After work the next day Nohua went to see her grandmother who was sitting at a table by herself eating dinner.
”Nana?” she asked sitting down next to her.
”Oh honey…I’m glad you came. I don’t know what I would do without you. Your aunt came today…Elisa was so sweet. She brought me these pictures that she found while they were going through storage…” Zulema pulled out a handful of digital prints of Bruno and her together in the summer of 2010.
”Nana…was that when The Other Side came out? Before he was famous?” she asked.
”Yes dear, it was. But we weren’t on the best of terms then…” she said pointing to one picture where they were standing next to each other but not touching.
”Oh…you never told me that. What happened?” she asked.
”Well, it’s something that I try to forget. That’s probably why I gave these to Elisa.” she told her granddaughter.
”Oh…okay…” Noe answered.
”See….he was just starting to travel and people were starting to know he was…and even though we had just started dating…he still wasn’t….bueno….”
”So I get to meet this guy tonight…because he’s performing at the show….” Kelly said walking down the street with her staff. Kelly had somehow become like a mother to Zulema and all the younger staff members, inviting them to dinner at her home, buying them Christmas gifts and giving them advice about the good, the bad and the ugly of the world. Zulema appreciated it because all she could count on were her old stuffy grandparents in upstate New York and her rigidly Islamic grandparents in Michigan. Neither set of her grandparents really understood her. The people she worked with were her family.
”Kelly, you cannot embarrass me. I like him.” Zulema told her.
”So asking him about his sexual past is out of the question? I was just trying to help.” Kelly answered dryly. You just don’t know with boys in the city…well..no you just don’t know ever…” Kelly led them in the hotel with her staff members breezing through the VIP list.
”Shit, one day I’ll be able to do that on my own.” Zulema answered looking around the large room for Bruno who had texted her hours ago that he was there. ”I don’t see him…” she leaned over to Lisette.
”Don’t worry. I’m sure he’s here…” she answered Zulema. ”Let’s go get drinks…”
”Okay..maybe that will help me keep my mind off of it..even though he was the one to tell me he wanted to see me.” she answered in a sarcastic tone.
”Oh my god. I don’t even know why you’re freaking out. You hooked up. Get over it. It’s New York fucking City.” Lisette answered.
”Your right. If he’s not here or if he wants to go around doing whatever it is Bruno Mars is or will do. God…whatever…” she said grabbing the small drink downing it in seconds.
”Woah…settle down there sailor…” she felt Bruno come up behind her grabbing the glass from her hand. ”You can’t drink until we perform.”
”Oh..yeah…umm..fashion girls drink a lot.” she told him turning around to look at him wearing tight straight legged jeans, a vintage t-shirt and soft black leather jacket.
”I’m sure they do.” he answered. ”I will see you later tonight…” he smiled walking back toward the stage.
”See! I told you he was here…there’s nothing to worry about.” Lisette answered as they walked back to their table. Zulema glanced over at Bruno who was talking to several girls smiling and touching their arms.
”Oh god.” she sighed.
”Zuli…you can’t do that.” Kelly said.
”Do what?” Zulema asked.
”Be stupid. You’re just being dumb. Where is the smart and independent and free spirited girl that we all know?” Kelly asked.
”You’re being ridiculously philosophical for this type of event, Kel.” Zulema answered hearing music start to play as models walked down the runway in funky bright clothes.
Bruno sang some cover songs making everyone start to sing and dance. Shit. He’s so good. She thought to herself watching his every move. Suddenly they heard the piano start Nothin’ on You. ”This is a different version…” Stephanie said to them.
”If I told you I was perfect I’d be lyin’….” he started to sing watching the girls dance all over him. Zulema shook her head not sure what to think about how he was performing. Why am I jealous of this? This is ridiculous. I need to stop..but I can’t..I just can’t…she continued to think seeing him pay particular attention to a tall girl with dark blonde hair and blue eyes. She tried to forget about him getting up to get another drink. She sipped on it through his final song, another cover- this time Seven Nation Army and Heartless. She smiled walking back to her table seeing him look at her holding the drinks in her hand. He winked at her stepping off the stage.
