Authors: Nava Dijkstra
Nava Dijkstra completed a Bachelor's degree in psychology and a Master's degree in Behavioral Science, which help her to enrich the development of the characters in her books.
In addition, Nava is a family consultant, specializing in issues of divorce, cohabitation and remarriage. In this framework, she writes novels about the complex familial relationship attributed to couples who remarry.
Nava Dijkstra is the author of five previous novels. She writes mostly about romance and combines it with suspense and mystery.
Copyright © Nava Dijkstra 2015. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Vanished without a trace
is available in trade paperback. For questions, contact us at
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Hebrew to English translations by Anelaida Labanen Galinato
Moshe Kowalski stood in front of a closed window in his spacious office on the twelfth floor of the building. His cigar filled the room with a cloudy thick smoke as he enjoyed the breath-taking scenery through the window. This masterpiece was an amazingly manicured twenty six acres of land, with beautifully engineered high-tech building establishments and a newly renovated rail station next to it. When the old station was transformed into a new one, the value of these assets rose dramatically.
The investment firm that bought Kowalski’s old offices, which covered a four acre area, was amazed when they learned he had purchased a twenty six acre piece of land at the same price. It was no wonder he was in a hurry to sell his property to them at such a low price. A week later, a computer company bought an acre of land from him for construction. He sold it at ten times the total price he had paid for the entire lot. "When you’re on top," he told himself, "there are millions of opportunities to be rich."
In the last couple of years, he hadn’t been able to find anything useful in his office anymore. In fact, his presence was not even needed in the business. He spent most of his time travelling around the world enjoying the comfort of his luxurious yacht. His son, Naor, had taken total control of the business and eventually dragged himself into the communications industry in the United States, proving talent is hereditary. However, there were times Moshe had to step in, unbeknownst to his son, his father’s helping hand was behind everything.
Moshe sat on his desk and looked at the picture of his son as a little boy. He was wrapped up with the memories of those days when the door suddenly opened. He felt like he had lost his sanity. He blinked his eyes and was shocked out of his reminiscent state.
"What the Hell do you think you are doing here?" He found himself roaring in English, as the lady entered his office. The small boy who was holding her hand politely approached him, but Moshe pushed the boy away from him.
"Why are you so mad? Didn’t you miss your grandson?" she replied in Romanian, while pulling up a chair for the boy. She sat right in front of Moshe trying to ignore his anger. She opened her purse and took out a cigarette and lit it. She crossed her legs while blowing the smoke in Moshe’s face, "One cigarette will not change anything with the stinky smell of your office."
Moshe took a deep breath. "Julia, we had an agreement. You are not allowed to come here. You have already done enough damage. Be fair and go back to Romania."
Julia looked at him with a sarcastic smile and blew another breath of smoke from her mouth. "It’s time for you and your son to take responsibility for the child. I prefer my freedom over the money you are paying me," she said while caressing Daniel’s head. Daniel pulled his head away from her. He stared at his grandfather. The excitement he had earlier was gone. His grandfather didn’t like him. He knew it. It was obvious.
The vision of anger ran across Moshe’s face. He was upset, and the muscles in the face became tense. He resented people who simply dragged him into situations where there seemed to have no way out. He felt cornered. "Okay, do you need more money? You can have more. You can have anything you want but don’t ruin Naors’ family. Take the kid with you and I will take care of everything. I will make sure you will have everything you need and you will live like a princess for the rest of your life."
"Mmmm…that sounds so interesting and tempting…" Julia raised her eyebrows as she replied. "But I have a little bit of a problem. I met an American guy. He wants me to move in with him alone, without the kid. I was thinking it’s not too bad for the little boy to stay with his father or his grandfather. Don’t you think so, Mr. Moshe Kowalski?"
Moshe ignored the sarcasm in her voice. "Is there someone in your family who will agree to take care of the kid with the same conditions?"
She smiled. "Do you want to send him to Hell? I will go there myself for sure if I do something like that." She twisted her cigarette into the ashtray, then got up. "Oh, you are some sort of Hell actually." She laughed and seemed to be enjoying his torture.
"Where do you think you’re going?"
"I need to go somewhere. I need some professional advice. I’m sure they will tell me what to do. After all, this is your grandson. I already have a plane ticket and I will be on a plane in two days."
"Where do you intend to go?" Moshe asked.
"To the Department Of Social Welfare." She took out a small piece of paper and slowly looked at him. "I have the address here."
Julia didn’t know Moshe was so afraid of her. He tried to scare her. "Julia, no one threatens me, you should know that."
"I’m sorry, but this is your grandson. That’s your problem." She took Daniel’s hand. "Say goodbye to grandpa." She could not help but laugh as she saw the anxiety on Moshe’s face, but he did not notice Daniel’s frozen expression while looking at his grandfather as they walked towards the door.
