same city. It doesn’t make sense.

“He owns an art gal ery here and another in London. He divides his time between them.”

“How often do you see him?”

“Never, if I can help it.” St. Clair turns sul en, and it dawns on me that I have no idea why he’s even here. I say as much.

“I didn’t say?” He straightens up. “Oh.Wel . I knew if someone didn’t come and physical y drag you outside, you’d never leave. So we’re going out.”

A strange mix of butterflies and churning erupts in my stomach. “Tonight?”


“Right.” I pause. “And El ie?”

He fal s back, and now he’s lying down on my bed. “Our plans fel through.” He says this with a vague wave of his hand, in a way that keeps me from

inquiring further.


I gesture at my pajama bottoms. “I’m not exactly dressed for it.”

“Come on, Anna. Do we honestly have to go through this again?”

I give him a doubtful look, and the unicorn pil ow flies at my head. I slam it back, and he grins, slides off the bed, and smacks me ful force. I grab for it but miss, and he hits me again twice before letting me catch it. St. Clair doubles over in laughter, and I whack him on the back. He tries to reclaim it, but I hold on and we wrestle back and forth until he lets go. The force throws me onto the bed, dizzy and sweaty.

St. Clair flops down beside me, breathing heavily. He’s lying so close that his hair tickles the side of my face. Our arms are almost touching. Almost. I try to exhale, but I no longer know how to breathe. And then I remember I’m not wearing a bra.

And now I’m paranoid.

“Okay.” He’s panting. “Here’s the”— pant pant—“plan.”

I don’t want to feel this way around him. I want things to be normal. I want to be his friend, not another stupid girl holding out for something that will never happen. I force myself up. My hair has gone all crazy and staticky from the pil ow fight, so I grab an elastic band off my dresser to pul it back.

“Put on some proper trousers,” he says. “And I’l show you Paris.”

“That’s it? That’s the plan?”

“The whole shebang.”

“Wow. ‘Shebang.’ Fancy.”

St. Clair grunts and chucks the pil ow at me. My phone rings. It’s probably my mom; she’s cal ed every night this week. I swipe my cel off my desk, and

I’m about to silence the ringer when the name flashes up. My heart stops.


Chapter eight

I hope you’re wearing a beret.” This is how Toph greets me.

I’m already laughing. He cal ed! Toph cal ed!

“Not yet.” I pace the short length of my room. “But I could pick one up for you, if you’d like. Get your name stitched onto it.You could wear it instead of your name tag.”

“I could rock a beret.” There’s a grin in his voice.

“No one can rock a beret. Not even you.”

St. Clair is stil lying on my bed. He props up his head to watch me. I smile and point to the picture on my laptop. Toph, I mouth.

St. Clair shakes his head.


Ah, he mouths back.

“So your sister came in yesterday.” Toph always refers to Bridge as my sister. We’re the same height with the same slender build, and we both have

long, stick-straight hair, although hers is blond and mine is brown. And, as people who spend tons of time together are prone to do, we talk the

same.Though she uses bigger words. And her arms are sculpted from the drumming. And I have the gap between my teeth, while she had braces. In other

words, she’s like me, but prettier and smarter and more talented.

“I didn’t know she was a drummer,” he says. “She any good?”

“The best.”

“Are you saying that because she’s your friend, or because she’s actual y decent?”

“She’s the best,” I repeat. From the corner of my eye, I see St. Clair glance at the clock on my dresser.

“My drummer abandoned ship. Think she’d be interested?”

Last summer Toph started a punk band, the Penny Dreadfuls. Many member changes and arguments over lyrical content have transpired, but no actual

shows. Which is too bad. I bet Toph looks good behind a guitar.

“Actual y,” I say, “I think she would. Her jerkwad percussion instructor just passed her up as section leader, and she has some rage to funnel.” I give him her number. Toph repeats it back as St. Clair taps an imaginary wristwatch. It’s only nine, so I’m not sure what his rush is. Even I know that’s early for Paris. He clears his throat loudly.

“Hey, I’m sorry. I need to go,” I say.

“Is someone there with you?”

“Uh, yeah. My friend. He’s taking me out tonight.”

A beat. “He?”

“He’s just a friend.” I turn my back to St. Clair. “He has a girlfriend.” I squeeze my eyes shut. Should I have said that?

“So you’re not gonna forget about us? I mean ...” He slows down. “Us here in Atlanta? Ditch us for some Frenchie and never return?”

My heart thrums. “Of course not. I’l be back at Christmas.”

“Good. Okay,Annabel Lee. I should get back to work anyway. Hercules is probably pissed I’m not covering the door. Ciao.”

“Actual y,” I say. “It’s au revoir.”

“Whatever.” He laughs, and we hang up.

St. Clair gets up from the bed. “Jealous boyfriend?”

“I told you. He’s not my boyfriend.”

“But you like him.”

I blush. “Wel ... yeah.”

St. Clair’s expression is unreadable. Maybe annoyed. He nods toward my door. “You stil want to go out?”

“What?” I’m confused. “Yeah, of course. Lemme change first.” I let him out, and five minutes later, we’re headed north. I’ve thrown on my favorite shirt, a cute thrift-store find that hugs me in the right places, and jeans and black canvas sneakers. I know sneakers aren’t very French—I should be wearing

pointy boots or scary heels—but at least they aren’t white. It’s true what they say about white sneakers. Only American tourists wear them, big ugly things made for mowing grass or painting houses.

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