Rack & ruin, p.5
Rack & Ruin,
Part #3 of THIRDS series by Charlie Cochet
Sloane. “Stop tickling me, you dick.” Sloane stopped, and Dex rewarded him with a lengthy kiss. “I think I broke my unlucky streak.”
“Always the charmer, aren’t you.” Sloane lay on top of him. The feeling of his weight on Dex felt so damn good. He could stay like this all night. His hands slid around Sloane’s torso, down the curve of his spine and the dip before his gorgeous ass.
“I try,” Dex murmured, arching up against Sloane.
Sloane smiled knowingly before kissing Dex. “And succeed. Unfortunately.” His lips returned to Dex’s, hot and soft, his scent driving Dex crazy. God he wanted Sloane so badly. He pulled off Sloane’s T-shirt so he could enjoy the feel of Sloane’s firm muscles, the softness of his skin. It struck him how perfect this moment was. How happy he was right here, right now. Something in his chest tightened, and he suddenly found it difficult to breathe. He pulled away and gave Sloane the most charismatic smile he could muster.
“Does that mean you’re charmed enough to make me some chocolate chip cookies to go with my glass of milk?”
Sloane stared at him. “It’s nearly midnight.”
“They’re premade. Just cut ’em up and pop ’em in the oven.”
“You stocked my fridge up with your unhealthy snacks again, didn’t you?”
Dex smiled widely so his dimples would appear. “I did. So… cookies?”
“And if I say no?” Sloane arched an eyebrow, and Dex let out a heavy sigh.
“I guess I could go to sleep without the taste of warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven made by the gentle hands of my tender lover—”
Sloane burst into laughter. “Okay. Jesus. Fine. I’ll make you cookies.” He kissed Dex one more time before rolling off the bed. Dex gave him a sappy grin before getting up on his feet, walking to the edge of the bed and motioning for Sloane to turn around.
“Seriously?” Sloane planted his hands on his hips. Despite his stance, the light in his eyes told Dex he was amused.
“The floor is made of hot coals.”
Sloane backed up to the bed, and Dex jumped on him, his arms coming to wrap around Sloane’s neck and his legs around Sloane’s torso. “I see. So you get to save your feet while I burn for you?”
“That’s the idea.”
“You skipped puberty didn’t you?”
Dex let out a wistful sigh. “It wasn’t for me.”
Sloane laughed as he carried Dex out of the room. “You’re hopeless.”
“I’m also nonrefundable.”
“Surely there’s a return policy.”
“Forget it. You’re way past the thirty-day refund period. You’re stuck with me now. And before you ask, I’m also nontransferable and nonexchangeable. If you donate me to charity there’s no tax write-off because technically that would be considered Human trafficking.”
“Wow. You’ve got your bases covered.”
“You bet. Should have paid more attention to the Dexter J. Daley boyfriend agreement.”
Sloane dropped him onto the counter and stepped between his legs to pull him close. “I don’t recall this boyfriend agreement.”
“You might have been sleeping at the time, but sleep during the reading of the DJDBA is covered in the fine print. As long as you have a pulse, you’re considered present and accounted for.”
“Duly noted.” Sloane slipped his hands under the too-big T-shirt when something seemed to occur to him. “What’s the J stand for in your middle name? It’s not stated in your file.”
Dang it. He should have known it would come up sooner or later. Dex pretended to be giving the question considerable thought, and Sloane decided to get to work on those cookies. He went to his fridge and groaned when he opened it. From his perch on the counter Dex could see all his tasty, unhealthy snacks he had snuck into Sloane’s fridge. There were rolls of cookie dough, a bottle of chocolate syrup, candy bars, pizza, white bread, and a score of other foodstuffs that were full calorie, full fat, high in sugar, and screaming with carbs.
“I feel faint,” Sloane muttered, grabbing one of the tubes of chocolate chip cookie dough. “I think the only way I can feel remotely better about this is if you tell me your middle name.”
“Why?” Sloane removed a baking sheet from one of the cabinets and prepped it before opening the tube of cookie dough.
Dex shrugged, his eyes on his dangling feet. “Because it’s corny.”
“Come on. I won’t laugh.”
“Fine. It’s my great-great-great-grandfather’s name. He was a Pinkerton back in the late 1800s. The men in my family have always been lawmen dating to way back when.”
“And his name was…?” Sloane put the tube on the counter and turned to him with a smile. “Come on. It can’t be that bad.”
“This is me we’re talking about.”
“True. Still. You know I won’t laugh.”
Might as well get it over with. “Justice Daley.”
Sloane blinked. “Your middle name is Justice?”
