Blood and thunder, p.3

Blood & Thunder, page 3

 part  #2 of  THIRDS Series


Blood & Thunder

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  “I’m sorry,” Simon mumbled, looking even more deflated.

  Dex gave a sniff and blinked back the sting in his eyes. Twenty-eight years and it still felt as though it were yesterday. “Yeah, I miss them, a lot. But, soon after, Tony adopted me, and a few months later, I got me a baby brother. I wouldn’t trade him in for anything. You got any brothers or sisters?” He didn’t know what possessed him to share what had happened to his parents with Simon, but as soon as he started, it came tumbling out. Simon was young. He had his whole future ahead of him, if he would only stand up for what he wanted, not what his father wanted for him.

  Simon nodded. “An older brother. Matthew. He lives in Boston now.”

  At least Matthew had gotten away. “He a good big brother?” Dex asked, noting the way Simon’s eyes lit up. Dex tried not to curse. The kid was younger than he’d anticipated. Fifteen at most.

  “He’s awesome. He always looked out for me, played video games with me. We got into fights, but brothers do. He never thought he was too cool to hang out with me, even when his friends teased him about it. What about you?”

  Dex smiled widely. “Am I a good big brother? I don’t know. Let’s find out.” He turned his head, grinning at Cael. “What do you say? Be gentle.”

  “Aside being really annoying sometimes,” Cael replied, his smile reaching his eyes, “yeah, you’re an awesome big brother.”

  Dex turned back to Simon whose jaw was all but hitting the floor. When he recuperated, he sputtered. “He’s your brother? But… but he’s a Therian!”

  “Tell me something, Simon. If something happened and you ended up… different, would Matthew turn you away?”

  Simon opened his mouth then seemed to think better of it. His shoulders slumped, and he shook his head. “No. He’d love me no matter what. I know he would.”

  “So why would I do that to my little brother? He’s a regular guy, just like you.” Dex shrugged. “Maybe his DNA’s different, but I love him just like your big brother loves you. He’s also the only guy who can kick my ass at video games. He’s a total nerd.”

  “Pot meet kettle,” Cael snorted.

  Dex put his hand on Simon’s shoulder. “Something tells me Matthew doesn’t share your dad’s views.”

  “No. They fought a lot. Dad had always told us Therians were wrong. Abominations from hell trying to corrupt God’s children. Matthew believed it at first.”

  “But then?”

  “He met Jenny.”

  “Ah,” Dex smiled knowingly. “Your brother fell in love with a Therian.”

  “Yeah. I was so scared for him. When Dad found out, he went nuts. Threatened Matthew, but Matthew refused to leave Jenny, so Dad kicked him out of the house, said he was dead to him. Dad told me I no longer had a brother, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t act like Matt was dead. I wanted so bad to go with him, but Matt was only sixteen, and Dad threw him out without any money, didn’t even give him a chance to get some clothes.” Simon’s frown deepened, his voice growing angry. “How could he do that? How could he kick Matt out like that? I wanted to hurt dad so bad, but I was small and scared. I hated him.” He hung his head, tears in his eyes. “God, I’m such a pussy.”

  “Hey.” Dex squeezed his shoulder. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. There wasn’t much you could do, and your dad’s bad decisions are on him. It’s okay to be scared, but you’re not a kid anymore, Simon. You can make your own decisions. What your dad’s involved in will put him away for a long time. He wants to hurt innocent Therians, Therians like Jenny, like my little brother.” Simon’s gaze shifted to Cael before guiltily darting away. “Is that what you want for yourself? Do you want to give up any chance of a future, at seeing Matt again, for your dad’s mistakes?”

  Simon bit down on his bottom lip, and after what seemed like an eternity, he shook his head. “No, I don’t want to go to prison, not for that asshole. I never wanted to do this, but he told me if I was going to be a Therian fucker like my brother then I should leave, that I’d be better off dead.” A tear rolled down his reddened cheek. He met Dex’s gaze. “Can you really help me?”

  Dex nodded. “I promise, Simon. I will do everything in my power to get you to Matt, but I need you to help me.”

