Arissa followed behind him as people started to file out of the venue.
“I have to go back to Nahvia…” she told him. She started to feel people looking at them wondering who she was and why she was with him. He looked at her with sad eyes as she wandered back to the back of the groups leaving the show. As she was walking she bumped into a girl with long brown hair in a long maxi dress wearing a brown blazer. Damn, how does that happen? Running into the girl whose seat I stole? “I’m so sorry I took your seat, Leighton..” she said to her.
“I can’t say I was happy I had to sit 1th row…” Leighton responded.
“No, really. I was going to get up. He wouldn’t let me..” Arissa explained pointing to where she was supposed to sit.
“So, you weren’t crashing?” she asked.
“No, no. I went to say hello..” Arissa used her hands to motion to where she was supposed to be. “I was seated way back there…” a flash hit her ring as her hand moved back down to her side. Leighton grabbed her hand.
“Oh…okay. You’re fine. It was one show….”
“Thank you! I felt so horrible. So horrible. I would never have done that to anyone..”
“Don’t worry, hun. It’s okay. Just don’t take my seat again…” Leighton answered walking away.
“How do you know him?” Nahvia asked as the girls walked past the media line of paparazzi snapping photos of celebs at the show.
“We’re engaged.” Arissa said quietly.
“Oh my god!” Nahvia screamed. A few people turned around to see what she was screaming at.
“Yeah…that’s it.” Nahvia picked up Arissa’s hand to see the ring.
“Is that the classic?” she asked.
“Yeah. It’s so perfect. He did a good job…” Arissa answered.
“Oh! That is pretty!” another PR girl behind them said.
“What’s pretty?!” another girl asked.
“Her ring. It’s gorgeous.” the girl replied.
Suddenly there was a group of international fashion PR girls standing by Arissa’s ring.
“When did it happen? When are you getting married? How long are you going to wait to get married?” All the girls gathered around her.
“Oh my gosh…ummm….” Arissa was overwhelmed. “We can all talk about it over lunch!” Arissa answered.
Arissa wandered into her hotel room after the days shows. Sitting on her side table was a note.
“These stupid thank you notes are so dumb.” she said to herself picking up the card.
She opened it to see a note from Bruno…
I love you.
That’s all. I’ll see you tonight.
She put on one of the borrowed dresses she brought for the trip. She had already planned exactly what she was going to wear that night. His actually birthday, though, she wasn’t sure. She put on a red wine colored one shouldered dress, sprayed on her Bath and Body Works Mango summer body spray and grabbed her classic black Christian Loubotin heels. Damn, those are hot shoes. They’re so expensive. Arissa met Nahvia downstairs.
“You look hot, chica! No wonder you two are getting married!” Nahiva welcomed her co-worker.
“Well, yeah. I guess that’s part of it…” Arissa was still somewhat embarrassed by the relationship. She didn’t understand why everyone thought so highly of him. She’d come to forgive his flaws, but so many people didn’t know about them. The smoking, gross. He had stopped texting her “You’re beautiful” everyday. He had stopped kissing her neck. He still gave her chills, but they were definitely beyond the “we just met” phase of the relationship. Even if they were getting comfortable with that life, she wasn’t. She wanted to make sure she never lost what they had that summer. “God, all these models are out of control….” Arissa mused as the girls wandered down a Milan street to get to the restaurant they were meeting Bruno at for dinner.
As they made their way a few blocks down the ancient city she caught paparazzi where they were eating. “I guess it’s fashion week. They gotta get their shot…” Nahvia said.
“I’m not worried…” Arissa told her new found confidant.
They pushed through the throws on photographers. One, in English, mumbled under his breath “I think that’s her….” Suddenly the flashes turned onto Arissa. Oh shit. I thought I could handle this. I thought I could do it…this is kind of weird…
“:Siamo qui con il gruppo Elektra ...” Arissa told the waiter as they walked in.
“A destra in questo modo ....” the sleek Italian waiter ushered them to the back of the room where they heard loud music.
“Grazie..” Nahvia smiled as they walked toward the back. Arissa was welcomed by several of Bruno’s friends. She introduced her co-worker and took an empty seat.
“Ciao bella…” Bruno came up behind her kissing her shoulder and squeezed her.
“Ciao bello…” she smiled at him.
“I missed you…” he said getting closer to her.
“I missed you too. Too much.” she responded.
They ate expensive Italian food getting louder by the minute. How does he make me laugh so easily? It’s like everything goes away when I sit next to him. I don’t understand it. She heard his phone buzz next to her while she was chatting with some models that Jay had found. She glanced over to him to see his response. Everyone he knows is here. Who is texting him? He grabbed the phone thinking no one heard it. “Who is that?” Arissa asked him.
“It’s nothing. It’s nothing.” he said kissing her.
