This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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To the victims of the Holocaust and all those who’re affected by hate crimes.
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I worked on a chapter-to-chapter basis with my two editors, Virginia and Lee Ann, starting from April 25, 2016, until March 26, 2017.
During that time, I did a lot of research and enjoyed the intensive contact with my two editors. I would like to thank them both for their hard work and suggestions.
I’d like to thank my husband for his endless support. And I’d like to thank all my readers as well because you are my inspiration to keep writing.
Cynthia Fridsmapage 6 of 20
Help is the third book about the adventures of Sybil Crewes and her friends in their battle against evil. It’s been a pleasure working on this book and I hope that you, my dear reader, will enjoy the story also.
Although Help is the third book, it won’t end with a cliffhanger like most book series. I don’t want to leave my readers on the edge while waiting for the next adventure. So, each book stands on its own.
I sincerely hope that you’ll keep enjoying the escapades of Sybil and her friends, and please, let me know what you think of this book on social media.
His heart pounded wildly when he saw the car. Sweat beaded across his forehead.
“It’s now or never!” the ghostly voice in his head demanded. He peeked over his shoulder, though he knew no one sat next to him. His eyes narrowed; he clenched his jaw. Then he floored the gas pedal.
“Faster!” the voice demanded.
“I’m doing the best I can,” he replied, licking his lips. Adrenaline flushed through him when his target came closer in sight.
“You’ll be free soon,” the ghostly voice promised.
He nodded and glared at the license plate of the other car. There were two little girls in the back seat. He grinned, “this will be a heck of a ride!”
On passing, he glared at the driver, who was still unaware of what was in store for him. He took a deep breath as he gripped the wheel, his eyes set in the rearview mirror. The distance between the two cars increased and the headlights now shone directly in the mirror. Annoyed, he pulled the mirror forward and glared at the exit toward Logan Airport. A look at the speedometer told him he was going 130 mph.
It was time to make a U-turn on the I-90 or he’d miss the opportunity—his last chance for salvation. Freefromthevoiceinmyhead.
His heart pounded like a jackhammer as the car bumped and shook. The tires spun and squealed. He wasn’t an outstanding driver—he’d only recently gotten his driver’s license after many hours of practicing and after failing the driving test three times. But somehow, he kept the car in balance. Now the other car was in front of him, and he glared at the headlights.
“Brace yourself for impact!” he yelled and floored the gas pedal. The other driver honked and steered wildly, trying to avoid a collision. But he was a guided missile following its target as instructed by the ghostly voice.
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Metal crunched into metal. With a shock, the two cars slammed into each other, bounced apart, then stood still, enveloped in a thick layer of smoke blacker than the night surrounding them. A streetlamp shone on the accident, imparting a gloomy yellowish glow to the smoke.
At impact, his head hit the airbag, and he bumped back against the front seat. Something snapped. The last thing he was aware of was the burning sensation in his neck and the maniacal laughter in his head . . .page 9 of 20
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1 – The Hospital
* December 19, 2015 – 12:05 a.m. *
Sybil’s cell phone rang as she walked toward the elevator to go to her room upstairs. She was tired. Frankly, she was not in the mood to talk. Again, her cell rang.
After a deep breath, she exhaled and pulled the phone from her shoulder bag. She glanced at the screen. The caller ID read Felix Wooden.
Sybil hadn’t seen him for nearly a month, since their break-up, though he called her almost every night, begging her to come back to him. She began to regret telling him they could still be friends. It’s not that she didn’t love him—she still did. But he wanted her to move in with him and the kids. Mission impossible, she thought.
In her heart, she wanted nothing more, but her mind said no. She’s a vampire and vampires and humans living together is like a fox living with bunnies—or hens, for that matter. Sooner or later, there will be bloodshed.
Sybil had never revealed her true nature to him. Instead, she’d used her job as an excuse to end their relationship. After all, she was available twenty-four hours a day for emergency calls—she took her job as the head of Nightbird, a secret governmental agency that investigated X-files no other agency dared to touch, very seriously.
“But we can still be friends,” she whispered as she gazed at Felix’s name on her phone’s display. Every time he called her, she felt nothing but regret. God, she wanted to be with him and the children—Amy and Megan—so much that her heart bled each time he called her.
With a sigh, she answered. “Felix. It’s been a while. How are you?”
There was silence on the other end of the line. She could hear Felix breathing. Immediately, she knew something was wrong. In her thoughts, she put her arm around his shoulder and held his hand. When he still hadn’t said a word for about two minutes, she said his name softly.
