Chapter 2

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The patio door slammed shut with a loud bang causing the windows to shake and an echo to reverberate through the nearly empty beach house. Velvety chocolate brown ears perked up and swiveled back towards the source of the noise, the dog looking for a reason to leap into action.

"It's okay Scout," Ali reassured her companion, tossing her laptop on the couch. She reached down and scratched said ears before planting a soft kiss on the top of the dog's head. "Just the wind."

The wind had once again picked up, forcing Ali to give up her plan of writing outside on the deck and driving her back inside. Light flooded the open concept beach house through floor to ceiling windows across the expanse of the house. It faced the water, giving the illusion of being one with the local environment. Growing up on the west coast, Ali Stinson was used to spending time actually outside with mother nature, not just looking at it.

Since moving here to the east coast, the climate had constantly challenged Ali's attempts to maintain her outdoorsy persona. She now owned a collection of scarves that were functional as well as fashionable. The concept of "the sweater" had also shifted from an optional item to a wardrobe necessity and a mainstay of her daily attire. It had been a long time since Ali had worn a bikini.

The thought made her smile, reminding her of the day she first met Sam Freemont. It seemed a lifetime ago and a world away. In reality, it was less than six months ago but what a six months it had been. Ali could honestly say she felt like a different person now. And it was about more than a simple wardrobe change.

It was about love.

Love had changed everything. Love had entered her life like a lightning bolt, illuminating her world. Love had pulled her out of meaningless existence and filled her days and nights with value, purpose and the best sex of her life. She was grateful for it all. Most of all, Ali was grateful for Sam.

She had encountered him as Sam Freemont but soon learned his full name was Sam Freemont Harrington. Escaping his own personal demon, the golden-haired man with gorgeous green eyes was eking out a living when they chanced to meet. That fateful day, Ali had been looking for another meaningless hook-up to pass the time. What she got was exactly the opposite – a meaningful relationship.

Sam had met her with kindness, compassion and a fierce loyalty that tore down the walls Ali had spent years building. Of course, his kisses helped a lot. The man was skilled in many areas and his hands could perform miracles, never mind other appendages. Still, Sam could win the Olympics if kissing was allowed as a sport. Ali brought her fingers to her lips, recalling their goodbye kiss at the train station on Sunday night.

Sam had nearly missed the train. Ali could tell he was hesitant to leave, probably because he was breaking a promise to her. One of the reasons why they had moved out east was to fulfill Sam's obligation to his father to be involved in the family business. Until their new apartment in the city was ready, they were currently residing in his parent's beach house out in the Hamptons.

Not wanting to leave Ali alone, Sam had offered to commute each day to his new job located in the heart of New York. Ali appreciated the gesture but knew it was not feasible. So they had come up with a compromise. Sam would stay at a hotel in the city Monday to Wednesday coming back to her on Thursday evening to spend the weekend together.

The plan had worked well for the first two weeks. New found responsibilities forced Sam to be in the city for an early morning meeting this last Monday. He broke the news to her yesterday that he would not make it home tonight either, a commitment on Friday had to be honoured. Sam had been upset but Ali reminded him that the work he was doing with the company's charitable foundation was worth the small sacrifice on their part.

It had sounded like a good idea at the time. Selfishly Ali was now regretting the decision, desperately missing her boyfriend. Biting her lip, Ali considered doing something foolish. She looked at Scout for confirmation. "Should I?"

As usual, the dog played Switzerland.

Making her way to the bedroom Ali stripped off the bulky sweater and began searching for something more appropriate for what she had in mind.

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