Chapter no 85 – JAMESON

The Brothers Hawthorne

They both survived. They both made it back to solid ground, and when they did, Zella met Jameson’s eyes. “I owe you one,” she said. “And I intend to be in a very good position to repay my debts.”

Then, to Jameson’s absolute shock, the duchess tossed the key she’d risked her life for over the edge of the stone staircase, and it fell all the way to the ground.

To Katharine.

Jameson turned to Branford, whose face had gone as red as his hair, absolute fury etched into every line on his forehead. “The chest?” Jameson said. “You can yell at me later.”

“If I’d had any hand in raising you,” Branford said, the intensity in his eyes an exact match for that tone, “I would be doing a hell of a lot more than yelling.”

“Simon.” Katharine’s voice rang through the bell tower. She began to climb the stairs and spoke again, three words said with almost startling clarity. “Ontario. Versace. Selenium.”

“The chest,” Jameson requested again.

His uncle looked down. “Damn you, Bowen.”

Bowen, Jameson’s other uncle. The uncle that Katharine worked for— Katharine, who’d just said three seemingly random words that had caused Branford to curse his brother.

Branford, Jameson thought, who still has the chest.

“No,” Jameson swore.

“I’m sorry,” Branford replied stiffly. “My brother holds one card over

me—just one, and he apparently gave it to her to play here today. Those words, they’re a code, my debt called in.”

No,” Jameson said again.

Katharine already had the key. Once she finished her ascent, Branford gave her the chest.

Before Katharine opened it, she deigned to look at Jameson one more time. “You don’t have to be a player to win the game,” she said, and he was reminded again of his grandfather, of the old man’s many lessons. “All one really has to do to win is control the players.”

That bit of wisdom imparted, the older woman fit the key inside the lock and turned it. The lock gave. The lid popped open. Inside, there was a small silver ballerina standing on one toe, the other leg extended. The figurine began to turn in a silent, steady dance.

Katharine made a quick and frighteningly efficient search of the box. Finding nothing else, she took the ballerina in her hand and viciously tore it out. Her goal met, she shoved the now-empty box back at Jameson and began to descend the stone staircase.

Jameson watched her go, then frantically began his own search of the box. This wasn’t over. It didn’t have to be over.

“Leave it,” Zella told him gently.

Jameson didn’t. He pulled up the velvet fabric that lined the chest’s interior. Nothing. In the back of his mind, he heard voice after voice.

Compared to your brothers, your mind is ordinary.

You love a challenge. You love to play. You love to win. And no matter what you win, you always need more.

What are you without the Hawthorne name?

“It’s over,” Branford told him.

Jameson paid no attention to those words, because in his memory, the old man spoke again. A person can train their mind to see the world, to really see it.

Jameson stared at the box. He thought about the silver ballerina—and then about one of his grandfather’s Saturday morning games and another ballerina, made of glass. Jameson thought about misdirection, double meanings, and what it meant to see your way to the answer.

Once you see that web of possibilities laid out in front of you, unencumbered by fear of pain or failure, by thoughts telling you what can

and cannot, should and should not be done… What will you do with what you see?

Jameson closed his eyes. He thought back to the very beginning of the game. He remembered the instructions that Rohan had given them. And then he smiled.

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