Chapter 1

It was one of Ashley's rare days off. But in this particular city she was not Ashley, she was Sam, here for a business meeting regarding new computer software. Ashley always chose computer software meeting as her cover because it was the rare person who actually asked her to delve into her line of work and the meeting she planned to attend. Ashley, or Sam, was casually sipping a coffee and reading the morning paper despite it being late into the afternoon. Ashley had noted the two men on their lunch break quietly chatting in the back, she also noted the 19-year old girl furiously typing away on her computer, and the single security camera pointed at the door that failed to record a thing. Ashley let out a sigh; noticing everyone and everything in a room was another side effect of her job, despite her day off. What was even more rare than a day off, was Ashley actually being able to take a step away from her job and enjoy the sunshine outside.

It had been a long 13 years since the CIA picked her up at the ripe age of 15. She was technically an orphan at that point and decided that training with the recruiter that approached her was a better option than being sent to a home. After being in the service for so long, it was hard to even think about turning off her training, let alone knowing how to enjoy time away from the job. She was here on a routine mission, steal some papers that could lead to weapon smuggling into the US, but she wouldn't think about her assignment today; today was her day off.

As Ashley flipped back towards the comic strips of her paper (a secret guilty pleasure she had) a disheveled blonde was huffing above her table with a look of panic in her eyes. Before Ashley could react, could even comprehend why this woman was standing in front of her, the blonde opened her mouth and words fell out that seemed even more disheveled than the blonde.

"You must be Ashley!" Ashley opened her mouth to object (because in this town she was Sam) while slowly reaching towards her bag where she kept her gun (despite her day off), but stopped when she heard the blonde ramble on. "I am sooo sorry I am late! Chelsea is going to kill me when she finds out that I was late for our blind date! I mean for god's sake she goes through all this trouble, and you agree to meet me and I'm half an hour late! You must hate me!"

Ashley instantly relaxed, obviously this girl is meeting someone because Ashley sure as hell did not know any Chelsea, and it is just a large coincidence that the girl happened to be named Ashley as well. Ashley took a moment to soak the blonde in. She was beautiful, without a doubt. Her long blonde hair framed her face perfectly despite looking like it hadn't seen a brush today. The rambling blonde was tall, slightly taller than Ashley herself. She was in her mid twenties and was dressed very casually. A ratty blue t-shirt that brought out her eyes, a loose pair of jeans, topped with a pair of old converse. She had a small tattoo inside her left hand wrist, and she seemed like a runner. Ashley was again about to interrupt this girl, but could not find a place to stop her from speaking. Ashley lifted an eyebrow and a small smirk formed on her face.

"And now do you not only hate me, you think I am crazy! Crazy old Spencer freaking out her blind date. But I have a semi-valid excuse as to why I was late. You see last night I woke up from the strangest dream and I just had to put it down on paper, and I kept writing and writing and when I looked at the clock I realized I was SO late to meet you. Well, okay, maybe it isn't a valid reason to be late, but sometimes I just get so wrapped up in it."

And finally Ashley had her opening to put the rambling blonde at ease. "You are a writer? What kind of writer?" Ashley was shocked. That was definitely not what she was planning to say. But there was something about the blonde, this Spencer, that amused Ashley. It couldn't hurt to talk to this girl for a minute; it was, after all, her day off.

"Well I take it you don't hate me then! Good!" And with that the blonde threw her bag down and plopped into the seat across from Ashley. To Ashley's surprise Spencer grabbed the paper out of her hand and flipped it to the front page. Spencer then threw it down in front of Ashley. In the right hand corner was an article that a Spencer Carlin had written and even taken photos for. It was a piece that centered on one of the local 4th graders saving an elderly lady from a burning house. Ashley looked up in surprise.

"I only write for the newspaper as a hobby. I am actually working on my third novel, but before you ask, none of them have been published. In fact, the first two have only been read by two people, and that is including myself. I am actually a doctor over at the local hospital. But writing, writing is what I do." At this point Spencer was looking down at the table with a small blush on her face; Ashley couldn't help but notice it was extremely cute.

"If you don't let anyone read your books why write them? Or why write for the paper when you are so nervous to show your work to people?" Ashley asked hoping these questions would bring Spencer's eyes back to meet hers.

"I don't write for anyone else, I write because my ideas, my stories, my characters don't leave my head until they are on paper, until I can breathe life into them. My writing is not so it can be acclaimed or even read by others, it is so I can feel peace because if I don't put it on paper, I never feel calm, only a constant nagging of wanting to leave my brain and finding a place on paper. And my newspaper job has never been a dream of mine. I mean who would dream to write for a paper this small, in a town this boring? I am among the few in this town that have gotten a degree in English, and I suppose the local newspaper thought I was a steal. Most people that work on the paper carry other jobs also. You should know this considering you live here and all Ashley."

