The sweet tropical breeze billowed through the curtains as Peeta pulled the last shirt out of his suitcase and tucked the neatly rolled fabric in the top drawer. He sighed deeply as he stared down at the perfect rows of clothes indicating he was done packing. Old habits died hard, especially when they were enforced by a tongue lashing and a harsh hand. Frustrated with himself, he ran his hands furiously through them trying his best to make it look like he was a normal guy who didn’t care how his drawer looked. Satisfied he turned around to close his suitcase and stow it in his closet.
“Hey Peeta! Are you ready to go out for lunch?” He could tell his brother was impatient to eat and he was ready to step out of his temporary bedroom when anxiety rolled through him and he stopped.
“Hold on Mitch I just have to finish unpacking!” He yelled back. He sighed in defeat and he went back to the drawer to quickly make it neat again.
“You know that preppy look is going to last like a day out here. You look like a damn tourist,” his brother said looking him up and down. They were flying down the empty road, wind whipping his neatly combed hair in a frenzy in his brother’s open jeep as the massive greenery flew by. The vines seemed to take over everything on the island from the stop signs to the electric wiring. He was afraid it would take over him if he stayed long enough. And he knew his brother was right but he couldn’t help being… neat.
“Hey where’d you go Peeta,” Mitch said waving his hand in front of him. Peeta tried uselessly not to grip his door hand as his brother took a sharp turn, using only the palm of his hand to turn the wheel. The vehicle jumped and shook as it turned into a cracked parking lot, slamming his brakes just in time to fit in a tight spot.
“I’m right here Mitch. And where are you taking me?” He asked through gritted teeth.
“Yeah your body’s here but your brain still seems to be in Seattle. All grey and foggy like that damn city. Look at where you are! In Paradise man. And the first stop is the best soup you’ll ever eat in your life - saimen.
“It’s over 80 degrees out and you want me to eat soup?” Of course his oldest brother would think something like that was a good idea.
“But it’s not just any soup. It’s saimen!,” He said shaking his brother’s head, so the constrained curls could break free. “Best way to get your body used to the hot temperature.” Peeta had no answer to that as he looked at the tired small building in front of him. He climbed out of the car and as he took in the peeling paint and the tired sign that said Sae’s Saimen House then he finally realized the building next to it.
“Is that your bakery?” He asked looking at the new sign that said Brother’s Bread Bakery.
Mitch wrapped his arm around his shoulder and gave him a big smile. “Our bakery. 50/50 partnership. I know you haven’t decided if you are staying or not, but I want you to know that this can be your home if you let it. You don’t have to go back to her.” His last words were gentle, knowing he was getting into a touchy subject.
“Thanks Mitch. I’ll think about it,” he said softly. This was only supposed to be a visit to help his brother set up his new business and give his brain space. He wasn’t ready to make a permanent change. He would just have to figure out a way to let his brother down gently.
His brother didn’t expect any more of a response, and so he just followed him through the screen door. He wanted to fit in this new place and enjoy himself while he was here. He really did, so it was better he kept his mouth shut and just do what he was told. He was good at that anyway.
His brother pulled him down onto a stool next to him and only then did he pay attention to his surroundings. The inside was as old as the outside, like it hadn’t been changed since being built, but he had to admit it was very clean. Fans spun slowly over head, only swirling the warm air instead of making it cooler. The tables were more like one big counter that created u shapes around the open kitchen, so that it was shared seating. A spicy looking liquid in unlabeled squeeze bottles lay in front of him, with chopsticks and the regular hot sauces. He had no idea how this as supposed to make him cool down.
Keep an open mind, he thought as his brother started to strike up a conversation with the old lady behind the counter, her hair up in a frizzy bun.
“Hey, is this your brother you’ve been bragging about?” The old woman asked putting a cup of cold water in front of him, already dripping with condensation. Did any place in Hawaii have air conditioning?
“He sure is,” he said, messing his hair again. “I know he’s going to make my business boom! He’s the best baker I’ve ever known.” Peeta smiled tightly as he tried to fix his hair again.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Peeta.” He said putting his hand out. She shook it with her brown weathered hand and gave him a sweet if only partially toothed smile.
“Auntie Sae. Nice to finally meet you. That boy has been bragging forever about you. It’s finally nice to put a face to a name.”
Peeta looked over in surprise at his brother, who only smiled warmly back. They were never close growing up, his brother over 6 years older than he was. He felt more of a nuisance than anything, so he couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that his brother was looking forward to seeing him. He always thought he was just a charity case.
“I sure did. It’s going to be great having him live with me and help out at the bakery. Right Peeta. So treat my brother right. Give him the Special. Extra pork. Extra wontons.”
