Home > Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)(4)

Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)(4)
Author: Kristen Ashley

Memphis blinked back.

Then I asked, “What?”

“We’re very sorry for your loss and we understand this is a difficult time for you. It’s never easy handling paperwork in these times but the forms aren’t difficult to complete and the sooner they’re done, the sooner we can pay Mr. Clementine’s life insurance and you’ll have the financial security he clearly wished you to have. In preparation for that, while you’re waiting for the forms to arrive, you’ll need to see to getting a notarized copy of his death certificate.”

Say what?

Cooter wanted me to have financial security?

Heck, Cooter wanted me to have any security?

“I’m sorry, I’m not certain what you’re referring to,” I told her.

There was a moment of silence then, “Why, Mr. Clementine’s five million dollar life insurance policy. Eight months ago, he took one out on himself and you.”

I froze again, exactly like I did when I heard word Cooter was dead, head-to-toe, eyes huge.

Then I whispered, “Sorry?”

“Mr. Clementine’s five million dollar life insurance policy,” she answered.

I blinked at Memphis.

Memphis sat on her rump and blinked back.

Cooter didn’t let me handle anything, not the household bills, not the bank accounts, nothing. He even took my paycheck and gave me an allowance. He wasn’t just an ass**le; he was a dominating, control-freak ass**le.

“He took a policy out on me?” I asked my new best friend Stacy.

“Yes, at the same time he took his.”

“Was mine for five million dollars?” I asked.

Another moment of hesitation then, “No, yours is for ten.”

I blinked yet again at Memphis.

Memphis got up on all her paws and yapped.

That bastard.

That bastard!

Gossip had run rampant since Milo blew half of Cooter’s head off and it was so rampant, it was impossible to keep myself shielded from it.

Not that I cared, I just was trying to move on. Cooter was in the ground. Milo was in jail. Vanessa had sequestered herself behind closed curtains. And I was making plans for the future.

My house was already on the market. My salary didn’t cover the mortgage but, upon Cooter’s death (or, not long after, his boss didn’t mess around because his boss was a good guy), his pension was released to me and even though the government took their whack, Cooter’s pension was still a whack. I was good until the house sold and we’d been living there for seven years. The market wasn’t great but his folks and my folks had given us a decent down payment. My friend Paula was my real estate agent and she said I had equity in it and would make a tidy profit in order to downsize to a condo or something more within my budget.

I was already planning my yard sale. Everything must go. I was going to buy all new. I just hoped that the house sold relatively quickly before my living expenses bit into Cooter’s pension too much because I wanted nice stuff, I also wanted a fabulous vacation (something Cooter never took me on) and further, I wanted an entire new wardrobe that I picked.

These were my plans and I spent a goodly amount of time thinking on them. But I still heard the talk.

And with what I heard, I knew that Cooter had started his thing with Vanessa nine months ago.

Nine months.

One month shy of when Cooter took out a huge, crazy, probably insanely expensive life insurance policy on me for no good reason.

Holy crap, they were planning on offing me!

“Mrs. Clementine? Are you there?” Stacy called and my back straightened.

Then I clipped into the phone, “Yes, I’m here. I’m alive, breathing and very, very here.”

“Uh…” she mumbled, “good. So, um… the forms –”

“You bet your bippy that I’ll be all over completing those puppies. Never fear, Stacy, we’ll get the business of filling out forms out of the way so I can continue mourning the passing of my beloved, freaking husband.”

This outburst bought me a moment of silence then, “Uh…” she mumbled again. “Right. Okay.”

“Okay,” I replied. “Thanks for your call. I’m certain this part of your job description is no fun.”

“No, actually, you’re right. It’s, um… not real fun.”

“Well, tick me off your to-do list, sweetie, and go to some fancy coffee cart and get yourself a nice coffee. Spoil yourself. Life’s short.”

“Yes, right, Mrs. Clementine.”

“Ms.,” I corrected her.


“Ms.,” I repeated. “I’m Ms. Clementine now.”

Silence then a whispered, “Right.”

“Have a good day,” I urged.

“Right, uh… you, um… too.”

“Will do,” I assured her then beeped the phone off.

Then I walked straight to the phonebook and looked up the number to the Sheriff Department. Then I called it. Then I asked to speak to Ozzie. Then they transferred me to Ozzie. Then I told him about my boon and the timing. Then he was silent a long time.

Then he whistled.

Then he expressed his gratitude and got off the phone.

I looked at Memphis and stated, “First, we’re searching every inch of this house to look for evidence those two creeps wanted to knock me off to collect the insurance and then we’re turning on the computer and then we’re calling up a map of the world and then we’re pointing at it, or I am, since you can’t, and then we’re planning my vacation to wherever my finger lands.”

Memphis yapped her agreement to this plan.

“Unless I don’t hit somewhere in The States,” I warned. “If I pick Okinawa, you’ll probably have to go stay with Mom and Dad while I go off and enjoy Cooter’s wife-killing money.”

Memphis yapped again and her cute, little, brown and white body shook with her tail wags.

She loved my Mom.

Then again, she loved everyone.

So much, it didn’t even seem like she noticed Cooter was gone. No staring at doors. No little doggie melancholy.

But I had taken over the affection, treats, feedings and the like so she wasn’t missing out.

“You with me?” I asked even though I knew. Memphis wasn’t one for solitude. She’d be with me every step of the way.

She yapped anyway just so I knew she had my back.

I nodded.

Then I searched.

Then I found the e-mails.

My husband was so f**king dumb.

His girlfriend wasn’t much smarter.

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