Only the good spy young, p.11
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       Only the Good Spy Young, p.11

         Part #4 of Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter
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Page 11


  "Its good to see you, kiddo. " She put her arm around me and held me tightly as we reached the Hall of History. "Did you and Bex have nice break?"

  She hadnt called on Christmas morning. She hadnt come to London after what happened on the bridge. She had been absent from our school for almost a month, and yet as I watched her unlock her office door, there was only one question I wanted answered.

  "Is it true?"

  The Baxters and Aunt Abby and even Agent Townsend had told me the facts, but only my mom could make me believe them. "Is Mr. Solomon really part of the Circle?"

  I heard chatter coming the halls, but my classmates felt a million miles away as my mother stepped into the dark room and softly whispered, "Yes. "

  She stared toward her desk. Inside her office, I felt brave enough to ask, "Did he kill Dad?"

  "The Circle has a long history of recruiting agents very young, Cammie. When Mr.

  Solomon joined, he would have been -"

  "Did he kill my father?"

  "Cammie, sweetheart . . . "

  My lips began to tremble. The pressure Id been feeling for months rose and swelled, and then I couldnt stop it. The world was blurry and my cheeks were wet, and no matter how hard I tried, it was like Id forgotten how to breathe.

  "Im so sorry, Cammie. Im so sorry. "

  "Where were you?" I could hear my voice breaking. "I needed you. "

  "Cam," my mother said softly. "I knew you were safe, sweetheart. The Baxters are good people - theyre great operatives -"

  "Theyre arent my family. I needed you!"

  "Sweetheart, believe me, I wanted to come to you, but it wasnt possible. "

  I wanted to believe her, but Agent Townsend was like a ghost, whispering in my ear.

  They wont hurt her.

  "Why didnt you come to London, Mom?"

  "I told you, Cammie. I was detained. "

  It was the same phrase both Townsend and Professor Buckingham had used, but as I looked at my mother, I knew she hadnt missed her flight, been caught in a meeting, lost her passport. They had meant detained as in handcuffs and had cots and facilities run by the CIA.

  "Detained how? Detained where? Langley?" I watched the light change in my mothers eyes and I knew that I was right.

  "When an operative is accused of being a double agent, its standard operating procedure for anyone associated with him of her to questioned. Its protocol, kiddo. Its nothing. "

  "What about the other teachers? Professor Buckingham? Mr. Smith? Why werent they -"

  "They were questioned, Cam. We were all questioned. "

  "Then why were you late? Why are you the only one just getting back to school now?"

  "Ive known Mr. Solomon the longest. " She drew a deep breath. "Im the one who hired him and brought him here, so naturally . . . " She trailed off. She didnt look at me for a long time. "But Im back now. " She caressed my hair. "Youre safe. " She pulled me to her, breathed deeply. "Youre safe. "

  There are things that go unsaid between people lingering under the surface for decades, for lifetimes. Ive wondered sometimes if spies have of those things of fewer. More, I think. There are just too many things that even the bravest of people in the world arent brave enough to say out loud.

  "Mr. Solomon came to me," I whispered.

  My mother stepped away. "I know. "

  "He said they were wrong. He said he didnt do it - that theyre after the wrong man.

  I . . . " I thought about the sadness in him as hed hugged me. "I believed him. "

  "Joe Solomon is an amazing operative, sweetheart. "

  "So -"

  "Amazing operatives make the best liars. " She sank onto the leather couch, seeming almost too weak to stand. "Hes never coming back, Cammie. "

  In the years since my father died, Ive seen my mother cry once, maybe twice, and never when she knew I could see her. But in that moment, tears welled in her eyes, and I didnt know is she was speaking of Mr. Solomon or of my father as she whispered, "Hes never coming back. "

  Chapter Eighteen

  Gallagher Girls dont skip class. We dont play hooky and there was never been a senior ditch day. Ever. But walking through the halls the next morning, I wanted to make an exception. I wanted to run - to hide like Id never hidden before. To crawl back into bed and sleep a million years.

  Turns out, I wasnt the only one.

  "Good morning, Ms. Morgan. "

  I heard the floorboards creak behind me. I recognized the groggy voice. But the face that I saw when I turned wasnt quite what I was expecting.

  Sure, Agent Townsends hair was damp from a shower, and his clothes were fresh and neatly pressed, but his eyes were red and puffy. When he pushed past me and walked to his desk at the front of the room, he carried himself delicately, like a man who dearly wished the world would stop spinning. (His teeth, on the other hand, did seem significantly whiter. )

  Note to self: never volunteer to help Elizabeth Sutton test one of her experiments.

  The lights were off in the CoveOps classroom, but when Tina Walters paused by the door and reached for the switch, our teacher grumbled, "Leave them off. "

  As we made our way to our chairs, Townsend squeezed his eyes shut as if our footsteps were rifle shots in the dark.

