This is an idea that won't leave my head. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you to my beta nonemoreblack.
"Hold the door," she calls out in desperation, her hand extended helplessly towards the steadily closing elevator. She's mentally calculating how fast she can run up the many flights of stairs to her left, her high heeled feet already protesting, when the door slides open to reveal a man in a wheelchair blinking up at her—a rather handsome man, at that, well-dressed and blond and pink cheeked. He'd look almost boyish if it wasn't for the tuxedo, and the slightly crinkled corners of his bright blue eyes.
"Thank you," she says breathlessly, her long black pea coat revealing two very toned, very appealing black clad legs. His eyes dart toward and away from her thighs so fast that someone who wasn't in the business of looking for these types of mannerisms would never have noticed. But, she does.
"What floor?" he asks politely, his hand hovering over the panel of buttons.
"Oh, um," she pauses and consults her phone, tapping quickly. "Thirty." She glances at the already lit up button on the panel. Penthouse.
She gives him a second, harder look and appraises him quickly, a gift she has learned to hone over the past year. She immediately hates herself for it, but the good looking man with kind eyes is staying in the penthouse suite at the Four Seasons, and she tells herself that she'd be remiss if she hadn't noticed something like that.
His tuxedo is clearly a hand crafted designer original, his leather dress shoes shined to such a clear perfection that she can see her reflection—as it is, she can spy the tops of her stockings, where the garter strap meets them, and as she spares another look towards the man, she realizes he probably could, too, especially from his seated vantage point. His pink stained cheeks are venturing more into the maroon category, and from the way her face is suddenly burning, she must look much the same.
Jesus! Get it together! she thinks to herself. You're not some amateur, why are you so off your game?
She tugs at her pea coat and sends him a brief smile before focusing hard on the steel doors of the elevator.
Fifteen more minutes and my appointment is null and void, she stresses, peeking down to look at her phone again. She drops it into her bag with a huff, tired of stressing out. She absolutely cannot be late; her client tonight is very particular about punctuality, and she knows that he will not hesitate to turn her away at the door if she can't follow the most important request that was inked on the contract he had submitted to the agency.
As if fate is conspiring against her, the lights suddenly blink once, twice, and then the elevator stops completely in its tracks, just as it reaches the floor of her destination.
"Fuck!" she swears, blinking in the pitch blackness. She blindly searches her bag for her phone, thinking about the flashlight app that her friend Johanna had installed for her, despite her protests that I'll never use that app, Jo. Ever.
The blond man must have pressed the Call button for assistance. She hears an attendant's voice ring out through the call box speaker, assuring them that management is aware of the problem and that it should be fixed soon. All is silent in the elevator for a moment, and as she wraps her fingers around her phone, she is startled by the voice that resounds from her right.
"Are you okay?"
She jumps at the sound. The lights suddenly blink back on, and she thanks the Lord above for at least that small mercy. She looks over at the man beside her and gives him a tense nod. "Yes, I'm just in a bit of a hurry," she says with a smile that is more like a grimace.
"I understand," he says with an easygoing nod, not looking put out in the slightest that they were seemingly stuck in an elevator. "Nothing worse than being at the mercy of machinery, right?"
She gives a startling honest, barking laugh at his self-deprecating joke before flushing in realization. "I'm sorry," she apologizes, rubbing her cheek.
"Don't be," he says, looking up at her appreciatively. "If you can't have a sense of humor about the things that go wrong in life, you might as well give up completely."
"That's a pretty optimistic viewpoint."
"What can I say? I'm a pretty optimistic guy."
"Admirable, if not annoying," she mutters distractedly, fidgeting on her feet. Her heels are killing her.
The man's eyes widen and then he laughs again. "I love your candor," he says, sounding pleased.
"My what?" she tears her eyes away from the clock on her phone to eye him suspiciously. God, I have to get to the thirtieth floor! she agonizes, tapping her foot.
"You're just refreshing," he says with a shrug. "Many people tiptoe around me and are unfailingly polite."
She suddenly realizes how she has basically insulted this person twice in a matter of seconds, and shakes her head. "I'm not typically this rude," she says, exhaling. "I'm just, I really have to be somewhere and my nerves are a little shot."
"Hey, I know how it feels to be stuck," he says seriously. She raises an eyebrow and bites her lip, unsure of what to say. He finally breaks, saving her from an awkward struggle for a proper response.
"Your face," he chuckles, raising his knuckles to his lips. "Priceless."
