Rise amp fall, p.17
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       Rise & Fall, p.17
 

         Part #4 of THIRDS series by Charlie Cochet
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  “I want them here in the next half hour. And get Austen to set up a safe house. Nothing fancy, just somewhere out of the way where we can bring someone in. I want it equipped for an interrogation. Make sure there’s a nice restaurant within a few blocks.”

  Dex gave him a puzzled look but got right to it. He phoned Austen first, then the rest of the team. In less than half an hour, they were all present and accounted for in Dex’s living room, including Seb. Man, his team looked like shit. Most of them had bags under their eyes, were in serious need of sleep, and the rest looked grumpy as fuck. The worst part was the grumpy ones weren’t the usual suspects. Cael who was more often than not cheerful and enthusiastic looked like he was ready to hiss and claw at someone. Ash looked… beat. Seb looked worried. Calvin and Hobbs looked… uncomfortable. Sloane would have to work that one out later. Rosa was most definitely pissed, and her glare was aimed at Dex. Letty was the only one who looked like everything was cool.

  “Thank you all for coming.” Sloane sat on the couch with Dex beside him. “First, I know all about this insane unsanctioned mission.”

  “Are you pissed?” Cael asked worriedly.

  Sloane smiled at him. “No, I’m not pissed. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder.” His team stared back at him with surprised expressions, so he elaborated. “We’re a family, and when one of us needed help, you all stepped in. You put everything on the line to back Dex up. I’m not thrilled you kept it from me, and it better not happen again, but you came through for him.”

  “So Dex fessed up,” Rosa said, wrinkling her nose at Dex. “You should have kicked his ass.”

  “Yes, he fessed up,” Sloane said with a chuckle. He motioned over to his crutch. “Kicking is out of the question, but don’t worry. Sparta will still be there when I get back.”

  Dex groaned. “Man, I thought you were going to let this one go.”

  “Aw, that’s cute.” Sloane gave his partner’s knee a pat. “Not a chance. I’m going to remember every detail, and then I’m going to remind you why it’s a bad idea to withhold information from me.” He smiled brightly at the rest of his team. “That goes for the rest of you. Except Ash, because he was the only one who actually did what he was supposed to do.”

  There was a collective groan followed by several colorful expletives in multiple languages.

  “I thought you said you were proud of us,” Cael whined.

  “I am, but you should know better than to keep secrets from me. Especially when it concerns the safety of one of your teammates.”

  Everyone glared at Dex who went on to remove some imaginary dust from the couch cushion next to him.

  “You can all thank Dex later. For now, let’s get this show on the road.” Sloane turned his attention to Calvin. “Cal, you did recon on Bautista. Do you think he’d turn?”

  Calvin didn’t hesitate. He gave Sloane a firm nod. “I genuinely believe he doesn’t know what his boyfriend is up to. He’s a nice guy. No criminal record, priors, not even a parking ticket. He’s a grade school teacher with a perfect record. Visits his grandmother every Sunday. Spends time with his family. Does charity work. I think if we showed him who his boyfriend really is, he might be willing to help us.”

  Ash nodded his agreement. “Cal’s right. We’ve done surveillance on him. Poor sap has no clue what Collins is up to. The guy genuinely believes Collins attends church every Saturday morning.”

  Sloane mulled it over. This was their best lead. “All right. Let’s bring him in. Austen’s getting us a safe location. Cal, it’s time for another date with Bautista. Call him up. See if he’s free for dinner tomorrow night. If he asks you where, tell him it’s a surprise. Everyone else, wait for my instructions. In the meantime, help yourself to whatever’s in the kitchen.”

  “Drinks and snacks, mi amigos!” Dex carefully pushed himself off the couch and motioned to the kitchen. Rose, Letty, Cael, and Hobbs followed while Calvin fished his phone out of his pocket and headed outside to call Bautista. Ash hung back, his gaze somewhere over Sloane. It didn’t take a genius to know who his eyes were following. He really hoped his friend sorted himself out. Sloane had no idea how much longer Ash could go on like this. Seb was heading for the kitchen when Sloane reached out and took hold of his arm.

  “Hey, can I talk to you a moment?”

