The story continues from part 1 of “Poker with the guys.”
Thirty minutes later, Didrik pulled into the driveway of a nondescript ranch house at the end of a dead-end suburban street, exactly the type of place he imagined someone like Steve living. The guys’ firm handshakes and offers of whiskey and cigars put Didrik at ease, and after playing a few hands, he felt less like their interloping boss and more like one of their peers.
“Hey, do we have any more chips?” Doug called from the kitchen during a snack break.
“Don’t ask me,” Bill said. “Jim was supposed to do this shopping this week.”
“No way, man,” Jim said, returning from the garage with a fresh bottle of whiskey and a bag of ice. “I mowed the lawn this week. It was Steve’s turn to go shopping.”
Didrik was confused and intrigued by the conversation. “Wait a minute,” he said. “You all… live together?”
“That’s right, son,” Lou said. “Splitting expenses five ways? Can’t beat it.”
“’Course, if you wanted to pay us more,” Bill joked.
“Hey,” Jim said, interrupting. “We agreed not to discuss work stuff in front of the kid.”
The guys all mumbled their agreement and returned to the table with more snacks and drinks. Didrik didn’t know how to reconcile all this new information with everything he thought he knew about the guys. All this time, he’d been managing a team of five older gay men who lived together. No wonder they were such tight-knit coworkers, but was there more to it? Were they a… couple?
“You all right, son?” Jim said. “You look kind of pale.”
“I’m fine,” Didrik said. “But could I use your bathroom?”
“Sure,” Jim said, pointing down a hallway. “Last door on your right.”
In the bathroom, Didrik splashed some cold water onto his face and wondered how quickly he could make an exit without raising an alarm or making things weird at work on Monday. This was a mistake, he thought. I should have just stayed home.
“Hey, Deed!” Steve shouted from the dining table. “We dealing you in on this next hand?”
“Yeah, be right out,” Didrik replied weakly and stepped out into the hall. On his way back to the game, he peered through the open doorways to the bedrooms. The first looked like an ordinary master suite, with a king-size bed, matching dresser and bedside tables, and a flatscreen TV mounted on the wall. The second bedroom, however, left Didrik bewildered. It was spartan, almost barracks like, with two sets of bunk beds arranged in an L shape and a small writing desk and chair. He stepped into the dark room and looked around, noticing the large padlock on the closet door before a gruff voice made him jump with a start.
“Snooping around your employees’ house, son?”
Didrik turned around. Steve stood in the doorway, his big bulky frame blocking the light from the hallway and casting a shadow on Didrik.
“No, sorry, I was just—” Didrik sputtered, unsure of how to finish the sentence.
Steve laughed and threw an arm around Didrik’s shoulder. “Come back to the table. We’re not done playing.”
Steve shepherded Didrik through the house, never releasing his tight grip on his shoulder. When they reached the table, Steve wouldn’t let Didrik sit back down until he told the guys what he’d been up to.
“Go ahead, son,” he said.
“I-I was looking in the bedrooms,” Didrik said, his face hot with embarrassment. Whatever shred of authority and respect he’d earned from his team was quickly going up in smoke. “I’m sorry—I shouldn’t have done that.”
The guys looked at Didrik, each one smiling the same cocky smile as in their profile photos. “I think you’ve been a very bad boy,” Bill said and picked up the deck of cards. “But we’re not the grudge-holding type if you make it up to us.”
Bill shuffled the deck and dealt out five cards in a row. He turned over the first card, the queen of diamonds. “You guess whether the next card is higher or lower than the one before it. If you get all of them right, we forget what just happened and get back to the poker game like gentlemen. If you fuck up, you have to make it up to us.”
Didrik looked at the burly men sitting around the table. His knees trembled from how quickly the power dynamic shifted. Gone were the affable, dad-like guys whose work he supervised and who invited him to play poker. In their place sat five confident, stern men, whose authority practically radiated off them. Didrik wanted to leave, but a growing part of him—centered on his stiffening cock—also wanted to find out what Bill meant by ‘make it up’ to them.
“Sounds fair,” Didrik said, looking at the cards. “The next card will be lower.”
Bill turned over the second card, revealing the four of clubs. “One down, three to go.”
“The next card will be higher.”
Bill smirked as he held up the next card, showing it to the rest of the guys before turning it over on the table. “Seven of spades. Choose carefully, son.”
Fuck, Didrik thought. The guys had been calling him “son” all night, but it struck him differently now. Before it felt friendly and congenial, even a bit tongue in cheek. Now, there was a coldness to the nickname, like it came from a disappointed father trying to coax out the truth from an evasive son. Why is this making me so hard?
Didrik hesitated. There were no odds working in his favor; it was a pure guess. “The next card will be lower.”
Bill flipped over the fourth card and Didrik let out a deep breath of relief. “Two of spades. Last one, son. Higher or lower.”
“That’s easy,” Didrik said. “The next card will be higher.”
The guys all looked at the single hidden hard left in the row, and Didrik studied their faces as Bill revealed it. He expected the tension to break and the atmosphere in the room to return to normal after he won their little challenge. Instead, their cocky smiles widened, and they looked up at Didrik like they’d just won him at an auction.
“Ace of spaces,” Bill said. “You lose.”
“Wait,” Didrik objected. “You didn’t say whether aces were high or low.”
“I’m saying it now, son,” Bill said. “Aces are low. You lose.”
Didrik felt a rush of pleasure and adrenaline as the guys got out of their seats and surrounded him. “Poker game’s over, son,” Jim said. “Time to pay us back for invading our privacy like that.”
“What do you want me to do?” Didrik said. The dominant energy coming off the guys prompted him to correct himself. “Um, what do you want me to do, Sirs?”
“You seemed pretty interested in what goes on in our bedroom,” Bill said. “I think we would be poor hosts if we didn’t give you the full tour.”
Didrik felt a pair of hands land on his shoulders and direct him toward the hall. As they approached the two bedroom doors, he felt fear give way to arousal, and he wondered what the guys had planned for him.
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