[A/N: All right I'm still new to writing, I hope you enjoy. I'm also still working on "Out of the Ashes" so I'll be splitting time between these two stories. I'm going to try to update at least once a week. PLEASE REVIEW!]
The scent of peppermint always reminded me of Christmas at my grandmother's house in Kentucky. She had this little bowl of candy that sat beside her chair in the den and every time I went over there during the holidays I would leave with a hand full of peppermint candy in my pocket.
It was only days before Christmas and I was sitting in an airport waiting to fly home from Hawaii where I'd been filming Catching Fire. My face was buried in one of my favorite books but there was one little boy who kept running from his mother and climbing into the chair next to me. He'd wave his candy cane at me and giggle bashfully before climbing down and running back to her. I have to admit the first few times it was cute, but now, after a least a dozen interruptions just trying to get through this one paragraph, I was considering escaping down the terminal to find a Starbucks or some other form of caffeine.
I gathered up my things, shoving my book into my large black purse before tugging my sunglasses down over my eyes. The last thing I felt like dealing with was the rampage of paparazzi or screaming fans but things had actually been pretty quiet lately. Of course, there were the set picture popping up everywhere but few people actually got more than a birds-eye view.
Most of the cast was leaving Hawaii for Christmas, though we'd be back for a few more weeks after the holidays to finish filming. I was going to fly into LAX and relax at home until Christmas Eve and then head to Kentucky to see my family for a the week.
"Caramel Macchiato, please."
"Sure, and what's your—oh... your that girl, from the Hunger Games. Katie, Katie come here, it's..."
Oh shit. I found myself shaking my head desperately. Great, just great, I thought. "Jennifer." I said, completing his sentence. A few people were poking their heads up from their laptops, looking around when the manager walked up silencing the star-struck barista.
"Anything else for you ma'am?" The manager asked. My eyes fell on the cake pops. Caaaake pops, I couldn't resist.
"One of the cake pops, also." I stammered.
Between the coffee and my usual anxiety of flying I was a jittery mess about half-way through my flight home. Reading was impossible so I resorted to listening to music and playing on my iPhone. I ended up finding a text message from Nick that I missed yesterday.
Can't wait to see you, Angel. I've missed you.
A little smile played on my lips reading that. Nick and I had grown apart a lot lately, our careers were just on different tracks right now but I would be happy to see him back in California. He had been busy filming "Warm Bodies" and now was working on "Mad Max" while I was busy with all things Hunger Games and "The Silver Linings Playbook".
By the end of the long flight I was so relieved to touch down on solid ground. When I finally made it past all the paparazzi and back to my condo in LA I was exhausted. The quiet silence was spectacular though. I quickly changed into sweatpants and one of Nick's t-shirts he left over here and began flipping through the channels on TV. I smiled when I found A Christmas Story playing on TBS and sat down with a bowl of ice cream to relax.
A few minutes later my phone buzzed on the end table and I reached over to see Josh's name on the display.
Make it home safely?
I slid my thumb over the display and sat down the bowl in my lap before my fingers slid over the screen.
The paparazzi practically attacked my Volkswagen but I'm safe on my couch right now... with ice-cream and a Christmas Story.
I barely had time to put my phone down before his response came through.
A Christmas Story? Check it. Well, have a good night Jen.
Goodnight Josh, I replied and finished my ice cream before curling up under the blankets.
I woke up to the sound of knocking on the door to my condo.
Shit! What time is it?!
I kicked off the covers knocking over the empty bowl of ice cream onto the carpet below and searched the couch cushions for my phone. 8:49 AM. The banging on the door didn't stop so I got up running a hand through my tangled hair as I went to peek through the peephole. To my surprise, Nick was standing on the other side, a grin spread across his face and his blue eyes gleaming. My fingers danced over the dead-bolt and I swung open the door.
"Nicholas Hoult. What are you doing here so early?" I grinned from ear to ear.
He pulled a dozen red roses from behind his back, he wasn't hiding them all that well anyway. I accepted them and then he grabbed me, tugging me into his arms.
"I couldn't stand another minute without you, Love." He said into my hair as our bodies pressed together in the doorway of my condo. In his other hand he held a brown paper bag, it crunched against my back as he held me.
"You brought food..." I deducted and he laughed as we closed the door to the condo. Nick made his way over to the pile of blankets on my couch.
"You have a bed, you know." Nick said, tossing the blankets into the chair in the corner and tripping over the bowl in the floor, causing the spoon to clink against the china.
