by BRK

 It’s 1999, and Glenn, until now kept from his heritage, uncovers what it means to be a Sheridan. Fortunately, he has his closest friend, Eamon, at his side.

Added: Nov 2021 Updated: 12 Mar 2022 14,011 words 5,335 views 5.0 stars (12 votes) Parts of this story were commissioned via Patreon Story Commission.

Author’s Note

This story is a prequel to “Love/Shift”, exploring the transformation of Maxfield’s father, Glenn, as a young man. Though the tales are closely related I’ll endeavor to make “Mountainheart” stand on its own and readable independently of “Love/Shift” (and its sequel, “Finding Owen”).


Glenn Sheridan Davison hauled himself slowly out of the 50-meter, ten-lane UNH pool, knowing everyone was watching as his hard, hairless, essentially perfect body emerged inch by glistening inch from the sloshing azure water, droplets of glinting moisture trickling over all the sculpted contours of his beautifully defined muscles and gently tanned skin. Glenn knew the effect he had on people. Smooth, tautly-muscled, and slyly handsome, he not only looked like a centerfold in an upmarket horny-gals’ magazine, he’d actually been one (Essential, just a few months back in the September 1998 issue—and hadn’t that made coming back for his sophomore year interesting). He relished the desire he ignited in women and men alike no matter where he was. Swim meets, classes, restaurants, dorm hallways—everywhere he went, eyes followed him, and Glenn did not mind at all.

A few random cheers went up from the little knots of girls—and a few boys—watching the practice from the bleachers as he climbed to his feet and straightened to his full 6-foot-3, knowing the round, heavy bulge of his red Speedos (subtly impressive but not obscene) was exciting a few appreciative stares and whispers along with his tight washboard abs, firm square pecs, long swim-honed limbs, and piercing honey-brown eyes. He grinned cockily and glanced over to meet the gaze of one spectator in particular near the end of the first row, his best friend Eamon Conroy, casually showing off his rounded biceps with a run of his fingers through his lank, dark-brown hair just to complete the picture. Eamon responded in kind by ostentatiously pretending to adjust a massive erection in the snug black track pants he always wore. If ever a man could pull off a sarcastic boner, it was Eamon, Glenn thought.

Glenn snorted a laugh and quickly turned away, padding off to talk to his coach near the exit to the locker rooms instead. He might be straight, but Eamon did funny things to him, and he knew from experience not to let himself get too caught up in the huge forestry major’s dark, smoldering eyes or his powerful, hairy physique that seemed to strain whatever he was wearing—especially when Glenn himself had on nothing but a pair of skimpy, and very stretchable, swim togs. Anyway, the last meet of the spring was coming up, and Glenn knew better than to slide into overconfidence. The team was counting on him, and that was a responsibility he did not take lightly.

Half an hour later, coached and showered, he met up with Eamon in the athletic center’s main lobby. He was decked out in his favorite broken-in, butt-hugging jeans, chunky brown boots, a loose, crisp, extra-bright white tee, and bright blue windbreaker, and, Eamon, most of the way through a firm, juicy-looking apple, paused in his people-watching to give Glenn a very thorough once-over. Glenn tried not to preen, even as he took his own opportunity to drink in the big guy’s reassuringly solid stillness.

“Hey,” Eamon greeted him as he approached, his rich bass a perfect match for his dark, stubbly good looks, bulky muscles, and the jet-black body hair covering every inch of him from his collarbones to his toe-knuckles. His heavy, long-sleeved black and gray baseball tee not only failed to restrain the proliferation of hair at his collar and wrists but seemed to be visibly pushed out by the industrial-strength follicles blanketing his ponderous pecs and thick-set arms, just as they did the rest of him. Eamon’s hairiness was so legendary, Glenn had actually introduced himself to his two-years-ahead down-the-hall dormmate and future best bud at breakfast one morning a year and a half back just to see if the five-o’clock shadow he’d noticed Eamon sporting at noon most days would start coming out from the big man’s clean-shaven face in the course of his inhaling two servings of cafeteria pancakes, an entire fruit plate, and an extra-large bowl of Apple Jacks. (It had.)

Eamon got the usual jokes, too. One of his senior buddies razzed him about supposedly never being around during full moons, thereby proving Eamon was a secret werewolf, but Eamon would only scoff and say any wolves he met would turn tail and flee into the woods, whimpering in terror. That always got a laugh. Glenn could kind of see it happening that way, too.

“Nice form today,” Eamon told him, still looking him over.

Glenn smirked and wiggled his eyebrows (known among his admirers for their lushness and mobility). “Nice form every day,” he corrected.

“Douche,” Eamon said quietly, though he was smiling as he stood up. He kept standing up, and up, until he was dwarfing Glenn in height as well as width and general bigness. Glenn felt a familiar tingling in his balls as he looked up into those strange coal-black eyes and breathed in Eamon’s musk. Something in Glenn wanted to tease and subjugate this man, and the more time they spent together, the more amenable he was to giving it a shot. The admiring looks his friend gave him and his attentive behavior, including routine attendance at practices as well as meets whenever his schedule allowed, suggested to Glenn that Eamon might just be as hung up on him as he was on Eamon. Though Eamon being fearlessly and openly bisexual—who was going to beat him up?—probably simplified things for the larger man.

They started walking together through the lobby and out onto the sunlit campus, unconsciously keeping step despite Eamon’s longer legs. “Still coming to commencement, centerfold boy?” Eamon asked, tossing his apple core in a garbage bin as they passed.

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Glenn said, nudging Eamon’s granite shoulder with his own. He very much wanted to see Eamon at one of the parties afterwards, proud, liberated from college, and drunk off his ass. “Any idea yet what you’re doing afterward?”

Eamon said nothing, which was more or less what Glenn had expected. His friend had been reticent all spring about his post-graduation plans and had ignored various job prospects, despite stellar grades and enthusiastic professors. Glenn had picked up a few hints that his family was pressuring him to return home and take up a role in the family lumber business, but Eamon never talked about his kin or where he came from. All Glenn knew was that they were both originally from the same general area, the sparsely populated mountain forests up north; but seeing as how Glenn’s aunt and uncle had raised him down south in Manchester and had angrily refused to ever talk about Glenn’s parents or family history “up in the wilds” he was, basically, exactly as in the dark about his own origins as he was about Eamon’s.

He could sure picture his friend up in the mighty climbing woods of the White Mountains, though, probably shirtless and building himself even bigger over months in the wild, until he was heaving boulders aside and pulling down small trees with his bare hands. It was obvious he’d be almost literally in his element up there, and Glenn often wondered what made him reluctant to go back.

For that matter, Glenn kind of liked the thought of roaming the mountains shirtless himself, breathing in the clean mountain air and doing his morning push-ups with such nature-inspired zeal and ferocity he’d end up strong enough to pull down a tree or two himself. Ridiculous, sure, but, at the same time, oddly appealing…

But none of that was happening, and he felt a compulsion to sort things out for his friend. They turned onto the path leading to their dorm, one of the newer ones on the campus expansion. They could hit the mailroom on the way. His aunt liked to send him cookies and miscellaneous baked goods in large quantities, and Eamon, whose tight 36-inch waist was, unlike Glenn’s, apparently rock-solid and un-budgeable no matter how much he ate, was more than happy to help him take care of these whenever they appeared. “Well,” he continued, glancing up at Eamon, “if you want to hang out in Manch with us, you know you’re welcome.”

Eamon did not respond. “You can… always work with me at the Sears,” Glenn went on, filling the silence. “Uncle Bram’d give you a job in receiving like a shot the second he got a look at you.”

“Thanks,” Eamon said tersely, though without anger. Glenn didn’t blame him for his lack of enthusiasm; he guessed Eamon wasn’t any more excited about hauling boxes at Sears, Roebuck than he was about cashiering there. For him, at least, it would be just a summer job before he headed back to UNH in the fall—without Eamon. That thought bugged him. A lot. More than he had realized it would. And what would his friend be doing then? And where would he be doing it?

That bugged him, too, that Eamon’s future was so uncertain. He wanted to see Eamon secure and happy, and set for the future. Preferably somewhere close to wherever Glenn was. That would be… nice.

Ideal, actually. That would be fucking ideal.

There was indeed a package waiting for him at the mail center: a small box covered in old-fashioned plain brown paper. When they got back to Glenn’s dorm room and he took a closer look at it, though, he saw it wasn’t from Aunt Meg after all. “Sorry, bud, no cookies for you,” he said as Eamon followed him in, not quite having to duck under the jamb. As proof of his statement Glenn gestured with the package, which definitely weighed less than a consignment of baked goods, but more than an empty box. Something was in it, though he had no idea what other than that it wasn’t goodies from his aunt.

