United We Spy, Page 2Ally Carter
“You don’t have any bodyguards, I see,” Bex said, looking around the room. It was an office, not very big—just large enough for an old desk, a chair, and a short leather sofa that rested beneath the only window. There were a rumpled pillow and blanket, and the trash can overflowed with take-out containers and week-old newspapers.
“I guess that makes sense,” Bex added. “You’re not sure who you can trust, are you?”
“I know the feeling,” I said. When I noticed that he was shaking, I added, “Don’t worry. You don’t have to be afraid of us. ”
“Oh, I don’t know about that. ” Bex laughed. “He could be a little afraid. ”
Bex sidled closer, and Walter Knight backed away until he was pressed into his desk and couldn’t move any more.
When Bex spoke again, her voice was so low it was almost a whisper. “Elias Crane the sixth is dead, Sir Walter. You probably heard about his car accident. ” Bex made little quote marks above her head, emphasizing the word. “Oh, I bet that drove you crazy, wondering if it really was an accident. I mean, it’s possible he’d just had too much to drink when he drove his BMW off that cliff. But when Charlene Dubois went missing while driving her kids to school…” Bex let the words draw out. She made a tsk tsk tsk sound. “That you couldn’t chalk up to coincidence. So you went on the run. ” She threw her arms out wide in the small space. “And you came here. ”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Sir Walter shouted, but Bex just shook her head.
“Yes, you do. Why else would you be sleeping on the couch in an office that’s supposed to be abandoned, instead of at your London flat? Or your French villa? Or even your Swiss chalet? I have to say, this was a pretty smart decision. Squatting in a library. Clever. I bet a lot of people don’t even know that Cambridge sees it as a feather in their cap for a former British prime minister to have an honorary office here. It’s nice. It took us a while to track you down. But we did track you down, of course. And we won’t be the only ones. ”
“The first rule of running, Sir Walter,” I told him. “Never go anyplace familiar. ”
He was shaking his head and saying, “No. No. You have the wrong man. ”
“No, we don’t,” I told him. “You are Walter Knight, son of Avery Knight, great-great-great grandson of Thomas Avery McKnight. Tell me, did your great-grandfather change the family name because it made it easier for an Irish boy to rise to power in the British government at the turn of the century? Or was it because of the Circle?”
“What is your point?”
“I saw your great-great-great grandfather’s name on a list once. ” I put my hand in my pocket and felt the piece of paper that I kept there, while the image flashed through my mind. That list had been buried in my subconscious for years, but once I’d remembered it, I hadn’t been able to forget it. The names written there were going to haunt me until the descendants of every last one of those men was collected and accounted for. “It was a list of very angry—very powerful—men. Now their descendants are very powerful people. And, as you know, Sir Walter, somebody wants you dead. ”
“Get out!” he snapped, and pointed toward the door. “Get out now. Before I—”
“Before you what?” Bex grabbed him by the collar.
“You won’t be safe here,” I said, and watched the words land, the realization sweeping him off his feet. He walked to the window and sank onto the couch, pushing aside the pillow and blanket.
“Does the CIA know you’re here?” Sir Walter asked. “Don’t tell me they’re sending little girls to do their dirty work these days. ”
Sure, I should have felt insulted. After all, this man and the goons who worked for him had been trying to kill me for months. And failing. If anyone knew not to underestimate a Gallagher Girl, it should have been this guy. But in my professional opinion, guys almost always underestimate girls. And honestly, we Gallagher Girls wouldn’t have it any other way.
His gaze shifted quickly from Bex to me. He looked between us as if expecting one of us to teleport out of there and come back with reinforcements.
“Your former…associate…Catherine Goode. She killed Crane. You know that, right?” I asked, but he said nothing. “And Charlene Dubois didn’t just go for a drive and forget to come home. ”
“Charlene…is she dead?”
“Maybe. Probably. But you know Catherine better than we do, so tell me—why do you think she is picking off the leaders of the Circle of Cavan?”
“She’s crazy,” the man said with a scowl, and I knew from experience he was right. “She hates us. She wants to control things, and what she can’t control she destroys. ”
I thought about Catherine Goode’s son. She hadn’t been able to control him. Did that mean she was bound to someday destroy him too?
“They’re coming for you, Sir Walter. ” I shook my head. “And they won’t be as nice as we are. ”
“I’m not in the Circle of Cavan,” the man spat.
Bex shook her head slowly. “Wrong answer. ”
“I’m not!” This time, he shouted. “I’m not a part of that anymore. ”
“It’s not the Boy Scouts,” I told him. “They don’t let you walk away. ”
“I’m finished. And…and…this is your fault. ” He pointed in my direction. “You should have had the decency to die when we needed you to. ”
“Sorry,” I admitted. “I’ve been going through a bit of a rebellious streak. I swear it’s almost over. ”
“So you’re here to kidnap me?” he asked.
