Harley & Rose(8)

By: Carmen Jenner


By the time I reach the room with two coffees in tow, Harley is miraculously out of the shower, but the hot water hasn’t sobered him at all. He sits in a towel on the edge of the bed, swigging from the champagne bottle that had been leaking all over the floor.

“Okay mister, let’s put the booze away, because champagne has never been your friend, and we have a plane to catch.” I set my coffee down and replace the bottle in his hand with a steaming paper cup.

He lifts it to his mouth but doesn’t drink it. “She left me.”

My shoulders fall in defeat. “I know, honey.”

“I can’t say I blame her, but still, she said forever, you know?”

I sit down on the bed beside him and wrap my arm around his shoulder. Beads of water from his skin soak through my sleeves, but I just hold him tighter. “Then she wasn’t right for you. I know it hurts now; it’s going to hurt for a while longer yet—”

“Who is?”

“What?”

He straightens, causing my arm to slip from his wet skin, and looks me dead in the eye when he says, “Who is right for me?”

Me. I’m right for you. I’m the woman you should have been marrying.

I glance down at the coffee I’m nursing. “I don’t know, but I’m sure she’s out there somewhere.”

Harley hands me his paper cup and stands. He adjusts his towel, walks over to his suitcase, and stares at his belongings, but he doesn’t make a move to put on any of the clothes. “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.”

No, no, no. This is a great idea. The best ever idea.

“Come on. You need this. I need this. Let’s just go and have fun. You remember fun, right? We used to have a lot of it before we started paying taxes and having brunch with our accountants, and before fiancées came along.”

“Fiancée,” he corrects. “It’s not like you were getting married and left at the altar.”

Ouch.

“Right, well, before she came along we used to have fun. Let’s get back to that. We’ll drink Mai Tais on the beach, we’ll tan until we resemble lobsters, and then we’ll just laze around the pool all day and pretend this whole wedding thing didn’t exist.”

“Yeah,” he says with a small decisive nod. “Fuck Alecia.”

“Thatta boy. Now get dressed. Or we’re going to be late.”

***

After we’ve checked out and organized for the cases of champagne to be delivered to Harley’s apartment, we hail a cab, clear security and make it to our gate with thirty minutes to spare. Once we’ve boarded, Harley settles himself in his seat, flips the armrest up between us, and is out like a light in a matter of minutes. I spend the next two hours of the flight stricken with guilt and ruminating over the fact that I had a chance to talk him out of this and I passed it up for purely selfish reasons. I’m a horrible best friend. I’m the very worst of the worst.

I toss and turn in my chair, trying to get comfortable. I pick up a book and read a little but it’s one of those violent yet oddly satisfying motorcycle club stories with a convoluted plot, and I don’t have the patience for that now, so I close the book and stroke the tattooed back of the model on the cover. I try to get a little shut-eye, but I’m more worried about Harley slipping into a coma than the bags I’m going to have under my eyes tomorrow, so I stay awake and watch him sleep. On a creeper level of stalkerish things one can do to earn the title of psychopath when it comes to the object of one’s desire, I’m guessing I’m about at an eight. Though I’m wondering if the fact that I convinced him to take me on his honeymoon means I hit an even ten before we left the city. Either way, I watch Harley sleep until I eventually drift off too, and I find myself being gently shaken awake by a hand on my shoulder. “Rose, wake up.”

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