Fallen from Grace (Hunger Games)

68th Hunger Games


40. Hooky Part 1

    Honestly, she’d take the modeling job more than therapy. At that point, she was just as good as Careers. She hardly missed with throwing knives, her hand-to-hand combat skills have drastically improved, her agility went up, and she could handle a large majority of the weapons. Her body had even become more muscle than skin and bones. With modeling, all she did was travel around to different districts and different locations in the Capitol, wear whatever was thrown at her, and stand around with cameras in front of her.

    Emily would much rather do that. No one pried her about how she felt and what was the root of why it took time for people to gain her trust. People still stared at her, but not like she was a kicked puppy. To the eyes of Capitolites outside of President’s control, she was a regular person rolling in fame. 

    Summer in the Capitol was just as hot as Eight, if not dryer. It felt easier to breathe, but only slightly compared to grey and red district of factories and smog. The designer, as he gushed, reminded her that summer was a time for ‘fun in the sun’ and relaxing in the pool. So: swimwear, coverups, skirts, and sun hats were the primary attire for the seasonal job. It would be believable, if they didn’t pound down all the colorful makeup on her to appear ‘interesting’. Emily just thought it made her look like everyone else in the Capitol.

    Strange looking.

    The photographer had been thinking of where to do the shoots for each differently themed attire, some for the lesser side of the Capitol. And others for the high rise lifestyle. From pools on the roof to expensive spa day backgrounds, they traveled around for the photoshoots. 

    Most of the time, she felt like she hadn’t been home in a while. But, as her designer that WASN’T WINNOW said, summer was playtime. Everyone purchased more in the summer and winter than any other time of the year. So designs must come out fast and soon.

    The alarm went off in her Capitol apartment, given by the president for her stays, and Emily groaned awake as her hand smacked against the snooze button. She already agreed to modeling being her job as a test run and still go to therapy. Therapy . . . she already proved she was mentally healthy enough to walk around in public without throwing an angry fit, Emily just wished Snow would drop the stupid session for good so she didn’t have to stare at the annoyed eyes of her nameless therapist for an hour.

    But, alas. She had to go.

    Emily rolled out of bed when her alarm went off again and turned it off, dragged her feet to take a short shower, and took her sweet time getting ready. Then she was out the door. She let out a yawn, ran her fingers through her hair as she walked down the street of the shiny and clean Capitol toward her therapist’s office.

    Which, was located many blocks away.

    Least she had the time to collect her thoughts and bring up the emotional barrier. 

    Emily shrugged her bag on her shoulder when she glanced up for a better look at where she was going when she caught sight of someone looking directly at her. Familiar dark features, hazel eyes with a scowl, and scars on his jawline.

    Wait. Hold on—

    God, what the hell was he doing there!?

    Her eyes went hard and narrowed at the mere sight of him then took a sharp turn away from him. It was already bad enough that she had to go to therapy, no way was she in the mood to deal with the Eleven victor.

    There were too many people around, it was far too crowded to make an agile escape with all the traffic around her. When she glanced over her shoulder, Gryffon Sauntor had caught up with her. Damn long legs . . .

    "Fancy meeting you here," he mused, as if they were old friends and didn't totally—supposedly—hate each other. 

    "Oh yeah . . . Small world," she answered in a sarcastic tone and rolled her eyes as they kept on walking with the tall man just beside her, mimicking her smaller steps to not walk past her.

    "So I've learned," he mumbled with a roll of his eyes. Sauntor smirked and cocked his head at her, gazing down at the redhead. 

    "Didn't think you were a Capitol visitor of any kind," Emily commented. 

    "Pft," he scoffed, "Didn't think you were either."

    The redhead rolled her eyes at the man. "I'm here because I 'have to'," she recited. "It's stupid . . ." Emily added the comment and glanced up at the man. She felt he just didn't know how to leave her alone. Sure, he let her be after their second encounter during the Games, but he pried and poked at her until she practically broke apart in front of him. It was a miracle she managed to dodge him after her tributes perished on the first day to begin with. "So what's your reason to be here?" she asked.

    Might as well just brush the dislike aside and go with the flow, he managed to pull her out of therapy, after all.

    Sauntor raised a brow at her then shook his head at her and shrugged. "Same reason as you, Emily, dear," he chimed with a little smirk. "Because I 'have to', why else?" the man rolled his eyes and lightly nudged her with his arm. "Who says you have to be here?" 

    "Pleeeease don't call me 'dear'," Emily wrinkled her nose as her face contorted into disgust. "That's weird," she added stiffly. "And my therapist said so. Message from the 'all powerful president'," she mockingly said in a deep voice with her eyes rolled. 

    "Therapist?" Again he rolled his eyes. "They think you're too unstable? That's stupid."

    Emily nodded to him. "The people that were fixing me up reported that I needed help, juuuuust because I reacted violently," she sighed and ran her hands through her hair. "And made my sessions longer because I may or may not have tried to kill my trainers during my physical sessions." 

    They were reasonable. But it was obvious she was doing better . . .

    "Shame you didn't," he answered easily, shaking his head. "You couldn't have pretended not to give a shit? You wouldn't be stuck having to go now," he said, appalled, as if going to therapy and fixing herself was the worst crime she could possibly ever commit. 

    "Even if I did I would have had to stay here longer than I had to," she answered easily, her shoulders slowly beginning to relax more and more. With people around he wouldn't try anything. Maybe? Perhaps. "That and I don't talk to my actual private therapist. I stare at her when she asks questions and keep quiet. She absolutely hates it," she shrugged.

    The Eleven victor chuckled and couldn't help but giving her a dark glance. "Is it safe to assume, then, I got more out of you than she did?" 

    Oh great, he was being smug . . .

