Fit for the Job(7)

By: Darien Cox

Eben’s family and personal problems had turned out to be far more stressful than Bodie could have anticipated, though. But he was in it now. He’d sworn his loyalty and duty to Eben, and his cousin paid him well for that allegiance. He had to constantly remind himself that it wasn’t his place to judge how Eben handled his life or his relationship with his child. Bodie didn’t have kids, and he knew the teenage years were supposed to be the worst. But Eben and Sassy’s father-daughter relationship had complications that went far beyond what normal families had to deal with, he was certain of that.

And bringing another stranger into that tangled web, expecting it to go well? It never did. This wasn’t the first time his boss had tried to distract Sassy’s wrath by bringing a new toy into the fold. Eben might be in self-inflicted denial that an exercise guru was just the thing to bring Sassy out of her funk, but Bodie wasn’t fooling himself. It was going to be a bumpy summer.

Add to that the way Jay had looked at him... Bodie was pretty sure he knew which team Jay played for. Whether or not that would become a problem remained to be seen.

Ten minutes later, Eben scooted into the kitchen, freshly dressed and smelling of soap. “Hey, Bodie, car here yet?”

“Not yet,” Bodie said. “Will you be out long?”

Eben grabbed a mineral water from the fridge, then plunked down at the kitchen island, twisting the cap off. “Not too long I hope. The director wants to show me a location. If it goes past dinner time, just pass the torch to Evelyn, she can take over Sassy watch.”

“Yeah, speaking of Sassy,” Bodie said. “You really think this fitness guy is a good idea?”

“I think it’s a great idea!” Eben took a swill of water, then grinned at Bodie. “He’s perfect, isn’t he?”

“He’s a creampuff,” Bodie said. “He’s not gonna be able to handle her.”

Eben leaned forward. “I don’t need him to handle her. That’s your job. I need him to give her something to do besides sit in her room and hate me. And if I’m lucky, he just might gain her trust. Maybe she’ll confide in him.”

Bodie tried not to scowl at Eben’s words. “Is that why you hired him? I mean, I got the spiritual advisor thing, and we know how that worked out. Don’t tell me you’re trying to use a fitness instructor for the same purpose.”

“Of course not!” Eben said. “Well, not really. My primary motivation is to get Sassy moving and give her something to do. But...she’s tried to get other employees of mine to align with her since this all started. So there’s a chance she’ll do the same with this guy eventually. If it happens, it happens. But no, that’s not why I hired him.”

Bodie scowled, not sure if he believed his cousin. Eben was desperate, and desperate people did odd things. “A personal trainer’s a good idea, Eben. But have you thought any more about getting her a therapist?”

Eben’s face darkened slightly. “You know I can’t risk that. If it got out she was seeing a shrink it would be humiliating for her.”

Right, Bodie thought. Humiliating for her. Bodie didn’t like thinking Eben was more concerned about his own reputation than his daughter’s emotional health. Eben had always been so kind to Bodie, even when they were kids. And he seemed to genuinely love his daughter. But still...he said and did some strange shit that Bodie couldn’t quite comprehend. At times he wondered if Eben hadn’t become little bonkers since fame and fortune overwhelmed his life. But bonkers or not, Eben was paying the bills.

“What?” Eben said. “You don’t think Sassy will take to Jay? She likes to exercise, she’s good at sports. She plays field hockey at school. And she’s always buying those fitness magazines.”

“The timing of you hiring Jay won’t be lost on her; she’ll think you’re trying to manipulate her. Because of that alone, Sassy will likely try to drive him away just on principle.”

“Trust me, Bodie, she’ll like him.” Eben nodded, as though trying to convince himself. “Jay is just Sassy’s type. He looks like one of those blond pretty boys she posts pictures of online. Or did post pictures of before I revoked her privileges.”

Eben chuckled, but Bodie could see the distress in his eyes. Despite his misgivings about Eben’s methods, Bodie did feel bad for him. Eben was trying to be lighthearted, to put on a brave face and pretend he had a handle on the situation. But the seams were coming apart on this thing, frayed and worn, and it was only a matter of time until it exploded. Locking Sassy in with no contact with the outside world seemed extreme to Bodie, but he couldn’t say he had another alternative to the situation. He had no idea how he’d handle it if he was a father. A father whose daughter was currently trying to blackmail him.

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