Only the Good Spy Young, page 2part #4 of Gallagher Girls Series
Mr. Baxter sighed. "They clip their wings so they cant fly away. "
And then, despite the icy wind, my face felt hot. My hands were sweating inside my gloves while I pulled at the scarf around my neck, suddenly dizzy as I stood in my socks on the frozen ground, while the skaters kept circling around and around.
Mr. Baxter stood. "What is it, Cammie? Whats wrong?"
I shook my head. "Its . . . nothing. "
But something was coming over me - like déjà vu, only stronger. There was something in the crowd that I should know. Something I should see. I shook my head, and for a split second I thought I saw a tall graceful woman from the rooftop in Boston.
"No," I muttered.
I looked at Mrs. Baxter and her colleague with the backpack who had been following us all day. They each held cups of coffee in their right hands - the sign that our tail was clear, that things were fine. But things werent fine. There was a ghost in that crowd -
something I should see. Something I should know.
"Cammie?" Mr. Baxters hand was on my shoulder. "What is it?"
"I dont know. " I shook my head. "Its just -"
Before I could finish, I heard a burst of static from the comms unit in Mr. Baxters ear - a distant muffled cry. Across the ice, the woman with the backpack spun, as it looking for something - someone. The cup fell from her hand and tumbled toward the ice. And in that moment, my mind flashed back to D. C. , and then further back, to Boston.
Get her. The words echoed in my mind.
And then the lights went out.
Even in the pitch blackness, I knew that commands were ringing in the ears of the agents at the rink. In an instant, Mr. Baxter grabbed me, pulling me away from the ice and closer to the shelter of the Towers stone walls.
The ground was hard and cold against my feet, but there was no time to grab my boots -
not a second to do anything but run and listen to the cries that floated through the dark. I kept on hand against the rough stone wall and the other tightly in Mr. Baxters grasp as we moved deeper into the crowd of panicking tourists - pushing through the chaos - until, suddenly, Mr. Baxters hand pulled free of mine.
"Cammie!" he yelled, and I reached for him through the dark, but there were too many people.
"Cammie!" he called again, but before I could answer a pair of strong arms locked around my waist, and someone pinned me against the stone wall. I started to strike out, but the man countered as if hed known exactly what Id been trained to do. He squeezed my arms to my sides so tightly that I only had one choice: I pulled my head back and struck with all my might. I felt the blow land - heard the man wince. The something else - a familiar voice in my ear saying, "Cammie, calm down. "
For a second I thought I must be wearing a comms unit - that my teachers voice was coming back to me, telling how to save my own life.
And I heard him whisper, "Run. "
"Theyre coming, arent they?" my breath fogged in the cold air, and yet my arms kept pumping, my feet kept moving, and my teacher kept a solid grip on my hand, pulling me across the Towers dim grounds toward a busy London street while I said the words Id been dreading for weeks:
"The Circle . . . theyre here. "
"Ms. Morgan, we only have a minute until they find us, so you have to listen to me carefully," my teacher said, tightening his hold on my hand, urging me through the steady stream of traffic and onto Tower Bridge.
"Are you on comms? You have to tell the Baxters you have me. We have to call in an extraction team and -"
"Cammie, listen!" his order seemed to echo in the dark, and something about it made me stop there in the middle of the bridge. He sounded angry and frantic and scared.
Joe Solomon was scared.
He grabbed me by both shoulders. "Cammie, we only have a minute until they find us, and then theyll take you away -"
"No!" I shouted.
"Listen! Any day now theyre going to take you back to school, and when you get there, you have to -"
"Hello, Joe. "
When Bexs father appeared on the dark bank of the river, his voice was even and calm, but he wore the same expression that Bex does when shes focused and angry and when theres no force on earth that can stop her.
And yet Mr. Solomon didnt turn to look at him. He was still gripping my shoulders as if no assignment in my entire life had ever been more important than the one he was about to give. "Cammie, listen to me!"
"Come on, Joe," Mr. Baxter called across the bridge, easing forward like a man bracing for a fight. "Turn yourself in. Let the girl go. "
I shook my head. Nothing made sense in that moment - not what Mr. Solomon was saying or the way Mr. Baxter was looking at us. Neither of them seemed to know what they were both on the same side - my side.
"Its okay, Mr. Baxter," I said, turning to Bexs father, thinking maybe he didnt recognize my teacher. "This is Mr. Solomon. Joe Solomon. Hes -"
"I know who he is, Cammie. "Bexs father inched closer. "And hes going to come with me now - fly to Langley and get this mess straightened out. "
"Cammie!" Mr. Solomon shook me slightly. "Dont listen to him. Listen to me!"
