When love is not enough to heal the scars, both physical and mental, of the one you thought you would spend your life with…what else is there?
It's such a clichÃ©—country boy moves to the big city to follow his dreams, leaving his girl and everything he loves behind—but that's exactly what Gareth Andrews has done. Playing rugby league is Gareth's dream, and he's signed with one of the best teams in the competition, the Sydney Jets.
Of course, that has meant a move to the big city and leaving Emily Mackenzie and everything he loves behind. Not that Gareth hasn't begged her to join him in the city—he has, on bended knee—but Emily needs to stay in Gunnedah and help her father on the family farm until her brother's stint in the armed forces is over. But Gareth knows it's more than that. Emily is hiding away, embarrassed by the scars that mar her body in a constant reminder of the bushfire that nearly took her life.
Can love give Emily the courage to face strangers again when her father is badly injured and Gareth shows up at the hospital to support her? Or will she let her fear and shame get the better of her, and break her one true love's heart for a second time?
Reader Advisory: This book contains hot make-up sex featuring light bondage and anal sex between a hunky Aussie rugby league player and his cowgirl.
About the Author
The seven—year marriage was an adventure. There were the emotional ups and downs of having a husband with a public profile in a sometimes glamorous but always high—pressure field. There were always interesting characters to meet and observe, and even the opportunity to live for a time in the UK.
Eventually Donna returned home a single woman, but she never lost her passion for watching sport, as well as the people in and around it.
Now happily re-married and with three sons, Donna loves coffee mornings with her female friends, sorting through problems from the personal to the international. But she's on even footing with the keenest man when it comes to watching and talking rugby league.
Donna considers herself something of a black sheep in a family of high achievers. Her brother has a doctorate in mathematics and her sister is a well—known Australian sports journalist.
An avid reader, especially of romance, Donna finally found she couldn't stop the characters residing in her imagination from spilling onto paper. Naturally, rugby league is the backdrop to her spicy tales of hunky heroes and spunky heroines overcoming adversity to eventually find true love.
Read an Excerpt
They were going to kill him. The collective look in the men's eyes was one of pure animosity. Emily could see it clearly defined in their faces, could see the intent as they charged towards the man she loved—three huge men, covered in mud and perhaps even blood, judging by the russet-coloured liquid leaking from one of the men's bandaged head—and there was nothing she could do about it. She couldn't look away and sat frozen in the moment as she watched the horror unfold before her, silently praying that Gareth would survive the next few brutal seconds.
Then they were on him, two around his upper body, one knocking his legs out from beneath him as they picked him up and slammed him, back first, onto the hard ground. The four men wrestled together. He was caught beneath the onslaught from the three above him—she could see him struggling to get to his feet. It really only took a matter of seconds, but for Emily it was a lifetime. Her heart raced, her palms moistened and she could not get the air into her lungs to take her next breath, the fear he would be hurt was so overwhelming.
Just when Emily thought she could bear it no longer, the men stopped struggling. They broke away, stood and faced each other. Gareth reached down, put the ball under his foot and rolled it behind him. Emily drew a breath down deep into her oxygen-deprived lungs… The tackle was over.
Every game was the same for Emily. It didn't matter that for all intents and purposes Gareth was no longer hers, by her own choice. It would always be like that for her—the same fear, the same panic that overwhelmed her as she watched him play his beloved rugby league. It had started way back in the days of their childhood when she and Gareth had been joined at the hip, back when she would accompany his family to those junior rugby league matches. Emily always had the same reaction—horror and fear as she watched every tackle in a hypnotic trance, a panicked state, her breath trapped in her lungs until the moment she saw him back on his feet, healthy and unharmed despite the brutality of the sport he loved. She had never loved the game the way he did. Her only reason for watching was for reassurance that he remained uninjured, and had survived his time on the field without harm. She didn't care if the team won or lost. For Emily, it was just about Gareth.
Of course, her family—and even Gareth himself—had no idea her interest was so limited. They believed her a true fan of the sport. Why wouldn't they? She had been with Gareth for every local game he'd ever played. Well, apart from that time she had been in the hospital, but she would have been there watching if she could have.
As Emily tuned out, uninterested in the commentator's wrap up of the televised game, she absentmindedly rubbed at her scars, the puckering skin of her deformity, the unkind reminder of the day her world had changed. She was hardly aware of her unconscious movement—her focus was on her relief that the final siren had sounded, concluding yet another game her precious Gareth had remained unscathed.
"Chin up, Em. This is what you decided. No point second guessing or reminiscing. Gareth has moved on, his life is in the big city and you have chores to do." She spoke the words in an attempt to quell the usual sadness she felt, as her only link to Gareth ended with the conclusion of the television broadcast. Emily turned the seldom used television off, waited till the black screen was all that was left to see and walked from the room. Her posture was hunched, her gait slow as she headed to the barn to feed the horses and clean the stalls. The routine, mundane tasks would fill her mind enough that the pain that lanced her heart would eventually fade.
"Game finished? How'd he go? Did they win?"
Her father's deep voice breached her thoughts, bringing her back to the here and now, preventing any further painful memories from surfacing.
"Yep, they won. Gareth came through okay." Emily didn't want to discuss Gareth any more. It was better to push him from her mind for now, knowing full well that it would only be a week before once again she would sit white-knuckled in front of the television, riding every moment with him, feeling every knock he took as if it was her on the field. Why she could not just keep herself from this anguish week after week, she could not explain. It was just something she had to do.
She had sent him away, destroyed every plan they had ever made for their future—and they had planned and dreamt about what a perfect life they would have together, had talked of such things late into the night on many occasions. That was before she'd pushed him from her life, but she could not stop loving him, worrying for him. Emily knew this like she knew she would take another breath, and until that last breath she would love Gareth like no other.