Thank you for all the wonderful responses for my last chapter! I’m really sorry for making a lot of you cry though.
The Hunger Games Trilogy does not belong to me.
Thank you to Chelzie for keeping me and the fandom together.
You've got your ball
you've got your chain
tied to me tight tie me up again
who's got their claws
in you my friend
Into your heart I'll beat again
Sweet like candy to my soul
Sweet you rock
and sweet you roll
Lost for you I'm so lost for you…
-Dave Matthews (Crash Into Me)
Part Four, Chapter Nineteen: Katniss
One Month Later
“How are you doing, Katniss?” I look up from my table to see the kind eyes of Beetee. When he is here, Beetee likes to check up on all the interns.
“I’m good, Sir,” I reply as I organize the assessment charts that I have to put into an Excel spreadsheet. Most of my job right now consists of inputting information into a computer. Once in a while, I do get to wander into the Architecture Department and look over building designs.
Wiress, the main architect, has taken a liking to me, so she lets me hang around her office on my lunch hour. It’s probably because I share cookies from Peeta’s bakery with her. She lives in a house along Ocean Beach so she is familiar with the bakery.
“Please, call me Beetee,” he says and sits down. He pulls out something from his pocket. “Wiress showed me something that I found really interesting.”
He unfolds a piece of paper which reveals a design that Wiress had drawn up. My notes are written all over it along with corrections on certain areas. It was from a design that was not going forward because the company had decided on another one of her suggestions.
I blush and look at him. “I’m sorry. It wasn’t an insult to Wiress. I’ve been reading up on recycled jean insulation and I thought that this building would be great for it.” I take the pencil from behind my ear. “See?” I circle the areas on the paper he’s placed on the table. “On the exterior wall, it would be perfect.”
“I wasn’t upset,” he tells me with a smile. “I just wanted to compliment you on this design. You have a good eye, Katniss, and that’s a valuable asset to a team. Have you ever considered becoming a consultant?”
“Well, I’d like to after I graduate from school,” I reply.
“I should let you talk to E,” he replies.
“Enobaria, my wife,” Beetee says. “She is Head of the Assessment Team here. If you’re interested, that is.”
“I am!” I can’t believe that this is happening.
“I’ll give her your number.” Pushing his glasses up, he looks at the picture again. “Wiress was right about you. You have potential in the company. My sister has always had an eye for talent.”
“Wiress is your sister?”
“My little sister,” he tells me. “I’m ten years older than her.” Beetee looks over at his watch. “I should be heading off. Come on, I’ll walk you out.”
Peeta should be outside waiting for me already. We promised Prim that we would drop her and Rue off at the Metreon, since we’re not quite ready for her to drive downtown just yet. Wheaton promised to show her the ropes since it can get tricky around Powell Street.
Gathering my things, Beetee and I walk down the hallway towards the exit. He tells me about the house that he and Enobaria have just purchased in Hillsborough.
When we are outside, Beetee spots Peeta’s Chevy. My husband is leaning against the car talking on the phone. He looks up and gives me a grin before saying goodbye to the person on the phone.
“Nice car,” Beetee tells him and holds his hand out. “Walter Beetee, but please, call me Beetee.”
I grin when I hear his first name. “Walter and Wiress, I get it.”
“Yes, our parents were a bit eccentric,” he replies shyly as he shakes Peeta’s hand.
“Peeta Mellark,” my husband says and gives me a wink. “Nice to meet you.”
“I was just telling Katniss to consider a job in standards assessment,” Beetee tells him. “My wife would love to have her on the team.”
“Your wife works here, too?”
Beetee grins proudly. “Yes, she was actually hired by my sister. That’s how we met. She’s brilliant.”
“Then she and Katniss will get along,” Peeta replies and takes my hand.
“I believe so.” Beetee looks at his watch again. “I’d better go. E is expecting me for dinner and she hates to be kept waiting. Nice meeting you, Peeta. Great job today, Katniss.” He takes out his wallet and pulls out his business card. “Please send me your personal e-mail, I’ll let E know about you. I’m going to Japan next week, so expect her e-mail.”
“Will do,” I say. “Have a good trip, Beetee.”
With that, he is gone.
“Wow, you’ve already impressed the boss,” Peeta says and pulls me to him for a kiss. I throw my arms around his neck and he tightens his hold on my waist. I find myself being laid across the hood of the car. One of my hands moves down to grip the back of his shirt and he moans into my mouth.
The fire is still there.
With one last kiss on my neck, Peeta pulls away and helps me to my feet.
“This is probably not the time or place for this,” he says, grinning at me. Peeta opens the passenger door for me and I slip into my seat.
When he is seated at the driver’s side, I turn to him and my fingers find the tip of my braid. “Peeta?”
He turns the keys and the car springs to life. “Hmm?”
“Do you still want me?”
Peeta turns to look at me. After a moment, he turns the key to shut off the engine. His hand reaches behind my neck and he brings my head close to his. He looks at me for a moment and I can see the warmth in his eyes.
“I want you,” he tells me. “I want you so badly that sometimes I want to stop everything just to see you.” My hand reaches out to cup his cheek and he turns to brush his lips on my palm. “I want you to be ready.”
Taking his face in my hands, I kiss him. My kiss isn’t gentle and when I tempt his mouth open, I let my tongue slip in to slightly touch his. Before I pull away, I suck his bottom lip and nip it lightly. I want him to know that he’s not the only who left wanting whenever we touch.
“I’m ready,” I whisper into his ear and Peeta nods. He is at a loss for words.
He stares at me as he settles back into seat. Peeta turns and places his forehead against the steering wheel and closes his eyes.
“You need a minute?” I ask as I look at him.
He nods against the wheel. “Yes, please.”
“Okay, whenever you’re ready to go.”
Turning to look out the window, I try to hide my grin.
When we reach our house, we are surprised to find Johanna and Gale waiting for us. As soon as the car stops, I jump out, worried. Has something happened to Prim?
“Thank God, you’re here,” Johanna says. She takes my arm and leads me up to the front door of the house. “SHE knows.”
“Who knows what?” Gale and Peeta follow and stop on the stairs. I grab my keys from my bag.
“Prim,” Gale tells us. “She knows that there’s something going on with Rory and Rue.”
“What?” Peeta replies. “They haven’t done anything. I’ve seen them together.”
“Don’t be a fucking idiot,” Johanna says to my husband.
I glare at her.
“Sorry,” she apologizes to Peeta and then turns back to me. “Gale and I were in the car waiting for Rory. He said that he was going to come to the bakery to drop off some sheet music for Rue.”
“Well, I was there when he came in,” Peeta says. “He said he was going to wait for you guys to pick him up and then I left.”
“Anyway, when we got here, Rue and Rory were arguing outside,” Gale continues. “Then he grabs her face like this...”
Gale proceeds to demonstrate by cupping Peeta’s face in-between his large hands. I don’t think he realizes exactly what he’s doing but Peeta does. His face turns red.
“Rory leans forward and—“
“Dude.” Peeta interferes before Gale can go any further.
Johanna puts down her phone. “That’s going to be on the ‘Thank You’ cards for the wedding.”
“Can we focus please?” I ask, irritated.
