"This concludes our episode for today, folks, but stay tuned and continue to vote for your favorite couple! Polls will be open until midnight, tonight, Pacific Time, and official results will be posted on the show's official website at 8 o'clock tomorrow! Thanks for tuning in, and remember... all's fair in love and war!" 

The booming announcer's voice faded out to the show's theme song and a montage of various scenes of the episode playing. Information about the producers and when and where the next episode would air scrolled across the bottom of the screen in small white script.

I let out a deep, shaky breath I hadn't noticed I'd been holding in. I looked around the room; most of the other contestants had lost their bubbly pre-episode glow and were now sitting quiet, in various shades of red and pale, eyes fixated on the ad for cleaning supplies that was now running. Several conversations picked up in the awkward silence that followed, but I could tell that everyone felt, at least to some degree, what I was feeling. There aren't a lot of words to describe the feeling you get after seeing yourself on national television for the first time. 

I looked over to Patrick. He seemed cool, collected, and unfazed, as always, but I would be really surprised if even he wasn't feeling the slightest bit unnerved at this point. My phone buzzed in my pocket, startling me out of my thoughts, and I suddenly felt very constricted and stuffed, like I couldn't breathe. I stood up and brushed my fingers across my skirt, straightening it, and slowly picked my way over the people sitting on the floor. I walked over and out of the room, into the little dining area off the adjoining hallway, where I sank into the plush cushions of a window seat and rubbed my forehead, in an effort to snap myself out of it. Whatever 'it' was.

As I pulled my phone from my pocket, it buzzed once again. I let out a long, slow breath through my teeth as I scrolled through my notifications. There had to be at least a hundred. All were either notifications of new Twitter and Instagram followers, or texts or Snapchats from old friends, telling me they had seen me on TV and they couldn't believe how beautiful I was and what had happened with that nice accounting job I had gotten and where was that lovely boyfriend of mine and they had assumed that I was still in Chicago and how did someone like me end up on a television program like this, of all things. 

I suppose this was the price of being famous. I felt thrilled, for now. I'm sure that dread and my nerves would set in later, but right now, I felt like a full-fledged celebrity. I checked my Instagram and Twitter follower counts- they had risen to insane numbers, and wondered, momentarily, if this meant I would get verified, or something like that. I had never been big on social media, and tried to resort only to scrolling through my feeds when I was bored, which I was, frequently, but it had the same strange pull on me that it seemed to have on everyone else. I wouldn't mind a little bit of fame, much as I might act like I did.

"You too?" A voice said, startling me from my little daydream.

I looked up to see Andrew, smiling shyly and peering up at me through his hair.

"Can I..." he motioned to the seat next too me.

"Oh!" I stuttered. "Oh, yeah, sure, sorry." I moved over on the window seat to make room for him. 

"At first, I was really confused as to why my old college roomate texted me like we were suddenly  best buds again, and then I realized that he had probably just seen the episode. Weird of a thirty-something year-old guy with a family to be sitting at home watching the reality TV love show channel, but, hey, I'm on it, so who am I to judge?"

I laughed, in spite of myself. 

"Yeah, I got a bunch of texts and stuff, too. Now half of California can see all the memes that I retweet and my pathetic affinity for Vine, even as a thirty year old. Great."

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