I promise, p.1
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       I Promise, p.1

           Robin Jones Gunn
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I Promise

  I Promise

  Copyright © 2001

  Robin Jones Gunn

  Edited by Janet Kobobel Grant

  Cover design by Lookout Design, Inc.

  Unless otherwise identified, Scripture quotations are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. The “NIV” and “New International Version’’ trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

  This story is a work of fiction. All characters and events are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is coincidental.

  International copyright secured. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

  Published by Bethany House Publishers

  11400 Hampshire Avenue South

  Bloomington, Minnesota 55438


  Bethany House Publishers is a division of

  Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan.


  Ebook edition created 2012

  eISBN: 978-1-4412-3312-7

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

  For all the Christys I have known.

  May your promises last forever.



  Title Page

  Copyright Page


  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  About the Author

  Other Books by Author

  1 Christy opened her eyes and focused on the empty bed across from her in the dimly lit dorm room. The digital alarm clock read 5:05 A.M.

  Katie never came to our room all night. Where is she?

  Getting up and snapping on the overhead light, Christy checked to see if Katie had left a note while Christy slept. No note.

  Suddenly Christy stopped. Her fuzzy morning brain woke up. She remembered where she had been the night before and what had happened.

  The Dove’s Nest Café. We were all together. The whole gang.

  A smile drew her lips heavenward as it all came back.

  It wasn’t a dream. Last night Todd asked me to marry him. And I said yes.

  Opening the shades, Christy gazed outside. The streetlights that lined the campus of Rancho Corona cast a cool, bluish gray tint on the world outside her window. Rows of tall palm trees stood in a sacred hush waiting for the familiar breath of wind from the nearby desert to awaken them. Whenever the wind came, the palm trees danced, and something inside Christy compelled her to join them.

  This morning she didn’t need the rustling palm trees to call her heart to the dance floor. Inside, she already was twirling and spinning.

  Todd and I are going to get married!

  The phone rang, and Christy jumped to answer it.

  “Hey, how’s it going?” The deep voice on the other end was the same voice that had echoed in her sweet dreams all night.

  “Hey yourself,” Christy answered softly. “I was just thinking of you.”

  “Couldn’t sleep?”

  “I did a little. I woke up about ten minutes ago. Todd, did last night really happen? Did you really propose to me?”

  “Yes, I did. And you said yes.”

  “Yes, I did.”

  “Yes, you did.”

  Christy closed her eyes and felt his voice’s warmth wash over her.

  “I spent the whole night playing my guitar,” Todd said. “I’m working on a new song.”

  “How did your roommate feel about that? Or did you spend the night in the lobby?”

  “I’m the only guy left in my wing. Everyone else has gone home for Christmas break.”

  Christy remembered her missing roommate and asked, “Did you hear Katie say anything last night about going home?”


  “I thought she was staying here this weekend with me, but she never came back last night.”

  “Did she stay in Sierra’s room?” Todd asked. “She’s done that in the past, hasn’t she?”

  “Yes. That’s probably what she did. I know I shouldn’t worry about her. She’s a big girl and can take care of herself. It’s just that with Katie I never know what’s going to happen next.”

  “So, what are you doing right now?” Todd asked. “Do you want to meet me down by the chapel? We can watch the sunrise.”

  Christy laughed at the spark of spontaneity in his voice. “Sure, I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

  Dressing in several layers in case it was as chilly outside as it looked, Christy paused only a minute in front of the mirror. Her long, straight, nutmeg brown hair was pulled back in a clip. She let it down and shook her head before giving her tresses a quick brushing. Todd liked her hair long. She smiled. Even though she had slept only four and a half hours, her blue-green eyes were bright and full of glimmering hope. Her cheeks had a rosy glow, and the longer she gazed at herself, the wider her smile grew.

  So this is what a woman in love looks like. An engaged woman in love. A bride to be.

  With a quick stop in the bathroom to wash her face and brush her teeth, Christy headed across the Rancho Corona campus to the small chapel at the mesa’s edge. From the trail that ran along the rim of the school’s property, the Pacific Ocean was visible on exceptionally clear days.

  This morning a fine winter mist hovered low to the ground as Christy crossed the meadow. When the sun rose, it would be too hazy to see much of the view that stretched between the campus and the coast. She didn’t mind. She wasn’t trotting at such a fast clip to see the valley. She was going to meet her beloved, and she couldn’t stop smiling.

  Finding the door of the chapel open, Christy stepped into the sheltered warmth of the small, hushed building and spotted Todd. He was kneeling at the altar, eyes closed, head bowed.

