DATING A PRO
All is fair in love and golf. Harrison was caught in the Graham curse, only with the wrong woman.
At 33, Harrison Graham knew he lucky. His reputation wasn’t the best, but the money he made allowed him to date debutants. It also allowed him to sleep with divorced women who knew the score. Did he want to find real love one day? Sure, he wanted a wife—eventually. He’d give in then to the Graham curse of fidelity to that one woman his grandfather had warned him about.
Though it might be 1965 everywhere else in the world, when it came to marrying in Falls Church, things still worked like they had in 1955. He was enjoying his bachelorhood but wasn’t going to turn into his father, moving from bad marriage to bad marriage after his mother died. Call him crazy, but he honestly believed he’d one day find a true love relationship like his grandparents had.
Until the right one came along, the Honorable Doris Isette Pearson looked like a perfect distraction. She had handled her own divorce and was now on the dating market. Among the members of the Falls Church Country Club, Doris was nearly as infamous as him. The woman also played a mean game of golf and he’d heard stories about her almost going pro.
Her tendency to buck convention as much as Harrison did made Doris worthy of a tumble. She wasn’t his first older woman so the decade difference in their ages didn’t bother him a bit. After all, it wasn’t like he was going to marry the woman. All he wanted was to share her lonely divorcee bed and maybe stir things up at the club with a few mix-gender golf games. He and Doris would both have some fun.
The last thing Harrison expected was to find himself falling for the most inappropriate female he’d ever met.
Read Chapters 1 and 2
Spring had fully sprung in 1965…
Having a legitimate partner was a hard and fast rule, not that Harrison cared all that much about rules, but it was one of the few he’d never tried to break. To use the pristine course with its green curvy paths, your golf partner had to also be a wealthy Falls Church Country Club member.
Cocky, young William McCarthy had been the only man available when he’d desperately wanted on the green. The kid was a newly finished college senior and thought he knew everything about everything. Of course, so had he at that age. At thirty-three, Harrison did know a lot of things—things like how to go after what he wanted with a single-minded focus.
Today he was willing to tolerate playing golf with the devil if it meant he might catch sexy divorcee, Doris Isette Pearson, playing his favorite game. He’d had his masculine eye on the older woman for years, but that had been only lust and wishful thinking. Now dating her was legally possible. He even admired the fact that the successful Falls Church attorney had handled her own divorce. In it, Doris had done a bang-up job of making her ex-husband, Avery Vincent, look like the serial two-timer everyone knew he was.
Harrison was purposely here on Doris’s typical day to visit the course. He’d been showing up on this day every week for nearly two months, trying to accidentally-on-purpose run into her. Having his fingers in too many entrepreneurial pies had made it a real challenge to be consistent. His timing had so far been off and he’d managed to often arrive just after she’d finished and gone home.
The fact irritated him mostly because he usually had better luck chasing a woman he was interested in the way he was interested in the Honorable Ms. Pearson, as she liked to be called. The woman was a brilliant, but frustrating, enigma in many ways.
It wouldn’t surprise him one bit to hear Doris personally knew the Ms. term’s strongest proponent, civil rights worker Shelia Michaels. He’d been unimpressed when he’d heard the woman speak about it on the radio a couple years ago. But what did Doris’s title matter to him? The last thing he needed was some woman looking to one day be called Mrs. Graham. Doris’s feminist leanings and independence were in the plus column for him.
“Heard your old man just got married for the fifth time, Graham. My father’s in awe because he says yours has never lost his club membership to any dame he kicked to the curb. Guess you’re happy about that too. I also heard your father didn’t get saddled with alimony payments big enough to affect his finances. You’re the son of a real genius. No wonder you’re so good at making money.”
“What happened wouldn’t have mattered to me either way,” Harrison said, narrowing his gaze as he studied the younger man more closely. “I make all the money I’m ever going to need.”
