AUTHOR'S NOTE: Please accept my apology for the extremely delayed posting. There has been a tremendous amount of upheaval in my life recently. To make a long story short ("Too late!"), I lost my job and am hunting for a new one, my boyfriend of 6.5 yrs got transferred out of state for work and I only see him every other weekend now, and we moved. My daughter started high school and got a job. All of this has resulted in me with an extreme case of scatter-brained writing. I was finally able to sit and write more than a couple of sentences before being sidetracked. I hope you enjoy the next episode in this ongoing saga. Don't fret…I will attempt to update within a week. I know that's not super-fast but it's the best I can do these days.

I truly appreciate your ongoing support, and look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions.

Please let me know your thoughts.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. The characters belong to Collins!

CHAPTER 18

KATNISS POV

The last few days have been…I can't even think of a word powerful enough to describe…maybe stupendous, staggering, spectacular, or stupefying. Geez! No matter which word I try, it doesn't seem to be strong enough. Peeta and his damn mystical eyes, and intoxicating lips have completely beguiled me along with his sculptured shoulders and arms, down to his perfect manhood. I'm soaking wet just thinking about it. I'm glad I've taken to carrying an extra pair of panties with me since he ripped mine off the other day during our lunch rendezvous.

We've taken every opportunity we can find to be together. I can't seem to get enough of him. Maybe it's the newness of everything, not to mention he is the absolute best lover I've ever had. It's not just that, I guess I feel safe with him. His sweet and nurturing personality completely conflicts with the rough dominating personality he exhibits in the bedroom or wherever we wind up naked. It's exciting and it's got me lost under his spell.

It's Wednesday already and I have to have "the talk 2.0" with Prim tonight. I am not looking forward to it. I'm not even sure how to begin the conversation. I'm not one to go into details about sex with any ease whatsoever. I'm definitely not Johanna! I've spent the last hour of work just sitting here in a daze. I keep getting stuck replaying breakfast in bed with Peeta this morning, since Prim left at 8am to go to class. Peeta showed up about 15 minutes later with breakfast in hand.

Snap out of it! How many pairs of panties am I gonna need today? It's still only 4pm, and I have another hour before I can get out of here. Thank God I have an office, otherwise Johanna would be all over me right now making extremely crass comments and accusations. The last couple of days of her taunting have resulted in me locking myself away in my office.

I'm taking Prim to her favorite restaurant, a tapas bar downtime. It's kind of pricey, but it's where she wanted to go for her birthday this past year, so of course, I caved and took her. I figure this is also a special occasion. I've reserved a semi-private booth considering our conversation shouldn't be overheard by our fellow diners. I may need a glass of wine or two to get through tonight!

Apparently, Gale had the same idea. He and Peeta decided to tag team Rory. They're taking him to a sports bar and one of the men will sit at the bar while the other fields questions or gives advice at a table. If the other is needed he will be tagged in. Leave it to those guys to make some sort of game out of this whole thing. I was actually surprised that Gale was willing to participate, but then again I'm sure he didn't want to let Peeta show him up with his own brother. Either way, I'm still a little miffed that they have two against one and I am stuck alone! Oh well, I guess I just need to suck it up and do my job as Prim's guardian and make sure she is well prepared for anything life throws her way. As uncomfortable for me as it maybe, I'm actually glad I can do something for her that I was lucky enough to have. Without my Mom being really there, I didn't really have anyone to talk to about any of this. Maybe she won't have the same issues I always had.

Ok, game time!

…..

I've been here for about 10 minutes now, and downed a half a glass of wine. Prim texted that she was running late, but the longer she delays the more nervous I'm getting. Finally, there she is. I wave at her and down the rest of my glass as she makes her way to the table.

"Sorry I was late," she says as she kisses my head hello.

"It's ok," I reply.

"So, what's going on? Is everything ok?"

My eyebrows scrunch in confusion, "Yea, everything's fine. Why?"

"Well, we usually eat at home or at some place…well…cheaper," she whispers the last part. "Also, you've downed an entire glass of wine already. So, what gives?"

"Let's just order and then I'll fill you in. It's nothing bad, so don't worry." I reply hoping she doesn't push at least until we dismiss the waitress. As if on cue, the waitress shows up right then.

We've ordered several tapas items to share; Spicy Shrimp, petite filet, seas scallops, and roasted garlic asparagus. She's eyeing me waiting for me to start. I'm stalling, not sure exactly how to start. My second glass of wine is filled, and I'm out of time.

I guess she gets tired of waiting, "Does this have anything to do with Gale and Peeta taking Rory out tonight?"

