a/n: I originally wrote this story back in February for S2SL and can now publish it for the general public. Thanks to streetlightlove1 for all her hard work in putting together the charity fundraiser and inadvertently helping force me to write something when my inspiration has been waning severely. I hope you guys enjoy!


Katniss had only started hanging out with Madge Undersee the last half of their senior year. Madge and her family had moved to town a year ago; Katniss had been reluctant to befriend her, even though they shared a lot of classes, simply because the other girl was beautiful and blonde and rich—surely, she'd fall right in with the popular clique.

But Madge was almost as reserved as Katniss was, and nicer still, and she was equally devoted to her studies. She wasn't interested in partying and gossiping or cutting up in class. So when she and Katniss were paired up as lab partners in their AP Biology class, they became fast friends. Katniss spent a lot of time at the other girl's house, working on projects and homework or just sleeping over. Her house was huge and mostly empty—just she and her parents currently resided there during the school year. Madge had an older step-brother, since her father remarried after her mother passed away years ago, but he was away at college, and Katniss had yet to meet him. Madge didn't talk about him much, anyway, so his existence didn't really register with her.

Not until the day after their high school graduation, the day their summer break officially started, when Katniss showed up at Madge's house for a Netflix marathon of "New Girl."

"You're going to love it, I promise," Madge swore, leading her up the stairs to the entertainment room as she balanced a large bowl of popcorn in her hands.

Katniss wasn't so sure about that. "I kind of find Zooey Deschanel annoying," she hedged, hiking her backpack of clothes and other necessities higher up on her back. With Prim at her own friend's place for the night, Katniss had come prepared to crash at Madge's; it was just an unspoken understanding at this point.

"You're insane. She's adorable," Madge argued as she threw the door open to the entertainment room. She pulled up short, however, causing Katniss to collide with her back. "Ugh, what are you doing in here?" she demanded loudly. Curiously, Katniss popped up on her toes to peer over her friend's shoulder. Her eyes went wide at the sight of the intended recipient of Madge's query.

"I'm watching a movie," came the simple reply. The respondent was sprawled out on the couch, one arm tucked behind an array of messy blonde curls, his head craned just slightly to stare at the large TV screen. He didn't even spare Madge a glance in her direction. She huffed in annoyance.

"Well, go do that in your room. I have a guest, and we had plans to use this room."

At that, the guy flicked his eyes toward them. "So? You have a perfectly good TV in your room, too," he said indifferently. Under his stare, Katniss felt her entire body flush with an uncomfortable heat, and she quickly averted her gaze to the floor. Madge's hand tightened on the door knob.

"Peeta," she said tightly, a threat creeping into her voice. He just stared at her, but then he smiled, rolling his eyes.

"Fine, since you asked so nicely," he relented, sitting upright and stopping his movie. Standing up, he tossed the controller to Madge as he headed toward the door. "But don't say I never did anything for you."

Madge made a big production of rolling her eyes and turning around to Katniss. Peeta stopped in front of them expectantly. "Katniss, this is my step-brother, Peeta. Peeta, this is my friend, Katniss," she grumbled, gesturing between the two of them, but then she stalked into the room, plopping down on the couch with her bowl of popcorn. Katniss felt trapped by his stare, unable to follow Madge; all she could do was gawk helplessly at the older guy.

He was beautiful. His jeans fit him just right, and the simple gray v-neck t-shirt stretched tight across his chest and shoulders. It was so insanely sexy, she couldn't remember how to breathe.

What the hell was her name again?

Peeta affected a wounded look, grabbing his chest. "Step? That hurts. Why must you categorize our relationship like that?"

Madge groaned as she surfed through the Netflix options. "Why are you still here? Go away. Go watch your movie or whatever."

"Well, I can't now. I don't have Netflix in my room," he corrected, an unbothered, smug smirk lingering on his face. It was probably the kind of smirk that would annoy any sibling, but Katniss was mesmerized; she was oblivious to the fact that she hadn't budged or stopped staring at him since walking into the room, but he either didn't notice or didn't care.

"Then watch something else," Madge snapped.

He stuffed his hands into his pockets as he thought. "I guess there's a few things I can watch on my computer," he mused, and Madge made a sound of disgust, shooting him a glare.

"No one wants to hear about your porn viewing habits."

At the word "porn," Katniss blushed heavily, her imagination slipping into an indelible refrain of Peeta watching porn—and just what he would most likely be doing while watching porn.

He shrugged nonchalantly. "You're the one talking about porn, not me," he retorted, then he glanced at Katniss, his mouth curling into a grin. "I hope she's nicer to you than she is me," he joked. Her mouth opened and closed wordlessly before she could squeak out a response.

"Uh—yeah," was all she could manage, but he was already ghosting past her.

"Well, enjoy your chick flick," he quipped as he headed down the hall toward what Katniss presumed was his bedroom.

She finally forced out a reply. "It's...not a chick flick," she muttered, giving his back one last, lingering look, then she forced herself to cross over to the couch where she sat down beside Madge. Her mouth felt dry, and she swallowed, trying to wet her mouth by generating some saliva. "So...that's your brother?" she asked, hoping she sounded only casually interested. Madge scoffed as she queued up "New Girl," kicking her feet up on the ottoman.

"Annoying, right? Sucks that he's going to be home all summer, too."

Katniss didn't think it sucked. At all.


Madge didn't seem to care for Peeta. Katniss was curious as to why, but she certainly didn't want to divulge too much of her newly found interest in her friend's step-brother—that was awkward, right?—so she tried to be as casual in her questions as possible.

"So, what's the deal with your brother?" she asked, pretending to concentrate extremely hard on the thumbnail she was painting. Her nerves, and her general lack of skill at painting nails, made her hand shaky, however, and she cursed when she swiped the deep green down her knuckle. "Shit." It was amazing that she could hit a bullseye with her archery bow from yards away, but apparently staying within the boundaries of her nails with a measly nail brush was impossible. She only partook in this activity because it seemed to be one of Madge's favorite pastimes.

"What do you mean?" Madge asked, not once lifting her eyes from the task at hand as she swiped a coral color expertly over each toenail.

Katniss soaked a cotton ball in nail polish remover and dabbed at her knuckle, her eyes darting between her hand and her friend. "I just mean...you seem to not like him. Is he like a dick or something? You don't talk about him much," she said carefully.

Madge sighed, leaning back slightly. "No, he's not really a dick. Well, not most of the time. Sometimes he can be an asshole. He's just..." She wrinkled her nose as she thought. "He's just kind of full of himself, I guess. Pretty cocky. I don't know, he's just always been so perfect and popular. The All-American jock who always does well in school. He's really outgoing and social; everybody likes him. It's annoying." She bent back over to finish painting her toes.

Katniss considered this, not really sure she saw the negative in any of the things Madge listed. Cocky, maybe, but he didn't necessarily strike her as that full of himself. "But you're smart and do really well in school, too," she argued, picking up her polish brush to slowly attempt her thumb again. Her friend shrugged.

"I know. But he's everyone's favorite. Even my dad likes him best," she grumbled. "I don't know. It was just me growing up, until I was 10. And then they came along...guess it was just hard adjusting to having a sibling all of a sudden."

Katniss thought about this. Prim could get on her last nerve from time to time, but she couldn't really recall being too resistant to having a younger sister growing up. Maybe it was different suddenly gaining an older sibling when you were used to being an only child. "Was he bossy?" she probed, moving on to her index finger. She managed to paint the nail and only her cuticle this time; it was an improvement.

"Nah, not really. But he's three years older than me, so when our parents married, he was already a teenager. We just didn't hang out or have a lot in common at that point, so I don't know. I think he was just used to being the man of the house or something." She rolled her eyes, spreading her toes to admire her work. Then she looked at Katniss, her lip curled in mild disgust. "And it didn't help that all my friends always thought he was just sooo cute and were always hanging all over him whenever he was around."

Katniss froze, her face heating up considerably, but she forced herself to keep painting her nails. "Ha, yeah, I'm sure that's annoying," she laughed weakly, trying not to make eye contact. She was sure Madge would be able to read it all over her face. She put the brush back in the bottle and used her other thumb to wipe off the stray polish strokes. She glanced at Madge quickly, wondering how she could ask her next question without being too obvious. "Does he have...a girlfriend or something?"

Madge looked at her sharply, narrowing her eyes. "Why do you wanna know?" she asked suspiciously, and inwardly Katniss panicked. But she shrugged her shoulders, wiping the pad of her thumb off on a paper towel.

"Maybe if he has a girlfriend, he won't be around the house as much as you think," she said, silently congratulating herself for coming up with such a plausible deflection.

"Oh." Madge shook her head and turned her attention back to her toes. "I don't think so. Not anymore, anyway. I'm sure he gets around with all the girls back at school, though."

Katniss made a face to herself at that, something inside her quickly deflating. Of course, Peeta probably had his fair pick of suitors. He was almost done with college. She'd only just graduated high school. Like she had a shot in hell with him.

Giving herself a mental shake, she tried to brush it off. What did it matter? Why was she suddenly so hung up on someone she only met that day and had exchanged all of two sentences with? She was being ridiculous.

None of it mattered, anyway. She couldn't hook up with her best friend's brother—step-brother, maybe, but brother nonetheless. It was weird.

Right?


Katniss and Madge were sharing a veggie pizza in the dining room one night when Peeta popped in to grab a piece for himself. His sister shot him a dirty look as he pried a large slice away from the rest. "I don't recall saying you could have any," she snipped, but he just smiled as he took a bite, pulling out a chair to sit in.

"As I recall, mom and dad left the money and said it was to cover dinner for all of us," he replied, his mouth full. When he looked at her, Katniss focused her attention on her own slice, chewing silently and hoping the blush on her face wasn't noticeable. Why did he fluster her so much? She'd never had a crush affect her this much, and she hardly even knew him. She'd always prided herself on being above this kind of high school bullshit.

"Whatever," Madge muttered, taking a generous bite of her pizza. Katniss picked a mushroom off her slice and dropped it on her plate. Peeta caught this, noticing her growing pile of discarded mushrooms.

"What, you don't like mushrooms?" he asked incredulously, and her eyes widened as she looked at him.

"Um," she hesitated, covering her mouth as she chewed. "Not really." He made a face but smiled, shaking his head.

"You're crazy," he scoffed, and her stomach twisted when he leaned toward her to scoop the mushrooms off her plate, popping them in his mouth. She felt an unexpected, delicious throbbing between her thighs as she watched his lips while he chewed. He licked the grease off them. "Just give me what you don't want," he told her, and she smiled nervously, unable to hold his gaze.

"Okay," she agreed quietly and took another bite.

"So, heads up," he started after a moment, glancing at Madge. "Since our parents won't be here this weekend, I'm having some people over."

Madge rolled her eyes, dabbing her lips with a napkin. "So you want me to be scarce then, I suppose?"

Peeta shrugged. "You can stay, if you want. If you think you can hang," he said with a smile. "I'm just giving you a fair warning. There'll be alcohol and loud music. It might be too wild for you."

She flicked an olive at him, and he just chuckled, grabbing a second slice once he'd finished his first. "Please. I've had alcohol before," Madge said haughtily.

"I'm not talking about mom's wine coolers you sneak when she's not around," he said drily, and Madge flushed in embarrassment. "That's child's play. You're about to go off to college. You should have a little taste of what you're in for."

Katniss lifted herself out of her seat a little, stretching across the table to get another slice. Peeta slid the box closer to her, and she bit her lip when she glanced at him, smiling her thanks as she sat back down. She began to methodically pick the mushrooms off her slice, and Peeta held his slice of pizza out to her so she could put the mushrooms on it. It felt strangely intimate; she was sure her face was visibly red.

"Well, I'm so glad my older, wiser brother is here to educate me on it," Madge said with false sweetness. He grinned at her cheekily, but he kept his focus on Katniss.

"What about you, Katniss? You going to college?" he asked, and she nodded. "Where at?"

"Um, State," she answered, and he lifted his eyebrows slightly.

"Yeah? That's where I go. It's a great school. You're gonna have a lot of fun."

She tried to keep her face neutral as she mentally chased away thoughts of just what kind of fun they could have. "Yeah, I'm sure," she replied, glancing at him before quickly looking away. He finished his slice and stood up.

"I'll let you two get back to your girl talk," he said after he'd swallowed his mouthful, disappearing out of the dining room. Katniss looked at her friend, who rolled her eyes again. But then she grinned conspiratorially.

"Maybe he'll have some hot, older friends at this party," she said, her eyes wide with excitement. Katniss smiled faintly. Hotter than Peeta?

"Maybe."


Katniss watched as Madge swiped at her eye shadow with her finger and then smoothed her blonde curls down. She rolled her eyes when Madge pushed her breasts up, trying to create more cleavage in the low scoopneck of her dress. "What do you think?" Madge asked, making eye contact with her in the mirror.

"I think you're trying too hard," she grumbled, and Madge pouted. "Since when do you care about boys?"

