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When he opened the door, her breath caught.

She wasn’t sure what she was expecting, but it wasn’t this¬¬—it wasn’t him.

Mr. Mellark looked a little older than her own 24 years, maybe in his early thirties—awfully young to have a house this nice. He was fit, with broad shoulders, a narrow waist, and strong arms. He also had the bluest eyes she’d ever seen, the color of the sky on a really pretty day.

She thought she saw those eyes travel up and down the length of her body, just once, and quickly enough to make her question if she’d really seen it at all, but then he was all business, opening the door wider and beckoning her inside.

“Katniss, right?”

She nodded her head and he gave her his first name—Peeta—before he went straight down to business.

“You good with electrical wiring?”

He didn’t ask it in the way most men whose homes she showed up at did—like he was doubtful a woman her size had any clue when it came to home repair. He sounded genuinely curious.

She nodded and followed him down a long hallway into a large living room area, with boxes and furniture pushed up against the wall.

He explained the configuration he wanted, the wires he needed to run through the wall that would serve everything from a 60’ inch flat-screen to a stereo system and video-surveillance monitors.

She quirked her head at that and wondered if he was paranoid. He didn’t exactly need to be. His home was secluded and hidden away in the hills, at least a couple of miles from the nearest neighbor.

She asked him a few questions until she had a clear idea of what he wanted and how she was going to make it happen.

“I’ll try and be done with the holes I need to drill by tonight. If your family…I don’t know if…” she stumbled over her words, suddenly conscious that she had unintentionally pried, wondering about his living situation. Her cheeks flushed, and she cursed under her breath, avoiding his eyes.

“I live alone,” he said simply, and when she lifted her head to look up at him he was looking right at her, almost through her, it felt like, with the intensity of his gaze.

He nodded once and then turned to leave.

X

By the third day, she was almost done. The project was more involved than she had expected. There were so much equipment to consider and she decided to route the wires in different directions along the house, giving it less of a chance to short circuit or for there to be a power surge.

With a huff, she stripped off her long-sleeved t-shirt, leaving her in just a tank top that was sticking to her sweaty skin. She glanced out the back door that led to the deck and decided to step outside for some air.

The weather was nice, with a gentle breeze that made the heat bearable. She rested her hands against the wooden railing of the deck and took in the beautiful backyard. Steps led down to a pool, and beyond that there was grass and pine trees that blended in with the surrounding forest. She inhaled the familiar scent of the outdoors and let it wash over her.

“Lemonade?”

She started at the voice from behind, whirling around to find Mr. Mellark pouring her a glass of the cool drink.

“Um su-sure, thanks,” she stuttered, suddenly aware of her short denim shorts and her low-cut tank top.

When he handed it to her, something lurched inside her at the contact of their fingers and she turned away quickly, gulping down the refreshing beverage and returning her gaze to the backyard.

He didn’t say anything for a long time and the silence started to unnerve her. Usually she embraced the quiet, glad when people didn’t just try to talk just for the sake of producing noise, and she was never the most expressive person anyways. But being around him unsettled her and she found herself making conversation.

“Your home is beautiful.”

“Thanks.”

The stilted conversation made her anxious and she peeked a glance at him from the corner of her eye. He was staring out into the woods, not looking at her. Of course he wasn’t. Why would he be looking at her?

Just as she was about to announce that she was nearly finished with the project and only had a few things left to do before she would be out of his way, he spoke up.

“I have a few more things that need to be done around the house if you’re interested. I’ll pay you your hourly rate. I figured you’d be more than capable for some basic maintenance and repair, a few home improvement projects, things like that.”

“Oh um, okay uh….”

“Is that alright? I’m not taking you away from any other jobs, am I? I’ll double your hourly rate, actually. You do good work.”

She gawked at the prospect of making twice her normal wage. She couldn’t fathom why he was so insistent on hiring her, but she wasn’t going to try and change his mind.

“Uh yeah, yeah I’ll do it,” she replied before he could change his mind.

“Great, I’ll make up a list of things that need to be done,” he said, turning without so much as a goodbye.

He took the stairs down to his backyard, stripping off his shirt and swinging his arms about lazily before diving into his pool.

She watched him for a while, mesmerized by his toned physique and the smooth strokes of his arms cutting through the water as he did laps across the length of the pool. She could feel herself getting flustered at the sight of his body, thinking about how incredibly fit and powerful he was.

She pushed those thoughts from her mind and then turned to go back inside to finish her work.

X

“How old are you?”

The question startled her. She realized Mr. Mellark had a penchant for sneaking up on her, despite him not having the lightest tread. She was always so engrossed in her work, and she was currently installing new light fixtures in all the upstairs rooms.

He gazed at her critically, his expression giving nothing away. He surveyed her with careful precision, his eyes never lingering or wandering somewhere that would give himself away.

“24,” she answered. Her heart rate always accelerated when he was around. She felt a flush coming over her that made her nervous and unsure.

“Why?”

“Just curious,” he shrugged. “You don’t see a lot of women in this field of work.”

“No, you don’t,” she agreed with him. It was just a simple fact. “There have been plenty of assholes who have made it clear they don’t think I’m qualified to be doing this based on my sex.” She let the bitter words escape before she could stop them.

“They’re morons,” he agreed empathetically.

