As always, thank you to everyone who's favoriting, rating, and commenting on the stories. It's nice to know they're being enjoyed. Nothing tricky or different with this one, but I imagine a few people have been waiting for it.
Chip Key: Nickname: value, favor, color
Clouds: 1, Touching, White
Canaries: 2, Kissing, Yellow
Lipstick: 5, Oral, Red
Skies: 10, Sex, Blue
Grass: 25, Anal, Green
Doubles/Oranges: 50, Double, Orange
Fucked: 100, Forefit, Black
The next weekend at the spa was mostly uneventful for Vicky, in the sense that nothing really pushed her limits. Vincent was absent on Friday night, which gave her the courage to sit in on the all-comers game rather than buying out. She played a bit more aggressively in an effort to recoup some of her own chips with card play rather than bedroom play and she won back at least 30 chips she knew had been floating around for various reasons. More of her chips came back to her when Evan cashed in another lipstick favor with her. Apparently her blowjob the previous week had left an impression on more than just the solarium upholstery, and she didn't mind giving a repeat performance. Assuming her math was right, by the end of the weekend there were only forty or so of her chips unaccounted for and she had a very good idea where they were. Unfortunately she had no good ideas at all about how to handle that reality. Some days when she thought about it she vowed to suck it up and pay the triple penalty for not agreeing to a favor, other days she thought it would be a good idea to "accidentally" leave enough chips behind in the Solarium to bring Vincent's total up to 100. Her "internal meetings" about Vincent kept producing a lot of follow-up tasks and no conclusions.
However, she'd pushed that particular dilemma out of her head for the upcoming weekend in favor of another one. At the Saturday morning game the previous weekend, Noelle had commented that, but for a bad hand Friday night, she would have had Vicky between her legs instead, and she'd noticed both Amy and Lucy giving her speculative glances during games. She was doing a good job promoting her reputation as a skilled lover, at least orally, but she hadn't explicitly decided on accepting favors only from guys. Because of her status as her friend and a pseudo-neutral observer in the whole thing, Vicky decided to talk to Cyn about it.
"Look, like we've been saying from the beginning, there's always an out. If Robin walks up to you and demands you eat her out, first of all come to me because I can probably talk her down, but second, even if I'm not around you have options."
"Paying triple isn't a great option," Vicky countered.
Cyn rolled her eyes, "I've seen you at the table. You aren't cleaning up but you're playing smart; you could easily give someone enough chips from Amy or Lucy as a substitute. Lord knows they're practically handing out their chips as party favors."
"Doesn't that mess things up for everyone else, if they're just throwing their money away?" Vicky asked.
"They can't actually do that," Cyn clarified, "As much as people are here for sex, they want to play poker too, and it's no fun if you know you're going to win. Apparently Amy did start dumping her chips at one point and she was spoken to, and I'm sure Noelle warned Lucy. If they make it obvious that they're just throwing their chips away, I step in and start dictating what hands they can bet in based on what they're dealt. So they do have to follow the spirit of the game, but they aren't required to play well.
"So neither of them are likely to have the chips to come after me, but there's still Noelle, and if Robin is interested I feel like getting you to step in is crossing a line," Vicky sighed.
"Look, Vicky, you made enough of an impression on Evan and Noelle that there's buzz. A lot of people were gunning for you last Friday night and you held your own. I understand why you don't usually play in that game, but that sit-out fee is murder and I can't in fairness hold your chips back; my job is to make sure there's action at the table for everyone, and throwing your chips in the ante is like tossing bloody meat into shark-infested waters right now. If you really don't want to be with any of the girls you need to spread that around. Though honestly the fact that you've been with Noelle twice, and one of those times you cashed in with her...there could be some backlash."
"It's not just that," Vicky admitted, "My preferences aside there's a lot of...tactical advantages I guess you'd say to accepting favors from women here. Most of the really good players are women at the moment so being able to get my chips back from them some other way than outplaying them is a good thing. Also I've seen how the girls react to Zach; they know he's not going to cash their chips in so they don't really take him as seriously when he's in games. Plus if a lot of people actually want to win my chips it means their emotions might get them to stay in an otherwise risky hand, and that means it's more likely my chips will be spread out to a bunch of people, so less chance of a huge favor coming out of the blue."
