(Pity Series, #3)
Publication date: Jan. 24, 2024
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance
I always wondered who was crazy enough to apply to those reality dating shows…
Turns out, I’m that person. Paige Holland here—lifetime resident of Elk Lake, Wisconsin, and dedicated seventh-grade math teacher.
Unfortunately, if I don’t fall for one of the two guys who live right in Elk Lake I might have to move. This limits my choices to a substitute teacher I can’t stand or Tim, a guy I went through school with. It’s not that I can’t see being with Tim—he’s totes my type—but he’s so wounded from his divorce, he’s made it clear he’s only on the show to make his ex-wife jealous.
With one disaster after another being broadcast around the world, I’m seriously questioning why I thought a reality show was a good way to find love…
Who in the world is the new woman walking into the ballroom? She must be someone special because all the cameras, except for the one pointed at Tim, turn in her direction. Staring at her, I realize she looks kind of familiar, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. I don’t generally hang out with highly polished and glamorous people, and this chick looks like she just walked off the pages of Vogue magazine.
Trina glides back across the ballroom with Tim trailing behind her. “We have a guest!” she announces with so much excitement, you’d think Jesus was here to bless the bread and wine.
On impossibly long legs and stilettos high enough to impress any of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, the new woman glides toward the host. “Trina …” she croons.
“Thank you for coming tonight, Eva.”
Holy hell! Eva? As in Tim’s ex, Eva?
“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” She turns toward the camera closest to her and offers the most blindingly fake smile I’ve ever seen. No wonder her acting career never took off.
Meanwhile, Tim is standing next to Trina as stiff as a toy soldier awaiting his execution.
Eva walks toward him and when she arrives, croons, “Tim, it’s so good to see you again. How have you been?”
His expression morphs from shock to pure loathing. It’s clear he’s trying to decide his best course of action because he doesn’t respond for several seconds. When he finally breaks his silence, all he says is, “Eva.”
“Daaaarling …” She sounds like she’s a long-lost Gabor sister in those old-time movies. “I was crushed when I heard what a hard time you’re still having with our breakup.” I want to punch this woman right in the face.
Tim cocks his head to the side before replying, “I’m not sure what you’re talking about, Eva.”
Striving for a look of innocence and failing, she says, “Trina told me you’ve been unable to move on because you’re still in love with me.”
“I never said love, Eva.” Oh goody, Trina’s decided to enter the fray. “I said that Tim wasn’t emotionally free of you.” Potatoes, potahtoes, am I right?
“I know it was hard on Tim when I left.” Eva bats her eyes like she’s holding back tears. “But I had no choice. He and I got married too soon and when Holden showed up, I knew I had to go to him.” Her lashes flutter like a llama with conjunctivitis.
“Do you have anything to say to that, Tim?” Trina wants to know.
Tim glares at his ex. “You only knew Holden for a week before you left me. We’d been together for four years.”
Eva looks at Tim with pity before dropping a bomb. “Tim, I knew Holden before I’d ever met you.”
The look of horror on his face says it all. He’s about to lose it—spectacularly.
I feel compelled to do something to save him from this humiliation, but I don’t know what. Without thinking, I step forward and declare, “Which makes you the villain, not Tim!” I sound like I’m playing a live-action game of Clue. It was the butler in the pantry with a butter knife!
Eva turns her head and sneers at me condescendingly. “Who are you?”
“I’m Paige Holland.” When that doesn’t seem like a self-explanatory enough declaration, I add, “I’m an old friend of Tim’s.”
“Then why haven’t I ever heard of you?” she wants to know.
“Why didn’t Tim know about Holden?” I retaliate.
“Are you saying you and Tim were having an affair while he was married to me?” That’s not what I was saying, but it does make me wonder if Eva had been cheating on Tim throughout their marriage.
Before I can accuse her of that, Tim steps forward and takes my hand. “Paige, please stop trying to help.”
Part of me knows I should listen to him, but I don’t. Instead, I spin around and yell—yell— “No, Tim! This bimbo is not going to come in here and act like the wounded party. She’s the one who cheated, she’s the homewrecker …” Talk about giving Midwestern Matchmaker their money’s worth, I’m full-on guaranteeing they’ll be picked up for another ten seasons if they can keep delivering the level of drama I’m offering.
“Timothy …” Eva says, “I want to know if you were cheating on me?”
“So would I,” Trina feels the need to add.
Tim exhales loudly. “Paige and I went to school together. That’s all. We didn’t become friends until I moved home.”
While true, that kind of hurts. I just told the world we were old friends and he relegated me to mere acquaintance status. But then he squeezes my hand and adds, “But we’re very good friends now.” Aaaaand I melt.
“I think you’re lying,” Eva tells him.
“I can see why a liar might tend to believe the worst in people,” he retorts.
Eva spins toward Trina. “You said he was a hot mess. You said the only reason he came on this show was to get even with me!”
Before I know what I’m doing, I rush at Eva with the intention of ripping every last hair out of her head. Tim pulls me back in the nick of time, and reminds me, “This is going to be televised, Paige.”
“Not if I can help it!” I tell him. And this is where I totally lose my mind…
Author Bio:Whitney loves to laugh, play with her kids, bake, and eat french fries -- not always in that order.Whitney is a multi-award-winning author of romcoms, non-fiction humor, and middle reader fiction. Basically, she writes whatever the voices in her head tell her to.She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband, Jimmy, where they raise children, chickens, and organic vegetables.Gold Medal winner at the International Readers' Favorite Awards, 2017.Silver medal winner at the International Readers' Favorite Awards, 2015, 2016.Finalist RONE Awards, 2016.Finalist at the IRFA 2016, 2017.Finalist at the Book Excellence Awards, 2017Finalist Top Shelf Indie Book Awards, 2017
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