  “Sure.” Seb came around the couch and sat down next to him. “How are you feeling?”

  “Better. Thanks.” He glanced over his shoulder to make sure Dex was still in the kitchen and occupied. The team was currently surrounding his partner and tossing Cheesy Doodles into his open mouth for him to catch. So far he hadn’t missed one. Man, his partner was such a loveable dork. Looked like he’d be busy for a little while. Sloane turned back to Seb. “I really appreciate what you’re doing. If anything goes south, it’s on me.”

  Seb sat back, his arms folded over his broad chest and his legs crossed at the ankles. “Interesting. Dex told me the same thing.”

  “Yeah, well, I have a higher clearance level. So whatever happens is on me.”

  Seb gave him a smile. “You haven’t changed, you know.”

  “What do you mean?”

  “Since I was on the team. Still protective. I always admired that about you.” Seb looked remorseful. “I don’t know if I ever apologized, or if I did, I’m sure it wasn’t enough. I’m sorry I fucked up, Sloane.”

  Sloane shook his head. “You gotta stop beating yourself up about what happened, Seb. You made a mistake, paid the consequences. If Weidman had been on the ball, it could have been prevented.” He was quiet for a moment. “I’m sorry I was such an asshole to you about it. You needed a friend, not another officer chewing you out.” At the time he’d been furious. They’d had a huge fight over it, and Sloane had said some things he regretted. Seb had needed a friend, needed Sloane to be understanding, but at the time, Sloane hadn’t been able to see past the breach in protocol. He’d never been invested in anyone emotionally and so couldn’t understand Seb’s fierce instinct to protect Hudson.

  “No, you were—are, a good Team Leader. You had every right to be pissed off at me. My Felid side clawed for dominance, and I allowed it. I relinquished control to him.” Seb met Sloane’s gaze, his intense emerald stare pinning Sloane to the spot. He could see the Felid behind his friend’s eyes. See the ferocity in the tiger Therian watching him. “I’m not excusing what I did, but when your Felid side has found his mate, he will fight you with everything he’s got, Sloane. You might think you’re in control, but….” Seb glanced over his shoulder, and Sloane followed his line of vision to Dex who was laughing and teasing his brother. Something stirred inside him, and he turned back to face Seb, who continued, his voice grave. “When his life is about to be ripped away from you, you’ll see what you really are, what’s inside of you. I guarantee you, it’s terrifying.”

  Shit. Did Seb know?

  “I hope your Human side is stronger than mine was.”

  Sloane didn’t know what to say. He wanted to say he’d be able to make the difficult choice, but he wasn’t so sure. His thoughts went to the other night when he’d lost control for the first time in his life. He remembered thinking how angry and scared he was at Dex for putting himself in danger. Wondering what he’d do if something happened to him. Before he knew it, his Felid side had taken over to the point his memory was fuzzy in several places. He couldn’t remember being present the whole time, and it had scared the hell out of him.

  “You know,” Sloane said quietly.

  “Yes. He didn’t come out and say it, but he made me understand why he was going through with this insanity.” Seb let out a heavy sigh. “I thought simply being Therian was challenge enough. Now I know it’s only the beginning. There’s so much we don’t know about what we are, Sloane.”

  Sloane wanted to continue the conversation when Calvin came in from outside waving his phone. “We’re in. I’m picking him up at seven thirty tomorrow night.” His phone beeped and Calvin frown
ed at it. “How did Austen get my number?”

  Dex shrugged as he walked back into the living room. “Dude’s like a short annoying ninja spy. Who the hell knows how he does anything?” He sat down in the armchair with Cael propping himself on the armrest next to him.

  If Dex only knew the kind of spying Austen had been doing on him.

  “Anyway,” Calvin said, sending a text. “Austen sent a location. I’m forwarding it to you guys.”

  “Great.” Sloane looked up at Calvin. “We’ll meet at the safe house two hours before. Austen will have everything set up. Bautista trusts you, so this is your show. You up for it?”

  Calvin gave him a firm nod. “Yeah.”

  Sloane knew Calvin well. His friend was feeling guilty for what he was about to do. “We’re just going to talk to him, okay? If he’s really innocent in all this, there’s nothing to worry about.”

