WILDER:The Mountain Man's Babies(2)

By: Frankie Love

Living in the mountains is great. I set my own hours, am my own boss, and work with the greatest guys I’ve ever known. But damn, Jaxon, my oldest friend, hit the nail on the goddamn head.

“I know, I know,” I tell them, before I take another drink of my coffee, knowing just how lonely it can be up here.

Damn, maybe I need to get off this mountain more than I thought.

I need to go get laid. And badly.

Chapter Two

“I’m not trying to be a pessimist,” Anna assures me, raising her hands in defense. “I just think a reality TV show is so...”

“So what?” I furrow my brows not understanding why my sister can’t just support me. That’s what I need. That’s all I’ve wanted. My family to have my back.

She takes a sip of her mimosa before answering. “It’s so tacky.”

We’re having brunch in a swanky Seattle bistro, something French and something expensive and she doesn’t seem to understand that we all aren’t married to stockbrokers living in posh waterfront homes. Some of us are just trying to pay rent and a reality TV show seems like the best offer I’ve seen lately.

“You are such a talented interior designer, and you’ll make more money updating the homes of my friends. That house you did for Alana was gorgeous.”

I frown. “Buying furniture for mansions is redundant. I want something more exciting.”

“Well, this reality show is a bad idea. Those shows always make someone out to be the villain. What if that person is you? Your entire career could be ruined.”

I take a deep breath; frustrated that she doesn’t understand me. “This show could pay my bills for the entire year.”

“Or you could just move into our spare bedroom and help watch Nicolette.”

My mouth is in a tight line. “You know I love helping with my niece, but I don’t want any handouts. I want to make it on my own.”

Anna spears a piece of pineapple, eyes narrowed. “Mom and Dad think it’s embarrassing. The idea of you flaunting around on television.”

“Mom and Dad could call and talk to me about it. If they had their way I’d already be married to a guy like Brent. And that’s not going to happen. Ever.”

My sister’s husband is the last sort of guy I want to be with. I want a man who cares about more than his bank account.

Anna purses her lips. “You may think being married to Brent sounds like your worst nightmare, but he is able to support me and Nicolette. That counts for an awful lot.”

Anna married for money, not love. Just like our mother. And we may be family, but our priorities have always been different.

“It’s out of the question.” I fold my napkin and set it on the table. “I want my freedom, and I need some money in order to do that. So I’m going to try and get this gig.”

Anna shakes her head, confused. “Don’t you want a family? A husband? A baby?”

I shrug; because of course, I want those things. But I also want them on my terms. In my own time.

“One day,” I tell her. “But I’m not in a rush, Anna.”

“I know.” She pouts, and for a split second, I feel bad for her. Then I remember she chose this.

As if ignoring my comments about what I want, she launches into a new plan.

“Ohh! Brent can set you up with someone from work and we could have a double date. God, I need a night out.”

She is literally the last woman I know who needs a night out. She sends Nicolette to a fancy-pants preschool, has a private chef and a personal driver.

“No thanks, and I doubt Brent would want to help me,” I snort, thinking about her husband and the way he was condescending when I told him that I wouldn’t be taking my father’s money.

“It’s because you aren’t grounded. Once you have your shit together, a husband, a house, and a 401k, then you and Brent will get along.”

I swirl my mimosa, wondering what planet my sister lives on. I love her, I do. But she’s living in a completely different galaxy.

Anna must sense my irritation because she softens her stance. “Listen, I just care about my little sister. You’re twenty-five and don’t have a plan.”

I groan. “I do have a plan. The reality TV show is going to fund my life,” I explain, circling back to where we started.

Anna raises her hand and signals for the check. “And if you don’t get the job?”

I down the rest of my mimosa. “Then I guess we’ll have to go on that double date.”

Well. That sucked.

I was so not supposed to eff up that interview. I was supposed to be classy and smart and current. I was supposed to speak clearly and look at the camera.

Instead, I was a bumbling mess of nerves.

A complete disaster.

I was thrown the moment the concept was pitched. I thought the show would entail me making over some mansion in the Hollywood Hills, not designing the interior for a cabin in the woods. My ideas were all wrong. I was thinking gilded tables instead of buffalo plaid.

My design work had not prepared me for this. At all. I couldn’t be less suited for the job.

“Ms. Saint Claire,” a television producer says, stopping me in the hall. “I want you to know I was rooting for you. I saw some of the work you did in the last Seattle City magazine, and it was gorgeous, which is why I brought you in for an interview.”