I try to ignore Lena's comment. I don't want to get confused or think any longer about Bruno. He made clear he's not interested in me otherwise he wouldn't take home another girl, would he? Soon I feel I'm damn tired and we go to bed. But when I lay down I think of Bruno and his cute smile. I can't turn it down even when I force myself not to. But I need to! There never was something between us and never will! I just have to focus on work and get myself back to the flirty and self-confident woman I was and a good man will show up. Also Bruno is not even my type. I tell myself before falling in a deep sleep.
The next day is Sunday. Lena and I spend the whole day together. After sleeping long and having a good breakfast, we enjoy the day with girly things like varnish our nails, having face masques and watching love movies. It is splendid. I didn't have such a day for a long time and it really does me a power of good. I almost do not think of Bruno and Lena luckily doesn't mention him anymore too. I even feel an urge in me to work out a little bit, what we do. Unfortunately the day goes by way too fast. And soon I go to bed again. Tomorrow will be a good day. I found a good band, Mary will be satisfied with and I get the MJ tribute show. Excited and happy I fall asleep.
I come a little bit too late to the office. I just couldn't decide what I should wear. I hate it. Why do I even care? I finally decide to dress casual with skinny light blue jeans and a long sleeveless black shirt. On top I wear a short-sleeved black and white plaid blouse. I put on decent make-up, only mascara and a light red lip gloss. I finish my outfit with my silver star-earings and a plain silver chain with a cross-pendant. My hair I let open.
Beverly is already there and I bet she told Mary the good news. But no, she waited for me! Wow! Together we tell Mary and she's very happy about it. Beverly is unfamiliarly nice to me. In front of Mary she even gives me credits for getting the band. I'm really surprised. Maybe she's not the bitch I thought she is? We prepare the contracts together and go for lunch break. When we come back Bruno, Eric and Ari are already there. The other guys come soon too and we all go into Mary's office. Mary is absolutely delighted with them and I'm so happy that I smile like a fool all the time. A couple of times I catch Bruno looking and smirking at me. Even I wonder what that should mean, I ignore it and focus. I have to stay professional here! We tell them about the show theme and what the client expects from the music act. Before we come to talk about the contracts I go to the toilet. Just when I leave it I run into Bruno.
"Hey." I say emotionless and keep on walking.
"Caroline?" He calls my name and I turn around.
"Yes?" I ask wondering what he wants to talk about.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Yeah sure!" Still wondering. Maybe something about the contract?
"Why did you lie to me?" He asks bluntly looking into my eyes.
"What? What do you mean?" I ask back not knowing at all what he's talking about.
"At Saturday... in the club... you lied to me!" His eyes still staring into mine.
"Erm sorry Bruno. I have no idea what you're talkin' about!" I response sternly.
"You told me you didn't know that I was there. That was a lie! I know that you met Phil and he told you that I'll be there..."
Shit! I knew the moment I said it that I'm screwed. Whatever I have to handle that cool. "Really? Did I say that?" Oh god Caroline denying everything is so stupid. But I don't want to confess so better play the dumb one. "I drank so much. I rarely remember anything. Sorry..."
"Oh please you weren't soooo drunk. Why don't you just admit it? You came there to see me!" He grins at me and shows his perfect teeth. I feel I melt a bit inside. But I stay hard outside.
"Erm no?! I came there because Lena wanted to go dancing and yeah Phil told me that you're gonna be the DJ and so I thought it's gonna be good music and we decided to go there. End of story." I say as bluntly as I could hoping he's satisfied with that.
"I don't believe you one word!" He says back lightly shaking his head.
Great! Why does he have to rub it in so much? "Whatever Bruno. It's the truth. If you don't believe me, your problem... Can we now please focus on the important things and work out the contract?!"
Fully ignoring my request he continues and slowly walks closer to me. "I think you came there to meet me and after you saw me with another girl you got jealous and that's why you deny it now!"
"What??? Jealous??? Me??? That's ridiculous! Why should I be jealous?" I shake my head and back up a little bit.
"Com'on Caro. Admit it! You like me and then you got pissed that I made out with another woman!"
