Ignited by passion, p.12

Ignited by Passion, page 12


Ignited by Passion

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  Stone stopped walking and stared at his uncle. “What are you saying?”

  A huge grin spread across Corey Westmoreland’s face. “I’ve asked Abby to marry me and she’s accepted.”

  Madison stared at her mother in shock. “Marriage? You and Corey Westmoreland?”

  Abby smiled at her only child as she handed her a dish to dry. “Yes. He asked and I accepted. Corey and I met and fell in love the year before I entered Harvard. My parents had already decided my future was with your father and I was the obedient daughter who wouldn’t defy their plans.”

  Madison continued to stare at her mother. “So I assumed right. You and Dad never loved each other.”

  Abby reached out and took her daughter’s hand in hers, knowing that Madison was probably confused by a lot of things. “In a way, your father and I did love each other but not the way I loved Corey. As long as your father was alive, I was determined to make our marriage work, and I did. I was faithful to your father, Madison, and I was a good wife.”

  Madison knew that was true. “So you came out here hoping that you’d run into Corey Westmoreland again?”

  Abby smiled as she shook her head. “No. For all I knew Corey had gotten on with his life and was married with a bunch of kids. I knew he had wanted to become a park ranger, but I didn’t even know if he still lived in this area. Imagine my shock when I went out to dinner that night and he walked into the restaurant. He looked at me and I looked at him and it was as if the years hadn’t mattered. I knew then that I still loved him and I also knew that the most joyous part of my life was the summer I met him.”

  Her hand tightened on Madison’s. “But that doesn’t mean your father didn’t bring me joy. It means that with Corey I can be someone I could never be with your father.”

  In a way Madison understood. During the past two days, she had behaved in ways with Stone that she had never behaved with Cedric. “So when is the wedding?”

  “In a few months. We decided to wait until after his nephew Thorn’s next race. That way Corey can make the announcement to all of his family at one time. The entire Westmoreland family always attends Thorn’s races.”

  Madison sighed deeply. “What about you? What about your life back in Boston?”

  Abby smiled. “I plan to keep Abby’s Manor since there’s definitely a need for day-care facilities for the elderly. And it will continue to be managed the same way it’s being managed now. Everything else I can tie up rather quickly. My friends, if they are truly my friends and love me, they will want me to be happy. I haven’t been involved with anyone since your father’s death over ten years ago. I’m hoping everyone will understand my need to be with him.”

  She then stared for a long moment at her daughter. “What about you, Madison? You are the person who concerns me the most. Do you understand?”

  Madison met her mother’s gaze. Yes, she understood how it felt to want to be happy, mainly because she also knew how it felt to be in love. As unusual as it seemed, her mother still loved Corey Westmoreland after all these years. Their love had been strong enough to withstand more than thirty years of separation. She knew her mother was waiting for her answer. She also knew that her response was important to her. Abby Winters had been right. The people who truly loved her would understand her need to be happy.

  Madison reached out and hugged her mother. “Yes, Mom, I understand and I’m happy for you. If marrying Corey Westmoreland makes you happy, then I am happy.”

  Abby’s arms tightened around her daughter. “Thank you, sweetheart.”

  Stone Westmoreland glanced at the clock on the night stand next to the bed. It was after midnight and he couldn’t sleep. He had Madison on his mind. She and her mother had joined him and Uncle Corey on the porch and she had congratulated his uncle on his upcoming marriage to her mother and had even gone a step further and hugged Uncle Corey and welcomed him to the family. Uncle Corey had done likewise and welcomed her to his. Then Madison had indicated to all that she was tired and would be going to bed early. He of all people knew of her overabundance of energy and figured that it wasn’t exhaustion that had made her escape to her room. She was trying to come to terms with her mother’s marriage announcement.

  Getting out of bed he slipped into his jeans. Quietly opening the door he entered the darkened hallway. He had walked this hallway many times and knew his way around, even in the dark. The room Madison had been given was only a couple of doors from his. He wondered how she felt knowing his uncle and her mother were probably sharing a bed tonight. He doubted they would change their routine because of their unexpected guests, especially since they intended to marry.

  He opened the door and quietly slipped into Madison’s bedroom. As soon as he entered and closed the door be hind him, he saw her. She was standing across the room gazing out of the window. From where he stood he saw she was wearing a nightgown and the light from the moon that shone through the window silhouetted how the sleepwear sensuously draped her figure.

  He breathed in deeply. As much as he wanted her, he hadn’t come to her for that. He wanted to hold her in his arms because whether she admitted it or not, she was having a problem coming to terms with her mother’s upcoming marriage to his uncle.

  “Madison.” He whispered the name softly and she quickly turned around.


  Without answering, he quickly crossed the room and pulled her into his arms and kissed her, needing the taste of her and wanting to give her the taste of him. Her response made him deepen the kiss and when his tongue took control of hers, the soft moans that flowed from deep within her throat nearly pushed him over the edge.

  He gently broke off the kiss. “You were quiet after dinner. Are you all right?”

  She nodded against his chest and his arms around her tightened. “They are happy together, Madison,” he said, trying to reassure her.

