“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!”
Lena never considered herself to be an anxious or nervous woman. Yes, she hated presentations and displaying her findings to audiences, but that was mostly due to the massive time commitment they required to be done well. Time she could very well be spending on other much more productive things. The audiences and crowds rarely bothered her especially when she knew that her worst critic would be her mother anyways. In truth, she’d prefer an audience in the hundreds of thousands than a one-on-one interaction with her mother, the only person in the world who had the ability to make Lena’s palms sweat and stomach coil in nerves.
But alas, here Lena was struggling to remember to breathe as she anxiously wiped her hands along her green dress as she stood before her blonde, beautiful roommate. Apparently, this contest was getting to her sooner than she thought possible.
“Yes.” Lena cleared her throat, hating herself for how high pitch she initially sounded. “I’m Lena. It’s a pleasure to meet you as well.”
“Awesome!” Kara’s blonde ponytail bounced behind her as she made a much too excited sweeping gesture around the room. “It’s a pretty nice place, right? Like, I’ve seen the mansion before on television, but I had no idea it was so big!”
“But apparently not big enough for every girl to have their own room.” Lena commented before catching herself and her eyes widened in alarm. “I mean, it’s not that I’m upset to be rooming with you or anything.”
“Oh no, I get you,” Kara insisted with another animated wave of her hands. “I mean, it’s a mansion after all. Apparently, in previous seasons with more girls, they put as many as five or six girls in one room. Can you imagine that?”
Lena grimaced. “Sounds like boarding school all over again.”
“You went to boarding school?” Kara asked, leaning closer.
Lena’s cheeks colored at Kara’s increased notice and attention. “It was a long time ago.” Finding her throat suddenly dry again, she cleared it and directed her attention to the beds. “So, did you have a preference for which side of the room is yours?”
“What? Oh no, it doesn’t matter to me.” Both Lena and Kara looked down at the clothes Kara was currently unpacking into a dresser, and it was Kara’s turn to feel her face turn red. “Well, actually, I kind of started moving into this side of the room…”
“That’s fine!” Lena assured her as she pulled her suitcase up to the other bed and opened it up. “I’ll just start moving in her over here then.”
“Awesome,” Kara replied as she hid her still red cheeks by turning her to face the dresser.
The two women unpacked in silence for the next few minutes. While the tension was awkward to Lena, she felt no urge to break it, knowing full well that she would only make it worse. Besides, Kara would only be in Lena’s life for a little while. A few weeks at most. Judging by how tan the blonde’s smooth skin was, Lena determined that she was most likely from a sunny state like California or Florida; a place nowhere close to the northern city of Metropolis. They came from different parts of the country and from different parts of the country they would return. Their paths had only crossed for a short bit, and, logically, Lena saw no need to attempt to make their relationship status with each other anymore than it already was. Besides, they were competition anyway. For all the kind, bubbly vibes that this blonde woman put out, Lena couldn’t be sure Kara wasn’t just a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
But then again, she doubted any sort of wolf would fumble with her glasses that much or have brought that many t-shirts to a reality dating show.
“So, what do you do, Lena?” Kara asked, clearly not sharing Lena’s sentiment when it came to the intention of keeping the awkward silence.
“I work at my family’s business,” Lena replied with her deliberately vague answer.
LuthorCorp was a small company that she doubted anyone outside of Metropolis had ever heard of unless they were in the tech field, but she preferred to bring up her family as little as possible. That and she didn’t want to admit to educational background at MIT or her multiple degrees at the risk of having the producers and her housemates label her as that. She didn’t want to sound any more pathetic than she already was.
“Oh, cool!” Kara beamed with a sudden smile. “I wish I got to work with my family like that. It would be so much fun!”
“Not with my family,” Lena muttered loud enough to let Kara know to drop the subject, which she did with a smile.
The rap of knuckles against the door frame snapped both women’s attention from their packing to the long-haired brunette standing with a soft smile leaning against the doorway.
“Hi, I’m sorry to disturb you,” she said with an accent Lena couldn’t quiet place, “but a bunch of the other contestants thought it would be fun to all eat dinner together. We were wondering if you’d like to join us.”
“Dinner?” Kara jumped to her feet. “Absolutely!”
“Wonderful!” the woman replied as she pushed herself off. “We’re just getting it set up now.”
“Imra!” a voice called from downstairs. “Where did you put that bottle opener?”
“Oh, sorry, that sounds like my roommate, Megan. I better go help her.”
“That’s okay!” Kara assured her. “We’ll be down in a minute.”
“See you then,” Imra replied with a smile before turning to scurry off downstairs.
Kara turned to Lena with a broad smile before elaborately gesturing her hands to the door.
The reporter side of Kara felt naked. She had no note pad, no tape recorder, or even a pen to write things down on her hand with. Everything would rely on memory and a close attention to detail that she’d have to keep acutely memorized before she had a chance to write it all down in her journal at the end of the day. And then she’d have to pray that none of the producers or contestants snooped around for it, but she knew full well that any of them could and would. It was just up to her to not give anyone a reason to. Otherwise, she wouldn’t just be kicked out of the show, but also her job.
So, no pressure at all for Kara as she found herself standing in a large kitchen with eight other girls who were most likely already looking for any reason to send home one of their competitors. When her eyes locked with the severe gaze of one particular brunette, Kara promptly shoved her sweating palms into her pockets and simply prayed that Lena hadn’t noticed her somewhat rigid posture.
“There they are!” called out a blonde woman with a hefty amount of eyeliner as she took a swig of her wine. “We were wondering if you two would ever show.”
“Yeah, we didn’t know if you preferred red or white wine,” a dark-skinned woman wearing a playful smirk held up two bottles in each hand, “so we opened both. Grab a glass ladies.”
“Before Megan drowns us all,” Imra said with a friendly touch to the dark-skinned woman’s shoulder, “it’s probably a good idea if we all introduce ourselves.” She flashed Kara a smile that realized some of the tension in the blonde’s back. “Everyone, this is Kara and Lena!” Kara gave a small awkward wave and instantly wished she had played it cool like Lena who only offered a polite smile. “I know we’ve already been through this, but I’m Imra, and it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“And I’m Megan,” the dark-skinned woman holding up the two bottles said. “I’m here for all your wine needs. Or liquor. Any alcohol really.”
“And thank God for that,” the loud blonde with dark eyeliner held out her now empty wine glass for Megan to refill. “And you can call me Leslie or by my DJ name, Livewire.”
“You’re a DJ?” Kara asked, perking up.
“If you could call it that,” said the brunette that made chills run down Kara’s spine. “It’s for a small local station in nowhere, Montana.”
“Oh, excuse me.” Leslie dramatically held up her hands. “How dare I try to steal any of the thunder from the great reporter Siobhan Smythe of the Daily Planet!”
Daily Planet? The gears in Kara’s head whirled as panic settled in her stomach. That was wear Clark and Lois worked, and both of them definitely had photos of Kara on their desk. And they weren’t exactly your average reporters either. Average reporters didn’t get Pulitzers. Siobhan would definitely know them if they were mentioned. For heavens sakes, she worked with them! If this woman recognized Kara, her cover was blown.
“I thought we weren’t supposed to reveal last names,” a squirrely blonde mumbled from across the kitchen table.
“Well, that’s what happened when you introduced yourself with business cards, Eve,” replied the brunette with wavy hair as she leaned back into her chair and took a sip of her beer.
“Well, some of us are responsible and chose to make a career for ourselves rather than get knocked up as a teenager, Samantha,” Siobhan snapped back.
