Dee Richards has never been anything special. She had normal, middle-class parents, grew up with 2 siblings who were all good at everything she wasn’t(which was basically everything), and she kept up average grades at school and never had more than a few friends. Even her job was as boring as it can get: call center employee for a not-so-fast internet service provider.
In fact, there were only two times she felt special in her whole 23 years of living. The first time was in 3rd grade when the school had to make safety announcements due to a scandalous run-in she had with an unsavory adult.
After the encounter, she was hounded by all the school kids asking her what happened. Some just wanted to share the ridiculous rumors that had spread since. Even one of the popular girls in the grade above had gone to her personally to hear the true story. “I heard someone say he offered you money for sex and you took the money and ran!” Ashley said. After the upper grader, who was in Dee’s multi-grade class, rattled off a list of other crazy stories she’d heard, Dee gave her the real story which was not nearly as outrageous; A man chased his dog near the playground, all of the kids flocked to watch the commotion, and once he had secured said dog he stopped to chat with the kids. Then Dee’s kind of sort of friend yelled out that it was Dee’s birthday. The man said he would give her a present and told Dee to close her eyes as he hid the gift. Once he left, Dee’s friend told her where it was hidden. The folder, which was later confiscated by the police, included intimate photos of the man with his girlfriend, about $7 in change, a rap cd, and other things Dee has since put out of her mind. Adding fuel to the rumors were flyers being passed around the school to give to parents. They explained the situation and provided safety advice for both parents and students. All the teachers were checking in with Dee nonstop. Her teacher made a special announcement during class one day. “As you may have heard, there was a scary incident recently that involved one of your fellow students.” Ashley glanced at Dee and they exchanged a quick smirk. “This is no laughing matter, Ms. Richards!” Mrs. Gerald scolded. But it did feel like a laughing matter to Dee. She hadn’t been hurt or scared during the “incident” but ever since she was getting so much attention. Even her parents were acting more attentive and came earlier to pick her up after school each day so she didn’t have to wait. Sadly, the attention did stop eventually, just one month later. She went back to being nearly invisible, no longer on anyone's mind.
The second time she felt special was in high school when, after a car accident, she had to be hospitalized for a bit and came back to school with an arm brace and a slight limp. The accident was described in the local newspaper letting everyone in the city know she was the victim of a drunk driver. The drunk driver had not been injured nor had her older brother, who was in the driver's seat of their vehicle. Dee only had to stay in the hospital for two days to make sure she didn’t have a concussion, but when she went back to school, everyone in her classes kept asking about her. All of her teachers told her she didn’t have to make up missed work, and her small group of friends had even bought her balloons and candy for her first day back. All the popular girls always got balloons for their birthdays and would walk around the school so everyone would see. So, Dee did the same but with her “Get Well” balloons. She knew she’d never get any on her actual birthday, February 12. Countless students stopped her throughout the day to see if she needed help with anything, ask how she was feeling, or talk about the crash. Her parents had reduced her chores and her brother, who felt somewhat responsible for the crash, stopped teasing her and offered to pay for her lunches at school. Once the limp got a bit better and the brace off, though, it was like she had all but vanished. Everyone went on with their daily lives and Dee now remembers little else of her high school days.
When she reflects on her life, which she rarely does because why bother, those are the only two moments that even stick out. Her days at work are now monotonous and the only time she feels even the slightest bit of excitement is when there is something new to try at the farmers’ market. At 23, she does not drink, party, rarely works out and up to this point has only dated one guy to whom she wasn’t even attracted.
Just when she realized just how hopeless she had become, she found a book about “making your own luck.” As she reads, she learns that so-called lucky people are usually lucky because they become more open to the idea that good things will come to them. In fact, they expect it. These are the people who seem to always find money in the most random places, get the jobs of their dreams, win contests and giveaways, etc. “You can’t win if you don’t play” is one of her favorite chapters. As she starts to implement the things she learns in the book, like making sure to always stay aware of her surroundings, she does notice her mood has been more pleasant than usual. She also smiles more, which wasn’t a suggestion in the book, but she heard it was a good trick to improve happiness.
