Us Against the World

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"Justine, what? What's wrong?"

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"Justine, what? What's wrong?"

I'm ripped out of my deep sleep—the first I've had in days—from Justine's screaming.

"Did you hear that?" she shrieks. "Something banged against the window."

I sit up and flick on the light. Blinking, I try to focus on the window. All I can see is the glass and the sheets of rain coming down.

"I think something hit the glass. I hope it's not broken." She peels off the covers and marches over to the window.

I scramble to follow her. "Justine, get away from that. I'll look."

She's already at the window, naked, cupping her hands at the sides of her eyes and pressing her face into the glass. "Whoa, it's a palm tree trunk. See?"

I peer outside. Sure enough, there's the trunk floating in the shallow lagoon water below.

"We need to roll down the hurricane shutters now. I don't give a shit whether the hotel wants us to yet or not. Get in bed, and I'll do it."

I watch her walk back to bed, the swerve of her curvy hips putting a smile on my face. As I go to the living room to grab the remote controls for the shutters, I wonder how long I'd been asleep. It felt like hours.

The shutters roll over the windows in the living room with no problem, and I watch as they cover the bedroom window as well. Now we're isolated inside, the sound of the wind and rain muffled.

Back in bed, I shut out the light, throw the duvet over us, and arrange Justine the way she was—tucked into my side, my arms around her, her leg over mine. I kiss her forehead. "Remember that hurricane that hit Miami when we were in school?"

"Mmm. When we lived in that crappy apartment. It wasn't even that big of a storm and wasn't a direct hit, but it sucked."

"Yep. The worst part was after it passed. How we didn't have electricity for a week and that weird guy upstairs had a nonstop acoustic jam session with his guitar."

"Oh, yeah, I remember that. He was the artist who painted portraits of girls. You always thought he was sketchy."

"He was sketchy. I think the girls were underage. Remember a few days after the hurricane, his friend with the bongos came to stay." Justine chortles. "I was so angry because I was sweaty and couldn't sleep, and they started in with their shitty music."

"I'd almost forgotten. That guy wouldn't stop. It was bad enough being without air conditioning and a fridge. But the bongos were like insult to injury."

We're both cracking up.

"It wasn't all bad, though." Her voice is suddenly soft. "So many memories of that week. We'd just started living together, and I felt like I was part of a team. I stood in that Red Cross line for two bags of ice, and you were so happy when I got home. Everyone in the city was freaking out, but we didn't. You even found a Cuban bakery selling guava pastries and bought all of them and gave them out to everyone in our building. I loved you for that. I was so impressed."

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