Peeta POV – Chapter 7
I spent every day at the bakery after that.
I was growing accustomed to the idea that I would spend the rest of my life elbow deep in flour and pretzel rolls in the hopes that I'd see her again, but thankfully it didn't come to that.
She showed up on day three.
The door was propped open, so the bell didn't sound when she walked in. I was sitting behind the counter, draped over my father's books, the ancient looking ledger written in his chicken-scratch scrawl making my head spin slightly. I needed to first figure out his system of keeping track of the income and bakery funds before I took over, but the old man was painfully outdated and behind on the times. Katniss gliding into the bakery was a welcomed relief to my increasingly annoying headache.
"Hey," she breathed, making me look up.
If the look of surprise on my face wasn't enough to scare her off, what I stupidly uttered next certainly might have been.
"There's my favorite baker," she laughed in her slightly raspy, slightly cute-as-hell voice. She was the picture of casual beauty with her minimal makeup, messy braid, and summery cotton dress. I felt my mouth go dry the instant I saw her.
"Well there's my favorite…ah, person who buys bagels sometimes?" I answered with an overly eager laugh. I winced at the noise and sheer pathetic-ness of my words as she gave me a little frown that said 'really?' before shrugging
"I missed you the other day. Had to buy my bagels from your dad, you weren't here. Skipping out on me?"
She missed you, Peeta, an ugly little voice in my head sang. I brushed it aside. I had to at least appear normal.
"Yeah, my one day off," I shrugged, brushing my hair out of my eyes. I looked down at my wrinkled khakis and flour-dusted t-shirt, silently cursing myself for not making more of an effort. Half the time I was so eager to get down to the bakery that I forgot to not look like a helpless bachelor in the process.
"You work a lot?"
"Yeah, everyday cept that one. But I'm going to be here more often than not now, what with my dad retiring soon. Have to take every second I can to learn the business."
"Oh," she nodded, "he told me that the other today. That you'd be inheriting this place soon. That's awesome," she smiled.
"Well, I mean…it's just a bakery. Not the most 'awesome' thing I could do with my life, but…."
Katniss leaned on the glass counter, her eyes scanning the array of pastries and breads neatly arranged on their trays. "Do you love to bake?"
I gave her a sheepish smile before nodding. "I do, yeah. I love it. Feels strange to admit I love to bake cupcakes and stuff, but…I do love to decorate them."
"Well at least you're doing something you love!" she exclaimed, giving me one of her heart-stopping smiles. For a girl that seemed almost stern and serious at first, she seemed to be able to easily light up a room with barely even trying.
"I like it, I mean…most days go by pretty quickly when I'm working."
She shrugged again. "Then yeah, that's pretty awesome. Eh…I wish I had a clue what I wanted to do with my life. At least you know, and you're good at something."
"You don't know what you want to be when you grow up?" I asked, giving her my best charming smile.
She shook her head, scratching the spot behind her braid. She was wearing a floor length dress that showed off the tops of her slightly pink shoulders and toned, tan arms. The woven belt wrapped around her waist emphasized her shapely curves, the swell of her hips making her look womanly and strong. Her braid was extra loose that day, hanging over her shoulder with a few free waves framing her bright face. I watched her debate my question as her grey eyes held mine, and in that moment I wondered how I could have even mistaken them for blue. They were the most unique, intense shade of steely metal I'd ever seen.
"No," she sighed. "I'm not…I mean I get decent grades. I'm in my last year of school and I just…nothing calls to me. I change my mind too often. I start one major and then before the semesters even up I just…"
"Change your mind?"
"Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes I wake up and want to decorate wedding cakes all day, then next thing I know I….I'm doing some crazy cooking experiment," I offered meekly. Ulgh, why did everything I say around her come out all lame and stupid? Whatever it was about this girl that didn't allow me to think before I opened my mouth and offered up something completely idiotic was beyond me. I twisted the pencil I was holding through my fingers, resisting the urge to babble on about something else.
"That's not stupid. I think it just means you're creative. Creative people have a hard time finishing up or following through because their minds are just constantly going, moving, thinking. I duno, I just wish I could figure something out."
I grinned. "Well, what are you good at? I've obviously got baking, but…what about you, Katniss? What are you good at?"
