THIRDS Thursday Special Event Giveaway – Have a character named after you!

Hello, THIRDS Nerds! Welcome back to THIRDS Thursday! Next week we start a special three part flash fiction story, but this week, we have a super special giveaway to kick things off. In honor of Cael throwing Dex’s bachelor party, we have a fabulous giveaway. One lucky winner will have a character named after them in Dex’s bachelor party novella! Your character will interact with Dex, Destructive Delta, and their friends during a night of Daley shenanigans.

What do you have to do to enter? Just answer the following question in the comments below: What stuffed toy scared Cael to tears when he was little? Hint: It was given to him by Tony one Christmas.

Giveaway is open internationally, and ends Friday, May 12th at 9 PM (Eastern US time). Winner will be chosen at random and announced on Saturday, May 13th here on the blog. Winner will be contacted, and I will ask you which name you would like me to name the character after. 

Teaser

Sloane turned to the only two who could possibly keep this evening progressing without incident. As soon as Cael had sent out the invites to Dex’s bachelor party, Sloane had contacted Seb and Ash, and asked them to prepare.

“All right. What contingency plans have you two put in place should any Threat Level Fuchsia scenarios arise?”

Seb and Ash glanced at each other before turning their gazes back to Sloane. Their expressions didn’t bode well. Seb spoke up first.

“When you said prepare for tonight, I thought you meant make sure your boyfriend doesn’t get so drunk he strips down to his underwear and starts dancing on the bar, or try to keep him out of jail. I didn’t realize you meant put together an emergency tactical strategy.”

Sloane pinched the bridge of his nose. “Okay.” He looked up at Ash. “What about you?”

“Relax, bro. We got this.”

Sloane narrowed his eyes and leaned into Ash, sniffing him. “Have you already started drinking?”

Seb snickered, his laugh turning into a cough when Ash arched an eyebrow at him.

“No, smartass. I can handle your dorky fiancé.”

Seb didn’t even attempt not laughing. “You are so delusional, Keeler. We’re toast.”

THIRDS Thursday – 3/30/17

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

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


Part Four last week. Read it here.

FINAL PART

Ash had to admit, Dex was one tough little son of a bitch. “Do you really think he’s going to leave you, or your dad, or Sloane? Think about it.”

“But what if it’s out of his control? He’s not invincible, Ash. What if he had died at that TIN facility after his DNA changed? What if—”

“Stop,” Ash said firmly. He cupped Cael’s face, relieved when Cael visibly relaxed. “No more what-ifs, okay? Asking yourself those kinds of questions won’t do you any good. There’s only one solution to this.”

Cael blinked at him. He turned and sat back on his heels, his hands on Ash’s knees and his eyes wide. “What?”

“We ask Sparks for more training. Sloane promised me he’d bring me in if he needed me. If they were going somewhere they’d need backup. I’m not about to let him or Dex traipse around the world without backup. If they need an extraction, I’m going to be on that team. Chances are they’re going to need some pretty fierce tech support. Your brother might get trained, but we both know his tech skills are shit, especially compared to yours.”

“Do you think Sparks will let us?”

“All your brother has to do is ask. TIN’s so desperate to have your brother, they’ll give him whatever he wants, and if that means training up his assets, there’s no way they’re saying no.”

Cael worried his bottom lip with his teeth. “Dex isn’t going to like it.”

“Dex doesn’t have a choice. Don’t ask him, Cael.” Ash reached out placed his thumb to Cael’s bottom lip. “Don’t let him underestimate you. You’re talented, incredibly smart, and far more resourceful than you or your brother give you credit for. He’s always going to be your big brother, but you’re not a little kid, Cael. You don’t need to ask Dex, your dad, or anyone for permission. If this is what you want, you talk to Dex, and you tell him how this is going to go. He can either help you, or you’ll figure it out on your own.”

Cael seemed to think about it. “You really think I can do this? TIN’s like… a whole other level of tech.”

Ash smiled. “Baby, I don’t think you can do this, I know you can.”

