Home > Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover (Gallagher Girls #3)(12)

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover (Gallagher Girls #3)(12)
Author: Ally Carter

"Excuse me, miss," the Secret Service agent said. It was the first time any of them had seen me as a threat, but I didn't take it as a compliment.

Behind me, I heard my mother say, "Senator, Mrs. McHenry, it's so nice to see you both again. I'm only sorry it has to be under such troubling circumstances." She gestured toward the front doors. "Won't you come in?"

Just when I felt myself getting pushed out of the picture, the procession stopped. The senior senator from Virginia stepped toward me and said, "Cammie?" He placed his large hands on both of my shoulders, gripping tightly.

"Thank you," he said, and I could have sworn I heard his voice crack. When he looked into my eyes, I couldn't help myself: I felt my lips tremble. My vision blurred. It was easy to remember what having a father feels like as the senator whispered, "And I'm so sorry."

It might have been about the sweetest, most genuine moment in McHenry family history, if Macey's mother hadn't then turned to her daughter and whispered, "Go to the bathroom and put some concealer on that." She pointed to the bruise at the corner of Macey's eye. "Really," she told her daughter, "there's no need to look like a common street thug when there aren't even any cameras around."

And, like that, the moment was over.

Chapter Seven

There are many things to love about the welcome-back dinner.

1. Hearing what everyone did over their summer vacation (which is probably far more interesting at a school where there's a very good possibility that the stories include actual gunfire).

2. The fact that even though Grandma Morgan probably makes the best chicken and dumplings in the entire world, our chef used to work at the White House, and sometimes a girl just needs a little crème brûlée.

3. Gossip.

But that night, neither I nor 2 could really hold a candle to 3. At all.

"So, Cammie," Tina Walters said as she squeezed onto

the bench across from me, squishing Liz and Anna Fetterman together, "I heard you put three of them in the hospital."

"Tina," I sighed, "it wasn't like that."

Eva Alvarez was trying to sign Macey's cast, which was difficult because the campaign manager didn't want anything to obscure the big Winters-McHenry sticker already plastered on Macey's forearm. Bex was picking apart one of the rolls from the basket on the table (even though the teachers hadn't made their entrance yet and, therefore, eating could be punishable by death—or at the very least some serious Culture and Assimilation extra homework if Madame Dabney caught you.)

"And, Macey"—Tina whirled on the girl beside me— "rumor has it you were spotted In a compromising position with a certain future first son."

And just like that, everything got quiet again.

The entire junior class turned and stared, but I kept doing exactly what I had been: studying Macey. The snob who had come to us a year before would have scoffed; the girl who had covered two years' worth of advanced encryption in nine months might have rolled her eyes; but the girl beside me simply said, "Someone needs better sources."

It was the first time she'd spoken, and something in her tone made me wonder whether or not the girl by the lake was gone for good.

"So, who thinks we'll have to stay in Code Red all semester?" Anna Fetterman asked, not even trying to disguise the fear in her voice.

My roommates and I all looked at each other, the scene that we'd witnessed outside playing over all of our faces.

"Well, they are going to give you a full-time Secret Service detail, aren't they?" Tina asked.

Macey nodded.

"Maybe the Secret Service … you know"—Liz hesitated and then lowered her voice to a whisper—"knows."

But all I could think about were the agents who had questioned me after Boston, the lies I'd already had to tell to keep our secret safe.

"Mom wouldn't," I started. "She wouldn't agree to that."

"It would be a pretty good test, though, wouldn't it?" Bex asked. I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was already gearing up for the challenge—the thought of bringing the outside world inside our walls, the danger, the risk, the possibility of knocking a member of the United States Secret Service unconscious at some point during the semester.

"What if you get a guy agent?" Courtney Bauer joined in the conversation. "Aren't all the Secret Service guys really hot?"

"They're okay," Macey said nonchalantly, as if she'd seen hotter (and I'm pretty sure she had).

"What if he's like, Mr. Solomon hot?" Anna asked and then blushed.

As much as I wanted to join in and feel excited about a possible (hot) newcomer, all I could think was that there was too much risk and danger already. I remembered the feeling in my stomach as the elevator took us to the roof in Boston. I could have stopped it then. If I'd been focused, if my mind had been anywhere except on a certain boy, my school and my sisterhood might still be safe. But instead, a generation of geniuses were sitting around stealing dinner rolls and discussing the theoretical biceps of the person who might jeopardize our entire way of life (and whether or not he would actually take a bullet for Macey if the need arose).

Suddenly the doors at the back of the room swung open, and my mother appeared, leading our teachers down the center of the huge room.

I saw the new face of Mr. Smith, our Countries of the World instructor, who is one of the more paranoid government operatives on the planet and chooses to prove it by getting a new face every year during summer vacation. I heard the muttering of more than a hundred teenage girls as they realized that this year Mr. Smith's new face was…hot.

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