  With her heart still racing, Christy tiptoed to the altar. She knelt beside Todd. His short, sandy blond hair was wet. From him rose the subtle scent of Lifebuoy soap. As he lifted his head, his screaming, silver-blue eyes turned toward her. Christy immediately knew she wasn’t the only one who had been smiling all night. The dimple on his right cheek seemed as if it had turned into a permanent mark.

  Neither of them spoke. Their eyes did all the talking. Neither words nor touch were needed as they knelt there, silent before God and each other, talking to God, talking to each other. Heart to heart. Soul to soul.

  Todd was the first to speak. It was a prayer of thanks. He asked God to direct their future steps and guide them as they made plans for their wedding. When he concluded, Christy joined him in saying “As you wish,” which to them meant “Amen” or “May it be according to your will.”

  Todd stood and offered Christy his hand. “How does some breakfast sound?”

  Christy smiled at how quickly Todd could go from intensely s
piritual to immensely hungry. “Sure, I have the whole day free.”

  “Me too.”

  Hand in hand they stepped into the cool morning. The light from the sun broke through the mist like thin streamers made of silver glitter. The meadow before them had become a fairytale world, lit by tiny drops of light.

  “It’s so beautiful,” Christy whispered.

  “Let’s get married right here,” Todd said, stepping into the enchanted meadow.

  Christy chuckled. “Okay. Right now?”

  “I’m serious,” Todd said. “Let’s have the ceremony right here.” He let go of her hand and, with wide arm motions, described the scene as he saw it. “We’ll put an arch right here. Is that what you call those things you stand under? They’re rounded on top and covered with flowers.”

  Christy nodded. “Yes, that would be an arch. Or a trellis.”

  “Let’s get married right here under an arch.” Todd seemed to size up the field. “What do you think? We could fit enough chairs in here. You could wait over there in the chapel. When the music starts, you would walk down the aisle to here.”

  Todd stepped over to a spot where he stood in a direct line with the chapel. “This is where we’ll put the arch. You’ll come walking down the center there, wearing a white dress with some flowers in your hair, and I’ll be waiting for you right here.”

  Christy’s heart soared. “Sounds beautiful.” She had assumed they would be married inside a church, but this meadow was as much a holy ground as a church, she thought. Especially this morning. Especially this very moment, with Todd’s eyes lit up and the meadow sprinkled with a shimmering mist of celestial light.

  “This would be a beautiful spot for an evening wedding,” Christy said. “It would be too hot to sit out here in the afternoon in the summer.”

  Todd stopped. He turned to Christy. “Summer?”

  “Don’t you think it would be too hot to sit outside in the afternoon without any shade? I think August evenings are beautiful.”

  “August?” Todd repeated. “Are you thinking we should get married next summer?”

  “Of course. We both will have graduated by then and had time to plan everything and—”

  “I want to get married sooner than that,” Todd said.

  “Sooner? How much sooner?”

  “I don’t know. Next week is Christmas. Then we have the missions trip to Mexico with the youth group the week after that. What about the second weekend in January?”

  Christy laughed. Todd didn’t.

  “Todd, we can’t get married in three weeks!”

  “Why not?”

  “We have to plan everything! We have to find a place to live and buy rings and order invitations. I have to find a dress and—”

  “You’re great at planning things, Chris. That’s what you do best. We have all of Christmas break to work on it.”

  “No, we don’t. We’re going to Mexico after Christmas, remember? We haven’t even finished planning that trip yet.”

  Okay, then how about the third week of January? Or the last week, right after I graduate?”

  Christy felt panic rising inside. “Todd, how could we possibly pull off a wedding in a month? People will think we have to get married.”

  Todd’s voice was calm and soothing as he reached for her hand. “You and I and everyone else know that isn’t the case. Is that what you’re afraid of? What other people think?”

  Christy grasped Todd’s hand tighter and tried to calm her rising emotions. “No, I’m not worried about what other people think. It’s just that I would like our wedding to be special and well thought out. I want us to have enough time to plan everything the right way and not to feel rushed down the aisle. Does that make sense?”

  Todd bent over and kissed Christy tenderly on the cheek. “Yes. That makes sense. What you’re trying to tell me is that January is too soon.”

  “Yes, January is too soon.” Christy wrapped her arms around him and rested her head on his shoulder. Her breathing returned to normal. She liked the idea of getting married here in the meadow. She could picture the two of them standing right here in the cool of the evening sometime next August.

  Todd pulled away so he could look her in the face. “So, if January is too soon, what are you thinking? February?”

  “No, I’m still thinking August would be best.”

  “August!” Todd laughed. “We don’t need eight months to plan a wedding.”

  “Yes, we do.”

  “March.” Todd held her at arm’s length. “Easter vacation. It’ll be perfect weather. You’ll almost be done with school.”

  “Easter vacation is in April.”