Madge spun around, traipsing over to her bed to dig through her purse. "Not just any boys, Katniss. College boys. That's different!" she exclaimed. At Katniss' skeptical eyebrow raise, Madge huffed, pulling a tube of lipgloss out. "I just want to have some fun. The last four years have been like non-stop work. I feel like we deserve this," she explained, unscrewing the lipgloss to glide the wand across her lips. She looked at Katniss curiously. "I mean...aren't you a little bit interested in sex?"

Looking away, Katniss felt warmth fill her cheeks. Of course, she was interested in sex. Ever since Peeta showed up, she'd been unusually interested in sex. She'd told herself to forget about him, but she only found herself thinking about him more. Staring at him when he wasn't looking. Fantasizing about the things she wished he would do to her...

Taking a tremulous breath, she turned back to Madge and held her hand out. "Gimme some of that lipgloss." Madge grinned as she tossed her the tube.

An hour later, Katniss determined the lipgloss a wash. It rubbed off on every cup and drink she had, and Peeta hadn't even spared one glance in her direction since she and Madge had ventured downstairs to join the party.

And why would he? She was a teenager, barely an adult. Peeta was a man, and there were plenty of college girls here to grab his attention. She tried not to watch him flirt and laugh with them, but it was hard not to. She hated herself for it, but she just wished he would look at her, just once.

"Did Madge leave you on your own?"

Katniss jumped at his unexpected voice, gasping when she inadvertently flung beer out of her can. Peeta was watching her in amusement as he squatted down beside a cooler of punch, scooping some into his Solo cup. Embarrassed, she wiped the beer splatters off her hand and glanced at him. Ask and ye shall receive, apparently. She'd just wished she'd seen him coming.

"Yeah, I guess so."

"Where'd she get off to?" he asked, straightening up. Katniss gestured toward the foyer, where her friend was leaning against the wall, snug against some dark-haired guy's side as she giggled at whatever he was saying. Peeta followed the direction of her hand, his face hardening at the sight.

"Oh, god dammit, Gale," he cursed, shaking his head. "I'm gonna have to have a talk with him..."

Katniss bit her lip, stupidly giddy that Peeta was initiating and actually continuing a conversation with her. Don't fuck this up, Everdeen. "Why do you need to talk to him?" she asked, hoping her voice didn't crackle with nerves.

Peeta took a swig of his drink and turned to look at her. "He's hitting on my sister."

"Is he an asshole?"

He shook his head, shoving his hand in his pocket. "Nah. He's cool for the most part. But she's young. I don't want him to fuck around with her and lead her on if he doesn't mean it," he said, his voice trailing off as he looked back at Madge and Gale.

Katniss smiled at this, watching Peeta's profile in wonder, but when he glanced back at her, she quickly took a sip of her beer, averting her eyes. She wrinkled her nose in displeasure the second the bitter liquid hit her tongue, and she swallowed hard. He noticed this, his mouth pulling to the side in a half-smile.

"Not a fan of beer, huh?"

Blushing, she licked her lips and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "No, I guess not."

"Here," he said, holding his cup out to her. "Let's switch."

Surprised, she carefully took the drink from him and handed him her beer. "What is this?" she asked, peering into the cup at the red concoction.

Peeta grinned. "PJ. It's fruity. You'll like it," he said, drinking from the can. She took a small sip to taste. Whatever alcohol in it was strong, but whatever else was in it helped dilute the taste. He raised an eyebrow at her for her opinion, and she smiled shyly.

"It's good. Thanks."

He leaned closer, and she reflexively took a deep breath, pulling into her lungs whatever cologne or soap he was wearing. It was intoxicating, even more so than the PJ. "Just don't eat the fruit, no matter what anyone tells you, okay?" he told her covertly, still grinning.

Katniss eyed the pieces of fruit in her cup. "Why not?"

"It will fuck you up," he laughed. She smiled, liking the way his tongue caressed the word "fuck."

"Hey, Peet, the beer pong table's open—you got next?"

Both she and Peeta turned in the direction of the voice. A tall, bronze-haired guy was standing at the end of a long table, a petite brunette at his side. The guy waved his hand to the other side of the table in invitation.

"Sure," Peeta called back, then he glanced at Katniss. "You ever played beer pong?" She shook her head, and he smiled. "Wanna learn?"

She hesitated, glancing at the table. It looked daunting...but she couldn't turn down the opportunity to spend more time with him. "Okay."

He nodded toward the table. "Come on, then. You'll have to play with beer—but it'll hurt less than playing with PJ, trust me."

When he turned his back to her, she let slip her smile but quickly hid it behind another sip of her drink, following him to the beer pong table.


Peeta let out a loud whoop as Katniss sunk the ping pong ball into yet another cup. Finnick, the bronze-haired guy on the other team, issued a loud "Come on!" in disbelief before snatching up the cup to drink, angrily bouncing the ball back to them. His partner, Annie, just covered her mouth to hide her laugh, shaking her head. As she was Finnick's designated driver, he was responsible for drinking all the beer. He was getting progressively sloppier and more annoyed as the game went on.

Peeta snatched the ball up before it could sail off the table and handed it to Katniss. "You get to shoot again since you're on fire," he told her with a grin. She couldn't fight the wide smile that spread across her face as she took the ball from him, assuming her stance at the end of the table. Peeta stepped out of the way, giving her plenty of room to make her shot. "Just one more cup, Katniss. If you hit it, we win."

She made a face as she eyed the cup doubtfully. "No pressure or anything," she muttered, and he chuckled. Finnick was practically glowering at her from the other side, which made her extra nervous.

"No way you're going to hit it," he taunted. She refused to make eye contact with him, trying to keep her eyes trained on the last cup—and not his crotch, which he was wildly thrusting at her to distract her. Annie smacked his arm.

"Stop, she's like a baby still!"

Katniss faltered, her body going stiff in utter mortification. But Peeta leaned in at that moment, his mouth dangerously close to her ear. "You can do this, Girl on Fire," he murmured, and she had to cough to disguise the embarrassing moan that inadvertently slipped from her throat at his proximity. Shaking her head, she honed in on the cup again, did the mental calculations on the arc and distance required to make the shot, reared her hand back slightly, then released the ball, watching it as it sailed through the air.

And right into the cup with a satisfying plop.

Finnick howled in anger, and, startled, Katniss opened her mouth to apologize, but Peeta swept her up into a hug, crowing in triumph. She let out a surprised squeak, wrapping her arms around his shoulders as her feet left the ground, but his excitement was contagious, and she immediately began laughing. When he set her down again, she stumbled slightly, dazed; she knew it had more to do with him than the alcohol she had consumed, though that was making her head equally fuzzy.

"Who the hell is this chick?" Finnick demanded as he gestured toward her, his mouth curling in suspicion. Her eyes widened, but Peeta slung his arm around her shoulders, pulling her against his side. Her cheeks colored.

"My new, permanent beer pong partner, apparently," he laughed, squeezing her arm, but just as quickly he released her, pushing their cups of beer toward Finnick. "Drink up, my friend. These are all yours. And you know the house rule for getting skunked."

Finnick glared at him good-naturedly, but then he shrugged. "Okay, fine. I got nothing to be ashamed of," he boasted, immediately whipping his shirt over his head. Annie ducked her head.

"Oh god, Finn," she groaned, but he continued disrobing. Katniss' eyes nearly bulged out of her head when he shucked his boxer-briefs off last, completely baring himself, and she instinctively looked away, her face flaming. What the hell was he doing?

Finnick flexed his muscles, bare to the world; people around them started laughing and yelling, some of the girls catcalling appreciatively. Katniss was horrified, and she turned away from the scene.

She'd just seen her first dick. In person. That was terrifying.

Laughing heartily, Peeta glanced at her, and then he snorted in amusement when he realized she was refusing to look. "Too graphic for you?" he teased, and she looked at him from the corner of her eye, her embarrassment mounting exponentially.

"No, I just—I mean, what is he doing? Why is he naked?" she asked incredulously.

"It's the skunk rule!" Peeta explained, his teeth flashing with his wide grin. "He's gotta run around the house naked because they didn't make any cups."

"Oh."

Just then, Finnick took off running, completely nude and with beer in hand, hollering as he darted room to room. Katniss got a glimpse of his bare ass before he disappeared into the kitchen.

She was in over her head here.

Peeta nudged her arm with his elbow, diverting her attention back to him. "You played a great game," he said, and she nervously fidgeted with her braid, unable to hold his gaze. "You sure you've never played before?"

She shook her head, smiling. "Beginner's luck, I guess."

He looked skeptical. "With the way you were sinking cups left and right—I think it's a little more than beginner's luck," he scoffed, and she took a sip of her drink just to do something with her other hand. "You're a beer pong natural. Quite a useful skill in college. I might have to keep you around, take you to every party I go to."

Her mouth parted in astonishment, and she felt a rush of school-girl glee at the thought of them actually hanging out at school. Normally, she'd be paralyzed with crippling shyness right then, faced with something so out of her comfort zone, but she felt emboldened by liquid courage. She lowered her cup and licked the lingering droplets of PJ from her lips, twirling the end of her braid around her finger. "I might allow that," she said bashfully, hoping she came off somewhat convincingly seductive. She managed to make eye contact with him, and she swore she saw his eyebrow quirk, his eyes narrowing just slightly as he stared at her.

"Yeah?" he asked after a pause, his mouth turning up in a smirk, but before she could reply, a voice jarred her out of the moment.

"Hey, who's playing you two next?" some guy asked, pointing at the table, and Peeta glanced at him.

"S'all you if you're ready to be annihilated, Thom," he replied with a laugh, but a blonde girl appeared at his side suddenly, a pout puckering her lips as she pulled on his wrist.

"Peeta," she said plaintively. Katniss couldn't tear her eyes away from where the blonde's hand touched his arm.

Realization lit up Peeta's face as he looked at the blonde. "Oh, yeah." He turned to Katniss, an apologetic look on his face. "Hey, I'm sorry. I promised Glimmer I'd play Flip Cup with her and some other people."

"Oh." Her disappointment was thick in her throat, but she hoped to god it didn't show on her face. "That's okay..."

He smiled at her, gesturing to a girl passing by. "Hey, Clove, why don't you team up with Katniss for beer pong? She dominated the last game."

Katniss' eyes widened as she looked at the short brunette; she had a severe face and sharp eyes, but she shrugged nonchalantly at Peeta. "Sure, why not," she agreed.

"Thanks, Clove." Peeta held his fist out to Katniss, and after an awkward hesitation, she bumped it with her own, earning a smile from him. "Good game, partner. I'll be back around later, okay?"

She just nodded, but he dipped away before she could formulate a verbal response, Glimmer tugging him off into another room. Her heart sank when she saw the girl slip her hand into his.

"Listen up, Braid," Clove started, lining up their cups. Disheartened, Katniss turned to her. "I'm super competitive, so don't fuck this up for me, okay? I don't deal well with losing."

Katniss' eyes widened slightly, but she nodded, anyway. "Um, okay." Who were these crazy people?

She spent the rest of the night on the beer pong table, winning game after game.

Peeta never came back.


Katniss listened to Madge's soft, measured breaths as she snored away beside her in her friend's large, four-poster bed. Her phone told her it was 2 in the morning; she and Madge had only been asleep for two hours before a nightmare had dragged Katniss' from the recesses of her slumber. She was glad she didn't awake screaming this time. Madge seemed fast asleep, thankfully; their marathon session of "House of Cards" and the insane amount of Cheez-Its and cookies they'd eaten earlier that night must have been enough to wipe her out.

Katniss stared at the ceiling, drawing patterns in the elongated shadows of tree branches with her eyes and willing her mind to shed the memories of the car crash that had killed her father years ago. Her heart was still pounding, but it was slowly steadying; her throat was parched, however, and her mouth felt stuffed with cotton.

Carefully, she slid out of bed, wincing slightly when her bare feet hit the cold hardwood floor. She tip-toed to the door, quietly opening it and slipping out of the room to make her way downstairs to the kitchen for a cup of water. The hallway was dark, but a faint blue light from the entertainment room lightly illuminated her surroundings. She paused, realizing Peeta must be in there watching TV. Self-consciously, she ran a hand over her hair, smoothing down the disheveled pieces and strands that her pillow had loosened from her braid. Then she silently crept toward the room. The door was half shut, but she peered around it.

The sight before her surprised her, and she jerked back slightly in revulsion.

Peeta was sitting on the couch with that Glimmer girl from the party the other night straddling his lap. She giggled occasionally as Peeta nuzzled her neck, whatever they were watching in the background completely forgotten. Katniss bit down on her lip, her hand unconsciously curling into a fist at her side, and her nose wrinkled in distaste when they kissed, Peeta grabbing Glimmer's hips as the blonde intertwined her arms around his neck.

She shouldn't have been so surprised, based on how intimate they looked at the party, but still, Katniss couldn't help the creeping jealousy that scratched at the back of her spine. She was about to turn away and continue toward the kitchen, but she hesitated when Glimmer pulled back slightly to whisper something in Peeta's ear. He seemed to think about it for a brief moment, and then he nodded.

At his cue, Glimmer slid out of his lap and knelt down in front of him between his legs.

Even before the blonde girl unfastened his pants, Katniss knew what was about to happen. She should have walked away before Glimmer pulled Peeta's cock out of his underwear, before she wrapped her lips around it, before she took him all the way into her mouth.

