Monsters In Hollywood, Book 3
He waited in the shadows, still and silent, a part of the deepening night. She did not see him because people do not, will not, see the monster. She was one of the few who knew monsters were real, but did not see him until it was too late.
Too late came the moment he got his claws on her. She was not a little girl, but compared to his massive claw-tipped hands her waist was tiny.
Margo drew in a startled gasp. The kind movie heroines took before they fainted.
But Margo had no aspirations to star on the silver screen, and her response was indicative of who, and what, she was.
She hauled back and punched him in the nose. At least, it would have been the nose, if he weren’t over eight feet tall. The monster had black skin and huge bat-like wings covered in a cobalt membrane. The talons on the end of his three-fingered hands were gold, glinting dully in the moonlight.
“You try to hurt me?” Runako grumbled in surprise.
“Runako.” The name was an accusation on her lips. Margo shook out her hand and looked up and up into the face of the monster.
“You know me. Good.”
Fat chance she’d forget someone, something, like Runako. As a monster he radiated danger, and when he was a human he had chocolate skin and the banging body of a running back.
Recovering from her shock, Margo realized the only reason he would be lying in wait for her in the darkest corner of a parking lot would be if something had gone wrong, terribly wrong.
“Qué sucedió? What’s wrong?”
“Wrong?” Runako flexed his fingers, and Margo’s breath left in a woosh as he squeezed her. “Nothing is wrong.”
“Then why are you here?” Margo asked, attempting to pry his fingers, er, claws from her. Not that she wasn’t interested in getting grabby with Runako—preferably in his human body, but there was a time and place for everything. Besides, she always liked to initiate the grabbing.
“I’m here for you,” he replied.
Margo looked up, slowly. He was here for her? That sounded so dirty. Tramp, she accused herself.
“What do you want with me?” Margo asked, voice gone husky.
“With you? I would like to have sex with you.”
Yes, please! Still, meeting in a dark parking lot was hardly romantic. Where was the wine, the chocolates? Okay she’d settle for a vodka shot and tacos, but it was the principle of the thing.
“So you’re here to…what?” she asked, grunting as she redoubled her efforts to pry his fingers away.
“I’m going to kidnap you.”
Margo laughed. “Nice one.”
Runako didn’t laugh.
“Let me go,” Margo demanded, a bit worried. She might have to punch him again.
“I said let me go.”
“But I want you. And you are not strong enough to free yourself.”
“I said. Let. Me. Go. Déjeme ir.”
“I am taking you away.”
“Like hell. Where?”
“To the Captive Caves.”
“The Captive… Oh hell no. What kind of dumb-ass idea is this?”
“It was Michael’s idea. He was going to keep Jane in bondage in one of the caves.”
“Did he hurt Jane? Did he fucking hurt her? I will kill him. They will never find all the pieces of his body. Él es muerto. And if you helped him hurt her you are fucking dead too. I’ll get my gun. I bet you bastards aren’t bulletproof—”
“You are loyal, and willing to fight to protect those you love,” Runako said, lifting Margo off the ground. “I thought humans only hunted for the sport of it.”
“Where’s Jane? Where is she?” Margo squeaked, toes kicking at Runako, who ignored her. Nobody had picked her up since she was in kindergarten.
“She is with Michael. She agreed to be his mate, so he no longer needed to keep her in bondage.” Runako shifted his hold, flipping Margo so that he held her draped over his muscled arms. He unfurled his wings with a sound like canvas snapping in a breeze.
“What are you doing?” Margo demanded.
“Since the cave is available, I am taking you there, to keep you in bondage.”
And for the first time in her life, Margo was utterly speechless.
He had to drug her. He chose to think of it as drugging, rather than poisoning. Really he had no choice. Margo insisted on shaking and screaming as he brought them into the sky. She first tried to fight free, and then clung to him as they climbed in altitude. He had no problem with Margo clinging to him—it felt good—but when she reached over his shoulder and grabbed one of his wings Runako was forced to prevent her from sending them both spiraling from the sky.
Runako shifted Margo until he held her against his chest. She tucked her head into his neck, and a rush of protectiveness overtook him.
Runako flexed his free hand, and a poison-tipped barb slid from a sheath in his forearm. He brought the barb to his mouth and licked the tip. With a trace of poison on his tongue Runako raised Margo slightly. She lifted her face, and Runako could smell her spike in fear. He extended his tongue, stroking it along the pale column of her neck, where the skin was thin.