The wavy-haired brunette’s eyebrows shot up as she swallowed her beer before setting it down on the table in front of her. While her body didn’t look as if it would lunge across the table at Siobhan, her eyes told a much different story.
“First of all, it’s Sam, not Samantha. Second of all, I have a career and pretty damn good one. Third of all, mention my daughter again and you’ll be remembered more for your screams than your career.”
Kara had no doubt that Sam wouldn’t follow through on that threat which only made the following silence so much tenser. But it only took Siobhan a few second to find her bearings again and cut through the silence with a snort.
“Yeah, right,” she snorted. “It’s not like you’ll be here long anyways. They only ever keep the single mom on for a few episodes anyway to increase their diversity.” She turned to look at Megan. “Same goes for you. You’re just here to boost rating. It’s not like the bachelor ever actually chooses your kind of people.”
“He doesn’t ever pick the pasty white bitch of the season either,” Megan shot back with a tight smile.
“Alright ladies!” Imra clapped her hands. “Let’s all take a deep breath. After all, we never got to Vasquez a chance to introduce herself.” Imra gestured to the short haired woman currently munching on a bag of pretzels. “Is there anything you’d like to say?”
Vasquez shrugged and swallowed her current mouthful of pretzel. “I’m Vasquez. I work in security. Can someone pass me some of that hummus?”
The squirrely blonde woman, Eve, passed it down the table to her.
“Thanks,” Vasquez said before she began dipping her pretzels into it and continuing on in her eating.
“Okay…” Imra’s eyes scanned over the table. “Wait, we’re still missing one more girl. Does anyone know where she is?”
“I’m here!” Kara looked up to hear the thundering of steps running down the stairs and a flustered, but excited brunette pop into the kitchen. “Sorry, I was taking a brief nap. Jetlag from British Columbia can be a real killer.”
“Isn’t British Columbia in the same time zone as California?” Lena asked slowly, her brow furrowing.
“Well, yeah, kinda…” the girl’s face instantly colored as she swiftly changed the subject. “Anyway, I’m Nia! It’s a pleasure to meet all of you!”
Nia waved her arm in greeting, but in doing so in her rushed and flustered manner, her hand hit against a full wine glass on the counter, knocking it over and slipped the red wine across the granite counter top. Being quick to act, Kara jumped to grab the paper towels to gather up the fluid before it spread to the floor.
“Oh, my gosh, I’m so sorry!” Nia exclaimed as she quickly righted the overturned glass.
“It’s okay,” Kara assured her with a smile. “It could have happened with anyone. It’s no big deal.”
Siobhan rolled her eyes and laughed. “I can only hope your First Impression Date goes that smoothly. Then we won’t have to worry about wasting anymore wine.”
“First Impression Date?” Kara asked slowly. Was that already? Oh gosh, Kara hadn’t even planned that far ahead. With everything going on in preparation for this show, she had more or less lost track of days and now that she thought about it, the First Impression Date was tomorrow. The event where Mike would come meet all the contestants for the first time as they came out one by one from separate limos. It was also the event where Mike would send home the first contestant.
“Yeah, when we first meet the Bachelor, Mike,” Imra explained, handing Kara more paper towels. “Isn’t he just dreamy? I could look into those eyes forever. I really hope he likes me.”
“It’s not about him liking you so much as remembering you on these things,” Leslie said. “And that boy’s gonna remember me.”
“Why? What do you have planned?” Eve asked.
“It’s a secret, but trust me,” Leslie grinned as she refilled her glass, “it’s definitely gonna get me that rose.”
“Hmmm,” Eve nodded. “Now, I know it might sound strange, but I was thinking about doing a back flip. Is that too much?”
“In heels?” Leslie asked.
“No, I mean I’d take them off.” Eve sat up a little bit straighter. “But I use to be on a national gymnastics team and I don’t really know what else to do to set myself a part.”
“Do you have the right dress for it?” Sam asked.
“Yeah, I think so,” Eve said.
“We’ll see about that,” Siobhan said. “Otherwise, you’re just going to make a fool of yourself on national television. But it won’t matter anyway. I seriously doubt anything you girls do will top what I have planned.”
“I’ll just be sure to bring the sweetest wine I can find,” Megan said as she filled another glass for Nia. “Because he’s going to need something to get your sour taste out of his mouth.”
“Oh, I’ll be in his mouth alright—”
“Ladies, please,” Imra clapped her hands again, somehow keeping calm throughout the remarks. “Let’s please try to remain civil with one another, and I would greatly appreciate it if we kept vulgarity or crude innuendos out of the conversation when discussing Mike. Please?”
The women murmured in agreement.
“Thank you,” Imra turned back to Kara and Lena. “Now, I don’t believe you two never told us which wine you preferred. Oh no, Kara! Your shirt!”
Kara followed Imra’s gaze and her eyes widened as she saw the large red stain now on the front of her shirt that had undoubtedly resulted when she had helped Nia clean up the split wine. Looking down further, she noticed it had even spread to the front of her jeans.
“Oh, my gosh, I’m so sorry!” Nia fretted. “This is all my fault.”
“No, you’re good!” Kara assured her, backing away slowly. “I’m just gonna go get changed and try to treat this before it stains.”
“Do you need any help?” Nia asked, getting up to follow.
“No, no!” Kara moved towards the stairs a little quicker. “It’ll probably be easier if I just do this myself. But thank you!”
With Lena remaining down in the kitchen with the rest of the other girls, Kara decided that this would be the perfect time to take advantage of an empty room.
“I was wondering when you’d call. Did it take you that long to figure out speed dial?”
“Alex,” Kara said in a harsh whisper as she gave one last look of her empty bedroom before locking herself into the bathroom. “I’m freaking out.”
“What, some girl steal your straightener or something? Oh, wait no, you got the bitchy girl as a roommate, didn’t you?”
“No, Lena’s great—”
“Oooo Lena. Sounds exotic.”
“In what world does the name Lena sound exotic?”
“I don’t know. It just sounds European or something.”
Kara rolled her eyes. “Okay, Alexandra.”
“Hey! I’ll have you know that my name is Greek for ‘Defender of Mankind.’ And have you seen this red-hair? I’m an exotic warrior, thank you very much.”
“Since when does red-hair make you exotic…” Kara pinched the bridge of her nose and let out a sigh. “Yes, you’re an exotic, beautiful warrior. Now can we get back to my issue please?”
Alex’s tone shifted to more seriousness one. “What’s up?”
“The First Impression Date is tomorrow night, and I don’t know what to do or wear.”
In Kara’s state of panic and time of need, the last she expected was to hear her sister peel of laughter.
“Alex. I’m serious!”
“No, I know. I’m sorry. It’s just I… I wasn’t expecting that.”
“Alex, if I don’t get in at least the top five, I could lose my job.”
“Well, then that’s Cat’s fault for only giving you a week to prepare.”
“I seriously doubt she’ll see it like that.”
“Okay, well, look at the bright side – she did give you a lot of nice dresses. I’m sure those will work for your benefit.”
“Everyone has nice dresses, Alex. They’re all like supermodels. They’re pros while I’m still in little league hitting the tee-ball. Ugh.” Kara pinched her nose as she sat down on the edge of the tub. “You should have heard them tonight too. Everyone’s got these elaborate plans for their first impression date. This one girl is even talking about coming out of the limo and doing a back flip.”
“That sounds safe.”
“Ugh, and here I was just thinking you introduced yourself and said hello, but apparently, everyone’s expected to do something big and elaborate to set themselves apart.”
“Something that makes a first impression…”
Alex sighed loudly into the phone. “Kara, why do you think it’s called the First Impression Date?”
