Thanks for all the support!
Author's Notes are the end.
The characters of the Hunger Games Trilogy do not belong to me. I just like to mess with them.
I can tell they're looking at us
I pick you up everyday from your job
And every guy in the parking lot wants to rob me of my girl
And my heart and soul, and everybody wants to treat me so cold
But I know I love you and you love me
There's no other lover for you or me
You're my lady…
Chapter Seven: Katniss
My mouth goes dry. It's so like Gale to ruin a good night for me. Like our one time fling wasn't enough.
He leans down so he can look into the car and gives me a crooked grin. "Hey Catnip."
I smile weakly and I don't even want to see Peeta's expression right now. Guessing by the grip he has on my hand, it's not a positive one.
"Hey Gale," I reply. "What's going on?"
"I just finished my mid-terms so I thought I'd come back for my break," he informs me. "One of my friends took the flight down with me since her friends live in Daly City." Gale glances over at Peeta and smiles at him. "Hey Mellark."
"Nice to see you, Gale," my husband says in a clipped tone. His jealousy is so evident that I can feel the heat coming off him. I feel the sudden heat rise in me.
I can't believe that Peeta's jealousy is turning me on. On the other hand, there are a lot of things that I didn't know turned me on until I started sleeping with Peeta.
"Thanks for saying hi to me first," Rory says from behind Gale interrupting the tense moment.
Thank God. I could almost kiss him though I don't think that Prim would appreciate that.
"Sorry Rory." Gale hugs him then hugs Prim lifting her off the ground as he does. She squeals. "You're all grown up Primmy."
"Prim," she corrects him. "I thought you were busy in D.C. I mean you didn't even make it to the wedding."
Prim steps back knowing she made a mistake. She should step back. I can feel the blood draining from my face. I love my sister but she can have the biggest mouth.
"My wedding," I finally say and then I look at Peeta who is expressionless. That's never a good sign. "I mean OUR wedding."
I hold up my left hand to show Gale my rings.
His expression remains neutral though I can see surprise in his eyes. "Congratulations Catnip. You too Mellark."
"He's not the only Mellark in the car," I tell Gale tersely. "We have to go. Prim has school tomorrow."
Gale nods and then takes my hand suddenly. "Can I call you? There's something that I want to talk to you about."
"You have my cell number Gale," I reply. "It's the same number since I was sixteen. Prim, get in."
Prim opens the door and gets into the backseat quickly.
"I'll call you later Catnip," he says and then nods at Peeta. "See you later."
Peeta nods back and I wave before we drive off. The ride home is quiet and tense.
"I really sorry you guys," Prim says after a few minutes. "I didn't mean to open my big mouth."
Peeta looks in the rearview mirror and I can see his eyes soften. "It wasn't your fault. We were all caught by surprise." He looks at me. "Are you okay?"
I nod. "I'm fine." I turn on the radio and put my head on his shoulder. "You didn't say anything about me touching your radio."
"It's ours now," he whispers in my ear.
I kiss his shoulder and then put my head back against it. The rest of the ride is quiet with only the voice of Marvin Gaye in the car.
We are brushing our teeth when my cell phone rings. Peeta glances at my phone where the words 'Gale' taunt him on the screen. He meets my eyes in the mirror.
He spits first into the sink. "Are you going to answer that?" Peeta asks me quietly.
I spit into the sink then rinse my mouth. I grab my phone and then give him a smile. "I'll be right back." When I walk into the hallway, I answer it. "Hello?"
"Hey Gale," I say into the phone. "We were about to go to bed. What's up?"
"I wanted to tell you I'm sorry I didn't go to the funeral. My mom called me after your mom's accident," he explains. "I couldn't get a flight out. You see, we don't have a lot of money and flying out here right now was difficult enough."
"It's fine, Gale," I reply and lean against the hallway wall. I wonder briefly if Peeta is listening. "A phone call would have sufficed."
"I know," Gale says apologetically. "I was being a dick. Can I see you tomorrow for coffee?"
"I'll be in class tomorrow." Peeta walks out quietly and goes into our room. Our eyes follow one another.
"I'll meet you at State," he pleads. "I just need to see you. We need to catch up. You got married, Katniss and you didn't even tell me. I'm supposed to be your best friend."
My body hums with anger. Some friend. He didn't even call when my Mom died.
I take a deep breath before answering him.
"I married my best friend," I say. "I will see you tomorrow at noon."
I hang up and sigh. Typical Gale. He always thinks that he can fit himself into my life whenever he wants. When it's not the way he wants, he gets angry or takes off.
