Ignited by passion, p.7

Ignited by Passion, page 7

 

Ignited by Passion
 



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  “Yes. Mrs. Quinn always knew how to cook and her apple pie has always been my favorite,” he answered.

  Madison grinned when she remembered the number of slices he’d eaten and said, “Yeah, I could tell.” She then thought of something. “They didn’t say a lot about your uncle at dinner.” She felt his fingers inch upward to caress the side of her neck, sending a glimmer of heat through her.

  “There wasn’t much to say. They know the man Uncle Corey is and know that your mother isn’t in any danger.”

  She shot him a quick look. “I know she isn’t in any danger with him, Stone. I just don’t understand what’s going on. And I’m beginning to understand a bit about instant at traction if that’s what it was, but still I have to talk to her anyway.”

  “I understand,” he said, giving her shoulders a quick squeeze.

  A part of Madison wondered if he did understand when there were times when she didn’t.

  “Tell me about your parents, Madison.”

  His question caught her off guard. “My parents?”

  “Yes. What sort of marriage did they have?”

  She frowned, not sure why he was asking and whether or not she was willing to disclose any details of her parents’ relationship as she had seen it. But this was Stone. He had stopped being a stranger to her that first day on the plane and she figured there must be a reason that he wanted to know. “It was nothing like the Quinns’ marriage, that’s for sure,” she said in a rush.

  The sound of his chuckle filled the night air. “It wasn’t?”

  She leaned back and looked up at him as she thought of the two adults with four grown sons. Even with visitors sit ting at the dinner table with their sons, they still exchanged smiles filled with over thirty years of intimacies. “No, it wasn’t. Is your parents’ marriage like theirs?”

  Stone looked down at her and she could actually see the smile that touched both corners of his mouth. “Umm, pretty much. I’m proud of the fact that my parents have shared a long marriage, but even prouder that they are still very much in love after nearly forty years.”

  He shifted his body to lean against the porch rail and took her with him, letting her hip rest along the strength of his. “They claim it was love at first sight after meeting one weekend at a church function. Within two weeks they were married.”

  He decided not to tell her that his parents had predicted that their six children would also find love that way—at first sight. So far Delaney claimed that’s how it had been for her and Jamal, although realizing it had been the tough part for her, as well as for Jamal. And everyone knew the moment Dare had gotten zapped. Stone and Shelly were friends in high school and working on a project together when Dare had come home unexpectedly from college and walked into the living room. He had taken one look at the sixteen-year-old Shelly Brockman and fallen in love with her then and there.

  Then there was Thorn. Tara had been his challenge, as well as the love of his life from the moment she had stormed out of their sister Delaney’s kitchen one night to give the unsuspecting Thorn hell about something. She had taken him aback and had also taken his heart in that same minute. Again, love at first sight.

  He released a deep sigh. That may have been the way things had happened for his sister and two brothers but it wouldn’t happen that way for him. He wouldn’t let it.

  “Your parents like touching, Stone?”

  Madison’s question interrupted Stone’s thoughts and he couldn’t help but chuckle again when he thought of the many times he’d seen his father playfully pat his mother on her behind. “Yes, and they also occasionally kiss in front of us. Always have. We’re used to it. Nothing real passion ate but enough to let anyone know that they still love each other. I’m sure they leave the heavy-duty hanky-panky stuff in the bedroom,” he said grinning, not at all bothered by the fact that his parents might still have an active sex life. He pulled Madison closer to him. “Didn’t your parents ever touch?”

  After a brief moment she shrugged. “I’d never seen them touch. And I’d never thought anything about it until I went away for the weekend to spend some time at a friend’s house. Her parents were like the Quinns…and probably a lot like your parents. It was easy to see they loved and respected each other and it suddenly hit me what was missing at my house, between my parents. Then I started watching them closely and I began to realize that, although they liked and respected each other, they were two people who were not in love but locked in a marriage any way.”

  Stone lifted a brow. “Why would they stay married if they didn’t love each other?”

  She sighed deeply. “I can think of several reasons. Me for one. They would have stayed together just for me. I know in my heart that my parents loved me. I was my daddy’s girl and my mother’s daughter. I had a great relationship with them both. My father’s death was hard on me.”

  Silence stretched between them; then she said, “Another reason they would have possibly stayed together is for religious reasons. They were both devout Catholics who didn’t believe in divorce. It was til-death-do-you-part.”

  Stone nodded, taking in everything she’d said. “Didn’t you say that your father has been dead for ten years?”

  “Yes, he died when I was fifteen.”

  “And during that time, since his death, your mother has never been romantically involved with anyone?”

  “No.”

  “Don’t you think that’s odd?”

  She heaved a sigh. “I never thought about it before. I al ways assumed she just wanted to bury herself in her work after my father’s death. I never assumed she was lonely and in need of companionship.”

  “Well, that might be the reason she took off with Uncle Corey. There are some things a man or woman can’t control at times. Passion. Especially if they haven’t shared it with anyone in a while. Hormones are known to get the best of you if you aren’t careful.”

