Home > The Selection (The Selection #1)(12)

The Selection (The Selection #1)(12)
Author: Kiera Cass

“Did you go in the lottery, Mama?” Gerad asked.

“No, sweetie, Mama was two years too young for the cutoff. But lucky me, I got your father instead.” She smiled and winked.

Whoa. She must have been in a good mood. I couldn’t remember the last time she was that affectionate toward Dad.

“Queen Amberly is the best queen ever. She’s so beautiful and smart. Every time I see her on TV, I want to be just like her,” May said with a sigh.

“She is a good queen,” I added quietly.

Finally eight o’clock rolled around, and the national emblem rose on the screen along with the instrumental version of our anthem. Was I actually trembling? I was so ready for this to be over.

The king appeared and gave a brief update on the war. The other announcements were also short. It seemed like everyone there was in a good mood. I guessed this must be exciting for them, too.

Finally the Master of Events came up and introduced Gavril, who walked straight over to the royal family.

“Good evening, Your Majesty,” he said to the king.

“Gavril, always good to see you.” The king was borderline giddy.

“Looking forward to the announcement?”

“Ah, yes. I was in the room yesterday as a few were drawn; all very lovely girls.”

“So you know who they are already?” Gavril exclaimed.

“Just a few, just a few.”

“Did he happen to share any of this information with you, sir?” Gavril turned to Maxon.

“Not at all. I’ll see them when everyone else does,” Maxon replied. You could see he was trying to hide his nerves.

I realized my palms were sweating.

“Your Majesty,” Gavril went over to the queen. “Any advice for the Selected?”

She smiled her serene smile. I didn’t know what the other women looked like when she went through the Selection, but I couldn’t imagine anyone being as graceful and lovely as her.

“Enjoy your last night as an average girl. Tomorrow, no matter what, your life will be different forever. And it’s old advice, but it’s good: Be yourself.”

“Wise words, my queen, wise words. And with that, let us reveal the thirty-five young ladies chosen for the Selection. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating the following Daughters of Illéa!”

The screen changed to the national emblem. In the upper right-hand corner, there was a small box with Maxon’s face, to see his reactions as the pictures went across the monitor. He would already be making decisions about them, the way we all would.

Gavril had a set of cards in his hands, ready to read out the names of the girls whose worlds, according to the queen, were about to change forever.

“Miss Elayna Stoles of Hansport, Three.” A photo of a tiny girl with porcelain skin popped up. She looked like a lady. Maxon beamed.

“Miss Tuesday Keeper of Waverly, Four.” A girl with freckles appeared. She looked older, more mature. Maxon whispered something to the king.

“Miss Fiona Castley of Paloma, Three.” A brunette with smoldering eyes this time. Maybe my age, but she seemed more … experienced.

I turned to Mom and May on the couch. “Doesn’t she seem awfully—”

“Miss America Singer of Carolina, Five.”

I whipped my head back around, and there it was. The picture of me just after I’d found out Aspen was saving up to marry me. I looked radiant, hopeful, beautiful. I looked like I was in love. And some idiot thought that love was for Prince Maxon.

Mom screamed by my ear, and May jumped up, sending popcorn everywhere. Gerad got excited too and started dancing. Dad … it’s hard to say, but I think he was secretly smiling behind his book.

I missed what Maxon’s expression was.

The phone rang.

And it didn’t stop for days.


THE NEXT WEEK WAS FULL of officials swarming into our house to prepare me for the Selection. There was an obnoxious woman who seemed to think I’d lied about half my application, followed by an actual palace guard who came to go over security measures with the local soldiers and give our home a once-over. Apparently I didn’t have to wait until getting to the palace to worry about potential rebel attacks. Wonderful.

We got two phone calls from a woman named Silvia—who sounded very perky and businesslike at the same time—wanting to know if we needed anything. My favorite visitor was a lean, goateed man who came to measure me for my new wardrobe. I wasn’t sure how I felt about wearing dresses that were as formal as the queen’s all the time, but I was looking forward to a change.

The last of these visitors came on Wednesday afternoon, two days before I was to leave. He was in charge of going over all the official rules with me. He was incredibly skinny with greasy black hair that was smoothed back, and he kept sweating. Upon entering the house, he asked if there was someplace private we could talk. That was my first clue that something was going on.

“Well, we can sit in the kitchen, if that’s all right,” Mom suggested.

He dabbed his head with a handkerchief and looked over at May. “Actually, anyplace is fine. I just think you might want to ask your younger daughter to leave the room.”

What could he possibly say that May couldn’t hear?

“Mama?” she asked, sad to be missing out.

“May, darling, go and work on your painting. You’ve been neglecting your work a bit this last week.”


“Let me walk you out, May,” I offered, looking at the tears welling up in her eyes.

When we were down the hall and no one could hear, I pulled her in for a hug.

“Don’t worry,” I whispered. “I’ll tell you everything tonight. Promise.”

To her credit, she didn’t blow our cover by jumping up and down as usual. She merely nodded somberly and went away to her little corner in Dad’s studio.

Mom made tea for Skinny, and we sat at the kitchen table to talk. He had a stack of papers and a pen laid out next to another folder with my name on it. He arranged his information neatly and spoke.

“I’m sorry to be so secretive, but there are certain things I need to address that are unfit for young ears.”

Mom and I exchanged a quick glance.

“Miss Singer, this is going to sound harsh, but as of last Friday, you are now considered property of Illéa. You must take care of your body from here on out. I have several forms for you to sign as we go through this information. Any failure to comply on your part will result in your immediate removal from the Selection. Do you understand?”


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