Phil drives almost crazier than Bruno. Almost. Bruno would've made that risky turn in front of the bus. He screeches to a stop in front of some apartment buildings. They look way different than Bruno's. He jumps out and runs, not waiting for me. I try to catch up to him. "Eric!" His voice echoes through the lobby and he runs up the staircase. Just because he's short doesn't mean he can't run fast. He busts open the 3rd door to the right. I walk in slowly. I've never been to Eric's place in L.A. Just the one in Brooklyn. It's clean and neat. Pictures of him and Bruno and they're 3 sisters are all over the walls. Bruno opens one of the closed doors. His bedroom I'm guessing. "E!" He runs to another door. "Eri--" He stops when he opens it. I walk up behind him and peek over his shoulder. Eric is sitting in a chair, his chin in his hand, staring at 3 suitcases stacked up in front of him. His eyes turn towards me and Bruno, but he remains quiet. "I can't do this without you." Bruno says after an eternity of silence. I look at him. Eric slowly turns. "Come on E, You can't." he says, shaking his head. Eric stares at him. "Bruno, you're not a kid. You don't need me anymore." He says. "Eric.." Bruno's voice cracks. He furrows his eyebrows and clears his throat. I cover my mouth, and watch them, breathing heavy. "I know I'm not a kid.. But you can't just leave. What am I supposed to do?" he says. Eric sighs. "You're signed. You're halfway there. The hard parts over, and I've pretty much been holding your hand the whole time." He gets up and starts picking up the suitcases. Bruno pushes it out of his hand. Eric watches it fall, clenching his jaw. Bruno stares at him, with an angry frown on his face. "Come on, I just said you're not a kid, stop acting like one." "You're the one running away." Bruno shoots back. Eric doesn't say anything. "And you're only running cause you're hurt. I've been hurt too but I didn't run away like it was gonna fix everything! I fuckin dealt with it! I dealt with everyone's bullshit, and I had to act like it didn't affect me. Who else was gonna be there for Mom when Dad left us for some chic he had on the side?! The little brother, instead of the big one." He says. Eric's nostrils flare and I can almost hear his teeth grinding. "Stop bringing up the past Bruno." He says, in a low deep voice. Bruno stands there, glaring at him. "She's still gonna be with him, whether you stay or go." He says, out of anger. Eric grabs his shirt. Bruno tries pushing him and they end up punching and holding each other. "I don't give a fuck about her!" Eric yells, but I can see tears in his eyes. I'm a little taken aback cause he's talking about my sister, but at the same time, I know he's only saying it out of hurt and anger. Bruno pushes him against the wall. "Running away is not going to help! You're still gonna have the same feelings, and they're only going to get worse thinking about her, where she is, what she's doing, who she's with, is she happy, is she okay, did her feelings change, will she ever come back, will she ever look for you.. That shit is gonna eat you up inside, and trust me when I say, there will be nothing left." He says, grabbing Eric's face. I can actually feel my heart breaking as he says those words to him. My eyesight gets blurry. I know he felt bad when I left, but he's never said it out loud. It hits me so hard, I feel kinda dizzy. "I'm still here! I've been feeling that for years Peter! But I'm still fuckin here!" Whoa. He called him Peter. Bruno backs away from him. I don't know whether to say something, or leave. I just stand there and stay quiet. "I'd rather leave and not see, than to watch her be happy with someone else." He says. Now is when I step in. "Just wait and talk to her. Please Eric?" I tell him. They both turn, startled. I think they forgot I was there. "No." Eric says, bluntly. I put my hands on my head. I swear if it's not some drama with me, it's drama with somebody else. We've only been in L.A. for 2 days! "Listen to me, Don't run. Facing your problems is the only smart thing to do. Running just makes them bigger and creates more. I would know.." Bruno coughs and says something smart under his breath. I push him to shut up. "I know she's happy with Preesh.. But.." I bite my lip. I don't want to break them up, but I can't stand by and watch Eric suffering and hurting like this. "I don't ask much from you, But I'm going to beg you to stay.. Please Eric." I say, my eyes blurry from tears. Bruno has his fists clenched and he's staring at the window. Eric has his hands on the top of his head, his forehead leaning against the wall. I stare at him, waiting. "Alright." he says. Bruno breathes deep and closes is eyes in relief. I do the same. He walks up to Bruno and puts his hand on his shoulder. "I'll be here, as long as you need me. I'm not going to be like Dad." He says. Bruno's breath comes out sharp and ragged. He swallows hard and blinks away the tears in his eyes. Eric pulls him into a rough hug. He lets him go and they both stand there like idiots. I roll my eyes and pull Eric into a hug. "I've never heard him talk like that... Please don't ever leave him." I whisper in his ear. He responds with a squeeze.
