Arissa threw her suitcase full of new clothes (picked out by Natalia who had a knack for everything fashionable) in her trunk. Natalia got in the passenger seat. Her older brother, Eddie sat in the back seat as they drove to pick up Natalia’s boyfriend, Anna and Ryan.
“Dude, like I still cannot believe what we’re doing. This is so crazy! How did this happen?”
“Does she have to tell you the story again? For the 100th time?” Eddie asked his little sister.
“Well, no, but still. It’s straight out of a fairytale. I still get chills thinking about all of it. Diego would never do half the crap Bruno has done for you and we’ve been together for years. And I know Ryan wouldn’t do any of it.”
It was just three weeks after Arissa’s birthday. The group arrived at their hotel room – a joining suit of 3 rooms that looked similar to the room Anna and Arissa had stayed in while in Houston. It was fancy, but nothing too over the top. Arissa asked the person at the front desk for the keys to their rooms. “You just need to sign these three, and here’s a note for you, ma’am.”
“Open it, dude!” Diego instructed her.
“I will! Let’s just put our stuff down. It’s heavy.” They went to the 5th floor and entered their rooms. She, of course, had the empty room. the fifth wheel this time. She took her neon green nails through the envelope and opened the card. “Put on your swimming suit! I want to see you! And stop thinking about being a fifth wheel. J -Bruno”
The group walked down to the sparkling Las Vegas sun. It was a crowded area. She wasn’t sure if she was even going to be able to find him. She grabbed her phone from her small clutch and started to text him. Before she could even start to type she felt something behind her. “Oh, shit.” she said loudly.
“Hello to you too, Arissa.” he laughed at her coming over to her side.
“Well, of course it would only be you.” She introduced her friends to Bruno. Several of his band mates came up to meet Arissa’s friends. They all chatted for a few minutes.
“Excuse us for a second…” Bruno said grabbing her hand, leading her away from everything. He grabbed her close to him rushing her toward a quiet area away from everything.
“Everyone is going to see you..us..” she told him.
“No they aren’t. I’m 5’5 and that bar is nearly 5 feet. They aren’t going to see us…” he point at the bar in front of them blocking the view. She rolled his eyes at his audacity.
“You sure are confident. Can I borrow some of that?” she asked him.
“Of course you can.” He grabbed her waist, pulled her towards him and kissed her without asking. She was caught off guard but returned the kiss.”Consider it borrowed.” he said pulling away gently.
“Thanks. I really needed that.” she said “Well, wait…I needed both of those.” she laughed looking down slightly embarrassed that she enjoyed the kiss.
“Oh my, god! Arissa! You are too funny.” he laughed at her, knowing that he was making her slightly uncomfortable. “I still don’t understand you….” he said weaving his fingers in between hers.
“I don’t think a lot of people understand me, Bruno. I don’t understand myself most of the times…” she blushed at the way he looked at her. “You need to stop looking at me like that, too. It’s like so not okay…”
“You need to take a deep breath and bok, Ris. Just be.”
“Bok? Did you really just say that?” she was shocked at his cheesiness. He shook his head and started to lead her out toward their group of friends. “Wait…” she was going to take her chance. He was wearing the most stunning v-neck t-shirt and his hair was damp was being in the water. It had a slight curl that she had never seen before that was just too darn cute to say no to. She pulled him back into her and kissed him the way she felt she needed to in Houston. Her nails dug into his back as he returned her kiss. It was deep, passionate, firey and more than anything she had ever felt before. They pulled away slowly looking into each other’s eyes. She laughed. “It was the confidence.”
“I can tell.” he replied wiping a bit of mascara that he had bumped against.
They spent the rest of the day sitting, standing, walking and doing everything they possibly could next to each other. It made Arissa feel warm and fuzzy the whole time they were together. Every time he touched her, her arms, her knee, her hair, her ear, anything, she tingled. She needed to get away with him. She had had enough. She was going to do it. She didn’t care what Robert had done to her. This was Bruno. It was going to be different.