  “Okay.” Simon gave him a curt nod, his expression determined. “What do I need to do?”

  “I need you to tell me everything you know about Isaac Pearce.”

  Chapter 2

  “WHERE ARE we with those explosives?”

  Isaac Pearce stepped up beside his disciple and placed a hand on the young man’s shoulder. So loyal. His flock of sheep, ready to go wherever he led them, to do whatever he commanded. Finding his followers had been easy. All he had to do was find the right buttons and push.

  “Nearly finished, sir. We’re waiting on last of the C4.”

  “Excellent. Let me know when we’re ready to move.” With a smile and a pat on the back, Isaac continued his rounds of the small, once abandoned facility, checking that everyone was at their stations making the necessary preparations.

  It had taken a few months to strengthen his flock, gather the necessary supplies, and put together his next course of action. He’d opened two new, fully operational branches, which housed the Order’s latest recruits. By now, the THIRDS should be closing in on IGD. With the right information leaked in the right places, it was astonishing how easily he could have those circus animals jumping through his strategically located hoops. He’d lose a few disciples, but war was filled with necessary casualties. It was a sacrifice he and his following were willing to make for the greater good.

  No doubt those THIRDS bastards believed he didn’t have the balls to continue with what he’d started, but they’d soon come to realize he’d been biding his time. As a former HPF detective, he was well schooled in the art of patience. It had taken him months to meticulously plan the murder of those HumaniTherian cockroaches, followed by the kidnapping of Agent Brodie.

  Isaac closed his eyes, remembering the brief moments of pleasure he’d had torturing that Therian filth. Brodie should have died in his hands, left a bloodied, carved, and burned mess. Instead, Isaac had been forced to use his contingency plan, detonating the strategically placed explosives under the metro line. He smiled widely at the memory. They’d believed him dead, thought they’d rid themselves of him, but like a phoenix rising from the ashes, he emerged as a humble servant of the great goddess Adrasteia, ready to fulfill his purpose. The Human race was in jeopardy, and he wasn’t about to go down without one hell of a fight.

  He’d spent countless hours deciding where—or more importantly who, he would strike next. If he and his species were going to have any chance at winning this war, he would have to destroy the THIRDS, and thanks to Agent Morelli, Isaac had a solid lead. The Therian filth had managed to be of some use before Isaac put him down like the mutt he was. The information wouldn’t have seemed like much to anyone else, but he’d solved cases with less to go on.

  Confident everything was running according to plan, he retreated to his office in the subbasement, not to be disturbed. Switching on his monitor, he let out a sigh, chastising himself for being such a sentimental jackass. How could he mourn the loss of a friend he’d had for such a short period of time? Of course, it felt as if he’d known the man longer. He’d been watching him, studying him for months. What an idiot he’d been, thinking he’d found someone who understood him, who might possibly join him at his side, a trusted partner, a position he had once hoped his brother Gabe would accept. Instead, Dexter J. Daley had chosen that diseased freak Sloane Brodie, just as Gabe had. Isaac clenched his fist on his desk as he stared into Dex’s smiling blue eyes.

  Dex would have made the ultimate disciple. He was fiercely loyal, smart, audacious, skilled, and when he set his mind to something, would move heaven and earth to make it so. Goddamn that Therian bastard. He’d corrupted Dex just like he’d corrupted Gabe. Isaac launched to his feet and started pacing. If Brodie hadn’t gotten to De
x first, Isaac would have found a way to make Dex understand his worth, to show him where he truly belonged—here with him and his species, not with those animals. There was still time. Dex wasn’t completely lost to him, though his window of opportunity was growing smaller by the day.

  He stopped pacing and returned to his desk, pulling out the layout of their first target. If all went according to plan, he wouldn’t have to worry about Sloane Brodie anymore. He finally had what he needed. Killing Brodie wouldn’t be enough. Isaac wanted to destroy him, take everything from him, and leave nothing of him but the remnants of a shattered husk, and then he would kill him. But first, he would stand back and watch the THIRDS crumble to dust as the city fell to chaos. When nothing was left, when the disease had been cured, Isaac would approach Dex once again, and this time, if he refused, Dex would join Gabe in the afterlife.

