Home > Brave Enough

Brave Enough
Author: Kelly Elliott




A few months back, Missoula, MT


“You want me to do what?” I asked the two gentlemen sitting at the table across from me.

They waited for the server to finish clearing the plates from lunch. “We want you to star in a social dating experiment to help kick off a new network. And to make things interesting, portions will be aired live over a two-month period. No scripts, just real-life experiences.”

I stared at them silently for what I knew was much longer than I should have. “I’m sorry…Jack and Travis, correct?”

They both nodded. “Jack Morris and Travis Ryan.”

I smiled politely as I said, “My first question is, why me?”

The older guy, Jack, who was maybe in his early thirties, cleared his throat. “May I be frank with you?”

“I wish you would.”

“My mother was a huge fan of your father’s. Brock Shaw is a legend in this industry. She loves everything and anything to do with rodeos and the PBR. She’s followed your budding college career with team roping, and from what she tells us, you seem to have a big fan base of your own, both on and off campus.”

Travis cut in, “And I’m perfectly fine enough with my own masculinity to say that you’re a good-looking guy. You’re built from years of working on a ranch, you’re…what, about five-eleven?”

I nodded.

“Right. So you have your father’s looks, you’re a cowboy, your family is wealthy and has a rather large ranch here in Montana—if not the largest. The question should be…why not you? You are the future of your family’s legacy, so it should be your turn.”

I fidgeted in my seat some as I rubbed the back of my neck. “That was frank. And someone obviously did their homework—right down to how tall I am.”

Jack spoke again, “We want to be as open as we can with you, Hunter. Our parents’ company is starting the new network and we need something big to kick it off. There is a lot of competition out there, so the first few shows need to pull people in fast, especially women. My mother, in particular, wants to focus on empowering women with this network. It’s not going to be filled with shows on how to make Grandma’s meatloaf. More like how to build a house like the one your grandmother lived in. With that said, women—”

“And men,” Travis added.

Jack nodded. “And men like reality dating shows. Look at the more popular ones that are out right now. Their fans have what they call nations. These people throw viewing parties for every episode, or when they’re airing the finale.”

“I don’t want to get married. I’m only twenty-one, and not to mention, I’m still in college.”

They both laughed. “We’re not going to ask you to get married. Here’s what we propose. The show will be called Swipe Right and the tagline will be, ‘The Challenges of Dating in the Real World.’ We’ll take a group of women, twenty of them, and house them all together. You’ll have a set number of women—let’s say two—to take out each week. They will be randomly picked. The show will then arrange and pay for you and your date to head out on some magical kind of adventure away from the ranch. However…we’d like to film most of it on your family’s ranch.”

My eyes went wide. “You want to film it on Shaw Ranch?”

They both nodded.

Jack cleared his throat. “Did we mention the hefty amount of money we’re willing to donate to your father’s nonprofit? You’ll still be paid for your time as well.”

It was my turn to clear my throat. They’d already mentioned a large amount of money, two-hundred thousand, to be exact. It had been the one reason I had agreed to the meeting. “You have mentioned it, at least four times now.”

Jack smiled. “As I was saying, even though the majority of the show will be filmed on the ranch, we’ll arrange for some dates both on and off the ranch. Even to places like Las Vegas and San Diego. All expenses paid by the show.”

“Do I get to know anything about these women?”

Jack nodded. “Yes, of course, you will. They’ll each have detailed lists of their attributes, hobbies, ages, where they grew up, et cetera. After each date, you’ll be able to decide whether you would like to go out with them again, so you would swipe right, like the show’s name insinuates. If you did not connect with them, you’d swipe left.”

“Since some of this is live, I’m going to guess I won’t be expected to…” I let my voice trail off.

“Sleep with them?” Travis asked.

“Yes. I’m not some kind of playboy, despite my ‘fanbase,’ and I respect women too much to be taking out multiple girls and sleeping with all of them.”

Jack held up his hand. “It’s not like that at all. I mean, you can, and we hope you eventually kiss some of them. Maybe toward the end of the season, you’ll do a bit of making out. But no sex. We don’t want it to be that type of show.”

I nodded and let out a sigh of relief. It wasn’t like I was a virgin, but I did have my limits, and starring in a porn was one of them. “And after each date?” I asked. “What happens next?”

It was Travis who answered. “After each date, you’ll both go into a private booth and talk about how the date went. You’ll then both decide if you want to swipe right. If you don’t, the girl goes home, regardless of whether or not she swiped right. Your swipe takes precedence. But if she swipes left, she automatically gets to leave, regardless of what you swipe. We don’t want anyone staying who isn’t comfortable or doesn’t feel like she has a connection.”

“That’s good,” I said, relieved again in some significant way.

“By the time the two months is up,” Jack stated with a wide grin, “you’ll have narrowed it down to two women. You’ll do your final swipe for the woman you choose to date. If you continue to date for a minimum of two months after the show ends, we’ll give you a bonus of one-hundred-thousand dollars—but only if you agree to let us interview you and check in with both you and the final contestant during that two-month post-show timeframe.”

I dropped back in my seat. Holy shit. That would be a lot of money I could give to my dad’s foundation, which he’d started in memory of his first wife and his brother Beck who died while in the Marines. Kaci, dad’s first wife, died giving birth to my older brother, Blayze. She suffered from mental illness, and Dad created his foundation after that tragedy to help with resources for those suffering from mental illness. He also built a park in Uncle Beck’s name that included a skate park, playground, as well as a barn and an arena for the kids in 4-H. The park also offered some great opportunities for the kids of Hamilton by giving them a safe place to meet up.

That kind of money could do a lot more for this community. He could build the water park he’d been thinking of for the kiddos, and that new outdoor arena… My answer was literally a no-brainer, but I still had to think about it as there were a lot of moving parts.

Travis interrupted my internal thoughts. “The host would be someone native to Montana as well. Her name is Kipton Howse.”

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