the fridge and getting his answer. It was filled with plastic containers.

“I’m going to try out some of Darla’s breakfast casseroles. Cal swears by them.”

Ash couldn’t argue with that. No one knew casseroles like Darla Summers. He helped Cael finish cleaning up around the kitchen, then leaned against the counter, facing Cael. “So what do you want to do first?” If they just took things easy, Cael would relax, and maybe even feel at ease enough to talk about what was going on in his frantic little cheetah Therian mind. Even when Cael was still, his thoughts were racing.

Cael went thoughtful. “Maybe after we shower and get dressed, you could show me how you make your angel food cake. I can’t seem to ever get mine as fluffy as yours.”

Ash couldn’t help his dopey grin. “That sounds great.” He brought Cael in for a kiss, wondering when it had all become so… normal. Falling asleep with Cael in his arms, waking up to his sweet smile, and finding joy in the little things he had once thought as nothing more than a mundane necessity. When had he started getting all sappy over cooking with his boyfriend, or just hanging around the apartment? Fuck. Sloane was on to something. Ash never thought he’d look forward to just spending the day at home with someone. He tolerated people in small doses, and a good portion of the time, not at all, but with Cael everything was different.


Part three next week on 3/16/17!


Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press. 

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THIRDS Thursday – 3/2/17

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

****SPOILER ALERT**** This takes place after Thick & Thin.


Ash rolled onto his back and stretched, the cool sheets comfortable against his skin. Cool? He opened his eyes and frowned. Usually he woke up with a warm, softly snoring Cael plastered to his back. Ash couldn’t help but grin at the image. It said a lot about how he felt about Cael. Ash never liked anyone touching him while he slept, not that he’d given anyone much opportunity to. Very rarely had he stayed to sleep with someone after having sex, and he never invited anyone to his apartment. On the rare occasions that he had stayed, he didn’t like anyone clinging to him. With Cael, not only did he love waking up to him holding onto Ash in some way, but Ash often woke up wrapped around Cael.

Ash placed his hand to Cael’s side of the bed. His boyfriend had clearly gotten up some time ago. He sat up and rubbed his eyes. Cael was an early riser. Like, ridiculously early, but when Cael stayed over—which was pretty much all the time now—he stayed in bed with Ash, usually reading a book or browsing the web on his tablet.

Getting out of bed, Ash rounded his shoulders then stretched his back. He grabbed his boxers off the trunk at the end of the bed, pulling them on before he headed into the bathroom. His heart did a little flip at the sight of Cael’s toothbrush next to his. Man, he was such a freaking sap, grinning like an idiot over a toothbrush. Then again, who the fuck cared? He liked seeing Cael’s toothbrush there. Liked seeing Cael’s toiletries in the bathroom alongside his own, Cael’s clothes in Ash’s bedroom. He liked having Cael with him, occupying the same space. It was a first for Ash.

Finishing up in the bathroom, he headed downstairs in search of his cheeky cheetah. Not surprising, Ash heard Cael moving around in the kitchen. Whatever he was making smelled amazing. When he reached the part of the stairs where he could see into the kitchen, he paused. Were Dex and Sloane coming over for breakfast? He groaned. It was way too fucking early to deal with Dexter J. Daley. Had Ash forgotten? They were supposed to be meeting up later for dinner and a movie. It was quite possible Dex had said something and Ash had just tuned him out. Wouldn’t be the first time.

“Morning, sweetheart.” Ash walked over to Cael, drew him into his arms, and kissed him. He had to hunch over a little, and Cael had to stand on his toes, but it always made him smile. He hummed at the sweet taste of Cael’s mouth. He’d been eating fruit.

“Morning. I made us breakfast,” Cael said, motioning to the counter.

Ash blinked at him. “You made all that for just the two of us?”

Cael nodded. “It’s all gloomy outside, so I thought we needed some tasty awesomeness. I made three kinds of pancakes. Blueberry, chocolate chip, and cranberry. Then I thought you might not want pancakes, so I made French toast and cinnamon rolls. But then I remembered that sometimes you don’t want to eat sweet in the morning, so I made scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, and buttered toast. It’s all piping hot. And there’s coffee, and hot chocolate.” Cael gasped, his eyes going wide. “I didn’t make any muffins. I’m sorry.”

“Baby, you know I love everything you make.” Ash studied Cael. “Talk to me.”

“I am.”

“Not about breakfast. Tell me why you made more food than even your brother could eat.”

Cael craned his neck around Ash to look out the huge glass window in the living room. “Wow. It’s really coming down out there, isn’t it?”

“Sweetheart,” Ash nudged gently, nuzzling his temple. “What’s on your mind?”

“We should eat before everything gets cold.”

Cael wasn’t ready to talk. Ash could wait. When Cael was ready, he would tell Ash what was wrong. Whatever it was, it was big if he didn’t even want to address it. “Sure.”

“Great!” Cael smiled, but whatever was weighing heavily on his mind was there behind his beautiful big gray eyes. Ash kissed his cheek then turned to grab a plate. He didn’t usually eat sweet stuff for breakfast, but Cael had spent who knew how long making all this, so Ash filled his plate with a bit of everything. Sometimes Cael forgot that the rest of them didn’t burn through calories the way he did. Next to Dex, and from what he gathered, Hudson, no one ate as much as Cael. Dex’s appetite had been scary when he was Human. Now he could eat almost as much as Sloane and Ash combined. Hudson was a wolf Therian, and wolf Therians loved food. They were also always running around, rarely still until they wore themselves out, or had someone to keep them grounded. Cael burned through calories by just breathing.

Sitting at the counter, Ash made sure Cael’s chair was close to his before Cael took a seat beside him with his small feast. Most his selection was sweet except for the tiny mountain of bacon piled next to his tower of pancakes. They ate, and made small talk. The food was damned good. It always was when Cael made it. Cael had seconds and ate every bite except for a rogue blueberry he was rolling around his empty plate with his fork. Ash took a sip of his coffee, and waited.

“It’s kinda gloomy out, isn’t it,” Cael murmured, still looking down at his blueberry. That was the second time he’d said that. “Did you know in some countries they sentence Therians to death just for being Therian?”

Ash almost choked on his coffee. He quickly swallowed, and grabbed a napkin to cough into. When he was no longer in danger of choking to death, he turned to stare at Cael. “Um, yeah.”

Cael looked up at him then, eyes glassy. “What if Dex and Sloane get sent to one of those places by TIN? What if they get caught?”

It took Ash a second to catch up. Shit. TIN. This was about Dex joining TIN. He should have known. Cael had managed to fool him this long. He’d acted like he was fine with it. Clearly, he wasn’t. Ash had to do something before Cael lost anymore sleep, or worked himself into a panic, because Ash could see it in his eyes. How the hell was he supposed to make Cael feel better about something he knew nothing about?


Part two next week on 3/9/17!


Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press. 

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THIRDS Thursday – 1/26/19

Prompt: Ash and Dex team up to take care of Cael while he is sick, like a couple of mother hens. :P


Ugh, he was so tired of these stupid algorithms. He’d been doing them all day. Why couldn’t Defense agents program their own stuff? He supposed he couldn’t be too mad at them. They had enough to worry about out on the streets without having to break their brains trying to talk to Themis. Sometimes he wanted to tell Themis where it could—

“Cael!”

Cael gave such a start he almost fell out of his chair. “What?” He snapped at Dex hovering over him.

“Jesus, you don’t have to bite my head off. What’s with you? You’ve been such a grumpy McGrumpy Pants for the last two days. Are you feeling okay?” Dex leaned in and put his head to Cael’s brow, his eyes going wide. “I think you have a fever.”

