Only the good spy young, p.8

Only the Good Spy Young, page 8

 part  #4 of  Gallagher Girls Series

 

Only the Good Spy Young
 



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Page 8

 

  "I wish she was here," Bex admitted. "There is something theyre not telling us. "

  I pictured Zach, his breath fogging in the air as hed said They know more than we know.

  But my mother was gone. The Baxters and Abby were a thousand miles away. That morning Bex and I had walked away from England - from our last chance at answers -

  except . . .

  I smiled.

  "Cam," Liz said softly, "What is it?"

  "Townsend. "

  "What?" Liz said. "Do you think hes going to be a good teacher?"

  I shook my head.

  "Do you think hes hot?" Macey asked.

  I laughed.

  "Then why are you smiling?" Lizs voice went up and entire octave, but I just looked at her - thought about a folder on a metal table and eyes that looked like theyd seen everything.

  "I think he knows things. "

  Chapter Twelve

  Covert Operatives Report

  When Operatives Morgan, McHenry, Baxter, and Sutton (hereafter referred to as The Operatives) returned to the Gallagher Academy for the spring semester of their junior year, they were faced with an absent mother-slash-headmistress, a fugitive former teacher, and a tall, dark, and cocky new faculty member who, presumably, knew far more than he was saying.

  The operatives were resolved to make him say.

  The first day of the semester started as semesters often do.

  Mr. Smith gave a really good pop quiz on the worlds most unstable political regimes and the top five ways to undermine each. By midmorning Madame Dabney was passing out place cards and instructing us to prepare a seating chart for a state dinner that includes two ambassadors, five senators, and three rogue operatives who may be selling nuclear technology to the highest bidder.

  But walking out of Madame Dabneys tearoom that Monday morning, I couldnt help but remember that nothing would ever be "typical" again.

  "Thats it. Its official!" Tina Walters whispered to me. "Joe Solomon is in deep. "

  I shot an anxious glance at Bex, but Tine went slowly, savoring every word.

  "According to my sources, he hasnt been farmed out to any cooperating agencies. Hes not listed on the in-action list. And hes not exactly the type for official cover operatives, so wherever he is . . . our teacher is in deep, deep cover. "

  The entire junior class, and I recognized the look that was spreading through the narrow hall. If possible, Joe Solomon had just gotten cooler. And hotter.

  "I bet he and your mom are on some super-secret and dangerous mission, Cam,"

  Courtney Bauer guessed as we emerged into the main corridor on the second floor.

  "Yeah. " Anna Fettermans voice had taken on a dreamy quality. "I bet your mom and Mr.

  Solomon are going to find them. I bet . . . "

  Anna went on, but I tuned out, barely registering the sounds of my school - slamming doors and running girls. I looked into center of the foyer below, where a half dozen teachers stood huddled together in a way Id never seen before.

  "Cam?" Anna asked. "Are you okay?"

  One by one the teaches in the foyer began to break away and start down the halls or up the stairs.

  "Cam?" Anna asked, her voice higher.

  "Sorry, Anna," I muttered. "Ive . . . got to go. "

  Professor Buckingham was already at the top of the Grand Staircase, walking toward the Hall of History, when I cried, "Professor? Professor Buckingham!"

  "Yes, Cameron?" She didnt snap the words, but they sounded weary. She seemed tired as she stood beside the sword that had belonged to Ioseph Cavan. "Is there something I can help you with?"

  I wanted to know why my mothers door was closed to everyone, even me. I wanted to ask how it could all be true about Mr. Solomon - how it could be true at all. But there was only one thing that I knew it was okay to ask.

  "Its spring," I said.

  "It is?" Professor Buckingham glanced out a window streaked with freezing rain.

  "I mean, its the spring semester. You said last fall that you might be able to teach me about the Circle of Cavan in the spring. And . . . its spring. "

  All around us, girls were filing into classrooms, rushing out the front doors to P&E. the halls were growing quiet. School was back in session - life was back to normal. But behind Patricia Buckingham, my mothers office door stayed closed.

  "Junior year curriculum is very challenging, Cameron dear," she said.

  "I know thats why I -"

  "You need to focus and learn as much as you can. "

  "I know, but the Circle is -"

  "Cameron, the lessons of this school are essential for fighting the evils of the world - no matter what that evil calls itself. You have to learn those lessons," she snapped, and I knew it wasnt advice; it was an order. And she was right. My classes werent less important now. Not by a long shot.

  "And even if that were not the case, Im afraid there are a number of . . . pressing matters that require my attention for the time being. "

  And then it hit me: for the first time that I could remember, our oldest faculty member looked . . . old.

  Her hands were dry. Her eyes were puffy. And I could have sworn I heard her voice crack as she said, "Now, if Im not mistaken, youre about to be late for Covert Operations. You dont want to keep our newest teacher waiting. "

  Chapter Thirteen

  Running through the halls toward the elevator to Sublevel Two, I tried to brace myself for what I had to do.

