But David flashed her a glance of startled recognition.”You almost died?” He looked back at the road, turning the car ontoHazel Street , where they both lived. “That happened to me once. When I was little, I had to have this operation-“He broke off as the Mustang skidded on some ice. In a moment he was in control again and turning into Gillian’s driveway.It happened to you, too?David parked and was out of the car before Gillian could gather herself to speak.Then he was opening her door, reaching for her.”Gotta get all this ridiculous stuff out of the way,” he said, pushing her hair back as if it were a curtain of cobwebs. Something about the way he said it made Gillian think he liked her hair.She peered up at him through a gap in thecurtain. His eyes were dark brown and normally looked almost hawkish, but just now, as their gazes met, they changed. They looked startled and wondering. As if he saw something in her eyes that surprised him and struck a chord.Gillian felt a flutter of wonder herself. I don’t think he’s really tough at all, she thought, as something like a spark seemed to flash between them. He’s not so different from me; he’s-She was wracked by a sudden bout of shivers.David blinked and shook his head. “We’ve got to get you inside,” he muttered.And then, still shivering, she was in the air. Bobbing, being carried up the path to her house.”You shouldn’t be walking to school in thewinter,” David said. “I’ll drive you from nowon.”Gillian was struck speechless. On the one hand, she should probably tell him she didn’t walk every day.On the other hand, who was she kidding?Just the thought of him giving her a ride was enough to make her heart beat wildly.Between that and the novel feeling of being carried, it wasn’t until he was opening the front door that Gillian remembered her mother.Then she panicked.Oh, God, I can’t let David see her-but maybe it’ll be all right.If there was a smell of food cooking, that meant it was okay. If not, it was one of Mom’s bad days.There was no smell of food as David stepped into the dim hallway. And no signof life-all the downstairs lights were off. The house was cold and echoing and Gillian knew she had to get David out.But how? He was carrying her farther in, asking, “Your parents aren’t home?””I guess not. Dad doesn’t get home until seven most nights.” It wasn’t exactly a lie. Gillian just prayed her mom would stay put in the bedroom until David left.”I’ll be okay now,” she said hastily, not even caring if she sounded rude or ungrateful. Anything to make him go. “I can take care of myself, and- and I’m okay.””The he … eck you are,” David said. It was the longest drawn out ‘heck’ Gillian had ever heard.He doesn’t want to swear around me. That’s cute.”You need to get thawed out, fast. Where’sa bathtub?”Gillian automatically lifted a stiff arm to point down the side hall, then dropped it.”Now, wait a minute-“He was already there. He put her on her feet, then disappeared into the bathroom to turn on the water.Gillian cast an anguished glance upstairs.Just stay put, Mom. Stay asleep.”You’ve got to get in there and stay for at least twenty minutes,” David said, reappearing. “Then we can see if you needto go to the hospital at Houghton.”That made Gillian remember something.”The police-“”Yeah, right, I’ll call them. As soon as you’re in the tub.” He reached out and plucked at her dripping, ice-crusted sweater. “Can you get this off okay? Do your fingers work?””Urn…” Her fingers didn’t work; they were still blocks of wood. Frost-nipped at least, she thought, peering at them. But there was no way he was going to undress her, and there was also no way she was going to call her mother. “Urn…””Uh, turn around,” David said. He pulled at her sweater again. “Okay, I’ve got my eyes shut. Now-“”No,” Gillian said, holding her elbows firmly against her sides.They stood, confused and indecisive, untilthey were saved by an interruption, a voice from the main hallway.”What are you doing to her?” the voice said.Gillian turned and looked around David. It was Tanya Jun, David’s girlfriend.Tanya was wearing a velveteen cap perched on her glossy dark hair and a Christmas sweater with metallic threads woven in. She had almond-shaped gray eyes and a mouth with firm lips molded over white teeth. Gillian always thought ofher as a future corporate executive.”I saw your car out there,” the future executive said to David, “and the front door of the house was open.” She looked level-headed, suspicious, and a little bit asif she doubted David’s sanity. David looked back and forth between her and Gillian and fumbled for an explanation.”There’s nothing going on. I picked her up onHillcrest Road . She was-well, look at her. She fell in the creek and she’s frozen.””I see,” Tanya said, still calmly. She gave Gillian a quick assessing glance, then turned back to David.”She doesn’t look too bad. You go to the kitchen and make some hot chocolate. Or hot water with Jell-O in it, something with sugar. I’ll take care of her.””And the police,” Gillian called after David’s disappearing back. She didn’t exactly want to look Tanya in the face.Tanya was a senior like David, in the classahead of Gillian atRachelCarsonHigh School . Gillian feared her, admired her, and hated her, in about that order.”Into the bathroom,” Tanya said. Once Gillian was in, she helped her undress, stripping off the clinging, icy-wet clothes and dropping them in the sink. Everything she did was brisk and efficient, and Gilliancould almost see sparks fly from her fingers.