Chapter 1: August 29th
She surveyed her list of options, clicking on the familiar looking icon. There was a pause as her new laptop whirred beneath her fingertips for a few seconds and then the screen popped up. She jumped at the image of herself in the webcam before settling down and chiding herself for being so jumpy.
"Don't be stupid," she muttered.
The voice coming from her monitor made her jump again. She panicked until she realized the voice was Peeta's and the new picture in the Skype box was his face. He grinned at her and waved, his tan face bright. Her heart stuttered in her chest at the sight of him.
"Oh my God, sorry! You startled me!" she laughed. "Aw…is that really you?"
"It's me," he said happily through the screen. They took a second to gawk at each other as the realness of their situation set in. After a whirlwind summer together at Camp Panem, they were attempting a long distance relationship. They had decided that their summer romance was more than just a fleeting thing, so they were attempting to give it a shot. Peeta was in a small, private school an hour away, and she was reaping the benefits of her scholarship at State. Although it was only a little over fifty miles that lay between them, she felt like it might as well have been worlds away. It was nice to see Peeta's smiling face on the screen but she already yearned to touch him. They had said their goodbyes at the end of camp and hadn't seen each other since. She already missed him so badly it hurt and it was still only August; she had spent many nights wondering how this was going to work.
After camp had ended, she had a long week and a half at home before moving back to school. She had used the time to help Prim pick out back to school clothes on an extremely tight budget, pack for school, paint her bedroom, and buy a new laptop. Peeta had been a big factor on the latter purchase; she had come back from camp to discover her old, trusty laptop had finally bitten the dust. She didn't want to haul herself to the school's library every day, for it was halfway across campus. So, Katniss had bitten the bullet and gone to the nearest Wal-Mart to drop a chunk of her hard earned Camp Panem money. The new HP laptop came with more bells and whistles than she was used to, but Peeta had helped her pick out the right one over her mother's borrowed cell phone.
She glanced at the archaic landline phone on her desk and smiled. "You said you'd call first."
"I couldn't wait," he laughed. He waved happily, his blue eyes darting around the screen as he took her in.
"This is so weird."
"Heeeey," he laughed. "I kicked all the guys out so we could talk," he explained.
"I'm not getting naked."
Peeta stuck out his bottom lip.
"That's not why I got Skype, Mellark," she snorted. "So how was move-in week?"
He shrugged. "Same old. We got all the freshmen moved in and did nothing but drink beer for a week."
"Oh yeah?" she asked. "Lots of cute new freshman girls?"
Peeta leaned forward, his blue eyes bright in the light of his computer. "Not as cute as you. Plus, you automatically win because you put out, so…."
Katniss covered her mouth and laughed loudly at the thought. She was glad she had a single this year; she was sure she didn't want a roommate overhearing this conversation. "I'm glad I don't have a roommate."
"Me too. I wish I didn't sometimes."
"Speaking of Mark, where is he?"
"Jock boy? He's at the gym. He'll be there for at least four hours. The football team has scheduled workouts, so I know he won't be back anytime soon. I've just been hanging out with everyone, catching up, you know. It was good to see everyone from last year."
Katniss shifted in her chair as her mind went to a dark place. She remembered Peeta telling her about Cassie that summer and how she had broken his heart. She couldn't help but wonder if he had seen her yet.
"What are you thinking? I can see you've got something on the tip of your tongue."
"Maybe," she hummed.
"You look really beautiful today by the way."
"Flattery won't get it out of me, Mellark."
He shook his head and gave her a flirty smile. "I love it when you say my name. Especially when you said it like I'm in trouble or something."
"Mellark," she quipped again, giving him a saucy wink in the webcam. Peeta giggled.
"Now will you tell me what's clearly on your mind?"
"Oh, fine," she relented, immediately feeling stupid. "Have you um…seen Cassie?"
Peeta's face fell slightly. "Oh, yeah. I was meaning to tell you about that. Guess who she hooked up with over the summer apparently?"
"My roommate, Mark. So she's been frequenting our dorm often, slutting it up," he said in an annoyed tone.
Katniss frowned. "So she's been in your room?"
Peeta nodded. "Oh yeah. I already walked in on them um…you know," he sighed, rolling his blue eyes. "Lovely, right?"
She felt her stomach sink. Peeta's roommate was now dating the only other girl he had slept with. She wasn't sure how to feel about that. Cassie had broken his heart into pieces last year, but what if he wasn't over her? Katniss' mind pictured Cassie waiting for Peeta naked while Mark was out of town at an away game. There would be plenty of those, after all. What was to stop the wicked slut from attempting to seduce him a second time? Her stomach twisted nervously at the gruesome thought. If the real Cassie was anything like the girl she had built up in her mind, she didn't stand a chance. She would lose Peeta to someone like that for sure.
"Hey," he said softly, calling her attention back. "I can see your face, don't forget. Don't go there, Katniss, okay?"
"I wasn't…." she trailed off, scratching her forehead. It was useless; Peeta could read her like a book. "Okay, maybe I was. Is she…pretty?"
Peeta rolled his eyes. "It doesn't matter if she's pretty. I don't love her…or even like her anymore. I love you, alright? Only you. She's just the trashy girl that caught my eye once a long time ago when I was young and dumb and didn't know any better."
