St. Clair snorts. “Give the lad a medal for his bril iant skil s in detection.”

My friends smirk. I’m embarrassed again, for both Dave and myself. But Dave doesn’t even look at St. Clair, he just keeps grinning. “Wel , I saw the

laptop, and I saw the cute frown that means she’s concentrating so hard, and I put two and two together—”

“NO,” I tell St. Clair, who opens his mouth to say something else. He shuts it, surprised.

“Wanna come upstairs?” Dave asks. “We’re gonna chil in my room for a while.”

I probably should. He is sort of my boyfriend. Plus, I’m annoyed with St. Clair. His hostile stare only makes me more determined. “Sure.”

Dave whoops and pul s me to my feet. He trips over St. Clair’s textbook, and St. Clair looks ready to commit murder. “It’s just a book,” I say.

He scowls in disgust.

Dave takes me to the fifth floor. St. Clair’s floor. I forgot they were neighbors. His room turns out to be the most . . . American place I’ve seen in

Paris.The wal s are covered in tacky posters—99 BOTTLES OF BEER ON THE WALL, Reefer Madness, a woman with huge boobs in a white bikini.


Her cle**age is covered with sand, and she’s pouting as if to say: Can you believe this? Sand! At the beach!

The girls pile onto Dave’s unmade bed. Mike hurls himself on top of them, and they squeal and bat at him. I hover in the doorway until Dave pul s me

inside and onto his lap. We sit on his desk chair. Another guy comes in. Paul? Pete? Something like that. One of the juniors, a girl with dark hair and tight jeans, stretches in a move designed to show off her bel y button ring to Paul/Pete. Oh, please.

The party divides and people make out. Emily doesn’t have a partner, so she leaves, but not before shooting me another bitchy look. Dave’s tongue is

in my mouth, but I can’t relax, because he’s slobbering tonight. His hand creeps underneath my shirt and rests against the smal of my back. I glance down at his other hand and realize they aren’t much bigger than mine. He has little-boy hands.

“I need to take a leak.” Mike Reynard stands, knocking tonight’s date to the floor. I expect him to exit the room, but, instead, he does the unforgivable.

He unzips his pants—right there in front of all of us—and pees in Dave’s shower.

And no one says anything.

“Aren’t you going to stop him?”

But Dave doesn’t reply to my question. His head has fal en back, and his mouth is open. Is he asleep?

“Everyone pisses in the showers.” Mike curls his lip at me. “What, you wait in line for the bathroom?”

I fight revulsion as I fly down the stairs to my floor. What was I thinking? I could’ve just contracted any number of life-threatening diseases. There’s no way Dave has EVER cleaned his room. I think back to St. Clair’s tidy, pleasant space, and I’m jealous of El ie in an entirely new way. St. Clair would never

hang up a poster of beer bottles or hold house parties in his room or use his shower as a toilet.

How did I end up with Dave? It was never a decision, it just happened. Was I only with him because I’m mad at St. Clair? The thought strikes a nerve.

Now I feel ashamed as well as stupid. I reach for my necklace, and a new panic sets in.

Key. I don’t have my key.

Where did I leave it? I curse, because there’s no way I’m going back to Dave’s room. Maybe it’s downstairs. Or maybe I never grabbed it in the first

place. Does this mean I have go to the front desk? Except—I swear again—they’re striking. Which means I have to go to Nate’s, which means I have to

wake him up in middle of the night. Which means he’l get mad at me.

Mer’s door flies open. It’s St. Clair.

“Night,” he says, clicking her door shut. She cal s good night back. He glares at me, and I flinch. He knew I was out here.

“You and Higgenbaum have a nice time?” He sneers.

I don’t want to talk about Dave. I want to find my freaking room key, and I want St. Clair to go away. “Yes. Great. Thank you.”

St. Clair blinks. “You’re crying. That’s the second time tonight.” A new edge to his voice. “Did he hurt you?”

I wipe my eyes. “What?”

“I’l KILL that bloody—”

He’s already halfway to the stairs before I can yank him back. “No!” St. Clair looks at my hand on his arm, and I hastily remove it. “I’m locked out. I’m just upset because I lost my stupid key.”


We stand there for a moment, unsure of what to do with ourselves. “I’m going downstairs.” I avoid his gaze. “Maybe I left it there.”

St. Clair fol ows me, and I’m too exhausted to argue. His boots echo in the empty stairwel . Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. The lobby is dark and empty. The March wind rattles the glass on the front door. He fumbles around and switches on a light. It’s a Tiffany lamp, red dragonflies with bulbous turquoise eyes. I start lifting couch cushions.

“But you were on the floor the whole time,” he says. I think back, and he’s right. He points to a chair. “Help me lift this. Maybe it was kicked under here.”

We move it aside. No key.

“Could you have left it upstairs?” He’s uncomfortable, so I know he means at Dave’s.

“I don’t know. I’m so tired.”

“Shal we check?” He hesitates. “Or . . . shal I check?”

I shake my head no, and I’m relieved when he doesn’t press me.

He looks relieved, too. “Nate?”

“I don’t want to wake him.”

St. Clair bites his thumbnail. He’s nervous. “You could sleep in my room. I’l sleep on the floor, you can have my bed. We don’t have to, er, sleep

together. Again. If you don’t want to.”

That’s only the second time, apart from one of his emails at Christmas, either of us has mentioned that weekend. I’m stunned. The temptation makes

my entire body ache with longing, but it’s one hundred different kinds of a bad idea. “No. I’d—I’d better get it over with now. Because I’d stil have to see Nate in the morning, and then I’d have to explain about . . . about being in your room.”

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