Only the Good Spy Young, page 14part #4 of Gallagher Girls Series
At the edge of the square, a streetlight flickered. Shadows crept across the grass for a split second, and I flinched, remembering the last Id been alone with Zach and the lights had gone out. I remembered the sound of a gunshot and the sight of my aunt falling to the dark street, while one of the Circles agents stood between me and freedom. But instead of firing, he had looked at Zach and said, "You?"
"What are you doing here, Zach?" I asked, my throat suddenly too dry.
"He asked me to get a message to you. "
"So send me a message! What was so important that I had to risk my friends safety to sneak out here?" I demanded. "Huh? What was so -"
"I had to see you. " He closed the space between us. His hands were warm from his pockets as they closed around my fingers. "I had to know that you were okay. I had to see you and touch you and . . . know. "
He brushed my hair away from my face, his fingers light against my skin. "In London . . . " He trailed off. "After D. C. . . . "
"Im fine," I said, easing away. "CAT scans and X-rays were normal. No lasting damage. "
Most people believe me when I lie. Ive learned how to say the words just right. I have a trusting kind of face. But the boy in front of me was a trained operative, so Zach knew better. And besides, Zach knew me.
"Really?" He touched my face again. "Cause Im not. "
I know Zachary Goode. Ive touched him and spoken to him and felt his lips on mine, but I dont know him - not really.
I could feel the clock ticking and knew that the girl Id been the year before was officially out of time.
"Im fine, Zach," I said, pulling away. "But Ive got to go. We only have a half hour before they miss us. "
He pointed to the darkness. "Who else is out there?"
"The usuals," I said, still not wanted to give away too much.
"Your mom?" he asked, but I didnt have to say anything - he read the answer in my eyes.
"Good," Zach said. "He doesnt want her taking the risk. "
"What does he care? If he cared about her, then . . . " I trembled.
"So they told you?" he asked stepping away.
"Yeah. They told me hes part of the Circle , and he . . . My father is dead because of him. " My heart was pounding hard inside my chest. My throat was on fire. "Is this the part where you deny it?"
"No. " Zach shook his head. "Its the part where I asked a favor. "
"Youve got a lot of nerve," Bex said, moving closer, but Zachs gaze never left mine.
"Theres a book, Gallagher Girl," he said, then swallowed. "It might be the only thing the Circle wants more as much as they want you. "
"What kind of book?" I asked.
"A journal. Joe - Mr. Solomon - needs you to read it. "
"Why?" I asked.
"It explains everything, Gallagher Girl. And besides, if he doesnt make it out of this . . .
He needs you to read it. "
"Where is it?" Bex asked.
"Youre not going to like it. Its risky and -"
"Where is it?" Bex, Macey, and I demanded in unison.
"Sublevel Two. "
"The subs?" Bex shook her head. "No. Cant. Theyre closed. Off-limits. "
"Oh, and off-limits has always stop you before?" Zach asked her. Look, theyre not technically closed - theyre just rigged to explode if anyone goes near them," he said as if we encounter highly dangerous explosives every day. And . . . well . . . we sort of do.
"How do you know about the subs?"
"Because a week before I saw you in London, Joe heard the CIA had a source whod started talking. He had to get off the grid and stay off the grid - fast. They were coming for him, Gallagher Girl, and he couldnt risk getting caught down there, so . . . "
Zach took a deep breath and smiled his most mischievous smile. "I know about the subs because Joe Solomons the one who rigged them. "
Joe Solomon didnt booby-trap the sublevels of the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women to explode or implode or fill up with water from the lake.
Dont get me wrong, all of those things could totally happen! But no matter what you might have heard, Mr. Solomon didnt put those protocols in place - the Gallagher Academy trustees did, a long, long time ago. Before I was born. Before my mother was born. After all, when you have that many covert secrets in one place, its important to protect them. And if the protection measures fail, its important to destroy them.
So I really wish people would get it straight: Mr. Solomon did not build the triggers that would destroy the subs!
Hes just the one that turned them on.
Or at least thats Zach told us.
And that . . . Yeah, that was the problem.
"Whats wrong?" Liz asked, despite the fact that, at the front of the room, Dr. Fibs and Madame Dabney were in the midst of an incredibly interesting joint lecture on secret writing techniques (and why a Gallagher Girl should really learn how to make her own invisibility ink and do calligraphy).
"Is the sensors on the elevator shafts?" she guessed.
I shook my head.
"The two-second delay before the anti-invasion protocols kick in and we get . . .
"Oh my!" Dr. Fibs cried. I looked up to see that he had accidentally spilled his latest invisibility concoction over Madame Dabney, and that her white blouse was becoming more and more invisible by the second.
"I know what youre thinking, Cam," Liz went on. "Weve been looking for a way into . . .
you know where . . . for weeks and we arent any closer. But thats not true!"