Katniss should have walked away, but she didn't. Instead, she watched, mesmerized, as Glimmer proceeded to suck him off. Peeta's head fell back on the couch, and Katniss could hear his approving sighs and quiet grunts every time his cock disappeared into Glimmer's mouth. She wrapped her hand around the base and begin to stroke him; Peeta lifted his hips off the couch slightly to thrust into her mouth, his hand palming the back of her head.

Katniss' entire body flushed with an uncomfortable warmth; jealousy and disgust and arousal settled in her stomach, pooling between her thighs. She was ashamed at how turned on she felt, her clit beginning to pulse in response.

She didn't know if she'd inadvertently made a sound or a movement, but suddenly Peeta was turning his head in her direction. Startled, Katniss jumped out of his line of sight with a soft gasp, and she quickly covered her mouth. Had he seen her? She remained paralyzed for a split second before she spun around on her heel and hurried back to Madge's room, slipping back inside as quietly as she could. Then she crawled back into bed with her friend, settling on her back and burying herself under the covers.

Her heart was racing faster than it had been when she'd woken up from her nightmare.

Fuck! She hoped he hadn't seen her. He would be disgusted with her—what kind of pervert watches her friend's brother get head? She squeezed her eyes shut, trying not to think about it anymore. It was impossible, though. The look of bliss on his face while Glimmer's mouth moved over him...What Katniss wouldn't give to make him feel that way, too.

But now she'd never get the chance—as if she even had one to begin with.

She muffled her groan in her pillow and rolled onto her side, waiting for sleep to take her and trying to ignore the dull throbbing between her thighs.

She was still thirsty, too.


Three days. That was how long Katniss had stayed away from Madge's house after accidentally (on purpose) walking in on Peeta getting head. She'd been so mortified, unable to sleep that night, and she knew she had to get out of there the next day before she ran into Peeta. There was no way she could look him in the face after that—for a few different reasons. The shame and embarrassment were the prime reasons, but now she had the image of his cock burned into her brain. And it was a lovely cock, much more appealing than what Finnick had presented at the party. It was all she could think about hours after the incident, and she was afraid she'd only be able to see it any time she looked him in the face from now on.

She'd managed to evade Madge under the premise of having to work and watch Prim—which was partly true. She did pick up some extra shifts at the grocery store, but Prim was off doing her own thing with friends most of the time, anyway.

Three days was the longest Katniss had gone without seeing Madge since they'd become friends, and it was the longest Madge was willing to let her avoid her. After several guilting texts from her friend, Katniss had finally agreed to spend the night. When she'd arrived at her house later that night, she was relieved to find Peeta's car missing from the driveway. He wasn't home.

Of course, that realization immediately begot a second realization—that he was out somewhere, with friends most likely—or probably on a date with Glimmer, getting head or having sex in that very car. The amount of jealousy she felt at the thought was irrational, considering how much she was dreading having to see him again.

She didn't see him all night, though, and he still wasn't home when she and Madge woke up the next day, so she'd almost convinced herself that she'd made it another day without having to confront him—until she heard the front door slam shut as she and Madge were eating the breakfast her dad had made for them.

The fork laden with fluffy, syrupy pancakes froze midair on the way to her mouth. A second later she heard the abrasive slap of a basketball on the hardwood floor in the foyer, and then—

"Hey."

Katniss felt a nervous sweat prickle her hairline at the sound of Peeta's voice, but she kept her eyes trained in front of her, her back to him as the fork deposited the pieces of pancakes into her mouth. She chewed purposefully, as if that were the reason she wasn't responding. Madge nodded at her brother indifferently as she shoveled her own pancakes into her mouth. "Hey, loser," she greeted.

He snorted, the basketball punctuating the sound with another hard slap on the floor. "Okay. Is there food for me?" he asked, stopping near the table as he slapped the ball between his palms with a hollow, satisfying thud. Katniss' back was still to him, and she kept her focus on her plate, devouring her breakfast with an unusual quickness. Her heart fluttered in his presence, nerves almost solidifying like cement in her stomach the pancakes that just seconds ago were delicious and heavenly. He smelled like sweat and outdoors, something so mystifyingly masculine, she almost forgot why she was avoiding him and nearly pivoted in her seat just to inhale him deeper.

Of course, that only reminded her of his dick, and she remained glued in her seat, eyes downcast.

Madge rolled her eyes at him. "Maybe if you'd been here when Dad was making breakfast, you'd have some for yourself," she snarked.

"There's a plate stacked with bacon, and I know there's no way you're eating all of this," he replied, reaching between them to snatch a slice of bacon off the plate and pop it into his mouth. His scent wafted even closer, and Katniss bit down hard on the tines of her fork, her other hand reflexively tugging on the end of her braid.

Madge shook out her curls, which were somehow already magically coiffed, in defiance. "Whatever. Don't eat them all!" she chided him, swatting at his hand when he grabbed a second piece.

Peeta grunted in amusement, circling around the table to the opposite side. With his foot, he kicked out the chair and plopped down in it, exhaling in relief before resuming his chewing. Katniss tensed now that he was in her line of sight, but she kept her outward composure, studying him through the veil of her eyelashes. His skin was dewy and rosy, sweat stippling his forehead. His hair was damp and disheveled from the numerous times he'd run his hand through it—she assumed, anyway.

"I'm a growing boy. I need to eat," he said with a shrug, setting the basketball on the table and spinning it idly. He glanced between the two of them, and when his eyes landed on her, Katniss hastily averted her eyes, hoping he hadn't caught her staring. Like he must have caught her the other night... "So what are you two up to?" he asked. Realizing she hadn't even acknowledged him yet, Katniss offered a small shrug but stayed silent; she knew Madge would pick up the conversation easily.

"We're gonna hang out by the pool since Mom finally got it cleaned," Madge answered, sipping her orange juice.

Peeta shook his head with mock sternness. "Well, keep it decent. Finnick and Annie are coming over later."

Madge scoffed. "Please, Katniss wears a one-piece. She's practically Mormon when we go swimming," she teased. Katniss' eyes widened before she glared at her friend, her face going red.

"Thanks," she snapped, inadvertently making eye contact with Peeta, who regarded her with bemusement.

"A one-piece?" he repeated, eyeing her skeptically. "Why? You have nothing to be worried about."

His words left her stupefied and speechless, but thankfully Madge responded. "Ew, please don't hit on my friend," she groused, wrinkling her nose. Her rebuke only made Katniss blush harder. Hit on? Peeta seemed unfazed, shrugging his shoulder and cradling the basketball in the crook of his arm.

"I was just being honest."

"Whatever," Madge scoffed. "Your friends are the ones you have to worry about being indecent. I mean, Finnick? Who didn't see his junk the other night? I thought Katniss was going to have a conniption."

Peeta snickered, and despite Madge's ribbing, Katniss couldn't keep the giddy smile off her face, a light laugh escaping her throat. She wasn't even thinking about Finnick's junk, honestly. Peeta thought she was attractive. Or at least, he thought her body was nothing to be worried about. Pleased, she cut off another bite of her pancakes with her fork and shoveled it into her mouth.

"Right, well. I'm sure Katniss has seen worse," he said cryptically, quirking an eyebrow at her as he leaned forward to steal another slice of bacon. Her breath stuttered in her chest as she locked eyes with him, freezing mid-chew, and he let a smirk slip before he bit down on the bacon and stood up.

Shit. He knew. He had seen her. Shit shit shit.

"Don't forget the sunscreen," he advised, his eyes lingering on Katniss a second longer before he flicked them in Madge's direction, his face clearing, then he walked away, dribbling the ball a couple times before he disappeared.

"Man, he sounds like my dad," Madge griped, and Katniss forced herself to swallow her mouthful. It went down painfully, sticking in her esophagus stubbornly until she sipped some orange juice to force it down.


"You girls ever getting in the water or what?"

Katniss shielded her eyes from the late-afternoon sun as she directed them at the source of the question. Peeta was in the pool, leaning against the side. Finnick and Annie were elsewhere in the water, laughing and splashing each other. Katniss had been watching them for a while, mostly Peeta, the sun illuminating his pale skin and bouncing off the glistening rivulets of water as they trickled down the sinews of his muscles. She could see where his skin was turning pink, on his shoulders mostly and on his nose. She wondered if he'd followed his own advice about the sunscreen. She hadn't seen him put any on when he'd come outside to swim, about an hour after she and Madge had parked themselves on a couple of pool-side chairs.

Katniss cast a sideways glance at Madge, who was reclining on her back in her chair, and she bit down on her lip as she thought. Truthfully, she did want to get in the water. The sun was hot, and she was soaking with sweat now. Her skin felt tight and prickly, and she could already tell it was a shade darker than normal. But she hadn't felt comfortable getting in the water with Peeta and the other two, not without Madge—and Madge appeared to have no interest in swimming, just suntanning.

"No, I'm good," Madge responded dismissively. Peeta raised an eyebrow at Katniss.

"What about you, Everdeen?" He seemed to give her an appraising look, and she was thankful her olive complexion and slight sunburn wouldn't betray her blush. "I don't think it's possible for you to get any tanner."

If he was disgusted with her or felt weirded out by what she'd seen, he sure wasn't showing it. After his comment in the kitchen, he'd dropped any reference to that night and had resumed his normal cordial and cheery disposition toward her. It didn't put her any more at ease in his presence than she usually was, but at least she wasn't perpetually afraid he was going to mention it or even inform Madge.

"Um..." Katniss hesitated, squinting as her eyes darted between Peeta and the water, both equally tantalizing. Peeta looked at her expectantly, bracing his arms against the concrete as a small grin curled up the corner of his mouth.

"Don't worry—Finnick's forgiven you for wiping the floor with his ass at beer pong. Mostly," he said wryly, earning a bark from his friend.

"Ha! Beginner's luck, purely," Finnick yelled at them both from the other side of the pool. "I'll overlook her crimes this one time."

Offering a sheepish smile, Katniss slid out of her chair; she cringed when her skin stuck to the plastic. "Okay. I guess it's pretty hot out here," she said, edging toward the stairs at the other end, entirely conscious that Peeta's eyes were on her barely covered body and all the skin left exposed by her one-piece. If this is what Mormons wore, they sure as hell weren't as modest as she thought.

Peeta splashed some water in her direction. "Just jump in already. It'll be less of a shock," he teased, sinking into the water so the tiny waves lapped over his shoulders, and he pushed off the side to glide backward some. Katniss froze as she debated this; she'd look less stupid just using the stairs, but now he'd think she was even more uncool if she didn't just jump in. It was a lose-lose situation, and she groaned inwardly.

Why did she care so much what he thought of her? It was ridiculous.

Taking a deep breath, she took a step back away from the edge of the pool, then she launched herself into the air, tucking her legs tight against her chest before she canonballed into the water. The cold water was jarring to her system, but she acclimated to it quickly as she sank toward the bottom of the pool. Unfurling her legs, she let her right foot touch the bottom before she pushed off, bursting through the surface of the water with a gasp. Shaking the water from her eyes and face, she registered the sound of clapping.

She twisted around to find Peeta applauding her display, his lips stretched into a wide smile. "Nicely done. I give you an 8.5."

Her lips parted indignantly, and she narrowed her eyes. "Why only an 8.5?"

He laughed and pointed toward Finnick and Annie. "Your splash didn't quite reach them. But you soaked me, so thanks," he said dryly, running a hand over his face and through his hair to fling the excess water away.

She made a face, languidly swishing her arms through the water to keep her afloat. "Sorry."

He grinned. "If I didn't want to get wet, I wouldn't be in a pool."

It was still strange to actually hold a conversation with him. She was surprised at her vocal capabilities in the face of all his delicious, exposed skin—and, of course, now that she was conscious of this, she immediately felt herself clamming up. Katniss bit down on the corner of her lip, chewing anxiously; she had no idea what to say next, so she just quirked a smile at him and pretended to be preoccupied with swimming. Peeta watched her as she slowly glided through the water past him; she could feel his stare on her back, almost as intense as the afternoon sun stinging her cool skin.

A sharp squeal, followed a split second later by laughter and splashing, caught her attention, and she twisted in the water to catch the spectacle. Finnick was hoisting Annie up onto his shoulders, and she was cackling in delight, her limbs floundering as she tried to find her balance. Finnick laughed as she clawed at his head, flinging water in his face. "If you just hold still, you'll be fine!" he chastised her. Annie shoved his head playfully, but she sat up straighter as she relaxed in her precarious position on his shoulders. Once she was steady, Finnick stood up taller and turned to face Katniss and Peeta. He grinned mischievously. "You guys wanna play chicken?" he challenged.

Peeta chuckled. "You just want retribution for beer pong, don't you?"

His friend's face hardened. "You're damn right I do."

Shaking his head, Peeta looked over at Katniss, who was watching the exchange curiously. He regarded her earnestly. "You game?" he asked, and her eyes widened as she glanced between him and the other two.

"You want—I mean...you want me to play with-uh—" she stammered. She couldn't handle the idea of sitting on Peeta's shoulders, no way.

"Yeah, come on," he goaded her with a smile, reaching through the water to grab her hand. He pulled her toward him easily. "Our honor is at stake here!"

