for the Dreamslippers Series
in the Flock
launch of an intriguing female detective series... A mystery with an
unusual twist and quirky settings; an enjoyable surprise for fans of
the genre.” — Kirkus
author Lisa Brunette has a genuine flair for deftly crafting a
superbly entertaining mystery/suspense thriller. Cat
in the Flock
is a terrific read…” — Helen Dumont, Midwest
portrayals of Cat and Granny Grace are nothing short of genius.”
fascinating plot populated with interesting and engaging
Wishing Shelf Awards
hooked, this reader intends further sojourns in Cat’s dreamslipping
world. Highly recommended.” — Frances Carden, Readers
with twists and turns, humor, a little romance, and suspense, this
refreshing take on the world of private investigating will appeal to
readers of many different genres.” —
fascinating tale of mystery, romance, and what one woman's dreams are
made of. Brunette will keep you awake far into the night.” — Mary
Daheim, bestselling author of the Bed-and-Breakfast and Emma
sexy and profound, Cat
in the Flock
is an excellent first novel. Lisa Brunette is an author to enjoy now
and watch for the future.” — Jon Talton, author of the David
Mapstone Mysteries, the Cincinnati Casebooks and the thriller
drinkable, page-turning thriller that poses questions about faith,
family, sexuality, and secrecy in an authentically rendered Seattle
landscape.” — Corrina Wycoff, author of O
little Sue Grafton and a dose of Janet Evanovich, mixed with the
issues of closeted, born-again Christians, Iraq war veterans with
PTSD, and rival love interests for ‘Cat’ Cathedral, is just the
right recipe for a promising new series.” — Rev. Eric O'del,
Amazing Grace Spiritual Center
is a brilliant, suspenseful whodunit in its own merit, full of twists
and turns, pursued by a unique pair of private investigators—Cat
and her grandmother Grace, in a character-as-well-as-plot-driven ride
pulsating with the crisis not only in the murder investigation, but
also in their own lives. What’s more, the introduction of the
original practice of dreamslipping—their capability of ‘slipping’
into other people’s dreams—adds to another dimension of the
novel. Far from making it semi-sci-fi or something like that, it
fantastically blends the Freudian dream interpretation with the crime
analysis in a new depth. The book, truly one of the kind, calls for
attention of the readers devoted to the genre and in general.”
— Qiu Xiaolong, author of Shanghai
named one of The
Wall Street Journal's
Best Books of 2015
isn’t afraid to play with you and then terrify you. It’s a
mystery with teeth and wounds and loss. Unforgettable, charming in
the creation of the characters and world, serpentine and dark, Framed
is a mystery not to be missed.” — Frances Carden, Readers
cozy mystery about a family of psychically gifted amateur sleuths
possesses enough magic to keep you hooked from the first page until
the last.” — BestThrillers.com
become a Lisa Brunette fan with this read.” —
is a fun book, much more fast-paced than a cozy, but without the
gruesome and gory details of real crime mystery novels.” —
savory mystery with a side of supernatural.” —
is the second book in the Dreamslippers series. It’s easy to follow
and hard to put down, making readers who may not have read the first
book race back to give it a try!” — InD’tale
Brunette continues to develop vibrant characters in a stunning story
that will keep you reading well past your bedtime!” — On
intriguing right from the start! I definitely have to get my hands on
the first novel of the series!” — Book-o-Craze
love a good, eccentric granny character, and Grace is in the top five
granny characters I've encountered this year.” — Back
credit to the author for holding my interest over the busy festive
season!” — Ali,
the Dragon Slayer
was interesting to see how the dreamslippers worked, as each one had
a different method of invading and analyzing dreams. Framed
is a book I recommend reading.” — Michelle Stanley, Writer
book had me hooked right from the beginning! I love the characters!”
great mystery with lots of potential killers and twists and turns.”
Bronder Book Reviews
when they thought the case was solved, there were more questions…”
believe this is going to be a great series, and I can’t wait to go
back to book one and learn more about Cat and Grace’s
dreamslipping.” — Genuine
to the Truth
found myself completely submerged in this story of intrigue.” —
total whodunit mystery that will keep you on edge until the very
end!” — Sage
Adderley, Sage’s Blog Tours
loved following along as they had to dig deep to find the killer.”
Bronder Book Reviews
to the Truth
is a tantalizing, surprising, mind-bending mystery with
larger-than-life personalities who are outstandingly down-to-earth. I
loved every quirky adventure that Grace and Cat found themselves in,
and I am dying to read more!” — On
rights reserved. Except for use in a review, no portion of this book
may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission
of the publisher.
the author nor the publisher assumes any responsibility for the use
or misuse of any information contained in this book.
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events,
and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination
or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons,
living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Series Boxed Set Plus Bonus Story
© 2017 by Lisa Brunette
Design: Lisa Brunette and Monika Younger, www.youngerbookdesign.com
Photography: Regan House Photo
in the United States of America
by Sky Harbor Press, an imprint of Sky Harbor LLC
inquiries to the above address
Web Site: www.lisa-brunette.com
for the Dreamslippers Series <<<
Winner of the indieBRAG Medallion for Cat
in the Flock
was a finalist for the Nancy Pearl Book Award and a RONE Award
to the Truth
won a Curtie Curt Award from Mello & June’s Book Blog.
portion of the sales of Cat
in the Flock
were donated to Jubilee Women’s Center, which provides safe and
affordable community housing and support services to help women
transition out of homelessness and into independent living. Donations
tied to the launch of Bound
to the Truth were
also made to the Human Response Network, an organization that
provides advocates to victims of sexual assault and domestic
violence, and to support Standing Rock.
by Lisa Brunette<<<
in the Flock
to the Truth
Out of the Blue Series
Cat in the Flock,
Framed and Burning,
Bound to the Truth,
by Lisa Brunette
Sky Harbor Press
To anyone who’s
ever sought truth
in a dream.
