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uliette sat up in the pine tree, far above their heads, holding very very still. She could see and hear them perfectly. If she wanted to, if she dared to, she could have pissed on their heads.

“Where’s that little cunt gone to?”

It was the guy speaking, his disgusting gut hanging over his pants. Any Frenchman who found himself in that kind of shape would jump into the Seine from pure shame.

“I think I seen her go down there,” the woman said, jutting her chin downhill.

I seen: Even Juliette knew that wasn’t right. It was nearly beneath her dignity to escape from these two morons.

“She ain’t down there,” the guy said scornfully, stroking the gun he held as he looked around. “I have the feeling she’s still right around here somewhere.”

Juliette held her breath. Please God, if you just get me back to Paris, I’ll give you anything, she thought. I’ll become a nun. Or at least go to church every week, for real.

The woman looked around too, but without much interest. “What difference does it make?” she said. “I gotta go to sleep.”

With that, the guy reached out with his gun hand and shoved her. “What difference does it make? She’s seen us. She knows where we are. If we let her go, she’ll run right out of here and tell the cops we’re here.”

“She’s just a kid fooling around. Plus we sleep a few hours, take off anyway. Nobody’s gonna find nothing.”

“You don’t know who she is or what she’s up to. This all could be a trap. Hell, she could be the police herself.”

Juliette felt a giggle escape with that, which was luckily covered over by a hoot of laughter from the woman.

“If that little twat’s the police, I’m fucking Michelle Obama,” she said. “Come on, baby. Let’s go back to bed.”

And then they actually started walking away.

Juliette knew she should just continue to hold still until they were out of sight and out of earshot, but she was seized by an overwhelming desire to do something, anything, to tease them. Throw one of the rocks still in her pockets. Make a bird call. And she didn’t even have the excuse of protecting Darrell anymore.

If this was a movie, she could do something like that, something outrageous, anything she wanted, really, and she’d be safe. They’d never let a cute young girl like her get killed by two such stupid and ugly, not to mention fat, people.

If she was Vanessa Paradis, or Amelie, she could sing a funny song, or pretend to be a bird flapping its wings, and it would be charming and would make everyone love her more. It would make her mother realize she didn’t belong in this terrible place, and make her father come to take her, to take both of them, back to Paris, where she and Hugo would be together again and everything would be like it was before.

Don’t do it, she told herself. Be still. Don’t say or do anything.

But instead, she heard the little voice come from her mouth, high and sweet as the young Vanessa’s.

“Joe Le Taxi,” she sang, very softly, not even really loudly enough for them to hear.

“What was that?” the woman said.

“What?” said the man, raising the gun.

“I thought I heard something.”

And with that, they started walking in her direction again.

Read Juliette’s side of the story.

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