The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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Cans were being crunched together and dropped into black bags by Janine, Sam and Kieran when Jase came downstairs the following morning. Sam clocked the scratches on his neck as well as a faint bite mark that was beginning to bruise at the curve between his neck and shoulder, just about visible above the hem of his t-shirt.

“Fuck me, what happened to you?” Kieran asked, spotting it as well. Jase kept a straight expression, lighting a cigarette.

“Madison happened to me,” he replied, inhaling, “she didn’t take all too kindly to me not standing up for her last night but I think I’ve put the message across that things have changed and doing her any favours was a stupid idea to begin with.”

“How’s she taking it?” Janine asked sheepishly. Jase just shrugged,

“Don’t know, don’t care, she isn’t talking anymore and I’m not going upstairs so long as I can help it.”

“How come?” Sam asked. Jase picked up a black bag for himself, helping them. The house smelled of smoke and spilt beer. It usually did but he picked up on it more today, it was stale. He looked at Janine through his lashes, shaking his head and picking up more rubbish.

“Because I’m not. She can cry herself to sleep until Mitch comes for her.” His words were cold and detached, as if he never cared about her. But there was something in his face when he’d said it, something Janine couldn’t place.

They finished binning all the empties, Janine grabbed the hoover and Sam wiped tables down as Jase took all the full bags out, putting them in wheelie bins at the end of the drive.

“What time are we going to Ramon’s?” Sam asked when they all sat down, Jase lit a joint, shrugging.

“In about half an hour.” He took his phone from his pocket, checking to see if Ramon was home. He said he’d be around if what they wanted to discuss was worth his time. Jase chewed his lip; he really was getting impatient. Glad to be washing his hands of everything, he finished the joint and went upstairs to get his cigarettes.

“Are you going out?” Madison asked.

“Yes,” he replied stiffly. She nodded, her eyes drifting to the bobby pins that were next to his cigarettes as he picked them up.

“Jase, come on!” Sam shouted from the bottom of the stairs. Jase’s eyes met Madison’s as he took a few steps back, away from the bed before turning and heading out of the door.

Madison waited until she heard the front door close and the faint sound of a car starting before she threw herself into action, grabbing two of the pins. She turned the handle of the unlocked door, careful to only step on the edges of the floor where it was less likely to creak. Whilst Madison trusted Janine, now wasn’t the time to risk getting caught for anything.

She crept downstairs, listening for anyone that could be in the house. Once the coast was determined clear, she honed in on her target. A green tin box under Jase’s armchair. Chewing the plastic coating off of the pins, she pulled it out, jamming them into the keyhole and opening the box to reveal two handguns and several magazines. Her heart thumped hard in her chest. The boys wouldn’t be back for a while but the anxiety chewed through her as she took one of the guns, clamping a magazine in and closing the box, sliding it back into place. She ran back upstairs, hiding the gun underneath the mattress.

It was getting close to the time.

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