“Ugh, I know! I’m a horrible journalist.” Kara buried her face in her hands and let out a groan. “And this thing is going to define me, potentially for the rest of the season. And I have to impress him. It’s not like I have any impressing talents!”
“You could always show him how you can fit twenty pot stickers in your mouth. That’s always impressive.”
“Alex, I’m serious!”
“Okay, I’m sorry, but Kara, I really do think you’re over thinking this. Just treat this like any kind of first date. Don’t try to fake anything. Especially with your acting skills. Just pull from parts of your personality that you feel like Mike would find most appealing.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Gosh, why does dating have to be so hard?”
“It’s typically easier when you’re dating a guy who’s not dating nine other girls.”
Lena had never particularly excelled at first impressions when it came to personal levels. On a business level, she could close a deal faster than a greasy car salesman in just five minutes with a stranger. But when it came to relationships, Lena had much less luck. Especially in a group setting. Her first instinct was to remain silent, which she did for the most part with fellow contestant she met tonight. And while meeting with Mike would be a one on one experience, it would be an experience sandwiched between him meeting other contestants. She had no plan, no personality that would help her stand out. There was nothing special about her. It was pointless for her to even bother unpacking tonight if she would be sent home tomorrow.
So, that evening, Lena decided to do what she always did when she was stressed and without any sort of work or technology to lose herself into: bake.
For a mansion devoted to a reality dating show full of beautiful thin women, there was a surprising amount sweets. The refrigerator might have been filled with liquor, but the cabinets were filled with chocolate. Lena had no trouble finding all the ingredients to make her favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. Of course, many of the women probably wouldn’t eat the cookies, but really, all Lena cared about was getting her mind off things and baking.
The other contestants had cleared out after dinner in order to finish their unpacking and prep for tomorrow’s First Impression Date. Lena told herself the main reason she wasn’t in a rush to get back upstairs was because of Kara who was probably busy still trying to take care of that large wine stain on her clothes, but Lena knew she was lying to herself. Instead, Lena decided to lose herself in the measuring and mixing of ingredients. It may not have been the same as working with chemicals in a lab, but at least these were an experiment she could eat.
She was just pulling them out of the oven when she heard the sound of heels clicking against the tile floor of the kitchen. For a brief moment, she hoped it was Kara. After all, she had been the only one who had made Lena feel remotely comfortable during this entire ordeal, but she should have known that Kara wasn’t the one to wear heels causally around a house. Besides, only snakes could wear heels that high.
“You’re baking?” Siobhan asked, a frown contorting her features. Lena tensed as she felt Siobhan’s gaze rake over her with the same kind of venom and judgement that she had previously only known from her mother. “I should have figured. It’s not like you’re one who values their weight or figure.”
With a slight upturn of the corner of her mouth, Siobhan spun on her heel and disappeared back down the halls towards the stairs, leaving Lena there with a still hot pan of cookies.
Lena tried to take a deep breath. If anything, she knew she wouldn’t give the bitch the satisfaction of knowing that her venom had actually hit a vein. Her mother had brought same judgements to her regularly and it wasn’t as if Lena had time to work out with her work schedule. Besides, what was the harm in baking? All she had wanted to do was just relieve a little stress and now she was even more tense and worked up than when she started. What was she even thinking? It wasn’t as if anyone in this house would actually want to eat any of the cookies anyways.
Or so she thought.
“Mmm, what’s that smell?”
Lena looked up to see her blond roommate now in sweats and a National City t-shirt peeking out from around the corner, eyeing those fresh baked cookies still on the pan.
“Chocolate chip cookies,” Lena replied.
“Ooo! Those are my favorite!” Kara bound into the room like an excited puppy. “Can I have some?”
For a moment, Lena’s anxiety and self-hate faded and were replaced by a strange feeling in her stomach. Was this what it was like to be appreciated?
“You can have as many as you want,” Lena told her with stunned smile, unable to keep from laughing slightly as Kara snatched up several of the still hot and gooey cookies from the pan.
“Oh! Gosh! Hot!” Kara gasped as she juggled the cookies back in forth in her hands.
“Here,” Lena laughed slightly as she offered a plate to the blonde. “Use this and save your fingers.”
“Thanks.” Kara quickly piled up the cookies on the plate, using the wider surface as the perfect platform to pile up more cookies on. Lena could only laugh more when Kara had managed to fit almost half pan of cookies on the small porcelain plate.
“You haven’t even tried them yet,” Lena told her.
“If they taste anything like they smell, then I’m in for a real treat,” Kara grinned before taking a bit from one. As soon as the cookie hit her mouth, she closed her eyes and let out a moan that Lena knew she shouldn’t have derived so much pleasure in. “These are amazing. Like the best cookies I’ve ever had amazing.”
“Well, thank you,” Lena blushed as she fumbled with fingers, not familiar with how to take compliments. “But they’re nothing special.”
“No, they really are. Is this what you’re going to give Mike on your First Impression Date?”
“Um,” Lena bit her lip, “I hadn’t really thought about it.”
“Well, you should, because I definitely doubt I’ll ever be able to forget you after trying these.”
And at those words, Lena couldn’t but blush ever deeper.
From the gossip floating around the mansion, both Kara and Lena were the only two who hadn’t started getting ready for the First Impression Rose before lunch. Eve and Siobhan had both skipped lunch and dinner to get ready for tonight. Leslie had locked herself in her room to ensure that her outfit remained top secret which left Nia to get ready in the living room. She didn’t seem to mind though since the couches were much more comfortable to nap on during the different steps in her make-up process.
When lunch did come, it wasn’t a full sit down meal like the dinner the night before even though the table had been set for it. Instead, individual women would walk by and grab a buttered roll to munch on or an apple to save for later. Remembering the harsh words from Siobhan the night before, Lena decided it would be best to avoid the carbs in the bread she loved so dearly and settle on the salad option she could tolerate. If she wasn’t having a great time, then why should her taste buds?
Kara however did not share the same sentiment.
“Oh my gosh, is it a full spread like this every day?” Kara gasped as she gazed upon the plethora of food before her.
“Yeah, I think so,” Sam said as she squeezed a lemon into her ice water. “Kind of funny considering how little the women here eat.”
“What?” Kara asked as she looked up, her voice muffled from the bread roll she had just eaten in one bite.
Sam’s eyebrows shot up before her mouth curled into a playful smirk. “I guess not all the women,” she mumbled to Lena.
Kara didn’t appear to hear her as her throat bobbed when she swallowed. “Hey, Lena, would it be okay if brought some of these rolls back to the room? I sometimes get cravings in the middle of night and I’m worried the kitchen won’t be open then.”
“Oh, um, sure,” Lena nodded. “Take all you need.”
“Awesome!” Kara’s hands quickly grasped more bread, doubling fisting the rolls as she turned towards the pantry. “I’m gonna see if there’s anything in the kitchen I store this in. Thank you so much. You’re the best!”
Once she was out of ear shot, Sam couldn’t hold in her laughter anymore.
“It’s certainly nice to see that not all the women on here are fake,” she said as she sipped her water. “Although now I don’t want her to last here very long.”
Lena couldn’t help but bristle at her words. What did this woman have against someone as sweet and kind as Kara? She had been remarkably one of the few rays of sun she had experienced in this dark house hold and how would anyone dare to try to blot it out? Well, Kara may be a bubbly burst of sunshine that brightened everyone’s day, but Lena certainly knew how to throw out some bolts from the thunder cloud she saw.
“Are you really that insecure about a man you’ve never even met?” Lena asked, her green eyes narrowing.
