Loki's Wolves, стр. 1
Table of Contents
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M. A.: To Dylan—
This one is for you and because of you
(also, yes, there will be goats).
K. L.: To Alex and Marcus—
Whatever parental horrors I may inflict on
you guys as you move into teenhood, I will never
make you fight a giant serpent. I promise.
Matt walked through the center of Blackwell, gym bag in hand, jacket thrown over his shoulder. It was dark now, with an icy wind from the north, but the cold felt good blowing back his sweat-soaked hair. After two hours of boxing practice, he’d been tempted to take a detour and jump in the Norrstrom River, even if he had noticed ice on it that morning. Ice in September. Weird. Even in South Dakota, winter never came thisearly.
A muscle spasmed in his leg, and he winced as he stopped to rub it. The upcoming tournament might be for charity—raising money to help tsunami victims in Hawaii—but Coach Forde still made Matt work as hard as he would before a title match.
Matt started walking again, limping slightly. As much as he wished he could call for a ride, he knew better. He’d made that mistake last winter, when Coach had said a blizzard was coming. He’d gotten his ride—and a lecture on how his brothers had never needed one, even when it wasstorming. He couldn’t catch a lift with his friends, either—that was worse because it set a bad example. If Sheriff Thorsen’s boys weren’t safe walking through Blackwell at night, who was?
Matt was reaching down to rub his leg again when something moved in the town square. His head shot up, eyes narrowing. Outside the rec center, two kids climbed onto the weathered Viking longship. Shields lined both sides as if invisible warriors rowed the old wooden boat, protection always within reach. A carved dragon arched from the hull.
The kids were probably setting up a prank, trying to beat the one Matt had done with his friend Cody at Sigrblot, the spring festival. The parade had arrived at the longship to find it covered in a tarp… and making honking noises. Underneath the tarp, they’d discovered a flock of geese wearing little Viking helmets.
Best prank ever, that’s what everyone said. Unfortunately, Matt had to pretend he didn’t have anything to do with it. If his parents had found out… well, they wouldn’t ground him or anything. He’d just get “the talk.” How disappointed they were. How embarrassed they were. How much more responsible his brothers were. Personally, he’d rather be grounded.
In a few more steps, he saw that one of the kids was a guy with shaggy brown hair that needed cutting and clothes that needed washing. With him was a girl. Her clothes weren’t in such rough shape, but her blond hair needed a trim just as badly.
Fen and Laurie Brekke. Great. The cousins were always getting into trouble. Still, Matt told himself they really might just be pulling a prank… until he saw Fen wrench at one of the shields.
There were a lot of things Fen could do and Matt would just look away, tell himself it was none of his business. That wasn’t always easy. Being the sheriff’s kid meant he’d had lectures about vandalism since he was old enough to carve his name into a park bench. But this wasn’t a park bench. It was an actual longship—something the people in Blackwell were really proud of. And there was Fen, yanking on it and kicking at it.
As Matt’s temper flared, his amulet flared with it. He reached for the silver pendant. It was in the shape of an upside-down hammer and almost as old as the longship. Thor’s Hammer. Everyone in Matt’s family had one. Thorsen wasn’t just their name. They really weredescendants of the Norse god.
As Matt looked at Fen and Laurie again, his amulet burned hotter. He was about to yell at them, then he stopped and took deep breaths, sucking in cold air.
He could hear his mother’s voice. You need to learn to control it, Matty. I don’t know why you have so much trouble with that. No other Thorsen has this problem. Your brothers could handle theirs even when they were younger than you.
Controlling his temper—and Thor’s Hammer—seemed especially hard around the Brekkes. It was like the Hammer knew they were related to the trickster god Loki. The cousins didn’t know that, but Matt did, and he could feel it when he looked at them.
Matt took another deep breath. Yes, he needed to stop Fen and Laurie, but he had to be cool about it. Maybe he could just walk past, pretend he didn’t notice them, and they’d see himand take off before they were caught.
Fen spotted him. Matt continued walking, giving them a chance to sneak off. Being fair. His dad would be proud—
Fen turned back to the longship and yanked on the shield again.
“Hey!” Matt called.
He didn’t say it too loud, and he tried not to sound too angry. Just letting them know he saw them, giving them time to run…
“Yeah?” Fen turned and stared straight at him, chin up, shoulders back. He was shorter than Matt. Skinnier, too. The only “big” thing about Fen was his attitude, which was always getting him into fights with larger guys… not that he seemed to mind.
Laurie stepped beside her cousin. Matt couldn’t see her expression, but he was sure it matched Fen’s. They weren’t going to walk away. He’d been stupid to think they would.
“You shouldn’t be doing that.” Even as Matt said the words, he wanted to smack himself. It was exactly the kind of thing everyone expected the sheriff’s kid to say. By tomorrow, everyone at school would have heard Fen and Laurie repeat it with a twist of their lips and a roll of their eyes.
Matt cleared his throat. “It’s an artifact, and it’s really important to the town.” Yeah, like thatsounded better.
“Really important to yourtown,” Fen said. “Thorsen-town.”
“Just… don’t do it, okay?”
“But I want to. And if you want to stop me…” Fen stepped forward, giving a grin that was all teeth, and for a second, Matt thought he saw—
Matt shook it off. “Look, I’m just asking—”
“The answer’s no.” Fen jumped out of the ship with a leap that would make an Olympic athlete proud. “So what are you gonna do about that, Thorsen?”
Matt’s amulet heated again. He took a deep breath. Cool it. Just cool it.
He remembered something Coach Forde had said during practice. He’d been trying to teach Matt how to intimidate an opponent. You’re a big guy, he’d said. Use that.