  Madison wondered if he was speaking from experience? She hadn’t slept with anyone since Cedric and she definitely didn’t feel like she was missing out on anything. He had been her first lover and she really didn’t care if he was her last.

  But then, standing so close to Stone with the feel of his warm breath on her cheek, she knew she had to rethink that declaration. Anytime he had held her in his arms against his broad chest, her temperature had had a tendency to go up a notch. And whenever she had leaned into his aroused body while they kissed, it always amazed her that he had wanted her. And she would have to admit she had spent the last couple of nights in bed wondering how it would feel if he were to make love to her; for him to climb on top of her and—

  “Are you cold, Madison?”

  She was jerked out of her racy thoughts. She cleared her throat. “No, why do you ask?”

  “Because you were shivering a few moments ago.”

  “Oh.” She met his gaze when he looked down at her. She hoped he didn’t have a clue as to why she had been trembling.

  “What about you and your fiancé?” Stone asked, pulling her closer so that her cheek rested on his shoulder.

  “What about us?”

  “I know you said the two of you weren’t intimate often, but did you do a lot of touching?”

  She sighed deeply. There was an inner urgency within her to share with Stone how things had been with her and Cedric. She’d already told him that they had slept together only a couple of times but now he needed to hear the rest.

  “Cedric and I didn’t do a whole lot of anything, Stone. I mentioned earlier today that we were intimate two times, but even then it wasn’t for enjoyment. It was done only to make sure we were compatible.”

  Stone shook his head, not sure he’d heard her right. They’d been intimate a couple of times not for enjoyment but just to make sure they were compatible? Now he had heard it all. How in the world could you be compatible without enjoyment? “What about passion?”

  She shrugged. “What about it?”

  Nothing, if you have to ask, he thought
. But then he decided that he needed to appease his curiosity anyway. “Weren’t there ever times when the two of you lost control?”

  She chuckled as if the thought of his question was ridiculous. “No, and to be quite honest, I never experienced real physical attraction until I met you.”

  Damn, Stone thought. He wished she hadn’t told him that mainly because it was the same way with him. He, too, had never experienced real physical attraction until he had met her. Oh, sure, he’d felt lust for a woman before but for some reason the attraction with Madison was totally different. He thought about her during some of the oddest times and, whenever he did, unexplainable warmth would flood his insides. He never, ever remembered actually hungering for a woman until he had met her. And now she was a constant craving and that didn’t bode well.

  After a few moments, he said, “I guess we’re going to have to come up with some ground rules once we leave here and head up into the mountains.”

  It took Madison a moment to realize what he meant. But she decided to pretend otherwise and ask just to make sure. “Ground rules?”

  “Yes, about us, Madison. About this attraction we can both honestly admit that we have for each other. About these hormones of mine that don’t want to behave worth a damn. And about the fact you haven’t told me what decisions you’ve made.”

  Madison forced a lump down her throat. She quickly remembered the decisions she had made overnight; the ones she’d been determined to stick to when she’d woken that morning. She knew that doing things her way was for the best.

  She released a long, resigned sigh and said, “I think we should only concentrate on the situation with your uncle and my mother. At the present time my mind isn’t free to dwell on anything else. I’m not sure how you may feel about it but I prefer that any thoughts about anything between us be placed on the back burner to be analyzed and discussed later, after I see my mother.”

  Stone shook his head. Back burner, hell! Did she think things would be that easy? Did she actually think two people could turn off sexual chemistry like it flowed from a faucet or tuck it away like an agenda item to be looked at and discussed later? Didn’t she realize how difficult it would be for them once they were alone together in the mountains, in constant close proximity to each other?

  No, he quickly concluded. She didn’t know. She didn’t have a clue because, from what he’d gathered tonight from their conversation, her parents had not been passionate beings. And, to make matters worse, her fiancé had been a damn poor excuse for a man. Instead of introducing the woman he was engaged to marry to fiery passion and red-hot desire, the bastard had been too busy doing it with a model.

  A part of Stone was glad he had discovered the reason behind Madison’s irrational thoughts on the situation involving his uncle and her mother. She couldn’t see passion and desire for what they were if she had never experienced them before. It was obvious that she had never felt toe-curling, scream-til-your-throat-becomes-raw passion. Those sensations were something everyone should experience at some point in their lives. He couldn’t imagine anything worse than having to suppress your desires—especially for a long period of time.

  He quickly made a decision. He would introduce Madison to the pleasures of sex. She would soon discover that the attraction between them was something neither of them could ignore. He wanted to show her what it meant to have uncontrollable hormones zap the very sense out of you. He wouldn’t do anything in particular, just sit back and let nature take its course and, considering everything, he had all the confidence in the world that it would.

  Stone Westmoreland was convinced that by the time they reached his uncle’s cabin, his city girl would have a clear understanding of how easy it was for a person to lose control to passion of the strongest, most potent kind.

  “And you’re sure that’s the way you want things?” he asked after a long moment of silence.

  “Yes. It will be for the best.”

  He nodded as a slow smile touched his lips. What Madison didn’t know was that the best was yet to come. He would give her a summer night in the mountains that she would remember for a long time.

