THIRDS Thursday – 2/22/18

Prompt: I would like to see our DD boys and girls along with their big cats having some fun and frolics in the snow after we only got a small taste of this in Calvin and Hobbs book…and any other THIRDS colleagues would be welcome to join in the playful games.


PART ONE

“Dex, get up.”

“Mff. Grumbly sexy voice. Too early. Coffee.”

“Dex.”

“Sloane.” Dex burrowed deeper under the duvet. It was so warm, and cozy. He let out a sigh. So nice.

“Don’t make me make you get up.”

Broody bear saying something. Mmm, sleep.

The duvet vanished, and a blast of frigid air hit him with such force, he yelped, and fell off the bed. He curled up on himself, shivering. Holy crap it was even colder on the floor! Sloane leaned over him, his smile wide, and his stupidly handsome face looking all sweet and sexy.

“Good morning, sweetheart.”

Dex pouted. “Why? Why would you do me like that, boo?”

Sloane laughed softly as he reached down to help Dex to his feet. Dex gasped. “You’re warm!” He attached himself to his man like a sugar on a gummy bear. Or something. He was too cold to think.

“You didn’t forget about today, did you?”

“I don’t know. My brain’s frozen,” Dex said, wrapping himself around Sloane who managed to walk over to the chair, and snatched up the black bundle. He shoved it at Dex.

“I can’t believe Hobbs got you a onesie for Christmas.”

Dex hopped down, and swiftly zipped himself into warm, fleecy goodness. “Not just any onesie.” He pulled the masked hood with ears over his head and spoke in a low gruff voice. “I’m Batman.”

“You’re a dork,” Sloane said with a laugh as he pulled on a pair of sweatpants, and a sweatshirt.

“Why is it so cold in here? “ Dex pulled on a pair of his winter socks, and followed Sloane out of the room.

“Because someone can’t seem to make up his mind what temperature he wants the house to be at,” Sloane reminded him as they headed downstairs.

“It’s not my fault. Ever since things started changing inside me, I can’t seem to find the right temperature. One minute I’m hot, next minute I’m cold.”

“What are you, menopausing?”

“Don’t joke. I remember a few years back when Tony teased aunt Danelle about it. Not five seconds later was he apologizing profusely because she’d already gotten in the car to drive to the airport. She was gonna take a flight down here to kick his ass.”

Sloane chuckled. “I believe it.”

Dex stopped by the living room, grabbing his super warm fleece blanket, and wrapped it around himself before taking a seat at the kitchen counter. Maybe he’d warm up after some tasty java. In the meantime, he snuggled into his blanket, and ogled Sloane as he moved around the kitchen preparing them breakfast, though naturally Dex’s latte took priority, so within seconds, he had a frothy cup of magic placed in front of him.

“Mmm, so good.” Dex was almost done with his latte when Sloane put a heaping plate of scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, and buttered toast in front of him.

Sloane’s amber eyes filled with concern. “Babe, are you sure you’re okay? You’re not coming down with something are you?”

“I’m fine. It’ll pass.” Dex finished his latte, and another one promptly replaced it. “I think I’ll keep you,” Dex said, beaming up at Sloane as he walked around the counter to sit beside him. Sloane kissed him sweetly before taking a seat.

“I’m glad to hear it.”

As Dex consumed his breakfast like it was his last meal—thanks to his ever-growing Therian-hybrid metabolism—a whoosh of heat flooded through him, and he jumped off the chair.

“Dex?” Sloane was immediately out of his chair. “What’s going on?”

“Oh my God, I’m so freaking hot!” He threw off his blanket, unzipped the onesie, climbed out, and pulled off his socks before he let out a sigh of relief. “That’s better. We are definitely going out today.”

Sloane nodded, eyeing him warily as he resumed his seat. “You sure?”

“Yeah, a frolic in the snow sounds perfect right about now.” They all had the day off, and despite a what seemed to be never ending winter, their Therian friends wanted an afternoon of playing in the snow. Dex was always up for some fun in the snow, and hopefully his body would stop being a pain in the butt for one afternoon. Hudson had assured him it would pass. Apparently sometimes his Human side and his Therian side didn’t agree on things and instead of rationally discussing the matter like two adult sides of his DNA, they would throw tantrums until one went home and took their toys with them. Why did these things always happen to him?

“It’ll be okay, sweetheart.” Sloane nuzzled the side of Dex’s head, and Dex sighed, loving the feel and scent of his man. No matter what was going on inside him, Sloane always made him feel balanced. They were so in tune with each other these days, that all it took was one look and Sloane knew something was wrong. Not only that, but he kept Dex from freaking out. He was always so calm and levelheaded, soothing Dex with just a touch or gentle word. Then he’d get on the phone and call whoever he needed to call to get answers, whether it was Hudson or one of the TIN lab they had on speed dial. Every day Dex appreciated Sloane more and more. What would he ever do without him?

“Snow Ash.”

Dex blinked up at Sloane. “What?”

“Snow Ash,” Sloane said, eyes filled with mischief. “You should build one. Hobbs and I will even distract Ash for you.”

Dex’s heart filled with so much love, and his brain filled with wicked excitement. “Oh my God, this is going to be epic!” He scarfed down his food, plotted how he was going to put together his grumpy snowy feline while Sloane finished his breakfast, his eyes alight with amusement. Once Sloane was done, Dex did the dishes then darted upstairs to get ready. He went light on the layers since he was boiling at the moment, but made sure to pack warm clothes in Sloane’s PSTC kit, in case he got cold again. Despite the cold, he’d been looking forward to today almost as much as their Felid friends. Sloane looked cool as a cucumber, but Dex could feel Sloane’s excitement.

They climbed into the back of the cab so neither of them would have to worry about driving. Also his precious baby was nice and clean and he didn’t want it getting splattered with grossness. Sloane took hold of his hand, and Dex leaned in to give him a kiss.

“Are you ready for this?” Dex asked. “He always knows when you’re trying to distract him.”

“Pfft. Please. Ash is so worried about getting snow in his mane, he won’t give you a second glance.”

Dex laughed. “He’s such a precious princess.” Lion Therians loved to preen, but Ash was a total diva when it came to his mane. Granted, as lion manes went, it was impressive. “Does he use conditioner in his mane?”

Sloane barked out a laugh. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.”

“So majestic,” Dex teased.

“And he knows it.”

“Oh my God, remember when my dad ordered that rookie to spit out his gum, and he turned around the exact moment Ash was walking by, and it landed in his mane.” Dex went thoughtful. “Whatever happened to that rookie?”

Sloane’s eyes went wide. “I have no idea. I haven’t seen him since.”