The silence lingered and she was afraid the conversation was over. And she didn’t want it to be over. She liked talking to him. Definitely liked having his attention, getting to look at him, having him look at her.

“How old are you?”

“33,” he replied, and she could feel his eyes on her, but she turned her attention back to her work.

“And umm…you said you live alone…” She wanted to die. She could melt into the floor right there from the embarrassment. How pathetic did she sound? At the same time, she couldn’t help it and she wasn’t sorry she asked because she wanted to know. And she was even rewarded for her boldness when he answered without making her feel awkward about it.

“I’m single,” he said, “I work a lot. I inherited a business from my parents who both passed, so that keeps me busy.”

She softened. “I’m sorry. My father died when I was young and my mother was never the same so I know how that feels…not having…anyone.” She turned away, pushing back the emotion and taking a deep breath.

“Thanks,” he said quietly.

He stayed there, watching her work, until he told her he’d be downstairs if she needed anything and disappeared from the room.

X

Two days later he asked her if she wanted to stay for dinner when she was finished with her work.

She nodded and smiled and felt the butterflies erupt in her stomach.

She wanted to stay cool and calm, but she couldn’t help the giddy excitement that burst out at the prospect of being alone with him when she wasn’t in the middle of working.

She tried to tell herself not to freak out that it probably didn’t mean anything, that he just wanted some company to share a meal.

The food was amazing. He was a fantastic cook and his hotness factor skyrocketed. She had never had a meal so delicious.

But the conversation was polite and formal, simple pleasantries and getting-to-know-you stuff that put a bit of a damper on her spirit.

This is fine, she thought. It’s nice to just have the company.

“Are you seeing anyone?” He asked the question completely out of the blue and her heart lodged in her throat. She struggled to swallow and find her voice for a moment before she could answer.

“Um no, no. I’m not seeing anyone.”

“Huh,” he said, and shook his head with what she swore was the first barest hint of a smile she’d seen from him. “You’re young and beautiful. How the hell hasn’t some guy picked you up yet?” She felt herself smile and blush at his comment, but as the rest of the meal passed with nothing but casual conversation she realized he actually didn’t really mean anything by it.

Yes, he had complimented her, but clearly his inquiry about her relationship status was just out of curiosity, not out of any real desire or interest in her from his part.

It crushed her just a little, but it was nice to know where she stood.

When she left that night, she decided to put it out of her mind, thinking she had been crazy to get her hopes up over nothing.

X

It was late on a Friday night.

She hadn’t seen Peeta around the house all day—he had given her a spare key to get into the house when he wasn’t around so she could work.

She was just getting her things together when she heard the sound of keys in the lock.

Peeta stumbled into the foyer, tossing his jacket and wallet down.

“Oh good, you’re still here!” He practically shouted the words and she eyed him curiously. His eyes were glazed over and he was looking at her with a crooked smile, the most relaxed she’d ever seen him.

“Are you…drunk?” she asked with a laugh. It seemed so out of character for him—the rich, quiet, intense bachelor who lived alone in his mansion in the woods.

“Maybe a little,” he grinned at her—actually grinned at her. “Don’t worry, I took a cab home. I’m drunk, not an idiot.”

She smiled, reveling in the fact that she got to see him with his guard down, something she was sure that few people ever experienced.

“Can I get you a glass of wine?” he offered, making his way towards the kitchen.

“Oh um, I was actually just about to go. I’ve finished for the day.” As soon as she said the words, she wanted to smack herself. Why was she turning down the opportunity to spend time with him?

Luckily, he wasn’t easily deterred. “One glass,” he insisted.

“Alright, just one,” she acquiesced, putting her purse back down.

He poured two glasses of red wine and brought them over to the living room. She followed hesitantly, waiting to see where he sat and where he expected her to sit.

She couldn’t suppress the tiny thrill that shot through her when he got comfortable on the couch, gesturing for her to sit down beside him.

“So what was the occasion?” she asked as she sipped from her glass nervously, trying not to overthink or to get overwhelmed by his proximity and the intimacy of their positions.

He raised his eyebrows at her in question.

She blushed and fumbled with her words. “Why you’re drunk,” she laughed. “You don’t really seem like the hard-partying type.”

His smile faltered and he looked away. “I had a date,” he admitted, and her heart crashed to the floor.

She hated the sick, crushing disappointment that washed over her. Why the hell was she feeling like this? She had no right to be. He was her employer and he was almost ten years older than her and he clearly didn’t feel that way about her.

She took a deep breath and forced herself to act normal. “Oh cool, how was it?”

He laughed again and the sight of those gorgeous blue eyes gazing into her own made her catch her breath. “It fucking sucked,” he explained, taking a sip of his wine with an amused smirk. “I have to stop letting people set me up.”

She laughed, surprised by his honesty. “So you got drunk to make the night more enjoyable?” she asked with an amused grin.

“Basically,” he admitted, causing them both to laugh again. He sighed and leaned back against the couch after putting his wine glass down on the coffee table.

“Dating in general is just fucking awkward,” he said, running a hand over his face, quieting her with his admission. “The stupid small talk, knowing that you’re both putting on an act, trying so hard to impress the other person. I don’t know how it ever works.”

