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Only the good spy young, p.16

Only the Good Spy Young, page 16

 part  #4 of  Gallagher Girls Series


Only the Good Spy Young
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Page 16


  I should probably point out that in all that time, the man never turned around. Not once did he check his tail. I was starting to think that this was the easiest covert operations lesson ever, when he slipped through a small gate in the fence that ran behind the merry-go-round, but I didnt hesitate. I didnt wait. I just did what I was born to do: I followed, knowing that whatever guards were following me would be quick to do the same.

  It was quieter there, behind the barricades. A large manmade lake stretched out beside me. The smells of corn dogs and popcorn were lost beneath the scent of oil and grease.

  The bright lights and spinning wheels of the park were gone, replaced by a maze of carefully placed trees and perfectly engineered scaffolding that stretched high into the sky, blocking out the sun.

  I thought of all the things I might say if someone saw me: I was there to meet my boyfriend. My classmates had sent me on a dare. Id seen a stray animal come this way and it had appeared to be hurt.

  So I wants afraid when the man stopped and opened the door of a long building that sat hidden in the midst of the park. I waited ten seconds, then followed, praying the doors hinges wouldnt speak as I pulled it slowly open and stepped inside.

  Christmas decorations lined one wall, and Fourth of July sparklers and banners covered the other. There were broken, faded bumper cars and log ride relics, and a statue of a clown. It was like a graveyard - where amusement came to die.

  And that was the thought that filled my mind as I eased down the center aisle - soaking in the sights and smells and sounds that filled the air around me. Every fiber in my training and my gut wound together to tell me that the workman was gone - lost, out of sight.

  But then I heard the faint scruff of heavy shoes on concrete and knew I was anything but alone.

  "You really shouldnt be here. "

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  The first time any of us had seen Joe Solomon, wed thought he was a highly trained operative, a seasoned CoveOps veteran and . . . well . . . hot. But a year and a half later I barely recognized my teacher in the man who stood behind me. His face was drawn and pale. His hair was longer, his clothes grungier, but it was his eyes that had changed the most as he stepped toward me and demanded, "Cammie you have to come with me. You have to come right now!"

  As he reached for me, I jerked away. I didnt know whether to hug him of hit him (a feeling that frequently associate with Blackthorne Boys, to tell you the truth), so I just shook my head. "No. "

  "Cammie, if I heard you were going to be here, then theyll know youre here. I have to get you out of here. Now!"

  "Its true, isnt it?"

  "The Circle could be here any second. "

  "You are the Circle!"

  Joe Solomon had had far more practice telling lies than Ive had detecting them, but I could see the truth in his eyes.

  "It is true, isnt it?" I asked, even though, deep down, I knew it wasnt really a question.

  Even though I knew.

  "Im sorry, Cammie. " he ran his hand through his hair. "Cammie, Im so -"

  "No," I said numbly. I felt myself backing away, my left hand tracing the cinder-block wall of the building. I scanned the room, looking for a piece of a pipe of a tool - a weapon of any kind.

  "Cammie, listen to me. Ill explain everything, but if my sources are right, then youre not safe here. You have to come with me. "

  "Im not going anywhere with you!"

  I wasnt think about the guards, who, moments before, I had been sure were watching my every more. I didnt reach for the panic button that I wore around my wrist like a watch, or call into my comms unit for help. I wasnt thinking as I brought my hand up along the side of his face - hard.

  It was just a slap - nothing special. Hardly something they would teach in P&E. and yet I felt like doing it again. And again.

  "Im not going anywhere with you!" I said, striking out again.

  "Im not. Im not. Im . . . " I stopped and stared at him. "How could you?"

  "I was young, Cammie. "

  "You were my age! And you grew up and . . . " I didnt want to cry, and so I screamed.

  "You killed him!"

  I expected him to lash back, strike me down where I stood. He was bigger, stronger, and more experienced, but rage is a force of its own. I watched him stumble back as if he knew that - as if I scared him.

  "Hes dead because of you!" I yelled, stepping forward, but Mr. Solomon didnt brace to block the blow.

  Instead, he leaned against the wall, his eyes deeper and darker and sadder than anything Ive ever seen, as my fathers best friend stared at me, voice cracking and whispered, "I know. "

  What happened next was a scene Ive played and replayed in my mind a thousand times.

  Ill probably play it a thousand more. All I know for certain is that one second, a man I had revered, trusted, loved, and hated (in that order) was in front of me, crumbling. And in the next moment, time seemed to freeze as the door to the building swung open and a long shadow sliced across the concrete floor, and I heard a woman say, "He said wed find you here. "

  I remember everything about my trip to Boston last summer - the sight of the balloons, the sounds of the crowds, and of all, the way a masked woman and two men walked toward me through the spinning shadows of a helicopters blades.

  "No," I said, as if that simple word could stop it from happening again.

  The woman looked so calm as she stood in the open doorway, as if nothing could go wrong this time. As if it were over. I reached for my watch, punched the button again and again, not daring to calculate the odds of beating the Circle for a third time - not willing to waste one second more.

  "No!" I yelled. It didnt matter that she was older and taller and probably far more experienced - I charged toward her, knowing that my only hope lay on the other side of the open door.

