How To Lose A Bachelor - Anna Banks

Chapter One

Rochelle Ransom hadn’t worn a dress like this since…actually, she’d never worn a dress like this. Short, tight, lots of cleavage. Hooker red. Any judge would kick her out of the courtroom if she traipsed in looking like this, hauling a briefcase and with a mortified client trailing behind her. Of course, she’d never make it to the bench. Not in these ankle-breaking stilettos.

But this wasn’t a courtroom. This was the set—or rather, the dining room of a humongous mansion—of Luring Love, the reality show she’d signed up for six months ago. Oh, at first, she’d thought it was funny that the show was auditioning in her city. She thought women had to be desperate to put themselves out there like that, and chase after a man. The last thing she needed in life right now was a man interfering with her career and the time she spent working for her favorite charity, Helping Hands. But as the audition date drew near, she began to think of a very good reason to try out. Of course, there was the prospect of meeting an attractive man who was probably only interested in sex (and Rochelle’s sex life was nonexistent), but there was also the exposure on national television for Helping Hands, and the prize money if she actually won the show. Yep, she was all in when she realized the possibilities. She could sacrifice some pride in order to raise funds for a good cause couldn’t she? Of course she could. And so, after dozens of interviews and near-painful home videos outlining the very boring details of her life, she’d somehow made it as a finalist. She was going to be on TV. But more importantly, nothing was going to stop her from winning the grand prize money for her charity.

Oh yeah, and the bachelor’s heart or whatever.

But seriously, the winnings would free up time to take on the cases that meant something to her—instead of all the time she wasted making rich corporations even richer. Sure, being a corporate attorney paid the bills but representing penniless, battered women who came through Helping Hands was her real passion. After most grueling workdays, she would head over to give the last of her energy to the incredible women staying there. It was a shelter without other connections or financial options, and she would often find herself rotating between the roles of pro bono legal advisor, amateur therapist, and housekeeper depending on the daily needs and demands.

Becoming a contestant on this show put her in a better position to meet those needs and demands.

It was a shallow means to a worthy end. Her closest girlfriends could tease her all they wanted about “ulterior motives” but Rochelle stubbornly refuted them. This was NOT about finding love. That ship had sailed—and sunk and was rotting on the ocean floor.

She took a generous sip of champagne, wondering how many times she’d have to tell herself that over the course of the next twelve weeks. I’m whoring myself out for money, after all. She’d never even seen an episode of Luring Love, but she’d overheard her assistant Jennifer and her paralegal Gemini talking about past seasons, and the word “scandalous” came up every few sentences or so. Who slept with whom. Who threw a colossal temper tantrum and got voted off. Who had the bikini “mishap.” (Apparently there was always a bikini mishap.)

One thing she had already decided, though, was that there was no way she was sleeping with the guy. He was lucky enough to have all these women vying for his attention, but to expect them all to sleep with him, too? You’ve got to be freaking kidding me. We might as well inject ourselves with an STD cocktail.

But all else was fair game. Charm him, wine and dine him. She was even willing to do her own version of a bikini mishap in order to rouse his, er, heart—or at least, borrow his affection for the duration of the show. Maybe after the show, they could even be friends. As long as she could talk him out of his half of the prize money.

Heh.

Either way, this poor guy didn’t stand a chance. Jennifer and Gemini saw to it that she knew all the ways to win his heart and all the ways to avoid getting voted off the show. If there was one thing Rochelle had cornered the market on, it was persuasiveness. Her track record in the circuit court system was evidence enough