As if awakening from a deep sleep, he mumbled something unintelligible. She could hear his rasping breath.page 11 of 20
“There’s been an accident . . .” He paused. “M-Megan,” he sniffed. “She’s hurt.” He blew his nose. “I’m at the hospital.”
“Oh my God!” Sybil exclaimed. A cold shiver ran down her spine and her heartbeat went into overdrive. “What hospital?”
Immediately after the phone call, Sybil got to her car and drove at full speed, heading for the hospital. While driving, she misused her privileges of being a freelance agent for the ATU—the Anti-Terrorism Unit—by using her police lights with sirens.
Soon, she reached the hospital. Her stomach pinched when she halted and swallowed the lump in the back of her throat while a teardrop streamed down her cheek. She grabbed a tissue from the dashboard to dry her eyes. Then she flipped down the visor and looked in the makeup mirror.
For a moment, she doubted if she would break her two fangs—it was a painful procedure, and unfortunately, the fangs would grow back in two days. But until then, she could pass for a human. Many times, she wished she was an ordinary woman instead of being a leech. She had never asked for any of this.
Her glance slid down to her small shoulder bag where she kept a pincer she’d had with her for two years—always ready to be used before she went to see Felix. She used it to pinch off her fangs. Afterward, she cleaned the wounds with a tube of blood that was disguised as toothpaste. It was pink colored and made by Natalie Principal—who became her personal doctor after Sybil hired her as a doctor at Nightbird.
Holding the pincer in her left hand, her thoughts wandered to Megan, Felix’s eight-year-old whom she loved as if she was one of her own. Sybil had no idea what exactly happened, but she wanted to know as soon as possible how she was doing.page 12 of 20
Her hand trembled as she closed the pincer on her fang—CRACK! Pain shot through her, but she wasn’t done yet and repeated the same exercise. A sigh of relief went through her after she’d finished.
She squeezed the toothpaste and smeared it over her wounds to heal them. After a few seconds, she rubbed her tongue over her teeth to clear the toothpaste, and then she glanced in the makeup mirror. Satisfied, she got out of her car and marched toward the hospital’s entrance. At the reception desk, she asked for Megan Wooden and was told she was in the PICU—Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
The blood drained from Sybil’s face when she heard that. She shrugged it off and ran to the elevator and a moment later, she was face-to-face with Felix. He smiled nervously when he noticed her. Amy, now six, squeezed Sybil’s hands in greeting.
Sybil glanced down and petted her head. Then she looked from Felix to Megan, who lay on a gurney with her eyes shut—attached to monitors. A small device that was clipped to her fingers emitted a soft red light.
Sybil sobbed upon seeing Megan lying there so helpless, and she bit on her lower lip.
“It’s kind of you to join us,” Felix whispered.
Sybil wanted to say something but was overwhelmed by an intense feeling of pity and regret. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Then she looked at him again. “Of course. I came as soon as possible. What happened?” she asked in a raspy whisper.
His eyes were sad when he looked at her. “We were heading to the airport for our flight to Orlando. A couple of months ago, I booked a five-day vacation at Disney World with you and the girls. That was just before you—” his voice broke off, and after taking a deep breath and letting it out as a long sigh, he added, “I wanted to marry you!”
“I’m here with you right now,” she said softly with regret in her voice. She hadn’t known he wanted to marry her. God, it was something she really wanted, too, but could never have.
Her heart ached as she looked up at him and sniffled, “I won’t abandon you. I didn’t want to. My job . . .” she sighed.page 13 of 20
He nodded. “I know. You hunt for the bad guys, and your job is dangerous. But still, I think that we could have been together Sybil, da—” He cut off his sentence and glanced down at Amy.
Sybil petted her head once more.
Felix changed the subject back to the accident. “My car is a total loss. A car crashed into us head-on,” he said, squinting his eyes as if seeing it all again. “It’s a miracle that we survived. Thank God Megan was in the backseat, otherwise, she would’ve been beheaded.” Tears streamed down his cheeks.
Sybil bent forward and took his face between her hands while she looked up at him. “I have missed you and I wish that I was with you,” she whispered and swallowed a lump in the back of her throat.
“It’s a good thing you weren’t,” he said softly and looked at her with sadness in his eyes. “The crash would have beheaded you.”
All the hairs on the back of Sybil’s neck stood straight up.
