The Formatting Fiasco: Formatting Novels for Different Platforms



The Formatting Fiasco


I believe it was Thomas Edison who said “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”  Over the years, people have inserted whatever difficult task they were after in the place of “genius.”  For me, it’s writing that is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.  Actually, I think it’s more like 109% perspiration.  And never has any writer worked harder than the independent author who self-publishes.


For those of us who do it all ourselves, we often spend as much time, and oftentimes more time, in post-writing with the formatting, editing, proofreading, creation of cover art, etc. than we do the actual writing of the novel.  For us, the creativity does not stop after the writing is done.  We still have to proofread it, edit it, rewrite parts of it, create the cover art, and the horrid, horrid job of formatting the thing for various platforms.


Herein lies The Great Formatting Fiasco.  Unfortunately for us, formatting is mostly trial and error.  After a while we get better at it, learning to always insert a page break in between chapters, the title page, the copyright notice page, and all the other important pages.  We learn which margins, font type, and font size work best for which size book.  Of course, there is always room for error, and formatting for a printed format is completely different from formatting for the Kindle format.  I’ve learned that eBook formats and Kindle formats are interchangeable, meaning that I no longer have three separate formatting files. 


One of the main problems, especially when it comes to the printed copies, is that you never really know what it is going to look like until you have forked over the money and purchased your own copy.  Then comes reformatting the files, uploading them again, and ordering yet another galley copy.  And heaven forbid you should find spelling and grammatical errors in them.  Just changing one word has the potential to throw off the printed format so much that all pages after the correction have to be reformatted.  It’s enough to make an author want to run screaming from their desk.


Checking out the formatting for Kindle editions is not as bad as having to order a half-dozen printed copies.  I don’t even own a Kindle, but I downloaded the free app from and always request a free sample of the book as soon as it becomes available.  For the most part, I can change the formatting and have the corrections uploaded before anyone has the chance to purchase one of the ‘mistakes.’  Still, since I only get a small sample, I can only hope that the rest of the novel looks as good as the first few pages.


Out of all the work that goes into producing a novel for the different platforms, I would have to say that formatting gives me the most problems, but it is also the easiest to fix, for me at least.  But I guess when you have reformatted more than 7 projects for 3 different platforms for 2 different websites, you have to get pretty good at it really quick.  If I had the luxury of taking my time, I wouldn’t get nearly as much done.  After all, novels sitting around on my computer drive aren’t going to sale if they are not formatted and ready to go.

Sneak Peek: “Into the Darkness” from the Book IMMORTAL SINS

a sneak peek of the short story

“Into the Darkness”

from the book Immortal Sins

the 2nd novel in the BEFORE THE SUN RISES series

Chapter 1


After her escape, he had beaten her twin sister until she lost consciousness.  He hadn’t meant to kill the girl, but so enraged was he after her sister’s escape that he had done just that, however accidental it may have been on his part.  Finally realizing that she would be back with reinforcements, he had quickly packed up and left.  The twins were, after all, cops.  He had gotten as far away as he could as fast as possible, leaving the broken body of the twin still shackled to the basement floor.

That had been five years ago.  He had wanted Altania Lewis like no other woman before her.  He had dreamed about her every night since, his evenings spent systematically plotting out her capture and eventual conquering.  But no matter how much he daydreamed and planned, he never could entertain the notion of killing the woman.  And that was what pissed him off more than anything.

Ashton Jones was a serial killer.  He had started his craft when he was only ten years old.  At the age of twenty-six, his craft had been honed down to a fine art.  He had gotten so good at it, in fact, that he had been recruited by the High Council about two years ago.  He had spent the first year following their rules, jumping through hoops, proving to all of the Elders that he would not go rogue if he was embraced.  Twelve months after his initial recruitment, one of the little fledgling vampires had been allowed to embrace him.  The High Council made sure he would not be too powerful once turned by allowing a novice to do the embracing, but he was still strong enough to continue to be an assassin for the Elders.  Now he had an endless supply of victims that he not only got to kill, but these victims would stay alive for as long as he wanted, allowing him to spend days or even weeks trying out new inventions and increasingly grotesque methods of torture.

Now here he was, in one of the many, many buildings owned by the High Council, waiting on his new partner.  Except what was standing in the middle of the room was not a partner, but the object of his obsession.

“I don’t give a shit if he is under the protection of the Council, Stealth.  I am going to kill that son-of-a-bitch!”  Altania Lewis was being held by both arms by the vampire Stealth.  She was thrashing against him so hard that his sharp nails were gouging out deep gashes in her skin.  The five foot six dark blonde woman paid little attention to the piercing pain.   Her sapphire blue eyes were glowing with rage.  Incoherent curses were thrown in between death threats and tales of castration with a rusty razor blade.