He also didn’t give a damn about any of the women who married his father and tried to replace his dead mother. They were all destined to fail because his mother had been unique. Though his father hadn’t treated her like she was, Harrison had always seen her specialness. He’d looked for it himself in every woman he met. His father’s lack of success in finding someone like his mother mirrored his own.
William chuckled as he shrugged both shoulders. “Sure. I can buy into the whole self-made man thing, but you can never have enough family moola though, right? The Graham legacy is why you get to date so many of the rich babes.”
“Fore!” Harrison yelled before his shot, even though he knew they were the only ones on the course. He was hoping to derail McCarthy’s big mouth, which hadn’t shut up gossiping since they reached the green. He smacked the white ball solidly, feeling a swish of wind on his follow-through. Man—he never got tired of that feeling. It was really the only reason he played.
After his shot fell and started to roll, Harrison turned to his golf mate and frowned at the comment. It was true that his father was a well-known philanderer, but most people had enough social graces not to directly point out family faults to him.
“Nice landing,” William said.
“Thanks.” Harrison’s mouth twisted as he watched McCarthy tee up.
The impatient younger man took his swing hurriedly and then swore at where his shot had gone. They both picked up their golf bags and started walking toward where his ball had stopped just a few feet from the hole. They were going to have to search the woods for McCarthy’s. Hopefully, the man would do better as they moved along.
Harrison took his time lining up his easy shot. “I guess I don’t feel the need to marry my fortune. Though I am a flagrant opportunist like my father, I honestly come to the club to play golf, not to find wealthy women to date. Dating someone here just works out for me sometimes.”
He shook his head when McCarthy laughed as if he’d told a joke.
“Being a handsome bastard helps too, I imagine. You must have gotten your looks from your mother’s side. Like everyone else, I’ve noticed you pretty much date whoever you want, but what I find interesting is you never keep any of them. Every businessman needs a wife to help him build his career. I thought the great entrepreneur, Harrison Walter Graham, would have picked a proper showpiece already.”
Harrison raised his head from the white ball he’d been pondering. “What’s a showpiece? I’m patiently waiting for the perfect woman to cross my path. A smart-minded man looks for quality instead of quantity, McCarthy.”
“Yes, but quantity is so much fun. Of course, bed partner consistency probably has its benefits too. And I’ll admit it—I’m considering settling down. My parents are already pushing for grandchildren. Right now, I’ve got my eye on cute, little Lydia Smithfield.”
Harrison knew the quiet girl and thought she deserved someone much better than William McCarthy. Unfortunately, her parents never let the kid breathe on her own, much less date someone without money or a long-standing country club membership. Lydia was dragging her feet about dating, but like most females born into prominent Falls Church families, she’d likely cave to her parent’s plans for her eventually. Not many young women had enough fight in them to buck the well-oiled machine of wealth and privilege.
“Why don’t you pick someone to marry who might actually challenge you, McCarthy? Lydia’s just a kid—a very green kid—and you know what I mean.”
William laughed again, and Harrison knew his words of warning weren’t worth the breath it had taken to say them aloud.
“I’m not an old man like you yet, Harrison. I like my women green. Lydia’s legal and her still being a kid in most ways is perfect for my plans. You see, her parents are making her go to an all girls college, which will reduce my competition to nil. I’ll have to dangle her along while she gets her degree, but that will leave me free for at least four more years to enjoy being a bachelor.”
“What about loving her, William? Is that part of your master plan?” Harrison asked, watching the younger man play the ball that had they’d finally found beside a tree.
He didn’t say anything when his partner tossed the ball a good three feet from the edge of the fairway before walking to it. William’s smooth follow-through swing spoke of masculine confidence as he sent his cheated shot arcing through the air, but it was the younger man’s conversation which betrayed his true nature.
“Are you seriously expecting to fall in love at your age? My father says that’s not how it works for men with money. It may be 1965 everywhere else, but it’s still 1955 here in Falls Church. My parents expect me to marry a decent girl and have a family. If I pick someone now, they’ll leave me alone until my trust fund matures in three years. I figure by the time Lydia leaves college, I’ll have sufficiently sown my wild oats. I’ll be as good to her as any other husband would be.”