Then a doctor came walking in. “Mr. Wooden. We carefully studied the MRI scans to see if your daughter has suffered a spinal cord injury. Luckily, that’s not the case, though she does have a concussion, and she must remain in PICU for observation.”
The doctor looked at Sybil. “Mrs. Wooden, it will be fine with your daughter,” he predicted. “A concussion heals without too much intervention. What she needs right now is rest.”
Sybil nodded gratefully and glanced at Felix. Then she took Amy’s hand and they left the PICU.
“She’s in good hands,” she whispered to Felix when they stood in the hallway, waiting for the elevator.
“Are we going home, Daddy?” Amy asked, pulling the sleeve of his jacket. Sybil sank down to her haunches and looked her in the eye. “May I come along?” Sybil asked.
Amy seemed excited. “Oh, please! Daddy?”
Sybil was lying on the soft pillows next to Felix, staring at the ceiling. Amy was sleeping between them, but Sybil and Felix couldn’t fall page 14 of 20
asleep. Too much had happened. Sybil sighed and wished that Megan were at home, safe and sound.
Felix touched her face, and she looked at him.
“I’m glad you came along with us,” he said in a whisper.
“Of course. That goes without saying. I love you, silly.”
He frowned. “Why didn’t you want to live with us?”
This question was unavoidable, she knew. There were a thousand reasons why they couldn’t live together. Her heart was telling her she could do it, but her mind told a different story. The greatest obstacle, obviously, was the fact that she is a vampire, something she didn’t dare to tell him, fearing his reaction.
Her chest ached. The corners of her mouth trembled. Hot tears wet her face.
Carefully, in order to not wake Amy, he moved closer to her. His fingers stroked her hair. “I’m sorry,” he said tenderly. “I didn’t want to upset you.”
“It’s because of my job,” she sobbed. “I don’t know if I’ll be around the next day; every day can be my last,” she whispered and wiped her eyes.
He kept quiet and kissed her cheek. She closed her eyes, enjoying his attention, then fell asleep.
When Sybil woke up early in the morning, she looked at Felix and Amy. Both were still asleep. Quietly, she reached out to retrieve her shoulder bag from the nightstand. Amy moaned softly, and Sybil looked over her shoulder, but thankfully, Amy must have been dreaming. Relieved, she touched the straps of her shoulder bag—everything she needed was in there—and carefully pulled it off the nightstand. She glanced over her shoulder once more to ensure Amy and Felix had not awakened, then she tiptoed to the bathroom and locked the door. With trembling fingers, she opened her bag, retrieved a small box, and took out a syringe filled with liquid silver. It enabled her to eat solid food for a day, a trick she’d learned two years ago when she saved the life of a high school student named Ian.
Sybil took a deep breath and injected the medicine into her upper leg, like Natalie had taught her. Now she was ready to face the day.
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She splashed some water on her face and looked up when someone knocked on the door.
“Sybil, are you OK?” a muffled voice asked.
Sybil smiled. “Yes. I’m fine, hon.” She flushed the toilet and opened the door. “Is it time for breakfast?”
“Yes, in a couple of minutes, then we’ll go to the hospital.”
“I want pancakes for breakfast,” a young voice sounded.
Felix and Sybil looked up. Amy stood behind her dad, holding her stuffed animal she called Mr. Rabbit. Sybil had given it to her a couple of months back.
Sybil looked at her endearingly and bent forward. “Do you want me to make them?”
Felix stroked Amy’s hair as she stared back at Sybil with a smile from ear-to-ear.
A few minutes later, Sybil was in the kitchen, busy trying to mix the dough according to the instructions on the package. She had often seen Felix making pancakes, but doing it herself was slightly more complicated than she would have thought. Amy chuckled behind her back.
Felix stood behind Sybil and pressed a kiss on her neck while the mixer moved through the dough. For a moment, all her doubts about their relationship fell away.
Several minutes later, they were eating the pancakes she’d made under Felix’s guidance, and then they were in Sybil’s car, heading for the hospital.
Sybil’s thoughts wandered off to Megan. Knowing she was hospitalized in the PICU, surrounded by strangers, made her sad. She hoped Megan would get well soon. A deep sigh escaped her as she glanced over her shoulder to Felix, who stared straight ahead.
At the hospital, they got into the elevator to go to the PICU.
The nurse at the desk nodded encouragingly after they’d introduced themselves. “Megan is on her way to Pediatric Neurology. She’s doing well. We tried to call, but we got your voice mail.”
