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Barrett was walking through the town plaza when he saw it.

On the west side, Max and Kyle were engaged in conversation. Nothing unusual. Both men were notoriously social and likely started chatting when they ran into each other. Barrett didn’t think much of it, only hoping he could pass by them without either one trying to rope him into the conversation.

But then it happened. Something so strange Barrett stopped in his tracks to watch.

Max’s eyes lit up, which, after years of knowing him, Barrett knew meant he was going to do something mischievous. Then Max leaned forward, so close it looked like his lips were brushing Kyle’s ear.

That’s what had Barrett catching his breath and faltering his step. What was Max doing? Neither man had seen Barrett yet, so did they think they were alone? Not that he knew much about that kind of stuff, but wasn’t Max being kind of… flirty?

Barrett felt his face go hot, which didn’t make sense. If someone tried to get in his personal space like that he’d probably punch them.

Probably being the key word there. If Max was the one doing it he wouldn’t punch him. But only because they’re kind of friends. Barrett could admit that. Out of all the guys in town, he and Max had grown up together the longest. There were slightly different boundary rules with Max.

Not that Barrett would ever want Max to do… whatever that was.

When Barrett snapped out of his thoughts he saw Max had already pulled back and a very flustered Kyle was walking away. Before Barrett could even think of escape, he and Max made eye contact.

Damn it.

With a large grin and a friendly wave, Max walked over. Barrett suppressed a groan.

“Hello, Barrett,” Max said as he approached. “How are you this beautiful afternoon?”

“Fine,” Barrett huffed. He didn’t feel the need to add anything else.

Max borderline pouted. “What has you behaving like an untamed Buffamoo today?”

Before Barrett could stop and think about his body language, his eyes darted to where Kyle could faintly be seen before disappearing altogether. Max followed his eyes, quirking an eyebrow when he saw what Barrett was looking at. “Kyle?” he asked. “Did Kyle do something to upset you?”

Max sounded genuinely upset at the thought of that being the case. Which would make sense, if Max was interested in Kyle. Barrett’s stomach clenched. “No,” he tried to cover up.

Max didn’t look like he believed him even a little, so Barrett tried changing the subject instead. “What, uh, what were you and Kyle talking about?”

Confusion stood out on Max’s face for a brief moment. Then, he lit up. Why that was, Barrett didn’t know, but he didn’t like the knowing look in Max’s eyes. “Oh, Barrett, I was just teasing him.”

Barrett almost hated to ask. “About what?”

The smile on Max’s face was devilish. Then, he leaned forward.

For some reason, Barrett didn’t stop him. He let Max lean close enough that he could feel the other man’s breath on his cheek, and yet he didn’t stop there. Max leaned into Barrett’s space until his lips were almost brushing Barrett’s ear, like he had done to Kyle only minutes earlier. It sent chills down his back and he felt his face heat up again. Why that was, Barrett still didn’t understand.

“It’s a secret,” Max whispered in Barrett’s ear. He then leaned back, winked one of his big blue eyes, and sauntered off towards the manor.

And Barrett was left wondering what the hell just happened.