Chapter no 25

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games, 2)

Eli stuck to my side all day. Anytime I tried to get space, amber-ringed blue eyes stared me down. At one point, he informed me that Oren had tightened all security protocols—not just at Country Day but also on the estate. I wasn’t going anywhere without an escort.

When Oren came to collect us that afternoon, Alisa was in the back seat of the SUV. The first thing she did after I buckled myself in was hand me a tablet. I looked down at the screen and saw a photograph, one that had been taken at the hotel. Jameson’s eyes were dark and glittering, and I was staring at him the way a thousand other girls had probably stared at Jameson Hawthorne.

Like he mattered.

The headline read Tensions Grow Between Heiress and Hawthorne Family.

“This is not the message we want to be sending,” Alisa told me. “I’ve already arranged for damage control. There’s a memorial fundraiser at Country Day tomorrow evening. You and the Hawthorne brothers will be in attendance.”

Some teenagers got grounded. I got sentenced to black-tie galas. “Fine,” I said.

“I’ll also need your signature on this.” Alisa handed me a three-page form. I flashed back to the conversation I’d overheard between Libby and Nash, then read the bold print on the form: Petition for Emancipation of Minor.

“Emancipation?” I said.

“You’re seventeen. You have permanent housing and substantial income. Your legal guardian is willing to consent, and you have the most powerful law firm in the state behind you. We’re not anticipating any difficulties here.”

“Libby consented?” I asked. She hadn’t sounded happy about the papers to me.

“I can be very persuasive,” Alisa said. “And with Ricky in the picture, this is the right move. Once you’re emancipated, he has no standing to try anything in the courts.”

“And,” Oren added from the front seat, “you’ll be able to sign a will.”

Once I was emancipated, Ricky would have nothing to gain from my death.

Alisa handed me a pen. As I read through the form, I thought about Libby. Then I thought about Ricky, about Skye—and I signed.

“Excellent,” Alisa declared. “Now, there’s just one final matter that needs your attention.” She handed me a small square of paper with a number written on it.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s your friend Max’s new phone number.” I stared at her. “What?”

Alisa laid her hand lightly on my shoulder. “I got her a phone.” “But her mother—”

“Will never know,” Alisa said briskly. “That probably makes me a very bad influence, but you need someone. I understand that, Avery. And you don’t want that someone to be a Hawthorne. Whatever’s going on with you and Jameson—”

“There’s nothing going on between us.”

That got me an Alisa Look and then some. “First the roof, then the hotel.” She paused. “Call your friend Max. Let her be your person. Not one of them.”

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