“You say kidnap. We say hold in a secure facility until it’s safe to turn you over to the proper authorities,” Bex replied with a grin. “But to each his own. ”
“If we found you, Sir Walter, then it’s just a matter of time before Catherine does too,” I told him. “Now, come on. Let us keep you safe. ”
I reached for his arm, but he jerked away.
“No place is safe. You don’t understand. Look at you. How could you understand? You’re children. If you knew what the others want to do…what the Inner Circle is planning…I never wanted this. ”
“Why?” Bex asked. “What are they planning?”
Knight shook his head. His lips actually quivered when he told us, “You don’t want to know. ”
He’d seemed afraid when he first saw us, when he spoke about Catherine and the people she had killed. But in that moment, his fear turned to terror. He rocked back and forth, saying, “You can’t stop it. No one can stop it. It’s—”
“What are you talking about?” Bex shouted, gripping him by the shoulders, holding him still. “Tell us what you’re talking about, and we’ll stop it—whatever it is. ”
“You fools. ” He laughed. “It’s already begun. ”
Bex looked at me. We’d come there with one simple mission: to find Thomas McKnight’s descendant and take him into custody. We hadn’t been counting on this. If the leaders of the Circle—the Inner Circle, as Knight had called them—were planning something, then that could very well change everything.
There was a new urgency in her voice when Bex said, “Look, we’re asking nicely. When Catherine comes—she won’t ask at all. So come with us now. Please. ”
The man snarled, “Or what?”
Irony is a funny thing. Maybe the room was bugged and someone heard the cocky, condescending tone of his voice. Or maybe it was just fate that made the sniper pick that moment to fire. But I guess we’ll never know.
Suddenly, glass shattered, showering the room in glistening, falling shards. Bex and I dove behind the desk just as the rifle fired again. I heard the hiss of the bullet, saw the dark spot that grew on Sir Walter’s chest, and watched him fall hard onto his knees.
He was still upright, though, as I scrambled toward him.
“Sir Walter!” I yelled. He was one of the people who had sent a hit man on my trail, wished me and the list inside my head out of existence. But I didn’t feel a
ny peace. Whatever ghosts had followed me to that room, they wouldn’t be satisfied just to watch him die.
“Sir Walter!” I yelled again. A drop of blood ran from his lips. As the life drained out of him, he toppled over onto the floor, never to defy us—or anyone—again.
“Cam!” I heard Bex call my name. She had a death grip on my arm and was dragging me to my feet. But I couldn’t move. I was frozen, staring through the shattered window at the woman who stood atop the building across the lawn, picking up a grenade launcher and pointing it in our direction.
“Catherine,” I said.
And then my boyfriend’s mother took aim at our window again. And fired.
Glass crunched beneath my feet.
Blood ran into my eyes.
The grenade must have struck a gas line, because smoke swirled all around me and I could feel the heat of the explosion at my back. But Bex’s hand was still in mine, and the two of us stayed low, crouching beneath the black air, running down the hall, away from the body and the flames.
When we reached the end of the hall, I looked out the window and saw Zach’s mother running across the lawn. She must have sensed me there, because she stopped and turned, raised her hand and waved, almost like she’d been expecting me, hoping to see me.
And then she was running again, and I knew I had to find her, make her pay—that as long as she was out there, a part of me would never, ever heal.
“Cam!” Bex yelled as sirens started to sound.
Classes might not have been in session, but it was still one of the most prestigious places in all of England. There were smoke detectors and glass-break detectors, and someone was going to come looking for whoever had done this thing, and we needed to be far away when they did.
“Cam, come on!”
“She’s here!” I yelled, trying to break free.
Bex held tightly to my hand—didn’t let me go. “She’s gone. ”
I’ve been to Bex’s home before. She is my best friend, after all. But when your best friend is the daughter of two superspies, then that pretty much means your best friend moves. A lot. So walking inside the Baxter flat, I couldn’t help myself. I looked around. New rooms. New walls. Same feeling.
Even though every spy I knew (which was a lot of spies) had spent the past few weeks telling me I was safe—that as soon as I remembered the names on the list, there was no reason for the Circle to try to silence me—it was still kind of weird to walk inside the Baxters’ flat and have no one clear the rooms and pull the draperies tight over the windows. Instead, Bex’s mother hugged me. Her father kissed my cheek. They asked my mom about Sir Walter Knight and told us everything everyone at MI6 was saying about the explosion at one of the most famous universities in the world.