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First pages

Prologue:

Leticia Anderson had harboured serious ambitions to be an investigative journalist. She earned her degrees from the best university journalism programs and after leaving university completed additional certificates from the media schools. She had even donated months to years of her time to labouring away in unpaid internships with the most respected television stations, magazines and newspapers. However, the brilliant young woman remained undiscovered and unemployed, until to her great embarrassment, she was offered the contract for The Charity Dating Show.

The Charity Dating Show was a terribly unliberated production, in which between fifteen to twenty beautiful young females vied for the attention of one more-or-less desirable male. The inequality was obvious, because the male, sometimes known as the “Charity Eligible” was perceived as the prize for which all the girls had to compete. The young man also handed out pink carnations at the end of selected segments, implying that the fate of the girls on the show and ultimate decision whether to commence a relationship were all within his power.

The Charity Dating Show somehow appealed to public tastes, despite its being an imitation of similar American and Australian dating shows, with the one difference, that all the contestants in The Charity Dating Show dedicated part of their expense allowance (paid in lieu of a wage for appearing on the show) and any other sundries which came their way to worthy community causes. The glitz, the hope of romance, the parade of pretty dresses and the attractions visited on dates all attracted viewers jaded by a society where few people found long term lasting relationships.

Leticia comforted herself that as hostess-director she had a respectable role amongst the production team and steady employment as The Charity Dating Show was filmed year after year. This year however, as she surveyed the selection of girls management insisted she include, she felt some misgivings.

First there was the socialite whose father owned part of the television station, and the super-model, who although still beautiful was nearing the end of her career in an industry that prioritised the figures of the very young. Neither of those women were likely to follow the rules of the show and take a back-seat to the choices of the Charity Eligible!

Other contestants included established career women, a ballet dancer who had appeared in enough productions to be moderately well-known, and a member of a state symphony orchestra. To top it all off, there was the editor of a feminist magazine, whom Leticia had been told she absolutely must include - at least for the first episode. Even the younger girls appeared less pliable than usual, and Leticia shuddered to think what might happen when the women were all locked up together in one mansion, with nothing to focus upon but one Eligible candidate.

“What do you think?” Leticia inquired of key members of her trusted team, Simon Steeple who headed camera crew one, and George who led camera crew two.

The contestants’ photographs were all pinned to a giant cork board in Leticia’s office along with a few pertinent biographical details. The men bent over the display.

“If he is anything of a man, he will notice those dark eyed beauties,” Simon Steeple said pointing to Constance and Nadine.

“Mmm,” Leticia murmured thoughtfully. “What about her?” She pointed to model girl Alison.

Simon shook his head: “Too skinny”, he remarked.

“According to my fashion magazines, her career is suffering because she hasn’t been able to stay thin enough,” Leticia said. “Some people say that is her motivation for volunteering to go on The Charity Dating Show.”

“Whatever her motivation, she is going to look spectacular on camera and we are lucky to have her,” George remarked. He pointed to another contestant who was naturally thin, clad in a designer label suit and wearing designer glasses. “I predict very few of the contestants will get along with that one. A snobbish background and preppy looks as well. The Charity Eligible will probably eliminate her early.”

“The blondes look a bit pale,” Simon said, pointing to Janny and Vonda. “We will have to make sure they are well made-up or they will appear insipid on camera. They both have show-biz backgrounds, so they should understand that.”

“Which girls do you think are most suited to our Charity Eligible?” Leticia asked.

“He is educated,” Simon said, “So he might like Heddy.” He pointed to an African Australian beauty who was also a vet. “Or find something in common with Constance, who works in hospitals.”

“Nadine seems very traditional if he is old fashioned,” George remarked. “Or the Monroe look alike, Betty is very beautiful.”

“Thank you for your opinion guys,” Leticia said. “If our Charity Eligible fails to notice those girls or eliminates them too soon, we may consider putting them in his way once again…”

“This show is not rigged by any chance is it?” Simon joked.

Leticia laughed. “Of course not,” she said. “But we have to make ratings, and not everything that happens on set makes it into the show; but on the other hand, not everything that happens in the show is random! You boys know your job.”