“That is—” Dex narrowed his eyes at him and waited. With a laugh, Sloane gathered him up in his arms. “The cutest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“Yeah, well, the kids in school didn’t think it was so cute. That’s why I started using ‘J’ instead. It kind of stuck.” Dex wrapped his arms around Sloane’s neck and leaned in for a sweet kiss. His lips pulled into a dimple-forming smile. “If you tell Ash, I will kick your ass.”
“Now why would I do that when I could coerce you into more pleasant things to ensure my silence?” Sloane wriggled his eyebrows, and Dex couldn’t keep himself from laughing.
Sloane let out a hum as he kissed Dex, his hands finding their way under Dex’s shirt again. Dex pulled back and grinned at him. He didn’t even have to say anything.
“If I put the cookies in the oven can we make out until they’re done?”
“Absolutely,” Dex promised. He sat enjoying the view of the sexy Therian prowling about the kitchen in only his tight black boxer briefs. It was astonishing how even in his Human form, Sloane moved like a powerful Felid. As Sloane bent over to pop the cookies in the oven, Dex jumped off the counter unable to resist doing some pouncing of his own.
WHAT WERE they going to do to him now?
Sloane was strapped to the chair. His ankles, wrists, waist, and head restrained. It always hurt. He’d wanted to hide when they came to his room, but he didn’t want to look like a wimp in front of Ash. Ash never looked scared when the nurses came for him. Now Sloane wished he had hidden. Not that they wouldn’t have found him. There were only the two beds in their room. It wasn’t that he wasn’t grateful. Dr. Shultzon was nice, and he brought them toys and ice cream, let them paint their room however they wanted. Sometimes when Sloane was playing with Ash, he would forget where they were, what they were. Until it was time for the tests.
This time he’d been stripped down to his underwear. The sticky little white pads were fixed to his skin all over his body, wires coming out of their centers. The pads were cold and sometimes sent little shocks through him. The wires led to different machines and monitors. One machine monitored his heartbeat, one his brain, and the others—He didn’t know what they did. They looked like the machines in those Sci-Fi movies Dr. Shultzon rented for them from the video store. If only Ash were here. Sloane might not feel so scared, then.
“All right, Sloane. Like I instructed. Ready?”
“Okay. You may begin.”
Sloane closed his eyes and called upon the wild animal inside him. The Felid woke from its slumber and answered Sloane’s call. The transformation started, and Sloane gritted his teeth against the pain. The moment the first bone slipped out of place, Sloane pushed it back. His Felid side cried out, confused about why he was being shoved back when Sloane had called for him. The machines around them beeped wildly, and Sloane cried out, his body telling him h
“It hurts! Please, stop. Please,” Sloane begged. The pulses hurt. They curdled his blood and angered his Felid half. Sloane hissed, his fangs starting to elongate. He fought desperately, pushing the Felid back.
“It’s okay, Sloane. You’re a very brave boy. You can do this.”
“I can’t,” Sloane cried, tears streaming down his cheeks. “It hurts so bad.” Whatever they were doing to him, it made his other half very angry. It wanted to come out and hurt them. Sloane arched up violently, his whole body convulsing as the Felid tore through him. His vision sharpened, and his claws started to pierce the tips of his fingers. Sloane couldn’t stop crying.
“I know it hurts. Just a little longer.”
“I can’t hold him back!”
“You can. Your Human side is the dominant species, Sloane. You tell him what to do, not the other way around.”
They didn’t understand. Sloane shook his head, his body slammed down against the chair as if by some unknown force. “It’s not like that,” Sloane blubbered, his nose running and sweat dripping down his face. Sloane didn’t know what he was, but he did know he wasn’t Human. Dr. Shultzon had told him he was a Therian when he’d first brought Sloane here from the hospital where they’d locked him up for being a freak.
Shultzon put his hand to Sloane’s head, tenderly stroking his hair. “It’s all right. Tell him you’re okay. It’s over.”
Sloane did. He tried to soothe the beast inside him. Told him it was okay. The worst was over, even if only for today. The Felid protested but slinked back into the shadows. Sloane clenched his jaw, his eyes shut tight against the sting and pain of his claws and fangs retracting. A few heartbeats later, the Felid slumbered once again. Shultzon wiped Sloane’s nose with a tissue, then ran a damp cloth tenderly over Sloane’s face before he undid the straps restraining him. Sloane’s bottom lip trembled, and big, fat tears rolled down his flushed cheeks.
“I know what you’re thinking.” Shultzon put a hand under his chin and tilted his face up so he could look into Sloane’s eyes. “You’re not a monster. Just a regular thirteen-year-old boy like any other. Maybe a little different, but that’s not a bad thing.”
