On an otherwise unremarkable Saturday morning, Tristan Montague was woken by a hard pounding. And not the sort he liked. The sort he liked, he realised as he unglued his eyelids, wouldn’t be forthcoming at all—last night’s hook-up was still crashed out beside him flat on his back, with his mouth open as he snored. This pounding, unfortunately, was coming from his bedroom door.
“Wha?” Tristan grizzled. The house had better be on fire, seriously, because it was only—he flopped an arm out, fingers searching for his phone on his nightstand—11.37 a.m. That was inhumane for a Saturday. Unless it was Sunday—but no, it would be just as inhumane for a Sunday.
The pounding on his door continued.
Tristan rolled out of bed and shuffled to his door. He pulled it open and glared at Harry, his housemate.
“Tristan!” Harry exclaimed, then his wide-eyed gaze travelled down Tristan’s naked body and back again. By the time it returned to his face, Harry was bright pink in that adorkable way that made Tristan want to ruffle his hair, pinch his cheeks and possibly rail him over the back of the couch into next week. Harry was out of bounds, though. Not only was he like the awkward little brother Tristan had never had, but Harry was also stupidly in love with Jack, their other housemate. They gave each other such heart eyes over breakfast each morning that Tristan half expected the local wildlife to burst into song every time, Disney-style. The local wildlife, in their case, being the mice infesting the walls and the huntsman spider that lived in the shower. “Tristan, you’re naked!”
There wasn’t really anything Tristan could say to that, so he nodded and waved his hand in front of himself like a showcase model on a television game show.
Harry’s blush extended all the way up to his glasses. “Like, really, all the way, naked.”
He sighed. “Did you wake me up just to tell me that?”
Harry blinked at him. “No! I woke you up to tell you that Mr. Erskine is dead!”
“Oh.” Tristan felt a moment of actual regret. Their landlord was at least six hundred years old, and batshit crazy in the best possible way. He loved to drop in and collect the rent money from the Milo tin in the kitchen, then spend hours regaling Tristan with stories of the Cross back in the seventies. And Tristan loved listening, because Kings Cross back in the day had been wild. “I thought the Milo tin was getting full.”
“I thought he’d just forgotten to collect the rent.”
Tristan sighed again. “Wow. That really, really sucks. Mr. Erskine was an awesome old bloke.”
“He once offered me a hundred dollars to play with his hair,” Harry said, his brows pulling together. “Which didn’t make any sense, because he was bald.”
“Well, not everywhere, probably.”
Harry blinked rapidly. “Oh. I didn’t think of that.” His mouth turned down. “Ew. Was he sexually harassing me?”
“To be fair, I think he sexually harassed everyone without realising it,” Tristan said. “Oh, man. What’s going to happen to this place, do you think?”
Harry looked slightly panicked. “I don’t know! I can’t afford to live anywhere else!”
The old terrace house in Dickson Street, Newtown, was a complete dump. It was the rotten, blackened tooth in an otherwise pristine smile of gorgeously renovated veneers, but it was cheap. Well, cheap by Sydney standards, at least. Which wasn’t saying much. Tristan would be okay whatever happened, but Harry and Jack were on incredibly tight budgets.
“I mean, these things take months, right?” Tristan asked. “Wills and probate and all that bullshit. And there’s probably some law that you can’t just throw tenants out on the street without notice. Isn’t there?”
Harry chewed his bottom lip. “I don’t know.”
“Hey, don’t stress about it,” Tristan said, even though it was pointless, because Harry stressed about everything. “It’ll all work out in the end.” He lifted his nose and sniffed as the scent of bacon and eggs cooking reached him, and his stomach growled. He brightened. “Is Jack making breakfast?”
Harry blocked him as he tried to step out of the room. “Tris!”
“Oh yeah.” He reached around to grab his robe off the hook on the back of his door. “Breakfast first, then crisis, okay?”
Harry nodded unhappily, and they headed down the stairs.