Author's Note: So welcome to my first attempt at a modern AU. Unlike A Favorable Wind, this story is a WIP, and it will be posted as such. This story was inspired (yes, inspired...not based on like AFW and the Avi novel) by the old Nicolas Cage movie It Could Happen to You. But other than the lottery ticket and Peeta's mean wife (rest assured, this is Everlark all the way), that's where the inspiration ends.
THG belongs to Suzanne Collins.
Many thanks to my sounding boards and therapists, jeeno2 and ILoveRynMar. Thank you for listening to the outline for this story and reassuring me that it doesn't completely suck.
Please do let me know your thoughts and comments...this time, reviews will certainly fuel my creative energy.
It's a funny thing about luck. Most people who believe in it don't have it; it's the nonbelievers, the skeptics, who seem to stumble into it without trying.
Katniss Everdeen will be one of the latter.
Tuesday the fourteenth of April starts off like any other day for Katniss.
Another bad day, to be precise. It seems that lately, the bad days outnumber the good ones.
She skids to a stop just outside the employee restroom at the back of the diner and hastily ties her apron in a knot. She grabs her order pad and a pencil, tucking it behind her left ear. She checks her shoelaces and takes a breath and slips out the swinging doors.
"Cutting it close, Everdeen," the diner's owner mutters without looking up from his newspaper.
"Sorry, Cray. My hot water heater's pilot light went out again."
"You'd think showering in cold water'd make your skinny ass move faster," Johanna calls from behind the counter where she is refilling a carafe of orange juice.
"Shut up, Jo," Katniss snarls. She glances at the floor plan posted at the host's podium and heaves a sigh when she sees her station for the morning. Shit, shit, shit.
The front left corner of the diner is what Johanna gleefully refers to as "Kiddie Hell." Consisting of only two booths and mostly free-standing tables for four or six, it is the logical place for families with small children in need of high chairs. She's hardly in the mood for screaming toddlers and frazzled mothers this morning. Katniss is not the biggest fan of children in general.
She forces a smile onto her lips as she approaches the elderly couple that has just been seated at Table Eight.
"Good morning, welcome to Cray's Time to Eat. I'm Katniss. Can I get you both some coffee?"
"I'll take a hot tea with lemon," the old woman says sharply. "And I said hot tea, mind you. Not that tepid lukewarm water you tried to serve me last week." Katniss is certain she did not have the pleasure of serving this cranky couple during any of their previous visits to the diner, but she presses her lips together tighter and nods.
"Make that two," the old man pipes in.
"I'll be right back with those," she replies, teeth clenched. She strides back to the counter and begins readying two saucers with cups and tea bags.
"It's gonna be one of those mornings," she mumbles to Johanna, who is grabbing an order from the window. Jo laughs.
"When is it not one of those mornings? We work in a fucking shithole, Brainless." She nods over her shoulder as she heads in the direction of her tables. "Watch out for that old bitch at Table Eight. She's mean and nasty and she'll send half her order back."
"Duly noted," Katniss says wryly.
After delivering the steaming tea cups and spending a full three minutes listening to the old couple changes their order no fewer than five times only to have both the cranky woman and her husband settle on oatmeal and rye toast, Katniss cringes as she watches Cray seat a woman and three shrieking boys at Table Seven.
"Awesome," she exhales, bracing herself for her eardrums to be shattered as she nears the table.
To her surprise the boys immediately settle down when she plies them with stubs of broken crayons (Cray only buys new crayons twice a year; the big box of 96 gets divided among thirty Dixie cups and that's it-even if the children are practically coloring with stubs or flakes of wax) and a peg board game that may or may not be missing more than the obligatory one peg. She fills the mother's coffee cup and takes an order for three chocolate-chip short stacks and one Western omelet.
"Fuck you getting well-behaved kids this morning," Johanna jokes as Katniss attaches her order to the wheel and spins it into Sae, the cook. "One of the kids at my last table practically projectile-vomited his oatmeal onto my shoes before knocking over an entire glass of apple juice."
"It's about the only thing that's gone right today," she replies, filling three Styrofoam cups with milk, swirling in thick ribbons of chocolate syrup and stirring well before snapping on the lids.
"Why don't you find a new apartment? That shithole isn't worth the rent you pay.
Katniss shrugs. "I'd rather spend the money on Prim's tuition and other stuff she needs, you know? What difference is it if I live in one crappy place or another?"