But Bexs father kept talking. "Joe, youve got to let her go. "
Bexs mother walked out of the shadows behind her husband. "Cammie, sweetheart, I want you to walk over to me now. "
The bridge was cold and rough beneath my feet, but I didnt move. I scanned the shadowy banks of the river, looking for Bex, needing her to help me explain to her parents that they were making a terrible mistake. But all I saw were guards and operatives who were closing ranks around us, and in that moment I realized that no one was searching the crowd. Now a soul was looking for the Circle. Instead, the people who had sworn to protect me were staring as if that bridge were the most dangerous place in the world that I could be.
When the operative from the observation tower appeared on the opposite end of the bridge, I knew we were surrounded.
"Cammie, now!" Mrs. Baxter ordered, but I stayed frozen in place.
"Her father was my best friend!" my teacher shouted, the words echoing off the river and out into the night.
Bexs father nodded and eased closer. "I know. "
"This is crazy, Abe. " Mr. Solomon shook his head.
"Sure it is," Mr. Baxter said calmly. "But protocols exits for a reason, Joe. We know -"
"We know how this ends!" my teacher shouted.
"Not this time," Mr. Baxter said. "Not necessarily. Not if you let Cammie go, and come with me. "
"Mr. Solomon . . . " I didnt recognize my own voice. It sounded far off and frail. I saw the way I stayed in the shadows, not fighting against my teachers grasp. Weak. I felt weak.
And so I pulled away.
"Cammie, come here," Bexs mom ordered again. I could see Bex behind her, not moving. Dazed. "Cammie!" Bexs mom snapped, but I looked at my teacher.
"Mr. Solomon, what is going on? Why are you here? Why didnt you meet Zach? Why do they keep looking at you like . . . Why are they talking like youre the enemy?"
"The CIA has some questions for him, Cammie," Mr. Baxter answered. "Thats all. He just needs to answer some questions. "
"Youre gonna try to turn me in, Abe?" Mr. Solomon laughed, then turned to Bexs mom.
"Grace? Are you going to cuff me in front of Bex and Cammie?"
Bex cried, "No!" but her mothers voice was even as she said, "You know we have to. "
"Mom!" Bex cried.
"Rebecca, stay out of this," Bexs father warned. Then he turned to look at the man we all knew - the man only Bex and I still trusted. "You should have known better than to come here, Joe. "
"I had to talk to Cammie. "
"Cammie was safe with us," Bexs mother told him.
My teacher just shook his head. "Cammie isnt safe anywhere. "
I didnt want to cry then, but I couldnt pretend anymore either. I wasnt o
"Mr. Solomon, please, whats going on?"
And then his hands were back on my shoulders. "Cammie, you have to follow the pigeons. "
"I . . . I dont understand. "
"Promise me, Cammie! No matter what, promise me you will follow the pigeons. "
It didnt make any sense - not the words or the look in his eyes or the way my best friends parents stood staring as if the moment theyd been dreading for days was finally here.
A siren sounded, and I felt suddenly unsteady on my feet as if the earth was moving.
"Mr. Solomon," I spoke slowly, calmly, "maybe you should come with us . . . Well call my mom and shell explain that youre a teacher and that theres been some kind of mistake and . . . "
But then I couldnt finish because the earth was moving. The siren was growing louder; spectators were beginning to call out from the riverbanks. In a terrible flash, I remembered that Tower Bridge is a drawbridge, and Mr. Solomon and I were standing in the center.
The bridge lurched and Bex yelled, "Cammie!" but her mother held her back. I grabbed at the rail as the bridge rose higher and steeper, and Mr. Solomon reached for my shoulders, holding me, steadying me.
"Cammie, you have to promise me!"
"Okay, Mr. Solomon. Of course. I promise. "
"Thank you, Cammie. " He relaxed his grip and lowered his head. For the first time, he seemed to breathe as he sighed, "Thank you. "
"Okay, Joe" Mr. Baxter inched closer. "You talked to Cammie. You got your promise.
Now, come on. Lets go get this settled. "
But Mr. Solomon was backing away, his gaze still locked on me.
"The pigeons, Cammie. "
"The pigeons," I said.
And then one of the greatest spies Ive ever known ran toward the rising edge of the bridge and propelled himself over the top, flying falling. Bexs parents rushed after him, but I was already there, staring into the Thames.
And Joe Solomon was already gone.
During winter break of our seventh-grade year, Bex helped her parents expose a double agent who had been working inside M16. The summer she turned fourteen she swears she disabled a bomb beneath the royal familys box in the bleachers at Wimbledon. But as Bex and I sat in the back of an M16 van with the words "Handy Helpers House Painting Service" painted on the side, I knew no Gallagher Girl had ever brought a story quite like this one home from school vacation.
I tried recounting the facts for myself - how the first agent to reach us was left-handed and had green eyes, how the phone number on the side of the van had a Surrey exchange.
I remembered all the details - every single one. After all, Mr. Solomon had trained me well. And that was the problem, really.
Mr. Solomon had train me.
Mr. Solomon had taught me.
And then Mr. Solomon had dragged me onto that bridge and jumped into the cold, dark waters of the Thames. So I sat quietly with Mr. Baxter on one side of me, and Mrs.
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