The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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Madison sat in the chair Jase had been in the night they’d taken her. She crossed her legs, sipping the tea. Jase and Adam were sat at the table, cutting, weighing and bagging cocaine.

“What does Ramon want us to do about it?” Adam asked, slotting a small square of folded card in a tiny zip lock. Jase shrugged, using his switchblade to chip off the white powder from the large brick in front of him.

“Tell him how things work around here where the drugs and girls are concerned,” he responded. Madison tried not to eavesdrop, not that it made a difference, she wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. She concentrated on other things like the tall oak bookcase that had numerous DVD’s slotted on the shelves, the wear on the grey carpet and the tobacco-stained blue walls.

She imagined that at one point, the house had probably been a cosy home. Kids may have sat in front of the TV, watching cartoons, an old lady may have knitted in the corner. It was odd to think that she could have walked past so many houses where awful things were happening inside and be none the wiser. So many people could walk past this house and be the same.

“And if he doesn’t listen?” Adam asked Jase.

“We rough him up a bit,” The girls were looking at each other, listening intently.

“What if he refuses or fights back?”

“We put a bullet in his head, obviously.” The casual tone Jase had said it in was so cold that the hairs on Madison’s arms stood up and Janine broke eye contact, looking down at the second joint Sam was rolling.

“When are we going to pay our friend a little visit?” Adam continued, not so much as blinking at Jase’s words.

“As soon as I find out where he hangs around.” And that was that. Janine’s words were even more profound now in regards to Jase and how callous he was.

“Are you having people around tonight?” Janine asked Sam who nodded.

“Yeah, Benny isn’t back for a few days. Are you staying downstairs or you going up?” he asked, licking the thin paper of the joint and handing it to her. Janine sat up straight, lighting it and taking a deep lungful.

“Do I have any customers today?”

“Four. First one is at three.” She nodded, seeming unfazed by her line of work.

“And the others?”

“Hourly.” She exhaled the smoke out in thick clouds, looking at Madison.

“I’ll see how I feel,” Janine decided, holding the joint out towards her, “want some? It takes the edge off of everything.” Madison nibbled her lower lip. Jase spoke as she leaned forwards to accept it.

“Bunny, have you ever smoked weed before?” She looked at him, stopping in her tracks. He wasn’t looking back at her as he continued to break apart their product.

“No...” she replied nervously. What Lily said about the girls not being allowed to do drugs sprang to mind. Her heart pounded, assuming she was going to get into trouble for even thinking it was okay. But Jase sniggered, looking at Sam who was also smirking and then he looked over his shoulder at her.

“And you don’t smoke either?” She shook her head and he shrugged, turning his attention back to what he was doing.

“You’re cleaning up your own sick if you green out,” he mumbled. Janine smiled, standing up to give the joint to Madison.

“You’ll be fine,” she assured, “you know how to do it?” Madison shook her head, feeling childish and inexperienced. She felt stupid at the fact that she was embarrassed. “Breathe in, then breathe in again, not too deep because you’ll choke.” She followed Janine’s advice, coughing after taking it back, her eyes watering. The boys laughed which was a peculiar sound within itself, it seemed too normal to happen in the house. Too at ease.

“Adam, go get her some water,” Jase said, taking the joint from her and toking on it himself. Adam came back in handing a still coughing Madison the glass. She proceeded to chug. Eventually, her throat stopped feeling like it had been rubbed with sandpaper.

“You good?” Jase asked, she nodded.

“Okay, yeah, I know how to do it now.” He raised his eyebrows,

“You want more?” She rolled her shoulders, sitting up as if to prepare herself properly.

“Well yeah, I don’t feel anything, so I guess.” He licked his lower lip, seeming to toy with the idea of a stoned Madison. Deciding it would do no harm, considering people tended to soften when they were high, he handed back the joint. She took four more drags before giving it back to Janine.

“How are you feeling?” she asked. Everyone was observing Madison, who was smiling as she bobbed her head, sinking down into the armchair.

“Nice,” she murmured. Jase breathed a small laugh, watching the previously rather hostile and anxious Madison progressively become one with the furniture.

“Bloody hell,” he said.

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