Lucius (Acquisition Series #4) - Celia Aaron Page 0,1

on your own. That addled brain of yours isn’t capable of any sort of real plan.”

He stares up at me, malevolence in his battered eyes.

I’ve never been a patient man, and Leonard isn’t doing a thing to change that. I want to twist his neck and hear it break, but I need to wait. And he’s right—someone is out there watching me, but I have a gut feeling they aren’t interested in this particular shitbag. Otherwise, the ghost would’ve materialized by now. No, the patient specter doesn’t care for Leonard, likely doesn’t even know he’s here.

I try a new tack, one that’s never worked for me before. “Give me names, and I’ll let you off with a warning. I’m a reasonable man.”

“I know what kind of man you are, Lucius.” He spits a bloody wad of snot onto the wet floor, sending ripples through the swamp water.

That’s too bad, because if he’s telling the truth—if he has any real inkling of what I’m capable of—he knows he’s never leaving this basement alive, no matter what. I guess the “good cop” routine is never going to work for me. I sigh and walk to the cinderblocks across from him where a gray panel is set into the wall.

“What’s that?” An edge of worry creeps into his words.

“Power control.”

“For what?”

I open the small gray breaker panel. “Sump pump.” Glancing at him over my shoulder, I flip the switch. A low, almost inaudible hum dies off, leaving us both in total silence.

His gaze lowers to the concrete floor, the cracks already wet with the boggy water that’s impossible to keep out even during a drought. The bayou is never far away, not even here on my thickly-treed property. In a few hours, the water will cover the entire floor by at least an inch.

I press my boot to the seat of his chair and kick. He falls backward with a clang, and his scream is just as high and sharp as usual. I suppose the barbed wire digging into him plus having his hands crushed beneath him is more than a little uncomfortable.

I shrug and stare down at him as his cries die off. “It’s funny. When I had this house built, my architect told me there was no way I could have a basement in this part of Louisiana. Too much water in the ground. He said the water table is so close to the surface that this space would fill in no time, especially if there isn’t a heavy-duty pump to keep it dry.” I grin and tap my foot into the puddle beside me. “But here we are in my very own basement, so joke’s on him, am I right?”

His ruined eyes widen, understanding finally hitting him in his gut. “Lucius, you can’t leave me here like this. The water—”

“I’ll be back in the morning.” I head to the stairs, not even bothering to look at him. “I expect you to talk if you haven’t drowned by then. And if you have—” I shrug. “Keep hell warm for me.”



Lucius stalks around his home like some sort of aggressive beast, never staying in any one room too long. I watch him stride through the living room, his phone at his ear, anger telegraphing through each of his steps. Out here in this solitary stretch of land, he doesn’t even bother hanging curtains or blinds. The steel and glass monstrosity of his ultra-modern home jut and shine, and he prowls through the entirety of it like a tiger in a zoo enclosure … If the zoo invested in bullet-proof glass, anyway.

I lean against a moss-strewn oak and resist the urge to unzip my jacket and let the humid air circulate through. Darkness is my friend, and the lighter shirt beneath my black jacket wouldn’t be a prudent look. Even though his house is lit, and he’s not looking my way, I have the creeping sensation that he knows I’m out here. That’s ridiculous, of course. I’ve covered my tracks again and again. No one knows where I am. Besides, there’s no one left who would care.

He ends his call, then turns toward me, his gaze on the patch of woods where I watch and wait. He’s too far away for me to see what he’s looking at precisely, but it’s a hard enough stare that I shrink behind the tree a little more. He watches for agonizing seconds, each moment lasting longer and longer as I foolishly hold my breath. He can’t