“What can I get you ladies to drink?” asked a bartender.
“Umm…rum and cokes please?” Anna asked. They were standing at a VIP bar, next to some pretty darn gorgeous people. “Check out that guy over there, Arissa. He’s hot.”
“Yeah. I don’t have a chance in hell.”
“Girl, you’ve lost so much weight in the last year…where is the confidence you have when you run? And you work? And you are just you? Use it!”
“I have no game…” Arissa whined. They were handed there drinks.
They started to walk toward a purple couch to sit down. It started to get really loud. Singing and dancing was all they could hear.
“Come dance with me…Arisssaaa!” she heard Bruno yell at her, but she didn’t answer him. Anna pushed her to get up.
“I can’t. He’s too good.”
Arissa stood up in her black tube dress and yellow heels. It was a late Spring/Early summer look that she adored. She had on the fake eyelashes and had her hair slightly curled after straightening it after her run.
He took her hand and twirled her around. “My lady.”
“Bruno Mars…” she smiled at him.
“You smell good…” he told her as he whipped her towards him.
“No. Thank you for smelling delicious.” he put his lips right near her collar bone and started to kiss her. She tried to pull away from his kiss, but he had his arms wrapped around her waist so tightly that it was entirely too hard to pull away from him. She put her arms around his neck. Before she knew it they were walking down the stairs to her car.
“Take the long way home, Arissa.” he said when he got in the car.
“We can do that..just ask me to get lost.” she laughed.
“Don’t do that…we both have to be somewhere tomorrow…” he kissed her on the cheek and held her hand.
“I don’t get you…” she said changing lanes.
“What do you mean?” he replied.
“This. What is this?”
“You’re so…I don’t want to say amazing Arissa…”
She laughed at his choice of words.
“You don’t know me. You’ve known me for, what? 1 hours? How do you know that? And don’t tell me that every girl is amazing, beautiful, special, blah blah blah blah, blah, blah, blah.” she started to sound angry. He didn’t know why.
“Arissa?” he questioned her reaction. “You made me happy today. No one has made me smile like you did when I saw you running this morning. And then you didn’t tell me your name. You were so mysterious. It made me so helpless. You turned me on. You turned me on. Like a switch.”
“Shut up! You are so darn cheesy! Don’t think I haven’t heard that song, Bruno Mars!” she wasn’t sure if she should be flattered that he pulled it on her or pissed that he did.
“Damnit.” he looked down to the side of the car where she had a water bottle with stickers all over it. He picked it up nervously and played with the stickers. They sat at a light. She looked at him playing with her water bottle. “It was true though.” he said to her. He touched her shoulder and leaned in to kiss her.
She moved over a bit to the left to keep him from kissing her. “No.” she said very bluntly.”You’re leaving tomorrow morning. I’m going home. Look, we’re back!” she shouted trying to be less awkward. She stopped the car, but the music was still on.
“Arissa…I don’t go into hotel gyms to pick up girls. I don’t give backstage passes to girls that win tickets from radio stations – or girls who come to see me on their birthdays. I especially don’t invite those girls to come with me to my after party and then tell them they smell delicious and then kiss them all over. I know I’m leaving in….” he checked his phone to see what time it was. “7 hours. And you’re leaving in 9…”
Arissa pulled her hair nervously. He took her hand from her hair. She felt his ring and started to tingle. Maybe I should just take a chance. There’s no way I’m going to actually live any if I don’t just suck my shit up and deal with it….She touched his cheek gently and kissed him. It was something she told Anna she wanted to do just to make sure he was real. He sure as hell was. He was so real. He reached over to put his fingers through her hair as he kissed her gently. He could tell that she did not move quickly. She needed to move slowly. He didn’t understand why. She was so gorgeous. But he let her control everything.
“Come with me.” Bruno said to her. He led her to his room. It was a carbon copy of her room, which made sense. They were both paid for by the record company. He grabbed the keycard from his back pocket, never letting go of her hand.
Her phone rang as he opened the door. “Don’t answer it.”
“It’s just Anna. I need to tell her I’m with you.”
