Jodi Bowersox has been an actress, seamstress, designer, business owner, home school teacher, kids’ choir director, and artist.
Her romance novels span genres from faith fiction to suspense to time travel to sci-fi with small town and big city settings. In addition, she has children’s picture books to her credit, a book of stage productions, and a non-fiction Bible commentary. As an award winning watercolor artist, Jodi specializes in pet portraits, and as a seamstress, she creates women’s vests out of men’s ties.
She lives in the heart of Colorado Springs with her husband and too many cats.
The following is an excerpt from “Mars Madness.”
Each week, The Colorado Sun and Colorado Humanities & Center For The Book feature an excerpt from a Colorado book and an interview with the author. Explore the SunLit archives at coloradosun.com/sunlit.
“Frankie, I don’t dare come in. You know your mom would have a fit if she saw me like this.”
Frankie turned back to her dad in the doorway with her hands on her hips. “I thought you said you needed to talk to her.”
“Yeah, that was before I decided on mud wrestling in Montana.”
They had left in quite a “gully washer,” as J.J. had called it. Doug’s feet had flown out from under him as they made a run for the skycar, laying him out flat. His whole rear view was caked with dried mud from his heels to his hair. “If one crumb of this Montana souvenir ends up on her white asparagus chenille twist carpeting, she’ll remove my hide along with the mess on my backside. I’ll have to take a rain check on the conversation, no pun intended.”
Frankie stood a moment as if listening to another part of the house. “I don’t think she’s here. Did you tell her when we’d be back?”
Doug cringed at the feeling of dried mud on his neck, but he didn’t dare brush it off. “Not the precise moment, no. Surely Minnie’s here.”
“Minnie!” Frankie called out, looking in the solar, the dining room, and the kitchen. Finally she stopped at a com panel on the wall, and with the press of a button, announced their presence on all three floors. “Minnie, Mom, is anybody here?”
After several moments of silence, she looked to Doug. “Nobody’s here, Dad. You can’t leave me alone.”
Doug sighed, wondering why Minnie wasn’t there and how long he’d have to stand outside waiting for Kat to return. “Give her a call and see where she is.”
Something about the way Frankie made the call seemed suspicious, and when she claimed she just got voicemail, Doug squinted in disbelief and pulled out his own phone. Frankie grabbed it out of his hand and ran into the solar. “Frankie, this isn’t funny. Bring back my phone.”
“Come and get it!”
“Do you want your mother to kill me?” He clasped his hands on top of his head, and a sprinkling of dried mud rained down. He took a quick step back. “Frankie, come on!”
With no response, he stepped even farther back on the front deck that worked like an outdoor elevator to all three floors of the tall, slender house. Leaning backward over the railing, he scrubbed the back of his head with both hands until he could no longer feel chunks of mud, then pulled his t-shirt over his head and hung it on the railing. Next came the square-toed boots he’d bought for horseback riding, then his socks and jeans. He hoped the neighbors were enjoying the show. He knew it was a production that Kat wouldn’t appreciate, but someone should.
Striding into the house in his blue plaid boxers, he pressed the button that slid the door shut and headed for the spiral staircase going down. He hoped he’d left a robe in the closet.
Katrina was still fuming when she drove onto her street. It had been three days since she’d taken Minnie to be repaired, and they were still working on her, trying to prevent complete schizophrenia. “When I get a hold of Doug…”
The problem was, every time she thought of Doug, she’d think of Blaze and how they had made out two nights in a row. And how his kisses hadn’t come close to a Doug kiss. It made her think she was nuts to have ever let him leave. It made her think that maybe she might be able to compromise a bit and learn to live with a small amount of chaos. It made her think– “What the hell is hanging on my railing?”
Someone had hung out filthy clothes like flags, suggesting some kind of allegiance to grime. She didn’t need to even look at the skycar parked in front to know who.
The garage door opened with her approach, and the Crawlies scattered into the shadows as she pulled in. She stormed into the house, all the reasons for being furious with Doug jostling for position in her head. She couldn’t decide if she was madder about his tampering with her maid, literally airing his dirty laundry on her railing, or the fact that his phenomenal kisses were no longer a part of her life.
She stomped through the rec sim room in heels not designed for stomping, her silky bell bottoms swishing together, and fairly flew up the spiral staircase, muttering with her head down about the almost sure demise of Minnie. She looked up at the sound of someone coming down and missed a step at the sight of a nearly naked Doug.
As the heel on her shoe broke, and her other foot stumbled to right the misstep, her brain went on a foray into self-chastisement for not realizing the obvious — Doug’s clothes were on her deck railing, and therefore, would not be on his body when she found him.
Two strong hands gripped her upper arms before she could tumble backwards. “Kat!”
Putting a hand to her heart, she tried to regain her composure, which was difficult staring into Doug’s muscular, bare chest. Words flew out in no particular order. “Minnie! Pants! Why?”
Doug blinked, still holding her firmly. “Breathe, Kat. I think you might be short on oxygen.”
Coherent thoughts hadn’t returned to her brain yet when the doorbell rang. Doug moved to the side, still keeping hold of one arm. “You probably want to get that. I’m hardly dressed for visitors.”
She maneuvered past him and walk/clumped up the stairs with her broken shoe. Doug called after her. “Kat, take off your shoes before you trip again!”
Reasonable, wise advice coming out of the man in plaid BVDs lit a crackling fire in her with great rapidity, and she torpedoed her shoes down the stairs at him one after the other. Since she had never perfected any kind of spiral throw, they launched over the railing and hit the wall.
Doug chuckled. “You need a lesson in physics, Kat.”
