Office Space – 9/9/16

Hello all! Welcome to this week’s Office Space! If you missed the intro post to the new blog post series, you can read all about it here.

Washi-Tape-Wonderland--CCoc

Last week I showed you my planners. Here’s my Erin Condren. I’m not a huge fan of spiral planners, but I do really love the Erin Condren ones. They’re nice and spacey, and I love that you can customize it. This one is an 18 month one so it lets me plan well ahead. This is great for my brain-dumping info since I don’t have to worry about moving around information and keeping it neat. The three trays contain all my favorite washi tape. Yep, there’s a lot more than that kicking around, but these are the ones I use the most. Most of these washi tapes are from Michaels.

Do you have any hobbies? What do you do to relax?

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THIRDS Thursday – 9/8/16

THIRDS Thursdays

Prompt: I’d like to see Ash and Cael’s trip to Bed Bath and Beyond.


“Would you mind if we stop at Bed Bath & Beyond? It’s on the way, and I need a new showerhead.”

The words Ash had been dreading to hear. He supposed he couldn’t complain. He’d managed to evade the floral scented purgatory until now. He really, really didn’t want to go, but with Cael looking at him with those big silver eyes, and that dazzling smile, how could he say no?

“Sure. No problem.”

The moment he stepped foot in the store, he was in pain. Not physical pain, but it was close. He pressed his lips together as he followed Cael to the bath department. On the way there, Cael stopped to look at candles. Ash lingered, his hands shoved in his jacket pockets as he stood, not touching anything in case the douchebaggery was catching. Except Cael. His sweet, sinfully sexy boyfriend looked adorable as he tried to decide from the thousands of different candles on the shelf before him. Unlike the asshat in the next row gushing to his girlfriend about the emu egg omelet he’d had last week. The urge to smack the stupid out of him was strong, so Ash turned around. He frowned at the price label on the shelf beneath a box displaying a candleholder. A sales clerk was walking by, and Ash called out to him.

“Hey, there’s a misprint on this.”

“Oh?” The bouncy waif of boy with floppy blond hair all but skipped over. Jesus, what was he? Seventeen? Nineteen at most? He pulled out his price gadget and scanned the tag. “Hm, looks like that’s the current retail price.”

Ash’s brows sprang near his hairline. “Are you telling me this piece of glass is almost eight hundred dollars?”

The teen blinked at him. “It’s Waterford Crystal, sir.”

Was he supposed to know what that meant? “It’s a candleholder. It holds a candle.”

“Um, yes, sir. It does.” He looked at Ash like that was supposed to clear up everything.

“Is it going to do my taxes for me?” Ash growled. “Or does it somehow have the power to light my whole apartment and therefore negate the need for electricity?”

“Uh, no.”

“So what you’re saying is this piece of glass that you stick a candle in, is eight hundred dollars.”

The kid opened his mouth, when Cael took hold of Ash’s arm, smiling at the clerk as he tugged Ash along with him, calling out over his shoulder.

“Thank you for your help.”

Cael pulled him down the aisle, and Ash shook his head. “Can you fucking believe that shit?”

“If it’s shiny, you probably shouldn’t look at the price tag.”

“It makes no sense. Why would you pay that much for a candleholder that’s going to get melted wax all over it?”

Cael looked up at him, his eyes alight with amusement. “I doubt people actually light the candles inside it. They most likely just have it on display.”

“Why buy it if you’re not going to use it. That’s stupid.”

“It’s décor, Ash. What about the expensive rug you have in the living room, and the throw pillows on the couch?”

“I didn’t have to fucking remortgage my apartment for them, plus they’re functional. We lay on the pillows, and we sit on the rug.”

“And have sex on it too,” Cael pitched in with a wicked smile that went straight to Ash’s dick. He cleared his throat. What the hell were they talking about? Right, useless expensive shit.

“Why don’t we find the shower stuff and get to your place?”

“Okay. Try not to scare anymore employees.”

“I wasn’t scaring him. I was expressing my disgust and disdain at the overpriced paperweight. No, actually, a paperweight serves a purpose.”

Cael laughed softly as he veered off to the right and the wall length display of showerheads. For fuck’s sake. Was there really a need for that many choices? With a huff, he looked around, spotting a bunch of fancy bathroom scales.

“Christ, really?”

“What?” Cael asked, sounding amused.

“Why the hell would you need a scale that has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth?”

“It connects to your activity tracker so you can sync your weight and body mass information, or whatever health data you’re monitoring.”