They exchanged glanced before bursting into peels of laughter. Oh, this was going to be so much fun.


PART TWO next week! Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

THIRDS Thursday – 2/15/18

Prompt:Can we see some time with Seb as the team leader and how the team started to heal and trust him. Maybe the scene where Dom finally accepted Seb and their friendship started?


PART TWO

When Seb arrived at the hospital with Dom, the rest of the team was inside with Peyton. Seb stood to one side of the door as Dom hurried into the room and went to Peyton’s bedside. He went into full big brother mode, running a hand tenderly over his head. Peyton took up most of the Therian-sized bed, his bright red hair a stark contrast to the white of the pillow. His fair skin strewn with freckles looked pale, except for his cheeks which were flushed, and his big blue eyes were bloodshot. His bottom lip quivered, and Seb was reminded of how young Peyton actually he was.

As the youngest member of his team, Peyton was five years younger than Ethan, and hadn’t even turned thirty yet. It was one of the drawbacks of being a Tiger Therian. People had a habit of just seeing size. Peyton might be fierce, but that was only out in the field when he needed to be. The rest of the time, he was sweet, cheerful, always ready with a big smile. Where Dom was brutally honest, and brought down the hammer, delivering harsh truths when their fellow teammates needed it, Peyton was the gentle voice of reason. He listened to his teammates then offered quiet council. When anyone needed a hug, he was there with open arms.

“What happened?”

Dom’s voice drew Seb’s attention, and he moved his gaze to Peyton who quickly wiped away at a stray tear.

“We got into another fight, and I’d had enough. I never told you guys, but….” Peyton looked away, his face filled with shame. “He’d cheated on me.”

“What?” Zoey jumped to her feet, but Dom placed a hand on her arm, and she reluctantly settled back down on the edge of the bed.

“He was so convincing the first time,” Peyton continued. “I believed him when he said how sorry he was, that it would never happen again. I was over at his place, and we’d just um, you know. Anyway, I got up to go to the bathroom, and he must have thought I was asleep. I heard him talking on the phone to someone. He was telling them how much he missed them and all the things he was going to do to them we he saw them. I used the bathroom, got dressed, and told him I was leaving. For good. We got into a fight, and when I opened the door to the apartment, he… hurt me.”

Seb studied Peyton, the way he was refusing to look at any of his teammates in the eye, his fidgeting, the way he grabbed fistfuls of the blanket. Then Seb noticed it. He moved over to the bed, and Dom quickly stepped aside. Seb took a seat on the edge of the bed, and Peyton swallowed hard. He closed his eyes and nodded. Seb very gently, lowered the neckline of the hospital gown, and the air was sucked out of the room. There was an angry looking red strap mark around Peyton’s neck.

Angel was on his feet looking like he was about to explode. He paced the room, fire blazing in his eyes. “Are you telling me that no good hijo de puta tried to choke you?”

“I’m going to fucking rip his balls off,” Zoey snarled.

While the rest of the team was up in arms, Seb cupped Peyton’s cheek. “Hey, look at me.”

After a shaky breath, Peyton did, tears welling in his eyes. “He said it was my own fault. That I’d deceived him. How he’d given me a chance because he thought I’d be… tougher.”

Seb closed his eyes for a moment, and took a steady breath. When he opened them, he smiled warmly at Peyton. “It wasn’t your fault, you know that right?”

Peyton nodded, his frown deep. A determined look came into his bright blue eyes. “I want a restraining order against him, and I’m pressing charges.”

Seb patted his shoulder. “Good man. I’ll be with you every step of the way.”

“You will?” Peyton looked surprised.

“Of course I will. We’re a family, right? Family sticks together.”

Peyton’s bottom lip wobbled before he threw his arms around Seb, and squeezed him tight, his head on Seb’s shoulder. Seb wrapped his arms around Peyton, and held him, running a soothing hand down his back.

“It’s going to be okay,” Seb murmured softly. “Why don’t you get some rest. We’ll be outside.”

Peyton nodded, and pulled back. He smiled at Seb. “Thank you.”

Everyone loved on Peyton until Dom ushered them all out of the room so the poor guy could get some peace and quiet. As much as Peyton loved his team, Seb knew from experience the rowdy bunch could be a bit exhausting at times.

Out in the waiting room, a tall leopard Therian stood from one of the seats, his eyes going huge when he saw them.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Dom bellowed, coming around Seb. It didn’t take a genius to figure out who the man was. Seb grabbed Dom’s arm, ands turned to face his team who all had intent in their eyes.

“Everyone calm down. I’ll take care of this. Why don’t you guys go get some coffee or food or something, and I’ll join you in a minute.”

Dom searched Seb’s gaze. What he was searching for, Seb had no clue. A heartbeat later, he nodded.

“Come on,” Dom growled, storming off in the opposite direction, the rest of the team following him, albeit reluctantly.

Seb turned, his hands in his jacket pockets as the man approached him.

“Thanks, man. I owe you one.”

Seb narrowed his eyes at the cocky bastard. “Don’t thank me just yet.” He slapped a hand on the guy’s shoulder, and squeezed until he winced.

“Jesus, what the hell?”

“Walk with me.”

“Um….”

“That wasn’t a request,” Seb said, his tone brooking no argument. He led the guy out of the waiting room and into one of the hospital wings with little foot traffic before turning the guy and crowding him, his voice low and steady. “Here’s how this is going to go. You’re going to stay away from Peyton.”

“Please, I need to see him. I’m so sorry about what happened. I really care about him. I do. Things just got out of hand, and—”

“Shut up,” Seb snapped. “You have a serious problem that you’re going to go get help for, but whatever you thought you had with Peyton, is over. A restraining order is going to be filed against you, and you’ll be charged with assault.”

The guy blanched. “What?”

“You strangled him with your belt,” Seb hissed, his hand wrapping around the guy’s neck. He winced at the pain as the tips of his claws pierced his fingers, and pressed into the bastard’s neck. “You are never to go near Peyton again. Is that clear?”

“You can’t do this.” The guy was shaking with rage and fear at the same time.

“My team is my family, and as Team Leader, I’m the head of that family. I won’t let you, or anyone hurt them. I’m going to be keeping an eye on you. Don’t test me. Peyton is a gentle, sweet man who instills trust and compassion. He would never lash out at anyone in anger.” A low feral growl rose from his chest, and his fangs elongated. “Me? Not so much. This is your only warning. Now get the hell out of my face.”

Seb released the guy, and he scrambled away from Seb, dashing for the door like someone had set his ass on fire. He sniffed the air, and turned, arching an eyebrow at what appeared to be an empty doorway which wasn’t so empty. He should have caught on to the scent earlier, but had been too preoccupied.

