Gummy bears & grenades, p.1
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       Gummy Bears & Grenades, p.1

         Part #9.50 of THIRDS series by Charlie Cochet
 
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Gummy Bears & Grenades


  Table of Contents

  Blurb

  THIRDS

  Dedication

  CAST MEMBERS IN THE THIRDS SERIES

  GLOSSARY

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Exclusive Excerpt

  More from Charlie Cochet

  About the Author

  By Charlie Cochet

  Visit Dreamspinner Press

  Copyright

  Gummy Bears & Grenades

  By Charlie Cochet

  A THIRDS Novella

  THIRDS agent Dexter J. Daley can't wait to marry his fiance, Team Leader Sloane Brodie, but first he's looking forward to celebrating his bachelor party--which he intends to be a shenanigans-free evening of getting his groove on with family and friends.

  Of course events don't work out as planned, but for Dex that's nothing new. One thing is for sure, dodging drug dealers and hired thugs amid booze, dancing--and even a bear costume--will guarantee it's a night Dex will never forget. Now he just needs to survive all the fun.

  Enjoy this bonus story from the THIRDS universe. These events occur between Darkest Hour Before Dawn and Tried & True in the series timeline. While reading this story would enhance your experience of the THIRDS series, it is not essential to read before Tried & True.

  THIRDS

  Action. Humor. Romance.

  THIRDS exists to uphold the law for Humans and Therians without prejudice.

  During the Vietnam War, biological warfare spread the Melanoe virus, infecting millions worldwide and changing the course of human history forever. The vaccine, Eppione.8, created using strains from animals immune to the virus, activated a dormant mutation within the virus that altered human DNA and gave birth to a new species: Therians.

  In an attempt to restore social order, the US government put new regulations and laws into place, along with a Therian branch of government. In 1990, Human and Therian legislators launched the Therian-Human Intelligence, Recon, Defense Squadron, aka the THIRDS, now a worldwide organization. An elite, military-funded agency, THIRDS units are comprised of an equal number of Human and Therian agents.

  But THIRDS agents are more than a team--they're a family through thick and thin, and along the way, some find true love. While every day brings dangers and challenges, one thing will never change: standing up for what you believe in and protecting the people you love is never optional.

  To everyone who's joined me on this amazing adventure. Thank you.

  CAST MEMBERS IN THE THIRDS SERIES

  (YOU'LL FIND these cast members throughout the THIRDS series, some being introduced in different books. This list will continue to grow.)

  DESTRUCTIVE DELTA

  Sloane Brodie--Defense agent. Team Leader. Jaguar Therian.

  Dexter J. Daley "Dex"--Defense agent. Former homicide detective for the Human Police Force. Older brother to Cael Maddock. Adopted by Anthony Maddock. Human-Therian Hybrid.

  Ash Keeler--Defense agent. Entry Tactics and Close Quarter Combat expert. Lion Therian.

  Julietta Guerrera "Letty"--Defense agent. Weapons expert. Human.

  Calvin Summers--Defense agent. Sniper. Human.

  Ethan Hobbs--Defense agent. Demolitions expert and Public Safety Bomb Technician. Has two older brothers: Rafe and Sebastian Hobbs. Tabby tiger Therian.

  Cael Maddock--Recon agent. Tech expert. Dex's younger brother. Adopted by Anthony Maddock. Cheetah Therian.

  Rosa Santiago--Recon agent. Crisis negotiator and medic. Human.

  COMMANDING OFFICERS

  Lieutenant Sonya Sparks--Lieutenant for Unit Alpha. Cougar Therian. Undercover operative for TIN (Therian Intelligence Network).

  Sergeant Anthony Maddock "Tony"--Sergeant for Destructive Delta. Dex and Cael's adoptive father. Human.

  MEDICAL EXAMINERS

  Dr. Hudson Colbourn--Chief medical examiner. Wolf Therian.

  Dr. Nina Bishop--Medical examiner. Human.

  AGENTS FROM OTHER SQUADS

  Ellis Taylor--Team Leader for Beta Ambush. Leopard Therian.

  Rafe Hobbs--Team Leader for Alpha Ambush. The oldest Hobbs brother. Tiger Therian.

  Sebastian Hobbs--Team Leader for Theta Destructive. Was once on Destructive Delta but was transferred after his relationship with Hudson ended in a breach of protocol and civilian loss. Middle Hobbs brother. Tiger Therian.

