The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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The light stung Madison’s eyes when she opened them, swollen and puffy from crying. Jase was getting dressed. He looked over his shoulder when he heard her stir.

“There’s a showing tonight, make yourself presentable,” he ordered stiffly. She sat up, feeling small and weak. She had no energy. Last night, all she had been able to do was cry. Cry until she was dry heaving just like she had been the night she was taken. It felt as though the world around her had crumbled again and this time, there was no getting out.

Her only plan had failed and as a consequence, she was no longer on Jase’s good side. At least when she’d been playing the role, she had been somewhat protected.

For the first time since she’d arrived Madison was shrouded in hopelessness, real, pure hopelessness. Her chest hurt, constricted and tight. All she could muster in response to Jase had been a small nod before he left her in the room.

Janine was coming out of her room to attend the showing at the same time Madison stepped into the hallway. The noise from downstairs uncomfortably familiar to the pair of them. Janine looked at Madison.

“You’re an idiot for what you tried to do, you know that, right?” she said, folding her arms. Madison nodded, looking at the floor. She’d beaten herself up enough about it. She didn’t need to get it from Janine as well. “He could have killed you, Madison. He could have killed any of us. He still might if you set foot out of line again.”

“I know,” Madison replied, her voice broken and weak from the sobbing. Janine sighed, letting her arms drop. Sam had filled her in earlier about her trying to one up Jase and at first, she’d been impressed. Then she was pissed. Madison playing with fire could have ended badly for everyone in the house. Men’s egos were delicate things and if one happened to get bruised by a house girl, everyone would pay the price just so that a point could be made.

“I warned you. I warned you at least twice that he couldn’t be trusted and you thought you were smarter than him. This is his realm; this is what he does for a living, how could you be so dumb? How could you think you were ahead of him-?”

“I know,” she repeated, louder this time. They stood in silence for a moment before Janine shook her head.

“If I were you, I’d lay low for a while, at least whilst his anger subsides. It’s your safest bet.” This time, Madison listened. They went downstairs, joining everyone else. Even in jeans and a long sleeve top, she felt naked knowing that if someone tried their luck tonight, Jase wouldn’t be stepping foot in the firing line. She was well and truly alone this time around.

Careful not to make eye contact with anyone, she made her way out into the kitchen. The usual drinks set out on the side. Jase was nowhere to be seen.

“Smile, Madison,” Adam said, his voice tormenting her as he walked past. Word had already made its way round about Jase’s switch on her. She forced a smile, knowing better than to defy him. Jase may be pissed at her but it took much less for Adam to let his anger out.

For the first half of the evening, she resided in the corner of the kitchen, sipping slowly from the fruity drink that she didn’t particularly want. Every now and then, men would stare and talk about her openly, the things they would do to her given half the chance. What they’d pay.

Madison didn’t even have it in her to feel revolted. She felt like a shell of the person she had been. All of her fight had been wiped out. There was no point anymore. Her fate was sealed. It would just be easier to do as Janine had instructed, keep her head down. Don’t draw any attention to herself, don’t give Jase more reasons to be angry at her. There was no use in arguing back anymore.

She accepted she wasn’t going anywhere and now she really didn’t want to make her life any worse.

“Is Madison down here yet?” Jase asked when Adam walked into the living room, sitting on the coffee table and taking his cocaine out of his back pocket.

“She’s in the kitchen,” he replied.

“Doing what?” Adam shrugged, shaking the baggy.

“Just standing in the corner.” Jase nodded slowly. He had half expected to have to go upstairs and drag her down but it seemed she was being cooperative. She was giving up. He relaxed, at least there was one good thing to come out of all of this.

It wouldn’t be long now.

It was sad, really. Watching the fight drain from her eyes. It was probably her most redeeming quality, that kick, that fire. He would be lying if he denied any sort of attraction due to how stubborn she’d been. That’s what he liked in his women, more aggression. Not the ones that rolled over, not easy, never easy. It was rather disappointing that he’d had to put a stop to that where Madison was concerned.

But work was just that, work. He wouldn’t waste too much time thinking about the potential Madison had. He certainly wouldn’t let the substances coursing through his veins sway his judgement.

No, the little moments they had shared in the early hours of the mornings were gone, he’d let her be a distraction and that was on him. He should never have let his guard down, not even for a second. It seemed a lesson was to be learned for both of them.

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