The next morning Noe, her older sister Miley and parents, Beatrice and Gabriel, walked with Zulema slowly down a hospital hallway. ”Mom..are you okay?” her father asked.
”I’m fine. Ask your daughter. She comes to see me all the time. We walk everywhere…” Zulema responded pointing to Noe. Noe nodded her head knowing that her father would be upset had she not agreed. Zulema held onto Noe walking into the open room to see Bruno laying in the bed talking to his youngest sister.
”Oh, see..I told you they would come!” he said in an excited, yet soft voice.
”Dad…how are you?” her father asked sitting down next to his aunt.
”I’m fantastic…but I need to get out of here. I have things to record and people to see…I need to find someone to sing this song…” Bruno rambled.
”He’s okay..he’s been better…” Presley told her uncle.
”I can tell…” Bruno’s son took his father’s hand. ”Dad…you said you wanted to see mom…” he moved his eyes to his mother.
”Hi, Bruno…” she went over to the other side with the help of her daughter in law who set her down in a chair.
”Mom..they’re so cute.” Miley told her.
”I know…” she answered her daughter.
”Bru…I miss you…I want you to come back…” Zulema leaned down near his ear to talk to him.
”But I am coming home…the nurse said so.” Bruno answered. Zulema looked up at them and shook her head.
”Bruno…you need to stay here…they will take care of you better than I ever did or can..” Zulema reassured him.
”Z…I need you though…I need you with me…” Bruno said. ”They said so! Why did they change their minds? I have so much to do!”
”Sweetie..it can wait okay? You need to get better…” Zulema told him.
”Why is he so angry, mom?” Noe asked.
”It’s just something that happens with dementia, honey bee.” her mother answered.
”It won’t get any better will it?” she asked her mother.
”Like we said before, Nohua..he has good moments and bad moments. That’s why we need you to stay with your grandmother. She trusts you…she trusts you more than anyone right now…” they watched Zulema try to reassure Bruno that he was better where he was at a more supportive assisted living facility.
”No!” Bruno exclaimed trying to stand up. Zulema held onto him shaky trying to help him up.
”Mom..don’t..” her father caught her mother trying to support his frail father.
”Dad…let’s go for a walk…” his son said.
”Gabriel…let me walk…please…” Bruno said in a sour voice.
”Dad..you need the help.” her father answered back.
”Let Noe help…she helps me…” Zulema suggested.
”Umm…okay…” Noe said holding on to her grandfather.
”You look just like my sister…” Bruno said. ”But you’re chubbier…”
”Oh..I know Grandpa..you tell me that all the time…” Noe answered looking at her aunt smiling.Chubbier than her. Whatever. Noe thought.
”I want to tell you a story about my wife, Nohua…I don’t know if you’ve met her yet…have you?” Bruno asked.
”I’ve heard wonderful things about her, grandpa.” Noe said following him to a bench near a window.
”We’re going to go talk to the nurses, Noe…stay with him. And listen to his story..again..” her father said.
”I will.” Noe smiled watching her grandfather adjust one of his many hats on his faded grey hair.
”Grandpa..tell me about your wife…” Noe started to get him to talk.
”Well…” he paused trying to find the words to describe her. ”She is beautiful. I knew that the day I met her…and the days after ..I couldn’t stop thinking about her…”
Bruno stood in front of the mirror in his bathroom looking at his face. ”Maybe she is right..it is kind of cheesy…” he rain his fingers along his chin. ”I mean..I got rid of the ‘fro…what the hell…” he picked up the razor and shaved the small goatee off his chin. After running his fingers along it for a few more seconds he instantly regretted it. ”Shit..I don’t even know the girl and she did this to me…” he said to himself.
”Bruno?” Phil knocked on the door watching Bruno’s facial expressions in the mirror.
”You know..Zadeh makes those same faces…” Phil laughed.
”Yeah…after he shaves?” Bruno asked.
”Right after. Dude…why did you do that?” Phil asked.
”Zulema said it would be a good choice..” Bruno said. ”She said it would make me stand out..and she’s all into fashion and shit…so…why the hell not?”
”Okay dude…just..okay..” Phil said walking out of the bathroom.