“Extra everything for the malihini,” She said squeezing his chin before briskly walking to the back of the kitchen.
“What does that mean?” His brother only chuckles, messing up his hair. Peeta starts to feel that this is soon becoming a bad habit.
“It means you new to the island bruh,’ he says slipping easily into the Hawaiian accent. Just as he’s about to ask another question, the screen door slammed open and a girl came flying in and around the kitchen, her long braid whipping behind her. She was a petite thing, who most would agree was not classically beautiful but that didn’t stop Peeta’s heart from thudding in a difficult pattern in his chest, and the already hot restaurant felt miles closer to the sun.
“I’m here Auntie! Sorry I’m late!” She said quickly tying an apron around her neck. What a neck, slim and elegant. Her skin was a beautiful golden tan you would only see the locals have. And her hair was thick and glossy in its intricate braid. He didn’t even want to get into that beautifully sweet and smoky voice of hers.
“Oh I know that look Peeta,” Mitch said nudging him. “Don’t even think about it. That girl is off limits to haoles like us.”
“What does haole mean?”
“You might as well get used to the term. It means white boy. Most people don’t mean anything bad by it. Term of endearment actually. But you’ll know when it’s an insult. Anyway like I said. Off limits. But there is plenty of beautiful girls here and they will all love to look in those baby blues of yours.”
More questions were formed on Peeta’s lips when a big bowl of steaming soup filled with noodles was plopped in front of him.
“Two specials,” came a voice much younger than Sae. He looked up to mercury grey eyes piercing his own. He could feel his neck flush, the heat of it creeping up until it reached his cheeks as he felt her eyes scan him.
“Hey Katniss, this is my brother Peeta, the one I was telling you about,” his brother said.
“The good one, not the bad one right?” She asked passing them chopsticks.
“Hi, nice… to … meet you.” Peeta managed to stutter out.
She blinked before nodding her head. “Welcome to Kauai,” she said before she whipped around and headed back to the kitchen, her long thick braid flicking behind her.
“I told you bro, not a chance,” Mitch said before digging into his soup. Peeta absentmindedly started eating his own soup, admitting internally that it was delicious and actually hit the spot. His eyes tracked her back and forth as she took orders and served. He tried not to ogle her tight ass as it was hugged in the smallest pair of jean shorts. Her name ran through his head over and over. Katniss. He didn’t know her but he just knew he was a goner. And he didn’t like it one bit because he had no intention of staying on that small island.
Peeta’s muscles strained as he hefted the hundred pound flour bag onto the four previous he had carried in. He stretched his tight muscles before pulling the rag stuffed in his back pocket to wipe the sweat gathering on his forehead. He didn’t consider how much harder his work would be in a tropical environment. It was only 8 am but he could already feel the difference the humidity was making. But as he saw the warm orange getting brighter behind the palm trees he had to admit that the mornings were more spectacular here.
It had been two weeks since he came to Kauai. He dived into work right away, not bothering to enjoy any of the many delights his brother said the island had to offer. He was here to help out for three months and that was it. So he worked from 5am to 3pm every day, and collapsed on his small bed, too exhausted to do anything else.
The only bright spot had been seeing Katniss almost every day, even if it was briefly. He was brooming the entrance when she came skidding in, obviously late like last time. After that he would broom at the same time, and found her lateness to be a pattern. He thinks she may have given him a small smile the last time but he was probably imagining.
“Hey Peeta, can you run the table at the farmer’s market today in Kukui’ula Shopping Village. Bristel just went home sick.”
“Ummm, sure,” Peeta answered fruitlessly trying to wipe off the fine white powder from his arms. His brother understood is distress and just laugh.
“Don't worry about trying to get neat little brother. I have a feeling you’ll make us a profit looking like that. It starts at 3 pm so make you are there by 2 pm to set up.” He didn't let Peeta answer as he laughed walking back into the bakery. With a huff that moved rebellious curls at the top of his head, Peeta was determined to clean up before the farmer’s market.
As luck would have it though, there was no chance at all to wash up before the market. The bakery was busy all day, people constantly coming in to pick up orders large and small. Mitch said he was already improving the business, Peeta didn’t believe him.
So he displayed the bread carefully on the table, putting hibiscus flowers around the baskets, trying to make it look prettier, conscious of what a mess he felt. The farmers market quickly filled out with locals and tourists alike and soon his table was constantly crowded with people looking at what he had to offer. He scanned around him looking at the jam vendor, honey vendor and someone cracking open fresh coconuts to an excited crowd. For some reason at this moment he felt more like he belonged as he got friendly smiles from the buyers, seeing children running around and friends being reunited. This was nice. Maybe if he sold everything off early he could wander the other booths and see what else was out there.
