Home > Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)

Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)
Author: Kristen Ashley



The television was on and I heard him. Like his voice was a magnet, even though I wanted to avoid that room, would do anything to avoid it unless ordered otherwise, my body floated from the kitchen to the living room.

Cooter was in his easy chair watching it and, automatically, my body stopped nowhere near his chair.

And my eyes were riveted to the television screen, watching the gorgeous man with his white smile and intelligent eyes talking to the sports commentators.

They were probably talking about football, something I had absolutely no interest in whatsoever. But I knew a lot about it. This was because Cooter lived and breathed football during football season. He was quarterback at our high school, popular, hot, God, I’d wanted him. So young, so fit, so talented, so cool, so beautiful.

And, dream of dreams, when I was a junior and he was a senior, he’d picked me.

I was in heaven.

Three years later, that heaven turned to hell.

I heard a yapping but ignored it. This was Cooter’s dog, Memphis saying hello to me.

When Cooter got Memphis everyone in town was shocked. Cooter was definitely a pit bull or Rottweiler type of guy and not because both those types of dogs were really cute but for other reasons. So when he came home with a brown and white King Charles spaniel; I was stunned. When he proceeded to dote on that dog like it was his child, I was freaked. I didn’t think Cooter had an ounce of affection in him available to give to anyone, no human and certainly no dog.

But there you go. He did. He adored Memphis. Completely.

He’d named her Memphis with the declaration, “Fuck the redcoats,” like the English were still our enemies and him naming a spaniel after an American city would offend them in some way that would cause nationwide distress.

Then again, Cooter had a full supply of animosity for a lot of people, places and things and he kept it stocked up.

Not to mention, Cooter was the quarterback of a winning team in a small town that lived football and therefore he hadn’t had to worry too much about books and, not knowing this then, but definitely knowing it now, he was scary lazy so if he didn’t have to do it, he didn’t.

So he didn’t. I wasn’t certain he cracked open a book throughout high school. But I was certain he didn’t do it in his very short tenure in college.

Therefore, Cooter was not the brightest bulb in the box.

“And there he is, folks, Sampson Cooper, thanks for stoppin’ in, Coop,” the commentator said and I watched Sampson Cooper smile.

My heart fluttered.

Sampson Cooper. Very tall. Very dark. Very beautiful.

I adored him. When Cooter was out of the house, I internet stalked him. I knew everything about him.


Well, everything you could learn on the internet.

I knew his stats when he played college ball. I knew his stats when he played pro ball. I knew the exact day he requested to be released from his contract playing for the Indianapolis Colts so he could join the Army. I knew he did this in memory of his brother, who had died in Iraq and he’d died a hero. I knew this upset Sampson Cooper greatly. I knew, not long after he joined the Army, he’d disappeared “off the grid” for four years. I also knew when he came back. And lastly I, and everyone probably in the world, knew what he did when he was “off the grid” considering a tell-all (but anonymous) book was written about it and a big investigation was launched when it was. Therefore, I knew what he did was dangerous in a way people like me couldn’t comprehend the level of danger. I knew it was also heroic. And lastly I knew that he tried to keep a low profile but when he found this impossible, he’d come out into the limelight and stayed there but I guessed he did this because, at least, if it was his choice, he had some slim chance of controlling it.

“Anytime, Frank,” Sampson Cooper replied, his voice deep and weirdly rough, not rough like sandpaper, rough like velvet.

My stomach melted.

“Babe!” Cooter snapped, I jumped and my eyes shot to him.

Oh no.

He was getting out of his chair and now, ten years later, he was no longer fit (in fact, he had a serious beer belly which was only partly due to his copious consumption of beer, the other part was food and the last part was being seriously lazy). I’d discovered he was not talented at all. He was definitely not cool. And he was anything but beautiful.

At the look on his face, my mind became consumed with what my next move would be. I knew one thing; I had a fifty-fifty shot at success. I could take a step back and piss him off more (for whatever reason he was pissed off) which would make it worse but conversely it could serve as a deterrent, snapping him out of whatever mood had hold of him, or I could stand my ground which also led to both options.

Like often happened, I chose wrongly and my choice was to take a step back.

He advanced quickly and no matter how much of a beer belly he had, my husband could move.

I didn’t have a prayer to avoid it, I’d learned that but, still, I tried.

As usual, I wasn’t fast enough.

He got close and backhanded me hard. With some experience, it was at the upper end of the scale of how hard he could hit me. I knew this because it hurt like a bitch and also because I flew to the side and landed hard on a hand and hip, I lost focus on the pain in my cheek when the pain radiating up my arm from my wrist took precedence.

Then he kicked me in the back. I bit back my cry at this new pain focus and thanked God he was only wearing a sock. When he kicked me, he did it no matter what footwear he was wearing and since his job meant he had to wear steel-toed boots, I’d learned a sock was far, far better.

“I said,” he snarled and I sucked in breath and stared at the carpet, “get me a f**kin’ beer.”

A beer.

I’d been watching Sampson Cooper, mesmerized by a beautiful man, a good man, a strong man, a loyal man, a loving man and I’d missed my husband, who was none of those things, asking for a beer.

And he hit and kicked me because I hadn’t jumped at his command.

God, God, I hated my f**king husband.

I stayed prone and kept my eyes from him. Again, it was a crapshoot how he would react to this.

Luckily, his presence retreated.

When it did, the beautiful Sampson Cooper was the last thing on my mind.

Getting my husband a beer was the only thing on it.

So I carefully but swiftly pulled myself to my feet and got Cooter a beer.

* * * * *

Two months, three days, four hours and thirteen minutes later…

The doorbell rang.

Memphis yapped at it.

I moved toward it.

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