The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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“What did he say?” Benny asked when Jase got back to the house. He shed his jacket, hanging it before dropping down on the sofa.

“He doesn’t know if he’s going to be able to fork out another ten bags but he’s definitely desperate enough to pay double when she does turn eighteen,” he replied. Benny nodded approvingly,

“Good, he can have a couple of sessions with her and then we can ship her off. She’s caused enough trouble without keeping her longer than necessary.” Jase didn’t say anything. It would save him the trouble of walking the line in case she did decide to open her mouth. He fixed the girls some food, taking up plates of chicken and rice.

Madison was laying on the bed, staring up at the ceiling when he walked in. He was surprised that she hadn’t gone completely stir crazy. It wasn’t often they had a girl there for longer than two weeks. Annabelle was in the process of being handed over once her bruises and split lip had healed. After how badly Adam had roughed her up, they’d postponed the transfer and Janine had various things in her room to keep her entertained along with regular customers.

Jase knew Sam spent a lot of time in there too, but it was none of his business, nor did she put up a fight over working so he turned a blind eye. But Madison had nothing to do. Nothing to do but think.

And thinking was something she did plenty of, more than aware of how delicate the balance in the house was so long as she was there. She spent her days scheming meticulously, hoping and praying that chance worked in her favour with each move she made.

Her eyes flickered over Jase. He was dressed smarter than usual, his hair freshly washed and neater than his usual stylishly rugged look. She could also smell his cologne, a masculine scent with vanilla undertones.

“Have you been on a date?” she asked as he put her evening meal on the desk.

“Not exactly,” Jase mumbled, shutting the door and proceeding to pull his ironed t-shirt off.. He had the body of a well-trained athlete, a perk in his line of work she supposed. The men had to be able to handle themselves. And others. “Why do you ask that?” he questioned, taking a pair of joggers from the wardrobe. Madison shrugged,

“You’ve done your hair, and you’re wearing cologne.” Her focus returned to the ceiling.

“I went to meet someone.” Madison knew better than to ask who, she definitely wouldn’t get a reply. He finished changing into more comfortable clothes before leaving her alone again.

Madison noticing things like his hair being done and his cologne didn’t go amiss. He’d also spotted her eyes grazing over his abs. It was official, she found him attractive and he would use that to his advantage where he could.

He fixed a joint in the living room, watching Adam and Benny play on the Xbox. Sparking it up, he took a deep lungful and tipped his head back, slipping one hand in his jogger pocket. He let his mind drift as the high alleviated him from the stress of his job. It involuntarily settled on Madison, the first time he’d ever seen her, at the shop just after Peter had paid them the money.

Peter had said she’d be on shift so they could get a look at her face but her name tag hadn’t read Madison. Jase made her nervous from the offset, which was partially planned. The idea was to intimidate her into accepting a lift home, and they would be waiting outside her house. It had proven to take longer than originally anticipated. When he’d let her go in the alleyway, his main concern was that she wasn’t the one they were asked to bring in, so it wouldn’t come back and bite him. He could afford to let her slip.

He recalled the heavy wave that came over him when he’d been called from his room to have a look at the Madison girl, only to find her sat on the sofa. He’d silently prayed that she wouldn’t say anything and for whatever reason, she hadn’t. The idiot hadn’t even reported him after their brief encounter in the alleyway but he concluded that was out of fear that he knew where she worked. She’d looked so helpless, hands bound, silently pleading with him.

Why hadn’t she said anything?

Madison piqued his curiosity in several ways, most of all was her thought process. That was something else. The other girls thought if they screamed and cried enough, they’d be let out. They threatened the men saying their families would find them or they would be reported missing. It was rare they were and even then, they were known prostitutes that the media didn’t spend too much time on.

But not Madison.

Madison hadn’t said anything about anyone finding her and they hadn’t seen anything about her being reported as missing. There was something so foreign about her way of doing things.

She’d made a break for it; her mission had failed and then something changed in her. A calmness. The willingness to cooperate. It was all just strange when he really looked into it. But it was more or less exactly how he’d wanted her to behave. She had mentioned that she wasn’t out to make her life harder and she’d toned her attitude down since he’d brought her back. Keeping a low profile, most likely. Jase was high and every now and then, the weed spiked his paranoia. He felt as though he was looking into it too much and shook her from his mind.

“Give me a go,” he said, nodding at the Xbox controller.

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