Chapter no 13 – JAMESON

The Brothers Hawthorne

Slowly, the sound of Ian’s footsteps receded. Oren appeared in the doorway and gave Avery a nod. They were alone. Jameson looked up at the crypt’s soaring ceilings, allowing his mind to sort through potential next moves. Then he looked back at Avery. “Feel up to making a call?”

Avery knew exactly which call he meant. They exited the crypt, and she pulled the trigger. “Alisa? You know that event you were trying to talk me into? I’ve had a change of heart. It would be good for the foundation for me to see and be seen while I’m in London.”

Alisa Ortega was Avery’s lawyer—and the foundation’s. In reality, Alisa’s services extended far beyond legal matters. She was part publicist, part fixer, wholly terrifying.

When Avery hung up the phone, Jameson brought his gaze to hers. “Dare I even ask?”

If Alisa had a social event she wanted Avery to attend, it was sure to be a prominent one. The kind, Jameson thought, that attracts the rich, the powerful, the connected, the famous.

Avery sauntered up to Jameson, a distinctly heads or tails look in her eye—and then she brushed past him. “Come on, Hawthorne,” she called back over her shoulder. “What’s life without surprise?”



Wherever they were going, it apparently had a dress code. A very formal one. Jameson put on the long-tailed navy morning jacket Alisa’s people had

provided and examined the fit of his pale-green waistcoat. Turning his attention to the three top hats he’d been given to choose from, Jameson felt a familiar buzz of energy humming beneath his skin.

Step one, get the Proprietor’s attention. The more impossible the challenge laid before him, the more it brought the world into magnificent focus.

“I’d go for the hat on the left,” Nash drawled behind him. “Nice sheen.”

Jameson glanced back at his brother. “You wouldn’t go for any of them.” Formal wasn’t exactly the oldest Hawthorne brother’s style.

“I’m not you,” Nash replied. The words were plain enough, but Jameson heard layers of meaning buried there—and ignored them. Unfortunately, Nash wasn’t one to be ignored. “I met Jake Nash and walked away just fine,” he said quietly. “But you’re not me, Jamie.”

Jameson’s eyes narrowed. “I take it Avery told you about Ian.”

“It’s real cute,” Nash replied, “that you think I need anyone’s help keepin’ tabs on you.” Hazel eyes ringed in amber met Jameson’s green ones, head on.

Jameson looked away. “Blood doesn’t make family. I have Avery. I have all of you. I don’t need anything else.” Setting his jaw, Jameson turned his attention back to the top hats and chose the one on the left. “You’re right,” he told Nash. “Nice sheen.”

This conversation is over. Jameson sauntered past, daring Nash to say one more thing, and made his way to the dressing room. The twin doors were already opened a crack. Jameson knocked, pushing one door inward. He saw the stylists first, then Avery, and once he saw Avery, it was like he couldn’t see anything else.

They’d styled her in white lace. The dress looked modest at first glance: It fell below her knee, came up nearly to her collarbone, and had sleeves that covered her from shoulder to elbow. But the fit. Jameson knew her body—every inch of it—but if he hadn’t, that dress would have had him wanting to, dying to. The tailored fabric showed the swell of her chest, the exact location of the smallest part of her waist. A thick black belt split the top half of the dress from the bottom—and that part wasn’t exactly loose, either.

There was just enough left to the imagination to make Jameson want to imagine it. The way her hair had been swept back from her face made her

neck look long and graceful. Inviting.

Who am I, Jameson thought, to turn down an invitation?

“And finally…,” one of the stylists said, holding out an imperious hand. The other stylist placed a hat in it: white, with a wide, asymmetrical brim and a black rose, its petals kissed with tiny jewels, attached to the underside. Pinned in place, the hat sat on Avery’s head at angle, the sparkling black rose drawing the gaze to her eyes.

“Figured out where we’re going yet?” Avery said.

Jameson held out a hand and waited for her to take it. He anticipated her touch, then felt it through every inch of his body when the pads of her fingers brushed his palm, electric.

This was the beginning.

“Are we, by any chance,” he said, answering her challenge, “off to the races?”

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