Jack goes through the nightly motions: he folds his clothes neatly on the back of the chair, brushes his teeth, checks his alarm clock’s set for the rude early awakening, and sighs. What sort of life is this for a young man of just 24? Working, working, working, rushing home to a meal for one, tedious television until his eyes begin to droop. He knows the answer, of course, this is no life and he also knows that this will not change until; at the very least, the ‘trainee’ is dropped from his title of ‘trainee chef’.
It isn’t long until Jack falls asleep and, after a while, his breathing becomes shallow, his heart rate increases and his eyes move rapidly as his mind wanders into a dream. At first, it’s more a case of moving images, rather than a story playing out. A montage, a collage of orange and red; dots, joining up to form a faint pattern which his brain dares him to figure out. A woman with long red hair, titillating, exposed breasts. His body reacts accordingly, stiffening and tingling. It’s hot; Jack senses a source of heat, like fire. Flames flicker and cast the redhead’s naked silhouette on to a dark back-drop. A groan leaves his sleeping lips as he watches her shadow, hips sway, fingers explore, and her lust reaches a euphoric climax. And then he wakes up to his nocturnal explosion, wetting the sheets with his pleasure as he had done so many times as a teenager. He rolls over, seeking a dry patch and falls into a deeper slumber.
Morning arrives with the usual manic hurry and snooze button regrets as he has to run around, squeezing too many activities into the too short space of time. He thinks of his boss and resents his probable lie-in as he rushes to prepare for this evening’s service at the restaurant. But, somehow, with damp hair, a certain degree of stress and a forgotten wallet, he arrives on time.
Deluged with numerous tasks, it isn’t until he lights the oven that, immediately, the instant flame reminds him of last night’s dream and he blushes scarlet. He makes a mental note to change the sheets later, and vividly pictures the red haired siren that gave him the, somewhat surprising and unexpected, happy ending. He attempts to brush away the beginnings of a new excitement and is left feeling flustered and distracted.
The Friday night shift is brutal; orders come thick and fast all night long. As soon as a table clears, new bodies slip into chairs, hew hands pick up a menu. Despite several flattering compliments regarding his pleasing Tarte Tatin, he feels like crawling back home on his knees after the exhaustion of it all.
Even the walk does little to clear his head. He yawns loudly into the night air and wastes no time in climbing into the hastily made bed. Feeling cold, he pulls the quilt up to his chin and, within five minutes, he drifts from the chill into the delicious heat once more.
Without hesitation, he conjures up the redhead, who reveals her alluring nudity. She leans over him; her long copper locks tickle the bare flesh of his torso. Temperature rising, the licks of the flames illuminate her creamy breasts and sultry mouth. As she coils her hand into a beckoning finger, her emerald eyes never leave his awed gaze, the dream ends with a crash. Beyond arousal, he spills his lust on to the crisp white sheets. His eyes open, he reaches the bedside cabinet and scribbles a word on to the top envelope of his yet unopened mail.
As the alarm incessantly beeps into the bedroom, he spots his scrawled handwriting. He recalls the erotic dream, although he can’t remember how the word Fever relates to it, nor does he understand why he’d been compelled to make a note of it in the dark, early hours.
He rips the sheets from the bed and stuffs his embarrassment into the washing machine and heads out. And as it so happens when you think of a word, it starts to pop up everywhere, on his route to work. ‘Fever’ pops up in so many places, the pharmacy window, a neon pink billboard poster, the too tight t-shirt of a young girl, in the pocket of his jacket. His fingers feel the rectangle object and he pulls it out to take a look. A business card, which he has no memory of being handed. It’s white with a blazing red font. It reads FEVER. Unleash your fantasy in our hot private club. You have selected Adena. Follow the signs to follow your dreams.
Jack shakes his head in confusion. How has this ended up in his pocket? Who’s Adena? What signs? He doesn’t have time to mull over this nonsense, he decides, and promptly discards it into the rubbish bin, arriving at the restaurant. Over the course of the evening, Jack was correct, there isn’t time to think at all, unless it revolves around tickets and ingredients and customers. He bursts out of the back door as soon as everything is cleaned and tidied away. He could kiss the sky with relief as he has the whole of tomorrow off work and there will be no alarm clock or rush to keep him busy.
