So what’s he gonna do? He’l send you to Berkeley to save face.”

St. Clair pauses. “It’s mad, but . . . it’s so mad it might work.”

“You don’t always have to solve your problems alone, you know.This is why people talk to their friends.” I smile and widen my eyes for emphasis.

He shakes his head, trying to speak.

“GO,” I say. “Quick, while she’s stil there!”

St. Clair hesitates again, and I push him up. “Go. Go go go!”

He rubs the back of his neck. “Thank you.”


He does.

Chapter forty-five


Ireturn to Résidence Lambert. I’m anxious to know what’s happening, but St. Clair has to deal with his father on his own. He has to stand up for himself.

The glass banana bead on my dresser snags my attention, and I cradle it in my hand. He’s given me so many gifts this year—the bead, the left-handed

notebook, the Canadian flag. It feels good to have final y given him something back. I hope my idea works.

I decide to pul out my homework. I’m flipping through my papers when I discover the assignment for English. Our last unit, poetry.The Neruda book. It

sits on the shelf above my desk in the same place it’s been since Thanksgiving. Because it was a schoolbook, right? Just another gift?

Wrong. So very, very wrong.

I mean, it is a schoolbook, but it’s also love poetry. Real y sexy love poetry. Why would he have given this to me if it didn’t mean anything? He could have given me the Banana Yoshimoto book. Or one of our translation textbooks.

But he bought me love poetry.

I flip back to the front, and the stamp stares at me. SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY, KILOMETER ZERO PARIS. And I’m back on the star, that first

night. Fal ing in love with him. And I’m back on the star, over Thanksgiving break. Fal ing in love with him. And I’m back in my room, staring at this il -timed book—Why didn’t he just tell me? Why didn’t I open this when he asked me about it last Christmas?—when I’m struck by a need to return to Point Zéro.

I only have a few weeks left in Paris, and I stil haven’t been inside of Notre-Dame. What am I doing in the dormitory on a Saturday afternoon? I yank on my shoes, run out of the building, and race down the boulevards at the speed of sound. I can’t get there fast enough. I have to be there. Now. I can’t explain it.

The eyes of the city are fastened to me as I shoot across the Seine and onto the Île de la Cité, but this time, I don’t care. The cathedral is as

breathtaking as ever. A crowd of tourists is gathered around Point Zéro, and I admire the star as I fly by, but I don’t wait for a turn, I just keep pushing pushing pushing forward until I’m inside.

Once again, Paris leaves me awed.

The high-vaulted ceiling, the intricate stained glass, the gold-and-marble statuary, the delicately carved woodwork . . . Notre-Dame is mesmerizing.

Organ music and the murmurs of many languages surround me. The warm scent of burning candles fil s the air. And I’ve never seen anything lovelier than

the jewel-colored light shining through the rose windows.

An enthusiastic tour guide passes behind me, waving his hands about. “Just imagine! In the early nineteenth century, this cathedral was in such a state

of disrepair that the city considered tearing it down. Luckily for us, Victor Hugo heard about the plans to destroy it and wrote The Hunchback of Notre-Dame to raise awareness of its glorious history. And, by gol y, did it work! Parisians campaigned to save it, and the building was repaired and polished to the pristine state you find today.”

I smile as I leave them, wondering what building my dad would try to save with his writing. Probably a basebal stadium. Or a Burger King. I examine the

high altar and the statues of the Virgin Mary. It’s peaceful, but I’m restless. I examine my visitor’s guide and my attention is snagged by the words Galerie des Chimères.

The chimera. The gargoyles. Of course!

I need to go up, I need to see the city while I stil can. The entrance to the towers—to the top of Notre-Dame—is to the left of the main doors. While I’m paying to get in, I swear I hear someone cal my name. I scan the courtyard but don’t see anyone familiar.

So I climb the stairs.

The first landing leads to a gift shop, so I keep going up. And up. And up. Oof. There sure are a lot of stairs. Holy crap, will these things ever end?



This is ridiculous. I’m never buying a house with stairs. I won’t even have steps to my front door, just a gradual incline. With each step, I loathe the

gargoyles more and more, until I reach the exit and—

I’m really high up. I fol ow the tight walkway that leads from the NorthTower to the South.There’s my neighborhood! And the Panthéon! Its massive dome is impressive, even from here, but the tourists around me are snapping pictures of the gargoyles.

No. Not gargoyles. Chimera.

St. Clair once told me that what most people think of when they hear the word “gargoyle” is real y a chimera. And gargoyles are these skinny things that

stick straight out and are used as rain gutters. I don’t remember the purpose of the chimeras. Were they protecting the cathedral? A warning to demons?

If he were here, he’d tell me the story again. I consider cal ing him, but he’s probably stil busy with his father. He doesn’t need me bothering him with vocabulary questions.

The Galerie des Chimères is pretty cool. The statues are half man and half beast, grotesque, fantastic creatures with beaks and wings and tails. My

favorite holds his head in his hands and sticks out his tongue, contemplating the city. Or maybe he’s just frustrated. Or sad. I check out the belfry. And it’s .

. . a big bel .

What am I doing here?

A guard waits beside another set of stairs. I take a deep breath. “Bonne soirée,” I say. He smiles and lets me pass. I squeeze inside. It’s a tight corkscrew, and the staircase grows narrower and narrower as I climb. The stone wal s are cold. For the first time here, I’m paranoid about fal ing. I’m glad I’m alone. If someone came down, someone even a little bigger than me, I don’t know how we’d pass each other. My heart beats faster, my ears prick for

footsteps, and I’m worried this was a mistake when—

Most Popular