Isis Rising by Heather Avalon
erotic contemporary romance short story
After flunking out of Julliard, Hannah Burrows has found the life of her dreams working as a fire dancer in tropical Florida. The one thing missing from that dream is Mark, the only man Hannah has ever loved. Mark had never been able to accept Hannah’s pagan faith. Now he’s in Florida and wants to rekindle their relationship. But if he couldn’t accept her paganism before, how will he be able to accept her new commitment to sacred sexuality?
She waited behind the stage door for her introduction. This was always the hardest moment for her. She performed several times a week, but that didn’t stop the knot in her stomach or the dryness in her throat. On stage at the Miami Hookah Bar, she was Queen Isis, Fire Dancer. In her heart, she would always be Hannah Burrows from Trenton, New Jersey.
The introduction was over and the drummers had begun their beat. She adjusted her gold sequin bra and beaded headdress, moving onto the stage. As she did, she deftly lit the soaked wicks on each end of her staff by touching them against a lit candle. She began her performance. As always, once on stage she relaxed into the choreography, the rhythm, and the fire. The audience gasped at the sight of her. With her headdress she measured just under 5’4.” The flaming staff she spun was almost as tall.
Deftly she handled the staff, dipping and weaving with it, stamping her bare feet in time with the drums. The bells on her ankles chimed with each step.
Her set was over just as the flames began to die down.
The audience loved her. She could hear them still applauding as she began changing into her street clothes. She wondered if Mark was among them.
She had been nothing short of flabbergasted when Mark had found her on Facebook earlier in the week. She hadn’t seen him since Julliard, though she thought of him every day. Or tried not to think of him every day.
There they had bonded at first because neither of them had fit in. She wasn’t disciplined enough to be a great ballet dancer. He wasn’t gay enough. They had spent a lot of time together, exploring New York and each other. Maybe that had contributed to both of them flunking out.
The energy between them had been magickal, she reflected as she carefully packed her costume. Never before or since had there been a man who made her feel so alive, or to whom she had felt so connected. Even when Julliard fell apart for them, she had thought they would stay together.
Absent-mindedly, she felt for the silver pentacle that always hung around her neck. In the end, that had been what separated them. She wore the tartan of the Cabot Temple of Witchcraft; he taught Sunday School at the Methodist Church.
When she moved south to pursue her fire training, she had left the Cabot Temple. She had attended a few events in South Florida, but it hadn’t felt right. The dignity and power of the Cabot rituals fit in with the harsh weather and stoic nature of the Northeast for her.
Now she was in the tropics, and they moved her. She was still a pagan, but at least for now, she was more eclectic than her teachers at the Temple would have appreciated.
In her time in Miami, she had even done a few ayahuasca journeys: deep meditation led by a South American Shaman, using a sacred hallucinogenic plant. She had attended Kirtan-Hindu chanting and drumming, calling to the Divine with song. Spirituality was everywhere, blending and crossing cultural lines in ways that would have made her uncomfortable before.
She was invited to perform fire dances at pagan festivals throughout Southeast. That she could be paid to participate in her community thrilled her. Finally, at one festival she met a small coven who had the right energy, power and integrity. They were loosely affiliated with the Temple of Transcendence. The focus of their practice was sex magick.
Now, attending festivals had a dual purpose. She would entertain, and occasionally teach, as a fire dancer. She would also perform ritual with her coven.
She could only imagine what Mark would say if he knew she had sex as part of her spiritual rituals.
She was just about to walk out the door of the Hookah Bar when her cell phone rang. It was a number she didn’t recognize.
His voice seemed deeper than she remembered it. “That was an amazing performance,” he said. “Now can I buy you a drink?”
“I cannot believe you’re in Miami.” It was all she could think of to say.
“Get used to it,” he said. “I just closed on a condo in Hollywood.”
Hannah hoped her gasp wasn’t audible.
Well, she shrugged, it would be neighborly to accept his invitation for a drink.
“I don’t like to drink where I work, but there’s a tiki bar across the street. They serve good food, and I’m hungry.”
“Some things never change.”
The familiarity with which he said it made her skin tingle.
She found him in the tiki bar, already seated with a pitcher of mojitos waiting for her. She ordered her food as she sat down, smiling at the waiter as she waved the menu away. Mark looked even better than she remembered and better than his profile picture. His dark hair was a little longer, curling around his collar. He had the upscale casual Florida look down already, she noticed. He wore a green Lacoste shirt with baggy tan shorts and Sperrys. She felt a little frumpy in jeans, sneakers, and a tee shirt.
She pretended to be enthralled with her seared tuna, mixing the wasabi and the soy sauce with her chopstick. Finally, she looked up and met his brown eyes with hers.
His gaze burned through her. She could barely keep from shaking. By contrast, he seemed more at ease with himself than he had been at Julliard.
He ordered them another round of mojitos. It drove her crazy that he was so casual, so self-assured with her after so long, while she was melting inside. Finally, impatience and alcohol caught up with her.
“Mark, why are you here?”
He smiled. “If by here you mean the tiki bar, it’s because you didn’t want to hang out at the hookah bar. If by here you mean Miami, I already told you, I’m opening a dinner theater here in South Florida.”
She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. She had always hated it when he was deliberately obtuse.
“I mean, why are you here with me? Nothing has changed.”