Later, the three of them had walked out along the beach. The plan had been vague and impetuous. Dragan wanted to swim in the sea, Krista told him it would be too cold, they began squabbling, chasing one another out towards the edge of the water. From somewhere they’d acquired a bottle of brandy, a vintage Armagnac, and in the chill of the night it became easy to choke down mouthfuls of it, the sweet vanillin taste. Mitchell had followed them but collapsed, sprawling onto the sand. He lay upon his back, while a thin wind came in over the water, a rare ice floe sky with a moon at the centre of it… He was shivering when he awoke. Alone. The sound of the waves, the sea stretched out now. A gull crying above him in the dark. He picked his way back to the Court, but he’d never had the head or stomach for spirits, and he was sick on the sand. People, he would remember thinking, with lonely drunken bitterness. About Dragan and Krista and the way they had left him alone. People. This is what they do. This is what they are.
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