Ignited by passion, p.15

Ignited by Passion, page 15

 

Ignited by Passion
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  He covered the distance separating them and came to stand beside her. “I didn’t mean to pass out on you like that.”

  “You were tired.”

  “Yes, I guess I was.”

  “And you’re probably hungry. I can order room ser—”

  “We need to talk, Madison.”

  She turned back to look out over the city. “You know you really didn’t have to come, Stone. I understood how things were from the beginning so you don’t owe me an explanation.”

  Stone lifted a brow, wondering what she was talking about. “I don’t?”

  She turned and met his gaze. “No, you don’t. You never misled me or implied that anything serious was developing between us. In fact you were very honest from the be ginning in letting me know how much you enjoyed your freedom and that you never planned to marry.” She in haled deeply. “So you’re free to go.”

  He gazed at her for a moment as if enthralled by all she had said, and then asked, “I’m free to go where?”

  She shrugged. “Back to New York, Montana, on your European book tour or anywhere you want to go. I guess you figured that, with your uncle marrying my mom, we should end things between us in a proper way so there won’t be any hard feelings and I just want to assure you that there won’t be. No matter what, Stone, I will always consider you my friend.”

  Stone took the glass of wine from her hand after suddenly deciding that he was the one who needed a drink. He looked at the glass and made sure that he placed his mouth on the exact spot that showed the imprint of her lips. The white wine tasted good and felt bubbly as it flowed down his throat. He emptied the glass then set it on the table next to where they were standing. He then met Madison’s curious gaze. “So you think that’s the reason I’m here? To bring our intimate association to a proper close?” he asked, managing a soft smile.

  She met his gaze. “Isn’t it?”

  Her question, asked in a quiet, soft voice, stirred some thing deep inside Stone and he regretted more than ever that he had never told her that he loved her. She needed to know that. She needed to know that each and every time he had made love to her had meant more to him than just satisfying overzealous hormones. Yes, he had taken her with a hunger that had almost bordered on obsession, and he had always been acutely aware of everything physical about her. But he had also been aware of her emotional side. That had been what had first touched his heart. Her love and concern for the people she cared about.

  Knowing he needed to get her out of the vicinity of her bedroom, he took her hand in his. “Come on. Let’s go into the living room and talk.”

  He led her through the bedroom and into the living room. When she started to sit beside him on the sofa, he pulled her into his arms and placed her in his lap. He smiled at the look of surprise that lit her features.

  “Now then, I think I need to get a few things straight up front,” he said.

  She lifted a brow. “Such as?”

  “The reason I’m here and the reason I hadn’t gotten any sleep in over forty-eight hours. First let me start off by saying I’m not going back to New York or Montana, and I’m sure as hell not going on some European book tour—unless you go to all of those places with me.”

  Madison blinked, confused. “I don’t understand.”

  Stone chuckled. “Evidently. And in a way it’s entirely my fault. I failed to make something clear to you each time that we made love.”

  He saw how her throat tightened when she swallowed. “What?”

  He met her gaze and held on to it, locked it with his. “That I love you.”

  She pulled back and stared at him in disbelief. “But, but, I—I didn’t know,” she said, her words coming out in a stream of astonished puffs of air.

  He skimmed a fingertip across her lips. “That’s why I’m here, Madison, to let you know. I think I fell in love with you the moment I saw you on the airplane, although it took me a while to come to terms with it. I should have told you before I left for New York, but I was in a rush to leave and decided to wait and tell you when I got back. The trip took longer than I expected. I watched that television show, just as you did, but I didn’t think when you heard what the reporter said that you would believe it had anything to do with my relationship with you. When she interviewed me I didn’t want to mention you or tell her how I felt about you, mainly because I wanted to keep things between us private. Besides, I wasn’t sure how you felt about me since we hadn’t talked.”

  He leaned over and replaced his fingers with his lips and brushed a kiss across her mouth. “And I still don’t know. I’ve told you how I feel about you, but you’ve yet to say how you feel about me.”

  Madison snuggled closer into Stone’s arms and reached up and placed her arms around his neck. The same happiness that shone in her heart was reflected in her eyes. “I love you, Stone Westmoreland, with all my heart. I think I fell in love with you the first moment I looked into your eyes on the airplane, too. And I was so embarrassed when I realized where my hand had been and how close I came to touching a certain part of you. But now I know it went there for a reason,” she said, shifting her body and reaching down to actually touch him.

