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Summer Heat

Jaci Burton

  Summer Heat

  Jaci Burton

  Book 1 in the Storm For All Seasons series.

  Aidan Storm is part of a unique New Orleans family whose magical connection with the weather goes back many years. Aidan uses his powers only when it suits his purposes. Wielding the magic of summer heat can be advantageous when heating up the sheets with his girl du jour. Until he meets Melissa Cross. She fires him up hotter than a Louisiana heat wave and if he doesn't watch his heart he might suffer a meltdown.

  Melissa Cross is a staid Bostonian feeling like a fish out of water working alongside Aidan Storm and his peculiar family. When strange things start happening whenever she's with Aidan, she wonders what kind of magic he possesses. After all, it isn't every day it rains in the bedroom! It isn't long before Aidan heats up Melissa's summer and melts her frosty heart.

  A Romantica(r) paranormal erotic romance from Ellora's Cave

  Summer Heat

  Jaci Burton


  To Charlie, for bringing magic into my life for all seasons. I love you for the care you take with my heart, for your support in my writing, and for loving me even on the stormiest of days.

  Chapter One

  Aidan Storm strolled down the hallway of the corporate offices of The Rising Storm, his family's hotel. A now-familiar restlessness made him anxious.

  Easy solution to that problem. He just needed a little fun. And what better fun than teasing the voluptuous redhead at the front desk. No crowds gathered, and Luanne stood there completely alone. He stepped to the counter and leaned over, tapping his finger on the back of her hand. She looked up and her eyes widened.

  "Go away, Aidan, I'm working. And the answer is still no, same as it was last time you asked me."

  "Come on, Luanne, you know it's been awhile." Aidan cast a smoldering look in the redhead's direction. The sassy front desk clerk wasn't buying it, judging from her crossed arms and don't-touch-me stance.

  "Tough. You know I like you and all, but after that time all those months ago you never called me, never came to chat with me like you used to before we hopped in the sack together."

  "I meant to, honey. Work's just been busy."

  "I'm sure it has. Much as I'd love to, no way. Besides, I have a boyfriend now."

  "Is he as good as I was?"

  She raised a perfectly arched brow at him. "Better. And that means hands off."

  Aidan looked to his left and right, hoping his omnipresent brother, Logan, wouldn't catch him trying to get it on with the front desk clerk. He reached across the shiny counter to grab a piece of Lu's silken hair in his hand, letting it trail through his fingers suggestively. "You remember how good it was between us, don't you?"

  Luanne sighed, her face colored a bright pink, and she licked her lips. Aidan had vivid memories of how her wide mouth felt around the tip of his penis. Just the thought of it had the unruly bastard twitching in his pants. Not now, dammit.

  Like his cock would ever listen to anything he said. He should just leave her alone. She had a boyfriend already. But for some reason he hated to lose. He was the one who usually walked away, not the other way around.

  So he'd used Luanne then never called her again. She'd been in it for the sex, same as him. And now she had a boyfriend, which meant competition. Aidan's blood stirred at the thought.

  "You know, Lu, we could do it one more time, just for old time's sake?"

  Before she could respond, a cold hand squeezed his shoulder. He didn't even need to look to know who was there.

  "Hey, Logan," Aidan said without turning around. "I was just checking something with Lu."

  A deep, dark voice dripping with ice responded. "You were checking to see how long it would take until she'd drop her panties for you?"

  Luanne cringed, offered a shaky smile and scurried off. Aidan turned and looked into the frosty blue eyes of his brother, the CEO of The Rising Storm Hotel. Sometimes Aidan hated that Logan had been born first. "If you gotta know, then yeah. I was about to coax her panties right off her."

  "Do it on your own time, not company time." Logan offered a menacing glare that usually froze the hotel employees into doing his bidding. But after nearly thirty years of having that look turned on him, it held little fear for Aidan.

  "Merde, Logan. You have the worst goddamn timing I've ever seen."

