Chapter no 15

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games, 2)

We need to talk.” Jameson found me hidden away in the archive (prep school for library) the next day. Until now, he’d kept his distance within the walls of Heights Country Day.

Not that anyone but Eli was around to see us.

“I have to finish my calculus homework.” I avoided looking directly at him. I needed space. I needed to think.

“It’s E-day.” Jameson pulled up a seat next to mine. “You have plenty of free time.”

The modular scheduling system at Heights Country Day was complicated enough that I hadn’t even memorized my own schedule. But Jameson apparently had.

“I’m busy,” I insisted, annoyed at the way I always felt his presence.

The way he wanted me to.

Jameson leaned back in his chair, balancing it on two legs, then let the front legs drop down and leaned to whisper directly into my ear. “Toby Hawthorne is your father.”



I followed Jameson. Eli, who couldn’t possibly have heard Jameson’s whisper, followed me—out of the main building, across the quad, down a stone path to the Art Center. Inside, Jameson strode past studio after studio, until we ended up in what a sign informed me was the Black Box Theater: an enormous square room with black walls, a black floor, and stage lights built into a black ceiling. Jameson flipped a series of switches, and the overhead lights turned on. Eli took up a position by the door, and I followed Jameson to the far side of the room.

“What I said in the archive,” Jameson murmured. “It was just a theory.” The room was built for acoustics, built for voices to carry. “Tell me I’m wrong.”

I glanced back at Eli and chose my words carefully in response. “I found a hidden compartment in your grandfather’s desk. There was a copy of my birth certificate.”

I didn’t say Toby’s name. I wouldn’t, not with an audience. “And?” Jameson prompted.

“The name was my father’s.” I lowered my voice so much that Jameson had to step closer to hear it. “The signature wasn’t.”

“I knew it.” Jameson started pacing, but he turned back toward me before he got too far away. “Do you realize what this means, Heiress?” he asked, his green eyes alight.

I did. I’d said it out loud once. It made sense—more sense than anything else had made since I arrived for the reading of the will. “There could be other explanations,” I said hoarsely, even though I didn’t really believe that. I have a secret. My mom hadn’t invented that game out of nowhere. My whole life, she’d been telling me there was something I didn’t know.

Something big. Something about me.

“It makes perfect sense—Hawthorne sense.” Jameson couldn’t contain himself. If I would have let him, he probably would have picked me up and twirled me around. “Twelve birds, one stone, Heiress. Whatever happened twenty years ago, the old man intended to use you to pull his prodigal son back onto the board now.”

“Doesn’t seem like it worked,” I said, the words bitter on my tongue. I was the biggest news story in the world. I had no idea where Toby was, but the same couldn’t be said in reverse.

If he is my father, then where is he? Why isn’t he here?

As if that thought had beckoned him toward me, Jameson came closer. “Let’s call off the bet,” he said softly.

I whipped my head up to look at him. I searched for a tell on his face, something to let me know what angle he was playing.

“This is big, Heiress.” If he’d been anyone else, his voice might have sounded gentle—but the Jameson Hawthorne I knew wasn’t gentle. “Big enough that neither of us needs extra motivation now. Neither of us is going

to solve this alone.”

There was something undeniable about the way he said the word us, but I resisted the pull of it. “I’m at the center of this.” It would have been so easy to let myself get sucked back in. To let myself feel like we really were a team. “You need me.”

That was what this was about. The gentle voice. Us.

“And you don’t need anyone?” Jameson stepped forward. Despite every warning screeching in the back of my brain, when he reached out to touch me, I didn’t pull back.

The past twelve hours had turned my entire world upside down. I needed… something. It didn’t have to mean anything. There didn’t have to be feelings involved. “Fine,” I said, my voice rough in my throat. “Let’s call off the bet.”

I expected him to kiss me then—to take advantage of my moment of weakness, to push me back against the wall and wait for my head to angle up toward his, wait for a yes. He looked like he wanted to. wanted it.

But instead, Jameson took a step back and cocked his head to the side. “How would you feel about getting some air?”



Two minutes later, Jameson Hawthorne and I were on top of the Art Center. This time, Eli didn’t get a chance to position himself in the doorway before Jameson locked him out.

My bodyguard knocked on the door to the roof, then pounded.

