Tag Archives: Bywater Books

A day in the life of Charlie Mack by Cheryl A. Head

Charlie was ten minutes into her gym workout when the phone chimed in her earbud. The treadmill’s digital display illuminated 6 a.m. so it was probably her mother. But it could also be a client. Charlie loosened the phone from her waist clip to look at the caller ID. It was Mandy. She turned the speed on the treadmill to 3, and glanced at the man running next to her who seemed focused on cable news.

“What’s wrong, honey?”

“Don just called. He tried to reach you, but you didn’t pick up. He said the mayor’s office wants a meeting at 8 a.m.”

“The mayor?” Charlie said louder than she’d intended. Her neighboring runner’s attention shifted to her.

“Hold on.”

She stepped off the treadmill and headed to the locker room. The gym was packed this morning with Detroit’s young professionals, die-hard health buffs, and a few of the city’s movers and shakers who were walking, riding, gliding, lifting, and pumping before they had to tackle one of Detroit’s dreary February workdays.

“I guess that’s it for exercise. I was going to see Ernestine before I went into the office. I guess that’s off, too.”

“How is your mom?”

“She met with her doctor yesterday. I want to look at the results of her test.”

“When you see her, go slow. She needs to be in charge for as long as the Alzheimer’s will let her.”

“I know. Gotta go. I’ll see you tonight.

* * *

The best thing Charlie’s ex-soldier, ex-husband, Franklin had taught her was the 5-minute shower, and she was dressed and in the office by 7 a.m. Don and Gil were already there, and they must have rousted Judy, because she was making coffee.

“Who made the call?” Charlie asked Don.

“The press secretary.”

“Shit. That means Kilpatrick is in another mess, and they want us to run interference.”

“If we take him as a client, we’ll risk our reputation with the business community, and our county government networks,” Gil warned.

“Right, but I don’t see how we can ignore the invitation to meet. We’ll all three go. Don, call DPD. See if any of your police pals know what’s going on. Gil, you’ll be wearing your lawyer hat. We may need a legal reason to say ‘no’ to the mayor.

“I imagine you’ll be doing your black-woman-in-charge act,” Judy said smiling.

Judy’s office manager talents were the least of her assets. She was an astute strategist, liar, and massager of egos, skills that had more than once given the Mack Private Investigations agency an edge over its competitors.

“It’s a tried-and-true way to operate in Detroit,” Charlie replied. “After all, black women have had to solve complex problems all our lives. We know how to put two and two together, see past the BS, and cut through red tape.”

“Excuse me while I get in touch with one of my contacts at headquarters,” Don interrupted. “I’ll be ready to leave in 15 minutes.”

Judy shared a look with Gil and Charlie. In a stage whisper, she offered her assessment. “I guess Don will be driving again.”

“Whatever, Novak,” Don hollered over his shoulder.

“No worries, Judy. I learned a long time ago the best way to maintain control is to give some of it away,” Charlie said.

You can read more about Charlie Mack in Bury Me When I’m Dead, the first installment of the “Charlie Mack Motown” Mysteries.

Charlene “Charlie” Mack is a PI in Detroit. Born and raised in the city that America forgot, Charlie has built a highly respected firm through hard work, smart choices, and relentless ambition. But she also secretly struggles with her sexual orientation, and supports a mother with early-onset Alzheimer’s. When Charlie and her crack team of investigators head to Birmingham, Alabama following the trail of a missing person, what should be a routine case turns into an intricate chase for answers. Shady locals, a southern patriarch with dark secrets, and the FBI obscure their path. It seems like everyone has something to hide, including Charlie. When the case turns violent, with a double murder and an attack on Charlie on a neighborhood street, everything suddenly becomes personal. Who can Charlie trust, and how will she solve the riddles of the Magic City?

Bury Me When I’m Dead was a 2017 Lambda Literary Award Finalist for Lesbian Mystery.

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Meet the Author
A Detroit native, Cheryl A. Head now lives on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. She navigated a successful career in public broadcasting before focusing on fiction writing. Her debut work, Long Way Home: A World War II Novel, was a 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist in both the African American Literature, and Historical Fiction categories. The next book in the Charlie Mack Motown Mysteries, Wake Me When It’s Over, will be available May 2018. Head is the Director of Inclusion for the Golden Crown Literary Society. Visit her at: cherylhead.com.

A day and night in the life with Sidonie “Sid” Rubin by Stefani Deoul

So I hear the usual ping. Which may not sound strange to you but it is for me. I mean, I can pretty much account for all my usual peeps—every one of them gets their own ping tone. So it’s not one of them.

And I know I should ignore it. But I can’t. I mean it’s probably spam. Or maybe even a wrong number.

By now I realize some of you might be thinking, “why don’t I just look at the damn phone and get it over with” which would demonstrate to me, that you, would be unaware of my present situation. You see, ever since the night my mother likes to call “l’affaire of the LARP” my electronic toys have been placed in durance vile – aka jail – aka the far wall of the living room of the apartment where the guards – aka my parental unit – sleep right along the other side of that wall.

Sleep. That’s what I should do. I should ignore the ping and go back to sleep. I look up at my glow-in-the-dark constellations strewn across my ceiling, seeking out Andromeda, “the chained lady”. I do love a bit of irony.

