TOBY was used to housemates. He’d railed against renting out his spare bedrooms at first, but five years after the fact, he could barely imagine living in an empty house. Some people were better roomies than others—a few had lasted a couple of years, while some he kicked out within a month. It was the hazard anyone who rented rooms faced, but on the whole, Toby had lucked out, and he knew it.
Still, it did not lend him to being generous to musicians.
“Toby, I swear, he has a steady job!” Steff whined, walking behind Toby in the kitchen like they were in a conga line.
“Seriously! He’s worked at the cable company for, like, years!”
“No! No no no! Last time I had a musician tenant, I got stiffed not only for rent, but for the tickets for breaking the noise ordinance!”
“David isn’t like that.” Steff pouted, and she was cute when she pouted—everyone agreed on that—but Toby was not giving up the fight.
“What, are you fucking him? What?”
Steff smacked his shoulder. “No! I’m still steady with James. This is a friend of his.”
“His musician friend,” Toby snarled, stirring his soup. It was still lukewarm, so he shoved it back into the microwave.
“I sometimes wonder if your ex was a musician,” Steff grumbled and leaned against the kitchen counter, staring at the floor.
Toby carefully did not answer. His tenants as well as his friends knew he was essentially divorced from his ex, Alan, and that Toby had bought him out of his half of the house, but he could not really afford it at the time so took in boarders to cover the mortgage note. They all knew that, but only his closest inner circle knew what a brutal bastard Alan was. Alan had left town pretty quickly after the breakup and was unlamented by everyone who knew him. There were people in town who remembered Toby and Alan as a couple, but they were usually smart enough not to bring it up. Toby’s own support network of friends who knew the whole truth consisted of his sister Mary, who lived across town, and a few other people scattered across the country. He preferred it that way.
“Could you at least consider it? If you don’t have anyone else lined up?” Steff finally sighed in defeat.
“The ad just went on craigslist yesterday. If I don’t have anyone in a week, I’ll talk to your musician.”
“He’s not my musician…” Steff grumbled as she shuffled out of the kitchen.