Only the Good Spy Young, page 26part #4 of Gallagher Girls Series
"Its over," I told her. "Im wearing a comms unit. Everyone knows -"
"It doesnt matter what your protection detail knows, Cammie dear. "Its too late. No one can help you. "
I heard more sounds coming from behind her. People were coming. Her people.
"You cant beat us," I said. "Kill me, take me, it doesnt matter. The Gallagher Academy will just make more girls like me. If one of lives, we all live. "
"Of course they will. " She smiled. "They made me. "
I didnt say anything - I swear I really didnt - but the look on my face must have spoken volumes, because in the next moment, the woman was laughing a terrible, joyless laugh.
"Oh, didnt Zach ever mention that his mother was a Gallagher Girl?" She cocked an eyebrow, then shrugged. "I guess not. "
"No. " I shook my head. "No. Gallagher Girls are -"
"We are whatever we want to be, Cammie. " She stepped closer. I cringed at the word we.
" Anything we want to be. "
I thought about what Abby and the Baxters had said that night in the castle - that the Circle had a knack for recruiting agents very young . . . Joe Solomon had grown up and seen the light and spent his life trying to right his wrongs. But most people - I looked at Zachs mother, at the dark depths of her eyes - most never left the tombs.
"So, see? Were sisters, Cammie. You really dont have to be afraid. What we need lives inside of you. " She tapped her temple. "We only want to borrow it. "
Mr. Solomon was dead.
Zach was dead.
"I wont go with you," I said, easing closer to the edge, remembering her promise and the fact that had haunted me for months: They wanted me alive.
"Come on, Cammie, step away from that nasty cliff. Dont be foolish. "
"Im not foolish," I said, more certain of anything than Id ever been in my life.
The sound of the water was deafening. The back of my shirt was wet with mist. I wanted to wipe the water from my eyes, but I needed my hands in front of me. I needed to be ready.
"You dont want to do this, Cammie. We really arent going to hurt you. "
"I know," I said, and I did. Sort of.
"We just want to take you someplace - ask you some question. Help you . . . remember . .
. some things. "
"Im sure you do," I moved, and the rocks at my feet crumbled.
Mr. Solomon was dead.
Zach was dead.
Her own son was dead, and still she was chasing me and whatever secret I carried.
I had been studying Protection and Enforcement for five and a half years, but until that moment Id never seriously thought what it would feel like to kill someone - until then Id never wanted to.
"What?" she asked. "What are you thinking?"
"Im trying to decide whether or not I should kill you. "
She laughed. "You cant kill me. "
But I could. At that moment I was so full of fear and rage and grief that I could have done it. Easily.
She laughed harder and stepped slowly closer, as if that wall of water and air were the worst possible fate.
And then Zachs mother leaned close, as it confiding, and said, "It you kill me, then who will take you to your father. "
She lunged for me, but I was the one who no longer had anything to lose.
And before her words had found a place in my mind - before the Circle Operatives who were rushing down the tunnel could reach us - I thought about the ravens, and I spread my wings to fly.
The jump didnt kill me, in case you dont already know.
I remember breaking through the falls.
I remember fresh air and the cold wind and thinking I could fly.
And then there was the crash and the freezing currents that fell over and over and over me like a blanket I was trapped inside as I fought to break free.
And then there was nothing. No more blankets. No fire. No heat and cold.
And for the first time in months I slept and did not dream.
I heard my name echo through the night, riding on the wind. My body ached. My clothes clung to me, heavy and wet. I could hear the river and the yells and something else, a voice inside of me telling me it wasnt safe. The Circle was still out there.
I had to move. I had to hide. I thought about the last thing Zach had ever asked of me: I had to keep running and I could never, ever look back.
Not when I heard the helicopter.
Not when I saw the spotlight sweeping across the open ground along the river and then burning me, holding me steady in its glare.
Not when I heard the deep voice yell, "I have her! Shes here!"
Not when the strong arms wrapped around me, and someone said, "Hold still. "
Not even when the black chopper landed on the ground in front of me and my mother flew from its open door.
I had to keep running even then, but my feet no longer met the ground. I tried to fight, but the arms that held me were too strong.
"Rachel," Agent Townsend said, still gripping me.
"Cammie, sweetheart, stop fighting," my mother said as my teacher carried me beneath the whirling blades.
It was loud inside the helicopter. I tried to move, but the entire right side of my body was on fire.
"Mr. Solomon," I started, but the words were strangled in a cough, as if my lungs had carried the explosion with them.
"Zach . . . "
"Sweetheart, your shoulder is dislocated. Theres going to be a great deal of pain when the shock wears off. "
What shock? I wanted to say, but I reached for my mothers hand instead.
"Dad," I whispered. "She was going to take me to Dad. "
"Shes hallucinating, Rachel. " Agent Townsend was talking above me. He and my mother were talking about me.
"Hes alive!" I bolted upright and a pain like Id never known shot through me. "Theyre dead," I mumbled, but everything was swirling, fading into black.
