THIRDS Thursday – 7/13/17

***Contains Spoilers for Darkest Hour Before Dawn***

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Prompt: Can we have a training session with the Hobbs brothers where Rafe and Ethan find out about Seb and TIN?


Final Part (Links to previous parts at end of post) 

“I’m sorry. You’re right. I should have come to you. You’re my big brother, and nothing’s going to change that. Ever.” Seb sat with his hands between his knees, wondering where the hell the years had gone? Seemed like only yesterday that Ethan was just a kid, Seb tucking him into bed before finishing his homework while Rafe cooked them dinner so their mom could focus on their dad, and making him comfortable. Back in the day, medication for their dad’s condition had been iffy at best. Not that it was stellar now, but at least now his father had some good days where the pain wasn’t as bad.

Rafe was quiet for several seconds before finally speaking up. “I know there’s going to come a time where I’ll be more of a hindrance than a help, but while I can help, I want to.”

“Hey, look at me,” Seb demanded gently.

Rafe did, and Seb cupped the back of his brother’s neck. “You are never going to be a hindrance on me, Ethan, or anyone in our family, you understand? Do you think dad is a hindrance on mom?”

Rafe shook his head, his bottom lip wobbling as a tear rolled down his cheek. “Fuck, Seb. Look how much she’s suffered with him. I know she loves him, but God, how do you think it makes him feel? She’s spent nearly their entire marriage taking care of him. Having to stab needles into him, crying herself to sleep because he’s in so much pain, and there’s nothing she can do about it. I don’t want to do that to anyone.”

“You’re not doing anything to anyone. We’re your family, and we love you. Mom doesn’t do what she does because she has to. She does it because dad’s still the same guy she fell in love with years ago. They adore each other, and when mom said, “in sickness and in health” she took that to heart. Would you ever give up on dad?”

Rafe gave him a dirty look, and Seb held his hands up in front of him. “You see? So why would we give up on you?” Seb put his arm around his brother and hugged him close. “You’re absolutely right about me and Ethan coming to you, and I promise you we’ll try harder. You know how hardheaded the three of us are. Sometimes it takes a bit for things to get through out thick skulls.” He lightly knocked his fist against Rafe’s head, making him laugh.

“Yeah, I think I started that trend.”

They both laughed quietly. Seb worried his bottom lip between his teeth before doing what he said he’d do, and confiding in Rafe. “You know, there’s another reason why I’ve made peace with joining TIN.”

“What’s that?”

“If there’s a cure out there, or something that can help you, and dad, I’m going to find it, Rafe. I swear I won’t stop until I do.”

Rafe turned to meet his gaze. “You’re going to look for a cure?”

“With TIN’s resources, and the training Hudson and I are going to get, we’ll have access to information and specialists we didn’t even know existed. Sparks says TIN can fix my knee.”

Rafe stared at him. “They can do that?”

Seb nodded. “It pissed me off at first, that they wouldn’t help before I joined, but after Sparks explained it, I got it. Sort of. Hudson had to explain some of the medical jargon.”

“Wait, they have a procedure that will fix your knee, and they wouldn’t do it unless you joined them?” Rafe shook his head with a glower. “What the hell?”

“The technology isn’t legal yet.”

Rafe opened his mouth to reply then closed it. He cursed under his breath, and ran a hand through his hair. “Shit, Seb. Is it even safe?”

Seb winced. “It’s kind of experimental, but so far it has a high success rate. They’ve performed the procedure on several of their operatives, and it’s worked. They’ve been doing it for years. Do you think Sparks would have hired me as an operative if she wasn’t sure it was going to work? If I don’t take this chance, my knee’s just going to get worse. My point is, there’s gotta be something out there. Even Dex has sworn to Ethan he’s going to find something.”

Rafe cursed under his breath. “Daley’s in on this?”

Seb nodded. “Talk about stubborn. There’s no way we’re winning him on that. If Dex promised Ethan, he’s going to come through with something. There’s no way in hell he’s going to let Ethan down.”

Rafe let out a sigh, and for the first time in a long time, he looked… hopeful. When he spoke, his voice was shaky. “I’m kinda terrified to get my hopes up.”

“Whatever happens, we’re going to get through this together.” Seb brought Rafe in for a hug, both of them laughing when another pair of arms joined in.

“You two are such dorks,” Rafe said, pulling back to ruffle Ethan’s hair.

“Jerk,” Ethan muttered quietly, his grin wide.

Well, we must have gotten it from somewhere,” Seb teased.

Rafe gasped. “Are you calling mom a dork? I’m so telling.” He made to stand, and Seb saw him wince before he sat back down with a pained expression. Seb nudged Ethan, and Ethan disappeared inside.

“Remember when we used to sit out on the stoop at mom’s while Ethan and Calvin played hide and seek?”

Rafe let out a bark of laughter. “Ethan was not good at hiding.”

“Kinda hard to hide when you’re thirteen and almost six feet tall.”

“Remember when Cal hid in the tree, and then he got stuck?”

“I remember you two jerks just standing there laughing at me,” Calvin grumbled, taking a seat next to Ethan after Ethan plopped down beside Rafe. Everyone came out from inside and sat around Rafe, Nina sitting between Rafe’s knees and leaning back into him. She stretched up, and he kissed her. The smile that followed lit up his face. Man, his brother was a goner.

“Because birds weighed more than you did,” Rafe said, answering Calvin.

Ethan made a jumping motion with his hand, and they laughed.

“Oh, shit,” Rafe snickered. “I forgot about the squirrel.”

“Squirrel?” Hudson sat between Seb’s legs, and leaned back to look up at him, his pupils blown. “What squirrel?”

If there was anyone who loved chasing squirrels more than Ethan, it was Hudson, but then most wolf Therians seemed to go crazy over squirrels. Seb didn’t understand it himself, but Hudson was adorable when he chased something. He looked like a big gray bunny hopping around, tail wagging.

“A squirrel landed on Calvin’s head while he was stuck in the tree,” Seb explained. “Calvin screamed, let go of the branch, and luckily, we were right below him, and caught him.”

Ethan nodded. He patted Calvin’s head.

“Screw all of you. That squirrel was vicious.”

Rafe nodded. “As squirrels went, that one was particularly vicious, and fluffy tailed.”

They all teased Calvin, and while Rafe was busy teasing Ethan about his hiding skills, or lack thereof, Nina looked over at Seb, and put her hand to her heart, mouthing the words “thank you”.

Seb winked at her. They might be a mismatched family of misfits, and he included Destructive Delta in that, but Seb would do anything for them. Together, they’d get through whatever storm came their way.