  The next morning Stone glanced over at Madison as she sat patiently on her horse. He actually envied the animal’s back. He would just love to have her sitting on him with her legs flanking him on both sides while she rode him to sweet oblivion.

  He had not gotten much sleep last night, thinking of her and their trip up into the mountains together. He hadn’t changed his mind. Before they reached his uncle’s place he intended to have taught his city girl a few things. She would see how it was to deal with a real flesh-and-blood man. A man who appreciated everything a woman stood for.

  He glanced up at the sky. The sun hadn’t quite come up yet which meant it was a good time to start their trip. He could hardly wait. Anticipation was eating away at him, fueling his desire for her even more. “You okay?” he decided to ask her.

  She smiled over at him. “Yes, I’ll be fine just as long as you’re not expecting an experienced cowgirl. I can do okay with a horse but, like I told you, even with the lessons I took, I’m not much of a rider.”

  He nodded. All that would be changing. She might not be much of a rider now but by the time they reached his uncle’s cabin she would be pretty proficient at it. He would definitely teach her how to ride an animal of the two-legged kind.

  “Do you think we will come across any wild animals?”

  Her question made him stop what he was doing with his saddle and glance over at her. A smile tilted his lips. “You mean which kind of wild animals do you hope that we won’t encounter?”

  She chuckled and the sound made his stomach clench in desire. It was such a sexy sound and was like a caress to his already sensitized flesh. “Yeah, that’s it.”

  He took the time to get on his horse before answering her. “Namely bears, wolves and mountain lions.”

  “Oh.”

  He grinned over at her when he saw the look of fear that appeared in her eyes. “Don’t worry. The path I plan to take is one that’s well used and most wild animals know to avoid it.” He decided not to tell her that he would be taking another route that would delay their arrival at his uncle Corey’s ranch by a full day. Madison Winters needed an education in wildlife of the human kind.

  But first he had to get his libido under control, which wasn’t easy. She looked so desirable sitting on the horse with her face tipped up to the sun. She had pulled her hair back in a ponytail and was wearing the big wide-brimmed hat on her head. But still, he could see her beautiful dark skin glowing in the predawn light. She was a natural beauty and he wondered how he would be able to keep his hands off her until she made the first move. And she would make the first move. He would see to it. He would lay temptation at her feet, then wait for her to act on it.

  “Ready?” he asked, looking over at her.

  “Yes.”

  “Okay then, let’s go.” They started at a slow pace since he wanted her to get the feel of the animal beneath her. He wanted her to be aware of everything around her: the way the sun was beginning to rise over the mountains, the rustle of the wind through the trees, and the sound of pine needles snapping under their horses’ feet. And he wanted to make sure she was aware of him, the man who wanted her.

  If she wasn’t aware of it now, she would definitely be aware of it later.

  They rode in silence for the first few hours, only engaging in conversation when he pointed out something of interest to her. He liked the way she appreciated her surroundings. She might be a city girl, but it was apparent she was enjoying embarking on their journey.

  “Thirsty?” he asked, wondering if the ride had taken a toll on her yet. The sun had come up fully now and the heat of it was beaming down on them. He was grateful he was wearing his hat and that she had followed his suggestion and had worn hers.

  “Yes, I’m thirsty.”

  “How about a drink of water?”

  “That would be nice,” s
he said, as he brought the horses to a stop.

  “Just sit tight while I get the canteen. Mr. Quinn told me before we left that during this past year he and McKinnon built a cabin that’s located halfway to Corey’s place. They use it when he and his sons go hunting in these parts. He said that we could use it if we liked. So if we make it there before nightfall, we won’t have to sleep outside after all.”

  He idly stroked the back of his horse, wishing it were Madison’s body. He then added, “And there’s a place up ahead where we can camp for a while and eat lunch. If we continue at this pace, we should be able to make it there before it gets much hotter.”

  The look on Madison’s face indicated that she hoped they would. He grinned. She was being a real trooper. A lot of women would be whining and complaining by now. He remembered the first time his father had decided to take Delaney camping with him and his brothers. He shook his head at the memory. That had been the first and the last time.

  He got off his horse and, after making sure both of their mounts’ reins were securely tied to a nearby tree, he went to her saddlebag and pulled out the canteen, then walked over and handed it to her.

  She quickly took it from him. “Thanks.”

  He watched as she opened the top and tipped the can teen up to her mouth. Some of the water missed her lips and drizzled down her chin. He was tempted to lap it up with his tongue. He had thought about tasting her that way a lot lately and intended to get his chance real soon.

  He continued to watch her, getting turned on just from seeing how her throat moved as the cool liquid flowed down it. His eyes were so focused on her throat that he didn’t notice that she had stopped drinking.

  “Stone, you can have this back now.”

  He blinked. “Oh,” he said, reaching for the canteen.

  “Thanks again. The water was delicious.”

  “You’re welcome. It’s natural spring water,” he said, thinking that she was delicious, too. Instead of putting the canteen away, he pulled the top back off and began drinking some of the water, deliberately tasting where her mouth had been.

 
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