"Or the green, more likely. Are you really that set against being with a girl?" Cyn asked, "Because I based on what Noelle's been saying you hide it really well."
"Well," Vicky said, blushing slightly, "That was different. I was just getting her off, I was able to...I don't know, compartmentalize. It wasn't Noelle, it was a pussy, and I guess I just imagined it was mine? I can't really explain it, but the point is I don't know if I could do it where I'm interacting with whoever the girl is, like kissing and talking and all that. I mean, I find some women visually attractive, but I haven't really been with any. Some women do kind of turn me on, but I feel like if I actually tried to interact with them for sex it would just be a mess."
"Well you've got two options then, I think," Cyn said, "First option: stop worrying about it and just accept the favors as they come, and form your opinion about girls as time goes on. If you're half as good with them as you apparently were with Noelle, you'll have your plate full of women looking for a favor soon enough. Or if you can't get over the worry, find one of those girls that maybe gets you a little wet on her own and see if you can get them to give you a real, full-blown experience that'll tell you once and for all how okay you are with it."
Vicky toyed with one of her own blue chips on the bartop for a moment after Cyn said that, then she stopped still as an idea formed in her head. She remained almost motionless for several minutes and she saw Cyn give her a worried look out of the corner of her eye.
Finally she looked up and asked slowly, "Is it against the rules to prearrange a deal to trade chips before anyone's asked for a favor?"
"Nope," Cyn replied immediately, "I did it...second weekend I was here, I think? You can't coordinate play at the table, but if it's just a matter of something like agreeing to pay another player for someone's chips if they win them at the table, that's fine. Did you figure out some chick to hook up with that fast?"
"Something like that," Vicky said.
Vicky let almost thirty minutes pass after the end of the Friday beginner game before she went looking for Vincent. She was sweating and nervous as her first day of school at the exclusive academy her father transferred her to after he sold his company.
You're talking to Vincent. You've done it for hours almost every weekend.
At night, in the dark, without looking at him. Shit.
Vicky saw Vincent sitting on his own with a mostly clean plate of food, a tablet propped on the table. She walked up and stood within his sight but didn't overtly try to get his attention
She half expected him to do the arrogantly dismissive thing where he talked to her without actually looking away from his tablet, but to his credit he immediately turned, stood, and faced her when he noticed her lingering, and folded his tablet down. "Miss Silva, can I do something for you?" he asked, gesturing to the seat across the table.
Vicky liked to think of herself as a modern forward-thinking woman but damned if the old-school courtly manners didn't send a flush through her. Her sex drive was skipping out on a lot of those internal meetings.
"Actually, can we go somewhere more private?" she asked, "I have a favor to request?"
Vincent's eyebrow raised in curiosity but he didn't smirk. "I'm pretty sure you don't have the currency," he said quietly.
Vicky's face felt like it was on fire and she had to break eye contact to regain her composure. "Not that kind of favor...exactly...I just..."
Vincent apparently took pity on her and gestured off to a hallway while collecting his tablet and settling a hand gently on her lower back. Vicky let herself be led down a corridor and briefly feared he was taking her to a bedroom but the room he ushered her into was more like a large empty closet. There was room enough for them to stand with space between them, the only odd thing about the room being the plush padding on the walls. She looked pointedly at the wall padding then at Vincent suspiciously.
Vincent shrugged. "Given what goes on here and how long it's been happening most of the rooms have been converted somehow. Miss Carmichael reliably informed me that if your partner lifts you up against the wall for leverage, the padding is much better than bare wall." Vicky was proud of herself when that explanation didn't re-ignite her blush. "So what can I do for you?" Vincent asked.
"I'm...I need to do something for myself if I'm going to continue here, and I don't want it to be public, but I still want to do it in the context of the spa."
"That's impressively vague," Vincent said.
Vicky sighed. She wasn't going to spell it out for him but she was sure he could figure it out, "I need to lose 100 of my chips at the table, and I need you to win them. Then I need you to trade them in with Cyn."
