She walked away from him, not saying a word. The event went off without a hitch. The charity
raised nearly half a million dollars. Photos of Bruno and his siblings would be all over the
internet with captions linking the event back to Marla’s internship. It was absolutely perfect.
Except for that kiss. Marla tried to put that behind her. It wasn’t like she hadn’t kissed cute boys
before. She dated football players, rugby players, and most recently a Congressional intern. She
had game. It wasn’t unlike her to make moves. But, she wasn’t ready to make that type of move
– especially after grabbing her blackberry and researching Bruno Mars after the folded up note.
She knew he had an ex-girlfriend and that he had a world tour planned. He kisses plenty of girls
– all over the world. Please. “I’ll just tell my kids when they’re older that I got to make-out with
Bruno Mars when I was in Grad school.” That’s it. Nothing more.
Angie and Marla picked up signs, labels and supplies as sound techs finished up cleaning up
everything from the concert. It was incredibly quiet. Angie was away- on a trip to the car and the
techs were all out in their vans. It was about midnight. Marla had switched the heels for the flipflops
and her hair had already been put up in a bun- not a pony-tail this time, but a bun. She had
even gone to the car to put on her t-shirt and cotton skirt from early in the morning. Once she
knew she was alone she stretched on the ground and closed her eyes for a few seconds and
sighed. She repeated a Spanish poem about dreams by Federico Garcia Lorca that she read her
Senior year of college to herself:
She heard quiet footsteps in the room, but since the person wasn’t talking to her she didn’t open
“I have no idea what you just said, but you have a very beautiful accent…” she heard Bruno’s
soft voice next to her ear.
She sat up, blinked and opened her tired eyes. She translated to poem for him and said, “It’s my
favorite…” she stood up and started cleaning up the auction items.
“We’re going to go to this snazzy club tonight if you and Angie want to come. The sisters, Eric,
everyone. I’d love to see you there.”
“Oh…umm..I’d really love to, but I’ve been up since 5 this morning and have a race tomorrow at
“”A race?” he responded.
“Just a 5k…but I promised the organizer that I would go, it would be a bummer if I didn’t. “ she
His brown eyes and brown hat made it incredibly hard for her to say no to his proposition, but
she really did have plans for the next morning. She also returned to her previous thoughts of
what this actually could end up being…disappointing. Very, very disappointing.
She picked up a big box of things, struggling. He took the box from her hands without asking.
“Thank you.” She said as her hair fell out of her make shift bun. She grabbed the final pieces of
the auction and led him to her car. Angie was standing by her car on her cell phone.
“Marla…this was amazing! I will see you on Monday to go over everything…you have it all?”
“Yes ma’am! I am going to take all this to the office tomorrow morning, but I will see you on
Monday at 9.”
“Do not work tomorrow, that is an order, Ms. Gonzales. It was fabulous meeting you Bruno!”
Angie said as she jumped in her car.
“Is she always that perky?” He asked Marla.
“Yeah..I think she needs to go to perky rehab or something. It’s too much.” Marla said.
“Ha, jokes…again!” he said to her as she popped the trunk to her car.
“Are you sure you don’t want to come tonight?” he asked her.
“I’d have to change again..and I’m not changing.” she told him.
“Yeah..unless it’s a slumber party club I don’t think they’d let you in all sexy like that.”
“Oh…now you have jokes too, Mr. Mars?”
“You didn’t know?”
“I had no idea.” she smiled at him.
He raised his eyebrows at her. “I’m mostly jokes…jokes and music….and dancing…yeah..in that
order.” He moved his hips a little toward her.
He bowed her head and shook it to express her embarrassment.
“So, since you’re not going to go out with us tonight…how about item number 455 tomorrow?”
“I don’t know…Bruno….I’m just so busy with school and work…I didn’t really plan on…”
“Okay…I guess I can wait for that one until I come back to LA in three weeks.” He said making
a sad face.
“Oh…well. You make it sound like forever…like the world is going to end if I don’t say yes to
“Well, it could.”
“Bruno, it’s not 2012 yet.”
“Oh. You’re right…so it won’t…but it will hurt my feelings if you say no.”
A car drove up behind hers and a head popped out. “Brunito…come on. We’re going to be
late…hi Marla! Are you coming with us?” Jamie was dressed and ready to go out with her
“Not dressed like this.” she told her.
“Aww, well we did great tonight, didn’t we? Thank you so much!”
“I will meet you all there…” he announced to his siblings who were at this point watching him
like 3rd graders. “You can go now…” he motioned at his older brother to start driving.
“I think you need to go and….” she started to yawn…”I’m really tired.
“I think you need to go and….” she started to yawn…”I’m really tired.
“But you haven’t said yes yet!” he prodded her.
“But you haven’t said yes yet!” he prodded her.
“Okay, okay…okay. Yes. We can go on our date tomorrow.” she agreed.
