After everyone made their way back up to the VIP section of the club Bruno introduced the
group to those that he was closet to. Those who had not met her were gracious and could see that
Bruno was excited about her.
She was handed a drink to replace her broken drink and sat down in between Bruno and Lindsay
who was still in shock as to who her friend was dating. “Did they clean-up my mess? I’m sorry I
broke the glass…” she said to him.
“Marla…if I had to apologize for all the stupid things I did when I drank I would never stop
The other girls had been lost to the crowd and the only other people left on the couch were close
friends who knew Bruno well enough to ignore the conversation that the two were having. He
slid her as close to him as possible and kissed her. She stopped mid kiss and grabbed her small
purse and grabbed a piece of Big Red gum.
“Here…” she handed it unwrapped to him and kissed him back.
He held her back as she wobbled on her heels toward her car. Fiona held the keys to Marla’s car.
“I want to take off my shoes. My feeeet hurrrrrtttt.” She whined.
“When you get in the car, Marley.” Bruno said to her as he held on to her for balance as well.
There were several people watching them. It was past 2:30 in the morning with people leaving.
“Bruno, I’m taking your hat with meeeee. If I can’t see you for a month I’m taking this with me.”
Marla grabbed the hat off the top of his head, and put it on her head as she slid into her backseat
of her car with her friend Lindsay next to her. He bent down to kiss her good night. She grabbed
him to bring him in the car with her. “Come with meeeee. Pleaaasssseee.” she exclaimed.
He breathed every last second with her as she pleaded with him. He knew that he had to be on a
plane to Sydney the next morning. “I have to go, baby. No hay nadie mas.”
She let him go slowly and watched him start to walk away. “¿Me promotes?” She asked him.
“Of course….Good night ladies.” He walked away without his hat with his body guard behind
him. Several girls were watching the events and stomped away knowing that there was another
girl that he was interested in now.
“Marla…he lovvveeesss you!” Whitney screamed as they drove away from the night’s
“I lovveeee him toooooo.” she said loudly, and drunkenly.
Several weeks later Marla had become accustomed to random text messages, voicemails and the
The radio she had loved since her youth had become almost painful to listen to with Just the Way
You Are, Grenade and now The Lazy Song on heavy rotation. She popped in her ipod and
cranked up the sound. She slowly forgot about the time and space between the two of them.
Bruno, on the other hand, was so busy with music, promotion and his world that he hardly had
any time to sleep. But, when he wasn’t busy with those, or with his band, he thought of her. And
it drove him crazy. He wondered what she was doing, what she smelled like, what her hair
looked like, what she was thinking about, what she was thinking too hard about…he opened his
computer and started typing…
Marla opened the door to her office. She smiled widely at the office secretary that she had just
recently started to get to know. Her name was Taylor, she was 22 and going to a community
college to complete her basics. She was also an incredible artist. Taylor’s radio was on. Of
course it would be KROQ. Just the Way You Are was playing. “Marla! Don’t you adore this
song? I’d kill to have this guy sing this to me.”
“Yeah..uh, huh. I would too.” She smiled a painful smile and glanced down at her phone wishing
he would interrupt the painful conversation.
“I don’t believe you, Marla…what’s wrong?” she asked.
“Oh nothing. Just boys.” she said headed toward her office. She plopped in her desk chair,
moved her mouse and glanced at her phone again. She needed to hear his real voice. Not that
same song, over and over and over and over again. She needed to see his face, his brown eyes
and to taste his cinnamon kisses. She didn’t know if she could handle it much longer. I have
work to do. There are kids that need my help. I can get through it. I have a few more days. I can
do it. It’s the last few miles of a marathon. “I can do it.” she said out loud.
“You can do what?” the organization’s lawyer walked by perplexed by her thought process.
“I can finish these case manager notes. They’re out of control….” she waved her hands above
her head to indicate how much work she had to do to indicate she wasn’t crazy.
“Get ‘em girl!” He said as he continued to walk past her office. He crossed paths with her office
“Hola, love! How are you today?”
“Waiting for a phone call…” she told her.
“Girl…I’d wait by the phone all day if I knew he was calling. I’ll wait with you…” she smiled at
“But I’m so sick of waiting…I know it’s only been a few weeks…but it’s been forever.”
The girls laughed and started to type away, answering phone calls and working on case manager
notes. Around 12:30 Cristina and Marla’s supervisor walked in with a pile of flowers in her
hands. “Marla, I had no idea you had a secret admirer. It came with a CD in it too. An amazing
playlist? Let’s listen to it!”
