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Monday, March 13, 2017

FAUX  BEAU

A wee bit of humorous satire
by c.j.



Tillie flitted around the kitchen fixing herself a snack while listening to her brother and his friend Matthias talk about their next college Bible study. 

"I liked it better when it said earlier in Ephesians, "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead."  Matt said.   "It's better than having to talk about marriage.  I think I'll bow out and let you lead this next week's lesson.

"Oh, no you don't," her brother Fletcher said.  "Take courage, bro.  Be not afraid!"

"I just don't think it's something we need to go over with a bunch of young college students," Matt groaned.

"What?"  Tillie butted in.  "Most of them will be making the choice of a marriage partner in the next five years or so.  It's totally relevant."

"Besides, we don't get to pick and choose which Scriptures we like, and which we don't," Fletch continued.   "But, I'll do most of the talking if that makes you feel any better," he added.

"Thanks."  Matt drained the rest of his soda in a long gulp closing his eyes.

Fletch tried to spear his sister with his eyes.  And when he did, he raised his eyebrows and shook his head just barely, just enough for her to notice.  They both remembered Matt's disastrous marriage right out of high school.  He had gotten a girl pregnant and tried to man-up, so he married her.  Soon after she miscarried, and her parents had the marriage annulled.  He was a senior and she was just a junior.  At least he wasn't 18 yet or he could have been in trouble with the law.  It was a big wake-up call, one of the things that led him to make changes in his life, like  becoming a Christian.  Fletch had been a good witness all along as his best friend.  Now Fletch was a senior in college while Matt was out and working full time while earnng on his master's. Tillie was just a freshman.

At the next Bible study, they braved opening the book of Ephesians and attacking the portions on marriage head on.  Fletch ended by reading...

"Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his wife even as himself,
and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband."

Are there any questions?  One new girl raised her hand in the back and asked, "Are either of you available?"

The room exploded with tittering and boisterous laughter.  Matt raised his voice, "That concludes our study tonight.  Who wants to play volleyball?"

Matt's aunt and uncle had a bungalow by the beach where they offered to host these Bible studies.  They were thrilled with the turn-around in Matt's life. 


As usual, someone built a bonfire, they roasted hot dogs, ate too many chips, and some brave ones, like her, went out a little ways to duck under the freezing waves.  After all, she thought, what good's a swimming suit when you live by the ocean if you can't get it wet.  As soon as she came in, which didn't take long, she toweled off and put her swimming suit cover back on."  She looked up and saw Matt watching her.  "What?"

"You're crazy, that's all," he scowled.  "Normal people don't swim in artic cold oceans, especially in skimpy, never mind.  You should wear a wet suit."

She glared at him and walked over to the fire because she was shivering and her teeth were chattering, but she didn't want him to see. 

Later, her brother offered to take a car load of those who needed rides home calling, "I'll be back for you, Tillie."


It got later and later.  Everybody else left.  It was just her and Matt.  But it was the first time she ever remembered him really talking to her like she was a grown-up, not just his best friend's pesky little sister.  They sat around the fire and talked about the Bible study.  They talked about what they wanted to do when they "grew up."  Matt even talked a little about his extremely short marriage.

"I actually was looking forward to being a dad," he said.  "I know it is stupid since we were so young, but I guess the idea of a house with a white picket fence, a wife, two kids and a dog appealed to me.  I thought I was on my way."  He dug in the sand with a small driftwood stick.

"You'd be a good one," she said with all sincerity.  Matt was a good guy, a guy she'd had a crush on since junior high.

She stood up and tripped on the blanket she'd wrapped around her.  Matt grabbed her before she fell into the fire.  Tillie landed on his lap instead.  She looked at his eyes.  He looked at her lips then kissed her.  Then he jumping up dumping her on the ground.

"Ow!" she hollered.  "What'd you do that for?"  She looked up from where he had thrown her off his lap onto the ground as he was standing up grabbing his hair in his fists. 

"That's not supposed to happen.  I'm sorry.  Truly I am, Tilly," he groaned.

"That's not what you're supposed to do, kiss a girl and tell her you're sorry for doing it."  They both were standing now glaring at each other. 

Just then headlights beamed across the sand.  "That's my dad.  Fletch probably forgot all about me after saying goodnight to his girlfriend, again."  This was the second time he'd done that.

The next week once again the two guys were discussing their Bible study while sitting at the kitchen table.  "I think it went pretty well," Fletch said.

"Better than I thought it was going to anyway," Matt responded.  "What do you think, Tillie?"  He looked up at her for the first time since the night he dumped her.

She stopped pouring milk on her cold cereal and glanced up.  Both of them were staring expectantly at her.  "Ahh, it was good," she said.  "I mean, especially that part about loving your wives like Christ loves the church.  So, are you either of you going to apply this lesson any time soon?" 