I walk into the room and find Peeta laying out his clothes for tomorrow. He is at the mechanic shop before he goes to class in the evening. When he glances at me, I can tell that he is upset.
"Hey," I greet him softly. "What's wrong?"
"Why did you walk out of the bathroom like that?" he asks and looks at me with frosty blue eyes. "It's like you're hiding him from me."
"I'm not trying to," I reason. "I just thought that you wouldn't want to hear me talking to him."
"I don't." Peeta walks up to me and I back myself into the door. "I just don't like to be pushed away by you. It hurts." He looks down and I reach to cup his cheek. Peeta is more sensitive than I thought.
"Look at me," I say and hold up my ring finger. "Do you see this? It means something. It's a promise to love and take care of each other. It's a promise to be a family. Like we prayed for in the chapel."
"You're not in love with me." Peeta's eyes bore into mine. "So there's no reason to stay."
I pull him to me. "You're my family now. Prim and you. I love you both," I assure Peeta. He looks at me for a moment and I can tell that his anger is dissipating. "Are you jealous?"
"Hell yes," he says suddenly and I laugh. I wrap my arms around his neck and he lifts me so I could wrap my legs around his waist. "There is always someone trying to take my girl."
I lean my forehead against his. "I'm yours Peeta."
"Say it again," Peeta tells me as he looks into my eyes. I'm aware that his hands have wandered up my thighs.
"I'm yours." The look in his eyes let me know what his intentions are and I lick my lips. He is so hot when he's jealous.
"Good." He rips my panties apart with one hand as I undo the knot on his pajama pants pushing them down quickly. I wrap my legs around his bare waist. "Now that we have that established." Peeta pushes me back against the door before he plunges into me quickly.
Our lips meet and I moan into his mouth when enters me again. For a moment, I forget about Gale and the inevitable meeting that we're going to have by surrendering to the feeling of my husband inside me.
I also silence the voice telling in my head saying that besides my body, there is something else that belongs to Peeta.
I look up from where I am sitting to see Gale looking at me bemused. I was watching the traffic on 19th Avenue as I sat next to the coffee cart in front of the campus.
"Hey Gale." He sits down nervously.
I hate that he calls me 'Catnip' sometimes. The first time I met him was the day we moved to our house. Gale was the boy next door. I was the shy only child at the time. I could barely get the words out when he asked my name so he mistakenly called me Catnip. It has stuck since then.
What he doesn't realize is that I'm not the child I was when we met. I'm not even the same girl who gave him her virginity because she was confused and drunk.
"How are you?" he asks.
"I'm fine," I respond curtly.
"Come on, talk to me," Gale says. "I know you're pissed."
I put my cup down and look at him. "Yes, I'm pissed. You're supposed to be my friend and you didn't pick up the phone to call me when my Mom died." My eyes begin to burn. "I get it. I let you have sex with me and then I didn't fall into your arms like you planned. I thought our friendship was better than that though."
He is silent for a moment and then he turns to me. "Nothing can make up for my horrible friendship skills but I really am sorry." Gale puts his hand over my free one that rests on the table. "So do you really regret sleeping together?"
I look into his grey eyes and see that they are the same as mine. They're full of regret, sadness, and angst. Our eyes are too much alike.
We are too much alike.
Then I think of Peeta's eyes and they remind me of hope. They remind me of our friendship and the sacrifices he has made for me. He is what I need. Not the pain of Gale's grey eyes but the calm blue of Peeta's.
"No," I say after a moment. "It put a lot of things in perspective, made me realize my feelings."
"I'm not in love with you." I pull my hand away from his. "Never was."
He smiles at me. "Good, I'm not either," he replies. "When I asked you to come with me, I think it was because I was afraid of losing you. I thought that if I kept you close than you couldn't leave. I didn't realize then that I never had you in the first place."
"Then why didn't you call me?"
"I was ashamed to call you. I thought you hated me," he tells me. "I also didn't come to this realization until recently."
I find myself grinning in spite of myself. I'm relieved to see that our friendship can be salvaged though it might not be the same. "What happened recently?"
Gale smiles softly. "I fell in love."
"Gale, that's wonderful. Was it the girl that came here with you?"
He nods. "We were study partners in D.C. She's a criminal justice major like me." Gale looks over at me. "I want to introduce you but first I want to know about you and Peeta. When did this start?"
Should I tell him the truth? Besides Peeta, he is my best friend.
"About a year ago." I find myself lying instead. "I went to the prom with that loser, Marvel and I caught him leaving with Glimmer. By the way, didn't you sleep with her?"
