Children generally aren't featured in romances--unless it's as the long-lost heir to a fortune or an equally secret offspring someone would prefer to forget. Even the most fair-minded of heroes will run like the dickens if he hears the wings of the stork approaching, even if--deep, deep down in his wild and free-living heart--all he truly wants is a spouse and little ones gathered around the hearth to give him the adoration he feels he deserves. A good many of my heroes have family issues which, through their own machinations or some other force, involve their present--or future--offspring.


In Serpent's Tooth, Rock star Travis Brandt vanishes without a trace after his wife gave birth to a stillborn son. The reason: while under the influence of sex, drugs, and rock n' roll, Trav offered his unborn child to a demon. A quarter of a century later, a much older Travis re-marries and finds himself again about to become a father--and the demon is still waiting....


Sar Trant of Three Moon Station became a father at age fourteen, raising his motherless son and becoming a respected rancher because he was determined to show he could be a good parent and rise above all the strikes against him. When he meets fugitive Katy Rawls, she has no choice but to fall in love with this kind and gentle man who has a will of steel.


At the age of twenty-four in Human Years, vampire Marek Strigoi, the Shadow Lord, becomes a surrogate father to his younger brothers, twins Vlad and Andreas, when his father is killed by a rogue vampire. He also becomes the adopted father of a human child left in place of his kidnapped little sister. For the next sixteen years, the two main concerns in Marek's live will be caring for his siblings and finding his father's killer, until he meets Lily-Magda, the one woman he will love throughout the centuries. Marek's love for Lily and his duty to his family will be the driving forces in his life for the next three hundred years.


Sinbad sh'en Singh, the feline smuggler of the Adventures of Sinbad, wants nothing more than to have a den, a mate, and many furry little cubs. What he gets is a strong-willed little Terran named Andrea, the establishment of a billion Credit shipping industry, and so many children and grandchildren, he sometimes can't remember their names--but he and Andi have plenty of adventures and love along the way!


Riven kan Ingan of Bloodseek is the son of a wolf's-head, a foreign mercenary. After a particularly vicious battle, he's told he'll be unable to sire a child. He's also been told that the gods have prophesied that he's to be the Father of Kings. Trying to reconcile those two facts is enough to make him glad he doesn't believe in the gods, but it all comes about because he rescues a barbarian slave named Barbara.


Kitten Andrus, the Dragon of The Rose and the Dragon, is Head of Security and chief hitman for the House of Andrus, the strongest crime family on the planet Gataeus. Kit has a problem with women--all his wives have been social climbers who want his name but no part of being a homebody and mother. The day Miranda Wilson, his brother Dominic's Terran nanny, meets his offspring, she's less than impressed with his parenting skills. Teasing him about remembering his many children's names, she then wonders about his wife:


“And when do I get to meet Mrs Andrus?”


Kit frowned as if he didn’t understand. “My mother’s been dead for quite some time--”


“Not your mother-- Your wife. When will I meet her?”


Perhaps she was resting upstairs, was an invalid or something. She envisioned the woman as pale and exhausted, worn out from giving birth to so many children and from the undoubtedly vigorous onslaught of Kit’s lovemaking, which would regularly create another one.


“Oh. My wife. I’m not married, Randa. I don’t have a wife!”


“Come on!” Miranda retorted. She waved a hand around the table, indicating the children who were now totally silent. “You didn’t do all this by yourself, did you?”


“Well--” he stopped, disconcerted by the stares which now were directed at him. “Of course not! Each child has a mother!”


Each child? My God!--didn’t you marry any of them?” Her disbelieving gaze swept the table.


“My wives chose not to stay with me, Randa, and they chose not to take their children when they left. Under Gataen law, a father may deny paternity of a child deserted by its mother, but I’ve legally recognized and accepted responsibility for each one.” His voice dropped slightly. “I love my children....”