Peeta was just passing over his last loaf of sweet bread when he saw tiny hands gripping his table and grey eyes of a child barely large enough to look over staring at him.
“Hi there,” he said softly bending down to take a closer look. It was a little girl with hair neatly combed into two braids, wearing a simple red gingham dress that looked handmade. She didn’t look to be more than three or four years old, and only giggled at him curling her bare feet but didn’t say anything.
“Where’s your mother?” He asked, more to himself as he scanned around and she shook her head. But nobody around seemed concerned by the little girl staring at him with wide eyes. He didn’t know what to do. He wasn’t sure if he should leave his post, but this little girl seemed obviously separated from her family.
“Well would you like to have a cookie?” He asked her and she squeaked out a “yes.”
“Why don’t you sit right here, and don’t move.” He gave her a chocolate chip cookie almost as big as her head and lifted her onto his folding chair. Giving a quick glance he went to the old man that was cutting coconuts.
“Hi Sir. Mr. Abernathy isn’t it? Do you know who’s child that is,” he said pointing to the girl who was swinging her legs humming to herself as she nibbled her treat.
“Call me Haymitch, boy. I have no time for fancy surnames. And that’s Katniss’ kid Lili. She’s working the booth around the other side of that fancy grocery store.” He couldn’t imagine there being more than one Katniss on the island, and understood what his brother meant by him having no chance. Not that he was going to ever try, but he felt like an idiot anyway. A girl like her wouldn’t be available for long.
“Can you look after my booth for a minute while I take her?”
“Sure sure kid. Just don’t take to long.”
Once Peeta used Lili’s name and told her he was taking her to her mommy, the little girl smiled greatly and climbed off the chair, dropping the long forgotten cookie. She reached up for his hand and after blinking for a moment, he grabbed it in his own. It felt so tiny in his big one, felt like he totally encompassed it, but she stared at him with such trust he felt like he never wanted to let it go until she was safe.
He swung her hand, making her giggle again as they wove through the booths, keeping a sharp eye for that brown braid he came so familiar with. Sure enough, after he passed the large grocery only meant for the wealthy tourists, was a table filled with foreign fruit, and Katniss with another girl was helping serve customers. She turned around after stuffing money in a box, and smiled when she met his eyes, until she looked down and her eyes widened. Swiftly she came round table and picked up the slight girl into her arms. He wiped his hand against his palm awkwardly, feeling the loss of that tiny hand.
“What are you doing with Lili?” She asked harshly and he stepped back instinctively at the fire in her eyes.
“Sorry, she ummm… was at my booth and Mr… Haymitch told me who she was.”
“He’s an angel mama!” Lili said, her first full sentence, and Katniss visibly relaxed, giving a low chuckle that made his skin burst in goosebumps.
“No he isn’t baby. I’m sorry Peeta, she just means everything to me. I just don’t know why she’s…” But something clicked in her head mid sentence. “Where is your booth?”
“Just over there.” He pointed, and she swung around to the girl at the table.
“Annie can you watch Lili for a moment?” She put her daughter down gently before saying to Peeta, “Show me,” not bothering to wait for him.
Peeta quickly discovered it was very hard to keep up with an angry woman in a crowded market. People moved out of her way quickly when they saw the expression on her face and when they didn’t she pushed her way through leaving Peeta to apologize in her wake.
When they reached his booth Katniss did a quick scan until she spied a nice taco bar, her eyes spitting more fire before she stamped her way past the nicely dressed attendants, not an easy feat to do in flip flops. She went straight to the bar area up to a ridiculously handsome tall man who had the appearance of a native islander if it wasn’t for the crisp suit he was wearing.
“What the fuck Gale!” she said in a deadly voice, knocking his shoulder, distracting him from a busty blonde woman he was talking too. Peeta would have laughed at the expression on his face if it wasn’t for the fact that Peeta was thinking maybe she would actually kill him. The Gale guy scanned the room quickly at a level that said he was looking for a small child.
“Lili..” He gulped before she pushed his shoulder again, causing everyone in the bar to turn around.
“Lili is with Annie at the booth right now, safe and sound no thanks to you. What the hell were you thinking taking her to a bar in the middle of the day? You said you changed.”
“Hey I was just getting one drink before we went to see you. What’s the big deal?” The sound of incomprehensible anger seemed to make everyone take a step back except for Gale who stared defiantly down at her. She did take a swing at him then, but he grabbed her wrist tightly causing her to visibly wince. Peeta stepped forward then, gripping Gale’s own wrist until he was forced to let go, and stepped between them.
“Who is this haole? Are you fucking him?” He spit out. Now Peeta knew what his brother meant about that term being used in a derogatory manner.
“THIS is Peeta. And he is only the kind man who found our daughter wandering around the farmer’s market.”