“Yeees!” He kissed her forehead and turned around dancing.
“What are you doing?” She looked at him with a ridiculous face. She knew who he was but
didn’t really know anything about him aside from the song that had ended up on her ipod and the
songs he sang that evening. She was kind of worried about what she had signed up for at this
point. But his eyes were mesmorizing and his ability to woo her were out of this world. He
kissed her cheek, opened her car door and said, “Buenas noches, senorita Marla.”
“Good night Bruno,”
“I will call you tomorrow afternoon.” he said to her as the door closed.
“Wait…you don’t have…” he was gone by that time.
Marla woke up to her alarm at 6am. She took a quick 15 minute shower, put on her track shorts,
a pink Nike dry fit top and her pink Nike shoes. Her hair was put in a neat pony-tail. She bolted
out the door with her running ready playlist on her ipod. The car radio was on the regular Top 40
radio station – KROQ. As it was an early Sunday morning, the radio station was playing its
weekly countdown. She listened to the music and bopped her head to the new music. That early
in the morning, the station was still in the 70s. Perhaps by the time she was done with her run
they would be at number 1. She had a feeling number 1 would be the Black Eyed Peas. So
“And now, this one, a new arrival on the countdown, is from an up and coming artist named
Bruno Mars. He’s Hawaiian, adorable and word on the street, ladies, is that he’s sing-leeeee. Just
The Way You Are, our biggest jump on the countdown this week at number 72.” the DJ
“Oh single. Fabulous,” Marla breathed.
Marla completed her race with a personal race record of 25:15. She was pretty stoked about
completing the race in that time. She placed 3rd overall and 1st in her age group. Awarded a 1st
place t-shirt, a ribbon and lots of breakfast tacos she was quite satisfied with herself.
She mingled with other race participants and organizers after the race. Several of the them were
classmates and colleagues. A friend, who was manning the packet pick-up table allowed her to
drop off her phone and wallet at the table while she competed in the race. After the race, Marla
stopped by to pick it up.
“Hey, Marley…you had a couple missed calls. It was an 808 number…is that Hawaii? Are you
going on vacation without us?” the friend asked.
“Oh, I wish…” she replied. “It was an auction winner from last night. It was a big item so I told
him he could call me about arrangements. I guess he couldn’t wait for the pick-up.”
She took the phone from her friend and listened to the voicemail.
“Marla….it’s Bruno….Sorry it’s so early…I hope you’re still not asleep and that I didn’t wake
you up….about tonight. Let’s not do a movie. But I definitely want to do dinner.”
“Ha…wake me up.” She said.
“That doesn’t look or sound like an internship related message, Marla….” the friend said. “Who
“It was just a boy.” Marla told her.
Marla arrived home, jumped in the shower and ate a chicken sandwich while watching CNN.
She had every intention of getting some reading done for class, but before she knew it she had
fallen asleep to the sound of Don Lemon analyzing the 2012 Presidential election. Only a few
minutes later her phone rang. She jumped and scared the cat off her stomach and caught a
glimpse of the time…3:15. Wow, it was later than she thought.
She grabbed the phone before she missed the call again. It was the 808 number again.
“Hello?” she said half awake.
“Hi! It’s me…let’s go mini golfing tonight…after we eat horrible greasy pizza…”
Marla cringed at the thought of greasy pizza. She was a health nut. She ate organic, natural and
hormone free food. She knew she would be sick after eating that pizza. The mini-golf sounded
ridiculously fun though. She hadn’t done that in years.
“Can I pick dinner?” she asked stepping out a limb. If she was going to make it work she was
going to have to let him know about her quirks.
“What do you have in mind?”
“It’s this crazy beaten up place near Marymount called the Cove. They have the best fish tacos in
the world. And after my run I’m craving fish tacos…I’m kind of a weirdo.”
“The Cove it is. Text me your address. I’ll be there at 7.”
“Angieeeeee!” Marla called her boss on a Sunday which she never thought she would ever do.
However, she was the only one that knew what was going on.
“Yes? What do I wear on a date with Bruno Mars?” she asked.
“A pink lacey bra and panties…most likely” was her immediate response. Angie was only 5
years older than Marla and was quickly becoming one of Marla’s closest confidants in the MSW
“I’m serious Angie. I know almost nothing about him aside from what I’ve read online...and…oh
my god….he knows where I live now and my house is a mess…what am I doing going on a date
with a celebrity? What am I doing?”
“Calmate, honey. You’ll be fine.”
“What are you doing?”
“The Cove and mini-golf.”
“Jeans, a cute shirt, and those brown new balances. Don’t go too over the top. Wear your hair
down. But still wear that underwear.”
“What cute top? I have like 3 that aren’t red and gold….”
“Wear a blue one.”
“Fine..I’ll wear a blue one.”
