Identity Unknown

"Being back here made me see how much it can get to you; the training, all of the lessons, even just the environment we are in. We aren't the same as everyone else. And everyone else can never know.'

After six months of searching for her father, Charlotte Goode returns to the Gallagher Academy. Exams and eager friends await, but something is wrong. When a phone call changes everything, Zach can offer the answer - but someone will stop at nothing to keep him silent. And when a double agent is revealed, Charlotte must choose who to trust - but time is running out, and the Academy's greatest secrets are at risk.

The stakes are higher, but is she ready?

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5. Spy meets Spy

Number of hours left on the stopwatch: 16

Number of times I attempted to climb a tree to get a better view of my surroundings: 5

Number of times I fell out of a tree: 5 (I was in serious need of some extra P&E training)

Number of cute assets met: 1

Yeah, you read that right - cute assets. That's pretty much all I was certain of about Rick. Was he with Stevens and about to kill me any second? Was he a decoy, someone to shift my focus from the mission? Or was he just an innocent victim in all of this? I know I'm the spy, but I was stumped. I recalled the moment we met, searching for a clue about who he really was, but he was illusive, cryptic. A spy. 

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"What are you doing here?" he said. I spun round quickly. He was tall, not in an intimidating way, but he seemed to have authority. A tangle of dark hair scraped his neck and I felt the warmth of his emerald gaze. He was clad in slim trousers and a leather jacket. I tore my eyes away from his muscly arms and met his gaze coolly.

"Who are you?" I snapped with a little less etiquette than I had intended. After all, it wasn't his fault that I was in this mess.

"Does it matter?" he asked in a quizzical manner.

He was cryptic. Macey, boy expert, would tell me that this was sexy, but seeing as I had no experience in the boy department, I trusted my spy instincts, studying his height and memorising his face.

"What's that for?" I asked, pointing at the spiky scrap of metal clasped in his hand.

"It's a throw star."

"Yes, I know what it is, but why do you have it?" I replied, my fear and frustration growing.

"Target practice," he said, flicking the star deftly between his fingers. Then, without warning, he raised his arm in a swift movement and threw the star. I felt a sharp whip of air near my cheek as the metal soared past, piercing the trunk of an unsuspecting tree.

"You could have had my eye out!" I protested, glaring at him.

"Nah," the boy grinned, retrieving his weapon. "I knew what I was doing."

"Yeah, but sometimes everything doesn't go to plan," I replied. Something about him changed then. The slight flicker in his eyes and his careful stance suggested that there was an essence of brokenness about him.

"What's your name?" he asked, quickly changing the subject.

"Charlotte. But my friends call me Charlie."

"Riccardo." He bowed extravagantly and pulled a face. I grinned. "But everyone calls me Rick."

I pointed at the crest on his jacket. "You go to Blackthorne?"

"Yup," he said, popping the 'p'. He must have sensed my unease, because he added, "I guess you're familiar with our curriculum?" 

"Yeah," I said, allowing the sadness in my speech. I'd hoped he'd be different; naive even. But if he went to Blackthorne, his innocence would have long since gone - and I guess we're not so far behind. Being back at the Gallagher Academy  made me see how much it can get to you; the training, all of the lessons, even just the environment we are in. We aren't the same as everyone else. And everyone else can never know.

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