 

CHAPTER ONE: Inside the Candidate House

"Hello everyone and welcome to the set of the Charity Dating Show," Leticia said, surveying the girls assembled before her. There were twenty of them, carefully chosen from the various states of Australia. They also had a variety of backgrounds. The main thing they had in common was they all were willing to give up some of their time to raise funds for charity on the slim chance of finding love.

"My name is Leticia," the hostess-director continued, "And I will be living with you for the next few weeks. The television station has booked an entire resort villa for our use, complete with swimming pool, games room, private digital video library and landscaped garden area. This villa will be affectionately known to us as the “Candidate House”, which can be shortened to the “Candi-house”.”

Several girls giggled and Leticia acknowledged their amusement. “I know that unfortunately sounds a bit like ‘candy’ (lolly) house, however the nick-name tends to stick! Despite that it is my fond hope that everyone here will have a great time!" The hostess viewed the contestants expectantly.

The girls giggled and whispered amongst themselves as was only natural for a bevy of young ladies gathered together for a festive purpose. The majority sounded happy and excited. A few eyed each other speculatively, as if assessing their competition. Simon pointed his camera towards the pushy ones because he expected they would be the source of dramatic interest for the very first episode.

"I assure you that there will be no need to be bored waiting for dates," Leticia announced. "You will have every opportunity to make friends amongst the girls as well as make the acquaintance of the current Charity Eligible. There are laundry and cooking facilities in the villa should you wish to avail yourself of them, but we have engaged a maid service and all the meals will be fully catered for you. Please let me know if there is anything special you require, it would be my pleasure to oblige as I always have a good time hosting these events. Any questions?"

"What is the Eligible like?" asked a tall African Australia girl called Heddy. She carried herself with an air of assurance which was very attractive.

"Yes, what can you tell us?" cried a lively dark haired girl whose name was Rozanne. According to her biographic notes, she was often the life of the party.

Leticia smiled. "All I am allowed to say at this stage is that his name is Anthony, and that he is a doctor by profession." A buzz of conversation broke out on all sides as the girls reacted to the news. A medical doctor was clearly perceived as a quality candidate and they all appeared pleased.

"He sounds wonderful," gushed a dark eyed girl called Constance. "I like him already." She clasped her hands together and the look in her eyes became dreamy.

"The fellow could have some potential," observed the socialite called Deborah coolly. Several girls gave her quizzical looks. Keeping a level head was obviously an unpopular tactic.

"How can you be so cynical?" asked a thin girl called Saidee. She wore her light brown hair pulled tightly back into a bun. "You could at least go into this with an open mind!" She glared at Deborah severely.

"My mind is plenty open," Deborah retorted sturdily. "I can envision several scenarios, either he is the right guy for one of us, or he is not the right guy for any of us. I like to be realistic," she added. "Not like some of you, half in love already, and you haven't even met the guy!"

"A doctor does sound nice," murmured a temperate girl called Kendra. “You have to admit that Deborah.”

Deborah shrugged. “I thought I did that,” she said. “Just not as effusively as some.”

Kendra laughed and some of the other girls sniggered. Rozanne looked like she wanted to say something more, but could not find the right words. Constance still appeared to be lost in her dream world.

 

Leticia called the group back to order. “Are there any other questions less related to the Charity Eligible?”

"I am looking forward to the pampering and the beauty treatments," said Mirage, an attractive ash-blonde with glasses. “When does that begin?”

“What happens to those of us who get sent home after the first episode?” Ilese inquired. “It would be awfully disappointing to turn around and go straight back home.”

"You will get your chance to enjoy yourselves here for at least a day," Leticia replied. "In acknowledgement of the fact that some of you have had to travel some distance to attend, we will be having a relaxing time this evening. The beautician and hair-stylist will arrive in the morning, and you will be prepared to look your best for the debut ceremony with the Charity Eligible tomorrow evening. If he sends you home after the carnation ceremony, transport will have been arranged for you."

Some girls looked relieved, while others looked intensely excited.