Cael swatted his brother’s hand away. “I’m fine. I’ve just been busy.” He frowned and went back to his desk interface. “Did you want something?”

When there was no reply, he looked up and peered at Dex. His brother was studying him, eyes narrowed.

“You’re kinda creeping me out,” Cael muttered. Then again, it was just Dex being Dex. “I’ve got a lot of stuff to do, so….” Hint. Hint. Hint.

Dex got up and walked out of the room. Cael stared after him.

“What the heck was that about?” Seriously, he worried about that guy.

Cael lost himself in his algorithms, stopping only long enough to pull a tissue out of his desk drawer. Stupid allergies. His nose was all stuffed up.

“Cael, are you all right?”

A shadow loomed over him, and Cael lifted his gaze, finding Ash looking down at him worriedly.

“Dex said you were sick.”

Cael leaned back in his chair to glare at his brother who was very smartly hiding behind Ash.

“I’m fine,” Cael said. “Dex is overreacting. Again.”

Ash seemed to be mulling that over. “While I will agree that your brother is prone to exceptional feats of ridiculousness, it would ease my mind if you let me check your temperature.”

Cael stared at him. “Take my temperature?” He shook his head. “Ash, I’m fine.” Of course the moment the words were out of his mouth, he sneezed.

Ash removed a small device from his pocket.

“Please tell me you didn’t bring a—”

The thermometer was place to his head, and Ash’s expression was very stern when he spoke. “Hold still.”

Cael was surrounded by crazy people. Should Cael be terrified right now? It would appear his brother’s crazy was rubbing off on Ash. Cael sighed, and the gadget beeped.

“You have a fever,” Ash declared, and Dex leaned around him to thrust a finger at Cael.

“I knew it. You’re sick. Do you want to go to the medic?”

Cael scowled at him. “No. My partner is a medic, remember?”

“Right.” Dex looked up at Ash. “He needs to be home under lots of fluffy blankets with pillows and chicken soup and one of those smoky-breathy things.”

Ash rolled his eyes. “You mean a humidifier?”

“Yeah, one of those.”

Cael groaned. “I’m fine. You two need to go away. I’m busy.”

“But—”

Cael jumped to his feet to yell at his brother when a wave of dizziness slammed into him, and he would have fallen over his chair if Ash hadn’t caught him. “I’m fine,” Cael grumbled.

“Sweetheart, maybe you should take the rest of the afternoon. You’re looking a little pale.”

“That’s just cause it’s so cold in here. Rosa probably turned the temperature down before she left for lunch.”

“Speaking of,” Ash said, running a hand over Cael’s head. It felt nice. “Why aren’t you eating lunch?”

“I wasn’t hungry, and I wanted to get these algorithms done.” He was going to once again say he was fine when he noticed Dex was gone.

“Where’s Dex?”

Ash straightened and turned around. “He was just here a second ago.”

Tony strode into the room, grumbled at Ash to move aside, and put his hand to Cael’s brow. Before Cael could say yet again that he was fine, Tony spoke up.

“You’ve got a fever. Go home.”

“What?” Cael sputtered, shutting his mouth when Tony gave him that look. “Yes, sir.” Cael let out a heavy sigh as Tony left. His dad was very strict when it came to agents getting sick. He’d rather have an agent be out for however long it took and get them cover than have a bug go around infecting everyone. Covering for a couple of agents was preferable to having to cover whole teams.

Dex walked in looking smug, and Cael gasped.

“Oh my God, did you just narc on me to dad?”

“No, I narced on you to our sergeant. Very different.”

Cael would have strangled him if he had the strength.

“Listen,” Ash said, kneeling beside his chair. “Sloane owes me some overtime, so how about I take you home and we get you settled down on the couch and I’ll make you some soup.”

“I can make soup,” Dex chimed in.

Ash waved a hand dismissively. “I’ve got this, Daley. Go make a menace of yourself elsewhere.”

“But, I always make him soup. And chocolate chip cookies.”

Ash stood, and slapped a hand on Dex’s shoulder. “And now he has me to make him soup and chocolate chip cookies. Don’t you have a job to do?”

Dex folded his arms over is chest. “Taking care of my family is my job.”

Cael sank farther down his chair. It was like watching a tennis match that never ended because neither side was giving in. Cael just needed a little sleep, that’s all. He logged out of Themis, and shut down his desk interface while Dex and Ash argued over who would look after Cael better. Taking it slow, he pushed himself to his feet. No dizzy spell. Good. He turned and sighed. They were still arguing? Jeez. These two. Pot and kettle.

“How about,” Cael said loudly, halting the argument, “Ash makes the soup, and Dex makes the cookies?”

They both narrowed their gazes at him.

“Or, you can both stay here arguing, while I go home, all alone.” He pouted. “Sick.” Cough. Cough.

“You got it, sweetheart.” Ash wrapped his arm around Cael.

“Chocolate chip cookies,” Dex agreed. “I’m on it.”

Cael blinked up at Dex. “Can I have double chocolate chips?”

Dex threw his arms around Cael’s head, petting it. “You can have all the chocolate chips, Chirpy.”

“Wow. You two are total suckers.”

Dex pulled back, puzzled. “My precious baby brother is sick, Cal.”

Cael looked up at Ash, bottom lip jutting out. “I’m not feeling so good. Can we go home?”

“Of course, sweetheart.” Ash led him to the doorway when Ash and Dex were called over by a fellow agent. “Be back in one second.” Ash kissed the top of Cael’s head before he and Dex hurried off. Cael turned to thrust a finger at Calvin.

“You do anything to ruin this for me, and I will end you, Summers.”

Calvin chuckled. “Man, you are evil.”

“Cal, my boyfriend is best friends with my brother’s boyfriend. Which means Dex and Ash are in each other’s hair more than ever, which means they spend a good portion of their time arguing and driving me and Sloane nuts. I deserve soup and chocolate chip cookies when I’m sick, Cal. If I don’t get my cookies, and some hot chocolate with enough whip cream to choke a mule, I’m going to shank someone with a spork! Do you hear me, Cal? A spork!”

Calvin took a slow step back, his eyes wide. “Um, how about I bring you some of my mom’s pecan pie?”

Cael smiled wide. “Aw, that’s very sweet of you, Cal. I would love that.”

“You’re kinda scary sometimes.”

“You would be too if Dex was your brother and Ash was your boyfriend.” Cael gave Calvin’s shoulder a pat. “Don’t forget the whip cream.”

Ash jogged over, his expression worried. “You okay? Sorry, just had to answer a couple questions about our last case. Ready?”

Cael coughed. “Ready.”

Thankfully they didn’t hit a lot of traffic on the way home. Cael was feeling pretty gross. His head hurt, his nose was stuffed, he was cold, his whole body ached, and he was so tired. Once inside, Ash helped him into his comfiest pajamas, and helped him over to the couch. He brought down half a dozen warm fuzzy blankets, several pillows, and even made Cael a hot water bottle because he was shivering. By the time Ash was done, Cael was ready to hibernate in his cave of fluffy warmth. The only part not covered by the blankets were his eyes.

“Better?”

Cael nodded.

Ash put on one of the science fiction movie channels before turning and kissing Cael’s brow.

“I’m going to go make that soup. If you need anything, you just let me know, okay?”

“Thank you,” Cael said, genuinely thankful Ash was here. He was so good at taking care of Cael. Even if his boyfriend did sometimes drive him crazy when he was around Dex, Cael still loved Ash like crazy. He really was such a good boyfriend.