Cael took hold of Ash’s face, and brought him in for a kiss. It started sweet, soft, and slow, Cael’s mouth slanted over Ash’s. The kiss quickly grew heated, and Ash wrapped his arms around Cael, bringing him up against him. Cael was always telling Ash how he saw him, and it was true that no one saw him or understood him the way Cael did. If only Cael could see himself the way Ash saw him. Yes, he was sweet, soft, vulnerable, and adorable, but he was also fierce, strong, and incredibly capable. Every day, little by little, Ash did his best to help Cael see that he was so much more than he gave himself credit for.

One of these days, Cael would wake up and realize he had every right to be confident in his skills, in his abilities. Underneath the timid, fidgety cheetah Therian was a confident young man who could easily become an unstoppable force.

Ash returned Cael’s searing kiss, greedily accepting everything he was offered, allowing Cael’s adoration to wash over him. Cael straddled Ash’s lap, his arms wrapped around Ash’s neck as they kissed. Ash loved everything about Cael. Loved his scent, the taste of him, the feel of his sinewy body against Ash. Like they’d been made to fit together.

Cael slipped his fingers into Ash’s hair. There was barely anything there to hold onto, but Cael managed just fine. For a small Therian, Cael could be just the right side of rough, and Ash loved it. Loved when Cael took charge. In the bedroom, Cael was plenty confident. He knew his body, and by now knew enough about Ash’s body to drive him absolutely fucking insane. Never in a million years would Ash have thought Cael would be so wild in bed, and he was never selfish. Seeing Ash ready to come apart from want was as much of a turn on to Cael as any of the toys he enjoyed so much.

With a hum, Cael pulled back. “You’re right. We can do this. I can do this.”

“And I’ll be with you every step of the way.”

Cael smiled wide. He leaned in to kiss Ash when the oven beeped. Cael pulled back, his grin wicked. “But first cake.”

Ash threw his head back and laughed.

“And don’t think I’ve forgotten about my promise,” Cael said, sucking Ash’s earlobe between his teeth before flicking it with his tongue. Fuck. Okay, He could do this. He could wait, because he knew when Cael got his hands on him it was going to be mind-blowing.

Ash got up, watching as Cael bounded into the kitchen, rambling on about what kind of cool tech TIN probably had. Ash leaned against the counter as Cael pulled on oven mitts, so excited with everything, from the idea of learning secret ninja skills, to life in general. Ash just watched him and listened, offering the occasional reply. He was just… captivated, and so stupidly, ridiculously, hopelessly in love. He should have been scared shitless, wondering when the hell it had happened, or why it was happening so fast, and then Cael turned, met his gaze, and smiled that big beautiful smile of his. Okay, he got it. He got the whole love thing, and not the whole brotherly love thing. He got that ages ago. Sloane was his brother, and there was little Ash wouldn’t do for him, but Cael? This was something else altogether.

“This is going to be so great, Ash.”

Ash left the counter, bringing Cael into his arms for a kiss. “Yeah, it is.” They were going to be great. Every doubt Ash had about them, and where they were going vanished. He knew just what to do. There was a lot to do. People he had to talk to. And of course Cael.

But first cake.


THIRDS Thursdays goes on hiatus the month of a new release, so we’ll be back on May 4th!


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

THIRDS Thursday – 3/23/17

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

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


Part Three last week. Read it here.

PART FOUR

Downstairs in the kitchen, Ash placed Cael on his feet, letting him get dressed while he pulled out ingredients and placing them on the counter. Cake flour, sugar, large eggs at room temperature, cream of tartar, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Unless he was on a double shift, he pretty much baked daily, so his pantry was well stocked. Baking helped relax him. He could get lost in the process, in the art of precision, the creation of something perfect. Few people knew he baked, and those who did know didn’t get it. They only saw what didn’t fit. The cakes, cookies, frosting. It didn’t fit with his nature.

Then there was the part where he rarely indulged in any pastries or sweet baked goods while he was out. People assumed he just didn’t like it, and although he didn’t necessarily have a sweet tooth, his not eating pastries or muffins or cakes had nothing to do with his sweet tooth or lack thereof, but because most often than not he was left disappointed. He could taste when too much sugar was added, or not enough. When someone substituted an ingredient, or altered a recipe. Unless a place had really great feedback, he didn’t bother.

As soon as all the ingredients were out, he readied the equipment and utensils. Once everything was ready, he turned to Cael with a smile. “Why don’t you show me how you do it, then we can see how it differs from how I make mine.”

