Hump Day: Maggie Wells' LOVE GAME

LOVE GAME by Maggie WellsLet's play a Love Game, shall we? Athletes in love is basically our catnip, so a coach falling for a former quarterback obviously caught our attention. In Maggie Wells' February 6th release, champion coach Kate Snyder is not pleased when former quarterback Danny McMillan looks to polish his tarnished reputation by joining her university's coaching staff. Tensions boil over and their very public disagreements wind up leading to a spot on a television show where they're paid to argue on camera. But before the cameras starts recording, Kate and Danny find a way to clear the air of animosity ...

The chink of heavy metal plates touching and a low grunt of exertion drew him up short of the entrance. He glanced down at the wringing-wet shirt in his hand and shuddered. He loathed the thought of struggling into it again, but he was vain enough to know the body he’d been admiring moments ago would look battered beside even the softest twenty-something. He was shaking out the damp cotton when the weights clanked a bit louder and an exhalation of relief marked the end of a set. A very feminine exhalation. 

Curiosity piqued, Danny poked his head around the corner. Shiny brown hair pulled into a ruthless ponytail. Long, toned arms spread wide to grip the bar dangling over her head. Neon rainbow trainers planted on either side of the padded bench, Kate drew the pulley down, the muscles in her back tensing and bunching beneath her tank top. The metal bar grazed the ponytail, setting it to sway as she controlled the slow, steady ascent. 

His feet moved without thought. He caught the count she murmured under her breath, measuring his steps to her reps. By the time she huffed, “Ten,” he stood directly behind her. 

His shirt fell to the floor in a heap. Kate tensed but didn’t turn. The buzz of electricity humming through the room had nothing to do with the fluorescent bulbs mounted to the drop ceiling. The whiteness of her knuckles told him she knew damn well it was him. He straddled the end of the bench, pressing his knees into her lower back as he gripped the cool metal bar on either side of the center chain and eased it from her grip. 

She raised her head and let her arms fall limp to her sides. Their gazes met and held in the mirror. The silky strands of her ponytail grazed his stomach as she tipped her head back. But instead of the chastisement or indignation he felt sure was coming, she said, “I have another set.”

Wordlessly, he hauled the bar down so she could grasp it without rising from the bench. Long, strong fingers wrapped around the grips, and his hands came to rest on her traps. She stiffened, but only for a moment. “You like the shoes?”

She cast him a sidelong glance. “Love them.”

“So, I have a chance?”

Graceful muscle moved beneath silken skin. He stared transfixed as she counted off the first rep. “Chance for what?”

“Dinner. I’d like to start over. See if we can’t spend five minutes in each other’s company without sniping.”

“I’m told the sniping is media gold.” She huffed and pulled the bar down once more. “Didn’t Millie call you? The local station has booked time for us to do a weekly show. We’re supposed to film the first one this afternoon.”

“She told me.” The show would be kind of a sports-themed point/counterpoint thing with Jim Davenport as their monkey in the middle. He wasn’t crazy about the idea of picking fights with Kate for public consumption, but he’d take the opportunity to spend more time with her. He trailed his fingertips over her delts. “I just want to know if there will be telestrators. I’ve always wanted to play with the telestrator.”

She pulled two more reps. “You are the handsiest spotter I’ve ever had.” 

He chuckled and slid his palms over her arms, feeling each muscle tighten as his fingers wrapped around her forearms. She held for a moment, but he urged her to proceed with gentle pressure. “I can’t help myself,” he confessed as she puffed out number eight. “I want you. God, I want you.” 

She froze, her shoulders and elbows locked and her arms quivering with the effort of holding the weights. “More than a TV show with a telestrator?”

“I’ve had a TV show, you know. Nothing glamorous or exciting about standing in front of a green screen. The telestrator is tempting, but it pales...” He stared, transfixed by the rosy flush coloring her fair complexion. “I can’t think about anything but wanting you.”

The plates hit with a jarring clang. She didn’t turn to look at him, but tremors of exertion—or was it excitement?—shivered under sleek pink-gold skin. “Do you always get what you want?”