“Not at all,” Sam swiftly replied, shaking her head as she set down her glass. “I just fear that the more genuine and sweet she is, the more of a target that will be placed on her back.” She sighed and leaned back in her chair. “Situations like these can lead to pack mentality and while there may be a fight for an alpha to follow, it won’t take long for them to figure out an omega to kick.” Sam’s gazed turned from Lena to the pantry where they could hear Kara rummaging through some Tupperware. “And I’d really hate for that to be her.”
Lena’s own gaze followed. Sam was right. These contestants didn't care to follow any sort of women's code when it came to this competition. One of them had already shown her claws but she doubted all of them would be that obvious. Lena knew she wouldn't be. But unlike those other girls, Lena silently vowed to herself that she would only use her claws to do everything in her power to protect this bubbly blonde.
“Alright so the blue or the red one?”
“You know I can’t actually see them, right?” Alex asked through the speaker on Kara’s phone. “I’m gonna need more detail than just the color.”
“Yeah, but don’t you like know my entire wardrobe? Isn’t that like a superpower that comes with being sister?”
“I don’t think it works like that, sis.”
“Ugh, fine, it’s the blue dress I wore to last year’s Christmas party or that red one you stole for your one year anniversary date with Maggie.”
“Oh, those ones! Yeah, I’d go with the blue one then. That red one shows off too much cleavage for a first impression. Unless you’re going for that vibe. Cat Grant would probably be impressed if you did. If you play your cards right, it might even get you trending on Twitter.”
“Like I could even go for that vibe if I tried,” Kara sighed as she tossed both dresses across the bed. “The blue one is definitely a safe bet. Now I just have to figure out how to wear my hair.”
“So wait,” Alex said slowly. “Where are you?”
“I’m in my room,” Kara replied as she hung her red dress up for another time. “Where else would I be?”
“Well, where’s your roommate?”
“Oh, she’s downstairs talking with this other girl, Sam. I think you’d really like her actually. Very down to earth.”
“Shouldn’t they both be getting ready for the date tonight?”
“I think Sam’s mostly ready, and I doubt Lena will have to do much to get ready. That woman could roll out of bed and still look better than half the women in a beauty pageant.”
“That hot, huh?” Even though Kara couldn’t see it, she was pretty certain her sister was arching a teasing eyebrow.
“I just mean that she’s definitely one of the pro supermodels and I’d just be the girl who got her coffee”
“Then it’s a good thing Cat Grant trained you well in that.”
“That’s the only thing she’s trained me in.”
“Kara, you’re going to be fine.”
“Am I? I mean what interest is a rich, preppy frat boy going to have in me? I’m just a dorky reporter girl who can barely remember the last time she had more than two glasses of wine.”
“Okay, first of all, I’ve got to get more alcohol in you. Second of all, so what if you’re a dorky reporter girl? Some guys love that stuff. And don’t forget how lovable of a dorky reporter girl you are. That’s not an easy trait to come by, and I strongly doubt that any of your competition has it. If you play your cards right, you’ll have Mike and viewers eating out of your hand. And then it'll be that much easier to write your article.”
“But I mean, what does it even matter?” Kara groaned. “This whole concept is ludicrous and so fake anyways. I could just make stuff up. I have a one in ten chance of being proposed to in just a couple of weeks. That’s insane. People don’t just find true love through a period of nothing but televised forced interaction. It’s all just a scam in order to get more viewers and higher ranking.”
“I don’t know, sis. Love kind of has a way of sneaking up on people. It might just sneak up on you.”
Despite working in the corporate world, Lena had never witnessed a fleet of limos the size of the one that pulled up to the mansion that night. Despite each contestant being sequestered to their rooms, Lena and Kara were fortunate enough to have a window facing the front drive; one that they were both currently peeking out of. While they both could witness the long line of limos currently standing in wait in the long drive, neither Lena nor Kara could actually see any of the contestants walking to the limo as a balcony obstructed their view. However, they both knew who was getting into each limo as one of the producers would loudly call out the contestant’s name when it was their turn.
“Samantha!” squawked one of the producers.
“Oh, thank goodness,” Kara sighed in relief. “Could you imagine having to go first? Having to set the bar for the rest of girls on the show? Not to mention that you know you’ll be the first contestant to appear on the show. Gosh, that sounds terrifying.”
“So, you’re not worried about actually making an impression on Mike?” Lena asked, arching her eyebrow.
“Oh, well, yeah, of course,” Kara stammered. “Of course, that’s why I’m here after all.”
Kara gave a smile so forced that Lena almost found it comical. But it was for exactly that reason why Lena had no worries that Kara wouldn’t make a good impression on Mike. She had this bubbling awkwardness that was impossible not to love. And of course, that blue dress she was wearing that showed off her surprisingly toned arms and calf muscles definitely worked to her favor.
“Are you nervous?” Kara asked.
“Anxious,” Lena replied, her eyes on the limo first in line that had just pulled away. “I’d prefer to get this over and done with.”
“Whoever knew you were so romantic.”
“Nia!” shouted the same producer in a voice so shrill that both of them flinched.
They were both silent as they hear the frantic stumbling of heels making their way down the hallway and stairs. Despite only knowing Nia for only a day, Lena could help but pity the poor girl. Yet despite her flustered manner and her bursts of sporadic sleep, Lena still felt quite fond of the girl. Almost as if the woman was her little sister. But what did Lena know? It wasn’t as if she was the pro at sibling relationships.
“You have nothing to worry about you know,” Kara said, snapping Lena away from her own thoughts.
“Pardon?” Lena asked, turning her head away from the window and towards her roommate where she suddenly found herself lost in stunning blue eyes.
“It would be impossible for you to make any impression but a good one in that dress.”
Kara gave a smile that blossomed a flower of warmth inside Lena’s chest, causing her to quickly look away to hide her blushing cheeks in the shoulder of her dark green dress. She had always been told that this was one of the best colors on her and this dress, while still covering up enough to be labeled as modest, did an excellent job at accentuating her curves. Lena knew how good she looked, but something about being told that by another made her feel the heat of both embarrassment and elation.
“The same can be said for you,” Lena said, clearing her throat slightly. “That color really brings out your eyes.”
And it most certainly did. But rather than drowning in the sea of blue before her, Kara somehow made it so that Lena felt as if she was floating down a lazy river. A little dazed and confuse but also happy and carefree. The night was still so young and Lena was already feeling more conflicting emotions than she had in her entire life. And she hadn’t even gone on the date yet.
“Meghan!” called the harsh voice downstairs, jarring Lena from her thoughts.
Oh gosh. The date.
“Have you seen my cookies?” Lena asked, her mind snapping out of her trance that Kara’s gaze had trapped her in. “I put them in a Tupperware but now I’m not sure where I put it.”
“Oh, so you are bringing the cookies!” Kara grinned. “How on earth could you have been worried about making a bad impression when you have those! I’d marry you just for the recipe.”
Lena’s cheeks flared but her voice remained strong. “You know, you could always just ask.”
“Well, um.” This time, it was Kara’s turn to be flustered. “It not that I’d be opposed. I mean, you are really pretty and super sweet, but I, um, I don’t think Mike would like that very much.”
Somehow Lena managed to keep her face neutral, probably due to the shock of being called both pretty and sweet ironically for the first time in her life, and blinked slowly as she turned to face a bubbling Kara nervously rubbing the back of her neck. Even like that, Kara still looked like the most beautiful girl Lena had ever seen.
“I meant ask for the recipe,” Lena explained.
“OH,” Kara’s eyes went wide. “I’m so sorry, I just got caught up and just assumed…”
Lena arched her dark eyebrow. “Assumed what?”
“Lena!” interrupted the producer.
