Familiar Angel by Amy Lane
Cover Art by Reese Dante
Available for Purchase at
A Memory of Chocolate
By Amy Lane
Because Familiar Angel takes place over the span of 140 years, much of the love story in the present day is twined with events in the past. Like real memories, the important ones don’t always come in a linear development. They often come when someone needs the memory the most. (Shows like The Pretender and Supernatural that stretch long enough for the stars who play the young leads to grow up often run into trouble with this. Fortunately for me, the casting for the young actors are all in your head!)
This is a memory twined with a real-time event. Harry and Suriel are on a “job” or a “mission” to get a group of girls to safety—but time on the road is time on the road, and painful confessions often come to pass.
The real-time moment happens in the aftermath of such a painful confession.
The moment between Harry and Emma takes place long ago, in the past…
A yawn took over Suriel’s body, and Harry had to laugh. Apparently parts of being human took him by surprise.
“You want to use the bed, don’t you?” he asked kindly.
Suriel shook his head and settled down more comfortably. “This is fine,” he said through another yawn. “I just… I want you to know. I know you’re still afraid of Big Cass—of having no faith in the world again, of being all alone. But you rebuilt faith in your heart with the love of your brothers, your parents—on that alone. That took more courage than facing Big Cass ever could.”
Suriel yawned again, and then, like a child, fell asleep.
Harry was left with the roar of the diesel engine and the hum of the tires on the tattered pavement as they rumbled through the night.
Mornings in Mendocino were frequently cold. It didn’t snow there often, but there was usually a sharp, wet wind blowing off the ocean, and the combination of cold and damp could chill a man to his vitals, make brittle his viscera and bones.
Within a week of moving to the tiny, drafty cabin that would become a mansion—and their home—Harry realized that Emma, who had power at her fingertips to command as an old and studied witch, woke up early every morning to start a fire in the Ben Franklin stove in the center of the room.
The boys had gotten used to sleeping as cats very quickly; they preferred it. Cats woke up fully, in an instant—nobody surprised a cat in the way Big Cass had been known to surprise the boys. And they were furry and, if they slept in a huddle, warm.
But Emma would get up early anyway, stoke the fire, and put on hot water for tea or coffee.
After a week, Harry was curious enough to turn human to ask her what she was doing.
First she greeted him with a warm sweater and thick socks to pull on, as well as a stocking cap and a blanket over his shoulders—the cold was stunning.
Then she poured him a hot cup of coffee, wrapped the tin cup in a towel, and pressed his fingers to the warm sides.
“Now what did you want to ask me, Harry?”
Harry stared at her and tried to keep his face composed. “Nothing,” he rasped. “Just… trying to figure out what we did to deserve all this.”
Emma’s smile illuminated stars and warmed planets—Harry was sure of it. “You boys just… just agreed, Harry. Jumped into my carpet bag as cats and came to start a new life. I just don’t want to make you sorry you took a chance on me, you understand?”
Harry nodded and sipped his coffee.
And realized that love came in the strangest of gestures, the most infinitesimal of signs.
They reached Visalia about an hour before dawn, and Harry urged Suriel to stretch out in the back quarter of the truck.
“Come sleep with me.” Suriel yawned. “I’ll set wards, Harry—they’ll wake you soon enough.”
Harry checked in with Edward, who had been dozing for the last hundred miles anyway and was apparently tucked into one of the bedrolls they’d brought. He told Harry he was setting his own wards and then fell back asleep, as a man or a cat, Harry couldn’t tell.
“Okay.” Harry yawned, trusting. Suriel turned on his side, and Harry went furry and glided up against his chest.
Suriel’s hands, stroking his ears back, smoothing his whiskers flat, reassured him on a primal level.
“When we’re less tired, I would love to do this with you as a man,” Suriel whispered.
Harry lapped delicately at his forearm. Well, yes. But not now. Harry was feeling too raw, too wounded now. He would just appreciate that arm holding him strongly, reminding him that he didn’t have to be alone.
He woke up semipanicked, Suriel’s spot next to him cool in the morning chill. Someone was opening the door to the cab, and Harry hissed, skittering back, heart pounding, every alarm in his head going off, when Suriel’s voice greeted him.
“I’m sorry, Harry. I went to get you and the boys some chocolate. I hope that’s okay.”
Harry turned abruptly human, perched on his knees on the uncertain ground of the mattress.
“That’s….” Suriel handed him the paper cup, and he took it automatically, smiling shyly into Suriel’s eyes. Harry lost the reason he was frightened and upset and took the hot chocolate, dazed and stunned. Suriel’s eyes, that warm, rich chocolate brown, mesmerized him.
“That’s what?” Suriel asked, teasing.
“You’re here,” Harry said. “In the morning again. That’s wonderful.”
Suriel’s smile spread, went blinding, and Harry felt as though he’d said something brilliant instead of something obvious.
“I’ll go see how the girls are doing.” Suriel placed a pastry bag in his hand.
Then Suriel disappeared, closing the door behind him, and Harry was left in the rapidly heating central valley, drinking hot chocolate and remembering the feeling of his fingers wrapped around a towel-insulated tin cup in a drafty cabin next to the ocean.
Harry wasn’t stupid. He knew what it was that bound the two memories together.
They twined around his heart as he closed his eyes and sipped his chocolate.
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?
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.