The One (The Selection #3)

America, my love, you are sunlight falling through trees. You are laughter that breaks through sadness. You are the breeze on a too-war day. You are clarity in the midst of confusion.

You are not the world, but you are everything that makes the world good. Without you, my life would still exist, but that's all it would manage to do.

You said that to get things right one of us would have to take a leap of faith. I think I've discovered the canyon that must be leaped, and I hope to find you waiting for me on the other side.

I love you, America.

Yours forever,
Maxon

America, you are full of nothing but bad ideas. Great intentions but awful ideas.

America: You didn't have to do that.
Maxon: I know. But sometimes it's about what you want to do, not what you have to.

And there we were, in the background of it all, holding on to one another. The Perfectionist, the Sweetheart, the Diva . . . and me.

Bravery hides in amazing places.

Break my heart. Break it a thousand times if you like. It was only ever yours to break anyway.

But even now I know this isn't a fairy tale. I know that we'll have hard times, confusing times. I know that things won't always happen the way we want them to and that we'll have to work to remember that we chose this. It won't be perfect, not all the time.

This isn't happily ever after.

It's so much more than that.

Celeste walked up, as strong as I’d ever seen her, and whispered something into Maxon’s ear.

When she was done, he smiled. “I don’t think that will be necessary.”

“Good.” She left, closing the door behind her, and I stood to take whatever was coming.

“What was that about?” I asked, nodding toward the door.

“Oh, Celeste was making it clear that if I hurt you, she’d make me cry,” he said with a smile.

I laughed. “I’ve been on the receiving end of those nails, so be careful there.”

“Yes, ma’am.

Fine," I said. "But I'm telling you, this won't work." With an impish grin on his face, he came very close and gave me a long, slow kiss. "And I'm telling you it will.

He sighed contentedly. “How are you feeling, my dear?”

“I feel like punching you for calling me ‘my dear’ mostly.” I poked his bare stomach.

Smiling, he crawled to sit over me. “Fine then. My darling? My pet? My love?”

“Any of those would work, so long as you’ve reserved it solely for me,” I said, my hands mindlessly wandering his chest, his arms. “What am I supposed to call you?”

“Your Royal Husbandness. It’s required by law, I’m afraid.

I'll love you until my very last breath. Every beat of my heart is yours. I don't want to die without you knowing that.

I loved him.
I couldn't pinpoint what made me so certain, but I knew it then, as surely as I knew my name or the color of the sky or any fact written in a book.
Could he feel it, too?
Maxon broke the kiss and looked at me. "You're so pretty when you are a mess."
I laughed nervously. "Thank you. For that and for the rain and for not giving up."
He ran his fingers along my cheek and nose and chin. "You're worth it. I don't think that you get that. You're worth it to me.

I nodded. “I’m sorry I let you down.”

“No, no, dear,” she said, turning forward. “I see potential in you. I worked in a factory when I was your age. I was dirty and hungry, and sometimes I was angry. But I had an undying crush on the prince of Illéa, and when I got the chance to make him my own, I learned to check those feelings. There’s a lot to be done from here, but it might not happen the way you want it to. You need to learn to accept that, okay?”

“Yes, Mom,” I joked.

She looked back at me, her face like stone.

“I mean, ma’am. Ma’am.”

Her eyes started glistening, and she blinked a few times, turning forward again. “If it ends as I suspect it will, Mom will be just fine.

In those seconds, I was mourning everything I'd lost. How I'd never get to see you walk down an aisle toward me, how I'd never get to see your face in our children, how I'd never get to see streaks of silver in your hair. But, at the same time, I couldn't be bothered. If me dying meant you living, how could that be anything but good?

It doesn't really matter how you feel about your character; it just matters what you do with it.

. . . It’s me?”
“Of course it’s you.

I want everything with you, America. I want the holidays and the birthdays, the busy season and lazy weekends. I want peanut butter fingertips on my desk. I want inside jokes and fights and everything. I want a life with you.

I was nearly attacked. All because I missed your smell.

Leave it to you to find beauty in something others would say ruins a day.

Lowering my gaze , I walked to my seat, settling in next to Kriss.
"Seriously America?" she whispered.
I tilted my head in her direction. "I'm sorry?" I replied, feigning confusion.
She put her silverware down, and we stared at each other. "You look trashy."
"Well, you look jealous.

Maxon, some of those marks are on your back so they wouldn’t be on mine, and I love you for them.”

He stopped breathing for a second. “What did you say?”

I smiled. “I love you.”

“One more time, please? I just—”

I took his face in both of my hands. “Maxon Schreave, I love you. I love you.”

“And I love you, America Singer. With all that I am, I love you.

Maxon: “To be clear, no one agrees with you.”

America: “To be clear, I don’t care.

Mistakes mean it’s real.

She smiled. “Not wanting the crown means you’re probably the best person to have it.

The best people all have some kind of scar.

This isn’t happily ever after.
It’s so much more than that.

What am I supposed to call you?"

"Your Royal Husbandness. It's required by law, I'm afraid.

When you love someone, you sacrifice.

You are not the world, but you are everything that makes the world good.

Your eyes look like chocolate,” I mumbled.
He smiled. “And yours look like the morning sky.