Adrian Green’s new next-door neighbor isn’t really a dragon, but he does snarl an awful lot.
The first time Adrian saw Lorcan Walsh, he knew he needed Adrian’s help. Lorcan has a fractured leg and an empty apartment. Luckily, Adrian doesn’t mind helping him fill his lair with gems, and Doris’s second-hand shop has everything a dragon could possibly want.
The problem is, Lorcan doesn’t seem to want his apartment decorated, and sneaking presents past a grumpy dragon isn’t easy.
All Adrian wants is to cheer Lorcan up, but when Lorcan’s ex appears at the door, Adrian fears not even vintage coffee cups will get them their fairy-tale ending. What if the way to a dragon’s heart isn’t lined with treasures?
Adrian’s heart beat uncomfortably as he knocked on Lorcan’s door. He’d been here enough times by now; his heart should be fine.
No sounds came from the apartment, so he knocked again. He’d rather not shout through the mail slot with the bowl in his hands.
The lock rattled, and Lorcan opened the door with a glare. “What?”
His beard had grown and gotten out of hand, and Adrian went through all the fantasy creatures he could come up with. Maybe he was a yeti or something.
“Adrian? What are you doing here?” Lorcan’s voice was deep and rough and it made Adrian shiver.
“I come bearing gifts.” He held up the bowl heaped with grapes, cherries, and plums. When Lorcan didn’t speak or move out of the way, Adrian frowned at him. “Do you need help shaving?”
Lorcan’s eyes widened. “What?”
“I only meant ... maybe it’s hard standing on one leg for any length of time, so you might need help. And showering ... I can help you shower. It can’t be easy with a leg in a cast.”
“I manage fine, thanks.”
Adrian shrugged. “I guess. Rabid werewolf is also a look.”
There was a twitch at the corner of Lorcan’s mouth. “It is.”
Adrian sighed. “So ... are you gonna let me in?”
“I wasn’t planning on it.”
“What? Why?” Adrian tried to see past him. “Who’s here? Is your lover back?” He went up on tiptoe to try and see over Lorcan’s shoulder, but he was too tall and the gap of the door too small.
He stopped when he noted Lorcan watching him.
Lorcan shook his head and opened the door wide. The apartment was still empty and echoing. Nothing had changed since the last time Adrian had been there.
“Where do you keep your shoes?”
Lorcan frowned. “My shoes?”
Adrian wrapped an arm around the bowl, so he could gesture at the empty hall with his hand. “You have no shoes, no jackets, no bags, nothing.”
Lorcan didn’t answer, his face blank again.
“What do you wear when you go outside?”
Adrian pursed his lips and continued into the apartment -- still no furniture. “You have to go out at some point.”
“Wasn’t planning on it.”
Walking into the kitchen, Adrian put the bowl on the kitchen counter since it was the only place he could put something in the entire apartment other than the floor. “I got you dish towels. Aren’t they cute?” They had multicolored stripes along one side in red, green, blue, and yellow. “I got them at Doris’s.”
“Yeah. Beautiful vintage ones for a dollar each. So cheap.” He ran a hand over the woven cotton. “I only got you three.” He didn’t mention the bowl. It hadn’t been expensive, but both the towels and a bowl could prove to be too much for a reluctant dragon.
“How do you like your plates and cups?” Adrian wanted to peek inside the cupboard simply to see them.
Adrian huffed. “Hey, when are you getting chairs and a table? It must be hard to have to stand all the time.”
Lorcan stared at him. “I don’t.”
“But you have nowhere to sit.” And it had been weeks.
“I have my bed.”
Adrian looked at the mattress -- still the same bedlinen. He frowned. “How do you do your laundry?” There were no washing machines in the apartments. You booked a slot in the laundry room in the basement. There were two huge washing machines and one dryer, but the entire building had to fight over the time slots. More than once, Adrian had been forced to go to the laundromat since he’d been unable to book the laundry room in time.
Adrian scrunched his face. “For fuck’s sake, Lorcan!”
The surprised look on Lorcan’s face only lasted a second, but Adrian saw it.
“It’s okay to ask for help, you know? It sucks that there is no elevator. I should’ve thought about it earlier. How are you expected to get down the stairs while carrying a laundry basket?” Adrian shook his head. Here he’d been worrying about Lorcan’s lack of bowls when he had no clean clothes.
“I can manage on my own.”
Adrian snorted. “Clearly not. You need me. Accept it, mister.”