Cat in the Flock
by Lisa Brunette
Sky Harbor Press
marched into her daughter’s bedroom and dragged a child-sized
roller bag suitcase out of the closet. The girl stood in the middle
of the room, still in her pajamas. Milk from breakfast had dried
around the edges of her lips.
the mother said. “I need you to get dressed. We’re going to take
a…trip.” Sherrie tried to make her voice sound cheery, but the
desperation she felt came through in her tone.
set the suitcase on the bed. The bubble-gum pink had once seemed
innocent but now looked fleshy and indecent. She glanced at the clock
over the bed. He’d been golfing for a good fifteen minutes by now,
long enough for her to make sure he didn’t come back for a favorite
club or the right gloves. She wanted to be on that morning flight by
the time he got home and discovered them gone.
flung open the chest of drawers and grabbed all of the girl’s socks
and underwear, a pair of corduroy pants, black cotton tights, a
sweater the color of a Midwestern sky. Nothing pink. Only warm
things. Seattle in her memory was cold and wet. It was a grey city;
grey clouds over grey buildings. Even the water was grey.
doll would fit. Made of cloth, it could be folded in on itself and
slid down the backside of the suitcase.
I bring the ballerina skirt?”
other day, she would have corrected her daughter, who needed to learn
the precise names of things. Tutu.
There it was in the closet, hanging because it took up too much room
in the drawer. She yanked it free, sending the hanger to the floor.
Ordinarily, she would pick that up; her house was so clean it hurt
her eyes with its spareness—as if theirs were a showroom house, not
lived in. She left the hanger there, aware of the thrill this
fraction of disobedience gave her. She shoved everything into the
little pink case, but with the fluffy tulle taking up so much space,
the zipper would not close. The choice was clear. The doll would be a
comfort to Ruthie in Seattle, but the tutu would not.
come back for this later,” she said, tossing the tutu onto the bed.
The zipper closed, the sound of it satisfying.
Mommy!” Ruthie stomped her foot. “I want it now!”
you’re going to have to wear it. Now get dressed while I pack my
clothes.” But she felt a pang of guilt for her reprimanding tone,
and for having to leave the tutu. Bending down, she used her thumb to
wipe some of the milk crust from her daughter’s face. “I’ll let
you wear anything you want on this trip, okay, sweetheart? And clean
your face with the cloth in the bathroom, like Mommy showed you.”
girl nodded, as if sensing this was not the time for a tantrum.
own packing, she did with even less consideration. Under things,
shirts. A fleece hoodie. Warm socks. She remembered she needed layers
in Seattle. Sometimes it could seem warm even though it rained and
the sun had not come out for weeks. Her keepsakes in their tiny,
locked chest would not fit. They were the only things she had to
remind herself of her life before this, but she would have to leave
kept watch on the clock and glanced out the window twice to make sure
his car wasn’t out front even though she knew he wouldn’t be home
for another hour. The sun had risen blood-red over the cornfields in
the distance, lighting them as if on fire. She’d miss that. And she
thought of thunderstorms, which seemed never to occur in Seattle.
She’d miss those, too.
appeared in the doorway. Her face was clean, but none of her clothes
matched. She was wearing pink high-tops that seemed wrong for the
city they were going to, the situation, and everything else, but she
had apparently decided not to wear the tutu.
to leave.” She took the girl’s hand, promising to herself she’d
never let go.
was in a child’s bed, a Hello Kitty blanket pulled up to her chin.
Stuffed animals surrounded her: a little plush frog with googly eyes,
a duck with a faux-leather beak. She heard something that sounded
like a fire crackling, and a wash of hot air blew her hair back. Fire
materialized in the space above her bed, a devilish man emerging from
the flames. He was red, with hooved feet, and he carried a pitchfork.
He was floating above her, his veined, leathery wings beating with
methodic slowness. She gasped, unable to breathe, unable to scream.
The phrase “Mommy, help me” formed in the back of her throat, but
she was too afraid to voice it. The devil pointed his pitchfork at
her. His eyes were dark as ink and bore into hers.
he said, shaking his head, “I can’t let you get away.” He
raised his pitchfork up and then down, sinking it through the
bedspread and right between her legs.
woke with a start, gasping and sweating, the sounds of the plane’s
engines in her ears, soon joined by the sound of a little girl
crying. Despite her best efforts not to, Cat had fallen asleep on the
long flight from St. Louis, and she’d slipped into someone else’s
dream. Cat sat up, wiping the sweat from her brow. She wondered who
“Ruthie” was. That’s what the devil had called her in the
off the image, her senses returning, Cat realized there was a good
chance that “Ruthie” was the girl who was crying in the back of
the plane. Cat turned around to see if she could spot her. The seat
backs were too high. She unfastened her seat belt and stood up as if
to stretch. Nothing in the front rows. She turned and looked behind
her. The crying seemed to come from the right side of the cabin. Also
coming from that direction was a woman’s troubled voice: “It’s
okay. We’ll be there soon. Everything will be okay.”
followed the sound of the woman’s voice, and there was the girl,
sobbing into the woman’s arms.
of staring too much, Cat sat back down. She burned with a strange
sense of frustration and embarrassment. Her dreamslipping experiences
always told her just enough about people to feel as if she were a
Peeping Tom, voyeuristically sneaking into the minds of her dreamers.
On the other hand, the dreams told her so little about who her
dreamers really were. With strangers especially, she lacked the
context that would make the dreams make more sense, give her
something to hang them on.
was Cat’s greatest hope that her grandmother, Grace, who shared her
dreamslipping ability, would be able to help her do something useful
with these dreams. That’s why she was moving clear across the
country from St. Louis to Seattle: to apprentice with Granny Grace,
who had for most of her life used dreamslipping to solve crimes as a
private investigator. As Cat’s dreams had mostly been an awkward
inconvenience in her life so far, Cat felt the weight of all that she
had to learn. She sighed and settled back into her book just as she
heard the girl’s crying subside.
saw the woman and girl once again when they landed at Sea-Tac
Airport. The child was in that stage that Cat found amusing in little
girls, when they begin to express themselves by dressing in
outrageous, girly color combinations. She wore pink high-top tennis
shoes with purple pants and a clashing yellow top. In her hair was a
fuchsia bow with blue polka dots. They walked on ahead of her as if
in a hurry. The woman, who was likely the girl’s mother, tugged her
daughter along after her as the child tried to keep up on skinny
little legs. The girl was pulling a tiny pink suitcase on roller
wheels with rainbow-colored letters spelling her name, R-U-T-H,
across the front.
devil had said, I
can’t let you get away. Get
away? In little-girl speak, that could mean go on a trip, or a move.