”He’s super cheesy, dude.” Andrew, Kelly’s assistant, told her.
”Yeah. Just wait a little longer. It will ooze cheese.” Zulema said. ”If he even comes over here…” They lost themselves in the conversation with Kelly talking about her daughter and a planned trip to Milan later in the month. ”Okay…okay…I think I’m ready to go…without this stupid boy.” Zulema declared wobbling in her high shoes. The group started to get up checking who else was still there. They walked out to the front of the building walking to the left seeing Bruno standing next to a girl who was wearing his jacket standing close to him as he smoked a cigarette. ”What the fucking bullshit…” she said loudly enough for Bruno to hear her. He touched the girl on the waist excusing himself. The other girl, with long brown hair, tanned and short watched the exchange.
”Whatever, Bruno. That’s bullshit. I came because you told me to come and…no..I was stupid. Is this how you get all your girls? I bet it is. Did you kiss him yet? Did he say that you’re amazing? I bet he did. I’ll have someone bring you your stuff…” she said starting to turn around. She muttered something in another language starting to walk away without saying anything.
”Just let her go….” Lisette told him. ”Maybe call her in a couple days.” she told him walking with her friend.
”But it was a misunderstanding, wasn’t it?” Noe asked Zulema.
”Oh it was, but at that point I was so drunk that I don’t think I would have remembered what he said to me in the morning.” she laughed. ”Don’t ever do anything like that, Nohua.”
”I think it’s too late, Nana…” she answered.
”Wait..what happened?” she asked.
”We broke up…” Noe told her about her long time boyfriend.
”Well, sweetie, you still have plenty of time.” Zulema laughed.
”Oh, thanks, Nan. That makes me feel extra special.” she snapped. ”Oh, no. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that…”
”Oh, sweetie. It’s okay.” she answered.
”Nana…who was with him that night?” she asked.
”It was your grandfather’s sister…” she started.
”Tahiti?” Noe asked.
”Yep.” Zulema laughed.
”Oh geez, Nana.” Noe laughed with her grandmother.
Dirty Hooligans get ready. Proceed with caution.
Noe walked back to her grandmother’s apartment with her slowly. Her grandmother was becoming slower and less attentive to details each day. It makes me sad. She thought to herself as she led her grandmother into her apartment and into her chair where she covered herself with a blanket.
”Nana, what happened later that night?” Noe asked.
”Oh…well…I wanted to drown my sorrows in his cheating ways…” she told her granddaughter.
”Nana! Did you get a really bad hangover the next day?”
”No. But there was a reason why I didn’t…”
Zulema followed Lisette to a little neighborhood bar to talk about what just happened.
”I don’t know if I want to talk about it…” Zulema answered.
”I think you probably should. I know you get all upset about this kind of stuff. Remember Liam? That one English model? You drank for like 3 weeks straight Z. I’m surprised Kelly didn’t call you out on it. And this guy, he’s famous. Like how long is it going to take you to get over it?” she asked.
”I’ll be over it by tomorrow. He wasn’t that hot anyway. And he was short. Fuck it. Find me someone Shaq’s size.” she told Lisette making her friends laugh at her.
”Look over there…” her friend Yvette said.
”Oh…he is tall. I’m gonna get it, get it, get it.” Zulema said standing up.
”Z…you are too drunk for this…” Yvette said pulling her down. ”Just take a break. You can be upset. I mean, y’all weren’t even really together. Why get upset and look for another random?”
”Because I fucking can.” she said standing up feeling her phone vibrate against her chest. She dug into her bra pulling out her blackberry.
Z….you didn’t get to meet my sister, Tahiti tonight.
”What the fuck?” she asked sitting back down to text him back.
Yes. She was outside with me. She was the one wearing my coat.
”I have to go.” Zulema said walking toward the door.
