“Say, where’s Bruno been the past couple of weeks?” Natalie’s father asked a week later as she put her dinner plate into the sink. “I haven’t seen him since…August.”
She rinsed her hands off in the sink, hardly paying any attention to him. “Yeah because he’s terrified of you…” she half mumbled, wiping her hands on a towel.
“Well he should be,” her father replied bluntly, glancing at her sternly.
Natalie bit back her lip, holding herself back from making any sarcastic remark back at him. Instead, she shrugged her shoulders, contemplating on whether or not she should leave the room before it got awkward.
“But really,” he said, crossing his arms as he leaned his back against the counter. “I’d like to see him sometime.”
“Dad,” Natalie said, giving him a pleading look, her voice almost sounding desperate.
He raised his hands up, lifting his eyebrows at the same time, stopping her from continuing on. “Hey, I just wanted to talk to him.”
“Please don’t,” she mumbled. “He’s not your son.”
“Well you’re my daughter,” he flatly replied. “And if I want to talk to him, then I’m going to talk to him.”
Natalie refrained herself again, letting out a deep sigh as she closed her eyes for a few seconds. Bruno’s so not going to agree to this, she thought, knowing he’d end up being such a baby about it that he’d end up never venturing near her house.
“Next Friday,” Her father finally said with a nod, turning to wipe his hands on the same towel Natalie used minutes ago. “I assume you’re coming over for pictures before the homecoming dance anyways,” he added, beginning to do the dishes.
Natalie inwardly groaned. She stared at her dad as he did the dishes, trying to decide if she should warn Bruno ahead of time, or just drop it on him the day of. I mean, then he can’t back out, she thought, slightly laughing to herself at the thought of him freaking out. Nah, she finally thought, shaking her head. I’ll tell him tomorrow.
“So…” Natalie said after school the next day, looking down at her nails as she picked at the polish.
“So…?” Bruno echoed, turning to glance over at her.
“My dad wants us to come over before the dance next Friday,” she said, looking up over to him.
“What do you mean by that?” He asked, eyeing her curiously. “You’re saying it odd…”
Natalie shrugged her shoulders, honestly not wanting to tell him. “I don’t know, for pictures I guess…”
Bruno let out a small smile, shaking his head. “You’re such a horrible liar, Nat,” he said.
“Yeah, because I know you’re not going to come over then.”
“Because I’m not.” Bruno smiled cheekily, shrugging his shoulders.
“Yes you are,” Natalie softly laughed, hitting him on the chest.
Bruno shook his head. “I don’t want to die before I turn sixteen.”
“Well you’re not going to, so quit being a bitch and suck it up,” she stated back, turning her head away from him, a tiny smile on her lips.
“Jeez, way to be easy on me,” he said sarcastically, glancing over to her. He shifted his body over so that he was behind her, resting his head on her shoulder. “I’m scared,” he whispered softly in her ear.
“That’s obvious,” Natalie whispered back, turning her head towards his face.
“I’m not going,” he said suddenly, burying his head into her shoulder. “You can have fun without a date,” he added, muffled against her body.
“Or I can just find another date,” she said with a shrug. “Like maybe Brandon…or Ryan.”
“I don’t care,” he said, muffled again.
“…And then afterwards we’ll hook up, over by the pier maybe,” she said smiling, failing to get any reaction from Bruno.
“Have fun,” he said in the same muffled voice.
Natalie finally let out a laugh, turning to face him, forcing him to lift his head up. “I will,” she said softly, grabbing his arm. “And you’re going to be my date, whether or not you’re going to cry over this,” she added with a smirk, giving him a small peck on the lips.
“I hate you,” Bruno said as he sat in the driver’s seat of his car, looking over to Natalie from the steering wheel.
“Oh, my fault,” Natalie replied sarcastically, rolling her eyes at how dramatic he was.
“Actually it was your fault,” Bruno retaliated. “As I remember, you were the one who brought this about your parents in the first place,” he stated, implying the day in August that she got into a fight with them.
“Well none of this would have happened had you not made me sneak out at one in the morning…”
Bruno turned back to her, squinting his eyes as he simply stared at her, making her burst out laughing.
“You’re fine,” she said, letting out a sigh as she leaned her head back.