  Dominic Palladino--Defense agent. Close Quarter Combat expert for Theta Destructive. Human.

  Angel Herrera--Defense agent. Pilot and BearCat driver for Theta Destructive. Human.

  Osmond Zachary "Zach"--Agent for Alpha Sleuth in Unit Beta. Has six brothers working for the THIRDS. Brown bear Therian.

  West Delray--Recon agent for Theta Destructive. King cheetah Therian.

  OTHER IMPORTANT CAST MEMBERS

  Louis Huerta "Lou"--Dex's ex-boyfriend. Human.

  Bradley Darcy--Bartender and owner of Bar Dekatria. Jaguar Therian.

  Austen Payne--Squadron Specialist Agent (SSA) for Destructive Delta. Freelance operative for TIN. Cheetah Therian.

  Dr. Abraham Shultzon--Head doctor during the First Gen Recruitment Program who was personally responsible for the well-being of the THIRDS' First Gen recruits. Was also responsible for the tests that were run on the Therian children at the First Gen Research Facility. Recently apprehended by TIN for creating an unsanctioned Therian mind-control drug and for kidnapping THIRDS Therian agents for an unauthorized project.

  Wolf--AKA Fang, Reaper. Former TIN operative turned rogue. Wolf became a freelance agent for hire after feeling he was betrayed by TIN, the organization that caused the death of his partner. Wolf Therian.

  John Daley--Dexter J. Daley's biological father. Anthony Maddock's best friend and partner at the Human Police Force. Killed during a shootout in a movie theater during the riots. Human.

  Gina Daley--Dexter J. Daley's biological mother. Worked for the CDC in NYC. First to volunteer to work with Therians. Killed along with her husband during a shootout in a movie theater during the riots. Human.

  Darla Summers--Calvin Summer's mother. Human.

  Thomas Hobbs--Ethan, Sebastian, and Rafe Hobbs's father. Suffers from Therian Acheron Syndrome. Tiger Therian.

  Julia Hobbs--Thomas Hobbs's wife, and mother to Ethan, Sebastian, and Rafe Hobbs. Human.

  Benedict Winters--THIRDS-appointed psychologist. Wolf Therian.

  Admiral Abbott Moros--Chief of Therian Defense. Tiger Therian.

  Arlo Keeler--Ash's twin brother killed during the riots in the 1980s.

  Gabe Pearce--Sloane's ex-partner and ex-lover on Destructive Delta. Killed on duty by his brother Isaac. Human.

  Isaac Pearce--Gabe's older brother. Was a detective for the Human Police Force who became leader of the Order of Adrasteia. Was killed by Destructive Delta during a hostage situation. Human.

  Beck Hogan--Leader of the Ikelos Coalition. Killed during confrontation with THIRDS agents. Tiger Therian.

  Drew Collins--Beck Hogan's second in command. Cougar Therian.

  Felipe Bautista--Drew Collins's boyfriend. Wolf Therian.

  Milena Stanek--Antiques acquisitions. Rosa's girlfriend. Leopard Therian.

  James Kirk--Firefighter. Letty's boyfriend. White tiger Therian.

  GLOSSARY

  Melanoe Virus--A virus released during the Vietnam War through the use of biological warfare, infecting millions worldwide and killing hundreds of thousands.

  Eppione.8--A vaccine created using strains from animals immune to the virus. It awakened a dormant mutation within the virus,
resulting in the altering of Human DNA, and giving birth to Therians.

  Therians--Shifters brought about through the mutation of Human DNA as a result of the Eppione.8 vaccine.

  Postshift Trauma Care (PSTC)--The effects of Therian Postshift Trauma are similar to the aftereffects of an epileptic seizure, only on a smaller scale, including muscle soreness, bruising, brief disorientation, and hunger. Eating after a shift is extremely important, as not eating could lead to the Therian collapsing and a host of other health issues. PSTC is the care given to Therians after they shift back to Human form.

  THIRDS (Therian-Human Intelligence Recon Defense Squadron)--An elite, military-funded agency comprised of an equal number of Human and Therian agents and intended to uphold the law for all citizens without prejudice.

  Themis--A powerful, multimillion-dollar government interface used by the THIRDS. It's linked to numerous intelligence agencies across the globe and runs a series of highly advanced algorithms to scan surveillance submitted by agents.

  First Gen--First Generation Therians born with a perfected version of the mutation.

