“So, you’re telling me that the all-powerful and illustrious Cat Grant has the power to get you on a reality show but doesn’t have the ability to strong-arm the producers into letting you bring more than two suitcases and carry on?”
“It’s not like she made the rules.” Kara huffed as she strained to pull the zipper close around her clearly overstuffed suitcase. “And Ms. Grant didn’t strong-arm anyone.”
“Oh please.” Alex crossed her arms and leaned against her sister’s bedroom dresser, watching Kara’s packing struggles. “That woman could strong-arm body builders and gorillas and not even break a nail. She may be small, but that woman knows how to throw her weight around.”
“Well, I mean, she is ‘The Queen of All Media’ for a reason,” Kara grunted as the zipper refused to move past a particularly large bulge.
Alex cocked her head. “Do you need help?”
“I got it.” Kara resituated herself so she was sitting on top of the suitcase, pushing down the contents just enough for the zipper to slide on past and fully close. “There! And you said it wouldn’t fit.”
Alex shrugged. “Now you have to hope that the seam won’t split.”
Kara flopped on top her suitcase and let out a groan. “If you jinxed me, I swear…”
“What? You’ll beat me up?” Alex pushed herself off the counter. “I didn’t know they taught combat training for reporters. Although, with where you’re going, you just might need it.”
“Do you think it’s gonna be that bad?” Kara frowned, looking up at the old plastic stars on her apartment ceiling. Despite their cheesiness and child-like connation, Kara had put them up in her mid-twenties in intentional patterns to match her favorite constellations. Of course, it wasn’t the skylight she had always dreamed of, but that would have been impossible with the several floors above her. Besides, the faded green glow of them had become rather comforting. Alex had warned her it would make her not want any of Kara’s dates to spend the night, but Kara hadn’t found that to be the issue. The real issue was finding a date she actually wanted to spend the night with.
“I’m sure it’ll be fine.” Alex plopped down on the bed next to her sister. “I mean, I’m kind of jealous. All those hot, single women looking for love? Sounds like my kind of party.”
“Oh yeah, I’m sure your girlfriend would really appreciate hearing that.”
“Nah, Maggie doesn’t mind when it comes to The Bachelor.”
“Mostly because of all the girl’s interest in the bachelor. But let’s face it, most of the contestants could do better than the guy they pick. Especially this season. Ugh, what kind of name is Mike Matthews anyways? It sounds completely made up.”
The new bachelor this year was pretty-boy Mike Matthews: a man who comes from a wealthy family and dabbles in everything from bartending to photography. He was known for a history of partying, but also for his charity work that Kara couldn’t help but worry it was just for PR reasons. He was cute, she supposed. Especially to those who were into that sort of muscular party/ preppy boy look. He could definitely be worse, that was for sure.
“Wait,” Kara propped herself up on her elbows, “you’ve seen it?”
“Oh yeah, Maggie and I watch it together all the time. We typically both try to stay away from reality television, but we watched it as a joke one night and found it strangely addicting. It’s complete trash but also our guilty pleasure now. She almost lost her mind when I told her you were going to be on it.”
“You told her?!” Kara gasped. “Alex, the contract—”
“Says you’re not supposed to tell anyone but immediate family, I know.” Alex ran her fingers through her short red hair. “But relax. Maggie isn’t going to tell anyone. And I didn’t tell her about the in-depth exposé Cat Grant has you writing on it either.”
A week before, Kara’s boss had called her into her office and ordered her to close the door. If Cat Grant didn’t have a reputation for firing people via shouting across the room, Kara would have feared termination. Little did she know, that Kat Grant had something much worse in mind.
The popular dating show, The Bachelor, had been increasing in popularity over its many seasons. The show revolves around one man, the bachelor, trying to find love in the ten women that the show brings on through a series of interactions, group dates, and travel. Each episode, the bachelor sends home contestants until the season finale where he proposes to the final one that he deems worthy to be his wife, and then they supposedly live happily ever after togther.
Nauseated by this and revolted by the shows growing fan base, Cat Grant was determined to expose the show for how old-fashioned, anti-feminist, and degrading towards women it was. Rather than interviewing past contestants, Cat decided to send a girl she could trust to the inside and take down all the grit and scandal first hand. That girl just so happened to be one Kara Danvers.
While Kara had been anxiously waiting for a break to come her way, this was not all what she had been expecting. Upon hearing the news, she was less than thrilled, but because she desired to keep her job and possibly obtain promotion, Kara decided to go along with it. That then led to a frenzy of packing, photo shoots, interviews, contract signings, and shopping. Oh gosh, so much shopping. Contestants had to provide all of the dresses and outfits themselves, and while CatCo covered all of Kara’s expense, Kara couldn’t help but cringe for the other contestants at the thought of the financial dent all this shopping would leave behind. To make matters even worse, all the clothing and other items then had to fit into two suitcases and a carry-on.
“Great, so now she just thinks I’m desperate enough to go on a reality show to find love,” Kara groaned, throwing her arm over her face in embarrassment.