After finishing shooting the music video for Nothin on You Bruno looked at his phone glancing at the entry he had created for Zulema..or Brooklyn as he called her. He started humming as he texted her.
I shaved the goatee. You’ll have to wait and see it, though.
What? You did? And I have to wait! That’s a bummer. L
It will be worth it. We’ll have to get some drinks when we’re in town in a few weeks.
”Get drinks means have sex, right, Erin?” Zulema handed her boss her cell phone.
”Yeah.” Erin answered handing her the phone back.
”I’m alright with that…” Zulema laughed going back to work.
”Zulema…look at the birds…he’s singing…” Bruno said pointing to the bird in the big cage next to their bench. He started humming the song they were singing.
”Grandpa…” Noe stopped herself from correcting him. ”The bird is very beautiful.”
”The bird is…but you know who is more beautiful than the bird?” he asked. ”You.”
”Grandpa…it’s Noe…not Abuela…” she tried to correct him.
”Oh..Nohua…oh…you…you’re so big! I remember when you were a little baby…” he touched her arm trying to comprehend how she was in her twenties and not a little baby. ”Where is Miley?”
”Grandpa..she’s with mom and dad…” she pointed to the group standing near a nurse listening. I wish I knew what they were talking about. I know I’m the baby…but geez…
”Nohua..I want to tell you about your grandmother…she is so wonderful. But I’m sure you know that already…” Bruno said. ”She made me who I am today…”
A few days later Zulema walked down the busy New York street trying to finish setting up an event for work. She was walking with Lisette who suddenly turned around and grabbed her. ”Zuli…is that Bruno?” she asked pointing to a man in the distance wearing a similar hat.
”Oh please. I doubt it….but we are going into that store…” Zulema answered walking in the same direction as the man with his friends. They walked in the store heading to the back to speak to the person they were looking for. ”It is him…I can tell by his laugh…” she told Lisette.
”Z?” they heard him ask standing near the wall of t-shirts.
”Oh..we thought it was you!” she smiled at him from the middle of the sprawling store. ”Lis…go get Teresa….”
”Oh..oh..yeah…” she turned around leaving them alone. ”So, I guess I didn’t have to wait as long as we thought to see your pretty new look…” she said pulling at his plaid shirt smiling at him.
”Do you like it? Do you think Kelly would approve?” he asked.
”Naw..I don’t think she would, but I do. So that’s all that matters, right?” she answered.
”Darn. I thought I had done better than before…” Bruno laughed seeing someone walk up behind them.
”Zulema! I’m so glad you made it. I have the things in the back. And is this Bruno Mars?” Teresa, the owner of the store asked.
”Oh..yes…hello. I am Bruno Mars.” he smiled shaking her hand.
”This is Teresa Tellez. She is the owner. We’ve been working with her designs.” Zulema explained.
”Oh. That’s amazing. I love your stuff.” Bruno told her.
”I have everything…” Lisette yelled holding a huge bag stumbling through the store.
”Don’t fall, Lis…” Zulema sad. ”I don’t know if Bruno can catch you…”
”Shut up…” she said heading out the door. ”Hurry up.”
”I’ll see you tonight?” she asked Bruno.
”I’ll see you tonight…at 7…” he told her.
”I want to talk to you..” Teresa said to Bruno. ”But I’ll be right back..” she followed Zulema toward the front of the store.
”When did that happen? I thought you were dating that Italian guy?” she asked.
”Oh goodness. My mom thought he was a good choice. We went out for that one event..but otherwise..no…” Zulema answered.
”Well, he’s cute.” Teresa smiled as Zulema walked out the door.
Zulema finished work running to her small 800 square foot apartment to get dressed for the evening. It was going to be just the two of them and she was nervous. The date went from being just drinks to him wanting to take her to some restaurant she had never heard of. She grabbed her phone going through her closet frantically.
”Rivvvaaaaa…what do I wear on a date with a musician?” she asked her older sister.
”Why are calling me so late?” her older sister asked.
”What the hell time is it?” Zulema asked.
”It’s one in the morning…” her sister answered.
”Okay…then I’ll make it quick…guy is hot..he’s short..he’s a singer…not a model…he’s a hipster….what do I wear?” Zulema asked her sister.
”He’s a hipster?” she asked. ”You’re going out with a hipster?”
