Fallen from Grace (Hunger Games)

68th Hunger Games

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39. An Offer

    “Meow . . .”

    Emily furrowed her brows and looked down at her feet when she felt fur rub against her leg. There she saw a black and white cat with short legs and a fluffy tail. The redhead blinked at the little furball and looked toward her office door, where it was cracked open and saw Scottie peeking through from the hallway. 

    “Meow . . .”

    “You got a cat?”

    “Weeeeeeeeeeell . . .” Scottie started and pushed the door open to go and fetch the munchkin cat. “It’s been wandering around Victor Village for a while and it often sleeps on the steps. I thought that we could keep it.”

    “I’m not your parents, Scottie,” she chuckled. “But your brother practically is,” Emily joked.

    Scottie narrowed his eyes at her. “Ha ha, you’re soooooo funny. You’re cool with having a cat?”

    “It’s been quiet around here when you guys are gone. I don’t think I’ll mind that thing meowing at my feet,” she answered as Scottie picked up the cat while the hairball tried pawing at Emily’s red curls. “It talks a lot though.”

    “Least we know we didn’t lose her,” he shrugged as the cat clawed up at the Aldair boy’s chest and balanced itself on his shoulders. “Wanna name her?”

    “How do you know it’s a girl?”

    “Nipples,” he shrugged.

    Emily merely blinked at him with her eyes furrowed in her judgemental look before she pursed her lips. After a long pause of looking up at him, long enough for the boy to chuckle at her expression, she sighed. “You don’t even want to know the first name that came to mind . . .”

    “You’re making me curious, Em . . .”

    “Meow.”

    “My words are forever mysterious,” she rolled her eyes. The redhead sighed. “Biscuit . . .”

    “You want a biscuit or is that the name?”

    “The name . . .” Emily looked away, looking with an embarrassed look on her face. Then she heard him snicker and muffle it behind his hand. 

    “Biscuit,” Scottie chuckled and looked up at the munchkin cat. “Biscuit . . .” The cat looked down at the desk in front of them and adjusted it’s paws on his shoulder. “Biscuit,” he repeated. The cat hopped off his shoulder and poked at the clock at the corner of Emily’s desk curiously. “Biscuit.”

    “I don’t think it’ll respond to it’s name on the first day,” Emily said.

    “I know. I’m just saying it out loud to see if the name really fits how it looks,” he shrugged.

    “Meow.”

    She pursed her lips and looked back at the cat. Its attention still on the holographic clock and poked at it carefully. Short legs, fluffy tail, long like a sausage. It actually looked more like a sausage with legs and and a tail. A silly name felt perfect for a silly looking animal. “Does the name fit?”

    “It definitely will be funny enough when others have to call it Biscuit,” he chuckled.

    “I can think of a sillier name if that’s what you’re aiming for.”

    “Biscuit is perfect,” Scottie laughed and pet the cat. “I’ll go and get food and toys for Biscuit then,” he pointed to the door.

    “Maybe we should take it to a doctor first. It’s been out and about wandering the village. We should check if she’s healthy before going to get things for her,” Emily insisted first.

    “Meow.”

    “Yeaaaaaah, that would be best,” he added and looked toward Biscuit. “I’ll take him to the vet. Think there’s any good ones in Eight?” the youngest Aldair asked and picked up the cat from the desk.

    “There’s bound to be a BETTER one,” Emily shrugged. “Really good ones is in the Capitol and you don’t want to go there ever,” she wrinkled her nose in disapproval. 

    “Yeah . . .” Scottie pursed his lips and nodded. “I’ll go find someone,” he said and walked out of the room.

    Emily heard Biscuit meow as she was carried downstairs and heard the door close. She looked down at her book she was reading by a Capitolite author. It was over-the-top, ridiculous, and the dumbest thing she ever read. But it was enjoyable enough for her to keep on reading. She spent most of her time reading books and cooking when she was at home. The boys continued to work, even though they didn’t have to with the lifestyle they lived. Maybe it was because they felt comfortable working, maybe they didn’t want to live off of Emily’s unlimited money. They never really fully explained why they kept going.

    She sipped her tea when she heard the door open again. Might have been Conner back from shopping. It was a Sunday and that was the only day everyone had off. Hard to imagine the districts were even allowed a day off with their evil president still alive and stomping his heavy shoes everywhere the light touched. She turned the page when there was a knock at her door.

    “It’s open,” Emily answered without looking up at the door.

    “I should hope you feel safe enough to not lock yourself in your office,” a deep and calm voice answered after her.

    Emily’s eyes stopped skimming over the page and slowly looked up at the white haired man in a dark suit. Just like his name, her body felt as cold as snow just by looking at him. She swallowed the swelling lump in her throat as she slowly got up on her feet. Snow saw the fear and caution in her eyes; his lips curled into a smirk as he walked into her office and rounded about behind her desk. Emily took a few steps back to keep the distance between herself and the president. Even in her own house, she had no control when President Snow was around.