"You're such a jerk," she snaps at him. She throws her head back dramatically and glares at the stark white ceiling of the elevator, her lips twitching as she rolls her eyes back down to look at him.
He shrugs with one shoulder, his eyes crinkling as he smiles up at her. "I've been called worse."
"I believe it," she says, pulling on her braid.
He makes an amused noise. "I thought that you weren't typically this rude," he quotes her.
She pauses, frowning. "Touché. Blame it on my blood sugar, alright?" she sighs, leaning down and rubbing her calf. "When I don't eat, I get extra cranky. My little sister gets the brunt of my bad mood all the time. She gives me hell about it constantly." Who cares if she's over sharing with this guy, she'll never see him again.
"Really?" he asks, actually sounding interested. "Are you close?"
"Yes," she says, distracted again, checking her phone. "She lives with me—"
The elevator suddenly jerks in motion, cutting off her words and causing her to stumble on her wobbly high heels. She falls forward and braces herself on the nearest available surface.
Unfortunately, this surface happens to be the blond man's very muscular thighs.
He grips her arms and steadies her, his face concerned. "I'm okay," she says hastily, pulling herself up. "This is just clearly not my night," she says, blowing aside a piece of hair that had escaped from her tight braid.
He shakes his head slowly. "Don't worry, I didn't mind at all." Their eyes meet for a long moment, the sound of the elevator door opening finally making her tear away from his stare. He really is sweet. And attractive, she thinks, slightly regretful as she backs away. Oh well. Maybe in another life.
"Well, it was nice meeting you…"
"Peeta," he interjects, a half-smile on his lips. "Peeta Mellark."
"Peeta Mellark," she sounds the name out, the words strangely familiar on her tongue. "It was lovely to meet you. But I've got to go—" she trails off abruptly as she stares down at a text message on her phone. It's from Effie, her supervisor at the agency.
Your contract has been terminated, per the client's request. Please see me at 10AM SHARP.
Her heart plummets as she realizes that not only has she lost a very important client, but she may very well be terminated completely. It's happened before; twice this week, actually—and to two girls much prettier than her. The agency is upscale and very, very discreet, used by some of the most powerful and elite men (and women) in the city.
She closes her eyes and presses a shaking hand to her forehead for a moment. She takes a deep, calming breath, but it really does nothing to calm her down.
"Are you getting off?" Peeta asks hesitantly from behind her. She turns to see that he has courteously held his finger to the button that stops the doors from closing.
She shakes her head mutely, stepping back into the elevator. It starts an upward journey a moment later, and they exist in silence as they travel to the top floor.
She's caught up in a mental state of self-flagellation before she realizes that the man— no, Peeta, is speaking to her again.
"What?" she turns slightly to look at him.
"What's your name?" he repeats, wearing an expression that is both bemused and concerned.
"Oh." She shifts on her heels, hesitating. "Katniss," she finally says, her tone slightly defeated.
Normally, she would never reveal her real name—not to a client, and definitely not to some random person she just met in an elevator at the Four Seasons. She barely even speaks to men that are not clients, with the exception of her Uncle Haymitch and best friend, Gale. It's easier that way, if men are nothing more than a job to her.
But what does that matter now? she thinks, closing her eyes. I'm pretty sure I'm out of a job. And now I'm fucked.
"Are you alright, Katniss?" he asks, the sincerity in the question driving her to unexpected honesty.
"No," she says. "I'm really not. I...missed something. An appointment—" she starts and stops, shaking her head.
The elevator doors ding as they reach the penthouse floor. She realizes that in her stressed state, she never pressed the button that will take her to the lobby of hotel, and scoffs at herself for yet another failure.
She reaches over to the panel that will direct her to the ground floor, but Peeta grabs her hand gently. "Katniss. Wait."
She glances at him, her eyebrows knitted together. "Yes?"
Peeta clears his throat. "That appointment you missed," he says meaningfully. "Perhaps I can fill in for it."
She looks at him in confusion, and then flushes at the steady, knowing look in his eyes. He knows.
"Oh—you? And me?" she coughs, flustered at his nod.
"Only If you're open to that," he says quietly, searching her face. "I'd certainly understand if you weren't."
She weighs her options. She desperately needed this appointment tonight; she may very well be fired tomorrow, a bleak possibility. Her rent is due in less than a week, and though the apartment is a cramped, sorry excuse for a home, living in the city is expensive. Her little sister just started her first semester at Columbia. On-campus housing was not included in her scholarship package, and it was entirely too expensive for Katniss to swing. If she accepts this man's offer, she could have an under-the-table payment, without any of the fees taken away that the agency normally pockets. It's a risk, yes. But what other choice does she have?
