George Carver swallowed tightly then glanced between the lottery ticket in his hand and the numbers displayed on the TV screen.
It wasn't possible.
It just wasn't possible.
He got up and walked over to his desk. He leaned the ticket against the screen then booted up his ancient laptop. His hands shook as he typed in the website for the Mega Money Lottery contest. The waiting for the website seemed to take forever to load.
It was probably just a few seconds.
He had good internet.
Once again, he glanced at the numbers on the ticket he'd purchased on a whim down at the local corner grocery store and double checked them with the ones on his screen.
They were the same.
All of them.
He'd gotten all six numbers.
George just sat there and stared. It really had been a whim. He'd been standing in line at the grocery store when he saw the flashing numbers on the lottery machine. One point six billion dollars.
He couldn't even conceive of that amount of money.
After paying for his purchases, he'd had two dollars left. He briefly thought about grabbing a coke, but then decided, why the hell not? He knew he'd never win, but it was nice to dream, so he'd bought a lottery ticket. He'd hit the random number generator, not wanting to try and choose numbers himself.
The winning lottery numbers.
George clicked the button directing lottery winners on what to do next. It took him a moment to figure out exactly what he was reading. The direction weren't that user friendly. He grabbed the ticket and signed his name across the back of it then picked up his cell phone and took a picture of the signed ticket.
Now, he just needed a place to hide it until he could figure out what to do.
George started looking around his room. He spotted several different placed he could put the ticket, but none of them seemed that secure. It wasn't likely that his house was suddenly going to be robbed, but he wasn't taking any chances.
He also didn't want to hold onto the ticket until he was ready to go to the lottery headquarters and claim his prize. He was too afraid he'd be mugged on his way down to the office. Or kidnapped. Hit by a bus. Crushed by a falling meteor. Abducted by aliens.
The list was endless.
According to the lottery website, he needed to make several copies of the signed ticket then place it in a safety deposit box for safe keeping. He then needed to get a lawyer, a financial planner, and an accountant.
That list was endless as well.
What was a trust or limited liability company?
Family limited partnership?
George squinted as he stared at the screen. He was supposed to check the records for attorneys, accountants, and financial planners to see whether there had been any complaints filed with state disciplinary authorities.
That couldn't be that hard, could it?
George reached over and grabbed his phone, dialing a number he knew by heart. "Hey, Ford, can you come over? I need a little help with something."
"Yeah, I'll be right there."
Sure enough, five minutes later my front door banged open and Ford walked in. It kind of helped that he lived in an apartment two floors down.
"Lock the door."
Ford raised an eyebrow, but did as George asked.
George got up and walked over to the radio, turning it on loud enough to muffle our words, but not so loud that they couldn't hear each other talk.
Ford's forehead furrowed as he walked closer. "What's going on? Are you okay? You're acting all weird."
Ford would know. Not only was he George's best friend, but he was also his cousin. They'd been born a week apart. Being so close in age, they'd always been lumped together. The good part was that they'd become best friends.
"Come here." George waved Ford over to his laptop, then pointed to the screen. "L:ook at those numbers."
Ford pushed his glasses up his nose then squinted down at the screen. "9-27-42-43-58-6. Okay. Why am I looking at them?"
I held out the lottery ticket. "Now look at these numbers."
"9-27-42-43—" Ford gasped. His hand started to shake. "George."
"I know, right?"
"9-27-42-43-58-6. Jesus, George. You have all the numbers right, every damn one of them."
"Yeah." I swallowed tightly. "That's a lot of money, Ford."
George couldn't even say it.
"Shit." Ford's eyes grew huge. "You need to talk to Dad before you do anything."
"You think he could help me with this stuff?"
"Uh, yeah. Dad's a CPA. This kind of stuff is right up his alley."
George chuckled nervously. "Fancy a trip to Paris? Or a new car?"
He could afford it now.
"I wouldn't turn down a cup of coffee," Ford said.
And that was why Ford was his best friend. Even with a billion dollars on the line, Ford wouldn't take advantage of him.
"Come on." George tucked the lottery ticket into his pocket then grabbed his jacket. "I'll buy you a cup of coffee after I stop at the bank."
Ford lifted an eyebrow. "Dude, I can pay for my own coffee."
"No, it's not that. I have money. I need a safety deposit box. I don't want anything to happen to this ticket before I have a chance to turn it in."
"You should take a picture of it."
"I already did."
"Make a copy of it so you have it on you."
George hadn't thought of that. He pulled the ticket back out of his pocket and walked over to his printer. He made two copies, one for him and one for Ford, making sure he got both sides of the lottery ticket on the print out.
He folded his up and stuck it into his wallet then handed the other one to Ford. "Here, hold on to this for me."
Ford shrugged as he took the print out, folded it up, then slid it into his pocket. "Why do you want me to have a copy?"
"In case I lose mine."
"Better hope you don't."
George chuckled nervously. "Right?"
He slid the original ticket back into his pocket. "Okay, let's do this."
He needed to make sure his future was somewhere safe before he started planning it.
To be continued...
Hot Mess 8
It was the Christmas season and I wanted to make it special. We'd been through a lot lately and we needed something to remind us of how wonderful our life was. It really sucked that there were forces working against my happy little holiday. When someone starts stalking me, planning for Christmas pales in comparison to keeping my family safe. But the Christmas season was a time for family and I'd be damned if I let someone mess with mine.
