The Cunning (Book 1/2)

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Madison stared at the cream coloured walls once Jase had left the room. After he’d told her what state the girl had been left in, she had swallowed her pride a little. It settled in that she wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

This was real. It was happening, and it was happening to her. She didn’t even turn to see who walked in when the door clicked open softly an hour later.

“Hey, Madison, right?” Madison looked up at the smiling face of the unfamiliar girl as she lowered herself onto the edge of the bed. She was vibrant and cheerful; it was obvious she didn’t live in the house.

Madison narrowed her eyes suspiciously.

“Who are you?” She asked, watching the stranger put her handbag down and unload a collection of eyeshadow palettes, mascaras and lip glosses.

“I’m Lily. The boys usually get me to come by and see new girls, give them the rundown. They find it takes a weight off their shoulders, and it’s nice for you to be able to talk to another girl.” She was so blasé about it, as if they were newcomers to a summer camp rather than a makeshift brothel. The nonchalance stunned Madison into silence. “Now, I know the situation is scary, that’s completely understandable.” She lowered her voice to come across as sincere and Madison wanted to slap her. As if she had any idea. If she did have any idea, she wouldn’t be so fucking bubbly. “I am sorry that you’re in this awful house, but I’m here to tell you how to get by, you can tell me about things like periods and stuff like that, don’t be shy, I’m your friend-” Madison snapped out of the silence at the audacity,

“Friend? Fucking friend? If you were any sort of woman, you’d see to it that this place was burnt to the ground with those boys in it. Do you know what they plan to do with me? What they do to the other girls here?” she hissed, the burning tears of anger threatening to spill. The gruesome image of that poor girl being struck repeatedly flashed through her head. Lily pursed her lips. She had been on the receiving end of the girls lashing out more than once and she knew patience was her best option. Madison sneered at her, almost repulsed by her presence. “You are not my friend so don’t, for one second, come in here and act like any of this is okay.” Lily tilted her head back and closed her eyes. She’d seen plenty of faces come and go through this house. It never got any easier but Madison was by far the youngest and her hope for life poured out of her, that childish innocence made Lily’s heart ache. She was mad and rightfully so.

“Okay, I’ll cut the shit,” she said, dropping the overly happy tone. “You think because I’m here and not being forced to sell my body means that everything that goes on under this roof sits well with me? It doesn’t, not even a little bit. But unfortunately, I’m Adam’s sister and if you’re not part of it, incriminating yourself, you’re a loose end. And I’m sure you can imagine what they do to them.” Madison didn’t respond. “I really am sorry.”

“No, you’re not. You would have gone to the police or something-” Lily was already shaking her head,

“It isn’t that simple. Adam is the only family I have, other than my daughter, and he pays my bills for me to do this. If I were to grass, his sister or not, it would be game over for me.” She saw the redness in Madison’s eyes and was overwhelmed with pity. The other girls were often girls the boys had picked up off of the street. They usually had drug habits and being in the house wasn’t a far cry from what their life had been outside of it. Madison’s situation was a tragedy in every way, shape and form. She was beautiful, young and probably had a lot more going for her than the others.

But Lily wasn’t there to feel sorry for them or convince them that the house was anything more than what it was. She didn’t waste her time telling Madison it wasn’t that bad and that she’d be cared for. She wouldn’t disrespect her by being condescending. Her job was to make the girls believe that giving up was the better option, the safer and smarter option. Madison swallowed the lump that was swelling in her throat.

“Why me?” her words came out as a strained croak and Lily sucked in her lower lip before leaning forwards and tenderly embracing her petite frame.

“The only advice I can honestly offer is to keep your head down, and your mouth shut. Sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do.” Madison let herself melt into the comforting hold, trying to pinpoint her feelings as tears streamed down her already sore cheeks for what felt like the millionth time. Lily was right, but not in the way she had intended to be right.

Something inside Madison was slowly turning clogs. Crying wasn’t going to get her out of there. She needed to pull herself together and stop looking so pathetic.

Lily sat back and dried Madison’s eyes, putting cream on her lids to take down the puffiness.

“The men don’t like to see the girls sad. It fucks with their conscience,” she said softly. Madison took a deep breath and nodded, deciding it would be wise to listen to her right now. To learn the ins and outs of the house and the people that resided there. If she ever wanted to get out then first, she had to come to terms with, and find out everything.

As Lily applied Madison’s make up and twisted her hair into a bun, she informed her of the house rules. The girls weren’t allowed to swear, drink too much or smoke because it was all seen as unattractive.

“They literally force the girls to take drugs, that doesn’t make sense?” Madison said. She was looking upwards as Lily brushed on yet another layer of mascara as she scoffed, sitting back and sliding the wand back in the tube.

“Does any of this really make sense? Half the time they just pick and choose when they enforce these rules anyway, it’s whatever suits them,” she sighed, “they’re men; we’re puppets to them in here. They dress us up and sell us off.” Madison didn’t appreciate the way she said ‘us’ as if she suffered half as much as the others. “The bottom line is don’t talk back, don’t refuse them and just keep to yourself. Drawing attention isn’t going to improve your situation but at least you’re not making it more difficult.” They finished up in silence. Madison stared at herself in the mirror, unfamiliar with this new reflection in the outfit they had picked. The form-fitting black dress that revealed both her cleavage and legs was way out of her comfort zone. Lily stopped at the door, looking over her shoulder. “I know you think I’m just as bad as them but listen to me and hold on, yeah?” she said, though she was unsure what Madison would be holding on for.

“I hope for your sake your beloved daughter never gets wrapped up in a house like this,” she replied bluntly, her voice monotone as she entered a disassociating state. Lily nibbled her lip and decided the conversation was best left there.

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