”Okay..maybe not hipster..more like…old school. He’s wears a fedora and chucks..”
”Oh…if he wears chucks..sweater dress and flats with leggings…” her sister answered.
”What color? Bright, dark. solid, color block?” she asked again frantic. ”Riv…he’s gonna be here soon….” Zulema whined.
”You have all of those in your closet? Geezus sister….go with the color block.” Riva answered.
”Okay. Thank you. I love you. I miss you, good night.” Zulema answered.
”Call me after. I want to hear about the date.” Riva replied.
”I will…” Zulema said ending the call grabbing the blue, red and yellow sweater dress to put on over red leggings. She grabbed red flats hurrying to the door that was being knocked on. She tripped over a coat falling toward the door opening it.
”I bet you fall up the stairs too, Z.” Bruno said smiling at her.
”At least once a day.” she laughed at him. ”Ready to go?” she asked closing the door behind her.
”Let’s go eat…” he said grabbing her hand holding it tightly. ”Thank you for saying yes to tonight.”
”Aww…you’re welcome.” she said leaning in to him. Shit. It’s colder than I thought it would be. She thought to herself. ”When do I get to see your video?” she asked him.
”Soon…soon.” he answered.
”Is this your first video?” she asked him.
”Oh..no…well..that I’m singing in…” he told her.
”What are you like one of those vid girls with the big ass and shit?” she asked him.
”Yes. I get paid to shake my ass in a bikini.” Bruno laughed.
”Damn. I’d pay to see that.” Zulema laughed. ”But serious…you have another video? Another song?”
”Oh..we wrote a song and they needed someone to play the piano…so I did it..” Bruno started to explain his background. ”And that’s how I got here…” he finished.
”Wow..you are more interesting than I thought you were.” Zulema answered him.
”But, I bet I’m not as interesting and mysterious as you are.” he smiled at her sticking his tongue out at her.
”Oh..well..I mean..I don’t know. I’m not nearly as talented as you are.” she answered. He raised his eyebrow at her.
”Well..I can speak Arabic if that makes me any interesting. ”And write it.”
”Woah..write something..that’s so..that’s rad..” he said handing her a napkin.
”Okay…” she scribbled something on it. ”It says Hi, my name is Zulema.”
”Z…are you Arabic?” he asked her.
”I was born there.” she answered him. ”My mother is Saudi and my father is American. He was working in the oil industry when they met. She was a teacher and learning English. They got married like a few weeks after they met. And then they had my sister and me…they live in Kuwait now.” she told him.
”Wow…and you’re not interesting?” he asked her.
”Well..comparatively…” she told him.
”Did you go to school there and everything? You’re like totally American…” he answered shocked. She started to laugh at him.
”We moved to Syracuse to live with my grandmother and then went away to school.” she answered.
”You went away? Where did you go?” he asked her.
”Oh..we went to Hogwarts.” she answered.
”Wait! You’re a wizard too? Oh my god. I need you in my life.” he smiled at her.
”But serious. It was a boarding school.” she told him.
”I don’t know what I would do not being near my parents…I’m already homesick.” he told her.
”It’s hard…” she gave him some tips on how not to be homesick including skyping with her mother and father on a regular basis.
”So I can call you when I get homesick?” he asked her.
”Yeah. And then you can sweep me away to Hawaii.” she smiled at him.
”I can have that arranged.” he laughed at her reaching over to try her food.
”Hey!” she responded taking a hold of his fork moving over to his food to taste it. ”Sharing food is like third date..not first.”
”Let’s skip the first two.” he answered. ”This is way better than mine.”
”So what does that mean?” she asked him.
”You’ll have to wait and see.” he told her as they started to leave the restaurant.
”Oh.” she answered sadly. As they turned the corner heading toward the street to get a cab he grabbed her and started kissing her right in the middle of the street.
”That’s what I do on a third date.” he told her leading her into the cab.
”And after that she was in love with me.” Bruno finished the story.
”Grandpa..I doubt that’s true.” Noe answered.
”Oh it is true. You can ask her.” he said watching the group walk toward them.
”Let’s go back to your room, dad…” her father said holding onto him as they started walking. Her mother followed behind holding onto her grandmother.
”Noe…we need to talk to you..” her mother told her stopping her from entering the room.
