Read Playing Games Online

Authors: Jill Myles

Tags: #romantic comedy, #guitarist, #reality tv, #travel abroad, #jill myles, #rock star hero, #rock hero

Playing Games

BOOK: Playing Games
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Playing Games

By

Jill Myles writing as Jessica Clare

Copyright © 2013 by Jill Myles

Smashwords Edition

All rights reserved. No part of this book may
be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in

any manner whatsoever without written
permission from the author.

CHAPTER ONE

 

"
Why
do I want to be on the show? Because the label told me to be here?
It’s not like I begged them to slap my face on TV. I’d rather be
sitting in the studio.
" — Liam Brogan, lead guitarist for
Finding Threnody
, Pre-Game Interview Footage

 

~~ * * * ~~

 

"Stand in front of the cameras, sweetheart,
and tell us your name." The assistant's voice rang out in the
casting booth.

Nervously, I stepped forward into the bright
lights, clutching the covered pan in my hands. I resisted the urge
to shield my eyes from the light that was glaring right into my
face and settled for only squinting a bit. "Hi there. My name's
Katy Short."

“Tell us how old you are, Katy, and what you
do.” The voice behind the lights sounded utterly bored.

"I'm twenty-three and I recently received a
degree from culinary arts school. I started a business. A cupcake
business."

"Cute. And why do you want to be on
Endurance Island
?"

"Funny story,” I said with a grin, trying to
make myself seem as cutely approachable as possible – not something
I’m good at, since my nickname is usually ‘Cranky Katy.’ “I'm
actually not here for myself. I'm here because my brother, Brodie,
really
really
wants to be on
Endurance Island
. And
I'm here to show him some support. We figured he’d have a better
chance if we both auditioned on his behalf." I gave the cameras my
best cheerful smile and uncovered the enormous pan I held. “And so
I brought a few presents so you wouldn’t forget us, courtesy of
Katy’s Short Cakes.”

At the unveiling of my pan, there were a few
oohs and ahhs from the crew, which pleased me. It was early and
they were probably hungry, so I'd banked on bringing some of my
infamous 'Short Cakes.' I'd stayed up late into the night crafting
them so they'd be fresh and delicious, and I had to admit that they
looked delectable. Delicate yellow icing was piped atop perfect
Dutch chocolate cupcakes in an ice-cream swirl design, and each one
was drizzled with a gleaming chocolate ganache and topped with a
cherry. The cupcakes in the center were missing the cherry, and I'd
crafted marzipan letters, spelling out Brodie's name using the same
font that
Endurance Island
used for their logo.

It was all part of our plan to get my brother
on
Endurance Island
. He talked about nothing else, and I
figured if my cakes could help him, it was worth spending a
Saturday morning down here at the casting call. Brodie had dressed
in yellow and dark brown to match the cakes, and I'd worn a
matching outfit - brown leggings under an oversized yellow t-shirt
that read 'Pick Brodie.' My blonde pigtails were decorated with
cherries. We were totally ready to sell Brodie to the casting
directors.

I held out the pan. "I brought this since I
figured you guys might be hungry."

Someone in the crew immediately stepped
forward and grabbed the pan, and a half-dozen hands reached into
it, plucking out cupcakes. I grinned as a few exclamations of
delight hit my ears, and a woman with a clipboard stepped forward,
cupcake in hand. She licked a bit of frosting from her fingers,
then set the cupcake down and picked up her pen.

"These are amazing. What did you say your
name was?"

"Katy Short," I repeated cheerfully. "And I'm
here for my brother, Brodie—"

"What do you do for a living, Katy?"

I hid my frown. Jeez. Did they have the
attention span of gnats or what? I eyed the cupcake she'd set down,
the marzipan "B" listing to the side. Well, hopefully when they did
callbacks, they wouldn't be looking for a 'Rodie' instead of a
Brodie. "I’m an accountant.”

Blank stares.

Yeah. They really hadn’t been paying
attention. Figured. “I’m kidding,” I told them. “I run an internet
business called Katy's Short Cakes. I create custom cupcakes and
ship them all over the country." I automatically pulled out a
business card and offered it to the closest person.

