Only the Good Spy Young, page 10part #4 of Gallagher Girls Series
"Mind where youre going, Baxter," he said as she handed one apple back to him. But there was a glint in Bexs eyes as she turned her back to us, pulled another apple from behind her back, and took a big bite.
I just sat there wondering what Grandma Morgan would say if she knew what we were doing - no doubt something about forbidden fruit.
The Operatives engaged in a basic four-man rotating surveillance detail, tracking The Target through the Gallagher Mansion.
It would have been nice to have comms units. Every operative in the world can tell you the extreme disadvantages of tailing someone who knows what you look like. And to be perfectly honest, its always easier when your co-agents are all well-trained and confident field agents and not . . . well . . . Liz.
"Oopsy daisy," Liz whispered as she missed a step on the big stone staircase that led to the old chapel.
I could hear Townsends steps in the corridor above me. After forty-five minutes of following him through the library and watching from a window while Bex trailed him across the grounds - not to mention one very scary moment involving Liz, a suit of armor, and Professor Buckinghams black cat - my roommates and I paused on the steps, listening as Townsend walked faster, but toward what or who, I didnt know until I heard him call, "Mosckowitz, a word. "
"Oh, hello, Agent Townsend! Out for a run I see. I tried running for a while. It was really a good . . . fit for me. "
Which was sort of an understatement if you ask any of the girls who remember the semester we had to have encryption lessons on the ground floor because Mr. Mosckowitz sprained both his ankles by falling into a ditch.
I watched Bex ease ahead, then signal to the three of us to follow her up the stairs.
Crouched on the landing, I could see two shadows - Agent Townsends much longer and leaner that Mr. Ms - as they stretched across the floor.
"Look here, Mosckowitz," Townsend said. I didnt hear a footstep but I saw his shadow move. "I was told you were a codes man. "
"I . . . I am," Mr. Mosckowitz said, but he sounded like he didnt quite believe it.
"I was under the impression that you were the best. "
"Im . . . pretty good," Mr. Mosckowitz said, which was perhaps the understatement of the century.
"So why havent you cleared up this mess with the sublevels? Theyre used for the instruction of Covert Operatives, are they not?" Townsend said.
"Well, yes . . . "
"And I am the Covert Operations instructor, am I not?"
"Someone needs instruct him," Bex whispered, but my best friends didnt move. We all stayed silent, staring at the two shadows on the floor.
"Well, see, its . . . complicated," Mr. Mosckwitz said.
Uncomplicate it," said Townsend.
"Every generation adds a new level of defenses, and while the new ones are . . . well, theyre good, the old ones are . . . "
"What?" Townsend snapped.
"Old," Mr. Mosckowitz said simply. "Dr. Fibs and I have been working on a theory about how some of the older mechanisms might work, but to tell you the truth, most of them werent meant to be overridden. If they were ever activated, it was supposed to be . . . " He made a gesture with his hands. "Ka boom. "
Townsend gave a slow laugh "And you and Buckingham wouldnt be slow-playing this process, would, you?"
"We could override the more recent safety protocols, and you could go down there tonight, but . . . "
"Some of the most top secret artifacts in the world might be destroyed, and . . . "
"Youd probably die. " Mr. Mosckowitzs shadow moved across the floor, easing away.
And then the longer shadow tossed something high into the air. I saw it tumbling, spinning. The hand that reached out to catch it moved as fast as light.
"I want access to those sublevels, Mosckowitz. " There was a sickening crunch as Townsend took a bite. "Make it happen. Make it happen soon. "
"Liz!" Bex hissed twenty minutes later. "How much did you put in there?"
Liz shrugged and looked slightly guilty. And slightly wicked. It was a terribly evil combination. "I couldnt be sure hed eat it all, and if he just took one bite, that might not be enough to -"
"Liz," I whispered, needing her to get to the point.
"Five times more that recommended!" she blurted.
At the end of the hall I heard a crash. Our four heads peered around the corner just in time to see Agent Townsend stumble away from the shards of a shattered vase.
We looked at Liz, who whispered, "Maybe six. "
When turned back to the hall, Townsend was standing thirty feet, staring at us. I was sure we were busted. But then Agent Townsend stopped and gave a sloppy wave.
"Im going to my room!" he called, and then he turned and collapsed onto the plush cushions of one of my favorite window seats. He tried to pull the red velvet curtains around he like a blanket.
"What are you doing in my room?" he snapped as I appeared beside him. And then he seemed to realize that his "room" was two feet deep and three feet long. "Is this my room?"
I shook my head. "No. "
"Oh. " His blue eyes had warmed somehow, as though something in that apple had caused all his defenses to thaw.
"Should we ask him something to . . . you know . . . test it?" Macey asked.
When my roommates looked at me, I realized we hadnt had interrogation training yet.
Not even Mr. Solomon had taught us how to do that.
