There were a few guys playing drums out by the Man, with a dazzling didgeridoo player. A few dozen people were standing and listening, but no one was dancing. After a few minutes of tapping her toes, Tanya sprang into motion, her long skirt billowing in the wind as she shook her hips and twirled. I joined in, but after a moment, I started feeling painfully self-conscious. No one else was following us. The little crowd had all turned their eyes our way-or rather Tanya's. A wild, carefree desert spirit spun and leapt among us, while a clay footed mortal stumbled after her.

A few minutes later I stopped dancing and joined the ring of spectators around Tanya's gyrations. For a moment I felt even more ridiculous for giving up so suddenly. Tanya winked at me as she danced on for a little while longer. Then she stopped, came over, and put her arm around my waist. "Let's go find another circle," she said.

We walked across the hard flat playa surface towards a large bonfire, clothes whipping about in the intensifying gusts. Steady bass throbbing noises came from distant raves over in the city. As we approached the fire, the sound of drumming intensified until it drowned out the other music. Dozens of dancers swayed and shook to the beat of a dozen or so energetic drummers, a flutist, and a defiant-looking soprano saxophonist.

With little hesitation, we put our backpacks out of the way, yet in sight, and joined the throng. It felt good here. Tanya was beautiful and graceful. Other dancers were beautiful and graceful, too. Two naked tattooed guys took running leaps over the crackling fire. A slender woman in nothing but combat boots and a stocking cap swayed ecstatically by the fire. Off to the side, a guy with long wavy hair was doing tricks with a Diablo top until a gust of wind sent it rolling out into the surrounding darkness, and him running after it, laughing.

I felt strong and graceful as I danced and leapt, weaving through the crowd. Then Tanya was dancing near me, smiling that warm and enormous smile of hers. She had thrown off her sweater and tights and wore only a skirt tied around her waist, exposing a length of shining dark thigh. Her breasts shook and rolled as she danced, the dark nipples tight in the chilly night air.

I smiled back, and she danced closer, moving through the crowd like it wasn't there. We moved together and danced close, watching each other's faces. I put my hands on the bare skin of her waist and we swiveled our hips in time, the flesh chilled on the side away from the fire, hot on the side facing it.

I turned away and felt her hands on my shoulders. I felt her firm nipples brush against my back as she swayed close. "I—" think they like me. I bit off the remark at the last possible moment. Tanya might not mind how much Amanda had told me, but there was no sense taking chances.

I turned around again, pulled off my shirt, and threw it over onto my backpack. I put my arms around her waist, and she ran her palms slowly over my stomach up over my chest to twine her arms around my neck. Her breasts pressed against me, her face close, close close, both of us still swaying to the drumbeat.

The rhythm changed and she sprang away, dancing and twirling again with irrepressible energy, spiraling around me with teasing touches. The drumming came to a frantic climax and stopped raggedly. The audience and the dancers applauded the drummers, and the crowd milled, some people wandering off, dancers putting layers back on.

In the grip of a Sure Thing, I took Tanya's hand, and pulled her to our backpacks. I took mine, handed her hers, and ran from the fire. A little ways from the crowd, I stopped and turned to face her. A fat drop of water struck my shoulder. I kissed her, and she twined against me, flickering her tongue against mine.

A few more drops struck me. "It's starting to—" Tanya began. "Oh..." I had run my lips along her jaw line, and as I licked at where the tendon meets her jaw she trailed off. I could hear the spattering of rain on the playa surface around us. "Vinnie, it's really starting to—"

"Shit. Yeah, I know," I grumbled. "Well, want to go to the cafe?"

"Sure."

Center Camp Cafe was a crowded refugee camp packed with people looking for shelter. We lucked out. A couch emptied as we walked by and we jumped onto it eagerly, raising a cloud of playa dust. Tanya rested her head on my shoulder and we watched the milling crowd of people in companionable silence. Eventually my arm started falling asleep, and I shifted uncomfortably. Tanya sat up and gazed at me with a self-possessed smile. I leaned in to kiss her.

