Home > I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls #1)(3)

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls #1)(3)
Author: Ally Carter

"I'm pretty sure we can handle it," Liz soothed, prying the paper from Anna's frail hands. "All Buckingham does is tell horror stories about all the stuff she saw in World War Two and show slides, remember? Ever since she broke her hip she's—"

"But Buckingham is out!" Anna exclaimed, and this got my attention.

I'm sure I stared at her for a second or two before saying, "Professor Buckingham is still here, Anna," not adding that I'd spent half the morning coaxing Onyx, her cat, down from the top shelf of the staff library. "That's got to be just a start-of-school rumor." There were always plenty of those—like how some girl got kidnapped by terrorists, or one of the staff members won a hundred grand on Wheel of Fortune. (Though, now that I think of it, that one was actually true.)

"No," Anna said. "You don't understand. Buckingham's doing some kind of semiretirement thing. She's gonna do orientation and acclimation for the newbies—but that's it. She's not teaching anymore."

Wordlessly, our heads turned, and we counted seats at the staff table. Sure enough, there was an extra chair.

"Then who's teaching CoveOps?" I asked.

Just then a loud murmur rippled through the enormous room as my mom strolled through the doors at the back of the hall, followed by all the usual suspects—the twenty teachers I'd been looking at and learning from for the past three years. Twenty teachers. Twenty-one chairs. I know I'm the genius, but you do the math.

Liz, Anna, and I all looked at each other, then back at the staff table as we ran through the faces, trying to comprehend that extra chair.

One face was new, but we were expecting that, because Professor Smith always returns from summer vacation with a whole new look—literally. His nose was larger, his ears more prominent, and a small mole had been added to his left temple, disguising what he claimed was the most wanted face on three continents. Rumor has it he's wanted by gun smugglers in the Middle East, ex-KGB hit men in Eastern Europe, and a very upset ex-wife somewhere in Brazil. Sure, all this experience makes him a great Countries of the World (COW) professor, but the best thing Professor Smith brings to the Gallagher Academy is the annual anticipation of guessing what face he will assume in order to enjoy his summer break. He hasn't come back as a woman yet, but it's probably just a matter of time.

The teachers took their seats, but the chair stayed empty as my mother took her place at the podium in the center of the long head table.

"Women of the Gallagher Academy, who comes here?" she asked.

Just then, every girl at every table (even the newbies) stood and said in unison, "We are the sisters of Gillian."

"Why do you come?" my mother asked.

"To learn her skills. Honor her sword. And keep her secrets."

"To what end do you work?"

"To the cause of justice and light."

"How long will you strive?"

"For all the days of our lives." We finished, and I felt a little like a character on one of my grandma's soap operas.

We sat down, but Mom remained standing. "Welcome back, students," she said, beaming. "This is going to be a wonderful year here at the Gallagher Academy. For our newest members"—she turned to the table of seventh graders, who seemed to shiver under her intense gaze— "welcome. You are about to begin the most challenging year of your young lives. Rest assured that you would not have been given this challenge were you not up to it. To our returning students, this year will mark many changes." She glanced at her colleagues and seemed to ponder something before turning back to face us. "We have come to a time when—" But before she could finish, the doors flew open, and not even three years of training at spy school prepared me for what I saw.

Before I say any more, I should probably remind you that I GO TO A GIRLS' SCHOOL—that's all girls, all the time, with a few ear-drop-needing, plastic-surgery-getting male faculty members thrown in for good measure. But when we turned around, we saw a man walking in our midst who would have made James Bond feel insecure. Indiana Jones would have looked like a momma's boy compared to the man in the leather jacket with two days' growth of beard who walked to where my mother stood and then—horror of horrors—winked at her.

"Sorry I'm late," he said as he slid into the empty chair.

His presence was so unprecedented, so surreal, that I didn't even realize Bex had squeezed onto the bench between Liz and Anna, and I had to do a double take when I saw her, and remembered that five seconds before she'd been MIA.

"Trouble, ladies?" she asked.

"Where have you been?" Liz demanded.

"Forget that," Anna cut in. "Who is he?"

But Bex was a natural-born spy. She just raised her eyebrows and said, "You'll see."

Chapter Two

Bex had spent six hours on a private jet, but her cappuccino-colored skin was glowing, and she looked as if she'd just walked out of a Noxzema commercial, so I really wanted to be petty and point out that the sign in the foyer said we were supposed to be speaking English with American accents during the Welcome Back Dinner. But as the only non-U.S. citizen Gallagher Girl in history, Bex was used to being an exception. My mom had bent some serious rules when her old friends from England's MI6 called and asked if their daughter could be a Gallagher Girl. Admitting Bex had been Mom's first controversial act as headmistress (but not her last).

"You have a good holiday, then?" Throughout the hall, girls were beginning to eat, but Bex just blew a bubble with her gum and grinned, daring us to ask her for the story.

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