After the afternoon everyone went to their rooms to get dressed for dinner and the evening out. Arissa, Anna, Ryan, Natalia and Diego were not sure what they were going to do or where they were going to eat, but apparently everything was planned and all they had to do was be downstairs at a certain time. She was still a little scared about it.
Arissa stepped out of the shower with a towel on her hair. She put on a strapless bra and white lacey underwear to match. She heard a knock at her door, but wasn’t sure who it was. If it was one of the girls they would have just come through the a joining doors, without knocking. “Oh god, he does not need to see me like this. Damnit, why is he here now?” she said under her breath. She grabbed her white cami and a pair of sweatpants lying on her bed.
His face was there…she had no words. “Hi sweetheart.” he said smiling.
“Hi…I’m not dressed yet.” she told him.
“You don’t look naked to me.” he said closing the door. “But we can change that.” he winked at her.
“Shut up!” she said throwing her wet towel at him.
“I was kidding….” he laughed at her. “Or was I?”
“Go get dressed….I’ll wait for you.” he said sitting on her bed clicking on the TV.
“You make me nervous, Bru.” she told him. “But in a good way.” she said leaning over to kiss him on the cheek dancing over to the mirror.
“You make me happy…” he replied watching her walk in the opposite direction. Holy crap. She has the hottest ass. I need to do something to her, soon- like before dinner. Maybe after she does hair- or her make-up. Or she even puts on her clothes. So I can take them off. I need her. TV is not going to distract me. It isn’t going to do anything to help the fact that what I have been thinking of for the last month and a half is standing 5 feet away from me.
Arissa peaked over to see what he was doing. “Bruno? Can you hand me my phone?” He handed her the phone. She started texting someone with the fastest fingers he had seen in a long time. I think I’m going to do something….she texted Anna. Just do it! Anna texted her back. As the text came back to her she saw him start to take off his blue shirt. Underneath it he had on a brown sleeveless shirt that showed off his tattoos. Oh my lord, I didn’t think those would be that sexy. I’m not into that .but suddenly it’s all I can think about…She put her hair in a quick ponytail before she lost the guts to make her move and walked over to him. He was facing the opposite direction looking at his own phone as she walked toward him. She touched his arm gently and sat on the bed next to him.
“You are gorgeous.” He said in his signature voice.
“Don’t say anything. I’ll lose the guts to do this…” she said to him wrapping her arms around his neck giving him the same deep kiss he gave her earlier in the afternoon. Caught slightly off guard by her demand he let her do everything she wanted to do to him. He put one hand on her back and used the other to play with her hair. Why did she put it up? It’s so pretty down. I won’t ask. She’s so determined to do whatever she’s doing right now. Their tongues wrapped around each other like the best Christmas present ever. He could feel her back get tense as he kissed her collar bone and on a freckle.
“Just go with it, we’ll go slow, Arissa.” he whispered to her.
She closed her eyes and forgot everything that had ever happened to her. There came a point where she couldn’t be in control anymore. She let go of him and let him have every piece of her. She nodded her head in agreement.
He kissed her neck and put his arms around her neck moving her toward the bed. He moved her head toward the pillow she brought with her and kissed her so slowly that she thought time stopped for a few seconds. She moved her fingers through his hair and then down his back as his fingers ran up her thigh toward the lacy underwear she had just put on. Usually this is where she would stop herself. It made her feel so uncomfortable, but there was something about the small steps he took to make her feel comfortable that made everything okay. He ran his fingertips against her stomach. She cracked a smile. He had no idea her stomach was ticklish. He thought two seconds about making her laugh harder, but knew it would make her nervous, so he stopped and moved his hand toward her waist, feeling every part of her soft skin. It smelled like mangos. He’d never smelled skin so amazing.
“Take your clothes off, Bruno.” she demanded.
“Only if you take your dress off.” he responded.