At least her brother had the decency to blush.  He'd been going out with Jill for seven or eight months.  Tilly'd never seen him so happy.  He shrugged but grinned, "I need to graduate first and get a job.  Then maybe I'll think about applying it.  What about you, Matt?  You and Diana have been together for over two years.  Is she the one?"

Tillie tried to act non-pulsed, and concentrated on eating her Cheerios.  When Matt didn't respond, Fletch prodded some more.  "I mean, you should have a pretty good idea, I'd think, after two years."  She hoped her brother wouldn't notice her blushing.

Matt did not speak for awhile, just kept rubbing his finger over the rim of his glass.  Ever so often he'd look up at Tillie but she had no idea what he was thinking.  Finally he sighed.  "No she's not the one.  I don't think we could make it work."

Fletch scrunched his eyebrows and looked at his friend.  "I mean, you two were living together until you became a Christian.  Isn't that some kind of commitment?"

Matt glanced up at Tillie, but said, "It's some kind of sin, but it doesn't make a forever kind of arrangement.  Besides, she's not a Christian."

Tillie and Fletch both said, "Oh," at the same time.  They all knew what Scripture said about not being unequally yoked.  Since Diana came to church once in a while, they just assumed she was a Christian. 

But Fletch wasn't willing to let it go.  "Don't you think you should break up with her then instead of leading her on?"

"At least I moved out as soon as I got saved, but she's still clinging to me like a barnacle.  I guess I was waiting for a time to see if she would become saved too.  But even so, it would be difficult to resurrect a happily ever after from beating a dead horse," he grimaced.

"Wow, that's some kind of mental image," Tillie said under her breath shuddering though both guys heard her say it.  Fletch tried to snort back a laugh. 

But he went on like a dog chewing a bone, "No, seriously, Matt, when do you think you will do it?  Soon, I hope.  She deserves that much respect, you know, for you to free her if you two have no future together."  

"Aren't you a little pushy?" Matt glared.

"Just using my best-friend privilege card, that's all.  Plus, I'm using my brother-in-Christ card too."

"Yeah, yeah."  Then Matt got out his phone and rapidly typed out a message on twitter.  "There, are you happy?"

Tillie picked up his phone and her eyes got huge.  "You didn't send this did you?"

"Sure did." 

Fletch grabbed the phone out of Tillie's hands, and groaned.  "Oh, brother, you're in trouble now."

"Why?" Matt asked confused.  "I thought you two wanted me to move on with my life."  He read it aloud, "Man wants wife, two kids, dog and house with picket fence." I just posted it on twitter.

"If Diana sees this first, she'll think you are making a marriage proposal," Tillie informed him like she was talking to the village idiot.

"No way!"  He read it again, "Well, maybe.  I guess I better go see her.  She's on her phone constantly at work."

"Not only that," Tillie said with her hands on her hips, "You have no idea, mister, how many love forlorn females are out there who want what you just advertised, more than they to win the lottery.  You would have gotten less attention if you put up a billboard by the freeway with those words on it.  This is going to blow up the social media.  It doesn't help that you are so good looking."  Tilly hadn't meant to say that last part aloud, and she blushed when Matt jerked his eye up at her.

"You just opened a can of worms and threw your line into a lake full of piranhas,"  Fletcher said.

"You are going to be inundated, swamped, flooded, tsunamied," Tillie warned shaking her head.
Matt was looking a little pale.  His phone was already dinging.  He put his head down on the table banging it. 

"You'd better go see Diana right now, " Fletch advised.  "We can finish getting our Bible study ready later.  "You have a heart to go break, buddy."

Matt left with eyes that looked like a drowning man's begging to be rescued.  "Pray for me."

They both solemnly nodded their heads.  It was no laughing matter.

Matt caught his girlfriend at the end of her lunch break eating a deli cob salad at her desk.  When Diana saw him she jumped up dropping croutons everywhere, squealing and waving her phone.  "I got your message!" 

His stomach took a nose dive.  "It's not what you think, Diana."  He dropped his voice realizing everyone in her office was listening.  He whispered, "It's over.  I came to break up with you.  I've realized, it's just never going to work, you and me."

She looked stunned.  Dazed.  "You're kidding right?"

He shook his head.  "Look, I'm really sorry.  I wasn't thinking.  I sent that tweet out just to get Fletch off my back."

"He told you to break up with me?"  She was starting to get angry, and Diana angry was not a good thing.

"No, I told him I was going to do it.  It was dumb.  I'm sorry you saw it before I told you to your face."

"I HATE YOU!" she screamed with a face beginning to turn a scary shade of red. 