He chuckled again. “I think you know I don’t.” She lowered her arms, but he couldn’t stop touching her. “They’ve all warned me.”

“Warned you about what?

“You. To stay away from you. But I can’t.” 

She closed her eyes. Dark lashes fanned flushed cheeks and her muscles relaxed. “This is a bad idea on so many levels.”

Her words were tantamount to a confession. She’d been thinking about it too. About him. Them. That kiss. 

“Horrible idea,” he agreed, bending to press a slow, firm kiss to her damp nape. “I don’t cater to prima donnas.” 

He spoke low and soft, smiling as he kissed a lazy path along her hairline.

Kate shivered and tilted her head, granting him better access. “I’ve never been a fan of the comeback kid.”

“You’re so smug here in your little kingdom.”

“Queendom,” she corrected, sliding him a sly smile as he trailed kisses along the smooth muscles he’d traced. “And don’t you forget it.”

“I doubt you’ll let me.”

Scooting forward, she twisted her torso to look him in the eye. “I don’t have a telestrator handy, but I have a coach’s clipboard.” She cocked her head, sending her ponytail swinging. “If I let you borrow it, can you draw up a play where this could work? I don’t see how either of us can come out the winner here.” 

She held his eyes just long enough for him to see the golden light burning bright in hers. Then, she dropped her gaze to his crotch and the obvious hard-on outlined by the clingy nylon of his shorts. 

“Time to hit the showers, Coach. Best make it a cold one.”

“I have.” His confession came out in a hoarse rasp. “Every damn day since I met you. Doesn’t help.”

She shifted to rise from the bench. Lean quads bunched and stretched. The black compression shorts she wore clung to the flexing muscle but stubbornly refused to inch higher. Her body brushed his. It was the barest contact, but it set him off. 

 “We can’t do this, Dan.”

A slap across the face would have been less effective in snapping him back. “Danny,” he corrected automatically. Dan was his deadbeat father’s name, and he’d never answer to it.

“Daniel?”

The only people who ever called him Daniel were LeAnn and his mother. He refused to think about his messy affair with LeAnn, and the feelings he had toward Kate were a far cry from maternal. “It’s Danny.”

One dark brow rose. “Are you five?”

He scowled, refusing to be baited. “Are you trying to pick a fight so you can ignore what’s going on between us?”

“Nothing is going on between us.”

“But something should be.” Unable to stop himself, he tucked a stray wisp of her hair behind her ear. “And you know it as well as I do.”

Something that looked like regret flickered across her face, but by the time she met his eyes again, it was gone. “I know we’re in a public place.” Her brows inched toward her hairline. “Our work place.”

“No one is here.”

“We both are,” she argued. She darted a glance at the locker room doors. “Someone else could be.”

Frustrated, he gave in and made the move she so obviously wanted him to make—he stepped back. “Fine.” She took the opening, swinging her leg over the bench and darting around him as if he were a player she’d instructed to set a pick. He turned to follow her progress as she made her way toward the door emblazoned with ‘Warrior Women.’ 

He let her get within arm’s reach of escape, then hit her with a zinger. “I’ve always hated the last two minutes of a basketball game.” 

She froze, her arm stretched for the locker room door, her palm wide and fingers splayed. She shot a puzzled look over her shoulder. “What? Why?”

He smirked. All she needed was a football tucked into the crook of her arm, and she’d be almost an exact replica of the Heisman trophy. But one a damn sight hotter than old Ed Smith—that famous trophy’s inspiration—had ever been. 

“Intentional fouls.” He started toward her but forced himself to make his steps slow and deliberate, giving her every opportunity to stop him if she wanted to. “I think intentionally fouling a player to stop the clock should be outlawed.”

She blinked as she straightened to her full height and turned back to him, her body tensed as if it took all her strength to absorb the sheer absurdity of his statement. “I’ve heard you have issues with clock management.”

He came to a stop right in front of her. “I don’t see the point in delaying the inevitable. I play straight, I play tough, and I play through to the end. No trick plays, just the fundamentals.” 

