Chapter no 18

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games, 2)

Your brothers are idiots,” I told Xander, pacing back and forth in front of the building. Oren, who stood a few feet away, looked somewhat amused.

“It’s fine,” Xander assured me. “This is just what brothers do.” I highly doubted that.

From inside the building, there was silence.

“By tradition, the first blow is Gray’s,” Xander offered helpfully. “He usually goes for a leg sweep. Classic! But he’ll circle Jameson first. They’ll circle each other, really, and Gray will go into warnings-and-orders mode, which will cause Jamie to mock him, so on and so forth, until the first blow is struck.”

There was a thud from inside. “And after that?” I asked, my eyes narrowing.

Xander grinned. “We have an average of three black belts apiece, but it usually devolves into wrestling. One of them will pin the other. Argue, argue, bicker, bicker, and voilà.”

Given that Grayson had made it very clear that he thought pulling at the strings of Toby’s disappearance was a bad idea, I had a guess or two about what that argument might sound like.

“I’m going back in,” I muttered, but before I could, the door to the building opened.

Jameson stood there, looking only slightly worse for the wear. He didn’t seem injured. A little sweaty, maybe, but not bleeding or bruised. “I take it there was no beatdown?” I said.

Jameson grinned. “What would make you think that?” He glanced over at Oren. “If you wait out here, you have my word that she’ll be perfectly safe inside. It’s secure.”

“I know.” Oren stared Jameson down. “I designed the security on this building myself.”

“Can you give us a minute, Oren?” I asked. My head of security shot a hard look in Jameson’s direction, then Xander’s, and then nodded. Xander and I followed Jameson back inside.

“Don’t worry,” Jameson murmured as Grayson came into view. “I took it easy on him.”

Like Jameson, Grayson appeared unharmed. As I watched, he slipped his suit jacket back on. “You two are idiots,” I muttered.

“Be that as it may,” Grayson replied, “you want my help.” He wasn’t wrong. “Yes, we do.”

“I told you this was a bad idea, Avery.” Grayson’s focus was on me and me alone. It was intense. I wasn’t used to people being protective of me. But right now, protection wasn’t what I wanted—or needed—from him.

“While you and Jameson were playing WWF like eight-year-olds,” I said, “did he happen to tell you that Toby was adopted?” I swallowed and looked down because this next part was harder to say. “Did he tell you about my birth certificate?”

“Your what?” Xander said immediately.

Grayson stared at me. He was just as capable as any Hawthorne of reading between the lines. Toby was adopted. I’d mentioned my birth certificate. Everyone in this room knew why this search mattered to me now.

“Here’s a picture I took.” I held my phone out to Grayson. “Those are the charities listed in the will your grandfather wrote shortly after Toby’s disappearance.”

Grayson managed to take the phone from me without our fingers so much as brushing. Beside me, I could feel Jameson’s stare, just as palpable as his brother’s.

“There are very few surprises on this list.” Grayson looked up from the phone just in time to catch me watching him read. “Most of these organizations have received regular support—or, at the very least, a sizable onetime donation—from the Hawthorne Foundation.”

I forced myself to pay attention to what Grayson was saying, not the way his silvery eyes settled on mine as he talked. “You said ‘few surprises,’” I pointed out. “Not none.”

“Off the top of my head, I see four organizations that I don’t recognize.

That doesn’t mean we haven’t given to them before.…”

“But it’s a start.” Jameson’s voice buzzed with a familiar energy— familiar to me, almost certainly familiar to his brothers.

“The Allport Institute,” Grayson rattled off. “Camden House. Colin’s Way. And the Rockaway Watch Society. Those are the only four organizations on this list that I haven’t seen in the foundation’s records.”

Immediately, my brain started cataloging what Grayson had said, playing with the words and the letters, looking for a pattern. “Institute, house, way, watch,” I tried out loud.

“Watch, house, institute, way.” Jameson scrambled the order.

“Four words,” Xander offered. “And four names. Allport, Camden, Colin, Rockaway.”

Grayson stepped between the two of us and past Jameson—and kept on walking. “I’ll leave you three to it,” he said. Near the doorway, he paused. “But, Jamie? You’re wrong.” And then Grayson said something in a language I deeply suspected was Latin.

Jameson’s eyes flashed, and he responded in the same language.

I glanced at Xander. The youngest Hawthorne’s eyebrows—well, eyebrow, really, since he’d burned the other one off—skyrocketed. He clearly understood what had just been said but volunteered no translation.

Instead, he tugged me toward the doorway—and the SUV parked outside. “Come on.”

You'll Also Like