Harrison grunted. “Will you? Your plans sound pretty calculating.”
William laughed. “Why do you think I majored in business? My parents will approve of her… and therefore approve of me for marrying her.”
Harrison snorted, having to work to hide his disgust. “Love isn’t something you can plan. Maybe I’ll die an optimist, but when I marry—if I marry—it will be to a woman I adore.”
“You’re a dreamer, Harrison. A dreamer. Your dreaming obviously works for you in business, but you should be a realist in the rest of your life. And by the way… I suck at golf and yet am ahead by more than three strokes. So who’s the smart one?”
“Keep your shirt on, McCarthy. We’re only on the third hole. You play the short game. I, on the other hand, do everything with the long-term in mind.”
As they walked to the next hole, Harrison thought of all the nights he ate alone. Would he like to find a wife? Sure he would. But he’d been focused on his business and waited too long by country club standards. Good women tended to marry in their early twenties. Harrison figured it was so they never got tempted to be bad. All that were left unmarried by their mid-twenties were shy spinsters or widows unless you had the gonads to take on a woman someone else had cast aside.
Personally? He liked divorced women for a tumble, but to marry one? That was never happening. His four stepmothers were no better than his father. They were already on husbands two, three, and… whatever.
His family history was enough reason for him not to get serious with a retread. But to get a woman no other man had screwed up, he’d have to marry someone at least a decade younger than him. Then he’d be stuck with a woman who had no sense of herself or the world.
He’d all but given up dating because he couldn’t even handle dinner and a movie with anyone under twenty-five without getting bored. Court an eighteen-year-old like McCarthy kept talking about doing? That was a true kid by his over thirty standards.
Harrison would be the first to admit he hadn’t lived like a monk until just recently, but years of experience had taught him you could only stay in bed a certain amount of time. Every year he got older, he longed more and more for someone who was also interesting outside the sheets. His risk-taking nature told him she was out there if he just kept looking hard enough.
The country club—and Falls Church—was full of east coast, ivy league educated women, and he’d dated several of them. Given those dating odds being present in his favorite hunting ground, sure—he’d been hoping to cull the herd sooner.
It was a sad situation when a successful man in his prime couldn’t find a woman he liked talking to for more than five minutes.
“Hello, Ms. Pearson. I see you brought the divot queen back with you today. Want me to find you a spiked caddy to help mend the lawn as you go? Might keep your game moving a little faster.”
“It won’t work—not if the boy is even fractionally good-looking,” Doris said dryly, grinning at her favorite greenskeeper before looking toward her niece, who was eyeing a new pale blue golf skirt. “Vivian, stop mooning and pick out your size. I’ll get it for you. Bring it over here and let Lloyd ring it up with our fees.”
The girl made happy sounds and started searching through the hangers. Doris smiled as she turned back. “Who’s ahead of us today?”
“Just one set—McCarthy and Graham. Probably on the fifth hole about now,” he reported.
Doris nodded. McCarthy wasn’t a problem. Vivian had dated him and declared him an ass already. But Harrison Graham? He was a different sort of man, and you could never tell what was on his agenda. Her blonde, curvy, and attractive twenty-two-year-old niece was a bit below Graham’s typical dating limit of mid-twenty-somethings. But she still hoped she and her niece didn’t catch up to them on the green.
Vivian was waiting for her longtime boyfriend to pop the big question, but Graham had that certain something not many men cultivated. She had no doubt he was capable of using it to override any female’s good intentions.
“You’re the best ever, Aunt Doris.”
“When your mother complains that I’m spoiling you, tell her it’s my thank you for playing with me today. Your game is getting better.”
“I know. Last time I only made ten divots instead of fifteen. I’m going to try to not do more than eight today.”
