Author: Charlie Cochet
Characters: Dex Daley & Sloane Brody
“Hey, handsome. Miss me?”
Dex climbed into bed beside his sleepy partner, his heart swelling at the warm smile he received. Sloane had decided to stop fighting his meds and resign himself to the fact that if he wanted to recovery from his injuries quickly, he’d have to allow his body time to heal. It also didn’t hurt that Dex rewarded him with cuddles every time he woke up from a nap. His gruff, Apex predator partner liked to put up a tough front, but Dex could see right through that. Sloane was very much enjoying Dex’s fussing over him, and on occasion Dex had even gotten him to purr. Much to Sloane’s dismay. He still wasn’t too pleased about purring while in Human form.
“Where were you?” Sloane asked, his amber eyes sharp despite the medication. “I thought you were going to nap with me.” His pout was almost too much for Dex and he snuggled up close, his fingers caressing Sloane’s scruffy jaw.
“I was making you some lunch for when you woke and then I remembered something. You know what today is?”
Sloane drew his brows together in thought. “Um… Thursday?”
“Actually, it’s Friday, but that’s not what I meant.”
“Come on, Mr. I-Remember-Everything,” Dex teased.
“I remember everything when Therian meds aren’t kicking my ass. Can I have a hint?”
“Today’s a very significant day.” Dex rolled onto his back to reach into the drawer of his nightstand, returning to Sloane with a packet of Cheesy Doodles. He waved them at Sloane.
“Do I even want to know why you have Cheesy Doodles in your nightstand? “Sloane arched an eyebrow at him when realization seemed to dawn. A wide smile crept onto his face. “We met a year ago today.”
“That’s right.” Dex tossed the cheese snacks behind him and the packet landed somewhere on the floor with a ‘plop’. He leaned in and kissed Sloane. His boyfriend’s mouth was warm and his lips soft. Dex let out a soft moan before pulling back. “I know it’s not our official anniversary, but I can’t believe it’s been a year already.”
“I know. To think a year ago this crazy blond-haired menace knocked me into an equipment stand after being chased by a bear Therian over a packet of cheese snacks.”
Dex beamed proudly. “I like to make an entrance.”
“I noticed.” Sloane brought Dex up close against him and kissed him. It was slow and deep, with Sloane slipping his hands beneath Dex’s T-shirt, his fingers caressing Dex’s skin.
“But I’m a cute blond menace, right?” Dex said against Sloane’s lips, making Sloane smile.
Dex pulled back with a dopey grin. “Aw, look at you. Your meds make you so sappy.” Sloane had been having a lot of sappy moments since he’d been on his meds. Not that Dex was complaining. It might have had a hand in getting Sloane to agree to stay with him while he recovered.
“Shut up,” Sloane grumbled. His pout fell away and he cocked his head to one side. “I’m curious. What was going through your head the first time we met?”
“Well, the first time we met wasn’t the first time I saw you.”
Sloane’s eyebrows shot up. “It wasn’t? I don’t remember seeing you before then.”
“Because I was, uh, sort of spying on you. All of you.”
Sloane eyed him warily. “Go on.”
“Well, my dad told me to head down to Sparta and wait for him in the lounge area.”
“Which you of course ignored,” Sloane said sweetly. He placed a kiss on the tip of Dex’s nose.
“Which I took into consideration,” Dex corrected. “I decided a little sneak peek wouldn’t hurt. So I asked a few agents and they said you were training, warned me not to interrupt.”
“Which you also ignored.”
“Which I again took into consideration, and technically I didn’t interrupt until later.” Dex wrapped his leg around Sloane’s uninjured leg, his hand resting on Sloane’s chest. He remembered that day as if it were yesterday. “I was checking out the facility while I searched for you guys when I heard Ash cursing up a storm. I found you in one of the training bays. You and Ash were sparring.” His smile widened. “You totally kicked his ass.”
Sloane chuckled. “I remember.”
“Anyway, you had your back to me—a very nice view by the way—and as I watched you two sparring, I prayed Ash wasn’t my new partner, and then you turned around.”
Dex could feel his cheeks flush at the memory. “And I thought, “Shit, my Team Leader is hot.” Also, that you had a sexy voice.” Little had he known the jaguar Therian he was ogling would become his lover and then the guy he’d lose his heart to. “What did you think of me?” Dex asked, though judging from their rocky start, he could imagine.
“I can handle it.” Maybe Sloane hadn’t completely disliked him at first.
“After you smacked your head against mine, my first thought was that you were an idiot.”
Then again, maybe he had. “Thanks, partner.”
Sloane put his hand to Dex’s cheek, his thumb stroking Dex’s bottom lip. “I admit after that initial thought, I was momentarily distracted by your eyes.”
“Really?” Dex couldn’t help his stupid grin.
“Yeah. Then I thought you had to be either crazy or stupid.”
“I regret asking for the truth now.”
Sloane chuckled and carefully rolled himself over to face Dex. “It’s true that we had a rough start. Hell, it’s been a rough year, but I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. I wouldn’t trade you in for anything. Call it the meds or whatever you like, but I’m telling you the most important truth of all.” Sloane pulled Dex close against him, their legs intertwined. His amber eyes were intense, and Dex felt a shiver go up his spine. “A year ago today when you came crashing into my life, you also saved it. You saved me, Dex. Thank you.”
Dex could barely contain his smile, or the joy in his heart. Sloane was right, it had been a rough year, but it had also been an amazing year. A year of getting to know Sloane, of kissing him, and holding him, of showing him how much he was coming to mean to Dex.
“Thank you, for giving me a chance to love you,” Dex said warmly. “Happy anniversary.”
“Happy anniversary, sweetheart.”
As Sloane kissed him, Dex vowed he’d never forget how close he’d come to losing Sloane, or how lucky he was to have him. As a reminder, he’d make sure to show Sloane how much he loved him, each and every day.
Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!
Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.