He turned to leave and saw everyone in every cubicle standing up watching what was going on.  Matt hurried away as fast as he could, but she still got him throwing her high heel hitting him right between his shoulder blades.  At least she missed him with her stapler.  He heard it crash behind him, but it slid along the tile almost tripping him.  When Matt pushed out the glass doors and got outside, he sprinted as if a rabid dog was chasing him.  Peeling out, he headed home to sort it all out.  He'd just lost more than two years of his life with that woman, and now he wondered why.  However when he got to his house, there was no where to park.  Strange cars were in his drive-way.  Cars were doubled parked in the street.  A camera man from a local television station was just pulling up. 

He got out and walked over to ask, "What's going on?" 

The guy threw his head back and laughed.  "You are, buddy.  Your tweet has spread like wild-fire.  See?"  the man pointed behind him.

Matt and glanced over his shoulder and paled.  Women were walking faster and faster,  then they broke out running towards him in mass.  He once again sprinted to his car.  The reporter was chasing him with a microphone with his camera man at his heels.  Matt had to push and shove a bit just to get into his car.  Once in, he swiftly locked his doors and carefully pulled out.  After ruining Diana's life, he did not want to run over another woman today.  It would be televised, after all.

Finally free, he sped to Fletch's house, jumped out and ran in.  He hadn't had to knock on their door since he was in third grade.  "FLETCH!  HELP!"  His buddy came running with Tillie right behind him.

"What happened?  Fletch asked.

"Are you alright?" Tillie looked him over for injuries.

He was still trying to catch his breath.  His heart was pounding and he felt weak in the knees.  "They're after me."

"Who?" his friends said in unison.

"Piranhas.  Women.  A whole herd of them.  I don't know a gaggle.   A flock of them of them landed on my house.  The T.V. crews are there and everything. 

"Your tweet," Tillie said knowingly as if she had been prophetic.

Suddenly, cars could be heard outside.  Matt looked out the front picture window.  "Oh, no, they followed me here.  What am I going to do?" 

Fletch scratched his head.  "I don't know.  This has never happened to me before," he said grinning.  "You're in uncharted territory, buddy.  Blaze your trail!"

Matt groaned.  Someone or a bunch of somebodies were knocking on the door and ringing the doorbell.   He went to hide out of sight in the kitchen.

"I'll get it." Tillie sighed as if resigned to this new fate.  Fletcher followed chuckling.   When she opened it, a couple women almost fell in.  "Excuse me,"  Tillie was indignant.  "Please back away from the door."

"Is Matthais Emerson here?" There was a chorus of that request while a reporter shouted over them, "Tell him we'd like an interview!"

"Sorry, he's not available and won't be.  He'd like some privacy."  Tillie said trying to pry someone's red nails from the door jam. 

"Maybe you should just tweet him back," Fletcher called.

"We all ready did," was echoed.  "Send him out!"

"No can do, ladies.  Have a good evening." Fletcher said shoving the door as  Tillie kicked some feet out of the way to allow it to close.  He locked it.

"What hath Matt wrought?"  Fletcher said.

"Desperate women for desperate times, I guess," Tillie shrugged.  "It just goes to show what our society has done to women in the name of giving them their liberty.  They've done it on one hand by rightfully opening up opportunities while with the other they're robbing them of their respect and decency by saturating them in a culture where sex appeal is everything, abortion is on demand, and marriage is not held up. People are just casually hooking up without cherishing or commitment.  No wonder they are clamoring after a man who is brave enough to say he wants a wife, two kids, a dog, and a house with a white picket fence.  Other than country music songs, it's getting kind of rare."

By then they were back in the kitchen.  Fletcher patted her on the back.  "Well said, little sister."

Matt looked up from where he'd put his head down on his arms on the counter and begged them beseechingly, "What am I going to do?"  Tillie went over and pulled the blinds since some stray female was looking in at them.

They stood around thinking.  Tillie chewed on a celery stick while Fletcher bit into an apple.  Matt was inhaling cookies like it was his last meal before the electric chair.

"How 'bout, you dress up in a wig and stuff and take Fletch's car.  You can go stay at your aunt and uncle's at the beach.  You'll need to wear it whenever you are out, Mr. Cross-Dresser."

He looked at her and grabbed her like he was going to kiss her, but dropped his hands as if she were scorching hot.  "You're a genius!"  Matt sighed. 





Fletch didn't look too happy but only said, "Give me your keys.  I don't want to be stranded."

Tillie left to go rummage through the closet where previous years' Halloween costumest were shoved inside.  She came out with a blonde wig, overly large sunglasses, and a huge nurse's scrub.  "Here, try these on."  Tillie tossed them to him.

She turned to go borrow her mother's lipstick, but he put his hands out.  "I'm drawing the line there.  No make-up."  Tillie shrugged.

They heard a commotion in the living room.  Just then their their dad squeezed in the door.  "Would somebody like to tell me what's going on?  It's a zoo out there!"

"Come in the kitchen, Dad,"  Tillie called.  "You might want to call mom and warn her to park around the corner and come in by way of the back yard through the hole in Mrs. Watson's hedge."

