“Venice Beach. Riley and Miles have been seen taking sunset strolls as they walk her dog together,” J.P. said, and when I stood to go, he held up his big hands to slow me down. “Let me get the Treadman shots first, Jess.”
“Come on, come on,” I said, rolling my hands in the speedup gesture. “I’m not about to let Criminally Handsome get the first shot of the cheerleader and the jock,” I said, my territorial instincts kicking in. I protected my turf like a mama bear, and that deliciously handsome British boy would not get in my way.
“Treadman’s looking good, and such a good guy,” J.P. said and licked an approving lip at the photos on his screen. “The Strip will run these,” he added, referring to one of the online sites he fed his photos to. Then he fed himself, popping a biscuit into his mouth. I dug around in my backpack for my gum. It would distract me from the tantalizing look of that biscuit.
“Treadman’s always a good guy. That’s why he’s only worth one hundred dollars. But Up Close will run hookup shots of Riley and Miles.”
“God, I love Up Close and its millions of readers,” J.P. said.
“It’s a deep and meaningful love for me, too,” I said, as he slapped a cool bill in my palm. I slipped the Andrew Jackson inside my bra and headed for the door.
“Wait,” he said, as I turned the handle. I looked back. “Want to know what else I’m hearing related to the Belle family? And this isn’t something I’d share with anyone but you.”
My ears pricked, and a smile darted across my lips. Insider secrets made me tick. “What else are you hearing?”
“I got a little tip on a wedding date,” he said, sucking all the letters of the last two words as if they were juicy and delicious, “for the hottest wedding in town, that of Riley’s older sister, Veronica.”
A shiver of excitement raced through me. Veronica Belle and Bradley Bowman were Hollywood’s hottest young couple these days. They had gotten engaged six months ago. Guessing where and when the wedding would be was the parlor game of Hollywood.
“What’s the date?”
“Supposedly this weekend. Somewhere on the beach.”
“The beach? That could be anywhere.”
“I know. Better start asking around. I want you to be the one to nab the shot.”
“I will be the one. Even though security at the wedding will be insane,” I said.
“It will be. Absolutely one hundred percent insane. So insane that a picture would be worth more than a thousand words. A picture would be worth many, many thousands of dollars.”
My heart skipped with a sick kind of longing. That would cover a lot of semesters of med school. I needed that photo desperately, and I needed it before the first bill came due in two more months.
“I’ll ask around,” I said, like the eager beaver I was.
“That’s my bloodhound.”
Or maybe that was the better comparison.
I popped a piece of spearmint gum into my mouth and chewed ferociously as I knitted my way through the cars. On the route to the beach, I ran through the possibilities for getting into the wedding.
Bradley Bowman and Veronica Belle were the toast of the town, their sweet romance eliciting oohs and ahhs from onlookers. The young twentysomething stars had fallen in love last year during the shooting of Griffin Studios’ SurfGhost, a tale of a come-back-from-the-dead wave rider who falls in love with a girl afraid to swim. It was a megahit, with women of all ages swooning over their star-crossed love story.
Given their high profiles, the wedding details would be under wraps. That meant I’d have to dig. I could ask my mom, a makeup artist, if she’d heard anything. Like a hairdresser, she picked up all sorts of little details as her clients gabbed while having their faces done. Another option was my roomie, Anaka. I could ask if her dad, Graham Griffin, who greenlit SurfGhost, would be at the nuptials. But if I got in through Anaka, then I’d risk her dad knowing about my job, and the more under the radar I flew, the better.
The key to being a good paparazzo was to be surreptitious. You needed to get in someone’s face when you had to, and then get out just as quickly. Stealthiness was critical to my operations.
Anaka’s cousin Kennedy, in New York, was another option, as her mom was a TV show producer who was often invited to the fetes of the famous. Her mom had cast Bradley Bowman in a guest spot on her popular Sunday night show Lords and Ladies. But that might be too roundabout a way in, though I’d check with Kennedy later just in case.
The smell of the ocean grew stronger, so I shelved the wedding strategy until tonight when I’d have more time to noodle on it. For now, I had another shot to chase. I reached Venice Beach, parked, and began trolling for Riley and Miles.