I give him a teasing smile. "Yes, but that's not important. Let's move on," Gale says.
"Peeta danced the last dance with me." I look down at my wedding ring. "Then he kissed me and that was it."
The truth in this story was that Peeta did dance the last dance with me and there was a moment where I thought he might have wanted to kiss me.
But I pulled back.
I can still see his blue eyes asking me to make a choice or make a move. I did neither.
So he left with Clove, his girlfriend and date, while I went home to a pint of salted caramel ice cream from Bi-Rite.
"So one kiss changed all your theories on marriage," Gale concludes. "Do you think that it will be that way with her?"
"Her." Gale nods and I turn to see a medium height girl with chin length brown hair. She would be considered average if it wasn't for the wide-set pair of deep brown eyes that she has. They are surrounded by thick lashes. I like her immediately because I could see a fire in her eyes that reminds me of Gale.
"Does she know that you're that into her?" I ask him as we watch her talking to a girl who is holding a neon green flier.
"No, it hasn't been that long," he tells me. "Don't say anything. Please."
"Wow, is this really happening?" I look over at his blushing face and his shining eyes. "Gale Hawthorne is in love with-what's her name?"
"Why don't you come to our house for dinner this weekend?" I find myself asking. "With Johanna. Also, you need to talk to Peeta."
"Sure," he replies. "I could tell he was really excited to see me."
"I miss sarcastic Gale," I say with a smile.
Johanna approaches us tentatively. "You can come closer," Gale says. "She doesn't bite."
"Not hard anyway," I say and I hold my hand out to her. "Katniss Mellark."
She shakes it and gives me a small smile. "Johanna Mason." We all sit back down. "You guys looked like you were having a real heart to heart."
"Gale is all about the heart to heart talks," I joke.
Johanna grins. "Real emotional guy, this one." She points to Gale with her thumb. "Give him a Nicholas Spark novel and he's done for."
We laugh. "I think we just became best friends." I like Johanna. She's like a breath of fresh air. "I have to go but I hope that you can join us this weekend for dinner. You can meet my husband and sister."
I take out my phone and pull a picture of Peeta and me on our wedding day from the library on it. Johanna takes my phone and looks at it. She lets out a whistle. "Though I think you're a little young, I approve. He's adorable." Gale is staring at us amused. "I'd love to come to dinner. Can I ride with you, handsome?" She looks over at Gale.
He nods eagerly.
I get up and meet Gale's eyes. I nod my approval before grabbing my books. "I'll see you this weekend then."
Johanna smiles. "Can't wait. Nice meeting you Katniss."
"You too, Johanna."
"You invited him for dinner?"
I pick at the pasta dish that I'm eating before placing my fork back down. I look out the window of the restaurant to see a dark beach. Peeta places his hand over mine and I meet his eyes from across the table.
Prim is eating at Rue's house so we decided to make a night out of it. "Peeta, he is my friend. He's been my friend as long as you've been."
"I know," he replies and runs his other hand through his hair. "I can't help but think about you and him."
"There is no me and Gale," I reply. "It was one time, Peeta." Frustration is evident in my voice.
"It was an important one time."
"Why are you so upset?" I look at his tense form and rub my thumb against his hand. "My virginity wasn't some prize to be won. " I look at him for a moment and my eyes widened. "Are you upset because I lost my virginity to him?"
He remains silent.
"Did you want it to be you?" I ask and then scowl. "I'm sorry but weren't you pretty hot and heavy with Clove at the time?" Peeta doesn't respond so I continue. "Well I apologize that you happened to not be there on that particular night. From now on, you have every night with me. You have every night for the rest of our lives!"
"No, I have every night for the next four years!" Peeta says angrily.
I realize what he just said and though I know his response is the truth; it hurts.
It hurts like hell.
I am suddenly walking away from our table, down the stairs and out of the restaurant. It is windy outside and I wrap my arms around myself. Damn him. I can hear the door behind me open and close. The heat of my husband's body warms me and he put his arms around my waist.
"I'm sorry," he whispers into my ear. "Your husband can be such a jealous prick sometimes."
I don't even realize that I'm crying until I reach instinctively to wipe my eyes. "Why don't you understand that it was a mistake?" He tightens his hold around my waist. "It felt so wrong when it happened." I turn to him and look into his eyes. "Every time with you has felt right."
Peeta doesn't say anything after I say this to him. Instead he cups my face and kisses me. Kissing Peeta is nothing like anything I've ever felt. It's like Christmas times five. I feel like I can kiss him for the rest of my life.
