The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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Madison was on the bed, her knees pressed to her chest and face resting on them. Jase chewed his lip, closing the door and not turning to face her as he thought about his words.

“That shouldn’t have happened,” he said, “I’m sorry.”

“You’re not mad at me?” she replied. His brows furrowed as he placed one of the bottles on the desk and opened them separately with his lighter.

“Why would I be mad at you? He shouldn’t have hit you, even if you did something wrong.” He walked over, handing her a drink and sitting on the edge of the bed. Madison pressed her lips together, and he sighed. “I’m not mad at you, don’t worry.”

“Are you going to get in trouble for what you did? Because it was over me?” Jase scrunched his face up and laid on his back, one arm beneath his head and his legs still hanging over the bed.

“Who am I going to get in trouble with?”

“Benny?” she said, he laughed.

“I won’t get in trouble with Benny, he can’t tell me off.” Madison tilted her head. She shifted so that she was laying on her side, facing him.

“If Benny can’t tell you off... why don’t you want me saying anything about the time I got out or when you let me go in the alleyway?” He turned to look at her. She was still wired but had quietened down since the commotion and the anxiety. He licked his lower lip, conscious that he too, was still on a high. Something about the night had shifted their dynamic. He could perceive her as a person now, after hearing her talk a little about her life on the outside. He looked back up at the ceiling.

“It’s a matter of respect. When I let you go, I wasn’t thinking clearly. I put everyone in this house at risk. If you’d have reported us and they were able to track me down, everyone here suffers. It was a sloppy mistake on my side. If I’m seen making mistakes like that, this whole operation crumbles.”

“How? You’re human too,” she said. Jase smiled at her innocence.

“Bunny,” he sighed, “I can’t put everyone here on the line like that. I owe it to Benny to be able to handle shit properly.” Madison frowned,

“Why do you owe Benny?” She was pushing her luck and knew it. These were personal questions but right now, Jase wasn’t his usual self. She’d learned more about him tonight than she had the whole time she had been there and didn’t totally hate it. In fact, she’d seen a piece of who she believed he really was. And it wasn’t awful. He laughed with her and soothed her and listened to her mindless ramblings.

“He took me in when I was sixteen, helped me get on my feet. If he found out about me letting you go, it would look like I’d thrown him under the bus. After that I wouldn’t be trusted and believe me,” he looked at her, “you do not want to be untrustworthy in this whole thing.” That was something Madison knew all too well. He exhaled a deep breath. “Without this place, I’d have nothing.” It struck Madison that Jase had a life before the house, before the drugs and girls. That maybe he hadn’t exactly chosen this path for himself. Gently, she lifted her hand, removing a stray curl from his face. He didn’t flinch.

“What happened?” she asked feebly, unsure if she was ready to take the step with Jase that made him look like a human. She didn’t know if she could handle seeing him as more than an animalistic misogynist that she knew him as. It would make her plan a lot harder to carry out. He smiled a small sombre smile.

“Believe it or not I didn’t always have the outlook on life I have. But that’s a story for another time. It’s been a long night.” It was the nicest way he’d refused to answer a question. Like Madison wasn’t ready to hear it, he wasn’t ready to talk about it and so she didn’t insist. Instead, she watched him sit up, taking a few mouthfuls of his beer.

“I don’t think I can sleep just yet,” she said. Jase chuckled, shaking his head,

“Yeah, not a chance. I have something for that.” He lifted a little, reaching into his infamous back pocket.

“Not more drugs,” Madison pouted to which he smirked.

“It’s a Xanax. They’re anti-anxiety meds. It’s a downer. It’ll kill your buzz gently, send you straight to sleep.” She bit her lip, unsure if her system could handle anything else. “You don’t have to but you won’t sleep for a good few hours.” It was still dark but she knew it wouldn’t be long before the sky began to discard of the inky black night. She didn’t want to welcome the morning just yet, and the anxiety of the evening had both consumed and exhausted her.

“And it won’t make me feel shit in the morning?” He shook his head, snapping a quarter of the long white tablet off. “And it’s safe?”

“I wouldn’t give you anything that wasn’t’,” he said. Hesitantly, she accepted, placing the small square on her tongue and washing it down. Jase got undressed and Madison followed suit, climbing between the sheets.

“Are you not taking one?” she asked. He was sliding a cigarette out, shaking his head.

“I don’t do Xans.” he replied, watching from the corner of his eyes as she reached for the cigarettes, taking one out for herself. He then closed the packet.

“Why not?” Jase didn’t answer instantly, lighting her cigarette and then his own, inhaling and holding it as he spoke.

“I don’t like the kind of person I become on them.” Madison sat cross-legged, his black Armani t-shirt almost like a dress on her. Her brows furrowed, a little worried.

“What do you mean?”

“You’ll be fine. That piece that I gave you will just send you to sleep but I used to do them quite a bit and they turned me into an arsehole.” Madison leaned across him, tapping her ash in the tray, smirking.

“You mean more so than you already are?” she asked, he laughed lightly.

“Watch it.”

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