Bruno didn’t even ask her what was wrong. He grabbed her and held her tightly. He didn’t let go. He rubbed her back and whispered, “I’m here for you, Arissa. Always.” Her head fell to his shoulder. He felt the wet tears on his shirt.
“Get a room you two!” they heard Anna and Diego yell at them from the bar. He ignored them as he let her cry. He lifted her head off of his shoulder to see her make-up was completely gone – now on his shirt. Her face was red but he didn’t know what to say to her. She was still such a mystery.
“I’m sorry. I need to go…” she said turning around to Anna.
“Arissa….don’t leave me again….please, don’t leave….” he pleaded with her as her hand slipped away. “We don’t have to….it was something dumb….I….”
“I can’t…it’s too…too…I just can’t.” Arissa said as she started to cry again.
“Please, sweetheart. I want to know everything. Please talk to me….” he walked towards her. He could see her body tense up. It was so relaxed since they were together yesterday. He thought he had found her. I had her. Where did she go? She’s gone. She shook her head saying no.
“Not now. Not now. It’s too much. I can’t.” she said wiping away her tears. They were near the bathroom by this point. Natalia walked past them headed to the bathroom.
“What did he do to you, Arissa? I’ll kick his ass.” she said handing Arissa her purse.
“He didn’t do anything.” she responded looking at his sad face. She didn’t know if she was ready to tell him everything. She wasn’t sure if he would be hers after, if he would understand it all. Come upstairs with me…he mouthed as Natalia looked at Arissa. “Okay…”
He took her hand barely touching her leading her upstairs. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow, Natalia…”
“I’m sorry, Bruno…” she said once they got on the elevator.
He kissed on the cheek squeezing her hand so hard she could hardly feel it. It was perfect.
“My lady…” he said opening the door for her.
“Do you have allergies”: he asked as they walked in. She sat on his bed laughing at his comment. “I recognize those tears, baby doll.” He sat down next to her putting his jacket on her. She smelled it as he wrapped it around her gently.
“I didn’t want you to see me like this. It’s embarrassing. No one has ever seen me cry like that.”
“Why? It’s okay to cry like that.” he told her.
“I’m strong, I’m independent, I’m fearless, I know who I am. I know what I want to do with my life. I don’t need anyone else in my life to support me. I can take care of myself…and then I do that? That’s not what a girl who knows those things does.” she explained.
“Rissy…everyone needs someone…why would you say you don’t need anyone? You have so many people that care about you….”
“You know what I mean, Bruno I don’t need a boyfriend, a husband, a significant other, a…whatever…I can do it all on my own. Be fancy, have the time of my life, be born this way….” she started to cry again.
“Your strength amazes me, Arissa. I don’t understand why you don’t think you need anyone by your side…”
“Bruno…” she got quiet. “Every time I try to get close to someone it hurts. I get hurt. It’s too hard.”
“When did you decide that?” he asked her.
“January nd.” she responded bluntly.
“What happened on January nd?”
“Robert raped me.”
“Arissa!” he was shocked. He held her tightly as she cried in his arms. “Rissy, I’m sorry that happened. There’s not a right thing to say. I can’t change what happened to you. But I’m here to protect you, always. I want to make you all better.” he kissed her head. She stopped crying lifting her head to tell him the story.
“All he said was baby, baby, baby, oh, baby, the whole time. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life, Bruno. I’m sorry…”
“Why are you sorry, Risa? Why in the world would you be sorry? Why?” he was shocked by her reaction.
“Because, because…I let it happen …I could have stopped it. I could have just left. But I let him. And I still talk to him. I still see him…” It was the first time she had said all of this out loud. It was somewhat relieving.
“Arissa Eve Henderson. You did not do anything wrong. He is the most disgusting person in the world. If I ever see him, he will have no idea what is coming.” Damn. He found my middle name when he looked at my license.
“Bruno, no….he’s just a jerk. That’s all. It was a mistake. That’s it.”
“No person, big, small, tall, short, fat, skinny, smart, dumb, black or white is ever going to hurt my future wife…” he said smiling at her.
She awed in response to his sincerity, even if she wasn’t going to marry him. She could tell that she wasn’t just a random girl anymore. He meant everything he said to her.
“You know I’m not going to marry you right now…” she told him.
“Not after tonight….” he kissed the tears away from her cheek. She laughed as he ran his fingers under her shirt tickling her stomach.
“Is that so, Mr. Mars?”
He didn’t answer as he continued to touch all over her body. She kissed his neck running her fingers through his thick curly hair. He lifted her shirt above her head throwing off his fedora that was on her head. “Sorry…” she said to him.
