Ignited by Passion, page 28
She knew before she got within a foot of the door that her late-night visitor was Storm. That would explain the reason her heart was beating so fast and her senses were getting heated. She tried forcing her conversation with Lisa out of her mind. Her best friend was wrong and she wasn’t afraid of anything, especially a serious relationship with Storm. She merely chose not to have one.
“Who is it?”
She quickly opened the door and he stood there, staring at her. His eyes were dark, intense, and she immediately recognized the look in them. Her lips curved into a smile. “Hi.”
He returned her smile and the heat infiltrating her senses kicked up another notch. “Hi, yourself. The card game ended and I wasn’t ready to go home.”
“I had to see you, Jayla.”
A teasing glint shone in Jayla’s eyes. “Okay, you see me. So now what?”
He slowly took a couple of steps forward, and she took a couple of steps back. When he was completely inside the house, he closed the door behind him and locked it. He walked the few feet over to her, cupped her shoulders in his hands and pulled her to him, her mouth just inches from his. “Now this,” he breathed against her lips.
Then kissed her.
As soon as their mouths touched, Storm felt something hot rush through his bloodstream. The scent of Jayla, as well as the taste of her, was getting to him and the only thing he could think of doing was devouring her, making love to her. Suddenly, some emotion that he’d never felt be fore flared within him, almost bringing him to his knees, and he finally acknowledged it for what it was.
Love. He loved her.
Storm drew back and stared at her for a quick second before his mouth came back down on hers again. His hands were everywhere as he began removing her clothes, and broke off the kiss just long enough to remove his own. Then he swept her into his arms and carried her into the bed room.
What should have been a no-brainer had been hard as hell for a staunch bachelor like him to figure out. The reason he had wanted a relationship with Jayla had nothing to do with them being great together in bed, but everything to do with emotions he hadn’t been able to recognize until tonight.
He was in love with Jayla Cole. She had caught more than the eye of the Storm. She had captured his heart.
Anchoring himself above Jayla on his elbows, Storm looked down at her and smiled. Dang, she always looked beautiful after experiencing an orgasm. What more could a man ask for than to be right there to experience each one with her.
He sighed deeply. Now that he knew he loved her, he had to figure out a way to get her to fall in love with him as well. First, he would have to gain her complete trust, and then he had to make sure she clearly understood that he was her Mr. Right and wanted a long-term relationship with her, one that ended in marriage. A smile curved his lips. Yeah, that’s what he wanted, Jayla as his wife.
“Why are you smiling?”
He met her gaze. Her eyelids were heavy and her cheeks had a sated flush. Leaning down, he brushed a kiss across her lips. “After what we’ve just shared, how can you ask me that?”
As usual, everything had been perfect. The way their bodies had come together while a trail of fire had blazed between them. It was a fire he hadn’t wanted to put out, but instead had done everything within his power to ignite even further, to make it burn out of control.
And it had.
By the time he had entered, she had been delirious with desire, begging breathlessly for him to make love to her; she’d been a she-cat, clawing his back and nipping his shoulders. And when they had finally come together, she had cried out his name and he had continued to move in side of her, taking them to heights of profound pleasure.
He loved her, he thought in wonder, as he leaned down and murmured her name against her cheek. “Mind if I stay the night?”
He felt her smile against his lips. “Umm, I would be highly disappointed if you didn’t,” she said softly.
He chuckled. “In that case, I’ll stay.” He pressed his mouth to hers and kissed her, needing the taste of her again. Moments later, he slowly pulled back and flicked his gaze over her features. Heat immediately surged through his groin. If he didn’t get out bed, he would be making love to her all over again, and she needed her rest.
“I’ll turn off the lights,” he whispered.
“All right, but hurry back.”
He grinned as he eased out of bed and slipped into his jeans. And just think he’d assumed that she needed her rest. He glanced at the huge plant that sat in the corner. It was just where he’d wanted it, in her bedroom so she could think of him whenever she saw it.
As he walked out of the bedroom, the image of Jayla’s sexy smile when she’d told him to hurry back filled his mind and made him want to do just as she’d requested. When he got to the living room, he leaned down to turn off the lamp near the sofa and his gaze caught sight of a letter lying on the coffee table. It was a letter from a fertility clinic.
Without thinking that he didn’t have any right to do so, he picked up the letter and read it. A few seconds later, he sank down on her sofa, not believing what he had just read. He felt stunned. Confused. Jayla had sought out the services of a fertility clinic to get artificially inseminated with some stranger’s sperm? Why?
He reread the letter, thinking there must be a mistake but again the contents were the same. She was scheduled to have a physical tomorrow—which actually was today—and then, when it was determined her body would be most fertile, she would go in to have the procedure done.
“You were supposed to hurry back.”
Storm stood when Jayla walked out of the bedroom. When she saw the letter in his hand, she quickly crossed the room and snatched it from him. “You had no right to read that, Storm.”
