Tuesday, January 24, 2017
This is Mamas, also known as Girl Kitty or Old Cat. She's about 12: elderly, but not yet ancient. We fostered her about four years ago in a rush situation when friends were divorcing and short-selling their house. Originally, we had her and her sister, but her sister came out from under my bed once per night to eat and use the litterbox and that was it. She hated us. Mamas, though was friendly. So the friend found another place for the sister where there are no loud children and she settled in well there.
And it might look from the back like she's taking a nap on her bed on my desk by the window.
This is Fox, also known as Foxy-Loxy or Boy Kitty. We fostered him and his two sisters when they were about a month old, crawling with fleas and ear mites, and were found under my friend's mom's deck. He was the first baby caught and they left him out in a cage, trying to tempt the other babies and the feral mother into the trap. It wasn't working AT ALL, and finally I went out because he was crying and picked his skinny, exhausted, hungry, cold little body up and cuddled him and he didn't want to let go. I knew from the start that we would keep him when the girls went up for adoption. He's not a lap-sitter, but when he's ready to be petted (usually at six am, if I'm not out of bed to feed him yet), he will come looking for me and butt my hand until I scratch his ears. And woe betide me if I stop before he's ready.
So he's there, hiding behind the curtain and looking out the window and Mamas is growling and occasionally swiping at him. I finally arranged the curtain so she couldn't see him. She has never accepted him. So there went my dream of having two cuddly kitties.
But don't feel bad for him, because he's almost 2 years old and is bigger than she is. And younger and stronger. And fatter. They're on a diet, but the only one losing weight is Mamas, because Fox eats more food. He will follow her around the house, chase her, jump her and roll her over and fight fight fight. He'll cut her off from the family (especially from me) and from the food bowl. When I feed them canned food, he'll wolf his down and go nudge her away and eat whatever's left of hers, too.
So, really, they're a lot like my kids. They usually get along, they're even friends (which the cats aren't), but sometimes, one decides they have nothing better to do and so they taunt and poke and act like jerks until they get a rise out of another of the kids. And usually, it's my middle child (14.5 years old) who is trying to get a rise out of my youngest (almost 9 years old). My eldest (17....how did that happen???) is sometimes hurtful and dismissive, but he has mostly recused himself from sibling battles in the past few years.
When I created my Châteaux and Shadows series, I started with Aurore, the smallest, the youngest (except for Emmanuel, who was born when she was eight), the only girl with three older brothers. She loves them all, but they don't necessarily get along. Like real families.
Her oldest brother, Cédric, has a personality similar to hers, in that they're outgoing and laughing and politically connected. But, you know, she's a baby. He'll mock her, but never hurt her. When push comes to shove, he'll be the first one in front of the king, working his charm and connections for the good of the family.
Her second-oldest brother, Jean-Louis (The Honorable Officer, book 2) has a reserved personality and stayed out of most skirmishes. He competed like crazy, even fought, with Cédric and even won, but he's not the heir, so he went into the army like a good second son. He stayed out of the sibling skirmishes except to step in front of Aurore to defend her.
Defend her from what? Well, defend her from whom? is a better question.
Because Henri (Henri et Marcel, book 4) is only a year older than Aurore and they squabbled a lot, but they were a pair. They ran wild together, fought together, loved each other, and sometimes hated each other. Of all her older brothers, Aurore is closest to Henri, but Henri was never close to anyone, really. But in the midst of Aurore's life and death drama, Henri's life is crumbling, too, and really, they love each other ferociously.
Aurore (The Indispensable Wife, book 1) is no angel. She's pretty, flighty, likes to sing and dance, and can charm the socks off almost anyone. But she's passive-aggressive at times, especially when her husband, Dom, has been neglecting her. When she's mad at her brothers she pinches their arms, knowing they can't retaliate. Yes, even as an adult.
Michel is their illegitimate brother and their dad managed to hide the fact from them for years. Aurore treated him like a little brother, though, and when the time came for him to defend her, he was the first in line.
And finally, Emmanuel, the Cranky Cavalier. Sorry, The Chevalier (book 3). He was born after a brief reconciliation between the baron and baronesse. This time, though, the baron thought his wife had cheated on him, because she was enormously pregnant after only a few months of pregnancy. Turns out, it was twins. The other twin died, Manu barely survived, then the baronesse raised him separately from the others, giving him a cold and lonely life at the court. When he's an adolescent, his father finally takes him away from their mother, but hands him over to Aurore. Manu has issues. He keeps his distance, even from Aurore, but enjoys his multitude of nieces and nephews, being the fun, young uncle who knows about horses and stuff.
And those are the kids of Monsieur de Cantière, Baron de la Brosse.
Book 5, Mélisande, is a tangent in which Manu's one sort-of-friend, Lucas de Granville, becomes disaffected with his extremely pious (on the surface) godfather (who's a co-conspirator with Manu's mom), meets the godfather's illegitimate daughter, the daughter of a known witch, tries to help reform her and shape her into a perfect, pious lady, then really gets to know her. (I'm currently working with my editor on this book and it should be out in just a couple months) (Or should be working, because here I am blogging...)
Book 6 takes place years later and is about Cédric's daughter, Françoise. I need to clean that one up and run it by my critique partners and submit it.
Book 7 is half done. It takes the last, lingering bits of mystery from Aurore's story and resolves them. Who shot that crossbow? And where did the co-conspirators who escaped go? And who is getting revenge on whom?