Remember that 1987 comedy starring Elizabeth Shue, where a teenager and the kids she’s agreed to babysitter get embroiled in all kinds of wild situations?  Pure fiction, right?  Everyone knows babysitting is two parts dull and one part watching TV while the kids sleep.  What if you saw this ad in the local newspaper:  

Nanny wanted. Must have desire for, and ability to accept, excitement, adventure, and danger.

Would you be tempted to answer it?  No?  Not even if the address was a New York penthouse and the advertiser a rich, handsome and fairly young widower?  And he had three of the cutest kids you’d ever seen?  And a to-drool-over older son, plus an even more hunky younger brother?  Even if the brother does have the slightly weird name of “Kitten”?

Do I hear “Yes!” popping up everywhere?

That’s the situation for Miranda Wilson when she answers Dominic Andrus’ ad.  Granted the interview’s a little strange—and even Miranda will admit it—for all Mr. Andrus wants to know is whether Miranda likes science fiction, what her opinion is concerning flying saucers and Men in Black, and if she minds traveling.  Son Niki is good-looking and a bit of a flirt though he’s also a definite chauvinist.  As for her new charges…triplets, Paris, Diana, and Adrian are smart, cute, and at the center of a gigantic custody battle between Dominic and his former in-laws, a fight so horrendous he has had to leave his home and take up residence in New York where they have no jurisdiction…

            …and that’s the first inkling that all isn’t as it appears in the Andrus household.  Suddenly Miranda has too many questions--why does Niki carry a concealed weapon?  Who is the beautiful young girl living with the Andruses and why does Niki hate her so?  How did Dominic’s late wife really die? Where is Dominic Andrus really from?

            …and then there’s the multi-married Kitten Andrus, handsome, brooding, and father of eight.

            Miranda meets Kit via telephone, his image set against the billowing flames of an Andrus tanker which those same former in-laws have just blasted.  Naturally, Dominic has to return home, wherever that is, leaving Miranda in charge.  Months later, she sees Kit in person when he appears in the middle of the night announcing he’s come to take Miranda, the triplets, and everyone in the penthouse “to Dom.”  Boarding a yacht in the harbor, they’re on their way, but minutes after the ship weighs anchor, fighter planes attack, and Miranda learns first hand that everything she’d thought about Dominic Andrus has been a lie…everything except his love for his children, that is.

Miranda is about to experience some very deadly adventures in babysitting!
            What would you do if you suddenly learned your employer is an interplanetary Mafioso and the man you love is his chief hitman?  And those in-laws?  Just a rival crime family,  that’s all, and their leader is determined to kill every member of the Andrus clan and take back Dominic’s children.

            What can one Earthwoman do to save the aliens she’s come to love?