“Fuck I feel old.” It suddenly occurred to him that he was ten years older than Cael. A whole damn decade. It wasn’t like he hadn’t known, but he never really thought about it. Now, surrounded by sheets bragging thread count, two-hundred-dollar basket hampers, and hundred-dollar bath rugs, he felt like he was in a different world. Kitchenware connected to computers, a gadget told him how old his egg were, and how many—like he couldn’t just fucking count them—, and a crockpot that could be turned on via smartphone. Man, he felt so old. Cheaper options were available, but even if you were floating in cash, why the fuck would you need a designer hamper? He just didn’t understand it.

Everything he owned was functional. It served a purpose. He liked nice stuff, but there was a line. Some stuff was worth spending the money on. Hundred-dollar shower curtains did not fall into that category.

Laughter caught his attention and while Cael compared showerheads, Ash turned to the couple huddled together looking at soap dishes. They were both young. Probably about Cael’s age. They were obviously very much in love. They teased and flirted with each other, making each other laugh. Everything seemed to excite them. Or more likely, they excited each other.

“Ash? You okay?”

Ash snapped himself out of it and smiled at Cael. “Yeah. Did you find the one you wanted?”

“Yep.” Cael held up the box, and winked at him. “Therian, extra sturdy.”

“Great.” He cleared his throat, and forced the words out. “Is there, um, anything else you want to look at?”

Cael patted Ash’s bicep. “Don’t worry. I think you’ve suffered long enough.”

“It’s fine,” Ash said quickly. “I mean, if you want to look, shop, whatever, it’s fine. Really.” This is what couples did right?

Cael blinked at him. “Thanks, but I’m done. Promise.”

Ash nodded. He insisted on paying for the showerhead since he’d been the one to break it during their last sexcapade. These days, sex with Cael seemed to come in two settings, and only two settings. There was sweet and slow, or “holy fuck!”. The latter usually resulted in something breaking. In this instance, Cael’s showerhead which Ash had grabbed and snapped after Cael’s little experiment went a little too well.

On the ride to Cael’s place, Ash was lost in his thought. He hadn’t even realized it until Cael’s soft voice snapped him out of it for what seemed like the hundredth time. At the red light, he glanced over at Cael in the passenger seat, his heart skipping a beat at the concern in Cael’s big silver eyes. He was dressed casually in jeans that hugged his lean frame, a superhero T-shirt, and soft hoodie. On his feet were the orange Chucks he’d “borrowed” from Dex, and one of his many patterned socks. Today it was cupcakes. God, he was beautiful.

“Ash? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” He did his best to smile, and took Cael’s hand in his before bringing it to his lips for a kiss.

“Ash,” Cael prodded gently. “Talk to me.”

The light turned green, giving Ash a good excuse not to look at Cael while he confessed his stupid insecurities. “I don’t know. Do you ever wish you had someone who understands all this domestic shit?”

“What do you mean?”

“You know. Picking out curtains and stuff.”

Cael chuckled. “That’s a stereotype, Ash.”

“What is?”

“That all couples pick out color swatches together, or redecorate together. You really think it matters to me whether you help me pick out hand soap or not?”

Ash pulled up to the curb, parking in a spot a few feet from Cael’s apartment. He turned to face Cael. “You know I love being with you, and I’ll go wherever you want me to, but I suck at this.”

“First of all, I love you too, and you don’t suck,” Cael assured him. He took off his seatbelt, and Ash thought he was about to get out of the car. Instead, he climbed over the center console, and straddled Ash’s lap. Ash’s breath hitched, and he shifted in his seat, swallowing hard when Cael moved Ash’s hands to his hips.

“Second of all,” Cael continued, leaning in, his voice low and husky. “You know I would never want you to do something you don’t want to. We’re a partnership, Ash. Which means we look out for each other. Compromise on what’s important. Stopping at the store tonight was a matter of convenience since it was on the way. It wasn’t a test to see how much you loved me.” Cael placed a kiss to Ash’s cheek, followed by another to his jaw, his chin, the tip of his nose, and his brow. “Tell me what else is wrong,” he murmured softly.

“I’m gonna be forty next year, and you’ll just be turning thirty.”

“And… this worries you?”

Ash shrugged. He slipped his hands under Cael’s T-shirt, loving the feel of his silky, smooth skin. How was it possible to love someone this much? “I’m grumpy, hotheaded, foulmouthed…. The list is pretty extensive.”

“So is my list. You want to know what’s on it?”

Ash nodded.

“There’s brave, handsome, loyal, smart, sexy, kind, protective….” He brushed his lips over Ash’s. “Should I go on?”

