A much sought-after, successful career hasn't been enough to bring happiness to his life—is it possible that one woman can light up his darkness?
Forty-two-year-old single mother Laura Harris has devoted more than half her life to raising her son. She remembers the concept of having sex but it's been aeons since she's actually been a participant—especially with a real flesh-and-blood partner. But it's time to reclaim her life. Her son is a man now, and the rising star of the Jets Rugby League team.
Their future is brighter than ever and, for the first time, financially secure. But Laura is starting to think agreeing to have dinner with Trevor Hughes could be biting off more than she can chew. Not that she can't see herself taking a nice big chunk from the absolutely gorgeous, thirty-four-year-old sports-commentator's rump—he's one prime piece of masculinity! She just isn't sure how or when the whole sex thing will become an issue. She can't even get past the what-to-wear step, let alone reach the when-to-take-it-off stage...
Trevor Hughes usually avoids woman with substance—he has enough of his own demons to deal without trying to care for anyone else. But there's something about the upbeat, sexy, one-woman dynamo Laura Harris. The woman is pure sunshine and happiness, and that's surprising when you look at what life has handed her. Nothing seems to dampen Laura's spirits, and she quickly becomes someone Trevor needs in his life... until misunderstandings come between them. Can Trevor put things right?
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
"This is pointless. What on earth was I thinking? Forty-two-year-old women do not accept dates from thirty-four-year-old men, especially when the man in question is a famous and mouth-wateringly hot television personality."
Laura Harris scolded her reflection in the full-length mirror she was standing before. "This is a nightmare. What do old, desperate women wear to this sort of thing?" she groaned as she took in her appearance grimly.
"Nope, too much cleavage," she said as she ruthlessly tossed aside the little black dress.
"Far too short ..." was the decision that condemned the blue dress to the pile of discarded clothes that was becoming a mountain on the floor of her small, but usually tidy, bedroom.
"Yeah, okay ... Maybe these black pants with this sweater — I do love the feel of the soft wool and these little pearl buttons are so sweet ... Oh, my God — sweet. This is ridiculous! I'm too old for sweet. Sophisticated. Mature. That's what I need. How do people do this ... dating thing?" She waved frantically at her dishevelled self in the mirror. "I'm terrified."
She took a deep breath, then shook her hands a few times to try to dispel the anxiety that was eating her up.
"No, Laura, get a grip. Terrified is finding yourself pregnant at twenty. Terrified is being kicked out of home by your unforgiving parents with no way of supporting yourself. This is just dinner, dinner with a man who presents a sports programme on TV. A man who knows your twenty-one-year- old, football-playing son."
Having now managed to turn down the panic level a few notches Laura perused the mess on the floor. The ruby colour caught her eye, and as she picked the knee-length, full-skirted dress with the tailored bodice from the floor, she thought, What the heck, why not?
It wasn't that bad a sight that greeted Laura in the mirror's reflection, once she had finished primping and pruning for the good part of an hour. Her blonde, almost white hair was in a loose updo and grey-and-silver eyeshadow highlighted her pale blue eyes. Happy with the way her dress fit tastefully over her trim body and noticing that her moderately high black pumps gave her calves a nice shape, Laura twirled one more time, reasonably pleased with the overall result, before picking up the small clasped handbag she had set aside.
"Well, as my mother used to say, 'That will do for the fella you're after and the chance you've got'." The sound of the snort she made in response to repeating one of her estranged mother's pearls of wisdom was not at all ladylike, in Laura's opinion. "Great, and now I'm turning into my mother," she mumbled as she headed towards her living room to await her date's arrival.
"Hey, Ma — did you say something? Wow, what's with the get-up? Where are you going?"
Laura hadn't heard her son come home but it was no shock to see him sitting on the couch with the TV on — probably a replay of the last year's winning Grand Final. She smiled to herself, noticing the surprised expression on his face when he saw her.
"What's wrong, Mitchell? Don't I look okay? Do you think I should change? Yes, you're probably right. It is a bit too much for dinner ..." Laura had really got herself into a tether and rambled on until she felt her son's hands come down gently on top of her shoulders.
"Slow down, Mum, you look fantastic. Hot — which is quite awkward for me to notice." Mitchell Harris — known as 'the Rookie' to fans of rugby league — shuddered visibly in response. "What's got you into such a state, and all dressed up like that? Where are you going and who with?"
Laura would have laughed at the ridiculousness of the moment, if she hadn't already felt as if she were about to faint from the nerves caused by the quickly approaching dinner date. Her son had sounded just like her father in his demand to know her plans. Nice turn of events, she thought.
"Huh, not that it is any of your concern, young man — you are still the child in this relationship and me the mother — but to answer your question, I've been invited out to dinner. Pretty sure we've already had this conversation. Mitchell Harris, were you not listening to me ... again?" Laura looked up into her tall son's face, trying to appear stern, but she couldn't hide her affection for her only child.
"I'm sorry, Ma, I didn't mean to sound nosey ... But who are you going out with, again? I forgot."
