An Introduction to Candace Victoria Ryder

"I'm sorry. Did you say you forged my signature? Candace, how many times did you do this?" Dad was mad, and he had a right to be. I never should have done that.

"I only did this for the fieldtrips I really wanted to go on," I replied hoping I could use that as an answer.

"That doesn't answer the question," Mom stated as she stood in front of me. I wasn't going anywhere.

"Well, what do you want me to say? That it was the first time?"

"I'd like that to be the answer, yes, but that's not likely to happen. How many times?" he was annoyed that I had even tried to forged his signature in the first place.

"Fifteen," I made up a number. I really forged his name about forty times, I think.

"Really? Then why does this note say fifty?"


9. Finally Home, Or So I Thought

October 25, 2008

I don't know what happened over the last four days. All I knew was that I woke up in a hospital bed.

The cover story of me being gone for two years fir right in when I arrived in the OR.

The CIA had instructed everyone in my family, except David, to say that I had been kidnapped.

The bullet hole was just a bonus.

Agents Thompson and Hal stopped by to see how I was doing.

"We didn't catch him, but we made a promise to you. You are officially a member of the CIA," Agent Hal said handing a badge to me and placing a hand on my shoulder.

"In fact, the head of CIA liked your work so much that he has decided to make you the head of the White Collar Division," Agent Thompson chimed in.

"You'll have to shadow the person you'll be replacing, for a couple years. It's not necessary for you, specifically, but it is required for a recruit your age," Thompson finished before congratulating me for such an early promotion.

As far as Mr. Wilson goes, he had retired while I was under cover. He was David's bodyguard during the time I was gone. Lord knows, David needed one.

He came by every other day to visit me.

I couldn't go home until the doctor said so because I had a collapsed lung. My job was so stressful to begin with. How was I supposed to keep my lung from collapsing again?

I had thought about continuing to work in the field and chose to stay on the sidelines. I had closed more cases that way than I was able to in the field, even if it was only one case. It also helped that I was good at hacking.

It was nice to be home. I got to meet my little sister, Samantha Louise Ryder, for the first time. She was a year and a half.

My parents had told me all about her. She was reaching the terrible two's stage, but she was better than most kids her age.

Working with Justin was the most fun I had had in years. Coming home and having to lie to my friends wasn't as fun as I thought it would be.

The "fight" I had the night I was shot caused enough bruising to make the lies that much more convincing.

I was living a lie ever since I was recruited. My family knew about the mission, but I couldn't tell them what I had done. I wasn't allowed to. I had to lie to my family and say that all I did while I was gone was push papers around a desk. That wasn't such a lie after I got shot.

The only friends I had when I got back were Trevor, who was now my boyfriend as well as Liam's cousin, and Alexis, Jayden's older twin.

Liam, Jayden, Markus, and Lucas all moved to California so they could make a band. I didn't see them for three years. The last time they were in Minnesota was for a concert last year. I didn't go because I was under cover during that time.

Jayden was closer to me than anyone. I could talk to him about anything, except my job, and now I couldn't talk to him at all because of it.

None of my friends ever found out about my line of work. Everyone just thought I sat around doing nothing.

I worked from home, using an untracible computer and satellite phone to track people down. I could find anything.

The CIA had used me as an assassin while I was working with Justin, so I wasn't afraid to use a gun, or a knife. I was at first, but it got easier with each kill. I never harmed anyone in my own family, though, and no one expected me to.

I killed very dangerous men and women who were not just considered to be a national threat. They actually were threats to the nation. I never killed an innocent human being, and I always made sure of it.

I couldn't tell anyone what I was capable of. If I ever got attacked in the street as Candace, I'd have to let the mugger beat me. No one outside of my work could know that I was behind all of the crimes and the assassinations of very dangerous people.

I put the life of an assassin behind me when I woke up in the hospital. That side of me was bottled up for the rest of my life, at least until I went to live with my trainer, Nicholas Hunter, as a witness in the witness protection program.

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