When Peejay Novak takes a weekend trip to the mountains with her parents, she never dreams her dad will disappear.
A decade later, Logan Novak is still missing and haunting dreams send Peejay on a quest to find her father. As she searches for the missing pieces of her puzzling life, she makes a few enemies, redefines old friendships, and explores her sexuality.
Dream Tapestry is more than a mystery. It is about exposing deceit and the story of one woman's pursuit of the truth. Above all it is about discovery of self.
Download to your Kindle (eBook)
Brave New Woman Mysteries
Peejay Novak is young, naïve, and very wealthy. But most of all, she is alone and scared.
Haunting nightmares and the mysterious disappearance of her father ten years before, take her on a journey to excavate her past. She wanders from the affluent neighborhoods of Georgetown and Potomac to the peaceful mountains near Camp David, Maryland. She climbs into the jaws of a publishing empire and slides into the depths of Washington's bawdy night world. And as Peejay searches for the missing pieces of her puzzling life, she makes a few enemies, redefines old friendships, explores her sexuality, and eventually discovers herself.
With the help of two associates — longhaired detective, P. D. Slichtor and glamorous author, Elizabeth Briteful — Peejay unravels her tapestry of dreams. But will she be ready for the truth?
Logan had been awake for hours, staring into the darkness. He had turned in early in anticipation of the coming day--one of the most important days in his life--but sleep would not come. His travel clock ticked from the bedside table, punctuating the silence. He touched a button to illuminate its face. 5:30. Jackie lay curled beside him, breathing softly. He gently slipped from the bed and padded across the carpet.
With the bathroom door shut behind him, he stared into the vanity mirror. Dark shadows beneath his eyes made him resemble a sleepy raccoon. A hot shower would revive him. He hid behind the mildewed plastic curtain as steamy spray rushed over his head and caressed his shoulders. When he stepped from the tub minutes later, he felt ready to tackle the day.
He wiped the fog from the mirror with a rough hotel towel, then dried his hair and dripping body. His cheeks tingled as he lathered menthol shaving cream over his youthful, nearly hairless face. His freckled cheeks and wavy red hair made him look more like a college student than the thirty-five-year-old reporter he was.
He dressed in the clothes he had selected the evening before: a pair of well-worn jeans with a blue striped polo shirt, topsiders, no socks. He finished by splashing on a touch of Brut cologne. His favorite.
Logan hoped he looked like a tourist. He didn't want to attract attention, although he wondered how he would interview a highly visible presidential campaign aide without being noticed. But that wasn't his problem since all arrangements for the meeting had been made by an intermediary. Following instructions, he had spent the night at a predetermined hotel in Thurmont, Maryland, just minutes from Camp David.
As he walked into the bedroom, the bathroom light splashed over his thirteen-year-old daughter's sleeping face. She remained motionless as he turned off the light.
Peejay was his joy and his most ardent fan. She had a scrapbook of his magazine stories and newspaper articles, which she collected with enthusiasm. She was also a talented writer, and had received an "A" for her twenty-page story entitled 'My Father The Reporter', which she had prepared for her eighth grade English course. It was a fanciful epic with Logan portrayed as a super sleuth who chased bad guys. He had been proud and embarrassed; but now, for the first time in his life, he had a chance to write an article that could equal his daughter's imagination.
His feet became entangled in the bedspread that lay in a heap at the foot of the bed. He mumbled a curse as he stumbled.
"Are you leaving now?" she called from the dark. He leaned over and placed a quick parting kiss on her forehead.
"Gotta go," he answered. "I can't be late for this one." Logan hesitated as he opened the door. His wife's eyes were iridescent as a ray of light from a street lamp spilled across the threshold. Her long blonde hair flowed over a silky blue nightgown.
"When will you be back?" she whispered.
"I don't know, but I'll call as soon as I can. Try to go back to sleep."
She needed rest, he thought, as he watched Jackie tuck her head beneath the blanket. He suddenly wanted to stay. He turned to leave instead.
As the door clicked shut, a crisp morning breeze with a hint of mist rushed to greet him. He took a deep breath of thick country air and felt vibrant as its briskness filled his lungs. The morning darkness concealed the Catoctin Mountains, but he felt their presence looming nearby.
Logan climbed into his green Ford LTD, and tossed his tattered briefcase onto the passenger seat. The clock said 6:25. He was anxious to begin. He started the engine, pulled out of the parking space, then backed into the same slot. With the motor running, the heater slowly removed the chill from the car. Logan shivered slightly, leaned his head back, and closed his eyes to concentrate.
