Home > Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls #5)(8)

Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls #5)(8)
Author: Ally Carter

And then I stepped back, and for probably the millionth time in my life, I ran away.

Chapter Nine

Covert Operations Report Summer

Summary by Cameron Ann Morgan

On the fourth of June, Cameron Morgan, a junior at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, left the school via the passageway behind the tapestry with the Gallagher family crest, which hangs in the basement corridor.

On September 30, The Operative woke up in a convent on the Austrian border, high in the Alps. She had nothing but a threadbare top and pants. At some point, The Operative had lost her shoes, her late father’s journal, and her memory.

And that is everything The Operative remembers about her summer vacation.

I looked down at the page and tried to pinpoint the exact moment when homework became more about questions than answers. I’d never felt less like a Gallagher Girl in my life. Even in the library, sitting in one of my all-time favorite window seats with the heavy velvet curtains drawn around me, it still seemed like I was a long, long way from home.

My breath fogged on the glass, mimicking the windows of the convent, and it might have been easy to think I was still there had it not been for the voice on the other side of the curtains saying, “Yeah, well, I heard the trustees were really worried about letting her back in.”

“I know,” another girl said. “She missed a lot of school.”

I froze. I didn’t want to move or breathe or do anything that might make the girls stop talking—or, worse, realize that the person they were talking about was two feet away and listening to every word.

“No, not the school part,” the first girl replied, her voice a conspiratorial whisper. “The memory-loss part. I mean, my mom graduated with one of the trustees, and according to her, that is a really big deal. You saw what she did today.” I felt my heart speed up. My hands shook. “No one knows if Cammie Morgan can be trusted.”

I listened to the girls walk away, then gathered my things and slipped out as quietly as I could. I certainly didn’t tell them they were wrong. Probably because I was afraid they were right.

There are fourteen routes a person can take from the library to the suite where I’ve lived since my first day of seventh grade. I knew which one was fastest, which was busiest, which one had the most awesome views, and the route that was most likely to make a girl freeze to death in winter.

But that night I didn’t settle for any of those. Instead, I went straight for the part of the mansion that no one but the teachers ever used. The halls were long and narrow and empty, nothing but faculty living quarters and the occasional bookcase to mark the way.

It was easy to feel like I was the only person in the mansion (which was totally what I was going for), right up until the point when I heard a voice say, “Cammie?”

Zach was there. Zach was there, wearing nothing but a towel.

Blood rushed to my cheeks.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I—”

“What are you doing here?”

And just that quickly, the being there part became far more embarrassing than the towel part, to tell you the truth, because something in the way he was looking at me told me that I had completely and totally failed in my attempt to hide.

I didn’t know which was more frustrating—his penchant for showing up at utterly embarrassing moments in my life, or the looks he gave me when he did—as though he knew more, saw more, understood better than anyone else on earth, and right then I kind of hated him for it.

I especially hated that it was probably going to happen a lot more now that we actually lived under the same roof.

“Cammie.” Zach took a step closer when I didn’t say anything. “Were you looking for me?”

“No. Why would you think…”

“My room.” He gestured to the end of the hall. I hadn’t really thought about where he was staying. It made sense, I guess, that they would move the Gallagher Academy’s first (and probably last) full-time male student into one of the empty faculty rooms. “Is that why you’re here?”

“Uh…no,” I said, wishing I could claim I was on some mission, that I had some perfectly logical reason for being there, but I came up with nothing.

Note to self #1: Looking cool is a lot easier when you are cool.

“Where’s Bex?” I asked.

“I don’t know.” Did he sound shocked or defensive? I couldn’t really tell.

“Oh.”

Note to self #2: Acting like you don’t care is a whole lot easier when you don’t care.

The silence that came next was deafening. I was just starting to long for the whispers of the library and the stares of Sublevel Three when Zach did the one thing that could make the moment worse.

He lowered his voice, asking, “Hey, are you okay?”

Were people ever going to stop asking me that? I honestly wanted to know. But not as much as I wished I knew how to answer it.

“Today”—he went on—“that wasn’t really you, you know.”

Maybe it was the ache in my head or the thought of him and Bex together all summer (and after)…Maybe it was the conversation I’d overheard, or all the other things that people were no doubt saying in all the places I couldn’t hear. But for some reason his words didn’t make me calm.

They made me angry.

“Oh, and you’d know the real me, would you? Because I’m pretty sure I’ve never known the real you.”

“Cam—”

“I mean, all this time I thought your parents were dead, Zach. I distinctly remember your telling me your parents were dead.”

“No. You remember assuming my parents were dead and my not correcting you.”

