Read One To Watch Online

Authors: Kate Stayman-London

One To Watch (12 page)

——Forwarded Message——

FROM:
Beth Malone <
[email protected]
>

TO:
Squeeze Main-iacs <
[email protected]
>

SUBJECT:
TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT!

Hi, everyone! As you know, tonight is the premiere of the new season of
Main Squeeze,
so for those of you who haven’t created your brackets yet, PLEASE DO SO NOW or you will not be able to participate in the league this year. Colin, you’ve been saying for three years that you want to join the league, but you never fill out your bracket in time, so if you don’t do it this year, I’m going to remove you from this email list, okay?

For those who are new to the group (hi, Jenna!), here’s how it works: First, you create your bracket on MainSqueeze
Bracket.com
before 8pm ET tonight—just click the league invitation I sent last week to log in, pick a username, and you’re good to go. Then, you’ll have until NEXT Monday at 8pm ET to fill in your picks for the WHOLE SEASON. So watch tonight, get to know the men, and then make your predictions for who gets cut each week and who wins it all! The brackets all LOCK before episode 2 airs, so again, Colin, if you don’t fill in your brackets by next week, you won’t be able to participate all season. I can’t even change that as league commissioner, that’s just the way the website works, okay?

Okay! Hope you’re all as excited as I am for the new season!

xx, Beth

P.S. Did you guys hear Cat talk about our league on her podcast today?? We’re famous!

——Forwarded Message——

FROM:
Colin Whitman <
[email protected]
>

TO:
Beth Malone <
[email protected]
>

SUBJECT:
Re: TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT!

Jesus Beth, I made a bracket, are you happy? You’re the one who cares about this idiotic show, not me.

——Forwarded Message——

FROM:
Beth Malone <
[email protected]
>

TO:
Colin Whitman

SUBJECT:
Re: TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT!

Yes, Colin, I *am* happy. Thank you!

——Forwarded Message——

FROM:
Ray Moretti <
[email protected]
>

TO:
Bea Schumacher <
[email protected]
>

SUBJECT:
wow

Hey, so, you’re on the cover of People magazine. And you’re going on TV, to find a husband? Bea, what’s happening?

I know I haven’t responded to your emails. I’m sorry, that’s on me. It’s just, I’ve been trying so hard not to think about you, which is impossible enough on its own, but now with your face staring out at me from all over the internet, and TV, and even the grocery checkout line … I don’t know. I don’t know what to do.

You look incredible, by the way. You should know that. I hope you know that. When I see these assholes talking about you, I want to fucking kill them.

I’m sorry, I know I’m not being articulate here. You’re one of the most important people in my life, Bea. When my mom got sick, you’re the one who got me through it. Every good thing in my life, every bad thing, you’re always the person I want to tell. I love Sarah, I really do. I want to marry her. Or, I don’t know, I thought I did. But seeing your face everywhere … I don’t know. Can we talk, Bea? I really want to talk.

——Forwarded Message——

FROM:
Bea Schumacher <
[email protected]
>

TO:
Ray Moretti <
[email protected]mail.com
>

SUBJECT:
AUTOMATIC RESPONSE re: wow

Hi there! This is a weird thing to say, but I’m off filming a television show right now and have no access to my phone, email, or social media (or daylight, probably). If this is business-related, you can reach my agent, Olivia Smythson, at smythson [email protected] If this is personal (or a hideous death threat!!), I look forward to digging through my inbox and getting back to you once the shoot wraps at the end of April. Have a great day!

“What do you think?”

Bea was standing before an oversized mirror in the wardrobe room, where Alison had placed her in a navy Zac Posen jumpsuit with long sleeves, flowing legs, a ruffled collar, and a plunging neckline, all woven through with sparkling thread that gleamed copper and silver and gold, making Bea shimmer like a galaxy. With her makeup soft and romantic (and caked on thick enough to withstand hot lights and high-def cameras) and her hair in glossy waves, Bea almost felt like the television star she was about to become.

“I think you’re a magician,” she said breathlessly, and Alison beamed.

“Okay!” Lauren clapped her hands as she strode into the room. “Let’s see our Main Squeeze.”

Bea did a little twirl for Lauren, who grinned with approval. “This is perfect!”

Lauren herself looked game-day ready in her uniform of skinny jeans with a white tee, black blazer, and heels, her auburn hair pulled back in a perfect ponytail.

“You good to go?” she asked Bea. “Time to head to set!”