* * * *
"Lena!" I jump and the door I have open a tiny crack, shuts, and I hear them stop talking. Bruno covers his mouth so he doesn't laugh out loud. I pick up a shoe and throw it at him. "Asshole." I say, glaring at him. I press my ear against the door. I know I shouldn't be eavesdropping, but I can't help it. I want to know what my sister and Eric are talking about. Bruno starts humming "Please Say You Want Me" a lot louder than necessary. I throw the other shoe at him, and he sticks his lip out. I roll my eyes and go back to trying to be nosy. I hear my sister say: "You've never loved anyone else?" Really Ahm? I can't hear what Eric says back. Damn him for his mumbling. It stays quiet. "Things.. changed. We changed. But my feelings have always been the same." Eric finally says. "What makes me so special?" She asks. Great. Now she sounds like me. "Ahmity, I'm not even going to answer that question." He says. I smile. The older version of me and Bruno. I feel hands on my waist, and Bruno yanks me away from the door. "Brun--" He covers my mouth and throws me on the bed. "How would you feel if everytime we made up or argued, someone was listening?" he asks, raising an eyebrow. I roll my eyes and reluctantly agree to stop eavesdropping. I play with his gold cross chain. "I forgot about why your dad left. I'm sorry." I tell him quietly. He kisses me softly on the lips. "Don't be sorry. I'm glad you forgot. It's not really something that awesome to remember." He says. "Did the meeting go good with Mr. Gordy. I didn't even get a chance to ask you." I say. He nods. "It was more of a lecture, than an actual meeting. He don't chew me out as bad as you though." He says, with a smirk. I push him and he laughs. "So I'm guessing that's where you met Phil?" I say. He gets this goofy smile on his face. "Yeah, dude's a trip. But we think so much alike, it's like we can read each others minds or something..." He trails off. I smile at his eyes twinkling. "He understands music the same way I do, You know me and the 80's, he's the same way." He says. The way he talks about him is almost the same way he talks about me. "Should I be jealous?" I ask him, playing around. "Very. He's gonna be my new boy toy." He says, smiling. I bust out laughing and he buries his face in my neck. "Never babe.. Your my only boy toy." He says, and I laugh harder than before. I grab his hair. "Don't ever cut this, or I will cut something else off." His face turns from happy to horror. "Random, scary and very believable." He says. "Ahmity!" We both snap our heads towards the door. "Why is it so hard for you to believe me?! What do you want me to say!? That I moved on! I hate you, my feelings are gone, What?! What can I do to prove to you that what I'm saying is the truth?!" Me and Bruno both instinctively jump up from the bed at Eric's yelling, but he stops me before I open the door. "Leave them." He says. "But!" I bite my lip and walk back to the bed. I hold my breath. "I don't know! Why do I just have to take your word for it?! How do I know you're not lying to me and just telling me this out of the blue?!" Ahmity yells back. Bruno looks at the door. I look at Bruno. "Alright, maybe just a tiny crack." he says, and I jump up and peek over his shoulder. Eric has his hands in his hair, his eyes blazing. Ahmity has tears running down her cheeks, glaring at him. I cover my mouth. She's crying. I shake my head. She lied to me. She still loves him. She wouldn't be crying if she didn't. Ahmity doesn't cry. "Why would I just say it out the blue? I wouldn't have almost fought Preesh, who's like my brother! over you if I was just saying it out of the blue Ahmity!" he yells. He grabs her face, but she pushes him off. He catches her arm and pulls her to him. Their noses touch for a second, and than they kiss. Not only can I see the passion, and trust me, I can see it, I can feel it to. All the bottled up emotions that the both of them had for years, comes out in this one kiss. I close the door. Bruno smirks. "We are gonna be one dysfunctional family." He says.
