Nikki’s Gone Crazy $0.99C Sale!

Been waiting to finish out the Before the Sun Rises series? Putting off finishing up the Sweet Seductions series? Well the wait is over. For a very limited time ( I might change these prices back tomorrow, you just never know) every single book in my catalog is just $0.99 So if you’ve been wanting to catch up on anything Nikki related, today is the day to do it! Grab my entire collection for less than the cost of a really nice meal at TGIFriday’s.

Blood Spell: a Fallen From Grace novel Cover Reveal

 

 

Are you ready for the next installment? Be on the lookout for Blood Spell: a Fallen From Grace novel – Before the Sun Rises Book 5 coming 4/22/19 with the highly anticipated follow-up novel releasing close to Halloween of 2019.

Thorn has been searching her whole life for The Book of Blood Magic. Now she has found it, and she is thrust into a primeval struggle where the laws of good and evil no longer apply.Once she speaks the ancient deity’s name, she is bound to him forever. No matter how far she runs, no matter what she does, she will never be able to escape him.His disciples want him free from his eternal exile to reclaim his throne and bring the earth back into the shadows of the magic realm. There is no way to undo her blood spell, but she is determined to keep their prophecy from becoming a reality.Can she live with herself if she draws him into her world, a world he has sworn revenge upon at any cost?Will he be content to merely live, or will his desire for blood and war cause him to once again enslave humanity? What will her world become if he is allowed to reign over them? If he cannot control his desire for chaos, will she be able to make the ultimate sacrifice?Time is running out, and she has a decision to make. No matter her choice, one thing is clear -someone’s world is going to end.

The Dark Flame – a Fallen From Grace prequel

Looking for more Before the Sun Rises action? Don’t miss your chance to read the prequel to the next exciting adventure! Check out The Dark Flame now and get a jump-start on the next Before the Sun Rises installment.

Haunted by his past, Akito is determined to finally put his demons to rest. Unfortunately, the Fates have other plans. Forced to face his childhood head-on, he sets out to extract the justice owed to him. Will he complete his revenge with his mortality intact, or will the Fates prove too harsh a mistress?

Read this exciting three-part prequel now for free through WattPad.

#vampires #paranormalfantasy #gothicromance #gothic #urbanfantasy #occult #chakra


			

Blood Rising – Coming August 30th 2018

Coming 8/30/18 to all major book retailers.

 

We were outcasts now, forced to once again live in the shadows of the night.

We were the chosen ones, those Fallen From Grace, those who would rise up against everything meant to destroy our world.

We were just the beginning, the first few who would discover the dark secrets left behind in our city, the front-runners of the battle which was yet to come.

Aleria had been around the vampires for nearly a decade, welcomed into their world if still slightly apart from it. Until one night she happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. She saved him, giving up her mortal life, and he in turn gave her an immortal one. Now she was a part of his coven, but not everyone was so eager to welcome her with open arms.

Who could be trusted when no one was what they appeared?

In this new world where the lines of humanity and the supernatural have been blurred, it was becoming increasingly harder to figure out who were friends – and who was the enemy.

Cover Reveal! Clan of the Claw – Before the Sun Rises Series: Book 3

Left for dead by The Vampire High Council, Ethereal Oscurita is finding it very difficult to adjust to life as one of only two known lycanthrope hybrids to have ever existed. Torn between her love for two vampires and the man killed by the very hybrid who had created her, she is no longer content to spend her days hiding in the basement of the master vampire’s country estate. She needs time – time away from a disintegrating love triangle, time to heal, but more importantly, time to figure out who she really is.

Ethereal sets out to fulfill a promise to Nikkolas Redpaw, the werebear who sacrificed himself for the sake of her family while fighting the Shield of Humanity. She travels to the northern most regions of Alaska in a search to find any surviving member of his once great clan. What she discovers there could be the beginning of something truly wonderful – or the end to a tale five years in the making.

Alliances will be forged, friendships tested, and old wounds reopened. Will Alaska hold the key to Ethereal’s happily ever after, or a bitter ending to a life only half-lived?

Available for pre-order on Amazon, B&N, and iBooks on 10/15/17. Pre-order available through Smashwords and Kobo now.

Check out the official book trailer:

Author Interview with Yours Truly

Had an awesome time interviewing with Sophia over on her blog. Click below to check out the interview. Many thanks to Sophia for having me and giving me this exposure!

Nicola C Matthews.

