Home > Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls #5)(11)

Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls #5)(11)
Author: Ally Carter

I didn’t want to consider what the mother and aunt standpoints might have looked like.

“We had to keep it quiet,” Mom went on. “We couldn’t let them know you were in the wind. Alone.”

I blinked, told myself it was the glare and not the words that were causing my eyes to water.

“But we knew how you were trained,” Abby went on. “And we had an idea of what resources you had with you, and…”

“We knew you,” Liz finished, smiling.

Bex sounded significantly less chipper when she pushed past me. “Or we thought we did.”

Macey shrugged. “We didn’t know where you were, Cammie,” she said, stepping away from the van. “But this seemed as good a place as any to run.”

It was, after all, where she had run. I smiled, knowing that at least I was in good company.

Walking toward the porch, I tried to search out something that was familiar, but I’d been to that cabin at least twice before. Once, after the Circle had made its first move—back when we’d thought the Circle was after Macey. And once again when Macey had run there on the eve of her father’s big election. Those memories swirled together, and I didn’t know where the old stopped and the new might have begun.

And there was something else, a worry or a fear tugging at the back of my mind.

“I don’t think I would have come here.” I stopped in the cabin’s doorway and shook my head, as if even then it felt wrong to intrude. “I mean, how can you be sure I came here?”

Abby laughed. “Oh, you were good, Squirt.” She walked to a cabinet and turned on a small TV. “But Joe was better.”

A split second later, a blurry black-and-white picture filled the screen. It was divided into four quadrants, the images flashing, rotating from one camera to another, showing at least a dozen different angles of the cabin and the grounds.

“He had cameras,” I said, unable to hide the awe in my voice.

Abby worked the remote control, and a moment later I was looking at a mirror into the past. My hair was long again, and even in black-and-white, I knew it was the brownish-blond color that had always seemed so boring to me, back before I realized that boring is seriously underrated.

Abby pushed a button, sending the surveillance footage into fast-forward while I stayed perfectly still, watching Summer Me sleeping and pacing. I did sit-ups and push-ups, and the sun rose and set. Rain fell and lightning flickered across the sky. Days passed and I stayed on that screen, alone.

“How long?” I asked.

“Four days,” my mother said. “We think. We don’t know exactly when you left, because…”

Her voice trailed off as Abby slowed the tape to regular speed. On the screen, the girl I’d been stood at the sink washing a plate and fork, staring out at the lake beyond the window, lost in thought. But then something must have caught her eye, because she turned and dragged a chair to the corner of the room and climbed onto it. My face filled the screen as I leaned close to the camera. Then the image dissolved into static, and the eight of us stood silent, no clue as to where Summer Me might have gone.

Abby put the remote down. “Judging from the time stamp on the tape, that was two days before we came here looking for you. But by then, the cabin was empty. We didn’t have any idea where you’d gone until the day you called from Austria.”

I turned to see the plate in the drainer by the sink, sitting exactly where it was in the video. And then for the first time, it wasn’t a question at all. “I was here.”

No one said a word as I walked to the sink. “I don’t feel anything,” I said, reaching for the dish.

“It’s okay, Cam,” Liz told me. “Just…look.”

Turning around in the room, I saw the narrow bed where I had woken after the attack in Boston—the first time the Circle had come for me. I recognized the small table from the video, ran my hands along the shelves of books.

“Why are you just telling me this now?” I asked, and felt something shift inside me. “Why didn’t you bring me here first thing?”

“Cammie,” Mom said, reaching for me.

“I need to remember,” I told her. “I have to.”

Mom looked as if that were the last thing in the world she wanted me to do, but she’d given up on fighting and didn’t say a word.

“Why would you come here, Cam?” Abby asked.

“I don’t know,” I admitted.

“Not why did you,” she clarified. “Why would you?”

It was just another test, a quiz, a hypothetical. I should know the answer. A Gallagher Girl with a big black spot in her head is still a Gallagher Girl.

I was still me.

“I didn’t know for sure that I was going to leave until the night before I did it. I didn’t have a lot of time to plan or pack. Time. I would have gone somewhere to buy time.”

Mom nodded. “Yes.”

“I couldn’t get any supplies out of the sublevels without someone seeing or suspecting I was up to something, so I didn’t have much I could take with me. I remember packing some clothes and”—I cut my eyes at Macey, whose wallet I had raided—“money. Sorry about that. I’ll pay you back.”

“Oh, I’ll think of some way you can repay me,” Macey told me.

“I needed a safe place off the radar and time to think and…gear. I needed gear.”

Abby nodded. “Joe’s storage shed was half empty when we got here.”

