A short story by Ally Carter that was split into 10 parts and posted on her website. It takes place between "Only the Good Spy Young" and "Out of Sight, Out of Time". I own nothing!
Number of Hours Since Cammie Was Last Seen: 10. Day 1: Liz
As soon as Liz saw the empty bed, she knew something was wrong. Of course, people at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women were used to Elizabeth Sutton's knowing things no one else had figured out, but that morning she wasn't recalling something she'd read in a book. Her realization wasn't the result of years of research and experiments. Although, technically, Liz was a genius, it was her gut and not her head that made her stare at the empty pillow, the perfectly tucked covers, and say, "Oh no."
"What is it?" Bex groaned, half-asleep. "If you're complaining 'cause you lost your lucky highlighter again, I'm gonna—"
"It's Cammie," Liz said, still staring at the pillow. "She's gone." Bex, however, didn't seem concerned as she rolled over and pushed her hair out of her eyes. "She probably just got up early to study." "Earlier than I got up?" Liz asked.
It must have been an excellent question, because Macey threw aside her covers and searched the four corners of the suite with her big blue eyes, as if Cammie were there, hiding in the shadows, ready to jump out and say boo. Liz began to shake. Her mind began to race.
There were hundreds of places that Cammie might go to be alone or think, to study or cry. Everything would be okay, Liz told herself, and took a deep breath. But it was the look she saw in Bex's eyes that scared her. And, with that, the girls knew it was time to go to work.
COVERT OPERATIONS REPORT
At 0500 on the morning of June fourth, Operatives Sutton, Baxter, and McHenry awoke to find Operative Cameron Morgan was not in her bed and had, apparently, not returned to her room the night before. The Operatives did not, however, panic.
"Where do you think she is?"
Liz didn't want to yell, but she couldn't help it. She'd always been the smallest of her friends, and her voice had always been the highest. At times like that, when adrenaline mixed with fear, Liz had to lash out. She felt like a hot-air balloon, too light and inconsequential to be held down.
"You don't think she did something stupid, do you?" Liz asked. "Because I'm starting to think she might have done something stupid."
"Cam's got to be here," Bex said. She was pulling on her uniform, scanning the floor for her shoes. "She's here somewhere. She couldn't have gotten far."
"Unless she has a jet." Liz stopped cold. "Do you think Cam has a jet?"
Macey shook her head, no, but Bex just plowed through the door and said, "I think she has a death wish."
PLACES WHERE THE OPERATIVES LOOKED FOR CAMMIE MORGAN:
The P&E barn
Dr. Fibs's lab
Madame Dabney's tearoom (because Operative Morgan has been known to stress-eat the chocolates Madame Dabney keeps stashed in the credenza)
"What about Zach?" Macey said three hours later. "Shouldn't we ask him if he's seen her? Maybe they're just off somewhere together. Maybe she's not… gone." She kept her voice low because the halls weren't empty anymore. The sun was up, and light streaked through the windows while girls darted down to the labs or outside for a pre-test run to clear their heads. It was finals' week at the Gallagher Academy, and the whole school was awake and alive and looking for answers.
Unfortunately, not everyone was finding them.
"That's true," Liz said, hopeful. "Maybe she's just with Zach."
Bex asked the scariest question of all: "What if she isn't."
"Still," Liz said, "we should ask him."
She didn't see the dark shadow that stood in the doorway, broad shoulders looming over them, saying, "Ask me what?"
Day 1: Zach
Bex and Macey and Liz were staring at him, speechless. If there was one thing Zach had learned from his time at the Gallagher Academy it was that jabbering, talking girls are normal. Quiet, staring girls are not. And where Gallagher Girls are concerned, abnormal is almost never good.
"Maybe we weren't talking about you," Liz said with a shrug that told him she was trying to lie, to flirt a little, in the hopes that he wouldn't notice. It was something she'd probably seen Macey do, he thought, but on Liz it didn't quite work.
"I'm the Gallagher Academy's only male student," Zach said. "That means, considering faculty and staff, the chances you are talking about me are about… " He let his voice trail off and looked at Liz.
"One in nine."
Liz and statistics did work, Zach thought and smiled.
"So," he said slowly, "like I was saying, ask me what?"
But the three girls didn't respond, and Zach suddenly realized the only thing that could possibly scare him more than their silence.
"Where's Cammie?" he said.
"Studying," Liz blurted at the same time Bex said, "P&E barn."
