Ignited by passion, p.23

Ignited by Passion, page 23

 

Ignited by Passion
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  Forever.

  That was a word he had never included in his vocabulary, one he had never associated with a woman. He didn’t do forever, and never thought about it. But he had to admit that with Jayla Cole, he thought of things he had never thought of before. And he was glad for the time they had spent together. He had learned things about her that he otherwise might not have known, such as her passion for strawberry cheesecake and how she volunteered her spare time at Emory University Hospital’s Cancer Center.

  “Storm, I need to get up, get dressed and leave.”

  He stared at her, feeling a sense of finality and a part of him felt a sense of loss he’d never experienced before and one he couldn’t explain. And then, suddenly, he wanted her with an urgency he had never wanted her or any woman before. Blood rushed through his veins and he breathed in deeply. “Storm…”

  He looked at her and his breath stopped. He had to have her again, this one last time. He eased her beneath him the same moment that he lowered his head and captured her lips, tasting her, mating his tongue over and over with hers. She had stamped her mark on him and now he was going to make sure he stamped his on her.

  For just a little while, he would make her his, and if he lived a hundred years, there would be no regrets. What he would have were memories to last a lifetime.

  And from the way she was returning his kiss he could tell she wanted those memories, too.

  Chapter 6

  “So, how was your trip to New Orleans?” Lisa Palmer asked as she sat back in her chair at Jayla’s kitchen table.

  Jayla looked up and met her best friend’s curious stare. “It was fine. Why do you ask?”

  “Because I’ve noticed that since you’ve been back, you haven’t said much about it.”

  Jayla drew in a deep breath and wished she could ignore Lisa’s curious scrutiny. It was just like Lisa to pick up on her reference about the trip. She knew that sooner or later she would have to come clean and tell her friend every thing, including her planned trip to the fertility clinic.

  “Umm, why do I get the feeling that you’re not telling me something?”

  Cupping her chin in her palm, Jayla forced a smile. “You’re imagining things.”

  Lisa shook her head. “No, I don’t think so.” She gazed at her thoughtfully, then said, “There’s something different about you. You look more relaxed and well-rested which can only mean one thing.”

  Jayla swallowed, wondering if she really had a different look about her. “What?” she asked softly.

  Lisa’s lips tilted into a deep smile. “That you got plenty of rest this trip, which is a good thing that I didn’t go with you. Had I gone I would have worn you out with endless shopping and—”

  “I ran into someone.”

  Lisa lifted a brow. When seconds ticked off and Jayla didn’t say anything else, Lisa scooted closer in her chair. “Okay, are you going to keep me in suspense or are you going to tell me?”

  Jayla took a sip of her lemonade before responding. “I ran into Storm Westmoreland.”

  Lisa placed her glass of lemonade down on the table. “Storm Westmoreland? The Perfect Storm?”

  Jayla chuckled. “Yes, that Storm.”

  Lisa stared at her for a moment as she recalled Jayla once telling her about the crush she’d had on Storm Westmoreland at sixteen. And, like most women in the Atlanta area, she also knew about his reputation as a womanizer, and that’s what bothered her the most. “What was Storm Westmoreland doing in New Orleans?” she asked, having a feeling there was a lot more to the story.

  Jayla chuckled again. “He was attending a conference.”

  “And…?”

  Jayla was quiet for a moment. She knew Lisa had a thousand questions and decided she might as well tell her everything or else she would get grilled to death. “And we ran into each other and one thing led to another and we ended up having an affair.”

  She almost grinned when she saw Lisa’s jaw drop. She then watched as Lisa picked up her glass and drained it as if it contained something stronger than lemonade.

  Lisa then turned her full attention to her. “You’re no longer a virgin?” she asked as if her mind were in shock.

  Jayla did grin this time. “Nope.”

  Lisa then slumped back in her chair and pinned her with a look. Jayla was well aware of that look. It was a look that said you’d better tell me everything and start from the beginning.

