Chapter no 38

The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, 1)

The solarium was an enormous room with a domed glass ceiling and glass walls. Jameson stood in the center, bathed in light and staring up at the dome overhead. Like the first time I’d met him, he was shirtless. Also like the first time I’d met him, he was drunk.

Grayson was nowhere to be seen.

“What’s the occasion?” I asked, nodding to a nearby bottle of bourbon. “Westbrook, Davenport, Winchester, Blackwood.” Jameson rattled the

names off, one by one. “Tell me, Heiress, what do you make of that?” “They’re all last names,” I said cautiously. I paused and then decided

why the hell not. “Your fathers’?”

“Skye doesn’t talk about our fathers,” Jameson replied, his voice a little hoarse. “As far as she’s concerned, it’s an Athena-Zeus type of situation. We’re hers and hers alone.”

I bit my lip. “She told me that she had four lovely conversations…” “With four lovely men,” Jameson finished. “But lovely enough for her to

ever see them again? To tell us the first thing about them?” His voice was harder now. “She’s never so much as answered a question about our damned middle names, and that”—he picked the bourbon up off the ground and took a swig—“is why I’m drinking.” He set the bottle back down, then closed his eyes, standing in the sun a moment longer, his arms spread wide. For the second time, I noticed the scar that ran the length of his torso.

Noticed each breath he took.

“Shall we go?” His eyes opened. His arms dropped.

“Go where?” I asked, so physically aware of his presence it almost hurt. “Come now, Heiress,” Jameson said, stepping toward me. “You’re better

than that.”

I swallowed and answered my own question. “We’re going to see your mother.”



He took me through the coat closet in the foyer. This time, I paid close attention to the sequence of panels on the wall that released the door. Following Jameson to the back of the closet, pushing past the coats that hung there, I willed my eyes to adjust to the dark so that I could see what he did next.

He touched something. Pulled it? I couldn’t make out what. The next thing I knew, I heard the sound of gears turning, and the back wall of the closet slid sideways. If the closet was dark, what lay beyond was even darker.

“Step where I step, Mystery Girl. And watch your head.”

Jameson used his cell phone to light the way. I got the distinct feeling that was for my benefit. He knew the twists and turns of these hidden hallways. We walked in silence for five minutes before he stopped and peeked through what I could only assume was a peephole.

“Coast is clear.” Jameson didn’t specify what it was clear of. “Do you trust me?”

I was standing in a phone-lit passageway, close enough to feel his body’s heat on mine. “Absolutely not.”

“Good.” He reached out, grabbed my hand, and pulled me close. “Hold on.”

My arms curved around him, and the ground beneath our feet began to move. The wall beside us was rotating, and we were rotating with it, my body pressed flat against his. Jameson Winchester Hawthorne’s. The motion stopped, and I stepped back.

We were here for a reason—and that reason had exactly nothing to do with the way my body fit against his.

They were a twisted, broken mess before you got here, and they’ll be a twisted, broken mess once you’re gone. The reminder echoed in my head as we stepped out into a long hallway with plush red carpet and gold moldings on the walls. Jameson strode toward a door at the end of the hall. He lifted his hand to knock.

I stopped him. “You don’t need me for this,” I said. “You didn’t need me for the will, either. Alisa had instructions to let you see it if you asked.”

“I need you.” Jameson knew exactly what he was doing—the way he

was looking at me, the tilt of his lips. “I don’t know why yet, but I do.”

Nash’s warning rang in my head. “I’m the knife.” I swallowed. “The fishing hook, the glass ballerina, whatever.”

That almost took Jameson by surprise. “You’ve been talking to one of my brothers.” He paused. “Not Grayson.” His eyes roved over mine. “Xander?” His gaze flicked down to my lips and up again. “Nash,” he said, certain of it.

“Is he wrong?” I asked. I thought about Tobias Hawthorne’s grandsons going to see him on their birthdays. They’d been expected to be extraordinary. They’d been expected to win. “Am I just a means to an end, worth keeping around until you know how I fit into the puzzle?”

“You are the puzzle, Mystery Girl.” Jameson believed that. “You could tap out,” he told me, “decide you can live without answers, or you could get them—with me.”

An invitation. A challenge. I told myself that I was doing this because I needed to know—not because of him. “Let’s get some answers,” I said.

When Jameson knocked on the door, it swung inward. “Mom?” he called, and then he amended the salutation. “Skye?”

The answer came, like the tinkling of bells. “In here, darling.”

Here, it became quickly apparent, was the bathroom in Skye’s suite. “Got a second?” Jameson stopped right outside the double doors to the


“Thousands of them.” Skye seemed to relish the reply. “Millions. Come in.”

Jameson stayed outside the doors. “Are you decent?”

“I like to think so,” his mother called back. “At least a good fifty percent of the time.”

Jameson pushed the bathroom door inward, and I was greeted by the sight of the biggest bathtub I’d ever seen in my life, sitting up on a dais. I focused on the tub’s claw-feet—gold, to match the moldings in the hallway

—and not the woman currently in the bathtub.

“You said you were decent.” Jameson did not sound surprised.

“I’m covered in bubbles,” Skye replied airily. “It doesn’t get any more decent than that. Now, tell your mother what you need.”

Jameson glanced back at me, as if to say and you asked why I needed the bourbon.

“I’ll stay out here,” I said, turning around before I caught sight of more than bubbles.

“Oh, don’t be a prude, Abigail,” Skye admonished from inside the bathroom. “We’re all friends here, aren’t we? I make it a policy to befriend everyone who steals my birthright.”

I’d never seen passive aggression quite like this.

“If you’re done messing with Avery,” Jameson interjected, “I’d like to have a little chat.”

“So serious, Jamie?” Skye sighed audibly. “Well, go on, then.”

“My middle name. I’ve asked you before if I was named after my father.”

Skye was quiet for a moment. “Hand me my champagne, would you?”

I heard Jameson moving around in the bathroom behind me— presumably, fetching her champagne. “Well?” he asked.

“If you’d been a girl,” Skye said, with the air of a bard, “I would have named you after myself. Skylar, perhaps. Or Skyla.” She took what I could only assume was a sip of champagne. “Toby was named for my father, you know.”

The mention of her long-gone brother caught my attention. I didn’t know how or why, but Toby’s death had somehow started this all.

“My middle name,” Jameson reminded her. “Where did you get it?”

“I’d be happy to answer your question, darling.” Skye paused. “Just as soon as you give me a moment alone with your delightful little friend.”

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