Missed the beginning? Start with Part One here. Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS Published by Dreamspinner Press.

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THIRDS Thursday – 7/6/17

***Contains Spoilers for Darkest Hour Before Dawn***

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Prompt: Can we have a training session with the Hobbs brothers where Rafe and Ethan find out about Seb and TIN?


Part Three (Read Part Two here.)

“You broke him,” Calvin whispered at Seb.

Seb put his hand on Calvin’s face, and slowly pushed him away, making him laugh. Little pain the ass. Not that Calvin was wrong. He may very well have broken Rafe. Not long after his brothers and their partners arrived at his house, they’d hit the booze before they ordered dinner. Seb had been hoping Rafe would get nice and toasted, and therefore take everything Seb had just told him in stride. No such luck.

Seb had decided not to hold anything back. If he was going to bring Rafe in on this, he was going to tell him everything, from his beating the shit out of Trent, to the truth about who Wolf really was—he’d discussed with Hudson prior to Seb’s confession. It was now… five minutes, and his brother hadn’t so much as blinked. His eyes were narrowed, his elbows on the counter, and his fingers steepled in front of his lips. He could possibly be processing everything, or brainstorming the various ways in which to end Seb.

“Rafe?” Seb asked, from the other side of the counter. “You, um, gonna say anything?” Seb glanced over at Nina and subtly motioned to Rafe. She looked at him like he must be on something. Okay, clearly no one was going to jump into the fire with him.

Rafe turned in his seat, got up, and walked around the counter, jaw clenched. He stood toe to toe with Seb, and then did something unexpected. Not totally unexpected, but considering this was Rafe, unexpected.

He smacked Seb in the head.

“Ouch! What the hell, bro?” Seb rubbed the sore spot on the side of his head.

“You fuck. All this shit you went through, and you didn’t once, not once come to me for help?”

Seb opened his mouth to reply then closed it. “Wait, what?”

“I’m your big brother! You’re supposed to come to me for help.” Rafe folded his arms over his chest, his hurt expression squeezing at Seb’s heart. “I thought we’d moved passed this shit. That you two were going to trust me more.”

“We do trust you,” Seb said sincerely, grateful when Ethan joined them.

Rafe dropped his arms at his sides, his voice quiet. “Then why didn’t you call me? Either of you.”

Seb let out a heavy sigh. “Because you got your own shit to deal with, and I didn’t want to add to that.”

Ethan nodded in agreement.

“So you two just decided for me, is that it? You think I can’t handle shit anymore?”

“That’s not it at all, and you know it.”

“Do I?” Rafe shook his head at them. “The way I see it, you two are still in your little boy’s club, and I’m not a part of it.”

Seb tried to speak up, but Rafe just put a hand up to stop him. “I need some air.” He headed for the door, stopping long enough to assure Nina he was fine, and just needed a minute to be alone. Nina walked into the kitchen, her hands on her hips.

“So? How are you going to fix this?”

“I don’t know.” Seb ran a hand through his hair, grateful for Hudson’s quiet support as he wrapped his arms around Seb’s waist.”

Hudson looked up at him, his bright blue eyes filled with compassion. “He rather has a point, darling.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re still treating him different. Only now it’s because of his condition.”

That wasn’t true, was it? “I just don’t want to burden him with my shit when he’s got bigger problems to worry about.”

“Like becoming a burden on you both, and your family?” Nina asked softly.

Seb frowned at her. “What are you talking about?”

“Come on, Seb. Read between the lines. You’re trying not to worry him, and all he sees is that he’s not the strongest anymore. That you both think he’s not the strongest. There’s going to come a time when he’ll need to rely on the strength of his little brothers. How do you think that makes him feel? This is Rafe we’re talking about. You might have been the nurturer, Seb,” Nina placed her hand on his arm, her eyes glassy, “but he’s always been the provider, and the protector. The rock everyone leaned on. And now he feels that slipping away.”

Ethan put his hand on Seb’s shoulder, and Seb hated to see the sadness in his little brother’s eyes. How the hell was he supposed to fix this? Could he even fix it? How could he make Rafe understand that Seb still looked up to him? That he still thought he was the strongest of them all?

“I’m going to go talk to him,” Seb said before kissing the top of Hudson’s head. Ethan motioned toward the door, and Seb shook his head. “I just need a few minutes with him.”

Ethan nodded, and Calvin came over to take his hand. The warm smiled was instant, and Seb couldn’t help his own smiled. He couldn’t think of anyone better for Ethan than Calvin.

Seb went outside to join Rafe on the stoop. It was a quiet night. Well, city quiet. Seb sat next to Rafe, both of them looking out at nothing in particular. These kinds of heart to heart talks were new to Seb. At least where Rafe was concerned. Seb and Ethan talked all the time. They chatted about anything and everything. Seb never really had any sit-down chats with Rafe. Mostly because growing up, Rafe had always been busy taking care of their family, going to school, working his ass off. Seb swallowed hard at the memory. His brother never got the chance to be a regular teenager. Not that Seb hadn’t been in a similar situation to his brother, but after everything Rafe had done for his family, he was facing the same future as their dad, and that broke Seb’s heart.

Somehow, he had to fix this. Make things right between them. Their bond had grown since that day in the hospital, but it still wasn’t solid, and that was on Seb. Ethan followed Seb’s lead, at times even without realizing it. Seb needed to make his brother understand that they were in this together, and if there was something out there that could help Rafe and their dad, Seb was going to find it.


Part Four next week. Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS Published by Dreamspinner Press.

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THIRDS Thursday – 6/29/17

***Contains Spoilers for Darkest Hour Before Dawn***

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Prompt: Can we have a training session with the Hobbs brothers where Rafe and Ethan find out about Seb and TIN?


Part Two (Read Part One here.)

Seb charged Ethan, the surprise on both his brothers’ faces making Seb grin. He threw a right hook, and got nowhere near his little brother’s head. Ethan blocked it in a swift movement while simultaneously grabbing Seb’s arm, and kicking out, sending Seb hurdling over his shoulder, and onto the mat. Seb rolled, and quickly jumped to his feet. He didn’t know exactly what Ethan’s TIN associate training had entailed, but if it was anywhere close to what he’d seen Dex and Sloane do the night of the wedding when the Makhai had come to kidnap Hudson then Seb had no reason to hold back.

Seb came at Ethan with everything he had, his adrenaline pumping, and pulse racing. Every punch and kick was blocked or deflected. Ethan ducked, and dodged. He was quicker, lighter on his feet which could be a real challenge for tiger Therians. Over and over, Seb hit the mat. Rafe was too stunned to move. He stood there staring at them, and Seb didn’t blame him. But it was time for Rafe to see for himself what his little brother could do.

