Author's Note—Thanks for your patience with the slow updates to this story. I almost held this chapter a little longer until I made more progress on Chapter 22, but I just had to post today in honor of Izzy Samson's bday, since she always asks me about this particular story. I hope this brightens her day a bit. This is also for Pookieh, whose bday is Saturday. I love you both, and I am thankful for our friendships.

Thank you to iLoVeRynMar for being my rock (and for pre-reading and advising). All mistakes are mine.

Chapter 21-Sunday, May 17th


"Oh God Peeta…I can't…I can't anymore…"

"You can," he urges. "Hold on, sweetheart, I'm almost there."

She squeezes her eyes shut and tries not to focus on the feel of him thrusting into her, the dizzying sensations shooting through her each time his cock glances against her swollen clit. He's brought her to orgasm twice already in the last hour, and this third climax that he has her barreling towards might undo her. He wasn't kidding when he threatened to have his fill of her.

His open mouth skates over hers—hot, needy, but too desperate to claim her lips properly. She seizes the chance to trap his bottom lip between hers. He gives a little growl and hitches her leg higher, plunging so deep inside her that she swears she's going to black out from the pleasure that borders on pain. The blood thunders in her ears and Peeta cries her name as he spills into her. She's aware of his warmth filling her and his body shuddering through his release. Peeta flattens his sweaty body to hers and rolls her onto her side. She feels his fingers tangling in her damp hair, gathering it aside so he can trail kisses along the top of her spine.

"I'm not going to make it three days without you," he mumbles.

"You'll live," she replies, enjoying the tingles branching out along her scalp from the way his fingers massage it. "You had your shot to come with me." She keeps her tone light so he knows she's just teasing him, but as he looms over her, she can see his eyes bear some remorse.

"If I could have moved that meeting on Tuesday I would have. But it's too important. Not just for Thirteen-12, for us."

"You could stop being so cryptic and tell me what this mysterious meeting is all about," she says, pursing her lips at him.

"I will. When the papers are signed and it's a certainty.

"But I am glad that your sister is tagging along with you," he adds. "At least you won't be all alone in a strange city."

"Yeah, it will be nice to spend some time with her," Katniss agrees, smiling. Though Prim is taking classes this summer and working at a clinic to get hours towards her impending residency, she managed to clear two days off her schedule to join Katniss in Nashville. As independent as she's always been, Katniss has to admit Peeta is right—it will be nice to have her sister there, to share meals and to try to sneak in a small bit of sightseeing during the short trip to Tennessee.

He tips her mouth towards his and descends on her for a deep, drugging kiss. His tongue slips past her teeth and chases hers, until she plants one palm on his chest and gives him a little shove.

"We need to take a break," she pants, and drapes her arm across her forehead and closes her eyes to bask in that delicious, weightless calm that always settles in her bones after sex with Peeta.

"A break is fine. But rest up, sweetheart, because I'm not done with you yet." He kisses her brow and rolls off the bed. "I'm gonna go grab a snack. Someone has sapped me off all my energy."

"Liar," she jokes, tossing his pillow at him. "You never get tired."

"Not of you, no," he shoots back, deflecting the pillow easily, a boyish grin on his face. She props herself up on her elbow to watch him saunter away, her eyes straying past his waist to admire the firm globes of his bare ass. She flops back against the sheets to wait for him to return.

A sharp buzzing sound comes from the nightstand, followed by a rapid succession of identical buzzes. She cranes her neck and sees Peeta's silenced phone lighting up.

She would be lying if she wasn't the tiniest bit curious to know who's sending him messages this late at night. It has to be one of his brothers or Finnick. Or maybe it's his dad—Peeta had spent nearly an hour on the phone with his father earlier in the evening. She had valiantly tried not to actively eavesdrop as Peeta paced and spoke with his father about the incident at brunch, but it was hard for her not to overhear things, given the confines of the hotel suite.

"Your phone's been going off," she says when Peeta returns a moment later, his hand in a bag of Doritos he must have snagged out of the minibar. He sighs and passes her the bag as he grabs his phone. She pops a chip into her mouth and watches him. His eyes narrow and his nostrils flare a little, but then his expression changes abruptly.

