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Dr. Madeline Morgan, devoted entomologist, didn't bother looking at her older sister. Instead
she kept her eyes trained to a pair of high-powered binoculars as she scanned the barren desert
terrain. She was on a mission. A mission that had brought her from Georgia to Roswell, New
Mexico, and the desert wasteland they were driving through.
"It's not a bug, it's a butterfly, Mary Beth," Maddie corrected. "We're looking for a Deva
Skipper. Or if you prefer, Atryonopsis deva, to be exact."
Mary Beth sent her sister a sideways glance. "Well, if you ask me, the only divas in this desert
happen to be sitting right here in this Jeep." When Maddie laughed, Mary Beth said, "Well, at
least one of us could qualify as a diva, I suppose. In that costume you're wearing, you look
more like ..."
"Someone prepared to spend a hot August day in the desert, perhaps?" Maddie lowered her
binoculars and leaned back in her seat. "Only you, Mary Beth, would consider wearing a tube
top and thong for this type of outing."
"These are short-shorts, sister dear," Mary Beth said, continuing their usualsisterly repartee.
"Something you would know if you stopped playing professor long enough to get in touch with
your feminine side."
Maddie looked down at her own clothing. She had thoroughly researched what was considered
proper attire for the time they would spend in the desert. Like her sturdy long-sleeved shirt that
wouldn't allow desert sun access to tender skin, and her khaki straight-leg pants that tucked
quite easily into her sturdy new high-top hiking boots.
"Of course, it's that pith helmet that really makes the outfit," Mary Beth said on a giggle. "Yep,
nothing turns a man on quite like a stylish pith helmet. It reels them in every time."
"In case you've forgotten, it isn't male attention we're looking for," said Maddie.
Mary Beth tossed her long, pale hair back from her face and dropped her sunglasses down on
her tanned nose. "Speak for yourself. I'm always looking for male attention." She held Maddie's
gaze for a moment with challenging blue eyes.
It was like looking in a mirror, Maddie always thought. They were identical twins, with Mary
Beth being all of two minutes older. Yet, Maddie had always thought of them as the opposite
sides of a coin.
Even as children, Mary Beth had loved the frilly dresses, the white tights and the patent leather
shoes their mother had dressed them in. Maddie, on the other hand, had usually soiled her
dress, torn the knees of her tights, and scuffed the toes of her shoes crawling around on her
hands and knees observing insects of every size and description.
As they grew older, Mary Beth had been the social one, while Maddie kept her nose buried in
the encyclopedia learning everything possible about the winged invertebrate population. Mary
Beth had been the cheerleader and homecoming queen in high school, Maddie the valedictorian
of their senior class. And while Maddie had plunged into college for a Ph.D. in entomology,
Mary Beth had chosen an acting career.
We're identical, all right. Identical opposites, Maddie thought, but offering a truce to the
sister she dearly loved, she said, "I'll make you a deal. I won't say anything else about your
short-shorts, if you'll stop making fun of my pith helmet."
"It's a deal. But I wasn't kidding about heading back to the hotel within the hour," Mary Beth
threw in as she gave their immediate surroundings another nervous scan. "This place totally
creeps me out and you know it."
"Do-do-do-do - do-do-do-do." Maddie chanted the Twilight Zone theme in fun.
"Very funny," Mary Beth grumbled. "But more than one eyewitness claimed a space ship landed
in Roswell in l947. Some people even claim to have seen the bodies of those poor space
creatures our government dissected for its own amusement."
"And after fifty years of extensive investigation, the government concluded all those people saw
was a weather balloon," Maddie insisted.
Mary Beth sent her a shocked look. "You mean you really don't believe other intelligent life is
out there somewhere?"
Maddie grinned mischievously. "Maybe the surest sign other intelligent life does exist, is the fact
they've never tried to contact us."
Both sisters shared a good laugh before Maddie reached out and patted her twin's shoulder.
"You know, I really am glad you came with me on this trip. We never get to see each other now
that you're out in L.A."
"If you want to be in pictures, you've gotta go where the action is," Mary Beth answered with
her standard reply.
"I know," Maddie said with a sigh. "But we really do miss you, me and Mom and Pop. Though
I have to admit they haven't seen much of me, either, these days. I've been so caught up trying
to map out the migration of the Deva Skipper, I've barely had time to eat and sleep."
"And what happens if we do find this bug?"
"Butterfly," Maddie corrected again. "It's a rare species. There have been reported sightings in
the southeastern part of New Mexico, but none have been confirmed. If I could find one, it
could help pave the way to preserving future colonies."
"And also advance your career a little, maybe?" Mary Beth accused with a grin. "Like that
research team you're so eager to be chosen for?"
Maddie didn't deny it. "I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't kill to make my boss's research team
"On why an old bore like him can't find a date?"
For the first time, Maddie sent her sister a stern look.
"Okay. Don't get all huffy," Mary Beth said as she downshifted and picked up speed. "We'll
look a little longer, but I mean it, Maddie. There's no way we're staying out here in UFO utopia
"Afraid we might get probed?" Maddie chided.
"No," Mary Beth said with a laugh. "I'm more afraid you'll never get probed if this is your idea
of how to spend your summer vacation."
Maddie's eyes cut to the left. "That wasn't an invitation for another lecture about my love life."
"What love life? Or have you finally determined celibacy is too grim a fate even for a workaholic
Maddie took up her binoculars again and refused to answer.
"I hope you know you're fooling yourself. You think you're safely hidden behind those saintly
college walls playing professor, but one day some guy is going to come along and knock your
feet right out from under you."
Excerpted from Are Men from Mars?/Venus, How Could You? by Candy Halliday
Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.