Yay for me! Of all the ironic, stereotypical places to be ... while I was in the bathroom and wasn't thinking about my novel, I found the answer to get me back on track. I just have to go back, rearrange a couple of things, and add a short chapter of my main character writing a letter to a friend. And that solves all the problems I'm having right now of how to piece some things together. Without giving too much away, it made a bunch of things click into place. So, I should be able to mosey along after this.
I am happy. I can sleep well tonight.
And tomorrow ...
(Someday, I'm going to write an entire novel with smilies.)