“The love letters arrived.” Brock called from the kitchen.
Ashton hung back as the other guys rushed over to where a small wicker basket sat on the kitchen counter. On top of a stack of envelopes was a simple card.
“Thank you for taking the time to write love letters to Michelle,” Brock read the card aloud. “Last night she wrote letters back to the fourteen other guys she’d like to get to know more. If you do not receive a love letter, your time on the show is over and you’ll be leaving today. Those of you who do receive a love letter will have the opportunity to hang out with Michelle this afternoon and evening. Information about that hangout will arrive later this morning. Good luck, gentlemen. - Rachel.”
“I guess I’ll hand out the letters.” Victor picked up the little basket. “Since I already know I’m safe for the week.”
Ashton fought the urge to roll his eyes. He leaned against the kitchen counter, folding his arms across his chest. His bare feet were cold from the tile floor, but he sensed the day was going to heat up later. He wondered if their hangout would be outdoors, or in some nice, air conditioned building. If I even get a love letter. I’ll probably be on an airplane back to Hawaii this afternoon.
“Casey, Brock, Mason…” Victor handed out the envelopes around the room as he read them out loud. “Andy, Kimball, Reggie.”
Ashton counted as Victor read and handed out envelopes. Seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen. He held his breath. Victor took a deep breath and sneered, then looked up at Ashton. He didn’t even bother saying Ashton’s name, just handed it to him and walked away.
Her scrawling handwriting was beautiful. How can handwriting be beautiful? He didn’t want to read the letter in front of the other guys. They were comparing notes to see who got personalized notes and whose were more generic. No one seemed to notice when Ashton slipped from the room.
Sounds and smells from the kitchen disappeared as he drifted to a far corner of the mansion and found a little sunroom overlooking the ocean. He lowered himself into a chaise lounge and lifted the seal of the envelope. The delicate pink paper smelled like whatever hand lotion she’d been wearing. He could even see a grease smear in one corner that resembled a thumbprint.
Ashton, you’re a jerk and I don’t want to talk to you right now. Maybe I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Maybe. -Michelle
Yeah, I guess I deserve that. Ashton held the note to his chest and stared out at the ocean. He decided to play it cool this afternoon and hang back, staying out of her way. He wouldn’t draw any attention to himself and hope she’d eventually forgive him. At least she wrote me a letter. At least there’s that.
He stared at the ocean for a little while longer, then rose from the chaise lounge and made his way upstairs to shower and get ready for their hangout later in the day.