Home > Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)(7)

Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)(7)
Author: Kristen Ashley

The waiter came back, shot some Italian at me and I made a stab in the dark and decided he was asking for my order. I didn’t bother speaking just did a lot of smiling and pointed to what I wanted on the menu. He nodded, snatched the menu out of my hand, did a dramatic flourish with it in the air that took slightly less space than the maitre d’s flourish but, even more compact, it was no less theatrical, before tucking it smartly under his armpit and he hurried away.

I was looking after him in preparation for the taxing effort of once again turning my head and not acknowledging Sampson Cooper’s presence when I heard a deep, low, masculine chuckle and it was so attractive, without my permission, my eyes went to him.

Then my heart stopped beating. Total stall. It would take paddles to get it pumping again.

He was no longer chuckling but he was smiling.

At me.

“Do you speak English?” he asked and I blinked.

Holy cow! He was talking to me!

“Yes,” my mouth, fortunately, answered for me.

“These guys got it goin’ on,” he informed me and I blinked again.

“What guys?” my mouth, luckily, kept speaking.

He tipped his head in the direction of where my waiter was last seen and my heart started beating again, hard and fast. I could feel it in my neck, my wrists, even at my temples.

“You think they train them in that shit?” he asked and I blinked again.

Sampson Cooper just used a curse word in a swanky Italian hotel on Lake Como!

Why did I think that was so… freaking… cool?

“What…” I hesitated then cautiously went on, “shit?”

He smiled again.

My heart stopped beating again.

Then he answered, “The menus.” He shook his head then immediately proceeded to blaspheme in a swanky Italian hotel on Lake Como. “Jesus. The first time the head guy did it, thought he was gonna clock me.”

“That would have been unfortunate,” I observed and then I sucked in a sharp breath when he threw his beautiful head back and burst into deep, rough-like-velvet laughter.

I’d never heard him laugh. I’d never even seen him laugh. Smiles, lots. Chuckles, sure. Grins, more than occasionally.

Full on laughter.


He was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen in my life. By far. And that was before I saw him in real life and in real life he was more beautiful than ever.

But that deep, rough-like-velvet laughter glided right across every inch of my skin, leaving beauty in its wake that soaked through and, I swear to God, it felt like it settled into my soul.

He sobered but his dark brown eyes were still dancing when he focused on me and agreed, “Yeah, that would have been unfortunate.”

It was at this point I jumped at least six inches because the maitre d’ was suddenly there, talking fast, gesturing broadly, his head going back and forth between Sampson Cooper and me.

Then my waiter was there.

I had no idea what was going on and, further, had no hope of finding out because he not once used the words mozzarella, ciao, grazie, capisce or pizza and if he did, that probably wouldn’t have explained what was happening.

But before I could form any conclusions or, say, react at all, my entire body went rigid when I watched in sheer, unadulterated terror as the waiter moved my cafetière, creamer, sugar bowl and coffee cup to Sampson Cooper’s table.

What were they doing?

Cooper’s deep, rough-like-velvet voice came to me and my eyes shot to him when he asked, “Do you speak Italian?”

“Uh…” I was able to get out before…

No joke.


The maitre d’ grasped my elbow, forcibly yanked me out of my chair in that aggressive but paternal way he had then guided me around the table, shuffling me between my old table and Sampson Cooper’s definitely current table at the same time the waiter scooched with me. The waiter pulled out the chair across from Cooper and the maitre d’ plonked my booty in it.

I was deep breathing and feeling, acutely, like I was in the preliminary stages of my first ever seizure when my head tipped back for some reason and I saw Sampson Cooper had stood. Not fully, just up a little from his seat, his eyes on me. I thought it was to protest but when the waiter shoved my chair (with me in it, incidentally) under the table, he sat again and I realized it was because he was a man, I was a woman but mostly he was a gentleman who stood when a woman was seated at his table and I was a woman who found herself, for inexplicable reasons, seated at his freaking table.

No man had ever done that when I’d been seated at his table and there was a beauty to it that seemed to seep into my soul too.

My heart stopped again and, fortunately, because I didn’t want Sampson Cooper to see me panting, so did my breath.

The maitre d’ and waiter whisked themselves away.

“You figure they needed your table?” Sampson Cooper asked dryly and, considering my present circumstances, I had no idea how I managed to loosen up enough to do it, maybe because the situation was so bizarre, so extreme, so frightening, I had to let some tension go but at his comment, it was my turn to burst out laughing.

And, God’s honest truth, since Cooter died I’d smiled more than I had in years which might not say good things but there it was.

But I hadn’t laughed like that in so long I forgot how good it felt.

When I quit laughing, I focused on him to see him grinning at me but there was a look on his face, a warmth in his eyes, an intensity, it almost felt like… no kidding… like he found me fascinating.


Kia Clementine

And seeing that look in his eyes aimed at me, no one but me, a look I had seen in… never, never had I seen a look like that directed at me, I wanted to run. And I wanted to run because I wanted that to be it, my last memory of Sampson Cooper. I wanted to go somewhere and burn it into my brain. I wanted to keep it with me forever.

But I couldn’t do that so I forced myself to reply, “They are pretty busy.”

His grin faded but his lips still twitched when he agreed, “Yeah.” Then he sat back, snagging his coffee mug as he did and he asked, “Do you mind?”


“Sitting with me,” he explained before taking a sip.

Uh. Yes! I was pretty certain my body needed my blood to flow through its veins and my heart was constantly stopping so I didn’t figure that was good.

But obviously I couldn’t tell him that so instead, I said, “Not if you don’t mind.”

His eyes changed again, they dropped quickly down my torso then up and he murmured in a sexy way that I was pretty certain made my ni**les go hard, “Oh, I don’t mind.”

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