”Nana….you were his side hoe?” Miley asked.
”Woah..the language, Miley…” Noe called out her older sister.
”Nana…serious though…” Miley asked.
”Well…then I thought I was.” Zulema answered yawning.
”You can’t leave us like this, Nana…you have to finish the story before you fall asleep…” Miley poked at her grandmother.
”What are you three talking about?” Beatrice walked in taking a seat next to Nohua.
”She was telling us how she and grandpa got in a fight when they first started dating.” Noe answered.
”Did you know that Nana was Grandpa’s side hoe, mom?” Miley asked.
”I’ve heard the story, Miley….go ahead Z…tell ‘em the story…” Beatrice told her mother in law.
”Well…so…since I went to school in San Francisco I had invited a bunch of friends to the show so I decided to just forget about him for the night…” Zulema told them.
Bruno walked out of the dressing room adjusting his hat looking at the club trying to find where his friends were. He looked over to side seeing Zulema standing near a group of flashy dressed girls almost the same style she wore in New York City - skinny jeans, high heels and brightly highlighted hair with several piercings. She said she was going to invite people…he thought to himself. He walked over to her touching her on the side.
”Zulema…can we please talk about this?” he asked her quietly.
”What? I couldn’t hear you…the music…” she motioned to the speakers near her.
He grabbed her arm dragging her away from them. ”She’ll be right back…”
”That wasn’t very nice…my friends haven’t seen me in months…” she snapped at him as he sat her down near Phil and Ari. ”Okay…but serious…if we’re going to talk about this not around anyone…it has to be neutral…” she told him walking toward the open back door. ”Like here…” she said pointing to a bench.
”Z….it’s true what Libby said. We were still together. We were….but…” he stuttered.
”But what Bruno?” she asked him.
”I tried. I tried to fix the relationship. But she just stopped talking to me. I mean…you know I can get myself in trouble….” he smiled at her.
”And?” she was trying to understand where he was going with his statements.
”You know that feeling where you try and try and try and no matter what you do it just doesn’t work…not just with people…but things in general?” She nodded her head. ”There just wasn’t any point in trying anymore with her. I know I mess up sometimes…but she never let anything go. I think the day we finally decided that we were done she brought up something I did on our first date that bothered her. ”
”It still doesn’t make what you did with me right, Bruno. I feel like I was used to prove to you that the relationship was over…” she admitted. ”I don’t know if I can deal with being that person…”
”I’m sorry, Zulema…I didn’t mean for you to find out that way.” he told her.
”I’m sorry I had to find out that way too.” she said turning back to go back inside.
”Wait…” he pulled her back to where they were sitting. ”Ali and I…Zulema…it isn’t Ali and Bruno anymore…it’s Zulema and Bruno…it always will be.”
”Always huh?” she asked. ”I find that hard to believe….”
”Z…come on. I know this is going to be hard…” he said putting his hand on hers lifting it up to look at it. ”Can we try again?”
”First tell me about you and Alicia.” she said pulling her hand away from his.
”We dated for like 3 years…she’s in music too. She’s a writer and works with another team that Phil and I have worked with too. We met that way. But, Z…everyone saw it coming. She was working in LA and I was doing all of this…I tried not to see it all….I think I was in denial of the whole thing until I met you…you made me see that I needed to be with someone that was more positive, caring, less serious, and…well everything she wasn’t.”
”I still don’t know how that’s supposed to make me feel better…” she answered him.
”Z…can we start over again?” he asked her.
”What do you mean?” she asked him.
”Like forget everything that happened in the last 10 months?” he asked her.
”Like everything?” she asked.
”Every single thing.” he told her. ”Going back to the day we met.”
”But I liked that day…” she told him. ”It was all fairytale and everything. I liked remembering that I met you that way.”
”Okay..fine..but everything after that day….and we start right now. You’re with your friends and I’m with mine. And that’s it…” he replied.
”And you’re single and I’m single? None of this I’m going to break up with her bullshit?” she responded.
”I’m single and you’re single..well until I take you home tonight…because you’re kind of sharing the room with me…” he told her touching her necklace.
”:I could always go home with Molly…” she smiled at him.
”Not after I’m finished with you tonight.” he winked at her.
”Shut up!” she laughed at him grabbing the collar of his denim vest to have him kiss her.