“But mostly,” I finished, as if she hadn’t spoken at all, “what I really needed was time.”

I felt as much as saw Zach looking at the room, his eyes following mine, but I could tell he was seeing a different story.

Mom must have noticed it too, because she asked him, “Zach, what is it?”

Zach’s eyes slowly passed over the cabinets, the closet, and the bed. Then finally his gaze settled on the shelves of books.

“Those are out of order,” he said, pushing the books aside to reveal a small section of paneling that was looser than the rest. A second later, he had it open and was staring into an empty hole in the wall.

“What was in there, Zach?” Abby said, pushing past him to stare into the narrow opening in the paneling. “Was it weapons? Passports? Cash?”

“I don’t know,” Zach said, shaking his head. “He never showed me this.”

“Think, Zach! What did Joe—”

“Not Joe.” My mother stood perfectly still, her voice slicing through the crowded room. “That’s not Joe’s hiding place. It’s Matthew’s.”

My father had been there—I could see it on my mother’s face and feel it in my bones—not a memory, but an overwhelming sense of just knowing something, of feeling him, like a ghost inside the walls.

“I must have found it,” I said, my voice flat and even. “I found whatever he left and then…I lost it.” I looked at my mother, guilt and anger pounding through me. “I lost it. Just like I lost his journal and…” I didn’t say my memory. I didn’t have to.

“It’s okay, Cam,” Liz said, reaching for me.

But it wasn’t okay. Not really. My mother kept staring at the empty compartment as if we’d missed something and a part of my father was still in there, calling to her through the years.

The screen door slammed, and a moment later Zach’s voice came floating through the thin panes of the windows, saying, “I should have known she’d come here. I should have known.”

“Don’t blame yourself,” Bex told him. “You aren’t the one to blame.”

And then I couldn’t stop myself. I needed fresh air in my lungs. I wanted to move, to feel my blood pumping, warming me. I longed to be free as my legs and arms worked independently from my mind.

I. Wanted. To. Run.

So I pushed open the door, darted around the corner of the cabin and started through the woods. Despite the throbbing of my ankle and the aching in my bones, it felt good to run. So I ran faster and faster until a twig snapped behind me, and I spun, my heart pounding hard in my chest.

“Sorry,” Bex said. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“It’s not an act, Bex,” I said. “I really don’t remember.”

She crossed her arms and cocked a hip. “Why you left? Or why you didn’t come back?”

“I know why I left,” I shot back.

“Really?” Bex asked. “Because I don’t.”

“What was I supposed to do, Bex? Keep going until you ended up in a coma? Until Liz ended up dead?”

“You didn’t have to go on your own,” she countered.

“Yes! I did.”

“CoveOps rule number twenty-one,” Bex said. “‘An operative should never enter a deep-cover situation without initiating emergency contact protocols.’”

“CoveOps rule number seven,” I countered. “‘The essence of Covert Operations is an operative’s willingness and ability to work in deep cover operations alone.’”

Bex cringed. “Don’t you quote Joe Solomon when he isn’t here to tell you you’re wrong.”

“The fact that he isn’t here just proves that I’m right!” I shouted, then lowered my voice. “You don’t get it, Bex. Eventually, we all end up alone.”

Bex glanced into the woods and back again. “In what scenario is you on your own preferable to you with backup?” I realized then that Bex might understand why I hadn’t been a very good friend, but she’d never be able to forgive me for not being a very good spy.

And I couldn’t help myself. I got angry.

“You know, I never got to ask how you spent your summer, Rebecca.” Was invoking the power of her given name taking it a bit too far? Maybe. But I didn’t care. “Do anything special?”

“You know…the usual. Swimming. TV. Scanning CIA bulletins for signs that my best friend was dead.”

I spun and started walking through the trees, climbing to the top of the hill.

“Oh, I’m sure it wasn’t all gloom and doom,” I shouted over my shoulder to Bex, who followed behind. “Zach seems like quite the travel buddy. I mean, you did go to Budapest, right?”

“How did you know about—”

I stopped and wheeled on her. “I’m a spy, Rebecca.” I saw my shadow on the ground, felt my too-short hair blowing around my face as I said, “So what was it? Mission with your parents? Vacation? Romantic getaway?”

“What do you think we were doing in Budapest?” Bex shouted. “Who do you think we were trying to find? If you have to ask, then you really don’t know us at all.”

And in that moment Bex didn’t look like a girl who was after my boyfriend. She looked like a girl who had been terrified of losing her best friend. She and Zach weren’t together—of course they weren’t. They were just the people who most wanted to be with me.

Right then I realized that, to Bex, I was still gone.

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