Somewhere in the middle of a so-bad-it’s-good movie, Cael fell asleep. When he woke up, he could hear Ash and Dex arguing. It was hilarious though, because they were whispering arguing. There was nothing like hearing Dex and Ash insulting each other in whispers. There was movement around the kitchen, so clearly they were cooking while arguing. Cael couldn’t help his smile. They were such dorks.

Cael must have fallen asleep again, because the next time he woke up, Sloane was sitting on the couch, socked feet propped up on the coffee table in front, reading from his tablet. He looked over at Cael and smiled.

“How are you feeling?”

Cael let out something that was a cross between a moan, a groan, and a hiccup. Ash and Dex appeared before him. Jeez, how did they do that? It’s like they learned how to teleport or something.

“Hey, Chirpy. Are you okay?” Dex put his hand to Cael’s head. “Still feverish.”

Ash shoved Dex aside and knelt in front of Cael. “Want some soup, sweetheart?”

Cael nodded.

“Ha!” Ash thrust a finger at Dex. “I told you.”

“Can I have a cookie too?” Cael asked.

Dex bounced around on his toes pointing at Ash with his index fingers. “And I told you.”

“You better not eat all my cookies,” Cael warned his brother.

“Please. Just what do you take me for?”

Ash opened his mouth to reply, and Dex cut him off.

“Shut it.” Dex turned his attention back to Cael. “I made my own batch.”

Of course he did. Oh God, if Dex didn’t stop bouncing….

“Babe,” Sloane said gently. He patted the couch next to him. “Come here.”

Dex bounded over and dropped onto the couch next to Sloane. “Yes, my love?”

Sloane smiled warmly at him. “Nothing. Just wanted to give you this.” He leaned in and kissed Dex. Dex melted against Sloane with a dreamy sigh. He pulled up his legs, and snuggled up close to Sloane, his eyes closed. Still. Not fidgeting. Sloane winked at Cael before going back to his book.

And that was why the man was made for Dexter J. Daley.

Cael had never known anyone in his life who could calm his brother with just one look, one word, or one kiss. It was astounding.

“You okay to sit up?”

Speaking of astounding….

Cael sat up, and smiled at Ash. “Thank you, Ash. I really appreciate it.” He carefully moved aside his blankets so he could sit up. Ash placed the tray over his lap, and kissed his head.

“Anything for you, sweetheart, you know that. Oh, and Cal dropped off some of his mom’s pecan pie and a tub of whip cream.” Ash shrugged.

Cael’s heart swelled, and as Ash got under the covers beside him, wrapping him up just enough to keep him warm while he ate his chicken soup. Cael couldn’t be happier.


Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press. 


THIRDS Thursday is on hiatus for the month of February for the release of Thick & Thin and returns March 2nd! 

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THIRDS Thursday – 1/19/17

Prompt: Seb and Hudson’s first date.


Part 3

They carried on with their meal, chatting and laughing. Hudson told Seb why he’d arrived at the restaurant in the state he was in. How he’d been leaving the locker room down in Sparta when he’d been called to the training bay. A Human rookie from one of Unit Beta’s teams thought it would be funny to sneak up on his bear Therian teammate during a training session while the agent was in Therian form.

Seb groaned. “You’re kidding me.”

Hudson shook his head. “Everyone knows bear Therians do not like to be poked, or startled. The rookie had been warned, and decided to disregard the warning. Poor bloke was tossed across the room. He’s lucky all he broke was an arm.” Hudson’s smile grew wicked. “I can tell you he won’t be pulling a stunt like that again. Not after I finished with him.”

“Oh?” Seb chuckled.

“I was certain to explain in exceptional detail all the internal damage his organs could have suffered then explained how lucky he was he’d not been faced with a Felid Therian from Unit Alpha or he might have ended up with a crushed skull, or found his intestines dangling outside his stomach.”

Seb waggled his brows. “You have a bit of a wicked streak in you, Doc. I like it.”

They finished their meal, and Seb called them a cab, accompanying Hudson to his apartment building. Hudson insisted it wasn’t necessary, but Seb wasn’t quite ready to leave him. They stood outside the apartment building entrance, the cool evening breeze ruffling Hudson’s hair. Seb brushed it away from Hudson’s eyes.

“Thanks for tonight,” Seb said. “I really had a great time.”

Hudson leaned against the doorframe facing Seb. “As did I. Would you join me for dinner again sometime this week?”

“How about Thursday night? I get off at six. We could meet at eight?”

“It’s a date,” Hudson said beaming up at him.

Suddenly, Seb wasn’t quite sure what to do. He knew what he wanted to do, but what if Hudson got the wrong idea? What if he thought Seb was just interested in getting him into bed? Not that sex with Hudson would be a bad thing. Seb was pretty sure it would be spectacular, but he wanted to do this right. It was too soon to feel this crazy about someone, yet he realized he didn’t care. He was drawn to Hudson. Drawn to his beautiful smile, his handsome face, snarky sense of humor, and gentle eyes.

“Well, I guess I should go.” He ran a hand through his hair, feeling like a giant dork. Should he kiss Hudson? Was it too late to do it now? Should he kiss him on the cheek? On the lips? Would Hudson think he was being pushy?

“Sebastian?”

The soft-spoken word snapped Seb’s attention, and he looked down, wondering when Hudson had gotten so close.

“Yeah?”

“Goodness, you’re tall.”

Seb chuckled. “Yeah, well, that kind of goes hand in hand with being a tiger Therian.”

“You’ll just have to put in more of an effort then.”

Seb studied him. “What do you mean?”

Hudson dropped his gaze to Seb’s lips before moving his eyes back to Seb’s. “You’ll have to meet me halfway, darling. I won’t reach your mouth otherwise.”

It took Seb a moment. “Oh! Sorry, I—”

Hudson stood on his toes, cupped Seb’s face, and pulled him down, bringing their lips together. Joy and sizzling heat flared through Seb, and after his brain finally got the message, he closed his eyes, wrapped his arms around Hudson, and held him tight against him, mindful not to squeeze too hard.

Hudson’s lips were soft, plump, and his mouth tasted sweet from the dessert they’d shared. His scent filled Seb’s nostrils, and Seb moaned when Hudson pressed closer to him. Their kiss was slow as they explored each other’s mouth, their tongues tasting, teeth nipping. Hudson placed his hands to Seb’s chest, his finger sliding up and slipping under Seb’s collar to stroke his skin.

Their kiss went on for what seemed like a blissful eternity. Until a bang somewhere inside startled them, and they broke their kiss.

Hudson let out a breathless laugh. “Noisy neighbor.” He hadn’t moved out of Seb’s embrace. His cheeks were flushed that beautiful pink Seb was coming to love. “Would you…. Would you care to come in for a cup of tea, or coffee?”

Seb placed a kiss to Hudson’s cheek then murmured in his ear. “I would love to.” His voice had come out huskier than he intended, but before he could worry about it, Hudson removed his keys from his pocket, opened the door, and grabbed Seb’s wrist, pulling him inside toward one of the apartments. Their lips were locked in a heated kiss the moment they were inside Hudson’s place, the door closed. Seb walked him over to the couch, not seeing the coffee table in the center, or the blanket half draped on the couch onto the floor. He bumped into the table, turned, got his feet tangled in the blanket, and lost his balance. Hudson very sweetly tried to steady him, but Seb’s weight was too much for him, and they tumbled onto the couch, Seb on his back, and Hudson sprawled on top of him. They lay very still, neither speaking or so much as breathing until Seb broke the silence.

“Would you believe me if I said that’s how we do it here in America?”

