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Virgin Islands

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Leaning against the fence outside the hotel and looking down onto the beach, he can see Narcissa's chair, crowned with a broad turquoise parasol. She is perfectly appointed even here; he can see at this angle just her elegant legs, her delicately crossed ankles, her tasteful sandals.

It is sometimes unbearable to be near her.

He feels a sharp vibration through the metal of the fence; he raises his hands from it and looks about. There is a wiry boy, brown-skinned and long-haired, walking along and hitting his palm against the top of the fence at intervals. Wearing a bookbag as though he's been at school. He is all awkward-adolescent, shoulders hunched and unkempt hair falling in his face.

When he sees Lucius in his way, the boy sneers openly at him as he detours, and it gives Lucius a jerk of painful memory — the curve of his mouth...

At one time, perhaps Lucius would have stopped him, charmed him. Taken him. Would have sought bitter remembrances in those sneering lips, under this hot alien sun.

Lucius knows there is only disappointment to be found there.

He lets the boy go by, and opens the pretty white gate that leads down to the beach.