"Wouldn't kill you to put yourself first once in awhile." Katniss knows her friend is serious by the lack of bite in the brunette's usually sardonic tone.
"I ain't paying you two to chit chat. Get back to work," Cray snaps from his stool behind the host's stand.
"You ain't paying us for shit," Johanna hisses under her breath, stacking three plates of eggs up her left arm before winking at Katniss and heading for her table.
Johanna is about the only good thing to come from Katniss's job at the diner.
She had so many more aspirations for herself before her mother's death changed everything.
Katniss's father had died when she was just twelve and her younger sister, Prim, eight. An electrician by trade (and a master one at that), John Everdeen had been wiring a brownstone for an upgraded sound-system when he dropped dead at the tender age of thirty-six. His death had devastated his family, sending his widow into a deep spiral of depression and zapping all the joy from his beloved daughters' idyllic childhoods. An autopsy revealed a pulmonary embolism. He had been a ticking time bomb.
His life insurance had sustained Tressa Everdeen and the girls for the first few years. But as Katniss grew older, she began to realize something was not right with her mother, and it went beyond the prolonged despondency over her husband's death. Slowly, the glassy eyes, the sallow skin and the skeletal frame began to make perfect sense. As did the foreclosure notice that forced the girls to live with their mother's brother until Mrs. Everdeen completed treatment at a rehab facility.
It took four different stints at Shady Oaks before her mother swore she was finally clean. Katniss scrutinized her mother's forearms daily for a long time before she felt she could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
By then, Katniss was eighteen and had begun taking classes at the community college, trying to decide what she wanted to do with her life. She was surprised to discover she had an affinity for writing after being forced by her advisor to take a literature seminar with all the other undeclared freshmen. She was especially prolific at poetry, and she began to dream about fusing her dormant love of music (which she had pushed away after her father's death, being something she shared so intimately with him growing up) and her newly-minted skills at verse to write lyrics.
Katniss wanted to be a songwriter.
It was a bitterly cold December morning when her cell phone buzzed in the middle of her lit final. She said a silent prayer that she had remembered to quiet the device and ignored the persistent vibrations, continuing to furiously scribble her response to the essay question about Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens and the plight of the lower class in Victorian England. She handed in the exam with a flourish, confidence flowing through her veins as she rummaged through her messenger bag for her cell phone.
Eight missed calls. The text message box glowed with an ominous, bold twenty-two.
Katniss swallowed hard, a nauseating feeling of trepidation mounting, and she tapped the screen.
Eighteen of the twenty-two texts were from Prim. Four were from her boyfriend, Gale Hawthorne.
Her mother was dead.
She hadn't been clean.
The official cause of death was a heroin overdose, but Katniss knew the affectionate and devoted mother she remembered from her childhood had died years ago. That woman had gone to the grave with John Everdeen.
The only silver lining (if any could be found) in her mother's death was its timing. Katniss had turned eighteen late that summer and was now, in the eyes of the Division of Youth and Family Services, a legal adult. She was able to petition the court on the grounds that her mother left no will and that Katniss was perfectly capable of caring for and providing for her fourteen-year-old sister. Her uncle vouched for her responsibility and assured the courts he would be a constant presence in the girls' lives. The court reluctantly agreed and awarded Katniss guardianship of "the minor Primrose Everdeen."
Katniss was happy that the ruling meant some sense of normalcy for Prim; she could stay in school with her friends provided Katniss could find an apartment in the right sending district. (She did, just several blocks from her uncle's bar and the loft he called home.)
But for Katniss, it meant her own dreams were put on hold indefinitely.
Now, nearly seven years later, she regrets nothing she has done for her little sister. Prim has blossomed into a poised, intelligent, driven young woman, and Katniss could not be more proud of her.
But at twenty-five, she has very little to show for years of hard work other than Prim's accomplishments. She spends her days working at Cray's and most nights tending bar at her Uncle Haymitch's pub, and in between shifts, in the meager time she gets to herself, she writes.
Her poems sit in a thick three-subject spiral bound notebook, waiting for Katniss to recoup the motivation to take out her guitar and compose the notes that will transform her words into full-fledged songs.
The notebook is gathering dust these days.
So yes, her friendship with Johanna Mason is about the only joy Katniss gets from her day job.
Johanna has only worked at Cray's for ten months now; Katniss is still learning bits and pieces about the abrasive brunette, who is slow to share details of her own guarded past. But it's nice to have a girl friend again, and Johanna is a surprisingly good listener and a sympathetic ear.
