The water was still as we walked beside it. A single rower sliced through the channel like an arrow shooting out to sea, and I couldn’t help but stare after him, more than a little jealous.
“It’s beautiful. Isn’t it, Cammie?” I heard my mother ask. She slipped her arm around my waist. It felt sure. Safe.
But all I could do was muster a nod and add a not-very- enthusiastic “Yeah.”
“Do you have an interest in rowing?” asked the man in the tweed cap and brown trench coat who was accompanying us. He looked like an ad for London Fog. Either that or a Sherlock Holmes impersonator. Or a bigwig British academic. And, of course, I knew that last one was right on.
“Cam, Dr. Holt asked you something.” Mom nudged me.
“Oh. Yes. Sure. Rowing looks . . . fun.”
“Do you row at your school now?”
He sounded interested. He looked interested. But I’ve been trained to hear what people don’t say—to see the things that are better kept hidden—so I knew that Dr. Holt was simply trying his best to be nice.
“No. We do . . . other things,” I told him, and reminded myself that it wasn’t a lie. I didn’t, however, feel the need to add that by other things I meant learning how to kill a man with uncooked spaghetti and disarm nuclear bombs with Tootsie Rolls. (Not that I’d done either of those things yet. But I still had one semester left at the Gallagher Academy.)
“Well”—he pushed his horn-rimmed glasses up on his nose—“Cambridge is a very well-rounded university. Whatever activities you enjoy, I’m sure we have them here.”
Oh, I highly doubt it, I thought, just as my mom said, “Oh, I’m sure you do.”
Dr. Holt turned up a path, and my mother and I followed. The long lawns were green, even in winter. But the sky over- head was gray, threatening rain. I shivered inside my down jacket. I wasn’t as thin as I had been at the start of my senior year, but I was still a little underweight. Despite the fact that Grandma Morgan had spent the better part of Christmas break force-feeding me various things covered with gravy, my coat felt too big. My shoulders felt too small. And I remembered with a pang what had happened to me the previous summer—that even Gallagher Girls aren’t always as strong as they need to be.
“Cammie?” Dr. Holt asked, pulling me back to the moment. “I said, what other schools are you—”
“Oxford, Yale, Cornell, and Stanford,” I said, rattling off the universities that Liz had put on my hypothetical short list, answering the question I’d only half heard.
“Those are all excellent schools. I’m sure that if your test scores are any indication, you will have your pick.”
He patted my back, and I tried to see what he was seeing. An average-looking, average-sounding American teenage girl. My hair was in a ponytail, and my shoes were scuffed. I had a zit coming in like gangbusters on my chin and a couple of scars at my hairline, which had forced a recent experiment with bangs that hadn’t turned out so well.
There was absolutely no way for Dr. Holt to know what I’d done over my summer vacation; but there are some scars that even bangs can’t cover, and they were still there. I could feel them. And I couldn’t tell Dr. Holt the truth—that I was a perfectly normal senior at the world’s foremost school for spies.
“And this, Cammie, is Crawley Hall. What do you think of it?”
I turned to study the big stone building. It was beautiful. Old. Regal. But I’d been living in an old, regal building since I was twelve, so I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm Dr. Holt was probably hoping for.
“Our economics department is world renowned. Do I understand correctly that you are interested in economics?”
I shrugged. “Sure.”
“Can we go in?” Mom asked. “Take a look around?”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Dr. Holt pushed his glasses up again. “The university is closed for our winter break. I’m afraid we’re already making something of an exception.”
My mother reached out and touched him gently on the arm. “And I am so grateful to you for working us in like this. As you know, we’re only in the UK for a couple of days, and Cammie has so been looking forward to it.”
Dr. Holt looked at me. I tried and failed to mimic my mother’s smile as Dr. Holt walked on.
“And here we have the library. Some might say it’s the jewel in our campus crown,” Holt added. “We have the ﬁ nest collection of rare books in the world. First editions by Austen and Dickens—we even have a Gutenberg Bible.”
He puffed out his chest, but all I could say was “That’s nice.”
“Now, up this path you will ﬁnd—”
“Excuse me, Dr. Holt?” My mom cut him off. “Do you think it would be okay if Cammie looked around on her own? I know classes aren’t in session, but maybe that would help her to get a feel for the place.”
“Well, I . . .”
“Please?” my mother asked.
“Oh, of course. Of course.” Dr. Holt looked at me. “What do you say, Cammie? Meet us back at the quad in an hour or so?”