  “Like I said,” Jayla said, before she was hammered with relentless questions, “Storm and I ran into each other, decided to spend time together and one thing led to another.”

  “Evidently.”

  Now it was Jayla who pinned Lisa with a look. “And don’t expect me to tell you everything because there are some details you’re better off not knowing.” Her mind was suddenly filled with thoughts of everything she and Storm had done. They had made love so many times she had lost count, and each time had been better than the last.

  What she held special was the first time and how, afterward, he had drawn her bath water, gently picked her up into his arms and carried her into the bathroom. But it was the last time they’d made love on the morning she’d left, that stood out in her mind more than the others.

  With a loving tenderness that had almost brought tears to her eyes, he had used his hands and mouth to drive her over the edge, making her body burn out of control for him. And only when she was about to come apart in his arms did he fill her and begin moving back and forth in side her, combining tenderness with compelling need, and sending her escalating into a sharp, shattering orgasm that had taken her breath away and had left her sated, exhausted and spent. And as much as she’d tried to stay awake, she had drifted off to sleep. They both had. When they had awakened, she’d dressed quickly and returned to her room to pack.

  He had gone to her room with her to help her pack and the last kiss he had given her before she had walked out of the hotel room door for the airport had been off-the-charts fantastic. She knew that if she never made love to another man, she would always remember having that time with Storm. It had been more than just good, mind-blowing sex. For three days, he had made her feel special, as if knowing he’d been her first had been extraordinary and he was still in awe of the gift she had given him.

  “Jayla?”

  She jumped when Lisa snapped a finger in front of her face. “What?”

  “You haven’t answered my question.”

  Jayla frowned. “What question?”

  “Do you have any regrets?”

  Jayla immediately shook her head. “No. Twenty-six years was long enough to be a virgin, but I’d never met a man I felt worthy of giving myself to until Storm.”

  Lisa raised a dark brow. “With Storm’s reputation, you thought he was worthy?”

  “Yes, because he didn’t try to snowball me into doing it with him. In fact, at first he actually tried resisting my advances. I’m the one who came on to him. And he always behaved like a perfect gentleman, giving me choices and not assuming anything.”

  Lisa nodded, and then a curious glint shone in her dark eyes. “Is everything we’ve heard about him true?”

  Jayla tried to ignore the heat that was settling between her legs when she thought about just how true it was. When it came to lovemaking, Storm Westmoreland was a practiced and skillful lover. She couldn’t help but smile. “Yes, everything we’ve heard is true.”

  A silly smirk appeared on Lisa’s face and she sat back in her chair. “Damn. Some women have all the luck,” she said with envy. She then smiled. “So when will the two of you see each other again?”

  Jayla tried to ignore the ache that suddenly settled around her heart, convincing herself it was only indigestion. “We won’t be seeing each other again. What we shared was nothing more than a no-strings-attached affair, and since neither of us is into relationships, we decided that when we returned to Atlanta, he would continue to do his thing and I would continue to do mine.”

  Lisa lifted a brow
. “You don’t have a ‘thing’ to do. You basically live a boring life. All you do is go to work and come home, except for those days when you’re volunteering at the cancer center.”

  Jayla knew what Lisa said was true, but in a few weeks all of that would change. She smiled. “Well, I want you to know that my life will no longer be boring. I’ve decided to take the first step in doing something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”

  “Oh, and what’s that?”

  “Have a baby.”

  Jayla watched Lisa’s expression. She looked as if some one had just pulled a chair out from under her. Lisa looked at her long and hard before finally saying something. “What do you mean, have a baby?”

  “Just what I’ve said. You of all people know how much I love children.”

  Lisa shrugged. “Hey, I love them, too, but I’m not planning to have any until Mr. Right comes along and I’m ready to settle down and get married.”

  Jayla raised her eyes to the ceiling. “Well, yeah, but for some of us there is no Mr. Right, so I’ve decided not to wait any longer.”

