ROUGH DIAMONDS: SS: SEVEN

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
After finding diamonds beneath a Cosmati Workshop tile in an Italian cathedral, Grant and Marsha put them back, are knocked out, housed in a bogus hospital, stripped to their underwear before they escape.
However, there appears to be no escape as another surprise knocks them back into the world of jewel thieves and killers.

Submitted: February 25, 2017

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Submitted: February 25, 2017

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ROUGH DIAMONDS

 

A Short Story in Chapters

 

Nicholas Cochran

 

Chapter Seven

 

 

“Yeah,” Grant continued, “especially in Texas, I learned innumerable ways to stalk, hunt, and kill people,” laughing, “pretty rich stuff for a ten-year old,” remembering, “yeah, rich. But I took advice, worked hard, learned well,” nodding and laughing, “and I don’t seem to have forgotten much, right?”

His laugh was the genuine laugh of a man unburdening his soul to a loved one, “yeah; not much.”

Marsha smiled before upgrading to a good tinkling laugh.

"Grant, you really had me worried back there . . . on any number of points. I thought maybe you were another diamond thief; or their hit man. Then, as you guessed, I definitely believed you were an ex . . . well, maybe a present SEAL or Ranger or one of those guys; the spooks.” She laughed her relief.

The two set about scarfing up the edible treasures. Within ten minutes, both managed to make themselves thoroughly queasy by combining profiteroles, Coke, and some ultra-dark chocolate. Nevertheless, they were very happy despite their unsettled stomachs. They chatted freely for twenty minutes before deciding to move on.

“But to where, Grant?”
 Grant answered Marsha’s question about their destination at once.

“To Venice of course; you like Venice don’t you?”

Marsha laughed lightly, “I can see they taught you persuasion as well at your war schools; especially how to pose loaded questions,” laughing, “of course I love Venice but not if we’re being chased by maddened jewel thieves,” suddenly serious, “really Grant, can’t we just go on our way? We were headed to Venice anyway with a stop for the Giotto offerings in Padua. Let’s just go there, ditch the car in Mestre, and forget the last days.” Her look was packed with love—and pleading.

They were approaching the Austostrade to Venice. Grant concentrated on his driving. The late afternoon sun glared at him from its most annoying angle. Despite sunglasses, as well as the sun visor, seeing over his shoulder was a tricky time for Grant. He merged as he tried to discount the prolonged honking shot at him by two slow-lane drivers who disapproved of his merging technique.

Then they were on the strade picking up speed. The Alfa had a half tank of fuel along with several hundred eager horses under the hood. Grant relaxed. He had heard what Marsha asked him as well as the silent questions contained in the pitch of her voice, a pitch betraying anxiety—perhaps fear.

He pretended to be giving his driving his entire concentration while he thought of the best reasons to give Marsha for blasting past Padua, dumping the car in Mestre waters, and taking a water taxi to Venice.

He definitely understood that Marsha was unconditionally opposed to any further dicey dealings with the Italian underworld. No more cops and robbers. No more dangerous behavior or unnecessary risk-taking; yet something poked his adventure button with force . He realized that he could not explain this irresistible urge—and he had no way of expressing it to Marsha.

“Hey, Marsha, there, now we're past the traffic; and I think I’ve got all the funny bits of driving this car out of the way. I’m sorry, honey; what were you saying?”

Marsha, none the wiser, asked again. “Why aren’t we just going to Padua and then to Venice like we planned? I can’t stand anymore of this . . “beginning to sob, “I was so scared Grant; so scared.”

Grant had never seen this emotion in Marsha. For a moment, he was unable to find the best words to put her at ease.

“All right, honey, all right. I understand. Hey, look” pointing at the sign for the next exit to Padua, “here we are,”

He smiled and rubbed her knee with his right hand, “we’re off to the Scrovegni Chapel,” looking at his watch, “ I think we have about two hours. It’s Saturday and they’re open until seven. Great. That should give us a perfect amount of time.”

He leaned over to kiss Marsha on the cheek, “maybe we should stay here for the night? What do you think?”

Grant took the exit and began to follow the signs to the Scrovegni Chapel.

