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Awakening: A Sylvia Wilcox Mystery

Awakening: A Sylvia Wilcox Mystery

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After a nightmare brings clarity to a hazy memory of childhood trauma, Sylvia Wilcox starts to replay the event in her mind. As she digs through the twisted details, struggling to recover lost innocence, she uncovers multiple levels of deception and betrayal. Finally, after decades, the disturbing and unexpected answers begin to appear before her eyes. (EBOOK-This book will be delivered instantly through a Bookfunnel email.)

Main Tropes

Private detective, female sleuth, missing person


Just as Sylvia Wilcox begins to let go of the past, old ghost come back to haunt her.

Intro In Chapter One

Detroit, Michigan, 1986

Thick, dark clouds hung overhead, threatening rain. Four friends rode their bikes up and down the sidewalk, filling the street with boisterous laughter, and enjoying the last minutes before a summer storm moved in. 

“Put your legs in the air! It feels like flying,” Sylvia said, removing her feet from the pedals of her dirt bike and cheering as she careened forward.

“You’ve gotta go fast if you truly want to fly,” Simon said, standing up on his bike pedals, pushing hard until he pulled away from the others. When the bike hit top speed, he sat down and stuck his red Reeboks into the air.

Humid air engulfed their bodies, making every movement feel as if it were in slow motion. The friends competed to be the first to reach the edge of the dead-end street. It was a typical afternoon filled with youthful innocence. There was no reason to think that within a few days, their lives would never be the same. 

The summer had been long and hot, but with the first day of school waiting eagerly in the wings, the foursome knew they had to squeeze every bit of goodness out of each twenty-four-hour span. Sylvia, Simon, and Charles were headed to fifth grade in the fall while Derek would go into seventh grade. It was not lost on the children that age, and time would soon bring the days of aimless bike riding to an end. Derek would turn thirteen in the fall, making him a teenager and creating a wall between him and his three preteen friends. This might be the last summer of fun, and they intended to take full advantage of the time left before school started.

“Our turn!” Charles yelled at Derek.

The two boys followed suit, sticking their legs in the air and squealing with delight as their bikes weaved and wobbled down the street. They made it to the edge of the twisted corrugated steel barrier, stopping their bikes and high-fiving. Sylvia glanced up at the clouds. A disappointed look came over her face.

“You felt it too?” Derek asked, staring into Sylvia’s eyes.

She looked at the ground, breaking eye contact with Derek. Uncomfortable nerves took over as she reminded herself that he probably wasn’t talking about the rising joy she felt each time she locked gazes with him.

“Yeah. It’s about to rain. We better head home.”

“It’s a few drops. I’m not going anywhere,” Simon said, speeding off on his bike. He took a sharp turn and headed into the alley.

“Simon! No!” Sylvia yelled. The familiar frustration with her brother rising up the back of her neck. Derek caught hold of her handlebars before she could take off.

“Settle down, big sis. He’s just going to ride through the alley. Besides, it’s starting to rain. He’ll be at your house in a few minutes.”

“Our parents told us not to ride through the alley.”

“I know, but it’s not a huge deal. Relax,” Derek said, gently touching Sylvia’s shoulder.

“I’m sick of him not listening. He’s only five minutes younger than me,” Sylvia said, turning her bike in the opposite direction.

“But this isn’t a big deal. He’s in the alley during the day. Most people are at work. He’s safe. Come on. Let’s go hang out on my porch. We can play jacks or something,” Derek said.

“I’ve got to find Simon.”

“Syl, you don’t. You are not his keeper,” Derek said.

“Oh yeah? Then who is?”

A low rumble of thunder filled the street, vibrating against the ground.

“Let’s have fun. Simon’s going to do what he wants, but you don’t have to follow him. Can’t we just hang out and have fun?” Charles asked, looking up at Derek for confirmation.

“Yeah, but Syl is right. We’ve got to get Simon first. After that, we’ll head to my place. My grandma just left, and my mom won’t be home for about an hour,” Derek said, preparing to take off on his bike.