“That’s you,” Kara jumped up, frantically darting her eyes around the room before they landed on the Tupperware on the dresser, which she grabbed and swiftly shoved into Lena’s hands. “Your cookies. Don’t forget those.”
“But-” Lena started, but it was too late as Kara had already begun to push her towards the door. Apparently, those muscles weren’t just for show.
“There’s no time to waste,” Kara proclaimed. “And you’re going to do great! I’ll see you soon, roomie.”
And with that, Lena was out in the hallway holding a Tupperware of cookies with her bedroom door locking behind her and leaving her completely and utterly perplexed.
“Well,” Lena sighed as she stood up a little taller and straighten out her dress. “It’s time to focus anyway. I can’t have let my mother have the satisfaction of seeing her only daughter not even get one rose this season.”
However, it didn’t take long though for Lena to find herself getting lost in thoughts of someone rather than Mike giving her a rose.
I'm back! And I'm so very sorry for the wait. Life just got super crazy so fast. I hope you enjoyed the chapter and the next one doesn't take so long to post!
The limo ride was tense and silent. The driver with the large mustache never so much as looked at Lena as he navigated down the dimly lit streets of California towards the awaiting camera crews and bachelor. Anxiously, Lena drummed her fingers against the Tupperware container, hating herself for not taking the time to try to liven up the container with decorations such as a ribbon or bow. Maybe she should just forget the whole thing and leave the container in the car. The driver probably wouldn’t mind finding a batch of cookies later. Or even the production crew could take them. They deserve something for all their hard work. Lena only shook her head. This was all she had going for her, and she’d be foolish to think that she could stand out on her looks and personality alone. It clearly hadn’t been fruitful for her in past relationships.
Before she knew it, the limo was pulling up on to the elegant stone drive way and Lena’s heart began racing just like it would before any work presentation or board meeting. Yet, this wasn’t business. She couldn’t be cold and neutral. She had to be warm and smiling. Lena attempted to stretch her mouth out into that upturned curve that people like her bubbly roommate summoned so easily, but Lena only felt fake and ridiculous. Why couldn’t she do this?
“We’re here, miss,” the driver told her in a rather gruff voice, still not bothering to look Lena in the eye.
He wasn’t an old man, but he wasn’t a young man either. Flecks of gray speckled his black mustache and his tan skin creased around his eyes. But even if he did seem neutral and plain, Lena couldn’t help but feel at least a little comforted by this man. After all, he wasn’t degrading her to an object like everyone else was in this show. He was just doing his job as the driver; a job that degraded him to an object too.
“Thank you,” Lena nodded, as she moved to open the door before stopping for a moment. “Um,” Lena’s eyes fell down to the Tupperware. “Could I interest you in some cookies?”
The driver’s stone face fell into one of mild surprise as his eye finally flicked over to meet Lena’s in the rearview mirror.
“That’s very kind of you, miss,” he told her, “but I didn’t bring my insulin with me so I’ll have to pass.”
“Thank you though.”
Lena looked up to see him smiling warmly at her and she couldn’t help but respond in kind.
“Drive safely and I hope you have a good night,” Lena told him.
“You too. And miss,” he paused for a second, “good luck.”
Lena was just about to thank him with the limo door opened, flooding the dim limo with light. Doing her best not to squint, Lena stood up as she mumbled another thank you to the man who had opened the door for her, but it wasn’t long before her gaze fell on the dark-haired man standing in a suit several feet away, and anxiety robbed her of her voice.
Mike Matthews looked different in person. Of course, many of the photos paparazzi snapped of him were either of him drunk or hung over, so of course he didn’t look his best then, but Lena wasn’t prepared for how good he looked now. Standing tall in a dapper black suit and red bow tie, Mike Matthews looked exactly like the heartthrob so many women treated him as. Mike Matthews even had the picture-perfect smile flashing directly towards Lena which she couldn’t deny did make her flutter. It was surreal especially with all the cameras added surrounding them. Lena just couldn’t help but stop and stare.
But if Lena wanted to have any hope in this competition, she’d have to stop calling him by his full name, move her feet and smile for the camera. Which is exactly what she did.
“Good evening,” Mike greeted with his ever unnaturally white smile. “Does this pretty woman have a name?”
“Lena,” Lena replied before noticing that Mike had his hand outstretched. Her hands flustered for a bit as she rearranged her hold to grip both the Tupperware and his hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Well it’s certainly a pleasure to meet you as well. My name’s Mike,” Mike nodded towards the container in Lena’s hands. “What do you have there?”
“Oh yes, here,” Lena let go of Mike’s hand and reached to open the lid. “I know how long these things can take so I thought I’d make you something to hopefully make it a little easier.”
Mike’s blue eyes widen and a more genuine grin broke out across his face.
“How did you know I loved bread?” he exclaimed.
Lena’s face scrunched in confusion. “Bread?” She looked down to see the Tupperware she thought filled with chocolate chip goodness actually filled with the dinner rolls from lunch. “Bread!”
“Yes, bread!” Mike laughed obliviously as he reached out and took one. “You even already buttered them!”
“Oh gosh,” Lena mumbled as she hastily put together the dots. Kara had given her the wrong container as she headed out and now she was feeding possibly somewhat stale dinner rolls to the bachelor himself. Her eyes flickered to the camera watching them and she quickly covered her stunned expression with a smile. “Well, I hope you like them.”
“How could I not?” Mike wiped off a bit of butter from his mouth with his thumb. “This is lovely, Lena. Thank you.”
“My pleasure.” She held out the container one last time. “Can I interest you in another before I leave?”
“Please!” Mike exclaimed in a way that made Lena’s mind instantly flash to Kara. “You’re incredible.”
“You’re not so bad yourself,” Lena smiled, blushing slightly at the unexpected and undeserved compliment.
“Now Lena, I’m gonna need for you to be real with me,” Meghan leans forward on the couch with her elbows on her knees as she stares intently at the pale woman in the green dress who just walked in. “Did you just give that man leftover bread from our lunch?”
The producers had supplied a waiting room of sorts for the contestants filled with plush couches and chairs and a large screen equipped with a live feed of the contestants’ interactions with the bachelor. The three women before Lena had already made themselves comfortable and were now lazing around in their formal attire. Nia sported an elegant royal blue dress with bright glimmering stones that matched her large necklace and earrings. Sam had gone for a more classic approach with a sensible but stylish gray dress that Lena would have sworn had pockets. Meghan lounged in a deep purple, floor length dress that only enhanced her curves.
Lena flopped down on the couch across from her with much less grace than what she showed prior. “Apparently, I did.”
“Girl!” Meghan groaned as she tossed her head back theatrically. “You’re telling me that I spent all my money on some fancy ass wine for this man and all it took was some free dinner rolls to get him to fall for me?”
“I’m sorry,” Lean groaned into her hands. “I meant to bring cookies.”
“Cookies?” Meghan arched an eyebrow. “You’re telling me that you can't tell the difference between cookies and bread?”
“They were in the same kind of container,” Lena mumbled as she dragged her fingers down her face. “My roommate gave me the wrong container. I can’t believe I was that stupid.”
“Well,” Sam said with a sly smirk as she stirred the straw in drink. “Certain people just have that effect on others.”
Lena sat up and narrowed her eyes at Sam. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Oh, girls!” Nia exclaimed with a clap of her hands. “There’s another limo pulling up!”
The four women peered over to the large screen displaying the live feed, leaving Lena’s rolls abandoned on the table.
“Who do you think it is?” Nia wondered aloud.
“Whoever it is, I just hope they brought something other than bread to help wash down this wine,” Meghan said as she leaned back around the couch.