Ash had not moved from his position inside the doorway.  He had been asked to come down to meet his new partner.  The last person he had ever expected to see when he entered the room was the woman whom he had vowed to destroy… mind, body, and soul.

“She is under the protection of the Council, Ash.  If you harm her in any way, you will be put to death.”  Requiem spoke quietly to the vampire who stood stone still inside the door.  “She is now your partner, an appointed Vampire Assassin just as you are.  As such, she is entitled to the same privileges and protections as all our assassins.  You will protect her with your life.” 

Stealth was telling the wriggling woman in his arms the same speech that Requiem had just given him.  He wasn’t so sure that she was listening, though.  The woman was still screaming obscenities at him in addition to her vivid recounts of what she had planned for his testicles and penis.

Ash merely nodded his understanding to the vampire that stood between him and the screaming woman, still too shocked to think about much of anything.  His mind just kept going over and over the fact that he had dreamed of nothing but this woman and what he intended to do to her once he found her.  Now the council was practically handing her over on a silver platter.  Except that the meal in question had a huge ‘do not touch’ sign on it now.

Stealth had finally let Altania go, her initial anger having burnt out.  Her rage gave way to tears, her emotions so overlapping each other that she now stood in a far corner, crying quietly and rambling on about how she had discovered her twin sister, Altolya, beaten to a bloody pulp and chained like an animal to the cold stone floor of Ash’s basement.  Stealth was attempting to console her as best he could, but she was so deep into her anguish that she didn’t appear to hear him.  Instead, the vampire kept trying to turn her around and face him, thinking to use his vampire glamour to quiet her down.  Altania, however, kept her back to the vampire, her hands over her face and her entire body crammed into a corner of the office.

Ash still wasn’t sure what to make of the whole thing.  He finally had this woman who had haunted his dreams for years, yet now she was protected by vampire law.  To do anything other than protect her would mean his immediate death.  His immediate slow, and painful, death. 

The situation was not any easier for the woman who was still crying in the corner.  For five years she had criss-crossed the entire country, going from one crime scene to another in search of clues that would ultimately lead her to the monster who had so brutally killed her twin sister.  Her obsession with finding and bringing Ashton to justice had caused her to lose her job with the Shadow Cove PD.  She had been so preoccupied with Ashton’s little escapades that she had nearly gotten herself and her fellow officers killed during her last assignment.  Concerned with her declining mentality, her former captain had her reassigned to the Vampire Council’s assassin division.  He had hoped that the change of scenery would help her to heal after the death of her sister.  Instead, she discovered herself in the same room as her sister’s killer.  Which begged the question of whether or not her captain knew the Council was going to partner her with Ash or if this was solely the perverted plans of the High Council Elders?

“How could they do this to me, Stealth?” Altania asked with a calmness that worried the nearly three hundred year old vampire.  She still had her back turned to him, so he wasn’t sure if she really was calm or if she were slipping into some sort of manic state.

“To help you heal, Altania,” Stealth said just as quietly.  “Ash is a valued member of the Assassins now.  He went through the same training as you.  He has been taught the value of life.  His only victims are assassinations that have been sanctioned by the Vampire Council.  He is forbidden to harm any other being or face the same tortures and demise as his former victims.  He knows the rules, Altania, and he follows them to the letter.  He has changed.”

The woman turned around swiftly and glared up at Stealth.  “He has not changed, Stealth.  You of all people should know that it takes more than a few years of study with the Council Elders to change a heart blackened by decades of immorality.  That person there will never fully understand the value of a life, not even his own.  He would just as easily give up his own if it meant getting what he wanted.  And what he wants is me.  Now thanks to your Council, you just delivered me to my sworn enemy.”

She was angry, but that anger was giving way to a deadly calm as she pushed past Stealth.  She walked up to the eldest vampire on the Council, a man whose name that no one knew save for the other members of the Council.  “What happens when this bastard tries to kill me in my sleep?  Do I at least have permission to defend myself?  Or would you all rather I just roll over and let him kill me?”  She glared up at the vampire, looking at his eyebrows instead of directly into his eyes.

The vampire looked back and forth between the frail looking woman directly in front of him and the much taller, much stronger fledgling vampire who had finally moved into the room to stand a few feet away, watching quietly.  “The two of you listen, and listen well.  You are partners now, and as such you will defend each other with your very lives.  If either one of you should come up dead, be it by your partner’s hand or another’s, the remaining member of your team will be tortured to death, along with any and all remaining members of his or her family.”  The old vampire’s gaze shifted from Ash and back to Altania as he spoke.  “A better question, Miss Lewis, would be exactly how much of your family are you willing to sacrifice to avenge the death of one?”

Altania glared up at the Elder.  “You think that threatening him with death will keep him from killing me the first chance he gets?  He would happily put the gun in his mouth and pull the trigger himself if it meant he got to point the gun at me first.  Has the centuries of immortality replaced your brain with cobwebs?”