She warmed at his candid words, thinking it felt nice to have someone be so open to talking about how they really felt. She liked that he was confiding with her about this, that he trusted her enough to share what was on his mind.

“I know what you mean. It’s so awkward when you realize either this person is only listening to what you have to say right now because they want to get into your pants eventually or that they’re actually trying to peer into your soul and see you for who you really am are. I’m not sure which one is worse.”

He laughed loudly, throwing his head back. “That’s exactly it. It’s either just about fucking, or they want to force you to open up and form a connection with them. And if it’s the latter, it never fucking works.”

She finished her glass of wine, feeling the pleasant warmth flood through her veins. She leaned back against the couch and smiled at him contently.

“So what was the problem with the girl tonight? Was she just trying to screw you, or did she want to know all your deepest, darkest secrets?”

“I think she wanted to fuck,” he said casually, and the way that last word rolled of his tongue made something warm in her lower belly. “I don’t think she had enough brain cells for anything else. And it takes a lot to kill a guy’s boner, but her going on and on about her favorite reality shows really fucking did me in.”

She covered her mouth, stifling a laugh. “She did not!”

“She mentioned The Real Housewives and The Kardashians multiple times. I ordered three rum and Cokes to make it bearable.”

She buried her head into the couch, trying to control her giggles. “You should have played along and said you watch those shows. Then maybe you would have gotten laid at least.”

She wasn’t sure where this was coming from, why she was encouraging him, when everything inside her told her the idea of him with someone else made her sick. Maybe she just wanted to push his buttons, or to get him to keep talking about this subject in particular.

“I’d rather jack off than fuck someone I couldn’t even listen to for more than five minutes without wanting to blow my brains out.”

She burst into hysterics then, her face turning red from his brutal honesty.

He watched her with a smile and when her laughter died down he eyed her curiously.

“What’s the worst date you’ve been on?”

She hesitated, not sure whether to be honest or not with him.

“I uh…um…I had a date with this guy in college that fell into the first category where he just wanted to get in my pants. It’s really awkward when you can just sense that they feel that you owe them a blowjob or something at the end of the night just for picking up the tab at dinner.”

“What an asshole,” Peeta murmured, shaking his head.

“Other than that, I don’t have too many horror stories. I actually have never really been on that many actual dates. I’m kind of quiet, and my friends know better than to try and set me up with someone.”

She watched his face absorb this information, clearly surprised by how much she was revealing. It was the truth though. Her date with Darius in college where they had dinner and a movie and he asked to go up to her room at the end of the night was the last real date she had been on.

He was quiet for a long time and she asked him what he was thinking.

“I’m still trying to figure out how you don’t have a boyfriend.”

She shrugged, part embarrassed and part flattered at the thought that he couldn’t understand why she was single.

“I’ve just never really felt that strongly about someone before. And I don’t let too many people get that close.”

She realized the raw honesty behind her admission once it was too late and she tensed up, waiting for his reaction.

“Are you a virgin?”

She gaped at him with her mouth hanging open, shocked by his question.

“Fuck, sorry you don’t have to answer that.”

“No,” she admitted at length. “But I’ve only been with one guy. It’s been a while.”

She was surprised she just admitted that, but for some reason she felt like she wanted him to know.

His eyes roamed over her face carefully, drinking her in like he wanted to commit her features to memory.

“Do you think that’s weird?” she whispered self-consciously

“Not at all,” he said at length, finishing his wine and leaning back against the couch. He draped his arm along the length of it and looked at her carefully.

The longer the silence lingered, the more awkward she felt. She stared down at her hands in her lap, feeling the heat crawl up her neck. She chugged the last of her wine and cleared her throat.

“Okay, well I should get going,” she moved to stand up off the couch when she felt Peeta grab her arm to stop her.

She looked at him curiously and he tugged her towards him so there was barely any space separating them on the couch.

Slowly, he leaned forward and lifted his hand to cup the side of her face, pulling her towards him. Her heart stopped, her eyes darting down to see his tongue flick out and wet his lips just before he slanted his mouth over hers.

She sighed in bliss at the feel of his warm lips on hers. He sucked her bottom lip into his mouth, tracing it with his tongue and she opened her mouth under his to encourage him further. He possessed her mouth, his tongue invading and licking and consuming her until she was moaning and she could feel how wet this was making her.

When they broke apart gasping, they leaned their foreheads against each other. Katniss kept her eyes closed, still lost to the power of his kiss.

“I’m sorry.”

Peeta apologizing broke her from her trance, and she pulled back and looked up at him with a frown.

“For what?”

“I shouldn’t have kissed you,” he said simply.

“But I liked it. I wanted you to,” she said with a shy smile. “I’ve had a bit of a crush on you for a while.” She felt silly admitting that, but it was the truth and she felt emboldened by the fact that he had been the one to kiss her first.

He was quiet for a long moment and Katniss felt her chest squeeze tight with anxiety. She pulled back and studied him, but his face didn’t betray much of what he was thinking. He looked conflicted and almost sad.

“I think you’re great, and extremely beautiful,” he began in a conciliatory tone.

She frowned and crossed her arms in front of her chest, not liking where he seemed to be going with this.

“I just don’t think this is a good idea,” he added quietly.

She hated the pinch of rejection and disappointment that hit her. This wasn’t fair. She hated feeling like this.

