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Love bytes

On the information highway, sometimes love bytes - and its result can be just as effective as the piercing of Cupid's arrow.

In the age of the Internet, finding love with the click of a mouse is becoming increasingly more common - as long as you can make it over a few potholes along the route.

Krista Lien of Alexandria had encountered a few of those. Now 43 and never been married, she had tried online dating a couple times.

"I met a few people but no one I was connecting with," she said. Although she had lost faith in meeting her soul mate online, a few months ago she decided to give it one more shot. And this time she hit the target.

"I was going through some things in my life that made me realize that I was not happy by myself," she said. "I decided to try it one more time."

Chuck Potter of Dakota, Minnesota, also had some serious doubts that he could find true love from behind his keyboard.

"I was skeptical," said the 43-year-old farrier. But after seeing a commercial for an online dating site, he reluctantly signed up for the first time.

And it didn't take three times for him to be charmed.

Both Krista and Chuck subscribed to eHarmony, an Internet dating site, joining the estimated 40 percent of single American adults who have tried online dating. On Krista's first day, she was sent Chuck's profile as a potential match.

"He sounded like a nice guy, like someone I would be interested in knowing," she said.

Chuck also received Krista's profile.

"The first thing I saw was her picture," he recalled. "I thought she was pretty. She sounded nice, someone who was fun, who I would be able to get along with and have a relationship with."

After swapping basic information about each other via eHarmony's system of questions and answers, the two opted for "open communication," in which they actually e-mailed through the dating site.

"Everything about him was just cool," Krista said with a giggle. "I remember e-mailing my sister and saying, 'If he is everything he appears to be...Wow!'

"And he was," she continued. "And more! I kept thinking that it's too good to be true."

The two eventually exchanged personal e-mail addresses and phone numbers. A week after their initial contact, Krista called Chuck. The conversation lasted two hours.

"He had such a sexy voice," Krista sighed as she gave Chuck a starry-eyed gaze. "He was just...Yeah!"

After several lengthy conversations over the next week, the two decided to meet in Dakota, a four-hour drive from Alexandria.

It was the end of September, the leaves were changing and the weather was gorgeous - the perfect setting for their plans for motorcycling.

"When she stepped out of the vehicle, I thought, 'Wow! She's beautiful,' " Chuck said of his first glimpse of Krista. "Before we met I was already having feelings for her. When she got there I fell in love with her almost instantly."

"You're a smart man," Krista teased.

And for Krista, the feeling was mutual.

"He was just so cute," she said as the two held hands and exchanged smitten looks. "Everything we had talked about was right there."

On their third weekend together, a trip to the mall in Alexandria left Krista sweating and needing some air. Chuck wanted to give her a promise ring.

"He wanted me to know how special I was and that he loved me," she explained. "Nothing more than that."

But two weeks later, on October 27, it turned into more. This time it was an engagement ring.

It was another beautiful autumn day. The two picked out the ring, which happened to fit perfectly. Then they headed to City Park in Alexandria.

"We went into the gazebo," Chuck said. "I got down on one knee and I asked her to marry me. She said yes!"

"I said 'Of course I will!' " Krista added. "Amazingly enough, as much as I cry, I don't think I did. I was still shocked. It was so unreal to me. Everything was such a whirlwind."

On April 7 at a bed and breakfast in Branson, Missouri, Chuck and Krista will say "I do," becoming one of the estimated 120,000 marriages a year that occur as a result of online dating. They will be the third eHarmony couple to wed at this particular inn.

"It's a great way to meet people," Krista said of online dating. "You have to learn about them from the inside out [on eHarmony]. You just have to use common sense."

The new Mrs. Potter will move to Dakota after the couple marry.

"She's going to be a farrierette," Chuck said with a laugh.

"A horse whisperer," Krista said with eager anticipation.

And with one more adoring gaze at each other, Chuck concluded, "From the first day I met her it was all over. I think it's the first time in my life I've really been in love with someone. I feel like a kid at Christmas time."

"He's everything I could want," Krista agreed as she clasped his hand. "One of the things I always said was, 'I don't want to just be in love, I want to feel loved.'

"I know now I have them both - I'm in love and I feel loved. And that's such a great feeling."