Arawyn woke with Surshan's hand on her shoulder. "This is it. His Fire Dance is beginning."
She looked at the shirtless man standing with his back to her, methodically dropping his armload of driftwood sticks, one at a time, onto the almost cold coals of their campfire. "What do I do?"
"You must keep him from the fire."
"But . . . ."
The last of Salazar's sticks was on the fire and Surshan had moved on to the others who were sleeping around the fire. By the time the fire was burning hot again, the others had moved away, out of the light of the fire.
Jandar was the only one who was reluctant to leave the fire. No one had explained anything about this to him and he still didn't trust Salazar very much. He had seen the expression on Salazar's face and the way all the others had left the fire could only be seen as a move away from danger.
Rather than helping him, Alanmarel only tried to keep him quiet and was finally forced to silence him. Alanmarel's command did not carry the power that Arawyn's would, so all he accomplished was to make Jandar lethargic rather that asleep, but it served to quiet him.
Salazar was pacing around the fire now, much like a great cat might pace the bars of a cage. Arawyn watched in fascination. She had noticed the dancers around the fire but they were much more animated than this.
It wasn't long before it evolved and Arawyn watched in horror as Salazar seemed to be dancing with the flames. She tried to impose herself between him and the fire, but that proved to be more difficult then she thought as he danced away from her, doing his best to keep the fire between himself and her.
As his dance evolved, he paid less attention to her and she caught him. Standing with her back the fire, she rested a hand on his chest to interfere with his advance towards the flames again.
He gasped at the touch and looked away from the flames for the first time and down at her hand. He tried to spin away, but she kept her physical contact with him. The caress around his torso almost brought him to his knees, but that didn't stop him from trying to continue to escape. He slid first to one side and then to the other only to encounter first one of her hands and then the other that caressed his ribs with cool ecstasy.
His hands came to her shoulders and her shirt dropped away to land on the ground behind her with one sleeve in the fire while her hands traced the hard muscles of his shoulders and chest.
He made another attempt to get to the flames but his move only put his sensitive body more withing the circle of her arms and her hands caressed his back, causing him to arch and writhe.
Arawyn spun this time and they were steps away from the fire. Salazar's efforts to get to the flames turned into another type of dance, a dance focused entirely on her, a dance that lit fires in her the like of which she had never believed could be.
In a moment of calm, Salazar fingered Arawyn's silk shift in abstract fascination, and then it too fell to the ground. Soon after, they were rolling in the sand, their clothes left behind, forgotten in their lovemaking.
Many, many sensual moments later, Arawyn opened her eyes and gazed across the contours of his muscular chest that was liberally dusted with white grains of sand. She slid her hand over the dusting and Salazar's chest rose abruptly with his gasp, and then he began to love her again. This time was gentle and languid by comparison. But now she could think at least a little and she brought into play all the things she had been taught about pleasuring a man.