Marla woke up on his couch. She pushed tears from her eyes and kicked her legs from out from
underneath her. “Owww.” she stretched while opening her eyes to see him standing at his
kitchen which had been cleaned. Actually, his whole house was unpacked this time. When he
realized that she was awake he came over to her with an Advil and a bottle of water.
“I called your mom. She said this is what you need after you have a seizure.”
“It is. Thank you.” He handed her the glass and medicine. He watched her intently as she
finished the drink and popped the pill. “What happened? I don’t remember anything after you
took the pen from me.”
“It scared me…” he explained with tears in his eyes. “It was the flashes, Marla…They were
waiting for someone else and we happened to be there. Since we were there they tried to get a
picture of us. We had such a great evening that we forgot about them. And then they were just
there. And I didn’t have you. You were behind me. I told you to smile and for me to talk. It was a
lot like when we walked in. But then, as they started asking a lot of questions and the flashes got
closer your hand got really light. I couldn’t feel it. So I told them that I thought it was enough. I
sat you down and you started talking about school and having to go back to school. It wasn’t
anything we had talked about. I was scared. Your eyes weren’t there- like they were gone like
last time. Then the car came. I got you home in like 10 minutes. And then you started seizing.
You did hit your should on the table and I think you bit your tongue pretty hard. You were
crying. I laid you on the ground like you told me to. I sat next to you the whole time. It wasn’t
long. Maybe like 5 minutes. Marla….I won’t let that happen to you again. Ever.”
“Bruno…can you hand me my medicine? It’s in the cell phone pocket of my purse.” she asked
him. “I just want to make sure I don’t forget it.” He handed it to her and again watched her take
it. “I’m going to call the doctor in the morning. I haven’t ever had a photosensitive reaction.”
“I think that’s a good idea.” He told her. She laid down her head on his shoulder and closed her
“Go to sleep, baby. “ He kissed her forehead and wrapped his arms around her.
Marla cracked her eyes open and turned to him, “Bruno…I can’t stay, I don’t have any clothes.”
“Marla, do you really think I didn’t think of that? I packed clothes for you while you were
getting dressed at your house. They’re in my room. Go to sleep, crazy lady.” he rubbed her
shoulders and kissed her head gently. She closed her eyes again. “I love you, Marla Gonzales.”
“I love you, Peter Hernandez.” she whispered.
Somehow Marla ended up in his bed, in the same purple and white v neck shirt she had on the
last time she was at his house. She was, however, wearing her own pajama bottoms. She
wondered out loud how she ended up in his shirt but her bottoms. It was 6:23 in the morning. He
wasn’t next to her like he was the last time she was at Bruno’s house. But, she did hear music in
the kitchen indicative of someone being downstairs. She brushed her teeth with the pink tooth
brush that remained in the house.
Bruno heard the water running and headed toward the bathroom to greet her. “Good morning,
Sunshine!” he smiled.
“Good morning, Bruno.” she replied to the mirror. He was right behind her about to kiss her
neck. She didn’t stop him, even though she did not feel confident in her appearance at that very
moment. She turned around to face him, looking into his eyes, smiling.
“Thank you for taking care of me last night.” she did that thing to his ear that he couldn’t resist.
He moved her chin toward her to kiss her the way he wanted to kiss her after dinner. It was a
long, genuine passionate kiss. “Ohh, my.” she breathed. “Oh….what…what’s that smell?”
“Oh shit!” they both ran to the kitchen where they found burnt cinnamon rolls in the oven.
“Darn it.” he shrugged at the burnt cinnamon rolls on the counter as she poured herself orange
“It’s the journey, Bru. You’ll get it.” she laughed at his attempt at making breakfast for them.
She took the cinnamon rolls from the pan and started to clean them up for him.
“Wait! We have to take a picture of it!”
“What are you talking about?”
“Just stay there, Marla. Pretend like you’re eating them.”
“I’m not eating these. You can smell the burn, Bruno.”
“Just do it, damnit.” he smiled. He snapped a picture and tweeted the picture with the caption
“Smokin hot!” It got all 1.8 million followers wondering what exactly he was talking about.
“Okay, now you can clean it up.”
“So you just slept together?” Jamario asked him.
“Yeah. Straight up sleep over style.” Bruno told him.
“That’s respectable, dog.” he responded.
“Well, I try. She’s different. She knows so much about people, things, the world. I learn so much
from her. And she never does anything twice, except or maybe wear her running shoes and eat
beans and cheese tacos. I can’t live without knowing what she’s going to do next. And if that
means just sleeping next to her, then I’ll just sleep next to her.”
