Gillian felt triumph, wild excitement-and something deeper. An emotion she couldn't describe because
there weren't any ordinary words for it. David was looking at her, and it was almost as if she could see
through his dark eyes. As if she could see inside him... see the way things looked to him...
What she felt was a little like discovery and a little like deja vu and a little like waking up and suddenly
realizing it's Christmas. Or like being a kid lost in a strange place, cold and bewildered, and then
suddenly hearing your mother's voice. But it really wasn't like any of those things; it was more.
Unexpected welcome... strange recognition... the shock of belonging...
She couldn't quite put it all together, because
there was nothing like it in her experience. She'd never heard of anything like this. But she had the feeling
that when David kissed her, she'd figure it all out and it would be the revelation of her life.
It was going to happen-now. He was moving clser to her, not fast, but as if slowly compelled by
something he couldn't control. Gillian had to look down, but she didn't move back or turn her face away.
He was close enough now that she could hear his breath and feel him. Her eyes shut of their own accord.
She waited to feel the touch of warmth on her lips...
And then something in her mind stirred. A tiny whisper, so far back that she could barely hear it, and she
couldn't tell where it came from.
The shock went through Gillian like ice on bare skin. Part of her tried to ignore it, but she was already
pulling away, putting a hand up, turning to stare at the window.
Not out the window. It was too steamed up now to see anything outside. They were in their own
cocoon of whiteness.
Gillian said, "I can't. I mean, not like this. I mean-it isn't fair, because you already-and you haven't ... I
"I know." David sounded as if he'd been hit with ice on bare skin, or as if he'd come up from deep water
and was looking around dazedly. "I mean, you're right. I don't know what I was...
It just-it was like I forgot... Look, I'm sure that sounds stupid. You don't believe me."
"I do believe you." At least he sounded as incoherent as she did. He wouldn't think she was a total fool;
her facade wasn't broken.
"I'm not that kind of guy. I mean, it looks like I am, right here, it looks exactly like I am. But I'm not. I
mean I never-I'm not like Bruce Faber. I don't do that. I made a promise to Tanya and ..."
Oh, God, Gillian thought. And then a sort of inward scream: (Help!)
(I was wondering when you'd remember me.)
(He made her a promise!)
(I'm sure he did. They've been going together a while.)
(But that's terrible!)
(No, it's admirable. What a guy. Now say you've got to get to school.)
(I can't. I can't think. How are we going to-)
Dully, Gillian said, "I guess we'd better get moving."
"Yeah." There was a pause, and then David put the car in gear.
They drove in silence, and Gillian sank deeper and deeper into depression. She'd thought it would be so
easy-just show David her new self and everything would fall into place. But it wasn't like that. He couldn't
just dump Tanya.
(Don't worry about it, kid. I have a cunning plan.)
(I'll tell you when it's time.)
(Angel-are you mad at me? Because I forgot about you?)
(Of course not. I'm here to arrange things so you can forget me.)
(Then-because I forgot about Tanya for a while? I don't want to do anything that's wrong...)
(I'm not mad! Heads up. You're there.)
Gillian couldn't push away the feeling that he was mad, though. Or at least surprised. As if something
unexpected had happened.
But she didn't have time to dwell on it. She had to get out of David's car and gather herself and face the
"I guess-I'll see you later," David said as she reached for the door handle. His voice made it a question.
"Yeah. Later," Gillian said. She didn't have the energy for anything more. She glanced back- once-to see
him staring at the steering wheel.
She could see people staring at her as she walked to the school building. It was a new sensation and it
gave her a spasm of anxiety.
Were they laughing at her? Did she look silly, was she walking wrong somehow?
(Just breathe and walk.) Angel's voice sounded
amused. (Breathe-walk-head up-breathe...)
Gillian somehow got through halls and up stairs to her U.S. history class without meeting another
student's eyes once.
There, arriving just as the bell rang, she realized she had a problem. Her history textbook, along with all
her notes, was floating somewhere down toward West Virginia.
With relief, she caught Amy's eye and headed toward the back of the classroom.
"Can I share your book? My whole backpack went in the creek." She was a little afraid Amy might be
miffed or jealous at the way she'd run off with David, but Amy didn't seem to be either. She seemed
more-awed-as if Gillian were some force like a tornado that you might fear, but that you couldn't get mad
"Sure." Amy waited until Gillian had scooted her desk closer, then whispered, "How come it took you
so long to get to school? What were you and David doing?"
Gillian rummaged for a pen. "How do you know we weren't picking up Tanya?"
"Because Tanya was here at school looking for David."
Gillian's heart flip-flopped. She pretended to be very interested in history.
But she gradually noticed that some of the other students were looking at her. Especially the boys. It was
the sort of look she'd never imagined getting from a boy.
But these were all juniors, and none of them was in the really popular clique. All that would change in
Gillian's next class, biology. Half a dozen of the most popular kids would be there. David would be
Gillian felt, with a sudden chill, that she might not really care anymore. What did it matter what other
people thought of her if she couldn't have David? But she had a fundamental faith in Angel. Somehow
things had to work out-if she just stayed calm and played her part.