But Cat couldn’t tell by their carry-ons whether they were on a
trip or moving across the country, as she was. Cat lost sight of them
in the crowded corridor, and she felt a pang of regret. If only she
could have helped that girl...
neared the security entrance and scanned the crowd for her
grandmother, who was never hard to spot.
if the oversized, pink-feathered hat weren’t enough to catch the
eye, Granny Grace was waving both glove-clad hands at Cat. Her
grandmother was dressed as if she herself had been on a trip, in
another time period when travel was a rare activity to be done in
one’s best attire. The hat was pale pink, wide-brimmed, and adorned
with glorious pink-and-cream feathers. She wore a smart brown safari
dress with a wide pink belt to match the hat. Of course Granny Grace
had donned heels—of a sensible height for strolling through an
airport on a Sunday afternoon—but heels nonetheless. Cat recognized
them as a pair of calfskin Etienne Aigners that Granny Grace had had
Grace McCormick.” Granny’s voice rang out over the din of
roller-bags and shuffling footsteps.
Grace,” Cat answered as her grandmother swept her into a warm hug.
“Amazing” really was the woman’s legal first name; she’d had
it changed during her last divorce. And “Cathedral” really was
Cat’s legal name. But she had her very
Catholic mother to thank for that one. As Granny Grace put it, “The
ones who convert are always the most fervent.”
inhaled her grandmother’s scent: a mixture of the incense Granny
Grace burned in her house, Halston perfume, and peppermint Altoids.
Grace appraised Cat with keen eyes. “Still sporting the
college-girl look, I see,” she said. Cat wore blue Converse
high-tops, jeans with a hole in one knee, and a hoodie. Her carry-on
was a backpack, and she had an iPod clipped to her hoodie, the
earbuds dangling. Her unruly brown hair was in a no-nonsense
Cat whined. “It was a five-hour flight.” She paused for effect.
“With a connection. In Phoenix.”
received a “hmpf” in return, and off they went to track down
Cat’s checked bags.
they’d secured the luggage, Cat was thrilled to see that Granny
Grace had decided to pick her up in Siddhartha, named after the
Buddha himself. “I’ve always preferred his first name,”
explained her grandmother. Siddhartha was a beautiful ’67 Mercedes
in mint condition. It was pale yellow, with buttercream leather seats
and a convertible top that had never once leaked, her grandmother
boasted, despite Seattle’s persistent rain. It was a completely
impractical car for a seventy-seven-year-old retiree to have, but it
fit Granny Grace to a tee. She’d even indulged in a vanity plate:
GRACEFUL. It was as graceful a car as ever was built. “With me in
the car,” she quipped, “it’s literally full of Grace.”
Grace took off the gorgeous hat, secured it in the back seat, dug a
scarf out of her purse, and wrapped it around her hair, which had
been meticulously coiffed, Cat knew, by a young hippie stylist that
Granny Grace favored. She perched a pair of oversized Jackie O.
sunglasses on her nose. “Looks like your ponytail is appropriate
after all,” she said with a smile as she put the car in gear.
Seattle. It had been a couple years since Cat had been able to fly
out for a visit. She loved the sea-salt smell, the calm expanse of
Puget Sound, and the fact that no matter what time of year she
visited, her eyes rested on lovely evergreen. Back in St. Louis,
everything turned brown and died for at least three months out of the
year. Here it was early spring and warm enough to have the top down,
with a slight chill in the air. It should have been raining, but the
sun was peeking out of the clouds as it began to set in the west,
creating pearlescent purples and pinks as the light bounced between
the water and the clouds. “Oyster light,” Granny Grace called it,
like the light playing on an oyster shell.
couldn’t really talk on the drive, what with the wind rushing
through, but Cat smiled at her grandmother a few times, who smiled
back and once took her hand off the gearshift to squeeze Cat’s.
They drove home on the Viaduct, both of them aware that its days were
numbered; not earthquake-safe, the elevated roadway would be
demolished as soon as Seattle got around to officially deciding what
to do with its waterfront. They drank in the glorious view: Puget
Sound to the left, today calm and grey, with the Olympic Mountains
visible beneath a high bank of clouds; and downtown Seattle’s
eclectic architecture to the right. With her eyes, Cat followed the
dark spine of the Columbia Tower up to the top and then looked for
the Space Needle to appear around a bend. It was the iconic
landmark’s fiftieth anniversary, so they’d painted the bottom
orange again to match how it looked when built.
Grace’s old Victorian house sat at the top of Queen Anne Hill, with
an incredible view of the Space Needle and the Seattle skyline and
impressive sweeps of Elliott Bay. Not terribly large, it wasn’t a
mansion, and though it had three floors plus an attic, it was
actually quite narrow, with smallish rooms, some of which hadn’t
been outfitted with closets. Granny Grace said that was because the
tax codes at the time of construction counted a bedroom as anything
with a closet, and they assessed taxes based on the number of
bedrooms. The builder had simply left out the closets.
drank in the beveled glass front door, the grand foyer with its old
gas chandelier, and the gleaming stairway banister leading to the
second floor. It smelled as it always did, a bit musty but clean, the
scent of lemons mingling with incense and sage.