  But then I stopped, because the woman was no longer alone. Agent Townsend was there.

  Agent Townsend was looking at Joe Solomon and me as if Christmas had come early.

  "You were right," the woman told Agent Townsend with a smile. "This was almost too easy. "

  I looked from the woman I could had sworn had been in Boston, to my new teacher. It didnt make sense, but sense was the last thing in the world that I could worry about, because Joe Solomon was rushing part me, flying through the open door. In one fluid motion, he knocked Townsend and the woman to the ground. I rushed outside and saw the three of them rolling down a hill, fighting through the dirt and the weeds. Dust swirled around me, and standing there, I realized I had no idea whom to trust. All I really knew for certain is that sometimes all an operative gets is one second - nothing more.

  And I had already started to run.

  Chapter Twenty-Seven

  It was a trap. It was a trap. It was a trap.

  The words echoed in my mind, keeping rhythm with my feet as the hit the ground.

  "Bex!" I yelled as I ran through the tall trees that grew up around the roller coaster. Far above me, people were flying through the sky, but down below, there was only static in my comms unit, and the rough ground that no tourist was ever supposed to see. I hurtled over spotlights and dodged cables as I bolted to the top of a hill, not once allowing myself to think of Mr. Solomon or the woman of Agent Townsend. I just kept running - toward the lake, toward the fence, toward help.

  It was a trap.

  At the top of the hill I could hear the sounds of the park floating across the lake. All I had to do was keep running, keep fighting, but then I saw them - the agents who had been in the crowd all day - watching my every move. They were descending through the woods -

  emerging form behind the tall trees and the roller coasters massive pillars, rushing past me.

  Past me?

  Not a soul tried to usher me to safety. And in that moment I knew that they werent protectors. They were hunters. And me? I was the bait.

  It was a trap.

  I heard foot
steps behind me, hard and fast.

  "Zach," I called to the boy who was running toward me.

  "Where is he?" Zach yelled, out of breath. I lunged forward and grabbed him. "Let me go, Gallagher Girl. I have to -"

  "Do you want them to take you too?" I shouted, shaking him. When he stopped fighting I held him tighter. "They have him, Zach. " I heard my mothers words coming back to me.

  "Hes gone. "

  Mr. Solomon lay on the ground in the clearing below, bloody and bound, while agents still swarmed from all directions. I remember how, once on a helicopter en route to Ohio, Mr. Solomon had told us that often the hardest thing an operative can do is nothing.

  Standing there that day, I knew that it was true - that Joe Solomon was always right.

  "Stupid!" Zach yelled. He banged him hand hard against the truck of a tree, and I couldnt tell whether the hand of the tree for the worst of it. He turned to me. "What happened?"

  "CoveOps exercise. I tailed a man here. And then Mr. Solomon was there, talking about the Circle, saying I was in danger. And then there was a woman. I thought she was the woman form Boston. "

  "That wasnt her, Cammie. "

  "I know that know. "

  He grasped my shoulders. I could see a kind of fear settle into his eyes as he whispered,

  "Theres no way Joe Solomon would ever be with her. "

  The roller coaster roared overhead, and I felt the ground vibrate beneath my feet.

  "Why would he come here?" I asked. "It was a trap. Joe Solomon walked into a trap. "

  Believe it or not, of all things Id seen and heard since London, that was what surprised me most of all.

  "You. " Zach sounded almost amazed that I did know. "If he thought you were going to be here - virtually unprotected . . . Theres nowhere he wouldnt go to save you. "

  "Why would he do that?" I snapped, trying to pull away, but he just held me tighter.

  "That doesnt make any -"

  "Its in the journal, Cammie. " Zachs gaze bore into mine. "Its all in the journal. "

  "Cammie!" someone said.

  "I think I see her!" someone else called.

  I could hear my classmates voices in my ear. I knew they had crossed the fence and were running closer, but Zachs gaze never left mine.

  "Look at me. " Zachs hands felt like a vise. "Read the journal, Gallagher Girls. Read it all. "

  And then he pulled me closer, squeezed me so tightly that I could barely breathe. He pressed his lips hard against my forehead for a split second - nothing more - and when he finally let me go and disappeared back into the trees, I thought that I might fall.

  "Oh my gosh, Cam, are you okay?" Eva Alvarez was screaming. "Are you -"

  I heard Eva stop, Breathless. I watched her pull up short and turn to stare with the rest of my classmates at the scene that lay behind me. The agents. The chaos. The blood. And the way our former teacher lay on his stomach in the middle of it all, hands bound, legs shackled. Unconscious.

  "Is that Mr. Solomon?" Anna asked.

  "Yes. " Bexs voice was low.

  "What . . . " Tinas voice caught. "What is that?"

  "It was a trap. "

  Chapter Twenty-Eight

  You may think it would be impossible for a van full of teenage girls to be completely quiet for the duration of a two-hour drive, but that night I didnt hear a single voice. A soft rain fell, and only the sloshing of the windshield wipers - the sound of water splashing against the undercarriage of the car - could break the stifling silence on the long ride back to school.

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