He just stared at her as every muscle in his body vibrated. Confusion gave way to anger. “Then how about you telling me what this is all about.”
She glared at him. “It’s private and personal and doesn’t concern you.”
“Doesn’t concern me? Like hell, it doesn’t. If it concerns you, then it concerns me. Are you actually considering having your body inseminated with some man’s sperm?”
Jayla tipped her head back; her anger clashed with his. He’d made it sound as if what she planned to do was some thing filthy and degrading. “It’s not what I’m considering doing, it’s what I will be doing. I made the decision months ago.”
Taken back by Jayla’s statement, he wiped a hand down his face as if doing so would erase his anger. When he looked over at her, she was standing with her hands on her hips, glaring at him. A thought suddenly popped into his head. “Wait a minute. Is this the project you’ve been so excited about lately?”
He shook his head, not believing the conversation they were having. “I understand the need for that procedure in certain situations, but not with you. Why would you even consider doing such a thing, Jayla?”
Her eyes were consumed with fire. “Because I want a baby, that’s why! I want a baby more than anything.”
Storm was shocked by that revelation. She had once mentioned she wanted to have kids, but she had never given him the idea that she’d been obsessed with having one. “And you want a child to the point where you would actually consider having a baby from someone you don’t know?”
“Yes. In fact, I prefer it that way. I want a baby and not the baby’s father. I don’t want a man coming in my life trying to run things.”
“Run things how?”
“Like telling me how to live my life, forcing the issue of whether I can have a career outside of my home, a man who’d try to control me and keep a tight rein on me.”
Of all those things she’d named, Storm recognized only one that he might eventually become guilty of.
“And what’s wrong with a man wanting the sole responsibility of taking care of his wife so she won’t have to wo
Her glare thickened. “For some women, nothing, but I prefer taking care of myself. I don’t want to depend on any one.”
Storm frowned and crossed his arms over his chest. “So, for your own selfish reasons, you’re willing to deny your child a father?”
“If it means not wasting my time looking for a Mr. Right who doesn’t exist, then yes.”
Storm tried to keep his anger in check. Why couldn’t she see that he was her Mr. Right? He slowly shook his head again. “If you want a baby, then I’ll give you my baby.”
“You heard me. I’ll be damned if I’ll let another man get the woman I love pregnant.”
Jayla was shocked at the words he’d spoken. “The woman you love?”
Silence shredded the air and Storm knew he had to get her to understand the depth of how he felt. He crossed the room and with his fingertip, lifted her chin to meet his gaze. “Yes. I love you, Jayla, and if you want a baby, then we’ll get married and I’ll give you one.”
She stared at him as if she didn’t believe he’d suggested such a thing. And then she took a step back from him. “Things wouldn’t work between us, Storm. You would want more from a wife than I’m willing to give.”
“And what about the fact that I love you?”
She shrugged. “I believe you like sleeping with me, but I find it hard to believe that you really love me, Storm.”
She sighed deeply when he didn’t say anything but continued to stare at her. “We agreed that we would end things between us whenever I was ready,” she finally said to break the silence. “Well, I’m ready. For us to continue seeing each other will only complicate matters.”
“Complicate matters like hell!” he said, his voice rising. “I tell you that I love you and that I want to marry you and give you the baby you want, and you’re telling me that you don’t believe a word of it and to get out of your life? And to top things off, you plan to continue with this crazy scheme to have a baby from a man who not only doesn’t love you, but a man you don’t even know?”
“I don’t owe you an explanation for anything I do, Storm. And considering everything, it would be best if you left.”
Storm stared at her for a moment, then moved past her to the bedroom. Moments later, fully dressed, he came back into the living room. He stood in front of her and said softly, “I hope that one day you’ll take your blinders off. Maybe then you’ll recognize your Mr. Right when he comes and stands right in front of you.”
He then turned and walked out the door.
When Storm left, Jayla moved around the house trying to convince herself that she was glad they would no longer be seeing each other. The last thing she needed was a man trying to control her life.
After closing things up and turning off the lights, she slipped back into bed, and tried to ignore the scent of Storm that still lingered there. She closed her eyes.
I love you, Jayla…
She opened her eyes, flipped on her back and stared up at the ceiling as she tried to convince herself that she wasn’t the one with blinders on, he was. Couldn’t he see that what he was feeling wasn’t really love but lust? Die-hard bachelors like Storm didn’t fall in love in a blink of an eye or after a few rolls between the sheets.
She turned to her side and closed her eyes, trying to force thoughts of Storm from her mind. But she couldn’t. Steeling herself, she sighed, knowing the memories of the times they’d spent together were too deep, too ingrained in her memory.
Getting over him wouldn’t be easy, but dammit she would try. She would shift her focus elsewhere and appreciate the good things that were happening to her. Every thing she’d wanted was falling in place. Tomorrow, she would go to the fertility clinic for her physical and then she would wait eagerly for the day when she would be inseminated.
