Today I am so pleased to welcome Charlie Cochet to Joyfully Jay for Friends & Enemies to Lovers Week. Charlie has come to talk to us about friends and enemies to lovers in her THIRDS series. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Hello all! Thank you so much for joining me here today. Friends to Lovers and Enemies to Lovers are two of my favorite themes in romance. Thanks to the THIRDS series and its large cast ensemble, I get to have fun with both these themes. Our main heroes, Dexter J. Daley and jaguar Therian (shifter) Sloane Brodie start off as enemies in Hell & High Water (THIRDS, Book 1). They may not be enemies in the traditional sense, as they’re on the same team, and both good guys, but there is certainly no affection there at the start.
Dex has just been recruited to the THIRDS where he’s to join Destructive Delta, taking the place of one of their teammates killed on duty. Dex is aware of what that means. He knows it’s not going to be easy. Boy, is that the understatement of the year. When Dex crashes into Sloane’s life—quite literally—Sloane has no idea what to make of him. His reaction to discovering Dex is his new partner isn’t what Dex had been hoping to hear.
Sloane glanced up sharply. Oh fuck no. “You?” He gaped at the blond man bitching and cursing as he got up.
“You don’t have to look so happy about it,” Dex muttered, brushing himself off.
It couldn’t be. “This has to be a mistake.”
“Try using your inside voice. Less awkward.”
Cael ran over and grabbed Dex’s arms. “Are you okay? I was in the bathroom when I heard what happened. The minute they said “crazy guy” I knew it was you.”
“You’re Detective Daley?” Sloane still couldn’t believe it. This couldn’t be the same guy Maddock was always talking about. Impossible.
“Agent Dexter J. Daley. You can call me Dex.” Dex put his hands on his hips and looked around the stupefied team with a broad grin. “So which one of you is my new partner?” Everyone turned to Sloane and the smile fell off Dex’s face. “This day just gets better and better.”
“Absolutely not.” Sloane shook his head, as if doing so would make the whole disturbing problem disappear. This was not acceptable. He understood he was going to be dealing with a rookie, but this, this…. No.
From there things only go from bad to worse, and the more Dex stands up to Sloane, the more annoyed Sloane gets. There’s something about Dex that gets under his skin, and he hates it.
Instead of punching him, [Sloane] delivered another slap to his cheek. Dex let out a frustrated growl and tried to push away from him.
“Stop doing that!”
“Ooh, Rookie’s got a bit of a temper.” Sloane ruffled Dex’s hair, pissing him off further.
“Aw, isn’t he cute,” Ash teased from the end of the mat.
“Fuck you, Simba!”
Rosa burst into laughter and Ash glared at her. “Are you fucking serious?” He turned back to Sloane with a scowl. “You better kick his ass.”
Dex struggled in Sloane’s grip. “Come on, Rookie. Is this the best you got?”
“This isn’t fighting,” Dex spat out. “This is you being a prick.”
Sloane shrugged. “Either way, I’ve seen what you can do and I gotta say, it’s pretty uninspiring.”
“Uninspiring, huh?” Dex pulled back a fist and Sloane released him, jumping back and narrowly missing Dex’s fist, his knuckles brushing Sloane’s crotch. Sloane gaped at Dex.
“You were going to punch me in the nuts?”
“You said it yourself. This isn’t a fight, so yeah. And I would have enjoyed it too.”
“Hey, watch it.” Sloane stormed up to Dex who held his ground, his chin lifted defiantly. Rookie had nerve, but he needed to learn his place. Sloane grabbed him, hauled him off his feet and slammed him into the mat. “Stay the fuck down, if you know what’s good for you.”
Sloane is determined to drive Dex off the team, but Dex is having none of it. No matter how angry and frustrated he gets, he’s not about to let Sloane win. Once he starts to work Sloane out, to understand why he’s being such a jerk, Dex changes tactics, using his charm, cheerful attitude, and humor to show Sloane that being friends—and perhaps more—is a lot more fun than being enemies.