“Wait! Let me read the note first!” Marla grabbed the flowers, which looked incredibly exotic to
“Hi – I know you’ll get this at work. Listen to numbers 3 and 4 there. But 1 and 2 are just
“We can listen to 3 and 4...” she told them as she grabbed the CD from her supervisor. They
popped it in and a familiar tune came on. “Cheese….” Marla exclaimed. It was the live version
of Just the Way You Are. She actually never had heard the song performed. There was
something different about the live version. It was special. She knew it was for her. Grab ‘em real
tight …I’ll be that special someone… She wrapped her arms around herself as she felt a chill
down her spine. She pressed the forward button to here the next song. She knew it wasn’t
written about her or had anything to do about her, but nonetheless it made her smile. Talking to
the Moon was just so heartfelt.
“Were those both from Bruno Mars? And live?” asked Taylor who had gathered all the staff into
“Yeah. They were both him. I think live…” Marla said as she sniffed. She tried not to cry. It was
the voice she missed so much.
“Your boy knows a love song when he hears one…” an AmeriCorp intern at the door interjected.
“Oh, I know he does. It was really sweet. Can we get back to work now, y’all? He’s sweet. I got
lucky. Too bad he won’t be in town for another week. Blah blah blah, sad face, Marla misses her
“Wait, where is he?” an older case manager asked. Marla wasn’t sure if she was ready to tell
everyone who she was dating. But, she knew where she worked that confidentiality was of the
utmost importance. She could trust these people.
“That’s him.” she said.
“Don’t lie!” a fellow MSW student yelled at her. “Wait…how did you meet him? He’s been out
of the country for months?”
“Marla! What the hell? You have star power you’ve been hiding from us?” he supervisor
exclaimed. Marla knew that the only thing she was thinking of was getting him to a fundraiser.
“He already supports his sister’s charity, like a lot. That’s how I met him. He performed and did
the red carpet at the Mama Earth fundraiser. We met there. End of story.”
She told her co-workers about him and his story. It took them the rest of the day to realize that
he’s just a short, half Hawaiian and Puerto Rican that happened to sing. It took Taylor the
longest to fall for her story. It was basically a list of turn-offs. It was hard, but she ran through,
short, he smokes, he has curly hair, he doesn’t speak Spanish even though he’s half Puerto Rican,
he drinks too much, he’s a rabid flirt and finally his idea of breakfast is fruit-loops. She didn’t
bother to mention that his incredible kindness, understanding, ability to make her smile, love of
family, desire to learn, and to love everything around him.
Marla put her flowers in the car and grabbed the CD. She was beyond eager to hear the first two
songs on the CD that he had made for her. Then her phone vibrated.
“Don’t listen to that in your car. Don’t do it! Listen to it in the kitchen.”
“What? The fuck?” She grabbed her phone and started to dial it.
He picked up the phone by greeting her, “How was work gorgeous?”
“You’re such a creeper! I was putting the CD in the car when you texted me! Are you in the
parking lot? Really?” she over reacted a bit. He had come to do that with him.
“No, We’re at the airport…can’t you hear it?” he asked her.
“Oh….you’re right …. I can. I guess it was just ridiculous timing.” she laughed.
“Marla…I really miss you.” he said quietly to her.
“I miss you too.” she responded as she started to drive away.
“We’re boarding, Marley…I need to go. I will call you. I miss you. I…I love you.”
“I love you too, Bruno. Have a safe flight.”
Marla sat her purse on the couch in her apartment and grabbed her CD player that sat on the
kitchen counter. She popped out the Juanes CD and placed the black CD in. She pressed play and
heard the familiar guitar. She started to listen to the words:
Just take my hand, fall in love with me again
Let's runaway to the place
Where love first found us
Lets runaway for the day
Don't need anyone around us
When everything in love gets so complicated,
It only takes a day to change it.
What I have to say can't wait
All I need is a day
So let's runaway...
Let's runaway, just for the day
She slunk down in between two cabinets and started to cry. She hadn’t cried like this since one
of her track teammate’s died in a car accident her sophomore year of college. She cried so hard
that she couldn’t hear the second song that he sang to her. By the time she gathered herself
enough to listen to the CD she heard it spinning. It was done. “Damn..I missed it.” She got up,
grabbing a napkin wiping her eyes so she could see to press the back button. The second song
started. She listened and moved her head to the beat.
Maybe I'm a fool for speaking up but I don't mind
Cause a girl like you will come around like
Once in a million times
So what do I do?
Tell me what do I do
And the look that you are givin' me gives me hope to believe
So for you baby I'll change my ways I'll
Wear my heart on my sleeve
Got nothin' to lose
As the CD ended she glanced at the hat she stole from his head the last night they were together
on her coffee table. Her tears only ran harder and longer. She didn’t know if she could take the
distance any longer. It was really a killer. As she started to stand up, not able to really get it
together, another song started to play. She glanced over at the CD player and saw track number 9
playing. She turned it up and listened to him sing about distance. She laughed and cried at this
song in particular because it was incredible how he knew her so well. He knew she was thinking
that she could not deal with the distance anymore. He knew that she was sad, so he had to let her
know that he was too. He had to tell her that he was feeling it too.
