The party is in full swing and everyone is having a great time. Especially the birthday boy who keeps winking at me as I pour drinks behind the bar. I know the next show is supposed to happen soon so I signal the bar tenders to pump out as many drinks as possible then backup. I duck out into the crawl space for a moment as I put some ice over the burn on my thigh.
It’s not as bad as I thought. It was just the hot liquid that burned me not actually the flame. I collect my poi’s as I reemerge in the bar. I signal for the bouncers to join me and Justin and Max flank me in a moment. I order the bar tenders back against the back wall of the bar as I walk along the front of the bar pushing everyone back.
Mitch makes an announcement that the bar is about to heat up. “So those of you who don’t wish to be burnt alive, take a step back.” Mitch warns over the sound system. Some follow the instructions and others take it as a dare. Alcohol makes people stupid sometimes. I continue to move them all back then I feel a setoff hands on my ass, but they’re removed just as fast as I turn to see Max pinning a guy to a bar stool by the back of his head.
“You do not touch her.” His dark voice threatens loudly enough that the rest of the crowd starts to back up on its own. I gently reach out to touch Max’s arm.
“It’s okay now. Let him go.” I order him softly. He locks eyes with me and the look of menace on his face makes everyone jump back. I steel myself remembering his strength when I whipped flame around him. He didn’t so much as blink. I channel the same strength as I lock eyes with him letting a pleading gentleness seep through to him. I don’t back away from his dark glare or flinch at his overpowering strength.
He reluctantly lets the offender go and the guy disappears to the farthest part of the club. I smile proudly at Max as I place my hand on the top of his shoulder and I use it to boost myself up on to the bar top. Seeing my plan his hands go to my waist and lifts me up. He lets go of my waist even more reluctantly than he let his prisoner go and I smile at him as I take a step out of his grasp.
The lights die to leave me in almost darkness apart from the flames on the bar of the bar wall. I start to move as a silhouette against the flame backdrop as the song starts. The crowd starts to cheer as I drop the poi’s and start to swing them around as I twirl like a tornado along the bar top. On the final spin I light the poi’s and the lighting starts to dance across the bar with the rhythm of the base.
I check quickly to make sure that no one is trying to get near the stage as I set a small trail of fire along the bar top to dance next to. I see Max’s hulking form right next to the end of the bar watching everything and everyone on full alert. I bite my lip to suppress as smile as I keep swinging and twirling the poi’s over my head and I lean back letting the flames travel around my body.
The song starts to drop and I so do I. I slide down into a slow split on the bar keeping the balls of fire swinging around my head and neck carefully. The staff behind the bar cheer and whistle along with the crowd and I wink at them. Praying the entire time that my short red leather hot pants don’t split under the pressure. I see a strange smile form on Max’s lips as he steps in front of me to block the path of a guy trying to jump up onto the bar.
I smile at his back as his arms stretch out to his side in a protective stance. I think I hear him growl but I’m not sure. I carefully slide myself by upright as the poi’s dance around me fast and furiously. The song comes to an end and I bow as I send the poi’s into a sand box behind the bar. The crowd goes wild as I bow again. The lights and club music resume and I feel a strong pair of hands on my waist as I’m lifted off the bar and set back on the floor.
Max doesn’t even say anything as he lets me go. He just walks away to resume his post by the door. I watch his retreat confused by his actions. I decide to chalk it up to his weird ways and get back to work. The rest of the night flows smoothly and we finally manage to kick out the last of the party guests at four in the morning.
“Let’s all go out for breakfast.” Luka suggests and there is a general consensus as we finish clearing up. We all walk in a group out of the club and I hang back a second when I notice that Max isn’t following us. I stroll back over to him as the group leave the club. “Are you coming with us?” I ask kindly. He just shakes his head at me.
I feel terrible. We’re alone now so I take the opportunity. “I’m sorry about earlier.” I tell him sadly. His eyes just focus on Vladik watching us curiously from the balcony. I look up at Vladik and smile as I wave goodbye. “Well, have a good day Max.” I whisper before turning and walking out of the club.
Before the door closes I hear Vladik’s voice. “You’re playing a dangerous game Maximus.” I don’t hear any response before the door closes. I make a note to ask Vladik what exactly his problem with Max is, later. I run to catch up with the crew as we all walk to our favorite breakfast spot.
Almost two weeks has passed since the night of the party and things are strained. Vladik shut down when I questioned him about Max and ordered me to not have anything to do with him. Easy enough an order to follow considering Max has barely said a word to me in almost two weeks. He’s back to imitating the silent statue he was his first few nights.
As we prepare to open our doors to another Saturday night at Diablo’s Mitch beckons me up onto the stage to listen to his new mix. I jump up obligingly and take the head phones from him. As I place them over my head I close my eyes to shut out the world around me. I let the music flow into me and I feel a smile tease my lips for the first time in days.
I start to sway my body as the base travels from my hears and wrapping its tendrils around my heart before continuing it’s decent to the floor. Not before it sends my hips swaying like the pendulum in an old grandfather clock. The rest of my body follows on instinctively. I get a small shiver behind my neck that lets me know I’m being watched.
I open my eyes to find Max’s gaze locked onto me like he’s hypnotized. I decide to ignore him. He can watch all he likes, that’s his job after all. I turn to smile approvingly at Mitch who is holding onto his own headphones listening to the remixes. Then bold as brass he pulls my hips back against his as he starts to shadow the movements of my body.