Hudson laughed softly. He looked embarrassed. “I’m so sorry. I always have a mess of blankets and pillows out here when I watch telly.” Hudson’s cheeks flushed. “I suppose I should get up.”

“Or,” Seb prompted, wrapping an arm around Hudson, then turning them so Hudson was on his back on the couch with Seb laying over him. He grinned down at Hudson. “We could make the most of it and go back to kissing.”

Hudson slipped his arms around Seb’s neck drawing him close. He nuzzled Seb’s neck, planting kisses up Seb’s jaw.

“Plus, getting up would most likely require another tussle with your blanket, so really, you’d be saving me from possible misfortune.”

Hudson smiled as he continued to trail kisses over Seb’s skin. “Well, when you put it like that, how can I allow you to take such a risk? It’s best you not go too far.”

“I mean, I barely escaped with my life.”

“Poor dear, such a harrowing experience. I think your bravery should be rewarded,” Hudson murmured, kissing Seb, his body warm beneath him. They fit perfectly together, as if Hudson were made to be in his arms. Seb smiled against Hudson’s lips. Something told him this was the start of something special. Seb could hardly wait.


Missed Part 2? Read it here. Read Part 1 here.


Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press 2014.

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THIRDS Thursday – 1/12/17

Prompt: Seb and Hudson’s first date.


Part Two

Read Part One here. Final part next week.

Hudson poked his tongue out, licking his bottom lip. It took everything Seb had not to show Hudson what ravished would really look like on him. The man was just stunning, and he had no idea.

“You look incredible. How about we go inside, and you tell me what happened.”

Hudson nodded, his smile wide. Reluctantly, Seb pulled away. He opened the door for Hudson, and followed him inside. The restaurant was cozy with a rustic, casual décor consisting of exposed bricks walls, kitchen-style wooden tables, and mismatched chairs. It was atmospheric with live music playing as guests chatted over their scrumptious looking dinners.

Seb thanked the waitress when she handed him a menu. He ordered a beer, and Hudson ordered them a fresh lemon Soju which he insisted Seb had to help him drink.

“I’m not very good at holding my liquor I’m afraid. My friends used to tease me mercilessly in school.” Hudson shrugged and smiled. “Guess that makes me a cheap date.”

Seb couldn’t help leaning in, his voice low and husky. “Baby, there is nothing cheap about you.” He winked at Hudson and sat back, loving the way Hudson’s very fair skin flushed pink from the tips of his ears down to his neck. Apparently, Hudson blushed easily.

“Um, thank you.” Hudson cleared his throat.

Seb wasn’t sure what had gotten into him. He wasn’t normally so forward. Truth be told, he was kind of hopeless when it came to flirting. Ash was always teasing him. Guys would come up to Seb, and Seb would smile and chat, then walk away because he really had no clue he was being flirted with. He just assumed people were being friendly. Something about Hudson made him feel bold. Maybe he should pull back. Hudson was prim and proper, and rather shy. The last thing Seb wanted was to scare him off. “I gotta admit, I’ve not had much Korean food.”

“Well, what kind of dishes do you enjoy eating? There’s meat, seafood, veggie dishes. You said you didn’t have any food allergies, so it just depends on what you like.”

“Thank you for asking by the way, that was very considerate of you.”

Hudson smiled. “Well, I like to check first, and never assume. I’m allergic to mushrooms, so I’m always cautious.”

“How bad is your allergy?”

“Not enough to warrant an EpiPen or hospitalization, but I’ll break out into hives and have a rough time for several hours. I take a hay fever tablet before eating out as a precaution.”

“Hay fever tablet? Is that like an allergy pill?”

“Oh, yes. So sorry. It’s only been a year since I moved to the States. Some things are still getting lost in translation I’m afraid.”

“I’m sure you hear this all the time, but listening to you talk is such a pleasure.”

More blushing from Hudson which enchanted Seb. They decided to order a few dishes and share them. They all looked amazing to Seb, and he was a fan of spicy, so the Kimchi dishes sounded great. When the food came, Seb was pleasantly surprised by how much Hudson ate. The man had a healthy appetite and he wasn’t afraid to show it. Seb was roughly a foot taller, and had about a hundred and thirty pounds on Hudson, and despite his lean frame, Hudson ate like a tiger Therian.

“Do I have something on my face?” Hudson asked around a mouthful of food. He finished chewing and swallowed before chuckling. “Wolf Therians love food. Very much. And I am no exception.”

Seb leaned in to brush aside the hair that fell over Hudson’s brow. “Has anyone told you how adorable you are?”

Hudson cleared his throat, and sat back, his gaze meeting Seb’s. “May I be honest with you?”

“I’m sorry.” Shit, he should have reined it in. “I didn’t mean to come on so strong, it’s just….” Seb felt his face grow hot. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this nervous in my life. You’re this amazing, sophisticated guy, and I’m—”

“Wonderful,” Hudson cut in, his beautiful smile reaching his sparkling blue eyes. “You’re wonderful, Sebastian.”

Seb blinked. “I am?”

Hudson nodded. “What I was going to say was that I would very much like to do this again, very soon.”

“You would?”

“Yes.” Hudson smiled warmly. “I know it’s rather silly, considering this is our first date, but I feel as if we’ve known each other so much longer.” He took a sip of his drink as if to fortify himself. Seb could tell Hudson was trying his best not to fidget. He remained quiet while Hudson continued.

“I love arriving at work every morning and meeting you in the canteen for tea and coffee. It’s such a wonderful start to my day, seeing you and talking with you. I love how you drop by my office simply to say hello, or the way you always seem to know when I’m having a difficult day, and make me laugh.” He dropped his gaze to the table. “And while I’m being honest, I’m very much enjoying being the center of your attention. I’m afraid I could get used to it quite quickly. I’ve never met anyone like you, Sebastian.” He looked up at Seb then, his blue eyes clouding with heat. This time it was Seb who was squirming in his seat. Maybe Hudson wasn’t as timid as Seb thought.

Ignoring the butterflies in his stomach, and the pounding of his heart, Seb leaned in to brush his fingers down Hudson’s smooth jaw, his heart skipping a beat when Hudson leaned into the touch. “I’ve never met anyone like you either. And I feel the same way you do about knowing each other. Seems like I’ve known you forever. When we come back from working a rough case, when everything seems so dark and vile, I see your smile and suddenly everything makes sense again. I would love to do this again. How could I not give you my full attention? You’re incredible.”

Hudson let out a dreamy sigh, and Seb knew at that very moment that he was a goner.


Final part next week! Read Part One here.

Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

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THIRDS Thursday – 1/5/17

Prompt: Seb and Hudson’s first date.


Part One

“How do I look?”

Seb turned to his little brother, arms held out at his sides. After hours of rummaging through his closet and trying on practically every item of clothing he owned, he’d settled on an outfit that Ethan picked out. It was a mossy green sweater—the green bringing out his eyes—over a white shirt, and khaki pants. It wasn’t T-shirt and jeans, but it wasn’t a suit either. He’d been ready to lose his mind until his little brother dropped by, reached into his closet, and plucked the perfect outfit before Seb could toss his entire wardrobe out the window.

“I told you that sweater would look great with those pants,” Ethan replied quietly, a big smile on his face. “You’re really nervous, huh?”

“Yeah. I don’t think I’ve ever been this nervous over a date before.”

“Guess you really like him,” Ethan teased.

“It’s crazy. I barely know him, but….” Seb shrugged as he sat on the edge of the bed and pulled on his brown leather brogues. “There’s just something about him. I mean, he’s beautiful, smart, funny, and his smile just takes my breath away.”