    “Your therapist has been telling me you’re still not talking,” he said as he studied the book she was reading.

    She merely blinked at him, keeping her silence as always. Anyone she couldn’t trust, always quiet.

    He shortly chuckled at her wordlessness and examined the room that Emily had obviously decorated more to feel like home. A brightly colored blanket draped over a chair in the corner, some photos of the Aldairs and her on her desk, some fake flowers in a large vase in another corner of her room to bring more colors into the room. Basically anything that felt more like a living space rather than a room she’d rather avoid. 

    Snow looked at a photo of Emily and Liam when they were kids, worn and faded with years, in a frame. “Still won’t talk to me, eh?”

    “Don’t take it personal. It takes a while for me to talk to people . . .” she answered, her voice hard and hostile. Her eyes stayed on his fingers on the picture frame then up at the man when he put it back where he found it. “Is there anything I can help you with . . .?”

    There was an obvious reason for him to be there. He wouldn’t just drop by for a cup of tea and talk about the weather. He wanted something and Emily wanted to know what before pushing him out the door. Besides, what else could he possibly do to her that she hadn’t already done? She was going to therapy. She was going into physical therapy. She took the sterile poison to protect the Aldair brothers. What could he POSSIBLY WANT?

    “Yes, Mrs. Aldair. There is,” he started and took her seat. “Hearing that you haven’t been talking to your therapist, I’ve come to the conclusion that you don’t particularly care for it.”

    What gave you THAT idea . . .?

    “But, you respond better with physical activity than discussing your thoughts,” he said, his voice sounding like a low growl, but not the least bit threatening if his tone didn’t always sound like there was a gun pointed at her head. Emily wanted to make it known to him that she wasn’t the feelings kind of talker, but he must have known from the reports he got from her therapist. “So . . . have another offer.”

    Oh god . . .

    “Seeing as how you’re doing much better than when you got out of the Games. You seem healthy enough to not having to go anymore,” he went on and leaned in his chair with his hands clasped together.

    Emily tilted her head, her eyes sparkled interest in the topic. Not having to go to therapy was the best thing she had heard. But there was a catch. There was always a catch. “What do I have to do instead . . .?”

    “Not even close to trusting anyone either,” he chuckled amusingly. “Smart, though. My offer is that you take on a job. All victors have some sort of job. And last time I checked, your talent isn’t considered a job.” Emily pursed her lips. Dancing wasn’t a job, but it sure as hell was a safe talent she knew she could do to get the Capitol off her butt about what she had been doing with her time. 

    Snow got out of his seat and walked around the desk to Emily. She made sure to plant her feet in the ground to keep herself from moving away from him. The redhead held her breath as he got closer, and felt his fingers pinch her face and lift it up for him to take a better look. Her eyes avoided his as he turned her face, her body stiff and her heart beating at a dangerously fast rate. The president let go and Emily tenderly rubbed the spots his fingers pinched.

    “The Capitol has taken a liking to your looks since your Games,” he informed her as he walked around her. “While you’re not considered beautiful, there’s something about you that everyone THINKS is beautiful,” the man went on. At that point, Emily just wanted to tell him to get on with it, but being snippy wouldn’t be safe for her or her family. “I think everyone would like to see your face more. And I wouldn’t doubt you’d be unusually popular in the modeling business.”

    Wait . . . what . . .?

    “You can’t be serious . . . sir,” she added the last bit in a bitter tone.

    The president turned back to her with his thick white brows raised and stared at her curiously at her disbelief. “Oh, but I am, Mrs. Aldair,” he said softly. “You’re still popular amongst the crowd, your Games being quite memorable for them. They’d be absolutely delighted to see you around the city.”

    But she wouldn’t be delighted to see her face everywhere in the city . . .

    “So . . .” she shook her head and shrugged, “You want me to be a professional model?” Emily asked with a roll of her eyes.

    “Exactly,” he answered. “It might be better for you. For now, it’ll be trail run. You’ll still go into therapy while you do this job, I want to see that you HAVE, indeed, gotten better. Everyone wants you. They want you for fashion. For makeup. For beauty products. You’ll be quite busy and you’ll be called often for the jobs,” he listed off. “So when you get a call that you have to do a shoot, you go. Understand?”

    Emily pursed her lips and let out a quiet sigh, then nodded. “When do I start?”

    “You’ll know,” he smiled slyly. “Lovely doing business with you again, Mrs. Aldair . . .” The man left, leaving Emily in her studies again. But that time, it didn’t leave that terrible of an emotional scar like last time. But the president left her nervous and stiff like before. Emily finally let out a sigh when she heard the door downstairs close and fell into her chair in the corner. Another Capitol visit . . .?

    He should just say it out loud. The man wanted to keep an eye on her . . .

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