The Lucky Winner

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Chapter 10

“Any scoops on the winner yet?” Zoe inquired after a giant gulp of spiked punch.

A month had passed since Mom’s big winning, and Zoe was still talking about it. Not to mention, so was the whole town.

After numerous consultations with financial advisers—and fifty-mile excursions to go to other ones in different towns—my parents had chosen to receive a lump sum and deposit it in a family trust. As Kyle had pointed out, they’d decided they didn’t want to risk having us encounter any problems if something happened to either of them. Mom had appointed herself and Dad as trustees, and Kyle and I were the beneficiaries. And with that, Mom’s seventy-one million dollars were safely secured in the bank.

Kyle and I had received five thousand dollars each to deposit into our own bank accounts. We had to first promise not to spend it irrationally or so obviously it could arouse anyone’s suspicions.

We’d been doing so well. We dutifully kept our silence as instructed. Things remained unchanged—just as quiet and boring as before. Except for one thing: I finally got the doors to my room! I chose a pair of French doors with frosted glass. I got blinds, too, for extra privacy protection. Since Dad was away for work, I’d hired a handyman to install them, and the entire project cost me six hundred and twenty dollars, but hey, I still had over four thousand dollars in my bank account! How awesome was that?

Sophia’s sixteen-year-old cat, Furball came over and rubbed against my leg which stretched out of the giant bean bag I was sinking into.

Suddenly, Zoe opened her mouth into the shape of an O. “Oh. My. God.”

Sophia and I looked at Zoe, not expecting much. Zoe often exaggerated things so the words that came after saying Oh. My. God. (with a pause after each word) were usually nothing particularly wowing.

“Maybe the winner is your secret admirer!” she exclaimed.

Sophia’s eyes grew wider as she realized that this time, Zoe’s Oh. My. God. was actually shocking. “Zoe, oh, my goodness! You might be right. Why didn’t we think of that?”

Sophia had recently received a five-thousand-dollar money order from an anonymous source. It arrived with a note that said: For your cat’s surgery.

My heart raced. That must have been from Kyle. Was it really from him? Would he go that far? Would he so generously give someone five thousand dollars—all the money we received from Mom’s winnings—without taking any credit for it? When Sophia first told us about receiving the lavishly anonymous gift, of course I suspected Kyle at once. But I tried very hard to push that thought out of my mind. If he could hand over five thousand dollars to her without ever revealing his true identity, my next question was: how far would he go for his love? Would he sacrifice his whole life for her? It gave me the creeps. Big time.

“I don’t think so at all.” My voice came out a bit louder than I intended.

“Why? Don’t you think it makes perfect sense? It arrived after the winning ticket was announced, and whoever sent it had to have a lot of money if he could so easily give out five thousand dollars, just like that.” Zoe snapped her fingers.

Zoe had a point. I just didn’t want her to have one.

“Somehow, I just feel it’s not from him,” then I corrected my comment in a rush. “I mean, whoever won the lottery.”

Zoe furrowed her brow as if she were watching an alien take over my body.

It didn’t really matter if they believed the winner was her secret admirer. As long as Kyle didn’t identify himself, our secret was safe—that was, if Kyle had really given her the money order. Whatever the case, I felt awfully uncomfortable about the whole conversation. I was jittery, like I ODed on too much caffeine.

Scooping a ladle full of punch from the big glass bowl, I poured it into my glass and downed it. It didn’t help much. Unfortunately.

“Ella has good instincts,” said Sophia as she lifted Furball and placed her on her lap. “It might not have been from the winner. It really doesn’t matter who sent it.” She petted Furball affectionately, and Furball responded with a loud purr.

I exhaled a long sigh of relief.

Zoe’s mouth formed the O shape again. And so did her eyes. “It doesn’t matter who? Sweetie, have you gone completely, crazy insane? Do you not realize this? If you became his girlfriend, you’d be a millionaire, too!”

Again Zoe had a point. For Sophia. Except being a millionaire’s girlfriend didn’t necessarily mean you were automatically a millionaire. Not unless you married him. But we were only sixteen.

Now Sophia’s mouth became an O. “Oh, my gosh!” Sophia exclaimed. “You’re so insanely right!”

The two girls shared a look of awe before screaming at the top of their lungs.

“He could be eighty years old!” I shouted so they could hear me despite their shrieks.

The cacophony instantly stopped, and Sophia turned to me with a dreadful look on her face. “Gosh, that’s true.”

“So?” said Zoe. “Girls, here’s the ugly truth. Nobody’s perfect.”

“Zoe, eighty years old? Come on! That’s like, my great grandpa’s age!” Sophia protested.

“Don’t worry. You’re not having sex with him. He can’t.” Zoe’s eyes looked up in a state of wonder. “Oh, my God… could we go on a cruise around the world?”

“Nope,” I cut in as I looked at Sophia. “You’d have to have sex with the grandpa, sweetie. All kinds of meds are available for it now. You know that.” I needed to smash their fantasy into the tiniest pieces possible.

“Ewww!” Sophia scrunched up her nose.

“Just close your eyes—it’s the same as screwing the hottest guy in town. I swear.”

Zoe was just impossible.

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