Riding the Storm

By: Brenda Jackson


“J ayla? What are you doing in New Orleans?”

A gasp of surprise and recognition slipped from Jayla Cole’s lips when she quickly turned around. Her gaze immediately connected with that of the tall, dark and

dangerously handsome man towering over her as they stood in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in the beautiful French Quarter.

There stood Storm Westmoreland. The man had the

reputation of being able to talk the panties off any woman who caught his interest. According to what she’d heard,

even though Storm sported a clean-cut, all-American-kind- of-a-guy image, he was a master at providing pleasure

without promises of forever. The word was that he had the uncanny ability to turn any female’s fantasy into reality and had created many memories that were too incredible to

forget. Many women considered him the “Perfect Storm.”

He was also a man who, for ten years, had avoided her like the plague.

“I arrived in town a couple of days ago to attend the

International Organization for Business Communicators

convention,” she heard herself saying, while trying not to be captivated by the deep darkness of his eyes, the sensual

fullness of his lips or the diamond stud he wore in his left

ear. And if all that weren’t bad enough, there was his skin tone that was the color of semi-sweet chocolate, hair that

was cut low and neatly trimmed on his head and the sexiest pair of dimples.

He was dressed in a pair of khakis and a pullover shirt that accentuated his solid frame. His chest was broad and his butt was as tight as she remembered. He always looked

good in anything he wore. Her heart accelerated at the

memory of her mischievous teenage years when she’d

once caught him off guard by boldly brushing up against

him. She had thought she’d died and gone to heaven that day. And just like then, Storm was still more than just

handsome—he was drop-dead, make-you-want-to-scream, gorgeous.

“What about you?” she decided to ask. “What are you doing in New Orleans?”

“I was here for the International Association of Fire Captains meeting.”

She nodded, doing a remarkable job of switching her

attention from his strong male features to his words. “I read about your promotion in the newspapers. Dad would have been proud of you, Storm.”


She saw the sadness that immediately appeared in his

eyes and understood why. He hadn’t gotten over her

father’s death, either. In fact, the last time she had seen

Storm had been at her father’s funeral six months ago. He did, however, on occasion call to see how she was doing. Adam Cole had been Storm’s first fire captain when he had joined the squad at twenty, over twelve years ago. Her

father always thought of Storm as the son he’d never had.

She would never forget the first time her dad had brought him to dinner when she was sixteen. Storm had made quite an impression on her. Not caring that there was a six-year difference in their ages, she’d had a big-time crush on him and would never forget how she had gone out of her way to make him notice her. But no matter how much she’d tried, he never did. And now as she thought back, some of her

tactics had been rather outrageous as well as

embarrassing. Thank goodness Storm had taken all of her antics in stride and had rebuffed her advances in a genteel way. Now, at twenty-six, she was ten years older and wiser, and she could admit something she had refused to admit then. The man was not her type and was totally out of her


“So, how long will you be in The Big Easy?” he asked, breaking once again into her thoughts.

“I’ll be here for the rest of the week. The conference ended today, but I’ve made plans to stick around until Sunday to

take in the sights. I haven’t been to New Orleans in over five years.”

He smiled and it was a smile that made her insides feel

jittery. “I was here a couple of years ago and totally enjoyed myself,” he said.

She couldn’t help wondering if he’d come with a woman or if he’d made the trip with his brothers. Everyone who’d lived in the Atlanta area for an extended period of time was

familiar with the Westmoreland brothers—Dare, Thorn,