His feet turn the final corner, his fingers rummage for his keys when he finds the familiar card, again. He is sure that he’d thrown it away. If someone at the restaurant is playing a joke he isn’t going to be happy. With a frown, he re-read the words. FEVER. Unleash your fantasy in our hot private club. You have selected Adena. Follow the signs to follow your dreams. Nobody can actually put fiery redhead dreams into his head though, can they? He feels ludicrous here, in the dead of night, but he can’t help himself and his eyes survey the street for some sort of clue. A fox scurries from one alley to another and he laughs. The foxy redhead? It has to better than that, he thinks.
In spite of himself, his feet sidle back up the street he has just walked down, just to double-check that he hasn’t missed anything. The sound of a match strike turns him around. A hooded figure drops the tiny flame to the floor and with a crackle, it’s aflame. The figure flees to leave an F shape on fire, on the pavement. Without thinking, he hurriedly follows the figure down the same alley way he had spotted the fox. There are no lights and his eyes struggle to adjust to the emphatic darkness surrounding him. He can’t hear a sound and there is no sign of movement or a presence. Gingerly, he proceeds down the thin alley, keeping his hands by his side and his breathing as calm as he can.
A few footsteps later and it’s the end. He pats the wall in front of him and feels a door, a large steel opening. He hesitates; he has no notion of what is happening and what he should do next. It seems it isn’t his decision to make as the door slowly opens and, at last, he can see inside the crimson room. A plaque on the wall reads Welcome to Fever. Jack stumbles in, bumping into an exotic looking tanned woman with ebony hair.
“Your card, Sir”, she asks, holding out a hand.
“My card?” he stammers. Does she mean his credit card? What is this place?
“You have a card in your pocket”, she asserts, with raised eyebrows. He pulls it out and offers it to her. She doesn’t take it, she merely leans her head to read the text.
“Adena’s been waiting for you. Please take a seat and I shall inform her that you have finally arrived” she replies before walking down the corridor.
Is he supposed to know Adena? Why has she been waiting for him? Jack is troubled by this odd turn of events yet this place looks familiar. .
“Please follow me”, utters a voice. He doesn’t noticed her approach. His heart beats wildly, he worries she can hear it.
“Relax”, coaxes the woman, “Adena will see you shortly. Disrobe and make yourself comfortable”, she points to a bed, surrounded by candles, all flickering and twinkling. Jack is speechless; this is the room from his dream. He looks across and sees the screen; the redhead had teased him from behind there. The candles explain the heat he’d felt, the flames he had seen. Before he can utter a word, she’s gone, and he is left alone.
He can’t believe it, every exact detail is correct, the reds and oranges of the walls. It doesn’t make sense, any of it. If Adena turns out to be the erotic redhead in his dreams, he imagines he’ll be a mixture of deeply afraid and deeply aroused. Hoping for the latter, he strips off his clothes and hops into the bed, covering himself up below his chest.
A door opens, behind the screen the lights lower further. He sees her feminine outline behind the screen and barely dares to breathe. She turns to the side and he can make out every curve of her naked shape, her pert breasts, and the roundness of her buttocks. Just the shadow of her profile is enough to make him hard.
“Did you dream of me?” Her voice was like a velvet song with a beautiful Irish lilt, it has always been his favourite accent.
“Are you Adena?” he manages, his voice cracking.
“I am. Do you know what my name means?” she asks.
“No” he replies, still hypnotised by her swaying body.
“It means fire. Do you like a bit of heat, Jack?”
“I don’t know. How do you know my name?” he stutters.
Finally she reveals herself and steals his breath away. Her bare form in front of him is torture; the arousal causes him to shiver. His eyes dart from one delectable part of her to another, his body aches to be touched. She smiles at him and perches on the bed; noticing the large bulge underneath the sheet.
Her hands stroke his chest, gently, tentatively. He melts under her touch, desperately hoping there is more to come. Adena stretches to take hold of a candle; he watches the flesh of her breast and bites his bottom lip.