The Observation Room was a miniaturized version of Dominic’s office aboard the Alexa. The desktop was startling. Not a desk at all but a gigantic computer terminal, with no keyboard, mouse, or speakers in sight. Now that she thought about it, the computer screen on the Alexa hadn’t had any of those things, either, but it hadn’t registered at the time, just tucked itself away in the back of her mind until now. Okay, so it’s a really highly  evolved model, voice-responsive or something. Dominic would have the very latest in electronics, of course. So naturally, his brother would, also. Men and their toys…
She wondered how the unit was activated. Another question for Master Kit to explain.
Miranda turned her attention to the rest of the room. It was long and narrow and, with the exception of the desk, had very little furniture. A narrow wall covered with shelves filled with items resembling CD jewel cases except they were a quarter of the size of a CD. Between each set of shelves, large photographs decorated the walls. The sliding panel serving as a door filled the third wall, and the fourth
 It curved in a slight arc, broken by the insertion of long, narrow windows. Several chairs had been placed before them.
Slowly, Miranda sank into one of the chairs. When several minutes passed and Kit didn’t appear, she began to fidget. More minutes passed. The impatience turned to anxiety, then to anger.
Unable to sit still any longer, Miranda jumped to her feet and began to wander around the room, looking at the pictures on the walls. She forced herself to concentrate on them and not the absent Kit and the aftermath of whatever had happened while they were cowering in the cabin.
The pictures were beautiful, though rather odd. Not photographs as she’d first thought, but images etched onto thin metal plates, similar to laser drawings. They were attached to the walls in a way making them seem a part of it. There were three of them, astronomical scenes. A star bursting into supernova, scattering bright splinters of light through the blackness, a brilliant red planet lit like a quarter-moon, reflecting the sun along its edges, a comet trailing through the dark. All beautiful, filling her with a sense of awe and curiosity as to how the pictures had been made.
On one shelf, she saw a model of a ship similar to the one in Dominic Andrus’ office. This one had a different set of curving letters on its bow. She studied it a moment, then, quite naturally, her gaze moved from the little model to the windows in the curved wall.
There were two of them, long, narrow openings fitted close together, and she stood before the first, staring in amazement at the outside darkness. By some visual trick, the ocean seemed to have disappeared, sky and horizon blending together so it looked as if the ship was floating directly toward the stars.
Miranda stared, fascinated.
The door slid open and Kit came in. He didn’t speak, just walked over to stand beside her.
“Mr. Kitten, look at that.” She turned to look at him. “What a fantastic optical illusion. It looks as if we’re flying!”
“It’s not an illusion, Randa.” To her surprise, he sounded strangely solemn.
“What do you mean?” She looked back at the window, then at him again.
He didn’t answer. Instead, he said, “Open inner shields.”
Panels on either side of the windows slid apart, revealing a transparent wall, and beyond it...
Miranda stared, refusing to believe what she saw.
A blue globe. Continents, oceans partially covered by cotton-wisps of clouds. She knew and recognized a sight she’d never seen except from photographs taken by astronauts as they watched the Earth from their vantage point on the Moon.
“T-that looks like the Earth.” Miranda looked at Kit again. He was scowling slightly.
“It is.”
No. She didn’t want to hear that, wanted him to say it was some kind of photograph, a video image or hologram...another optical illusion...
“But…” In her own ears, her voice sounded so stupid. “I-if the Earth’s down there, a-and we’re up here, that mean’s we’re in…” She didn’t finished the sentence, barely heard his soft affirmation.
“We are.”
Miranda took a quick breath just short of being a gasp. She felt her insides flinch and spasm as if someone had just struck her in the stomach. Her mouth fell open and she tried to scream but the sound wouldn’t come. It stayed inside her, spinning around and around in her chest, so the only sound she could make was a sickly strangled whimper, barely heard through the hands she pressed to her mouth as she turned her disbelieving gaze on Kit again.
“Randa?”  Kit appeared startled, as if he hadn’t expected this reaction.
“I don’t understand.” Suddenly, her confusion seemed replaced by absolute terror. Her eyes were so wide, the irises seemed bare more than blue pinpoints in a vast whiteness. Miranda took another deep, stricken breath. When Kit reached for her, she dodged and backed away, bumping against the shelves behind her. Jostled by the impact, the little model wobbled, toppled over, and fell to the floor. Both ignored it.
“Who are you? What are you?”
“You said you knew.” His confusion mirrored her own., the words came out as an accusation. “About us...about Gataeus.”
“I know Mr. Andrus is from Gataeus. Ardala told me, but that’s all she said.”
Oh, sweet gods, I thought she knew everything! Now, Kit looked shocked and the expression on his handsome face shook Miranda even more.
“Who are you?” she repeated.
“Isn’t it obvious?” He shrugged and smiled slightly, trying not to look so serious.  He forced himself to relax.  I’ll treat the whole thing as a joke, get her to laugh...anything to get that frozen fear off her face. “I’m the bug-eyed monster, the Thing from Outer Space... I’m ET.”

The Rose and the Dragon was released June 15  from Class Act Books.


  1. Judy // June 17, 2012 at 11:01 AM  

    Toni, As usual you've come up with a great plot and a great book! Love the whole idea! Good luck with it!

  2. Mary Ricksen // June 17, 2012 at 1:57 PM  

    You have an amazing imagination Toni!!! I wish you the best!

  3. Toni V.S. // June 17, 2012 at 4:10 PM  

    Thanks, girls.

  4. Patrice // June 17, 2012 at 10:18 PM  

    Holy crap - this is amazing, Toni. You have so much going on, and it's really exciting stuff. Sounds like a winning combination to me.

  5. Mary Marvella // June 18, 2012 at 1:21 AM  

    Loved it the first time!

  6. Josie // June 22, 2012 at 8:49 AM  

    Brilliant concept. I'm sure the book is great!