  1. Learn what (if anything) Agent Townsend knew about it my mother, Mr. Solomon, and the Circle of Cavan.

  2. Discern whether Agent Townsend would lean toward practical or theoretical examinations and how to best master each. (Because being the target of an international terrorist organization is no excuse for letting your GPA slide. ) When I reached the small hallway beneath the Grand Staircase and the large mirror that was supposed slide aside and show me the way to the Covert Operations classrooms, I pressed my hand against it waited for the eyes of the painting behind me to flash green.

  But the glass beneath my palm stayed cool, and nothing happened.

  It was first lecture with Agent Townsend, and I was already late. I actually knocked on the mirror as if there were someone back there, waiting to let me in.

  Still nothing.

  I was turning, starting for the other elevators, when I saw it: a small, neatly typed piece of paper taped to the wall.

  ATTENTION STUDENTS: UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, THE SUBLEVELS WILL BE

  CLOSED. ALL COVERY OPERATIONS COURSES WILL TAKE PLACE IN ROOM

  132.

  I didnt know what was happening. All I knew for certain was that I was late, so I turned only heel and ran through the empty hall, past the library and the student - all the way to the classroom that had been nothing but a big storage closet at the end of last semester. I almost ran right past it, but at the last second I grabbed that door frame and skidded to a stop.

  "Oh, there you are. "

  Okay, I dont know about regular schools, but lets just say that at the worlds premiere spy school, tardiness isnt exactly typical. And when it does happen, its almost always met with questions like "Was there explosion in the chemistry lab?" or "Do you have another concussion?" It is most certainly never met with "Oh, there you are. "

  But those were the words Agent Townsend chose, and for someone who had questioned me in top secret facility just hours after one of the worlds most wanted men had pseudo kidnapped me, he certainly didnt seem concerned with where Id been.

  "Im sorry, I -"

  "Just . . . sit," he said with barely a glance in our direction.

  I took the desk next to Bex, and without looking at the clock, I knew I was three and a half minutes late. Three and a half minutes in which my classmates had been sitting in silence waiting. And as I joined them, I realized our teacher wasnt waiting for me.

  Four minutes.

  Five minutes.

  Ten min
utes, we waited. The only noise was the sound of Agent Townsend turning the pages of his newspaper.

  It was a test, I told myself. He wanted to see if we were memorizing the front page of the paper he held; he was gauging how still we could be, how silently we could sit. Great operatives are naturally patient, I thought. He wanted to see if we could wait.

  Little did he know, Tina Walters doesnt wait for anyone. (Or, well, she does, but evidently she draws the line at ten minutes. )

  "Mr. Townsend?"

  Our teacher didnt glance up, didnt say a single word.

  "Sir," Tina went on, "is there something we could do to help you get started with your lecture?" She sounded very much like Madame Dabney, but Mr. Townsend wasnt impressed.

  "No," he said flatly, then raised his newspaper higher, threw his feet to the desktop, and leaned back in his chiar. "Who can tell me about Joe Solomon?"

  It sounded like a pop quiz. It looked like a pop quiz. But I couldnt shake the feeling that the entire junior class had just been picked up and hauled across the Atlantic - plopped down inside Baring Cross Station.

  Townsend moved the paper aside for a split second and pointed to Tina Walters, who was about to pull her arm out of her socket, she was raising her hand so wildly. "You," he said.

  "Agent Joseph Solomon. CIA operative. Faculty member of the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Woman -"

  "Know all that," our new teacher interrupted. "Next. "

  "He said that after break we would probably start with secret writing techniques," Anna told him. "And if that went well, he promised we could -"

  "Boring," Townsend countered.

  I could feel my classmates watching closer, sitting up straighter - literally rising to the challenge. But I knew this was no test - it was an interrogation. We werent students in that moment; we were witnesses whod been locked in a room with a double agent almost every day for a year and a half.

  "Where did he go?" Agent Townsend slowly turned the page of his paper. "How did he fill his days? What did he want . . . here?"

  "Hes a teacher," Eva Alvarez said. "He wanted to teach. "

  Agent Townsend laughed, quickly and softly, but there was no joy in his voice as he said,

  "Im sure he did. "

  "Im sorry, sir?" Anna said. "I dont understand. "

  "Im sure you dont," muttered.

  The operatives were able to ascertain that whatever brought Agent Townsend to the Gallagher Academy, it was NOT a love of teaching.

  Then the feet came off the desk and the paper went down and I got a good look at his swollen nose (note to self: even soft-sided luggage can make an excellent weapon).

  "Where does he spend his time?"

  "Well, usually we see him in Sublevel Two," Tina admitted, and an odd look crossed Agent Townsends face.

  "Nowhere else?"

  "Everywhere else," Anna replied.

  It occurred to me that it would have been a good lesson - attest of our memories, of our powers of observation. But Agent Townsend didnt know that. Agent Townsend didnt care.

  "Known associates?" he asked, then shook his head as if for a second hed forgotten that he thought we were idiots. "I mean, who were his friends? Did he have any allies?

  Anyone he was especially close to?"

  "Sometimes he lets Mr. Mosckowitz go with us on missions," Anna said.

 
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