“My voice mail?” Felix frowned and looked at his cell phone, then his cheeks colored red. Sybil cast a questioning look at him.
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“I forgot to charge the phone,” he whispered.
Amy pulled on Sybil’s hand. “I have to pee,” she complained.
“The restroom is around the corner; the first door on your right,” the nurse said.
Sybil nodded a thank you, then told Felix, “See you in a bit, hon,” before hurrying to the restroom.
She smiled faintly as she offered a hand to Amy.
Her cell phone rang, and Sybil exhaled when she looked at the display—Carl Peters. Carl Peters had emigrated to Australia with Dolores Barlow two years ago to hide from The Necronomicon, the book of the dead, because their daughter’s blood was the key to destroying it.
Again, her phone rang, bringing her back to the present. She glanced at Amy. “I must accept this call. Stay put, OK?” she whispered and closed the bathroom door.
“Carl Peters, how are you?” she asked.
There was a silence at the other end of the line. She could hear his breath. In the background, a siren wailed.
“I-I can’t do this anymore,” he finally said.
Sybil frowned—what’s he talking about? Then she knew he meant their baby daughter and sighed. “I know how hard it must be to take Emma’s blood.”
“She’s a two-year-old,” he said, choking back a tremble in his voice.
“I-I know,” she said while looking at the toilet door, thinking about Amy in there. If she were in his shoes . . .
“I won’t do it anymore, Sybil,” he said. His voice interrupted her thoughts. They needed Emma’s blood to destroy the book. It was the only way.
“Let me think about this,” she insisted and closed her eyes.
“Think about what?!” he barked. “I’ll stop drawing blood from Emma. Period!”
“Her blood is the key,” Sybil reasoned as she swallowed a lump at the back of her throat. A fist tightened around her chest.
“I don’t care,” he sniffed. “Haven’t we suffered enough? I lost everything! Dolores and I had to move to Australia. The only good page 17 of 20
thing is that—” his voice broke off. She heard him taking a deep breath before he went on. “Dolores had the opportunity to say her farewells to her dying sister, who suffered from lung cancer.”
In the background, Sybil recognized Dolores’s whispering voice, but she couldn’t make out what was said.
“It’s hard for all of us,” Sybil said and paused for a moment, finally deciding. “Anyway, I think we have collected enough blood already,” she added softly. “I forgot to tell you that Natalie told me that the rest could be applied with synthetic blood. I’m sorry. I-I completely forgot until now.”
“How can you forget something important like that?!”
Tears streamed down her cheeks. “I-I’m really sorry,” she sobbed, then sniffled a couple of times. The fist around her chest almost took her breath away. She sank down onto her haunches, leaning against the door and stared up at the shiny tiles on the wall and the sink. The room smelled faintly of bleach.
Sybil wiped her tears with the back of her hand. “Last night, Felix was involved in a car accident with the children.” She stopped and blew her nose. “Sorry,” she apologized.
“Oh my God,” he replied. “What happened?”
“A car crashed head-on into their car when they were on their way to Logan Airport,” Sybil replied thickly. “I’m at the hospital now. Megan has a concussion. But Felix and Amy are fine, thank God, except for a few bruises. It really is a miracle.”
“Oh my God, Sybil. I don’t know what to say. We’ll burn a candle in front of the holy Virgin Mary and say some prayers for you guys.”
“That’s sweet of you,” Sybil said gently. “Megan will be fine. She needs plenty of rest, though. She was in PICU last night, but now she’s on her way to Pediatric Neurology.”
“That’s a good sign.” He sounded relieved.
“Yes, I think it is. Anyway . . .” Sybil paused. After a few seconds, she went on. “But about Emma. I’m glad that you don’t need to get more of her blood.”
“That’s the best news I’ve heard for ages,” he said. “But I am sorry about you guys. I hope Megan will get well soon.”
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“Thanks,” Sybil replied. “In the meantime, you have to stay put in Melbourne until I contact you. Once we find the book, I’ll get in touch.”
Sybil put her cell phone away.
“I’m done,” Amy called out.
Sybil stood, splashed some water on her face, and then patted it dry. She knocked softly on the door.
“Who’s there?” Amy giggled.
“That’s what an owl says!” Sybil chuckled. The door opened. Amy was sitting on the toilet with a big smile. Finding it endearing, Sybil sat on her haunches and asked, “Have you flushed already?”
Amy shook her little head, stepped off the toilet, and flushed.
“Good girl,” Sybil praised.page 19 of 20
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