Ash let out a moan when Cael’s tongue poked out to lick Ash’s bottom lip.

“I love you, Ash, all of you. Just as you are.” He cupped Ash’s face, his incredible smile made Ash’s heart skip a beat. There was no doubt or hesitation in that smile, a smile that was just for Ash. Cael didn’t look at anyone the way he looked at Ash, and it took his breath away. Then Cael kissed him. It was sweet and languid, his tongue tangling with Ash’s, his lips so soft, and his mouth tasting of the sweet candy he’d had during the movie.

When he pulled back, and spoke, his voice was throaty and filled with heat. “How about we go inside, and we take the new showerhead for a test drive, see how sturdy it really is?”

Ash threw his head back, and laughed. “You’re fucking amazing, you know that?”

“So are you. If you forget, I’ll be here to remind you.” Cael gave him another quick, but scorching kiss before reaching over, grabbing the shopping bag, then opening Ash’s door to hop out. Ash didn’t waste any time. He set the car alarm and chased after Cael, catching up with him at the top of the stairs. Cael laughed in his arms, and Ash couldn’t help his dopey grin. How did he ever get so lucky? Whatever the reason, he was thankful, and if the new showerhead couldn’t keep up with them, then he’d happily accompany Cael for a new one, especially if it meant they got to test it out when they got home.


Copyright © 20116 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press

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#TeaserTuesday – 9/6/16 Disarming Donner

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Hello, all! This week’s #TeaserTuesday is from Disarming Donner, the 5th book in the North Pole City Tales series which is due out in Dec. Enjoy!

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“I know you disagree, Cupid, but this is a terrible idea. Having a Dockal—”

“Calder,” Cupid corrected politely. “His name is Calder.”

Donner summoned patience. How could Cupid not see? “Very well. Having Calder under the same roof as Jack Frost is a terrible idea.”

Cupid blinked up at him innocently. “Jack was the one who offered his home for my training.”

“Yes.” Donner lowered his voice. “So that he could keep a close eye on Calder.”

“Excuse me, but I can hear you,” Calder stated, his smooth voice a deep rumble. “Turning away from me doesn’t stop me from still being in the room.”

Donner spun on his heels and glowered at the ridiculously tall elf. Honestly. What elf needed to be so blasted tall? Or wide. Or… square jawed. “Then stop listening to a conversation that doesn’t concern you.”

Calder arched an eyebrow at him. “You’re speaking about me, so it concerns me. Greatly. This whole encounter concerns me greatly.”

Donner bristled. “Just what are you implying?”

“You’re a perplexing elf.”

“And you’re… you’re very… tall. And irritating.” Donner wanted to smack the amusement right off the infuriating elf’s face. His eyes were also very unsettling. As if staring into them for too long might cost Donner his immortal soul.

Calder nodded slowly. “I see.”

“No, I don’t think you do.” Donner marched up to Calder, then jabbed a finger against his chest. Plum pudding, that hurt! He discreetly pulled his hand behind his back to shake it off. Was the elf made of granite? “Mayor Kringle might have thought it a jolly good idea for you to train Cupid, but you shouldn’t be here. And I don’t mean here in Jack’s palace—though you clearly shouldn’t be here either—but in North Pole City. No good can come of it.”

Instead of getting angry, Calder leaned forward, his smile wicked. “It would seem, my little dear, that you could use some bad in your pristine and perfect life.”

Donner’s jaw dropped. He sputtered madly. “How dare—what did you call me?” He turned to Cupid. “Did you hear what he called me?”

Cupid bit down on his bottom lip and nodded. Was that amusement in his eyes? The traitor! Donner spun back to Calder, unaware the elf had moved closer. They were practically nose to nose. Donner retreated swiftly, tripping over his own feet and letting out a squeak as he fell. A strong arm caught him midfall, and Donner stared up at Calder.

“Everything all right in here?” Rudy asked as he walked into the room, Jack at his side.

Donner gasped. Trust the Prince of Frost to catch him in a compromising position with a Dockalfar. Not that he would ever do anything remotely compromising with this beast. Of course Jack and Rudy didn’t know that. Oh, the gossip would be terrible!

“Take your hands off me, you cad!” Donner swung his book, letting out a yelp when the arm around him disappeared, and he hit the carpet with a thud.

“Donner!” Cupid ran over to help him up. “Are you all right?”

“No thanks to him,” Donner seethed.

Calder shrugged. “You asked me to release you.”