"She's studying P&E," Liz hurried to add. "In fact, Bex and I were just about to go—"
But Zach wasn't listening anymore. Liz was the smartest. Bex was the strongest.
But Macey was the one who would never hesitate to do the uncomfortable thing, so she was the one he turned to.
"Where is she?"
"Zach," Liz said, "we told you she's—"
"We don't know," Macey said.
"Macey," Liz hissed, but Macey talked on.
"She wasn't in the suite when we got up. We've been looking for her since five, but no sign so far."
Macey kept talking. Zach saw her lips move. He was sure she was going through all the places they'd been that morning, all the rooms and passageways they were about to check. But the words didn't matter, so he didn't hear them. There was no reason to listen to their theories when he already knew the truth.
In spite of all his training, he barely had the strength to stand. He leaned against the wall. "She's gone."
"Come on, this is Cammie we're talking about," Liz said. "You know how she is. I'm sure she's just off someplace, thinking. There's no way to know for sure that she's gone gone."
"I know," Zach said, then turned and started through the halls.
"Hey!" a girl he didn't know yelled when he pushed past her. She was so small, so fragile. A part of him knew he was supposed to stop and apologize and make it right, but he didn't even slow down.
He felt too big and awkward and strong, and he knew he didn't belong among the Gallagher Academy's fine and precious things.
He didn't belong anywhere.
The tie they made him wear was too tight around his neck. He clawed at it, but he couldn't stop running. He could do nothing but go faster through the halls that were more crowded by the second, pushing up the stairs toward Cammie's mother's office, knowing exactly what he had to do.
Find a superior.
Report the breach.
Face the music.
"Zach!" Macey yelled behind him, but only Bex could keep up.
"Zach," she said, and grabbed his arm, spun him around to face her.
"Let me go, Bex."
"Zach, just tell me what's going on," Bex tried. "Just—"
"Guys." Liz's voice was too high. She sounded terrified as her pale finger pointed to the tidy stack of papers resting on top of the case with Gillian Gallagher's sword. "What's that?"
Day 1: Macey
The case that held the sword was electrified. Macey knew that much. Every Gallagher Girl knew that much. It wasn't something that was supposed to be messed with, bothered. That was where they kept the sword that Gillian Gallagher had used to kill an assassin a hundred and fifty years before, but right then, Macey couldn't shake the feeling that the sword wasn't nearly as dangerous as the pages that lay on top of its case.
"It's Cam's report. Why would she leave this here?" Liz asked in her she's so silly tone. "I should take it back to the room. She's going to need this. She has to—"
"Liz," Bex said, reaching for her.
"Cam's going to need to finish her report, Bex," Liz talked on in the manner of someone who doesn't want to listen. Of all the things that Liz was good at, Macey knew, denial was possibly what she did best.
What Macey did best was take action.
Before anyone could stop her, she pulled the papers from the top of the case and ripped off the rubber bands that bound them.
"She's gone," Macey said. Her gaze never moved from the words at the bottom of the very last page. "She left last night to find answers."
In the next instant, the pages were gone—out of her hands and into Bex's. Macey watched Bex and Liz scan the final pages, memorize Cammie's last words. But Macey was having trouble breathing. She wasn't afraid, she realized. She was furious.
And she wasn't the only one.
"What does Cam mean when she says Zach was right?" Bex asked, pointing to the words Cammie had written and turning to look at the boy beside her. His hands were clenched into fists as he stood silently, shaking. But he didn't move to touch the pages.
"Well, Zach," Bex asked again, "what does she mean?"
To a lot of people, Zach Goode probably seemed fearless. Having a mother who's an international terrorist-slash-psychopath will do that to a boy. He had mastered the tough guy facade long before he and the boys of Blackthorne ever strolled through the doors of the Gallagher Academy. But Macey had always known better. Probably because Macey had always known boys.
But when Bex moved toward him that morning, he seemed more fragile and damaged than usual.
"Well, Zach, what does she mean?" Bex yelled.
"I saw her—a few days ago. And we talked. I told her that she and I are the only people the Circle would hesitate to kill." He took a deep breath. Sadness filled his eyes. "I told her that maybe we should run away together."
"You told her to run away!" Bex yelled.
"I told her we could keep each other safe," Zach tried to explain. "I never said she should take off on her own."