“Rafe,” Seb barked out the order, and his brother snapped to attention. He didn’t hesitate, immediately switching to agent mode. Rafe joined the attack, taking Ethan from the left, while Seb charged from the right. Ethan’s footwork was impressive, and he kept himself away from Seb and Rafe. As the smaller of the three of them, he’d always been quicker, but now Rafe and Seb struggled to keep up. Ethan anticipated their moves, giving him time to act rather than react. It was like he’d figured out their weaknesses, and was using it against them. Rafe’s strength was upper body, while Seb’s was lower, which was ironic considering those areas were where their bodies were failing them. Rafe his back, and Seb his knee.

Rafe and Seb charged at the same time, and in a move Seb had never seen before, Ethan ducked, spun, and grabbed Rafe. He used the momentum of his spin to hurl Rafe into Seb, and the two of them went tumbling and rolling across the mat. Seb lay on his back next to Rafe who lay on his stomach, both trying to catch their breaths.

“Well that… didn’t go… as… expected,” Rafe said, breathless.

Seb laughed. Holy crap. His heart swelled with pride, and he beamed up at Ethan who leaned over him with a goofy grin.

“I think this means I win,” Ethan said. He held out his hand to Seb, and helped him up. Together they helped Rafe up. Rafe narrowed his eyes at Ethan, and looked him over.

“What the hell was that? When did you turn into the fucking Terminator?”

Ethan rolled his eyes. “You’re so dating yourself right now.”

Seb snickered, and Rafe glared at him. He quickly put his hands up in surrender. “What? I wasn’t the one who called you old.”

Rafe folded his beefy arms over his chest, his eyes on Ethan. “Explain. And don’t tell me you’ve been training. That’s all I hear about you guys. Why’s Sloane training you so hard? What the hell are you preparing for?”

Ethan’s smile faded, and Seb couldn’t stand the worried look that came on his little brother’s face. He might as well get this over with.

“Hudson and I joined TIN.”

“Joined in what?” Rafe asked, frowning.

Seb rubbed at his temples. Seriously? “Not joined in, joined TIN. Therian Intelligence.”

Rafe’s jaw dropped, and Ethan narrowed his eyes at Seb. Neither of them spoke. They didn’t so much as blink. Great. He’d broken them.

“Come on, guys. Give me something,” Seb pleaded. The suspense was killing him.

Ethan held a finger up. “I’m sorry, could you repeat that? I thought I heard something crazy. Like that you and Hudson joined TIN.”

Seb rubbed the back of his neck, and cringed. “So, um, a lot of stuff kind of happened before Hudson and I got back together.” Where did he even start? It’s like he’d been sucked up into a whirlwind of crazy, and tossed around. “I’d been made the offer to become a TIN Associate, and turned them down. Then I went and fucked up royally, and the only way out was to join TIN as full operatives, but after thinking about it and everything that’s happened, that was the best call for us, the best way to keep Hudson, and you guys safe.”

“Safe form who?” Rafe asked, throwing his arms out. “What the hell is going on?” Something seemed to occur to him, and he straightened. “Wait, does Nina know about this?”

Seb shrugged. “I don’t know. Hudson was going to tell her. We agreed that there were certain people in our lives who we needed to tell, so they could be prepared for any threats that might come our way.”

Ethan shook his head, the hurt in his big green eyes squeezing at Seb’s heart. “You joined TIN?” Then that hurt turned to anger. “You joined TIN?” Ethan growled, and marched up to Seb. The punch he landed across Seb’s jaw sent Seb staggering back. Ethan hissed and shook out his hand, and Seb rubbed his jaw.

“Jesus, Ethan.” Rafe stared at Ethan before turning his attention back to Seb. “You do deserve it though.”

Seb grunted. “Thanks.” He released a heavy sigh. “I know.” He met his little brother’s gaze. “I’m sorry, Ethan, but this is the best way to keep our family safe. You know better than anyone what we’re facing out there. Moros? The Makhai? Wolf? Hudson was thrown into the middle of all that shit. What was I supposed to do? Wait around for Dex and Sloane to come to the rescue? If it hadn’t been for them, and Wolf, Hudson would be gone, and I’d be dead.”

Both brothers stared at him. Shit. He may have forgotten to mention that tiny little detail about being poisoned on his wedding day, and almost dying.

“You almost died?” Rafe sputtered. He threw his arms up, shouting at no one in particular. “What the fucking fuck is going on around here? Who the hell is Wolf? What the fuck is a Makhai?”

Seb cleared his throat. “We sort of have a lot to catch up on.”

Rafe’s eyebrows flew up near his hairline. “You think?”

“Why don’t you, Nina, Ethan, and Calvin come over for dinner tonight? I’ll tell you everything, for now, I need you to trust me.” Seb walked up to Ethan, and put his hands on his shoulders. “I need you to trust me, just like you need me to trust you and the decision you made.”

Ethan’s expression softened, and he nodded. “You’re right.”

“Wait, what decision?” Rafe asked, looking from Ethan to Seb and back.

Ethan let out a heavy sigh. “Destructive Delta became TIN Associates a few months back. We’re becoming assets for Dex and Sloane who’ll be sworn in as operatives after their wedding.”

Rafe frowned. “But TIN in Therian intelligence. Dex isn’t a Therian.”

Ethan and Seb exchanged glances.

“Um… about that,” Seb began, cringing when Rafe marched up to the two of them, and grabbed them by the ears.

“Ouch! Rafe let go,” Ethan whined.

“You two are dicks, and I should kick both your asses.”

Ethan let out a snort. “You can try.”

Seb barked out a laugh before he could stop himself. He clamped a hand over his mouth.

“When did you become such a smart ass?” Rafe shook his head. “The two of you are in so much shit. Not only are you both buying me and Nina dinner, we’re going to Seb’s for dinner tonight, and you both are going to tell me everything. And if I so much as get a whiff of either of you holding anything back, I swear to God, I’m going to tell mom the most embarrassing shit about you two.”

“Pfft, whatever,” Seb said. He was a grown as man. There was nothing that Rafe could tell his mom that could embarrass him. it was his mom.

“Right.” Rafe nodded, his lips pursed. “So you don’t care if I tell mom how when you were fifteen I walked in on you humping your teddy bear.”

Seb gasped, and Ethan doubled over with laughter.

“What the hell?” Seb gaped at Rafe, his face about to go up in flames.

“Yeah. Mom sent me to remind you about something, I opened the door to your room, saw that shit, and walked right back out.”

Ethan was crying he was laughing so hard.

