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Authors: Brenda Joyce

Firestorm

BOOK: Firestorm
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Brenda Joyce

Firestorm

Contents

Prologue

“Go!” Storm shouted. “Go, Nick, go!”

Chapter 1
Brett sat at the large, leather-topped mahogany desk with a…

Chapter 2
Brett didn't forget the unusual young woman after he left…

Chapter 3
On Friday morning Storm woke up sick with dread. She…

Chapter 4
Sunlight poked through the flowery chintz curtains of Storm's bedroom…

Chapter 5
Brett's bad mood lingered for the rest of the afternoon,…

Chapter 6
Leaning low over the stallion's neck, Storm let him gallop…

Chapter 7
She wanted to go.

Chapter 8
Although Marcy visited every day, helping to prepare Storm's trousseau,…

Chapter 9
The maid looked at him with stunned surprise, her eyes…

Chapter 10
The next morning Storm stared in dismay at her image…

Chapter 11
She hadn't seen him all day since she had left…

Chapter 12
“Marcy!”

Chapter 13
Brett was hurt, which was ridiculous. He had been eager…

Chapter 14
She had to stop. Demon was exhausted. The sun was…

Chapter 15
With two carriages and three servants it took four days…

Chapter 16
It was noon when they finally left their apartments and…

Chapter 17
She is beautiful, Brett thought, staring. Then he smiled. “Hello,…

Chapter 18
She stood bent over at the waist, her hands gripping…

Chapter 19
Sleep left Brett in gradual stages, lingering then fading like…

Chapter 21
“Brett,” Sophia cried in delight, touching him warmly.

West Texas, 1858

“Go!” Storm shouted. “Go, Nick, go!”

She was very tall, clad in buckskins, a thick braid hanging down her back. She was jumping up and down at the edge of the crowd of youths who had gathered around the two young men wrestling in the dust. A lean, muscular boy was on top, his skin bronzed, coppery, shining with sweat as he strained against his massive opponent. Suddenly Nick's back foot slipped from where it had been digging into the dirt, and in the next instant he was on his back.

Storm groaned and edged closer. “You can do it, Nick, you can do it,” she shouted to her brother. Before the words were even out of her mouth, Nick had flipped his opponent and twisted his arm up behind his back, and the intense struggle ceased.

“Nick's won!” Storm yelled, one fist raised in the air. Cheers, laughter, and good-natured boos rang out.

Nick released his opponent and rolled onto his back; both boys lay side by side, panting. He met his sister's excited gaze with his own cool one. “How could I dare lose?” he murmured dryly, rising to his feet, running fingers through thick, straight, blue-black hair.

Lars was a poor loser, just one of his many less-than-
endearing traits, and Storm's eyes widened as she saw him rise and leap at Nick from behind. “Nick!” she screamed.

Nick turned just in time to go flying backward in the dust, Lars on top of him. “You cheated, breed,” Lars shouted, his face red. His ham-sized fist slammed into Nick's face.

“Stop it,” Storm cried, knowing Lars could kill Nick. “Stop it!”

In the next instant Nick managed to twist free through sheer agility, and suddenly there was a long, lethal knife in his hand, the tip touching Lars's throat as Nick jammed his knee menacingly into the blond's groin. “This breed suggests that you calm down and reassess,” Nick said softly.

 

“Rathe!”

Inside the barn it was dim and cool. Storm's thirteen-year-old brother stood so close to the blond girl that his thighs touched hers. His expression was intense and pleading. “Please, Lucilla,” he whispered, taking her small hands in his. “Just one kiss.”

She stared at the stunningly handsome boy in front of her. “I can't.”

“You're so pretty,” he whispered, his sapphire eyes riveted on hers. “I haven't been able to stop thinking about you, Lucilla.”

She blushed. “Really?”

He grinned. “Really.” His hands went to her soft shoulders.

She trembled at his touch, her heart beating madly. He was only a boy, two years younger than she, and a devil at that—she'd known him for years, knew all about his escapades, but this was a side of him she'd never seen. His face was so close. His hands slid to her waist. “Rathe,” she managed.

“Just one kiss,” he coaxed, his beautiful lips parted only an inch from hers.

“I can't.”

“You can,” he whispered breathlessly. “Lucilla, sweetheart…”

Lucilla closed her eyes in surrender. She waited with bated breath. His lips were soft and gentle, but his body pressed against hers was hot and hard. Lucilla had been raised on a Texas ranch, so she knew very well what that hardness meant. Suddenly it didn't matter that he was only thirteen. She found herself opening her mouth for his probing tongue, found herself whimpering when his hand cupped her small breast. His thumb moved back and forth over her hard, aching nipple.

“Oh, Lucilla,” Rathe gasped when they came up for air. “Oh, Lucilla.”

 

The rich smells of the barbecue wafted all around the tiny, sable-haired woman and the large, striking, blond man. They were sitting under a tree, removed from the other guests, his arm draped around her while she snuggled against his side. She regarded him with wide violet eyes; he gazed at her with burning gold ones.

“You are an insatiable old goat,” Miranda said, breaking the sexual tension between them.

He threw back his head and laughed. “I can't help it,” he said, nuzzling her cheek with his. “We've been at this barbecue all weekend, and I want to go home and bed my wife.”

“Derek!” The tone was mocking and teasing.

“Come here, Miranda,” he cajoled, his tone a perfect echo of that of his younger son, Rathe.