"Uhhh, I don't know," she hedged, but she didn't have a chance to object further because Peeta ducked under the water, circling around her. She yelped when he darted between her legs, and his arms hooked around her thighs as he hastily stood up, surfacing with her perched perilously on his shoulders. Her hands found purchase in his hair, fisting around his wet curls while she fought for her balance. But he held fast to her legs, righting her quickly. He sputtered as he gasped for air, spitting water off his lips.

"Katniss, can you do me a favor and wipe the water out of my eyes?" he asked, his head dipping back slightly to look up at her. Her stomach churned, and she hesitated before she swiped at his eyes and forehead as fast as she could manage. What she wouldn't give to take her time and trace his features—but he'd probably be incredibly weirded out if she tried that right now.

"Better?" she asked, and he nodded.

"Perfect." Peeta whipped around to face Finnick and Annie, stalking toward them. "Okay, losers. Prepare to lose again."

Katniss had no idea what she was doing; she understood the basic concept and rules of the game, but she'd never played it before. And that still didn't prepare her for just how distracting the feel of Peeta's hands on her legs were; she didn't think she was imagining it, how his hands subtly stroked her shins and knees, just lightly, before coming up to rest on her thighs (she'd never been more grateful for having remembered to shave that morning). That hardly seemed necessary, and in fact, she was sure he could anchor her better on his shoulders if he held her legs down lower. But she sure wasn't going to correct him, not with his fingers just barely grazing the delicate skin of her inner thighs.

And then there was the fact that his head was between her legs, the curve of his skull snug against the juncture of her thighs, and when he moved or jerked his head slightly, it sent a painfully exquisite jolt through her.

So it was no wonder she and Peeta lost every game of chicken. She just didn't have the heart or the attention to fight off Annie, who seemed determined to win. The girl was petite, but she had a glint in her eye that made it very apparent she could kick some ass.

Katniss lost count of how many times she hit the water, disappearing under the surface only to have Peeta yank her back up and onto his shoulders. This often required his hands on different parts of her body: her waist, her hips, and sometimes, inadvertently, her ass. It was thrilling. So she wasn't too upset about losing, once it was all said and done.


Her phone vibrating on the nightstand scared Katniss, and she glanced at Madge reflexively—still asleep—before regarding her phone suspiciously. It was a text message, that much she could tell from her angle. Was it Prim? Was something wrong? Setting down Madge's Kindle on her stomach, Katniss scooped her phone off the stand and squinted at the screen. It was a number she didn't recognize and a simple "Hi." Katniss frowned at her phone but unlocked it to bring up the text.

Hi? she sent back and waited. The reply was immediate.

It's Peeta.

Her eyes widened comically. Peeta was texting her. What the hell? Her heart immediately began to race in excitement, and her fingers danced spastically over the keypad as she sorted her thoughts for an appropriate response. How did you get my number?

Did some Facebook snooping.

You should probably lock down your page more. You never know what kind of creep is going to find you.

She made a face to herself. Clearly, she replied. His response was a winky face, making her bite her lip. She didn't want to jump to conclusions, but that felt flirty. Peeta sent another text: What are you up to right now?

Katniss looked around the dark bedroom, listening to Madge's quiet, even breathing. Just reading before bed, she replied. You? She knew he was in the house somewhere, unless he'd left earlier without detection.

Thirsty. Went downstairs to get some water.

Katniss read his text a few times, struggling for a response, but Peeta saved her the trouble. Is Madge still awake?

Katniss looked at her sleeping friend again and waited a second to see if she would move; when she didn't stir, Katniss replied: No, she's been asleep for a while.

Good. You should come down to the kitchen then.

Katniss' eyes went wide again. What was happening? Her stomach began to twist in anticipation—she had no idea what he was up to, but even in her naivete, she knew something good was awaiting her. Taking a deep breath, she forced her fingers across the screen to type out: Okay. Then she took a moment to enter his contact info into her phone before setting it aside on the nightstand with the Kindle. Gently, and carefully, she climbed out of bed, conscious not to disturb her friend, then she tiptoed out of the room, quietly shutting the door behind her. The hallway was darker than Madge's room, but her eyes adjusted quickly; she knew this house as well as her own, and she stealthily made her way downstairs to the kitchen. There, she found Peeta sitting at the kitchen island, shirtless, faintly lit by the light of his phone screen. Katniss hesitated before clearing her throat slightly to get his attention, trying to swallow down her rapidly beating heart. Peeta looked up, his eyebrows lifted in surprise, but then he smiled at her, turning his phone screen off.

"You're like a mouse," he mused, sitting back in his bar stool slightly. "You're so quiet." She shrugged, fidgeting in her spot under his gaze and messing with the hem of her long sleep shirt. She was grateful she had sleep shorts on, but she was certain she could still feel his eyes lingering on her bare legs. It excited her. His smiled softened. "You can come closer," he told her, and she awkwardly circled around the counter until she was standing near him. He pivoted the stool seat around to face her, bracing his right arm against the marble surface of the counter. He didn't say anything for a moment or so, just observed her. She grew increasingly uncomfortable and anxious under his stare, unable to make eye contact. Eventually, she couldn't stand it anymore.

"Um, so, what did you want?" she asked, tucking her loose hair behind her ear. Peeta slowly shook his head.

"To look at you, for starters," he said, and she furrowed her eyebrows in confusion.

"What?"

A slow grin spread across his face as he stared at her, his gaze sweeping down her body and back up to her face. He gave another small shake of his head.

"I don't know. I was just thinking about you. Realized I couldn't stop thinking about you."

Her mouth parted in shock. "I...oh," was all she could manage, as she could scarcely breathe as it was. Her throat felt tight.

"You have no idea, the effect you have," he murmured, still pinning her with his stare. She guessed she didn't; she had no idea what he meant or where this was going. They were quiet for another long, tense moment, Katniss squirming in her spot and trying to swallow her labored breathing. Peeta's jaw tightened visibly, and he straightened his back.

"Come here," he commanded, his voice low, and without thought, she moved closer to him, stopping in front of where he was seated. His hand closed around her hip, and he pulled her between his legs. She complied jerkily.

She was sure she could feel sweat itching her palms as her nerves kicked into high gear, and she discreetly rubbed them on her shirt. "Why...were you thinking about me?" she whispered, watching his hand skim her waist over her shirt. She tried not to flinch.

"You're so pretty, Katniss," he murmured. She couldn't tell if that was an answer to her question or not, but it didn't matter; she felt her face heat up, and a delicious warmth pooled in her stomach. "Has anyone ever told you that before?"

Had they? Her mother had, Prim had. Madge, too. Did that count? She couldn't recall a guy ever complimenting her before. She just shrugged in response, not sure how to reply to his assertion. Peeta made a noise in the back of his throat, tugging on the hem of her shirt.

"I keep thinking of you in that bathing suit, and I start to get hard."

Her head snapped up at that, the precarious position of his hand forgotten. "Oh," she squeaked, a strange coiling in her gut rendering her speechless. She might have laughed otherwise. This was so bizarre. Peeta was watching her face, his eyes dark and trained on her solely. His lips quirked slightly. "I know you saw me the other night," he declared suddenly. There was no accusation in his tone, but she still flushed with shame. She knew this was bound to come up at some point.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to—I was just getting some water, and I—"

"Did you wish it were you?" he interrupted, and she clamped her mouth shut, her eyes wide. Did she? She thought about all she'd felt that night—disgust, surprise, confusion...arousal and envy. Yes, she wished it had been her on her knees, pleasuring him with her mouth.

Embarrassed, she looked away, and after a beat, she nodded, avoiding his gaze. But his fingers on her chin tipped her face back toward his. "Good," he said. "Me too."

She barely had time to register his confession because then his mouth was on hers, soft yet firm as his lips pressed against her own. Her wide eyes stared at his closed lids, and she managed a soft, quick inhale when his thumb tugged on her chin, parting her sealed lips. Instinctively, she met his tongue with her own, her eyes nearly rolling into the back of her head as he tilted his head to seamlessly fit their mouths together so he could stroke her tongue more easily with his own. An embarrassing whimper escaped her throat, but he responded with a guttural moan, kissing her harder. She tried to match the movements of his tongue, hoping her enthusiasm made up for her inexperience; she was suddenly thankful for the time she made out in a closet with Darius Sawatzky at a party in 11th grade. But this time it wasn't a dare or a silly high school game. And Peeta was a much better kisser.

Katniss was glad he had a steady grip on her waist to hold her up because she was sure her knees were going to give out any moment. She already felt lightheaded, blood rushing in her ears and between her thighs. She released another whimper when her clit pulsated in sync with the rhythm of his tongue against hers, and she steadied herself with her hand on his thigh.

Peeta pulled her closer between his legs, her pelvis uncomfortably flush against the bar stool, but she refused to complain or ruin the moment; instead, she stood up on her toes for better leverage and hesitantly braced her other hand on his shoulder. He released her hip and cupped her jaw to cradle her face while they kissed, nipping at her lips with his teeth in between flicks of his tongue.

There was something nagging at the back of her mind that she couldn't shake, despite how distracted she was. She knew she would probably regret it, but she needed to know. "What...what about...Glimmer? Aren't you two...?" she gasped between kisses, trailing off, and he paused to drag her bottom lip between his teeth.

"She's just a friend," he whispered, sucking on her lip before continuing, "We've fooled around a little, but that's it. We're not dating."

"Oh," she exhaled against his lips, feeling his quirk up into a brief smile before he reclaimed her mouth.

"You were jealous," he chuckled into the kiss, and she felt embarrassment burn in her throat even as his tongue slid into her mouth. "It's cute. God, you're so fucking hot," he groaned after the kiss, and he tried to pull her closer still before realizing the height obstacle the stool presented. Breaking the kiss, he grabbed her hips and hefted her up onto the other bar stool behind her, then he reached his hands under the seat and yanked her closer. Dazed, Katniss steadied herself on his forearms while he hooked her knees over his thighs. She blushed when she looked down, realizing she was spread before him. She hoped her arousal hadn't seeped through her underwear and shorts at this point, but she knew she was uncomfortably wet as it was; he had to be aware of it by now.

But he was kissing her again, banishing all of her self-awareness again. His hand was in her hair, on her neck, then sliding down her chest until his palm covered her breast, and she gasped when he squeezed it, kneading it through her flimsy night shirt. Her nipple was hard and sensitive, his thumb brushing over it and causing her to buck in her seat. He swallowed her moan, echoing it back to her when he squeezed her breast again, more firmly this time.

"Your tits are perfect," he marveled, panting against her mouth. Her eyes fluttered open to look at him, but his gaze was cast downward as he watched his own hand knead her breast. His words, his actions made her clit throb painfully, and she bit down on her lip in an effort to muffle her labored breathing. "I've been dying to touch them ever since I saw you in that bathing suit earlier, trying to imagine how they look," he admitted in a hushed, gruff voice. At that, his other hand dropped to her thigh and pushed her shirt out of the way, allowing him to slide his hand up her bare stomach and cup her right breast.

"Ah!" she gasped out loud, a jolt coursing from her nipple to her core as his callused palm teased the pebbled bud. He grunted in amusement but squeezed again, his fingers pinching her other nipple through her shirt simultaneously. Peeta paused for a moment to tug her shirt up, exposing her breasts to his eyes. She was out of her mind with lust and pleasure, any self-consciousness she would have felt at him seeing her naked breasts completely eradicated with each pass of his thumb over her nipple.

"So fucking beautiful," he murmured, palming her breasts in both of his hands, and she whimpered pathetically. She was so wet, the painful tingling in her clit a constant pressure now; she felt like she was going to implode. One of his hands released her breast to reach around her back and splay across her back, and he tilted her back in the stool some, holding her up. Her eyes widened when she watched him lower his mouth to her breast, his lips suctioning around the nipple to pull into the wet heat of his mouth.

"Oh my god," she croaked out, and he sucked harder, using his teeth to scrape the nipple periodically between pulls of his lips and swipes of his tongue. "Peeta," she hissed, grabbing onto his head to hold him closer and maintain her balance. He moaned in response and switched breasts, sucking the other nipple into his mouth. Katniss tipped her head back, feeling lightheaded and untethered from reality at the moment. No way was this happening. She must be dreaming; that was the only explanation. She must have fallen asleep while reading, and that's where she really was, fast asleep in Madge's bed, having a wet dream starring her friend's brother and her current object of affection.

Peeta's teeth nipping at her nipple brought her back to the moment, however, and she squirmed in his embrace, wanting to beg for more but not wanting to speak up and potentially ruin everything. The exquisite pain in her clit was too much, though; she needed relief. She began to shift in the stool, undulating her pelvis with minute revolutions of her hips in an attempt to apply some much-needed friction to her clit. She choked back a moan when it worked, fissures of pleasure radiating through her body, but he noticed immediately, pulling back. She froze, her cheeks blooming with heat, and she met his eyes.

But he just smiled at her. "Do you want me to do that for you?" he asked, his fingers skimming the hemline of her shorts. Katniss chewed on her lip, wary to voice her desires. Why was she even thinking about it?

