Home > Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)(6)

Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)(6)
Author: Kristen Ashley


I couldn’t sit one table over from Sampson Freaking Cooper!

What was he doing in Italy?

What was he doing sitting alone at a table in a beautiful, expensive hotel in Italy?

Where was the supermodel-esque hot chick that had to be his woman?

Perhaps she was in their room, finishing up her makeup seeing as, when I finally tore my eyes from him, I saw he didn’t have any dirty dishes on his table, only a coffee cup and cafetière half-full of coffee. Perhaps he was tired of waiting for her, he needed caffeine, he was a man on the go and didn’t wait around for chicks, even hot ones that looked like supermodels, so off he went telling her to meet him downstairs.

Yes, that made sense. That had to be it.

While we approached and I tried not to hyperventilate, my eyes went from his cafetière to his face to see he was still looking out his set of opened doors, in profile, his strong jaw stronger in real life than in pictures or on TV, his high cheekbones higher and more defined, his straight nose straighter and more attractive, his thick, black hair clipped short to his head had a healthy sheen to it that was healthier in real life and the appealing dark tone to his skin he got from being half white, a quarter black and a quarter Hispanic was far more appealing in person.

Oh man, I was not going to be able to do this.

Sure, I had about ten thousand, seven hundred and twenty-two fantastical, intense and long-running fantasies about this guy, how we would meet, he would fall in love with me instantly and sweep me away from the hell that was my life and make me blissfully happy forever but now, faced with the possibility of sharing his airspace, I wanted not one thing to do with him.

The maitre d’ stopped and said something in Italian to me and when I stopped and turned dazedly to him, it hit me.

I knew how I would handle this.

Sampson Cooper didn’t exist.

Not across the table. Only in a dreamworld.

I would ignore him, his hot chick would show, my fantasy would be crushed but I’d get on with my day, my vacation and then use him as a totally killer travel story when I got home.

Paula and Teri would eat this up. They loved him as much as me. Teri even had a life-size, cardboard standing thingie of him in his Indianapolis Colts uniform. She kept it in her bedroom. She also asked me once if I thought that was putting off the real life men that she invited there (and there were a fair few) and many of them, more than seemed appropriate, found it difficult to perform. I did not have within my mental hard drive statistics about how often or what percentage of men could not go the distance. I was also not a man and therefore could not know if a life-size cardboard cutout of a hot guy wearing football pads would affect performance. What I did know was that if there was a life-size cardboard cutout of Pamela Anderson in her Baywatch suit in the same room as me and a guy doing the nasty, I’d definitely find it at the very least distracting.

So I decided I’d use him as a cool-ass story and they would never know I spent the entire breakfast ignoring his existence and staring at a lake.

I communicated in the universal language of smiling to the maitre d’, his already big smile got enormous for some bizarre reason that made me fear he was going to hug me and declare in Italian I was his long lost daughter, something which I wouldn’t understand since I didn’t speak Italian and thus I’d probably freak out and do this in front of Sampson Cooper.

No, no. Repeat after me. Sampson Cooper does not exist.

It would be fine. Everything would be fine.

Still smiling weirdly maniacally, the maitre d’ went on the move. I had wanted to sit with my back to Cooper’s table but the maitre d’ was scooting me in on the side facing him in a way that was strangely paternal at the same time it was aggressive. I had no choice but to go with it or maybe end up in a smackdown with a maitre d’hotel in an exclusive hotel on Lake Como with Sampson Cooper as one of my audience and, for obvious reasons, that wouldn’t do. It would be harder to avoid Cooper when he was sitting in my direct line of sight but I’d survived a very bad marriage, my husband had cheated on me and, with his girlfriend, plotted my demise.

If I could live through that, I could sit across from Sampson Cooper.

So I sat across from Sampson Cooper.

With a dramatic flourish that startled me so much I jumped a little, though it was kind of cool but I couldn’t exactly explain why, the maitre d’ flipped open my menu and plopped it in my upturned hands. Then he spoke swiftly to me in Italian all the while my head was tipped back and I glued my eyes with fierce determination at his face, my lips curved in a small smile that I hoped didn’t look stupid in the very unlikely event that Sampson Cooper was actually looking at me. He kept talking for some time and if he was describing the specials (did they do breakfast specials?), they had a lot of them.

Then he clapped his hands, fluttered them in the air for a second and turned toward Sampson Cooper. I caught his wink at Cooper, something else I thought was weird, then he scurried away.

I turned my attention directly to the menu.

Then I did what I’d been doing the last two weeks in Italy and that was calling up my very limited (but increasingly less so) experience of looking at menus in Italian restaurants. Cooter was not one to take his wife on the town and when he did, it was for pizza and not in the kind of pizza joints that printed their options in Italian.

Mozzarella, I knew but I didn’t see that anywhere on the menu (alas). I saw something that ended with di funghi which I was pretty certain meant mushrooms because other stuff I’d ordered with those words in it also had mushrooms. I hoped it was a mushroom omelet because that sounded really good and I had hope since the word before it was “omelette” and I figured an omelette was an omelet the world over.

I’d made this decision when a cafetière was plonked on my table with a small elegant pitcher of cream and matching sugar bowl and another Italian man, my waiter, started talking to me. He didn’t talk long but he did clap when he was done and move away without taking my order.

I watched him go and, as best I could without looking like a freak, I turned my attention to the lake without my eyes once hitting Sampson Cooper.

Then it struck me I needed coffee and I needed it STAT.

So, as casually as I could muster, I turned my attention to the cafetière, did the press thing, upended the coffee cup at my place setting and prepared my coffee.

Then, sipping carefully so as not to burn my tongue or choke, I turned my attention back to the lake.

Seriously, it was pretty. I’d never seen anything like it. It kind of sucked that Cooter and Vanessa wanting me dead was the reason why I had this gift but… whatever. It was a gift. I’d lived through hell, now it was my turn in heaven and Lake Como not only looked but felt just like what heaven had to be.

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