“Umm, okay.” she accepted his answer, even though it was still a bit weird. She held on to him while they finished up the evening. His phone buzzed again next to him. I’m not jealous. I’m not that girl…but everyone he knows is here…I don’t understand it. He reached over to grab it, she put her hand over his. She pulled the phone out of his hand seeing what the texts were.
-Not tonight. She’s here. She surprised me.
--You know I’d do it better than she does.
---You’ll have to show me another night.
Arissa threw the phone on the ground running out of the restaurant.
A few of the models saw the events unfold and gasped. Their gasped caused everyone to direct their attention to the now broken cell phone.
“Arissa, wait! Please wait!” he yelled at her as she ran outside. There were still a few cameramen outside who caught him running after her. She had turned down a dark alley to get away from everything. “Did you see where that girl went?” he asked one of the photographers. He pointed to where she had run.
“Risa!” he yelled as he turned down to where she was hiding.
“Just tell me you slept with her. Just tell me now. And I’ll go back to my hotel and finish my trip. And don’t even expect me to be there when you get back in November.” she yelled standing up walking away. She smelled his minty breath and cologne as she walked past him. He grabbed the bottom of her dress to get her to stop walking.
“Nothing happened, Arissa. Nothing happened. I swear…it’s you. It’s you I want.”
“I want you too, but not if you’re going to do this. I told you…I told you from the start…” her words started to break up as she caught her breath. “that I don’t need anyone. I can be the person I want to be without you. And you changed my mind. I needed you. I need you to be a better person. I have to have you in my life. I believed it. It’s all bullshit, Bruno. No wonder you lost her…you’ve lost me too.” she moved his hand from her dress. “Don’t touch me.” He followed her from the alley. “Stop! Don’t follow me. “ she yelled.
He watched her walk away near a classic Italian fountain. She stopped by the edge unhooking her necklace, slipping off the engagement ring throwing them both to the bottom of the fountain. “Arrivederci bello.” she said to herself walking back to the hotel.
Dre, Eric and Phil saw Bruno in the fountain looking down trying to find the jewelry.
“Bruno…what happened?” Eric asked. Bruno reached his hand into the low fountain grabbing the necklace.
“I found it…” he answered.
“Dude..what the hell?”
“She saw the text from Jules. I didn’t get a chance to tell her that it was for the wedding…”
“Well go tell her!” Phil yelled at him.
“She won’t let me. She ran away.” he said walking in the water trying to find the ring. “I don’t know where it is! Help me find it!” he yelled. Eric jumped into the fountain trying to find the ring with his brother.
“Come on, y’all. We need to get her…” Eric told them. Phil glanced over the barrier, put his hand in the water and pulled out a ring.
“Let me see it! What does it say on the inside? Is that it?”
“Polizia! Polizia! Fermare quello che stai facendo!” they heard as Phil squinted t oread the ring.
Eric and Bruno looked up.
“My fiancé…she dropped her ring in the fountain…we had to find it…” Bruno responded.
" Mi scusi? In italiano. Sei in Italia, signore.” the officer responded.
"We don’t speak Italian, officer..” Bruno said grabbing the ring from Phil.
“Americani brutto…You need to get out of the fountain now. It’s against the law. Once it’s in the fountain it’s Italian property.”
Suddenly there were flashes. Someone had found them.
“Che sei?” asked the officer.
“I’m Bruno Mars.” he told him stepping out of the fountain dripping wet. Another camera started to record the incident.
“I don’t care who you are…”
“Then why did you ask?” Bruno was suddenly upset.
“So I can put you in jail.” the officer responded.
“I just needed to get the ring! She didn’t want to get wet!” Bruno yelled.
“How do I know you’re telling the truth, Mr. Mars?” the officer suddenly was speaking perfect English.
“I don’t have my phone to show you …” he started to respond.
“Where is she?” he asked.
“She went back to the hotel room…I told her I would find it…”
Eric fumbled in his phone to find a picture of the two of them. He was kissing her on the cheek and she had her hands up trying to stop him. Her ring was in the picture.
“This is it, officer.” Eric interrupted handing him the phone.
“Siete molto fortunate..” the officer replied. “I’m a sucker for a love story.”
“Thank you!” Bruno answered holding the ring tightly in his left hand while holding the necklace in another.
“Anna! He’s cheating on me….” Arissa cried into the phone in the hotel room.
“Arissa….I don’t think that’s true…” Anna responded.
“No! I was sitting next to him…and he was getting texts from this girl…and she said she did it better than me. I knew this was dumb. Everything has been so dumb.”
“Arissa…did you talk to him? Did you ask him what was going on? He wouldn’t do that. You know him better than most people…”
“But you didn’t know that the second I got to LA he left. He went to the studio. And he doesn’t text me in the morning anymore. And he sure as hell isn’t trying to get in my pants the same way he used to…” Arissa started to cry.