Vincent simply looked at her for a while, saying nothing. She guessed he was thinking over the implications of what she said, though she didn't think it actually took that long.
"Very well. Tonight's game, the second time you have the big blind, bet in. Fold after the turn," Vincent said.
"What if a lot of people are betting?" Vicky asked.
"Then I hope you have a good cushion of chips," Vincent said.
"What are you going to do if you win more than 100?" Vicky asked, now nervous.
"The same thing I've been doing," Vincent said.
Vicky now felt a spike of fear. She'd thought he held her chips, now he just confirmed it. "So why are you waiting?" she asked.
"I explained that to you before," Vincent said, "So I was waiting for some sort of conclusion to our discussions in the solarium."
"I wasn't planning on calling them off, I don't think," Vicky said. Her brain immediately started sending urgent inquiries out to her emotions to find out what the hell was going on in that department.
"So what do you think I should do with the chips I don't trade in?" Vincent asked, now with a slight smirk on his face.
"I think the rules of the spa give you a pretty clear outline for your options," Vicky replied. Emergency meeting requests were now going out from the brain to her emotions and libido. "But," she added, "I would like to...request that you give me this weekend? I want to leave Saturday night open just in case."
"Will you be in the solarium this evening then?" Vincent asked.
"As usual," she replied.
This time Vincent walked out, brushing by her without actually making contact. Vicky sat on the ground immediately after he left to let her heart rate calm down.
Her first night sitting at the Friday night game with Vincent present wasn't a significant event to anyone but her, but she was twice as nervous at this game as she'd been at the previous weekend's. She had a tacit agreement with the Irish card shark for one hand, but dozens would be played and he made no promises to go easy on her or otherwise avoid taking her chips. She also had a feeling, given how he approached the rules of the spa, that his success or her failure in the early parts of the game would have no bearing on her putting up the 100 chips at the right time. As he'd hinted in their discussion, any other chips he won from her were his to do with as he pleased; she imagined any sort of argument she made about him already winning enough chips from her to satisfy her request would fall on deaf ears.
Fortunately luck was with her at the start of the night. The draw for dealer landed her as the big blind to begin, meaning the least amount of hands would pass before she had to just sacrifice 100 of her chips to Vincent. On top of that, the called game for the night was Texas Hold'em and that particular hand she picked up a pair of kings to start. Vicky decided to go aggressive; she had about 200 worth of spare chips to bet with, but she had 11 hands to get through before she could follow through on the deal, not to mention the dozens of hands afterward, all of which could feature Vincent McCabe as an opponent.
She tripled the big blind and put 60 down on the table, which caused a bit of a stir; aggressive hadn't been her style so far. Most people backed off out of caution, she thought, so by the end she faced Noelle, Zach, Amy, and Lucy. The flop netted her another King so she risked dropping a full 100 chip bet. That scared Noelle off but the other three stayed with her. The turn put a pair of nines on the board, locking Vicky in with a full house. She dropped another 100 chips down, but apparently that was too much even for the carefree players and everyone folded out, securing a 600-plus cushion for her to play with right at the start. Her heart pounded as bad as bad as when she finished talking to Vincent as she raked in her chips.
She played cautiously in her turn as the small blind, but no one out-bid the big blind and her hand was garbage after the flop so she folded out without significant losses. She snagged a pair of nines to start off five hands later and stayed in while Ammad pushed the initial bet to see the flop up to 50, but she immediately felt like a sucker; the other people playing were Lucy, Ammad, Syl, Robin, and Vincent. Other than Lucy she was well outclassed in card-playing ability by her opponents, and she could tell Ammad was coming after her. The flop gave her a third nine but there were two diamonds out on the board as well, and she caught reactions from both Syl and Robin as they came into view. Vincent may as well have been a blacked-out window for all she could read from him. Syl opened the betting at 80 and everyone called, though Ammad did so hesitantly. Vicky pushed the chips in despite her uncertainty, then winced when the turn put another diamond on the field. She didn't really listen to the bets that went around before her, simply folding and wincing at the lost chips.
