In Vatic, Draven, Veronica, Shani, and Lucius were sitting around a table in Draven’s hideout and base. Draven was subtly watching Shani, who was seated between Lucius and Veronica, in an attempt to keep the two away from each other.
“So, this is the plan, then?” Veronica asked, staring down at the large paper on the table. There was a crude, blueprint-like sketch of a building on the paper with various points circled and dotted throughout the plan.
Lucius nodded slowly in thought as his eyes moved from place to place on the rough map.
Shani sighed a bit, “I don’t like it.”
“Why?” Draven asked.
“Lou is all alone after walking into their base.”
Veronica chuckled lightly, “Don’t think your boss can handle it?”
Shani sighed, her gaze narrowing, though not turning towards Veronica, “That’s not it. How do we know you’re not just setting him up for a trap.”
“Enough,” Lucius ordered.
The others all looked to him as he stood up, “I like the plan. It’s better that others aren’t around when I meet Veronica’s brother.”
Those words struck Shani with a tinge of concern. She stared up to Lucius with scrunched brows, “Lucius… are you using the Heart?”
Lucius nodded lightly, “It’s my favorite. Why wouldn’t I?” He asked.
Shani sighed, looking back to the map of their plan, “I didn’t even notice you grabbed it when we left…” She trailed off, disapprovingly.
Draven stared at Shani for a moment, his thumb’s nail between his teeth, “Hm,” he let out and then looked up to Lucius, “I haven’t seen you use that in a long time.”
“What’s the Heart?” Veronica asked.
“His favorite.” Shani and Draven responded in unison.
“Draven, ready your men. We move at nightfall.” Lucius ordered.
Draven sighed out a response, “Your men, Lucius, not mine.”
Lucius and Shani both looked to Draven; Shani’s face was filled with a mixture of annoyance and concern, Lucius’ expression was as stoic as ever, though subtly questioning.
Draven looked between the two, then stood up, rubbing the back of his head, “Listen, I gotta resign after this mission. Probably not the best time to do it, but I just need it out in the open.”
Lucius looked down to Shani, who refused to make eye contact with her boss. He sighed a slight growl of disappointment and waved his hand in the air, “You’re right. Shitty timing.” He muttered before walking out of the room.
Veronica looked between Draven and Shani. Shani was glaring at Draven and Draven was staring down at the table. After a few moments of silence, Veronica finally got up with a loud, “Well~! I’m going to step out, then!” She awkwardly walked out of the room and closed the door behind her. The moment the door shut, yelling ensued behind it.
Veronica looked up to see Lucius making his way out of the hideout. She hurriedly made her way to him, catching the door before it closed, “Where are you going, Nox?”
The tall man peered back at Veronica over his shoulder with a lifted brow, “Just stepping out for a cigarette, want one?” He asked, offering her one of his brown cigarettes.
Veronica stared curiously at the little stick of tobacco as she took it from him, “Sharbain’s deserts aren’t particularly known for their tobacco. Where is this imported from?” She asked.
Lucius lit his cigarette, taking a long drag from it before handing her his box of matches. As he spoke, the smoke left his mouth and nose, “Desu Island.”
The woman nodded slowly, lighting the cigarette carefully, taking a much shorter drag from it, “Mmm, it tastes good… northern imports are always the best.” She commented, savoring the mixed flavors of tobacco and other spices, “I must admit, however. I sort of assumed you were a cigar man, not cigarette.”
Lucius looked out into the slowly darkening skies of Vatic and nodded slowly, “I enjoy both. Don’t generally carry the cigars on me. They stay at the office or at home.”
Veronica grinned a bit, eyeing Lucius quietly, “Hmmm, when will you invite me to your home, Mister Nox?”
He only smirked slightly, a naturally dark look of amusement for him, “Are you always like this, Veronica? I can’t imagine your father would appreciate learning that his daughter behaves like this.”
Veronica chuckled lightly, rolling her eyes. She took a longer drag of the cigarette and let the smoke out with a sigh, “Father is too busy with his favorites. He probably doesn’t care what I do.” She admitted with a noticeable tone of disdain.
Lucius nodded as he finished another pull of his own. He let the smoke out of his lungs before reaching out and delivering a merciless swat to Veronica’s behind, “Well, maybe you need a new daddy figure to discipline you, then.” He commented, squeezing her rear a bit before letting her go.
The woman jumped and yelped from the surprise punishment. She rubbed at her butt lightly with a pout, “Stop teasing me, Mister Nox…” She complained, “But I suppose being around you doesn’t help. I’ve met attractive men before, but you’re different. I feel truly drawn to you, as if putting myself in your hands is something I need to do.”
Shani’s voice was suddenly heard by the two, “That’s the corruption.”
Veronica lifted a platinum brow, locking her gaze on Shani as she watched the dark-skinned woman step out of the hideout, “Corruption?”
Shani nodded slightly as she walked over to stand in front of Lucius, locking her hazel eyes with his amethyst gems, “Uh-huh. Lou-punk has something around him all the time. It’s raw, pure corruption.
“Being around him brings the worst out of everyone. The darkest and most animalistic emotions and desires.” Shani took hold of Lucius’ hand. She brought it to her neck, almost making him choke her. Her eyes screamed out clearly to Lucius, as if she was begging him to make the bad feelings stop, “Lucius Tyrus Nox is an addictive, dark monster of corruption who will destroy everything in his way to get what he wants, and will not hesitate to devour you whole if you’re what he truly wants. He’ll also never hesitate to toss you aside the moment you’re no longer useful to him. But, the moment he accepts you as one of his own, it’s ecstasy.”
Veronica watched the two quietly, her stance shifting slightly as she listened to Shani’s words. She could see clearly how much they meant to each other. It was beautiful to see, but it also made her crave the same connection, “I see…”
Lucius stared down at Shani, his large hand firmly gripping her neck. He could practically feel her cry for help. He took a long drag of his cigarette before flicking it away, “Go home.” He ordered.
Shani closed her eyes suddenly, fighting away tears of frustration, sadness, and anger, “Yes sir.” She obeyed.
Lucius released his grip on Shani’s throat and turned away, avoiding eye contact with anyone else as she made her way towards the wall that divided Sanctum and Vatic. Lucius looked to Veronica and held his hand out silently.
The woman hadn’t spent much time with this man but somehow seemed to understand his silent communication. She took one more drag from her cigarette, then handed the rest to Lucius.
The man took a long drag of the tobacco stick, making it useless pretty quickly. He let the smoke out with a deep sigh. As if his breath brought a chill with it, the air around the two became bitter and cold. His words were just as frigid and wicked, “Draven,” he practically growled out, “Don’t be here when I get back.”
“Aye.” Draven was inside the hideout, leaning against the wall next to the door. After his affirmation, he pushed himself off the surface and went to collect his things.
Veronica wanted to look at Lucius, but it was as if survival instinct itself was preventing her from it. Maybe it was the same instinct that made her heart skip the moment she realized his cold glare was on her, “Yes, Mister Nox?” She questioned suddenly.
“Your brother better keep me entertained, or I’ll have to take this frustration out on you.” He threatened before walking past her, back into the hideout.
The moment Lucius was inside, and the door closed, the weakness of Veronica’s knees reached its limit. She collapsed onto the sandy ground below her, head hanging forward. Her breath finally returned, shoulders and chest heaving in deep shudders, “Fuck…” She let out in a raspy breath of realization. She finally understood what kind of man she was getting herself involved with. Anyone would think that she was absolutely terrified if it wasn’t for the twisted, immoral grin on her face and the warm excitement in her core that kept her hands clenched between her legs.