“I was a hormonal teenager!”

Rafe waggled his brows. “I hope you at least offered to buy him dinner after.”

“Fuck you,” Seb growled, covering his face with his hands.

“And you,” Rafe said, prompting Seb to peek out at Ethan from between his fingers. Ethan was still howling with laughter. “Remember that time the cable bill arrived with that weird charge, and mom couldn’t figure it out?”

Ethan’s laughter stopped, and his eyes went wide.

Seb remembered that. Ethan was about fifteen or sixteen at the time? Seb arched an eyebrow at Rafe. “You said it was a documentary you ordered.” He looked over at Ethan who looked like he wanted to crawl under a rock.

“Nope,” Rafe said, grinning wide. “Ethan and Cal ordered porn.”

“We didn’t know we were ordering it,” Ethan groaned, covering his face with his hands, his voice muffled when he spoke. “It said “watch it now” not “buy this movie”.”

Seb nudged Ethan with his elbow. “So how often did you and Cal watch porn together?”

Ethan glared at him.

With a cackle, Seb headed for the doors, Ethan and Rafe flanking him.

“At least no one heard it, unlike you and Hudson in the rec room. I never knew you two were so religious,” Ethan teased before doing an imitation of Seb. “Oh, God, Lobito. Oh, God!” He moaned, and Seb shoved him away from him. Rafe laughed, and Seb flipped them both off.

Rafe got in between them, and threw his arms around their shoulders. “This is going to be a fun dinner. I can feel it.”

Seb shook his head, amused at his brother’s wicked smile. It was good to see Rafe happy again. His brother was right. He deserved to know everything. His life was soon going to be shrouded in secrets, but this here, his brothers, his family, this was his heart, and he would never lose sight of that. Never.


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

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THIRDS Thursday – 6/22/17

***Contains Spoilers for Darkest Hour Before Dawn***

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Prompt: Can we have a training session with the Hobbs brothers where Rafe and Ethan find out about Seb and TIN?


Part One

You can do this.

Why was he feeling so nervous? It was his brothers. Seb had always been able to say whatever he needed to say to his brothers. Granted, before he and Rafe reconciled, there hadn’t been much talking going on, but that changed a while ago, and the fact Ethan was talking to Rafe made a huge difference in all their lives. The thought made Seb smile. Their parents had been so happy when they found out. Ethan might not be able to talk to them, but they held onto the hope that one day that would change. For now, they were thrilled to see their boys were close again, like they’d been when they were little. It had been a difficult time for all of them, but they’d been close.

The doors to the small training bay Seb had booked for the next two hours opened, and in walked his big brother looking as somber and imposing as ever, and behind him his little brother, his big dopey smile and cheerful wave squeezing Seb’s heart. He felt a fierce sense of protection wash over him, same as it always did when Ethan was around. The only one more protective of Ethan was Rafe, and Seb couldn’t imagine how hard it had been for their big brother to keep his distance.

Seb stood from the bench near the mats, and smiled at them. “Hey. Thanks for coming.”

“What’s going on?” Rafe asked, looking around the training bay. “Why did you book a room?”

Maybe it would be best if he eased into the whole I’m-now-a-spy thing. “I thought maybe we could do some training together.” He smiled wide.

Rafe and Ethan exchanged glances before they narrowed their eyes at him. So suspicious these two.

“What? Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Since when?” Rafe asked.

“Since now.” Seb grinned wickedly. “What’s the matter? Afraid I might kick your ass?”

Rafe’s eyebrows shot up then he let out a laugh. “Seriously? You really think I’m going to fall for that?”

Ethan looked from Seb to Rafe and back. “He’s right.”

Damn it. Now what the hell was he supposed to do? He couldn’t just blurt it out.

“Because it’s obvious I’d be the one kicking both your asses,” Ethan said softly, big smile on his face.

Seb and Rafe both stared at him before Seb turned his attention to Rafe. He pointed at Ethan. “Did you hear what he just said?”

Rafe shook his head, the amusement in his eyes betraying his deep frown. “You are both so very delusional if you think either of you can kick my ass.” He pulled his uniform shirt from the waistband of his tach pants, and started to unbutton it. “Don’t go crying to your boyfriends when I wipe the floor with you.”

Seb threw his head back and laughed. “Please. By the time I’m done with you, you’re going to be glad your girlfriend’s a doctor.” He unbuttoned his own shirt, and pulled it off, laying it on the bench next his brother’s shirt, along with his thigh rig, and tactical belt. Ethan did the same.

“I could say the same about you,” Rafe said, beginning his stretches. “Don’t worry, Hudson will kiss it all better.”

They both turned to look at Ethan who blinked innocently at them. “I don’t need a doctor, or anyone to kiss my booboos. I have a boyfriend who will avenge me.”

Seb frowned at Rafe. “He’s right. Calvin would totally snipe our asses.”

Rafe nodded. “He’s kinda scary for a little guy.”

Once the three of them were down to just their tach pants, black undershirts, and bare feet, they stepped onto the mat. Seb had no idea how he was going to do this. Maybe he should have had a plan other than getting them down here with the pretense of a training session. What was he going to do? Tire them out, tell them, and then make a run for it, because if Rafe didn’t kick his ass, Ethan would.

“Okay, so how do you want this?” Rafe asked them.

Ethan smiled pleasantly. “Every handsome tiger Therian for himself. Last one standing gets dinner paid for by the losers.”

“For him, and his sweetheart,” Rafe added.

“Aw.” Seb held a hand to his chest. “Hudson will really appreciate that. Personally, I’m in the mood for a big ole steak. I hope you two brought your credit cards.” They each took their positions facing each other forming a triangle. Seb clapped his hands together and rubbed them.

Rafe rounded his shoulders, the muscles of his arms flexing. He was bigger than Seb, more muscular, stronger. He looked mean, and rough, especially with the permanent five o’clock shadow he sported. His tough exterior had softened some since he’d let his hair grow out a little from the military buzzcut he’d always sported. No doubt Nina’s influence. Anytime he saw the two together, she’d be running her fingers through his hair. His brother seemed like such a different person when she was around. Almost… vulnerable. At one point Seb could have sworn he’d seen Rafe blush, but it had been gone so quick Seb put it down to being a figment of his imagination.

“We doing this, or you wanna day dream some more?” Rafe asked, motioning for Seb to advance.