Her lips parted, and it was all he could do to resist their pull. 

“Make your fouls as flagrant as you want, Kate, but we both know the outcome is going to be the same.”

 

She ran. God help her, she ran like the ninny she was, pushing through the heavy door like the devil himself was riding her ass. And she didn’t stop until she stood with her forehead pressed against the cool metal lockers. 

Her pulse raced and in her mind, the war waged on. She was single. He was single. It wasn’t like she was his superior, and he was nowhere close to being hers. She supposed there’d be hell to pay if Mike ever found out about them. No doubt Danny had more at risk she did, and if he didn’t care…

But there were even more complications. They’d signed a contract with the television studio. Millie wanted friction for the camera. Kate wanted friction of an entirely different kind. But she wasn’t about to let the media dictate her sex life. At least not any more than she had let Jim Davenport and his remarkable lack of libido impact it. 

No, the television show wasn’t her problem. Neither was generating publicity for the school. This was her off-season. Shouldn’t she be able to get off?

The sound of a shower running made her skin prickle. She flipped over and stared at the opposite wall, as if her super x-ray vision could map out the plumbing lines inside the wall piding the men’s facilities from the women’s. Then again, if she had x-ray vision, she wouldn’t be wasting it on a maze of copper pipe.

It had been all she could do to keep from gawking at him in the weight room. She closed her eyes and slid her hand to the valley between her breasts. Her heart beat fast and hard. Groaning, she compressed one aching nipple with the flat of her palm again. It didn’t help. 

His skin had been so hot. He was leaner than she expected. She’d thought most former football players ran to fat after their playing days ended, but Danny hadn’t. Every bit of him was firm. So firm.

The loose shorts he wore did little to hide the outline of his cock. Her mouth ran dry when she first spotted the tell-tale bulge in the mirror. Her mouth was still dry, as a matter of fact. She tried to swallow, but her throat was thick and rough and nothing happened. A moment of panic seized her. She pushed away from the lockers, her gaze set on the water fountain mounted to the wall. 

The rub of her thighs against one another made it abundantly clear where all her moisture had pooled. Her cheeks flamed even as she bent for a sip, and a series of tantalizing thoughts danced in her head. They were all alone. The place was a ghost town in the first weeks of summer. She was wet. He was wet. There was no reason in the world they shouldn’t be wet together. 

Well, no reason other than common sense, pride, or the threat of public humiliation served up with a side of career suicide. 

But, at that moment, reason was more slippery than the desire pooling between her legs. She moved on instinct, breaking for the goal as if she had a ball in her hand and a clear path to the game-winning shot. 

The hydraulic hinge on the heavy locker room door shushed the nagging voice in her head. She hooked a sharp right and plowed into the men’s facilities. The sound of water beating tile greeted her. A low groan drew her up short, just shy of the shower room door. 

Pressing her hand to her throat, she peered cautiously around the corner. The new and improved Warrior facilities boasted the luxury of tiled half-walls, providing a modicum of privacy for the athletes as well as some handy-dandy shelves for toiletry items. Danny stood in the nearest stall with a hand planted on the wall. Water beat down on his neck and shoulders. It ran like a river along the deep groove of his spine and spilled over the high, round curve of his tight ass. But neither those firm, pale globes of muscle nor the tantalizing hollows that led to his hips were what pulled her in. It was the sight of his right hand wrapped around his cock.

He stroked himself with a ruthless determination that made her gasp. She wanted to cry out. Tell him to stop. Be gentle. Go faster. Harder. Wait. Let her. But Kate couldn’t seem to extract the actual words. 

She chose action.

Billows of steam enveloped her. The soles of her bright new sneakers squeaked. His shoulders tensed and the jerky movement of his hand stopped. She placed her hand on his back to keep him from looking at her. “Don’t turn around.” She inhaled shakily. “Don’t stop.”

Love Game will be available in digital and print on February 6. Digital copies start at $3.82, grab yours here: Amazon | B&N | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo. And if more Hump Day excerpts is what you crave (who wouldn't?), we've got you covered.

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