“Wow, you got it bad.” Ethan laughed at Seb’s arched eyebrow. “What? I’ve never seen you like this. I think it’s great. He’s really nice. I like him for you.”

Seb couldn’t help his dopey grin. “Thanks.” Ethan grew quiet, and Seb straightened. To everyone else they knew, Ethan being quiet was the norm, but to Seb, when it was just the two of them and Ethan was quiet, it was worrisome. Ethan was always chatty with him. “What’s on your mind?”

“It’s not important,” Ethan muttered.

“If it’s on your mind then it is. Talk to me.” Seb turned to face his brother. “Come on, buddy. You know you can tell me anything.”

“I hope it works out for the both of you,” Ethan said, his eyes everywhere else but on Seb. “But I feel kind of bad.”

“Why?” Seb asked gently. He placed his hand on his brother’s head reassuringly like he always did when Ethan was little, letting him know that he was there for Ethan no matter what.

“I really want things to work out for you guys because you like him so much, and he makes you happy, but I also want things to work out for a more selfish reason, and I feel kind of crappy about it.” Ethan looked up at Seb then, and Seb was taken aback by the glassiness in his brother’s eyes.

“Ethan?”

“He understands me,” Ethan replied. “From the day we met him in the training bay, he didn’t question why I couldn’t talk. He didn’t look at me with pity. Instead, he smiled, talked to me like he did everyone else, and understood what I was trying to say. He doesn’t look at me like I’m broken. To him, I’m a colleague, an agent just like anyone one else on Destructive Delta. And even though he’s a doctor, he’s not trying to fix me.”

Seb’s heart squeezed in his chest. It was hard for Ethan when Seb or Rafe dated because their dates weren’t always so understanding. Some tried, but in the end things didn’t work out for some reason or another. Seb figured he hadn’t found the right person yet, because when he did, that guy would love Ethan and the rest of the Hobbs brood as much as Seb did. He didn’t begrudge anyone for walking away from him. His life was complicated, and at times emotionally draining. Between being a Defense agent for the THIRDS risking his life out in the field, his father’s condition, and his little brother’s Selective Mutism, it was too much for some people, and as much as Seb wanted to find love, he would never ever walk away from his family.

“Hey, look at me,” Seb insisted gently, smiling when Ethan looked up at him. “That’s not selfish. You’re my little brother, and I love you. Anyone who really wants to be a part of my life will want to be a part of your too, Ethan. We’re a family. That’s never going to change.”

“Yeah, but—”

“Ethan, the right guy will know how much you all mean to me, and he’ll love you as much as I do.”

Ethan’s eyes brimmed with tears. He nodded before throwing his arms around Seb, and hugging him tight. When he pulled back, he wiped the tears from his eyes. His wide grin made Seb chuckle.

“He’s going to love you, Seb, I just know he is.”

Ethan’s faith in him never ceased to astound him. “One step at a time, buddy.” Seb patted Ethan’s shoulders then headed downstairs, Ethan on his heels. He grabbed his wallet, keys, and phone along with his brown leather jacket. His hair had been recently cut so there wasn’t much he could do with it. Taking a deep breath, he followed Ethan outside, and locked up.

“Okay. Wish me luck. And thanks for coming over to check on me.”

Ethan hugged him again before heading off, and Seb promised he’d call to let him know how it went. Seb took a taxi instead of his truck so he wouldn’t have to worry about parking. The restaurant was a cute little Korean place on East 31st Street, one of Hudson’s favorites.

Seb had offered to pick Hudson up from his house, but since Hudson was getting off work later than Seb, he was going to shower and change at work then head out to the restaurant to meet him. A few minutes later, Seb walked in to the restaurant. He’d meant to call Hudson to let him know he was on his way, and completely forgot. He was about to ask the hostess when the door opened, and the most stunning man Seb had ever seen walked in. His black hair was windblown, his cheeks flushed, one side of his shirt sticking out from under his chic button down vest. His glasses were crooked on his nose, and one of his shoes were untied. The man was too adorable for words. When Hudson spotted him, he let out a squeak, and his eyes went wide. Seb smiled and opened his mouth to say hi when Hudson ran back out.

Well that was new.

Seb quickly followed, finding Hudson outside pacing furiously and mumbling to himself.

“Hudson?”

Hudson gave a start, a hand going to his chest. “Oh good lord.”

“Are you okay?” Had Hudson changed his mind?

“Yes, um, I uh….” Hudson let out a shaky laugh as he ran a hand through his hair. He smoothed down his vest then quickly tucked his shirt into his belt. “I um, I’m so sorry.”

Seb held his breath. “If you’ve changed your mind about this, I understand.”

Hudson blinked at him. “I beg your pardon?”

“You ran out when you saw me. I thought maybe you were rethinking the whole date thing.”

“No!”

The shout was unexpected, and Seb started. With a groan, Hudson covered his face with his hands. Seb chuckled. The poor guy was working himself into quite the flustered state. Seb realized then what was really happening. He stepped up to Hudson, knelt, and took hold of his laces.

“What are you doing?”

Seb looked up at him with a smile. “Tying your shoe.” He had a feeling if he didn’t the poor man might end up on the floor. The pink that crept into Hudson’s cheeks was just the sweetest thing.

“Thank you,” Hudson murmured, straightening his glasses. “I wasn’t having second thoughts. I thought perhaps I might have arrived before you and could run to the loo to tidy up my appearance. You’re very punctual.”

Seb laughed softly as he stood. “I’m sorry.”

“Please don’t apologize. I’m the one who should apologize, showing up like I’d been ravished or some such thing.”

Seb waggled his eyebrows. “Ravished, huh?”

“Oh, I… bollocks.” Hudson laughed, embarrassed. “Are you certain you’re not having second thoughts?”

Seb closed the distance between them. He placed his fingers under Hudson’s chin, lifting his face so he could meet those gorgeous blue eyes.

“Believe me, the last thing I’m thinking about is walking away from you.”


PART TWO next week!

Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

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THIRDS Thursday – 12/29/16

The fellas share their New Year’s resolutions.


Ash: I don’t make new year’s resolutions. If I want to do something, I do it. If I don’t want to do something, I don’t. That’s it.

Dex: How very Ash of you.

Ash: Whatever. This coming from the guy with no self-control.

Dex: *huffs* I totally have self-control. I don’t know what you’re talking about. *Turns to Sloane* Babe, I have self-control, right?

Sloane: *looking everywhere but at Dex*

Dex: *narrows eyes* Babe?

Sloane: *blinks at him innocently* Hm?

Ash: *snickering behind Cael*

Dex: Darling? Light of my loins. Owner of my very, very precious heart. Self-control. I have it, right?

Sloane: Um, of course your do, sweetheart.

Dex: You hesitated.

Sloane: *looks past Dex to Cael* How about you? Any resolutions?

Cael: I’m going to try and be more assertive. Outside the bedroom, anyway.

Ash: *jaw drops*

Dex: *eyes go wide* Oh my God, why? Why would you say that in my presence? *covers his eyes* I need bleach for my brain!

Cael: *rolls his eyes* I’m thirty years old, Dex. One of these days you’re going to have to accept that your baby brother isn’t a baby anymore.

Dex: Never! *throws his arms around Cael’s head and pets him* Precious, precious cookie.

Cael: I’m going to seriously hurt you if you don’t let go.

Dex: *sniffs* They grow up so quickly.

Cael: Get off.

