He raises an eyebrow.

“I mean, there are tombs and monuments everywhere here. What’s different about this one?” We climb the steps, and the ful height of the approaching

columns is overwhelming. I’ve never been this close.

“I don’t know. Nothing, I suppose. It’s a bit second rate, anyway.”

“Second rate? You’ve gotta be kidding.” Now I’m offended. I like the Panthéon. No, I LOVE the Panthéon. “Who’s buried here?” I demand.

“Er. Rousseau, Marie Curie, Louis Brail e, Victor Hugo—”

“The Hunchback of Notre-Dame guy?”

“The very one. Voltaire. Dumas. Zola.”

“Wow. See? You can’t say that’s not impressive.” I recognize the names, even if I don’t know what they all did.

“I didn’t.” He reaches for his wal et and pays our admission charge. I try to get it—since it was my idea in the first place—but he insists. “Happy


Thanksgiving,” he says, handing me my ticket. “Let’s see some dead people.”

We’re greeted by an unimaginable number of domes and columns and arches. Everything is huge and round. Enormous frescoes of saints, warriors,

and angels are painted across the wal s. We strol across the marble in awed silence, except for when he points out someone important like Joan of Arc

or Saint Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. According to him, Saint Geneviève saved the city from famine. I think she was a real person, but I’m too shy to ask. When I’m with him, I’m always aware of how much I don’t know.

A swinging brass sphere hangs from the highest point in the center dome. Okay, now I can’t help it. “What’s that?”

St. Clair shrugs and looks around for a sign.

“I’m shocked. I thought you knew everything.”

He finds one. “Foucault’s pendulum. Oh. Sure.” He looks up in admiration.

The sign is written in French, so I wait for his explanation. It doesn’t come. “Yes?”

St. Clair points at the ring of measurements on the floor. “It’s a demonstration of the earth’s rotation. See? The plane of the pendulum’s swing rotates

every hour. You know, it’s funny,” he says, looking all the way up at the ceiling, “but the experiment didn’t have to be this big to prove his point.”

“How French.”

He smiles. “Come on, let’s see the crypt.”

“Crypt?” I freeze. “Like, a crypt crypt?”

“Where’d you think the dead bodies were?”

I cough. “Right. Sure. The crypt. Let’s go.”

“Unless you’re scared.”

“I didn’t have a problem at the cemetery, did I?” He stiffens, and I’m mortified. I can’t believe I brought up Père-Lachaise. Distraction. Quick, I need a distraction! I blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. “Race you!” And I run toward the closest crypt entrance. My pounding feet echo throughout the building, and the tourists are all staring.

I. Am. Going. To. Die. Of. Embarrassment.

And then—he shoots past me. I laugh in surprise and pick up speed. We’re neck and neck, almost there, when an angry guard leaps in front of us. I trip

over St. Clair trying to stop. He steadies me as the guard shouts at us in French. My cheeks redden, but before I can try to apologize, St. Clair does it for us. The guard softens and lets us go after a minute of gentle scolding.

It is like Père-Lachaise again. St. Clair is practical y strutting.

“You get away with everything.”

He laughs. He doesn’t argue, because he knows it’s true. But his mood changes the moment the stairs come into view. The spiral staircase down to the

crypt is steep and narrow. My irritation is replaced by worry when I see the terror in his eyes. I’d forgotten about his fear of heights.

“You know . . . I don’t real y wanna see the crypt,” I say.

St. Clair shoots me a look, and I shut my mouth. Determined, he grips the rough stone wal and moves slowly downward. Step. Step. Step. It’s not a long staircase, but the process is excruciating. At last we reach the bottom, and an impatient herd of tourists stampedes out behind us. I start to apologize—it was so stupid to bring him here—but he talks over me. “It’s bigger than I thought. The crypt.” His voice is strained and rushed. He won’t look at me.

Deflection. Okay. I take his cue. “You know,” I say careful y, “I just heard someone say that the crypt covers the entire area underneath the building. I was picturing endless catacombs decorated with bones, but this isn’t so bad.”

“No skul s or femurs, at least.” A fake laugh.

In fact, the crypt is well lit. It’s freezing down here, but it’s also clean and sparse and white. Not exactly a dungeon. But St. Clair is stil agitated and embarrassed. I lunge toward a statue. “Hey, look! Is that Voltaire?”

We move on through the hal ways. I’m surprised by how bare everything is.There’s a lot of empty space, room for future tombs. After exploring for a

while, St. Clair relaxes again, and we talk about little things, like the test last week in calculus and the peculiar leather jacket Steve Carver has been wearing lately.We haven’t had a normal conversation in weeks. It almost feels like it did . . . before. And then we hear a grating American voice behind us.

“Don’t walk behind him.We’l be stuck here all day.”

St. Clair tenses.

“He shoulda stayed home if he was so afraid of a couple stairs.”

I start to spin around, but St. Clair grips my arm. “Don’t. He’s not worth it.” He steers me into the next hal way, and I’m trying to read a name chiseled into the wal , but I’m so furious that I’m seeing spots. St. Clair is rigid. I have to do something.

I squint at the name until it comes into focus. “Emily Zola. That’s only the second woman I’ve seen down here. What’s up with that?”

But before St. Clair can answer, the grating voice says, “It’s Émile.” We turn around to find a smug guy in a Euro Disney sweatshirt. “Émile Zola is a man.”

My face burns. I reach for St. Clair’s arm to pul us away again, but St. Clair is already in his face. “Émile Zola was a man,” he corrects. “And you’re an

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