After listening to Long Distance she realized that she needed to get away. She put on her shoes
and ran. She ran as long as far and as fast as she could. She didn’t stop until she couldn’t breathe
The last day of Marla’s marathon came. She rolled out of her bed, a bit sore from running so far
and so fast. She sucked it up by putting on a pair of jeans, a blue and red t-shirt and yellow heels
for her youth meeting that was to be held downtown. It was early June and beautiful day in Los
Angeles. Honestly, though, all Marla could think about was the 4 days that she would possibly
be able to see her boyfriend. He was finishing up his United States tour and was going to be in
town for the weekend and for two days after. After the meeting Marla had to facilitate a girl’s
youth meeting at the office with a co-worker. The topic of self-esteem was important to both coworkers
and the workshop went off without a hitch. After the 2 hour workshop the girls started
clean-up the workshop. Vanessa, Marla’s co-worker was on call that day. As they cleaned,
Vanessa, Marla’s co presenter received a phone call from a parent asking for assistance with a
child on her caseload. She excused herself for the rest of the day, leaving Marla alone in a large
conference room. She turned on the radio as she started to clean the room which was full of torn
magazines, glue, markers and binders. She started dancing around to forget her troubles. By the
time Lady Gaga’s Edge of Glory came on she had taken off her shoes and was dancing like a 5
year old. She flipped her head around toward the door when she heard a large familiar laugh.
“Oh…my…god.” She whispered. If she were to be caught be anyone in her office dancing it
would have to be her co-workers- not her boyfriend. “I thought you weren’t going to be here
“I’m superman.” he laughed again.
“You scared me!” she exclaimed.
“I didn’t mean to scare you. I just couldn’t wait to see you.”
“Awww.” She responded. She turned off the radio, walked toward the door to turn off the light
and motioned to him to walk out the door.
“Follow me…” she touched his hand walking toward her office. She introduced him to the legal
department who were less than impressed with him and then again walked him to Taylor who
had already gushed over him calling the office to tell her he was going to stop by to surprise
Marla. Taylor later told Marla that she didn’t believe it was him until he walked in the door.
Bruno followed Marla to her house where she got dressed for an impromptu dinner date. It was
the first one that he had planned for them. He told her not to say anything. Just to let him handle
it all. He was going to make her feel like “a star.” She wasn’t sure if she wanted that or not. She
had done a very good job at flying under the radar since all of this had started – nearly 5 months
ago. She put all her faith in whatever he had planned for her. He showed no sign of telling her his
“Telll meee where we’re goinnnnggggg!” She whined in the car as he started to drive into the
“I can’t. It just wouldn’t be fair.”
“Fair? How would it not be fair for me to not know where we are going? You know I hate these
games!” she pushed his arm that was sitting on the arm rest as they drove.
“I’m not telling you because when I tell you we’re going to Pinot you’re going to tell me that it’s
not a good idea, there will be too many people there, people will see us and that you don’t want it
to ruin my image.”
“Umm…yes. That’s exactly what I would say and exactly why we’re not going there.” She
crossed her arms and pointed her eyes at him as if she were mad. “You didn’t even tell me that
you were okay with people knowing we were dating. I was all James Bond about it. My coworkers,
very close friends and mom, dad and brother know. That’s it.”
Bruno didn’t tell her they were going to a place where paparazzi occasionally camp out in the
evenings because he knew she would have rationalized her way through the date and would end
up talking her way out of evening he had planned for them.
“Bruno….”she looked down as she said his name. He took her chin as he saw a tear come down
her left cheek. They were parked – with someone waiting to take the car from them. “This scares
me…and things don’t scare me.“
“Marla, you’re Superwoman. You can do this. Hold my hand....” he said.
“You won’t let go?” she questioned him.
“I won’t ever let you go.” he winked at her. He knew the cheesiness of the wink would make her
forget about all the pressure that she was under. She laughed at him and nodded her head in
agreement. He opened the door, handed the valet his tickets and came over to her side and took
“Ready, my lady?” he held out his warm hand to hers.
“Ready as I’ll ever be.” she held out her hand. It jumped a little as she stood up. Her finger
twitched in his hand. He squeezed her hand as tightly as possible. He remembered a story she
had told him about her fingers twitching – a small seizure she said. She explained that she was so
used to the twitches that she just shrugged them off. As they started to last more than 15 seconds,
though, she knew that she needed to take a break – lay down, go to sleep or wait to have a
seizure. She could help them stop by tensing her whole body- as a relaxation technique. She said
that her very first boyfriend – from high school (who knew her when she was younger) would
squeeze her hand when she asked him to keep the seizures away. She told Bruno that he didn’t
have to do that – again- she wasn’t into cheese – but deep down in his heart he knew that she was
a sucker for it. He squeezed her fingers and hand so tight that it made her flinch. “Thank you.”
she said softly in response to his squeeze as they walked toward the door.
