Chapter no 3

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games, 2)

had never seen a game of football in my life, but as the new owner of the Texas Lone Stars, I couldn’t exactly say that to the crowd of reporters who mobbed the SUV when we pulled up to the stadium, any more than I could have admitted that the off-the-shoulder jersey and metallic-blue cowboy boots I was wearing felt about as authentic as a Halloween costume.

“Lower the window,” Alisa told me, “smile, and yell, ‘Go, Lone Stars!’”

I didn’t want to lower the window. I didn’t want to smile. I didn’t want to yell anything—but I did it. Because this was a Cinderella story, and I was the star.


“Avery, look over here!”

“How are you feeling about your first game as the new owner?”

“Do you have any comments about reports that you assaulted Skye Hawthorne?”

I hadn’t had much media training, but I’d had enough to know the cardinal rule of having reporters shout questions at you rapid-fire: Don’t answer. Pretty much the only thing I was allowed to say was that I was excited, grateful, awed, and overwhelmed in the most incredible possible way.

So I did my best to channel excitement, gratitude, and awe. Nearly a hundred thousand people would attend the game tonight. Millions would watch it around the world, cheering for the team. My team.

“Go, Lone Stars!” I yelled. I went to roll up my window, but just as my finger brushed the button, a figure pulled away from the crowd. Not a reporter.

My father.

Ricky Grambs had spent a lifetime treating me like an afterthought, if that. I hadn’t seen him in more than a year. But now that I’d inherited


There he was.

Turning away from him—and the paparazzi—I rolled my window up.

“Ave?” Libby’s voice was hesitant as our bulletproof SUV disappeared into a private parking garage beneath the stadium. My sister was an optimist. She believed the best of people—including a man who’d never done a damn thing for either one of us.

“Did you know he’d be here?” I asked her, my voice low.

“No!” Libby said. “I swear!” She caught her bottom lip between her teeth, smudging her black lipstick. “But he just wants to talk.”

I bet he does.

Up in the driver’s seat, Oren, my head of security, parked the SUV and spoke calmly into his earpiece. “We have a situation near the north entrance. Eyes only, but I want a full report.”

The nice thing about being a billionaire with a security team brimming with retired Special Forces was that the chances of my being ambushed again were next to none. I shoved down the feelings that seeing Ricky had dredged up and stepped out of the car into the bowels of one of the biggest stadiums in the world. “Let’s do this,” I said.

“For the record,” Alisa told me as she exited the car, “the firm is more than capable of handling your father.”

And that was the nice thing about being the sole client of a multi-billion- dollar law firm.

“Are you okay?” Alisa pressed. She wasn’t exactly the touchy-feely type. More likely she was trying to assess whether I would be a liability tonight.

“I’m fine,” I said.

“Why wouldn’t she be?”

That voice—low and smooth—came from an elevator behind me. For the first time in seven days, I turned to look directly at Grayson Hawthorne. He had pale hair and ice-gray eyes and cheekbones sharp enough to count as weapons. Two weeks ago, I would have said that he was the most self- assured, self-righteous, arrogant jerk I’d ever met.

I wasn’t sure what to say about Grayson Hawthorne now.

“Why,” he repeated crisply, stepping out of the elevator, “would Avery be anything other than fine?”

“Deadbeat dad made an appearance outside,” I muttered. “It’s fine.”

Grayson stared at me, his eyes piercing mine, then turned to Oren. “Is he a threat?”

I’ll always protect you, he’d sworn. But this… us… It can’t happen, Avery.

“I don’t need you to protect me,” I told Grayson sharply. “When it comes to Ricky, I’m an expert at protecting myself.” I stalked past Grayson, into the elevator he’d stepped out of a moment earlier.

The trick to being abandoned was to never let yourself long for anyone who left.

A minute later, when the elevator doors opened into the owner’s suite, I stepped out, Alisa to one side and Oren to the other, and I didn’t so much as look back at Grayson. Since he’d taken the elevator down to meet me, he’d obviously already been up here, probably schmoozing. Without me.

“Avery. You made it.” Zara Hawthorne-Calligaris wore a string of delicate pearls around her neck. There was something about her sharp- edged smile that made me feel like she could probably kill a man with those pearls if she were so inclined. “I wasn’t sure you would be putting in an appearance tonight.”

And you were ready to hold court in my absence, I concluded. I thought about what Alisa had said—about allies and power players and the influence that could be bought with a ticket to this suite.

As Jameson would say, Game on.

You'll Also Like