Home > Body Games (Games #5)(4)

Body Games (Games #5)(4)
Author: Jessica Clare

I knocked on the door before opening it, and stepped out onto a tiny patio. More potted plants had been set up around a folding director’s chair, and in the distance, the blue waters of the ocean tumbled onto the sand in a rhythmic pattern. The two men adjusting their camera tripods gestured for me to sit in the seat of honor. I sat, clasped my hands on my knee, and waited.

“All right,” said the first man. “You know how this goes. Give us some good sound bites and we’ll get you out of here faster.”

“Got it.”

He tilted his camera and pointed at the lens. “Remember to talk to this, not me. And speak clearly,” he said as the other man came up to me and began to tie a microphone onto the neck of my t-shirt. “Give us a brief intro about you. Job, age, et-cetera.”

I smiled at the camera. “I’m Annabelle Tucker, I’m twenty-two, and I’m going to college at Texas A&M. Well, I was. Right now, I’m just waiting tables and taking a bit of a break.” My smile turned awkward. My break was so I could get over my issues from the last season of Endurance Island, and here I was again. Was I stupid? I must be. “I was previously on Endurance Island, season four.”

“What’s your strategy this time around?” He sounded completely bored, as if my strategy were the last thing he wanted to hear about at the moment.

“Well.” I tilted my head, wondering how much I wanted to lay out on the table. Then, I decided that I might as well put it all out there. Anyone that watched the show regularly would remember me (unfortunately) so there was no point in hiding facts. “Last season, I was extremely gullible and fell for a guy. I thought we had a real thing, but I didn’t realize until after I watched the show that he was using me. So I figure this time, I’m going in with a new, five point strategy.”

“And what are those five points?”

I held up my hand and ticked off the first finger. “Be less gullible. This time around, I’m not trusting anything that anyone says. If they tell me something, I’m going to assume there’s an angle.” I ticked off the next finger. “Play hard. Last time, I played hard, too, but this time, I’m going to give it a hundred and twenty percent.” I ticked off another finger. “Play for me. Last time, I played so me and my guy —” I grimaced at the thought and continued, “- could get ahead. This time, it’s just me.” Another finger. “Fight dirty. No one else plays fair, so why should I? Nothing’s off the table. Except for number five.” I wiggled my spread hand at the camera. “Number five - absolutely, positively no romance this time.”



Chapter Two

“How will I play this game differently than the last one? Well, for starters, I don’t want to be the shoulder that the hot girl cries on. I’m tired of second place — in everything.” — Jendan Abercrombie, Pre-Game Interviews, Endurance Island: Power Players

"Okay, everyone, take off your masks," called a production assistant. "As a reminder, no one is to talk until you get to your assigned base camps. Please wait for cues and follow all instructions. Thank you."

I pulled the mask off my face and rubbed my cheeks again, blinking at the bright sunlight. I'd been wearing the damn thing for two hours and was glad it was finally off. My eyes slowly adjusted to the light and I peered at the faces around me.

I sat on a bench in a tiny wooden boat crammed with fifteen other people - eight men and seven other women - and the pale shores of the island were coming into view. There was no cover for the boat, and it was hot under the blistering sun. Underneath my feet, a bit of water puddled around my water-shoes and the life-jacket around my neck itched. I'd dressed sensibly for the outing - a t-shirt and shorts - but I'd expected a casting change of clothing before being shuffled onto a ship with the rest of the contestants. No such luck. I was just grateful I hadn't worn high heels or something dressier in an attempt to look pretty for the other contestants. That was one bonus of being a returning contestant with zero romance on your mind, I supposed. You just didn't give a shit what you looked like.

Even though I knew I should be studying the other contestants to size them up, I couldn't help but sneak a peek at the island in the distance. The closest one was dotted with green trees, the sandy beach encircling the shore, and I could hear waves gently lapping. It looked like paradise. The sight of it bolstered me. I'd been having second thoughts about signing on for the game ever since I'd flown out here, but seeing that beach made me think things wouldn't be so bad. If I got voted out first, I'd have a two-month island vacation, right? There were worse things than that.

And fifty grand, I reminded myself, thinking of the contract I'd signed with glee. Even if I was voted out first, I'd still get that fifty grand. That helped things a lot.

As I rubbed my eyes and adjusted to the sunlight, a shoe nudged mine from across the seats. I blinked and looked over in the boat…and stifled a groan. I recognized that killer tan, the messy black curls, and rakish smile. Kip.

He winked at me and mouthed a greeting. "Hey, sweet thing."

I rolled my eyes. Thank God I wasn't going to be on his team. I'd had enough of that shithead last time. If he thought we were going to team up this time, he was sorely mistaken. I ignored his attempts to reconnect and gazed at the others in the gently rocking boat.

Most of them looked familiar in that "I've seen you somewhere" sort of vibe, but I couldn't picture where. That was what I got for not keeping up with current reality TV, I supposed. Last season had soured me on future shows. There was a tall, dark haired guy seated next to me and I glanced over at him reflexively.

He smiled.

I smiled back, and then flinched. Oh shit. Was that going to be read by the cameras as flirting the moment we were heading toward the island? I panicked, my gaze skittering back to the cameraman filming at the prow of the boat. Sure enough, he'd panned in my direction. Hell. Was I going to have to avoid every single guy on the island in order to ensure that I wasn't painted as the Island Whore again?

I supposed I could go for an all-girl alliance, maybe. I'd need allies. That was rule one of Endurance Island: team up and take out the competition. At least until you got to the end. Then it was every man - or woman - for themselves.

Still, I was skittish after my heinous editing from last time. I'd have to play it careful. I raised a hand to my eyes to shield them from the sun and skimmed the rest of the group, carefully keeping my gaze off of Hunky McHunkerton.

There were three people from my season that I could tell. Other than Kip and myself, I recognized Leslie and Emilio further down on the boat. They were seated next to each other, and to me, that was a bad sign. Leslie and Emilio had started out on the same team last time and had more or less bullied the others and ran the show. They'd been picked off at the merge, but to see them together again meant that they were probably going to try and pull the same sort of tactic. It was bad news for anyone against them.

But it was good news for me. I could always team up with them, I supposed. Emilio was gay and Leslie already had a husband, so it wasn't like they'd be seen as potential romances for me. I filed that in the back of my mind. Near them, a guy and a girl sat, holding hands, their fingers interlocked. The girl had a short, Miley Cyrus-esque buzz cut for her brown hair, and the blond guy she was holding hands with seemed super confident. They looked familiar, too, but the way they were gazing avidly at the island, I guessed they were from a different reality TV show. Next to the guy at my side, there was a gorgeous redhead that I did recognize, but from gossip magazines. Sunnie someone or other, a woman who was famous simply for being famous. There was one of those on every TV channel lately, but I remembered Sunnie had been on a season of House Guests recently. That meant that the others seated near her were probably from the same show, if they'd pulled four from my season. I wondered at the others. Were they from similar shows or something else? There were two athletic girls dressed in matching jogging suits that I probably should have recognized.

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