“No. He’s my stupid brother. I’ll get him,” Sylvia said, gently grabbing Derek’s arm.

“Okay. Come by when you’re done,” Derek said. “C’mon Charles. We’re heading back.”

“Wait a minute. Nobody’s at your place?” Charles asked. A tinge of excitement in his voice. The prospect of hanging out on the porch of the older, free-to-stay-at-home-alone friend was exhilarating.

“That’s right. I’ll be thirteen this year and I’ve got the place to myself. Time to grow up,” Derek said, puffing out his preteen chest.

“That’s amazing!” Charles said. A big smile creeping across his face.

“Syl,” Derek said. “Stop by when you’re finished. Try not to bring your brother.”

The two boys burst into laughter.

Sylvia’s brow creased. Derek patted her on the arm.

“I’m joking. You guys come over when you’re done doing the weird twin thing. We’ll play jacks,” Derek said. Winking to lighten Sylvia’s mood.

Hard, warm pellets of rain fell. First in staggered succession, but within seconds, they were getting soaked. The trio, thrilled by the summer shower, laughed as the rain picked up. The three took off on their bikes. Sylvia rushed to the alley, riding hard and fast as the rain beat on her back. She turned onto the rocks at the entrance of the alley, adjusting her speed and watching for cars. The crossroads, as the kids called it, was a point where the three paths of the alley met in the shape of a T. One leg of the alley ended and joined with the two other legs. The left-hand side ran behind the houses on Lexington Circle, while the other leg headed down an unpaved path behind the houses on Rosetta Street. Sylvia stopped at that point. She could see down all sides of the alley. Two sides were lined with rocks, but the other half of the alley was slightly overgrown, with tire tracks running through the grass. Sylvia spotted her brother’s bike down the alley, leaning against an open gate amid tall grass.

“Simon! Come on! It’s storming! What are you doing down there?” Sylvia called, inching her bike into the knee-length grass. Nervous and remembering that her parents had told her to never go down that end of the alley, Sylvia yelled again.

“Simon! Come on! It’s raining!”

The rain had created a steady cadence against the ground and a soft mist clouded Sylvia’s vision. 

Simon exited the gate, wearing a yellow rain slicker Sylvia didn’t recognize. Her brother turned around and faced the yard. Simon wasn’t alone. He reached out his hand and received… something from the person he was talking with. A nod and another few seconds passed before Simon hopped on his bike and headed toward Sylvia. A figure moved into the alley, watching Simon ride off. Sylvia was angry and soaked. Rain blurred her sight, making it impossible to make out the figure in the alley. She squinted her eyes but became frustrated as the rain pellets started to feel like small darts. Sylvia’s clothes were sticking to her body and a strong wind gust caused her heart to quicken. She scolded her brother one last time and caught a passing glimpse of the figure in the alley.

The image quickly moved back inside of the gate. Sylvia never got a good look—too consumed with anger at Simon. Who was that person in the shadows? What did the person give him? Is that why Simon often cut through the alley before joining them at the end of Rosetta Street? Whose yard was Simon in that day?

Sylvia woke up. Her body covered in sweat and her head pounding. It was the fifth time she’d had a dream about Simon in the past month, but this time was different. The figure in the alley was clearer. Her heart raced as she fought to get out from underneath the covers.

“That’s it! That’s it!” she yelled. Her voice echoed through the empty house.

Sylvia rushed downstairs, slipping on the rug in the living room, and scrambled for a notepad and pen. She closed her eyes and wrote all the details of the dream she could remember. It was an actual scene from her childhood. One that took place a few weeks before her twin brother went missing. Was there something in it that wasn’t real? Could she be imagining some details? Sylvia wasn’t sure, but she worked feverishly to recall the scene as accurately as possible. All these years she’d been focused on the day Simon went missing. But now, she realized that the days and weeks leading up to his disappearance held the answers.

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