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The property in Arlington, Virginia was initially built as a duplex. The double driveway led to two garages separated by stairs leading up to two front doors. Each side had a living room and kitchen. One floor up there were two bedrooms. The builder had owned the vacant lot for twenty years expecting to build a home there. But the lot backed up to a hill that didn’t adapt to a typical Arlington home.Thirty years ago a young lawyer named Malachi Bernstein purchased the duplex expecting to rent the second unit so that he could afford the monthly mortgage payment. Within twenty-four hours of settlement, he met an accountant named Mitchel Kowalski who offered to rent the other side of the duplex.Both men worked in Arlington and had been making a long commute to work. The location was ideal for them both. Their units were small, but they were both single and worked long hours. For them, convenience was more important than size.Mitchel was an excellent cook and invited Malachi for dinner at least once a week. Over the next few years, the two men became good friends. Both men were dedicated to their jobs and rarely dated. Their friendship grew stronger and eventually led them to the decision to convert the duplex into a house that they would share. Ten years after moving in, the two men celebrated their 40th birthdays in a new, combined home.Both Mal and Mitch had been successful in their professions and had better than average incomes. Their renovated home had become a masterpiece. The two kitchens were converted into one large, modern one. They had added a large balcony that extended over the first floor garages, giving them a lovely view of the city park just across the street. The center stairway opened to two large master bedrooms which shared the view of the park. Two smaller bedrooms served as home office space for the men. The house was ideal for both of them, and it grew in value each year.The year Mal and Mitch both turned fifty, they added an extendable awning to their balcony, making it a great place to have a drink and smoke a cigar in the evenings after work. To both men, sitting on their shaded deck with a glass of scotch and a cigar was pure bliss. Life just couldn’t be better.When they both turned fifty-five, Mitch suggested they have a party to celebrate. Through the years a few people had come to visit, but the visits were seldom. To prepare, Mitch cooked for three days, and Mal stocked their already generous liquor cabinet.Twenty people attended the party, all raving about the house, its excellent location, and fantastic view. One of the party attendees in the real estate business suggested the property could be https://www.kusadasibest.com sold for a million dollars. While the owners had never considered selling it or moving, they were both shocked at the information.In the winter of that same year, Mal and Mitch decided to invite four of their friends over on Saturday night to play poker. It was such an enjoyable experience; the group got together again the following month, and the next, and the next. When the co-owners of the house turned sixty, their poker club had been meeting monthly for five years.One Saturday Mitch was cooking while Mal prepared the house for guests. The poker club would convene at 7:00. Mal was busy setting up the table with poker chips, coasters for their drinks, and readying the side table that would hold a variety of snacks. After playing together for so many years, the routine was set. The house rules had long been known by the group and almost never had to be explained.Mal’s phone rang, and he talked for several minutes before joining Mitch in the kitchen. “That was Tom Sparks on the phone. He has a bad cold and doesn’t want to share his germs with us tonight. He said he could get someone to take his place.”“Really?” Mitch said with a frown. “We haven’t had anyone new in the group for years.”“I was a little uncomfortable with it,” Mal replied. “But I hate poker with just five players. The game is better with six. Anyway, I told Tom to get a replacement if he knew someone who would want to play with us. He assured me he had someone in mind.”“I hope it’s someone we’ll like,” Mitch said as he poured something he was cooking into a serving dish. “Remember that ass that played with us a couple of years ago? God, but he was nauseating. And a slob to boot.”“We’ll just roll the dice and hope it works out well,” Mal replied as he set about finishing his preparations.As was typical of their Saturday night games, two of the players arrived together at 6:45. The two men were almost always early. They each fixed a drink and selected their seats at the table. The next player arrived just before 7:00.“Where’s Tom?” one of the early arrivals asked.“He called in sick,” Mal informed the group. “He’s picked out a replacement which should have arrived by now.”As the last arrival sat at the table, the doorbell rang. “Here we go,” Mal told the group as he went to answer the door.When he opened the door, Mal’s mouth dropped open. With a bright smile, a red-haired woman said, “Hi. I’m Kate McCarthy. I’m Tom’s replacement.”Mal seemed frozen in place. The woman frowned, and asked, “Do I have the wrong address? Isn’t this where the poker game is?”Recovering from his shock, Mal stepped back, opened the door wider and asked Kate to step inside. When they entered the room with the players, Mal announced, “Gentlemen, this is Kate McCarthy. She’ll be playing for Tom tonight.”