unpacked and settled into her room, the Grand Green Griffin. Every
room in Granny Grace’s house had been decorated in some sort of
theme. The kitchen Granny Grace referred to as the Terra Cotta
Cocina, based on the Cuban kitchens she remembered from her days in
Miami. The bathroom that Cat favored was called the Tempting
Turquoise Tub, and it really was both tempting and turquoise. The
Grand Green Griffin wasn’t grand in size, but being on the first
floor, it had tall ceilings, and it was outfitted in shades of green
ranging from kelly to sea foam and featured a griffin carved
prominently into the fireplace mantel. Many of the bedrooms had
fireplaces, as wood fires were the primary source of indoor heat when
the house was built in 1883. Here and there throughout the house were
paintings done by Cat’s Great-Uncle Mick, who channeled his
dreamslipping ability into art. They were vibrant works, the paint
thickly applied, like frosting on a cupcake. When Cat was younger,
she’d test the paint to make sure it was hard, expecting her finger
to come away globbed with it.
as Cat finished putting away her things, Granny Grace appeared in the
doorway in spandex yoga clothes, which showed off her rather
well-muscled arms and the faint hint of ab muscles beneath a slight
layer of what she unselfconsciously referred to as “old-age
invited Cat to join her, and once Cat changed clothes, the two of
them moved to the Yoga Yolk. Cat had practiced yoga with her
grandmother during past summer stays in Seattle but had never pursued
it as a regular exercise. But now that she’d moved there for good
and was entering into formal training with her grandmother, yoga was
part of the deal, along with meditation, breath work...basically,
whatever Granny Grace deemed necessary.
followed her grandmother in a series of sun salutations: downward
dog, a lunge forward with one leg, and a standing salute to the sun.
Then Granny Grace moved into crow pose, crouching forward till her
knees touched her upper arms and then lifting her legs so her whole
body was balanced on her arms. Cat couldn’t do that pose yet, so
she sat in a wide-legged squat, watching her grandmother with
admiration. Afterward, they sat in the turret window of the
pale-yellow-and-white room, sipping tea and sharing fruit. As the sun
had set, Granny Grace lit a few candles, preferring them to electric
tell me about your dreamslipping,” her grandmother prompted.
had a dream on the plane,” Cat said. “I think it was a little
girl’s dream.” She described to Granny Grace how the devil with
his pitchfork said he couldn’t let someone named Ruthie get away.
Granny Grace listened intently, sitting cross-legged in her chair, a
delicate yellow teacup balanced in one hand. Cat felt the heat of
frustration return to her face. “I lost them at Sea-Tac,” she
you find out who they are, or get some way to trace them?” her
blushed. “No. Should I have? I mean, the dream—it’s not proof
set her cup down. “Dreams never are, Cat. But if you’re going to
be a PI, you need to start getting details.”
silently accepted her grandmother’s instruction, and Granny Grace
continued. “You could interpret the dream many ways, it’s true.
It could simply be a young girl’s way of puzzling out sexual
curiosities. Some kids begin touching themselves at an early age, you
know. It’s totally natural. Maybe she has a brother and started to
no brother,” said Cat. “I think it’s just her and her mother.
They traveled alone. I have this feeling they’re all alone in the
that could be your intuition, or your imagination. You’re fairly
imaginative, you know. As I was saying, she could be puzzling out her
first sexual awareness, and maybe her mother is devout. Maybe the
devil is a symbol from Christianity that has to do with the shame she
associates with her body.”
what I’d expect you to say.”
Grace smiled. “But what if...” She paused. “What if that’s
not it? What if someone hurt her, and this is a post-traumatic stress
sat in silence, toying with her cup. “We’ll never know,” she
never know,” echoed her grandmother.
do remember the little girl’s name,” Cat said, brightening. “I
saw it on her suitcase. It’s Ruth.”
To get the rest, you could have easily taken advantage of the
setting. You were in an airport. Everyone’s got identification
close at hand. I bet the mother had her ID tucked just inside her
right, Gran,” Cat said, remembering something Granny Grace told her
long ago. “’Take every dream seriously.’”
it, Cat.” Granny Grace beamed at her, her lips still perfectly
painted in pearly pink.
grandmother had finally framed the copy of Vanity
with herself on the cover, Cat noticed. It was hanging there in the
Yoga Yolk, its silver frame glinting in the candlelight. In it,
Granny Grace was wearing a white bathing suit and sitting on an
enormous beach ball. The prop had been her idea. “It was my photo
shoot, and I wanted to have a ball,” she told Cat. Granny Grace was
a tall Mae West type, not thin like the waifs who appear regularly on
the covers now. But that was 1957, when models were curvier.
Standards of beauty had certainly changed.
gestured toward the image. “I’m glad to see you decided to hang
that cover,” she said, smiling. “I’ve always admired it.
Sometimes I wish I took after you in looks—instead of this
dreamslipping curse we share.”
had meant this as a joke, but as soon as she said it, she realized it
was something her grandmother wouldn’t like.
Grace put her teacup down. “Cat McCormick,” she said, “don’t
ever call our gift a curse.”
bowed her head. “Sorry.”
Grace gave a sigh, long and drawn out. “I wasn’t really a model,
you know,” she said.
looked up in surprise. It was a long-standing family story that her
grandmother had once been a model.
was a ruse, Cat. I was undercover…”
She paused, smiling. “But I ended up on
the cover. Ha!”
never told me that! I don’t even think Mom knows.”
a lot your mother doesn’t know,” Granny Grace said. “Or
understand, even if she does know.”
let that one linger in the air without comment. To put it kindly, her
mother and grandmother did not always get along. The dreamslipping
gift had skipped a generation, and so had the adventurous
temperament. Cat’s mother, Mercy, was as conservative as Granny
Grace was liberal. And she hadn’t been too happy about Cat’s
choice to move to Seattle and take over Granny Grace’s PI business.
She’d called the whole scheme a “fantasy.” Cat and her mother
had done nothing but fight about it up till the moment Cat left for
me about the modeling case,” Cat prompted, pointedly changing the
was the top modeling agency in the country at the time,” Granny
Grace explained. “It was an embezzling case, and the police leads
had all run dry. One of Thurston’s accountants discovered that
money had been taken out of the firm and that it had been going on
for a long time. But they didn’t know how or by whom.”
you able to use your dreamslipping to solve the case?” Cat asked.