The woman plucked it from my hand and glanced
at it, then added it to her clipboard. "You're adorable, Katy. And
sassy. We like that. So why don't you tell us about yourself?"

"Well," I drawled. "I'm here with my brother,
Brodie. I’m pretty sure he’s twice as sassy as me."

As if realizing for the first time that I'd
mentioned him, the woman looked up from the notes on her clipboard.
"There's a brother?" A knowing gleam caught in her eye and she
reached over and took a bite of cupcake. She then snapped her
fingers and circled her hand in the air. "Someone go find the
brother."

"There's a brother," I agreed. "You're eating
his 'B'. I'm here for him."

"You don't want to be on TV, Katy?"

I shrugged. "I'm more interested in launching
my business. It sounds like it'd be fun enough, though." A sinking
feeling began to form in the pit of my stomach. If I got cast and
Brodie didn't, he'd kill me.

"How athletic are you?"

"Um." I thought for a moment. "I can carry
three dozen cupcakes without breaking a sweat?"

There were titters around the cupcake
box.

The casting director smiled, icing in her
teeth. I automatically licked my own, hoping she'd pick up the
hint. "Do you have a passport, Katy?"

I thought for a moment, then nodded. "I do.
Brodie does, too."

"That's perfect," the woman said, marking
something down on her clipboard. She glanced up again and yelled.
"Did someone find the brother yet?"

A long, uncomfortable moment passed and I
fidgeted on the stool. No one was asking more questions, but the
audition tape was still rolling. Maybe this was a good sign. The
fact that they were hunting down Brodie meant that they liked him,
right?

Sure enough, my brother appeared a few
minutes later, his blond faux-hawk noticeable next to the bald
assistant that pushed him forward to stand next to me. Brodie
looked excited, and I quietly crossed my fingers.

The assistant maneuvered Brodie to stand next
to me.

He immediately gave me a noogie, ripping at
my blonde hair with his knuckles.

I screeched and wriggled out of his arms.
“You jerk!”

“Katy,” Brodie said in a warning tone, the
smile still on his face. “I’m just playing around.”

“Then you don’t mind if I kick you in the
nuts when I play around?” I grumped, touching my hair. Noogies were
fine and dandy – well, at least less obnoxious – when we were at
home but here? In front of cameras? I was going to kill him.

Luckily, everyone laughed. “You guys are
cute,” the clipboard-carrier said.

Brodie automatically threw an arm around my
shoulders, grinning a mega-watt smile for the cameras and dragging
me back against him. "I see you all met my little sis, Katy?"

"Matching outfits," someone whispered. "They
look perfect. Casting still needs a brother and sister duo,
remember?"

"I know," the woman with the clipboard said
smugly. Then louder, "So Brodie, you're the older brother?"

"Yes, ma'am," he said in a cheerful voice.
"Katy came with me this morning to show support. She knows how
badly I want to be on
Endurance Island
. We’re close. Very
close."

I snorted.

While Brodie and I were the typical bickering
siblings, it was true about
Endurance Island
. As soon as
we'd heard casting was coming to town, Brodie hadn't been able to
shut up about it. This was his chance, he'd told me over and over
again. Lots of reality TV stars used the show to get their foot in
the door in Hollywood, and if this led him to a career in modeling
or TV, he was all for it. I had my own doubts, since most of the
people in reality TV shows weren't exactly killing it in
show-business, but Brodie wouldn't be dissuaded.

"And you guys are local?"

"Yes, ma'am. We're from Broken Arrow,
Oklahoma."

"Ever travel much?"

Brodie glanced down at me. "We had a family
trip to Cancun once. Katy got so sunburned she looked like a
tomato."

"He's lying," I chimed in, poking him in the
gut. "I wasn’t that red. And he’s also neglecting to tell you about
how he spent a week in London last summer, but I guess that doesn’t
count as ‘travel’ since he never made it out of the pubs."

