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Summer In The City

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Summer is different in Los Angeles.

The heat seeps into Mylene’s skin, spreading through her muscles, into her veins, changing the chemistry of her blood. The heat rushes to her brain, and Mylene can’t remember north from south, east from west, father from uncle.

The lines between Rocky and Mylene sometimes blur: the words jump all over her script. Notes clash and become discordant. Mylene can’t remember “cut” from “go,” “good girl,” from “come on now, Mylene!”

Mylene sometimes doesn’t remember why she came here. Why she got on the that big plane in the sky to begin with.

She can remember her girls, though. She can always remember her girls. The only constant Mylene’s ever had; the only constant Mylene will ever have.

Regina and Yolanda stand by her side as Stiggy yells at her for the third time that day. Yolanda wraps her pinky around Mylene’s and Regina makes faces when Stiggy isn’t looking.

Mylene and her girls. All she needs in this world.

**

Hard day on set. Yolanda’s homesickness twists Serena’s words. Serena’s supposed to be crying over J.K.’s death, not over Boo’s 9-month sentence back home. Serena’s tears are supposed to stop, but Yolanda’s never do.

Stiggy is stressed: production is behind, costs are rising. The studio still thinks “Solar Wind” would’ve been a hit. Why’d Mylene even bring the other two?

Yolanda slumps against her trailer wall, sobbing. She squeezes herself tight and remembers the feeling of Adele’s arms, holding her tight when everything still made some sense.

Yolanda doesn’t even know if Adele would hold her now; she didn’t say goodbye when Yolanda left. Yolanda left in such a dire time. Winston and Adele needed her there, but Yolanda couldn’t stay, not after what she did. Yolanda needed to make it up to Mylene.

Mylene and Regina drape their arms around Yolanda, squeezing almost too tightly. Yolanda never wants them to let go.

**

Even all the way in fucking California, the loneliness of the Bronx weighs on Regina.

Regina can feel it in her chest whenever Mylene and Yolanda go to set without her. Rocky and Serena have a lot more scenes together than Serena and Lisa or Lisa and Rocky.

Sometimes, Regina is by herself all day.

Regina can hear her mother’s desperate voice telling Regina to come home. You don’t know if this is going to be any good for you, mija. California is a crazy place. They do drugs there, baby. Come back home.

But papa did drugs back home, ma. She and Mylene did drugs at the Rubycon that night. At least there was no Little Wolf or Les Inferno all the way across the country.

How could L.A. be much worse than home? How much more of Regina’s life can be stolen and tossed into the trash?

Besides, being in front of the camera with Mylene and Yolanda is better than anything Regina’s ever felt. Regina can see the joy in Yolanda’s eyes when they get their lines right. She can hear the love in Mylene’s voice whenever Mylene makes Rocky’s voice soar.

Whenever the three of them are in the makeup room, Regina takes a deep breath, inhaling the sweetness that comes from the mingling of their perfumes. The smell is her medicine, the one thing that can push all the bad thoughts away.

**

Mylene gets Zeke’s letter and reads it three times. Twice to herself, once aloud to her girls.

Fuck that fool,” Regina says, talking like the words taste nasty in her mouth.

Yolanda reaches over and gingerly takes Zeke’s shitty letter from Mylene’s finger.

“It doesn’t even sound like him,” Yolanda says. She cocks her head and twists her mouth up. “What’s happening to him?”

“I don’t care,” Mylene grumbles. She crumbles the letter and tosses it away from her. “I don’t want him no more, anyway. What would I look like trying to convince some fool who’d write this to me?”

It’s a damn lie and Regina and Yolanda know it. But neither of them say it. They look at one another, and Regina wonders if they’re thinking the same thing. She wonders if she’s the only one who’s glad that Zeke can finally be out the picture.

That it could be the three of them. Like old times. Before stupid boys fell in love with even stupider boys. Before get downs and church concerts and white lines.

**

Yolanda sleeps like stone now.

There’s a whole party going on outside and Yolanda doesn’t wake up. Something about mid-production costs going way down because Stiggy conned somebody into giving him more money. Studio apparently now thinks Rocky is going to be a huge hit.

Whatever. The girls are tired . Rocky, Serena and Lisa had a shit ton of stunts to do today. They shot at least four scenes of mostly running and jump.

So Yolanda sleeps, and her girls watch.

Regina thinks it’s concerning because something could happen to her.

