The Selection (The Selection 1) - Page 46

“Maybe she said something about the country? Like the policies or something?”

Bariel sucked her teeth. “Please. How boring must that date have been for them to start talking policy? Has anyone in here actually talked to Maxon about anything related to running the country?”

No one answered.

“Of course you haven’t,” Bariel said. “Maxon’s not looking for a coworker, he’s looking for a wife.”

“Don’t you think you’re underestimating him?” Kriss objected. “Don’t you think Maxon wants someone with ideas and opinions?”

Celeste threw her head back and laughed. “Maxon can run the country just fine. He’s trained for it. Besides, he has teams of people to help him make decisions, so why would he want someone else trying to tell him what to do? If I were you, I’d start learning how to be quiet. At least until he marries you.”

Bariel sidled up beside Celeste. “Which he won’t.”

“Exactly,” Celeste said with a smile. “Why would Maxon bother with some brainiac Three when he could have a Two?”

“Hey!” Tuesday cried. “Maxon doesn’t care about numbers.”

“Of course he does,” Celeste replied in a tone someone would use with a child. “Why do you think everyone below a Four is gone?”

“Still here,” I said, raising my hand. “So if you think you’ve got him figured out, you’re wrong.”

“Oh, it’s the girl who doesn’t know when to shut up,” Celeste said in mock amusement.

I balled my fist, trying to decide if it would be worth hitting her. Was that part of her plan? But before I could move at all, Silvia burst through the door.

“Mail, ladies!” she called out, and the tension in the room flew away.

We all stopped, eager to get our hands on what Silvia was carrying. We’d been at the palace nearly two weeks now, and with the exception of hearing from our families on the second day, this was our first real contact from home.

“Let’s see,” Silvia said, looking through stacks of letters, completely oblivious to the almost-argument that had taken place not seconds ago. “Lady Tiny?” she called as she looked around the room.

Tiny raised her hand and walked forward. “Lady Elizabeth? Lady America?”

I practically ran forward and snatched the letter out of her hand. I was so hungry for words from my family. As soon as it was in my clutches, I retreated to a corner for a few moments to myself.

Dear America,

I can’t wait for Friday to come. I can’t believe you’re going to get to talk to Gavril Fadaye! You have all the luck.

I certainly didn’t feel lucky. Tomorrow night we were all getting grilled by Gavril, and I had no idea what he would ask us. I felt sure I’d make an idiot out of myself.

It’ll be nice to hear your voice again. I miss you singing around the house. Mom doesn’t do it, and it’s been so quiet since you left. Will you wave to me on the show?

How’s the competition going? Do you have lots of friends there? Have you talked to any of the girls who left? Mom is saying all the time now that it’s not a big deal if you lose anymore. Half those girls who went home are already engaged to the sons of mayors or celebrities. She says someone will take you if Maxon doesn’t. Gerad is hoping you marry a basketball player instead of a boring old prince. But I don’t care what anybody says. Maxon is so gorgeous!

Have you kissed him yet?

Kissed him? We’d only just met. And there’d be no reason for Maxon to kiss me anyway.

I bet he’s the best kisser in the universe. I think if you’re a prince, you have to be!

I have so much more to tell you, but Mom wants me to go paint. Write me a real letter soon. A long one! With lots and lots of details!

I love you! We all do.

May

So the eliminated girls were already getting snatched up by wealthy men. I didn’t realize being the castoff of a future king made you a commodity. I walked around the perimeter of the room, thinking over May’s words.

I wanted to know what was going on. I wondered what had really happened with Janelle and was curious if Maxon had another date tonight. I really wanted to see him.

My mind was racing, searching for a way to simply speak to him. As I thought, I stared at the paper in my hands.

The second page of May’s letter was almost completely blank. I tore off a piece of it as I wandered. Some girls were still buried in pages of letters from their families, and others were sharing news. After a lap I stopped by the Women’s Room guest book and picked up the pen.

I scribbled quickly on my scrap of paper.

Your Majesty—

Tugging my ear. Whenever.

I walked outside the room as if I were simply going to the bathroom and looked up and down the hall. It was empty. I stood there, waiting, until a maid rounded the corner with a tray of tea in her hands.

“Excuse me?” I called to her quietly. Voices carried in these great halls.

The girl curtsied in front of me. “Yes, miss?”

“Would you happen to be going to the prince with that?”

She smiled. “Yes, miss.”

“Could you please take this to him for me?” I held out my little folded-up note.

“Of course, miss!”

She took it eagerly and walked away with a newfound energy. No doubt she would unfold it as soon as she was out of sight, but I felt secure in its odd phrasing.

These hallways were captivating, each one more ornate than my entire house. The wallpaper, the gilt mirrors, the giant vases of fresh flowers all so beautiful. The carpets were lavish and immaculate, the windows were sparkling, and the paintings on the walls were lovely.

There were some paintings by artists I knew—van Gogh, Picasso—and some I didn’t. There were photographs of buildings I had seen before. There was one of the legendary White House. Compared to the pictures and what I’d read in my old history book, the palace dwarfed it in size and luxury, but I still wished it was around to see.

I walked farther down the hall and came upon a portrait of the royal family. It looked old; Maxon was shorter than his mother in this picture. He towered over her now.

In the time I’d been at the palace, I had only ever seen them together at dinners and the Illéa Capital Report airing. Were they very private? Did they not like all these strange young girls in their house? Were they only all here because of blood and duty? I didn’t know what to make of this invisible family.

“America?”

Tags: Kiera Cass The Selection Science Fiction
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