She swallows her mouthful. "What is it? Everything okay?"

He shakes his hand, still staring at the screen. For fraction of a second there's an awed look in his eyes. Then he appears distraught, avoiding her gaze, until finally he glances over at her. Her stomach dips uneasily.

"It's, ah, it's a sonogram photo. A couple of them." He exhales, lifting his eyes to the ceiling.

"Oh." That dip in her stomach becomes a full-fledged plummet.

She had meant what she said to Peeta several days ago—that no matter what happens, she will love his child if it turns out Glimmer really is pregnant. Katniss just hadn't realized how badly she wanted this baby not to exist. Photos are one-step closer to concrete proof.

"Can I see?" she asks quietly.

Peeta lowers his eyes to hers, unblinking. "If you want," he says, handing her his phone.

She's not really sure that she does, but she takes the phone from him anyway. She studies the screen carefully, swiping through the photos. There are five in all, and they are definitely sonograms. At first she has no idea what she's looking at, or what she's looking for. Most of the image is an amorphous blob. It actually looks a little like those Magic Eye illusion books Prim used to take out of the library every other week when they were kids. But when Katniss concentrates on the third image, she can make out the tiny profile of a nose and mouth. She closes the text thread and shoves the phone back at Peeta.

"It's definitely a baby," she whispers.

"It is," he replies, sinking down onto the mattress beside her. Neither of them says anything for several minutes. She holds her breath as she waits for him to stop staring at the phone.

He reaches for her hand. "But it might not be my baby. She could have pulled these images from anywhere. There's no identifying information anywhere on the screen. She's trying anything at this point. Until she agrees to take a test in front of me, or I go with her to a doctor and see a baby on the screen with my own two eyes…I won't believe her. I can't.

"I'm so tired, Katniss. So tired of all this. I want the truth. I deserve the truth. We deserve the truth." Her heart twists a little at the emotional exhaustion that she hears in his voice. She rubs his back tenderly and kisses his shoulder.

"I know," she whispers, "but this could go on for a really long time." For the rest of their lives, she thinks. If there really is a baby, he'll be tied to Glimmer forever.

"Let's not to let her manipulation ruin our evening, okay?" He leans forward and kisses her. His lips barely move against hers, a slow caress that carries an apology. But something flares in her, hot and fierce and primal. Fuck Glimmer. He's hers now. Now—and always.

She tosses his phone onto the suite's plush carpet and pushes him backwards onto the mattress. His eyes round as she straddles his waist and bends down to attack his lips. She can taste the Doritos' artificial nacho flavor as she sucks on his tongue. His cock surges to life beneath her.

"Fuck, baby," he whispers as she drops her mouth to his neck, low enough that his shirt collar will hide the bruise that she knows will mar his skin by morning. She just can't resist marking him as hers.

Her lips journey lower, her tongue tracing his collarbone, licking a path to his flat nipple. He groans as she nicks it with her teeth. His hands grope for her breasts, his thumbs rubbing her nipples as she continues down his torso. Heat slides down her belly and ignites in her core. She nips at the taut skin of his stomach, swirling her tongue around his navel, and skates her mouth along the trail of fine blond hair leading to his cock.

"Fucking hell, Katniss," he grits out, his stomach tensing when she cups his balls and drags her tongue up his stiff length. "I thought you needed a break."

"I'm taking a break. This is about you," she murmurs, arching her back and taking him in her hand. She lets the tip of her tongue peek out as she rubs his cock against her breasts, trapping it between them. She locks her eyes on his and hopes she looks as sexy as she feels right now. The way Peeta watches her has more warmth spreading through her veins and arousal pooling between her legs.

She wets her lips and scoots back along his thighs. Still holding his gaze, she grips the base of his cock and slides her lips down him inch by inch, taking him as deep as she can. Peeta sucks in a harsh breath and his eyelids start to droop. Her mouth works up and down his length several times before she releases him and pumps him a few strokes with her hand. She keeps a firm grasp on his cock as she crawls back over him so that one breast is right in front of Peeta's mouth. He moans as he closes his lips around her nipple. She lets his tongue circle the peak, and his teeth tug gently.

