The Moonglow Cafe
Deborah Garner is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now divides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.
New York reporter Paige MacKenzie has a hidden motive when she heads to the small town of Timberton, Montana. Assigned to research the area’s unique Yogo sapphires for the Manhattan Post, she hopes to reconnect romantically with handsome cowboy Jake Norris. The local gem gallery offers the material needed for the article, but the discovery of an old diary, hidden inside the wall of a historic hotel, soon sends her on a detour into the underworld of art and deception.
Each of the town’s residents holds a key to untangling more than one long-buried secret, from the hippie chick owner of a new age café to the mute homeless man in the town park. As the worlds of western art and sapphire mining collide, Paige finds herself juggling research, romance and danger. With stolen sapphires and shady characters thrown into the mix, will Paige escape the consequences of her own curiosity?
Beneath the hotel’s soft comforter, Paige awakened shivering. The crisp morning air stung her face. Half asleep, she pulled her body into a fetal position and tucked her head under the covers. This wasn’t enough. A few choice words tumbled from her lips. She’d fallen into bed without thinking to turn on the heater. Now she was paying the price.
Still cursing, she slid out from under the bedcovers. A rush of chilly air wrapped its fingers around her bare shoulders and crawled up her neck. She pulled a woven afghan from the foot of the bed and wrapped it around her. Better, but not by much.
She tiptoed to the window, chastising herself. She’d never developed an affinity for slippers. The slick wooden boards were like sheets of ice against the soles of her feet. Approaching an ancient radiator quickly, she fumbled around in search of a way to turn it on. Eventually she felt a round knob protruding from the far side. She twisted the round dial as forcefully as she could. A slight warmth began to radiate out. She reached behind the radiator to check the wall-facing side, but felt only cold air. She sighed. A one-sided radiator would take ages to heat the room.
She leaned over, inspecting the back again, still seeing nothing attached to the heating unit. Yet, a square of peeling wallpaper caught her attention. That was it, she thought, her confidence growing. A switch must control the radiator, enclosed behind a decorative wallpapered panel.
Pressing herself against the wall, she slid her hand along its surface. Her fingers felt a rough edge of wallpaper. She slipped her fingers underneath, expecting to feel a switch. Instead, she felt an unsteady block of wood. She adjusted her body and tried to pry the loose panel forward. After several unsuccessful attempts, the wood gave way, revealing a cavity in the wall.
The room’s temperature forgotten, Paige worked her way around the object, feeling a smooth surface, with light scratches. A sharper texture followed that—wrinkled paper, barely attached to the leather. Her anticipation grew.
She adjusted her stance and pulled harder. When she slid her fingers behind the leather, she realized crumpled pages were loosely attached. It was a diary and, from the looks and feel of it, it had been enclosed in the wall for a while.
She braced one foot against the wall and clung to the diary, pulling back with the weight of her body. To her delight, she felt the book move forward. But to her dismay, a rough, tearing sound accompanied the motion. A hollow thud echoed from inside the wall as she fell backwards onto the floor.
Paige held the fragile notebook and blew lightly across its surface. Dust motes floated out into the chilly room. She reached inside the wall, hoping to find the remaining pages wedged against a crossbeam or caught on a nail. Nothing. The rest of the old diary had fallen beyond her reach.
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