Eamon dropped into Glenn’s roommate’s desk chair anyway, eyeing the package hopefully. Glenn’s roomie had a double major and a serious girlfriend and was literally never home, so he and Eamon spent most of their time hanging out here rather than in Eamon’s cramped little single at the end of the hall.

“Could still be food,” the big man said optimistically. “Who’s it from?”

Glenn read the neatly-written return address on the airbill aloud, frowning as he did so. “Elijah Paxton, Esq., Paxton Law Office, Stark, New Hampshire…” Neither the name nor the town meant anything to Glenn, but when he looked up at Eamon he saw that his friend had stilled and was eyeing him almost suspiciously.

“Why are you getting mail from Stark?” Eamon asked after a slow moment. His tone was dark, as if he suspected some kind of betrayal.

Glenn held his gaze, confused. “I don’t know, dude,” he said cautiously.

Eamon’s eyes narrowed. “Your middle name is Sheridan,” he said. “You… are you a Sheridan?”

Glenn didn’t answer. He’d ended up with his uncle’s name, but he knew it was his aunt he was related to. And her maiden name was, in fact, Sheridan—a detail to which he’d never had reason to ascribe the slightest importance until this moment. He still had no idea what “a Sheridan” meant to Eamon, other that it connected with Eamon’s “back home”—which was now revealed, apparently, to be a town somewhere upstate that Glenn had never heard of. Although… his uncle had mentioned Stark once, in an angry phone conversation he hadn’t been meant to overhear about Glenn growing up “normal” away from “those influences”, but at the time he’d thought Stark was a last name. Glenn had always tacitly assumed he was being kept away from super-gay relatives—or maybe-super-homophobic ones—but now he wasn’t so sure.

Eamon was angry now. “You never told me you were from the Mountain,” he persisted accusingly, and it was clear that there was one particular Mountain that was meant. “You never told me you were mountain folk!”

“Whoa, whoa,” Glenn said gently, moving closer and sitting on the side of his bed, directly opposite his friend. He still had the box in his hand, but his eyes were on Eamon. He would have sworn he could smell the man’s conflicted distress—an odd notion that filled him with a flush of very inappropriate arousal, which he ruthlessly suppressed. He met Eamon’s heated gaze, mentally willing his friend to cycle down. Glenn was consumed with curiosity to know just why his giant buddy was so upset, but the overriding need was to calm Eamon down and reassure him of their friendship.

“Dude, I don’t know anything about a Mountain, or mountain folk, or whatever the hell is in this,” he told him, exhibiting the package again, keeping his voice smooth and steady as he kept hold of Eamon’s gaze. If beauty was ever good for something, he thought, let it be as good as music for soothing the savage breast.

Eamon watched him and made a visible effort to compose himself, though he still seemed wary and on edge. “Trust me,” Glenn insisted, “you know as much about my past as I do.”

Which was true enough. He was not usually very exercised about that fact, but now that his mysterious backstory was inserting itself between him and Eamon he had room in the back of his head for a bit of resentment toward his aunt and uncle… and whomever else he might be related to that had played a part in keeping him in the dark about something that mattered to him and Eamon.

Eamon’s eyes dropped to the package. Glenn looked down, then wordlessly got up and grabbed the scissors from his desk drawer before sitting down again opposite Eamon. It took some doing, as the scissors were old and scarred, but he soon had the brown paper off, revealing the box within: a two-inch-tall, one-foot-square repurposed corrugated shipping box for Gardner’s Patented Fruit Chaw, of all things. On one flap was a scuffed and slightly yellowed label hand-addressed to someplace called Wentworth’s Dry Goods, also in Stark.

He snorted. Chaw? Dry goods? “I think this was sent to me from the past,” he joked as he aimed one of the blunted points of his scissors at the clear tape sealing the box closed.

“Things don’t change much there,” Eamon muttered, still staring at the box. Glenn eyed him briefly but asked no questions.

Inside the shallow box were three items. The first was an official-looking white envelope bearing a typed address—his, care of the college—with a pre-printed return address in the top-left corner in raised, dark-blue ink matching the address on the exterior shipping label, the lawyer’s name on the first line gussied up in a fine, pretentious script. Under that missive was another envelope, this one pale lavender and squarer, like it came from a lady’s stationery set. Glenn’s name and address was written on the front in green ink, in a hand so smooth and assured it was like calligraphy. Below both of these items in the box was a sealed 11 x 5 manila envelope containing something long, thick, and hefty.

Glenn opened the letter from the lawyer first. He hesitated only briefly before reading it aloud. The necessity of Eamon’s trust in that moment was something he didn’t question.

“Dear Mr. Davison,” he read. “I regret to be the one to have to inform you that your paternal grandfather, Mr. James Maxfield Sheridan—” He sensed Eamon’s slight start at this name, but didn’t look up and continued, “—has unfortunately suffered an untimely death.” Hmph, he thought. He’d finally had a grandfather, for two seconds. He wondered if he should be having a more intense reaction to his previously anonymous ancestor suddenly having turned up dead.

“His demise,” he continued reading, “occurred at the hands of a hunter illegally pursuing bear as game on Mill Mountain, a protected reserve under both state and federal law.”

At Eamon’s low, almost inaudible growl he looked up. Eamon met his gaze, and they stared at each other for a beat. “You know who that is?” he asked unnecessarily, remembering his friend’s reaction to the name of his grandfather. “James Maxfield Sheridan?”

Eamon didn’t bother answering. Instead he countered, “Does it say what happened to the hunter?”

Glenn looked back down at the letter and scanned ahead. “Found mauled on the main mountain road an hour later,” he summarized. Eamon grunted in approval, and after another glance at his friend over the top of the page he continued reading with the next paragraph.

“As the whereabouts of your father and the presumptive heir, Mr. Michael James Sheridan, are unknown at this time—” Glenn paused, stuck on the surprising word “unknown” for a moment, then resumed reading. “—this leaves you, as sole legal descendant, in the role of default executor and usus possessor of James Sheridan’s property, real and otherwise, full possession of which to be resolved in the event of Michael Sheridan being either found or declared legally dead. I should be happy to consult with you on the latter question should you wish to explore it further.”

“I’ll bet,” Eamon muttered unexpectedly. “Fucking town folk.”

Glenn decided to ask about the various ‘folk’ and what Eamon thought about them later. “Owing to the legal implications of the above-described inheritance and responsibilities,” he read, “it is imperative that you come personally to Stark to take formal possession of the Sheridan land and dwellings, as well as incidental material of a nature that renders it unsuitable for shipping. I look forward to meeting you and apprising you of the details of your inheritance and responsibilities at your earliest possible convenience. Yours sincerely, Elijah Paxton, Esq., with enclosures.”

“Huh,” Eamon said. When Glenn looked at him, he added sourly, “It’s good land. Up-mountain. You should probably go and make sure the wrong people don’t get their claws on it.”

“The wrong people,” Glenn repeated dubiously, not liking the phrase. “You mean, ‘town folk’?”

“Pfft,” Eamon scoffed. “They wouldn’t last a week up-mountain.”

Glenn decided he was too in the dark just now to navigate all of Eamon’s coded vitriol, so he set aside the letter from the lawyer and opened the lavender envelope. Inside was a letter on elegant matching stationery, handwritten in the same green-hued ink and graceful script as had been used for the address. Aside from the letter, the envelope also contained a large color snapshot of a man standing in front of a well-built mountain cabin. The man was tall, shirtless, and powerfully built, maybe bigger than Eamon and just as hairy. He was also startlingly handsome, the gray at the temples of his shoulder-length chestnut hair almost the only sign he was maybe a generation older than the thirty-something Glenn would have assumed him to be at first glance. The faceless grandfather was faceless no more, he thought. Near James Sheridan’s feet in the photo sat a stern-looking brown and black German shepherd, glaring comically at the camera as though he were daring the photographer to snap more photos of him.

He set the picture aside with a smile and turned back to the letter, again reading it aloud for Eamon’s benefit.

“Dearest Glenn,” it said. “You don’t know me at all, of course, but I was a close friend of your grandpappy’s, and your pappy’s too. I’d say I hope you grew up well, but I have no doubt that with their blood in you, you turned out to be a fine and beautiful specimen of a man.”

He glanced at Eamon, twitching his famously expressive eyebrows. “What do you think? Is she right?”

Eamon raised one of his own dark, finger-thick brows. “Just read the letter,” Eamon groused, but the edges of his lips were quirking, so Glenn called it a win.