Fuming, she flew to the second floor in nylon-clad feet, holding up her too-long-for-bare-feet pants and trudged toward the third, furious with Doug for having removed her lift tube in favor of stairs. She heard voices before she reached the top and realized that Frankie must have answered the door.
“So your mom’s not home?” She recognized Blaze’s voice.
“No, but my dad is,” she heard her daughter volunteer. “Do you want to talk to him? Why do you have Minnie?”
Katrina’s appearance at the top of the staircase kept Blaze from answering Frankie. “Ah, you are here.” His smile seemed forced. “And so, I guess, is your ex, huh?”
Katrina hadn’t given this guy any reason to think they could be a couple — they’d just made out a few times — but she didn’t want to go into any of it in front of Francesca. “Yes.” She strove to shift the conversation. “You’ve brought Minnie home. Does that mean — ”
Blaze cut her off with a tiny shake of his head before turning to her maid. “Minnie, dear, you’ve been vacationing for two days. Don’t let me keep you from what you need to do.”
She did a slow blink before starting toward the stairs. “I believe I was in the middle of laundry.” Half way down she called back up. “My joints feel like a new factory install. That Maddox is amazing.”
Katrina took a moment to greet her daughter before dealing with Blaze, squatting down to give her a hug. “Oh, I missed you, Francesca! Did you have a good time? I want you to tell me all about it later.” She felt something hard digging into her back and released her. Francesca was holding a horse figure in a galloping pose. “What’s this?”
“Just something Dad bought me,” she said in a defensive tone that put Katrina on alert.
Blaze cleared his throat.
Katrina stood, and Frankie ran to the stairs and headed down. Looking to Blaze, she couldn’t help noting the contrast between his crisp button shirt and slacks with what had been hanging on her railing.
“So he’s just dropping her off, right?” Blaze was back to his usually cool self. “There’s nothing going on — ”
“Look, Blaze, I don’t want you to get the idea…” she trailed off as he handed her a piece of paper — Minnie’s bill. “Holy mother of all that’s holy!” She met his sheepish gaze. “She’s all better then, right?”
He paused just a second before shaking his head. “Not really. We couldn’t wipe out the virus without damaging her circuitry, and since you didn’t want to do a reset…” He trailed off, then brightened. “But we did stop the acceleration.” When she didn’t share his excitement, he went on. “At least her fantasies about Doug won’t get any worse.”
“But…” — she looked down at the bill — “this is what you’re charging me for NOT repairing her?”
“Hey, I’m not the boss. I have to account for the time the bots put in on her.” He took a step closer and dropped his voice to that sexy whisper of his. “I could maybe be persuaded to… fudge the numbers a bit, since we’re… close.” His hand came up, and she wondered if he were going to fondle her earlobe, but he just swept a strand of her hair behind her ear.
Katrina was speechless. _Are we… close?_ As charming and good looking as Blaze was, she didn’t think she was interested in dating someone so much younger than she was — if dating was even what he had in mind — but this bill was completely beyond her budget.
Before she could respond in any way, a yell came from downstairs — too deep for Frankie, but not quite manly enough for Doug. It almost sounded like someone had grabbed him by the — “Minnie!”
Katrina raced back down the stairs with Blaze following, knowing that for the price of Minnie’s “spa” treatment, she could have a new lift installed.
She found Francesca staring wide-eyed at the laundry room door while Doug chirped and screeched within. Katrina charged forward to find Doug pinned against the instawash, his butt shimmying side to side on the panel of buttons as he tried to avoid Minnie’s roaming hands, sending the machine behind him into spasms of random cleaning cycles.
“Minnie!” Katrina yelled, trying to pull her away. “Doug is not… he’s not into you! You need to stop!”
“He’s just shy,” Minnie stated while Katrina kept a firm grip on her arms.
Katrina looked to Doug as he adjusted his boxers, a look of sheer terror on his face. “See what you’ve done?” she accused, sounding like a harridan. “You have no one to blame but yourself. This is all your fault.”
“I’ll say,” Minnie agreed. “He was waiting for me in one of my favorite rooms.”
Doug was incredulous. “My fault! I was hoping to find some clothes in here — maybe something I left behind. I was not hoping for a romantic interlude with a lunatic robot!”
“It’s okay, Dougie,” Minnie purred. “The cat has jumped out of the sack. Katrina knows about us.”
Doug looked to Katrina with such a look of bewilderment, she would have been taken in if she didn’t know the truth of the matter. “Sometimes your practical jokes don’t work out, do they ‘Dougie’? Blaze says she’s stuck like this, so you’ll have to get used to being groped when you’re here.”
His eyes grew even rounder. “She’s stuck? And who in blazes is Blaze?”
Blaze appeared at Katrina’s side. “Uh, that would be me. Good to meet you, uh, Doug.” He put an arm around Katrina’s shoulders, his gaze sliding down Doug’s mostly exposed body. “Kind of awkward all the way around.”
Doug didn’t know when he’d slipped into an alternate dimension, but he was pretty sure he had. Everything had seemed to go weird when he’d stepped through the door, leaving his dirty clothes outside. He wondered if he had opened a portal to some kind of bizarro world where Minnie wanted to jump his bones and Kat spoke in random syllables. The college kid acting like he was Kat’s boyfriend was the only thing keeping him from running out of the house, with or without clothes. He wanted to get to the bottom of that.
“Okay, first of all” — he shivered in disgust at the look of lust on Minnie’s face as she stared at his chest — “first of all, are there any clothes here that I can put on?”
Kat slipped the cocky dude’s arm from around her and moved it to Minnie. “Blaze, if you could take Minnie…”
“Sure, babe,” he said with a wink, and Doug felt his hands form into fists. He knew he shouldn’t punch the thing keeping Minnie away from his privates, but the guy was asking for it.