But then she bows her back, moving just out of his reach. She flashes him a wicked smile and swivels her upper body around in slow revolutions, each movement getting him tantalizingly close to her breast before she retreats and prevents him from latching on. He growls and lunges up unexpectedly, capturing the aching bud between his teeth.

"You're…driving me…fucking crazy," he says as she skims her nipples over his chest and down his abs.

"Good, that's the idea," she purrs, settling her mouth over his groin. She licks the pulsing vein running the length of his cock and then sucks him back into her mouth, hollowing her cheeks as she intensifies her suckling. She definitely loves seeing him at her mercy, and it's having just an intense effect on her. Her entire body pulses with a need to be filled by him again.

Suddenly Peeta's strong hands curl around her upper arms and he lifts her off his cock. She blinks, staring at him through blurred vision.

"I don't want to come in your mouth. I want to be inside you."

She nods mutely, her stomach tightening. She allows him to shift slightly, and rises up on her knees, her hair falling forward like a curtain. Her entire body spasms when she feels the head of his cock brush her clit. He does it again, grinning lazily at her, and she bites back a moan as he begins to push up into her.

"Hold on." She twists around and faces away from him, bearing down as she lowers herself onto his cock. A low, guttural moan from Peeta voices his approval at her shift in position. His hands roam her back, his thumbs kneading the soft flesh beneath her shoulder blades. His fingers reach her waist, curling around her hips to draw her back as he drives into her. She cranes her neck and glances down at him. His face contorts with bliss and his eyes are wild and hazy when he looks up at her.

"Touch yourself for me," he begs.

She's powerless to refuse him. He could ask her anything right now and she'd do it for him. She lifts one hand off his thigh and slips it between her legs. Her touches are light on her clit; the incredible tension building in her core is close to breaking. He keeps a tight grip on her hip with one hand, and wraps his other hand around to join hers, pressing their fingers more firmly against her clit. She gasps as he increases the pace of his thrusts, pounding into her. She throws her head back and rides him faster.

"One day," she gasps out, twisting around again to look down at him, "you're gonna come inside me and we are going to make a baby—our baby. I promise you, Peeta."

Her words incite him, just as she knew they would. He yanks their hands away from her clit, threading their slippery fingers together as he jerks his hips into her and she bears down on him. She feels his warm release as he bucks and thrashes beneath her. She finally succumbs to her own orgasm, her hips moving of their own accord. Peeta sits up and holds her tightly against him, burying his lips in the crook of her neck, murmuring his love for her into her sweaty skin.

"Did you really mean that?" he says, when he lifts his head a moment later. "What you said…about having a baby with me?"

"You've taught me a little about promises. I wouldn't make you a promise I couldn't keep," she replies, laying her head back on his shoulder to gaze up at him.

"I never really wanted to be a mother, not until I met you. You make me want to do things that I didn't think I could do. I'm not ready yet, but someday, yes, I want a family with you," she confesses. He twists her around in his lap and his mouth dips to capture hers in a slow, intimate kiss.

"I love you," he whispers.

"I love you," she echoes.

Peeta falls asleep quickly once they've cleaned up, a contended smile playing on his lips. She lies awake much longer, her hand splayed over his breastbone, feeling the thump of his heart returning to normal, listening to the breaths parting his lips in soft puffs.

She did mean everything she said to him. Peeta has changed her life far more than she could have imagined. She's lucky; she knows she is. Even if it all disappeared tomorrow—the money, the offer in Nashville, the house that Peeta bid on—as long as she has Peeta, she feels confident that they can weather the shit storm that Glimmer has stirred up and whatever the rest of the world tries to throw at them.

"I could have gotten a car service, you know," she scolds when Peeta yawns for the third time in succession. He shakes his head at her and cranes his neck as he signals and pulls off the highway.

"Then I couldn't say goodbye to you," he reasons, his eyes scanning the signs to find the terminal for United Airlines' departures.

"You could have said goodbye at the hotel," she volleys back.

He signals again and veers to the right, pulling up to the curb at the doors of the terminal. He puts the car into park. "Maybe I have a fantasy that you don't know about." He purses his lips at her and she can only grin.

