It had been exactly two weeks to the day of the attack at Splendor House. All had been quiet in Penny's world and she hadn't had any more terrible dreams.
Megan had insisted that Penny take the time off and just chill. Penny had gone to see her doctor and the doctor had declared her right as rain with the exception of being slightly anemic. And she had cancelled her appointment with her therapist. She still wasn't ready to go there and discuss whatever it was that had happened. Because in truth, she still didn't have a handle on what had happened.
Penny still checked in with Mela and gave her updates as to her mood and it was nice to have someone to confide in that didn't think you were crazy. Mela was with Penny and she knew it. It's not that didn't trust Megan, of course she did, but Penny remembered how Megan had reacted to the cook's encounter with whatever it was when the ghost researcher had come to Splendor House. Megan had thought it was all on the cook, not a possibility. She'd wait to discuss the incident with Megan until the right time.
Megan had made arrangements for a work crew to join them in the cleaning out of the upstairs of the building and today was the day. If they found things to sell they would store them in the basement until later in the spring. They were hoping that they would score again like they had with the contents of the basement and have enough money to fix up the upstairs and rent out at least two of the three apartments. And today was the day.
The weather had turned cold again after a couple of weeks of lovely mild weather and so as she prepared to leave her house for the only the second time in two weeks, Penny slipped on her jacket. Penny felt the something in her pocket and then remembered the parcel that she had found in the upstairs and put into her pocket. It had been in that pocket since that day she had had to call Megan to come and get her at the cafe. Only now the package seemed heavier than before. She pulled the leather bound package out and took off the string which almost disintegrated in her hands. Inside the package was a mask, or at least that is what she thought it was. The mask was made of bone of some sort, beads, glass and had fiber around the edges. It looked to be very old and yet it wasn't discolored or unkempt but had a sense of age to it. There was something playful about it. Penny even giggled at seeing and touching it. It looked very much like a dragons head or perhaps a tribal mask. She took out her phone, snapped a picture and put the contents of the parcel on the entry table. She wanted to show it to Megan and would find a place for it when she got back home.
And off she drove to the cafe and on to the dreaded clean up ahead.
But that was no to be.
Penny's car was found outside of a strip club in the next town about 30 miles away. Megan had been calling the police and everyone else she could think of when Penny didn't show up at the cafe for two days.
Megan had gone to Penny's house, looked through the windows. Penny's cat greeted her with a very hearty welcome and then disappeared back into the house through the cat door. When Megan didn't follow the cat inside, the cat came back out complaining and letting her know that she was hungry. Poor kitty. Megan scooped her up and took her home with her.
It was only by chance that one of the regulars of Splendor House, who worked downtown but lived in the neighboring bedroom community saw Penny's little orange car parked outside the sleazy strip joint. By the time anyone knew where she had been, she wasn't anywhere to be found. Megan called the police.
According to the investigating detective, yes, the bartender remembered a very pretty red headed woman who had wandered in the club two days ago. She had just sat there alone for about an hour. Then some really old man joined her and they left about the same time. But as to where she had gone, he didn't have a clue. But he was sure she had left with the old guy. And when the bouncer was questioned, he too confirmed the same story and added that the old guy had a car and driver. The license plate was from out of state and he was sure that the car was a rental limo.
So on to the limo rental the police had gone. Nothing much there, the name on the contract turned out to be a dead end but they had his picture on the surveillance tape. They ran the photo but he wasn't wanted or on any known terrorist list so, it came to nothing. Just another girl missing.
Megan and her husband just couldn't sit by and do nothing after they got the limited information that the police had given them and decided to follow up at the strip club and the limo rental themselves. They got nowhere at either place.
Megan also had a feeling that there might be a clue in Penny's house. The police had already gone in but found nothing out of the ordinary, but then they didn't know Penny personally. So Megan and her husband went into Penny's house looking for something, anything that might lead them to their friend.
On the hall table was a funny looking mask that Megan had never seen before, very unlike Penny's taste in decor and next to it was a sliver of paper torn from Jenny's daytimer with the name of the former owner of their building. Megan hadn't even thought of this man in all these years. She contacted the police with his name and they told her they had already investigated that lead but that the man was deceased, had been for 50 years.
The detective did say that they had a photo of the man that had rented the limo but they had no leads on his identity. The detective would sent the photo to her phone and she was to call if she recognized the man.
Megan and her husband were thorough in their search of the house, nothing was found out of the ordinary. Nothing except the strange little mask. Megan wondered where it had come from and why Mr. Rico Maravilla's name was there too.