Marla looked in the mirror as the clock struck 7:08 pm. She heard a knock at the door. She didn’t
even have her shoes on. “Crap, crap, crap…shit…I’ll be there in a second.” She had her diamond
Tiffany’s necklace that her brother Travis had bought her for her 16th Birthday in her hand to put
on and earrings in another. Like a typical Puerto Rican, she was not on time…and apparently,
neither was he.
She turned the knob with her head down finally slipping on her right shoe.
“Hi….” he said as she stood up looking at her bright brown eyes which looked even brighter in
the dimly lit entry way.
“I think you’re missing one of these….” he bent down and handed her an earring that had fallen
out of her hand through the frantic run to the door.
“Oh, well, I would have looked like a fool if I had only one earring in my ear all night, right?”
He shrugged at her ridiculous comment, “I think your hair would have covered up your missing
earring…until I moved it and noticed it…”
“but then you would have seen that I was missing and earring, silly!” she retorted/.
“True, but I would have thought you were starting a trend…we are in Los Angeles, after all.”
“Oh..yes. Social Workers starting trends. Sign me up.” she smiled back putting in the earring.
“Okay. Lista…” she said to him. “Wait. I need to turn off my music. Come in, come in.”
He glanced at her living room, full of bright yellows, greens, reds and oranges. It was Hispanic
in every sense of the meaning. She had a pink blanket on her couch that looked to be her special
blanket that he had only seen on the side of streets in East Los Angeles. He didn’t understand
any of it. He glanced at her kitchen counter. There was a list on her counter with ingredients for
cheese enchiladas and Spanish rice.
“Okay..okay…I’m so Puerto Rican…always tardy for the party. Let’s go.” she said grabbing his
hand and leading him out the door. She promised herself she was not going to be nervous
He opened the door of his black car for her. She slid into the leather seat and felt so very
He radio was on low, an oldies station. Hmm, interesting, but it makes sense. she thought to
“Did you all have a good night last night?” she asked him as the silence almost became ackward.
“Oh…yeah. It was alright. I mean. I love my family. They’re amazing and everything. But it can
get so overwhelming sometimes. And now, things are getting so busy that I can hardly see them
that it’s like I have to see everyone at once…I need a break from my break…”
Wait what? What was he saying about being busy? And we’re going out on a date? I’m so
confused. She thought to herself.
“But not too busy for a beautiful girl that wears flip-flops to a big fundraiser, is getting her
Masters degree and only knows one of my songs and still kisses me.”
“The heels…oh my aching feeetttt…” she moaned. “They hurt so badly. My sister-in-law bought
them so me to wear when I go out, which I rarely do….because I am so busy….so I threw them
in my bag thinking they can’t be that bad and oh my…I had to tell myself it was a marathon not
a sprit. I could do it. They hurt me so bad.” She continued to complain.
“Good thing you don’t have to worry about those around me…” he laughed.
“Oh…oh! Oh! You’re right! I think I’m an inch taller than you!” she said loudly.
“Wait…how tall do you think I am…miss I don’t know anything about Bruno Mars?”
“Google isn’t just for school, Bru…” she explained.
“Damn. I thought I could get away with telling you I was 6’3”.” he blushed.
“Naw. But it’s okay. I think it’s cute.” she pinched his cheek from across the passenger seat of
the car. “Oh, here…exit number 10 and take a right on La Cienega. It’s 504. It’s to die for. Te
prometo.” She said.
“Tea what?” He said as he pulled the car into a spot.
“I said I promise.” Marla explained. “I also said I was ready earlier at my house. Lista. Estoy
Lista. You really don’t know much about your Puerto Rican side of your heritage do you, Mr.
Hernandez?” she asked.
He looked down and nodded. “Not as much as I should, huh?”
She led him towards the restaurant and passed it. “Where are you going?” he asked her.
“Vas a ver.”: she told him.
“Stop it…that’s not cool.. I can’t understand you!” he said grabbing her hand.
They stopped walking after four blocks and entered a very small eatery that looked quite scary to
She started to talk to the waitress, “Buenas noches, Marta!”
“Ahh, Marla, Como esta? No has estado para muchos dias? Y escuela?
“Escuela esta muy bien! Muuy bien…”
“Y quien es? Que handsome!”
She blushed as he started to catch on to the conversation..they switched back to English.
“Bruno, this, along with the Cove is my favorite place in the world. It’s a Puerto Rican restaurant
owned by a 3rd generation Puerto Rican family. They assist the community in many ways and are
great supporters of the USC MSW program. This is Marta, and she thinks you’re handsome.”
“Nice to meet you, Marta. I’m Bruno Hernandez.”
”Mucho Gusto,” Marta replied.
“Sientese…” Marta led them to a quiet table off to the side.
“To drink?” Marta asked.
“Tea for both of us please…” Marla replied “To die for…” she explained.
“You are seriously amazing.” he told her.
She started to look at him in disbelieve.
“Tell me everything about you…” he said.