“Well, yeah, but she also hooked me up with this.”
Kara peaked out from under her arm to see the small black cell phone in her sister’s outstretched hand. It was small and was unlikely to be able to connect with internet considering the antenna that looked extendable on the back. As Kara took it, she felt as if she were launched back ten years to her first phone her adoptive mother gave her as a teenager. She couldn’t help but laugh as she flipped it open and saw the number pad she hadn’t seen since childhood.
“Yeah, I know it’s not the most up-to-date thing, but it should be easier to smuggle in and keep hidden. The battery lasts for days, they’re pretty much indestructible, and I doubt anyone will even consider looking for it. You can easily just shove it inside your shoes or under your mattress.”
One of the many rules with being on The Bachelor was that contestants weren’t allowed to have phones, computers, or anything that would connect them to the outside world. They were to be completely isolated for the weeks they were there. Movies, television, and books were even discouraged. Cat said it was one of the many tactics that the show used to increase drama and ratings. But luckily, journaling was still allowed.
“I’m also the first number plugged in,” Alex continued. “You remember how to use speed-dial, right?”
“I’m sure I can manage.” Kara flipped the phone closed with a smile. “Thanks, Alex. Seriously. The part I had been most dreading about this entire thing was not being able to talk to you for weeks. This really does mean a lot to me.”
Alex slung her arm around Kara, pulling her close.
“What are sisters for?”
Lena Luthor was raised to follow her mother’s plan. She was to make perfect grades, receive high honors, graduate at the top of her class in high school, college, and graduate school. She would then work for the Luthor company, continually developing groundbreaking inventions, increase company stock, and do everything in her power to continue to make the Luthor family name proud.
And throughout all of Lena’s life, she had done this. She had gone above and beyond in all of her mother’s expectations in every area except for one.
Continue to make the Luthor family.
Lex was the exception. He was a man and his sperm had no biological clock to worry about. Lena’s uterus was not so fortunate. Citing Lena’s own adoption as the reason why only pureblooded Luthor offspring were acceptable, Lillian Luthor constantly berated and pressured Lena into finding someone suitable for marriage. The fact that Lena's own child wouldn't be completely Luthor was frustratingly overlooked.
Just like with everything else she did, Lena did her best to make her mother proud of her. And while her dating life had proved much less than glamorous than the average woman, Lena had thought she had finally found the right man to settle down with when she met Jack Spheer. He was smart, charming, and had a keen business scent that lead to him founding Spheerical Industries. LuthorCorp was a small technology company that while may have been on the rise, would have grown exponentially with a merger of a company like Spheerical Industries. Perhaps that was why Lillian approved. It always thrilled Lena when she saw how impressed her mother was when Lena had brought along Jack to one of the Luthor family’s dysfunctional family functions.
Despite all of Jack’s impressive wonders and glamor, Lena just felt like something was missing. And it wasn’t as if Lena didn’t want things to feel right. Oh no, she most definitely did. So much so that she was even looking into buying a diamond ring herself to cement the entire arrangement. But apparently, things didn’t feel right to Jack either and he ended things before Lena had a chance to develop a strong counterargument.
Funnily enough, Lena took the breakup surprising well in comparison to her mother. The news sent Lillian into a flamboyant rage that left Lena with the sting of both words and a slap to the cheek. That was how Lena knew her mother had been drinking.
When Lena was finally able to leave her mother’s presence, she returned to her home so she too could lose herself into a bottle of gin. She’d opened one of the more expensive bottles that night and drastically underestimated its potency. However, that didn’t stop her from throwing back glass after glass and making everything else that happen that night free from memory.
But that also didn’t stop her from winding up on a plane to be a contestant on a reality dating show as trashy as this one.
Lena blamed both her and mother alcohol fueled spite. Spite had led to her mother sending her the e-mail with The Bachelor application attached and the message, ‘The only way you’d ever find someone as pathetic as you.’ Spite then led to Lena filling out the form and submitting. Actually, Lena couldn’t remember filling it out, but her drunken bitterness sounded like it was the only plausible motive. Regardless, spite led to her actually following through and agreeing to be a contestant when the role was offered.
That and the fact that her mother would be without a way to contact her for next several weeks.
Upon landing in the California airport, Lena was greeted by a group of individuals who took her suitcase and ushered her into the backseat of a sleek black car along with a woman. This woman, who Lena later found out was the producer, ran her mouth at about a mile per minute explaining all the different responsibilities and events now thrust upon Lena’s life as a Bachelor contestant. For the most part, Lena plastered on her fake but polite smile and nodded along. She was already in way too over her head, but she’d be damned if she let anyone except her know that.
“Here, we are!” the producer exclaimed as they pulled up to the immaculate and large California mansion. With a terracotta roof, rusted brick exterior, iron work balconies, and a garden of palm trees and shrubberies, it was the epitome of everyone’s wealthy California fantasy life.
