Home > The Roommate Agreement

The Roommate Agreement
Emma Hart

CHAPTER ONE – SHELBY

You Must Wear Pants

“You! Shove this filthy, cheesy piece of crap up your ass!”

Jay turned his head, staring at me with wide green eyes, his hands firmly around the controller of his Playstation. “What?”

I threw the dirty sock at his head. “I’ve had enough! Three months, Jay! Three months! You told me you’d have another place by now, but I still just had to pick your dirty damn sock up out of the bath before I could shower!”

My best friend’s eyes darted up and down my body. “Is that why you look like a clan full of cats just dragged you out of a forest?”

“It’s a clowder.”

“What?”

“A group of cats is a clowder.” I paused, then shook my head. “Not the point. I’m sick and tired of picking up after you. You’re twenty-six! Why can’t you work a washing machine?”

He paused his game then tilted his head to the side, flashing me his signature charming grin that did absolutely nothing but piss me off. “Because you know how to, Shelbs.”

I grabbed his jacket from the back of the chair and threw it at his head. “I am not your mother! I am your best friend and apparently, your keeper, you overgrown manchild!”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” He grabbed the jacket before I hit him in the face with it. “No need to make more mess. It’s bad enough as it is.”

Annoyance flared within me. I stormed over to the living room and stood with my feet apart and braced my hands on my hips. Slowly and deliberately, I cast my gaze over the living room.

Over the empty bottle of Mountain Dew on the floor by his feet, the crushed Red Bull can on the side table with the lamp, the pizza box on the coffee table surrounded by empty food packets…

“And who does the mess belong to, Jay?” I asked in a deathly calm voice that my mother would have been proud of.

He froze, the grin falling from his face. “You sounded like your mom.”

I continued to glare at him. “I am not picking up after you anymore. I’m tired of finding your clothes in the washer when I need to wash mine. I’m sick of picking up after your rubbish because your lazy ass can’t find the trash can, and—hey! Are those my Oreos?”

“No!”

The tell-tale blue packet peeked out from between two packets of Doritos. I reached forward and snatched it before Jay had a chance.

It was my Oreos.

And the packet was empty.

“You ate my Oreos!” My voice was shriller than it should have been, but this day was going from bad to worse. I was behind on my deadline, there were dirty socks in my shower, and my shit roommate and future ex-best-friend had eaten my only pleasure in this life.

Jay had the good grace to grimace. “Sorry?”

“Sorry? Sorry? One thing in that kitchen is off limits to you, and that’s my Oreos!” I waved the packet to punctuate my point. “They are the one pleasure I have in life!”

He winced. “They’re just cookies, Shelb. I’ll stop at the store and get you some more when I come home from work later.”

I crunched the packet up in my fist and folded my arms. “And you’re going to tidy your mess up before you go.”

He checked his phone. “I don’t really have time.”

“You have time to play video games.”

“Yeah, but I get to kill people in video games.” He paused. “I can’t kill anyone tidying up.”

“You can kill the mess.”

“Not the same.”

“Okay, then I can kill you for coming into my apartment and wrecking it.” I tossed the Oreo wrapper in the trash and went to the fridge for a bottle of water.

There weren’t any.

Leaning back, I peered across the apartment at Jay. “Where’s all the water?”

He hit a button on the controller and put it down in a scarce space on the coffee table. “The guys came over after you went out with Brie last night.”

“Jay…” I groaned, slamming the fridge door shut.

He knew how I felt about that. In fact, I’d told him once a week, every Monday, ever since he’d moved in.

Jay worked for his dad. Wesley “Wes” Cooper owned a successful chain of gyms in Texas and had put his son in charge of one of them. Jay’s friends consisted of sports-obsessed, beer-loving, wing-eating, gym-rat couch coaches.

And, lucky me, they converged on my apartment every weekend. Or they had ever since he’d moved in temporarily.

Since Sunday happened to be my designated day off to work on my own novel instead of ghostwriting or freelance news articles, it wasn’t all that convenient.