"You're incorrigible." She leans across the console and kisses him, slow and sweet at first, but Peeta quickly swathes his tongue along her lower lip and tries to deepen the embrace. She allows his tongue to caress hers for a minute, his hands tangling into her hair, but then she pushes him away.

"The cops are always circling. We can't sit here forever."

He sighs. "Okay. Maybe if you were just a little less irresistible…"

She pats his cheek, rubbing her palm against the stubble there. "Nice try, Mellark."

He gives her a mock pout, and she has to kiss him one more time. When he moves for the door handle, she puts a hand on his forearm.

"What are you doing?"

"Getting your bag from the trunk," he replies matter-of-factly, opening the door before she can protest. She climbs out of the car, stepping onto the sidewalk, and she saunters towards the trunk. He holds her bag out to her.

"I am totally capable of getting my own luggage." She plants her hands on her hips and raises her brows at him.

"Yeah, but I like doing things for you, so get used to it." He laughs and jerks his chin towards her bag. "I just can't believe you can travel so light."

"I'm only going for a couple of days. How much do I need?"

He looks sheepish as he scratches his jaw. "I guess I'm still getting used to how low-maintenance you are."

She knows he's alluding to Glimmer without mentioning his ex specifically. Katniss clutches her bag as his arms wind around her and he draws her flush against his body for another long drawn-out kiss.

"Oh my gosh, get a room!" Katniss springs back and turns to see Prim standing next to an idling taxi. Her sister approaches them, rolling a small suitcase. She acknowledges Katniss with a smug grin before turning to Peeta. "So nice to see you again," Prim says.

"Prim." Peeta smiles, keeping his arms wound around Katniss. "Thanks for keeping my girl company."

"I've always wanted to see Nashville," Prim enthuses. "And Rory has a few days off, so I'm gonna stay a little longer and he's going to come join me on Wednesday when Katniss heads home."

"This your car buddy?" a gruff voice interrupts them. A cop stands beside Peeta's car, a perturbed expression on his face.

"I'm going to miss you," Peeta murmurs to Katniss. He kisses her forehead and brushes her hair off her shoulder. "I want to hear all about your meeting, okay."

"That goes for yours too," she replies.

"C'mon, pal. Move the car," the cop orders.

Peeta gives Katniss a wry smile and slants his mouth over hers one last time. "Have a good flight. Let me know you landed safely," he whispers, rubbing his thumb along the corner of her mouth. "And be prepared for some very private text messages later tonight." She presses her lips together and smiles back at him, tamping down the whorl of lust that stirs in her belly.

"You guys are just too cute for words," Prim gushes after Peeta has pulled away and disappeared into the increasingly congested rush hour traffic. "You're like teenagers!" she adds, grinning, as they make their way towards the automatic doors.

"We're not teenagers," Katniss cringes, narrowing her eyes. Is that really how she and Peeta come across to others?

"No, it's good, Katniss," Prim rushes to reassure her as they get into line at the security checkpoint. "You didn't get to act like this when you were a teenager. You were so busy taking care of me."

"Don't make me out to be a martyr, Prim. I just did what needed to be done to keep things going after Mom and Dad. You needed me." She tosses her bag onto the conveyor belt and raises her arms to pass through the scanner, allowing the agent to gently pat her down. Then she waits for her sister to finish with security before they retrieve their bags and walk towards the gate.

"It wasn't just me, either," Prim continues. "It was Gale too."

"What about him?" she wrinkles her nose at Prim.

"I may have been young when you guys started dating, but I wasn't blind. You never looked at Gale the way you look at Peeta. You were never as into Gale as he was you. You were best friends, and you thought because Gale wanted you that dating was the next logical step. You didn't want to disappoint him. You can deny it, but I'm right.

"You always put others first, Katniss. Christ, you still pick up shifts at Abernathy's when Haymitch needs you."

"Haymitch was there for us, Prim. I'll never spurn him when he needs me."

"If it's what you want to do, that's fine. But please, Katniss, stop living for others. Do what makes you happy, because if anyone deserves to be happy, it's you."

