You can deal.””Yeah.” Gillian blinked. “Yeah,” she said with more conviction, nodding.”Take a deep breath, get up-“”Yeah.””-say something different…”Gillian got up. She perched on the edge ofher bed. He was right, she could deal. So it hadn’t been a dream. She had really died, and there really were angels, and now one was in the room with her, lookingalmost solid except at the edges. And he had come to …”Why did you come here?” she said.He made a noise that, if he hadn’t been anangel, Gillian would have called a snort.”You don’t think I ever really left, do you?” he said chidingly. “I mean, think about it. How did you manage to recover fromfreezing without even needing to go to thehospital? You were in severe hypothermia,you know. The worst. You were facing pulmonary edema, ventricular fibrillation, the loss of a few of your bits…” He wiggled his fingers and waggled his feet. That was when Gillian realized he was standing several inches off the floor. “Youwere in bad shape, kid. But you got out of it without even frostbite.”Gillian looked down at her own ten pink fingers.They were tinglingly over-sensitive, but she didn’t have even one blood blister.”You saved me.”He gave a half grin and looked sheepish.”Well, it’s my job.””To help people.””To help you.”A barely acknowledged hope was formingin Gillian’s mind. He never really left her; it was his job to help her. That sounded like… Could he be …Oh, God, no, it was too corny. Not to mention presumptuous.He was looking sheepish again. “Yeah. I don’t know how to put it, either. But it is true, actually. Did youknow that most people think they have one even when they don’t? Somebody did a poll, and ‘most people have an inner certainty that there is some particular, individual spirit watching over them.’ The New Agers call us spirit guides. The Hawaiians call us aumakua…””You’re a guardian angel,” Gillian whispered.”Yeah. Your guardian angel. And I’m here to help you find your heart’s desire.””I-” Gillian’s throat dosed.It was too much to believe. She wasn’t worthy. She should have been a better person so that she would deserve some of the happiness that suddenly spread out in front of her.But then a cold feeling of reality set in. She wasn’t a better person, and although she was sure enlightenment and whatever else an angel thought your heart’s desire was, was terrific, well … in her case…She swallowed. “Look,” she said grimly.”The things I need help with-well, they’re not exactly the kinds of things angels are likely to know about.””Heh.” He grinned. He leaned over in a position that would have unbalanced an ordinary person and waved an imaginary something over her head. “You shall go tothe ball, Cinderella.”A wand. Gillian looked at him. “Now you’re my fairy godmother?””Yeah. But watch the sarcasm, kid.” He changed to a floating position, his arms clasping his knees, and looked her dead in the eye. “How about if I say I know your heart’s desire is for David Blackburn to fallmadly in love with you and for everyone atschool to think you’re totally hot?”Heat swept up Gillian’s face. Her heart was beating out the slow, hard thumps of embarrassment- and excitement. When he said it out loud like that, it sounded extremely shallow… and extremely, extremely desirable.”And you could help with that?” she choked out.”Believe it or not, Ripley.””But you’re an angel.”He templed his fingers. “The paths to enlightenment are many. Grasshopper. Grasshopper? Maybe I should call you Dragonfly. You are sort of iridescent. There’re lots of other insects, but Dung-Beetle sounds sort of insulting. …”I’ve got a guardian angel who sounds like Robin Williams, Gillian thought. It was wonderful. She started to giggle uncontrollably, on the edge of tears.”Of course, there’s a condition,” the angel said, dropping his fingers. He looked at her seriously. His eyes were like the violet-blue at the bottom of a flame.Gillian gulped, took a scared breath.”What?””You have to trust me.””That’s it?””Sometimes it won’t be so easy.””Look.” Gillian laughed, gulped again, steadied herself. She looked away from his eyes, focusing on the graceful body that was floating in midair. “Look, after all I’ve seen… after you saved my life-and my bits … how could I not trust you?” She said it again quietly. “How could I ever nottrust you?”He nodded. Winked. “Okay,” he said. “Let’sprove it.””Huh?” Slowly the feeling of awed incredulity was fading. It was beginning toseem almost normal to talkto this magical being.”Let’s prove it. Get some scissors.””Scissors?”Gillian stared at the angel. He stared back.”I don’t even know where any scissors are.””Drawer to the left of the silverware drawerin the kitchen. A big sharp pair.” He grinned like Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother.Gillian wasn’t afraid. She didn’t decide not to be, she simply wasn’t.”Okay,” she said and went down to get thescissors. The angel went with her, floatingjust behind her shoulder. At the bottom ofthe stairs were two Abyssinian cats, curled up head to toe like the Yin-Yang symbol. They were fast asleep. Gillian nudged one gently with one toe, and it opened sleepy crescents of eyes.And then it was off like a flash-both cats were. Streaking down the side hall, falling over each other, skidding on the hardwood floor. Gillian watched with her mouth open.