Hank hurried up the hill with the eagerness of a seven-year-old to the spot where he would soon meet Cecilia. They'd met here six years ago, fell in love almost immediately and began dating. Every year on the Fourth of July, they returned to this spot to watch the town fireworks display.
The hill was just beyond the edge of town and afforded them the best view of the explosions of the colored pyrotechnics taking place above the center of their fair village. It was also private and allowed them the ability to communicate freely with one another.
Each year since they met, Hank would bring the blanket, a cooler filled with ice, a gallon of lightly sweetened lemonade and plastic cups. Cecilia brought a picnic basket loaded down with fried chicken, potato salad, cole slaw - all of which she prepared herself - along with paper plates and plastic silverware.
They would sit here for hours enjoying each other's company, the food and the fireworks. Because they talked about anything and everything, it didn't take long before they both admitted they were madly in love with Jesus. This only made their love for each other stronger and sweeter.
This year would be a little different than the ones before. Hank was bringing something with him that he hoped would please his beloved Cecilia, but it wasn't anything tangible. He was filled with a nervous anticipation like he'd never known before, though he was sure this was meant to be.
He was a little early this time, mostly because of the jitters he'd had all day. He wanted to have time to sit a while and relax so she wouldn't see how his nerves were jumping. Before long, she was making the trek up the hill to where he lounged on the blanket, trying to look as nonchalant and at ease as he could while he poured her a glass of lemonade.
"Why didn't you meet me at the bottom of the hill?" she asked as she set the picnic basket on the blanket and sat next to him.
"I wanted you to have something cold to drink as soon as you got here," he replied. "It's a lot hotter this year than ever before."
As he handed her the cup, she smiled and his heart nearly leapt from his chest. She looked like an Angel when she smiled.
"Thank you, darling," she said. "I'm much more thirsty than normal right now."
What he didn't know was that she was also filled with anticipation, for she had brought the same intangible thing with her, hoping he would be pleased.
"But you're still as beautiful as ever," he said.
"And you, my handsome prince," she replied, "seem to get more smitten every day."
"It's true. I admit it," he said.
She giggled and he pulled her to him, gently kissing her lips. Gazing into his eyes, she softly said, "We should eat before the chicken gets cold."
He laughed heartily, but was willing to comply. When she opened the basket, he prayed a blessing over the food and they began their meal, each taking note that the other seemed a little off, a little nervous and slightly on edge tonight.
Soon after they finished eating, the sun was setting and the fireworks began. There would be a brief lull in the bright colorful display just before the grand finale. This was what each of them was waiting for with hope and expectation as they prayed silently for the response they wanted.
When the pause in the fireworks finally came, she looked at him and said, "I want to ....," but he was also speaking.
"Cecilia, will ....," was all he could utter before he realized she was speaking too.
"You first," she said with a smile as she realized they were about to say the same thing.
He looked deeply into her eyes and asked her what he'd been itching to ask all evening. "Cecilia, I love you more than anything on Earth," he began. "Will you marry me?"
Searching his eyes, she knew he was telling the truth about his feelings for her. She knew he was the one God had chosen for her.
"Yes," she replied, "I'll marry you. I love you more than anything, also."
The joy she saw fill his eyes made her love him even more. They kissed tenderly as the finale of fireworks exploded in the evening sky.
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