Planning on Prince Charming(2)

By: Lizzie Shane


It was against all the rules. She could be kicked off the show for leaving her room, let alone trying to make contact with Mister Perfect before the cameras were rolling.

But would that really be so terrible?

Just one little peek could ease all her fears… and if she was caught, maybe it was the universe telling her she wasn’t meant to be on national television, hiding from the cameras and cringing every time she thought about them adding ten pounds.

Sidney grabbed one more mini-bar dose of clear liquid courage without looking at the label. She coughed as the kick of gin rather than vodka slammed into the back of her throat, but it did the job. Warmth and a fleeting sense of certainty ran through her veins. One way or the other, fate was going to answer her tonight.

Tucking her room key into the pocket of her yoga pants, Sidney reached for the door handle. Quick. Decisive. One way or another.

*

Josh Pendleton, beloved television personality and World’s Biggest Hypocrite, was on a mission to get roaring drunk.

Tomorrow he would resume his duties peddling the illusion of love to the gullible masses, but tonight his marriage was officially, legally over and he figured if ever a man deserved oblivion, he did. Unfortunately, oblivion was slow to arrive and he was out of ice.

Hence his ancillary mission to replenish the bucket.

It was an insult to good scotch to water it down, but since the bottle of six-year old scotch room service had delivered so he could toast the end of his six-year marriage was a distinctly crappy vintage with notes of cardboard and a subtle hint of mold, it needed all the dilution it could get to make it palatable.

Hence the paramount importance of ice.

People really should say hence more often.

Josh gripped the freshly filled ice bucket with one hand, the other braced on the wall to keep him from going off course as he made his way back to his room. Or what he hoped was his room. The halls were twisty and it was getting harder to keep the details straight… except for the ones he would just as soon forget.

Like the fact that tomorrow he would resume his hosting duties for the new season of Marrying Mister Perfect, guiding another poor bastard toward true love, reality TV style.

A job he’d once loved.

A job he’d only landed because he was a shining example of happily married life.

A job he was going to lose in a heartbeat when his bosses found out about the divorce.

Divorce.

It ought to be a four letter word.

His hand slipped off the wall as he hit the corner and he stumbled, catching himself and correcting course.

The corridors were empty—no surprise there. The show had bought out the Beverly Hills boutique hotel for the night before filming began. All of the Suitorettes were in residence, packing on the beauty sleep in preparation for tomorrow when they would be herded over to the Suitorette mansion and paraded before Mister Perfect on camera for the first time.

A handful of crew members were also staying at the hotel—mostly to make sure the girls stayed safely locked in their rooms and didn’t accidentally make contact with one another before their sanctioned on-camera meetings.

Miranda—the show’s executive producer— had insisted that Josh take one of the spare rooms at the hotel so he would be within an easy commute to the mansions in the morning and in her control, rather than risking the traffic he might encounter driving himself in from his Malibu beach house to the pair of back-to-back Beverly Hills estates where the show filmed.

Josh had acquiesced without an argument. It had saved him having to explain that he no longer owned the Malibu beach house and was now living in a block of depressing divorcee-filled apartments in Studio City.

The longer he could go without Miranda discovering he was no longer a paragon of wedded-bliss, the better the chance he might actually keep his job for one last season.

It had been a good gig, Marrying Mister Perfect, he thought with nostalgic fondness, even if he was the World’s Biggest Hypocrite for selling love on national television.

The hours could be insane—especially during the marathon Elimination Ceremonies that lasted past dawn—but the work was easy. And there was never a dull moment in the world of reality television. Every season had its own scandals and tears, but it was also awe inspiring, in a way, to see each new batch of romantic hopefuls arrive at the Suitorette Mansion, ready to throw themselves headlong onto the pyre of love, praying the fates and reality television gods would be in their favor.

Poor saps.

Most of them would go home heartbroken, sobbing their eyes out for the cameras, and even the winners didn’t have an impressive track record of making it all the way to the altar.

And even if they did, what chance did anyone have of going the distance these days?

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