What to do next, he didn't know. He would wait as instructed. He tried to remember his game plan--ideas he had dictated at the office. It was unfortunate he had left his tape recorder in his desk drawer, but he had scribbled a few notes on a yellow legal pad the night before. They would probably stay in his briefcase, as usual. He preferred to stay loose. Some of his best stories were written that way. Both his father and Jackie begged him to get organized, but he knew he never would. Things always turned out for the best, even if he took the long way around. Thankfully, his colleagues respected him and his readers loved him.
He only had to gain recognition from Margaret Lothrop, the publisher of the American Review. This story would finally make her appreciate his talent. Then he would kiss her magazine goodbye.
He knew this was the story of the year, perhaps of his lifetime. It would change the outcome of the November Presidential election. A job at The Washington Post was practically guaranteed. All he had to do was meet his source, verify his facts, and write a credible article. Then he could make a new beginning.
He needed a fresh start--a job where he would be hired because of his credentials, not because he was married to the publisher's daughter.
The sky was tinged pink when a shiny black Volvo coupe pulled into the parking lot and disappeared behind the motel. Logan clicked on the wipers to sweep dew droplets from the window. As the sky became lighter, he was amazed by how the white morning fog clung to the mountain slopes while the valley remained untouched. The Volvo reappeared, passed in front of his car and stopped three spaces beyond; then, its brake lights flashed to attract his attention. When it pulled onto Route 550, Logan followed dutifully behind. His heart thumped dully in his chest. He was surprised at how uneasy he felt. He didn't recognize the car: Virginia Plate RZZ495--a rental.
The driver kept at least two lengths ahead, preventing him from seeing in the rear view mirror. There was a passenger. Two men for sure. His initial exhilaration was now tinged with a sense of foreboding. After more than fifteen years in the business, this was the closest to the edge he had ever been.
As he trailed the car, he recalled the phone conversation that had led him to Thurmont. "I'm directly involved in this campaign, Logan. I can't make any claims that would be construed as inappropriate political behavior. All I can say is this story is big!"
It was imperative to protect the identity of his source, a former college buddy who was now one of the President's top campaign aides. He had phoned Logan just three weeks before, claiming he had information that would remind the world of Watergate. He had promised a story that would influence the public's opinion of both presidential candidates, and the evidence to back it up. If it were that big--important enough to change the election results--Logan would have to work fast. The election was less than a month away.
He had never heard from his friend again. "You'll be contacted with further details," he had explained. So Logan had impatiently awaited final instructions. Thursday evening, an anonymous voice had finally left directions to the Thurmont motel on his home answering machine. He had checked in using the false name he had been told to use. The room was already paid in full. He had felt like a spy and relished the feeling--until now.
The Volvo wound through the mountainous terrain towards Sabillasville. "Fort Ritchie," Logan spoke out loud. "That makes sense." The interview obviously couldn't be conducted at Camp David, as several correspondents from the White House press pool were sure to be at the retreat. After all, during an election campaign the President and his staff rarely have privacy. Fort Ritchie, a guarded military base nearby, would be the perfect place to conduct an interview out of the public eye.
The cars curved through forests of lush red, orange and yellow trees. The autumn colors were at their peak, with fluttering leaves blazing brilliantly in the early morning sun. Logan knew their branches would be bare in just a few weeks. Leftover wisps of morning fog still licked the pavement as the winding road cut a path through a steep rocky gorge. To his left, a sparkling stream rushed over fallen timber, splashing white foam over jagged rocks. Logan cracked his window and breathed in the pine-laden air. Beside the creek, a solitary redwood table hid beneath massive oak and birch trees--a perfect place for a family picnic.
The road climbed upward and leveled off as they left the dense forest. When they entered the village of Sabillasville, the lead car veered right at a fork in the road. Logan followed. He was confused since he had visited Fort Ritchie the previous year and knew it to be in the opposite direction.
The clock indicated it was almost 8:00. Jackie and Peejay would be awake.
He hadn't planned to bring them on this trip. In fact, this was the first time he had allowed the girls to accompany him. But Jackie had been ill recently, and Peejay had begged to tag along. And while they enjoyed the opportunity to vacation together, in truth, his family provided the perfect cover for his secret interview. Who would suspect him with his wife and daughter along?
He smiled as he thought of his family. They meant everything to him. They would be proud when they learned how they had helped him score the story of the year.
The Volvo turned onto a side road and again entered the mountainous forest. The pavement soon became a single lane road. Noisy gravel sprayed beneath his tires. No other cars had passed since Sabillasville. Towering trees formed a dark tunnel overhead, with splotches of blue sky peaking between their leaves. It was the perfect, secluded, place to meet.
The Volvo stopped. Logan pulled behind and cut the motor. He stepped out of his car and waited. The passenger walked toward him, while the driver remained in the black car. It wasn't his friend.
