Home > True Luck (True Love #1)

True Luck (True Love #1)
Author: Anyta Sunday


Beer. Sweet and cool with a tangy aftertaste.

Life didn’t get better than this.

The last of the smooth liquid ran down Benjamin Otto’s throat. He shut his eyes and breathed in the lazy warmth of summer, tuning out the cacophony of his classmates chatting about their final politics tutorial and the jobs they’d landed over the three-month break.

Berlin Free University’s lawn cushioned Ben as he smiled and lay back. His summer plan was to relax outside, soaking in the sunshine and playing soccer with whomever he could.


Ben peeled his eyes open. His friend Marco was waving a phone in front of his face.

“Results are in,” Marco said and punched him on the shoulder. “Are you nervous?”

With a yawn, Ben sat up and rested his empty bottle at his side. Silence descended over his twelve classmates as they checked their phones with hopeful smiles pulling at their lips. Even Sebastian paused from reading The Theory of Everything Political and reached for his phone.

“Nervous?” Ben murmured and stretched. His Tepid Creek T-shirt rose over his waist, and he smoothed the soft material. “Not really.”

He’d taken a stab at the political essay competition to keep his younger brother company as he struggled through his homework. He’d even bribed Thomas to participate. An hour later, Ben had cranked out two thousand words. If he won, cool. If not, no skin off his nose.

Across the courtyard, Thomas charged toward them with a wicked grin. “Guys,” he called, waving his hand. “I scored a dozen half-price tickets to the Pine Breeze Festival this weekend. Who wants one?”

Pine Breeze rocked. He and Marco had snagged tickets months ago. They fist-bumped as the others fished through their bags for their wallets, cheers for Thomas filling the air.

Across the lawn, Sebastian was peeking inside his wallet. “I have to check my schedule. Pretty sure I’m busy,” he said to Thomas, slapping his wallet shut. His Adam’s apple jutted as he swallowed.

“You did it!” Marco said with a startling whoop. “You scored first place. That’s five hundred big ones. And Thomas as your bitch for an entire day.”

“Oh right,” Ben said, accepting Marco’s slap and thumping him harder in return. “Great.”

Congratulations trickled around him. “Thomas asked for it this time!” the group sweetheart, Elena, said and passed Ben another beer.

Thomas called out, “I saw him write the thing. Seriously, an hour of mad typing and he was done. No way should he have won this. He’s the luckiest guy on campus!”

Ben laughed and took a sip, glancing over the bottle at Sebastian who was frowning at his phone, dark bangs sweeping over one eye.

Ben swept his gaze to Thomas flashing the last of his tickets.

Quietly to Marco he said, “Why does Seb hate me?”

“He doesn’t hate you. He’s frustrated. Annoyed. And it’s understandable.”

“What do you mean?”

“Come on, man. He came in second. He’s always coming in second after you.”

“I mean, that sucks, but—”

“He probably needed the win more than you did,” Marco said, not looking at Sebastian. “Let him be upset. Now. How are you going to spend the prize?”

Ben took a long sip of beer. It didn’t taste smooth anymore. “I’m not sure yet,” he replied as an idea formed in his head. He jumped up and dumped the empty beer bottles in the open bin, then carried one to Thomas.

“Hey,” Ben said, gesturing him to the trunk of an oak where he leaned against the rough bark and drew his leather wallet out of his pocket.

“Here to gloat?” Thomas asked with a playful scowl.

“Here for tickets.”

Thomas eyed the wads of euros Ben was pulling out. “Don’t have that many tickets left.”

“Give back the cash everyone gave you. I’m paying for everyone’s tickets.” He pressed the money into Thomas’s hand and glanced over his shoulder at Sebastian, whose nose was stuck in a textbook. “Make sure everyone gets a ticket.”


* * *


Ben fist-bumped his nine-year-old brother Nico under the dinner table. With dirty-blond hair, gray eyes, and a straight nose, Nico was a younger version of Ben. “Top grades?” Ben said. “That’s ace.”

“Because you helped me.”

“No sweat.” Ben had merely rattled off a few comments about the ancient Egyptians.

Dad joined them at the head of the table, glancing at the empty space opposite him like he’d done every day since their mom left—almost three years now.

“How was your day, boys?” His manner was gruff, businesslike.

Ben straightened. The guy was a savvy, whip-smart businessman who didn’t dole out smiles often, but Ben knew how to weasel one out of him. “Last day of another successful semester. Used these lucky genes to cruise along and score top grades.”

He waited for the proud smile, but his dad only hummed.

“An essay I scribbled out in less than an hour won first place.”

Still no smile—if anything, his jaw hardened.

Ben shifted on his velvet-cushioned seat. Their dad took another forkful of schnitzel and stared at their mom’s old spot as he chewed. “You’ve natural talent, Ben, and I’m pleased you’re scoring top grades.”

Pleased? Why did Ben feel like a “but” was coming?

“But”—there it was—“I spoke to Anya today.”

“How’s France?” Ben asked. Usually they lived half at Dad’s, half at Mom’s, but their mother was away on business for six months. Ben had stayed with Dad and Nico rather than live it up in Paris. He could sunbathe and play soccer here as well as anywhere else.

Besides, his favorite festival was in Germany. And this year, his entire politics class would be there. He bit his lip on a smile. The summer would rock.

Dad’s chair scraped over the polished marble floor as he pushed back from the table and crossed his arms. “What are your plans for the break, son?”

Ben shook off the daydream of the festival and glanced at Nico, who shrugged. “I thought I’d stay in Berlin.”

“What will you do? What job will you take?”

“Job?” He laughed, cutting off when his dad blinked at him. Seriously? A job? They had more money than Dad could ever spend.

“Your mother and I spoke over the phone at length about your situation.”

“What situation?”

“You’re a fortunate kid. You’ve grown up without a care in the world. You had the best education. We’re paying for your studies and all the extras. You never have to wait for Christmas or your birthday. You get everything you want when you want it.”

“And I’m thankful for that—”

“But it’s time you learn what it means to earn your own way.”

“Sorry, what?”

“We should have taught you what it means to sacrifice. To take responsibility.”

Ben didn’t like the direction of this conversation. Promises of lazy mornings and sun-filled days dwindled with each beat of his heart. “Dad, I’m almost twenty. I’m an adult.”

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