“How long have you been there?”

Dom stepped out of the doorway, and leaned against the wall, a lopsided grin on his handsome face. “Long enough. Also….” He motioned behind him, and the rest of the team walked out.

“What’s going on?” Seb asked, crossing his arms over his chest.

Zoey walked around Dom, and came to a stand in front of Seb. “You really consider us your family?”

Seb nodded. He let out a heavy sigh, and dropped his arms to his side. “I know you guys drew the short straw on Team leaders. You went from having a vigilante who betrayed your trust, to a fuckup who only got this gig because he got credit for solving a case his old team couldn’t take credit for.”

“Hey,” Angel growled, stepping forward. “We were there, remember? Without us there to backup Destructive Delta, they wouldn’t have gotten close enough to take Hogan down, or rescue Cael. They needed us, and you could have turned them in for working off the books, but you didn’t.”

Brianna nodded. “Because Destructive Delta are also your family. You protected them. Just like what happened to Dr. Colbourn. You risked your life, and your career to protect him. That doesn’t make you a fuckup.”

“That makes you a hero in my book,” Dom said.

Everyone agreed, and Seb couldn’t believe it. “You all really believe that?”

“Yep,” Lee beamed up at him. “And just so you know, we weren’t spying on you. We came in case you needed back up.”

Seb couldn’t help his dopey smile. “Thanks. I appreciate that. How about we go get something to eat. My treat. We can bring back something for Peyton.”

They all whooped, and Lee patted Seb’s shoulder. “You’re the best, Boss.”

“Don’t call me that,” Seb grumbled.

“Sure thing, Boss,” Zoey called out over her shoulder as they all hurried for the exit.

Dom walked alongside Seb, and grinned up at him. “Welcome to the family.”

“Thanks.” For the first time in a long time, Seb felt… settled. He had a home again at the THIRDS. Maybe one day he’d have his man, too. One day….


Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

THIRDS Thursday – 2/8/18

Prompt: Can we see some time with Seb as the team leader and how the team started to heal and trust him. Maybe the scene where Dom finally accepted Seb and their friendship started?


PART ONE

Seb couldn’t believe it. After all these years, it was official. He had his own team.

And yet….

“Sebastian?”

Seb blinked, realizing he must have really been lost in thought if he hadn’t sensed Hudson approaching. He smiled wide.

“Hey.”

Hudson’s cheeks flushed, and Seb’s heart did a little flip. He was so damned beautiful.

“Hi,” Hudson replied, smiling sweetly. “I just heard the good news. Congratulations on the promotion.” His expression softened, sadness coming into his eyes. “You deserve it, after… everything.”

Seb quickly stood, and came around his desk. His instinct was to pull Hudson into his arms, but he stopped himself at the last minute. Instead he took a seat on the edge of his desk, arms crossed over his chest to keep himself from reaching out.

“Thank you.” He sighed, and dropped his gaze to his boots.

“What’s wrong?”

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited, and grateful to be given a chance like this, but I also can’t help worry about my relationship with these guys. When Sparks decided to promote me, I thought I’d get to keep the original team. Instead, she shuffled the teams around, and all of Stone’s agents ended up on Theta Destructive with me.”

“Are they being insubordinate?” Hudson asked gently, stepping closer.

Seb shook his head. “They’re very professional, so I have no complaints there, and I know they trust my judgement as their Team Leader, but….”

“They’re wary of you.”

“Yeah. Why the hell would Sparks give them another tiger Therian Team Leader after what Stone put them through?”

Hudson smiled warmly, and it sent warmth flooding through Seb like it always did. “Perhaps Sparks chose you because you’re the perfect choice.”

Seb didn’t understand. “How am I the perfect choice?”

“Everyone knows you, and your brothers. They know how loyal you are, how hard working. Everyone loves you.”

Seb couldn’t help his smile. “Everyone?”

“Well, um….” Hudson cleared his throat, the flush back in his cheeks. “Anyway, give them time. I’m certain they’ll come around.” He patted Seb’s cheek, and Seb leaned into the touch, placing his hand over Hudson’s. They stayed like that for several heartbeats, their gazes locked on each other.

“Sorry, am I interrupting?”

Hudson quickly pulled back at the sound of Dom’s voice. Seb missed Hudson’s touch so much it hurt.

“Thanks, Hudson,” Seb said again, waving back at Hudson as he left the office, and disappeared. Dom took a seat at his desk opposite Seb’s while Seb took a seat behind his own desk. He logged into his desk’s interface, the office uncomfortably silent.

“Must be tough.”

Seb glanced up at Dom. “What is?”

“Having a marked mate, and not being able to be with him.”

Seb was surprised. It was the first time Dom had brought up something not entirely related to the job. Seb thought about playing it down, or brushing it off. They weren’t friends, and Seb wasn’t one to talk about his personal life, but when he opened his mouth to dismiss Dom, he found himself telling the truth instead.

“It’s excruciating.”

Dom stared at him. He’d clearly not expected the answer.

“Breakups are shit as it is, but when it’s your mate, it feels like you’re being ripped apart from the inside out, and that’s nowhere near as what your marked mate feels.” Seb looked to the door Hudson had walked out of. “The pain he feels every day….”

“He’s being a stubborn ass if you ask me.”

Seb blinked at him. “What?”

“The Doc is a great guy, but he’s being a stubborn jackass.”

Seb opened his mouth to reply then closed. He didn’t really know what to say to that. Dom leaned forward, his gaze intense.

“What happened to you guys was messed up, but it’s done. Haven’t you both paid enough? Look, I like really like the doc, but he needs to get over himself, and come back to you.”

“I’m way too sober for this conversation,” Seb muttered. Was this really happening?

“Let’s change that, shall we?” Dom stood, and Seb looked at him dumbly before Dom motioned to the door. “Drinks at Dekatria?”

Seb looked at his watch. Although their shift was over, he’d had been putting in extra hours for months now to catch up on the workload Stone had left behind, but Dom was reaching out to him for the first time since Seb had joined the team. He’d be stupid not to take Dom up on the offer.

“Okay.” They headed for the locker room where they showered, and changed. It was likely they’d run into fellow agents at Dekatria, but Dom surprised Seb once again by heading upstairs to the roof garden, and bar instead of downstairs where their fellow agents were more likely to be. It was clear Dom didn’t want to just get drunk, he wanted to talk. Dom got them a table, and Seb went to get them drinks. We got back, Dom thanked him for the beer.

“I ordered us some burgers and fries.”

“Thanks,” Seb replied, sitting back and taking a swig of his beer. He tapped his fingers against his leg wondering what the hell to say next.