The High Council Elder stared at the young woman for a few minutes before he moved to where Ash stood, walking around the still form as he spoke.  “Do you notice anything different about your, ‘sworn enemy,’ as you call him?”

She watched the vampire circle around Ashton, looking at him closely for the first time.  It was only then that she noticed the man’s normal dark brown eyes were now flecked through with gold, the iris ringed with a yellow-gold hue.  Her mouth dropped open.  “You turned him,” she mumbled in quiet surprise.

Altania stood in stunned silence for a moment before the vampire’s threat and all it implied finally settled into her brain.  The Council was not just going to force them to work together without killing each other.  They were going to make certain that they protected each other with their final breath.  And while her family was being used against her to make sure she didn’t chop Ashton’s head off in his sleep, the High Council was using his new-found immortality to keep him in line as well.  He would be given access to an endless supply of victims that he could keep alive and torture for as long as he wanted.  And if he were to harm her, the Council would hand him over to an assassin who had been applying his tricks of the trade to vampires for centuries untold.

Seeing that neither were going to argue with him, the Elder moved back to his desk.  “You two have your orders.  You will go now.  I expect updates every two weeks.”  He sat down in his leather chair, going back to his mountain of paperwork, effectively dismissing them all without so much as looking up.

Requiem and Stealth ushered Ash and Altania out of the room.  Neither vampire spoke as they turned and moved down the hall, away from the front entrance of the building.

And just like that, two sworn enemies discovered themselves shoved together in an impossible situation, forced to protect each other with their very lives.


copyright 2011 Nicola C. Matthews

All Rights Reserved



25 Years of Blood, Sweat, and Rock ‘n’ Roll


Unfortunately, I missed seeing Bret Michaels this past Memorial Day weekend.  It’s also looking like I will be missing Poison and Motley Crue when they come down the weekend after the 4th of July.  Between time restraints, no money, and the fact that my husband would probably get arrested for punching some random dude that looked at me wrong, the Fates have decided that I shall miss out on all the great shows this year.

I suppose it’s not a complete loss.  While I had hoped to shove Bret’s own personal autographed copy of my latest novel The Red Fang right up under his nose since it is, after all, dedicated to him, I guess I will have to settle for mailing him his copy instead.  I’m just thankful that I finally finished writing the novel.

Thinking of Bret and his awesome gigs brings me back to last year’s show.  The Hardrock was Bret’s first concert after his harrowing health scares.  The place was sold out, fans were going crazy (myself included), women were crying and clawing at the stage, the room was electric with emotions and spirits were running high.  It was epic.  As the show progressed, I looked around to see women my age with their 8-year-old daughters beside them, both mom and daughter screaming and dancing and enjoying the pure energy that pulsed throughout the stadium.  I glanced over to my right to see a woman who had to be in her 60s with her fist thrust in the air, keeping beat with the music while she kept a death grip on the railing in front of the stage so she didn’t lose her place.

It was then that I had a sudden vision of my future.  I could see myself and Bret, 30 years from now.  Bret would be up on that stage in a wheelchair if need be, the air more electric than ever with emotions from thousands upon thousands of his loyal fans.  I saw myself there, my walker raised in the air screaming, “You rock, Bret!” as he thanked his audience for allowing him to continue to perform and God for granting him the strength and health to do what he loved.

It’s been 25 wild, wonderful years of ups and downs with some of the best music ever heard by mankind.  I hope that Poison and Bret see 25 more years of electrifying shows and screaming fans. I hope that I’m right there with them, screaming and dancing along with all the other rabid Poison and Bret Michaels fans, eager to announce to the heavens that I am a Bret Michaels fan.

And Bret?  You still rock!



“The Red Fang” FOR SALE NOW


It’s here!  The first book in the BEFORE THE SUN RISES series, The Red Fang, is now available!  You can pick up this 370 page gothic action/adventure tale with an erotic twist as an eBook, paperback, and for Kindle!  Visit Nicola’s LuLu Author Storefront or her Amazon Author Page to purchase your copy today!

The Red Fang: Excerpt from Chapter 11

a sneak peek at

The Red Fang

the first novel in the



by Nicola C. Matthews


Stealth? Ethereal’s mind prodded.

Yes, dearest? He responded after a few moments.

How are you holding up

The half-fey knew that her manipulation of the elements made her mind a churning mess with little coherent thought.  The sheer power coursing through her body and mind made it nearly impossible for Stealth to keep the connection open. 

The first time he had tried to open up the link between them while she was manipulating the elements, back when they had been in the parking garage all those months ago, had nearly knocked him unconscious, the force of all that power almost too much for him to handle.  It had taken him nearly a month of practice to be able to keep the link open for any length of time, and even longer to be able to control the connection enough so that he did not end up a blubbering mass of incoherence sprawled on the ground.