“What happens if I say no?” Bea’s heart started pounding as it sank in that this was really happening. Had she been completely insane to say yes? What if the whole adventure was an unmitigated disaster?

“It’s gonna be a piece of cake,” Lauren assured Bea as she guided her toward the makeshift studio the crew had constructed on the mansion’s front lawn. “I know it’s your first time doing anything like this, but this is my fifth season running this show, and Johnny could host a
Main Squeeze
premiere in his sleep.”

The host of
Main Squeeze,
Johnny Ducey, was an erstwhile teen heartthrob (he’d famously mauled hearts in the fantasy Shakespeare crossover
Whither the Werewolf?
). After several public bouts with addiction and subsequent stints in rehab, he’d settled into his lucrative and unchallenging work on
Main Squeeze,
where, it was rumored, he’d slept with female contestants more than once. After so many years watching him conduct earnest interviews with assorted reality stars, it was wild for Bea to contemplate that, in a matter of minutes, she’d be the one sitting opposite him.

“Let’s run down the schedule one more time,” Lauren continued. “Act 1 is the video package introducing you to America, then your interview with Johnny—that’s eight minutes total. Then we cut to commercial—”

“And then we intro the first five men,” Bea broke in, reciting the call sheet she’d memorized by rote. “Another break, another five men, another break, and so on until I’ve met all twenty-five of them. Then they all put on noise-canceling headphones while I give my impressions of them, then I put on noise-canceling headphones while they give their impressions of me.”

Bea paused here as she tried to stave off a wave of nausea—why exactly had she agreed to let a bunch of strange men judge her on live television?

“You’re sure these men are what I asked for?” she asked Lauren. “Diverse, smart, open-minded?”

“Bea,
absolutely
.” Lauren gave Bea’s arm a squeeze. “There are a couple of villains in the mix—we’re still making a television show—but I don’t want you to worry. You’re going to love spending time with these guys.”

“But what if they don’t love spending time with me?” Bea hated herself for letting her insecurities creep in like this, but the closer they got to air, the more she could feel her anxiety taking hold. “What if they hate me, and the audience does too?”

“I promise, that’s not going to happen,” Lauren reassured her. “I have a plan for tonight specifically to guarantee that everyone in America will be rooting for you.”

“Plan?” Bea was skeptical. “What kind of plan? Why don’t I know about it?”

“Because I need your reactions on camera to be genuine!” Lauren grinned. “So don’t worry, okay? I’ve got your back, Bea. We all do.”

“If you say so,” Bea grumbled, but she still found it difficult to believe that everything was really going to work out as perfectly as Lauren insisted.

They’d arrived in the mansion’s entryway: Just outside the front door, the lawn had been transformed into a makeshift studio, complete with a stage, a barrage of light and camera setups, and a live audience of a hundred
Main Squeeze
superfans, all of whom had won an Instagram contest for the privilege of being there, and whose feverish chatter Bea could hear through the door over the whir of the enormous generators powering the whole operation.

“Hey, Bea.” Mack, a bushy-bearded sound guy in his fifties, arrived to mic Bea up. “You ready?”

Bea nodded, feeling less and less sure that she actually was.

“Where are the men now?” she asked Lauren as Mack placed a microphone pack in a specially molded pocket Alison had affixed to the back of Bea’s jumpsuit.

“In a trailer outside.” Lauren paused, hearing something come through on her headset. “Okay, Bea, we’re five out from air—I’ve got to get to the control room. How do you feel? Are you good?”

Bea opened her mouth to say something—anything—but she couldn’t find the words. Lauren laughed.

“Yeah, I know, it’s a lot. You’re going to kick ass, okay? Just go out there and be brazen and bold and unapologetically yourself. Failing that, just smile and say you’re ready for love.”

Bea forced herself to nod, and then Lauren was gone.

“Bea, can you say something for me? I need to test your level.”

“What should I say?” she asked Mack. He smiled kindly.

“Tell me what you’re most excited about for tonight.”

Bea knew what she was supposed to say: that she was excited to potentially meet her future husband. But she didn’t believe that, and she didn’t really want to lie about it—not when there weren’t any cameras to pretend for.

“I’m excited for all the little girls who are going to watch this and think,
She looks like me
.”

Mack gave Bea a warm smile, and in the next instant, a producer was tugging on Bea’s sleeve, leading her out the front door, down the wide stone steps, and into the living rooms of several million Americans.

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