Read an Excerpt
"You have got to be fucking kidding me." I was the only one standing and the only one with the balls not to come out with some congratulatory bullshit. I wasn’t going to lie about being happy for the guy who was leaving us all in the lurch just because his girlfriend had a goldmine in her pants.
"Kit." Gary widened his eyes and looked from me, to Ben and back again.
"What? What?" Okay, so I probably hadn’t given Ben the reaction he’d hoped for when he’d announced his intention to break his third of the lease to move in with his other half, but it was no more than he’d deserved. How the hell we were going to make the rent now I didn’t know. The whole point of having three guys living together was so we could afford a roof over our heads and beer in the fridge and now we were losing one third of the budget.
I grimaced and looked at the label on the bottle I clutched like my life depended on it. No more Miller, then. Supermarket own-brand crap from now on. Or paint stripper and aftershave if things get bad enough.
"It’s good news. Right?" Gary looked at Gemma for backup. She didn’t live here, but visited often. And thank God, he didn’t seem as pussy-whipped as Ben obviously was. In his case the boss had instructed him to announce his imminent departure on his own, claiming she ‘had to work’ or something. Meanwhile, I was left standing in the kitchen staring at two housemates, one of said housemates’ girlfriends, and a prospective life of penury living on beans on toast and supermarket beer.
"It’s good. It’s cool."
I couldn’t share Gary’s optimistic outlook. "What’s good about losing one third of the rent?"
"Kit, for God’s sake." Gemma had that look on her face only women could perfect. It must have been something she was born with. Ovaries, breasts and the ability to smile while disapproving with her eyes. "For Ben."
"Oh. Oh, right." Fuck, Blackman. She’s a human being, not the devil. Don’t you dare shudder. I took another gulp of beer to fortify myself but the way she tapped her fingernails on the kitchen table made me jittery. "Good news for Ben. Of course." It was easier just to agree with Gemma when she glared at me like that.
"Look." Ben eased his chair away from the table and leant back, probably much less anxious now he had Lady MacBeth’s overt support. "I realise this’ll put the pressure on you two guys, but-"
"No, no, it won’t." Gary waved away Ben’s concerns and shrugged.
"Yes it will."
The three sitting at the Formica table-no way was it in any fit state to be called a dining table-turned their heads to look at me in such coordinated censure I almost laughed.
Almost, but not quite.
"What?" I shrugged. "It will. We’ll be down a third of the rent each month and that’ll leave us less money for..."
Gemma lifted her eyebrows and I lowered the hand that held the beer bottle to my mouth.
"...food. And beer." My voice got quieter. "And...stuff. Look, anyway, these are valid concerns. I hate to be the only pragmatic one here, but bills have to be paid."
"Oh, you’ll get by," Gemma said, her voice just a shade away from an outright snort or "Pfft".