Chapter no 75

The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, 1)

made it through dinner without anyone trying to kill me, and Jameson never showed. I told Alisa that I needed some air, but I didn’t go outside. I couldn’t face the press again this soon, so I ended up in another wing of the museum instead, Oren playing shadow behind me.

The wing was closed. The lights were dim, and the exhibit rooms were blocked off, but the corridor was open. I walked down the long hall, Oren’s footsteps trailing mine. Up ahead, there was a light shining, bright against all its surroundings. The cord blocking off this exhibit room had been moved to one side. Stepping past it felt like stepping out of a dark theater and into the sun. The room was bright. Even the frames on the paintings were white. There was only one person in the room, wearing a tuxedo without the jacket.

“Jameson.” I said his name, but he didn’t turn. He was standing in front of a small painting, looking at it intently from three or four feet away. He glanced at me as I walked toward him, then turned back to the painting.

You saw me, I thought. You saw the way they did my hair. The room was quiet enough that I could hear the beating of my own heart. Say something.

He nodded toward the painting. “Cézanne’s Four Brothers,” he said as I came to stand beside him. “A Hawthorne family favorite, for obvious reasons.”

I made myself look at the painting, not at him. There were four figures on the canvas, their features blurred. I could make out the lines of their muscles. I could practically see them in motion, but the artist hadn’t been aiming for realism. My eyes went to the gold tag under the painting.

Four Brothers. Paul Cézanne. 1898. On loan from the collection of Tobias Hawthorne.

Jameson angled his face back toward mine. “I know you found the Davenport.” He arched an eyebrow. “You beat me to it.”

“So did Grayson,” I said.

Jameson’s expression darkened. “You were right. The tree in the Black Wood was just a tree. The clue we’re looking for is a number. Eight. One. One. There’s just one more.”

“There is no we,” I said. “Do you even see me as a person, Jameson? Or am I just a tool?”

“I might have deserved that.” He held my gaze a moment longer, then looked back at the painting. “The old man used to say that I have laser focus. I’m not built to care about more than one thing at a time.”

I wondered if that thing was the game—or her.

“I’m done, Jameson.” My words echoed in the white room. “With you.

With whatever this was.” I turned to walk away.

“I don’t care that you’re wearing Emily’s braid.” Jameson knew exactly what to say to make me stop. “I don’t care,” he repeated, “because I don’t care about Emily.” He let out a ragged breath. “I broke up with her that night. I got tired of her little games. I told her I was done, and a few hours later, she died.”

I turned back, and green eyes, a little bloodshot, settled on mine. “I’m sorry,” I said, wondering how many times he’d replayed their last conversation.

“Come with me to the Black Wood,” Jameson pleaded. He was right. He had laser focus. “You don’t have to kiss me. You don’t even have to like me, Heiress, but please don’t make me do this alone.”

He sounded raw, real in a way that he never had before. You don’t have to kiss me. He’d said that like he wanted me to.

“I hope I’m not interrupting.”

In unison, Jameson and I looked toward the doorway. Grayson stood there, and I realized that from his vantage point, all he would have seen of me when he’d walked into the room was the braid.

For a moment, Grayson and Jameson stared at each other.

“You know where I’ll be, Heiress,” Jameson told me. “If there’s any part of you that wants to find me.”

He brushed past Grayson on his way out the door. Grayson watched him go for the longest time before he turned back to me. “What did he say, when he saw you?”

When he saw my hair. I swallowed. “He told me that he broke up with

Emily the night she died.” Silence.

I turned back to look at Grayson.

His eyes were closed, every muscle in his body taut. “Did Jameson tell you that I killed her?”

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