Her shift continues in relative quiet, something for which Katniss is grateful, because on top of the ice-cold shower that still resonates in her bones a few hours later, her abdomen feels like an extraterrestrial being is trying to claw its way out of her uterus thanks to some excruciatingly painful cramps, and her head still throbs faintly from the drinks she imbibed in last night. She wished she hadn't let the douchebag she was still casually dating talk her into those last two shots. She never drinks that much.
She tops off the coffee of the four construction workers who now occupy Table Eight, expertly deflecting their lame pickup lines and occasional leers. She shifts the coffee pot to her left hand as she makes her way to the back booth of her station to greet the two men who were sat just moments ago by Cray.
"Morning gentlemen. What can I get you started with?" She smiles tightly, knowing it does not reach her eyes (it usually doesn't) and she is well-aware that her tone could be more pleasant.
"I'll have a coffee, please." Katniss nods and finally glances at the young man to her left. She is immediately struck by his incredibly green eyes and his impossibly good looks. His coppery hair tumbles over his forehead and when he smiles up at her, his wide mouth is framed by deep dimples.
"One coffee." She nods again, dragging her eyes away from the Adonis to his dining companion.
"I'll have coffee too." There is a pause and then, "Hi, Katniss."
She freezes at the cordial tone of the voice. She doesn't recall introducing herself, now that she thinks about it. She studies the man carefully and is shocked when she realizes who is seated before her.
It's been years since she last saw Peeta Mellark. He looks nearly the same as he did in high school, though maturity has increased his good looks, if that's even at all possible. Peeta never lacked for attention from the females at Panem High School, and Katniss cannot help but notice the wavy blond hair, striking blue eyes and strong, chiseled jaw are just as she remembered.
"Oh, hey, Peeta." She momentarily considers feigning recognition but thinks better on it. But she is definitely awash with embarrassment that she is standing before Peeta Mellark…in a diner…where she works…about to serve him coffee. Judging by the well-tailored shirt Peeta wears, the silk tie and the pressed slacks, he clearly does okay for himself. And look at how far I've come since high school, she sighs inwardly.
"I didn't know you worked here," he says kindly, smiling at her. She quirks her lips up in a half-hearted attempt at a smile.
"Yeah, here I am."
"What, do you know everyone, Mellark?" the bronze-haired guy laughs.
"Sorry, Finnick Odair, this is Katniss Everdeen. Katniss, Finnick. Katniss and I went to high school together."
"Katniss, huh? I haven't heard that one before," Finnick winks at her, and Katniss can't be sure if the man is flirting with her or if he is simply a gregarious, friendly guy.
"Let me grab fresh coffee for you," she says hastily, motioning to the empty carafe in her hand. She moves swiftly back to the counter where Johanna smirks at her.
"What's got your panties in a twist?"
"Huh? What?" she stammers as she replaces the empty pot under the brewer and fills the filter with fresh grounds before pushing a button to start the machine. Another pot has just finished on the second machine, so she grabs that and faces Johanna.
"Um, those guys in the back booth? Seriously, why can't I get a decent table today? Don't even pretend that you didn't notice that those guys are both fuck-worthy!"
"I know one of them," she replies quietly, ignoring Jo's crass implication. "Went to high school with him."
"Red or Blondie?"
"The blond." She rolls her eyes. "His name is Peeta Mellark."
"They're both hot. Damn, Brainless. Check those ring fingers and then try to be charming."
"Thanks for the advice," she says dryly. "But I'm not interested in Peeta Mellark. He was a nice enough guy in high school, but so not my type." She spins on her heel and before Johanna can lob more questions at her, she returns to the booth, avoiding both men's eyes as she fills the waiting coffee cups before them.
But she does indeed sneak a glance at Peeta's left hand as she pours his coffee.
A thin band of silver (or more likely platinum) encircles the fourth finger. Married.
For what it's worth, the other man (Finnick, was it? And her name is unusual?) is also clearly married. The sunlight streaming in through the slits of the blinds on the window glints off the gold band on his left hand as he reaches for the little dish of creamers.
Good. No need to waste any additional time at this table. Take their orders and move on, Katniss, she reminds herself.
"Have you guys decided?" she asks, grabbing her pad from her apron and angling the pencil above the sheet, poised to write.
"Eggs, overeasy. Bacon. Some of those home fries. You have those, right?"
"Yes," Katniss nods, scrawling the start of Finnick's order.
"Good. Um, could I get a muffin instead of toast?"