Doris rolled her top lip down over her teeth and bit it to keep from laughing. If Vivian’s grandparents weren’t both still on the board, Vivian would have been banned from the course already. She grinned when Lloyd turned away to hide his amusement and got busy looking for a bag for Vivian’s new skirt.
“Progress is progress, honey,” Doris declared. “Ready to play?”
“Absolutely. Are we getting a caddy to carry our clubs?”
Doris laughed. “Is there a caddy working here that wouldn’t distract you from our game?” Vivian’s sigh of defeat deepened her laughter.
Doris reached out and squeezed Vivian’s arm to show she was teasing. “Come on. You can carry your own bag for once. We’ll stay for lunch afterward, and you can flirt with the waiters. I told my office I wouldn’t be back until two thirty or three.”
“I don’t flirt,” Vivian denied. “I’m just very friendly. It’s not my fault men like me so well.”
Doris ignored that sexist female comment and her niece’s denial as she handed over her barely used credit card to a still grinning Lloyd. The card was a new thing for her, but she was finding it to be far more discreet than running a tab at the club—a tab she knew circulated to feed the gossip mill.
She might have learned to live with the stares and whispers of being a lone divorced woman, but she didn’t want to intentionally create more. She’d done enough of that with dating some of the older, single male members. Luckily for her, a Harvard law degree was great for intimidation and for the money it provided her to pay her own way. Money was still the strongest character reference at the club.
“Have a nice game, ladies,” Lloyd said, handing her the card receipt.
Doris and Vivian waved as they headed to her BMW convertible to get their clubs.
Harrison’s first thought when he heard Doris Pearson’s distinctive voice was that his luck was finally changing. Her clear diction and modulated tones were unmistakable. She was laughing in a relaxed, attractive way as she talked to her young, blonde golf partner. In his opinion, Doris Pearson could read the phone book and sound sexy.
When he turned his head in their direction, he saw his long-legged idea of heaven was dressed in purple golf shorts and what he was sure was a man’s navy blue polo tucked inside them. Not being overly endowed on top, Doris favored untailored shirts without breast placeholders. Her practical, pointy support bras made it possible for someone like him to guess her smallish size which he didn’t consider a downside. He’d always been more of a leg man than a breast man, and he knew from experience breasts like Doris’s would fit nicely in his palms.
Since McCarthy had his head turned taking his shot, Harrison fished a pair of binoculars out of his golf bag. Through them, he watched as Doris yelled “Fore!” and bent to take her shot. The next thing he heard was a swish of her club slicing the air. There was a click, a connection, and her face took on a serene expression of delight. Every time he saw that side of Doris, he wondered how the hell the soft-spoken, serene looking woman ever managed to face down anyone in court.
“Don’t bother going after that one, Graham. Those legs aren’t unlocking until the woman gets a band on her hand. Rumor has it an unlucky candidate has recently stepped forward for the sacrifice—poor bastard.”
Harrison lowered his binoculars. What the hell? Doris was nearly twice McCarthy’s age. He could have been her son. “You dated Doris Pearson? When? You were still at school when she got divorced.”
William sputtered in surprise before laughing. “Dated Doris Pearson? Me? Oh hell, no. I was talking about Vivian—Doris’s niece. She can’t play golf worth a shit, but none of the women in the club will play with her aunt, which is why she has to. Doris Pearson’s no Babe Zacharias mind you, but she’s the closest thing Falls Church has to a pro. My mother says the club women don’t like Doris because she chose her job over her husband. My guess is she’s an ice cube. Women never seem to get the real reason men go elsewhere.”
Harrison snorted and shook his head. “I don’t believe any of the rumors about Doris. Club women are petty because they have nothing better to do with their time than gossip. Doris and Avery were married for over twenty years before he left her for someone Vivian’s age. Don’t you think Doris is well rid of the cheating bastard? I, for one, admire how she’s handling her life without him.”