“Have you no manners at all?” Donner scrambled to his feet and quickly straightened his clothes before running a hand through his hair. He glared at the smug Dockalfar. “Perhaps treating others in such a manner is acceptable in whatever dark cave you crawled out of, but out here, where elves are civilized, we do not go about manhandling others and dropping them on their backsides.”

“Oh?” A wicked smile spread across Calder’s face. “I’m intrigued. What do you do with their backsides?”

Donner’s jaw went slack. “You… you….” He waved his book at Calder. “You, sir, are reprehensible!”

“Better reprehensible than a prude,” Calder replied pleasantly.

“All right, that’s enough,” Jack reproached them. “What’s going on in here?”

Cupid stepped in front of Calder, as if his tiny elf frame was any match for Jack Frost. His trust in his brother was admirable, if not sadly misplaced. The elf was deplorable.

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Office Space – 9/2/16

Hello all! Welcome to this week’s Office Space! If you missed the intro post to the new blog post series, you can read all about it here.

Plannin-Pretty---CCochet

This week we have my many planners, and there’s two more on pre-order. I don’t actually use these all at once. Though I am currently on a three planner system. I know that sounds a little crazy to some folks, but it’s working great for me so far. One’s my personal life planner, one’s my author planner, and one’s my brain-dump planner. The only way I have a chance of remembering things is to write it down, and I have so much going on at once that I need somewhere to dump it all in order to make sense of it and organize it.

I have an Erin Condren planner for dumping everything, since it’s nice and roomy. From there it gets filtered out into my Simple Stories ‘Carpe Diem’ personal life planner and author planner. My Erin Condren planner is jam packed with notes, to-do lists, goals, reminders, appointments, everything and anything that pops up throughout the days, weeks, and months. It’s a little scary looking. My other two planners are neater and prettier. It seems like a lot to keep up with, but it’s really not. Once you’re used to it, it’s easy. Getting to decorate my planner pages is also a nice little distraction when I need it.  My personal planner also serves as a mini scrapbook as I put pictures in there as well.

What do you use to keep track of your life? Do you go old school with a planner or agenda, or do you use tech? 

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Get Hell & High Water for $1.99 at Amazon!

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Hello, all! Thinking of starting the THIRDS series? Hell & High Water (THIRDS, Book 1) is on sale at Amazon through the month of September for just $1.99! Pick up your copy today and join in on the shenanigans.

Amazon: http://bit.ly/CCHHW

Synopsis

Action. Comedy. Romance. And that one weird guy.

When homicide detective Dexter J. Daley’s testimony helps send his partner away for murder, the consequences—and the media frenzy—aren’t far behind. He soon finds himself sans boyfriend, sans friends, and, after an unpleasant encounter in a parking garage after the trial, he’s lucky he doesn’t find himself sans teeth. Dex fears he’ll get transferred from the Human Police Force’s Sixth Precinct, or worse, get dismissed. Instead, his adoptive father—a sergeant at the Therian-Human Intelligence Recon Defense Squadron otherwise known as the THIRDS—pulls a few strings, and Dex gets recruited as a Defense Agent.

Dex is determined to get his life back on track and eager to get started in his new job. But his first meeting with Team Leader Sloane Brodie, who also happens to be his new jaguar Therian partner, turns disastrous. When the team is called to investigate the murders of three HumaniTherian activists, it soon becomes clear to Dex that getting his partner and the rest of the tightknit team to accept him will be a lot harder than catching the killer—and every bit as dangerous.

Excerpt-

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Praise

Playlist

SeriesOrder

Hell & High Water (THIRDS, Book 1)
Blood & Thunder (THIRDS Book 2)
Rack & Ruin (THIRDS, Book 3)
Rise & Fall (THIRDS, Book 4)
Against the Grain (THIRDS, Book 5)
Catch a Tiger by the Tail (THIRDS, Book 6)
Smoke & Mirrors (THIRDS, Book 7)

Press-Kit

Check out the THIRDS on Pinterest.

Visit THIRDS HQ for more info, reader extras, and more!

 

 

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THIRDS Thursday – 9/1/16

THIRDS Thursdays

Prompt: There have been several prompts for the ball pit incident mentioned in Smoke & Mirrors, so here it is. Enjoy!


“Could you repeat that?”

Dex blinked at Sloane, not sure he’d heard correctly. He couldn’t possibly be that lucky. Maybe his partner was getting him back for one of the many many pranks he’d pulled since joining the THIRDS. Don’t get excited. It could be a mistake.

Sloane handed Dex his helmet. “I said, we’re heading to Brooklyn. A couple of drunk idiots decided to shift in public and wreak havoc at a kid’s birthday party.”