“Nervous?”

Seb laughed. “I gotta be honest, Dom. I am. Can I ask you something?”

Dom nodded before taking a sip of his beer, his hazel eyes never leaving Seb.

“Why didn’t you take over Theta? As second, you have the experience, and you guys are like family. Why have someone else come in? Especially when Sparks pulled me in for the Coalition case. I was still on probation. You could have fought it.”

Dom put his beer down, his eyes lowering to the table. He was quiet for so long, Seb was about to tell him not to worry about it.

“Actually, the Coalition case is what made me realize how different you were to Stone, and that we needed to give you a chance.”

Seb stared at him. “What?”

Dom leaned forward, his voice low as if someone else might hear. “You lied.”

Seb swallowed hard. “About what?”

“About Destructive Delta’s involvement.”

Fuck. Dom knew? Fuck. “Dom, I—”

Dom quickly held a hand up to stop him. “Yes, you lied, but you did it to protect them. To protect Dex and Sloane. Here you are, a shiny new career dangling in front of you, and you put it all on the line to protect them. Sloane was your Team Leader. The rest of those guys had been your team at one point, and were still your family, and you not only risked your career, but your life. That’s how I knew you were different.”

Seb found it difficult to talk. All this time, Dom had known, and instead of turning him in, he’d given Seb the benefit of the doubt.

“Is what I did all that different than what Stone did?”

Dom’s hazel eyes filled with anger. “Yes, it fucking is. You put your job, and your life on the line for your family. Stone went against everything we stood for. He betrayed us, his badge, and his sister’s memory. Fuck him.”

The pain in Dom’s eyes was difficult to see. The man was always so boisterous, and full of life. His smile had a way of disarming people. Yeah, he was loud, foulmouthed, and had a habit of mothering his teammates to death, but he was an amazing guy. Seb saw it the more time he spent around the guy.

“You think they’ll ever trust me? I mean, really trust me?” Seb asked, picking the label off his beer.

“I’m working on them,” Dom said, winking at him, and making him chuckle. His phone rang, and he held up a finger. “One sec. It’s Zoey.” He tapped his screen, and held the phone to his ear. “Whatever Lee did I don’t want to hear—” Dom’s smile fell away, and he jumped to his feet. “Where? I’m on my way.” He hung up, his eyes glazing over, and his skin flushed a deep red. “I’m gonna kill that son of a bitch.”

“What is it?” Seb asked.

“I gotta go. Peyton’s in the hospital.”

Seb jumped to his feet. “What? What happened?” He hurried after Dom who stormed toward the stairs.

“Peyton started seeing this guy a few weeks ago. I knew he was bad news. I could see the signs. Now that motherfucker’s put Peyton in the hospital.”

Seb felt his anger boiling over. Someone had hurt someone on his team. The fact that it was Peyton, and that the big guy reminded him of Ethan didn’t help his anger one bit. Peyton was a giant of a tiger Therian, the biggest in their unit. He was also the gentlest soul Seb had ever known next to his little brother. If someone had hurt him, it would be the last time it happened. No one was going to hurt his team while he was around.


PART TWO next week.

Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

THIRDS Thursday – 2/1/18

Hello, all! For this week’s THIRDS Thursday we bring Hell & High Water Manga news, and a wallpaper download! So the Korean Manga of Hell & High Water is complete, which means Dreamspinner has all the files and can begin the translation process. I have seen the full Manga, and OMG! I might not be able to read Korean, but in a lot of the panels, it wasn’t necessary. Seeing the guys come to life in this art form is an amazing experience, and I just adore the cover. Since I now have the high resolution image of the cover, I’m permitted to get it printed on swag and goodies. First, I created a desktop wallpaper which is of course now my desktop wallpaper because I can’t get over Dex’s pretty face and Sloane’s broody-bear face. I mean, seriously, look at it. I swear that expression captures every exasperated moment in Hell & High Water. LOL

Once thing I noticed was how certain scenes were a little different or in a different order, but I know it’s so it makes sense in the Manga format. The cool thing about it, is both you and I get to experience Hell & High Water in a whole new way, and I can’t wait to read the English version. It will be available in paperback with a color cover. I believe the images will be in black and white. I should know more closer to the time.

A few notes about the manga artwork. Ash’s expressions are epic, and yet not as epic as Sloane’s. The sexy-times? Goodness gracious great… er, never mind. Definitely for adult eyes only. Hudson is one handsome devil. Cael, Calvin, and Ethan are too adorable for words.

THIRDS Manga Desktop Wallpaper

Click on the image for full size.

Here’s a page from the manga. Can Calvin and Ethan be any stinking sweeter?

Okay, so I totally need to think of some cool swag I can get that cover artwork on. Suggestions?

THIRDS Ringtones

When I set out to write the THIRDS, I never imagined the impact this series would have on my life. I wanted to write something different, something fun that was jam-packed with action, humor, and romance. It was certainly a labor of love, and it’s been such an incredible experience, one made even more spectacular by my readers. Thanks to this series, I’ve met the most fantastic group of people. It never ceases to amaze me, and humble me, the kind of love and support readers have shown me and my books over the years.

During one of many chats with fellow authors, I picked their brains on ways I could offer my readers fun little extras to thank them for all they do. I love giving back to my readers! One particular chat with Rhys Ford brought about the idea of ringtones. Rhys had some awesome ringtones made up for her Cole McGinnis series, narrated by the fabulous Greg Tremblay, and she thought it would be a great idea for me to have some THIRDS ringtones made. (You can find Rhys Ford’s Dirty Ring(tone)s here://rhysford.com/dirty-ringtones/)

I gave the THIRDS boys life, and the very talented Mark Westfield gave them a voice. Working with Mark on the THIRDS audiobooks has been such a joy, and I’m so very grateful for everything he’s done. The THIRDS audiobooks are more than narrations, they’re performances. Like listening to a movie, little sound effects and all. For me, one of my biggest concerns at the very beginning was finding the right voice for Dex and Sloane. Not only did Mark nail them, he nailed everyone else too. I love when readers tell me that when they read a new THIRDS book, they can hear Mark’s voice in their heads narrating.

So when I decided to do the ringtones, I contacted Mark, and he was so excited. He loved the idea of giving something back to readers, and with the help of some of my fabulous THIRDS Nerds (Jo, Sandra, and Dana), Mark created a set of ringtones. Below you’ll find the links to the various files types you can download.

Thank you all so much for the incredible Journey! See what I did there? Okay, okay. Go download your ringtones.