“He kissed her,” Johanna says. “It just happened to be right when Prim was walking one of her tutoring students out.”
I feel my heart sink for Prim. We all knew that Rue and Rory had feelings for one another. However, we hoped that they would confess to Prim about it. No one expected this outcome.
“So Prim sees them and Rue sees her see them,” Gale says. “She runs across the street and into the house. Rory runs after Rue and they all disappeared into your house.”
“And why didn’t you go after them?” I ask angrily.
“The door locks automatically so we couldn’t get in,” Johanna replies. “And Rue left the door to your bakery unlocked, so we stayed to make sure that no one walked in.”
“Oh crap,” Peeta grumbles. “I’m writing her up. I’ll catch up with you guys inside.” He walks down the steps.
“Didn’t you forget to kiss Gale goodbye?” Johanna says with a cackle.
Peeta gives her the finger.
I unlock the door and walk in. I can hear Rue pleading with my sister. Rushing up the stairs, I find her in the hallway. Her head is against the door. Rory sits on the floor and when he sees me, his eyes widen. I don’t realize how upset I must look.
“Move,” I tell Rue and she moves aside quickly. Knocking on the door, I put my mouth next to it. “Prim, it’s me. Open the door, please.”
I hear footsteps and then the knob turns. It opens quickly and Prim, red and puffy-eyed, emerges from the room. Her eyes zero in on Rory who is now sitting up, and then at Rue, who stands next to me.
“Get out,” she tells Rue, her voice cold.
Rue’s lip is trembling. “Please, Prim, I’m so sorry,” she says.
My sister is shaking her head. “You’re not sorry. Don’t lie to me.” She walks toward Rue. For someone so petite, she can be scary.
“It was my fault,” Rory interrupts and he looks at Prim. “I didn’t mean for it to happen, but it did. I used to be your friend. Rue is your best friend. Please, don’t do this to her.”
“I’m doing this to her?” She looks up at him and her eyes are cold. “I didn’t go behind my best friend’s back and take her ex.”
“Please, Prim, tell me what I can do to make this better,” Rue begs, her own face wet.
Prim looks at her. Her eyes are suddenly dry and her voice is hard when she speaks again.
“Choose. You can’t have both of us,” Prim tells her.
For a moment, I can’t quite believe what she has said. Prim has never been so cruel. At the same time, though, she has never been betrayed like this.
Everyone is silent. I watch Rue look between both of them. She steps towards Prim.
“I choose Prim,” she says and her voice breaks as she looks up at Rory. “I’m sorry.”
“Rue, you didn’t lock up,” I say to her. “Peeta will probably want to talk to you.”
She nods wordlessly. Then with a final look at Rory, she walks downstairs.
Prim stands in the hallway with her arms crossed. She doesn’t look happy that Rue chose her, but she doesn’t seem upset either.
“I hope you’re happy,” Rory tells her. “You broke up with me, Prim, remember? I thought we were friends at least. Friends don’t hurt each other. They don’t make them choose.”
Prim’s bottom lip quivers slightly at his words.
“The world doesn’t revolve around you, Prim,” he says. “You can’t make everyone around you miserable just because you’re miserable.”
“Stop,” I tell him suddenly. “Gale and Johanna are downstairs. Go home.” He whips around and stomps down the stairs. I turn to my sister. “Prim—“
She goes right back into her room, slamming the door behind her.
“I wrote her up,” Peeta tells me later that night.
We lay in our new bed. After two weeks on the couch, we decided to bite the bullet and get a new one. While I was recovering from my D&C, Peeta slept on the floor. The moment I saw his slight limp because of it, I took us to a mattress store on Geary.
It’s been hard to get back into the groove of things. I cried for a bit, a mixture of hormones and sadness over our two losses. Peeta has been there, his arms always ready to hold me. His kisses bring me out of my sad days. When his kisses don’t work and I can’t find the will to get up, then he stays in bed with me.
Lately, there have been more good days than bad.
Except for today.
“How did Rue take it?” I ask. I think of her tear-stained face and feel a rush of sympathy for her.
“She just nodded and signed the write up form,” he replies. “I felt horrible. She cried all over the form. So…I ripped it up.” Peeta looks over at me. “I’m too soft, aren’t I?”
I shake my head. “No, you did the right thing,” I tell him. “I really can’t believe that Prim made Rue choose.”
“She’s young and impulsive,” he reasons. “Prim probably didn’t mean it.”
“I guess so.”
Lying back, I turn away from him to turn off my light. My eyes meet the framed sonogram of Bean. One day, I know I’ll have to put the picture away. Instinctively, my finger brushes against the white spot. The dream is still vivid. Her smile, Peeta’s smile, is still engrained in my heart.
I feel him shift and his arm reaches over to pull me to him. I sink my back against his chest and the rest of my body molds itself against him. I feel his lips brush against my shoulder. He moves the strap of the tank I wear aside and kisses the skin there.
A quiet moan escapes my mouth and when I turn, our lips meet. Our kisses are well-practiced and we already know how which caress of the tongue means what. A rough stroke of his tongue tells me to lay back. He wants my obedience. I, of course, do what he asks.
“Take off your shirt,” he orders. I raise an eyebrow and he cracks a grin. “Please?”
Sitting up, I remove my tank top and toss it to the ground. I lay back down and he silently looks me over.
“Close your eyes,” he whispers into my ear.
Once again, I listen and close my eyes. I listen to his soft breathing and then feel his lips on my stomach. He brushes against my skin lightly, but a tingle spreads throughout my body. I clench my thighs together in pleasure.
He alternates between grazing and sucking the skin of stomach. When the tip of his tongue traces up my stomach, I moan again as my hand grabs the back of my pillow.
“Are we…” I can’t finish my sentence because his lips have moved up to my chest.
“What?” he asks, his voice soft.
His mouth finds my nipple and he gives it a light suck. My hips arch and the heat in-between my thighs increases. I hear him chuckle. He is enjoying my lust filled misery.
“Are we going to fuck?” I blurt out. Now I’m glad that my eyes are closed. I don’t want to see his reaction to my outburst.
“No,” I almost burst into tears. “I’m just going to touch your tits until you come.”
He says it so calmly that for a moment, I don’t realize what he’s said.
“What?” I open my eyes and look at him. He gives me a smirk, his lips just barely grazing my collarbone.
Peeta doesn’t respond. Instead, his mouth finds my breasts again. His lips capture my nipple and a hand reaches to my other one, teasing it to a hard peak. I cross my legs creating a friction in my already damp center.
“You’re beautiful,” he says, his mouth against my heated skin. “We’re going to work our way slowly to where we were.” Peeta looks up at me and my heart leaps. “I love you. I don’t want to just fuck you. I want to make love to you. You deserve that.”
And then I am crying. Peeta tears himself away from me. I draw my knees up to my chest.
“Katniss, what’s wrong?” he asks worriedly. “I pushed you, didn’t I?”
I shake my head. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” I say through the tears.
The feelings come in waves and they come unexpectedly. Annie has talked to me about this already. The last time, she suggested an anti-depressant if it didn’t improve. Talks of drugs bring me back to my mother’s time at the ward in UCSF. I tell myself that I can get past this.
