great ship steaming downriver. Massive. Monstrous. Majestic. It’s lit in a way that absurdly reminds me of Disney World, but it’s so much more magical

than anything Walt could have dreamed up. Mounds of green vines spil down the wal s and into the water, completing the fairy tale.

I slowly exhale. “It’s beautiful.”

St. Clair is watching me.

“I’ve never seen anything like it.” I don’t know what more to say.

We have to cross a bridge to get to it. I hadn’t realized it was built on an island. St. Clair tell s me we’re walking to the Île de la Cité, the Island of the City, and it’s the oldest district in all of Paris. The Seine twinkles below us, deep and green, and a long boat strung with lights glides underneath the bridge. I peer over the edge. “Look! That guy is so trashed. He’s total y gonna fal off the bo—” I glance back and find St. Clair toddling on the road, several feet away from the edge of the bridge.

For a moment, I’m confused. Then it hits me. “What? You aren’t afraid of heights?”

St. Clair keeps his eyes forward, on the il uminated figure of Notre-Dame. “I just can’t fathom why anyone would stand on a ledge when there’s a

respectable amount of walking space right next to it.”

“Oh, it’s about walking space, is it?”


“Drop it, or I’l quiz you about Rasputin. Or French verb conjugation.”

I lean over the side of the bridge and pretend to wobble. St. Clair turns pale. “No! Don’t!” He stretches out his arms like he wants to save me, then

clutches his stomach like he’s about to vomit instead.

“Sorry!” I jump away from the ledge. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize it was so bad.”

He shakes a hand, motioning for me to stop talking. The other hand stil clings to his queasy stomach.

“I’m sorry,” I say again, after a moment.

“Come on.” St. Clair sounds peeved, as if I was the one holding us back. He gestures to Notre-Dame. “That’s not why I brought you here.”

I can’t fathom anything better than Notre-Dame. “We’re not going inside?”

“Closed. Plenty of time to see it later, remember?” He leads me into the courtyard, and I take the opportunity to admire his backside. Cal ipygian. There is something better than Notre-Dame.

“Here,” he says.

We have a perfect view of the entrance—hundreds and hundreds of tiny figures carved into three colossal archways.The statues look like stone dol s,

each one separate and individualized. “They’re incredible,” I whisper.

“Not there. Here.” He points to my feet.

I look down, and I’m surprised to find myself standing in the middle of a smal stone circle. In the center, directly between my feet, is a coppery-bronze octagon with a star.Words are engraved in the stone around it: POINT ZÉRO DES ROUTES DE FRANCE.

“Mademoisel e Oliphant. It translates to ‘Point zero of the roads of France.’ In other words, it’s the point from which all other distances in France are measured.” St. Clair clears his throat. “It’s the beginning of everything.”

I look back up. He’s smiling.

“Welcome to Paris, Anna. I’m glad you’ve come.”

Chapter nine

St. Clair tucks the tips of his fingers into his pockets and kicks the cobblestones with the toe of his boots. “Wel ?” he final y asks.

“Thank you.” I’m stunned. “It was real y sweet of you to bring me here.”

“Ah, well .” He straightens up and shrugs—that ful -bodied French shrug he does so well —and reassumes his usual, assured state of being. “Have to

start somewhere. Now make a wish.”

“Huh?” I have such a way with words. I should write epic poetry or jingles for cat food commercials.

He smiles. “Place your feet on the star, and make a wish.”

“Oh. Okay, sure.” I slide my feet together so I’m standing in the center. “I wish—”

“Don’t say it aloud!” St. Clair rushes forward, as if to stop my words with his body, and my stomach flips violently. “Don’t you know anything about

making wishes? You only get a limited number in life. Fal ing stars, eyelashes, dandelions—”

“Birthday candles.”

He ignores the dig. “Exactly. So you ought to take advantage of them when they arise, and superstition says if you make a wish on that star, it’l come true.” He pauses before continuing. “Which is better than the other one I’ve heard.”

“That I’l die a painful death of poisoning, shooting, beating, and drowning?”

“Hypothermia, not drowning.” St. Clair laughs. He has a wonderful, boyish laugh. “But no. I’ve heard anyone who stands here is destined to return to

Paris someday. And as I understand it, one year for you is one year too many. Am I right?”

I close my eyes. Mom and Seany appear before me. Bridge. Toph. I nod.

“Al right, then. So keep your eyes closed. And make a wish.”

I take a deep breath. The cool dampness of the nearby trees fil s my lungs. What do I want? It’s a difficult question.

I want to go home, but I have to admit I’ve enjoyed tonight. And what if this is the only time in my entire life I visit Paris? I know I just told St. Clair that I don’t want to be here, but there’s a part of me—a teeny, tiny part—that’s curious. If my father cal ed tomorrow and ordered me home, I might be

disappointed. I stil haven’t seen the Mona Lisa. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Walked beneath the Arc de Triomphe.

So what else do I want?

I want to feel Toph’s lips again. I want him to wait. But there’s another part of me, a part I real y, really hate, that knows even if we do make it, I’d stil move away for col ege next year. So I’d see him this Christmas and next summer, and then . . . would that be it?

And then there’s the other thing.

The thing I’m trying to ignore. The thing I shouldn’t want, the thing I can’t have.

And he’s standing in front of me right now.

So what do I wish for? Something I’m not sure I want? Someone I’m not sure I need? Or someone I know I can’t have?

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