“I think THIS is a man you are fucking behind my back,” he yelled back.
“There is no going behind your back,” she yelled back as she tried to push Peeta out of the way. Suddenly he felt her pressure released and he turned around to see her being bodily lifted by Haymitch, as she fought to get to Gale.
“All right hellcat. Let it go. We want to keep selling our fruit here don’t we?” He dropped her at the door but kept his arms around her until she stopped fighting.
“‘Ai kukae a make Gale. Just go back to Oahu and your fancy job Gale and stay off my island,” she ordered in a deadly voice before walking out the door.
“Come on kid,” said Haymitch with the nod of his head. Peeta followed, stunned at what he had just been apart of, only looking briefly back to see Gale’s jaw tighten out of anger, but there almost looked to be fear in his eyes at Haymitch.
“Hey kid, take her back to her booth. And make sure she gets there. I’ll watch your booth.”
“I’m fine, Uncle, I don’t need a babysitter,” Katniss, answered, her arms crossed tightly against her body. Peeta gulped and tried not to look at how she made her breasts pop doing that.
“This is not room for argument. Now go before you lose your booth here.” She just scoffed and and turned around, her braid almost flicking him in the face. He grabbed a couple of buns from his basket before running after her.
“Hey Katniss, wait up, are you okay?” He asked, catching up to her.
“I’m fine, it’s just Gale, he makes me so damn mad. Look you can go back to your booth, I didn’t mean to drag you into this.”
“Hey, I’m used to family fights. At least I’m not the middle of this one.” She stopped suddenly and gave him a hard look, and he could curse for saying too much. “Anyway I wanted to give you this, it’s a cheese bun. It’s my go to treat when I’m feeling bad. Never fails.” Her eyebrow lifted in a skeptical look as his hand just hung there, and he pleaded silently that she would accept it, and his friendship too.
He could tell she visibly softened, her shoulders relaxed and she looked less like she was ready to start a fight. Finally she took it from him with a small thanks. He held his breath as she took a big breath, and he started to feel dizzy when a look of ecstasy settled on her face. Her eyes rolled back as she licked her lips, and gave a low hum of satisfaction.
“Oh Peeta, this is so good. I think your perfect buns could solve the world’s problems.” He eyes popped at what she said and it took all the willpower not to adjust his very tight pants.
“Yeah well I better start making more then,” he said rubbing the back of his neck, and they both started to laugh, and boy it felt good to laugh with her. She wiped her eyes and they continued walking.
“Boy I needed that. Lili’s dad is such an okole puka, he drives me crazy.” He gave her a questioning glance and she smiled, shaking her head.
“I forget you’ve only been here a few weeks. That means ass hole. Don’t forget that word. I’m sure you’ll have plenty of reason to use it.”
“So I take it you aren’t together?” He asked carefully.
Her mouth set in a grim line and she nodded no, not looking at him. He felt guilty at his relief and a twinge of jealousy at how sad she looked about it.
They just reached the booth and Lili came running up to them. Katniss’ smile was so bright when she swept her daughter in her arms. Peeta ached at the sight of Katniss making funny faces at her daughter, and the child but her small hands on her mom’s cheeks as she giggled.
“Peeta, come and pick some fruit. Let me return the favor for, well everything.” They walked over to her table and she introduced him to Annie, her friend who had startling green eyes and seemed more shy than even Lili. Katniss told him to pick anything he wanted but he stalled when he couldn’t figure out what he was even looking at. It was all strange, the only thing that was possibly familiar was mango.
He looked up with startled eyes making Annie and Katniss laugh like they expected him to be confused as he was. “What is all this may I ask?” He asked politely.
This time it was Annie who spoke up. “This is star fruit, lychee, guava, mango, rambutan, dragon fruit and lilikoi.”
“Like my name!” Declared Lili.
“Exactly like your name,” Katniss answered pinching her belly. “Annie, give him one of everything and then he can come back and then he could tell me what he thinks,” she said giving him a wink.
“I certainly will. Well I better get back to my table. Haymitch is watching it.” She snorted at that. He waved as he left and they all waved in return. When he got back to his stall he smiled goofily at Haymitch who only shook his head, grumbling under his breath about stupid kids as he went back to chopping coconuts. Minus the Gale dude, this felt like his best day on the island so far.
Peeta spent a lot of time on the internet looking up the fruit Katniss gave him. But once he tried each of the fruit, inspiration hit him to use them in the baked goods. They were on a tropical island after all, they should at least make tropical desserts. He looked up recipes all night until he realized he only had three hours before he had to get up for work.
The next day he asked his brother if he could go with Bristel to the farmers market and excitedly told him his idea. Mitch smile was so proud it reminded him of his father and the energy from that alone made him forget he barely had any sleep the night before.
