Home > Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)(5)

Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)(5)
Author: Kristen Ashley

I called Ozzie again.

He came over.

* * * * *

The next day, Vanessa came out of seclusion mostly because she had no choice and she did it in handcuffs.

While this was happening (though I didn’t know it), I was on the phone with my friend Teri who was a travel agent, booking my flights to Paris.

Chapter One

I Know You, You Know

I stood underneath it a long time, smack dab in the middle of the vast, populated space, my head tilted way back, my back arched, looking up. So long, people probably thought I was crazy. So long, I got dizzy. But I did it. And while I did it, I memorized what I saw.

Then I righted my head, turned and walked down the avenue.

I took my time.

This was because I had all the time in the world.

When I got a fair ways away, I pulled my camera out of my purse, did the head tilting, back arched thing, aimed and shot, once… an adjustment, twice… another adjustment, then a third time.

Then I looked at the display and moved through the photos I took of a nighttime, lit up, cool-as-freaking-shit Eiffel Tower.

Then I grinned and muttered, “Memphis, baby, you’re gonna like that one.”

Then I turned off my camera, tucked it in my purse, gave the Tower one last, lingering look before I moved back down the avenue to saunter the streets of Paris.

* * * * *

I stood in front of the full-length, freestanding mirror. It was oval. It had a lot of carving in the wood around it and black marks on the mirror which meant it was old and the silver was fading but it was fading in a supremely cool way.

Studying the wood, I was pretty impressed with the cleaning staff at this hotel considering there wasn’t any dust in all those grooves of the mirror. It was all glossy and gleaming. Someone had to spend a serious amount of time polishing it.

My eyes moved from the wood to me.

It was summer. My reflection showed me what I knew, I was tan. This was because, for the last three weeks, I’d spent a lot of time outside wandering the streets of Paris, Rome and Florence.

I’d also bought myself the new sundress I had on and I’d never owned anything so expensive or so exquisite.

A long time ago, Cooter decreed that all my apparel come from Target or Wal-Mart, explaining that this was all we could afford within our budget and he kind of wasn’t wrong except he didn’t get all his clothing from those places. I really didn’t mind, Target, especially, had some nice stuff.

What I minded was that Cooter also decreed anytime I bought something for me he would come along and he didn’t have a good eye to what suited me, style, fit or color. Cooter had a taste for skank so he dressed his wife like one.

I hated it.

My sundress did not say skank. Not even close.

It was kind of a salmony-peach, it had a flimsy flippy skirt that was not short but it was also not long, loads of pintuck pleats around the waistline and, at the bodice, thin straps into a halter neck. It was really kind of simple but the filmy fabric, unusual color (that went freaking great with my golden skin) and attention to detail made it super hot.

I loved it.

But I was wearing flip-flops.

They were cute flip-flops, with big, floppy flowers at the toes and they matched the dress nearly perfectly but, as my eyes slid up and down my body in the mirror, I just didn’t think they’d do.

My gaze shifted to the windows. I’d pulled open the wooden shutters practically upon waking and all you could see was the beauty of Lake Como.

Seriously. Did you wear flip-flops with an expensive sundress in a fancy hotel on Lake Como in Italy?

It was morning. I was heading to the dining room. In my world, breakfast was flip-flop territory.

But the dress wasn’t.

In fact, inspecting myself top-to-toe, the whole gig was wrong.

I went to my cosmetics case and back to the mirror.

A dusting of face powder. Good.

A bit of shimmery, peach cream blusher. Better.

A bit of eye shadow, filling in my brows with pencil, a thin line of eyeliner pencil softened with the tip of a brush, a swipe of mascara and a touch of shimmery, peach lip gloss.

Much, much better.

Then I moved to the wardrobe, opened it and pulled out the shoebox.

Then I pulled out the strappy sandals that cost way, way more than the dress.

I’d bought them in Paris. The straps were super thin. The heel was super high. It was also super thin. And they were bronze.

They would kick ass with this dress.

The women I’d seen in Paris, Rome and Florence, attractive, even stunning beauties and very fashionable, would not blink at wearing those sandals with that dress to breakfast.

I strapped them on and walked to the mirror.

Yes. Perfect.

Then I stood in front of the mirror, put three more coats of mascara at the very outside edges of my lashes and kapow! My eyes looked awesome.

I pulled out the ponytail holder, fluffed out my hair and stared at myself.

Yep, this was it. This said Lake Como. This said Europe. This said jet-setter.

Then I blinked.

Then tears began to fill my eyes so I blinked again, quickly turned away, grabbed my cute, little, Italian leather purse I got in Florence, my room key and I went to the dining room.

I knew very little Italian. My Italian language arsenal included pizza, grazie, ciao and capisce and I actually wasn’t really certain what capisce meant, just that gangsters in the movies said it. Even though I’d been in Italy for two weeks, I wasn’t picking much up mostly because I was too shy to try.

So I did my communication with a lot of smiling and hand gestures. Which was how I greeted and thanked the maitre d’ when he saw me, smiled and started babbling, nodding his head, snatching up a menu and throwing out his arm to show me through the dining room.

It was packed and I could see why. This hotel cost a freaking fortune but it was in an awesome location with spectacular views.

Looking around, I did the right thing with the dress and sandals. If I’d thrown on a tee and shorts with this crowd, I would be way underdressed.

I was so busy studying those around me and patting myself on the back for my wardrobe decisions at the same time trying to look cool and aloof like this was an everyday occurrence for me that I didn’t pay attention to where the maitre d’ was taking me.

Then I paid attention and nearly passed out.

Seriously. I nearly passed out.

This was because every table was taken except one that was in front of two doors opened to the elements, the view of the lake, the sun shining in and at the table in the corner next to it, his back to the wall, sat Sampson Cooper.

Sampson Cooper!




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