Excerpt from IMMORTAL SINS – the Second Book in the Before the Sun Rises Series by Nicola Chey Matthews

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The sun had barely begun to set when the shrill ringing of Ash’s cell phone roused Altania from a troubled sleep. She almost groaned aloud when she heard Ash’s deep voice answer the call with a short, “Ash speaking.”

She thought she had dreamed the whole thing. Her entire slumber had been riddled with dreams of Ashton, her sister, and the events of not only the past few hours, but also the events from all those years ago.

The memories were still so fresh, the reality mixed in with the recollections and offset with her wild, subconscious imagination. She had discovered her sister’s cold body on the floor of Ashton’s basement in dreams dozens of times now, like the whole thing was on a giant loop, finding her sister dead and then discovering herself in Ash’s arms, his body pressed against hers as he held her closely, running his fingers through her hair and murmuring over and over again how sorry he was, how he regretted hurting her and her sister and wishing he could erase the sadness from her heart forever.

Again, it felt like it was two different people, like Ash was two different people, the Ashton Jones that had brutally murdered her sister in cold blood, and the vampire Ash, passionate, loving, willing to do whatever it took to keep her safe and happy.

Altania’s mind and heart were conflicted, being pulled in so many different directions. Coming from beneath the veil of sleep, it took her a few moments to right the world, to come to grips with the stark realization that she was being forced to work with the man who had not only taken her sister from her, but a man who she was finding greatly changed the longer she was in his company. The former she could learn to live with, but the latter troubled her more than she would like to admit.

“Alty.” The sound of his voice so close shook her out of her thoughts. She turned towards him, his voice and body too close for comfort at the moment.

“Yeah?” she asked a bit groggy, sitting up in bed and pulling the scrunchy from her hair. She let the dark locks fall around her shoulders, running her fingertips over her scalp to massage some of the soreness out from having worn her hair up for so long.

“We’ve got a problem.”

Altania looked up at him as he said that word, her body stone still. She knew from experience that hearing that word, that sentence, was never going to end well.

“You remember that little elemental that we were supposed to be meeting this evening, the one named Ethereal?” He didn’t wait for her to answer as he continued, “The Council thought she might be able to help us gather intel on the whereabouts of Dakota.”

While he spoke Ash removed the shirt he had worn to bed, the sight of his half-naked body causing Altania’s eyes to wander. Feeling herself flush uncomfortably, she averted her eyes while he shrugged on a new shirt, the sight of his chiseled abs and multitude of scars marring the skin of his back forever burned into her mind.

Altania tried hard not to snort when Ash said the woman’s name. What was the deal with the supernaturals in this country? Who was naming these people? Better yet, did they think the names were actually cute? Who ever heard of an elemental fey named Ethereal? That would be like naming a vampire, well, Requiem or Stealth or Ash. If this were a book instead of real life, she’s be rolling her eyes, wondering if the author thought he was really being original, or thought readers were that daft in the head to not realize just how corny everyone’s names were.

She tossed the covers back on the bed as Ash continued to talk, digging around inside her bag until she produced a fresh set of clothes. No matter what he was about to tell her, she still had to get dressed.

“The Council has been unable to get in contact with her since right before sunrise this morning. Her cell phone is going straight to voicemail. It’s probably nothing, but the Council wants us to check it out just the same.”

Ash followed her past the curtain that separated the sleeping and bathing areas as he talked.

“What are you doing?” she asked, turning around to glare up at him.

He stared back at her for a split second, not sure what she was talking about. “What?” he asked a split second before realization dawned on him. He laughed then, a short chuckle that echoed off the tiled walls. “I’ve seen you naked before, Alty,” he said matter-of-factly. “Besides, we don’t have time for this right now. We have to get on the road.”

The words were barely out of his mouth before she let out a half scream, half shriek as she lunged at him, her hand drawn back with the intention of landing a much-deserved slap across the face. Ash caught her hand easily enough, his fingers curling around her wrist.

“What part of ‘protect your partner with your life’ did you have problems with?” he asked her quietly, his nearly black orbs boring into hers.

She did scream this time, in frustration and anger, her other hand swinging for his face again. He could have stopped it had he wanted, but he chose to let her hand make contact with a resounding smacking sound against his cheek. His own hand snaked out faster than her mortal eyes could see, his hand capturing hers a mere second after she landed the blow.

He held both of her wrists within his for a moment before pulling her roughly against him. Her heart was hammering inside her chest, partly from anger and now from a mixture of fear and something else, something that scared her far worse than the vampire whose arms were now holding her tightly.