Sloane nodded even if he didn’t agree. Maybe he wasn’t a monster, but he was a freak and a killer. He’d killed his mom. His dad hurt him and then killed himself. They’d thrown him away. Locked him up and told him he was… an abomination. Sometimes he felt so alone, he wished….
“Sloane, that’s enough!”
The harsh tone startled Sloane, and a sudden sharp pain drew his gaze down to his wrist where he’d dug his nails. Eyes wide, he shook his head frantically. “I didn’t mean to!” He didn’t want to go back into observation. What if they tied him to the bed again? “I swear!”
“Hush. It’s okay.” Shultzon sat next to him and drew him into his arms, rocking him gently like his mother used to do when there was a bad thunderstorm and the lightning scared him. “I know you didn’t mean to. But you have to be more careful, or I won’t have a choice.”
Sloane nodded. “I promise.” He didn’t want to hurt anymore. Everything always hurt. His head, his body, his heart. A shuddered breath escaped him, and his voice sounded so small when he spoke. “I want to go back to my room.”
Shultzon led him down the bright white halls and into the elevator where they soon stepped out into another white hall. Every floor looked the same, always white and far too bright. The door to his room opened, and Ash stepped out. As if he’d known Sloane was near. Without waiting for the doctor’s okay, Sloane took off down the hall and threw himself into Ash’s arms. Despite being the same age, Ash was bigger, and when his strong arms squeezed Sloane, the tears started once again. He hated crying so much, but he couldn’t seem to stop.
“It’s okay,” Ash said gruffly, leading Sloane inside and shutting the door behind him. He walked Sloane over to his bed and sat down with him, holding him while he cried. When Sloane’s eyes and head hurt from crying so much, his nose stuffed and his throat sore, he pulled back and wiped his face with his sleeve.
“I’m sorry. I’m such a wuss.”
“You’re not a wuss.”
“I am. They do the same to you, but you never cry.”
“It’s good you cry,” Ash said somberly. He turned to look at Sloane, and for the first time in two years, he looked… sad. “It means you’re not broken.”
Sloane frowned at him. “You’re not broken.”
“Yes I am. I only ever feel angry.”
“That’s not true!” Sloane took Ash’s hand in his. “You smile and laugh. If you were broken you wouldn’t do that.”
Ash seemed to think about that, then shrugged as if giving in. Sloane pushed on.
“You’re my best friend in the whole world, Ash.”
“I’m your only friend.”
Sloane laughed. “Okay, but if you weren’t my only friend, you’d still be my best friend. We’re going to always be best friends, right?”
Ash smiled broadly. “You bet.”
The door to their room opened, and two doctors stood by. “Ash. It’s time.”
“Okay.” Ash breathed in deep, puffing up his chest. It was as if he weren’t afraid of anything.
Ash walked to the door, and Sloane looked on worriedly. He crawled onto his bed, grabbed his favorite stuffed toy, and drew his knees up. Ash stopped to look over his shoulder at Sloane, a grin on his face. “If you touch my stuff I’ll kick your butt.”
“Got it.” Sloane couldn’t help his smile. Then the door closed, and he was alone again.
Ash would be back soon. He had to be. It was the only thing Sloane had to hang on to. Shutting his eyes tight, Sloane dreamed of the day they’d be free. He even dared to hope he’d have a normal life with someone who cared about him, who wasn’t afraid of him. Maybe even… love him.
Sloane rolled over and opened his eyes. It was dark, but that wasn’t a problem for him. Pale blue eyes filled with concern and affection gazed back at him.
“I’m sorry,” Sloane said, his voice rough with sleep. “Did I wake you?”
Dex reached out and swiped a thumb across Sloane’s cheek. Only then did Sloane realize it was wet. “Were you crying in your dream?” Dex asked softly.
“I cried a lot when I was back there. The first couple of years, anyway. I was such a mess.”
“You’ve been dreaming a lot about that place recently. More than usual. Is it because of what happened at the facility with Isaac, or everything else?”
Sloane pulled Dex up against him, needing to feel his warmth, grateful for the way Dex offered his quiet strength without hesitation. Dex laid his head on Sloane’s shoulder, his hand coming to rest over Sloane’s heart. With a smile, Sloane covered Dex’s hand with his and gave it a squeeze.
“Every time I go to sleep, I’m a kid again, back there strapped to that chair. I never expected to step foot in the facility again, much less see Dr. Shultzon. I think that’s what’s triggered the dreams. Plus knowing the place was in use doesn’t help.” He shivered, and Dex planted a kiss on his skin to soothe him. It would be in his best interest to forget. Who knew what the hell else they’d been working on? If the scopolamine concoction was anything to go by, it couldn’t be anything good. Sloane put that thought away for now, not wanting to worry Dex. His partner only had the faintest idea what had gone on during the First Gen Recruitment Program.