He put his ring finger on her lips insisting that she be quiet. “Let me take care of everything.” He laid her on the unmade bed – throwing his blackberry and shoes on the floor.
“Owww.” she cried, pulling out a guitar pick from the sheet. He kissed the hand that held the guitar pick, took it from her hand carefully throwing it near his shoes. He watched her bra strap fall down her shoulder without his help. He looked up at her, bit his lip in anticipation and then followed the fallen bra straps on her breasts. He kissed them softly and then moved his hands all over her stomach, this time making sure to make her laugh. “Bruno! stop! That is so not okay! I’m going to kick you and it’ll hurt!” she said loudly. He didn’t respond to her. His hands stayed on her stomach, but his lips moved farther down towards her thighs. Wow. Her legs are so hot. I want to be in them all day. All night….He urgently removed her pink underwear feeling her relax again. .”Bru…..please….:oh…..” She pulled him up toward him insisting that they be together. He answered by pressing against her. His finger tips touched her face as her fingers dug into his back again. She bit her lip so hard it started to bleed. Oh my god. Oh my god, Oh my god. :”Call me Mrs. Hernandez, Bruno.” she whispered in his ear. Nailed it, he thought to himself.
“Here put this on, baby doll…” he threw her purple t-shirt and his Nike shorts.
“Thank you.” she ran into the bathroom in her bra and underwear to get dressed.
“Oh, I smell so bad, Bruno…:” she lifted up her arm to smell her armpit.
“Take a shower then!” he told her.
“Give me like 10 minutes.” she told him.
She closed the door looking at his toothpaste, tooth brush, after shave and cologne. She leaned in to smell the cologne. “Mmm…that smells good. I’ll put it on after.” She took a quick shower putting on his clothes, careful to savor the smell. Even though he smoked his clothes didn’t smell the way she remembered her friends who smoked. The shirt and pants smelled sweet, clean, and nondescript. Perfect. She grabbed a bit of the cologne and wandered back out into the bedroom. He was sitting on the bed on his computer.
“What are you doing?” she asked sitting next to him. He wrapped his arm around her as she read the Word document.
“Let me sing it to you…” he sang her a song about taking control, about being strong, about being confident.
“I get it!” she said punching him in the side. “It’s not done yet…wait until it’s done.” he said kissing her wet hair.
“I smell worse than you do. I need to take a shower, Rissy. Go to sleep. I’ll be back in 5 minutes…”
“Okay….” she said getting under the covers. He kissed her on the cheek walking toward the bathroom.
He laid down next to her after his shower wrapping his arms around her waist. He glanced at the clock seeing that it was only 1 am. Damn. It’s still early. But this is so perfect. And she’s sound asleep.
“Good night Arissa Eve…” he whispered to her.
“Good morning Peter Gene.” she responded.
Arissa wrapped her arms around his waist not letting go. “Don’t go away….” she whispered running her fingers through his hair.
“I will see you in a month, Rissy.” he said softly.
“But it’s not soon enoughhh….” she whined.
“Be strong and then we’ll runaway together, Arissa.” he wiped a single tear away from her cheek. “Don’t cry…”
“I’m not…” she laughed.
“You are!” he yelled at her.
“Okay..maybe a little.”
He squeezed her tightly “I love you. “ he told her kissing her lightly.
“Arissa! We have to go! Come on chicky!” Natalia yelled at her from across the room.
“Okay! Okay! I’m coming.”
“I love you, Bruno!” she reached up to kiss him and ran off.
“Umm, bye, Arissa!” he yelled as she ran off wrapping her arms around Natalia and Diego.
“Damn, bro, you even got her crying n shit.” Eric walked up next to him to watch Arissa and her friends get into the car to go to the airport.
“She’s got me crying too, E.” he sighed as they turned around walking towards their bags.
“Don’t do anything stupid, Bruno. You’re too busy. You know you can’t do that to her…”
“There’s something different about her, Eric. I think she’s got what it takes.”
Eric shook his head in disbelief walking with his younger brother.
“Please don’t tell me you told him you loved him, Rissy.” Natalia told her on the plane.
“I didn’t he said it first.”
“Oh my god! Arissa Henderson. You are not going to do this.” Anna grabbed her arm and shook it.
“What am I not going to do? He’s so….so…I don’t know if I can put into words.”
“And what the hell was that drama downstairs last night?” Natalia asked taking a sip of water.
“Oh. It was nothing. Really.” she shrugged looking out the window.