This was the crux of her apprenticeship with Granny Grace, to learn
not just how to focus and control her dreamslipping ability, but how
to use it in her work as a PI. She’d need to learn to do this well
if she were going to take over her grandmother’s agency.
her grandmother answered. “But not till I went with the other
models on location to shoot a swimsuit series in the Florida Keys. We
were all in a hotel together—Largo Lodge, I think it was called.
And one of the models had a stress dream. She obviously felt guilty
about what they’d done.”
Cat asked. “You mean a group of models were embezzling?”
said Granny Grace. “It was actually not that hard to track down the
evidence, once you knew where to look. But the police hadn’t
looked. They assumed models weren’t bright enough for white-collar
smiled. “Are you sure you’re ready to retire?” Granny Grace had
been trying to do so for only the past twenty years but kept getting
drawn back into one case or another.
course,” she said. “After I teach you everything I know.”
felt lucky to have Granny Grace’s help. Not only was her
grandmother going to train her in PI techniques and dreamslipping
skills, but she had generously offered to let Cat live with her for
free as well. Back in St. Louis, Cat had tried unsuccessfully to find
a job. With her degree in criminal justice, she thought she had a
shot at getting onto a police force, but all of them were cutting
back, and none were hiring. Granny Grace’s offer had been a
can’t thank you enough, Gran,” she said.
you can thank me by carrying on my torch. Who else is going to keep
the agency going? Over the years, I’ve had many assistants, Cat,
but none of them have had your gift.”
they turned in for the night, Granny Grace put her hands on Cat’s
shoulders. “You’re going to do well, Cat,” she said. “I
always knew this was your calling.”
the soft, familiar feel of her bed in the Grand Green Griffin, Cat
struggled to fall asleep, doubt creeping up on her. What if her
mother was right? Maybe “fantasy” was the most accurate word to
describe what she was trying to do here. People said Granny Grace was
a legend, but no one had ever called Cat anything like that. Cat was
the type who tended to blend into the background. Her grandmother
left awfully big shoes to fill—and designer ones, at that.
was sitting in full lotus, with both legs crossed, a foot resting on
top of either thigh. It was a position she had never been able to do;
she knew right away she was dreamslipping in her grandmother’s
dream. All around her on the floor were bills Granny Grace couldn’t
pay: the heating bill, another in an exorbitant amount for her cell
phone, a medical bill, and others, along with receipts for the money
she continued to give to charity. But Cat could feel that she shared
her grandmother’s thoughts and attitudes in the dream, as if her
and her grandmother’s minds were fused, so despite the bills, she
felt at peace. In front of her was a Buddha statue, and in his palm
were coins. He winked and said, “Bless the bills, my Grace. Bless
the paper bills on the ground around her morphed into hundreds of
butterflies—orange and black monarchs and viceroys, pale yellow
swallowtails, iridescent blue sulphurs, and delicate cabbage whites.
They flew up and covered the Buddha statue, where they sat flexing
their wings in the sun. She watched them there, a feeling of peace
flooding through her. Then the butterflies rose into the air as if
they were one being, circled around her for a time, and then flew off
into a ray of sunlight.
woke early, still on St. Louis time and worried about her
grandmother’s financial situation, despite the odd feeling of peace
the dream gave her. Was the dream accurate? Was Granny Grace having
financial trouble? She tiptoed down the hall to her grandmother’s
study. She knew she shouldn’t snoop, but the quiet in the house
told her Granny Grace was still asleep, and she would have to do a
bit of detective work on this one, as her grandmother wouldn’t tell
her the truth even if she asked. Granny Grace had an overdeveloped
sense of pride; she carried herself well and was never one to accept
help but was always helping others. Cat certainly had no intention of
sponging off her grandmother forever, but if she were having
financial trouble, there was no way Cat was going to accept her help
in getting the PI firm started, no matter what cryptic, New Agey
messages Granny Grace got from the Buddha.
was seated at a rolltop desk, absorbed in the saga of her
grandmother’s financial life and didn’t hear the septuagenarian
enter the room behind her.
thought you came here to train as a PI, not serve as my personal
bookkeeper,” Granny Grace said.
turned with a start. “Gran, why didn’t you tell me about this?”
She held up the cell phone bill, which included calls all over the
world, with a balance upwards of five hundred dollars, most of which
were past due amounts carried over.
cell phone habits are none of your concern, granddaughter,” said
Granny Grace, ripping the phone bill out of Cat’s hands. “Besides,
I’m in negotiations with them right now to get that lowered.
They’re going to fold it under a special ‘international friends
and family’ plan.”
Cat said sternly. “You’re giving money away, and at the same
time, your bills are piling up.” Cat pulled out the statement from
her financial advisor. “And judging by this, your investment
accounts took a huge hit.”
Grace ripped that statement out of her hand, too. “This is none of
your business, Cat. And you should know better than to use a dream
this way. You’ve got a lot to learn.”
took a step back, realizing how far over the line she had crossed.
“You’re right,” she said. “I’m sorry. Let me make you
breakfast, and we can calm down and talk.”
toasted sourdough bread and put out preserves, butter, a bowl of
fruit, and a pot of tea. Her hunger satiated and her grandmother
cooled down and seated across from her, Cat had to ask, “What
exactly does ‘SPOETS’ stand for? You gave them a couple hundred
Pogoists of East Tacoma,” Granny Grace quipped.
Cat groaned. “Be serious.”
Patternists of Elementary Tea Services.”
giggled, and Granny Grace smiled. “They’re a group of citizens
devoted to the study of the largest earthworm in North America,”
stared at her. “Earthworm?”
right,” she replied. “It’s the Society for the Protection of
Earthworm Triticales Somas.”