Ash’s right hand moved to the small of her lower back, holding her firmly against his body as his left hand moved up to grip the back of her neck firmly. He dipped his head, allowing his cheek to brush against hers as he whispered, “I said we don’t have time for this, Alty, but I’m game if you are.”

His words, their indication, swept through her mind and straight to her body. An uncontrollable shiver ran down her spine, her body trembling as he held her so closely against him. She was acutely aware of how her body was pressed against his, the feel of hardened muscle meshing with softened curves. Her breathing had become slightly labored, her heart beating loudly in her ears as her blood rushed to the delicate parts of her body, her nerve ending more sensitive to what was happening than she thought possible. She tried to pull away from him, demanding that her body separate itself from his, but instead she discovered herself moving closer to him, her body making demands of its own that had her mind screaming in protest.

Ash pulled her impossibly close, the feel of her breasts moving against his chest as she struggled to breathe creating an immediate reaction in his own body, his organ becoming hard and throbbing despite his lack of fresh blood in nearly a day. He lowered his head until his lips hovered over the vein in her neck, his ears picking up the enticing tattoo of her beating heart.

The sudden and intense scent of blood wafted up at him, his mind instantly splitting into concern and hunger. He pulled back slightly, noticing the spreading stain on her shirt. His brow furrowed, realizing that Alty’s sudden movements only moments before had broken open the wound on her shoulder.

Ash released his hold on her neck to move the shirt out of his way, a movement that had Altania struggling against him in earnest. Her thrashing caused the shirt to rip a bit, adding fuel to her frenzied mind.

“Be still, Alty,” he demanded, his voice firm and quiet at the same time. She ceased her struggles when she noticed that her shirt had a growing blood stain inches from the fangs of a hungry vampire.

Alty grew very still, knowing that any sudden movement might set him off, trigger the predator that lay inside of him. She had seen how he behaved around her fresh wound yesterday, knew he could control himself better than most vampires five times his age, but her animal instinct was kicking in, telling her to be very still and ready to run if need be, the fight or flight instinct growing ever more prominent in her mind.

The sweet smell of the fresh blood was maddening, but at the same time his concern over her well-being was keeping the hunger in check. Ash let go of Alty completely for a split second, just long enough to rip the already shredded fabric from her body. For Alty it felt like her shirt exploded away from her in a fraction of second, the sudden violence making her cry out in surprise. Looking down, she realized that she was now standing bare-chested within the arms of the man whom she had sworn undying hatred towards.

She groaned inward, cursing herself for not taking the time to at least put a bra on before putting her clothes on last night. She had been in such a hurry to get any type of barrier between her bare flesh and Ash that she had rushed into her clothes before she was even half-dried from her bath. Now the loss of her tank top had her bare breasts pushed up against Ash, the soft mounds within hands’ reach.

She looked up, seeing Ash’s eyes drinking in the sight of her body, a slight smile curling up the sides of his mouth. Seeing that slight smirk, the total enjoyment he was having at her expense sent her over the edge. She hissed through clenched teeth, pushing against Ash in an attempt to free herself.

Her struggles caused the soft mounds of her breasts to jiggle irresistibly, the feel of her body squirming against his and the scent of her skin and blood had Ash about to explode inside his jeans. He was hungry and the attraction he had always felt towards Altania was almost more than he could bear with her naked body locked tightly in his arms.

Ash let his breath out in a low, whistling hiss, the predator in him taking over for a mere breath of a second as he suddenly picked Altania up and turned around, sitting her atop the vanity that had been at his back. He grabbed her hips and pulled her hard against him, one leg on either side of his waist, her pubic mound grinding into his as he leaned in towards her. He held the lower half of her body captive with his left hand and arm as his right hand wrenched her head to the side.

Ash was breathing hard, something that vampires only did when they were on the brink of losing control of their base urges. Somehow Alty knew this, could feel his body coiled as if ready to strike, a slight tremor in the muscles that rippled beneath her hands. She had stopped struggling, her hands on his shoulders doing little more than keeping her from collapsing into his arms. Her legs had wrapped themselves around his waist at some point, her body on fire, every fiber in her being now trembling at his touch.

“Ash,” his name was breathless on her lips, barely audible; her mind was trying desperately to remind her body that he was not only the enemy, but a predator that could easily rip her apart. Right this second, however, she was less fearful of his fangs and more concerned about the man whose organ was barely contained within the confines of the material of his jeans. And if she was truly honest with herself, she half hoped he would take what he wanted, what she wanted to give, and was too angry to admit.

