The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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79

The party died down; stragglers stayed behind in the living room. Janine and Madison had sat back down a while ago, their buzz dissipating. Madison watched as Janine fell asleep on the table before standing up to see where the boys had got to. She found them in the kitchen, sat around a pile of money, cards in their hands. Jase looked up, taking a cigarette from his lips and blowing smoke to the side.

“What are you doing?” she asked, leaning her shoulder on the doorframe.

“Playing poker,” he replied.

“Want to play?” Kieran offered. He was polite, she decided. That, or he really valued where he stood with Jase and therefore, was very respectful of her.

“I don’t know how,” she replied, walking in.

“I’ll teach you,” Jase said, sitting back in his chair and pulling her down so she was sat between his legs. He put the cigarette in his lips, reaching his arms around her, so his hands were on the table and lifting the corner of the two cards he had face down. “Look at them,” he said. She did, tilting her head to see an Ace and a Jack. “You’re trying to get either a pair, two pairs, three of a kind, four of a kind, a full house which is a pair and a three or flush,” he explained, Madison lifted her thumb to her lips, keeping the tip between her teeth and crossing the other across her waist. Jase stubbed his cigarette out.

“You’re playing with real money?” she asked, looking at the pile of twenties and tens in the middle. Tommy nodded,

“No point fucking around with chips,” he replied. Madison looked over her shoulder at Jase.

“I don’t want to lose your money,” she said, he smiled, shaking his head.

“It’s fine, there’s plenty of it.” She turned back to look at the flop being laid out and wondered how much money he actually made if he was casually throwing twenties into the pot.

“Your turn,” Sam said to her. She looked at the three cards laid out, there were two aces and a two of hearts.

“What do I do?”

“You can fold, which means you’re out, or you can match him and put £40 in, or you can raise by however much you want,” Jase explained. She nodded, putting her hand over his to get him to lift the cards again. She slid £60 into the middle. “Raise twenty,” Jase said for her. Kieran matched, Sam folded and everyone turned their cards over. Madison’s eyes flickered over each hand.

“Did we win?” she asked, looking back at Jase again. He lifted his chin, so he could see over her, checking everyone’s cards and nodded.

“Yeah, you got three of a kind.” Madison smiled.

“I like this,” she decided out loud. He laughed lightly.

“Get the money then.” She leaned forward, picking up all the twenties and putting them into a neat pile, she counted £260.

“How do you make it look like all your money is legal? Like, how do you pay for your car and stuff?” she asked, watching Sam shuffle and deal the cards. He looked through his lashes at Madison and then to Jase behind her before replying.

“You mean how we launder it?” he questioned. She shrugged.

“Yeah.”

“We’re registered as scouts for a legitimate business,” Jase replied.

“What, like talent scouts?” she asked, her brows furrowed. Tommy sniggered.

“Yeah, to see who can suck the best dick,” he mumbled. The boys laughed and Madison blushed. Jase smiled at her with a sense of endearment at the sight of her pinkened cheeks.

“Something like that,” he said. Madison played a few more games before she turned side on to the table, swinging her legs over one of Jase’s and resting her head on his shoulder. Jase was aware of everyone watching and decided it wouldn’t be wise to let them think she was too comfortable around him. “If you’re tired, Madison, go to bed,” he said quietly, checking his cards.

“I’m not tired,” she replied, her voice distant as she began to drift off.

“That wasn’t a question, go on.” She remained where she was for a second before admitting defeat and standing up.

“Night guys,” she mumbled.

“Night Madison,” Kieran replied, the others didn’t say anything.

Sam was next to leave, then Tommy left once the sky started to lighten. Kieran sat with Jase, chain-smoking at the kitchen table.

“She seems like a good girl, Madison,” Kieran said. Jase pursed his lips, tapping ash in the tray.

“She has her moments,” he replied.

“I heard there was quite a bit of trouble when she first arrived, something about her head-butting Charlie?” Jase smiled at the memory.

“He deserved it. You know what he’s like. If it wasn’t for the fact that I had to stop him laying into her, I’d have probably laughed.” Kieran chuckled, picking up his beer bottle.

“She seems pretty taken with you,” he said. Jase took a slow drag on his cigarette, watching Kieran from the corner of his eyes.

“What do you mean?” Kieran shrugged.

“She just seems to like you. She smiles at you and shit. It’s like how Janine looks at Sam.” Jase rubbed his lips together, moistening them before they started cracking due to the cold weather.

“She’s a smart girl,” he said, “she knows it’s easier to do as she’s told than constantly put up a fight.”

“You slept with her yet?” Kieran questioned, finishing off his drink. Jase blew out the last lungful of smoke, shaking his head as he leaned across the table to put the cigarette out, speaking as he did so.

“She’s only seventeen.”

“When is she eighteen?” Jase paused; he hadn’t really thought much about it. He had assumed Peter would know because he would have had Madison’s paperwork for her to work for him. It dawned on him that it was quite possible her birthday could be any time soon.

“I don’t know.” He rubbed his forehead, his comedown had started prematurely. “I’m going up mate, there are more beers in the fridge, help yourself.”

Madison was still awake when Jase walked into the bedroom, most likely due to the cocaine still in her system. She had pulled the duvet up so that only the top half of her face was visible. “When’s your birthday?” he asked.

“October 2nd, why?” Jase nodded slowly, pulling his black t-shirt off from the back of his neck. That was a little over two weeks away.

“Because that’s when you’re going to Peter, I’m assuming he knows when your birthday is?” There was disappointment in her eyes which Jase ignored as she nodded. He chewed the inside of his lip, “I thought he might.” Nothing more was said between them before they both fell asleep as the birds started to sing.

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