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 4,591 words 1,043 views 5.0 stars (3 votes) This story was commissioned via Patreon.

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 realized 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 mused, 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 take pictures 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.

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Weekly Update: 13 November 2021

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