“Oh bullshit, senorita. You cried like that when we watched the Notebook. Those were ugly tears – like he someone just died tears.”
“Nothing happened! I swear to you. The trip was perfect…” she continued to stare out the window.
“Did you tell him about Robert?”
“I bet that’s what it is! She told him about Robert and that he was horrible in bed!” Anna said loudly.
“Shut up! There are children on this plane!” Arissa yelled back at her.
“No. That’s not what it was about…” Bruno was the first person she had told about the rape. It was a huge relief to get it off her shoulders, but she still didn’t want to tell her friends. It still stung too much. Even though she understood what he had said about it not being her fault, she still felt as though it was somewhat her fault. She still felt that night – even though she should have been feeling Bruno.
Arissa laid down on her bed looking at her black and pink suitcase.
“I need you to unpack yourself…” she said out loud. “I’m too tired….but I don’t think that’s going to happen…so…” she hopped up turning on her ihome unzipping the suitcase. After throwing things in the hamper, putting away make-up and hair accessories she dug into the bottom of the few items that were still clean. “Wow…I think I might have overpack….” a small velvet box fell out of folded pair of jeans. This guy…he doesn’t stop. Her phone vibrated as she picked up the box. “Oh shit!” she screamed. She picked it up seeing the text “You are beautiful.” It vibrated again. “They say we’re compatable…” She responded with, “You spoiled it. I didn’t get a chance to open it yet.” She opened the box to see a sparkling silver heart shaped emerald and diamond interwoven together. Arissa touched it to see if it was real….”Is that a real diamond?” she texted him. Her phone vibrated with the response, “Why wouldn’t it be?” “I don’t know, Bruno….” she responded. Their texting continued for the next few hours. She ended up finishing unpacking and changed into her pajamas. She laid down in her bed with her phone in her hand. “Bruno…I need to go to work tomorrow.” “I do too. So what?” “I need to sleep!” “Good night sleepy, head.” he told her. “Good morning, Bruno.”
“He’s coming here!” she told her mother and sister at the table. Their usual Sunday dinner had turned from normal to extraordinary as they asked about the last few weeks. Arissa had always been somewhat outgoing, meeting new people wherever she went, but boys were not her specialty. When she finally told them the original reason for the trip to Las Vegas they were astounded. First, her little sister Camille thought she was crazy wanting more proof than just the necklace and ring she had with her.
“I need pictures, or his sweat or something.”
“He smells like fresh cut grass and cinnamon.” she said pulling out her phone. She flipped through the phone to get to the text messages. She showed her all the “You are beautiful” text messages he sent her. One for every day they were apart.
“Really? Every day, sissy”
“I know. Every single day. “
“Aww, that’s so cute…” her mother Nora responded.
“I know it….” Arissa blushed.
“Come and get me baby doll!” he screamed into the phone.
“I’ll be there in two minutes!” Arissa turned on her car and pulled out of her parking spot. She had just pulled into the cell phone waiting area at the airport. Damn, traffic was horrible. Arissa drove quickly, but safely to the lonely terminal where she saw him wearing a denim jacket, black t-shirt, green shorts and boat shoes. “Oh my god.” He was looking down at his cell phone when she pulled up right next to him.
“Your car is ready…” she rolled down her window asking him to get in. She opened her door and ran to him. She practically jumped on him. “I missed yoouuu soooo much!” she said wrapping her arms around his neck holding him tightly. He buried his head in her hair taking in her mango shampoo.
“I missed you too, sweetheart.” he said kissing her quickly.
“Ohh, that’s sweet,” a teenager said walking past them with her suitcase toward the entrance of the terminal.
“I want that…and him…” her friend said with her.
“Doesn’t he kind of look like Bruno Mars?” the first girl whispered.
“Yeah…he kind of does, doesn’t he?” the first one responded.
“Get in my car…now…” she told him taking his hand leading him to the passenger seat.
During the twenty minute drive to her apartment she pointed out places that she loved and places she hated – the mall, restaurants, the gym, schools, and some businesses. He looked at her in the evening light the whole time. She is so beautiful. Her voice drives me crazy. I missed her so much. He touched her hand that was sitting on the arm rest moving his fingers around hers. He picked up her hand kissing the tips of her fingers.
“You don’t have your nails painted? What happened? That was sexy as hell.” he noticed.
“I bite my nails. They chipped real fast. I painted my toes though.”
“Oh..you’re so fancy, Arissa.” he smiled at her
“Well, I try.”
“You don’t need to try, Arissa…” he said kissing her on the cheek as she pulled into a parking space.