"Welcome to the first ever Latitude 45 race. My name is Ted Mason and I'll be your host for this exciting and groundbreaking competition. Over the next few weeks, six teams will be competing in a race across America. Each night we will be bringing you updates while also showing you some events as they happen live. Along the way, contestants will be competing in a series of challenges, as they are pushed to their limits and beyond them. The race will be grueling and at times they may want to quit. But they won't because they will be competing for a huge reward. The first team to complete this journey will win the grand prize of one million dollars."
All the contestants but Reed broke out in applause. Not that he wasn't excited about the idea of winning that cash, but he still worried about the whole I-don't-have-a-partner issue.
"That's not all that sets this race apart from the others, though. This contest is only for LGBT individuals and their close allies. Never before has any network dared to do something like this."
Personally, Reed could think of a couple of reality show contests that met those criteria, but for once he managed to keep his yap shut. Only because he wanted to hear what else good ol' Ted might have to say.
One of the other racers, a young girl that wore a shirt that read Yes, I am and no, you can't watch raised her hand. "Uh, not to be rude, but what about the other reality shows on your network? They don't count?"
Her partner, who looked just as young, nodded in agreement. They both had the cute-as-a-button thing down pat from their matching rainbow knee socks to their pixie haircuts. They even wore red bows, the color sharp against their brown hair. The only difference between the two was one had blue eyes, while the other sported big, brown peepers. Oh, and brown eyes happened to be several inches taller. Reed found himself already liking them.
Ted, on the other hand, seemed less impressed. He shot them a murderous glare. "Don't interrupt me during a monologue."
Blue-eyes had been the one who'd asked the question. Her lips pursed together in anger before she turned to her partner and mouthed, What an ass.
Reed found himself nodding in agreement. Blue-eyes caught the gesture and flashed him a grin that Reed returned. He knew then that he'd found his first allies in the race.
Ted let out a long, drawn-out sigh. "As I was saying before, let's introduce the teams!"
He gestured to Waldorf and Statler. "We have Frank and Paul, airline pilots who have been together for twenty years."
Next he motioned to the Sailor Moon and her buddy. "Next are Jenny and Tommy. Best friends since first grade, Jenny helped Tommy come out to his family."
Okay, maybe blondie wasn't so bad after all. Although, she still needed to lose the pigtails.
Ted waved toward another man and woman. They were dressed in identical Sharon Needles shirts. At least they appeared to be actual twins, so the matching outfits made more sense in their case. They even had the same raven hair and sharp blue eyes. The only difference was the female's hair was a bit longer, reaching her shoulders. "Meet Lana and Craig. Although they were born brothers, Lana always knew that she was really female. Craig helped his sister through her transition and supported her in every way."
Reed applauded hard for them. Since his own family was less than supportive, he found himself respecting Craig.
Next up were the young Republicans. "Welcome Aiden and Cliff, stockbrokers who are members of the Go Proud organization."
"Shocker!" Reed drawled sarcastically.
That earned him glares from the Go Proud Ken dolls and Ted.
Ted then waved at the girl who'd dared to interrupt him earlier. "Say hello to Becky and Jo, professional roller derby players who have been dating for a year."
Becky glared at Ted, obviously still stinging from her earlier dressing down.
Then Reed found himself the center of attention as every person in the field turned to look at him. A cold sweat broke out over his body as his mouth grew dry. Giving a nervous wave, he said, "I'm Reed. Sad, lonely Reed. The guy that nobody wants to play with. The one who's always picked last for dodge ball teams."
"Do you ever let up with the smartass remarks?" Cliff asked with a flip of his blond bangs.
Reed shrugged. "No, I'm afraid they're pretty much part of the package as far as I'm concerned. I even won a trophy for my gift of gab."
"You won it for a spelling bee and it was only second place," a familiar voice called.
For the first time in ages, Reed found himself speechless. A cold pit formed in his gut and he even forgot how to breathe for a few moments. All the while, his mind screamed, No! No! No! Is this some kind of sick joke!
But it wasn't a joke. It was real and it was happening to his lame ass. Reed looked up to confirm that his worst nightmare was actually standing a few feet in front of him, even though he already knew that it was true.
Ted was so dead!
There in all his glory stood Baxter. The only man that Reed ever loved and the only man who'd ever broken his heart.