"Of course she was going to take off on her own!" Bex lashed back. "This is Cammie we're talking about. Anyone who knows her would know—"
"Stop it!" Macey snapped. "Just stop it! Both of you."
"I know Cammie," Zach said, his voice low and even.
"No." Bex shook her head. "You don't." Then she whirled around and started for the headmistress's office.
Day 1: Bex
As soon as Bex reached the door, she regretted it. Sure, the operative in her knew exactly what she was supposed to say and do, but the part of her that was Cam's friend found it almost impossible to raise her hand and knock. She might have stood there forever if the door hadn't swung open and she hadn't come face-to-face with her mother.
Not Cam's mother.
And that was all it took to make Rebecca Baxter, toughest and strongest of the Gallagher Girls, want to cry. "Rebecca?" her mother said. Anyone else would have missed the way Bex's eyes were a millimeter wider than normal, the incredibly subtle tremble of her lip. But there are some things that spies, and moms, and especially mom spies, never ever miss.
"What is it?" Bex's mom said. She didn't move, however, until she realized that her daughter was not looking at her.
"Bex," Headmistress Morgan said. She stood just behind Mrs. Baxter's shoulder, holding a cup of coffee, and Bex thought about the nightly vigil that Cam's mother had been keeping at Mr. Solomon's side.
Mrs. Morgan's eyes were red and swollen, her suit wrinkled. And right then Bex hated her best friend for running away and leaving the people who loved her to clean up her mess. Bex would have given anything to be able to turn around and carry that news away.
"Bex," Mrs. Morgan said, stepping closer. "What is it?"
"It's Cammie," Macey said, pushing forward, but Bex's legs felt frozen as Zach and her roommates passed. Bex would have rather taken a bullet — tracked down a highly-trained strike team — done anything other than what she had to do.
Maybe that's why she didn't do it.
She was silent as Macey said, "She's gone."
Liz handed Bex's mom the report they'd found on the case.
"What do you mean, girls?" Bex's mom said. "Where exactly is Cammie?"
"We don't know," Bex snapped, finally unfrozen and spinning on Zach. "He told her to run away, and she—" Bex was crossing the room too fast. Macey lunged in front of her and held her there, while Liz turned calmly to the mothers.
"She went to find the Circle," Liz said. "She said she's tired of everyone getting hurt because of her, so she…left."
"She ran away?" Mrs. Morgan's voice sounded remarkably steady. Was it shock, or strength? Bex wasn't quite sure. But whatever it was, Bex envied it. She wanted to know how she could find some for herself.
She watched Cammie's mother walk to her desk and slowly lower herself into her chair. Headmistress Morgan didn't move or speak for the longest time. She just sat…thinking.
"Mrs. Baxter, if you'll alert the other teachers of the…breach. And, girls, thank you for coming. We will let you know what we—"
"But—" Bex started, but a look from her headmistress cut her off.
"If I'm not mistaken, girls, your Junior Languages final begins in five minutes. You don't want to be late."
Day 5: Macey
Number of helicopters that landed on the lacrosse field during the 48 hours following Cammie's disappearance: 9. Number of Gallagher Alumni who spent time in Headmistress Morgan's Office: 6. Number of rumors Tina Walters heard about Cammie's location: 14. Number of rumors that turned out to be true: 0. Number of finals The Operatives had to take despite their extreme emotional duress: 11. Number of finals The Operatives passed despite their extreme emotional duress: all of them (but Operative Sutton only got a 98 on her Advanced Encryption exam and reserves the right to petition the trustees for a retest once Operative Morgan is returned safe and sound).
Ever since the first time Macey McHenry set foot in the Gallagher Academy she'd sensed that it wasn't just a school. It was far more than a mansion. It was a living, breathing thing in so many ways, and every day had a feel, a smell, a sound, and a pulse. But standing in the Hall of History looking down on the foyer below, Macey couldn't help think that it didn't look or sound or seem like the last day of school.
There were no laughing girls, no slamming doors. Sure, the halls were filled with piles of suitcases and pillows, but the good-byes were different. The entire eighth grade was down below, hugging and squeezing like they'd never see their friends again.
Macey gripped the railing.
She totally knew the feeling.
At the end of the Hall of History, Headmistress Morgan's door stayed closed. Macey felt her roommates come to stand beside her and she turned and looked at it. "What do you think they're saying in there?" Macey asked.
"I don't know. Does your mom—" Liz started, but Bex cut her off.