“Fair enough, dude.” his band mate responded to him.
It was 2:30 at the Gibson Amphitheater where the group was getting ready for sound check.
“She’ll be here at 4. You’ve met her before. Remember, the hat stealer?”
“Oh shit! She was hot.”
Marla sat at her dresser putting on her signature black eyeliner. Fiona sat on the other side of her
hoping to make a similar impression on any one person that evening. Marla swiped on a cherry
lipstick, a light blush, tan eye shadow and filled her eyebrows before putting on a white skirt and
a black tank top. She slipped on the same red Betsey Johnson heels that she met Bruno in as she
grabbed an overnight bag packed with clothes for work the next day and headed out the door
with Fiona who was wearing jeans and yellow t-shirt with a black sweater over, along with pink
“Why are you wearing heals, girl? He’s so short.”
“So I can see at the concert, silly. I don’t know where we’re sitting. Oh and here is your little
backstage pass thing. Don’t take it off. He said Dre will rip your head off if you don’t have it on.
Even hates everyone. “
“Okay, I won’t.”
The girls arrived nearly 3 hours early to a relatively empty venue. Radio stations were still
setting up for the evening. Several of them turned to look at her, recognizing her from photos
that had hit the internet that day. Bruno had told her to ignore them, not look at them, avoid them
as long as possible. A piece of her wanted to see what was out there, just to see, but he said it
would probably hurt. He had been through it himself. There were venue employees wandering
around, smoking, chatting and waiting for things to begin. Marla and Fiona walked up to one of
the security guards, employed by the arena, and showed them their passes. He let them in and
gave them a once over. Fiona relished in the attention. An MFA candidate, she loved art, music,
and most of all, attention. It was quite a conundrum for someone pursuing such a passionate
degree- she should have been in Public Relations or Radio. But, she was good at what she did.
Damn good. And that’s why they were best friends. They were both great at what they did.
As the girls entered the building all they could hear was music. It was clear that they were doing
a sound check. It was an all out concert in the front of the stage when they walked toward the
stage. She saw a sound tech playing with things that she couldn’t understand. He waved at her –
Bruno had told all of them at she was coming.
Fiona started flirting with a security guard as Marla took a seat in the middle of the arena to
listen to them play Runaway Baby. It was like a free concert – all to herself. Bruno looked at her
the whole time. He loved the way she reacted to his emotions and his music. He also adored that
she didn’t want him for his music, that the music just came along with him. She repeated that
endlessly. It was just a bonus. “Let’s stop there y’all. The others we’ll keep the same as we did in
Boulder. And we know exactly where to go during JTWYA?” His band nodded as he headed
over toward the middle of the arena to her.
“How are you feeling?” He sat down in the plastic chair next to her.
“I’m a little sore, but I’m fabulous now that you’re sitting next to me.” she nudged him playfully.
He pushed her back.
“Ouch. That hurt. You’re so strong, Marla.”
“How do you do this every night, Bru? It’s so crazy.”
“It is crazy. It’s crazy in the same way to take care of those kids and their parents and people
you’ve never met in Japan. And talk people you will never see again into donating millions of
dollars to the people you help. I could never do that. I think what you do is crazy. I don’t know
how you do what you do.”
“It takes practice, Bruno.” she told him.
By 9:00 PM Fiona and Marla were sitting in the 3rd row on the floor of the arena. They were in
the middle of teeny boppers, screaming mothers and sullen boyfriends who wondered why their
girlfriends swooned while they held hands. Bruno came on to loud screams, singing The Other
Side. He continued singing and she melted. She had absolutely no idea that he was hiding that
from her. Or that she hadn’t realized that that was who she was dating. “Oh my god.” she leaned
over to Bruno’s older sister.
“Lucky girl.” she laughed at Marla’s reaction.
“I had no idea. Like no idea.” Marla told her.
“No one does.” she turned to Marla.
Marla swooned like every other girl at the concert for the rest of the night. She was embarrassed
by the way she felt. It was ridiculous that she felt that way. Oh my god. He’s yours. Stop thinking
that he’s some out of this world…oh Mars…untouchable celebrity. You already know what’s
coming. What he’s going to sing. And don’t forget you’re going to do unreal things to him later
tonight. He doesn’t even know. She tried to calm herself down, but the swooning didn’t stop –
especially when Phil started the intro for Our First Time. Bruno stayed put in the middle of the
stage, but he looked over to her seat and smiled his signature dimple smile right at her. She put
her hand over her heart for him and fake fainted. He tried not to laugh, but there was an audible
laugh as he started to sing the song to all the swooning girls.
