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THE BACHELOR ON MARS
The Bachelor Diaries #1
BY LEIGH WYNDFIELD
She’s a mechanical engineer undercover as a contestant. He’s a geologist trying to keep his research station afloat. Then comes the alien invasion…
Mechanical engineer Margaret Carson’s biggest dream is fulfilled when she gets to test her new rover on Mars, but of course there is a catch. She must fill in for a contestant on the reality TV show Mars Bachelor and get voted off before she can run her trials. But when she arrives on Mars, the owner of the research station, Jack Boyle, is attacked by an alien ship. She and Jack must combine forces to save the cast members and themselves. As the clock ticks down, will they survive? And if they do, will one of them give up their career for the other?
Margaret Carson rose from a crouch, wrench in hand, to find her research assistant Taylor
fidgeting on the far side of the lift. The graduate students always seemed to be fidgeting, as if she made them nervous, which was silly. She wasn’t an ogre, just no-nonsense and direct.
“Yes?” she asked, hoping the interruption would be fast. If she adjusted the drive shaft a
tiny bit, she knew the rover she’d spent the last five years working on would be perfect.
“Dr. Carson, I know you asked not to be disturbed.”
“True.” She couldn’t return to work until she dealt with whatever Taylor had to tell her,
so Margaret forced herself to focus.
“A man is here who says he’s your brother,” Taylor said in a rush, her voice breathy and
higher than usual, her face shining with fascination. “I didn’t even know you had a brother.”
Every woman had this reaction to Hank. Her whole family had been blessed in the good-
looks department, a trait that had been a hindrance more than once in her career. As a mechanical engineer, her appearance should never be more important than her brain, so she’d learned to be as incognito as possible. She accomplished this by wearing what she called her uniform—black pants, a shapeless golf shirt and no makeup. Her hair was always in an unsophisticated ponytail and she’d added glasses despite not needing them.
She suspected she’d taken the slightly sloppy look too far, but it was so comfortable, she’d be okay if she never wore high heels again.
“Show him in,” she said with a sigh. If her brother had come in person, then the four
messages he’d left earlier really had been important after all, which wasn’t necessarily true when it came to her brother.
She’d planned to call him in a couple hours. After she’d finished the adjustment she’d
woken up in the middle of the night knowing would solve the drive train problem that had
cropped up last week on the rough terrain simulating Mars. Which was where her rover would ultimately end up, when she won the grants to pay to test it on the Red Planet.
“Margo,” her brother said from somewhere above her, making her jump because she’d
already forgotten him.
“Hank,” she said, straightening, blinking a bit to bring him into focus.
Her brother’s name was Harold, but he was not a Harold. Her brother was the least stuffy,
most fun-loving guy she knew. Women and even men flocked to him, with his blond hair and easy smile, straight teeth, glowing green eyes, and perfect body. Today he was dressed as a TV executive, which was what he did for a living.
Her brother frowned in concern, clearly wondering as all her family did, how this had
happened. This being her whole mechanical engineering fixation. “I have a proposition for you.”
She didn’t have time for one of her brother’s schemes, so she said, “No,” and leaned over
to the rover.
Hank knocked on the rover’s hood.
She stumbled backwards in surprise, having already drifted into work. “Why are you still
here? You know I don’t participate in your crazy plans anymore, Harold.”
“I know you don’t usually, Margaret,” he said, stressing her full name as she had stressed
his, but the difference was, she liked it better when he called her by her name. She was the one person in the family who appreciated a stuffy handle. “But this time, you will be glad you listened to me.”
Margaret straightened and put on her patience hat. The way to get rid of Hank was to hear
it all the way through and then be firm and clear. When her brother dug in like this, he wasn’t going to go away without fully exploring his skills of persuasion. While tenacity was one of her own positive attributes, she found it annoying in others. “I’m listening.”
“You know my latest TV show?”
She strained her brain, but the file folder came up empty. “No.” She loved her brother
and knew he loved her, but they were completely opposite people, and as such had a hard time finding each other interesting.
Hank threw up his hands, clearly exasperated. “Margo, do you ever notice what anyone
else does with their lives?”
“Not really,” she admitted, wondering why he looked so huffy. She wished no one ill, she
just had better things to do with her time. She glanced at the rover. Like work.
Hank knocked on the rover’s hood again, annoying her. “Don’t ignore me when I’ve
driven all the way over here to talk to you.”
She stepped away from her work, because she wouldn’t be able to stand near and not
focus on it. “Then talk.”
“My latest show I’m producing is called The Mars Bachelor.”
“Oh, good lord,” she whispered, but softly, because she couldn’t get rid of him without
him saying whatever it was he’d come to say.
“It takes place on Mars, of course.”
She blinked. “But that would cost millions.”