Margo flinched away. In the next second she shuddered, her dangling legs jerking uncontrollably as the poison slipped into her body and forced her into unconsciousness. There was a terrifying moment in which he’d worried he’d given too much. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d almost accidentally killed a human, but, even over the sounds of rushing air, he could hear the beat of her heart and the steady rise and fall of her breath.
Runako bared his teeth in pleasure. He did not have a high opinion of humans, but this one was something special, and now…she was his.
* * * *
Runako flew all night. As they left the temperate air of the West Coast and rose over the high-peaked mountains of the Rockies, ice began to form on his wings. Runako did not let this stop him. He pulled Margo closer in to his chest and willed a bubble of heat to surround her body. She was light in his arms, though he knew her to be larger than other human women by visible comparisons.
As he pushed on, flying for the remote mountains where the Monsters had made their home, Runako considered how greatly his world had changed. After his sister’s death Runako could not stand the sight of a human, could barely stand the sight of his own people.
Chevo and…no, he should use their human names, as that is what they went by now. Luke, Michael and Henry had decided to deal with the ever-growing problem of humans, and their expanding world, by making friends with them. Still fresh from the grief of losing his sister, Runako could not imagine anything so horrible as to make friends with the humans who had murdered her.
Luke, Michael and Henry had always been fascinated by the humans, and had convinced everyone that there was a way to change the human’s opinion of monsters. Runako ignored them—sure nothing would come of their asinine plan—until the Counsel gave them leave to go to Los Angeles.
Runako, angry and afraid, followed them to Los Angeles. Rather than scaring humans off he’d found himself drawn into their world and the circle of human women Luke had recruited to help them. He would always remember waking to find Margo holding ice to his face where a lump was forming after Luke had punched him.
Humans were not what he’d thought they were, though he still felt it was naive of the others to dismiss the brutal base nature of humanity.
Runako’s senses flared as he passed over the hidden homes of the Monsters, but he continued past those, heading for the Captive Caves.
They began their descent, and Margo stirred in his arms. Runako shifted his wings, blunting them to the air as he slowed their descent and landed on a lip of rock. Bending low he ducked under an overhang that served to protect the opening of the cave from the snow.
It was slow going, with his towering height, but he tucked his wings tight to his back and made sure Margo’s arms and legs did not scrape the walls. The entrance to the cave was narrow, like the neck of a bottle, and twisted and turned. Though it was pitch dark Runako had no problem finding his way. He’d been in and out of this cave many times in the past week as he’d prepared it for Michael.
But now the cave was his, and the captive woman inside was his also.
Runako laid Margo down on a wide stone altar. She wore those odd-looking shoes. What did they call them? High heels. He removed the shoes, carefully plucking them off with his talons. The shoes made it look as though she had spikes on the bottom of her feet. He frowned at the faint lines the shoes left.
He went to rub them, but his hands and talons were too big to deal with her delicate limbs.
Runako stepped back and drew on a spell he could feel pulsing just under his breastbone. His wings folded in, his bones shrinking. He shrank, his true form disappearing into the body of a human man. Runako rolled his shoulders. This body felt strange, though not as bad as it once had. He would always prefer his true body, but it was too bulky when dealing with humans.
And he planned to deal, extensively, with Margo.
Runako stepped up to the stone altar where Margo lay. Her long dark hair partially covered her face. Runako brushed it aside, and she stirred faintly. He ran his hand down her body, keeping an inch of air between his hand and her. He stroked the top of her bare feet then reached for the chain and manacle that dangled from the side of the stone altar.
He lifted the cuff, which was shiny from the cleaning he’d given it a few days ago, and locked it in place around her ankle.
Margo woke with an aching head, stuffy nose and sore throat. She scrubbed her hands over her face and groaned. She was coming down with a cold, or was she massively hung over. Last night was a bit fuzzy. She remembered leaving the office late and then…nothing.
She must have gone over to Cali’s and tied one on, making this a hangover. In desperate want of aspirin Margo sat up. Chain clanked.
Margo cautiously opened one eye. Rather than her tastefully decorated bedroom in the cute little guesthouse she called home, Margo was looking at stone walls.
“This is bad.”
Margo stared down at the heavy metal cuff around her left ankle. It took a minute to process. Margo touched the cuff. Yep, it was there.
“Oh hell no.”
Margo looked around. The cave had curving walls, a slightly uneven floor, and huge metal oil-filled bowls from which fire flared.
She looked at the cuff again. The memory of a massive shape, darker than shadows, filled her mind.
“Runako,” she whispered.
He came around a corner, appearing from the hidden inner depths of the cave. A million sharp comments died on her lips. All she could think was…yum.
