Chapter no 29

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games, 2)

That we didn’t include me. To inherit, I had to live in Hawthorne House for a year. I wasn’t sure I could travel, and even if there was a way, I couldn’t insert myself into this. Grayson had a right to meet his father without me tagging along. He had Jameson, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was something they needed to do together.

Without me there.

So I went to school the next day and kept my head down and waited. In between classes, I kept checking my phone, kept expecting an update. That they’d landed in Phoenix. That they’d made contact—or that they hadn’t. Something.

“I could ask you where my brothers are.” Xander fell in next to me in the hallway. “And what they’re up to. Or…” He flashed me a ridiculous smile. “I could beckon you to the dark side through the overwhelming power of my charisma.”

“The dark side?” I snorted.

“Would it help if I brooded?” Xander asked as we came to the door of my next class. “I can brood!” He scowled fiercely, then grinned. “Come on, Avery. This is my game. They’re my knuckleheaded, notably less charismatic brothers. You have to deal me in.” He followed me into the classroom and helped himself to the seat next to mine.

“Mr. Hawthorne.” Dr. Meghani shot him an amused look. “Unless I’m mistaken, you are not in this class.”

“I’m free until lunch,” Xander told her. “And I need to make meaning.”

In any other school, that never would have flown. If he’d been anyone other than a Hawthorne, it might not have here, either, but Dr. Meghani allowed it. “Last class,” she lectured at the front of the room, “we talked about white space in the visual arts. Today, I want you working in small groups to conceptualize the equivalents in other art forms. What serves the

function of white space in literature? Theater? Dance? How can meaning be made—or emphasized—through purposeful gaps or blanks? When does nothing become something?”

I thought about my phone. About the lack of communication from Jameson and Grayson.

“I expect two thousand words on that topic and a plan of artistic exploration by the end of next week.” Dr. Meghani clapped her hands together. “Get to work.”

“You heard the woman,” Xander said beside me. “Let’s get to work.”

I snuck another glance at my phone. “I’m waiting to hear from your brothers,” I admitted, keeping my voice low and trying to look like I was deeply pondering the true meaning of art.

“About?” Xander prompted.

Dr. Meghani passed by our table, and I waited until she was out of earshot before continuing. “Does the name Sheffield Grayson mean anything to you?” I asked Xander.

“Indeed it does!” he replied jauntily. “I created a database of major donors for all the charities on our list. The name Sheffield Grayson appears on that list precisely twice.”

“For Colin’s Way,” I said immediately. “And…” “Camden House.”

I filed that away for future reference. “Have you seen a picture of Sheffield Grayson?” I asked Xander quietly. Do you know who he is to your brother?

In response, Xander did an image search and then sucked in a breath. “Oh.”



Xander somehow persuaded Dr. Meghani that I intended to approach my essay by comparing white space in nature to white space in the arts, and she authorized us to spend the rest of the class period outside. When we reached the perimeter of the wooded acreage just south of the baseball diamond, Xander stopped. So did I—and four feet away, so did Eli.

“What are we waiting for?” I asked.

Xander pointed, and I saw Rebecca coming toward us from about a hundred yards away.

“I’m starting to understand why you call your side the dark side,” I muttered.

“The old man had a soft spot for Rebecca,” Xander told me. “Bex knew him pretty well, and I don’t think he expected me to do this alone.”

I gestured to myself. “You’re not alone.”

“And you’re on my team? Not Jamie’s?” Xander gave me a look. “Not Gray’s?”

“Why do there have to be teams?” I asked.

“It’s just the way they are. Hawthornes, I mean.” Rebecca came to a stop in front of me. When I turned to look at her, she looked down. “You said you have news?” she asked Xander.

“Let’s wait for Thea,” Xander suggested. “Thea?” I grumbled.

“She’s delightfully Machiavellian, and she hates to lose.” Xander was absolutely unapologetic. “I like what that does to my odds.”

“She’s also Zara’s niece,” I couldn’t help pointing out. “And she hates you and your brothers.”

Hates is a strong word,” Xander hedged. “Thea just loves us in a somewhat negative and occasionally vitriolic way.”

“Thea isn’t coming,” Rebecca said, interrupting the back-and-forth between Xander and me.

“She isn’t?” Xander raised his lone eyebrow.

“I just…” Rebecca took a breath, and the wind caught in her dark red hair. “I can’t, Xan. Not today.”

What’s today?

“What’s the new lead?” Rebecca asked, her expression begging Xander not to press her further. “What do we know?”

Xander gave a slight nod, and then he cut to the chase. “One of our persons of interest is Grayson’s father. Jamie and Gray are, I assume, making contact. Until we find out what they find out, our only option is following up on my other lead.”

“What other lead?” I asked.

“Camden House,” Xander said definitively. “Cross-referencing its major donors to the victims on Hawthorne Island led to two matches. David

Golding’s family are platinum-level supporters. Colin Anders Wright’s uncle gave a onetime, but very generous, donation. And though I haven’t identified any direct donations from my grandfather, I have a theory.”

“Toby was a patient there,” I cut in. “Nan told me as much.”

“I’m almost positive that all three of the boys did a stint at Camden House,” Xander said. “I think that’s where they met.”

I thought about the news coverage of the fire. The suggestion that there had been a wild party that had spun out of control. The way that the tragedy had been blamed, again and again, on Kaylie Rooney, when the three upstanding young men had been partying straight out of rehab.

“If the boys met at Camden House,” Rebecca said slowly, “then…” “Exactly! Then… what?” Xander bounced from one foot to the other.

“This tells us something about their state of mind that summer,” I said. “Leading up to the fire.”

“The fire,” Rebecca repeated, “and their deaths.” She closed her eyes tight, and when she opened them, she shook her head and began backing away. “I’m sorry, Xan. I want to play this game. I want to help you. I want to be able to do this with you, and I will, okay? Just not today.”

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