“Oh honey bear…you’re just finding each other. You were in the car for Ryan and my fight in Houston. And you know we’ve been late for things because we fight…”
“But I don’t want it to be that way…” Arissa started. “And I don’t want it to be like Robert. I stuck around for him too long. I’m not going to stick around for him; even if he is Bruno Mars…” she cried.
“You two will get it together. You’re too good together not to get through it. And I am a bridesmaid still.”
“I don’t think there’s going to be a wedding…”
What a shitty birthday. I don’t know if I can even deal with it. It’s too much. What do I do? How do I even start to tell her I’m sorry? Bruno started to think to himself walking down the hallway of her hotel. She has to be at the gym. That’s where she always is. He walked by several hotel guests and employees wearing ray-bans and his beanie. No one bothered him. Wow, that was nice…but I need her…He looked in the swanky work-out area. He saw some Italian businessmen and that was it…”Shit.” he said loudly. A young mother with toddlers looked up at him. “I’m sorry…” he told her. She shrugged her head at his reaction. He walked back toward the hotel lobby.
“Excuse me?” he asked a hotel employee.
“Sì?” the employee answered.
“Hai visto una ragazza bionda breve che ha bellissimi occhi verdi?” he pulled the Little Italian he knew together to ask the question.
“Ha appena controllato. She just checked out…” the man answered.
“Quando?” Bruno asked.
“Maybe an hour ago…”
“Grazie…” Bruno said going to the front desk.
“Do you know where Arissa Henderson is?” he asked the girl in the front.
“Mr. Hernandez…she checked out with her co-worker like an hour ago.”
“Do you know where she went?”
“I can’t tell you that, Bruno.” the girl continued.
“But you know?” he asked.
“She’s at the Pucci show…” the girl next to her answered.
“You’re not going to get there in time…” the first girl told him.
“Where is it?” he demanded. The girls gave him directions.
He ran out the hotel trying to figure out how to get to her. He grabbed his phone and texted her.
Wait for me. Please.
Bruno waited in front of the fashion show for her. He held his head down careful not to be noticed. He saw familiar and unfamiliar faces walking out past the lines of cameras. Where is she? Where is she? Please come out this way. Please.
Arissa looked down at her phone to read his text.
“Do I send one back?” she asked Nahvia.
“No. Don’t. He doesn’t deserve a response. Even if it is a negative response.”
She put her phone in her purse waiting for the show to start.
“Which way do we go out? If he’s here I don’t want to see him…” she wondered out loud over the exit music.
“We’ll blend in. It’ll be okay..” Nahvia told her.
They sure did blend in. No one saw them. She saw him sitting on the corner of the street with his head down waiting for her to come out…
“We’ll walk around the other way…” Arissa pulled Nahvia with her.
Bruno walked slowly back to where he was performing that evening.
“Did you get her?” Phred asked.
“No, dude. I didn’t even see her. They said she was at Pucci but I didn’t see her. She probably booked it to Paris…”
“You’ll figure it out…” Phred said. “Let’s go. You’ll have a great show tonight…”
“I don’t know..I don’t know…” Bruno said walking to the front of the stage for the sound check. He put his hand in his pocket to feel her ring.
“Thank you so much for letting stay with y’all for a while, MIs. It means so much. I don’t know what I would do without you here….”
“We’ve always been there for you…” Melissa told her.
“I know. It just means so much…” Arissa responded taking a sip of hot chocolate.
“Are you going to go home?” Melissa asked her.
“Hell no. I have an awesome job. I’m sticking it out. I found a few apartments to look at on Craigslist…do you want to come look at them with me?”
“God yes! You know I love that shit…” Melissa answered.
A week later Arissa sat on the wooden floor throwing clothes in the closet. She grabbed a plaid shirt buried in the bottom of box. She balled it up throwing it as far away as possible. “Get out! Get away from me! I hate you. I hate you.” “she screamed.
After finishing with that box she moved into the kitchen area. She grabbed some glasses and silverware from the IKEA bag full of cheap items she bought for herself. Next to the bag was a small box. She brought with her a few coffee mugs that reminded her of home and reusable water bottles for the gym. She pulled out the water bottles placing the caps on the counter. A piece of paper fell out of each and every one of the water bottles. She picked them up throwing them in her pile full of trash. “Fuck him and his romantic side. Fuck him.”
Her phone buzzed jolting her out of her sorrow. “Shit!” she screamed.
Look outside – unknown number.
“Like hell I’ll look outside. I know it’s him”
Bruno sat in front of her side window through the night.
“Do you belong here?” asked a girl walking down the street.
“Yeah. I do…” he responded.
