By: Sara Wolf

If I was braver, I would’ve stormed up to the stage and grabbed Lee, punched Kiera, and never looked back. But I’m not brave. How could I be, when I saw how Lee looked at her? He looked so sincere, so happy. I couldn’t ruin that, even if it ruined me.

I shouldn’t think about him. I’m on my way to France, to have fun and try to put everything behind me. No studying. No thinking about aching wounds. Just lots of good food and sleep and seeing museums and shops and parks. Grace talked about ‘French boys’, but I can’t think about boys without thinking about Lee, his lips, his voice. It’s impossible for me to even consider dating, or even hooking up, at this point.

When the plane finally lands, I feel horribly groggy and probably look worse, but Grace just smiles when she sees me come out of the gate. It’s a brilliant smile – I don’t realize until that moment how much I missed seeing her and her stunning beauty. Her hair’s in a loose ponytail and she’s wearing a cheap sundress, but she makes it look worth hundreds. She’s skinnier than I remember, but her hug is strong.

“You look great,” I try to match her smile. She takes one of my bags.

“So do you! Who told you to get prettier while I was gone?”

“I’m not really that –”

“Oh spare me your crippling modesty for one day, please,” She huffs. “You’re adorable. Just wait until you see the things French water can do for your skin. And the air is so clean up there you won’t believe it – much better than L.A’s smog.”

The airport doesn’t look any different than the ones back home, except the signs are in French, and there’s a Starbucks every two feet, and everyone seems to move exceptionally fast – like they have some place to be. Grace pulls my suitcase and I take the bags, and she ushers me into a black SUV with a driver. She says something in French and we drive through tunnels and narrow roads, Grace pointing out each shop and café like she knows them intimately.

“That’s right,” I say. “Lee said –”

Grace watches me carefully. I haven’t said his name out loud in front of her for a while. Or anyone, for that matter. This is a vacation. Vacation. No more thinking about sad things. He wouldn’t want you to be sad, Rose. I shake my head and force a smile.

“You spent time here in Paris, right? When you were younger.”

Her dark eyes soften. “Yes. My first year with my agency, they sent me here. I like L.A the most, but Paris is a close second. They’re very alike in strange, unexpected ways.”

“How so?”

“The people are pushy in the same way. And the boys are the same,” She winks. “Very cute but very stupid.”

I laugh and cut off when Grace frantically leans over me to roll down my window.

“Look! Over there!”

My mouth nearly falls open – the Eiffel Tower is on our left. I scrabble for my phone and take a picture to send back to Mom and Dad and Riley. Grace asks the driver to pull over and grabs my hand.

“C’mon! Let’s take some close-ups.”

There’s a large swathe of grass in front of the tower, where couples and other tourists gather. Grace laughs as I strike silly poses and pretend to squish the tower with my fingers. Even her silly poses look model-esque, and her smile is to die for. Grace asks a passing woman to take a picture of us in front of the tower. We huddle close and give our best smiles.

I send the picture to Jen, who texts me back.

‘Try not to hog all the French boys to yourself, hot stuff. And tell Grace to eat more.’

Grace rolls her eyes when I show her. “I’m eating just fine. It’s all the exercise – we have to trek out in the snow at five in the morning for some of the shoots.”

As we get back in the car, I work up the courage to ask; “How are you two doing? Um, romance-wise?”

“As well as we can be when I’m six thousand miles away from her. She gets paranoid whenever I go to Europe. She thinks some European girl will sweep me off my feet and I’ll leave her.”

“Aren’t you a European girl?”

Grace’s eyes flash with amusement. “Good point. I suppose it’ll be me doing the seducing.” She motions around us to the tourists. “Which naïve American girl should I corrupt first?”

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