The first thing I hear when I get home from my after school job are Madge Undersee's moans coming from behind my bedroom door.
"Fuck, Gale," I mutter, shrugging off my father's old leather jacket and dropping my keys on the kitchen table. I knew he was bringing her over tonight, but I've told him a million times that he can't start with this shit until after Prim is asleep. I may only be sixteen, but I'm the closest thing my little sister has to a mother since our own died last winter, and I don't want her hearing those sex sounds. She'd be scarred for life.
I turn the corner into the living room to find Prim cocooned in a flannel blanket, sitting on the carpet just inches away from the blaring television. There's an empty cereal bowl in her lap.
"Hey, Katniss," she smiles up at me.
"Hay is for horses," I answer playfully, just the way our father used to before the mining accident that took his life. It was the same accident that killed Gale's father too, and the reason why our families ended up pooling our resources and living together under the same roof - without those incomes, we were too poor to survive any other way. It's only recently that Gale's mother found a steady job at an industrial laundry in another town and took her three youngest children along with her, leaving us with this empty, old bungalow in a run-down neighborhood known as The Seam.
I sit down next to Prim and tuck a silky strand of her hair behind her ear. "Is that all you had for dinner tonight? Cereal?"
"No. Gale made me spaghetti," she answers. "There's a plate for you in the kitchen, too. I just wanted to stay up to make sure you got it."
I chuckle to myself. "Exactly who is taking care of who, here?"
"Oh, Katniss!" Prim sighs in that motherly way that's beyond her twelve years. "We take care of each other. And I think you need to eat more."
"And I think you need to get to bed," I laugh. "C'mon. You have school in the morning."
But Prim is right – I don't eat enough. After I tuck her in and make sure her bedroom door is tightly closed, I put the plate of spaghetti in the fridge so she can have it for lunch tomorrow. Then I walk down the hall and stop outside my bedroom door.
The light is still on. That's my cue to enter.
I ease the door open and slip inside. Madge is lying on her back in the middle of the bed, eyes tightly closed, long blonde hair spilling over the pillow. Her legs are wrapped around Gale's head. She's still moaning so loudly that she hasn't even heard me come in.
I silently watch the two of them for a minute, Gale, gripping her ass in his hands as he buries his face between her legs; Madge's toes, curling and uncurling with pleasure. She's got the palest, creamiest skin I've ever seen, and probably the nicest tits, too – pert and round, with bright pink nipples that she keeps pinching and tugging on as Gale goes down on her.
But Madge's best feature is that she doesn't annoy me. She's the mayor's daughter, but she's not stuck up about it. That's why I suggested her when Gale asked me who he should bring home for his next challenge.
It's just this little game we like to play.
I pull my bra and sweater over my head in one move and toss them onto the floor as I approach the bed. Gale knows I'm here without even having to look up. I can tell because he's showing off for me, moaning in response to each twitch of Madge's hips, telling her how he loves the way she's dripping down his chin. He knows exactly what to say, and it's turning me on. But Madge doesn't actually notice my presence until I drop my pants and climb onto the bed next to her.
"Oh! Katniss!" she chokes when her eyes pop open. Her hands scramble down to push Gale away.
"It's fine," he tells her, looking up from between her thighs and smiling at me. "Katniss is into it if you are."
Madge glances between us, her cheeks flushed. "Yeah?"
I nod. "I overheard you two and thought I'd join in." And then to prove how much I like it, I lean down and kiss Gale deeply, tasting her musk on his tongue. I feel him smile a little bit against my lips, gloating. Look who I got. I win.
I nip at his bottom lip before pulling away. Yeah, Yeah. Way to go.
Madge is still a little stunned when Gale's head dips down between her legs once more and I start to kiss a trail up from her bellybutton, but she doesn't protest. None of the girls or guys Gale and I bring home ever do, especially not once they realize how good two pairs of lips feel against their skin.
When I pull Madge's hands away from her breasts and pin them to the bed so I can suck those perfect, pink nipples into my mouth, she gasps and arches up towards me.
"Katniss," she murmurs breathlessly.
