Chapter 1 – Jesse Flynn
"Goodeveningladiesandgentlemenboysandgirls!" Jesse Flynn boomed out in his mic as he walked on the Royal Report stage.
The big projector was making his black sequin suit shine and reflect millions of tiny lights all over the room. The lighting engineer hated those suits, and he never missed an opportunity to say so.
"My name is Jesse Flynn and I am here tonight with you to spend the greatest evening with our favorite royal family!" He grinned.
The empty audience room didn't react. On Fridays, the room was empty, for security reasons, with the royal family and all. And it wasn't live, filmed in the morning so all the bad parts could be edited away. The other days, it wasn't him presenting the Daily People's Vlog and more, and the room was full. He missed the live cheers and reaction of the crowd. But he had been promoted to host the Royal Report, and he couldn't deny that it was quite the jump. Not many people had access to the royal family on a weekly basis, except the staff and the council people.
"Cut!" the stage director, Bill Mason, called out from behind the screens. "You've got to look into that camera, Jesse, not at the empty seats," he said pointing at the central camera.
"I know, I know. Sorry." Jesse sighed and went back to the side, off-camera. He rolled his shoulders.
"And again. Action!" Bill called out. The Report jingle started and Jesse came back on stage, his grin bigger than ever. "Goodeveningladiesandgentlemenboysandgirls! My name is Jesse Flynn and I am here tonight with you to spend the greatest evening with our favorite royal family!" The introduction was always the same, and he knew people liked to say it at the same time as him. At least the kids liked to do that.
"I've been talking this afternoon with the Her Royal Majesty the Queen herself," he continued – even though the conversation had taken place a couple of days before but no one needed to know that –, "and she told me something incredible is going to happen. Ladiesandgentlemenboysandgirls, you're gonna want to listen carefully tonight. Well, especially the ladies out there," he said, winking at the camera one of the tech guys was pointing at him.
Jesse straightened his golden bowtie. He took out the script from his pocket. They had filmed everything but the essential part: now was the time to interview the royals. And to be honest, that was his favorite part. People loved to get new glimpses into the royal family's lives, and he liked that he was the one to give it to them. He always had the information first hand, and he loved that privilege.
Jesse ran his hand in his dark brown curls and cleared this throat. The royals were not there yet. "Uhm, does anyone know when they're coming? They're late."
"Royals are never late," the Queen said, walking into the studio. "They always arrive precisely on time." She flashed him a smile. "Good morning Mr. Finley."
Jesse Flynn winced inside when he heard his real name. For some reason, the Queen never had gotten to call him by his stage name – name by which the entire nation knew him. "Good morning, Your Majesty," he said, bowing from the waist. Jesse had always been in awe of that woman when he was seeing her from afar, from his couch, from behind his own camera when he was a YouTuber – damn, that was a long time ago. But now the woman terrified him in a spectacular way.
She barely acknowledged his bow and walked right past him to sit on her usual seat. She usually liked to get as quickly as possible to the point, and get the Royal Report done and over with.
"Hello Jesse," the Prince Consort said, holding out his hand.
Jesse returned the smile and shook Prince Tobias' hand. "Good morning, sir."
Right behind followed the three Princes, and Jesse braced himself for the avalanche that HRH Prince Nathan Schreave was. He couldn't always keep up with the man and what he did, but he liked his energy.
"Hey, my maaaan!" Prince Nathan boomed out into the studio, seeing Jesse. He practically ran up to him, wrapped an arm around his shoulders and rubbed his hair with his knuckles. "Long time no see, dude!"
Jesse tried to disentangle himself from the deadly grip – damn he would have to re-do his hair – and Nathan just laughed and walked away.
"Sorry about my very obnoxious brother," Prince Valerian said, walking by him. "He's just like that." Valerian shrugged and offered Jesse a small apologetic smile.
"Yeah, I know," Jesse said, finger-combing his hair. "How do I look?"
Valerian laughed. "You look fine, Flynn." He ran his hand in his silver-white hair and smirked. "How do I look?"
Jesse chuckled at the young prince and straightened his tie. "There, perfect."
Valerian thanked him and joined his family. Prince Silas, the Heir and eldest brother, had walked by discreetly when Jesse was rattled by Nathan. Great. He didn't even get to say hi.
"All right," Jess said, walking over to the Royal Family with his script in his hand. "Today we're going to announce your Selection and–"
"Our what?" Silas asked, looking up. This was the first time he had spoken up without being spoken to first in the three years since Jesse was there.
Jesse panicked. Hadn't the Queen talked to them about that? She had told him two days ago.
"Uhm…" Jesse was suddenly very warm and shot a glance to the Queen.
"Yes," Queen Helena said. "Tonight, the whole nation will know about your Selection." She looked at her nails.
"You didn't tell them?" her husband whispered. "I thought we talked about this."
"Well, I'm telling them now." She looked at Jesse. "Carry on, now, Mr. Finley. We don't have all day."
"Of-of course, Your Majesty." He nodded once in a short bow and took a deep breath. The show must go on, right? "So, as I was saying, tonight we're going to announce your Selection, and Prince Silas is going to make the announcement–" Jesse paused, seeing the poor prince paling by the second.
