Chrissy wanted more than a note. She missed having Phil in her life, even if only by cell phone. She read his most recent note over and over, sitting alone in the clearing.
“I wish you were here with me, Phil.” Chrissy spoke to an empty fire pit, the ashes and blackened wood reminding her of the scars that had been burned into the face of the man she loved. “I dream of you…”
Chrissy wrapped her arms across her waist, rubbing her hands up and down her arms, trying to warm the shivers away. She smiled, remembering the feel of his lips on hers.
“In my dreams, you kiss me… and I wake up, and you’re not there.” A tear fell down her cheek. She didn’t bother wiping it away. “I miss you.”
“I miss you too.” Did she imagine his voice? Or was he right behind her?
“Phil?” Chrissy bolted from her seat on the log and launched herself into his arms. “You’re really here?”
“I’m here, Christina.” Phil’s whisper was so close to her ear that Chrissy shivered.
“Where have you been?” Chrissy pulled away and smacked his arm. She pushed him hard, and he took a step back. “Why did you leave me?” Her little fists were feathers against his strong chest.
“I’m sorry.” Phil took her pushes and shoves without fighting back, not even a tense muscle. “I won’t do it again. I promise.”
“You’d better not.” Chrissy looked up at him for the first time in the daylight and saw his scarred face and head and hands and neck. She didn’t mean to gasp. It just happened.
Phil took a step back and shoved his hands in his pockets. He lowered his gaze and his eyebrows.
“Don’t you dare pull away from me again, Phil Chapel,” Chrissy demanded. “You’ve avoided me long enough. I need to see what you look like. If we’re going to love each other and be together every day, then I need to be able to accept all of you. It was just shocking, that’s all.”
He finally looked her in the eye, head held high and confident. “Well, what do you think?”
“I think you’re beautiful,” Chrissy said.
“Liar,” Phil mumbled.
“Don’t call me a liar, you jerk.” Chrissy’s harsh accusation caused Phil to raise his eyebrows. “What? No one talks to you that way? Everyone tiptoes around you, hoping not to offend you, showing you pity? Well, I’ve got news for you, Phil; I’m not doing it. I don’t care what you’ve gone through. I don’t care what you look like or how many scars you have on the inside or the outside. I’m in love with you. Deal with it.”
“I’m in love with you too.” His eyes pierced into hers as they stood, two torturous feet apart from one another, each daring the other to flinch first.
“Prove it,” Chrissy said. “Stop acting like a scaredy-cat and get over here and kiss me.”
Phil didn’t hesitate a second more. His hands snaked around her back, pulling her into his arms. She reached up and pulled his face down to hers.
Their kiss was different this time. It was insistent and passionate, and almost violent. They pressed themselves into each other’s arms as if they were already one.
Chrissy knew she needed to pull away from him soon or they’d risk doing something they’d both regret. She used all the force she had in her arms and in her will power and pushed him away.
She didn’t want to wait a minute more for him, but she knew she had to. She said the first thing that came to her mind.
“Please, tell me you have a current temple recommend.” As a recent missionary, Chrissy longed to marry in the temple rather than at a local church building. But it would be a long process if he wasn’t already prepared.
“Of course I do.” Phil chuckled and took Chrissy’s hand in his. “How could I marry a gorgeous, sweet, pure girl like you anywhere besides the temple?”
“I can’t think of any reason.” Chrissy stifled a giggle.
Even though they’d only known each other a few months and they’d been apart for weeks, they both knew it was time. After a deep, shaky breath, Phil lowered himself to one knee right there in the clearing, with the sun speckling through the leaves, and asked her to be his bride.
“It would be my honor,” she whispered in reply. His beautiful, scarred face lit up in relief, and he let out a deep breath he’d been holding. She shook her head and chuckled. “Did you honestly think I’d say no?”
“Uhh…” The guilt in his eyes and the way he bit his lower lip finished his sentence.
“Come on, Phil Chapel.” She helped him to his feet. “Let’s go talk to the bishop and make arrangements at the temple.”
“At least I was brave enough to write you a note, my angel of music.”
“That’s over now,” Chrissy said, bumping his shoulder as they started walking toward the trail.
“Can’t I still write you love notes after we’re married?” He bumped her shoulder right back.
“I’d rather just have you come to church with me.”
“I’ll take you to church right now.” Phil’s teasing was accompanied by him sweeping her up into his arms and stepping down the path that would lead them back to the chapel. He paused only long enough to kiss her a couple of times as he carried her. Maybe a few more than a couple of times…