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

The doors started to close.

“I love you, Balto. I always will.”

Case rolled the suitcases into the bedroom and set them in the closet.

It was a bedroom with a private bathroom, along with a balcony that overlooked his property. If this was just a guest bedroom that never got used, his own bedroom must be fantastic. I took a look around and stared at the king-size bed in sadness. I didn’t need a bed that big, not just for me.

Half of it wouldn’t get used.

Case stepped out of the walk-in closet. “Is the room okay?”

“Want me to show you how to use the TV remote?”

I didn’t have the heart to roll my eyes. “I can figure it out, Case.”

He continued to stand beside me, his sad eyes roaming over my profile. “You want something to eat? I can whip up some lasagna.”

Not even my favorite meal would make me feel better. “I just want to be alone right now.”

Case wrapped his arm around my shoulder and gave me a gentle squeeze. “You know where to find me if you need me.” He kissed the side of my head before he walked out and shut the door.

I opened the doors to the balcony and felt the cold breeze immediately sweep into the room. The balcony would be perfect in spring or summer, but at this time of year, it was far too cold. I shut the doors then made a fire instead. Once I got the flames going, I sat on the floor and stared at the fire, listening to the wood crackle and pop from the heat. It was a mindless activity, something that stopped me from thinking altogether.

Today was the most painful day of my life, and I didn’t know how to process it.

My fingers moved to the diamond around my throat, the gift he wanted me to keep. It was the most expensive thing I would ever own, that most people would ever own. It was almost dangerous to wear it. But since it represented the most powerful man in this country, it was a necklace of invincibility.

Crying over that man wouldn’t change anything. It wouldn’t make me feel better. I tried to stay strong because that would make life easier. The future would come to pass whether I liked it or not. I might as well hold my head high instead of kicking and screaming.

I told that man I loved him, and he still didn’t say it back.

He said he would never give up his world for me.

He would never change his mind.

Weeks passed, and I didn’t leave the house.

I finally had my freedom back, but I was doing a poor job of enjoying it. I stayed in my pajamas most of the time, showered rarely, and I hardly ate Case’s cooking. The most fresh air I got was looking out the window.

Winter was slowly turning into spring, my favorite season, but I couldn’t get excited about the change in weather. All I kept thinking about was him.

Had he slept with someone else yet?

Did he miss me as much as I missed him?

Did he think this was a mistake?

Would he change his mind if he missed me enough?

Case came home from work with bags of groceries. He unloaded them from the car and set them on the counter.

I started putting everything away, trying to pull my weight as much as I could. I did laundry and the dishes, but the rest of the time, I was just useless.

Case carried the last bag inside. “How was your day?”

I placed the chicken in the fridge. “The same as always.”

Case unpacked everything and left it on the counter. “Maybe you should come to work with me tomorrow. We could use the help.”

“You need help selling drugs?” I asked like a smartass.

Case would normally tell me off for a comment like that, but he continued to be sensitive with me. “You’re going to have to let that go. It’s not gonna change anything. And the pasta business is operating like normal. You used to enjoy being down there with us. We could work on new recipes and sauces.”

I did use to enjoy that. “I’m sorry for snapping at you… I know I’ve been a pain in the ass since I got here.”

“You haven’t been a pain in the ass.”

“Alright, you have been,” he said with a chuckle. “But it’s okay. I know you’re going through a hard time. Come to work with me tomorrow.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“I didn’t ask you,” Case said. “I’m telling you. If you could do more on the pasta side, I would have more time to help Dirk with the…other side of the business.”

I would never approve of their criminal activities, but nothing I said would change anything. I might as well not fight it.