St. Clair looks disoriented. “Er. El ie, this is Anna. She hadn’t left the dorm all week, so I thought I’d show her—”

To my amazement, El ie breaks into an ear-to-ear smile. Oddly enough, it’s this moment I realize that despite her husky voice and Parisian attire, she’s

sort of . . . plain. But friendly-looking.

That stil doesn’t mean I like her.

“Anna! From Atlanta, right? Where’d you guys go?”

She knows who I am? St. Clair describes our evening while I contemplate this strange development. Did he tell her about me? Or was it Meredith? I hope it was him, but even if it was, it’s not like he said anything she found threatening. She doesn’t seem alarmed that I’ve spent the last three hours in the company of her very attractive boyfriend. Alone.

Must be nice to have that kind of confidence.

“Okay, babe.” She cuts him off. “You can tell me the rest later. You ready to go?”

Did he say he’d go with her? I don’t remember, but he nods his head. “Yeah. Yeah, let me grab my, er—” He glances at me, and then toward the

entrance of our dorm.


“What? You’re already dressed to go out. You look great. C’mon.” She tugs his arm, linking it to hers. “It was nice to meet you, Anna.”

I find my voice. “Yeah. Nice to meet you, too.” I turn to St. Clair, but he won’t look at me properly. Fine. Whatever. I give him my best I-don’t-care-that-you-have-a-girlfriend smile and a cheerful “Bye!”

He doesn’t react. Okay, time to go. I bolt away and pul out my building key. But as I unlock the door, I can’t help but glance back. St. Clair and El ie are striding into the darkness, arms stil linked, her mouth stil chattering.

As I pause there, St. Clair’s head turns back to me. Just for a moment.

Chapter ten

It’s better this way. It is.

As the days pass, I realize that I’m glad I met his girlfriend. It’s actual y a relief. There are few things worse than having feelings for someone you

shouldn’t, and I don’t like where my thoughts were headed. And I certainly don’t want to be another Amanda Spitterton-Watts.

St. Clair is just friendly. The whole school likes him—the professeurs, the popular kids, the unpopular kids—and why wouldn’t they? He’s smart and funny and polite. And, yes, ridiculously attractive. Although, for being so well liked, he doesn’t hang out with many people. Just our little group. And since his best friend is usual y distracted by Rashmi, he’s taken to hanging out with, well . . . me.

Since our night out, he’s sat next to me at every meal. He teases me about sneakers, asks about my favorite films, and conjugates my French

homework. And he defends me. Like last week in physics when Amanda cal ed me la moufette in a nasty way and held her nose as I walked by her desk, St. Clair told her to “bugger off” and threw tiny wads of paper into her hair for the rest of class.

I looked up the word later, and it means “skunk.” So original.

But then, just as I feel those twinges again, he disappears. I’l be staring out my window after dinner, watching the sanitation workers tidy the street in their bright green uniforms, when he’l emerge from our dorm and vanish toward the métro.

Toward El ie.

Most nights I’m studying in the lobby with our other friends when he comes home. He’l plop down beside me and crack a joke about whatever drunken

junior is hitting on the girl behind the front desk. (There’s always a drunken junior hitting on the girl behind the front desk.) And is it my imagination, or is his hair more disheveled than usual?

The thought of St. Clair and El ie doing— things—makes me more jealous than I care to admit. Toph and I email, but the messages have never been

more than friendly. I don’t know if this means he’s stil interested or if it means he’s not, but I do know that emailing is not the same as kissing. Or things.

The only one who understands the St. Clair situation is Mer, but I can’t say anything to her. Sometimes I’m afraid she might be jealous of me. Like I’l catch her watching the two of us at lunch, and when I ask her to pass me a napkin, she’l kind of chuck it at me instead. Or when St. Clair doodles bananas and elephants into the margins of my homework, she’l grow rigid and silent.

Maybe I’m doing her a favor. I’m stronger than she is, since I haven’t known him as long. Since he’s always been off-limits. I mean, poor Mer. Any girl

faced with daily attention from a gorgeous boy with a cute accent and perfect hair would be hard-pressed not to develop a big, stinking, painful, all -thetime, all -consuming crush.

Not that that’s what’s happening to me.

Like I said. It’s a relief to know it won’t happen. It makes things easier. Most girls laugh too hard at his jokes and find excuses to gently press his arm.

To touch him. Instead, I argue and rol my eyes and act indifferent. And when I touch his arm, I shove it. Because that’s what friends do.

Besides, I have more important things on my mind: movies.

I’ve been in France for a month, and though I have ridden the elevators to the top of La Tour Eiffel (Mer took me while St. Clair and Rashmi waited

below on the lawn—St. Clair because he’s afraid of fal ing and Rashmi because she refuses to do anything touristy), and though I have walked the viewing

platform of L’Arc de Triomphe (Mer took me again, of course, while St. Clair stayed below and threatened to push Josh and Rashmi into the insane traffic

circle), I stil haven’t been to the movies.

Actual y, I have yet to leave campus alone. Kind of embarrassing.

But I have a plan. First, I’l convince someone to go to a theater with me. Shouldn’t be too difficult; everyone likes the movies. And then I’l take notes on everything they say and do, and then I’l be comfortable going back to that theater alone. And one theater is better than no theaters.

“Rashmi. What are you doing tonight?”

We’re waiting for La Vie to begin. Last week we learned about the importance of eating local y grown food, and before that, how to write a col ege

application essay.Who knows what they’l drag out today? Meredith and Josh are the only ones not here, Josh because he’s a junior, and Mer because

she’s taking that extra language class, advanced Spanish. For fun. Craziness.

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