Hello there! Thank you for reading.
A blended family is formed when people marry while still raising children from previous relationships. Think Jada & Will, Ashton & Demi, etc.
I wrote this after reading a few Daddy!Peeta fics. I fell in love with the idea of Peeta as a father. And so this is an Everlark modern day AU story about how complicated, messy, and yet still beautiful becoming a blended family can be.
Thank you to Lauralulubee for playing beta for me with this prologue.
I own nothing. Characters by Suzanne Collins, quotes from music by Kendrick Lamar.
I hope you enjoy it.
"I am a sinner, who's probably gonna sin again. Lord forgive me. Lord forgive me, things I don't understand. Sometimes I need to be alone..."
I always knew I'd get married.
We met as undeclared first-years at the University of Virginia. I'm a local girl, born and raised right here in Charlottesville. Gale moved here from London two weeks before freshman orientation. We bonded over a mutual love of horses, and spent many hours of our 'courtship', his word not mine, riding through the country together.
I knew when he was going to propose, I expected it. I didn't expect our short engagement or a wedding at the Boars Head Inn before graduation with 500 guests in attendance from either side of the "pond." That had been Gale's idea. I didn't imagine the 7 tier fruit cake either. That had also been Gale's idea. Apparently it's the traditional wedding cake of England. But to me, fruit cake is something you get for Christmas from someone you don't particularly like. I remember how I bit my tongue to hide my disappointment as I cut into the cake. Looking back, it was the first of many disappointments in our marriage.
I always knew I'd be a mother.
Though, if I'm honest with myself, I'll admit that didn't particularly want motherhood. I didn't imagine I'd have a child so soon in my life. Or in my marriage. But, I wouldn't trade it for anything. We welcomed our daughter, Rue, before our first year anniversary. She'll turn five next month.
Gale has missed her last two birthday celebrations.
As I sit in the living room of our gorgeous suburban home in the valley of the Shenandoah Mountains, flipping through our family album, the signs become all too clear. My forced smiles hold the hidden story of a woman who got everything she expected, but nothing the way she imagined.
Perhaps it's a selfish thought. Perhaps if I told myself I were happy, I could've believed it. Perhaps then, I wouldn't be sitting here, the smell of sex with another man still lingering on my skin.
Tonight began like any other Friday night. I dropped Rue off at my sister Prim's house for her weekly sleepover with her cousin Posy. I feel bad dropping her off tonight, because she hasn't seen Gale since Sunday afternoon - between him working 16 hour days with his hour-long commute to Richmond and her sleep schedule, they haven't caught each other. But, If we cut our date night short, we can stop here and he can say hello, I reason. No need to upset Rue and Posy's plans. I returned home and gussied up in a short off the shoulder red dress. Gale loves this dress. He says it shouldn't be legal for me to wear it. I wore my hair loose, just the way he likes it, I went to the restaurant and I waited for him to arrive.
But he didn't. Last minute conference call to Hong Kong or some shit. It's always something. I wasn't surprised when Gale's assistant Thom arrived. It was the 6th date night in a row I've spent with him, after all.
Thom's fingertips grazed my exposed shoulder.
"He doesn't appreciate you," he said.
I finished my 4th glass of merlot with a gulp and smiled.
"I know," I replied.
Gale doesn't appreciate me. But Thom does.
I gave him a small smile as I pushed away from the table. I walked though the restaurant floor, watching couples at various stages in their relationships. The girl with the red hair pulled into a ponytail sitting on the same side of the table as the man with the buzz cut – dating...6 months? The grey haired man dragging his index finger down the forearm of the young blonde who is obviously not his daughter – Sugar daddy…3 weeks?
As I entered the lavatory, I couldn't help but wonder what a casual observer would've thought upon seeing me, 3 glasses of wine deep and alone. And what then when Thom arrived. Did I smile? Was I visibly relieved to see him?
What did I see?
The girl with the brown hair smiling at the man in the 3 piece suit.
"Affair…6 weeks?" I whispered to myself.
"Are you okay?" I heard Thom call through the door.
I turned on the water and rinsed my hands. Had I really been standing there, staring at my reflection? I hardly recognized the woman who stared back.
I opened the bathroom door to tell Thom I was fine. But before I could get the words out, his lips were on mine.
"Let me make you feel good," he breathed against my mouth.
I allowed it. I let him run his hands on my body and explore my mouth with his talented tongue. And when he locked the bathroom door and took me against the wall, I allowed myself to forget how wrong it was.
Thom kissed my neck as he unzipped Gale's favorite dress. He squeezed the flesh of my thighs as he ignored the telltale chime of his blackberry. And when, he pushed into me, slowly, I knew there was nowhere else he'd rather be in that moment. Thom fucked me with an enthusiasm I haven't experienced in a long time. The sex was impulsive, but not hurried. It wasn't scheduled between meetings. It didn't conflict with anything else on the calendar. And it felt good enough, so I went through the motions. I moaned, I arched my back, I screamed as I climaxed. And when he was done, and he told me he wanted to be with me, I said nothing. Because I felt nothing. Nothing for him. And nothing for Gale. I stood up, gathered my belongings and left.
I arrived home at nearly 5 this morning. I still haven't showered. I don't care.
Gale didn't come home last night. He wouldn't have noticed if I didn't either. A thought occurs that I could do this. I could have an affair. Gale would never know. But the thought makes my stomach turn. This isn't what marriage is supposed to be. This isn't who I want to be as a married woman. I'm not ashamed of my behavior tonight, but I don't care to make routine out of it either.
I sit for hours. I've dozed off with the album in my hands as I hear the door to our house finally open. I look towards the grandfather clock. It's nearly 8.
"Hey Catnip. You didn't wait up for me, did you love?" Gale asks. He sounds slightly annoyed. There was a time when I would wait up for him, when he couldn't wait to come home, when he would make love to me against every surface of the house no matter the hour of his arrival. But those days are in the past. He arrives home too tired to do much other than crawl into bed now. He began to actually snap at me for initiating sex if he arrived home after a certain hour.
He walks over to me and leans down to kiss the top of my head. He stills, and I hear him sniff my hair.
"I want a divorce."