"No one tells me anything." Bex shook her head and forced herself to admit, "It's my fault. I should have known something was wrong—that she'd try something like this. I should have tied her to her bed, handcuffed her to me. Done…something."
Bex was breathing hard. The little veins on her neck were popping out farther than Macey had ever seen them. But then Bex's anger faded.
"I should have done something," Bex said again, panic and guilt seeping into her eyes. "I should have done anything." "But—" Liz started.
"Cammie's in the wind, Lizzie. And if she doesn't want to be found…" Bex let the sentence trail off, no one saying the obvious: that Cammie wasn't just a Gallagher Girl. She was a chameleon. And she was gone.
"They won't find her," Bex said with a look at the headmistress's closed door.
"No," Macey said. "But we might."
"Macey," Bex started, but Macey talked on.
"Who knows her better than us?" she asked. "Who has taken every class she's ever taken? Who's been a part of every secret boy-related mission?" She could see the idea starting to take root inside Liz and Bex's minds, so Macey finished, "Cam won't be found by people who know things. The Chameleon is going to be found by people who know Cammie. And that's the three of us."
Bex smiled. "We'll need a place to work."
Day 6: Liz
There were many advantages to being best friends with Cammie Morgan. She could always sneak you extra desserts from the kitchen or find the really obscure books in the library. When the halls were crowded, she always knew a way around. And most of all, Cammie knew the best places for studying, Liz had always thought. Liz's favorite had always been the old classroom on the fifth floor. No one really used it. And when the girls spent finals week dragging in extra chalkboards and maps, old computers and comfy chairs, no one really cared.
"I thought I'd find you here."
They all turned at the sound of the voice. Was the headmistress thinner? Is it possible to age a whole year in a week? Liz didn't have any data to back it up, but it seemed that way. She wondered about the long-run health implications of a broken heart.
"Headmistress, is there any…" Liz wanted to say news, but she could tell by looking that there wasn't, and she couldn't bring herself to make her best friend's mother say so.
"…benefit…" Liz said, carefully changing direction at the last minute, "…to setting up a listening post in Athens? We think that, given what Cam's father wrote in his journal about going there, that might be where Cam will start." Liz wanted an answer. She expected an answer. But Headmistress Morgan just walked slowly around the room.
"You girls have been busy," Cam's mom said, motioning to the maps that covered one wall. There was a system to the multicolored pushpins and Post-it notes. Figuring out where Cam had gone was a just another assignment, Liz was convinced. A word problem. A challenge. A code. Liz was going to crack the secret of Cammie Morgan's summer vacation if it was the last thing she ever did.
"You shouldn't have let it distract you from your finals," their headmistress told them.
"We had to do something!" Macey said. Mrs. Morgan smiled. "I know the feeling." She turned again to the board, didn't face them when she said, "My daughter has always had terrible timing."
No one knew what to say, and Liz would have traded every useless fact and figure she knew just to have one crumb to give to that woman.
"We'll find her," Bex said with a decisive nod of her head. "Finals are over, and we can be on this twenty-four seven. We can—"
"The last of the limos are leaving, girls," Cam's mom said as if Bex hadn't spoken at all.
"Uh…okay," Macey said, looking at her three roommates as if she didn't quite know what was going on. "I think we've already said goodbye to everyone."
"Not to me," Mrs. Morgan said with a smile. She held open her arms as if expecting the girls to run into them but Liz and her friends didn't move.
"We're not going anywhere," Liz said.
"Yes." Cam's mom nodded. "You are."
"But…" Macey started.
"But nothing," the headmistress snapped. "There's nothing for you to do here. If Cammie contacts any of you for any reason, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know. But in the meantime, we have every resource we can allocate to this matter working on it." She forced a smile. "We'll find her, girls."
"Yeah," Bex said. "And we can help with that."
"We think like Cammie," Macey said. "We have the same training—the same instincts. We are your best chance at—"
"No, girls." The headmistress shook her head. "Just, no. I will not take your summer away from you. I will not take the three of you…away from your parents. I won't do that."
She shook her head as if trying to cast aside the thought that was too painful.
"We'll find her," the headmistress said, then she forced a smile and stared for the door. No one said what Liz was eighty percent certain everyone in the room was thinking: I just hope we find her first.
Day 6: Zach
The machines were too loud, Zach thought. No matter how many times he heard them he always worried they'd wake Joe up. But then again, that would be a good thing. Wouldn't it? So he decided to be mad the machines weren't louder. It was an easy enough thing to do. Lately, Zach was mad at everything.
