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Chapter no 13

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games, 2)

As it turned out, we needed more than one black light—and the member of the Hawthorne family in possession of seven of them was Xander. The three of us lined Toby’s suite with them. We turned the overhead lights off, and what I saw took me nearly to my knees.

Toby hadn’t written message on the wall of his bedroom. He’d written tens of thousands of words across all the walls in the suite. Toby Hawthorne had kept a diary. His whole life was documented on the walls of his wing of Hawthorne House. He couldn’t have been more than seven or eight when he’d started writing.

Jameson and Xander fell silent beside me as the three of us read. The tone of Toby’s writing started off completely at odds with everything else we’d found—the drugs, the message we’d decoded, “A Poison Tree.” That Toby had been seething with anger. But Young Toby? He sounded more like Xander. There was an unbridled energy to everything he wrote. He talked about conducting experiments, some of them involving explosions. He adored his older sisters. He spent entire days disappearing into the walls of the House. He worshipped his father.

What changed? That was the question I asked myself as I read faster and faster, speeding through Toby’s twelfth year, his thirteenth, his fourteenth, his fifteenth. Shortly after his sixteenth birthday, I came to the exact moment when everything changed.

All that entry said was: They lied.

It took months—maybe years—before Toby actually put into words what that lie was. What he’d discovered, why he was angry. When I got to that confession, my entire body went leaden.

“Avery?” Xander stopped what he was doing and turned to look at me. Jameson was still reading at warp speed. He must have already read the secret that had turned me to stone, but his laser focus had remained

uncompromised. He was on the hunt—and my body felt like it was shutting down.

“You okay there, champ?” Xander asked me, coming to put a hand on my shoulder. I barely felt it.

I couldn’t take another step. I couldn’t read another word. Because the lie that Toby Hawthorne had referenced, the secrets he mentioned in his poem?

They had to do with who he was.

“Toby was adopted.” I turned to look at Xander. “Nobody knew. Not Toby. Not his sisters. No one. Your grandmother faked a pregnancy. When Toby was sixteen, he found something. Proof. I don’t know what.” I couldn’t stop talking. I couldn’t slow down. “They adopted him in secret. He wasn’t even sure it was legal.”

“Why would anyone keep an adoption a secret?” Xander sounded truly baffled.

That was a good question, but I could barely process it, because all I could think, over and over again, was that if Toby Hawthorne wasn’t biologically related to the Hawthorne family, then he didn’t share one ounce of their DNA.

And neither would his child.

“His handwriting…” I choked out the words. It was on the walls, all around me—and now that I was looking for it, I recognized something I should have noticed the moment the writing had changed from a childish scrawl.

From the time he was twelve or thirteen, Toby Hawthorne had started writing in an odd fashion—a very distinctive mix of print and cursive. I’d seen that handwriting before.

I have a secret, I could hear my mother telling me less than a week before she died. About the day you were born.

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