“All right!” one of the seated players called out. “Kate, you’re much prettier than Tom and probably a better poker player.”As Mal took Kate’s coat and hung it in a closet, Kate moved around the table shaking hands and learning names. From the kitchen, Mitch’s jaw was slack. He looked out to see a charming woman shaking hands with his poker buddies. The woman was wearing black slacks that fit her perfectly, revealing what Mitch thought was about the most perfect ass he had ever seen. When she reached the other side of the table, Mitch could see that her breasts were equally as perfect as her butt. She moved to face Mitch, showing him a beautiful face with a winning smile.“Do I have an assigned seat?” she asked the group.“Yeah,” one of the players answered. “This is Tom’s seat. He always insists on sitting between Mal and me. He says we’re the worst poker players in the world and we make him look good.”As Kate sat down, one of the men asked, “How do you know Tom?”“His office is across the hall from mine,” she told them. “I’ve known Tom for three or four years. He’s always talking about his poker club.”Stepping up to his regular seat at the end of the table, Mal pushed out his hand. “I’m sorry I didn’t introduce myself at the door. I’m Malachi Bernstein, one of the owners of the house. That fellow holding a dish is the other owner. He’s Mitchel Kowalski. Just call us Mal and Mitch.”Kate shook Mal’s hand. “Thanks for the warm welcome.” Then looking around the table, she told the men. “You don’t need to worry. I’m an experienced poker player. Tom has given me the house rules and told me about the games you like to play. He’s told me that Edgar tends toward foul language.”The entire group of men laughed, and Edgar blushed. “Guilty,” he said with a smile.“I just want you to know you there aren’t any words I haven’t heard before,” Kate told Edgar. “I am not easily offended, but I probably will call you a mother-fucker if you steal a large pot from me.”The group laughed again, delighted and relieved Kate would fit in nicely.Mal was the group’s banker. Pointing to the chips in front of her, he said, “You have twenty dollars in chips in front of you. The white chips are a quarter. The reds fifty cents, and the blues are a dollar. Now, if you’ll give me twenty bucks the game may begin.”Kate dug a money clip from her pocket and peeled off a fresh twenty dollar bill.Thirty minutes later Mal found that Kate was delightful. She played the game well and handled herself like she’d been a member of the club forever. Mal also enjoyed the smell of Kate’s perfume that drifted his way from time to time. He detested women that seemed to marinate themselves in fragrances. Kate’s was lovely and understated.At 9:00 the group took a break to eat Mitch’s cooking. After they’d filled their plates and sat back at the table, Edgar took a bite and praised Mitch’s skills in the kitchen. He said, “I’ve told my wife that if she dies or leaves me, I’m marrying Mitch.”“And you’d weigh three hundred pounds in six months,” Mal laughed.“Then how is it that you stay trim?” Edgar asked.“I don’t cook every day,” Mitch confessed. “For the most part, I just cook for special occasions, and for the poker club.”“Your cooking is the only reason I’m a member of this club,” one of the men offered. “I hate poker, but love your cooking.”“For a man that hates poker,” Kate said as she pointed to his stack of chips, “You don’t seem to have a problem pulling in the winnings.”By 9:30 the game has started again and lasted until one of the players announced that he needed to get home. “Once my wife goes to sleep I’ll play hell trying to get in her pants. Knowing the situation, I believe that none of you will object to my departure.”“Party on,” Edgar laughed. “I’m glad to see you have your priorities in place.”The game broke up, and chips were counted and cashed in with the banker. The three men grabbed their coats, thanked their hosts and agreed to the date of the next poker night. Quite suddenly Kate was alone with Mal and Mitch.“I hope you enjoyed yourself,” Mitch said to Kate as he picked up some dishes.“I had a great time,” she said with a bright smile. “Your friends are very nice, and the game wasn’t stressful. You guys are here to have fun and are not worried about how much you could win or lose.”Mitch picked up Kate’s glass. “How ‘bout a refill?”“Thanks,” she replied. “But I don’t want to overstay my welcome. Would you like for me to help wash the dishes?”“Not a chance,” Mitch called from the kitchen. “I have this down to a science. I’ll be back to have another drink with you in five minutes.”“I hope Bill makes it home in time to get laid,” Kate said as she took her refilled glass from Mal.“I know his wife,” Mitch said from the kitchen. He was drying his hands on a towel as he joined the other two and retrieved his glass. As Mitch dropped ice cubes in the tumbler, he told Kate, “His wife, Nancy, will be waiting for him. If he wins any money, Bill gets a BJ. If he loses, he has to take care of her.”“Oh, how nice,” Kate laughed. “That sounds like a win-win to me.” Then taking a swallow of her drink, she said. “Too bad I don’t have something like that at home waiting for me.”
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