"Bruno! I don't know what I did to let you think that way but I definitely NOT like you... I mean I do but not in THAT way. And I really don't care with whom you go home with! Quite contrary I'm happy for you if you have a girlfriend. The girl looked lovely..." Oh Caroline you so gonna go to hell for lying like that!
He laughs in a dirty sexy way and moves again closer to me. "First that wasn't my girlfriend and second you're even a worse liar than me!" And with that he leans more to me. He places one hand a little bit above me on the wall and lightly leans on it coming even closer towards me.
I lean backwards as much as I can but soon feel the cold wall. I feel intimated but it also kind of turns me on feeling his warm breath against my face. "I'm not lying." Is all I can whisper.
"Oh you do!" He says back and before I can think of anything I feel his lips on mine. They're so soft and also he's pressing his lips cautiously against mine I can feel the demand and desire in it.
I just want to kiss him back when I realize where we are and WHAT we're doing. I push him hardly away from me. He opens his eyes in shock. "How dare you?!" I yell resentful and slap him on his left cheek. Regretting the second I do it but don't show it and step fast past him. I half walk half run the hallway back to the offices. Why do it have to be so fucking long? I slow down a bit after a while realizing what just happened. He kissed me! He fucking kissed me!!! I hear him walking far behind me mumbling something I don't understand. I enter the offices and slowed down more. He fucking kissed me!!! I touch my lips with my fingertips and smile a bit before putting on a poker face again and going back into Mary's office.
The rest of the meeting is as most awkward as it can be. I look seriously all the time. It's so hard to focus and added to that Bruno is adamant that we explain and discuss every fucking small detail of the contract. I try my best to concentrate and together with Mary we answer all of his questions. I keep my serious face not looking in his eyes for one time while he smirks or grins at me everytime I speak. It annoys me a lot. Everyone is pissed off too but he's not deterred and keeps on doing it. After one hour we're finally through and Mary says she needs a cigarette now. "So guys we let you now a bit private time to discuss the contract and think about if you're ready to sign, ok? Caroline can you please join me outside?"
"Sure." I response although I don't smoke.
Outside and after she lighted her cigarette she looks at me sternly and asks. "What the hell is going on between you and this Bruno?"
"I don't know what you mean." I don't even know myself what's going on between us so what should I say to Mary?
"Don't tell me shit, Caro. EVERYbody noticed that there is something going on! So stop acting dumb and tell me! What happened at the weekend? You fucked him?"
"Mary!" I say scandalized. "No! Of course not! I never could be so unprofessional!"
"It wouldn't be the first time..."
I look at her shocked and hurt. I can't believe she said that referring to what happened with Tony.
"Sorry gurl. I didn't mean it like that! I..."
"I learned from my mistakes, Maryann!" I interrupt her.
"I know girl. I'm just worried... There's clearly a tension between you two. Especially after you came back from the toilets. And I just wanna and need to know what happened. Because I'm your boss and more because I'm your friend, your second mother." She says looking at me with her typical heart-warming smile.
"It's... We... I..." I try to form the words. But how? I don't even know myself what's up. So I just spit out. "We met Friday. He was so lovely to me, then he kinda protected me from being used by his best friend. We argued about that, he called me a bitch and I insulted him being a looser. Then we apologized and he gave me the best fun night I had for a long time. We danced, talked, laughed a lot. That was all. He complimented me so much and was so flirty that I thought he's interested. I fought it cause he's 5 years younger than me. Then Lena encouraged me to go to the club he DJ-ed at Saturday. We went there, he made out with another girl in front of my eyes and left with her. I felt dumb and lied to him. He found out that I lied and that I just came there to see him. He confronted me with it when we were outside earlier. I denied it, he didn't believe me and... he kissed me. I slapped him. That's it. But god Mary I have no idea what's going on between us. I like him. He confuses me. I hate it!"
