The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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27

The world was on its side when Madison opened her eyes. Her head was spinning, and it took her a while to realise she was back in the bedroom. There was a muffled rumble of chatter and music seeping under the door. That’s when she remembered, Sam had said they were having people over.

Lily hadn’t come to do her make-up, so she assumed it wasn’t like a showing, but she figured it wouldn’t look good on Jase if one of the girls came downstairs looking like a slob. Her goal right now was to stay on his good side. The wardrobe doors creaked open; the clothes that had been delivered were hung amongst Jase’s, mostly dark colours.

After routing through the garments trying to find something that didn’t expose too much flesh nor make her look like a child. She opted for a grey vest, jeans and a baggy knitted jumper, throwing her hair up before joining everyone.

There were at least forty people in the house, even some girls. Madison didn’t see Jase in the living room, so she went into the kitchen where he was stood talking to someone she didn’t recognise. His eyes flickered to her in the doorway, noticing that she looked uncomfortable. Still talking, he opened the fridge beside him, taking out a fruity drink and holding it towards her. She shuffled past the people, accepting the bottle as the men finished their conversation.

“She’s new,” the stranger said, nodding at Madison who stood sheepishly besides Jase. The number of people there was unnerving, especially after what had happened with Charlie.

“She’s been here a couple of weeks,” Jase replied, Madison offered a polite smile but didn’t speak, trying to make it clear that she knew her place. “She got high for the first time earlier,” he looked down at her, “how are you feeling now?”

“Sluggish, tired, a little lightheaded.” Both of the men laughed and Jase took a swig from the beer.

“I’ve got something that will sort you out, come on.” He excused himself from the conversation and gestured for Madison to go ahead of him, “upstairs.” They made their way to the bedroom where Jase closed the door, placing his drink on the desk. Madison watched as he reached into his back pocket, pulling out a small square zip-lock full of white powder.

“I’m assuming if you’ve never smoked weed before, you’ve never done cocaine either?” he looked at her, his eyes dark and mischievous. It was at that point Madison worked out he’d been doing plenty already and was probably to blame for his friendly demeanour. She shook her head. Taking out his wallet and a bank card, Jase used a key to scoop out some of the powder. Madison watched in fascination as he meticulously set up two thin lines on the screen of his phone.

“How is this going to make me feel?” she asked, apprehension evident in her tone.

“It’s just going to revive you a bit.” Madison thought back to her brother’s coke driven rages when she was younger and chewed the inside of her lip. Jase seemed to notice her discomfort and smiled softly.“You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to,” he assured. Madison relaxed, it was oddly endearing when he was being sincere.

“I’ll try it if it’s going to make my head feel less heavy.” She stepped towards him and he rolled up a twenty-pound note, handing it over. The space between them was smaller than she ever recalled it being without hostility, and she could smell him. His deodorant, the shampoo he used for the curls that hung perfectly in a dishevelled style and a mixture of beer and cigarettes. It didn’t turn her stomach as she expected it to.

He was looking down at her, leaning his lower back up against the desk, ankles crossed. The short sleeves of his white t-shirt strained against his upper arms. Veins ran like rivers under his lightly tanned skin, a reminder of the summer just passed, down his forearms and over his hands that were casually gripping the edge of the desk.

When he licked his lower lip, Madison realised she’d been stood there just holding the note for what was probably a suspicious amount of time. This was confirmed by the hint of an amused smile on his face.

She’d seen her brother do cocaine enough times, covering one nostril, she leaned over the phone. Almost immediately, it was as if her whole system rebooted as her head tipped back and her heart pounded.

“Wow.” Jase grinned as if he had made it himself,

“It’s good stuff, we don’t really cut it with anything shit.” He said, taking the still rolled up note from her and proceeding to do his own line. Madison sat down on the bed and he wiped his phone on his top, putting everything back in his pockets. That’s when a burnt plastic taste formed in the back of Madison’s throat, a thick phlegm congealing.

“Ugh, that’s horrible,” she grimaced, Jase laughed.

“Backdrop? Yeah, you get used to it, have some of this.” He handed her her drink and she took a few gulps to wash down the unpleasant taste. Jase did the same with his beer.

“Are they all customers down there?” she asked. He shook his head, lowering the bottle from his lips,

“Not really. Some of them are. Most of them are friends.”

“So, they’re all safe?” Jase looked at her, smirking.

“As far as safety goes in this house I suppose. If you mean, is anyone going to act up like Charlie; the answer is no. They’re a relatively respectful bunch and you’re not working anyway so,” he shrugged, lifting his beer bottle again, “it doesn’t matter.” Madison narrowed her eyes at him. His demeanour loosened slightly when he was on substances. Now was the time to take advantage of that.

“Why am I not working?”

“You know why,” he replied. She did, she just wanted to hear him say it but he wouldn’t give her the satisfaction.

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