Love A Stranger
read an excerpt
Was he, or wasn’t he…her husband?
Widowed, wealthy and beautiful Madeline Stone was well on her way to fulfilling
her dream of becoming a fashion designer. Then six years after being lost at sea,
her prodigal husband returned. And to Madeline’s amazement the newfound
Russell Stone was nothing like the old, womanizing rascal she’d married.
Her new man was loving and considerate, kind, romantic and…very sexy. Madeline
found herself doing something she thought she would never do—falling in
love with her husband!
Now Madeline faces a dilemma—should she just accept her happily-ever-after
ending, or should she expose the troubled, yet loving stranger who now shares
November 23, 2001
baby is still breach,” Dr. Roberts announced to his small crew in the obstetrical
ward. “Let’s get her prepped for emergency c-section.”
An elevated Madeline Stone lay huffing and puffing on the delivery table wondering
where in the hell was the epidural.
“Okay, Mrs. Stone. I need you to stop pushing for me.”
She would if she could, but in truth she had no control what was going on
in her lower extremities. It was all she could do to ride out the waves of muscle
spasms, sharp stabs of back pain and the streams of sweat burning her eyes.
Madeline’s best friend and second cousin, Lysandra Hobbs, burst into
the delivery room in blue scrubs. “I’m here. I’m here. I made
it. I made it.”
Madeline’s response was a high pitch scream followed by a low rabid
dog growl. There was no doubt about it; the baby she carried was determined to
split her in half. What in the hell was she doing here? And why wasn’t her
asshole of a husband there with her so she could rip his penis off for knocking
her up in the first damn place?
Then again why was she so surprised? He wasn’t around when she delivered
their son two years ago either. Madeline made a vow right then and there to shoot
her husband if he ever came never her bed again.
“Breathe,” Lysandra coached, rushing to her side and taking Madeline’s
hand. However, with one mighty squeeze, Madeline crushed Lysandra’s frail
fingers and forced her cousin to her knees.
“I’m going to kill him,” Madeline snarled through yet another
contraction. “I know he’s with that bitch.”
All heads swiveled in Madeline’s direction, but censuring her words
was something else she couldn’t control.
The continued pain in Lysandra’s hand rendered her speechless.
“I’m going to kill him,” Madeline declared. “And then
I’m going to kill her.”
“Okay, Mrs. Stone,” Dr. Roberts returned to her side. “Try
“Relax?” she barked, her head ready to twist in a complete circle.
“Don’t you dare tell me to relax when I know my husband is out screwing
his big booty singing protégé while I’m trying to squeeze
out his child alone.”
“You’re not alone.” Lysandra finally snatched her hand from
Madeline’s death grip and waved her injured fingers in the air. “I’m
here for you, cuz.”
Madeline rolled her eyes high, but then another spasm hit. “Drugs,”
she roared. “Give me drugs, damn you.”
“Mrs. Stone, please relax we’re...”
Madeline’s snatched the doctor by the neck of his scrubs and jerked
him down to eye level. “If you tell me to relax one more damn time--”
“Let him go, Maddie,” Lysandra urged trying to pry the doctor’s
scrubs loose. “We need him to deliver the baby.”
It took a moment, mainly because of the unrelenting pain, but then she released
her grip and called on the Almighty to get her through this.
Less than an hour later, a seven pounds and three ounces Ariel Elisa Stone
made her grand entrance into the world. The moment Madeline held her bundle of
joy, the pain of the last nine hours were forgotten.
“Hello, Princess,” she cooed, pleased to see ten fingers and ten
toes. “I’ve been waiting for you my whole life.”
Black, down curls covered her precious baby girl’s head and her eyes
were already dark as midnight. Madeline would love this child to the end of the
time. Convinced Ariel smiled back before releasing a mighty wail, Madeline rode
a wave of pride and contentment until her eyelids grew too heavy to keep open.
later, Madeline woke with a throbbing pain that covered majority of her body.
She groaned, shifted and then immediately regretted the action when the pain spread
to the rest of her body.
“Oh, Maddie. You’re awake.”
Madeline recognized Lysandra’s voice but didn’t understand why
it sounded like she was crying.
Something is wrong with the baby.
Her eyes flew open in search of Lysandra and found her petite cousin sobbing
in the chair next to her.
Again, Madeline pushed the pain aside and sat straight up in bed. “Lysandra,
what is it? Why are you crying? Where’s my baby?”
Lysandra lifted her head and her large brown eyes swam in a large pool of
tears. “T-the baby is fine.” She sniffed and dropped her gaze again.
Her entire five-foot trembled uncontrollably.
Madeline stared, confused. Her cousin must be lying. Lysandra always was a
lousy liar. She picked up the red nurse’s button and punched it repeatedly.
“Lysandra, what has happened? Why are you crying?” She stabbed
the button some more.
“May I help you?” A nurse’s voice filtered through the intercom.
“I want my baby,” Madeline demanded, hysterical.
“Never mind, nurse,” Lysandra said, standing from her chair.
“No,” Madeline barked. “I want to see my baby!”
Lysandra shook her head. “It’s not the baby,” she said again,
trying to pry the nurse’s button from Madeline’s fierce grip.
More tears spilled from Lysandra’s sad brown eyes. “No, Maddie,
I’m not. I-it’s Russell.”
Madeline stopped struggling and Lysandra successfully pried the nurse’s
button from her hand. It didn’t matter because two nurses rushed into the
“What’s going on?” they asked in unison.
“Russell?” Madeline repeated dumbfounded. “What about him?”
Lysandra’s cell phone chirped from the wooden stand next to the bed.
Her cousin didn’t reach for it.
“Ly, you’re driving me crazy. Just spit it out. What about Russell?”
The phone chirped again.
“He’s dead,” she blurted and bit down on her bottom lip.
“I’m sorry,” she added and then nodded her head toward the television.
Madeline followed her gaze to the muted television where a picture of her husband,
music and fashion mogul, Russell Stone filled the screen. Beneath it, a red caption
read: Plane Crash.
Lysandra shut off her phone while Madeline scrambled around the bed to find
the TV remote. In the next second, the blond reports voice filled the room.
Repeat. Local officials are stating there are no survivors of this tragic
plane crash. Mr. Stone who had just acquired his flying license last year is reported
to have logged more than three hundred hours of flying time. There is no word
as of yet to what may have caused this accident. Some are suggesting pilot error,
but those findings will be left to the National Transportation Safety Board to
determine. Mr. Stone and his female companion crashed just off the coast of Nova
Madeline hit the mute button. “I-I think I want to be alone for a moment.”
Lysandra placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Maddie--”
“Please,” Madeline added, looking up to her cousin and then to
the two stricken nurses. “I really need to be alone for a while.”
Everyone bobbed their heads and began to usher out of the room. Lysandra took
up the rear but then cast a final glance over her shoulder at Madeline. “I’ll
be just outside the room if you need anything.”
Lying back against the bed’s pillows, Madeline soberly nodded and waited
until the door swung close behind her cousin. Alone, her gaze cut back toward
the television. Mr. Stone and his female companion. The words looped
over and over in her mind. She knew who his damn companion was.
up in this hospital having his child and he’s out screwing around...again.”
She folded her arms as Russell’s picture enlarged on the screen. A cold
bitterness seeped into every pore of her body. No longer would she have to bear
the humiliation of Russell’s long string of affairs or pretend to be happy
in a loveless marriage.
She was free.
She was rich.
She was happy.
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