“I’m with Bruno. I’ll see you later tonight?” Arissa said hanging up the phone.
He took her hand and started to dance with her humming Somewhere in Brooklyn “She was wearing pink running shoes and her hair in a ponytail…somewhere in Housstttoon…” he laughed kissing her on her neck again. He started to move toward her chest. As hard as she tried she just couldn’t let him do this to her. It was too hard. It wasn’t okay. She moved his head back up toward her neck. “I can’t be that girl, Bru. I can’t. I’m not.” she said moving her hands toward she shoes that she had slipped off as they were kissing.
“Arissa..I don’t want you to be that girl. I know you aren’t that girl…” he started to talk to her as she turned to walk out. “Wait…tell me about yourself. I don’t know you. You know about me…I know you know about me. Tell me what your favorite food is…
“Bean and cheese tacos…” she continued to walk toward the door.
“And when did you graduate from high school?”
“003.” the door started to open. Shit. I need to ask a better question to get her to turn around.
“Did you have a good night tonight, Arissa?” he asked her.
“What?” she asked turning around.
“Of course I did.” she answered him. His eyes were out of this world. They looked sad that she was leaving. Why is he looking at me that way? I am just some random girl that he met in some random city. He won’t even remember me in a week. I just need to leave. He was pleading for her to come back.
“Arissa, just come back and talk to me. I want to know you.”
“You want to know my pink thong.” she said sarcastically.
“Well, preferably. But I know you aren’t going to introduce me tonight. So, I have to take the second best option.” he said matching her sarcasm. “Come, sit down next to me at the table. There’s some fruit…I know you’re hungry.” he said to her.
“Bruno, I’m tired…I think I need to go to my room…” she said after they finished eating the pineapple and watermelon that was neatly wrapped on the table with the note saying “Thank you for your stay-Tom”
“Aww..Rissy’s tired!” He smiled at her.
“And you have to leave in…4 hours!” she glanced at the clock.
“I’ll sleep on the way there.”
“Thank you for….for tonight, Bruno…” Arissa said grabbing her shoes, purse and keys standing up to leave.
“No, thank you, my lady.” he responded. “Let me take you to your room.”
“You don’t have to.”
“Every minute without you…” he sang.
“Shut up! You’re the only person that didn’t go through my Hanson phase with me that knows that. You can’t sing Hanson songs.” she punched him in the shoulder.
“And how the hell do you know that?”
“I have sisters, you know.” he laughed taking her hand and walking her out the door.
They took the one working elevator to her room, careful not to be too loud. It was, after all, almost 4:30 in the morning.
“Arissa…” he whispered.
“Bruno…” she whispered back.
“I had an amazing evening.”
“As did I.”
“I don’t have your phone number.” he said to her handing her his Blackberry.
She punched in her number and let it ring.
“You have my number, now, Mr. Mars. “ she kissed him on the cheek never expecting to hear from him again.
“Good night.” he said.
“Good morning…” she looked out toward the window in the hallway where there was already traffic for the weekend rush hour. Apparently there is a Saturday rush hour in Houston. Hmm.
Five days later Arissa was walking down the Public Relations office she shared with her classmates Natalia and Valerie. The three started out as associates when they graduated from college in 007. They loved their jobs and what they did on a daily basis. Talking, sharing, driving around the city, networking. It was all fun. Arissa’s favorite part of her job, though, had to be the social media. She had just picked up the social media side of the agency about a year ago and was starting to get a good number of followers – nearly 1,000. She wasn’t following very many celebrities, a handful, but those that she did; she never really paid attention to. And then, because it was her birthday and she didn’t feel like working, she decided to check Bruno’s tweets. She had no idea where he was, what he was doing or anything like that. She and Anna had decided not to tell anyone about that night. It was their little secret – although it was a fabulous one. She clicked on the “follow” button and it was like heaven. “Crap.” she said out loud. “Why did I do that? unfollow, unfollow, unfollow!” she screamed at the computer screen. “He’s going to see it! Shit!”
“Dude, the guy has 1 million followers, how is he going to see that?” Natalia leaned over her desk to see what Arissa was yelling about.