Suddenly Amanda's voice came from behind us. "Hey guys, what's up?" she said brightly. She vaulted onto the sofa and slipped her arm around Tanya's waist. "I know the guys who are coming on next," indicating the stage where someone was fiddling with a pair of small amplifiers. "They're really good."

Someone at the bar called out a drink order. "Oh, that's mine," said Amanda. "Vinnie, could you possibly get that for me?"

The perfect withering retort was on the tip of my tongue, but I couldn't quite put it into words. Dark little storm clouds darted around my head as I got up and made my way to the bar and collected Amanda's coffee.

The band was actually pretty good, and once I stopped glowering I enjoyed the conversation as Tanya skillfully drew the two of us out about our previous Burningman adventures.

In the small hours of the morning, the three of us made our way back to our camp, slipping in the thick mud that now covered the ground and shivering in the damp and icy wind that still gusted even after the rain had passed. When we got back, the wind had pulled half the stakes of Tanya's tent out of the ground and it was flopped on its side. It didn't look like the remaining stakes would last long either.

"Shit!" Tanya exclaimed, when she saw it. "What'm I gonna do now?"

"You can stay in my tent tonight," Amanda offered. "There's plenty of room."

"Your tent?" I said.

"Yeah, well Tanya needs somewhere to stay! You don't mind sleeping in yours tonight, do you?"

Tanya interjected, "Vinnie doesn't have to move all his stuff—I can stay in the empty one, right?"

"Sure," I said uncertainly. "I'll have to clear out some bags first. We were using it for storage."

"Well, I could just crash with you guys, if there's room." Tanya said.

There was a pause as we absorbed this idea. Then we both said "Sure!" at once.

"I'll go get my sleeping bag.

I paused for a moment, then took the plunge: "It's a pretty small tent. You might want to just share ours."

"You don't mind?"

"Of course not."

Thanks!" She gave me a brief hug. "I'll go get ready for bed."

"Get some water jugs out of your car and put them in your tent," I advised her. "That'll keep it from blowing away in the night."

After I'd brushed my teeth, I crawled inside the tent, cracked a glowstick, and hung it from the roof. Amanda and Tanya squirmed in after me. It was still pleasantly warm inside from the day's heat. The noisy billowing of the storm cover lent an aura of drama to our dimly-lit little shelter.

Tanya had changed into a red tee-shirt and boxers. I usually sleep nude, but that didn't seem appropriate. I grabbed a pair of boxers from the clothes at the foot of the tent, and pulled them on before unwrapping my sarong. Then I pulled on a relatively clean tee-shirt and slipped into my half of the zipped-together bags. Amanda had stripped down to panties, thrown her clothes into the pile at the foot, and slipped in as well.

By unspoken consensus, Tanya was in the middle. She crawled in between us, her body brushing against me repeatedly as she wriggled into the bag. "Mmm. Slumber party," she said, smiling broadly.

Amanda put her bare pale arms around Tanya's shoulders. "Good night kiss?" she asked.

Tanya smiled and scooted over. The two women's lips brushed briefly. There was a pause. Then Amanda took Tanya's head in her hands and kissed more lingeringly. "Mmmm, nice," Tanya purred. Their bodies melted together for a third, open-mouthed kiss.

I stared without self-consciousness, rapt yet agonized by the sight, my heart pounding wildly.

Now Tanya turned on her other side, and smiled warmly at me. "Vinnie?" she said.

"Yeah?" I was certain I was about to be turned out to the gear tent after all.

"Give me a kiss."