”Where are you going? You know it’s like 3 in the morning.” Lisette answered.
”We’re in the city that never sleeps. I think I’ll be okay….but first let me borrow your flats.” she pointed to Yvette.
”Umm…why?” she asked.
”Dude, these are Brian Atwood. You should be begging for them. Now lemme borrow your H&m pieces of shit flats…”
”Don’t do anything stupid. You’re too drunk, Zuli.” Andrew told her.
”I won’t.” she answered slipping on the shoes heading out the door. Okay. I know where his hotel is. I can get there..I think…she sad running down the stairs to the subway. Now..if I remember..oh…it was that one….she ran to the train that was quickly closing. Shit, don’t die. She thought to herself sitting down in an empty seat across from some teenagers.
”I like your look.” one of the girls told her.
”Oh, thanks.” Zulema said glancing down at her phone.
Where are you going?
She read the text from Lisette.
To say I’m sorry.
Don’t do anything stupid.
I can’t promise.
She responded getting up as the train stopped. She ran up the stairs looking to the left and then to the right to decide exactly where the hotel was. Oh…there it is..she walked a few blocks in front of her opening the heavy historic door seeing staff members standing by the desk talking.
”Excuse me?” she asked them.
”Yes ma’am?” one of the girls asked.
”I don’t know if you’ll tell me..because..well, you don’t have to…but can you tell me what room number Bruno Mars is in? It’s really important…”
”Ummm…” the guy at the counter wasn’t sure how to react.
”Please…it’s like..he bought me a 6,000 dollar necklace…we had the best sex ever…and I fucked up tonight..I have to…” What the flying fuck did I just say? Oh my god. My drunken word vomit. She started to blush after realizing what had come out of her mouth. ”He’s just…oh my god. I fucked up…please..”
”Room 714.” the girl answered. ”But I haven’t seen him come in yet.”
”I’ll wait.” she said running toward the elevator.
She followed the signs pointing toward the room. She knocked lightly on the door hearing footsteps coming toward the door. She heard the door unlock making her slightly panic. Shit. What the hell am I doing? I’m the crazy girl right now. She felt her feet start to turn away getting scared at what he would think of her. I could have just texted him and told him I was sorry…
”Z? What are you doing?” he asked looking down at her mismatched shoes.
”Just don’t say anything..you’ll ruin the moment…” she said pushing her lips against him. She felt his hands move up to her cheek running his soft hands against her face. She wrapped her arms around his waist as she felt him bite her bottom lip and his tongue all over the inside of her mouth. Oh my fucking god. She thought to herself. He pulled away from her but remained silent. He took her hand leading her into the room. The second the door closed he pushed her against the wall kissing her deeply the same way he had kissed her after their third date. Between his kisses she tried to say something. ”I’m sorry I didn’t…”
”Shhh…” he said reaching around her back to her black t-shirt to her bra. She pulled away from his kisses lifting up her shirt watching him take off his jacket and shirt at the same time. He moved his fingers down to her jeans while he kissed her neck all over. She moved her hands to his pants doing the same thing he did. After they were only wearing their underwear he wrapped his arms around leading her to the big bed in the middle of the room. Oh my god…she thought to herself feeling him kissing her all over her body spending extra time in between her breasts moving his hands up and down making her moan internally. Oh my god. Oh my god. She continued to feel both of their intensity and desire. His hands ran down her thighs lightly making her tingle. ”Baby…I’m sorry I didn’t get to be with you tonight.” he whispered in her ear.
”Just make it up to me, Bruno…oh my goddddd…” she answered him.
”I’ll more than make it up to you, Zulema.” he said her full name as he kissed her shoulders making her even weaker than she already was. She felt his body push against her going deeper than she had ever felt before.
”Oh shitttttt….oh my sht, shit, shit, shit….” she called out to him feeling his lips against hers moving her lips to get all of her tongue. He moved against her to an unknown but sexy rhythm that turned her on even more.
