“ Ideea de a intra într-o competiţie pentru ca întreaga ţară să urmarească cum acest puştiulică arogant o alege pe cea mai draguţă şi superficială dintre fetele frumoase şi tăcute pentru a sta lângă el la TV... era suficientă să mă facă să urlu. Ar fi putut exista ceva ma înjositor de atât? “
“ Era o întrebare grea. Puteam să duc o viaţă pe care nu mi-o dorisem niciodată? Puteam să-l urmăresc în timp ce încerca să se întâlnească şi cu alte fete pentru a se asigura că nu facea nicio greşeală? Puteam să preiau responsabilităţile pe care le avea ca prinţ? Puteam să-l iubesc? “
“ “Recently I’ve discovered this one thing ….”
“It turns out I’m absolutely terrible at staying away from you. It’s a very serious problem.”
I smiled. “Have you really tried?” He pretended to think about it.
“Well, no. And don’t expect me to start.” We laughed quietly, holding on to each other. In these moments, it was so easy to picture this being the rest of my life. ”
“ She hit another sour note, and I couldn’t help but wince.
“Oh, look at your face!” she exclaimed. “I’m terrible. I might as well be playing with my elbows.”
“We should try that. Maybe your elbows are more accurate.”
She sighed. “I give up. Sorry, America, you’ve been so patient, but I hate hearing myself play. It sounds like the piano is sick.”
“More like it’s dying, actually.” Marlee collapsed into laughter, and I joined her. Little did I know that when she’d asked for piano lessons, my ears would be in for such painful—but hilarious—torture.”
“ 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? “
“ 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. “
“ “What’s it like to be in love?” May asked.
Part of me ached. Why hadn’t she ever asked me? Then I remembered, as far as May knew, I’d never been in love.
Lucy’s smile was sad. “It’s the most wonderful and terrible thing that can ever happen to you,” she said simply. “You know that you’ve found something amazing, and you want to hold on to it forever; and every second after you have it, you fear the moment you might lose it.” I sighed softly. She was absolutely right.
Love is beautiful fear.”
““How are you?” he asked, crossing the room.
“It’s because I’m so good-looking, isn’t it?”
I laughed at the sympathetic face he made. “I should avert my eyes,” I said, playing along. “
“It wasn’t like I made his world better. It was like I was his world. It wasn’t some explosion; it wasn’t fireworks. It was a fire, burning slowly from the inside out.”
“ “Is it strange that I feel better going into a den of rebels than I did when I had to entertain the women of the Italian royal family?”
Maxon laughed. “Only you.” “
“ “I’m so glad you’re here,” I whispered.
“I’m always here for you, America. You know that.” She smiled; and for the first time in our friendship, she seemed older than me, so calm and sure. “What in the world were you doing?”
I made a face. “It seemed like a good idea.”
Her eyes became sympathetic. “America, you are full of nothing but bad ideas. Great intentions but awful ideas.” “
“The best people all have some kind of scar.”
“When I’d gotten chosen for the Selection, I’d wanted so badly to find my way back to that life. I wanted a world full of the music I’d always loved.
But, truly, that was never something I could have held on to. No matter which path I took in life now, music might only be something I pulled out at parties to entertain a guest or a way I relaxed on a weekend.
I looked at myself in the mirror and realized I wasn’t bitter about that, not like I thought I’d be. I’d miss it, but it was just a piece of who I was now, not everything I was.”
“One of the things that I’ve learned from the Selection so far is that moving forward means joining your life before coming to the palace with the future that lies in front of you.”
“Bravery hides in amazing places.”
“Surely he loved me. Right? Why wouldn’t he just say it?
We’re alone, Maxon. If you say it, I’ll say it back.
“I don’t know how to thank you for this, Maxon.”
He smiled. “Hearing you say it is nice.” He cleared his throat. “I’m always interested in hearing how you feel.”
Oh, no. Nope. I was not putting it out there first.
“Well, I’m very grateful. As always.”
Maxon sighed. “I’m happy you like it.” “
“ Kriss held the ends of my hair across my forehead. “Have you ever considered getting bangs?”
“A couple of times,” I admitted, fluffing the fringe hanging just above my eyes. “But my sister usually ends up annoyed with hers, so I change my mind.”
“I think you’d look cute,” Kriss said enthusiastically. “I cut some for my cousin once. I could do yours if you want.”
“Yeah,” Celeste chimed in. “Let her near your face with scissors, America. Great idea.” “
“ Live your life. Be as happy as you can be, let go of the things that don’t matter, and fight. “
“Break my heart. Break it a thousand times if you like. It was only ever yours to break anyway.”