“Deal.” they both said at the same time. She sat up and watched him move towards her gracefully taking off the cotton dress. She moved closer to him to unzip his pants. She bit her lip, a bit nervous. Oh shit. I still don’t know what I’m doing. She took off his shirt and moved towards him, feeling his warm body against her chest. She was still so tense. He couldn’t figure out how to get her to loosen up. Her back and arms were holding him, but she was still not there. He moved his hands to her face as she kissed his neck. He ran his fingernails against the back of her neck hearing her sigh heavily. “Oh..Oh my.” she said under her breath. I have to do it. It’s so good. He has no idea how amazing he is. She moved him to the side, moving on top of him. She laid on top of him kissing every inch of him- from his neck to his toes. She moved back up to his neck as he wrapped his arms around her moving to the top of her kissing her breasts, stomach and everywhere in between her hips and legs. As she bit her lip from making too much noise she felt him inside her. She dug her neon nails in his back and bit into his right shoulder staring at his tattoo to make sure she didn’t scream. “Oh my god,….” she rolled over and finished “this is great.”
“You totally did it.” Ryan leaned over to tell her as they were getting drinks. “Did you at least say ‘Oh my god, this is great?’” he asked.
She rolled her eyes and nodded her head. He burst out laughing. He then hit Diego on the chest. “Pay up dude, she said it.”
“You bet on it? You are such jerks!” she yelled, laughing.
“What did my boyfriend do?” Anna asked handing Arissa a drink.
“Oh, thank you very much…” she said grabbing the drink and taking a sip. “They best I would say Oh my god this is great.’”
“Well, did you?”
Arissa rolled her eyes and laughed so hard that she could hardly breathe.
“So that’s a yes? And oh my god, the girl got laid.” Natalia hugged her real tight and kissed Arissa on the cheek.
“Where is this hottie anyway?” Natalia asked glancing around the crowded room full of drinkers and partiers.
“Who knows, he was here for a few seconds and then disappeared….” she glanced over to the side of the room to see him with his friends. Why were we separated like that? “I’ll be back…” She got up and walked over to him grabbing his hat from his head placing it on hers.
“I thought it looked better with my black shoes.” she said to his group of friends.
A few of them shrugged and said in unison, “Yeah. It does, bro.”
“Ha! Yes!” she danced around a bit in celebration.
“Dance with me, Arissssaaaaa!” he said matching her off beat dancing. He held her tightly and whispered, “You’re a really bad dancer. But I got you.”
“I know. But with you by my side I look good doing anything…” she responded getting a chill down her spine as he led her towards the middle of the room where everyone was watching them.
“Why is everyone watching me?” she asked him as he moved in closer to her. “Because you’re the prettiest girl on the dance floor, Ris.”
“No. That girl is….” she pointed her finger at a girl dancing with some Jersey Shore look-a-like wearing 6 inch heels, a fake tan and a dress sizes too small for her.
“Her?” he pulled away from her and gave her a What the hell? look.
“Yeah, her heels, her hair…why not a girl like that?” she asked him.
He rolled his eyes at her suggestion. “There are a million and one reasons why I am holding you in my arms right now, Arissa. A Jersey tan, 6 inch heels and the ability to fist pump like a champ are none of those. “
“But I can fist pump like a champ…” she laughed.
“I think that’s the only thing you can do to a beat, baby.” he said leaning in to kiss her.
They danced together for some time, before the club promoter stole him away from her. After taking pictures and being Bruno Mars he came back upstairs. She looks so happy next to her friends. Her smile lights up the room. I can’t take my eyes off of her. But I need to understand her. Maybe Ryan or Diego know more about her. I should ask them.
Bruno went over to them and sat down next to her. She wrapped her leg around his, but continued to talk to Natalia and one of their new friends from Las Vegas. He held on to her, but then asked Ryan about her. “Is this the real Arissa? Is she really this self-conscious?”
“Yeah, dude. She’s pretty and all, but like we’ve all said she’s quirky. Like there’s something there that she’s not telling everyone that bothers her. Anna and she are really close, but even Anna doesn’t know what it is. “
“Nat and Arissa have known each other since middle school…” Diego told him. “I met her in high school. She’s really caring, and friendly and so smart. She’s so smart. Maybe it’s one of those things. The quirky smart girl things…”
“My ears are burning! Owwww!” Arissa pushed Bruno’s leg.
“I just wanted to know more about you!” he whined.
