Out of Sight, Out of Time (Page 27)

“Joe and I have been talking. We think maybe in a few months, when he’s stronger, we might have another service—something small. Would you like that?”

Would I like to bury my father? Again? I sighed when I realized the answer. “Yes.”

“And there will be a ceremony at Langley. They’re keeping his remains there for now, and we can go up when the semester’s over if you’d like.”

“Sure,” I said. “Okay.” I didn’t want to talk about it anymore—none of it. I’d already done enough talking with Dr. Steve.

“What is it, Cammie? What’s bothering you?”

It seemed like a ridiculous question, and I wanted to snap at her, ask her where she wanted me to begin. But when I opened my mouth, the only words that came out were “I lost the key.”

Okay, I don’t know what I had expected to say, but that totally wasn’t it. And yet, there it was—the one thing I hadn’t had the strength to say to anyone. Not to my roommates. Not in my sessions with Dr. Steve. And not to Zach.

It was my father’s final mission—the very last thing he’d asked me to do, and I’d failed. So I searched my mother’s eyes and told her the thing that hurt the most right then.

“In Dad’s letter, he said there was a key. Summer Me must have gotten it out of the box, and now it’s gone. He left that for us.…He might have died because of it, and I—”

“Cammie, no. Do you hear me, no.” My mother sounded angry and scared. She reached for my shoulders and turned me to face her. “Do not worry about this. Your father’s legacy was not some key. Your father’s legacy has not been locked up in a Roman bank vault for the past five years—it’s been here. On this couch. With me.”

Her grip tightened.

“You are your father’s legacy. And all he would care about—all I care about—is that we still have you.”

Tears filled her eyes, but she didn’t move to wipe them away. “Do you know that?”

I nodded, unable to speak.

“Okay.”

Neither of us spoke again for a long time. It was a sound I was used to. When you grow up in a house full of spies, you grow accustomed to silence. Life is classified. There is always so much that goes unsaid.

“That week—before he left—he took me to the circus, did I ever tell you that?”

“Well”—Mom laughed—“you both spent the next couple of weeks eating leftover cotton candy, so, yes, I knew. For an excellent spy, he was a terrible sneaker.”

“He seemed so happy.”

“He was happy, sweetheart. He loved you so much.”

“That was a good day,” I said, curling up beside my mother.

“There were a lot of good days,” she said, and I knew that it was true. I closed my eyes, felt my mother stroke my hair, and the music was softer then, in the very back of my mind as I drifted off to sleep, knowing my mother was with me.

There were still good days to come.

Chapter Thirty-three

It wasn’t until Friday morning that I noticed the book that Liz was carrying, reading under her desk while Madame Dabney lectured at the front of the room.

“What are you doing with that?” I asked, pointing to the bundled pages.

“It’s the CoveOps report you wrote after the whole Josh thing sophomore year,” she whispered. “The one Summer You took to Rome.”

“I know,” I said, pulling the book from her hands. “What are you doing with it?”

“Reading,” Liz hissed and pulled the book back.

“You’ve already read it,” I told her.

“I know.”

“That means you’ve already memorized it,” I reminded her, and Liz rolled her eyes.

“Re-reading can be very beneficial.”

I looked at Bex, who was sitting on Liz’s other side. She raised her eyebrows, and I knew what she was thinking. I’d carried that book to Europe. Of all the tools and devices, resources and gear, I’d taken that. Summer Me might have been on the run, but she wasn’t a fool.

Walking out of class that day, I found myself staring at the entrance to the secret passageway that led to Mr. Solomon’s room.

“You should go see him, Cam,” Zach said, appearing beside me.

“I don’t know what to say,” I admitted.

“He was your dad’s best friend,” Bex said. “He understands.”

“That’s not it,” I had to say.

Bex crossed her arms and leaned against the wall, blocking my path until I said, “I ran away, Bex. And I got caught.” The plain truth settled down on me. “Joe Solomon wouldn’t have gotten caught.”

It felt as though a wave of seventh graders were washing over us—a tide made of tiny rain-soaked uniforms and backpacks heavier than the girls who wore them. I smashed myself against the wall, huddled with my roommates and Zach, and watched them pass.

“Were we ever that short?” I asked.

Bex looked at me. “You were. I wasn’t.”

“We’re seniors,” I said. Even without the massive memory loss, it seemed like we’d reached that point too quickly.

“When did everything get so. .. complicated?” Liz wanted to know, and suddenly it sounded like a very good question.

“That’s it!” I blurted. “When did everything get complicated?”

“Boston,” Macey said with a shrug.

“No.” Zach shook his head. “I started hearing chatter earlier—that summer. Why?”

