The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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Jase’s phone buzzed on the kitchen table. Ramon was calling. Jase was still asleep. For a second, Sam contemplated letting it ring through to voice mail but if it was important, they’d need to know ASAP.

“Hello?” he answered.

“Jase?” Ramon replied.

“He’s in bed. This is Sam, what’s happened?” He sat down, sipping his coffee, stretching his legs out under the table.

“Tell that stupid cunt to get his arse up. There’s been a shooting at the club, I’m going to assume it was Mitch so what I want to know is why the fuck hasn’t he been dealt with yet?” Sam clenched his jaw. Mitch was taking liberties now. Someone had to talk some sense into Jase. Sam had let all of this slide for long enough now, trying to be a decent friend but Mitch was getting loud and obnoxious and it was making them all look like pricks.

“I’ll get him up now,” he replied, cutting the call off. “Jase,” he called through the bedroom door as he knocked. “The club’s been shot up, Ramon is fuming.” He could hear Jase stirring as he rolled himself out of bed and opened the door, still half asleep and only half dressed.

“What are you on about?” he grumbled.

“Mitch has shot up the club, get downstairs now. I’ve messaged Kieran and Tommy. They’ll be here soon. We need to do something about this before it gets worse.” Jase groaned and Sam ignored him, already walking away. Jase might be willing to wash everything down the drain for a girl but he certainly wasn’t. Twenty minutes later, the four men were sat around the table in the kitchen.

“She needs to go,” Sam said, getting straight to the point. Jase’s brows furrowed as he lit a cigarette.

“What?” he asked sleepily.

“Madison. From the second she got here, there’s been nothing but trouble.” Jase took a slow drag on his cigarette, watching Sam. “You know it, I know it, Benny, Adam and Mitch all know it. You let a talker leave because she told you not to kill him, you’ve had to dispose of two bodies because of her, the entire line is banging on about Madison being your downfall. She has to go if we’re going to scrape together whatever’s left of this mess.” Jase thought back to what she’d said last night. He looked weak; it was true. He nodded.

“You’re right,” he said quietly, finally admitting defeat and running a hand through his hair. His chest felt like it was caving in. Everything he’d felt with Madison had been new, including this. Sam sighed.

“I know how you feel about her and I’m sorry but there’s a lot riding on this, now’s not the time to think with your heart or your dick.” Jase nodded again.

“I know. Last night, it was taken too far. Albeit I’m not mad that Charlie’s dead, but the second that Madison was the one to do it gets out, it’s game over. We can’t have people thinking we let the girls kill the punters, no one will ever pay for a service again. And it’s not like I can just keep her in the house forever in this little bubble anyway. May as well just rip the plaster off now.” The words hurt as they left his lips, it didn’t feel like it was him talking. It felt robotic. Like he’d been programmed how to react when it was time to call it a day.

“I’m sorry it’s come to this,” Sam said sincerely. Jase pressed his lips together.

“It was going to happen at some point. Now’s as good a time as any.” The four of them sat in silence for a moment before Kieran piped up.

“What’s the plan then?” he asked. Jase stubbed the cigarette out and folded his arms.

“I’ll think of something, give me a day or two. There’s a lot of mess to clear up because of her. We had an argument last night about it all anyway. Madison, of all people, actually called me out on how it was starting to look to people. I snapped and insinuated that if it carried on, she wouldn’t be here much longer. Guess that wasn’t just an empty threat.” Sam wasn’t happy about the wait but he let it slide. He knew asking Jase to sacrifice Madison was a lot but he was glad his friend was seeing the bigger picture and that he was already aware of what had to happen. This didn’t end unless she was gone and every trace of her was wiped.

For everyone’s sake.

Jase stood in the doorway of the bedroom, watching Madison as she slept as he had done so many times before. This was going to be the hardest thing he had ever been asked to do. It never should have gone this far. What did he expect to happen? She stayed satisfied with being locked up in the house like an animal? Meanwhile, the entire empire Jase and the others had built crumbled around them? He wouldn’t be able to look after her if she did stay at the house either way, not with how things were going. It was time to cut their losses. Sam was right, she needed to go and everything had to return to normal.

Rather than cause himself further pain by getting back into bed with her, he got in the shower. Everything was coming to a head. He had to have his shit together otherwise the entire plan could go down the drain.

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