Fit for the Job(3)

By: Darien Cox

Jay had seen a couple of Eben Wright’s films, but wasn’t exactly a connoisseur of Hollywood and its players, a fact that had prompted him to do a mad, frantic Google search before coming here. There wasn’t that much information about Eben’s personal life, but the consensus seemed to be that beyond being extremely private, he was a nice guy, easy to work with, no tantrums or erratic behavior. Jay reminded himself of this, trying to force relaxation and slow his heartbeat as the actor approached from the bar, a glass of water in each hand.

“Call me Eben,” he said. “You’re not that much younger than I am. There has to be at least a twenty year age difference to get away with calling me ‘Mr. Wright’ or God forbid ‘Sir’.”

Jay laughed, but decided to keep his mouth shut beyond that, lest he try too hard to be clever and end up sounding like an ass. Eben took the seat across from Jay and handed him his water, then took a long sip of his own.

As Eben drank, Jay watched the muscles pulse in his neck. Fashion model tall, Eben was nearly devoid of fat, but he didn’t appear too lean. In fact, his muscles were beautifully sculpted. Jay noticed these things the way an architect might admire a building. While he surprisingly didn’t feel much attraction to the actor beyond admiration of his obvious physical appeal, Eben was, in Jay’s professional opinion, perfect.

In a simple gray tee shirt and blue jogging pants, Wright was the picture of a casual, healthy man in his early forties. There was no makeup here, no special lighting. Just the genetically superior mold nature had given him. The cheekbones seemed overly prominent, his face more angular than appearing in his films. And his eyes stood out in a startling way, sapphire blue with long dark lashes. The film camera, Jay decided, served to enhance the thickness of the actor’s physique, while downplaying the magnificence of his features. Even with the careless messiness of his short, thick black hair, and surprising appearance of a few rogue grays snaking around his brow line, Eben Wright gave off an otherworldly aura. Jay felt a twinge of envy.

Jay had become a fairly confident guy over the past few years; his exercise DVD had sold far better than he’d ever anticipated, and he certainly wasn’t bad looking himself. But he felt pale next to the movie star; too blond, too fair, translucent and fading into the background like a ghost.

“Forgive me if I stink, I just had a workout and haven’t had time to shower,” Eben said, flashing a toothpaste commercial smile. “My schedule’s been a bitch since I got to town. We start filming in a few days and I’ve had to do all sorts of prep while settling in to this place and trying not to let myself go to shit in the meantime.”

“That’s all right,” Jay said. “I work in fitness. I’m immune to body odor.”

The actor chuckled, then leaned forward with elbows on his knees. “How would you like to work for me?”

Jay hadn’t expected him to get to it so soon, and his face must have shown this, because Eben laughed. “You look shocked. Am I rushing things? It’s a bad habit I’ve picked up from being perpetually on a tight schedule.”

“Right, I’m sorry.”

Eben waved a hand. “No, don’t apologize. Just answer.”

“I’m open to options. I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

The actor’s face grew serious, the smile slipping, and he set down his glass. “I hear you’re having some problems with your former employer.”

Jay dropped his head and sighed, forcing a sheepish grin so he didn’t look too downtrodden. He’d expected this to come up. If Eben Wright had researched him, he’d most definitely have discovered his current legal quagmires. “Yes, problems,” Jay said. “The gym I used to work at has filed a lawsuit against me. My lawyer says they won’t win, but of course that doesn’t lessen the anxiety of the thing. Or the potential court costs.”

Eben nodded, looking sympathetic. “I understand, Jay, believe me. Since I came into the public eye years ago, I’ve had more attempted lawsuits than you can imagine. What are they claiming? Part ownership of your DVD sales?”

Jay met his eyes, surprised. The actor had damn well done his research. “Exactly. They say my exercise program was developed while I worked at their gym, so they’re entitled to part of it. It’s bullshit.” Jay flinched after letting the curse slip. “Sorry. I mean it’s crap.” He flinched again. “I mean...” Damn, get a grip.

Eben Wright laughed. “I get the picture. Tell me your side of things.”

“Okay. I came into their employment with my routine already established. It’s why they hired me. Funny thing is, they had no interest in my DVD when it came out. No celebratory drinks, not even a pat on the back. Until it started making money. Then suddenly they were very interested.”

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