As if reading his thoughts, Dex spoke up somewhat hesitantly. “You never talk to me about what happened to you there.”
“I don’t intend to change that. And it’s not because I don’t want to confide in you or don’t think you can handle it, but what would be the point of telling you all the terrible details? What are you going to do with that information other than feel angry and
Dex was quiet for a moment before nodding. He delivered another kiss to Sloane’s neck and murmured, “Okay.”
With a smile, Sloane turned onto his side so he could face Dex. He leaned forward and put his lips to Dex’s for a kiss, enjoying the way his partner opened up for him. Sloane had never cared much for kissing, but he could lose himself in kissing Dex. With a low moan, Sloane rolled Dex over to face him and deepened their kiss. His hand slipped under Dex’s boxer briefs to palm Dex’s hard cock, and Dex returned the favor. They continued to kiss as they thrust into each other’s hand. It was slow and excruciating, but Sloane forced himself to keep a steady pace. He wrapped a leg around Dex’s to pull him closer and keep him against Sloane as their pace picked up. Dex shivered, and he gasped before spilling himself into Sloane’s hand. A few seconds later, Sloane’s climax hit, and he shuddered from head to toe.
As Sloane dozed off, he heard Dex say something about being glad he was here. Sloane gave his partner a squeeze and kissed his brow before murmuring, “Me too.”
SLOANE EYED the newest addition to his partner’s desk with mixed feelings. It was a coffee mug. Of course, this was Dex, so it wasn’t any old coffee mug. It had a silhouette of a guy jumping against the backdrop of a sunny day. Sloane read the black text underneath the leaping man out loud without the excitement the exclamation mark suggested.
“I pooped today.”
Dex grinned as he typed away at his desk’s interface. “What a coincidence. So did I.”
“I was reading your mug, wise guy.” He immediately regretted opening his mouth. This was going to go to weird places. He just knew it.
“So you didn’t poop today?”
“I’m not going to discuss my bowel movements with you.” Yep. Weird places.
The smile never left Dex’s face despite his attention not moving from his report. “You don’t think we’ve reached that stage in our relationship?”
“I don’t know what stage that’s supposed to be, but I have no intention of ever reaching it.” There were just some body fluids he wasn’t comfortable with. Which was why he was so useless around babies. Babies scared the hell out of him. They were so tiny and fragile. It’s like they knew he was freaked out by them because they always screamed and wailed when they saw him or he was forced to hold one. He frowned at the thought.
Dex gave him a curt nod. “No discussing poop. Got it.”
Were they still having this conversation? “Stop saying that word.”
“Poop.” This had to be the strangest conversation he’d ever had at the office. He was hardly surprised he was having it with Dex. His partner cackled and sat back in his chair, his eyes sparkling with mischief.
“Jackass.” Sloane stood and snatched up his normal THIRDS issued coffee mug. “I haven’t had nearly enough caffeine to deal with you this morning.”
Dex held out his empty mug. “How about being a good partner and grabbing me a cappuccino?”
Sloane stared at him. “You want me to walk into the canteen with that?” He stepped up beside Dex and started rummaging through his partner’s desk drawers ignoring the stash of sweets.
“What are you looking for?”
“Your marbles. I think what was left of them slipped out of your head.” Sloane shut the drawer and headed for the door. “Make sure no one trips on them when they walk in here.”
“Wait, I’ll come with you.” Dex jumped to his feet, mug in hand. “I have to talk to you about something serious.”
“Me-serious or Dex-serious?” They headed into the bullpen, past the many offices occupied by Unit Alpha’s Defense teams, and out to the reception area. It was pretty quiet at this time of day, which wasn’t unusual. With everything going on lately, their department was busier than ever. Even with the Coalition case hitting Threat Level Red and all other cases getting shuffled around, it didn’t mean new cases weren’t being opened. Crime didn’t reschedule because THIRDS agents were being run off their feet. In fact, it’s when criminals decided to put in some overtime. Sloane greeted the team of receptionists before heading down the corridor toward the elevator.
“How are the two different?” Dex asked.
Unsurprisingly, there was a big difference. After all his years in the field, Sloane was still running across surprises and situations he’d never been faced with. Granted, those instances were usually provided courtesy of his partner.
Rack & Ruin by Charlie Cochet / Romance & Love have rating 4.2 out of 5 / Based on46 votes