Thank you to all of you who reviewed. It means a lot to me that there are still people who want to read this story, and I am very glad that I can give you more of the story. I hope that this is what you have all been waiting for. I know that I had a really fun time writing it. Because of the comments from people rereading the story, talking about how much they liked the Liz that was at the beginning of the story, and a little more innocent, I tried to bring back a little bit of her. I can honestly say that this is going to be a very, very big chapter, so please let me know what you think. I try and reply to every comment that isn't anonymous. As well, please share this story with other people, if you think they will enjoy it. I am always looking for new readers. Thanks, again! Without further delay, here is the chapter!
"Luke! Oh, god! Luke, you're incredible!"
I stare up at the ceiling, trying to disregard the girl kissing my neck.
This is not the way I wanted to spend my evening. Another girl, another night. I'm just glad this one hasn't noticed I am doing absolutely nothing except lay here.
"Luke? Can I..." the girl starts giggling. "Take off my top?"
That thought snaps me out of my thoughts. "Oh, Viviane...I would love that...but we're running out of time." I stare into her eyes, trying to figure out how I am going to make this work. Not just tonight, but every night. I can't keep doing this. Being with other girls that aren't Elizabeth. It hurts too bad.
"Maybe you want to kiss me some more? We should make the most of our time together, don't you think?" I continue. I just really cannot sleep with this girl.
Thankfully, she nods enthusiastically. "Oh, yes! Of course!" She attacks my lips with a fierceness I want with Elizabeth.
I pretend to be interested until it finally hits 8pm, and then I'm off her lips.
"I've had such a lovely time." I say, as she is exiting the room. The moment she is out of sight, my smile disappears.
Michael looks over, rolling his eyes. "You disgust me." he mutters.
"Yes, yes, I know," I reply. "Have you heard from Elizabeth?"
He shakes his head. "No, I haven't."
"Really? Michael, please, if you've heard anything, even from one of your Peacekeeper friends, you should-"
"Luke, just stop talking. Please. You have another client coming any minute."
I sigh, rubbing my temples. "Fine. But this conversation isn't over. We'll be talking later."
"Yeah, okay. Whatever you say, he-hoe."
I turn, just in time to hear him say, "Her name is Shine."
I walk into the Arena Hotel, heart beating so fast I'm shocked I am still upright.
I can't stand this. I cannot do this. There is no way I am going to be able to pull this off. What if Michael doesn't let me in? I know he has orders not to let me anywhere near Luke, so I need to keep this as professional as possible.
I opt to go in the elevator, because with the heels I am wearing, there is no way I am going to be able to get up the stairs. With my luck, I would twist an ankle on the way up to the room and ruin the entire night.
A corny election campaign ad for President Snow is playing as I head up to the top floor of the hotel.
"President Snow for re-election. Vote for the candidate who has Panem's needs in mind.
Vote for the Hunger Games, the-"
Oh, no. Someone broke the screen. How did that happen?
I put my shoe back on as the doors glide open, spotting a Peacekeeper as soon as I am there.
I only manage to take a few steps before he notices me.
"Hello," he greets. "You must be Shine."
I force myself to nod, collecting myself while I work up the nerve to say something.
"Sorry," I murmur. Oh, god, let my accent be right. What if it isn't right? Is it too thick? "Just a bit nervous to be meeting the Luke Mellark!"
The Peacekeeper smiles, and I am relieved. Maybe I can pull this off after all.
"I know I'm a bit late, but I hope that won't be a problem." I say.
The man chuckles. "You're adorable, and it's not a problem. Head on in. He's in there waiting."
I smile back, not wasting another moment before I head into the room.
I find Luke sitting at the end of the bed, wearing a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, black pants that even I can tell are too tight for him, and an expression I cannot read.
I want to run to him so bad. But this isn't the time. He probably thinks I'm just another Capitol girl looking for a night of luxury. Dear god. If he only knew how much I'm dying inside right now.
"Hi." I whisper, my accent up like a shield. I have to pick the right time to let him know it's me.
"Hi," he replies, putting on a smile I know is fake. "I hope the traffic wasn't too bad." He noticed I'm late.
"Oh, no. It was just a bit..." I pause a moment, trying to figure out what I want to say. "I was just a bit nervous. Guess I needed to collect myself."
So much for just snapping and destroying him with guilt.
Luke nods. "Well, don't worry. There's nothing to be nervous about tonight."
Recognize me. I think. Take some of this burden off of me.
"Can I offer you something to drink? Some champagne, maybe?" Luke hardly ever drinks, so the question shocks me.
Oh, Luke, sweetie. Do you need to drink with all these girls to get through the night?
"No, thanks." I respond. "Alcohol makes me a bit too blurry for my liking. But, please, don't let me stop you."
He pours himself a drink and I watch before my eyes as he greedily gulps the liquid down.
Oh, god. I can't do this if he's drunk.
"Wow." I say. I have his attention again in an instant. His blond hair they must have made blonder is wild, his blue eyes blurry and tired looking. "You're Luke Mellark." I continue, because those are the words that come falling out of my mouth.
He nods. Another glass of something gets poured. Another, smaller gulp.
"And I'm Elizabeth Mellark." No accent this time.
His gaze snaps up to me.
I smirk, and his eyes brighten.
The shoes come off, and he sets the glass down.
"No..." he murmurs. "You...you couldn't..."
I giggle and after taking out a few bobby pins, I shed the powder blue wig, my normal hair pulled into a neat high ponytail that comes spilling down my back.