Fortunately, as with most things covert, Bex was a natural.
"Is there really a Loch Ness Monster?" she asked.
Townsend shrugged. "Of course there is. Chemical warfare training went awry in the thirties. Had to lock the thing up somewhere. "
"Were the crown jewels really stolen and replaced with faked in 1962?"
He smiled. "Only the rubies. "
"Where is Mr. Solomon?"
"That, I do not know. " He raised his eyebrows. "Yet. "
"Why are the CIA and MI6 after Mr. Solomon?"
"Oh, you know that, Ms. Morgan. " Despite the slurred speech, the words were enough to make my heart race. "Anyone who has been a part of the Circle since the age of sixteen is someone we would like to have a chat with. "
"Why did you come here?" Bex asked.
"To track a fox, you start at its den. "
"What do you know about my mother?"
Townsend turned his head toward the window. His breath fogged up the glass . I was beginning to think he hadnt heard me when he whispered, "They wont hurt her. "
And with those words, a dread like I had never known filled my chest. "Someone has my mother?" I grabbed his shirt and pulled him closer, forcing him to look at me. "Who?" I shook him. "Who has her?"
His smile was oddly vacant. "We do. "
My hands went rigid, forming fists around his collar.
"We? Whos we? Where is my mother?" I yelled, but Townsend was drifting. His eyelids fluttered. He stared out the wavy glass as if hed never seen a window before.
"It is beautiful here," he said, then closed his eyes and drifted to sleep.
I released my grasp, watched him land against the pillows. He looked as peaceful as a baby.
And then Liz slapped him. Ys, actual slappage.
He shuddered awake, his eyes clear for one brief second.
"No!" Liz yelled, slapping him again. "Youre wrong!" she snapped.
"Liz . . . " Bex reached for her, but Liz lashed out again.
"Youre wrong!" she yelled. "Mrs. Morgan is going to come back, and were going to clear Mr. Solomons name, and then this school will have a real teacher again. "
"Oh now, I doubt that. " There was something of the man from London creeping back into his voice. He smiled. "I dont think Rachel Morgan would want to work beside the man who killed her husband.
It was too hot inside the mansion. I remember passing roaring fires and
pushing through crowed hallways as if I might never breathe fresh air again. Fire. It felt like the world was on fire.
"Cammie!" Bex called behind me, but I didnt stop until I was across the foyer and pushing against the heavy doors.
I didnt have a coat. The sky above me heavy, dark, and gray as I crossed the field that stretched from the mansion to the woods.
"Cammie," Bex called again. Behind her, I saw Liz and Macey running closer.
"Cam, are you okay?" Liz called, and I whirled.
"No!" I didnt know I was shouting. I only knew the word had been trapped inside of me, boiling. "No! Im not okay. "
My roommates stopped, frozen. They seemed afraid to get too close.
"We dont know what he meant by that," Liz told me. "We dont know where he got his information or if his sources are secure. We dont know what that meant. "
"No. " I shook my head. "Thats just it. We dont know anything. I know bombs and antidotes and how to say parakeet in Portuguese, but I dont know where my father is buried. "
Lizs eyes were red as they stared into mine. "Cammie, its okay. Its going to be okay. "
"Mr. Solomon killed my dad. Mr. Solomon . . . "
As I trailed off, Bex stepped closer. She reached for me, but I jerked away.
"They want me . . . alive. " Hot tears stung inside my eyes. My throat burned. "They need me alive!" I screamed, unable to stop the words. "How am I supposed to be? What am I supposed to feel?"
"I know how you feel, Cam," Macey said.
"You dont -"
"Cammie!" Ill never forget the tone of Maceys voice in that moment. "Cam," she said slowly, moving toward me, "I know how it feels to be watched every second of every day. I know what its like to rust fewer and fewer people until you feel like you are completely alone in the world. I know you think that the only things that are left in your life are the bad things. I know what youre feeling, Cam. " Her hands were on my shoulders. Her blue eyes were staring into mine. "I know. "
For two months Id lived with the knowledge that the Circle of Cavan was after me, thinking that no one could possibly know what that felt like. Like no matter where you were or who you were with, you were never safe. But I was wrong . . . someone dad. And she was standing right in front of me.
"He wont tell me where my mother is," I said softly. "Agent Townsend knows - he knows! And he wont -"
"Well find her, Cam," Bex said, reaching for me. "We will. "
"Yeah," Liz said, joining us.
"Well track your mom down - track her to the end of the earth if we have to - and then well ask her . . . "
The air felt warmer with my friends there around me. I felt my heartbeat start to slow as I heard a voice behind me say, "Ask me what?"
She was there. My mother was there. It felt so strange to see her - to hear her voice, watch the way she walked with us to the front doors and up the Grand Staircase - as if nothing at all had happened since putting me in a limo with the Baxters in December and waving good-bye.
"Mom, I -"
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