“Did you bring the wine?” Lena asked.
“Yep, and two glasses,” Meghan explained as she took a sip of chardonnay. “One for me and one for Mike. And let me tell you, he’s definitely my kind of drinking buddy.” She gave Lena a quick wine that sent a strange twist in Lena’s gut. Lena’s first impression just kept looking worse and worse.
“Oh gosh, it’s Siobhan,” Nia groaned.
“Oh, good Lord,” Sam groaned. “Is it okay if I get some of the wine, Meg?”
“Oh, yeah girl, take some,” Meghan passed it to her as she poured a glass for everyone else. “I’m just worried we don’t have enough.”
Lena gladly took a glass of the chardonnay as she watched Siobhan step out of the limo in a shockingly well form fitting red dress which featured a neckline so plunging that she wandered if the producer would have to censor it. Her high heels only made her legs that much more impressive as she strutted towards Mike. He was clearly trying his best to be a gentle as they talked but his eyes, on occasion, drifted a bit farther south than her eyes.
“What do you think they’re saying?” Nia asked.
Unfortunately, while they had visual, audio wasn’t available for them in order to give a semblance of privacy for each contestant from the others. If Lena was being honest however, she preferred it this way. She didn’t need any more reasons to feel inadequate in this competition.
“I don’t really care,” Meghan shrugged. “I’d honestly prefer it if she were like this all time. Silent.”
“I can drink to that,” Sam said as she raised her glass. But as soon as she was taking a swig of it, she was choking on it. “Is she serious?”
All eyes went wide as a collective gasp filled the room as the four women watched the screen as Siobhan pulled Mike down by the tie for a kiss, officially marking the first kiss of the show.
“Well at least we now know she’s not just the bitchy-est girl of the house but also the easiest.” Meghan sneered into her glass. “I just hope she has chapped lips.”
“And bad breath,” Sam added.
“And to think I just brought him coffee…” Nia mumbled as her face fell.
“Aw honey,” Meghan draped her arm around Nia as Siobhan walked off the screen. “You didn’t just bring him coffee, but a latte. And I’m almost positive that that left a better taste in his mouth than that witch.”
“Wicked this way she comes,” Sam mumbled as the sharp click of heels against stone came nearer.
“Enjoy the show ladies?” Siobhan asked with an annoyingly smug look on her face as she placed her hands on her hips. “I must say, I think I left quite the first impression.”
“But was it a good one?” Meghan asked with a cock of her head.
Siobhan narrowed her eyes.
“Just get back to doing what you do best,” Siobhan sniped, “And keep drowning yourself in alcohol.”
“Alright ladies, play nice,” Sam interrupted. “Don’t make me put you in time out.”
“Can you be anything but a mom?” Siobhan snapped.
“Well I have to be when I’m around bratty children,” Sam said with a very pointed smile and slightly flared nostrils.
“Oh, my gosh,” Nia gasped.
All heads whipped towards the scream and many jaws dropped.
On the screen, the limo pulled up the driveway, but this time, there was no uncertainties as to who was in it because she was proudly standing in the sun roof open with her arms stretched wide. And with how the lights were hitting the many sequences on her dress, she looked more disco ball than woman.
Leslie was certainly living up to her shock factor she boasts about.
“Oh gosh, she brought a megaphone,” Sam groaned as Leslie lifted up a megaphone and spoke into it towards Mike.
“Oh, poor Mikey,” Siobhan shook her head. “No one should have to go through that.”
“Mikey?” Meghan asked.
“Yeah, you don’t call him that?” Siobban replied. “Huh, I guess I’m closer to him than you.”
“You’ve literally only known him for two minutes,” Meghan fired back.
Lena simply sat and took another sip of wine. This wasn’t her fight and she certainly had no intention of becoming involved. If anything, the fewer enemies she had the better. Of course, that meant she’d leave less of an impression on anyone here and just fade into the background like the potted plants next to her. Actually, that’d be the preferred impression she’d leave rather than the bread girl others already knew her as. Oh gosh, she could already picture the kind of mockery she’d have to endure at the office and on social media when this episode aired. If anything, she just wanted to leave and cut her losses now, but then that would just give her mother even more ammo in her arsenal. So here she was, just the silent bread girl.
At least that was better than bitch or disco ball girl.
“Why are their dinner rolls here?” Siobhan asked, eying the Tupperware container full of them on the table.
“Lena brought them,” Nia said, giving more attention to the shiny, megaphone wielding shock jock on screen.
Lena tried to act unfazed by the mention and to act focus on the live feed like everyone else, but unfortunately, Siobhan’s only had eyes on her.
“You brought bread to a date? The stall rolls from lunch?” Siobhan asked with a level of distain in her voice that reminded Lena of her mother. “That’s pathetic.”
“It can’t be too pathetic since he seemed to enjoy it,” Lena replied, doing her best to summon from the same strength she did with verbal altercations with her mother.
“Oh please,” Siobhan rolled her eyes as she crossed her arms. “He was probably just being nice to the weird girl.”
“You can think whatever you want,” Lena said, crossing her arms and leveling with Siobhan. “But the fact is that Mike was much more excited to see my buns than he was to see yours.”
Siobhan’s eyes flashed but the snake appeared to know when to hold her forked tongue. While this was a victory, Lena knew better than to show any ounce of gloat in front of a viper.
“Oh gosh,” Meghan groaned. “When the light hits her just so, Mike has to squint. Heck, I have to squint. She’s like a freaking light bulb. Where did she even that dress?”
“I don’t know, but I hope she tells us.” Sam shrugged. “I think my daughter would like one.”
“But like where would you even wear it?” Nia asked.
“If she wore it around her house, she’d probably save on her light bill,” Meghan said, triggering a laugh from Sam and Nia.
“Well, whatever she does with it, it’s clear it hasn’t impressed Mike,” Siobhan said. “He didn’t even kiss her.”
“Well, not everyone throws themselves at every guy they see and tries to shove their tongue down their throat,” Meghan mumbled into her wine as she took another swig.
“Don’t hate on me for having more guts than you did,” Siobhan hissed.
“That’s because I have more brains,” Meghan snapped.
“Why you little-”
“Ladies,” Sam clapped her hands together. “I think it’d be best for us to be on our best behavior to greet our colleague, the shockingly shiny disco ball.”
“Talking about me?” Leslie slid into the room remarkably quietly for how loud her outfit was.
“Leslie,” Sam smiled, stepping in between Meghan and Siobhan. “That’s certainly a unique dress you have there.”
“Thank you,” Leslie smiled, giving a little twirl to show off just how the sequence caught the light and blinded anyone too close. “The shock jock’s has to have a high shock factor.” Her gaze fell on the open Tupperware on the table. “Did someone bring dinner rolls?”
Lena did her best to resist the urge to hide behind her hands and sink into the couch. Instead, she decided to down the rest of wine and wait for the source of the Tupperware switch to join them. A new limo was pulling up the driveway, and from the blonde hair she could spy through the slightly rolled down window, Lena doubted she’d have to wait for long.
Sorry for the later update, but this chapter was much more daunting to write than I expected. Thank you all so much for your patience and support. Kara's and the other's ladies first impressions to come next!
While Lena may have left the room after Kara’s accidental assumed marriage proposal, Kara didn’t have much time to recover from an intense cringe and urge to hide under her covers before she heard her own name being called. That only meant her flustered and cringing awkwardness extended into the short limo ride.
