Chapter 5

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Pauline appeared to be a bit disappointed.

“Chicago? Like I haven’t been there? I thought we were going to Vegas or something,” she grumbled on. They were in their room, getting ready for the trip. “You sure you’re going like that?”

“Yes,” she answered with a nod. She was busy frowning down her computer in her baggy white shirt and shorts. Lucky she brought her own boots.

“But I’m excited anyway,” Pauline continued on. “I want to buy some new stuff to wear in the island.”

“Uh-huh,” she nodded absently. She would not go shopping. She was going elsewhere to do more important things.

When she heard Zach utter the word Chicago, she almost jumped with joy. The man was not heartless after all, she thought. But she couldn’t forgive him just yet. She was supposed to be in Chicago by now and not some unknown, freaking island!

 *****

One thing she noticed: Brent was not always around. It only occurred to her that the host was only obliged to talk to them during the rose ceremony. Now that she thought of it, she remembered seeing one episode of the show and the host was always having those single shots doing a narrative. And she was thankful for that. Brent’s presence reminded her of the cameras and how she should watch her movements.

“Hey,” Zach was already outside waiting for them dressed in a casual attire of jeans, shirt and his sunglasses. His hair was combed up and away from his face but a few strands were dangling on his forehead. Julianne had to admit that he was a pretty sight.

Julianne’s eyes squinted. Not against the sun but against the blasted stingy reflections coming from the camera tagging along with them.

From a distance, she saw Jack Carter talking to some of his crew and she guessed he was not coming. That’s good. She could murder the dude.

“Hello!” Pauline, being her jolly self, greeted Zach.

“Hey, Jules!” Zach waved at her. Was he serious? Really? Waving was for some teenagers who went on first dates. Did he mean anything by that stupid motion of his hands?

She just nodded and walked towards where the yacht was docked saying, “It’s getting hot.”

“Excited?” she heard him ask Pauline behind her.

“Yes, of course,” her new friend answered.

Good thing they were not alone.

But he just wouldn’t let her be by herself. He just couldn’t help it, could he? “So, Jules,” he said, chasing after her, leaving behind the struggling Pauline who seemed to have some problems with her heels.

“What?” she asked snidely without looking at him.

“You happy we’re going to Chicago?” his white smile was a contrast to the dashing sunglasses he was wearing.

“Yeah, I’m jumping with joy,” and if there was anything dryer than her tone, it was the sand beneath them.

“Look,” he said in a low voice, “I’m sorry if you thought I broke a promise, but I don’t really recall making one.”

“Forget it, Astor. Just remember what I said last night,” she retorted sharply. He was right after all and she was actually angrier to herself than him. She was foolish and giddy to have concluded that he said yes.

“Now let me tell you honestly that I can’t promise to let you go next ceremony,” he stressed out.

She froze. “Why?” she demanded.

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