01 – The Shuffle

How You Play the Game

Gil Grissom may have long been a consummate card player, but one evening during their honeymoon, Sara succeeds in teaching her new husband something he didn’t know about poker.

Part of the Marriage of True Minds sequence. Follows Lost and Found and takes place during Grissom and Sara’s honeymoon, circa late winter/early spring 2009.

*******

“The poker player learns that sometimes both science and common sense are wrong; that the bumblebee can fly; that, perhaps, one should never trust an expert; that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of by those with an academic bent,”Things I Have Learned Playing Poker on the Hill,” Writing in Restaurants, David Mamet

*******

The Shuffle

“The commonest mistake in history is underestimating your opponent; it happens at the poker table all the time,” General David M. Shoup

*******

“Solitaire?” Grissom asked, motioning to the deck of playing cards in his wife’s hands, surprised and a tad disappointed if truth be told, as he wasn’t all that keen that evening on settling into solitary pursuits.

Sara simply shook her head. Solitaire was certainly not what she had in mind.

Nor was following Hank’s lead and heading straight to sleep. The three of them having just returned from what had quickly become their customary moonlit stroll along the shore, the boxer had happily made a beeline for the bed, content to nap the rest of the night away, but as it was just shy of eight, neither Grissom nor Sara were anxious to do the same.

Sara had just finished lighting the last of the lanterns, preferring their soft glow to the harsh glare of the cabin’s naked bulbs, when from out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of her husband stripping off the light jacket he’d donned to ward off the chill. And it clicked, something different they could do, some other way in which they might wile away the hours until sleep.

Not that she hadn’t enjoyed their lazy, languid sort of evenings as of late. They’d spent several pleasantly engaged in making their way through the copy of Moby Dick Sara had given Grissom as a wedding present. While not perhaps the most romantic of books, it proved diverting all the same.

And this being after all, not only their first holiday together, but also their honeymoon, they’d of course also been busy occupied in far, far less intellectual pursuits. Except Sara wasn’t quite ready to succumb to that omnipresent hum of desire, at least not just yet. Some things just weren’t meant to be rushed.

Which was why she had gone to unearth the rather worn pack of cards she’d spotted during her earlier perusals of the sparsely populated bookshelves.

“I thought,” she began with a grin that only made her husband more curious rather than less, “I might be able to tempt you to a game.”

“Poker?”

“You play anything else?”

Instead of replying, he elected to pose a question of his own. “Since when are you into poker?”

His incredulity was, Grissom thought, well warranted as Sara usually refrained from ever playing cards with him, maintaining as she did, it was bad enough to be continuously bested at chess. But when he reminded her of this fact, her grin only grew and she repeated what had become a sort of mantra over the last several days of their vacation cum honeymoon:

“There’s a first time for everything, Gilbert.”

As he couldn’t quite refute or dispute this, he opted for continuing in staring dumbfounded at her until Sara added, with more than a hint of challenge in her voice, “If you’re game.”

To which he gave her an Okay so hesitant it had three syllables instead of its usual two.

“But,” she said as he accepted the proffered deck, “I thought we might raise the stakes.”

In camp, they usually played with matchsticks, which Grissom had to admit took some of the fun out of the game.

“You want to play for money?”

“No,” was all she replied.

“Then?” he asked, genuinely befuddled, something Gil Grissom wasn’t very often.

Heartily amused, Sara chuckled, “Don’t tell me in all those years, you’ve never once played strip poker? The game’s as old and venerable as the original, after all.”

While this was in fact true, Grissom gave her a look that plainly said, You have to be kidding.

And he literally shuddered at the possibility, particularly when he recalled precisely whom he regularly played with back in the day. There were just some people you didn’t want to see naked. Ever.

“Then,” she smiled a mischievous sort of smile, “definitely a first time for everything.”

Grissom wasn’t sure he exactly trusted that grin.

Then as if the thought had just occurred to him, which it had, he asked, “You?”

“Ever play strip poker?” she finished. Sara shrugged; neither yes, neither no.

“Well, you did go to Berkley,” he rejoined as if that explained away any number of his wife’s more radical notions and practices. “But aren’t we a little…”

“A little what?”

Old for strip poker?”

“Speak for yourself,” Sara harrumphed and Grissom promptly and wisely switched tacks.

“This mean,” he said, starting to idly shuffle, “you’re not afraid I might, what was it you warned Luis and Bernie at Christmas, take the shirt off your back?”

“Nope. But perhaps you should be.”

With an arch of the eyebrow, he warned, “You might want to save your bluff for the game, dear.”

“This mean you’re in?”

Why not? he thought. Even if this wasn’t at all what he’d had in mind when he’d told Catherine it was time to up the ante, what were vacations for but for trying new things, vacating your everyday life if only for a little while? Besides, it wasn’t as if they’d didn’t regularly see each other in various stages of undress. And Grissom wasn’t, at least by his own reckoning, a particularly shy or vain sort of guy.

Poised to deal, he asked, “Game?”

“Dealer’s choice.”

“Five card draw.”

“Wilds?”

“Oh, I think this is wild enough.”

Continued in The Discard


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