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The Skull Ruler (Skull 3) Penelope Sky 2022/8/5 16:54:52

“Why the hell not?” I demanded. “We are already something.”

“We are a man and a woman. Nothing more.”

“And random men and women risk their lives for each other?” I asked incredulously. “No, asshole. Only people in love do that. Do you always fuck a woman the way you fuck me? Do you kiss her, tell her she’s beautiful, and take her nice and slow over and over?”

“No. You only do that with me. Have you ever been with another woman bare?”

His silence was his answer.

“Stop insulting me by pretending we’re nothing.”

“I never said we were nothing. But we will never be more than what we are now.”

“I’m your woman,” I hissed.

“And I’m your man—but that’s it. I’ll never be your husband. I’ll never be the father of your children. I’ll never be the fantasy you’ve dreamed of. I will always be the Skull King, the killer and the conqueror.”

Now, he looked pissed. “I will never be both. I can only be the man or the king. I choose king. I made my decision a long time ago, and I won’t change it.”

“You’ve already changed your mind. When you sacrificed yourself for me, you were the man. The Skull King wouldn’t have abandoned his men for a woman. You’ve already made your choice—but it’s not the choice you think you’ve made.”

He closed his eyes for a moment, digesting his anger. “And that’s exactly why this will never work. That’s exactly why this has to end. You can never be my first priority. And you shouldn’t be with a man unless you’re at the top of his list.”

“Then put me at the top of your list.”

“No.” His nostrils flared. “I’m the Skull King. This is where I belong.”

Tears welled up in my eyes. “You belong with me.”

He shook his head slightly. “You told me you want a family. You want to live in peace and quiet in the countryside. You want a nice husband who will be a good father. Baby, that’s not me.” He pressed his hand to his chest. “That will never be me. I will always be the tyrant who crushes the skulls of my enemies. I will always be obsessed with power and money. Don’t sacrifice everything you want for a man who won’t make those sacrifices for you. You’re better than that.”

“I never said I would. But we need to work this out—”

“I don’t want to work this out.” His nostrils flared again. “I can’t have you in my life. My enemies will use you against me. You will never be safe. You will never truly be free. You will distract me from what I need to focus on. Then you’ll resent me because I won’t give you what you want. You’ll waste your time, and then we’ll hate each other when it ends. There is no scenario where this works. None.”

I kept my tears back because I refused to let this man make me cry, but it was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do. “There is a scenario where this works. You walk away from the Skull Kings and live happily ever after with me.”

“You can’t do this forever, Balto. In twenty years, you’ll be too old.”

“You underestimate my strength.”

“And you overestimate it. This can’t go on forever. You’ll conquer more criminals and make more money, but what does it matter? It won’t make you happy. Can you really live without me? Can you really let me go and carry that burden? Can you let me walk away without thinking about me every day? Letting go of the only place you’ve ever belonged is hard…but can you lose the woman you love?” I watched his eyes shift back and forth as they looked into mine. “Balto, you are not the man I pictured myself ending up with. You’re cold, stoic, and a criminal. Not only are you a criminal, but you’re the most notorious crime lord in this country. Do you think that matters to me? It doesn’t matter at all. You’re my man, and I want to make this work.”

He was quiet for a while, his eyes burning into mine. “Letting you go will be hard. Harder than I want to admit. But I won’t change my mind, Cassini. I’m the Skull King, and that’s where I belong. It doesn’t matter how I feel about you. I can’t change who I am for you.”

“I never asked you to change—”

“I’m the Skull King, and you’re asking me not to be the Skull King. That’s a change I cannot make.”

“It’s a title, Balto.”

“It’s more than a title,” he said quietly. “It’s who I am. There’s nothing you can say, nothing you can do. I told you this weeks ago, and when I said those words, I felt exactly the way I do now. I’ve felt this way for a long time. This is over.”