Seb looked from Rafe to Ethan. Did his brothers really think they were going to get one over on him? Like he hadn’t grown up with them? Whoever Seb went for first, the other would then come after him. The two would team up against him until someone inevitably started losing, and then the winning two would team up, take out the competition, and then face each other to leave one victor. Rafe thought he’d already won because it was how it had always been. He was the biggest, and strongest with the most training and experience. And the reason he won, was because he knew Seb wouldn’t go for Ethan. Ethan was counting on that as well, and it occurred to Seb that his sweet little brother had no idea Seb knew about his being a TIN associate, or his months of TIN training.

It was time to see how good his little brother was, and at the same time, give him the leverage he needed to reveal his own secret.


Part Two 6/29/17 © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

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THIRDS Thursday – 5/25/17

Prompt: In Darkest Hour Before Dawn we learn Darla has a new beau. Can we see Calvin and Ethan having dinner with Darla and her new man? Also, Dex gets himself invited.


PART THREE (Read Part One here. Read Part Two here.)

“You better be a figment of my imagination, Daley, or I’m going to dropkick you right here,” Calvin hissed, clearly trying his best to be quiet. Ethan could hear Darla, Sloane, and Armel talking from somewhere near the kitchen. Most likely the dining room. Ethan readied himself in case he needed to stop his boyfriend from committing murder.

Dex blinked innocently at Calvin. “Is that any way to speak to one of your mother’s dinner guests? Where’s that famous Southern hospitality?”

“Hospitality? How about I show you to a hospital instead? Admit it, you got yourself invited,” Calvin said, poking Dex in the chest. “How did you even get here before us?”

“I have a muscle car, lights, and a siren. Also, it’s me.” Dex winked at Calvin before stepping aside. “I make magic happen.”

“You make something happen all right, and it ain’t magic,” Calvin growled, stomping past Dex who just chuckled. Ethan stepped inside, and Dex patted his chest.

“Hey, big guy.” Dex grinned wide, and Ethan groaned. He put his hands together in prayer. Dex gasped in mock hurt. “I’m appalled you think I would cause trouble for my dear, sweet friend. Especially while at his mom’s house for dinner. With her new boyfriend. Did I mention Calvin’s mom has a boyfriend? Who’s here. At dinner. With all of us.”

Ethan covered his face with his hands. Oh, God. Why? Why me? He perked up. Sloane. Sloane was here. Someone sane who could help Ethan contain the crazy. He headed for the dining room when his phone buzzed. It was a text.

#Band-Aids

Ethan quickly shot off a text in reply. #Band-AidsDon’tWorkOnBulletHoles

Dex cackled as he walked past Ethan and into the dining room where Darla was hugging Calvin. She kissed Calvin’s temple. “Hi, baby. I’m so happy you and Ethan could make it.”

“Of course, Mom.”

Darla squeezed him again, before holding her arms open for Ethan. With a big smile, Ethan walked into her embrace. He wrapped his arms around her, mindful not to squeeze too hard. She was a tiny thing compared to him, even smaller than Ethan’s mom.

“Hi, honey.” She pulled back, and he leaned in to give her cheek a kiss.

“It’s good to see you, Ethan.”

Ethan turned to Armel who came to stand beside Darla. He held his hand out to Ethan who shook it. Ethan had to give Armel credit. When he’d first met Ethan, he treated Ethan just like he did everyone else, and never asked Ethan about his Selective Mutism. Ethan was sure Darla had spoken to him about it, but Ethan appreciated that Armel didn’t once look at him any different. As a bear Therian, he was huge, beefy, quiet, and looked pretty intimidating, but he had kind eyes, and when he was around Darla, he looked at her like she was the most amazing woman he’d ever known. It was sweet. Which was why Ethan really hoped Calvin would give the poor guy a chance. For Darla’s sake.

Armel turned to Calvin, his expression softening. “Hi, Cal.”

Calvin nodded. “Hi.”

This wasn’t the first dinner Calvin and Ethan were having with Darla and Armel, but things were still awkward. Ethan wished there was something he could do, but Calvin was quiet and reserved, and Armel was clearly letting Calvin set the pace.

“Well,” Darla said, clearing her throat. “Why don’t we all sit down before dinner gets cold?”

Ethan looked at Dex and wrinkled his nose. Where’s Sloane?

Dex mouthed the word bathroom and Ethan nodded.

Sloane returned just then and waved to Ethan and Calvin. “Hey, guys.” He gave Calvin an apologetic smile before tilting his head in Dex’s direction.

Calvin narrowed his eyes at Dex as he took a seat across from him at the table. Ethan sat across Sloane, and Armel pulled out the chair next to Calvin’s so Darla could sit beside her son. She thanked him, her cheeks going rosy. Armel sat next to her at the head of the table, and Calvin stiffened beside Ethan. It was the first time Armel had sat there, but then when it had just been the four of them, Armel and Darla had sat across from them. Ethan understood Calvin’s reaction. No one had sat in that chair in a very long time, and Calvin had grown up around Ethan’s family where Ethan’s dad always sat at the head of the table. Ethan looked to Dex.

You have to do something.

Calvin opened his mouth to speak when Dex jumped in.

“My Gosh, Darla, this all looks so amazing,” Dex said excitedly, his grin stretching from ear to ear. Calvin’s narrowed gaze locked on Dex.

“Thank you, sweetheart. There’s plenty more in the kitchen. I even made you a pecan pie to take home.”

Dex gasped. He held a hand to his heart. “You’re just the best.”

Armel brought Darla’s hand to his lips for a kiss. “Isn’t she?”

Darla giggled, and Ethan bit down on his bottom lip. They were adorable. Calvin elbowed Ethan, and Ethan cleared his throat.

“We should eat,” Calvin said. “Ethan and I have an early shift tomorrow.”

Ethan frowned. No, we don’t. Calvin elbowed him again, and Ethan turned to him. What? Stop elbowing me. Calvin arched an eyebrow at him. Oh! Ethan looked at Darla and nodded. Yes, we have an early shift.

“Do we?” Dex turned to Sloane. “I can’t remember. If only we had someone who… I don’t know, posted our schedules. Like, a Team Leader of some sort.” Dex put a finger to his lips. “Hm.” His eyes widened. “Oh, wait! We have a Team Leader right here. Well, I’ll be damned, it’s our Team Leader.” Dex grinned wide at Sloane. “Hey, agent Brodie. Do we have an early shift tomorrow?”

Ethan gaped at Dex. The guy had a death wish. It was the only thing that could explain what the holy hell Dex was doing.

“Um….” Sloane looked from Dex to Calvin, cringed, then turned his attention back to Dex, his expression pained. “No, we don’t have an early shift tomorrow.”

Dex beamed at Calvin, ignoring the murderous laser beam stare Calvin was pointing in his direction. “Looks like we’re good, Cal.” Dex handed Calvin one of the dishes. “Sweet potato casserole?”