“Let’s just not go to your house,” he said with sudden enthusiasm. “We can just go straight to the dance.”
“No, I told them we were coming, and if I don’t show up, they’ll probably send the FBI out searching for me,” Natalie replied, looking out the window.
She heard Bruno let out a sigh. After a few minutes they pulled into her driveway, Bruno turning to face her one last time as he shut the car off. “I hope your dad still likes me,” he said with a rather hopeless expression.
Natalie rolled her eyes, opening the car door, waiting for him to walk over towards the front door. She looked over to him as he smiled brightly at her, causing her to suddenly scowl.
“You’re such a faker,” she said, hitting him on the chest. “You’re probably not even worried about anything; you just don’t want to take pictures.” Natalie eyed him oddly, trying to figure out if he was just good at covering up or if he really couldn’t care less about what her father thought.
Bruno shrugged his shoulders with a smile, reaching for the door handle when they stepped up on the porch. “Don’t be scared,” he whispered in a mimicking voice near her ear as he opened the door for her, slightly laughing.
Natalie stared over to Bruno from across the living room, seeing a smile on his face as he conversed with her father. Jeez, he’s such a baby, she thought, shaking her head. I knew he’d be fine.
They waited around for another half hour talking and taking at least one hundred pictures from her excited mother. After a while, Savannah, Hadley, Ryan, Brandon, and several other friends showed up with their dates to take pictures as well.
The house was really full at the moment, and while waiting for everyone to finally get ready to head out seemed to take forever, in Natalie’s mind. She eventually sat down on the sofa, her heels off for the moment while Bruno sat next to her, taking a break from the momentarily chaotic atmosphere.
“Let’s go, I’m tired of pictures,” Natalie whispered quietly to him, knowing it’d still be nearly impossible for anyone to pick up on the conversation based off of how loud the room was.
“I’m ready,” Bruno said with a deep breath, standing up. “Now that I’m blind for the next few hours from all those flashes,” he added with a smirk, helping her up from the sofa.
Everyone else got the hint that they were ready to leave, and slowly began filing out. “I think we’re leaving now,” Natalie said as she turned to her parents with a smile, standing near Bruno still.
“Hey Bruno, do you mind if I talk to you real quick?” Her father suddenly said, shoving his hands in his pockets. Natalie shot her eyes up to her parents, a glare striking through their faces.
“Yeah, sure,” Bruno said with a nod, following her dad over to the kitchen. Natalie felt a wave of embarrassment and anger run through her, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Mom, really?” she asked sarcastically, still glaring.
She raised an eyebrow back at her daughter. “Now don’t even try to go there, Natalie,” she said with a parenting tone. Yeah of course, Natalie thought, shaking her head. I did this to myself, blah blah blah. She already understood where her mom was going with the conversation, so she didn’t even bother trying to say anything against it.
She looked up towards the kitchen, seeing the two standing out on the back porch through the sliding glass doors. Ugh, this is so embarrassing, she thought, wanting to bury her face into a pillow. She finally looked away, unable to watch any further.
By this point, everyone else had already left and were on their way to the dance. The house had a rather quiet tone to it as a silence filled the now empty room. Natalie walked over to the bar, sitting on the high stool, waiting for Bruno.
After a few minutes she heard the door open and saw them walking back into the room. Bruno had a peculiar look to his face, and his eyes either showed a bit of fear or understanding, but Natalie couldn’t quite pick it out. She chose to not say anything until they said their final goodbyes, walking back out the front door to his car.
“What’d he say?” she asked nervously, sitting in the passenger seat.
Bruno simply shook his head oddly, putting the key in the ignition.
“Bruno!” She said, seeing he wasn’t going to answer her. “Tell me!”
He smiled slightly on his lips as he looked over his shoulder, backing out of the driveway. “I’m not going to tell you anything, Nat,” he said simply, not even glancing over to her as he kept the same smirk on his lips.
She shot a glare over to him, slightly annoyed. “Why? Was it that bad?”
Bruno shook his head, looking over to her as he smiled. “No,” he said, reaching over to grab her hand. “There’s just some things that I like to keep to myself. And this is one of those things.”
“Oh my god, it was bad wasn’t it…” Natalie felt her cheeks growing hot, embarrassed by what her dad could have said to him.