Logan nodded in acknowledgment. He didn't recognize the man with his hand outstretched in greeting. He was a businessman, perhaps Logan's age, dressed in a gray pinstriped suit with a yellow paisley tie.
"And you?" Logan asked.
"I've been asked to take care of you, Mr. Novak." Logan felt his face flush. "I'm to meet someone else here. Where is he?"
"No sir. Not here." The voice was familiar. "I'll be riding with you for the last part of our trip, sir. My chauffeur will lead the way."
The stranger gestured toward Logan's car. "May I have your keys, sir?" he asked politely. "I'll be driving."
Logan was wary as he placed his keys in the stranger's hand and circled around the car. Who were these men? Where was Bob Padgett? And why hadn't he told his editor, or at least his father, where he was going?
Logan heard crunching footsteps approaching rapidly from behind. He twirled on his heel and saw the man's arm rise above his head and descend with a crushing blow. His skull exploded with searing pain as an unspeakable force split his cranium. The world blurred and he crumpled to the ground.
"Why?" Logan cried. Warm blood streamed over his face. He could not see.
More footsteps ran toward him, kicking stones in his face. "Hurry!" a scratchy voice shouted. His arms and feet were held in a vice-like grip as he felt his limp body lift into the air. His buttocks dragged against the gravel road as they moved him to the rented car. He groaned as he landed in the trunk with a jolting thud. The lid banged shut and he lost consciousness.
The car raced and bounced over the bumpy road, slamming Logan's head against the hard floor. A sharp pain ripped through his head and he abruptly awoke. The trunk was stale and airless. In a panic, he gasped for breath. His chest heaved as he sucked in deeply. Concentrate. Control your breathing. Conserve air.
It was hard.
The pain was piercing and made concentration difficult. He tried to calm down by taking short deliberate breaths. There was no light. A vision of Jackie and Peejay swam through the darkness. They would be worried when he didn't return. What will they do? Who are these men? His mind clouded as he struggled to remain alert. He wanted to be awake when the car stopped. Somehow he would escape.
He had no way of gauging time but it felt like they had been driving forever. Thankfully the car was again on a paved road and the ride, though not comfortable, was amazingly smooth. The speed was controlled. He realized the driver wouldn't want to attract attention.
For awhile, he could hear traffic. Then the car left the highway. He rolled against the tail light assembly and the metal nuts smashed into his cheek. The temperature dropped, turning the trunk icy cold. He knew they were back in the mountains.
What mountains? Where are we? So many questions. His thoughts were becoming clearer. He felt the gash at the crown of his head. A crusty substance matted his hair. Dried blood.
The car stopped.
Logan prepared to leap from the trunk.
He never had a chance.
When the trunk lid opened, the daylight was blinding.
"Out!" the chauffeur commanded. He grabbed Logan's arm and yanked him with a rough jerk. Logan stumbled out, looking around through swollen eyes. The dusty road was desolate. The shoulders gave way to a shallow ditch on one side and an endless drop on the other. They were higher than the hills near Sabillasville. The air was colder and the trees had lost their leaves. He guessed they were further North, perhaps somewhere in Pennsylvania. Rolling hills of barren trees stretched for miles before him. They were at the crest of a mountain range. "What are we doing here?" he bravely inquired.
"Hey, don't worry man," the chauffeur said gruffly. "We're just gonna detain you. You'll be home for supper." Logan relaxed slightly but remained cautious. The portly man gestured toward the dirt embankment. "Sit down!" Logan collapsed at his feet. "We'll wait here."
The unkempt man didn't look like a chauffeur. He was dressed in khaki trousers and a plaid flannel shirt. Graying hair fell over his menacing eyes. His complexion was ruddy." Cigarette?" he asked as he lit up. Logan declined. He wondered how his friend had come to know these two thugs, or if he knew them at all.
His own Ford pulled up a few minutes later and parked behind him. He watched cautiously as his attacker approached. He was alone. Logan studied his face. Brown hair, blue eyes, tan and muscular. He definitely worked out. There was something vaguely familiar, but what?
"Sorry, sir. I didn't mean to hit you so hard."
Right! Logan thought. "I don't understand," he said instead.
"You're not supposed to understand," the man countered. "We don't. We're just following orders." The chauffeur chuckled as if he'd just heard a joke, then walked toward the black Volvo. "See ya, man," he said with an off-handed wave.
Logan hoped not. He wanted to ask who had hired the men, but didn't. The less he knew the better. "We're going to leave you here, Mr. Novak," the younger man offered. He threw Logan's keys on the ground. "Wait until dark, then go home."
The shaken man silently nodded his head in agreement. He didn't know where he was, but he was glad the horrible ordeal was almost over. In the distance, the Volvo motor started. He listened for the car to drive away. Logan drew his knees to his chin, pressed his face in his hands and began to cry.