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One hundred and forty years ago, Harry, Edward, and Francis met an angel, a demon, and a sorceress while escaping imprisonment and worse! They emerged with a new family—and shapeshifting powers beyond their wildest dreams.
Now Harry and his brothers use their sorcery to rescue those enslaved in human trafficking—but Harry’s not doing so well. Pining for Suriel the angel has driven him to take more and more risks until his family desperately asks Suriel for an intervention.
In order for Suriel to escape the bindings of heaven, he needs to be sure enough of his love to fight to be with Harry. Back when they first met, Harry was feral and angry, and he didn’t know enough about love for Suriel to justify that risk. Can Suriel trust in Harry enough now to break his bonds of service for the boy who has loved his Familiar Angel for nearly a century and a half?
“Hide!” Harry had just enough presence of mind to grab Francis’s other side to help Edward pull him through the thicket of brambles that lined the river. Bleeding, dirty, breathless, they slid to a halt in a hollow between the blackberry bushes and the hill, lying on their stomachs, Francis sandwiched between them. Francis, who had received a terrible scratch from the corner of his mouth to the corner of his eye, moaned in pain. Harry shushed him, and Edward placed a gentle hand over his mouth.
A woman, clothed in blinding, glowing white, burst into the clearing with a man—man?—draped over her shoulder. His clothes were red velvet, and thick curly hair grew all over his face and large skull, like a goat’s.
His back feet were cloven.
“Leonard,” she begged. “Leonard… darling. Wake up. Wake up. I need your help.”
Leonard—the thing… man—rolled his head, much like Francis had done, and moaned. “Emma, leave me. If they find me with you… if they find Mullins here….”
“Mullins!” the woman whispered. “Mullins—I’m losing him. Oh please—Mullins, he’s losing himself again.”
“I’m losing myself again!” came a terrible growl, and another Leonard-like thing stepped into the clearing—this one very obviously glowing red. “Emma, we need to do the ritual. I can’t….” The monster thing, Mullins, let out a horrifying series of snuffling grunts and growls. “I’ll turn,” he said, sounding tearful—if a beast could be in tears. “I’ll turn and gut you both.”
“I understand,” she whispered. “You’ve been very brave. Here.” She set Leonard on the ground then and started to pull items from a leather satchel across her shoulder. “We’ll do it right now.”
“This isn’t the ceremonial place!” Mullins said, sounding despondent. “It’s not cleansed, it’s not prepared—”
To Harry’s surprise, Emma put a tender hand on the beast’s cheek. “My sweet boy, you’ve been too long in hell. We don’t need the trappings of the spell—although the things in those hex bags should help us focus. We just need ourselves, and our good intentions, and our desire.”
Mullins’s grunt was self-deprecating. “The road to hell is the one paved with good intentions,” he said gruffly.
“That’s only because the demons trying to get to earth walked that path first,” she said, sounding cheeky. In their quiet interaction, Harry got a better look at her. Not young—over twenty—but not old either, she was beautiful in every sense of the word. Straight nose, even teeth, perfectly oval face, and blonde hair that streamed, thick and healthy, to her waist, she was what every boy should dream about when he went to sleep hoping for a wife.
Harry didn’t dream about girls, but he could look at this one and know the appeal.
But it was more than the physical beauty—and she had it all, soft hips, small waist, large breasts—there was the kindness to the beasties. The gentleness and calm she radiated when Mullins had threatened her.
Suddenly Harry had a powerful yearning for his mum, when she’d been dead for nearly five years.
“Here,” Emma said, breaking the sweetness of the moment. “Take the hex bags—there’s ten. Make a pentagram with me and Leonard in the center. I’m summoning an angel, love. You may want to leave when you’re done. I’ve no guarantees he’ll be friendly to you.”
“That’s not news,” Mullins said dryly and began his task. “Do you…. Emma, I know you’re powerful. You summoned my master for knowledge on power alone. But all else you have done, you have done out of love.”
“Including persuade you to our side,” she said. While he set the hex bags, she was stretching Leonard out before her, stripping his shirt with deft, practiced movements. The skin underneath the clothes was smooth and human, and Harry felt nauseated at the abomination of beast and man.
But Emma seemed to care for him.
“It would be worth any torture,” Mullins said softly, pausing in his duties, “to know Leonard will live.”
“Come with us!” Emma begged. “I may not love you like I love Leonard, but you’ve been a good friend to us. Please—”
Mullins shook his head. “It’s not enough to break me free,” he said, and his bestial smile would haunt Harry and Edward for years. “Someone would have to love me enough to sacrifice for me, and make no mistake, Emma. This will come down to your sacrifice. You will be stripped of your power, your youth—are you sure you want to do this?”