Bruno smiled, looking ahead at the road. “No, it’s just,” he said, letting out a sigh. “I don’t know,” he finally said, shaking his head with a sort of a haze to his eyes. “You have a good dad, Nat,” he said after a few moments, turning to her again, squeezing her hand.
She softly glared at him, pulling her hand away. “Are you ever going to tell me?”
Bruno shook his head. “Nope.”
“Not even ten years from now when it’s not important?”
“Never,” he said, turning back to the road. “I think it’ll always be important, now that I think about it. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that talk…”
Natalie continued to eye him curiously, trying to figure out what he could havepossibly said to Bruno.
“I’m gonna tell my boys that one when I have kids,” Bruno added with a small laugh.
“…Bruno,” Natalie whined, wishing he’d just confess all of it.
He shook his head for the hundredth time. “Natalie,” he whined back, giving her a pretend sad look. “C’mon, let’s just have fun now,” he said as he pulled into the parking lot.
After the dance, Natalie chucked her heels onto the floor of Bruno’s car, sitting down on the seat with a thud. “Ugh, my feet hurtttt,” she said, looking down to her dirty toes from walking barefoot out to the car.
Bruno simply laughed as he got into the car, the tie of his shirt loosened drastically than from what it was when they left Natalie’s house. Natalie let out a sigh, reaching up to gather her hair from her face, pulling it up into a high ponytail.
“So where to, Mr. Hernandez?” She asked with a small smile, bringing her left leg up on the seat.
“Your house,” he replied simply with a small shrug.
Natalie looked over to him, giving him a confused look. “It’s only eleven,” she said, looking at the clock. “I don’t want to go home yettt,” she said simply.
“Well that’s where we’re going…”
“Come on, Bruno,” Natalie said with a smile, trying to convince him. “It’s homecoming. And it’s practically a prom; I mean after prom everyone else is—“
“Not tonight, Natalie,” he said, cutting her off with a soft tone.
Ouch, Natalie thought, realizing he just turned her down.
“…Well then we could go over to Ryan’s with everyone else then,” she replied, trying to compromise.
Bruno shook his head, his eyes fixed on the road. “I promised your dad I’d take you straight home afterwards.”
Natalie felt angry suddenly, causing her to wrinkle her forehead. “What the hell,” she thought aloud, crossing her arms. “He doesn’t trust me…”
Bruno allowed himself to let out a small laugh. “Well based off of what you want to do, he shouldn’t trust you.”
Natalie shot a quick glare to him. “So that’s what he said to you? ‘Don’t run off and have sex with my daughter tonight’.’’ She stared for a second before looking back at him. “Why can’t you tell me that?”
Bruno shook his head. ”No, that’s not what he said,” Bruno replied, reaching over to touch her hand like he did on their way to the dance. “I’m not gonna say he didn’tsay that, but that’s not why I’m not telling you about what we talked about.”
“I hate him,” Natalie thought aloud again, shaking her head, feeling her face burning. “And now they’re all up in your business.”
“They’re just trying to be your parents, Nat,” he said gently, squeezing her hand comfortingly.
“Yeah, but it’s not like it was necessary to talk to you—and why won’t you tell me what you talked about? You’re pissing me off,” Natalie said, her tone changing halfway through as she sent another small glare to him.
Bruno shrugged his shoulders. “It’s just like what I told you earlier. I think…there are some things that are more…influencing and personal if you actually keep them personal. You know?” he asked, turning to look at her.
She shrugged her shoulders, slouching down in the seat to put her feet up on the dashboard. “I guess…”
“I know you’ll get over it,” he said with a small smile, squeezing her hand.
“But I mean come on Bruno,” she said after a few moments. “It’s freaking homecoming. You’re actually going to let yourself take me straight home afterwards, while you do the same?”
Bruno let out a deep sigh, running a hand over his forehead. She could tell he reallydidn’t want to let down her offer. He was a guy. Fucking, he was Bruno. But he finally forced himself to shake his head, keeping on the same route to Natalie’s house. “I can’t,” he said, still shaking his head. “Any other time or any other night, but not tonight,” he added, looking at the road. “I couldn’t do that to your dad after some of the things he said. And I promised I’d bring you straight home, so that’s what I’m going to do.”
Natalie let out a soft sight, nodding her head. I guess I understand. “I still love you, Bruno,” she said, turning to face him with a soft smile.
