Authors: Sarah O'Rourke
A man that had fought for everything
he’d gotten, Colin Storm was, by all accounts, a warrior. Born in a Texas town
on the Mexican border to a dirt poor family that he rarely spoke about, Colin
had clawed his way out of poverty, working hard in school and on the football
field alike. She privately suspected that either one or both of his parents
had been abusive. After all, loved and adored children didn’t fight so hard to
get the hell away from doting parents. And Colin had done everything possible
to escape the bowels of Texas. To her knowledge, he didn’t communicate with
either of his parents. Oh, he sent a monthly stipend to them each month – she
knew that much from her perusal of the monthly financial statements of
Alliance, but she’d never so much as heard him utter their names aloud since
she began working for him.
His company bio had let her know that Colin
had graduated his high school with honors and earned a scholarship to the
University of Texas. He’d completed the four year program in just over two and
a half years and gone to work for a small advertising firm in Dallas
immediately after graduation. He’d climbed the ladder even more quickly after
that, landing coveted account after account for the small firm. Five years
later, he’d bought the small company from its owner and renamed it Alliance in
honor of the small circle of executives that had pooled their money and thrown
in behind Colin. Those select people had become his surrogate family with him as
It was little wonder. Beyond his
ex-wife, Hadley, and their son, Joshua, the only actual family she knew he
remained in contact with was his brother, Matthew. He wasn’t quite the
go-getter that his prominent brother was, but he was quite successful in his
own right as an editor at one the leading publishing houses in New York City.
Intensely private, Colin only shared the
information he wished to disperse. He’d long ago adopted the “less is more”
approach in regard to his own personal life. At least, that’s what he’d tried
to do…right up until the Hell Bitch (as Abby privately liked to refer to Hadley
Storm) had left him. That woman had attempted to drag Colin’s past into court
in order to position herself for a better settlement in the divorce.
It hadn’t worked. Colin had friends in
high places and wasn’t afraid to use them or their resources if the situation
warranted it. It was one of the things she admired most about him. He wielded
considerable power, but he only used it when it became absolutely necessary.
Mostly, he believed in the art of the clean, fair fight…in business and in his
personal life. However, he was prepared to change his tactics when his son’s
wellbeing hanged in the balance.
Hadley had pushed him, and he had shoved
back. Her airtight case against him had withered on the vine, and Abigail
Donovan wasn’t ashamed to say that she’d danced around her desk after receiving
word that Colin Storm, his son, and his company were safe. Instead of half of
everything he owned, Hadley had received a very nice living allowance and a
sizeable child support check on a monthly basis. Colin had received the joint
custody that he’d wanted so badly.
Sadly, though, it was apparent that the
man would rather have his wife back. Although, for the life of her, Abigail
had no idea
. She’d had Hadley’s number from the day she’d met the
woman. Perhaps it was because she’d grown up around women like her.
Pretentious and vapid, the lady Colin had married oozed ambition…for her
husband, and more importantly, for herself. She’d assured her place in Colin’s
life by giving him a son and had used that child accordingly.
What Abigail couldn’t wrap her mind
around, however, was how he couldn’t see it.
She supposed it was true. Love blinded
men and made them fools, she thought sadly as Colin’s voice interrupted her
"Donavan, you need to relax,"
Colin chided, honestly wanting to put his colleague at ease. He liked Abigail.
Really liked her. In a way that tightened his groin and reminded him that,
yeah, he still had needs. Physical needs. Seeing her slender face tightened
with anxiety wasn't exactly his favorite thing in the world. "Have you
ever been through a hurricane before?"
"Once. Back in the eighties,"
she replied absently, frowning as she watched an ambulance zip past the hotel,
lights blazing in the grayness that had settled outside giving off an eerie
glow in underneath the street lights. It was so not a good sign of things to
come, she thought nervously, remembering a long ago nanny’s whispered warnings
about paying attention to omens and portents. One of the so-called privileges
of having blue blood and being an offspring of a couple that had ancestry
dating back to the Mayflower, she guessed….lots of foreign nannies. That one
had been Haitian in descent.
"Donavan," Colin ordered
sternly when her small hands balled into fists at her side as a clap of thunder
shook the room, "step away from the window. Now." Waiting until
she'd turned away from the glass and took a step toward him, he continued
calmly, "Tell me how you managed to get through the last hurricane without
a nervous breakdown. Maybe we can replicate that experience."
Eyes widening as images from that long
ago weekend when Hurricane Gloria wreaked havoc on New York City, Abigail
swallowed. "I...don't think so," she faltered while she shook her
head, feeling her cheeks heat underneath the weight of Colin Storm's gaze.
"That was a rather unique experience," she said as blithely as she
Raising an eyebrow at her less than
forthcoming explanation, Colin asked, "How so?" Already interested,
the flush consuming her usually pale, smooth face only ramped up his desire to
flesh out her secrets.
Clearing her throat uncomfortably as she
averted her gaze, the sumptuous pile carpet suddenly far more interesting than
anything else in the room, she mumbled, "I was...distracted."
"Distraction is good." Colin
nodded approvingly. Distraction was exactly what his tightly wound colleague
needed at the moment. "What did you do to distract yourself? We'll just
follow the plan for whatever worked last time. Consider it a template."
"I...uhmmm," Abigail choked as
she swallowed hard and her toes curled inside her ballet flats. "I doubt
that's going to be possible," she denied hoarsely, glancing over her
shoulder as the building seemed to moan around them, a heavy gust of wind
rattling the window pane.
