“Probably.” Josh flexes his hand and winces.

I frown. “What’s the matter?”

“It’s cramped,” he says. “From drawing. It’s okay, it’s always like this.”

Strange. I’d never considered art injuries before. “You’re real y talented. Is that what you want to do? For a living, I mean?”

“I’m working on a graphic novel.”

“Real y? That’s cool.” I push my laptop away. “What’s it about?”

The corner of his mouth rises in a sly smile. “A guy forced to attend a snobby boarding school, because his parents don’t want him around anymore.”

I snort. “I’ve heard that one before. What do your parents do?”

“My dad’s a politician. They’re working on his reelection campaign. I haven’t talked to ‘Senator Wasserstein’ since school started.”

“Senator? As in a senator senator?”


“Senator as in senator senator. Unfortunately.”

Again. What was my dad thinking? Sending me to school with the children of U.S. SENATORS? “Does everyone have a terrible father?” I ask. “Is it a

requirement for attendance?”

He nods toward Rashmi and Mer. “They don’t. But St. Clair’s dad is a piece of work.”

“So I hear.” Curiosity gets the best of me, and I lower my voice. “What’s his deal?”

Josh shrugs. “He’s just a jerk. He keeps a tight leash on St. Clair and his mom, but he’s real y friendly to everyone else. Somehow that makes it worse.”

I’m suddenly distracted by an odd purple-and-red knitted stocking cap walking into the lobby. Josh turns to see what I’m staring at. Meredith and

Rashmi notice his movement, and they look up from their books.

“Oh God,” Rashmi says. “He’s wearing The Hat.”

“I like The Hat,” Mer says.

“You would,” Josh says.

Meredith gives him a dirty look. I turn to get a better look at The Hat, and I’m startled to realize it’s right behind me. And it’s sitting atop St. Clair’s head.

“So The Hat is back,” Rashmi says.

“Yup,” he says. “I know you missed it.”

“Is there a story behind The Hat?” I ask.

“Only that his mother made it for him last winter, and we all agreed it was the most hideous accessory in Paris,” Rashmi says.

“Oh, yeah?” St. Clair pul s it off and yanks it down over her head. Her two black braids stick out comical y from underneath. “Looks great on you. Real y fetching.”

She scowls and tosses it back, then smoothes her part. He shoves it over his messy hair again, and I find myself agreeing with Mer. It’s actual y pretty

cute. He looks warm and fuzzy, like a teddy bear.

“How was the show?” Mer asks.

He shrugs. “Nothing spectacular.What have you been up to?”

“Anna’s been sharing her father’s ‘gentle reminder,’” Josh says.

St. Clair makes a yuck face.

“I’d rather not go there again, thank you.” I shut my laptop.

“If you’re done, I have something for you,” St. Clair says.

“What? Who, me?”

“Remember how I promised I’d make you feel less American?”

I smile. “You have my French passport?” I hadn’t forgotten his promise but figured he had—that conversation was weeks ago. I’m surprised and

flattered he remembered.

“Better. Came in the mail yesterday. Come on, it’s in my room.” And, with that, he puts his hands in his coat pockets and struts into the stairwel .

I shove my computer into my bag, sling it over my shoulder, and shrug at the others. Mer looks hurt, and for a moment I feel guilty. But it’s not like I’m stealing him from her. I’m his friend, too. I chase him up five flights of stairs, and The Hat bobs ahead of me.We get to his floor, and he leads me down the hal way. I’m nervous and excited. I’ve never seen his room before.We always meet in the lobby or on my floor.

“Home sweet home.” He pul s out an “I Left My ♥ in San Francisco” key chain. Another gift from his mother, I suppose. Taped to his door is a sketch of

him wearing Napoleon’s hat. Josh’s work.

“Hey, 508! Your room is right above mine.You never said.”

St. Clair smiles. “Maybe I didn’t want you blaming me for keeping you up at night with my noisy stomping boots.”

“Dude.You do stomp.”

“I know. I’m sorry.” He laughs and holds the door open for me. His room is neater than I expected. I always picture guys with disgusting bedrooms—

mountains of soiled boxer shorts and sweat-stained undershirts, unmade beds with sheets that haven’t been changed in weeks, posters of beer bottles

and women in neon bikinis, empty soda cans and chip bags, and random bits of model airplanes and discarded video games.

That’s what Matt’s room looked like. It always grossed me out. I never knew when I might sit on a sauce packet from Taco Bel .

But St. Clair’s room is tidy. His bed is made, and there’s only one smal pile of clothing on the floor. There are no tacky posters, just an antique world map tacked above his desk and two colorful oil paintings above his bed. And books. I’ve never seen so many books in one bedroom. They’re stacked

along his wal s like towers—thick history books and tattered paperbacks and . . . an OED. Just like Bridge.

“I can’t believe I know two people crazy enough to own the OED.”

“Oh, yeah? Who’s the other?”

“Bridge. God, is yours new?” The spines are crisp and shiny. Bridgette’s is a few decades old, and her spines are cracked and splintering.

St. Clair looks embarrassed. The Oxford English Dictionary is a thousand bucks new, and even though we’ve never talked about it, he knows I don’t have spending money like the rest of our classmates. It’s pretty clear when I order the cheapest thing on the menu every time we eat out. Dad may have

wanted to give me a fancy education, but he isn’t concerned about my daily expenses. I’ve asked him twice for a raise in my weekly all owance, but he’s

refused, saying I need to learn to live within my means.

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