I’m okay he said to her.  But it was a lie.  He had begun to get a nosebleed several minutes ago, but there was so much blood already spattered on his face and body that Ethereal was not likely to notice. 

What Stealth didn’t know was that his nosebleed was not a consequence of their shared link, but a symptom of it.  Unknown to him, the red-headed elemental manipulator hiding outside the building was drenched in her own blood, the force of using so much power slowly destroying her brain. 

She somehow managed to block this information from the vampire.  The mission was the most important thing right now.  If he knew that using her powers for such a long stretch of time would cause her harm, neither he nor Requiem would have allowed her to participate, even if it meant tossing her into one of the cells in the basement of The Compound.

There’s too many of them her voice whispered inside of his head.  The vampire had not even made it past the first set of rooms.  The soldiers seemed to be coming from everywhere, pouring from both sides of the building and out of the rooms that surrounded them.

Take a right and head down Hallway C, then turn left down Hallway B until it merges with Hallway D, then left again.  This will take you back into the main corridor, going around one of the labs and interrogation rooms.  The main hallway is going to be heavily guarded, as will Sergeant Hall’s office.  Circumvent the lab and interrogation room and come up behind them; maybe you’ll get lucky.

Stealth nodded his head in agreement, suddenly making a hard right as he came to the first set of intersecting hallways.  The doors on either side of him suddenly burst open, a small army of lycanthrope hybrids rushing out into the hallways.  As soon as the first one set eyes on the vampire, he lifted his head and howled.

The warning was taken up by the small group, the sound almost deafening in such a confined area.

I don’t think this is going to work, he thought, the idea directed at the half-fey currently sharing his mind.

Ethereal was silent, giving Stealth a moment of panic as he frantically called for her through their shared mental link.

The labs must be where they do all the experimentation.

Stealth sliced into the soft underbelly of one of the beasts as it lunged for him.

I hate to point out the obvious, my dearest, but so it would seem, what with all the hybrids crawling all over me his mind whispered back.

Another one of the strange creatures, this one a combination of man and cougar, crouched down and then pounced.  Stealth bent down and arched his sword upwards as the beast came down towards him, sending his blade clean through the hybrid’s midsection.  Blood and bits of intestines rained down around the vampire, sending up a stench of the scientifically altered blood into the air.

Stealth wiped absently at the gore that had spattered his face and arms, his eyes taking in the mess.  The smell was enough to cause him to nearly wretch where he stood.

The scent of the blood had the other hybrids in a frenzy, the group rushing towards Stealth with rolling eyes and lolling tongues.  He pulled his sword up in a protective stance, but the animal-man combinations did not seem interested in the immortal anymore. 

They all descended upon the body of their fallen comrade, their claws slicing into the body while their teeth crunched bones so they could get at the marrow hidden inside.  The aroma of blood grew stronger in the stale air, causing the hybrids to begin fighting with each other in an attempt to get more of the freshly slaughtered meat. 

Their growls and snaps turned into swats with their razor-like claws.  As more and more of the animals became victims of the stronger ones in the group, the pile of body parts grew, the perfume of so much blood attracting more and more of the misshapen hybrids.

Stealth stood with his sword drawn, watching in fascination as the animals began to attack and devour each other.  He didn’t understand it.  The hybrids that had invaded his home and the ones they had fought in the underground parking garage had not seemed bothered by the scent of blood in the least.  Now they were all fighting each other like rabid dogs.

Stealth, go back! The small voice in his head brought him out of his wonderment.  Go back, past the main corridor until you come to Hallway A.  Take a right, and that will take you straight to the sergeant’s office.

Stealth took a few steps backwards, easing away from the squirming horde of beasts that gorged themselves on the bodies of their fellow agents.  Once he felt safe to turn his back to the feasting animals, he picked up his speed, dashing back down Hallway C and taking a hard right down Hallway A.

He made short work of the few SHiELD agents that he encountered, his body absorbing dozens of bullets as the soldiers continued to spray gunfire throughout the building.  He moved past the second exam room, stopping when he saw a sign that read INFIRMARY.

Why are you stopping?  Ethereal’s frightened but slightly annoyed voice whispered inside of his head.

Why would this place need an infirmary? He wondered more to himself than in answer to Ethereal’s question.  The head of this operation obviously doesn’t care if these men live or die.  They are all expendable.

So what? Ethereal practically screamed inside of his head.

So why have a place to patch them back up?  Why not just let them die of their injuries?

Stealth put his hand out and turned the doorknob, Ethereal’s voice inside of his head begging him not to go into the room.  The vampire opened the door and moved inside, his eyes taking in a sight that his centuries of immortality had not prepared him for.

The room was lined with beds, more than half of them taken up by men who were hooked up to all kinds of IVs, their bodies in varying stages of healing.  Some of the men had lost limbs, the stumps wrapped tightly in bandages.  Several of them were writhing in pain, others seemed completely comatose.   