“Okay.”

Cael got to work. He turned on the oven and set it to the right temperature before sifting the cake flour and sugar. He combined the extracts and set them aside before beating the eggs whites, cream of tartar, and salt until he’d formed peaks. When it came time to add some of the sugar, Ash pinpointed where Cael was going wrong, but he let Cael continue, watching him. He beat the mixture in the bowl, added the flour mixture, and extracts, mixed it, and poured it into the angel food cake pan then set it in to bake. He turned to Ash and frowned.

“It’s not going to come out fluffy. I don’t know what I do wrong.”

Ash pulled him into his arms and kissed the top of his head. “It’s okay, sweetheart. Now, do you want to watch me do mine?”

Cael nodded.

Ash started the same as Cael, but when it came time to add the sugar, he stopped and turned to Cael. This part was going to be tough for his swift little cheetah Therian. Cael was never still for very long. “There’s a couple of very important steps. Angel food cake is supposed to be very light and fluffy. To get that lightness, you need to be gentle, and take these steps slowly. You need to add the sugar slowly.” He demonstrated, and when it was time to add the cake flour, he paused again. “I like to fold in the flour mixture by hand, but you don’t need to do that. But you’ll still need to beat on low, and then add your flour and extracts in slowly, like this. Don’t forget to fold in the sides and the bottom.” Once that was done, he spooned the mixture into his angel food cake pan.

“Another important step is to try and remove air pockets.” He took a knife and moved it through the batter before placing the pan in the oven then setting the second timer.

“I was going too fast,” Cael said with a sigh.

“Yes.” They had some time before the cakes were done, so Ash put away the ingredients and started cleaning up with Cael’s help. “So what do you want to have with your cake? Strawberries and cream, or—”

“Aren’t you terrified?”

Ash wiped his hands on one of the kitchen towels before turning to Cael, the fear and heartache in his eyes had Ash crossing the distance between them, and drawing Cael into his arms. He kissed the top of Cael’s head.

“A lot more scares me than people realize, sweetheart. You’ll have to be more specific.”

“That something will happen to Sloane and you won’t be there.”

Ash closed his eyes, his cheek resting against the top of Cael’s head. When he spoke, his voice came out rough. “Of course I am.” He had every faith in Sloane and his abilities. There was no doubt in Ash’s mind that when Sloane was done with his training, and got his stupid color tie, that he’d be a force to be reckoned with, but that didn’t mean that Sloane didn’t need his family.

Taking Cael’s hand, Ash led him into the living room and the cozy loveseat Cael loved so much. It was usually where Ash found Cael when he got home from work, usually when they were on different shifts. Cael would be curled up in fluffy blankets and a hoard of pillows. Sometimes he’d be engrossed in one of his comic book movies, or binge watching a TV show. Sometimes he’d be fast asleep, his reader on his chest. Then there were times when he was feeling anxious and just needed space. The loveseat had become his safe place. Not that Cael didn’t feel safe in their apartment, but the chair was his. Ash never intruded, joining Cael only when he was asked.

“Sit with me?”

“Sure.” Thankfully the loveseat was extra wide as were the other two couches. He sat with his back against the armrest, his legs too long to stretch out, so he brought his knee up, his other leg on the floor until Cael had climbed up and snuggled against him, then he brought his leg up. Cael let out a heart-wrenching sigh.

“I know Dex is going to be given all this kickass training,” Cael said, his eyes closed. “He’s going to be some super-secret ninja agent, God help us all, but he’s still going to be Dex, which I’m really glad, but at the same time, it’s Dex. What of Sloane’s not around to keep him grounded? What if he ignores protocol? It won’t be like at the THIRDS where Sloane or my dad yell at him and put him on equipment duty for a month. He could be killed, or left trapped behind enemy lines, and TIN will go on as if he never existed.” Cael buried his face against Ash’s chest, and Ash held him close, rubbing circles around his back.

“Cael, look at me.”

Cael reluctantly did.

