Out of Sight, Out of Time
Page 29

 Ally Carter

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“Cammie,” someone said, but I didn’t turn at the sound of the voice.
“Earth to Cammie…”
“Cammie!” Macey shouted, and I shook my head and turned to see my roommates standing there.
“Are you okay?” Liz asked.
“I’m fine,” I said for 2,467th time that semester. (I know. I was keeping count.)
“I thought you had therapy,” Bex said.
“I did but…then I came here.”
“Okay,” Macey said, trying again. “Then what are you doing here?”
Even though the mansion is big and solid and reinforced in about a dozen different ways, I could have sworn I heard the building groan as the wind howled beneath the peck peck peck of sleet falling against the walls. It should have been easy to stop thinking about summer. But it wasn’t.
“What is it, Cam?” Bex asked, dropping onto the sofa beside me.
“This.” I pulled the necklace over my head and stared down at the seal. “It feels like I’m missing something. About it. About Gilly.”
“I know,” Liz said. “Why have we never seen this before?”
It seemed like a fair question. Our school crest was everywhere, from the brass brackets that held back the heavy velvet curtains to the good china. Gilly had branded every inch of her home with that one symbol as if to make sure we could never forget who and what we were.
“Why haven’t I ever seen this crest before?” Macey said. I knew where her frustration was coming from. The Gallagher family was her family, after all, but there was nothing I could say to make it better.
“Here,” Liz said, sitting upright. She walked to the glass-covered bookshelves and held her palm against the small sensor on the wall. A second later, the protective glass slid aside.
“Are those…?” I asked. Liz nodded and smiled a guilty smile.
“Gilly’s original journals? Oh, yeah.” Liz shrugged. “Buckingham gave me clearance the day after she told us all about the crest. I’ve been coming down here in my spare time to read through them.”
“Of course you have,” Bex said with a grin.
“I always wondered why these weren’t in the subs,” I said, taking a pair of cotton gloves and a book from Liz. I open the smooth leather cover and looked down at the most beautiful penmanship I had ever seen.
“Well, they aren’t really classified material.” Liz opened a page at random and started reading aloud. “‘Tonight, father sent Elias to see me. They do not want me to include former slaves in my “youthful experiment,” as it will make it harder for the school and for me. He simply does not understand what my school is to be—what I am to be.’”
“So Gilly’s family…” Macey started, but trailed off.
“Disapproved?” Liz guessed. Then she nodded. “Totally.”
“Awesome.” Macey looked like she’d never been more proud to have Gilly’s blood in her veins.
“Yeah,” Liz went on. “They wanted her to get married and settle down. In journal seven, Gilly writes about how it was only after her parents died that she inherited the mansion and…well…the money. That’s when she was able to move the school here and expand it. Like Buckingham said, she made a really big deal about putting the school crest everywhere the family crest had been.”
“Gilly was awesome,” Bex said.
“Yeah,” I agreed, turning back to the fire. “She was.”
“Does she mention anything about a lock?” Bex asked Liz. “Or the key?”
“You mean the key I didn’t even know I had?” I said.
“Cammie, don’t be so hard on yourself,” Liz said. “We don’t even know that the necklace is a key. Maybe it was just some old Gallagher family heirloom your dad found.”
Liz could have been right—she usually was. But I didn’t feel any better.
I ran my finger across the small medallion. “It feels like maybe I’ve seen it before, or…I’m missing something.”
“Well, maybe Summer You did see it somewhere,” Liz said, but I just kept looking at the necklace, hearing my father’s words over and over in my mind. Key. Lock. A way for this to be over—a window that can lead to a happy ending.
My voice trailed off as my mind drifted from Dad’s letter to the crest I wore around my neck, and then all the way back to the first assignment Joe Solomon had ever given us.
“Bex, do you remember the day we met Macey?” I asked.
“Of course I do.”
“Do you remember seeing Mr. Solomon in the corridor? Do you remember what he told us to do?”
“Notice things,” Bex said, and with those words, I was gone.
Okay, so I know I’ve given my best friends a lot of reasons to think I might be crazy, but they seemed a whole new kind of worried when I jumped up from the couch and darted down the hall, through the foyer, and up the sweeping staircase at a full run.
Bex was behind me, Macey following close behind, when I turned on to the wide corridor on the second floor that led to the Gallagher family chapel. It was the oldest part of the mansion and the very place where Bex and I had stood during Macey’s first visit to our school. That was where Joe Solomon had told us that covert operatives should not just look—but see.