“Yeah, I heard that part.” Dex finished strapping himself into his vest. He could barely contain his grin. “I need you to repeat the other part. The part about where they’re wreaking havoc.” He took his helmet from Sloane. Come on. Say it.

Sloane let out a sigh. “Chuck E. Cheese.”

“Yes!” Dex let out a “whoop” and did a little dance. Best news he’d heard all day.

Ash shook his head in shame at him. “Of course you’re excited. Why am I not surprised?”

“How can you not be excited?”

“I’m overwhelmed by the sheer number of ways I can respond to that ridiculous question, but I’m going to go with the fact that I’m not a man-child like you.”

Dex flipped Ash off, ignoring his chuckle. He followed Sloane out of the armory where the rest of their team was waiting by the BearCat. Hobbs was already in his Therian form, his eyes shut in contentment as Calvin scratched him behind the ear. Dex looked from Hobbs to Sloane and back. Did his partner realize what he was about to do? Should he say something? Sloane had to know. As the team climbed up into the back of the BearCat, Dex caught Sloane’s sleeve, speaking quietly.

“You’re going to send Hobbs in?”

Sloane looked puzzled. “Yeah. Why?”

“Dude, that place is filled with climbing, bouncing things.”

Sloane nodded. “I know. We don’t know how hostile these guys are, so I’m not sending your brother in there on his own with two leopard Therians. Also, climbing, bouncing things and your brother. Think about that for a moment.”

“You have a point.”

“I need to make sure this doesn’t get out of control. My other option is Ash.”

Ash loose after two Therians in a Chuck E. Cheese. Dex shuddered at the thought. “Point taken.”

Sloane smiled and gave him a pat on the shoulder. “Relax. Hobbs will be fine. He has plenty of self-control.”

Dex followed his partner into the truck, and as soon as everyone was secured in their seats, Tony got them moving.  They had no idea what to expect. The place had been evacuated, and Theta Destructive was on their way to clear the area and keep traffic out. When they arrived, they received a call that Theta Destructive was held up thanks to a traffic accident.

Tony cursed under his breath before addressing the team. “All right. Get in there, get it done, and get out. Beta Ambush has been dispatched, but we can’t risk these asshats getting out into the street before backup arrives, so move quickly.”

They all confirmed their understanding before hurrying out of the truck. Tony was right. With all the foot traffic, and street traffic, it would be chaos if two drunk feral Therians made a run for it. Quickly Destructive Delta got into formation behind Sloane, tranq rifles at the ready as they headed toward the entrance. Hobbs padded beside Sloane, waiting for the signal.

Sloane signaled for them to stop at the door, and they waited. Gingerly, he opened one of the glass doors and motioned for Hobbs to enter. As soon as their teammate was in, the rest of them followed Sloane inside. It was quiet. No sign of the two perps anywhere.

Hobbs’s sniffed the air. When he flattened his ears, and let out a low hiss, they all readied themselves. Dex looked around him, trying to catch movement from within the colorful tubes or bouncy play areas. Sloane gave Hobbs the signal, and their Felid teammate let out a roar that shook the rafters. The two Therians leaped out of their hiding spots and the chase began. Hobbs took off after them, and the two leopard Therians split up. Destructive Delta gave chase, following one of the leopard Therians as he ducked in, out, over, and under the play area equipment, a feat much harder to do when carrying tactical equipment.

“Split up,” Sloane ordered, taking off in one direction, while Dex went off in another, Calvin close behind. They rounded a corner and found a giant ball pit at the far end near the door they’d come in from.

“I thought they got rid of those,” Calvin said, as they slowly approached.

“Most of them did. The rest are on the way out. Man, I used to love those things.”

Calvin let out a snort. “Used to? I bet you’re just itching to jump in there.”

“You know me too well,” Dex admitted with a chuckle. From the corner of his eye he caught a flurry of movement. “Oh shit.” Dex grabbed Calvin’s arm and tugged him along with him as he ran. “Fall back!” They made a run for it just as the two Therians soared through the air into the ball pit. The air-filled container exploded, releasing a giant wave of colored plastic balls, knocking Dex and Calvin on their asses.

Dex rolled, spotted one of the Therians and fired three rounds of tranq darts, two hitting the perp in the neck. Calvin took the other one down.

Dex was about to say something when Calvin scrambled to his feet, shouting.

“Ethan, no! Someone close the damned door!”

Dex turned in time to spot Ethan leaping through the open front door after dozens of colored balls spilled out into the street, the place’s manager on the floor looking like he was about to pass out. What part of “wait outside” did the guy not understand?

