Heartsong (Green Creek #3) by TJ Klune




motes of dust/something more





When I dreamed, these pinpricks of light filtered through the trees of an old forest. It was safe there. I didn’t know how I knew that. I just did.

I wanted to run as fast as I could. The maddening itch to shift crawled underneath my skin, and I needed to give in.

I didn’t.

Leaves crunched underneath my feet.

I ran my hand along the bark of an old elm. It was rough. And then it was wet from a trickle of sap. I rubbed it between my fingers, sticky and warm.

The trees whispered.

They said here here here.

They said here is where you belong.

They said here is where you are meant to be.

They said this is PACK and LIFE and SONGS in the air SONGS that are sung because this is home home home.

I closed my eyes and breathed.

The light seemed brighter in the darkness.

Little motes of dust swirled.

I brought the pitch on my fingers to my tongue.

It tasted old.

And strong.

And—

A low growl off to my right.

I opened my eyes.

A white wolf stood a ways off in the trees. It had a smattering of black on the chest, legs, and back.

I didn’t know it

(him)

but I thought it

(him)

familiar somehow, like it was right there on the tip of my tongue, mixed in with elm sap and—

Its eyes began to burn with red fire.

An Alpha.

I wasn’t scared.

It—he—wasn’t there to hurt me.

I didn’t know how I knew that. Maybe it was the trees. Maybe it was this place. Maybe it was the sap coating my throat.

I said, “Hello.”

The Alpha snorted, shaking his head.

I said, “I don’t know where I am. I think I’m lost.”

He pawed at the ground, carving jagged lines in the dirt and grass.

I said, “Do you know where I am?”

And he said, you are far away.

He sounded like the voice of the trees.

He was the voice of the trees.

The Alpha said, you don’t belong to me you aren’t mine you aren’t MINE but you could be you could be because of who you are.

“I don’t know who I am,” I admitted, and it was a terrible thing to say aloud, but after the words were out, I felt… lighter.

Almost free.

The Alpha took a step toward me. i know i know child but you will i promise you will you are important you are special you are—

Lightning flashed, and I saw I was surrounded. Dozens of wolves were prowling among the trees. Their eyes were red and orange and violet—

The trees snapped from side to side in the harsh wind.

I thought I was going to get blown away, carried into the black sky above and lost in the storm.

The wolves stopped.

They tilted their heads back in unison.

And howled.

It tore through me, and it was breaking me, it was crushing my bones into powder. I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t find a way to stop it, and I didn’t want to. That was what hit me hardest, that I didn’t want it to stop. I wanted to be consumed, to feel my flesh tear and bleed onto the earth beneath my feet, to sacrifice myself so that I would know I mattered, would know that I meant something to someone.

The Alpha said, no you can’t that’s not what this is this is DIFFERENT this is MORE because you are MORE and—

Hands settled on my shoulders.

A voice whispered in my ear.

It said, “Robbie. Robbie, can you hear me? Hear my voice. Listen. You’re safe. I’ve got you. Would you hear me, dear? Please.”

The hands tightened against my shoulders, fingers digging into my skin, and I was jerked backward, flying through the trees. The wolves were screaming, screaming, screaming their songs of fury and horror, and as the world began to crack around me, as it shattered into pieces like so much glass, one wolf stepped out of the shadows.

It was dark gray with flecks of black and white on its face and between its ears.

And in its mouth, it carried—



I gasped as I sat up, chest heaving. For a moment I didn’t know where I was. There were wolves and trees, and they were breaking, and I had to put them back together. I had to find all the ways to make the pieces fit, to make them whole again so I could—

“You’re all right,” a kind voice said. “Robbie. You’re okay. It was just a dream. You’re safe.”

I blinked rapidly, trying to catch my breath.