Finding Love for the Playboy ... excerpt
Chapter One: Micah Needs a Date
Micah Benjamin walked into the gym three blocks from his office in downtown LA. The place was packed with health-conscious people working hard on their physical fitness, but his mind wasn't on working out. Not today. He had a job to do today and it had nothing to do with exercise.
A petite redhead wearing tight yoga pants and a midriff workout top was on the treadmill, her cheeks rosy and her breathing heavy. He paused near her machine, trying to imagine how she'd look in a sparkly evening gown, after utilizing the help of his hair and makeup team.
Yes. She was a good prospect for his next red carpet date. Now, he just had to convince her of that.
He climbed up on the empty machine beside her and glanced up at the row of TVs. His choices were a cooking show, a political channel and a sports panel talking about the current football season. He pushed his earbuds deeper into the pocket of his shorts.
He moved his legs, increasing to a steady brisk pace. He pushed the buttons on the console to guide his workout, then he glanced over at the woman. She was focused on the cooking show, earbuds in, listening and watching, legs moving. In her own little world. Well, he was about to intrude.
He cleared his throat and glanced over at her. She paid him no attention.
He tapped her arm and she jolted, looking over at him, startled. He lifted a hand, an apologetic gesture, then pointed at the machine with a look of confusion. She pulled the buds out of her ears, eyebrows up.
"I'm sorry to interrupt your workout," he said smoothly, a humble smile hinting. "I notice you're watching the TV. I can see it but I can't hear it. How do I fix that?"
She chuckled. "Do you have earbuds?"
He shook his head, lips clenched in faux disappointment.
She shrugged with a smile. "Do you read lips?"
He laughed out loud. So she had a sense of humor. Good to know. "No, I guess I'm out of luck, huh?"
"You have to bring your own hearing device from home. They don't provide that for you."
"Ah, bummer," he said dejectedly. "I'll have to remember that for next time. I get a little bored walking for thirty minutes without entertainment."
She rolled her eyes, but, points to him, she didn't look away. She let her gaze drift over him and then slowly back to his face. "Only child, right?"
He laughed again. "Excuse me?"
She tilted her head back, causing her long ponytail to bob. "I imagine you were an only child whose parents entertained you constantly so you wouldn't get bored."
He feigned a wound to his chest. "No, you're way off. I mean …"
"Uh huh," she drew out, amused.
"I am an only child. But raised by a single mother who didn't have time to entertain me. She was too busy building a career and working hard."
"Oh, so an independent type, huh? Did you inherit your mother's work ethic?"
He smiled, thinking of his mother and her brand of high-expectation parenting. An executive in her field of financial planning, his mother Dahlia Benjamin was a bright, hard-working, successful woman, and yes, he liked to think he'd inherited her work ethic and drive. He was successful too, although in a different field. "Oh, yeah."
"Well, good for you two. Now, do you mind if I get back to the important TV viewing I was doing?" she asked with a smile.
He glanced up at her television. "What, watching that guy make that cake?"
She gave him a nod and started to put her buds back in her ears. He reached out a hand, almost gripping her arm, then thinking better of it. "Would you let me buy you a drink at the juice bar when you're done?"
Her eyebrows shot up into her forehead. "Is this a pick-up?"
"No, of course not. Just a friendly thank you for answering my question. My mother would expect me to show courtesy to a helpful stranger. In fact, she'd be disappointed in me if I didn't." He looked her straight on. "What do you say?"
She laughed. "Okay." She glanced at her phone setting in a slot on the machine. "I've got twenty more minutes to walk."