Spies must tell lies

'For years I'd been trying to piece together some form of family, and now I had a second chance. I wouldn't let it slip through my fingers.'

Charlotte Goode is fifteen.She speaks eighteen languages and knows how to fight. But she wants to know what really happened the night when her parents fought, and only one of them came out alive.

Spies must tell lies, but she is determined to find the truth.

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19. New York

 

“Charlie,” said Zach, shaking my shoulders. My eyes shot open. I took in the cushy seats, the smell of old cigarettes, and the sight of the Empire State building, aglow in the darkness. Wait – darkness? I checked the clock on the dashboard. It was past midnight. I rubbed my eyes and tried to forget the dream. Was it a dream?

“She was here,” I said, my words echoing.

“No,” said Zach. “You were asleep for most of the way. No-one knows we’re here.

“Where‘s here?” I asked, but something outside of the window caught my attention. The park was empty, a swing swaying silently in the wind. But I remembered it; the painted metal, the creak of the gate, the hurried footsteps and chatter of children. Zach and I had been here hundreds of times. We were minutes away from the house we grew up in. The house my father was killed in.

“Do you recognise it now?” Zach whispered. He drummed his fingers against the wheel, maintaining a pulse, but I could see it in his eyes that he was shaken up and desperate to hide it.

“Is this your car?” I asked, attempting to change the subject. But he wasn’t having it.

“Why don’t you ask?” he said, his eyes burning into mine. “Don’t you want to know?”

“Know what?” I asked. 

"I'm so sorry," he said. His voice was so sincere, and I was scared. 

"Zach-" I started, but he had already climbed out of the car. I reached across to open my door, to follow him, to ask what was wrong. But my door was locked. I pulled harder, but it wouldn't give. I stared in despair out of the window, at the figure of my brother disappearing into the night. I blinked harder, rubbing my eyes. That almost looked like-

"Hello Charlotte," she said. I spun round to the sight of my mother sitting in the driver's seat, smiling at me, her white teeth shining. I felt sick. I crashed my fists against the window.

"ZACH!" I screamed, struggling. She tried to grab my arm. I lashed out, but not before her skin touched mine. I felt sick.

"Zach's fine, and if you want him to stay that way you'd better sit still and shut up," she whispered, her face so close to mine. Her breath ruffled my hair and I could smell the perfume, a toxic scent that choked me.

"What do you want?" I whispered. She didn't answer. Instead, she turned the key in the ignition and started the car. "We're going for a drive," she said, beaming.

"I'm not going anywhere with you!" I yelled, grabbing the key and balling it up in my fist. She sighed. She reached into her pocket. I expected a weapon, but she held up a necklace. The chain was silver, simple but beautiful. A single stone hung from the centre, a dazzling shade of green. I had seen it before, in England...

"No," I gasped, my breath catching in my throat. 

"Give me the key," she said, swinging the necklace back and forth between her fingers. It wasn't hers, nor mine. I had last seen it in a restaurant. It was the day I first met James Mosckowitz, and it was the day I had complimented the necklace that Abigail Cameron was wearing.

"She won't be needing it anymore," she said, reading my mind. I let a tear slide down my cheek. 

"Ah, darling," said my mother, wiping the tear from my cheek with her fingers. Then she grabbed my jaw and twisted it my face so my eyes locked with hers.

"Give me the key," she said, her blue eyes piercing. I couldn't breathe. I loosened my fist and let the key clatter to the floor.

"Good girl," she said, and then she held the necklace closer. "You can keep this now. It'll match your eyes," she said, smiling. I jolted my head away. She tutted under her breath, started the engine.

I wanted to know where we were going. I wanted to know why Zach had gone. I looked out of the window, the moon glinting in the sky, and wondered if this was the last night I would know. 

I caught my mother's reflection in the dashboard. Sharp cheekbones, lips painted red, blue eyes burning. I swallowed hard and pressed my face against the window, letting my eyes close against the lights in the dark.

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