“That’s because you’re a fucking mom, Regina,” Mylene whispers, making sure to keep her voice just low enough.

Mylene thinks it’s adorable: Yolanda looks so peaceful when she’s sleeping.

“You’re a weirdo, you know,” Regina mutters teasingly. “You can’t be staring at her when she sleeping and shit.”

Mylene rolls her eyes at Regina. Then she lets her eyes fall to the curve of Yolanda’s lips, slightly parted as she sleeps. If Mylene were to look up right now, she’d see Regina’s eyes watching the rise and fall of Yolanda’s chest.

It is weird. It should feel weird, anyway. But it doesn’t. Mylene feels the same way she did whenever she saw Zeke performing on stage. She’s a little ashamed to admit she felt a sliver of this feeling whenever Shao blew cigarette smoke in the air.

It’s much stronger now, though. It warms her entire body has she watches Yolanda dream.

The three of them probably look a little odd. They’re crammed into one bed, two of them watching the other sleep.

But everyone on the set is a little odd, anyway. Besides, it’s the most peace the three of them have felt in a while.

**

Mylene doesn’t get a letter this time.

Lydia calls her, her voice wavering and more than a little muffled. She’s been crying.

“5 years, then probation,” she tells Mylene. “He didn’t want to take the immunity deal. He didn’t want to snitch on the mayor and them.”

Mylene wants to scream into the phone that she doesn’t fucking care . Francisco’s jail time doesn’t mean shit to her.

Francisco was stupid to even think those blancitos gave enough of a fuck to let him be in their inner-circle. And he was selfish enough to make Mylene do some of his whack ass bidding.

But Mylene can’t do that to her mother. Lydia has nobody on her side of the world.

“Are you okay, mom?” Mylene asks quietly, knowing that the answer is no. “I know this all happened so fast . . .”

It all happened too fast. Francisco’s indictment. Ramon’s funeral. Lydia’s tearful confession. Too fast to be okay. Three months feels like three hours sometimes.

“I’ll be fine, baby girl,” Lydia lies. “I’ve been fine before.”

Lydia’s never been fine. Ever. But Mylene isn’t one to call her out on that.

Mylene manages to hang up the phone and walk back to her trailer before she breaks down.

Yolanda doesn’t even have to ask Mylene what’s wrong. She sees Mylene’s face and wraps her arms around her.

**

“How come you don’t miss us the way we miss you?”

Ra’s question catches Yolanda off-guard so badly that she can’t answer for a moment. Regina and Mylene see the change in Yolanda’s face.

“What’s wrong?” Mylene mouths.

Yolanda shakes her head at them, but she doesn’t know why.

“What do you mean?” she asks Ra.

“I mean you don’t ever call. Or write. It’s almost Christmas, girl. And you ain’t even tried to come back and see us.” Ra suddenly sounds angry. His voice roughens and he sounds like an older boy that Yolanda’s never met.

Yolanda turns her back to her girls, feeling their eyes burn into her back.

“I can’t just be running back and forth,” Yolanda retorts, her voice low but fierce. “I’m in a movie , not a damn summer camp!”

“Oh, we know,” Ra says, sounding jealous and petulant. “You don’t need us because you’re about to be famous. Got it.”

Yolanda face twists up in rage. She’d give anything to be able to reach through the phone and slap the childishness off of Ra.

“You only want me ‘cus I’m not there,” Yolanda shoots back, her voice rising. “I didn’t see you at all last year, and we were living in the same fucking house!”

Ra stammers and Yolanda almost feels bad.

“Look, Landa, I’m sorry,” Ra says. “Boo locked up, Dizz ran away with that Thor dude. Mama and Daddy . . . we need you back here. I’ve never spent a Christmas without you.”

Yolanda closes her eyes and sees her father’s aging face. She doesn’t know if he’d smile or scream if he saw her again.

“I’m needed here, too,” Yolanda says.

“Why? Because Mylene said so?” Ra demands. The anger rushes back into Ra’s voice. “Because she still holding what her crazy ass daddy did over your fucking head?”

Silence. Ra stammers once again.

“Yolanda, I’m--”

“Goodbye, Ra.”

Yolanda hangs up the phone. Her body is tense: even her heart feels tight.

Two soft hand touch both sides of Yolanda; her muscles start to untangle and breathing becomes easier.

Yolanda looks at Mylene and hears Ra’s words in her ears.