"No, I-I am," she finally says with a stammer, losing all of the professional coolness she has adopted over the past year. "It's just, it doesn't normally work like this."
"We can handle it however you want," he says. He waits patiently as she bites her lip. She nods.
He presses the button to open the elevator doors and moves onto the plush carpet of the hallway that leads to the only set of doors on the penthouse floor. As she follows behind him, she notes that even the wallpaper is different, more opulent than even the lobby walls.
He takes out a key from his pocket -not a keycard, but an honest-to-God gold key- and unlocks the door to the room. She hesitates at the doorway, and he turns his head slightly, motioning her in with an encouraging smile.
"So, do you live here?" she asks, glancing around the large living area and trying not to look too impressed.
"No," he says, throwing his tuxedo jacket onto the back of a plush leather couch. "I actually only live a few blocks away— you can take your shoes off, by the way." She shoots him a grateful look. He continues, "I had to attend a function located at the hotel, and it was just easier to stay here, rather than travel with my chair."
"Oh, okay," she says, standing in the middle of the room uncomfortably.
"Are you thirsty? Do you want a drink?" he calls out, wheeling towards the kitchen. Not a kitchenette, like in her studio apartment in Morningside Heights, but a full-blown, professional grade kitchen.
"Um, sure," she says, trailing behind him. Her stockinged feet slip slightly on the slick (Marble? Is the floor actually marble?) floor as she approaches him, and she looks up quickly to make sure he didn't notice. From the way his lips quirk, he definitely did. She throws her purse onto the kitchen counter and rolls her eyes at herself. So professional.
She watches as he nears the refrigerator, and a thought occurs to her. A slightly paranoid thought, maybe, but still. She can't be too careful. "On second thought," she says, her lips turned down slightly. "I'm not really that thirsty." She's seen the news. She watches 48 Hours. Who the hell knows what's in his fancy drinks.
He pauses in his tracks and wheels around. "No?" he asks, obviously confused at her change of heart.
"How do I know you're not a serial killer?" she asks suddenly, half-serious. She's never organized a meeting outside of the agency. In fact, it's strictly forbidden, with all sorts of penalties including but not limited to termination as well as monetary reparations for poaching potential clients.
He smiles and moves toward her, gesturing at her bag on the kitchen counter. "Google me, then."
She fidgets, visibly uncomfortable, and he raises an eyebrow at her hesitation.
"It's just so personal," she frowns. "An invasion of privacy." He looks at her incredulously a moment before throwing his head back with a deep laugh.
"Katniss," he finally says, "I'm planning on invading much more than your privacy tonight." The look he gives her sends a thrill straight down her spine and into her belly. "Look, I'll do it for you, then."
He pulls his phone out and taps a few times before showing her the screen. He shakes it at her when she makes no move to take it, and she finally acquiesces with a huff when it becomes clear that he's not backing down.
She grabs his wrist and pulls the phone into her view, glancing at the headings that were pulled up on the search engine.
Peeta Mellark profiles | LinkedIn
Philanthropist of the Year Award - AAFP Foundation | Peeta Mellark
Peeta Mellark, CEO | Mellark Corps
"Okay," she finally says, her eyes sliding down the screen.
"Have I set your heart at ease?" he asks.
She pushes the phone away. "I suppose," she says. "You're over qualified for this, though."
"Me," she says bluntly. "You could get much better from the agency. You're platinum level."
He looks at her steadily. "And what are you?"
"Probably a disappointment," she mutters, jumping up to sit on the marble counter top in one smooth motion. She grabs an apple from a basket next to her and rolls it in her palm, staring at it intensely for a moment.
"Katniss," Peeta says, clearing his throat. "I feel like I should confess something to you—in the spirit of full disclosure."
She carefully places the apple back in the basket. "O-kay," she says, her expression guarded.
This is where things are going to get weird, she thinks, steeling herself. I fucking know it.
"I'm familiar with your agency."
"Okay…?" Katniss nods slowly.
"There's generally only one that works in association with this hotel," he explains, rubbing his curls and not meeting her eyes. It's the first time that he's looked less than confident in her presence. "I'm not a stranger to that service."
"Oh," she says.
She's not sure why her stomach drops sharply. She can't judge Peeta; that would be the height of hypocrisy, given her profession. And it's certainly not jealousy. She barely knows this man. But, still. There's an undeniable voice in her head that balks at the thought of him bedding down with Glimmer or Clove, two girls that work with her. She can't compete with that. She's not sure what he's expecting, but she—
"So, you see, I've had platinum," he interrupts her thoughts, his voice soft. "It…wasn't a good experience."