  One corner of Logan's mouth lifted. "You'll survive without female companionship for a bit longer. Besides, you have work to do."

  Aidan glanced at his watch and swore. "That's right. The Boston woman."

  Logan shook his head. "The Boston woman's name is Melissa Cross, and she's Director of Marketing for the Chesapeake Casino organization. You know damn well that this dual venture between our hotel and their casino is a big step for us. So don't fuck it up."

  Aidan leaned against the checkin counter and crossed his arms. "Like I would do anything to jeopardize the family business."

  "If your dick's involved, then yeah. What do you think just happened there with Luanne? That's exactly the kind of management/employee fraternization that could land us in big trouble, Aidan. I know you and Luanne have a history, but she's an employee and so are you. If she wanted to, she could scream sexual harassment. So keep it zipped. Don't screw this deal, and for God's sake don't screw our new partner."

  Aidan laughed at that. Fun was fun, but business was business, and dammit he did know the difference. There were plenty of females to play with. The last thing he needed was an entanglement with some uppity Boston socialite whose touch would probably ice his balls. He preferred his women with warm, willing bodies, and sizzling hot desires. Women who wanted fun and a little excitement, but no entanglements.

  Just like him.

  Okay, maybe he liked all women. They were warm, soft, smelled good and eased the perennial ache that burned inside him. If the ones he dallied with didn't challenge him enough to keep them for more than a few episodes of fun in the sack, it was his fault, not theirs.

  There was no such thing as a soulmate or that one woman he was destined to be with. Destiny and soulmates were part of his mother's magical mumbo jumbo that he listened politely to and then promptly discarded.

  "Anyway," Logan said, inclining his head, "she's waiting for you over in the sitting area. Maria said she'd stopped at the desk awhile ago, and she doesn't look happy."

  Aidan followed Logan's gaze to the center of the lobby where a tall, cool blonde stood with her arms crossed, foot tapping and no smile on her face. Still, she was damn fine looking.

  Nice. More than nice. A surge of heat arced through him, the air tingling with electricity. Interesting. That never happened before when he looked at a woman. Oh, he might feel a little tingle, but not an outright jolt.

  And the icy blonde was not his type at all. He preferred dark, sultry brunettes, petite and with a sassy fire that lit up the bedroom.

  This one couldn't be more different. Long, straight, honey blonde hair was pulled back in some kind of binding, but he bet it would feel like silk once let loose and tangled around his fingers. Or wrapped around his cock, which twitched in recognition of a fine looking female. Her simple navy blue suit shouldn't have done anything for his libido, but the killer legs and high heels below the skirt had him imagining those long limbs wrapped around his back.

  He counted backward from one hundred--in French, figuring he'd better tamp down his hard-on before he went to meet Ms. Cross.


  Melissa Cross stood in the seating area of The Rising Storm Hotel, surveying what she'd been told was New Orleans' newest and most fashionable addition to the French Quarter tourist area. She tapped her foot and scanned her watch, impatient to get the meeting started.

  At least she had time to survey the hotel the Chesapeake C
asinos partnered with in their latest venture. Primarily a northeastern organization, Chesapeake had recently decided to venture into other prime gaming areas throughout the United States. New Orleans' popularity with travelers eager to spend gambling dollars on the Mississippi was a great place to start.

  This was only the beginning. If Melissa played her cards right and this deal came off without a hitch, she could name her price. She'd be a winner.

  And winning was everything in her book.

  The Rising Storm was an elegant hotel, modern yet still holding on to New Orleans' historic flavor and style. The minute she walked into the lobby of flowing fountains, brick flooring and wrought iron railings she'd felt transported back to New Orleans of old. And yet the hotel boasted the modern conveniences so popular for travelers today.

  With the addition of the casino a short walk behind the hotel, The Rising Storm would be a force to contend with in the French Quarter. A winner.

  Checking her watch again, she heaved a frustrated sigh. This Aidan Storm she was supposed to work with was not a winner in her book. Already fifteen minutes late.

