Home > Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover (Gallagher Girls #3)(7)

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover (Gallagher Girls #3)(7)
Author: Ally Carter

Free-falling, I felt my head bang against the metal shaft. Something hot and wet oozed into my eyes, and still I felt…grateful…hopeful. Dizzy.

There was a soft thump. The ground beneath me seemed to roll, but at least there was ground.

I turned and squinted through dizziness and pain to see a red drop fall onto white sheets. Macey lay unconscious beside me.

I lay my head back and felt the world begin to spin. In the distance, someone yelled, "United States Secret Service, open up!"

And through a hazy fog, my mind drifted back to the last time the world had gone upside down. A boy was dipping me in the center of my school and kissing me. For a moment, I could almost see his face leaning toward me, as if my life were flashing before my eyes.

And then the whole world faded to black.

Chapter Four

Not all sleep is equal, of that much I am sure. After all, I've experienced many varieties of it firsthand. There's Bex-challenged-me-to-a-round-of-kickboxing sleep, where exhaustion is matched only by the aching of your body. There's Grandma-Morgan-made-a-huge-dinner-and-there's- nowhere-I-have-to-be-for-three-weeks sleep that only comes in places where you feel utterly safe. And then there's the other kind—the worst kind—when your body goes someplace your mind can't follow: the Mom-just-told-me-Dad's- never-coming-home-again sleep. Your body rests, but your heart… it has other things to do, and you wake up the next morning praying, hoping, willing the night before to have been a terrible dream.

I'd never known it was possible to have all three kinds at once. But it is. I know that now. "Don't move," a deep voice said.

I felt the light first, burning through my closed eyes,

forcing me to turn my head away from the glare. As I moved, a rush of white-hot pain seared through me, and a deep voice chuckled.

"I know you're not big on following rules, Ms. Morgan, but when I tell you to stay still, you might want to do as I say.

I blinked and swallowed, but my mouth felt as if it were full of sand, my eyes like burning embers. I tried to sit upright, but a hand eased me back down onto soft pillows. I looked up at the blurry face of my mother—my headmistress—and the best spy I've ever known.

And then somehow I found the strength to say, "That wasn't a test, was it?"

I didn't know where I was, or even the day or the time, but I knew my mother's face, and that was enough to tell me the answer to my question.

"Welcome back," I heard the deep voice say, and I turned to see Joe Solomon standing at the foot of my bed; but for the first time since I'd met him, I wasn't worried about what my hair looked like in his presence.

"Mr.—" I started, my voice rough.

"Here." My mother brought a glass of water to my lips, but I couldn't drink.

"Macey," I cried, sitting up too quickly. My head swam and my throat burned, but nothing could stop me. A thousand questions came to mind, but right then only one really mattered. "Macey! Is she—"

"She's fine," Mom said soothingly.

"Better than you, actually," Mr. Solomon said. "A broken arm isn't quite as scary as…" He trailed off but tapped his temple, and for the first time I felt the bandage that covered my head. I remembered the fall through the shaft, the blood in my eyes, and then, spy training or not, I felt a little woozy and lay back down on the pillow.

"Where am I?" I asked, noticing that instead of the skirt I'd been wearing in Boston, I had on my oldest and softest pair of pajamas. Instead of the soreness of fresh bruises, my body ached as if I hadn't moved in years, so then I knew to modify my question. "When am I?"

"You've been out for a little more than a day," Mr. Solomon said. "We brought you here as soon as we could."

"Here?" I looked around. The log wall beside my bed was rough beneath my fingers. The floors were solid wood. I was in a cabin, I realized, probably belonging to the school or the CIA. "Is this a safe house?"

I didn't have a clue how safe it was until I heard my teacher say, "It had better be. I own it."

Mr. Solomon owned a house. Mr. Solomon owned this house. On any other day I might have absorbed every detail of the place—the patchwork quilt, the tackle box, the smell of fresh pine and old mothballs. I might have marveled that Mr. Solomon lived anywhere, that he had roots.

"I don't use it much," Mr. Solomon said, as if reading my mind. "But it has come in handy"—he seemed to be considering his words—"on occasion."

I didn't stop to think about the "occasions" of Mr. Solomon's life. I knew my imagination could never do them justice, so instead I just sat there trying to summon the courage to say, "Charlie?"

Mom smiled. She smoothed my hair. "He's going to make it, Cam. He's going to be fine."

It should have calmed me, but it didn't. The sun broke through the heavy trees outside, and rays fell across the bed. I sat up a little straighter. "Is Macey here too?"

My teacher nodded. "Outside. It took a little doing to get her away from the Secret Service after everything, but"— he trailed off, glanced at my mother then back to me— "we've done harder."

Sometimes it seems like we Gallagher Girls spend half our time wondering about the things that our teachers have seen and done. But that day I didn't ask for details. That day, I had seen enough to know that maybe I didn't want to hear the stories.

"What happened?" I asked. I didn't look at my mother or my teacher. My fingers traced the pattern of the quilt. I was the one who had been there, and yet all I could do was say, "I mean, was it…"

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