The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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“I heard what happened last night,” Benny said when Jase eventually showed his face downstairs. He nodded, ruffling his hair and sitting down on the sofa. Starting his morning routine of joint rolling. “We’re going to have to get more girls. We’re going out tonight.”

“Should probably try a new area, where the girls haven’t just disappeared so they aren’t as cautious,” Jase said, his words muffled slightly due to the rolled card between his lips. Benny studied him, tilting his head to the side.

“I also heard about what you did to Mike.” Jase didn’t look at him, still concentrating on rolling the joint. “Some of the boys are worried that she’s getting to you, Madison. That you’re not how you used to be.”

“Is that so?” Jase asked, disinterested as he sat back, licking the paper. Benny sighed.

“I agree with them. You’re softening.” Jase lit the joint, inhaling deeply. He blew the smoke up towards the ceiling, watching it twist and fade before looking back at Benny, poking his tongue in his cheek.

“Softening? Last night, I shot a man point-blank for beating one of the girls until she stopped breathing. Last week I burned a pub down. A few days ago, I threatened to cut Oliver in front of his toddler. Some of your boys want to watch whose name leaves their lips and what they’re saying,” he said. Benny hummed in thought. Then he nodded.

“You’re right, some of them have nothing better to do. Everyone feels like they’re walking on eggshells right now with this McKinney shit. They want to point fingers somewhere.”

“I’m sorting it,” Jase assured. He usually paid no mind to anything any of the runners said but it wasn’t wise to go around saying someone was softening which essentially, in their world, translated to weakening. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, Benny.” Benny was nodding,

“I know mate, I shouldn’t question you but all of this has me nervous too. He hasn’t shot back yet and I haven’t heard anything. It’s making me question who we can trust.” Jase’s eyebrows twitched up,

“And you want to question if you can trust me?” Benny shook his head fervently, eyes wide as he sat forward.

“No. No, of course not. You’re probably the only cunt I can trust.” His knee was bobbing up and down. Jase took another few drags before Benny spoke again. “Shit’s just crazy right now. McKinney has really put a downer on everything. I just want to know what’s going on.”

“When have I ever let you down?” Benny didn’t answer, chewing his lip. The truth was, Jase had never not pulled through on anything. Even deals Benny was unsure of, Jase had jumped right in and got his hands dirty. “I’m dealing with it. He’s probably just a bit shook. I doubt he expected anything to come of turning down Ramon’s offer of working with him. He’ll either disappear or he’ll get buried, it’s not a problem,” Jase said calmly. Benny smiled, stopping his fidgeting.

“Yeah, you’re right. I’m worrying over nothing. I can count on you.” Jase continued to smoke, grateful that Benny was so easily distracted away from a conversation about Madison. Every day, the line between her and Jase became more and more warped. He needed to take a step back, that much he was aware of.


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