When young Air Force widow Trixie Blake returns to her hometown of Dreamland, Arkansas, it doesn’t take long for her to wonder if the ‘dream’ is really a nightmare. This is Book 1 of a 3-book series.
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The Dreamland Series
Newly-widowed Trixie Blake returns to her hometown of Dreamland, Arkansas, to see the building left to her in her grandfather's will. She has only vague memories of the town she left at almost five years old. After her mother divorced her father and moved away from Dreamland, she never saw her grandfather again. She has no idea why John Quimby Lloyd, Jr., left her a building and nothing to her older brother Bill.
On her first evening in town, she is delighted to reconnect with two high school classmates now married to each other and living in Dreamland. She is less pleased to learn that an unknown development company wants the entire downtown, including her building, for some yet to be explained business. The local front man, Guy Langley, has an unexplained relationship with her mother Lucy, and none with his son Mitch, a local attorney and widower.
Still reeling from her husband's sudden death and without roots, Trixie digs in her heels and decides to renew the Quimby Building's first floor lease held by two senior citizen sisters, the Misses Drummond, proprietors of the successful Sunshine Style Shoppe. She decides the second floor will be perfect for her own business, a gift shop and tea room.
Danger stalks her from her temporary lodging at the hotel to the small cottage she's offered by Hetty Green, a retired English teacher. Miss Hetty taught most of the town's residents, including Trixie's mother and also Doug Everton, the police chief who takes an instant dislike to Trixie. Then local historian Candace King—who has a few secrets of her own—fills Trixie in on the small town's past, including its most infamous part-time resident, Al Capone.
Though Al is history, the Drummonds insist he still haunts the Quimby Building. Even Trixie smells cigar smoke after a while. But it's the threats on her life that keep her guessing if she's made the right decision or not. To stay grounded, she has to take a page from the playbook of Danny Jefferson, a young man with Down Syndrome, whose gentle nature masks a keen awareness of what's really going on in Dreamland, Arkansas.
And she finds a special friend in Mitch Langley who knows about trying to move on, because he's been there—done that—and has the scars to prove it.
But as Trixie hung up, the sound of a car gunning its motor and the smell of garbage burning sent her flying in every direction. The smoke seeping under the back door led her to a brown paper sack slowly turning to ashes on the steps. She recognized red lettering from Martin’s Market as the sack crumbled, revealing a hodge-podge obviously taken from a dumpster somewhere.
She brought a pan of water from the kitchen and doused the embers of the fire, then leaned closer to inspect the soggy mess and gagged. Entrails from some butchered animal trailed across the concrete. She went inside and leaned against the door, taking deep breaths and willing away the message she’d just been sent.
Trixie changed from jeans to slacks with a dressier pull-over and sat down on the bed to brush her hair. I can’t legally carry that gun, but I hate to leave it here in case whoever unlocked the window comes back for it—or whatever they were after—hopefully not me. I could lock it in the Cherokee. Surely nobody would break into my car parked in plain view in front of the Twilight. But somebody walked up to my back door in broad daylight and dumped that disgusting pile on the doorstep. Nothing’s certain, at least not around here.
After struggling with her conscience, she left the gun in the drawer and went out to her car. How much should she tell Rudy and Mitch tonight?
The words sent Trixie whirling to face Chief Doug Everton who wasn’t in uniform. “What do you want?”
“I was passing and thought I’d see if you’d had another disaster.”
“Not unless you want to count the bonfire of animal guts on my back doorstep.”
He didn’t react. “Did you report it?”
“Why? Nobody’s going to take it seriously or do anything about it.”
“You should’ve called.”
“The less I have to do with you and your bunch, the better, especially after what you did to Danny Jefferson last night. Accusing him of slashing my tires and lying about having a witness was a mean, nasty thing to do to anybody, much less someone who fights every day to be accepted as a real member of society.”
“I didn’t accuse him of anything.”
“Pardon me? I sat right in that house over there with Rudy, Dee, and Danny, and heard all about it.”
The man seemed to be considering something. “I picked him up and took him to the station to ask him what he knew about it. Danny’s sharp. People don’t pay attention to him, so they don’t think about what he sees and hears. But believe me, Danny knows what goes on in this town.”
Why didn’t you take care of him, Trixie? Danny’s words assaulted her again.
“He distinctly told us…”
“I took him downtown because something’s been bothering him for a while, and I didn’t think he’d open up there with his mother and sister. He’s very protective of them.”
“You’re denying telling him the D.A. would be in touch with him?”
“I told him nothing of the sort. I took him into a private room and got him a soda, and then I got called out to the telephone. I was gone maybe fifteen minutes, and when I came back I just asked him if he’d seen or heard anything that might help me out. He said he hadn’t, but he was really uptight. I talked a little more, hoping he’d relax and come up with something but no dice.”
“Then who scared him half to death last night? Not that I believe you didn’t.”
“I don’t care what you believe, lady. Now is that mess still on your doorstep?”
“I didn’t touch it. I put out the fire and left it until I can get a shovel to scoop it up and toss it in the woods behind the house.”
“Show me.” He followed Trixie around the cottage and hunkered down to examine the remains of the brown paper bag and its contents. “It’s a Martin’s bag.”
“So, of course, now you’ll accuse Danny of doing this, too.”
The officer got to his feet so quickly that Trixie had to step back. “I didn’t accuse Danny of anything, but if somebody did, I’ll find out.”
“Have you ever known him to make stuff up?”
“No. He doesn’t think that way.” He glanced back at the pile on the doorstep. “Are you going somewhere?”
“I’ll come back for this in a few minutes. You don’t have to hang around.”
“I guess Miss Hetty told you I went to school with your mother.”
“Who dumped whom?”
“It wasn’t like that.”
“Then why are you treating me like something akin to what’s on my back doorstep?”
He looked at her for a long silent moment before he walked away.