Giddy, I leaned in, and Tanya's sweet little body, the heat of her skin radiating through her light cotton nightclothes, wrapped around me, and her soft thick lips pressed against mine. I may have actually whimpered in pleasure. I held her tightly in my arms and kissed her for a long, electric instant. I ran my mouth down over the soft skin of her neck, tasting playa dust mixed with the day's sweat, and it was unspeakably sweet. She sighed and arched her body against me. After a moment, she disengaged, and kissed me lightly on the lips again. "Goodnight," she said, and turned away from me.

Tanya pressed her firm ass against me and felt my painfully hard prick. She grinned over her shoulder and winked. Then she indicated to Amanda that she was to turn the same way, and soon we were all tightly spooned together. My face against her somewhat prickly dreads, I slid one hand under her shirt to stroke her bare belly, then upward to cup the exquisite softness of one breast.

She took my wrist and guided my hand back down to the skin of her waist. "Sleep now," she said gently. And, to my surprise, after a few minutes, I did.


I dreamed, if it can be called dreaming, of joyous, amorphous, infantile sensuality. This gave way to dreams of anonymous nuzzling and kissing—sex lifted above all anxiety, all tension. I stroked a soft substantial female breast, rubbed my hard cock against a soft ass, twined my legs with shapely warm other legs. As usual, what finally woke me was heat. The light inside the tent was diffuse but bright. I pushed the sleeping bag down around my waist and looked around.

Tanya was gone without a trace. Amanda, still sleeping, ground her panty-clad ass against my morning hard-on. I could faintly hear a muffled techno beat in the distance.

I put a hand on her hip, and pressed against her more firmly. She murmured her approval. I slid a hand over her soft tummy, under the elastic of her panties, to the light stubble of her shaved mound. I cupped her vulva, and rotated my hand on the damp flesh. Amanda squirmed appreciatively. With some difficulty, I got her panties down off her hips, then pulled them off altogether. I nudged at her upper leg, and she half-turned onto her side, bringing her knee up, and granting me access to the damp folds of her pussy. I stroked her for a while, one hand massaging her shoulders, while the other dipped into the mouth of her vagina and slid over her stiff clit.

I turned away and rummaged among the stuff on the side of the tent. "You stopped," she complained. I quickly opened the condom packet I'd found, and rolled it on. I straddled one of her legs and brought the head of my prick to the mouth of her cunt. She arched her ass up in invitation.

Holding back for a moment, I slid the straining head of my cock across her clithood until she was humping back against me. Then I lined up and slid inside, not as slowly as I had intended.

"Ooh," she grunted, as my hips pressed against her ass. "Yeah." I slowly worked my hips as sweat started to run from under my arms. Amanda squeezed her Kegels, and I groaned, bending down and nuzzling against the nape of her neck.

She pressed her hands against the mattress and began to push back against me on each instroke as I accelerated. "Harder," she demanded. I complied with a couple of hard strokes that had her grunting as I slammed against her.

Then I pulled out and shuffled back on my knees. "Raise your ass," I urged, guiding her hips with my hands. She got up on her hands and knees, then her shoulders sank again as she brought a hand to her cunt. I got between her thighs and slid in, groaning at the sensation.

I paused there for a moment, enjoying the grip of Amanda's cunt on my prick, enjoying the sight of her broad ass and my prick disappearing inside her, that endlessly fascinating mystery. I noticed that the glowstick was bumping against the side of my head, and I reached up and tried to untie the lanyard.

Amanda humped impatiently against me: "Come on," she demanded, "fuck me!" Finally, the knot yielded and I brought my hands to her hips and started fucking her hard. Almost immediately, preorgasmic shivers started running up my spine. I concentrated on the moment at hand, the in-out motion, the sensation of Amanda's plump hips under my hands, the smell of nylon, sweat, dust, and sex, her rising cries.

The crisis passed, and I settled into a steady rhythm. Amanda cried out and her body tensed. She reached back and held my thigh pressed against her as her other hand worked frantically against her cunt. A bead of sweat dropped from the tip of my nose to the small of her back.

