Page 22

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

She leaned toward me and kissed me on the mouth. “How was your night?”

I hardly kissed her back, and I didn’t answer her question. I stared into her beautiful eyes, seeing the happiness at my presence. Soon those emeralds would lose their innate light, and she would glare at me in hatred.

When I didn’t respond, her eyes fell with suspicion, a cloud of unease settling in her gaze. “What is it?” This woman knew me so well that she could read the different variations of my stoic expression.

I never hesitated to give bad news. There was nothing that could happen that would ever give me pause. I didn’t care about anything, so I had nothing to lose. But knowing how much this would hurt her made me hesitate. I saw the love that existed between her and her brother, the familial bond that was so powerful it could be seen with the naked eye.

“Balto, you’re scaring me.”

I’d never wanted not to hurt someone so much in my life. I wanted to protect her from this horrible truth. I wanted to kill Lucian and spare Case just to make this woman happy. “Lucian called.”

“Okay…” She scooted closer to me, holding her breath in anticipation.

I paused again, feeling like a coward for the first time in my life. “He has Case. Unless I hand you over, he’ll kill him.”

She heard every word I said, but it took her eyes several seconds to react. They fell in despair, slowly drowning in darkness. Her body stiffened as her spine straightened, and her hand slowly moved over her mouth, stifling a scream that never came. “Oh my god…”

I hated seeing the pain on her face. I was tempted to look down, but that would be cowardly. I’d witnessed gruesome things, but they’d never disturbed me like this. Seeing the film of moisture form in her eyes killed me. Whatever pain she felt, I felt it a million times over.

A few tears escaped, but she didn’t sob. “No…” She dragged her fingers down her cheeks and wiped away the tears. “This can’t be happening…”

I wished I could make this better for her, but I couldn’t.

“I want him dead. I want to stab him in the throat with a knife.” She ran her fingers through her hair, and she digested her grief and rage at the same time. “This man has done nothing but ruin my life. He needs to die.”

My hand went to hers. “I’ll get him—eventually.”

She squeezed my large fingers. “I know you will. Too bad I won’t be alive to see it.”

This was the exact response I’d been expecting. “Baby, you know I can’t let you take his place.”

“Why? Do you have a better idea?” she asked hopefully.

“No. I don’t know where Lucian is, and I’m sure Case is in a second location.”

“Why would he be in a second location?”

I wanted to keep this from her, but I couldn’t. “Lucian said he’ll strap him with explosives and—”

“Oh my god.” She covered her face with both palms.

My hand went to her thigh. “Baby—”

“I can’t let that happen to him.” She dropped her hands. “My brother doesn’t deserve this. My brother isn’t a part of this. I love him so much, and I refuse to let this happen. I would rather die a million times than let him suffer.”

“I’m taking his place.” She spoke with a steady voice but wet eyes. “You can’t make me stay here. You can’t make me stand aside and do nothing.”

“And you expect me to let you hand yourself over to Lucian? That I’ll just let this happen? Case wouldn’t want you to.”

“I don’t care what he wants. This has nothing to do with him, and it’s unfair. This is between Lucian and me. I never should have submitted to him for Evan, and I regret it. But I’ll regret not saving my brother every day for the rest of my life. I’ll be so depressed that I’ll kill myself eventually. It doesn’t matter if Lucian tortures me every day until I beg for death. I would gladly accept that fate as long as Case is free.”

If I were being objective, I would admire her for her courage. She was willing to sacrifice herself for her family, and there wasn’t a hint of hesitation in her voice. Her love blinded her to the pain, blinded her to reality.

“Let me go, or I will kill you.” She looked me in the eye as she threatened me. “If you don’t let me go, I’ll never stop fighting. I’ll never forgive you. I’ll never let you touch me again. If Case dies, I die. And I would rather be the only person who has to make that sacrifice.”

Her determination was powerful, and no amount of reason would change her mind. All that mattered was her brother’s life, and nothing else was important. She meant every word she said, and unless she got what she wanted, she would never be the same.