”That was a better first kiss anyway.” he told her turning around to walk away.
”Where are you going?” she asked him.
”To get you a drink so you get really drunk and really forgive me.” he told her. ”Because I know you’re still mad at me.”
”Damn. You’re right.” she said following him back into the room. He grabbed her by the waist kissing the top of her head.
”You’ll forgive me someday.” he whispered to her making her tingle.
”So you were!” Miley exclaimed.
”Miley..come on. Give your grandmother a break. She didn’t know.”
”Shoot, Grandpa was a player.” Noe told them.
”He was a player and a heartbreaker.” Zulema answered. ”Okay..I’m tired…and I hate falling asleep on the couch while everyone else is talking. Someone help me to bed.”
Noe walked through the big wooden doors of the assisted living facility on a Thursday afternoon seeing only one person at the front desk. ”Where is everyone, Sarah?” she asked.
”Oh…Nohua…check your phone..” she said in a soft tone. She signed the name on the sign in sheet holding her phone in her hand to see a text message from her mother.
”Is she okay? Please tell me she’s okay!” Noe said running to her grandmother’s room where a large group of people were standing.
”Where’s my grandmother?” she exclaimed running toward her aunt who was sitting next to her mother. ”Elisa…what happened?” she asked holding back the tears.
”She’ll be okay…” Elisa told her niece.
”I’ll be fine, Nohua…” her grandmother said in a weak tone.
”Mrs. Hernandez…we’re taking you to the hospital…” a med tech said to her as they lifted up the bed she was laying on to roll her out of the room.
”Nana…” Noe grabbed her grandmother’s hand walking on the other side of the bed with her aunt.
”Come with me, Noe…” her aunt said pulling her toward her Land Rover. ”Let’s follow them. You can come and get your car when we leave…”
”Elisa…is she going to be okay?” Noe asked her aunt as they drove to the hospital.
”I hope so, honey.” she answered grabbing her phone. ”I’m on my way….I know…Noe is with me….uhuh…alright.” she hung up the phone speaking to her son.
They ran into the hospital seeing other family members including Noe’s dad and Elisa’s sons waiting. They didn’t say anything to each other standing at the elevator waiting to go upstairs.
”Shit…I’m sorry..” her cousin Jake said quietly.
”Holy shit, Jake. That’s gross dude.” Noe said in response to the smell making everyone laugh. ”Get out…” she yelled at him as the elevator opened. They heard yelling coming from down the hall knowing it was Zulema.
”Mom!” Noe’s dad ran into the room to stop her from yelling.
”I just told them that I don’t have my clothes. I need my clothes! The bruising will stop….Fuck…stop touching me…” she yelled at a nurse.
”Nana…I’ll get you your clothes..will you just sit down….please…” Noe stepped forward to see her grandmother.
”Nohua..I need my things….and I need my husband.” she snapped.
”Mom…you know dad can’t come..” Elisa told her mother.
”Get him here….” she demanded.
”Mom….we can’t…you know he can’t come…” her father answered.
”Dad…can’t he just come for a few minutes tomorrow?” Noe asked. ”Please?”
”It’s too….” her father answered.
”Get him here, damnit!” Zulema yelled back.
Noe pulled out her phone digging through it to find her grandfather’s phone number. ”I’ll be right back…” she said to her family.
”Jenna…can I talk to Bruno Hernandez, please?” she asked the receptionist.
”Oh…Ms. Hernandez…it’s well past time for him to be accepting phone calls….you know we don’t let them on the phone past 5…it’s 9 now….” Jenna reiterated the rules.
”It’s an emergency. My grandmother is hurt and she needs him….she’s yelling and screaming and won’t stop…” Noe said scared about what was happening.
”Nohua…give me a few minutes to find the nurses. Maybe we can wake him.
Jenna got up from the desk opening the secured door to go to Bruno’s room. As she was walking she saw the overnight nursing staff huddled in corner.
”Is this about Bruno?” she asked.
”It is…why?” one of the nurses asked.
”He is demanding to speak to his wife. He says she’s been hurt and needs her. He needs to leave and be with her.” the younger nurse answered.
”I have her on the phone. She’s in the hospital.” Jenna answered.
”Transfer the call to us. We’ll let him talk to her for a few minutes.” the charge nurse told them.
