“Hi, Chrissy, I’m Scott.” A cute guy with a friendly smile lowered himself into the camp chair beside her and held out his hand. The light from the campfire revealed half his face and flickered in his dark eyes. “I’m Phil’s roommate.”
Chrissy reached out to shake his hand but shook her head. “I’m sorry, who’s Phil?”
“Phil Chapel, he’s been writing to you for three weeks.” Scott grabbed a marshmallow from the bag but didn’t bother sticking it on the end of a poker; he just popped it in his mouth.
Chrissy’s breath caught in her throat. Finally, a clue to her secret admirer. “He’s never signed his name, just P.C.” Chrissy chuckled. “That’s funny that his last name’s Chapel, because my roommate and I have been calling him the Phantom of the Chapel.”
“Phantom is a good way to describe him.” Scott twisted in his chair to face Chrissy and looked into the darkness behind her. “He ghosts around here as if he’s still on a reconnaissance mission in Afghanistan.”
“Is he in the service?” A log settled in the fire, and sparks flew into the air. One of the other guys around the circle used a long stick to move the log back into place, and the flames settled into a comfortable glow. Chrissy waited for Scott to respond.
“He was in Special Forces.” Scott’s eyebrows briefly lowered, and he pushed a smile back onto his face. “Anyway, he wants to talk to you, so he wants you to pretend you’re talking to me. So, turn toward me, but don’t look behind your chair. Phil doesn’t want anyone to notice him.”
“Hello, Christina.” A velvet voice spoke quietly from behind her.
“Phil?” Chrissy fought the urge to peek behind her chair. The darkness shrouded the edge of the clearing where her friends were gathered around the fire pit. “Why are you hiding back there?”
“I’m good at hiding. If your face looked like mine, you’d hide too.”
“Are you that scary?” Chrissy chuckled.
Scott cleared his throat, and Phil didn’t respond.
“Guys, I was joking.”
“He’s not as scary as he thinks he is, and he’s being ridiculous,” Scott said.
“Hey, if people looked at you the way they look at me, you’d understand.” Phil’s voice wrapped hurt and frustration between the lines, confusing Chrissy.
“Dude don’t get all defensive and quit being a crybaby. I told you I’d help you with this. Now talk to your dream girl while you’ve got her sitting here… finally.”
“Dream girl?” Chrissy scoffed and shook her head. “I’m no one’s dream girl. What is it you guys are trying to do?”
“I want you to get to know me before making an opinion about me based on my appearance. Either you like me, or you don’t, and then we can move forward. If you like me, I’ll let you see what I look like.”
“I guess that sounds fair,” Chrissy said. “How can I know you don’t just like me for my appearance?”
“I heard you speak in sacrament meeting the week after you got home from your mission,” Phil responded. “Your voice is beautiful, but I’ve never actually seen you up close either.”
“How do you propose we get to know each other if we don’t spend any time together?” Chrissy asked.
“You’re proposing already?” Scott laughed. “You guys are fast.”
“Very funny, Scott,” Phil said. “I suggest we talk on the phone and send texts to one another for a while. How do you feel about that, Christina? Or do you prefer Chrissy?”
“How did you know my name is Christina?” Chrissy avoided answering his question. She’d always liked being called Chrissy, but the way his voice caressed her full name was endearing.
“I could tell you all the clandestine ways I gather intel, but then I’d have to kill you. Trust me; you don’t want me to do that.” Phil chuckled.
“Gee, have you killed many people?” Chrissy decided to make light of his teasing, but she didn’t find his statement that funny. She ran her hands up and down her arms, wishing she’d brought a thicker sweatshirt. Phil didn’t respond.
“He doesn’t talk much about that time in his life.” Scott pursed his lips and shuffled his foot in the sand.
“Uh, okay, well… no one calls me Christina except my mother. Until now.” Chrissy rotated almost completely around in her seat, not caring if anyone saw her talking to the back of her chair. “I like the way you say my name, and I look forward to hearing you say it every time you call me.”
“Would it be too bold of me to request your phone number right now, Christina?”
“Only if it’s not too bold for me to request you call me later tonight, Phil.”
“I hope you don’t need to wake up too early tomorrow morning because we have a lot to talk about.”