    "How sweeeeet of you, 'dear'," the man mused, now just for the sake of annoying her, and put an arm around her shoulders. "I'm honored." 

    "Do not touch me. Do not call me ‘dear’ . . . " Emily said stiffly, her shoulders as hard as a rock again by his arm around her shoulders. 

    "Too late," he shrugged, but still dropped his hand back to his side. "Do you enjoy your little silent sessions with your therapist, by any chance?" Sauntor asked, glancing up at one of the buildings they passed.

    "God no," she sighed. "I mean, I like that I keep things a secret from her. But I just don't like her and I don't feel like going through Career training either," Emily answered and pinched the bridge of her nose. "I wouldn't hate it so much if I actually liked being stuck in a room with a bitter woman for an hour."

    Sauntor pursed his lips a little, and nodded slowly. "If you dislike it so much, why don't you skip a day? There are more things in the Capitol to do than just sit around in a room and train." 

    Emily lifted her eyes in thought, thinking about the idea of skipping a day at least. She already said she didn't like being there and wanted to not go at all. What was one day? What would Snow do for skipping a day?

    What could he possibly do to hurt her?

    "Sure," she nodded. "Why not?"

    "Because now you're stuck with me," he chided, mildly surprised she agreed to skip. 

    Oh goodie . . .

    "Have you never done anything more interesting here other than therapy?"

    "No, never did anything here," she shook her head. It was a partial lie. She did travel around, but never did anything fun after the photoshoots. "After my things I would always go back to my place and rest the rest of the day," she explained and ran her hand through her finally longer hair. "Never even explored to see what there IS to do," she shrugged.

    The Eleven victor stopped a step ahead of her and watched her with narrowed eyes as she considered the options she had at the moment. "That sounds really lame," he declared.

    "It's super lame," she rolled her eyes.

    "Well, there’s shows: plays, musicals, dances; parks: normal and amusement; fancy restaurants; bars; tattoo parlors; indoor and outdoor pools; casinos - basically anything you can think of," Sauntor listed, dropping his hands into his pockets. "You just have to know where you want to go." 

    She pursed her lips, her eyes narrowed, and let out a quiet sigh. "Surprise me," she shrugged 

    "Gross, no, that makes it seem like I WANT to take you somewhere," he groaned, playful but serious. 

    Emily lightly laughed at his reaction. "Well you DID offer to whisk me away from therapy," she raised her brows at him in a teasing manner, her eyes reflecting the slight playfulness. 

    "I didn't offer, it was a suggestion," he corrected with a mockingly annoyed sigh. "Make my job a little easier here?" 

    "Surprise me," she said it again with a shrug. 

    "Okay, yeah, you're totally useless,” he responded. He started away from her and stopped at the end of the street. "Park it is, then," Sauntor mumbled, probably more to himself than to her. 

    "Soooooo why all of a sudden suggest doing something? What's your motive?" Emily asked as she stopped at the end of the street beside him.

    "Because boredom," Gryffon answered quickly. "And even I'm not cruel enough to let you endure another day of therapy if you COULD be doing something else," he shrugged. There was the offer, the invitation to do something, and not just an excuse. "You all think me heartless, it's kind of offensive," he added with a shrug as he made his way down the street, keeping to his usual stride without any concern that he was going too fast for her. 

    Emily couldn’t exactly be the judge of that. They didn’t have the best first impression on each other. The man always had a hard look in his expression, which made him out to be heartless, as he said. But . . . he did show some care when she blurted out the worst secret of her life. He asked who and whether Liam knew about it. Someone with a scowl permanently painted on his face had some sort of soft spot so microscopic to the public. 

    "Okay, fine . . ." she sighed. "You're not 100% heartless, but you're still an ass."

    "Thank you," he stated curtly with a smirk. "Someone finally gets it." Gryffon pulled a hand from out of his pocket and ran it through his hair, his eyes skimming over people's heads. 

    Emily rolled her eyes at the man and continued onward. "How could someone mistake your personality? You're such a charmer," she added sarcastically. Probably the most inappropriate person she had ever met.

    "I knoooow," he sighed dramatically, as if he'd been waiting his whole life to be told that. Except his sarcastic tone just about matched hers. But shrugging the thought away, Gryffon crossed the street when the light signaled them and waved his arm in a sideways arch, theatrically almost as they grew closer to the park. "This, dear, is the park that these airheads practically worship. Large playgrounds in some areas for their brats, a pretty lake with a grassy area to lounge over, little pathways to walk on, and the food venders who storm over here with their surprisingly not-so-crappy-cheap-but-expensive-food." Over exaggerated tour guide with a mock Capitolite accent, and all he was missing was the look to fit in. "Don't you just absolutely love it?" 

    Throughout the whole theatrical speech, Emily tried not to laugh. It sounded ridiculous when he mocked the Capitol’s accent, but it made it that much funnier.  "It's rather clean," she joined in, her Capitolite accent just as bad as his, "Is there any trouble to tidy this place?

    He smirked at her addition and nodded. "Why yes," he started in explanation, continuing forward with slight steps as to not get too far ahead of her. "At night, while everyone is getting their much needed beauty sleep, we come in and take out the trash. Anyone who lingered behind included," Sauntor finished with a nice little smile, innocent in act and tone. "Shame, too," he scoffed, shaking his head, "They don't even know what hit them half the time." 

    Emily lightly chuckled, her pacing matching his pacing. "WELL, gotta keep everything nice to clean," she shrugged and looked over to a fountain nearby. Okay, so the man wasn’t terrible. Although, they were in public, so he was probably at his best behavior so there wouldn’t be an witnesses. Even so, the redhead wouldn’t admit that he was somewhat pleasant to be around.

    Something must have been wrong with her . . .

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