”Baby….am I doing it right for you?” he asked her. ”I want you to be happy….” she didn’t answer wrapping her legs around him moaning his name. Nailed it. He thought to himself.
”Bruno…you’re really cocky.” she told him breathlessly.
”Well, when you know how to do it…” he said to her.
”Oh my godddd….but you doooo, Bruno…oh shit.” she felt him deep inside her with a sudden burst and then his head fell on top of her stomach.
”But Zulema…you’re not….” he said moving down toward her legs.
”But if you do that again…” she said to him suddenly tensing her body up feeling his fingers all over her. He felt her stop breathing moaning his name over and over again. ”Oh god, Brunoooo. I…oh….ohhhhh….fuck.” she sighed as he pulled away from her.
”You’re not leaving.” he told her walking toward the bathroom. She grabbed the loose fitting sheet pulling it from the bed wrapping herself around in it. She stood up looking at herself in the mirror running her hands through her long hair and wiping off the eyeliner that had somehow ended up on her cheeks. She closed her eyes rubbing them realizing what she had just done. Shit. I am a whore. She thought to herself as he came up behind her leaving a trail of kisses against her back. ”I don’t think I could ever describe how amazing you are, Z.” she pulled away from him grabbing her shirt and jeans walking toward the bathroom.
”Wait…wear these…” he said throwing her a black shirt and red basketball shorts. ”I know they’re big…but since you didn’t know we were gonna have a sleep over…” he winked at her.
”We can’t have a sleep over without watching a really bad movie, Bruno.” she winked back at him going into the bathroom. She came out seeing Bruno laying on the bed flipping through the movies.
”How about Moonwalker?” he asked her.
”I can do that…” she answered sliding into the bed next to him. He put his arm around her kissing her head.
”I’m really sorry about tonight. I am, Z.” he told her again. He started humming the intro music to the movie. Shit. He’s gonna put me to sleep. She thought closing her eyes listening to him start to sing softly. But I think it’s okay. She thought drifting to sleep.
”Zulema?” he asked a few minutes later. ”Z?” he felt her small but heavy body asleep on her. ”Oh…good night…” he said moving his arm from her turning off the movie reaching over to turn off the light. He moved her over to the other side of the bed to get up. As he made his way back to the bed she moved her body toward him throwing her arms around him. Well, it’s not that bad..he thought to himself closing his eyes wrapping his arms back around her.
This one is lame. Please don’t stop reading. It will get better.
”Nana, did you leave after a while?” Noe asked.
”Oh…no…I was too tired to even move.” Zulema answered.
”Then you did that thing they call a walk of shame after?” Noe asked.
”Oh…well…in my head, but he let me keep the shirt and I wore it with the skirt, so it was actually pretty cute.” she told her granddaughter.
”So, like no one would have noticed?” Noe replied.
”Well, I don’t know. There’s probably someone out there that would have remembered. But I don’t think it was that big of a deal.” Zulema answered.
”So then what happened next?” Noe asked.
”Oh…nothing too dramatic. I think we went out to dinner a few times and he worked on the album and everything. He was around for a while. It didn’t get too crazy until September.” Zulema answered.
”What happened in September?” she asked.
”Your grandfather was arrested.” Zulema answered.
”Wait! You never told us about that…” Noe said shocked.
”Hand me the tablet, baby…” Zulema asked pointing to the small computer off to the side of the couch. Noe grabbed it handing it to her typing something quickly.
”You’re going to his Wikipedia?” Noe asked.
”It summarizes it the best…” Zulema replied. ”I don’t t like talking about it.”
Noe took the small computer from her grandmother’s hand reading over the section.
On September 19, 2010, Mars was arrested in Las Vegas for possession of cocaine. When talking to a police officer, Mars reportedly stated that what he did was “foolish” and that “he has never used drugs before” Mars pled guilty to felony drug possession, and in return for his plea, he was told that the charges would be erased from his criminal record as long as he stayed out of trouble for a year, paid a $2,000 fine, did 200 hours of community service and completed a drug counseling course.
