Lotto Lucy

Lotto Lucy Book CoversBook #3 of The James Bay Novel Series

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Winning the lottery: $70 million dollars.
Mending family relationships: PRICELESS.

When small town reporter Lucy Carter wins the lottery, good fortune seems guaranteed. But even $70 million in cold hard cash can’t buy Lucy a way out of some cold hard facts. No amount of money will buy back her Grandma’s mind. Nor buy Lucy a reprieve from her estranged mother Lila, who insists she moved back to town merely to keep an eye out for Lucy. Or is it Lucy’s money that Lila has her eye on instead? When an auto accident forces mother and daughter to live under one roof, even a luxurious 4,000 square foot condo seems like a tiny bungalow. And Lucy’s got her hands full with a whole new set of problems she never expected.

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“AWESOME read. The characters came alive all through the book. Definitely a 5 star book!”: (Amazon Reader Review)

“This book has a lot more than just a good romantic story going for it. Paterka writes great characters and definitely knows how to capture a good conversation.” – Meg, A Bookish Affair

“Paterka has a way of incorporating great writing, romance, relationships, and even a bit of mystery into her books, and leaves you wanting more!” (Amazon Reader Review)



“This won’t take long,” I say. “Make yourself at home.”

He glances around. “Nice place.”

“Little place,” I correct him. His loop around the tiny living room lasts exactly thirty seconds. Sagging couch, slip-covered armchair, creaky rocker. Vintage Grandma’s house. I scan the end table next to the rocker, fish through the magazines stored in the basket beneath, then scowl. Where did I put that stupid ticket?

“Wow, look at that view. James Bay and Lake Michigan, right across the street.”

The sight of Max in front of the window, rubbernecking like a tourist, puts the smile back on my face. I picked this apartment solely for the view. Sparkling blue waters, evening sunsets. “You know what they say,” I remind him. “A view of the bay is half the pay.” And my checking account is living proof.

Max sticks his hands in his pockets and throws me an expectant look. “Want some help trying to find whatever it is you’re looking for?”

I glance at my bedroom door, then back at Max. “Let me check one more place.”

He picks up a copy of yesterday’s Journal. “Sure. Take your time.”

I slip from the room as he settles in Grandma’s rocker. Five minutes, I promise myself, and then I’m giving up. No use wasting my time, or Max’s, either. I’ve got a feeling that ticket is long gone. I tear through my bedroom, jerk open the closet door and search the shelves. Nada. I sink on my knees and peer under the bed. Nothing, save for a thriving population of dust bunnies plus a paperback romance novel that went missing months ago. I fish it out and slap it on the nightstand, then turn to my dresser and paw through the drawers.

“Everything okay in there?” Max’s voice is muffled through the bedroom door.

“I’ll be right out,” I yell, hands on hips. The last thing I need is him in my bedroom, especially in its semi-disheveled mess. I yank open the last drawer and woefully stare at the meager heap of lingerie. If thinking about money can drive a person insane, then I’ve gone certifiable. Never in a million years would I have tucked that lottery ticket in my bras.

“Need any help?” he calls.

“No!” I slam the drawer shut and take one last glance around the room. Four walls, a double bed, rubber boots in the box. As usual, everything neat and tidy. Unlike my purse…

I spin around so fast, it makes me lightheaded. I blink, breathe, and take in the sight of my duffel-bag purse on the bottom of the closet floor, still in the exact same spot where I dropped it the other day after switching bags. I grab it, flop down on the bed, and upend the purse on top of the pink chenille bedspread, digging through the mess. Comb, notepad, gas station receipt. I draw in a sharp breath. Tucked between a wad of clean loose Kleenex is the missing lottery ticket.

My heartbeat pounds a drum roll in my ears as I pinch the ticket between my thumb and forefinger and hold it up for scrutiny. The numbers two and four swim before my eyes. Were those two numbers on the winning ticket? Easy enough to find out. The lottery printout is in my pocket.

The ticket vibrates slightly between my fingers, and something about it suddenly has me spooked. I hold it at arm’s length. What are the odds? How many people match one number, or even two? Millions of people play the Big Game. Millions of people expect to win.

