Home > Chosen by Villains (The Heart of a Monster #1)

Chosen by Villains (The Heart of a Monster #1)
Author: Eva Chase

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

Torrent

 

 

I preferred Rollick’s teeth pointy. The viciously sharp tips concealed beneath my boss’s smooth veneers told the real story of what you were getting into. They showed that he was as much a monster as I was.

There weren’t any veneers that could disguise my true nature these days.

But since he could blend in with the mortals we lived among, most of the time he did. When I answered his latest call, I found him standing in his penthouse office in human-like form.

“There you are,” Rollick said before I’d even emerged from the shadows, with a flash of those shiny false teeth. “I always appreciate your promptness, Torrent.”

And I always arrived as quickly as I could, no matter how far off I’d been soaking in the depths of the ocean just off Santa Monica Beach—farther than any of the mortal guests at his resort hotel dared to swim. I wasn’t going to let even a minor delay undermine the respect I’d managed to earn with the formidable demon.

Traveling through the shadows had wicked the dampness from my skin, and I emerged into physical form totally dry. I extended two of my tentacles alongside my own human guise. My damaged legs wouldn’t hold me up without those additional appendages supporting part of my weight.

Vibrations my ears couldn’t pick up carried to my extra limbs through the floor: the pulsing bass from the nightclub on the hotel’s lowest two floors, the mellow jazz from the rooftop bar and lounge. I kept the tentacles turned so the suckers didn’t press too firmly against the thick carpet. It looked clean enough, but the suction cups were more sensitive than my eyes or nose as well.

I’d seen enough of what went on in Rollick’s office to know I had no interest in tasting the trace evidence. As it was, I caught faint whiffs of blood and semen in the area by his broad ebony desk, both of them fresh, before I tuned out those streams of sensory input with practiced care. I dipped my head to him. “I’m at your service.”

I’d never seen my boss actually sitting behind his desk in the leather executive chair. At my remark, he sauntered around one of the gray suede couches that framed the open stretch of floor by the office’s entrance—the section that served as a sort of audience room.

Everything in the office was black, gray, or red like the deep maroon of the carpet, including his outfit: a sleek, charcoal-gray suit paired with a dove-gray dress shirt and a wine-red tie with gray stripes. It played down the physical heft of his human-like form while adding a different air of menace at the same time. Anyone with half a brain, mortal or shadowkind, could tell with one glance that this was a man you didn’t want to mess with.

“I have a new job for you,” he said in his low, languid voice, coming to a stop in the middle of the room but facing the door rather than me. “Unfortunately, right after I called for you another matter came up that I need to attend to swiftly. If you wouldn’t mind waiting in the shadows a few minutes...”

He kept my presence on his staff private—it was useful to him to have lieutenants he could call on for work he didn’t want his name associated with. That was fine by me. Holding my physical form on land was more of a strain than it was for most shadowkind, as he no doubt realized. I was just glad I’d never gotten the impression that he thought any less of me for my weakness, despite all the sneers and mockery I’d had thrown my way from beings with much less power than he wielded.

“Happy to oblige,” I said, and released my solid body to meld into the patch of darkness beneath the desk. My awareness of the sights and sounds in the room around me hazed only slightly with the transition, but Rollick didn’t mind me watching. I’d seen an awful lot of his business from this or similar vantage points before. If it’d been anything that required particular discretion, he’d have asked me to leave completely.

He reached to his mouth to pop out his veneers, a clear indication of exactly what kind of meeting this was going to be. At least these sorts of sessions were typically brief. A few minutes sounded about right.

A moment later, the door opened. Two of the trolls who worked as club bouncers and overall hotel security marched a smaller being into the room. From his lithe figure, luminous eyes, and the greenish bits woven into his hair, I suspected their captive was fae or similar.

Rollick smiled at the lithe man without baring his jagged shadowkind teeth. The trolls kept their hands clamped around the fae’s wrists, exerting enough pressure to hold him in physical form in case he tried to vanish into the shadows around the room. Pain and apprehension were etched all across his pale face.

Rollick let his lips draw back slowly, the points of his fangs glinting. Then his entire body began to shift from its human guise into his full monstrous form.

His frame stretched until he stood seven and a half feet tall, muscles bulging across his limbs and chest as his suit vanished. A ruddy hue swept across his previously peachy skin. His short, fawn-brown hair lengthened and darkened to black, falling in rumpled strands to his broad shoulders.

Two narrow, curved horns jutted upward from the sides of his skull, adding another two feet to his height. His tail, slim with a tuft of black hair at the end, lashed back and forth. Cloven hooves replaced his feet.

The fae man let out a sound that was almost a bleat and squirmed in the trolls’ grasp. Rollick loomed over him, grinning even broader. His voice rolled out of his mouth, deeper than before with a rough edge that made the air itself shiver. No one with even a fragment of a brain could have mistaken his aura of power now.

“I hear you’ve been glamouring unwilling human patrons of my club so you can fuck them in the bathroom,” he said in a cool growl.

“I—I—I thought that’s what they’re here for,” the fae man stammered. “Isn’t that why you run this place? So the shadowkind have easy hunting grounds?”

“The Sunshine Sin Hotel exists so that those who play by the rules can get their needs met. But the most primary need is mine: that the human patrons keep coming. They won’t if word gets out that customers are regularly getting ‘roofied’ and defiled, you sniveling nitwit. And the very first rule is that all shadowkind who want to make use of the facilities pass my approval before they indulge.”

“I’m sorry, I—I didn’t realize. I’d only heard stories about this place. I—”

“You thought I’d be too busy with other concerns to notice.” Rollick’s smirk managed to stretch even wider. “But I notice everything. And I’m going to make sure you remember never to cross me or anyone like me again.”

He moved incredibly fast for his massive size. One second he was standing there, the next he was springing forward, his hand swiping out with the short but razor-sharp claws that’d protruded from his fingertips. With one slash and a twist of his wrist, they carved four jagged lines in the fae man’s face from his temple all the way across his nose and mouth to the opposite side of his jaw.

The fae man cried out. Plumes of his smoky blood gushed up from his wounds. The flesh would seal soon enough, but cuts that deep would leave scars he’d never lose.

Rollick stepped back with a dispassionate air. “Try to glamour those away, and they’ll hurt as much as they do right now. And if you set foot anywhere near the entire city of Los Angeles again, I’ll carve the rest of you up until you’re hellhound kibble.” He tipped his head to the trolls. “Get this trash out of my sight.”

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