Happy Monday, everybody! There's nothing to say other than thank you for the reviews so...
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I feel the sun streaming through the curtains, warming my face. I smile, raising my arms above my head and stretching luxuriously. Opening one eye, I look at my surroundings and sit up, opening my other eye.
Looks like it wasn't a dream, after all. I really am staying with Peeta again after Finnick lied to him about having to work on a commercial. What's going to happen when the alleged commercial doesn't air? Won't Peeta suspect something? Well, maybe he'll have forgotten about it by then, if things work out. I wonder what Finnick is doing… maybe I could give him a call.
I eye the telephone next to the bed but refrain from dialing.
I wonder if Peeta's awake yet… no matter, I should get a move on so I can start breakfast. And also start on my ever diabolical plan of dressing… girlier. Of course, I did wear the pajama set that he had Effie buy for me and his eyes almost popped out of his sockets! So, I guess it's not a useless plan, after all.
Still, I can't ignore the butterflies that are fluttering around my stomach. I smile despite myself and allow myself to think of the kiss Peeta and I shared last night. My cheeks warm up, the butterflies traveling all over my body.
"Enough dawdling, Katniss. Besides, I know you'd much rather see the real Peeta than daydream about him."
I jump out of bed, covering the mattress with the bedspread and fluffing the pillows. I skip to the windows, opening the curtains wide to let the sun pour in. I watch the sun sparkling on the surface of the pool, feeling a strange sense of serenity flowing through me. Shaking my head, I turn away reluctantly and take a quick shower.
Dressing in a light cotton robe over my undergarments, I walk into the closet and stare at the multitude of dresses. Short ones, long ones. Casual ones, fancy ones. In jewel tones and pastel hues.
I take a step back, feeling a little overwhelmed at the selection.
Well, what does Peeta like?
Easy, Peeta likes you. He doesn't care what you're wearing.
Yeah, but he was practically drooling at the sight of you in that nightgown.
I shake myself, frowning and thinking that it's no time to be fighting with myself. I finally end up choosing a pale yellow plaid dress. I quickly slip it on, feeling slightly surprised to see how well it fits me. It has thin spaghetti straps and the skirt is pleated, knee-length; the neckline is what Cinna would call "sweetheart," not showing too much skin, but just enough. I tuck my feet into a pair of brown leather sandals and stride into my bedroom once more, staring at myself in the mirror. I let my hair down from its bun, shaking it out over my shoulders.
Mmm… it'll have to do. I'm not very good at anything other than braiding and it seems like Peeta likes my hair down. As good as it's going get, I guess.
I pinch my cheeks lightly, hoping to give them some color since I'm lacking any sort of makeup kit.
Again, it's a good thing since I wouldn't know the difference between lipsticks. If only Prim was here… she's good at this sort of thing.
Thinking of Prim deflates my anxious mood a little; my shoulders sag and I nibble on my lip.
How is she doing? I haven't heard from her… surely she's doing her best but it's a little strange that she hasn't written to me.
A noise downstairs catches my attention and I decide it's time to stop brooding. My heart does a little jolt in my chest as I head down, the noises in the kitchen getting louder as I approach.
Curious, I peek in, watching as Peeta artfully flips a pancake into the air. I feel my mouth drop and step into the kitchen, making sure to be as silent as possible. I see him slide it into a plate stacked with pancakes. The scent is absolutely heavenly, making my stomach growl loudly.
Peeta sees me out of the corner of his eye and glances away; however, he soon realizes that I'm standing here so he turns around with a brilliant smile gracing his face. My lips curl up in a smile, feeling slightly breathless at the sight of him.
He looks so glorious, never mind the fact that he's cooking for me.
Today he's wearing a simple cobalt blue shirt and what looks like dark wash jeans. The blue of his shirt enhances his eyes, making them look darker yet strangely enough brighter.
Hmm… despite earning so much money, I've noticed how simply he dresses. Nothing showy and never name-dropping brands… he really is one of a kind, isn't he?
As if noticing my dress for the first time, his eyes go wide and mouth goes slack. But he composes himself, shaking his head quickly and clearing his throat, averting his eyes from me. I can't help but hide the smile that blooms on my lips, wanting nothing more than to have him look at me once more.
