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

Heath was new to the position, but he caught on quickly. He was a smart man despite his dumb decisions, and the men didn’t have a problem with him. “If he’s really skimming that much cash, we gotta prove it. Because we can’t let him get away with that shit.”

One of my men walked inside. “Balto, I’ve got two men here to see you.”

“I’m in a meeting. I’ll speak with them afterward.”

“They said it was urgent.”

I lifted my gaze again to look at him. “Is that supposed to mean something to me? Who the hell are these guys?”

“Case and Dirk Cardello.”

Cassini’s brothers had arrived at my lair—to talk about Cassini, no doubt. I was surprised they came all the way down here on my territory. They were surrounded by my army, and if they stepped out of line for even a second, they were dead. They really were brave. “Send them in.” I turned to Brutus. “Make all the arrangements. We’ll hit them tomorrow night.”

“Alright.” Brutus and the guys left.

Heath lingered behind for a second. “If they think you’re gonna change your mind, they’re idiots.”

I would never give up Cassini, no matter what kind of sob story they could tell. “Get out.”

Heath flipped me off before he walked out.

A moment later, Case and Dirk entered. The door shut behind them, and two men guarded the door, both armed and ready to kill them if they made a move against me. Case wore a black leather jacket, and Dirk wore a long-sleeved olive shirt. They possessed the classic Italian features that Cassini also had. If all three of them appeared on a Christmas card, they would look like a beautiful family.

The topless bartender appeared and gave the guys two glasses of scotch. She replaced my drink even though I was only halfway finished. Then she disappeared and gave us our privacy.

Case didn’t touch his drink. His green eyes were full of irritation—all of which was directed at me.

Dirk was just as cold.

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“You’re wasting your time, boys.” I shook the ice cubes before I took a drink. “I understand your grievance, but there’s no way around it. Your sister is mine, and there’s nothing you can do to get me to release her. I suggest you let it go.” She might not have her freedom, but she was well taken care of.

“We have something to offer you.” Case held on to his glass but didn’t take a drink. “We negotiated fifteen percent of our business. Give up Cassini, and we’ll give you fifty percent. You know what kind of numbers we’re pulling. You know how much that leaves on the table. It’s a generous offer.”

It was a very generous offer, but Cassini was priceless. “No.”

“Even if I agreed, you have no way to keep her safe from Lucian. He’d figure it out quickly enough, and you’d be powerless against him. Honestly, the safest place for her is right beside me.”

“We’d figure something out,” Case said. “We could sell the business and leave if it became necessary.”

“That wouldn’t work because I wouldn’t be getting my cut.”

Case shrugged. “We would find a way. We aren’t going to give up on our sister.”

Even though it was pointless, I admired his determination. “I rejected your offer, so you can leave.” I’d taken Cassini from behind before I left, fucking her good and hard on my bed before I gave her a load to last her through the night.

“How about this?” Case asked. “Give her up…and we’ll give you a hundred percent of the business.”

That caught my attention because it was so desperate. “You’d be working for free.”

“We’re there for the pasta anyway. We would just keep whatever we needed to break even. The rest of it is yours. We’re talking twenty million euro a month—for doing nothing.” Case leaned forward and stared at me with enthusiasm, hoping that would tempt me into folding.

A small part of me felt guilty for keeping Cassini when her brothers wanted her freedom so much. It was obvious how much they loved her if they were willing to sacrifice everything for her. Those family dinners she mentioned must have been as wonderful as she remembered. It was a little heartbreaking to hear these men sacrifice everything for her. I had no one who would do anything like that for me. Heath was my brother, but I doubted he would walk away from that much money to save me. It was a huge sacrifice.

Case kept watching me. “We got a deal?”

It was tempting, but not tempting enough. “No.”

Case slammed his fist onto the table. “Then what the hell do you want, Balto? Name it, and we’ll give it to you.”

Truth be told, there was nothing anyone could offer me that would tempt me. Cassini had captured my obsession from the moment I’d laid eyes on her. Without her in my bed, my sheets would be ice cold. Sex would be routine and stale. She set my world on fire and kept me warm. “There’s nothing I want more than her.”