She got into a taxi called by Moshe’s secretary and only then did she see Daniels’ face. He was always a very serious child,
but now he sat stoic in the car with his eyes fixed on an imaginary point outside the window.
"Don’t worry, everything will be fine. Honestly, I never thought your grandfather would not want to take you. If things don’t work out, I will take you to your Dad. Before that, we will try one more way to convince your grandfather. I know you are upset right now, but in the end, you will see, everything will be okay and you will be even happier than you are with me.”
Daniel kept looking out the window until the cab stopped in front of the Department of Social Welfare. Julia went to Deborah’s office. She was a woman with curly black hair, who didn’t appear well-groomed, and kept her hair in a pony-tail with a simple rubber band. Julia and Daniel waited while Deborah talked on the phone. Deborah answered angrily at the man on the other line and Julia was afraid this meeting would be worse than her confrontation with Moshe. She decided to keep it short. "Look, this is the grandson of Moshe Kowalski." Julia opened in English, noticing the softness in the social worker’s face as she heard the name Moshe Kowalski. She described the situation thoroughly and was surprised to see the kindness in the face of a government official, but a part of her knew it was just some kind of façade.
"I understand why you came to us, but it's not within our jurisdiction. I would suggest you to contact a lawyer. Besides, you know the grandfather is not responsible for the child, the father is the legal guardian. I’m afraid we can’t do anything to hold the grandfather accountable." Deborah kept her voice calm, masking her shock at the discovery of this situation.
Julia remained silent. She had already prepared an alternative plan, but she had to make sure Deborah would take part. "Look, I understand you don’t take care of such things, but can I just leave you a note? I'm flying to America in two days, and the child will be left alone, it’s good to have some basic information about him, right?"
Deborah looked up. "You can leave me a letter, but I still suggest it would be better if you give it to a lawyer."
Julia had already thought about that alternative, but since she was leaving in two days, she thought it would be more effective to give the letter to a social worker than to a lawyer.
Deborah took the letter from her, after all, it was just a letter, and seemed harmless enough. She looked at the skinny blonde woman heading out of her office. Deborah asked her to close the door behind her, but the door remained open because she was already gone. Deborah got up and locked the door. She needed to make a personal phone call to someone, and she didn’t want to be overheard by anyone in the office. She dialed Kowalski’s office. As expected, his secretary informed her he couldn’t speak to her at the moment and asked her to leave a message, but Deborah insisted she would wait on the line and asked her to tell him it was an urgent call from the Department of Social Welfare. Indeed, just as Deborah thought, Moshe Kowalski answered. His voice seemed to be a sweet melody that was so pleasing to the ear. She told him about Julia's visit and the letter she left. Deborah wanted to know what would happen to the child if his mother went to America, since, according to her, he was the boy's grandfather.
Moshe admitted to himself that things were out of control, but kept himself composed. "That’s what she says… but do you know how many people like her are roaming around these days? All right, she had a brief affair with my son, but if she thinks he is his son, there are ways to deal with that. I'm not the right person to address this and certainly not with you. I'll look into the matter more seriously and see how it goes."
"Right now, as far as I’m concerned, I’m just updating you, but if it’s going to escalate, then I will need to notify my superior," said Deborah.
Moshe was silent. He never thought Julia would go to the Social Welfare office and he certainly couldn’t believe she would break the agreement with him and leave a letter. He needed to get it, or he would be a dead man. "What does the letter say?" he asked, trying to find out if Deborah had opened it and read its contents.
"I did not open it. I presume she wrote the things she told me when she came by the office.
Moshe was relieved. "Listen, Deborah, I would like to pay a visit to your office and give you my version, because I have a great respect for your work."
Deborah was filled with a sense of importance towards her job. "I have meetings all day. I will be free at 8 o’clock this evening."
"Do you usually work late hours like these?" He asked, as he entered her office, which was the only office staffed at that hour.
"These are not regular working hours, but an extraordinary visitor like you doesn’t come every day." she said, smiling at him. "Would you like some coffee? You won’t believe it, but we have an espresso machine here."
"It would be great if you could make me some coffee with whipped cream," he said, hoping it would keep her occupied longer in the kitchenette.
"I'll be right back."
As soon as she left and headed to the kitchenette down the hall, he took her bag to look for the letter. Mixed among other papers, a white envelope caught his eye. He opened it quickly, removed the contents and replaced it with another letter, adding a silencing fee of Five thousand dollars. When he heard her coming down the hall, he had already managed to return to his seat. The coffee was perfect.
"Well, Mr. Kowalski, what do we do about this story with Julia?"