"I never thought you were such a
pessimist, Donavan," Colin grumbled, sitting up straighter in the
surprisingly comfortable chair. Why the hell wouldn't she just cooperate with
him? "Just tell me what we need to do, and we'll do it," he demanded,
trying to tamp down on his irritation. He was used to people following his
directives immediately. Money and power usually assured him that his orders
were well followed. He had learned, however, that as beautiful as Abigail
Donavan was, the woman could be outright infuriating when she decided to be
Hearing his roughly spoken request,
Abigail's body flooded with heat. He was trying to help, her psyche reminded
her calmly. So, biting his head off really wasn’t an option. But telling him
the truth? She wasn’t sure she had the courage that kind of honesty would
But oh, how she'd like to spend the
length of this hurricane being distracted in the same way she had been several
years ago...especially with Colin Storm. God knew it would probably be much
more satisfying now that it had been then. Unfortunately, she doubted her sexy
boss would be quite so adamant in his demand if she told him what her stress
reliever had been that long ago night.
Her method wouldn't exactly be FEMA
Human Resources approved, she thought with a silent laugh at her own
His growl told her that he was not
appreciating her silence on the matter any longer.
"Colin, it isn't possible,
okay?" Abigail retorted, lifting a hand to shove her hair behind her ear
while hazarding a look in his direction. And then his dark hooded gaze told
her he wasn’t about to let the subject drop between them.
"It's not impossible until I say it
is," Colin countered smoothly, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his
knees as he leveled her with a penetrating stare. "Talk, Abby. Now."
Like a freaking dog trying to find his
favorite bone, Abigail thought with annoyance. That was Colin Storm to a tee.
"Fine," she snapped, rolling her eyes. "You really want to
know?" she asked, dropping her hands to her hips as she faced off with
him. Let’s see if she could stun the man others often accused of being made of
"I do," Colin returned with a
nod as he impatiently waited for her explanation.
"I spent that night having
exhausting, mind numbing sex in every position conceivable with an old
boyfriend from college. He kept me so busy that I barely even noticed the tree
falling on the house next door, nor did I care," she informed him briskly,
the words spoken evenly and with no emotion. "So, Mister Storm," she
asked mockingly, "do you think you'd be willing to help me out with
that?" she smirked, crossing her arms over her chest as she waited for his
Staring into the brightened eyes of the
woman standing just a foot or so away from him, Colin's eyes darkened as her
explanation rang in his ears, heating his blood almost to the point of boiling.
If she ever realized how close he was to throwing her down on the bed behind
him and showing her exactly what he was capable of doing, he’d ride out this
hurricane in a jail cell at the local precinct’s station. "I'm assuming
you think I'll say no to that scenario," he replied silkily, forcing
himself to inject a casual note into his voice that he didn’t particularly
Taken aback at that simple statement, Abigail's
eyes narrowed on Colin Storm's darkly handsome face. She could feel his grey eyes
assessing her as she stood in front of him, almost as though he was undressing
her with his eyes. But, that couldn't be right, could it? The shy, insecure
woman that still resided inside her despite her best efforts to undo the damage
a distant and critical mother had done her sat in the corner of her mind and
shook her head. She had to be misreading this situation. There was no way a
man this hot could possibly be looking at her with any real interest. "I..."
she faltered, unsure how to respond to his question.
For once in her life, Abigail Donavan
was truly flummoxed. She had no clue what to say now. Running a self
conscious hand through her tangled dark locks, she licked her dry lips.
His mouth tilted in a faint smile, Colin
gave her an openly challenging look. "Stunned speechless, huh?" he
mocked teasingly as he winked. "I guess there really is a first time for
That was the second time he’d called her
by the girlish nickname that nobody had used with her since high school. She’d
cured most everyone in her life of using it. Except him. He
hated it with a passion and yet, he persisted. "Are you making fun of
me?" Abigail retorted, finding her tongue as she felt a shudder slide
through her body.
"Maybe a little," Colin
admitted with a slight shrug of his broad shoulders. "But, you never
answered my question, Donavan. You assumed I'd say no, didn't you?"
Blinking rapidly as she tried to process
whatever it was that seemed to be happening between them in the small hotel
room, Abigail swallowed. "Well...yes," she managed after a moment.
Of course she thought he’d say no. Did he assume she was a moron? Or, had he
finally seen through her well honed shields and glimpsed the needy woman that
hovered just below her surface… the one that had fantasized about having him
naked above her in bed since the moment she’d first learned that she would
indeed be interviewing for a true legend inside their field of expertise? That
potential outcome was chilling enough that she felt her heartbeat stutter
beneath her breasts.
"You know," Colin stated, his
voice low as he looked into Abigail's confused eyes, "I've been told on
more than one occasion lately that I've become somewhat predictable. Not a
great thing for a guy that makes his living in the advertising world, wouldn’t
you agree? Maybe it's time for me to put a stop to those assumptions,"
he commented in a voice that held just the hint of a threat.
Watching as Colin's lithe body began to
rise from the deep blue chair, Abigail wondered if she'd fallen into some weird
parallel universe. It was one where suddenly Colin Storm oozed sex appeal
from every pore of his body, and she wanted to catch every drop with her tongue.
Approaching her slowly, his steps
measured and deliberate, Colin's deep voice commanded her, "Say something,
Abigail." Her name tasted wonderful on his lips, falling off his tongue
smoothly, the feel natural in a way he had not expected to experience.
"I...don't know what to say," Abigail
replied breathlessly as her heart did somersaults within her chest, her body
tingling with each passing step that he took in her direction. Get it
together, Abs, she ordered herself. This is what you’ve dreamed of happening,
isn’t it? Pull your mind together and enjoy this moment.
"All right, let's approach this
from another direction," Colin replied, his voice a seductive purr in the
lavish hotel room. "What would you say if I told you that you'd have my
full and undivided support in riding this hurricane out in whatever way you
deemed necessary?" he queried, his eyes blazing with an intensity she'd
never witnessed in the past.