"Good morning," I tell him, sitting down in one of the barstools.
"Good morning, Katniss," he replies, giving me a breathtaking timid smile. "You look very beautiful."
I look down bashfully but smile dreamily, feeling warm tingles from my head to my toes.
"Thank you, Peeta. That blue makes your eyes look even bluer," I blurt out, feeling my cheeks warm up.
He stares at me blankly for a few seconds before blinking confusedly, his golden eyelashes glinting in the sun that's streaming through the skylight in the ceiling. He opens his mouth to respond but shuts it immediately, speechless.
"Cat got your tongue?" I tease, leaning closer to him.
His face turns red but manages to smile adorably, bringing out the dimple that I so deeply love. He clears his throat loudly again and pierces me with his gaze, deepening the dimple.
"Thank you, Katniss. That wasn't my intention… but I'm glad you noticed?" he replies, laughing nervously.
I roll my eyes at him but return the smile.
"It's a little impossible to miss."
"Well, I hope you're hungry," he says quickly, undoubtedly wanting a change of topic, pointing his thumb to the platter of pancakes.
Add humble to the ever-growing list of attributes.
"I am, actually. But… I thought I was in charge of cooking?" I ask, reaching for a fork.
He lifts his eyebrow and smiles mischievously at me.
"I haven't been in here for months… besides, will you really deprive me of wanting to cook for you? Even if it is something easy like pancakes," he mutters, looking a bit embarrassed.
"Are you serious? I can't make pancakes to save my life," I laugh, not wanting him to feel bad or undeserving.
A corner of his mouth twitches up and he chuckles softly, watching as I stack pancakes on my plate.
"And if memory serves, yours are delicious," I add, buttering them generously and coating them in syrup.
I cut a piece out and put it in my mouth, the flavors melting seamlessly in my mouth. I chew, unable to contain the groan of pleasure that escapes me. He just watches me, amused and delighted. I swallow, taking a brief drink of milk that he served me and turn to him.
"Nope, I was wrong. They're even better than I remember," I chuckle, unsurprised at the fact. "Kind of like you."
He stares openly at me, a blush warming his cheeks. I turn back to my pancakes and see him smiling as he fills his plate with pancakes.
We eat in comfortable silence, catching each other's eye once in a while and looking away bashfully. After loading the dishes in silence, we turn to each other, his eyes full of questions that warrant answers.
"So… I'm guessing you have more scripts to read, huh?" I ask, unable to control the longing in my voice.
He watches me carefully, his eyes roaming my face.
"Is there something you had in mind?"
"Well… it's such a beautiful day outside and it'd be a waste to spend it indoors, don't you think?" I ask, cringing at how my voice gets tinier at the end. "But you're busy… so never mind. I'll just find something to entertain myself, don't worry."
He frowns at this and shakes his head.
"No, I'll be more than happy to spend the day with you. The scripts can wait," he smiles tentatively at me, watching me peculiarly. "What did you have in mind?"
"Um… well… I haven't thought that far ahead yet. But I know that spending the day with you… would be something that I really want to do," I tell him, feeling strangely breathless.
His expression softens and smiles at me, the brightness of it shedding any doubt or embarrassment in me.
How does he do that? I used to be so tongue-tied around him… and look at me now, speaking my mind; telling him that I want to spend the day with him. Prim sure would be proud. Oh, Prim… I hope you're okay.
"I don't really have too many days to myself. The exception being when you first came here after the contest. I'm usually reading scripts, filming something or other or making appearances on talk shows," he admits, chuckling to himself.
"Same here. I was always so busy with work… that I didn't bother paying much attention to the people around me. Particularly Prim," I sigh, frowning.
"I'm sure she didn't hold that against you, Katniss. She was aware of what that job cost you and would never, ever throw it in your face," he tells me soothingly.
Even now, when I know that Peeta loves me, I can't help but feel the sharp poke of jealousy in my gut. I try to smile but it comes out as a grimace, no doubt amusing Peeta.
