I was happy being single. I really was. But my best friend, the annoyingly nosy Jason, had to sign me up for a local television show called "The Bachelorette and Her Three Babes." (Yes, it was as cliche as it sounded. And no, no one actually bothered to call it by its full name).
Of course, it was just my luck that the television show accepted my bullshit application over all of the men and women who had actually wanted to appear on it.
That meant, for one whole month, I was stuck in a house with three different men. I'd basically be dating them all at once for the audience's pleasure (and for a pretty big paycheck, which was the reason I actually went through with the asinine idea).
But would I get a say in who I wanted to date, or cuddle, or kiss? Of course not. That was up to the voters at home. I was the town's puppet. Their plaything.
"It's time to meet your potential mates," the host said as I stood outside the door of the tiny house we'd all be sharing. Three different cameras pointed in my direction, so I faked a smile.
Before the host had spoken, I'd almost forgotten where I was. I'd rather be snuggled up in bed with Netflix and my kitten, watching ridiculous reality shows instead of starring in one. But you can't always get what you want.
That's why I stood there silently as I watched a brown haired guy in a black wife beater look into the camera instead of my eyes. "I'm Brandon," he said in his grumbly voice. "I play hockey for my university. I'm also big into karate. I teach it to kids on weekends. I'm usually pretty busy, but I took the time off for this show. Everyone told me I needed a break, so I figured I'd finally take one."
I shook his hand, gave him another fake smile, and waited for the next guy to come out.
When he did, he was wearing a leather jacket with a pack of cigarettes sticking out from his jeans. His blonde bangs climbed down his forehead, covering half of his eyes.
So the first guy was an athlete and the next was a bad boy, which meant the last one would probably be some sort of nerdy genius. So cliche. So predictable.
I'd missed most of what the bad boy, Craig, had said. When I tuned back in, he was saying, "...the guitar, and the drums, and even the accordion. My grandfather used to be into that. I've always wanted a marriage like him and my grandmother have. 50 years. Insane, right?"
I just blinked, faked that smile again, and gave him a handshake that he turned into a hug.
Time for the last boy...
When he finally came out, my eyebrows slid up my forehead. I wouldn't be surprised if the viewers at home screenshotted my face and turned it into a damn meme.
"Surprise," my best friend, Jason said, lifting up his hands. "I was the one who filled out all that paperwork to get you on the show, because I wanted you to find love, and the producers thought it was sweet, so they asked me to be on the show, too." He ended his rambling by taking an exaggerated breath. "Can't turn down that big paycheck, am I right?"
I gave my first genuine smile. For that split second, I was thrilled. Thrilled that my best friend would be joining me in the house, so we could badmouth the other two men and talk about what a ridiculous show we were on. But then I realized that the voters at home could end up making us go out on dates and God knows what else.
So that smile faded.
Before I could decide which of the other two boys I'd decide to date if I actually had my own free will, the host started speaking again.
"Well now that we've briefly met the boys, it's time for the folks at home to vote," she said. "Who do you want Lilly to go out with on next week's show? Brandon, Craig, or Jason? Her love life is all up to you!"
** It's time for you to vote in the comments! **
** A) The athlete, Brandon **
** B) The bad boy, Craig **
** C) The best friend, Jason **