Who is this old lady posting here?!
Just making sure I'm capable of writing something other than fanfiction, for a change. :P
She'd dated the groom. He'd been in love with the bride. That is, before he introduced her to his best friend. Bitterness wasn't a good color on anyone, but sometimes you do what works.
The bride floated down the aisle with both rows of perfect, Disney-princess-white teeth gleaming beneath the chandeliers. And, yeah – whatever – her dress was beautiful and timeless and classy. A lacy empire waisted number that hugged her delicate hips and swished around her feet.
Charlie felt the telltale blossom of envy in her chest as the bride kissed her father's cheek and turned to the groom. When Charlie got married (however far in the future that might be…) she wouldn't be given away. She'd join her (imaginary) husband at the altar as equals, ignoring the barbaric tradition of being handed over like cattle. She must've snorted out loud because her date gave her arm a pinch.
"Stop snarling, dear," Molly whispered near her ear.
Instead of replying, Charlie watched as the misty-eyed groom took hold of the bride's arms, and the bride bit her lip to contain her smile – which had gone from Disney princess to blushing bride and Charlie wanted to roll her eyes because, yeah, the groom might've been a somewhat respectable accountant and he might've cleaned up nicely in a tux but he was also the guy who'd chugged a bottle of ipecac on a dare and threw up all over the front seat of her car.
The same idiot who'd sold his blood to buy beer and an Xbox in college.
The lazy shit who preferred missionary, on bottom.
And the man who'd broken up with her one year, ten months, and sixteen days ago. Because he'd met someone else, and he was going to marry her.
Thank god for open bars.
Jack stuffed a twenty in the bartender's tip jar and adjusted his tie. "Whiskey coke, strong, and keep them coming," he said.
"Well, good to see you haven't changed."
He didn't have to look over to confirm it was Charlie Lockhart leaning against the bar, sipping her champagne and wearing a red dress not appropriate for a wedding.
"Didn't think you'd show up," Jack replied, still not dignifying Charlie with a look.
She sighed. "I'm a glutton for punishment."
He almost felt sorry for her. Almost.
"Buy me a drink?"
"It's an open bar," he sighed.
"You're no fun."
Usually he was, but she was right. Today he wasn't.
His best friend had mentioned it about eleven times before the ceremony, letting Jack know that he looked tense, unhappy, tired. He was all of those things, but he chalked it up to hating weddings and wearing ties and shiny shoes. He did hate all those things, of course, but he'd never let his best friend know the real reason behind his mood.
The terrible crush he'd had on the bride. Darcy, his best friend's new wife.
He'd been in love with Darcy, once. She was his chemistry partner freshman year, and they'd taken a Chem class or two together every semester after. They studied together, spent nights huddled together at coffee shops, he'd flirted and one November evening he'd gotten up the courage to fucking finally ask her out.
She hadn't felt that way about him. She didn't want to ruin their friendship.
When his truck wouldn't start outside the Chem building that fateful evening their senior year, he'd called his best friend. Greg had always been reliable, more than eager to drop anything and come help a friend.
The phone rang in his ear as Darcy sat in the cold cab of his truck, shivering as her breath come out in puffs of white. Darcy's teeth chattered and even though Jack was mostly getting over the urge to kiss her senseless, he'd thought about it then.
And then Greg showed up with his shiny, running car and opened the passenger door for Darcy. She'd jumped in and sighed with relief. Jack got out his jumper cables and Greg helped him, braving the cold, until they got his engine running again.
Darcy was warm in Greg's car, and so Greg offered to take her home.
Only they hadn't gone home.
Greg took her to his favorite diner on the edge of town, shared his favorite grilled cheese sandwich and they talked and sipped hot cocoa for hours. When Greg came back to the apartment that night, he'd said,
"I'm in love."
Jack couldn't blame him, of course. Darcy was an easy person to fall in love with.
"You have a girlfriend."
Jack had always liked Charlie. She was… Fun. Affable. Crude.
"I know." And to his credit, Greg had looked guilty. But it hadn't stopped him from dumping Charlie the following day. Hadn't stopped him from asking Darcy out. Hadn't stopped him from coming home with a shit-eating grin asking why Jack had never mentioned her before.
Jack didn't say anything. Instead, he tried to get over her. Slowly. They graduated moved in together. Darcy went to nursing school and Greg took a job as an accountant for his dad's firm.
Jack moved on. It got easier, seeing Darcy with Greg. Greg was a good guy and his best friend and Darcy was, well, Darcy. They deserved to be happy. When they got engaged, he congratulated both of them, agreed to be Greg's best man, threw him a bachelor party in Vegas, and stood by his side as he watched his best friend marry the only woman he'd ever seen himself with long term.
Which hadn't been easy, but he was getting over it.
"Your drink must be awful. You're snarling at it," Charlie said. He'd forgotten she was still standing there, back against the bar in her red, red dress. "Here, let me get you another one."
"It's an open bar. I can get one myself."
"Two jack-and-cokes," she ordered, smiling sweetly at the bartender. She crossed one of her ankles over the other and, sure, Jack appreciated the sight of her backside, dropping his gaze from the length of her legs to the straps of her high heels. Fuck me heels.
She'd come to Greg's wedding to make a statement. Pathetic, sure, but she'd always had cajones and not a lot of give-a-damn.
When she turned and offered him one of the glasses, she smiled.
"So, Jackie, how've you been?"
"Fine," he replied.
After a beat of silence, she sighed. "Working?"
So. She wasn't leaving him alone. Indulging in her small talk, he replied, "Yep."
"Me, too. Still in Boulder?"
She rolled her eyes. "Clearly all the times I rolled your drunk ass over so you didn't puke on your own vomit, or all those Sundays I brought you donuts were for nothing. You never did like me."
For that, he was confused. "What? I always liked you. Thought Greg was a dick for what he did."
She paused, her face going from anger to confusion before settling on sadness. Charlie blew a breath from the corner of her mouth. "It was a dick move, but I should be over it. I am over it or, I was… Until I got the invitation."
"We should stop being so petty."
One of her brows lifted. "We?"
"Used to like Darcy. Asked her out once but she didn't want to date me."
"Ah." She couldn't help the smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. Which was painted red and rather tempting. "But she wanted to date Greg."
Jack shrugged it off. He'd gotten over the details already, it was the big picture that still stung.
"Thanks," he heard himself saying.
"The donuts. And taking care of Greg and I when we were drunk and stupid. And," he swirled the liquid in his cup, "the drink."
A small smile played across her features. It wasn't just her lips that were tempting. She sipped from the glass and didn't flinch. Always had been able to hold her liquor.
"Don't mention it."
And so he didn't. He sipped his drink and watched her with a small, secret little smile and he realized something: Greg was the real idiot here. He'd had something fucking awesome all that time, and he hadn't been able to see it. Hadn't been able to appreciate it.
Jack downed his drink and loosened his tie. He didn't want to repeat the same mistake his best friend had, and so, he reached out and brushed some of Charlie's brown hair away from her face, being sure to brush his knuckles against the shell of her ear as he tucked it safely away.
The bold vixen in the red dress had the gall to part her lips like she was surprised and to give an innocently timed blink.
He smirked. "Wanna get out of here?"
"Uh. Sure," she replied. "Where to?"
"Don't care, long as you come with me."