And then, at last, the voice said, “Just up this ridge and you’ll find the road.”In a dreamlike state, Gillian climbed the ridge.And there it was. The road. In the last lightbefore darkness, Gillian could see it meandering down a hill.But it was still almost a mile to her house, and she couldn’t go any farther.”You don’t have to,” the voice said gently.”Look up the road.”Gillian saw headlights.”Now just get in the middle of the road and wave.”Gillian stumbled out and waved like a mechanical doll. The headlights were coming, blinding her. Then she realized that they were slowing.”We did it,” she gasped, dimly aware that she was speaking out loud. “They’re stopping!””Of course they’re stopping. You did a great job. You’ll be all right now.”There was no mistaking the note of finality.The car was stopped now. The driver’s side door was opening. Gillian could see adark figure beyond the glare of the headlights. But in that instant what she felt was distress.”Wait, don’t leave me. I don’t even know who you are-“For a brief moment, she was once again enfolded by love and understanding.”Just call me Angel.”Then the voice was gone, and all Gillian could feel was anguish.”What are you doing out-Hey, are you okay?” The new voice broke through Gillian’s emptiness. She had been standing rigidly in the headlights; now she blinked and tried to focus on the figure coming toward her.”God, of course you’re not okay. Look at you. You’re Gillian, aren’t you? You live on my street.”It was David Blackburn.The knowledge surged through her like a shock, and it drove all the strange hallucinations she’d been having out of her mind.It really was David, as close as he’d ever been to her.Dark hair. A lean face that still had traces of a summer tan. Cheekbones to die for and eyes to drown in.A certain elegance of carriage. And that half-friendly, half-quizzical smile…Except that he wasn’t smiling now. He looked shocked and worried.Gillian couldn’t get a single word out. She just stared at him from under the icy curtain of her hair.”What hap-No, never mind. We’ve got to get you warm.”At school he was thought of as a tough guy, an independent rebel. But, now, without any hesitation, the tough guy scooped her up in his arms.Confusion flashed through Gillian, then embarrassment-but underneath it all was something much stronger. An odd bedrock sense of safety. David was warm and solid and she knew instinctively that she could trust him. She could stop fighting now and relax.”Put this on … watch your head… here, usethis for your hair.” David was somehow getting everything done at once without hurrying. Capable and kind. Gillian found herself inside the car, wrapped in his sheepskin jacket, with an old towel around her shoulders. Heat blasted from the vents as David gunned the engine.It was wonderful to be able to rest withoutbeing afraid it would kill her. Bliss not to be surrounded by cold, even if the hot air didn’t seem to warm her. The worn beige interior of the Mustang seemed like paradise.And David-well, no, he didn’t look like an angel. More like a knight, especially the kind who went out in disguise and rescued people.Gillian was beginning to feel very fuzzy.”I thought I’d take a dip,” she said, between chattering teeth. She was shivering again.”What?””You asked what happened. I was a little hot, so I jumped in the creek.”He laughed out loud. “Huh. You’re brave.” Then he glanced at her sideways with keen eyes and added, “What really happened?”He thinks I’m brave! A glow better than theheated air enveloped Gillian.”I slipped,” she said. “I went into the woods, and when I got to the creek-” Suddenly, she remembered why she’d gone into the woods. She’d forgotten it since the fall had put her own life in danger, but now she seemed to hear that faint, pathetic cry all over again.”Oh, my God,” she said, struggling to sit upright. “Stop the car.”Chapter 4He went on driving. He didn’t even pause.”We’re almost home.”They were nearing the turn ontoMeadowcroft Road . Gillian tried to grab for one of the brown hands on the steering wheel, and then looked at her own hand, perplexed. Her fingers felt like blocks of wood.”You have to stop,” she said, settling for volume. “There’s a kid lost in those woods. That’s why I went in; I heard this sound like crying. It was coming from somewhere right near the creek. We’ve got to go back there. Come on, stop!””Hey, hey, calm down,” he said. “You knowwhat I bet you heard? A long-eared owl. They roost around here, and they make this noise like a moan, oo-oo-oo.”Gillian didn’t think so. “I was walking home from school. It wasn’t dark enough for an owl to be out.””Okay, a mourning dove. Goes oh-ah, whoo, whoo. Or a cat; they can sound like kids sometimes.Look,” he added almost savagely, as she opened her mouth again, “when we get you home, we can call the Houghton police, and they can check things out. ButI am not letting a lit-a girl freeze just because she’s got more guts than smarts.”For a moment, Gillian had an intense longing to let him continue to believe she had either guts or smarts.But she said, “It’s not that. It’s just- I’ve already been through so much to try to find that kid. I almost died-I think I did die.I mean- well, I didn’t die, but I got pretty cold, and-and things happened, and I realized how important life is…” She floundered to a shivering stop. What was she saying? Now he was going to think she was a nut case. And anyway all that stuff must have been a dream. She couldn’t make it seem real while sitting in a Mustang with her head wrapped in a towel.