”What is it? It’s not bad is it?” she asked.
”Well…” her mother paused trying to hold back the tears in her eyes.
”Mom! Just tell me!” Noe exclaimed. ”Please…”
”Your grandfather had another stroke…” Beatrice answered. ”It really affected his short term memory..he has plaques..”
”Mom! Nooooo….” Noe looked at her mother starting to cry. ”He’s not going to get any better is he?”
”No, Nohua. He’s not.” she said hugging her daughter who started to cry with her mother. Miley and her father came out of the room joining them.
”I just don’t understand…” Noe said. ”He was perfectly healthy a month ago…”
”No one understands.” Gabriel answered his daughter. ”No one.” They all turned around to see Zulema sitting in a chair next to Bruno. She laid her head on his shoulder starting to cry. Bruno wrapped his arm around his wife rubbing her arm. ”Leave them there..she’ll fall asleep with him soon enough..”
”She will be the last person he forgets.” Presley told them.
”I want a love like that…” Miley said walking away with them..
Noe walked down the familiar hallway a week later to visit with her grandmother. The bond between Nohua and her grandparents was stronger than that between her sister and their grandparents- or even that of her numerous cousins, aunts, uncles and even her parents. Noe, now 24, was graphic designer at a small up and coming fashion magazine and website had always loved her grandmother’s past in fashion and dreamed of being equally as inspiring and dedicated to the industry as Zulema was. Noe wore her grandmother’s vintage tennis shoes, skinny jeans and even took her grandfather’s hats every once in a while to compliment her style. Her sister, on the other hand, enjoyed buying brand new clothing from expensive boutiques. It all went well with her job as a teacher and mother. But, Noe was an independent spirit that her grandparents both identified with. Even though Gabriel worked in the music industry with his father, he was stiff and rigid in the way he worked. Beatrice was the opposite- even if she was an accountant. She encouraged her children’s growth and spirit which were emphasized by her mother and father in law. ”Nannnaaa?” she called out walking into the room seeing her washing her hands in the bathroom.
”Oh..there you are. You called earlier. I’m sorry I missed your call, Noe..” she told her grandmother.
”It’s okay Nana..” she told her grandmother picking up fabric sitting near her sewing machine. ”What are you making now?”
”Oh…this is for your grandfather..” she said walking to the chair picking up a piece of bright plaid fabric.
”He needs a new shirt.” she told her granddaughter. ”And this…look…this is for you…” she pointed to a short bright pink skirt.
”Oh…it’s so pretty! It’s the right size right? Grandpa said I was chubby when I saw him.” Noe told her grandmother.
”Oh goodness, Nohua…your grandfather doesn’t know what he is saying. You’re amazing just the way you are.” she smiled at her granddaughter pinching her cheek.
”Nana..when was the first time he said that to you?” she asked her grandmother.
”I think it was way after we went out….he didn’t talk about his music with me…”
”You kiss a girl like that on your third date?” she asked him.
”Yeah…was it bad?” he answered. ”Because I can try it again…”
”I didn’t mean it that way…it was quite impressive.” she smiled at him.
”Oh..it was?” he asked her grabbing her by the waist to walk down the street.
”Yeah.” she answered. ”Oh…loooook….” she pointed to a window display with jewelry on it. ”We were going to work with them…but then they went with someone else…I don’t know why…” she said gazing into the window. ”Who am I kidding…I just wanted to wear it…”
”What’s stopping you from wearing it?” he asked her.
”It’s like six thousand dollars…” she told him.
”Come on….” he drug her into the store. ”She wants to wear the necklace in the display case…the big one…” Bruno told the salesperson.
”Oh..sir…that’s very expensive. It’s a one of a kind piece…I don’t know…”
”Come on, Bruno..let’s go. I was just being silly.” Zulema answered turning around.
”No…she wants to try it on. Why wouldn’t we be able to afford it?” he asked the man.
”Welll….umm…yeah. I…just give me a moment.” he said turning to one of his co-workers.
”You’re going to put that on tonight if it kills us…” he told her.
”Bruno..come onnnn…” she started to leave hearing some teenagers coming toward them.
”Excuse me….has anyone ever told you that you look like that one musician?” the teen asked.
