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Chapter no 38

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games, 2)

Oren and Alisa agreed to a weekend at True North. Fly out this morning, fly back Sunday evening—one night away. Oren would bring a six-man team. Alisa was coming along to get some “candid shots” that Landon could slip to the press. Our itinerary gave me a little less than thirty-six hours to find whatever Tobias Hawthorne had left for his daughter at True North—without ever tipping Alisa off that I was looking.

On the way to the airport, I texted Jameson. Again. I told myself that I didn’t need to worry about him and Grayson. That they were probably drunk or hungover or following a new lead without me. I told them where I was going—and why.

A few minutes later, I got a text back. Not from Jameson—from Xander.

Meet you at the plane.

“Okay,” I muttered. “He definitely has some kind of surveillance on Jameson’s phone.”

Max arched an eyebrow at me. “Or yours.”

 

 

“I do solemnly swear that I’m not surveilling anyone who doesn’t share at least twenty-five percent of my DNA.” In Xander’s world, that passed for a greeting. “And in other excellent news, Rebecca and Thea will both be joining us on this lovely jaunt to Colorado.”

Max shot a sideways glance at me. “Are we happy ‘Rebecca’ and ‘Thea’ are coming?” She punctuated the names with air quotes, like she suspected they were aliases, even though I had definitely mentioned both of them to her.

“We’re resigned,” I told Max, shooting Xander a look.

He’d told me once that Grayson and Jameson had a history of teaming up during the old man’s games. They’d also had a habit of double-crossing each other, but to Xander, the fact that his brothers had gone to meet Sheffield Grayson without him probably seemed like just another team-up.

I couldn’t really blame him for stacking his team.

“Maxine.” Xander offered my best friend his most charming Xander Hawthorne smile. “There’s nothing I admire more than a woman who makes liberal use of air quotes. May I ask: What are your feelings on robots that sometimes explode?”

 

 

The interior of the jet—my private jet—had luxury seating for twenty and looked more like a high-end business lounge than a vehicle. Security sat near the front, and behind them, Alisa and Libby sat in leather chairs opposite a granite-topped table. Nash, who’d tagged along, was stretched out across two seats on the other side of that table, facing Libby and Alisa. Awkward. But at least the tension was likely to keep the three of them busy, which let those of us under the age of nineteen get down to business in the back of the plane.

Two extra-long suede sofas stretched out, with another granite table between them. Max and I sat on one side of the table. Xander, Rebecca, and Thea sat on the other. A platter of baked goods rested on the table between us, but I was more focused on Xander’s “team.” Something about the way Rebecca’s body angled toward Thea’s made me think about the expression I’d glimpsed on Rebecca’s face the night before at the auction.

“We don’t know what we’re looking for.” Xander kept his voice low enough that the adults at the front of the plane couldn’t hear us. “But we know the old man left it for Skye. It will be in or very near to the cabin, and it will probably have Skye’s name on it.”

“Do we have anything else to go on?” Rebecca asked. “Any particular wording in the prior clue?”

“Very good, young Padawan.” Xander bowed toward her.

“No Star Wars references,” Thea shot back. “Listening to you talk geeky gives me a migraine.”

“You knew I was quoting from Star Wars.” Xander gave her a triumphant look. “I win!”

“Sorry,” Rebecca told Max and me. “They’re just like this.”

I got the distinct sense that I was getting a view into what all three of them had been like before. Rebecca’s phone rang then, and she looked down. Deep-red hair covered her alabaster face. I could almost see her shrinking into herself.

“Everything okay?” I asked. I wondered if her mother was the one calling.

“It’s fine,” Rebecca said from behind a wall of hair.

She wasn’t fine. That wasn’t a secret. I’d known it since that night in the tunnels, when she’d confessed. I’d just been trying very hard not to care.

A determined expression on her face, Thea made a grab for the ringing phone. “Rebecca’s phone,” she answered, pressing it to her ear. “Thea speaking.”

Rebecca’s head whipped up. “Thea!”

“Everything’s fine, Mr. Laughlin.” Thea held out a hand to ward off Rebecca’s attempts to grab the phone from her. “Bex just nodded off. You know how she gets on planes.” Thea twisted to block Rebecca again. “Sure, I’ll tell her. Take care. Bye.”

Thea hung up the phone and angled her face toward Rebecca. “Your grandfather says to have a good trip. He’ll take care of your mom. Now…” Thea tossed the phone down on the table and turned back to the rest of us. “I believe Rebecca asked about the wording of the clue.”

Max poked me in the side. “When you fly private, you can talk on the phone!”

I didn’t respond, because I’d just realized how quiet Xander was being. He hadn’t answered Rebecca’s original question, so I did. “A compass. The clue that pointed us toward True North was in the part of Tobias Hawthorne’s will where he left Skye his compass.”

“Oh,” Thea said innocently. “Like the antique compass Xander’s hiding in his pocket?”

Xander scowled at her. Max reached for the pastry platter and beaned Xander with a croissant. “Holding out on us?” she demanded.

“I see our budding friendship has reached its croissant phase,” Xander told her. “I am pleased.”

“You’re also hiding things,” I accused. “You have the compass the old man left Skye?”

Xander shrugged. “A Hawthorne always comes prepared.” And this was

his game.

“Can I see it?” I asked. Xander reluctantly handed me the compass. I opened it and stared at the face. The design was simple; it didn’t look expensive.

A phone buzzed—not Rebecca’s this time. Mine. Looking down, I realized that Jameson had finally texted back.

His text was exactly three words long: Meet you there.

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