“Thanks,” Calvin replied through a toothy grin, taking the dish from him.

Dex turned to a puzzled looking Armel. “Hey, coach. Mind passing the smothered pork chops? They look mouthwatering.”

Coach?

Calvin kicked at Dex under the table, and Sloane jumped with a curse.

“Honey, you okay?” Darla asked Sloane, concerned.

“Yeah, sorry. I um, bit the inside of my cheek.”

Dex chuckled, his knowing gaze on Calvin. “Don’t you just hate it when that happens?”

Oh, God. Sloane was peering at Calvin, Calvin was glaring at Dex, Dex was playing Jenga with his food judging by the amount he was stacking on his plate, Armel was staring wide-eyed at Dex, and Darla was cheerfully oblivious as she served Calvin.

“Dex loves his food,” Darla told Armel. “I had that same look on my face the first time he came over for dinner.”

“That’s a Therian-sized portion you got there, son.”

Dex winked at Armel. “Got me a Therian-sized appetite.”

Everyone filled up on Darla’s delicious food. She really was the best cook. Dex, Sloane, Darla, and Armel talked as they ate, while Calvin remained grumpy, and Ethan tried to get him to lighten up to no avail.

“The secret to Cal here, Armel,” Dex began, and Ethan braced himself, “is this. He’s like a Tootsie Roll Pop. You need to get past all the hard candy to get to the gooey center.”

Ethan almost choked on his food. He quickly swallowed, and guzzled down nearly an entire glass of water. Had Dex lost his ever-loving mind?

“Dex,” Calvin warned through his teeth.

“See. That’s the hard candy shell talking.” Dex took a big bite of biscuit, his blue eyes sparkling with mischief. “Just don’t play ZZ Top around him. He gets all weird about it.”

Calvin jumped from his chair. “Can I speak with you in private for a moment?”

“Of course. I always have time for you, buddy.” Dex patted Sloane’s shoulder, and followed Calvin out of the dining room. Ethan quickly followed, hearing Sloane tell Armel not to pay any attention to them, that they were always like that.

 Calvin marched into his old bedroom, and Dex followed, with Ethan right behind, the door closed, and Calvin rounded on Dex, but Dex was quicker.

“You’re being an asshat.”

Calvin gaped at him. “I’m being an asshat. You—”

“You need to stop being a selfish dick and think about your mom.”

“I am thinking about her.” Calvin narrowed his eyes at Dex. “How exactly does my looking out for her translate to being a dick?”

“Have you thought that maybe your mom is lonely? That maybe she wants someone to love her?”

Calvin was indignant. “Lonely? Love her? She has a whole family that loves her!”

“Come on, Cal. She’s a beautiful woman. Maybe she wants someone to hold her close, someone who’ll make her feel cherished. You’ve talked about how she’s never had any luck with guys. How they’ve all been assholes. Maybe this time, she’s found the guy for her. You’ve seen how happy she looks.” Dex took a seat on the edge of Calvin’s old bed.

“It’s not easy, you know? After what my dad put us through? Put her through?”

“I get it. I do.”

“Do you?” Calvin folded his arms over his chest. “Because from what I hear, John was the perfect dad, and the Sarge? Come on. The guy would walk through fucking fire for you and Cael. My father? He beat the shit out of me and my mom. He didn’t give a fuck about us. After he was gone, it was one asshole after another. They always started out like they were nice guys. Telling her they were different, pretending like we were all going to be this happy family, and in the end, they were just as bad as my dad. They’d get her hopes up, and then treat her like garbage.” Calvin sniffed, and wrinkled his nose. Ethan knew it was to keep his emotions at bay. He wrapped an arm around Calvin’s shoulders. “She deserves better.”

“You’re right. About everything. I’m lucky. I know that. But it’s different now. You’re not a scared little kid anymore, Cal. You’re a fucking sniper for the THIRDS. You really think some asshole is going to dare lay a finger on your mom to hurt her knowing you and your whole damn family of trained agents will be on him so fast he’ll get whiplash? It’s not just you and your mom anymore. You’ve got us, the entire Hobbs clan, Destructive Delta, and everyone who knows you. We all have your back.”  Dex walked over to Calvin, and put his hand on Calvin’s shoulder.

“I’ve been in the same room with the guy for one evening, and I can see how badly he wants this to work. Give him a chance. For your mom. I know trust doesn’t come easy for you, and our jobs doesn’t make that any easier, but you gotta try, man.”

Calvin seemed to think about it. After several heartbeats where Ethan realized he was holding his breath, Calvin let out a heavy sigh.

“You’re right. I’m being a dick. She obviously really likes Armel. I should be more supportive.”

Dex patted Calvin on the back as he led him from the room. “And if you need anything at all. You just say the word.”

“Thanks,” Calvin replied, smiling for the first time that evening. “By the way….”

“What?” Dex asked before Calvin punched him in the balls. Ethan cringed as Dex went down onto his knees cupping himself. “What the hell?” Dex wheezed.

“That’s for bringing up ZZ Top at the dinner table.”

Ethan went to help Dex up, but Dex waved a hand, his eyes shut tight. “I’m okay,” he whispered hoarsely. “The boys just ran for cover, but they’ll be back. Sweet baby Jesus.” He groaned. “I’m okay. Just, give me a minute.”

Ethan nodded. He followed Calvin into the dining room.

“Sorry about that,” Calvin said, smiling brightly. He kissed his mom’s cheek. “Thanks for dinner, mom. It’s fantastic.” He turned his attention to Armel. “Thanks for coming, Armel.”

Armel blinked in surprise then quickly recovered. His smile was huge. “My pleasure, cal.”

Sloane looked from Calvin to Ethan and back. “Where’s Dex?”

“Oh, you might want to check on him,” Calvin said, looking concerned. “He had to go to the bathroom, and then he said something about having…” Calvin motioned to his groin and whispered loudly, “a burning sensation in his nether region.”

Sloane quickly got up, and left the dining room. Ethan shook his head, and tried his best not to laugh. He almost felt sorry for Dex. Almost. Ooh! Ethan pulled out his phone, and sent off a text.

#Hydrocortisone

Ethan snickered. His phone buzzed, and he checked the text, clamping a hand over his mouth to stifle his gasp.

“You okay?” Calvin asked Ethan. Ethan nodded, and Calvin went back to talking to Darla and Armel. Dex was insane. Ethan glanced down at the text again. Well, at least no one could say family dinners were boring.

#SexytimesInYourFriendsOldBedroom


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

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THIRDS Thursday – 5/18/17

Prompt: In Darkest Hour Before Dawn we learn Darla has a new beau. Can we see Calvin and Ethan having dinner with Darla and her new man? Also, Dex gets himself invited.


