The Selection (The Selection 1) - Page 29

Someone next to me made a disapproving sound. Oh. I realized that if I lost, I’d be the first person to officially get time one-on-one with the prince. Part of me wanted to renegotiate, but if I was going to be helpful—as I’d promised him—I couldn’t brush off his first attempts at trying to date.

“You drive a hard bargain, sir, but I accept.”

“Justin?” The butler he had spoken to earlier stepped forward. “Go make a parcel of strawberry tarts and send it to the lady’s family. Have someone wait while her sister tastes it, and let us know if she does, in fact, cry. I’m most curious about this.”

Justin nodded and was off.

“You should write a note to send with it, and tell your family you’re safe. In fact, you all should. After breakfast, write a letter to your families, and we’ll make sure they receive them today.”

Everyone smiled and sighed, happy to finally be included in the goings-on. We finished the rest of our breakfast and went to write our letters. Anne found me some stationery, and I wrote a quick letter to my family. Even though things had gotten off to a very awkward start, the last thing I wanted was for them to worry. I tried to sound breezy.

Dear Mom, Dad, May, and Gerad,

I miss you all so much already! The prince wanted us to write home and let our families know we were safe and well. I am both. The plane ride was a little scary, but it was fun in a way, too. The world looks so small from up so high!

They’ve given me lots of wonderful clothes and things, and I have three sweet maids who help me get dressed and clean for me and tell me where to go. So even if I get totally confused, they always know just where I’m supposed to be and help me get there on time.

The other girls are mostly shy, but I think I might have a friend. You remember Marlee from Kent? I met her on the way over to Angeles. She’s very bright and friendly. If I have to come home anytime soon, I’m hoping she makes it to the end.

I have met the prince. The king and queen, too. They’re even more regal in person. I haven’t spoken to them yet, but I did talk to Prince Maxon. He’s a surprisingly generous person… I think.

I have to go, but I love you and miss you, and I’ll write again as soon as I can.



I didn’t think there was anything shocking in there, but I could have been wrong. I was imagining May reading it over and over again, finding hidden details about my life in the words. I wondered if she’d read this before she ate the pastries.

P.S. May, don’t these strawberry tarts just make you want to cry?

There. That was the best I could do.

Apparently, it wasn’t good enough. A butler knocked on my door that evening with an envelope from my family and an update.

“She didn’t cry, miss. She said they were so good she could have—as you suggested—but she did not actually cry. His Majesty will come and get you from your room around five tomorrow. Please be ready.”

I wasn’t so upset about losing, but I seriously would have enjoyed the pants. At least, if I couldn’t have that, I had letters. I realized that this was the first time I’d been parted from my family for more than a few hours. We weren’t wealthy enough to go on trips, and since I didn’t really have friends growing up, I’d never even spent the night away. If only there was a way I could get letters every day. I supposed it could be done, but it would have to be so expensive.

I read Dad’s first. He went on and on about how beautiful I looked on TV and how proud he was of me. He said I shouldn’t have sent three boxes of tarts, because May was going to get spoiled. Three boxes! For goodness’ sake.

He went on to say that Aspen had been at the house helping with paperwork, so he’d taken a box home to his family. I didn’t know how to feel about that. On the one hand, I was glad they would have something so decadent to eat. On the other, I just imagined him sharing some with his new girlfriend. Someone he could spoil. I wondered if he was jealous of Maxon’s gift, or if he was glad to be rid of my attention.

I lingered on those lines much longer than I meant to.

Dad closed by saying he was pleased I’d made a friend. Said I always was slow in that department. I folded the letter up and ran my finger over his signature on the outside. I’d never noticed how funny he signed his name before.

Gerad’s letter was short and to the point. He missed me, he loved me, and please send more food. I laughed out loud at that.

Mom was bossy. Even in print I could hear her tone, smugly congratulating me on already earning the prince’s affections—she had been informed that I was the only one to get gifts to send home—and telling me firmly to keep up whatever I was doing.

Yeah, Mom, I’ll just keep telling the prince that he has absolutely no shot with me and offend him as often as I can. Great plan.

I was glad I’d saved May’s for last.

Her letter was absolutely giddy. She admitted how jealous she was that I was eating like that all the time. She also complained that Mom was bossing her around more. I knew how that felt. The rest was a barrage of questions. Was Maxon as cute in person as he was on TV? What was I wearing now? Could she come and visit the palace? Did Maxon have a secret brother who would be willing to marry her one day?

I giggled and embraced my collection of letters. I’d have to make the effort to write back soon. There had to be a telephone around here somewhere, but so far no one had made us aware of it. Even if I had one in my room, it would probably be overkill to call home daily. Besides, these letters would be fun to hold on to. Proof I’d really been here when this whole place would be a memory.

I went to bed with the comforting knowledge that my family was doing well, and that warmth lulled me into a sound sleep that was only hitched by a twinge of nerves at being alone with Maxon again. I couldn’t quite pin down the reason, but I hoped it was all for nothing.

“For the sake of appearances, would you please take my arm?” Maxon asked as he escorted me from my room the next day. I was a little hesitant, but I did.

My maids had already put me in my evening dress: a little blue thing with an empire waist and capped sleeves. My arms were bare, and I could feel the starched fabric of Maxon’s suit against my skin. Something about it all made me uncomfortable. He must have noticed, because he tried to distract me.

“I’m sorry she didn’t cry,” he said.

“No you’re not.” My joking tone made it clear I wasn’t too upset about losing.

Tags: Kiera Cass The Selection Science Fiction
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