Upping the ante
Wilson is in so much trouble and I can see he knows it, from the shifty looks he is shooting me as Sherrileen (for pity's sake, what was her mother thinking?) rings up our purchases.
I watch out of the corner of my eye as Cameron skulks by the bakery counter, obviously waiting for us to leave so she doesn't have to talk to us any longer.
"She won't come," Wilson says, in what is clearly meant to be a reassuring tone.
"Oh, well, that's OK then," I reply, throwing my magazine onto the belt with more force than I intended. It lands awkwardly, pages splayed on top of one of the packets of chips, and Sherrileen gives me a dirty look.
Wilson smiles placatingly at her and starts to load our shopping into plastic bags.
"Of course, if you hadn't opened your big fat mouth in the first place, she definitely wouldn't be coming," I comment, as he gets his credit card out. The upside of this roommate thing is I haven't had to spring for groceries in a month.
While we drive back, in silence, I consider Cameron's tight pink shirt, khaki pants and pert ponytail. The grungy schoolgirl look is not one I've seen on her before, but she looked cute. Ugh, I can't believe I actually thought that. I turn the radio on to try to blast the thought away with classic rock.
Frank shows up first, bearing a six-pack of beer and with a nervous grin plastered across his face. He must owe Wilson a favor, as he sure doesn't look like he's forgotten that stunt I pulled last year with the balloon animal and the condom. Beats me why there was such a fuss; the kids thought it was funny.
Foreman and Chase arrive together shortly afterwards, and I note that Chase's lack of clothes sense extends to being off duty. In his ripped jeans and hoodie, he is probably bringing down property values just by standing on my doorstep. Whatever-his-name-is the researcher shows up a half hour later, and we're away. I close the front door firmly. Nope, definitely no way Cameron would chance this. I seriously doubt she knows how to play. And she can't want to lose more money to me...can she?
I have to admit that Wilson hasn't done a bad job getting this game together. Whatsit from research can hold his own (Jim! Wilson hisses, kicking me under the table, the third time I refer to the man as 'you'). Frank isn't bad either, although he's jumpy. I quickly figure out that whenever he's got anything better than a pair, he unconsciously touches his right eyebrow, and as a result, I don't have to spend too much time working out whether his hand's any good or not.
I've played with Wilson for years, and I know all his tells, from the way he crosses his legs when he's bluffing to his habit of nervously running his forefinger round the rim of his beer bottle when he's got a good hand. Trouble is, he knows mine too, and he's not above deliberately manufacturing a gesture or a tic just to get me to raise the stakes.
Chase is an adequate player but tends to get overexcited every time he's got good cards, over-bet and crash and burn. Foreman is the joker in the pack; he's cool, calm and collected and before an hour's gone by, I'm trailing him by more than a hundred bucks. I start to concentrate a lot harder. It wouldn't do to be beaten by one of my minions, after all; I'd never live it down.
I'm just wondering whether the flush I'm holding is good enough to call Foreman on the strength of it, when the doorbell goes. Wilson leaps to his feet; he's folded anyway. Soon, I hear voices in the entryway.
"I can deal you in," Wilson suggests, as he and Cameron walk into the room. Her eyes flick over the five of us sitting around my dining room table.
"No, that's OK," she replies, equably, "I'll just watch."
"I've got to go, take my place," says Frank, suddenly, getting to his feet and throwing his cards down on the table with a soft plop, "The wife'll be back from the movies by now. Thanks for the invite, James," he continues. Charming. No thank you to me, his host...anyone would think he's light a couple hundred dollars. Oh wait, he is.
Cameron sits down in his empty seat, and as she settles herself, I notice she's ditched the schoolgirl outfit for - oh yes - blue low rider jeans, which just reveal a narrow slice of skin between where they stop and the bottom of her close-fitting black V neck shirt. The shirt outlines and highlights her tits, and a silver necklace rests between them. Her hair's still up in a ponytail, like it was earlier, but she's got dark red lipstick on and possibly some eye makeup too.
Foreman and Chase both greet her enthusiastically. I say nothing, but she gives me a smile, and it's not an embarrassed grin, but something a little more challenging. Wilson fetches her a beer, and sits back down himself.