”But he did everything right?” Noe asked.
”He did, honey. And after that year we didn’t talk about it ever again.” Zulema answered.
”But not even dad and aunt Elisa?” she asked.
”They know that we both made plenty of mistakes when we were younger. That’s all you all need to know.” she told her granddaughter.
”Oh…okay…so what happened after that?” Noe asked.
”Well…let’s see…that was September and after September comes October… I think that’s when Doo-wops came out…” Zulema answered.
”Oh..it was, Nana. It says here it was October 5th…” Noe pointed to the note on the computer.
”Oh..but Nohua…one night…when the album came out. Oh…you would have loved it.” Zulema said.
”Why, wait..what happened?” Noe asked.
”He was on Saturday Night Live..” she answered.
”Oh..the one with Wayne’s World and Justin Timberlake?” Noe asked. The show had ended nearly 40 years ago but people still watched the show endlessly because the humor was timeless. Sketches were even used in classrooms to discuss past events such as elections and national disasters.
”Yes, Nohua. Your aunt Riva and I went and it was just amazing. But, your grandfather was extra nervous. I had to go and help him…”
”I cannot believe we are at this taping. Oh my gosh.” Riva looked at the walls walking through the hallway to the stage where he would be performing. Zulema was equally in awe as it was one show that both her mother and father watched with them when they were together as a family – which was rare. ”And we’re sitting by his dad?” she asked.
”Oh yeah…he’s a pretty cool guy. I mean, he hasn’t said he hates me yet.” Zulema answered.
”When did you meet him?” Riva asked.
”Maybe like a month ago…before B left for LA.” Zulema answered.
”Ahh…okay..” Riva answered looking at their printed ticket pointing to a section where they were sitting. Zulema introduced her sister to Bruno’s father sitting down watching the people move things around the stage. They all sat and watched suddenly Zulema was shocked out of her dreams of being on Saturday Night Live by her phone.
Can you come backstage?
”I’ll be right back…” Zulema said standing up.
”Okay…” Riva said continuing the conversation she was having with one of his cousins about music.
”Excuse me?” Zulema asked a staff member standing by the backstage door.
”Bruno wanted to see me?” she asked nervous that they might not let her backstage.
”Oh..yeah…the third door on the right….” the person answered opening the door for her. ”And your outfit is super cute.”
”Oh..thanks…” Zulema answered. She walked down the hallway knocking on the door walking in. ”B?” she asked concerned.
”Oh..he’s in the bathroom…” Eric told her.
”And I need to go in there?” she asked.
”Yeah..he said he needed to talk to you…” he answered. ”It’s down at the end on the left.
”Oh..” Zulema answered concerned.
”Take this with you so they don’t flip shit.” Eric said handing her a vip pass.
”Oh…yeah..I wouldn’t want Andy Samberg to yell at me.” she laughed opening the door. Oh my god..that’s one of the writers…and oh god..oh my…that’s Akiva…she said to herself seeing people huddled around in a crowd as she walked to the bathroom. ”Bruno?” she asked knocking on the door. She heard it unlock smelling smoke in the bathroom. ”What’s wrong?” she asked.
”I don’t know. I’ve never been this freaked out before. A year ago I couldn’t even imagine this..and now…” he explained leaning against the wall taking a drag of his cigarette.
”You know, if Mayor Bloomberg knew you were smoking in here he could give you a 3,000 dollar fine.” she smiled at him.
”Well, then I’d pay it.” he said throwing the almost finished cigarette in the sink washing it down.
”Eww.” she told him.
”I know. Don’t hate me. Z…what if I mess up? Since this thing people are just rooting for me to fail…”
”Bruno…you were the one who said you would prove them all wrong. That you aren’t just about your past. The only way to move on is to move on…” she said standing in front of him looking at him with sad eyes. ”Come on, Bruno. I know you can do it.”
”But what if someone mentions it tonight?” he asked her.
