I should have known better.
He stood from the bed. “There are many girls here who would make good Lunas. Olivia is perhaps the
strongest of the group.”
I don’t know what I had been expecting, but my stomach still twisted uncomfortably as he spoke
“She’s beautiful and cunning. And she has a strong following in the public. Lilliana has the proper
demeanor. And then there’s –”
“Okay, that’s enough. I get the picture.”
Nicholas shrugged, as if to say, you asked.
I regretted that choice.
“Rest now,” Nicholas said. “I’ll send my physician to check on you.”
Without another word, he walked to the door and left me.
I was so confused. His rescue had been daring. For a moment, I had almost convinced myself that he
still cared for me. But then when he had talked about those other girls…
Perhaps he only saved me out of a sense of duty. Maybe he would have done the same for any of the
I pulled the covers over my head and groaned. The mixed messages were hard to decipher, and then, I
wasn’t even certain what I wanted to be true.
Anna would be able to help me sort through it, but I had no way to talk to her. I hoped she was doing
okay. I had no idea how she was paying for my half of the rent with me gone.
She probably found another roommate. I wondered what they were like.
I wished I could call her, but that was impossible. Since my phone was confiscated on the first day here,
I had no way to communicate with the outside world.
Still, thinking about her and her steady comfort helped bring me some peace. I tried to imagine what she
would say if I could talk to her.
If you are so sure you are going to be eliminated – which, I’m not convinced of, by the way then you
should enjoy every second you are there. Eat that good food. Walk through those gardens. Flirt with those
The last of which, she would say with a wink.
Smiling at her imaginary antics, I drifted off to sleep.
With the doctor’s help, and no shortness of luck, I was able to recover by the next day with little more
than a light cold. I had sniffles and a headache, but no fever. It felt like a miracle.
To keep Elva safe from my sickness, she was set up in another room for now with a permanent nanny.
Mark stayed by her side at all times, guarding her.
I wished I could see her, but I’d never dare chance passing my cold onto her. With her weakened
immune system, she would suffer a much worse sickness than me.
My slight illness could not keep me away from my other responsibilities of the game, however, and at
midday, I was called down to the parlor with the rest of the candidates for an announcement.
When I entered the room, the other girls all kept fair distance from me. I didn’t mind. I felt too miserable
to deal with any of their dramas today. I really just wanted to go back to bed.
Only Susie came over to see me, though she stood a few feet off to avoid my germs.
“Are you alright?”
“I’m not nearly as bad as I should be.” I said. “T’ll be fine in a few days
“Good. Elva’s been wanting you.”
“I miss her too. But thank you for looking out for her.”
Near the doorway, Nathan cleared his throat, claiming the attention of the room.
” will now begin with the announcements,” he declared. Everyone inched closer to hear. “In exactly one week from today, the first elimination will be held. This gives you only a few more chances to raise your
The girls began to whisper, but Nathan cleared his throat again. He wasn’t done.
“During that elimination, the 9 lowest ranking girls will be sent home.”
His words startled me. 9?