“Why’d you bring me here?” Yolanda asks her.

Mylene looks confused and shoots a look over to Regina. Yolanda takes a deep breath and continues.

“After what happened . . . what I did . . .”

The look of recognition takes over Mylene’s face. Mylene’s eyes turn dark and fierce.

You didn’t do anything. He did. Got it?” Mylene says sternly.

Yolanda looks over to Regina. Regina looks just as determined and stubborn as Mylene.

Yolanda closes her eyes and nods.

“Got it.”

**

Regina had said no more drugs. Mylene really should’ve listened to Regina.

At least then, Regina wouldn’t be yelling at her in Spanish while Yolanda stands by with a look of confusion and disappointment.

It was one coke-fueled bar fight on New Year’s Eve. Mylene wasn’t hurt. The other girl’s nose was okay.

Nobody even saw them there: it was too dark. Everybody is drunk and making New Year’s Resolutions none of them will keep. It’s no big deal.

“¿Que pasa contigo?” Regina shouts. “¡Lo que te pasa!”

Mylene holds back tears. She hates when Regina gets like this. Plus, it’s not like Mylene is snorting coke every other day or something. This is only the second time she’s done it in her life. Hadn’t touched the stuff since that night.

Mylene!

“I need a break, okay, Regina?” Mylene mumbles. She tries her hardest to ignore the look Yolanda is giving her.

“Drogas no son una vacación,,” Regina says, her voice like thunder. “Drogas son penas de muerte .”

Mylene looks down at the ground, tears falling from her eyes. Regina kicks herself.

“We said we wouldn’t do it anymore, right?” Regina says, quieting her voice. “Not after . . .”

Mylene nods. Ramon’s dead eyes appear in her mind.

“He’s still fucking everything up,” Mylene grumbles. Mylene’s mad all of a sudden. Mad at herself, mad at Regina for making her think too hard. Mad at Ramon.

She allows herself a glance at Yolanda. Yolanda’s crying. Then she’s standing up straighter and looking Mylene straight in her eyes.

“He can’t ruin your life anymore,” Yolanda says. “Not unless you let him. Okay?”

Mylene follows Yolanda’s lead. She straightens her back. She takes a deep breath and looks at her girls.

“Thank you,” Mylene’s voice breaks, but she smiles at them anyway. “Seriously.”

Regina takes Mylene’s hand while Yolanda puts an arm around Mylene’s shoulders.

“We girls,” Regina says. “For life.”

**

It’s weird how it happens. Maybe it’s the heat of upcoming spring. Maybe it’s the smell of flowers blooming in Topanga’s fields. It’s something that drives them to it. Otherwise, it might not have ever happened.

One moment, Regina and Yolanda are lying side-by-side, legs pressed together. The next, their hands touch. And then, their lips.

They only part once, when Yolanda looks into Regina’s eyes with guilt and desire.

“Mylene . . .”

Regina feels a familiar heat, and something vibrates underneath her skin.

“We’ll . . . we’ll figure it out.”

**

Yolanda and Regina are kissing again  at the wrap party. Mylene sees them from over Jackie’s shoulder.

She . . . Mylene really shouldn’t be surprised, she guesses. Yolanda and Regina had become super cuddly lately.

Mylene figures that it was really only a matter of time. Mylene was always leaving them behind to play boyfriend-girlfriend with Zeke. She had nearly left them behind to star in a movie.

Regina and Yolanda . . . They deserve to be treated right, even if it’s just by one another.

Mylene makes nice with Stiggy’s friends and kekes with the rest of the crew. Then she runs away from the party and everyone there.

Mylene avoids Yolanda and Regina for  the rest of the night.

Mylene knows that they’re right for each other. That doesn’t mean she can stop herself from being jealous.

**

“This is your fault.”

Yolanda and Regina have stationed themselves outside of Mylene’s trailer. They’re a little hung-over and tired, but they know Mylene has to get the last of her stuff out of this trailer. She can’t avoid them now.

Regina sticks her tongue out at Yolanda.

“It is ,” Yolanda insists with a laugh. “You were the one being all touchy-feely last night.”

“And you were the one that wore that strawberry-smelling perfume,” Regina counters. “You didn’t even try to allow me to stand up for myself.”

“Girl please. Try saying that when your titties aren’t sitting up in my face.”

Regina laughs and then takes a shaky breath.