"You said you thought you loved her."
"Yeah, because I didn't know what real love looked like. Or felt like. I hadn't met you. You're the one I want, not her."
Once again, Peeta had put her mind at ease with his simple, sweet words. She felt silly for thinking that about Cassie; she was a strong girl who shouldn't worry about inconsequential things like silly sluts who had broken her boyfriend's heart. Peeta had never given her cause to doubt him or worry; she was just being insecure.
She nodded. "I love you too. I'm sorry," she admitted. "I was jealous."
Peeta's soulful gaze watched her through the screen. "I'm sorry. I promise I didn't bring her up to screw with your head or anything, I just wanted to be honest…I figured I'd want you to tell me in that kind of situation."
Katniss shifted in her desk chair, her eyes landing on the only picture of Peeta she had. Madge had taken it the last day of camp and sent it to her in the mail before she had left for school. It was the two of them, standing in front of her cabin. Peeta had his arm around her waist and was grinning at the camera, and Katniss was giving it a sheepish grin. She had felt awkward and out of place having her picture taken with a boy at the time, but she couldn't hide the small squeal of delight she had let slip when she had discovered the picture in her mailbox before school started. It was sitting in a silver frame on her desk. More than once that week she had caught herself gazing at it instead of at her homework. She shook her head and turned her attention back to Peeta.
"No, I would. You're right, Peeta. Can we chalk it up to being an insecure girl?"
He frowned. "But you're no insecure. You're strong and beautiful. Defiant," he chuckled.
"I'm not upset, it's not like you set them up, right?"
"No," he replied with an eye roll. "I don't like her anymore Katniss. I don't even think she remembers we-"
He cut himself off before saying 'slept together', but she knew what he had meant to say. The memory of Peeta's heartache stung for her; she couldn't imagine how he felt watching his former fling cavorting with his roommate.
"Still though…that can't be easy."
Peeta shrugged. "I don't care. Like I said this summer…why have Spam when I can have fillet?"
Katniss stared at him through the monitor, her heart fluttering in her chest as Peeta watched her.
"I mean it Katniss, I love you. Not her. I don't even feel anything anymore when she makes out with Mark…on my futon," he chuckled.
"You're serious?" she asked, laughing nervously. "That would bother me a tiny bit."
"Nah," he said. "She's just…drama. I see that now. I didn't before….I guess it just took meeting the girl of my dreams to help me get over it."
"Stop it," she said softly.
"Charming the pants off of me."
Peeta laughed loudly, clapping as his bright blue eyes lit up. "I wish!"
She shook her head at his antics, knowing she would never live down Peeta's wish to 'do dirty things' over Skype. Or the phone. She shuddered to herself at the thought of how silly she would feel attempting phone sex.
"I know you do. I Just….I wish you were here. A lot."
"I do too. But we'll see each other soon," he replied hopefully, his voice growing soft. He gave her another coy look over the monitor.
"So do you miss me?"
She nodded. "I do. Do you miss me?"
"Of course I do. You should transfer here," he pleaded.
Wow. He doesn't bullshit around, does he?
"Peeta," she whined, "You know I can't afford your little liberal arts school."
"You're a good student though! There's scholarships and-"
"Peeta, I'm a fair student at best."
"But still! We have one of the best Nursing programs in the state. You know we do…."
She sighed, shaking her head at him. "You wish. Besides, if I went to your school I'd never get anything done! You'd just want me naked all the time."
Peeta sighed, giving her his best puppy dog eyes. "You're right I guess," he laughed. "So I guess the idea of seeing your boobs over Skype is out?"
"Peeta!" she laughed. "What if someone saw?"
He shrugged. "You have the best ones I've seen, show them off."
Katniss rolled her eyes at her boyfriend's antics. She didn't get why he thought she was so neat, but she would certainly take it. Her time with Peeta had been some of the happiest times in her life. The only other time she had been as happy and carefree as she was now was before her father had passed away. She missed him, but Peeta helped heal that ache that missing him caused.
"So when can you come visit?"
"You're the busy one Casanova, you tell me."
Peeta looked at his planner, flipping through the pages. "Well, this weekend is out because we have rush. Then the next weekend we'll have lots of brotherhood events and crap like that…the weekend after?"
She shuffled through the papers on her desk and picked up her own daily planner and flipped through the pages. She had already marked down when her major exams were, so she wasn't worried about missing anything.
"How about the weekend of September 9th?"
Peeta's eyes lit up. "Perfect. Works for me!"
"It's a date then," she smiled.
Peeta grinned back at her from the screen, his blonde hair shining in the light of his dorm room. "You bet it's a date."
Ahh! It's here! The sequel to Cruel Summer! I cannot thank you enough for reading and following and getting so excited for this fic over on Tumblr/twitter. I love my readers!
That said, this fic will be rated 'M' for a reason. I don't want to offend anyone who doesn't prefer that or is younger, but this fic really focuses on both their emotional and physical relationship. Emphasis on the physical, simply because I'm a perv when it comes to The Jaw ; )
Please review and let me know what you think! : )