Gale may have been the one who got her into bed, but that's not his name on her lips.
"So?" Gale grins when he returns from walking Madge home. She'd reached for my hand and asked me to come as well, but I made up some excuse about being exhausted and not having eaten dinner yet. Then I promptly flopped down on the couch in front of the T.V. as soon as she was out the door. I still haven't moved.
"Yeah, it was good," I answer, flipping through the channels.
"Good?" Gale scoffs. "I seem to remember you coming pretty damn hard when she was licking your pussy."
"She was great," I admit. What Madge lacked in experience she made up for in eagerness. "It's just that I don't really know what else you want me to say."
Gale laughs in disbelief as he sinks down on the other side of the couch."You're kidding, right? That's the mayor's daughter, Katniss. I got Mayor Undersee's daughter into bed with us, and you don't think congratulations are in order?"
I suppress a smile and start to rub my foot up and down Gale's thigh. It's funny when he gets all worked up about one of his conquests.
"It's all about social status for you, isn't it?" I tease. "Merchant, Seam, Mayor's daughter - what does it matter? Everyone likes a good, hard fuck once in a while, no matter where they're from."
"I'm just saying," I shrug mischievously. "I'm not going to give you a special award for something that I could've done myself."
"Seriously? You think you could've seduced Madge Undersee yourself?"
"I think she likes me. She was saying my name, after all."
"So? She was riding my dick!" Gale challenges.
We glare at each other for a moment before simultaneously breaking into laughter.
"Fine, Gale," I giggle, sitting up. "Congratulations. It was good, it really was. Is that what you want to hear?" I straddle his lap and start to undo his jeans.
"Yes," he grunts as I slip my hand under the waistband of his shorts.
These people we bring home from time to time, they're just the opening act, the teaser for what we do together once we're alone. Gale and I aren't dating each other, exactly. And we're definitely not in love – I'm never going to fall in love – but we are best friends, and we like to fuck. There aren't any emotional strings attached. It's just something that evolved out of a mutual need to escape the stress and grief of our daily lives.
"By the way, thanks for not letting Prim just eat cereal for dinner tonight," I mention as I sink down to my knees and lift Gale's thickening cock out of his shorts. He slides both of his hands into my hair and squeezes.
"Did you eat yet?" he exhales heavily.
"No," I mumble into his skin. "This first." I've been craving the heat and weight of him in my mouth ever since watching him drive into Madge, expertly bringing her to orgasm. I'm wondering if his skin will still taste like her when he suddenly grips my hair and pulls me back.
I look up questioningly.
"You really think you could've gotten her by yourself?" he asks. "Tell me. Honestly."
"Yeah, Gale. I could've gotten her."
"Fine then," he decides. "If you think it's so easy, then you bring home the next one."
"And I'll choose who it is," he adds.
"Fine," I agree with a smirk. "No problem. Are you gonna tell me who you want right now, or should I wait?"
Gale narrows his eyes contemplatively. "I'm going to think about it," he decides.
Then he guides my head back down.
The next morning, I'm getting ready to walk Prim to school when Gale emerges from the kitchen with a shit-eating grin on his face.
"What now?" I groan. That look always means trouble.
"I've decided who your challenge will be," he says, pausing to take a bite of his toast.
"Peeta Mellark," he announces through a mouthful of crumbs.
I shoot him a withering look. "Are you kidding me, Hawthorne?" Peeta Mellark is in my grade at school. He works at the bakery just down the street from the taxidermy place where I skin and prepare dead animals every afternoon.
He's also the son of the most prominent pastor in this two-bit town.
"Why would I be kidding?" Gale asks smugly. "You said it didn't matter who someone was or where they were from – everyone likes to fuck."
For a moment I'm speechless. Then I put on what I hope is an indifferent expression and grab my leather jacket.
"Whatever," I bluff. "I just never knew you had a thing for bakers, Gale."
"What's going on?" Prim asks, suddenly appearing at my side. "What are you two talking about?"
I shove her lunch bag into her hands.
"Nothing, Prim. Let's go."