"Matt, are you alright?  You look sort of sick." Their dad loved Matt like a son.

"Is there a place reserved for idiots?" he asked.  "If so, I need to go there for the rest of eternity."

Fletch explained to their dad what was going on.  Their father just whistled.  "We'll have to watch the five o'clock news to strategize.  What about Diana?"  Matt groaned and dropped his head back down on his arms.

"He broke up with her today, and it didn't go over so well," Fletch explained.

Tillie glanced over at Matt.  He was sitting up again dragging his hands down his face.  She was glad he'd broken up with Diana even if he didn't mean anything by when he'd kissed her.  They both knew he shouldn't have done it.  Her face burned just thinking about it.  It's not like she'd had a lot of experience, but it was something she knew she'd never forget no matter how many times she told herself to forget him.  After all, it was Matthias Emmerson, her dreamboat.

Their doorbell kept ringing and women and reporters were knocking.  Their dad went into the living room and closed the curtains.  Just then their mother came breathlessly in the back door like she'd run a marathon.  "Some strange woman out there was chasing me.  It scared me to death!  What in heaven's name is happening?  And why is Matt wearing a wig and sunglasses?  You told me you'd explain when I got here."

Matt pulled his wig and sunglasses off and slammed them on the counter.  "I'm sorry, Mrs. Keller.  I've brought this all down on your heads just because of a stupid tweet."

They all began talking at once.  Their mom put her hands on her hips swiveling her head trying to  listen to one after the other.  When they were done, she said, "We need a spokesperson, the one designated to speak with the press.  I saw the newspaper reporter's truck driving right in front of me on the way here ."

"There's KNVR here too," Tilly said. 

"Honey, do you want to do it or shall I?" her mother asked.

"You're better at public speaking," their dad said.

"Okay, let's write it up, and then I'll go out and read it.  What do you want to say, Matt?"

He groaned, "Just make it all go away."

Fletch said, "Okay, let's think.  We could say it was a practical joke."

"You can't lie and expect God to bless it, son.  It wasn't a joke, was it?" their dad protested.

"No, sir," Matt said.  "Maybe I could claim insanity.  Now that's the truth."

Tilly could see her mother thinking, with her arms crossed and tapping her chin.  "How about if we say, that he is only willing to take letters through the mail the old fashioned way, like a mail-order bride, and that he will not consider any woman who stalks him or tries to talk to him in person.  They will automatically be out of the consideration."

"I like it," said their dad.

"It's better than nothing," said Fletch.

"You can try it," Tilly said skeptically.

"Anything.  Just say anything you can just to make them leave." 

"At least it will buy us some time to come up with a more permanent solution.  By the way, how did they find our house?"

"They followed me here.  Sorry,"  Matt said hanging his head.

"It's okay, sweetheart.  There's no classes to prepare you for a stampede of women hot on the trail of a husband.  Some men would love to trade you places."

Tilly couldn't help it.  She snickered.  But she asked, "So, are you spending the night, Matt?" 

"Maybe, if that's alright.  Then early in the morning I'll go to my aunt and uncle's.  Fletch is going to trade cars with me to throw them off my scent."

"I was going to order pizza for supper, but I don't know if a delivery person could get through.  Maybe I'll just make homemade mac and cheese instead.  Tillie get the water boiling and Fletch start grating cheese.  Matt get out the butter and milk."

"Sounds great," their dad said.  Just add lots of hot sauce."  Their mom kissed him on the cheek.

"Ready dear?  I'll do this, but I need you at my side," their mother sighed.  Everybody watched them walk to the door like they were Christians facing the lions, chins up, backs straight.  It was a cacophony out there when the door was opened, and they stood on their stoop facing the mob.  She read the statement, then their dad helped her back inside preventing the lungers from following them.

"Phew, glad that's done," their mom said.  "It's crazy out there!"

"You were wonderful, dear," their dad grinned.   

Fletch mused, "Just think, Matt.  Maybe there really is the right person for you out there.  Then you'll be able to laugh together someday at how your wife had to camp out on our lawn to wait for you."

"Camp out?" Tillie asked.

"So far, just a couple of tents," Fletch said peeking out of the curtains. 

"I. Am. So. Sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Keller."  Matt was the poster boy for contriteness with such a morose look that it was hard not to feel moved to pity him." 

"It's okay as long as they don't have any campfires," their dad smiled.

"Too late.  There's a bonfire in the middle of the street.  I think they are roasting hot dogs." Fletch was keeping watch peering out from the curtains.

"As long as it's not on our lawn," their mother said with thin lips swallowing hard trying to stay calm.

"It's alright, mom, the police are here now.  They'll...wait a minute.  I think they brought marshmallows!" Fletch reported.

