Rescue Me

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Rafael doesn't take his hand off my arm while a porter walks us to our villa

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Rafael doesn't take his hand off my arm while a porter walks us to our villa.

"You're sure you don't have any luggage?" the porter asks.

"We're traveling light." Rafa shoots me a glare. I try to wriggle out of his grip, but he ends up clamping my hand tight.

Dammit, I left my suitcase at the airport. I wonder if Bethany thought to bring it with her on the plane. Probably not. I heave a sigh. I loved that bag.

The porter leads us down a wooden boardwalk. The path is surrounded in places by water, both man-made pools and natural lagoons. In other parts, it's shrouded by thickets of sea grape groves and other tall beach plants. The villas are in between these lagoons, ponds, pools, and groves, giving everything a secluded feel.

Tonight, in the fading otherworldly pink twilight, the water is inky and still, and not a leaf or blade of sea grass moves. "The calm before the storm," I murmur.

As we briskly walk behind the porter, I eye the lagoon.

"What happens if there's storm surge?" I ask.

"Maybe you should've thought about that when you decided to leave the airport," Rafa hisses.

"Oh, do not worry, Mrs. Menendez." The porter has a melodic and formal Bahamian lilt and doesn't use contractions. He points at a villa in the distance illuminated by the warm glow of expensive indoor lighting. "Your villa is on a slight platform. It is elevated. See, up ahead? It was built by a world-famous architect who anticipated storms."

I shoot Rafa a smirk, and he squeezes my fingers.

The porter talks about the famous architect who built every structure at the resort with obsessive symmetry, how he used exotic woods, and how our villa is the most secluded of all. Apparently it's not as close to the beach as the one we stayed at in February—incredibly, he either remembers us from that trip, or he's been trained to give the best customer service in the world—but it has a better vista of the ocean and the entire island.

"Here we are, my lovebirds!" The porter is too cheery for the circumstances, and Rafa and I both have sour looks on our faces. It almost makes me laugh out loud, how similar we look when we're annoyed. Sometimes I think we're both too similar for our own good.

My hand blooms with sweat because Rafa's clutching is so tight, and he doesn't let go while the porter explains the wet bar, the kitchen, and the mechanical hurricane shutters that will roll down at the touch of a button. The floor-to-ceiling windows will be protected, and so will we.

"We'll ring you before it's time to roll them down. It'll be like a fortress," the porter says.

"Or a torture chamber," I mutter. Rafael glares at me nastily, accompanied with a tight-lipped smile.

Somehow Rafael's able to tip the porter while holding my hand. When the door behind the hotel employee closes, Rafael backs me up a step to a nearby wall.

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