After lunch, Austin had taken him to the garage to see something. Once they had gotten there, Austin had sat him down and explained the whole plot. They were going to have this beautiful dinner laid out in the dining room. Dawn and he were going to be led in blindfolded. The idea was to get Dawn and him alone together and get them to talk out their differences. To make sure they were alone, Austin was going to take Claudia for a drive, and Scott and Kristy were going for a walk. Thomas and Maddline were to stay to wait on them but were ordered not to say a word.
Softly the door shut. Liam took off his blindfold and looked at Dawn. She looked beautiful in the dark dress that Claudia had picked out; the darkness set off her fair hair. She was still blind folded with a black kerchief like the one he held in his hand. Just then he heard the lock click on the door behind him.
"You can take the blindfold off now," he said softly.
She jumped at his voice but complied. "Why did they set this all up?" Dawn asked as she looked at the dinner and then at him.
"They want us to get back together."
Liam watched her face as she turned this over in her mind.
"So, they have locked us together in this room until we have become friends again?" Dawn asked after a moment of silence.
"That is the idea I think they are getting at," Liam answered. "I am hungry. What do you say we discuss it over dinner?"
Dawn smiled. "Sure, please pass the potatoes."
Austin and Claudia were driving to town or at least Claudia thought they were going to town until Austin stopped the jeep. They were on a back road in the middle of nowhere.
"Why are we stopping?" Claudia asked a bit puzzled.
"I have something to talk to you about," was Austin's answer. He leaned over and turned the radio off. "I was going to tell you this six years ago but I never got around to it." He paused then went on. "Do you remember when you first saw me?" he asked watching her face carefully.
"Yes," Claudia got a thoughtful look in her eyes. "You were on the floor holding your leg. Dawn was yelling at me to do something and go help you because she was busy with Liam. I was scared and confused." She looked at him and asked, "Why do you ask?"
"The moment I saw you I liked you. You came over to me looking so confused and shy. I wondered what was wrong with you."
"Hey, I had no idea where I was or who you were."
Austin turned in the seat to face her more comfortably. "Claudia will you marry me?" Claudia was so surprised that she just looked at him. He thought she wasn't pleased and said, "I am sorry. I can't get down on my knees in here but I do have a ring." With that he produced a small box and opened it to show her the small diamond inside. "It isn't much," he said softly.
Claudia smiled at him shyly, "I don't care about any old ring. Yes, Austin I will marry you."
Austin leaned over to put the ring on her finger and surprised her with a kiss. "This means I can kiss you whenever I want, right?" he said with a devious smile.
The air was heavy with the clean sent of snow and moon. Kristy and Scott pushed their way through the snow. As they got farther away from the inn, they could see more and more of the stars. The sky was a deep blue speckled with bright stars. The air was so still that Kristy was almost afraid to speak and break the silence.
Scott did it for her. “You are going to love this place. I discovered it yesterday and thought of you.”
“How far is it?” she asked.
“Just a little farther,” Scott answered. “See that tree up ahead, the one with a stump right next to it?” Kristy nodded. “We are going to turn there, and it is only a little ways past that.”
“Thank goodness we dressed warm.”
Scott grinned. “I love the snow, don’t you?”
“Yeah, this stuff is prefect for snowballs and forts.” She smiled remembering the afternoon the day before. “What makes it the best is having someone to enjoy it with you.”
“Here we are,” Scott announced. They had just stepped out beyond the tree line and were treated to a breathtaking sight. The hill fell away abruptly about four feet in front of them. Spread out like a quilt at their feet was the country side blanketed in snow. Above them was an amazing display of winter stars. The view was so beautiful that for a minute Kristy did not know what to say.
“Kristy,” Scott called her attention back to him. “There is something I want to ask you.” Kristy looked up at him. “I have been doing a lot of thinking. Right here, in fact, sitting on that stump over there. I thought about us. I reviewed in my head the years when we were dating and compared them to the years that we were apart. And . . .” He paused and got down on his knees. “I don’t have a ring, a poem, or anything prepared. I only decided to do this last night.” Taking her hands in his, he looked into her eyes and said, “I am offering you the only thing I can right now. Kristy will you marry me?”
“Yes,” she said with a smile. Before she could change her mind, Scott guided her face to his and kissed her.
Scott and Kristy burst into the kitchen an hour later all rosy cheeked from their walk. "So how is it going?" Scott asked Thomas. "Did they get anywhere?"
"I don't know," Thomas answered, "they are still in there talking."
"Good," Kristy smiled, "at least they are that far."
Just then Austin and Claudia came in. "How are they doing?" Austin asked as he helped Claudia out of her coat.
"We were just going to find out," Scott answered.
"Good, I, I mean we have something to tell everybody," Claudia said almost bursting with excitement.
