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- Single Mom
- Military Romance
- Chosen Family
- She Has a Stalker
- Romantic Suspense
- Multicultural Romance
Meena thinks that she has it made when she wins the lotto with her five closest friends. They have big plans and she's thrilled with the chance to spend more time with her three-year-old son, Deven and create her one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. But then the emails start coming.
Her new pen pal is totally devoted, and totally freaking her out. She already gets recognized for winning the lotto, and this makes her even more paranoid about going out in public.
Army Paratrooper Kaleb Muller is thrilled when he runs into Meena while he’s off his Army base running errands in Leavenworth. He tells himself he just wants to make sure his best friend’s widow is okay, but when he spends time with her and Deven, he realizes the feelings for her that he had been trying to ignore are still there. When he learns about the stalker, he’s determined to help. If he can get to her see him as more than a friend along the way, all the better.
Read an Excerpt
Read an Excerpt
Who knew becoming a millionaire would be such a pain? Meena slid on her sunglasses and ball cap, feeling like one of those TV stars that had to disguise themselves to get a little privacy when they went out to get a burger. She had known when she stood for photographs with the other winners that her life was about to change. She hadn’t realized that along with the freedom to pursue her passions instead of working a drudge job, she would also feel like she was living in a fish bowl.
It had been five months and she still got questions from people at the store, phone calls and letters from people asking for donations, and the occasional reporter trying to reach her for an interview. Also, she had to look over her shoulder every time she went outside, wondering if someone was going to pop out from around a corner, thanks to the strange emails she had been getting for the past month.
Five emails in total, unsigned and from a strange email address. All professing love and written in haiku.
It was creepy.
She knew the other women who had shared her ticket had similar problems regarding the media—it was an extra reason she was grateful they had decided to stick together, and even more reason that they were all anxious to finally be moving into their new apartments that week.
The frigid January wind seemed to find every possible opening in her coat as she exited the children’s clothing store in the strip mall. One of the female customers had whispered to her companion while they both darted looks in Meena’s direction. Her lack of privacy had been worsened by the posters with their picture on them that had been posted around town at all the lottery tickets sale locations the previous summer. Thankfully they had started disappearing from windows before Christmas, so she wasn’t getting recognized as often. These ladies must have really good memories.
She thought, not for the first time, that what she really wanted was to go back on the cruise ship and the balmy Caribbean weather they had enjoyed a few weeks ago. Maybe it would have been more practical to upgrade her car first and take the cruise second, but they had all needed to get away. No one there had known who she or her shelter sisters were, and the only attention she received from guys was because they liked the way she looked, not the size of her wallet. Sadly, she couldn’t be sure that was the case with any of the men who hit on her in Crystal Creek, Kansas.
She didn’t need to buy Deven new clothes desperately enough to deal with pointing and whispers today. Maybe Dierdre had the right idea with shopping online. They were moving tomorrow to their new building and new clothes would just be more to pack, anyway. Right? So much for taking a couple of hours away to run errands and unwind.
Getting into her beat-up, but still functional car—she would look at upgrading when she knew how much their building renovations was going to eat up from her winnings and they were sure there weren’t going to be any major surprises from the tax man—Meena headed to the U-Haul office to pick up more boxes, and then back home to finish preparing for the move. Might as well get it out of the way.
She wrinkled her nose as she walked down the musty hallway, but smiled when Andrea opened her door. Until she spoke.
“Apparently there’s a new commercial starring us that just came out. Dierdre saw it earlier today. Do you have more boxes you need brought up?”
“This is all I bought this time—nearly done. I picked up a few extra in case anyone else needs some.” She shifted the boxes to get a better grip. “I guess the new commercial explains why I was recognized at the kid’s store. I’ve always loved people who point and stare, it makes me feel so special.”
Andrea smiled, knowing exactly how annoying it was. “Could be they just don’t see an Indian beauty often enough here in the land of the whites.”
Meena just chuckled. “Do you guys need any boxes?”
“One more should do me. Sheila could probably use a couple too.” Andrea adjusted the vibrant cloth she had used to tie back her tight black curls so they wouldn’t get coated with dirt in the packing. A smudge of dust ran across her rich brown skin. “I just heard from the cleaning crew—our apartments are ready. They’re finishing up your new office and we’ll be good to go. They’ll be here by eleven tomorrow to clean out the ones here once our stuff is out.”
“Okay, so I was just thinking that being recognized everywhere is a major pain, but seriously, being able to hire someone else to do that deep cleaning is a nice perk.”
“You’re telling me.” Andrea took the three boxes Meena had peeled away from the rest. “Let me know if you need more help with the last of your things.”
A man walked past them, eying them both with the strange distrust that several of their neighbors had shown since they won the American Lotto.
“Will do. I’m seriously ready to get out of here.” Meena hoisted up the stack of boxes again and headed down three more doors to her apartment.
“Oh, good. I just used the last one. Deven’s still sleeping.” Bennett had her blond curls pulled back in a ponytail that made her look more like eighteen than twenty-four and wore an older gray tee that read “If You Believe In Telekinesis Please Raise My Hand.”
“I guess playing the packing game before I left wore him out,” Meena said.
“Andrea said we could bring him over later if we need to. Also, did you get Dierdre’s text? She’s hosting dinner tonight.” They had taken turns making dinner the past few days so everyone could pack, and so they had an excuse to get together to talk logistics and get construction updates on their new building.
“What do you want done with your meditation corner?” Bennett pointed to the praying hands, lotus blossoms, and small statue of Krishna that Meena sat in front of to meditate every morning and night—one of the Indian traditions she had taken with her when her parents disowned her.
“I’ll pack them in the morning after meditation. I saved a smaller box under my pillow for that.”
“Ah, I wondered why you were hoarding that.”
The two of them couldn’t look any different—Bennett was compact and curvy with shoulder-length blond curls, peaches and cream skin, and green eyes. Meena was tall and thin with almost no curves—well, a few more since having Deven—and the dark hair, eyes, and complexion of her Indian ancestors. They even had different belief systems, but they couldn’t be closer if they were sisters by blood.
“Andrea said we’re starring in a new lotto commercial, which explains the renewed pointing and staring I experienced today.” Meena opened an upper cupboard and packed the end of their food, except for some breakfast bars for the next morning.
“Face it, you’re gorgeous and you stand out. People would point and stare anyway.”
An alarm went off on Bennett’s phone. “School’s out soon. My turn to pick up the girls. Be back. Think of me as you dig through the summer clothes closet next.”
“Right.” Somehow their off-season items always managed to get mixed together, which wasn’t a major problem when they lived in the same apartment, but they would be getting their own the next day, so sorting was a must. Of course, since they would be next door to each other, it wouldn’t exactly be difficult to return items if they were packed in the wrong box.
“Mommy, I’m hungry.” Deven called from their shared room. She smiled as she realized she wouldn’t have to share a bed or even a bedroom with her son anymore after that night. Luxury.
Okay, maybe being a millionaire wasn’t so bad.