* * * *
I watch the door slowly close as Bruno walks out. I press the sleeve of his shirt that I'm wearing to my nose and breathe deep. He's never really home anymore. The label takes all his time. I've never felt more lonely, but it's a small price to pay for him, living his dream. I get up and go to the kitchen. Preesh is on the couch, curled up in a ball. I walk over and cover him with the blanket that fell on the floor. I make a bowl of cereal and sit down and eat it. Phred wakes up, turning towards me, his dreads all hanging in his face. I let out a small laugh and he pushes them back. He stretches and gets up. On his way to the bathroom, he grabs my spoon and steals a bite of my cereal. "Hey!" I push him and he laughs, walking away. It's been over 2 weeks that Phred's been living here. He got kicked out of his apartment. I don't mind him, he's like family. But this thing with him and my sister, is very awkward. Her and Eric aren't 'a couple' but.. I don't care what they say. They're a couple. And I can see it breaking poor Phredley's heart. They talk to each other normal, but I can see how bad he wants her. She's been staying at Eric's for awhile, which I think is better since Preesh is here. He comes out of the bathroom and sits next to me, eating his own bowl of cereal. "You okay?" I ask him. He looks a mess and I feel bad for him. I know what he's feeling, I've been there before. He smiles. "I'm wonderful." he says. I pat the top of his head. He looks around. "Bruno's gone already?" he asks. My face kind of falls. "Yeah." I say. He looks at me. "Earlier than usual.. Looks like it's just me and you kid." he says. I nod. "You thinkin what I'm thinkin?" he says, with an 'i don't want to but we have to' kind of look. I sigh. "Job hunting." we both say at the same time. It takes the both of us 3 hours to get ready. I know he's stalling, because I am. Looking for a job is dreadful. I'm not good at interviews, I'm too shy to talk and I'm picky about where I want to work. We drive around for about an hour. I look at him. "Phred." "Hmm." he says, bobbing his head to the song on the radio. "You ever gonna pick a place and get down?" I ask him, smirking. He looks at our surroundings. "Naa." he says, than bobs his head again, driving. He stops at a red light. I happen to turn my head and look out my window, and see Eric's car parked. I squint, trying to make sure it's his. Phred sees too. He glares at the car. The light turns green and Phred screeches off. He's driving fast, which he usually does, but he's mad and that scares me a little. I touch his arm. His hands clench the steering wheel, but he calms down a bit. "Bruno really loves you." He says, all of a sudden. I stare at him startled. "Um, And I really love Bruno." I say. "I've never had that." He says. "You.. haven't?" I ask. He shakes his head. "I've had relationships, but I don't know what it's like to be in love with someone. I think the closest I've got is with your sister." he says. Great. Cause that's exactly what I want to hear so I can feel horrible for him. He shakes his head. "Sorry. I was kind of thinking out loud. It's just that you're a good listener, and I've had that in me for awhile." he says. I rub his arm, and he smiles at me. "Screw this, 2 weeks of moping. I want to do something fun." He says. I laugh. "Like what?" He drives for a minute, than points. All I see is a ferris wheel. "A fair?" I say, excited. I went to a fair once in my life. It was with Papi. "I haven't been to one of these since I was a kid!" he says, getting out of the car. I walk next to him, smelling all the different scents. The screams from the kids and people on the rides, echo in my ears and I get this kiddy feeling in my stomach. "Dare you to go on that." He says, pointing to a ride called The Revolution. It's a huge circle that spins, but at the same time that it's spinning, it's rocks up and down. My heart beats fast. "Never." I tell him. Rollercoasters are one of my biggest fears. He laugs and puts his arm around my shoulders. "It's okay, I'm a sissy too." he says. We spend hours, playing games (and losing horribly) and trying to get each other to go on the scariest rides there. My cheeks hurt from laughing so much. Before I know it, it's starting to get dark. "Wow, we've really been here all day?" I say. He laughs. "I guess so, but we can't leave without riding the ferris wheel." he says. "Heights.. I'm not so good with those." I tell him. He pushes me. "Shut up and lets go." he says. I roll my eyes. Everyone in my life likes to boss me around, and I listen to them. Why? I don't know. The ride is actually