  “Okay, then April. Not August. April. I want to marry you, Christy. I want to be with you. I want us to start our life together. This is what we’ve been waiting for.”

  “We’ve both been waiting, Todd. We’ve both been thinking and praying about it for almost six years. Eight more months is nothing. We can wait until August.”

  Todd looked out over the meadow. The risen sun now cast its filtered light through the mist, shining on the droplets of moisture that clung to the grass, turning them into tiny diamonds. All across the meadow it appeared as if the stars had fallen from the heavens and were scattered at their feet, creating new constellations in miniature.

  Christy watched as Todd stuck out his chin and seemed to be processing all this with a firm determination. He was usually Mr. Whatever, laid back about everything. He had told her several months ago that he was inexperienced with things like birthday parties and holidays. Evidently he knew even less about planning weddings.

  “Trust me, Todd,” Christy said softly. “April is too soon.”

  “Yeah? Well, August is definitely too far away. We can fit in a wedding before this summer. I’m sure we can.”

  “Why fit it in? Why not wait until I graduate and have the wedding in June?” Christy asked. “The meadow will be beautiful in June.”

  Todd shook his head. “No, not June. It’s looking like my position at the church will turn into full time on June first. I don’t see how I could take a week off in June for our honeymoon.”

  “Maybe if you asked them now and explained—”

  Todd turned his perplexed face toward Christy. “You know what? I don’t want to talk about this right now. Let’s get something to eat.” He reached for her hand and started for the parking lot.

  Christy noticed how the sun had pierced the morning clouds that previously had spread across the meadow. The glittering field of diamonds had evaporated, leaving a long stretch of dried winter grass. Nothing was enchanting about the world around them anymore.

  Is this what happens when a match made in heaven tries to walk on the earth? How can the glimmering magic disappear so quickly?

  Todd remained deep in his own thoughts as they drove into town in their Volvo station wagon. Christy told herself she should have been more spontaneous as they dreamed aloud about their wedding date.

  I could have simply said yes to January or any other month. As soon as Todd was presented with the details, he would have changed his mind and adjusted to a more practical date. This is the time for me to be dreamy, not practical.

  “It looks like that restaurant is open.” Christy pointed to a café they were approaching. She hoped they could sit down and calmly discuss their wedding plans over a leisurely breakfast. This time around she would be less practical and more dreamy.

  “I was thinking of a breakfast burrito,” Todd said. “Do you mind if we go to Roland’s Drive Thru?”

  “I don’t think there’s a Roland’s around here.”

  “I know one is near Doug and Tracy’s house at the beach.”

  “That’s a long drive. Are you sure you want to wait that long to eat?”

  “I don’t mind,” Todd said. “Do you?”

  Stop being so practical about everything! Just agree for once.

  “Okay, Roland’s is fine with me.” Even though it seems crazy to
drive such a long way just to get a certain type of fast food.

  “Can we work on the Mexico trip?” Todd asked.

  “What do you mean?”

  “Can we start planning while we drive to Carlsbad?”

  “You don’t want to talk about our wedding date anymore?”

  “Not now. I think a note pad is on the backseat. A pen should be in the glove compartment. It would help me a lot if we could work on the Mexico trip. Could you make a list like we did for the camping trip to the desert?”

  Christy found the note pad and pen. In fat letters she wrote MEXICO at the top of the paper.

  “We need tents,” Todd said. “Could you put that on the list? And we need extra tarps, in case it rains.”

  As Todd continued with the list of what they needed, Christy took notes. All her letters came out thick and angry.

  Why is it you can be practical about Mexico, Todd, but not practical about setting a wedding date?

  The longer they talked, the longer the list became. Todd expressed surprise every time Christy thought of another necessary component of the trip, such as medical release forms for each teenager and whatever parental permission they needed to take the students across the border.

  She wanted to say, “See? Every event takes careful planning. Especially something as huge as a wedding.” But she didn’t. The frustration expressed itself only in the thick black printing that filled two pages on the note pad.

  As soon as they exited the freeway in the beach town of Carlsbad, Todd rolled down his window. He seemed to need to fill his lungs with salty ocean air. Christy was glad for the fresh air, too. Her emotions had begun to spiral into a nose dive.

  Where are all the lovey-dovey feelings I felt for Todd this morning? Why can’t we spend the day dreaming about us? Did I ruin everything by not being spontaneous enough when he was in a dreamy mood?

  “Hey, how’s it going?” Todd said to the speaker box at the drive-through. “I’d like four breakfast burritos and two large orange juices.” He turned to Christy. “What would you like?”

  Christy tried to see the menu printed on the box outside Todd’s window, but his arm blocked the sign. “Do they have French toast?”

  “French toast?” Todd repeated as if he had never heard of such an item before.

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