“I’m fine,” I yelled back, watching as Jameson walked over to stand at the very edge of the roof. The toes of his dress shoes hung over the edge. The wind picked up. “Be careful,” I said, even though he didn’t know the meaning of the word.

“You know something funny, Heiress? My grandfather always said that Hawthorne men have nine lives.” Jameson turned back to me. “Hawthorne men,” he repeated, “have nine lives. He was talking about Toby. The old man knew his son had survived. He knew that Toby was out there. But he never did more than drop hints until he left that message for Xander.”

“Find Tobias Hawthorne the Second,” I said quietly.

After holding my gaze for a moment longer, Jameson disappeared behind a nearby column and came back with what appeared to be a roll of Astroturf and a bucket of golf balls. He set the bucket down, then rolled out the turf. He disappeared a second time, then came back with a golf club and snatched a ball from the bucket. He laid the ball on the turf and lined up his shot.

“I come up here,” he said, looking out at the picturesque woods on the back side of the campus, “to get away.” His feet shoulder width apart, he swung the club back, then took his shot. The golf ball soared off the roof of the Art Center and into the woods. “I’m not saying that I think you’re overwhelmed, Heiress. I’m not saying that I think you’re hurting. I’m just saying”—he held the golf club out to me—“sometimes it feels good to smack the hell out of something.”

I stared at him, incredulous, then smiled. “This has got to be against the rules.”

“What rules?” Jameson smirked. When I didn’t move to take the club, he got another ball and lined up another shot. “Allow me to let you in on a Hawthorne trade secret, Heiress: There are no rules that matter more than winning.” He paused, just for a moment. “I don’t know who my father is. Skye was never what one would call maternal. The old man raised us. He made us in his own image.” Jameson swung, and the ball went soaring. “Xan has his mind. Grayson got the gravitas. Nash has a savior complex. And I…” Another ball. Another shot. “I don’t know when to give up.”

Jameson turned back to me and held the club out once more. I remembered Skye telling me that the word to describe Jameson was hungry.

I took the club from his hand. My fingers brushed his.

“I’m the one who doesn’t give up,” Jameson reiterated. “But Xander’s the one the old man asked to find Toby.”

On the other side of the door to the roof, Eli was still banging. I should put him out of his misery. I looked at Jameson. I should walk away. But I didn’t. This was the closest Jameson had come to opening up to me about what it was like growing up Hawthorne.

I walked over to the bucket of golf balls and tossed one onto the turf. I’d never held a golf club before. I had no idea what I was doing, but it looked satisfying. Sometimes, it did feel good to smack the hell out of something.

The first time I swung, I missed the ball.

“Head down,” Jameson told me. He stepped up behind me and adjusted my grip, his arms wrapping around mine, guiding them from shoulder to fingertips. Even through my uniform blazer, I could feel the heat of his body.

“Try again,” he murmured.

This time, when I swung back, Jameson swung, too. Our bodies moved in sync. I felt my shoulders rotating, felt him behind me, felt every inch of contact between us. The club connected with the ball, and I watched it soar.

A rush of emotion built up inside me, and this time I didn’t push it down. Jameson had brought me up here to let go.

“If Toby’s my father,” I said, louder than I’d meant to, “where has he been all my life?”

I turned to face Jameson, well aware that we were standing far too close. “You know the way your grandfather’s mind operated,” I told him fiercely. “You know his go-to tricks. What are we missing?”

We. I’d said we.

“Toby ‘died’ years before you were born.” Jameson always looked at me like I had the answer. Like I was the answer. “It’s been twenty years since the fire on Hawthorne Island.”

I felt my thoughts fall in sync with his. It had been twenty years since the fire. Twenty years since Tobias Hawthorne had revised his will to disinherit his entire family. And just like that, I had an idea.

“In the last game we played,” I told Jameson, my heart thudding, “there were clues embedded in the old man’s will.” My pulse jumped, and it had nothing—almost nothing—to do with the way he was still looking at me. “But that wasn’t the old man’s only will.”

Jameson knew exactly what I was saying. He saw what I saw. “The old man changed his middle name to Tattersall right after Toby’s supposed death. And right after that, he wrote a will disinheriting the family.”

I swallowed. “You’re always saying he had favorite tricks. What do you think the chances are that the old will is part of this puzzle?”

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