“Why because I’m inexperienced?” she bit out, forcing herself to keep her tone calm. She wasn’t going to start screaming or crying in front of him.

He sighed and shook his head. “Partly, but not in the way you think. And I’m also too old for you.”

She shook her head in annoyance and frustration. “Great, fucking great,” she muttered, feeling herself start to lose her cool. She loathed the thought that he could see how much this upset her. “Well, thanks for that. I’ll be going now.”

She made a move to standup off the couch, but Peeta grabbed her arm to keep her seated beside him. “This is not about me not wanting you, Katniss,” he told her. “Believe me.”

“Then what’s it about?” she snapped, finally looking at him for the first time since he rejected her.

He was quiet for a moment, as if he was considering what he wanted to say. “I think it’s a good thing you’re innocent and inexperienced, trust me. But I have…specific needs and tastes, and I just don’t think it would be a good idea for us to get involved.”

Katniss frowned, trying to figure out his cryptic statement. “What, like whips and chains?” she asked.

“No,” he laughed and shook his head. “Not that I’m opposed to that. But I just mean...control, dominance, aggression...things I don’t think you’re ready for.”

She swallowed, her earlier anger and frustration forgotten at the thought of Peeta practicing those things with her. If the wetness of her panties was any indication, she was actually more than ready for that.

But she wasn’t going to beg him. Maybe she could show him that he had her pegged wrong though. Just because she hadn’t been with a lot of guys didn’t mean she wasn’t sexually curious. If anything, the fact that the sex she had had previously had never been earth-shattering made her want to see how it could be different with Peeta. And nobody had ever made her feel as sexually needy as Peeta. She wanted things with him that she had never even considered before.

She shook her head to clear it and then decided she needed to get home and gather her thoughts first and foremost. She leaned in and kissed Peeta softly, satisfied when he allowed it and didn’t pull away.

“Maybe I’m more ready than you might think,” she whispered to him.

And then she stood up and grabbed her stuff before letting herself out of his house.

X

When she got to his house the next day, he wasn’t there.

But that was fine.

She let herself in with her key and got to work. She was glad he wasn’t there initially. It gave her time to not only prepare herself for seeing him later, but to also focus on her work and get her job done for the day.

It was sunset by the time she thought she heard noise out front, but she forced herself to finish her job and not to check if he was home yet. She never heard the front door open and the next thing she knew, she was hearing sound coming from his backyard.

Packing away the things she was finished with for the day, Katniss quietly walked out on the back deck where Peeta had once offered her lemonade. She walked to the railing and saw Peeta standing there with another woman. He was casual, in a t-shirt and jeans, but the woman was in her bikini with a mesh dress thrown on over it. She was wearing high-heeled wedge sandals, a floppy hat, and entirely too much makeup.

She also had the most annoying voice and was talking nonstop about how much she loved Peeta’s house and the fact that he had a pool. The immediate feeling of fury and jealousy at the sight of this woman shocked Katniss. She couldn’t explain the kind of connection she felt with Peeta in such a short amount of time to feel such anger of the sight of him with someone else. The woman rambled on about how she hadn’t been there before, and it occurred to Katniss that she might have even been the woman from the other night, who Peeta had complained about being an awful date, but yet here she was.

Katniss had a sneaking suspicion the woman’s reappearance could have something to do with the kiss she and Peeta shared the other night and the fact that he felt adamant about them not getting involved.

She shook her head in irritation as she approached the balcony of the deck to get a better view of the pair of them. Peeta was seated on a lounge chair, wearing sunglasses, and the woman had thrown her belongings on the chair beside him. She was currently stripping off her dress to reveal her too-large breasts and voluptuous bikini body.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come in?” the woman called as she walked towards the shallow end, descending one step at a time slowly.

“I’m good,” Peeta replied curtly.

Katniss rolled her eyes as the woman proceeded to play in the water, splashing around and making asinine conversation. Finally, the woman got tired of the water and she got out of the pool soaking wet, sauntering over to Peeta like she was approaching her prey.

Katniss felt her stomach twist and she pushed against the railing of the back deck that made a squeaking noise. She froze in horror as Peeta looked up and caught her eye. But before she could do or say anything, the woman, who must have been oblivious to the sound, moved to straddle Peeta’s lap on the chair. She reached out and removed Peeta’s sunglasses and then proceeded to pull off her bikini top.

Katniss held her breath as she saw Peeta look over the woman’s shoulder, and locked eyes with her. She stared at him for a long moment, unable to look away and unsure of what to do. The woman put her arms around Peeta’s neck, but he was still looking past her, up at Katniss.

Finally, Katniss smiled slowly and reached down to peel off her own tank top. Then she reached behind her and unclasped her bra. She knew her breasts were nothing compared to the double-Ds that were inches away from Peeta’s face, but she suddenly felt like proving to him that she wasn’t as innocent and pure as he might think.

And then, because she couldn’t bear to see him touch that woman in front of her, she turned and walked back inside his house.

She got as far as the upstairs hallway when she heard him calling her name.

She didn’t know where she was going or what she was doing.

What the hell was she doing?

“Katniss!” Peeta called to her from down the hall.

Bizarrely, she panicked over the fact that she was still topless. She made an effort to cover herself just as she reached Peeta’s master bedroom, but he grabbed her and spun her around to face him.

