“A helipad or a landing strip,” Tyler asked, his thin face scrunched in thought.
“Neither,” said Annabelle, glancing down the street at a woman pleading with a parking attendant. “I don’t want the noise. You’ll need a boat.”
They were talking about the island again. They did that a lot, especially on nights like this, when the numbers for a big PlumBall jackpot were about to be announced.
When they finally hit the big one, they’d promised to buy a whole island. Not a big one. Something manageable—a few dozen acres out in the tropics. A little slice of paradise where you could suck down as much sweet, sticky mango flesh as you wanted and stroll lazy and happy across the white sugar sand beach before plunging into gin-clear water.
You could easily pick up something like that for §50 or §60 mil if the internet was to be believed.
At a whopping §363 million, tonight’s jackpot would be more than enough for the island and the dream home that would be perched in the emerald scrub, studded with queen palms, buttonwood shrubs and banana trees.
The island was born the day Tyler and Anabelle met, 14 years ago, as interns for a leather goods company, assigned to purchase tickets for the company pool.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m buying an island,” Tyler had said by way of introduction, his freckled face growing hot as he talked to his secret office crush.
“That doesn’t sound half bad,” Annabelle replied, the corners of her mouth curling up. “Maybe I’ll join you. If we go in together, we can get one twice as big.”
They didn’t win, but since then Annabelle had joined Tyler in a big way. There was the country wedding—island themed—as well as the house, the dog, Coconut, and of course, their 6-year-old twins, Jack and Minnie.
Each month, Tyler dutifully let the computer pick out 40 or 50 PlumBall tickets and they tried their luck. They could afford it now. Annabelle had a thriving interior design practice and Tyler was a hotshot marketing exec. For him, it was all a bit of fun, a dream of a better life, if such a thing were possible.
For Annabelle, it ran deeper. On the day her father, Jack, had died, he’d asked her to bring the paper so he could check his numbers from his sickbed. Each week, she still played them for his sake, that secret recipe of important family dates he’d sworn was lucky.
Halfway down the street, Tyler stopped near the woman who was pleading earlier. She was looking away, crying into her phone near three kids. Her car was stalled and there was a parking ticket on the windshield.
Annabelle shot Tyler a look of sympathy.
Then his phone chimed. The numbers were in.
Tyler called them out and zipped his eyes down his tickets.
“17.” Annabelle’s sister’s birthday, Jan. 7.
“24.” Her parents’ anniversary.
“47. 52.” Her dad’s birth year, and her mom’s.
“And PlumBall 66.” D-Day, when her great grandfather was killed.
They stared at each other for a long while. Unbelievable—5 out of 6! On Jack’s lucky ticket! It wasn’t the jackpot, but it was good enough for a cool §50k.
Annabelle smiled at Tyler, who just nodded.
She took out the small square of paper, worth as much as a luxury car, scrawled a smiley face on it and slipped it into the envelope with the woman’s parking ticket.
“We’ll need a motorboat then—for the island,” Tyler said.
Annabelle nodded. “Definitely a motorboat.”