Her eyebrows knit together. "What do you mean?" she asks, her tone more harsh than she intended. "Was it because of…" her eyes drop down against her will.
"Oh, no," he interrupts her, looking at his legs ruefully. "Everything is in, ah, perfect working order, if that's what you were concerned about."
"It isn't—' she stresses, aghast, but he just shakes his head.
"It's fine," he reassures her. "I should probably explain what's going on with that. I'm actually able to walk, but, I'm an amputee." He pauses, as if waiting for a reaction, but she is silent as she waits for him to continue.
"I have a prosthesis that I wear—I'm wearing it now, actually, but I've just been refitted for a new one, and my presence was an unavoidable requirement at a fundraiser tonight. It involved much more standing than is recommended by my physician at the moment."
"Oh, okay," she says, and then curses herself for her lack of response. She just isn't sure how to respond. When he said that his 'platinum' experience hadn't worked out, she assumed it was because one of the girls had been less than delicate about his situation. His leg, or lack thereof, doesn't bother her at all— neither had his wheelchair. Granted, she had wondered how the logistics of sex would work, but she had figured that he knew what he was doing.
She's trying to imagine him standing up from the chair, wondering how tall he is, when he clears his throat. She realizes that her silence must have been unnerving. "None of that is an issue with me," she informs him. "I thought you were going to say that those girls were bitches to you. I was going to report their asses immediately," she adds bluntly.
"My hero," he says, his lips quirking. "But no, nothing like that. They were very accommodating. I suppose you could just say that they didn't quite do it for me."
"Why not?" she asks, slightly mystified. Platinum girls are basically supermodels with no inhibitions or limitations. Seriously, how am I going to measure up to that?
He shrugs and wheels back and forth slightly. "Highly trained dolls that moan and giggle on command? They just, they weren't—"
He stops and looks at her. "Yes."
"But, neither am I," she says distantly, her fingers creeping back towards the basket of apples.
He tries to hide his smile. "Sure," he agrees, watching her fingers trail.
"So, what does do it for you then?" she asks, distracted.
"Katniss," he says, his voice entirely too gentle for her liking, "Are you hungry?"
She drops the apple. "No," she scowls, snatching her fingers away.
"In the elevator, you said that you hadn't eaten," he reminds her, already wheeling away towards the refrigerator.
"I'm fine," she protests, watching him as he struggles with the large stainless steel door. She briefly considers whether she should help him or not, whether that would be inappropriate or presumptuous, but he has it under control within seconds.
"Look, I have ulterior motives," his voice is muffled as he leans into the cavernous fridge, pulling out containers methodically. "I need you to keep your strength up." This he says with a slightly wolfish smile, turning around to wink at her. She rolls her eyes and tries not to smile.
He wheels back around and approaches the island in the center of the kitchen, placing his lap full of items onto it, and she notices for the first time that half of the island is lower than the other. Modified just for him? she wonders to herself. Expensive.
She watches as he unfolds a piece of cloth and removes a wedge of cheese, placing it on a heavy cutting board. "You're seriously going to cook for me?" she asks, uncomfortable. This was so...intimate. "Why don't you just order room service?"
"My, aren't we high maintenance?" he teases, pulling a loaf of golden bread from a large wooden box sitting in the middle of the island.
She sputters and he shakes his head. "I like to cook," he says simply, smiling down at the bread as he slices a few thick pieces with a large knife that he grabbed from an even larger butcher block to his left. "I just never really have the opportunity these days."
She eyes the knife as he moves onto slicing the wedge of cheese into professional, perfect pieces.
"Have you ever seen American Psycho?" she asks suddenly. He looks up, confused by the reference.
"No, actually, I haven't."
She scoffs, her eyes widening. "How is that even possible? And is it uncomfortable living under a rock?"
"I'm kind of, well, very behind on movies," he admits, spreading butter onto both sides of the bread slices. "Ever since my father retired suddenly quite a few years back, my life took a decidedly different turn."
She nods slowly. "How old are you?"
"Thirty," he says, matter-of-fact. Her eyes widen. She wasn't sure how old he was, but he looked like he could have been one of the frat boys that had gone to her college. "Is that a problem?" he asks quietly.
"No, of course not," she rushes to reassure him.
"How old are you?"
"Twenty-two," she says.