Something seemed so strange about that moment. For months, there had always been someone by my side. My mother. My roommates. My (and I don’t use this word lightly) boyfriend. Someone was always there, watching out for me. Or just watching me. It felt more than a little strange for my mother to nod her head and say, “It’s okay, kiddo. Go on. I’ll be here when you get back.”
So I stepped away, reminding myself that when you’re a spy, sometimes all you can do is go on. One foot in front of the other, wherever the narrow path might lead.
Before I turned the corner, I heard Dr. Holt say, “What a . . . charming girl.”
My mother sighed. “She’s had a hard year.”
But Mom didn’t try to explain. I mean, how do you tell someone, Oh yes, my daughter used to be a real sweetheart, but that was before all the torture? So she didn’t say a thing, which was just as well. Dr. Holt didn’t have the clearance to hear it anyway.
I walked by myself around the corner of the grand old building. There was an arbor covered with ivy. A statue of someone whose name I didn’t know. The air was moist and cool around me. I felt alone as I walked between two buildings and found myself staring down at the river again. Another single rower slid across the water, looking backward, moving forward. It seemed to go against all logic, but the man kept pushing on against the cur- rent, and I wondered how he made it appear so easy.
“Fancy seeing you here.”
The voice cut through my train of thought, but I didn’t startle; I turned.
“So did you get it?” my best friend, Bex, asked. Her British accent was even thicker in her native land, and her smile was especially mischievous when she crossed her long arms. The wind blew her black hair away from her face. She looked alive and eager, so I held up the key card I had slipped out of Dr. Holt’s pocket.
“Are you ready?” I asked.
She looped her arm through mine. “Cammie, my dear, I was born ready,” she said, and then she walked up to Crawley Hall and swiped.
When the light ﬂashed green she said, “Come on.”
Crawley Hall seemed empty as Bex and I closed its doors
behind us. Our footsteps echoed in the corridor. We passed
heavy wooden arches and stained glass windows. It felt more
like a museum than a school, and not for the first time in my life
I walked down the hallowed halls of education totally breaking
“So, what do you think, Cam? Are you a Cambridge girl?
Or do you fancy yourself as more Oxonian?”
“Oxonian?” I repeated.
“It’s a word. Now, answer the question.” Bex shrugged
and leaned against a door that was unlike the others we had
passed—not heavy wood, but steel. Security cameras were
trained on it, and it took Bex a second to finagle her way inside.
“Cambridge is nice. It could use better locks, though,”
“So, no Cambridge.” Bex nodded. “How about Yale? Or you could always join me at MI6. The two of us together, out
in the real world.”
“Bex,” I said, rolling my eyes. “We don’t have time for this.”
“What?” Bex asked. She put her hands on her hips and
squinted at me. “It’s winter break.”
“And we’re seniors.”
“I know,” I said again.
“So aren’t you . . . curious?”
“About life. Out there. Life!” she said again. “Tell me,
Cameron Ann Morgan, what do you want to be when you
We’d reached another door, and I stopped, looked up at the
camera that monitored the entrance, and whispered, “Alive.”
Thirty seconds later we were standing in the entrance hall of
the largest library I had ever seen. Old oak tables filled the center
of the room. Bookshelves thirty feet high stretched along
every wall. First editions of Thackeray and Forster sat behind
protective glass, and Bex and I walked alone through the empty
room like a pair of extremely literate thieves.
We climbed the stairs and started through a maze of shelves
and small alcoves perfect for studying.
“We should have brought Liz,” I said, thinking about how
our smallest, smartest, and . . . well . . . nerdiest roommate
would have loved it there; but when Bex came to an abrupt stop, I remembered why Liz wasn’t allowed on that particular
type of field trip.
I peered around Bex’s shoulder in time to see a shadow
move across the floor. The lights were off and the corridor was
still, yet a figure cut through the light that streamed through
the stained glass windows, like a puppet in a show that only we
were supposed to see.
I heard a door open and close, and slowly Bex and I eased
out onto the landing and padded softly down a narrow hallway
to where a door stood slightly ajar.
We paused for a moment, and Bex mouthed the words
But I didn’t answer. I’d come too far—I wanted this too
much. So I didn’t hesitate. I just pushed open the door and
walked into the room, my pulse quick and my hands steady,
ready for whatever I might find.
“Stop!” the man cried. “Who are you? What are you doing
here? I’m calling security.” He spoke rapid-fire, barely breathing
in between demands, certainly not giving us enough time
“Put your hands up. Up! Put them up,” he shouted, even
though he didn’t hold a weapon. His hair was overgrown and
gray. He wore a dirty, wrinkled suit and looked like he hadn’t
showered in days.