Ashley winced at the reminder that this conversation is based on a misunderstanding, a misunderstanding that only Ashley knew about. What concerned Ashley more was the fact that she winced at this lie, or as the case may be, a withholding of the truth. Ashley's job and life were based on her ability to lie, and to lie with ease, but there she sat, uneasy about the lie that was floating between her and Spencer. Ashley should tell Spencer her cover story and make Spencer leave. Ashley was on a job, despite having the day off, and this would only complicate things. The problem is what Spencer said was interesting. Ashley actually liked this laid back, disheveled blonde that spoke a mile a minute. She was intrigued to find someone that held such a passion for what she did. Spencer was simply working because she loved it. While Ashley enjoyed the romance, the action, the adrenaline of her job, it was far from the passion this girl was claiming to experience, it was simply the best option for Ashley at the time.

Sidestepping Spencer's reference to the Ashley she was suppose to meet, Ashley asked, "Well how long have you been writing for Spencer? I mean that kind of passion had to have started early. And if you don't mind me asking, how do writing and being a doctor have anything to do with one another?"

Spencer was shocked with Ashley's interest in her life, or at least what considered Spencer considered her life - her writing. She was skeptical when her well meaning friend Chelsea decided it was time for Spencer to have a love affair with someone that did not live in the stacks and stacks of books that littered Spencer's apartment.

Chelsea had described Ashley as a very serious businesswoman. Chelsea also described Ashley as the most grown-up person she had ever met, but she was absolutely gorgeous. On that count Chelsea was right. The woman sitting before her was breathtakingly beautiful; her dark curls surrounding her perfect face. And her body was amazing. Ashley was physically perfect, and it seems impossible that someone that beautiful was single.

Spencer had expected a woman dressed in a power suit, too stressed to think or even pay attention to Spencer, and would look down upon her artsy work and lifestyle. She expected question after question about why she didn't devote the same passion to being a doctor. But this girl did not seem so adult and serious, and she seemed far more impressed with her writing than her job as a local doctor. No she wasn't what Spencer expected; after all, Ashley was wearing jeans and a hoodie, and Spencer was sure she was reading Garfield in the comic section, far from super serious adult type. It was also refreshing to find someone that actually took Spencer's passion seriously.

"Oddly enough I only started writing right before I left high school. Before that my life revolved around books. I suppose one leads to another. But books, my god, I am surprised I had any friends while growing up considering how much I read. I loved getting lost in other people's lives and romances, and excitement. I guess it is a consequence of growing up in this dull little town. I wanted to live a life full of adventure and passion and everything that those books held. But it wasn't until the end of high school that I started writing. I had this English teacher, and I would always argue with her over the endings of all the books she assigned. I did not care for a lot of them, I thought they should have ended this way, or developed this character more and so on. I would always fight and she would state, 'These are the classics! If you can do so much better than why don't you write them yourself?' So finally I took her advice. I rewrote the end of one of the novels and submitted it as my personal essays to college, along with sending that bitch a copy too. Surprisingly, I got in to all the schools I applied to. After that all of my own ideas came to me, and I just couldn't stop. I guess I should be grateful to my teacher, but I just can't bring myself to like her on any level." Spencer laughed at the end of her story and Ashley, to her surprise, was laughing with her. It was a genuine laugh; it seemed like forever since that had happened.

Spencer continued, "At school I studied English and also Pre-Med. My mother was the local doctor here, and I loved the idea of helping people, and following in her footsteps. So I went through med school and took over my mother's position at the hospital. I may be young, but in a town like this, with references from my mother, it wasn't too hard to get a good position at the hospital. I guess I lucked out with that one."

Both girls were chuckling again. Once their laughter died down they both looked at each other with a smile. Ashley was the first to break the eye contact to realize Spencer did not have anything to drink. Ashley waved over a waitress and turned back to Spencer, "So Spencer, what would you like to drink?"

The waitress looked at Spencer and quickly interrupted her, "Oh! You're Spencer! You are here to meet a date right? Well Ashley left her about 30 minutes before you got here and asked me to give you her card so you can reschedule. She said she was called into an emergency business meeting and she was sorry she could not stay! So what can I get you?"

Spencer looked at the waitress in shock. Wasn't this her date sitting across from her? She glanced down at the card the waitress handed her reading the name Ashley Stanford, then noticed Ashley's cup on the table, which was labeled Sam. Spencer looked up at her date and could read the slight panic and discomfort in the brunette's chocolate eyes. Shit. Spencer abruptly stood up.

The waitress mumbled out "I'll give you guys a minute" before rushing off. Ashley had never wanted to injure a civilian more than that stupid little waitress. Spencer was standing, looking mighty pissed and confused.

"What the hell kind of game do you think you are trying to play here? Why didn't you say anything? What is wrong with you?" The yelling blonde got the attention of both guys in the back and the 19-year old girl. Ashley knew she should just let her storm out, should just let it go at this. She was compromising everything, but this had been her best day off in a while. It was the first time she felt relaxed in years.

"Spencer I am so sorry! Let me ex-"

"Don't use my name! I don't even know who you are! Sam, right? Go to hell Sam." And with that the blonde grabbed her bag and rushed out. Ashley was left standing alone at her table, with the three customers and the waitress all giving her strange looks. The brunette was at a loss for what to do; despite her training and despite her logical side encouraging her to let this go, she found herself collecting her things to go and find Spencer.