Immediately, my ears were flooded with the sounds of Kanye West, and as I looked around, I hardly knew what to process first. So much was going on.
People were wheeling racks full of flashy clothing of all colors around the carpeted space. Other people had earpieces in, clearly speaking to someone on the other side about important, show business things. Well, not speaking. Yelling.
Vic walked ahead of me and started talking. I strained to hear him over the background noise.
"Okay, so this hallway we're coming up on, that's where you get to ask all your questions and such, they'll answer everything there and give you the briefing about what's going to be going on here. Then, they'll introduce you to your team- that includes yours truly- and we'll go from there."
We arrived at a sleek gray door, one of many in the long corridor.
"I'm not sure exactly how they've scheduled all of you around each other, but there may be other contestants about. Not that you'll really know who is on the production team and who's not, but just as a general rule, don't talk to anyone unless they talk to you first. It sounds real weird, I know, but just go with it, sweetheart, it's all part of the process."
I nodded. There were so many things to remember; they all started bouncing around and I had to work hard to keep it all straight in my head. I began to understand why everyone in the other room was yelling.
"Okay, thanks for everything, Vic," I said. He winked, pushing open the door to hold it for me.
"I'll see you on the other side, kiddo."
I took a deep breath and walked into the room, a small, white space with a simple desk and a glass back wall that gave a view of the courtyard below. Behind the desk, sitting in a rolling chair, was a serious-looking woman in a drab pantsuit. She had a stern, platinum blond pixie cut that looked as if it belonged on someone younger and more free-spirited than herself, but I dispelled that thought. If you're going to judge by appearances, you're not going to have a whole lot to go on for the show. Don't be that girl.
She stood up and extended a manicured hand for me to shake. I did, and then sat down in the straight-backed chair opposite the desk.
"Hello, Ms. Kennedy. I am Veronica Pratt, the executive producer for Dating Democracy. I know we've put you through quite a bit since you've arrived here, but I'm afraid you're going to have to stave off the jet lag for just a bit longer while we get you situated here. It shouldn't take more than a couple hours, and then you'll be driven straight back to your hotel." She gave me a sympathetic smile, but it looked processed, and more than a little forced. Unlike Vic's easygoing grin, it didn't make me want to trust her.
"Right, okay. Vic told me all about it on the way over." I put on my best winning smile. If this lady was faking it, so would I.
"Ah, yes, Victor is a top notch advisor. You'll be glad to have him by your side throughout this experience."
I tried to remember a time when she had heard someone say 'top notch' in real life. None came to mind.
Veronica continued, "So, I'm sure you have many questions, and there will come a time for them, I promise, but for now, let me give you a quick rundown of everything that will be happening the next couple weeks." She took a deep breath, sounding like she was about to launch into a prerehearsed speech. I slumped a bit in anticipation.
"As you know, you have been chosen to participate in our new dating show. If you've seen the ads on TV and read through the descriptions in our propaganda, you probably are envisioning something like The Bachelor. I assure you we are quite different. You, my dear, are one of 24 contestants chosen, 12 male and 12 female. Before you ask, there is a proposal in the works for any further seasons to include and allow for the possibility of same sex coupling and the like, but as for now, the paperwork and forms are a bit complicated. That's why we had that sexual orientation blurb on your pre-show questionnaire."
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