How could I have been so stupid, Kara thought to herself. It wasn’t as if there was any chance Lena even thought about her or any woman for that matter like that. Obviously, she didn’t if she was on a dating show known for being toxically heterosexual. It’s just that her sister had gotten into her head with all her teasing, and while Kara knew Alex meant well, she couldn’t help but feel like her sister was pressuring for the gay side of her to come out. Alex had always been like that ever since Kara confessed to her that she and Lana Lang use to make out in college rather frequently when they were drunk. And it wasn’t as if Kara doubted that Alex wanted the best for her regardless of who she ended up with, but she did feel like Alex would be at least be a little bit happier if that person identified as a woman.
That kind of thinking always sent Kara in a spiral of attempting to figure out her bisexual nature and if she liked guys more than girls or vice versa. Sure, Mike’s attractive, but so are all the women here. But someone can think that someone is attractive in a non-sexual way, right? Like yeah, Mike and Lena were both attractive, but she had no urge to pin them to a wall and make out with them. She didn’t even know Mike yet and all she knew about Lena was that she was a terrific baker, works with her family, and thinks that Kara’s eyes are pretty. They were both people she hadn’t known existed simply a week ago and were basically strangers. She couldn’t be attracted to either one of them. A person can’t have feelings for someone they just met. Love at first sight or anything close to it only exists in fairy tales.
But then why did Kara’s heart twinge every time she thought of Lena’s smile.
“You okay back there?” the driver asked. “You look like you’re about pass out or something.”
“I’m fine,” Kara shook her head. “I’m just nervous and overthinking everything.”
“I can’t blame you,” the driver replied. “It’s a lot to take in.”
“Have you done this before?”
“Since the beginning. I’ve seen a lot of pretty people come and go in this vehicle, and I can’t think of a single person who hasn’t been nervous or look like they were about to throw up. And I can’t blame them. I’d hate to be leaving the best limo driver too.”
Kara cracked a bit of a smile as the driver winked at her.
“Do you have any advice for me?” Kara asked.
“Just remember to put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes it’s best to focus on the smaller things you can control than the big things you can’t control. And to just breath. One foot in front of the other. Love should come naturally, not by force.”
“Okay,” Kara took a deep breath. “That doesn’t sound so bad.”
“It shouldn’t be,” the driver shifted the gear into park, signaling that they had arrived at the mansion. “Now remember to smile for the cameras.”
Kara’s heart took off in another sprint, but the playful wink the driver gave her calmed her slightly. Like Alex told her, she just needed to be herself. It was okay that she didn’t have a plan for the first impression date like everyone else. That might even make her stand apart if she’s lucky. And the whole exchange would only last a few minutes anyway. Then she could sit in the back with the other girls and see if Lena had any leftover cookies with her. Yeah, she told herself, just think about those cookies.
The limo door opened sooner than she would have liked, and the light quickly illuminated the dark interior. But with the attempt at a smile that she knew Cat Grant would expect, Kara stood herself up from the car, wobbling slightly as she stood up in her tall heels. But that embarrassment didn’t stop her. Nor did the cameras pointed at her. She held up her chin high and her smile wide all the way up until the point she spotted the man of the show himself standing just a couple yards away with his winning smile directed towards her.
Okay so he was a bit cuter than she expected in person.
But as Cat Grant would say, he’s still just a person. And every person has their flaws. If Kara was lucky, she might just find what his flaws were and use them to stay longer. Not to blackmail him, but to learn how Kara can play the part of his ideal woman.
Doing her best to rest into more of a state of composure, Kara flashed a more geniue smile as she walked up the steps of the mansion to meet the bachelor who, by his expression, already liked what he saw. If Kara was lucky, he may just be a sucker for blonde. She flipped her hair and his eyes followed, which she hoped was a good sign.
“That’s a lovely dress,” Mike said with a bright smile as his eyes trailed down the blue fabric as Kara came to a stop before him.
Sucking in one more calming breath behind a forced smile, Kara lifted up her skirt slightly to show off more of the dress, but also keep the fabric from being so revealing to her figure.
“Thank you,” Kara said, before her sister’s advice echoed in her mind and she decided to take that step that only she would take. “You know what kind of material it’s made out of?”
Mike’s face dropped slightly and his eyes widened in surprised. By the furrow in his brow, Kara could tell that he was quickly running through every kind of material that he knew and coming up blank. She already hated herself for even trying this, but there was no turning back now.
“No,” Mike said slowly. “I don’t believe so.”
Taking another breath and a slight step forward, Kara did her best to give her most winning smile.
“It’s girlfriend material.”
“So that was your big plan?” Siobhan asked as Kara joined the other girls in the viewing room. “Whisper some line in his ear?”
Kara flopped down on the couch next to Lena, hiding her red cheeks behind her hands. What had seemed like a good idea at the time only seemed to sour the more Kara thought about it. While she may have followed her sister’s advice and stayed true to herself, she had forgotten just how ridiculous and an acquired taste she was. Oh gosh, Cat was going to kill her. Even if it had made Mike laugh.
“It seemed like a good idea in the moment,” Kara mumbled from behind her fingers.
“What did you even tell him?” Meghan asked. “Because it sure looked like he liked it.”
Oh gosh, that was right; there was no audio for them back here. Kara would have much rather they had heard and then just judged, but now Kara had to repeat it a second time. Peeking out from behind her hands, she saw Lena staring at her curiously like everyone else and Kara knew that she couldn’t not tell them.
“That my dress was made out of girlfriend material,” Kara mumbled, just loud enough for everyone to hear.
And by the resounding sound of Meghan and Leslie’s cackle, she knows they did.
“You can’t be serious,” Sam said, failing to hold back a laugh of her own.
Kara’s embarrassment overcame her once again in tenfold for a moment, but when she saw Lena stifling her own laughter next to her, she found that she could suddenly bear the crushing weight.
“And here I thought Ms. Dinner Roll over here was the stupid one this season,” Siobhan said with an upturned nose and a wave of her hand.
“Hey, dinner rolls are not stupid-”
Kara cut herself off when she realized what exactly Siobhan had just said and her stomach dropped. Peeking out from behind her hands, Kara saw the familiar Tupperware on the table open in front of her, but with bread rather than cookies. Wide eyed and horrified, Kara turned to the rosy cheeked Lena who seemed to be fighting off her own form of embarrassment.
“Oh, my gosh, Lena, I am so sorry this is all my fault! I swear I didn’t know.”
The words poured out of Kara’s mouth faster than water would a faucet. She just couldn’t believe she could be so foolish and careless to someone who had been anything but so nice and sweet to her. And even the possibility of Lena thinking that Kara did it intentionally erupted in a painful twinge her chest.
“It’s okay,” Lena assured her with small smile.
“No, I’m so sorry and your cookies were so good. Oh, my gosh, I’m just so sorry.” Kara shook her head frantically. “I can go tell him. Yeah, I’ll go tell him it’s all my fault and not to hold it against you.”
Kara moved to stand but Lena placed her hand on Kara’s knee to stop her.
“It’s okay, really,” Lena told her with a small smile tugging at her lips. “It all worked out. More so than it probably would have gone with the cookies.”
“Really?” Kara asked going into a stunned slump back on the couch.
“Yeah,” Lena said with a scoffed a slight roll of her eyes. “Apparently, he really loves bread. Like a lot.”
“Oh.” Kara’s brow wrinkled in puzzlement. “Really? I mean, they were good rolls, don’t get me wrong, but they were just plain rolls. They weren’t even those Hawaiian sweet rolls. But he liked them better than cookies?”
Lena threw her head back in a genuine laugh but before she could say anything, Siobhan cut her off.
“I can’t believe neither of you are taking this seriously,” she snapped at them. “Giving him dinner rolls and ridiculous pick-up lines. Clearly, you’re both just here for Twitter followers and your ten seconds of fame.”
