The Boyfriend Experiment


Her Story

ElisabethWhat would you do if one day, after learning your sister had just set you up on a blind date from 2,000 miles away, you blurted out that you had a boyfriend, but said boyfriend didn’t actually exist except in your wildest imaginings? This is the situation Beth Marshall faces after just such a phone call from her sister one July. Recently relocated to Kalispell, MT from Austin, Beth has had a blissful few months of no questions about men, marriage and kids from her family. She’s now working in a job she loves at the local newspaper, and loves the classes she’s taking at the local community college. She’s even found herself a couple of new best friends. The last thing she’d expected was a long-distance setup by her well-meaning sister, or the words emerging from her own mouth. Now, Beth finds herself in a sticky situation—does she admit she lied to her family to get them off her back about still being a single, childless thirty-something, especially when the rest of the family learns the “good news” and expects to meet him at their annual family reunion that fall, or does she try and find another way out?

Even after enlisting the help of her new friend Amanda, Beth is unable to come up with a viable solution to her problem. Resigned to the fact that she will indeed have to admit to her family that her boyfriend is more fiction than fact, she decides to put it off until the reunion in November. Still, she can’t help hoping that in the meantime, another solution will present itself…

His Story

SamWhat would you do if one day, after returning to the only place where you’d found comfort while your life fell apart, a friend introduced you to a woman who asked you to do a impossible favor? Furthermore, what would you do if, after discovering that a former, extremely young student believes the two of you are meant to be together for the rest of your lives, that impossible favor suddenly didn’t seem all that impossible anymore? For Sam Blackwell, this is his reality after meeting up with an old friend on the first day of classes at the local college. Having spent the last fourteen months watching his marriage disintegrate while his daughter died of cancer, Sam needed to get back to doing what he loves—teaching, theater, and the occasional a road trip on the back of his Indian motorcycle. He certainly hadn’t counted on the overzealous attentions of a blonde actress wannabe with delusions of happily-ever-after. Things only get worse when she continues to ignore his refusals of a relationship of any kind, romantic or otherwise, and goes so far to tell him she thinks it’s cute he’s trying to protect her.

When yet another post-class encounter with his self-proclaimed soul mate has him considering police intervention, it occurs to Sam that he might just have a different way out of this mess. The idea of pretending to be Beth’s boyfriend to help her save face with her family suddenly doesn’t seem so preposterous, not if her returning the favor will get Chelsea out of his life for good. Still, the idea of being in another relationship, no matter how fictional, has him praying he won’t have to play act for long…

Their Story, So Far

Sam and Beth have managed to weather the multitudes of introductions with little stress, lots of laughter and sneaking out to the hallway for a private moment or two together. Relieved at how well he’s getting along with her family, Beth especially enjoys watching him interact with, entertain and charm every one of her nieces and nephews. With only one couple left–her mom and dad–Beth can’t seem to relax, and neither can Sam. Despite the warm welcome he’s received so far, including an appropriately nosy interrogation by Beth’s brother, Sam can’t shake the odd feeling that something somewhere was brewing that could destroy the happy atmosphere of the reunion.

Meanwhile, Chelsea has arrived in California after finagling a last-minute ticket and a hotel (with help from her Daddy’s credit card) with only one thing on her mind: finding Sam wherever he is and getting him out of Beth’s clutches once and for all. Fortunately for her, help comes from two unlikely sources, one of whom could change her own future by her offer of assistance. Unfortunately for Sam and Beth, things are about to come to light that they would have preferred to stay in the dark just a little bit longer…


Start date: September 2006
NaNoWriMo years: 2006-2012
Word count to date: 198,311
Status: project currently on hold.


Playlists for Sam and Beth’s Story
Project ~ Experiment — the novel’s inspiration board
Project ~ Glitch — inspiration board for the sequel “Seven Year Glitch,” Chelsea and Kevin’s story, set ten years later.