“It’s not exactly a game show,” he corrected. “It’s reality TV.”

It’s still a game show. A stupid, egotistical, narcissistic, unliterary game show, she said to herself. “What about it?” she asked.

“I’ll be directing the next season which will start airing live two days from now and just a few hours ago--before you got the call to come here, actually,” he leaned against his desk with one hand and looked at her, “I received a call that one of the twenty-five girls who got in to be in the show backed out, saying she got engaged yesterday.”

Julianne waited for him to continue and when he didn’t she said, “Well, good for her.”

“And now we’re short of one girl to complete the twenty-five.” Julianne got a strong feeling where their conversation was heading and she was ready with an answer: NO. “And then, just minutes after I received that disappointing news, I got a call from one of my script writers from the TV series Living Life, which I will be directing next season, telling me that she will quit once her baby comes out. She said she wants to be a full-time mom.”

Julianne tried to hold out her ready-made answer for a moment after hearing that last part. She did not say a word and let Jack Carter continue his speech.

“What I’m proposing to you, Ms. Grey, is that you fill in the missing spot of one of the women in The Bachelor. You don’t have to try to stay in the show. Yes, the new Bachelor might choose you to be in the top fifteen, but there’s the bigger chance that he won’t,” he emphasized that last statement by looking at her all over again. “Let’s just say that you’ll only be there as a proxy, just to fill in the missing spot. So, you act as one of the ladies, fill in that missing spot and get the hell out of there. And then I’ll give you the vacant writer spot my soon-to-be-mommy writer will be leaving soon. What do you think?” Jack Carter looked at her with confidence. He knew what he was doing and he believed in it, Julianne thought silently. Carter was the kind of man who was used to getting what he wanted.

“I can leave whenever I want?” she asked.

“No, you can leave when the Bachelor doesn’t pick you. It will be easy,” he shrugged. “I personally know the man and he doesn’t really go for someone your type.”

Julianne was not offended, but she was deep in thought. She was not bothered about how she looked or how others saw her. She was deep in thought about something else entirely—something her wild writer side was already giddy for.

This could be something new. She could get some good subjects to write about for her future book if she joined the show. Getting out would be easy. She knew men don’t really dig women who dress or act like her. And if she could spare some time for one episode, endure the hours to be surrounded by vain women and finally get eliminated, then she would get that job she wanted. Living Life was a good series and she would love to work in it.

Having made her decision, she looked up at Jack Carter and said, “I’ll agree to your proposition only if you sign on it.”

Jack Carter smiled at her and held out his hand, “Consider it done.”

 *****

Diane, her friend and editor, looked at her with mouth slightly open. “You said no, right?” she asked, her eyebrows rising higher.

“Of course I said yes,” Julianne answered, throwing the high-heeled shoes she borrowed at the far corner of the room.

“This is just one of those moments when you’re trying to be funny it isn’t really working, right?”

Julianne frowned and looked at her friend. “No, I’m serious. I’m going to join that game show.”

“Okay, let’s assume I believe you…” Diane shifted on her seat and faced her, hands clasped together. “Why exactly did you agree to Carter’s proposal? You’re not bankrupt to be this desperate to get that writing job, are you? Because I will find it hard to believe for I know your book is doing pretty amazing right now. And I know you will not need to work for the next ten years or so. So,” Diane paused to catch her eyes, “tell me why you agreed to Carter’s outrageous proposal, Jules.”

“I’m curious,” she shrugged.

“Curious.”

“Yeah, I’m curious. I want to know what really happens behind the camera and I want to get a feel of those women who throw themselves at the Bachelor or whoever or whatever you call them.”

“Okay, that’s it…I’m through playing around. You can spit the punch line now,” Diane held up her hand.

Julianne frowned, untying her long brown hair. “There’s no punch line and I’m serious,” she eyed her friend through her slim spectacles, “I’m really serious.”

Diane looked at her for a long time, her eyes blank like she was looking at something but nowhere in particular at the same time. “You’re serious.”

Julianne nodded. “But,” she stood up and walked towards the kitchen counter, “as I’ve said, I’m not there for the long haul. I don’t expect to be and I don’t want to be. I just want to get enough points of view on what’s going on in that show for my next novel.”

“What if the Bachelor doesn’t want to let you go?”

Julianne chuckled dryly. “Diane, people like the Bachelor don’t even take a second glance at someone like me.”

“Why? You’re pretty,” Dian contradicted, “you’re not just vain enough.”

Julianne rolled her eyes. “I like myself as what I am.”

“But what are you going to do if ever that happens? I mean, if the Bachelor chooses you to stay?”

Julianne looked at her friend. “That’s why I’ll have to make sure he will kick me out at first sight, right?”

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