Though it's early and she didn't get much sleep last night thanks to Peeta's insatiable appetite, Katniss is unable to nod off once the plane is in the air. Prim is still in a chatty mood and talks for the duration of the flight. It's nice though, because they haven't really had much time to catch up recently. Katniss actually feels a little guilty that there is so much for them to talk about. Her life has been a whirlwind since the lottery incident, and Prim's busy with med school and her own social engagements—and Rory Hawthorne.

It's clear from her sister's effusive gushing about Gale's brother that Prim is completely smitten with Rory. Unlike when Katniss relented and allowed Gale to persuade her to push their friendship into a relationship, Prim seems to have willingly leaped over the boundary line. Katniss has to admit that Rory is a good fit for her sister, and when she teases Prim about wedding bells, a deep pink flush blooms on Prim's pale cheeks and she demurs, mumbling about grad school and med school and being young. Katniss gives it a year before they're engaged, but she keeps the comment to herself.

Once the flight lands and they've checked into the hotel, she freshens up a bit, downs a shot of espresso at the Starbucks kiosk to perk herself up, and hails a cab bound for Star 451 Studios.

After she arrives for her one o'clock appointment, she sits in the waiting room for nearly an hour. She texts Peeta again, having already sent him a message that she landed safely and was in Nashville. As with that first text, this one goes unanswered. Mildly disappointed, she shoves her phone back into her purse after silencing it, and she thumbs through an outdated copy of Rolling Stone that she finds on the glass-and-chrome coffee table.

Finally, the receptionist calls her name and leads her down a narrow corridor. As she's ushered inside a stylishly modern office, a middle-aged man stands and approaches her.

"Ms. Everdeen? Sydney Homes. Pleased to meet you. Can we get you anything to drink? Sparkling water? Coffee? Tea?"

"I'm good, thank you," she replies. The caffeine kick from her espresso still dances through her veins. Katniss smiles at the woman still seated on the leather couch. The woman extends her hand but does not rise from where she sits.

"Inez Jackson. Thank you for coming to Nashville, Ms. Everdeen."

"Of course." Katniss takes the chair offered to her by Homes and places her satchel on the floor at her feet.

"As I explained to you on the phone, Ms. Everdeen," he begins, settling on the couch beside Jackson, "we are very interested in your work. Your lyrics are beautiful yet versatile. We can see them as a good fit for many of our artists. We thought it was best that you come here in person to understand how we operate and to see our studios in person."

She nods politely and listens as the producers explain the studio's philosophy regarding staff songwriters and what her contract with Star 451 would entail. It's overwhelming, and she starts to worry that she should have brought Peeta along, because the businessman in him would certainly understand the legalese of what Homes and Jackson are saying far better she than she does.

After nearly twenty minutes, they give her a thorough tour of the studios, pausing briefly to watch a recording session in progress. Katniss enjoys that, though the young girl singing is no one recognizable to her—not that she listens to much country music.

"And these are our staff offices," Jackson sweeps her arm outward, indicating the corridor behind them. "There are three vacant at the moment, so you'd have your pick."

"The ones on the left side of the hall have better views," Homes winks at her. She shakes her head once both of their comments sink in.

"Wait," Katniss says. "I would work here? Like…physically work here?" The producers exchange a glance.

"Yes. We prefer to have our staff writers here on the premises. Most country music production studios do," Homes replies.

"Oh." She presses her lips together and tries to keep her expression neutral.

Jackson arches a brow. "Is that a problem for you?"

"Yes, it is," she replies automatically. "I'm not looking to relocate. Songwriting appealed to me because I thought it's largely freelance work. I write the lyrics, send them off, someone matches them to the right artist."

"Some houses work that way, Ms. Everdeen, but it's not generally our approach at Star 451," Jackson says, her tone decidedly more clipped than it was earlier.

"Perhaps we can negotiate," Homes rushes to add, cutting his eyes towards his partner.

"Relocating is non-negotiable. My—" she pauses, searching for the right word. As sophomoric as it sounds, there's really only one appropriate term for Peeta, under the circumstances. "My boyfriend," she begins again, "owns a very successful restaurant and it's simply not an option for him to pick up and move."

