Rating: PG 13
Synopsis: Lee gets hustled by an unexpected party! Can his pride be salvaged, or would he rather be defeated?
“Lee, I can’t believe you bought this thing. Where on earth are we supposed to put it?” Amanda Stetson gesticulated wildly at the large object currently occupying her carport.
“I know, I know, but you should have seen the boys faces. They just had to have it, and well, it’ll be fun teaching them how to play. Even Jamie seems interested in learning. I think he sees it as a sort of challenge.” The tall, handsome man in front of the large object grinned winningly at his wife and patted the green felt top with an affectionate hand. “You might even enjoy it as well.”
“A pool table? Lee, it’s a pool table! Where are we going to keep it?” Her uniquely logical mind searched for a spot to store the bulky toy.
Her husband held up one placating hand. “Now, I’ve been thinking about that. You know how you’ve been after us to clean up the attic? Well, how about if we clean out one side and make a sort of a game room? Have the pool table, maybe a dart board?”
“Well, that would be the only place to put it. And it would be out of the way. And it would be a nice place for the boys to entertain themselves this winter. I guess it can stay. Oh and Phillip and Jamie, you can come out from behind the car now. I know you’re waiting on your stepfather to charm me into allowing this in the house!”
Both boys popped up from behind the hood of Lee’s corvette and cheered, “Yah Lee!”
To each other they whispered, “We have so got it made with Lee in our corner.”
“Yeah, as long as he doesn’t lose his looks!” Phillip said this last quite softly, but Lee had very good ears.
“All right smart guys, that’s enough. Both of you upstairs and start clearing out a place for this thing.” Their stepfather pointed to the boys and then to the attic as he spoke. They grumbled for brief moments, but after running their hands over the wooden bumpers of the table, ran full out to the attic to begin their new chore.
Lee looked at his wife who was ruefully gazing in turns her retreating youngsters and then at their stepfather. He walked up to her and encircled her waist with his arms. He nuzzled her hair then softly kissed her forehead. “Thank you. I can’t wait to start teaching them.”
“Yeah, well, we’ll see. Remember when we tried to teach them how to play Rook?” She poked her finger in his chest to emphasize her point. That particular effort had not gone well, as neither boy would remember which suit was ‘trumps’ from hand to hand. “Well, this time, they’re all yours! Teach away!”
Two nights later, Lee and the two bys stood in the attic door and beheld their creation. The pool table stood in the center of the cleared space. On the wall to the right was the new electronic dartboard Amanda had donated to the christening of the Stetson’ game room. A card table stood nearby, with a shelf above holding board games, cards, and paper and pen for keeping score. To the left of the table hung a chalkboard complete with colored chalk and eraser for tournament charting. Dotty had unearthed that particular contribution at the last garage sale she had attended with her new beau, Robert.
A newly installed drop down light, declaring this to be the “Hot Spot” over the table illuminated the playing surface. The trio had just finished hanging the posters and prints of various musical talents, which were to give ‘ambience’ to the area, according to Jamie, when Amanda climbed the stairs to the attic and poked her head around the door.
“Hi, guys! All done?” Her tone was cheerful as she looked at her thoroughly self-satisfied men.
“Yep, we were just gettin’ ready to play a game of cut throat!” Phillip’s gruesomely, gleeful declaration was seconded by his brother.
They broke for the end of the table to load the balls when their Amanda’s ‘mother’ voice interrupted them. “Freeze, busters. This is Sunday night. I let you three work on this all weekend, but now you have to do homework and get ready for school tomorrow.”
A double “Aw Mom!” was groaned, then quickly they appealed to their secret weapon, Lee. “Lee, please can we play just one round?”
Scarecrow, even though he knew how susceptible his wife was to his ‘charms’, saw that she was serious and quickly backed her up. “No way, fella’s. You’re not dragging me into this one. Besides, she’s right. We’ve played all weekend, now you have to get ready for school.” He ushered them out of the attic then turned for one last look at the new play area.
