The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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Lily would be arriving soon to give the new girls a brief rundown before the showing. Jase decided he wouldn’t do her the disservice of sending her into Madison’s room again. He smiled momentarily as he recalled the worrisome look on Lily’s face after their first meeting.

“She’s going to be difficult,” she’d determined as if Jase hadn’t already figured that out for himself. At least he could admit one thing; she supplied the house with a little entertainment. Madison being there kept him on his toes.

Guests started arriving at half eight and the girls were let out of the rooms. Madison was last. She walked down the stairs casually, an emotional wall up helping her deal with the medieval attitude the men had. Her plan laid out in her head.

She would do exactly what they wanted of her. The naive child was a role she slotted into quite comfortably, being no stranger to deception either. There had been plenty of situations growing up where ‘no Mr Police Officer, my dad isn’t home’ had left her lips knowing he was sat in the kitchen and they couldn’t come in without a warrant.

The two new girls were stood in the corner of the living room, both with brunette shoulder length hair that had been curled, most likely by Lily. Their sunken eyes flickered around nervously; hands linked. Adam was sat in Benny’s chair, looking at them every now and then during his conversation with a large middle-aged man.

Madison had put Adam into his category a while ago, the day he’d laid into Annabelle, to be exact. He was a power-hungry sadist. He loved working at the house, but he probably wasn’t a fan of the pecking order. It was likely he hated Jase stepping in for her and just as likely that he would behave as Benny’s replacement tonight.

She backed out of the doorway and went into the kitchen, where Jase was sat at the table. Once more, he was engrossed in conversation but not too engrossed that he didn’t acknowledge Madison as she walked in. His eyes brushing over her attire. She’d gone for a figure-hugging vest, exposing what could be described as a tasteful amount of cleavage, jeans and heels. It was acceptable but not overly promiscuous like the others. They were mostly forced to wear boob tubes and skirts or tight dresses.

Jase didn’t stray from his conversation as Madison opened the fridge behind him, taking out three bottles. As she went to leave, a bulky balding man blocked her exit. He smiled at her, a smile full of menace, flashing a set of teeth that appeared too small for his mouth.

“Hello beautiful, where have you been all my life?” Madison took a timid step back. Even in heels, he was half a foot taller than her, around the same height as Jase.

“Not here, surprisingly enough,” she replied, his smile widened and he stepped closer. The panic in Madison rose.

“Shame, I would have already spent quite a bit of money on you-”

“Mike, leave her alone,” Jase interrupted from the table. He distracted the man long enough for Madison to slip past, heading straight to the new girls. Adam’s watchful eye remained on them.

“Hey, I’m Madison,” she greeted. They both looked at her as if she’d grew a third head. Exchanging glances between them. Obviously, Lily’s warning had prohibited the girls from speaking to one another, a rule Madison was consciously breaking. She handed the girls a drink which they sheepishly accepted.

“I’m Gabby. This is Tia.” one of them replied. Her eyes darting around to watch out for any signs of a threat over the fact that she’d opened her mouth.

“Are you sisters?” Madison pressed on, her own attention being drawn to Adam briefly, making sure he was watching. The girls nodded in unison. “How old?”

“I’m twenty-two, Tia’s nineteen,” Gabby said, visibly relaxing a little when nothing terrible happened immediately. “You?”


“How long have you been here?” Madison shrugged, she’d more or less lost track of days at this point.

“Around three weeks, I think.”

“You’re not supposed to be talking to us, are you?” Tia said, crossing her arms. Everyone’s go-to defence pose. Madison gave her a noncommittal smile.

“Technically, no,” she lowered her voice, leaning into them, “I just came over to tell you that you’re clearly very uncomfortable and Adam is watching you like a hawk.” As expected, they both looked over to Adam. “I know you’ve both spoken to Lily so I’m sure you know all the rules. If I were you, relax a little, stand up straight. Smile. Just pretend this isn’t the worst place on earth and you’ll have a much smoother time here. Trust me.” Gabby narrowed her eyes, mirroring her sister’s defensiveness.

“Why should we trust you?” Madison looked around, pursing her lips before turning back to them.

“Three weeks here is long enough for me to figure out what goes down well and your body language won’t. It’s all about putting on a brave face.” The girls looked at each other as if seeking permission to believe Madison or not. Whether they did or not was no skin off her nose, she was taking a leaf out of Jase’s book and being nice to them out of self-preservation.

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