  Her wandering gaze caught sight of two men standing under the checkin sign at the main counter. Not typically interested in male eye candy, she couldn't seem to turn away once she'd focused on them. Both tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome, they could almost pass for twins. Considering the suits they wore, they were either at the hotel on business or maybe employees.

  Although they looked similar, the one on the right caught her eye more than the other. Not that he was more handsome. There was simply something about him. Her heart skidded against her ribs when he made eye contact with her and graced her with a smile that turned her knees to jelly.

  Wow. Oh, wow. And she was not a wow kind of woman. Men just didn't rumble over her like a sudden thunderstorm, but for some reason this one did. Maybe it was the way he looked her over, which normally she would find insulting. Instead, her body warmed from the inside out, and considering the air conditioning in the hotel, it couldn't be the sultry late July heat making her break out into a sweat.

  If her colleagues back in Boston could see her now, all hot under the collar and nearly drooling over a man, they'd laugh out loud. They called her Frosty Cross behind her back, although she was well aware of the comments they made about her. One of her favorites was that her clothes must be made of ice because no man could melt them off.

  And many had tried.

  She'd only allowed one man to warm her, and had been burned so badly she'd never let a man chip through her protective layer again. She'd nearly lost it all and for what? A man? Sex? Never again.

  Not that she'd never have sex again. But she wouldn't have it with someone she worked with. That mistake she'd made a few years ago had nearly cost her everything. Now, at twenty-seven, she knew better.

  Business was her passion. Success was her love. She didn't have the time or the inclination for involvement with a man. Sometimes she wondered if she simply wasn't cut out for a relationship. She'd failed miserably at her choices before. Some things were better left alone.

  She blew out a frustrated breath. This type of musing wasn't good. There was no sense mulling over the past and things that could never be when she had work to do. Work she'd already have started on had Aidan Storm showed up on time.

  The hot guy turned and strolled her way. She shifted and tried to act cool, feeling stupid for the whirlwind of emotions sailing through her at the thought of the Adonis in a black suit having even the slightest interest in speaking with her.

  But he certainly was heading right toward her, his gaze determined and a wicked smile gracing his full, sensuous lips.

  "Melissa Cross?" he asked in a mix of southern and French accents that seemed to settle somewhere between her legs, moistening her in a way that shocked her to her toes. No man did that to her. No man made her wet by saying her name.

  "Yes." She fought to keep the waver out of her voice.

  Holding out a hand, he said, "I'm Aidan Storm. Sorry to be late. I was talking to my brother, Logan, and lost track of time. I hope you can forgive me."

  This was Aidan Storm? This was her partner? She slid her hand into his, heat arcing through her at his touch, and knew immediately--she was doomed.

  "Nice to meet you, Aidan."

  He crooked a smile. "No one told me you'd be beautiful."

  Now there was a line if she ever heard one. Shaking off thoughts of humid nights, silken sheets, and two naked bodies twined together, she remembered who she was. And more importantly, what she wasn't. "I think you can drop the pleasantries, Aidan. This isn't a date and I prefer to keep my professional relationships just that--professional."

  "Whatever you say, cher," he replied in that delicious accent that made her want to lick it off his lips. "Let's get you settled into your room and I'll show you around."

  She nodded and followed him, trying not to notice his tall, well-built body. The dark suit fit him so well it looked like it had been especially tailored for him. Nor did she want to notice his crisp, clean scent. A man like him didn't need to rely on cologne--his natural scent nearly had her coming in her panties.

  Blowing out a breath, Melissa mentally repeated over and over that Aidan Storm was a business partner, not a potential sex mate. Even if her traitorous mind reminded her it had been a very long time since she'd had a man in her bed.

  After dealing with her reservations and making arrangements for her bags to be delivered to her room, Aidan escorted her through the lobby and toward the elevators.

  "So, you're from Boston?" he asked as they rode the elevator.

  Melissa kept her distance, preferring not to court dangerous thoughts any more than she already had. "Yes."

