And then, despite the icy wind, my face felt hot. My hands were sweating inside my gloves while I pulled at the scarf around my neck, suddenly dizzy as I stood in my socks on the frozen ground, while the skaters kept circling around and around.
Mr. Baxter stood. "What is it, Cammie? What's wrong?"
I shook my head. "It's . . . nothing."
But something was coming over me - like déjà vu, only stronger. There was something in the crowd that I should know. Something I should see. I shook my head, and for a split second I thought I saw a tall graceful woman from the rooftop in Boston.
"No," I muttered.
I looked at Mrs. Baxter and her colleague with the backpack who had been following us all day. They each held cups of coffee in their right hands - the sign that our tail was clear, that things were fine. But things weren't fine. There was a ghost in that crowd -
something I should see. Something I should know.
"Cammie?" Mr. Baxter's hand was on my shoulder. "What is it?"
"I don't know." I shook my head. "It's just -"
Before I could finish, I heard a burst of static from the comms unit in Mr. Baxter's ear - a distant muffled cry. Across the ice, the woman with the backpack spun, as it looking for something - someone. The cup fell from her hand and tumbled toward the ice. And in that moment, my mind flashed back to D.C., and then further back, to Boston.
Get her. The words echoed in my mind.
And then the lights went out.
Even in the pitch blackness, I knew that commands were ringing in the ears of the agents at the rink. In an instant, Mr. Baxter grabbed me, pulling me away from the ice and closer to the shelter of the Tower's stone walls.
The ground was hard and cold against my feet, but there was no time to grab my boots -
not a second to do anything but run and listen to the cries that floated through the dark. I kept on hand against the rough stone wall and the other tightly in Mr. Baxter's grasp as we moved deeper into the crowd of panicking tourists - pushing through the chaos - until, suddenly, Mr. Baxter's hand pulled free of mine.
"Cammie!" he yelled, and I reached for him through the dark, but there were too many people.
"Cammie!" he called again, but before I could answer a pair of strong arms locked around my waist, and someone pinned me against the stone wall. I started to strike out, but the man countered as if he'd known exactly what I'd been trained to do. He squeezed my arms to my sides so tightly that I only had one choice: I pulled my head back and struck with all my might. I felt the blow land - heard the man wince. The something else - a familiar voice in my ear saying, "Cammie, calm down."
For a second I thought I must be wearing a comms unit - that my teacher's voice was coming back to me, telling how to save my own life.
And I heard him whisper, "Run."
"They're coming, aren't they?" my breath fogged in the cold air, and yet my arms kept pumping, my feet kept moving, and my teacher kept a solid grip on my hand, pulling me across the Tower's dim grounds toward a busy London street while I said the words I'd been dreading for weeks:
"The Circle . . . they're here."
"Ms. Morgan, we only have a minute until they find us, so you have to listen to me carefully," my teacher said, tightening his hold on my hand, urging me through the steady stream of traffic and onto Tower Bridge.
"Are you on comms? You have to tell the Baxters you have me. We have to call in an extraction team and -"
"Cammie, listen!" his order seemed to echo in the dark, and something about it made me stop there in the middle of the bridge. He sounded angry and frantic and scared.
Joe Solomon was scared.
He grabbed me by both shoulders. "Cammie, we only have a minute until they find us, and then they'll take you away -"
"No!" I shouted.
"Listen! Any day now they're going to take you back to school, and when you get there, you have to -"
When Bex's father appeared on the dark bank of the river, his voice was even and calm, but he wore the same expression that Bex does when she's focused and angry and when there's no force on earth that can stop her.
And yet Mr. Solomon didn't turn to look at him. He was still gripping my shoulders as if no assignment in my entire life had ever been more important than the one he was about to give. "Cammie, listen to me!"
"Come on, Joe," Mr. Baxter called across the bridge, easing forward like a man bracing for a fight. "Turn yourself in. Let the girl go."
I shook my head. Nothing made sense in that moment - not what Mr. Solomon was saying or the way Mr. Baxter was looking at us. Neither of them seemed to know what they were both on the same side - my side.
"It's okay, Mr. Baxter," I said, turning to Bex's father, thinking maybe he didn't recognize my teacher. "This is Mr. Solomon. Joe Solomon. He's -"
"I know who he is, Cammie."Bex's father inched closer. "And he's going to come with me now - fly to Langley and get this mess straightened out."
"Cammie!" Mr. Solomon shook me slightly. "Don't listen to him. Listen to me!"
But Bex's father kept talking. "Joe, you've got to let her go."
Bex's mother walked out of the shadows behind her husband. "Cammie, sweetheart, I want you to walk over to me now."
The bridge was cold and rough beneath my feet, but I didn't move. I scanned the shadowy banks of the river, looking for Bex, needing her to help me explain to her parents that they were making a terrible mistake. But all I saw were guards and operatives who were closing ranks around us, and in that moment I realized that no one was searching the crowd. Now a soul was looking for the Circle. Instead, the people who had sworn to protect me were staring as if that bridge were the most dangerous place in the world that I could be.