Yes, this I can work with, "Yes, actually. Peeta, Gale, and I wanted to make sure that you and Rory have all the information that you need to help you both make informed decisions in your relationship." Wow, I can't believe all that came out of me so easily.

She eyes me with caution, "'Informed decisions'? Katniss, I've had sex ed."

"Prim, I know you know the basics, but I…we…just wondered if you have any other questions or concerns. I wanted to make sure you had an open forum to ask any of the questions you might have. I'll answer them as openly, honestly and factually as I can," I finish with another large gulp of wine.

Prim mulls around what I just said, and is deciding if she wants to go down this road. "Are you sure you can handle this, Katniss? I know you aren't very comfortable with talking about sex."

She's right, but I really want to try to be there for her in a way that no one was for me. "That's usually the case, and part of the reason for that is that I never had anyone to talk to me about it or give me an opportunity to ask questions. I don't want you to have the same issues as me. I can do this, for you!"

She gives me her shy sweet smile, "Okay, but if you don't want to answer something just say so."

I ignore her offer, and try to get this thing rolling. The wine has loosened my tongue, and my resolve is ironclad now to help. "So, you do have questions? What's the first question?"

She's chewing on her lip, and fiddling with her hands, "Does it really hurt the first time?"

I can't say I wasn't expecting that question. I take a deep breath to steady my emotions, and go with a more intellectual approach. "It all depends on how prepared you are, bottom line. A common misconception is that every virgin has a hymen. This is not necessarily the case. Active girls in sports, dance, etc. could've lost it during childhood. You've been dancing for a long time, and it's a 50/50 chance that you may have already broken yours without knowing it." I take a second to see how she's receiving this information.

"How do you know if you have a hymen?" she asks.

"I'm not really sure. I guess a doctor, a gynecologist, could probably tell you. I can make you an appointment with mine if you like."

"I'll think about it. What if I do have a hymen? Will it hurt then?" She asks with a little fear in her eyes.

I surprise myself by not hesitating. This is getting a little easier knowing she truly is curious. "It can hurt if you do have a hymen when the penis punctures it for the first time, but it's been likened to getting a shot. There's pressure at first and a stinging or burning sensation when it tears. However, this is said to be a fleeting pain which dissipates within a few seconds."

She's looking at me strangely, "'said to be'? Did you have a hymen your first time?"

I take another gulp of wine to hide my flush. Now we're getting a little personal. You can do this, Katniss. It's what she needs. "No, I must've lost mine climbing trees or during one of my many falls over the course of my youth. I have no idea when it happened, but it wasn't an obstacle my first time. That's not to say it was perfectly comfortable."

"Did it hurt you?"

"I wouldn't say it was pain. It was more like pressure, and it took a moment to get used to that. It went away pretty quickly." She looks contemplative, like she has another question.

She's about to speak when our waitress appears with our food. We accept our food, and she waits for the waitress to disappear before continuing, "Did you…enjoy it the first time? Did you…you know…?"

I laugh a little, "No, in most cases, you will not have an orgasm the first time you have sex. You may not have one for a while, at least not during intercourse. This takes me back to my first statement, preparation. If you are planning on having sex, you need to be physically prepared. You've heard of foreplay before?"

"Yes, but I haven't really done anything more than kissing and above the waist touching," she whispers as her cheeks flush scarlett.

Trying to rassure her, "It's ok, Prim. Foreplay can come in a lot of different forms. It can be words, kisses, touching, or fondling. It could be a combination of all of those. It's the most important thing when you are new to the…um…"sport". It will hurt more if you are not physically turned on. When I say physically turned on, I mean your body is responding to the stimulation your partner provides. He can stimulate you in a variety of ways."

"Like how?" Prim asks curiously.

"Well, you can be stimulated by your breasts, clitoris and your vaginal canal through oral sex or fondling or fingering." I can't believe I just said that in a restaurant while eating a scallop.

She finishes her bite of shrimp and asks, "How do you know when you're physically ready?"

I'm on a roll now. I'm shocked that this isn't as hard as I thought it would be. "You'll be wet...between your legs. Your body provides a natural lubricant. This is intended to aid in reducing friction against your vaginal walls. If you are not physically ready, the friction can cause painful tears in the flesh inside the vagina. This causes swelling and irritation, and most of all pain." Huh, that almost sounded like I knew what I was talking about. Maybe I can do this.

"That sounds painful!" she squeaks.

