Chapter no 5

The Final Gambit (The Inheritance Games, 3)

The next morning, I woke to the sight of my ball gown strewn over the end of my bed. Jameson was asleep beside me. I pushed back the urge to trail my fingertips across his jawline, to lightly touch the scar that ran down his chest.

I’d asked him a dozen times how he’d gotten that scar, and he’d given me a dozen different answers. In some versions, the culprit was a jagged rock. A steel rod. A windshield.

Someday, I’d get the real answer.

I allowed myself one more moment beside Jameson, then slipped from my bed, picked up my Hawthorne pin, got dressed, and headed downstairs.



Grayson was in the dining room, alone.

“I didn’t think you would make it home,” I said, somehow managing to take the seat opposite his.

“Technically, it isn’t my home anymore.” Even at low volume, Grayson’s voice washed over the room like a tide coming in. “In a very short time, everything in this place will officially be yours.” That wasn’t a condemnation or a complaint. It was a fact.

“That doesn’t mean anything has to change,” I said.

“Avery.” Piercing pale eyes met mine. “It has to. You have to.” Before I’d come along, Grayson had been the heir apparent. He was practically an expert in what one had to do.

And I was the only one who knew: Beneath that

invincible, controlled exterior, he was falling apart. I couldn’t say that, couldn’t let on I was even thinking it, so I stuck to the topic at hand. “What if I can’t do this on my own?” I asked.

“You aren’t on your own.” Grayson let his eyes linger on mine, then carefully and deliberately broke eye contact. “Every year, on our birthdays,” he said, after a moment, “the old man would call us into his study.”

I’d heard this before. “Invest. Cultivate. Create,” I said. From the time they were kids, each year on their birthdays, the Hawthorne brothers had been given ten thousand dollars to invest. They’d also been told to choose a talent or an interest to cultivate, and no expense had been spared in that cultivation. Finally, Tobias Hawthorne had issued a birthday challenge: something they were to invent, create, perform, or will into being.

Invest—you’ll soon have covered. Cultivate—you should pick something you want for yourself. Not an item or an experience but a skill.” I waited for Grayson to ask me what I was going to choose, but he didn’t. Instead, he removed a leather book from the inside of his suit jacket and slid it across the table. “As for your birthday challenge, you’ll need to create a plan.”

The leather was a deep, rich brown, soft to the touch. The edges of the pages were slightly uneven, as though the book had been bound by hand.

“You’ll want to start with a firm grasp of your financials. From there, think about the future and map out your time and financial commitments for the next five years.”

I opened the book. The thick off-white pages were blank. “Write it all down,” Grayson instructed. “Then tear it

apart and rewrite it. Over and over again until you have a plan that works.”

“You know what you would do in my position.” I would have bet my entire fortune that somewhere, he had a journal—and a plan—of his own.

Grayson’s eyes found their way back to mine. “You aren’t me.”

I wondered if there was anyone at Harvard—a single person—who knew him even a tenth as well as his brothers and I did. “You promised you would help me.” The words escaped before I could stop them. “You said you would teach me everything I needed to know.”

I knew better than to remind Grayson Hawthorne of a broken promise. I didn’t have the right to ask this of him, to ask anything of him. I was with Jameson. I loved Jameson. And, Grayson’s entire life, everyone had expected too damn much.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “This isn’t your problem.”

“Don’t,” Grayson ordered roughly, “look at me like I’m broken.”

You are not broken. I’d said those words to him. He hadn’t believed me then. He wouldn’t now, either. “Alisa wants me to put the money in a trust,” I said, because the least I owed him was a subject change.

Grayson responded with an arch of his brow. “Of course she does.”

“I haven’t agreed to anything yet.”

A slight smile pulled at the edges of his lips. “Of course you haven’t.”

Oren appeared in the doorway before I could reply. “I just got a call from one of my men,” he told me. “There’s someone at the gates.”

A warning sounded in my mind because Oren was perfectly capable of taking care of unwanted visitors himself. Skye? Or Ricky? Grayson’s mother and my deadbeat of a father were no longer in prison for an attempt on my life that, remarkably, they hadn’t orchestrated. That didn’t mean they weren’t still threats.

“Who is it?” Grayson’s expression went blade-sharp.

Oren held my gaze as he answered the question. “She says her name is Eve.”

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