"Hm..." She nods lightly after my little speech. "Ok as your boss I tell you leave it on a working level. I need you to stay professional here. On the other side we only hire him for one show, so it's not like a permanent collaboration... So I rather recommend you as your friend if he makes you feel good go for it! Enjoy his attention. He doesn't kiss you in a hallway just like that! And the way he looks and smirks at you... If I'm not totally wrong he's pretty much into you! So just do it and have a good time! BUT now last but not least as your surrogate mom I tell you, be damn careful! You never know with this young struggling singers, they do EVERYthing just to take another step forwards. They're unscrupulous, they use everybody they can and don't care at all if they hurt you. I know I don't have to tell you! Nobody knows that better than you, thanks to that faggot Tony! He deceived you the most disgusting way he could. And I don't want that to happen to you ever EVER again. So I tell you have fun with him, enjoy your life, let him spoil you, but avoid to put deep emotions in it and always have in mind he could use you. Don't ever do anything you don't want to or regret or could harm you. Ok?" She grabs both my shoulders and looks at me worried but with a small assuring smile.
"Ok." I nod in agreement knowing everything she said is so right and the best way to handle all this. "Thank you, Mary. I love you so much. And I promise you I'll be careful, VERY careful." I hug her tightly and give her a small peck on her cheek.
"Good." She responses and finishes her cigarette. On our way back inside she says. "By the way he's pretty handsome, this boyish cuteness and certain moves and glances he does are really hot."
I grin at her. "I know, Mary. I know."
We get back into the office. The guys suddenly stop talking and Bruno is looking down.
"So my gentlemen how you decided?" Mary asks before an awkward silence comes up.
"Of course we take the job. The contract is more than fair." Phil answers smiling and the rest of the guys nod in agreement also smiling. "Erm and Bruno wants to say something..." He stares at him and everyone does so too.
Bruno glares at Phil and then quietly says. "I'm sorry for takin' on every detail in the contract... I just wanna be sure you know." He looks at me with a sideways glance and continues. "In this business you never know who you can trust."
I swallow. What the hell does he mean by that now? That he can't trust me? But I also laugh inside. The guys must have upbraided him for his behavior that he now apologizes like a little boy.
"It's ok. It's always better to play it safe." Mary says shortly to get this to an end. "Ok if that's clarified now the next step is that you give Caroline and Beverly all your personal data we need for the contract, they make them ready and tomorrow you come again to sign them. If anybody isn't free tomorrow, someone also can take it with him. But you have to bring it back signed latest 'til Friday. Is that fine with you?"
"Ok. Fine. And I suggest that you sit down with Caroline soon the best would be this very day and figure out the setlist. The client wanna have it on Wednesday! So you got one and a half week left to practice before you play it to the client and another one to change if the client isn't satisfied. I believe in you gentlemen to make that good! Ok and now get out and work! You already cost me to much time today."
Everybody smirks, shakes Mary's hand and we leave her office.
"Ok guys, like she said first we need your personal data. So erm Bruno, Phil and Eric can you come over to my desk and Brody, Brian and Jason you go to Beverly's ok?!"
They nod and follow either Beverly or me to our desks.
I write down Phil and Eric's data first. Bruno goes out for a smoke in the meantime. He comes back when I just finished with Eric's and sits down on the chair next to me.
"Hey Eric I gotta talk to you for a minute about the thing, ya know." Phil says patting Eric's shoulder.
"Huh? What thing?" Eric asks him questioningly.
"You know THAT thing." Phil repeats with emphasize and I can see how he nods lightly in my direction with wide open eyes. Bruno also stares at them with a quizzically look.
"Oooohhhh THAT thing." Eric finally says, rushes out of his chair and they head out.
We look after them and Bruno suddenly grins a bit and shakes his head. Some seconds go by 'til I begin to speak.
"Ok Bruno since you and Eric are brothers I guess your full name is Bruno Hernandez?"
He giggles and shows all his cute dimples. "No Bruno is only my nickname. My legal name is Peter Gene Hernandez."
"Oh... okay. Bruno is a weird nickname. How you come up with this?" I ask him curious smiling back a bit.
"From my father. He was a fan of a wrestler in the 80s who's name was Bruno and he said I kinda looked like him, so he nicknamed me Bruno... Somehow I like this name better than Peter... So I'm good."