When our lips part, I put my head against his chest and Peeta kisses the top of my head. There is something different in his eyes when he looks at me. "I love you Katniss Mellark."
I lay my head back on his chest feeling his heart race as I hear those words. I know he loves me. He tells me all the time.
However, it's only when I look up into his eyes do I realize something.
I'm in love with my husband.
The weekend comes quicker than both of us realize. I come to two conclusions in-between then.
One, when you're in love with someone you become horribly distracted. I've almost fallen down the stairs twice in front of Peeta.
Two, make-up sex is the best. I've done that twice too.
That weekend started calmly enough. Peeta, Prim and I went to the Alemany Farmers Market to get some tomatoes for the casserole that Prim was making. When she found out that Rory was coming, she jumped at the chance to prepare the dinner.
I walked hand in hand with Peeta as he talked with different vendors about their goods. He is charming and all of the people that he speaks to are excited to hear about the bakery. Peeta hands out business card to each one and promises them a loaf on him. When they meet me, they are welcoming and some of the vendors give me hugs.
They tease me by offering baskets of vegetables that will help along with the 'baby making'. Peeta turns them down for me and says that we are waiting to start a family. I smile along but the images of blond, grey eyed babies enter my mind and I shake them away quickly. I shouldn't be thinking about this.
When we get home, Prim and Peeta get to work in the kitchen. I clean up the living room and throw away all of the old Seventeen (Prim's) and Martha Stewart Living (Peeta's) magazines into the recycling bin. I vacuum the rugs and straighten the pillows on the couch before checking in on them.
I enter the kitchen to find Prim at the counter cutting vegetables and Peeta cutting up apples for the pie at the dining table. They are both in sync in their cutting strategies and are singing loudly to a song on the radio.
Cheer up, sleepy Jean, oh what can it mean
To a daydream believer and a homecoming queen?
Peeta looks up to see me and offers his hand. I take it and we whirl around the kitchen together. Prim laughs from where she stands but I can see how she stares and sighs. Prim, my hopeless romantic sister, is dreaming of a time where she will be doing the same thing. Judging by the way Rory looks at her; it won't be long until she has a boyfriend. I make a mental note to talk to her about boys.
As the time passes, Peeta becomes more despondent. By the time, it is time for Gale, Johanna, and Rory to come; he is not talking at all. Prim looks at him and our eyes meet because we know that he is lost in his own little world.
Prim goes to change. So I sit on his lap and wrap my arms around his neck. "We can still back out now," I tell him jokingly.
Peeta shakes his head. "No, we can't," he replies. "Prim would kill us." We share a laugh as I look into his eyes. Something in me jumps up and down excitedly. "You okay? There is something different about you."
"Nothing is different." Except that I'm in love with you.
The doorbell rings and Prim runs to the door. She has changed into a little denim skirt and sweater. Peeta and I look at one another. "Should we talk to her about this?" he asks as he puts an arm around me.
"Well it's not exactly my old waitress outfit so I think we're safe for now." We follow her to the door.
When she opens the door, our three guests are waiting patiently. Rory is impressed with Prim's outfit by the look in his eyes.
Maybe I should talk to her about her wardrobe.
She lets them in opening the door further. Johanna rushes over to us. "So this is the husband?"
"Peeta. My name is Peeta." He holds out his hand to her which she shakes happily.
"Oh he is even cuter in person," she tells me with a wink. "Kudos."
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Gale offer his hand to Peeta who takes it slowly.
"Thanks for having us," Gale says.
Peeta shrugs. "It's what Katniss wanted." Then he is off to the kitchen to check on everything.
Johanna puts an arm around me. "This is going to be awkward, isn't it?"
Johanna and Prim ease the tension by force feeding everyone or monopolizing the conversation. I sit next to Peeta who is at the head of the table. He is friendly to Rory and Johanna, sweet to Prim and aloof to Gale.
Peeta meets my eyes and takes my hand squeezing it to let me know that he is okay. For a moment, I feel horrible for putting him in this situation. I don't think I would have been as calm if Clove was sitting at my table. I pull his hand so I can kiss his knuckles. We smile at one another and it is a sign that everything is okay. That we are okay. This is the most important thing in the world to me right now.
"Hey Lovebirds," Johanna calls out and we turn to look at her. "I just wanted to make sure that you guys were okay. You were having a bit of a stare down."
"They do that a lot," Prim tells everyone. "Or they do the other thing."