Stealth moved to the nearest bed, reaching out to turn the IV bags around one by one so he could read them.


Vampire A – blood

Vampire Q – plasma

Vampire R – hemoglobin

Drug – FK506

Drug – tetracycline

Drug – propafenone


What is all that? Ethereal’s voice asked inside his head.

Stealth shook his head.  Whole blood, plasma, red blood cells, a broad-spectrum antibiotic.  I’m not really sure what the others are.  The vampire looked around.  This whole place looks like a bad sci-fi movie.

Ode to Orange Beach


A few images from my recent trip to Orange Beach, AL.  I’m like Amy.  I sooo want to move here!


A piece of driftwood I discovered on the beach.  To me it looks like a hand with a bracelet.  I may have to use this one as cover art for something one day.


A nearby sandcastle:



A few of the condos available for rent:



And some local culture:




Gawd I Miss My Online Friends



While digging around some old photos on my pc today, I came across a few that were of some very special online friends.  I miss chatting with them dearly, and often wonder what has become of them.

Crimmy aka Gnash Oscurita was the one who brought me into the whole RP world.  It is from this world that most of my stories have come.  Crimmy use to call me his “imagination,” oftentimes asking me to create the biographies and back stories for his RP characters.  It is actually our two characters of LeeLee and Crimson from which the 3rd novel of the BEFORE THE SUN RISES series was taken.  We entered the game as a brother/sister team.  I wrote the back story for the characters and always thought the tragic story of LeeLee and Crimson’s embracement was a tale that needed to be told.  It was from this early idea that Blood’s Embrace was born.

Thinking of LeeLee reminds me of another very dear friend who played in one of the online RP games.  LeeLee was bound to Akito, The Dark Flame, in one of the games.  I miss Akito something fierce at times.  He was such a wonderful young man, funny and bright.

One thing I loved about the RP world was that your real-world age had no bearing on the game play.  I am more than a decade older than Akito, but we got along beautifully.  I think I may have spoiled him a bit, feeling incredibly protective of him.  I think maybe he liked the fact that I babied him so much.  Either way, I miss him so much sometimes, like I’ve lost one of my own kids.  Which reminds me that my own nest of children will be emptying sooner than I realize.

It is because of my friendship with Crimson and Akito that I have decided to dedicate the 3rd novel in the BEFORE THE SUN RISES series to these two friends.  It is my hope that they may someday stumble across Blood’s Embrace and realize that Nicola aka Lorian Emerald “LeeLee” Leigh still thinks of them and has many fond memories of our days spent chatting and creating storylines untold to mere mortals.  I hope my boys are doing well, and are happy, and will remember the days spent with LeeLee with a smile on their face.



Sneak Peek: The Red Fang, Chapter 1



a sneak peek of

The Red Fang


Chapter 1:  … “Im protecting my household.” …


“Hey!  Hey!  Damnit, I said stop!”  Her voice struggled to be heard above the hoots and hollers of the patrons. 

The five foot tall red-head struggled to weave her way through the crowd, pushing past those who had gathered in an attempt to get a better view of the commotion.  She stopped once she got to the scene of the disturbance. 

Standing in amongst the masses was her ex-boyfriend, his nose bleeding all over the lower portion of his face.  His opponent, the owner of the nightclub, stood off to the side without a single hair out of place on his beautiful head.

Seeing Eric standing in the middle of the dance floor caused the young woman’s blood to boil.  Their relationship had been strained at best when they were dating.  These days about all she felt for him was contempt.  He was the last person she had expected to be fighting in the club.  He was also the last person she felt like dealing with right now.

  “My office, now!” She hissed at him between clenched teeth.  She turned sharply on her heel, making a super-human effort to keep her temper in check as she walked.      Once she reached her office, she turned and grabbed hold of the door, slamming it with such ferocity that the covered windows rattled in their frames.  Eric had to practically dive into the room, the corner of the door barely missing his ankle.  She ignored the fact that Requiem had materialized in the chair behind her desk.  Instead, she turned her attention to Eric.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Her words were very abrupt, biting off the end of every syllable as she spoke.  “I thought I told you to never show your face in this club again!  And,” she continued without even giving him a chance to answer, “you pick a fight with the owner of this establishment of all people!  What were you thinking?  And exactly what did you think you were gonna do to a vampire any way?  Bore him to death?”

Requiem let out a little chuckle from where he sat behind the desk.  The sound reminded the young woman that Eric was not the only one to blame for this whole fiasco.

  “And you!” She turned to look at the black headed man sitting so composed in her chair.  “Why on earth would you openly fight with a human in your own club?  Now everyone in this place is gonna know that the owner is a freaking bloodsucker.  By morning everyone in the whole damn town is gonna know it!”

