Chapter no 38- GRAYSON

The Brothers Hawthorne

That night, Grayson dreamed of a labyrinth. He stood at the center, glass shards suspended in the air all around him. He couldn’t walk forward, couldn’t step back without one slicing into his flesh. In the shining surface of each shard, he saw an image.

The black opal ring. Avery. Emily. Eve. Gigi and Savannah—

Grayson bolted up in bed, a phantom fist locked around his lungs. He tossed back the covers and reached over to hit a switch on the wall. The shade covering the bedroom window slowly rose, revealing that the sun was high in the sky.

He’d slept late.

Grayson checked his phone. No updates on the old man’s List yet—and none from Gigi, for that matter. He considered reaching back out but fought the urge to do so. Patience was a virtue. He’d seen to it that she wouldn’t get anywhere with her search of any password-protected files. That gave him time.

Once he had a decoy key…

Once he had a more thorough understanding of the situation with the FBI…

Once Gigi was ready to hand over the files…

Then Grayson would make his next move. In the meantime, if his presence in Phoenix had caused Eve to pull her spy off the Grayson family and onto him—and the night before suggested that she had—all the better.



The next morning, as Grayson was swimming his twentieth lap in the hotel pool, Zabrowski finally got back in touch.

I’m here.

The time for waiting was over.

Grayson changed into dry clothes and walked to meet Zabrowski in an alley two blocks away. The first thing the PI did was hand over two envelopes, each containing one of the models Grayson had supplied and a matching metal key. Grayson inspected the keys, ensuring a visual match between the color of the metal Zabrowski’s contact had used and Gigi’s key.

Finding the keys suitable, he slipped them into his suit pocket and brought his gaze back to rest on Zabrowski’s.

“No luck on the paperwork for the twins’ trusts,” the man reported. “But I was able to get some answers about the investigation into Sheffield Grayson. They have him dead to rights on tax evasion and hiding significant streams of income offshore.”

“No wonder the IRS is freezing accounts. And the FBI?”

“Very interested in where some of that income came from,” Zabrowski replied. “It’s looking like embezzlement.”

“From his own company?”

“This is where it gets interesting. Turns out Sheffield Grayson only owned a thirty percent stake. His mother-in-law, who funded the thing, owned the rest.”

Grayson rolled that over in his mind and remembered something Gigi had said. “He sold the company right after the girls’ grandmother died. Assuming her interests in the company were included in one or more of the trusts she set up for her heirs, I’m guessing Sheffield Grayson was highly motivated to divest of the whole thing before the trustee started sniffing around.”

The trustee. Trowbridge. The pieces of this puzzle were starting to fit together in Grayson’s mind, but he didn’t have enough information to see the whole of it yet. “How hard are the feds pushing the investigation?”


“Have they had any luck locating him?” Grayson asked. That was as close as he could come to asking what he really wanted to know.

“None. Consensus seems to be that this guy is a slippery bastard.”

As long as Grayson made sure that stayed the consensus, Avery would

be fine. “Do you have anything else for me?” Grayson asked.

Zabrowski reached into his car and then handed a file to Grayson, who flipped it open to see a familiar face staring back. Dark eyes. That scar through the eyebrow.

“Mattias Slater,” Zabrowski said. “Goes by Slate. Record is squeaky-clean, but his father’s isn’t—long list of charges, but only one set ever stuck.”

Grayson skimmed through the file. “Expensive defense counsel,” he noted.

“Until,” Zabrowski said with a significant look, “that last set of felony charges.”

The ones that stuck, Grayson thought. He wondered if Mattias Slater’s father had worked for the Blake family—for Vincent Blake. If so, that would explain the expensive lawyers. Until he ran afoul of the boss?

“What do we know about Mattias?” Grayson asked. “Personally?” Zabrowski’s eyes narrowed. “In a day? Not much. His father’s dead.

Mother filed medical bankruptcy last year.”

Grayson thought back to his confrontation with Eve’s spy. You don’t want to know, Mattias Slater had said, what I’ve done.

“You want me to keep looking?” Zabrowski asked.

Grayson closed the file. “Prioritize the trust paperwork,” he told Zabrowski. “But yes.”



Grayson opened the door to the hotel lobby to find a very un-Haywood-Astyria scene in progress.

Gigi was standing on a wingback chair having a discussion with hotel security. “About yea tall,” she was saying, “prone to eyebrow arching, very fond of imperative sentences, blond and broody.”

“As you have already been informed by multiple parties, madam, we cannot provide information about guests.”

“Would it help if I described his super sharp cheekbones or did a comedic impression of some kind?” Gigi asked winningly.

Grayson decided to intervene. “No,” he said, striding to stand between

Gigi and the guard. “That would not help. Please get down from that chair.” “Eyebrow arch,” Gigi told the security guard in a deep, dramatic voice.

“Followed by an imperative sentence.”

Grayson could not help noticing the way the security guard’s lips twitched. “I’ll take it from here,” he told the man.

Gigi hopped off the chair and grinned. “Ask me what I’m doing here, Grayson.”

“What are you doing here?”

She rose up on her tiptoes. “We’re in!”

“The files?” Grayson didn’t show a hint of the surprise he felt. “The passwords?” He’d changed the passwords. She shouldn’t have gotten anywhere with those files.

“Useless!” Gigi replied happily. “I spent the whole day on them and got nowhere. Buuuuuuut.…” Gigi’s grin was broad enough to break her face. “Savannah found a fake ID hidden behind the electrical panel in the gym!” She practically vibrated with energy. “We know the name he used to open the box. We have the key. Next stop: the bank!”

Grayson thought about the duplicate key in his pocket and eyed the one around her neck. The clock was ticking now. He had to find a way to make the switch.

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