Choosing Fire

By Missy Amore —

The Rosie Blackest Band put on frenetic concerts known for their pyrotechnic displays. The finale promised sparkles and colorful flames that burst through the air. Pyrotech fans knew this promised to be one of the best shows in the country. Neely watched the stage crew with fascination from her vantage point. She selected her seat specifically so she could watch what happened off-stage. She could just barely make out the flash pots lining the stage, ready for their big finale.

On the last guitar riff, wild fans pulled black roses from under their seats and threw them towards the stage. Those that fell short of their mark were scooped up and propelled forward by hysterical women until all the flowers landed on the stage. Many of them landed on the flash pots just a minute before they would shoot out sparks and flames. Neely searched for the nearest emergency exit. Knowing what she did about pyrotechnics, she could predict this place would soon become a flaming death trap.

Except, a man dressed all in black darted around the stage and snatched up flowers seconds before the charges exploded. He knew where to grab first. Instead of working across the stage, he anticipated when each pot needed to be cleared. As the flames started shooting high, he expertly reached between streams of fire to snatch up the roses. The drumming music combined with the explosive bursts prompted everyone in the front row to cover their ears, but the man in the black tee shirt never flinched. Before the show ended, he had made a pile in the center of the stage and disappeared from view.

After the concert, fans rushed after the band for autographs, but Neely lingered in the hopes of talking with the stage crew. Soon the pyrotech guy who had danced with the flames came out. She ran right up to him before shyness seized her. Unable to make eye contact, her eyes darted about as she burst out, “That was so cool. I just loved the show, I mean the pyrotechnics were amazing!” She halted her babbling to shyly peek at him through her lashes. He was a full head taller than her, with olive skin and deep eyes. Now that she was close, she could see that his chest was broad and muscular.

He smiled slightly. “Look at me when you talk so I can read your lips. I’m deaf.” His speech was perfect, but with a slight accent.

“Oh,” Forcing herself to slow down and face him she invented a sign for fireworks and said, “That was amazing. I loved it!”

His smile broadened, magnifying his charm. “Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the show.”

Rendered mute by her shyness, she waved and hurried away.

Later, at the bar, the Rosie Blackest fans pressed together on the dance floor. One of Neely’s friends pointed to a table crowded with burly men dressed all in black. Her eyes immediately found the pyrotechnic master among the stage crew. He saw her looking, set down his beer and joined her on the dance floor. Immediately he picked up the beat and joined in the dancing. Neely didn’t know if she was more shocked that he approached her, or that he was dancing after claiming to be deaf. But dancing with a hot guy was not a moment to be wasted, so she shrugged and shimmied in closer.

When the music shifted from a pop hit to Nine Inch Nails, her dance partner was more in sync with the music than her drunk friends. She leaned even closer.

“I thought you said you were deaf. You’re a good dancer.”

“Is there music? I thought we were imitating peacocks in some mating ritual.” He bobbed his head and fanned his fingers in and out. The move was comical, yet graceful.

Neely giggled flirtatiously. She felt wildly alive for the first time ever.

“I’m Mario.”

She couldn’t hear him so she turned her ear towards his face. He leaned in, whispering in her ear, “Mario.” Shivers coursed through her body.

“I’m Neely.”

“Hmmm. You’ll have to write that one down for me.”

A spark of memory brightened her face. As a kid she learned to fingerspell. Her friends used it to talk through their most boring classes. She fingerspelled her name.

He kissed her cheek. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Neely. What do you say about stepping out for some fresh air?”

Neely eagerly followed him outside. He had an old boat of a car with scuffed, black paint. They sat on the hood, which made a wide, comfortable bench and chatted easily. Neely admitted that she only came to the show for the pyrotechnics. Mario told her how he got into his line of work and revealed a few trade secrets. When he spoke, he made her feel like she was the most important person in the world.

“What about you?” He asked. “What do you do?”

“Nothing interesting. I don’t want to talk about me. I’m boring.”

“I don’t believe that.” He brushed a strand of hair away from her face and traced a finger along her jaw.

Neely felt a pang in her heart. She loved the pyrotechnics for exactly this reason. She was a bore. She wished she could do something exciting, like put on an explosive show, or have a dangerous job. So, when Mario leaned in to kiss her she thought this was the perfect chance to do something exciting. Kissing a sexy, mysterious man, would be perfect.

He stood and pulled her up so he could press their bodies together. She felt excited and aroused. She had never been kissed like this. She had never made out with a stranger, but she wanted to. He bit her lip, then bit her earlobe and whispered in her ear. He did amazing things to the skin on her neck. “I want you Neely.” Her breathing became shallow and her hands roamed his body uninhibited. He leaned back and looked at her face. “Would you like to come to my apartment for them most sensual and sexual experience of your life?”

Nervous, but also aroused, she thought about it. With an impish smile, she nodded.

He insisted she say goodbye to her friends and tell them where she was going so they wouldn’t worry. She rushed through the goodbyes impatiently. The drive to his apartment was mercifully short, not giving her time to dwell on the possibility that this was too much for her.

His apartment was clean and stylish, but she didn’t care. She just wanted to feel sexy, aroused and desired. He kicked the door shut and locked it. Then he bent down, grabbed Neely around her hips and lifted her, tossing her over his shoulders. Dizziness compounded her sensations. He carried her straight to his bedroom where he dropped her on the bed and crawled over her, kissing her with finesse. He did that thing to her neck again and she thought she would lose her mind with desire.

Suddenly he stopped, reached over and pulled something from a dresser drawer. He held a coil of rope in front of her face. Fear pooled in her stomach. He said, “I don’t make sweet love. I do it rough.” He climbed off her and perched on the footboard. Making an effort to assume a casual, nonthreatening pose, except for the rope clutched in his hand. He looked like the most dangerous delicious temptation she had ever seen.

“What do you think? Would you like to try it? I’ll tie you up and you will know how pain is pleasurable. Or I’ll call you a taxi? You can choose to do something explosive, but, it’s your choice…”