He was disappointed that only Annie was at the table but she greeted him so warmly, like he was an old friend, that it made him feel good anyway. He filled a basket with every variety of fruit she had and got to work experimenting when he wasn’t working at the bakery.
A couple of days later he was doing his scheduled sweeping of the front porch enjoying the cool breeze and feeling more relaxed than he had in a long time. He looked up in to see Katniss, walking at a leisurely pace through the parking lot, actually slightly early for once. She was wearing a tank and shorts like usual, but like usual she was stunning. And to his great pleasure and surprise she came up to him to say hello instead of going straight into Sae’s like she usually did.
“Hi Peeta!” she waved with a smile as her braid flicked behind her. He gulped realizing that was the first time he ever seen her lips turn up so beautifully. “Annie told me you came by the booth. I’m happy you not only liked it, but that you bought more.”
“Yeah, I’ve never had anything like them.” He answered, feeling his cheeks going red. He didn’t tell her what he was going to use them for because he couldn’t wait to surprise her. Their conversation turned to other things and ended up making her extra late to work but she didn’t seem to mind at all. After that, it was a ritual for her to come and talk to him before she went in (making sure not to be so late as the first time.) It was never anything serious, but he felt like he had an actual friend in her. Every time Peeta would come back in, Mitch only shook his head, but he looked happy to see his brother starting to finally adjust to the island life.
Peeta didn’t want to admit it, but he was starting the enjoy the island life. It was a different routine than his old one, but it was a nice one. He liked seeing the big smile on his brothers face every morning, different from the grim one he used to see. He liked the freedom to be creative in the bakery he was never allowed to before. And he liked being greeted by now familiar faces wherever he went in their small little part of the world.
He started to take turns with Bristel manning the farmers markets, making sure he did it when Katniss was working also so they could meet up after to chat. Lili was always with her, but he didn’t mind at all, in fact he loved talking to her. The girl had the biggest imagination and her sweet smiles always seemed to make his day as happy as Katniss’ smokey voice.
The first time he finally shared one of his experiments with her, he actually dropped it he was so nervous his hand was shaking as he was about to put it in hers. Luckily she had lightning quick reflexes as she caught it before it fell to the floor, joking that with a little girl you learn to be real quick. And when she bit into the coconut cookies with dragon fruit fillings, nothing would beat the passion on her face as she took that first bite.
Her only regret, she said, was that she couldn’t share it with more people. After that, he would bring to Sae’s each new experiment, bringing his brother along so they could all try together – Star fruit cream tart, lilikoi chiffon pie, lychee sorbet with macadamia cookies, puff pastries filled with guava and pineapples. Every single one of them was met with acclaim but the lilikoi chiffon pie was everyone’s favorite, especially Lili’s. “I’m naming it ‘Lili’s Lilikoi Pie’ he said wiping her face of the extra filling slathered all over it. She giggled, obviously very pleased with the name.
One day he was setting up at the market and everyone was saying hello to him by name, asking him how it was going. Even Haymitch gave him a gruff nodd. And he realized that suddenly he had a community around him. He didn’t feel like a visitor so much anymore.
“Peeta, I think you need to start selling more of these desserts. You keep running out, and you end up just sharing most of it with us,” Katniss said one day, sitting at the bakery counter, slim bare legs swinging on a stool. She took a big bite of Lili’s pie, before humming in happiness. If only she knew what that humming did to him.
“Yeah, but fruit is expensive and I don’t want the prices to be hiked up at the bakery,” he said, trying to think of ways to keep cost down.
“Well you can always ask me to lower my prices,” Katniss answered giving him an exasperated look.
“Look my family has an orchard where I get the fruit from,” she said interrupting him. “I can’t sell nearly enough fruit as is grown. You’ll be helping me out to be honest. Why don’t you come over after work. And stay for dinner… if you like.” She said the last works quietly looking bashful.
He gulped before answering, just realizing how much he wanted to spend more time with her. “Yeah,” he answered his voice a little too high. “Umm, yes, I think that would be a great idea.
Peeta never was more nervous in his life as he walked to Sae’s restaurant. He ran his fingers through his hair trying to calm it down, only causing more havoc to his curls. With the heat and humidity, no amount of gel was able to control his hair now. And he was caked in flour from working all day. He was an absolute mess, something he strived for years not to be.
“Hey Peeta!” was the greeting from multiple people as he entered the restaurant. Katniss turned around with a wide smile on her face. She looked so beautiful in a soft if worn blue dress, her hair down and out of its usual braid, that he felt like he would faint. Sae shooed them out so fast she didn’t even have time to take off her apron, as the old lady said she’d see them later.
