Fit for the Job

By: Darien Cox

Chapter One

Jay checked himself in the car’s rearview mirror, regretting his decision to get a haircut right before the job interview. He usually left his blond hair long and straight, hanging just below his chin. As a fitness professional, he’d learned that slicking it back into a ponytail was more effective for combating sweat in the eyes than keeping it short. Also, he hated the way he looked with short hair. He’d tried it for a while and it made him look too young, too boyish. And though he was a grown man, some things from childhood stuck, like the taunts from his older brothers. They’d all inherited their father’s Mediterranean complexion and thick black hair, while Jay was the picture of his mother. As a little kid, his blue eyes had bulged a bit, too big for his face, and his fair skin allowed the tiny veins in his lids to show, earning him the nickname ‘fetus face’ by his ever sensitive older siblings.

With age, he’d grown into his features, but despite his conviction that he was now comfortable with his looks, he still held onto the habit of using his hair as an accessory to take the focus off his face. Thus, he’d opted for a medium-length haircut, still long around the temples, but short enough that he wouldn’t look like a total hippie upon meeting Eben Wright today. He wasn’t completely happy with the result. The outfit he’d chosen—tanned dress-pants with a white shirt and blue tie—combined with the shorter, thicker locks, made him look more suited to a yacht club than a gym.

He got out of the car, adjusting his tie, and looked up at the large, pretty house tucked back behind a wall of shrubbery. The blue glint of the Blackstone River was visible beyond the house down to the left. This was one of the wealthiest areas of Providence, and the house was sure as shit expensive, especially right on the water, but Jay had still expected something more lavish, considering it was a movie star inhabiting it. Perhaps he’d seen too many reality TV programs about celebrity excess.

He supposed it was only a rental for Eben Wright, a place to hang his hat while he spent most of his time out working on his new film. Also, the actor was known for relishing his privacy, and the modest, gated house set back off the road was likely perfect for blending in unnoticed while he was in town.

Nervousness tingled Jay’s belly as he made his way up the long walk to the front door, still not certain as to exactly what job he was interviewing for. He was sure Eben Wright had his choice of personal trainers to accompany him on the road. Not only was Jay fairly small-time in the fitness world, but he worked mostly with women. Was Wright looking for someone to train his wife? That would be fine with Jay, yet it still intimidated him a little, as Ingrid Wright was also a well-known actress. But hell, if they paid him, he didn’t particularly care what the job was. With his pending legal problems, he hadn’t been working much at all, which was why he’d jumped at the invitation, money a far greater motivator than the prospect of working for someone famous.

Perhaps the actor wanted someone local to show him around, advise him on the best running trails and such in the area? He just didn’t know what to expect, which added to the jitters making him feel sweaty and claustrophobic in the early summer heat. Giving his collar a tug to loosen the tie’s grip around his neck, he pressed the doorbell.

When the door opened, Jay had to fight not to let his mouth fall open at the sight of the man standing before him. While he certainly hadn’t expected Eben Wright to answer the door himself, he realized now that part of him thought it would be some snotty looking butler type or a woman in a maid’s outfit. Again, too much television. But the man scowling back at Jay, looking him over with a hard expression, was nothing of the sort.

Pale brown hair was tied back in a short, somewhat tousled ponytail, a few random dreadlocks weaved into the mix. A black barbell pierced his left eyebrow, matching his tight black tee shirt, which barely shrouded a muscular physique, arms heavily tattooed with scrawling ink. While he was unmistakably Caucasian, with deep, sexy eyes a shade of grayish blue, his skin was golden with what Jay guessed was maybe a California tan, if he was a minion traveling with Eben Wright. A scruffy shadow of barely-there beard darkened his jaw and upper lip, and the faded jeans he wore had a rip in the right knee, a wink of tanned skin visible beneath the threads.

And here I was worried about looking like a hippie. Go figure.

“Can I help you?” the man asked curtly.

Jay forced himself to stop gaping, and assumed a professional stature. “Hi, I’m Jay Capello. I have an appointment with Eben Wright.”

The man kept one palm pressed against the doorframe like he was guarding the entrance, his well-developed bicep popping. “You’re the fitness guy?” he asked, raising his pierced eyebrow. His tone was skeptical, lending the impression that he was both surprised and unimpressed.