  Pre-First Gens--Any Therian before First Gen Therians. Known to have unstable versions of the mutation, resulting in a number of health issues.

  BearCat--THIRDS tactical vehicle.

  Human Police Force (HPF)--A branch of law enforcement consisting of Human officials dealing only with crimes committed by Humans.

  Sparta--Nickname for THIRDS agent training facility at the Manhattan THIRDS headquarters.

  TIN--Therian Intelligence Network. Therian equivalent to the Human CIA.

  TINMAN--TIN operative. Nicknamed after the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, as TIN operatives are rumored to have no heart.

  Anti-Therianism--Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against Therians.

  Therian Classification--Tattoo marking on a Therian's neck displaying the Therian's classification, including family, genus, and species.

  Chapter 1

  SLOANE WAS overreacting. At least that's what he kept telling himself. The situation wasn't as dire as he was making it out to be. Plus, he had a whole support team in place, the majority of whom were highly trained agents. One was a TIN operative, for crying out loud. They all had his back. They knew what was at stake. How much trouble could one man get into?

  "I think I should wear my work boots. They're flame resistant."

  Oh dear God.

  Sloane had to sit down. He sank into the armchair beside the closet while Dex tried to decide between his black designer boots and his THIRDS-issued military-grade combat boots.

  "Babe?" Dex turned and chuckled. "Would you stop freaking out? It's going to be fine."

  "Then why do you need the work boots?" How could Sloane not freak out when Dex was going to be out there without him? It wasn't so much that he worried about Dex. Despite his mate being marked, Dex could handle himself. Sloane was confident in Dex's skills. In fact, Sloane was proud of him. Proud of how far he'd come since his rookie days at the THIRDS. Dex had escaped Wolf, for heaven's sake. No, he wasn't worried about Dex. He was worried about everyone else. Their city was in danger of being thrust into chaos the likes of which it had never seen. Sloane wasn't ready. He wasn't ready for his half-Therian mate to be out there without him.

  Dex straddled Sloane's lap, which made Sloane feel marginally better. A sweet kiss to his cheek, then the other, certainly helped. He closed his eyes as Dex brushed his lips against his temple, a feathery touch before Dex slipped his fingers into Sloane's hair. The tension in Sloane's shoulders eased, and he inhaled deeply through his nose, his mate's scent like a soothing balm.

  "It's just a bachelor party," Dex assured him.

  "Your bachelor party," Sloane murmured, enjoying Dex's fingers in his hair. He'd have to cut it soon before Tony ended up doing it for him. He shuddered at the thought.

  "You just thought about my dad cutting your hair again, didn't you?"

  Sloane opened his eyes to meet Dex's sparkling blue gaze. He frowned. "He didn't cut it. He butchered it. It was a traumatizing experience." The snip of scissors still made him flinch.

  "I know it was. It's okay. No one's going to lay a finger on your precious locks while I'm around." Dex brushed his lips over Sloane's. "Just think, in less than six months, you're going to be Mr. Sloane Daley."

  Sloane couldn't help his dopey grin or the way his heart soared at the thought. A part of him still couldn't believe it was happening. He was getting married. Him. After Gabe's death he'd resigned himself to a life without love, believing he was too broken to ever find someone who would want to keep him. Dex had challenged him in every way and proven to him how wrong Sloane was about himself, life, everything. Sloane couldn't imagine his life without Dex. Smiling wide, Sloane slid his hands up Dex's thighs to his waist, then wrapped his arms around his beautiful man. How had he gotten so lucky?

  Glowing amber surged from Dex's pupils, spreading through the brilliant blue. It stole Sloane's breath every time. He put his hand to Dex's cheek, mesmerized by the change. Everything about Dex enthralled him.

  "You're so beautiful."

  Dex's sultry smile went right to Sloane's groin. "Aw, you're so smitten with me. I kinda like you too."

  "Yeah?" Sloane laughed softly. He took Dex's hand and brought it to his lips for a kiss.

  "Just a little," Dex teased, wrapping his arms around Sloane's neck.

  Sloane hummed. "That so?" He slipped his hands down to Dex's ass and gave his cheeks a squeeze before bringing Dex against him and his growing erection, making Dex moan. "Guess I'm going to have to try harder to change that."

  "Speaking of hard...." Dex ground his hips against Sloane's, his breath hitching. "You trying to seduce me, Agent Brodie?"

