The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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Sam poured the rest of his coffee down the sink.

“She’ll soon behave herself when she starts working,” Adam said, referring to Madison. Jase pursed his lips, looking over to him sat at the kitchen table.

“I’m not making her work just yet. Not after that. I’m not having her try and fight every man that goes into that room.” Sam and Adam looked at him, their brows furrowed in joint confusion.

“What do you mean ‘not making her work’?” Adam asked, “why the fuck do we have her here then?” he was already getting wound up, Jase ignored it.

“What I say. I don’t want her trying to gauge the eyes out of everyone I send up there, it’s more hassle than it’s worth.”

“Then we’ll just make her behave-” he pressed but Jase was shaking his head,

“We were paid to bring her in. Marking her up doesn’t look good when so much money has been put on her head. It’s like buying a painting and drawing all over it before you sell it on. She’ll come round in her own time; she was beginning to fall apart last night after the incident. It won’t be long.” Adam grumbled in response and Jase left the kitchen, heading back upstairs before Madison got out of the shower. Sam looked at Adam,

“She leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t like her,” Adam said, curling his upper lip at the mere thought of the girl. Sam chuckled,

“Yeah, but you don’t like anyone. Jase knows what he’s doing, and he has a point. We’re not losing money by having her here. There are still four other girls. We might as well just wait for her to roll over. She isn’t the first girl that’s caused a little trouble.” He played it off, but he knew what Adam was getting at. There was something about Madison, and he couldn’t quite place it. However, it was no skin off his nose if she didn’t work. Adam was only mad about it because he loved the power that came with controlling the girls so it wasn’t much of a problem. So long as she eventually did rollover that was.

Sam left Adam to stir in his anger, heading upstairs to Janine’s bedroom. Smoke billowed out as he opened the door and she rolled onto her back on the bed, looking at him upside down.

“Please don’t tell me I have a customer this early,” she sighed.

“No, I just can’t be asked with Adam’s rambling about Madison causing mayhem last night.” Janine laughed in her throat, taking another drag on the joint she had rolled.

“I have to give it to the girl; she has balls of steel.” Sam looked at her disapprovingly as she sat up, to which she responded with a roll of her eyes. “Don’t look at me like that.”

“Is that my weed you’re smoking?” he asked. She shrugged,

“Only a little bit. I needed something to help me sleep.”

“You know you’re not allowed to smoke.” She smiled, standing up and walking over to him, revelling in his eyes gliding over her semi-dressed body only his t-shirt was covering.

“I know. It’s just a little bit, don’t be a grass.” She held it out to him, and he took a large lungful, stepping past her to sit on the bed. “What was Adam saying about Madison, anyway?”

“I’m not discussing house matters with you,” he replied. She had expected no less and didn’t bother pushing before she joined him on the bed, resting her head across his lap. Her usual floral fragrance enveloped him.

“Can you make sure I don’t have any customers for a few hours, so I can sleep for a little while?” Sam laughed,

“What? You’re joking, right?” Janine pouted.

“Please? Can’t you just give them to Madison or something? Maybe getting her to work will keep her in line,” she grumbled. Sam knew she didn’t mean it. She felt sorry for the girls there, she wouldn’t seriously wish work upon them, not when she knew how traumatising and daunting it was.

“If I could, I would but Jase isn’t having her work yet.” Her brows creased,

“Why? The whole point of us being here is to work, what makes her so special?” he leaned over her, stubbing the roach out,

“You tell me.” Janine moved so he could lay down properly but she stayed sat up, watching him.

“Sam, why isn’t Jase making her work?” she asked, her voice laced with what he could only place as worry.

When Janine wasn’t playfully flirting with him, her age came through. The weathered young adult that had spent enough time on the streets to believe the house was a better compromise. At twenty-three years old, she was the kind of wise a woman could only be after hardship and there had been plenty of that.

“You saw what she did last night, you leave her in a room with any punter and one of them isn’t coming out. Jase can’t be asked for all the shit it would bring us if our girls started attacking customers.” Janine scowled at him, standing up.

“So, if we all just start fighting people we won’t have to work anymore?” she asked angrily, Sam sighed in frustration, far too tired to deal with her complaints about Madison as well.

“Obviously not. You’d all end up dead. The only reason Madison isn’t dead yet is due to someone paying a large sum of money for us to bring her in. If we can’t deliver, people will be less likely to part with their hard-earned wages, won’t they?” he rubbed his hand over his forehead as if she was giving him a physical headache but her anger was well deserved. It was one thing Madison not being forced to work; it was another having the other girls know about it. It was unfair, even by the house standards. But Jase’s word was often final when it came to the business side of things so no one bothered to put up much of an argument. After all, it didn’t directly affect them.

“She just gets to walk around doing whatever the fuck she wants?” Sam looked at her from the corner of his eye. She stood at the side of the bed, arms folded defiantly, glaring at him.

“If you have a problem with how the house is being run, take it up with Jase.” The sides of her jaw jutted out from clenching her teeth. But she said nothing.

Janine was docile and compliant. She was a model prostitute as far as everyone in the house was concerned. Because of this, they allowed her a little more freedom. She was allowed her own make-up and clothes. She was allowed to sit downstairs every now and then, mostly to flirt with any customers that came by to make the house seem more inviting. She’d been there for over two years and had never been any trouble but in those years, she’d seen Jase do a lot of things. A lot of things that meant even someone as headstrong as her wouldn’t dare question his way of running the business.

All the girls thought Adam was the scariest because he was quick to anger but Jase intimidated her because he was so unpredictable. She sunk back down onto the bed, letting her temporary rage fade away, knowing that was a better decision than getting even more riled up.

“He ought to be careful she isn’t making an impression on the other girls,” she said quietly, rolling onto her side to face him. Sam was boyish, he had a youthful charm about him that made him appear soft. If you were around on the rare occasion that he smiled, he would come across as a big brother type. Janine reached over, brushing the golden blonde hair that tufted out just above his ear.

“Jase is never the one that needs to be careful in this house and you know it. Only one of you has to act up before he lets you all know that trying to spark a revolution between the five of you is dumb.” He was right and it was a wicked shame. Janine learned a long time ago, through the actions of others, that it was very easy for the boys to remind the girls exactly who was in control. That’s why she was glad that so few tried speaking up after a couple of days.

Silence was safest.

Hopefully, nothing too drastic had to happen before Madison was made aware of this fact. She was young and boisterous but like many before her, Janine knew she would crumble eventually. Jase may be unpredictable, but he had an eye for the more relevant things. If he didn’t perceive Madison’s behaviour as a massive issue, that’s because it wasn’t. He didn’t care much what the other girls thought about it either because he held all the cards.

Unfair was a term that was laughed at in the house and Janine didn’t bother dwelling on the matter as she closed her eyes.

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