He takes a few steps closer to me as I start pulling my jacket off, leaving me in a tank top and a tight blue skirt
"Lizzy..." he murmurs, cupping my cheek and in one swift movement pulling me to him, kissing me.
"Oh, god." he says. "Oh my god. How did you...?"
"It's a long story. Just, please, don't ask questions. Kiss me." I blink, because tears are starting to blur my vision.
He does as he's told and I feel his hands sliding down my sides. This is how we are supposed to be.
I have no idea how she managed to get in, but I am so glad to see Liz that I don't even care. I just kiss her, holding her. Touching her gently everywhere my hands feel inclined to go. I need to feel her close to me. I need to memorize her all over again so I can keep her with me longer than last time. I can't forget her. I refuse to forget her again.
"I've missed you so much." I whisper, because I am so worried Michael will hear us that I force myself to be quiet.
"I missed you more." Liz replies. "I didn't think I would ever see you again."
"Shhh." I take her in my arms again, letting her bury her head in my shoulder. I stroke her hair, trying to be the strong one, even though I want to fall apart. It's been weeks since I have seen her. Months, maybe. I hate myself for not knowing how long it has really been. I hate myself for not being strong enough to say no to President Snow.
"Don't think about that," I plead. "We're here now. We're together. And I am going to find a way out of this."
She starts crying, and I can't help but start, too. I wrap my arms around her waist, pulling her as close as I can. "Shhh. No tears now. No crying. This is a happy time, my vicious little wife."
She pulls back, sniffling. Her makeup is all smeared, and half of it is probably on my shirt now, but I don't care.
"I'm not little." she whines.
"Are, too." I say, pulling her in for another kiss.
"I am not." she snaps, pulling back, letting the smile come back to her face.
I roll my eyes. "Mmmhmm. Sure." I pick her up, liking how she squeals in surprise. "I know something that isn't."
She smirks. "You horny bastard."
I raise an eyebrow. "I meant my love for you. Get your mind out of the gutter."
I lay her on the bed, helping her shed her tank top off over her head as she leans in and kisses my neck. She doesn't seem to care that there is already a hickey there from Viviane. I can't help but stare at her body longingly for a moment. Every time I have done this with another girl, it has been pure instinct, as though my body is just remembering the movements. Every time I do this to another girl, I think of Liz. I smell her shampoo in other girls' hair, see her face gazing up at me in amazement.
"There is one good side to all of this," I joke.
"Hmm?" Liz murmurs, not pulling back from kissing my neck.
"I've gotten some practice."
Some time later...
"Wow..." Liz gasps. "And I thought our wedding night was good..." We're lying beside each other in the giant bed, our bodies tangled together beneath sheets and wrapped tightly in the other's body. I think our minds have connected too much for our bodies to allow either one of us to move too far from the other.
I chuckle. "Like I said, practice."
She props herself up on her elbow. "Luke...how many were there?"
I sit up, looking down at her. "What do you mean?"
She sighs. "You know what I mean." she says. "How many girls were there?"
I try and remember the number. It is a lot higher than it should be.
"34, I think."
Liz's eyes widen, then soften. I can see them becoming darker.
"34?" she asks, sitting up to look me in the eyes. "You've slept with 34 girls?" Her eyes are becoming murderous.
I shake my head. "No, no! There have been way less girls who want to sleep with me. Most of them just want to make out. I swear, I haven't been with that many girls. And besides...8 of them were guys."
Her eyes widen. "You've slept with guys?"
"Hell no! I've kissed guys, sure, but never slept with one." It's a lie, but I can't bring myself to tell her. I slept with one guy, but not for more than a few minutes, because the guy got shy.
Liz looks like she is about to punch me, but instead, she just closes her eyes. Her hands are in her lap, shaking. I take them in my own and kiss her knuckles.
"I'm sorry." I whisper. "I would never have done it if I had a choice."
She starts sobbing, her whole body shaking.
"I-I can't." She says.
I stare at her in confusion. "Can't...can't what?"
She opens her eyes, biting her lip. "I can't do this anymore...I can't turn on the news and see some commercial advertising you. I can't listen to Effie tell me one of her friends slept with you the night before. I can't look at my parents faces and watch them watch me decay. I can't eat, I can't sleep, I can't make myself function like myself. I can't watch your parents watch me like a science experiment, waiting for me to say I am done."
Her voice is getting louder, and then it drops back into whispers, only to rise again, but she knows better than to be too loud. The walls are almost soundproof up here, but Michael still catches the occasional sound, if someone is loud enough.
"I can't...I can't be done with you, though," Liz says. "And it is killing me...killing me more than you can ever imagine."
"I know it's hard-"
"No! No, no you don't!" Liz exclaims. "You don't know how hard it is to watch all of this happening and have to dress up like some Capitol slut and come- to buy my own husband for almost two thousand dollars for one night- to spend time with you. To have to share you with other girls, with other people, just to go home and say 'maybe tomorrow Snow will give him back. Maybe tomorrow I'll see him again.' It is tearing me into pieces, Luke. I want to hate you. I want to kill you, sometimes, because it hurts to look at you. It hurts to speak, it hurts to breathe." She takes a few shaky breaths.
"It hurts to be without you...and now it hurts even more, because I've seen you. I've spoken to you, I've felt you inside me, inside my soul, and my mind, and my body...and I have to leave, eventually...it hurts to be with you, too, now."
I wrap my arms around her, trying to silence the sobbing, to make the hurt stop.
"And I know it is going to hurt our baby, too..." she whispers. "I'm pregnant."