kind of relaxing, I just have to make sure I don't look down. He puts his arm around my shoulders. "Tomorrow, job hunting for sure." he says. I laugh. "Unfortunately." I say. "Don't worry, soon you won't need a job. Bruno's gonna be famous and ya'll will be rollin in the money." he says. I laugh harder. "I don't doubt for a second that he'll be famous. I just kind of dread that day." I tell him. "What do you mean?" he asks. "It's just gonna be different, I know I'll adjust, but I'm gonna miss the days were living right now." I tell him. He nods. "Very true." he says. "But it's what he's always wanted to do. He's never pictured himself doing anything else, so as hard as it's goint to be, I will sacrifice for him." I say. "You guys are blessed to have a love like yours. Especially being so young. It's rare." He says. I nod. He's not the first person to tell me that. "It hasn't been easy though.. We've had our share of way too many problems. and we've technically only been together for less than a year." I tell him. "I didn't know that." he says. I nod. "I know you guys have known each other for a long time but it seems like you've been together forever." He says. Phred turned into one of Bruno's best friend quickly, and he might know everything about him now, but he doesn't really know mine and Bruno's history. "We've know each other since first grade. And ever since the day we met, we've been inseparable. We were best friends before anything." I say. "I see, like I said, you guys are blessed." he says. The ride is over, and seemed way too short but it's probably cause we were talking. We get off and start walking out. I look at my phone to check the time, and only than is when I realize I haven't talked to Bruno at all today. He usually calls me when he can, and if he can't call, he'll text. "What's wrong?" Phred asks me. "Nothing.. I'll be right back." I tell him and walk a distance away from him. I call Bruno. It rings for awhile before he finally picks up. "Hello?" I hear Phil laughing in the background. I recognize his laugh anywhere. "Hey babe.." I say. He stays quiet. "Bruno." I say. "Yes?" he says, coldly. That familiar feeling in my stomach returns. "Were you going to call me at all today, or at least send me a text?" I say. Laughing again in the background, and more voices. "I was busy, I didn't have time." he says. I make a face. "Um, okay.. When are you gonna be home?" I ask. "I don't know Lena.. When I feel like it okay?" he says, annoyed. I look at the phone, confused. "I don't get it? What did I do?" I say. I hear Phil say "Get off the phone dawg.." "I got to go." He says. "No you don't. Talk to me. We were fine when you left this morning, I want to know why your mad." I say. He sighs. "I just have a lot on my mind." he says. My blood freezes. The last time he said that, he had taken my virginity and than said it was a mistake. Those words cut me like a knife. "Okay... I get it. I'll leave you alone." I say. In the middle of him saying something, I hang up. I fight back the tears in my eyes and walk back to where Phred is standing. It takes everything I have in me to smile, but I do it. The ride home, I hide the way I'm feeling. Phred has no idea that something is wrong. It's pretty early when we get to the apartment. 8:15 PM. I drag myself upstairs and go to Bruno's room. "You sure you okay Lena?" Phred asks. "Yeah, Just kind of tired from all the fun today."I say, with my fake smile. He laughs. "Okay, get some rest." He gets serious and points to me. "Job hunting. For real tomorrow." He says. I make a serious face like him and point back. "For serious." I say and he laughs. I shut the door, and when I let my body fall on the bed, I break down. The pillow muffles my cries and soaks up my tears. I spent hours crying, and wondering why when everything's going good, something, someway, somehow has to come along and ruin it. I look at the clock over and over. It gets later and still no Bruno. I keep checking my phone. No call. No text. No voicemail. Around 2 something in the morning, I feel myself start to drift off to sleep. I jump, trying to stay awake to wait up for him. My body can't take it and my eyelids are heavy. I convince myself to fall asleep. When I wake up, he'll be here. Just go to sleep Lena.
* * * *
The bright morning sun wakes me up. I squint and roll over, reaching for Bruno. But all I feel is the blanket and the bed. I sit up. He's not next to me. I look at the floor to see if his shoes are there. Maybe he's in the bathroom. No shoes. No leather jacket. No fedora. Bruno never came home.......................................