Home > Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)(8)

Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1)(8)
Author: Kristen Ashley




Did he just do that?

And if he did, what did it mean when a man did that? The last man to flirt with me was Cooter and he did it by buying me extra tater tots at the local burger joint.

Did it mean what I thought it meant?




He took another sip from his coffee, put it down and extended his big hand my way. I stared at it luckily not jumping ten feet and it was not my first time seeing his masculine, long-fingered, well-veined, strong-looking hand that I thought it was immensely attractive in a way that if I was just a shade on the sick side, I could create a religion based on it.

It was just the first time I saw it in real person.

“I’m Sam Cooper,” he introduced and I forced myself to lift my hand, put it in his and his fingers curled around instantly, warm and strong.

“Kia,” I told him, my voice softer because I was freaking out because he was holding my hand! “Kia Clementine.”

That got me another grin.

“Kia Clementine?” he asked.

I nodded.

He held my eyes.

He also kept hold of my hand.

My heart stopped again.

Then he murmured again in that sexy way, “Clementine.”

“Yep,” I said.

His head tipped to the side and he remarked, “Great name.”

“It’s my husband’s,” I told him stupid, stupid, stupidly.

His hand tightened in mine for a half a second then released it.

Oh yes.


His face was still friendly but now somehow a shade remote when he noted, “You’re married.”

“Not anymore.”

Luckily, this came out calmly not quickly or desperately.

Thank God.


“He’s dead.”

His back straightened and his eyes again grew intense, this time in a different way. There was emotion there, compassion, and it, too, was knock your socks off beautiful.

“I’m sorry,” he said gently.

And that was when, no joke, I blurted, “Four months ago, half his head was shot off in a motel room while he was boinking my high school arch-nemesis who remained my arch-nemesis long after high school, though I didn’t know that until her husband burst in on them in the local motel with a shotgun he was prepared to use. My husband got dead. Her husband got five to ten for involuntary manslaughter.”

Sampson Cooper blinked.

Okay, uh… what was that? Why did I tell him that?

Not only was I in imminent danger of having a heart attack, I was also clearly temporarily insane.

I needed to get out of there, like, yesterday.

“No shit?” he asked into my mental strategizing on how to beat my retreat.

I shook my head.

“Christ,” he muttered.

“That about says it all,” I muttered back, looking from him to the table and wondering if I should pretend to have a crying jag at the passing of my husband and ask to be excused then get the first taxi, rental car, bus, train or plane out of Lake Como and go back to Heartmeadow, Indiana, a place Sampson Cooper had never been and one where he’d more than likely never go and immediately enter what would probably be years of therapy to deal with this encounter.

But before I could fake tears, his deep, rough-like-velvet voice came back at me.

“Are you okay?”

I looked up at him and again there was intensity, this was curious, cautious but also still warm.

So my mouth whispered for me, “Yeah.”

“What happened to the arch-nemesis?”

“She got clocked with the butt of her hubby’s shotgun,” I answered, leaving out the fact that she was now awaiting trial for plotting my murder. I’d already instituted a major overshare. I didn’t need to make the same mistake again.

“Off easy,” he murmured.

“Kind of,” I said softly. “She’s the town pariah, no one liked her much before but they openly don’t like her now and we live in a small town so you feel that kind of dislike in a small town, you know?”

“Not really,” he replied. “I’ve never f**ked another man’s wife, setting him on a murdering rampage or even f**ked another man’s wife and not setting that man on a murdering rampage so I have no f**kin’ clue.”

At his honest, blunt and weirdly somewhat harsh words, he became real to me, like any normal person, not a famous ex-football star national hero who had a past filled with doing dangerous things and suddenly I relaxed, not completely but a little, enough to smile before I recommended, “Well, my advice is, don’t.”

He smiled back and said, “Good advice.”

“And also,” I kept going, “I think in Lake Como surrounded by swanky rich people, you’re not allowed to drop the f-bomb or probably the s-bomb for that matter.”

He lifted his coffee cup and before taking a sip, his eyes on me over the rim, he asked, “You read that somewhere?”

“Uh… no,” I answered.

He sipped, dropped the cup and noted, “So, it’s not a law.”

“I wouldn’t know. Maybe.”

“If it is, then you wouldn’t be able to do it in Italian. Since I don’t know Italian, I think I’m good.”

“Well if you’re wrong and they arrest you, I promise to post bond,” I assured him.

He grinned. “Good to know you’ve got my back.”

I shrugged. “We Americans have to look out for each other.”

His grin got bigger and he murmured, “Right.”

It was then our food was served. There were some flourishes whilst the waiter served it which made Sampson Cooper catch my eyes, his smiling. When they did, I felt my mouth twitch and my heart flutter that I was sharing an in-joke with Sampson Freaking Cooper.

The waiter moved away, Sam picked up his cutlery and so did I.

He tucked in.

I wondered if I could watch him consuming food across a table from me without having an orgasm.

And it was then I decided to come clean.

“I know you, you know,” I whispered and his eyes went from his plate to me.

Then, to my shock, my delight, my horror and totally messing with my peace of mind and understanding of the world, he whispered back, “Baby, for ten minutes you made me invisible. Women who know who I am do one of three things, they get in my space, they do anything they can to get my attention but do it pretending badly that they don’t know I exist or I flat out cease to exist. I know you know who I am.”

“I wasn’t being rude,” I quickly told him.

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