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The Skull Ruler (Skull 3) Penelope Sky 2022/8/5 16:54:48

“You’ve been at work every night this week.”

“Got a lot of shit to do.”

“Cassini must be disappointed.”

“Don’t care if she is.” Watching that beautiful woman beg me to stay every night was a fantasy come true. She used her best resource to seduce me, the one of her features I couldn’t resist—her cunt. But it made me want to leave more often because I loved her performance. She was even better in bed than usual because she worked so hard to keep me by her side.

He chuckled before he drank from his glass. “You really are heartless. If I had a woman like that waiting for me—”

“But you don’t.” I stared straight ahead and ignored him.

“Do you ever get tired of being an asshole?” he asked playfully.

“Being an asshole?” I questioned. “I’m not being anything. I am an asshole.” My phone started to ring in my pocket, so I pulled it out.

Lucian’s name was on the screen.

Heath glanced at it then met my look. “Should be an interesting phone call.”

I set my drink down then walked into the other room, away from the booming voices of the drunk men. I let it ring a few more times before I answered. “Is this the phone call where we talk a bunch of shit to each other before we actually do something? Because I’m not much of a talker. I’m a doer.”

Lucian didn’t respond right away, taking a long pause like he was enjoying the conversation. “It is one of those phone calls. I’ll be making the threats—and you’ll be doing something.”

“Alright, this should be interesting.” There was nothing Lucian could do to make me panic. Cassini was home safe and sound, so he had no leverage over me.

“Case is in my custody. Unless you hand over Cassini, I’ll strap him with explosives and hit the detonator. Just as you took my brother’s body from the grave, I’ll destroy Case so there’s nothing to bury.”

“This would be a great plan—except I don’t care about Case. The guy means nothing to me, and he certainly doesn’t mean more than Cassini. Come on, Lucian. You’re better than this.”

“Maybe he means nothing to you, but he means everything to Cassini.”

“All I have to do is not tell her. Problem solved.”

He paused. “Dirk knows what happened. So if you don’t tell her, he will. I already know what your answer will be, but I’ll give you twenty-four hours to decide.”

“I’m not giving her up. You’re wasting your time.”

“Maybe you won’t. But she will.”

It was a winter night, and the city was quiet. Everyone was staying warm in their homes, so the streets were vacant. I leaned against the truck in the compound while my brother faced me. My light jacket wasn’t warm enough to save anyone from the cold, but my high internal temperature made me invulnerable to the chill.

Heath stared at me, in just a t-shirt. “What are you going to do?”

Vapor escaped from my nostrils with every breath. “I don’t know.”

“You have to tell her.”

“I know.” But I also knew she would want to take his place. She would rather die than let something happen to her brother. I would have to force her to let him die—and she would never forgive me for it.

The darkness was starting to fade away because the sunrise breached the horizon. Heath had his hands in his pockets to keep them warm from the cold. “We could try to hit Lucian as soon as possible.”

“There’s not enough time. I have no idea where he is. And more than likely, Case is in a different location with the explosives already strapped to his body. If we really want to save Case, we would have to hand over Cassini—and that’s not going to happen.”

“Cassini isn’t going to accept that.”

“That’s too damn bad.”

He shook his head slightly. “If he dies, you lose her anyway.”

I knew how he meant those words, that Cassini would never look at me the same. She wouldn’t want me anymore. She wouldn’t allow me to touch her again, let alone look at her. “I guess I underestimated him.”

We headed into the building and rode up on the elevator. Heath got off on his floor, and I got off on mine. Cassini wasn’t on the couch, which meant she’d slept in the bedroom all night. She was obviously getting better at accepting my absence overnight.

I made dinner in the kitchen then entered the bedroom. I kicked off my shoes, stripped off my jacket, and dropped my clothes as I got ready for bed.

Cassini must have heard the sound of my movements, because she sat up in bed and looked at me, her eyes heavy and lidded like she’d been sleeping soundly all night long. “Good, you’re home.”

I sat on the edge of the bed and looked at her, dreading the conversation we were about to have.