“I’ll save my condolences for when we meet in person,” he read, “which I hope is soon—it’s vital we meet before the next full moon in three weeks.” That seemed weird, and he sensed Eamon still again at the mention of the coming full moon. He went on: “I’m sending you your grandpappy’s knife, since that’s the one thing you’ll need that won’t wait. Keep it on you always. I’ve bullied that old blowhard, Elijah, into sending it along with his letter and mine, in the hopes that you will be prepared when the time comes. You’ll understand. He’d better have done so, too, or he’ll answer to me. You may hear something about a preparation ritual when you get here, but it’s vital you speak to me first.”

Weirder and weirder. Rituals? “Prepared when the time comes”? He was starting to doubt the woman’s sanity.

There wasn’t much left to the letter. “I’ll tell you the rest when you get here,” it read. The rest? She hadn’t told him anything. “See you soon! Safe travels!” the letter finished. “Love, Virginia.”

“Virginia!” Eamon exclaimed, sounding surprised. “Virginia Clement?”

Glenn turned over the cryptically nutty letter and the envelope, then shrugged. “Just says Virginia.” When Eamon said nothing else he set them aside as well and retrieved the third item from the box. Now that he knew what it was, he could tell that the heavy manila envelope contained a knife, and not the kind you buttered English muffins with.

He tore open the end carefully and reached in to withdraw a wood-gripped fixed-blade hunting knife in a black leather sheath. Settling the envelope aside Glenn pulled off the sheath in wonder, revealing a wide, gleaming steel blade that had to be a good seven inches in length from crossbar to tip. The top third or so of the unedged side dipped inward in a shallow but elegant clip point. “‘Now that’s a knoife’,” Glenn drawled, clasping the grip firmly as he turned the blade this way and that, watching it catch the light.

Eamon’s brows drew together. “Huh?”

Glenn was about to explain when suddenly he felt his heart tighten and expand at the same time. Fire poured through all his veins, forcing a hard gasp of shock out of him. His muscles and skin seemed to shiver and itch as if he were being flooded with an unknown force. His body seized, his grip on the knife so hard now his fingertips were turning white.

Eamon was out of his chair and grasping his arms tightly, trying to catch his stare. “Glenn! Glenn, listen to me,” he said. “It’s okay. Just breathe slowly and let it flow through you.”

Glenn still felt like blazing heat was tearing though him—arms, chest, eyeballs, everywhere. His eyes flicked to the knife—but it wasn’t the knife, because the fire was coming from him.

“Look at me,” Eamon coached, his deep, soothing voice breaking through Glenn’s panic. Glenn locked onto those coal-black eyes and felt himself calming. “Breathe, Glenn. Breathe.” Glenn forced himself to breathe slowly, in and out, Eamon breathing with him. Though the heat did not abate his panic fell away, replaced, weirdly, with arousal as intense as the panic had been. He kept breathing, trying to ignore his flushed skin and growing erection.

They breathed together for another minute, Eamon still gripping him firmly, while Glenn held the knife tightly. “That’s it,” Eamon soothed. Glenn’s eyes must have been asking what the fuck had just happened, because Eamon reluctantly explained. “This is you. Your true self coming out. You are mountain folk after all,” he said, sounding a little awed and strangely relieved, given his earlier agitation.

Glenn stared at him, not understanding. “Your animal nature was bound, using your grandfather’s knife as the talisman,” Eamon said. “Now that you have touched the knife, it will be unleashed totally at the next full moon.” He looked Glenn over worriedly. “You are not ready,” he added, as if Glenn had been measured and come up woefully short. He was suddenly acutely conscious again of their difference in size. Compared to a big hairy giant like Eamon, it was not difficult to imagine not measuring up.

Glenn was starting to feel overwhelmed. He’d had a hyperventilation attack once as a kid, and he was afraid he might be on the verge of another. “Ready for what?” he asked, a little hysterically. “What do you mean, ‘animal nature’? What the hell are ‘mountain folk’?”

Eamon, still gripping him reassuringly by the arms, held his gaze for a long moment. “Glenn,” he said, “you are a were-creature. Your nature is half bear, half man. Someday you will have to choose, and embrace the animal.” He drew in a breath, his lips twisting crookedly. “It is what the Sheridans of the Mountain are and have always been. The Sheridans… and the Conroys.”

Glenn, still feeling bathed in fire of all kinds, still hand the wit to understand his meaning. “You—?” he asked. Eamon nodded, and suddenly Glenn let out a long breath. He didn’t understand what was happening to him, but the fact that he had Eamon to go through it with made the rest of it almost not matter.

He grinned, and Eamon grinned too, stoking Glenn’s sudden desire, though the big man’s expression was still one of concern. “You will have to become stronger, much stronger. Strong enough to survive the transition,” he said. “I will help,” he added, and Glenn knew it was no casual offer of assistance. When Eamon promised something like that it was a vow he would do anything to fulfill. A vow to what, though? Become stronger, before the full moon? Three weeks. How did he become stronger in three weeks? Glenn remembered the ritual Virginia had mentioned in her letter, and gulped.

But he would have to ask later, because right now his body was increasingly, unbearably consumed with lust, and his long, heavy, much-speculated-about cock was surging recklessly in his underwearless jeans, spitting hot precum on his bare thigh underneath.

He licked his lips, holding Eamon’s gaze, drinking in his scent, his allure. He could almost feel the brush of that stubble on his own smooth, hairless skin, the firmness of those hair-covered muscles under his appreciative tongue.

“This ‘animal nature’,” Glenn said, panting slightly. “Does it mean I’m suddenly going to be horny as fuck all the time?” His eyes fell to Eamon’s dark red lips. “The way I am right now?”

Eamon’s eyes somehow seemed to get even darker. “Yes,” the bigger man agreed in his deepest voice, right before their mouths finally crashed together in a searing, heart-shattering kiss.

Glenn was immeasurably grateful this was the last swim meet of the season. Ever since that afternoon he’d held the knife it was like his libido had ramped up fivefold from before. He was acutely conscious of the latent sensuality of those around him everywhere he went—classes, the dining hall, the movies, everywhere. Even his semester-end final exams this last week had been torture. He’d sat there in the lecture hall for his poli-sci course with a raging erection fighting for his attention, intensely aware of the movements of a hundred shoulders and backs under a hundred shirts and the shifting of every set of legs and butts as people scribbled frantically in their blue books all around him. He swore he could actually smell the physicality and allure of every man and woman in the room. He had no idea what he’d even written in his essays, though he was pretty sure he’d attributed sexual motives for just about everything covered in the course from the reforms of Kleisthenes to Franklin’s drafting of the Treaty of Paris.

That was bad enough, but two squads of lanky, wet, extremely fit swim-heads in skimpy Speedos? By the time his team had trounced their opponents from St. Cecil’s College and they were all padding back to their respective locker rooms even his usual go-to boner defuser, Madeleine Albright posing in a one-piece, was starting to fail him. As they hurried out of the pool area to the showers beyond he had room in his mind to be amazed that the usual rush of victory and the exhilaration of a cheering crowd and his own laughing, waving, back-slapping teammates was, incredibly, being rudely pushed aside by the mesmerizing metronome of Ashton Smith’s hard, round, undulating ass, hugged tightly in blue swim togs, directly in front of him as they hustled town the narrow, tiled corridor into the adjacent facilities.

And that wasn’t taking into account his best friend Eamon being out there in the crowd, watching Glenn with burning eyes, his passion always banked and ready. They’d made out helplessly a few times since that afternoon, but hadn’t done anything more, yet, and Glenn had been almost glad of his hectic semester-end schedule. It almost hurt how much he wanted to see Eamon naked and find out if he really wanted him. The idea made him quiver and his body stir. If he actually looked over right now toward the stands and saw that bearded lumberjack face there was no way he could stop the hard-on that was banging on his door right now, begging to be let out.

He couldn’t shower, he realized. Not when he was like this. If he took off his own Speedos right now it would be like pulling the cord on a fucking life raft. Getting squeaky clean and washing the chlorine off was a post-meet ritual he was loath to leave aside, but unleashing his inner sex-animal in the home-team locker room would be a… problematic end to a winning season.

Once they were in the locker room he went straight to his locker, trying not to look at anything, ignoring the rowdy celebratory play around him. He felt like he was halfway to a fugue state, his mind racing like a Lamborghini, his blood hot and torrential. He stared into the tall, narrow space, increasingly anxious as he fought off the flood of young, giddy, peak-potency masculinity all around him.