He bowed his head and kissed Cynti’s cheek, brushing a finger against one of the dark curls. If she’d doubted his affection for any of them, it vanished with that one caress.


“But-- Eight women! Why, you must have had them going through here on a conveyer belt! What did you do, assign them numbers?”


“I suppose that means you think I don’t remember their names, either?”


“Well?” She stabbed at a slice of meat with her fork and ate it almost viciously.


“Well-- what?”


“Name them!” When he didn’t answer, she went on, vaguely aware that now the children were hiding smiles behind their hands, the two eldest boys exchanging amused glances at sight of their father arguing with his guest. “Go on! Match each child with his mother’s name!”


“All right!” Defiantly, he looked at Nikolas. “Nikolas’ mother was Liliane--”


“Lilith....” the boy corrected softly, just loud enough for Kit to hear.


“All right, then--Lilith! Damn, that was a long time ago! I was only seventeen!”


Lord, a father at seventeen? What had Big Brother Dominic thought about that--or had he cared?


He looked at his next son, thirteen-year-old Stefan, bright-eyed and nudging Nikolas while barely stifling a grin.


“Stefan’s mother....” Kit frowned, forehead wrinkling. “Glorisi…. I remember she was a quiet, little thing-- barely ever spoke above a whisper, except the day she learned Stefan was on the way!”


He laughed.


Miranda shot a quick glance at Stefan. The boy was laughing, too.


“Left here the next day, promising to let me know when I became a father! She sent Stefan to me by Special Messenger the day after he was born." Kit looked fondly at the child, leaning forward to ruffle his hair. "Best package I ever received!"


He named the next three children in easy succession, then looked at the twins.


“Don’t have any trouble remembering your mother’s name, do I? Alexa!” His tone was a little rueful but he winked at Dom's triplets, who giggled, probably because it was also their own mother’s name, Miranda thought.


Now, Kit shifted Cynti to his other knee so that the little girl was facing Miranda.


“And then, there’s Cyntis. That was her mother’s name, also. Still haven’t figured out how I got a female chlid....” he shrugged. “I was a little drunk that night. Must have weakened me....”


“A mere female?” Miranda spluttered. “After so many sons? I’m surprised you kept her!”


“It was a novelty!” He didn’t appear upset by her sarcasm. “Didn’t have any choice, anyway, even if I’d wanted one. Her mother died giving birth....”


His arm tightened around the little girl.


“Oh, I-I’m sorry....”


“She was ill.” He explained quietly. "We didn't know it--if I had, I'd have never--" a quick sigh. "I was there when the baby was born. I was holding Cyntis' hand when she died...."


There was a long silence, broken only by the sound of forks and spoons scraping plates as the children continued to eat, apparently unmoved by the story of their little sister’s being half-orphaned at birth--or perhaps because they were accustomed to hearing it.


“I’m sorry,” Miranda said again, much softer, and meant it.


“Don’t be,” Kit answered. “I’m not. I’m not sorry for any of it. Cyntis and I had two good years together and maybe, that was enough!”


Deep, deep down, no matter what they actually say, all these men love their children--and the women who bear them--and the adventures they have along the way and the love they share make up their stories.

(The Rose and the Dragon is published by Double Dragon Publications, as is Bloodseek and the Adventures of Sinbad. Shadow Lord will be released by Belle Books, date TBA, and Three Moon Station will be available through The Wild Rose Press, released date also TBA.)

4 comments

  1. Beth Trissel // June 24, 2008 at 4:17 PM  

    True, Toni. Deep down, I think men do love their children. You have to dig pretty deep to find any proof of that in some men.

  2. Mary Marvella // June 26, 2008 at 8:31 AM  

    You hit the nail on the head. We love a man who is good to children.

  3. Mary Ricksen // June 27, 2008 at 10:07 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  4. Mary Ricksen // June 27, 2008 at 10:09 PM  

    Some men just don't get it. How nice to hear about one who does.