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“Way to put him in his place last night, Coach.”
Kate jumped and winced when her knee connected with her desk. Her hand lashed out, sending her half-empty travel mug flying. Proving he still had the reaction time of an athlete, Mike Samlin stepped out of spatter range as the droplets of mocha arced through the air.
“I, uh…” She gathered the glossy trifolds to her bosom and clung for dear life, wondering how the hell the boss could know exactly how many places she’d put his good friend Danny in the past couple of weeks.
“Millie tells me the ratings went through the roof.”
The show. He meant The Warrior Way. They’d engaged in the Title Nine debate Millie campaigned for. Doing his best to play the misogynist, Danny’d made a crack about her using university money to order pink basketballs. It set her up beautifully for a line about her players knowing how to use their equipment.
She telegraphed a silent thank you to Millie and gave her boss a tremulous smile. “Thanks.”
Mike’s focus sharpened, and his friendly brown eyes narrowed a fraction. This was the moment she’d been dreading. She was a horrible liar. Never had the talent for it. So she’d been avoiding him. Millie too. Jim Davenport had proved to be a little more assertive than expected, but she’d managed to slip past him the minute they stopped taping.
But Mike was a diplomat as well as an administrator. He didn’t go straight for the jugular. “Looks like your camps are sold out.”
Relief mingled with pride as she grabbed the change of subject and made a break with it. “Middle grades start this week. We’ll have varsity in July. Don’t worry. We’ll be out of the way when it’s time for the boys to play.”
The look of wounded surprise in his eyes said he didn’t think he deserved her sharp tone. “I’m sure Coach Ransom will appreciate that,” he said mildly. Without waiting for an invitation, he sat in the guest chair opposite her. “I got an interesting phone call from Jonas Matthews.”
Kate braced herself for battle. This was it. She’d let her agent off the leash. Told him to go after everything he could get. And now, the battle would begin in earnest. “Did you? That’s nice.”
Mike smirked. “He was tossing around some crazy numbers.”
The dire warnings she’d heard from Jonas rang in her ears. Don’t agree or disagree on anything. Don’t let them play on your loyalties. Do not negotiate. That was Jonas’s job, and it was time for him to earn his cut. Still, the implication that she didn’t deserve every digit rankled.
“I’ve put up some crazy numbers over the years. I’m sure someone will find a way to make them match.”
The threat was barely veiled. Why bother? They both knew it was time for Wolcott to put up or shut up. Regardless of gender, hers or her team’s, she was a proven winner, and many schools would be happy to have her. A few might even deign to let her coach their precious men’s team.
“Blown the budget on football?” she asked, cutting him off. “Not my problem.”
“It’s not that—”
“I’m not discussing this. Talk to Jonas.”
“I will when he stops talking crazy.”
She held his gaze, summoning the glare she usually reserved for slacking point guards or blind refs. “Don’t hold your breath.”
“Last night’s debate was just a reminder of how inequitable things can be in collegiate sports. In all sorts of ways.” Letting that hang there, Mike rose, crossed the room, and closed the office door. “Danny leads with his heart. Something that works well in motivating others, but it doesn’t always pan out when it comes to his own interests.”
Her own heart beat like a jackhammer. She placed the neat stack of glossies in the exact spot where Millie had left them earlier and cast Mike a cool look. “And yet you offered him a multimillion-dollar contract.”
“There were some variables I couldn’t assess at that time.”
Tiring of the cat and mouse game, she sat up straighter and folded her hands on her blotter. “Such as?”
Mike stepped away from the door. Gripping the back of her guest chair, he blew out a gust of frustration. “Kate, we’ve known each other a few years now.” She blinked in surprise, but he held up a hand to stave off any interruption. “I’ve known Danny since we were the same age as the kids you coach. I’m not a fool. I guess it was too much to hope that he wouldn’t be one either.”
Indignation sank its razor-sharp talons into her. “How, exactly, do you think he’s being foolish?”
“There’s a morals clause in his contract—”
“But not in mine,” she snapped, cutting him off.
Yes, she’d checked. The morning after Danny first rolled out of her bed, she’d pulled out a copy of her contract and checked to be certain she wasn’t in violation. Now, she and Mike stared at one another, the air filled with tension and the faint rasp of agitated breathing.
“There’s nothing in my contract preventing me from entering into a mutually agreed upon relationship with a man over the age of consent and not directly in my employ. If I were, that is,” she added, holding his gaze.
“There’s nothing in your contract as it stands, but that contract is under negotiation. Big money comes with big expectations.”
“I’ve exceeded everyone’s expectations.”
“I’m not talking job performance, Kate, and you know it.”
“Coach,” she corrected. “And I suggest you talk to my agent about contract provisions. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a few things I need to handle before I greet my campers.”
Title: Love Game
Author: Maggie Wells
Series: Love Games, #1
On Sale: February 6, 2018
These successful professionals may know something about sex...but discover they’re clueless about love.
She’s earned her position
Kate Snyder is at the top of her game. She scored her first national championship at Wolcott University in her undergrad days, and now she’s the coaching legend of the #1 college women’s basketball team. No one knows the meaning of the phrase “work your way up” better than Kate. So when the university hires a football coach trying to escape scandal—paying him a lot more than she earns—Kate is more than annoyed.
He just sailed into his
Danny McMillan had hoped for a smooth transition at Wolcott, but fiery Coach Snyder made that impossible. Every time he and Kate are in a room together, snark and sparks fly. Danny gets her frustration, but her pay grade isn’t his problem, right? When Kate and Danny finally see eye to eye, their sparks turn into something even hotter…and they need to figure out if this is more than just a game.
By day, MAGGIE WELLS is buried in spreadsheets. At night she pens tales of people tangling up the sheets. The product of a charming rogue and a shameless flirt, you only have to scratch the surface of this mild-mannered married lady to find a naughty streak a mile wide. She has a passion for college football, processed cheese foods, and happy endings. Not necessarily in that order. She lives in Arkansas.
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