  Lisa was quiet for a moment as she pinned Jayla with that look again. “Tell me you didn’t deliberately try and get pregnant by Storm Westmoreland.”

  Jayla couldn’t help but laugh. Lisa’s question was so ridiculous. Storm Westmoreland would be the last man she would want to father her child. He was too controlling. “Trust me, that thought never crossed my mind. Besides, I would never trick any man that way. I made all the necessary arrangements before I left for New Orleans, and I’m going to go to a fertility clinic and have the procedure done.”

  Lisa quickly held up her hand. “Time out. Back up. What are you talking about?”

  Jayla smiled. The expression on Lisa’s face was both endearing and maddening. They were as close as sisters and she knew her best friend well enough to know that she would not agree with her decision regarding the fertility clinic. But then, Lisa didn’t have any problems finding a Mr. Right since she was already involved in a serious relationship with a wonderful guy. Added to that was the fact that Lisa came from a big family, so she didn’t know the meaning of loneliness.

  “I’m talking about my decision to have a baby. I’ve already done the preliminary paperwork and they’d located a potential donor who fits the profile I’ve requested. All that’s left is for me to take another physical, which is scheduled for next Friday. Once it’s determined when I’m most fertile during my cycle, I’ll be going in to have the procedure done. If I’m not successfully inseminated on the first try, then there will be another try and if necessary, a third or however many times it takes. I’m sure my eggs will eventually be ripe for some donor’s sperm,” she said smiling.

  Lisa, Jayla noticed, wasn’t smiling back. In fact, she looked mortified. “Tell me you’re joking about this, Jayla.”

  Jayla sighed deeply. She then worked her bottom lip between her teeth several times, which was something she tended to do when she was bothered by something. Over the years, Lisa may not have agreed with everything she did but had always supported her. Jayla knew because of her friend’s traditional beliefs, this would be a hard sell, which was why she had put off telling Lisa about her plans.

  She lifted her chin. “No, I’m not joking, Lisa. I’ve made up my mind about this. You may not agree with what I’m doing, but I really do need you to support me on this. I want a baby more than anything.”

  “But there are other options, Jayla.”

  “Yes, and I considered those other options and none will work for me. I want a baby not an involvement with a man who may not be Mr. Right, and I don’t have time to wait until I finally get lucky. Times have changed. A woman no longer needs a man to get pregnant or to raise a child, and that’s the way I want to do things.”

  Lisa didn’t say anything for a long moment, then she reached across the table and captured Jayla’s hand in hers. “Although I can understand some women having the procedure done in certain situations, your case is different, Jayla, and what you plan to do goes against everything I believe in. When it’s possible, I think a child should benefit with the presence of both the mother and father in the home. But if you’re hell-bent on going through with it, then I’ll be there to do whatever you need me to do.”

  Jayla blinked back the tears in her eyes. “Thanks.”

  “Hey, Storm, get your mind back on the game, stop daydreaming and throw out a card.”

  Thorn Westmoreland’s words recaptured Storm’s attention and he threw out a card then leaned back in his chair and frowned. “I was not daydreaming and my mind is on the game,” he said throwing out a card.

  After another round of bid whist, Stone Westmoreland shook his head. “If your mind is on the game then you’re a lousy card player since you just threw out a diamond in stead of a heart which means you’ve reneged.” A huge smile tilted the corners of Stone’s lips. “But I’m not complaining since that puts me closer to winning.”

  Storm pushed back his chair and stood, glaring at his four brothers. Apparently they’d found his lack of concentration amusing but he didn’t find a damn thing funny about it. “I’m sitting out for a while. I need some fresh air.”

  While he was walking away he heard his brother Thorn ask the others, “What’s wrong with him?”

  “Don’t know,” his brother Dare replied. “He’s been acting strange ever since he got back from that conference in New Orleans.”