Dex: One minute you’re changing their diaper—which was so heavy you had to wonder how something so small could poop so damn much—and the next thing you know—*gets tackled off his chair*

Sloane: *to Ash* What do you want to do after this?

Dex: *tussling with Cael on the floor* Could use a little help here.

Ash: *thinks about it* How about we grab some dinner and watch a movie? I’m kinda in the mood for Korean.

Dex: *groans after getting hit in the ribs* Babe?

Sloane: *snaps his fingers* Hudson recommended this great place over on East 31st Street. We should go there.

Ash: Sounds good.

Dex: Ouch! Dude, did you just try to knee me in ma boys? I need those!

Cael: Then stop talking about my diapers, you turd!

Dex: *snickers* Turd.

Cael: *stands over his brother and narrows his eyes* Say one more thing about me in diapers. I dare you.

Dex: *opens his mouth to reply*

Cael: Just know that when you do, I’m going to describe in exceptional detail the sex Ash and I had last night.

Dex: *pops up onto his feet* You know, I think I’m gonna sit down next to Sloane.

Cael: You do that. *Resumes his seat next to Ash*

Dex: *leans over Cael to peer at Ash* I blame you.

Ash: For what? The sex?

Dex: That. But generally, I just blame you.

Sloane: *chuckles and pats Dex’s leg*

Dex: *turns to Sloane* So what’s your new year’s resolution?

Sloane: *thinks about it* I don’t know. I guess, just really appreciate what I have, and making sure what I have knows he’s appreciated. *kisses Dex’s cheek*

Dex: *melts* Aw. You’re such a sap.

Ash: *to Dex* I blame you for that one.

Dex: *sighs dreamily as he looks at Sloane* I happily accept responsibility.

Ash: Dork.

Dex: Bite me, Simba.

Ash: That’s getting old.

Dex: Aslan, then. Or we could go with Scar. Or Mufasa.

Ash: *grins wide* How about we go with my fist in your face. How’s that? I like that one best.

Sloane: Okay, that’s enough you two. Back to resolutions.

Dex: *puts his hand up * Ooh, I got one!

Sloane: Why are you raising your hand?

Ash: I find it hard to believe that you ever raised your hand in school.

Dex: Of course I raised my hand. I was an exceptional student.

*Cael and Ash exchange glances before bursting into laughter*

Cael: *wiping a tear from his eye* He’s right. He did raise his hand. He also made noises, whispered loudly to get the teacher’s attention, and flailed his arms. It drove his teachers insane, among other things.

Dex: *wrinkles his nose* Hey, I was an enthusiastic student.

Cael: And then after all the flailing and noises, when the teacher finally did call on him, he’d ask a completely random question. Like if she asked what the answer to the math problem was, he’d drive her nuts until she picked him, and then ask something like “why do dogs get surprised by their own farts”.

*Ash and Sloane burst into laughter*

Dex: What? If I didn’t ask when it occurred to me then I’d forget, and it would bug me for the rest of the day. I needed to know. You can all bite me.

Sloane: *sobering up* Okay, babe. What’s your resolution?

Dex: *mutters* To find new friends.

Sloane: Aw, don’t be mad. *pulls Dex into his arms and kisses him* You know we love you.

Ash: *opens his mouth when Cael clamps a hand over it*

Dex: *pouts* Can we get ice cream after dinner?

Sloane: Of course we can. You can have all the ice cream you want.

Ash: *groans*

Cael: *eyes light up and turns to Ash* I want ice cream too!

Ash: *hugs Cael and glares at Sloane over Cael’s head* Of course, sweetheart.

Dex: *jumps off his chair at the same time as Cael* Woop! *they run out*

Ash: *shakes his head at Sloane* You couldn’t have just said yes, you had to say “all the ice cream you want.”

Sloane: Sorry. You know it’s hard for me to say no when he’s looking all pouty like that.

Ash: Which is why he does it, you sap! *throws his arms up* Now they’re going to eat their weight in ice cream, and Cael is going to be bouncing off the walls.

Sloane: *shrugs* Dex will be too. And it’ll last most of the night. *waggles his eyebrows*

Ash: *opens his mouth to answer then closes it. Realizes what Sloane is saying and stands* Let’s go get some ice cream. *grins wide* Happy New Year to me.

Sloane: *chuckles and walks after him*


Copyright © 2016 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

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THIRDS Thursday – 12/22/16

A THIRDS Christmas.


Where could he be?

Sloane looked everywhere for Ash. He’d woken up to find Ash gone, but he didn’t have a “session” or Ash would have told him. The door to their room had been open, which meant they were allowed to leave. Probably because it was Christmas tomorrow, so there were no sessions until after, and most of the grownups were gone, except for the security guards and Dr. Shultzon.

Ash never went anywhere without telling Sloane, just like Sloane never went anywhere without Ash, not if he could help it. Not because the other kids scared him. No one was mean to each other. Ash had said it was because they were all in this together. It was the grownups they were all scared of.

Sloane checked the playroom, the canteen, and even the medical bay. No one had seen him either. Sloane didn’t call out for Ash in case it got him in trouble. Ash had to be here somewhere. He’d never leave Sloane alone. Ever. Last week Dr. Shultzon told Sloane it had been almost three years since Sloane and Ash met. It made Sloane really happy. Ash called him a dork, saying they’d always be together so it wasn’t a big deal. Three days after Christmas, Sloane would be thirteen, and officially a teenager, just like Ash. Ash had teased Sloane, telling him he was the oldest, already a teen while Sloane was still a little kid. Sloane had rolled his eyes. Ash was like, not even a month older.

Walking by one of the offices, Sloane heard sniffing and froze. The door was open a tiny bit. Checking each end of the hall to make sure no one was watching, he tiptoed up to the door then peeked inside. Ash was inside the empty office, sitting on the windowsill, looking out.

Sloane slipped inside, closing the door silently behind him. He walked up to Ash who didn’t even blink.

“Hey,” Sloane said quietly.

Ash grunted, but didn’t say anything. He was usually grumpy, but this time it was different. He looked… sad.

“Can I sit with you?”

Ash let out a noise, like he was annoyed, but pulled his knees up and wrapped his arms around them to make room for Sloane.

Sloane climbed up on the windowsill, his knees drawn up as he faced Ash. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

Sloane studied Ash. His eyes were kinda red and glassy, and he sniffed before rubbing his eyes, a deep frown on his face.

“What do you want?” Ash growled, still not looking at him.

“I couldn’t find you.”

Ash glanced over at him. “And you got scared, huh?” He didn’t sound mad.

Sloane nodded, his bottom lip between his teeth. He hated being so scared all the time, but he couldn’t help it. The tests, the screaming, and crying, the nightmares…. It wasn’t so terrible because Ash was with him. Always. Not being able to find him had scared Sloane.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Ash muttered.

Sloane looked out the window, gasping and plastering his hands on the glass. “It’s snowing!” It had been a long time since he’d seen the snow. None of the rooms they were ever in had any windows. Ash said it was so no one on the outside could see them. Sloane thought maybe no one knew they were here, but Ash thought they did and just didn’t care.

“The snow makes me think of Arlo.”

Sloane was sad for Ash. He’d never had any brothers or sisters, so he didn’t know how it would feel to lose one of them, but he knew how it would feel if he lost Ash. Ash had told Sloane about Arlo one night after Sloane woke him up from a nightmare. He’d been kicking and crying in his sleep, calling out for someone called Arlo. His twin.

“I’m sorry,” Sloane said softly. He wished there was something he could do to make Ash not hurt so much. Ash wouldn’t like him fussing, so Sloane just nudged his socked feet closer until they were touching Ash’s. His shoulders relaxed.