"What other thing?" Gale asks and folds his hands on the table.
"Yeah what other thing Prim?" I look at her and she blushes.
"Well why do you think I sometimes look like I haven't slept? You two need to turn some music on or something whenever…Katniss, these walls are paper thin and you're not exactly the quietest person." Peeta laughs and then she turns to him scowling. "You too, big brother. You curse too much."
"Poor Prim." Gale is trying not to burst. "You're missing sleep because they can't learn how to keep their mouths shut mid-coitus." Johanna throws her napkin at him.
"Shut it," she scolds him with a smile. "They're newlyweds who need to learn to be quiet or buy Prim some noise cancelling earphones."
I don't know which is worse. The fact that Johanna and Gale are discussing our bedroom matters or the fact that Prim knows that we're having sex.
"Well I have been angling for an iPod," Prim says to them. Rory is looking at her like he's never seen her before. Prim has really grown up in these past months. I've just noticed that she's begun to wear her hair in one braid instead of two. Sometimes she wears it down.
Part of me is happy because she is growing up but the other half is sad to see the little girl with the two pigtails go.
Peeta's phone suddenly rings interrupting my thoughts.
"It's my Dad." He gets up and kisses the top of my head before going into the kitchen.
"You two are the sappiest couple I've ever seen," Johanna says and I give her the finger.
"Hey now!" Gale looks at me in mock horror. "There are children at the table."
"What children?" I retort. "Prim is wearing a mini-skirt and Rory's eyes haven't focused on anything but that skirt." The two sink into their seats.
Peeta comes back in. "I have to let in a late delivery," he says. "Mom is not feeling well so Dad can't stay late. So I'm going to go over to wait for it. I won't be long."
I stand up. "I'll go with you." He smiles at me. "I don't want you to be there all alone. Prim will serve dessert, won't you?" I turn to my sister and she nods.
"Why don't we all go?" Johanna suggests. "I've been hearing about your bakery Peeta from some of my old friends in the city."
"I can just clean up," Prim says and starts gathering the plates. Rory begins to help her by grabbing the dishes on the opposite side.
"I'll help," Rory tells us. "You can go ahead."
We leave the house just as Peeta's Dad is closing the door. He waves and I rush over to hug him.
"Hello, my dear," he says fondly. "Thanks for helping us out."
"It's our family business, of course I've come to help," I tell him. His eyes shine proudly when I tell him this.
"Hey Dad," Peeta greets him as he comes up behind me. "Heading off?"
"Yeah, your Mom is not feeling great," he tells us. "Are you free tomorrow for dinner?"
"Of course," Peeta replies and I nod. "Do you want us to bring anything?"
"Just yourselves." He looks over to where Johanna and Gale are standing. "Nice to see you Gale."
"Nice to see you too, Mr. Mellark," he replies. "This is Johanna Mason, a friend of mine." I can see Johanna falter but she recovers quickly to shake my father-in-law's hand.
"I'm off." He kisses me on the cheek and claps Peeta's shoulder. "See you tomorrow."
Peeta opens the door and I walk in followed by Gale and Johanna. I love the look of the bakery; it has creamy walls and wooden shelves. It's like you've just walked into an old Victorian. There are a few tables for people to sit at. The only modern aspect is the glass display. There are pictures of Peeta and his brothers as children along the walls.
I'm surprised when I come across a picture of a picture of Peeta, Prim and I at our wedding. "Did you see this?" Peeta walks over to see the picture.
He shakes his head. "My Dad must have put it up."
"Nice place, Peeta," Johanna says. "Is this your main job?"
"I wish," he tells her. "I've been into making my own recipes since I was a kid so I've always love experimenting here."
"I've been trying to convince him to go to the Culinary Academy instead of pursuing business." I pull down the blinds and put some chairs down for Gale and Johanna to sit on.
"We have a deal," Peeta says as he begins to pull shelves of the old pastries from the display trays. I get some plates and then pull two cinnamon rolls for Gale and Johanna. My husband kisses my neck quickly when I pass him. "My darling wife thinks that I am wasting my time in the business world. It is only one semester however."
I hand them their dishes.
"No wonder, she wants you to quit," Johanna says after she eats some of her roll. "I think I just had an orgasm eating this."
Gale almost chokes and I whack him on the back.
"Thanks," he says and gives me a grateful smile.
When I look I see that Peeta is looking at us with a sullen expression. Someone knocks on the front door and he goes to open it. When he is outside, I hit Gale on the arm.
"Please talk to him," I urge my friend.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to cause any problems," Gale says. He gets up and goes outside.