He wouldn’t even take off his Speedo. Too risky. He would just put on his street clothes over his togs and just walk out. No steamy, naked shower, no after-party at Remigio’s with the maleness building around him until his cock was so hard he could drill his own holes in the keg. He still didn’t know what to think of Eamon’s confession/explanation that they were both werecreatures, some complex amalgam of bear and man, but he could feel something in him, something raw and primal, aching to break free and rampage through this entire locker room, fucking every single beautiful man-ass in sight…

He swallowed hard and reached for his jeans, which were hanging from a beltloop on one of the hooks inside the locker. His gaze glanced off the knife he now wore with him everywhere attached to his belt via the built-in belt slots in the sturdy leather sheath. Thinking about the knife right now made him remember that sudden inner breakthrough of power and potency he’d experienced the moment he’d grasped the hilt. Even now that same feeling, unquenched and always burning, threatened to blaze again like a sun.

Someday you will have to choose, and embrace the animal…

“You were a real beast out there, Davison!” someone said, very close.

Glenn started, the words hitting uncomfortably close to his own inner thoughts. The speaker was a male presence immediately to his left; with some trepidation he turned his head to see Bobby Conway standing right next to him. Glenn gulped. He must have been rooted there spacing at his locker for longer than he’d realized, because Bobby was already wet from the shower, smelling of soap and radiating soft, steam-soaked heat from the hot spray he’d just been under. He was also completely, unselfconsciously naked, not a towel or Speedo in sight, showing off acres of tight, defined muscle under smooth, creamy, peanut-butter-colored skin. He was fringed along his sternum and around his heavy cock with black, wiry hair, and Glenn wanted to get close to it and huff, deep and long.

He forced himself to meet Bobby’s gaze. “A… beast?” he repeated, unable to form any thoughts under than don’t get hard… don’t get hard…

Bobby’s eyes were alight. “Yeah, man, you were killing it out there! Didn’t you see your numbers?” he said. “Total beast mode, dude!” He smirked and added, “No wonder your pec-hair’s coming out. You forget to shave your chest, cover boy?”

To Glenn’s amazement Bobby lifted his hand and started brushing the crook of his index finger over the gently curved swell of Glenn’s much-admired pecs, riffling the thin, brown hairs there—hairs that Glenn had never had before today. He stared down, following the stroking of Bobby’s finger in wonder. Naturally hairless from his ears to his belly button since early puberty had struck him at age nine, Glenn had always joked that his follicle-free torso was a sign from the gods that he was destined to be a champion swimmer, the next Mark Spitz or Matt Biondi. Now, all that was like it had never been. He could feel the movement of every hair as Bobby brushed over them. He was no Eamon yet—next to Eamon he was still as hairless as shaved balloon—but the hair he saw, though thin and new and far from dense, was spread over his pecs like a lawn that had been carefully seeded from sidewalk to flowerbed. It felt like virility, nascent and promising.

The animal fire surged in him as he looked up at Bobby. The other boy had been watching his own slow caress just like Glenn had, but he lifted his chin in perfect sync with Glenn, meeting his gaze, as if their bodies, or their volition, were somehow connected. Bobby’s hand dropped, and they stood before each other, inches apart, naked and mostly naked, aware of nothing but skin and muscle and heat. A minute, irrepressible sun seemed to rage inside Glenn, and he wasn’t sure its radiance wouldn’t leak out of him through every pore, setting the whole place ablaze. He couldn’t control anything. The potency saturated him, overcoming all of what he was.

Bobby stared into his eyes as if he could no longer look away. Glenn felt Bobby’s lust kindling inside him, and sensed without looking down the tentative swelling of Bobby’s thick, uncut member and the tautening of his loose-hanging balls.

Glenn felt himself staring even harder into Bobby’s deep, brown, infatuated eyes. Kiss me, he thought.

Bobby’s eyes dropped to Glenn’s mouth. As Glenn watched, the tip of Bobby’s tongue emerged, wet and pink, sliding along the intoxicating, wine-red surface of Bobby’s lips.

Bobby’s face moved irresistibly toward his.

“Hey! Conway! Davison! You guys coming or what?” someone yelled.

Glenn caught his breath, momentarily misprocessing the question in his current sexual haze. He watched as Bobby blinked like he was surfacing from a trance.

All of a sudden the sounds and smells of the locker room crashed over him like the Red Sea drowning the pharaoh’s armies. Bobby was still looking at him, but now he was just a normal, grinning teammate again—though Glenn could sense somehow that the lust Glenn had sparked in him had not yet dissipated, if it ever would.

“Yeah, get dressed, fools!” someone else called out. “There’s beer to be drunk and buxom fans to flirt with!”

Glenn was glad of the chance to look away from Bobby to see two of the guys, Hayes and Ramos, hanging back from the rest of the team, which was already in street clothes and piling out of the locker room, gabbling and exuberant. They were looking at Glenn and Bobby expectantly.

Glenn offered them a weak smile. “I’ll catch you guys up!” he said cheerily. As if, he thought. A confined space full of rowdy, hormonal athletes and their excited admirers, heady brew rapidly loosening their inhibitions? No fucking way was he getting anywhere near that, star of the meet or not.

Hayes and Ramos smiled and saluted. “Last one there buys the first round!” Ramos shouted over his shoulder as they left.

Glenn turned back to Bobby just in time to see his naked butt disappearing behind the end of the lockers. He stared after him, feeling, all of a sudden, weirdly alone and alien.

He turned back to his locker and reached in again for his jeans, confused and unnerved. Whatever that was that I did to him, he thought angrily, I am never doing that again, not ever. He only hoped his dick was as strong-willed as he was.

Eamon was nowhere to be found in the athletic center lobby, but his friend’s absence was explained as Glenn headed out to the building into the twilit parking lot. There, leaning against the passenger side of the sporty used-but-near-cherry blue-metallic second-gen Toyota MR2 that Glenn had barely managed to scrape together his modeling fees to obtain, was a large, shadowy figure that easily dwarfed the car, like Paul Bunyan reclining against Mount Rushmore. Glenn approached with a shiver of awe trickling up his spine, glad the dark-enshrouded figure was his friend. What would it be like to be the bad side of a brute like that? He gripped the shoulder strap of his gym-bag tightly.

“I don’t know how you talk me into getting into this matchbox,” Eamon growled playfully as he walked up. “It’s like a clown car that only fits one clown.”

Smiling brilliantly at him, Glenn diverted himself at the last minute toward the driver’s-side door. He was still feeling the heat of whatever had happened in the locker room. If he stood in front of Eamon now, there might be some increasingly X-rated footage rolling up on the athletic center’s security monitors before too long. Instead he put the car between them, winking at Eamon over the smooth, well-polished roof. “I just like seeing your knees pressed up against the glove box,” he said truthfully as he retrieved his keys from his pocket. “It’s kind of a turn-on.” Honestly, he might even have picked out his sexy blue “Mister 2” as much for how hot Eamon would look packed into the passenger seat as for its augmentation of Glenn’s own classically photogenic allure—at this point he wasn’t quite certain.

Eamon eyed him steadily. Glenn could tell he still wasn’t used to his friend flirting with him and meaning it, as he had been since that fateful package had arrived; but he definitely didn’t mind. “Yeah, well, when we go up to the Mountain tomorrow we’re taking my truck,” he said.

Glenn froze in the act of unlocking his door and looked up at Eamon in surprise. “Tomorrow?” he said, though the idea of them going up together felt just as unexpected. Eamon had promised to help, sure, but the truth was that Glenn had been so focused on facing the unknowns of his metaphorical journey, one that felt unique and singular to him, that he hadn’t thought much on literally getting up the mountain, or what he would do when he got there. A one-man path into the hidden forest of his own future, his own self, lay before him, and it was hard to imagine his bear of a friend crashing through the trees beside him.

Eamon was still regarding him seriously. “We agreed to stay as long as the meet,” he said patiently. “You were committed, and that’s fine. But that also means there’s only two and a half weeks now until the full moon, and you—are—not—ready.”

“How can I be ‘ready’ in two and a half weeks, though?” Glenn protested. “You said I’m not strong enough. Physical training doesn’t work that fast!”

“Get in the car.”

“No!” Glenn said, feeling truculent and out of his depth. “Seriously, E! How the fuck am I going to be ‘ready’ in that amount of time?”

Eamon looked around slowly, then bent forward and spoke in a low voice that carried only as far as where Glenn stood on the other side of the Toyota. “Our power—our spirit—comes from the Mountain,” he said. “We are one with the Mountain, and it with us. Being there while you train matters. And,” Eamon added, leaning forward still further, a strange light in his coal-black eyes, “there are other things you will need to do to gain your strength. Things that will have much greater potency with the Mountain beneath you.”

