DISCLAIMER: Copycat is the property of Jon Amiel and Warner Brothers, no infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

A New Beginning
By Ann


It's been six months since I was kidnapped by Peter Foley to re-enact Daryll Lee Cullum's failed crime scene. During this time, I've been in therapy and am happy to report I'm making great strides. Of course, I pay my psychiatrist a pretty penny to have our sessions in my home.

Not particularly keen on leaving the state of Indiana, I've settled in a small farmhouse miles away from the city. No one even knows I'm here except for my publisher, my doctor, and M. J. Monahan.

She's the one who suggested that I move away from the hustle and bustle of the city so, indirectly, M. J. is more responsible for my recovery than my doctor.

On the very first day in my secluded home, I was actually able to step outside and sit on the front porch with only a minimum of terror. Each day I've improved to the point of taking daily walks with my dog, Chester, and no, he doesn't have a limp.

I hope to be able to venture out to the small local grocery store sometime soon, but right now, M. J. is visiting every weekend and bringing me groceries and other essentials. I do have to admit that I enjoy her company from Friday evening until Monday morning. In fact, I've fallen in love with the diminutive police detective.

From the very beginning, M. J. was so adamant about my safety insisting that I put the house in my mother's maiden name, but the day she brought the gun to me; I absolutely refused to learn how to use it.

In true M. J. style, she slowly got me accustomed to it, and now I think I could probably give Annie Oakley a run for her money.

Moving my memories to more enjoyable events, I focus on how she always greets me with a hug and a smile. M. J. is the one responsible for getting me to take walks as well. She would hold my hand and encourage me to go further each day. She even bought me Chester so that I couldn't use the excuse of not walking during the week because I was alone. On the weekends, M. J. joins Chester and me, and she still holds my hand.

Speaking of Chester, I honestly don't know how I would have survived the weekdays without him. M. J. rescued him from an animal shelter and presented him to me as a housewarming gift. I balked at caring for an animal since I could barely take care of myself, but M. J. insisted that we could save each other. When I looked into Chester's soulful eyes, there was no way I could say no.

I'm brought back to the present when a bumping noise sounds at the door immediately followed by Chester's barking. I instantly begin to hyperventilate when I realize that Doctor Sawyer isn't coming this week and my publisher is out of town. Today's Wednesday so I know it isn't M. J. What should I do?

The bumping noise becomes louder, and Chester is trying to paw through the door. Realizing the time to act is now; I gain control of my breathing and rush to my bedroom. I hesitantly take the gun from the nightstand and slide the safety off. If my visitor is selling anything, I can bet he'll never come back when I answer the door with a loaded gun.

Carefully, I turn the deadbolt and then the doorknob keeping the gun at my side. As I open the door, a box falls toward me, and I reflexively bring the gun up to point at my assailant. M. J. immediately drops the other box and holds her hands up in a defensive position.

"Whoa Helen, it's me. Don't shoot," M. J. exclaims in an excited voice.

"Shit, M. J. Don't ever scare me like that again," I reply as I lower my weapon and place my free hand over my rapidly beating heart.

"Sorry," M. J. sheepishly answers as she looks down at the fallen boxes.

Chester has taken advantage of our short conversation to consume almost half the first dropped pizza before we are able to pull the box away. Damn, it was pepperoni too.

"Not that I'm not happy to see you, but what brings you here?" I ask the detective as I step back to allow her to enter with the still intact second pizza.

"I thought I'd surprise you and bring lunch; however, I think maybe I should have given you a call first," M. J. replies as she makes her way to the kitchen.

She grabs the plates, and I get our drinks as we continue to make small talk about her morning. We take a seat at the table and consume the salvaged pizza while Chester looks on hoping one of us will have a change of heart and give him a piece.

After rinsing off the dishes, we adjourn to the den, and we each take a seat on opposite sides of the couch while Chester invites himself to jump up and lay between us.

"Um, Helen? I took the rest of the week off and was hoping to spend it with you, if that's okay?" M. J. asks in an unsure tone.

Is she kidding? If it were up to me, she'd be here everyday.

"I'd love to have you, M. J. You know you don't ever have to ask," I respond hoping I didn't give anything away with the 'love' part.

"I think it's time you and I had a talk about where this friendship is heading," she offers in a soft voice.

Oh God, she's figured it out. She knows how I feel, and she's going to break off our friendship. I don't know if I can survive without her.

Bracing myself for rejection, I take a few deep breaths.

"I'd like to deepen this friendship and see where it takes us," M. J. says with a beautiful smile.

What? Deepen the friendship? But that would mean …..

M. J. reaches out her hand, and I stare in disbelief at her offering. With a slight tremor, I take hers in mine, and she brings out joined hands down to rest on the couch.

I can't take my eyes off her small hand noting how comfortably it fits in mine.

Chester must have been tracking our movements because minutes after our hands touch the fabric of the sofa, he lays his head on top and looks back and forth between us.

Laughing, we reach down and pat his head with our free hand.

Looks like this new friendship is off to a good start; although, I can honestly say I've never had a relationship blessed by a dog before.

The End

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