Read on for an excerpt from Play for Keeps by Maggie Wells.
He pounced on the hint of vulnerability. “Are you telling me you have feelings?”
“Good Lord, Ty,” she blurted, exasperation overcoming her. “Of course I have feelings. I’m not a robot.”
He skirted the end of the table and came to a stop beside her chair. He stood unmoving, waiting for her to expound, but she didn’t. He was a ballplayer, used to intimidating opponents with his superior height and strength, but he didn’t scare her. She found him…breathtaking.
“Do you have feelings for me?” he asked, enunciating each word with precision. Before she could suck in a little oxygen, he leaned down, effectively caging her in with one hand planted on the table, the other gripping the back of her chair. “And if so, what are those feelings? Specifically?”
The intensity of his stare held her in thrall. She didn’t try to bolt or slither from the seat. The truth was, she didn’t want to elude him or them or what they might be able to carve out together. The only part she wanted to avoid was the bit where her heart ended up broken into a million pieces. She’d spent years reinventing herself after her marriage fell apart. If she Humpty Dumptied again, there might not be enough horses, men, or superglue to make her whole once more.
She started to shake her head but stopped when he leaned in closer. “You know,” she whispered at last, taking the coward’s way out.
But she couldn’t. Verbalizing her feelings would make them actual information. Information was knowledge. Knowledge equaled power. This man had enough power over her already. She couldn’t give him carte blanche. So she’d start with a few basic truths. Maybe those would be enough to placate him.
“I don’t want Mari to be pregnant with your baby.” He stiffened enough to tell her this was not the confession he wanted or expected. She needed to give him a little more. Enough to let him infer but not enough to confirm. “I wish you’d never slept with her, but given the circumstances, pretending would be fairly ridiculous.”
His eyes narrowed. “Is this a feeling?”
“Jealousy,” she replied with a jerky nod. “I’m jealous.” When his brows rose, Millie felt the need to spin the confession. “Not ‘I’m gonna put sugar in your gas tank’ jealous, but yes, jealous.”
Ty nodded, compressing his mouth into a thin line as he digested. “Jealous is a good start. What else?”
An emotion easy to own. She’d been pissed off since this whole mess started. Pissed at Ty for marrying the nitwit. At the nitwit for being too blind to know what she had. At Dante Harris’s ingratitude and the vicious glee the press exhibited in taking what should have been a private matter and whipping it into a story concocted for consumption. She couldn’t even think about the morons who sat like lumps in front of their computer and television screens gobbling personal pain like handfuls of mixed nuts.
She was angry he kissed like he did. Sweet, sensual, drugging kisses that burned hotter than one of those fire-starter logs. The feel of his big, rough hands on her body stoked the flames higher and higher. She didn’t want to love him. Never asked him to love her. But now that she’d had him, she didn’t want to share one bit of him with anyone else. Not even a baby.
“You’re angry?” he clarified.
“Yes.” She bit the word off hard, incensed that he seemed to be questioning her right to feeling this way. “Yes, I’m angry.” She tipped her chin up a notch. “What of it?”
Ty smiled as he pushed away and rose to his full height. But not a happy smile. The gleam of it glinted with a steely, sharp edge. “Nothing. I’m glad I’m not the only one.”
Once she had some breathing room, Millie sucked in a deep hit and went straight to the heart of the matter. “When was the last time you slept with Mari?” He blinked, then started to recover, but before he could say a word, she held up a hand to stop him. “Not slept, had sex. The kind of sex that gets a woman knocked up.”
“A perverse part of me loves it when you get explicit.”
She acknowledged the comment but didn’t let the playful gambit deter her. “Great. We’ll get to perversions later, but right now, we’re talking about the probability of baby making.”
“A week or so before she left.” He raised a hand in a gesture of futility, then let it fall away. “I don’t remember exactly. I thought about what went wrong a lot…after. I can’t pin it on any trouble in bed, but I let a lot of other things go. Things I didn’t want to admit to seeing.”
Millie wet her lips, her mind clicking through various options as she tried to figure out how best to approach her next question. “And before you discovered the affair with Dante, did you suspect anything?”
He shook his head a split second too early for his denial to be anything but a knee-jerk reaction. “Ty, anything?”
Something must have pinged, because he stopped on a dime. “Why? What did you hear?”
Title: Play for Keeps
Author: Maggie Wells
Series: Love Games, #2
Pub Date: April 3, 2018
Mixing business and pleasure is a dangerous game…
Tyrell Ransom, the new men’s basketball coach, is ready to whip his team into shape and start winning some games. But when compromising photos of his soon-to-be-ex-wife with one of his players go viral, everything comes crashing down. With reporters thick on the ground, Ty and his team need some serious damage control—now.
When public relations guru Millie Jenkins arrives in her leopard-print cape to save the day, things really heat up... Soon they’re going to have to work double time to keep their white-hot chemistry out of the headlines.
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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