Stone Cold Surrender(5)

By: Brenda Jackson

A portion of Stone’s coffee went down the wrong pipe and he began coughing to clear his throat.

“Stone, are you all right?” Madison asked in concern.

Stone looked at her, not sure if he was all right or not. The man she had just described sounded a lot like his uncle Corey.

But a woman on Corey’s mountain?

He cleared this throat thoroughly before asking his next

question. He met her gaze, hoping he had not heard her

correctly. “Are you saying that some guy who is a retired

park ranger and who owns a ranch high up in the mountains is the person your mother ran off with?”

After wiping her mouth with a napkin, Madison nodded her head. “Yes. Can you imagine anything so ridiculous?”

No. In all honesty I can’t, if we’re talking about the same

person. Stone thought about what she had told him. He then considered everything he knew about his uncle, especially how he felt about a woman ever setting foot on his beloved mountain.

He then answered Madison as honestly as he knew how. “No, I can’t imagine anything so ridiculous.”

She must have talked the man to death, Madison thought,

glancing over at Stone a short while later. Conversation

between them had dwindled off and he was leaning back in his seat, his head tipped back against the headrest, his

eyes closed either in sleep or deep thought.

She couldn’t help but take this opportunity to examine him.

If a man could be described as beautiful, it would be him. He was more handsome than any man had a right to be. She could easily tell that he had broad shoulders and

although he was sitting down there was no doubt in her mind that he probably had pretty lean hips. But what

captivated her most about him were his dark almond-

shaped eyes and she wished they weren’t closed so she could gaze into them some more.

They were as dark as midnight and, when he had looked at her, it was as if he could see everything, right deep into her very soul. Then there was his neatly trimmed curly black hair that was cut low, his high cheekbones and his beautifully full lips that had almost melted her in her seat when he had

smiled. And the healthy texture of his chestnut skin tempted her to touch it to see if it was really soft as cotton.

For the first time, her mind was not focused on the fact that she was on a plane, but on the fact that she was sitting next to the most gorgeous man she had ever seen. Ordinarily, she would be the last person to notice a man after what

Cedric had done to her a couple of years ago. Finding out

the man you were about to marry was having an affair was painful to say the least. Since then she had decided that no man was worth the trouble. Some people were just meant to be alone.

She settled back in her seat, frowning as she wondered if the reason her mother had taken off with a man was

because she had been tired of living alone. Abby Winters had been widowed for over ten years, and Madison knew her father’s death had not been easy on her. She’d also

known, even though her mother had refused to discuss it,

that her parents had not had a happy marriage. All it had

taken was a weekend spent in the home of a high school

friend, whose parents were still very much in love, to notice things she didn’t see at home. Her father had never kissed her mother before leaving for work, nor had they exchanged funny looking smiles across the dinner table when they

thought no one was watching.

Her parents had been highly educated people: Harvard

graduates. Somehow over the years they had become

absorbed in their individual careers. Although there was no doubt in her mind that they had loved her, it was clearly

obvious that at some point they had stopped loving each other.

It seemed they had pretty much accepted a loveless

marriage. Even after her father’s death, her mother still

didn’t date, although Madison knew several men had asked

her out once or twice.

That’s what made Abby Winters’ actions now so baffling and unacceptable. What was it about the man that had

captured her mother’s interest enough to do something as outrageous as going off with him to his mountain? As she had told Stone, her mother was the most rational person she knew, so it had to be some sort of midlife crisis. There was no other explanation for it.

And what would she say to her mother when she saw her? That was a question for which she had no answer. The only thing she knew for certain was that she was determined to talk some sense into her. Fifty-year-old women just did not run off with men they didn’t know.

Madison shook her head. She was twenty-five and she

would never take up with some man she didn’t know, even someone as good looking as Stone. She quickly glanced over at him and had to admit that taking off with him was definitely a tempting thought.