She released my leg. "Position switch," she announced, then flipped over and spread her legs wide. I didn't need to guide my cock with my hand at all. It found its way in as I fell on top of her, and soon we were pounding against each other once again, kissing wetly. "Pull my hair," she gasped. I gathered it up into a handful and tugged it downward, pulling her head back. I gnawed at the exposed skin of her neck, growling and grunting, our bodies sliding slickly against each other. A wave of sensation picked me up and carried me. My hips pounded without volition, faster and faster. I yelled out and came and collapsed gasping and lightheaded on top of Amanda.

For a few seconds, she squirmed with barely-suppressed impatience, then rolled me off her. "Three fingers," she ordered, and brought her hands to her clit again. Nothing loth, I sat up and pushed three of my fingers into her while she whimpered and arched her back. A few seconds later her ass left the ground. She shrieked and clamped down painfully on my digits before collapsing to the mattress again.

There was a strange sound—rain? Sleet? Was it some sort of vehicle rattling? Then the cheers started. Shit, it was applause. I buried my face between Amanda's sweaty tits, not sure whether to laugh or groan. Our campmates were giving us a standing ovation.


Eventually I went looking for Tanya. Out on the playa, a dozen people on little yoga mats were slowly stretching, lifting their arms to the sun. "...and down," said Tanya, dropping her arms and bending over. I admired her butt in the running shorts she was wearing. "Feel the energy flowing up, through the soles of your feet, into your body, and out through the palms of your hands," she intoned slowly.

I sat down cross-legged to watch, drinking occasionally from my water bottle. After ten minutes or so, the session ended, and the crowd began to disperse. I stood, brushed myself off, and made my way over to where Tanya was rolling up her mat.

Tanya looked up, smiled, and touched me briefly on the arm. "Hey, Vinnie. You heading back to camp?"

"Sure." We started walking. "I wanted to thank you. For last night. It was... it was beautiful."

"I hear this morning was pretty good too," she teased.

"It was," I admitted. "It was great. And that was you, too."

She looked quizzically at me.

"Oh, I don't mean I was fantasizing about you the whole time, or something yucky like that," I added. "I mean that your... There was something more there than just Amanda and me."

"That I was there in spirit?"

"No. I mean, I have no idea if you were or not. But a little of your character rubbed off on us. At least for a while."

Tanya was silent for a moment. "You're welcome," she said at last.

We drew up on camp where a few stragglers were still finishing their breakfast.

"So, um. You're welcome to use our tent for the rest of the week, if you like."

She grinned up at me. "Use it for what?"

"Well, um. Sleep, if you like. Of course. And, uh, otherwise, uh... Shit. Tanya, you know Amanda and I are both crazy about you."

Amanda heard her name and poked her head out from the kitchen. "We're both what?"

I gestured her over. "I was inviting Tanya to use our tent for the rest of the week."

"Oh," Amanda said mildly. "You're gonna move your stuff to the other tent?"

"Um... no. I meant like last night... the three of us."

"The three of us, huh?" she said coldly. "You mean you and your little harem."

"Or you and your little harem," I objected. "Or Tanya and her little harem."

"And you just unilaterally decided this was a good idea."

"Wait a second, wait a second. Amanda," I said. "You're not being jealous, are you? And if so, of who?"

"Of whom, she corrected me. "And no, I'm being competitive."

"What you're being is childish."

Tanya, who had been sitting on the remains of her tent watching the exchange, commented quietly, "You know, neither of you guys is looking too attractive right now."

Amanda looked at Tanya, then glared at me silently. "There's only one way to resolve this," she said solemnly.

"What?" I barked.

"Thunderdome."

I paused and mused on this idea for a moment. "Single combat, winner take all." I nodded slightly.

Amanda smiled a little. "Two folks enter, one chick leaves."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!" Tanya burst in. "You're gonna fight to see who gets me?"

"Um..." I said.

"Yeah," said Amanda steadily.

