Cocooned in darkness, p.1
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       Cocooned in Darkness, p.1

           Leona Bodie
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Cocooned in Darkness

  A Digital Short Story



  Cocooned in DarknessSecond Edition

  by Leona DeRosa Bodie

  Copyright 2014 by Leona DeRosa Bodie

  ebook ISBN: 9781310659935

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  Leona DeRosa Bodie

  “Leona Bodie had done a good job; this novel is . . . RAW AND GRITTY, BUT ENTERTAINING. ENJOY.”

  Reviewer for Book Pleasures


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  “BIG BUCKS AND BIGGER DREAMS ENTWINE IN A WEB OF DECEIT. I can't wait to read more by this author. Leona Bodie is a new master storyteller. I found Shadow Cay hard to put down . . .The characters are lifelike and made me care.”

  JW Thompson, Author of

  Mysterious Lady and Hidden Evil

  “LEONA BODIE IS A MASTERFUL STORYTELLER and I highly recommend her new thriller, SHADOW CAY.”

  Chere Reynolds, President of the

  Florida Assn. of Forensic Professionals


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  “This suspenseful novel is a treat to read because of the way the author delineates her characters. LEONA BODIE IS A FRESH NEW TALENT in the much-plowed field of mystery books with something interesting and original to say. Shadow Cay is a 'can't put down' reading experience.”

  Malcolm Mahr,

  Author of Murder at Paradise Spa


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  Sea of Secrets Series:

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  Cocooned in Darkness

  By Leona DeRosa Bodie

  “You’re not smart enough to figure out my needs.” Nina’s face hardened, as her lips curled in disgust. “And if you don’t figure it out pretty damn quick, there’s gonna be hell to pay.”

  “It’s not about me not making enough money, Nina. You always come first. No matter how hard I try or how much I give, it’s never enough. Does making me feel bad, make you feel powerful?”

  “I don’t know what you’re talking about, you controlling bastard. You’re imagining things. Stop making things up.”

  Comments like that drove him crazy. Claude Pelletier couldn’t tell anyone about his marriage, because they wouldn’t understand. This Saturday, along with all the other landmines he’d dodged for the past ten years, made him feel so alone and defeated; he stalked out the door at three o’clock then drove to a remote dock, where he kept his boat.

  Five hours later, he sensed a presence. Although the sound of the safety releasing terrified him, it was only when his eyes glimpsed the gun, the click registered in his brain. And echoed, clicking hate, death and other secrets. He felt his heart hammering in his chest, felt the fear rising inside him.

  His head throbbed. Cold steel pressed into his temple. “Please, please don’t hurt me!”

  Claude heard a snarl. He took a deep breath and looked up.

  The man met his gaze. Then the stranger with the gun snapped, “You sniveling sonabitch.”

  Had to be a dream. This couldn’t be happening. The gunman was pulling the trigger. Claude lunged, hit the gunman and got him into a chokehold. The gun fired. Even though the bullet grazed his head, Claude wrested the weapon away, but the struggle continued with furious hands ripping at his undersides.

  Claude found his hands around the gunman’s neck and squeezed. Harder, until flesh oozed between his clenched fingers. He squeezed as hard as he could, until the kicking stopped, the gurgling faded, and the man beneath him lay perfectly still. Claude bent over, staring into vacant eyes. Moonlight had turned the corpse’s face a pale blue.

  Claude’s gaze shifted from the warm body to his own cold hands. Seeing beyond the calluses, he was filled with an unimaginable revulsion. He jerked his palms away. This wasn’t murder he told himself. He acted in self-defense. His attacker deserved to die. This man was burglarizing his sailboat. Why? He had nothing of value. Still shaking, Claude reached into the stranger’s pocket and withdrew a mobile phone. He read the first text message, “Call Nina,” noticing her cell phone number.

  He swallowed, waited and told himself, it wasn’t that!