Glenn shivered again, this time all over. Just that word, “beneath”, hit him hard, and the implications he let himself hear in Eamon’s words slid through him like a double shot of whisky on an empty stomach. He felt violent desire sparking anew throughout his being, in his skin and his flesh and his very bones. His cock heated and swelled against the Speedos he still wore under his jeans.

Suddenly it felt wrong to be wearing clothes. The olive polo he wore, the one that went so well with his lush brown hair and honey-colored eyes, suddenly seemed to chafe. “I have chest hair now,” he confessed, a little breathlessly.

The interest in Eamon’s eyes was unmistakable. He waited.

“I kind of want to show it off,” he went on recklessly. He let his eyes drop to the black tee shirt barely containing Eamon’s bulkily muscled, thickly-pelted torso. “In fact, I may make a rule for our trip that we’re not allowed to wear shirts. Ever.”

Eamon smiled a buccaneer’s smile, predatory and leering. “Good,” he said. “Start now.”

Without thinking Glenn immediately grabbed the back of his shirt just under his nape and hauled it off his proudly-honed swimmer’s physique in a single fluid motion, like a curator whipping the dust-tarp off a classical statue of Apollo or Antinoös. He stood before Eamon, the car still between them, suppressing an urge to openly pant as he clutched the wadded-up shirt in his fist, watching and waiting.

Eamon’s smile widened, but only slightly. Then he brought up his two meaty paws and grasped the collar of his tee shirt on either side of his Adam’s apple. Glenn sucked in a ragged breath, anticipating with an inner thrill what he suddenly knew was coming next.

With one powerful, effortless-looking heave, Eamon ripped open his shirt straight down his front from neck to hem, exposing the thick-haired darkness of his heavy pecs and flat, stone-hard belly. The sound of the fabric being rent seemed to fill and reverberate through the mostly empty parking lot, as if, for that one moment, Eamon tearing open his shirt was the only sound in the universe. Glenn found he was rigidly, painfully hard in his Speedos, and he actually had to reach into his jeans and adjust himself with his free hand. The action did not go unnoticed, and Eamon’s leering smile quirked to one side.

Slowly and deliberately, Eamon divested his mighty shoulders and heavy arms of the shredded remains of his unfortunate black tee. To Glenn it was almost as though he were performing a solemn ritual, foreswearing the covering of his ponderous chest forever more. When his movements were complete he faced Glenn, rags in hand and still as stone, naked and imposing from the waist up, the heat of his presence eerily palpable across the insignificant car’s breadth separating them.

“That’s your first rule, then,” Eamon said in a low, rough voice. “No shirts.” His stare bore into Glenn as he added, “Got any more?” Glenn wasn’t sure if it was a challenge or an invitation.

Glenn could barely breathe. “I’ll let you know,” he answered, a little dazedly.

They had to go, or fuck. Or both. Glenn opened the car door, barely aware of what he was doing. He tossed his bag and shirt into the back before climbing in and reaching over the unlock the passenger side door. Silently, Eamon got into the car, and Glenn started the engine and pulled out of the parking lot, each of them more aware of the other than ever. As they purred around the ring road to the other side of campus where the dorms were Glenn was certain that some kind of threshold had been passed. His old life was slipping away, unrecoverable and increasingly arcane, and he still had no idea what lay ahead—though he sure hoped it involved relief for his overpowering lust in the arms of a burly, ultra-masculine were-brother.

They walked past the door to Eamon’s small single without pause. The dorm was still and silent, most of the students having already left for the summer, giving it a strange, post-Chernobyl sort of vibe. He half expected to turn a corner and see the roving flashlights from trios of intrepid, heavily-tattooed YouTube urbexers warily exploring the forgotten hulk of Caparasso Hall.

They got to Glenn’s door, Eamon’s presence like a six-foot-six space heater behind him. He swore his anus could feel the proximity of Eamon’s never-seen, often-imagined cock a bare hand’s-breadth away in the dim, quiet hallway. His eyes caught on a note from his roommate tacked to the bulletin board built into all the dorm’s room doors, wishing him luck at the meet and a good summer, and thanking him for always picking up his socks.

Glenn’s stomach fluttered. Definitely nothing to get in the way of what was about to happen now, he thought. He fished out his keys and almost dropped them before managing to unlock his door. He pushed it open and walked into the darkened room, Eamon right behind him. He didn’t flip on the lights, the faint, faraway luminance of the parking lot’s street lights below giving the room a graphic novel, silver-on-charcoal kind of feel.

“Come on in,” he said stupidly, like he was a realtor showing the place. He kept his back to Eamon, not sure he could face him. He was quivering with want, and when Eamon put his heavy mitts on his bare shoulders he felt as though he might burst apart.

“We don’t have to—” Eamon said, bending to murmur in his ear.

“Stop,” Glenn interrupted him. He grasped Eamon’s left hand convulsively with his right across his chest, squeezing it hard enough it should have been painful. To anyone but Eamon, it might have been. “You have no idea how much I want this.”

“That’s your animal talking,” Eamon warned him. “You have to understand your animal’s needs so you know what you’re embracing when—”

“Stop!” Glenn said again, pushing Eamon’s hand off him and whipping around to face him. “I want this,” he said hotly. “I want it. Me. My animal might be dousing me with extra-strength Mountain Viagra, but I—” He poked Eamon’s furry chest, his index finger sinking into the forest of dark hair the second knuckle, his eyes on Eamon’s the whole time. “—want—” He poked again, harder, not shifting Eamon so much as a millimeter. “—this.”

Eamon curled his lips back and bared his teeth, and an electric thrill ran through Glenn as he saw how they had changed, becoming sharper, heavier, more dangerous. He lifted the flat of his hand to Glenn’s perfectly sculpted, newly hair-dusted chest, placed it directly over Glenn’s sternum, and shoved—hard.

Glenn had a half-second of terror when he thought he might have made a horrible mistake. But Eamon hadn’t pushed him randomly. He was standing in front of one of the beds when it happened—his absent roommate’s, not that it mattered apart from the fact that it was stripped and bare. Like I’m about to be, Glenn thought feverishly as he hit the mattress. No sooner had he thought this than Eamon was grabbing his boots and wrenching them off like they offended him, hurling them aside to smack against who knows what where they handed. Knowing what was next he hurriedly undid his belt and fly just in time for Eamon to literally yank his jeans off and throw them into the obliteration of the darkened room beyond the only place in Creation that mattered, this bed and its soon-to-be union of two men consumed with a lust, and more than lust, more intense than any ordinary man could feel.

Glenn sidled back in the bed, his erection feeling huge as it thumped against its inadequate nylon/elastane constraints. Eamon climbed on after him, stalking him, and Glenn felt a sudden, massive swell of his inner animal fire. He bared his own teeth, challenging the older, more experienced man. A feral smile spread across Eamon’s bearded face. “You think you’re ready for me, cub?” he growled.

“I am so ready,” Glenn shot back. The fire was spreading through him, like he was being set ablaze from within, combustion coursing down every nerve and inflaming him flesh and soul. His skin itched, and his face felt like something was pulling on it.

Eamon was looming directly over him, his smile wry, his eyes literally glowing now, he saw—a dusky incandescent violet around a center of fathomless onyx. “Adorable,” Eamon said, his voice deeper than ever before. “The cub thinks he can turn.” He bent closer, his breath gusting across Glenn’s lower face. “Oh, I’ll get you there,” he promised. “I am going to feed your beast. Grow it until it’s so strong nothing can hold it back. And then will come that magnificent day when I tear open your cage and release you to the wild. But you’re going to need a lot of work before that can happen.”

“What are you going to do to me?” Glenn said. He made it sound like a challenge—a dare. Maybe it was. Glenn was more turned on than he had ever been in his life, but more than that he was absolutely certain that he was driving this transformation, not Eamon. “Tell me,” he commanded. “How are you going to feed my beast?”

Eamon sat up, towering over the paler figure he sat astride on the narrow bed. The silverly half light made his figure seem a purer darkness than anything around wherever he was covered by his pelt of heavy, black hair. Glenn thought that he was going to do something to make his words literal, like, maybe, snap his Speedos apart so that his boner sprang up into the open air, ready to be engulfed as it so desperately wanted to be. But Eamon didn’t reach for Glenn’s swim thong or his aching, seeping hard-on at all. Instead, he calmly unzipped his own fly.

