The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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Once Janine had finished Madison’s nails, they went to make drinks. Janine closed the kitchen door quietly and turned to face Madison, her demeanour changing completely.

“Did you notice that?” she asked. Madison’s brows furrowed,

“Notice what?” Janine rolled her eyes, sighing as she flicked the kettle on.

“Of course, you didn’t,” she said, “you don’t know what he’s actually like.”

“What are you on about?” Madison sat down at the table, resting her elbows on top, her chin in her palms.

“You’re not allowed to talk about stuff like that,” Janine said. Madison frowned, failing to identify exactly what the problem was.

“Like what? I don’t get it?” Janine chewed her lip, tossing teabags in the mugs.

“Just in that way. Asking questions, it’s too close, too personal. Too friendly...” she trailed off in thought and span around to face her. “What is he like with you? When it’s just you two?” Madison rolled her shoulders,

“Quiet, I guess. He doesn’t say much.”

“But he talks to you?” Another shrug.

“Sometimes. Why?” Janine was shaking her head, eyes narrowed suspiciously.

“It doesn’t make sense,” she muttered. She was being vague and it was frustrating Madison.

“Spit it out, what are you getting at? What was wrong in there?” Janine stared at her, jumping when the kettle clicked. She didn’t say anything again until she’d finished the drinks, placing one in front of Madison and taking the chair opposite. For a few seconds she just studied her, clearly trying to figure something out which was making Madison uneasy.

“Jase has been here for so long, I’ve never seen him be how he is with you before. I’m worried, I think you should be too.” That’s when the ball dropped. Of course, his friendliness wasn’t real. He’d almost had her with his reply as to why he’d let her go. She had been so close to eating out the palm of his hand.

If it hadn’t been for Janine’s warning, she’d have completely missed it.

Jase liked to play games.

He had been close to playing her so well. His one flaw? It made no sense for him to be that nice, not that soon after her trying to escape at least. Step in to get her out of a sticky situation in order to save his own neck? Sure, that made sense. Giving her coke, smiling at her, answering questions he’d refused to answer not long prior to that night? That was suspect.

He was trying to do with her what she was doing with him only, he was making one big mistake; underestimating her.

No one had informed him that she liked to play games too.

She gnawed her lip, feigning discomfort. It would do no harm having Janine feed into it as well.

“What do you think he’s doing?” Madison asked. Janine looked around as if one of the chrome kitchen appliances would give her a glance into Jase’s mind. Unsurprisingly, they all came up short. She sighed.

“I don’t know. Sam won’t discuss house stuff with me.” A dead end. “Just watch yourself around him. This isn’t for nothing.” Madison picked up her mug.

“Maybe he’s not that bad,” she said, Janine scoffed.

“Do you know what he does for this house?” she whispered.

“Picks up and sells girls and drugs,” Madison replied nonchalantly, looking towards the kitchen window they’d had to replace. Janine rubbed her lips together, sitting back and folding her arms.

“Jesus, you’re so naïve,” she sighed, Madison looked at her from the corner of her eyes but said nothing. “He kills people, Madison. In cold blood most of the time. He’s a body-man.” It was a term she was familiar with. Body-men did most of the dirty work, the heavy work. Disposing of bodies, witnesses and various other things. She looked at Janine when she mentioned this. Last night running through her mind when he’d promised there were no children upstairs in the pub.

Had he lied in order to keep her sweet?

Every time it felt like she took two steps forward, it was another three back. The news made her wind her neck in, getting cocky now wasn’t a good idea. She needed more. Janine huffed.

“I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t know if it’s because they were paid to get you and told to look after you or what. Just be careful.” Madison was already aware of why Jase was how he was with her. One thing she could respect him for was that he had the decency to be honourable and follow the old-school rules. You didn’t kick people in the teeth when they stepped in the front of the barrel of a gun for you. Taking the wrap the night she’d escaped, and not throwing him under the bus meant he was in debt to her and he acknowledged it by not letting Benny cut her. For that, she was grateful.

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