Praise for Alias:
“4 stars.”—USA Today
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
"Watch out!" a hoarse voice hollered.
When she heard the shout, Sydney Bristow had only just swung open the steel door of the dim concrete corridor and stepped into the sunlight. There was no time to assess the threat, its danger, or the direction it was coming from--only time for her honed instincts to kick in lightning-fast. Before her conscious mind could even make a decision, her hand simply snapped out and plucked the disk from the air just before it plowed a dangerous path right into her face.
"Hey," her best friend, Francie Calfo, crowed from behind her, quickly joining Sydney on the walkway in front of their dorm. It was fragrant with the rows of new blooms UCLA was always careful to plant at the beginning of every school year, when parents and donors were visiting. "Awesome catch!"
Grinning triumphantly at her roommate, Sydney flipped the Frisbee that had almost slammed into her neocortex over in her hands. Only two Greek letters decorated the back, but Sydney held the Frisbee up and squinted as if it contained loads of fascinating information. "Welcome back to UCLA, Sydney and Francie," she deadpanned, knowing that Francie, obsessed with her position in the campus popularity rankings, might fall for it.
Francie grabbed the errant Frisbee out of Sydney's hands. "It does not say that," she hooted, but her eyes flew open expectantly. When she saw that it was just another frat giveaway--the kind of logoed thingamabob that sororities and fraternities absolutely flooded the campus with during Rush Week--she gave Sydney a friendly shove and tossed the disk back.
"Coffee, roomie?" Francie asked.
Sydney looked around at the ragtag group of students scattered over the wide green lawn, throwing and drop-kicking a variety of plastic and rubber objects. It didn't look like anyone was going to come forward to claim the Frisbee--maybe, with the number of things whizzing around out there, its owner hadn't even noticed it was missing.
"Coffee," Sydney agreed, twisting around to stash the Frisbee in her half-open backpack.
Though she'd only arrived at the UCLA campus to officially kick off her sophomore year last month, Sydney felt like she'd never left. After a long night spent unpacking boxes, she and Francie had slept late--a rare luxury for Sydney--and spent the morning in the comfort of the fabulous new dorm suite they'd somehow snagged in the lottery. The dorm gods must have been looking out for them. The students who had originally won the suite had decided to study abroad at the last minute. The suite had opened up and--voila! They got it. And after an intense day of schlepping their stuff, they were in.
Nope, feels like I never left. And, as Francie keeps reminding me, I barely did, Sydney thought. Ha! If only she knew.
Though she'd now worked undercover as an agent for SD-6, a black-ops division of the CIA, for a year, Sydney still wasn't entirely used to the fact that reality and what she had to tell people sometimes had these pesky little differences.
As far as Francie knew, Sydney had spent her summer exactly the way she spent her off-time during the school year: working at her supposedly boring job at a local bank, Credit Dauphine. And since Francie had capped off her summer with a two-week vacation visiting her parents, Sydney had thrown in her own vacation at the end, too: a relaxing week of camping on the Oregon coast.
Right, Sydney thought, thinking back to what she'd actually been doing those last few weeks--and, in fact, the entire summer. Reeeeal relaxing.
Because, far from a boring summer spent filing for a local bank, Sydney's past four months--the entire past year, in fact--had been one of the most difficult, exhilarating, confusing, and exciting of her life.
First, there was the little matter of the SD-6 training camp at Niagara Falls. In addition to brushing up on her spy skills in the competitive but supportive company of a group of new SD agents, she'd also been charged with retrieving a bunch of documents an eccentric scientist had hidden in the area. Instead, though, she'd somehow found herself dangling over the Falls themselves, battling for her own life and that of a fellow agent, against Paul Riley, a dangerous mole from the Russian crime ring K-Directorate.
Sydney wondered if it had been her success with that mission that had given Sloane, her handler at SD-6, the idea to send her directly into the heart of K-Directorate on the following mission. She still didn't know if the two missions were related--only that, undercover in K-Directorate, she'd finally met and battled Anna Espinosa, the organization's ruthless cover girl.
And I'm going to get her someday, too, Sydney thought, remembering with irritation how Anna had--but only just!--escaped her junior-agent grasp.
After that mission, Sydney had expected at least a few weeks off. But the release of some sensitive intel had necessitated that she jet off to Europe, where she'd gone undercover as the assistant to a dangerous magician. Discovering the secret to a series of mysterious paintings while learning the sophisticated arts of magic had been a complicated task, and at more than one point, Sydney had come close to disappearing herself--permanently.
Then, as if that hadn't been enough activity for the season, Sydney had been sent to Australia--this time as a rich equestrienne, with fellow agent (and quasi-boyfriend) Noah Hicks on board as her lowly servant. The stress of keeping up that charade through the mission--on top of the confusing, tumultuous, passionate feelings Noah had always evoked in Sydney--had nearly brought their still-young romance to the breaking point.
It's not that I don't love working for the CIA, Sydney thought, mulling over the enormity of what she'd accomplished in the few short months when most undergraduates were simply working minor day jobs or hanging out at the beach. They just have no concept of downtime.
"Well, at least it wasn't Alpha Kappa Chi," Francie was saying, dropping the name of the sorority she and Sydney had both rushed--then abruptly dropped--during their Freshman year.
Sydney murmured her agreement before she realized she had no idea what Francie was talking about; she'd been daydreaming about her summer almost the entire way to the coffee shop. "Wait--at least what wasn't Alpha Kappa Chi?" Sydney asked.
Francie leaned over and plucked the Frisbee from where it stuck out of Sydney's bag. "This, doofus!" she said, gesturing to the Greek lettering emblazoned across the back. "I mean, then I might have worried it was actually personal!"
Sydney gave the lettering a closer look. Though it just so happened she'd recently brushed up on her Greek (for SD-6 agents, mastering five or six languages was the bare minimum), she would have recognized the letters sigma chi anywhere. Those same letters--each one five feet high--were pasted above the doors of a huge wedding cake of a house on frat row, a house particularly notorious for its rollicking, all-night blowouts.