"Yeah-yes, please," she whispered, her voice shaky. With a smile, he flicked his tongue over her nipple one more time before he slipped his fingers underneath the crotch of her shorts and panties. When he made contact with her folds, she jerked in his arms, shocked, but he held her fast.

"Fuck, Katniss, you are so wet," he laughed disbelievingly. His amazement would have embarrassed her, but his fingers kept moving through her folds, swirling through the wetness pooling out of her, stealing any coherent thought from her. She was overly sensitive, the touch of his fingers—anyone's, really, other than her own—foreign and new and exciting; she began to tremble, strangled whimpers leaking from her throat, much the way her arousal leaked from her. It was unreal. Her fingers tightened in his hair, trying to still the shaking of her limbs.

His finger grazed her clit, and she cried out, clamping her mouth shut when Peeta shushed her. He laughed, though, kissing her leisurely as he rubbed her clit teasingly. "Not so loud," he murmured against her mouth, his tone taunting but gentle. She just nodded, desperate for him to continue his assault on her clit, for him to apply more pressure, or to fuck her with his fingers—something, anything—she just couldn't stand the torture anymore. "Does that feel good?" he asked, nuzzling her neck, and her chest hitched erratically a few times as she struggled to catch her breath.

"Yes, so-so good," she choked out, pressing against his hand as he stroked her lips and clit, never quite settling on one spot. His fingers slipped between her folds more, teasing her entrance, and she inhaled sharply. He sighed, tracing an indecipherable pattern on the tendon in her neck with his tongue.

"You're so wet and hot. God, I wanna fuck you so bad, Katniss," he said, his lips tickling the crook of her neck, and she squeezed his shoulder, sliding her palm over the bare muscles there; she could feel them flexing as he moved his hand between her legs. "I bet you would feel so amazing. Your pussy so tight around my cock. Fuck, I'm so hard just thinking about it. Are you thinking about it?"

Her breathing was so hard and uneven, she could barely talk. "Yeah," she forced out, because it was all she'd been able to think about ever since she'd met him. She couldn't even believe he thought about it, too. Her panties were soaked through by this point, for fuck's sake. He had to realize how badly she wanted him.

Katniss stiffened suddenly, feeling the tip of his middle finger slide into her, but she forced herself to relax, to focus on his mouth on her neck, on how good it felt. If she couldn't handle his finger, how was she ever going to handle the rest of him? It didn't hurt at least, just a minor discomfort as his thick finger pushed further into her. It felt mildly satisfying, even, feeling his finger inside her. Peeta groaned, his teeth bearing down into her flesh.

"God, yeah, I can't wait to be inside you," he sighed, and she just nodded eagerly, hoping he couldn't sense her nervousness. She couldn't comprehend beyond that moment to some point in the future when they were going to fuck. Actually fucking, with his cock inside her. It was too much. All she could focus on was the finger inside her.

And then suddenly there were two fingers inside her, his index finger joining his middle one, and her mouth stretched open in discomfort. This time it was painful, the thickness of his fingers beyond anything else she'd ever had inside her up to that point, stretching her in a way she'd never been stretched before. An involuntary gasp of pain slipped through her lips, and she tried to spread her legs wider, as if it would help, but the pain remained. She grimaced as he moved his fingers inside her a few times, and then, thankfully, he stopped, pulling his head back to look at her. She was too afraid to meet his eyes, but it must have been written all over her face.

For a moment, all she heard was his heavy breathing, and she closed her eyes, waiting for him to pull away entirely. But he didn't move, and his fingers remained inside her. "Katniss..." he halted. Was there concern in his voice? "Does this hurt?"

She gasped despite herself, unable to hold her breath anymore, and she felt the dull ache where his fingers were. "A little," she answered, her voice small. She still couldn't look at him. He was quiet for another moment before he spoke again, very carefully.

"Are you a virgin?"

She squeezed her eyes shut, scrunching her nose. She wasn't embarrassed, or at least hadn't been before about the fact, but now she had no idea how he was going to react to the news. What if he stopped?

"Um...yeah, I've never...never..." she trailed off, wondering what his expression looked liked from behind her closed lids. But she couldn't bring herself to look.

"Ever?" he reiterated, disbelief in his tone. She shook her head slowly.

"No..."

She heard him take a deep breath, and she felt a pinch of regret when his fingers slid out of her. The relief was there, too, but she didn't want him to stop, not really. She immediately began berating herself; she shouldn't have told him. She should have played it off, kept her mouth shut.

"Katniss," he began again, his voice stern but still soft, somehow. She opened her eyes despite herself to look him in the face. His eyes were trained on her, but she couldn't read his expression until it softened. "You should have told me. I would have been more gentle."

"Oh," she said stupidly, not quite comprehending what he was telling her until his fingers lighted upon her clitoris again, rubbing small circles on it. She spasmed in his arms, and he pulled her tighter against him, using the pads of his three middle fingers to stroke the bundle just above her entrance. "Oh god," she moaned, the pleasure swift and more intense than before, the pain of the previous intrusion quickly forgotten.

"Does that feel better?" he asked in her ear, and she nodded frantically, her thighs pressing down over top of his, her hips thrusting forward to encourage the movements of his fingers.

"Yes," she gasped, digging her fingers into the taut muscles of his shoulders. The buildup was fast and unexpected, the pleasure coiling between her thighs, and she knew she was going to snap any second. She heard him laugh quietly, probably at the ridiculous sounds she was making.

"You gonna come for me?" he asked gruffly, pressing down harder as he rubbed the swollen nub faster. That was her undoing, so sudden and startling, she couldn't help the surprised yelp that escaped her. Peeta hushed her with his mouth, kissing her harshly to stifle the cries bubbling from her throat as her orgasm tore through her. His fingers didn't let up either, coaxing more tremors from her; her clit continued to pulse under his fingertips, and she quaked almost violently. He just held her tighter against his chest until the sensation ebbed, just a dull afterglow, and she panted around his tongue.

She was unprepared for the sensation of his fingers sliding inside her again, her walls still fluttering from her orgasm. "Ah," she breathed out, feeling him pump them in and out of her gingerly, slowly. It didn't hurt this time, the feeling less foreign, thankfully, though it was still a bit uncomfortable. Peeta was watching her face intently.

"Better?" he asked, his fingers moving inside her more easily with the rush of wetness from her orgasm.

She nodded. "Yes," she said weakly, reflexively clenching her walls around his fingers. His eyes darkened noticeably, and he let out a small groan.

"Fuck," he sighed before he chuckled, shaking his head. He pulled his fingers out then and dutifully positioned her underwear back in place, straightening her clothes for her. She watched him, a little dumbfounded and confused. He noticed her expression and grinned, tapping her chin slightly.

"Don't worry. I still plan to fuck you. But another time. You should go to bed, though," he told her, sitting back in his stool and pulling her into an upright position as well.

"Okay," she said stupidly, sliding out of her seat until her feet hit the ground. "What about you?"

He flashed her a half-grin. "Still thirsty," he said, picking up his cup of water for a sip. "Goodnight, Katniss."

And because she didn't know what else to do, she numbly headed back upstairs to Madge's bedroom. It wasn't until she'd laid down to go to sleep that she realized she hadn't even touched him or returned the favor.

What the hell just happened?


Katniss didn't say a word to Madge about what had transpired between her and Peeta. She could barely explain it to herself. When it became obvious the next day that Peeta wasn't going to mention it either—or even acknowledge her beyond a casual greeting in passing, apparently—she'd resolved, in all her anger and humiliation and hurt, to completely wipe the memory from her mind. Or try to, anyway. It was asking the impossible, but like hell was she going to let on that any of it affected her.

That was, until Peeta covertly pulled on her braid on his way out the front door when Madge's back was turned to them. At Katniss' stunned look, he just smiled at her before slipping out the door. A moment later, her phone pinged in her pocket with a text from him.

Text me later when you're alone.

She was such a goner, all previous frustration with him dissipating.

She did as he instructed, though Madge didn't fall asleep until nearly 1:30 in the morning. Katniss wasn't even sure Peeta was still up or in the house when she sent him a tentative text as she lay in bed beside her sleeping friend. Hey. Despite everything—or because of everything—she still felt nervous, her heart palpitating obnoxiously.

It took a moment, but eventually his reply appeared on her screen (she'd made sure to silence her phone this time, just in case): There you are.

She smiled to herself, chewing her lip before letting her fingers fly across the keys. What are you up to?

Watching a movie in the bonus room. Wanna keep me company?

As if there was any question about it. Katniss kept her eagerness under wraps and responded with a simple, Sure. Waiting a full minute, she climbed out of bed and slipped out of the room, quietly shutting the door behind her before she crept toward the bonus room. The door was shut, but blue light filtered through the crack at the bottom, like it was guiding her toward him. She took a moment to smooth her hair down and straighten her pajamas before tapping a soft greeting on the door and slowly opening it. She peeked her head in to find Peeta on the couch, the glow of the TV flickering off his face. He turned to look and smiled at the sight of her. Her heart fluttered, but she hesitated at the threshold.

"Hey, come on in," he prompted, patting the spot on the couch beside him. Smiling shyly, she stepped into the room and shut the door behind her. He watched her intently as she crossed toward the couch, and when he held his hand out to her, she took it, allowing him to pull her down onto the couch beside him. Awkwardly, she settled in beside him, conscious of the proximity of their bodies. It was strange, considering how intimately he knew her now, and yet she still didn't know how comfortable, how close, she could get with him. He rested his hand on her thigh and gave it a small squeeze, turning his attention back to the TV. She didn't know what to do next.

"Um, what are you watching?" she asked, though the moment she allowed herself to glance at the TV, it was quite obvious what was on.

"Scrubs," he said absently, his gaze trained on the TV, and she just nodded.

"Good show," she whispered, almost to herself, but the increased pressure of his hand on her leg let her know he heard her.

"It is," he agreed. After a moment, he glanced down at her, his eyebrow raised slightly. She lifted her own expectantly. "You okay about last night?"

She hadn't been prepared for such a direct question; her eyes went wide, her mouth opening and closing a couple times until she found her voice. "Uh...I mean...yes? Are you?"

He smiled, lifting his hand to caress her hair. "Of course. Just checking."

Katniss cleared her throat, looking away. "Okay. I just...I didn't know. Since you didn't...I mean, we didn't...talk about it or anything. Today, I mean." He knows what you mean—stop saying that, she scolded herself mentally.

Peeta's lips quirked. "I know. I didn't think it was a good idea to clue Madge into anything. Right? She's never been too keen about her friends having crushes on me."

Surprise flickered across her face before settling into annoyance, and she scowled. "I don't have a—"

His sudden bark of laughter cut her off. "Let's not lie to each other, okay?"

Her cheeks went hot with embarrassment, and she dropped his gaze, turning hers back to the TV stubbornly. It was humiliating that she'd been so obvious in her interest in him. His hand was in her hair then, fingers combing through the strands, drew her eyes back to him. "You don't have to be shy now. It's okay to want me. I want you, too." He leaned closer, his nose brushing her hair out of the way so he could murmur in her ear, "And I plan to give you what you want."

Her eyes fluttered closed at his words and at his breath on her ear. It sent a delicious chill through her, and she yielded readily when he turned her face toward his, capturing her lips with his. The kiss was soft and languid at first, but it quickly intensified until he was sucking on her tongue and panting into her mouth, making her tremble under the pressure of his body pinning hers against the back cushions. Her body reacted instantaneously to him, coming alive under his touch. Her nipples were stiff against her shirt, his fingers setting them on fire even through her shirt as he stroked them. She could already tell her panties were soaked. She tried to take control of the kiss and assert some dominance, sliding her tongue into his mouth as her hands slid into his hair, fisting around his silky curls. He bit down on her lip in return, and she moaned, wanting nothing more than to pull his body down onto hers and settle the weight of his solid form between her legs where she was throbbing urgently for him.

But she wanted something else first.

With a protesting sound, she pushed on his chest some to break the kiss, regretfully. He narrowed his eyes at her, confused, his lips moist and red. She smiled shyly, summoning her courage to voice her question. "Um, do you want me to...?" She gestured to his groin where his loose pajama pants were tenting from his erection.

He raised an eyebrow, his mouth curling into a half-smile. "If you want to." She nodded, and he sat back, pulling her into his lap so her legs splayed over his. She sat back some so his erection was accessible, feeling her heart rate pick up when she looked down at his lap again. Peeta gave her knees a reassuring squeeze before he stretched the waistband of his pants down and pulled out his cock. Her breath caught in her throat at the sight.

She'd seen it before, but still. She felt overwhelmed, unsure where to start, and she ended up just gawking at it. "Never done this before either, huh?" he asked. His tone didn't sound patronizing, so she just shook her head in answer. Peeta slipped his hand behind her neck and pulled her down for a kiss, quick but fierce, before releasing her. Then he took her right hand in his left and wrapped it around his shaft. She inhaled sharply; the skin was soft, silky almost, but underneath it was hard and turgid. Her hand looked small next to his cock, dwarfed by his own large hand as well. He tightened her fist around him, emitting a soft sigh. "Like that, grip it hard," he whispered, then he directed her hand up and down, slowly at first, until he built a steady rhythm. She watched in amazement, the head of his cock nearly disappearing in the enclosure of her fist as he jacked himself off with both their hands. He felt amazing. "Think you got it?" he asked tightly, the question almost a hiss. His eyes were already closed, his head tipped back against the couch.