“What the hell are you doing?” he demanded.

He was breathing hard and she couldn’t tell if he was more angry or frustrated.

“What the hell are you doing?” she shot back. “Go back outside and fuck your blonde bimbo.”

“Damn it, Katniss, I don’t want her.”

“Then why the hell is she here?”

“She’s gone, I told her this was a mistake,” he admitted, his eyes dropping down to her breasts.

“Why did you bring her here?” Katniss asked quietly, feeling very small. She attempted to cover herself again, but Peeta kept his grip firmly on her wrists, pinning her against the wall.

“Because I shouldn’t want you,” he admitted. “I shouldn’t be harder than I have ever been in my life just from the sight of your tits right now. I shouldn’t want to get on my knees and suck on your nipples and pull your pants to the floor. I should leave you alone, because you deserve someone that will go slow and be gentle with you, not savage and that’s the only way I can imagine taking you, Katniss. I want to bend you over and spank you and pull your hair and fuck you so hard you can’t walk the next day.”

He released her hands and shook his head as if he was clearing a fog. He stepped back away from her, his eyes still lingering on her body.

She stepped forward and reached out for him. “What if I want those things though? What if I want what you want? What if I want you to dominate me?”

He closed his eyes, his jaw clenched as he breathed through his nose. He shook his head. “No.” He opened his eyes to look at her. “You deserve better, Katniss.”

She frowned, furious at his stubbornness. “Fine,” she agreed. She wasn’t going to beg him. “I’ll let you hold out a little longer because you want to be the good guy, but I promise you this is going to happen, Peeta.” She reached out for his hands and placed them on her breasts, encouraging him to knead her supple mounds. She heard him groan as his thumbs ran over her taut nipples. “You’re going to fuck me, Peeta. You’re going to show me how good it can be.”

She stepped back from his hands and moved to go around him before pausing. She lifted up on her toes and cupped his face, kissing him fiercely. “And don’t bring another fucking woman here again.”

X

The next week she started to make a habit of getting to his home after she knew he had already left for work, skipping her lunch, and then leaving before he got home. She knew he was probably curious what she was up to and why she seemed to be purposefully avoiding him, since the last time she had seen him he was feeling her tits and she was promising that he would fuck her.

But she wanted to give him some time to really think about it. She wanted to give him the chance to miss her and to anticipate with every passing day how she would make good on her promise that he would fuck her.

At the end of the week, she was startled when she heard him get home in the middle of the day. She was packing up her things to leave when he walked in the front door.

He froze when he saw her, his eyes running up and down her frame. She swallowed thickly and then said hello to him like everything was normal between them, like she hadn’t made herself come every night that week to thoughts of him.

As she proceeded to gather her things and get ready to leave, he attempted to delay her departure with mundane questions about the projects she was working on around the house. She gave him succinct, professional answers and kept the conversation strictly on business. When she moved to head towards the door, he stepped in front of her, holding his hands out as if to stop her.

“Where are you going?”

“I was headed home,” she explained flippantly. “I’m done with my work for the day.”

He exhaled in frustration, running his hand through his hair. He seemed to be contemplating something in his mind, clearly waging an internal struggle with himself. “Can you stay for a bit? Have dinner?”

The way he asked her was so timid and unsure that Katniss felt something lurch in her chest. She was touched that he was simply asking to just spend time with her after the sexual nature of their previous interactions. She nodded her head in agreement and the look of relief on his face made her stomach flutter with happiness.

She ended up staying late into the evening as they got distracted by food and conversation. He walked her out to her car, and smiled at her adorably as he said goodnight. But before he could turn and head back inside, she reached out and grabbed his arm, pulling him back to her.

“What…” he trailed off when she got on her tiptoes and kissed him gently.

Then she broke away with a smile and got in her car to head home.

X

She hadn’t planned it, but she wasn’t upset that it happened.

She was so engrossed in her current project that she must not have heard Peeta come home. She must have missed him come upstairs and into his bedroom. She somehow didn’t realize the sound of water running was from him being in the shower.

So when she walked into Peeta’s master bathroom and she saw him completely naked, fresh out of the shower, water still glistening on his skin, she didn’t exactly try and cover her eyes.

“Katniss!” Peeta exclaimed, more surprised by her presence than embarrassed. He hastily reached for a towel, but he wasn’t exactly desperate for the cover and Katniss could see why. Good lord, he was pretty impressive and she wondered what he looked like hard.

“Sorry, I just…I…” she was still staring at him, unabashedly taking in the sight of his toned stomach and broad chest and powerful thighs barely covered by a flimsy white towel.

She took a step closer to him and he looked at her warily. “What are you doing?”

She reached out to run her hands over his chest. “God, I want to fuck you,” she sighed.

“Ka-Katniss…” He seemed to be going for a warning tone, but his voice trembled and she knew he wanted her as much as she wanted him.

She slipped her arms around his neck, running her hands through his hair and tugging at the ends. He instinctively pressed into her and she could feel his hot, hard erection beneath the towel pushing into her lower belly. “I’m not going to break, you know,” she whispered to him. “I want you.”

He didn’t say anything but he responded in earnest when she slanted her mouth over his and kissed him. His hands went to her ass and he squeezed purposefully and pulled her firmly against him. He slipped his tongue into her mouth and she sighed happily.