“This is all new. Hell, they haven’t even been officially sworn in, and I know you’re worried. I’m worried too, but we have to believe in them. Look at everything your brother’s been through. I have never met anyone more stubborn, more resilient than your brother.” Ash put his hand to Cael’s cheek. “Sweetheart, your brother died and came back to life. If there is anyone, anyone who is going to fight to stay alive with every fiber of his being, it’s going to be your brother.”


Final part next week on 3/30/17!


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

THIRDS Thursday – 3/16/17

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

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


Part Two last week. Read it here.

PART THREE

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

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

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

“Hi.”

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

“You’re so adorable.”

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

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

“Thank you, Ash.”

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

“For being you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cael tilted his head. “Me?”

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

“Like what?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Anything?”

Cael nodded. “Anything.”

Holy shit.

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

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

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

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

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



Part four next week on 3/23/17!


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

THIRDS Thursday – 3/9/17

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

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


Part One last week. Read it here.

PART TWO

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

“Really? Are you sure?”

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

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

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

“I’m not pouting,” Cael grumbled.

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

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

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

“Everything okay?”

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

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

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

Sloane cursed under his breath.

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

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

“Could what?”

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

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

“I promise.”

“Don’t fuck with me on this, Sloane.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hi.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Part three next week on 3/16/17!


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

THIRDS Thursday – 3/2/17

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I am.”

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

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

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

“We should eat before everything gets cold.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Part two next week on 3/9/17!


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

THIRDS Thursday – 1/26/19

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


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

“Cael!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Cael, are you all right?”

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

“Dex said you were sick.”

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

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

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

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

Ash removed a small device from his pocket.

“Please tell me you didn’t bring a—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah, one of those.”

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

“But—”

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

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

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

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

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

“Where’s Dex?”

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

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

“You’ve got a fever. Go home.”

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

Dex walked in looking smug, and Cael gasped.

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

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

Cael would have strangled him if he had the strength.

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

“I can make soup,” Dex chimed in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

They both narrowed their gazes at him.

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

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

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

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

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

“Wow. You two are total suckers.”

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

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

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

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

Calvin chuckled. “Man, you are evil.”

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

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

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

“You’re kinda scary sometimes.”

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

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

Cael coughed. “Ready.”

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

“Better?”

Cael nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

“How are you feeling?”

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

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

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

Cael nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You okay to sit up?”

Speaking of astounding….

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

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

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


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


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

THIRDS Thursday – 1/19/17

Prompt: Seb and Hudson’s first date.


Part 3

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

Seb groaned. “You’re kidding me.”

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

“Oh?” Seb chuckled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sebastian?”

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

“Yeah?”

“Goodness, you’re tall.”

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

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

Seb studied him. “What do you mean?”

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

It took Seb a moment. “Oh! Sorry, I—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

THIRDS Thursday – 1/12/17

Prompt: Seb and Hudson’s first date.


Part Two

Read Part One here. Final part next week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How bad is your allergy?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seb blinked. “I am?”

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

“You would?”

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

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

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

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


Final part next week! Read Part One here.

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

THIRDS Thursday – 12/22/16

A THIRDS Christmas.


Where could he be?

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

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

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

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

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

“Hey,” Sloane said quietly.

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

“Can I sit with you?”

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

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

“Nothing.”

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

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

“I couldn’t find you.”

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

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

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

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

“The snow makes me think of Arlo.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where are you going?”

“I need to talk to Dr. Shultzon.”

The man’s frown grew deeper.

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

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

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

“Dr. Shultzon?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Perhaps, but Sloane, I don’t—”

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

“Yes, that’s true.”

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

“Sloane—”

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

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

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

“It’s been like, five minutes.”

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

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

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

“Just wondering what time it is.”

“Cause you got somewhere to be?”

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

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

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

“Why?”

“Just do it!”

“Geez, okay. You’re so bossy.”

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

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

“Because!”

“That’s not an answer.”

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

“Where are we going?”

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

“What are you doing?”

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

“You’re such a dork.”

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

“Fine. Whatever.”

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

“Merry Christmas, Ash!”

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

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

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

“Do you not like it?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re like Bambi.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Ash?”

“Yeah?” Ash stopped to catch his breath.

“Let’s spend every Christmas together.”

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

“Best friends forever.”

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

“Ash,” Sloane whined.

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

Sloane smiled wide. “Merry Christmas, Ash.”


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