I stay in bed for as long as possible, but eventual y my bladder wins. When I come back from the bathroom, he’s looking out my window. He turns

around and laughs. “Your hair. It’s sticking up in all different directions.” St. Clair pronounces it die-rections and il ustrates his point by poking his fingers up around his head like antlers.

“You’re one to speak.”

“Ah, but it looks purposeful on me.Took me ages to realize the best way to get that mussed look was to ignore it completely.”

“So you’re saying it looks like crap on me?” I glance in the mirror, and I’m alarmed to discover I do resemble a horned beast.

“No. I like it.” He grins and picks his belt up off the floor. “Breakfast?”

I hand him his boots. “It’s noon.”

“Thanks. Lunch?”

“Lemme shower first.”

We part for an hour and meet back in his room. His door is propped open, and French punk rock is blaring down his hal . I’m shocked when I step


inside and discover he’s straightened up. The heaps of clothing and towels have been organized for laundry purposes, and the empty bottles and chip

bags have been thrown out.

He looks at me hopeful y. “It’s a start.”

“It looks great.” And it does look better. I smile.

We spend the day walking around again. We catch part of a Danny Boyle film festival and take another strol beside the Seine. I teach him how to skip

stones; I can’t believe he doesn’t know how. It starts drizzling, so we pop into a bookshop across from Notre-Dame. The yel ow-and-green sign reads


Inside, we’re struck by chaos. A horde of customers crowds the desk, and everywhere I turn there are books, books, and more books. But it’s not like a

chain, where everything is neatly organized on shelves and tables and end caps. Here books totter in wobbly stacks, fal from the seats of chairs, and spil from sagging shelves. There are cardboard boxes overflowing with books, and a black cat naps beside a pile on the stairs. But the most astonishing thing

is that all of the books are in English.

St. Clair notices my awed expression. “You’ve never been here before?”

I shake my head, and he’s surprised. “It’s quite famous. Hey, look—” He holds up a copy of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. “This is

familiar, eh?”

I wander in a daze, half thril ed to be surrounded by my own language, half terrified to disturb anything. One wrong touch might break the entire store. It could col apse, and we’d be buried in an avalanche of yel owed pages.

The rain patters against the windows. I push my way through a group of tourists and examine the fiction section. I don’t know why I’m looking for him, but I can’t help it. I work backward. Christie, Cather, Caldwel , Burroughs, Brontë, Berry, Baldwin, Auster, Austen. Ashley. James Ashley.

A line of my father’s books. Six of them. I pul a hardcover copy of The Incident from the shelf, and I cringe at the familiar sunset on the cover.

“What’s that?” St. Clair asks. I startle. I didn’t realize he was standing beside me.

He takes the novel from me, and his eyes widen with recognition. He flips it over, and Dad’s author photo grins back at us. My father is overly tan, and

his teeth gleam fake white. He’s wearing a lavender polo shirt, and his hair blows gently in the wind.

St. Clair raises his eyebrows. “I don’t see the relation. He’s much better looking.”

I sputter with nervousness, and he taps my arm with the book. “It’s worse than I thought.” He laughs. “Does he always look like this?”


He flips it open and reads the jacket. I watch his face anxiously. His expression grows puzzled. I see him stop and go back to read something again. St.

Clair looks up at me. “It’s about cancer,” he says.

Oh. My. God.

“This woman has cancer. What happens to her?”

I can’t swal ow. “My father is an idiot. I’ve told you, he’s a complete jackass.”

An excruciating pause. “He sel s a lot of these, does he?”

I nod.

“And people enjoy this? They find it entertaining, do they?”

“I’m sorry, St. Clair.” Tears are well ing in my eyes. I’ve never hated my father as much as I do right now. How could he? How dare he make money off

something so horrible? St. Clair shuts the book and shoves it back on the shelf. He picks up another, The Entrance. The leukemia novel. My father wears a dress shirt with the first few buttons casual y undone. His arms are crossed, but he has that same ridiculous grin.

“He’s a freak,” I say. “A total ... goinky freak.”

St. Clair snorts. He opens his mouth to say something, but then sees me crying. “No, Anna. Anna, I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry. You shouldn’t have seen this.” I snatch the book and thrust it back onto the shelf. Another stack of novels tumbles off and crashes to the floor between us. We drop to pick them up and bash heads.

“Ow!” I say.

St. Clair rubs his head. “Are you all right?”

I wrench the books from his hands. “I’m fine. Just fine.” I pile them back on the bookcase and stumble to the back of the store, as far from him, as far

from my father, as possible. But a few minutes later, St. Clair is back at my side.

“It’s not your fault,” he says quietly. “You don’t pick your parents. I know that as well as anyone, Anna.”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Fair enough.” He holds up a col ection of poetry. Pablo Neruda. “Have you read this?”

I shake my head.

“Good. Because I just bought it for you.”


“It’s on our syl abus for next semester in English.You’d need to buy it anyway. Open it up,” he says.

Confused, I do. There’s a stamp on the front page. SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY, Kilometer Zero Paris. I blink. “Kilometer Zero? Is that the same

thing as Point Zéro?” I think about our first walk around the city together.

“For old times’ sake.” St. Clair smiles. “Come on, the rain’s stopped. Let’s get out of here.”

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