When Peeta pulls me to him, I don’t resist. Instead, my head finds its way to his chest and he lays down with me. I can feel him undo my braid. He says that it calms him. I don’t ask for an explanation. I want to bring him whatever sort of comfort I can. He has lost just as much as me.
“It’s okay to be sad,” he tells me. “No one is expecting us to get better right away. We have to heal.”
“How?” I ask and place my hand where I can feel his heart beating.
“Give us time,” he says. “Sometimes, I have a hard time getting up in the morning, too.” He kisses the side of my head.
“I thought I was ready,” I tell him. “I’m so sorry.”
“One day, we’re just going to look at one another and we’re going to know that’s it the perfect moment,” Peeta assures me. “Until then, we take our time. I’m not going anywhere.”
He covers us with the blankets.
We lay in silence for a few minutes. Prim has not bothered to turn any music on. She must have fallen asleep because not a peep has come out of her room.
“Peeta?” I look up at him. “You said ‘tits’, didn’t you?”
He smacks his hand against his forehead, embarrassed. “Yeah, I did.”
“Kind of kinky.” I smile when I see him blush.
“I try,” he replies sheepishly. “I want you to be satisfied.”
“Is there anything I can do?” My hand reaches for his waistband. He is hard and lying against him topless is probably not helping. However, he stops my hand and instead entwines it with his.
“Stay,” Peeta says. “Just stay with me.”
The doorbell rings in the middle of the game. The Giants are batting and bases are loaded. We are in the eighth inning. Peeta is glued to the television with a bowl of cereal in his hands.
“They’re going to mess up,” I joke. “It’s always during these last innings when everything changes.”
Peeta glares at me.
I put my hands up in surrender. Getting up from the couch, I go to the door. When I open it, I’m surprised to find a tall blonde boy in front of me. He looks familiar.
“Can I help you?” I ask.
“Hi, I don’t know if you remember me,” he begins. “My name is Derek. I was just wondering if Prim was home?” He looks at me nervously.
I step aside so he can come in. Peeta’s eyes narrow when he sees the teenage boy.
Big brother Peeta is officially in the house.
“Prim!” I call out. “There’s someone here to see you!”
We hear her door open and her light steps coming down the stairs. Prim enters the room in a black oversized “I Hella Love SF” hoodie and dark grey leggings. Her blond hair is braided in a fishtail over one shoulder and she is barefoot. When I look at her toenails, I notice one set is painted a dark red.
Her eyes, however, are sad and tired with dark circles under them. She hasn’t talked to Rory in a week. Rue calls the house, but their conversations are strained and awkward.
“Derek? What are you doing here?” Prim touches the tip of her braid nervously. “We haven’t had a tutoring session in months.”
“I was in the neighborhood and uh--I was wondering if you were going to the Prom,” he starts. “I mean, I know that you’re helping out with the decorating and everything.”
Peeta has lowered the volume on the television, but his eyes remain on the screen. I stand awkwardly to the side of the teenagers. I don’t want to disrupt anything.
“I was helping, but I’m not sure if I’m going anymore,” she tells him.
“Oh.” He looks disappointed for a moment but then seems to collect himself. “I don’t know if you would reconsider, but I wanted to know if you would come –with me.”
“What?” Prim looks confused.
“Will you go to the Prom with me?” Derek asks.
“Why would you want to go with me?” Prim shifts from one foot to another. “Didn’t you hear about everything that happened? I’m sure that there are other less drama-filled girls that you could take.”
“I want you.” His eyes look at her earnestly. “You’re pretty and smart. I like talking to you.”
Prim is silent for a moment. Then she looks at me.
“Your choice, sweetie,” I tell her and join Peeta on the couch. We wait.
After a moment, she walks over and kisses him on the cheek. “I’d love to.”
Derek’s face lights up and he picks Prim up and lifts her into the air. She giggles at his behavior. I put my hand on Peeta’s shoulder to stop him from getting up and pummeling the boy.
“Stand down,” I say. He looks at me for a moment before giving me a light kiss on the lips.
“What was that for?”
“Your smile,” he tells me. “You haven’t smiled like that in a long time.”
For a quick second, I can’t believe what I’ve seen. What was SHE doing there? I’m never jealous, but there was a familiarity in their movements. Something too close for people who have only seen one another during an event for Snow.
I’ve had coffee with Glimmer. She was at the memorial service. I considered her a friend.
I’m an idiot.
Don’t cry. I’m practically across the street from home. The home I’ve created with my husband. The lying, cheating—
I slam into someone. When I look up, I see the concerned face of Cato. “Hey, Katniss. You okay?”
I’m so choked up. Don’t cry. I just shake my head and he puts an arm around me.
“Katniss!” Peeta is running over to me. Glimmer is behind him. Her thigh high boots make it difficult to run. They both look upset.
“Don’t talk to me, Mellark,” I say. “Sleep at Dad’s tonight. Get your stuff now—“
“Katniss, have I given you any reason to not trust me?” Peeta asks me.
I think for a moment. “No.” His hand goes to my face. “Don’t touch me!” Peeta draws back, hurt.
“You don’t understand,” Glimmer says to me. “It’s not what you think.”
“Why don’t we take this inside?” Cato suggests gently and leads me back to the bakery. He meets their eyes and both of them glare at him. They look almost…jealous.
In the bakery, Cato leads me to a table away from the window. “Have a seat, darling.” He pulls out the chair for me, then proceeds to sit next me. Glimmer takes the seat across from him. After Peeta puts up the ‘On Break’ sign at the door, he sits across from me. I clasp my hands and place them on top of the table.
I see Peeta reach over but he stops himself. Glimmer looks at me nervously.
“I’ll start, since Katniss here is about ready to divorce the good baker,” Cato says jokingly. He receives death stares from Peeta and Glimmer.
Reaching into the laptop case that I didn’t realize he was been carrying, Cato hands me a folder. I carefully open it and pick out the first piece of paper in it. It is a phone transcript and I realize that they are Snow’s transcripts. The conversation is in regards to a donation increase for his campaign.
“Who is Perry Heinrich?” I ask as I read over the transcript. “And why is Snow asking for this much money?”
“Perry Heinrich is my father,” Glimmer says. “I used my mother’s maiden name in high school.” It makes sense. The Heinrich family owns a lot of property in San Francisco, and has contributed to many of the city’s projects. Anyone with that last name is bound to get attention.
“He’s asking for that amount because he gave my father a building license that wasn’t legit. My father owns a senior care facility in Noe Valley. A few years ago when it was inspected, they found a lot wrong with the building. They wanted it to be shut down. We made the improvements, but it would have taken longer to get approved. Snow helped him, but at a price.” She looks at me with tears in her eyes. “My grandmother stays at the facility. She has Alzheimer’s and needs constant care. Not to mention the other people there, it’s their home. We couldn’t let it get shut down.”
I nod wordlessly.
“I work for the SFPD,” Cato tells me. “We have been investigating Snow for a while now. I came across Glimmer’s case about two years ago when I was first hired. It seemed strange for someone who was working for CPS to have a file like hers, so I reached out to her. She told me everything. Then your file came up and I wanted to see if the same thing that happened to Glimmer would happen to you. It did. The Heinrich family has money, so that’s where he gets that from. But the Mellarks are loved, and that’s how he decided he would get the votes for his campaign.”
