That wasn’t all. Cory the Party Guy dropped a ball of paper on the lab table ashe walked past to get rid of his gum in thetrash can. When Gillian unfolded it she found a Hershey’s kiss and a questionnaire: R Unew? 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 nodded. “Gillian?”(Now just say after me…) The soft voice inher 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 finished.(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 thelaughter 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 imaginedthat 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 knowJill better.” He gestured expansively.”Good idea,” Bruce the Athlete said cheerfully from behind Gillian. “I’m free Saturday. What about you-Jill?” He drapeda 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 stingingin 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 foryears.””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 dynamowith 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 camefrom 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 werewalking away down the hall.Chapter 8Gillian stood perfectly still and watched David disappear around a corner.