Home > Brothersong (Green Creek #4)

Brothersong (Green Creek #4)
Author: T.J. Klune


“A wolf,” my father told me once, “is only as strong as his tether. Without a tether, without something to remind him of his humanity, he’ll be lost.”

I stared up at him with wide eyes. I thought no one could ever be as big as my father. He was all I could see. “Really?”

He nodded, taking my hand. We were walking through the woods. Kelly had wanted to come with us, but Dad said he couldn’t.

Kelly cried, only stopping when I told him I’d come back and we’d play hide-and-seek. “You promise?”

“I promise.”

I was eight years old. Kelly was six. Our promises were important.

My father’s hand engulfed my own, and I wondered if I would be like him when I grew up. I knew I wasn’t going to be an Alpha. That was Joe, though I didn’t understand how my two-year-old brother would be the Alpha of anything. I’d been jealous when my parents told us Joe would be something I could never be, but it’d faded when Kelly said it was okay, Carter, because that means you and me will always be the same.

I never worried about it after that.

“Soon,” my father said, “you’ll be ready for your first shift. It’ll be scary and confusing, but so long as you have your tether, all will be well. You’ll be able to run with your mother and me and the rest of our pack.”

“I already do that,” I reminded him.

He laughed. “You do, don’t you? But you’ll be faster. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up with you.”

I was shocked. “But… you’re the Alpha. Of everyone.”

“I am,” he agreed. “But that’s not what’s important.” He stopped under a large oak tree. “It’s about the heart that beats in your chest. And you’ve got a great heart, Carter, one that beats so strongly that I think you might be the fastest wolf who ever lived.”

“Whoa,” I breathed. He dropped my hand before sitting on the ground, his back to the tree. He crossed his legs, motioning for me to do the same. I did so, and quickly, not wanting him to change his mind about how fast I would be. My knees bumped his as I mirrored his pose.

He smiled at me as he said, “A tether to a wolf is precious, something guarded fiercely. It can be a thought or an idea. The feeling of pack. Of home.” His smile faded slightly. “Or of where home should be. Take us, for example. We’re here in Maine, but I don’t know if that’s our home. We’re here because of what’s asked of us. Because of what I must do. But when I think of home, I think of a little town in the west, and I miss it terribly.”

“We can go back,” I told my dad. “You’re the boss. We can go wherever we want.”

He shook his head. “I have a responsibility, one I’m grateful for. Being an Alpha isn’t about doing whatever I want. It’s about weighing the needs of the many. Your grandfather taught me that. An Alpha means putting others above yourself.”

“And that’s going to be Joe,” I said dubiously. When I’d seen him last, he’d been in a high chair in the kitchen, Mom scolding him for putting Cheerios up his nose.

He laughed. “One day. But not for a long time. But today is about you. You’re just as important as your brother, as is Kelly. Even though Joe’s going to be the Alpha, he’ll look to you for guidance. An Alpha needs someone like the two of you who he can trust, who he can look to when he’s uncertain. And you’ll need to be strong for him. Which is why we’re here. You don’t need to know what your tether is today, but I’ll ask you to start thinking about it and what it could be to you—”

“Can it be a person?”

He paused. Then, “Why do you ask?”

“Can it?”

He stared at me for a long time. “It can. But having a person as your tether can be… difficult.”


“Because people change. We don’t stay the same. We learn and grow and, from new experiences, are shaped into something more. Sometimes, people aren’t… well. They aren’t who they’re supposed to be or how we think of them. They change in ways we don’t expect, and while we want them to remember the good times, they can only focus on the bad. And it colors their world in shadows.”

There was a look on his face I’d never seen before, and it made me uneasy. But it was gone before I could ask after it. “Is a tether a secret?”

He nodded. “It can be. Having a tether is… it’s a treasure. One that is unlike anything else in the world. Some even say it’s more important than having a mate.”

I grimaced. “I don’t care about that. Girls are weird. I don’t want a mate. That’s stupid.”

He chuckled. “I’ll remind you of that when the day comes. And I can’t wait to see the look on your face.”

“What’s yours? You can tell me. I won’t say anything to anyone.”

He tilted his head back against the tree. “You promise?”

I nodded eagerly. “Yeah.”

When my father smiled for real, you could see it in his eyes. It was like a light shining from within. “It’s all of you. My pack.”


“You sound disappointed.”

I shrugged. “I’m not. It’s just… you always talk about pack and pack and pack.” I scrunched up my face. “I guess it makes sense.”

“I’m glad you think so.”

“Is it the same for Mom?”

“Yes. Or at least it was. Tethers can change over time. Like people, they evolve. Where it once might have been the idea of pack, it’s become more pointed. More focused. For her, it’s her sons. You and Kelly and Joe. It started with you and grew because of Kelly and Joe. She would do anything for you.”

Fire burned in my chest, safe and warm. “Mine won’t ever change.”

My father looked at me curiously. “Why?”

“Because I won’t let it.”

“You sound as if you already know what it is.”

“’Cause I do.”

He leaned forward, taking my hands in his. “Will you tell me?”

I looked up at him, too young to understand the depths of my love for him. All I knew was that my father was here and asking me something that felt important, something just between us. A secret. “You can’t tell anyone.”

His lips twitched. “Not even Mom?”

I frowned. “Well, she’s okay, I guess. But not anyone else!”

“I swear,” he said, and since he was an Alpha, I knew he meant it.

I said, “Kelly. It’s Kelly.”

He closed his eyes. His throat clicked as he swallowed. “Why?”

“Because he needs me.”

“That’s not—”

“And I need him.”

He opened his eyes. I thought I saw a flash of red. “Tell me.”

“He’s not like Joe. Joe’s gonna be Alpha, and he’ll be big and strong like you, and everyone will listen to him because he’ll know what to do. You’ll tell him. But Kelly is always going to be a Beta like me. We’re the same.”

“I’ve noticed.”

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