When the bell rang, she hurried away from Amy's questioning eyes and into the bathroom. She needed a
moment to herself.
(Do something to your lipstick. It seems to have gone away somehow.) Angel sounded as puzzled as
any human boy.
Gillian fixed the lipstick. She ran a comb through her hair. She was somewhat reassured by the sight of
herself in the mirror. The girl there wasn't Gillian at all, but a slender, insubstantial femme fatale sheathed
like a dagger in black. The girl's hair was silky, the palest of all possible golds. Her violet eyes were
subtly shadowed so they looked mysterious, haunting. Her mouth was soft, red, and full: perfect, like the
mouth of a model in a lipstick commercial. Against the stark black of her clothing, her skin had the slightly
translucent look of apple blossoms.
She's beautiful, Gillian thought. And then to Angel: (I mean, I am. But I need ... a Look, don't you think?
An expression for when people are
staring at me. Like, am I Bored or Slightly Amused or Aloof or Completely Oblivious or what?)
(How about Thoughtful? As if you've got your own inner world to pay attention to. It's true, you know.
Gillian was pleased. Thoughtful, absorbed in herself, listening to the music of the spheres-or the music of
Angel's voice. She could do that. She settled the canvas bag on her shoulder and started toward her
(Uh, where are you going?) (To get my biology book. I still have that.) (No, you don't.)
Gillian maintained her Thoughtful expression, while noting that heads turned as she walked down the hall.
(Yes, I do.)
(No, you don't. Due to circumstances entirely beyond your control, you lost your biology book and all
your notes. You need to sit with somebody else and share his.)
Gillian blinked. (I-oh. Oh, yeah, you're right. I lost my biology book.)
The door of the biology lab loomed like the gate to hell, and Gillian had trouble keeping Thoughtful
pinned to her face. But she managed to walk through it and into the quiet buzz that was a class before a
bell was about to ring.
(Okay, kid. Go up front and tell Mr. Wizard you need a new book. He'll take care of the rest.)
Gillian did as Angel said. As she stood beside Mr. Leveret and told her story she sensed a new
quietness in the classroom behind her. She didn't look back and she didn't raise her voice. By the time
she was done, Mr. Leveret's pouchy, pleasantly ugly face had gone from a startled "Who are you?"
expression (he had to look in the class register to make sure of her name) to one of pained sympathy.
"I've got an extra textbook," he said. "And some outlines of my lectures on transparencies. But as for
He turned to the class at large. "Okay, people. Jill-uh, Gillian-needs a little help. She needs somebody
who's willing to share their notes, maybe xerox them-"
Before he could finish his sentence, hands went up all over the room.
Somehow that brought everything into focus for Gillian. She was standing in front of a classroom with
everyone staring at her-that in itself would have been enough to terrify her in the old days. And sitting
there in front was David, wearing an unreadable expression, and Tanya, looking rigidly shocked. And
other people who'd never looked directly at her before, and who were now waving their hands
She recognized Bruce Faber, who she'd always thought of as Bruce the Athlete, with his tawny hair and
his blue-gray eyes and his tall football build. Normally he looked as if he were acknowledging the
applause of a crowd. Just now he
looked as if he were graciously extending an invitation to Gillian.
And Macon Kingsley, who she called Macon the Wallet because he was so rich. His hair was brown
and styled, his eyes hooded, and there was something cruel to the sensual droop of his mouth. But he
wore a Rolex and had a new sports car and right now he was looking at Gillian as if he'd pay a lot of
money for her.
And Cory Zablinski-who was Cory the Party Guy because he constantly seemed to be arranging, going
to, or just recovering from parties. Cory was wiry and hyper, with foxy brown hair and darting
fox-colored eyes. He had more personality than looks, but he was always in the middle of things, and at
this moment he was waving madly at Gillian.
Even Amy's new boyfriend Eugene, who didn't have looks or personality in Gillian's opinion, was
wiggling his fingers eagerly.
David had his hand up, too, despite Tanya's cold expression. He looked polite and stubborn. Gillian
wondered if he'd told Tanya he was just trying to help a poor junior out.
(Pick... Macon.) The ghostly voice in Gillian's ear was thoughtful.
(Macon? I thought maybe Cory.) She couldn't pick David, of course, not with Tanya looking daggers at
her. And she felt uncomfortable about picking Bruce for the same reason-his girlfriend Amanda Spengler
was sitting right beside him.
Cory was friendly and, well, accessible. Macon, on the other hand, was vaguely creepy.
This time the voice in her head was patient. (Have I ever steered you wrong? Macon.)
(Cory's the one who always knows about parties...) But Gillian was already moving toward Macon.
The most important thing in life, she was discovering quickly, was to trust Angel absolutely.
"Thanks," she said softly to Macon as she perched on an empty stool behind him. She repeated after
Angel: "I'll bet you take good notes. You seem like a good observer."
Macon the Wallet barely inclined his head. She noticed that his hooded eyes were moss green, an
unusual, almost disturbing color.
But he was nice to her all period. He promised to have his father's secretary photocopy the thick sheaf
of biology notes in his spiral-bound notebook. He lent her a highlighter. And he kept looking at her as if
she were some interesting piece of art.
