leaving streaks or lint behind—

“Yes. Alarmingly so.”

St. Clair wanders around, picking up things and examining them like I did in Meredith’s room. He inspects the col ection of banana and elephant

figurines lined up on my dresser. He holds up a glass elephant and raises his dark eyebrows in question.

“It’s my nickname.”

“Elephant?” He shakes his head. “Sorry, I don’t see it.”

“Anna Oliphant. ‘Banana Elephant . ’ My friend col ects those for me, and I col ect toy bridges and sandwiches for her. Her name is Bridgette

Saunderwick,” I add.

St. Clair sets down the glass elephant and wanders to my desk. “So can anyone cal you Elephant?”

“Banana Elephant. And no. Definitely not.”


“I’m sorry,” he says. “But not for that.”

“What? Why?”

“You’re fixing everything I set down.” He nods at my hands, which are readjusting the elephant. “It wasn’t polite of me to come in and start touching your things.”

“Oh, it’s okay,” I say quickly, letting go of the figurine. “You can touch anything of mine you want.”

He freezes. A funny look runs across his face before I realize what I’ve said. I didn’t mean it like that.

Not that that would be so bad.

But I like Toph, and St. Clair has a girlfriend. And even if the situation were different, Mer stil has dibs. I’d never do that to her after how nice she was my first day. And my second. And every other day this week.

Besides, he’s just an attractive boy. Nothing to get worked up over. I mean, the streets of Europe are fil ed with beautiful guys, right? Guys with

grooming regimens and proper haircuts and stylish coats. Not that I’ve seen anyone even remotely as good-looking as Monsieur Étienne St. Clair. But

stil .

He turns his face away from mine. Is it my imagination, or does he look embarrassed? But why would he be embarrassed? I’m the one with the idiotic


“Is that your boyfriend?” He points to my laptop’s wal paper, a photo of my coworkers and me goofing around. It was taken before the midnight release

of the latest fantasy-novel-to-film adaptation. Most of us were dressed like elves or wizards. “The one with his eyes closed?”

“WHAT?” He thinks I’d date a guy like Hercules? Hercules is an assistant manager. He’s ten years older than me and, yes, that’s his real name. And even though he’s sweet and knows more about Japanese horror films than anyone, he also has a ponytail.

A ponytail.

“Anna, I’m kidding. This one. Sideburns.” He points to Toph, the reason I love the picture so much. Our heads are turned into each other, and we’re

wearing secret smiles, as if sharing a private joke.

“Oh. Uh . . . no. Not real y. I mean, Toph was my almost-boyfriend. I moved away before ...” I trail off, uncomfortable. “Before much could happen.”

St. Clair doesn’t respond. After an awkward silence, he puts his hands in his pockets and rocks back on his heels. “Provide for all.”

“What?” I’m startled.

“Tout pourvoir. ” He nods at a pil ow on my bed.The words are embroidered above a picture of a unicorn. It was a gift from my grandparents, and the motto and crest are for the Oliphant clan. A long time ago, my grandfather moved to America to marry my grandmother, but he’s stil devoted to all things Scottish. He’s always buying Seany and me things decorated with the clan tartan (blue-and-green-checkered, with black and white lines). For instance,

my bedspread.

“Yeah, I know that’s what it means. But how did you know?”

“Tout pourvoir. It’s French.”

Excel ent. The Oliphant clan motto, dril ed into my head since infancy, turns out to be in FRENCH, and I didn’t even know it. Thanks, Granddad. As if I

didn’t already look like a moron. But how was I supposed to know a Scottish motto would be in French? I thought they hated France. Or is that just the


Argh, I don’t know. I always assumed it was in Latin or some other dead language.

“Your brother?” St. Clair points above my bed to the only picture I’ve hung up. Seany is grinning at the camera and pointing at one of my mother’s

research turtles, which is lifting its neck and threatening to take away his finger. Mom is doing a study on the lifetime reproductive habits of snapping turtles and visits her brood in the Chattahoochee River several times a month. My brother loves to go with her, while I prefer the safety of our home.

Snapping turtles are mean.

“Yep. That’s Sean.”

“That’s a little Irish for a family with tartan bedspreads.”

I smile. “It’s kind of a sore spot. My mom loved the name, but Granddad—my father’s father—practical y died when he heard it. He was rooting for

Malcolm or Ewan or Dougal instead.”

St. Clair laughs. “How old is he?”

“Seven. He’s in the second grade.”

“That’s a big age difference.”

“Wel , he was either an accident or a last-ditch effort to save a failing marriage. I’ve never had the nerve to ask which.”

Wow. I can’t believe I just blurted that out.

He sits down on the edge of my bed. “Your parents are divorced?”

I hover by my desk chair, because I can’t sit next to him on the bed. Maybe when I’m used to his presence, I might be able to manage that particular

feat. But not yet. “Yeah. My dad left six months after Sean was born.”

“I’m sorry.” And I can tell he means it. “Mine are separated.”

I shiver and tuck my hands underneath my arms. “Then I’m sorry, too. That sucks.”

“It’s all right. My father’s a bastard.”

“So is mine. I mean, obviously he is, if he left us when Seany was a baby. Which he total y did. But it’s also his fault I’m stuck here. In Paris.”

“I know.”

He does?

“Mer told me. But I guarantee you that my father is worse. Unfortunately, he’s the one here in Paris, while my mum is alone, thousands of miles away.”

“Your dad lives here?” I’m surprised. I know his dad is French, but I can’t imagine someone sending their child to boarding school when they live in the

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