Chapter no 18

The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, 1)

Xander left me to explore my wing.

My wing. I felt ridiculous even thinking the words. In my mansion. The first four doors led to suites, each of them sized to make a king bed look tiny. The closets could have doubled as bedrooms. And the bathrooms! Showers with built-in seats and a minimum of three different showerheads apiece. Gargantuan bathtubs that came with control panels. Televisions inlaid in every mirror.

Dazed, I made my way to the fifth and final door on my hall. Not a bedroom, I realized when I opened it. An office. Enormous leather chairs— six of them—sat in a horseshoe shape, facing a balcony. Glass display shelves lined the walls. Evenly spaced on the shelves were items that looked like they belonged in a museum—geodes, antique weaponry, statues of onyx and stone. Opposite the balcony, at the back of the room, was a desk. As I got closer, I saw a large bronze compass built into its surface. I trailed my fingers over the compass. It turned—northwest—and a compartment in the desk popped open.

This wing was where Tobias Hawthorne spent his last few months, I thought. Suddenly, I didn’t just want to look in the open compartment—I wanted to rifle through every drawer in Tobias Hawthorne’s desk. There had to be something, somewhere, that could tell me what he was thinking— why I was here, why he’d pushed his family aside for me. Had I done something to impress him? Did he see something in me?

Or Mom?

I got a closer look at the opened compartment. Inside, there were deep grooves, carved in the shape of the letter T. I ran my fingers across the grooves. Nothing happened. I tested the rest of the drawers. Locked.

Behind the desk, there were shelves filled with plaques and trophies. I walked toward them. The first plaque had the words United States of

America engraved on a gold background; underneath them, there was a seal. It took a little more reading of the smaller print for me to realize that it was a patent—and not one issued to Tobias Hawthorne.

This patent was held by Xander.

There were at least a half dozen other patents on the wall, several world records, and trophies in every shape imaginable. A bronze bull rider. A surfboard. A sword. There were medals. Multiple black belts. Championship cups—some of them national championships—for everything from motocross to swimming to pinball. There was a series of four framed comic books—superheroes I recognized, the kind they made movies about—authored by the four Hawthorne grandsons. A coffee table book of photographs bore Grayson’s name on the spine.

This wasn’t just a display. It was practically a shrine—Tobias Hawthorne’s ode to his four extraordinary grandsons. This made no sense. It didn’t make sense that any four people—three of them teenagers—could have achieved this much, and it definitely didn’t make sense that the man who’d kept this display in his office had decided that none of them deserved to inherit his fortune.

Even if you thought that you’d manipulated our grandfather into this, I could hear Xander saying, I guarantee that he’d be the one manipulating you.


The second I heard my name, I stepped back from the trophies. Hastily, I closed the compartment I’d released on the desk.

“In here,” I called back.

Libby appeared in the doorway. “This is unreal,” she said. “This entire place is unreal.

“That’s one word for it.” I tried to focus on the marvel that was Hawthorne House and not on my sister’s black eye, but I failed. If possible, the bruising looked worse now.

Libby wrapped her arms around her torso. “I’m fine,” she said when she noticed my stare. “It doesn’t even hurt that much.”

“Please tell me you’re done with him.” The words escaped before I could stop them. Libby needed support right now—not judgment. But I couldn’t help thinking that Drake had been her ex before.

“I’m here, aren’t I?” Libby said. “I chose you.”

I wanted her to choose herself, and I said as much. Libby let her hair fall into her face and turned toward the balcony. She was silent for a full minute before she spoke again.

“My mom used to hit me. Only when she was really stressed, you know? She was a single mom, and things were hard. I could understand that. I tried to make everything easier.”

I could picture her as a kid, getting hit and trying to make it up to the person who hit her. “Libby…”

“Drake loved me, Avery. I know he did, and I tried so hard to understand…” She was hugging herself harder now. The black polish on her nails looked fresh. Perfect. “But you were right.”

My heart broke a little. “I didn’t want to be.”

Libby stood there for a few more seconds, then walked over to the balcony and tested the door. I followed, and the two of us stepped out into the night air. Down below, there was a swimming pool. It must have been heated, because someone was swimming laps.

Grayson. My body recognized him before my mind did. His arms beat against the water in a brutally efficient butterfly stroke. And his back muscles…

“I have to tell you something,” Libby said beside me.

That let me tear my eyes away from the pool—and the swimmer. “About Drake?” I asked.

“No. I heard something.” Libby swallowed. “When Oren introduced me to my security detail, I overheard Zara’s husband talking. They’re running a test—a DNA test. On you.”

I had no idea where Zara and her husband had gotten a sample of my DNA, but I wasn’t entirely surprised. I’d thought it myself: The simplest explanation for including a total stranger in your will was that she wasn’t a total stranger. The simplest explanation was that I was a Hawthorne.

I had no business watching Grayson at all.

“If Tobias Hawthorne was your father,” Libby managed, “then our dad

my dad—isn’t. And if we don’t share a dad, and we barely even saw each other growing up—”

“Don’t you dare say we’re not sisters,” I told her.

“Would you still want me here?” Libby asked me, her fingers rubbing at her choker. “If we’re not—”

“I want you here,” I promised. “No matter what.”

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