"I'll see what I can do," she replies. Cray hates substitutions, cheap bastard that he is, but Katniss knows if she can get Sae's ear, she can swap the toast that the meal comes with for something else. "For you?" She turns to Peeta. He smiles at her, and she is irritated by the mild fluttering she feels in her stomach.
It's the cramps, she decides.
"Anything you recommend?" he asks, those big blue eyes catching the slanted sunlight, making them sparkle.
"It's a diner. It's all pretty standard," she shrugs. She really doesn't want to engage him in more conversation than is necessary. It's humiliating enough to be waiting on him, and she has other tables to be concerned with.
"Okay then, I'll go with an omelet. Egg whites, if that's alright?"
"Sure," she nods, still avoiding his eyes, scribbling on the pad again. "Anything in it?" He scans the menu and contemplates her question.
"Feta cheese, black olives and onion," he decides, closing the menu.
"It's, ah, extra for the feta."
"No problem," he smiles.
She doesn't reply when she leaves to put their order in.
She can feel Peeta's eyes on her periodically as she bustles around her station, attending to her other tables and effectively ignoring him and his friend.
Katniss has always feared running into people from high school. She didn't particularly enjoy anything about the experience the first time around and there is nothing more awkward than idle chit chat with people you have to pretend you are happy to see again.
But seeing Peeta unnerves her more than she would like to admit.
Because she still owes him. She's not sure he remembers just how much he saved her that day almost eight years ago, but she does. And she's not sure she will ever forget it, nor is she certain she can ever truly explain just how much his small sacrifice meant to her.
She swallows and slides her eyes discreetly to the back booth just in time to see Peeta's friend jump off the bench, hurriedly tugging on his coat and frantically bolting for the door. Peeta remains alone at the table, phone in his hand, eyes cast down at the screen.
It's at that moment that Sae dings the bell that tells Katniss her order is up. Peeta's order.
She slides the two plates off the kitchen window and strides over to where Peeta sits.
"Your omelet," she says nonchalantly, placing it in front of him. He puts down his phone and smiles up at her.
She sets down Finnick's spread at the empty place and coughs lightly. Peeta's eyes widen and he shakes his head.
"Oh, no. He, ah, had to go. His wife went into labor."
"Um, okay. Wow. That's, uh, exciting," she says, cringing at the lack of enthusiasm in her voice. Babies are supposed to be exciting, right? "So, uh, what should I do with his breakfast?"
"Don't worry about it. I'll still pay for it." She looks away, uncomfortable, as he continues to smile at her. "It's okay, really, Katniss. If I thought you wouldn't get into trouble, I'd ask you to sit and join me."
She fights to keep a blush off her cheeks. "Well, can I get you anything else?"
"I'm good, thanks." That smile. She wonders if his face hurts at the end of the day given how much he must use those facial muscles.
"Okay. Enjoy your breakfast."
"You're telling me everything about Blondie when we go out tonight!" Johanna calls as Katniss walks past her to retrieve another order that Sae rings out.
"Nothing to tell, Jo," she retorts.
"Those pink cheeks say otherwise, Brainless!"
"He's married, Jo. Shut up."
She stops back at Peeta's booth occasionally to check on him; she knows she is an efficient waitress and she can't very well avoid him just on principle. He asks for a refill on his coffee once, but otherwise, he politely responds that he's fine and continues eating in silence, his eyes trained on the screen of the iPad that now rests to the right of his plate. Katniss sneaks a glance at the tablet as she's leaving the table, and she assumes he must be in some kind of business given the graphs and numbers that she catches a brief glimpse of.
The fourth time she pauses at the booth, he asks for the check. She nods and drops the bill on the table, reminding him that he pays at the counter. She moves to the booth in front of his to greet a party of three older women and take their drink order. As she's stepping away from the table, she hears him call her name.
"Yeah?" She pauses before him.
A sheepish expression clouds Peeta's handsome face, and Katniss frowns in anticipation.
"I, uh, this is really embarrassing," he says softly. "I don't have my wallet. I must have left it at home this morning." He nervously rakes his hand through his short blond waves.
Katniss's stomach twists anxiously as she thinks back to that morning years ago.
"It's fine, Peeta," she says slowly, drawing quick breaths between the words. "Consider this payback for the paper."
His eyes narrow to blue slits, a perplexed look settling into them.
"What paper?" he asks suspiciously. Katniss tugs at the bottom of her apron and chews her lower lip.
