Young Adult Fiction posted April 27, 2012 Chapters:  ...11 12 -13- 14... 

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Brook surprises herself by offering help to James

A chapter in the book Whispers in the Wind

Brook's Best Offer by BROOK ANNE

by Alaskastory

Brook's heart changes when two of James' dogs are injured by a moose. Many thanks to PattiCA for the picture of a dog that wants to rest.
Tires crunching on the iced-over driveway greet my anxious ears.

My mother calls up the stairs, "I'm sure Fred and James will need your help, Brooke. They're here."

I slip on a shiny new, copper-red jacket fresh from a store in the mall. Posing before the mirror, I decide not to zip it over my turtleneck tee. I scramble down to the front door.

Aunt Maggie cries out, "Tell them they are expected for roasted goose dinner."

I sniff cinnamon in the air. "Plus yummy apple cobbler, auntie dear?"

Not waiting for a reply, I dash off the porch and wave the pickup to pull up near the barn. I sprint across the snow-covered yard until my new rubber-sole, gym shoes slide to a stop in front of the barn's double-wide doors.

Fred Samuelson steps out of his pickup and grabs me with a fatherly squeeze. "Hey there, Brooke Anne. We're mighty pleased to have a warm place for these poor dogs."

I giggle like a little kid and gaze up into the towering man's gentle face. His strong arm releases me as his son appears. James wears no jacket, only a sweater with woven alpine trees stitched across the width of his chest.

"Hey, James," I mutter as if my voice were in awe of a super star.

My long-time opponent flashes me a look so intense it's as if his focus strays from suffering dogs. I wonder if my fresh-brushed hair distracts him. He nods his head but doesn't bother to speak. Turning away, he swings the pickup's back door open with the ease of an athlete.

Both bandaged-up dogs are on the back seat. Blackie's eyes are half open in a groggy stare. Adak whines and shifts to a sitting position so James fills his arms with her.

Through the side door, I lead the way into the barn and hurry to raise the grated door on a dog carrier bed. I have the crates set up with colorful blankets and food bowls.

"Brooke, thanks for these warm beds." James' greenish eyes meet mine, and all possible clever words vanish from my head.

"Ah...well...." I spin away and sink fingers into thick hair around Adak's sweet face. Her wet tongue sweeps over my hand. "In the crates they might not move enough to hurt themselves more."

Fred carries in Blackie. "These travel crates are perfect. Both these dogs can only choose to lie there and sleep."

I slide open the other dog carrier door and back away as he places Blackie's limp body inside. "My Aunt Maggie wants you both to stay for dinner."

"Hey, little lady, that will be mighty nice." Fred gives me a wink then snaps the door shut on Blackie. "Before we partake of a good meal, there's time for us to load the rest of the team into the truck. Then we'll be set to head back to Homestead B&B."

He strides toward the door, and I start to follow until James places a hand on my arm. Then he yanks his hand back as if his fingers touched red hot coals.

"Yes?" I give him a half-way smile. He watches his dad leave the barn before opening his mouth to speak, but hesitates again.

He settles himself against a stack of hay with arms folded, and his head tilts as if filled with a puzzle. "Brooke, I want you to tell me something."

His pose with broad shoulders and piercing eyes makes me remember how a dozen girls always swooned over him when he dribbled down the basketball court. I was never one of them and feel determined to not let him think I would ever be. I stiffen up. "Such as?"

"Out there on the trail, I figured your sled had passed us and was way ahead. Yet, you flew down on us from nowhere."

"I did catch sight of the mother moose." My comfort zone feels threatened. Quickly, I look around for a distracting task. Kneeling down at a faucet I fill a jug and add more water to bowls attached to both dog crates.

"Now, come on. How could you know a moose and her baby twins were on the main trail?" He kneels close beside me and reaches out to pet Adak.

"It was Shemya."

He gives me a wide stare and sidewise grin. "Did magic come from your deaf dog?"

"Yes, it did," I snap. "He can't hear anymore, but he has a magical sense of smell." I feel the same irritation as that day he insulted Shemya then roared off on his Polaris. James blinks as if he thinks I'm conjuring up some story of the supernatural.

"You think he smelled the newborn moose then took your team off the trail?"

I emphatically nod. "Just before that last bend, he darted to the right and we glided up a slope. Once up there, I looked down and saw the moose stand like a fortress against your on-coming team."

"So, Shemya turned your team away from an angry moose, then you let him lead right down to our rescue."

"You've got that right. Shemya is a most special dog."

"A fantastic dog!" His face brightens. "You're quite a trainer."

Green eyes gape at me with so much force that I scramble to my feet. I head for the door. He follows me and snaps off the light. We step out into a colorful sunset blazing across the sky. Variegated shades of red reflect in surrounding snow banks, tinting them pink. James presses a hand on the shoulder of my new shiny coppery jacket. I face him with knees going weak as if I just ran 10K behind my dogs.

"Brooke, would your folks mind if I overnight out here? I'll need to give the dogs some medicine."

Wild strands of hair that stick out around his knit cap turn gold under the burning sky. A slight cough catches me for a moment. "Oh, well....sure, you can. I mean, I planned to keep a check on them myself. I'm glad to do that if you need to return to all your other dogs."

"Dad can tend to them for a couple of days while we're still here."

"You are leaving before the races? Surely you can stay." My hands are up on my hips like when I start to give Amy advice.

"If I race just six dogs against every other sled with eight, that'll be a joke for our village."

Words that fly out of my mouth shock me. "Then you had better race eight. If you'll take my Jonsey and Libby, you'll have eight."

With a wide stare James shakes his head. "Wait a minute. If you lend me two of your dogs, you won't have a chance to win."

I shock myself again. "I'll change my division and be in the sixteen-year-old class with just six dogs."

He let loose a loud gasp, pulls his knit hat off, and runs fingers through blond curls. He looks up at the flaming sky then at far-off mountains. With a slap of his hat he trains an astounded stare at me. "Whatever makes my true competitor offer me two of her dogs?"

I return his stare, but not knowing an answer to that one, I give him a shrug. "Take it or leave it, James."

His dogs spot him and erupt in barks and howls while Fred is unhooking the sled. I head for the house leaving James to tussle with dogs.


Both teenagers, Brook and James train dogs for the North American Junior Championship Race. In preceding chapters, Brook is saved from a bear by her lead dog Shemya was left deaf from an accident. James saves her uncle from an ice breakthrough on the Yukon River. All chapters have been edited and revised from any posts last year. Each chapter is first person told by either Brook or James.

Brook Ann Malden
Earl Solomon, her uncle
Donald Malden, her father
Bea Malden, her mother
James Samuelson
Fred Samuelson, his father
Walter Evans, his best friend
Suzie Ivanoff, her best friend
Herman, Suzie's dad
Elsie, Suzie's mom
Maggie, Brook's aunt
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