Runako was dressed in a pair of dark grey slacks and a white button-down shirt. The shirt was open, the tails dangling and the gap showed off his truly incredible pecs and six-pack abs. The shirt looked startlingly white against his dark skin. His short hair was tight to his head, revealing the perfect curve of his skull.
“How do you feel?” he asked, walking across the cave towards her. His stride was unhurried, more of a stalk than a walk.
“You kidnapped me.”
“You can’t do that.”
Runako raised one brow, James Bond style. “I just did.”
“Point taken.” Margo crossed her arms. “I thought you were trying to fit in with the humans? Humans don’t usually kidnap each other.”
“Luke, Michael and Henry want to fit in.”
“What do you want?”
“I want to be safe. I want my people to be safe.” Runako looked away, his fingers curling into fists. Margo’s heart lurched in sympathy. “I’ll deal with the humans. Whatever happens.”
Well that sounded ominous. Margo, who had felt mostly annoyed and not truly afraid, started to worry. Of all the Monsters she knew—a whopping total of four—Runako was the most dangerous.
“And kidnapping me means what?”
“You…you’re just for pleasure.” Runako rested his hip on the stone slab where she sat. He reached for her, and Margo slapped his hand away.
“I’m not some blow-up doll.” Her fear disappeared under a swell of righteous anger. “And you’re out of your fucking mind if you think I’m going to sleep with you.”
“Who said sleep?”
“I’m not going to have sex with you.”
“Why not? You want me. I can tell.” Runako looked directly at her, all of his attention focused on her. It was as if she were the most intriguing person in the world.
Margo looked away so she wouldn’t fall under the spell of his eyes. She looked down at her ankle and her ire flared. “You’re a…a…”
Margo narrowed her eyes at him. “No, you’re not a monster. Monsters are delightful, thoughtful creatures. You’re a jerk. A bully.”
“You are truly angry,” he said, leaning back in surprise.
“But you want me, I know it. I can feel it.” He reached for her again, and this time when she tried to knock his hand away he caught her wrist.
“I want lots of things, doesn’t mean I always get them,” Margo said.
“You should, you deserve the things you want.” He lifted her captive hand to his lips and kissed it.
Margo’s heart (traitor!) fluttered. “You…you. I. Um. Oh fuck it.”
Margo grabbed Runako’s head and kissed him. He was beautiful, and he wanted her. It was probably a sign of her poor mental health that Margo found this very screwy situation increasingly arousing. No one had ever wanted her enough to kidnap her before.
Runako, after a moment of surprise, joined her in the kiss. His hand slid into her hair, cradling the back of her head. Margo opened her lips, and his tongue slid into her mouth. Margo nipped him, and Runako answered with a growl she could feel as much as hear.
Margo pulled away. She kept her eyes closed, savoring the flavor of this kiss.
“You’re beautiful,” Runako said.
“Don’t say that. You’re going to make this much harder.”
Margo opened her eyes. “That was fun, and I’m really flattered, but this is ridiculous. You have to take me home.”
Runako pushed himself up, his face hard and smooth. “You don’t seem to understand.”
“I understand fine. Take me home.”
“What do you mean no? Cute trick, but come on. You can’t be serious.”
“I am. I want you here, and I will keep you here,” Runako said, completely calm.
“This is kidnapping, this is rape,” Margo stuttered out. She’d told him what to do and he’d refused. She was a little confused as to how to continue. Usually, when confronted by her, people caved and gave her what she wanted.
“You are willing. You kissed me.”
“So what? It was a fucking kiss!” Margo yelped, voice rising.
“You’re mine. I’m keeping you.”
“You can’t do that.” Margo shifted to her knees, throwing her arms up in the air as she protested. It was like arguing with a rock. “You can’t just take someone and, and keep them.”
Runako looked her up and down and said, “I just did.”
With that he turned and walked away, disappearing to the same place he’d come from.
Margo fumed. She pouted. She dug through her purse, which was draped across her chest, found a granola bar and ate it. Runako stayed away.
This was ridiculous. Completely ridiculous. She’d been minding her own business, on her way home from work, and Runako thought he could just drop in on her and kidnap her? The man had some learning to do before he’d fit in with humans.
Margo tried calling Jane for the hundredth time, but her cell phone still had no service. The battery was dying, so she turned it off and stuffed it in her purse.
The past few months had been surreal. She could clearly remember the day Lena had called them over to her apartment and told them that they were about to see something amazing. Lena had brought out Luke, who, along with his friends Michael and Henry, had shown up at Calypso Productions one day, looking for a movie deal. They—Margo and the other girls who owned Calypso—had dismissed them—assuming they were pretty-boys looking to make it in Hollywood—but Lena had gone to dinner with Luke.
