Home > Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)(3)

Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)(3)
Author: Kristen Ashley

Jeez, Cooter was an ass**le, he was washed up, he was out-of-shape and still, stupid, silly, jealous, grasping Vanessa Lockhart Cloverfield clearly stopped at nothing to get him.

Well, she could have him.

I just needed to figure out how to give him to her. I’d tried leaving six times. I’d failed. And the way I failed, Cooter finally taught me not to try again.

But f**k this shit.

“Kia,” Ozzie called and I focused on him.

“Yeah?” I asked.

“Honey, Milo found out.”


Milo was a hothead, everyone knew that.

“And?” I whispered.

“And, he went to the Heartmeadow Motel with his shotgun and, Kia, honey,” he paused, pulled in breath and finished, “he used it.”

My body froze, every inch of it including my eyes which were wide open.

“Coot’s dead, darlin’,” Ozzie whispered and that was when I started hyperventilating.

Then I breathed, “What?”

“Coot’s dead. Milo shot him, clocked Vanessa with the butt of his gun and then called it in himself.”

That was…

It was…

“That’s crazy,” I said softly. “Why would Milo do that?”

“’Cause he’s got a short fuse, he loves his wife, he couldn’t bear the idea of her steppin’ out on him and he lost it. He also ain’t too smart but he’s smart enough to know he ain’t so he didn’t bother runnin’ ‘cause he knows he’ll be caught.”

I had no reply to this. Any of it.

I couldn’t think.

I could barely breathe.

Ozzie stared at me.

Then he called, “Kia?”

I blinked and my body started.

Then it hit me what he said.

Milo Cloverfield, who was normally a pretty fun-loving guy, good to have around, good for a laugh but definitely he could lose it, had shot my husband dead with a shotgun.

“Where?” I suddenly blurted.

“Pardon?” Ozzie asked.

“Where did Milo shoot him?” I asked and Ozzie’s stare got more intense.

“At the motel,” Ozzie answered and I shook my head.

“No, I mean, where on his body?”

That’s when his face closed down and he said quietly, “Honey, not sure –”

“Where, Ozzie?”

Ozzie held my eyes. Then he sighed. Then he said, still talking quietly, “Got him one side of the head.”

Closed casket then.

“Kia, you all right?” Ozzie asked.

Was I all right?

I thought about it.

I sat in my living room with furniture Cooter picked and carpeting Cooter picked in a house Cooter picked in a subdivision Cooter picked with Ozzie sitting in an armchair petting a strangely quiet but watchful (and her eyes were on me) dog that Cooter picked, none of which I liked, (except the dog but only secretly) and I thought about this.

I thought that Cooter was never going to come home again.

I thought that I was never going to have to pretend I enjoyed sex with Cooter again and I never had to fake another orgasm again, which, by the way, was exhausting but, fortunately, not difficult to achieve believability considering Cooter still (or did, not anymore) thought his shit didn’t stink.

I thought that I’d never get backhanded, slapped, pushed, kicked or my arm twisted by Cooter again.

I thought that every morning, noon and night I could eat what I wanted and not have to make exactly what Cooter wanted. I could go to bed when I wanted. I could wear what I wanted. I could watch on TV what I wanted. I could talk on the phone as long as I wanted.

And I could finally be nice to my own, damn dog.

Then I thought, Fuck yes, I’m all right.

I did not say that.

I said, “I’m in shock,” which wasn’t a lie.

Ozzie didn’t miss much and he wasn’t missing much now and this must have been why he said super softly and very cautiously, his eyes never leaving mine, his body leaning in slightly, his hand stilling on Memphis, “You loved him once, darlin’, and, him passin’, there’ll come a time when you’ll remember that and it’ll hit you.”

I was not surprised Ozzie knew I didn’t love Cooter now. Like I said, Ozzie didn’t miss much.

But I wasn’t thinking about that.

I was thinking about loving Cooter.

And it wasn’t the first time I thought on this over the years.

And I already knew I never loved Cooter. Not in the beginning, not now. I loved the idea of him, the golden light that shone from his local fame, the promise he squandered, I was in love with that. I was young, I was stupid and I was blinded by false glory.

But I’d never loved my husband. Marrying Cooter had been the worst mistake I’d made in my life.

And I knew I did not at that moment nor would I anytime in the future mourn his passing. And I also knew somewhere deep inside me that I would not go to hell for that.

Because I’d been in hell for the seven years I spent married to Cooter Clementine.

So I’d done my time.

* * * * *

Two weeks, one day and sixteen hours later…

The phone rang.

How I heard it over the music, I did not know but I did.

Cooter hated my music. He never let me play it. But he played his and loud.

I turned down The Guess Who’s live version, kickass, thirteen plus minutes of “American Woman” and strode to the phone.

Memphis yapped.

“Quiet, baby,” I murmured.

Memphis wagged her tail.

I grinned at my dog.

She wagged her tail harder.

I grinned bigger.

Then I picked up the phone, beeped it on, put it to my ear and greeted, “Hello?”

“Hello, may I please speak to a Mrs. Kia Clementine?”

My grin became a smile.

I was keeping Cooter’s last name. His last name was awesome. It was the best thing he ever gave to me. Hell, it was the only decent thing he’d ever given me.

So I was keeping it.

“This is she,” I replied.

“Hello, this is Stacy from Biller General Insurance.”

My head cocked to the side in confusion and I said, “Hello.”

“This is just a courtesy call to inform you we’ve received the information from his employer that your husband has passed, we’ve sent the forms to you to complete and you should receive them in the mail within the next week. As soon as you complete and return them, we’ll process them as quickly as we can and you’ll receive your check in four to six weeks.”

I blinked at Memphis.

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