Men watching sports were loud. Toddlers in a playground kind of loud. Not to mention that every single one of Jay’s friends thought they were more qualified to manage the Dallas Cowboys than the actual coach.

Although they probably weren’t far wrong at this point in the season. Especially in my dad’s opinion—and that was something he gave whether or not you wanted it.

I digress.

I was more than a little fed up of having my quiet apartment ripped apart by men. All I wanted to do was write my book, wander around in yoga pants and tank tops with swearwords, and eat my body weight in chips and queso whenever the urge came over me.

It was hard to do that with judgey-ass gym-rats all over your living room.

Not that I cared. If there was anything better than chips and queso on the sofa, it was chips and queso in bed without pants on.

Now there was a quote for a t-shirt.

Still, I was tired of it. I wanted my apartment back. I wanted to not find socks in the bathtub and empty bottles under the sofa. I wasn’t a freaking mom yet. I didn’t need another person leaving shit everywhere, thank you very much.

Jay stood up and held up his hands. “All right, I’ll pick it all up.”

I folded my arms across my chest and eyed him. “Then you can vacuum the crumbs up from the carpet.”

He paused.

He didn’t know where I kept the vacuum cleaner. I bet he didn’t even know where I kept the damn dishcloth.

I leveled my gaze on him. He knew that I knew he didn’t know, but I also knew that he didn’t want to admit it.

Jay was, if nothing else, a bit of an alpha male. If he were a character in a book, he’d be a werewolf alpha without a doubt.

He stood at over six-foot-tall, and his muscles were the perfect mix of toned and bulky at the same time. He wasn’t going to be entering a bodybuilding competition any time soon, but he was the guy that made girls look once, twice, at least three times on the beach or, hell, on the street.

His hair was unfairly dark and thick, cut close to the sides of his head. The top was longer and swept over to the side. Coupled with a square jaw that was dotted with yesterday’s stubble and startlingly green eyes, he was impossibly handsome.

But none of those looks would work on me.

I met him when he was missing his two front teeth and he’d punched a boy in fourth grade for being mean to me.

We’d been in first grade.

He’d taken a suspension, and I’d found myself a new best friend.

Nobody had ever bullied me since that day.

“You can look at me like that all you like, Jay Cooper. I’m not going to tell you where I keep the vacuum cleaner. Just like I’m not going to tell you where I keep the pods for the washer.”

He groaned, grabbing an empty plastic bag from the cupboard to pick up his trash. “Come on, Shelbs, help me out here.”

“No. If you want to keep living here, things have to change. You have to start picking up your fair share of the chores and you have to be more respectful of me.” I gripped the edge of the island and leaned forward. “I’m tired of it. I’m tired of having my Sundays interrupted by your couch coaching. I’m sick of doing your laundry like I’m your mom and I’m sure as shit fed up of you eating all my damn Oreos.”

“Always with the Oreos,” he muttered, shaking the bag out with a noise that went right through me. “All right, all right. I get it. I’ll pick up my shit now and make it up to you, okay?”

I grunted an unintelligible noise and pushed off from the counter. Storming into my bedroom—the only room in the apartment untouched by Jay—I slammed the door behind me for dramatic effect.

I did enjoy a good dose of drama—as long as I was the one dishing it out.

I had no time for it from someone else. Unless it was on Facebook and I could go down the rabbit hole of comments. Then I had time for it.

The fact was, my drama was warranted.

Three months ago, Jay had turned up on my doorstep the day before his apartment building was sold and begged to stay with me. His loose-tongued, Fireball-loving grandma had just moved into his old room at his parents’ place, and he had nowhere to go.

I had a spare room and as a writer staring into the black hole that was my bank account, needed a roommate.

It had seemed perfect. He promised he’d be out by three months. That he was actively looking for a new place and he swore it wouldn’t be too long.

I’d believed him. We’d been best friends for over a decade when we’d started high school, and he’d been the hot football star who needed tutoring.

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