Fallen from Grace (Hunger Games)

68th Hunger Games

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31. Business

    Once the boys lived in Victor Village, the house became welcoming and livable. Conner insisted on opening all the curtains and let in all the natural light into the house; Emily felt far more comfortable in her own home with the sound of life around the house. It finally felt like home . . .

    Emily woke up one morning and slipped out of bed sleepily, she picked her shorts off the ground and slipped into it even though Liam’s shirt covered enough of her to not have to wear anything underneath. But, got to feel comfortable and proper. Especially with living with men. She went downstairs, running her fingers through her messy curls and immediately started on breakfast. When she opened up the fridge, she immediately noticed that she’ll need to fill it up again. She had forgotten how much food they ate when they had enough to feed everyone. That and with how full her cabinets and fridge was for the past couple of weeks due to her hardly eating, of course it finally reached half empty.

    But there was enough for their first meal.

    Emily heard slow thumps going down the stairs, followed by the sound of something sliding down the stairs railing at an increasing speed and landed in stumbling pit pat sounds. Emily glanced over her shoulder at Scottie with a wide smile on his face and hopped up on a bar chair and leaned over the island between him and the redhead.

    “Morning.”

    “Happy morning,” she chuckled and continued whisking the eggs.

    The soft footsteps that came down the stairs met the ground floor and turned around the corner into the kitchen. “Good morning,” Conner greeted.

    “Happy morning,” Emily replied and put the eggs on the pan. “Could one of you turn the bacon over? I think I smell burning.”

    Conner took long strides around the island and to the stove and turned the pig strips over with the spatula to the side. “Got any plans today?” he asked.

    “Go shopping for food. You two eat too much.”

    “It lasted this long because you hardly eat,” Scottie commented.

    “STILL eat enough to feed the whole district,” Emily raised a brow at him.

    “You seriously should eat more.”

    The redhead stuck her tongue out in disgust and shivered. Conner rolled his eyes at her and helped finish off making breakfast for the three of them. Eggs of the same portion of however they liked and smacked each other’s’ hand away to get strips of bacon that was strategically placed in between all of them. Emily managed to get the last strip and nibbled at it teasingly at the boys before she promised to get more when she went on her grocery run.

    Once their plates were empty and the three of them groaned with their bellies full with meat, eggs, and toast, Emily pressed her finger to her nose. Conner noticed her gesture and did the same before Scottie noticed and turned his gaze on his younger brother. “Dammit!” Scottie cursed. Emily stifled a laugh and Conner smirked while Scottie collected their plates and went his way to clean the dishes.

    “Don’t eat the house while I’m gone,” the redhead heaved and jogged up the stairs to go get dressed in appropriate outside wear. It was getting colder and colder each day and she thanked Winnow more and more for making her new clothes while she was stuck in the Capitol. Though she dreaded the idea of Emily wearing the same outfits more than once. The redhead slipped into a pants that warmed her the moment her legs touched the material, a frilled collar top with a jacket that appeared heavier than it felt, and ankle boots before she went downstairs with her pockets full of change. “I’ll be back,” she called them and out she went.

    Emily nitpicked at products she looked through and tossed the fresher looking edibles in her basket until it was too difficult to hold onto the basket with just one hand. The Eight victor carried two paper bags back to Victor Village when she noticed a black car parked in the middle of the street in between Phox and her house. Emily slowed to a pause to stare at the car, noticing the Capitol’s symbol imprinted on flags on either side hanging on rods. She furrowed her brows and turned to her house, then kicked at the door to knock while her hands were occupied.

    The door swung open and she noticed a woman in a black suit stand in front of her. Who the hell? “Uh—Hello?” she asked and slipped inside, the woman kept her eyes on Emily.

    “Em,” Scottie called to her, fake delight and caution heard in his voice. She looked up at him and read something was wrong in his eyes. “Snow’s here . . . He’s in your office . . .”

    The redhead’s heart thumped to a stop when she heard his name and took in a deep breath. She nodded and put the paper bags on the island in the kitchen when she ran a hand through her hair. The woman in black followed just behind Emily to the office upstairs. Emily stood in front of the door and stared at the wooden carving, taking in deep breaths even though it didn’t decrease her heart rate in the slightest when she turned the handle and went inside. The man sat in the office chair slightly turned toward the window staring out at the old buildings outside of Victor Village.