“Okay…do you need to get into that one right there?” she pointed to her apartment.
“She’ll let me in eventually.” he smiled at her.
“Alright dude. Just don’t turn out to be a stalker or something…” the girl started to walk away.
Arissa walked out her door at 7 in the morning. Against the entry way she found Bruno…asleep. He had pieces of white paper off to the side of him. She bent down to read them. In his scribbled handwriting she saw
I love you.
I should have told you…
I made a mistake
She kicked him hard as she stood up with the papers. “Ouch.” he whined looking at her.
“What should you have told me, Brunz?” she asked. I thought about this all night. I need to at least give him the benefit of the doubt. He grabbed her hand pulling her toward the ground to listen to her. “Were you here all night?” she asked.
“Yeah, all night. I think I have some mosquito bites…”
“Evil mosquitoes…” she looked at him. He laughed at her comment.
“Ris…” he started. “The text was from Julia. She won So You Think You Can Dance in England…she was going to teach me how to waltz for you…” he looked down waiting to hear her reaction. She grabbed her phone from her purse typing in it. He leaned over to see what she was doing. “You’re googling her?”
“Yeah. Why not,” she asked.
“There’s a picture of her and me…” he pointed to the images that appeared on her search. “Look…it’s like any other picture…” she studied the picture seeing him holding on to him, hugging her. She had an enormous smile on her face, but it was more of a Oh my god, he’s touching me smile. Arissa knew that smile all too well.
“Waltz?” Arissa asked.
“Hell yeah. It’s sexy as shit.” he looked at her reaction. She looked at him placing her hand on his cheek.
“I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you…” she told him. She looked down with her hand still on his cheek. He touched her waist trying to find what she was feeling. She put her head on his head looking right in his eyes. “I miss you.” she told him.
“Can I kiss you?” he asked her.
“Yes, yes you can.” she told him. She closed her eyes waiting for him to kiss her. He kissed her lightly on the lips pulling away.
“I can’t live without you…” Bruno said as she opened her eyes.
“Bruno…we can’t go back to where we were - even if it was a mistake.”
“What do you mean?” he asked her.
“It’s just too fast…you know I don’t do this….I love you. But I need to take baby steps.”
“Sweetheart….I wait for you if it takes a lifetime to do…”
Arissa arrived at the office about 30 minutes late. She, of course, ran into Grace’s office to apologize.
“I’m sorry, Grace! I’m sorry I’m late!” she told her running past her office to get to her desk.
“Just hurry your Hollywood butt out the door, Ms. Henderson. Don’t forget your appointment at 11:30.”
“Shoot. I’m outta here!” Arissa exclaimed running back out the door after checking her voicemail.
Arissa arrived at her destination, a swanky home full of models and clothing.
“I’m here, I’m here. Let’s see what you got, girls and boys!” Arissa announced running into the room.
She started handing her designated items to the girls named Heidi and Danielle.
“This is super cute! I like this…” Heidi told Arissa.
“It’s perfect!” Arissa answered her.
“Oh, Dani..you would not believe what I read last night….”
“What did you read?” Danielle asked. As the girls started to go on about whatever it was they were talking about Arissa tuned them out. Until she heard Bruno’s name.
“Yeah…he ‘s engaged. Like what the hell. He’s a total liar.” Danielle continued her conversation.
“Wait what?” Arissa interrupted. “Where did y’all hear that?” she asked.
“I can’t remember..it was a few days ago. They didn’t say who the girl was but he said ‘My fiancé dropped her ring..I told her I would get it…’”
“Hmmm. My sources say he’s not.” Arissa answered the explanation.
“You know him? God, what I would not do to hit that.” Heidi told her.
Arissa laughed at Heidi’s response but didn’t say anything more.
Later in the day she arrived back in the office dying to get to the internet to see what had been said. The office’s secretary, an intern, and the Vice-President Tatiana were the only ones in the office. She sat down and typed “Bruno Mars engaged” into google. She clicked on the first link…TMZ.
BRUNO MARS getting wet…
Bruno Mars was spotted climbing in a fountain in Milan. And it wasn’t for some of those sexy photo shoots we’ve seen him do the past few months (hello Vogue magazine!).
What a lucky girl! Whoever she is…
Arissa clicked on the video which showed him speaking in broken Italian to a police officer. He looked like he was going to cry. He walked right past the paparazzi as they started asking questions. All she could remember was what Danielle had reported to her “My fiancé dropped her ring…”
Shit. What the fuck. This is going to be horrible. A nightmare. And then she saw the related link below the story. “We found her!” She clicked it reading it out loud.
“All we know is that her name is Arissa and she’s Texan. Here’s the picture of the blonde bombshell…” A picture taken from her facebook was on the website for everyone to see. “Well crap. It’s not even a good picture…”