Waiting for Kevin and Caroline to come to the house Tricia was unaccountably nervous. She’s not gotten any more information about why they were visiting out of Kevin beyond “why can’t friends visit friends? We ARE friends aren’t we?” She couldn’t argue with that but even not knowing him even better than she did she knew there was something more. She began to have fears that one of them would let something slip about Jaime even though she’d told Kevin not to bring up that subject and he’d not even teased her when he promised they wouldn’t.
She heard a car winding it’s way along the driveway. Glancing over Tricia saw Matty focused on a building project in one corner of the sun porch. She let him be and went to the front door. Opening it she saw her parents car pull up to the front of the house. She momentarily felt disappointed and then smiled and went to greet them.
“So where is this mysterious friend you wanted us to meet? I thought he was supposed to be here by now?” Her dad said as he got out of the car and let her hug him.
Tricia had not told her parents who it was just that it was friends she’d met at the tournament. She knew her dad followed some poker on TV even if he didn’t view Texas Hold’em as “real” poker. He still maintained that seven card stud was real poker. She thought he might know who Kevin and maybe Caroline were and wanted to see his reaction. Besides if he didn’t know who they were then the names would not have meant anything anyway. She also knew she’d done it the way she did because it would bug him. He liked to have all the information she had right up front. He’d always been like that and growing up it had irritated her and been partly at the root of why her brother had left home when he did.
“They called a bit ago and said they got hung up ina meeting and then got hung up in traffic. They should be here any time.” Tricia told him.
Tricia’s mom hugged her as they walked to the house. “Wasn’t Matt going to be here too?” She asked.
Tricia rolled her eyes and replied, “He called too. He said he could not get away yet and that he’d meet us at the restaurant. I think he may actually do that. Good thing I didn’t decide to cook though he might not have come home at all then.”
“Give the man a break Tricia,” Her dad said. “He works hard to give you and Matty a good life. You have everything you want.”
“Except a husband dad,” Tricia said bitterly. “Things are not what I want most.”
Her father drew a breath to retort and her mother elbowed him saying, “Don’t start. This is a special time for Tricia. Try not to mess it up.”
Tricia looked over, surprised and then was even more surprised to see her father give in. He didn’t apologize but he did back down. She wasn’t sure if that was the most surprising thing or if it was her mother talking to her father like that. She did it very rarely and it generally, in Tricia’s experience, had little effect.
Once in the house her father said loudly, “So where is my buddy?”
Matty heard that and came running. “Grampa!” He grabbed his grandfather’s hand and began to drag him toward the sun porch. “I’m building a farm with my blocks and stuff, come see.”
Tricia watched her mother watching her father as Matty led him into the other room all the while babbling away about what he was building.
Her mom noticed Tricia watching her and smiled. “I wish he’d found it in his heart to be more like that for you kids. I guess it’s better late than never.”
“He wasn’t so bad really. I mean I think you guys raised us just fine mom.”
“I guess. I miss Andy though. It’s too bad he had to inherit your dad’s pig headedness.”
“I know you do,” Tricia said. She felt as sad as always knowing that her mom was suffering as much as she was at the split in the family even after all these years. Tricia still had hopes of healing it one day but had made no more progress than she ever had.
She was saved from trying to deal with the subject at a time when she didn’t feel like dealing with it by the doorbell ringing. She was startled to realize she’d uncharacteristically not heard another car come up the drive. She went to the door with her mom trailing behind.
“Hi guys!” Tricia said enthusiastically when she saw Kevin and Caroline standing on the front porch. She quickly gave them each a big hug and ushered them into the house. She introduced them to her mom and said. “They were so much help to me when I was so lost in a new place.”
“It’s nice to meet you Mrs. Rooks,” Kevin said with a big smile. “Tricia told us how lucky she was to have you and your husband to take care of her son while she was off gallivanting with us in Indiana.”
Her mom laughed. “She said you were a charmer and she is right. You can call me Addie.”
“Thank you Addie,” Kevin said. “And thank you for giving Tricia the opportunity.”
“Well I imagine she told you I had my misgivings. It just didn’t seem the thing for a mother of a young child to be doing.”
Kevin nodded. “She did tell us. I hope, though, that now that she’s back you have had at least a little bit of a change of heart?”
“Indeed I have,” Tricia’s mom smiled at Kevin. “And I bet she has told you all about it.”
“Actually she hasn’t,” Kevin said. “We’ve not had much chance to talk yet. So you feel better about your daughter the poker player?”
“I do. She came back so happy and I always like to see her happy. Having Matty with us was good for my husband and I as well.”
“And am I going to get to meet your father, your husband and your son Tricia?” Kevin asked.
“Of course!” Tricia said, “follow me.” She led them to the sun porch.
“Remember I told you I thought Matt was up to something while I was gone?” Tricia asked.
Kevin and Caroline nodded.
“This was what he was up to!” Tricia said. “He and his buddies built this for me and my friend Mary Beth decorated it for me. You’ll meet Mary Beth later at the restaurant. Matt will be there too. He could not get away yet but promised to meet us at the restaurant.”
Tricia then introduced Kevin and Caroline to her father and Matty. Matty’s main interest, not surprisingly, was showing Caroline and Kevin his latest building project.
Kevin was crouched down with Matty asking questions while Matty happily told him all about what he was doing. Tricia smiled seeing it and said to Caroline, “One day he’s going to make a great father.”
“Yes he is. Now we just need to find him the right girl.” Caroline said.
“Let two or more women get together and right away they start match making,” Tricia’s dad said with snort. Tricia was surprised to see him smiling though. “My daughter didn’t tell me her new friends were quite such accomplished players. I’ve seen you on a couple of poker programs on television Ms. Snow.”