"We're playing two dollars a chip," I inform her, to see if I can make her wince. She doesn't, and no-one comments on the fact that I've just doubled the stakes we were originally playing for.
Cameron makes a big show of not knowing how to hold the cards, constantly asks for clarification of the rules, calls on Foreman and Chase for advice, places hesitant bets and giggles in a girlie fashion every time she wins. Foreman has that annoying gallant, big-brotherly look on his face; as does Wilson, I notice, and Research-guy can't stop looking at her chest.
And over the next hour, she takes me to the cleaners.
"You never told me you could play poker. Where the hell did you learn, prison?" I ask, grimly counting out the three hundred and change she's won off me. Foreman has lost quite a bit to her too, but he doesn't seem to mind at all. And research-guy-Jim just seems happy that he got off lighter than Frank.
"You never asked," she says, primly, "My grandad was a professional poker player. I think I've played since I was about five."
"Oh, you know, I do remember you mentioning that now," says Foreman, cheerily, shooting me a glance.
Chase is fiddling about with his cellphone.
"Eric, you still want to go to that party?" he asks Foreman, "Apparently it's still going strong." Foreman looks over at Cameron, "Allison, you want to join us? You're very welcome if you do." She shakes her head, and says, "I only just got here."
The minions are actually polite enough to thank me for having them, as they head off into the waiting taxi. Foreman looks doubtfully back at Cameron, and says, "Are you sure we can't drop you home?" Again, she refuses.
"I feel kind of bad about winning this much money from you," she tells me, when the front door's closed behind them. She picks at the label on her beer bottle. Wilson is pottering around collecting up empty chips packets and generally behaving like a housewife.
"I'm quite used to paying women to sleep with me," I tell her.
I hardly need Wilson's loud sigh to know I've gone too far this time. Cameron picks up her empty bottle and glass and stalks off in the direction of the kitchen, where she dumps both items in the sink with a loud clang.
I find her standing looking out of the window, her back tense. Even her ponytail looks defeated.
"Cameron," I say, feeling awkward. I do wonder sometimes where half the stuff that comes out of my mouth originates from. It's not unlike having a sarcasm-based form of Tourette's.
She turns around at the sound of my voice and I can see for a split second that I've really upset her, before her expression blanks over. My poker face is nothing on hers.
"Eric was right, I should go," she says, moving to walk past me, "I probably shouldn't have come in the first place."
I cut off her escape route with a swiftly placed cane and move in until she is trapped between me and the counter. It's like an itch, I reason with myself. If I scratch it, it'll stop bothering me. Right?
She starts with surprise as I lean in and kiss her. I can taste her lipstick, and as I slide my tongue into her mouth, the bitter flavor of the beer she's just finished. I run my left hand through her hair and grip the back of her head, trying to get a better angle. She still feels tense, but she's kissing me back now. It's not comfortable though; she's too short.
I hook my cane over the sink edge, brace my good leg against the counter, grab her by the hips and hoist her up onto the worktop. Ah, that works. She's on my eye level now and I have hold of her denim-clad ass in both hands, which feels good. She obviously thinks so too, because she wiggles closer and wraps her thighs around me. We kiss some more, and I've moved on to her neck, and am considering a recce of her breasts, when there's a creak behind us.
I don't need to turn around to know that Wilson's walked in, as Cameron's expression of embarrassment says it all. I exhale, and after an endless couple of seconds I hear his footsteps go smartly back into the other room, where the television suddenly blares into life.
I take a step back from her and say, "Come on, practical as these wipe-clean surfaces are, let's move this."
She slides off the counter and I take her hand. We pretend not to see Wilson - to all appearances he is completely engrossed in some French art house movie - and he puts on a quite successful show of not seeing us, as we go to my bedroom.
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Legal Disclaimer: The authors published here make no claims on the ownership of Dr. Gregory House and the other fictional residents of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Like the television show House (and quite possibly Dr. Wilson's pocket protector), they are the property of Fox Television, David Shore and undoubtedly other individuals of whom I am only peripherally aware. The fan fiction authors published here receive no monetary benefit from their work and intend no copyright infringement nor slight to the actual owners. We love the characters and we love the show, otherwise we wouldn't be here.