Wait a minute. How am I so sure that Peeta loves me? He hasn't told me that he does. I'm just assuming based on the fact that he's told me in the past. And the recent kisses we have shared. But other than that…
A package sitting on his oven catches my eye suddenly.
"What is that?" I ask, raising my chin at it.
He turns around and grabs it, setting it before me. It's a plastic see-through container, which seems to be holding cookies. He takes the garish pink lid off and sniffs, looking at the cookies with contemplation.
"Cookies from Glimmer. They're a get well gift; it had a little card but I threw that away," he shrugs easily, eyeing the cookies.
A shiver goes through my body as he takes one, studying it from every angle possible.
"Wait, a get well gift? Are you feeling okay?" I ask urgently, watching for any symptoms of illness.
He snickers and shakes his head.
"No, fit as a fiddle. It's something I came up with so she wouldn't come snooping around…"
"Oh. That wouldn't be good if she did, huh?" I say, my insides going cold at the thought. "Of course, I have nothing to hide…"
"Neither do I! I just…" he sighs and I can almost see the cogs in his brain turning for coherent speech. "I just need to be away from her. So I can think of the best way to break up with her, I suppose. Not that I ever asked her to be my girlfriend to begin with…"
"Wait… you didn't?!" I shriek, alarming him.
"No! She just… sort of clung to me. It was a complicated time…" he murmurs darkly, popping the entire cookie into his mouth and chewing.
He pulls a face and swallows hesitantly, shaking his head with disgust.
"Ugh… too much of everything. Too much sugar, too much butter…" he mumbles, grabbing the container gingerly and putting it back on the stove.
"That bad, huh?" I ask, feeling a strange sense of vindication.
"'Bad' doesn't even begin to describe it," he shivers, filling a glass with water and drinking it all in one go.
I watch with him amazement, observing how his Adam's apple bobs up and down. He finally sets the glass down, panting for breath.
"Peeta… perhaps we should… talk," I tell him hesitantly, measuring his reaction.
"Talk? About what, Katniss?" he replies softly, cautiously.
"About… about us, I suppose. Maybe I should start since I'm the one who brought it up. But how about we go outside? It really is a nice day," I suggest, hoping to drag this out for a a few minutes more.
Silly Katniss, not like you can put it off longer… how I wish I could. But this needs to be said. Especially since we've added kissing to the already messy equation. I need to be sure of what he feels for me before I do anything drastic…
"Deck or pool?" he asks courteously, rinsing the glass.
"Pool. I bet there's a nice breeze…" I mumble, feeling the nerves start to get to me.
"Lead the way," he smiles politely at me, but I can see that his smile isn't entirely enthusiastic.
Of course not, Everdeen, what did you expect? The fact that you don't love him will undoubtedly come up and things won't be the same. Why did I have to bring this up now? Especially since things have been good… but I can't put it off anymore. It would eventually come up, anyway. So there's no time like the present.
I slide the door open and feel the breeze caress my face; I smile stepping outside eagerly and heading to the patio table under the big umbrella. I sit in a cushioned seat, wiggling my bottom experimentally and finding it to be quite comfy. Peeta takes a seat opposite of me and watches me silently.
He deserves answers, should he have any questions. This is no time to keep anything to yourself, Katniss. Be as honest as possible without hurting his feelings.
"So… I left despite the fact that you asked me to stay. At the time, I really did think it was the right thing to do. I didn't feel like I was worthy enough and despite the fact that it was Glimmer who told me that, I knew that she was right because I believed it to be true."
Peeta frowns, tilting his head curiously.
"Glimmer told you that you weren't worthy enough for me? When was this?" he asks, both confused and irked.
"Right after our conversation on the balcony," I answer him.
"Katniss… surely you didn't believe all the vitriol she said, did you?" he demands, sounding frustrated. "I've always told you what you meant to me, people's opinions be damned."
"I merely believed it because it's what I thought deep down too," I whisper, pressing my hand against my chest.
"Do you still believe it?"
"That I'm unworthy of you?"
He nods, his eyes never leaving mine.
"I believe it, I suppose. It's just difficult for me to understand why," I shrug, dropping my hand to the table.
"You suppose," he sneers, raising his brow.
