“Riss?” Bruno flung his hand over onto an empty bed.
“Where are youuuu?” he whined. “I’m totally DTF…” he got up from the bed looking for her. “Arissa?...Oh…” he found a note on the counter.
“I went for a run on the beach. I’ll be back in like an hour. I don’t have my phone. I’ll be okay. Love you.”
“Well fuck it. I’ll just go back to bed.” Bruno went back into the room stretching out in the bed.
He went back to sleep only waking up when he heard the door close loudly. “Damnit…shut up, door.” Arissa said quietly.
She walked into the small kitchen grabbing a bottle of water practically finishing it in one gulp. She threw it in the trash, grabbed a banana and walked into the small bedroom.
“I’m sorry I closed the door so loud.” She said looking at Bruno who was just stretching to get up.
“I needed to get up.” He told her. “I also needed to see my smokin’ hot wife.” he said standing up kissing her.
“Eww. That’s gross, baby. You got all my Seychelle sweat all over.”
“Deal with it.” he said kissing her again.
“Shower…” she told him running into the bathroom.
“Babbbyyyyyy….come bacccckkk.” he whined.
“Five minutes.” she told him.
Bruno watched Arissa get dressed while he pretended to check his e-mail.
“Stop pretending to watch me and just over here.” she told him. He laughed at her walking to her wrapping his arms around her.
“How far did you run?” he asked her.
“5 miles. There were mile markers.” she told him as he moved in so close to her that she could feel him breathing.
“I don’t know how you do that. I’m dying at , sweetheart.”
“I don’t know how you do half the things you do, Bruno.” she answered moving in as close as possible to him. He started singing the song he had shown her in the studio. He started dancing with her through his singing.
“Riss…just follow me…” he told her.
“Bruno…I can’t do it. I can’t dance.” she laughed at him. He put his hands on her waist moving away a little so he could move her to the beat he was thinking of.
“Yes you can.” he told her holding on to her moving the same way she was.
“Wait…stay right there.” he told her.
“What are you doing?” she asked him.
“We need music..you can’t learn how to dance just to my voice.” he told her.
“But I want to learn to dance to your voice…” she told him.
“No..you need music.” he told her pulling out his ipod changing it to his demo version of Runaway.
“Aww…I like that one.” she smiled at him holding out her hand. He spun her around bringing her in close to him.
“Now, just follow everything I do, even my feet.” he told her.
“But then I can’t see your face.”
“Just do it, Riss. “ he said pulling her to him. She started moving her feet with his stepping on his toes.
“I’m sorry.” she told him. He laughed at her moving her in to him again. After Runaway ended his ipod transitioned into I Swear by All 4 One. “Bruno….this song. It’s so…so…just perfect.” she said moving to the beat of the song. When she finally started to feel the way he was moving he stopped her kissing her.
“I knew you could dance.” he told her. “And you look damn sexy doing it.”
“Stop. You’re going to make me blush.” she answered as he picked her up spinning her around the room. “Oh my god. I’m going to be sick. Stop spinning me arounnndddd.” she screamed.
He placed her on the couch laying down on top of her to kiss her again.
“Bru…you’re going to make me walk like an old lady.”
“That’s what I wanna hear!” he said lifting her back to take off her shirt.
“But I won’t mind it…: she said sitting up so he could take off her shirt.
“Riss…wake up…” she heard Bruno’s voice in the middle of their flight back home.
“I’m awake..I’m awake…” she said startled.
“We’re home…” he told her.
“Oh my gosh. I cannot wait to sleep in my bed…” she told him.”I don’t know how you stay away for so long…” she looked at him rubbing her eyes.
“The only thing that really bums me out about it is that I can’t sleep next to you.” he told her.
“Shut up! You’re cheesiness has no bounds.”
He shrugged his head. “I know.” he smiled at her.
As they walked toward the baggage claim area a few people snapped pictures of them. He grabbed her hand tightly to make sure she was okay. “I’m okay. At least I have a tan now.” she told him letting go of his hand. They stood by the luggage area for a few minutes along with the rest of the bicontinential passengers.
“I’ll get ‘em Riss…go sit down.” he told her.
“I’m fine right here.” she said bumping into his side. He put his arm around her shoulder squeezing her tightly.
Arissa turned her head to survey the crowd.. She crinkled her nose seeing that familiar face again.
“What is it?” he asked her. She moved her hand from his pointing in his direction.
“Ignore it. Don’t look at him.” Bruno told her. “He’s not here. It’s just you and me.” he tried to reassure her.