Jackson's supercilious smirk and pinched brows practically scream her disapproval of Katniss bringing up her significant other.

"Nashville always has room for another good restaurant," Homes says good-naturedly. "Maybe he'd consider expansion?"

"Ms. Everdeen, I'll be frank," Jackson says. "An unproven songwriter like you does not really have the grounds to negotiate. I can assure you that most country studios have the same policy that we do here at Star 451. They much prefer to have you on-site, as a salaried employee, prepared to work with the artists if necessary."

"Then I guess I'm sorry I wasted your time." Katniss hitches her bag higher on her shoulder and pushes a lock of hair behind her ear. She extends her hand. Jackson shakes it immediately, but Homes hesitates.

"There's nothing we can say to change your mind?" he asks as he clasps Katniss's hand.

She smiles wryly. "Not unless this can be a long-distance relationship. Because there's no way my other relationship will become one."

Prim insists on doing the touristy thing and drags Katniss to a restaurant that's featured on some television show she watches. Thanks to the live music, it's crowded and also very loud. But the band is good, and the food is even better.

When Prim excuses herself to use the restroom, Katniss immediately pulls out her phone and fires a text to Peeta.

Katniss: haven't heard from you all day. Everything ok?

Unlike earlier, his reply comes automatically.

Peeta: So sorry. Been a crazy day. Don't know if the lottery effect is finally hitting us, but we were slammed all day. And then Caesar's producer showed up out of nowhere. I only just sat down in my office and was about to call you. You must have a sixth sense. ;)

Katniss: only when it comes to you. heading back to hotel now. Can I call in ten?

Peeta: make it twenty. Im finishing one thing and then leaving Finn in charge. Ill be back in the suite and then im all yours. Want to hear all about your meeting. Miss you. love you.

Katniss: it's a date. ;) love you.

She pays their bill and then ignores Prim's protests when her sister gets back to the table and discovers what Katniss has done.

"So where to now?" Prim asks as they step outside into the muggy Nashville night.

"Oh, ah…I thought we'd go back to the hotel. It's been a long day, what with the early flight and all."

Prim's brows dip and she purses her lips. "Katniss! It's like, nine o'clock! There's supposed to be amazing nightlife in this city. C'mon! Live a little!"

"But it feels like after 10," she reasons, working up a yawn for emphasis. Prim rolls her eyes.

"One drink? Please?" She bats her eyelashes and drags out the last syllable until she has to take a breath.

Katniss sighs. "One drink."

Nineteen minutes later she's nursing a cocktail of Prim's choosing that's a little too pink and a lot too heavy on the vodka.

Katniss can't hear her phone ring over the seductive jazz music piping through the club, but she feels it vibrate from inside her purse. She reaches into her lap and fishes out the phone, grinning automatically upon seeing Peeta's name on the screen.

"Hey you," she calls, pressing her hand over her other ear to attempt to muffle the noise. Prim peers at her over the rim of her martini glass, a knowing smirk lifting her brows and lips.

"I couldn't wait one more minute to hear from you," he says.

"Prim dragged me along for what she swears is one drink," she replies, pinning her sister with a playful glare. Prim sticks her tongue out before jerking her head towards the door, indicating the outdoor patio. Katniss shoots her a grateful look. "Hold on one sec. I'm going to go outside so I can hear you better."

"I can call you back, if you—"

"No," she cuts him off. "No, I want to talk to you." She pushes the door open, the balmy air assaulting her as she weaves through the tightly packed tables on the teeming patio. Frowning at the lack of privacy, she spies a gate in the wrought-iron fence that surrounds the patio. She makes a beeline for it and steps around the side of the building, walkin down a very narrow alley. She leans against the brick wall and exhales.

"Okay, finally alone," she says. His throaty laugh has her stomach clenching. How is it possible she misses him so much, when she only left him this morning? Prim's right—she is acting like a lovesick teenager.

"So tell me, am I going to be escorting you to the Grammys in the future?"

A smile trips across her lips. "You have such faith in me," she muses, and then tells him about the meeting.

