“Mind a hitchhiker? Old fuddy duddy putzed out and just doesn’t want to go and frankly I don’t want to go home with him right now.” Mary Beth asked.
“Well you know it’s fine with me,” Tricia said. “I’ll drive you home later.”
“Thanks!” Mary Beth said piling into the back seat.
As Caroline drove out of the parking lot, following Tricia’s directions Tricia said. “I told Caroline and Kevin how Dutch doesn’t want you to do the decorating thing. I still can’t believe how he’s being about it.”
“I’ve heard it too many times,” Caroline said. “I hope you will be able to work it out with him. Maybe it’s not my place to say so but you deserve the right to do what fulfills you. He should be proud his wife is good enough at it to open her own decorating business and has enough drive to want to.”
“Thanks,” Mary Beth said. “I swear he believes that women should be kept barefoot and pregnant. We had three wonderful children who are for the most part fully grown now. My starting this business full time will not take a thing away from them at this point.”
“At least you got the children in,” Caroline said wistfully. “My main regret in my life is being too busy to make time to have children until it was too late.”
The mood in the car was feeling very somber until Mary Beth smiled, leaned forward to put her head between Caroline and Tricia and said, “Ok enough of that gloomy stuff. I wanted to ride with you girls to hear about the wild stuff that happens when you go to these tournament things. Tricia hasn’t told me nearly enough. I want dirt and I want it now.”
“Mary Beth!” Tricia shook her head. “You’re terrible. I told you there were a couple of parties but while some of us drank more than we should have as far as I know nothing really terrible happened.”
“Did she do anything embarrassing Caroline?” Mary Beth asked.
Caroline chuckled and said, “Well she didn’t do a thing to embarrass me.”
“You know what I mean!” Mary Beth said. “I’ve seen her drunk but it was just after something that happened a few years ago and she wasn’t in a mood to do anything fun. I want to know how she is when she’d drunk and happy.”
“I told her about Jaime,” Tricia said to Mary Beth.
“Ohhhh ok,” Mary Beth said. “But I still want dirt. Did she kiss anybody?”
Caroline chuckled. “I wouldn’t tell if she did. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”
“But you weren’t in Vegas. You were in Indiana.”
“The principle applies none the less,” Caroline said.
“Nothing worth telling happened Mary Beth.” Tricia. “Not to me anyway. I don’t know who else might have hooked up and spent a night or more with somebody.”
Mary Beth looked at Tricia and said, “I know you pretty well, the way you said that makes me suspicious. Come on. I’m a boring housewife with no frigging life. I need to live vicariously through somebody!”
Caroline smiled. “Sometimes boring is not that bad. Tournament poker has been very aptly described as hour upon hour of boredom interspersed with a few moments of sheer terror. When it comes right down to it Mary Beth it really is hard work.”
“So you go to parties and nothing happens? Why do I not believe that? You don’t play all the time. Surely even poker players need sex.”
“Well of course we do,” Caroline said. “Some of us don’t get much of it but we need it.”
“You’re good looking, smart and seem fun,” Mary Beth said. “I bet you get plenty.”
“We all have our emotional baggage and sometimes mine gets in the way,” Caroline said. “But just to give you a bit of a thrill I’ll tell you that after the party following Tricia’s performance in the Ladies event I did not go to bed alone.”
“Well good for you!” Mary Beth said.
Tricia was looking at Caroline. She knew very well that it had been Rick that she’d hooked up with and was dying to ask for more details and if they were going to see one another again but didn’t want to in front of Mary Beth in case Caroline didn’t want to talk about it.
The conversation came to an end when they pulled into the driveway at Tricia’s house and got out to go into the house. Matt and Kevin pulled up right after and also got out.
“So what did you two talk about all the way home?” Tricia asked curiously.
“Guy stuff,” both Matt and Kevin said simultaneously. They then looked at each other and laughed.
Three sets of female eyes rolled and Caroline said, “I’m not sure it was a good idea to leave your husband alone with him Tricia. He is an evil influence at times.”
“Not at all,” Matt said, then he looked at Mary Beth and said, “Dutch weaseled out of coming?”
She nodded and shrugged.
“I don’t know what’s with him lately,” Matt said. “Well lets not stand out here. Come on in the house.”
Tricia followed wondering what Matt and Kevin had talked about that had Matt in a seemingly good mood about having visitors that were not his hunting or fishing buddies. She thought it would have been more in character for him to suddenly remember some forgotten detail at his office he needed to check on and make an exit similar to Dutch’s.
Once inside Kevin turned to Tricia. “I hear you’ve never tried to teach Matt to play poker. Why not? You might enjoy playing together.”
“Don’t blame me,” Tricia said defensively. “I have tried to get him interested. Some of his buddies play and I even suggested having a game here.”