“I can tell you whatever you want, Bruno.” she told him leaning her head on him. “But first…but first..I need…I need..another drink.”
By 3:30 in the morning Arissa was hanging on Bruno half awake. They both had had too much to drink. She had realized that he got silly when he was drunk, laughing and dancing and he realized that she got loud and happy. They were perfect for each other. The best part, or worst, was that they both drank a lot.
“Come to my rooooom, Brunoooo. Pleassseee.” she pleaded as they walked toward an elevator with Phil, Jamareo, Anna and Ryan.
“Only if you promise not to take advantage of me, Arissa.” he said stumbling into her.
“I don’t think I can promise that.” she said leaning on his stumble.
“Okay, drunk birds….” Anna said taking Arissa’s key from her. “If I hear too much noise or another “oh my god this is great..” I know where it’s coming from. We have to be up at 11:30. I will see you then…” she slid Arissa’s key in for her and opened the door. Bruno was holding Arissa’s hand leading her into her room.
“Dude, your alarm is already on. We have to be downstairs at 9:30. “
“I got it…” Bruno nodded as the door closed behind him.
“Brunnnnooooo…” she said in a long winded high pitched voice.
“Arissssaaaaaaa.” he responded. She is so amazing. I don’t even know what to do with her.
“I’m sooo tirrreeedddd.” she said taking his hand, pulling him on top of her on the bed. “Owww, that hurt…” she cried as he fell on her leg.
“You did it!” he laughed.
“I know. But it doesn’t change the fact that you hurt meeee.” she fake cried.
“I’m sorry, baby.” he said kissing her cheek.
Suddenly her expression changed, Baby. Baby. Baby. Baby. No. No. Stop. Stop. Now. Get out.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?” he said looking at her with the same concern he had when they talked on the phone a while back. Today was so good. What did I do wrong?
“Sleep with me?” she asked him. She stood up running to the bathroom to get her pajamas.
“What just happened Arissa?” he walked over to her grazing his fingers on her hips.
“I don’t want to talk about it when we’re still kind of drunk.” she said turning to him. “But I do want to tell you. I want to tell you everything.”
“Promise?” he said comforting her with a sweet hug and a kiss on her head.
“Go get changed, sweetheart.” he watched her walk toward her suitcase grabbing running shorts and a cami.
“You are so darn cute.” he told her as she walked out of the bathroom with her hair in a ponytail without any make-up on.
“You are too.” she said kissing him gently.
“Come sleep with me….” he led her to the bed wrapping his arms around her. She flipped the switch on the side lamp finding a perfect place in his arms instantly. It’s so right.
“Good night, Bruno.” she whispered to him.
“Good morning, darling.”
She smiled closing her eyes not waking until the sun came up.
Arissa woke up as she usually does, alone. She sighed and looked to her left and saw a note on the pillow.
Good Morning sweetheart,
I hope you slept well. I did, next to you. ;) I had to be at sound check at 9:30. Too early and not with you is not my idea of a Saturday well spent. Meet me downstairs at 3:30. Just you and me. Eat breakfast, go for your run and then get naked for me. I will see you later tonight.
Arissa took a quick shower and ran to get her friends for breakfast. She and Natalia went to the posh gym which included a sauna and even a personal trainer. Unlike the Houston trip- this gym was actually crowded. The Las Vegas heat must get to the visitors. The girls ran 3 miles in 30 minutes and then took a quick shower getting dressed for a pool trip.
“What do I wear?” she asked Anna and Natalia as they stared at the clothes she brought with her.
Natalia picked up a pair of white shorts and a blue sleeveless shirt. “Wear this with the black sandals. Wear your hair down…” Anna nodded.
Arissa put on the clothes and walked downstairs nervously. I still don’t know what I’m doing. I’m scared shitless. She checked her phone to not look lonely As she looked up he caught her eye. He was wearing a blue and green plaid shirt with a black t-shirt underneath with black skinny jeans and flip-flops.
“The flip-flops are classy, Bhruno.” she smiled at him.
“Yeah. I figured, why the hell not? We’re in Vegas…” he took her hand and started to walk her out of the hotel room. His bodyguard followed them, but gave them enough space to be alone.