“Oh,” Marsha clapped her hands and laughed, “a night of love inPadua. Shakespearean and all; well. Let’s see what’s available,” thinking, “thank you Grant. I can’t tell you how relieved I am to be away from that damn place. The more I think about it the shakier I get. It was awful. They actually killed a man right beside us. We haven’t even talked about all that . . . whatever it was; that diamond gang; the shooting in the cathedral.”

She shuddered and began to rub her hands together for warmth although the temperature outside was well above eighty.

“Let’s do that over a drink, honey—before we go to the Chapel. There’ll be a bar or a tratorria—well, a bunch of them around the Chapel. Okay?”

“Oh, a perfect idea darling, my nerves are in shreds.” Her laugh was a nervous laugh, as though the events of the past couple of days were still in the car with them, riding along, ‘going my way?’.

She took in a short breath as she remembered that they were in a stolen car.
“Grant, what about the car? It’s stolen. Maybe we should ditch it and use our Eurail passes to go to Venice.”

Grant clenched his jaw with concentration. “That’s certainly an option,” pausing, “why am I not thinking of ditching it here? Well, let’s see. Something is bothering my early warning system here. Why am I so reluctant to dump this car and take the train? Oh well, I’ll think a hell of a lot clearer after a few Peronis. How about you, hon?”

“I definitely need a double of something—could be Peronis—before I calm down, but I certainly don’t need them to decide where to dump the car and hit the rails.”

She sat back in her seat. Grant thought she was about to cross her arms and say: “so there”. He was very glad that she didn’t. He smiled. After a few moments, Marsha turned to him and smiled back.

“A night of love in Padua, eh?”

Grant felt the rush of the erotic wave as it rolled over his entire body.

With a nod and a smile, “Yes, honey, what a fabulous idea.”

The Chapel appeared shortly and Grant decided to park in the middle of the largest cluster of cars available near the site. He saw a parking lot, changed his mind, and decided to pay to hide the machine in the very middle; just in case one of the trio in Frappiana had an Eagle Scout’s knowledge of rope and knots.

“You know, Marsha, I think we should park here and out of sight. Maybe someone dropped into the clinic or whatever it was and they’re now free and pursuing us.”

“Oh, darling, I’m so glad you’re doing this. Thank you. Yes, in the middle and then we can just leave it here and catch a ride to the station and be done with all this”

They smiled at each other as Grant turned into the lot. He found a spot as far away from the street as possible and in a pack of cars.

“Wait,” cautioned Marsha, “aren’t all these cars going to disappear once the Chapel is closed?”
Grant sat back in his seat with surprise.

“God, you are so clever, hon. And it’s red as well. They’d spot it right away. Ahh, let’s drive around and find a really good hiding place.”

Grant hit reverse and then shifted for a fast exit from the lot.

Four blocks away, they found the perfect spot. Trees, other cars, as well as roadside bushes provided the perfect area for the car to blend into the scenery.

They unbuckled. Grant automatically reached for the parking brake, a habit sneered at by most of his friends and silently laughed at by those not his friends.

When his hand began to rise from the brake, his index finger caught on a loose piece of floor covering, a section that normally hugged the console. He was becoming irritated.

While he was unhooking his fingernail from the loose piece of heavy cloth, a sparkle bounced off his right eye. He automatically—instinctively—looked down to the spot where he had hooked the thread with his finger. 

There was nothing. 

Drawing upon an instinct that had  extracted him from many dicey situations throughout his military school life and beyond, he thrust his hand down and peeled back the cloth.

Again, there was nothing. Grant persisted. 

Marsha was out of her seat, standing beside the car. She opened her passenger door to ask, “What is it Grant? Are you all right?”

Grant remained seated, and this time he thrust his entire hand down into the crevice of the torn cloth and the side of the console. 

Then he felt them.

He grasped and lifted out his hand where he opened it in front of Marsha’s bulging eyes.

Diamonds. Real ones. At least ten. Grant used his great strength as well as his determination to tear away the entire area of fabric next to the console.

He and Marsha were speechless.There were diamonds. However, this time there were dozens; close to a hundred.

They stared first at the diamonds and then at each other. They repeated this three times within thirty seconds.

“Holy shi—crap,” hissed Grant, “holy crap.”

Marsha sagged onto the passenger seat. 

Her mouth hung open. Her eyes were well past protruding, and her heart hammered her chest with fear.

 

End of Chapter Seven


© Copyright 2017 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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