<< have a usb modem and i wat to try and avoid a router if possible >>
You could connect a network hub/switch to the desktop PC's network adapter and plug the Toshiba laptop into one of the hub/switch ports. Into a second port, plug a Wireless Access Point which will let the second laptop connect wirelessly. (The second laptop could also connect by ethernet cable if it has a "wired" network adapter installed.)
The desktop PC still connects to the internet with "Internet Connection Sharing" enabled and it will allocate LAN IP addresses by DHCP to the two laptops.
This will work without having to install a router, although I believe a router is still the better solution.