“But actually your mom is the woman who’s been chasing me for over a year,” I went on, as if he hadn’t spoken at all. “Which explains how you always knew so much, doesn’t it?” I gave him a hard look. “At least that explains something.”

“What are you doing here, Gallagher Girl?” He moved closer. He smelled like shampoo, and his skin glistened in the dim light. “What brought you here, really?”

I wanted to lie to him, but I didn’t dare. I was too certain he’d see through it, through me. But then salvation appeared in the form of a slightly balding man at the end of the hall.

“Dr. Steve,” I said calmly. “I came to talk to Dr. Steve.”

Casually, Zach glanced behind him to look at his teacher, and then he turned back to me.

“Well then, don’t let me stop you.” He brushed past me. His voice was a whisper when he said, “Believe it or not, Gallagher Girl, I’m all out of secrets.”

It was all I could do not to turn and watch him walk away, to pretend like I didn’t care—that whatever rift there was between us didn’t hurt. Luckily, there wasn’t time for any of that, not with Dr. Steve walking toward me, saying, “Hello, Cammie. Teenage rendezvous?” he asked, with a glance at Zach and a chuckle.

“No,” I said. “I’m here to talk to you.”

“Oh, very well, then. What can I do for you?”

Dr. Steve’s throat was a deep, crimson red. You could actually see the shape of my fingers outlined in the coming bruise, and all I could do was stare at it.

“I did that?”

It took me a moment to realize I’d spoken aloud. It took a moment more to remind myself it wasn’t a question. “I did that,” I said, forcing myself not to turn and run away from Dr. Steve and the bruise around his neck. I made myself look at it. Think about it. I didn’t want to hide anymore.

“Did you say something?”

“Nothing. I mean…I’m sorry, Dr. Steve. I’m so…Are you okay?”

“Oh, I’ll be fine.” He smiled. “I promise.”

Aside from the ring of red that circled his throat, he looked exactly like he had the day he’d first arrived at the Gallagher Academy, just after winter break in the middle of my sophomore year. He’d seemed in every way the opposite of the boys that he’d brought with him, and knowing the truth about what Blackthorne is—or was—didn’t change that. If anything, he seemed even more out of place.

If anything, I felt even more ashamed.

“I really am sorry.” I heard my voice break.

“I know you are, Cammie.” Dr. Steve reached out as if to pat my back, but then he seemed to think better of it. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t blame him. Even I moved away, unwilling to get too close.

“You couldn’t have hurt me, Cammie,” he said, but that wasn’t true, and I knew it. He already wore the truth around his neck.

“The mind is a vast, complex thing,” he said. “Your memory is a complex thing. No matter what you went through last summer, you couldn’t kill someone. Not in cold blood. It isn’t in you.”

I remembered the way my hands moved, as if independent from the rest of me. I didn’t know what was in me anymore.

He raised an eyebrow, studying me. “You don’t believe me?”

“If Liz hadn’t stopped me…”

“You stopped yourself.”

“No, I didn’t,” I countered.

“Cammie, since when can Liz overpower anyone?”

It probably seemed like a fair point—Liz is the shortest, lightest, and least coordinated of us all. But he didn’t know how truly powerful a great big mind inside a really determined girl can be.

“What kind of doctor are you?” I asked.

“Psychiatry is my area of expertise. My training is a tad more…specialized than that, though.”

I wondered if specialized meant really good at turning teenage boys into government assassins.

“I don’t teach people how to kill, Cammie,” he said, as if reading my mind. “No. The Blackthorne Institute had a tradition of recruiting very disturbed young men and teaching them very bad things. But that, as they say, is history. It is my job to help troubled boys grow into strong young men. Or at least Joe Solomon said he was leading the movement to make that Blackthorne’s new mission. But Joe Solomon said a lot of things he didn’t mean, didn’t he?”

A darkness crossed his face, and I thought, He doesn’t know. Sure, the fact that Mr. Solomon was really a triple agent and wasn’t actually loyal to the Circle was a closely guarded secret, but until then, almost every adult I knew had been in on the secret. It felt so strange seeing a lie at work.

Dr. Steve sighed. “But I guess we’ll never know what Joe Solomon was thinking, will we? I’m sure his betrayal must have been very hard on you.”

“Yeah,” I said, the memory fresh. I absolutely meant it when I told him, “It was.”

I thought about Joe Solomon, about a time when he was alive and well, and the biggest problem in my life was whether or not a boy thought I was pretty.

“What’s really bothering you, Cammie?”

“I don’t remember the summer.”

He gave me a kind smile. “I know. That must be very hard.”

“My mom says I shouldn’t try to remember. She says—”

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