“Altania,” his voice was rough, throaty as he tried to speak, his cheek pressed against hers as he whispered in her ear. “I’m not going to tell you again to be very, very still. I’m hungry, in more ways than one, and if you do not stop acting like a late breakfast then I cannot be held accountable for my actions. There is only so much I can handle with you.” He pulled back, those black eyes desperate in his need as he added, “And to be honest, Alty, I’m less interested in the blood right now and much, much more interested in you.”

She didn’t speak, afraid that all it would take for him, and for her, to claim what he so frantically wanted was just one word of encouragement. Altania became very still, allowing her body to rest against his. Her breath was still labored, her heart beat becoming less like the erratic tattoo of fear and a deeper, more rapid beat of one in the heat of passion.

Altania allowed herself these few moments to revel in the feel of her naked flesh against the rough texture of his shirt, the rigid muscles rippling beneath.

Video

The Red Fang Book Trailer

I keep seeing book trailers all over FB by up-and-coming self-pubbed authors. I’ve seen authors drop several hundred dollars to get these things created. I wanted to see how hard it would be to create one, so I give to you my own book trailer created with nothing but stock anime images, free software, and about 7 hours of time. I figure anyone can make anyting look good if they have a pricey piece of software, so I wanted to see if I could come up with anything remotely good using free stuff. If you like it, please share.

Akito, The Dark Flame

The following is an excerpt from a work in progress.  “Akito, The Dark Flame” is part of the Before the Sun Rises series and introduces a character that will have a large part in the third novel from the same series, a novel called Blood’s Embrace.  This story tells the tale of how Akito becomes a vampire and a bit of his tragic past.  *Please note this story has not went through any proofreading or editing phases.

 

Akito, The Dark Flame

a Before the Sun Rises story

by Nicola C. Matthews

 

“Eddie, if you do not concentrate, you will not be able to control all of that Chakra,” Stealth looked sternly at his young charge, seeing the young man’s brow furrowed in obvious pain.

Eddie slung his head slightly, trying to dislodge the brown curls which had stuck to his forehead.  He succeeded in causing more of the loose waves to stick to his sweat-soaked skin.  He grimaced, his eyebrows nearly meeting in the middle as his brow furrowed even more.

“I’m …. trying,” he grunted, his bare chest heaving heavily as he struggled to breath.

The veins in his arms were standing out against the well-defined muscles.  His arms were outstretched, his wrists together and his hands making a mirrored “C” formation, the classic cup for which even now the tiny ball of energy was flicking inside of his fingers.

Eddie hissed slightly as he let the breath out that he had been subconsciously holding, his knees bending slightly.

“Good, Eddie, very good.  Don’t forget to breathe.”  Stealth walked slowly around Eddie as the young teenager stood in the middle of the dojo, the black pants of his gi pooling slightly around his bare feet.

Stealth stopped just to the side of his student, eyeing the small ball of energy critically.  “Carefully now, I want you to concentrate really hard, make the ball more compact.  The trick to making your Chakra more effective is to condense it within itself.”

Stealth got closer, his black eyes nearly level with the flickering ball of green energy held within Eddie’s hands.  The ball grew slightly, becoming brighter.  Eddie heaved in a giant breath of air, his body beginning to shake with the exertion of trying to keep so much life-force balled up in such a tight restraint.

“Good.  Now, focus that energy, let it slip past your fingertips, let it flow out, but keep it connected to your inner self.  If you don’t keep it connected-“

Stealth’s words were cut off as the green ball of fire shot past Eddie’s fingers and careened around the room.

“Keep it under control, Eddie,” Stealth warned, stepping back quickly as the green ball flew past his head, nearly singeing the long black hair that was tied neatly back in a long braid.  “Keep it connected, Eddie, concentrate.”

“I’m trying!” Eddie screamed in frustration.  In that single instant his concentration was lost, and the ball of fire grew to triple its original size, the Chakra coming unbound from itself and smashing into the opposite wall.

The entire side of the dojo exploded outward, sending bits of wood and debris out into the street.  A few people screamed as they quickly took cover from the flying splinters of bamboo.

Fuck!” Eddie hissed under his breath as he swiped his arm across his forehead, the sweat causing the loose curls to curl up tighter around his hairline.  “Sorry about that, Stealth.  I’ll fix it in the morning.”  Eddie looked around the dojo, grimacing at the various holes riddling the training area.  “And the rest, too.”  He gave his master a lop-sided grin before collapsing onto the floor, picking up the bottle of water a few feet away.

