Maeve Cameron and her photographer, Jesse Joone, have just spent some unauthorized time dogging the most scandal-likely members of the cast.
As the pictures begin a slideshow display, Maeve asks, "Who's the blonde with the, er, thin t-shirt?"
"Her name is Abigail Cynthia Smythe. She's a former Olympic pentathlete. She can ride, shoot, swim, and whatever the other two things are. She couldn't handle the politics of competition, so she "retired". She runs the stables for One Sixth Studios." He pauses. "Uh, that photo is for my personal collection. Unless you think Blatherskite would be interested."
"Everyone's forgotten her. The pic might be of interest to a men's magazine, but not to Blatherskite. Who's this couple?"
"That's the guy who owns the Wet Whistle, and his model cum actress girlfriend, Chloe."
"Choe's an aggressive girl," Maeve remarks wryly, "but nobody cares about a bar owner or his unknown girlfriend... didn't you get anything on Isabelle Demaris? Anything to substantiate the rumours about her and Max Bailor?"
"I can't tell him from his brother, but I can tell you neither one of 'em came near her except at our so called official shoot."
"That would be Maynard, not Max."
"I don't know, Maeve. Check out this photo." He points to the screen.
"See? I thought the cast is all good friends, this doesn't look friendly."
"Hmmm." Maeve stares at the picture. "What about the rest of the official pictures?"
"Nothing. Boring shit."
Maeve looks at the rest of the photos without comment. "Quite a few of Isabelle and Rafe Wilkes."
"Yeah, well, they're always together and can't seem to keep their hands off each other."
"They were dating before they started Kronos Project, though, yes?"
"Yeah. Here's what I learned about Isabelle Demaris - before she hooked up with Wilkes, she was the girl who never said no, you know what I mean?"
Maeve nods, thoughtfully.
"She and Max Bailor hooked up, like it was inevitable in a town this size, and it was sizzle all over town - two of kind, they said. For six weeks, they were semi-exclusive, a record for Bailor, I understand."
"What do you mean, semi-exclusive?"
"I mean Max was exclusive and she was, mostly. It was creating a stir around town that maybe Bailor had met his match and he would finally settle down. Then one night, at Max's place, Isabelle met Henry Madison, and went home with him. This was sort of the end for Max and Isabelle, with no hard feelings on either side. Easy come, easy go kinda deal."
"Sort of the end?"
"Well, they had a few more nights together, when they couldn't find someone else for their beds, they would turn to each other. But this wasn't very long because Madison only came to town to play Rey Arden in the Kronos Project. And by the time auditions rolled around, Isabelle and Wilkes were a definite couple."
"And there was no suggestion of jealousy on Max's part until she made it clear she didn't want anything to do with him, is that correct?"
Jesse shifts a little, increasing the contact between her leg and his. "One Sixth Studio keeps a photo archive, copies of all the pictures taken of their contracted players. I found these in there - check it out."
"These photos were never published because no-one beyond this rinky-dink town cared, but I think what happened is, Bailor tried the "for old times sake" routine and got turned down flat in a pretty public way. This, I'd say, is what caused those rumours."
"So you don't think there's anything to them, Max Bailor isn't in love with Isabelle Demaris?"
Jesse shrugs. "He says he's not. A string of brunettes in his bed seems to support that."
"Any other bright ideas, sweetheart?"
"Shut up." Maeve glares at the screen as she continues to look through the photos. "Wait a second. Who's the naked guy on the sea-doo?"
"That is Rufus Kay. He's a stage actor hired on by the studio, but if they have a project in mind for him, it's all hush-hush, even Rufus doesn't know."
"You talked to him."
"What did I tell you...oh never mind. Is he gay?"
"Says not. Says that being considered gay allows him outrageous liberties with the ladies, his exact words." Jesse chuckles at the memory.
"Sounds like my kind of guy."
"He's not," Jesse says shortly. There is an awkward pause. Jesse tries to bring back the light, companionable mood they were sharing. "He offered Isabelle his number, in case things don't work out between her and Wilkes. In front of Wilkes!"
Maeve chuckles. "And what did Rafe say about that?"
"He said he'd have to get in line. That guy is unflappable!"
"It's called 'secure', Jesse."
"Or delusional. I think Isabelle just ran out of men in this town to have sex with. Now that there's new blood in town, we'll see how long she sticks with Wilkes."
"New blood? You mean Rufus Kay?"
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