There were a few laughs, and Brodie's arm
tightened around my shoulders to an almost painful degree.
Automatically, I reached over and pinched his side, like I always
did when he tried to be the bossy big brother.

"Katy doesn't really want to be on
Endurance Island
," he blurted. "She's just here for me."

I pinched him again, wishing he would shut
up. Where was my brother's suaveness now that the cameras were
rolling? He was coming across like a tool.

"We're sorry," Clipboard Woman said. "But
we've already got a couple of blond Southerners for
Endurance
Island
. Casting's full."

Disappointment swept through me. Poor Brodie.
He'd be heartbroken. I felt all the tension leave the arm looped
over my shoulder.

"But," the woman said. "We're looking for
teams for
The World Races
, and the brother-sister duo we had
selected fell through at the last minute. We're currently one team
short."

"
The World Races
?" Brodie asked.

"Teams?" I squeaked.

"Yes," Clipboard Woman said with enthusiasm.
"We'd like for you both to come to Hollywood for a second round of
casting. If you make it on the show, you'll be gone for a few weeks
as you travel from location to location. It's a bit of a different
dynamic than with
Endurance Island
, but it gives you a
chance to see the world. What do you think?"

"A few weeks?" I echoed, my mind racing. I
had orders I was waiting to fill. There was a wedding - my biggest
order yet - scheduled two weeks from today and I planned on
spending every moment baking and then driving the cupcakes down to
Dallas before icing them to ensure that they'd be perfect. I
couldn't leave for several weeks.

Brodie obviously knew where my mind was
going, because his arm tightened around my shoulder again. "I'm
sure I could get the time off of work."

I bit back a sarcastic remark. Of course he
could. Brodie was a waiter.

"If you make it on the show, you'll
automatically be paid a salary of twenty thousand dollars per team.
The winning couple wins a quarter of a million dollars."

My brain froze. Wait. We got
paid
to
be on TV? Twenty thousand dollars - my share would be ten grand.
Ten grand would let me buy a state of the art website and some key
advertising. That would make up for the bank loan I hadn't been
able to get to truly launch my business.

"Shall I mark you down as interested?"
Clipboard asked. "We think the two of you would be perfect. You've
both got that Southern charm, you look adorable in matching
outfits, and we love the brother-sister angle."

"We're in," Brodie said automatically.

"Twenty thousand dollars?" I blurted, unable
to help myself.

Clipboard chuckled. "That's right."

"Sounds good to me," I told her. "When do we
go to Hollywood?"

"Next weekend, if you're free."

"Oh, we're free," Brodie told her, squeezing
my shoulder so tight I was pretty sure I'd have bruises. "We're
definitely free."

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

"
Have to admit, I didn't see any serious
competition in the other teams. Get to know them? No thanks. I'll
let Tesla do that. She's the people person. I'm just the
guitar.
" — Liam Brogan, Day 1 of
The World Races

 

~~ * * * ~~

 

Six weeks later

 

My stomach was churning.

The sun was beating down overhead, my yellow
shirt was blinding me, the backpack on my shoulders weighed a ton,
and I was pretty sure I was going to throw up as one of the
off-camera assistants pointed us toward the starting line.

"Here we go," Brodie said with excitement,
shaking my arm. "This is it. Are you ready?"

"I'm going to barf if you keep shaking me," I
muttered.

"You should have eaten something," Brodie
said, not an ounce of sympathy in him. He put a hand to his eyes,
shielding the sunlight, and watched for the other teams to arrive.
"Think we're the fittest ones in the race?"

"Don't know, don't care," I told him. "We get
paid the same if we come in second or dead last, except if we come
in dead last, we get a three-week vacation in Acapulco." Apparently
as you were kicked off of the race, you were sent to a private
beach house in Acapulco so no spoilers would leak onto the
internet. As soon as I'd heard that? My motivation to compete had
pretty much disappeared. Money and the chance to lounge on the
beach for weeks? Who wanted to sleep in airports when I could sleep
in freaking Acapulco?

BOOK: Playing Games
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