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The Skull Ruler (Skull 3) Penelope Sky 2022/8/5 16:54:51

The men grabbed him and dragged him away.

“Please!” Tears streaked down his cheeks, and his eyes were squeezed closed. He kicked his feet as he tried to get away, but there was no way to stop this. His cries grew louder as he was brought closer to the house, closer to his death.

They dragged him through the front door and placed him somewhere in the house. His screams were still audible because he was hysterical.

The men stepped out and returned to our side.

Cassini stepped forward, her thumb resting over the detonator. She stared at her former home, her former prison. She seemed to commit the moment to memory, tried to preserve it so she could remember it forever. Any second now, she would truly be free. The man who haunted her for years would be nothing but ash and particles. She took a deep breath before she hit the button.

The house immediately exploded, the fire rising instantly. Pieces of wood and stone flew into the sky then came crashing down. The sound was loud enough that everyone in Florence definitely heard it. Lucian’s screams disappeared the second her thumb hit the trigger, and the sound of the detonation was oddly beautiful.

His house was destroyed, turned into a pile of burning wood and smoke. Pieces of paper floated through the air. The fire gradually rose as it burned everything in sight, but then smoldered once there was nothing left to burn. The heat of the flames could be felt at this distance, making it feel like summer rather than winter.

She continued to stand there with her thumb on the trigger, enjoying her moment of freedom. Now, her tormentor was officially gone. She was a free woman, a woman who had her whole life ahead of her. She breathed deeply as she enjoyed the satisfaction, felt the adrenaline of revenge.

I came up behind her and grabbed both of her arms. My chin rested on her head, and I stared at the destruction with her, knowing that we’d done this together. I felt all her joy, felt all her relief.

And I shared it with her.

When Case’s gaze settled on me, I saw more emotion in his eyes than I’d ever seen him express. In that moment, he looked so much like Father, it seemed like he’d come back from the dead. He rushed to me and wrapped his arms around me, like I was the one who had been kidnapped and not him. “Sorella, are you alright?”

“I’m fine, Case. Not a scratch.”

He rested his palm against the back of my head and cradled me just the way Father had. It was the longest time he’d ever held me, expressing more affection than anyone thought he was capable of. “Is he gone?”

He squeezed me tighter. “Good. That means it’s over.”

When he pulled away, he kissed me on the forehead. “I love you, sorella. I know I don’t say it enough—”

“I know you do.” I squeezed his wrists. “And I love you too.” I smiled at him, feeling the tears in my eyes. “I’m sorry that you got mixed up in this. Did he—”

“It’s in the past now. He’s dead, so it doesn’t matter. I’m okay, you’re okay, and Balto is okay. So we can all move on.”

“Yes…let’s move on.” Lucian had taken up enough of our time. He tortured all of us in his own way. Now that he was dead, it was time to reclaim all that lost time. It was time for us to get our lives back.

“What will you do now?” He released my hands and rested his arms by his sides. “You’re a free woman. You can go anywhere you want. You know there’s always room at my place if you need a place to stay for a while.”

My freedom didn’t mean much to me anymore. I’d been living with Balto for so long, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. That compound was my home. His bed was my bed. I didn’t want to get my own apartment or move in with my brother. It had been all I wanted before, but now…none of that seemed desirable. “Thanks. I haven’t given it much thought, but I’ll let you know what I’ve decided.” Balto said that this would end eventually, that he didn’t see a future for us. But he’d also sacrificed his life to save mine. That could only mean one thing. Perhaps his feelings had changed.

Balto joined us, parts of his face swollen from the hits he’d taken in the middle of the street. “This is the Underground. Not much to see. It’s mostly just booze and weapons, but I can show you around if you want.”

I eyed the high-backed throne that sat on a dais above the floor. Skulls were carved into the black wood, and it was undoubtedly where he sat every night and watched over his men with a drink in his hand. I would have been interested in the place before, but after what had happened, I just wanted to leave. There was a topless woman working the bar, and she served the men as they came in, along with Lucian’s former soldiers. She had pierced nipples and a pretty face, and I didn’t like the idea of Balto looking at her every night while he was here. “I think I’m ready to go. Case, do you need a ride?”