Chapter no 79

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games, 2)

Eventually, they let Oren in to see me.

“The bomb was planted inside the plane’s engine—forensics suggests it had been there for days and was triggered remotely.” Oren had partially healed wounds running down the side of his jaw and across the backs of his hands. “Whoever triggered the explosion must have mistimed things. If you’d been two steps closer, you would have died.” His voice got tighter. “Two of my men didn’t make it.”

Devastating guilt drilled through me, a needle-thin icicle straight to the heart. I felt heavy and numb. “I’m sorry.”

Oren didn’t tell me not to be. He didn’t say that if I hadn’t pushed to go to Rockaway Watch, those men would still be alive.

“Wait…” I stared at him. “You said that the bomb was planted days before it exploded? Then the Rooneys”—the reason we’d brought so much security with us—“they weren’t the ones who…”

“No,” Oren confirmed.

Someone planted that bomb. “It must have been planted sometime after True North.” I tried to be logical about this, tried to view it from a distance without thinking about the fire, the lightning, the pain. “That man at True North, the professional…” My voice caught in my throat. “Who was he working for?”

Before Oren could answer, I heard the familiar sound of heels on the wood floor. Alisa appeared in the doorway. She stepped across the threshold, and when her eyes landed on me, she reached out to a nearby armoire, her fingers gripping the edge with knuckle-whitening ferocity. “Thank God,” she muttered. She closed her eyes, battling for calm, then opened them again. “I appreciate you telling your men to stand down.”

That was directed at Oren, not me.

“You have five minutes,” he said coldly.

Hurt flashed across Alisa’s features, and I remembered what Max had said. Alisa had moved me back here without permission. With my life on the line, she’d acted to save my inheritance.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Alisa said—to me this time. “It worked, didn’t it?”

I was here. I was alive. And I was still a billionaire.

“It cost me dearly.” Alisa held my gaze. “It cost me this family. But it worked.”

I didn’t know what to say to that. “What’s the status of the police investigation about the bombing?” I asked. “Do they have any idea who…”

“The police made an arrest yesterday.” Alisa’s tone was brisker now, no- nonsense. Familiar. “The job was a professional one, obviously, but the police traced it back to Skye Hawthorne and…” She had the decency to hesitate, just for a moment. “Ricky Grambs.”

That answer shouldn’t have been surprising. It shouldn’t have mattered to me, but for a split second, I saw myself at four years old. I saw Ricky lifting me up and putting me on his shoulders.

I swallowed. “His name is on my birth certificate. If I die, he and Libby are my heirs.” It was the same song in a different key, courtesy of Skye Hawthorne.

“There’s something else you should know,” Alisa told me quietly. “We got back the DNA test you ordered.”

Of course she had. I’d been out for a week. “I know,” I said. “Ricky’s not my father.”

Alisa walked to stand beside my bed. “That’s the thing, Avery. He is.”

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