It’s chapter 2, baby boo! I won’t delay you any further other than to say… WHAT HAPPENED IN THE CELLAR?!?!
That night, I slid into bed, Egyptian cotton sheets cool and smooth against my skin. As I waited for Jameson’s call, my hand drifted toward the nightstand, to a small bronze pin in the shape of a key.
“Pick a hand.” Jameson holds out two fists. I tap his right hand, and he uncurls his fingers, presenting me with an empty palm. I try the left—the same. Then he curls my fingers into a fist. I open them, and there, in my palm, sits the pin.
“You solved the keys faster than any of us,” Xander reminds me. “It’s past time for this!”
“Sorry, kid,” Nash drawls. “It’s been six months. You’re one of us now.”
Grayson says nothing, but when I fumble to put the pin on and it drops from my fingers, he catches it before it hits the ground.
That memory wanted to loop into another—Grayson, me, the wine cellar—but I wouldn’t let it. In the past few months, I’d developed my own methods of distraction. Grabbing my phone, I navigated to a crowd-funding site and did a search for medical bills and rent. The Hawthorne fortune wasn’t mine for another six weeks, but the partners at McNamara, Ortega, and Jones had already seen to it that I had a credit card with virtually no limit.
Keep gift anonymous. I clicked that box again and again. When my phone finally rang, I leaned back and answered. “Hello.”
“I need an anagram of the word naked.” There was a hum of energy to Jameson’s voice.
“No, you don’t.” I rolled over onto my side. “How’s Tuscany?”
“The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance? Full of winding roads, hills and valleys, where a morning mist rolls out in the distance, and the forests are littered with leaves so golden red that the entire world feels like it’s on fire in the very best way? That Tuscany?”
“Yes,” I murmured. “That Tuscany.”
“I’ve seen better.”
“What do you want to hear about first, Heiress: Siena, Florence, or the vineyards?”
I wanted all of it, but there was a reason Jameson was using the standard Hawthorne gap year to travel. “Tell me about the villa.” Did you find anything?
“Your Tuscan villa was built in the seventeenth century. It’s supposedly a farmhouse but looks more like a castle, and it’s sur‑ rounded by more than a hundred acres of olive orchard. There’s a pool, a wood-fired pizza oven, and a massive stone fireplace original to the house.”
I could picture it. Vividly—and not just because I had a binder of photos. “And when you checked the fireplace?” I didn’t have to ask if he had checked the fireplace.
“I found something.”
I sat up, my hair falling down my back. “A clue?”
“Probably,” Jameson replied. “But to what puzzle?”
My entire body felt electric. “If you don’t tell me, I will end you, Hawthorne.”
“And I,” Jameson replied, “would very much enjoy being ended.” My traitorous lips threatened a smile. Tasting victory, Jameson gave me my answer. “I found a triangular mirror.”
Just like that, my brain was off to the races. Tobias Hawthorne had raised his grandsons on puzzles, riddles, and games. The mirror was probably a clue, but Jameson had been right: There was no telling what game it was meant to be a part of. In any case, it wasn’t what he was traveling the world looking for.
“We’ll figure out what the disk was.” Jameson as good as read my mind. “The world is the board, Heiress. We just have to keep rolling the dice.”
Maybe, but this time we weren’t following a trail or playing one of the old man’s games. We were feeling around in the dark, hoping that there might be answers out there—answers that would tell us why a small coinlike disk engraved with concentric circles was worth a fortune.
Why Tobias Hawthorne’s namesake and only son had left that disk for my mother.
Why Toby had snatched it back from me before he’d disappeared, off to play dead again.
Toby and that disk were my last connections to my mother, and they were gone. It hurt to think about that for too long. “I found another entry to the passageways today,” I said abruptly.
“Oh, really?” Jameson replied, the verbal equivalent of holding out a hand at the beginning of a waltz. “Which one did you find?”
On the other end of the phone line, there was a brief but unmistakable silence.
Realization dawned on me. “You didn’t know about that one.” Victory was so very sweet. “Would you like me to tell you where it is?” I crooned.
“When I get back,” Jameson murmured, “I’ll find it myself.”
I had no idea when he was coming back, but soon my year at Hawthorne House would be up. I would be free. I could go anywhere, do anything—and everything.
“Where are you headed next?” I asked Jameson. If I let myself think too much about everything, I would drown in it—in wanting, in longing, in believing we could have it all.
“Santorini,” Jameson replied. “But say the word, Heiress, and—”
“Keep going. Keep looking.” My voice went hoarse. “Keep telling me everything.”
“Everything?” Jameson repeated in a rough, low tone that made me think of what the two of us could be doing if I were there with him.
I rolled over onto my stomach. “The anagram you were looking for? It’s knead.”