A deck of playing cards, still wrapped in plastic, with a note wrapped around them and held there by a rubber band. I took it off, and discovered it was from Mrs. Kettle! “Hopefully you find someone who can whip your tush at poker!” she’d written, making me giggle. I tucked the note in my back pocket and showed the cards to Savvy. “Something to do tonight?” I suggested.
Savvy thought it was a good idea, but she wasn’t sure what to play. I suggested poker, blinking innocent eyes in my usual sham, saying the girls in the dorms played sometimes so I knew the basics of that game at least. She knew the basics too, but she was against us betting money. I hadn’t been expecting to bet anything at all, but she was right, it would make things more fun if we were betting something. Though poker wasn’t a traditional get to know you game anyway…
She snapped her fingers and said we could merge the game with truth or dare, using them like tokens. I agreed, but suggested you could also use a token to avoid doing something, such as using one of your dare tokens to avoid another dare. I grabbed a sheet of paper and quickly made “sets” of tokens, one dare to every five truths, with two stacks a pieces. I folded them up to take with us to Harold in their larger form, making it easier to carry. I knew how to tear them apart neatly once we got to Silverglade.
Nikki came back, and we were ready to leave. We finally met her other horse, a brown gelding named Dragonpromise. Evening snorted, but otherwise kept his manners around the new horse. I think as long as I wasn’t the one planning on riding Dragon, he’d be okay. She was quite happy to be out of the library, since she was apparently not having much luck finding anything relevant. I tried to help her figure out how to navigate the built-in system to find the information she wanted, but she wasn’t in the mood to talk about it and instead started plying us with questions about our plan tonight.
I huffed, but let Savvy explain our truth-or-dare poker game. Nikki was excited, since apparently she’d played a few hands with some of the clowns in her parents’ circus. (Her mother would apparently have a fit if she ever found out.) She got a little affronted when Savvy suggested the clowns didn’t take it seriously. I bit my lip and stayed quiet rather than risk instigating a fight.
In the village, Harold’s bakery was still open, with two tables inside. Alex and Linda had pushed them together to make room for us all. Linda and Nikki were introduced, and Harold was soon taking our order. Pizza rolls were the obvious first choice for dinner, and I requested both a cup of tea and a glass of ice water, earning me a couple looks. With both tables pushed together, there were plenty of extra chairs, so I once again grabbed on to put my knee up. The swelling was a lot better, but I wanted to baby it when I could.
I let Savvy explain the game as I pulled out the deck and the sheets of tokens. Then I started creasing the folds on both sides, then took off my gloves to dip my finger in my water and run it down the seams. Once damp, it was easy to put the seam on the edge of the table, and just gently pull the paper apart, leaving even edges. I’d learned the trick from Lawrence when I had been working on some craft project for school and we hadn’t been able to find a pair of scissors.
Linda caught on to what I was doing, and since I had two sheets of paper (one only half full, I’d run out of space on the first), she started doing the other after checking that I wasn’t planning on actually drinking the water. “No, it’s for throwing at Savvy or Nikki if they start gushing about boys,” I joked without thinking about it.
Savvy immediately called me on my little thing-not-really-a-thing with Josh with not so many words. I flushed and shut my big mouth. She seemed satisfied about it, and declared that there would be no truths or dares about boys. I giggled but agreed. (I wasn’t the only one laughing, Harold was too behind the counter.)
With the tokens finished, we all started playing poker at last. The first hand or two laid out what kind of players everyone was. Savvy was pretty conservative, which surprised me. Linda was the same, though she had the look of someone with their eyes on the bigger game. Nikki bet like she talked, freely and based on luck, which led to some fantastic bluffs and some horrid losses alike. And then Alex quickly set herself up as the one I had to watch. She knew how to play and had a good poker face. And I think by my third win, my false innocence began to stop being effective with her.