He bit down on her bottom lip gently and ran his hand through her hair, pulling her loose braid free so he could tug at her strands. She gasped as he pulled her hair enough to force her head back. It didn’t hurt, but the pressure was amazing and she felt the thrumming of her clit double in response to him taking control.

He was breathing so hard, practically panting, and she could feel all his pent-up energy and tension in his body that he was working so hard to restrain. She was so incredibly turned on as he trailed his nose up the column of her throat, following the same path back down her neck with the tip of his tongue.

“What are you doing to me, Katniss?” He whispered. “I’ve never made love to anyone in my life. I’ve never fucked gently or sweetly or reverently. But with you, I want to do those things almost as much, if not more, as I want to bend you over and fuck you hard enough that you’ll be sore for a week. I want to force you to your knees to make you choke on my cock and I want to lay you down in bed and kiss every goddamn inch of your perfect olive skin, and lick your pussy until you come over and over again.”

She was whimpering now, completely undone by his words. She was clutching his shoulders for support, her fingernails digging into his skin, but he didn’t seem to mind.

He reached down between her legs and cupped her mound, the pressure against her clit making her cry out in relief. “Every time I look at you my heart feels like it’s going to burst.” His voice was ragged now, conflicted but honest and raw. “I don’t know how to do this.”

She dragged her eyes up to meet his, licking her lips and trying to control her breathing.

“We can figure it out together,” she promised. “I don’t know either obviously, but I know that I want those things you said. I want all of them.” She took a deep shaky breath and added, “I want you to do whatever you want with me, Peeta.”

He groaned at those words, putting more pressure against her sex and rubbing her clit just right. She jutted her hips against his hand, searching for that perfect friction and getting lost in the pleasure.

And like a cold glass of water being poured over her, Peeta pulled his hand away and took a step back. It took her a moment to come out of her lust-induced haze and she stared at him in confusion, at a lost for words.

“We can’t do anything until I figure out what this is, Katniss. I’m not going to start something with you without knowing for damn sure what’s going on between us. You’re too important for that. You’re not just some random girl to me.”

She stared at him in disbelief, convinced he was kidding. How could he just stop what they were doing? Didn’t he feel the undeniable passion between them? Wasn’t he completely powerless to the sexual attraction that hovered between them, like she was?

She shook her head in frustration. “There’s nothing to figure out. I want you. You want me. That’s all that matters.”

He shook his head. “There is a hell of a lot more between us than just that and you know it.”

She felt her stomach twist with an odd combination of nerves and a twinge of excitement. She was partly scared and partly happy to hear Peeta admit what she had been unsure of admitting to even herself. She cared about him. She liked him. And as much as she wanted to fuck him, she knew it wouldn’t be just be sex between the two of them for very long.

“Okay,” she relented. “But figure it out sooner rather than later. I’m not going to wait around just to get hurt.”

She gathered her resolve and then forced herself to turn and walk away from the sight of Peeta Mellark wearing nothing but a towel.

X

The next few days of work when Katniss showed up at Peeta’s house passed in strained, awkward silence. Neither one of them knew what to say to each other or how to act around one another. Katniss felt too nervous at the prospect of something real actually happening between them so she didn’t want to push it. And Peeta was clearly just as conflicted as he tried to figure out what exactly was between them. She caught him staring at her when she was working more than once and the heated looks they shared were enough to make her clench her thighs together, moisture leaking from her core. She was going home every night and touching herself to thoughts of him, amazed that he had awakened this sexual side of her when they hadn’t even given in to each other yet.

Finally, he stopped her before she left one night, grabbing her hand and pulling her towards him.

“Have a glass of wine with me?”

His tone was so solemn and the way he avoided her eyes made her stomach twist in fear. Suddenly, she was certain he was going to let her down easy. He was going to tell her he thought she was great, but that it would probably be best if they didn’t get involved at all.

She sat down beside him on the couch and shakily took a sip of the white wine he had poured for her. She realized they were in the exact same position as they had been when he first kissed her a few weeks ago.

“So…here’s the thing…”

She closed her eyes and shook her head. She was pissed. She hated that she was this upset and he hadn’t even gotten the words out yet. How had she fallen this hard for him in the short amount of time they had known one another?

“It’s fine, you don’t want me. I get it.” He voice shook as she tried to hold back tears. She moved to stand up off the couch when she felt Peeta grab her arm to stop her.

“I want you, Katniss. I want you bent over on your hands and knees, begging for my cock. I need to have you that way. I’m sorry if I can’t do the gentle thing right now. Maybe, eventually…you can show me how. I want to try and be that for you. But I need to have you this way or I’m going to lose my mind.”

She felt the air rush out of her chest. She slumped back down on the couch, relieved and incredibly turned on. But then something pricked at the back of her mind and she had to ask.

“So…what is this then? I mean…what about…” she trailed off, feeling scared and silly to say it out loud. “What about us?”

Peeta chuckled, a half-smile that made his face look that much better from the way that it contrasted with his sharp jawline. “Just because I want to do dirty things to you, Katniss, doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. I want you. I want us. I just need this hard and it might be too much at first, but I hope I can make it worth it for you.”

She smiled, allowing herself to feel the relief and excitement of his words fully for the first time. She leaned forward impulsively and kissed him.

