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The Skull Ruler (Skull 3) Penelope Sky 2022/8/5 16:54:59

“She’s got Case and Dirk.”

“It’s not the same. If she’s protecting her baby, then who’s protecting her?”

He set the bottle down and kept staring at me. “I thought you didn’t want that to be your problem.”

I didn’t want it to be my problem. But over the last three months, she was all I ever thought about. I knew Case and Dirk would look after her, but as a single woman, she could have any man she wanted. She would pick someone worthy of her. But now I didn’t want her to be with someone worthy of her. I also didn’t want her to do this alone. The only man in the world who was strong enough to really keep her safe was me.

“Balto?” My brother tried to get my attention when my eyes drifted away.

“I’m the only man who can keep them safe.”

“No one is after her. There’s nothing to protect her from.”

“There’s always something to protect her from. I don’t care that the baby is Lucian’s. It’s half her…so I want the baby to be safe too.”

Heath kept watching me. “What does that mean? You want to be with her?”

“I don’t think I have a choice. It’s been three months, and I’m worse now than I was when she first left. Knowing she’s pregnant and vulnerable terrifies me. I want her safe. I want both of them safe. I can’t expect another guy to do it. He’d never do as good of a job as me.”

“You want to be with her, or you want to be her guard dog? Because I can’t tell.”

I didn’t want her to be with anyone else. That much was obvious. And now that I sensed she was in trouble, I wanted to make her problems go away. I wanted to be her protector, just the way I was before. “Both.”

My apartment was fully furnished, and Dirk would stop by tomorrow to baby proof the place. I still had a few months to go, but I might as well get used to the inhibition now. My living room had couches, a coffee table, and a TV mounted on the wall. I had everything I needed—thanks to my brothers for moving everything in and setting up the place.

I finally had my own space, and while the independence was a dream come true, I missed Balto’s apartment. That place was originally a prison, but it quickly became my home. The memories still haunted me from time to time, but I had to remind myself that was in the past.

I would never go back there ever again.

Now that Balto thought the baby was Lucian’s, he was probably back to his old ways. He paid for hookers left and right and got the closure he needed for our relationship. He didn’t want to be with me when I was only his. He would never want to be with me now that I was having another man’s baby.

I stood in the kitchen and prepared dinner on the stove. I made shrimp scampi with a side of broccoli. The hot pan sautéed the food, and the steam rose in my kitchen. With one hand on my stomach, I pushed the food around with my spatula.

The silence of my apartment wouldn’t last forever. Soon, there would be a baby screaming every hour and making a mess every other minute. But I was excited for the silence to go away, to hear the sound of my baby’s voice.

The sound of the door lightly opening and closing registered in my ears. Since I’d become pregnant, my senses were heightened by a million. Instinctively, I checked for danger everywhere, even in my own home.

My hand went to the burner, and I quickly turned it off so I could hear better.

Heavy footsteps sounded in the living room.

I knew it wasn’t either of my brothers. They wouldn’t pick the lock and help themselves inside like that. I had a gun in the kitchen, so I quietly slid open the drawer and pulled out the gun. My finger clicked the safety, and I turned around.

Balto stood there. In a gray t-shirt that fit snugly across his chest and dark jeans that rode low on his hips, he had the same mercenary look as he did before. He didn’t look at the gun in my hand, as if it was insignificant.

“How did you know I lived here?” I lowered the gun even though I didn’t approve of his behavior at all.

He stood there, still and silent like a statue.

“And don’t break in to my apartment like that again. Knock.”

“If I knocked, you wouldn’t have answered.”

“But at least I would have been prepared for you to break down the door.”

The corner of his mouth rose slightly. “Making dinner?”‘

“I was… Now I’m not hungry.” I set the gun on the counter.