I was dealing for the second time when the door opened behind us. I turned my head to look and refrained from giggling as Derek came in. Oh goodness, did that get amusing. He greeted Savvy and she had to shoo him away from the table so he wouldn’t try to join the game. He pouted, but she wasn’t having any of it. That didn’t stop him from nicking some of her pizza rolls, and she stopped playing fair at that point, shoving him right out the door.
She came back to the table. I’d been holding it together fairly well at that point, but I met Alex’s eyes and I cracked. I immediately burst into giggles, and Nikki was right behind me. Alex threw fuel on the fire and mentioned that she now understood why Savvy had declared no talking about boys.
Linda though looked over her glasses at Alex and said quite pointedly, “Justin.”
Alex turned bright red and shut her mouth with a snap. I blinked and gave Linda a look of my own. Was that the way the wind blew? She winked at me, making me giggle and hide behind my hand. Alex and Justin, oh, Loretta was going to have a fit…which sent a pang through my heart, since it would just make her cling that much harder to Josh, despite him not being the one she wanted. And he’d be blind to it, and, and…
I quickly reminded them that we’d sworn off talking about the boys before I really sent myself spiraling into depression. It was a near miss as it was. That got their attention back, though Savvy was giving my pile of tokens the stink eye. Uh oh, someone was really on to my game now. I shifted my cards and eyed the girls. I think Linda was preparing to start her long strategy too, if I were to guess…and Nikki was getting antsy. Time to wrap this up before we got slapped around by Linda in the end or Nikki got impatient.
So, in my usual style for the first game with a group, I lost the last two hands, one by a good deal so I folded and the other by losing against Alex by a hair. Linda had started talking to Nikki while Alex and I dueled it out in the end, and apparently Nikki knew trick riding. With my loss, I asked if she could show us some. I goofed around on Angel at school, and there was the thing with Evening and the birdhouse, but it sounded interesting.
She was more than happy to agree. Everyone pocketed their wins, since nobody was completely cleaned out, and went outside. Nikki brought Dragon around, and showed us some of her tricks, which were very impressive. I tried to pay attention, I did. She did some amazing balancing tricks, and you could see Dragon was quite used to her antics, probably from last summer. I wished I knew how to do some of that.
But it had been an exhausting last few days, and my knee was beginning to ache a bit. We agreed it was time to go back to the winery. Alex offered to give Linda a ride, since she didn’t have a horse at the moment. I was barely up on Evening before I heard Nikki call mockingly, “Last person to the winery is a rotten tater!” And the little sneak even tried to copy my accent!
Evening didn’t understand what was going on, but when I gave him a sharp tap of the heels, he knew it was time to run. He snorted and took off with a leap that made me gasp and then burst into laughter as we almost skid on the cobbled paths of the village. I don’t think either of the three of us cared who won, it was all about fun.
Nikki of course did win, since she left first. We walked the horses for a little while to let the catch their breath and cool down before putting them up for the night. I was in such a good mood, I even let Evening tug on my hair in an affectionate good-bye. We waved good-night to Nikki at the rooms and went inside. I was gathering my bath things when Savvy held up a truth token and asked me about my poker skills.I had plenty of truths to counter, but I decided why not? I grinned and reached into my pocket, grabbing Mrs. Kettle’s note and leaving it for her to read while I grabbed the first shower. I had just started undressing when I heard her start swearing in our room, making me burst into laughter again before I jumped in the spray.
She was still muttering when I came back, but I just grinned. It was nice to pull one over on somebody else for a change! I was brushing my hair while she took her turn in the bathroom, which gave me time to think. I had set the brace down with where the knee pads had been left this morning, making my frown a little. What was I going to do about them? Ugh, I didn’t want to ruin my good mood. I put them out of my mind and climbed up into bed to write up this entry.
I had so much fun tonight! Maybe I’ve finally found a group of girls here that I can be friends with. Now if only everything else could be that simple, right?
Money: 3575 SC, 6917 JS
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