Lucian took a seat and started working. “I took Case to hurt her. But taking the man she loves is much better. Watching that woman sob her heart out is vengeance enough. And now I can finally get rid of you. Two birds, one stone.”
I watched him piece everything together. “If you make the wrong move, can this detonate right now?”
“That’s always a possibility.”
“Good.” I faced forward. “So if I distract you enough, maybe we’ll both die.”
He chuckled. “I’m the best for a reason. I don’t make mistakes.”
“Except when you crossed me.”
He looked up from his work, his smile gone. “You’re the one about to be blown to pieces. So I think I won that match.”
“Your brother would disagree.”
He hooked the vest onto my body. “I have to admit, you’re taking this better than the others. Most men would have shit themselves by now.”
“Because they didn’t volunteer for this. I did.”
His men gripped my arms and marched me out of the room.
Lucian walked beside us. “When the final beep from the alarm goes off, that will be the last sound you hear in this life. Then the fire will rise and burn whatever body parts are left over from the explosion. I have to ask…was she really worth it?”
I kept my eyes straight ahead as they marched me outside.
“It’s a sad way for the Skull King to go. Who will inherit your ring?”
I’d left my ring behind because I wasn’t letting him have it. “We all have to die sometime, right?”
“For a woman?” he asked incredulously. “Sure, she’s beautiful. But she’s unremarkable in every other way.”
“You don’t believe that. You just tell yourself that to make yourself feel better. She prefers fucking a real man to being the prisoner of some spineless pussy.”
One of his men slugged me in the stomach.
I didn’t let out a single sound of discomfort.
We marched across the compound until we approached a building in the corner. It wasn’t much larger than a two-car garage. A road didn’t lead to the area, so it seemed like a shed. I’d never paid attention to it before.
We entered the building, and I spotted a room constructed out of solid concrete. The door that led to it was black and manufactured from an indistinguishable metal. Lucian opened the door and revealed another metal chair. “Take a seat.”
I stepped inside, hearing the echo of my steps in the small room. It was a confined space, powerful enough to contain the blast so no one would hear it. There were black marks all over the place, the result of other explosions.
This was the last place I would ever visit, the last room I would ever see before I left this earth. If heaven and hell existed, I knew exactly where I was going. I sat down, the vest an extra twenty pounds on my frame.
Lucian stopped in front of me, his hands resting in his pockets. He stared at me with a slight smile, like he was enjoying every single moment. “I win. You lose.”
“That still remains to be seen.”
“Death is pretty final.”
“My men are loyal to me, unlike yours. Eventually, they’ll get their retribution. Don’t expect mercy.”
He smiled. “We’ll see. And when I get my wife back, I’ll fuck her and think of you.” He pulled a remote out of his pocket and hit the button.
The small screen on the wall displayed a countdown.
“I’ll let you enjoy the countdown. Most men don’t even last this long before they start crying. So, congratulations.”
I stared at him blankly, refusing to feel anything for this man. He could torment me all he wanted, but it didn’t change my victory. Cassini was alive and well, far away from his clutches. I wouldn’t survive this—but she would. That made all of this worth it. “Goodbye, Lucian.”
He nodded. “Goodbye, Balto.” He walked out and shut the metal door behind him.
My eyes shifted to the clock, seeing the seconds tick by. My death felt anticlimactic. I was the Skull King. I deserved something better than this. But I let it happen because I didn’t have any other choice.
Giving Cassini away wasn’t an option.
I’d die before I allowed that to happen.
Before we got out of the truck, it seemed like she was going to tell me she loved me. Maybe I should have given her the chance to say the words, but at the time, it was too difficult. Maybe I shouldn’t have been a coward and told her how I felt when I had the chance. But maybe it was so obvious that I didn’t need to say anything at all.
Maybe it was better this way.
We arrived on the top floor, and I was still in tears. “Heath, this is Balto, your brother. We’re going to stand by and do nothing? Do you understand how ludicrous that is?”