Chapter no 91

The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, 1)

went to school, and when I came home, I called Max, knowing that she probably didn’t even have her phone. My call got sent to voicemail. “This is Maxine Liu. I’ve been sequestered in the technological equivalent of a virtual convent. Have a blessed day, you rotten scoundrels.”

I tried her brother’s phone and got sent to voicemail again. “You have reached Isaac Liu.” Max had commandeered his voicemail as well. “He is an entirely tolerable younger brother, and if you leave a message, he will probably call you back. Avery, if this is you, stop trying to get yourself killed. You owe me Australia!”

I didn’t leave a message—but I did make plans to see what it would take for Alisa to send the entire Liu family first-class tickets to Australia. I couldn’t travel until my time in Hawthorne House was up, but maybe Max could.

I owed her.

Feeling adrift and aching from what Grayson had said and the fact that Max wasn’t there to process it with, I went looking for Libby. We seriously needed to get her a new phone, because a person could get lost in this place.

I didn’t want to lose anyone else.

I might never have found her, but when I got close to the music room, I heard the piano playing. I followed the music and found Libby sitting on the piano bench beside Nan. They both sat with their eyes closed, listening.

Libby’s black eye had finally faded away. Seeing her with Nan made me think about Libby’s job back home. I couldn’t ask her to just keep sitting around Hawthorne House every day, doing nothing.

I wondered what Nash Hawthorne would suggest. I could ask her to put together a business plan. Maybe a food truck?

Or maybe she would want to travel, too. Until the will exited probate, I was limited as to what I could do—but the fine people at McNamara,

Ortega, and Jones had reason to want to stay on my good side. Eventually, the money would be mine. Eventually, it would exit the trust.

Eventually, I’d be one of the richest and most powerful women in the world.

The piano music ended, and my sister and Nan looked up and saw me.

Libby did her best mother-hen impression.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” she asked me. “You don’t look okay.”

I thought about Grayson. About Jameson. About what I’d been brought here to do. “I’m fine,” I told Libby, my voice steady enough that I could almost believe it.

She wasn’t fooled. “I’ll make you something,” she told me. “Have you ever had a quiche? I’ve never made a quiche.”

I had no real desire to try one, but baking was Libby’s way of showing love. She headed for the kitchen. I went to follow, but Nan stopped me.

“Stay,” she ordered.

There was nothing to do but obey.

“I hear my granddaughter is leaving,” Nan said tersely after letting me sweat it for a bit.

I considered dissembling, but she’d pretty much proven she wasn’t the type for niceties. “She tried to have me killed.”

Nan snorted. “Skye never did like getting her hands dirty herself. You ask me, if you’re going to kill someone, you should at least have the decency to do it yourself and do it right.”

This was probably the strangest conversation I’d ever had in my life— and that was saying something.

“Not that people are decent nowadays,” Nan continued. “No respect. No self-respect. No grit.” She sighed. “If my poor Alice could see her children now.…”

I wondered what it had been like for Skye and Zara, growing up in Hawthorne House. What it had been like for Toby.

What twisted them into this?

“Your son-in-law changed his will after Toby died.” I studied Nan’s expression, wondering if she’d known.

“Toby was a good boy,” Nan said gruffly. “Until he wasn’t.” I wasn’t sure quite what to make of that.

Her hands went to a locket around her neck. “He was the sweetest child,

smart as a whip. Just like his daddy, they used to say, but oh, that boy had a dose of me.”

“What happened?” I asked.

Nan’s expression darkened. “It broke my Alice’s heart. Broke all of us, really.” Her fingers tightened around the locket, and her hand shook. She set her jaw, then opened the locket. “Look at him,” she told me. “Look at that sweet boy. He’s sixteen here.”

I leaned down to get a better look, wondering if Tobias Hawthorne the Second had resembled any of his nephews. What I saw took my breath away.


“That’s Toby?” I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. “He was a good boy,” Nan said gruffly.

I barely heard her. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the picture. I couldn’t speak, because I knew that man. He was younger in the picture— much younger—but that face was unmistakable.

“Heiress?” A voice spoke up from the doorway. I looked to see Jameson standing there. He looked different than he had the past few days. Lighter, somehow. Marginally less angry. Capable of offering a lopsided little half smile to me. “What’s got your pants in a twist?”

I looked back down at the locket and sucked in a breath that scalded my lungs. “Toby,” I managed. “I know him.”

“You what?” Jameson walked toward me. Beside me, Nan went very still.

“I used to play chess with him in the park,” I said. “Every morning.”


“That’s impossible,” Nan said, her voice shaking. “Toby’s been dead for twenty years.”

Twenty years ago, Tobias Hawthorne had disinherited his family. What is this? What the hell is going on here?

“Are you sure, Heiress?” Jameson was right beside me now. I’ve seen the way Jameson looks at you, Grayson had said. “Are you absolutely certain?”

I looked at Jameson. This didn’t feel real. I have a secret, I could hear my mother telling me, about the day you were born.…

I reached for Jameson’s hand and squeezed hard. “I’m sure.”

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