"It is, but that's why it's so important to make sure you take your time and wait until you know you're completely physically ready as well as emotionally. Emotional preparedness is another subject all together. However, the two are linked in most women. You must be both emotionally and physically prepared to enjoy any portion of your first time."

"I'm not sure I'm ready yet. I wasn't lying when I told you that Rory and I weren't doing it yet. How do you know when you're ready to try it?" She asks.

I smile feeling reassured that the two of them are taking it slow. "Prim, you'll know when you're ready to cross all of the bridges that lead to sex. You don't have to cross them all at once, you know. Take the time to get familiar with each other and your bodies." She's flushed bright crimson again, and hiding behind her glass. A question occurs to me, but I'm not sure how to ask. "Prim, have you…do you…um, touch yourself?"

She gasps and stutters for a second, "I…um…well…"

"It's natural curiosity, Prim, and helps you become more familiar with your own body." I respond trying to encourage honesty.

"I've tried, but I don't think I'm doing it right." She gulps and opens and closes her mouth a couple of times before spitting out, "I've never made myself…you know?"

"You've never had an orgasm?" I ask, pretty sure I'm pinking up myself.

"No," she says shyly, and looks to me for some sort of solution.

I take a deep breath. This is not exactly the type of "instruction" I was expecting to give. How do you teach someone how to masturbate? How do I explain this to my sister without being gross? Oh well, here goes. "It's ok, it's not easy to figure out at first. When you have tried, do you use your fingers? And, are you completely alone?"

"Yes, but I still worry about being heard or found," she isn't looking at me.

All of my hang-ups and my refusal to see her as a young woman instead of a child may have lead to her discomfort in her personal exploration. Ugh! I don't want her to feel awkward, but it's kind of inevitable in this situation. I decide to go with blunt and direct. "Prim, when you're alone, if you're not completely comfortable it's not going to happen. You have to surrender yourself to the sensations. You'll have to close your eyes, and rely on feel. If you can figure out what kind of touch makes you feel the best, start with that and keep going. It could be a long process, but don't give up. There's nothing wrong with you." I lay my hand on top of hers and give it a squeeze. She peers up at me. "Most women have such a hard time getting out of their head long enough to enjoy how they're body is reacting. It's scary and we tend to overthink everything. Just know that there is nothing dirty or scandalous about exploring your own body. Besides, if we don't know what can please us, how are they supposed to figure it out?"

She giggles, and that makes me smile and laugh with her. We take a few bites of food in silence. The waitress comes by and refills our drinks, but I'll stick with water now. When she's gone, Prim asks, "When did you have your first orgasm? What did it feel like?"

I almost choke on my water, but regain my faculties blushing furiously, "well, I started touching myself for a while, but like you, I couldn't see what the big deal was. It felt good, but nothing mind blowing like I had heard."

"How old were you?"

"When I started touching myself?" I ask.

"Yea, and how long before you…were successful?" She asks, and looks as if she thinks I won't be able to talk openly.

I surprise both of us, "I was about 17 when I started touching myself. You know I wasn't one for dating in high school, but I would hear things. Plus, my body had changed and little things made me feel differently. For instance, when I was in the woods and climbed a tree, I would always sit on a branch for a while and rest. I was straddling a branch one day, and slid myself forward to reach something and was shocked by the feeling that friction gave me down below. It was like a little electric shock. So, I started by trying to recreate that feeling."

"So, I should learn to climb trees?" she jokes. We both giggle, but I continue.

"Not necessary, really. I would explore my body at night when you were asleep and it was nice but…. Anyway, a couple months later, I was taking a long hot bath, and started absentmindedly touching myself. I guess I was finally relaxed enough to focus on only that, and after a few minutes…voila! I finally knew what all the fuss was about."

Prim looks excited. I have to smile at her, when her smile goes south and she postulates, "What does it feel like?"

I ponder for a minute trying to figure out how to describe what an orgasm feels like. Finally, I respond, "Before it happens, it feels like your entire body is being wound tight, almost like a rubber band being wound too tightly or a wind up toy. Have you ever wrapped a rubber band around your finger too tightly? To the point where your finger is pulsing and feels like it's going to burst?" She nods. "well, it's kind of like that. Your body feels like it's going to explode, and when it finally does, it feels like…the sweetest release of pleasure, tension, stress. You know at New Years when they drop those balloons with the confetti in them? It's almost like that, when the balloon pops it kind of makes you jump at it's sharp noise but then there's the beautiful confetti that floats down all around you."

Prim nods excitedly, "Wow, Katniss, that was a really good description. I think I know what I can look forward to now. I guess I'm just scared it will change me. Once you found out how to…please yourself…did it become addicting? I know that boys can be very easily excited, but does it work that way for girls too?"