At the front of the room, Madame Dabney (who, by the way, wears way sexier bras than anyone would have guessed) started dabbing at the front of her blouse with an antique tablecloth, and Dr. Fibs reached for a lighter.
"Now, remember, girls, the ink becomes visible again when exposed to heat!" Dr. Fibs yelled as he flicked the lighter on and the tablecloth went up in flames in Madame Dabneys hands.
"We have an entry strategy and an exit strategy and . . . we have a lot of strategies!" Liz said, her eyes wide, and right then I knew that a part of Liz didnt care that Zach and Mr.
Solomon had asked us to do something that no one had ever done in a hundred and fifty years. To Liz, it was just a puzzle, a test. And Liz is very, very good at tests.
"Yeah, Cam," she said again as soon as the smoke cleared (literally) and we were gathering our things and leaving class. "Well figure it out. "
"Figure out what?" Bex asked, falling into step beside us.
"Nothing," I whispered.
"Wrong answer," Bex said, leaning closer, her voice barely audible through the cascade of girls that filled the halls. "Now whats wrong?"
"Zach," Macey guessed with a shrug. She eyed me. "Its got to be Zach, right?"
"So the subs next generation cameras with the 360 degree range and heat-sensitive triggers arent bothering you?" Liz asked. I couldnt tell if she was mocking me or not.
"Theres something hes not telling us," I whispered.
"Like what?" Bex asked, interested again.
Like whats so important about this journal? Like why didnt man in D. C. shoot him and kidnap me when he had the chance? At least filled my mind, but the halls were crowded, and there was only one thing I dared to say.
"Theres just . . . something. "
"Hes a guy, Cam. " Macey pushed past me and led the way down the hall. "And a spy.
Hes a guy spy. Theres always going to be something hes not telling. "
"He fought with us - in D. C. ," Liz said. There was no doubt in her voice, no fear. "I know you couldnt see, Cam. I know they drugged you and banged your head and all. But he and Mr. Solomon fought with us," Liz said one final time, and then turned and ran toward Mr. Mosckowitzs classroom.
I turned to Macey.
"So hes mysterious," she said with a shrug. "Mysterious is sexy. " And then it was her turn to spin on her heels and run
When I turned to Bex, I wanted her to say that everything was going to be fine - that there was nothing the four of us couldnt do, and it was just a matter of time until we found our way into the Sublevel Tow, cleared Mr. Solomons name, and stopped global warming (not necessarily in that order).
I looked at her. I waited.
"We cant trust him. " She pushed past me, stepped calmly into Room 132. "We cant trust anyone. "
I wanted to her she was wrong (but she wasnt). I thought I might think of a way to prove he was an exception (but I couldnt). I wanted her to stop looking at me as a spy and start talking to me as a girl, but Gallagher Girls are only exceptional because were both - all the time. I wante3d to go into the CoveOps classroom and pretend to read whatever boring book Townsend was going to give us and relay every conversation that Zach and I had ver had. But before I could take a single step, Agent Townsend appeared in the doorway of the classroom, a coat in his hands, saying, "Junior class, come with me. "
I know were supposed to be in the business of being prepared for anything - of never, ever being surprised - but let me tell you, most of the people I know still shock the fire out of me on a regular basis. (Like for example, the time Mr. Mosckowitz and Liz went rock climbing together and neither of them actually died. ) But in five and a half years at the worlds premiere school for spies, very few things have surprised me more than walking with the rest of the junior CoveOps class, following Agent Townsend through the halls.
He was the sort of man who always moved with purpose, never wasted a step, but that day he walked even faster. He seemed taller. And though we were still inside the Gallagher mansion, something told me that Agent Townsend was finally back on similar ground.
"Um . . . sir . . . " Tina Walters said, pushing through the crowd, trying to get as close as possible to the man at the front of the pack. "Are we going to Back to Sublevel Tow?"
she asked, but Townsend acted as if she hadnt uttered a single word.
"The primary job of any field agent is what?" he asked in a manner that made him sound almost like real teacher. Almost.
"To recruit, run, maintain assets of intelligence," Mack Morrison said, quoting page twelve from the old copy of Understanding Espionage: A Beginners Guide to Covert Operations, Third Edition, that wed all taken turns reading under the covers in the seventh grade.
Agent Townsend looked at her. I thought for a split second that he might actually smile, but instead he just said, "Wrong. "
It felt like the entire class missed a step. Townsend, on the other hand, kept walking.
"The primary job of a field agent is to use people - strangers, typically. Sometimes friends. Secretaries, neighbors, girlfriends, boyfriends, janitors, and little old ladies crossing the street. We use them all. "
He stopped in the center of the foyer and turned to face us, while, behind him, main doors flew open. A van sat idling in the center of the drive. I was tempted to close my eyes and pretend that it was a really CoveOps lecture, that we had real CopeOps teacher again.
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