Greg Hayes sighed and closed his eyes, wishing that his cell phone would miraculously drop the call with his agent. He couldn't believe what she was asking of him.
"Look, I know you're used to working with professionals, and these are just some teenagers, but the agency handling the contest promised that they would be well prepared," she said, her voice pleading.
"That's great and all, but I still don't quite understand how you think this is going to help my image." Greg got up from the leather chair in his office and started to pace. He could already tell that this conversation was going nowhere. Somehow his agent and his PR guru had conspired against him, and he'd never convince them that they were crazy.
"You know you've had a lot of bad press lately- and despite what you may think, your image is important. Your movies are aimed at the very demographic who will enter this contest. Just think of the publicity! All those teen girls will be imagining themselves in one lucky girl's shoes. She'll probably talk about it to whoever will listen. Not to mention the fact that the winners will be on the Ellen Degenres show both before and after they work for you. Maybe if the girl likes you enough, she can sway Ellen's opinion of you."
Greg rolled his eyes. It wasn't like he wanted to go on her show- so who cared if she swore she'd never have him back? He hadn't meant to insult her during that magazine interview. He'd only been joking. It just didn't come across that way in print.
"Fine. You've gotten me this far. If you really think it will help, I'll do it. But if it's a disaster, I get a free veto for your next crazy idea."
"Deal. I'll call you soon with the details. Cao."
Greg snapped his phone shut and stared as it blinked "12:42".
Twelve Minutes and Forty-two seconds was all it took to change everything.
Allie Bennet paced the hardwood floors, discreetly eyeballing the nine other girls in the room.
She totally had this. If Ellen picked one of the other girls- well, she was just delusional. Especially that redhead in the corner. The girl had been staring at her shoes for the last twenty minutes without looking up. Not even once. How was someone like that going to shadow a celebrity if she turned green at the prospect of going on a talk show? She wasn't made for the limelight.
"Samantha Montgomery?" A man with a clip board and earpiece poked his head into the room. He'd been taking each of them, one by one, to interview with Ellen Dengenres herself, in front of the studio audience.
Allie had aced her question, of course.
Who would you most like to be personal assistant to, and why?
Allie had batted her eyes and smiled, and then said, 'Someone like Bono, of course. He uses his celebrity for the greater good of the world. He's an inspiration."
Yeah, right. Allie would die if she got assigned to some old, completely irrelevant celebrity. She was hoping for someone more like Justin Timberlake. That would be so hot.
A few minutes later, Samantha returned to the waiting room, looking a little flushed but pretty happy, too. The girl was kind of cute, in a country bumpkin sort of way. Her hair had probably never seen a drop of hair dye, and she was wearing cowboy boots. Or cowgirl boots. Whatever.
The man called another name, and this time the redhead's head snapped up and she turned an even darker shade of green. She started to walk towards him and then all of the sudden veered towards a garbage can and puked.
Ugh, gross. Almost every girl in the room visibly cringed, and the guy at the door sort of wrinkled up his nose. The redhead wiped her mouth off with a paper towel and sheepishly followed the guy out of the room.
A few seconds later, someone walked in and dragged the garbage can out of the room. No one talked for a few minutes, and Allie started tapping her foot. Vomit-girl was the last one to be called. That meant this was almost over, and they all knew it. The tension in the room was obviously heavier as they waited for the redhead to return.
But she didn't. The guy with the clipboard just came back and told them all to follow him out to the stage, and the missing girl was no where to be seen.
Oh well. Not like she was really going to make it, anyway.
The nine remaining girls filed out towards the stage, where they'd already been to answer their question. The studio audience came into view, and Ellen's voice piped up. "Welcome back girls! Come on over here and we'll get this show on the road."
Allie, second in line, stood next to another blonde who was nervously twirling a purple plastic bangle. Ellen walked back to her seat and picked up her coffee mug, taking a long sip. Then she picked up a newspaper and jokingly leaned back in her chair, as if she planned to delay the announcement. The audience laughed and Allie forced herself not to roll her eyes. Sometimes it was just impossible to be patient. She was ready to meet Justin Timerberlake already! Or, you know, at least a close second. Maybe Tatem Channing. He was totally hot in STEP UP.
"Alright, alright. I'm only teasing. All of you know that you were chosen as a top ten finalist from the thousands of entries. Now, there's one thing you girls don't know. There's actually room for three of you to win."
Now the audience cheered and the contestants grinned at the good news. So that gave them each a one in three chance. Not that Allie needed the extra help.
"Now, before I announce the names, let me tell you how this works. The three winners will spend two weeks in Hollywood learning how to be a good personal assistant. Then they'll be sent for thirty days to assist whichever celebrity they get as an assignment. Afterwards, they'll return to the show and fill us all in on the juicy details."
Ellen grinned at the last two words, and then cleared her throat and picked up a note card.
"The first winner is..."
She abruptly turned her attention to her nails, as if realizing she needed a manicure. The audience groaned.
"Okay, okay. The first winner is Jayla Cohen."
The girl at the far end, who looked a little like a young Halle Berry, stepped forward and accepted a thick envelope from Ellen. The hugged for a moment and then she stepped back into line.
Okay already! Announce the next one!
Ellen picked her cue cards back up and read the next name. "Your second winner is... Samantha Montgromery."
Again, the audience clapped, and a few butterflies fluttered in Allie's stomach. What if she didn't win? What if...
And then she heard Ellen say her name, and she was walking over to pick up her envelope before she even realized what she was doing. Ha! She knew she'd win. How could they not pick the only Hollywood native for a job like this?
It was hard not to do a little dance as she returned to line, a hopelessly gigantic grin on her face. The next six weeks were going to totally rule.
The rest of the hour passed in a blur. Once they went to commercial break, the three winners were ushered to a secondary waiting room as the other six were excused and sent home, their fairy tale summer abruptly over.
But Allie's had just begun.