  She pulled back from him and glanced up. “I know that, Stone, and that’s what’s so sad. They went all those years loving each other but not being able to be together.”

  Stone nodded. “Yeah, my uncle told me.”

  Madison sighed. “They fell in love from the first. Ac cording to Mom, she fell in love with your uncle the first time she saw him although she knew her life was destined to be with someone else.”

  Stone stared down at her for a moment then asked, “And how do you feel about that, Madison?”

  She knew why he was asking. The man her mother had married instead of Corey Westmoreland had been her father. “My heart aches for the three of them. What if there was someone who my father would have preferred to love? I think it’s ridiculous for parents to plan their children’s future that way. I won’t ever do that to my kids.”

  Stone had been rubbing her back. He suddenly paused. “Kids? You plan to have kids?”

  She looked up at him and smiled. “Yes, one day.”

  He nodded. That meant she also planned on getting married one day. Hellfire. He sure didn’t like the thought of that. “You need to get into bed and try and get some sleep.”

  He saw awareness flash in her eyes when she suddenly realized he wasn’t wearing a shirt. “I’ll only get into bed if you get in with me.”

  He shook his head. “With your mother and Uncle Corey at the end of the hall, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” He didn’t want to bring up the fact that he doubted he could lie beside her for any period of time without wanting to make love to her, and their lovemaking tended to be rather noisy.

  “Please. I promise to behave. Just stay with me for a little while.”

  He looked down at her and knew she had no intention of behaving. He would stay but would somehow dredge up enough control to behave for the both of them. “All right, into bed you go. I’ll stay with you for a little while.”

  “Thanks, Stone.”

  He walked her over to the bed and pushed the covers aside. She slid in and he slid in beside her and pulled her into his arms. She automatically shifted her body in a spo
on position against him and he knew she felt his arousal through his jeans. “Wouldn’t you be more comfortable if you were to take off your pants?” she asked in a soft voice.

  He tightened his arms around her. “Go to sleep, Madison,” he growled in her ear.

  “Are you sure you want me to do that?”

  “Yes, I’m sure. Now go to sleep.” He knew he didn’t want her to do that but under the circumstances he had no choice. He hadn’t missed the looks his uncle had given him at dinner. Corey and Abby were curious about his relation ship with Madison. Although they hadn’t asked anything, they had gone quiet when Madison had innocently mentioned they had stayed at the Quinns’ cabin for two days.

  A few hours later, the only sounds Stone heard were Madison’s soft even breathing and a coyote that was howling in the distance. He leaned over and kissed her lips then slipped from the bed to return to his room. Before opening the door he glanced back over to look at her and knew that, if he had been in his uncle’s shoes thirty some years ago and Madison had been her mother, there was no way he would have let her go and marry another man.

  There was no way on God’s green earth that he would have allowed that to happen.

  Chapter 9

  The next two weeks flew by and Madison’s heart swelled each and every time she saw her mother and Corey Westmoreland interacting together. It was quite obvious the two were in love and were making up for lost time. She had never seen her mother smile so much and it seemed that Corey had brought out a totally different woman in Abby Winters. Her mother enjoyed cooking, baking and thought nothing of helping Corey do chores around the ranch.

  The days of the prim-and-proper Abby Winters were over—but not completely. She still set the table like she was expecting guests for dinner and occasionally Madison would hear classical music on the disc player. Madison liked the change in her mother and more and more she was accepting Corey’s role in her life.

  Madison then thought about her own love life or lack of it. Stone still came to her room every night and held her until she went off to sleep. In respect for her mother and his uncle, he refused to make love to her although she al ways tried tempting him into doing so.

  She had looked forward to today. Her mother and Corey had mentioned a few days ago that they would be gone from the ranch most of the day to visit another rancher who lived on the other side of the mountain. That meant that she and Stone would have the entire house to themselves and she intended to make good use of it.

  She was aware that it had been hard for him to keep his hands off her and it had been just as hard for her to keep her hands off him. All it took was a look across the table into his dark eyes to see the longing and desire, and to know what he was thinking and feel the sexual currents that radiated from his gaze.

  He stayed away from the house most of the day helping his uncle do various chores around the ranch. Corey had decided that, with Stone there, now was a good time to start constructing a new barn. When Stone came in each afternoon he would take a bath before dinner and usually retired to his room to work on his book after sitting and talking with everyone for a while. But no matter how tired he was, he always came to her room every night to spend time with her. They would sometimes sit and talk for hours. He would tell her about the book he was working on and the scenes he had plotted that day. Once or twice he even read some of them to her and she was amazed how his mind worked to come up with some of the stuff he’d written.

  Madison sighed with disappointment as she sat at the kitchen table and looked out. It seemed that she and Stone wouldn’t have the ranch to themselves today after all. Corey had announced at breakfast that he and Abby had changed their minds and would visit the Monroes another time. She had glanced across the table and seen the same disappointment in Stone’s eyes that she knew had been in hers.

  “It’s a beautiful day for a picnic, don’t you think?”

  She glanced around and met her mother’s smiling face, then shrugged her shoulders. “I suppose so.”