“Mr. Knight?” Bex asked. She inched closer. “Sir Walter
“This area is restricted,” he shouted again. “The campus is
closed. You aren’t supposed to be here.”
“I’m not supposed to be a lot of things,” I said. “My name is
Cammie Morgan.” As soon as I said the words, a shadow crossed
his face. It was like he was staring at a ghost.
He was staring at me.
I wasn’t supposed to be alive. But I was.
“You don’t have any bodyguards, I see,” Bex said, looking
around the room. It was an office, not very big—just large
enough for an old desk, a chair, and a short leather sofa that
rested beneath the only window. There were a rumpled pillow
and blanket, and the trash can overflowed with take-out containers
and week-old newspapers.
“I guess that makes sense,” Bex added. “You’re not sure who
you can trust, are you?”
“I know the feeling,” I said. When I noticed that he was
shaking, I added, “Don’t worry. You don’t have to be afraid of us.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that.” Bex laughed. “He could be
a little afraid.”
Bex sidled closer, and Walter Knight backed away until he
was pressed into his desk and couldn’t move any more.
When Bex spoke again, her voice was so low it was almost
a whisper. “Elias Crane the sixth is dead, Sir Walter. You probably
heard about his car accident.” Bex made little quote marks
above her head, emphasizing the word. “Oh, I bet that drove
you crazy, wondering if it really was an accident. I mean, it’s
possible he’d just had too much to drink when he drove his BMW off that cliff. But when Charlene Dubois went missing
while driving her kids to school . . .” Bex let the words draw
out. She made a tsk tsk tsk sound. “That you couldn’t chalk up
to coincidence. So you went on the run.” She threw her arms
out wide in the small space. “And you came here.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Sir Walter
shouted, but Bex just shook her head.
“Yes, you do. Why else would you be sleeping on the couch
in an office that’s supposed to be abandoned, instead of at your
London fl at? Or your French villa? Or even your Swiss chalet?
I have to say, this was a pretty smart decision. Squatting in
a library. Clever. I bet a lot of people don’t even know that
Cambridge sees it as a feather in their cap for a former British
prime minister to have an honorary office here. It’s nice. It took
us a while to track you down. But we did track you down, of
course. And we won’t be the only ones.”
“The first rule of running, Sir Walter,” I told him. “Never
go anyplace familiar.”
He was shaking his head and saying, “No. No. You have
the wrong man.”
“No, we don’t,” I told him. “You are Walter Knight, son
of Avery Knight, great-great-great grandson of Thomas Avery
McKnight. Tell me, did your great-grandfather change the family
name because it made it easier for an Irish boy to rise to power
in the British government at the turn of the century? Or was
it because of the Circle?”
“What is your point?”
“I saw your great-great-great grandfather’s name on a list once.” I put my hand in my pocket and felt the piece of paper
that I kept there, while the image fl ashed through my mind.
That list had been buried in my subconscious for years, but once
I’d remembered it, I hadn’t been able to forget it. The names
written there were going to haunt me until the descendants of
every last one of those men were collected and accounted for.
“It was a list of very angry—very powerful—men. Now their
descendants are very powerful people. And, as you know, Sir
Walter, somebody wants you dead.”
“Get out!” he snapped, and pointed toward the door. “Get
out now. Before I—”
“Before you what?” Bex grabbed him by the collar.
“You won’t be safe here,” I said, and watched the words
land, the realization sweeping him off his feet. He walked to
the window and sank onto the couch, pushing aside the pillow
“Does the CIA know you’re here?” Sir Walter asked. “Don’t
tell me they’re sending little girls to do their dirty work these
Sure, I should have felt insulted. After all, this man and
the goons who worked for him had been trying to kill me for
months. And failing. If anyone knew not to underestimate a
Gallagher Girl, it should have been this guy. But in my professional
opinion, guys almost always underestimate girls. And
honestly, we Gallagher Girls wouldn’t have it any other way.
His gaze shifted quickly from Bex to me. He looked between
us as if expecting one of us to teleport out of there and come
back with reinforcements.
“Your former . . . associate . . . Catherine Goode. She killed
Crane. You know that, right?” I asked, but he said nothing.
“And Charlene Dubois didn’t just go for a drive and forget to
“Charlene . . . is she dead?”
“Maybe. Probably. But you know Catherine better than we
do, so tell me—why do you think she is picking off the leaders
of the Circle of Cavan?”
“She’s crazy,” the man said with a scowl, and I knew from
experience he was right. “She hates us. She wants to control
things, and what she can’t control she destroys.”
