I couldn’t have her in my life if I was the Skull King. And I wouldn’t have much of a life if I wasn’t the Skull King. There was no possibility that made sense. There was no way we could have a future.
The elevator beeped before the doors opened.
Then she stepped out, wearing dark jeans and a loose-fitting black sweater. Just as beautiful as the last time I saw her, she stole my entire focus. Her full lips were painted with her favorite shade of lipstick. Her green eyes were highlighted by the sexy makeup she wore. The strands I used to fist dangled around her shoulders.
She stared at me with those stunning, unblinking eyes.
She was more beautiful than I remembered, more beautiful than the ghost that starred in my dreams. My hands turned into fists at my sides because I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do first. Kiss her, hug her, or fuck her.
But I couldn’t do any of those things.
She came closer to me, moving slowly like staring at me affected her as much as it affected me. Her shoes tapped lightly against the hardwood floor, and she stopped close to me, significantly shorter than I was. Her eyes roamed over my body, seeing my chiseled abs and my hard chest. When her eyes met mine again, there was unmistakable longing in her gaze.
Minutes passed, and we said nothing to each other, enjoying the break from our mutual misery. This visit would only hurt me once she was gone, but it was nice to enjoy her in that moment, to see her with my own two eyes.
She looked down for a second as she spoke. “I’m sorry to barge in on you like this. I just wanted to talk to you about something. I know you said there was no future for us and you’re devoted to your life as the Skull King. But—”
“I haven’t changed my mind, Cassini.” This visit would only hurt us both. I couldn’t let her have a false sense of hope. My hands wanted to drag her into the bedroom and enjoy her, but that would just make this harder on both of us. I enjoyed hurting men who deserved it, but I didn’t enjoy hurting her. “Coming here was a stupid idea. You’re just making it harder than it needs to be. I know where I belong, and you know where you belong. I’m not the kind of man that changes his mind. When I decide something, it’s final.”
“Balto, that’s not what this is—”
“Then if you’re here just for sex, I’m not interested in that either.” I hated myself for the way I spoke to her, but unless I was firm, even cruel, the relationship would never end. “That will just make it more difficult for both of us. We’re over, Cassini. I thought you were a stronger woman than this. I thought you were prouder than this. You shouldn’t be crawling back to a man who left you. That’s not the woman I used to know.”
Her eyes narrowed slightly, her rage coming through. “Maybe if you would just shut your mouth—”
“I. Don’t. Want. You.” I stepped closer to her, getting in her face with the expression I showed my enemies.
Her anger disappeared, quickly replaced by an expression of hurt.
Good. I’d finally hit a button. “We had what we had, but now it’s over. We knew it was going to end. I warned you of that. You’re stupid for ever thinking you would be enough to change my mind. My word is law. When I say something, I mean it. I’m the Skull King. I will always be the Skull King. I will never be what you want me to be. So, get out and don’t come back. Visit me again, and I won’t see you.” This woman had saved my life and she didn’t deserve to be disrespected like this, but I had to hurt her. If she hated me, it would make it easier for her. If she thought I was an asshole, she wouldn’t want me. She’d find someone else and move on. Our relationship really would be in the past.
She stared at me as her chest rose and fell deeply, her anger and frustration written all over her face. Her hand glided across her stomach absentmindedly, like my poisonous words gave her a stomachache. She shook her head slightly then released a sad sigh. “Fair enough.”
I walked in the door, my body feeling heavy like it was weighted with lead. I was sick to my stomach and not because I was pregnant. My exact fears came to life when Balto ordered me away. He was even colder than the last time I saw him. His bachelor life had obviously been good to him.