Chapter 1

I’m Cloud, the only male wolf in the Best Pack Anyone Could Wish For – although Storm, my sister, said we might want to change our pack’s name and Emily, my best friend, seems to agree with her. Oh, well.

I was roused from my shaky sleep when I heard bickering at the entrance of the cave where the Best Pack Anyone Could Wish For lived.

“Emily! I thought I told you not to go outside in the middle of a thunderstorm!” Storm scolded.

“Yes, Alpha,” Emily said sarcastically, “but would you rather let Cloud starve to death?”

Storm, who was most likely shocked by the Alpha remark, didn’t respond. The leader of a wolf pack is called Alpha, and if Emily thought Storm should be Alpha, I’d agree in a heartbeat. But first, I needed to stop Storm and Emily from arguing.

“Thank you for the prey, Emily. And Storm, you should be Alpha,” I declared, which made both she-wolves whip around to face me with with a we-weren’t-arguing expression.

“Oh, you’re awake!” Emily said cheerfully, as if she had forgotten her previous argument, “I brought you a mouse!”

“I know. I smelled it. Thank you,” I said, wrapping my tail around my paws as the warm amber brown she wolf licked her paws and sat down next to me.

“Are you sure?” Storm said, shock flaring in her olive green eyes.

“Yes!” Emily and I declared simultaneously.

“We should call you Alpha from now on,” Emily joked.

“If you’re sure…”  Storm whispered.

“Alpha! Alpha! Alpha!” Emily and I howled her new name.

“Who’s Beta?” I asked. The Beta was second in command of a wolf pack.

“Well, one of you decides the new name for the pack, and the other becomes Beta,” Alpha decided.

I turned to face Emily. “You should be Beta,” I said, and after only a moment of hesitation, she nodded.

“Beta! Beta! Beta!” We cheered.

“Well, Cloud? What’s our pack’s new name?”

I studied Beta’s soft brown fur, and thought of her lost sister, Keelin. Then I thought about my brother, Sticks, who I hardly remember, but if I was able to recall more than just a faint memory of my brother’s tangled brown gray fur and stubby tail, I’m sure I’d miss him.

“The Pack of Stars,” I said in a hushed voice, “After Keelin and Sticks.”

“And Lola,” Alpha added. I didn’t think it was the right time to mention I don’t have a single memory of our mother.

“And Shadow,” Beta said, which sent me and Alpha’s heads tilting with confusion. “My mother,” Beta explained.

Alpha curled her tail around Beta’s, “You’ve lost all of your family,” she said sympathetically, then added quickly, “well, all of your family that’s worth anything.”

“Worthless murderer,” Beta agreed, snarling, no doubt thinking of her father, Claw, who had killed Keelin.

I studied my sister’s olive eyes that were filled with grief. Keelin was Alpha’s best friend. Alpha is very pretty, I mused, momentarily distracted. And she was — for a wolf her age, at least. Her silver gray moonlike fur was well groomed and she seemed much more mature than when we first started The Pack of Stars, which would be… a month ago, I think. Her muzzle had grown slightly longer and her silver fur was a sharp contrast to the cold, dark stone of this cave. She’s pretty, I thought, but Beta is outstanding.

“Hello, Earth to airhead! Ahem, Cloud? Yoo-hoo!” Alpha said, interrupting my chain of thought by waving her tail in front of my face.

“Airhead yourself,” I retorted, momentarily distracted from my daydreaming about Beta. But then I began thinking again.

Beta’s gray gold eyes contrast her soft mud and amber fur so perfectly and her laugh… I wonder if she knows I’m falling in love with her.

Chapter 2

“Do you hear that?” Beta asked, angling her ears towards a tall bush that was covered in thorns which made the bush look like jagged lightning. She was right, of course. I could hear shuffling and the occasional thwak! thwak! thwak! We were out hunting at night, so of course at this time we had to be way too alert.

“Yes,” I murmured, “should I go talk to them?”

“Sure. Wow, Alpha’s talk about you not being impulsive must have worked — although I guess she was pretty intimidating.”

“She gave you the same speech?” I asked, surprised.

