Coffee and Classics

CHAPTER ONE

Once again, I wake up gripping my sheets, completely terrified. I slowly open my eyes and try to assess my surroundings; my room is still the same—a small rectangular shape with blue walls covered in angry feministic band posters, a wooden dresser overflowing with clothes I haven't folded properly in years, and my bow still hung on the back of my door. But I feel different. I always feel this way after my nightmares—like I don't belong in my life, and I'll never be the same again.

As the minutes pass, I begin to return to my normal state of mind: cranky, unsatisfied and sullen. I glance at the clock and see it's 5:09 a.m. I groan, and reluctantly crawl out of bed and set my feet on the floor, knowing I won't be able to fall asleep again. I cross my room, throw on a pair of jeans and a tank top over my ratty underwear, and grab my book bag on the way out my door.

I creep briskly through the apartment, trying not to waken my sister Prim. She's five years younger than me, and even though he's fifteen, she will always be nine in my mind, dancing around in her yellow summer dress to horrible pop music—her blonde hair clinging to her sweat covered forehead.

Prim and I live in this apartment alone, our parents having died when I was seven, and Prim was two. We were essentially raised by our uncle, my mother's brother, Haymitch, a man who had lost his wife and daughter years earlier and had been drowning his sorrows with rum for years before we arrived on his doorstep. And although he wasn't the best role model for Prim, he treated us well enough, and I know I inherited most of my best and worst traits from him.

However, as soon as I turned eighteen, we decided to alleviate Haymitch of his "fathering" duties and move into our own apartment. He lessened his drinking when we lived with him, and I know he appreciates the fact that he doesn't have to do that anymore. And I would do anything to make his life easier. I mean, he's fucked up, but we all are—and if the drinking helps him, who am I to judge?

I quickly grab my rain jacket from the coat rack by the door and head out into the rain that is always flowing in the lovely city of Seattle. I trot down the stairs of our brick apartment complex, and open the door to the busy streets. It always surprises me how busy the streets are, even at five a.m.; it's both impressive and perplexing. I shake my head, and walk down the street, towards Coffee and Classics, a cute little bookstore and coffee shop a few blocks from my apartment.

When I reach the bakery, I notice that the lights in the front are still off. I check my watch: 5:17. Fuck, I thought, I forgot this place doesn't open until six. I knock once on the glass, hoping the owner Sae, will hear me and let me in. She's always seemed to like Prim and I; giving us free pastries, even though I've never done anything beside sit and moodily read my book in the back. I know it's really because of Prim. It's always Prim. She has that effect on everyone—the ability to melt their arctic hearts.

I knock once more, silently pleading for her to hear me. And it works. I see her head pop out from the back, a look of confusion passed on her relatively youthful face. She seems to be about fifty, but you could never tell by her face, only by her verbal expressions. Her face changes when she sees me, her lips curving into a smirk. She walks over the door and opens it for me, and I wait for her response to my arrival at five in the morning—but she doesn't comment on it.

"Hello Katniss, how are you today?" She says as her smirk turns into a genuine smile, as she holds the door open for me to enter.

"Same old, same old," I reply. I've always been a woman of few words, something that most people feel the need to comment on, but I just don't give shit what they think. She looks at me expectantly. She may not ask me the question of what I'm doing here, but I can tell by her face that she wants me to spill. And she's done a lot for Prim, so I do. "I couldn't sleep. Nightmares."

Sae nods her head knowingly, no doubt Prim has divulged to her about my nightmares—the times I've woken up screaming, panting, or crawled into bed with Prim, needing a warm body to reassure me that I'm not alone.

"Well, if you need a distraction, you can help me as I finish making today's pastry! Or, you can take your normal spot in the back, and I can bring you your usual Mexican hot chocolate when I'm done."

I pause. Maybe a distraction would be nice. However, reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone again is always a good distraction. "Sure," I reply, slightly shocking myself, and Sae as well, by the look on her face. "At least for a little bit." I give her a half smile, and follow her as she walks into the back kitchen.

The kitchen area is small, but homey, with yellow walls, and pictures of Sae's family framed all over the walls. Right away, she puts me to work pouring flour and sugar and random other bits into a huge ass mixer, and I watch, transfixed by the monotony. After a half an hour, I'm covered in flour dust, with a huge smile plastered on my face, rolling balls of dough and placing them on a baking sheet.

We work in comfortable silence until Sae suddenly breaks it. "I hired someone new to help out. Glimmer quit. Apparently she slept with Finnick and she can't be around him because he won't commit to only her." I roll my eyes at this. Because I frequent this place so often, I'm kept up on the gossip, and know all of the employees quite well. However, anyone with half a brain could take one look at Finnick and realize he's not the type to settle down. He's stunningly beautiful, and is oh so very aware of it. He oozes sex and flirts with every female that walks through the door, from thirteen year olds to eighty year olds. It doesn't surprise me to hear that Glimmer doesn't even have half a brain.

"She's an idiot for assuming he would. That was her second mistake. Her first was obviously sleeping with him," I state. Sae laughs wholeheartedly, placing the last baking sheet in the oven.

"I have to say I agree," she says, pressing start on the timer. "But anyway, this new fellow seems very nice, and I'm sure you will get along very well with him."

I'm slightly startled by her statement. Why the fuck would it matter if I got along with him? I hated Glimmer, and that didn't seem to matter to her.

"That's interesting, I suppose."

"And," she pauses, "He's pretty easy on the eyes too."

Now she has my full attention. I turn to her, half scowling.

"Why would that matter to me?" I ask her, with a slightly venomous tone.

"Woah, easy there girl," she says, holding her hands up in front of her defensively. "I was just making conversation. I know you spend a lot of time here, and who wouldn't want to see a gentleman who bakes like a Food Network chef and looks like a male model?" She raises her eyebrows and crosses her arms.

I laugh. Okay, sexy men are always nice to be around. I mean, I may be a celibate prude, but I enjoy the view.

"Anyway, I just wanted to keep you up on the happenings," she says before walking out of the kitchen, and to the front. I follow her out, and help her take the chairs off the tables, unlock the door, and flip over the sign to "Open".

However, I can't help thinking about this new guy. Sae might have said she was just trying to keep me up on the gossip of the store, but I couldn't shake the feeling that she wanted to set me up.

"So, what's the new guy's name?" I ask, glancing over to her by door, where she writes the special of the day on a chalkboard.

"Peeta Mellark." A deep voice rings out behind me, and I turn around and meet the most startling blue eyes I've ever seen.