Home > Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)(11)

Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)(11)
Author: Kristen Ashley

“What did I say?” she asked, grinning at me.

“You don’t lie,” I replied, grinning back at her.

“Oh yes I do, ma chérie,” she informed me, lifting her other hand with thumb and forefinger an inch apart then she leaned closer and whispered, “Petites bombards, to Thomas, after shopping.”

My grin became a smile and I noticed Thomas and the maitre d’ had stopped so I looked to him and our table and that was when I saw Sampson Cooper three tables down, sitting facing me and across from him was a brunette. Her back was to me but I could still see she had on a fabulous dress, she had unbelievably beautiful, glossy, long, thick, dark hair and an amazing figure if her shoulders, slim arms and the line of her exposed back were anything to go by.

I stopped breathing again and this time it didn’t feel so good.





There it was. I was an idiot. I’d totally misread the situation. Clearly, his supermodel-esque girlfriend slept in or skipped breakfast in order to do pilates or something. And he was just being nice to me.


Luckily this time Thomas guided me to the side of the table where I’d have my back to Sam and his woman. Even more fortunately, he did this before Sam saw me.

The maitre d’ held my chair and pushed it in while Thomas moved to do the same with Celeste across from me.

I looked to the lake and my heart restarted but my stomach felt funny and that didn’t feel so good either.

It was late. They ate late here or at least Celeste and Thomas did. They’d picked me up at eight thirty. The sun was beginning to set on the lake and the view was amazing.

I still wanted to cry.

“Kia, is everything all right?” Celeste’s melodious, French-accented voice came at me and I looked to her.

I had to get myself together.

Okay, I was an idiot. Three days ago, I had breakfast with my fantasy man and stupidly thought that I’d see him again. I had not allowed myself to fantasize about what seeing him would mean; I was smart enough not to set myself up for that kind of disappointment. I just looked forward to doing it because he was a nice guy and, in the end when he got me to relax, he was easy to talk to.

But I didn’t think when I’d see him he would be with a beautiful woman.

That sucked.

But, whatever.


I was in a fabulous dress and fantastic shoes, sitting in a beautiful restaurant next to a world famous lake with people who were worldly yet kind.

And a year ago I was in a rotten marriage with an abusive husband and I’d given up on life because I’d convinced myself there was no way out.

Sam probably barely remembered me, considering how many people he had to meet in his life. He certainly wouldn’t recognize me from the back.

So. Onward.


This was my motto since Cooter took a shotgun blast to the head.

Freaking onward.

I smiled at Celeste and whispered, “Better than all right. Thank you so much for bringing me here. I don’t even have to eat and it’s my most favorite restaurant in the world.”

Celeste smiled at me as she reached across the table, took my hand and gave it a squeeze. I squeezed hers back. Then I smiled at Thomas.

Then I took the menu I belatedly noticed the maitre d’ holding out to me.

* * * * *

I was sitting on the balcony of my hotel with a snifter in my hand filled with one piece of ice and a healthy dose of Amaretto.

I’d ordered a double.

Dinner was delicious. The company even better. And Sam hadn’t noticed me.

He also hadn’t left (not that I noticed, unless there was another exit) by the time we left. He would have to walk by our table and he didn’t. I didn’t want to be but I was on edge all night, waiting for him to do it and hoping he didn’t notice me.

But, even though we ate four seriously delicious courses and took our time, he did not walk by our table.

And when we left, I made certain to get up and walk out without looking back. I put everything into doing it casually, appearing natural so Sam wouldn’t read the effort like he’d done at breakfast.

But it didn’t matter if I pulled it off or not. Even if he noticed and recognized me, it was highly likely he wouldn’t care. In fact, he told me himself such behavior would be a relief.

So there I was, having a nightcap, staring at the dark waters and the blinking lights dotting the sides of the lake and doing this because I was really full and would never sleep even if it was way late but also because, even if I was alone on the balcony and no one could see me, I really didn’t want to take my fabulous outfit off yet.

I lifted my snifter and took a sip. I’d always liked Amaretto. My mother drank Amaretto sours everywhere she went. She made desserts with Amaretto in them. Dad had bought her an expensive set of Waterford snifters for Christmas when I was ten years old so she could further enjoy her Amaretto. She was an Amaretto freak. We had a bottle in our house at all times.

This she had given to me. I loved Amaretto too. Though, when Cooter was alive, the bottle I kept in the house I hid because it pissed Cooter off I spent so much on a bottle of liqueur I sipped on a very rare occasion when he wasn’t around. Clearly, he didn’t think me going through a bottle of Amaretto once every year and a half and him going through a case of beer once a week was fair.

On this thought, my eyes welled with tears and I pulled in a deep breath, rethinking my solitude and my double of almond liqueur on top of three glasses of wine at dinner.

This had been happening unexpectedly, mysteriously and with relative frequency since the day after my plane touched down in Paris. I had not shed tear one since Ozzie came to the house and broke the news, I hadn’t even felt my nose sting but since I started my vacation, it seemed to happen all the time.

I had no idea why and I had, until that moment, been so busy I was able to power through it without giving any headspace to wondering why.

But now, alone, sated, a wee bit tipsy, relaxed, my guard was down and my head flooded.

And it flooded with a memory, years ago, of having dinner at Mom and Dad’s house. After dinner, Dad and Cooter had gone into the living room to watch something on TV and Mom and I had done the dishes. When we were finished, we sat down at the dining room table which we were wont to do when Dad and Cooter were lapsing into food comas in front of the TV (Mom was a comfort food cook, as in, that was all she ever made) and it was time to right all the wrongs in the world.

It was just that, that night, Mom had a specific wrong she wanted to right.

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