“My mom used to take us ice skating all the time. Arlo loved it.”

“You ice skate?” Sloane blinked at his friend, surprised.

“Yes, dork. I can ice skate. I can do a lot of things.” Ash went back to looking out the window and sighed.

They were quiet, both watching the snow fall. The longer they watched, the sadder Ash seemed to get. Sloane wondered what he could do. He had to do something. Ash was always taking care of him, cheering him up, making him laugh, stealing extra snacks from the canteen for them.

“Do you want to go watch Christmas movies?” Sloane asked, hopeful.

Ash shook his head, his voice quiet. “Maybe later. I’m just gonna sit here a while. Watch White Christmas. That always makes you smile.”

Sloane carefully hopped down. “Okay.” He left Ash and headed for one of the big playrooms where they were sometimes allowed to watch movies.  When he got there he didn’t go in. Instead, he turned, and went to the elevator. He took it up to the next floor. The doors opened and a security guard frowned down at him.

“Where are you going?”

“I need to talk to Dr. Shultzon.”

The man’s frown grew deeper.

“Please,” Sloane said, eyes wide. “I won’t be long. I promise.”

With a sigh, the man nodded. “Hurry up. I’m watching you.”

“Yes, sir.” He hurried down the hall until he found Dr. Shultzon’s office. He’d been here lots of times. Usually when Shultzon was trying to explain to him why he needed to be a brave boy, and how he was really important. Sloane stood in the doorway and tried not to fidget.

“Dr. Shultzon?”

Dr. Shultzon looked up from his where he sat behind his desk and smiled. “Sloane, what a pleasant surprise. You don’t normally come to visit me.”

“I’m sorry,” Sloane said, rubbing his arm. “I um, I wanted to ask if you could do something.”

Dr. Shultzon laced his fingers together. “Oh? And what’s that?”

Sloane told him what he wanted, then waited. Dr. Shultzon was quiet. “That’s a very odd request. I’m not sure—”

“But, you could if you wanted to right?”

“Perhaps, but Sloane, I don’t—”

Sloane rushed over to the desk, gripping the edge. “But I’m important, right? You’ve told me so lots of times. That I’m important, and that I help other Therians. You said I was special.”

“Yes, that’s true.”

“Please. I won’t ever ask for anything ever again. I won’t misbehave. I promise.” He drew a cross over his heart with his finger. “Tomorrow’s Christmas, and this is super-duper important.” His best friend in the whole world was sad. Whatever Sloane had to do to make Ash be Ash again, he would do it.

“Sloane—”

“Please!” Tears welled up in Sloane’s eyes. “You have to!”

“Well, seeing as how you feel so strongly about this, and tomorrow is Christmas. All right. One hour. Be by the elevator on your floor, and I’ll have one of the guards escort you over.”

“Thank you!” Sloane ran from the room. One hour. Sloane took the elevator back to the floor where his and Ash’s room where. He was already wearing warm clothes, so he just had to put his shoes on. He grabbed Ash’s sneakers, and ran back to the elevator, getting off on the floor where the office was. Ash was still sitting at the window. When Sloane tiptoed in, Ash huffed.

“It’s been like, five minutes.”

Sloane put Ash’s sneakers on the floor by the door before joining him at the window.

“I know. I thought maybe you missed me,” Sloane teased, knowing how much it annoyed Ash, though it didn’t really annoy him. He just pretended it did. Sloane climbed up and sat with him, watching the snow fall.

“Why do you keep looking at the clock?” Ash peered at him, and Sloane shrugged.

“Just wondering what time it is.”

“Cause you got somewhere to be?”

An hour! Sloane jumped down. “We have somewhere to be.” He grabbed Ash’s wrist. “Come on. I want to show you something.”

Ash rolled his eyes. “Fine. You’re so annoying.”

“I know,” Sloane said with a laugh. “Come on. Put on your shoes.” He handed Ash his sneakers.

“Why?”

“Just do it!”

“Geez, okay. You’re so bossy.”

Ash put on his sneakers, and the second he’d tied his shoes, Sloane grabbed his hand and ran.

“Where are we going, and why do we have to run there?”

“Because!”

“That’s not an answer.”

“Whatever,” Sloane said, pulling Ash with him to the elevator where a guard stood waiting for them. Ash lifted his chin, and narrowed his gaze at the man.

“Where are we going?”

“Trust me,” Sloane said, getting into the elevator with the guard. They stopped in the basement, and when the doors opened, Sloane covered Ash’s eyes.

“What are you doing?”

“It’s a surprise.” Sloane was so excited, he could barely hold it in.

“You’re such a dork.”

“I know, but please, Ash. Don’t peek.”

“Fine. Whatever.”

They walked slowly out into what looked like the building’s underground parking garage. Except it didn’t look much like a parking garage anymore. Sloane moved his hands.

“Merry Christmas, Ash!”

Ash’s eyes went huge, his mouth dropping open. “Holy cow… is that…?”

“It’s an ice skating rink!” Sloane ran over to the white wall surrounding the ice rink. It wasn’t huge, but it was plenty big for them. There were Christmas lights, a radio playing Christmas music, and a small table with hot chocolate. Sloane picked up a pair of black ice skates, and hurried them over to Ash. “They’re your size.”

“How…?” Ash shook his head. He looked at Sloane, his bottom lip trembling, and tears in his eyes. Sloane’s smile fell off his face.

“Do you not like it?”

One second Sloane was standing in front of Ash, the next he was falling over from Ash tackling him. Sloane laughed, hugging his best friend tight.

“This is the best Christmas present ever,” Ash murmured. He smiled down at Sloane, hugged him one more time before scrambling to his feet. “Come on!”

“I don’t know how to skate,” Sloane said quietly.

Ash handed Sloane the other pair of skates. “I’ll teach you, silly.”

Sloane’s smile was so big his face hurt. He pulled on the skates, and Ash taught him how to lace them up properly. Then he helped Sloane over to the ice. Sloane didn’t think it was real ice, but it was close. It was cold too. He could see his breath when he laughed.

The ice was super slippery, and even though Sloane went slower than a snail, he still kept falling over. Ash laughed.

“You’re like Bambi.”

“Funny,” Sloane grumbled, trying to stand up. After two tries, he sat down on his butt. He smiled up at Ash. “I want to see you skate.”

“Okay.” Ash beamed down at him. He took off, and Sloane was amazed at how easy Ash made it look. He didn’t trip or fall even once. He was so good. He could even skate backwards, and he did turns. Most of all, he was happy, a big smile on his face as he went fast then slowed down, turned and skated backwards. Sloane had never seen Ash smile like that, and it made his heart happy knowing he’d done that.

Ash came back, stopping in front of him. He held his hands out. “Come on. Let’s try again.” He helped Sloane to his feet then turned. “Hold on to my sweater.”

Sloane did as asked, and Ash slowly started skating with Sloane holding on. He actually managed to stay on his feet.

“I’m doing it!” Sloane laughed, and held on tight as Ash went a bit faster. It was kind of like roller skating, but way more slippery. After a while, Sloane was moving his legs. He held onto Ash’s hand as they skated. This was the best Christmas ever.

“Ash?”

“Yeah?” Ash stopped to catch his breath.

“Let’s spend every Christmas together.”

Ash looked at him for a long moment before nodding. “Okay.” A big smile spread on his face, and he held his hand out to Sloane. “Deal.”

“Best friends forever.”

Ash shook his head, but he was smiling still. “Dork.”

“Ash,” Sloane whined.

“Best friends forever.” Ash threw his arm around Sloane’s shoulders. “Merry Christmas, Sloane.”

