"I'm running, I'm running!" I shout.
"Run faster! Get your sister, go!" I grab Prim's hand and drag her along, turning back to see my father walking back.
"Dad, where are you going?!" I scream, tears streaming down my face.
He kneels in front of me, takes my face in his hands and looks me in the eyes.
"Be strong for me. Can you do that?" he asks desperately. I nod. "Run, run as fast as you can. Find your mother. Tell her I love her." I nod again, struggling to see through the smoke and my tears. "I love you, Katniss, Primrose. I love you both so much." He kisses both of our heads before telling us to run again. So that's what I do. But not before watching him run back into the flames.
I bolt upright, gasping for air. I can feel the flames, licking my skin. The burn on my ankles as it tried to grab me, pull me in. I throw my covers off of me and kick my feet out of bed, putting my head in my hands.
I've had nightmares ever since that night. I shiver just thinking about it. It's not something one forgets easily, but it's never something I enjoy remembering.
I glance at my alarm clock. 5:30 am. Great. We've been in the apartment for a couple of days now. We spent the whole of yesterday painting the living room and blasting our music. Fortunately, our neighbour, Mags – an elderly woman that has taken a liking to Finnick- is partially deaf and doesn't mind the noise.
Deciding that now is a better time than any, I get up, throw on a sports bra and my running gear, grab my Ipod, and make my way out the door. I've been running ever since I was a teenager. I never enjoyed doing it in school, and I've always suffered from shin splints, but when I'm alone, it allows me to think. To get away from everything, even just for a little while. And I run because he told me to run. I'm also a big fan of running away from my problems until they go away. Ah, Stiles Stilinski, my God.
I turn up Of Mice and Men as the elevator reaches the ground floor and I turn off the world. When we were looking for an apartment near the bar, the thing that made me love the place we live so much is the running trail nearby. It's secluded, in a wooded area, away from civilisation, and if you know where to detour, you end up in my favourite place here in California, next to the beach. I found the meadow all by myself, and I have yet to show it to Jo and Finn. I guess I'm still holding onto the remaining privacy before I share it with the people I love.
I'm halfway along the trail when my Ipod stops. I take it out of my bra (since there's nowhere else for me to put it) and change the album. I've had my Ipod for over 10 years, and it's still reliable but I knew I should have updated my Itunes before I-
Umph. I'm on my front, suddenly horizontal. But the ground feels weird. It's warm and-
"Urggh," I lift my head up and my eyes meet the most beautiful blue orbs I've ever seen. My jaw goes slack and my mouth dry. We just lay there, staring at each other. Then our eyes go wide once realising our compromising position.
"Oh my god, I am so sorry!" I exclaim, trying to roll off of him, but our headphones have gotten tangled, and so have our limbs.
He chuckles slightly. "Y'know, I usually take a girl on a couple of dates before I go that far." His voice is low and masculine. There would be a puddle on the floor if it weren't for what he said. It brings an instant scowl onto my face.
"Maybe you should look where you're going next time," I spit, pushing myself up and brushing myself off.
"Yeah, well, I wasn't the only one not looking," he comments. "Weren't you the one that apologised first?" My cheeks flushed angrily. If there's one thing I hate more than cocky dickheads, it's when I'm proven wrong.
"Well, I've noticed that you haven't," I quickly retort.
"Fine, I'm sorry. Now, do mind giving me a hand up. I think I twisted my ankle," he says. My face falls and I quickly take his outstretched hand to help him onto his feet. It feels as though there's an electric current that's just surged up my arm and into my stomach. He hisses as he puts pressure on his foot.
"Shit, are you okay?" I ask, worried. He flashes me a charming smile, nodding, before grimacing as he applies more pressure. "No, you're not. Shit, shit, shit," I mutter, swinging his arm over my shoulder and leading him over to a nearby bench.
I begin taking off his shoe and then his sock and he laughs again. "Shouldn't I at least know your name before you start undressing me?"
I halt my actions at look him in the eye. "Make another comment like that and it's not just going to be your foot that hurts, okay, Chuckles?" He laughs again, and I roll my eyes. Reaching into my shoe, I pull out a small roll of bandage and begin wrapping up his foot.
"I'm Peeta," he tells me.
"That's nice, Chuckles," I deadpan. I roll on his sock and carefully put his shoe back on.
"Do I get to know your name?" he asks.
I sigh. "Katniss."
"That's a beautiful name," he says, quietly testing it out on his tongue. I sit next to him on the bench and look at my watch. "You're not from around here, are you?"