“What’s later?” He asked as they made their way to her beaten up chevy silverado.
“Oh just a little gathering,” she answered giving him a sly smile. When he slid into passenger seat of the car, he tried to suppress his gulp as he saw her dress, slide up, showing a heavy expanse of her tanned thighs. Now was not the time for him to get a boner, he tried in vain to remind himself as he rubbed his hands up and down his own jean clad thighs. When she caught him staring, her cheeks turned pink but she didn’t turn away for a few heated minutes before she finally turned forward and turned on the engine. He was goner, that was for sure.
Katniss drove inland, climbing the elevation, until she pulled into a pitted dirt driveway that went for about a quarter mile. When they finally pulled up, a two story worn down house was in front of them, stained like all the houses, red from the clay Kauai was famous for. But there was a warmth to it, that immediately called to him.
“Come on, let me show you around,” she said popping out of the truck sounding excited. Immediately Lili came running to them, but she ran to Peeta instead of her mom, her new favorite person. His constant treats helped. He turned nervously to her mother as he picked up the tiny girl, but the way she looked at him, she didn’t seem to mind one bit.
They strolled through the property, winding in and out of trees and shrubs as Katniss pointed out which fruit each one bore. Peeta was surprised at how extensive her property was. Sure the house looked a little worn down, the weeds were copious, and mosquitos were constantly after his blood, but he absolutely loved it. She even had an apple tree, which she plucked a fruit and tossed to him. He managed to catch the apple one-handed as he was still holding Lili on his hip. She quirked her eyebrow as he took a big bite, not breaking eye contact until she picked it out of his fingers and took a big bite herself, wiping the juice from the corner of her lip. If he didn’t know better, he’d think she was flirting with him.
After a while there seemed to be no purpose to their wandering. Peeta put Lili down so she could run, and they followed her meandering path as they wandered silently behind her, hands swinging and skimming each other, so close to hand holding.
“So why don’t we talk about the deep stuff?” Peeta said, breaking the silence.
“The deep stuff?” She said looking at him skeptically.
“Yeah, like what is your favorite color,” he answered giving her a crooked smile. She snorted at that, practically rolling her eyes but he could tell she was amused.
“Green, like the trees around Mount Wai‘ale‘ale,” she said looking up at the looming crater, surrounded by its constant clouds. “And you?”
“Orange like the sunset over the ocean,” He said turning around so they could both look at it. She closed her eyes, letting the final rays of the sun hit her eyelids and took a big breath of the sweet air.
“That’s a good color too,” she said, taking his hand and they watched the sunset together, Lili’s small laughter the music that went with the beauty surrounding them.
They never let go of each other’s hands after that, taking their time as they walked back to the house. They did really get into the deep stuff then. Katniss talked about Gale, a best friend who became more. It was a relationship she would have regretted except for the gift that was Lili. She was jaded and bitter after her father died and her mother followed soon after, committing suicide. She barely kept things afloat at the tender age of 12 as she took care of the house and her little sister, but with the help of Uncle Haymitch, they managed. It was 8 years ago and he realized that meant she was only 17 when she had Lily.
He knew it was a special thing, it meant that she let him in. So he carefully told her about his father, how he had died just a month before he came to the island. He felt so lost when he was gone because he provided all the love and affection that he should have received from both parents. To his mother, he only was something that always needed improvement. He stopped her just before they got to the house, turned her around so he could look at her.
“Katniss, I just wanted to let you know, that my time here is the best time of my life. And you’ve been a big part of it.”
She lifted her hand and stroked his cheek, so much emotion passed in those beautiful grey eyes of hers. He could see affection, hope, and passion. Everything he ever hoped for in her eyes. She licked her lips and went on her tippy toes, and that was it for him. His large strong baker hands encompassed her waist as he bent down and meet those waiting lips. Her lips were soft pedals, the sweeter and more succulent than any pastry he had ever made. She moaned slightly as he pressed deeper, opening her mouth to him, welcoming the intrusion of his tongue. Peeta echoed that moan as he truly tasted her, and felt the moist warmth of her mouth for the first time.
They finally both stopped as they felt a tug on each of their clothes. “Mama I’m hungry,” Lili said looking at them with pleading eyes. He flushed realizing she had seen them but Katniss only smiled down at her and took her hand.
“Ok Lili-bear, let’s get some food in that rumbly tumbly,” she said poking her protruding belly.
They walked on, this time each of them swinging Lili between them, making her head throw back and laugh, her curls swinging wildly. When they just reached the top of a hill overlooking the house, there Peeta saw several bonfires set around it. He gave Katniss a questioning look and Katniss shrugged her shoulders.
“What can I say, when everyone found out you were coming, they wanted to come too, and soon it’s a party.” He couldn’t stop the goofy smile knowing that he was so wanted.
