The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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Jase woke up when he felt the weight beside him shift. He opened his eyes just enough to see Madison sitting up, yawning. She had taken herself to bed last night before he had finished the game of poker.

“Is the door unlocked?” she asked. He closed his eyes again and hummed a confirmation. A few minutes later, the boiler kicked up as the shower was turned on. A low hum rumbled through the house and assured him wasn’t returning to the dream Madison had played a lead role in.

Rolling onto his back, he let his arm drop out from beneath the duvet, blindly patting around for his jeans, pulling his phone and cigarettes from the pocket. He frowned at the message flashing up on screen from Benny. Jase was to meet Madison’s buyer later. Of course, Benny hadn’t told him the decision that had been made.

Although Benny was technically the boss, as he’d started the entire project, Jase handled nearly everything from drugs to the girls and money. He wouldn’t let his temper get ahead of him like Benny did, making it easier for everyone if he dealt with all the communications. He messaged back, asking what time.

When Madison returned from the bathroom, Jase was still laid on the bed and the room smelled of smoke. Her skin pimpled, the cold air caressing her bare shoulders as she sat with her back to him, pulling underwear up underneath the towel and letting it drop slightly so she could clip her bra on.

“Is Benny back today?” she asked, shaking out a t-shirt that had been folded in the draw. Jase nodded,

“Yeah, so no funny business,” he mumbled, looking over to her once she dressed her upper half. It was once again a piece of his clothing. A grey t-shirt hanging off her small frame.

“I really was just trying to help out last night,” she replied, crawling back onto the bed and looking up at him. He followed her from the corner of his eyes, briefly allowing them to flicker over her bare legs. They were runners’ legs, long and toned, which made sense considering how quick she could move.

“I know.” Her head snapped round to the window as birds sang, a heavy sadness in her chest as she tried to remember what it was like to hear them from the outside.

“Where does Benny go when he isn’t here?” she asked, distracting herself from the solemn reminiscing.

“Home,” Jase replied, taking a drag on his second cigarette of the day.

“He doesn’t live here?” he shook his head, “then who does?”

“Me and Sam.” Madison continued to stare up at him, her doe eyes filled with curiosity. About what, he didn’t bother asking, nor did he particularly care. He wasn’t inviting her in for a conversation. The only thing he cared about today was killing time before the meeting later.

After finishing his cigarette, Jase got dressed and headed to the gym with Sam. The bench press bar came down with a metallic thunk and Jase ducked under it as he sat up, grabbing his water bottle.

“Is she buying it?” Sam asked, switching places with Jase. They were talking about the progress his plan was making with Madison.

“She’s figured out if she cooperates, I won’t make her situation worse than it is, look at last night.”

“You mean about her talking to the new birds?” Sam’s voice was strained as he lifted the bar, bringing it down to his chest, “Yeah, Adam was pissed about that.” Jase shrugged, looking around the gym. It was a Friday, half one in the dim-lit, wooden-floored basement. Grunts and clinks played as a soundtrack to their workout. The whole place smelled of stale sweat and there were only four other people in there, spread out using various different pieces of equipment. No women though, it wasn’t the kind of gym women joined.

“Let him be pissed. Frankly, his temper is getting on my tits,” Jase said. Sam went on to finish his set before replying.

“It’s cocaine. He’s been railing it day and night.” Jase hummed disapprovingly. He was partial to a bit of sniff but what Adam had was a problem and it was causing tension at the house.

“Just keep an eye on him.” He said, resuming his place on the bench. “I don’t want him getting too big for his boots.”

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