I am in the best mood I have been in since coming to the palace. I think it is the prospects of what is to come, that add an extra bounce in my step as I hop down the marble staircase towards the Ladies Room. The sun is shining through the huge glass windows, fresh flowers bloom in vases adorned all along the corridor. I feel invincible.
The atmosphere inside is pleasant, now that there aren't scores of emotional princess wannabes arguing over who Maxon likes the best. As far as I can tell, the only other person in the room is Queen Amberly and her ever-present ensemble of maids. The other Elites must be enjoying a lie in, and I am starting to regret not taking advantage of the free morning as well.
"America? Are you busy?" the queen calls over to me. I rush over as quick as I can, desperately trying not to trip over anything. I want to make a good impression.
"Lovely. I was wondering whether you wanted to talk? Maybe get to know each other a bit better?" the Queen's question doesn't surprise me; it's just as her sister predicted: she wants to know the girls who are living in her house, but she's scared of getting too attached for them to just leave.
"Certainly, Your Majesty." I am trying to be as a polite as possible, but the Queen sees my formality as reluctance.
"No, please call me Amberly."
"Ok, Amberly," she smiles when I say this, and it helps to break the ice a bit.
I spend most of the morning chatting to her, discussing a variety of things: the palace, food, my family, her family. Until the inveitable subject comes along: Maxon.
"America, honey. I just wanted to let you know how much Maxon likes you. In a perfect world, he would've already sent the other Elite home, but this set-up isn't perfect, and Maxon has to take certain factors into account."
I give a sad smile at this. "I understand."
"If it makes you feel better, I always knew you would be the one to capture his heart." This does make me feel better.
"Did you really?"
"I really did. Now, run along, you are just in time for lunch."
I take the Queen's advice and soar out of the room. I can't believe it: Maxon wants me! But what I can't believe even more is how happy I am at the prospect of it. When I get to the dining room, there are only two girls already sitting down. I can't see Celeste, Kriss or Elise. I take a seat next to Marlee just as our food is brought in. It is steaming soup, tomato, which is my favourite. We all sit there, sipping the rich liquid off our engraved spoons in unbearable silence. I don't know why, but I just don't know what to say to these girls, especially Marlee. She has practically been avoiding me ever since the incident when the King and Queen of Swendway came to visit. In just a few minutes, Natalie has wolfed down her soup and fled the room, leaving the two of us alone. I was preparing myself for more awkward silence, but was shocked when Marlee burst into tears.
"Hey, it's okay, what's the matter?" I tried to ask as gently as possible, whilst rubbing Marlee's back.
"It's-it's-it's my sister," she wails, the tears streaming down her face.
"What happened Marlee?"
"She-she-she is in hospital." Oh no. I don't know what I'd do if May was in hospital.
"When did it happen?"
"I think three years ago, but-but I am not sure." she spoke between sniffs of her nose, and wiping her tears way on the sleeve of her dress. I was really confused, her sister had been in hospital for three years?
"What is the problem?"
"She-she-she has a disease in her kidney. Unless my parents pay for a kidney tran-tran-transplant, she might die America!" her last wail feels me with horror. "The disease will spread to the rest of her body." I don't know what to say, but I do finally realise why Marlee needs to stay in the competition: she needs the money to save her sister. I vow to myself that if Marlee is sent home, and I win, I will do all I can to save her sister. In the meantime, though, I take her hand and lead her upstairs to her room, where I tell her to lie down and get some sleep. I hope she's okay, but I see that she probably won't ever be until her sister is safe.
I head to my room to find only Lucy, sweeping the floor. I instruct her to stop and we sit down to play cards. She is really good, always beating me, though she never seems happy about it. She is probably afraid I will get annoyed for losing, but I never do. Instead I congratulate her. After a few hours, Mary and Anne come in, to dress me into my dinner gown. It is beautiful, like an ocean. The silky material floats around me, in shimmering shades of blue, turquoise and green. I am awestruck, and my maids seem so delighted.
As I descend towards the Dining Room, I spot Celeste shooting dagger eyes at me. I couldn't care less, though. I feel like a princess, and for the first time in my life I really want to be one. It is a nice feeling, and fills me with a warm glow. Inside, all the other girls are already seated, and so is Queen Amberly. Maxon and his father are yet to arrive. I take a place next to Marlee and she turns to smile at me and I know then that whatever the conflict was between us has gone.
We are all very surprised when the Queen gets up from her table and comes to sit at ours. She explains that the Prince and the King have been delayed at a meeting, and will be a few minutes. She smiles at me and I smile back. It is lovely to know I have her support.
True to her word Maxon and his father walk in a few moments later. Maxon is looking so handsome, in a dark blue suit and maroon tie. I smile at him and he catches my eye. I tug my ear as if I am scratching it and he tugs his back. I get excited then, I love our secret meetings.
We get through dinner with no incidents and before I know it I am back in my room. My maids try to get me to take my dress off, but I refuse. I want Maxon to see it when he comes.
"Ladies." I hear Maxon's voice before I see him. My maids giggle and leave the room as quietly as possible.
"So, America." I feel like sighing when he says my name.
"Shall we go onto your balcony?" I nod and he takes my hand and leads me outside.
"You look beautiful. Did you have a nice day, today?" he asks, whilst propping himself up to sit on the edge of the railing. I blush furiously.
"Yes, thank you. How was your's?"
"Dull." he relies, "Meetings after meetings after meetings. There was something I wanted to ask you, America."
"What are your feelings for me?"
A/N Thank you very much for reading! If you like the story so far, please, please review! I have only one so far :( and I would really like some more!
P.S If you like Beautiful Creatures, I have written a FanFiction for that under a different name. It is called Beautiful Future, and there is also a revised version called Beautiful Future - Revised.