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“Thank you,” she repeated.

I faced forward now that the conversation was over.

Case borrowed Heath’s phone and called Dirk to let him know he was okay.

I felt Cassini stare at me, felt her gaze roam over the side of my face. She examined my cuts and bruises, but she also examined the line of my jaw and the look in my eyes. A silent conversation passed between us, a prelude to the real thing. We would have to discuss what happened eventually…even though it was so obvious that words seemed redundant. I took her place because it was the only choice I had. I’d never thought I would survive the ordeal, so I hadn’t thought I’d have to face her again. But now that I lived, she knew how I felt. She would question me about it—and I would be backed into a corner.

Dying would have solved all my problems.

We left Case behind and headed to the estate with the entire army of Skull Kings.

Lucian didn’t stand a chance.

If he were smart, he would have taken off and headed to the airport. But if he were smarter, he would have understood there was nowhere to run. He’d had me in his custody, a bomb strapped to my chest, and I’d still slipped out of his grasp. We could keep playing this game forever, but we both knew how it ended. His life wouldn’t be spared anymore because of the diamond. His death was far more valuable at this point.

We approached the estate and parked on the side of the road.

Cassini sat beside me, a bulletproof vest wrapped around her chest. She had a pistol, which I didn’t need to show her how to use. She’d stolen Heath’s gun weeks ago, knew how to turn off the safety, and she had good aim.

I killed the engine and looked at her. “I’ll come back for you.”

She watched my men gather outside the vehicles and prepare to take the estate. Two tanks were in the front, and they would barrel through the gates and kill most of the men before we set foot on the property. She turned to me, concern in her eyes even though this was a slam dunk. “Be careful.”

“I’m always careful.”

She stared into my eyes, her green emeralds shifting back and forth slightly as she looked at me. She’d been fired up just minutes ago, but now she was concerned once more, just as she was when I left the house in the middle of the night. “I just got you back, and I’m afraid to let you go again.”

Now wasn’t the time for this conversation. My men were waiting for me to lead the assault. It would be easy for me to stare into her beautiful eyes forever, but there would be time for that later. “I’ll come back. I promise.”

“You can’t make a promise like that—”

“Yes, I can.” My hand cupped her neck, and my fingers slid underneath her hair. I leaned in and kissed her hard on the mouth, grateful that I was able to do this again. My mouth treasured hers for only seconds before I pulled away. I didn’t look at her again as I left the SUV and joined my men. I wore a bulletproof vest at Cassini’s request, and I had my guns strapped to my belt. A knife was in my back pocket. But my best weapons were my boots—because crushing skulls was my game. “Let’s go. Tanks first.”

The tanks rammed the iron gates until they caved under the high pressure. They were pressed aside, bent like pieces of straw. Gunfire began as Lucian’s men tried to hold their position on the property, but against two tanks, that wasn’t going to happen.

When the tanks took out the foot soldiers, we moved in.

Dead bodies lay everywhere, blood soaking into the perfectly manicured gardens that surrounded the property. Only a few men remained behind, using the house for cover. They were outnumbered, but they continued to fight anyway.

I raised my hand so my men would stop shooting. “If you surrender, you will be spared. But I have one condition. You join our ranks and hunt down your master with us. Help us locate him, and you’ll be set free.” I knew exactly how these men would respond. They weren’t loyal to an asshole like Lucian. They only fought for the paycheck. Loyalty was something you couldn’t buy. It was earned through respect—something Lucian lacked.

They lowered their weapons and emerged from their cover.

I grinned because it was another form of vengeance. I got his own men to turn on him with just a few simple words. When Lucian was held at gunpoint by his own men, it would make this moment more delicious. “Bring him to me. Now.”

Every single man turned on his master, and they entered the building in search of him. It was only minutes later when he was dragged out, his men holding each arm as he was forced down the steps and into my presence.


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