There was a window overhead, and I heard my teacher’s words and stared up at the kaleidoscope of color that I’d walked beneath every school day since the seventh grade—at the stained glass I’d looked at a million times but had never really seen until then. Something about that lesson and that image must have stuck with me all those years. I knew just what I was looking for, exactly where to find it. And when my roommates finally came to stand around me, I raised my hand.
“A window,” I said, quoting my father’s letter and pointing to the stained glass that was different than any other window in the school. There was a field of green, and tall stone walls, which I had always assumed represented our mansion. But that wasn’t it. The green field was too open, the blue beyond too vast—like the sea. And in the center of the lines that crisscrossed the window like a labyrinth I saw it—an emblem identical to the one that, for weeks, I had been wearing around my neck.
“There,” I said, pointing up at the one image of the Gallagher family crest that remained inside our mansion. “I saw it there.”
“It’s a picture,” Bex said.
I shook my head. “It’s a map.”
Chapter Thirty-six
(A list by Cameron Morgan)
Convince your mom, your aunt, and your recently comatose teacher that letting you go is a good idea.
When number one fails, convince them that leaving you behind by yourself is a BAD idea.
Pack all your homework to take with you (because you really shouldn’t waste that time on the plane).
Try to relax.
Remind yourself that this sort of thing is actually kind of normal for highly trained government operatives.
Pretend like normal is going to be possible for you ever again.
I’d never been to Ireland before. Or at least I couldn’t remember ever being to Ireland. But as soon as Macey’s father’s jet began its descent over the tiny airport on the country’s western coast, I was certain I was seeing it for the first time. Nothing that beautiful and green could ever be forgotten.
There wasn’t even the faintest hint of déjà vu until the jet landed and the door slid open and I heard a deep voice say, “Hello, young lady.”
Agent Townsend looked up at us, his eyes hidden behind dark glasses. He seemed especially spylike as he watched my aunt climb out of the plane and come to stand on the tarmac beside him.
“Abigail,” he said flatly.
“Townsend,” Abby said in reply.
When Mom joined Abby, Townsend gave a solemn nod. “I’m very sorry about your husband, Rachel. He was a great man.”
“Thank you,” Mom said, and no one dwelled on the rest of it.
“How’s Solomon? Mad he’s not here, I suppose,” Townsend said, walking around the end of the plane.
“Exactly,” Abby said.
Dark clouds were brewing in the east, and there was a charge in the air. I could feel the little hairs on the back of my neck standing on end when Townsend turned to me and said, “Well, Ms. Morgan, let’s have a look, shall we?”
“Here.” I handed him the pictures of the stained glass window.
“And you think this is…” Townsend started.
“It’s a map,” Liz told him.
“See—crest marks the spot,” Bex said, as if there couldn’t possibly be any doubt.
“You do know about the list Gillian Gallagher was making of the Circle’s original members, don’t you?” Macey asked.
Townsend laughed a little, as if no one so young and female had ever dared to question him before. She smirked right back, as if he’d better get used to it.
“I know about the stories,” Townsend said. “And they are just stories, you know? There’s never been any proof that Gillian Gallagher started—much less finished—that little quest.”
“She did it,” Macey said.
“That’s very well, Ms. McHenry, but—”
“We think the bank box wasn’t empty last summer,” Zach said; and that, at last, had Townsend’s full attention.
“We think it had this.” I reached for the thin chain around my neck and pulled the necklace over my head, held it out for my former teacher to see.
No one said anything while Townsend looked between the crest on the necklace and the one in the picture.
It seemed to take him forever to shake his head and say, “That doesn’t mean anything.” He took a deep breath and turned to the water, gestured to a fishing boat docked not far away. “But I guess there’s only one way to find out.”
There is a whole section of our library dedicated to Gillian Gallagher—her family, her life. Her legacy, and her school. I’d read all the books during my seventh grade year, so I knew that Gilly’s family had come from Ireland’s western coast. I knew that her grandfather was a lord and her father had been a second son. But even though I’d been perfectly capable of finding her ancestral home on a map for years, nothing had prepared me for the boat ride Townsend took us on that afternoon.
The waves of the Atlantic crashed against the rocky shore. My stomach lurched and churned as I stood looking up at the sheer face of the cliff that rose before us, a limestone wall three hundred feet high over the ocean. Water lapped against it, and the boat rocked, enveloped in the mist.
“What’s wrong, kiddo?” my mom asked.
“What if it’s not up there?” I yelled over the sound of the boat and the roar of the ocean. Mist sprayed into my face. “What if we’re wrong?”
Mom smiled. “Then we’ll know,” she shouted back, and pushed my wet hair out of my eyes. “One way or the other, we’ll know.”