The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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“So, any updates?” Janine asked as she jumped onto her bed. Madison sat at the vanity and lit the joint Jase had let them have.

“I basically told him I didn’t mind being his little... plaything or whatever,” Madison replied. Janine grinned, sitting up quickly.

“And what did he say? Because he seemed a less tense downstairs like, he let you pick up a gun, a loaded gun.” Madison chewed her lower lip.

“He didn’t really say much, but it’s working... it’s working a little too well.” Janine’s smile faded.

“What do you mean?” she asked, scooting to the edge of the bed and accepting the joint from Madison who sighed, swivelling around to face her.

“Like, I don’t hate him but I feel like I should? But I find this so exciting. I’ve never been promiscuous or gone out of my way to get a guy’s attention. I kind of enjoy Jase being a bit possessive? It makes me feel vulnerable but safe at the same time?” she shook her head, “I don’t know what to think. Is this Stockholm Syndrome?” Janine giggled.

“Could be,” she replied, “or you have a kink.” Madison’s brows furrowed.

“A kink?”

“Come on, you know what a kink is, surely?” Madison blushed.

“Isn’t that like, when people like feet or something?” Janine looked at her with adoration.

“No, that’s a fetish and there are loads of different fetishes. A kink is different. It’s just something that excites us that isn’t usually sexual, a fetish is usually the involvement of something else.” Madison nodded slowly. “Either way, it’s no biggie. It will make all of this bearable for you and convincing for him because you’re not actually putting it on.” Janine was right, but that wasn’t what Madison was concerned about. She was worried about becoming invested. Sure, there was some sort of relationship there before but now Jase was making her feel foreign things, things she didn’t know how to digest.

“It’s all new, and I don’t know how to feel about myself because of it,” she said meekly.

“Embrace it. Don’t drive yourself mad, it’s not uncommon,” Janine said, handing Madison the joint back as she came to lay beside her on the bed. The higher Madison got, the more at peace she felt about things. She watched the smoke roll out of her lips and climb up to the ceiling in thick wisps.

“What if I’ve even started feeling fascinated over him killing people?” she asked. Janine shrugged.

“We all love a bad boy.” Madison looked at her.

“Yeah, but not a fucking murderer, Janine.” They laughed. Madison took another drag and passed it back. “I think I might be going insane you know?” Janine looked at her.

“That’s probably for the best in this place. They’re all a bit fucked in the head so it would do well to be on their level. As I said, match him,” she replied, taking Madison’s words in her stride. She’d seen enough in the house to find very little shocking these days.

“How do you feel about the stuff Sam does?” Madison asked.

“I’m neither here nor there with the things Sam does. He’s Jase’s best friend but he’s the sweetheart out of all of them. But I do like when he gets into a bad mood, I have to admit.”

“If he’s Jase’s best friend, why does Jase still make you work?” Madison rolled onto her side, facing Janine who was blowing smoke in small O’s. Her vision was glazed over, everything was blurry.

“He’s got a job to do, doesn’t want Sam getting too distracted and that’s like, paying my rent.”

“Why isn’t he bothered about there being rumours where you two are concerned?” Janine passed the last two drags back to Madison.

“Because Sam is known as the lenient one and I’ve known him for the better half of my life. Adam’s the angry one. Jase is Top Boy. He’s kind of unpredictable. When a girl like you comes along and he switches up, it’s red flags everywhere because you look like a weakness. It makes you a target as well if people think he’s attached...” she trailed off before quickly looking at Madison, “are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“I’m so high I don’t think I can think, but go on,” Madison sighed airily. Janine sniggered.

“Do you think he’s still looking out for you?” Madison’s brows furrowed.

“He’s only just stopped being an arsehole,” she said. Janine rolled her eyes and shook her head.

“You got the result of Jase being pissed that you outsmarted him for all of a week. You should be dead, Madison. And he still won’t let anyone touch you. He let you pick up a gun. I think this is just his way of keeping that shelter on you, you know? Because I won’t lie, you’ve done so many things that you should have got a slap for.” Madison smiled a little, considering her words. She had a point. The positions had shifted, but the results were the same; Madison wasn’t to be touched.

“He wanted to stop all of the rumours. I don’t see how any of this does that?” She reached over, stubbing the roach into Janine’s ashtray.

“Because you’re no longer ‘the girl that Jase protected’ you’re ‘Jase’s pretty plaything’ he’s dehumanised your title which means no one will think anything of him paying attention to you. As far as they’re concerned, you’re just someone he fucks and he doesn’t want other people stirring his porridge. Which is normal behaviour from Jase.” Madison considered the light Janine had shone on the dynamics of the relationship Madison had with Jase before shaking her head.

“Nah, I don’t think his intentions there are based on my well-being. I think he’s just making a point. As you said, he likes control and that’s exactly what I’ve given him. He won’t continue being an arsehole for the sake of it, it’s too much effort,” she replied. Janine hummed, a little disappointed.

They sat in silence for what felt like an eternity before there was a heavy knock on the door that then opened without waiting for a response.

“Madison, come on,” Jase said, leaning up against Janine’s doorframe. Madison climbed over Janine to get off the bed.

“Night Mads,” she said.

“Goodnight,” Madison replied, walking past Jase to her room. She fell asleep the second her head hit the pillow.

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