She grinned back at me, making my heart stutter in my chest. She gripped the bag slung over her shoulder a moment before plunking it down on a chair in the empty bakery. She perched on the table top and looked around, shrugging a bit sheepishly.
"Oh come on…everyone has one talent. Maybe you can take that and turn it into something. Come on, shoot. What are you good at? Hobbies?"
Good, I told myself. This would be a good way to get to know her without coming off completely like a nosy creep.
"Don't laugh," she forewarned.
"Never," I swore, placing my hand over my heart. I wouldn't laugh; I was dying to know more – anything more – about this girl. She was beautiful, easy to talk to, and she made me feel nervous and giddy yet like I'd known her for ten years all at the same time. I wouldn't dare laugh at anything she told me. A girl like Katniss didn't come around every day.
"Well…I'm good with a bow."
"Like…wrapping? Wrapping paper?" I asked, blurting out the first thing that came into my mind.
She chuckled, shaking her head. "No, um…like a hunting bow. Shooting, you know?"
I shrugged. "I won't say I'm not surprised to learn that you're good with a weapon, but…that's certainly not stupid. Everyone has a talent or hobby that's their guilty pleasure."
"Oh, I seem like the type to know my way around a weapon?" she teased lightly, toying with the end of her braid. She leaned over, resting her elbows on her knees and in the process allowed me a glimpse of her cleavage. I coughed, looking away despite my body's pleas not to. It had been a long time since I'd gotten any, and I was like a horny twelve year old with his mother's Victoria's Secret Catalog. It took very little to get me excited these days. Especially now that a dark-haired vixen was gracing my dirty little late night fantasies.
"Um, no, no, you just….seem capable. Confident, like…uhm," I chuckled, shaking my head. "Like you could do just about anything. You could have told me you're into spelunking or like….deep sea fishing and I would have believed you."
Katniss grinned. "Most people think the bow thing is really weird."
"No, it's….unique. Hey, I mean…if the zombie apocalypse happens at least you'll be prepared. I can like…launch cupcakes and bagels at them, that'll be my only defense."
"If the zombie apocalypqse happens, come find me. I've got us covered with my bow," she chuckled.
"It's a kick ass hobby."
She nodded, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ears. "Well, it's definitely my favorite thing to do. I love to hunt and shoot and just…be in the woods. But I can't exactly make a career out of that, can I?"
"Well…depends," I admitted. "What made you decide to learn how to hunt?"
"My dad," she explained. "He loves to hunt and things like that, so he taught me when I was little. It started out that I just wanted to tag along with him or whatever. I was always a little tomboy, the son he never had I guess. But it's just our thing we do together."
I offered her a smile. "How do you think I learned to bake? My older brothers went off after school and got real jobs and I just…make cupcakes all day now," I snorted. "Everyone has their thing, Katniss."
She nodded. "I guess you're right. Everyone has their thing."
Before we knew it, an hour had flown by. When she looked at her phone, her eyes widened and she jumped. "Holy shit, I was supposed to be at Prim's to pick her up an hour ago! Shit, shit…hey, I'll see you later okay?"
I waved at her as she grabbed her bag of bagels, stuffing the last of one into her mouth. She'd caved and had one with me, dutifully offering to try out a new type of apple butter I was testing out when she looked at her phone to check the time.
"I'll be back soon! Catch you later, Peeta!" she called over her shoulder as she hurried out.
I called out goodbye before waving her off, chuckling to myself. I hadn't asked her out that day, which was true. But….I didn't think that was a bad thing anymore. We'd spent an hour lost in conversation about the most wonderfully random things, and wasn't that always the best type of conversation when you first met someone? Instead of feeling panicky that I hadn't made things inevitably awkward and asked her on a date she had a fifty/fifty chance of turning me down on, I felt like I'd laid the foundation for something much more important that day. Having her leave without nailing down a date didn't scare me for once. We'd connected, and wasn't that what this whole thing was about?
I knew, without a doubt that she would be back.
As always, thank you for reading! More Katniss/Peeta soon - and unfortunately, Gale! Oh well...I can be mean to Gale in this fic because I'm nice to him in all of my others, lol.
Let me know what you thought!