She nestled closer and lifted her face for his kiss. It was long, intimate, and tender. She clung to him; he was the one who finally broke away. “Let's get the kids and head out of here,” he said, clearing his throat.

“Where are they, anyway?” Miranda asked as he helped her to her feet.

“I have no idea, but why don't we start with Storm? If there's a competition going on, she'll be there,” Derek said, smiling as he slid an arm around his wife's shoulders.

It didn't take long to find the group of youths watching the wrestling, cheering on their favorites. Miranda froze when she saw the participants, her face draining of color. “Oh, my God!”

Derek bit his lip to stop laughing.

Storm was on the ground wrestling with Buddy Ames, who was seventeen and shirtless. They grapped back and forth with Storm beneath him. In an effort to get him off, she wedged a thigh between his legs; her other leg wrapped around his calf. The kids surrounding them were laughing and shouting encouragement. Derek chuckled.

Miranda turned furiously on him. “Stop the fight this instant! This instant!”

“Yes, ma'am,” he said meekly, then leaned down to grab Buddy by the scruff of the neck and lift him off Storm as casually as one might pick up a kitten.

Miranda whirled on her elder son. “Nick! How could you let her fight like this!”

Nick shrugged, unruffled. “I tried to tell her she's too old to wrestle anymore, but she wouldn't listen. You know Storm, Ma.”

“Pa!” Storm protested, sitting in the dust in a most unladylike manner, knees spread. “I could have won!”

“I think you had better get up, young lady,” Derek said, trying to sound stern.

 

“You promised,” Miranda admonished, sitting on their four-poster bed, brushing her long, thick hair with hard, angry strokes.

Derek stood watching her, agonized. “But, Miranda, she's only a child.”

“A child?” Miranda stood. “She's almost seventeen and a woman, Derek, and it's time you faced it.”

“But San Francisco!”

“You have to let her go,” Miranda said softly, placing a soothing hand on his chest.

“We originally said we'd send her to your cousin Langdon when she turned eighteen,” he countered, his gaze worried.

She clasped his hand. “Derek, take a good look at our daughter. She's a beautiful woman, and she deserves a chance at society. She deserves silk gowns and kidskin slippers.” She grimaced. “She is certainly too old to be wrestling in the mud with grown men!”

“Damn,” Derek said. He paced the confines of their cozy bedroom. “Let me break it to her.”

Miranda smiled, looped her arms around his neck, and gave him a long kiss. “I love you.”

Derek held her close, reluctant to let her go. “Maybe I could tell her tomorrow?” he asked hopefully. His wife gave him a warning look.

He found Storm downstairs with the boys, whom he sent outside with a stern reminder of chores that needed to be done. “Storm, I've got a great surprise for you.”

“What is it?” she asked, smiling.

“Your mother and I were going to wait until you were eighteen, but we decided you're old enough now. You're going to spend the summer with Paul Langdon in San Francisco.”

“I won't go.”

“Honey, you'll love San Francisco.”

Storm was frantic. “Pa, this is all Mother's idea, isn't it? You can talk her out of it, I know you can—if you really want to.”

“Honey, as usual, your mother's right. You need to see another side of life. It's only for the summer.”

“I don't want to go,” Storm said stubbornly. “I'm happy here. I don't want to leave you and Mother and the boys.”

“It's only for the summer,” Derek repeated quietly. He smiled. “And I know you'll do me and your mother proud.”

With the sure knowledge of defeat came the urge to cry. Storm turned and fled up the stairs to her room. They were sending her away, far away to a strange city, away from everything and everyone she loved…She didn't answer when there was a knock on her door. She knew who it was.

“Storm?” Miranda entered and sat on the bed beside her daughter. Her hand stroked Storm's thick, gold-streaked hair. “Let's talk.”

“I don't want to go.”

“I want to tell you a little story,” Miranda said calmly, with a slight smile. She regarded her daughter for a moment, the lean, graceful form, broad-shouldered for a woman, with a tiny waist and narrow hips. Her legs were long and strong. She had a striking, unusual face, with high cheekbones and a wide jaw. Miranda suspected that the bone structure came from Derek's Apache mother.

“I know you're frightened, but you're a strong, brave girl with a warm, loving family behind you. You know I was raised in a convent in France. When I was seventeen my father summoned me home to England to tell me that he had betrothed me to a Texas rancher—a complete stranger. I was very sheltered and very innocent and very afraid but I had no choice in the matter. I was sent to Texas.”

Storm sat up. “Grandpa sent you to marry Pa?”

“No. My fiancé was actually Derek's best friend and blood brother. John had had an accident, so he sent Derek,
who was a captain in the Texas Rangers at the time, to escort me to him. It was very frightening, Storm, to be sent away to marry a complete stranger, knowing I had no control over my life and that I could never go back home.” Miranda paused to let Storm think about her words.

“So what happened?” Storm asked. “If you were betrothed to Pa's best friend when you met Pa…”

Miranda smiled at the recollection. “That's another story, dear, and a long one. Maybe sometime I'll tell it to you.”

Storm studied her knees.

“You're only going to my cousin's for a visit.”

Storm bit her lip. “I guess you're right.”

Miranda smiled and hugged her. “You have nothing to be afraid of. In fact, I won't be surprised if you have the time of your life.”

“I'm not afraid,” Storm said.

But she was.

BOOK: Firestorm
9.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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