"The paper. From Mrs. Coin's biology class junior year? Half our final grade?"
Recognition dawns on his face and he laughs gently.
"I can't believe you remember that."
"I remember," she replies softly. "I never thanked you for what you did for me that day. I would have failed that class and I would have had to go to summer school instead of lifeguarding at the pool." She pauses, unsure how much she wants Peeta Mellark to know about her past. "We, ah, really needed the money I made that summer. So thank you."
His eyes are locked on hers, and she shifts on the balls of her feet, shuffling uneasily before him.
"You got an A on that paper, by the way," she adds. "96. It was really, really well-written." She drops her gaze. "I never could have handed in anything that good."
"I'm sure you would have done just fine," he chides. "And it wasn't your fault your computer died."
"You knew that?" she asks, surprised. He nods.
"I heard you telling Madge Undersee. And you needed it more than I did."
She's more than embarrassed that in all the years she has agonized over owing Peeta Mellark, she never once questioned what consequences befell him for not submitting a paper that day. She can still see him so clearly, handing the paper to Ms. Coin, telling her he had spilled his energy drink on Katniss's cover sheet but the paper itself was fine. His paper.
"You didn't get in too much trouble?" she asks quietly. He smiles ruefully.
"Got docked a full letter grade for it being late and the paper was pretty shitty being I wrote it in three hours, but it didn't affect my final grade too much." He hesitates, as if he wants to say more, but he stops himself. An awkward silence prevails.
"So, uh," she begins, reaching for the check. He covers her hand with his, and she glances at him, alarmed at the tiny jolt that passes between them at the contact. She can feel the metal of his wedding band where it rests against her own bare fingers. She yanks back her hand, but his fingers clutch the paper too tightly.
"I can't let you pay my bill," he says, holding in place with those hypnotic blue pools. "You don't owe me anything."
"I do," she insists.
"Everdeen, you've got other tables!" Cray snaps from his perch. She shoots him a nasty glare.
"I'm settling with a customer, Cray," she yells back.
"Listen," Peeta says, withdrawing his hand and deftly yanking the bill from her grasp. "My restaurant isn't that far from here. I can be back here with an AmEx card in about an hour. It'd be faster if I didn't have to walk. Finnick took my car to go get his wife."
"You have a restaurant?" she asks, unable to keep the awe from her voice.
"I do," he smiles. "Finnick and I, we opened it together about a year ago."
"That's wonderful," she replies, her humiliation complete that this man owns (co-owns, okay, but same difference) a restaurant, and she works in a diner. A diner. Fuck.
"Thanks. So what do you say? I'm good for it, I swear."
"You have to let me do this, Peeta. Please let me pay for your breakfast. Wipe the slate clean."
He shakes his head and drums his fingers against the table. His iPhone pings, muffled by the depths of his trousers, but he makes no move to retrieve it. She can see him mulling it over.
"Alright," he sighs. "If it will make you happy, I'll allow it." He frowns. "But I can't walk out of here without leaving you a tip."
"Please." She waves her hand dismissively. "I think I'll live without a couple of dollars."
"I'm in the business, Katniss. I can't not leave a tip. You're not winning this one." He rummages in his pocket and slaps a dollar bill and a lottery ticket on the table. Katniss raises an eyebrow at him and an amused smile tugs at her mouth.
"Shit," he frowns, a reddish stain blooming on his neck and cheeks. "I always have at least a few bucks in my pocket."
Probably to stuff in homeless guys' coffee cans or those tins near the register at the convenience stores with the photos of sickly dogs and cats, Katniss thinks to herself. Peeta Mellark is just that kind of man.
"Peeta, it's really alright. I don't need a tip."
"I'll make you a deal," he continues, his eyes wandering to the ticket. "Do you play the lottery?"
"Uh, no," she admits. Katniss does not say it aloud, but she has always thought the lottery was for fools. It's throwing money away, really.
"Katniss!" Cray barks. She bites her lip.
"Go on, Peeta. It was nice seeing you again."
"I'm not going anywhere. You're not getting off that easily. I'll wait." His tone is emphatic as he settles back against the booth and begins swiping at the iPad again. Katniss stares at him, but he does not look up. She sighs and makes quick work of dealing with the booth adjacent to Peeta's before dropping a check to the couple now seated at Table Four.
"Stop flirting with the customers and do your fucking job," Cray hisses at her as she passes the host stand. She fights back the urge to flip off the irritable older man and gives him a withering glare instead.