“It’s weird, Bruno.” she told him. “Really weird.” Bruno led her to the other side of the crowd.
“Can you see him now?”
“Perfect.” he told her grabbing their suitcases as they rolled by.
“Let me take mine.” Arissa said taking her pink and black suitcase rolling it next to Bruno. She held her head down as they made their way to the door.
“Arissa…” she heard Robert say to her.
“Don’t do it, Rissy.” she heard Bruno say under his breath.
She shook her head no.
“Arissa…please…” she heard him plead. He ran up behind her to stop her.
“Jesus Christ, Robert. Just get away from me.” she said to him.
“Just please, let us go home.” Bruno said to him keeping his calm.
“Arissa…I’m sorry. I need you.” he said quietly.
“I don’t need you. I never needed you. You need to go back to wherever you are working. And please, just stay away from me…and from my life…forever.”
“Arissa….I won’t give up.” Robert told her.
“You’re fighting a losing battle, Rob.” Arissa replied pushing past him to get through to the door. “Come on, Brunz. Let’s go.”
Robert ran out the door to get her.
Arissa touched Bruno’s arm making sure he didn’t do anything he would regret. “Bruno…no..really…let’s go….” she said pulling his arm. “Please…please…” she begged him. They gave each other the same death stares that she and Robert shared nearly weeks ago.
“You’re not even worth it, bro.” Bruno told him letting Arissa pull him away.
As they made their way to the car Bruno started to talk. “I swear to God, if I ever see him again, Riss. He won’t even remember what he did to you.”
“Bruno…you need to just let it go. There’s absolutely no way that I will see him again….” she paused. “Because I’m never flying out of LAX ever again.”
“Why would you even avoid him like that, Arissa? He’s winning if you do that.” he told her.
“He’s not winning. I just don’t want to deal with it. He can have the fucking airport.”
“No, Arissa, no. You can’t hide from the world because he is doing this to you.” he responded angrily.
“What else am I supposed to do, Bru? It’s not like I fly that much…” she told him.
“But you do at times. When you go to New York, when you go to Italy…when you come with us on the weekends. Rissy, baby doll…he’s just…ugh.”
“Bruno, I’m over it. He obviously isn’t.” she answered. “But….the thing is…I think I would be with him now if it wasn’t for you.” she confessed.
“What do you mean, Arissa?” he looked at her confused.
“He was the only person ever to tell me he loved me, to even find me remotely attractive. And I needed that. And he gave it to me. And then you showed up, all Bruno-y. “
“I didn’t try to get in your pants after knowing you for 30 minutes.” he said bluntly.
“Well…yeah….” Arissa said quietly.
“I’m not gonna lie, I thought about it.” He said. “He just makes me so angry…Arissa. He feeds off of your insecurities. He knows you worry about things...and instead of trying to tell you it’s going to be okay…he…he…took advantage of them.”
“I know he did.” she responded to Bruno.
“I just don’t know why you let him get to you like that. You are the most amazing girl in the world…you are so beautiful…and you know who you are…and you’re smarter than anyone I know in the world. You could beat Ken Jennings….and you’re so damn good in bed…even if I am only your second….” he rambled about her qualities. “I could go on for days, Arissa. I just don’t know why you let someone that horrible to get to you.”
“Bruno…if I knew I would stop. And of my gosh. You drive me crazy. You make me feel like Miss Universe…every single day. But I can’t change what happened. It happened. And it will always be in my past and it will always, in some way affect me. You just have to realize that. It’s part of me, just like your struggles to get signed. I know you get nervous during every single label meeting. When you call me before you go into those I tell you that you’re the most amazing musician, writer, producer, performer with the best voice I have ever hear in my life..not to mention you’re hella good in bed.” she told him.
“I guess I never saw it that way…” he thought out loud.
“I know you didn’t.” she took his hand from the wheel holding it. “Bruno..I try to keep it from messing with my head. And it’s a whole lot better than it was last year. You know that…”
“I do, Rissy. I do. I just wish I could make it all go away for you.”
“I wish it would, too. But, since it’s not…I’ve gotta deal with it.”
“Arissa…I will never hurt you. I hope you know that.” he said leaning down to kiss her hand.
“And I won’t ever hurt you, Bruno.” she answered.
Bruno watched Arissa sleeping in their bed curled in a little ball like she always was. He laughed at her while he got in bed next to her. He felt her toss and turn several times throughout the night, even hitting him in the face lightly a few times. He turned around facing her wrapping his arms around her to comfort her from whatever she was dreaming about…whatever it was.
