Stone Cold Surrender(4)

By: Brenda Jackson

one of those traditional men who believed a woman’s work was in the home raising kids. But his mother had made up her mind about what she wanted to do and nothing was

going to stop her. Since his baby sister, Delaney, had gone off to college and there weren’t any kids left at home to

raise, his father had finally given in.

He shifted his thoughts to Madison’s mother. Personally, he saw nothing abnormal with a woman disappearing in the

wilds of Montana with a man, if that’s what she wanted to

do. However, from the worried expression on Madison’s

face, she evidently thought otherwise.

“So what do you plan on doing when you find her?” he

asked curiously. After all, she was still the daughter and her mother was still the mother. He had learned from

experience that parents felt they could do whatever pleased

them without any interference from their children. At least that had always been the case with his mother and father, and he thought they were the greatest parents in the world.

“I’m going to try and talk some sense into her, of course,” Madison said, her lips tightening in determination. “My

father died of a heart attack over ten years ago, and my mother has been a widow since that time. She is the most staid, levelheaded and sensible person you could ever


She sighed deeply then added, “Taking off with a man she doesn’t know, whom she only met one night at dinner,

doesn’t make sense and it’s so unlike her.”

Stone’s action-thriller mind went to work. “And you’re positive she went off with this man willingly?”

He watched a clearly frustrated Madison take another sip of her coffee before answering. “Yes, there were witnesses,

including the ladies who accompanied her on the trip. They said she simply packed one morning and announced that the guy was coming for her and she would be spending the rest of the time with him and to let me know she had

decided to extend her trip. Of course I couldn’t believe it

and had all but called in the FBI before I got her phone call. Unfortunately, I wasn’t at home when she called so we

didn’t talk, but her message clearly said that she was all

right and was extending her vacation another two weeks

and not to worry about her. But of course I’m worried.”

Stone thought that was pretty evident. “Can she take

additional time off from her job like that?” he asked, curious with everything Madison was telling him.

“Yes. My mother retired as a hospital administrator last

year and owns a day-care center for the elderly. She has an excellent staff. Over the past couple of months she’s been spending less time at the office and doing a lot of charity

work in the community. She’s really big into that.”

Stone leaned back in his seat. “Do you have an idea where you plan to look? Montana is a huge place.”

“I’ve made reservations at this dude ranch outside of

Bozeman called the Silver Arrow. Have you ever heard of it?”

Stone smiled. Yes, he had. In fact, the Silver Arrow Dude Ranch was only a short distance from Durango’s place. He was rather pleased that he and Madison would be in close proximity to each other. “I know exactly where it is. In fact, it’s not far from where I’ll be staying. The two of us will

practically be neighbors.”

She smiled like the thought of that pleased her. Or maybe it was wishful thinking on his part, Stone thought as his gaze centered on her lips.

“I’ve made plans for a tour guide to take me up into the mountains after I’m settled,” she said, breaking into his thoughts.

Stone lifted a brow. “Up into the mountains?”

“Yes, that’s where the man has taken my mother.”

He paused in the act of taking a bite of his muffin. “This man took your mother up into the mountains?” At her nod he then asked, “Why?”

“Because that’s where he lives.”

After chewing a morsel of the muffin, Stone inquired, “The guy actually lives in the mountains?” He took a swallow of coffee, thinking he’d always thought his uncle Corey was

the only man brave enough to forgo civilization and live high up in the mountains. While he worked as a park ranger,

Corey Westmoreland stayed in the lowlands, making the

trip into the mountains on his days off.

“Yes, according to the information I was able to find, he

lives on this huge mountain,” Madison said, interrupting his thoughts. “The man is a retired park ranger. I don’t have his full name but I understand he’s well known in those parts

and goes by Carl, Cole, Cord or something like that.”