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Chapter no 87

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games, 2)

An hour later, I went in search of a Hawthorne. “I have something to tell you.”

Xander was in his “lab,” a hidden room where he built machines that did simple things in complicated ways. “Something to tell me? Is it possible you have me confused with one of my brothers?” he asked. “Because people don’t tell me things.”

He was tinkering with some kind of miniature catapult mechanism, part of a complicated chain reaction born from the brain of Xander Hawthorne.

“This was your game,” I said. “The old man left it to you.”

“Or so it appeared.” Xander settled a metal ball on the catapult. “At first.”

I gave him a look. “What do you mean?”

“Jameson has laser focus. Grayson always finishes what he starts. Even Nash, he might take the scenic route, but he’s wired to go from point A to point B.” Xander finished tinkering and finally turned to face me. “But me? I’m not wired that way. I start at point A, and somewhere along the way, I end up at the intersection of one hundred and twenty-seven and purple.” He shrugged. “It’s one of my many charms. My brain likes diversions. I follow the paths that I find. The old man knew that.” Xander shrugged. “Did he expect me to start the ball rolling this time? Yes. But where I’d end up?” Xander stepped back from his work and took in the entirety of the Rube Goldberg machine he’d built. “The old man knew damn well that it wasn’t going to be point B.”

I needed to tell someone what had happened. I’d chosen him because I felt like I owed it to him—like the universe, or maybe his grandfather, owed it to him. And now Xander was seeming an awful lot like someone who didn’t want closure.

Someone who didn’t need it.

“So where did you end up?” I asked.

Xander leaned forward and triggered the catapult. The metal ball sailed into a funnel, spiraled down a series of ramps, and hit a lever, dumping a bucket of water, releasing a balloon…

Eventually, the entire machine parted, revealing the wall behind it. That wall was covered with pictures—photographs of men with brown skin. The placards beneath the photographs informed me that every one of them had the last name Alexander.

I thought about the game we’d spent the past weeks playing. Sheffield Grayson. Jake Nash. Was this the detour that the old man had expected Xander to take?

“Do you want to know what I found?” I asked Xander.

“Sure,” he said gamely. “But before I forget: two things.” He held up his middle and index fingers. “First, this is Thea’s phone number.” He handed me a scrap of paper with the number scrawled across it. “I’m supposed to call her and let her know you’re alive.”

I frowned. “So why give me her number?” I asked.

“Because,” Xander replied, “when it comes to Thea, forewarned is forearmed.”

I narrowed my eyes. “What’s the second thing?” I asked suspiciously. Xander pressed a button, and the wall slid to reveal a second workshop.

“Voilà!”

My eyes widened as I took in the contents of that workshop. “Is that…” “Life-sized re-creations of the three most lovable droids in the Star Wars

universe.” Xander grinned. “For Max.”

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