“So who is this guy and why is he coming?” Matt asked that night when Tricia told him about Kevin James’ upcoming visit. “Are we going to have your poker buddies traipsing through here all the time now?”
“Excuse me?” Tricia asked, feeling herself getting angry. “Considering that I spend a good bit of football season cooking and cleaning for you and your buddies I don’t see how it hurts if some of my friends drop by every now and then. I only asked you to be polite. If you don’t want to be bothered then we’ll just stay out of your way.”
“I didn’t mean it like that,” Matt said looking uncomfortable. “It’s not that I don’t want to be bothered. It’s just different is all. You’ve never done that kind of thing, had people come visit like that I mean.”
“Well maybe it’s time I did,” Tricia said. “I can’t see why it should be a problem. Kevin and Carolyn are nice people and were both very kind to me when I had hardly a clue what was going on. If they think enough of me to stop by and visit then I’m tickled pink. I’m sorry you don’t share my enthusiasm.”
“I’m sorry Tricia,” Matt said, sounding to Tricia like he might actually mean it and not be saying it to avoid a fight. “I’ll be glad to meet your friends.”
“Good because I was thinking of taking them out to dinner. I called mom and she and dad will come pick Matty up to spend that night with them sometime after I’ve gotten a chance to introduce Matty to Kevin and Carolyn.”
“You’ve really planned this out haven’t you?” Matt asked.
Tricia knew he was thinking this was not like her. Since she’d gotten back her tournament she’d found herself being much more proactive about some things. She thought that it had been good for her to have to function completely on her own. She was aware that Matt would be unlikely to share that feeling, much like Dutch didn’t like the idea of Mary Beth owning her own business. Why, she wondered, did too much independence on their wives parts seem to scare these guys? She shrugged mentally knowing that it was the way it was and she just had to play the game and try not to look like she was capable of too much independent thought.
“I mentioned it to mom and she suggested we might want to go out to dinner and have time for adult conversation and volunteered to take Matty for the night. She pointed out that he will start school in September and they won’t be able to do that as much.”
“Does that mean you’re not going to go to any tournaments while he’s in school? They’re only a couple miles away, in the same school district. I’m sure a bus could pick him up there if he stayed with them then.”
Tricia looked at Matt in surprise. “You’ve been thinking about it. I’m surprised. Does that mean you’re having second thoughts about me going to another one?”
Matt smiled a smile that told Tricia he thought she had totally missed the mark. “You should give me more credit. I have been thinking about it but have been thinking about how it can work even though Matty is starting school in September.”
“Okay. Well thank you,” Tricia said. “You know Matty could stay here and you could see him off to the bus before you go to work. It would not make you that late, if it made you late at all. He’s only going to be in Kindergarten. It’s going to be tough on him and I worry about it.”
“He’s going to be fine Tricia,” Matt said. “Ask him yourself, he’s looking forward to it.”
“I’d rather he got to stay here with you at least most of the time when I go play a tournament. I think he ought to be with one of us as much as possible. You can see what I’m saying can’t you?”
“You know I agree,” Matt told her. “Why do you thinkI wanted you to quit work and stay home with him when he was born?”
Tricia shrugged. “At first I thought that but lately I’ve been wondering. Talking to Mary Beth and listening to how Dutch is making a fuss because she wants to make her decorating business official and get a storefront and all. I guess I thought you might be feeling like him.”
“Dutch can be a putz at times Tricia. Trust me I am not too proud to have my wife make part of our income. Hell I’m all for you winning some big tournament and making more than I do if that’s what happens. I’ve told Dutch he’s an idiot for not letting Mary Beth do her thing. She’s good at it and I agree Dutch’s attitude ticks her off. I got an earful while she was decorating the sunroom.”
Tricia chuckled. “I guess you did. Do you think she was trying to sound you out to find out how you felt about me playing that tournament?”
“I know she was,” Matt grinned. “You gals look out for one another. You should try telling Dutch he needs to realize that this ain’t the old days and his ‘keep ‘em barefoot and pregnant’ attitude isn’t going to fly.”
“Like I’m going to try to tell Dutch anything,” Tricia snorted. They’d never really gotten along well and Matt knew it. Matt didn’t even always like Dutch that much although he tolerated him because of mutual friends.
“I know you aren’t. We both know he wouldn’t listen to you anyway. A bunch of us are supposed to go to the lake fishing in a couple weeks. Maybe I’ll try then.”
“Good luck,” Tricia said. “You were planning to tell me about that weren’t you by the way?”
“I just did,” Matt said. “I don’t know exactly which weekend yet. I swear it’s getting hard as hell to get people to commit to a date. Used to be you asked guys to go spend a week at the lake hunting or fishing they just said sure thing. Now everybody has so much going on it’s hard to set a date. Feels like working for some corporation, like that Dilbert Cartoon thing. Takes a lot of the fun out of it.”
“Aww you poor thing,” Tricia teased. “Why don’t you just stay home and spend a nice weekend with me then? Or we could go to one of the casinos.”
Matt seemed to miss her point all together. “We will get a date set. Its not that big a deal.”
“And will we get a weekend together sometime?” Tricia said. “It’s been a while since we had time alone.”
“We had that night when you came home from the tournament.”
“That was weeks ago Matt.”
“Was it that long?”
“It was,” Tricia said with a sigh. “You used to always want to get time together. You wanted more than I did. Do you know how long it’s been since you took me to a hotel for a romantic weekend? I swear if I didn’t know better I’d think you were getting your sex and romance somewhere else.”
Tricia held her breath having said that. She’d been thinking it but knew it was likely to set him off and had not really meant to say it, it had just popped out.