Glenn watched, riveted, as the zip when down, slowly, audibly. He was holding his breath—maybe they both were. Eamon reached well into his fly and, with some difficultly, managed to haul out into the open what had to be the most massive pipe of a cock Glenn had ever seen.

Glenn gasped. It was huge—round and heavy, as thick as Glenn’s wrist, veiny, odorous, and just big, like it was designed to shove as far into a man as it was possible for any cock to shove and not do damage, and then maybe a few inches more than that. And it was leaking—not clear precum but what looked like actual, white cum, like when he was this aroused Eamon was already cumming long before he reached the explosive, monstrous eruption that constituted climax for him.

Glenn stared at it and understood. That was what would feed and grow and ready his beast—the cum of another beast. He bet that when he was on the Mountain, close to the source of his being, the beast-spunk would be that much more potent. The more of it he took into him, the more of an animal he himself would become.

Glenn grinned. He was going to be the biggest, baddest beast that Mountain had ever seen. He looked Eamon right in his glowing, hungry eyes. “Give it to me,” he commanded.

Before his racing heart had thumped again Eamon had done exactly that, shoving his massive dick deep into Glenn’s mouth and forcing it down his throat. He should have choked—he’d never sucked any cock, let alone a tool as gargantuan as Eamon’s—but his throat was ready. Somehow, he was ready. He took it, and it was bliss.

Eamon stared down at him, fixated and hot with pleasure. Very deliberately, Glenn moved his tongue and lips, stimulating the shift of Eamon’s enormous tool, keeping his eyes trained on Eamon’s. Eamon made a tiny noise, and suddenly he was cumming spectacularly, a gusher that that seemed to be releasing pints of hot, thick spend directly into Glenn’s throat. He felt it shoot down his body, smacking hard into his stomach and accumulating there as its potency spread through him like uncontrolled wildfires. Already close from the moment Eamon climbed onto the bed after him, Glenn careened madly over the edge and came just as hard in his inadequate Speedos, not only wetting his hip and legs with his spurts but actually pushing through the fabric of his togs.

Eamon pulled out of him, his size and hardness completely unchanged. He was breathing hard, watching Glenn closely.

Glenn grinned fiercely up at him. “More,” he rasped. “Give me more.”

Eamon bared his teeth and growled in answer, more than happy to comply.

Glenn tapped against the door armrest of Eamon’s truck, trying to ignore the hardon threatening to tear through his battered old “traveling jeans” and the way his muscles were subtly tingling all over, like his body was planning an uprising or a big, blow-out surprise party and was having trouble keeping it a secret. His new crop of short, downy chest hair felt ever so slightly itchy, too, though he’d pretty much decided that was mostly psychosomatic, like the new hair was gently flicking his fine nerve ends just to get his attention. Though still sparse it ranged over every inch of his previously hairless pecs, promising the full Thomas Magnum when it was all grown in; but having it in this thin, pliant, fledgling form was exciting all by itself, like having the chance to watch—to experience—the creation of life a thousand times over in minuscule.

His fingers twitched to brush over the burgeoning follicles in all different ways. The backs of his fingers gliding over the curve of his chest, feeling the novelty of all this soft new hair against the firmness of his powerful and widely admired swimmer’s pecs. Fingertips sliding along the cleavage of his sternum, a trace of nail for extra tactile stimulation. A full-palm grope over the thick mean of a chest that no longer belonged to the sleek, smooth pinup boy he was too used to identifying as.

And all that was just the beginning. Right now there was only a scanty swath covering the landscape of his chest from his collarbones to the curved overhang of his swimmer’s pecs, but he could sense, almost subliminally, other stretches of flesh eager to flourish with new growth in exactly the same way. For sure he’d have a dark path soon leading down the narrow aisle between his famous abs and plunging straight into his groin, merging with the smallish patch of public hair he’d kept closely cropped from the day he’d put on his first Speedo. His forearms, the curves of his delts, even his shins and the tops of his feet wanted to get in on the action, too. He thought he could almost feel his lush, chestnut-brown head hair thickening and proliferating as the rushing air from the open window whiffed playfully through it. His once-almost-nonexistent beard told him it was slowly and steadily spreading and filling in under the skin of his cheeks and jaws, building up its density and a ceaseless need to grow. It was hair all over, a full-body manliness upgrade—and that was without the prospect of “turning,” letting loose his animal and going full, feral beast.

Glenn swallowed. The implications of him being a shifter—that he could transform into a powerful, raging creature of the wild—were something he was still processing. His first rational instinct had been denial, but all that died the moment he’d gripped the knife and felt the presence of that animal spirit within him, an inextricable, living part of him, never to be denied. He had heard Eamon’s words about shifters and the mountain and his heritage as true and felt the kinship between them. And from that instant he had been flooded with power—physical power, emotional power, sexual power, all of it twined together like throbbing conduits of raw, concentrated universal energy pulsing through him, injecting his muscles, strengthening his heart, tingling his skin, pouring into his cock and balls and inundating him with ardent, unrelenting need so potent it actually seeped out of him like a drowned barrel of illicitly dumped toxic waste, infecting anyone who came to close, filling their eyes with lust and waking their deepest desires—and their dicks, too.

That was the part that had taken him totally by surprise. He could deal with being a shifter, because the idea of a shifter was a thing. He thought he knew at least the general parameters of what to expect; and anyway the presence of his animal inside him, once released from its bindings by the spelled knife, felt utterly natural. The leaking libido thing, though—what the fuck was that? He was so horny all the time now he could barely control his own constant, unrelenting, all-consuming need to kiss, to fuck, to get off, to release his spend and his euphoria in beautiful bursts of exploding pleasure. How could he resist the temptation to draw hot guys to him, to pull them close with his inner power and steadily intensifying masculinity? Even now, the thought pestered him that he should have let Bobby kiss him, that he would have enjoyed the deep-tongued make-out that had been seconds away in the locker room. All Glenn had done was prime him to feel something he would totally have been grateful to have experienced…

Glenn shivered, watching the wooded countryside fly past them through the open passenger-seat window, still vibrant and thriving despite the world-muting effect of the ominously dark sky above. These feelings and needs would be even more intense once he was on the mountain, Eamon had said. Probably a lot more, like, “this is nothing” levels of difference between what he was feeling now and what he’d experience when he was on that mountain, standing on his family’s land, the magnificent, undying source of everything that was happening to him and all his ancestors churning away in the deep, rocky earth under his boots.

It sounded now like… too much. Way too much. For the first time, Glenn asked himself whether he really wanted this after all.

Eamon was a mountain all by himself, but Glenn was just a pretty-boy swim star. Hadn’t Eamon had said more than once that Glenn wasn’t ready, that he wasn’t strong enough? And all at once Glenn believed him. Becoming a full shifter and embracing your core being as an animal under the first full moon on the mountain was clearly a rough and difficult transition, and Eamon’s concern and quiet urgency made him wonder if he was worried about Glenn because even Eamon had had trouble with it. Would he be able to do it? What would happen if he didn’t? Would he die? Endure endless agony? What was he setting himself up for?

And—fuck. Did he even want to be this other Glenn, this heir and scion of the storied Sheridan clan, whose being was bound to his animal and to this peculiar, commanding mountain he only knew from the stories of others and the low, constant, wordless tugging of his own guts? It was like he’d gotten two new destinies, neither of which he was prepared for.

Eamon had apparently noticed his shiver. “You cold?” he asked over the road noise and the pre-storm wind gusting through the open windows. “I… think I’ve got an old tee shirt in the back, if you want.”

Glenn’s lips curved at the teasing. “Rule one,” he repeated, eyes still on the passing scenery. “No shirts.”

He could hear the smile in Eamon’s voice as he answered, “Just checking, cub.”

“I’m not your ‘cub’,” Glenn said, still smiling. It was probably the third time today he’d said it, and probably not the last, but Eamon seemed committed. Glenn had a feeling his buddy probably knew he cherished the pet name—and the reminders of their hot sex the night before.

His dick surged. Almost unwillingly he looked over at Eamon, having to stop himself from audibly taking in a breath. His whole body reacted at the sight of him, flushing with heat and an id-driven need to incite Eamon’s arousal and the deeply gratifying affectionate, amused dominance he’d shown him the previous night after the meet. He looked absolutely at home in the driver’s seat of his blue ‘89 Dakota four-by-four, a big guy in a big truck, his rule-number-one-enforced shirtlessness exposing every inch of his torso’s thick, near-black pelt and massive, bones-of-the-earth muscles that made him look like he could park this truck and lift it over his head if necessary.