How many of those millions shop at Pete’s?

I head into the living room, pinching the ticket gingerly between two fingers. My heart is racing so fast, it feels like it might explode out of my chest and shoot through the window straight into James Bay. I clear my throat and stand before Max. “Do me a favor?”

He throws the Journal aside. “Sure.”

I tug the printout from my pocket and hand it to him, praying he won’t notice my hand is trembling. “Would you read the numbers to me?”

“The lottery?” His eyebrows lift. “Funny, I didn’t peg you as the gambling type.”

Sweat beads pop on my upper lip. Max can think what he wants. Right now, the only thing I care about is eliminating myself from the pool of potential lottery winners.

“Two, four, six.”

My hand shakes. The first three numbers are a match.

He glances up with a quick smile. “Got a winner yet?”

“Just read the numbers.” The words come out sharper than I intended, and I bite my lip. “Sorry. I didn’t mean…” I sigh, shake my head. “Please, Max? It’s important.”

“Sure.” He frowns slightly, his voice drops. “Twelve, thirty.”

There’s no need for him to finish. I already know what that last number is. Inside I’ve gone cold and clammy, like I’ve climbed outside my own skin and am floating high above the room. Hovering. Hallucinating. No way this can be for real. No way.

“The mega ball number is thirteen.” My voice sounds tinny and far away to my ears.

“How did you know?” His voice hits the right note of incredulity, perfectly in tune with the queasy feeling in my gut.

It’s me. I’m the one. I won the lottery.

Seventy million dollars.

No more wondering who the lucky winner is. No more wondering who I’ll interview for the Journal’s front page tomorrow.

I can interview me.

“Lucy, you okay? You look a little funny.”

The room is hot and dry and suddenly I can’t breathe. “I don’t know. I feel like… I think I’m going to be sick.”

“Sit down,” he orders. “Put your head between your knees.”

I’m vaguely aware of Max’s hand on my elbow, guiding me backward to the couch. I sink into the cushions. A broken spring pops to life and hits me under my hip. My stomach opens in a yawn as I bend forward. The winning ticket flutters out of my fingers and settles on the floor. I blink and stare at the scrap of paper nestled against my shoe.

A wrinkled slip of paper worth seventy million dollars.

Nausea and disbelief collide midpoint between my stomach and brain and rush to my throat.

“Breathe through your mouth.” Max crouches beside me and grips my knee. “Drink this. Slowly.”

I sip the cool water. Max must be a magician, for he’s produced a glass of water out of nowhere. I blink and finally recognize the plastic tumbler is from my kitchen cupboard.

“Lucy? You going to be okay?”

Am I okay? His question would have me doubled over with laughter if I wasn’t already sitting with my head between my knees. Poor Max. He has no clue. Nothing in my life will ever be okay again.

“So, I guess you won?” He picks up the ticket and hands it to me without eyeing it. “From the look on your face, it must be a lot of money. How much? Ten thousand?”

I’ve never been good at math. How many times do you multiply seven times ten in order to come up with seventy million dollars? Seventy? Seven hundred? Seven thousand? “Obviously you haven’t read today’s Journal,” I manage to choke out.

“Nope.” He rubs the back of his neck and stares. “Why? Something happen I should know about?”

The irony isn’t lost on me. I’m with the one person in town who hasn’t the slightest clue. I swallow bile rising in the back of my throat. “You’ll find today’s Journal in my bag. Out on the kitchen table.”

Max frowns as he comes to his feet. “Which article am I supposed to read?”

“Start with the front page,” I croak, rubbing my forehead as I say the words. I wish everything could stay the same. The minute he reads it, he’ll understand, and everything will change. Money changes things. It changes people. And I don’t want money changing the way he looks at me.

Max is a quick reader. He’s back, mouth open, eyes wide with disbelief.

“Any questions?” I ask weakly.

He shakes his head silently, still staring at me.

“Good, because I’ve got one for you,” I say, stumbling to my feet. If I’m going to be sick, better it happens in the bathroom than on the living-room carpet. “What exactly do I do now?”



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