Page 75

The Skull Crusher (Skull 2) Penelope Sky 2022/8/5 16:52:08

“Because of the nightmares?” I teased. “That tends to happen after you see a skull get crushed like that. Sorry about your men, by the way. But you know how business goes…” I’m sure those men had families, people they left behind. And Lucian’s paychecks probably never made the job worth it.

Lucian didn’t respond to the taunts. “You have what I want. I have what you want. You wanna do this or not?”

“You’re a terrible negotiator, you know that?” I slid my hand into the pocket of my jeans.

“I can’t be that bad. I got your skull diamond, didn’t I?”

The hair on my arms stood on end. “And I took your brother’s life. Would you say that’s a fair trade?”

Lucian turned silent.

“Not to mention, I’ve been fucking your wife around the clock—and she likes it.”

He stayed quiet, but his rage was palpable over the phone.

Lucian was my most obnoxious enemy because he was untouchable. I had to keep him alive in order to find the diamond he took from me. If I barged into his compound and executed him, the diamond would be lost forever. It was the greatest life insurance policy he ever could have bought.

“Cassini for the diamond. We have a deal?”

“No. You know what else I want.”

“And what would that be, exactly?”

“Play dumb with me all you want. I want your explosives.”

“They’re very expensive to make—”

“You want your wife or not?” I hated calling her that because it didn’t feel right. Even when she still lived with him and snuck off to my place, she never really felt like his wife. Just his prisoner.

“I’m willing to give you a specific number. But I’m not willing to commission the product indefinitely. Cassini isn’t worth that much.”

But she was worth a billion-euro diamond? “I want a hundred bombs.”

“You’re being greedy.”

“You were greedy when you took that diamond without upholding your end of the bargain. This deal isn’t just about the present. It’s about the past. Give me a hundred bombs, or we don’t have a deal.”

Lucian sighed into the phone. “Fine. The skull diamond and a hundred bombs in exchange for Cassini.”

I bartered until I got what I wanted, and now that it had happened, I didn’t know what to do. I’d just agreed to hand over Cassini and never see her again. I should feel good about the deal, but instead, I felt my heart contract painfully. Was it guilt? Was it pain? I didn’t know. “Why do you want her back so much?”

“I’m curious.” I stared across the city, seeing the lights illuminate this beautiful town. Lucian lived just on the outskirts, not more than thirty minutes away. Would I be able to look out this window again and not think of her? Would I be able to sleep in that bed and not feel guilty for what I did?

“She and I made a deal. She broke that deal, and now she’ll pay for it.”

“Like you’ve never had an affair.”

“That’s different. I own her—she doesn’t own me.”

“You’re willing to give up so much just so you can hurt the girl?” I asked incredulously, finding that disgusting.

“Money is just money. I have plenty of it. But this is my wife. She humiliated me in front of the entire world. I will punish her accordingly. And then I’ll pin her to the concrete next to the pool, and I’ll stomp on her skull until it cracks.”

I stared at his backside as I heard Lucian’s voice in the silence.

I’ll stomp on her skull until it cracks…

I covered my mouth to hide the gasp that wanted to emerge from my lips. My eyes watered with tears I refused to shed. I pictured myself on the terrace with the enormous pool, the place where I used to relax while he was at work. Now it would be the place where I would die, his boot slamming into my head until it finally gave in to the pressure and cracked.

Balto hung up the phone.

I tiptoed back into my bedroom and got under the covers just in case he checked on me. It was impossible to keep my breathing calm and pretend to be asleep, so hopefully he would just ignore me and go to bed.

When I heard his heavy footfall enter his bedroom, I knew I’d been spared.

Now I could lie in bed and absorb the conversation I’d just heard. After Balto and I became close, I assumed he wouldn’t give me up to Lucian, but now I realized how wrong I’d been.

I never meant anything to him.

I’d always been a prisoner, even during the nights when I felt like something more.

He didn’t say when he was going to make the trade, but I knew it would happen in the next few days.

Should I kill him in his sleep?