"Well, let's see about our mac and cheese, shall we?" their mother said with forced brightness.


Just then a couple of girls burst through the back door startling them.  It was Jill, Fletch's girlfriend and April, a girl who'd had no problem letting it be known that she'd love to have Matt for a boyfriend if he ever became available.  Tillie sighed.  She'd forgotten about her.



Fletch hugged Jill.  "Are you alright?  Did you get roughed up making it through?"


"No, but isn't this fun!"

"No!" They all shouted.

Seeing Jill wilt, they all talked at once apologizing trying to make her feel better. 

"I can solve this," April boasted smugly when they quieted down.

"How?"  they all piped up.

"You can get engaged to me," she beamed, "just pretend, of course.  We can announce it on T.V. and it will be in the papers."

Matt faked a smile. "That's nice of you, April, but I can't let this get any more complicated than it already is."

She looked so crestfallen that he went over and hugged her sideways.  The girl put her arms around him so he was stuck there for a minute.  Matt finally broke free.

"I heard you broke up with Diana," she with all sugary sweetness, "and are available again."

"How'd you hear that?" he asked stunned.

"I'm friends with her on facebook.  But you don't want to go there for awhile.  It's not pretty.  You sound awful.  Tell me you didn't break up with her at work."  April looked at him with her pouty face.

"Yes, I did," he confessed.  "It was a big mistake, almost as big as this mess I created," Matt scowled.  

"It sounds like she got pretty angry."  April would not let it go.  "I've heard she has a terrible temper.  It's probably good you broke up with her.  I'm surprised you lasted this long."

By now, Tillie was glaring at her.  April did not know him that well and needed to mind her own business.

"Well next we need to take down all your social media site, Matt," their dad said.

"Yeah, huh, we should have thought of that first," Fletch agreed.

"They are probably tracking me by GPS in my phone.  I need to get that locator app switched off.  Wow, that's a lot of messages!" Matt said in shock glancing at his phone.

"You'll probably need a new phone or at least go in and try and change your number," their dad said.

"I'll just turn this one off for now," Matt said shaking his head.  "Campus Security isn't going to like this if they follow me to classes, nor my boss.  It could get me fired," Matt worried.

While the guys were putting their heads together to wipe out Matt's facebook, twitter, and email accounts, Tilly went to peek out the front curtains.  She could hear the music booming from outside clear inside.  "It looks more like a big dance party now.  A few reporters are in the middle of all those women dancing.  Oh, no!  Are those protestors?"


"What!  Let me see," her mom squeezed in to look.  "My goodness they are.  What on earth do they have to protest about?"  her mom wondered

Tilly read a few signs,  Hmm.  Let's see.  Of course there's "Sexist."  "Misogynist."  Oh here's a new one, "Why a dog? Why not two kids and a cat," or "Matt, who needs you?"  "We are women.  We stand on our own two feet." "Wow," Tilly said.  "Do these people have a life?"

Her mother peeked out again. "At least the police made them remove their tents from the lawn.  I mean I can't very well invite them in if they need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night."

"Looks like there's less than twenty or so die-hards left.  Maybe they took to heart what you said, mom."

"Poor Matt.  I wonder what got into him to put that out there on twitter?"

"I think it was the Bible study.  I mean one minute we were talking about Ephesians 5, and then BAM, the next he shows us what he tweeted.  I don't think men get it how most little girls dream of their prince coming on his white horse to her rescue.  I know it's not P.C. to talk like that anymore, but it is what it is.  They'll search through a field of four-leaf clovers to find a man like him.  He's their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow."

"I have to admit we raised you on those fairy tales," her mother agreed.

"You know, being a college town, I've seen a lot of women who have worked so hard to get their degree and then to start their career that when they look around to find a man, they find that the good marriage material has already been snatched up. Women are so pressured to have it all, an education and a profession before marriage and children, that a lot of them do feel a little desperate, like they've been lied to.  They've been through relationship after relationship by that time, that it seems the impossible dream that a man would cherish them."


"Poor boy.  We really need to pray for him.  He had no idea how he touched a nerve in a bunch of women's wishful thinking," her mom said.

"Poor boy?  Poor idiot," Tillie thought, but said aloud, "He touched a nerve, alright!"

"Done!"  We cleared out his accounts.   He can start over once this settles down in a day or two," their dad said looking happy when they walked back into the kitchen.

"Dad, this is not going away that easily.  Matt squeezed all the toothpaste out of the tube, and it's going to be next to impossible to put it back in," Tilly warned.

Matt who had been smiling in relief, suddenly looked worried again. 

"Let's eat," their mother called.  "We'll all feel better after we've eaten."

Since two more were seated at their table, Jill and April, they were going to have to make the casserole stretch.  Their dad bowed his head to pray over the meal.

"For this food we are about to receive, we thank you.  And Lord, we pray for Matt.  Please divide the sea of women so he can pass through.  Amen."

