Chapter 17

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Camila buried her feet in the hot sand and cracked an eye open against the sun, not wide enough for Lauren to notice. Sprawled on the beach this lazy, quiet Monday, she'd been pondering things—mostly head injuries. She wondered about memory and accuracy of recollection, flightiness and forgetfulness, gaps in the mind.

She watched Lauren's mouth move silently. If she was actually speaking, it wasn't loud enough for Camila to hear over the waves.

Camila's lips tipped up.

Lauren was eyeing the outside break. It was only chest high, but the sets were marginally better than the sloppy shit storm of inside whitewater. She predicted that the swells would pick up later with the wind, maybe smooth out and give her something to catch.

"Hey." Camila said softly, propping her head up with Lauren's sopping wet, bunched up towel.

Lauren glanced down, smiled warmly at her.

"What did you have for breakfast this morning?" Camila tested.

Lauren blinked at her for a moment and laughed. "Why?"

"Do you remember?"

"Pancakes." Lauren lifted a brow, checking if her response was alright.

Camila hummed and nodded. She tapped a finger thoughtfully against her cheek and asked, "How many playing cards are in a deck?"

"Am I being filmed?"

Camila snorted. "No, you're not on a game show, idiot."

Lauren tipped forward, amused. She kissed Camila's sandy head and drawled, "What do I get if I win?"

She was so close, watching intently. Camila brushed the wet dark hair out of her smiling eyes. "Not much." She shrugged. "I'm testing you."

Lauren's stare didn't falter.

"So how many playing cards are there in a deck?" Camila repeated, genuinely curious about whether or not Lauren knew the answer.

Lauren sighed and sat back on her palms, observing the waves. "Fifty-two cards, four suits, twelve face cards in a French deck."

"Show off."

"Just clever." Lauren side-eyed her, smiling wryly.

Camila considered her options. She'd noted Lauren's resentment for shoelaces and wheels, the way she'd slip a shoe on the wrong foot, button things incorrectly, constantly jam her toes and hip into doors and tables, mostly due to double vision. The white shirt Lauren had slipped on after swimming out to the outer break was actually on inside out.

A thought occurred to Camila and she tilted her head curiously.

"Touch your elbow." She requested.

Lauren rolled her eyes indulgently. She lifted her hand and touched her shoulder.

Camila remained quiet, triumphant, waiting to see if Lauren would correct herself. She gently reminded her, "Elbow, baby."

Lauren's hand didn't move. She looked at Camila, eyebrow raised. "Yeah? Now what?"

Camila licked her lips, smiling affectionately. "Lauren."

"Head on straight, Camila Cabello?"

"That's your shoulder, honey."

Lauren's exasperated grin faded. She looked down at her arm and frowned, confused. It was word association, Camila decided, mixed with spatial awareness. All of it was just a little bit scrambled.

Lauren cut her eyes up and Camila smiled sweetly at her, took her hand. "It's okay, baby."

Lauren pursed her lips.

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