The evening was better than any luau you could find at a hotel. The food first of all was so amazing, he couldn’t stop eating it, from kalua pork, adobo chicken, spam musubi (which he was skeptical at first), taro, macaroni salad, and so much more. Peeta met her sweet sister, still in high school but telling her big dreams of becoming a doctor. He learned more names of the faces he saw at the farmer’s market and learned that “auntie” and “uncle” didn’t necessarily mean that person was related. He could already tell that Annie’s boyfriend Finnick was a troublemaker but would be a great friend. They quickly made plans to go fishing in an inaccessible part of the island. Even his brother showed up, giving him a big hug before moving to flirt with Katniss’ acerbic friend Johanna.
A guitar was brought out and soon old Hawaiian songs started. When Katniss sang while Haymitch played, it was so beautiful he wanted to weep. He swore that even the birds stopped to hear her. And then nothing felt better as the evening started to come to a close. The stars shined brightly above as he sat in front of the fire, while the remaining people chatted in small groups. What made this moment even better was when Katniss sat between his legs, and she took his arms to surround her. She smelled so good, like fresh rain, earth and coconut. He didn’t think he ever smelled anything better. They just stared at the fire, comfortable in their closeness and he started to become sad that the night would soon end.
“I like you like this Peeta.”
“Like what?” He asked putting his chin on her head, holding her a little tighter.
“Messy,” she kissing his forearm, then reached up to rub the stubble on his jaw. “A kama’aina. Like you belong here instead of that button up boy who first came in. You smell better too. ”
He chuckled before kissing her temple, which he still couldn’t believe he was allowed to do. “I gave up the cologne when I realized I attracted more bugs.”
She turned around in his arms and rested on her heels as she put her arms around his neck, bending forward to smell his neck. “Yup, definitely an improvement. You smell as good as the island.” She then took a long lick of his neck until she sucked his earlobe into her mouth. “And you taste just as good too.”
She stood up as he sat there dazed, knowing he would have fallen if he wasn’t already sitting. “Come on Peeta,” she said offering her hand.
He finally was able to focus on it, taking it in his own, and she hefted him up with surprising strength.
“Where are we going?” He asked as she tugged him along.
“Inside, I’m not ready for this evening to end.” Her smoky voice was going to kill him, that he was sure.
He obediently followed as she pulled him along, feeling like he was her slave, ready to do whatever she asked. They didn’t say a word, but the electricity surrounding them crackled. On the top of the stairs she stopped to peep into a small room, making sure her daughter was sleeping peacefully. She kissed her damp forehead, adjusting the blanket before she pulled him again and took her to what obviously was her room, leading him straight to the large bed, covered in his favorite color.
“What are you doing?” He managed to stutter out as she pushed him on the bed.
“I’m seducing you,” she answered as she kneeled in front of him. The intense heat in her eyes showed she was not kidding at all.
“Ok.” And then she laughed at that simple response.
She unbuttoned his jeans, never breaking eye contact before she pulled his cock out and stroked him. “Oh god,” came out in a shaky breath as he clutched the blankets, his eyes closing automatically. Her hand felt so incredible good as she squeezed him just right. And then his eyes snapped open as he felt her hot moist mouth encompass his head. His eyes popped open again and he saw that she was still looking at him, observing every reaction he made. She sucked deeply then, her tongue swirling around him before she took him in deeper, so deep he shuddered as he felt himself hit the back of her throat. She moaned then, deeply, like she was tasting the best dessert of her life.
She finally let him go with a pop, but started stroking him again, mixing her saliva and his pre-cum across his cock. Not too hard thought not too much where he’d come just yet.
“Katniss, I want too.. Can we… Fuck!” She laughed at his unintentional swear word that was so fitting.
“Yes we can fuck, but we just have to be quiet.” She stood up then and picked up the edges of her dress so she could pull it off.
“Fuck,” he said, softer this time. She wasn’t wearing a bra. Why didn’t he realize she wasn’t wearing a bra? He scanned her perfect form, her white cotton panties contrasting perfectly with her bronze skin. Her sexy curves, obviously softened from having a child, and breasts that looked like they would fit perfectly in his hands.
“Take off your clothes and lay on the bed Peeta,” she ordered, pulling down her panties, revealing her patch of curls. He never got out of clothes so fast. He more fell on the bed when he struggled with his shoe and she laughed before joining him on the bed. He laughed too, not believing he was in this position with this amazing woman. But then her hand slid down his muscular chest, swirling over his nipples and all time for laughter was over.
