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The Skull Crusher (Skull 2) Penelope Sky 2022/8/5 16:51:56

“Because they want to live,” I said simply. “And protection. I keep the peace among the different factions, make sure no one is infringing on anyone else’s territory. If someone is causing too many problems, I remove them.”

“Does that mean Lucian pays you a tax?”

“No. Not everyone is under my reign. I have enemies like everyone else. They have their own alliance.”

Cassini nodded slightly. “That’s why you work all the time.”

“And why you don’t have a girlfriend.”

“No. I don’t have a girlfriend because having a girlfriend is pussy shit. I’m either fucking someone, or I’m not.”

“So you’re fucking me?”

“But you said I was your woman.”

“Yes. You’re the woman I’m fucking. It’s that simple.” She would never mean anything to me, just as no woman ever meant anything to me.

“That sounds like a really bleak existence. All you do is work, and you don’t have any real relationships. You don’t love anyone, no one loves you. What’s the point in risking your neck every night? You’re already rich, so does more money really make a difference?”

“It’s not just about the money.”

“Then what’s it about?”

“Power.” I had the ability to do anything I wanted, to execute anyone without a single objection. I controlled this city, and that gave me purpose. Maybe I didn’t have anything meaningful in my life, but I had that.

Cassini didn’t seem impressed. “My happiest memories are the nights when my family would be gathered around the table, and we’d be drinking wine and eating bread. Mother would cook one of her delicious meals, and Father would drink way too much and tell stories he’d told a million times. It didn’t matter how much money we had. Power was never relevant. Just being together made us the richest people in the world.”

My parents died a long time ago, and the only family I had left was my obnoxious brother. We didn’t have a happy childhood. We didn’t have much of a childhood at all. “Not everyone can have a picture-perfect family.”

“We weren’t picture-perfect. That’s the point.”

The annoyance was beginning to get to me. She judged my lifestyle when she was dumb enough to open her legs for a man who didn’t deserve her. “You aren’t better than me, so stop acting like you are.”

“I never said I was.”

“You’re acting like it. Turning up your nose at me like you’ve got it all figured out.”

“Again, never said that. I’m just trying to understand you.”

“I’m pretty simple—not much to understand.”

“Yes…I’ve noticed.” She turned quiet, detecting my rage. “When did you become the Skull King?”

“And how did that work? Did the man before you die?”

“No. He made a lot of bad decisions. The guys told him to step down, and he refused. So they elected me to defeat him by combat.”

She raised an eyebrow. “What?”

“To replace an existing king, you must defeat him in battle. No weapons. Just fists.”

“And you fight until someone gives up?” she asked incredulously.

“No. You fight to the death.”

Her face immediately paled.

“Two kings can’t live at the same time, not when the first refuses to step down. Causes too many problems.”

“So, you killed him?” She was still in shock about the whole thing.

“Yes. I crushed his skull with my bare hands.”

Now she didn’t blink at all, as if she finally understood just how dangerous I was. “So, someone could challenge you?”

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“Theoretically. But they won’t.”

“Because I’m the best king we’ve ever had. My focus is on peace, not rivalry. I don’t risk my men needlessly. I’ve also brought in more profits than the kings before me. Any time we’re at war, I’m on the front lines. I don’t hide in the back like previous leaders. I get my hands dirty. I expose myself to the flying bullets just like my soldiers. I don’t send my men into battle unless I’m standing beside them.”

She seemed overwhelmed, like she didn’t understand the true extent of my profession. She looked down at the table, her eyes showing that her thoughts were a million miles away. Maybe understanding who I truly was would give her an incentive to behave.

But knowing her, she would disobey me anyway.

“So when are we going to do this?” Heath asked.

We sat at the table with the two men I trusted most. Brutus was on my left, and Thomas was beside him. Brutus told me exactly where Hunter Reyes was doing business that week, so catching him off guard would be simple.

“We roll in with everything we got,” Brutus said. “That should scare him shitless.”

“I say we kill a few of his men just to send a message,” Thomas said. “Preferably his kids.”

“We aren’t killing anyone until we know for certain.” I sat in the high-backed chair with the skulls carved into the wood and my hand resting over the top of my glass. “We arrive and take a look at the scene. Depending on what we find, I’ll make the decision then.”