Home > The Elite (The Selection #2)(8)

The Elite (The Selection #2)(8)
Author: Kiera Cass


His words were cut off by me barreling into his arms. I was so elated by the possibility of seeing May and my parents, I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm. He wrapped his arms around my waist and stared into my eyes, his own glittering with delight. How did this person—someone I’d imagined would be my polar opposite—always seem to find the things that would make me the happiest?

“Do you mean it? Can they really come?”

“Of course,” he answered. “I’ve been longing to meet them, and it’s part of the competition. Anyway, I think it would do all of you good to see your families.”

Once I was sure I wouldn’t cry, I whispered back, “Thank you.”

“You’re quite welcome …. I know you love them.”

“I do.”

He chuckled. “And it’s clear you’d do practically anything for them. After all, you stayed in the Selection for them.”

I jerked back, putting space between us so I could see his eyes. There was no judgment there, only shock at my abrupt movement. I couldn’t let this pass though. I had to be absolutely clear.

“Maxon, they were part of the reason I stayed in the beginning, but they’re not why I’m here now. You know that, right? I’m here because …”

“Because?”

I looked at Maxon, his adoring face so hopeful. Say it, America. Just tell him.

“Because?” he asked again, this time with an impish smile coming to his lips, which made me soften even more.

I thought about my conversation with Marlee and the way I’d felt the other day when we talked about the Selection. It was hard to think of Maxon as my boyfriend when there were other girls dating him, but he wasn’t just my friend. That hopeful feeling hit me again, the wonder that we might be something special. Maxon was more to me than I’d let myself believe.

I gave him a flirtatious smile and started walking toward the door.

“America Singer, you get back here.” He ran in front of me, wrapping an arm around my waist as we stood, chest to chest. “Tell me,” he whispered.

I pinched my lips together.

“Fine, then I shall have to rely on other means of communication.”

Without any warning, he kissed me. I felt myself dip backward a bit, completely supported by his arms. I placed my hands on his neck, wanting to hold him to me … and something shifted in my head.

Usually when we were alone together, I could block out the other girls. But tonight I thought about the possibility of someone else in my place. Just imagining it: someone else in Maxon’s arms, making him laugh, marrying him … It broke my heart. I couldn’t help it; I started to cry.

“Darling, what’s wrong?”

Darling? The word, so tender and personal, enveloped me. In that moment, any desire I had to fight my feelings for Maxon disappeared. I wanted to be his dear, his darling. I wanted to be Maxon’s alone.

It might mean welcoming a future I never thought I would and saying good-bye to things I never intended to, but the thought of leaving him now wasn’t something I could handle.

It was true that I wasn’t the best candidate for the crown, but I didn’t deserve to be in the running at all if I couldn’t at least be brave enough to confess how I felt.

I sighed, trying to keep my voice steady. “I don’t want to leave all this.”

“If I remember correctly, the first time we met, you said it was like a cage.” He smiled. “It does grow on you, though, doesn’t it?”

I gave my head a small shake. “Sometimes you can be so stupid.” A weak laugh pushed through my choked-up throat.

Maxon let me pull away just enough so I could look into his brown eyes.

“Not the palace, Maxon. I could care less about the clothes or my bed or, believe it or not, the food.”

Maxon laughed. It was no secret how excited I had been about the extravagant meals here.

“It’s you,” I said. “I don’t want to leave you.”

“Me?”

I nodded.

“You want me?”

I giggled at his bewildered expression. “That’s what I’m saying.”

He paused a moment. “How—But—What did I do?”

“I don’t know,” I said with a shrug. “I just think that we’d be a good us.”

He smiled slowly. “We’d be a wonderful us.”

Maxon pulled me in, roughly by his standards, and kissed me again.

“Are you sure?” he asked, holding me at arm’s length, staring intently at me. “Are you absolutely positive?”

“If you’re sure, I’m sure.”

For a flicker of a second, something changed in his expression. But it passed so quickly, I wondered if it—whatever it was—was even real.

In the very next moment, he led me over to the bed, and we perched on the edge together, holding hands as my head rested on his shoulder. I was expecting him to say something. After all, wasn’t this what he had been waiting for? But there were no words. Every once in a while he’d let out a long sigh, and in that sound alone I could hear how happy he was. That helped me not to feel so anxious.

After a while—perhaps because neither of us knew what to say—Maxon sat up straighter. “I should probably go. If we’re going to add all the families to the celebration, I need to make extra plans.”

I pulled back and smiled, still giddy that I was going to get to hug my mom, dad, and May soon. “Thank you again.”

We stood together, walking toward the door. I held on to his hand tightly. For some reason, I dreaded letting it go. It felt like this whole moment was fragile somehow, and if it shifted too much it might break.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he promised in a whisper, his nose millimeters away from mine. He looked upon me with such adoration that I felt silly for worrying. “You’re astonishing.”

Once he was gone, I closed my eyes and pulled in everything from our short time together: the way he stared at me, the playful smiles, the sweet kisses. I thought about them over and over as I got ready for bed, wondering if Maxon was doing the same thing.

 

 

CHAPTER 6


“LOVELY, MISS. KEEP POINTING AT the sketches, and the rest of you, try not to look at me,” the photographer asked.

It was Saturday, and all the Elite had been excused from our obligatory day of sitting in the Women’s Room. At breakfast, Maxon made his announcement about the Halloween party; and by the afternoon, our maids had started working on costume designs, and photographers had shown up to document the whole process.

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