“Yo, Reverend Hypocrite—you’re preaching to the wrong choir here.” William snorted and then laughed. “I’m not Doris, so don’t waste your I’m-really-a-good-guy speech on me. You platonically date women Vivian’s age all the time, but then go sleep with divorced women because they put out. Then you walk merrily away from both without a backward glance.”
“It’s not exactly like that,” Harrison denied. And it hadn’t crossed his mind that people like William McCarthy were reading such motives into his behavior.
“Please. Stop with the denial. You don’t have to explain yourself to me. Besides—you could probably get Doris between the sheets, but for what purpose? She’s never going to be your perfect wife. It might be worth a little something to be able to imitate that killer golf swing of hers, but that’s all the good she can do a man in the long-term. She only dates older guys so you can tell she knows her place in the food chain.”
Harrison had no comment to that horrible observation, mostly because the criticism about his dating habits had hit a new nerve. In all honesty, he was stalking Doris the same as he had other older women he’d hooked up with over the years.
Guilt landed squarely on his shoulders and made him hang his head for a moment. He certainly couldn’t continue checking Doris out with William McCarthy critiquing his reasons. No telling what the boy would tell his parents—two of the biggest gossips at the club.
Harrison sighed quietly as they picked up their clubs and headed to the next hole. He needed to be more discreet in his pursuit. Unfortunately, discreet was not his style.
“Those purple shorts make your long legs look really great, but you need a woman’s blouse to make them look better. Why do you always wear men’s shirts to play golf, Aunt Doris? Mama says that’s what’s holding you back. If you got a better haircut—something more modern—I bet you’d get all the dates you could ever want. It’s so funny that Mama is blonde and your hair is so… brownish. How do you suppose that happened?”
The urge to inform her niece that her mother’s secret was bleach and blonde hair dye was strong. Instead of venting her frustration, she turned her head away and settled for rolling her eyes.
In Vivian’s world, a woman’s focus should always be on maintaining her appearance. How could she protest that worldview when her own sister had passed that lovely vanity along to her daughter?
Doris knew lecturing her niece about the value of education was a waste of time and breath. Vivian’s primary life goal was snagging an MRS Degree before her college years ended. Next time the girl came home from school, Doris expected it would be with both a cum laude diploma in her hand and a diamond ring on her finger.
As a jagged breath left her mouth, she hoped her sigh of resignation would be politely ignored by her niece. “Thank you for caring about how I look, Viv, but there’s no need to concern yourself. I already have all the dates I want.”
“How can that be true? Mama said you haven’t dated much since your divorce.”
Doris shrugged because she couldn’t deny it. “At the moment, the number of dates I want is zero, honey. But if I ever feel the need for a makeover, I’ll be sure and let you and your pretty blonde mama know. For the record though—I am never dying my hair. I simply don’t want to, so never ask me.”
“Okay,” Vivian said, sighing as she looked down. “It’s not like brown isn’t a good hair color. It’s just so… serious.”
“Yes, it is. That’s why it suits me. I’m a serious person,” Doris said as she took her stance, checked her grip, and pulled back to gauge the swing.
She was five feet ten in her golf shoes and had to use men’s clubs instead of women’s. The ones she had were a gently used set that had once belonged to her golf trainer’s husband. Everyone in her life knew her clubs were her favorite possession.
She didn’t care what people thought about her dating life or how they judged the way she dressed to please herself. Her weekly golf game was her only break from her stressful job. Out here on the green, it was just her, the ball, and a sweet, breezy challenge that didn’t have anyone’s life or livelihood hanging in the balance.
“What do you think of Harrison Graham, Aunt Doris?” Vivian asked.
Doris chopped her shot when she took it. She looked at the girl and snarled. “No talking until after I finish. We’re not counting that one. Hand me another ball and be quiet for a full minute until I’m done swinging.”
“Sorry… yes, I know. Sorry,” Vivian said quickly, fishing another white ball out of her bag. “Here. I forgot for a moment. Take your shot again. I’ll be quiet until you’re done.”