“You are getting better,” Stealth said, taking note of the various sized holes in his dojo.  “Notice how much smaller the holes have gotten over the past few months.”

The two of them looked around the training area, the various holes and repairs making the place look more like a war zone than a place for training in the martial arts.

Eddie leaned forward to look out the three foot round hole his Chakra had just made in the south wall, seeing the double garage door of the motor shop next door caved in on itself.  “You think old man Kiminick will notice?” he asked with a laugh.

Stealth moved silently around the large room, replacing the various weapons in their respective stands.  “I think my bank account will notice when I get the repair bill next week.”

Eddie snickered slightly, chugging down the last few swallows of water.  “So how come you know all about this Chakra stuff but I’ve never seen you form so much as a single spark of energy?” the nineteen year old asked as he pulled on the white shirt of his gi.  “If you know so much about it then you have to be able to control your own Chakra, right?”  Eddie glanced over at Stealth as he gathered his shoulder-length brown curls into a pony tail.

“We’ve been over this, Eddie,” Stealth said to him as he picked up a broom and tossed it over to his student.  Eddie caught the instrument with ease, immediately starting to sweep the floor of the large room.  “Chakra comes from the living energy within and around us.  Vampires are dead, therefore we do not have any Chakra to control.”

Eddie snorted, his brown eyes rolling skyward.  “Yeah, that’s what you keep saying, Master Stealth.  But I don’t buy it.”  Eddie propped his arms up on the handle of the broom as he looked over at the vampire a few feet away.  “Chakra is just energy, and energy is never really lost, it just gets transferred, rearranged if you will.  So dead or not, you still have some type of energy flowing through your body because if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be up walking around.”

Stealth sighed.  He was tired of having this argument with his young pupil.  They had been going over this same scenario for the better part of four years now.  Eddie was convinced that Stealth’s lack of Chakra was the result of some mental block.  Stealth, however, had not been able to make so much as a single spark from his Chakra ever since his sire, LeeLee, had embraced him all those years ago.  He had always been taught that Chakra was a living energy, and since the vampire body was no longer technically living, he would never have use of his Chakra again.  He had taken his trainers at their word.  But now, in this new scientific age, his young charge was determined to prove that his Master’s life force was still lingering deep inside of him somewhere, just waiting to be unleashed once again.

Eddie laughed softly.  He knew his Master was having that internal battle again.  He wanted so much to believe that he had not really lost his Chakra, but at the same time, if it could be proven that Stealth’s own masters had been wrong in this one aspect of his training, what else had they been wrong about?  If he began questioning all those decades of training, his entire belief system could come crashing in on itself.  Stealth was nothing if not a stickler for the rules that governed his life and the Council.  To know that they had been wrong on something so fundamental in his training would mean the end of everything that made sense in his life.

“Relax, Master,” Eddie told him as he went back to sweeping the floor.  “Even if you could somehow unlock your Chakra again, it doesn’t mean that the Council has been wrong about everything.”  Eddie glanced over to where Stealth was once again hanging weapons against the wall.  “Trust me,” Eddie said quietly, “just because you find out that someone has lied to you your whole life doesn’t mean you have to give up and wallow in self-pity.”

Stealth smiled at the words of wisdom from someone so young.  Eddie, above all the others whom he had been charged with over the years, knew all too well about not giving up in the face of great odds.

“You are right, my young apprentice,” he said as he moved towards the door.  “Enough training for one night.  You have worked hard these past few months and deserve a nice break.”  Stealth stopped long enough to pull his shoes onto his feet.  “Let us go down to the L and L for a few drinks.”

Eddie’s head popped up at the mention of one of the roughest vampire hang-outs in Abyss.  “Really?” he asked, almost holding his breath as he waited for Stealth to begin laughing at his own joke.  But Stealth didn’t start laughing, only stood waiting by the door.  “You are really going to take me to a vampire nightclub?”  He stood still for a split second before sprinting over to the door and pulling his own shoes onto his feet.

“But you’ve always said I was too young and inexperienced to be trusted in such places.”  Eddie looked over at his Master, thinking that this whole thing had to surely be a joke.

“And why not?” Stealth asked as he ushered his young charge out the door.  “You are never going to learn what it means to be a vampire assassin if you do not get your hands dirty once in a while.”

 

*******************************************************************************

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