Burning Down Montana


CHAPTER ONE – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED – COPYRIGHT PROTECTED

 

The stage was set for the concert. A grand finale of fireworks was expected for the end of the county celebration. Vesta checked to make sure all of the wires were attached to the appropriate charges. When the popular band asked for a major pyrotechnic display for a grand finale at a Montana music festival, she’d been the one to land the job. Being a pyrotechnician, it was difficult to come by jobs, being a female pyrotechnic coordinator; it was ten times more difficult to land jobs because she had breasts. Whoever said the glass ceiling was being shattered everywhere by women never had a job involving blowing things up.

As she hopped down from the large outdoor platform, a spark coming from the end of the catwalk caught her attention. Quirking her eyebrow and pulling her braided hair into a ponytail at the nape of her neck, she walked toward the sparking blue light. She knew she’d cut off all power to the main battery, and this blue spark meant trouble. There could be no mistakes as there would be thousands of people at this festival tonight.

Picking up her walkie-talkie, Vesta checked in with her foreman, her second in command, Felix.

“Felix, did you cut the power for the main catwalk?”

“Course, why?” his response crackling through the speaker.

“ I got a spark at the end of walkway. Going to check it out.”

“Right.”

Vesta holstered the walkie-talkie and walked towards the blue light. When she was only a few feet from the spark, Vesta caught a whiff of the unmistakable odor of rotten eggs.

“Shit.” Vesta muttered, and before she could make a full one-eighty to turn, the blue spark burst into a full flame. The image before Vesta’s eyes before she blacked out was a huge orange ball of flame coming toward her.

***

He’d been on his way to the festival as a way to get himself out of the mood he was in. After finishing his stint in the Royal Marines, Brighton found himself without direction but he knew a military life was not the way he wanted to live out the rest of his days. His pick-up truck rolled to a stop as he watched the most beautiful and statuesque woman saunter toward the end of the stage’s walkway. Just as he was turning his body to jump out of the truck, a loud explosion made him duck behind the safety of his car door. As he peered out from the protection of the door, he saw the limp form of the woman lying on the ground. Brighton didn’t have to think, he just moved. He was at the woman’s side within seconds, kneeling beside her, his eyes quickly assessing the damage. He could see a that a piece of shrapnel had sliced her from her shoulder to her collar bone, shredding her black tank to and leaving a long gash on her deep brown skin.

Brighton removed his t-shirt and applied pressure to the wound. He could hear the blaring sirens from the ambulances and the shouts of the other workers, but his attention was solely on the woman in his arms. He applied more pressure, his days in the Royal Marines keeping him calm. He could see, despite the black soot streaking her face, and the grimace of pain on her face that this woman was a beauty. He pushed the braids from her face, and as he did so, her eyes fluttered open. Her eyes were the most striking shade of brown he’d see, and even with the complete pandemonium of the world around him, the look in her eyes silenced everything.

“Its ok pet, I’m here, I’ve got you.” Brighton didn’t know what made those words come out of his mouth, but he meant them. Her eyes flickered but stayed shut. Paramedics flanked his side and tried to move her on to the stretcher. He wasn’t going to let the frenzied emergency workers jostle her around as if she was a sack of figs. He stared at the worker with his jaw set, feeling the vein ticking in his chin. The wide eyed looked from the paramedic still didn’t give Brighton enough reason to let the woman from his hold.
“Sir, we need her on the stretcher so we can transport her to the hospital.” Brighton stared at the freckled EMT with disgust. There was no way he was going to let the lanky youngster put his woman on a stretcher, he would surely drop her. He would do it himself. Gathering her body into his arms, he stood, and began walking towards the ambulance’s stretcher. Placing her on the padded gurney, he tried to straighten himself, but he felt her hands tighten around his neck.

“Don’t leave me,” she’d whispered and he knew he wasn’t going to leave her side. Just as Brighton resigned himself to crawling in the back of ambulance, a tall balding man raced to the opened ambulance doors.

“Vesta! Oh my God, Vesta! ” Brighton looked down at the woman clinging to his neck. Is that who you are, pet? A goddess indeed. He’d almost forgotten about the man who was tripping over himself to get into the back of the ambulance. “Vesta! IS she?” The man didn’t get the chance to finish the sentence before the ambulance worker jumped in front of him.

“No, she’s not, from what we can tell on her vitals. My partner is ready to drive off, but can you tell us is this your…?” The distraught man looked at the ambulance worker. Brighton held his breath. He didn’t think he could handle hearing that the beauty in front of him was attached to someone.

“She’s my boss, she was going to check on a spark, I lost her on the walkie,” The man’s words came out in jerky incoherent sentences, but Brighton heard what he needed to hear, she wasn’t attached to the man.

“The police will want to talk to you. I’ll accompany her to the hospital,” Brighton spoke as if he had the authority to do so, and in his mind, protecting Vesta gave him the authority to do so. He unlocked her arms from around his neck and allowed the paramedics to put her in the waiting ambulance. As they strapped her in, Brighton turned to the man and asked a few questions.

“Does she have any family?”

“Just her brother Vinny in Vegas.”

“Her name?”

“Vesta St. James.”

“Call her brother, I’ll be at the hosptial.”

The man quirked an eyebrow at Brighton. “And who are you?”

“Brighton Thorn.” Without further explanation, Brighton climbed into the ambulance to keep his promise. She’s said don’t leave and he would be damned if he would.

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