“What are we doing?” she asked him.
“Going on our first date.”
“Okay….” she wondered out loud.
He led her to a small restaurant blocks away from the hotel. The small café, about the size of Starbucks, was an intimate setting but yet not intimidating. The server sat them at a small table in the back and gave them their menus.
“What do you want to eat?” he asked her.
“Everything. I’m starving.”
“Then we’ll have one of everything.” he told the waitress.
“No! We won’t have one of everything.” she insisted. “I want….I want…the turkey burger and sweet potato fries.” she told the waitress.
“And I will have…the biggest and grossest cheeseburger ever.” he told the waitress.
“Of course.” the waitress answered.
“Thanks, doll.” he said smiling at her.
“Oh my god. Why doesn’t she just fall in love with you right there…” Arissa laughed. “I would.”
“Didn’t you already?” he asked her.
She shrugged, “Ehh, yeah. I did.”
The waitress brought out their food. He wondered why she ordered a turkey burger instead of a regular hamburger, but he wasn’t going to bother asking. He just enjoyed being near her for more than 10 minutes. But then she started separating her French fries.
“What are you doing, Ris?” he asked her.
“Oh…umm…I won’t be able to eat all of that.” she told him.
“But you just said you wanted everything…” he replied confused.
“Oh, I know I did. But really. It’s going to be too much…here have some of them…”
“No. You don’t need to do that Why are you doing that?” he asked her.
“Being that girl. You aren’t that girl, Arissa.”
“What girl are you talking about?” she asked.
“The one that doesn’t eat. The one that over exercises and wears too much make-up. You are beautiful just the way you are…” he said quietly touching her hand reassuring her.
“I don’t do it to be like that, Bruno.” she explained honestly. “I do it to be healthy. What you’re eating would make me sick.”
Bruno raised his eyebrow at her making her smile. He took a big bite and responded, “This? Make you sick? This is the best stuff in the world.”
“Really. I haven’t had ground beef in months. The last time I had it I think I missed work for two days. And processed food tastes horrible….”
“But why?” he asked her.
“Oh…oh.” she paused trying to wrap her head around how to tell him. “Maybe a year ago I got sick. Horrible stomach aches, tired, just gross. It wasn’t normal for me. I also skipped a couple periods…”
He looked at her with a weird look.
“That’s important!” she shot him a look after he stared at him. “Okay…and I wasn’t dating anyone so it wasn’t like I was pregnant or anything. So I went to a bunch of doctors, but ended up getting ultrasounds and all that fancy stuff.”
“You’re not dying are you?” he looked scared.
“No…I’m not dying, silly. So, the doctor said I have this thing called polycystic ovarian syndrome. It just….”
“One of my sisters has it.” he answered relieved knowing that she really wasn’t going to die. “But why the crazy diet?” he asked her, still confused.
“Oh. So, I was chubby. I always have…or was. And you can get diabetes from PCOS. The doctor said everything was fine, but I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. I found a few books about diets that worked for people with it…and did it. I’ve lost like 50 pounds in the last year.”
“I don’t believe you…” he told her. “Show me…” he demanded grabbing her fries.
“Here’s my license…” she took out her driver’s license and looked at the picture.
“Whatever. You were still a babe.”
“Okay, okay….where are we going next?” Phil asked Bruno as they surveyed the casino a few hours after their latest concert.
“Umm…let’s go to…to…I don’t know. I just know I want to lose all my money tonight.” he told his friend.
“That, Mr. Mars, sounds like a plan.” he responded in a melodic voice. They started singing about losing money to a casino.
Arissa and her friends watched them as Ryan and Diego followed them. They all became friends fairly quickly. It was weird how they clicked. The girls had commented on how they all got along. It was kind of perfect.
“Come with me Arissa. You’re my good luck tonight…” Bruno said grabbing her waist dragging her towards a Blackjack table.
“But I want to play too.” she told him. He handed her a handful of red chips.
“Don’t win more than me.”
“I can’t tell you I won’t. But what are the red ones?” she asked him.