Suddenly he feels a hot splash on his skin and yelps. Looking down, he sees a patch of red candle wax, already solidifying. Her eyes are wild and a less than angelic look paints her face. He begins to peel off the wax but she pours more. He cries out in an enthralling mixture of satisfaction and pain. Clearly Adena’s enjoying herself as her free hand had slips between her shapely legs. Jack fears he can’t handle much more of her teasing, this provocative display before his eyes. He can’t drop his gaze from her busy hand and its activities now bring soft whimpers to her lips. As her moans increase in volume, she falls into her own magical rhythm. He tries counting, mentally chanting football songs but the dizzying sight of Adena and this spellbinding candle-lit room leave him more excited than he can ever remember being in his life.
Adena’s legs buckle, she falls on top of him, one long, loud groan escapes before she turns her attention back to him. Jack has never experienced anything like this before, none of his girlfriends had ever been so sexually confident. With both hands, Adena grasps an enormous orange candle. She holds it over his torso with a defiant, mischievous glint in her eye. He feels slightly afraid; the adrenaline buzzes around his body, meeting the testosterone along the way, leaving him teetering on the brink of his own much needed release.
He closes his eyes, inhales deeply and feels the scalding hot wax trickle on to his sensitive skin; pain, sensuality and an electrifying exhilaration. He can’t stand this any longer and off he soars, his mind in a fiery bliss, his body doing exactly what it had done whilst dreaming of this bizarre place and this coquettish woman.
Adena vanishes; the intoxicating aromas of the scented candles leave him content and sleepy. He forces himself up to dress. Jack slips out of the room, offering a furtive glance at the attractive receptionist. Back out into the alley, he pulls his jacket closely around his face and walks home. A return to normality, he muses, slipping into bed, his eyes shutting. He smiles as sleep greets him; he wonders what his next dream will entail.
As the night progresses, he catches hold of a dream, he groans into his pillow as he senses the familiar candles. But, disappointingly, Adena never arrives. Resourcefully, his mind even attempts to add the dark haired receptionist as a crafty replacement but it just cannot be done. He can smell the scents, they waft by his nostrils. But no Adena.
He feels rather sad in the morning; he missed dreaming of her outrageous antics, the nightly emissions. Distraction doesn’t come easily, no amount of watching the football can retain his thoughts for long enough. He can’t shake it off. He wants to see Adena again, to feel the spill of the hot wax set on his flesh, the pleasure and the pain.
He throws on his jacket and leaves the house, his heart pounds quickly in his chest; he licks dry lips with anticipation and desire. He bangs upon the steel door that he had warily entered on the previous night. Now he can’t wait. Mentally, he is already inside, stripped, naked and waiting for Adena. No answer. He bangs again.
Finally the door opens and there stands an old woman in a floral smock.
“Is Adena here?” Jack asks, baffled and confused. The woman returns his ponderous expression, shrugs her shoulders and leads him inside.
The shock is incredible. The changes to the interior almost bring him to his knees with incredulity. The walls are painted lemon; there isn’t a corridor, no sign of the rooms, the receptionist, and no sign of Adena. It’s a shop. He follows the old woman around the mess of boxes, around to the counter and into the front. Candles. A shop selling candles. Jack is flabbergasted.
“But where’s Adena?” his meek voice asks. The woman points to a shelf of red and orange votive candles, just like the ones Adena had used last night. He picks one up and read the label: Adena Candle. Exotic, erotic, tempting scents of Patchouli,
and Lemongrass. Orange
Tears threaten to exit Jack’s eyes as he wonders if he is going mad. There had been dreams, yes, but surely last night had been real? He had felt the hot wax stick to his chest? How has everything changed so quickly?
He feels his pocket; his fingers grab the card, his one chance to prove that he hasn’t lost his very mind. Aroma. Sumptuous Candles for your every need. He weeps into his hands.
“Are you alright?” asks the old woman, in an attempt to soothe him, “My word, you’re burning up, you feel as though you have a fever.”