"Hey, Joe," Zach said. He eased closer to the hospital bed and made himself look down at the man in it. The bruises were fading. The burns and cuts stayed hidden beneath heavy white gauze. He thought for a second that Joe might open his eyes, yell at Zach for being there instead of out looking for Cammie. It would have been a relief to hear it, Zach thought. He wished someone would give him an excuse to run away too.
"They won't let me go," Zach admitted and sank onto a stool beside the bed. Then he laughed. "Let." He shook his head. "You don't have to say it, Joe. I know they don't let me do anything. But the truth is…I don't even know where to start looking for her. There's no chatter in Greece. She swiped some cash from Macey but no credit cards—nothing to trace. Wherever she is, she's totally off the grid," Zach said, and then something about it made him smile.
"Congratulations," he told Mr. Solomon. "You trained her well."
There was a loose thread on one of the blankets and, nervously, Zach pulled at it. He wondered how much he could unravel if given enough time.
"You'd know how to find her, wouldn't you?" Zach knew that it was true. "Cam's mom and Bex's mom, they say we shouldn't worry—that the CIA's best are on it. But no." Zach shook his head. "The best is here. The moms are wrong, Joe."
Then Zach cringed. Mothers. The last thing he wanted to think about was mothers.
"She's out there," Zach finally admitted. He'd been carrying the words around for days, but there are some things you can only say to a sleeping man. "My mother is out there, and if she finds Cammie… I can't let her find Cammie."
Zach rubbed his sweaty hands against his thighs, then looked down at the still, quiet figure in the bed. He had to be smart.
He had to be Joe.
And, most of all, he had to do something.
"Zach." He turned at the sound of his name to see Mrs. Baxter standing at the door. "It's time to go."
Yes, Zach thought. It is.
Day 45: Liz
Liz read the directions once, and then again. It shouldn't have been that hard, she told herself. Directions, she was good at. (One doesn't reassemble and modify an internal combustion engine without being able to take things step by step, after all.)
But it turned out that some directions were easier to follow than others. For example, the cookbook clearly stated that the blueberries should be "folded in by hand" but when she pushed up her sleeves and stuck her hands in the bowl she had to realize that 1) you cannot fold things that are liquid, and 2) you really shouldn't squeeze blueberries if you don't want it to look like you've been murdering Smurfs.
So Liz looked down at the directions one more time and tried to make sense of them. It was just the latest in a long, long list of things that Elizabeth Sutton couldn't do.
She couldn't tell the CIA where Cammie might have gone.
She couldn't call Cammie's mom and get any tips on any clues they might have found.
She couldn't do any homework (since, technically, Cammie's absence was seen as a security breach by the school trustees, all classified materials were restricted to school grounds over the summer).
And, most of all, Elizabeth Sutton couldn't stop thinking about her friend, wondering where she'd gone and when—and if—she'd ever see her again.
So Elizabeth Sutton baked.
Not that she was any good at it.
"You're getting better," her kid sister said when Liz pulled the muffins from the oven. "Only four out of the twelve are still smoking. Is sixty-seven percent a passing grade at the Gallagher Academy?"
"It's sixty-six point six six six six—"
"I know," her sister said. "I was rounding up. You looked like you could use the lift."
Liz took the muffin pan to the trash, turned it over, and when the muffins didn't fall out, she dumped the whole pan in. She'd just buy her mother another one, she told herself.
"Lizzie. Earth to Lizzie…"
"What is it, Ellie?" Liz said, turning to the petite girl leaning on the counter. Liz watched her sister run her finger through the leftover batter, taste it, and then make a terrible expression.
"What do you want?" Liz asked.
"Jeez," Ellie said. "You could be nice to me, you know. These are the special moments of our lives."
"Sorry," Liz said. "I just can't get this. Did you know that this recipe calls for a pinch of salt? Seriously. I'm really good at science—I mean really good. And nowhere anywhere can I find out how many grams a pinch is."
"What's wrong with you?" her sister said, jumping up on the counter. She was still so young. Was I ever that little? Liz wanted to know. By Gallagher Girl standards she was still tiny, but her sister seemed especially small, and Liz wanted to protect her from all the evil in the world. She consoled herself that there was at least one person she cared about who was for sure safe and sound that summer.
"Sorry. Do you want to help me make cookies?" Liz asked.