“No! I’m not doing that!” Arissa yelled. She was sitting in Robert’s late 90s Mustang in the middle of nowhere in Texas.
“Why not, Arissa? Why not?” he yelled at her.
“Because! It makes me uncomfortable. It’s just not something I would ever do. Just stop it. Geezus.”
“Fuck you, Arissa. If it wasn’t for me you wouldn’t even be in Houston tonight. No one wanted to go with you.” he snapped at her.
“Anna said she would go. She was all ready to go. I wanted you to come with me because you had the day off. If you didn’t have the day off I wouldn’t have asked you asshole.” Arissa yelled back.
“Oh, so now I’m an asshole? Because I put up with your moody ass? One second you’re all about me and the next you’re pulling away. Make up your fucking mind, Arissa. Oh my god. You’re so annoying sometimes.” He said turning up his techno music. I hate that music. She thought to herself. She grabbed her ipod putting on the Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae playlist she had made for the trip..thinking that Anna was coming with.
“I wouldn’t catch a fucking Grenade for you, Arissa. Not when you’re acting like this.” he answered her change in music.
“Good, because I wouldn’t want you to.” she answered sarcastically.
She sat quietly suddenly arriving at the ritzy hotel. She grabbed her overnight bag not listening to his instructions walking into the hotel.
“Arissa! Listen to me, geez.” Robert said running up behind her. “I’m sorry…” he said as she turned around fighting his strength.
“I don’t want to talk to you right now.” she answered him.
“I’m going to fucking leave you here, Arissa Henderson. God. You’re such a pain in my ass.” they had the heated exchange in the lobby.
“I really don’t care at this point. You should of stayed at home. The only reason you wanted to come was to have sex in the hotel room…and in your car…and at the concert…you don’t even care.” Arissa said loudly. A handful of guests turned around to see what she was saying.
“Just come to the room, Arissa…please...” he told her. She stared at him trying to decide what to do. He squeezed her arm digging his nails in her.
“That hurts…a lot.” she said as he drug her towards the receptionist. She checked in all while he held on to her arm. The person checking them in finished up everything on the computer handed them two key cards and walked away. “Let go of my arm, Robert.” she said with her teeth clenched.
“You’re going to listen to me, Arissa.”
“Fucking let go of my arm.” she wiggled her arm out of his grip walking quickly to the stairs and not the elevator she was supposed to be using. She rounded the corner with her overnight bag and laptop bag with tears running down her cheek. Robert ran after her grabbing her other arm as she ran into someone.
“Woah..I’m sorry. You were running…” Bruno said to Arissa.
“Come on Arissa…god.” Robert said as she ran into Bruno.
“I’m sorry…I’m sorry…”Arissa said quietly looking up to see Bruno’s brown eyes looking at her.
“I think you’re hurting her…” Bruno said lightly taking her hand away from him. Arissa couldn’t help but fall into Bruno’s arms. “Are you okay?” Bruno asked her. She felt herself starting to cry into his white shirt.
“Don’t let me go back to him, Bruno…please…” she whispered low enough for him to hear her but for Robert to be confused by what was going on. “Please..save me from him…” she whispered into his shoulder.
“She’ll be okay with me, dude…just go to your room.” Bruno told Robert.
“She’s my girlfriend, Bruno Mars. She’s not yours.” Robert snapped back at Bruno.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but she’s obviously upset at you…” Bruno told him lifting Arissa off of his shoulder to have her face him.
“I don’t want to see you ever again…..” Arissa yelled.
“Bro…hurry up! We have to go!” They heard another voice. Bruno’s body guard walked up behind him. “Bruno? What’s going on?” he asked.
“This dude needs to be punched in the face.” Bruno said.
“Oww…” Arissa winced as Bruno held on to her arm. Dre took Arissa from Bruno to watch what was going to happen.
“She’s coming with me…” Robert said taking Arissa shoving Bruno out of the way. Even if Arissa didn’t know Bruno she could feel his blood boiling.
“No, she’s not.” Bruno replied taking Arissa’s hand back.
“Arissa, come on….” Robert said gently.
“No.” she answered taking Bruno’s hand.
“She said no, Robert.” Bruno responded.
“She’s coming with me…come on, Arissa. Get your shit together. You’re so annoying. And to think we came here to see this annoying fuck.” Robert said turning around holding Arissa’s hand forcefully. Arissa’s eyes darted between the two men. She knew Robert was going to either hit Bruno or her. He’d hit her a few times before, but not in front of anyone.
“Bruno, do….” Bruno swung his arm so hard there was a pop when he hit Robert’s face. “Oh my god…” Arissa gasped.
