Chapter no 56 – GRAYSON

The Brothers Hawthorne

Grayson didn’t so much as look at the pool after Eve left. Instead, he made his way back into the hotel, walked briskly to the elevator, hit the button for his floor, and waited for the doors to close. Once they did, a single muscle in his jaw ticked. The elevator lurched upward.

Grayson made it three floors before his hand lashed out and pulled the emergency stop button. The elevator jerked to a halt between floors. A high-pitched buzz began to sound.

Grayson’s fingers curled to fists at his sides. I am in control. He believed that. He was that. Still, he found himself slipping his phone from his pocket, pulling up the photo roll. Mechanically, he scrolled back past the photos he’d taken of Kent Trowbridge’s passwords and the safe-deposit box key. The next thing that greeted him was a shot of Jameson and Xander, each holding a roll of duct tape.

Nash’s bachelor party. Grayson let the memory wash over him, clearing his mind of everything else like a wave crashing onto sand. Tree house rules. Grayson’s lips ticked slightly upward, and he scrolled back farther. Most of the photographs he took were of objects, nature, or crowds—beauty in moments, captured just so: real, true, his.

Grayson stopped when he came to a picture of a hand on the hilt of a sword. A longsword. Avery’s hand.

Real, true, his. Not the way he had imagined or longed for once, but that didn’t make her matter any less, didn’t make what they did have matter less. If Eve thought she could get in Grayson Hawthorne’s head, if she thought she still had any hold over him—she was wrong.

Damn wrong.

Grayson palmed the phone and hit the emergency stop button with his free hand. The elevator jerked back into motion. I am in control.

The elevator made it to the top floor. The doors opened, and the second they did, Grayson was greeted by the view of Savannah sitting in the hallway outside the black-card suite, staring straight ahead. Her blonde hair was pulled into a tight braid—so tight he wondered if it hurt.

“You shouldn’t be here,” Grayson said quietly, closing the space between them.

“I’m getting really sick of should.” Savannah lifted her eyes to his. “I went to Duncan’s house after the bank. His father told me everything.”

Grayson was the very definition of steady. “I’m afraid I don’t know—”

“You do.” Savannah stood, and he realized that she wasn’t wearing heels. In flats, she stood like an athlete, shoulders squared, muscles ready.

“And what everything might that be?” Grayson prompted. Acacia hadn’t wanted her daughters to know about the family’s current situation. Trowbridge knew that.

“The FBI. The frozen accounts. Mom’s trust.” Savannah stared at him— didn’t narrow her eyes, didn’t glare, but he felt the power of that look all the same. “That was why you wanted to get into Dad’s safe-deposit box, wasn’t it? Evidence. At first, I thought you probably wanted him caught, charged, and convicted, but”—she arched a brow—“family first.”

He’d said those words back at the bank. “Exposing your father was never my intention,” Grayson said quietly.

“But you were looking for evidence,” Savannah countered, and then she paused, the first hint of uncertainty she’d shown. “So you could destroy it?”

Grayson could feel her trying to make this make sense, make him make sense. “Destroying evidence would be a felony.” Grayson let her read between the lines there, giving her nothing to use against him.

“It would,” Savannah agreed. She looked at him a moment longer, her pale eyes clear, and then she looked past him. After a moment, she seemed to come to a decision. “Family first.”

There was nothing mocking or prodding in Savannah’s tone this time.

She wasn’t questioning his priorities. She was stating her own.

“My mom isn’t strong enough to protect this family,” Savannah said, still not looking at him. “Gigi’s a kid.”

“You’re twins,” Grayson pointed out.

“Your point?” Savannah asked crisply, swinging her gaze back toward him. “Because mine is that we need to handle this.”

“We.” Grayson kept his voice neutral, but the fact that she’d decided that trusting him was the lesser of two evils hit Grayson like a blade slid between ribs. Betraying Gigi, who’d worn her heart on her sleeve from the moment he’d met her, was bad enough.

But Savannah? I should send her home to her mother.

KM—the letters on the back of the withdrawal slip, they aren’t initials.” Savannah looked smug. “After Duncan’s father told me everything, I went home. I got on Dad’s computer and pulled up his calendar, from right before he left.”

Grayson wondered what exactly she’d been looking for.

“Here.” Savannah held out her phone. She waited for him to take it, a silent battle of wills.

Grayson let her have this one. He took the phone. There was a photo pulled up on it, of a monthly calendar—presumably Sheffield Grayson’s.

“Tuesday night,” Savannah instructed. “Third Tuesday of the month.”

Grayson’s gaze went reflexively to the date. There were three events scheduled, but it was the last one that drew his attention: SVNNH GM.

“I had a game that night,” Savannah told him, her voice high and clear and steady in a way that told him she was working to keep it that way. “It was the last one he ever saw.”

Grayson registered the notation that Sheffield Grayson had used. He skimmed over the rest of the calendar and found a few other events written the same way.

“Savannah game.” His sister spelled it out for him, in case he’d missed


He hadn’t. “No vowels. KM isn’t mentioned on this calendar, but CC is.”

Not initials. A name written without the vowels. CC—Acacia. JLT— Juliet.”

“Which seems to suggest,” Savannah replied calmly, “that KM might be Kim or Kam. He only used that shorthand for family, but him using it for a mistress isn’t out of the question.”

Grayson shook his head. “It’s Kim, and she wasn’t his mistress.” He’d assigned Zabrowski to keep an eye on the girls and their mother—and the

rest of Sheffield Grayson’s family. “Kimberly Wright.” There was no spark of recognition in Savannah’s eyes. “Your aunt,” Grayson clarified. “Your father’s sister.”

Savannah saw to the core of that in an instant. “Colin’s mother.” She’d known about her cousin. She must have inferred there was an aunt or an uncle, but from Zabrowski’s reports, it didn’t appear there was much, if any, interaction between Kimberly Wright and the girls.

“Dad said she was an addict. He didn’t ever talk about her. Didn’t want her anywhere near us.”

“She’s sober now,” Grayson reported. “Her other children are adults.

They don’t seem to visit her much.”

If Savannah wondered how Grayson knew that, she didn’t give any visible sign of it. “It might be nothing,” she said. “The slips. KM. It might not matter. We should stop.”

But she’d already told him she was tired of should.

“I’ll look into it,” Grayson told her.

Savannah’s eyes narrowed. “Gigi still hadn’t come home when I left. Whatever this is—the withdrawal slips, whatever laws Dad may or may not have broken—Gigi doesn’t need to know.” Savannah’s light gray eyes locked on to his. “She doesn’t, but do.”

The sound of the elevator opening down the hall alerted Grayson to the fact that they had company. Xander stepped out, followed by Nash.

Nash was carrying a limp Gigi.

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