Sloane smiled wide. “Merry Christmas, Ash.”


Copyright © 2016 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

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THIRDS Thursday – 12/15/16

*** CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SMOKE & MIRRORS ***

Prompt: I would like to read the scene where Dex is found in the woods in Smoke & Mirrors from Sloane’s point of view.


He had to find him.

Damn TIN for wasting so much time. Sloane should have been out here searching for Dex hours ago. Instead the bastards had knocked him out. Did Sparks really think he was going to just sit around on his ass and do nothing? His mate was out there somewhere, in trouble and in pain. Sloane could feel it down to his bones. He didn’t care if he drew attention to himself in the bright orange muscle car, he needed to have it with him. Needed to feel close to Dex, sit in his seat, grip the steering wheel. It was stupid, but driving the Challenger kept his hopes up. Like the damn thing might actually lead him to its owner.

As he drove, he told himself over and over that they would find Dex and he’d be alive. His man was made of tough stuff, tougher than a lot of people gave him credit for. Dex would survive. He’d do whatever was necessary to get back to Sloane, to Cael and Maddock. His family.

“Come on, baby, you gotta come home. I need you to come home.” Sloane’s phone rang and he tapped his earpiece after the first ring. “Who is this?”

“It’s me.”

Sloane almost slammed the breaks. For a second, he was afraid maybe he was hearing things, but he’d never mistake Dex’s sultry tones for anyone else’s. His voice was hoarse, sounding as if he were on the verge of tears, and Sloane had to blink away his own. He was so relieved, but until Dex was safe in his arms, he’d maintain focus.

“Oh thank God. Dex, where are you?”

“I… I have no idea. There’s lots of trees. I don’t see any signs. There was a road, but I don’t know what it was. Can you get Cael to find my location using the phone’s GPS?”

“Give me a sec,” Sloane murmured, sending Cael a quick emergency message asking him to trace the phone Dex was calling from. A heartbeat later he received a reply. “He’s on it. Are you okay? Talk to me. What happened?”

“It’s a really, really long story. I just… I need you.”

The whimper, the fear and need crept into Dex’s voice, and Sloane wanted nothing more than to be there with him. To hold him close and never let him go. “I’m on my way, sweetheart. Are you somewhere safe?”

“Home was safe.”

Sloane swallowed hard. Those sons of bitches. Whoever did this, whoever made Dex feel unsafe in his—their—own home was going to pay. “We’ll sort that out. Right now, let’s get you to me, okay? I’m your home.” Sloane rubbed at one eye then the other. He had to keep his shit together.

“Thank you. I really needed to hear that right now.”

Always. His earpiece beeped, and he tapped it, hearing Cael’s voice come in through the car’s speaker. Sloane hit the gas. “We have your location. I’ll be there soon. Stay on the line with me.”

“I’m tired.”

No. No. No. Who knew what shape Dex was in. Sloane couldn’t lose him. He tried to keep the panic form his voice. “Stay awake, sweetheart. Please.”

“I don’t think I can. I’m kinda in bad shape here.”

There was a tremble in Dex’s voice, and as Sloane headed north, speeding through the city and breaking who knew how many traffic laws, he scrambled to think of something that would keep Dex awake until he got there. Stay with me. Please stay with me. An idea struck him, and he turned the radio on. It was tuned in to Retro Radio, same as it always was.

“Sing with me.”

“What?”

“Come on. Listen.” Sloane turned up the radio, blasting the Romantics “What I Like About You.” Sloane sang and urged Dex to sing with him, his husky voice wrapping Sloane up in its warmth. Dex was trying his best to keep up with the lyrics which was no easy feat considering the fast-paced tune.

Dex loved this song. It came on while Dex cooked dinner last week. Sloane had joined in when Dex grabbed him and begged him to dance. He’d laughed and tried to pull away, but his boyfriend was an adorable goofball, so Sloane ended up getting swept up in the crazy. It had been fun, just jumping around, acting like a couple of dorks, singing along.

Sloane’s heart squeezed in his chest when he thought about that night, and every other night since he’d moved in with Dex. Sloane told Dex he was Dex’s home, but the reverse applied as well. Dex was his home. Wherever they were, if Dex was there, Sloane was okay. His sparkling blue eyes, his beautiful smile, and infectious laughter, Sloane needed him. All of him.

“Keep singing, sweetheart,” Sloane pleaded.

Dex was trying, and it broke Sloane’s heart. His voice was rough, his words barely audible, but he tried. As the song ended, the car became frightfully silent.

“Dex? Dex! Stay with me, baby, please.”

Breathing. He could hear breathing. Finally he pulled up on the street in the car’s GPS. He parked, turned off the headlights, and locked up before running up the incline where he spotted several TIN operatives. They’d started searching the thick greenery. The rest of their team arrived, and Cael ran to Sloane, his big gray eyes filled with fear.

“Where is he?”

“I don’t know. He’s got to be in there somewhere. Everyone spread out. If you find him, I want to know immediately.” They joined the search, and Sloane tried to catch his mate’s scent. “Dex! Dex, where are you?”

A faint croaking sound caught his ear and he stilled. He sniffed at the air, and his stomach flipped. He ran toward the scent, his inner Felid stirring. He was close. TIN operatives caught onto something as well and they followed him as he ran through the trees, emerging to find the most beautiful man he’d ever seen. Sloane sped over and dropped to his knees, cradling Dex in his arms.

“Dex, look at me. Sweetheart, open your eyes.” Oh God, what have they done to you? Sloane couldn’t focus on the blood stains, bruising, or swelling. He had to look past the state Dex was in to the man he loved. “Dex, I’m here, sweetheart. I’m here.” Sloane gently hugged him close, one hand around Dex’s back, the other cradling Dex’s head to him, enveloping Dex in the hopes of giving him some of his warmth. Relief flooded through him.

“I stayed awake,” Dex murmured, nuzzling his face against Sloane’s shirt, inhaling his scent. Sloane blinked back his tears.

“You did good, babe. It’s okay.”

Dex nodded.

TIN operatives were ordered to span out and search, and Dex went limp in his arms. Sloane checked his pulse. He was out cold. With a shuddered breath, he rubbed his cheek against Dex’s hair, rocking him gently, murmuring comfort against his air.

“I love you, Dex. I love you so damn much.”

“Sloane, we need to take him.

Sloane snarled up at the operative, a fierce sense of possession flooding through him. He held Dex close to his chest, his fangs elongating as he dared anyone to lay a hand on his wounded mate. He’d tear them apart.

“Try it,” Sloane hissed. “Lay one finger on him and I’ll rip your throat out.”

The operative put his hands up and took a quick step back.

Sloane kissed Dex’s temple, a growl rising in his throat at the unfamiliar scent. A wolf Therian.

“Sloane?” Sparks crouched down beside him. “Dex is hurt. We need to get him medical attention.”

Sloane’s inner Felid fought against him. He didn’t want anyone touching his mate, but Sloane’s Human senses prevailed. Dex needed help. Who knew the extent of his injuries? He had to think of Dex, had to help him. Sloane’s chest tightened, and his inner Felid wailed as he nodded. Lifting Dex in his arms, he stood, and although his instincts fought to hold onto the man he loved, he allowed the large bear Therian to take Dex.

Sloane stood, his heart breaking as the operative carried Dex away. The pain coursing through him was like nothing he’d ever felt before. Never in his wildest dreams would he have imagined falling so deep and so hard for someone. Dex was his life, and Sloane would do whatever it took to keep him.


Copyright © 2016 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

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