Fallen from Grace (Hunger Games)

68th Hunger Games

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33. 69th Reaping

    Reaping Day came sooner than she had hoped. A whole year later. Another reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her and the Aldairs. Emily was escorted to the Justice Building with Phox in the front and another victor, Abir just ahead of Emily. The snow had melted, but there was still a crisp breeze in the early spring air that sent chills up and down her body. As she approached the colorless building, she caught a glimpse of Scottie prick his finger before he walked off to the eighteen-year-old section. Even with his connections, he still had no protection to avoid the Games.

    Emily pursed her lips as they disappeared behind the building and went through the back way and waited in the lobby with her mentor and Abir. She had her arms crossed over her chest and checked the straps of her heels, obviously uncomfortable being back in the horrid building. Abir peeked over at Emily every once in a while and Phox didn’t seem to care about her wellbeing. It wasn’t like she wanted the whole world to care for whether or not she was doing alright or not, but weren’t mentors supposed to come around telling her the does and don’ts of being a victor? Or checking if she didn’t kill herself? Abir had to do that job because “Phox was under the weather”.

    Really? Every day? For nine months since she came back from her three month Capitol stay?

    What a dick . . .

    Thorburn was in the lobby with them checking his pocket watch when he clapped his gloved hands together. “Okay everyone, out we go. Time to get this show on the road.”

    Emily let out a sigh and looked to the doors when they opened. The mayor went out first, then Phox, followed by Abir, and then Emily. The mayor sat on one side of the stage while the victors sat in their chairs opposite to him when Thorburn walked toward the microphone. Emily’s eyes searched for Scottie in his section and found the blonde man staring up at the Justice Building blankly. The Dark Days video played, practically white noise to her ears as she dropped her eyes and stared at her manicured fingers in her lap.

    “And now, for the girls,” Thorburn spoke into the mic. Emily glanced up at the Capitol escort then down at the girls in front of her. All with wide eyes, most of the younger girls shaking in their place, others had their eyes shut tightly and murmured under their breath, others stared ahead showing no fear but with their jaws clenched. When she blinked, she saw that same look in Liam’s face; staring ahead with no sign of fear but with a tight jaw to keep himself from shaking in his spot. “Velcro Combe.”

    Emily’s eyes fell onto a twelve year old girl, dark skin and blonde hair. Her green eyes were wide and her mouth half open in a small O. Another girl beside her with the same face had a similar expression and hugged the girl tightly. Twins . . .

    She pursed her lips and watched the twin girls separate from each other as Velcro walked up to the stage, keeping her eyes to her feet. The new victor took in a deep breath from her nostrils and had to look away before she completely lost it. She closed her eyes as Thorburn walked over to the boys’ bowls, her hands grasped together so tightly her knuckles turned white when she heard his heels click toward the mic again.

    “And for the boys.” Paper rip. A pause for small intensity, only the sound of her heartbeat could reach Emily’s ears. Her palms were sweating. Not Scottie. Not Scottie. Not Scottie. “Vulture Selkirk.”

    Oh thank god . . .

    Emily looked up toward Scottie and he shared the same relieved expression as her. He was safe. No more reapings for him. Though she felt sorry for the seventeen-year-old boy that was chosen, the redhead cared more for her brother-in-law being free of the Capitol’s grasp.

    Phox obviously didn’t want to go to the Capitol, but he assumed things. With Emily’s need for medication to keep her calm, he assumed three mentors were needed in case she were to clock out and deem herself useless for the year. The three of them waited in the train for their tributes in awkward silence, Phox wanting nothing to do with the meek girl he had low hopes for the year before and Abir being too uncomfortable between the obvious crossfire zone he was in between.

    The train began to move when Velcro and Vulture finally came around and off they went to District Seven. Velcro locked herself up in her room the moment she walked inside and Vulture being utterly annoyed that she ran off without hearing anything that the mentors had to say on how to survive the death trap arena they would be forced to fight in. Especially since Emily told him to leave the girl alone, that it was already a bad enough day as it was and hearing about survival skills would only upset her more.

    “Like you’re one to talk,” he said.

    “What’s that supposed to mean . . .?”

    “You think she’ll do what you did last year? Rely on the one with a higher chance of surviving while she does nothing? Yeah, I’m not going to lug her weight around and make the same mistake your ally did. Really, I’ll drop her the moment the Games start.”

    Oh shut up . . .

    “I’m guessing you did the same thing last year when you boarded this thing? Go lock yourself in your room and cry like a little bitch—?”

    “Enough, kid—” Phox sighed in an annoyed tone.

    “Really showed your worth, huh ginger? You know, maybe you’re not doing anything because you have no fucking clue what you’re doing with this mentoring job and you’re going to let us die like your husband did in the Games—”

    Emily suddenly shot out from her seat and struck him across the dace so hard he fell out of his chair and hit the floor like a ton of bricks. “Jesus, Emily!” Abir cried from across the room. She merely glared at the boy, her throbbing hand balled into a fist practically shaking at her side when she heard Abir walk over to her. “Okay . . . Emily. I think you need to vent somewhere else . . .” he said softly and lightly touched her shoulder.

    Emily brushed his hand off her and turned away toward the sleeping compartment. When she walked past Phox, she heard him mumble: “Fucking knew it . . .”

    She pursed her lips into a thin line, her brows furrowed together into a hurting scowl and kept on walking. Emily fished for her pill bottle from her purse and popped one tablet into her mouth and swallowed it down. She laid down in her bed and stared at the ceiling, waiting for the medication to kick in any second now. The boy was such a piss poor baby . . . but he wasn’t wrong . . .

    What he said wasn’t wrong . . .

    She took in deep breaths and the feeling of calm spread through her body and numbed the anger down. No feelings . . . no emotions . . . just calm . . .

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