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~*~

“All in?” Sam asked, casting a glance around the poker table. Three solemn nods greeted him in response, and he dealt the cards.

Silence filled the air as the players looked at their hands and formulated their bets.

“I’ll open for $5,” Sam announced, tossing a chip into the middle of the table.

Charlie and Kristy anted up the opening amount, but Stacey chose to raise the stakes. “I’ll see your $5, and raise you $5,” she said, tossing two chips into the center.

“I’ll take that,” Kristy announced, adding her own chips onto the pile.

Sam took another look at his cards, and raised the stakes again. “Willing to part with $25, McGill?” he challenged.

“Why not?” she returned, adding a glossy green chip to the pile.

“Too rich for my blood,” Charlie murmured, folding his hand and sitting back in his chair.

Kristy glanced from her brother to her friend before pushing her own pile of white chips into the center.

“Why don’t we make this fun?” Stacey mused, tossing two more green chips in, bringing the stake to $50.

“Why stop there?” Sam countered, tossing in a black $100 chip.

Stacey considered her hand and tossed in her own black chip.

Beside her, Kristy sighed. “I’m out.”

“Looks like it’s just you and me, McGill,” Sam said.

Stacey smirked. “And it looks like my pile is bigger than yours,” she shot back sweetly, gesturing to the carefully stacked columns of chips in front of her.

Sam arched a brow. “You willing to risk it all?”

Stacey shrugged. “Now where would the fun be in that? It’s not like you can raise the stakes.”

Sam’s smile was Cheshire-like. “I wouldn’t say that,” he purred, pushing all of his chips into the pot.

Stacey looked down at her hand. She was holding a straight flush, her best hand of their hour-long game. She already knew that the chances of Sam holding a better hand than her own was approaching nil, having worked out the probabilities as soon as she’d looked at her cards.

Still – Sam had an amazing poker face, and she was curious to see what he’d offer if she raised him.

She quickly calculated the value of the chips he’d added to the pot, and added her own glossy assortment. “That hand of yours worth $500?” she remarked casually.

Sam looked utterly bored by her taunt. “Easily,” he replied.

Charlie whistled; Kristy gaped.

“What’s your collateral? Gold-plated underwear?” Stacey teased.

Sam made a big show of looking down the front of his pants. “No,” he proclaimed with a sigh, “you’ll have to make do with the silver ones this time.”

“And if I take them off you?” Stacey wondered. “Then what’ll you have left?”

Sam’s expression turned salacious. “I think you’re well acquainted with what I possess,” he murmured.

“Oh, gross,” Kristy huffed, pushing back from the table. “Get a room already!”

“With that pot, you could certainly afford it,” Charlie put in dryly.

Sam’s expression sobered as he locked his gaze onto his last remaining opponent. “Your move, McGill,” he said.

“If you’re offering me your underwear, then I take it this is the last hand of the night?”

He demurred.

“Then I call,” Stacey announced, laying her cards out in front of her. “Straight flush.”

Sam winced. “Ouch,” he sighed. “There’s not much than can beat that,” he conceded as he lay out his own hand, “except this.”

Stacey gaped, unable to believe her eyes.

“Yes, my dear, that’s a royal flush,” Sam confirmed, dragging his finger across all three face cards, flanked by a ten and an ace. “So it appears I get to keep my underwear – this time.” He leaned forward, wrapping his arms around the pot of poker chips, and dragged it towards himself. “I’ll give you a chance to win it all back, if you’d like.”

“No thanks,” Kristy said abruptly, shooting to her feet. “Once you start talking undergarments, I am no longer interested.”

“Ditto,” Charlie agreed, following his sister out of the room.

Sam looked at his girlfriend and grinned. “Their loss,” he mused with a shrug. “Personally, I think playing for underwear is the best kind of poker.”