Home > Play Maker (King of the Court #3)

Play Maker (King of the Court #3)
Author: Piper Lawson








This isn’t happening.

Half an hour ago, we were at the gala celebrating the team and my mural.

Now, Clay’s moving to LA.

Rain streaks the window, and I wrap my coat tighter around me even though we’re in the car. The headline replays in my mind. I could pull it up again, but I don’t have to. Those words are emblazoned in my mind.

Trade Rumor Confirmed:

Denver Kodiaks Forward Clayton Wade Sent to LA in Multiyear Deal for Kyle Banks



“It’s going to move fast from here.” Clay’s voice has me looking toward the driver’s seat.

His bowtie is still fastened, the tattoos snaking up his neck and out the cuffs of his tux. His hair sticks up from the hand he shoved through it after getting in the car. He sat there for thirty seconds staring into space before starting the engine and pulling out of the stadium garage.

“How fast?”

His phone buzzes with alerts between us, the screen lighting up every second. He flips it over. “I need to call my agent and go see Coach.”

“It’s eleven at night.”

I feel him watching me, gauging my reaction even as he’s dealing with his own.

“I’m not getting any sleep. Doesn’t mean you can’t.” He pulls up in front of the condo building and takes my hand.

He drops a key into my palm. “I’ll see you later.”

I shift out of the car, disbelief washing over me as I race to the doors of the building. I love an adventure, but this one feels like a game where everyone can keep up except me.

Six months ago, I was living alone in Boston unemployed after my cowardly ex ran away in the night.

Now, I’m in Denver and moving in with my six-five, tattooed and grumpy all-star pro athlete boyfriend.

At least I was supposed to be.


I start to turn back, but he’s already gone.

I go up to Clay’s place and let myself in, kicking off my heels at the door. I turn on the lights and wander around the living room without a destination.

He’s wanted a trade to LA for so long. It was his endgame, and I’d almost come to accept that he’d be leaving.


He told me Harlan had agreed to keep him in Denver. That he wanted it.

It’s not clear what this means for us, but I’m desperately afraid I’m going to lose him.

A knock on the door makes me jump. I cross to the peephole. Brooke.

“Clay’s not here,” I say as I open the door to find her still in her gala outfit, no sign of rain on her anywhere, a bottle clutched in one hand.

“I figured. I came for you, dummy.”

We go to the kitchen, and I pull glasses I’ve never used from the cupboards. I pour two fingers in each, and she drops in ice cubes.

“I can’t sit down,” I say when she glances at the couch.

“Cool. We can walk and drink.”

We pace down the hall, and I glance into the room that was going to be my studio. Clay’s sports memorabilia are half packed in boxes.

I pause in front of a shelf of trophies and medals. “I’ve never won anything like that. Mar was always the overachiever.”

Brooke laughs. “Between me and Jay, I was the overachiever. He never tried hard at anything. Not until basketball. Then he had friends, and I never saw him so motivated. He has some of these things, but not like Clay. This is another level.”

“Yeah.” I exhale hard, not sure I understand it. Or that I want it.

“You didn’t know about this,” Brooke says.

“That obvious?” I say dryly before taking a sip of my drink.

“You can’t fake the expression you had when you read that press release. So, unless you’re the world’s best actress… it was a surprise to you. Clay, on the other hand, it’s not so clear.”

I’m not sure how much to say. I want to be candid with my friend, but won’t be disloyal to the man I love.

“What was in that one?” Brook nods to a glass case big enough to hold a baseball.

“Nothing. It’s always been empty.”

“It’s for a championship ring,” she says.

I never asked Clay about it, but the moment Brooke says it, I know that she’s right. “If I tell you the truth, will you keep it between us?”

She squeezes my hand. “Chicks before dicks. Always.”

“He wants to win. It eats him up when he doesn’t. And with his injury, it’s been really hard. Still, he was coming around. He likes being here and his time with the guys. I don’t understand what changed.”

“Management’s always working on these deals until the very last minute. Maybe something came up that Harlan couldn’t refuse.”

“That’s what I don’t understand. Harlan wanted this too. He believes in Clay and that he can win here.” I shake my head in frustration. “Clay didn’t stick around to talk to me about it. He dropped me off and went—”

“To see his agent?”

“And Coach,” I say. Coach is still in a coma, but I can understand Clay wants to be with him before he leaves.

She nods. “They’re going to want him to report to LA this week. He’ll be in an LA uniform by Friday. Maybe sooner.”

My head spins from the idea of him packing up and moving across the country in a matter of hours.

Brooke lifts her glass in a toast, her lips curving. “This is the lifestyle, basketball girlfriend. Reason number 512 why it’s not for me. Question is, is it for you?”

I love Clay, and I love what we are together, but we’re still finding our footing. This could change everything.

I hear the apartment door shut, and Clay hollers, “Nova?”

I glance at my phone. It’s after one in the morning.

“In here.” We stick our heads out.

Clay is already walking toward me, but he pauses when he sees I’m not alone. “Brooke.”

“I was just leaving. Your girl and I needed to have a chat. Good luck in LA.”

He watches her go.

I close the distance between us, looking up at him. Clay is both alert and exhausted at once. His tux jacket and bowtie are gone, his shirt open at the collar, swirls of ink flirting with his neck. “How did things go with your agent? And Coach?”

“Agent talked more.” He kicks off his shoes and crosses the carpet.

We meet in the middle, his hands finding my waist in a way that’s reassuring. He’s my anchor in this disconcerting storm.

“The deal’s done. LA picked up my contract. They were top of my trade list, so my agent never thought about pushing back when it came through earlier today.” He pauses. “They’re still a favorite to win the championship.”

He wants this. He’s just shocked by the way it went down.

“That’s good, then,” I manage.

Clay pulls me close, his arms tightening around me. “I’m sorry about tonight. It was supposed to be your night, and instead it’s been a shit show—”

I press up onto my toes and brush my lips over his.

He kisses me back, both comforting and a little desperate at once.

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