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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
A young woman and her boyfriend make a remarkable discovery in the cathedral of an Italian town.
And then things really get interesting . . . and a bit nasty,

Submitted: July 15, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 15, 2016







A Short Story in Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter One


Marsha was mesmerized by the intricate black and white diamond design of the church floor. 

Grant watched as she leaned ever closer; and then she went to her knees and placed her face no more than four inches from the marble.

They were alone in San Giovanni, the cathedral in the Italian town of Frappiana.

Winter light had vanished from the sky as human lights quickly began to dot the frosted windows of a thousand dwellings.

“Did you drop something, Marsh?”

Grant’s tone weaved curiosity with some annoyance.

He was freezing, hungry, and his visual stimulus meter had barreled through the red zone three sites past—two of which he had virtually no recollection.

“It’s this particular diamond I can’t figure out Grant; it shouldn’t look like this.”

“I’ll bite.”

“Well, when a fine floor is done with first class marble—like this one; even the Cosmati workshop used this grade; there should be perfectly sized sides to each part of the design,” sitting back on her haunches and sighing, “but this one, there,” and she tapped the diamond in question, “this one is not the same length; its right side, see?”

Grant Marlowe felt the finger of his dead mother and that of his dead sister, poke him in the small of his back while they chorused: 

Be a gentleman, Grant; all women will love you for that—at least.

This was one of many reminders that had been poured upon him as the result of being raised by two women.

So far, in his thirty-three years, the advice of the Terrible Twosome had proved to be invaluable, a fact which Grant begrudgingly admitted to himself, mainly because he had thought his sister a silly woman stuck in the past and his mother had been—at least the twenty years before she died—regarded as mildly deranged.

Grant had heard the term applied by his Uncle Trevor and asked him for details. The best that Trevor could come up with was: “She’s always been nuts.”

Grant had not followed up this observation and thought that perhaps old Trevor was suffering a bit of dementia himself; that is, if you talked with him first thing in the morning when his BA was only point two; otherwise, any tests administered to, or research conducted about old Trevie, had to sport an asterisk due to the interference of alcohol.

Now some would argue that any research or findings made regarding Trevor Parker—even if done in the morning after the subject had awakened from a nineteen hour sleep—had to be discounted; or at least asterisked, because even that level of alcohol is sufficient (in most people ) to render them “under the influence.”

Well, the point about old Trevie was that he was always under the influence and so that was his default position; his starting point; his baseline.

Nobody could remember old Trevie marching about under a point two—ever.

“Which one—again—is it, Marsha?” and Grant bent all the way over and had his head almost on the floor next to Marsha’s index finger.

Marsha found herself looking at the back, shoulders and neck of her beloved as she marveled at yet another astonishing physical feat of her lover. 

She waited a moment to see how long he could stay bent over so far, but grew bored after a couple of moments and was eager to return to her mystery.

“This one, right under your nose,” and she laughed the laugh of a twenty-seven year-old sitting on the exquisite marble floor of the finest building in the town, with her lover and nobody else, “I wonder what time they close.”

“Nine, Mondays,” looking at his watch, “we have another hour and a half.”

Grant maintained his position and Marsha forgot about what an unusual posture he held and recommenced her thesis.
“I haven’t looked really closely at all the diamonds in this pattern; but I will now; this whole semi circle. I didn’t see any other similar designs, did you?”

Marsha was a young woman of unusual traits. 

Underneath her physical form, she harbored enough arcane libraries of odd lore that every man was beguiled by her aberrant knowledge; and most asked her out again if only to find out what erotica on the walls of Pompeii portrayed; and why.

Marsha Mason was not slim; more the huggable figure.

She wore her brown hair cut short and bordering on a bob.

However, this suited the rest of  her features perfectly. Her eyes were brown, large, and perfectly spaced from the center point of her nose.

Her lips were generous without looking pouty. Her ears were small and close to her head. 

Then there was her smile. Careful dental care had borne enamel-perfect fruit.

Marsha was known and recognized by her smile. And most of the time when she beamed at you, both her head and her heart were swimming in joy and mirth.

Although the measuring rod at the doctor’s office said five feet five, Marsh definitely played life a lot taller.

Some of the guys swore that she was five nine or ten; that she had, like Lamont Cranston, her wonderful magical method of clouding men/s minds so  that they could not discern her true height.

Most were usually too busy trying to estimate her cup size.

 And so Marsha Mason was not a glamorous knockout or a bombshell, but she was very attractive.


The Cosmati Workshop (she preferred ‘studio’ or ‘atelier’, but never said so to anyone) and the Cosmatesque designs—particularly the floors—were her favorite artistic avocation.

She had books and videos; watched YouTube; and, of course, visited a floor whenever time and travel permitted. One of those was now.

“Well, honey (Grant had started calling her honey after they had slept together in Rome a few days after meeting in Florence) where do we go from here?” maintaining his position, “ do we dig it up and take it to be rubbed down to the exact length of the other; oh yeah, that means we’d have to take the other three,” straightening up, “think they’d notice?” and he laughed. 

Marsha was forced by her admiration, and possible love, to join him.

“Sure; got your Swiss knife?” and she stood up and squeezed his arm.

“As a matter of fact . . . ” and he pulled out a super-size Swiss Army knife and flicked open a wicked-looking bar that resembled a crowbar—and was-- in the setting--almost as large.

He quickly bent and placed the blade under the short side of the diamond and playfully flipped the blade.

“Grann-tt; don’t do that, . . .jeez Grant, look what  . . .”

Both stared at the diamond spot.

Where there had been a full (if uneven-sided marble diamond from the Cosmati Workshop) marble diamond, was now a hole four inches across.

Marsha bent and lifted the diamond-shaped piece of marble to put it back.

Grant gripped her shoulder and then skipped his hand to her elbow where he stayed her hand.

Wait Marsha,” excited, even a little apprehensive, “wait, look; look at that,”

He quickly dropped to his knees and moved her hand away to allow his eyes to drop right over the hole, “this shouldn’t be here; this hole; and it goes down a way as well. Here; see if your hand can fit in there.”

“Noooo, Grant; put this back; we shouldn’t even be fooling around with this thing. C’mon, please Grant."

“Marsha; just humor me; they’re no snakes or scorpions; or anything like that in there. I’m just curious; and my hand won’t fit. You c’mon; please; just quickly, okay?” giving her his best grin and a tight hug around her shoulders, "okay? a quickie,” both laughing, 

“Okay Grant; but it’s in and out.” She laughed again.


“Okay; here goes.” She dropped her fingers into the hole and began to work her knuckles through. Her hand swiftly disappeared; then it came whooshing out and opened.

There, on the Cosmati floor, next to the diamond piece of marble with quadrilateral sides, lay twelve dazzling diamonds.

Their world stopped. Neither breathed.

End of Chapter One



© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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