Degrees of Summer

Chapter One

Peeta scuffed the dirt with his cleat and squinted up at the hot midday sun.

'It's so damn hot' he thought to himself. Taking a deep breath he focused on Finnick, his catcher, who signaled for him to throw a fastball. Almost imperceptivity Peeta shook his head. Finnick frowned and motioned for a change up. Peeta licked his lips and nodded lining up the pitch.

He knew it was a strike the minute the ball left his hand. The batter swore and walked back to the bench as Finnick ran up and slapped Peeta on the back.

"You know, sometimes I think you're crazy as hell but then you manage to pull it off." Peeta laughed and adjusted his cap.

"Yeah well I studied up on this guy last night, my fastball isn't fast enough to get past him."

Katniss was sweating profusely and trying to remain cordial but at the same time couldn't help but be incredibly annoyed. It was a slow day at the stadium and she just wanted to go home and take a cold shower.

She looked up and down the concourse and frowned at the lack of customers, attendance had to be an all time low of 12,000. She stepped outside of her stand and walked up to the back of the last row of seats squinting and trying to see how many outs were left.

One, the White Sox had put in their brand new pitcher Peeta Mellark in the last inning and he had not given up a hit yet.

"Come on kid." Katniss spoke under her breath. She saw him line up the pitch and strike him out.

"Yes!" Her hands flew up in the air as she cheered. As Katniss scurried back to her stand to do final counts her mind drifted back to thoughts of her father and how excited he'd be that the Sox had finally picked up a good closer.

She really hoped this new kid had it in him to pull the team back together. They hadn't had a shot in years.

Later that night Katniss hefted about ten trash bags full of leftover cotton candy and started downstairs with it. When she reached the service level she set down her bags to retie her braid which had come undone making her sweaty hair stick to the back of her neck driving her crazy.

Hauling the bags back up on her shoulder she frowned thinking of the money bag tucked into the waistband of her pants. She was three dollars short today and couldn't figure out her mistake.

Katniss had recounted everything in her inventory and had not found anything. Still pondering the money issue she hadn't realized she was about to walk by the team clubhouse when all of a sudden the door in front of her flew open. Katniss felt her eyes widen as Finnick Odair strode out of the door.

She swung the bags of cotton candy around trying not to hit him and oh god she didn't even want to think about what would happen if management had found out she hit a player with bags full of cotton candy.

Loosing her footing Katniss fell onto the hard concrete landing right on her hip bone.

"Yeah! She just stared at me and then started crying. I didn't even know what to do man. I mean, she seemed so into it…" Peeta laughed as Finnick shoved the door to the clubhouse open.

He saw a shocked concession girl with her mouth open wide swing a bunch of cotton candy in her hands and fall onto the ground. Peeta felt a smile spread across his face when he saw the girl scowl at Finnick who was laughing hysterically.

Her cheeks were red and she pushed herself to her feet rubbing her hip bone. Peeta started grabbing cotton candy and shoving it back into the bag.

The girl snatched it from his hands. "You don't have to do that. I got it. Don't worry. Sorry to be in your way." Peeta felt his heart pound as she looked up at him. Her grey eyes flashing with anger and wounded pride.

He opened his mouth and blurted out, "I'm Peeta. Peeta Mellark."