  She smiled upon realizing how hard he was and what that meant. “I didn’t know at the time that that part of you, all of you, was destined to be mine and I feel like the luckiest and the happiest woman in the world.”

  Stone groaned out her name as he captured her mouth and deepened the kiss when she sank into him, returning his kiss the way he had taught her to do, enjoying the passion that would always be there between them. Moments later he pulled back and cupped her face in his hands.

  “Will you marry me, Madison? Will you agree to spend the rest of your life with me and be my soul mate? I know how much you love Boston and that you don’t ever want to leave and that’s fine. We can make our primary home here and—”

  Madison quickly touched her mouth to his to cut off his words. “Yes, I’ll marry you, Stone. I love you and my home will always be wherever you are. I know how much you like to travel and now, after visiting Montana and seeing so much beauty there, I see what I’ve been missing by not traveling. Now I want to go to those places with you.”

  Her words touched him and he reached out, pulled her back into his arms and again kissed her, long and deep. When he lifted his head, he stood up with her in his arms. “I love you,” he told her again as he carried her into the bedroom. He gently placed her on the bed and stood back. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a small white velvet box.

  “I bought this for you while in New York. I had every intention of asking you to marry me when I got back to Montana.” He leaned forward and handed her the box.

  With tears misting her eyes, Madison nervously opened it to find a beautiful diamond engagement ring. It was so lovely that it took her breath away. She gazed back at Stone. “I—I don’t know what to say.”

  Stone chuckled. “Baby, you’ve already said everything I wanted to hear. The only thing left is for us to set the date. I don’t want to seem like I’m rushing things, but I want us to get married as soon as possible…. I’ll understand if you prefer to wait until next June and have a huge wedding here.”

  Madison shook her head. “No, I had planned a big wed ding with Cedric and I don’t want that for us. We don’t need it. We can go before the justice of the peace and I’d be happy. I just want to be your wife.”

  Stone’s smile widened. “And more than anything, I want to be your husband. Before leaving Montana, Uncle Corey suggested the Westmorelands get-together at his place the second week in August. He wants everyone to meet Abby, as well as his sons and daughter. I know that’s only six weeks from now but what do you think of us having a wed ding then, there on Corey’s mountain?” he asked, taking the ring and placing it on her finger. He liked the way it looked. He could tell that she liked the way it looked, too. She held her hand out in front of her and kept peeking at it, smiling.

  She then glanced u
p at him. “I think August will be a wonderful time. When do you leave for Europe?”

  He shook his head. “I haven’t agreed to that book tour, Madison. Everything hinges on what you want to do. I know how much you like teaching and—”

  She leaned up and placed a finger to his lips. “Yes, I’ve always enjoyed teaching because that’s what I limited my self to do. I appreciated those nights when you came into my bedroom at Corey’s and shared your writing with me. And, because of it, I now have a burning desire to do some thing I’ve always wanted to do but was never brave enough to try.”

  “What?”

  A wishful thought flashed across her face. “Compose my own music. I once shared a few pieces I’d composed with a friend at school and she told me how good she thought they were and that it was something I should do. And I think I will.”

  He pulled her into his arms. “I think that’s a wonderful idea and is one that I wholeheartedly support.” He nuzzled her neck, liking her scent and thinking he would never get enough of it.

  Madison looped her arms around his neck and pulled him down on the bed with her and he kissed her slowly, deeply and began removing her clothes. When he had her completely naked, he sat back on his haunches and stared at her, a deep look of love in his eyes.

  “It’s your turn, Stone. Take off your clothes,” she said softly, pulling at his shirt.

  He stood, appearing more than happy to oblige. She watched as he removed every stitch of clothing and, when he rejoined her on the bed, she reached out and ran her finger down his chest. “This is nice,” she said, leaning for ward and flicking her tongue across his hardened nipples.

  When she felt his shudder, Madison felt confident, loved and, thanks to Stone, passionate. She moved her hand lower and let her fingers travel past his waist and stroke that part of him she had almost touched on the plane. She heard his breathing increase and felt his body harden even more beneath her hand. He also felt hot and ready.

  “You want me,” she said softly, marveling at how much he did.