“Those are the thousand ones.”
“What? Are you serious?” she asked him.
“Yeah, big spender. Make me some money.” he licked his lips and then kissed her.
“She’s actually pretty good….” Ryan said sitting down at the empty table watching the flop.
After a few hands Arissa’s chips outnumbered Bruno’s, Phil’s and Ari’s. Ryan and she were close, but Diego was beating all of them.
“Arissa…what are you doing? Are you counting the cards?” Ari asked watching her think about her move. The dealer glanced up at them as he mentioned the phrase count cards.
“Please, I don’t even know how many cards are on the table.”
“Damn…I don’t have any more money…” Bruno said hitting his hand on table in frustration. He glanced over at Arissa seeing her stack of red and blue chips.
“You are….lucky.” he said standing so close to her that she could smell his sweat. She wanted to leave right then and there.
“I’m done. This is stupid.” she said pushing some of her chips over the Ryan but putting a few in her pocket.
“What?” Phil yelled at her.
“Yeah. I proved my point. I can beat all of you. Now I want to go have sex with Bruno. Is there a problem with that?” she said turning around kissing him flirtatiously.
“I have no problem with that.” he laughed. The dealer looked up, just then realizing who she was dealing for. “Oh….”
“Oh my god….” Ryan said as he ran away with her. He danced with her. He whispered something in her ear. She did the same dance as they all watched Bruno and Arissa fade into the crowd.
“This is great…” Phil responded.
Bruno put his hand in her pocket and took out her red chip.
“What are you doing?” she asked him.
“Testing your luck….”
She stared at him inquisitively. He looked around pointing at the craps table.
“I roll a three and a four and we get married.” he said kissing her ear. “And don’t say no, no, no , no. Say yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.”
“But where’s your pocket full of cash?” she asked him.
“All I need is you, sweetheart.” he caught himself before saying baby. He still wasn’t sure why this bothered her, but he knew he couldn’t hurt her again.
She wrapped her arms around his neck, kissed him and said, “Yes. But only if you get a 3 and a 4.” He put down all the red chips on the table. All eyes were on him. She squeezed his left hand as he used his right to roll the dice.
“Wait….blow on these, Arissa.” he told her.
“Aww, that’s cute…” a spectator said.
“She’s going to marry me if I roll right…” he told the girl.
“She’s going to marry you, Bruno?” asked another.
Arissa nodded her head and then blew on the dice.
“Lucky bitch.” the first one whispered under her breath.
“Yeah, I know…” Arissa responded to the bystander.
Bruno let go of the dice making a nervous face. Arissa felt her palms get sweaty. She held her breath watching the dice hit the edge of the table rolling back toward them.
“Natural winner…” the man in the middle yelled out. Everyone saw the 7…rolled as a 3 and a 4.
Bruno picked Arissa up and spun her around. “Let’s go!”
“Put me down!” she whined as everyone watched them. “Everyone is looking at you.
“You’ll be put down when I’m good and ready Mrs. Hernandez.” Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. Okay. I think my heart just stopped. Did he just call me that?
“Put me down, Peter Gene Hernandez! I swear on this casino…I’ll scream louder….”
He flipped her up to see her red face. He didn’t want her to scream louder. Shit. I can’t get too crazy. Someone will see me and start talking about this. He looked at her dead in the eyes not sure what he was going to do. It was the first time in his life he wasn’t sure what to do. Her green eyes went right through him. Her red blushed cheeks drove him crazy and her mango scent was magnified 1000 times. He needed to be with her. She started right back at him.
“What?” she asked breaking the silence.
“I love you, Arissa.” Bruno responded moving a piece of her hair out of her eye. He didn’t kiss her or make any moves. He just watched her. She wrapped her arms around him, took his hat off, put it on her head running her hair through his curly hair and pulled back.
“I love you too, Bruno.” She leaned in kissing him gently.
“Let’s go upstairs, baaaaabbbby….” he took her hand leading her towards the elevator. Her feet stopped moving with his as he started to walk toward the elevator.
“Arissa?” he turned around to see tears. Her make-up was running down her perfect cheeks.