  "I dont care what you do with the next hour," he said softly, easing into the chair behind his desk. "I dont care how you do it. Just do it . . . quietly. "

  People have bad mornings at the Gallagher Academy all the time - yawning girls who have pulled all-nighters, aching bodies struggling to climb the stairs after a particularly hard week in P&E. The first time I met Agent Townsend, Id wanted him to feel as badly as I felt; and standing there that morning, I thought maybe he did.

  Especially when the lights suddenly flashed on and I heard my mother say, "Well, hello. "

  I saw him squint and jump - watched him turn to take in the woman by the door, but I dont know what if surprise would be the right word to describe it.

  "Welcome to the Gallagher Academy, Agent Townsend. Were so happy to have to you here. "

  Note to self: Rachel Morgan is a totally awesome liar.

  "I wanted to say hello at breakfast, but . . . " She studied his haggard face. "I can see that you perhaps needed to sleep in. "

  Townsend slowly turned his gaze toward me. "It must have been something I ate. "

  "Im very sorry to hear that, our chef usually gets nothing but rave reviews. " Mom strolled across the front of the classroom. She kept her arms crossed, staring out the window, before slowly turning to the rest of the class. "Hello, girls. "

  There was a splattering of hellos and welcome backs, but for the most part we were quiet

  - waiting.

  "I must say, when the Gallagher trustees told me that the CIA and MI6 had recommended you for the position, I was surprised. I hope the pace at our little school isnt too slow for you. "

  "No," he said, sinking to the corner of his desk. "If Joe Solomon can do it . . . "

  I felt a flash of rage at the name, but if my mother felt the same, she didnt show it.

  "And how are you finding things?" she asked. "Is there anything you need?"

  "You mean besides access to the sublevels?"

  My mother nodded. "Yes. Professor Buckingham has apprised me of the new safety concerns as far as the subs go. Were working on it.

  "I see," Agent Townsend said, but the words sounded more like yeah, right.

  Then a sort of shocked look crossed my mothers face.

  "Oh, Im so sorry Agent Townsend. Please, continue. Dont let me interrupt your lecture. "

  She took an empty seat in the front row on the far right side of the room, and it was Agent Townsends turn to look surprised.

  "Im sorry, Mrs. Morgan. Are you . . . staying?"

  "Yes," Mom said.

  "Well if Id known, I would have prepared something special for the occasion. "

  My mother smiled. "Oh, whatever you had sla
ted for today will be fine, Im sure. I just like to pop in occasionally to hear all of our faculty teach. Please, dont let me stop you. "

  I heard Bex stifle a giggle. Tina Walters cut her eyes at me.

  "Excellent," Townsend said with a smile. "Youre just in time to begin our study of the Circle of Cavan. "

  Outside, the sky was a crisp, clear blue, but it felt like a storm brewing inside our classroom. There was a static in the sir so strong, I didnt dare touch anything - afraid Id feel a spark.

  He turned to look at Mom. "If thats okay with you, of course, Mrs. Morgan. "

  "Thats something that would typically be covered in Professor Buckinghams senior level History of Espionage course, but given the circumstances, I think we can make an exception. "

  I expected her to look at me - smile at me - something, anything, besides turning to take in the entire class and saying, "You see girls, Agent Townsend is something of a legend in the clandestine services. I cant think of anyone more qualified for this particular lecture. "

  "Even Joe Solomon?" I doubt any of my classmates saw the malicious gleam in Townsends eyes.

  I dont think they heard the anger in my mothers voice as she said, "No. not even him. "

  And with that, Townsend spun on us, he sounded almost like a real teacher when he said," The most important thing that any of you should know about the Circle of Cavan is that it is an organization composed almost entirely of other organizations spies - Im talking about double agents. Sleeper operatives. They have agents - traitors - at every level of every major security service in the world. They could be anywhere . . . " He moved around his desk. "Even here. "

  I watched my classmates eyes as the Circle of Cavan became more than just some legend about Gilly and a ball gown and a traitor and a sword.

  "Of course, they operate so deeply underground that some in the clandestine services think the Circle is nothing but a ghost story - and elaborate legend. But in the past hundred years alone, they have been behind at least five assassinations - that we know of

  - and theyve been strong instigators of three wars. They have sold the identities of dozens of CIA and MI6 undercover operatives to hostile governments, and they came closer than anyone outside the Secret Service will ever know to killing a sitting president of the United States. "

  He crossed his arms and stared at us. "So make no mistake, they are very real indeed. "

  We sat there for fifteen minutes, listening to him cite facts as if the Circle was just another group or movement or cause - as if this wasnt personal.

  "What do they want?" I heard myself asking.

  "Money. Power. Control of -"

  "With me?" I interrupted. "What do they want with me?"

  I expected him to glance at my mother or avoid the questions, but instead, he settled onto the corner of the desk. That, we do not know. Yet. He paused. "Anything youd like to add, Rachel?"

  I thought shed tell him that was enough, that class was over. But instead my mother crossed her long legs and placed her elbows on the desk. "Perhaps you could talk a little about their history. "

  He nodded. "Ioseph Cavan was Irish by birth, and conventional wisdom holds that his followers retreated to his ancestral home after Gillian Gallagher allegedly killed him. "

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