And you know I might have made it back to sleep, but for the follow-up ping. You know, the second one, reminding me I’ve missed the first one. And that’s the one that gets me. Which I suppose is the point. But that would be a debate for another night.

Tonight, it’s time for the Pink Panther sneak. I pull on my thickest socks, cue the theme song in my head and get my toes tipping. I remind myself to stick as close as possible to the walls. I read somewhere floorboards are more prone to squeak in the middle.

I peer around the corner. There it is. My contraband phone. Resting against my laptop, teasing, taunting, a mere two-sofa lengths away.

I wait, hidden against the hallway wall. I count to sixty. Inhale. I am so Ripley on a mission. Exhale. Go!

I pull the phone from its cord. The light blindingly flashes on. Fluck me! I freeze for just a second, gather my nearly exploded nerves and tip-toe-tear-the-heck out of there.

Victory. . .                                                                                                                                 . . . Of a sort.

I slide down to the floor, use my blanket to create a walled city of darkness and turn my phone on. It’s 3:20AM.

I look to see who pinged me. It’s a blocked number. But the two-line preview to the message leaves little doubt they know me. “Sid. . .thought you should see this.”

“Curiouser and curiouser said Alice.”

You know that might be a great quote for Mr. Clifton’s final exam!

No. Not now. Now is not the time to digress.

Time. That’s it. I look at the time on the message. 2:43AM. Over half an hour gone by already. Of course they didn’t need to be online to send it. They could have used a zillion services to ping me at a predetermined time. But who would pick 2:43 AM? Well, if I think about it, I might—if I wanted to seem casual about it, even if I wasn’t.

And it’s only to me. No Jimmy, Imani, Vikram or Ari. I wonder if this would bother me if I got it at 2:43 in the afternoon and not the middle of the night? But then, how would the sender know for sure when I’d find it?

I feel my arms kind of tingle. And suddenly my neck needs to twist. Maybe this is what people mean when someone says their “spidey senses” are at work?

All right Sid! Enough! You’ve risked being sentenced to permanent isolation for this. Open the attachment.

It’s a picture. Of a large purse, open at the top with what looks like the edge of a passport just peering out. And I don’t understand it. Why would I want to see this?

Talk about deflation.

WWVD, Sid! What would Velma do?

There must be something I am not seeing. So I two-finger enlarge and I two-finger enlarge again. End result is the checkered pattern gets fuzzier and fuzzier. I circle the edges, but there’s nothing there I can make out other than some kind of white wall and maybe an edge of a marble table thing?

And somewhere I must have drifted off, because enshrouded in my blanket tent, I do not see it, but I do hear it. Hear what, you ask? I hear the sound of sunrise aka the sound of my demise. It sounds like a very soft knock on my door.


I manage to wince out, “Oui, Mama.”

“It’s 6:30. You have thirty minutes to be ready.” For just a second all is quiet. But I know we’re not done. “And we both know you will come straight home.”

And my night, which began with a ping, ends with a clank. And this time, my jailer will keep her keys just out of reach.

You can read more about Sid in On A LARP, the first book in the NEW “Sid Rubin Silicon Alley Adventure” young adult mystery series.

Question: Do any of you know the truly scary part about being seventeen?

Answer: Your brain doesn’t actually know, understand or care what it can’t do; and, while this sounds great in theory, in my particular case, my under-developed brain apparently didn’t know I couldn’t fly.

So I jumped . . .
And I plummeted . . .

And I promise you, if I somehow manage to survive this act of immature-brain-encased-in-unbelievable-stupidity, I will gladly tell you exactly how I got here.

Which, for the record, is chasing a dark-web killer through the middle of a live action role-playing game, better known as a LARP.

On a LARP introduces readers to teen coder, Sid Rubin, a smartass—and super-smart—high school kid with a strong conscience and a knack for solving problems. This high concept, frenetic ride dives into the fascinating world of interactive role-playing when Sid recognizes the photo of a murder victim during an AP field trip to a police station. What starts out as an Aha! moment soon finds Sid and her unlikely posse of friends chasing a dark web killer through the middle of a live action role playing game. Sid and the gang work to unravel a deeply encrypted mystery while simultaneously enduring pop quizzes, endless Ted Talks, teenage heartbreak, suspicious parents, cosplay, and the irresistible lure of the NYC Public Library.

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Meet the author
Stefani is an award-winning author and television producer. On A LARP is the first book in her new, critically acclaimed, young adult mystery series, A Sid Rubin Silicon Alley Adventure.

Stefani’s debut novel, The Carousel, won numerous awards and her writing has been featured in many publications, including, Curve magazine, Outdoor Delaware and a host of contemporary blogs.

As a television producer her resume includes TV series such as Haven for the SyFy Network, The Dead Zone and Brave New Girl, Dresden Files and Missing.

Along with producing five seasons of Haven, Stefani finally succumbed to the allure of acting, “starring” as the off-camera, and uncredited, radio dispatcher, Laverne. When not traipsing around the world filming, she calls Sarasota, Florida home. Stefani would love you to visit her website at stefanideoul.com and to connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

All comments are welcomed.

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