I thought about Catherine Goode’s son. She hadn’t been
able to control him. Did that mean she was bound to someday
destroy him too?
“They’re coming for you, Sir Walter.” I shook my head.
“And they won’t be as nice as we are.”
“I’m not in the Circle of Cavan,” the man spat.
Bex shook her head slowly. “Wrong answer.”
“I’m not!” This time, he shouted. “I’m not a part of that
“It’s not the Boy Scouts,” I told him. “They don’t let you
“I’m finished. And . . . and . . . this is your fault.” He pointed
in my direction. “You should have had the decency to die when
we needed you to.”
“Sorry,” I admitted. “I’ve been going through a bit of a
rebellious streak. I swear it’s almost over.”
“So you’re here to kidnap me?” he asked.
“You say kidnap. We say hold in a secure facility until it’s safe
to turn you over to the proper authorities,” Bex replied with a grin.
“But to each his own.”
“If we found you, Sir Walter, then it’s just a matter of time
before Catherine does too,” I told him. “Now, come on. Let us
keep you safe.”
I reached for his arm, but he jerked away.
“No place is safe. You don’t understand. Look at you. How
could you understand? You’re children. If you knew what the
others want to do . . . what the Inner Circle is planning . . . I
never wanted this.”
“Why?” Bex asked. “What are they planning?”
Knight shook his head. His lips actually quivered when he
told us, “You don’t want to know.”
He’d seemed afraid when he first saw us, when he spoke
about Catherine and the people she had killed. But in that
moment, his fear turned to terror. He rocked back and forth,
saying, “You can’t stop it. No one can stop it. It’s—”
“What are you talking about?” Bex shouted, gripping him
by the shoulders, holding him still. “Tell us what you’re talking
about, and we’ll stop it—whatever it is.”
“You fools.” He laughed. “It’s already begun.”
Bex looked at me. We’d come there with one simple mission:
to find Thomas McKnight’s descendant and take him
into custody. We hadn’t been counting on this. If the leaders
of the Circle—the Inner Circle, as Knight had called them—
were planning something, then that could very well change
There was a new urgency in her voice when Bex said,
“Look, we’re asking nicely. When Catherine comes—she won’t
ask at all. So come with us now. Please.”
The man snarled, “Or what?”
Irony is a funny thing. Maybe the room was bugged and
someone heard the cocky, condescending tone of his voice. Or
maybe it was just fate that made the sniper pick that moment
to fire. But I guess we’ll never know.
Suddenly, glass shattered, showering the room in glistening
falling shards. Bex and I dove behind the desk just as the
rifle fired again. I heard the hiss of the bullet, saw the dark spot
that grew on Sir Walter’s chest, and watched him fall hard onto
He was still upright, though, as I scrambled toward him.
“Sir Walter!” I yelled. He was one of the people who had
sent a hit man on my trail, wished me and the list inside my
head out of existence. But I didn’t feel any peace. Whatever
ghosts had followed me to that room, they wouldn’t be satisfied
just to watch him die.
“Sir Walter!” I yelled again. A drop of blood ran from his
lips. As the life drained out of him, he toppled over onto the
floor, never to defy us—or anyone—again.
“Cam!” I heard Bex call my name. She had a death grip on
my arm and was dragging me to my feet. But I couldn’t move. I
was frozen, staring through the shattered window at the woman
who stood atop the building across the lawn, picking up a grenade
launcher and pointing it in our direction.
“Catherine,” I said.
And then my boyfriend’s mother took aim at our window
again. And fired.
Glass crunched beneath my feet.
Blood ran into my eyes.
The grenade must have struck a gas line, because smoke
swirled all around me and I could feel the heat of the explosion
at my back. But Bex’s hand was still in mine, and the two of us
stayed low, crouching beneath the black air, running down the
hall, away from the body and the flames.
When we reached the end of the hall, I looked out the
window and saw Zach’s mother running across the lawn. She
must have sensed me there, because she stopped and turned,
raised her hand and waved, almost like she’d been expecting
me, hoping to see me.
And then she was running again, and I knew I had to find
her, make her pay—that as long as she was out there, a part of
me would never, ever heal.
“Cam!” Bex yelled as sirens started to sound.
Classes might not have been in session, but it was still one
of the most prestigious places in all of England. There were
smoke detectors and glass-break detectors, and someone was
going to come looking for whoever had done this thing, and
we needed to be far away when they did.
“Cam, come on!”
“She’s here!” I yelled, trying to break free.
Bex held tightly to my hand—didn’t let me go. “She’s gone.”