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Chapter no 7

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games, 2)

At some point after his son’s disappearance and supposed death, Tobias Hawthorne had walled off Toby’s wing. I’d seen it once: solid bricks laid over what I had assumed to be a door.

“Sorry,” I told Grayson, “I have to go.” I understood why he wanted me to leave the Toby situation alone. He probably wasn’t wrong. And yet…

Neither Oren nor his men trailed me when I left. The threats on the List

—they were external. And that meant that I could make my way to Toby’s wing without a shadow. I arrived to see Xander hoisting the sledgehammer over his shoulder. He caught sight of me out of the corner of his eye. “Pay no attention to this sledgehammer!”

“I know what you’re doing,” I told him.

“What sledgehammers were put on God’s green earth to do,” Xander replied solemnly.

I know,” I said again, waiting for those words to sink in.

Xander lowered the business end of the sledgehammer to the ground.

Brown eyes studied me intently. “What is it you think you know?”

I took my time with my reply. “I know that you didn’t want to answer my question about Toby. I know that you and Rebecca and Thea were up to something at lunch today.” I was building my way up to the true gambit here. “I know your uncle’s alive.”

Xander blinked, his incredible brain moving at what I could only assume was warp speed. “Did the old man say something in your letter?”

“No,” I said. Tobias Hawthorne had left us each a letter at the end of the last puzzle. “Did he say something in yours?”

Before Xander could answer, Jameson strolled up to join us. “Looks like a party.” He reached for the sledgehammer. “Shall we?”

Xander pulled it back. “Mine.”

“The sledgehammer,” Jameson replied loftily, “or what’s behind that

wall?”

“Both,” Xander gritted out, and there was a note of intensity in his voice that I’d never heard from him before. Xander was the youngest Hawthorne brother. The least competitive. The one who’d been in on their grandfather’s last game.

“Is that the way it is?” Jameson eyes narrowed. “Want to wrestle for it?”

That did not strike me as a rhetorical question. “Xander, your uncle and I know each other.” I cut in before any actual wrestling could take place. “I met Toby right after my mother died.” It took me a minute, maybe less, to lay out the rest of it, and when I’d finished, Xander stared at me, a little bit in awe.

“I should have seen it.” “Seen what?” I asked him.

“You weren’t just a part of their game,” Xander replied. “Of course you weren’t. The old man’s mind didn’t operate that way. He didn’t just choose you for them.”

Them being Grayson and Jameson. Their game being the one we’d already solved. “He left you a game, too,” I said slowly. It was the only thing that made sense. Nash had warned me once that their grandfather had, in all likelihood, never intended me to be a player.

I was the glass ballerina or the knife. A part of the puzzle. A tool. I narrowed my eyes at Xander. “Either tell us what you know, or give me that sledgehammer.”

No matter the old man’s intentions—I wasn’t here to be used.

“Not much to tell!” Xander declared jollily. “The old man left me a letter congratulating me for getting my hardheaded and much less handsome brothers to the end of their game. He signed the letter as Tobias Hawthorne, no middle initial, but when submerged in water, that signature became ‘Find Tobias Hawthorne the Second.’”

Find Toby. The old man had left his youngest grandson with that charge. And there was a good chance that the only real clue he’d left him… was me. Twelve birds with one stone.

“I guess that answers the question of whether the old man knew Toby was alive,” Jameson murmured.

Tobias Hawthorne knew. My entire body rang with that revelation.

“If we have Toby’s last known location,” Xander mused, “perhaps a

sledgehammering is unnecessary. My plan was to search his room and see if any clues turned up, but…”

I shook my head. “I have no idea how to find Toby. I asked Alisa to get money to him, right after I inherited, before I even knew who he was. He was already in the wind.”

Jameson cocked his head to the side. “Interesting.”

“Is Toby’s wing the lead you mentioned earlier?” I asked him. “Maybe it is,” Jameson said, grinning. “Or maybe it isn’t.”

“Far be it from me to interrupt banter,” Xander interjected. “But this is

my lead. And my sledgehammer!” He heaved it over his shoulder.

I stared at the wall and wondered what lay beyond it. “Are you sure about this?” I asked Xander.

He took a deep breath. “As sure as anyone holding a sledgehammer has ever been.”

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