"Yeah," she breathed, squeezing his shaft a little harder as she took over. Peeta let go of her hand, his own settling on her bare calves where he gave her a small, encouraging squeeze. His chest rose and fell with his heavy breathing, soft moans sticking in his throat.

"God, yeah. Like that, Katniss," he groaned, and she swore she could feel him swelling even larger in her hand. She watched in amazement as she stroked him, the dewy drop of pre-cum glistening on his head tempting her. The urge was sudden, startling even, considering this was her first time even holding a dick, but she felt compelled to lick it up with her tongue, to taste him, then take him into her mouth. She so badly wanted to, but she didn't. She wasn't ignorant of their location, how it was only days ago that it was another girl in this position.

The thought made her angry, and she squeezed his cock tighter, causing him to buck up into her hand. "Oh, fuck," he hissed, the slow, deliberate bob of his adam's apple hypnotizing. Mesmerized, she leaned forward and latched onto the offering with her mouth, sucking the delicate flesh firmly, possessively. His approving groan vibrated against her tongue through the thick column of his neck. "Shit, Katniss. Faster." His hips thrust upward to emphasize his point, and she complied. The rapid movements of her hand felt clumsy and jerky, and she couldn't find a consistent pace, but he didn't complain at least.

Peeta crushed her against his chest suddenly, pinning his cock between their bodies, but she kept her hand moving, fighting the fatigue. She laved the skin of his neck generously with her tongue before kissing a sloppy trail down to the curve of his shoulder, worrying the muscle there with her teeth. His quiet moans and haggard breathing were like a melody in her ear, and she swelled with pride listening to it, feeling his erratic heartbeat through her own chest.

He shifted underneath her, snaking his hand between their bodies to grab hers. She stilled her movements in surprise, but he just cupped her hand over the head and squeezed tightly. "I'm coming," he grunted, and a second later she felt a warm fluid fill her palm, spurting in sync with the pulsing of his cock. Even though she couldn't see anything, she watched her hand raptly as he came into it, his own hand covering it. There was too much semen, and she felt it leak through the cracks of her fingers, dripping down his shaft.

After a minute or two, Peeta let out a satisfied sigh and loosened his hold on her hand, letting his hand drop to the couch. Carefully, she pried her hand off his softening cock, still clutching his cum in her palm. What was she supposed to do now? His fingers on her temple, brushing her hair out of her face, caught her attention, and she glanced up at him. His cheeks were flushed, and his eyes glassy, but he smiled crookedly at her. "I'll get you a towel, just...give me a minute," he offered, his head falling back on the couch as he caught his breath.

She nodded to herself but precariously opened her hand. It was sticky and wet from his semen, which clung to her palm and fingers. Bizarrely, saliva began to pool in her mouth, and she chewed her lip anxiously before she pushed away all rational thought and decidedly licked up a taste from the heel of her hand. It was warm, salty even. A taste she really couldn't describe, but it wasn't bad. Determined, she licked the rest up and swallowed every last drop of his cum until her hand was clean and glistening with her own saliva.

When she was done, she realized Peeta was watching her intently, his eyes nearly black. She froze under his stare, a blush claiming her cheeks. "I just—I figured that was easier," she explained sheepishly. It was only half true; she didn't want to admit out loud how badly she wanted to taste him.

His cheek twitched slightly, his lip curling, and she yelped quietly when he yanked her toward him, kissing her until she was breathless. When he pulled away, he nuzzled his nose against the side of her face, breathing into her ear. "When we finally fuck, I'm gonna fuck you so hard and good, you're never gonna want anyone else again, d'you understand?" he growled, and she whimpered.

"Why not—why not now?" she practically begged, suddenly aware of how wet she'd become while jacking him off. His words only exacerbated the problem.

He laughed darkly. "'Cuz there are other things I wanna do to you first," he told her, tugging her earlobe between his teeth. "Like eat you out."

She closed her eyes, enjoying the feel of his tongue on her ear. She took a deep, shaky breath. "I want...I wanna give you head, too," she said, and he hummed in agreement.

"You will. In time," he promised, then he reared back slightly to look her in the face. "Now take off your panties so I can make you come."


For what had to have been the hundredth time, Katniss snuck a peek at her phone. When she saw there was still no text from Peeta, she stifled her sigh and shut the screen off, dropping it on the carpet. Madge laughed hysterically at the cat video playing on her laptop currently, and Katniss offered what she hoped was a convincing laugh, trying to pretend like she wasn't totally obsessing over her friend's brother and his lack of response.

They'd been fooling around for a couple weeks now, but it had been days since their last rendezvous. Either he was busy or out with friends, or she had to work. She hadn't been concerned at first, though most of her daydreaming centered around the many ways he'd gotten her off, or she'd made him come—just through manual stimulation or dry humping at this point. She wondered when they'd get to the oral stage. And the actual sex stage.

At this rate, it was going to be never. She'd sent him a text earlier in the night to let him know she was at his house hanging out with Madge, hinting at a late-night meetup with him. But that had been hours ago, and she hadn't heard back. She didn't know where he was at or what he was up to. Some stupid, irrational, paranoid voice in the back of her head taunted her with the very real possibility that he'd lost interest in her, that he was already hooking up with someone else.

Which was fine, really, if that's what he had decided. They weren't going out or anything, so if he wanted to date another girl, fine.

Except...it really wasn't fine, she admitted silently, frowning to herself. She really liked him, despite her best judgment. And it seriously sucked if he was just leading her on and fucking with her head.

Swallowing another frustrated sigh, she flipped her phone over so its blank screen wouldn't taunt her anymore. This was why she'd told herself not to bother with relationships or romantic entanglements while she was in high school. It made you act stupid.

"Oh god, that was funny," Madge giggled as she wiped a tear from her eye and closed out of the window on her computer. Her phone vibrated at that second, and she stretched across the floor to grab her phone from her nightstand. Katniss tried not to think about her own lack of texting as Madge distracted herself with her phone, probably replying to whatever message she'd gotten. After she finished, she sat up and grinned conspiratorially at Katniss, a mischievous gleam in her eye. Katniss furrowed her brow.

"What's with the smile?" she asked curiously, and Madge shrugged, still grinning.

"Nothing, really. Only...guess who's been texting me," she prompted, her excitement palpable. Katniss didn't have a clue.

"Who?"

Madge's smile widened. "Gale." At her friend's blank look, she elaborated, "Hawthorne. You know, Peeta's friend. From the party. I was talking to him for a while. I gave him my number..."

"Oh!" Katniss said in recognition, her eyes widening. She smiled despite herself. "You fucking hussy," she joked. "When did this start?"

"Just a couple days ago. It was very casual though, so I didn't want to jinx it. Buuut...things have progressively gotten flirtier," Madge said happily. Her phone vibrated again, and her face lit up when she read the text, quickly replying. Then she laughed to herself at whatever the response was. Katniss watched her, both excited and a little jealous. She couldn't help but think of her own situation.

"Does Peeta know you're talking to Gale?" she asked brazenly, and Madge shot her a look.

"No. I don't think so, anyway. I doubt Gale would tell him, and I sure as hell won't. He'd probably lose his shit."

Katniss nodded thoughtfully, feeling an overwhelming urge of guilt that she'd been fooling around with her best friend's brother behind her back. She was a horrible friend, keeping this from her, but if she told her now, it'd just be worse.

She glanced forlornly at her phone one more time. It was probably for the best that he didn't text her back.


Katniss jolted awake in the middle of the night when her phone pinged rather loudly. She blinked uncomprehendingly into the darkness of the room, trying to shake off the vestiges of sleep and gather her bearings. Madge's disgruntled groan beside her oriented her, and she remembered where she was. She had a text. Rubbing her eyes, she reached for her phone, pausing momentarily when Madge mumbled something and rolled over. Then she looked at the screen.

Come to my room.

Katniss stared at the message for longer than necessary. It was 3 a.m. Peeta expected her to come at his call now? She rubbed her eyes again and settled onto her back as she debated. A second text a moment later surprised her: Please :)

Ugh. She glanced at Madge, who was already snoring away again. With a weary sigh, she silenced her phone and set it back down before getting out of the bed. She made the familiar trek to the door and slipped out, silent as ever, and she tiptoed down the dark hallway to Peeta's room. Not that anyone was possibly awake at this time, but she made sure to move with as much stealth and caution as usual. She didn't bother knocking, just twisted the knob and cracked the door open enough to squeeze inside. The lights of his room were harsh, and she squinted as she surveyed his room, quickly locating him on his bed, where he was sprawled out on his back. He lifted his head and smiled at her, sitting up on his elbows.

"Hey."

She frowned—pouted, really. "I was asleep. What do you want?" she asked, folding her arms over her stomach, under her breasts, in a defensive gesture. The question came out harsher than she intended, but she was cranky and agitated now, and she needed him to know he couldn't just order her around.

His face registered shock, and he sat up fully to look at her better. "Wow, so much sass," he said mockingly. "You didn't have to come. I just thought you might want to."

Embarrassed, she averted her eyes. "I do, I just...you didn't respond earlier, so..." What the hell were you up to? she wanted to demand, but that was crazy.

Peeta sank back on his hands some and chuckled. "I was busy. Sorry I wasn't prompt in my reply."

She rolled her eyes, her annoyance festering. She wasn't going to stand there and be patronized. "Whatever," she huffed, pivoting on her heel to leave, but he called to her.

"Katniss, come on," he cajoled, leaning forward. "I didn't see your text until late, and by that point I wasn't sure if I'd be home tonight or not, so I didn't want to disappoint you. I'm not trying to fuck with your head here, I promise."

She sighed, her indifferent posturing melting already. She looked down at the floor and realized suddenly that she didn't have any shorts on, just her night shirt that just barely covered her ass. Warmth filled her cheeks, and she hastily tucked her hair behind her ears, fighting the urge to tug her shirt down. "Well...I should probably get back to bed..." she started, but this time Peeta pouted.

"Katniss," he practically whined. His tone surprised her, and she raised her eyebrows expectantly. He smiled, holding his hand out to her. Grudgingly, she shuffled closer to him, letting him take her hand and pull her between his legs. "I have been thinking about you all day, you know. It's been too long..."

To emphasize his words, he played with the hem of her shirt, lifting it slightly to drag his fingers across the tops of her thighs and over her panty-clad pelvis. Her stomach tensed, and she sucked her bottom lip into her mouth. "Yeah, it has," she agreed weakly.

Bunching her shirt in his fist, he raised it even higher to expose her underwear completely, and he rested his hand on her abdomen. His eyes met hers through his lashes. "Do you know what I'd really like to do to you now?" he asked huskily, and she inhaled deeply.

"What?"

His finger dipped into her panties, and he inched them down. "Taste you," he declared, and her heart rate spiked.

"Oh?" she said dumbly, her mouth parting as he tugged her panties down further.

"Mmhmm," he hummed, his other hand coming up to hook in the left side, and he pulled her underwear down her legs. When they reached her knees, he let them go, and they fluttered to the floor, pooling around her feet. She stepped out of them hesitantly, and he grabbed her by her hips to pull her closer, until her knees hit the edge of the bed. Her shirt inched up further with his hands, and he pressed his mouth against her stomach, dipping his tongue into her bellybutton. The effect was immediate, arousal leaking out of her, and she threaded her fingers through his hair. Peeta paused, tipping his face upward and resting his chin on her abdomen. He grinned at her. "I can smell you already."

Her face warmed considerably, but he didn't give her a chance to respond as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into his lap, falling backward onto his bed and twisting her underneath him. She settled into the mattress fairly dumbfounded, but she didn't have time to consider the situation because he was kissing her next, his tongue coaxing hers into play, and she moaned into his mouth. Her fingers clawed at the nape of his neck, and she pressed upward against him, her kisses needy and aggressive. She felt his hand settle on her breast once he'd pushed her shirt up to her neck, squeezing the mound and tweaking the nipple. He swallowed the sound she made and dipped his tongue further into her mouth.

When she felt his hand between her thighs next, she gasped, nearly knocking her forehead against his. His fingers made contact with her wet folds, and he groaned around her tongue as he teased her lips, swirling two of his fingers around her clit and through the gathering moisture. Breaking the kiss, he pulled his head back slightly to look at her. Her eyelids felt heavy, and she hitched her knees up to plant her feet on the bed, spreading her legs wider for him. He cracked a smile.

"Thatta girl," he murmured smugly, circling her clit. She moaned and shut her eyes to revel in the sensation.

"Peeta," she whispered, fisting the sheets underneath her in her hands. She opened her eyes again in alarm when she felt him shift on the bed, sitting up. But he just settled in between her thighs and slid off the bed to the floor. His hands hooked around her thighs, and he yanked her to the edge of the bed. She had to spread her legs wider to keep her feet on the bed, but his face was level with her crotch now, and every insecurity and self-conscious bone in her body screamed in protest. "Um, Peeta—"

"You're so pretty," he said, and she glanced down at him. He wasn't looking up at her but instead directly between her legs. She wanted to laugh. It was far from pretty, but if he thought so, she wasn't going to argue. "Do you want me to lick your pussy, Katniss?" he asked, his breath hot on her folds, and she scrunched her face up in anticipation, slinging her arm over her eyes.