"I expect we will have a lot of fun however it works out," said Ilese. She was a friendly girl who displayed a love of layering and fringe work on her clothing. “Twenty-four hours and one television episode are better than none.”

"Yeah!" agreed Phaera, a plump brunette with shoulder-length hair. "Even if we only get to stay one night, being on the show will be an adventure."

 

"I am not here for any of the usual reasons," announced a brunette with a chunky haircut and heavy make-up. According to her name-tag, her name was Orb. "I am here to prove that the Charity Eligible would never pick a feminist."

The other girls turned in surprise and surveyed Orb from head to toe. Several of the more fashionable were inclined to turn up their noses at her outfit, which was also on the chunky side.

"I don't know about that," said a lovely girl called Nadine. "I have a great career and I still get a lot of dates."

"Are you saying the rest of us are not liberated?" cried a thin red haired called Becca. Her hair was blow dried back into a neat cap, and according to her biography she worked in retail. “I thought most of us modern women had fulfilled the feminist charter.”

“You may work, but you are still willing to put yourself on parade in a dating show,” Orb retorted. ”And one in which the male calls all the shots!”

“He won’t be calling all the shots around me,” Deborah murmured and Heddy nodded in accord.

“There is more than one way of managing a man,” Janny added with a giggle.

“I can drink any Eligible under the table,” Gabby announced, “And I play darts and pool against the best. If a feminist is a girl who can beat a man at his own games, I am the greatest.”

“A feminist is a woman who continues to fight for women’s rights,” Orb explained.

“Which rights?” Even shy blonde Vonda appeared to have something to say.

“Exactly,” model girl Alison spoke up. “We have the vote, we have careers and we have our independence, what we don’t have are relationships!”

“The situation is the exact opposite to the 1950s, where the women were all housewives and dependent on their husbands.” Deborah remarked practically.

“As if you have to work,” Gabby snorted looking at Deborah’s immaculate suit, hair and shoes. Deborah shrugged. She could have said a lot, she was a librarian, a good one and worked for the sheer joy of having an occupation, but she was used to people’s perception of her wealth.

"The Charity Eligible’s choice would be a matter of personal taste wouldn't it?" said the peaceable Kendra. “Not necessarily anything to do with feminist philosophy or lack thereof.”

 

Leticia chose that moment to re-enter the conversation. She privately agreed that the structure of the show was highly patriarchal, but viewer ratings were always high and women were always keen to enrol and strut their stuff on television.

"I would like your attention for a few more minutes while I show you to your rooms," the hostess-director said. "There are six spacious bedrooms in this villa. One is occupied by myself and a mountain of television station equipment, while the second has been assigned to Vonda, Kendra, Janny and Rozanne. It has a lovely view of the shrubbery and direct access to the patio. The ensuite bathroom should be sufficient to your needs. I do hope you girls like it.” The group followed Leticia along the corridor and peered into the allocated bedroom. Kendra, Janny, Vonda, and Rozanne squealed as they recognised their luggage.

“The next bedroom is assigned to Heddy, Racquel, Becca and Orb, Leticia continued. “This room is also very nice, being on the shrubbery side of the house. Moreover, it has its own luxury spa bathroom suite. You girls should be very happy there.” Leticia opened the door to reveal the suitcases belonging to Racquel, Becca, Heddy and Orb. Then the group moved along once again.

“The third bedroom faces the morning sun, and also has direct access to the patio,” Leticia announced. “This room has been reserved for Constance, Nadine, Deborah and Alison. I hope that you are early risers because the mornings are very pleasant beside the pool. And once again, you do have your own ensuite.”

Moving along quickly, Leticia led the way to the next room: “The fourth bedroom has handy access to the hedgerow, and also features a luxury bathroom. It has been arranged to accommodate Ilese, Phaera, Mirage and Saidee. I think you will love it.”

Leticia opened the door to the last room: “My personal favourite is the last bedroom. It has a balcony overlooking the native herbarium. The bathroom is quite generously proportioned, and although it doesn't have a spa like the other two, it does have the most fantastic mirrors. The room has been allocated to Gabby, Ebony, Betty and Yana."