"Peeta is still hurting over you losing your virginity to Gale?"
I look at Johanna. "He told you?"
She takes a bite of his roll. "Gale can't keep a secret from me."
Except that he is in love with her.
Johanna gets up and pulls me up along. "We should go out there."
I follow her and we walk outside to see that Peeta is signing off on a flour shipment. The deliveryman is taking a pulley with crate of flour bags out from the back of the truck. Gale is standing there with his hands in his pockets. I mouthed for him to talk to Peeta who is counting the bags of flour.
Peeta begins to unload a flour bag to put against the door. Gale suddenly grabs one and puts it over his shoulder.
Peeta glares. "What are you doing?"
Gale places the bag he has down on top of the other one. "I'm trying to help you."
My husband lifts another bag and then throws it at Gale—HARD. Thank goodness, he caught it in time but now he's pissed.
"What was that for?" Gale approaches Peeta.
"You wanted to help, didn't you?" Peeta says and they are chest to chest.
"I'm not trying to fight with you but don't push me," Gale warns.
Instead of letting it go, Peeta pushes him. Then Gale is pushing him back.
Before I can even get a word out, they are on the ground wrestling each other. While Gale is bigger than Peeta, he is not as quick as Peeta who was on the wrestling team in high school.
I approach them but Johanna stops me. "Don't. Let them get it out."
We observe the two for a couple of minutes and it is hypnotizing watching them in this dance-fight. Peeta manages to grab Gale by the waist and knocks him to the ground. Gale responds by grabbing onto Peeta's leg and trying to twist it. There is no conversation just two grown men grunting and letting out an occasional yell whenever it gets to be too much.
I wonder briefly what the neighbors are thinking.
Gale has Peeta in a headlock. "Why are you so angry at me? It was years ago."
"It's none of your business," Peeta says as he punches him in the gut. Gale stumbles and Peeta head-butts him in the stomach. "I just don't like it."
"Okay," Gale replies as he twist Peeta's arm. "I'm not in love with her. I'm in love with Johanna."
Peeta steps back. "You are?"
Johanna tries to approach them but I stop her this time. "I have to hear this."
Gale and Peeta sit on the step in front of the bakery, panting. "We made a mistake. She was vulnerable when it happened and I loved her but not in the way I thought I did. I asked her to come with me because I was scared of losing her. Good thing, she said no."
"You didn't deserve her," Peeta says.
"You don't deserve her," Gale replies.
"I'll spend the rest of my life trying to," my husband tells him. My heart is racing at his words.
"I'm starving," Gale says suddenly.
Peeta lights up. "I have this new pie that I made in the bakery. We can eat it after we're done here."
Gale holds his hand out and Peeta shakes it.
Then they are back to work bringing in the bags of flour.
"What the hell just happened?" I ask Johanna. She is beaming as she looks at Gale.
"A man's heart to heart," she replies. "I know about this. Lived with boys my whole life." Her eyes are faraway for a moment. She shakes her head and puts an arm around my shoulders. "Let's go back inside. You'll just hurt yourself trying to think about it."
The next night was dinner at the Mellarks. It's not far from us but the change in neighborhood is definitely different. They live in Seacliff which is right next to the Presidio. All of the houses in Seacliff have a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and private use of the beach below the neighborhood. The Mellarks moved to this home a few years ago but continued to use the bakery's address so that Peeta could go to school with me.
"Do I look okay?" I ask Peeta. I'm wearing a grey pencil skirt and yellow top.
Peeta looks at me and then kisses the top of my head. "You are beautiful." My insides are humming. Prim is looking up at the house in front of us. It is gated and so Peeta punches in the code to open the gate letting Prim walk through first.
I stop him before he can enter. "Hey." He turns to me with concern in his eyes. "I just wanted to make sure you were okay after yesterday."
Peeta and Gale have reached a sort of truce. After they were finished bringing in the bags of flour, they sat at the table chatting away as they ate Peeta's raspberry lemon pie. It was as if they had not been wrestling each other just an hour before then.
I will never understand boys.
"I'm fine," he tells me and I touch the cut on his lip. Gale is sporting a similar cut on his brow.
My mouth finds its way to the cut and I kiss it softly before I push him gently against the gate's pillar. Peeta pulls me closer and I cover his lips with my own. I tell him how I feel with my kisses because my heart can't take the chance of being rejected.
Peeta grabs my hair gently so he can deepen our kiss. He pulls away and look into my eyes.
"How long is this dinner again?" I ask.
