Out of Sight, Out of Time (Page 34)
Bex finished. “And her bosses want you dead.”
“Because I’ve seen the list.”
In my mind I heard the circus music, made myself hum the song, and, with it, the memory came rushing back. I saw my father and read the words on the crumpled napkin. And then I knew what they had wanted—what part of the best criminal organization in the world had chased me to find.
What the remainder would kill me to hide.
“Your mom was right,” I said to Zach, somehow amused. “I didn’t need the copy Gilly hid in Ireland. I had it all along.”
Outside, sleet was falling, and in the warmth of my mother’s office, the windows had started to fog. I was faintly aware that I was standing. The window was cool beneath my forefinger as I ran it through the dampness on the glass.
“Cam, what are you—” Bex started, but Liz said, “Shhh.”
And I started writing.
It was like the gun in CoveOps, like the way the assassin’s rifle found its way into my grasp on the hill. My hands were not my own, but that time I knew they were moving, and I didn’t want them to stop.
When I ran out of space on the first pane, I moved to another. And then another. I could feel my roommates and Zach lurking, reading the words that I left. Drops of water bled down the glass, running line into line, but I couldn’t stop.
I had to keep writing until…
“Cam, is that…” Liz started.
“Elias Crane,” she said, looking up at Mr. Solomon, who nodded.
“The head of the largest agrichemical corporation in the world has that name. I’d wager it runs in the family.”
“Charles Dubois,” Liz offered another.
“There’s a Charlene Dubois with the European Union,” Abby said, running her hand through her hair. “Half the defense spending on that continent goes through her.”
There were four names that no one recognized immediately, but I kept writing until—
“Mrs. Morgan?” Liz’s voice was timid, afraid. “Do all the Circle heirs go…into…the business?”
“It’s unlikely that leadership would come from outside sources,” Mr. Solomon said. “They’re very secretive, girls. More so even than the CIA.”
“But…” Liz went on, eyes wide. “Does it ever…skip…a generation or something?”
“Why?” Bex asked.
Liz took a deep breath, then she pulled me away from the window so that the others could see. “Because the last name on the list is Samuel P. Winters.”
PROS AND CONS OF THE WEEK THAT FOLLOWED:
(A list by Cameron Morgan)
PRO: Knowing finally that you really were crazy for a little while. But it’s over now.
CON: Craziness (temporary or not) is usually followed by very strange looks from underclassmen.
PRO: Once you finally remember something—like a song that’s been bugging you—you can stop singing it. Forever.
CON: There’s nothing like being brainwashed and manipulated for several months to make a girl wonder if she’ll ever stop doubting her own judgment.
PRO: Discovering a clue that could help eliminate a major terror organization means some of the coolest spies in the world spend time behind your mother’s office door (especially spies named Mr. and Mrs. Baxter).
CON: Try as you might, that door stays closed to you.
I’ve grown up in the halls of the Gallagher Academy—I know the floors that slant and the stairs that squeak. I can walk them blindfolded (a fact scientifically verified by Liz during a particularly long snowstorm during February of our eighth grade year). But after that…after that they felt different—like I was seeing them for the first time in months. Like a window you don’t know is dirty until it’s been cleaned. In the week that followed, I saw everything with a new light.
I saw everything.
Ambassador Winters hadn’t saved me in Rome. He’d cornered me. I played it back, over and over—the alley he’d tried to get me to go down, the fake police officer he’d wanted me to trust. He’d been so close to ending me—ending this. But he hadn’t.
A week after Dr. Steve left, I was lying with my best friends and Zach on the mats of the P&E barn, staring up through the skylights at the moon. We should have been studying. We should have been worrying about final tests and projects and papers. But our books lay unopened around us. The questions on our minds hadn’t come from any class.
“Hey, Cam,” Liz said, breaking the silence. “There’s something I don’t get.”
She propped herself up on an elbow. “Preston’s dad. Why did he show up at the bank? Why didn’t he just let them kill you?”
It was an excellent question—one I’d thought about off and on for days. “I think…” I started slowly. “I think he wanted to find out what I knew—what I remembered about the list. About last summer. I think he didn’t want to kill me if he didn’t have to.”
But he did have to, and, thankfully, no one said it.
“You okay?” Zach asked. He looked like he was about to pick me up and run back to the doctors as fast as he possibly could.
“Yeah,” I said, then squeezed his hand and smiled. “I am.” If I sounded surprised, I guess…I was.
I stood and walked to the heavy punching bag, hit it once and watched it swing back and forth, its shadow swaying across the floor. It reminded me of the way Liz had dangled, freezing and terrified, off the roof.
