Chapter 1

“Reality TV is set up to make people entertaining. A good person with values and principles is not good television.” – Ronda Rousey


“You know we’re not just giving this to you, right? You know this comes with strings.” Nile Kingsolver, the head of A-TV, says this while looking down his nose at the husband and wife team cowering in the leather seats before him.

Cory and Kelly Carter. The whiz kids. Or at least they used to be. Before they got married. Before they decided to start their own goddamn production company. Co-Carters? Stupid name. Stupid couple. All googly-eyes and lily livers. Weak chins, too, come to think of it. No, Nile doesn’t like these two one bit. There’s something creepy about them. Their over-eagerness to please. Their blonder-than-thou hair. Those blue eyes that always seem to be twinkling whenever he speaks, as if they’re sharing some kind of inside joke at his expense.

Fuck the Co-Carters. Fuck them in their stupid asses.

“Yes, sir,” they chorus, like a couple of kids in detention. Maybe they are a couple of kids in detention. After all, the head of A-TV doesn’t like them. And if the head of A-TV doesn’t like you, you won’t get far in this business. Not after that Cha-Cha With Celebs debacle. Not after he saw them together in the break room. Not after they announced their engagement, and conveniently “forgot” to send him an invite to their wedding.

They’re on probation, at best. They could be grounded for good. If television production is just like high school, these two are sitting in the principal’s office, and they’d better have a good fucking story – for him and for their parents when they find out later.

“You two are getting on my last nerve, and when that snaps, you’re out on your asses. You hear me?”

“Yes, sir,” they chorus again. It’s like he’s pulling an invisible string, and these two blonde devil dolls just say whatever’s on their Chatty Kathy recording. He’s ready to break the string, smash the box inside their chests – the one with all the rehearsed recordings and nonstop blather.

“So tell me, why exactly do I give a fuck about this piece of shit my colleagues have hired you to produce?”

“Sir…” Kelly begins.

“I’ve got this one, Kelly,” Cory interrupts.

She tosses him a dirty look, then quickly plasters the fake smile back on.

“Mr. Kingsolver, our show is all about love. Matching up couples for life. Marriage. Family values! It’s exactly what the network wants. Good, clean, wholesome couples meeting and falling in love. With a twist.”

“The twist being what?”

“That they don’t get to meet each other until the wedding. Our experts match them, and they meet at the altar. The show is about their journey, trying to get to know each other, fall in love, make it work. Because, science!”


“Yes. We’ve got a panel of experts to match them scientifically. Have you ever heard of”

Kingsolver gives an exasperated sigh.

“Right, so just like on this dating site, we’re using scientific principles to match people up, based on their personality types, their relationship histories, their likes and dislikes, and their deepest needs and desires.”

“Carter, is there going to be sex on this show or what?” Kingsolver cuts in.

“Sex, sir?”

“Wham, bam, thank you ma’am – juicy pussy, hard cock, throbbing members, passion, lust, S-E-X – SEX!”

“Of course there’s going to be sex,” Kelly purrs. She knows what Kingsolver wants to hear. Or thinks she does. She’s a woman, after all.

“I’m listening.”

“These couples have to be fine. I mean FINE. No schlubs, no scrubs. We need Dr. Dreamy here, am I right? Nurse Nancy can’t be a gal with a great personality. Reality TV isn’t about people being nice, it’s about drama. We’re going to match up the prettiest people we can find, and stir the pot. Everybody’s got secrets. Most people today have got dirty ones. Sexy ones. We’ll tease it out, one meth addiction at a time. It’s gonna be great, Mr. Kingsolver. Trust us.”

Kingsolver narrows his eyes at this. He doesn’t trust his own mother. Nor his wife. Women, in general, have got him on a Trust Issues faultline. Kelly’s on shaky ground, even mentioning the T-word.

“You don’t have to trust us, we’ll prove it,” Cory jumps in.


“We’ll make this a hit or die trying.”

Kingsolver turns the full force of his glare toward Cory’s grinning face. “I’ve heard that twelve times today,” he growls.

“Mr. Kingsolver, you can’t lose.”

“And why is that?”

“Because if this show isn’t a hit… we won’t take a single dime from the network. We’ll pack up our things quietly and disappear. You’ll never see our faces again. Not here, not in Hollywood, not anywhere.”

Kelly shoots Cory an anxious look. This is not what they discussed. No salary? Is he crazy?

Kingsolver ponders this proposal. “You’re saying you’d quit the biz? Go back to Bumfuck, New Jersey and cleaning toilets, or whatever the hell you did before this?”

“Slinging burgers and fries at a local diner, yes.” Cory swallows the lump in his throat. It tastes like greasy potatoes slathered in ketchup. He can almost smell the rancid scent of the fryers.

“Kids, you’ve got yourself a deal,” Kingsolver says, thrusting out his hand.

Cory grabs it and shakes vigorously. “Thanks, Mr. Kingsolver. We won’t let you down!”

“Have the papers signed and on my desk by five or I’m withdrawing my offer. You’re both still on notice, and can be replaced at any time. I hear The Bachelor is looking for a new time slot.”

“Yes, Mr. Kingsolver. You won’t regret this, Mr. Kingsolver!”

Cory and Kelly leave the office, practically jumping with joy. Once the door has shut behind them, Kingsolver reaches for a bottle of TUMS®.

“I already do.”