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Meet America’s Sweetheart
I’d been dreaming of this moment for ages. While other girls planned their wedding to boy band singers or movie stars, I rehearsed my rose ceremony with my stuffed animals.
“Will you, Mr. Binky Boo, accept this rose?”
My teddy never answered but I could see the relief in his eyes and excitement in his plush paws as I dropped the satin flower in his lap. Of course, he wanted the rose. They always wanted the rose.
Nobody ever said no to America’s Sweetheart. It was a dream that could happen for one special woman, the chance of a lifetime to be wooed by twenty five handsome men and at the end, be engaged to one’s true love.
It was perfection.
As all things that seemed perfect, someone had to come along and screw it up but I wasn’t going to think about that. I was standing on the steps of a beautiful house in paradise (that being Hawaii and not actual Heaven), my bachelors were due to arrive any minute and Tino Thomas was next to me getting his make-up touched up.
“Don’t forget,” Tino was instructing the crew, “my left side is my best side so keep the lights dimmer when I turn right. And Riley, honey, smile. Nobody wants a sweetheart looking serious.”
“Got it.” I smiled widely to show I did indeed, have it. The swipe of Vaseline the make-up lady had put on my teeth for shine and slide was moderately disgusting. But it made my smile better and this Sweetheart was going to be the best they ever had.
My attire was couture. I felt like a princess wearing it. A gorgeous gown, shoes I would have killed for (and they gave them to me!), actual diamonds winking around my throat and wrist (borrowed but still amazing) and I knew I looked like a million bucks. My stiletto was strapped to the back of my thigh and the slit in the dress allowed easy access. They didn’t allow guns until the actual one-on-one dates but knives were encouraged for the group portions.
“Okay,” Tino said as people scattered, “the first car is coming. Keep the smile going. Don’t kill anyone on the steps despite their appearance. You survive this and you might really find true love.”
And if not, you’ll have a wonderful televised burial.
“Are you ready, Riley?”
I smiled. “I’m ready.”
“Let’s make some television history.”