Jenna ran up to the front of the building to speak to Nohua. ”Ms. Hernandez…I’m transferring the call to you.”
”Oh my gosh..thank you so much…” Noe said running into the room. ”Nana…Grandpa’s on the phone…”
Zulema’s shaky hands grabbed the phone. She held the phone to her ear hearing Bruno’s voice. She sat and listened to him for a few minutes without saying anything. She stated to cry as he spoke to her.
”He’s singing to her, Noe…” her dad told his daughter.
”Like you do?” Noe asked.
”Yeah.” he answered.
”Okay, Bruno. I love you and miss you. Please come and see me Good night…” she said ending the call handing the phone to her granddaughter. ”Noe…I want to tell you what happened in San Francisco…”
”We’ll leave you the keys to my car, Noe…” her dad said leaving the room with his sisters and nephews.
”Nana…tell me what happened…” Noe asked sliding an uncomfortable chair near her grandmother holding her frail hand.
”So we went back into the club…” she told her granddaughter.
Bruno drug Zulema to the club toward her friends.
”Is everything okay, Z?” her old roommate Molly asked.
”Yeah. Everything is fine.” she answered holding onto Bruno’s arms.
”And we still haven’t met this stunning piece of man….” her flamboyantly gay friend Rob said.
”Oh…yeah.” she smiled squeezing him. ”This is Bruno Mars.” he bowed smiling as he lifted his head to them.
”You’re going to be so famous, dude.” Molly’s boyfriend Brad told them.
”Didn’t you know I already am?” he asked them with a laugh.
”Yeah. He’s a billionaire.” Zulema told them.
”Well, maybe I have a hundred dollars now. But one day.” he told them taking a sip of his drink. They sat and talked and laughed the rest of the night. By 3 in the morning Zulema was as drunk as she had promised him she would be. They walked out onto the street with her stumbling all over him.
”Brunooooo…” she whined. ”My feeettt hurt. The only way to make it better is to wear your hat.” she said grabbing it.
”Okay, If you say so Z. Z..you’re a pretty fun drunk.” he told her walking down the street holding her with one hand and smoking a cigarette with another.
”What? And I’m not fun when I’m not?” she asked mocking him.
”No…that’s not what I said, Z. I just think you’re extra fun drunk.” he told her throwing the cigarette to the side digging in his pocket for a piece of gum as they walked into the hotel.
”Oh god…Bruno…I think I’m gonna puke…the shots…the shots..they were too much…” she told him.
”Hang in there babe, I’ll get you to the room in a second.” he told her stumbling on her feet.
”The room is spinning…it’s like fucking Disney up in here…” she told him leaning against the wall. ”Brunnoooo…”
”Hang on, sexy. Let me get the door…” he told her sliding the key card into the door dragging her behind him.
“No…really….nooooo….” she ran into the bathroom throwing herself near the toilet. ”Oh my god….”
”Z? Are you okay?” he asked her seeing her long hair falling toward the floor.
”I’ll be fine in a few minutes….” she said throwing herself back to her starting position. ”Oh my godddd….”
”Z….here…” he handed her a bottle of water and a granola bar.
”Oh…nooo…I can’t eat yet…I’d throw it up again.” she told him.
”Fine. But you’re missing out.” he said taking a bite of his own granola bar watching her turn her head again to puke. ”You never cease to be sexy, Zulema.” he told her.
”Get out. Quit being like that.” she told him looking up with her white face taking a sip of water.
”Come on, Z…let’s go to bed…” he said taking her hand. ”But first…brush your teeth..that’s not sexy…” he handed her a toothbrush grabbing one for himself. Zulema splashed her face with water grabbing some face wash she brought with her. Eww. Without make-up? She thought to herself putting the towel back down. But…fuck it…she grabbed the towel wiping her face. Bruno turned to her to see her dark brown eyes and red flushed cheeks.
”Come on, sexy. Let’s go to bed.” he smiled at her running his hands through his hair.
”Let me change first…” she told him throwing her clothes on the floor. She grabbed a sleeveless shirt with a pair of red cotton shorts. She turned to see Bruno watching her.
”What are you thinking?” she asked him.
”How bad of a hangover you’re going to have tomorrow.” he laughed pulling her into the bed wrapping his arms around her.
”This wasn’t that bad of a first date, Bruno.” she told him closing her eyes falling asleep instantly.