THIRDS RINGTONES

Android and Media MP3://bit.ly/CCTHIRDSRINGTONES
Apple M4A://bit.ly/CCTHIRDSRINGTONESAPPLEM4A
Apple M4R://bit.ly/CCTHIRDSRINGTONESAPPLEM4R

Mark Westfield
Mark@WestfieldAudioArts.com

Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. Files are free for individual use, and cannot be sold, altered, or manipulated in any way.

THIRDS Thursday – 1/18/18

Prompt: Would love to see a prompt from Wolf’s POV, just to get a slight insight to how his mind works. It can be from any of the books in which he appeared (doesn’t have to be a “new” scene). Would be even better if Dex was somehow involved. It can be of him spying or just a light-hearted scene (whatever that may be for him).

*** Contains spoilers from Catch a Tiger by The Tail (Book 6), and Darkest Hour Before Dawn (Book 9) ***

***

***


FINAL PART

“Listen, there’s no way I could have stopped what happened. It was a drive-by. Besides, even if I’d been there, how was I supposed to know the guy would throw himself in front of his ex-boyfriend?”

Wolf sighed. How he abhorred excuses. “I was informed you were the best at what you did.”

“Fuck you,” Rollins spat out, leaning forward. “I am. You asked me to shadow your man, and that’s what I did. Why the fuck would he not be safe in a bar full of goddamned THIRDS agents?”

Wolf jumped to his feet. “That would be when he’s most in danger, you bloody twat!”

Rollins reeled at Wolf’s indignant outburst.

“Did it not occur to you that a gathering of THIRDS agents would draw unwanted attention from unsavory characters?” Wolf asked, his inner wolf’s hackles rising, and he found himself pacing. The growl that rose up from his chest was low, and feral. There was no settling the beast inside him now. His felt the pain of his fangs elongating, and his pupils had most likely dilated fully.

“I’m sorry! Look, it was a mistake. It won’t happen again.”

“Bloody right it won’t happen again.” Wolf swiped his gun from his holster, and shot Rollin’s in one kneecap then the other, the man’s howls echoing through the vast concrete room.

“I’m sorry! Please! I should have looked into it. I didn’t know this guy was so important to you.”

“Important?” Wolf marched over, tore the straps off Rollins, and grabbed him by the neck, lifting him off the chair, his fingers digging into the man’s flesh. “He’s everything! The remaining sliver of humanity left in the monster you see before you. If I lose my brother, I will lose what’s left of the man I once was, and if I lose that bloody wanker, I’ll never be able to look him in the eye, and then you’ve cost me the only two men in my life who matter!”

Rollins’s eyes widened as he gasped for air, his face turning red, and his voice strained. “Please.”

When Wolf spoke, it was through his teeth. “You put a shag before the safety of my dear baby brother, before my future.”

Rollins stared at him, and as the words sank in, Rollins stilled, a calmness visibly sweeping over him, and a look Wolf knew well coming into his eyes. The look of a man who accepted he was about to die.

“Not only have you failed spectacularly in your task, but you’ve made me lose my temper. I despise losing my temper, Mr. Rollins.”

“Just shoot me already.”

Wolf laughed, utterly amused. “Shoot you? Oh heavens, no. I’m not going to shoot you. Well, I mean, I did, but I know what you meant.” He released Rollins, allowing him to drop down into the chair.

Rollins swallowed hard, and smartly remained silent.

“I’m going to do so much worse. Your death is going to be long, and excruciatingly painful.”

There were times when Wolf took pleasure in utterly destroying another creature. Although his contracts sometimes required him to deal with those who sadly happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and found themselves in someone’s crosshairs, the contracts he most took pleasure in were the ones that required his skills to decimate soulless monsters. Rather hypocritical, he knew. Sending a monster to devour another monster, but even Wolf had his standards. There were times when contracts were voided for one reason or another, but if there was one thing Wolf did not accept, was failure. Especially when he placed his faith in someone he’d employed.

Rollins had failed in most spectacular fashion, which accounted for the man’s blood dripping from Wolf’s gloved hands. He’d taken his time with Rollins, making certain to keep the man alive long enough to make him thoroughly regret his life’s choices. When Wolf was done, he looked down at his Armani suit splattered with blood, and several questionable substances. He sighed heavily.

“Well that’s not going to come out, is it?”

The door opened, and the two bear Therians from earlier entered, both dressed in rubber suits from head to toe, one of them carrying several jugs of chemicals, and equipment. The other held a garment bag, and shiny new pair of black Oxfords.

“Leave those in the locker room for me, please.”

The man nodded, and headed out of the room. Wolf turned to his companion.

“You know what to do.”

A silent nod.

“Thank you.”

Wolf left the room which now resembled something out of the Shining, and walked into the locker room. He undressed, and placed all his clothing into the plastic bag his assistant held out which would immediately be incinerated. He thanked the man, then turned on the shower, the water as hot as he could take as he stood underneath it. Placing a hand to the tiled wall, he leaned heavily into it. When he opened his eyes, his gaze landed on his bruised knuckles.

“Fuck, I’m getting too old for this.” All right, so he wasn’t even into his forties yet, but this life didn’t exactly leave room for aging gracefully. One was lucky to live long enough to age at all. Refusing to reflect anymore on his life. He finished scrubbing then shut the water off, dried himself, and quickly dressed. He pulled on his scarf, coat, and hat before leaving his men to deal with the rest.

Back at the hotel, he was eager to get into bed, but first….

“I’m done here,” Wolf told Wadsworth as he sat wearily on the edge of the bed.

“I’m afraid not, Sir.”

Wolf arched an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“You have a new objective, Sir.”

Wolf sighed. No rest for the wicked. “Very well. Send it through.”

Wolf stood, and walked to the elegant desk, taking a seat behind it. He opened his laptop, pressed his finger to the pad, and once it scanned his print, the screen went black with a single slim box for his password. He logged into his secure mail service, and downloaded the new file containing the information for his new target.

An image of a very handsome man popped onto the screen, and Wolf’s eyes widened. It was rare for him to be caught by surprise. He’d seen that face just last night. Had marveled at the blue of those eyes, and the fullness of those plump lips. It appeared they’d be seeing each other again very soon. Wolf’s lips curled into a wicked grin. Things had just become interesting.

“Well, hello, Agent Dexter J. Daley.”


Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

THIRDS Thursday – 1/11/18

Prompt: Would love to see a prompt from Wolf’s POV, just to get a slight insight to how his mind works. It can be from any of the books in which he appeared (doesn’t have to be a “new” scene). Would be even better if Dex was somehow involved. It can be of him spying or just a light-hearted scene (whatever that may be for him).