Lany was the hot mess in our relationship, so it was surprising when I ended up being the one injured in a stupid accident. Having to rely on Lany and the kids to save me wasn't something I was accustomed to. When forces beyond our control interrupt our holiday plans, being injured hampers my ability to protect my family. But the Christmas season was a time for family and I'd be damned if I let someone mess with mine.
"One little, two little, three little munchkins," I sang out as I counted heads. Seven kids in all.
We were good.
"Okay, is everyone ready to go?" I knew I was, simply if it was to get people moving. We'd been getting ready to go for over an hour now. Granted, there were a lot people to get ready—Me, Sal, and our brood of kids. Angelo and his son Cole.
And, strangely enough, Officer Sam Brodsky. I hadn't expected him to want to go with us to find a Christmas tree.
We'd invited my parents along, but my mother had looked at me with such horror, I'd quickly said we'd go shopping at Bloomingdales later in the week instead.
My father had just chuckled and shook his head at me as if asking my mother to drive a couple hours out of the city to go hunt down the perfect Christmas tree was something I should have known my mother would freak over.
"Okay, everyone out to the cars."
"Can I ride with you?"
I glanced down at Cole, who stood next to Mikey. Ercole Delvecchio had grown so much since I first met him when he was a toddler. He was five now, the same age as Mikey, which made sense as they were best buds.
"Ask your dad and make sure it's okay with him."
Cole beamed up at me. "I already did and he said I had to ask you."
"Okay." I smiled. "If you ride with us, Mikey can ride with your dad."
Yes, I was evil.
"Oh." Cole's face fell.
"Or, you could both hurry out to the car before anyone else and make sure you get seats right next to each other."
Cole and Mikey were off like a shot.
Evil, but damn smart too.
That was two down.
Now, I just needed to figure out how to get the rest of them moving along.
I never realized just how much time I took to get ready to go anywhere until we adopted the twins. With babies in the house, there wasn't a lot of time to primp. I'd had to cut back on my daily beauty preparations.
Now, with six kids to get ready to go, I barely had time to pull a brush through my hair. I can't even remember the last time I'd spent more than a few minutes in front of the mirror, let alone went to a salon or spa.
It was a good thing Sal loved me.
"Lincoln, are you sure you don't want to go?"
I still couldn't believe we had Lincoln Thomas staying in our house. Having no idea who the man was, I'd googled him when we arrived home from our recent vacation to the Bahamas. I had been shocked at what I found.
Lincoln Thomas, lead singer for the band Trixx, was known worldwide. He'd won more awards than anyone I knew and was considered one of the top singers in his industry.
Unfortunately, as we had all recently learned, with that fame came a boatload of crap I wouldn't have wished on anyone. Lincoln had been betrayed by his manager then kidnapped and tortured by an insane fan who wanted to keep him all to herself. I had been shot in the ensuing chaos and several of my friends had been injured and kidnapped.
It hadn't been a fun vacation.
The man gave me a small wobbly smile. "No, I'm good. I'm just going to go back to the guesthouse and read a book or something."
What else could I say?
I winced as I watched the man's shoulders hunch as he walked away. Lincoln was damaged on a level I was well acquainted with. I'd been kidnapped, whipped, and tortured just like he had, only, I had Sal to love on me afterwards and chase my demons away. Lincoln had no one, which was why he was staying with us for the time being.
The man needed a place to heal.
"I've packed you enough food to keep the kids happy on the road."
I brightened as I took the small cooler from our new housekeeper and cook. "Thank you, Mrs. Martinez."
We had also brought her and her son back from the Bahamas. I'd taken my father's suggestion and hired the woman to work for us. We now had homemade food anytime we wanted it, day or not.
Her son, Dalton, was learning what it took to care for an estate in the city instead of a villa in the Bahamas, and going to the university the rest of the time.
Mrs. Martinez's eyes twinkled. "There's a cupcake in there for you too, dear."
I beamed. "Thank you, Mrs. Martinez."
For some reason I couldn't fathom, the older woman had taken a liking to me. I wasn't arguing. She made the best cupcakes.
"Have fun our your day out. I will have dinner on the table at seven."
I knew not to be late. Mrs. Martinez might cook like a dream and always have something around for us to munch on, but meals were set at very certain times.
After watching Mrs. Martinez walk away, I clapped my hands together and shouted, "The car is leaving in five minutes, with or without you."
I knew that wouldn't phase Emily as she didn't really want to go. She wanted to stay home and chat with her friends.
This was a family outing and we were all going.
"If you stay here, you'll be doing chores until we get back."
I smiled as five kids trudged past me and out the front door.
Worked every time.
My eyebrows lifted when I realized he was coming out of his office and not down the stairs from the bedroom, which was where he'd been the last time I'd seen him. "Trouble?"
"No, baby. I wanted to make sure Clarke knew I'd be unavailable for the rest of the weekend."
The corners of my mouth lifted. "Really?"
Sal stopped right in front of me. His hand curled around the side of my face. "I promised you an entire weekend to prepare for Christmas, didn't I?"
"Yeah." But I never thought it would actually happen.
"So, now Clarke knows not to call me." Sal's grin made my heart beat a little faster. "Even if the city burns down."
"Can you do that?"
I could hope.
Stormy believes the only thing sexier than a man in cowboy boots is two or three men in cowboy boots. She also believes in love at first sight, soul mates, true love, and happy endings.
You can usually find her cuddled in bed with a book in her hand and a puppy in her lap, or on her laptop, creating the next sexy man for one of her stories. Stormy welcomes comments from readers. You can find her website at www.stormyglenn.com.
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