I smile at him before laughing at his playfulness as he pulls of our headphones and lets the music fill the club. He takes my arms raising them above my head as his hands slide seductively back down the length of my body. I feel his touch light a path of heat as his hands settle back onto my hips. My body clad in only a black mini dress the fabric clinging to me, leaving nothing to the imagination.
The short dress rides up even further as we drop our hips and continue to move together. His hands travel to my thighs and caress them roughly. For some reason the touch reminds me of Max’s hands on me and I close my eyes to stop myself from searching for him. I lean back into Mitch’s body a little more trying to imagine what it would be like if it was Max behind me instead.
I smile at the ridiculous thought. I doubt he could move like this. I hear a wolf whistle pierce through the pounding base and I open my eyes to see Nina watching on approvingly as she sways on the dancefloor. I smile as I look around seeing a few of the staff dancing as well. Then my eyes find his. The dark glare could stop a hurricane just by sheer will. I turn away from him quickly abhorred by the sudden guilt I feel.
Why the hell shouldn’t I be dancing with another man in front of him? What right does he have to look at me like I’m betraying him? I feel Mitch take my hand affectionately bringing it to his lips for a light kiss before he spins me away from him. He bows as he winks at me and turns the dial to drown the infectious base before it can consume us all. Nina starts clapping.
“Damn girl that’s your jam.” Nina calls out as she steps up onto the stage. I nod at her smiling proudly.
“I love that mix. Mitch did a great job.” I tell her loud enough for him to overhear. He winks at me again and smiles.
“I was thinking about you when I mixed it, I’m glad you approve.” He confesses. I smile a beaming smile at him. Nina waggles her eyebrows playfully at our interaction. I glare at her.
“Don’t be such a child.” I scold her pointing towards her cage. She shrugs as she glances at Mitch over my shoulder and winks at him. I turn to express my gratitude for the mix and I feel a hand slap my ass hard. I jump at the action and turn on Nina in shock as she skips away laughing towards her cage. “I hope you get locked in there again.” I call out to her and she just laughs in response.
“You shouldn’t share your fantasies about me with everyone here.” She mocks flattered. “People will talk.” She adds playfully shaking her ass and winking at me. I shake my head at her exasperated as I hear the chuckles of the other staff around the club. Our fun is brought to a halt by Vladik’s appearance on the balcony of the upper level to deliver his daily motivational speech. I see Mitch mouth it silently word for word in my peripheral and I smile in conspiracy at him.
He winks as I shrug at him after being given the command to open the doors. I jump down from the stage and give the signal to Justin because Max is flat out not looking at me. I shake my head confused as I move in behind the bar and make sure everything is set for the night. The night starts off with an explosion of business. It’s a crazy night and I have to signal the guys barely an hour after opening to stop the patrons entering.
The night pumps on as I can see the capacity of the room reaching above our limit. I look back at the bouncers and I frown at them as I spy Justin let in a group of pixies who are already drunk. I throw down a cloth angrily as I jump the bar and storm over to him. He looks shocked to see me so close before I grab him by the collar and lead him to behind the door.
I slap the wall hard next to him. “What the fuck are you doing?” I demand angrily. “We’re almost a hundred people over max capacity.” He shrugs.
“They were hot.” He offered weakly. I can feel my anger rising.
“I gave the damn signal to cut entry half an hour ago.” I remind him completely infuriated.
“Damn I thought you would’ve loosened up a little after that body rub from Mitch.” He rebuts insolently. “Besides Vladik told us that we need to fill this place, our profits are down.”
I slap the wall again and curse. I’m suddenly aware of a hulking form behind me. I don’t even need to look over my shoulder to know its Max as that familiar warm fire embers start to glow to life in my stomach.
“I don’t give a shit what Vladik said. Those pixies you let in are already toasted and they’ll just dance and make fools of themselves until they pass out. There’s no revenue to made from them. I know why you let them in and you need to start thinking with your other head.” I chastise him and he has the sense to look stricken.
“Besides, when the fire marshal comes down here and surprises us with an inspection the fine we’ll cop on top of the loss of revenue from being shut down will kill our profits for the next six months.” I scold him feeling the anger in my voice rise to a new level. “Fuck Vladik and his money grubbing ways. When I tell you to cut the admissions you damn well do it. I don’t care if those girls all offered to blow you in the middle of the street for entrance.”
“Do I make myself clear?” I demand icily grabbing his collar sharply again. He nods looking slightly frightened then more so as his gaze looks over my shoulder. I remember that Max is standing behind me and I decide to put my anger in a more appropriate direction. I whirl on him letting my seething glare freeze him in place.
“That goes for you too. Now you can have the privilege of cleaning up the mess of the crowd you fools let in here.” I tell him with a wicked smile as I see a guy puke all over his booth in the corner of the room, clearly wasted. Max doesn’t even break eye contact with me as he challenges my withering glare with one of his own. “I’ve got it.” Justin relinquishes humbly asking Max to watch the door by himself for a few moments.
I start to walk away from him but turn back over my shoulder. “Pay better attention.” I scold him before ripping my gaze from his. I realize that it’s time for the show a short while later and I cringe as I realize that I just fucked off the two guys who are supposed to watch my back during those performances. The crowd is still overflowing around the room barely leaving enough room to move.