next day.

Then again . . . it’s St. Clair. Beautiful, perfect, wonderful—

And great. That’s just great.

He threw up on me.

Chapter sixteen

I’m mopping up his mess with a towel when there’s a knock on my door. I open it with my elbows to keep the vomit from touching my doorknob.

It’s El ie. I nearly drop my towel. “Oh.”

Slutty nurse. I don’t believe it. Tiny white button-up dress, red crosses across the ni**les. Cleavage city.

“Anna, I’m soooo sorry,” St. Clair moans behind me, and she rushes to his side.

“Ohmygod, St. Clair! Are you okay?” Again, her husky voice startles me. As if the nurse getup weren’t enough to make me feel completely juvenile and



“’Course he’s not okay,” Josh grumbles from the bed. “He just puked on Anna.”

Josh is awake?

El ie smacks Josh’s feet, which hang over the edge of my bed. “Get up. Help me move him to his room.”

“I can get up by my bloody self.” St. Clair tries to push himself up, and El ie and I reach out to steady him. She glares at me, and I back up.

“How’d you know he was here?” I ask.

“Meredith cal ed, but I was already on my way. I’d just gotten his message. He cal ed a few hours ago, but I didn’t get it, because I was getting ready for this stupid party.” She gestures at her costume, upset with herself. “I should have been here.” She brushes St. Clair’s hair from his forehead. “It’s okay, babe. I’m here now.”

“El ie?” St. Clair sounds confused, as if he’s just noticed her. “Anna? Why is El en here? She’s not supposed to be here.”

His girlfriend shoots me a hateful look, and I shrug with embarrassment. “He’s real y, really drunk,” I say.

She thwacks Josh again, and he rol s off the bed. “Al right, all right!” Amazingly, he stands and pul s St. Clair off the floor. They balance him between their shoulders. “Get the door,” she says sharply. I open it, and they stagger out.

St. Clair looks back. “Anna. Anna, I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. I’ve already cleaned it up. It’s fine, it’s not a big deal.”

“No. About everything else.”

El ie’s head jerks back to me, angry and confused, but I don’t care. He looks so awful. I wish they’d put him down. He could sleep in my bed tonight; I

could stay with Mer. But they’re already maneuvering him into the rickety elevator. They push aside the metal grate and squish inside. St. Clair stares at me sadly as the door shuts.

“She’l be fine!Your mother will be fine!”

I don’t know if he hears me. The elevator creaks upward. I watch it until it disappears.

Sunday, November 1, all Saints’ Day. Oddly enough, this is the actual day that Parisians visit cemeteries. I’m told people are dropping by the graves of

loved ones and leaving flowers and personal tokens.

The thought makes me il . I hope St. Clair doesn’t remember today is a holiday.

When I wake up, I stop by Meredith’s. She’s already been to his room, and either he’s out cold or he’s not accepting visitors. Most likely both. “It’s best to let him sleep,” she says. And I’m sure she’s right, but I can’t help but tune my ear to the floor above.The first movements begin in the late afternoon, but even these are muffled. Slow shuffles and laborious thuds.

He wouldn’t come out for dinner. Josh, who is cross and bleary, says he checked in with him on his way here—a pizza place, where we always eat on

Sunday night—and St. Clair didn’t want company. Josh and Rashmi have patched things up. She looks smug to see him suffering through a hangover.

My emotions are conflicted. I’m worried for St. Clair’s mother, and I’m worried for St. Clair, but I’m also furious with his father. And I can’t focus on anything for more than a second before my mind whirls back to this:

St. Clair likes me. As more than a friend.

I felt truth behind his words, but how can I overlook the fact that he was drunk? Absolutely, positively, one hundred and ten percent smashed. And as

much as I want to see him, to be assured with my own eyes that he’s stil alive, I don’t know what I’d say. Do we talk about it? Or do I act like it never happened?

He needs friendship right now, not relationship drama. Which is why it’s really crappy that it’s become a lot harder to kid myself that St. Clair’s attention hasn’t been as flattering—or as welcome—as it has.

Toph cal s around midnight. We haven’t talked on the phone in weeks, but with everything happening here, I’m distracted the entire time. I just want to

go back to bed. It’s too confusing. Everything is too confusing.

St. Clair was absent again at breakfast. And I think he’s not even coming to class today (and who could blame him?), when he appears in English, fifteen

minutes late. I worry that Professeur Cole will yel at him, but the faculty must have been notified of the situation, because she doesn’t say a word. She just gives him a pitying look and pushes ahead with our lesson. “So why aren’t Americans interested in translated novels? Why are so few foreign works

published in English every year?”

I try to meet St. Clair’s gaze, but he stares down at his copy of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. Or rather, stares through it. He’s pale, practical y translucent.

“Wel ,” she continues. “It’s often suggested that as a culture, we’re only interested in immediate gratification. Fast food. Self-checkout. Downloadable

music, movies, books. Instant coffee, instant rebates, instant messaging. Instant weight loss! Shal I go on?”

The class laughs, but St. Clair is quiet. I watch him nervously. Dark stubble is beginning to shadow his face. I hadn’t realized he needed to shave so


“Foreign novels are less action-oriented.They have a different pace; they’re more reflective. They chal enge us to look for the story, find the story within the story. Take Balzac. Whose story is this? The narrator’s? The little seamstress’s? China’s?”

I want to reach out and squeeze his hand and tell him everything will be okay. He shouldn’t be here. I can’t imagine what I’d do if I were in his situation.

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