  “I know.” Calvin tapped Hobbs’s shoulder, and the two headed for the front door. “Call if anything changes.”

  The rest of their team said their good-byes, all promising to keep their eyes on their phones for any additional intel. There was nothing left to be done until tomorrow night. Hobbs would be the driver as usual, and he’d pick everyone up in the surveillance van they’d made out of Lou’s catering van. Sloane did not want to be around when Lou discovered what Dex had done to his shiny, expensive van. He might have to get Bradley to intercept and soften the blow.

  After everyone had gone, Sloane had been left somewhat winded. It was more activity than he’d had in ages. Dex told him to go upstairs, that he’d clean up the kitchen. Nearly an hour later and still no Dex. Sloane was settled in bed against his garrison of propped-up pillows, trying not to doze off when Dex called up from downstairs.

  “You in bed?”

  “Where else would I be?” Sloane teased. “Why? What are you doing down there?” The kitchen hadn’t been that messy.

  “I’ve got something for you. To say I’m sorry for acting like a jerk.”

  “Okay, then come up here.” Sloane crossed his arms over his chest and waited to see what craziness his partner was about to spring on him. He heard Dex’s voice getting closer as he spoke.

  “Do you need me to take your temperature?”

  “What?” What the hell was he talking about? “What are you—” The words died on his lips, and his jaw dropped when Dex stepped into the doorway.

  “I said, do you need me to check your temperature, Mr. Brodie?”

  “Sweet Jesus.” It took some effort for Sloane to close his mouth, but eventually he managed it. Dex strutted into the room dressed in nurse’s scrubs made of white latex so tight it was all but painted on his body. The V-neck top exposed his collarbone and emphasized the curve of every muscle, from his lean sculpted torso, to his muscular legs, and the prominent outline of his hard dick. The white was a stark contrast against his tanned skin. Holy hell, his partner looked like something out of a porn magazine.

  Wait.

  “Are those….” Was it too much to hope for?

  Dex gave him a cocky smile and turned around, the sight making Sloane gasp. His gorgeous round ass was exposed, perfectly cupped by the tight latex. Sloane was in danger of coming in his pants just looking at it. He loved Dex’s ass. It was plump and perky, and Sloane couldn’t resist sinking his teeth into it, kneading it, pounding into it. Fuck, he was so hard right now.

  Dex snapped his fingers, and the sound of several electric guitars filled the room, followed by the beat of heavy drums. Sloane threw his head back and laughed. How the hell did his partner do it? Then, of course, there was the choice in music. Trust Dex to choose a Def Leppard song to strip to. Sloane could barely contain his glee as Dex started moving, slowly at first. He ran his hands over his body, slipping them down his chest to his crotch, which he cupped. His hips thrust forward in time to the drums, his sexy voice singing along with the ’80s rock song as he gyrated his hips while lyrics went on about him being sticky sweet.

  Sloane sat mesmerized by his partner’s body and his sensual, fluid movements as he made his way to the foot of the bed. Then the show really got started. Sloane had never seen anything more gorgeous than his partner in tight white latex dancing for him.

  “I’ll give you sticky,” Sloane growled, spreading his legs.

  His partner crawled onto the bed and knelt at the foot of it, his knees spread as he ran his hands down his thighs and slid them back up on the inside back to his crotch where he rubbed himself and moaned before he got on his feet and started dancing again, this time with his back to Sloane. Damn. Where the hell had his partner learned to move like that?

  Sloane had to adjust himself. Not only was he getting uncomfortably hard, but when Dex got on his knees and arched his back, his ass in the air just out of reach, Sloane was in serious danger of coming in his pants. He might have even let out a whimper. As if sensing his need, Dex turned and crawled over to him. He straddled Sloane with a sexy lopsided grin.

  “I’m all sweaty. How about you help me out of this and I get you sweaty.”

  Speech had completely eluded him. With a nod, Sloane took hold of the hem of the latex shirt and pulled. It took some effort, considering how tight it was, but Dex did his part, and soon it was on the floor. Dex took his turn, carefully undressing Sloane, pulling off his sweatpants and socks, followed by his T-shirt. He shoved everything off the bed before he removed the chaps and threw them onto the floor with the rest of the clothes. With a naughty smile, Dex straddled Sloane’s lap, a small bottle of lube in his hand. Sloane had no idea where his partner had conjured it up, but he wasn’t about to ask questions. Dex handed him the lube before he turned around and bent over.