*** Contains spoilers from Catch a Tiger by The Tail (Book 6), and Darkest Hour Before Dawn (Book 9) ***

***

***


PART TWO

Wolf removed a hand from his pocket, and brushed Hudson’s hair away from his brow. “Oh, Hudson. You big-hearted, sentimental fool.” He leaned in, and murmured quietly. “I’m very cross with you.” He straightened, and brushed the back of his fingers down Hudson’s cheek. “When will you get your head out of your arse? Just let that big oaf love you. It’s rather exhausting watching you two. When did your love life become so shambolic? It’s like an episode of Downton Abbey.” Wolf let out a heavy sigh, and took a seat on the settee beside the bed. He brought his ankle to rest on his opposite knee, and lay an arm on the back of the settee.

“What am I to do with you, little brother?” He shook his head, and pressed his lips together. He’d spent years away, had done a stellar job at keeping an eye on Hudson from a distance. The idea of being in the same room as his younger brother would never have so much as crossed his mind, and if it had, it would have quickly been brushed aside. “I shouldn’t be here. You can’t know I’m alive. That would be… disastrous for the both of us.” And yet Wolf sensed a shift happening. Something was coming. He had a keen instinct for these things, and his inner wolf had been restless for some time. As if it could sense a storm on the horizon.

Tapping his fingers against the rough fabric of the settee, he tilted his head, and studied his brother. Bloody hell, but his baby brother looked more like him by the day. The only difference being that Wolf was larger, wider, possessed a squarer jaw, and wore contacts instead of glasses. The trendy thick black frames suited Hudson. There was also the fact his little brother wasn’t a cold-blooded killer. In that sense, they couldn’t be more opposite.

Wolf’s mouth twisted into a sneer. “What would you think of your Alfie now?” Standing, he stepped up to Hudson’s bedside. His brother was paler than usual, the rosiness gone from his cheeks. He looked so small and fragile. “How am I supposed to leave you when it appears you need me more than ever?” He took hold of Hudson’s hand in his, his heart slamming into his chest when he felt Hudson weakly squeeze back. Bollocks. He stilled, waiting to see if Hudson stirred, but he didn’t. The disappointment was fierce, as was the reprimand he gave himself. Revealing his current state of living would only succeed in bringing them both a world of trouble. No. Wolf would continue to watch over his brother from a distance, the way he’d been doing for years. With one exception.

With a kiss to Hudson’s brow, he murmured quietly. “I will never be far from you. Not again. Anyone who lays a hand on you will answer to me.” He swallowed hard. “And do stay alive. I fear what would become of me if you departed this world and took what remained of my blackened heart with you.”

Straightening, he removed his hat from his pocket, and placed it on his head. With one last look at his little brother, he left the room, lowering his head, and turning it away slightly as Sebastian Hobbs moved away from the nurse’s station and hurried toward Hudson’s room. Poor bloke. Had it been anyone else, Wolf would have been furious his brother had made such a sacrifice, but no one loved Hudson as fiercely as the gentle-hearted tiger Therian. Now the man needed to find his bloody bollocks, and do something about Hudson’s infernal dithering.

Outside, the snow was coming down, but the ice sweeping through his veins had nothing to do with the weather. He climbed into his awaiting car, thanking the driver before the door was closed behind him.

“Whereto, Sir?”

“Yonkers.”

“Very good, Sir.”

The car drove off, and Wolf removed his phone from his pocket. Wadsworth picked up on the first ring. “Yes, Sir?”

“Bring him to me.”

“Yes, Sir.”

The drive up was slow, but it gave him plenty of time to center himself. He closed his eyes, and summoned his inner wolf. The beast stirred, and Wolf smiled. Time to play. His inner wolf howled, pacing excitedly, his fur bristled. When Wolf opened his eyes, his vision was sharp, his senses humming. It had been a while since he’d used this particular location, but then he’d done his best to stay away form New York City. It would appear Lady Liberty would be seeing far more of him. Once he’d been dropped off, Wolf entered the empty underground bunker. The lights flickered momentarily after being switched on, the cold certainly not helping the ancient wiring, but then he was hardly here for the atmosphere.

Entering one of the empty rooms, he removed his scarf, and coat, laying them neatly over one of the steel chairs. The other was bolted to the floor. His Canid hearing picked up shouting and cursing in the distance, and he smiled. Ah, his guest was arriving.

The door opened, and two huge bear Therians dragged in a struggling man with a black hood over his head.

“What the fuck is going on? Where am I?”

Wolf motioned to the chair before him, and they shoved the man down. Another nod, and they strapped the cursing man in before pulling the hood off.

“Hello, mate.”

Rollins stared up at him. “What the—who the fuck are you?”

Wolf turned his attention to the two bear Therians. “Thank you. I’ll see you in an hour.”

“I asked you a fucking question!”

Wolf took a seat across from Rollins with a pleasant smile. “I’m the man who contracted you to look after Dr. Hudson Colbourn. You know, the fellow who’s in hospital recovering from several gunshot wounds. You abandoned your post, for what? A quick shag. I hope she was worth it, because the only one about to get fucked, and not in a fun way, is you.”

Rollins’s eyes went huge. “Shit.”

FINAL PART 1/18/18


Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press

THIRDS Thursday – 1/4/18

Prompt: Would love to see a prompt from Wolf’s POV, just to get a slight insight to how his mind works. It can be from any of the books in which he appeared (doesn’t have to be a “new” scene). Would be even better if Dex was somehow involved. It can be of him spying or just a light-hearted scene (whatever that may be for him).

*** Contains spoilers from Catch a Tiger by The Tail (Book 6), and Darkest Hour Before Dawn (Book 9)***

***

***


PART ONE

“Sir?”

“Yes, Wadsworth.”

“I’m afraid I have some unpleasant news.”

Wolf sighed. “You do know how much I detest unpleasant news.” He took a sip of the expensive whiskey, and waited. Whatever it was, it was clearly important, or Wadsworth wouldn’t have called. He knew Wolf was in the middle of an assignment.

“Yes, Sir. Forgive me, Sir. Unfortunately, this news will be particularly unpleasant. Perhaps even upsetting.”

Wolf’s hand stilled, his next sip interrupted by Wadsworth’s words. “What is it?”

“You may consider a visit to the States, Sir. Mr. Rollins has failed in his objective.”

Wolf slowly sat up, his grip tightening on the whiskey glass. “How?”

“The gentleman Mr. Rollins was watching is in hospital. Multiple gunshot wounds.”

The glass in Wolf’s gloved hand shattered, and he closed his eyes, willing himself to calm before his inner wolf could cause unneeded discord. Rage simmered below the surface like a tempestuous sea, and he forced it down, allowing the tranquil darkness to spread through him. Opening his eyes, he stood, and spoke evenly. “Make the necessary arrangement, Wadsworth. You know where I am.”

