Dating Mr. Darcy - Kate O'Keeffe

Chapter 1

Is it a truth universally acknowledged, that a girl must compete on reality TV to win a modern-day Mr. Darcy's heart?

Of course not. That would be totally, off-the-charts insane, right?

And yet, here I am, moments away from becoming a contestant on the reality TV show, Dating Mr. Darcy.

I know, I know. You’re judging me. Heck, I’m judging me.

But let me set the record straight. I’m not here for the guy. No way. I mean, who in their right mind would willingly date someone on national TV? Someone who’s posing as Mr. Darcy, one of the most romantic fictional heroes of all time? The guy’s got to be a total idiot, or at least have an ego the size of my home state of Texas. And even though my current dating life can be summed up with the word “laughable,” there’s no way I’m that desperate.

Yet, despite my lack of enthusiasm, here I am, sitting in a faux-leather swivel chair, my back to one of those Hollywood-lit mirrors as an overzealous, tweezer-wielding makeup artist plucks yet another hair from my poor, tortured eyebrows. Eyebrows that apparently I misguidedly thought up until about an hour ago were perfectly fine.

As another hair is pulled from its happy home, I scrunch my eyes shut. Ah, how I miss those carefree eyebrow times. Really, I didn’t know how good I had it.

“You see, it’s high def, honey. The cameras will pick up every little imperfection and totally magnify it,” my torturer Linda says helpfully as she stands back to examine her handiwork. To my horror, she leans back in and begins to pluck some more.

I work hard at not breathing in her stale garlic breath while she continues to torment me. If she would let me turn around to see my reflection, I bet the skin around my brows would be so swollen, I’d look like Andre the Giant’s kid sister right about now.

“The last thing you want to be known as is ‘Monobrow Girl’ or some other such name,” Linda continues.

“People would do that?”

“You better believe it, girl. One contestant on the show a couple of years back had blackheads all over her nose. Bad ones, like someone had gotten a pen and jabbed it at her face, you know?”

I nod, pleased for the reprieve in the tweezer-induced torment.

She pulls out a large brush and starts applying face powder. “She got known as ‘Dalmatian Chick,’ which was kinda funny, but also kinda sad. People would hum the tune to 101 Dalmatians when she passed by, and there were memes all over social media.”

I knit my considerably lighter brows together. “That couldn’t have been fun for her.”

“I know, right? What I want to know is why she couldn’t have gotten her skin fixed before coming on the show? I mean, duh.”

I blink at her reflection. That was the problem?

“She did get a great deal promoting skin products after the show, though, so it all worked out in the end,” Linda adds.


As though public humiliation can all be fixed by financial gain. I feel sorry for the girl, blackheads and all.

“My point is, honey, people can be mean. Remember that.”

I nod at her. “And don’t have unruly eyebrows.”

She winks at me. “You caught on quick.”

She pulls off the barber’s cape she tied around my neck and stands back from my chair. “There. Much better.” She spins me around so I’m facing the mirror. “What do you think, honey?”

I sit up straighter in my seat as I take in my full reflection in the bulb-lined mirror. It’s hard not to be impressed, even if I know it’s not the real me. My eyes look larger and greener than they’ve ever looked in my life, my skin is glowing, and my lips are full and glossy. Despite the pain, my brows look perfect, and my brunette hair falls in soft waves around my bare shoulders.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a girly enough girl. I like to dress up to go out, I wear makeup, and I get my hair done with a guy called Stefaaan with three a’s at a swanky Houston salon for a small fortune every eight weeks.

But I’ve never in my twenty-seven years looked like this.

“I love that red sequined dress on you. It totally complements your shape.”

“Thanks,” I murmur, still taking it all in.

“He’ll love you. I bet you’ve got a real good shot at winning his heart.”

I flick my eyes to hers. The Mr. Darcy imposter. Right. I’d temporarily forgotten about him. I