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The Skull King (Skull 1) Penelope Sky 2022/8/5 16:50:57

“But if he’s dead, they’ll lose a husband and a father.”

He shrugged. “You lost your life. Sounds fair to me.”

Despite all the anger I felt toward Evan, I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t hurt his family, two innocent people who probably had no idea who I was. I believed in Karma, and Evan would get what he deserved for betraying me. Maybe I wouldn’t be around to witness it but knowing it would happen comforted me enough…for the most part. “No. It would make my sacrifice completely worthless anyway.”

“It’s already worthless,” he said coldly.

I finished my dinner and felt his arctic chill from across the table. He was a beautiful man, but he could be hostile when provoked. “Do you have a family?”

“You’re asking a lot of personal questions tonight.”

He grabbed the bottle of scotch and refilled his glass. “One brother.”

He shook his head. “They’ve been dead a long time.”

“Don’t be. They’re in a better place.”

I didn’t have any parents either. “My parents are gone too. In a car accident.”

When I supplied information he didn’t ask for, his hostility simmered. “I’m sorry.” It seemed like a sincere comment, one he really meant. “Were you young?”

“Just turned twenty.”

“I’m not sure which is worse. To lose your family when you’re too young to remember them, or to lose them when you’re old enough to know exactly how much it hurts that they aren’t around anymore.”

Either one was shitty.

“Do you have any other family?”

“My brothers.” They were assholes and sometimes so obnoxious I couldn’t stand them, but I loved them with my entire heart and soul. They were the ones who kept me grounded, who gave me a shoulder to cry on when life got too tough. But they were also responsible for making me the strong woman I was today, the kind of woman that never gave in to her fears in front of her enemies.

“Are they good guys?”

“The best,” I said, unflinching. “What about your brother?”

He shrugged. “He’s an annoying jackass, but he’s loyal. He’d take a bullet for me, and I would take one for him.”

“That’s the definition of family right there.” I grabbed my martini and finished it.

He held his glass between his fingers and examined me, the expression in his blue eyes impossible to dissect. Whenever we were screwing, he was easy to read, just like a book. But any other time, I felt we were like two enemies facing each other across the table. He didn’t want to share his secrets with me, especially when I wouldn’t share mine with him.

“It’s almost eight… I should get going.” I cleared the dishes and washed them in the sink before I went into the bedroom and changed back into the dress I’d arrived in. My heels returned to my feet, and I left his t-shirt on the bed. After I fixed my hair and reapplied my lipstick, I walked back into the living room.

He pulled on a pair of sweats and a t-shirt so he could walk me out. He didn’t try to convince me to stay. Maybe he knew it was best for this to end, especially now that I was asking questions. At first, it was easy just to screw then say goodbye, but now that I’d fallen deeper into those blue eyes, I wanted to know more about him—all the good and the bad.

I stopped in front of the elevator, prepared to have the discussion that would end this for good. I would miss this man, especially the way he felt deep between my legs. Going back to only my hand would be a rough adjustment.

He hit the button. “I’ll walk you out.”

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“I thought you were a cruel man. Cruel men don’t walk women to the car.”

The doors opened, and he stepped inside. “But I don’t fuck a woman in the ass and let her cross the parking lot on her own—while twenty men hold rifles.” The doors shut, and we descended to the bottom floor.

“So, you walk all of your lady friends out?”

We hit the bottom, and the doors opened. He walked me to my car, his sweatpants fitting his physique in the sexiest way. He stopped at my car and watched me pull my keys from the clutch. It wasn’t as dark as it usually was when I left his place since it was still fairly early in the evening. “We both know this has to stop. So, it stops now.”

With his hands resting in his pockets, he stared at me like he hadn’t heard a word I said. He seemed bored, like my words meant nothing to him.

I kept staring at him, unsure if he heard me or not.

He stepped closer to me and kissed the corner of my mouth. “Whatever you say, baby.”

“I’m serious. He called me today and asked what I was doing.”