Ethereal stood with her hands on her hips as she waited for Requiem to answer.  “Oh, please, my love.  You worry too much.”  The vampire made a dismissive gesture with his hand.  “I do not care if they know.  I have plenty of security.  It’s nothing to worry about.”

Ethereal grunted in her frustration.  She flopped down into a nearby chair, wondering for perhaps the millionth time why the six foot tall vampire sitting behind her desk insisted that he was invincible.  “For the love of my soul, Requiem, you are the oldest vampire in the entire southern U.S.!  Your blood would be worth millions on the black market.”

She sighed, her right hand moving to rub at the pain that was gathering in her temples.  “The wrong people find out who you are and you may very well discover yourself strapped to a cold metal table.”

Requiem’s luminous blue eyes shone out from a face that not even six hundred years had managed to make pale.  A slow smile spread across his full lips as he asked, “Is that a proposition, Ethereal, my dear?”

She let out a small screech as she picked up a pen from her desk and hurled it at his head.

Requiem laughed quietly.  He dodged the pen easily, his movements so quick that the object appeared to go right through his body. He tilted his head to the side and regarded her with eyes that were twinkling in the lamplight.  His dreadlocks barely budged with the motion. 

Ethereal hated it when he wore his hair like that.  He had such beautiful, silky black hair.  But more often than not he would twist the shiny strands up, powder them down and leave them that way for years at a time.  In all actuality, she had only seen his hair down once.  That had been eight years ago when she had first met him.

The vampire sitting at the desk folded his hands together and regarded the small half-fey with interest.  “Relax, my love.  Everyone knows that draining vampires is illegal now.  And as I said, I have plenty of security.”  

He rose up from his seat and slid around the desk past her.  He allowed his arm to caress hers lightly as he leaned in to whisper, “Besides, no one gets close to me unless I let them.” 

His glowing blue eyes bore into hers as he turned away, walking casually towards the door before he stopped to glance at Eric.  “I do wonder, though, whatever was so important that you thought you just had to speak to Ethereal.”

The vampire’s words reminded her that she didn’t know what had actually caused the fight between the two men.  She turned her sapphire blue eyes to Eric, looking at him curiously.  “Speak to me?  About what?”  She tilted her head to the side to ask, “What was so important that you couldn’t wait two measly hours until my shift ended?”

Both Requiem and Ethereal watched Eric sigh and run his fingers through his hair.  Ethereal recognized the gesture as his classic ‘I’m frustrated’ move.  His face turned serious.  “I have news, and it’s not good.  What I am about to say concerns all your little freak-show buddies of this town.”

She couldn’t see his face, but Ethereal knew that Requiem had just rolled his eyes towards the ceiling.  She thought his eye-rolling was probably less about the derogatory slang that Eric was so fond of using in Requiem’s presence and more about Eric thinking he had news that had not already reached the oldest vampire of Shadow Cove. 

Requiem turned back around and leaned against the door.  He folded his arms across his chest as he said, “Okay, I’ll bite, if you’ll pardon the pun.  What did you hear that was so damned important that my immortal life depends upon it?”

Eric glanced at the vampire before turning his attention back to the fiery little red head sitting opposite him.  “Something, or rather someone, has been targeting the local packs.  It’s been on the news about pack members going missing and being killed and so forth.  Do you remember hearing any of the reports?”

She nodded her head.  She had heard all about it.  The packs’ members had been picked off a few at a time over the past year or so, but no one really thought much of it.  Everyone just assumed it was a few radical humans who did not like living in the same area as werewolves and other lycanthropes.  But she didn’t see what any of that had to do with her, or Requiem, for that matter.

“What they’ve been announcing on the news is only part of the story.  Two of the five local packs have been attacked.  One of those packs lost every single last one of their members.  The other three have seen many of their packmates killed off over the past few months.  There’s talk that the smallest two are gathering up what few of their members are left and going to the werewolf Compound.  They own all that land on the outside of town.  Their compound is built to withstand attacks, so they have asked the Alpha for refuge.”

Ethereal listened in fascination.  Even Requiem seemed interested in Eric’s little story.  “Okay, so the packs are being picked off.”  Ethereal shrugged one delicate shoulder.  “They figured this would happen once the vampires came out.  We all knew there would be those who did not exactly relish the thought that the beasts of their nightmares were actually real.  So what makes you think this is nothing more than a few radical humans out to dish out their own form of justice?  I mean, why would you think that Requiem would be in danger?”

Eric raked his hands through his hair in frustration.  “It’s not just the packs.  There has been talk that Stealth’s mansion came under attack too.  So I took a ride to have a look for myself.  His mansion has been leveled to the ground.  There’s nothing left!  And get this, at every single attack there have been these military guys in camouflage fatigues carrying enough fire power for a third world war.  All of them had the word SHiELD written on their vests.” 