She returns to Peeta and waits expectantly for him to glance up. His index finger moves deftly across the screen of his phone as he texts furiously. He appears agitated. She coughs softly to snare his attention. He glances up and pastes a quick smile on his face, shoving the iPhone back in the breast pocket of his shirt.
"You came back."
She rolls her eyes. "What, did you think I was going to leave you here sitting by yourself and ignore you for the rest of the day until you gave up and went away?" He shrugs lightly, and Katniss thinks he is going to reply, but he doesn't.
"Peeta," she begins, "you don't owe me anything. Please, consider this a debt paid and we call it even."
"Are you feeling lucky, Katniss?" he asks, his tone changing abruptly. It almost sound like…an invitation. She ignores the flurry of nerves swirling in her stomach and shakes her head. Married, Katniss. Married.
"I'm about the least lucky person you'll meet."
"Well, your luck's gotta change sometime, right?" He gestures at the lottery ticket. "I'm not usually a betting man either. My, uh…" He scratches at his temple and clears his throat quietly. "My wife makes me buy a ticket every Tuesday and Friday."
Katniss wrinkles her nose, unsure of where this conversation is going. She does know she does not really want to hear about Peeta's wife, whoever she may be. She tries to recall the girls who Peeta dated in high school and figures he's probably married to some willowy blonde with huge breasts and mile-long legs.
The exact opposite of a woman like her.
"I've never bought a lottery ticket a day in my life," she says, glancing at the little lavender sheet of paper on the table.
"Really?" He seems surprised. "Not even that scratch-off kind?" She shakes her head. She isn't about to tell him she cannot waste her hard-earned money on such a frivolous expense. It's not worth it.
"Well then, here's my offer for you, Katniss. Your tip is half this ticket. Whatever it may win tonight."
She can't contain the bitter laugh that erupts from her. He can't be serious.
"You're kidding, right? Look, I told you that you didn't need to leave me a tip. Half of nothing is still nothing, Peeta." She finds her irritation swelling and her pulse quickens. "Are you done having fun at my expense? Because I have work to do." She turns to storm away from the booth, but Peeta lurches to his feet and grabs her elbow.
"Whoa, hold on." He grips her arm tightly, and her eyes flash fire as she struggles to free herself from his grasp.
"Let go of me," she orders through gritted teeth.
"I'll let go when we can finish this conversation civilly without you jumping down my throat." His eyes challenge hers, and as she glares at him, she finds herself studying the exact color of his wide orbs. They are so ridiculously blue at this close distance that she can't fathom that they're not contact lenses. But having known Peeta since kindergarten, she knows they're the real deal.
She wrenches her arm loose and crosses both arms defiantly across her chest.
"You have thirty seconds. Talk."
"Okay," he says. "See, tonight's jackpot is some insane amount. Like hundreds of millions of dollars. So the odds are certainly not in our favor. But even if three or four of the numbers match, that's a decent amount of money."
"You've thought about this a little too much," she scowls, tossing her braid back over her shoulder.
"If the ticket comes up completely empty, I'll come back here tomorrow morning and leave you a respectable tip on this bill. Or better yet, you can come to my restaurant one night and have dinner on me." He glances down at her and as he blinks several times, the sun catches those long, golden eyelashes. "What do you think?"
"I think I don't need your charity," she retorts, lowering one hand to her hip. It's a ludicrous proposition, but Katniss is growing weary of fighting him.
"It's not charity. You earned a tip."
She throws her hands up in surrender. "Fine. What the hell? My luck can't possibly get any shittier. You're on." She juts her right hand forward, and a sly smile creeps onto his lips as he extends his own right hand to shake hers slowly.
Again, she ignores the tingle that travels up her arm from his touch. She releases his hand quickly and purposely walks away, leaving him standing beside the now-empty booth.
When she returns to clear the space a few minutes later, he is gone.
But on the table is a small, rectangular card. She picks it up and examines the elegant, embossed writing:
Co-owner and Executive Chef
Underneath the restaurant's address and phone and fax numbers, there is a row of numbers in neat handwriting.
The lotto numbers.
Katniss sighs and tucks the business card into the pocket of her apron. She vows to leave it there.
And she does. When her shift ends three hours later and she shoves her things into her backpack to head home, she pushes all thoughts of the lottery ticket from her mind.
She is mildly irritated to discover she cannot so easily do the same with Peeta Mellark.
Feedback is much appreciated! Thank you for reading!