The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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Madison shuddered as she went from the bathroom back to the bedroom. Lily had stopped by a few days previously and deposited a whole bag of clothes for her. There were a few overly revealing items that she wouldn’t wear unless she was forced to but mostly it was leggings, jeans, vests and t-shirts. Slipping into a pair of the leggings and opting for Jase’s hoodie again, she brushed her hair and set about making the bed.

An object in the middle of the mattress caught her attention when she pulled the sheets back. It was Jase’s switchblade. She stared at it for a moment. It could come in handy if she tried to get out again anytime soon, but that wasn’t part of the new plan. And Jase would definitely notice that it had gone missing. She was making progress with him, taking his knife would only cause tension if he found out and it wasn’t like she could stab him and get past everyone else. Picking it up, she placed it on the bedside cabinet and finished straightening out the sheets, frowning at the smudges of blood she’d left over the white covers.

Jase and Sam were talking in the kitchen, both of them falling silent as she walked in.

“Where do I put these?” she asked, holding up her washing. Jase took them from her, dropping them in a white laundry basket tucked beside the table out of her view. “Also, you dropped this.” He watched as she took the switchblade from her pocket. Jase’s eyes flickered to Sam who looked back at him, clearly surprised she’d returned it. She’d made them feel like she couldn’t be trusted which was true, she couldn’t. However, now that Jase had practically stepped in the firing line when Benny had the knife to her cheek, she didn’t want to kick him in the teeth. Getting on his good side would be in her best interests if she was going to survive without having to sell her soul. Jase told Madison to go back upstairs without thanking her.

“She literally tried to break out last night, and you’re making sloppy mistakes like that?” Sam said, Jase lips curved upwards slightly.

“It wasn’t a mistake,” he said quietly, he looked down at the blade before slipping it back into his pocket. He now had concrete evidence of what she was trying to do.

“What do you mean it wasn’t a mistake? She could have cut anyone of us.” Jase shook his head, flicking the kettle on and taking two mugs from the pine cupboard above.

“She’s definitely not dumb enough to do something like that,” he said. Sam scoffed, folding his arms as he stared at the back of Jase’s dark curly hair in disbelief.

“We are talking about Madison, right? The one that was stupid enough to try and runaway?”

“Stupid enough to try or smart enough to almost succeed?” he looked over his shoulder at Sam who looked as if he was going to explode and rolled his eyes, turning back to the boiled kettle. “I wouldn’t be so quick to underestimate that girl,” he mumbled as he made them coffees.

“I wouldn’t be so quick to jump to her aid, either,” Sam quipped back. Jase sighed, handing him his drink and sitting down at the table.

“You’re an idiot sometimes, you know that?” Sam sat opposite with a confused expression. “Why does Janine behave herself?” Jase asked. Sam shifted uncomfortably.

“Because she doesn’t mind working-” Jase was shaking his head,

“Don’t lie, we both know no girl on this earth enjoys this job, why does she behave?” Sam didn’t like being questioned even though he was aware Jase already knew the answer, it was still a touchy subject.

“To make my life easier.” Jase smiled,

“Exactly. Because she loves you. See how Madison returned the knife?” he paused for effect and Sam shrugged. “Because she’s now under the impression that if she behaves, I’ll go easier on her, look out for her here and there. And I will because eventually, this house will do the hard work of breaking her down for me.” He still wasn’t quite catching on so Jase elaborated, taking a long drag of his cigarette. “I left the knife in the bed to see how she’d respond, and she did exactly what I expected. She feels like she owes me. Which means she isn’t looking to make my life difficult by being difficult.”

“What are you saying? You’re leading her into a false sense of security?” Jase smirked,

“Exactly.” He said it with such confidence that Sam had no choice but to have faith in his plan. After all, he had a point where Janine was concerned. She wouldn’t dare step out of line because it was difficult for Sam to watch the repercussions and everyone in the house knew how Janine felt.

Jase was a lady’s man, aware of how girls worked, how to make them swoon and pine. Not that he flexed this knowledge. He had always had the same view on women in a man’s life. They were a weakness and a distraction. He felt for Madison, but only because she was young and hadn’t chosen this lifestyle. Deciding he could use that soft spot to his advantage gave him a sense of control, making it a less uncomfortable sensation to experience. Madison had handed back the knife; he knew his plan wouldn’t be too difficult to carry out.

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