Tanya smiled slowly. "That's kinda cool," she admitted.

As we walked over, I tried to assess my chances. Amanda gets more exercise than I do, and her endurance is superior to mine, but thanks to lucky genes I probably have more raw strength. Our masses are roughly equal. My superior reach should help, but her collegiate rugby experience was probably better training than my rusty Ultimate Frisbee skills. A toss-up, as far as I could tell.

When the three of us got to Thunderdome, the dome was empty. A light crowd was milling around, trying to converse over the pounding music. We wandered around in back and eventually found a Death Guild marshal who fitted us with harnesses and put us in the queue to fight, behind two other couples.

The marshals escorted the first pair—two lanky guys in big shorts, one with dreads, the other with a floppy mohawk—into the dome, and began to strap them in. The crowd began to thicken now that something was happening inside the dome. Spectators crawled up onto the structure, draping the outside of the dome in a living mass. Butterflies began to gather in my stomach as I realized that this was actually going to happen.

Tanya threaded her arm around my waist, and I saw that she had done likewise to Amanda. Our arms crossed amicably across Tanya's shoulders. Her eyes were shining delightedly as she watched the first contestants get into position, perched among the dome's metal struts, then dive inward towards each other, half-concealed by the surging crowd. I craned my neck to catch more of the battle, but I saw little more than the flailing swords as the combatants swung wildly across the dome. Eventually the battle ended and the pair emerged, staggering and laughing, and disappeared into the crowd.

Next the marshals took the pair in front of us—a couple of beefy guys with streaks of gray in their ponytails. Once again, the crowd obscured our view. The bungee cords that held the contestants were relatively still for this fight, but the crowd was roaring in reaction to whatever was going on. I suspect it was a grappling battle with lots of close-up hits.

My speculation was interrupted by Tanya pulling me around to face her and embracing me tightly. She brought her face up and kissed me, and I was drowning in sweetness as her hot tongue invaded my mouth. Her limber little body undulated against me, and she purred as I cupped her round, amazingly firm ass. I was gasping by the time she pulled away. "Good luck," she whispered.

Now she embraced Amanda and kissed her with equal ardor. The crowd's cheering rose to a roar as the fight ended. This was not a time to be gaping at Amanda running her hands over Tanya's supple body—I should be psyching myself up for the fight. Look away from their open mouths pressed against each other, I told myself. Look over at the dome. Look over at the dome, damn it. Finally they parted and Tanya mouthed "Good luck" to my opponent.

Tanya pressed me toward Amanda with her hand, urging me to embrace her. I cautiously took her into my arms, and we hugged tightly for a long moment. I pulled back a bit and looked into her so-familiar face as she gazed warmly up at me.

"I love you, Amanda," I found myself saying. It wasn't the first time I had said it, but it was the first time in some years.

She smiled. "I love you, Vinnie," she said gently. "And I'm gonna kick your ass."

I sighed. "You always know just what to say."

The Marshals came and escorted the two of us into the harsh lights of the dome. One of them strapped me to the cord, pulling it taut at my waist. He passed me the padded sword. As I strode around the arena a little, testing the pull of the cords and the heft of the sword, the music stopped.

The marshals helped us onto facing sides of the Dome as the audience began to chant: "Two men enter, one man leaves! Two men enter, one man leaves!"

My eyes met Amanda's. Her tanned skin shone in the afternoon sun. The ferocity of her gaze was like a physical pressure. The referee—a tiny woman in an elaborate rubber costume, bearing the black feathered staff of office—stepped to the middle of the dome. The chant increased in speed and volume: "Two men enter! One man leaves! Two men enter! One man leaves!"

The music resumed—throbbing distorted death-metal filling the arena and the surrounding desert. The referee swept her staff down, indicating the beginning of the match. I roared my terrible roar, my voice thin and distant in my own ears over the blare of the speakers, hefted my sword, and leapt into space.

END


to Chapter 3 ⇐

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