Home > Christmas Mountain

Christmas Mountain
Author: Garrett Leigh





Last Christmas - Wham!

Woodstock - Joni Mitchell

Sleigh Ride - Ella Fitzgerald

Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley

White Christmas - Bing Crosby

Merry Christmas Darling - Carpenters

Hushabye Mountain - Tony Bennett

Do They Know It’s Christmas - Band Aid

Winter Wonderland - Bing Crosby



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I preferred the old name for HMP Manchester. Most days it suited my mood.

But today was different. Life as a probation officer was a thankless one, but sometimes it panned out.

A healthy dose of spring sunshine made the scene playing out before me all the sweeter. Golden rays streamed through the tiny window I found myself glued to as I watched one of my favourite offenders leave the prison, a half empty duffle bag on his back and forty-six pounds stuffed in his pocket. His head was down, shoulders slumped, and I didn’t have to see his face to picture the bewilderment in his gaze as he tasted freedom for the first time in years, but I had faith that it wouldn’t be too long before he found his place in the world.

A large hand clapped my shoulder. I turned in time to see the hulking frame of Fen Hawthorne crowding into my quiet corner, a grin stretching his full lips. “Feels good, eh?”

I nodded with a smile that was a fraction of the one splitting his handsome face in half. “This is just the start, though. He has a long way to go.”

Fen grunted his agreement, and he may have said more words, but despite my dedication to my job and the offender crossing the street to freedom before my grateful and relieved eyes, Fen’s close proximity made me feel some type of way. Warm. Overheated, if I was being honest. And giddy, as if my thrumming pulse belonged to him and him alone. Strangeways, you see—the old name for the prison—because given that the only interactions we’d ever shared had been within Her Majesty’s walls, Fen Hawthorne did strange things to me.

God, he’s gorgeous.

And he knew it too. Or perhaps he was psychic and sensed the dizzy turmoil inside me every time we saw each other. Fuck, I didn’t even know if he swung in my direction, let alone had any kind of attraction to me. All I knew for certain was that each time I saw him I drove home with a boner I couldn’t shift until I’d rubbed one out imagining what lay beneath his uniform.


Hey, I’d never claimed to be.

The offender I was tracking disappeared from view. A breath escaped me in a weary sigh. It was early in the day, but this release had been a long time coming. I’d fought for it, tooth and nail, and so had Fen.

He sighed too and turned to me with an expression that matched the cautious and yet apprehensive hope in my heart. “I want him to be okay,” he said.

“So do I, but we can’t do this for him. All we can do is give him the support system to fall back on if he needs it.”

“You can,” Fen corrected. “With any luck, I’ll never see him again.”

I felt bad for him then. The offender in question, though quiet, was a character, and I’d hopefully have the privilege of witnessing him come full circle. Fen didn’t get that. All he got was an endless goodbye. “I’ll keep you updated. I’m seeing him in a couple of days.”

Fen nodded. “I’d like that. What are your plans for today?”

“Paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork.”

“Busy day, then?”

“Busy morning. I have to be somewhere else by one.”

“Wow. And I thought my job sucked donkey balls.”

I laughed, swallowing down a sucking innuendo at the last moment. Conversations with Fen were like that. He seemed to tap into a part of me no one else did and awaken the teenage boy I hadn’t been for well over a decade. “I could do without the drive. My car is a piece of shit.”

“Get a new one then.”

I shrugged. “I don’t care enough to spend the money.”

“You’ll regret that when it breaks down when you need it most.”

“Not if the RAC tows me all the way home and I get a day on the couch.”

“You’d get the bus.” Fen’s cobalt gaze drilled into me. “You’re way too committed to this gig to bunk off.”

I sighed, because it was true. It had to be for the crappy salary I was banking at the end of each month. It’s not the salary that’s the problem, it’s the child support you’re paying for someone else’s mistake. But…no. I wasn’t going to think about that right now. I couldn’t while Fen was a heartbeat away from invading my personal space. Christ, I could smell him. Sandalwood. Trees. Man. It was intoxicating and I wanted to rub my face in it—on him—like a wild animal scenting its mate.

Damn, what’s wrong with you?

There were too many answers to that question, most of which began and ended with my reprobate brother, but it was a stretch to blame Damon for my overactive imagination. No, that was all me. “You’re right,” I admitted. “I’d find some way to be here.”

Fen grinned again, but it was softer this time and did nothing to tame the lick of arousal warming my blood. “See? Committed.”

“And you’re not? Pretty sure you’ve been here all night and your shift ended two hours ago.”

“Keeping tabs on me, Stone?”

Yes. “No. Just hard to miss the fact that you haven’t slept any time in recent memory.” Of course it was hard to miss when a person was as transfixed by Fen’s face as I was. The shadows beneath his eyes seemed to jump out at me, and I found myself wanting to smooth them away with the pad of my thumb.

Among other things. Lord, I was on fire today. A wild blaze I didn’t have time for, if I was going to leave the prison on time. With immeasurable reluctance, I stepped back from the cage Fen had somehow made around me. “Anyway, I need to get grinding. Enjoy your day, Hawthorne. Get some sleep, yeah?”

I began to move away, expecting to face Fen’s blinding grin one more time and spend the rest of the day dreaming of it.

His hand on my arm caught me off guard. His strong hand, clamped like a vice around my wrist. “Listen—”

Noise from the nearest wing cut him off. Loud noise, shouting, hollering, crashing, and the radio attached to his belt crackled to life, calls for assistance piercing the air as the alarms in the prison began to ring out.

“Damn it,” Fen cursed, still holding my wrist. “Can’t a dude ask a dude out without getting interrupted by a riot?”

I blinked, half hypnotised by the sensation of him touching me, half blindsided by his sudden contribution to the wicked fantasies I’d incubated since we’d met in this utilitarian hell hole last year. “What?”

“You heard me.” Fen tipped me a wink, then turned his attention to whatever was going on somewhere behind him. He released my arm and walked backwards, talking into his radio, before he found my gaze again. “Hold that thought?”

“For how long?”

“All day by the sounds of the ruckus back there. If I don’t catch you later, when are you back here again?”

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