Table of Contents
To Scarletâsweet spotty girl with the funny Dally grin
GROSSET & DUNLAP
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eISBN : 978-1-101-42971-6
As a terrifying howl rose into the night air, the young, silver-gray wolf froze.
“Shadow!” Storm gasped. The evil lone wolf who had attacked the Moon-claw pack was very close.
Storm scanned the snow-covered hillside with scared, midnight blue eyes. He should have known it was dangerous to come back home. He needed to act quickly.
Sparks crackled in the young wolf's thick fur and there was a flash of bright gold light. Where Storm had stood, there now crouched a tiny light brown puppy with a stocky body and shaggy fur.
Storm's little puppy heart beat fast as he leaped forward and ran across the frozen ground. He hoped this disguise would protect him until he found somewhere to hide.
There were some snow-covered bushes nearby. Storm wriggled under a low branch and lay there trembling. A rustling sound came from farther back in the bushes and icy snow fell onto the tiny puppy. As the branches parted to reveal the shape of a large wolf, Storm froze and his midnight blue eyes widened in terror. Shadow had found him!
“I am glad to see you, my son. But it is not safe for you to be here,” the wolf rumbled softly.
“Mother!” Storm yipped in relief. His whole body wriggled and he wagged his sturdy little tail as he squirmed toward her.
Canista reached out one huge paw and pulled her disguised cub close. She whined fondly as she licked his little square muzzle and low-set ears, but her gold eyes filled with concern.
“You cannot stay. You are the only cub left in the Moon-claw pack. Shadow wants to be leader, but the others have scattered and will not follow him while you live.”
Storm growled softly and his midnight blue eyes glowed with fury as he thought of the fierce wolf who had killed his father and three litter brothers.
“I am tired of hiding. I will fight Shadow now!” he yapped.
Canista shook her head slowly. “Bravely said. But Shadow is too strong for you and I am still too weak from his poisoned bite to help you. Go back to the other world. Return when you are stronger and wiser and lead the Moon-claw pack.” As she stopped speaking, her gentle eyes clouded with pain.
Storm whined softly. He leaned close and huffed out a warm breath of shimmering gold sparks. They swirled around Canista's paw like golden smoke before disappearing into her gray fur.
Canista gave a long sigh. “Thank you, Storm. The pain is lessening.”
But before Storm could finish healing her wound, another deafening howl rang out. The sound of mighty paws thudding on the frozen ground came closer.
“Shadow knows you are here! Go now. Save yourself,” Canista urged.
Bright gold sparks bloomed in the tiny puppy's shaggy, light brown fur.
Storm whined softly as he felt the power building inside him. The glow of golden light around him grew brighter. And brighter . . .
Kirsten Blake twirled her baton high into the air as she marched around the gym. She caught the baton perfectly without missing a beat of her routine.
“Yes,” she whispered to herself, delighted that all her practice was beginning to pay off.
Swinging her arms, Kirsten kept perfect time with the other Limelight Majorettes as they wheeled and interwove in time to the music.
“Shoulders back, heads up. Looking good!” Molly the trainer cried. Kirsten's blond hair was tied back and she wore shorts and a blue T-shirt with “LM” in glittery letters on the front.
As the music ended, all the majorettes stopped at exactly the same moment.
“Good job, everyone,” Molly praised. “Take a break now. After you get yourselves a drink, can we all gather together, please? I want to talk to you.”
Kirsten wiped her face on a towel and then went to get a drink from the machine.
Molly was already there. She leaned down to take a can from the chute.
“You've really improved lately, Kirsten,” she said smiling.
Kirsten felt a glow of pride. “Thanks. I love baton twirling. I even march all around the house doing it. Dad says it's a wonder I'm not twirling in my sleep!”
Molly laughed. “That would be one way to get more practice in. But I can't say I recommend it!”
The gym door opened and a girl wearing jeans and a fleece sauntered in carrying a sports bag. She went over to a corner and dumped her bag.
It was Tracy Owen, Kirsten's best friend.
Kirsten and Tracy were in the same class at school and usually walked to majorette practice together. But tonight, Tracy had told Kirsten that she'd meet her there.
Kirsten noticed Molly looking across at Tracy. The trainer was shaking her head with annoyance.
Kirsten quickly got a second can from the machine and hurried straight over to Tracy. “Here you are. I got you this. Molly's on the warpath about you being late,” she warned her. “Where have you been, anyway?”
“Thanks.” Tracy took the drink and popped the tab. “Nowhere,” she said in answer to Kirsten's question. “I don't know why Molly's in such a huff. There's not exactly much going on here.”
“That's only because we're having a break, silly,” Kirsten said, giving her a friendly dig. “We've all been practicing like maniacs. You should have seen me. I just did the most mega-high twirl
I managed to catch the baton!”
“Good for you,” Tracy murmured without enthusiasm.
Kirsten's high spirits wavered a bit. Tracy seemed to be in a strange mood. She saw that Molly was coming over.
“Hello, Tracy,” Molly said. “I expected you to come straight over to me. Don't you have something you want to say?”
Tracy flushed. “Um . . . I suppose so. Sorry I'm a little late.”
“You're over an hour late! And it's not the first time. I think you owe me an explanation,” Molly said.
Tracy shuffled her feet and looked at the floor. “I went to see one of my classmates. She's . . . er . . . really sick. We got talking and I didn't notice the time.”
Kirsten was puzzled. Why hadn't Tracy told
that? And she couldn't think of any girls in their class who were out sick. She threw Tracy a questioning look, but her friend didn't meet her eye.
Molly sighed. “We'll say no more about it. But will you make sure that you get here on time from now on?”
“Good. Finish getting changed and then come and sit with the others. I'm about to make an announcement,” Molly said as she walked away.
“She's really bossy,” Tracy grumbled, pulling on her sneakers. “I'm fed up with her ordering us all around like we're little kids.”
“Well, she is the trainer. That's what they do,” Kirsten said reasonably.
Tracy rolled her eyes. “Yeah, well. She should lighten up. So I was late. It's not a crime, is it?” She stomped moodily over to a pile of gym mats.
Kirsten followed her and they sat down to listen to Molly, who was already speaking.
“. . . and as you know, the new shopping mall on Main Street is almost finished. In two weeks, it's going to be officially opened by the mayor. There'll be street performers, jugglers, and a fair in the market square. And we've been asked to lead the Grand Parade. The Limelight Majorettes will be marching along to the music of a brass band!” Molly said with a smile.