“Imitated.”

“I beg your pardon?”  I asked, looking up from my crossword puzzle.  I was so engrossed, I hadn’t notice him sitting down next to me on the park bench.

“The word you’re looking for, thirty-five down, is ‘imitated’.”

“So it is.  Thanks.”

“I’m Ned Ross.”  He offered me his hand.

I shook it.

“I’m Betty Fiori.”

“Do you believe in love at first sight, Betty?”

“I think I’m experiencing it right now.”  I pointed to his side.  “Who’s your friend?”

He gave a long-suffering sigh.  “Typical.  The girls are always interested in him.  I might as well be a fly on the wall.  Allow me to introduced you to King.”

“It’s nice to meet you both.”  I offered my hand to the mastiff.  He sniffed it and moved closer so I could pet him.  “You’re a handsome boy.”

“I’ll pretend you’re talking to me.”  He handed me a white cotton handkerchief.  “Sorry about the slobber.”

“I knew the risk when I befriended him.”  I wiped off King’s drool, impressed to find someone who still carried handkerchiefs.

“You’re new in town.”

“How’d you guess?”  I expected him to use some cheesy pickup line about never forgetting a pretty face.

“I know everyone in Greenville.”

“The town’s that small?”

“I’d argue it’s just right.”

“Since I chose to live here, I won’t disagree.”

“I’d love to show you around.  The village consists of old churches, beautiful Victorian homes and quaint shops.”

“That would be nice.”

“Are you living in Mrs. Miller’s boarding house?”

“No.  I’m staying with my aunt, Camilla Porter.”

“She runs the library, and her husband, Al, works for the post office.”

“You really do know everyone in this town.”

“A lie would be a crummy way to start off a friendship.”

I made my first friend.

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