Laura had always had a hard time not falling for that puppy dog look Mitch had perfected early on in his life when he'd really wanted something. Many a time it had broken Laura's heart to disappoint him, but money had always been tight back then. She thanked her lucky stars, every day, that their life had taken a turn for the better. Not that luck had had much to do with it. No, it was all Mitchell and his amazing sporting ability that had given their small family a leg-up in life.
"Trevor Hughes. He is taking me to Mia's. Caitlin James is singing tonight — it's the first time since the wedding that she's been back at Mia's. In fact, it was at Brodie and Caitlin's wedding that Trevor and I made the plans for tonight. You would have known all this if you ever listened to me, Mitchell."
Before her son could shut his now gaping mouth and respond to her, the sound of the front doorbell ringing interrupted them.
"Well, that will be Trevor now." Laura told her motionless, slightly horrified-looking son. "Don't wait up," she couldn't resist adding to further tease him as she opened the door.
All joking was immediately forgotten when Laura caught sight of the most enormous bunch of red roses she had ever seen blocking her doorway — and holding those roses, far outshining their spectacle, stood Trevor Hughes. The man was an Adonis, dressed to kill in an expensively tailored suit that emphasised his wide shoulders beautifully. His light brown hair was slightly mussed, as if he had run his fingers through it recently, but it was his dimpled smile that took Laura's breath from her lungs.
"My, you're gorgeous! I-I-I mean those roses — they're gorgeous," she stuttered, and wanted to die from embarrassment at her slip-up, certain her cheeks were as red as the flowers themselves. "Are they for me?" she asked in a small voice as a sudden wave of shy apprehension stole over her.
"Yes, they are for you, Laura, but they fade in comparison to how beautiful you look tonight. You look amazing." The smooth, rich tones of Trevor's voice and compliment did nothing to extinguish the burning in her cheeks. As Laura reached to take the offered roses, the door was thrust all the way open and Mitchell almost knocked her aside as he stood, his stance tense, glaring daggers at Trevor.
"G'day, Rookie," Trevor said, using Mitchell's footy nickname.
Just about everyone but Laura called her son Rookie, much to her horror. It only made things worse when she caught herself using the name, which was happening more often lately.
"Was just telling your Mum how amazing she looks. Really beautiful, don't you think, Rookie?" Trevor continued. Laura wasn't sure whether Trevor had picked up on her son's animosity, but he was doing a good job of ignoring it if he had.
"Let me just put these in water and then we can head off. Mitchell, move out of the way so Trevor can come in off the front step." Laura gave her son a firm shove to get him to move as she made the request. "Come in, Trevor. Welcome — make yourself at home while I fix these. Mitchell, see if Trevor would like something to drink. I think there is some beer in the fridge, or I do have wine if you'd prefer, Trevor? Just let Mitchell know your preference."
I'm rambling again, Laura thought and caught herself, stopped talking, and stood awkwardly in her family room, not sure what to do first. She had never really entertained a man in her house before, especially not with her son hovering about, trying his best to act intimidating.
"Thanks, but I'm good, driving and all that. I'll save it up and have a glass or two over dinner. Go do what has to be done with the roses, I'll sit and watch the replay with Rookie." Trevor, after graciously declining her offer of a drink, turned towards her son. "I see we've interrupted your viewing. This was such a great game. You played your socks off, as I recall."
Laura, thankful for the change in subject, hurried off to find a vase big enough to set the flowers in. She ended up just sitting them in a large saucepan full of water, eager to get back to her living room and make sure Mitchell had not thrown Trevor out of the door while she'd been busy in the other room. Not that Laura could see her son — as big and fit as he was — achieving the task. Trevor was also a prime specimen of manhood, all tall and muscled.
She giggled girlishly, the sound a shock to her system, making her shake her head. Her palms were moist and her heart was beating double-time in her chest.
"Oh, my ... You are in way over your head this time, Laura Harris," she told herself as she took a moment to smell the heavenly scent of the roses. "These roses must have cost a small fortune — such an extravagant gesture. Please don't let Mitchell have scared him off."CHAPTER 2
Trevor was trying to ignore Rookie's blatant hostility. It was a bit of a blow to his ego that the kid didn't think Trevor was good enough for his mother, but he couldn't blame Rookie. Trevor did not want to contemplate the thought of his own mother dating. But then again, his mother had nowhere near the beauty of Laura Harris, and she was still married to his father, albeit unhappily.
"So are you looking forward to the new season, Rookie? How do you think the Jets will cope with the double retirement? JT and Brodie are sure to be missed."
"What, you doing an interview with me or something, Hughes?"
Rookie's response was full of sarcasm, but Trevor tried his best to get the kid to calm down. "No, buddy, just makin' conversation while I wait for your mother. But if you don't feel like talking, that's okay — I'll just sit and watch the game."
"Why are you taking my mum out, anyway?"
The kid's question was so out of line that Trevor wouldn't have bothered to answer if not for the sulky tones in which it had been delivered. God, if Rookie had stood up and stamped his foot in a temper tantrum it wouldn't have surprised Trevor.