"I can give you a tour of the house," he suggests as he pulls me close again.
I meet his lips again to seal the deal.
A cough interrupts us. I turn to see Wheaton and a small, dark haired woman. She is petite with big brown eyes. The glint on her finger is a large diamond ring that rests on her small hand. I realize that this is Wheaton's wife, Carrie.
She is nothing like I imagined her.
"Hey guys," Peeta greets them and shakes his brother's hand. He kisses Carrie on the cheek and then pulls me over to her. "Carrie, this is my wife Katniss."
"Hello," she greets me with a warm smile and then a hug. "It's nice to finally meet you. I'm sorry that I didn't get to attend your wedding. I was out of town on business."
Wheaton and Peeta walk ahead while I walk along with Carrie into the house. I always thought that Wheaton's wives where the same, that they were all interchangeable. Carrie, however, is not like Wheaton's first wife who was tall, blonde, and a bitch. She is also not like his second wife who was dumber than a post.
"I'm sorry but I don't recall hearing anything about you," I tell her honestly. Carrie smiles at me and I realize that she is very pretty when she smiles. It doesn't seem like she does often especially since she's married to Wheaton who is never happy.
"I'm a bit new," she tells me. "We were only seeing each other for two weeks when we decided to get married."
"Why the rush?"
"I was in love," Carrie replies and we walk into the house. I've been to the Mellark home before but this is my first time as Peeta's wife.
Carrie shakes her head. "He wanted to become partners with my father. We run a very big chain of ethnic breads with our specialties being from the Philippines where my family is from." She looks over at her husband. "Well he got what he wanted."
Her mouth forms a thin line. "I have to pay for other people's mistakes." Carrie looks over at her husband before turning over to me. "I'm glad that we have more girls in the family. Mom tells me that you have a sister."
"Yeah, she's around here somewhere," I reply. We walk into the living room. It is large and comfortable with beige couches. A television is in the corner. Prim is sitting with Peeta's father drinking a glass of soda.
"Katniss!" she goes to me. "This place is amazing!" I forget that she's never come to their home. She turns to Carrie. "Hello."
"Carrie, this is Primrose, my sister."
Prim pulls her into a hug and I am surprised that my sister is taller than Carrie by an inch or two. Peeta grins at Prim's openness and I can see that even a small smile has crawled onto Wheaton's face.
"Please call me Prim," she tells her. "I'm so glad to have another sister."
I love how Prim is so naturally open to anyone while I'm more aloof. She makes up for my shortcomings.
"Rye is on his way," Peeta's father tells us. Rye lives in the Mission so it will take him about twenty or so minutes to get across town.
"Where's mom?" Peeta asks him.
Peeta's father looks up at the loft. "She's coming."
"Peeta, Dad and I want to go over the inventory for the bakery," Wheaton tells him and Peeta glances at me. I guess the tour will have to wait.
"Katniss, why don't you get your mother?" Peeta's father suggests.
Is he fucking insane?
That woman really hates me. Not just a little but a lot.
I look over to Carrie and Prim but they are in deep conversation about native plants of the Bay Area.
Helplessly I nod. "Sure."
Peeta looks at me and shrugs. His father pats my shoulder. "Go on."
I sigh and walk up the stairs. The master bedroom is at the end of the long hall and my feet feel heavy. They are reluctant to move towards the dragon that is waiting on the other end. I finally find myself in front of the door.
I knock softly. When there is no response, I open the door and walk in. The bed is rumpled and the television across from it is blaring.
I hear a groan and rush over to where I hear the sound. Peeta's mom is bent over the toilet. She is pale and sweaty. I grab a glass next to the sink and fill it with water. I help her take a sip and then place it on the floor next to her. I take a nearby face towel and then wet it at the sink. I try not to look at the pill bottles that are on the counter.
I go back to her and wipe her forehead. She looks at me warily.
"Why are you up here?" she says with a groan.
"Dad sent me up," I tell her. After a moment, she nods. "Do you want to go back to bed?"
"No, I should get ready for dinner," she tells me. I help her up.
"What is wrong with you?" I don't mean for it to come out as harshly but she doesn't seem too upset about it.
"Chemotherapy is a bitch, Katniss," she says to me and walks out of the bathroom.
It takes me a moment to register what she has just said. I rush into the room after her. "You have…cancer?" She is looking through her closet.
She pulls out a peach cashmere sweater and then looks at me like I've asked her to speak in Swahili. "I'm not throwing up for nothing."
