“You knew too huh?” Ash asked. He stepped closer, speaking to Mike from near Crandall’s right shoulder.
Mike hung his head, his chin nearly touching his chest as he took a slow, deep breath.
“You’re not my type,” Crandall said as he turned to face Ash again. “So don’t get any bright ideas.” He jabbed a finger against Ash’s chest until Ash stepped back out of his personal space.
“What’s your type?” Ash asked with a teasing smile.
“I am.” They all turned to stare at Mike. Crandall’s expression the most shocked of the three of them.
“Look, I’d appreciate if this stayed between us,” Mike said. “I know I don’t have to ask, but, yeah…okay?” He fidgeted, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, and running his hand through his hair until he hit the elastic and pulled it free.
“You and him?” Ash asked jerking a thumb at Crandall. “No fucking way.”
“Is it that fucking hard to believe?” Crandall said.
“I…” Ash snapped his mouth shut, but couldn’t repress the grin. He shook his head. “I guess so. I rarely swear.” He laughed, and then walked up to Mike who still looked everywhere but at his fellow hunters. “How long?”
Mike started, and then met Ash’s eyes without saying a word. Emotions churned through his expression as he struggled for some semblance of control after his confession.
“Since I was bit,” Crandall said.
“I knew it!”
“How could you?” Mike asked softly, his brows veeing together in confusion.
Ash slapped his shoulder. “You’ve been in a much better mood since then. I thought it was weird given how protective you are of him, but now it makes sense. The protectiveness and the glow.”
“I’m not glowing,” Mike said with grumbled words.
Crandall laughed. “You’re not now. Shit, Mike, and you say you’re not embarrassed.”
“I’m not,” he said. “I just don’t want to deal with the haters.”
Dragon stepped up, his voice low and calm, but his eyes crinkled with faint amusement. “You’re red as Crandall’s hair. You have to know we’re not going to judge.”
“I know,” Mike said softly.
“What about that girl?” Ash asked turning toward Crandall. “Mike said you were dating your guitarist.”
“Bassist,” Crandall said. “She’s more a wolverine than a girl. Fucking bitch.”
“Yes, that one.” Ash nodded and kept his grin to a minimum.
“We were a thing and now we’re not,” Crandall said. “Mike’s more my type. She was just there, and she gave good head.”
“Does Mike give good head?”
Mike lunged at Ash. Ash danced out of the way, laughing off his question. He raised his arms defensively, but didn’t strike back as Mike dove at him again.
Crandall snickered and shouted to be heard over the scuffle. “Yes, he does, and much better than Beryl.”
Freezing in his place, Mike hung his head for a moment, and then turned to face Crandall. “Can we not talk about this now?” he pleaded.
Crandall walked up to him and wrapped his arms around Mike’s neck. He threaded his fingers through Mike’s hair and then kissed him. Mike tensed, but then relaxed into the kiss. He raised his hands to Crandall’s hips, and then sneaked his fingers under the hem of his T-shirt to tease the warm skin underneath.
Ash hooted and then whistled. When Crandall opened his mouth and Mike chased his tongue at the invitation, Ash hooted again, and then said, “Okay already, get a room!”
With fingers tangled in Mike’s hair, Crandall pulled him away from the kiss. Mike snarled and whispered, “Don’t.”
“You already did,” Crandall said. He closed his eyes and rested his forehead against Mike’s. When he opened his eyes he relaxed his grip, but kept his hands on Mike. Only loud enough for Mike to hear, he whispered, “Thank you.”
With a start, Mike frowned, and then relaxed and offered Crandall a weak smile. “Just here,” he said. “I trust these guys with my life.”
“Me too.” Crandall tugged him into another brief kiss and then pushed him away and raised his fists. “Okay,” he said glancing at the other two. “Whose turn is it to get his ass kicked inside out?”
“Yours,” Ash said.
Crandall turned to face him. After a second, he dropped into a deeper defensive crouch and adjusted the angle of his arms protecting his body. “Like this?” Crandall asked.
Ash nodded once. He lifted his fists and said, “Now hit me.”
“With fucking pleasure.” Crandall grinned, and Ash laughed. The tension lifted, not only from what Maximian had left behind, but from lingering doubts among the four of them as well.
Next up: Almost Agreement