Harley & Rose

By: Carmen Jenner

Chapter One


Weddings are a time of joy, of celebration and love. What they’re not supposed to be is miserable. I’d dreamed of this day since I was five years old, and if you’d asked mini me how I saw it going, spending my time drunk and half-naked while my best friend mourned the death of his relationship in the presidential suite of our hotel was not it.

Granted, I also wouldn’t have been dressed in canary yellow. I wouldn’t have chosen the frangipanis that currently violated the emo-sanctity of this room with their cloying scent and their happy little yellow faces, and I wouldn’t have been sitting beside my best friend as he sobbed into my cleavage after the bitch he intended to marry left him for her Krav Maga instructor five minutes before she was supposed to walk down the aisle.

Okay, so Harley wasn’t sobbing, and it wasn’t as if I just got my boobs out and said, “Here, let my funbags be your comfort in this hour of need.” Yeesh. It was all far more innocent than that. Harley was simply resting his glorious face on my boobs as I stroked his mane of tawny hair back from his face.

Completely innocent.

Still, my best friend’s wedding wasn’t supposed to go like this. I should have been the woman gliding toward him at the altar. I’d be a vision in a blush Vera Wang ball-gown with a draped bodice, a sweetheart neckline, and a tossed tulle skirt. My bouquet would be made up of blush peonies, fat white roses, and a spray of pink astilbe. But best of all, we’d say “I do” in front of our friends and family in a vintage-inspired April afternoon ceremony. There would be an ice cream van on standby for peckish guests, and a four-tiered Glass Slipper Gourmet cake with cascading roses, peonies and hydrangeas delicately draped all over it. We would dance to our favorite Jeff Buckley song—Lilac Wine—under a sea of stars and paper lanterns at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers.

Obviously, I’d given a lot of thought to our wedding.

Fortunately for the both of us, this canary yellow monstrosity wasn’t our wedding, and praise be to baby Jesus the Wicked Wench of the West Coast is gone. Unfortunately, Harley isn’t happy about this fact.

Somewhere in my champagne addled brain, I’m completely aware that no good can come of having Harley cry into my cleavage two hours after he was so unceremoniously dumped at the altar, but Drunk Rose doesn’t care that he’s using my boobs in place of a Kleenex.

“She left. The bitch left me at the altar,” he says for the millionth time, and I have to keep from smacking him in the head the way I used to when we were kids. Of course she left him. She’s a money-grubbing whore who has more Gucci clutches than sense.

“I know, Pan,” I soothe.

“You’re the only one, you know that, right?”

“I know.” The only one who understands him? The only one who is always there and never falters? The only one he still loves after all this time? Yeah, if wishes were horses I’d be a freaking champion rodeo rider. It doesn’t matter which “only one” he means because all of these are true but the last. I’d be his only one for the rest of my days if he’d let me. If he’d just open his damn eyes.

I trace the lines of his face, the puffiness around his eyes, the bridge of his nose, the smooth angles of his cheekbones and his sharp jaw with its coarse stubble. It’s nice to be able to touch him like this again without Bitchy Barbie shooting daggers at me. Besides, it’s not like touching is a new thing for us. Harley and I have been together since we were five years old. Well, not together—obviously, because he was marrying someone else—but together in the sense that we’ve been best friends since the first day of kindergarten.