  “Then why don’t you find Stone and suggest that the two of you go to Cedar Canyon? You can take the SUV and not worry about traveling by horseback. It’s simply beautiful and there’s a lake so you may want to take your bathing suit with you.”

  Madison perked up. The picnic sounded nice, but… “I don’t have a bathing suit.”

  Abby chuckled. “You can certainly borrow one of mine. That’s one of the first things Corey made sure I had when I came here. With so many hot springs and lakes around, it would be a waste not to have one.”

  Madison glanced back out of the window. She saw Stone in the distance standing next to the corral gate as he watched his uncle rope a calf. “Stone may be too busy to want to take off like that.”

  Abby chuckled again. “Oh, I don’t know. Something tells me that he’ll like the idea.”

  Stone definitely liked the idea and when Madison suggested it he didn’t waste any time going into the house to shower and change. He was dying to be alone with her away from the ranch. And the way he was driving the truck indicated that he was in a rush to get to their destination.

  “We will get there in one piece won’t we, Stone?”

  He glanced over at Madison and even though she was smiling, she was hinting that he slow down. He had made a couple of sharp turns around several curves. “Sorry. I guess I’m kind of eager to get there.”

  She gave him an innocent look. “Why? Are you hungry? Is what’s in that picnic basket tempting you?”

  He met her gaze and decided to be completely honest. “Yes, I’m hungry but my hunger has nothing to do with what’s in that damn basket. You’re what’s tempting me. Aren’t you?” He watched the smile that spread across her lips; lips he was dying to kiss. He had noticed each and every time she had inched her skirt up her legs, although he should have been keeping his eyes on the road.

  “Yes. I just wanted to make sure you wanted me,” she said grinning.

  He brought the car to a screeching stop. Taking a deep breath, he turned to face her. “I want you, Madison, don’t doubt that. I want you so bad that I ache. I want you so bad that if I don’t get inside of you real soon, I might embarrass myself.”

  She glanced down at his midsection and nodded when she saw what he meant. “Then I guess we’d better be on our way again, because I wouldn’t want that to happen.”


  She lifted a brow. “No?”

  “No, I don’t think I can wait now.”

  Her brow lifted when she saw he was unbuttoning his shirt. He removed it and tossed it in the back seat of the SUV. She swallowed hard. She had seen him shirtless numerous times but still her midsection filled with heat each and every time she saw him that way. And she didn’t want to think about how turned on she got whenever she saw him naked.

  “Uhh, would you like to tell me what’s going on here?” she said in a low voice. Desire was making it almost impossible for her to speak.

  His smile widened into a grin. It was a smile so hot she felt heat center between her legs in reaction to it. “We’re what’s going on. And the one thing I really like about this SUV is that it’s very roomy. My brother Dare owns one and he let my brother Storm borrow it when his car was in the shop. He later wished that he hadn’t. Storm discovered just how roomy it was when he used it to go out on a date.”

  Stone chuckled as he shook his head. “Needless to say, Dare learned his lesson when he found a pair of women’s panties under the seat the next day and he swore never to let Storm borrow his truck again.”

  Madison grinned. “Sounds like your brother Storm is quite a character.”

  “Yeah, for some reason the women think so and around Atlanta he’s known as ‘The Perfect Storm.’ Of course none of us think there’s anything perfect about him but evidently the women do. I don’t know who’s worse, him or Durango.”

  After unzipping his jeans, he lifted his hips to pull them off. Madison, he noticed, was watching him intently. “In stead of pay
ing so much attention to me, you might want to start stripping.”

  She blinked in pure innocence. “Surely you’re not suggesting that I get naked?”

  “Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m suggesting since seeing you naked is definitely one of my fantasies today. I want you naked and stretched out beneath me. Then I want to get inside you and stroke you until you can’t take any more,” he whispered huskily across the cab of the vehicle.

  Madison swallowed. Her heart began pounding. The heat between her legs broke out into a flame. She began burning everywhere, but especially there. “Okay, you’ve convinced me to cooperate,” she said, lifting her skirt and pulling down her panties. She held the strap of black lace up in her hand. “I need to make sure I put these back on. I don’t want your uncle to find these in his truck like your brother Dare found those in his.”

  Stone reached out and plucked them out of her hand and stuffed them in the pocket of his jeans before pulling out a pack of condoms. “I’ll try to remember to give them back to you,” he said grinning. He then tossed his jeans in the back seat to join his shirt. He glanced over at her. “Need help removing that skirt and blouse?”

  Madison smiled. “No thanks. I think I can manage.”

  “All right.” And he got an eyeful while he saw her doing so. He was glad she hadn’t needed his help. In his present state he might have been tempted to rip her clothes right off her. His breath caught when he saw she hadn’t worn a bra and, when she removed her top, her breasts spilled free and his shaft reacted by getting even harder.

  Madison glanced over at Stone. God, she wanted him. Bad. All his talk about wanting her and needing to get in side of her and stroking her had set her on fire. And she didn’t feel a moment of embarrassment sitting with him naked in the truck. She was beginning to discover that with Stone she could be prim and proper and she could also be bad and naughty. She felt him ease the bench-seat back and the SUV became roomier.

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