“Yeah,” she said. She tried to give me a menacing look at the hidden wolf(es), but mostly it looked like she was glaring at some random bush. After she must have decided she was scary enough, she raised her voice and howled, “show yourself!”

“Um… sure,” came the reply.

“Be quiet, you!” another voice scolded, but the wolves came out of hiding. It was two wolves. At least, I thought it was two. One of them had to be midnight black unless there was somehow magically floating golden eyes. Probably not. The other wolf was more visible, with his glowing silver white fur and dark blue eyes.

“I’m Silver and this is my younger brother, Galaxy,” the silver wolf said, his voice low and hoarse.

“Yeah, hello! Are you guys in a pack?” If you are, are you anything like the Pack of Dark Wolves? If you aren’t, can we join your pack? Please?” The black one, Galaxy, asked. His voice, compared with his brother’s, was light and fast — also full of questions.

“You know the Pack of Dark Wolves?” Beta asked, ears tilted with confusion. Then understanding dawned in her eyes. “Oh. Oh Silver, it’s you, “Beta said, with such a longing in her voice, I nearly stumbled over my paws in… hmm. I don’t actually know how to describe what I was feeling. Something like anger… but more than that. Maybe she’s sharing some of her longing with me, and I was longing for Beta. I have a strong feeling I’m not going to like this Silver.

Chapter 3

“Alpha! Guess what?!” Beta yelped excitedly as she marched into our home cave.

“I doubt you actually want me to guess,” Alpha replied, sliding out of her den. “What is it?”

“I found Silver and Galaxy, friends of mine from when I was in the Pack of Dark—”

“Wolves. Yes. Good for you. Guards, take them out a kill them, where my offspring can see them.” Then, smiling at Beta, Alpha said, “inside joke.”

“Oh, good,” Beta said, flicking her tail, “because if not…” she trailed off.

“What were you going to say?” I prompted.

“I finished what I was going to say!” Beta retorted.

“Oh,” Alpha and I said simultaneously. Then we heard a low, rumbly growl. I whipper around to face the entrance, thinking the Pack of Dark Wolves was attacking us again, but the only wolf nearby was Galaxy, whose tail was wrapped around himself in embarrassment.

“Sorry, just hungry,” the black wolf muttered.

Beta flicked her ears in amusement. “I’m sure we all are. Silver, wanna come hunting with me?” she asked with a shy glance in his direction. Now I can name the emotion I was feeling a bit earlier. Jealousy. I know because I’m feeling it now.

Chapter 4

“Here you go, Cloud!” Beta said cheerfully while tossing me some prey. She bounded away, calling over her shoulder, “I’m going to go play with Galaxy. See ya later!”

Silver padded over to where I was eating, regarding me. “Beta’s mine,” he said in his fierce but quiet voice.

“She doesn’t belong to anybody,” I announced.

“No. Claw promised her to me. She is destined to be my mate,” Silver snarled.

My hackles rose. “She can choose her own mate now!”

Silver growled, then launched himself at me. I instinctively raised my paws and batted him away. A small line of blood sprung from his underbelly. Growling, he landed on all fours and crouched down, looking ready to spring back up at me. I swerved to the side just as Silver leaped. I launched myself at his flying silver body and tried to pin him down, but he rolled over and ended up on top of me, teeth near my already bleeding throat.

“Silver. What. Are. You. Doing?” It was Alpha! Thank the Pack of Starry Wolves!

Once Silver heard her voice, he spun around and swiped at her, causing her one of her eyes amd muzzle to drip with blood. My sister released an ear splitting shriek of pain and Beta rushed over.

“Alpha! Cloud! Are you okay?”

Silver responded for us, which might have been a good idea, since he nearly ripped my vocal chords out and Alpha had fallen unconscious, but his answer was completely wrong. “They’re fine. Come on, Beta, I’m leaving this pack —- and your own father told you that you had to come with me!”

When Beta responded, her voice was hushed. “No, Silver. Father isn’t here now. I make my own choices. I choose to be called Emily. I met the wolf I love with that name, and I will die with that name, too!” Silver’s eyes seemed to brighten at this, most likely assuming that Emily was talking about them. Emily delivered the final blow, “and cloud is the one I love!”

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