Romance After Reality

01/22/2004 at 11:59 AM EST

Average Joe
Melana & Jason: On the Jan. 22 episode of Days of Our Lives, Melana Scantlin and her non-Average Joe pick, Jason Peoples, made a joint cameo as a couple at a kissing booth – only they were smooching other people. Which is pretty close to real life. "For us to say we were together and in love would be lying to everybody," says Scantlin, 26, who has been busy working in TV (she'll cohost the Game Show Network's new show World Series of Blackjack). Peoples, 27, meanwhile, is still waiting tables in L.A. (though he has moved out of his parents' house) while pursuing acting gigs. Both are seeing other people, so "I would classify Melana and me as really good friends," says Peoples. "We're cool."

This is an online excerpt of PEOPLE magazine's cover package.

• Written by TOM GLIATTO and MIKE LIPTON
• Reported by CYNTHIA WANG, OLIVER JONES, WILL KECK and BRENDA RODRIGUEZ in Los Angeles, JASON BANE in Vail, KATE KLISE and BARBARA SANDLER in Chicago and REBECCA PALEY and MOLLY LOPEZ in New York City

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