Chapter no 71 – GRAYSON

The Brothers Hawthorne

Savannah drove in silence, and the rest of them rode the same way until Xander, who was sitting in the front passenger seat with the reassembled puzzle box on his lap, couldn’t take the quiet anymore. “Knock, knock.” He rapped against the box’s lid.

“Who’s there?” Gigi chimed from the back seat. “Scone.”

“Scone who?”

“As it turns out, it’s surprisingly difficult to make up knock-knock jokes on the spot.” Xander paused. “Wait! I’ve got it! Knock, knock!” He rapped on the box again.

“Don’t break anything,” Savannah ordered without ever taking her eyes off the road.

“Generally speaking,” Xander responded, “I excel at dealing with things

—and people—that need to be handled with care. And on that note…” He turned to glance back at Grayson. “Jamie didn’t answer when I called. His phone didn’t even ring. And it appears that Oren and his team may have lost track of our dynamic duo.”

Grayson allowed his eyes to narrow. “Oren doesn’t lose track of Avery.” “It’s not so much that Oren doesn’t know where she is,” Xander

admitted, “as it seems to be that he has been forbidden from following her. Curiouser and curiouser, am I right?”

Grayson recognized an attempt at distraction when he saw one.

“Who’s Oren?” Gigi took the bait—but not for long. “And while I’m asking questions, Grayson, what do you think Dad meant by that whole

‘Hawthornes are going to get theirs’ thing?”

That question tread dangerously close to the reason that Grayson was here, the reason that he was already sorting through possible maneuvers to get that box away from Gigi and Savannah for long enough to open it and do damage control on whatever was inside. No matter how much he hated having to betray them all over again.

Whether you want to do something, Grayson, is immaterial to whether or not it needs to be done.

“I have some thoughts to share with the class,” Xander volunteered, cheerfully diving on the live bomb of Gigi’s question. “A lot of people hated our grandfather. It was kind of his thing—that and painstakingly creating the perfect heirs even though he always intended to disinherit us. Those were really his two things.”

Grayson followed up Xander’s buoyant, stream-of-consciousness reply with one of his own. “Based on the only conversation I ever had with our father, I have reason to believe that I was conceived because Sheffield Grayson hated my grandfather. Sleeping with his daughter, getting her pregnant, abandoning her—and me…” Grayson swallowed. “That was the Hawthornes getting theirs.”

Sometimes, the easiest way to lie was to tell the truth.

“Then why did he keep all of those pictures of you?” Gigi asked.

Why even have them taken? That question crept into Grayson’s conscious mind from where it had been circling in his subconscious.

“Forget the photographs,” Savannah said curtly. “And our aunt. We need to focus on—”

“Sorry to interject, darlin’,” Nash cut in. “But we have a problem.”

Grayson turned his head toward the window on Nash’s side and took in the scene at the Grayson household. There were cars in the driveway, cars on the street. Black, unmarked.

FBI. Grayson’s initial read was confirmed the instant he saw the men in suits on the driveway.

“Savannah, put the car in park here.” The order was out of Grayson’s mouth before he’d even finalized the thought. They were still two houses away—outside the circumference of any search warrant. “Good,” Grayson said, when Savannah did as she was told. “Now climb into the back seat. Xander—”

“Driver’s seat,” Xander replied automatically. “Got it.”

Grayson looked to Nash. “Can you squeeze up front without getting out of the car?”

Nash took off his cowboy hat and eyed the space over the center console.

“Nash is remarkably flexible,” Xander called back. “I have faith.” Savannah still hadn’t unbuckled. “Why would I—”

“Just do as I say,” Grayson told her, and it occurred to him, when she went very still, that he might have sounded like their father.

Savannah unbuckled and started scooting back over the center console.

One very cramped game of musical chairs later, Grayson continued issuing orders. “Nash, make sure the puzzle box stays out of view. Find something to throw over it.”

Nash considered his options, then stripped off his worn white T-shirt. “If anyone asks, I’ll tell ’em I run hot.”

Gigi blinked several times, as if the sight of Nash Hawthorne shirtless had broken her brain.

“Get out of the car,” Grayson told her with a gentle nudge. “Savannah and I will follow. Xander will wave and drive off. Savannah, do not under any circumstances volunteer the information that this is your car. And if you are specifically asked—about the car, about anything else—feign outrage. No answers. Gigi—”

“Trust me, my sister isn’t going to be feigning outrage,” Gigi said cheerfully. “We all have to play to our strengths, am I right? Luckily, I am still highly caffeinated, and I can get drunk just thinking about mimosas.” She closed her eyes. “Mimosas,” she whispered, and then she opened them. “The guys in suits won’t know what hit them.”

You'll Also Like