"Hm I like both names... They both fit to you somehow..." I response and write down his name.
"Do you have a nickname too?"
"Erm beside Caro... no... well yeah actually my dad used to call me Linny..."
"He used to?"
"He died 6 months ago... lung cancer... He was a chain smoker..." I answer sadly. Talking about it is still difficult.
"Oh my sympathies!"
"Thank you. It was hard. He suffered for more than one year, was in the hospital almost the whole time. But it was already in an too advanced stage... So we kinda could prepare for the end..." I get more sad but I feel comfortable with him and he comforts me only with his presence so I continue. "The hard thing is I couldn't really say goodbye to him. I was too late. My mom called me that I should come home as fast as I can. But I was too busy with myself because of..." I stop for a second and Bruno puts his hand on my back slowly stroking it. "...because of other dumb things. And when I flew to Germany he has died the day before..."
"I'm so sorry Caroline. I bet that was a hard time for you." He says consolatory still stroking my back.
I blink a bit and swallow down the upcoming tears. I really don't wanna cry here especially not in front of Bruno. He's still like a stranger to me.
"Germany? So you're coming from Germany?" He asks trying to change the topic. I'm thankful he does.
"Yeah. After school when I was 18 I came to LA for an internship for 6 months. I always dreamed of living here. Well then I fell in love and stayed... the typical story I guess..." I smirk.
"And this guy was the one who broke your heart?"
"No! Tho we quit after some months but we're still very good friends. Actually it's Mary's son. Through him I got an apprenticeship here and after that a job. He and Mary did much for me."
"Wow you were really lucky. But you deserve it too! I heard your accent but it's so minimal. Your english is really very good." He smiles at me
"Erm... thanks?! It would be weird if I couldn't speak proper english after almost 10 years..." I chuckle.
"Yeah you're right." He laughs too. Then Eric and Phil come back.
"I see you guys didn't miss us. You ready?" Phil asks.
Bruno and I look at each other and burst out laughing.
"Erm... no... we... erm... what else do you need, Caro?" Bruno tries to calm down.
"Erm since I only got your name... your birthday and birthplace, your address, phone number, social security number, bank account data..."
"Ok, ok I see you got other things you talked about... but I want you to remember that we have do a setlist within the next 2 days so hurry up and meet us then at Denny's across the road ok?" Eric says a bit annoyed but then he winks at Bruno and they go outside again. Beverly already finished the data of the other guys and they head out too. Bruno and I smile to each other and we finish the rest without any other distraction. After that we leave the office. When we're in front of the office he suddenly grabs my arm and stops me.
"Yes?" I ask back wondering.
"About this kiss earlier... I'm sorry I attacked you like that, but I really couldn't resist. I know you don't believe me and don't trust me at all but I really like you and want to know you better beside the work we do together. If that's fine with you?!"
"Hm Bruno I like you too and I enjoy spending time with you. But I don't wanna rush into things... And you know it's kinda hard to believe you if you make out with another one in front of my eyes..." I look into his eyes trying to read in them.
"Hm yeah I guess that was really kinda stupid of me. But you know I saw you on the dancefloor with this guy and I didn't like that at all and then I wanted to make you jealous plus I drank too much and things got outta hand a bit I guess..." He tries to explain his behavior. "But I want you to know that I didn't take this girl home."
"Hm..." I think a bit what I should think about that. "Well it doesn't really matter to me if you took her home or not. What bothers me is that you just did it to make me jealous! I mean I don't need this childish games! You're younger than me but you're old enough to do better, I think."
"You're right! I'm really sorry and I CAN do better! I'll show you! You'll see..."
"Ok." I say still doubting. "But let's go to the others now. Time to get some work done."
"Yeah ma'am." He wraps his arm around my waist and we cross the street. "Let's do the jaywalk." He says with a boyish rebellious tone.
I giggle. "Uuuuhhhh now the Hooligan gets out hm?!" He grins back to me and lightly pinches me in my side . This guy really could do me good. I start to believe...