“I used to wonder why the Circle wanted me,” I said. “But maybe that was the wrong question. Maybe what I should have been asking was why does the Circle want me now?”

“What does that matter?” Zach asked.

“My dad disa—My dad died.” I forced myself to say it, choking on the word. “He died when I was in the sixth grade, but they didn’t come after me until last year. Why wait until I’m a junior in spy school? Why wait until I can fight back?”

“So either they didn’t need you then…” Liz started.

“Or they didn’t know they needed you,” Macey finished.

“Something changed.” I nodded, unable to shake the feeling that there was something we were missing—that there was something that the girl I’d been in June had already known. “So what was it?”

“Well…” Macey rolled her eyes and started down the rapidly emptying hall. “You discovered boys.”

She started to laugh at the joke, but Liz was already tearing open her backpack. “The CoveOps report! Cam, they came for you after you wrote this!” We all looked down at the book. “Summer You must have known that, so you took the report to re-read it and try to figure out what or why or…what.”

“Liz, I don’t know,” Macey said, turning back. “It was just boy stuff. I mean, Cam was goo-goo for Josh and all, but he wasn’t exactly international-incident-worthy.” I saw Zach tense a little, but no one acknowledged his discomfort. “What does the Circle of Cavan care about Cam’s first boyfriend?”

“I don’t know, Macey.” In the back of my mind, I heard the music, lower than before. “But Liz is right. I wrote that over Christmas break. It went through channels that spring. And then a few months later, Zach heard that there was a Gallagher Girl the Circle was after. Now, maybe it’s a coincidence but…”

“Maybe it’s not.” Zach’s voice was cold.

Bex nodded. “Maybe there are no coincidences.”

If there was ever any doubt that Joe Solomon was a better operative than I was, it totally went away that Saturday evening.

“Hello, Ms. Morgan.”

The voice came to me from the dark shadows of my suite, and, spy skills or not, I totally jumped. (And I might have squealed a little too.)

The light flickered on, and there he was, sitting in the chair next to Liz’s desk. There were no crutches, no cane—just one of the world’s greatest living spies…living.

“You’re. .. up?”

I didn’t know what was more troubling, that recently-outof-a-coma Joe Solomon could sneak up on me, or that supposed-to-be-dead Joe Solomon was out roaming the halls on his own.

“Where are your roommates?”

“I…” I glanced around the suite as if to make sure they weren’t there too. “I don’t know,” I said as evenly as I could with Mr. Solomon sitting there like a ghost.

“That’s okay, Cammie,” Mr. Solomon said. “It’s you I really wanted to see. So, how was your day?”

“Fine, I guess,” I said, because Saturdays were always crazy—between P&E and makeup tests, Dr. Steve’s therapy sessions and general weekendness, they always flew by in a blur.

“Good.” His voice had grown clearer. Stronger. He sounded almost like himself. “It’s good to see you, Cammie.”

“It’s good to see you too. How…are you?”

“I’ll be fine,” he said.

“How are you now?” I asked, stronger this time, and my teacher smiled, proud of me for recognizing that he hadn’t actually answered my question.

“I’m better,” he said. “I like the short hair.”

I brought my hand up and touched the ends. To tell you the truth, I’d almost forgotten it had changed. I guess I’d gotten used to it. I wondered what else I would eventually forget to miss.

“He’s really gone, isn’t he, Mr. Solomon?” I said, staring at the books on Liz’s desk. I couldn’t meet his eyes when I whispered, “My dad is really dead.”

“I know, Cammie.” Mr. Solomon didn’t sound like he’d been crying. He didn’t sound any different at all, and he must have read my eyes, because he hurried to add, “I have always known.”

“How?”

“Because death is the only thing that could have ever kept him from you.”

I didn’t want to think about my father. Not his life. Not his death. And most of all, not about the mission that had killed him—the mission that I had tried, and failed, to follow. I’d spent years on that path, searching for the truth. But I didn’t want the truth, I realized. What I wanted was my dad. And all that was left was a cold trail and an empty box.

I reached up and touched the necklace that hung around my neck, my hands eager for something to do.

“I should get you back downstairs,” I told my teacher. “You’re going to need your rest and—”

“Cammie—” Mr. Solomon was easing slowly toward me, his voice calm and strong and even. “Cammie, where did you get that necklace?”

Chapter Thirty-four

When an operative (not to mention teacher) like Joe Solomon tells you to do something, you do it. Even if it goes against doctor’s orders. Even if it doesn’t really make any sense. Even if you can’t find a wheelchair and he’s still in his flannel PJs.

When Joe Solomon grips your hand and says, “Professor Buckingham. Take me to her. Now,” you go.