“After our first event with Snow, Cato came here,” Peeta tells me. “He explained who he was working for. He told me that he had the office tapped during certain days. The conversation that Snow had with us was recorded.”
“There is a lot at stake if we move forward now, however,” Cato continues. “Your case for one, CPS will be all over it. Haymitch and Effie will definitely be investigated. So will Glimmer’s Dad. The piece of news that I wanted to tell you is this - the place in Puerto Vallarta? There’s nothing there but women coming in and out of it.”
“So it’s like a brothel?” I ask.
“Yes, and it is not exactly frowned upon there especially if you have the money to front it,” Cato replies. He looks frustrated. “I feel like it’s just a grasp away. We’re almost there. How about you, Peeta? Any news?”
“Rogelio has seen the building. No windows on the bottom floors. No noise. I’ll ask him to continue looking.” Finally, Peeta turns to me. “Katniss—“
“You kept a secret from me.” I look him straight in the eyes. “I thought we were partners. Friends. You’ve never kept a secret from me.” I stand up and he does, too. I hold my hand to stop him from following me. “I need a minute.”
Before anyone can say anything, I go to the kitchen. Once inside, I push myself onto a counter and close my eyes for a moment. I’m overwhelmed by everything. How long has Peeta been keeping this from me? I’m hurt, most of all, because he hid something from me.
“He was protecting you, you know.” I open my eyes and Glimmer is standing in the kitchen. I feel my hands clench when I see her. Back-stabber. She approaches me carefully. “Nothing is going on with Peeta and I. You’re my friend, Katniss, and I would never do that to you.”
“Friends? You were keeping this from me, too!”
Glimmer stands next to me. “I did what I had to do,” she tells me. “This is important. Cato has invested a lot of time in it. My father lives in fear and his health isn’t the best, so it’s up to me to see this through.”
I can understand that she wants to protect her father. The thought of her touching Peeta, however, still squeezes my insides. I feel like I can’t breathe and the memory of their simple hug makes me hurt.
Being in love sucks.
“There’s someone else, too,” she says quietly, her eyes glowing. They look sweet and soft.
“Is it Cato?” I ask. “He’s attractive enough, I guess.”
She shakes her head. “Cato is like brother to me, a really annoying brother. He has a little too much, too.”
“No, a little too much penis,” she tells me bluntly. “Katniss, I like girls.”
“Huh?” I look over at her. “Have you always liked girls, or is this recent?”
“No, I’ve been sure of it for a long time,” Glimmer says. “Not many people know, though.”
“And this person that you like is a girl?”
“Yes, I thought we established that,” she replies. “I’ve liked her since high school.”
“Have you ever thought of looking her up?”
“No, didn’t have to. I already know what happened to her.”
“So what happened?”
“She ran off and married a baker.” Glimmer looks down at her boots.
It takes me a full minute to process what she’s told me. Then it finally hits me.
“Glimmer…” Her eyes meet mine. “I didn’t know. I’m sorry, if I did anything that might have led you on…”
She shakes her head. “I know you love Peeta. Even back then I knew, but I couldn’t help but light up when you were around.” Tears fall from her eyes. “It’s not quite what I wanted, but its close enough for me.” Glimmer wipes my eyes. “Please don’t stop being my friend.”
“Never,” I assure her. “But you shouldn’t settle for close enough.” I take her hand. “One day, there’s going to be someone who blows me out of the water.”
“I hope so,” she replies. “Or I’m screwed.” Glimmer lets out a choked laugh. “Thanks, Katniss.”
“For making me happy for a very long time,” she says. “Peeta had better do the same.”
“I plan on it,” Peeta says, appearing in the doorway. “That is, unless Katniss decides to divorce me.” His tone is light but his eyes aren’t.
“I’ll let you two talk,” Glimmer says as she walks over to him. Giving his shoulder a squeeze, she walks out.
Peeta walks over to where I’m sitting. “Are you mad?”
I reach over and run my fingers through his hair. “Yes.”
“Are you leaving?” He moves his body closer between my dangling legs.
He lied. That doesn’t stop the voice in my head from saying that he wanted to protect me. If I was in his shoes, I would’ve done the same thing. My reasoning sounds ridiculous.
However, my foolish heart speaks for me.
“So what’s going on?” Prim asks as we sit at the kitchen table.
Peeta and I sit on the opposite side. We don’t really want to have this conversation but with prom approaching, it needs to be done.
“Prom is coming up,” I start and then look over at Peeta then to her again. “We know what happens during Prom.”
“Oh, you mean sex,” Prim says calmly.
“Yes, sex,” I reply. “I know we’ve had this talk before about the basics. We’ve never really talked about how people end up having sex.”
“Well, people have sex because they want to have sex,” she replies.
“Not all the time,” Peeta says. “Sometimes people are drunk or emotional. Sometimes they use sex as a weapon.”
“Have you ever used sex as a weapon?” Prim looks straight at him when she asks.
“No, but I know someone who has,” he tells her. I turn to him, curious. “I’m sure you know who it is, Katniss.”
Clove, of course.
“You guys think that I’m going to have sex with Derek because it’s Prom?”
My face burns in embarrassment, while Peeta’s cheeks have two bright red spots on each.
“It’s not impossible,” Peeta manages to say. “Things happen.”
“I’m not a sex fiend,” Prim tells us. “Not like you two.”
“We weren’t always like this!”
“Interesting,” Prim says and clasps her hand together. Placing them on the table, she leans forward. “So, you made each other sex fiends?”
Peeta looks over at me and I can hear him groan in frustration. We are being one upped by a sixteen year old.
“Sex can be good,” Peeta finally says. “With the right person.”
“So everyone else before my sister was horrible?” she asks and then Prim looks at me. “And the same for you, you think every other guy was bad?”
“No,” Peeta says.
“Yes,” I tell her.
“You think that everyone else sucked before me?” Peeta asks and takes my hand. He turns so his knees face my chair and he pulls me over to sit on his lap. He looks up at me with a proud glint.
“Keep in mind that I don’t have much to go on,” I reply. “Obviously, you’ve had better experiences. I suppose Clove was good for something.”
“I’ve never made love to anyone else but you,” he says to me. “That’s ten times better than any other experience. Sit down, Prim.”
I look over and Prim is halfway off her chair.
“Dammit,” she mutters as she sits back down. “I’m not going to do anything. Believe me.”
“We do believe you,” I tell her. “We’ve been there, though, so we know that things can get out of hand.” I hesitate before reaching into my cardigan pocket. “Take these. You might not need them now, but you could later.”
“Much later,” Peeta adds. “Like when you’re forty.”
Prim picks up the box and then looks at us. She is insulted by our lack of trust in her. “Condoms?”
“Yes, condoms,” I say. “You have any questions?”
Prim doesn’t respond. Instead, she opens the box and takes out one of the foil packets. Ripping it open, she grabs a banana from the fruit bowl in the middle of the table. She then proceeds to unroll the condom onto the banana holding the tip of it expertly as she does.
Then she places it in front of us.
With that, she leaves the table.