Dex took off after Hobbs. There was no way he was missing this. With the perps subdued, Dex was free to take advantage of this epic situation. Outside it was pandemonium. Beta Ambush had yet to arrive, and the streets were littered with rolling colored balls. He pulled out his smartphone and started recording just as Calvin barreled out of the building and took off after Hobbs.

“Ethan, stop!” Calvin sped off, and Dex followed, leaving his team to take care of the rest. He couldn’t help himself. Calvin hauled ass after Hobbs who was swatting at the colored balls, unaware of the panicking pedestrians diving out of his way.  Dex was laughing so hard his phone shook in his hands. Up ahead to his left, some dude climbed his Hummer.

Hobbs swatted a blue ball out into the street and chased after it. Calvin turned to follow only to have Hobbs swat the ball back onto the sidewalk. He was so excited, he didn’t even notice Calvin, and swept past him at such speed that Calvin spun and flailed. Dex could hear his friend’s curses from where he was. With some impressive footwork and balancing, Calvin kept himself from falling on his ass. His face was red, and Dex could barely breathe.

Dex moved his phone’s camera back to Hobbs, and cursed when he spotted the yuppie he was headed straight for. When the yuppie saw Hobbs, he sprinted forward, revealing a tiny old lady a few feet behind. Before Dex could warn the old lady, she looked over her shoulder, secured her purse under her arm, and bolted into a run that any athlete would envy. What came next Dex wouldn’t have believed if he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes. The tiny old lady plowed through yuppie guy like she was a running back for the Giants. The dude soared through the air.

“Holy shit!” Dex had to prop himself against a car, he was laughing so hard. “Oh God. I can’t breathe.” Tears ran down his face, but he kept recording as Hobbs sped by, Calvin close behind. Hobbs smacked the blue plastic ball and it hit Tony’s boot, bringing Hobbs to a screeching halt. Calvin smacked into him, falling over Hobbs and onto his back on the sidewalk. Dex made his way over. He stood over Calvin, recording him. He waved down at him with his free hand.

“Say hello.”

“Fuck.” Panting breath. “You.”

Dex laughed, and wiped at his eyes. He stopped recording, and joined Sloane by the truck as Tony shouted orders at the newly arrived members of Beta Ambush while reporters flooded out of their news trucks.

Sloane dropped his head into his hand when Dex stepped up to him, grinning. “What was it you said before we came out here? Something about control?”

Sloane groaned. He lifted his head, his bottom lip jutted out. “Sarge is going to kick my ass.”

“Brodie! Get your ass over here!”

Dex patted Sloane’s arm. “Whatever you do, make eye contact, and just agree with everything he says. I’ll be here to kiss it better.”

“Thanks,” Sloane murmured before heading off to face their sergeant.

Several hours, and lectures later, Destructive Delta was back in the armory putting away their equipment. Everyone was silent. Mostly because Calvin was so pissed he was practically radioactive. No one dared say a word.

In the locker room, Dex was getting undressed when Calvin opened his locker. Plastic colored balls poured out, rolling and bouncing across the floor. Ash was the first to laugh, and Dex couldn’t help himself. He joined in along with everyone else in the locker room. So that’s what Ash had been doing when they’d been waiting in the truck for him.

“Fuck all of you,” Calvin hissed, grabbing his toiletry bag before slamming his locker shut and marching off toward the showers.

Dex picked up one of blue plastic balls, and put it in his locker as a little memento.

Best. Workday. Ever.

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THIRDS Thursday – 8/18/16 Plus a giveaway!

DexBday

Happy Birthday, Dex!

Hello, all! Today is Dexter J. Daley’s birthday, and to celebrate I thought we should have a birthday themed flash fiction story! Plus there’s a giveaway below. Here’s to many more years of gummy bear chaos, cheesy doodle mayhem, and heartfelt shenanigans!


Prompt: Dex’s 4th or 5th Birthday? The last one with John and Gina and “Uncle Tony”? I can just imagine Dex, a Piñata, and John managing to somehow make the nonexplosive paper donkey go up in sugar fueled flames. Face planting into the cake? Something equally goof tastic and Tony trying not to pee himself watching.


Tony walked into the house, greeting some of the parents as they stood around chatting. Squealing kids ran around dressed in Ghostbuster suits, brandishing blasters shooting green Silly String. He could only imagine what John had to promise Gina in order to get her okay on that mess. Something told him John was going to be doing a whole lot of scrubbing and cleaning after the party. There was green everywhere, from the balloons and streamers, to the table filled with green cupcakes, Rice Krispies treats, a big two tier white cake that had been “slimed”, and lots of other gooey green treats.