”Bruno Mars?” he answered.
”No, no..you look like B.o.B.” her friend answered.
”Oh…no. No one has ever told me that.” he answered.
”Well you do. He’s cute.” the first girl answered walking away.
”Oh my god…that broke my heart…” Zulema told him laying into his shirt starting to laugh.
”It wasn’t you they were talking to!” he told her.
”Oh…well…still.” she continued to laugh at him.
”Ma’am…here is the necklace….” the man came back to them. Bruno took it from the man’s hands wrapping it around her neck. He clasped it kissing the back of her neck as he pulled away. He watched her eyes light up in the mirror on the counter. Shit…I might regret this if she doesn’t really like me..he thought to himself. ”Can you put that in one of your little pink boxes for her?” he asked.
”Bruno! No!” she shouted.
”Yes..just let me do it.” he told her. ”You deserve it.” he told her.
”I’m going to bring to bring it back tomorrow…” she told him. The salesman suddenly landed on the same page as Bruno starting to play into his game.
”I’m sorry ma’am…there are no refunds or exchanges.” he told them as the man pulled out a box. She looked at the necklace in the mirror again touching the middle of her chest where it landed. Shit..I like it…and there would be no way…no. I can’t. I don’t even know the guy….
”Z…you want it. I know you do.” Bruno told her.
”I….I don’t know…” she looked at it in the mirror losing herself in the diamond pendant not noticing that he had walked over to the other side of the store paying for the necklace. She unclasped it running her fingers through the chain placing it lightly on the counter turning to see him with the man. Shit.
”Come on, Z…let’s goooo…” he sang wrapping his arms around her placing his head on her shoulder watching the man put the necklace in the box Bruno asked for.
”I don’t know what I’m going to do with you, Bruno Mars.” she told him as he reached around taking the box from the man.
”This is for you…” he said handing her the box.
”I have no idea what it could be…” she laughed.
”Open it after I leave…you’ll remember then.” he told her leading her out of the store.
”Okay..if you say so.” she said holding onto his hand on one side holding the box with another. They continued walking down the street with no specific destination in mind.
”Hey Z….I’m gonna write a song about you.” he said stopping at a crosswalk.
”What?” she asked him.
”Yeah..like…red nike high tops listening to hip hop….thought I’d never see her again….but that’s all I got right now.” he told her.
”Hmmmm…but does it get to be on the album?” she asked him.
”Sure. And I’ll call in Somewhere in Brooklyn.” he told her.
”I’m okay with that.” she laughed not knowing that he was serious. ”Oh..ewww…” she felt something fall on her head.
”What’?” he asked walking across the street with her. ”Oh…” he held out his hand. ”It’s raining…come on….” he said starting to run with her as the rain started pouring down. She stopped him halfway through his running motions pulling him toward a building underneath an awning. He pushed her against the wall starting to kiss her placing his hands on her wet hair smiling against her lips. Oh my god. She thought to herself.
”Follow me…” she told him taking his hand leading him to her apartment.
”You’re amazing, Zulema…” he said hugging her from behind kissing her neck.
”Nana…is it this?” Noe asked holding the necklace around her neck.
”Yes, Nohua.” she answered. Noe undid the necklace and placed it around her grandmother’s neck. ”I know he’s gotten you a lot of things, but Nana..this is the first. You should always have it with you…”
”Oh, sweet heart. You don’t need to do that.” she said to her granddaughter. ”But it means a lot. Thank you. I don’t know what I would do without you. Please don’t ever leave me.”
”I won’t Nana. I’ll always be here.” Noe answered. ”Do you want to go sit outside? We can watch the rain…” she said pointing to the window seeing the uncharacteristic rain drops falling on her window.
They walked out to the front of the building sitting on the rocking chairs looking out to the parking lot. ”It’s so pretty here, Noe…but it’s not New York.”
”I know, Nana. I think New York is the prettiest city in the world. But you don’t get to see the mountains and pretty sunsets there.”
”Or the stars. The stars are my favorite. They are my favorite part of Hawaii.” her grandmother thought out loud.
”Nana…what happened after you got to your apartment?” Noe asked.
”Oh yes…yes…where was I?” she asked her granddaughter for clarification.
”You just got back and were going up the stairs…”
”Oh..yeah. That was a good night. But…do you really want to hear about it?”