Eric’s already tortured green eyes took on a new look of worry.  “But that’s not the strange part.  Some of the refugees are telling tales, strange tales, of humans who turn into these half-werewolf hybrid-looking things.  And then there are those who have super strength and speed, like that of a vampire.  Only they are not vampires or werewolves or human.  No one really knows what they are.”

Requiem pushed himself from the door to cross over to the desk.  “Are you sure of this?”

Eric nodded.  “Yeah, I, um, use to date one of the pack members.”  Eric ducked his head in embarrassment.   The truth was that he had cheated on Ethereal with Starr.  And this was the source of their breakup a few months ago. 

“I came across her in town last Tuesday.  She said their compound is seeing refugees nearly every day now.  It’s gotten so bad that Joshua sent her and a few others out to the other packs for search and rescue.”

Ethereal noticed Eric’s discomfort and was happy to see that he was showing remorse for the first time since their very violent, very public breakup.  But she decided to ignore it for the moment.  “So the lycans of this city are being attacked, and apparently some of the vampires as well.  I still don’t understand why you thought this concerned me.  Why tell me about it?  I would think that you should have taken this directly to Requiem.  After all, he is the Master Vampire of Shadow Cove.”

To her surprise, Eric jumped up from his chair, taking the two steps that separated them in one long leap.  He grabbed hold of her arms, snatching her up from the chair and giving her a little shake.  “Don’t you get it, Ethereal?  All the supernatural beings of this region are being attacked.  All of them!  This group, this SHiELD as it calls itself, it’s not just picking off members of packs.  It’s out to destroy every last supernatural being that it can find. You are in just as much danger as they are.” 

He let go of her and turned his attention back to Requiem.  “I’ve heard that they are also killing any humans that they think have had any contact with the packs or vampires.  Familiars, donors, companions, it doesn’t matter to them.”

 He looked terrified.  Ethereal wondered if he was scared for her life, for his, or for that slutty werewolf that he had been screwing behind her back. “With this club being what it is, it’s just a matter of time before it comes under attack as well.”

Requiem picked up the phone and began to dial, saying, “Yes, I understand the implications.”  He held up his hand as the party on the other end of the line picked up. 

“This is Requiem, Master Vampire of Shadow Cove, requesting an immediate council with the Alpha of your pack.  Tell Joshua it is in regards to this SHiELD I have heard so much about.” 

Wow, full out formality, Ethereal thought to herself.  Things really must be serious for Requiem to start throwing around titles. 

She still didn’t really understand how the hierarchy of the vampire social infrastructure worked.  She knew Requiem was considered a Master Vampire because he was the oldest in the region.  The next step down was a Prince, and from there it followed along the lines of the royalty titles in England.  It had something to do with the age of the vampire in the region. 

The funny thing was that the High Council was so old-school that only male vampires were recognized.  The only way a female vampire got any ranking was to become ‘bound’ (the vampire equivalent to being married) to a male holding the title. 

Requiem paused as the person on the other end spoke.  “Yes, I will also be bringing in my advisors and immediate household members.  That would be fine.  Give my thanks to Joshua.” 

The vampire hung up the phone and turned his attentions to the two humans sitting in front of the desk.  “Eric, I want you to take Ethereal to her apartment and help her pack.  Take Jaxon with you.  I want the two of you back here in one hour, understand?”

Eric nodded his head as he took Ethereal’s arm and began to steer her towards the door.  “Hey, wait just a damn minute!”  She dug her heels into the carpet in an effort to stop Eric.  “I am not going anywhere with Eric and I sure as hell am not moving out of my apartment.” 

Eric ignored her attempts to twist out of his grip.  He just kept dragging her along beside him as he opened the door. In desperation she grabbed hold of the door frame and held on for dear life, beseeching the vampire inside her office as best as she could.  “Requiem!  Do something!”

Requiem looked up at her with those blue eyes of his glowing brightly in his face.  “I am doing something, Ethy.  I’m protecting my household.”

© 2007 Nicola C. Matthews

All Rights Reserved

The Red Fang: Prologue (A Sneak Peek)



The Red Fang


by Nicola C. Matthews

Copyright 2007 N. C. Matthews

All Rights Reserved


Ashton Jones was a serial killer.  Until he was recruited by SHiELD, he had only had the pleasure of torturing humans.  Now he had been given the very unique opportunity to not only torture but hopefully kill a vampire.  He was finding the entire experience very much to his liking.

The young female vampire strapped to the table only looked young.  Or at least, she used to look young.  She had been starved of blood for nearly a month now.  Had she not been feeding on a regular basis, Ashton’s systematic starvation of the vampire would not have worked.  However, the vampire known as Jasmine might have been nearing eighty years a vampire, but she was still feeding off the blood of the living nearly every day.

The starvation made the vampire weaker both physically and mentally, but it also made them very dangerous.  Since her body was used to receiving fresh blood on a regular basis, the blood lust had taken hold of her mind about two weeks into Ashton’s “session” with her. 