Emma let out a sigh. “I would live a mortal lifetime without worry,” she said softly. “But I do not want him all alone without me. ’Twould be cruel.” She closed her eyes for a moment, and then—
Harry gasped and heard Edward do the same.
She was looking right at them.
“I’m about to do something very wrong,” she said, great conviction carrying in her serenity. “But I think something very right too. Carry on, Mullins, but run as soon as you are done.” Her voice dropped. “Please, my friend—I’ll have enough weighing on my soul for tonight’s doings as it is.”
Mullins continued to bustle, and as he set the last hex bag down, Emma began to chant. Mullins traced a circle in the dirt around the outside bags, and then, when the circle ends touched, he pulled out a knife.
Emma nodded unhappily at him and then bit her lip as he cut a line on his palm and let the blood drip on the sealed ends of the dirt line. He and Emma looked at each other again, a strong friendship locking their gaze, before he turned and lurched away, his gait awkward and crippled on his cloven hooves. Harry felt some compassion for him then, poor beast, good friend—but his gaze didn’t linger.
He was too busy watching the white light around Emma grow larger, filling the space inside the pentagram like a bowl.
The light exploded outward, filling the clearing itself, and then one more time, just a few feet more.
Harry and Edward stared at each other, terrified.
Get the book:
Cats Come in a Clowder
So, Familiar Angel is the first of a three book series about three boys, escaping from a brutal life in a whorehouse, who stumble upon matters far beyond their understanding. They emerge with a new family—and new shape-shifting powers—as the familiars of a very strong, very compassionate witch.
I have to admit, the best part of this whole deal for me would be the ability to turn into a cat.
You may laugh, but seriously—everybody knows those Marvel quizzes? Which superpower would you want? Long life is a good one, and so is the ability to heal wounds, and I certainly wouldn’t spit on super-strength of any kind.
But I’ve always yearned to be a cat.
What’s not to love? I mean, my cats have the life.
Wake up and look for food.
Take a nap on the back of the couch.
Wake up and look for the bathroom. When done, kick sand all over the place because that’s fun, right?
Take a nap next to the owner, because the stench coming from the sandbox is easily slept through and not a nuisance at all.
Wake up and look for food.
Disdain the dogs.
The food bowl is half-empty—whine.
It is still half-empty—whine some more.
Join the other cat, whining.
Get fed by sleepy owner who calls you glorious names like, “asshole” and “whiny stupid baby”.
Go into the living room with your ally, the other cat.
Pretend there is no other cat.
Take a nap in the middle of the sunspot on the floor.
Make a momentous decision… inside or outside. Inside or outside. Inside… or out…side…inside you bitch don’t shut that door!
Scratch on the door to be let out.
Frolic with the wildlife.
Eat whatever you kill.
If you don’t eat it, just stare at it, being judgy.
You have judged a lizard to death—you deserve a reward.
And so on. I mean… who wouldn’t want that life? You don’t even have to eat the lizard (or the mouse or the bird or the snail on a fall leaf) that you have slain—it’s really sort of trophy hunting at this point anyway, right? You’ve got a full bowl of kibble, and if it’s only a half-full bowl of kibble, your other sport is whining, and it will magically refill itself after an allotted period of whining!
I mean… gravy, right?
And there are perks! There are pets—if you want them. And if you don’t want them, Goddess has handily equipped you with pointy things on the end of your toes that will get rid of pets temporarily—it’s a lovely system.
And even better?
Nobody expects you to respond to your name.
And see—that right there is the kicker for Harry.
He spent his youth in a brothel, and when he wasn’t putting out for whoever had a coin, he was scrubbing toilets and doing laundry and whatever anybody asked of him. “Hey boy!” had become the two most hated words in his world, because even if they weren’t followed up by “Bend over!” they almost always took away his will.
Nobody says, “Hey, Cat! Come over here!” Because if you did, your entire family would laugh at you, and the cat would disdain you, and you’d still end up cleaning out the litter box and feeding him kibble.
Being a cat gives you an all access pass to nope the hell out of the stuff in life you dislike the most, and as a human being? I have to say, that sounds like the world’s most glorious superpower, right?
It does to me, anyway.
And hopefully, it does to Harry, Edmund, and Frances… because after they wander into that clearing as they escape from the brothel, they’re going to have an awful lot of practice.
(I shall leave you with a picture of my son’s cat Dewey, who has judged a lizard to death, and is about to take a nap. He has a very satisfying life.)
About the author:
Amy Lane has two kids who are mostly grown, two kids who aren't, three cats, and two Chi-who-whats at large. She lives in a crumbling crapmansion with most of the children and a bemused spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay romance--and if you accidentally make eye contact, she'll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She'll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.
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