”I’ll close my eyes if it gets too gross.” Noe said taking her grandmother’s hand. ”I just want to hear about it.”
”So we went upstairs and I was totally acting like Samantha from Sex and the City. It was shameful, Nohua…” her grandmother said shaking her head.
”I thought you were more of a Carrie, Nana.” Noe answered.
”Well, not that night.” she answered.
Bruno followed her up the stairs watching her dig in her purse for the key. As she opened the door to her small New York City loft he ran his fingers along her waist making her jump. ”Oh sorry…” he answered.
”It’s okay….” she answered him grabbing him to kiss him. ”I told Lis that you almost made my panties drop that first night,”
”I’m sorry I wasn’t able to help you with that, Z.” he smiled waiting for her to decide where they were going to go. She grabbed onto him waiting for him to control the movements.
”You know..you’re rather wet…we should probably get you something to wear…” she told him.
”I could say the same about you.” he smiled looking at her wet dress. She walked toward the area of the apartment she had dedicated to her low lying mid modern century bed grabbing the clothes she had left on the bed.
”Wait..I wasn’t serious…don’t change…just….” Bruno followed her toward the bed.
”Just what?” she asked him smiling at him.
”Just stay right there.” he said coming over to her putting his hands on her hips looking at her body which was only covered by her bright red bra and underwear now. He started dancing with her making her laugh.
”This is weird.” she told him. ”You’re still dressed….and wet…” she touched his shirt.
”Then change that…” he dared her.
”Oh, me?” she asked placing her arms around his wet waist.
”Yeah..you…” he said licking his lips looking at her again. She touched his shirt again lifting it up over his head. She looked at his arms realizing she didn’t know him at all.
”How many tattoos do you have?” she asked him.
”Just the ones you see…” he pointed to his arms. ”But that’s really not that important right now….” he said taking her in his arms kissing her so she started to tingle. He touched her so lightly on the back that she could hardly feel it. She shivered feeling his hands go near her bra unhooking it. She moved her hands down to take off his pants.
”Wait…” she jumped back. ”We need….this…” she held out a condom in her hand from her drawer.
”You thought you were gonna get all of this before you even left…didn’t you?” he said pointing to his chest.
”No..it’s our first date…” she said. ”But umm…you have other plans…” she looked down at his pants.
”What? This is normal. That’s me normal, Zulema.” he said. ”And remember, we skipped the first two dates..”
”That is not you!” she said pushing him onto the bed still holding the condom in her hand. She laid on top of him kissing his neck moving down to his chest kissing it slowly. As she kissed him she moved down toward his pants knowing that she had done something to him that turned him on. He was turning her on too. She could feel her body getting warmer as he started to place him fingers through her soft jet black hair. She moved her fingers to his pants and boxers. Pink? Really? She thought to herself seeing his excitement first hand. She moved her hands gently along the excitement taking the condom from the wrapper putting it on slowly hearing his breathes speed up. ”Okay..I think I’m done.” she told him sitting up.
”No, no you’re not!” he shouted seeing her start to flirt with him even more. ”Quit teasing me, Z….” he said grabbing her shoulders kissing her the same way he did earlier. She moved her hands along his arms intertwining her fingers in his moving them up above his head. She kept her hands with his moving down again near his waist.
”Zulema….come onnnnn….pleassseee….” he moaned feeling her mouth around him alternating between soft and hard movements. ”Oh godddd….” he moaned. ”Z…I’m gonna need another oneeee…” he said between his moans. ”Woah…” She lifted her head up holding onto him.
”It’s not there…” she said standing up to grab what he was talking about. She threw the wrapper near the trash. She moved down to him repeating the motions of a few minutes earlier. She felt his arms move down to her back.
”You’re next…” he smirked.
”Bruno….I….I…no one has ever….” she said to him.
”It’ll be our first time…” he smiled at her placing her on the bed moving his hands to her chest touching it the same way he touched her back earlier in the evening. Oh god. She thought to herself. Oh god…she continued thinking as he moved down kissing her stomach. Shit. It’s a good thing I waxed.She thought in between her heavy breathing. He lingered between her belly button and her thighs.
