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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?
“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.