I looked away from my laptop screen for a second and rubbed my eyes rigorously. I had been staring at the bright display for the better part of three hours, and it was doing absolutely nothing to help quell the feeling of intense panic arising in my stomach. Jazmin, Alice, and I had been in the kitchen all day, baking cookies and gossiping. Rose had come in, as well, just recently, and she sat down and joined us, though she had been relatively quiet. I hoped that this meant she was thinking about Uriah. Poor guy. They really needed to step up their chemistry if they were going to stay on the show any longer.

Couples were dropping like flies- the latest to go were two that I didn't know very much about; Tyler someone and some girl with a super Irish name that I couldn't now remember for the life of me. It seemed to me as if they had had pretty good chemistry in all of the episodes I'd watched, but I guess that the ever-growing audience of Dating Democracy didn't agree with me. They were a picky crowd, which is why it never ceased to amaze me that they seemed to like me.

I turned my attention back to the little orange bars that were constantly shifting in size on my laptop screen. I was on the show's website, closely monitoring the votes coming in for who was to be paired up with who when we switched dates for the coming episode.

"Seriously, babe, you have got to stop looking at that stupid site," said Jazmin, suddenly right behind me, her dark hair spilling over my shoulder as she took a peek at what had me so engrossed that I couldn't open the oven.

"She's right," added Alice with a sigh. "We all know what the outcome's gonna be, anyways." Alice gave Jazmin a knowing look, and an understanding seemed to pass between the two. They seemed to know each other so well. I envied that type of quick, easy friendship that they were able to build together.

Jazmin nodded. "They're gonna put you with Pat, the rest of us with God knows who. It's how they operate. I bet even if the stupid voting website said people wanted you with someone else, the producers would still put you with Pat."

I took a sip of my tea that was sitting on the counter and looked up at her. "And you're okay with that?"

She shrugged. Cool, collected. No big deal.

"Why should I care? It's not like I'm married to the guy." I was surprised. I knew that she and Patrick weren't necessarily in love with each other, but they seemed to really be hitting it off together, especially the last couple weeks. I didn't know how she could be so blasé about it all.

Alice seemed to agree. "This show puts you in a weird place like that. Like, I mean, if we were in normal relationships... this dating other people stuff? It would never fly. It wouldn't even be an option. But since we're in some weird fucked up game show type situation, it's just another day in Hollywood. Kinda a weird thing to go through."

"But, hey, I mean, we're managing," Jazmin said, turning away from me and back towards Alice, smiling widely at her.

"Yes, yes we are," Alice agreed. An amused look passed between the two of them as they caught each other's eye once again. 

Okay. Weird. Something was definitely going on here that I didn't know about.

"I think it's terrible, what it does to you."

We all turned towards the other side of the counter, where Rose was standing quietly. She hadn't said a single word up until that point, and I had honestly forgotten she was there. 

"What do you mean?" I asked her.

"I don't know," she said, shrugging, "It's just not natural. Nothing about our relationships are normal. We're like puppets. I know it's not a particularly original thought, and that it's literally what we signed up for, but I don't know." She sighed.

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