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

There was no chance Lucian was the father since it’d been at least three months since the last time he fucked me. I suspected he didn’t have the balls to get me pregnant anyway. That meant Balto was the father.

The responsible woman inside me wanted to tell him the truth. It was his baby, and he had the right to know his son or daughter was coming into the world. But I also knew that conversation would be pointless. He didn’t want a family, so if I told him I was pregnant, he would tell me nothing had changed. Or he would step up and be a father…even though he didn’t want to. That would be worse, in my opinion.

Why would I want him around if he didn’t want to be around?

I didn’t know what to do.

In a few more weeks, I would start to show. Dirk and Case were dense about a lot of things, but they would figure it out soon enough. Keeping this a secret from them would be impossible.

Besides, I didn’t want to do this alone.

Case came to my bedroom door and knocked. “Dinner is ready. You hungry?”

“No.” I’d lost my appetite even more since I’d realized I was pregnant. But then I remembered that I needed to eat. I was eating for two now, so turning down meals wasn’t an option anymore. “Actually, I’ll be there in a second.”

“Good.” Case’s steps sounded on the floor as he walked away.

I grabbed my phone off the nightstand and checked for messages. Balto hadn’t contacted me once, and it’d been an entire month. He didn’t tell me that he missed me. He didn’t call me to check on me. He dropped me just the way he said he would.

Why did I expect any different?

I walked into the dining room and joined my brother. He had a bowl of salad along with fettuccini alfredo with mushrooms and broccoli. He uncorked a bottle of wine and poured two glasses.

I didn’t object because that would be obvious. I never turned down wine.

Case started scooping everything into his mouth. “How was your doctor’s appointment?”

“It was fine.” It was a week ago, so I didn’t understand why he was asking about it now.

“Are you seeing them for depression? I’m glad you’re getting help, but this will pass. You’re a tough woman. You’re a Cardello. You’ll get through this.”

He couldn’t be further off the radar. “I know it’ll pass. It’ll just take a while.” I ate my salad with my eyes downcast, unsure when I should tell him the truth. He and Dirk were going to be uncles. The Cardello family would grow. “Did you have fun on Friday?” It was the first time he’d left me alone at the house and gone out.

“Yeah, it was fine.” He kept eating.

“That’s all you’re going to say?”

“What do you want me to say?” he asked. “I met a pretty woman and I scored.”

“When do you think you’ll get back out there?”

Now that I was having a baby, it would be years before I considered going on a date. My life would revolve around the little person who would dictate my life. My entire existence would be directed toward a whole other person. There wouldn’t be time for romance. “Not for a while.”

“Maybe you should go out this weekend. Just talk to a few guys. Dip your toe back in the water.”

Yes, they would love to spend their time with a woman who couldn’t drink because she was pregnant. We would really hit it off. “I’m not ready for that.”

“And that’s not enough time.”

He refilled his glass of wine then noticed mine hadn’t been touched. “Something wrong with the wine?”

“No, not at all.” I spun my fork in the pasta and kept my eyes on my plate.

“Then why haven’t you drunk any of it?”

“Because I’m too busy talking to you.”

“Hasn’t stopped you from eating.”

I lifted my chin and lowered my fork. “Case, back off.”

“What am I doing? I’m just taking an interest in your life.”

“You’re interrogating me,” I countered. “Being nosy about my doctor’s appointment—”

“I just want to make sure you’re okay,” he snapped. “You’re the most depressed I’ve ever seen you, and I’m sorry for being concerned. Wait, no. I’m not sorry for being concerned.”

“And then you’re pestering me to meet a bunch of guys when I’m not ready.”

“I just suggested going out and talking to a few. Maybe it’ll make you more open-minded.”

“And then you’re monitoring the amount of wine I drink. Just back off.”

“Well, you usually drink your wine quicker than I do. Just wanted to make sure you liked it. I’ve been bending over backward, trying to help you. I want you to feel comfortable after everything you just went through. All I’m trying to do is help you. So, get off my case, alright?” His eyes bored into mine with hostility. Now he spoke to me like he used to, like I was the bane of his existence. But his temper was fired up more than usual, and he was sick of my shit. “Jesus Christ, give me a break.” He took a long drink of his wine then turned his attention back to his plate. This time, he didn’t look up again, ignoring me.