He turned to face her with a cheeky grin, shrugging his shoulders once. “Always?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
“No matter what?”
“No matter what,” Natalie repeated with a small laugh, feeling him kiss her hand softly as they pulled up in front of her house.
“Goodbye, Natalie,” he said, leaning over to kiss her on the cheek once.
“Goodnight, Bruno,” she repeated with a smirk.
“I hope you had a good night,” he replied with a small wink as she shrugged her shoulders, mirroring the smile back to him before turning to run up to her front door.
Natalie laid sprawled out on her living room floor several months later, her head propped up with her hand as she flipped through a Hawaiian ad paper. The school year was drawing to an end, with just a little over a week left, and quite frankly, she found it to be quite insane of how fast another year had gone by.
Throughout the months leading from September, Natalie found most of her time to be occupied by schoolwork. Bruno’s birthday passed by soon afterwards, where she spent celebrating a small party with his family. As winter rolled in, her schedule consisted of working extra hours at the Aquarium to help her mother out, as one of the employees had moved.
After Christmas passed and they headed into the New Year, Natalie and Bruno still seemed to be doing well with their relationship. Although there were more than a few occasions that led to arguments, things between them usually died down as quickly as they started. By March, Natalie figured out that she didn’t need to be around him 24/7, and assumed it was partially the reason why her grades were slowly slipping.
But she tried her best to stay as focused on her schoolwork as she could. Keeping a balance between everything proved to be much more difficult than she had anticipated it would be when school first began again in the fall. And of course her parents continued to watch her like a hawk, which constantly got on Natalie’s nerves. No matter where she was going, even if Bruno wasn’t going to be there, her mom and dad would inquire her about everything, as if she had something to hide. In these situations, Natalie almost always lost her temper, which led to heated arguments.
“You shouldn’t really let them get to you that much,” Bruno would say whenever Natalie explained another fight the day after. She would always give him a dirty look when he said this, never understanding his viewpoint in the situation. But she figured he was probably right most of the time, and promised she’d at least try to get along with them.
And now, as school drew to a close and scheduling for the next year came up, Natalie found herself even more stressed. For her senior year, she wanted to make sure she had every class that could potentially help her with her future; whatever that may be. But after looking through a few video production programs within the school, she found herself drawn even closer to the subject, which helped sway her decision even further.
Bruno, on the other hand, really didn’t seem concerned at all about school. He consistently told Natalie that the only thing he really knew that he wanted to do was music; nothing less and nothing more. He never really was into school too much anyways, and the thought of him having a normal job like a realtor or a businessman nearly drove Natalie to tears of laughter whenever she thought of it.
But by this point, Natalie was done with all the stressors and was more than ready for summer. It was a well needed and in her eyes, deserved break.
She let out a soft sigh as she flipped the page, her eyes scanning over an ad in the corner of the page. She felt a small smile break out on her lips as she read over it, laughing slightly.
“What’s so funny over there?” Hadley asked as she turned from her spot on the sofa, watching the TV.
Natalie sat up, walking over to where Savannah and Hadley sat. “There’s a beauty pageant in Waikiki next month,” she said, pointing to the corner. “We should totally do it,” she added with a laugh.
“Oh my God,” Savannah said with a laugh, picking up the ad. “Seriously I want to do that. How funny would that be?”
“Too bad I don’t think I’ve even ever touched that much makeup,” Hadley said in response to a picture along with the ad.
“Just imagine all the serious bitchy drama queens in this thing, and then we show up and ruin the whole event because we know nothing,” Savannah laughed, reading over the information.
“I’m definitely in,” Hadley laughed. “We could like get some old fashioned dresses from like the ‘20s or something,” she jokingly added.
“My talent should be like rapping or something..” Natalie said with a laugh, picturing the three of them messing around the whole time.
“More like 101 sex positions…” Savannah replied teasingly, glancing over to Natalie.
She simply shot a glare at her, ignoring her comment. “I’m serious though, let’s do it!” she exclaimed, switching back on the subject.
“Hadley, here, call the phone number,” Savannah said as she threw the house phone to her as she held the paper in her hand.
“Oh my god, we’re such idiots,” Natalie smirked as she heard Hadley beginning to talk about registration to the pageant director.