I have to laugh, and ask, "I take it you've been thinking about this a lot lately?" She nods. "I assume Rory is too? He's not pressuring you is he?"

She snaps, "No! He's not pressuring me at all, but it is harder for him to…relax…when we make out. It's kind of hard not to notice."

"Ok, ok. I just have to make sure, Prim. You are the most important person in the world to me. I have to make sure you are safe." I implore her to understand. "I know I can be a bit overprotective with you, but you're all I have Prim."

She grabs my hand, and looks at me with those glassy doe eyes, "I know Katniss, but you've done well. You will have to start trusting me to know what the right thing to do is."

I nod, trying to choke back the tears threatening to fall. I suck in a deep breath, and continue, "I trust you, Prim. I just hope I'm helping you by giving you this information and not encouraging you to jump into anything."

Prim is smiling sweetly, "I have a fierce big sister, and I will take a page from your playbook and make sure that no lines are crossed unless I erase them myself!"

We both laugh, but when she's calmed, she whispers, "I think I'm in love with him."

My breath catches, and I stare at her with wide eyes. Love? She's 19! What does she know about love? What do I know about love? "Prim, you've only been dating for a couple of months. It might be a little soon for that big of a commitment. Besides, how do you know?"

She looks at me with discerning eyes and smirks, "Are you asking me about me or for yourself?"

I'm taken aback by her tone, "Prim, I'm asking about you," I say sternly.

She continues to smirk, "I'm sure you are. Katniss, I feel like I can fly when we're together. When he kisses me, you know really kisses me, it's like everything else melts away, and we are the only two people in the world. When I see his eyes, and the way he peers into my soul, I just know deep down that I want to be with him and only him. Besides, we've known each other for a really long time. We've had feelings for each other for quite a while now, but only made it official over the last couple of months since he finally got the nerve to kiss me."

I'm staring at my little sister, wise beyond her years, speaking about something this deep with such eloquence. She's left me speechless, partially due to some of the things she said, and how they resonate within me. All I could think of was my baker when she described Rory's kisses and his eyes. Does that mean I'm in love with Peeta? How can that be? I've not known him long enough to feel that strongly. Besides, I didn't want to fall in love and have someone steal my sanity. What if I lose myself like my mother? What if something were to happen to him? What if…

"Katniss!" Prim pulls me out of my disturbing thoughts. I snap back to reality, realizing that tears have pooled in my eyes. She's looking at me with desperation and concern. "Are you ok?"

I shake myself back to the moment, and wipe my eyes, and smile at her with honest admiration, "Prim, you're so grown up. You have become such a beautiful woman. I can't believe that my 'little duck' is now a swan. The way you spoke shows that you're mature enough to handle this situation on your own." She's tearing up now. "Not that I like it, mind you! You're still my ward, and I will kick his little scrawny ass if he steps one toe out of line."

She bursts out laughing, breaking the tension. We both laugh for a minute. Then she flips the switch. "Katniss, is that how you feel about Peeta? Are you in love with him?"

Shit! Why did she have to ask so directly? I can't lie to her, but I'm not sure of my own feelings yet. "I don't know. I've never been in love, Prim. I wouldn't know the first thing about real relationships or love for that matter."

She sighs, "But, he makes you happy. I've never seen you this happy. Besides, the way he looks at you, it's like the sun rises and sets with you. I think he's in love with you."

What? My breath hitches as my fear rises. Is he in love with me? Why would he be? He could do so much better than the girl with a freight train full of baggage. "I don't think so Prim."

"I do!" she proclaims, "Why does that scare you so much?" I don't answer her. I'm not sure what to say. "I know you're worried about turning into Mom."

When Prim says this, the tears simply fall. Silently a few tears escape my eyes before I can shake them off. She looks upon me with concern and understanding and maybe pity. "You're so much stronger than her, Katniss! She was weak." She sees I'm not convinced, and continues, "What would you do if I became depressed because of Rory?" I don't answer, but the fear that she would have to deal with something catastrophic like that terrifies me. "You would do everything in your power to make me better, and pull me out of the darkness. I will do the same for you, Katniss. Besides, we have Dad in both of us. He was the strongest man I have ever known!"

She's so smart. With her words, I snap back, shake off the tears, and square my shoulders. "You're right, Prim. I would never let you go the way Mom did. We do have Dad in us. I can only hope that I'm half as strong as him."

"You're stronger!" she smiles broadly.