Doris lined up a second time, yelled “Fore!” and smoothly chucked the ball into the wind, which carried it within a foot of the hole. She sighed and slid her club back into the bag. She turned to her niece as she shouldered it.
“Thank you. Now tell me you’re not interested in Harrison Graham. The man is not a kid like Freddie. Harrison is over thirty, handsome as hell, and probably used to women putting out every time he pays for dinner. His kind is not for you, little girl. Hell, Freddie is barely for you.”
Vivian giggled as they walked. “For me? Oh no, Aunt Doris. I’m not planning to fool around with any old guys and mess things up. I’m marrying Freddie and he’s going to be my first. Mama says Freddie’s family is loaded. She thinks I might even get my own house for a wedding present. Freddie will probably work in his uncle’s agency as an accountant. We’ve nearly got our life together all worked out.”
“Really? And just what do you plan to do with your life while Freddie’s working for a living?” Doris asked.
“I’ll be his wife and have his babies, of course. That’s why I majored in art. All those design classes will help me decorate our new house and dress our kids in a way Freddie’s mom will approve of for sure. I read a lot of articles about being a good wife, and they all say it’s very important for your husband’s mother to approve of you.”
Doris wanted to roll her eyes to the heavens, argue about sexist propaganda, and then shake some sense into the girl. But who was she to lecture on what made a good family? She’d been married since college herself and had no family to show for her twenty plus years with Avery Vincent. That kind of success had only come to one of them.
Her ex-husband was finally going to be a father after all this time… just not to her child, though medical science had found no reason she had never become a mother. None of Avery’s other women over the years had conceived though—and she knew they hadn’t because she’d had them thoroughly investigated—yet Avery had somehow knocked up his much younger secretary in a very short period of time. The girl’s extreme fertility was without question, but the unplanned pregnancy proved without further debate that the problem of never conceiving was hers.
The only good thing coming out of the sordid situation was that the woman’s visible condition of being with child turned into an infidelity tipping point. Doris knew the pregnancy had forced her to rethink the logical, but not loving reasons, that had kept her legally bound for too long to her habitually cheating husband. In the end, it was Avery’s unborn child driving her swift action of dissolving their relationship. She didn’t need Avery or his money, but his child’s mother was only a secretary. Celeste came from a wealthy family, but would still need Avery’s financial help for the next twenty or so years.
The unexpected bonus of her decision to finally end her unhealthy relationship was that divorcing Avery had brought immense relief. Her marriage had been nothing but a social ruse for years—one she hadn’t bothered to change because it had been better for her unusual career to be married. Most people liked the illusion that the attorney they hired was a more stable individual than they were.
Clients also liked the illusion that their female lawyer knew the intricacies of a marital relationship. She certainly knew a lot of intricacies. She just wasn’t very good at applying them to herself.
“Do you think Freddie will be a good husband to me?”
“I don’t know him well enough to answer that, Viv. What do you think?” Doris demanded softly. She listened to her niece sighing.
“I see our children when I look in his eyes. Do you think I’m being naïve?”
Doris sighed too. “Yes, but that’s what being in love is supposed to be like. Every couple should start out starry-eyed and full of hope. Otherwise, why bother?”
During the first decade of her marriage, she had been sporadically optimistic. She’d read and sought counseling for anything Avery pointed out as a flaw. She’d traveled to Europe and hired experienced gentlemen to teach her things with a patience her husband lacked with her. Nothing she’d tried had worked, of course, but she did keep trying back then.
The problem was her husband wanted her to be a kind of woman she wasn’t ever meant to be in bed. Avery seemed relieved to stop pretending and hadn’t complained a bit when she’d moved into a separate bedroom to make their separation official. Her husband in name only hadn’t shared her bed at all in the second decade they’d stayed together. She’d stayed his legal wife and frequently traveled to find fulfillment. Avery, on the other hand, had moved like a bee going from flower to flower… and he’d done so publicly.