"Yes," she said, her voice soft, and even though she tried to brace herself for the sensation, his wet tongue gliding through her lips was still a shock, pulling a gasp from her lungs. He did it again, guiding his tongue over her entrance several times to lick up her arousal, and her entire body tensed, her grip on the sheets tightening. "Oh my god."

Peeta moaned, dipping his tongue inside her, first teasingly, then deeper, his fingers spreading her open to allow him better access. She could feel his lips and teeth moving against her as he worked his tongue in and out of her, and she couldn't help the gasping moans that emitted from her. "Oh my god," she repeated on a whine. He chuckled deeply, retracting his mouth some.

"You like that?" he teased, and she nodded frantically, grappling for his hair so she could pull him back.

"Please don't stop," she begged at the ceiling, and he acquiesced, latching his mouth back onto her pussy. This time, his tongue found her swollen clit, caressing it experimentally—first, in small flicks, then in broad vertical strokes before he settled on fast, sideways swipes when her responding moans doubled with the changes.

"Ohgodohgodohgod," she chanted pathetically, her hips bucking against his face as she tried to encourage the attention of his tongue and spur on her orgasm. The sensation of his mouth on her pussy was weird and new and wonderful, and she didn't want him to stop, but she needed some relief for the mounting pressure at her core. Her whole body was trembling, her legs shaking; she couldn't stand it. "Oh fuck, Peeta, fuck, I'm close."

He let up on her clit for a moment to slip his tongue back between her folds, teasing them and drawing her juices into his mouth. When she pulled on his hair with a desperate mewl, he attacked her clit once again, resuming the furious rotations of his tongue on the swollen bud. He slid his fingers inside her to replace his tongue, pumping them steadily and curling them upward as he maintained the rhythm on her clit. It was exquisite, and dangerous, and she felt like everything began and ended right there at his tongue between her thighs.

"Fuck, I'm coming!" she shouted, oblivious to how loud she was as her body began to quake. Peeta just fucked her harder with his fingers, his tongue moving faster, and her orgasm ripped through her, forcing a strangled cry from her lips. Her thighs clamped shut around his head, and her clit pulsed painfully as she thrust her hips against his mouth to ride out her climax. When it was finally over, when he finally released her, she melted into the bed, limp and boneless and sated and weirdly delirious. She watched through lidded eyes as Peeta stood up, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and then unzip his pants to pull his cock out. He pushed her knees open wider, and for a second she thought, Finally.

But he didn't crawl on top of her. "Pull your shirt up so I can see your tits," he demanded of the shirt that had fallen back down during her wild thrashing, and she complied, exposing her breasts for him again. His hand held her thighs open, and his other took his cock in hand. He began to stroke himself, his eyes riveted to her body, darting between her pussy and breasts and face. She watched him jack himself off, his hand moving fast and purposefully over his cock. She was too tired to offer any help. There was something oddly mesmerizing and arousing about the moment, him jerking off while he looked at her. Her hands groped at her breasts, pinching her nipples, and he huffed, tugging on his cock harder.

"Finger yourself," he told her, and she moved her hand between her thighs, wincing when she felt how sensitive her clit still was. Instead, she pushed a couple fingers inside herself and leisurely pumped them in and out, her breathing increasingly dramatically. She couldn't believe she was doing this. "Shit, you're incredible. So fucking hot," he grunted, his nostrils flaring, and she moaned softly.

"So are you," she keened, her face flushing, and she stroked herself for his benefit. His hand tightened on her knee.

"Shit, I'm gonna come on you," he warned. She wasn't sure what he meant exactly, but she pulled her hand out between her legs and stilled her movements. Peeta knelt on the edge of the bed and then leaned over her some, his hand jerking erratically as he gasped. She startled slightly when the first spurt of his cum hit her stomach, then she watched in awe as he spilled himself on her, his cum pooling on her abdomen around her belly button, dripping down the sides of her torso. Her eyes lifted to watch his face twist in pleasure while he came, his own eyes watching her face. She couldn't look away.

Finally, he sighed and released his cock, tucking himself back into his pants. Then he pulled his shirt off over his head and used it to wipe her off. "Sorry, I hope that was okay."

She didn't say anything for a moment as she watched him clean the cum off her stomach. "Yeah...I liked it," she admitted, and strangely, she had. She bit her lip shyly. "I really liked what you did before that, too."

He grinned at her and tossed his shirt on the floor. "I thought you might," he said, and he crawled over her, collapsing on top of her. He then buried his face against her neck and sighed. She was surprised by the intimacy of the moment; were they cuddling? She couldn't figure out what to do with her hands, so she left them on the bed at her sides and just listened to him breathe, his chest expanding and contracting against her own. His heartbeat thumped steadily against her rib cage.

Peeta sighed again after a moment. "Man, I'm tired," he laughed. "I could fall asleep right now."

Katniss realized how heavy her eyelids felt then. Her orgasm had completely exhausted her. She nodded. "Me too," she whispered. He shifted off of her then, settling down beside her; she missed the weight of his body, but he wrapped an arm around her waist and tucked her against his chest, nuzzling his face in her hair.

"Let's sleep," he yawned. "Just for a little bit."

She worried about Madge, and getting out of his room before anyone could find them there, but she couldn't fight the sleep anymore. "Okay," she agreed, already slipping into unconsciousness as she snuggled into his embrace.


She'd cut it close, but Katniss magically managed to wake up and sneak back into Madge's bedroom before she stirred for the morning. Waking up next to Peeta, warm in his arms and in his bed, had been a luxury; her movements had woken him, too, and he'd promptly pulled her back against his chest when she'd tried to slip out until he'd realized what time it was. She'd thankfully remembered to shimmy her panties back on before she'd left his room.

Katniss tried not to think too much about Peeta's near refusal to let her leave that morning. He was half-asleep and barely cognizant of who she was. She was stupid to think it meant anything more.

Still, Peeta seemed more attentive after that point. Thankfully, Madge was too wrapped up in her flirtation with Gale to notice the extra attention Peeta was showing Katniss. She didn't seem to pay them any mind a few days later in the pool, as she lay out on her pool chair while Katniss and Peeta splashed around in the water.

Katniss was grateful, then, that Madge had received a phone call, most likely from Gale, because she disappeared inside the house fairly quickly. And now Peeta had her pinned against the side of the pool, her stomach pressed against the cool, smooth surface, as he thrust his erection between her thighs.

"See what you do to me?" he grunted in her ear, his chest firm against her back. She moaned, bracing her arms against the concrete. She kept her eyes glued to the back door, terrified Madge or even their parents were going to come out at any moment, but even still, she pushed her ass back against his pelvis.

"Peeta," she hissed. "We can't do this here."

"No one can see," he insisted, pressing his cock firmly between her thighs, and she grunted in pleasure as the ridge of his cock caught on her clit even between his shorts and her bathing suit. If he kept this up, she was going to come soon. She almost didn't want to stop him, but Madge could walk back out any minute now.

She twisted around in his arms to face him, and he held her around her waist. "Even better," he said triumphantly with a grin as he pressed his cock between her thighs. She groaned, shaking her head.

"No, we should—I think we should go inside. To the bathroom or something. Just in case," she pleaded. He stilled his thrusts, quirking an eyebrow. She spread her fingers out across his abdomen, feeling his muscles flex with his breathing. Then she trailed her hand down till she met the barrier of his shorts. "I really want to..." she left her suggestion unvoiced, smiling shyly at him.

His eyes fluttered closed for a brief second before snapping back open, and he pushed away from her, his jaw clenched. "Go. Now," he commanded. "Downstairs bathroom. I'll be there in a minute."

Not wasting a second, Katniss hoisted herself out of the water and, grabbing her towel off a chair to wind around her body, she scurried to the back door. As she slipped inside, careful not to slip on the hardwood floor, she heard the splashing of water as Peeta climbed out of the pool, too. She quickly surveyed the kitchen to make sure the coast was clear. Madge was nowhere to be found, but Katniss thought she could hear her laughing somewhere upstairs. Good. Maybe they could do this fast and actually get away with it. It was dangerous, but Katniss was too far gone to think rationally.

Hurriedly, she darted into the bathroom and shut the door behind her. Light flooded the small room when she flipped on the light, and she unwrapped her towel from her to dry off her limbs and hair some. She caught sight of herself in the mirror: her hair was wild, her cheeks flushed, and new freckles dotted the bridge of her nose and her shoulders, emblazoned by the sun.

The door swung open then, startling her even though she knew who it was. She spun around to face him, the towel falling to the floor as he lunged for her. The door slammed shut behind him, and she managed a gasp before his mouth descended on hers. Katniss fisted her hands in his wet curls as their tongues dueled, the kiss hot and needy and almost angry. The heat of his mouth and of his body pressed against her was a stark contrast to the cool air hitting her damp skin, and they both moaned when she ground her pelvis against his erection.

She had to force herself to stop, pushing him to arm's length. His face registered shock, and he pleaded, "Katniss—"

"I wanna suck your dick," she blurted, blushing immediately.

His mouth dropped open, but he readily indulged her, pushing his swim trunks down to pull his cock out. She didn't know what else to do other than to drop to her knees before him. He groaned at the sight as she took his cock in hand, bracing his hand against the wall behind her. "Oh, fuck, that's hot," he murmured.

Tentatively, Katniss licked his head, encouraged by his moan. She licked it a few times, swirling her tongue until his head was coated with her saliva. Rearing back slightly, she licked her own lips to ready herself then she opened her mouth to take him between her lips. Her teeth lightly scraped his head, and he hissed in appreciation as she swallowed more of his shaft, until his tip tickled her uvula. Then she pulled back, sucking slightly as his cock slid out of her mouth. Peeta palmed the back of her head to spur her forward, groaning approvingly. "Fuck, just like that, Katniss. Suck my dick harder," he commanded, and she complied, hollowing her cheeks even more as she began to bob her head up and down his cock. The movements of her mouth were unsure at first until she found an acceptable rhythm and pace, spurred on by the sounds he was making. She couldn't get enough of him in her mouth without actively having to fight her gag reflex, so she wrapped her small hand around the base of his cock and began to stroke him in sync with the suction of her mouth around his cock.

Her jaw was quickly growing tired, and it was getting harder to keep her teeth from catching on the ridge of his head too much. She was almost afraid she wouldn't be able to finish him. She sucked harder, determined, the wet pull of her lips and tongue on his cock echoing around the tiny bathroom, making her even wetter with arousal and anticipation.

Finally, Peeta began thrusting into her mouth shallowly, his groans more pained and uninhibited. "Katniss, I'm gonna fucking blow any second. If you don't want to swallow, you need to stop now—"

She squeezed the shaft of his cock firmly and kept her mouth on his head, suckling eagerly until she drew a "Fuck!" from his lips, and he shoved his cock a little further into her mouth as he came. The spurts of his cum hit the roof of her mouth, and she pushed her tongue up to catch the stream and to close off her throat. His cock pulsed steadily as he filled her mouth, and she had to swallow a couple times to keep his semen from spilling out of her mouth. "Ah, shit," he sighed after a minute, and then he carefully pulled out of her mouth, his cock softening gradually. Katniss licked her lips a few times to catch errant strands of saliva and semen, and then she smiled up at him, a little proudly.

Peeta extended his hand to help her back to her feet, pulling her into a languid kiss. She let him dominate it, his tongue stroking hers. His taste still lingered in her mouth, and she was amazed he wasn't bothered by it. He groaned lightly, nipping at her lips. "God, that was good."

"Mmm," she sighed, entangling her arms around his neck. They should get back out to the pool, but she was reluctant to leave the comfort of his arms, and the little privacy they'd managed to find in the bathroom.

Abruptly, Peeta broke away from her and lifted her up onto the sink. He knocked her knees apart to step between them and resume kissing her. His hands curled around her bathing suit straps, and he tugged them down her arms, releasing her breasts from her suit. Her nipples were erect and cool, pebbling even more in the air. He groped her tits greedily, flicking her nipples with his thumbs, and she moaned, leaning back on her hands.

"I want you so bad," he groaned. She gasped when his hand dropped between her thighs to rub her through her bathing suit. She spread her legs wider when he pushed the crotch of her suit out of the way to slide his fingers inside her.

"Oh my god," she whimpered as he slid a third finger inside, stretching her even more, pumping them in and out slowly.

"How does that feel?" he asked lowly, brushing his thumb over clit. Her head fell back with a moan.

"Good—it's good," she choked out. "More, please."

"Fuck," he growled, thrusting his fingers into her harder. He swallowed her cry with a forceful kiss, his other hand tangling in her hair. "I want to be inside you so bad."

"I want you, too."

He panted against her lips and shook his head, pulling his fingers out to stroke her clit. She bucked her hips forward, trapping his hand with her thighs. "I can't fuck you like I want to in here," he said regretfully.