"Do you mind if I ask how you got into this profession?"
He raises an eyebrow at her and nods. "Fair enough," he says, and she swears he sounds disappointed. "Do you like mushrooms?" he asks suddenly, and she squints in confusion at the change of subject.
"Oh, um, yes. Who doesn't like mushrooms?" she replies, wrinkling her nose.
"You'd be surprised," he laughs, scooping a generous handful of black, misshapen puffs from a gold box. "What about tomatoes?"
"Yes. Look, I've never met a vegetable that I didn't like," she informs him, licking her lips as he slices a perfectly ripened tomato into thick rounds.
"Good to know," he says, amused. "Are you a vegetarian?"
"God, no," she shakes her head in mock horror. "Give me a juicy steak, or better yet, venison stew any day of the week."
"I've actually never had venison," he says with interest, looking up at her.
"You're missing out," she states seriously. "I would do depraved acts for a fresh piece of deer meat. It's delicious, and great for the ecosystem. Far too many deer roaming the woods."
He smiles. "You have strong opinions on this subject."
"I grew up on deer meat," she says, shrugging. "In the country."
"Oh, is your dad a hunter?" he asks, carefully layering cheese and vegetables onto the bread slices. She decides that she likes watching his strong hands do such delicate work.
"No, well. He was," she says, a shadow crossing her face. "But mostly it was me."
"You?" He almost drops the sandwich as he moves toward the toaster oven. "But you're so small."
She scowls slightly and rolls her eyes. "I wasn't choking them out with my bare hands, city boy," she informs him dryly. "I have my bow."
He stares at her for a long moment after he places her sandwich in the oven. "You are something else," he says, shaking his head.
"Is that good or bad?" she asks, cocking her head.
He retrieves her sandwich, placing it on a plate. He opens the refrigerator and takes out a bottle of sparkling water before wheeling the items over to her.
"Very good," he finally says, placing the items on the counter next to her.
She's quiet for a moment. "Thanks," she finally says, looking down at the food. She can't remember the last time someone has been so thoughtful towards her, and it makes her uncomfortable for reasons she can't quite pinpoint. "You really don't have to be this nice. I'm already bought and paid for," she adds, picking up the sandwich and biting into it savagely.
"Actually, you're not," he says mildly. "We haven't even discussed payment yet."
"Oh-oh!" she says, shifting on the counter. "That's right."
"What's your usual fee?" Peeta looks up at her expectantly.
"Well, uh. It depends, I guess? On whether or not I'm attending an actual event, and how long I'm there..." she trails off awkwardly. She has no idea how to proceed. This is a first.
"Why don't you just write down how much you think you would have gotten for the appointment you missed tonight?" he suggests helpfully. Katniss looks at him and realizes that he probably knew she was an escort from the first moment that he met her. She's not sure how she feels about that, though she supposes that it was probably obvious to someone who has used the agency before. "We'll calculate from there," he continues.
Katniss chews on her lip and nods, looking around for a pen or pencil, and he pulls out a sturdy, gold Montblanc fountain pen from his pocket and hands it to her. She scowls at the writing instrument for a moment before scribbling down a number on a napkin she finds to her right.
She slides it toward him and ducks her head, taking a bite from her sandwich. She watches him from underneath her lashes as he looks down and then back up at her.
"Really?" Peeta asks, one eyebrow raised.
She fights back a blush and nods hesitantly. "I could be wrong? That's just what I think it might have been...based on past appointments," she struggles for the words, flustered as he gestures for his pen back. She hands it to him wordlessly.
She eats and tries not to feel stupidly inadequate as he writes something down and passes the napkin back to her.
She looks down, up and down again before speaking. "Are you fucking crazy?" she blurts out flatly, placing her food back down on the plate.
"No," Peeta says, matter-of-fact. He reaches up to the counter and picks up her sandwich. "Just very, very wealthy."
He takes a deliberate bite, and there's something oddly erotic about watching his perfect teeth sink into the space in the bread that was left by her own mouth. She watches him chew, suddenly breathless, and their eyes are locked as his strong jaw works before swallowing.
"Oh, are you-are you hungry?" she asks as he puts the food back on the plate. "I didn't even offer..." she trails off at the expression on his face. She stares down at him as he wheels forward slightly and pulls her foot into his lap, trying not to moan as he massages the arch gently but firmly.
"Katniss," he says, his eyes dark. "I'm starved."
I don't anticipate this story being longer than three chapters. Next chapter: the M warning comes into play.
I'm peetaspenis on tumblr- come hang out!