"Thank you, sir," Matt said gratefully.

Everyone watched as April was the first to help herself to the mac and cheese,  Tilly gaped as she scooped out at least a fourth of it onto her plate.  Fletch took a healthy amount while Matt absently took a goodly portion as well.  Her dad, did not take enough to sustain a child while Jill hardly took enough to fill a bird.  Her mother took even less.  Tilly scraped out the last six pieces of crusty macaroni that clung to the sides of the pan. It definitely was going to be a popcorn night. 

She watched as April took a bite then waved her hand in front of her mouth.  "Oh, this is hot!  I didn't expect that," she exclaimed before grabbing her glass of water."

"Throw salt on your tongue," her mother suggested.

"I'll eat yours if you don't want it," Fletch offered.

"Oh, no, I couldn't let you do that.  I'm getting a cold and wouldn't want to share germs." 

Her brother just eyed the plateful of untouched mac and cheese mournfully. 

"Well, there's pudding for dessert," their mother jumped up.  She'd eaten her helping in three small bites. 

Once again, by the time the serving bowl made its way around to her, there was hardly any left.  Tilly just swiped her finger around the bowl and licked it off.

Jill stood and said, "Come on, April.  I need to go home and study.  I have a big biology midterm tomorrow." 

April looked longingly over at Matt.  "Remember my offer Matt in case you decide you need to get engaged in order to call off the hounds."

"Thanks, April," he glanced up at her with a thin smile.

"Good luck," called Jill.

"Wait, let's get a selfie, of just us girls," April said. 

Tilly figured she probably wanted to post it on facebook in order to brag about being with Matt. She grabbed Jill to stand between them.

"Smile!" April said.  "Bye Matt.  Bye everyone." 

As soon as they were gone her mother asked, "Popcorn anyone?"

A resounding "Yes!" was heard, but Fletch was already grabbing April's leftovers and digging in.

"I almost forgot, we need to listen to the local news!" their dad said.  A search was on for the remote the next five minutes with everyone tossing couch cushions and on their hands and knees looking under every piece of furniture in the living room.

"Found it!" Tilly cried.  "It was by the television.

"Listen!" their mother said as the news was coming on.

Tilly thought it was creepy to see their house on television surrounded by strangers.  Some were taking selfies of each other while others looked ready to scratch it out in a cat fight.  The camera panned over to the chanting protesters yelling, "Down with Matt.  Up with women!"

"Oh, brother," Fletch roared with laughter.  "This is so rich!" 

Matt threw a couch pillow at him causing him to spill his bowl of popcorn.

"Boys!" their mother said sternly.  She'd perfected that tone to where she had to say no more.

"Sorry, Mrs. Keller." Matt said, but his eyes still shot daggers at Fletch.  

"We'll report back tomorrow as soon as there are new developments in the case of 'Man
Wants Wife.'  Back to you Tim."

"But they didn't show the part of my statement to the press!  How dare they not give the whole truth and nothing but the truth?  So help me!  I'm going to call the station right now."

"They're still parked outside mom, but I don't know if you want to go out there right now.  It looks like a mass yoga session going on." Tilly said peeking out the curtains again.

"Matt, you need to come see this.  It's your public," Fletch said.  Some of them aren't too bad, but there's some real cougars out there with their nails out and enough hair dye to make their own commercial."

"I'll pass," Matt sighed.  "It's rather strange having no phone or computer.  My books that I was going to study are out there in my car, but there is no way I'm stepping foot out that door."

"They're settling down now.  Someone brought out their guitar and they're singing, Kumbiya." Fletch reported.
 

The next morning when he woke up, he remembered and groaned.  He wanted to roll over, cover his head and hope it all went away.  But he knew he had to make his move early.  So while it was still dark, Matt darted outside in his wig and sunglasses.  His disguise worked.  He whistled all the way to his aunt and uncle's beach house so happy to have escaped. 

His aunt met him at the door.  "We were so worried about you, Matthias.  We saw it on television last night."

"We tried to call you, but couldn't get through.  That is just the craziest thing I've ever seen," his uncle said pounding him on the back. 

"Is it okay if I hide out here for a while, at least till things simmer down?"

"Of course, dear.  You know we always love having you here," his aunt said. 

Matt noticed her shoulders had begun to shake.  Then his uncle exploded with a big belly laugh.  His aunt must have been trying to hold back hers for she soon joined him in rollicking mirth.  His uncle held himself up with one arm against the wall heaving and the other on his shaking belly.  His aunt was bent over gasping trying to stop laughing. 

"Sorry, Matt.  I know this isn't funny to you right now, but some day you'll be able to laugh about this too," his aunt finally managed to say wiping the tears from her eyes.  She'd laughed 'till she'd cried.

