Chapter no 18

The Final Gambit (The Inheritance Games, 3)

stayed in the tunnels after Rebecca was gone, debating, then wound my way back toward Hawthorne House and exited up a hidden staircase into the Great Room. Once I had cell phone reception again, I pulled the trigger and made the call.

“To what do I owe this rather dubious honor?” Thea Calligaris had perfected the art of the verbal smirk.

“Hello to you, too, Thea.”

“Let me guess,” she said pertly. “You’re in desperate need of fashion assistance? Or maybe one of the Hawthornes is having a meltdown?” I didn’t reply, and she amended her guess. “More than one?”

A year ago, I never would have imagined the two of us as anything even remotely resembling friends, but we’d grown on each other—more or less. “I need to tell you something.” “Well,” Thea replied coyly, “I don’t have all day. In case

you missed the memo, my time is very valuable.” Over the summer, Thea had gone viral. Somewhere between Saint Bart’s and the Maldives, she’d become an Influencer with a capital I. Then she’d come back, to Rebecca.

No matter how long it takes, Thea had told me once. I’m going to keep choosing her.

I told her everything.

“When you say this girl looks exactly like—” “I mean exactly,” I reiterated.

“And Rebecca—”

Rebecca was going to kill me for this. “They just met.

Eve wants to meet Bex’s mom.”

For a full three seconds, Thea was uncharacteristically silent. “This is messed up, even by Hawthorne and Hawthorne-adjacent standards.”

“Are you okay?” I asked. Emily had been Thea’s best friend.

“I don’t do vulnerable,” Thea retorted. “It clashes with my bitch aesthetic.” She paused. “Bex didn’t want you to tell me, did she?”

“Not exactly.”

I could practically hear Thea shrugging that off—or trying to. “Just out of curiosity,” she said lightly, “exactly how many Hawthornes are having meltdowns right now?”


“It’s called schadenfreude, Avery. Though really, the Germans should come up with a word that more precisely captures the emotion of getting petty satisfaction out of knowing that the world’s most arrogant bastards have itty- bitty feelings, too.” Thea wasn’t as cold as she liked to pretend to be, but I knew better than to call her on it where Hawthornes were concerned.

“Are you going to call Rebecca?” I asked instead.

“And let her avoid my call?” Thea replied tartly. There was a beat. “Of course I am.” She’d let Rebecca go once. She wasn’t going to again. “Now, if that’s everything, I have an empire to build and a girl to chase.”

“Take care of her, Thea,” I said. “I will.”

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