Chapter 7

*ting* *ting* *ting* *ting*

Chris stood in front of the fireplace and tapped on his glass with a spoon. “Can I have everyone’s attention?”

Tom usually had the initiative to say what everyone was thinking, and this was no exception. “We were all already looking at you; you’ve just been standing in front of the fire staring at us.”

“Ah, yes. Right. Well, now that I have your attention–”

“You had our attention half an hour ago when you climbed up on the hearth–”

Now that I have your attention, I’d like to tell you why I invited you all here.”

You know how on Wheel of Fortune, after someone correctly solves the Bonus Round puzzle, right before Pat opens the envelope to show what the contestant has won, there’s that moment of tense silent excitement? This was exactly like that, except with no envelope or Vanna White.

“What?” Jake leaned in like he had missed something.

“Huh?”

“What did you say about Wheel of Fortune?”

“Oh, was that out loud? I was just thinking about how, you know on Wheel of Fortune, after someone correctly solves the Bonus Round puzzle, right before Pat–”

Chris’s sister Ivy, who has not yet been introduced to the reader, couldn’t take this. “Pleeeease tell us what’s going on. If I don’t find out soon, I’m going to die.” That would be especially unfortunate, as Ivy has an as-of-yet unnamed husband and an indeterminate number of children in this book.

“Well, don’t die. I said this would be life-changing, but not like that. Do you remember a few months ago, when the Powerb–”

Katherine interrupted: “Shouldn’t we wait for Henry to get here?”

“No, Henry’s not going to be coming, so we can get started. Do you remember a few months ago, when the Powerb–”

Katherine again: “Why couldn’t he come?”

“It’s not that he couldn’t come; he just chose not to. He didn’t want to. That’s his decision. Now, do you remember a few months ago, when the Powerb–”

♫ MONEY MONEY MONEY MONNNNAAY. MUH-NAY! ♫ The instantly-recognizable opening chorus of the O’Jay’s For The Love of Money blared through the house’s speaker system.

“Gabriel!” Chris stretched out to see into the kitchen where Gabriel was supposed to be waiting for the signal. “Not yet! You’re supposed to wait for the signal!” ♫ MONEY MONEY MONEY MONNNNAAY. MUH-NAY! ♫

Gabriel’s voice floated out from somewhere behind the counter where an iPod was hooked up to the house sound system. “You told me I was supposed to press it when you said ‘Guess who won!'”

♫ MONEY MONEY MONEY MONNNNAAY. MUH-NAY! ♫

“But I didn’t say ‘Guess who won!'”

“I thought I heard you say ‘Guess who won!'”

♫ MONEY MONEY MONEY MONNNNAAY. MUH-NAY! ♫

“No, not yet. Shut it off so I can finish!”

Silence.

“Should I still wait for you to say ‘Guess who won!’?”

Chris thought for a second. “Yeah, still wait for it. But make sure you hear me say it. Actually, no, I’ll point at you. Do it when I point at you instead.”

Chris’s dad spoke up. “Guess who won what?”

“Whew, it’s getting hot up here.” It was. He was standing directly in front of a fire, duh. “I would have chosen a different place to stand if I knew this was going to take so long.”

“Come on! Tell us what you won!” Someone shouted this. It doesn’t matter who.

“Ok, ok. So, a few months ago, I did win– I mean we,” (he gestured to Christina, sitting on the floor near a sleeping Gideon), “we won something pretty great.”

Jake spoke up in a serious tone. “Was it ‘money money money monnnnaaay’?” Classic Jake.

“Actually, yeah. We won some money, and we invited you all here to celebrate.”

Christina’s mom Ann finally spoke. “Is that how you were able to rent this house? You must have had to spend a lot of it to rent this house. I hope you didn’t spend it all just to rent this house. We could have celebrated out at my place.” Silent expectant faces stared up at him from the cozy cabin room.

“Well, uh, I didn’t rent this house. I bought it.”

It’s a good thing that Ann was sitting on an antique fainting couch, because she antique fainted at the very thought. The rest of the previously silent expectant faces were now a cacophony of not-silent faces as twenty people all started asking questions at the same time, with more than a few of them mentally jumping to correct conclusions.

Maggie’s voice rose above the rest: “Exactly how much money did you win??”

Finally time to point to Gabriel. “Six-hundred million dollars?”

♫ MONEY MONEY MONEY MONNNNAAY. MUH-NAY! ♫

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