"Maybe," he said a little put out with them.  It wasn't a laughing matter to him right now.  "I'm just hoping I won't have any trouble when I go to work this morning.  I had to wear a wig and glasses to escape the Keller's house already today.  I sure don't want to have to wear those to work."

This set his uncle off hee-hawing some more.  "I'd like to see that," he chortled.

"So what will you do?" his aunt asked.

"Hopefully they haven't found out where I work yet.  I just hope my boss did not watch the news last night," he said grimacing.  This would be hard to live down.

"Well, if you have time for breakfast, I'll make you a nice one before you leave for work."

But when he got to his office, he saw several suspicious cars in the parking lot.  He hoped no one looked out and saw him have to outrun five or six women, some of whom were pretty fast.  He told the office security not to let them in.  Matt plopped into his office chair, but his heart was still pounding.  His boss barged in. 

"Saw you on the news last night, Matthias.  I hope your fans won't interfere with our business here.  You are still on probation, you know."

"Yes, sir.  I hope they don't cause any trouble."

"Well, I'll give you forty-eight hours to get it cleared up or you can clear out your desk, understand?"

"Yes, sir."  When his boss left he closed his eyes and let out a sigh.  What now?  He had no idea how to keep from being chased.  "Dear Lord, please help me!" 

He did his best to concentrate on his work, but his co-workers kept sticking their heads in making snide remarks snickering.

"Hey, Matt, I got a dog for sale if you want one," or "Hey, Matt, how 'bought you hook me up with one of your harem?"  or "Hey, Matt, can I have your autograph since you're a reality T.V. star?"

A couple of the women in the office just glared at him.  He overheard one say, "He probably wants to keep a wife barefoot and pregnant for the next ten years.  I know his kind."  The other replied,  "I feel sorry for whoever he chooses."  But a third young woman he heard quip, "I don't know.  He's so cute maybe I might want to apply." Someone else said, "But I thought he already had a girlfriend."  "Guess not," another answered.

Some were still waiting when he got to the parking lot.  A couple of them almost reached him before he could get in Fletch's car trying to grab his sleeves.   He drove around hoping to lose them before he got to his aunt and uncle's house.  It looked safe enough so he pulled in next to his uncle's restored '57 Studebaker.  He was out washing it.

"Welcome back, Matt.  Have you given them all the slip?" he said grinning.

"I hope so."

"Your aunt has made your favorite, spaghetti and meatballs."

"Umm, that sure smells good," he told his aunt kissing her cheek.  "Do I have time to go for a walk on the beach before dinner?"

"Sure, it won't be ready for about an hour so you have plenty of time," she smiled.  "Rough day?"

"You bet," he sighed. 

By the time he came out after changing, he found Tilly waiting for him.  She handed him his books he'd left in his car.  "Thought you might need these.  Fletch asked me to bring them to you."

"Great.  Thanks.  I'm just going out to walk on the beach.  Do you want to come with me?" he asked glancing over at her.

"Sure."  Her eyes kept darting away from his.  That kiss had left them on an awkward footing.

They walked in silence for quite a while.  Then she'd asked him about his day.  He ended up telling her all about it, including the threat from his boss.  "I think I might need a plan B after all.  He only gave me forty-eight hours to clear it up...Maybe I should announce an engagement."


Tilly frowned.  "April is willing, I'm sure."

"No, not April.  She's too crafty and will make too much of it.  I don't want her claws in me.  How about you?"

Tilly froze.  He had walked on then turned to look at her.  "What?  Don't you think we could pull it off?"

"I'm not having you as my faux beau," she said through gritted teeth.  "No, thank you!"

"A faux--what is that anyway?"

"A fake boyfriend.  I'm not going there.  Find somebody else," she said with her arms crossed.

"But I can trust you, Tilly.  I don't know anyone else I can trust like I do you," he said putting his arm around her shoulders.

She shoved it off.  "No way.  I'm not going to be your fake fiancé."

"Please?" 

But she had turned and was marching back towards his aunt and uncle's house.  Suddenly, a couple of girls hollered, "That's him!"

Matt didn't wait to find out if they were chasing him.  He just grabbed Tilly's hand and ran. 

"Get in my car," Tilly yelled. "Here, you drive," she said tossing him her keys.

He drove up the coast looking back in the rear-view mirror often.  Then he pulled off in an out of the way scenic viewing point and turned off the car.  "Whew," he sighed.  "Let's wait and see if we lost them.  Do you see what I mean about needing Plan B?  Are you sure you won't marry me," he winked at her making her blush.


He had no idea what he was doing playing with her heart.  That is why she did not want to do this. But when she next glanced up, he was looking really upset.

"I'm probably going to lose my job if I don't get this straightened out by tomorrow."

She sighed.  "Okay, okay, I'll do it.  I know I'll be sorry, but I don't want you to be fired.  You worked hard too get that job."