”Just….ohhhh…my goooddddd….” she moaned feeling his lips against her. ”Ohhhh…my…..Bruno….” she let out. ”Holy shitttttt…..” she wrapped her legs around his back grabbing his hair pulling lightly. ”Bru….oh my…I need you…” she cried. ”But don’t stop…oh my god. Don’t stop….” she could feel him smiling against her body. Shit. He’s a cocky bastard…she thought to herself still holding onto his hair moving her hands down to his shoulders digging her nails into his arm.
”Zuli…I think…” Bruno moved up to her face.
”Just do it, Bruno…oh my god.” she moaned feeling all of his body inside her. He moved slowly at first making her cringe in pleasure.
”Oh god….” she screamed holding onto his back hearing him breathing heavily with her. ”Bruno…I’m gonna explodeeeeee….” she cried.
”Wait…wait..I’m gonna make it better..” he told her moving a little to the side making her body even weaker. Woah. She’s amazing. He thought to himself looking at her closed eyes and hair lying on the pillow starting to tangle as he ran his fingers in her hair. She’s so beautiful. He leaned down kissing her lightly in between his movements. ”Z…you’re so fucking amazing….” he said falling on top of her.
”You weren’t too bad yourself.” she laughed playing with his mess of curly hair.
”I have an interview at 5 in the morning, Z….” he said in a sad tone.
”I think your clothes are dry now…” she said sitting up covering herself with the bright pink sheet on her bed.
”Yeah.. I think so too…” he said putting on his clothes. He kissed her lightly on the lips starting to walk out the door. ”I’ll call you tomorrow, Zulema…good night.” he kissed her one more time closing the door behind him. She put on a t-shirt walking into the living room picking up her clothes to put in the laundry basket. She picked up her sweater watching the small pink box fall onto the ground.
”Shit…” she said to herself.
”Nana! You weren’t lying! Oh my gosh. I had no idea.” Noe exclaimed at the end of the story.
”Your grandfather would say he stayed longer than that. But he knows he’s lying.” her grandmother said shrugging her shoulders watching the rain.
”Ms. Hernandez….we need you inside…there’s a severe thunderstorm warning…” one of the nurses came out to see Zulema and Nohua.
”Oh…yes…yes…let’s go back inside mi love..” Zulema said struggling to get get out of her chair with her granddaughter behind her.
”Nana….when did Doo-wops and Hooligans come out?” Noe asked. ”That’s when you two met, right?”
”We met before that…we met when he was working on his EP….” Zulema answered.
”Oh…so…when was that?” Noe asked.
”It was just before Doo-wops.” she answered.
”And he wrote that one song about you, right? The it’s back to the traiiinnn…” she sang the song to her grandmother.
”Yes. That one.” her grandmother answered.
Bruno flopped down on the couch of the small bottom floor studio later the next day.”I think I’ve got something…” he told Phil and Ari.
”Let’s see it…” Phil said.
”Okay….so it goes a little like that….” Bruno started dramatically. ”She was covered in leather and golddddd….”
”That’s about that girl!” Phil told him.
”Yeah…she’s inspiring.” Bruno answered.
”Oh…getting serious are we? Are you even gonna call her back?” Phil asked.
”Why wouldn’t I?” he answered.
”Because you totally cut her up.” Phil answered.
”What? Why would you even think that?” Bruno acted confused.
”Oh come on. You texted me on your way to her place. Don’t even lie.” Phil said.
”I don’t kiss and tell.” Bruno answered lifting his eyebrow.
”Ha. Whatever.” Phil answered. ”I think I’ve got something to go with that….” Phil said singing a piece of the song. After the brief exchange they worked on the song for the rest of the day.
Zulema sat in front of her desk answering all the e-mails she had dancing to the music through her headphones. ”Zuli! Earth to Z!” she heard her boss yell at her.
”Oh..oh..sorry. I was in the zone.” she answered.
”Did you get drinks with that guy?” Kelly asked.
”Oh..yeah. We did. We got drinks.” Zulema answered.
”Woah..you did?” Kelly asked. Zulema lowered her head embarrassed.
”Yeah. And then he left.” Zulema admitted.
”Oh, honey. It’s okay. You’ll find the right one….” Kelly said.
”He bought me that necklace…” she said quietly.