That’s the Latin name. I’ll have you know it’s several feet
long and almost as wide. It lives entirely underground on the
didn’t know you had a soft spot for earthworms.”
this one. It’s special. Not to say the ones you use in your garden
aren’t special as well, but this one is unique.”
Granny Grace, why didn’t you tell me you were having trouble?”
not. Weren’t you there, in the dream, Cat? I could feel your
presence. So you know that bills are to be blessed.”
wouldn’t be put off so easily. She pressed her grandmother further.
“But why do you give so much away when you’re not in a position
to do that? You gave another small amount to a group that studies a
rare type of moss that only grows on the eastern side of the Olympic
Mountains. And the Dykes with Bikes? Do they really need your help? I
think there’s even a Bisexual Basket-Weaving Bar Mitzvah group in
I only wish. If there’s one thing a bar mitzvah could use, it’s
more bisexuals weaving baskets.” Granny Grace crossed her arms and
leaned forward on the table. “Look, Cat. I’m seventy-seven years
old. This karmic approach to money has held me in good stead for many
years. You get back what you put out in life. It works. You wait and
but listen,” Cat said. “You told me I could stay here for free
and that I wouldn’t have to work while I trained for the PI exam.
But I don’t think that’s practical. I can’t do that. I’m
going to get a job.”
be putting everything off that way,” Granny Grace countered.
no way I can let you support me,” Cat said. “I’ll keep training
with you and working toward my goal, but I’m going to pay my own
way.” She nodded her head affirmatively, as if to seal the deal.
if you insist...” her grandmother replied.
insist,” Cat said.
was a long silence while they sipped their tea before Granny Grace
changed the subject in a tone that meant she was resuming Cat’s
training there and then.
broke the first rule of dreamslipping this morning,” she said.
“Don’t ever use the information gleaned from a dream to invade
the privacy of someone you love.”
isn’t dreamslipping by its very nature already an invasion of
it is,” Granny Grace said, a shadow of sadness flickering across
her face. “Why do you think I live alone? That’s why you can’t
ever use what you learn like that again. I know you were doing it
with concern in your heart, but you crossed a line.”
sorry,” Cat said.
Grace reached over and squeezed her chin. “Don’t be sorry, Cat.
Just remember the rule.”
By the way, don’t chide yourself for invading the privacy of your
dreamers. That’s a waste of time. This thing is involuntary—it’s
not like you can turn it off. Believe me, I’ve tried. That’s why
I call it dreamslipping. We can’t help slipping into other people’s
sighed, feeling pressure inside her chest release. “Thank you for
telling me that,” she said.
first appointment today is with a meditation guru,” said Granny
Grace, clapping her hands together. “Your training has begun.”
guru—Guru Dave was his name—held meditation classes on the top
floor of a record store, so in addition to the singing bowls he
employed, there were the ever-present strains of whatever music the
clerks downstairs happened to be playing. For Cat’s first class, it
was polka music, which the hipsters must have been playing
ironically. So when the guru asked her to empty her mind of
everything and to cultivate nothingness, she couldn’t help but
picture a bunch of men in lederhosen and women dressed as Heidi
hefting huge beer steins into the air.
Guru Dave spoke, he drew out his syllables so that it took him twice
as long as everyone else to say the same thing, but the effect on the
listener was trancelike. “Let goooooooo of attaaaaaaaachment,” he
intoned. “Reeeeeleeeeease your eeeeeeegooooo.”
only thing Cat felt herself let go of was the contraction in her
lower abs, the “root lock,” as Guru Dave called it, which she was
supposed to hold, it seemed, for an eternity.
the end of class, which consisted of sitting cross-legged (Granny
Grace was in full lotus, of course) till her lower back hurt and her
brain was screaming insults at Guru Dave, he asked what insights she
had to share with the rest of the class.
rhythm of life is in everything,” Cat said. “Even beer.”
Dave thought this was profound, and Cat inadvertently became his star
pupil. But nothing got past Granny Grace. After class, she teased
Cat. “You’ve been to one too many Oktoberfests.”
could use a little bit of the rhythm of life after that class,” Cat
said. “This tea isn’t quite cutting it.” They both burst out
first couple of weeks in Seattle were a whirlwind for Cat. She
accompanied Granny Grace to more meditation classes, and while
nothing broke through her skepticism about them, she did find herself
enjoying both the time to sit and think, as well as the strains of
music from the store downstairs, which ran the gamut from classic
rock to folk to R & B. They practiced yoga twice daily—an
energetic round in the morning at a studio near the house and a
slower style called yin that Granny Grace led in the Yoga Yolk each
evening to wind down.
grandmother also took her shopping, and over protests that they
didn’t have the money, she helped Cat create a wardrobe “more
befitting a PI.” Granny Grace had a knack for how to find deals at
consignment shops, cobbling together a selection of well-made pieces
with less expensive accessories, so that the overall look was
sophisticated and fun.
were more direct lessons in dreamslipping as well, but Granny Grace
took her time. Instead of showing Cat how to do “fancy tricks,”
as Granny Grace called them, they were taking an inventory of Cat’s
dream life up till now, which for the most part meant excavating
through some awkward revelations Cat had had about her various
boyfriends and how the dreamslipping had interfered with her ability
to have what she called “normal” relationships with them. For
example, she’d dated an emotionally unavailable soccer player for
far too long, mainly because he wasn’t an active dreamer, and there
were no issues to confront. Prior to that, she’d dated a psych
student whose own dreams bordered on disturbing, and he was only too
willing to spend hours analyzing them, to the point where Cat felt
should be charging him
for her therapy services.
can use the information in dreams to solve a mystery or catch a
crook,” Granny Grace said, “but healing someone like that—that’s
a different kind of work.”
and I’m not cut out to be a psychotherapist,” said Cat.
really hard to know things about people that you can’t talk about
with them,” said Granny Grace, as if she were thinking about her
own past. But then she shook it off, changing the subject, and Cat
didn’t want to press her.
also immediately set about looking for a job, with dismal results.