I sit down on her bed weakly. I still can't believe what I've seen or heard. Peeta's mom sees my anguish and then sits on the bed next to me. This is the closest that she's ever been to me and I can smell her fruity perfume. I never thought that she wore perfume. I guess I believed that she douse herself in anger instead of it.
I meet her eyes. "Are you dying?"
She looks back at me for a moment. I see sadness in her eyes and I notice that they are blue like Peeta's.
"Not today," she tells me softly. "Please don't tell Peeta."
"I can't lie to my husband," I say to her and she nods understandingly.
"I'm not asking you to." She wrings her hands. "Just don't mention what you've seen. I don't want any of the boys to worry. Peeta is so soft-hearted like his father and my husband was a wreck when we first found out."
"He's stronger than you think." I don't realize that I am gripping her hand. "All of them are."
"You and I are alike you know." I almost grimace and she laughs before she continues. "We need to take care of the people we love first. Sometimes we forget that by doing that we shut them out until it's too late. I'm not proud of my behavior but I did what I thought was best."
I had always thought that Peeta's mom was a bat out of hell. Looking back I realize that a lot of her actions were to protect Peeta and his brothers. I understood that she was worried that Peeta was rushing into a marriage with someone who could potentially hurt him.
After a moment, I nod. "I won't tell but don't keep this to yourself too long."
"I won't." She places her hand over mine and I can see that her eyes are soft. "I just want to make sure that everyone is okay. Why do you think I am so keen on Peeta learning business? His father has been very preoccupied with me lately. He will need to take on more responsibility. You will have to support him."
I agree before I help her get into her sweater. Then I make sure that her curly hair is neat. She smiles at me after I am finish and the smile that I love so much is the one that is on her face. I never noticed how much Peeta resembled her.
"Katniss, why don't you call me Mom?" she asks as I help her put her shoes on.
I stop and look up from where I am kneeling on the floor. "I never thought you wanted me to call you Mom." Then I sit back on my feet. "I think I haven't thought about it because I'm not ready to call anyone else Mom."
She pushes my hair out of my eyes. "You can call me Mom when you're ready."
"Okay." Standing up, I help her gently to her feet and we leave the room together. I am careful as we walk down the stairs and she scowls though it is not because she doesn't like me. It is because I treat her as if she is made of glass.
We get to the dining table and I watch my Dad rush over to us. Our eyes meet briefly and I realize that he wanted me to know. Like her, he believes that I am the only one who can handle this.
Because they believe one day that I will become the matriarch of the family.
"Are you okay?" Peeta is by my side and I don't care that his whole family is there. I kiss him briefly on the lips.
When I pull back, I see that his parents look contentedly at us. Wheaton is irritated and Carrie is wistful. Rye who arrived while I was upstairs is not even paying attention because he is already eating. Prim is happy to be surrounded by her makeshift family.
"I'm fine," I tell him. Then I lean closer to him. "You owe me a tour later." I look at everyone at the table and I meet my Mom's eyes. My mom. For now, I will just say it in my head.
When I married Peeta, I thought that the only possible complication would be developing feelings for one another.
Now I've added Gale, Johanna, Carrie and Peeta's mom to my list of complications.
When did falling for Peeta become the easiest part of this marriage?
Thank you for your patience while I healed from my very bad cold. I have bad laryngitis too so I sound so raspy. My boss keeps calling me Adele.
Songs: Daydream Believer by the Monkees
There is a lot going on in this chapter and you've met Carrie who I've briefly mentioned in other chapters. Her relationship with Wheaton has a lot going on.
I took some time thinking about how Peeta and Gale would act towards one another. Then this episode of Sex and the City came on and I figured it out. Their behavior and fight are based on that episode.
Peeta's mom has always been a mystery to me. It's weird that we never find out what made her so angry. I wanted to explore her a little more.
Johanna is here! I love her character. If I could play anyone in the movie, it would be her. I think they'd probably want her taller than me though.
The restaurant that Peeta and Katniss eat in is the Beach Chalet on the Great Highway. It's right next to the beach. I go there with my girlfriends for brunch all the time. The Alemany Farmer's Market is in-between the Mission District and Potrero Hill. You can see the Farmer's Market from the freeway on Saturdays. I use to go there with my Dad when I was a kid.
Seacliff is a luxury neighborhood right by the beach and next to the bridge. I think Robin Williams owned or owns a house there. So it is a pretty high-class neighborhood.
Oh yes, Happy 75th Birthday Golden Gate Bridge!
After the next chapter, there will be big time lapse.
Next: Peeta's POV, more realizations come to light.
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