”They won’t. If any place is used to drug problems it’s SNL. Come on. They don’t joke about that stuff here.” she told him.
”I guess you’re right.” he shrugged.
”And you look extra cute in that blue suit. I would hate for you to disappoint everyone when you look that handsome„,” she told him moving his tie a little.
”Yeah. You’re right. We’re extra fresh in these blue suits.” he smiled looking over her head in the mirror.
”I’m glad we were able to see each other at that show.” she said hugging him.
”It was a good show. I think I asked for everything on the runway.” he answered.
”You would look good in all of it.” she smiled at him.
”Shit. I look good in everything.” he told her.
”Okay, Mr. Confident. Let’s go.” she said pulling his hand out toward the hallway.
”Can we tell everyone we did it in the bathroom?” he asked her.
”No!” she yelled at him laughing.
”Damn. Okay. Whatever.” he answered laughing at her as he walked down the hallway.
”Okay, Bru…I’m gonna go…Riv is with your dad and cousins and I think she’ll want to kill me after she spent all the time with people she doesn’t know.”
”Thank you, Z.” he said letting go of her hand.
”You’re welcome.” she smiled at him walking away.
”Nana…you always do that…you make things better when we’re scared. You do that with all of us. Like when I didn’t want to go away to school…or when I didn’t want to sing…or when Miley was nervous about school…did you always do that?” Noe asked.
”I learned it from my Grandmother.” Zulema told her.
”Wow.” Noe answered glancing at the clock that showed it was 8 o’clock. ”Nana…you should go to bed. We go see Grandpa tomorrow…”
”You’re right…help me to bed. And I saw you checking your phone. Remember not to kiss him on a first date, Nohua. He has to kiss you.”
”I will remember that.” Noe laughed following her grandmother into the bedroom.
Nohua jumped down from the small step ladder she was using to decorate the backyard after hearing a noise come from her parents’ house.
”Mom?” she asked walking through the big house.
”It’s just me…” she heard her father say. ”Do you have….”
”Oh my Nohua! You are so beautiful today!” her grandfather exclaimed holding out his arms for her. ”I brought you something too…”
She hugged her grandfather lightly looking at her father. ”What did you bring me?” she asked.
”Oh…I brought you this amazing little thing….” he said pulling out a picture of her that a close friend had painted of a special little spot they all had in Hawaii.
”It’s beautiful…but why are you giving this to me?” she asked walking to one of the tables they had set up.
”I found a note that said I needed to give it to you. I needed to give it to you…” Bruno told his granddaughter.
”Oh..okay…” she answered placing it in the kitchen. ”Where do you want me to put it?”
”I found a note that said I had to give it to you….” he answered.
”Oh…okay…I’ll find the perfect place for it later, okay?”
”Yes. I think you’ll know where to put it…I found a note you know…”
”Yes dad…you found a note. Let’s get you something to eat. Felicity said that you needed to eat…” her father referred to his caregiver.
”Okay…but it better not be the crap they usually give me, Gabe. It’s horrible. Just plain horrible. They have no taste. I swear it’s like they’ve never been out of the kitchen to see what is good food…” her grandfather answered. Her father glanced down at his phone seeing a message from his wife.
”Go to the front..your mom and grandmother are there…” he asked Noe.
”Oh…okay…” she replied walking out the door with her sister behind her.
”Grab the cake and everything….” Beatrice said quietly to Miley so her mother in law wouldn’t hear the conversation.
”I don’t know why I’m here…I was supposed to see my husband today and you took me in the opposite direction…Your father will get what’s coming…” she told her granddaughter.
”Nana. I think you’ll be happy with why you’re here…” Noe said walking with her grandmother.
”Let’s get this shit done already…I’m tired…” she snapped walking toward the middle of the house.
”Oh…there she is….” Bruno said in a soft voice. ”Don’t get so cranky old lady.” he smiled at her. She stopped almost stumbling toward her granddaughters who were standing on either side of her. It was like she had seen a ghost.