“A car is on its way, Sir, and your plane is waiting for you at the airfield. Your itinerary has been sent, and your bags will be in your room at the Waldorf Astoria in New York when you arrive. Shall I send the Housekeeper in?”

Wolf stepped over the lifeless body face down on the carpet, the man’s blood seeping into the carpet fibers. “Please do.”

“And Mr. Rollins?”

“I’ll have a chat with him once I’ve had a visit with….” Wolf swallowed hard, unable to complete the sentence.

“Very well, Sir.”

Wolf brushed the tiny shards of glass off his trousers, then picked up his gun with silencer, and returned it to the holster beneath his suit jacket. Once his tie was straight, he buttoned his suit jacket, wrapped his scarf around his neck, and slipped back into his black pea coat. He fastened the buttons of his coat as he headed for the hotel room door then left the room, making his way to the lift. The doors opened, and he stepped in, flashing a warm smile, and a nod in greeting to the young woman holding a baby. Her cheeks flushed as she returned his smile, and the little boy in her arms giggled when Wolf wiggled his fingers at him.

“He’s darling,” Wolf said.

“Thank you,” she replied shyly.

They made idle chit chat on their way down, and when they reached lobby level, he held the door open for her before following. Outside, his car was waiting for him. He thanked the driver who held the backdoor open.

“Let’s make this quick,” Wolf said when the driver climbed in behind the wheel. “I have a plane to catch.”

“Yes, Sir.”

The driver didn’t disappoint, but then no one in his employment ever did. Until now. His hand clenched into a fist at his side, the leather taut over his knuckles. In twenty-three minutes they were at the airfield. Wolf quickly exited the car, thanking the driver once again, and hurried across the asphalt to the awaiting private jet. Climbing the stairs, the door closed immediately behind him, and he quickly removed his outerwear, handing it to the sweet-faced attendant who scurried off to hang up his coat and scarf. Wolf made himself comfortable in one of the supple leather seats, and as soon as the plane was in the air, the attendant returned with a silver tray and a glass of whiskey on the rocks. The young man licked at his plump bottom lip, his big gray eyes filled with heat.

“Drink, Sir?”

“Thank you, love.” He took the whiskey, and downed it in one gulp. He returned the glass to the tray. “It’s best you bring the bottle.”

Looking somewhat disappointed, the young man nodded. “Right away, Sir.”

Wolf allowed his gaze to follow the slim, elegantly dressed young man. Normally he would have spent the flight buried deep inside that sweet, pert little ass, but his thoughts were otherwise occupied by far more grave matters, leaving him with six hours to think about the man he was on his way to see, the man fighting for his life in hospital. A man he’d promised to protect no matter where in the world he was.

Wolf removed his phone and called Wadsworth. “How is he?”

“Still in surgery, Sir.”

“Notify me the moment anything changes.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Wolf hung up, and tapped his fingers on the armrest. Patience was something he prided himself on. It was a skill required in his profession, and no one was as good as he was. Restless was not a trait he possessed. Or so he believed. When he found his knee bouncing, he growled. Images of a handsome face, pitch black hair like his own, and blue eyes who’d once gazed at him with such adoration flooded his thoughts, and he closed his eyes. He was not that man anymore. That man was dead. Why was he doing this? He should never have searched him out. Never gotten involved. What the hell was happening to him? A couple of years ago he wouldn’t have so much as toyed with the idea of stepping out of the shadows.

“Absolute madness,” he huffed.

The attendant returned with his bottle of whiskey, and a glass of ice. He thanked the young man with a strained smile, and waited for him to leave before swiftly pouring himself a full glass which he downed just as quick. Perhaps he should let up on his grip before he ended up breaking another glass.

What if he doesn’t make it?

Shaking his head, Wolf refused to think on it. The flight seemed to take bloody ages, and he was all but growling when they finally landed. He snatched his coat, and scarf from the attendant, and hurried down the steps the moment the door was open. A car was waiting for him on the tarmac, and Wolf wrapped his scarf around him, and slipped into his coat. It was fucking freezing. He climbed into the car, and then they were off.

As much as he loved large cities for the mere fact they made it easy for him to hide in, he sometimes despised the bloody traffic. His knee was bouncing again by the time they reached the hospital, and Wolf took the black baseball cap left for him on the backseat, and secured it to his head before he climbed out. He closed the door behind him, shoved his gloved hands into his pockets, and strolled into the hospital. By now he’d be out of surgery. The waiting area outside the ICU was packed, and Wolf held back a smile at all the people gathered. They were here for him. As Wolf slipped by them unawares, his attention was briefly caught by a very pretty blond man with stunning blue eyes.

Shaking himself out of it, he walked through the doors of the ICU wing. He removed his hat, rolled it up, and shoved it into his pocket followed by his gloves. He smoothed his hair, and walked tall, confidently. It was amazing how no one paid him any mind, simply because he carried himself as if he belonged here. He stopped at the nurse’s station, and lucky him, she was called away from her desk. Slipping behind the desk, he tapped away at the screen until he found the room he was looking for. Walking off, he headed in that direction until he’d arrived at his destination. He took a deep breath, and slipped inside knowing the doctor would be along any moment to speak with his friends.

Wolf turned, and swallowed hard. He shoved his hands into his pockets, and stopped beside the hospital bed, his voice sounding broken when he spoke to the unconscious man.

“Hello, little brother.”

PART TWO 1/11/18


Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

THIRDS Thursday – 12/28/17

Prompt: Dex and Sloane’s first Christmas as a married couple told from the different couples POV.

*** CONTAINS RELATIONSHIP SPOILERS FROM TRIED & TRUE ***


PART FOUR

Three hours earlier….

“You’ve lost your damned mind,” Ash growled. “Get your crazy-ass up here before I kick it!”

“Hold on. I just need to angle Rudolph a little more to the right.” All Dex had to do was stretch a couple more inches and he’d have the pesky reindeer right where he wanted him. “Just don’t let go, Ash. No matter how tempted you might be.”

“Can we please not discuss you falling to your doom while you’re dangling from my hands by your fucking belt! I’m going to kill you,” Ash growled. “I knew this was a stupid idea.”

Yeah. Yeah. So what’s new.

“Better yet, I’m going to tell Sloane on you,” Ash said, sounding smug.

Dex snorted. “No you won’t.” Just one more inch. Come on you holly-horned, red-nosed bastard.

“You think,” Ash challenged.

“I know,” Dex replied, the tips of his fingers grazing Rudolph’s front hoof. “You want this for Sloane as much as I do. We both know how much he loves Christmas. Both of you do. You might not bounce off the walls like little kids—”

“Like you, you mean.”