  “Maybe the pressures of being a fire captain is getting to him,” he heard his brother Chase add. “There’s nothing worse than letting a job stress you out.”

  “Yeah,” his other brothers agreed.

  Storm shook his head when he opened the door and stepped out on the lanai. His brothers didn’t know how wrong they were. His new promotion or work-related stress had nothing to do with the way he’d been acting since returning from New Orleans.

  He glanced up and noticed a full moon and the stars in the sky. It was a beautiful night and he was glad he had come outside to appreciate the evening for a little while.

  After Thorn and Tara had gotten married, they had moved into Tara’s place since it was larger than Thorn’s, but only temporarily. They were building their dream home on a parcel of the Westmoreland family homestead, which was located on the outskirts of town. It was a pretty nice area if you liked being out in the boon-docks and cherished your privacy.

  Storm shook his head as an image of a woman forced its way into his head. It was the same image he’d been trying like hell to forget the past week. Jayla Cole.

  He balled his hands into fists at his sides as he wondered what was wrong with him. He’d had affairs before but none had affected him the way this one had. No woman had ever remained in his thoughts after the affair had ended. He’d known there would be memories, hell, he had counted on savoring them. But he had wanted them safely tucked away until he was ready to revisit them. He hadn’t counted on having no control of his own memories.

  Visions of Jayla in the red dress were taking him to the cleaners and wringing him out. And then there were those images of the sway of her hips whenever she walked, whether she was in heels or flats. It didn’t matter. The woman was sensuality on legs. She was a mouthwatering piece flat on her back as well. All he had to do was close his eyes and he was reliving the evenings filled with their mind-boggling, earth-shattering lovemaking.

  She had fired up and completely satisfied a need within him that he hadn’t known existed. Each and every time he had taken her to bed they had made incredible love. He could get her so wet, so hot, so ready, and likewise she could get him so hard, so needy, so out-of-his-mind greedy, to the point where getting inside her body was all he could think about; all he wanted.

  And then there was the look on her face whenever she came. It was priceless. It was as if the force of what she felt stole her breath and the intensity of it exploded her world into tiny fragments as she tumbled into mindless completion. Seeing that experience on her face would then push him o
ver the edge into the most potent climax he’d ever experienced, usually more than one—back to back.

  “Damn,” he let out a low growl and wiped a sheen of perspiration from his forehead with his hand. He was used to sexual experiences, but getting seduced by memories was something that he was not used to or comfortable with. Hell, he had even thought about dropping by her house to make sure she was all right. If that didn’t beat all. He had never checked up on a woman after the affair ended.

  “Storm, are you okay?”

  He inhaled deeply when he heard his sister-in-law’s voice and quickly decided that although it was dark, it wouldn’t be a good idea for him to turn around just yet. There was a glow of light filtering out from the living room and he had gotten hard just thinking about Jayla.

  “Storm?”

  “Yeah, Tara, I’m fine.” Seconds later when he was sure he had gotten his body back under control he turned around and smiled.

  Tara Matthews was beautiful and had nearly blown Storm and his brothers away the first time they had seen her at their sister Delaney’s apartment in Kentucky. And he might have even considered having a relationship with her, but he’d soon discovered that Tara was a handful. He and his brothers had quickly concluded that the only man who could possibly handle her was their brother Thorn, so they had deemed her Thorn’s challenge. Now, a little more than two years later, she was Thorn’s wife. But she still held a special place in his heart as well as the hearts of his brothers because in the end though Thorn may have handled her, Tara had proved that she was capable of handling Thorn, which wasn’t an easy task.

  He met her gaze and saw concern in her eyes. “I was worried about you,” she said softly. “When I passed through the dining room and saw you missing, your brothers said you had needed fresh air. I didn’t know if you were coming down with something, especially when they’d said you’d been playing badly tonight.”

  Storm laughed, then gave her a playful grin. “Hell, they claim I play lousy even when I’m winning.”

 
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