“He’ll see it. Trust me.”
“And what’s the big deal? You had one picture snapped with him. Why weren’t you following him before? I’m following him…”
Ding…an e-mail from twitter.
Bruno’s assistant was suddenly following her. She got an @reply from him. “Happy Birthday @ARissHenderson!”
She took a deep breath and went on with her day. It was just a damn tweet. Get the hell over it. You’re in fucking PR.
When Arissa arrived at her apartment that evening there was a package notice on her door. Well thank god they’re there late on Mondays. She wandered to the office to see what it was. She signed the package slip to see a vase full of flowers and a small box.
“We wanted to open the card…” one of the girls said. “But Erica wouldn’t let me. You don’t have a boyfriend, though, do you, Arissa?”
“No…we broke up after New Year’s…”she trailed off with the flowers in one hand and box in another. She put the box down and opened the card.
For your birthday. They smell delicious, just like you. You’re amazing. –Bruno.
“What the hell? How did he get my address? This is really not okay. That’s weird.” She didn’t have his phone number. He only had hers. She couldn’t call him to yell at him for being weird.
She grabbed the box and opened it gently with a butter knife. She dumped a small bracelet on the ground. “Oh…my…” she picked it up and looked at the little flower. It looked like a James Avery bracelet, but she knew that catalog front and back, so it wasn’t from there. She flipped it over and saw a small inscription “Hau`oli la Hanau.”She ran to her computer to google the phrase. “Oh…that’s sweet. It’s Happy Birthday.”
She went to bed after watching TMZ when she heard her phone buzz. It was a text message. “Ugh. My birthday was yesterday. Stop sending me texts…” she whined as she picked up the phone. She hit the on button to see a text from an 808 number. “Oh…oh…my.”
If you’re awake call me. I miss your pretty voice. If not I hope you had a great birthday.
She contemplated not calling him. Why would he want to talk to her? I mean, come on. Then she heard Anna’s voice in her head. Go for it. Just do it.
She clicked the call button.
“Why, hello, there, birthday girl…” he said answering the phone.
“Hi. Thank you for the birthday gift it was great. How are you?”
“I’m fabulous. How was your show tonight?” she asked him remembering he was in Wisconsin.
“It was fantastic. I didn’t get to sing to the girl I wanted to though…” he sighed.
“Oh…why not?” she asked him.
“Because the girl I wanted to sing to was somewhere in Texas.”
She rolled her eyes at his comment and laughed.
“You’re so dumb, Bruno!”
“But it’s true!” he said. “Can I sing to her now?” he asked.
“I haven’t ever had anyone sing to me on the phone….” she replied.
“It will be our first time.” he told her.
“Aww…” she laughed at him.
“What are you going to sing?” she asked him.
“Hmm…” he wondered out loud. I know….” he started to sing The Way You Make Me Feel.
It made her heart skip several beats because she knew it was only the two of them. Oh I wish it was just the two of us…that would oh, I would….I don’t know…she heard a beep on her phone. It was her ex, Robert calling her. She let it go to voicemail as Bruno finished the shortened version of the song for her. She gave him a small clap. “Thank you, Bruno Mars! You were amazing!”
“I’m always amazing.” He complimented himself.
“You’re so full of it, Bruno.” she yawned.
“Why are you always so tired?” he asked her.
“Because I live on the The Other Side, Bruno. You just wouldn’t understand.” \
“Oh shit!” he laughed an infectious, caught off guard by her joke, laugh.
“I ran this morning, went to work and now it’s 1:30. I’m tired. That’s it.”
“I forget that people have normal lives.” he told her.
“Yeah, normal.” she smiled to herself. “But, really. I think I need to go to sleep. You probably do too.” she told him.
“You’re right.” he answered her question.
“Thank you for the great birthday, Bruno.” she told him.
“Arissa?” he asked her before he let her get off the phone. “Come to Vegas in June.”
“Yeah, come with us. We’ll be there for like 3 days. Come on!”
“I’ll think about it. Good night, Bruno.”
“Good morning, Arissa.”