Dex wrinkled his nose. “Whatever. Don’t knock my childlike wonder.”

“Is that what you call it? I call it—”

Anyway, what I was saying is that Christmas means a lot to the both of you because neither of you had that growing up. You didn’t even have a childhood for crying out loud. You missed out on so much. Which is why I’m going to make sure that every single year Sloane has the best Christmas ever.” There. Yes! Perfect. Santa’s sleigh and his reindeer were now at the perfect angle looking as if they were taking off from the roof of their house. “Pull me up.”

Ash tugged with his usual finesse, and Dex flailed. He twisted his body so he wouldn’t hit Rudolph, and Ash growled at him.

“Stop fucking twisting, you ass!”

Dex felt Ash’s grip loosen, and he panicked, throwing an arm out to grab Ash, catching his sweater’s sleeve. The knitted Christmas sweater gave way, the sleeve tearing completely off, floating down like a giant red snow flurry. Dex yelped as he hung over the side of the house, swinging precariously as Ash held on to his belt with one hand, and grabbed a fistful of his sweater with the other, cursing him out.

Cael jerked at Dex’s distressed cry, his head shooting up to see Dex, and Dex’s eyes widened as he watched the chaos unfold before his eyes, as if it were happening in slow motion. Cael reeled back, slamming into Rosa who had a screw driver in her hand that she was using on one of the light fixtures. The tray of mugs containing hot chocolate in Cael’s hands went flying in the air, and something fizzed and popped, sparking a large flame while Rosa jerked, her hair smoking and standing on end. The hot chocolate came cascading down all over Hudson who spun to get out of the way, and slipped on one of the mugs, the rest hit the sidewalk, the ceramic shattering into hundreds of tiny projectiles and spraying Letty who let out a slew of curses to rival Ash’s. At the same time, Seb dove to catch Hudson, his boot snagging on one of the rows of garland, and over three hundred pounds of tiger Therian barreled into Letty, and Calvin who’d run out with the fire extinguisher. He cursed as Seb landed on him, his hand involuntarily squeezing down the handle, and white smoke bursting out all over Hobbs who’d rushed to help his boyfriend.

“Shit! Pull me up!”

Ash yanked at Dex, and he went slamming into Ash. They stumbled back, and Dex landed on one of the bags of dirt for the front garden. The bag burst, spewing dirt all over Ash who slipped on the melted snow and Dex’s jaw dropped as Ash soared through the air, and landed on his back in the middle of a huge puddle of snow and water which was now mixing with the dirt.

“I’m going to fucking kill you!”

Dex scrambled to his feet, and made a run for the door, Ash his heels. He hurried downstairs, and out the front realizing his mistake.

“Um, hey, guys.”

Everyone stood slowly, their narrowed eyes on him.

“Good job, everyone.” He slowly inched back toward the door. “It um, looks amazing. Sloane’s going to love it.” His back came up against something hard, and he could all but feel Ash’s laser eyes burning into him. Dex’s watched beep. “Oh, look at the time. Sloane’s going to be on his way over in five minutes. We should wrap up, and get inside.”

Everyone marched forward, and Dex knew he had about thirty seconds to live.

“I just want to say thank you for helping me with this. It really means a lot to me, and just so you know, I really appreciate you guys.” He let out a sigh, and pouted. “I’m sorry. You know Sloane means everything to me, and all I wanted was to give him the kind of Christmas he should have had as a kid.”

His friends stopped. They exchanged glances before all looking up past him to Ash who whirled Dex around to face him. He grabbed Dex by the collar, and thrust a finger in his face, opening his mouth to no doubt tear him a new one.

Dex mumbled quietly. “I’m sorry, Ash.” He shrugged. “He just means everything to me, you know?”

Ash let out a groan, and released him. With a sigh that told Dex he was the most annoying thing in Ash’s life, Ash turned toward the door.

“Everyone get inside. Sloane’s on his way.”

Dex stood to one side, his heart full of love for his friends. His family.

“Dex?”

Dex blinked, his eyes refocusing on the beautiful face looking down at him. He gave Sloane a sheepish smile. “So that’s what happened.”

Sloane looked from Dex to their friends, and back. His expression softened, and he pulled Dex up against him to kiss his brow. Then he turned to their friends, his expression filled with so much love and pride.

“Thank you. Thank you for,” he motioned to the house, “taking all this on, just for me. It means so much. You all are the best family a guy could have.” Sloane left Dex to grab Ash in a big hug. “Thanks, Ash.”

Ash grunted, but he wrapped his arms around Sloane, squeezing, his voice rough when he spoke. “You deserve the best. Even if your husband is a menace.”

Sloane chuckled as he pulled back.

“Okay,” Ash said, clearing his throat. “Let’s all get cleaned up and get this party started.”

Dex hung back as everyone headed in, and Sloane pulled him into his embrace again. The flurries turned into a beautiful snowfall. The street was quiet, Christmas carols playing while the lights of their house twinkled. Sloane put his hand to Dex’s cheek, and Dex all but melted against him.

“Merry Christmas, baby,” Sloane said softly, his amber eyes filled with so much adoration for him.

“Merry Christmas,” Dex replied, his heart feeling as though it would burst from all the love he felt for this amazing man. “I love you.”

“I love you.” They kissed sweetly until it got too cold to stay outside any longer. When they pulled apart, Dex gave Sloane a mischievous wink. “Wait until you see what I have planned for next year.”

Sloane stared at him before he threw his head back, and laughed. He laced his fingers with Dex’s, and as they headed inside to spend Christmas surrounded by their little makeshift family, Dex couldn’t think of a time he’d been happier. He was so very lucky, and blessed. His family had grown over the years, and even though they had their differences, and they drove each other crazy, they all loved each other, and Dex wouldn’t change that for anything.

They stepped inside, and Dex stopped just inside the living room watching his friends and family laughing, joking, and chatting as they helped clean each other up. Letty and Rosa were in hysterics as Tony helped them attempt to tame Rosa’s frizzed mane. Seb stole a kiss from rosy-cheeked, somewhat tipsy Hudson as he wiped the hot chocolate off his husband’s face. Ash had a dopey grin on his face as Cael fussed over him. Hobbs and Calvin had their heads together, big boyish grins on their faces as Calvin murmured something to him, making Hobbs laugh softly, happiness twinkling in his green eyes.

“So what did you ask Santa for?” Sloane asked, kissing the top of Dex’s head.

“Nothing,” Dex said, his eyes getting a little teary as he smiled up at Sloane. “I already have everything I ever wanted.”

 

 

 


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