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Chapter no 30

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games, 2)

It took me longer than it should have to piece together that when Rebecca had said earlier in the week that Emily’s birthday was Friday—today—she hadn’t been lying. Neither had Thea when she’d said that there was a memorial fundraiser.

The same fundraiser that Alisa was planning that I would attend.

“I booked you a session with Landon for this afternoon. She had limited availability, so we may have to double up with hair and makeup.”

I buckled my seat belt and narrowed my eyes at Alisa as Eli settled into the front passenger seat. “You failed to mention that tonight’s memorial was for Emily Laughlin.”

“Did I?” Alisa didn’t sound even the least bit guilty. “Country Day is building a new chapel in her honor.”

I heard a cough from the driver’s seat and realized that Oren wasn’t the one driving. This man had lighter, longer hair. I’d almost gotten used to Eli shadowing me at school, but this was the first time since the will had been read that Oren had willingly let me out of his sight while I was in transit. “Where’s Oren?” I asked.

“Otherwise occupied,” the driver replied. “There was a situation.” “What kind of situation?” I pressed. No response. I looked at Alisa, but

she just shrugged and redirected the conversation.

“You wouldn’t happen to know why Jameson and Grayson took one of your jets, would you?”

 

 

Back at Hawthorne House, we found Oren waiting at the door with the

situation he’d been dealing with.

“Max?” I was stunned to see her. We hadn’t been together in person in more than a year, but there Max was, her black hair tied up in messy buns on either side of her head.

She beamed at me, then shot the world’s most aggrieved look in Oren’s direction. “Finally! Avery, will you tell Monsieur Bodyguard over here that I’m not a security risk?”

My shock started to wear off. “Max!” I took a step toward her, and that was all Max needed to launch herself at me. She hugged me. Hard. “What are you doing here?” I asked.

She shrugged. “I told you that I was considering a mission trip. I am here to bring the love of God to these poor, backward billionaires. It’s an ugly job, but someone’s got to do it.”

“She’s joking,” I told Oren. “Probably.” I studied Max a little more closely. As glad as I was to see her, I also knew her parents wouldn’t have approved this trip. She was already on thin ice with them.

And that was when I realized: “Today’s your birthday, too.”

“Too?” For a split second, I saw raw emotion behind Max’s eyes, but then she shook it off. “I’m eighteen.” Max was legally an adult. Had her parents kicked her out, or had she left on her own? “Got a spare bedroom?” she asked me, all bravado.

I squeezed her hand. “I probably have forty.”

Max offered me her brashest, most invincible Maxine Liu smile. “So what does a girl have to do around here to get a tour?”

 

 

Ten minutes into Max’s tour, my phone rang. I looked down at the screen. “Jameson,” I reported.

Max gave me a look. “Don’t mind me.” She beamed. “Pretend I’m not even here.”

I answered the call. “What’s going on? Is everything okay?”

“Other than the fact that my stick-in-the-mud brother utterly refuses to play Drink or Dare while we wait?” Jameson had a way of making everything sound like a joke—and dark humor at that. “Things are just peachy.”

“Drink or Dare?” I asked. “No—don’t answer that. What exactly are you waiting on?”

There was a beat of silence on the other end of the line. “Sheffield Grayson has security that rivals ours. There’s no getting near the man unless he wants you to.”

The muscles in my chest tightened. “And he doesn’t want Grayson near him.” I ached, just thinking about that. “Is he okay?”

Jameson did not answer that question. “Grayson has business cards— and yes, I mocked him mercilessly for that. He wrote our hotel information on the back of one and left it with the guard at the gate to the Grayson estate.”

The less serious Jameson sounded, the more I ached for him, too. “And so you wait,” I said quietly.

There was a brief silence on the other end of the line. “And so we wait.”

There was a heaviness in Jameson’s tone. The fact that he’d let me hear it was shocking.

“Don’t worry, Heiress.” Jameson fell back into banter. “I will prevail on the Drink or Dare front if we have to wait around much longer.”

When I hung up the phone, Max practically pounced on me. “What did he say?”

 

 

“So the boys you want to fax took your private jet to Arizona in hopes that the mystery father of one of said boys knows something about a tragic and deadly fire, lo these many years ago.”

“That about covers it,” I told Max. “Except I don’t want to fax anyone.” “Only in your mind and only with your eyes,” Max said solemnly.

“Max!” I said, and then I turned the tables on her. “You want to tell me what you’re doing here? We both know you’re not okay.”

Max looked up at the twenty-foot ceiling. “Maybe I’m not. But I am standing in the middle of a bowling alley in your house. This place is unbelievable!”

If she wanted a distraction, she’d come to the right place.

“Now, is there anything else about the Bonkers Life of Billionaire Avery

that you left out?”

I knew better than to press her if she didn’t want to talk. “There is one more thing,” I said. “Remember Emily?”

“Died and left a thousand broken pieces in her wake?” Max said immediately. “Loss reverberates through all the players in her tragedy to this day? Yes, I remember Emily.”

“Tonight, I’m going to a fundraiser in her honor.”

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