Tony placed his birthday present on the table along with the dozens of others. He was going to look for John when Dex came barreling into him with a surprise tackle hug.

“Tony!”

“Hey, little man!” He lifted Dex up, pretending he weighed a ton. “Ooh, my back. How did you get so big? You’re just four years old aren’t you?”

Dex laughed. “I’m five, silly!”

“Five? Is that right?”

Dex nodded. “Today’s my birthday, remember?”

Tony let out a mock gasp. “Is that what all these balloons are for? It’s your birthday? Good thing I brought you a present then, huh?”

“Yay!” Dex threw his little arms around Tony’s neck and squeezed him tight. When he pulled back, his eyes were wide with excitement, and he twisted his torso so Tony could see his back. “Daddy made us proton packs just like the real Ghostbusters!”

“Wow, I thought they were real!”

Dex giggled. “No. That would be trouble.”

“You’re right. Speaking of trouble. Where’s your dad?” He put Dex on his feet, smiling when Dex pointed to the stairs. Just then Tony heard Gina’s laughter. It was joyous and infection, and Tony couldn’t help but laugh as she came down the stairs. She was laughing so hard she had tears in her eyes.

“Oh, Lord. What’s he done now?”

“I can’t….” She wheezed, doubling over and holding onto her stomach. “You…. Upstairs.”

“Mommy, mommy, can you put on some music?” Dex asked, bouncing excitedly.

Gina wiped at her eyes, and with a sniff, she managed to get a hold of herself long enough to nod, and answer Dex. “Of course, baby. Let’s go.”

Tony braced himself. Who the hell knew what his best friend had done now. He went upstairs, turned, and headed down the hall when he saw it.

“Sweet Baby Jesus.”

Only John’s head was exposed, the rest of his body swallowed by the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man costume. It was so padded, and puffy, that he’d gotten stuck in the doorway. Tony came to stand in front of him, shaking his head in disbelief. John pouted miserably.

“I’m stuck.”

Tony opened his mouth to reply, but nothing came out. He closed it, looked John over, his gaze landing on his best friend’s pathetic expression, and all at once Tony was bracing himself on the wall, unable to breathe from laughing so hard.

“Thanks, pal. You are no help at all.” John grunted and growled as he tried to free himself. The more he tried to free himself, the harder Tony laughed.

“Oh, God.” He was going to run out of oxygen. Man, he wished he’d brought his camera. What was he thinking? Gina had probably already taken several pictures. Tony lay on the hall carpet on his back, his hands on his cramped side as he did his best not to look up at John.

“You bastard. Help me!”

Tony pushed himself to his feet. He pressed his lips together, and came to a stop in front of John. Assessing the situation, he finally placed his hands to John’s chest and pushed.

“Wow. You’re really wedged in there.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

“I was the one who ate your donut yesterday.”

John gasped, his eyes going wide. “How could you? Traitor!”

“You already had two. You know the rules.”

John let out a huff. “I can’t believe you and my wife conspired against me.”

“No, we agreed that you need to eat less junk.” Tony looked him over. How the hell had John gotten so stuck? Probably from all that struggling. “I got an idea.” He walked across the hall to the far wall, turned, and readied himself.

“What are you doing?” John started to struggle again. “No. Stop. Don’t do it.”

Tony grinned. He was so going to enjoy this.

“You, donut-stealing son-of—”

The rest of John’s words turned into an “oomph” as Tony barreled into him at full speed. John popped out of the doorway, bounced across the room, and landed facedown by the bed cursing up a storm. Tony was on the floor laughing again.

“I hate you so much right now.” John narrowed his eyes at him before he tried to get up. All that did was roll him from side to side. Tony plopped himself down in front of John.

“What was that? I thought you said you loved me.”

John muttered something unintelligible under his breath.

“What?” Tony put a hand to his ear and leaned in. “I thought maybe I heard you say, “yes, Tony, I love you. I’d be lost without you. Please help me.” Is that what you said?”

Several more curses followed. “Yes, fine. I love you, Tony, even if you are a donut thief. I’d be lost without you. Please help me, and never speak a word of this to anyone at the office.”

With a wide grin, Tony got to his feet and grabbed John’s Stay Puft arm, and hauled him to his feet. The suit was so padded and puffy, he could barely move.

“Do you need help downstairs?” As if Tony didn’t already know the answer.

“Yes,” John muttered. “This is what I get for trying to make my son’s birthday memorable.”

