Home > I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls #1)(5)

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls #1)(5)
Author: Ally Carter

"Come on," Tina said, "I heard Madame Dabney telling Chef Louis that your mom was working on him all summer to get him to take the job. You had to hear something!"

So Tina's interrogation did have one benefit: I finally understood the hushed phone calls and locked doors that had kept my mother distracted for weeks. I was just starting to process what it meant, when Joe Solomon strolled into class—five minutes late.

His hair was slightly damp, his white shirt neatly pressed—and it's either a tribute to his dreaminess or our education that it took me two full minutes to realize he was speaking in Japanese.

"What is the capital of Brunei?"

"Bandar Seri Begawan," we replied.

"The square root of 97,969 is …" he asked in Swahili.

"Three hundred and thirteen," Liz answered in math, because, as she likes to remind us, math is the universal language.

"A Dominican dictator was assassinated in 1961," he said in Portuguese. "What was his name?"

In unison, we all said "Rafael Trujillo."

(An act, I would like to point out, that was not committed by a Gallagher Girl, despite rumors to the contrary.)

I was just starting to get into the rhythm of our little game, when Mr. Solomon said, "Close your eyes," in Arabic.

We did as we were told.

"What color are my shoes?" This time he spoke in English and, amazingly, thirteen Gallagher Girls sat there quietly without an answer.

"Am I right-handed or left-handed?" he asked, but didn't pause for a response. "Since I walked into this room I have left fingerprints in five different places. Name them!" he demanded, but was met with empty silence.

"Open your eyes," he said, and when I did, I saw him sitting on the corner of his desk, one foot on the floor and the other hanging loosely off the side. "Yep," he said. "You girls are pretty smart. But you're also kind of stupid."

If we hadn't known for a scientific fact that the earth simply can't stop moving, we all would have sworn it had just happened.

"Welcome to Covert Operations. I'm Joe Solomon. I've never taught before, but I've been doing this stuff for eighteen years, and I'm still breathing, so that means I know what I'm talking about. This is not going to be like your other classes."

My stomach growled, and Liz, who had opted for a full breakfast and a ponytail, said, "Shhh," as if I could make it stop.

"Ladies, I'm going to get you ready for what goes on." He paused and pointed upward. "Out there. It's not for everyone, and that's why I'm going to make this hard on you. Damn hard. Impress me, and next year those elevators might take you one floor lower. But if I have even the slightest suspicion that you are not supremely gifted in the area of fieldwork, then I'm going to save your life right now and put you on the Operations and Research track."

He stood and placed his hands in his pockets. "Everyone starts in this business looking for adventure, but I don't care what your fantasies look like, ladies. If you can't get out from behind those desks and show me something other than book smarts, then none of you will ever see Sublevel Two."

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mick Morrison following his every word, almost salivating at the sound of it, because Mick had been wanting to hurt someone for years. Unsurprisingly, her beefy hand flew into the air. "Does that mean you'll be teaching us firearms, sir?" she shouted as if a drill sergeant might make her drop and do push-ups.

But Mr. Solomon only walked around the desk and said, "In this business, if you need a gun, then it's probably too late for one to do any good." Some of the air seemed to go out of Mick's well-toned body. "But on the bright side," he told her, "maybe they'll bury you with it—that's assuming you get to be buried."

My skin burned red. Tears filled my eyes. Before I even knew what was happening, my throat was so tight I could barely breathe as Joe Solomon stared at me. Then, as soon as my eyes locked with his, he glanced away.

"The lucky ones come home, even if it is in a box."

Although he hadn't mentioned me by name, I felt my classmates watching me. They all know what happened to my dad—that he went on a mission, that he didn't come home. I'll probably never know any more than those two simple facts, but that those two facts were all that mattered. People call me The Chameleon here—if you go to spy school, I guess that's a pretty good nickname. I wonder sometimes what made me that way, what keeps me still and quiet when Liz is jabbering and Bex is, well, Bexing. Am I good at going unnoticed because of my spy genetics or because I've always been shy? Or am I just the girl people would rather not see—lest they realize how easily it could happen to them.

Mr. Solomon took another step, and my classmates pulled their gazes away just that quickly—everyone but Bex, that is. She was inching toward the edge of her chair, ready to keep me from tearing out the gorgeous green eyes of our new hot teacher as he said, "Get good, ladies. Or get dead."

A part of me wanted to run straight to my mother's office and tell her what he'd said, that he was talking about Dad, implying that it had been his fault—that he wasn't good enough. But I stayed seated, possibly out of paralyzing anger but more probably because I feared, somewhere inside me, that Mr. Solomon was right and I didn't want my mother to say so.

Just then, Anna Fetterman pushed through the frosted-glass doors and stood panting in front of the class. "I'm sorry," she said to Mr. Solomon, still gasping for breath. "The stupid scanners didn't recognize me, so the elevator locked me in, and I had to listen to a five-minute prerecorded lecture about trying to sneak out of bounds, and…" Her voice trailed off as she studied the teacher and his very unimpressed expression, which I thought was a little hypocritical coming from a man who had been five minutes late himself.

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