  “Lube me up and make me slick. I want to take a ride on your pogo stick.”

  Sloane peered at him. “Are those song lyrics?”

  “This is waiting for you,” Dex said with a chuckle, smacking his own ass cheek.

  “Right.” Sloane got to work lubing Dex up and stretching him, trying not to lose it at all the sensual moans and soft gasps his partner let out while Sloane was fingering him. Dex reached back and took the lube from Sloane and poured some onto his hand. If Sloane had found it difficult before to not jizz himself, it was doubly hard with Dex spreading the lube over his rock-hard cock.

  “Fuck. Dex.”

  “Easy there, handsome. The fun’s just beginning.” When Dex was done, he turned, lined Sloane’s cock up, and slowly started pushing himself down onto it.

  Sloane hissed and let his head fall back against the pillows. His fingers dug into Dex’s thighs as Dex lowered himself onto Sloane’s cock with deliberately slow movements. Inch by inch until he was sitting on Sloane.

  “I love this,” Dex groaned.

  Sloane nodded and swallowed hard. Why did he feel like a damn virgin? Like he was having sex for the first time? Wait… weren’t those song lyrics too? Or something like it? Dear God, he was spending too much time listening to Dex’s music. He ran his hands up Dex’s legs, loving the feel of his partner’s muscles and the soft hairs. Dex might not be as big as him, or as muscular, but he was all male and sexy as fuck. He watched Dex let his head fall back and moan as Sloane explored with his hands, sliding them up smooth skin, over flat abs, and a defined chest. Dex moved one hand over his own cock and started stroking himself. A low growl rose up from Sloane’s chest at the sight.

  “You’re so fucking gorgeous.” Sloane watched Dex jerking himself off, his movements slow and matching the subtle rocking of his hips. Damn, it felt so good. Dex continued to rock his hips, his leg muscles flexing as he did his best to control the excruciatingly slow movements. He leaned forward and pressed his lips to Sloane’s, his tongue poking out, and running along Sloane’s bottom lip before pushing in and demanding entrance. Sloane opened up, his skin beading with sweat as Dex sucked on his tongue. His fingers dug into Sloane’s hair, holding on tight as he pulled almost all the way out before impaling himself down on Sloane’s dick.

&n
bsp; “Oh shit,” Sloane gasped.

  Dex started to bounce, his ass cheeks slapping against Sloane’s groin. Again he leaned forward so he could pull almost all the way out before impaling himself down again on Sloane’s cock. He did it over and over.

  “Dex.”

  “You okay?”

  “Other than feeling like I’m going to pass out from how fucking amazing this feels? I’m fine.”

  Dex let out a breathless chuckle and alternated between impaling himself, rotating his hips, and forcing himself down deep against Sloane. Beads of sweat formed on Sloane’s brow, and a drop rolled down the side of his cheek. Dex leaned in and with his tongue, lapped it up.

  “Oh, fuck yeah.” It was like the more time they spent together, the bolder Dex grew in the bedroom. Sloane could hardly contain his excitement. His muscles strained, and his blood all but boiled over. God, he wanted to fuck his partner senseless.

  “You like that, handsome?”

  Sloane couldn’t help his smile. “Yeah, I like it a lot.” There was so much he liked very much. The way Dex’s plump lips parted, releasing moans, whimpers, and groans as Sloane took hold of Dex’s cock and started pumping it. Dex thrust his hips up and down, his movements picking up as Sloane’s hand did the same.

  “That’s it. Fuck yourself on my dick.”

  “Oh God, Sloane.” Dex’s movements grew erratic, his face pained with the need to release. Sweat beaded his skin, and Sloane thrust his hips up as Dex came down, making his partner cry out in surprise.

  “Come for me, sweetheart. I want to see your face when you come.”

  Dex nodded. He rotated his hips, but when his own fingers found their way to his lips and his other hand to his hair, his expression of sheer reckless abandon as he fucked himself on Sloane, it was more than Sloane could endure.