The part of the concert she had heard during sound check had ended. She was utterly confused
because she felt as though she had heard everything. She checked everything off in her head.
Even though she knew he wasn’t going to sing everything she had heard him ever sing…there
were things that were just for the two of them…she knew the concert wasn’t anywhere near
done. And then those most incredibly cheesy words came…
“Grab ‘em real tight …I’ll be that special someone…” and then he went on musing about how he
liked finding a girl to sing to. She had heard about this from Fiona. Fiona had googled live
performances of the song endlessly. She knew it was coming. But, she wasn’t sure what was
going to happen. Bruno’s sister nudged Marla’s side. Amidst all the screaming and yelling,
Bruno stared right into her eyes and mouthed “Tell me your middle name.” He put the
microphone next to her and asked her what her name was. She could feel her face get red. He
had sung her so many songs, so many times in those few months, but none in front of this many
people. She wanted it to stop. She wanted to hide behind his sister and Fiona. From all the
attention. Everything was quiet. He took her hand and squeezed it the same way he had the night
before. He moved the microphone from his hand and got really close to her ear. “I won’t let go.”
“Kate.” she said into the microphone.
“Kate, this is for you.” he smiled at her, squeezed her hand so tight that she could hardly breathe
and opened his mouth.
“Holy cow…” Marla breathed as he walked toward the other end of the stage. The lights went
down as he thanked Los Angeles for a wonderful concert.
“Don’t move.” Both his sister and Fiona told Marla.
“I won’t.” Marla told them.
The lights slowly came on as he came out again in the dark singing Talking to the Moon. He sat
down on the edge of the stage near her again. He reached out and squeezed her hand and then
went back to the middle of the stage and sat down near all the other screaming girls. She
followed his every single step.
Marla and Fiona waited for everyone to file out. She sat in her chair for a few minutes to take in
the aftermath. “That girl Kate is a lucky bitch. He didn’t even look around, he knew exactly
where he was going…” she heard one girl say. Another whined about Marla being selected, “She
wasn’t even cute. She was old too. Like he couldn’t have chosen one of his younger fans? He
even whispered something to her.” “I bet he’s hitting it, “ a boyfriend told his girlfriend as they
walked out. Her head started spinning. Her swooning had stopped. I don’t know what I’m doing.
MY boyfriend has all these girls throwing their bras at him and I can’t even see him for more
than 2 days. I can’t handle it. It’s too much, too much, too much for my little social work world.
All I wanted was a normal relationship – someone to wake up to; someone to take care of me;
someone to take care of. I can’t, we can’t do any of that. I’m so scared. It’s too much.
“Marley? Are you there?” Fiona interrupted her rationalizations.
“Oh, oh. Yeah. I’m okay. I’m just thinking about all this.”
“I know you are, hun. You know he’s going to tell you to stop thinking about it. And to ‘just go
“Ha! You’re right.” Marla retorted.
The night ended much in the way Marla had thought it would. They walked backstage were
welcomed by smiling faces and lots of alcohol.
“Oh no, not tonight…” Marla shook her head at Phil’s offer when he handed her a shot. She sat
down on the couch and watched everyone take a shot and smiled at their happiness. Fiona was
already flirting with someone. She wasn’t sure who, but Marla shot her a dirty don’t do it look
her way. Fiona rolled her eyes right back at her. Bruno sat down next to her as everyone walked
toward their own area of the venue. Phil ushered Fiona his way.
“Hi Kate, I’m Bruno. It’s nice to meet you.” he laughed at her.
“Oh my fucking God, B. You did not have to do that. There were 10 year old girls that would
have died. I already have you.”
“But you were the one I wanted to sing to, Mar. You’re always the one I want to sing to.” he
gave her a seductive look that he only gives her when he started to drink.
“Oh lord. Stop.” she requested.
“Never.” he laughed an irresistible laugh that made her want to kiss him right there. She stopped
herself knowing there was plenty of time to kiss him later in the evening.
Or was there? She never has enough time with him. He’s going to be in Arizona in two days.
What the hell. She leaned over smelling the smoke on his breath, sucking it in but not caring that
there was no cinnamon anywhere near either of them. She grabbed his shirt with her left hand
and took his hair with her right kissing him more deeply than she ever had. It was the first time
she had kissed Bruno Mars.