The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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Another half-hour passed once they returned downstairs before Madison went back into the kitchen to get another drink. The six men in there were being loud, a more light-hearted atmosphere befell them as their laughter boomed through the house. From what Madison could gather, they were talking about boxing. Jase was fully involved in the conversation as he listened intently, not noticing her behind him in the fridge.

“He’s way too quick, Alex doesn’t stand a chance,” he said, leaning back in the chair, lacing his fingers behind his head. She saw his bottle was almost empty and opened the fridge again, taking one from the shelf and using a lighter to prize the cap off, placing it down in front of him. Jase looked over his shoulder, unaware of her presence, and followed her with his eyes as she left.

Human psychology was something her dad had glossed over with her. Mostly how to deceive people so that if she was ever questioned about him, she’d react accordingly. However, the topic had sparked an interest in her from an early age and led her to research human behaviour on her own.

Jase had been in the house for a long time, making him desensitised to most things. Playing on his sympathetic side would be a waste of time. One thing he did have though, as with most men, was an ego that could be stroked. He was clearly respected, hence Benny listening to him and he desired a peaceful life so the less she acted up, the less hell he would put her through. At least, that was the theory.

All Madison had to do was behave, keep her head down and let him believe he had full control of the situation. For now, she would swallow her pride and play to the patriarchy, put him on a pedestal as if she relied on him. People that said ‘flattery would get them nowhere’ were doing it wrong.

“Fucking hell, you’ve got her well trained,” a friend of Jase’s said. The mixture of cocaine and alcohol definitely aided in swaying his opinion of Madison but he decided he enjoyed her after a line. Or at least, could stand her. It emphasised her confidence and he couldn’t help but find that a little enticing.

After being constantly surrounded by broken girls or the whores at the club who only feigned confidence, seeing it for real was refreshing.

Jase stood up, finding Madison on the sofa in the living room.

“Bunny,” he called, she looked over, now accustomed to the nickname. He jerked his head to signal for her to follow him.

“What’s up?” she asked when they got to the top of the stairs. He walked backwards down the hallway, taking the small bag from his pocket and shaking it in front of her, one brow raised suggestively. Madison smiled,“I thought the girls weren’t allowed to do drugs?” she challenged, he shrugged. With the unwinding feeling the combination swilling in his body gave him, he let her questioning slide. Her constant insistence on pushing the boundaries where he was concerned was even attractive to him at that moment, adding to her confidence.

Most girls in the house did as he said out of fear whereas Madison was more out of respect and selfish reasons, a trait he secretly admired. A trait he held within himself.

“A few lines aren’t going to kill you. Also, I’m the one that makes most of the rules so if I decide to break them, I will,” he chimed in reply, opening her bedroom door. Madison wasn’t an idiot; she knew it was drugs talking. His cockiness came through on cocaine, solidifying the fact that he would have an ego to play on.

Now the ball was rolling, she felt the confidence run through her veins.

“Why do you make rules if you’re just going to break them when you please?” she asked, sitting on the desk so she was facing him as he proceeded to rack up another two lines. He didn’t look up as he sectioned the small pile into two, not hesitating before he responded.

“Because I can.” There it was, the solidification that he liked control. It wasn’t about keeping the girls in line so much as it was a power trip. Because he could. It was a silent flex that what he said was final. It wasn’t even for the punter’s sake which made more sense considering Janine smoked weed and they pumped the girls with heroin when and if they pleased. It was because he was bored.

Madison made a mental note that entertaining Jase was likely her best bet in garnering his attention. That meant being as different from the others as possible as clearly, he had no interest in them whatsoever.

Was that another reason why he kept stepping in the way of her getting into trouble? She narrowed her eyes at him.

Janine’s words looped over in her head again. He liked playing games.

But what was he playing right now?

He took the note out again, rolling it up and holding it out to her,

“Ladies first.” Madison jumped down off the desk,

“Imagine you have manners,” she replied sarcastically, accepting the note, he smirked,

“Watch it.” The second rush was just as good as the first, he’d given her more this time. She stepped away from the phone, tipping her head back as he did his line.

“Why do you call me Bunny?” she asked. The backdrop hit her as he turned around, facing her. She grimaced and Jase offered her his beer. He leaned on the desk once more, folding his arms.

“That night in the alleyway,” he started, a small smile creasing his lips as if he remembered it fondly, “your eyes were so big. Reminded me of a rabbit caught in headlights.” Madison wasn’t expecting him to answer, he’d disregarded the question so many times before.

“Why did you let me go, Jase?” He tilted his head, looking at her and taking in her features. Wisps of her flaxen hair framed her angular face, her hazel eyes wide in question. She was alluring, there was no denying that. The mere thought of just how attractive he found her reminded him of his plan. Make her feel special, appeal to her sensitive side so she’s less inclined to put a knife in his back. Telling her the answer would be easy because he didn’t have to lie.

“We pick up most of the girls off the streets anyway. Girls that already work corners. Promising them better work, housing and so on. Of course, once they’re here and they realise what’s actually going on, it’s too late. When you bumped into me, the fear just took over you. It made you look so young. Too young to be here. And we weren’t out to pick up girls that night anyway. I didn’t see the harm in letting you go.” Madison examined him very carefully but didn’t pick up any notes of deception. For a second, Madison’s devious buzz fizzled out.

He really had tried keeping her from all of this and some arsehole had put money on her head.

She stood up, leaving the room. Jase didn’t know how to feel about the lack of response. He’d expected something, not tears as the cocaine would have put a stop to that, but something.

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