He gazed at her with such a look of relief that she managed to smile.  "Wow.  I'm really engaged to Matthias Emerson.  You know I've had a crush on you since junior high.  I thought I'd never see this day," she quipped, half seriously but blushed furiously.

"Really," he said lifting her hand up to his lips making her eyes huge.  "We'll have to do this publically you know."

"In front of the T.V. cameras would be best," she scowled. 

They'd been sitting there the lone car in an empty parking lot, but a couple of cars pulled in beside them.  "Let's go," he said. 

They went back to his aunt and uncle's and overlooked the cars starting to park along the street.  Once inside they ignored the knocking on the door and the doorbell while they ate their dinner.
His uncle admitted, "I see why you said this is no laughing matter.  This is ridiculous."

"We've decided to announce our engagement to see if we can make it all stop," he told them.

"You two are getting married?" his aunt asked beginning to get all misty eyed.

"Not really.  I'll just be his fake fiancé," Tilly explained while looking miserable.

"What's more romantic than a proposal on the beach at sunset?  I have your grandmother's ring in my cedar chest you can use, Matt.  Honey, go call the television studio and tell them to hurry up and get here before they miss this story."

"Are you okay with that?" Matt asked her. 

"Let's do this, but I'm not very dressed up," she said looking down at her jeans and sloppy sweater.

"You always look beautiful to me," he said gazing at her.

"Th-thanks," she stammered as her heart was pounding.  This man had no idea what this was costing her heart.  She had dreamed of this for years, but now it was only pretend.  "When will be break off our engagement?"

"Let's worry about that later.  Right now, I'm about to ask the prettiest girl I know to marry me," he smiled looking down warmly at her.  "This means the world to me, Tilly.  I hope you know that."

She could only nod staring into his eyes.  Her heart was so swollen in her chest, it felt like it would explode. Tilly kept blinking to keep from crying.

"Here, dear.  I found the ring," his aunt said.  She smiled at Tilly.  "It couldn't go to a sweeter girl."

"There're on their way," his uncle announced.  They'll be here in twenty minutes or less."

"Let's go make a fire in the fire pit on the beach, for old times sake," he said pulling her up. 

"This is so romantic!" his aunt exclaimed.

Matt held Tilly's hand entwining their fingers.  Then she sat on a log while he built the fire.  A few people were watching them already.  He pulled her up and said, "Let's go for just a little walk," putting his arm around her shoulders tucking her up against him.

Oh, it felt too good.  Tilly felt like sobbing.  She bit her lip instead.  Fortunately, he didn't try to make her talk.

There was a bit of a commotion behind them. "Looks like the T.V. crew is setting up.  My aunt is showing them where.  Shall we do this?" he asked stroking her cheek gently.  "Sometimes I wish that I was good enough for you, Tilly.  I've always admired you, you might even say, desired you.  But you are so far above me, I could never hope."

Tilly stopped.  "What?" 

"I didn't dare look at you these past couple of years after I became a Christian.  I couldn't feed the desire, you know.  I think that's one reason I kept things dragging on with Diana, because in a weird way, I felt like she was all I deserved, even though I knew it wasn't right to still be dating a non-Christian."

Tilly responded still shocked.  "I knew you wouldn't look at me, but I thought it was because you were still ignoring your best friend's pesky sister.  Matt, don't you know that if God can forgive your past making you a new creature in Christ, I can too?"

He swept her up in a hug.  Then they stood there looking at each other with a million thoughts crashing like wave after wave.  Finally he said, "I think they are ready, Tilly, sweetheart.  Are you?"

She nodded, still stunned by his confession.  Hope could not stay down, but flickered like the lick of flame on dry tender.  By the time they stood by the bonfire and he went down on his knee, she was fully engulfed.  She forgot that he was her faux beau and that she was his fake fiancé.  It all seemed too real.

"Tilly would you marry me?" he asked solemnly.

The tears were coursing down her cheeks as she hoarsely said, "Yes.  Yes, I'll marry you, Matthias.

He placed the ring on her finger with a diamond that gleamed in the firelight.  Then he kissed her.  They forgot anyone was watching.  It was just the two of them kissing like lovers have on the beach at sunset ere time began.   Finally, he pulled back and said.  Do you want a man who wants a wife, two kids, a dog, and a house with a white picket fence?"

"I do," she sighed.  "And if any of those women come around, they'll have to get through me first, because I'm claiming you for myself, Matthias Emerson."

"No faux?" he asked.

"No fake," she said decidedly.

"Good!" he laughed swinging her around.  "This is great!"

They heard people clapping and turned around to see a small crowd had gathered.  The television reported said, "Well, that's a wrap, folks.  I guess this is the last we'll see of a Man Wants A Wife cause it looks like he's found one."  But the camera caught the disappointed faces of women who were walking away.










 
















































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