Leticia paused, and then said: "Well, that was the grand tour ladies! I suggest you take an hour to settle into your rooms and freshen up. Then we will have lunch together in the communal dining room before playing some games designed to determine your positioning in the debut line-up tomorrow evening."

 

An hour later, freed from the grime of travel, the young ladies returned to the communal area looking relaxed and casual in a selection of jeans, slacks and track pants. Lunch was a light hearted affair with meat and cheese platters, gourmet sandwiches and a selection of salads that were both mouth-watering and friendly towards those contestants who preferred to maintain a low calorie diet.

At the end of the meal, Deborah and Gabby volunteered to clear the table. Leticia looked at the pair in surprise, and then murmured her thanks.

"Just take everything to the kitchen dears," the Hostess said. "Then they will be out of the way and the maid can get straight to the washing-up. I will see you in the large lounge in a few minutes."

Deborah and Gabby began to stack the plates, while Leticia led the other girls into the sunny room next door. "We have plenty of room to do everything we want here," Leticia said. "Please make yourselves comfortable, I don't want to start without Deborah and Gabby."

The hostess settled herself down on one of the cushioned wicker lounges and allowed the girls to socialise at will. She noticed that Saidee talked the most to Phaera and Ilese, while Heddy chatted with Racquel, Becca and Alison. Nadine, Constance, Vonda and Janny formed another group. Rozanne was speaking in an animated fashion to Ebony and Kendra, but the conversation did appear to be a bit one-sided.

"Aha," Leticia said, jumping to her feet when Deborah and Gabby arrived. "We can get started now. May I have your attention everyone?"

The girls giggled and turned their faces towards the hostesses’ couch. An expression of expectancy out-lined most of their faces.

"Thank you," Leticia said, producing a sheaf of paper and a bundle of pens from her briefcase. "Would you hand them out for me please Janny?"

Janny obediently took the stationary and began to circulate around the room. The girls accepted a sheet of paper and a pen each. They held the material poised on their laps.

"Tomorrow afternoon, we will have a debut ceremony where the individual contestants are presented to Anthony," Leticia began. "After your presentation, you will go and join a line-up along the back wall. These formalities will take us through to the intermission, where you will all go to a special buffet supper."

Checking that she had their full attention, Leticia continued: "Anthony and I have an interview to perform for the camera, and then we will join you in the ballroom for a period of unstructured socialising. These two events will give you a chance to make an impression on Anthony. I suggest that you enjoy yourselves and make the most of them."

Several girls laughed. "We'll sure try," Racquel said.

“What sort of impressions we’ll make, I don’t know,” Deborah muttered.

The tom-boyish Gabby eyed Deborah suspiciously. “Speak for yourself,” she said.

“Oh, I am,” Deborah’s laugh was a little snort.

Gabby quietly clenched and unclenched her fists. She didn’t like high society types, but everyone was different. In the long run, the girls were all there for the Charity Eligible.

"At the end of the evening," Leticia announced, "Anthony will be required to offer pink carnations to ten young ladies. This unfortunately spells the end of the contest for the other ten young ladies! However, you must try not to be too disappointed. Our sponsor has put together a bundle of pamper packs and gift vouchers for everyone who has to go home after the first selection ceremony."

"It sounds lovely," Ilese said, "Everyone is a winner!"

"That depends what you are looking for," Orb said dryly.

"Oh don't be a spoil sport," Deborah remarked sternly. Orb choked, but she did not say anything in return. Enough girls had been vocal about their reasons for being on the show to subdue the activist somewhat.

"Back to the game please everyone," Leticia called. "As so many of you will only be present for the first round, I would like to make sure you have as much fun as possible. To facilitate that, I want to work out a specific order in which you will be presented to the Eligible. Your first task is to write down two reasons why you would like to be the first to be presented to the Charity Eligible tomorrow. I will collect them up and draw three out of a hat. These will be our first three ladies."