Margo had known that Lena was taking Luke out solely because she thought he was hot. Luke was hot, no doubt about it, but Margo hadn’t worried. Calypso Productions was their baby. Lena, Jane, Cali, Akta and herself had started the production company a couple years after they graduated from Cinema School. They’d gone their separate ways after college, while remaining friends, and when they reached the appropriate levels in their respective fields they’d all quit their jobs and thrown everything they had into the company.
Because of that, Margo knew Lena wouldn’t be swayed by a pretty face and drag Calypso into a go-nowhere project. She’d been surprised when Lena called them over and said Luke had something to show them. But then Luke had turned from a hot Native American guy into an eight-foot-tall Monster with bat wings and horns.
Lena had explained what they needed—a movie so awesome it would catch the imagination of the world and change popular opinion about monsters. The Monsters could not stay in hiding much longer. The world was shrinking and Monster-human confrontations were growing more frequent. Luke and his friends hoped to avoid a war, by first revealing the truth about Monsters to the humans in the form of a movie. Once the movie was a worldwide success they would reveal that the movie was fact not fiction.
Runako had been the bad guy, though he had been quickly won over to their side.
She remembered the way she’d first seen Runako. He’d been battling with Luke, both of them in their Monster bodies. There’d been something savage in their battle, a kind of primal beauty, like lions ripping at each other. And when the fight was done the terrifying blue-winged monster turned into one of the hottest black guys Margo had ever seen.
This was ridiculous. Runako couldn’t just…kidnap her. She had work to do, work to do that would benefit him.
“Runako. Come here.”
Runako, wearing only slacks, appeared. In the flickering firelight Margo could just make out the dark band of tattoos around his right bicep. The tattoo was actually a manifestation of the spell that allowed him to flip back and forth between bodies.
“Are you ready?” he asked, voice like whiskey and velvet.
“I’m ready to go home.”
“I’m not returning you.”
“You have to.”
“Why?” Runako stalked forward again. “Why do I have to?”
“Because I said so. Because I asked you to.”
“You can go if you can get away,” he said with a savage smile.
“That’s…that’s barbaric.” The calm Margo had found during her wait disappeared. “This is felony kidnapping. You have to take me home.”
Runako leapt across the cave and planted his hands on either side of her. “Make. Me.”
Margo kissed him again. This was not going according to plan. The kiss was probably a mistake.
But what a mistake it was. Runako cupped the back of her head and savaged her mouth, sucking her lower lip into his mouth and biting it. Margo jerked back, gasping for air, and Runako kissed and nipped his way down her neck.
“Ahh, yes, now right behind my ear. Madre de Dios. Oh that’s good.”
“You talk,” he said, kissing his way across her jaw to take her lips. “I like it,” he murmured before taking her lips in a ravaging kiss.
Margo slid her hands along his chest and belly. He was cut. Physical male perfection. She jerked her lips from his and tilted her head back. Runako took the hint and paid attention to her neck. Margo shuddered in pleasure when he licked the spot below her ear.
“You are so hot,” she murmured, running her fingers over his muscled shoulders to his equally muscled back. His shoulders were wide and strong. She actually felt petite next to him.
“And you. I want to see you naked.”
Margo blinked. Reality came crashing back. “Oh no. I don’t think so.”
Runako groaned but let her push him away. “What now?”
“There is no way I am letting you see me naked. You’re like a Calvin Klein underwear model, but hotter, and I’m like…I’m like a partially deflated Big-O Tires balloon.”
Runako stared at her. “I did not understand any of that.”
“You are hot. I am fat.”
Runako looked at her, and Margo became instantly aware of the fact that the way she was sitting caused her belly to bulge unattractively. She tried to suck it in, but that made it worse.
“You have some fat, yes. But I find it attractive.”
Hurt, familiar but unwelcome, flooded Margo. “Gee, thanks. I’m delighted to know you’d be willing to bang me despite the fact that I’m a fatty.” She bent her head and blinked, hating that tears had filled her eyes. She was twenty-six years old, and had accepted the fact that she was never going to be a size eight, but that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt.
Runako stood. “You are not aroused.”
“Being called a fat ugly cow will do that to a girl.”
“I said none of those things. And fat cows are tasty.”
“Great, now I’ll just sit here and worry that you’re going to eat me. I bet you wouldn’t want to eat a skinny girl.”
“I believed that Luke and Michael were weak because they seemed unable to control their human women,” he said, hands on his hips as he considered her. “Perhaps women are more complicated than I believed.”
With a murmur of “I will return” Runako left.