She crawled on him then, giving him a deep kiss, inviting him again to explore her mouth. He grabbed her ass tightly before moving his hands down to her upper thighs so he could pull her thighs apart making her straddle him. She started pulsing above him then, sliding against his turgid cock, lubricating him with her wetness. God, she was so wet.
“Peeta, I need you in me, please,” she groaned in his ear.
“Do you have a condom?” He asked her. Her eyes widened in realization and she shook her head.
“Just pull out okay? I’m clean. Please Peeta,” she plead starting to move over him again. His blood was drained to lower parts of his body so there was no way he was saying no. He grabbed himself and squeezed her thigh, indicating she needed to lift up. She did so, taking his hand so she could help guide him. And then he was there, feeling her split apart around him. Her head snapped back as she pushed down, and her tight warmth surrounded him completely.
“Fuuuuuck,” they both hissed out at the same time. And then she started to move. First it was up and down, sliding slowly up and down so she could feel every part of him. He matched her moves, slamming up while he gripped her hips. They did not once let go of eye contact as they went faster faster and faster. Soon she had to switch to sliding forward, stimulating her clit with his pelvis, palms splayed across his chest as she became frantic to reach her end. He gritted his teeth and his balls tightened, desperate for her to come. And then she gasped, a small sound as she froze on top of him squeezing him so tight he had to hold her tighter as not to release. She was so damn gorgeous as she came, hair wild down her back. Once she came to herself she slid off of him, and took him into her mouth again. It took less than a minute for him to come after that, and she took every drop of him. She slid up, as he caught his breath, and she lay across him, nestling her leg between his. They were sweaty and the room was hot more than from their recent activities, but he never wanted to let her go. So he didn’t, and soon they were both fast asleep.
It had been such a beautiful weekend. Finnick kept his promise and took them out on his fishing boat and they spent the day hanging in the open water, drinking beer and hoping for a good catch. They only laughed a little when he revealed that he couldn’t swim and Katniss promised to take him the next day to learn. That she did, taking Lili and him to Ke’e beach, a beautiful spot that was protected by the reefs. Swimming lessons turned into kissing practicing, turned into him just walking through the water as she wrapped her legs around him, while the already adept Lili paddled around them with floaties on her arms. Yes, it was a wonderful weekend.
But all weekends must end, and reality must be faced. That was on Tuesday and he walked into the back of the bakery after running for extra ingredients, he found Katniss and Mitch talking intensely to each other. She turned to face him, her face scorched with tears. When he reached out to her she slapped his hand away and moved around him, trying not to touch him.
“What’s wrong Katniss,” He pleaded as she wiped her tears, not looking at him. He looked for his brother for answers, and he shook his head grimly.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were leaving? That this was only temporary. Mitch told me that you already have a plane ticket for one week!?”
“Katniss…” He said trying to touch her again, but she pushed him away fiercely, reminding him of how she looked when she was mad at Gale. But this was so much worse because she was not only mad, but hurt, a hurt that was caused directly by him.
“I should have known it was too be good to be true. You’re only a tourist who came for a good fuck before you went home. Well honi ko’u ‘elemu. And if you need to know what that means, it’s kiss my ass!” She said before pushing out the door. He heard the screeching of wheels and knew that she was not going to be working that day.
“Fuck you Mitch. Why did you tell her I was leaving?” He said lashing at his brother, needing someone to blame except himself.
“Peeta, don’t you dare blame me. I thought she knew. And I love you, but you need to figure yourself out. Why do you even want to go back there? Isn’t this home enough? Aren’t I family enough? Because that bitch certainly isn’t. So fuck you if you think she is.” Now his brother was crying. He never cried, and he felt like the biggest ass in the world because it didn’t even occur to him that his brother was trying so hard to make this place his home, not just a place to visit. So he grabbed his brother and held on tight, apologizing over and over again, crying just as much. His brother held on just as tight and told him everything was going to be alright.
Peeta waited until sunset before he went to see Katniss. Part of it was hoping she had calmed down and most of it fear that she hadn’t. He loved her temper and all but she was scary when she was angry. God, did he love her and one day he would tell her he did. When he knocked on the door it was her sister Prim who answered, with a understanding smile, telling him she was up in her room. Lili ran up to him as he was about to go up and asked if she was there to make her mommy happy because she’d been sad all day. He promised that yes, he would do his best to make her happy always.
He took the stairs slowly, conscious of his heavy steps. When he opened the door, she was curled on her side, underneath the blanket, back facing him but he was sure she knew it was him. He lifted the blanket carefully, toed off his shoes and crawled behind her, wrapping his body around hers. At first she didn’t respond, but then she grabbed his hand and pulled it tighter to herself, pushing back until they were tight against each other.
“Stay with me,” she asked, a lovely sad plea. And there was only one answer he could possibly give.
“Always,” he answered back.