She tried to find something as close to her chosen profession as
possible. She sent out more than fifty résumés, interviewed with
six recruiters, and heard nothing in return. She couldn’t even get
a part-time job at a supermarket, as the hiring manager there said
she was overqualified and would be gone at the first opportunity. She
sent résumés into the ether, and she imagined them evaporating into
ones and zeroes in some large central database where bored clerks sat
typing all day.
finally got her a job were her grandmother’s connections.
Grace took Cat to a fundraiser for one of her favorite charities,
City Goats, which promoted goats as an alternative method for
removing noxious weeds from vacant lots, as well as a more
environmentally friendly way to trim back grass lawns. The fundraiser
was at a hotel on the Seattle waterfront. Dale Chihuly glass
sculptures tastefully referenced the shapes of goats everywhere you
looked, from the horned chandelier above the ballroom to the bearded
chin sinks in the bathroom.
Grace was busy networking for future PI clients; Cat could hear the
melody of her laughter across the room. Cat took a breather from the
talk to stand at the window facing the Sound. She watched as two
green-and-white ferries, their lights reflected on the water, passed
each other on their ways to and from Bainbridge Island. She
remembered her first ferry ride in Seattle, when she and her parents
came to visit when she was six. She thought Puget Sound was a river
like the Mississippi, but it startled her for being so blue. The
Mississippi was muddy, like coffee with lots of cream.
hear you’re starting up Grace’s PI firm again,” said a voice
that brought her back into the room. It was Simon Fletcher, one of
her grandmother’s best friends. Following close behind him as usual
was his partner, Dave Bander. The two were never separated; they
seemed to function in every respect as a unit. They both wore
immaculate tuxedoes that looked tailor-made for them as opposed to
rented, and both men’s hair was close cropped and spiked slightly
it’s not as if they were truly twins. Dave worked for a nonprofit
with a creative, accepting environment, and, particularly at fancy
events like these, he wore makeup—a little “manscara,” as he
called it, and sometimes “guyliner.” Simon, an architect, had a
Roman nose, stylish frames perched gallantly upon it, as if he’d
personally designed the sweeping features of his own face.
Simon!” Cat said, giving him a hug. “Word does get around. Yes,
I’m hoping to take over Granny Grace’s firm. But she’s training
bet she is,” said Dave, who gave her a kiss on the cheek. “There’s
no better teacher than Amazing Grace.”
did she ever teach you?” Cat asked.
your grandmother ever tell you how we met?” asked Simon.
Dave here went to her for spiritual guidance. He was forty-two,
unhappily married—to a woman, let me add—and working as a
corporate lawyer for a chemical company. After a couple sessions with
your grandmother, he filed for divorce and quit his job. I met him
two years later at one of Grace’s legendary cocktail parties.”
grandmother, the matchmaker. And now you’re helping those in need,”
Cat said, finishing the story. Dave was a lawyer who represented
women pressing charges against abusive men.
put his hand in Simon’s. “But most importantly, now I’m happy.”
The two smiled at each other.
didn’t know Granny Grace counseled people,” she said.
was part of what she did as a volunteer for a meditation center,”
that was back when Dave was dabbling in New Age spiritualism, trying
to find himself,” said Simon, a teasing hint to his tone.
mock it,” Dave said. “It led me to you, didn’t it?”
he admitted. Then, turning to Cat, he asked, “Has your grandmother
taken you to her meditation class?”
laughed. “You mean, have I sat in the presence of Guru Dave? Yes, I
have. And my spirit has transcended the physical sphere and is
entirely without ego attachment.”
snickered. “Oh, God. It’s all over once the chanting begins.”
least I don’t have to shave my head,” Cat said. “Guru Dave
thinks shaving hides what the divine has created.”
once had my chakras realigned,” Dave said. “My heart chakra
slipped down to my butt.” The two men roared with laughter.
how are you really
doing?” Simon asked once the laughter died down.
speaking,” Cat admitted, “I’m having the hardest time finding a
job. I can’t even get work as a barista. Of course, it would help
if I’d ever made something besides my mom’s drip coffee.”
rough out there these days,” said Simon, and Dave nodded in
halted construction on one of our condo projects,” he continued.
“The irony is, we have to pay to have a security guard on the
Simon faced Dave, looking as if a lightbulb had popped up over his
head. “Maybe she could be our booth guard.”
yeah,” agreed Dave. “The guy they’ve got out there now just
sleeps all day. Cat would be great!”
turned to her. “We know it’s beneath you, sweetie,” Dave
ventured, “but think about it. We’d love to have you as our
they moved to greet some friends of theirs, Dave, the bigger jokester
of the two, squeezed her arm. “Hey, Cat, did you see the satyr in
the bathroom? Crazy what that Chihuly can do with glass, isn’t it?”
pulled him away, making tsk-tsk noises. “Dave, I think that’s
only in the men’s room.” Then turning to Cat, he winked and said,
“We’ll call you about the guard gig.”
that was that. Cat had her first full-time job. At first she thought
it wouldn’t be so bad. She imagined she would be like the security
guards at the hospital where she’d been a candy striper: sit in an
office all day, maybe even watch a little TV, walk around the
building every hour, piece of cake.
when she showed up for her first day—make that first night,
she’d been given the highly despised 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift—she
met Tony, the security company’s general manager. Tony only came up
to Cat’s shoulder in height, and he had a row of broken, crooked,
yellowing teeth. He smelled of cigarettes and mothballs.
here to guard the building,” Cat said by way of introduction.
Conscious of favoritism, she didn’t mention Simon and Dave.
not guarding a building,” Tony barked at her.
not? Well then, what am I guarding?”
yes, I know they’re not done building it. Am I guarding the
equipment,” he replied. “The contractors cleared that out
I don’t understand,” said Cat. “What is
three floors of an eight-story condom
Tony said. He leered at Cat to see if she had heard his
decided to ignore for a moment his attempt at wit, and the fact that
this constituted sexual harassment. “I know that, but what am I
protecting? Are they afraid the copper pipes will get stolen?” She
knew copper was sometimes stolen out of abandoned buildings and sold
that’s part of it, smart girl. The other part is liability. Someone
gets hurt there, they sue your fairy friends.” He made a little
flying Tinker Bell motion with his hands when he said the bit about
Simon and Dave.
