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Chapter no 36

The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, 1)

The next day—Sunday—Oren drove me to Ortega, McNamara, and Jones to see the Red Will.

“Avery.” Alisa met Oren and me in the firm’s lobby. The place was modern: minimalist and full of chrome. The building looked big enough to host a hundred lawyers, but as Alisa walked us past a receptionist and security guard to an elevator bank, I didn’t see another soul.

“You said I was the firm’s only client,” I commented as the elevator began to climb. “Exactly how big is the firm?”

“There are a few different divisions,” Alisa replied crisply. “Mr. Hawthorne’s assets were quite diversified. That requires a diverse array of lawyers.”

“And the will I asked about, it’s here?” My pocket held a gift from Jameson: the square of red film we’d discovered taped to the inside cover of Faust. I’d told him I was coming here, and he’d handed it over, no questions asked, like he trusted me more than he trusted any of his brothers. “The Red Will is here,” Alisa confirmed. She turned to Oren. “How much company did we have today?” she asked. By company, she meant

paparazzi. And by we, she meant me.

“It’s tapered off a little,” Oren reported. “But odds are good that they’ll be piled outside the door by the time we leave.”

If we ended the day without at least one headline that said something along the lines of World’s Richest Teenager Lawyers Up, I’d eat a pair of Libby’s new boots.

On the third floor, we passed through another security checkpoint, and then, finally, Alisa led me to a corner office. The room was furnished but otherwise empty, with one exception. Sitting in the middle of a heavy mahogany desk was the will. By the time I saw it, Oren had taken up position outside the door. Alisa made no move to follow me when I

approached the desk. As I got closer, the type jumped out at me.

Red.

“My father was instructed to keep this copy here and show it to you—or the boys—if one of you came looking,” Alisa said.

I looked back at her. “Instructed,” I repeated. “By Tobias Hawthorne?” “Naturally.”

“Did you tell Nash?” I asked.

A cool mask settled over her face. “I don’t tell Nash anything anymore.” She gave me her most austere look. “If that’s all, I’ll leave you to it.”

Alisa never even asked what it was. I waited until I heard the door close behind her before I went to sit at the desk. I retrieved the film from my pocket. “Where there’s a will…,” I murmured, laying the square flat on the will’s first page. “There’s a way.”

I moved the red acetate over the paper, and the words beneath it disappeared. Red text. Red film. It worked exactly as Jameson and Grayson had described. If the entire will was written in red, all this was going to do was make everything disappear. But if, layered underneath the red text, there was another color, then anything written in that color would remain visible.

I made it past Tobias Hawthorne’s initial bequests to the Laughlins, to Oren, to his mother-in-law. Nothing. I got to the bit about Zara and Skye, and as I skimmed the red film over the words, they disappeared. I glanced down at the next sentence.

To my grandsons, Nash Westbrook Hawthorne, Grayson Davenport Hawthorne, Jameson Winchester Hawthorne, and Alexander Blackwood Hawthorne…

As I ran the film over the page, the words disappeared—but not all of them. Four remained.

Westbrook. Davenport. Winchester. Blackwood.

For the first time, I thought about the fact that all four of Skye’s sons bore her last name, their grandfather’s last name. Hawthorne. Each of the boys’ middle names was also a surname. Their fathers’ last names? I wondered. As my brain wrapped itself around that, I made my way through

the rest of the document. Part of me expected to see something when I hit my own name, but it disappeared, just like the rest of the text—everything except for the Hawthorne grandsons’ middle names.

“Westbrook. Winchester. Davenport. Blackwood.” I said them out loud, committed them to memory.

And then I texted Jameson—and wondered if he would text Grayson.

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