“You think this will work, though? Like, you think she’ll want this?” Regina asks nervously.

Before Yolanda can answer, Mylene walks around the corner. Her eyes light up, then dim immediately. Yolanda and Regina push themselves off of the wall of the trailer and stand there a little awkwardly.

Mylene takes a deep breath. “Look, I know you guys are together,” she rushes out.

“Yeah, we are,” Yolanda confirms, looking over at Regina with a small smile.

Mylene deflates. “Ya’ll been together this whole time?”

“No, no! Just a week or so, actually,” Regina stammers out. “We’ve just been, you know . . .”

“Testing the waters?” Yolanda finishes.

“Yeah.”

Mylene nods like she doesn’t feel like she’s gonna fall over.

“We were gonna tell you last night!” Yolanda stammers. “But, we, uh--”

“Yeah, yeah, I-I get it,” Mylene says. Mylene shifts her weight from foot to foot. “I’m-I’m glad you guys are happy.”

Regina smiles at Mylene softly. She and Yolanda exchange a look, and Regina takes one of Mylene’s hands.

“Mylene,” Regina says firmly, “Yolanda and I want the three of us to be the three of us .”

Mylene looks at Yolanda’s nervous smile, then at her hands in Regina’s.

“Wait . . .” Mylene says with hesitant hope. “Like . . . us together together?”

“Yes!” Yolanda and Regina nearly yell simultaneously.

“So . . . you guys like me?” Mylene feels a little dumb asking, but still. Nothing is certain for her, except for her girls.

“And you like us,” Yolanda adds.

Both of us, right?” Regina asks.

Mylene bites her lip and nods.

“Right.”

The three of them look at each other for what feels like forever. Mylene blinks rapidly and finds the courage to ask for what she wants.

“Can I . . . can I kiss you guys?”

Regina and Yolanda both grin. Without waiting a moment, Regina pulls Mylene to her and kisses her softly.

Mylene blushes fiercely and then she turns to Yolanda. The two shuffle closer. And Yolanda leans over and kisses Mylene sweetly.

The three stare at each other again. And then they start giggling.

“Oh my God,” Mylene says. “This is happening.”

Yolanda shakes with laughter, and Regina’s face turns red with mirth.

“Yeah,” Regina says. “It is.”

**

“It’s not fair.”

Regina and Mylene look over to their pouty girlfriend. They see the look on her face and laugh. Mylene leans against Yolanda plays with her earlobe, and Regina kisses Yolanda’s shoulder.

“Ya’ll two are gonna be living together while I’m at my folks’ house,” Yolanda grumbles.

She glares out of the airports glass doors at the cabs driving by. People hopping in and out. People visiting New York with lights in their eyes while still others are dragging themselves home after a long time away.

“You know,” Mylene starts, “you could just drop the ‘I wanna live with my girls’ bomb on my parents early. So they don’t get any ideas of you staying.”

Yolanda smirks. “I could . But I feel like Ra would kill my ass.”

Regina sucks her teeth. “Oh, please. He’ll be so busy trying to figure out the logistics that you could sneak out without him noticing.”

“I don’t know. He’s expecting me to come home since I let it slip that production was ending,” Yolanda says. “Plus, my mama and daddy are just dying to see me, apparently.” She twists her nose up and rolls her eyes.

You the one that repaired her relationship with parents and shit,” Regina says. “You should’ve just stayed broken like us.”

Mylene lets out a crass laugh.

“Yeah, because God knows I ain’t got nothing to go back to,” Mylene says.

“Don’t say that,” Yolanda admonishes, looking at both of her girls in turn. “You guys will work things out with your folks.”

Regina shrugs carelessly. She leans up and kisses Yolanda softly on the lips.

“That don’t matter to me much,” Regina says. “As long as we’re good, I’m good.”

Mylene slides her arm around Yolanda. She gets her fingers around a lock of Regina’s hair and gently plays with it. Then she nuzzles against Yolanda’s neck.

“Same here,” she says dreamily. “I just need my girls.”

Yolanda looks down at Mylene and snorts.

“I swear you both are like some cats. Rubbing all over me and shit,” Yolanda says with a laugh.

“You know you love us, though,” Regina says, gently rubbing Yolanda’s cheek.

Yolanda grins. “Couldn’t live without you.”

The three girlfriends fall into silence, soaking up as much of another one as they can. The sun shines through the glass doors, pouring its light into their skin.