  “Yes, and I’ll always want you.” He gently pushed her back on the bed to touch her everywhere, kiss her every where, taste her everywhere; and when she couldn’t take any more and was thrashing about beneath him, he covered her mouth with his the same moment that he parted her legs, lifted her hips and eased inside of her. She shifted her body to welcome him and, with one quick thrust, he was bedded deep inside her.

  He held himself still in that position as his mouth mated relentlessly with hers, filled with emotions of every kind. And when her muscles began clenching his heated flesh, he slowly began moving, establishing a rhythm that would bring them both pleasure.

  Moments later when they both went spiraling off the edge, lost in passion of the richest kind, Stone knew his parents’ prediction of love at first sight had been right. Loving Madison was something he would look forward to doing for the rest of his life.

  Epilogue

  When Stone and Madison returned to Montana they discovered that Corey and Abby had decided not to wait for a Christmas wedding but wanted to marry sooner. So the four of them—Corey, Abby, Stone and Madison—decided to have a double wedding on Corey’s Mountain in August. Martin Quinn, a former judge, agreed to perform the ceremony.

  Now the day of the wedding had arrived and, as Madison glanced around, she knew that only Abby Winters-Westmoreland could bring such style, grace and elegance to the rugged mountains of Montana for the mother-and-daughter wedding. Almost everyone had arrived by plane on the airstrip that several ranchers in the area shared. Her mother had even had a band flown in for the affair, as well as a well-known catering company from Boston. Every time she glanced over at her mother and Corey she saw just how happy they were together. It had taken thirty-two years but they were finally together and she knew it was meant to be this way.

  “Ready?”

  Madison glanced up at her husband of less than an hour and knew it was time to meet the rest of his siblings and cousins. She had met his parents, his sister Delaney, her husband Prince Jamal Ari Yasir and their son Ari last night. Almost every one else had arrived an hour or two before the wedding was to take place, so she hadn’t had the chance to meet them beforehand.

  “Yes, I’m ready,” she said, inhaling deeply.

  Stone leaned down and kissed her lips; then, taking her hand in his, he led her over to an area where a group stood talking. A couple of people she recognized, but others she did not.

  First he introduced her to his married brothers, Dare and Thorn, and their wives, Shelly and Tara. Madison could immediately feel the love flowing between the couples and hoped that her and Stone’s marriage would be just as strong and loving.

  Stone then introduced her to his brother, the one he said the ladies called “The Perfect Storm.” She could see why. He was drop-dead gorgeous and she had a strong feeling that he knew it. Then she met Storm’s fraternal twin, Chase, and he was just as gorgeous. In fact she was discovering that all the male Westmorelands were good-looking men.

  Next came the cousins: Jared, Spencer, Ian, Quade and Reggie. She had already met Quade and Durango, and Durango pulled her into his arms and gave her an astounding, welcome-to-the-family kiss on her lips and said he liked her even if she was a city girl. She gave Stone a questioning look and the response in his eyes indicated that he would explain things later.

  She then got the chance to see the newest Westmoreland cousins again, Clint and Cole, as well as the daughter Corey Westmoreland never knew he had: Casey.

  Casey Westmoreland was shockingly beautiful and Madison thought it amusing to see how all the single men present who weren’t Westmorelands were giving her their undivided attention. Now she understood what Clint and Cole had meant when they’d insinuated that it hadn’t been easy being Casey’s brothers.

  After all the introductions were made, Stone pulled Madison into his arms. They would be leaving the mountain in a few hours to spend a week in San Francisco. Her mother and Corey were headed in the opposite direction to spend a week in Jamaica.

  Madison had never been to the Bay area and Stone, who’d been there several times, had planned a special honeymoon there for them.

  They would be leaving the country within the month for Stone’s four-month European book tour. They would return just weeks before Christmas and had decided to make Atlanta their primary home.

  “I can’t wait to get you all to myself,” Stone whispered to his wife moments later, when her mother had indicated it was time to cut the cake and to take more pictures.

  “I can’t wait to get you all to myself, too,” Madison said smiling and meaning every word. She had a surprise for him. She had composed a song just for him. And she knew as she gazed lovingly at her husband that it was a song that would stay in her heart forever.

  RIDING THE STORM

  Chapter 1

  “Jayla? 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 with out 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 diamo
nd 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 hand some—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.”

  “Thanks.”

  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 al ways 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 league.

 
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