“So do we,” Scott said.
Maddline opened the door and entered first with the dessert tray, followed by the rest.
Liam and Dawn were in a deep conversation. Liam's hair, once nicely combed, now stood on end from his fingers going through it. Dawn was listening carefully to him as he talked. Dawn saw them first then Liam who was watching her face noticed that she was looking at someone else and turned around.
"Well?" Austin asked raising his eyebrows.
"Well," Liam teased, "Wouldn't you like to know?"
"Come on," Kristy begged. "Are you getting back together? Are you engaged? When is the wedding?"
"Whoa Kristy," Dawn laughed. "We just started this conversation an hour ago, and we haven't seen each other in about six years."
"Thanks guys," Liam said, "If you didn't get Dawn and me sometime alone we would have never gotten this straightened out."
"Sorry to interrupt, but we have to turn in," Thomas said as he led Maddline out. "If you don't mind putting the dishes on the counter when you are done it would be a help."
Everyone wished them a good night and said they would take care of the dishes.
As soon as they left Austin announced that he had something to say. "Tonight while we were driving Claudia and I came across desolate field. In the light of the moon on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, I asked Claudia to marry me. Then she made me the happiest man alive, she said yes! We will be getting married as soon as her parents and my parents will allow." With that he kissed Claudia.
"Oh, Claudia," Kristy hugged her. "I am getting married, too."
Austin looked at Scott. “I am surprised. I had no idea that was what you have been brewing about.”
Congratulations were showered on the happy couples from all sides. After which everyone had dessert and coffee. At least Liam, Scott, and Austin had coffee. Kristy and Scott were the first to retire. They were both tired from their hike. Claudia was next, since she wanted to talk to Kristy for a few minutes. Austin and Liam went into the lounge to talk. Dawn started to clean the dishes and carry them into the kitchen.
"Thank you, Father," she whispered softly, "I knew you would help. I am so glad Liam has been a Christian all along. I am so happy for Claudia and Kristy. Both couples are perfect for each other. They will take good care of each other."
"May I help?"
She jumped at the voice. Turning she came face to face with Liam. He had taken off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. "Sorry, did I frighten you?" he asked.
"Not really," she smiled a little. "I just thought you and Austin were going to be talking awhile so I decided to wash the dishes." Dawn turned back to the sink and started to scrub the platter.
"Here," Liam moved over next to her, "let me, I need to work off some nervous energy anyway."
Dawn surrendered the wash rag and picked up the towel to dry. "Do you wash dishes much?"
"When I want clean ones." Liam's eyes twinkled as he looked at her. His hair which had been standing up before, was now hanging in his eyes. He brushed it away as he turned back to a stubborn spot on the platter. "I can cook a little, you know, macaroni and cheese, poor man's pizza, and maybe banana bread on rare occasions."
Dawn laughed as he handed her the platter and reached for a plate. "Where do you live now? Last I knew you were in Ohio going to Ohio State."
"I transferred to a college in Pennsylvania for my Junior year. After I graduated, I got a job with a millionaire as his private pilot. So far I enjoy it a lot. It gives me time to study for seminary."
"Are you going to be a pastor?" Dawn asked surprised.
"Yes. At least, I think so." Liam handed her the last plate and started to empty the water. "I know it is going to be a lot of work, but I believe that is what God wants me to do." Dawn turned to put the last plate away hiding her face from him. "So what do you think?" he asked as he dried his hands on the towel that she had left on the counter.
"I think that is great," she said as shut the cupboard, but she didn't turn around to face him.
Worried, he walked up behind her. "Am I doing something wrong?"
She turned around to face him, "No, I really think it is great." Liam looked into her eyes searchingly. "If that is what God wants you to do, I am happy for you. I know you will be the best pastor that you can be." Dawn smiled up at him. "You always do the best that you can every time."
"No, I can't," he turned around clutching his hands. "I can't do it without you. Remember when I told you that I have loved you since we first met?" He paused as if gathering his thoughts. "What I didn't tell you is that I knew then at that moment you were the one I was going to marry." He turned to face her. "Dawn, will you marry me? I can't promise you a big house, money, or a car. But I promise you I will love you and do all I can to provide for you."
Dawn was looking down at her hands. "Yes." It was almost too soft for Liam to hear.
He was so happy that he thought he would burst. Instead he stepped forward and took Dawn into his arms. This time she slipped her arms around his waist and returned the hug. Suddenly a thought occurred to him and he drew back to look at her. "You aren't just doing this because you feel sorry for me?" he asked.
"No, I was beginning to think you were never going to ask."
Liam laughed and kissed her nose then pulled her closer. "Aren't our parents going to be surprised?"
She smiled against his shirt. "I think a lot of people are going to be surprised."