“Aw, and it will be. I know I won’t forget it,” Tony teased.

“You know what? Just help me downstairs, smartass. Grab my head.”

Tony arched an eyebrow at him. “What now?”

John motioned behind him to the bed and the Marshmallow Man’s head.

“Oh! Right.”

John’s lips quirked up on one side. “Perv.”

Tony flipped him off before grabbing the head, and shoving it down over John’s, receiving a muffled “ow” in response. He was pretty sure John would have flipped him off if he could move his fingers. Instead, John shuffled toward the door. Realizing what his genius friend had done, Tony cut him off.

“Please tell me you didn’t try to just walk through the door straight on.” John’s silence spoke volumes. “You know, sometimes I wonder about you.” He ignored John cursing him out some more, and turned his friend sideways before helping him through. There was still some pushing required, but at least he didn’t get stuck. “Good thing Dex inherited Gina’s brains.”

John’s voice was muffled when he spoke, but Tony heard him just fine.

“Shut up, Tony.”

It took forever to get John downstairs, and as expected when they reached the kitchen, all the parents burst into laughter. Clearly Gina had told them it was John in there, along with what happened upstairs.

John managed to raise his arm, and Tony tried not to laugh. He was obviously flipping them off. They all followed John, very slowly, as he shuffled out into the backyard where the kids were. They squealed and jumped around in excitement. They were enthralled, running around John, shooting their Silly String at him. He growled and made monster noises as he shuffled around, pretending to go after them. Dex was fearless, shooting his blaster at the marshmallow monster.

“We have to protect the city!” Dex shouted, wielding his little blaster like a pro.

Gina took pictures, and the parents joined in on the fun. It was amazing. At least until one kid shouted out.

“The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man ate your dad!”

Uh-oh. Tony put a fist to his mouth to keep himself from bursting into laughter. He’d bet his next paycheck that John was furiously shaking his head inside the suit. Of course it was so padded that that he could barely walk much less show movement.

Dex’s big blue eyes widened, and his bottom lip trembled. Gina was about to go comfort him, and assure him his dad was just fine when Dex puffed up his chest. A murderous glare the likes of which Tony had never seen crossed the five-year old’s face. It was the kind of scowl that could scare the pants of the most steadfast officer.

“Dex, wait!” John held his puffed marshmallow man hands out in front of him. “I’m fine. It’s just a—”

Dex let out a war cry before launching himself at John, hitting his blaster against the puffy suit. The parents gasped, stunned as Dex sought revenge. Knowing the thing was padded to the gills, and John was safe from the blows meant Tony could sit back and laugh his ass off. The rest of the kids joined in, knocking John over. He bounced and rolled across the garden, Dex and the kids screaming and running after him.

“You ate my daddy!” Dex screamed, smacking John’s puffy head with his blaster.

“Dex, it’s me! I’m inside!”

In true John fashion, he was making it worse.

“Let him out!” Dex demanded. “Let him out, let him out, let him out!” He bounced on John, and Tony’s everything hurt from laughing.

Gina sidled up next to Tony. “We should probably do something to help.”

“Just give it a minute,” Tony said, doubling over when Dex jumped off John, and started rolling him across the lawn. When he got tired, he pulled on the marshmallow man’s head, and it popped off. John’s face was red and covered in sweat.

“Daddy!” Dex hugged him, and gave him kisses. “You’re not eaten.”

“No, buddy. I’m not eaten.”

“I love you,” Dex said, petting his hair.

“I love you too, champ. Now why don’t you go play, while Mommy and Tony help Daddy salvage what remains of his dignity?”

“Okay.” Dex jumped to his feet, and shouted loud enough for the whole block to hear. “Mommy! Tony! Daddy says he needs help. He lost his dignity!” Seeming not to know what that meant, Dex shrugged then ran off to play.

Tony let out a contented sigh. He smiled down at John when he reached him. “You throw the best parties.” His friend glared up at him.

“You’re lucky there are children present.”

Tony let out a hearty laugh as he and Gina helped John up. Together they escorted him back into the house. Apparently it was going to take both of them to get John out of this getup. As they headed upstairs, Gina gave Tony a wink.

“Don’t worry. There’s plenty of film left in the camera.”

Man, he loved these two.


Giveaway

We’re giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card to 3 lucky winners. To enter, just leave a comment on this post on Charlie’s blog (for those viewing this post on Goodreads or through other feeds).

Giveaway ends 8/25/16 at 12:oo am Eastern US time. Winners will be announced on the blog and emailed for delivery of their prize.

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