"Ok, ok! Back to the subject at hand…"

"Oh no you don't!" she cuts me off. "I want to hear about Peeta!" She exclaims crossing her arms over her body in defiance. We have a stare down, but she's glaring at me as if she's not backing down until I spill to her. God, she reminds me of Johanna right now!

"Fine, what do you want to know?" I reluctantly concede.

"How does he make you feel?" She asks quietly.

I feel the smile creep up on me as I finger the rim of my water glass trying to decide how to answer. There's one word to describe how he makes me feel, "Safe."

"Safe?" She pushes for more of an explanation.

I roll my eyes at her, but can't get rid of the smile, "When I'm with him, I feel like no harm can come to me. I feel freedom and my fears seem less daunting." I look to see her reaction.

She's grinning like a Cheshire cat. I'm half expecting some snide remark like Johanna would give, but she says only, "That's amazing! Don't run from it, Katniss."

I smile and nod, but feel that tug of fear within me at what I've just admitted. It's time to get this dinner back on track. "Prim, do you have any other questions for me about Rory or sex or the body?"

She thinks about it for a minute, "I don't think so at the moment." She sips her drink, "Wait, I did want to know about birth control. I may not be quite ready yet for sex, but when it does happen, I want to be prepared."

I smile at her candor. "As I mentioned, I will set you up and appointment with the doctor and you can discuss all of your options with them. I would suggest you go the easiest route with the least amount of side effects. However, I am not a doctor, and birth control should be specific to your body. They need to check you out first."

"Ok…will you go with me?" She says looking at me through her eyelashes.

"Of course."

We finish our dinner and head back home. She said she feels like she needed a little more "education" and suggested we get some raunchy movies from the rental store as visual aids. I can't say I was expecting that, but it was kind of fun picking out the dirtiest ones. We get back to the apartment and make popcorn, movie theater butter for her and kettlecorn for me. We have soda, chocolate, and I have wine.

We start our marathon with The Notebook and then 9½ Weeks. Occasionally, she pauses the movie and asks specific questions. I answer which scenes are close to reality and which ones are so far fetched that she should never expect them. We laugh and cringe and flush when it gets steamy. Overall, it was a blast. Half way through Y Tu Mama Tambien we're both fading fast. She startles awake when I poke her with my foot in her side. "Go to bed 'little duck'!"

She mumbles her response, but stands and stretches. Then, she comes to me and plops down next to me on the couch, and rests against me, "Thank you, Katniss…for being the best sister anyone could ever want. Tonight was great."

I squeeze her to me in a hug and kiss the top of her head. "Anytime, little duck."

She gets up and scratches her head as she makes her way to her room, "Goodnight. I love you."

I reply, "I love you too. Goodnight." With that her door closes.

I turn off the dvd and pick up the living room. It's actually only 12:30am. I wonder how the boys got along with Rory. Did their night go as well as ours? I can't help but smile and feel like we did the right thing. I feel much more comfortable now that Prim is equipped to decide for herself what she wants and when. She is so wise beyond her years and confident. I can't help but be a little jealous and wish I was the same at her age. Alas, I wasn't, but maybe I had a hand in helping her become the phenomenal woman she's turning into.

I wonder if the boys are done with Rory. Peeta's probably in bed already. I check my phone and see I had a missed text from him earlier asking me how it was going. I decide to respond even though I know he won't get it until morning.

It went much better than expected. How did things go

with Rory?

I think for a minute before sending him a second text.

All that talk about sex made me miss you immensely. Maybe we can have lunch and compare notes?

Maybe he'll wake up with a smile when he sees it. I lay myself down in bed content with how well it went and how much I love Prim. My thoughts drift for a moment to what she said about Peeta. I'm just replaying the conversation when my

phone buzzes. I look and it's from him. I wasn't expecting that.

He says: I missed you too. I don't think I can wait until lunch! J When is Prim's first class tomorrow?

I grin, and reply: not until 10:30. What do you suggest mastermind of secret rendezvous?

His reply is almost immediate: I'm not working in the morning. I'm closing tomorrow. I think you should come over here for at 9, and bring breakfast

Hmmm, bossy boy tonight. My insides twist a little. I kinda like it when he's a little dominant. As long as it doesn't come out in public. I reply simply: Yes Sir!

Now I can't wait for the most important meal of the day. I drift off thinking about what might be on the menu for that meal.


Please let me know your thoughts.

Next up...Rory's talk with Peeta and Gale. I will not go into as much detail as I did with Prim, but if you have suggestions for the questions that Rory may have, please let me know. I have a daughter, but not a son!

Thanks again,

Embracer