There was much "umm-ing" and "ah-ing" and scratching of pens, and then Leticia circulated around with the stetson hat to collect the folded sheets. She did it herself to make sure everything was strictly fair. When she had collected all the sheets, she shook the hat and placed it on the table before her. "Becca," she said, "Would you please draw a sheet out of the hat?"

Becca stepped forward, selected a folded note and handed it to Leticia. Leticia unfolded the paper. "It is Heddy's!" She said: "I hope you don't mind you don't mind me reading it out loud Heddy?"

"That's okay," Heddy murmured.

"Heddy wants to be the first to meet the Charity Eligible because that will give her the longest to observe him," Leticia continued. "She also wants to show him that she is confident and can be an ice breaker. Well done Heddy! You will get your wish."

Becca selected a second note from the hat, and Leticia opened it. "This belongs to Janny," the Hostess said. "Janny wants to be one of the first to meet Anthony because it saves her from waiting nervously. She also wants to make a good early impression upon him. Good luck Janny!"

Becca selected the third and last folded note from the hat. Leticia straightened the sheet and read its contents aloud: "Constance wants to be amongst the first to meet Anthony because she is eager to see what he looks like. She also wants to stand out from the crowd. Go for it Constance!"

 

Leticia put the last note down on the table and looked around. "Now we are going to vie for the final position," she said. "Some people believe that going last can be very advantageous. For example, the Charity Eligible will be more relaxed; you get to make a dramatic delayed entrance, and there will be fewer people coming after you to distract his attention."

The maid appeared carrying a box of bingo sheets and counters. Heddy, Janny and Constance, who already had positions, assisted Leticia in administering the game, while the remaining seventeen girls observed their sheets keenly. The first to call "bingo" was Deborah.

"That is the final position decided," said Leticia. "Good luck Deborah!"

“Last but not least,” Deborah remarked with a grin. She knew she offended everyone around her on a regular basis and still managed to be popular amongst people who knew her well. It was part of her extreme honesty policy.

The maid removed the bingo implements and Leticia addressed the ladies once again: "We are going to ask girl number ten to pin a carnation on Anthony's lapel. This is symbolic of the carnations he will be giving out later in the evening. The person who does this job needs to be handy with a corsage pin. Our camera operator Simon Steeple will pretend to be the Charity Eligible for this exercise. I want each of the ladies who are currently unplaced to go up to Simon and practice pinning a corsage onto his jacket."

Simon, who was normally attached to the video camera, finished setting it onto a tripod. He beckoned to Constance. "Here pretty one," he said. "I have focussed on the centre of the room. Just keep looking at the screen and make sure I am getting a picture. Thanks so much!"

Vastly flattered, Constance positioned herself behind the camera. The remaining contestants all walked up to Simon and attempted to pin the corsage onto his tweed jacket. Several girls fumbled with the corsage, and one girl actually dropped it. Everyone had a good laugh.

"It needs a better pin," Yana remarked when it was her turn. She succeeded in hanging it precariously from a few threads of Simon’s jacket. Phaera fastened the corsage more firmly, but everyone agreed she had the arrangement upside down. Betty, who occasionally handled flowers at her work, made a passable job of attaching the corsage to the jacket.

In the end, however, it was Orb who surprised everyone. She marched up to Simon, and unceremoniously lifting the corsage up to his lapel, forced the pin neatly through the material. It hung there elegantly and securely.

"I think we have a winner," Leticia observed.

Several girls clapped, but Becca was heard to mutter, "Now he will have to notice Orb for sure..."

"Some people are clever," Nadine whispered. "But don't you worry, we will have our chances."

 

"Now the rest of you are to draw straws to see who will be before and after the central position," Leticia said. "This mug on the coffee table contains six red straws and eight blue straws. Those who draw a red straw will join the first ten, and those who draw a blue straw will form the second wave."

The fifteen un-ranked girls gathered around the stone mug, and each selected a straw. Leticia noted the colour each one drew. "That leaves us with an entrance order something like: Heddy, Janny and Constance; Rozanne, Gabby, Nadine, Yana, Ebony and Ilese. The central girl is Orb, who will attach the corsage. Then will come Saidee, Vonda, Phaera, and Racquel; followed by Becca, Mirage and Betty. The final three are Alison, Kendra, and Deborah," the Hostess announced.