Hank huffed out a laugh. “You have no idea. We can’t film without two rockets to move
both the people and equipment up and back down, which would blow your mind it’s so
expensive. Then we have to pay to live in some crappy research station that is about one step up from camping despite a daily rate that is triple the Ritz per person.”
The full impact hit her. “Wait! Are you telling me you’ll get to Mars before I will, Hank?
Because if you’re telling me that, we both know that’s completely unfair.” She’d spent her life trying to get to the red planet.
“Have you ever watched The Bachelor?” he asked, ignoring her question.
“Of course not,” she said, insulted.
“My God, it’s like you’re not even part of our generation,” he said, shaking his head.
“Okay, so the premise is that women compete to end up engaged to one man. He slowly weeds them out until he’s left with The One.” He made air quotes around the last two words.
She hissed. “That is one of the most hideous, women-debasing things I’ve ever heard,
and you’re producing it?”
“Settle down,” he said, grinning at her, not insulted in the least by her criticism. He never
was. “They have the same show in reverse where the woman picks from a group of men.”
“Still disgusting, even if the woman is picking,” she informed him, but had to secretly
admit it wasn’t as gross.
“We’re set to leave tomorrow for Mars.”
She moaned in jealousy. Her brother, who had once declared that only geeks were
interested in space, was going on her dream trip.
Going to Mars would be commonplace in the next twenty or thirty years, now that they’d
solved the space travel puzzle. With the introduction of new rockets and a cheap fuel source, it was only a three-week trip instead of three hundred days. But for today, only scientists and a small few were given visas to go up and even then, the price was astronomical.
But somehow her brother and a group of desperate-to-be-in-love women were heading up
to the red planet before she was. She gripped a nearby lab table to steady herself.
Hank raised his fist as if to knock on her rover again.
“You better not,” she warned, but she wasn’t really angry. It was impossible to stay mad
at Hank since he was in a continuous good mood. And it wasn’t his fault he was going to Mars before her. He’d probably done market research and found Mars was the number one filming location for high ratings. And she had to admit, even she would be tempted to watch.
He laughed and lowered his hand. “One of the contestants fell and broke her leg last
night. We need a fill in.” He looked at Margaret expectantly.
She made a hurry up motion with one hand, wondering why he’d paused. Surely he’d be
gone soon, so she could get back to work.
He shook his head, wearing a look that he often had when they talked. “You.” He pointed
at her. “I need you to fill in.”
“You want me to be on a show where a man picks through women like he would choose
a dog at the pound?”
He nodded. “On Mars.”
Oh, God. Would she give up her pride to go to Mars? “Why me?” she asked. He had
other people to choose from, like someone who wanted to put themselves in a debasing and probably humiliating position.
“Who else would I think of? You’ve talked about little else since we were kids. And very
few people are sitting around with all the psych evaluations and vaccines completed.” Hank gave her an assessing look. “Besides, you’re beautiful and I need a gorgeous woman. And we can play up the brainy professor thing.”
“Great. Just what I’ve always longed for. The opportunity to be valued for my looks.”
Another thought occurred to her. “Wait a minute, you think I’ll let you publicly humiliate me in front of all my peers on a national TV show?”
Hank nodded. “International. The show is in every English speaking country and dubbed
in three languages.” Hank’s pride at this fact was clear.
“You’re insane,” she whispered, staring at her brother with wonder. Did he have no idea
who she was? She would never risk her reputation like this, even if Mars was her biggest dream.
“I have spent my life building my academic reputation. I would never live it down if I went on your show.”
“This show is not about humiliating women, Margo.” His tone turned annoyed. “It’s
“Love is for saps and losers, Hank.”
“How were you born into our family?” he asked, his voice filled with awe, because Hank
was a man who loved deeply and often.
“No one ever was remembered throughout history for being in love,” she said, trying to
explain. Her life was about making this world better, dreaming up solutions to hard problems. She wanted to leave her stamp on space long after she was gone.
“How about Romeo and Juliet?”
She covered her eyes with her hands. Did her brother not read? “They were fourteen-
year-olds who killed themselves. Besides, they weren’t even real people. Shakespeare made
Hank stared at her with that determined look on his face. The same one that had once had
him heckling her until she’d been the lead in a play he’d written, a memory that still made her burn with humiliation every time she thought of it. He pointed at the rover. “If you come fill in, I promise to give you a fake name, hide your identity, and—”
She opened her mouth to cut him off.
He raised his voice to finish, “—you can test your rover.”
She closed her mouth, staring at him in shock. Test her rover. On Mars.
Leigh Wyndfield lives in rural Virginia with her fat cat Ayra, two lovable rescue puppies, four chickens, and the best guy in the world. A city girl at heart, she’s embracing the mysteries of growing things and watching deer race from hunters through her yard. Traveling and driving an ambulance round out her time. She writes romance fiction that is out of this world.
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Thanks, Leigh, for sharing your story with us!
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