If she’d loved Avery during that second decade, their situation would likely have destroyed her. God knew she’d handled plenty of divorces where the women never recovered from the shock of finding themselves unexpectedly alone and without income.
No one but her sister ever mentioned Avery’s cheating to her. But she knew it gave the gossip committee at the country club something juicy to talk about behind her back. She was a fallen woman in their eyes just because she couldn’t keep Avery happy at home.
Since her divorce, she’d dated a few men to keep the speculation headed in the direction she wanted it to go. Lately, she’d stopped trying to show the Falls Church community that she didn’t care what her ex-husband did with his life. Avery wasn’t around the club to see her weak conquests among the older single men anyway. The membership had gone to her in the divorce because of her parents and because she owned quite a bit of its stock. She’d always had the real money in her marriage.
And truthfully, she was fine with being single. More than fine with it actually. The problem was that no one would let her be okay with her reality. She often wondered what they would think if she told them what a miserable job both she and Avery had done in faking it.
“Aunt Doris? Aren’t we supposed to tee up behind the line back here?”
Doris turned back and nodded. Her mind was not on her game today. Wasn’t she done with regretting? She needed to be done. Sighing, she walked back and set her stand so her golf bag would stay upright. Pulling out the perfect iron, she propped it over a shoulder. She listened to her niece clear her throat.
“Did I upset you, Aunt Doris? You never answered my question.”
“No, darling. Which question?” Doris asked dully.
Vivian’s optimism made her feel grumpy and old. Holy hell though, she was tired of talking to women who forever found fault with everything she was, thought, and did. That group included her friends, her sister, and every man she’d ever had personal contact with. Sometimes she didn’t think there was truly a compassionate soul left alive on the planet.
“I asked… what do you think of Harrison Graham? He was checking you out earlier.”
Doris chuckled at her niece’s statement, lining up for her shot. “I guarantee you the man was not checking me out. He was looking at you, Viv. All men look at you.”
“No. Not him,” Vivian said firmly. “When I walked to my bag, his binoculars stayed pointed in your direction. And they were tilted down at your legs.”
“His binoculars were probably pointed at the ball. Maybe he’s trying to pick up some tips,” Doris suggested, finding Harrison Graham’s spying highly amusing.
“Maybe,” Vivian agreed. “Babe Zacharias did train you.”
“Yes, but she wasn’t the famous Babe Zacharias then,” Doris replied. “She was still Babe Didrickson but just as wonderful on the green. Her golf camp was the absolute best two weeks of my life.”
“You always say that, but I don’t believe you. Was that golf vacation better than your wedding and honeymoon?” Vivian demanded.
Doris rolled her eyes, but she wasn’t going to lie to the girl. “God, yes. Avery was my first lover and yet expected me on my wedding night to be like the other loose girls he’d slept with. It was a horrible first sex experience. I slept on the couch afterward and left him the next morning to go back home. The only reason Avery came after me was because his parents made him. The only reason I went back was that your grandparents talked me into it. I might have found a good man eventually if I’d stuck to my guns and kept looking.”
She took the shot, it clipped the edge, and the ball flew to the right, landing a good five or six feet from the hole. It made her angry that thinking of Avery in bed could affect her after all this time. How much longer was that going to go on? She’d done a lot to shed those experiences.
“Damn it. My game is completely off today, Viv,” she complained aloud, even though she knew her golf game was of no interest to her niece.
“You made up with Uncle Avery though—I mean, you stayed with him for over twenty years, so you obviously made up and fixed things back then. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right?” Vivian asked quietly.
Doris shook her head and frowned. “Not really, but I suppose I should be glad the illusion was believable. The truth is that we barely made up and Avery’s patience with me ran out completely by the end of our first decade. We hid our problems from everyone—maybe even ourselves. Avery always claimed it was my fault we never conceived. Now instead of being considered a cheating jackass, he’s seen as a good guy because he agreed to our divorce so he could marry the future mother of his love child.”