Lena peered out the window and lost herself for a brief moment as the reality of what she had done suddenly hit her. What was she thinking? How desperate and spiteful had her mother made her? This was a new low even for her. And now she was in California, a place so hot and sunny that Lena could already feel her pale skin reddening. Even after this was all over, there was no way Lena would have the strength to face her mother.
“Alright, another girl’s arrived so we’ll have to return to the airport, but you can get out now,” the producer pulled out her phone and her fingers began to fly across the screen. “My people will take your luggage to your room. Go find James, and he’ll be able to show you to your room.”
“James…?” Lena frowned.
The producer looked up from her phone with a confused arch in her eyebrows. “James Olsen. You know, the host?”
In all her life, Lena had never once watched the show. She told herself that she didn’t have that much time to waste. But then again, she apparently had enough time to waste being a contestant. When she had been accepted to be on the show, she had obviously done plenty of research and read several articles to know what to expect, but the articles and tabloids did little to prepare for the actual experience. Such as in this instance when Lena hadn’t expected that she would meet the host so soon or that he would be so causally referred to by first name.
“Oh right, my mistake,” Lena replied as she opened up the car door. “Thank you for the ride.”
“Don’t worry about. I’ll be seeing you soon anyways.”
The door closed behind Lena and the car was driving away before Lena had a chance to look behind her. Taking a deep breath to calm herself, Lena smoothed out the wrinkles that may have formed in her causal green dress she was wearing before heading up the steps to the front porch and into the front door of the mansion itself.
“Hello?” Lena called out.
It was much colder inside the home than Lena expected. Her arms quickly crossed across her chest as she peered around the front room complete with marble floors, a grand staircase, and several mighty columns. Finally, her eyes landed on the bald-headed man she recognized as the host and narrator of her life for the next few weeks, James Olsen.
“Ah, you must Lena,” he broad grinned as he approached her and offered his large hand out to shake with hers.
“Yes,” Lena quickly shook his hand with a courtesy two pumps before dropping. “And you must be Mr. Olsen.”
“Please, call me James,” he laughed. “I’m sorry I didn’t greet you right at the door. Many of the contestants just wander right in, but this year, most have rung the doorbell and just waited for someone to let them in. Can you believe that? They act like they’re post men delivering a package rather than people actually living here.”
“That sounds very thoughtful of them,” Lena replied, keeping her arms cross now due to her growing distaste towards James. The filming hadn’t even started and this man was already treating the women as entertainment rather than actual people.
“Well, I’m glad you think so because you’ll be rooming with one.” James pulled out a piece of paper from her back pocket and handed it to her. “This is a map of the mansion. You’re free to go where ever you’d like, but keep in mind that cameras will be filming you everywhere except for your bedroom and the bathroom. Even if you can’t see them, they’re there. I circled the bedroom you’ll be staying in.”
“Wait, who am I staying with?” Lena asked as her eyes quickly scanned over the map.
“A one Kara D.. We don’t release contestant’s last names so unless your roommate tells you what her last name is, you’ll only know it as that one initial.”
“Noted,” Lena mumbled, already planning the route she’d take to her room.
“First Impressions dates are tomorrow night, but today, I’d advise getting to know your fellow contestants. You’ll be spending a lot of time with them in the upcoming weeks.”
“Well, I think that’s all for now. Dinner’s available whenever you’re hungry in the kitchen. I’ll be around if you need me.”
“Thank you,” Lena muttered as she watched him turn away and walk back down the hall before turning his head to her for one last time.
“I get a feeling you’ll be around for a while, Lena. You’re just his type.” James gave a wink before disappearing into a room and leaving Lena alone in the massive front room.
With any of the other contestants, James’s words probably would have sent an eruption of butterflies in their stomachs, but with Lena, it just sent a chill down her spine.
She was in way too far over her head.
As Lena began her slow trek up the stairs and down the hall to her room, Lena began thinking of what her type was. It certainly wasn’t Mike Matthews. The bearded, dark hair, brooding but funny never really appealed to her like it did with other girls. Facial hair had always been a turn off. She preferred it when their face was soft and smooth. While Jack had dark hair, Lena had always thought there was something special about blondes. Especially when their hair was long enough for her to run her fingers through it. At least Mike had blue eyes. Lena had always been a sucker for blue eyes.
But Lena knew it was shallow to judge someone based on appearances alone and whether or not they were her “type.” People are more valuable than their appearance. Lena may have not been here for the right reasons, but who knows, maybe she could actually find love.
The thought made Lena scoff aloud.
Right. Like that would ever happen. On or off this show.
The door to her room was slightly cracked open and she could hear someone humming from the inside. Slowly, pushing the door open, Lena peered in to see a perky woman bouncing along to the tune she was humming as she unpacked. Her long blonde hair was tied up in a ponytail, bobbing along as the woman twirled around as she closed the drawer to her dresser. As she twirled around, her gaze fell on Lena who was still standing in the doorway watching. Her eyes brows shot up as her bright blue eyes widen in shock before her fingers fumbled in adjusting her glasses before a bright smile took over her face.
“Hi! You must be Lena! It’s a pleasure to meet you! I’m Kara, your roommate!”