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The Skull King (Skull 1) Penelope Sky 2022/8/5 16:51:00

I didn’t know what to say so I didn’t say anything at all.

We returned to the compound—and that was when Lucian lost his shit.

He executed a few of his men.

I stayed in the car and refused to look. I’d made the mistake before, looking into the eyes of a dead man. It was so haunting that I couldn’t look away, and now that memory followed me forever.

The sound of the gunshots was the worst.

“Balto has snuck up on me six times now.” Lucian paced around the driveway, looking pathetically short compared to the men he employed. “If he does it again, I’ll kill all of you—and your families.”

We entered the house, and Maria steered clear of pleasantries because she’d already heard the news. She took his jacket in silence then pulled out the first aid kit to dress his burn, putting a glass of scotch on the entryway table for him.

Lucian yanked his hand away. “No.” He snatched the drink then walked into his bedroom. The door shut with an audible thud because he’d probably kicked it closed.

I stared down the hallway before I turned back to Maria.

She looked at me with pity. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Salazar. You’re the most beautiful woman in the world, but you’re also the saddest.” She patted my arm before she carried the first aid kit back to the cupboard.

At least I didn’t have to deal with Lucian for the rest of the night. If things had gone this way, he would have pinned me down on my stomach and fucked me. But since my stomach was still in serious pain, that would have been worse than usual.

I walked to my bedroom and undressed.

When I saw my body in the mirror, I cringed at the sight. My stomach had already darkened from the bruises. My fingers felt the skin, and just the simple touch made my body recoil in pain. I let my expensive gown fall to the floor, and I grabbed a t-shirt from my drawer.

Once I lay in bed, I pulled out the phone Balto gave me.

I wanted to call him. I had so many questions that needed to be answered. Now I knew this man was as powerful as he claimed. He wasn’t afraid to provoke Lucian anywhere, and he wasn’t afraid to drive a cigar right into his skin. He killed two men without making a sound and groped me in the dark.

It rang twice before he answered. “Baby.”

When he left, he’d referred to me by my married name, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. It was a name I never wore with pride. It was a name I’d been trying to shrug off since it was shackled to my shoulders. “How long have you known?” He knew exactly who my husband was, but he never told me. He must have dug into me at some point.

“I found out the moment I saw you.” There was no noise in the background, so it seemed like he was at his building. Maybe he was in bed the way I was. Maybe killing those men would put him fast to sleep tonight. “Lucian Salazar…I thought you said your husband was powerful?”

“You know he is.” The man was the biggest terrorist in this hemisphere. He was the best chemical engineer, making explosives that were untraceable. He could get any job done if you paid him enough. It was unfortunate a brilliant man used his intelligence for evil rather than good.

“He’s got his merits, but he’s still a boy in a man’s game.” His deep voice was just as sexy even after all the drama. He was calm, borderline bored. “He’s definitely not powerful enough to handle a woman like you.”

He’d handled me well when he slugged me twice in the stomach. I didn’t mention it to Balto because I suspected it would make him livid. “What does he owe you?”

“Lucian and I go way back,” he said with a sigh. “I don’t want to bore you.”

The smile was in his voice. “So bossy…I like it. A few years ago, we made a deal. He would give me one of his top-of-the-line explosives, and in exchange, I would give him one of my skull diamonds.”

I immediately thought of the necklace Lucian wore. It was a flawless diamond—and so unique.

“His reputation suggested he was an honorable man, but I never trust anyone. So I came prepared. We had the deal go down at his place…and he crossed me. He took the diamond without providing the explosives. In retaliation, I executed his only brother right in front of him. I shot him in the back of the head and let his blood fill the driveway. Then I drove off.”

I turned silent, knowing Lucian had been disturbed over his brother’s death since I met him. He was worked up every year on the anniversary of his death. His brother had been the only family he had left. But he’d never told me how he died.