I frown, feeling slightly alarmed at his response. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, shaking his head slowly.
"I apologize, Katniss. I didn't mean for it to come out like that… I just can't believe that after all this time, you're still not sure of what you are to me."
"What am I to you, Peeta?" I ask him quietly.
"If you really have to ask…" he trails off, raising a golden eyebrow.
"I just… want to make sure. That whatever you felt for me hasn't changed. I wouldn't be surprised if it did, honestly. Because what I did… I wasn't planning on coming back," I whisper, feeling extremely ashamed of myself.
Peeta just stares at me, his face paling slowly.
"Why did you then?" he forces the words through his lips.
"I didn't think things would get so out of hand! Never did it cross my mind that you and Glimmer, well…"
"Desperate times called for desperate measures, Katniss," he mumbles, looking down at his hands.
"Do you love her?" I ask him suddenly.
He looks up, a mixture of emotions passing through his eyes. He finally shakes his head, gripping his hands tighter.
Immense relief washes through me and I actually let out a small sigh. A tiny smile forms on his lips as he watches me intensely.
"Is it true that you burst into tears when Finn told you about my idiotic idea to marry her?" he asks in a low voice.
My face turns bright red but I force myself to keep eye contact with Peeta.
"Yes," I whisper, the sound carrying with the wind. "Even the thought of it now… is unbearable."
A tender emotion crosses through his handsome face and he stretches out his hand hesitantly to put over mine. His warm touch sends flutters all over my body and I try hard not to squirm, lest he think his touch makes me uncomfortable.
"I know you don't love me," he says matter-of-factly. "You have shown as much. But you have also shown that you care for me… and it confuses me because it's so contradictory, Katniss."
To hear him say it, well, it makes my chest ache with longing and desperation.
But it's true, you don't love him. Why bother pretending that you do? His heart would be the inevitably broken one if you ever did.
"I'm sorry, Peeta. I wish that I could—"
"Stop wishing and do something about it instead, Katniss!" he cries out, giving my hand a sharp squeeze.
I cringe, to which he responds by releasing my hand immediately and crossing his arms across his chest.
He licks his lips nervously, eyes darting around.
"Sorry, Katniss. I didn't mean—"
"But you're right, Peeta. Maybe that's my problem. Instead of focusing so much on my weaknesses, I should strive to overcome them."
"You can't force yourself to love me, Katniss. I do not wish for it nor will I allow it," he tells me sternly.
"It's not… I wouldn't be forcing myself, Peeta. You really have no idea of the effect you have, do you?" I ask with disbelief.
He visibly relaxes, dropping his hands on the table.
"What effect do I have on you, Katniss?" he smiles alluringly at me, leaning closer.
I swallow nervously but force myself to keep eye contact once more. Which is trickier than it sounds because looking at him is like staring into the sun itself.
"You… you… you…" I stutter, cursing myself inwardly.
He laughs delightedly, clasping his hands together. That, however, just pisses me off and so I scowl at him.
"You're so funny and smart, but so humble too. Even if you do something that rubs me the wrong way, I can't help but want to talk to you. But at the same time, you make any unhappiness go away. Oh, can't forget about being friendly. Despite… liking… me when Prim was here, you never made her feel left out and I truly appreciated that. Your smile disarms me and your kisses make me weak in the knees. I'm tired of fighting it, Peeta," I sigh despairingly, slouching in my seat.
He smiles slowly, his cheeks pink.
"Think of how much better things could be if you didn't try to fight them, Katniss," he tells me enticingly. "No thinking, no fighting… just going with your gut."
"That wouldn't be very like me," I admit, laughing.
"Perhaps not… but it wouldn't hurt to try, would it?"
I frown at him.
"You're only saying that because it would benefit you," I mumble, crossing my arms.
"Of course! Who doesn't like to be shown affection and care by the person they love?"
At the word 'love,' my eyes snap toward his. His lips are set in an earnest smile while his eyes watch me lovingly.
"Do you… what I mean to ask… is it…"
"Yes," he interrupts, a smile playing on the corners of his lips. "I still love you, Katniss."
Thank you for taking the time to read!
See ya'll on Friday. :)