“When did you know?” I asked, turning to them. “You did know, didn’t you? That something about me wasn’t…right?”
A guilty look passed over Liz’s face, but Bex didn’t bat an eye. “We always knew.”
Bex shook her head, dismayed. “You were losing time, Cammie. When have you ever lost track of time?”
She was right. I should have known something was wrong, but I guess, as a spy, sometimes the biggest lies we tell are to ourselves.
Through the windows of the barn I could plainly see the lights burning in my mother’s office, but I knew the door was still closed to us. Locked. Try as we might, the five of us were not going to be invited inside anytime soon.
“They’re working late tonight,” Bex said. She followed my gaze and probably read my mind.
“Did your mom and dad say anything to you before they left?” Liz asked Bex, who shook her head.
“Just that we don’t need to know,” she huffed, and I knew the feeling. It’s a phrase that all spy kids eventually grow to hate.
“It’s not fair,” Liz said. “They wouldn’t know anything if it weren’t for Cammie. And us. I can’t take this.” She was up and pacing across the mats. “I. Can’t. Take. This. This is torture.” Then she looked at me. Her eyes got big. “Not that—”
“It’s okay, Liz,” I said. “It’s a turn of phrase. You’re forgiven.” I forced a smile, but my mind lingered on the word.
Torture. I’d been tortured. And for the first time that semester, I allowed myself to realize that my mother was right. There are some things you really don’t want to remember.
“Okay, I got it,” Bex said. “Tonight, after everyone goes to bed, we break into your mother’s office. And we bug the place. Now, I know it won’t be easy, but—”
My friends turned to me.
“But we’ve done it before,” Liz countered.
“I’m not saying, No, we can’t do it. I’m saying, No, we shouldn’t.”
“But…why?” Liz asked.
“Because if we were supposed to know what is happening in that room, we would have been invited into that room,” I said, and smiled at Zach. He’d been right, of course, and I looked down at the mat. “Because there are things you just can’t unhear. No matter how much you want to.”
I didn’t know what was happening in my mother’s office. But I had a hunch. There were so many leaks, moles, and double agents within the CIA and MI6 that whatever happened next had to be orchestrated very carefully. And, besides, Gilly had hidden that list away a hundred and fifty years ago because people weren’t going to take it—or her—seriously.
Some things never change.
“What’s taking so long?” Liz asked. “I mean…Cam told them who the leaders of the Circle are—or who their relatives were. That’s the hard part. Can’t the CIA and MI6 and everyone just…round them up?”
“It’s not that easy, Liz,” I said.
“But—” Liz started.
“But we aren’t the only ones looking for them.” Zach walked to the window. “She’s out there. And she wants them even worse than we do.”
He was right, of course. Catherine was out there. Dr. Steve was out there. The weight of it bore down on us all until—
“We’ve got to get Preston.” Macey’s voice was flat and even. It was the first thing I’d heard her say in hours, I realized. She’d been sitting, thinking, planning that whole time, and when she spoke, it wasn’t the erratic, emotional response of a girl with a crush. It was the well-reasoned argument of a Gallagher Girl with a plan.
“Zach’s mom and the splinter group are going to be coming for Preston’s dad—maybe for Preston too. We have to get him out of there.”
“I don’t know, Macey,” Liz said softly. “We can’t just fly to Rome and…take him.”
Macey pointed to herself, but there wasn’t an ounce of tease or humor in her voice when she said, “Jet.”
“But…” Bex started. “You’re talking about kidnapping an ambassador’s son.”
“No. I’m talking about saving him,” she countered. “Either you’re with me or you aren’t, but I’m not going to sit here and let him get sucked into whatever his freak-of-nature birthright is supposed to be. I’m not going to stand by and let him be collateral damage. Or worse.”
“Macey…” I started, and she wheeled on me.
“He helped you, Cammie. You had no place to go, and he helped you.”
“I know, but—”
“But what?” she snapped. “Preston isn’t like his dad. He’s the family disappointment.” She sighed. “Trust me. I know it when I see it.”
And I believed her. Maybe because I liked him. Maybe because I’d had enough of traitors for one semester. But more than that, it was because Macey was a Gallagher Girl, not just by training but by blood. She wasn’t going to get that one wrong.
“Macey, Preston’s dad is an ambassador,” Zach said softly. “The embassy is a fort. If I know my mom, she’ll go after the softer targets first. And we don’t even know that they will go after Preston.”
“But they might. They might and—”
“Okay,” I said.
“Okay what?” Bex asked.