Chapter no 50

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games, 2)

You’re going to need someone to run interference if you want to search Zara’s wing.” Grayson had apparently meant it when he promised to help me see this through to the end.

“Gray excels at distraction,” Jameson said loftily. “I attribute it to his uncanny ability to be boring and long-winded on cue.”

Grayson didn’t rise to the bait. “We’ll need to make sure Constantine stays clear, too.”

“I, too, excel at the art of distraction,” Max volunteered. “I attribute it to my ability to channel any or all of my favorite fictional spies on cue.”

“Grayson and Max can set up a perimeter.” Xander’s voice was uncharacteristically muted. “Jameson, Avery, and I will do a sweep of the wing.”

Rebecca had split the moment the plane landed. Thea hadn’t lingered long once Rebecca was gone. Xander’s team had abandoned him, but he wasn’t backing down.

He wasn’t about to let Jameson and me search for the ring on our own.

“This is a very bad idea.” Eli didn’t even pretend that he hadn’t been eavesdropping.

That’s why we waited until Oren was off duty to do it, I thought.



The door to Zara’s wing was at least ten feet tall—and locked.

“Do you want to pick it?” Jameson asked Xander. “Or should I?”

Two minutes later, the three of us were in. Grayson and Max stayed behind and took up posts at the far ends on the hall. Eli grumbled as he followed me into the belly of the beast.

A quick inspection told me there were seven doors lining the main hall in Zara’s wing. Behind three of them we found bedrooms, each one the equivalent of an entire suite. Two of the three suites were clearly in use.

“Do Zara and her husband sleep in different rooms?” I asked Jameson. “Don’t know,” he replied.

“Don’t want to know,” Xander added cheerily.

I saw men’s shoes in one room. The other was immaculate. Zara’s. There was a marble fireplace near the back of the room. Built-in shelves lined the wall to the left. There were books on the shelves, large, leather- bound volumes. The kind of books a person displayed, not the kind they read.

“If I were a person whose bookshelves looked like that,” I murmured, “where would I keep my jewelry?”

“A safe,” Xander answered, probing a molding on the wall.

Jameson stepped past me, letting his body brush mine. “And that safe,” Jameson told me, “is assuredly hidden.”

It took ten minutes for our search to hit pay dirt: a remote control taped to the bookshelf, behind one of the leather-bound books. I peeled off the tape and got a better look at the remote, which had only one button.

“Well, Heiress…” Jameson flashed me a smile. “Will you do the honors?”

Looking at that smile, I flashed back to the hot tub. There was no reason for me to be thinking about it. No reason for me to be thinking about Jameson that way right now.

I pushed the button.

As the massive built-in shelves began to move, slowly disappearing into the wall, I stared at what had been hidden behind them. “More shelves,” I said, dumbfounded. “And… more books?”

Rows of paperbacks were stacked two deep. Romance. Science fiction. Cozy mysteries and paranormal. I tried to picture Zara reading a romance novel, or a space opera, or the type of mystery that had a cat and a ball of yarn on the cover—and couldn’t.

“If we take the books off these shelves, will we find another remote?” Xander postulated. “And more shelves? And another remote? And—” Xander cut off.

It took me a second to realize what he’d heard: the sound of high heels

clicking against the wood floor.


Jameson pulled me into the closet. If it had been hard not to think of the hot tub before, it was impossible now.

“So much for Gray’s distraction,” he murmured into my neck as he pulled me close, and we disappeared back into the seemingly endless racks of clothes. I stood still, barely breathing and all too aware that he was doing the same behind me.

Xander must have hidden, too, because for several seconds, the only sound in the bedroom was the clicking of Zara’s heels. I willed my heart to stop beating so hard and tried to stay focused on tracking Zara’s movements

—not on the way my body fit against Jameson’s.

Not on the fact that I could feel his heart beating, too.

The footsteps stopped directly outside the closet. I felt Jameson’s breath on the back of my neck and pushed back the urge to shiver. Don’t move. Don’t breathe. Don’t think.

“The bodyguard positioned at the door is a dead giveaway,” Zara called, her voice as clear as a bell and sharp as a knife. “You might as well come out.”

Jameson pressed a finger to my lips, then stepped out of our hiding place, leaving me hidden in shadow, still feeling the ghost of his touch. “I was hoping we could talk,” he told his aunt.

“Of course,” Zara replied smoothly. “After all, the proper way of starting a conversation often involves lurking in your conversation partner’s closet.” She peered past Jameson to the rack of clothes where I was still hiding. “I’m waiting.”

After a long moment, I stepped out. “Now,” Zara said. “Explain.”

I swallowed. “Your father left you his wedding ring.” “I am aware,” Zara replied.

“Twenty years ago, when the old man first revised his will to disinherit you all, he left you the exact same thing,” Jameson added.

Zara arched an eyebrow at us. “And?”

“Can we see it?” That was Xander, who had poked his head out of the bathroom. Even though he was the one who’d asked the question, I was the one who received the response.

“Allow me to get this straight,” Zara said, staring past Jameson and straight to me. “You, to whom my father left virtually everything, want the one and only thing he left to me?”

“When she puts it that way,” Max said, appearing in the doorway, “it does sound like kind of a deck move.” Behind her, I could see Eli. He wasn’t acting like Zara was a threat.

“Five minutes.” Jameson flipped into negotiation mode. “Just give us five minutes with the ring. There must be something you want. Name your terms.”

Again, Zara’s attention stayed focused on me. “Five million dollars.” Her smile didn’t come even close to reaching her eyes. “I’ll give you lot five minutes with my father’s ring,” she enunciated, “for the low, low price of five million dollars.”

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