I felt like the fight at the end of The One was really lame and clearly only there to cause more drama for during the massacre. But it was a little bit of a stretch for me to believe when they'd just spent a whole night together proclaiming how they love each other more than anything, and then Maxon turns into this bitter idiot over something America could have so easily explained. I mean, he knew from the start that she'd been torn between the two guys, and he knew she'd so clearly made a choice….I dunno. It's bothered me. So I rewrote the scene.
I paced around my room at the foot of my bed. I could feel Maxon watching me curiously from the bed. God, he was going to hate me. I glanced at the picture frame on the bed once more, and my eyes bounced away, another wave of chill running through my veins.
"This isn't how I thought you'd react," Maxon stated after a few seconds. The realization that we were going to be together, that he'd chosen me for his wife, had sent us into a tizzy of excitement and bliss. He'd kissed me, hard, long, and sweet. Things had gotten heavy. Maxon's shirt was in a puddle on the floor by the nightstand, and we'd finally—finally —said I love you…But then, for whatever reason, life had the remind me of the promise I'd made in Carolina.
"I'm excited, trust me, I am," I rushed to explain. "I want this more than I could possibly express."
He stood and came over to me, pausing my pacing by grabbing my hands. "Then what's the matter?"
I scrambled, jaw working to find words. "I want to tell you, but I don't want you to leave me," I whispered to keep my voice from shaking. "I don't want our life together to start with lies and hiding things."
Maxon's face fell slightly; he seemed a little more hesitant now. "I'm capable of hiring reasoning," he assured me anyways. "I promise to hear you out. I promise, whatever you've done can't be as bad as anything you've done to date." He gave me a wink and I couldn't help the giggle that escaped my lips.
I pulled away from him and took a breath. "Officer Leger is Aspen."
His eyebrows shot up. "Your Aspen? The Aspen?" I nodded slowly, scanning his face for any hint of anger. It was there, among a million other emotions. Most predominantly: Betrayal. His eyebrows furrowed. "So those loves notes on the wall in his room—"
My heart leapt from my chest. "No!" I cried, eager to kill that thought before he could complete it. "Those were from before, before I was ever even selected. Before I even submitted my application. I don't know why he brought them—"
"Clearly because he still loves you," Maxon snapped, crossing his arms.
I felt my stomach drop to my feet. No, no, no. This was exactly what I was trying to avoid. "My love for Aspen is entirely familial," I told him firmly, stepping forward to take his hands, but he stepped away from me slightly and I froze. "I don't love him like I love you, as much as I love you. When Aspen dumped me, I knew I'd move on one day, that I'd be okay." I paused to control my voice, which had started shaking. "But, Maxon, if you left me, I'd move on one day, maybe. But I would never be okay, I would never be the same."
"Did you ever meet him is secret?" he asked quietly.
I nodded slowly. "A few times. But only because Aspen was safe. He was familiar to me at a time and in a place where I felt alone and out of place and foreign," I explained, trying to force myself to keep eye contact with him so he would finally hear my honesty. "But when I came back from Carolina today, I realized this palace, you—this feels more like home to me now."
Maxon seemed to consider this for a moment, and it felt like years. I could see it all playing out on his face, a war of emotions. He wanted to forgive me, but he was also extremely angry to find out I'd been seeing Aspen behind his back.
"I understand if you've changed your mind," I told him without thinking, "I'll support whatever decision you make."
"I haven't changed my mind," he sighed, crossing his arms. "I don't know…" He paced for a second, and then turned back to me. "I'm trying to figure out how long and how deep this ran without me noticing." He ran a hand through his hair, tousling it into a mess. "I feel so stupid for posting him outside your door."
"I'm sorry," I managed quietly.
His face softened, hurt prevailing over his features. "Why didn't you tell me that first day? In the hallway?"
His accusing tone hurt, it cut through me, and I let it, knowing that at the minimum that I deserved this. "I was so surprised to see him there. Being in the Selection was so new that all I could think about was the rule about outside relationships. I didn't want to be sent home."
"That didn't seem to stop you, though," he mumbled bitterly.
"I'm sorry," I breathed, desperation overcoming me. "I know it was so, so stupid but I needed to sort out where exactly my heart was, whether it was with you or with Aspen. It wouldn't be fair for either of us if I kept pushing you away because of unresolved feelings."
A silence fell over us and I averted my eyes to his packages lying forgotten on the bed. As much as I wished I'd hadn't said anything, that we were continuing to kiss on the bed, wrapped up in the euphoria of our engagement, I was a little glad to get through this.
"Is it over now?" Maxon finally asked, drawing my attention back to him. "Is it officially over with Aspen?"
"Yes," I said immediately, confidently. "We talked about things in Carolina, and I talked with my mom and Kenna and they helped me sort some things out. They helped me really figure out who it really was that I wanted to be with." I took a hesitant step towards him, and this time he didn't back away. "I just hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me."
Maxon let out a breath. "I would be lying if I said I don't feel a bit betrayed and very hurt. I am glad you came to me, though."
"I didn't want you to see or hear something before I could tell you," I admitted with a shy smile. "Like I said, I want to start this being open and honest."
"And I appreciate that," he breathed, coming to me and pecking my forehead. "I have one last gift for you, but now you have to earn it."
"You have to be perfect. You have to be on your absolute best behavior," he explained seriously.
"I can do that," I grinned. I was on such thin ice I was surprised I was still above water at all. The relief that washed over me was insane but comforting. "I promise."
He pulled away all too soon and headed for the door. "I think it would be best if I left you for now, but I'll come by in the morning to see you before the announcement. I frowned but nodded. "I love you, America. More than anything."
"I love you, too, Maxon Schreave," I replied with a smile and watched as he shut the door quietly behind him, hoping it was a nameless guard outside my door and not Aspen.