The shops blur beside me as I race along. I always reach his bakery a good hour or two before closing time, helping him tie up the day's work. Today, though, the hunt for a deer had distracted me. By the time I had killed it, it was already nearing closing time.
I hurry along the street, hoping Peeta isn't worrying about me. A breath of relief leaves me as his bakery comes into view. The lights are still on, meaning he hasn't left yet. I push through the doors.
"I'm here!" I call out breathlessly, "Don't worry about..." I realize that Peeta has company. He's near the back of the shop with a young woman, talking. She places a hand on his shoulder, making him laugh. His eyes shine with a flirty gaze.
A weird feeling stirs in the pit of my stomach; it's not exactly anger...I can't put my finger on it. Blood rushes to my face. Here I was, thinking Peeta was worried about me, when in reality, he's laughing it up with some girl!
"Katniss!" Peeta exclaims, still grinning, "I was starting to get worried."
I cross my arms. "Mmm, I can tell."
His eyebrows furrow together. "Is...something wrong?"
I don't respond. I simply walk over to them, standing between Peeta and the woman. She is pretty, much to my inexplicable irritation, with wide hazel eyes and long auburn hair. She isn't from District 12, that's for sure. She smiles at me.
"We're closed," I tell her drily.
"Katniss," Peeta hisses.
"What?" I snap, "We're closed, and last time I checked, we don't make any exceptions."
Peeta opens his mouth to say something, but the woman cuts in, "No, she's right. I should get going." She smiles flirtatiously at Peeta. "Bye, Peeta! I can't wait to try your buns; I've been craving them all day!"
Peeta laughs. "Come again!"
"Or don't," I mutter.
When I hear the door to the bakery close, I glare up at Peeta. "What was that all about?" I demand.
Peeta blinks. "What do you mean?"
"You know perfectly well what I mean," I say, crossing my arms, "You flirting with that girl!"
"I wasn't flirting with her, Katniss," he says slowly, as if trying to contain his temper, "She's from District 4 and I wanted to make a good impression on her."
"Yes, a very good impression," I say, "One that will be carried out at night in your bed."
Peeta looks horrified. "Katniss! We were just talking! What, I can't talk to other girls, now?"
"You can talk to other girls, not flirt and wink and laugh with them!" I say.
Peeta runs his hand through his hair, looking exasperated. "For heaven's sake, Katniss! You're acting like we're married!"
Okay, he has me there. We're not married, I'm not in love with him, so it shouldn't matter to me what he does. Then why do I care? Why do I want to mash that girl's face into a wall? Why do I see everything in a shade of green?
The bell over the door chimes and we both swivel our head towards the sound. Much to my resentment, it's that girl.
"Sorry to bug you," she chirps, "But since I'm taking half of these buns to my sister, can I get another bag to carry them in?"
Peeta's gaze flickers to me, then to the girl. Then, for whatever reason, understanding fills his face. He runs his hand through his hair and smiles at the woman. It's not a polite, friendly smile. It's a sweet, warm, seducing smile, the kind he only gives to me. My eyes narrow into slits.
"Sorry," I say bitterly, "Bags cost money to make. It's one bag per dozen."
The woman looks bewildered. "But—"
"I'm going to have to ask you to leave," I say, pointing at the door, "We're busy, and we're closed."
Does she not get a hint? I stand on the tip of my toes and give Peeta a long kiss. It's when I hear the door close that I pull away.
Peeta is looking at me with an amused look in his eyes. I scowl. Why on earth is he smiling at me?
"You're jealous!" He almost sings, "You're jealous of her!"
My face heats up. "No!"
"You can't lie, Katniss." Peeta says, smiling foolishly.
I cross my arms. "I'm not lying."
"You thought I was going to run off with her?" Peeta asks, nudging me with his elbow, "Kiss her fervently in the moonlight?"
I shove Peeta. "Shut up! I wasn't jealous!" Even my own voice sounds unconvincing.
Peeta laughs, wrapping his arms around me. "Want to help me clean up?"
I shake my head, still not entirely happy with him. "No. I'll go home and start dinner instead."
"Okay," Peeta says, kissing me on the cheek.
Just as I'm about to leave, Peeta says, "Katniss?"
I turn around. "Yes?"
His smile is teasing. "Don't get jealous of all the bread I'm going to be spending time with."
"Shut up, you moron!" I scowl.
As I leave the bakery, I peek at him through the window. Peeta catches my eye and grins. He picks up a bread, and pretends to kiss it passionately. I roll my eyes at him and stomp past the shop.
As soon as I'm out of his sight, though, my face breaks out into a smile. I chuckle at the thought of him running off with his one true love: bread. Like that will ever happen.
I suddenly come to a halt. Knowing Peeta, it might not be that far-fetched.