“Don’t ever talk to a girl like that.” Bruno yelled at Robert as he took Arissa from Robert giving her a reassuring hug.
“Are you okay, Riss? Rissy? Wake up…”
“I’m fine…I’m fine…you saved me…Bruno…thank you…” she said out loud.
“Saved you from what, sweetheart?” he asked her running his fingers against her face full of tears.
“You…he hurt me…in the hotel…and you saved me from him.” she cried throwing herself on his chest crying.
He ran his fingers through her hair. “Shhhh…Riss…it’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay.” he said to her softly. “I’ve got you, baby doll. He’s not going to hurt you again. Never again…”
“Bruno…he hurt me…” she said throwing herself against him again.
“Never again sweetheart. Never again…” Bruno said into her ear. She moaned softly the way she did when he got in bed with her after he got home. She has no idea what just happened. He thought to himself. I guess we’ll never know what she was dreaming about…but I’ll ask her in the morning. Bruno thought to himself closing his eyes laying his chin on her head.
Arissa woke up laying on his shoulder. She stretched out getting out of the bed to look in the bathroom mirror.
“Oh my god…why are my eyes so red?” she said out loud. “I better not be getting sick…” she continued talking to herself knowing he wouldn’t hear her. “And my head hurts…” she scratched her head grabbing Tylenol. This better go away by tomorrow. I have to go to work.
Arissa finished brushing her teeth and hair going back out into the bedroom. She saw Bruno on his phone.
“Hey Sexy…” he said giving her a seductive smile.
“Good morning.” she smiled laying back in the bed next to him leaning over to see his text messages.
“Riss? Are you okay?” he asked her putting his arm around her shoulder.
“Yeah. Why?” she asked him confused.
“You had a horrible dream last night. You woke up talking about how I saved you.”
“Oh…I don’t remember.” she shrugged in his arms. “I’m still tired, though.” she told him.
“Then go back to sleep, babe.” he told her kissing her on the head.
“I just might.” she said sliding down in the bed so his arm was all the way around her.
“Hmm?” she answered.
“What do you want for breakfast?” he asked her. She didn’t answer.
“Geez, woman. You weren’t lying…” he said kissing her as he got up to get something to eat.
Arissa walked out into the kitchen wearing her pajamas with one of his sweaters on about an hour later.
“You look hot in that…” he looked her up and down as she walked over taking a piece of the French toast sticks he had made.
“You don’t have to remind me.” she smiled back at him as he handed her a plate dripping in syrup.
“But don’t spill on it, babe.” he said watching her lift up the fork drenched in syrup. She made a move pretending to drop it.
“Whoops…” she laughed. “What are you going to do?” she asked him.
“Make you wash it.” he said nudging her to move over in the bench seat they had against the wall.
“You could say please…” she eyed him.
“Naw. I don’t play that way, Riss.” he flirted with her. “Arissa?” he asked her changing his tone.
“Yeah?” she asked.
“You need to press charges against him.” he told her.
“What?” she asked with a confused look.
“He raped you. Arissa..please….he’s only going to do it again.”
“Bruno, no. I can’t do that.” she told him.
“Why not?” He asked her confused.
“I just can’t.”
“Arissa...at least consider it. He hurt you. You know he slept with a lot of other girls. What if he did that to them too? You’d be standing up for them.”
“Bruno. I can’t. It’s too much.” she said quietly. “And it’s in the past.”
“Arissa….” he paused taking the fork from her hand holding the empty hand. “I don’t push you to do a lot of things. I don’t. But this is one thing you have to do. You have to go home and put him in jail for what he did to you.”
“Bruno…I’m not doing that. I’m just not.” she said sliding out of the seat from the other side taking both their plates. “I don’t like people knowing about me, Bruno. I don’t want to anyone to find out it happened. The whole being a spokesperson for the earthquake really showed me that I can’t do it. I just can’t. I’m not a role model. I’m just not. I’m just a normal person. And you don’t realize that. There’s nothing extraordinary about me. I will never be the super hero girls are looking for. I’m just one of the however many girls in the world that have gone through this. That’s it.” she said walking the dishes to the dishwasher.
“Arissssssaaaa….” he continued calling her name until he ended up right next to her.
“You are extraordinary….There is nothing ordinary about you. Not a single thing. Arissa. I just want you to be okay. I know you’re hurting. And I tell you every single day that it breaks my heart to see you like that. I want you happy. And until you’re happy, I won’t be happy.”
“Don’t make me out to be a bad person because I won’t take him to court, Bruno. Please.”
