Home > Body Games (Games #5)

Body Games (Games #5)
Author: Jessica Clare

Chapter One

“I was excited to get the chance to play Endurance Island. Been sitting at home, recovering and doing leg exercises. I actually was so pumped that I dropped my damn phone. Screen shattered a million ways. I sort of missed everything after the whole ‘Want to play again’ question. Do I want to play? Hell yeah I do. I keep thinking of everything I did wrong in House Guests. I should have won. I played a good game and had no enemies. Unfortunately, I went up against someone who was as charismatic as he was underhanded, and he won. Moral of the story? The good guy never wins.” — Jendan Abercrombie, Pre-Game Interview, Endurance Island: Power Players

“Aren’t you that girl from Endurance Island?”

I mentally cringed as I put the customer’s water glass down on the table, but I kept my smile pinned to my face. No smile, no tips, and waitresses worked for tips.

“What’s your name again?” The eagerly smiling woman seated on my left didn’t mean any harm, but I hated every time I got that question.

“Annabelle. Annabelle Tucker. Season four.” I placed paper-wrapped straws on the table. “Nice to meet you guys. Y’all ready to order?”

“Oh my God,” said her lunch date. “That’s right! You’re the—” He cut off, snapping his jaw shut before he could say the words, and then corrected himself. “You’re the girl that fell in love on the island.”

“That was me.” It was getting harder and harder to keep the smile on my face. “Should I give you a few more minutes to look over the menu?” And give me a chance to escape?

“Wow, you look different,” the woman said.

I knew what that meant. You sure did look skinnier/tanner/better on the island. I heard it all the time. It wasn’t meant insultingly, I supposed. People just got used to seeing you hollow-cheeked and burned bronze by the sun. “Do I? Thank you.”

“How come you’re waiting tables? Don’t they pay you guys to be on TV?” The man gave me an interested look that spent more time on my breasts than my face. Again, something I’d had to get used to, considering all of TV-watching America had seen me running around in a skimpy yellow bikini for two months.

“You don’t get the big money if you lose,” I said, giving them my best sweet Southern drawl. “And I lost. Why don’t y’all take a moment more to look at the menu? I’ll just come back when you’re ready.” I beamed at them and hurried away.

As I turned my back, I nearly ran into another server in my haste to escape. We paused, smiling awkwardly at each other, and as we did, I overheard a snatch of the conversation at the table I’d just left.

“She’s the slutty one,” the man hissed at his girlfriend. “Remember, from last season? The one that kept making out with the guy?”

“I know!” the woman said excitedly.

Oh ugh. I hurried away, dashing off to hide in the kitchens of the bustling restaurant for a few minutes.

After a year, I didn’t know why the comments still bothered me. I’d seen every episode of Endurance Island as it aired, despite the fact that I’d experienced most of it first-hand. I knew going in to my reality TV experience that it wasn’t necessarily ‘reality’ and that things would be edited to make a better story. I’d been warned about that by the producers and staff, and to not take anything personally.

Of course, it was hard not to take things personally when you were edited as the Idiot Slut.

I fully acknowledged that I hadn’t been the smartest player on the island. When I got out there, I was a fresh-faced college student who’d never been far from Alabama. Spending time on an exotic Caribbean island sounded like a great way to spend the summer, so when the casting department picked my application out of a pile, I was thrilled.

And as soon as I got out to the island, I met Kip.

Oh, Kip.

He had rakish black curls that he wore long and brushing his neck, like some Game of Thrones enthusiast. He was tall, tanned, and beautiful. And he was a big, fat, lying sack of crap.

I didn’t know that at first. So when we showed up on the same team and he began to flirt with me, I was instantly smitten. We teased and flirted for the first few days, and then it grew more serious as time passed. By the time the tribes merged, we were spending every waking moment kissing and cuddling.

All of my private confessionals were about how happy I was to meet Kip, and how we were a team, and how I was in love.

All of Kip’s confessionals - which I saw for the first time on television, along with the viewing audiences - were about how incredibly gullible and stupid I was. How he was playing me for my jury vote, and how all he had to do was kiss me and I’d do whatever he said.

Everyone else had seen it long before I did. I’d been voted off with five members left, because at that point, I was too likable for Kip to take with him to the end. I’d been confused and miserable that I’d been booted, and my fellow jury members had tried to gently break it to me that Kip was using me. I’d denied it, and when Kip was at the finale with Bailey, an intelligent, charming med student, I’d steadfastly voted for Kip and lobbied for the others to do the same.

After the votes were cast, Kip and I reunited. We had one night of sex in the lodge, and Kip promised to call me the next day. I went home, starry-eyed and in love, and not even upset that I didn’t win.

But Kip never called. I tried calling him, and got nothing but his voicemail. It hurt at first, but I chalked it up to an island fling and moved on.

At least, I moved on until Endurance Island: The Caribbean started playing on TV.

Then, I watched with dawning horror each week as I was humiliated and publicly destroyed.

Kip had thought I was an easy piece of ass. Every glance toward the cameras was him rolling his eyes at me, and I’d been edited to seem like a stupid bimbo, blinded by hormones. The only times I showed up on TV, I was made to sound like an idiot, and when I wasn’t, I was busy sucking face with Kip. Every make-out session was then punctuated by a sound-bite or two of how Kip was using me to get further in the game.

It was awful. Really awful. The worst part of it was that I’d had no idea the entire time. I’d thought I was falling in love.

Guess that made me pretty gullible.

By the time the Endurance Island cast was called to New York City for the big finale and reunion, I was getting recognized on the streets as ‘that dumb slut’ from Endurance Island. Editing had made it look like I’d slept with Kip constantly, when I’d only slept with him once - at the loser lodge - and I regretted that bitterly. The other contestants had given me sympathetic looks and silent support during the finale. They knew I wasn’t the horndog TV had made me out to be, but it didn’t matter.

A dumb bimbo slut falling for Kip’s stories made good TV.

I wasn’t surprised to see that I was the only one that had voted for Kip. Bailey won by a landslide. I didn’t mind; I was relieved that the dick hadn’t gotten the prize money, and when Kip tried to hug me at the reunion show, I’d avoided him. I left New York City on the earliest flight possible and returned to college. Well, for about a week. After that, I couldn’t stand the comments and leers from the guys on campus, so I dropped out for a semester or two. Just until things died down.

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