One day, which in the past she would've call “Stupid Wednesday” because every day that she has to work is stupid, Dee notices a little black book by the entrance of the local library she always walks past on her way to the bus. She decides to do a good deed(she very much believes in karma now, too) and take it inside. As she stops to pick it up, she gasps. On the cover of the book, in gold embossed letters, she reads “For Dee Richards.” Her name isn’t all that unique so she decides it either belongs to someone else of the same name or it just happens to be the title. She picks it up and tries to skim through the pages, but it’s like they’re all stuck together. She tries and tries but gives up after a minute, realizing she still has to make her bus. While Dee starts to walk into the library, she sees that the front cover and first page are loose. She stops once again to try to get a look into the stylish black book. The first page is blank, but the second page says “Please understand you are one of a kind.” Dee rolls her eyes and continues reading. “Dee Richards, ever since you were born on February 12, 1997, you have been destined for greatness.” She hitches her breath and reads on. “If you follow the instructions in this manual, everything will get better" Once Dee notices a librarian eyeing her, she quickly rushes out to continue reading. It tells her to check the next page the next day and to read one page each day after that. No matter how much she tries to pry the pages together, she cannot.
Once at work, all she can think about is the book. It must be a joke, or maybe she imagined it all. After the longest day of answering dumb questions and getting yelled at by customers, she finally can go home. Still no luck on the book but she's tired so it doesn't affect her sleep that night. In the morning, though, the first thing she does is grab it from her bedside to check. She wiggles it around and sees that one more page is loose. She reads, "16 7 5 28 29 57 13, purchase a Powerball ticket with these numbers for tonight's draw." Not much of a gambler, she snorts at the idea but she looks up to see what the prize would be if she won. $70 million. She buys her ticket the next morning then all but forgets about it until she's back at home after work. The time of the draw is still hours away, so she cleans. Then she cleans again to make sure everything is perfect. Then she cooks and she cooks more food than any single person would need for a week. After finishing her second batch of orange blueberry muffins, she wipes her brow and decides to take a break. She opens her laptop to see the winning numbers are about to be announced and grabs her ticket. She knows she won't win anything but still feels a curious excitement rouse through her. As the numbers are read aloud, she follows along with her ticket. "16 7 5 28 29 57 13," the same numbers on her ticket in the same order. Not sure if she faints, time goes slow and fast at the same time, her breathing sped up. Once she recovers(about 5 minutes from the announcement according to the clock), she opens the book which she had sat right next to her. It gave instructions on what to do over the following days; 1. Get a lawyer to accept the win on her behalf 2. Give her parents and siblings the amount of money she feels she should 3. Donate $10 million to a charity of her choice. 4. Buy a house of her choosing 5. Never mention the book to anyone.
She follows the instructions to a tee over the next month. The lawyer she chose was kind and provided anonymity by collecting the funds for her. Her parents were given $10 million, her siblings $1 million each and she asked they all keep the fact that she won to themselves. They obliged and were suddenly very loving towards her. She took it for what it was but did not want to break ties with them. She donated $10 million to Make a Wish because she had always admired their cause. She bought a $5 million house on the beach in Malibu. After taxes, that left her with around $24 million.
Pages in the book continue to open up during the next few months. It gives her names of people to trust and hire, after all, she'll need a staff to keep up her home and children's counseling business she started. Her life suddenly feels exciting and worthwhile.
She gets frustrated one day when the book refuses to open. There are still a few closed pages that she knows must be important. After a week or two of desperate attempts to separate the pages, she gives up. About two months from the last time it opened, she starts working from home, the book out of her mind. She loves her ocean view and her assistants can help with whatever she misses at the office. Today, though, she does feel that she needs a work break and starts making pad thai, her new favorite dish, from scratch.
Hearing a knock on the door, Dee goes to answer. When she opens the door, the most gorgeous man she's ever seen is waiting for her. He smiles at her but doesn't say anything. "Oh," Dee starts. You must have the wrong house." Then she notices what he's holding gingerly in his hands: a small, black book with gold lettering that reads Ryan Matthews on the cover. Seeing her mouth agape, he tells her "No, I think I'm exactly where I'm meant to be."