ªCALLING A BLUFFª
“Your turn, David.”
Across the table from Rick, David Vitter gazed intently at the hand in front of him. His brow furrowed, either out of concern or just sheer concentration, Rick couldn’t tell. His eyes darted only momentarily to Rick, gauging his expression with a fleeting glance. Rick was unnerved instantly. When it came to gambling, David Vitter was any man’s nightmare. His skill and impeccable cunning were overshadowed by a quite believable façade of charming modesty that made him hard to read. And, thought Rick begrudgingly, damn near impossible to call on a bluff. This, Rick knew, was what had led him to be bested hand after hand by the mild-mannered gentleman.
I should have known better than to play strip poker with the greatest bullshitter the Bayou has ever seen.
“Oh my,” murmured David, arching one eyebrow. “I do declare, this is interesting.” Rick felt a surge of hope that he hadn’t felt since the start of the game, when David had trumped him soundly in the very first hand. Could it be? His heart did a joyous leap in his rib cage. Could David actually have lost a hand? A sly, smug smirk crept slowly over Rick’s features, and he watched with mild pleasure as David frowned slightly. “How terribly disappointing.”
“Yes!” Rick jumped up, pointing a finger at David. “It’s your turn to strip. And this time, shoes don’t count.” He beamed triumphantly.
“My regards to the dealer, Rick.” David said with a modest smile. “All you’ve given me are these four aces.” He laid the four cards on the table with a flourish, while Rick’s sense of victory quickly deflated.
“What--you--” Rick sputtered. “Damn it!”
“That’s right. Lose the pants.” Rick fired a glare at David, though any malice in the gesture was lost with Rick half-naked in front of his fully-clothed opponent. Rick narrowed his eyes.
“I‘ll get you for this.” He stood, unfastening his belt and shimmying awkwardly out of his pants. “That’s a promise.” David watched, an all-too-amused smirk on his face.
“Nice and slow, Ricky. Make me forget my troubles.” Rick felt his face flush.
“Yeah, yeah. Hope you’re enjoying the view back there.”
“Naturally, my dear.”
“You’re positively incorrigible.” Rick reached down, grabbed his pants off the floor, and tossed them at David. “But mark my words, David. You‘re gonna get yours.”
“I usually do. Get mine, that is.” David offered a self-satisfied smirk, leaning back in his chair. “Take that as you will.” His eyes drifted from head to toe, slowly, taking in the sight of the scantily-clad senator in front of him. “Care to try your luck at another hand?” Rick’s eyes narrowed.
“Yeah, right. What happens when I run out of clothing?”
“Then I win. And anything that takes place thereafter is purely my condition.” David stood, making as if to move for the mini-bar behind them, but instead stopped directly behind Rick’s chair. Before Rick could even fully grasp the reality of the presence behind him, both David’s hands came to rest upon his bare shoulders. His honeyed Louisiana tone murmured sultrily into Rick’s ear, “I promise you, my dear, I will make it worth your while.” Rick shivered unashamedly and let his eyes flutter closed.