Brothers by Amy Lane
So, of course this is a romance, between an angel and his cat. That goes without saying—or, rather, I spent a whole lot of words in the book saying it!
But the story starts out with three boys entering a clearing as fugitives and emerging as shape-shifting cats.
And as brothers.
As brothers, they have a certain dynamic. Harry is the oldest, the leader. Edward is the thinker, the planner. And Francis has always been more cat than human, even before the familiar spell made him one when he wanted. Beltane, the son of Emma and Leonard, added another layer of brotherhood to the trio (except to Francis who sees Beltane very differently.)
I had fun with this dynamic. Harry and Edward were particularly fun to write, because they’ve been co-captain of the brother ship for a long time. They were both abused as boys, and Edward seems to have come out of the experience more whole than Harry—but that just means his emotions are closer to the surface and sometimes more dangerous.
So much fun.
I can’t wait to write them again!
Francis rushed to the Odyssey waving his arms and jumping up and down, showing more emotion in that moment than he did during an entire year not in Bel’s company. Edward wandered up and eyed him with the same uneasiness Harry showed.
“That… that is very interesting,” he said softly.
“It’s been that way since Beltane was born,” Harry replied. He smiled to himself. “I think I heard him say once that Bel was his reward for remembering how to be human.”
Edward grunted. “He doesn’t do that good a job being human. I think he should just get dessert or something.”
“That’s not fair!” Harry countered. He thought back to when Francis was a child, when Edward and Harry spent all their days working as hard as possible to keep him from the ugliness their lives had become. Francis had been wide-eyed then and perfectly happy to look away—a magician’s perfect assistant, the gullible audience, willing to be fooled. “He’s been fey his whole life. Bel was just… just the human he chose to live with, is all.”
“Is this about driving away the brownies?” Edward asked suspiciously, seemingly from left field. “They were drinking all of Leonard’s beer. And the hill in Foresthill is a better place for them—you know that.”
“I liked them,” Harry snapped. “They were good sports to hunt, and sometimes they hunted back. But that’s not the point.”
“Then what is the point? Why are you so pissed off?”
Harry glared at him, hurt all over again. “You made arrangements to go… go do whatever. Without me. I don’t get to hunt with you anymore?”
“That’s not what this is,” Edward said, his rolled eyes speaking to exaggerated patience. “Of course we want you with us. It’s the family business, Harry—you’re part of the family. We called Emma and Leonard because you’re using it as an excuse.” Emma had pulled to a halt, and she and Leonard got out and were stretching cautiously. In order to have Bel, she and Leonard had both given up a portion of their power. The magic that kept them from aging was not quite as strong as it had been so long ago.
“More like twenty years in a hundred,” Emma had said when she’d told the boys of their plan to conceive a child. “Unlike the ten or so you boys will continue to age.” Francis had regarded her with avid, crossed blue eyes, his tail twitching, since he’d refused to change forms for the family meeting. “Or five in a hundred, for those of us who prefer to be cats,” she’d added acidly.
Because Francis was Francis, his back leg had shot up, and he’d given her a pointed demonstration of his position on the subject.
But twenty years later, the results of that consultation could be seen. Emma, who had always been a mostly ageless-appearing woman in her late twenties, was now most definitely in her late thirties, with fine lines around her eyes and deeper grooves at the mouth. Her hair—still blonde and thick and lovely—now had a few strands of silver in it. She was still beautiful, and the kindness in her eyes, her smile, had never diminished.
But she appeared human now, vulnerable, and today she looked worried.
Her eyes sought out Harry as soon as she’d straightened from her stretch. She said a few words to Leonard, who eyed Harry up and down too and shook his head.
“I think she’s annoyed.” Edward clapped him on the shoulder. “Well done!”
“Look, if even one of you had said anything to me beforehand—”
And suddenly Edward wasn’t laughing anymore. “When, Harry? When you were throwing yourself at one job after another? When you were bleeding out? No job was too dangerous, remember? ‘We’ve got an advantage and a moral obligation to use it in the pursuit of justice and compassion,’ remember that?”
“Nicely spoken,” Suriel said warmly. “When was that?”
“Right before we took this one on,” Edward told him sourly. “Francis had done some scouting and reported over twenty guards and five vehicles. We were going to hold out for Emma and Leonard, but Hero here couldn’t wait for anybody, could he?”
Harry couldn’t look at Edward as his words came back to haunt him. “Damned hubris,” he muttered. “Always comes back to bite you in the—”
Edward shoved him. “Not hubris,” he said, voice bitter. “Self-annihilating pain. If Suriel hadn’t come to bail you out, we would have held the intervention ourselves.”
Harry looked away, unable to summon an argument for that. “I’m sorry, my brother.” He bit his lip and in that moment felt every mortal year of two lifetimes on his shoulders. “I’ll try to remember myself from now on. I shouldn’t put you and Francis into danger because—”
Edward swung at him, and Suriel stopped him, holding his fist before it struck home on Harry’s jaw.
“No,” Suriel said, voice of quiet thunder. “Not even you.”
Edward fought tears for a moment and then slouched in defeat, arm falling limply to his side. “Don’t be sorry,” he said after a few moments of absolute silence. “Don’t be sorry. Be happy. Find your joy, Harry. Live your long life with us and be happy.”
And with that he pivoted on his heel and stalked to the minivan, throwing himself into Emma’s hug without restraint.
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.
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?