“It is really beautiful up here,” I say as I look out at the scenic view on the deck. The house is gorgeous, with floor to ceiling windows and wood in-between. Solar panels are placed atop the ceiling. “Thanks for letting us come over, Beetee.”
We are having dinner in Beetee and Enobaria’s Hillsborough home. I have been trading e-mails with the couple for the last week. Enobaria invited us over for Friday night dinner in her last e-mail.
“Of course,” he says as he hands me a glass of wine. “You have a lovely family.”
I look over at Prim who is sitting at the edge of the pool. Her feet dangle in the water. Next to her is Bailey, Beetee and Enobaria’s dog. Bailey sits contently as Prim scratches the back of his ears. The little Pomeranian has been by her side since we arrived about fifteen minutes ago.
Peeta is chatting with Wiress and Bru, Enobaria’s brother. My husband meets my eyes and gives me a wink.
“They keep me young,” I reply jokingly. “When should we be expecting Enobaria?”
“I’m here!” Enobaria shouts as she walks out onto the deck. Her heels click on the wood as she rushes towards us. “I’m so sorry I was late, darling!” She gives Beetee a quick kiss and he blushes. She turns and gives me a bright smile. “You must be Katniss!” Enobaria gives me a hug and I can smell her daisy scented perfume.
“It’s really nice to meet you, Enobaria.”
She is beautiful. Her dark hair is wrapped in a thick bun at the nape of her head and her skin is bronzed. The dark grey dress that she is wearing is smooth over the curves of her body. She is wearing stillettos and she towers over her husband in them. He doesn’t seem to mind.
“E, please,” she tells me. “My actual name is a mouthful. Not as bad as my brother’s, though.” She leans down next to my ear. “His full name is Brutus. He hates it when I tell people.”
Peeta comes over to us. “E, this is my husband Peeta,” I tell her. “Peeta, this is E.”
“E?” He shakes her hand. “It’s not Enobaria?”
“Did my brother tell you?”
“What a butthead,” she mutters. Peeta laughs and I take his hand.
Prim approaches us shyly. She is holding Bailey in her arms. When the dog sees his master, he begins to bark happily.
“Oh, Bailey!” E takes the dog who is struggling to get to his owner. “I see you have a new friend.” E gives my sister a kind smile. “You must be Prim. I’m Enobaria, but please, call me E.”
“You’re so tall. You’re like a supermodel,” Prim says in amazement.
“Hardly, darling.” E slips off her heels with one hand as she holds Bailey with the other. Without them, she is the same height as her husband. “See? I’m back to Earth.” She looks over at Beetee. “Dinner’s ready.” She whistles at Bru and Wiress, who grab their glasses of wine so they can head inside.
Peeta and I follow them into the house. Prim walks adoringly next to E.
“Are you jealous?” Peeta asks me. “I think Prim has a new idol.”
“Of course not,” I reply and I turn to him. We stop in front of the sliding glass door. “As long as I’m still your idol.”
Peeta pulls me to him and I wrap my arms around his neck. He gives me a quick kiss. “I don’t want you to get in trouble with your boss.” I smile up at him, though the guilt runs through me.
He hasn’t put a hand on me since the night that I cried. I know that we should take our time. I’ve talked to Annie and told her about that night. She prescribed a mild anti-depressant, but I haven’t taken it. I don’t want false happiness or false healing. I want it to be real.
Even if it takes forever to be okay.
That doesn’t stop me from feeling bad for Peeta. Once upon a time, we had great sex. Now we can barely touch one another without me having some sort of fit.
“You okay?” Peeta is looking over at me. “You blanked out for a bit.”
I give him a weak smile. “I’m fine,” I reply. Everyone is at the table and looking at us curiously. We walk into the house and Peeta closes the door behind him. After he pulls out my chair for me, Peeta takes the seat next to me. Prim sits on my other side.
“So Katniss, how long have you and Peeta been married?” Bru asks as he starts serving himself from the salad bowl. He has the same coloring as E. While her eyes are more almond shaped, Bru’s eyes are narrow.
“About two years,” I reply as I place my napkin on my lap.
“Seems longer,” Prim remarks offhandedly.
Wiress, who sits next to Bru, gives me a smile before addressing Prim. “How so?”
“They liked each other way before then,” Prim says. “Everyone knew it but them. I wasn’t really surprised when they got married.” She looks over at us. “Katniss and Peeta always seemed to be the one thing I could rely on. No matter what has happened, they’ve stuck together.”
I feel my eyes water. Not now. I feel Peeta pat my thigh under the table.
“Well said, Prim,” Beetee tells her. “It is nice to have something that you can rely on.”
“How did you and E meet one another?” Peeta asks as he caresses my thigh. What was supposed to be a gesture of comfort causes a heat to travel throughout my body.
“I was actually Bru’s roommate at Cal Poly,” he tells us. “He was in Engineering while I was in Environmental Architecture. When I first started my company, it was just Wiress and I.”
“I was actually looking for a roommate for my apartment in SOMA,” Wiress continues. “I knew Bru through Beetee and he suggested his younger sister, E.”
“I had just earned my Business degree from San Jose State,” E says, taking over where Wiress left off. “Since she knew my major, Wiress wanted me to help in organizing the company. They had probably 20 employees then, but the number was steadily growing.”
“I remember the day I met her.” Beetee looks over at his wife with a grin. “Dark cropped hair and a very short skirt.”
“I told her not to wear it,” Bru added. “It didn’t look professional. E was convinced that she would get hired based on her skills.”
“And I did!” E looks at her brother triumphantly. “I also got a date, too.” Beetee blushes at the statement.
“Were you mad when you found out that Beetee and E were together?” Prim asks Bru. “I mean, you were friends with him first and all. And E is your sister…”
“You don’t have to answer,” I tell Bru.
“No, that’s fine,” he replies. “I was at the beginning. Wiress talked me down though. She told me that they were in love. They were happy and that wasn’t going to change even if I didn’t talk to them.” He gives his sister a smile. “If you spend your time angry, then you miss out on other wonderful things and wonderful people. E, Beetee and Wiress are my family. I didn’t want to miss out on any moments with them.”
Prim remains silent for the rest of the evening.
“Can I ask you guys something?” Prim asks as we drive back to the city. We are on the 101, just passing Candlestick Park.
“Shoot,” Peeta tells her and then looks over at me.
“Do you think I’m being selfish about Rue and Rory?” she asks quietly.
“Do you think you’re being selfish?” I reply carefully and I turn to look at her from the front seat.
“I hate being mad at them,” Prim admits to us. “Everyone is telling me that it’s messed up.”
“What do you think?” Peeta asks. “Fuck everyone else.”
“I’m tired.” Prim wipes her eyes and tries to stop her trembling lip. “I just hate admitting that I was wrong. Also, I guess I always assumed that it would be Rory and me.”
“And now?” I meet Peeta’s eyes and he is already making the appropriate lane changes.
“I’m not sure of anything.” She looks at me from the rearview mirror. “I guess that’s how it supposed to be though when you’re my age.”
Prim is silent for a moment. We wait for her.
Finally, she speaks. “Can we make a stop at Rory’s house?”