"What gave me away?" I ask, sarcastically.
"Where abouts are you from?"
"The West Middlands," I answer. "Whereas, I can guess that you, from the lack of an accent differentiate, are from around here. Probably from the coast, as you've got that surfer dude look."
He laughs. His laughter is like music to my ears. It's low, like his voice, but is also childlike and cheeky. My cheeks flush as I realise how rude I'm being.
"I'm sorry." He looks at me confused. "For being such a bitch, I mean. I'm not that good at the whole, being a human being with social skills thing." I shrug apologetically and he smiles. This time, I'm pretty sure there is a puddle. I'm embarrassed at how turned on I am by just his appearance. He's tall and stocky with messy blonde hair and slightly tanned skin, from the Cali sun. His smile is just… perfect. He's perfect. And his eyes. His eyes could make sapphires look like a dull blue stone. They're beautiful.
I realise how long I've been staring at him and flush red. That's when I notice, that he is too. I check my watch again and, realising that Johanna should be awake by now, I stand up. "I should be going. My roommate will be awake and we've got a lot to do today."
Understanding, he nods and stands too. I give an awkward wave goodbye and I'm walking away, hating myself entirely for the whole ordeal, when he calls out.
"Do you run this trail often?"
I stop and turn back, seeing Peeta standing with his hands in his pockets, looking nervous. My stomach starts to flutter.
"Pretty often, yeah. Why?"
"It'd be nice to see you again," he replies, looking into my eyes with a lazy smile.
I scoff. "And why's that, Chuckles? Want another twisted ankle?"
"You just intrigue me, is all." He gives me one last bright smile. "I'll be seeing you, Katniss." And then he runs the other way.
"Brainless, where were you?" Jo asks, as I walk through the door.
"I went for a run," I answer, flopping down on the couch.
"You and your running, I'll never understand your need to exercise," she says, sitting next to me and turning on the TV.
"Yeah, well. Not all of us have a fast metabolism like you, Jo," I laugh.
She looks at me curiously. "You seem distracted, what's up?"
"What? Oh, it's nothing," I answer quickly. She narrows her eyes at me. Then they go wide and she gasps.
"You met a guy didn't you?!" I stay quiet and she laughs manically. "I knew it! You did! What's his name? Did you get his number? What's he look like?"
"Woah, Jo, calm your shit." She stops asking questions and crosses her legs, facing me with a shit eating grin on her face.
"Tell me everything."
"There's nothing to tell," I say. "I wasn't looking where I was going, ran into him, ended up on top of him"-she laughs at the image of that-"I twisted his ankle, wrapped it in a bandage and then we went separate ways. That's all," I finish, as she pouts, wanting more details. But like the meadow, I want to keep the image of him to myself just a little while longer.
Later that day, Jo and I go to the bar and make sure everything is in order for opening on Saturday night. Flyers have been up around the town for weeks and we've had countless emails from people asking about events and hiring's. It's been a nightmare, but amazing.
The bar is everything we could have hoped for. With the bar in the centre of the room, we get full view of everywhere. In the back right corner there is room for a stage and even a dance floor, if there are ever any wedding reception bookings. A Jukebox in the back left corner. Booths with red leather seating. It's perfect.
"Everything is ready now. We've got two days before opening, we may as well relax," I say and Jo jumps up onto the side.
"By the way," says Jo. "I bumped into Thresh in the lift. He said that we're not the only newbies in the building."
"Yeah. He helped some guy move in in the apartment below ours. I was thinking that maybe we should visit. Take some cookies or something as a 'hey, we just moved into the building too and need more friends in the area' gift."
I groan and pout. "Why do we have to make friends? We have Finn, Mags and Thresh. Isn't that enough?"
"Now, now, Brainless, you're never going to make any friends with that attitude," she scolds jokingly.
"Exactly, I don't want anymore. You're handful enough," I mumble. Johanna punches my arm and I smile at her. "Love you really."
It seems my efforts weren't enough as the next day I'm standing outside of the apartment below ours with a plate of Target cookie mix cookies. I look over at Jo, pleadingly but she just shakes her head.
Sighing, I knock on the door three times.
"Hang on!" a voice calls from inside. It sounds familiar. A familiar low and masculine I met a couple of days ago. It must be because I've not stopped thinking about Peeta since we met. Every time I close my eyes, he's there. Never before has one guy has so much effect on me.
The door swings open and my jaw drops in disbelief.
"Katniss?" he asks, surprised.
"Peeta," I smile awkwardly.
"Well hot damn. Now I understand why you go running," says Jo.