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Chapter no 71

The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, 1)

After my session with Landon, she dropped me off in my bedroom, where my style team awaited. I could have told them that I wasn’t going to the gala, but Landon had gotten me thinking: What kind of message would that send?

That I was afraid? That I was hiding away—or hiding something? That Libby was guilty?

She’s not. That was what I kept telling myself, over and over again. I was halfway through hair and makeup when Libby let herself into my bedroom. My stomach muscles clenched, my heart jumping into my throat. Her face was streaked with running makeup. She’d been crying.

She didn’t do anything wrong. She didn’t. Libby hesitated for three or four seconds, then threw herself at me, catching me up in the biggest, tightest hug of my life. “I’m sorry. I am so, so sorry.”

I had a moment—exactly one—where my blood ran cold.

“I should have blocked him,” Libby continued. “But for what it’s worth, I just put my phone in the blender. And then I turned the blender on.”

She wasn’t apologizing for aiding and abetting Drake. She was apologizing for not blocking his number. For fighting with me when I’d wanted her to.

I bowed my head, and a set of hands immediately lifted my chin back up as the stylists continued their work.

“Say something,” Libby told me.

I wanted to tell her that I believed her, but even saying the words felt disloyal, like an acknowledgment that I really hadn’t been sure until now. “You’re going to need a new phone,” I said.

Libby gave a strangled little laugh. “We’re also going to need a new blender.” She swiped the heel of her right hand across her eyes.

“No tears!” the man making me up barked. That was aimed at me, not

Libby, but she straightened, too. “You want to look like the picture we were given, correct?” the man asked me, aggressively working some mousse through my hair.

“Sure,” I replied. “Whatever.” If Alisa had given them a picture, that was one less decision for me to make, one less thing to think about.

Like the current billion-dollar question: If Drake had shot at me, and Libby hadn’t let him onto the estate—who had?

 

 

An hour later, I stood facing the mirror. The stylists had braided my hair, but it wasn’t just a braid. They’d divided my hair in half and then each half into thirds. Each third had been bisected, and one half was wound around the other, giving the hair a spiraling, ropelike look. Tiny, transparent hair ties and an ungodly amount of hair spray had held that in place as they’d begun to French-braid my hair on each side. I had no idea what exactly had happened next, other than the fact that it had hurt like hell and required all four of my stylists’ hands plus one of Libby’s, but the final braid wrapped around my head to frame one side of my face. The coils were multicolored, showing off my lowlights and the natural blonde streaks in my ashy-brown hair. The effect was hypnotizing, like nothing I’d ever seen.

The makeup was less dramatic—natural, fresh, understated everywhere but the eyes. I had no idea what witchcraft they’d invoked, but my charcoal- lined eyes looked twice their normal size, and green—a true green, with flecks that looked more gold than brown.

“And the pièce de résistance…” One of the stylists slipped a necklace around my neck. “White gold and three emeralds.”

The jewels were the size of my thumbnail. “You look beautiful,” Libby told me.

I looked nothing like myself. I looked like someone who belonged at a ball, and still, I almost backed out of going to the gala. The one thing that kept me from throwing in the towel was Libby.

If there was ever a time for me to control the narrative, it was now.

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