Her sister cringed. "You promised Mom you wouldn't use the mixer."
"It was only a little fire," Liz said, but her sister wasn't convinced.
"I want to tell you something," Ellie said.
"Okay," Liz said.
"I want to go to the Gallagher Academy."
Liz heard the words, studied her sister's face, and tried to find something—anything—that might indicate that she hadn't understood correctly.
"It's been really good for you," her sister went on. "And Mom and Dad said that—"
"They don't take sixth graders," Liz blurted, cutting Ellie off.
"So? I can get on a waiting list for next year."
Liz couldn't argue. When Ellie turned and said, "I'm going to ask Mom and Dad to call the school," Liz also couldn't help but think that her sister might become a problem.
"No one is there," Liz said. "It's summer break."
"Really?" Her sister crossed her arms. "No one is there? Not the headmistress?"
"No," Liz said. She tried to keep her voice even. "The headmistress is…busy."
"Then I'll ask to speak to someone in admissions."
"No," Liz said, harder than she'd intended. "Look, it's not that great. You aren't missing anything."
"I can go there if I want to," her sister said. "I can—"
"You don't want to go there, Ellie!"
"You don't know that," her sister said. "You just don't want me there because then you wouldn't be the special one."
"That's not it. I just don't think you'd like it, that's all."
"Is too it. You don't think I'm good enough."
But her sister was good enough.
And it was the big sister's job to make sure she stayed that way.
"You're plenty good, Ellie," Liz told her. "I just don't want to see you…change."
"Why?" Ellie said. "Going to private school didn't change you."
But it did, Liz thought. Going to the Gallagher Academy had changed everything. And suddenly Liz didn't feel helpless anymore. There was something she could do that mattered—that meant something. She could save her sister's life.
"Listen, Ellie, I know it sounds all glamorous and all—boarding school. But it's…different…than it sounds. Harder."
"It hasn't been too hard for you."
"No," Liz said. "There comes a time at least once a day where I think I can't do it. When I think it's too dangerous and—"
"It's just not what it seems, okay? It's not something I'm sure I'd choose again if I had a choice. If I'd known then what I know now."
"You're not telling me something," Ellie said, seeing through her. Her sister could always see through her.
"Just don't worry about it now, okay? Just enjoy your time to be a girl."
"Why?" her sister. "You're still a girl."
No, Liz thought. I'm a Gallagher Girl. And that made all the difference.
Day 60: Macey
The Hamptons house had never been Macey's favorite. She didn't like sand, and her pale skin didn't do well in the sun. But of all the things about her parents' summer estate that Macey hated, the worst part had to be the people. Her summer was a revolving door of assistants and colleagues, and her parents' old college friends who showed up for reasons that went far deeper than they seemed.
But that was okay, Macey told herself.
She wasn't what she seemed to be either.
At least the Hamptons house had a gym and a library and whole host of satellite feeds that a girl could watch all night, scanning international news wires for information about a teenage spy on the run.
"Macey," her mother said, barging through her bedroom door. "Still in bed," she said. "How shocking."
"I didn't know you were back," Macey said.
"Board meetings always conclude on Thursdays during the summer season," her mother said as if Macey, the family disappointment, would have no need for that information. "Really, Macey, if you're going to stay up until all hours of the night, at least try not to act surprised that there are people in this house who exist during daylight hours." There were always people in that house, existing at all hours, Macey wanted to say. But didn't. Where her family was concerned, there had always been a lot of things Macey didn't say.
"Are you coming?" her mother said, stopping at the door. "You have a guest."
Among the revolving door of people who came to the McHenrys' summer house, none of them ever came for Macey. In fact, there was only one person Macey could think of who might show up, unannounced and looking for help. So before her mother even finished her sentence, Macey was out of bed and bolting down the hall, still in her pajamas, racing past the staff with barely a glance until she reached the sweeping staircase of the main foyer and froze, staring at the young woman below.
"She's dead," Macey said, looking down at Abby. She was in a trim black suit, her hair pulled back in a sleek ponytail, and wore only a trace of makeup.
"No," Abby said. "I just came to see how you are."
For a moment Macey wondered why Abby sounded so official, then she saw that her father was walking through the door and looking up at Macey.
"Oh, here she is," the Senator said. "Macey, look who came to see you. Agent…"
"Cameron," Abby said. "From the campaign," she filled in as if Macey might have forgotten.
