Fiction Friday: The Bandbox Hat

Previously: SarahJane arrived back at the Date My Son! house for her meeting with Austin and Linda to ask why they let her go and get some closure. Linda told her she was too sweet and not cut out for life in Hollywood or on a reality show. Austin told SarahJane that her brother Nate was about to propose to Cassie, her friend on the show.

The Bandbox Hat

Chapter Fifty-Five

My heart froze for an instant then I let out a breath. “Oh, wow.”

“How do you feel about that?” Austin asked.

“I’m not sure yet … Happy, I think.” As I turned over the idea in my mind—Cassie as my sister-in-law?—the more I liked it. “They’re a good fit. I love them both.”

“They’re lucky. They didn’t let this bubble of luxury and glamour mess with their heads. Mom was squared away when we got here, but somehow in the last couple of weeks, she’s lost it.” He sighed then stood and shook the clinging water off his feet.

“Thanks for the chat, Austin.” I slipped my feet back into my sandals.

“Do you think …” He paused and gave me an appraising look. I was suddenly conscious of the camera angled over his shoulder. “Could I call you when this is over?”

I swallowed a bark of laughter. “So much for finding true love on reality television?”

He shrugged. “I want someone who’s the same on camera and off. You and Cassie are the only two who resemble that.”

“And Cassie’s taken.”

He had the good grace to look away. “No, I really do like you, SarahJane.”

I glanced around. He was right. This place and this show sold an idea, an image of what a good life should be. A fully-stocked bar. A pool. Granite countertops. Fabulous dates and hip places. Helicopter rides to bowling alleys. But it was a faux life. The real good life is hot chocolate in front the Christmas fire. Scrabble on rainy days. Sparring about whether to order pizza or Chinese for dinner. And I knew who I wanted to debate pepperoni or fried rice with.

“Thanks, Austin. But, well, no thanks.”

“Really?” He actually looked disappointed.

I would have bought it except he spoiled it by looking in the camera and sighing.

I laughed. “See you around, Austin. Tell your mom bye.”

I skipped down the walkway and back to the front drive where the limo waited.

The door was barely closed before I had my cell phone out and dialed.

“Hello?”

“Jesse. It’s SarahJane.

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