Edited by Nan
“Rapunzel.” Jax used his nickname for Jinx. “That braid of yours is long, but it’s not long enough to cover your bare torso like Lady Godiva.”
Jinx spun in his direction with a dazzling smile and a gleam in her eye. “So you found out why we’re here.”
“No thanks to Pinks or that heartthrob of yours. Harry clued me in. ”
“You’re my heartthrob.”
“Let’s make sure you remember that. Harry informs me this was all your idea?”
“My idea?” Jinx feigned surprise.
“Yep. His exact words were you wanted in on a game of strip poker with Cal Johnson. And here we are.”
Jinx giggled, apparently unwilling to lie to his face.
“What happens when you have to slip out of that dress? In front of everybody?”
Jinx’s cute head danced from side to side without a worry in the world. “I’ve got on lots of jewelry. Shoes. It’s gonna take more than a minute to get me out of my dress.”
Just then the great god of Major League Baseball himself let out a short piercing whistle to get everyone’s attention. “Poppy and I appreciate y’all joining us for an event that has been several months in the making. Thanks to Emelina Flores for making a crazy Christmas Assassin game legit by having the proceeds go to charity, we realized we could give you the same good reason to take off your clothes. Your twenty-dollar buy-in
to our little poker game tonight will go directly to fund the many Henderson Helping Henderson projects now in progress. So really … by showing up tonight and by, perhaps, showing off some skin, you are contributing mightily to the Henderson cause. So let’s get to it. First, for obvious reasons we are collecting all cell phones. Please place yours in the Ziplock bag Poppy is passing around. These will be locked in a safe in my bedroom and will not be released until you are headed out the door. In other words, the visual antics that happen at this party, stay at this party.”
Poppy made the rounds as everyone dropped their phone into the bag.
“In order to make things interesting and give Henderson Helping Henderson ample opportunity to make money, all jewelry, including watches, will not be considered clothing. Only legitimate clothing counts as taking something off.”
“Do shoes count?” Scarlett asked.
“Shoes count. Anything considered clothing, counts. Also, if you are down to your last item of clothing, you will have a one-time opportunity to add another twenty to the kitty, giving you the chance to start over with all your clothes back in place.”
A knock on the door interrupted him. Cal took a moment to look around at the dozen people in front of him. “I thought everyone was here.”
“Oh, darn,” came the quiet response from Laidey as she rushed toward the door. “It might be Xavier. I was afraid of this. Sorry everyone.” But to Laidey’s surprise, it was Lolly and Brooks who stuck their heads in the door, unsure if they’d be allowed to enter.
“We, ah, heard there was a party going on,” Brooks said with a big-ass grin on his face.
“Mind if we join?” Lolly had a twinkle in her eye.
“Sure.” Cal waved them in. “The more the merrier.” Clearly the two of them had been tipped off because they each sported layers of clothing. “I was just going over the rules. Hand your cell phones to Poppy. Buy-in is twenty dollars to start and you have the option to buy-in again if you are down to your last article of clothing and want to put everything back on.”
“If everyone can keep re-dressing, how is this game going to end?” Jax wondered.
“You can only re-dress one time. And, the only one who doesn’t lose an article of clothing is the winner of each hand.”
“Although to make it even more interesting and charitable”—Poppy came to stand next to Cal, loaded bag of cellphones in hand—“if you win the hand, you have the opportunity to add five dollars to the pot and handpick one person to take off a layer for the team.”
“Or a group of people,” says Cal. “For instance, if Poppy wins and she just wants the guys to take off a layer, she can pay for the pleasure.”
Poppy snickered. “You all get the idea, right?”
“We do,” Pinks said. “Clearly a poker-for-charity event. Nothing to see here.”
Jax kept his eye on Cal wondering what the guy was really up to. The vibe was like any other gathering. Nothing overtly sexy. Just a bunch of friends having drinks and snacks. And now they were raising money for Henderson Helping Henderson. The whole thing seemed a little too innocent. Until Laidey pulled Jax
off to the side and whispered, “They are doing this for Jinx. In a way that will give her a thrill but not upset her overly protected sensibilities.”
“I don’t understand.” He truly didn’t.
“Jinx thinks she wants to play strip poker, but none of us believe she is actually going to want to go through with it.”
Hmm. Jax wasn’t so sure. He wasn’t sure about any of it. Especially the fact that it was now clear to him that Jinx was the reason tonight was even happening. How had he missed this side of her? Or was it strictly about Cal Johnson and her hope to see the man naked.
He wasn’t sure about any of this. But one glance in his girl’s direction and there was no denying the ear-to-ear grin on her face as she approached Brooks and Lolly. She wasn’t showing any signs of worry or discomfort. Of course the game hadn’t started yet.
Let’s just see what happened when push came to shove