Storm was not the most important thing to her—having a baby was.
“Hey, Captain, you got a minute?”
Storm glanced up from the stack of papers on his desk. After having a sleepless night, he had gotten up at the crack of dawn to come into the station. Most of his men hadn’t arrived yet. Although it wasn’t a requirement, he was one of those captains who preferred working the same hours as the firefighters he supervised.
“Sure, Cobb, come on in. What can I do for you?”
Darryl Cobb had recently become a father again. Four months ago, his wife Haley had given birth to their third child. Darryl was a few years younger than Storm and they had known each other since their high school days. He’d also known Darryl’s wife, Haley, from high school, as well, and remembered Darryl and Haley dating even back then. Evidently, Haley hadn’t had a problem recognizing Darryl as her Mr. Right since the two of them had been married for over ten years now and always seemed happy together.
“I was wondering if I can take a few hours off today. The baby has a doctor’s appointment and Haley just called. Her boss called an important meeting for later today.”
Storm nodded. Haley was a computer programmer for a financial management company. “That shouldn’t be a problem,” Storm said, turning to check the activity board. “You’re supposed to teach a class on fire prevention at that elementary school today. Do you have a replacement?”
Darryl smiled. “Sure do. Reed has agreed to cover for me.”
Storm nodded. The one thing he liked about the men he supervised was that they got along and were quick to help each other out when something unexpected came up. “In that case, your taking a few hours off won’t be a problem,” he said making a notation on the activity sheet.
He glanced back over at Cobb. “So how has it been going since Haley returned to work?”
Darryl chuckled. “Crazy.”
“Then why did she go back?” he asked, then quickly felt he’d been out of line for asking such a question. But from the laugh Cobb gave him, evidently he hadn’t been surprised by the question. From Storm’s early days as a fire fighter, it had been a joke around the station that his views on women working outside the home were unrealistic and so outdated they were pitiful. He’d been told that it would be hard as hell to find a woman who’d agree to do nothing but stay at home, barefoot and pregnant.
“Well, that humongous house we just bought in Stone Mountain was one good reason for her to return to work,” Darryl said, still chuckling. “But another reason is that Haley enjoys what she does and I’m not going to ask her to give it up.” He looked pointedly at Storm and said, “That’s where a lot of men make their mistakes.”
Storm raised a brow. “Where?”
Darryl smiled. “In assuming that they are the only ones who have it together. I personally think it’s women who really have it together, and we’re merely bystanders looking in. Besides, with Haley and me both sharing equally in the raising of our kids, I feel I’m playing just as an important role in their lives as she is, and that’s important to me. It has nothing to do with which one of us is bringing home the bacon, but mainly how the both of us are serving the bacon. Together, we’re forming a deep, nurturing attachment to our children and are giving them all the love we have, which is a lot. And to me that’s the most important thing.”
A few moments later after Cobb had left, Storm stood at the window in his office and looked out as he thought about what Darryl had said. Was one of the reasons Jayla hadn’t recognized him as her Mr. Right because in her mind he was all wrong?
Had what Nicole done to him all those years ago driven his beliefs that a husband should be sole provider for his wife and family? He would be the first to admit that be cause of Nicole’s rejection, he’d always wanted to prove the point that a man, highly educated or not, could take care of his household. His father had done it and had raised a family on a construction worker’s salary.
He thought of his brothers and their wives. Even married to a sheikh, his sister Delaney was still working as a pediatrician and doing one hell of a job raising their son Ari, who was beginning to be a handful.
He closed his eyes and remembered the scene that had played out in Jayla’s living room last night. The woman he loved was planning to let another man get her pregnant only because she was convinced there wasn’t a Mr. Right for her. She actually believed there wasn’t a man who could and would understand her need to be in control of her life.
He opened his eyes and glanced down at his watch. Ac cording to that letter he’d read last night, she had a physical at nine this morning at that fertility clinic. After the physical, it would probably be two to three weeks before the actual procedure could be performed. Hopefully that would give him time to convince Jayla that he really did love her, and that he would satisfy all her needs, including her need to remain independent…to a certain degree. Changing his conventional views wouldn’t be something he could do overnight, but it was something he could definitely work on, especially for Jayla.
The most important thing was to show her that he was the right man for her. The only man for her. For the second time since returning from New Orleans, the old for tune teller’s words crept into his thoughts.
You should keep your sights high, be patient and let destiny take its course.
He smiled. Perhaps the old woman hadn’t been a flake after all and had known exactly what she’d been talking about. Tomorrow was the night of the charity benefit and because of her involvement, he knew Jayla would be there. He would start wooing her with the intensity of a man who had one single goal in his mind.
To win the love of the woman he intended to marry.
“You can go ahead and get dressed, Ms. Cole,” the nurse said smiling. “The doctor will return in a few minutes to go over the results of your tests.”
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