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The Skull Ruler (Skull 3) Penelope Sky 2022/8/5 16:54:49

She left me with no choice. “Alright.” I wasn’t happy about this decision. I wasn’t happy about the way it would affect me. But my woman wanted this more than anything else in the world—and I would give it to her.

I stood in Heath’s apartment and made the call.

“So,” Lucian said. “What’s your answer?”

“We agree to the trade.”

Lucian was quiet for a long time, obviously surprised by the decision. “If this is a game, you’ll lose.”

“No game. And you better not pull a stupid stunt either. I’m bringing an army with me, and I’m not afraid to go to war.”

“That won’t be necessary. Case is worthless, so I have no issue giving him up. Cassini, on the other hand… You said you would never give her up.”

“This was her decision. I tried to talk reason into her, but she refused to listen.”

“Yes,” he said. “She has a big heart…that’s always been her destruction.”

That woman still had the power to love despite what she’d been through. Evan betrayed her, but she was still willing to make the same mistake for her brother—because she loved him so deeply. It would make my life easier if she were selfish and left her brother to his fate, but I probably wouldn’t feel this way about her if that were the case. “Then we have a deal.” I hung up.

Heath stood beside me, his eyes watching my reaction. “You’re really going to do this?”

Heath didn’t try to talk me out of it even though it was the worst plan I’d ever had. “And I can’t talk you out of it?”

I shook my head. “No. There’s no other way.”

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Balto made the right decision.

If he’d stood in my way, I would have clawed my way out. I would have found one of his guns and shot him if I had to. Nothing was going to stop me from saving Case, my older brother, the patriarch of my family.

I had to save him because I loved him. But I also had to save him because this wasn’t his fight. He was an innocent person being punished because he loved me. I was the idiot for sacrificing myself for Evan. That was how all of this started. Case shouldn’t be the one to pay for it.

I was certain he hoped I wouldn’t agree to the exchange. He would rather die so I could be free.

But I couldn’t let that happen.

Thankfully, Balto didn’t stop me. He understood my love for my brother outweighed everything else. He knew I would never be happy if Lucian murdered Case. He knew I had to do this. I bet he even respected me for it.

The three of us drove in the blacked-out SUV to the meeting point in the middle of Tuscany. It was pitch-black and foggy from the winter cold. The exchange would take place in the middle of nowhere so there would be no witnesses.

I’d thought I would be scared, but I wasn’t afraid at all.

If anything, I was anxious.

I wanted my brother to be free as soon as possible. Once Lucian had his hands on me, he would beat me, rape me, and then crush my skull.

I didn’t care at all.

Balto was quiet, his hands on the wheel and his eyes on the road. He hadn’t said much to me since our emotional conversation. We didn’t spend our last hours together with lovemaking. I was too depressed, and he was too busy orchestrating the meeting tonight.

I turned to him, seeing the hard expression on his face. “Thank you…”

He didn’t look at me.

“Thank you for letting me do this.”

He finally turned my way, his blue eyes stoic but intense. He held the look for a moment before he faced forward again.

He was angry with me for my decision, but at least he didn’t stand in my way. That was the most I could ask for.

Heath sat in the back, his hoodie pulled over his head with a bulletproof vest under his clothes.

When headlights were visible, I knew we were approaching the meeting site.

This was really happening.

We came to a slow stop, the other cars forming a line across the road, the grass on either side of us.

I could see Lucian’s men all armed and prepared for battle. Lucian must still be in the car because he wasn’t visible.

Balto turned off the ignition but left the battery on so the headlights illuminated the space between us. He gripped the handle to open the door.

I grabbed his arm and leaned over the center console to kiss him. My hands cupped his cheeks, and I kissed him hard, not caring that Heath could see everything if he wanted to look. My fingers slowly moved into his hair as I continued the embrace.

He kissed me back, his lips soft and affectionate.