But Glenn’s eyes slid right over those protruding, boulder pecs, straight down the fuzzy, flat belly, to fixate on the abnormally large, tightly-packed bulge in the crotch of Eamon’s dark, sturdy jeans.

He stared, imagining the pants gone and Eamon’s improbably massive, unyielding cock jutting straight up from his groin like a thick, granite pillar erected by some ancient civilization, only of flesh, not stone, spilling its bottomless supply of hot seed from its wide, tongue-loving slit.

“Hey, um, are you thirsty?” he heard himself say, the imagined towering erection overlaying the bulging junk of Eamon’s package in his mind. “Because I am. Thirsty, I mean. So fucking thirsty.”

He felt rather than saw his friend’s glance to see where Glenn was staring. Eamon snorted. “You like what you got a taste of last night?”

“It was like, I dunno,” Glenn said distractedly. “The best drinking fountain ever.” It was slightly alarming how he could so easily picture that monumental dick, standing up between his legs as he drove, pouring loose Eamon’s flood of pre-orgasm seed. And Glenn wanted to fill his mouth with it, drink it down its release, guzzle it like a frat boy with a beer bong with his bro chanting encouragement for him to chug it all.

A tiny part of his brain wondered curiously at his sudden need for cocksucking. Was it an innate drive to supply himself with the mountain-potency Eamon’s cum built up on him? Or did just really love sucking hard, leaky cock? Glenn didn’t care—he really didn’t. He just knew what he wanted, and it was Eamon’s huge, rigid, cum-spurting prick in his mouth and ass.

Eamon snorted another laugh. “You’ll get your chance, slurp-boy,” he teased. Glenn quickly went to undo his seat belt, but Eamon stopped him, playfully pushing him back against the seat. “Not while I’m driving, asshole,” he growled, though he still sounded amused—and, maybe, aroused as well. Eamon had always been close but closed off with him in certain ways, understandably in retrospect, and Glenn was enjoying these glimpses into his inner feelings and hidden desires. Especially where they involved him.

With an effort, Glenn finally pulled his eyes up to Eamon’s face. He looked intense but relaxed, at home in Glenn’s company as always despite the change in their relationship from secret shifter and normal guy to were-sage and were-padawan. “I’m that good, huh? I’m so fine at blowing you that you think you’ll wreck the truck if I make you cum again?”

“Don’t get cocky,” Eamon said, amused, and Glenn preened, feeling confirmed in the quality his still-nascent cocksuckery. They drove like this for a bit, Glenn watching Eamon with a steady, intense gaze and a smirk that was, despite the admonition, ever so impressed with himself, while Eamon watched the road, equally smug at his own ability to hold Glenn’s uber-lusty attentions, before Glenn noticed they were pulling into the gravel parking area of what looked like a backwoods convenience store. The lot was empty apart from themselves and a forest-green Jeep Cherokee with muddy tires, a lot of gear in the back, and a faded Clinton-Gore ‘92 sticker on the rear bumper. Beyond the little store the forest looked tall and dangerous under the lowering, rain-feathered sky.

Glenn blinked and drew in a breath, feeling a little like he was surfacing from the intimate world only the two of them shared as awareness of the imminence of people and public spaces took hold of him. Eamon turned off the truck, leaving them surrounded by the background noise of gusting winds whiffling through the trees, and looked over at him. When Glenn didn’t make a move to get out of the truck, he asked, “What?”

Glenn cocked an eyebrow at him. “‘Slurp-boy’? Really?”

Eamon laughed. It was a rare sight, and it made Glenn’s heart flip a little. “Just acknowledging your talents, cub,” he said with a wink as he undid his seat belt and opened the door. “C’mon, let’s show the nice people your hot, hairy chest.”

Glenn grinned, watching as Eamon shut the truck door and headed into the shop before he moved to get out himself, hurrying toward the building as the first cold, fat drops of the coming storm spattered on his shoulders. Being in a cabin alone with Eamon on a mountain somewhere was starting to look like a really solid plan.

Inside, the store was disappointingly ordinary compared to its middle-of-nowhere, last-stop-before-the-carnage vibe: just a large, clean space with a few rows of shoulder-high shelves full of necessities and impulse buys basking under bright fluorescents, like they’d stopped into the Rexall’s in Manchester and not wandered into the gatekeeper scene in the first reel of a horror movie.

As soon as they were inside the rain started pattering on the gravel and cars outside, increasing rapidly to a loud background drumming that filled the shop like a white-noise generator. The wind pulled the glass door out of his hand, whipping it shut with a loud bang and drawing the attention of the other occupants of the store. To their left behind the counter lounged a pony-tailed, world-weary teenager; on the other side of the store two tall, good-looking thirtysomething guys, a bearded redhead and a mustachioed strawberry blond, were browsing in the automotive section, heads drawn close in conversation over their possible selections.

The clerk was noodling on a Game Boy, but she glanced up briefly to appraise the two shirtless men who’d just entered her store. She favored Eamon with a wary look before deciding he probably wasn’t there to fuck up the place. She then gave Glenn a curious once-over before shaking her head slightly and going back to tossing pokéballs, or whatever she was playing. Glenn smiled. He knew that look: that was the “too pretty, probably a jerk” look. He got that look a lot, and he’d had a fair amount of fun over the years convincing girls like her that he was not the preening, thin-skinned, thick-skulled asshole they’d thought he’d be.

The guys looked their way as well after the door slam announced their presence, the redhead lingering a few extra seconds over Glenn’s chiseled, just-starting-to-get-fuzzy torso before turning back to their consultation. Interesting. Glenn was used to getting ogled by men and women alike, but ever since his animal had been unleashed it was like he was more aggressively attractive—especially to men. Eamon noticed too, and turned to smile down at Glenn.

“Go flirt with those two,” he said.

Glenn’s first thought was that Eamon just wanted to watch him snag the attention of other guys, a bit of softcore porn to kill time while the storm played itself out. But the crafty look Eamon was giving him made him second-guess that idea. “Why?” he asked suspiciously.

Eamon bent down so he could lower his voice. “I want to see how strong your pull is,” he said.

His pull. Did he mean—? His mind flashed back to what had happened with Bobby in the locker room. He knew that Eamon hadn’t been there, hadn’t seen that happen, so how did he know? Unless—“This is a thing that happens, isn’t it?” he asked slowly. “With guys like me, who are—”

“Approaching their first shift,” Eamon finished. “With you, though it seems… strong. Too strong, maybe.”

Too strong? What did that mean?

“I want to see it in action,” Eamon went on. With a quirk of his lips he added, “Maybe a few times.”

Glenn barked a laugh. “So that’s the plan for our trip north? Stop in every town along the way and pick up any stray dudes we find?” He sensed the clerk look up in surprise in his peripheral vision and belatedly realized he’d spoken that last part with a little more volume than he’d intended. He turned his back on her a bit more, chagrined.

Eamon was unconcerned. If anything it seemed like he was enjoying Glenn feeling put on the spot. “Scientific method,” he said, dimpling under his beard. “Gotta collect data.”

The data. Glenn was almost physically aware of the male bodies of the two guys despite the distance separating them, as though his infectious, uncontainable libido were already seeking a connection with them even from across the room. It was too easy to imagine them falling for him instantly… succumbing to his allure, pulling off their clothes right there in front of the motor oil… kneeling down in front of his hard, desperate, cock—

Maybe not the best idea. He cleared his throat, feeling hot. “You know what, maybe you go collect data,” he suggested.

Eamon looked pointedly down at his own mountainous, pelted physique. “I’m a little too scary for most guys,” he said, wiggling his dark brows. “And I’m not the cub here.”

Glenn narrowed his eyes at him. “You’re not scary,” he scoffed, his mouth curving up on one side in a lopsided smirk.

“I can be scary,” Eamon assured him with a fond smile. Grabbing Glenn’s shoulders, he turned him and gave him a little nudge between the shoulder blades. “Now go!”

Glenn turned himself back around to face him. “How are we measuring this, then? Do I have to get a kiss, or—”

Eamon glancing toward the men judiciously. “Two kisses.”

“Uh huh,” Glenn said. “And what do I get out of it? What’s my prize?”

Eamon eyed him consideringly. He was definitely enjoying this. “If you succeed,” he said, his voice deepening even further to a low, sexy growl that gave Glenn actual goosebumps, “I may… let you top me.”

Glenn gaped up at him, stunned, then let himself be turned around again and pushed down the aisle in the direction of his unsuspecting quarry.

“My boyfriend over there said he’d let me top him if I got a kiss from you guys,” Glenn said. “You game?”