In the THIRDS series and also on team Destructive Delta, we have Calvin Summers and tiger Therian Ethan Hobbs. These two have been best friends and inseparable since they were kids. Calvin has always been Ethan’s champion, standing up for him when he couldn’t do so for himself. Ethan suffers from Selective Mutism and Social Anxiety. There are very few people he can speak to, Calvin being one of them.
The two grew up in rough neighborhoods with very little. Every day was a struggle, whether at home, at school, or on the streets. Their bond became unbreakable as they lived through hardship and heartache. But somewhere along the line, things changed for Calvin…
“Everything was cool between us. We’d never been closer. Then last year, we had this big Fourth of July party at our apartment, and both of us got shitfaced. We hooked up with these guys, the four of us in Hobbs’s bedroom, and everything was fine until Hobbs started fucking this guy. He was blond, about my height and size. I bolted. I couldn’t be in the same room while he screwed that guy.”
“He caught me one afternoon in the hall, and when he tried to apologize, as if he was the reason I was acting like such an asshole, I lost it. I told him I didn’t want him fucking anyone else because… of how I felt about him. I couldn’t say the words, mostly because until the explosion, I couldn’t say exactly what it was I felt. I told him somewhere along the way, things had changed. The way I felt about him changed. I thought I was going to lose my mind waiting for him to say something. In the end, he hugged me and said we’d work it out.” Calvin let out a heavy sigh.
“He’s scared we’ll lose our friendship. I tried to tell him it would never happen. If things didn’t work out, I’d never stop being his best friend.”
For Ethan, Calvin is his whole world, and the thought of losing him is something he can’t even fathom. Change is also difficult for Ethan. Through the first five books in the THIRDS series, we see how their relationship begins to change, but it isn’t until Rise & Fall, that Ethan finally does something about it. The thought of losing Calvin to another guy pushes Ethan to react, and the result is rather explosive. By their book, Catch a Tiger by the Tail (THIRDS, Book 6), Calvin and Ethan have kissed, and even fooled around, but Calvin still doesn’t know where he stands with Ethan, yet he’s patient, willing to wait for Ethan no matter how heartbreaking it is for him.
“I’ll wait. However long it takes, I can wait. You know I’d never push you to do something you weren’t comfortable with.”
As much as Ethan tries to fight it, he realizes things have changed for him too.
A lump formed in Ethan’s throat. Unlike most people he’d met in his life, Ethan had managed to talk to Calvin. He’d felt drawn to him, comfortable and safe. When he was a kid, he’d pray every night that Calvin would always be with him. He loved Calvin, always had. Only now it was different. The softness of his skin, the plumpness of his lips, the blue of his eyes, his laugh, and his smile stirred emotions inside him he hadn’t felt before. Tentatively, Ethan ran his fingers down Calvin’s jaw. You’re amazing.
Throughout the THIRDS series there several couples who fall into the themes of Friends to Lovers or Enemies to Lovers. The possibilities for these two themes are endless, and so very exciting! There’s something amazing about watching these guys trying to fight their hardest not to give in. To see the emotional and sexual tension grow as the walls get chipped away.
What do you love about these themes?
Calvin Summers and Ethan Hobbs have been best friends since childhood, but somewhere along the line, their friendship evolved into something more. With the Therian Youth Center bombing, Calvin realizes just how short life can be and no longer keeps his feelings for his best friend a secret. Unfortunately, change is difficult for Ethan; most days he does well to deal with his Selective Mutism and Social Anxiety. Calvin’s confession adds a new struggle for Ethan, one he fears might cost him the friendship that’s been his whole world for as long as he can remember.
As partners and Defense Agents at the THIRDS, being on Destructive Delta is tough at the best of times, but between call-outs and life-threatening situations, Calvin and Ethan not only face traversing the challenges of their job, but also working toward a future as more than friends.
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 Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!
Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! 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.