Chapter no 6

The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, 1)

Hawthorne House sat on a hill. Massive. Sprawling. It looked like a castle

—more suited to royalty than ranch country. There were a half dozen cars parked out front and one beat-up motorcycle that looked like it should be dismantled and sold for parts.

Alisa eyed the bike. “Looks like Nash made it home.” “Nash?” Libby asked.

“The oldest Hawthorne grandson,” Alisa replied, tearing her gaze from the motorcycle and staring up at the castle. “There are four of them total.”

Four grandsons. I couldn’t keep my mind from going back to the one Hawthorne I’d already met. Grayson. The perfectly tailored suit. The silvery gray eyes. The arrogance in the way he’d told me to assume he knew everything.

Alisa gave me a knowing look. “Take it from someone who’s both been there and done that—never lose your heart to a Hawthorne.”

“Don’t worry,” I told her, as annoyed with her assumption as I was with the fact that she’d been able to see any trace of my thoughts on my face. “I keep mine under lock and key.”



The foyer was bigger than some houses—easily a thousand square feet, like the person who had built it was afraid that the entryway might have to double as a place to host balls. Stone archways lined the foyer on either side, and the room stretched up two stories to an ornate ceiling, elaborately carved from wood. Even just looking up took my breath away.

“You’ve arrived.” A familiar voice drew my attention back down to earth. “And right on time. I trust there were no problems with your flight?”

Grayson Hawthorne was wearing a different suit now. This one was

black—and so were his shirt and his tie.

“You.” Alisa greeted him with a steely-eyed look.

“I take it I’m not forgiven for interfering?” Grayson asked. “You’re nineteen,” Alisa retorted. “Would it kill you to act like it?”

“It might.” Grayson flashed his teeth in a smile. “And you’re welcome.” It took me a second to realize that by interfering, Grayson meant coming to fetch me. “Ladies,” he said, “may I take your coats?”

“I’ll keep mine,” I replied, feeling contrary—and like an extra layer between me and the rest of the world couldn’t hurt.

“And yours?” Grayson asked Libby smoothly.

Still agog at the foyer, Libby shed her coat and handed it to him. Grayson walked underneath one of the stone arches. On the other side, there was a corridor. Small square panels lined the wall. Grayson laid a hand on one panel and pushed. He turned his hand ninety degrees, pushed in the next panel, and then, in a motion too fast for me to decode, hit at least two others. I heard a pop, and a door appeared, separating itself from the rest of the wall as it swung open.

“What the…” I started to say.

Grayson reached in and pulled out a hanger. “Coat closet.” That wasn’t an explanation. It was a label, like this was any old coat closet in any old house.

Alisa took that as her cue to leave us in Grayson’s capable hands, and I tried to summon up a response that wasn’t just standing there with my mouth open like a fish. Grayson went to close the closet, but a sound from deep within stopped him.

I heard a creak, then a bam. There was a shuffling sound back behind the coats, and then a figure in shadow pushed through them and stepped out into the light. A boy, maybe my age, maybe a little younger. He was wearing a suit, but that was where the similarities with Grayson ended. This boy’s suit was rumpled, like he’d taken a nap in it—or twenty. The jacket wasn’t buttoned. The tie lying around his neck wasn’t tied. He was tall but had a baby face—and a mop of dark, curly hair. His eyes were light brown and so was his skin.

“Am I late?” he asked Grayson.

“One might suggest that you direct that query toward your watch.” “Is Jameson here yet?” the dark-haired boy amended his question.

Grayson stiffened. “No.”

The other boy grinned. “Then I’m not late!” He looked past Grayson, to Libby and me. “And these must be our guests! How rude of Grayson not to introduce us.”

A muscle in Grayson’s jaw twitched. “Avery Grambs,” he said formally, “and her sister, Libby. Ladies, this is my brother, Alexander.” For a moment, it seemed like Grayson might leave it there, but then came the eyebrow arch. “Xander is the baby of the family.”

“I’m the handsome one,” Xander corrected. “I know what you’re thinking. This serious bugger beside me can really fill out an Armani suit. But, I ask you, can he jolt the universe on and up to ten with his smile, like a young Mary Tyler Moore incarnate in the body of a multiracial James Dean?” Xander seemed to have only one mode of speaking: fast. “No,” he answered his own question. “No, he cannot.”

He finally stopped talking long enough for someone else to speak. “It’s nice to meet you,” Libby managed.

“Spend a lot of time in coat closets?” I asked.

Xander dusted his hands off on his pants. “Secret passage,” he said, then attempted to dust off his pant legs with his hands. “This place is full of them.”

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