  His face grew hotter and his fist convulsed with rage. He suspected her of having an affair, but never imagined her hiring a hit man. A vein throbbed at Claude’s temple when he remembered the gun had a silencer. Then he pictured her squinty eyes, pinched face... her off-kilter smile whenever her finger trailed the polished, stainless steel blade of a carving knife. He recalled Nina advancing and her loud, grating voice, spewing he was deaf to her complaints, every time little things went wrong. Except now he realized, she hated him enough to kill him—she hated him that much.

  Her fury had taken on a life of its own, and he had to accept she was capable of such treachery. For once, Claude didn’t need a shot of rum. He focused on going to the Virgin Islands, while he draped a tarp over the body and made a mental note to dispose of it during his crossing. Before he left, he had one other errand to take care of first. He took a seat in his car and gathered his wits.

  After a half hour of driving, he found himself back home, standing in a shadowed corner. He remembered the pain that lingered within these four walls. Seconds before a dying light succumbed to the darkness where dreams mingled with nightmares, the bulb flickered. The beam dimmed. The rhythm of its ebb and flow made sweat collect on his forehead.

  Claude fingered the ruby lipstick stains on one of two empty wine glasses. Summer Sunset, Nina’s favorite color. Normally he’d be struck by the moonlight glinting on the white Zin bottle. Instead, acid heaved from his middle-aged stomach to his throat. He retreated to the outside deck with a beer to watch the night sky, while the leftovers in the kitchen congealed on the plates and the rotten fruit attracted gnats.

  Anger, bitter and bleak, coursed through his veins. Setting his beer on the railing, he paced and thought about how many wrongs had taken place here. He stopped for several moments to pull himself together then hurried into the garage. Starting now, he knew exactly how to set things right and at the same time purify the vileness. When he returned to the house, Claude lugged a ten-gallon container of gasoline from the hallway up to the second floor. After he poured a quarter of the fuel on the landing, he hurried down the stairs, dousing each step. The fumes alone, alarmingly pungent, would drive any man to recklessness. Still, the sloshing of the gas inside the can, growing louder as he descended, comforted him.

  At the base of the stairway, he dropped the red poly gas can long enough to peer through the window, but detected nothing from the next door neighbor’s house, just a quiet Sunday with no interruptions and no prying eyes. That reassured him, but the LCD panel on his pocket watch, glowing 10:01 p.m., did not. Through the murkiness, he painstakingly avoided puddles streaming from the stairs, and after that toted the container into the den. There he knocked over furniture, soaked it in gasoline, and set it ablaze.

  It was far easier than he thought. Only a flick of
his wrist and one strike of the match. A gray puff followed the spark. It smoldered. Within seconds, the flames flared, leapt over the upholstered seat cushions and spread. The conflagration soon swelled into a bonfire. Nothing burned as perfectly as wood, nylon, and polyurethane. He admired how the two revelations, now dancing on his loveseat, looked like gyrating tribal dancers with heavy black headdresses. Their huge plumes of smoke spiraled to the ceiling.

  The soot scorched his skin, invaded his nostrils and braised his lungs. That instant he’d gladly exchange the acrid smoke for clean salt air; yet he ignored his shortness of breath until he couldn’t stop coughing. It was time to leave but Claude lingered, unable to tear himself away. What he felt was more than elation. It was a perverted sense of achievement that he found sexually arousing. He pictured Nina in the upstairs bedroom, sleeping off yet another hangover. He had to keep moving.

  Claude tore himself away and slipped out the back door. In his safe spot, he tugged on the ebony hood, attached to his sweatshirt, pushing it forward to conceal his identity and his fears. Moments after he lit the fire, the gasoline fumes exploded and blew the windows out of their home.

  By midnight, the pain in Claude’s head radiated up one side of his face. The headache charred his sense of well-being and obliterated any guilt he might’ve had. It didn’t erase the inferno trapped in his skull though. Nor did it expunge his memory of the firefighters fanning the flames, showering the lawn with embers, as police held back a mass of onlookers, milling behind yellow crime scene tape. He didn’t want to
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