"It seems fair enough," Deborah remarked.

"Chance is completely unbiased," Alison concurred. "The rest is up to us!”

“What happens now Leticia?" the ever-restless Gabby asked.

"You might want to relax and use the pool area until dinner," Leticia suggested. "After dinner, I have an advance screening of a new release movie to show you all. However, those of you who are especially tired are free to retire to your rooms early."

 

The next morning dawned bright and pleasant. Some girls were up and swimming in the pool before breakfast, while others slept in until elevenses. All were bright with anticipation. A beautician and hair-stylist arrived around one pm, and the young ladies were rostered to take advantage of their services.

The contestants had brought their own evening wear, so advice from wardrobe was kept to a minimum. The only contestant who gave any trouble was Orb, who insisted on maintaining her heavy make-up style despite advice from the beautician. Moreover, she had brought an evening blouse and skirt that everyone agreed clashed. The long sleeved blouse was purple, while the skirt was a red-ish brown.

"A dark brown would have been lovely," the Wardrobe Lady said and offered to lend Orb a satin skirt from stock.

Orb however refused stubbornly. "I have the right to wear my own things," she said. “Don’t I?”

Simon Steeple, who had been called in to adjudicate, nodded. "Of course you do," he said. "We just wondered if you would like something special for the camera."

"Nah I'm happy enough," Orb said. "If the guy can't take me as I am, that is his problem."

"Let her do what she wants," said Deborah, who was waiting next in line for the stylist.

"What concerns me," whispered Leticia to Simon under cover of the other contestants chatter: "Is that prophecy she made at the beginning - that the Charity Eligible would never choose a feminist! She seems determined to make it self-fulfilling."

"If the guy is half-way decent," said Kendra who was also waiting for the stylist, "He won't say anything rude. And if he simply doesn't pick her, she will still have material for that feminist column she writes."

"I say let her wear what she likes. Good looks aren't everything," added Alison.

"Such generosity from the truly beautiful," Deborah said dryly. "Weren't you up on a billboard beside the freeway once? Advertising something like a fizzy drink?"

"You got me!" Alison retorted good naturedly. “Thanks for the sarcasm.”

Deborah laughed. “You’re welcome,” she said. “It seems you are learning how to take me.”

“In short doses seems best at this stage,” Kendra responded with unexpected spirit.

Deborah chortled: “Priceless!” the socialite agreed.

 

As the afternoon drew to a close, the ladies were all beautified and prepared for their presentations. They talked amongst themselves during this process, swapping details such as town and state of origin, age and occupation. A common topic of discussion was the Charity Eligible. Leticia had refused to say anything more about him, but there was much speculation regarding whether he was tall or short, heavy-set or fit, blonde or dark. Each girl clearly had their own dream guy in mind, but all were open to getting to know the man once they were introduced.

Leticia appeared and asked the ladies to confine themselves to the lounge as the Charity Eligible was ushered through the front door and into the small reception room. His entrance was shielded from the girls, but if they had caught a glance they would merely have seen a slim outline in a dark evening suit. His hair was light coloured and neatly combed either side of a parting. His step was confident and his posture was upright.

 

Once Anthony was safely installed in the reception room, Leticia assembled the girls in their assigned order and led them through the corridors. The group stopped in formation just outside the double doors.

"When I give my word, the doors will be opened and you may enter one by one," Leticia said. "Please remember to give me enough time to announce each of you, and be polite enough to allow your fellow contestants a few words with Anthony."

"Yes Leticia," everyone chorused.

Leticia knocked gently on the doors and they were opened wide. Leticia stepped inside, and a handsome male model who had been hired to escort the ladies stepped out. He offered his arm to Heddy, who was first in line. Heddy and the male model (who said his name was Tim) waited at the head of the line, while Leticia went ahead into the reception room.

 

Leticia greeted Anthony, who was looking nervous. "How are you tonight?" She said.