“I’m not, Rissa…I’m not.”
“It sounds like you are.” she told him bluntly.
“That’s not what I’m trying to do to you, Arissa. You were never the bad guy. You were always the good guy. You always will be. And I don’t think you know that….” he said taking her hands holding them up to kiss them. He saw a tear come down her cheek.
“Bruno, you make me all tingly.” she smiled watching his fingers come up to wipe the tears away from her cheek.
“Don’t cry, babe. Don’t cry.” he told her.
“I just want it to go away, Bruno. It just never goes away. “
Arissa walked toward the big historic building surrounded by others near the court house. Bruno walked behind her inconspicuously not being noticed by any of the lawyers, workers or jury members hustling to get to court by 8am.
“Bruno…” Arissa called him.
“I’m right here, babe.” he said taking the hand she held out.
“There it is…Jenna Evans, J.D.” Arissa read out loud. After their exchange the day after they came home from their trip she decided that he was right. It’s not going to get any better if I don’t just do it. I have to. Bruno had somehow found out the days Robert wasn’t at the airport ensuring no other run-ins in Los Angeles when they flew back to her hometown. She had called one of her classmates that had run off to law school after graduation. She had several friends that had gone that route, but Jenna had somehow found her way to partnership in a small three person firm.
Bruno opened the heavy door for Arissa leading her into the office.
“Arissa?” she heard a voice from the side.
“Jenna! Oh my gosh!” Arissa said giving her a hug.
“You look so hot!” Jenna exclaimed as she hadn’t seen Arissa in 4 years.
“Yeah. I try..” she said.
“And who is this?” Jenna asked eyeing Bruno.”
“Nice to meet you, Jenna. I’m Bruno.” he smiled at her making Jenna obviously weak in the knees.
“Yeah. He’ll do that to you.” Arissa smiled.
“Alright…let’s go talk about why you’re here…” Jenna said leading them into a large conference room closing the door behind them. Jenna began asking her routine questions with a tape recorder near her.
“He’s usually the one being taped…” Arissa said as she clicked on the record button.
“Sorry, hun. You know the deal.” Jenna said.
“Okay, now tell me about the night when all this happened.”
“Which time?” Arissa asked.
“The first time, and then we can talk about the others.” Jenna answered. Bruno looked at Arissa slightly caught off guard by the last part of their exchange.
“The first time was on our third date….”
“And where was that at?” Jenna asked.
“We went to Kona. And after that he said he wanted to spend more time with me, just to get to know me…I didn’t think that was a bad idea…until he took me to the greenway at 9 at night. And he started kissing me. I was okay with that…but then he got uber handsy. Like he touch my butt and tried to get into my shirt…my shirt was kind of big..but still. He had to try. He kissed me all over…and I kissed him back…and then he undid my pants. I didn’t stop him…but then he started taking off his shirt and I was like ‘no…not yet…no…’ he kept pushing…and pushing..” Bruno sat there in awe. This wasn’t the story she had told him before. “And he knew..he knew I…I was a virgin. He knew it. But he kept saying that ‘life isn’t a romance movie…’ while he kept touching me. I figured he was probably right…for a few seconds. Then I told him to stop..I didn’t know him. That’s not what it was about for me…but he didn’t listen. He just kept going,…I kept saying no…but he didn’t stop. And then when he took me home…he texted me saying how great it was…how great the night was. How he wanted to do it again. I just put it away as a shitty way to lose my virginity…I wouldn’t be the first nor would I be the last for it to happen to.” Arissa continued telling Jenna about all the times it happened. Bruno listened to her go on about he touched her when she didn’t want to be touched, when he verbally abused her for not wanting to be touched, how he hurt her almost every single time he did touch her, how she put everything in the back of her head letting him take advantage of her. She recalled only two times when she enjoyed their time together. When she finished her statement she turned around to say something to Bruno. “I’m sorry.”
“Arissa...don’t be sorry.” he said to her quietly. Jenna got up from her seat.
“I’ll be right back. Did you want some coffee?”
“Oh please..” Arissa answered not taking her eyes off of Bruno.
“Bruno…I just couldn’t tell you. I told Rachel the last time I was home and we talked about it….she said it would take me time to be able to talk about the whole thing… that I would have to do it on my own time. She said it was okay…I talk to her all the time…I talked to her the day we got back from the Seychelles. She told me the same thing you told me. When you told me I had to do this, that’s when I decided I had to…I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.”
“Arissa Hernandez…” Bruno said touching her hand.
“You are the strongest person I have ever met in my life.” he told her quietly wiping a small tear from her cheek.