PART TWO

Ethan licked the corner of his mouth before falling back onto the bed. His chest rose and fell rapidly as he tried to catch his breath. Calvin flopped over him, sprawled across his chest, his blond hair tousled, his face flushed, and his lips swollen from being kissed. He was beautiful.

“I can’t move,” Calvin groaned, his breath steadying as he absently stroked Ethan’s stomach. “You sure we have to go?” He lolled his head back so he could look up at Ethan with a pout. “Can’t we just stay home and do that some more?”

Ethan kissed Calvin’s lips. “When we get home. I promise.” Ignoring his boyfriend’s protests, he slipped out from under Calvin, and walked to Calvin’s side of the closet. He pulled out a pair of dark blue jeans, a blue and white checkered shirt, and a blue V-neck cashmere sweater that went perfect with Calvin’s eyes. Then he grabbed a brown belt, and a pair of dressy brown boots. He walked the clothes over to his boyfriend, and held them out.

“Wear this.”

Calvin took the clothes from him with a nod. Post-sexy-times-Calvin would pretty much do whatever Ethan told him. As Calvin got dressed, Ethan went to his own closet, and picked out a simple outfit. Black jeans, his new black boots, and a dark gray sweater that Ethan loved because it was super soft and cozy.

Once Calvin was dressed and they’d brushed their teeth, they grabbed their wallets, keys, and the flowers Calvin had picked up for his mom. They locked up, and on the way to Ethan’s truck, his phone buzzed. He smiled down at it.

Hey, bud. Sloane and I are going to have a Bill Murray marathon. You guys in? I know you love the B-Man.

Ethan quickly texted back. Sorry. Dinner with Darla and her new guy tonight.

Pause.

Define “her guy”.

Crap. Did Dex not know? Ethan had assumed everyone knew considering his mom told Hudson, and Hudson and Dex were the gossip kings. If Hudson knew it, Dex knew it, and vice versa. After that, then pretty much everyone else knew. Unless it was confidential or something crazy important, but…. Ethan stilled. Son of a rum puncher! He’d just told Dex that Cal’s mom had a boyfriend! Just as the thought crossed his mind, his phone rang.  

Ethan picked up.

“Holy Shatner!”

Dex’s voice was so loud, Ethan had to hold the phone away from his ear.

Calvin spun on his heels, and stared at Ethan. “Tell me that’s not who I think it is?”

Ethan quickly unlocked the truck, and pushed Calvin toward the passenger side.

“Damn it, Ethan! You tell that nosy shit that if he utters one word of this to anyone, I’m going to take that five-pound bag of gummy bears he has stashed in his desk drawer at work and shove them down his throat until he chokes!”

Ethan hoisted Calvin up, pushed him in, and closed the door, cringing at Calvin shouting from the other side.

“You can’t tell anyone,” Ethan said quietly into the phone, locking the truck doors before Calvin could get out. Calvin unlocked it, and Ethan clicked the button on his key fob, locking it again. Oh, my God, he’s going to kill me.

“Who is he?” Dex demanded. “Do we know him? How many times precisely has Calvin lost his shit? Has he threatened to snipe the guy?”

Ethan groaned. He held his phone out so Dex could hear Calvin pounding on the truck’s window, cursing them out. He returned the phone to his ear.

“You see what you did?” Ethan hissed. “Now I have to deal with the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog.”

Dex howled with laughter. Stupid Dex and his stupid nicknames. Ethan’s other line beeped. “Hold on.” He answered it, and immediately regretted it.

“The fuck did you just call me?”

Ethan’s eyes widened, and he turned, staring at Calvin glaring at him from inside the truck, his phone against his ear.

“Um….”

“Think faster,” Calvin warned.

“It was Dex!”

“Way to throw me under the bus there, buddy,” Dex grumbled.

Shit! Hadn’t he put Dex on hold?

“I know what you’re thinking,” Dex said, “and no. You did not put me on hold.”

“Dex, you dick,” Calvin growled. “What the fuck? Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog?”

“Well, yeah. Cause you’re all small and cute, but piss you off, and no one’s surviving.”

“Screw you!”

“So,” Dex said casually. “I hear your mom has a boyfriend.”

There was a click, and then the sound of Dex cackling. “Oh, my God, this is the best thing ever! You know, pissing off Ash is fun, but watching Cal lose his ever-flipping mind gives me life.”

“You’re an ass,” Ethan muttered, heading for the driver’s side. He stopped next to the door. “I’m hanging up now.”

“Wait!”

“What?” Ethan asked, sighing.

“Hashtag my boyfriend is a killer rabbit.”

Ethan hung up on Dex, and slipped his phone back into his pocket. Deep breath. He could do this. He opened the door, and jumped in.

“You can’t murder me because Sarge would be mad!”

Calvin narrowed his eyes at him, and Ethan quickly closed the door. He turned in his seat and smiled.

“And because I just gave you an awesome blowjob.”

Calvin yanked at his seatbelt, clicked it into place, the crossed his arms over his chest. “Just start the damn car, Ethan.”

Ethan quickly did as he was told, hoping Calvin would calm down on the drive over to Darla’s, which gave them just a few minutes really. Ethan fastened his seatbelt, and turned the radio on, forgetting it was set to Retro Radio since Ethan had driven Dex home from work after Dex’s car got a flat tire. Dex had been very… Dex about it. Dropping to his knees dramatically, arms raised, cursing the heavens.

ZZ Top’s Rough Boy came blasting through the truck, and Ethan’s jaw dropped. He turned his head just as Calvin’s eyes got huge. He slowly panned to look at Ethan. Before Calvin could say a word, Ethan threw a hand out and shut off the radio.

Ethan opened his mouth to say something, then thought better of it. He closed his mouth and got them moving. They drove in silence with Ethan throwing the occasional glance in Calvin’s direction. His eyes looked less murderous, so that was a good sign. Thankfully, Ethan found a parking spot across the street. Maybe their luck was changing.

Calvin took his keys form his pocket, when the door swung open.

What the fun?

Dex grinned wide. “Hello, boys. Glad you could make it to dinner. Darla made her amazing pecan pie.”

Ethan groaned. So much for his luck changing.


Final part next week 5/25/17.

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

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THIRDS Thursday – 5/11/17

Prompt: In Darkest Hour Before Dawn we learn Darla has a new beau. Can we see Calvin and Ethan having dinner with Darla and her new man? Also, Dex gets himself invited.