“Don’t hold back,” she whispered when they broke apart. “I want to give you want you want.”

He exhaled against her lips shakily. “I want to make you come until you can’t stand it anymore. I want to fuck you until we’re both incoherent.”

She shivered, wrapping her arms around his neck to kiss him again. “Yes. Yes, please.”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” he told her, before taking her in his arms as he stood up from the couch.

He started walking towards the hallway that led to the stairs that led to his master bedroom and she tried to mentally prepare herself for what was to come.

X

Peeta’s mouth was on her pussy and she felt like she was going to die.

She had already come twice.

She was sobbing from the pleasure.

He had thrown her down on his bed and stripped her naked between kisses.

Then he was moving down to suck on her tits, biting and tugging on her nipples with his teeth.

She had cried his name in shock when he moved his mouth between her legs, licking at the wetness there, like he was dying of thirst. She had never had someone do that to her and she was overwhelmed by the sensation, by how frantic his lips and teeth and tongue moved against her and how she felt like she never wanted him to stop.

Even after two orgasms shook her to the core, he was still licking at her with tender strokes of his tongue, two of his fingers sliding in and out of her.

“Peeta…I can’t…” she whimpered, her hand in his hair, tightening on the soft strands as she couldn’t decide whether to pull him closer or push him away.

“I want you delirious, Katniss,” he told her, finally pulling his mouth away from her pussy. Through her haze, she realized he was slowly unbuttoning his shirt and pulling the belt from his pants. She took in the power and strength of his upper body, the width of his shoulders, and the flatness of his stomach.

She bit her lip as he pushed his pants to the floor, revealing that he wasn’t wearing anything underneath. She swallowed at the sight of his thick length, hard and long against his lower belly.

“Come here.” His tone was firm, but not harsh. He wasn’t asking her—he was telling her to go to him, and she could feel the rush of moisture between her legs as she forced herself to crawl across the bed.

He stepped back as she came off the bed in front of him, his hand immediately going to her hair, fisting enough to tug her head back. She gasped a little at the pressure he was applying. It wasn’t painful, but it hurt just enough for her to feel her clit throb in response.

“Get on your knees.” She dropped to the floor in front of him, his hand still holding on to her hair tightly. She gazed up at him, her heart pounding in her chest. He pulled her hair again so her head was tilted up towards him, and took his shaft in his hand.

Her lower belly clenched at the sight of him licking his lips before he guided his cock towards her mouth. She opened her lips to receive him and moaned as he pushed inside her.

“Suck it,” he grunted, thrusting into her as she hollowed her cheeks and surrounded his length with the pressure and warmth of her mouth. She moaned, reaching up a hand to grasp the base of his shaft and using the other to fondle his balls.

“You like your mouth full of my cock?” She groaned in agreement and she looked up to lock eyes with him. His gaze was intent on her, his eyes wild and dilated in passion. She bobbed her head up and down on his cock a few more times until she could feel him start to jut his hips against her involuntarily.

With some effort he stepped away, his cock falling out of her mouth, still glistening from her saliva. “Get on the bed on your hands and knees,” he commanded. She scrambled up onto the bed, facing away from him as she spread her legs wide and rested on her forearms so her ass was high in the air, offering herself to him.

She was breathing hard, her cheek flat against the bed cover as she waited for him to take her from behind. After a long moment, when she didn’t sense him behind her or hear him move onto the bed, she lifted up on her hands and turned to face him.

She felt a strong hand on the back of her neck immediately, pushing her back down against the bed, her face pressed into the covers.

“I want you to just wait there and think about me fucking you.” He was running his hand up and down her spine enticingly, one hand still firmly gripping the back of her neck to keep her in place. “I want your legs spread and open for me and I want you to imagine me sliding my cock inside you until you’re so wet it’s running down your legs.” She whimpered and jutted her back towards him, her clit throbbing so intensely between her legs it was making her squirm.

He moved his hands down to her ass cheeks to knead and squeeze them, spreading her open so her folds parted for him. She could feel the moisture between her legs at this point like it was gushing out of her, and she whimpered helplessly. With a sudden movement, he slapped her ass just firmly enough that the thought of actual pain never even crossed her mind, but the immediate response in her clit made her groan in ecstasy

“Again,” she pleaded as he slapped the other cheek and then dipped his fingers to trace her folds, never actually coming in contact with where she needed his touch. Katniss growled in frustration, moving a hand between her legs to find her clit. She was immediately stopped when she felt him grab her arms and press them firmly into the bed above her head.

“I said you had to wait, Katniss.” His tone was shaky and she knew he was as close to losing control as she was.

“Please, fuck me,” she whined, rocking her hips back towards him. “I want your cock so bad, Peeta.”

She felt him move over her, his hands still pinning her arms in place on the bed. Peeta settled between her legs, using his knees to spread her farther apart. She felt his cock press against her slick entrance and she moaned in relief.

He slid inside her slowly, the pace of his penetration in stark contrast to everything that had led up to this moment. “Fuck!” Peeta yelled as he pulled back slowly and then pushed inside her again. Once he was fully sheathed inside her again, he rotated his hips in a circular motion that had Katniss crying out and digging her fingernails into the covers.