Tony already knew her ties to the owners. This was not going in a
good direction, and Cat hesitated to ask the next question—after
all, this was Seattle, and it had been raining for the last three
there a roof?”
in part of the building, but that don’t matter none to you. You’ll
stay outside the condo in the hut.”
hadn’t lied about the booth, and she thought maybe his word for it,
“hut,” was more accurate. Cat spent her first week sitting in a
four-by-four hut with one tiny window. She had a radio that ran on
batteries, her flashlight, and a clipboard of papers on which she was
supposed to record her rounds. The bathroom was a port-a-john about
ten feet away.
make the job even duller, Tony had carefully instructed her about how
this security thing worked: “You make your rounds every hour on the
hour. You take ten minutes to make the rounds, no more, no less. The
rest of the time you stay in the hut.”
that make it kind of easy for someone to avoid security?”
looked at her with contempt. “Listen, smart girl, here’s how it
works. We contract with the client to provide security. In the
contract we specify exactly what we will do, and we do exactly that.
If a representative from the company comes by to check on you at five
minutes after the hour, and you are in the hut, you are fired. On the
other hand, if he comes by at fifteen minutes after the hour, and you
are not in the hut, you are fired. Do I make myself clear?”
what if someone steals something at half past the hour?”
had a surprising ability to convey disdain with his expressions.
“It’s an empty building. And you’ll spot the thieves before
they ever get around to ripping out any copper, trust me.”
only bright spot for Cat was that Granny Grace let her drive
Siddhartha to work, since by bus it would have meant three transfers
and more than an hour-long trip to the Eastside. Granny Grace had
taken Cat out in the old Mercedes for an instructional test run. The
car handled beautifully; it was the smoothest ride she’d ever
driven. On Cat’s first day of work, Granny Grace had been on hand
to bid her bon voyage.
sat in the driver’s seat while her grandmother assessed her from
outside. “The only thing missing is your attitude,” she observed.
“You look like someone borrowing a Mercedes for the day. You need
to drive it like you own it.”
how am I supposed to look like that when I’m wearing a rent-a-cop
uniform?” Cat asked.
these on,” Granny Grace ordered, handing her a pair of her Jackie O
it’s dark and rainy outside.”
what? Now stick your chin out.”
That’s my granddaughter.” Granny Grace smiled her approval.
“Don’t let the birds poop on Siddhartha,” she added, patting
the car’s fender as Cat started it up. “He’s used to the
stood in front of the building she was supposed to be guarding. The
bit of yard leading up to it had been stripped of vegetation, and
weeks of Seattle rain had turned it to mud, her feet sinking a bit as
she walked. A dusting of snow had fallen, making the entire area seem
new and pleasant instead of derelict. It smelled fresh and clean,
like the first snowfall of winter back home. She looked down at her
feet and saw a pair of expensive leather boots instead of the cheap
Velcro-fastened shoes the security agency issued her. She was in
someone else’s dream.
walked up to the condo building and paused. Something was definitely
wrong here. The building as she knew it was only partially
built—construction had halted abruptly at floor three, though there
were eight in Simon’s architectural plans. But it looked now as if
it had been finished. And now she could get inside. She wasn’t
supposed to go inside—she was meant to stay in her guard hut out
front unless making rounds outside the building—but the door was
inside of the building consisted of grey concrete and looked vaguely
utilitarian, like a school or hospital. She walked slowly,
disoriented, nothing seeming familiar to her. Suddenly, down an empty
corridor, she heard a faint squeaking, honking noise. It was a
gosling, covered in mottled fuzz. It squeaked and honked frantically,
as if afraid and missing its mother. Cat felt a rush of protective
instinct then, as if she were its mother, and then a terrific fear
mixed with anger hurled around inside her chest. She felt herself
straining to push her feelings out through her body. She looked down
at her arms. Sharp pinpricks of pain ran up and down the length of
them as feathers burst through the fabric of her clothing. She felt
her chin and nose grow and harden into a beak. She opened her mouth
to let out a cry, and it came out as a loud hiss. Instinctively, she
wrapped her wings around the gosling.
a man carrying a rifle and wearing a hunting cap appeared around the
corner. Cat hoisted the gosling onto her back, ran outside, and
spread her wings. Just as he reached the doorway to the building, she
was airborne. He fired a few shots in the air, which zinged past her.
Cat could see Canada in the distance, represented by a multicolored
map, the border between it and the United States showing as a red
line. That was her destination. She pumped her wings harder, the
gosling on her back crying in squeaks muted by the wind. If only she
could get there...
woke up sweating. The clock in her guard booth showed 2:13 a.m.
had always wondered why these digital clocks seemed only to come in
one color, devilish red. She’d fallen asleep on the job, which
could be a firing offense—if anyone ever bothered to check on her.
Cat knew by the feel of things that she’d been dreamslipping.
was a real problem with this particular dream, though. She knew from
experience that she had to be physically close to the person
dreaming. Maybe a couple hundred feet but not much more could
separate her from the person whose dream she entered. Cat stepped
outside the hut. The condo building was close enough, but it was
vacant and locked up tight. The streets were lined with parked cars.
If someone were asleep in one of them, they might be close enough.
Sweeping her gaze down the row of cars, she saw nothing out of the
ordinary, only what looked like upper-middle-class Seattleites’
vehicles, a few Volvos, lots of Priuses, all of them empty.
walked around the booth and looked to the other side. Nothing but an
empty space where the condo would have lovely landscaping, were it
completed. Cat looked back at the incomplete condo—unlike in her
dream, it was its proper three-story height. It was well within her
range. Someone was sleeping nearby, and the most likely place was
inside the structure.