”The necklace?” Erin asked.
”Yeah…all six thousand of it. Just bought it.” she told them.
”So you’re a whore, too?” Kelly asked. ”I knew there was a reason I hired you.”
”Oh shut up. I’m taking it back after work.” Zulema answered.
”I think that would be the only thing to do.” Kelly answered.
”It will be sad..but I’m gonna do it.” she answered.
Zulema finished her work walking down the stairs outside into the drizzling rain. Damn. She thought to herself grabbing the umbrella. ”Hey..Steph..did you want to come with me to return this?”
”Oh…sure..I can do that with you.” Stephanie said walking in the rain with her friend.
”What the hell?” Zulema gasped looking ahead of them seeing Bruno sitting in front of the store with a rose in his hand. ”Bruno! What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be in the studio today!”
”I wanted to make sure you didn’t make a mistake.” he told her handing her the rose. ”I’m sorry about last night. I was a jerk.”
”Umm…I’m gonna go…” Stephanie said backing away. ”I’ll see you tomorrow, Zuili…”
”What are you talking about?” Zulema asked. ”You had to be somewhere. I would have done the same thing.”
”It’s just not my style. I wanted to make it up to you…” he said handing her the rose.
”Bruno…this is more of a first date gift than the necklace..” she told him holding the pink box.
”You get both.” he told her pushing the box back toward her.
”I’ll just wait until you’re out of town.” she laughed.
”Good luck with that. I’m here for another month.” he smiled at her.
”Damn.” she answered in a defeated tone.
”Come on..let’s go.” he said grabbing her hand.
”Where are we going?” she asked.
”Just a small little show…” he told her heading toward the subway.
”Bruno…this better not be in Jersey or something…” she answred.
”No. It’s not.” he laughed at her. He asked her how her day was and she returned the questions as they sat on the subway for about 15 minutes. ”Okay…come on…” he said standing up to get off. ”This is our stop.”
”Where are we going? I only come here when Kelly sends me here…” she said looking around the area. He led her down a few blocks walking into a small house.
”This is the small performance?” she asked. ”It’s a house, Bruno.”
”No, no. It’s our studio. You know….Ari and Phil and me. This is like your closet….”
”Wait…are you coming out of the closet? After last night?” she asked.
”No! No!” he exclaimed leading her into the room. ”Sit down. I want to sing you something…”
”What?” she asked.
”Just shush..it’s my art and I want to share it with you, so shut up!” he laughed picking up the guitar strumming it. ”Little miss perfect sitting at the traistop red nike high tops stop listening to hip hop while we were waiting starting conversating…before I got her name along came the train……next stop Brooklyn….now I’m looking…she was covered in leather and gold..24 years old…I lost her in the cold…” he continued the song making her melt on the inside. ”What did you think?”
”Can you make me younger? Like 21?” she asked. He sang it to himself.
”21 years oldddd…yeah. I can make you younger.” he laughed at her.
”I knew you didn’t take it back, Nana! I knew it!” Noe said taking a bite of her lunch.
”I was going to try really hard.” her grandmother answered. ”But he said he was sorry. So, I had to hold on to it.” she said. ”And it lasted longer than the rose.”
Nohua laughed at her grandmother’s joke. ”Nana…do you get sad? They changed the name on your door…”
”I’m still crying, Nohua. I just want to be with him. This is the longest we’ve been apart from each other since your father was a child.” her grandmother said softly.
”So like 50 years” she asked her grandmother.
”49 years, Nohua.” her grandmother answered with a small sniff.
”Nana..don’t cry. We’re going to see him this weekend again. And it’s your anniversary…”
”I think I’m done eating….” he grandmother pushed her food off to the side of table. ”I think I need a nap.”
”I’m sorry, Nana..I didn’t mean to make you sad….” Noe said caught off guard by her grandmother’s sadness.
”No, no, honey. It wasn’t that. I’m just very tired. I had therapy this morning. I’m just worn out.” her grandmother reassured her. Noe followed her grandmother back to her small apartment. She watched her grandmother move to the couch where they had sat a few days earlier. Noe handed her a blanket ”Don’t forget the skirt, my love. It should fit you perfectly.”
”I won’t Nana. Have a good day.” Noe responded..
”I will, Nohua.”