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

He didn’t touch it with his fingertips. His eyes moved back to his paper. “I rarely wear it.”

I wanted to know more about it, but I didn’t want my interest to be too obvious. “It’s an unusual shape…a skull. What does it mean?” Balto had the same diamond in a ring, wearing it constantly and never removing it while we were together. It was an unusual piece of jewelry for a man like him, so it obviously meant something significant. Did that mean these two men had something in common?

He folded the newspaper. “Rumor has it that Sir Francis Drake took three of these diamonds from an indigenous tribe along a small chain of islands to the south of India. They are flawless, rare, and worth more money than all of the European countries combined—and one of them belongs to me.”

“And the other two?” Did Balto have one?

He picked up his newspaper again. “No idea.”

Maybe it was just a coincidence, but I found it odd that two powerful men had the same diamond. I didn’t ask any more questions because I was already too interested. Lucian clearly didn’t want to talk about it.

“They’re premiering Romeo and Juliet at the opera this Saturday night. I have a balcony reserved for us. I’ll be meeting with colleagues afterward for dinner. I want you to pick up a gown this week, something with a high slit and a plunging neckline.”

I cocked an eyebrow because I couldn’t believe he bossed me around like that. Now he was telling me how to dress? “I’ll look for something I like.”

“It’s supposed to be a good show. I think you’ll like it.”

I didn’t want to spend my Saturday night with him, and I’d never been to the opera before, so I didn’t know why he assumed I would enjoy it. Maybe I could kill him and take the diamond necklace. It would be worth enough money to pay for a small army for my protection. It wasn’t the worst plan I’d ever had.

He opened his newspaper again and took a drink of his coffee.

I looked out the window and watched the sunlight reflect off the pool. The only plans I had for the afternoon were soaking in the sun while reading. At midday, I would touch myself then take a nap. Those were the only activities I looked forward to anymore. Sometimes I considered gaining a bunch of weight on purpose so he wouldn’t want me anymore.

“Aren’t you excited?” He looked over his paper at me.

He expected me to be grateful. “I’ve never been to the opera.”

“I’m sure you’ll like it. Most women do.”

Was going to the opera feminine? It was such a sexist comment.

“You seem unhappy this morning.”

Because I’m looking at your ugly face. “I don’t feel comfortable sitting in on your meetings.” Lucian purposely wanted his colleagues and opponents to stare at me. It was a disgusting power play, to show everyone what kind of woman he could land, whether I was forced or not. I was just eye candy, a trophy. He used me as bait.

“I would never let anything happen to you.”

That didn’t mean it didn’t make me uncomfortable. I could hardly tolerate him, let alone the criminals and terrorists who tried to kiss his ass to get what they wanted. “It’s still not the way I’d like to spend my evening.”

“Well, that’s too bad.” He looked at his newspaper again. “You will be on my arm, you will kiss my neck, and you will show those fools I’m the only man who can have you. You’re part of my image—and you will do your job.”

It’d been almost a week.

No contact from Cassini.

Maybe she’d meant what she said, that we couldn’t keep fucking around anymore. Maybe she really had the strength to quit me cold turkey and deal with being suffocated by her worthless husband.

It seemed that way—but I still didn’t believe it.

I walked up to the bar at the Underground and ordered a scotch on the rocks. Denise was the waitress behind the counter, a woman who only wore a thong and apron while she served the clients. Her topless frame was her best feature, but now that I was obsessed with another pair of tits, I wasn’t as impressed as I used to be.

“You look tired.” She pushed the full glass toward me.

“Do I?” I asked. “Hmm…must be because I am tired.” I took a long drink then knocked my knuckles on the counter, telling her to top up my glass before I walked away.

She smiled then refilled it. “Is that your brother over there?” She nodded to Heath in the corner, who was dressed in all black and looked so similar to me that I’d had to change my clothes. The one noticeable thing that separated us was the ring on my hand, a ring so valuable and powerful that people recognized it when I walked into a room. Everyone else would be too afraid to wear something so priceless everywhere they went—but I wasn’t scared of anything. They could try to take my ring—and see what happened.