Starvation was a great tool to use when interrogating a vampire, but one had to be careful.  Ashton was forced to crank up his torture of the vampire a few notches in order to drag her mind back from the frenzy it was staying in due to the starvation tactic.  Now the female’s bones had been broken so many times that they were no longer healing properly, thanks in part to the lack of fresh blood, and also simply because the bones had been broken so many times. 

This information in itself was useful to the agency, especially since Ashton had been hired specifically to extract as much information out of the vampire as possible. The agency had already conducted numerous experiments on the vampire and werewolf anatomy.  What they wanted now was the information that their experimentation could not tell them.

Jasmine’s sunken brown eyes followed Ashton as he moved towards the table that held the small bag of human blood.  She tried to lick her cracked lips, but her mouth had stopped producing saliva a few days ago.  The only thing that gave her any relief now was the few teaspoons of blood that Ashton gave her from time to time, either as a reward for giving him the information he wanted or as a way to keep the blood lust from taking over her mind so completely.

“Please, Ashton, I’m begging you.  Just end it! I’ve told you everything that I know. Please …. Please …. kill me already.  I simply cannot bear it any longer!”

Ashton smiled, although his back was turned to the vampire so she couldn’t see the cruelty stamped on his handsome face.  “I have no intentions of killing you, Jasmine,” he said quietly.

The vampire let out a high pitched wail.  “What more do you want from me?” she screamed, thrashing around on the table in another attempt to get loose of the restraints.  “I don’t know anything more than what I have already said!”

She began crying again, the sobs almost painful to Ashton’s ears.  The agency thought that the sound was some type of warning system that the vampires could use to alert each other of danger.  It was also a weapon of sorts, as the high-pitched frequency could really hurt the human ear if it were used just right.

“The werewolves don’t carry viruses.  The scientists have already told the world this.  They don’t become werewolves or any animal by being bitten.  That’s just in the movies.”  She continued to pull at the metal restraints, her frightened eyes darting around the room as she talked. 

“It’s just like the scientists say, it’s a gene that some of them carry that gets switched on at some point in their lives.  I don’t know how it works.  I just know that once the gene is activated the person is no longer susceptible to any type of disease.”

Jasmine looked up at Ashton, the terror growing in her eyes as she saw the bone saw he carried in his hand.  “The human scientists already know everything that I know about werewolves, and you people know more than the scientists do!”

Ashton pushed the button on the bone saw a few times, the high-pitched buzz filling the room.  Jasmine cringed at the sound and began whimpering.

“What about the vampires?” he asked.

She shook her head violently.  “I already told you!” she screamed.

Ashton turned the saw on again.  Jasmine began rattling off the same information she had already told him a few dozen times before.  “You don’t become a vampire by being bitten, either! We don’t know it works.”

The small female vampire pulled her arms against the restraints, the metal digging into her flesh so deep that the bones were close to breaking.  She was so desperate to escape that she was causing almost as much damage to her body as Ashton had.  Almost.

“If it’s not a virus, then how do you go about making new vampires?” He asked, playing with the button on the saw.

“Whoever is being embraced has to be drained of blood.  They have to be nearly dead for the transformation to work.  Once the human is almost dead, you have to feed them the sire’s blood.”  She kept pulling at the restraints, the bones beginning to fracture under the strain.  The vampire did not seem to notice.  “But they have to be almost dead! If they are not nearing death then it won’t work.”

“Tell me more about the blood, Jasmine,” he whispered softly, reaching down to grasp her right arm in his hand.  He yanked the arm upwards suddenly, snapping the bone.  “Be still, or you’ll break the other one.”

The vampire’s sunken eyes were huge in her pale face, the pupils dilated so much that there was barely any white visible in them at all.  She only groaned when the bone of her arm broke, her fear so great that she could concentrate on little else. 

Her breathing was heavy and erratic as she continued to tell Ashton the same things that had now been repeated a hundred times.  “I don’t know why our blood makes a regular human stronger when they drink it!”  She began shaking her head back and forth on the table as Ashton came closer with the saw, flicking the button on and off as the vampire began to shake uncontrollably on the table.

“I don’t know who discovered the properties of our blood.  I don’t know who began selling it as a designer drug. I don’t know Ashton, I swear I don’t!  If I knew I would tell you.  My sire abandoned me right after I was embraced.  He left me to fend for myself!  If I knew of an older vampire who knew these things I would tell you!  I swear it, Ashton!  PLEASE DON’T!”

Jasmine’s screams echoed off the white tiled walls as Ashton turned the saw on and placed it against her naked abdomen. 

“Last chance to tell me something useful,” he said happily.

“I don’t know anything else!” she shrieked.         

Ashton only smiled, the sound of the vampire’s screams eventually being drowned out by the droning of the saw blade as the bits of flesh and blood spattered Ashton’s face and hands.  God, how he loved his job.