“Honey,” Matt said quickly. “I know I didn’t used to have much interest but after you went to that tournament thing and I heard so much about it I wouldn’t mind trying to learn to play I think.”
“Fine with me,” Tricia said.
“That’s better,” Kevin said. “So break out your chips and lets see what we can do. Would you like to learn to play too Mary Beth?”
“Sure,” she said, “Why not. Maybe I can get good and Tricia will take me with her when she goes to tournaments.”
“Maybe,” Kevin said with a grin.
“There’s only one problem,” Tricia said. “No chips. Since I could not get Matt interested I’ve never bought any chips, not even the cheap plastic ones. I don’t suppose you just happen to have some with you do you Kevin?”
Caroline laughed and Kevin shook his head. “A good chipset is a bit heavy to lug around when you’re traveling. I just assumed you’d have chips.”
“The closest chips I know of are at my parents. I got my dad a good chip set last Christmas. He and his buddies were using those old cheap plastic things. Dad insisted they were fine but mom has told me that his buddies really like the new chips.”
“I bet,” Kevin said. “Do you think he’d lend them to you? Is it too far to go?”
“It’s only a few minutes away and I have no idea if he’d lend them to me. I’ll call and ask if you’d like.”
“Unless you don’t feel like playing a bit of poker I’d like you to try.” Kevin said.
Tricia pulled out her cell phone and made the call. She hung up smiling and shaking her head.
“Well?” Matt asked, what’s so funny?”
“He says we can’t borrow them but we can go over there and use them as long as we include him.” Tricia told him.
“Well that sounds reasonable,” Kevin chuckled then looked at Tricia, “did you have other plans for this evening?”
“I had no definite plans,” she admitted. “I didn’t know what you and Caroline would want to do or even exactly why you were coming. I’d like to take a shot at teaching Matt and Mary Beth to play.”
“Well then lets go,” Kevin said.
They piled back out of the house and into Kevin’s car and Tricia’s car. Matt drove Tricia’s car this time with Mary Beth and Caroline riding with him. Kevin had Tricia ride with him to give him directions.
On the short ride Kevin had a brief chance to talk to Tricia alone.
“You and Matt seemed to get along ok,” Tricia said. “I have to tell you I’m surprised. Maybe he is starting to trust me again.”
Kevin shrugged. “I did my best to charm him and to appear as harmless as possible. He was a bit suspicious though and was asking about who you’d met there and the parties and things like that. He was definitely fishing for information. I didn’t give him anything useful. I take it you have not told him about Jaime being there?”
“Good Lord no!” Tricia said. “I’d never get out of the house again if I did.”
“You may be right,” Kevin said with nod. “He’s being friendly but there was an undercurrent of suspicion and it’s really still there. I think he may be willing to give me the benefit of the doubt but that’s mostly because I think he thinks I’m too young for you.”
“Well you are,” Tricia said.
“I bet I could change your mind,” Kevin said softly.
Tricia looked at him in shock. “Kevin! You’re joking right?”
“Well yes and no but don’t worry. You are safe with me.” Kevin grinned. “Your Matt has almost as much of a macho streak in him as his buddy Dutch does. That guy seems to be a real piece of work.”
“He’s a jerk.”
“That’s what I said,” Kevin chuckled. “I just said it nice.”
“Is this really what you want to do with your free time?” Tricia said. “Spending it with me like this?”
“Why not?” Kevin asked. “Dinner was good and for the most part the conversation was good. I will admit that I’d not choose Dutch as a dinner companion but I liked Mary Beth. Matt has certainly been civil and really I can’t blame him in some ways for being a bit suspicious.”
“But now you’re going to my parents to play poker on the kitchen table. How fun can that be for you?”
“Do you know how often I get to do that? To play a totally casual game with friends in a fun, family atmosphere? Being on the road so much gets old. Don’t worry about me, I’m going to love it.”
“And what about Caroline?”
“She will be fine. She needed a break. She was close to burning out. Don’t let this go to your head but she’s almost as good as you are. She’s easily good enough for what she’s going but she pushes herself very hard, too hard sometimes. I dragged her on this trip to try to get her away from the grind and to try to get some one on one coaching time with her. I’m finding she’s got a great mind and she’s actually given me some good insight on some things.”
“Are you two…”
“An item?” Kevin smiled and then shook his head. “No we’re not. This with her is purely business just like with you. Business with a side of friendship. Actually you may not want to hear this but she and Rick seem to have hit it off very well.”
Tricia shrugged. “I wondered if it was just that one time. I somehow didn’t think so. Don’t tell him but in a way it’s a relief. I don’t regret what happened with him but I think I would have if it continued.”
Kevin nodded understanding and the conversation ended as they pulled down the long driveway to Tricia’s parents’ house.