Home > Bedroom Games (Games #4)

Bedroom Games (Games #4)
Author: Jessica Clare

CHAPTER ONE

“This time around, things are going to be different.”

– Brodie Short, Pre-Game Interview, House Guests


As soon as I stepped into the baggage claim at the airport, I saw a bored-looking man holding a name placard with CANDICE THORNTON scrawled across it.

That was clearly my ride, and he couldn’t have looked less thrilled about the fact.

I swung by the baggage carousel and grabbed my suitcase, and then approached him. “Hi. Are you with the network?”

His attention focused on me. “You Candice?”

“I’m Kandis. You spelled my name wrong, but it’s pronounced the same.” I gave him an apologetic smile.

To my surprise, he rolled his eyes at me. “Get over yourself. It’s you, right?”

“Uh, yeah.” What a dick.

“Then come on. We’re on a tight schedule.” He tucked the name placard under his arm and texted something with one fast-moving thumb as he headed out of the airport. He didn’t even look to see if I was following him.

I glanced behind me at the crowded airport, but followed him out. “Can I see some ID that you’re with the network? I don’t want to follow a strange man to his car, you know.”

He sighed and held out a badge for me to read. JTV NETWORKS. JIMMY NELSON, ASSISTANT, HOUSE GUESTS. “Can we go now? I need to have you out of the airport in the next five minutes. The other contestants are scheduled to land thirty minutes apart and your plane was late, so if we don’t get out of here, you’re going to be disqualified.”

“Oh.” I shouldered my bag hurriedly. “No, I want to be on the show. Let’s go.” And I sprinted ahead of him.

He took my bag as we got into the plain black sedan waiting at the curb. There was a driver—how fancy! Jimmy got into the front seat, which left me in the back by myself. I slid in, shut the door, and we were off.

After a moment, Jimmy stopped texting and glanced at me in the back seat. “So. Mactor?”

I frowned. “Excuse me?”

“You a mactor?”

“I…don’t know what that is.”

“We get three kinds of people on these shows. Superfans, Mactors, and broke-ass bitches. Superfans are the people that live and breathe the game and quote you trivia non-stop. The fact that you’re not asking me if I’ve met Jordache from last year tells me that you’re not a Superfan. So that either leaves you as a Mactor or a broke-ass bitch who needs the money so bad you’re willing to go on TV and make a fool of yourself.” He glanced over the seat at me and his gaze rested on my breasts.

I crossed my arms over my chest, irritated at his stare. I’d told myself that I was going to be ultra-flirty and bubbly to get ahead in this game, but I was clearly starting off on the wrong foot. It was a good thing that Jimmy was just an assistant. “And a mactor is…”

“Model-slash-actor. We get a lot of those. You know, whoring it out for your fifteen minutes and all.”

“I’m a Zumba instructor,” I told him.

Jimmy looked at the driver and nodded as if he’d answered his own question. “Mactor.”

Definitely a good thing that Jimmy was just an assistant. If he was going to be one of the houseguests on the show, I’d have to kill him for being such a tool.

I stared out the window as we drove. The Charlotte airport hadn’t been what I’d expected. Heck, I was surprised we were flying into Charlotte in the first place, but that was the ticket that they’d sent me. I’d thought the previous editions of the show were filmed in Los Angeles. “So how come we’re in North Carolina?” I asked, unable to help my curiosity.

“It’s a gimmick,” Jimmy said. “This season’s on location. Producers are seeing if a different locale helps the ratings slump.”

“Oh.” I didn’t know that ratings were in a slump. House Guests came on every summer like clockwork. Everyone watched it. I wanted to ask Jimmy more, but he’d gone back to paying attention to his phone, and things were a lot more peaceful with his silence.

So I stared out the window and watched the trees roll past the highway.

 

 

~~ * ~~

 

 

“We’re here,” Jimmy said, jolting me awake.

I straightened, brushing a hand across my mouth to check for drool. I’d been leaning against the window of the car as it drove endlessly down the highway, and I must have fallen asleep. “Thanks,” I murmured, stifling my yawn and grabbing my bag as Jimmy got out of the car and opened my door.

“Follow me, Candy.”

“Kandis,” I corrected. “It’s spelled K A N D I S.”

“Whatever,” Jimmy said. “Just come on.”

I followed him out of the car, and then my steps slowed as I took in my surroundings.

We’d pulled onto a freshly-poured blacktop parking lot in the middle of rolling green acreage. Tall trees shaded us from the road, and around the parking lot, a row of port-a-potties stood off to one side. On the other side were rows of white tents that had been erected. People were everywhere, most with headsets and either clipboards or iPads, hustling between one tent and another. In the distance, I could see stadium seating and a soundstage. That must have been where the exiting people would be interviewed.

At the top of a green, grassy hill and at the center of all this chaos was a house. It was a ghastly monstrosity, the exterior weathered and gray, as if it were a hundred years old and completely and utterly abandoned. That couldn’t be the case, though, since we’d be filming House Guests here. It had to be for show.

Didn’t it?

“Is that the house?” I asked Jimmy, staring at it with horror.

“Uh huh,” he said, bored.

“It’s not a very…sexy location.” Wasn’t House Guests all about people spending the summer flirting and competing while lounging around the pool in bikinis? This didn’t look like the right place.

“Like I said, we have a gimmick this summer.”

What is the gimmick? I wondered. Goth mania? I stared at the rotted-looking Victorian. It was huge. I counted three floors with an octagonal room in one corner of the house that served as a turret of kinds. Each of the windows was shuttered tight. There was a large porch on the second floor veranda, but it was covered in cameras and equipment. It clearly wasn’t for living. In fact, other than the facade of the house, the rest of it was covered in wiring. I knew that the house would be full of cameras. That was part of the show.

Jimmy headed to a table and picked up a clipboard as I trailed behind him, wary. “Just to give you a quick run-down, you’re entering the house tonight. First, we’ve got to check your luggage, make sure you’re not hiding any contraband.”

“Contraband?”

“Cell phones, food, drug paraphernalia,” he said in a bored tone. At some point, he’d gotten some gum and was chewing it loudly. “Contraband. Once we’ve established that you’re clean, you’re gonna go in for your physical.” He pointed at one of the tents further down the sprawling lawn. “Once the docs say you’re okay, we send you through the pre-show interviews. Then, when you’ve gone through everything, we put you in an isolation booth. You’ll come out of isolation when you enter the house. Until then, you’re my charge.” He held out a wide-brimmed straw hat and a bandana that had the House Guests logo written across it. “And you have to wear this bandana unless I tell you it’s safe to take it off.”

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