I like the cake shops the best.

“It just seems like Josh is tell ing him it’s okay to stop caring,” Mer presses. “I feel like I’m always the bad guy. ‘Get up. Go to school. Do your homework.’

You know? While Josh is like, ‘Screw it, man. Just leave.’ ”

“Yeah, but I don’t think he’s tell ing St. Clair not to care. He just knows St. Clair can’t deal with things right now.” But I squirm a bit. I do wish Josh would be supportive in a more encouraging way.

She opens her mouth to argue when I interrupt. “How’s soccer?”

“Footbal ,” she says, and her face lights up. Meredith joined a local girls’ league last month, and she practices most afternoons. She updates me on her

latest adventures in soccer dril s until we reach the front case. It shimmers with neat rows of square-shaped tarte citrons, spongy cakes swel ing with molten chocolate, caramel éclairs like bal et slippers, and red fruity cakes with wild strawberries dusted in powdery sugar.

And more macarons.

Bin after bin of macarons in every flavor and color imaginable. Grass greens and pinky reds and sunshine yel ows. While Mer debates over cakes, I select six.

Rose. Black currant. Orange. Fig. Pistachio. Violet.


And then I notice cinnamon and hazelnut praline, and I just want to die right there. Crawl over the counter and crunch my fingers through their delicate

crusts and lick out the fragrant fil ings until I can no longer breathe. I am so distracted it takes a moment to realize the man behind me is speaking to me.

“Huh?” I turn to see a dignified gentleman with a basset hound. He’s smiling at me and pointing at my striped box. The man looks familiar. I swear I’ve

seen him before. He talks in friendly, rapid French.

“Uhh.” I gesture around feebly and shrug my shoulders. “Je ne parle pas ...”

I don’t speak . . .

He slows down, but I’m stil clueless. “Mer? Help? Mer?”

She comes to the rescue.They chat for a minute, and his eyes are shining until she says something that makes him gasp. “Ce n’est pas possible!” I don’t need to speak the language to recognize an “Oh, no!” when I hear it. He considers me sadly, and then they say goodbye. I add in my own shaky

farewel . Mer and I pay for our treats—she’s selected un millefeuille, a puff pastry with custard—and she steers me from the shop.

“Who was that? What did he want? What were you talking about?”

“You don’t recognize him?” She’s surprised. “It’s the man who runs that theater on rue des Écoles, the little one with the red-and-white lights. He walks Pouce in front of our dorm all the time.”

We pick our way through a flock of pigeons, who don’t care we’re about to step on them. They rumble with coos and beat their wings and jostle the air.


“The basset hound.”

A lightbulb goes off. Of course I’ve seen them around. “But what did he want?”

“He was wondering why he hasn’t seen your boyfriend in a while. St. Clair,” she adds, at my confused expression. Her voice is bitter. “I guess you guys

have seen a few films there together?”

“We watched a spaghetti-western retrospective there last month.” I’m baffled. He thought St. Clair and I were dating?

She’s quiet. Jealous. But Meredith has no reason for envy. There’s nothing— nothing—going on between St. Clair and me. And I’m okay with it, I swear.

I’m too worried about St. Clair to think about him in that other way. He needs the familiar right now, and El ie is familiar.

I’ve been thinking about the familiar, too. I miss Toph again. I miss his green eyes, and I miss those late nights at the theater when he’d make me laugh so hard I’d cry. Bridge says he asks about me, but I haven’t talked to him lately, because their band is so busy.Things are good for the Penny

Dreadfuls.They’ve final y scheduled their first gig. It’s just before Christmas, and I, Anna Oliphant, will be in attendance.

One month. I can hardly wait.

I should be seeing them next week, but Dad doesn’t think it’s worth the money to fly me home for such a short holiday, and Mom can’t afford it. So I’m

spending Thanksgiving here alone. Except . . . I’m not anymore.

I recal the news Mer dropped only minutes ago. St. Clair isn’t going home for Thanksgiving either. And everyone else, his girlfriend included, is

traveling back to the States. Which means the two of us will be here for the four-day weekend. Alone.

The thought distracts me all the way back to the dorm.

Chapter eighteen

Happy Thanksgiving to you! Happy Thanksgiving to yoouuu! Happy Thanks-giv-ing, St. Cla-airrr—”

His door jerks open, and he glares at me with heavy eyes. He’s wearing a plain white T-shirt and white pajama bottoms with blue stripes. “Stop.


“St. Clair! Fancy meeting you here!” I give him my biggest gap-toothed smile. “Did you know today is a holiday?”

He shuffles back into bed but leaves his door open. “I heard,” he says grumpily. I let myself in. His room is . . . messier than the first time I saw it. Dirty clothes and towels in heaps across the floor. Half-empty water bottles. The contents of his schoolbag spil from underneath his bed, crinkled papers and

blank worksheets. I take a hesitant sniff. Dank. It smel s dank.

“Love what you’ve done with the place. Very col ege-chic.”

“If you’re here to criticize, you can leave the way you came in,” he mumbles through his pil ow.

“Nah.You know how I feel about messes. They’re ripe with such possibility.”

He sighs, a long-suffering noise.

I move a stack of textbooks off his desk chair and several sketches fal from between the pages. They’re all charcoal drawings of anatomical hearts. I’ve only seen his doodles before, nothing serious. And while it’s true Josh is the better technical artist, these are beautiful. Violent. Passionate.

I pick them off the floor. “These are amazing. When did you make them?”


Delicately, I place the hearts back inside his government book, careful not to smudge them any more than they already are. “So. We’re celebrating

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