"Yes," Macey said. "Hi."
The Senator gave them both a smile. "Well, I'll let you girls catch up."
They could have gone down to the beach, or to her mother's sunroom for tea. It was a house built for entertaining. But
Macey led Abby to her cluttered bedroom and shut the door behind them.
"Why are you here?" she asked.
Abby shrugged. "Checking on you," she said.
"You mean checking up on me?" Macey corrected.
"If you've heard from her—" Abby started, but Macey cut her off.
"I haven't," Macey said, but Abby's look must have betrayed her skepticism because Macey snapped, "I haven't. We aren't the ones who've been keeping secrets." Another skeptical look. "Well, we haven't kept secrets lately. And we wouldn't keep secrets about this." Macey dropped onto her four-poster bed. "She ran away from us, too."
Macey stood and walked to the window, looked out over the white sand beaches and the waves. It was a million-dollar view, she'd been told. She would have traded every penny for one glimpse of where Cammie might be. Macey watched Abby's reflection in the window, and studied Abby's eyes when Macey asked her, "Is there any news?"
"Not a peep," Abby said slowly.
"Okay. Fine. Then tell me what I can do," Macey said, standing. "Do you need money, because I can get you money. Or resources. Dad has a jet…Just, Abby…" She made the woman turn to her. "Tell me there is something I can do!"
Then it was Abby's turn to drop onto the bed. "We wait, Macey." Outside, the waves broke along the beach. "School starts next month. If she's not back for that, then… Until then, all we can do is wait."
Day 100: Bex
London was always deceptively cold in summer. It was the rain, Bex thought. Even the sunniest days would turn cloudy about 3:00 p.m. Drizzle would turn to showers, and the sky would stay gray for the rest of the day. It would have been enough to put Bex in a bad mood—if Bex had spent any part of her summer in a good mood.
So she stayed with her routine. Morning tea and scones. Afternoon run. Nightly call with Liz and Macey.
Wait for Cammie.
Always waiting for Cammie.
She felt the pavement beneath her feet, pounding it as she ran. When the rain began to fall, it blew cold in Bex's face, but she didn't fight it. It felt good, stinging against her skin and dripping into her eyes. She could cry, and no one would even know it.
But Bex didn't cry.
Bex just ran harder. Faster. Into the heart of the city, past Buckingham Palace and the Queen's guards. Down streets covered with double-decker buses and black cabs, Bex couldn't help herself, she peered in every single one, thinking Cammie might be there, looking back.
She would have run all the way to MI6's headquarters, broken in, stormed the place, pouted and screamed until someone told her where her best friend was. But MI6 didn't know, or so her parents said.
Bex wished, hoped and prayed that her parents might be lying. She absolutely hated them for choosing to share the truth. When the crowds became too heavy, Bex slowed to a walk. She studied the face of every tourist, all the people leaving work, ascending out of tube stations and getting off buses, making their way home.
Bex's heart pounded, and she could feel her best friend in her bones. Cammie was there, Bex thought. Someone was there, watching her, and Bex could find them if only she could run faster, look harder.
And then she saw it, high in the air on the banks of the Thames, looking exactly like a bicycle wheel, spinning and spinning and going nowhere.
Bex knew the feeling.
She crossed the Thames, keeping Big Ben at her back. She didn't want to think about time—how quickly it was passing, what every day—every minute—had to mean.
She just bought her ticket and stepped onto the Millennium Wheel, reminding herself there's a reason people had started calling it the London Eye. She wanted to see as far as she could see. She had to scan the streets, look into the distance, and hope to catch a glimpse of Cammie.
It was too cold inside the car. Her wet shirt clung to her shoulders. Her hands shook. And as high as the wheel took her, she still couldn't see where her best friend had run.
And Bex still didn't know how to catch her.
The doors opened eventually. The tourists stepped off, moving on, but the wheel never stopped, and Bex stayed seated in the center of the tiny compartment, frozen. Unable to run anymore, to move.
Tears came, flowing down her face, but Bex didn't even bother to wipe them away. There was no use in pretending anymore. Cammie was gone, and no amount of looking or running or climbing was going to help Bex find her.
So she stayed silent and still until the boy appeared in the open door and said, "Found you."
"Zach—" Bex started, but he didn't let her finish.
"Come on," he said with a smile. "We have work to do."
That's all there is. I own nothing, it all belongs to Ally Carter, just thought you might want to read it.