Arissa heard a knock on her door the next evening. She was not expecting anyone or anything so she was shocked to hear the knock the door. If it was anyone it would be Anna, Natalia or her mother bringing her something for dinner.
She opened to door to find her ex-boyfriend, Robert, standing at the door with a dozen roses and a soccer ball in his hand. “These are for you…” he handed her the roses. “And then I thought maybe you could come with us and play soccer. We need another girl. Rachel’s out because of the baby…”
“Oh…umm…thanks…but…I’m really tired.” she looked down at her clothes and realized she was wearing his old high school tennis shirt and a pair of running shorts. Damn. But it was comfy. Fuck him. “You caught me after I put on my pajamas….”
“Oh come on, Rissy..it’s only 7:30. The game starts at 8:45.”
“I said no. I don’t want to go.” He walked over to her and touched her face. She backed up away from him moving his hand.
“Arissa, please…” he pleaded touching her again. This time he leaned in to kiss her. She got tense and pulled away from him. She ran to her room, took off the shirt she was wearing quickly, threw it at him and started to yell.
“Get out of my apartment right now.”
“Who are these flowers from? And your necklace? What the hell, Arissa? What have you been doing? You really are a whore. You were just putting on a front for me.” He opened the card next to the flowers and read it to himself.”Bruno? Bruno? What the hell kind of name is that? Is he some ghetto Mexican guy from the westside you met while you and your chola friends went to Empire? God Arissa. You really have no class.”
“Get the hell out of my apartment. Now.” the last piece of his insult really stung. Tears started to roll down her cheek.
“No wonder I met you online….” he trailed off slamming the door.
She slunk down on her couch in tears. Oh my god. Why would he show up like that? They didn’t need a girl to play. Rachel would have texted me if they needed someone. He just needed to get laid. Of all the times in the world; I was finally gaining my confidence again. I don’t know how much more of this I can take….She started to drift off into sleep, listening to the Style Network. Suddenly her phone vibrated. I don’t want to look at it….but I probably need to look at it….Oh, my, god. Why would he call me again?\
“Hi Birthday girl minus 364 days!” he said in a happy voice when she picked up.
“Hi…how was your show tonight?” she asked him.
“It was great!” he described everything in detail for her. He was so happy. So different that she was. She sniffed to cover up a tear as he finished up talking about something Janelle had done that made everyone laugh that day. “Were you crying Arissa?” he stopped blabbering about his concert to talk to her.
“No, no. It’s allergies.” she covered up the sniff with a little white lie.
“You usually cut me off before I can get to the good part, Rissy, what’s wrong?” he asked her concerned. The use of her nickname caused her arms to tingle. She still wasn’t going to tell him what was going on, though.
“Nothing is wrong. I just have really bad allergies. That’s all.” she felt the tears come down her cheek.
“Those are not allergy tears, Arissa Henderson.” he told her. “What happened today?” he asked her, still with concern in his voice.
“I don’t want to talk about it. It’s the past.”
“When or if you want to talk about it you can tell me, Arissa, okay?”
“So you’re coming to Vegas, right?” he asked her.
“What? You were serious?” she asked shocked.
“Yes! Serious!” he exclaimed.
“No, I’m not going to Vegas! That’s weird, Bruno!”
“But…but…what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas….” he told her.
“Oh?” she questioned him thinking of his past.
“Yes! It stays in Vegas!”
“Okay…maybe.” she responded. He told her the dates and that he would get everything together for her and whoever she wanted to bring – even if it was Anna and her boyfriend. She was surprised he was trying so hard at this. He didn’t have to do any of this for her. She still didn’t understand it. It was so weird. After talking about Vegas she asked him to tell her something she wouldn’t have found online about him. He told her about his family and how he loved them all – how big it was and how he missed not seeing them all the time. She listened intently to everything. “Bruno…I don’t want to fall asleep on the phone with you when you’re telling me all this juicy stuff.”
“Then don’t fall asleep!” he laughed.
She yawned and started, “But I am going to fall asleep.”
“Okay, okay, okay. I know you are. You have the world’s best yawn. It could put anyone to sleep. Good night, Rissy.”
“Good morning, Bruno.” they hung up their phones.