"I couldn't make it that far." I said, scooping up the bowl and heading off to the kitchen to put the roses in water. I deposited the dish in the sink and then began searching for a vase for the roses. "These are beautiful, Nick." I called out from the kitchen as I trimmed the stems and sat the vase of roses on the bar where he could see from the living room.
"So are you, Raven." He grinned. He always called me that on the set of X-Men where we met and it stuck, only because I hated it so much. It was like his way of poking fun at me and I just rolled my eyes before joining him with two glasses of orange juice on the couch.
"I'll let you by with the one, only because you brought food." I mused. "What's in the bag?"
He dumped the contents on the table. "Sausage biscuits from Pann's." A little container toppled out next to the biscuits. "Country fried potatoes too."
My eyes widened and I leaned over pressing a kiss to Nick's cheek. "You know me too well."
We ate our breakfast together on the couch, talking about Hawaii and his upcoming premieres. Nick was the type of guy that I instantly felt comfortable around. I didn't mind sitting here, hair a mess, in my sweatpants and eating breakfast with him. He had to leave soon though and promised to be back tonight to pick me up for dinner. We were celebrating Christmas over dinner tonight so that meant I had all day to find his perfect Christmas gift. What on earth would I buy him? The guy had everything.
I took a shower, straightened my hair and got prepared to head out to The Grove. I put on a little make-up and found a hat to wear. LA was getting unbearable because of the paparazzi but I was hoping for the best. My friend Zoë joined in the adventure and we ended up basically playing "hide from the paparazzi" all day. We came out with a handful of bags, a few strange fan encounters to laugh about and a bag containing my gifts for Nick.
I had purchased a bottle of Macallan 18 to share over dinner tonight. The box set of Tarantino movies and the Coach gloves he'd mentioned the last time we were in the UK. He'd be heading there to see his family tomorrow and I'd head to Kentucky. We'd be worlds away from each other, again.
After I dropped Zoë off at her loft I went home to wrap up his gift and get ready for dinner. At 6:25 there was a knock on my door. I was about mid-way through fixing my hair. I put down my straightener, wondering why Nick was so early. When I swung open the door though I found Josh, my co-star from the Hunger Games and friend, standing on the other side.
"Oh my god, Josh! What are you doing here?" I exclaimed embarrassed with the state of my appearance. Half my hair was up in a clip on one side of my hair, curly out like a peacock and the other side was straight down to my shoulders.
"God, I shouldn't have come up here uninvited. It's just... Vanessa and... I didn't know what to do." He was rambling, his eyes were red and he was sort of stumbling over his speech.
"Joshua Ryan! Are you drunk?!" I exclaimed. "How did you get here?"
"I walked." He slurred. "She kicked me out of the car about three blocks back. Told me I could walk home. That bitch."
"Get in here, now." I said, pulling him inside, thinking about all the paparazzi in the area lately. "What happened?" I finally asked as I brought him a bottle of water from the fridge.
"We had a fight. We always have a fight. I go to Hawaii for a month and come back and she wants to fight some more. I'm so done with her bullshit Jennifer."
I stood there for a few minutes listening to him continue to tell about their constant bickering. I'd heard all about it really. Nick would be here soon though and I knew I had to finish getting ready. I wasn't entirely sure how excited he would be about Josh showing up on my door step. Eventually I escaped and finished straightening my hair and putting on my make up. When I made it back into the living room Josh had his head in his hands.
"Avan's on his way." He muttered. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have..."
"It's fine Josh. It's not really safe to be out there on the curb lately. Too many eyes. Are you all right though?"
"I'm fine. It's just, finally over. I can't deal with this anymore." He finally looked up at me and for a moment a trace of a smile played on his lips. "Fuck Lawrence, you're beautiful."
I let out a loud laugh. "I just fixed my hair Josh."
"Well," he chuckled a little, "You need a hot date? I mean..."
"I already have one actually. Nick and I are going out for Christmas dinner tonight. I leave for Kentucky tomorrow and he's going back to England to visit his family for the holidays." I grinned. "Sober up Hutcherson. How far away is your boy?"
"I don't know, like 10 minutes I think."
I glanced at the clock, Nick would be here any minute. I suppressed a groan and made my way to grab his gifts and make sure I was indeed beautiful. That's laughable, I thought. I don't really understand what everyone else sees but I always appreciate the confidence boost. That's when the doorbell rang, how was I ever going to explain this one.