Finally the time came for her second round in the big blind seat. She relaxed a bit as she pulled up a five and a seven. Both were spades, but on the face of it the hand wasn't worth it. She wouldn't have worried about that except that Syl, Noelle, Ammad, Evan, Zach and Amy all bought into the hand along with Vincent. The flop came down four, four, eight, none of them matching suits, and that seemed to curb most people's enthusiasm; four checks came out before Vincent pushed 50 out onto the table. Zach and Evan folded out and then Vicky called like she was supposed to, but Ammad, Noelle, Syl, and Amy all stayed in. At a quick check both Noelle and Ammad seemed to be focused on her, but Syl had most of her focus on Vincent, and that made Vicky nervous; Syl could outplay Vincent straight up on occasion, and her confidence seemed high.
The turn dropped and Vicky's heart nearly stopped. It was a six of diamonds, which did nothing for the suited sets but completed her inside straight, and she hadn't even noticed. Everyone checked their bets until it got to Syl and she put in 40. Vincent raised to 50 and Vicky called just as she was supposed to. The confirmation of a good hand was apparently too much for Ammad and Noelle, both of whom folded with mildly disgusted expressions. When it got to Syl, she re-raised to 80. Vincent paused for a moment, then called.
Vicky froze. Objectively, it would be even better for her "cover" if she folded now instead of waiting for next hand. It would look like she started confident but Syl's betting scared her, much more plausible than the river card somehow foiling whatever good hand other people thought she had. But now she wasn't sure Vincent's hand could stand up to Syl. Syl hadn't been paying attention to Vicky; it was possible she could blindside her with the straight, but even there it was a risk; the pair on the board put full houses into play and those beat her straight. She tried to look at Vincent for some sort of sign, but he was unreadable as always. More eyes started turning to her because of her delay and she finally just folded out, her stomach seeming to drop with her cards.
The river was a Jack of spades, pairing up with one of the fours but otherwise not obviously improving the spread of cards on the table. Syl, now in the position of betting first, bet 80 again. Vincent paused again, for slightly longer. Vicky saw a very slight twitch of Syl's lip, and almost exactly when it happened Vincent raised the bet to 150. That was the table maximum for this game; Syl could only call or fold. That began a staredown between the tiny blonde and the imposing Irishman. Vicky was confused initially; if Syl had a full house with the queen, even if Vincent had a pair of Jacks in his hand she'd still be ahead. She should have called immediately. Then Vicky's fledgling poker knowledge bubbled up and she remembered the two fours. Syl worried Vincent had the other two, and his bet certainly suggested that. After a minute or so where Vicky was probably more tense than the people actually still gambling chips, Syl finally folded.
"I'll get them back from you eventually," Syl said.
"One way or another," Vincent agreed with a slight smile.
Vicky physically shuddered in relief as he pulled over the chips, and spent the rest of the game meekly playing based on her old pattern of small bets and sure hands, having had her fill of excitement for one night.
Cyn sagged against the bar a bit. Four inch heels had been a mistake, again, but they still made her taller than everyone except Vincent, and she absolutely towered over them at the table.
I won't be taller than anyone if I'm collapsed on the ground because my feet went numb, she thought.
The noise in the card room had abated by the time Ammad finished consolidating the chips he'd won from Amy, and Cyn slipped out of her heels just as he turned to go up the stairs. She started to clean up and prep for the morning, then cursed as Vincent walked up to the bar.
"Dammit Vincent, stop lurking," she said.
"I maintain I don't do it on purpose," Vincent said.
Cyn sighed and almost relaxed until she saw the stack of chips he laid on the bartop. It was a stack of blue chips with Vicky's name on them.
"And what's your plan for those?"
"The first part is to request four green chips in compensation," Vincent said.
"You don't do half measures do you?" Cyn said through slightly clenched teeth as she put the green chips on the bar.
"Before you summon up your righteous fury," Vincent said, "I should mention she asked me to make this exchange. Saying anymore would, I believe, go beyond the spirit of our rules. But keep it in mind for Sunday morning."