Caroline smiled and said, “Call me Caroline please. In my case I found a second calling that just fits me. I had reached a point where I’d burned out on my law practice and frankly life in general. It wasn’t the best way to start a poker career but thankfully it has worked out fairly well.”
“Dad doesn’t think Hold’em is real poker,” Tricia said. “He is a seven card stud fan.”
“You can make a case for that,” Kevin said, standing up. “They are different games for sure even if they have their roots in the same place. Maybe sometime we can play a little seven card Mr. Rooks.”
“You don’t just play that new fangled hold’em like my daughter?” Tricia’s father asked.
Caroline started to laugh, tried to stop and ended up choking. After Tricia had thumped her on the back and she got her breath back she smiled and said. “He plays a wee bit of stud Mr. Rooks. Go on Kevin. If now is not the time to show it off I don’t know what is.”
Kevin shook his arm and pulled the sleeve of his dress shirt up enough to expose a gold bracelet which he took off and handed to Tricia’s father who turned it over looking at it.
“I guess I won’t insult you by asking if this is real,” Tricia’s father said to Kevin. “I’m glad you showed this to me before we started playing.”
Tricia reached over and took it from her father. She saw that she was holding a genuine World Series of Poker bracelet from seven card stud. She looked at Kevin in surprise. “I knew you were good but I confess I didn’t know you’d won a bracelet. You told me you’d won a couple of circuit event rings, why didn’t you tell me about the bracelet?”
“You didn’t ask,” Kevin said with a shrug.
“Is there anything else you haven’t told me?” Tricia asked, shaking her head.
“I’ve only known you for a short time,” Kevin grinned. “There is a lot I haven’t told you.”
“Smart ass,” Tricia muttered, smiling. “Any more of these?” She handed him the bracelet back.
“Well,” Kevin said. Then took one off the other wrist and handed it to her.
“This one is for a $2000 buy in hold’em event,” Tricia said wonderingly. “You’re a two time WSOP bracelet winner, have several circuit event rings and have made three WPT final tables and you are taking time to have dinner with me? Why?”
Kevin chuckled. “They are jewelry, that’s all. They show that I got luck a couple of times. You know very well that to win a big tournament you have to get lucky. You’ve done it yourself.”
“Well I didn’t win and it wasn’t that big a tournament and you didn’t win those just being lucky. It took a lot of skill.”
“But they are still jewelry,” Kevin insisted. “I’m just a regular guy. Ok so maybe I’m a bit better at poker than the average guy but in my opinion so are you. That is part of the reason I’m here.”
“And what is the rest of the reason then?” Tricia asked.
Kevin smiled. “I just happen to like you. Is that a problem? You told me all about your family and since we were going to be in town I wanted to meet them.”
“I don’t know what to say,” Tricia said. “I guess I thought somebody as successful as you are would be too busy to spend time with me.”
Caroline smiled. “You’re plenty successful in your own way dear. With a young child you could make a case for having no more time than we do. It would have been easy for you to decide you couldn’t spare time for two itinerant poker players who flew into town and wanted to take time away from your family and your responsibilities here.”
“But you were so nice to me. I am glad to spend time with you!”
Kevin smiled. “And you were nice to both of us. We are glad to spend time with you. Now are we going to be friends and move on?”
Tricia grinned and nodded. “Yeah but it still boggles my mind.”
“We’re just regular people Tricia,” Kevin said. “And not to rush things but I at least am a regular hungry person.”
“I’m sorry!” Tricia said. “It is time to get going. We’ll get there just in time for our reservations. Matty you may leave your stuff out. Go get the bag we packed for you to take to Gramma and Grampa’s please.”
“Ok mom,” Matty said, running off to his room.
“He’s spending the night with them,” Tricia said. “It just seemed like it would be easier.”
“Ok, but he seems very well behaved. Why not just bring him to dinner with us?” Kevin asked then looked at Tricia’s parents. “Does that mean you’re not coming?”
“Not this time,” Tricia’s mom said. “We enjoy having Matty with us. Until she went to that poker tournament we had rarely had the opportunity. You youngsters go have a good dinner.”
“Well it was nice to meet you both,” Kevin said. “I hope we get to see you again soon. And Mr. Rooks I still want that seven card stud game sometime. Do you have a home game you play?”
Tricia’s father nodded. “We have a group that gets together once a week usually. We’d love to have you come win all our money.”
Kevin chuckled. “Don’t be so sure. You all have been playing a lot longer than I have. Experience counts. I’m sure it’s just a fun game. I’d enjoy playing.”
“It’s just a bunch of old farts sitting around drinking beer, swapping old war stories and playing a little poker. That’s what the wives call it anyway.”
Kevin laughed. “And do you let your daughter play? I’ve not heard her talk about seven card stud.”
Tricia’s father looked a little uncomfortable. “We have never had a woman in the game.”
“I keep telling him that maybe it’s time they started,” Tricia’s mom said. “But that’s a little progressive for them.”
“Well I don’t want to rock the boat,” Kevin said. “But playing seven card stud with experienced players would be good for Tricia’s game. It will also knock some of the cockiness out of her since I’m sure you’ll all clean her clock for a while.”
“I’m cocky?” Tricia asked. “Where did that come from?”
“Hold’em is easier than seven card Tricia,” Her dad said. “I keep telling you that. Who knows maybe I can talk the guys into letting you play and you’ll find out your friend is right.”
Kevin was grinning and when Tricia looked at her Caroline rolled her eyes. Tricia got the feeling Kevin was up to something but when she started to ask he gave her the briefest of shakes of his head and she kept quiet as her parents left and Tricia, Kevin and Caroline got in the car to head to the restaurant.