  IT WAS his lucky day.

  Dex’s target was finished. The guy just didn’t know it.

  He inched up to the doorframe, his weapon gripped tightly against his vest. One shot. That’s all he needed. He could do this. Silently, he crouched down and angled his head, trying to get as much visibility as possible without exposing himself. With the coast clear, he made a dash for the blockade, slid in behind it, and pressed his back against the smooth surface.

  Deep breath. It was now or never. By the end of this, one man would be left standing, and he had every intention of being that man. Popping out from behind the safety of the blockade, he aimed his weapon at the same moment as his enemy. Teeth gritted, Dex fired off a round, hitting his target straight in the heart. His enemy fell back with the impact of the blow before crumbling to the ground in a heap.

  Dex waited. The only sound meeting his ears was that of his own ragged breath. Cautiously, he edged closer to the structure his enemy had fallen behind, making certain to keep his weapon at the ready just in case. He rounded the corner and grinned smugly, his gaze on his sprawled victim.

  “‘Oh, you’re in charge? Well, I got news for you, Dwayne. From up here, it doesn’t look like you’re in charge of jack shit.’”

  Sloane glared up at him. “Screw you.”

  With a dopey grin, Dex held his hand out, laughing when Sloane smacked it away and got to his feet without help. A deep pout came onto his partner’s face when he looked down at the array of blinking red lights on his vest. Pressing the reset button, the lights flashed green before the sensor switched itself off.

  “Have I mentioned how not fun it is playing laser tag with you? I never should’ve gotten you this stupid thing for Christmas,” Sloane grumbled, removing his vest as he left the kitchen and made his way over to the living room. He tossed the sturdy equipment onto the floor by his feet and dropped down onto the couch.

  After cheerfully skipping to Sloane, Dex plopped down beside him and gave the tip of his nose a gentle poke. “Boop. ‘I killed you dead.’”

  Sloane swatted his hand away. “And do you have to quote Die Hard every single time?”

  “What’s the point of playing laser tag if you don’t pretend you’re John McClane? Besides, you’re the one always calling me that so you only have yourself to blame really.”

  Rolling his eyes, Sloane settled back against the cushions and put his feet up on the coffee table, which Dex swiftly proceeded to nudge off with his sock-covered foot. His partner knew better. Sloane’s usual gripe about feet on the furniture was cut short by some sort of revelation.

  “Wait, wasn’t Dwayne a cop?”

  “Deputy Police Chief,” Dex replied, removing his laser tag equipment. He gently placed it on the floor beside the couch.

  “Cop on cop? Not cool.”

  A wicked smile spread across Dex’s lips, and he wriggled his eyebrows.

  “You’re thinking about porn aren’t you?” Sloane cast him an accusing glare and Dex laughed.

  “Aren’t you?”


  Looked like he’d have to change that. Dex climbed onto Sloane’s lap and ground his hips, rubbing his growing erection against Sloane’s. “What about now?”

  “Are you saying you want me to be thinking about other guys fucking while you’re doing that?” Sloane arched an eyebrow at him, and Dex held back a smile. The guy loved playing hard to get. Dex was fine with that. He loved a good challenge, especially when that challenge concerned his grumpy, sexy Team Leader, and as of four months ago, lover.

  “No, I’m saying you should be thinking about us fucking while I do this. We can star in our own porn flick. I’ll be the mouthy lawbreaker, and you can be the sexy officer who uses his love truncheon to teach me a lesson.” It took a lot not to laugh at the deadpan expression on his lover’s face.

  “If you stop referring to my penis as a love truncheon.”

  “Love dart?”


  “Portable pocket rocket?”

  Sloane smiled. “Absolutely.” The smile vanished. “Not.”

  “How about moisture missile? Peacemaker? Heat seeking missile?” He could do this all day, and his partner knew it, judging by his less-than-impressed expression.

  “Dex,” Sloane warned, a low growl rising up from his broad chest, the kind that made Dex feel tingly all over.

  “Shut it?”

  “We have a winner.”