“Already on our way,” Peeta tells her and I put a hand on his thigh. I can feel him tense at my touch and he looks over at me. I tease him, he teases me. It’s a vicious cycle that neither one of us wants to escape.
“Thanks.” Prim goes quiet as we exit onto Brisbane. I already know the route. We had a high school friend who we use to have some great parties in his house around this neighborhood. We find our way out of Brisbane and into the Excelsior. We can take Ocean Avenue into the Sunset District where Rory’s house is.
“You okay there?” I ask her.
“Nervous, I guess,” Prim replies. She looks determined, however.
When we are finally parked in front of the house, I turn to look at Prim. “What are you going to say?”
“I’m going to say that I don’t want to miss out on any moments with either of them,” she tells me.
Taking a deep breath, she gets out of the car. We watch her walk to the front of the house. The Hawthorne home is similar to all the other houses on the block, two floors with a metal gate opening. When she rings the doorbell, we can see Rory coming down the stairs.
When he pushes open the gate, Rory doesn’t hesitate to pull her in for a hug. We can hear Prim sobbing.
“That’s nice,” Peeta says as we watch them. He looks over at me. “If only it had been that easy with Gale and me.”
“Yes,” I reply with a laugh. “Isn’t fighting each other an equivalent, though? Should I call Gale and tell him that you need a hug?”
Peeta puts an arm around me and I scoot so that I am nestled against his body. I reach over to turn the radio on.
“If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there…”
“How very Haight-Ashbury of you,” Peeta tells me. “I think my song choices are rubbing off on you.”
“I’m named after a plant, so what did you expect,” I reply.
“Looks like Prim and Rory are friends again.”
I look over and Prim is talking to him animatedly. Rory has an arm around her.
“They look like adults,” I say.
“They’re only sixteen,” he tells me.
“Soon they’ll be going to college.” I rest my head on his shoulder. “She’ll be out of the house.” It’s hard to fathom that Prim is old enough to drive, to go to the prom, and even have sex. I cringe at this thought.
“Are you having empty nest syndrome already?” I meet his eyes as he looks down at me. Even he looks older to me; it’s all in his eyes. There’s a change in them. I can’t really place it.
“Don’t be stupid,” I say softly. “I’m not sentimental.”
“You’re her mother, Katniss.” He looks into my eyes and I reach over to trace his chin. “Everything great about Prim is because of you. So it’s okay to be sad about her growing up.” He leans down and brushes his lips over mine. “When she’s gone, you’ll still have me.”
“I know I don’t tell you enough, but thank you for loving me.” I reach up to kiss the corner of his mouth. He looks at me for a moment, his eyes dark. My stomach flips.
“Come here,” he growls and our lips meet again. I suck at his bottom lip and he groans. I laugh into his mouth hearing it and Peeta slips his tongue into mine. I eagerly respond, letting my tongue dance slowly against his. He caresses his lips against mine and my hands reach for the back of his head. I grab his hair and he pulls me to him so that my chest is pressed against his.
We pull apart to see Prim and Rory staring at us from my open window.
“Hi Rory,” I manage to say.
“Hey, Katniss,” he replies, grinning. “Hey, Peeta. Sorry to bother you while you were, uh—busy.” I look down and realize that Peeta’s hand is somewhere it shouldn’t be. I quickly move it off my chest.
“Sorry,” Peeta say quietly.
“Do you see what I have to deal with?” Prim tells him.
“They’re not so bad.”
“Did I tell you that they gave me condoms? Apparently, they think I’m a sex fiend like them.”
He grins. “Wait till I tell Gale and Johanna!”
I try not to cover my face.
“Prim?” I knock on her door. “Derek is downstairs. I wouldn’t leave him down there too long with your brothers.”
“I’m ready. You can come in.”
I open the door and gasp. Prim stands before me in a one-shoulder mauve dress. The strap is decorated with roses and the gathered waist emphasizes her womanly figure. The skirt reaches above her knees and on her feet is are delicate, silver-strapped heels.
Cinna did a great job on her hair. Her hair is braided but Cinna has tucked the tail so that the back resembles an elegant chignon, while the top of her head is teased so there is volume at the top. Jewels are placed around her hair.
She is perfect.
“You look beautiful,” I say tenderly. “Wait until Derek sees you!” I look around. “Where’s Rue?”
“I’m here.” Rue walks into the room in a burnt orange dress. It is knee-length like Prim’s, but the skirt is more voluminous. The sweetheart neckline emphasizes her slight bust. The front part of her hair is pinned back, while the rest of her hair is in tight curls against her shoulders. She looks worriedly at Prim. “Do you think that Derek’s friend will like it?”
“He is going to adore you,” Prim assures her.
They have made up nicely and seem to be closer than ever.
“I’m going to make sure that no one has killed Derek down there,” I tell Prim. She nods happily and suddenly she is in my arms. “You look like an angel.”
“But I’m all devil,” she replies jokingly. “Just kidding.”
“We’ll see you downstairs.”
I close the door and walk slowly down the stairs. I wish Mom and Dad were here more than ever. I just hope they think that I’m doing a good job.
When I get to the last step, I see Derek sitting in the rocking chair in the corner of the room. Peeta, Wheaton, and Rye sit on the couch. Dad sits in the chair opposite Derek. I smile at the fact that all of them have cameras resting on the coffee table.
“So Derek, what do you plan to major in?” Wheaton asks when I walk in.
“I’m not really sure,” Derek replies and looks over at me.
“Why?” My brother continues his interrogation.
“Because I’m sixteen and don’t know what college I’ve gotten into,” my sister’s date says. Wheaton crosses his arms in disapproval.
“What kind of car do you drive?” Rye asks next.
“A Honda Civic.”
“Are you a racer?”
“Do you race?” Rye repeats with a glare. “I don’t want my sister riding with anyone who can get in her in a potential accident.”
“I’m not a racer, Sir,” Derek responds shakily. “I would never do anything to hurt Prim.”
Peeta looks at his brothers and then at Derek. “I’m just going to be honest. You hurt Prim, then we hurt you. I have an oven across the street and I swear to God, I’ll throw you in it if you hurt her. “ Rye and Wheaton nod in agreement.
Derek pales considerably.
“Now boys,” Dad says. “Calm down.” He gives Derek a reassuring smile. “Excuse the boys, they are VERY protective of their little sister.”
“Prim is going to kill you if you scare her date away,” I tell them. “You’ve seen her angry, too.”
The boys retreat and laugh at how they simultaneously sit back on the couch.
“I’m coming down,” Prim says from the top of the stairs.
The boys grab their cameras and even Dad takes out a large Canon camera from behind his seat. When I catch his eyes, he smiles sheepishly.
“I never had a daughter to do this for,” he tells me.
When Prim comes down the stairs, a collective sigh is heard. Derek sits up quickly and goes to her.
“Wow Prim, you look beautiful—“ A loud cough from Peeta interrupts him. “—you look nice.”
Prim looks at the boys, who pretend not to notice her glare. “Thanks. Is that for me?” She is looking at the box that he is holding.
“Yes,” he says quickly. Derek fumbles with the box and I walk over to help him. He looks at me gratefully. “Thanks, Mrs. Mellark.”