  "Trying?" Sloane stood with Dex in his arms, loving the quiet gasp Dex let out. He carried Dex over to the bed, then dropped him onto the mattress before swooping down to capture that pouting smile. God, he loved Dex's mouth. Loved kissing his lips until they were pink and swollen. Sloane fumbled with Dex's belt buckle as he growled against Dex's mouth, "Maybe you need a little something to remember me tonight."

  Dex arched his back, his reply a gasp. "Yes."

  Sloane jerked Dex's dress pants and underwear down before he got off the bed and grabbed the back of Dex's knees. He tugged Dex over to the edge of the bed, yanked his pants off, and tossed them to one side of the bed. Needing to see as much of Dex's naked body as possible, Sloane shoved Dex's button-down shirt up his torso. He licked his lips at the muscles of Dex's chest and the six-pack he now sported thanks to months of intense TIN training. Dex's whole body was stronger, more defined, his biceps thicker, but that delicious tapered waist, the leanness Sloane loved, was still there.

  "Sloane," Dex moaned, his head back and his eyes closed as he palmed his hard cock. The sounds coming from Dex were decadent and sinful, moans and gasps he made because of Sloane only. Sloane grabbed the lube from the nightstand and quickly poured some onto his palm. He slicked himself before lining up. With a feral growl, he pushed inside Dex.

  Dex's mouth fell open in a silent cry, and Sloane sank deeper and deeper until he was settled against Dex's ass. He wrapped an arm around Dex's leg, his eyes never leaving Dex's face as he pulled out and plunged back in. He leaned in, using his weight to pound into Dex, intent on making sure Dex felt him for hours.

  "Feeling seduced yet?" Sloane asked, changing his angle and hitting Dex's sweet spot.

  "Oh God, yes!" Dex arched his back again, and Sloane moaned at the sight of Dex's muscles tensing and the sound of his ragged breath as he came over his hand and abdomen. Running his fingers through the sticky mess, Sloane thrust his hips over and over, his release barreling through him. He growled out Dex's name as his body tensed. He came inside Dex, and the heat and tightness around him, along with the force of his orgasm, had him doubling over between Dex's legs. Needing to catch his breath, Sloane let his brow rest against Dex's, smiling when Dex tipped his head back to brush his li
ps over Sloane's.

  "I love you," Dex said softly, his fingers caressing Sloane's jaw.

  Sloane swallowed hard and turned his head, reluctant to give voice to his growing fear.

  "Sloane? Talk to me, babe."

  "What if you get tired of it?"

  Dex gently turned Sloane's face so he could meet Sloane's eyes. "Tired of what?"

  "Of my feral half being so... possessive of you. Some guys hate it. I'm trying. I really am."

  "Sloane, I'm not 'some guy.' I'm your mate, and in a few months, I'll be your husband. No one knows you and your feral half like I do. I know when you say I'm yours, or that I belong to you, you don't really think I'm your property. You're a good man, and I love how you love me. If I didn't love you and all you are, just the way you are, I wouldn't be here. We're about to start a whole new adventure together, in more ways than one. I'm ready. I'm more than ready." Dex's beautiful smile, his eyes filled with so much adoration and certainty, chased the looming shadows from Sloane's heart, like he always did. Even on his darkest days, Dex was a source of warm, radiant sunlight.

  Dex's smile grew wicked. "What do you say? Ready to unleash a whole new level of kickass on the world?"

  "I'm a little terrified right now," Sloane teased.

  Dex waggled his eyebrows. "Come on, you know you want to."

  Sloane snickered. He nodded, sealing the deal with a kiss. "Wherever you go, I go," Sloane promised.

  "Sloane? Dex?" Seb called from downstairs, and Sloane sighed. Ash must have used his key to let himself and Seb in.

  "I got no pants on," Dex replied, and Sloane snorted out a laugh.

  "We'll wait down here."

  Sloane chuckled. He told Dex to stay put before grabbing the wet wipes from the nightstand, then handing them over so he could sort out Dex's pants. With a smile, he handed Dex his bright orange boxer briefs, followed by his pants. Dex quickly dressed, tucking his shirt in and smoothing it.

  Dex held out his arms. "How do I look?"

  "Like you just got thoroughly fucked."

  Dex opened his mouth to reply, but no words were immediately forthcoming. "I'll take it." Chuckling, he walked over to the closet and picked up his dress boots. "I promise not to do anything that'll make you regret asking me to marry you."

 
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