The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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“So, you’re actually going to get rid of her?” Ramon asked, leaning back in his chair and lacing his fingers. Jase nodded. “Tell me,” he tilted his head, “why the change of heart? Because from everything I’ve heard, this girl had you wrapped around her little finger. She was taking liberties, attacking punters, she wasn’t working, you were practically feeding her cocaine whenever she wanted it so why are you about to just hand her over, like a lamb to the slaughter?” Sam looked at Jase, he was staring absently at the corner of the room.

“As Sam said, she kept pushing and pushing. At first it was just here and there and then she killed Charlie, last night she attacked another person-”

“And you.” Sam interrupted, he looked at him from the corner of his eyes, inhaling from his cigarette.

“And me. I had to make a decision. I can’t put everything on stall forever over a girl that, let’s face it, I obviously don’t know that well. It was a ridiculous idea to begin with and I’m paying for it now. I just want this all to end so if giving Mitch what he wants is going to do that then Madison goes down as the sacrifice. There’s no two ways about it.”

“You sick of her stepping on your toes and making you look like some sort of dickhead?” Ramon asked, almost taunting him. Jase tipped his head back, blowing smoke up at the ceiling and nodding.

“Something like that.”

“Fair enough, I thought it would only be a matter of time before you started seeing sense again. For a minute, I was beginning to think you were a lost cause but I’m glad you’ve come to your senses. I expect to hear from you after your interaction with Mitch tomorrow and we can all move on from this. He might even agree to work with us and minimise any competition.”

“Fingers crossed, hey?” Jase half smiled, leaning forward and stubbing his cigarette out as he stood up, walking towards the door without another word. Sam went to follow when Ramon stopped him, speaking in a low voice.

“Keep an eye on him. I can see he’s not keen on any of this and I don’t want him flaking out at any point. Sam, if he starts to falter at the hand over tomorrow and you see him backing out, you put a bullet in his head. I’ve kept him on throughout this because he’s like a son to me but I can’t keep overlooking the mistakes he’s been making because of her. Understood?” Sam nodded, putting his hands in his jacket pockets and following in Jase’s footsteps.

Sam, Jase and Kieran sat in the kitchen, Jase’s phone was on speaker, waiting for Mitch to pick up.

“Hello?” he answered. Sam held his breath. If he didn’t agree to call a truce and take Madison off their hands as a peace offering, they didn’t have a backup plan in place. He could tell both Kieran and Jase were just as tense and aware of the fragility of the situation.

“It’s Jase.” There was a pause.

“I wasn’t expecting to hear from you this soon. I’m assuming you received my picture?”

“Yes. Madison explained your friendship with her late brother and we’ve come up with an idea that could benefit both of us.”

“I’m listening.” Jase looked at Sam who nodded, urging him to proceed. Jase chewed the inside of his lip. He looked as if he was already having second thoughts, causing Sam’s palms to sweat as Ramon’s orders circled his mind.

“Madison’s caused enough trouble. It would be in our best interests to get rid of her and seeing as we’re assuming you want her after what she’s told us, we’re suggesting a truce. We give you Madison and you either back off or work with us but all of the shootings, the bombings, and the attempted stabbings stop.” His eyes flickered to the pink scar on his hand and he thought about how quick Madison had been to tend to the wound. He swallowed the dryness in his throat. There was a short laugh.

“A lot of people have been going around saying you’ve lost your bottle but I suppose they underestimated just how cold you can be.”

“Plenty more pussy in the sea,” Jase mumbled. Another laugh crackled through the phone.

“That there is. So, you hand over Madison for me to do whatever I want with her and as a returned favour, there’s peace between us?”

“That’s the idea,” Jase replied. Just the voice of McKinney made his blood boil. He could hear the smugness, almost envision the smirk on his lips. Letting him have Madison was still a half loss but you took what you could.

“I’m glad you’ve suggested this. I was getting a little tired of all the back and forth and at the end of the day, having Madison is a far better plan than the one I originally had. She’ll be the only weapon I need.” Jase knew what he was talking about, her dad was the real target at the end of all of this. Madison was just a trophy along the journey to the real prize. Revenge was best served with long blonde hair in Mitch’s eyes.

“Is that you agreeing?” Jase questioned, wanting the phone call over and done with. There was another brief pause.

“Very well, if you’re bored of all of our courting as well, I’ll take her off of your hands and you can restore the damage the pair of us have done to your big bad reputation. When’s best for you?”

“Come to the house tomorrow, half nine. She’ll be ready. Then all of this ends, understood?”

“Loud and clear.” He hung up and Jase sat back, taking out a well needed cigarette.

“It’s sorted then?” Sam asked. Jase nodded, flicking his lighter on. It was almost anticlimactic. There was no resistance from Mitch, his confidence and certainty that he’d got his way had gone to his head so much that he didn’t even seem nervous or hesitant at the idea of coming to the house.

“Do you think he’ll bring people with him?” Kieran asked. Jase shrugged.

“He’ll probably bring one or two people but I dare say he’s smart enough to know that we aren’t going to have many people here considering by letting Madison go, it looks like we’re admitting defeat,” he muttered. But Jase knew the confidence in Mitch’s voice. He knew, deep down, that Mitch wouldn’t just take the win.

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