Katniss felt heady with lust and desperation. She needed him now, now, now. "Let's go to your room, please," she begged, kissing the corner of his mouth.

It seemed Peeta was willing to throw caution to the wind, too. His hand snaked out from between her thighs, and he positioned her bathing suit back into place for her, helping her down to the floor. "I'll be right behind you," he told her, his voice full of promise, and he tucked his cock into his swim trunks.

Grabbing her towel, she wrapped it back around her and carefully exited the bathroom. Finding the kitchen empty, she hurried to the hallway and bounded up the stairs. She paused at the top to listen for voices. Madge's drifted from her bedroom, but the door was shut. Breathing hard in excitement, Katniss tiptoed quickly to Peeta's room and slipped inside, quietly shutting the door behind her. She let her towel drop to the floor and hurriedly peeled her bathing suit off, kicking it off her foot. Then she sat on the edge of his bed to wait, naked and ready. Excitement coursed through her veins. and she could barely contain her trembling.

Peeta didn't take long, nearly bursting through the door. He pulled up short at the sight of her, and he let out a low whistle, running his hands through his curls. "Holy shit," he said in awe, then he shook his head and crossed to her.

"Is this okay?" she asked nervously as he approached, suddenly feeling self-conscious. Her hands came up to shield her breasts, but he pulled her arms down to her sides.

"It's perfect. You're perfect. Lie back," he instructed, pausing to remove his shorts. Katniss crawled backward to sprawl out before him. Her heart started to race as he climbed on top of her, pushing her legs apart. Her breath caught in her throat when she looked down at his cock. It wasn't completely hard yet, but already it looked daunting. She bit her lip and looked up at Peeta when his face was level with hers. He reached up to tug her lip out of her mouth, sliding his finger along her bottom lip. She flicked her tongue over the tip, sucking it into her mouth. His blue eyes darkened, and he inhaled deeply, skimming his nose along her cheek. "I'm gonna fuck you so good," he promised. "You drive me crazy, you know that? I can't stand it. This is all I've thought about all summer. I need to be inside you."

She nodded eagerly, wrapping her hand around his cock to stroke him to his full hardness. "I need you to fuck me right now," she whispered shakily, trying to will her nerves away. They needed to move fast. "Please."

With a groan, he stretched across the bed to yank his nightstand drawer open, rifling around for a condom. She leaned up to kiss his neck when he settled back over her, balancing himself on his knees to open the condom. When he positioned the prophylactic at the tip of his cock, she moved her hand away and looked down to watch as he rolled it down his shaft. Then he positioned himself at her entrance, running the condom-covered tip between her folds to coat his cock in her wetness. They both inhaled sharply, and her abdomen tensed in anticipation and nerves. He glanced up at her face, and the corner of his mouth pulled to the side in a half-smile. "You're gonna have to relax," he told her. She tried to smile at him and tried not to focus on his cock parting her lips.

"I know," she whispered, and he leaned down to kiss her again, fully distracting her with his tongue in her mouth. She responded eagerly, pouring all her nervous energy into the kiss. Then he pushed into her, slowly, stretching her open. Her gasp stuck in her throat, her mouth going slack. Peeta peppered kissed on her lips, pulling his hips back some before pushing into her again. A searing pain spread through her, and she hissed through her teeth, gritting them together until she felt him stop once he was buried inside her.

Damn. That hurt. She'd hoped their weeks of fooling around would have gotten her ready for this moment, but not even his fingers could prepare her for the girth of his cock. "Ow," she breathed, willing herself to relax around him.

"Sorry," he apologized, breathing hard.

"It's okay. I want this." She pawed at his shoulders and arms uselessly, hoping to distract herself. He kissed her again before pulling out to thrust back into her. She gasped again, and again when he repeated the motion. It hurt less each time he moved inside her, and she brought her knees up to cradle him between her thighs. "Oh god," she gasped, earning a groan from him.

"Better now?" he asked gruffly, and she nodded, closing her eyes. She felt full but hollow somehow, each time he pulled back, and she clawed at his back to keep him close. His thrusts were slow and measured, like he was holding back. She needed more. "I'm gonna go faster," he told her suddenly, breathing against her neck, and she nodded.

"Please!" she moaned. "I need—I need..."

His next thrust was hard, his pelvis slapping against her inner thighs, and she cried out. It hurt, but she didn't want him to stop, spreading her thighs more for him. "Oh god, Peeta!"

He groaned as he picked up his pace, slamming his hips into hers. She was mesmerized by the wet sound of his cock sliding in and out of her, their skin slapping together.

"Fuck, your pussy feels amazing," he groaned, sitting back on his knees some so he could latch his mouth onto her breast. His teeth clamped down around her nipple as he sucked on it, and she moaned loudly. But then he sat back on his haunches to thrust in and out of her, his nostrils flaring as he watched her. She fondled her breasts for him, the mounds bouncing in her hands with the force of his movements. "God, you're so fucking tight," he gasped. "You're so wet for me, aren't you?"

"Yes," she whimpered, pinching her nipples. Her clit was throbbing again. As good as his cock felt inside her, it wasn't stimulating her clit. She reached down between her legs to rub it, and Peeta groaned painfully.

"Yeah, touch yourself for me." Katniss mewled as she stroked her clit, kneading her breast with her other hand. Peeta continued to thrust into her, lifting her hips up by sliding his hands under her ass. The angle felt even better as he slid in deeper, and she rolled her head back.

"Oh fuck," she began to chant, her moans growing louder as she rubbed her clit faster, the pleasure building quickly. His cock sliding in and out of her pushed her over the edge, and she exploded around him with an abbreviated shout, her walls clenching tight around his cock. Peeta thrust a few more times before burying himself deep inside her with a forceful push, gasping out, "Oh, shit."

Katniss panted harshly, her body shuddering as her orgasm subsided. She could feel him pulsing inside her, his hips rocking slightly as he spilled into the condom. His breathing was harsh, and he groaned softly until he was finished, then he collapsed on top of her, his cock slipping out of her. "Holy fuck."

She sucked in a breath and let it out as a soft moan, too dazed to speak at first.

"Wow," she finally managed, and he laughed throatily before rolling off of her. He looked down at the condom as he pulled it off.

"Well, you didn't bleed, at least," he observed wryly, and she sighed, watching him stand up to dispose of the condom in a waste basket, then he slipped his shorts back on. She covered her naked breasts with her arms, sitting up. She was immediately aware of a slight ache between her thighs. "I don't want to rush you, but we should probably get back downstairs before anyone misses us."

Her face went pale as she remembered where she was, where they were. "Shit," she cursed softly, climbing off his bed to grab her bathing suit. Fuck, she hoped Madge hadn't heard her. How loud had she been? She cringed at herself, stepping into her suit and pulling it up. It was a struggle since it was wet, but Peeta helped her, and she smiled gratefully at him as she scooped her towel off the floor. "Um, thanks," she said, feeling suddenly very awkward. She hadn't been thinking very clearly before the sex, but now she was very aware of their situation. What was going to happen now?

As if sensing her confusion, Peeta cupped her face in his hands and pressed his mouth against hers. Then he smiled at her. "This isn't over," he swore, and she couldn't fight her grin.

"Okay," she said softly, then she stepped away from him and opened his door to enter the hallway. She froze at the sight before her, the towel nearly slipping from her hand. Oblivious, Peeta followed behind her, nearly running into her back.

"What—" he stopped when he realized what had pulled her up short.

Madge.

Her face was twisted in confusion and horror, her phone gripped tightly in her hand.

"Shit," Peeta said quietly behind Katniss, and she scrunched her face up tightly, wishing she could disappear. Shit was right.

Madge shook her head slowly. "What...the fuck were you doing in my brother's room?" she demanded, her voice growing louder with hysteria.

"It's not...it's not what..." Katniss trailed off. What could she say? Of course, it was exactly what it looked like. She couldn't lie right to her best friend's face. She said the only thing she could, caught red-handed: "I'm so sorry, Madge."

"Madge, it's not a big deal," Peeta tried, and Madge sneered at him, directing her disgusted gaze at him.

"Fuck you, pig," she spat, then she brushed past them, storming down the hallway and down the stairs.

"Madge!" Katniss called after her friend desperately, but she didn't respond as she disappeared around the corner. "Fuck."

Peeta's hand surprised her, coming to rest on her shoulder, and she jumped. "It'll be okay, Katniss. Just let her cool off, and you can explain to her—"

"Explain what?" she asked, spinning around to face him. "That I was fucking her brother? Yeah, she's really going to be okay with that." Shaking her head, she brushed his hand off her shoulder and stepped back. "I just...I can't. Leave me alone."

Spinning on her heel, she hurried into Madge's room. The door slamming shut behind her cut off Peeta's voice as he called out to her.

What had she done?


"Katniss!"

The sound of her name startled her from her reverie, and she pushed her way through the crowd to reach the counter, flashing a half-hearted smile when she took her cup of coffee from the barista. Stuffing a couple bucks in the tip jar, she slipped back between a couple other students and headed toward an empty seat in the corner of the Student Union. She had an hour before her next class, and she wanted to fit some reading in while she waited.

Sliding her backpack off her shoulders, she perched it against the side of the armchair and plopped down into it, steadying her coffee, and then she took a sip of it.

"Ah, fuck, hot," she cursed herself, blowing on the surface in an attempt to cool it down.

"Careful, don't wanna burn that pretty little tongue of yours."

Her eyes went wide at the voice, and her head snapped up. She was shocked to see the blonde-haired man before her, pulling up a chair from a nearby table to sit down in. "Peeta," she said in disbelief.

He smiled at her. "Hey, stranger. S'been a while, huh?" he asked casually, leaning forward to brace his elbows against his knees.

"Uh, yeah," she said uneasily. A while was an understatement. She hadn't talked to him since that day at his house, after Madge had caught them coming out of his room. After a few texts to inform him she couldn't see him anymore, she'd successfully avoided him the rest of the summer. It helped that she didn't spend as much time at their house after that point; it took a while for Madge to talk to her again as she stewed in her anger, even longer still to forgive her for deceiving her. Once Katniss managed to explain to her what had been going on between her and Peeta, Madge grudgingly accepted it.

"I can't believe you kept this from me," she'd said angrily, and Katniss had been properly shamed.

"I know. I'm sorry. I didn't know how to tell you. I didn't want you to hate me."

Madge had sighed at that, her face softening. "I don't hate you. It's weird that you slept with my brother, but...I guess I can't be too surprised. This isn't the first time he's flirted with a friend of mine. It was only a matter of time something like this happened, I suppose...He's such a jerk."

Katniss hadn't asked her friend to elaborate, but her words deeply distressed her. Had this just been a game to Peeta? Was she just an easy conquest, another mark on his bedpost? She was angry at herself for falling for it, for thinking he could like her more than that, for thinking their time together meant anything more than sex.

In her anger, though, she'd managed to convince herself that it was only sex for her, too. So what did it really matter? She'd gotten what she'd wanted, too, so they were both satisfied. Right?

Except, looking at him now, weeks later on the campus of the school they both attended yet had somehow managed to not run into each other up until this point...her heart ached. And her body betrayed her, her stomach twisting with desire at the sight of his blue eyes, his dimpled smile, his blonde hair.

Hadn't she always known she was a goner when it came to him?

"How-how are you?" she asked cautiously, setting her coffee down. Small talk was going to be painful, but she was determined to not let him see how much he affected her.

Peeta shrugged. "Just getting something to eat between classes. I don't normally come to the Student Union, but something told me I should come inside today..." he said, his smile growing into a smirk.

"Oh, well...half-off bagels, I guess," she said nervously, gesturing toward the cafe, and he laughed, leaning back in his chair.

"No, actually, I saw you through the window as I was walking by," he said honestly, and she blinked at him. He actually sought her out? "You look great, by the way. College has done you good."

Her blush was immediate, and she swallowed thickly, averting her gaze. "Thanks. You look...great, too."

He snorted, rubbing his hands on his thighs. "Yeah, I guess all-nighters will do that to you. How are your classes going?"

"Um, they're good so far. A lot of work," she replied, picking up her coffee for a sip just to give her hands something to do. "You?"

"Yeah, lots of work," he agreed, his eyebrows furrowed, but then his face cleared, and he raised an eyebrow at her. "Which is why Finnick and I are throwing a party this weekend. To unwind. You should come."

Her eyes widened again, and she tried to run through a list of plausible reasons to decline. "Umm, I'm not sure—"

Peeta tilted his head as he stared at her, his smile soft. "Come on. We're technically still undefeated at beer pong. I need a partner. And no one plays as well as you do," he goaded temptingly, but still she hesitated. It was a bad idea getting involved with him again...wasn't it? He leaned closer then, biting his bottom lip slightly as he lifted his eyebrows. "We play so well together, wouldn't you say?"

She stared at him, her heart hammering in her throat. There was no mistaking what he was doing. She understood what he really wanted. She wasn't that naive anymore. The real question was: Did she still want the same thing?

She nearly scoffed out loud. Who the hell was she kidding? Not a damn thing had changed for her. She tried to fight it, to keep her face impassive, but the grin caught the corner of her mouth, and she narrowed her eyes at him playfully.

"Okay. You're on, partner."


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