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Chapter no 45

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games, 2)

In the wake of that bombshell, Xander went to find Jameson and Grayson. Hours later, all three brothers returned from the slopes, looking scraped up and worse for the wear. Jameson eased himself into a wingback chair.

“Don’t bleed on that,” Grayson ordered.

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Jameson retorted. “What are your thoughts on vomiting in that vase?”

“You’re an idiot,” Grayson replied.

“You’re all idiots,” I corrected. They turned to look at me. I was wearing a pair of thick winter pajamas, part of the True North wardrobe Alisa had ordered for me. “Did Xander tell you what we found?”

“What found, Heiress,” Jameson corrected me, then smiled. “I know about the picture. The page with what we can assume is likely a message of some kind, written in invisible ink.”

Grayson studied me for a moment, then turned to Xander. “What else

did you find?”

“For the record,” Xander said grandly, hobbling over to sit on the fireplace, “I won the Drop.” He looked down at his feet. “And I might have neglected to mention that the guy in that photo is Nash’s father.”

That statement had the exact effect it was supposed to—on Jameson and Grayson. But I wasn’t surprised. After what we’d learned at the lodge, it was the logical conclusion. All four of the Hawthorne brothers had last names as first names. Grayson’s father was Sheffield Grayson. The guy in the picture—the guy Zara had her arm around—was Jake Nash.

You knew, the note in the closet had read, and you did it anyway. “Are you going to tell Nash?” I asked the boys.

“Tell me what?”

I turned to see Nash in the doorway, Libby beside him. “Tell him what?” She narrowed her eyes at the silence that followed. “Come on, Ave,” Libby

groaned. “No more secrets.”

She was the reason I’d gotten to come here, and she had no idea why.

Across from me, Grayson stood. “Nash, might we have a moment outside?”

 

 

Alone with Libby, I had only a second or two to make a decision about what I was going to tell her. Looking at that plain brown hair, knowing everything she’d given up for me, it was a surprisingly easy decision to make.

I told her everything. About Harry and who he really was. About what we’d found in Toby’s wing. About my birth certificate and the charities in the will and why I’d wanted to come to True North.

“I know this is a lot,” I said.

Libby blinked four or five times. I waited for her to say something. Anything. “What are Grayson and Jameson telling Nash out there?” she asked finally.

There was no reason to hold back now, so I answered the question. “So Nash’s father…,” she said.

“Is probably Jake Nash,” I confirmed.

“And your father…,” Libby looked at me and swallowed.

My father is Toby Hawthorne.

“It makes sense,” I said quietly. Unable to look her directly in the eye, I let my gaze travel to a massive window nearby. “Toby’s the one who signed my birth certificate, and we met for the first time right after Mom died. I think he was checking up on me. I think he meant for us to meet.” I paused. “I think Tobias Hawthorne knew everything.”

“And that’s why he left you the money.” Libby could read between the lines as well as I could. “If your dad isn’t Ricky,” she said slowly, “then you and I aren’t really…”

“If you say we aren’t sisters, I will flying-tackle you right here, right now.” I was fully prepared to do it, too, but Libby seemed to decide not to tempt me.

“Have you tried to find him?” she asked me instead. “Toby?”

I looked down. “Before I even knew who he was. Alisa’s people couldn’t find a trace of him.”

Libby snorted. Audibly. “Or so Alisa Ortega claims. Does she know who he is?”

I looked up at her. “No.”

“So how much do you think your lawyer prioritized looking for a random homeless guy you used to play chess with?” Libby’s hands made their way to her hips. “Have you tried to find him? Forget the puzzles. Forget the clues. Have you actually looked for the man?”

When she put it that way, I felt a little ridiculous. From inside Tobias Hawthorne’s game, everything I’d done made perfect sense. But from an outside perspective? We were going about all of this in the most roundabout way possible.

“You saw how hard it was to talk Oren and Alisa into letting me come here,” I said. “There’s no way they’ll let me jet off to New Castle to pick up Toby’s trail.”

“Do you want me to go?” The question was tentative, but Libby got over her hesitation pretty quickly. “I could take a trip home. No one would question why I might want to. I can bring security with me.”

“The paparazzi will follow you,” I warned. “You’re news by association.”

Libby ran a hand over her French braid and grinned. “I blend now. I’m not sure the paparazzi would even recognize me.”

All I could think in that moment was that I should have told her the truth days ago. What was wrong with me that I went to such lengths to keep the people who mattered most at a distance?

“It’s settled, then,” Libby declared. “You’ll fly back to Hawthorne House, and I’ll take the other plane to Connecticut.”

“Correction, darlin’.” Nash strolled back into the room. I couldn’t get a read on his expression, on any effect of the bombshell his brothers had just dropped. “We will.”

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