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

“And you need to get out of the house. You’ve been moping around here for three weeks.”

It’d been that long? Time didn’t seem to have any meaning. It moved quickly, but it also didn’t move at all. What had Balto been doing over the last three weeks? Had he stopped by to collect payment from Case? I didn’t dare ask. “Alright, I’ll come.”

“Good.” He unpacked another bag. “I don’t know if you need any of this, but I got you a few things.” He pulled out shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, body lotion, and tampons.

I stared at the tampons with an eyebrow raised. “Wow. You deserve a medal for that.”

He shrugged. “You get a pass right now. But when you’re better, don’t expect me to buy any of this for you.”

I smiled for the first time in three weeks. “You’re a good brother.”

“I know. So, how about I whip up some dinner? You haven’t eaten in three weeks, so you must be starving.”

“But not enough. You’ve lost about ten pounds.”

Losing weight wasn’t the worst thing in the world. “How about lasagna?”

My brother smiled. “There’s my sister…”

I carried all the supplies to my bathroom and set them on the counter. Case must have figured out exactly what I needed from his experience with the women who stayed over because he’d never paid that much attention to me when we were growing up.

He even got the good tampons, the ones that weren’t made of cardboard.

I stared at the box as my heart dropped into my stomach. I couldn’t figure out when I would need a tampon next because I could recall the last time I’d used one. It’d been at least two months since my last period.

My hand shook as I held the box. I kept staring at the brand in the corner without really looking at it. I’d been taking the shot for birth control for years. The doctor came to the house, gave me the shot, and then it was over. It lasted for at least six months.

I guess I missed my last dose.

I tried to calm myself down by thinking of other explanations for my skipped periods. It could be a hormone imbalance or stress. Or maybe I lost too much weight so I just wasn’t bleeding. But all those explanations were bullshit.

“Where are you going?” Case sat at the table with the receipts and books scattered around him. He didn’t look up from his balance sheet as he watched me grab my purse in his periphery.

“Defensive, aren’t you?” He looked up, his eyebrow raised.

“I have a doctor’s appointment.”

“Everything alright?”

“It’s just a checkup.”

“Do you want me to go with you?”

“No, I’ll be fine. You’ve got too much to do here anyway.” I left the factory then walked through the city to the office. It was the first time I’d been out and about in Florence since…I was with Lucian. I used to drive that ridiculous car around while I went shopping and ran errands. It was a restrained form of freedom.

I checked in at the front desk, gave a urine sample, and then waited.

It was still freezing outside, but I was covered in sweat.

I couldn’t be pregnant.

The father of my child would be the Skull King. That was the worst thing that could possibly happen.

Before the doctor even walked into the exam room with the results, I already knew the truth. I hadn’t noticed a change in my body, but when I ran my hand over my stomach, I could feel the slight curve. My belly had grown, but I’d lost weight at the same time. As a result, I looked exactly as I did before.

The doctor walked inside, gave me a slight smile, and then flipped through the paperwork. “Congratulations. You’re going to be a mother.”

I watched her lips move as I heard every word she said, but the news didn’t settle right away. My life was forever changed in that moment, and I didn’t even have the full nine months to prepare for the grand event. I had to be a few months along, so that was less time to process everything.

The doctor studied the consternation on my face. “I guess that wasn’t the news you were hoping for.”

“I’m just surprised.”

“Most pregnancies are by accident. You’re two months along.”

“Let’s put you on some vitamins. Then we’ll schedule a follow-up appointment with a sonogram.”

I muted everything she said. My hand moved across my stomach as the truth sank in. I wouldn’t be starting a family with a nice husband. I was knocked up by a cruel man who didn’t want me, who hadn’t changed his mind in the last three weeks since he saw me. “Yeah…let’s do that.”

Another two weeks passed, and I didn’t know what to do with this newfound knowledge.