"Nah, I'll do it," Nathan suggested, saving his brother. "I mean, who's in a better position than me to invite ladies at the Palace?" He grinned and looked at his mother. "Let me do it." He paused and offered her his best smile. "Please?"
Jesse fought the urge to roll his eyes. Of course, Nathan was the best for the job. He had already slept with half the women of Illéa. Jesse kept his hands on the paper and didn't pinch his nose. This was going to be more complicated than planned.
"He has a point," Prince Valerian said. "I mean, if you actually want girls signing up for this, you need to sell your product. Nate's the best salesman we have." He looked at Silas. "No offense…"
"None taken," Silas replied, and Jesse knew he was of the same opinion of his little brother.
"Mom, please?" Nathan said again.
The Queen thought about it for a moment. She knew her sons were right, and that Nathan would be the best to announce the news. "Fine. But remember this is not only for you. The Selection is also for your brothers."
"Yesss," Nathan hissed, pumping a fist in front of him. "Sweet, hot girls, here I come."
Jesse tried not to laugh. He went over the rest of the script with them, and he was actually glad that Prince Nathan would be announcing the Selection. He had the perfect energy and mindset for it. Silas would have just stammered through it and pushed up his glasses thirteen times. And Valerian? Well, he was just a baby. Okay, he was twenty-one years old, but he was still a baby to everyone.
"Okay, let's do this, then," Jesse said. "There's the script, and there's what we do of it. Just try not to stray too far away from it. Please."
It all went relatively well. Nathan didn't stray too far from the script, and the others just stayed in the background the whole time. In the end, the Prince Consort was invited forward to share a few words to the to-be-selected, since he had been one too, once upon a time, and then the Queen gave her weekly speech and update – written by Silas himself, as always. Jesse always wondered how he could write such beautiful texts but couldn't, for the life of him, read them out loud.
When the filming was over, it was the editing team's job to make it all work and look pristine perfect. There was no way they were letting anything less than perfect slip by, and Jesse would have the last word over it.
"Mr. Finley?" the Queen called before they were all gone. "Meet me in my office in fifteen minutes," she said. "And don't be late. I have other things to do."
"Yes, ma'am," Jesse said. He almost saluted her but remembered just at the last minute to bow his head instead. The Queen turned on her heels and they click clacked on the marble floor.
"Good luck," Valerian said. "Pretty sure you're gonna need it." He patted Jesse's shoulder sympathetically and walked away. "Oh," he added, stopping. "And try to be there five minutes early."
Jesse followed Valerian's advice and was standing in front of the Queen's door exactly five minutes early. Three minutes before the due time, a staff member opened the door and let Jesse in.
"Mr. Finley," the Queen said from behind her big mahogany desk. Her husband was hovering behind her. "We have a favor to ask of you. Well," she said, tilting her head, making her brown curls bounce a little, "more of a request." She straightened in her chair, and Jesse straightened his posture as well, bracing himself for whatever she was going to throw at him. He would catch it.
"Tobias and I would like you to exclusively cover the Selection from the inside." She paused, letting that sink in. In his heart, Jesse was screaming and dancing and making a fool of himself. On the outside, he let slip a smile and nodded. Once. "You are going to choose your own team – cameraman, photographer, and whatnot – and report to the nation what happened during the week on every Friday."
"If I may?" Jesse asked, raising his hand a little. Queen Helena nodded. "There will be no Royal Reports, anymore?"
"No, there will still be the Royal Report, and you will continue to do as you have always done; only, you will have thirty-five additional people on the stage to interview." She paused, linking her fingers together. "What we want is a recap of the week before the Royal Report. And," she continued, "we want you to choose one exclusive magazine to work with."
Jesse's heart was about to burst. He couldn't have asked for a better job than this.
"You should know that we have decided to finally have the Selection for our sons because nothing is happening in his country. People are bored, and they want something to root for and look forward to." She paused. "And also, Silas really needs to come out of his shell, Nathan needs to settle down and stop sleeping around, and Val, well," she smiled fondly at her youngest son. "I guess it's never too early to start thinking about one's future. Don't you think, Mr. Finley?"
"Yes, Ma'am." So all three boys will have their picks in the same pool of girls. Talk about awkward situations, Jesse thought.
"Excellent. That will be all, thank you," she said, waving him away.
"Thank you, for your trust, Your Majesty," he said bowing from the waist. He walked away and the staff closed the door on him. In the hall, Jesse danced a quick, silent victory dance. Then he looked around – no one had seen him – and straightened his bowtie.
The next few months would be the best of his life, he was sure of it.
Ooof. Whelp. There it is.
I missed writing a completely normal Selection full of fluff, and so here you go. This is actually a side project from my original WIP, so please don't expect a regular update schedule, or anything remotely complicated (as in far-fetched worldbuilding like twiw or gmss or any fancy website) or angsty. The chapters will be on the short side (2-3k max).
So, if you're here for the fluff, the fun, and the familiar, then hop on the ride with me!
This is a female SYOC story, and all the information you need (rules, main cast, form, reservations) are on my profile. You can contact me either through Discord (link of our chat on my profile) or through fanfiction.
See you soon! and I hope you'll board the ride with me!