It’s strange to hear myself being called Mrs. Mellark. I realize once again that Mom is gone and it hurts. I look up to see Dad staring at me. His eyes are sad as if he just realized the same thing.
“Call me Katniss,” I tell Derek.
He nods and slips the corsage on Prim’s wrist. She blushes when their eyes meet.
“You really look beautiful,” he says quietly.
“Um—Derek?” Rue stands awkwardly. “Where’s my date?”
Derek looks at his watch and then at her. “Should be here any minute.” The doorbell rings. “Right on time!”
“I’ll get it,” Prim says and goes to the door.
When she opens it, Rory and Gale stand outside. Gale looks hurried.
“Sorry I’m late.” Rory walks into the room. “I accidentally ripped the hem on one of the pant legs and my Mom had to sew it back.” He sees Rue’s shocked face and smiles. “You look pretty.”
Rue turns to Prim. “What’s going on?”
My sister takes her hand and brings her over to Rory. She takes his hand as well.
“I love you both,” she tells them. “And I was surprised that this happened, but I don’t want to miss out on everything wonderful that could happen. I would be hurting myself if I stopped being friends with you two.” Her eyes shine with tears. “We’re supposed to have an awesome senior year together, right?”
“Right,” Rue agrees in a choked voice.
Prim takes both of their hands and put Rory’s hand over Rue’s.
“We should get going,” Prim says suddenly. “Come on, everyone. Take your pictures and let’s do this.”
I laugh at her bluntness. Peeta and his brother take picture after picture. Dad and Gale only take the important poses unlike Rye, who keeps on taking ones of Prim adjusting her corsage.
Before Prim leaves, she rushes towards me and hugs me tightly. I feel the tears well up. She’s going to the Prom. My Prim is going to the Prom.
I realize that I have become a mother like Peeta said. Maybe even before Bean.
“You really do look beautiful,” I tell her and try to keep the tears from springing up. “Have fun.”
“I might sleep over Rue’s tonight,” she says and I look at her. “It’s the truth.”
“Okay, be safe,” I reply.
They leave in a flurry. Gale follows them out since he promised Johanna that they would actually go out to dinner. They had been saving for their wedding and Johanna was now tired of Top Ramen.
“We should go,” Dad says suddenly.
“Why?” Rye asks loudly.
“Because Prim is not in the house for once, dumbass,” Wheaton says and smacks the back of his head. Rye responds by pushing him and the two somehow end up wrestling one another.
“Boys!” Dad interrupts as Wheaton has managed to get Rye’s arms behind his head. “Let’s go.”
“Okay, okay,” Rye grumbles and picks up the gym bag that he brought with him. He was planning to head over after taking pictures of Prim. “Oh wait!” He reaches in and hands a can of Red Bull to Peeta. “Just in case you need an upper.” He winks at me.
My brother-in-law can be a douche sometimes.
“Carrie is probably waiting for me,” Wheaton says and he kisses my cheek. “Prim looked beautiful. I can’t wait to see the pictures.”
“Thanks for coming.” I walk over to Dad and he pulls me in for a hug. “What was that for?”
“You’ve done a wonderful job with her,” he says as we pull away. “I swear it was Suzanne walking down the stairs when I saw her.”
“She really takes after Mom, doesn’t she?”
“And you,” Dad replies. “Have a good night, you two. We’ll see you on Sunday.”
Then we are alone.
I turn to Peeta after I’ve closed the door. Peeta stand across me and we look at one another for a moment.
“Hi,” I finally say.
“Hi.” Peeta walks over to me slowly and I press my back against the door. He cups the side of my face and pulls me in for a kiss. As we separate, I wrap my arms around his waist, pulling his pelvis closer to mine. “What are you doing?”
“I don’t know,” I reply. It is just hitting me that we are alone. We haven’t been in a really long time. Maybe since our first anniversary and our second one had come and gone without a thought. “I’m nervous.”
“We don’t have to do anything,” Peeta replies and puts his hands on my shoulders. “Do you remember what I said? Tell me, Katniss. Is this the right moment?”
Though I want it to be this moment, there is something in me that holds back. I shake my head and he nods in agreement.
“No, it’s not,” I say.
“Okay.” Peeta takes my hand and pulls me away from the door. “We can do other things?”
He goes to my Dad’s stereo system. He bought it in the eighties and because he rarely used it, it’s still in good shape. Peeta stares at the system for a moment.
“Having some trouble?” I tease. “It isn’t exactly an iPod, is it?”
“I can manage to find the power button, Sweetheart.” He looks again and then snaps his finger. Turning it on, he rotates the tuning knob until he finds a song he likes. Walking over to me, he holds out his hand with a hopeful smile. “Dance it off?”
I take his hand and he pulls me to him. His hand rests on the lower part of my back and he gently pushes my body closer to his. Our foreheads rest against one another and I close my eyes we listen to the music.
“I'm not the sort of person who falls in and quickly out of love
But to you, I give my affection, right from the start.
I have a lover who loves me - how could I break such a heart?
Yet still you get my attention…”
I open my eyes and see Peeta looking at me. “Can I ask you a question?” He nods. “When did you realize that you loved me?”
He thinks for a moment. “I think it was when we were eight. I decided to run away because I spilled flour all over the kitchen floor and I was afraid of Mom.”
“I remember,” I tell him and press my cheek against his. “You were going to live in that cave next to the Cliff House.”
“You told me that you would come with me,” he says into my ear and his lips travel near my neck. “You even made us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.”
“Nice to know that my cooking skills are still the same,” I reply.
“You didn’t even hesitate.” We move slowly to the music. “I knew that it would always be me and you. We would always take care of each other. That was it. I loved you.”
I wipe my eyes and place my head on his shoulder. “Thanks for telling me.”
He doesn’t respond. Instead, Peeta pulls me closer.
We dance it off late into the night.
“Hold me up in the palm of your hand
Lying to you is a river of sin
Your metaphors, your silent calls
Your feelings are too real
Let them spew, a fall from grace
Would do us good today…”
I open my eyes when I hear my phone buzz. Opening one eye, I pick up my phone to find a text from Prim: ‘I’m safe. At Rue’s. I’ll be home in the afternoon’.
Placing the phone back on my side table, I reach over to lower the volume of the clock radio. Peeta usually wakes up at this time to open the bakery. Dad, however, has been opening it on the weekends. He needed something to occupy his time.
I look over at Peeta who is fast asleep. We finally dragged ourselves to bed after midnight. I only managed to throw on a t-shirt before passing out. Peeta managed to pull some pajama pants on before succumbing to exhaustion.
I find myself watching him sleep. He looks younger. His hair is mussed and I can see a light mustache growing on his upper lip. It’s hardly noticeable. I remember when he first started shaving, he’d come to school all cut up. I brush his hair away from his eyelids and he sighs in his sleep.
The sun is just beginning to rise and the light begins to crawl into our bed. It is just at the edge, lighting up my feet. I move closer to my husband and put my head against his chest. I can hear the steady beating of his heart and it brings me comfort.
He is real. We are real.
Then I know that this is the moment.
Looking down, I can see that he is hard. The morning erection was the first thing that I had to get used to when we began sleeping in the same bed.