  "You like it there?"


  "It's cold up there, isn't it?"

  "I like the weather in Boston." Hopefully he'd grab a clue that she wasn't interested in idle chit-chat.

  "I like it hot."

  Oh, lord. She wished she could slap the side of her head and vanish the heated thoughts his statement had conjured.

  They arrived at her floor and Aidan led her to her room.

  "Since you'll be here for awhile we're giving you a suite. We thought it might make you feel a little more at home than in a standard room."

  He slid the key card into the slot and opened the door, standing aside for her to step in.

  Like the rest of the hotel, the suite was decorated with Creole antiques and French reproductions. And it was huge. Two large windows looked out over the courtyard below. An expansive living area was populated with brocade covered couches and an oversized work desk. She stepped over to a side set of doors which opened onto a private balcony, complete with a wrought iron table and chairs.

  "This is way too fancy for me," she said, ignoring the very tall, very imposing man standing in the center of the room. "A regular guest room would have been fine."

  "Nonsense," he replied, beckoning her into the bedroom. A dark four-poster bed centered the room, with a matching dresser and a makeup table nearby. She followed him into a bathroom any woman would fall in love with. A huge marble countertop and vanity were etched in intricate swirls of beige. The glass shower could fit four people inside easily. Also set entirely in marble, the Jacuzzi tub was wide and long enough for two people.

  There were those blasted images again, of her and Aidan in that tub filled with scented oils, the jets pulsing a rhythmic beat against them and her naked body resting against his. She let out a shaky sigh, hoping his mind was tuned elsewhere.

  But when she turned to him, it was quite obvious it wasn't. How had his sultry amber eyes escaped her before? They darkened and smoldered, capturing her in their warmth.

  "Like the tub?" he asked.

  "Yes, it's nice." She turned away and fled the bathroom.

  "Would you like a few moments to unpack? Change?"

  "No, I'm ready for a tour of the hotel if you don't mind." And to get the h
ell out of this room that made her think of humid nights and hot sex. Specifically with the man standing in her room. What would it be like to throw caution to the wind and actually act on her thoughts? She'd never been impulsive before. Okay, maybe that one time. But with that man, it had been more of a well planned disaster rather than an impulsive act. Thinking without acting led to trouble, she knew that.

  But once, just once in her damn life she'd like to do something naughty, something exciting, without thinking of the consequences, without dwelling on the outcome. Do something just because she felt like it.

  Yeah, right. That would happen the first time someone actually thought of her as a hot, babelicious blonde who exuded sex from her pores. She almost laughed out loud at that thought.

  With a sigh she smiled politely at Aidan, feeling for all the world like a wilted flower. Her silk suit and blouse clung to her. Visuals of stripping naked and standing under a cold spray of water offered a brief, tantalizing relief from the heat. Maybe what she really needed to cool down was to strip naked and stroke her sexual ache to a blistering orgasm.

  That would have to wait until later, though. In the meantime, she had to get her mind around business.

  "Tell me about the hotel," she asked as they left her room and headed down in the elevator. Aidan led her through the lobby and into the courtyard. Banana and palm trees swayed in the light breeze, providing minimal relief from the oppressive heat.

  Heat that Aidan didn't seem to mind at all. He looked as crisp and unwrinkled as if the day's weather was like a cool, fall Boston day. She, on the other hand, was nearly melting.

  They sat at a table in the shade, and Aidan ordered mint tea for both of them.

  "The Rising Storm is the second of my family's hotels," he explained. "The first is much smaller and right on Bourbon Street. My parents run it. This one is operated by me, my brother and sisters."

  Although she'd done her homework on the Storm family, she preferred to hear it from one of the members themselves. "Why did you build another hotel?"

  He smiled and her heart trembled. Damn it all, anyway.

  "Growth. Progress. Plus, we had the idea to add a casino and we can't do that with the old hotel's location. Building one near the river's edge allowed us to plan for a joint venture with a gambling organization."