The bungee-jumping harness bit into my shoulders and legs
as I looked over the railing of the Golden Gate Bridge. To
say the water looked frigid was an understatement. The whitecaps of
the bay screamed out glacier and hypothermia.
“You’re not in position,” Cheryl, the producer, yelled.
I felt the camera zoom in on me. They needed an extreme close-up
of my every facial expression so they could broadcast my terror to the
world. Magnify my embarrassment and mortification.
One of the techs said something to Cheryl and she shouted, “Cut!”
The cameraman lost interest in me.
“Why am I doing this?” I asked Becca, my best friend and the
assistant producer on this godawful reality TV show, Love or Money.
“To find your dream man,” Becca answered.
“I found him already, remember? Then he left me at the altar.”
A makeup artist appeared at my elbow and applied powder to my
“Dream men do not leave their brides at the altar,” Becca said.
“Clearly, he was not the one.”
I studied the woman brushing powder on my face. She had beautiful
chocolate-colored skin, a straight nose, and eyes so dark and
intense they looked like pools of india ink. She looked familiar, but
before I could place her, she turned and walked away.
“I thought you always liked Paul,” I said to Becca.
“I did until he left me at the altar,” Becca replied.
“He left me.”
“Me, too. I was standing right next to you in a stupid tulle and
taffeta dress. Anyway, enough about your horrible fashion sense—”
“Even if you don’t find your dream man here,” Becca continued,
“focus on the cash prize. You need it.”
She was kind enough not to add “since you were fired,” but I felt
the sting anyway. If anyone had told me, six months before, that I’d be
on a reality TV show looking for love and/or money, I’d have called
them 5150, a.k.a. clinically insane. But here I was, ex-cop, ex-bride-to-be-with
a broken heart and broken career—looking to start over.
Ty, one of my “dates,” sauntered over. He was wearing jeans and
boots and his trademark cowboy hat. A bungee harness crisscrossed
through his legs. Despite the harness, or perhaps because of it, he
looked hot. Although I was hard-pressed to think of any outfit that he
wouldn’t look hot in.
“Are you nervous, Miss Georgia?” he asked.
I found myself absently wondering if he’d wear his hat while
He reached out tentatively and touched the back of my hand with
a single finger. “Miss Georgia?” he repeated.
I suddenly became aware of the camera rolling again and snapped
to attention. “Yes. I’m nervous. I thought I’d get to pick the dates, but I
didn’t. I would have never picked this. Only a lunatic—”
I heard the producer, Cheryl, grumble.
I wasn’t supposed to say anything negative about the dates, of
course. They were supposed to look authentic, so that the audience
wouldn’t know that I had absolutely zero control over anything. The
crew would have to edit out my last comment.
Ty seemed to notice the same thing because he replied smoothly,
“I’ve always wanted to bungee jump.” His lips quirked up in an irre‐
sistible manner. “And now we get to do it off this beautiful bridge.”
Cheryl, who was standing behind him, smiled. He’d just saved the
scene. She liked him.
Well, in those tight jeans and boots, and with the cute southern
drawl—who could blame her?
I glanced around at the others. They seemed ready to go and had
started heading my way. It was inevitable, once someone started
showing interest in me, that the others would follow—like a pack of
dogs fighting over a lone piece of meat.
Bungee jumping off the bridge was my first date, and I’d selected
five of the ten eligible bachelors—or not so eligible. The gist of the
show was for me to pick a guy who was emotionally available for a
relationship, someone who was on the show for love.
During casting, each guy had given a heart-to-heart interview with
the producer, Cheryl Dennison. They’d confessed whether they were
ready to be in a relationship. Five guys were searching for love; five
guys weren’t. Because I’d worked for SFPD, somehow Hollywood
thought I’d be able to figure out everyone’s motives.
I had my doubts.
If I picked the right guy, we’d split $250,000. If I picked a guy who
was emotionally unavailable he’d walk off with the cash prize on his
own and, maybe worse, a piece of my heart.
America would be privy to the interviews. I’m sure those clips
would expose me as a fool along the way.
I pictured Cheryl’s editing staff. As soon as I said someone was
cute or hot or sweet, she’d revel in playing a clip of the heart-to-heart
where he told America all the reasons he couldn’t fall in love. That
kind of thing would be great for ratings.
The guys I’d asked on this date were the ones I suspected might be
on the show for the cash. Best to eliminate the fakes ASAP.
I’d selected Ty, the cowboy, because at the first night’s cocktail
party I couldn’t actually get him to tell me what he did for a living.
Edward, the hot doctor—tall, with dark hair, a great smile, and a
wonderful gentleness about him—had to have student loans from
med school up the wazoo.
Scott, the brooding writer, wrote horror stories—I hoped to read
to get an idea about him. He was mysterious and supersexy, with a
tight body and a bit of a swagger, and he had a shaved head and dark,
But who made any money as a writer?
Aaron, the investment banker, looked like the boy next door.
Clean-cut, respectable, and polite.
I wouldn’t typically peg investment bankers as needing money, but
something about Aaron was unsettling, as though he had some
desperation vibe wafting off him.
And then there was Pietro, the Italian hunk with an accent that
drove me wild.
I’d invited him because I had a weakness for accents, and weakness
must be sought out and destroyed at any cost.
Everyone was suited up and ready to go. My harness felt so tight I
thought I might explode out of it. It was cutting into my shoulders
and crotch—certainly not a woman-friendly look. But I didn’t
complain for fear they would make it too loose and I’d slip out of it at
exactly the wrong moment.
Was there no happy medium for me?
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