I look up at his sleeping face and push up on my elbow for balance. I place kisses all over to stir him awake. He remains unaware and in a blissful slumber. I continue my assault and place my lips on his brow then on his cheeks. Peeta moans and I feel myself getting wet just hearing it.
I straddle him without another thought and adjust rubbing my center against his length. I lean down and kiss behind his ear. When I lick the same spot, he finally awakens. His hands cup my rear and his hips jerk as our clothed parts come into contact again.
When my lips find his, our eyes also meet.
“Good morning,” I whisper as I look at him.
He stares up at me. “This is the moment, isn’t it?” Peeta already knows my answer and he reaches for my braid. He hesitates and looks at me for consent.
“Go ahead,” I tell him and he unravels it.
In turn, I sit up and he hisses at the feeling. I reach for the tie at his waistband and slowly undo it. His hands find the bottom of my shirt and he reaches under to caress my waist. I pull the shirt over my head and I am topless in front of him. The air is cool and I feel my nipples harden. Peeta’s hands reach to cup my breasts and his thumbs run over my hardened peaks. The feeling of the rough pads of his thumbs against my sensitive flesh causes a twist in my belly.
I manage to get on my knees from my position so I can pull his bottoms past his knees. He kicks them the rest of the way off. He holds my hips and I pull my now damp panties down to my knees. It takes some maneuvering, but before long they’re off and I toss them to the ground.
Peeta guides me so that my core is just over his tip. I feel him just barely grazing me. I want him in me so badly.
“Is this real?” he asks suddenly. “If not, then I’m having one hell of a dream.”
I put my hand on his cheek. “Baby, it’s real.”
With that, I sink down onto his length. Every nerve inside me comes alive.
I rise again and when I am just barely out, I bring him back into me.
“You’re amazing,” he says as we move.
I don’t speak because I can barely think. All I can feel is the sensation of him and my insides clench at the thought. I let out a moan at the feeling and Peeta’s hands find my breasts again. He tugs at my nipples and my hips buck.
My hands run over his body and I touch his shoulders. I continue down towards his flexed biceps as he touches me and run my hands over his hard chest. My fingers brush over his nipples and this time his hips jerk up.
“I love you,” I tell him as we move. He looks up at me in surprise. I’m never this sentimental, but am overwhelmed by the feeling of being with him. Leaning down, our lips meet and he speeds up. I meet his thrusts as I rip my lips away and groan against his mouth.
“I love you, Katniss. I’ve always loved you,” he says to me.
I come. The orgasm travels from the tips of my toes, up my body, and out of my mouth.
I shout his name. Thank goodness Prim isn’t here.
“Turn around,” he says and I comply. He hisses as he slips out of me. I turn to look at him curiously. “Sensitive.”
Peeta gets on his knees. He pulls me to him and my bare back is against his chest. On my knees, I lean forward and he thrusts himself back in. The suddenness surprises me and my insides clench around him.
“Are you okay?” I croak out. My voice is hoarse. I am exhausted and lean the back of my head on his shoulder. I worry about hurting him. I run my hand along where his thigh meets the prosthetic. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I’m fine.” He kisses the side of my neck. Peeta continues to trail kisses up and behind my ear. He bites it lightly. His hands move lazily over my breasts. “Touch yourself.”
“What?” I turn to look at him. He kisses me softly.
“Touch yourself,” he repeats and moves my hand over my clit. With my index finger and my middle finger, I caress the nub. Something stirs in me again and he slowly moves within me. The ache is different, but it still causes a spark.
Peeta puts an arm over my stomach and I lean slightly forward. The angle causes him to go deeper and I sag against him in pleasure. His arm keeps me from toppling face down onto our mattress and I can tell that he is on the edge. My fingers circle over my bundle of nerves quickly. We will finish together.
“I missed this,” he tells me and I turn to kiss him. Peeta’s movements begin to increase. They become harsher and I respond by pushing my hips in sync with him. There is nothing better than having my husband come undone.
That thought alone brings me to the edge. I whimper into his mouth as I do.
Pulling his mouth away, he cries out. “KATNISS!” Peeta thrusts once, then twice. I feel him filling me.
I fall back against him as I gasp for breath and turn to kiss his bicep. Behind me, my husband trembles; the aftershock of his orgasm still rushing through his body. I feel my own sticky skin as well.
“We’re back,” he says breathlessly and he kisses the side of my head. “I told you we would know the right moment.”
We settle back down, exhausted. Peeta sits back against our headboard and I lay my back against his chest. He wraps an arm around me and I turn my head to lie against his chest.
The sun has reached our bed and the light glistens against his skin. I feel my eyes droop and Peeta tightens his hold on me. I feel safe in his arms as I always have. Time and heartache hasn’t changed this. We have grown up. We have grown into our marriage. It hasn’t been perfect but we have come back stronger.
“I'll lift you up, we can love or cry
Hey, I'm in love, I'll take you up again
Your eyes have too many colors and I can only try…”
I fall asleep listening to the music and Peeta’s heartbeat against my ear.
Holy moley, this is long. It’s actually the longest chapter that I’ve ever written. I hope you thought that it was worth it.
A few things:
You might be wondering what Beetee, Wiress, and Enobaria are doing here. Well, you’ll see. I kind of imagine Enobaria looking like Meta Golding, who will play her in the movie. Beetee is significantly older than her. Who hasn’t seen that happen, though? Katniss actually looks up to them in my story. They’re kind of the “it” couple for her. I know Beetee’s first name isn’t Walter, but for story purposes, it was added. He will be referred as Beetee throughout the story.
The Metreon is in downtown San Francisco. It has a theater, restaurants, some shops, and just recently, a City Target has opened there. It’s really a place to hang out. It’s also close to Bloomingdales.
I like to tease my husband about the Giants messing up all the time. He gets angry just like Peeta does.
The “I Hella Love SF” sweatshirt is an actual thing. I have one. You can see them on 415clothing.com.
Katniss finally knows about Glimmer. This crush has such a bittersweet end that I felt bad for her.
Hillsborough is a city going towards the San Jose. It’s more of an upperclass area. Barry Bonds, the baseball player, used to live there. Cal Poly is actually short for California Polytechnic and it is a state college. It is one of the two polytechnic colleges around. The one I refer to is located in San Luis Obispo.
SOMA stands for South of Market and it’s a section of downtown San Francisco.
101 and 280 are the main highways to and from the city.
The dress that Prim wears is from Modcloth. Let me know if you want to see it. I can also post her hair hairdo. Rue’s dress is something I made up. I kind of saw her in burnt orange for some reason.
There is a cave close to the Cliff House. It is supposed to be haunted. In High School, my friends and I use to go there late at night just freak each other out.
San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) - Scott McKenzie
The Weakness in Me - Joan Armatrading
Hold Me Up - Live
All of these songs are from soundtracks. Not sure how that happened.
Senti-smut? Smut? Not quite sure.
Chapter Twenty: Six Months Later - Johanna and Gale’s wedding, Prim’s first college acceptance letter arrives and Katniss moves up in the Beetee’s company, all from Peeta’s POV.
Comments, etc. can be sent to my e-mail, reviewed on AO3, or ask/submit on Tumblr.