Amanda, seeing his lack of enthusiasm for his own Agency homework, gave in and asked, “So you wanna play a round?”
“Now? But you told the boys…” Lee sputtered as she laughed at him.
“Lee, we’re the adults, remember? We can play just this one game. Our bedtime is later than theirs.” Her playful banter was catching and soon they were picking out cue sticks and racking the balls.
“Have you ever played before, Manda?” Lee curiously watched as she rather awkwardly positioned herself behind the cue ball to break the balls.
“Oh once or twice, a long time ago. Joe and I used to play some while we were dating.” She aimed the cue ball at the triangle of colored balls and gamely, if not skillfully, hit it with her stick. The white ball rolled over the green and glanced off the center, barely disturbing the arrangement.
“Well, I’ll take it easy on you. I don’t want to discourage you this first time.” Lee chose his spot, aimed at the orange five-ball and shot hard. The ball shot into the corner pocket and sank with a resounding thud. Not having another clear shot, he used his next turn to shoot into the still clustered balls and scattered them quite evenly over the table.
Amanda studied the table thoughtfully then stretched her body over the side and attempted to put the brown-striped one into the far side pocket. From behind her, Lee, who was enjoying his view as much as the game, began to devise a little plan to make this game more worthwhile.
“Say, Amanda, just to make this more interesting, how about a little wager?”
She turned from her missed shot and warily answered, “I don’t know, Lee. I’m pretty rusty. I’m not very much of a challenge for you.”
He arched and eyebrow and grinned, “I don’t know. The last time you handled a pool ball, your aim was pretty good.” They smiled together as they remembered the case with Emily Farnsworth and her impersonation of a KGB agent. Strangely enough they had ended up fighting it out with the bad guys in a pool hall and she had distracted one of them with a well-placed ball in the back.
She shook her head at her husband and stated, “Well, if I can throw them, sure, why not!!?”
They chuckled for a moment then finally decided on a wager for the little competition. For each ball they sank, the other player would remove one article of clothing. They locked the attic door and began to play.
Right away, Amanda had to shed her shoes and her sweatshirt. Lee remained fully clothed but soon baubled the cue ball and lost his shirt for the scratch. His next two turns earned him the sight of Amanda clad only in her jeans and white lace bra.
A bit distracted by the sight, he missed seeing her smirk as she lined up her shot and sank the ball in the far corner pocket in a fancy combination shot. He roused slightly at the sound of the ball rolling down the track and realized what she’d done. “Amanda, how did you do that?”
“Oh, I don’t know, just luck I guess!” She shrugged her shoulders innocently and pointed to indicate he should get rid of his next article of clothing.
Lee shrugged, rather nonchalantly, in return and removed his socks with a flourish. He lined up his stick with the cue ball and took his turn. He missed his target, but lost no more clothing at this point. He waved his arm to indicate her turn then resumed his position, leaning against the wall, but this time he watched much closer as she executed another slick maneuver and put her last ball in the pocket. He glared at her, but refused to be flustered by her sudden improvement. He unsnapped his jeans, lowered the zipper and stepped out of the denim.
She nodded her approval and called the left corner pocket to put the eight ball in. She wiggled her hips just a bit, because she knew he was looking, lined up the balls and, ‘clack’ went the stick on ball and the black eight found it’s home rather easily. She smiled smugly, ran her fingers over his chest and purred, “Well, that’s the game. I sure got lucky, huh? You owe me one more piece of clothing I believe.” She inserted her fingers into the waistband of his cotton boxers and popped the elastic.
“Yeah, lucky. I’d say. Amanda,” Lee grabbed her and pulled her lace covered chest against his bare one, “You hustled me!”
She batted big, brown innocent eyes at him and said in an exaggerated Southern drawl, “Hustled? Little ole me? Would I do that?”
“You! Com’mere you.” He kissed her hard and soon they were both laughing as they shivered in the cool attic air.