"I am very glad to see you Leticia," Anthony said. "Everyone else is so new, but I do remember you from my auditions."

"I trust that you have been comfortable in the Eligible House," Leticia said. "After you have met the ladies, you will be welcome over here more often. However, I will be in residence as a chaperone. The station has certain legal standards to up-hold and must ensure the ladies’ health and safety."

"I understand that," Anthony said.

"Are you looking forward to meeting our contestants?" Leticia asked specifically for the cameras, which were trained upon them by this time.

"Oh yes, very much," Anthony said. "I love to meet young ladies. Unfortunately, in my line of work, they are usually sick." He laughed at his own joke.

"Well then, let me introduce you to some ladies who are not only very well, but quite lovely," Leticia said. "The first lady through the door will be Heddy."

Heddy appeared on cue. She was wearing a bright green dress that fitted perfectly and set off her dark hair and skin. Her smile was brilliant. Tim gave her a little push towards the Charity Eligible and returned to the waiting area to collect the next girl.

 

Anthony viewed Heddy appreciatively as she approached. "I am very pleased to meet you," he said.

"I am happy to be here too," Heddy said with conviction. They exchanged a few other pleasantries and Heddy told him she was a veterinarian. Then she moved to take her place at the beginning of the line-up.

"I will remember you," Anthony murmured as she left.

Heddy grinned. “That’s what I like to hear!”

"The next lady is Janny," Leticia announced.

Janny appeared through the doorway and walked towards Anthony with a bounce in her step.

"Wow!" Anthony said. "I am impressed. Are you a gymnast?"

"Close," Janny said. "I'm a dancer."

"I love the theatre when I get the chance to go," Anthony said. "Sadly it is not very often."

"You must be a busy man," Janny responded. They talked briefly and then Janny declared she must move along.

"I would like you to meet Constance next," Leticia intoned.

Constance entered the room and walked across to Anthony. He thought that she was very attractive.

"Hello," Constance said. "You must be Anthony!"

"Yes I am," Anthony said.

"I am not ashamed to admit I am on a quest for love," Constance said. "I work in a busy hospital and I never have any personal life."

"We can form a club," Anthony exclaimed. "I am in exactly the same situation!"

A bright eyed girl called Rozanne was introduced to Anthony next. She was remarkable for her quick movements and choice of red leather.

"I bet there is never a dull moment around you," Anthony observed.

"I am usually in the middle of the action," Rozanne replied. "Sometimes even controversy! You will find out."

"Here is Gabby," Leticia said, and Anthony found himself looking at a girl with an athletic figure. Her choice of evening attire was also boyish as she was clad in tailored slacks and a silken shirt. Her tanned skin spoke of the outdoors.

"You look like a sports woman," he said.

"You look like a doctor," Gabby replied.

"What does a doctor look like?" Anthony asked curiously.

"Elegant, but a bit bookish," Gabby said.

"You will have to get me out jogging," Anthony joked.

"Can do!" Gabby replied. “Fishing too if that is something you would like.”

Nadine had tender brown eyes and lovely dark brown hair. She definitely made an impression with her looks. That and her very sweet smile.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

I grew up in the Barossa Valley, an area of South Australia predominantly settled by German immigrants. I have had my share of romantic disappointments of course and I also spent some years volunteering as a counsellor. I hope that sharing my insights (in fictional form) can help empower modern women of all ages. It is all about being true to yourself - and being independent of others’ opinion.

Q. Where did the idea for this book come from?
A.
I must admit, the idea came from watching dating shows, ranging from the old "Perfect Match" with Tony Barbour to the American "Bachelor". I actually wrote the manuscript before there was an "Australian Bachelor" and it was predictive in that sense - although the show has launched before my book.
Q. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from this book?
A.
Arnie Hammer from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. would make a good “Charity Bachelor”. A range of actresses would be required to represent all the personality types of the women involved in the story.
Q. What draws you to this genre?
A.
I love romance, I love romantic comedy and I love to laugh. This represented the chance to combine the pleasures.

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