She turned to see Vivian chewing her lip over her diatribe. Doris barely fought back the sigh. Her honesty was too much for the girl, but oh how she wished someone had warned her about the pitfalls of sharing your body with the wrong sort of man.
“Look—your mama married for love and your daddy still adores her. That’s what marriage is supposed to be like, Viv. I picked a husband with more flaws than any woman should have to deal with in a marriage. Freddie absolutely adores you. Don’t let my jaded, divorced woman attitude color expectations of your relationship. Your opinion is the only one that matters.”
“Thank you, Aunt Doris. I’m glad you like Freddie. He’s perfect for me.”
Doris watched the girl line up her shot and knock a crater in the ground as her ball flew in an upward arc. Since it landed closer to the hole than hers had, she couldn’t say a damn word in complaint about how Vivian got it there.
Together they worked to press the turf back into place. It was like golf ballet with all the toe pointing and pressing down to convince the divot to root back into the soil. They shouldered their bags afterward and started off again.
“Mama thinks you should date younger men. I think Harrison is perfect for her idea because he’s over thirty and that’s old too. Mama said it would be like you getting a do-over. She said if Avery could date women half his age, then you should be allowed to date younger men. I think she’s secretly hoping you will.”
Doris laughed. “Well, your mother sure hasn’t said anything like that to me. All I get is pity. Every time I visit, she cries as if someone died. The divorce has actually improved my situation, not made it worse. I wish I could convince her of that.”
Vivian shrugged. “I know. Daddy told her to let you live your life your way. Mama calls Avery bad names when Daddy isn’t around. I think she means well with her sympathy but is just worried what you’d say if she said the mean stuff out loud to you.”
Doris put her arm around her niece and hugged. Vivian was a peacemaker all around. She hoped Freddie was as good as he seemed. The last thing she wanted was to be handling another divorce in their family, so she was going to write up a marriage contract for her niece. It had taken both she and Ruth to convince the young girl of the wisdom behind it. No woman with an inheritance should ever give that up to her spouse.
“You know what I’d say to your mother? I’d tell her I don’t need to be married. It’s the 1960s and women can do anything they want now. Thanks for telling me all that, honey. I’ll remember it next time I come to see you all.”
Vivian nodded and smiled. “Okay. So back to Harrison Graham… on a scale of one to ten, how handsome do you find him. Please just tell me that much. Then I swear I’ll let it go.”
Doris snorted. “You have a one-track mind, girl. Okay—I will admit Harrison Graham is a resounding ten. I even like those stupid Buddy Holly glasses he sometimes wears, and I like that he’s a little taller than me. If the man is even half as smart as people say he is, I’d probably enjoy talking to him. If he were a decade older, I’d definitely go out to dinner. Satisfied now, Ms. Romantic?”
“Oh yes,” Vivian sang. “I love you and just wanted to know you hadn’t given up. I’m sure there’s still time to meet someone new. You look really good for a woman your age.”
“Thank you, Vivian. Coming from a happily engaged woman who looks like you do, that’s a huge compliment.”
As they made their way around the rest of the course, Doris laughed at the idea of her and young Graham. It was nice to know her niece thought she looked good enough for someone as handsome as Harrison was. She could afford to be amused by it all she wanted because it was never going to happen.
The entire “Never too Late” series is a romantic set of novels filled with humor, characters rich with emotion, and overall delightful storylines in each. The heroes are hot and definitely swoon-worthy. Ms. McDonald’s novels will capture your attention from the beginning of each story, and keep you turning page after page until the end. I love this series so much!. ~ Christy, Tyhada Reads.
SERIES: Never Too Late, Book 7
LENGTH: 286 PAGES
RELEASE DATE: July 26, 2016
E-BOOK ISBN: 978-1-939988-55-3
PRINT ISBN-13: 978-1-939988-56-0