  “Straight and to the point.” Dex winked at him. “Old school. I like it.”

  “Good. Now take off your pants.”

  “I like that even better.” Dex scrambled off Sloane’s lap, pulled off his socks followed by his jeans, which proved more difficult than it should be. He got himself tangled, tried to save face by hopping on one foot, but ended up falling over onto the carpet. Kicking his jeans off, he sprang to his feet and put his hands on his hips in an attempt to play it cool. “You didn’t see that.”

  Sloane closed his eyes and shook his head, his lips pressed together. He was trying not to laugh. Dex appreciated that. “Some things can’t be unseen, but I’ll try.”

  “Thanks.” Dex quickly pulled off his shirt and dropped it on the carpet, staying in just his red boxer briefs. He took the opportunity to ogle his partner, from Sloane’s black biker boots, up muscular legs clad in dark denim, the deep blue long-sleeve T-shirt accentuating his broad shoulders and tapered waist, the yellow bands on the sleeves circling his ridiculously beefy biceps. His chiseled jaw was stubbly, his black hair had grown too long again, curling around the back of his ears. Sloane Brodie was a walking wet dream, and for some unfathomable reason, he wanted Dex. Granted, Dex wasn’t exactly sure in what capacity, but in the four months since they decided to secretly do something about the intense attraction between them, they’d been boinking like bunnies.

  Sloane opened one eye and squinted at him. “Are you trying to blow me telepathically or something? Is this about X-Men again? Because we’ve established that’s fiction, remember? We had, like, a three-hour argument over it.”

  “First, it wasn’t an argument, it was an intellectual debate. Second, if Therians can happen, X-Men can happen. Third—” Sloane rose to his feet with a sigh, and Dex frowned. “Where you going?”

  “To shut you up the only way I know how.” Sloane closed the distance between them in two strides. He clamped a hand on the back of Dex’s neck and brought him in for a kiss that was hungry, gentle, and stole Dex’s breath away. Dex returned the kiss, his eagerness showing as he clutched onto Sloane’s biceps. A moan escaped him at the feel of Sloane’s hands slipping down his bare back, leaving shivers in their wake before his strong fingers dug into Dex’s ass.

  Sloane’s mouth was hot, his lips soft, and his tongue tasted vaguely of the vanilla cappuccino Dex had coerced him into drinking after dinner. Without breaking a sweat, Sloane grabbed Dex’s ass and hauled him off his feet. Despite being manhandled plenty of times by Sloane, Dex still let out a surprised gasp.

  All his life, Dex had hooked up with Human guys. It was just the way it worked out, especially with his former position in the Human Police Force, not
exactly a Therian-friendly organization. Being with a Therian was hella different. Being with a Therian who happened to also be an Apex predator in his Therian form was something else entirely. Sloane was bigger, wider, stronger, faster, and generally more powerful. As a Defense Agent for the THIRDS, Dex spent a good deal of time working out to keep up with his Therian teammates and the threats they faced out in the field. The rest of his workout came in the bedroom with Sloane. Not that Dex was complaining. If Sloane wanted to manhandle him, Dex would not only take it, he’d ask for more.

  Dex closed his fingers around fistfuls of Sloane’s hair as their kissing grew more desperate. He allowed Sloane to carry him over to the large couch and drop him down onto it. The weight of Sloane’s body against his had him painfully hard and Dex rushed to drag Sloane’s T-shirt over his head. He threw it off to the side, their breaths turning to panting as they frantically rutted against each other. Dex’s need was almost overwhelming as he watched Sloane fumble with his belt buckle, unfastening it before unzipping his jeans and pushing them down along with his boxer briefs to reveal his thick, hard cock. It was leaking precome and jutting up toward his stomach. The sight had Dex whimpering. He shimmied back until he was sitting up, his back against the armrest, his gaze shifting up to meet Sloane’s. When Sloane realized what he was doing, his pupils dilated, making Dex’s stomach flip and his body tremble with anticipation. Sloane made quick work of his clothes along with Dex’s boxer briefs so he could kneel over Dex, the tip of his cock pressing against Dex’s lips.

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