“God damn I thought you would be tight, but this is unreal.” Peeta picked up a steady rhythm, thrusting inside her so his balls slapped against her skin and the wet sounds of them coming together could be heard over their grunts and moan. “You’re so wet cause I made you wait for my cock, huh? You want me to fuck your pussy until you can’t think about anything other than me inside of you?”

She gasped, finding it hard to breathe as her hips started to push back against him frantically. She was already so close to her release and he didn’t seem to have even let himself go yet.

“I’m going to make you come and then I’m going to fuck you so hard it’ll hurt.” He quickly wrapped an arm around her waist, groping at her breast as his other hand found her clit. He wasted no time rubbing tight, hard circles against her nub until she screamed in pleasure and clenched around him. “That’s right, Katniss. You’re fucking perfect, you know that?”

She slumped against the bed, her face and forearms pressed into the covers with her ass still in the air where he was pushing inside her. He moved his feet farther up to the outside of her hips to give himself better leverage, and then let go. Peeta was relentless, frantically fucking her at a pace that made her cry out despite her earlier orgasm. He grunted into her ear as he hit that spot so deep inside of her that she felt the pleasure nearly blind her. His hands were on the top of her shoulders, using his grip to pull her back against him.

“Oh, fuck, Peeta!” she sobbed, as another orgasm ripped through her and she felt his hips buck wildly into hers, until he finally found his release and erupted inside her.

He slumped against her, rocking his hips as he rode out his climax. She felt him press kisses to the back of her neck and cling to her body tighter.

She had a fleeting thought that she would be sore as hell tomorrow and then she closed her eyes and passed out.

X

When she woke in the morning, Peeta was watching her.

He smiled at her lazily as her eyes fluttered open, and he reached forward to push some hair behind her ear.

She smiled back at him shyly, biting her bottom lip and feeling her cheeks flush as memories of the night before came back to her. Being with Peeta had been even more amazing and intense than she expected. It made her heart beat faster just to think about the things he had said and done to her. She was so glad he hadn’t held back, that he realized she wanted to experience the way he wanted her without reservation.

She opened her mouth to tell him so when he leaned forward to kiss her quickly. The kiss was gentle and so different from the frantic, lust-filled ones they shared the night before. He rolled her onto her back so he was hovering above her body, using his forearms to keep himself from crushing her.

“Hey,” she smiled up at him.

“I’ve got to tell you something,” he said, and her stomach tightened a little in fear at the emotion and intensity in his eyes.

“Okay…” she said nervously, trying to prepare herself for whatever it was he wanted to say.

Peeta kissed her again as he positioned his hips between her legs, pressing into her just right. She sighed in pleasure and bent her knees further to allow him to get closer.

“Usually, after fucking someone where I’m in control I lose interest pretty quickly,” he breathed against her lips in a whisper. “I’ve never been with someone more than a few times and I’ve definitely never had any interest in lovemaking.”

She gasped as he reached down to knead her breast gently, rubbing his thumb over her nipple that hardened and puckered at his touch. She could feel him hard and warm against her inner thigh and she rocked her hips towards him, wanting to feel him inside of her again.

“Something about you drives me crazy, Katniss.” He started placing kisses along her jawline and behind her ear. She moaned in response, tightening her arms around his shoulders. “I want to fuck you slowly all damn morning. I want to look into your eyes and kiss you and tell you about how when I’m with you it’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before.”

He pushed inside her and she whimpered at how she could feel every inch of him sliding against her. It was just as intense and pleasurable as it had been last night.

“Peeta…” she gasped his name as he set an agonizingly slow tempo.

“Love hearing you say my name,” he said, grinding his pubic bone against her so it rubbed her clit just right. “Love making you come, love being inside you.”

She ran her hands through his hair, tugging at the strands and arching her back as the ecstasy ran through her. She was overwhelmed by how different this was than what they had shared the night before, and yet how it could still feel just as, if not even more, amazing.

“God, Peeta, yes, yes, yes….” she chanted her approval as his thrusts got harder and he went a little deeper. She wrapped her legs around his back and used her hands on his ass to pull him inside her.

“So fucking gorgeous, Katniss,” Peeta panted. “I can’t stop looking at you, can’t believe you’re mine.”

She cried out when she reached her climax, the sudden emotion hitting her and making her snap from the raw honesty in his words. He followed her soon after, shouting her name and collapsing against her body in a sweaty, heaving tangle of limbs.

She stroked his hair and held him to her breasts as they both recovered, and when he lifted his head to look at her she smiled and cupped his face. “I told you I wouldn’t break.”

Peeta grinned at her sheepishly. “I always knew that. It was more that I wasn’t sure if I was ready to break down and admit how I really felt about you.”

She smiled at that. “And now?”

“Oh, I’m a goner,” he admitted earnestly.

She laughed. “So all those extra projects you hired me for?”

“Complete crap,” he replied with a straight face. “Can you blame me though? I had to figure out a way to get you to stick around.”

“You could have just asked me out,” she smiled in return.

“Hmm…” he ran the back of his knuckles down her cheek, “I like where we ended up anyway, don’t you?”

“More than like,” she whispered as they locked eyes.

He leaned in to kiss her, and something passed between them in that moment that solidified what the night before and the morning had confirmed—they were in this way too deep. And they were both perfectly okay with that.