She saw him sketch everyday as he smoked his cigarette. In between puffs he added details, shading, color, shadow. Each swipe of his wrist left behind a trail of beauty in it's wake.
Staring between the stems of the roses she was arranging, she was mesmerized once again by the picture taking form on the page in front of him. He sat with his back to the cedar beam supporting the awning, sunglasses sliding down his nose before he pushed them back up.
Snapping his book shut, he turned to the rose bushes at his back, damping out the remaining embers of his cigarette in the dirt, sniffing a bud as he rose, smiling on the exhale.
Katniss felt a boiling under her skin. She had planted those roses. Maintained them. Fed them, watered them, trimmed them. And here he was stamping out his death stick in the soil surrounding the roots.
Now every time she stopped to smell the roses on her way past she would also smell the faint stench of ash and tar. Fire beats roses.
Feeling her co-worker's eyes on her, she looked down to see petals scrunched in her fists.
"Sorry," she mumbled with a wince.
Shaking her head, her sister Prim took the petals from her hand, spreading them around a display. "You should just tell him. No need to take it out on innocent flowers."
"Maybe I will," she muttered, turning back to the now empty store front, bathed in the afternoon sun. I am. I will, she determined, but for now she was content to just stare at the crime scene from behind the glass.
It was safer in here. But safer from what, she wasn't entirely sure.
There he was again, smoking out front.
The sun had set and the street lamps were flickering on one by one down the street like a procession of lightning bugs.
Prim was out on a delivery while she stayed behind to sweep and lock up.
She was just gathering her nerve to give him a piece of her mind when a black suburban pulled up, followed shortly by news vans.
Some well dressed, attractive, leggy blonde got out of the black car, a beefy security guard holding her door for her, and guiding her toward the shop next door, shielding her from the flashes of bulbs from the paparazzi that popped out of the news vans.
He smiled, rising to his feet as he snapped his book shut, tucking the pen behind his ear and tossing the cigarette carelessly into the bushes, not even bothering to blot it out.
Feeling like a wound up top about to spin out of control, Katniss gripped the broom like a vice.
What she was unprepared for was the pit of jealousy sinking in her stomach when he hugged the beautiful celebrity.
What was she jealous about? Constantly being on display for cameras? No thank you. It hit like a brick when she realized it was the way he smiled at her, embraced her, and talked to her.
She was jealous of not being on the receiving end of those arms.
Prim pulled up as the two disappeared into the tattoo parlor, and more news trucks pulled up, blocking them in. They would have to wait it out.
When the blonde left, Katniss searched her very exposed skin for any sign of the new ink, but was unable to locate it.
"Glimmer! Where did you get your new tattoo?" some bozo behind a camera shouted.
The girl blushed and stared at the ground as she continued to walk to the car.
She turned to see him waving at the blonde, smiling, before pulling out a cigarette and lighting it, sliding down on the same cedar beam, slumping down at the bottom, sighing.
Why did he look so put out? He just got to see some million dollar part of a billion dollar person and stare at it while he worked his magic.
The thought disgusted Katniss. But at the same time made her jealous. Which also made her ashamed. She was jealous of a tramp stamp.
She really should get to know his name. She did spend the majority of her days staring at him, after all.
To her credit, she did notice and collect small things.
Like the way he liked his coffee - black. All those years of archery camp paid off, giving her eyesight an extra something, and she read the scrolling sharpie on the side of the cup.
There was always a number scrawled on it, too. And not always the same one.
He drew, but she already knew that. Nature seemed to be his favorite, flowers, trees, sceneries. She hid in the back when he came over to buy a bouquet of Primroses for reference, staring at him through the little window in the door.
Prim had looked at her pointedly as he turned and left, leaving the change for his hundred dollar bill behind in the tip jar. His total was only fifteen dollars.
He smoked a lot. And always put them out in the bed of her roses. Right above the roots.
It was almost metaphorical.
Katniss was nearly exploding every time she saw him do it, and he always did it.
The roots of her flowers, that she cared for and tended to, making them grow strong and deep were being threatened on the surface by a scorching intruder, scraping away a little of the top soil every time.
Not many people found their way under her skin, but Blondie had, and he continued to scratch, continued to root, further and further into her being so much so, that they were almost connected, on some level.
But that was silly talk. Right?
He brought in his sketch of the Primroses the next day, giving it to Prim, promising to buy her a frame for it.
She tried to push it back to him, but he insisted, smiling as he backed away from the counter.
"The muse deserves the finished product," he said, before turning to leave.
Making sure the coast was clear, Katniss left the back room and studied the drawing over Prim's shoulder.
It was breathtaking.
"Some girl wanted flowers, so he came here for inspiration," Prim said, her voice distant. "Apparently she loved it so much, she wants to come and talk to us about arrangements for her wedding."
"He said you were his muse?"
"My name. He didn't know what flower to get, so he asked what 'Prim' was short for."
Katniss walked around the counter to look at the stack of orders.
"Who wants Katniss flowers?"
Prim smiled. "He does."
Maybe all the root talk wasn't silly after all.