* * *
Upon admission to the Gallagher Academy infirmary, Operative Morgan was poked, prodded, shot, scanned, x-rayed, and bandaged.
She was not, however, questioned, interrogated, debriefed, or told what the heck was going on.
"Mom?" My voice was so scratchy, I barely recognized it as my own. "Is my mother here?"
"No. " Someone behind me spoke. I heard the door close, watched Agent Townsend walk to the foot of my metal bed. "She isnt. "
"I want to talk to my mother. "
"She cant be here at the moment, Ms. Morgan. Im afraid youll have to start with me. "
"I can wait. "
He smiled. "But I cant. You see, I have a plane to catch. "
Okay, so maybe it was the drugs they had me on, but that almost sounded like good news.
I tried to sit upright, but my body didnt want to obey. My shoulder ached, and my right side was one continuous, massive bruise.
"Nothings broken," he said, as if it were a miracle, and I guess it really was. "But youre going to be sore for a while. The fall dislocated your shoulder and you inhaled a lot of smoke, but youre going to be okay, young lady. "
He sat down in the metal chair at the foot of my bed. "Now, tell me what happened in the tombs. "
I told him everything - I really did. From finding out the truth about Blackthorne to the sight of the Circle dragging Mr. Solomon back to the place that, in a way, had started it all.
I told it in detail and in order.
Joe Solomon would have been extremely proud.
As I talked, Agent Townsend listened, but he didnt take a single note - he didnt say a single word.
"And then I jumped," I told him finally. I looked down at my bruised body. "I guess . . . I guess you know the rest. "
He nodded slowly. "Yes. I suppose I might even know a bit more than you. " He placed his elbows on his knees and leaned c
"Theyve pulled three bodies from the wreckage so far, and they are still digging. Your roommates are completely unharmed. Although probably more than a little irate that theyre being kept from you," he added, as if the drama of teenage girls was seriously starting to weigh on him.
Then he leaned closer, his voice low as he added, "And something else. "
He walked to the door and came back with a wheelchair. A minute later Agent Townsend was pushing me into a dim room that was larger than my own. Machines beeped. Nurses and doctors moved with noiseless steps. And in the center of it all, a man lay on a bed, broken and burned, one eye swollen completely shut.
"A young man brought him here late last night. He has no ID. No name. " As Townsend pushed me closer, I felt myself stop breathing. The man on the bed was bandaged almost from head to toe, and yet when the wheelchair stopped, I saw a face Id first seen at the back of the Grand Hall a year and a half before.
"So perhaps well just call him . . . Mr. S. "
I wanted to take his hand, but I didnt want to touch him and risk finding out it was a dream.
"Now, if youll excuse me, Ms. Morgan," Townsend said. "Im afraid I really must be leaving. MI6 has a lot of questions, as you might imagine, and I -"
"My job here was to find Joe Solomon, young lady. " He looked at me for a long time.
"And Joe Solomon is dead. Witnesses saw him die in an explosion just last night. " Tears swelled in my eyes, but I didnt try to stop him. I didnt say thank you or Im sorry or any of a dozen other things that Agent Townsend probably had no desire to hear.
Instead, I watched him look at the man in the bed - the man whod come closer to destroying the Circle than anyone alive. I saw him nod at Mr. Solomon and heard him whisper, "Theres no need for anyone to chase him anymore. "
Townsend was halfway to the door when he stopped.
"Oh yes," he said, turning. "You were clutching this last night. " He pulled the small-bound notebook from his pocket and handed it to me. I almost didnt recognize it without its plastic wrapping. "Interesting choice of books you have there, Ms. Morgan. " He turned slowly around. "Most interesting indeed. "
"How long have you been chasing the Circle, Agent Townsend?" I called suddenly, stopping, stopping him at the door.
"A long time," he said.
"Do you think my father is with them? Do you think hes alive?"
His voice was flat as he said, "No. "
Then he turned and walked away.
"Hey, kiddo," my mother said form behind me. But instead of turning, I stayed seated, staring at Mr. Solomon, wondering, not for the first time, if I was looking at a ghost.
"Is he . . . Is he going to make it?" I asked.
"Its too soon to say, sweetheart," Mom admitted. She moved closer. "How are you?"
But I didnt answer. Instead, I turned and asked, "Wheres Zach? Hes the one who brought Mr. Solomon back, isnt he? Is he here? Is he -"
"Hes fine, kiddo. A little burned. A little bruised. But hell be fine. And yes, hes here. "
She inched closer. "In fact, Ive been on the phone with the trustees all morning, getting their permission for him to finish the semester with us. " She took a deep breath. "Theres no place safe for him to go. "
Other author's books:
- Id Tell You I Love You, But Then Id Have to Kill YouUncommon CriminalsHeist SocietyCross My Heart and Hope to SpyPerfect ScoundrelsNot if I Save You FirstA Gallagher WeddingCheating at Solitaire
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