The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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“Jase, he didn’t get in the car,” Tommy said, bursting through the front door at half eleven. Jase looked up from his phone. He hadn’t heard anything from anyone in the past two hours.

“What do you mean he didn’t get in the car?” Jase asked, his whole-body tensing. Tommy shook his head, his fingers running through his hair in stress.

“He didn’t get in his car. We think he was tipped off. He left in someone else’s car,” he replied. Jase grit his teeth.

“Where’s Harvey?” The pin dropped with everyone at the same time. Jase jumped up from his chair. “That sly little cunt, I knew we couldn’t fucking trust him.” He pulled a metal box out from under the sofa, taking his keys and opening it up. Inside were two glocks and six magazines. “Adam’s still out there, get him to find out where Harvey is, I want him brought right back here,” he demanded, loading one of the guns and pulling the slider back. Half an hour later, Adam was dragging Harvey through the front door. Apologies were already tumbling through his lips, but not a single denial.

“Please Jase you have to listen to me! They caught me snooping and threatened me. I had to tell them; they were going to kill me!” he shouted, visibly shaking as he was thrown onto the sofa. “Please I didn’t know what else to do, I panicked-”

“Shut up,” Jase said calmly. Harvey took a few deep breaths, his eyes drifting to the gun in Jase’s hand. His relaxed demeanour put Harvey more on edge. “You knew coming into this you could die at any point. Agreeing to do this means you should be willing to take death over talking. Loyalty is very important to me.” Jase looked at Sam. “Go and get Madison.” Sam’s brows furrowed.

“Why?” he asked. Jase pressed his lips together. Madison’s words about lions listening to the opinions of sheep had rested heavy on his mind since she’d said them. He was worried that the mistake he’d made wasn’t in his treatment of her, it was in taking note of others. It was showing them that their thoughts mattered but before he did anything drastic, he wanted to see what Madison was made of. If she was worth the hassle. He needed everyone to at least understand why he treated her differently. It was no use trying to explain to people why Madison wasn’t like the others, they had to see it for themselves. And if it turned out she was like the others; he’d kill her and Harvey then and there and no one would bother questioning him again.

“I want to see how she reacts to seeing someone get shot,” Jase replied. Sam left and returned a few minutes later, Madison strolling in behind him.

“Sam said you wanted me?” she asked, her eyes going from Jase to Harvey who was sweating, hoping Jase’s words about shooting him were just a sick joke. She didn’t even seem minutely bothered by the appearance of the situation.

“Madison, you remember Harvey, don’t you?” Jase asked,

“Why does he look so scared?” She tilted her head at Harvey, like a curious child seeing an animal for the first time at the zoo.

“Because I’m going to kill him,” Jase replied. She nodded slowly but there were no tell-tale signs of distress. Jase’s eyes narrowed, watching her walk in and sit down next to Harvey.

“How old are you, Harvey?”

“Eighteen,” he replied nervously. No one was sure what to make of Madison right now. She was carrying a mischievous aura. She pouted and looked over to Jase.

“He’s just a baby.”

“He’s older than you,” Jase replied. She smiled softly and turned back to Harvey.

“I’m just a baby as well. Here, at least. What did you do, Harvey?”

“He spoke to someone he shouldn’t have,” Jase answered for him, watching Madison’s slow movements as she pushed the hair that was sticking to Harvey’s forehead back.

“Harvey,” she cooed as if he’d done something naughty yet endearing, “you can’t break cardinal rules like that.” Sam looked at Jase, but he wouldn’t take his eyes off of Madison. Harvey blinked and a tear rolled down his cheek. She wiped it away with her thumb. “Don’t cry now, you wanted to run with the big boys, you knew what would happen if you messed up,” she turned back to look at Jase, “I don’t think you should kill him.” Jase’s jaw tensed.

“If I let him get away with it then I’ve got everyone trying to stab us in the back left right and centre.” She rolled her shoulders.

“I know but we all make mistakes. Besides, it would make such a mess, shooting him in here.” Harvey choked on his breath.

“Thank you, Madison thank you-” he stammered but she shook her head.

“Don’t thank me, honey.” She stood up, taking a cigarette from the packet on the coffee table, lighting it and inhaling before she spoke. “You still broke a rule,” she held the cigarette out to him, “have that, calm your nerves a little.” With a shaking hand, Harvey took the cigarette, snivelling as he inhaled. “Jase is right,” Madison spoke again, “the boys can’t just have people running around thinking they can do what they like.”

“If we aren’t going to kill him then what do you suggest we do?” Jase asked. Madison looked down at the coffee table. There was a credit card on it. She picked it up and crouched down in front of Harvey, letting him take one last drag before she removed the cigarette from his fingers and left it to burn in the ash tray.

“Open your mouth,” she ordered softly. He shook his head, pressing his lips together. “Come on, you know how to do it. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be here right now.” The sound of the safety being turned off on Jase’s gun caused Harvey to whimper.

“Do as she says,” Jase ordered. Reluctantly, Harvey abided and Madison carefully slotted the card in his mouth. She looked back at Jase.

“You’ve made him cry, now the least you can do is make him smile.” Sam raised his brows, taken back by the joke Madison had made about the Chelsea grin she was insinuating they gave him.

“Go back upstairs, Madison,” Jase said. She frowned as he stood up, standing next to her.

“Why?” she asked, confused. He looked down at her with kinder eyes than he’d had for days.

“I don’t want you seeing this,” he said gently. Kieran closed the living room door behind her. She was halfway up the stairs when there was a meaty crack and a muffled yelp.

But she felt nothing.

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