They were near the door, but two paparazzi caught him. One asked him as he snapped a picture
of just Bruno, “Who are you out with tonight?”
He looked right at the photographer in the eye and said “Someone special.” He led her toward
the door. It was over.
The waitress welcomed them to the restaurant. “Hello, welcome to Pinot.”
“Two under Hernandez…” Bruno said politely.
The waitress glanced down at her sheet, clearly trained on ignoring celebrity encounters. “Right
this way Mr. Hernandez.” She led the couple to a small dimly lit area of the restaurant. She
handed Marla her menu with little emotion and then looked over at Bruno, wearing black skinny
jeans, a dark purple shirt underneath a grey checkered sweater. She gave him a flirty smile and
finished with, “Enjoy your dinner, Bruno. The waiter with be with you two shortly.”
“Thank you, Daphne.” he replied returning her smile. Marla kicked his shin as he completed his
sentence. “She has a nametag on, Marley.”
“Still.” Marla felt a twinge of jealousy she hadn’t felt before. She knew he was like that. It was
part of his infectious personality. She knew this. It was the first time, since the yellow dress
night, that she saw him use his charm in that way. She wasn’t sure if it was a turning point or if it
made her sad. As she was thinking he wrapped his foot around her ankle.
“Footsie? Are you 12?”
“Sometimes.” He answered her. He put up the menu, already knowing what he was going to
order trying not to laugh at how serious she was. Her personality was endearing, but at times it
just made him laugh at how serious she was. While he was looking at the menu she was writing
on a napkin. She slipped it to him.
“I can play that game too, Bruno.” She responded. He looked over the menu as she rolled up the
napkin and put it next to him and closed her eyes with embarrassment. He opened it and read it:
Do you like me (check yes or no)
Because I already checked yes.
She studied his reaction as he read the note written on a cocktail napkin. “I don’t have a pen to
“Then I guess you’re just going to have to tell her.” she looked him dead in the eye, twirled and
clicked her pen and smiled at him.
“I don’t know if I can. I’m too shy.” he gave Marla a sad face as he stared at the pen.
The waiter came up and introduced himself. After introducing the dinner and wine specials he
excused himself so Marla and Bruno could decide. She sighed heavily, still not sure what she
was going to order. She clicked the pen as she looked at the menu. Damnit. She’s not going to let
that pen go. I’m not going to win tonight. She’s got me wrapped around her finger And I love it.
They started to talk about where he had been for the past few weeks and what he loved, hated
and missed about being normal. He said he was starting to notice people noticing him more and
even though he knew it freaked her out, it freaked him out too. He said it to make her feel better,
but also to get it off his chest. He hadn’t told anyone that it was kind of scary to have people
want to be around him and only want to know him for the things that had happened within the
past few years. She rubbed his hand with her free hand to comfort him. If she was good at
anything it was listening and understanding. Celebrity problems weren’t her forte, but she knew
that all he needed was someone to listen to him talk about what was going on. He didn’t stop
talking throughout the dinner after he asked her if she was going to run the Rock ‘N Roll
Marathon. She explained the training for the half marathon which he was semi-interested in, but
then he went back to talking about some random small town and its truck stop that had the most
amazing slurpee ever. She enjoyed the small things that made him laugh. He made her happy.
She suddenly dropped the pen as he was talking with his hands to push her hair behind her ear.
He saw it fall from the corner of his eye.
“Damnit.” she whispered under her breath.
“Ha!” he laughed loudly. “I won!”
“Don’t check no! I’ll cry!” Marla responded as he started to write on the napkin.
Do you like me (check yes or no) LOVE
Because I already checked yes.
He wrinkled up the napkin and handed it back to her. “I think you’ll like the answer.” he told her.
He studied her in the same way she studied him as she read it.
“Aww.” She looked up at him giving him a “I’ll screw your brains out later tonight” look.
After finishing the meal they walked toward the door as they normally would, much in the way
they did on their very first date. It felt very new and fun to both of them. They made each other
happy. It was something Marla had not felt in a very long time and something Bruno had lost
some time ago. They had forgotten about their entrance, the photographers and that Marla had
expressed her concern about the dinner itself earlier in the evening as they stepped out the door
as two normal people.
As the door opened as they walked closer to the valet flashes started going off. She cringed. She
wasn’t holding his hand. Oh, shit. I forgot. What did I get myself into? Oh my god. Oh my god oh
my god, OH MY GOD. He doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t know what to do either. OH MY
GOD. My head hurts. My head. Things are going blue. And his head is white. Oh I need to sit
down. My hand…I can’t feel my hand