“That’s rich coming from the woman who has already tried to stick her tongue down the bachelor’s throat,” Meghan said.
“Well excuse me for having more courage than all of you,” Siobhan turned up her nose.
“I don’t know,” Sam said as she reached over to pick up a dinner roll. “I think it takes more courage to give someone a container full of bread or deliver a pick-up line like that on live television.”
“Did you hear that?” Kara knocked her elbow against Lena’s arms. “We’re courageous.”
Even with Kara’s attempt to lighten the mood and smooth over the embarrassment, Lena’s cheeks still went bright red.
“Well, I thought it made great entertainment,” Leslie said as she raised her glass towards the couple on the couch. Her bright sequined dress caught the light again, throwing it to Kara’s face so she’d had to squint, but she still smiled at the honest support.
“Oh, what do you know of entertainment, shock jock,” Siobhan scoffed.
“In case you haven’t noticed princess, this is my kind of turf,” Leslie said, leaning on her elbows. “This ain’t nothing like your hard-hitting journalism of the Daily Planet. Unless you’re telling me that you write their trashy gossip column.”
“As if,” Siobhan said, crossing her arms and wrinkling her nose.
“Tell me Siobhan,” Sam said with a cock of her head, “what does someone like you write for the Daily Planet?”
Siobhan’s face paled slightly before she quickly gestured towards the television. “Look, someone else has arrived.”
And someone had. All the women turned their heads to watch the monitor as they saw someone new step out of the limo. Dressed in a lovely deep purple dress, Imra stood up with a bouquet of daisies in hand and the widest grin on her face. When her eyes saw Mike’s own returning smile, her own seemed to just grow even bigger. Her heels weren’t too tall, but she still walked slowly and gracefully up to him, holding the bouquet like a bride walking down the aisle. When she offered them to Mike, he gladly accepted them.
“Well, that’s kind of sweet,” Leslie said. “I mean, he’s giving out flowers all seasons, but how often does he get flowers?”
“Yeah, but he hands out roses, not cheap daises,” Siobhan said.
“Still more flowers than you’ve gotten this season,” Meghan noted.
Siobhan only rolled her eyes and crossed her arms as they waited for the cheery brunette to join them.
“Hi, guys!” Imra beamed as she strolled in. “Is that bread? Bread’s my favorite! Can I have some?”
Lena nodded as she looked at the brunette in slight astonishment. Kara couldn’t help but think that the crease that formed in Lena’s forehead was just adorable.
“That was really sweet of Imra,” Nia said with a genuine smile. “I bet it gets hard giving out flowers all seasons and not getting any in return.”
“That’s exactly what I was thinking!” Imra said, taking a bite of her roll. “I just hope he liked them.”
“Why daisies though?” Kara asked. “They don’t exactly scream love like a rose.”
Imra shook her head.
“No, they mean hope,” Imra explained. “Hope that even if we don’t together in the end, that we both still find the love that we’re looking for.”
Not even the bitter Siobhan or the sharp Meghan had a response to that. The room fell slightly silent as Imra moved to sit next to Nia and wait for the next contestant to arrive. And it didn’t take long
Out of the dark limo and with a blinding white smile and curled blonde hair, they saw Eve beaming up the bachelor. But rather than approaching him, she just stuck her arms up in a strange flair that sent a strange wave of nostalgia over Kara as she thought back of the gymnastic classes her and Alex took when she was younger, and her stomach dropped.
“She can’t be serious,” Meghan said, but it didn’t take long before they all saw that she completely was.
Eve threw herself forward on to her hands as she took herself through a front hand spring. For her sake and everyone else watching, it looked as if she was wearing shorts underneath her short gray dress. Apparently, she had thought this through much better than Kara.
When Eve landed the first one, Kara thought that would be her last, but she was mistaken as Eve threw herself into another. And then another. However, the third one was her last as an unfortunately place flower pot with a large ficus found itself with her foot in it. The springy blonde found herself on the ground covered in dirt all while the cameras rolled.
“Oh, that idiot,” Siobhan said with a roll of her eyes.
“I don’t know,” Leslie pointed out. “It sure captured Mike’s attention.”
All the women watched as Mike rushed over to the blonde, kneeling beside her as he apparently checked her for wounds. While she seemed to lack none, Eve clearly relished in the attention even if it was at the cost of her pride. It sent a strange feeling through Kara, one that she didn’t like. It made her feel like Siobhan probably shouldn’t be the only girl she should watch out for.
“I hope she’s alright,” Lena told Kara with genuine worry on her face.
“I’m sure she’s fine,” Kara replied with a slightly tight smile. “Look, she’s already standing.”
Mike had already pulled Eve to her feet and Eve had already begun her walk towards the side off camera to join the rest of the ladies with a somewhat exaggerate limp. The woman had decided on flats rather than heels to wear tonight, but even with that fall and limp, Kara didn’t doubt that Eve would be wearing heels from here on out.
“What happened to your plans of doing a back flip, girl?” Meghan asked as Eve walked into the room with no limp to show.
“I got worried I’d rip my dress,” Eve replied as she reached for a glass of wine to sip on. “I should have kept my eyes open more.”
“Or just stopped at one front hand spring,” Sam said.
“I thought it was great,” Leslie told her. “Most girls only get a rose, but you got a ficus!”
“Did they let you keep it?” Nia asked, peeking out from around Leslie.
“No,” Eve said as she sat down in a chair next to Lena. “A producer or someone is going to try to repot it, but I think one of them said I probably killed it.”
“You killed it?” Nia’s face dropped.
“That’s what happened when you do gymnastics on a set in a dress,” Siobhan said.
Eve shrugged but didn’t respond as she took a sip of her wine.
“I thought it was impressive,” Lena told Eve as everyone else turned to watch the monitor as another limo approached.
“Thanks,” Eve said with blushing cheeks and a tone that made the back of Kara’s neck tingle.
The long black limo pulled up to a stop and the door slowly opened to reveal just a clothed foot and leg that made Siobhan gasp aloud, effectively cutting off whatever conservation everyone around her had.
“A pantsuit?” she covered her mouth and leaned closer. “Who does this woman think she is? This is the Bachelor!”
“So, what?” Sam asked. “I think it looks nice of Vazquez.”
And it did look rather nice on Vazquez, Kara thought. She was wearing a sleek burgundy pants and jacket with a black blouse underneath. It showed off her figure in a different way than a dress did but still in a very much so pleasing way. Her smirk and short hair only made Vazquez’s look that much more appealing.
“Everyone knows that only two types of women wear pantsuits: lesbians and Hillary Clinton,” Siobhan pointed at the screen. “That woman’s a dyke.”
Kara couldn’t help but flinch. Growing up in a smaller town, she had heard that word thrown around at her sister and her a lot. Neither of them were very feminine growing up and half the town knew of Alex’s attraction to women before she even did. Still, that didn’t mean they were accepting. People at school, football games, and even grocery stores would hurl insults like that them in both shouts, laughs and whispers. Kara had never been sure which one was worse because they all stung. Alex, like others, say they have reclaimed the word and proudly identify as it, but Kara never could shake its sting.
“Woah now,” Sam sat up. “A person’s sexuality is not determined by what clothes they wear. And you don't need to be throwing a word like that around.”
“So, what if it’s the truth?” Siobhan fired back.
“Because some people find it offensive and rude. I know I do when you say it in that kind of tone,” Sam told her. “And furthermore, I don’t think a lesbian would come on the Bachelor especially considering the objective.”
Siobhan turned and narrowed her eyes at Lena and Kara on couch.
“Well, clearly not everyone's here for the right reasons.”