"Oh, and before I left, the guy insisted that I take a copy of the contract they were proposing. I guess maybe he hopes I change my mind, but I only agreed to take it with me to show it to Plutarch and get a better idea of what options I might have if I want to sell my songs myself," she finishes.

"They really wanted you to move there?" he asks.

She sighs. "I think they truly thought I'd jump at the chance."

Peeta is quiet for several beats. "If this is something you want, Katniss, we can definitely try and figure out how—"

"I told them relocating to Nashville was a deal breaker. I'd love to have my songs recorded, Peeta, but not if it means sacrificing the life you and I are building in Panem."

"I fucking love you, you know that right?"

"I have an idea, yes," she grins, brushing the light sheen of perspiration off her forehead. The humidity is still thick, even though the sun set an hour ago.

"Would it make you feel better if I told you that the contract doesn't sound like it would have been in your favor? I'm sure when you show Plutarch he can explain it better than I can, but it sounds to me like you wouldn't retain much control over the copyrights to your songs."

"Maybe," she agrees, "but it doesn't change the fact that I'm perfectly happy to keep working at Thirteen-12 with you. Now tell me about your day. It was busy?"

He groans. "God it never stopped. We were on a wait from the lunch rush all through dinner. I couldn't even send anyone home mid-day. Good for business, exhausting for me. And then the visit from Portia caught me off-guard. She agreed to come back and film us on Friday. No Caesar though. They'll splice his questions in during editing, make it look like he interviewed us on location."

"The magic of Hollywood, huh?"

"I just want all that to blow over. Someone else's fifteen minutes needs to start ticking."

"I'm sorry. I wish I could be there to rub those tired feet of yours. Or maybe something else," she purrs, licking her dry lips.

Another low groan rumbles in his throat. "Fuck, I miss you."

"I miss you too," she whispers. "That hotel bed is going to feel awfully lonely tonight. And Prim snores."

"What are you wearing?" he asks.

"What!" she gasps, as his abrupt change in subject completely catches her by surprise.

"You heard me. What are you wearing?" That gravelly, sexy voice she loves so much sends a torrent of heat rushing through her.

"Peeta!" she hisses. "I'm talking to you in an alley. Are we really going to—?"

"Are you safe where you are?" he asks.

She peers down into the alley, where what little light from the streetlamps is swallowed by the duskiness. "I think so. The club is on one side and the building on the other side is a café that's already closed." Though the restaurants and clubs are busy, the streets are not. She can hear the conversation from the club's outdoor patio and threads of noise from the traffic passing by.

"Good. I wouldn't risk your safety for anything," he says thickly. "Now, tell me what you're wearing."

"A sundress."

Peeta murmurs his approval. "I bet you look so damn sexy. What's under that sundress?"

She closes her eyes and leans back against the bricks again. After the two Jack and Cokes at dinner and the strong martini here, Peeta's masterful powers of persuasion are the only nudge she needs to lose the rest of her inhibitions and go along with him.

"Well," she drawls, drawing out the syllable, trying to sound alluring, "if you were around, I definitely wouldn't have put anything on underneath." She hears his breath hitch, and rustling on the other end of the line.

"If I were around, my mouth would be between your legs and I'd be tongue-fucking you right up against that alley wall."

"Shit, Peeta," she whispers, immediate arousal tugging at her nipples and cascading down her belly to her core. Her skin prickles and she shudders.

"Did that get you wet, baby?" She squirms and shifts her legs, rubbing them against each other, acutely feeling the dampness accumulating at the juncture of her thighs.

"Y-yes." Her reply catches on a shaky breath.

"Tell me how wet," he commands. "Slip your hand inside your panties and touch yourself."

A whimper slips past her lips, and she traps it with her teeth as she gives a furtive glance towards the street. Is she really going to let him dirty-talk her into getting herself off, right where anyone could see or hear her? With Prim waiting for her inside the club?

"Katniss." His dark, authoritative tone reaches between her legs before her hand can. "I've already got my cock in my hand. Work with me here, sweetheart." Obediently, she pushes up her dress and shoves her panties to the side. When her fingers glide through the slippery arousal and light across her clit, a contended sigh parts her lips.