  “Fuck. Oh fuck.” Sloane sat up, one arm wrapping around Dex and pulling him close against him as his other hand continued to pump Dex’s cock. Sloane thrust his hips hard against Dex’s ass over and over until Dex cried out, his fingers digging into Sloane’s shoulders as he came in Sloane’s hand. The hot, sticky feel of it had Sloane thrusting hard and deep one last time, causing his partner to let out a half cry, half moan before Sloane came deep inside Dex. He held on tight to Dex, thrusting until he’d emptied himself of every last drop. Carefully he rolled over with Dex, pulling out of him as he did.

  Sloane hadn’t even realized the music was still going. Except instead of a hot sexy tune, it was a sweet romantic ballad about love. Kissing Dex, Sloane held him close, wondering why the hell it had taken him this long to realize what he had.

  “I love you,” he whispered against Dex’s ear. His body was going to be sore, but it was worth it. He nuzzled Dex’s neck and smiled when he felt Dex slip his leg between Sloane’s. He huddled close, his arms around Sloane’s waist as he whispered back.

  “I know.”

  Chapter 10

  THE SAFE house was like any other. An empty, secure location with several vacant rooms all painted the same drab gray. Nothing particularly interesting to look at. One room had been set up with a table and a chair to either side of it. Digital microphones and recording devices were in position, ready to feed everything back to the digital drive in the next room where Dex and Sloane sat watching the medium-sized monitor on the table in front of them.

  Calvin had managed to blindfold Bautista, and Dex felt a little sorry for the guy. Either Bautista was as innocent as he seemed or an exceptional actor. He’d trusted Calvin to blindfold him and lead him who knew where. They watched Calvin escort Bautista into the brightly lit room and remove the blindfold. Bautista blinked at the lighting, his smile fading when he realized something wasn’t right. He spun toward Calvin, eyes wide with fear.

  “What is this?”

  “I’m sorry, Felipe, but… I’m not who you think I am.” Calvin reached into his pocket and presented his badge. “I’m an agent for the THIRDS. Please, sit.” He motioned over to one of the chairs, and after some hesitation, Bautista did as he was asked.

  “I should have known. I thought you were too good to be true.”

  “I’m really sorry,” Calvin said sincerely. “It wasn’t my intention to hurt you.”

  “I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m registered. What do you want with me?” Bautista had his hands on his lap, his fingers clutched tightly together. He was anxious, showing all the signs of genuine fear and apprehension.

  “That’s not why we’ve brought you in. Have you heard of Beck Hogan?”

  Bautista frowned thoughtfully. “He was in the news, wasn’t he? Something about an explosion a few weeks ago.”

  Calvin nodded. “He’s the leader of an extremist group calling themselves the Coalition. Have you heard of them?”

  “They were at war recently with a Human group. I can’t remember their name. It was horrible. There was a bombing in the youth center; then the Coalition killed those Humans. But the news said it was over. The THIRDS arrested them. Or what was left of them.” Bautista’s gaze wandered around the room, momentarily landing on the steel door before coming to rest on Calvin again. “It’s all very tragic, but I don’t understand what it has to do with me.”

  “I need to show you something. It might be shocking and difficult to look at, but I need you to look, okay?”

  Dex watched Calvin open the folder containing photographs of the Order members Hogan and his crew had killed. Some of them shot, some mauled to death so bad they were barely recognizable as Humans.

  “Oh my God.” Felipe’s hand went to his mouth, and he turned away, his eyes shut tight. “Why are you showing me those?”

  “Because your boyfriend was involved in these murders.”

  Bautista stared at Calvin. He almost looked like he’d been frozen in time. After what seemed like a lifetime went by, he shook his head. “No. It’s not possible. Drew couldn’t have had anything to do with this. He might be an insensitive jerk sometimes, but he’s not a murderer.”

  “I’m afraid he is.” Calvin showed Bautista photographic evidence taken from street cameras capturing Collins heavily armed. “He’s a part of the Coalition, along with Beck Hogan. We’ve been after them for months.”

  “But… how? I mean, he….” Bautista kept shaking his head, tears welling in his eyes.

  “When he wasn’t with you, did you know where he was?”

 
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