“Josh and I practical y carried you home. You should be thanking me.”

“Thanks.” I am so not in the mood for Rashmi right now. “Is Étienne okay?”

“Haven’t seen him. He went to El ie’s last night.”

Just when I thought I couldn’t feel any worse. I twist the corners of my pil ow. “Did I, uh, say anything weird to him last night?”

“Apart from acting like a jealous girlfriend and saying you never wanted to speak to him again? No. Nothing weird at all.” I moan as she recounts the

night for me blow by blow. “Listen,” she says when she finishes, “what’s the deal with you two?”

“What do you mean?”

“You know what I mean.You two are inseparable.”

“Except when he’s with his girlfriend.”

“Right. So what’s the deal?”


I groan again. “I don’t know.”

“Have you guys . . . you know . . . done anything?”


“But you like him. And he likes you, too.”

I stop choking my pil ow. “You think?”

“Please. The boy gets a boner every time you walk in the room.”

My eyes pop back open. Does she mean that figuratively or has she actual y seen something? No. Focus, Anna. “So why—”

“Why is he stil with El ie? He told you last night. He’s lonely, or at least he’s scared of being lonely. Josh says with all of this stuff with his mom, he’s been too freaked out to change anything else in his life.”

So Meredith was right. Étienne is afraid of change. Why haven’t I talked about this with Rashmi before? It seems obvious now. Of course she has

inside information, because Étienne talks to Josh, and Josh talks to Rashmi.

“You real y think he likes me?” I can’t help it.

She sighs. “Anna. He teases you all the time. It’s classic boy-pul ing-girl’s-pigtail syndrome. And whenever anyone else even remotely does it, he

always takes your side and tell s them to shove it.”


She pauses. “You real y like him, don’t you?”

I’m struggling not to cry. “No. It’s not like that.”

“Liar. So are you getting up today or what? You need sustenance.”

I agree to meet her in the cafeteria in half an hour, but I have no idea why, because the moment I’m out of bed, I want to crawl back in. I’m nauseous, and my head feels like someone smacked it with a Wiffle bal bat. And speaking of whiffs, that’s when I catch a smel of myself. My pores are boozy and sour.

My hair reeks of stale cigarettes. And my clothes. Oh, gross. I run to my sink, dry-heaving.

And that’s when I discover last night’s vomit. And I puke for real. Again.

In the shower, I find weird bruises on my legs and feet. I have no idea what they’re from. I slump in my tiny tiled corner and let the hot water run. And run.

And run. I’m twenty minutes late for breakfast. Lunch. Whatever it is. Paris is blanketed in several inches of snow.When did that happen? How could I

sleep through the first snowfal ? The white glare makes me shade my eyes.

Thankful y, Rashmi is alone at our table when I stumble in. I couldn’t face anyone else right now. “Morning, sunshine.” She smirks at my wet hair and

puffy eyes.

“What I don’t understand is how people actual y think drinking is fun.”

“You were having fun when you were dancing last night.”

“Too bad I can’t remember.”

Rashmi slides a plate of dry toast toward me. “Eat this. And drink some water, but not too much. You might throw up again.”

“I already did.”

“Wel .You’re off to a good start.”

“Where’s Josh?” I take a smal bite of toast. Yuck. I’m not hungry.

“You’l feel better if you eat it.” She nods at my plate. “He’s stil asleep. We don’t spend every minute together, you know.”

“Yeah. Right. That’s why you and I hang out all the time.”


Rashmi’s brown skin reddens. “I know this’l be a shock to you, Anna, but you aren’t the only one with problems. Josh and I aren’t exactly on the best of terms right now.”

I slink down in my seat. “I’m sorry.”

She fiddles with her juice lid. “Whatever.”

“So . . . what’s going on?” It takes a minute of prodding, but once she starts, it’s as if a dam has burst. It turns out they’re fighting more often than I’d thought. Over Josh skipping school. Over her pushing him. She thinks he’s upset because she’s leaving next year, and he’s not.We’re all leaving for

col ege, and he’s not.

I hadn’t thought of that before.

And she’s upset about her younger sister, Sanjita, who’s hanging out with Amanda’s crowd, and worried about her brother, Nikhil, who’s getting bul ied,

and angry with her parents, who won’t stop comparing her to her older sister, Leela, who was the School of America’s valedictorian two years ago. And

Mer is always too busy with soccer to hang out, and Étienne and I are always buddy-buddy, and . . . she lost her best friend.

El ie stil hasn’t cal ed her.

And the whole time she’s spil ing her guts, I feel so ashamed. I never realized she didn’t have anyone to talk with. I mean, I know El ie was her best

friend, and she wasn’t around anymore, but somehow I forgot that meant Rashmi didn’t have anyone else. Or maybe I assumed Josh was enough.

“But we’l work through it,” she says about him. She’s trying not to cry. “We always do. It’s just hard.” I hand her a napkin, and she blows her nose.


“Of course. Thanks for the toast.”

She gives me half a smile, but it disappears as she notices something behind me. I turn in my seat to fol ow her gaze.

And there he is.

His hair is completely disheveled, and he’s wearing his Napoleon shirt, which is more wrinkled than ever. He shuffles toward Monsieur Boutin with a

plate of . . . dry toast. It looks like he hasn’t slept in a week. And he’s stil beautiful. My heart shatters. “What do I say? What am I supposed to say to him?”

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