The two men browsing the store’s tiny automotive section looked up at him in shock. Probably not a lot of talk of man-kissing in these parts, he reckoned, though the Clinton bumper sticker was a good sign. Now that he had a closer look he saw the two men looked a lot alike: firm jaws, rosy lips, bumpy noses, long lashes. They had the same fine-pored, peach-tinted skin, too, and their jade-green eyes somehow seemed exactly alike, though Glenn couldn’t have said how. The main differences were the redhead’s well-trimmed beard (an interesting contrast to the much thicker and untamable facial hair Eamon sported) and the blond’s rather ‘70s mustache; the faint spray of freckles across the nose and upper cheeks of the redhead; and the shorter hair and oblong, rimless glasses on the blond. He was just an inch or two taller than the ginger (who was Glenn’s height, more or less), and, if Glenn had to guess, maybe a couple of years younger. They were both wearing solid-color pocket tees, black for the redhead and brown for the blond, and snug jeans, in both cases suggesting decent and similarly proportioned bodies underneath with just the hint, from their fitness and stance, that they could handle themselves if necessary.

Glenn hmphed inwardly, looking between them thoughtfully. Unless he was very wrong these two were brothers, which from their perspective probably made his opening salvo even more… unexpected. He glanced over at Eamon, but he seemed to be busying himself discussing the various kinds of jerky on display by the register with the prematurely jaded clerk. He was on his own.

Glenn looked back at the brothers. Every cell in his body was heating up, aroused and urging him to create mutual fireworks with these two handsome, older hunks. He wanted to step closer, erasing the distance between them, ensuring their susceptibility to his inhuman, animal charms. Glenn forced all that down. He’d told himself he wouldn’t use his fathomless, overflowing inner potency sex-mesmerize anyone, and he was trying to keep to that. Sure, maybe little tendrils of his heat and lust were creeping out of him—he couldn’t keep it all in, that was like putting your hands over a grate seeping gas into the room. But he would do his damnedest to persuade, not command.

The redhead, for his part, was trying to maintain polite eye contact, but his eyes kept drifting south down Glenn’s firm, carved pecs and cut abs as if of their own accord. The blond, meanwhile, was eyeing at him uncertainly, like a man used to being a few steps ahead and unexpectedly finding himself without any idea what was going on. “He wants us to kiss—each other?” he asked with a frown.

Glenn grinned. “Naw,” he said, sliding almost automatically into the relaxed star-athlete sexyvibe he’d perfected ages ago. “Just me.” He kept his eyes bright and his smile wide and friendly while stuffing his hands in his back pockets, a posture girls usually found disarming. He hoped it worked on guys, too. “Quick and painless, right?” he added slyly. “Not too much of a hardship.” He winked subliminally at the redheaded older brother, who responded with a wisp of a smile.

The blond was giving him a level look. “Look—” he began.

“Glenn,” he offered with another high-wattage smile.

“Glenn,” the blond repeated. “You seem nice, but—”

“I am nice,” he said, and he saw, or felt, his words hit the two men with the force of truth. The blond’s mouth was still a hard line, but his shoulders relaxed a little, and Glenn’s stomach fluttered. Shit, he thought, that was dosed a little too strongly. Suddenly he realized the real reason Eamon was having him do this: he very much needed to practice controlling his overpowered, amp-on-11 sexual potency—and the time to start doing it was now, before he got to the mountain and it got ten times worse.

Given this new perspective, the interaction with these two guys took on new importance. He focused, reining himself in. He tried to concentrate on just being a regular, fun guy, if one that was exceptionally hot, and built like an Olympic athlete genetically bred for maximum sex appeal.

The blond seemed to struggle with what to say next, and for a moment the only sound was the drumming of the rain and the buzz of the fluorescents, while Glenn wondered about their dynamic. Was the younger brother always the spokesman for the pair of them? Or just when hot colleges guys hit on them? “Thanks for the offer,” he said finally, “but—”

“Do you know anything about motor oil?” the redhead cut in, looking like he wanted to prolong the encounter.

Glenn smiled at him. The blond sighed softly. “A bit,” Glenn said truthfully. “That your Jeep out front?”

“It’s borrowed,” the redhead, shrugging. “So I’m not sure what it needs. I’m Ares, by the way. And this is my brother Fee.”

Glenn felt his eyes widen. He turned to the blond with a grin. “Short for… Phoebus?” he asked. The blond hung his head, and Glenn laughed. “Don’t tell me,” he said, looking between them, “your parents were either classics professors, or die-hard pagans.”

“Both,” the brothers said in unison. Fee was looking up again, and there was amusement in his green eyes along with the expected exasperation. “One of each,” Ares added happily.

“Nice,” Glenn said. “So, what, you borrowed the Jeep for a trip up in the wilds?” He caught himself using Uncle Bram’s disdainful phrase and decided he was okay using it. “The wilds” had new meaning for him now.

Ares nodded. “We both carved out some time off, finally, and we figured getting away from the city and pitching a tent on a mountain somewhere for a couple weeks was exactly what we needed.”

“We’re tax lawyers,” Fee said, unwillingly drawn into the conversation. He still looked at Glenn as if he were a species of animal he wasn’t sure how to deal with. If only you knew, he thought.

“Wilcox and Wilcox,” Ares agreed, eyes twinkling.

Glenn grinned. “Yeah?” he said, unable to ignore the innuendo built into their last name. Ares matched his grin, like he enjoyed the childish jokes his own name inspired just as much as Glenn did.

“Stop,” Fee groaned. “Seriously, are you both five years old?”

Glenn looked him right in the eyes. “I’m 21, Fee,” he said. “All legal and everything.”

Fee met his stare, and Glenn saw he’d made headway with the younger brother after all. Meet him toe to toe, and you’ve got his interest, he thought. “You know,” he said, glancing back at Ares, “I just happen to be heading back up north to my grandpa’s property up Mill Mountain. Near Stark?” He looked between them. “I guarantee it’s the perfect place to, as you say, pitch a tent.”

Ares quirked a smile, exchanging a look with Fee. Glenn didn’t have any experience with siblings of his own, but he knew devotion when he saw it. Hard-nosed and skeptical Fee might be, but he would do anything for his big brother. “I’ve heard of Mill Mountain,” Fee said unexpectedly, still looking at Ares though he seemed to be speaking to Glenn. “It is beautiful up there. Majestic, somehow.”

“It is,” Glenn agreed, from gut feeling if not experience. The brothers looked at him, decided. Wild. This was not the result any of them would have expected. “And in case you’re wondering,” he continued breezily, “your fee for two weeks camping on my land is—”

“Let me guess,” Ares said with a chuckle. “One kiss each?”

Glenn gave him his most winning smile. He side-eyed Fee. “You won’t beat that price, Sunshine,” he said.

“Don’t call me—” Fee began tiredly, like he’d heard all the joke nicknames and was done with each and every one of them.

Ares cut him off. “Sold!” he said, and before Glenn knew it his lips were on Glenn’s. Glenn wasn’t sure if the guy was gay, curious, or just naturally open to Glenn’s seeping tendrils of sex-potency, but he sure didn’t seem to mind kissing a good-looking guy. He even parted his lips for Glenn, though he pulled back, red-cheeked and grinning, before their tongues could interact. Interesting, Glenn thought, fighting down his body’s fevered demand to seek more. Instead he turned to Fee with a shit-eating grin.

Fee was giving him a flinty look, though Glenn was sure he could feel a grudging connection between them starting to form as well. “On the cheek,” the blond said, his expression stern and uncompromising, though with a telltale glint in those jade-green eyes.

“I guess that’ll do, this time,” Glenn said, with exaggerated concession. Hands still in his back pockets, he leaned forward and ostentatiously presented his right cheek. Fee bent and gave it a peck, and Glenn was surprised to feel the warmth of his lips and the way it sent a little thrill up his back.

He leaned back. “Transaction complete,” he said. As he said this he remembered that the kisses had sealed another deal for him, and he had to fight down a sudden swell to near-orgasm as the thought of Eamon’s body under him, his tight hole opening reluctantly for Glenn’s long, insatiable cock—

He realized Fee was asking him something. “Hmm?” he said.

Fee had retrieved a notebook and pencil from somewhere and was ready to take notes. “I was just saying,” he said primly, “we need your info. Name, contact info, directions, all that.”

Glenn nodded. “I’ll get that for you. And my name’s—” He took a deep breath. If he was doing this, really doing this, not just laying claim to his ancestral land but inviting guests onto the mountain with him, then he might as well do it properly and take up the mantle that had been waiting for him all this time. He smiled at the brothers. “Glenn,” he said. “Glenn Sheridan.”

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