PART ONE

“Tell me again why I’m doing this?” Calvin grumbled for the hundredth time as he held up two shirts in front of him. He’d been at this for hours. Ethan didn’t mind. It meant he got to ogle his boyfriend in various stages of undress from several angles. This was shirt number twelve. Or was it thirteen? No, twelve. Maybe. Ethan lost count.

“Because it will make your mom happy,” Ethan replied, smiling big when Calvin turned to peer at him.

Calvin let out a sound of disgust, and tossed the two shirts onto the growing pile at the foot of the bed. He headed back to his side of the closet in search of more options. A few months ago, they decided to knock down the wall that separated their bedrooms. After some heavy remodeling, they turned their two-person bachelor pad into a home they shared as a couple. It was strange how so much had changed, yet stayed the same. His relationship with Calvin hadn’t changed as much as he’d thought, and where it had changed, it was all good changes. Sometimes he still freaked out about messing up, but Calvin was always there to reassure him, just as he’d always been. Sometimes it caught him off guard, how much he loved Calvin. He’d always loved him, but now it was a different kind of love. The kind that had Ethan getting lost in his boyfriend’s profile when they were watching TV together. Or how Ethan sought Calvin’s touch, how he itched to have his hands on Calvin whenever he was near, even if it was just the two of them at home.

Ethan loved their apartment. It was big and roomy, yet had a warm cozy feel to it. They kept Ethan’s bed instead of Calvin’s since it was Therian size and had the best mattress ever. Even with Ethan’s weight on it, it didn’t sink which meant Calvin wouldn’t end up rolling down any inclines and getting crushed under Ethan when Ethan turned in his sleep. Ooh! Ethan slyly removed his phone from his pocket and shot off a quick text to Dex about Therian mattress woes and ended it with hashtag Therian problems.

“Are you and Dex still having your little Human/Therian problems hashtag battle?”

So much for being sly.

Ethan shrugged. It was fun. Though now he knew better than to open a text from Dex during a briefing. Maddock was so not impressed, though Ethan had gotten off lucky since their sarge knew exactly who was responsible for Ethan bursting into laughter in the middle of a talk on avoiding fleas. Ooh! He had another one. Hashtag fleas.

“Are you paying attention?”

Ethan nodded. Personally, he thought Calvin looked good in everything, but Calvin wasn’t having any of it. He was too worked up, and had been steadily getting worse since Darla announced she and Armel Kearney were dating.

Armel seemed like a nice guy, and whenever Ethan saw him with Darla he was always sweet and polite. It was early days, but Calvin was taking no chances. The second Darla told him about Armel, Calvin had run the bear Therian’s name through Themis and every international database Themis was connected to. Armel came back squeaky clean. Not even a parking ticket.

After that, Calvin contacted the college where Armel had coached football before he retired. Not one bad thing was said about the guy, not from staff member or student. Calvin had followed the guy’s career way back, talking to everyone he could. Everyone said the same thing. That Armel was a great guy.

“It’s just not possible.”

Ethan studied Calvin as another two shirts were judged.

“What’s not possible?” Ethan asked.

“Armel. There has to be something.”

Ethan got up off the bed, and walked over to Calvin. He took the shirts from him and placed them on the bed before turning to take Calvin’s hand. With a warm smile, Ethan sat, spreading his knees so Calvin could stand between them. His boyfriend was being all pouty and miserable and stubborn. He was adorable.

“Why does there have to be something?” Ethan drew his partner close, ignoring Calvin’s grunt, and wrapped his arms around Calvin’s waist. “Maybe, just maybe, he might be a genuinely good guy.”

Calvin snorted. “Right.”

Maybe it was time to distract his partner for a little bit. Otherwise Calvin would be here all night trying to find something to wear, and they had to be at Darla’s for dinner in less than two hours.

Ethan traced Calvin’s spine with his fingers, loving the feel of Calvin’s soft skin and the way Calvin shivered involuntarily. Smiling, Ethan slid his other hand around Calvin’s side to his abdomen. Calvin inhaled sharply, his big blue eyes darkening.

“What are you doing?”

Ethan leaned in and brushed his lips over Calvin’s, trailing his fingers up from Calvin’s spine to the back of his neck to hold him in place.

“Distracting you,” Ethan said, his voice husky and laced with promise. “Is it working?”

Calvin opened his mouth to reply, and Ethan pounced, grabbing Calvin, turning, and throwing him onto the bed. Calvin yelped before he ended up under Ethan.

“Jesus, Ethan. What are you—”

Ethan kissed Calvin, Calvin’s smaller frame pinned beneath Ethan’s much bigger, heavier body. Calvin moaned into Ethan’s mouth, and when Ethan came up for air, he smiled at Calvin’s flushed cheeks. He loved that he did that to Calvin. Made him blush, got him all flustered.

“Where something blue. It makes your eyes really pop.”

Calvin nodded, dazed. He ran his hands up Ethan’s arms. “I’m being ridiculous, aren’t I?”

“Maybe just a teeny bit,” Ethan said, chuckling when Calvin playfully smacked his arm.

“You’re not supposed to agree with me.”

Ethan laughed and kissed Calvin once more, making sure to put as much eat into it as he could. He thrust his hips against Calvin’s before moving his mouth to Calvin’s neck and nipping at his skin.

“Oh God, Ethan. I can’t show up to dinner with a boner, so you either get up off me or finish what you started.”

Ethan gave Calvin a wicked grin. Hashtag challenge accepted.


Part Two next week 5/18/17.

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

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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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Author Columns – Deconstructing Dex and Destructive Delta Shenanigans

Charlie M & M

Hello all! Today my monthly author columns have landed on the same day, so double the fun! At Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews we have Dex and Ethan with some meme fun. Ethan loves his memes, and he can often be found texting them to Calvin and Dex. Here we have an example of a typical day at the office for these two mischief makers.

Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviewshttp://sinfullymmbookreviews.blogspot.com/2016/02/charlie-cochets-men-mischief-monthly.html

Over at Love Bytes I’m chatting about character creation and Dexter J. Daley, including personality types. Drop by and tell us about your favorite characters.

Love Bytes Reviewshttp://lovebytesreviews.com/2016/02/24/deconstructing-dex-character-creation/

 

 

 

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Ethan Hobbs character profile over at It’s About the Book!

CatchATigerBTBanner

Hello all! Today the Catch a Tiger by the Tail blog tour takes us to It’s About the Book with a snazzy character profile for our sweet tiger Therian Ethan Hobbs. Make sure you check out the rest of the tour for more fun stuff like playlists, interviews, flash fiction, character profiles and more! Plus there’s a giveaway!

http://itsaboutthebook.com/

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