"I love that sound," he says, "I love every noise you make."

"We have to be quick, Peeta." She tenses through a curl of bliss that her fingers elicit. "Prim is going to wonder what happened to me."

"She's a big girl. You don't think she'll do the same thing when she—"

"Peeta! Gross, that's the last thing I want to think about when you and I are about have phone sex."

She can hear the wicked smirk in his voice when he says, "No worries about being fast, baby. You know how hard I am from imagining what else I could do to you if I were there with you?"

She clutches her phone tighter, knowing exactly how the weight of him in her hand feels—hot, smooth, and so, so hard. Another jolt of excitement spirals lower and lower in her abdomen as she braces herself for his lust-fueled narrative.

"Tell me," she pleads, dipping her finger deep inside herself, drawing it out slowly.

"I'd turn you around and make you put those pretty hands of yours on the wall. And then I'd lift up that sundress, and because you promised me that you wouldn't be wearing anything under it, I'd put my hands and mouth all over that cute little ass of yours."

"What if…" she catches her breath, "what if I want my hands free to touch you?"

"You don't need your hands if I fuck you from behind," he growls. "And that is exactly what I'd do. I'd have to go slow, cause I wouldn't want you getting all scraped up by the bricks. The building is brick, isn't it?" She whimpers a confirmation, and moves her finger faster, the sweet ache of her impending orgasm building with each pass of the digit.

"So yeah…I'd go nice and slow, in and out, in and out."

She can hear the thread of control that his voice clings to, and over the blood pulsing in her ears she listens for the delicious noises that he makes when he's close to climaxing.

"You'd be so wet that you'd take every inch of me. So wet and warm and tight. I'd grab a hold of your hips, and every time I'd thrust in you'd push back." She swallows a moan and fights the urge to scream his name into the oppressive night air as her orgasm overtakes her even more quickly than she expected.

"Fuck, Katniss, already?"

Peeta's brought her out of her shell, as far being comfortable with her sexuality, but saying things out loud still gives her temporary pause. She summons what strength she has left amidst the waves of pleasure rolling through her to do her part to send him over the edge.

"Doesn't take much," she grits out. "Thinking about that big, perfect cock of yours—"

He curses and his breathing quickens to shallow pants. "Keep…talking…baby."

She tries to get her lust-addled mind to conjure up something sexy. "Nothing feels as good as you do inside of me. Your cock fills me perfectly."

A low, guttural groan jumps through the phone. She knows exactly what he looks like right now—his cock spilling onto his toned stomach, his jaw set, his eyes screwed shut. It's a beautiful sight, and she loves being the one who makes him look that way.

"Okay, now that you've worn me out thoroughly, I'm gonna shower and get some sleep," he says.

"I wish I could join you," she replies, digging through her purse for a packet of Kleenex.

He laughs. "I wouldn't be sleeping if you were here."

"True. And you do need to get some rest." She cleans herself up and adjusts her clothing as they wrap up their conversation. Though she's dying to know if he's spoken to Glimmer about the sonogram photos, she decides that can wait for another day. Why ruin the rest of her night? She makes him promise to call her after his mysterious meeting tomorrow, and they say their "I love you's" before ending the call.

A fresh cocktail sits at her place when she returns to Prim.

"You said one drink," Katniss scoffs, sliding into her seat. Prim takes a healthy sip of her martini before setting the glass down.

"Had to do something to pass the time while you and Peeta talked." Prim mimes air quotes as she says the last word and then snickers to herself. Katniss tries hard not to blush and reaches for her drink.

"Oh, Katniss, come on," Prim says gently. "We're both adults. I can handle the fact you were totally out there having phone sex with your boyfriend. It's written all over your face." Her sister's candor nearly causes Katniss to choke on her martini. She grabs for a napkin and holds it over her mouth until the coughing subsides.

Her embarrassment, however, lingers.

Later, when Prim slips back into their hotel room after spending nearly an hour out on the balcony, on the phone with Rory, Katniss doesn't look up from her book and she doesn't say a word.

Thank you for reading and for your continued support and patience. I hope that I'll be able to finish the next chapter within a reasonable time frame. There aren't too many chapters left.