”Nana….are you okay/?” Miley asked.
”She’s fine…” Bruno said taking her hand.
”Oh….Bruno….” she sighed sitting in the chair looking at him. ”They didn’t tell me….”
”It’s okay…I…” he paused confused about what exactly was going on. ”Where are we?”
”Oh…Bruno…it doesn’t matter sweetheart.” she smiled at him holding his hand.
”Dad…we’re at my house…remember?” Gabriel answered pointing to a picture of the family.
”Oh…yes…it’s beautiful…I just….it’s beautiful…” he repeated looking at the picture.
”Your aunt and cousins will be here soon…let’s leave them alone…” Beatrice pushed the girls out of the kitchen where their grandparents were sitting.
Later in the evening Nohua sat on the couch with her grandmother sound asleep on the other side flipping through the tv channels. There is never anything hood on. She thought to herself. She landed on a documentary about September 11th when suddenly her sister burst through the door.
”He is such a fucking asshole! God. I invited him to this stupid thing and when he shows up he brings his sleazy fucking friends and even another girl. Why am I dating him, Noe? Why?” Miley stomped her feet on the floor flopping in the big chair across from Noe.
”That’s why I’m just going to grow up to be a cat lady. After Tyler…fuck it. I’m done too.” Noe answered. ”Not until I find someone that makes me swoon the way Grandpa makes Nana swoon.” she told her sister.
”Oh girls..don’t be so silly. You’ll find the perfect person. It doesn’t always happen when you want it to.”
”Nana..when did you realize that you would look at Grandpa that way for the rest of your life?” Miley asked.
”Oh…honey…it was sometime after we started dating…not too long after…but a bit…I think it was late 2010….”
Zulema rolled her chair over to the back of the Los Angeles satellite office of her PR firm picking up the phone taking requests from people left and right trying to figure out everything before she was to leave for San Francisco with Bruno later that night. Come on, com on come on…she looked out the window chatting with her co-workers in New York through Yahoo! messenger.
”Zulema?” she heard one of the interns ask her snapping her out of her daydream.
”Yes?” she asked.
”Um…someone saying he’s your boyfriend is here….” she said pointing to the front seeing Bruno wearing a bright blue plaid shirt, a red t-shirt, jeans and green Converse shoes. She smiled at him waving.
”He is…” she told the intern.
”Oh….okay…” she nodded her head not sure how to react.
”It’s okay. He’s cute.” Zulema smiled walking over to him.
”Hey, Z…” he said hugging her.
”I didn’t think I was going to see you until tonight?” she questioned.
”We finished early. So get yo thangs and move your fine ass out the door with me…” he said.
”Hang on..I have to go talk to someone. Sit down…” she said running in the back of the office for a few seconds coming out seconds later holding her purse.
”Le’ts go…” she said grabbing his hand walking out the door.
”Leggo, babbbyyyy…” he said opening the car door for her.
”What are we doing?” she asked.
”We’re gonna get really juicy and bad for you food. And then we’re gonna go to San Franciscoooo….” he smiled at her pulling into the drive thru. ”What do you want?” he asked her. ”No….nevermind you’re getting the same thing I am…”
”Nooo! I don’t want to breakout!” she told him.
”Okay..ma’am…don’t out the extra lettuce on there. My girlfriend will breakout.
”There’s no winning with you, is there?” Zulema asked.
”Nope. You’re gonna eat In and Out and you’re gonna like it…” he told her.
”Okay…but let’s wait until we’re at home to eat…I’m wearing this on the plane…” she said pointing to her shirt.
He laughed at her as they arrived at his small house. He led her into the house throwing the food on the counter digging into it to get the hamburgers…”Don’t spill…: he told her.
”Okay…I promise.” she told him watching him get out a ketchup packet. He squeezed it watching her face. He smiled at her pointing the packet in her direction. ”Bruno! Stop!” she laughed seeing the small amount of ketchup falling onto a spot on her blue shirt.”What are you doing? Oh my god!” she grabbed the mustard sitting next to her opening it with her teeth then throwing it at him.
