“She’s coming downstairs,” Coby observed through the office window, relying heavily on the skills he’d been learning in the St. Paul police academy. “Maybe for a midnight snack.”
“Are we still going to tell her?” Batya asked, glancing at her husband, Arik.
“Makes no difference to me,” Sevin said as she continue to record the conversation on the laptop.
“I’m not comfortable keeping this from her,” David said. “She has a right to know.”
“Oh! Here she comes!” Sara said with a gasp as she grabbed David’s arm possessively. “This is like a surprise party!”
They all watched in anticipation as Sheyna Galyan, the author of the Rabbi David Cohen suspense series and several short story mysteries, stepped off the last step in her hundred-year-old house, started across the living room, then stopped and did a double-take looking through the window to the attached home office. Eyebrows pulled together, she opened the door to the office and stood in the entryway.
“What’s going on?” Sheyna asked.
“Why don’t you sit down?” David extricated his arm from his wife’s hold and gestured to a nearby chair.
“Why? Why do I need to sit down?” Sheyna demanded.
“It’s nothing bad,” Batya assured her.
Sheyna noticed Sevin on the laptop and narrowed her eyes. “What are you doing on my
“We’re writing your newsletter,” Arik said.
“I haven’t done a newsletter,” Sheyna replied.
“Your readers think you have,” Arik explained. “We did one for September and now we’re working on October’s.”
“You wrote a newsletter without me?” Sheyna seemed genuinely confused.
“We thought it’d be helpful,” Coby said.
Sheyna settled her stare on Sevin. “How did you get my password?”
Wiggling her fingers in the air, Sevin replied, “Mad skills.”
“You hacked my computer?”
“Among other things,” Sevin replied.
“Why don’t you sit down?” David repeated.
“I don’t want to sit down.” Sheyna went over to the desk and glanced at the laptop screen. “Whose idea was this?”
David started to speak, hesitated, then sighed. “Mine. Arik got everyone together. Sevin did all the typing. I’m sorry if we overstepped our bounds.”
“And we came up with a name.” Sara added. “The Clue!”
Sheyna looked from face to face. “You really did all this for me?”
“You have been quite busy,” Batya observed, “with your book launch and a bunch of other book events. We thought we could do this one thing for you.”
Silently, Sheyna made her way to a chair and sat. “Wow. I—thank you.”
“You had a lovely book launch at SubText Books by the way,” David said.
Sheyna cut her eyes to him. “You were there? I didn’t see you.”
“We kept a low profile.” David smiled. “Thank you for providing kosher wine and bread.”
“Sure,” Sheyna said distractedly. “You guys really wrote a newsletter for me? What else have you done?”
“That’s above your pay grade,” Arik said with a smirk.
Rolling her eyes, Sheyna asked, “What pay grade?”
“The pay grade you’ll have when you get your first royalty check!” Batya offered optimistically.
“You’ve been, like, everywhere,” Sara added. “TV news, radio, two newspapers, all over social media. It’s amazing! Books have to be selling.”
“There has been a lot of local news coverage,” Sheyna agreed. “Most of it unexpected. I’m very grateful. But I can’t just foist the newsletter off onto you all.”
“We’re kind of enjoying it,” Coby said. “And you’ve got, what, a worldwide mystery convention and three more events this month, right?”
“Yeah, I’ll be at Bouchercon in North Carolina, October 8-11. And I have two events in St. Paul and one in Hudson, Wisconsin.”
“So let us handle this,” Sara said.
“The Clue, huh?” Sheyna asked.
“I’m Rebel With a Clue,” Arik said, resurrecting his joke from the previous month. He tilted his head toward David. “He’s Rabbi Without a Clue.”
“Do the rest of you have Clue-based nicknames too?” Sheyna asked.
“Not if I have anything to say about it,” Batya muttered.
Sheyna snickered. “So where does that leave us?”
“It leaves you getting ready to go to Bouchercon in a little over a week,” Sara said.
“After Simchat Torah,” David added, always the rabbi. “And finishing your presentation for Chapter2 Books in Hudson.”
It was Sheyna’s turn to smirk at David, whom everyone knew hated to write. “You wanna help me write it?”
“I think this is where I say my goodbyes,” David said.
“It is late,” Coby observed. “I’ve got class in the morning.”
“Until next time?” Batya asked.
“Yeah. I’m hoping Eli can join us then too,” David said.
Sheyna gave him a confused look. “Why isn’t he here?”
“He couldn’t get away from his shul over Sukkot.”
“He couldn’t—?” Sheyna shook her head slowly, trying to comprehend. “How does that even work? How does this work? You’re all my characters, from three different stories! How can you even write a newsletter? Or log on to my computer? Or—”
Arik stepped over and helped her stand, then directed her to the living room doorway. “As I said, above your pay grade. We’ve got this. Now, you have a third book to write, nachon?”
“Yes. Correct,” Sheyna agreed.
Arik grinned. “Keep writing. This is my big break. Don’t let me down.” He opened the door with one hand while leading Sheyna through with the other. “And don’t write anything I wouldn’t say,” he added, closing the door behind her.
“Did you just ‘handle’ her?” Coby asked him, impressed.
“Have to keep the author in line,” Arik said.
“Can you teach me how to do that?”
A smile played around the corner of Arik’s mouth. “No. It’s—”
“—above my pay grade,” Coby finished with him. “Figures.”