Classified Material, Page 2Ally Carter
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 direc
tions 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…”
sp; “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.”