”Zulema! Oh my god. How could you ever do that to me? I’m sorry..” he said looking down and then back up with a mischievous smile on his face. She smiled at him trying to see what he was going to do next. ”See…now the only thing to do now is to mix them together…” he told her grabbing her makingher laugh.
”Stooopppp! Now I don’t know what I’m going to wear!” she yelled at him feeling his lips against her neck.”Brunooo….stopppp…”
”Not until you say you’re sorry…” he said to her making her laugh as he tickled her throwing her on the couch. He licked his lips looking at their messy shirts. ”Shit..these are really gross…” he said. ”But I don’t care…” he said throwing himself on her kissing her.
”Bruno!” they heard someone yell.
”What the hell Brandon?” Bruno asked looking up at the front door.
”Your door was open. We’re ready to go. Come on.” he said pointing to the car.
”Give us like 10 minutes…”
”Dude..food fights are not cute. You gotta clean up afterwards…” Brandon said.
”And that’s what we’re gonna do!” Bruno said.
”10 minutes..you know security is shit.” Brandon said leaving the house.
Bruno ran into his bedroom grabbing her a shirt throwing it at her. ”You can change when you get there.” he told her. ”It’s a two hour flight. It doesn’t matter.” he said kissing her on the cheek leaving the bedroom quickly to clean up their food. After cleaning up he rolled his giant suitcase out the door seeing Zulema struggling with her small one behind him. ”Give me this…” he smiled taking it from her.
”Oh..okay Superman.” she laughed at him.
”God, quit flirting.” Phil exclaimed.
”Sorry.” she laughed getting in the car. They got to the airport just as rush hour in Los Angeles started. Zulema sighed as she handed the security guard her bags.
”Z?” Bruno asked her.
”Yeah?” she stood next to him as they waited for everyone else.
”Do they always look at you like that?” he asked her.
”Like what?” she asked.
”The guy…he like looked over your bag like it was suspicious.” Bruno said.
”I don’t even notice it anymore.” she answered.
”Oh…okay…but….that’s weird.” he answered.
”It’s really not. I am Arabic.” she told him. ”I’m just used to it. Just be glad I’m not wearing a hijab.”
”What’s that?” he asked her.
”That…” she said pointing to an Arabic family including a traditionally dressed mother with her hair covered. ”And look at how people are looking at them…” she sighed.
”That sucks…” he replied squeezing her tightly was they walked through the front of the airport to security. ”I’m glad you’re here, Z. I missed you.” he said leaning into her.
”I missed you too…” she told him nearing the front of security.
”Miss…one of the Security guards looked at Zulema catching them both off guard. ”You’re one of our random checks…” he said. ”Please come with me…” he said pointing to a body scanner.
”Can’t we switch dpots? I’ll do it…” Bruno suggested.
”No, I’m sorry.” the security guard said leading her away.
”That’s bs.” Kameron said behind them.
”I know it…take the black guy…” Dwayne answered as they watched her take off the jewelry she was wearing placing it in the basket. She looked down as she stepped in the scanner walking out quickly. She took the jewelry from the basket standing at the other end of the airport. She smiled at Bruno as he walked through the normal procedure.
”Z? Are you okay?” he asked taking her hand walking in front of the rest of his band.
”I’m fine.” she answered hiding the tears that were welling up in her eyes. She had been looked at that way for so long but being embarrassed in front of her boyfriend and his friends was something she had never gone through. Bruno stopped her pulling her to the side. He wrapped his arms around her hugging her tightly. ”I’m sorry….” he whispered in her ear feeling tears fall onto his shirt. He lifted her head up to wipe the tears off her cheek.
”I’m sorry.” she told him.
”Zulema…don’t ever say anything like that again…” he said running his fingers through her long hair. ”Come on…let’s go. That won’t ever happen again when you’re with me.”