Home > Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)(2)

Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)(2)
Author: Kristen Ashley

Then Memphis yapped at my heels.

I sighed.

I loved dogs. I loved all animals, actually. Save snakes, they freaked me out. And lizards, they freaked me out too. And I wasn’t really big on rodents of any kind. No, that wasn’t true, hamsters were kind of cute.

But I could not pull up any affection for a dog Cooter loved. It wasn’t that she wasn’t cute, cuddly and sweet, even to me.

It was just that, anytime Memphis showed me any affection, it pissed Cooter off.

So I guessed that was it.

I did what I could not to piss Cooter off, including holding myself distant from our dog, even when he was not around.

Memphis, of course, had no idea what her being sweet to me meant. Memphis only knew Cooter’s devotion and did not get why she didn’t get the same from me. I had to give it to the dog, she never gave up. No matter how much I ignored her, she just got cuter, cuddlier and sweeter.

I admired her for that.

I’d given up years ago.

I looked through the peephole and blinked.

Then my heart started racing.

Then, in the expanse of about three seconds, my mind flew in a million different directions finally settling on one.

It was after six o’clock.

Cooter was usually home by five fifteen.

That said, if he wanted to have a beer with the guys or whatever he did, when he didn’t come home, he did it and didn’t bother to phone, text or pop home to let me know. Lately, this happened more often than not. And the lately that included most recently, Cooter didn’t come home until almost nine o’clock.

I wanted to enjoy these moments of reprieve but I couldn’t. Mostly because the time he was away and I was home I spent worrying about what mood he’d be in when he got home. He could be drunk and pissed, which did not bode well or he could be sober and pissed, which also did not bode well, or he could be either and horny, which was worst of all. Lately, he came back smelling of beer but not drunk and always horny but in a way that made my skin crawl even more than it normally did at the thought of him touching me and that was saying something. Nothing had really changed with our sex life except he got more into it (which also was not fun for me) and he lasted longer (again with the no fun part) and it seemed he was getting off on it more, was more excited and I did nothing (not one thing) differently to cause that.

But right then, Ozzie was standing outside my door.

Barney “Ozzie” Oswald had been Sheriff for as long as I could remember. He had to be older than dirt but he still looked fit, spritely and alert. He always looked fit, spritely and alert.

And now, with him on my doorstep, he looked all those things but something else too.

I opened the door, smiled and whispered, “Hey, Ozzie.”

At my whisper, which was pretty much my normal tone, I was cautious with everything including the volume of my voice, Ozzie did a mini-flinch.

I had known Ozzie as Sheriff for years and Ozzie knew everyone in that town for years too, including me and he knew me pretty well considering he was a hunting buddy of my Dad’s. He’d known me since I was a little girl. He knew, ten years ago, I didn’t whisper. And I suspected he knew why I did it now.

“Kia, darlin’, can I come in?” he asked, his tone was also quiet, though not a whisper. And it was gentle. Then again, it was always a form of gentle. That was Ozzie. He was Sheriff but he was a gentle man.

I loved Ozzie. The whole town did.

“Sure,” I replied, pushing out the screen door and Memphis moved instantly, yapping and jumping around Ozzie’s ankles in a tizzy of excitement but, unless she was sleeping or snuggling, she was usually always in a tizzy of excitement.

This was because Memphis’s world was golden. She loved her Daddy. Her Daddy got her the best food money could buy. Her Daddy gave her table scraps. Her Daddy showered her with affection. Her Daddy bought her new toys and chews all the time. Her Daddy liberally gave her treats. Her Daddy let her sleep in our bed, right in the middle, stretched sideways so I was nearly falling off my side. Her Daddy let her poo anywhere in the yard, knowing I’d clean it up. Her Daddy often had his buds over and let them shower her with affection.

Memphis loved company as much as she generally loved life. So now Memphis was in throes of delight.

I thought this as my heart kept racing, faster and faster. Soon, my body would need to move, sprint through town to keep up or it’d fly out of my chest.

“Is everything okay?” I asked Ozzie and he studied me.

“Maybe we should go sit down in your living room,” he suggested and it was my turn to study him but my heart only raced faster.

Then I nodded and moved, leading the way to the living room. I threw out an arm to the furniture there and Memphis did a little twirl, waiting for one of us to be seated so she could jump on one of our laps and be adorable.

“Please, Kia, sit,” Ozzie muttered, I studied him again, took in a deep breath and sat on the edge of the couch.

Ozzie sat in an armchair facing me, also on the edge.

Memphis jumped into his lap.

Ozzie started petting the dog but he did this distractedly, his eyes never leaving mine.

“Ozzie,” I whispered, my heart beating so fast I could feel it in my throat.

“You know Milo Cloverfield, darlin’?” he asked.

Oh God.

Oh God.

I knew where this was headed because I not only knew Milo Cloverfield (because everyone knew Milo), I knew who he was married to.

“Yes,” I answered and it was less than a whisper. It was a breath.

Ozzie held my eyes. Then he closed his tight. Then he turned his head away and my eyes dropped at a movement I caught. I saw that he was petting Memphis with one hand; the other one had formed a fist.

My gaze shot back to his when I sensed his head turning again and I held my breath.

“Honey, I hate to tell you all this but I’ll go fast, get it done, all right?”

I nodded, let out my breath then sucked it in again.

Memphis yapped, finally feeling the vibe slice into her cotton candy world.

Ozzie ignored the dog and got down to it.

“I’m sorry to say, darlin’, that Coot was seein’ Vanessa Cloverfield on the sly.”

I knew it.

I knew it.

My husband was a sick bastard but now I knew just how sick. No wonder he got off on sex these days like he did. He was screwing Vanessa then coming home and screwing me.

The big man.

The head cheese.

He hadn’t been that in years and he was loving it.

God, what a dick!

I let my breath out, clenched my teeth and wondered when I would be able to walk out of high school.

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