Hi everybody! This is my second Hunger Games story and my first about Annie and Finnick. :) Anyway, this first chapter is short, sort of a prologue, but the others will be longer. Please read and review! I appreciate (constructive) criticism!
I can't remember the name of the blonde who is leaning on my arm.
The face is familiar enough. Gorgeous, like they all are. Soft curls that tickle my face when she moves in for a kiss. I grace her with a good one, because she still has a few hours on the clock with me. I decide to call her babe, because I'm not sure if even the glorious Finnick Odair could pass off a slip-up with her name as arrogant nonchalance. It might become a little too painfully obvious that I just don't care.
She's not technically supposed to be here, up on the platform with me on Reaping Day. That chair was reserved for Mags, my district's female mentor. But she's old and does whatever she wants, and I guess she didn't feel like showing up today. No one cares, though, because I am Finnick and this girl is hot and that is the way people like things. She flings her arms around me and peppers my cheek with more kisses. "Babe," I say quietly, because the mayor is nearing the end of his speech. "Babe, I have to pay attention to this part." The actual reaping. She ignores me, and I end up having to ease her back into her chair.
Our Capitol escort, Pallindra, hurries across the stage to the big glass balls full of names. The slip she draws designates some poor scrawny thirteen-year-old from the wharf, but another older boy immediately volunteers in his place. Otto Morris. He is a Career. Number nine. Of the eight I have mentored before him, four girls, four boys, half have been Careers like him, and half just unfortunate victims of fate. Some of them gave up right away, others fought hard to receive the illustrious glory that I did.
They are all dead.
But the sight of this one- a tall, muscular specimen, an eighteen-year-old who has obviously been training rigorously for years- well, it's almost encouraging. He doesn't have a face that will draw sponsors, but still, I can work with him.
When Pallindra crosses the stage to the girls' ball, I can't help hoping that the slip will be for my lover, so the insane woman will finally get off me. And so I could learn her name, of course. But she's from the Capitol, so she's never had to worry about the Reaping. Or anything else. Instead our escort unfolds the paper and reads a name that doesn't ring a bell. Annie Cresta. The crowd of sixteen-year-old girls parts and she steps forward.
I take inventory quickly, the way all mentors learn how to do. She's medium height but lanky, all girl who hasn't filled into a woman yet. Dark, mousy brown hair, fearful eyes. A terrified squeak pushes out of her throat as she mounts the platform. No one volunteers for her.
I can count her out now. She's not tough or even particularly athletic. And while I'm sure there's some little fisherman's son who finds her pale, round little face pleasant, she's ugly by any reasonable standards. Definitely by mine. No sponsors for her. I push this Annie to the back of my mind. Otto is my main concern, because I need to train a victor this year. Even Finnick's adoring fans can only tolerate so much failure.
The tributes shake hands, the music starts, and my current one true love needs another kiss. And then I am swamped by the crowd, signing autographs until I can't feel my fingers.
They promised me everything if I won. I have to constantly remind myself that this is everything.
Yes, Finnick acts like an arrogant jerk but don't forget, this IS an act. And he's so good, he's even fooled himself at this point. Thanks for reading!