Chapter no 37

The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, 1)

Whoa there, kid. Where’s the fire?”

I was back at Hawthorne House and headed to meet Jameson when another Hawthorne brother stopped me in my tracks. Nash.

“Avery just came from reading a special copy of the will,” Alisa said behind me. So much for her not telling her ex anything anymore.

“A special copy of the will.” Nash slid his gaze to me. “Would I be correct in assuming this has something to do with the gobbledygook in my letter from the old man?”

“Your letter,” I repeated, my brain whirring. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Tobias Hawthorne had left Grayson and Jameson with identical clues. Nash, too—and probably Xander.

“Don’t worry,” Nash drawled. “I’m sitting this one out. I told you, I don’t want the money.”

“The money is not at stake here,” Alisa said firmly. “The will—”

“—is ironclad,” Nash finished for her. “I believe I’ve heard that a time or two.”

Alisa’s eyes narrowed. “You never were very good at listening.”

Listen doesn’t always mean agree, Lee-Lee.” Nash’s use of the nickname—his amiable smile and equally amiable tone—sucked every ounce of oxygen out of the room.

“I should go.” Alisa turned, whip-fast, to me. “If you need anything—” “Call,” I finished, wondering just how high my eyebrows had risen at

their exchange.

When Alisa closed the front door behind her, she slammed it.

“You gonna tell me where you’re headed in such a hurry?” Nash asked me again, once she was gone.

“Jameson asked me to meet him in the solarium.”

Nash cocked an eyebrow at me. “Got any idea where the solarium is?”

I realized belatedly that I didn’t. “I don’t even know what a solarium is,” I admitted.

“Solariums are overrated.” Nash shrugged and gave me an assessing look. “Tell me, kid, what do you usually do on your birthday?”

That came out of nowhere. I felt like that had to be a trick question, but I answered anyway. “Eat cake?”

“Every year on our birthdays…” Nash stared off into the distance. “The old man would call us into his study and say the same three words. Invest. Cultivate. Create. He gave us ten thousand dollars to invest. Can you imagine letting an eight-year-old choose stocks?” Nash snorted. “Then we got to pick a talent or interest to cultivate for the year—a language, a hobby, an art, a sport. No expenses were spared. If you picked piano, a grand piano showed up the next day, private lessons started immediately, and by midway through the year, you’d be backstage at Carnegie Hall, getting tips from the greats.”

“That’s amazing,” I said, thinking about all the trophies I’d seen in Tobias Hawthorne’s office.

Nash didn’t exactly look amazed. “The old man also laid out a challenge every year,” he continued, his voice hardening. “An assignment, something we were expected to create by the next birthday. An invention, a solution, a work of museum-quality art. Something.”

I thought about the comic books I’d seen framed on the wall. “That doesn’t sound horrible.”

“It doesn’t, does it?” Nash said, ruminating on those words. “C’mon.” He jerked his head toward a nearby corridor. “I’ll show you to the solarium.”

He started walking, and I had to jog to keep up.

“Did Jameson tell you about the old man’s weekly riddles?” Nash asked as we walked.

“Yeah,” I said. “He did.”

“Sometimes,” Nash told me, “at the beginning of the game, the old man would lay out a collection of objects. A fishing hook, a price tag, a glass ballerina, a knife.” He shook his head in memory. “And by the time the puzzle was solved, damned if we hadn’t used all four.” He smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “I was so much older. I had an advantage. Jamie and Gray, they’d team up against me, then double-cross each other right at the


“Why are you telling me this?” I asked as his pace finally slowed to a near standstill. “Why tell me any of this?” About their birthdays, the presents, the expectations.

Nash didn’t answer right away. Instead, he nodded down a nearby hall. “Solarium’s the last door on the right.”

“Thanks,” I said. I walked toward the door Nash had indicated, and right before I reached my destination, he spoke up behind me.

“You might think you’re playing the game, darlin’, but that’s not how Jamie sees it.” Nash’s voice was gentle enough, but for the words. “We aren’t normal. This place isn’t normal, and you’re not a player, kid. You’re the glass ballerina—or the knife.”

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