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Chapter no 3

The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, 1)

My ancient Pontiac was a piece of junk, but at least the heater worked. Mostly. I parked at the diner, around the back, where no one would see me. Libby texted, but I couldn’t bring myself to text back, so I ended up just staring at my phone instead. The screen was cracked. My data plan was practically nonexistent, so I couldn’t go online, but I did have unlimited texts.

Besides Libby, there was exactly one person in my life worth texting. I kept my message to Max short and sweet: You-know-who is back.

There was no immediate response. Max’s parents were big on “phone- free” time and confiscated hers frequently. They were also infamous for intermittently monitoring her messages, which was why I hadn’t named Drake and wouldn’t type a word about where I was spending the night. Neither the Liu family nor my social worker needed to know that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be.

Setting my phone down, I glanced at my backpack in the passenger seat, but decided that the rest of my homework could wait for morning. I laid my seat back and closed my eyes but couldn’t sleep, so I reached into the glove box and retrieved the only thing of value that my mother had left me: a stack of postcards. Dozens of them. Dozens of places we’d planned to go together.

Hawaii. New Zealand. Machu Picchu. Staring at each of the pictures in turn, I imagined myself anywhere but here. Tokyo. Bali. Greece. I wasn’t sure how long I’d been lost in thought when my phone beeped. I picked it up and was greeted by Max’s response to my message about Drake.

That mother-faxer. And then, a moment later: Are you okay?

Max had moved away the summer after eighth grade. Most of our communication was written, and she refused to write curse words, lest her parents see them.

So she got creative.

I’m fine, I wrote back, and that was all the impetus she needed to unleash her righteous fury on my behalf.

THAT FAXING CHIPHEAD CAN GO STRAIGHT TO ELF AND EAT A BAG OF DUCKS!!!

A second later, my phone rang. “Are you really okay?” Max asked when I answered.

I looked back down at the postcards in my lap, and the muscles in my throat tightened. I would make it through high school. I’d apply for every scholarship I qualified for. I’d get a marketable degree that allowed me to work remotely and paid me well.

I’d travel the world.

I let out a long, jagged breath, and then answered Max’s question. “You know me, Maxine. I always land on my feet.”

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