    The door closed behind Emily when the man turned his attention toward her. “Mrs. Aldair . . .” he greeted, his voice deep and lacked any warmth. In fact, the way he said her name felt appropriate with his name. “You’re looking better.”

    The redhead didn’t respond, her eyes felt as cold and hard as the President’s presence.

    “Though you’re still as unfriendly as your team said.”

    “I’m just . . . curious what interested you to come visit without warning . . . ?” she sighed bitterly. She probably should have held her tongue back. The man had power over her. He could snap his finger and have her family killed. She swallowed the lump caught her in throat and took in another deep breath while her eyes slowly started to lose its unemotional appearance.

    President Snow didn’t look at all fazed by her tone. He separated his hands from one another and took out a small vial and laid it just between the two of them. The white haired man kept his eyes on her, silent as ever and remarkably frightening. “Your stunts in the arena . . .” he began, “Caused quite an uproar among the Capitol. Your marriage . . . your all too violent behavior that frightened the audience . . . you taking out the tracker . . .” he continued on, “Your acts are seen as . . . well . . . defiance and challenging the Capitol.”

    They weren’t though . . .

    “You already know the rules that we can never show how the different cultures of any of the districts, let alone allow them to be heard. And you broke that simple little rule with your tiny ceremony,” Snow added and turned on a small projection. Emily’s eyes looked over and saw her and Liam in that rundown apartment tying the pieces of cloth around their wrist. The redhead bit back her want to show emotions for her late husband and looked back at the man. “You figured out what the trackers are for and made a fool of the Gamemaker and his team that helped make you and your husband popular throughout the arena by making yourself invisible. And then the ways you killed half of the Careers . . .”

    “It’s a show glorifying fights to the death . . . I did what you wanted . . .”

    He nodded, though his eyes didn’t show a twinkle of satisfaction. It was annoyance. “Not in the ways that you did them . . . burning them alive . . . skinning them . . . there is such thing as going too far . . .”

    Really? Taking lives wasn’t far enough?

    “So what do you want me to do . . .?” she asked. “Everyone saw the Games. I can’t just redo what I did . . .”

    And then his small lips curled into a terrifying smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “In the arena, you let it be known that you always wanted to start a family.” Okay? So what? “By having that out there, you gave hope for the Capitol that you would one day have children in hopes you find another.”

    Emily pursed her lips in a thin line and her eyes narrowed. How could anyone think that already? It hadn’t even been a year yet and they just assumed she’d be done and over with Liam’s death? Sure, it was hopes for the future, but it was her best friend’s death. Not just some man she hung around with. “I don’t think that’s ever going to happen, sir . . .”

    “I should hope not,” President Snow answered and pushed the vial to Emily. “This elixir should do the very job to in ensure that it will never happen.”

    Her eyes looked down at the blue vial in front of her and up at the man again. “And if I refuse . . .?”

    He leaned back in the chair. “Well, then the men living with you will have to go in exchange of your denial.”

    Emily’s eyes widened: concern, hate, and fear mixed into her green eyes. “You wouldn’t . . .”

    “Try me . . .”

    She swallowed down on the lump in her throat and looked back down at the horrid thing. Lose her chances of ever starting a family, or lose the Aldairs. Even though she said she probably wouldn’t start a family Emily liked the fact that she still could if ever. That the possibility was just around the corner. Emily took a step closer to took the elixir in her hand. She merely stared at the thing and looked back up at the terrible man and asked, “You won’t hurt the boys once I take this . . .?”

    “You will have my word . . .” he smiled.

    Emily trembled and uncorked the bottle. Her heart felt like it was being crushed and melted into her stomach like cold soup. She slowly raised it to her lips and swallowed down the sweet poison with her eyes shut tightly. The man rose from his seat and walked around the corner as she finished the last drop and lowered it back down to the desk. “It was nice doing business with you, Mrs. Aldair,” he said as he left the office.

    The door shut behind her and Emily was alone in the middle of the room.

    Tears ran down her face as she looked toward the projection of her and Liam paused in the hologram. It was like losing him all over again . . . Emily lost a future she wanted . . . a future with Liam, be her husband or her best friend, alive taking care of her two kids . . .

    This wasn’t what Liam wanted for her . . .

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