"Do you really need me to answer that question, Rookie? Your mother is single and an adult, and so am I. We are going out to dinner to get to know one another. I wasn't kidding when I said how beautiful Laura looks tonight, mate." Trevor was trying to be diplomatic but the faces Rookie was pulling were beginning to get on his nerves. "Be assured I will treat your mother with the dignity she deserves, okay, Rookie? Stop worrying. It's not like I'm kidnapping her or anything. It's dinner."
"Yeah, right — you just want dinner and nothing else. Give me a break, Hughes. I'm not an idiot, you know. I know what you'll be wanting after dinner."
"Mitchell John Harris, how dare you say something like that?"
Trevor hadn't noticed Laura had come back into the room until she confronted her son and his comments. The blaze in her eyes as she took her cantankerous son to task was glorious. Her cheeks had a flush to them that Trevor imagined would resemble the effects of a post-orgasmic glow, and he hoped he would have the chance to test his theory one day. Her eyes sparkled with fury, making her face come alive. She was a magnificent sight, and Trevor stood captivated.
"I will have you know, young man, that I do not appreciate your rudeness to a guest in my house. I raised you better than that. What I do and who I choose to have dinner with is my business, Mitchell. And son, if want to have sex, I will have sex with whomever I deem fit."
"Oh, God, Mum! Don't say things like that — I'll have nightmares. It's sick."
Trevor was dumbfounded by the turn of conversation, but he had to admit he liked where Laura was heading. He sure as hell would be happy and willing to oblige her in the sex department. God, his cock was at half-mast already, and seeing Rookie squirm at his mother's comment was one sight he would remember for a long time. He could only imagine the talented halfback's opponents' faces if they could see Rookie Harris being put back in his place by his mother. They could only wish they could control him that way.
"What, Mitch? At twenty-one, you're still a virgin? Or is it just okay for men to have sex, but not women? Apologise to Trevor so I can go. I'm so upset with you right now."
Trevor felt it was time he stepped in and tried to calm the situation down. He certainly didn't want Laura to be worrying about her son's behaviour during dinner, and really, Rookie was just protecting his mother. Trev could understand that.
"Laura, no need for an apology. I'm sure Rookie just had your best interests at heart. No harm done. I respect him for his protectiveness. Would expect nothing less, from what I hear of your son's outstanding character. JT certainly holds him in high regard after he stood up to protect Mandy from that madman she was having all those problems with. What say we just forget all about this and go to Mia's? What do you say, Rookie? Shake hands and move on?"
"That's very generous of you, Trevor, but Mitchell still treated you — my guest — rudely and I won't stand for that. Mitchell, do you have something to say?"
Trevor fought back the grin that was threatening as he watched Rookie shuffling his feet like a small child who had been caught out being naughty. What was it about mothers that could bring grown men to their knees?
"Sorry." Rookie's apology was quiet and quick. Trevor nearly missed it altogether.
"Sorry for what, Mitchell?" Laura really wasn't letting her son off the hook anytime soon, and Trevor was actually starting to feel sorry for the kid. No wonder Rookie Harris was such a respectable and mature young man — Laura wouldn't let him be any other way.
"I'm sorry for being rude, Hughes. Is that better, Mum? You're really embarrassing me here, you know." Rookie's plea apparently fell on deaf ears, as Laura still did not let up.
"Trevor or Mr Hughes, please, Mitchell. You know how much I hate you just using surnames when addressing another human being. Politeness is free, you know. And if you are embarrassed by my attempts at teaching you some manners, then perhaps you can understand how I felt over your behaviour."
Trevor did get to shake hands with a very meek Rookie before finally getting Laura strapped safely in his car so they could be on their way. The trip to Mia's was filled with her apologising over Rookie's attitude, and the more he tried to convince her it was all forgotten the more she apologised. He really had to get her off the subject or the date would be a disaster.
"I hear on the grapevine you have a cleaning company, Laura. So you're a businesswoman as well as being beautiful." Trevor hoped distracting Laura with a question about her work might get her onto another topic — usually people had a lot to say about their careers, Trev had found, and he just hoped it was the case with Laura.
"I'm not expecting any write ups in the Australian Financial Review anytime soon." Laura's laugh at her own expense was warm and throaty. Trevor found the sound enticing, sexy, as it caressed over him, and he wanted to hear it again.
"I clean houses for busy people and have been fortunate enough to get to the stage where I can employ a small staff, as well. It's nothing grandiose — just hard menial work. But it pays the bills and in the beginning I could schedule my time around Mitchell's needs, so it worked well for me. Growing to become my own company is something I only dreamed of. In the beginning it was just a way a young, uneducated woman could make a living."
"Laura, don't sell yourself short. You own a business, have clients and staff — it's something to be proud of. You have obviously worked hard to get where you are now. Hey, I just talk for a living. Now that's shallow."
Trevor was glad to finally start up a normal conversation with Laura, get her thoughts away from her son. He loved the humble way she'd described what she did to make a living. She might have been short of a formal education, but Trevor could tell Laura was no brainless blonde. She had guts, that was clear, and the few conversations they'd had previously had all been highly entertaining.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Laura's Light"
Copyright © 2013 Donna Gallagher.
Excerpted by permission of Totally Entwined Group Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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