That wasn't all. Cory the Party Guy dropped a ball of paper on the lab table as he walked past to get rid
of his gum in the trash can. When Gillian unfolded it she found a Hershey's kiss and a questionnaire: R U
new? Do U like music? What's yr phone #? And Bruce the Athlete tried to catch her eye whenever she
glanced in his direction.
A warm and heady glow was starting somewhere inside Gillian.
But the most amazing part was yet to come. Mr. Leveret, pacing in the front, asked for somebody to
review the five kingdoms used to categorize living things.
(Raise your hand, kid.) (But I don't remember-) (Trust me.)
Gillian's hand went up. The warm feeling had changed to a sense of dread. She never answered
questions in class. She almost hoped Mr. Leveret wouldn't see her, but he spotted her right away and
(Now just say after me...) The soft voice in her head went on.
"Okay, the five classes would be, from most advanced to most primitive, Animalia, Plantae, Fungi,
Protista... and Eugene." Gillian ticked them off on her fingers and glanced sideways at Eugene as she
(But that's not nice. I mean-) She never got to what she meant. The entire class was roaring with
laughter. Even Mr. Leveret rolled his eyes at the ceiling and shook his head tolerantly.
They thought she was hysterical. Witty. One of those types who could break up a whole classroom.
(But Eugene-) (Look at him.) Eugene was blushing pink, ducking his head.
Grinning. He didn't look embarrassed or hurt; he actually looked pleased at the attention.
It's still wrong, a tiny voice that wasn't Angel's seemed to whisper. But it was drowned out by the
laughter and the rising warmth inside Gillian. She'd never felt so accepted, so included. She had the
feeling that now people would laugh whenever she said something even marginally funny. Because they
wanted to laugh; they wanted to be pleased by her-and to please her.
(Rule One, dragonfly. A beautiful girl can tease any guy and make him like it. No matter what the joke
is. Am I right or am I right?)
(Angel, you're always right.) She meant it with all her heart. She had never imagined that guardian angels
could be like this, but she was glad beyond words that they were and that she had one on her side.
At break the miracles continued. Instead of hurrying out the door as she normally did, she found herself
walking slowly and lingering in the hall. She couldn't help it, both Macon and Cory were in front of her,
talking to her.
"I can have the notes ready for you this weekend," Macon the Wallet was saying. "Maybe I should drop
them by your house." His heavy-lidded eyes seemed to bore into her and the sensual droop to his mouth
became more pronounced.
"No, I've got a better idea," Cory was saying, almost dancing around the two of them. "Mac, m'man,
don't you think it's about time you had
another party? I mean, it's been weeks, and you've got that big house... How about Saturday, and I'll
round up a keg and we can all get to know Jill better." He gestured expansively.
"Good idea," Bruce the Athlete said cheerfully from behind Gillian. "I'm free Saturday. What about
you-Jill?" He draped a casual arm around her shoulder.
"Ask me Friday," Gillian said with a smile, repeating the whispered words in her mind. She shrugged off
the arm on her own volition. Bruce belonged to Amanda.
A party for me, Gillian thought dazedly. All she'd wanted was to get invited to a party given by these
kids-she'd never imagined being the focus of one. She felt a stinging in her nose and eyes and a sort of
desperation in her stomach. Things were happening almost too fast.
Other people were gathering around curiously. Incredibly, she was at the center of a crowd and
everyone seemed to be either talking to her or about her.
"Hey, are you new?"
"That's Gillian Lennox. She's been here for years."
"I never saw her before."
"You just never noticed her before,"
"Hey, Jill, how come you lost your biology book?"
"Didn't you hear? She fell in a creek trying to save some kid. Almost drowned."
"I heard David Blackburn pulled her out and had to give her artificial respiration."
"1 heard they were parked on Hillcrest Road this morning."
It was intoxicating, exhilarating. And it wasn't just guys who were gathered around her. She would have
thought that the girls would be jealous, spiteful, that they'd glare at her or even all walk away from her in
one mass snub.
But there was Kimberlee Cherry, Kim the Gymnast, the bubbly, sparkly little dynamo with her
sun-blond curls and her baby-blue eyes. She was laughing and chattering. And there was Steffi Lockhart
the Singer, with her cafe au lait skin and her soulful amber eyes, waving an expressive hand and beaming.
Even Amanda the Cheerleader, Bruce Faber's girlfriend, was in the group. She was flashing her healthy,
wide smile and tossing her shiny brown hair, her fresh face glowing.
Gillian understood suddenly. The girls couldn't hate her, or couldn't show it if they did. Because Gillian
had status, the instant and unassailable status that came from being beautiful and having guys fall all over
themselves for her. She was a rising star, a force, a power to be reckoned with. And any girl who
snubbed her was risking a nick in her own popularity if Gillian should decide to retaliate. They were
afraid not to be nice to her.
It was dizzying, all right. Gillian felt as beautiful
as an angel and as dangerous as a serpent. She was riding on waves of energy and adulation.
But then she saw something that made her feel as if she had suddenly stepped off a cliff.
Tanya had David by the arm and they were walking away down the hall.