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The Skull Ruler (Skull 3) Penelope Sky 2022/8/5 16:54:53

“What makes you happier? Work or Cassini?”

“It’s not just work. It’s who I am. And I’m not the kind of man that would give up everything for a woman. I’m not changing who I am for anyone else. I’ll never sit at home with two kids in my lap, watching TV. I’d be miserable.”

“That’s not how it would be.”

“I disagree. Case, I’ve made up my mind. I told Cassini this weeks ago, and nothing has changed. I won’t change my mind. I don’t want kids, and I’ll never want kids. I don’t want the boring life that Cassini wants. I’m the Skull King—that’s where I belong.”

Case stared at me with disappointment in his eyes. “I know she’s my sister, but I’m not blind. Our parents always said she could move to Milan and be a model. If they hadn’t died, maybe that’s what she’d be doing right now. She’s also smart. She’s passionate. And she loves so fiercely that it nearly gets her killed. You won’t find another woman like her.”

“I don’t expect to. I understand how wonderful she is. I’ve been living with her for months. Trust me, I know how fucking perfect she is. Trust me, I’ll miss her like crazy. Trust me, I’ll be drinking myself to sleep for the foreseeable future. But it doesn’t change anything. We want different things. It was fun while it lasted, but there’s no future…at least not a future that’s good enough for her. Breaking it off is the honorable thing to do. A selfish asshole would stay, but I’m not a selfish asshole…at least not when it comes to her.” I stepped away as I dismissed the conversation. “I know you’re here for your sister and I respect that, but don’t ask me about this again.”

When morning arrived, all the affection we’d shared the night before had ceased. We both knew this was our final moment together, so we didn’t know how to behave around each other. We both dreaded the goodbye so much that we didn’t even know what to say to each other.

She was constantly on the brink of tears.

I hoped she was strong enough to keep those tears back. There was nothing I hated more than seeing my woman cry. It broke my heart into a million pieces. I’d rather be shot in the stomach than be forced to look at it, especially since I was the cause of her heartbreak.

I’d never expected us to fall in love. She snuck past my defenses and sank her nails deep into me. Slowly, she’d claimed my body as well as my heart. She made me soft, made me into a man with a weakness.

I’d been emotionless my entire life. Even when my mom died, I didn’t shed a single tear. After being scarred by a difficult life, I didn’t have the capacity to feel anything. I’d been with many women, and not once did I actually feel something. Loving someone was never a concern.

But then I met Cassini.

And she changed my life.

I still didn’t know how it happened. When it happened. I didn’t know anything.

The elevator beeped when Case arrived to pick her up. He would take her away from this place, never to return.

She stared at the elevator doors, her hair thick around her shoulders. She wore jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt, her curves highlighted by the tight clothing. With her arms crossed over her chest, she stared at the double doors.

I came to her side and stared at her face, wishing I could say something to make this better. We hadn’t said a word to each other that morning. Neither one of us ate breakfast. Now that the moment had arrived, we seemed to be eager to get it over with.

She didn’t turn to meet my look.

The doors opened, and Case walked inside, wearing the same disappointed look he had the night before. He looked at both of us before he glanced at the suitcases waiting to be taken.

She slowly turned to me, her eyes dry but filled with overwhelming pain. “Well…” She couldn’t get any more words out, not without choking on impending tears. She avoided eye contact with her arms staying crossed over her chest. “Thank you for everything… I owe you my life.”

“You don’t owe me anything, baby.”

Her eyes shut for an instant, the nickname a trigger for her.

“You disabled that bomb like a badass. We’re even.”

“We’ll never be even,” she whispered. She stepped toward the door to join her brother. “Well, goodbye, then.”

I grabbed her by the arm and tugged her back. My eyes bored into hers, showing her the pain I carried in my heart. If she thought she was the only one suffering, she was wrong. A battle was raging inside my heart—and both sides were losing. “This isn’t easy for me either, but I’m not letting you leave like that.”