Chapter no 19

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games, 2)

On the drive back to Hawthorne House, Jameson, Xander, and I buried ourselves in our phones. I assumed that their missions were the same as mine: to research the four charities that Grayson had identified.

My intuition was that they might not actually be charities, that Tobias Hawthorne might have made them up as part of the puzzle, but a series of internet searches quickly dispelled that theory. The Allport Institute, Camden House, Colin’s Way, and the Rockaway Watch Society were all registered nonprofits. Sorting out the details of each one took longer.

The Allport Institute was a research facility based in Switzerland, dedicated to studying the neuroscience of memory and dementia. I scrolled through the staff page, reading each of the scientists’ bios. Then I clicked on some news coverage about the institute’s latest clinical trials. Short-term memory loss. Dementia. Alzheimer’s. Amnesia.

I sat with that for a moment. Is this a clue? To what? I glanced out the window and caught sight of Jameson’s reflection in the glass. His hair could never quite decide which way to lie, and even caught up in thought, his face was always in motion.

When I finally managed to turn my attention back to my phone, the next search term I typed in wasn’t one of the charities. It was my best approximation of the words that Grayson had said to Jameson back at the foundation.

Est unus ex nobis. Nos defendat eius. As I’d suspected, it was Latin. An online translator told me that it meant It is one of us. We protect it. Jameson’s response, Scio, meant I know. It only took me one more search to realize that the same translation would hold if it was replaced with sheShe is one of us. We protect her.

Maybe I should have bristled at that. Three weeks ago, I probably would have, but three weeks ago, I never would have dreamed that they would

come to see me as one of them.

That I could be one of them, not just an outsider looking in.

Trying not to let that thought consume me, I forced myself to move on to the next charity on my list. Camden House was an in-patient rehabilitation center for substance abuse and addiction, focused on the “whole person.” The website was full of testimonials. The staff was full of doctors, therapists, and other professionals. The grounds were beautiful.

But the website didn’t provide any answers.

An institute for memory research in Switzerland. An addiction treatment facility in Maine. I thought about the pills and powder that we’d found in Toby’s room. What if Tobias Hawthorne had used his will—and these four charities—to tell a story? Maybe Toby was an addict. Maybe he was a patient at Camden House. As for the Allport Institute…

I didn’t get the chance to finish that thought before we pulled through the gates of the estate. As we wound our way up the long drive, I snuck a look at the boys. Xander was still fixated on his phone, but Jameson was staring straight ahead. The moment we stepped out of the car, he took off.

So much for working on this together.

“Oh, look,” Xander said, nudging me in the side. “There’s Nan. Hello, Nan!”

The boys’ great-grandmother glared at Xander from the porch. “And just what have you been up to?” she asked him sharply.

“Nonsense and mischief,” he replied solemnly. “Always.”

She scowled, and he bounded up onto the porch and kissed the top of her head. She swatted at him. “Think you can sugar me up, do you?”

“Perish the thought,” Xander replied. “I don’t have to sugar you up. I’m your favorite!”

“Are not,” Nan grunted. She poked him with her cane. “Go on with you.

I want to talk to the girl.”

Nan didn’t ask if I wanted to talk. She just waited for me to approach, then took my arm for balance. “Walk with me,” she ordered. “In the garden.”

She said nothing for at least five minutes as we made our way, at a snail’s pace, through a topiary garden. Dense bushes had been shaped into sculptures. Most were abstract, but I saw a topiary elephant and couldn’t keep an incredulous look from settling over my face.

“Ridiculous,” Nan scoffed. “All of it.” After a long moment, she turned to me. “Well?”

“Well, what?” I said.

“What have you done to find my boy?” Nan’s harsh expression trembled slightly, and her grip on my arm tightened.

“I’m trying,” I said quietly. “But I don’t think Toby wants to be found.” If Toby Hawthorne had wanted to be found, he could have returned to

Hawthorne House at any time in the last twenty years. Unless he doesn’t remember. That thought hit me out of nowhere. The Allport Institute focused on memory research—Alzheimer’s, dementia, and memory loss. What if that was the story Tobias Hawthorne was telling in the will? What if his son had lost his memory?

What if Harry didn’t know he was Toby Hawthorne?

The thought that he might not have lied to me nearly took me to my knees. I forced myself to slow down. I was leaping to conclusions. I didn’t even know for certain that the four charities had been chosen to tell a story.

“Have you ever heard of Camden House?” I asked Nan. “It’s a treatment center for—”

“I know what it is.” Nan cut me off, her voice gruff.

There was no easy way to ask this next question. “Did your daughter and son-in-law send Toby there?”

“He wasn’t an addict,” Nan spat. “I know addicts. That boy was just… confused.”

I wasn’t about to bicker with her about words. “But they sent him to Camden House, for his confusion?”

“He was angry when he left and angry when he got back.” Nan shook her head. “That summer…” Her lip quivered. She didn’t finish what she was saying.

“Was that the summer of the fire?” I asked softly.

Before Nan could reply, a shadow fell across the two of us. Mr. Laughlin stepped onto the garden path. He was holding a pair of shears. “Everything okay here?” He scowled, and I thought about Mrs. Laughlin calling me cruel.

“Everything’s fine,” I said, my voice tight.

Mr. Laughlin looked toward Nan. “We talked about this, Pearl,” he said gently. “It isn’t healthy.” Clearly, he knew what I’d told Nan about Toby.

And clearly, he didn’t believe me any more than his wife did.

After a long silence, Mr. Laughlin turned back to me. “I made some repairs in the House.” A muscle in his jaw tightened. “To one of the older wings. When things fall into disrepair around here…” He gave me a look. “People get hurt.”

I understood then that one of the older wings was code for Toby’s. I wasn’t sure what the groundskeeper meant by repairs until I made my way back into Hawthorne House and went to check.

Toby’s wing had been bricked up again.

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