He surprised her by laughing. “You know better than that though. After what you did back a while you don’t think I’m going to do it do you? I’ve just been having lots of work. Being successful is good isn’t it?”
“I’m thrilled that your business is going so well Matt,” Tricia said. “But if you can’t take the time to enjoy it then what good is it? You’ve got people working for you now. You’re not having to do all the jobs yourself. Surely you could take a weekend here and there for us to do something as a family or for you and I do have a romantic getaway. Or are you not interested in me that way any more?”
“Awww honey of course I am,” Matt said.
“Well if you proved it every now and then it would be nice,” Tricia said, biting her tongue before she pointed out that is what had caused her to dally with Jaime in the first place eight years before.
Matt came over to her and kissed her, then he ran his hand down inside her blouse cupping her breast. She felt herself grow instantly aroused.
“After Matty is asleep how about if I show you how interested I am.” Matt said, nibbling on her neck in just the right way to drive her crazy.
Tricia rolled her eyes, glad he could not see because she didn’t want to spoil the mood. “Matty has been asleep for half an hour sweetie.”
“Well then why are your clothes still on?” Matt said, fumbling with the buttons on her blouse.
Tricia giggled and squirmed, wishing it was safe to do it right there in the family room but there was a chance that Matty would wake up. “Not to be a party pooper baby but we better go in the bedroom. I’ll make it worth your while.”
She knew his eyes were following her as she began to strip walking slowly out of the room and into their bedroom. When she heard the door close she knew it wasn’t only his eyes that had followed her.
Mary Beth came by the next morning to drop off something for the sunroom that she and Tricia had talked about.
“You seem to be in an exceptionally good mood this morning.” Mary Beth said after she and Tricia had been talking a few minutes.
“Lets just say that Matt and I had a very good night last night,” Tricia said, slightly embarrassed.
“Ahh ok,” Mary Beth said.
Something about the way she said it made Tricia look at her harder. It hadn’t sounded quite right.
“Is something wrong Mary Beth?”
“Of course not what could be wrong?” Mary Beth said sounding so cheerful it definitely came out sounding fake.
“Are you and Dutch still having problems? Is he still trying to get you to not do the decorating business as a full fledged business.”
“Oh hell yes. He’s not going to change on that one I don’t think. I’m about to the point of just doing it. Screw him. If it embarrasses him to have his wife with her own business then he can just leave me.”
“Mary Beth! You don’t mean that. Besides he wouldn’t would he?”
“He threatened to.”
Mary Beth laughed. “Tell me about it. He swore if I disobeyed him and rented that shop on Conner Avenue I’ve been looking at then he’ll leave.”
“And all this because he thinks it reflects poorly on him if you are making money too?”
“So he says.”
“It’s hard to believe that he can’t see how stupid he’d look, hell how stupid he looks right now to anybody that knows about this.”
“Oh he knows he looks stupid. It’s apparently all my fault. If I knew my place then everything would be ok. He says he makes plenty togive us anything we want. I can’t get across to him that I don’t need THINGS. I want a life.”
“I’m sorry,” Tricia said. “What are you going to do.”
“I don’t know,” Mary Beth said looking miserable. “The thing is I think he’s actually stupid enough to do it. I really do love him and like being married to him. Most of the time anyway. Right now I may love him but damn I hate his guts.”
Tricia just nodded, not sure what to say.
Mary Beth wiped a hand across her eyes. “So girl what’s new with you? Tell me something fun and exciting. Make it up if you have to.”
Tricia chuckled. “I don’t even have to make anything up. Kevin James called and he and Carolyn Snow as going to be in town and wanted to come by and visit.”
“That’s the sexy younger guy from the poker game?”
Tricia smiled. “Well I guess you might think he was sexy. He is younger. He’s the guy I told you kind of took me under his wing and helped me out.”
“And now he’s coming to visit you. Is this Carolyn person his girlfriend? That’s a bummer. Maybe you could have snuck away for some fun.”
“Ok then maybe I could have snuck away with him for some fun.”
Tricia shook her head. “You wouldn’t, besides he’s way younger than you.”
“Hell maybe that would be good. Bet he has great stamina.”
“I wouldn’t know,” Tricia said deciding to get off this subject before she found out if Mary Beth was kidding or not. Tricia suspected she was just really pissed at Dutch.
“He and Carolyn are not an item. They have some kind of professional relationship is all. I have no idea why they are coming to visit. Maybe they are just being friendly. He did mention he had other business in town to take care of first. I want him and Carolyn to meet Matty. Then Mom is going to pick Matty up and I am hoping we can all go out to dinner. Would you and Dutch like to go too?”
“Why in the hell would you want to ruin a good evening by inviting him.”
Mary Beth shrugged. “But you don’t even like him. Hell maybe I even understand why now.”
“I don’t dislike Dutch. We just seem to be oil and vinegar is all.”
“Still, why would you want us along.”
“You’re one of my best friends. Why wouldn’t I want you along?” Tricia asked. She was surprised when Mary Beth’s eyes filled with tears and she started to cry.
Tricia moved over to sit beside Mary Beth and put an arm around her. “Don’t cry. What did I say?”
Mary Beth just shook her head. Finally when she composed herself a little she said. “It’s not anything you said dear. It’s me. It’s all me right now. Are you sure you want me and Dutch to go? I’ll see if he had plans although I can’t imagine he does.”
“I really do.”
“Ok well I’ll get back to you. You’re talking tonight?”
“I should run. I have an appointment in a bit and now I need to redo my makeup. Shit. I’m looking forwardto meeting your new friends and hearing their take on your behavior at that tournament thing.”
Tricia chuckled thinking that Mary Beth was back to sounding like her old self. Tricia was still worried about her friend as she watched her get in her car and drive down the driveway.